Really, it’s a fun comic. You should read it.

§ March 17th, 2016 § Filed under collecting, superman § 15 Comments

So here’s a Superman comic that I bought off the stands way back in 1983. That’s a scan of the actual comic, straight out of my collection, up there. There’s nothing particularly of-note about it, as individual issues go. It’s not a key issue, no first appearances (aside from Superman’s “brother,” whom I believe is never seen again), not particularly scarce by any means. Just your plain ol’ Superman comic, with a dime-a-dozen Gil Kane cover, and yet another art job, the latest in a string of hundreds of assignments on the character, from Curt Swan. Another story by Cary Bates (plot only this time, scripted by Paul Kupperberg).

So, you know, nothing special…

…we thought at the time.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to wander into a local newsstand (or even my own store, though that dispels the nostalgia somewhat) and be able to pick up a new Superman comic, with another wonderful Gil Kane cover like the one above, with more beautiful Curt Swan art, written by either Cary Bates or Paul Kupperberg…or, you know, both. Or with Kurt Schaffenberger art. Or with Elliot S! Maggin scripts.

Or…well, you get the idea. The Superman comics were always just sort of there, but looking back at them today, knowing that exact style of Superman comic will likely never return…well, they all seem a little more special now.

Even the ones where Superman meets a brother he didn’t know he had. No, really. And his brother’s a secret agent! It’s all pretty awesome.

EDIT: See the comments for more comic book appearances of Superman’s brother.

I’ve been thinking about these panels ever since I first came across them a few days ago.

§ March 14th, 2016 § Filed under captain america § 6 Comments

From Captain America #237 (December 1979) by Chris Claremont, Roger McKenzie, Sal Buscema, and Don Perlin…here’s a great panel transition aided by some timely (heh) and gratuitous logo insertion:



Seems like we don’t see the ol’ “character logo inserted into dialogue/captions” as much as we used to. Yeah, the recent issue of Action has the Superman “S” as a graphic element in Clark’s caption boxes, but that’s not the same as him shouting “THIS IS A JOB FOR SUPERMAN” and the “Superman” in the word balloon is represented by the actual Superman logo.

Then again, maybe I’m just not reading the right comics. Anyone else spotted any in-dialogue use of superhero logo iconography lately? …There’s a question you probably don’t get asked often enough.


§ March 13th, 2016 § Filed under old § 7 Comments

(Additional data may be located here.)

And a happy non-47th birthday to fellow blog trekker pal Andrew!

Unless you all were already familiar with her and were just holding out on me.

§ March 11th, 2016 § Filed under cartoons § 7 Comments

So the other day I acquired a number of mid-1960s Gold Key comics, including a couple issues of the long-running Bugs Bunny series. Now, for years, it seems as if the Bugs Bunny comics, and the other Warner Bros. animated family of comics from Dell and Gold Key, have been forgotten by God and man and been shown no love in the back issue marketplace. I think, in the nearly three decades I’ve been at this, I’ve had requests for Warner Bros. back issues only a handful of times.

(Wait, I should add a caveat here…there were lots of requests specifically for Marvin the Martian, more often than not for tattoo ideas, and even that went away with the advent of Google Images. But aside from that, very few requests for Warner Bros. comics that could actually be realistically fulfilled, since Marvin 1) never had his own title, and 2) hardly, if ever, appeared in other Dell/GK books as far as I could tell.)

Part of the problem is, unlike the Disney books which had Carl Barks and a few other “name” artists, I don’t believe the Warner Bros. comics ever had their own “Good Rabbit Artist” spurring on collectors to acquire their titles (though it should be noted Barks did draw a Porky Pig story that includes Bugs). As such, I remember having at the previous place of employment issues of Bugs Bunny going back to the ’40s for as cheap as four or five bucks, or even less. I’d often use them as an example as “no, just because a comic book is old doesn’t mean it’s expensive.”

“Then why would you even buy any Bugs Bunny comics for your shop?” you may be wondering. Well, frankly, they were more or less thrown in with the other comics…as I was totaling up the books, I noted to the buyer I wasn’t going to pay much of anything for the BBs as I would likely never sell them, and as he was just looking to unload the whole lot, he was fine with that.

Thus, that is how I ended up with issue #108 from November 1966, featuring the premiere appearance of Honey Bunny:

“Who?” you ask? Well, “Who?” I also asked, and I figured it was just a one-shot character that was never seen again. Here’s another shot of her from inside the book:

I went to that inerrant font of all human knowledge, Wikipedia, and sure enough, there’s an entry on her which has informed me that she actually stuck around in one form or another until the ’90s. Not starring in cartoons (aside from perhaps a cameo here and there), but primarily in the comics and some merchandising, only to be replaced with the arrival of Lola Bunny in the film Space Jam.

And that’s how I found out about an obscure outlier in the Warner Bros. cartoon family, one that had actually seen a bit of use over the course of a few decades without ever significantly crossing over into wider animated visibility and into the general public’s consciousness. I mean, even Gabby Goat only made it into a couple old cartoons, and we all remember Gabby Goat, right?

In which I’m basically just rewriting something I posted in 2013.

§ March 9th, 2016 § Filed under retailing, self-promotion § No Comments

So this week’s Question over at Trouble with Comics is about “enhanced” covers (versus the variant cover topic we covered last week), and what we thought about ’em, and whether there were any we liked, et cetera, et cetera. I threw an answer or two into my response, including one cover I discussed on this site, lo, a decade ago now so I supposed enough time had passed to revisit it.

Fellow Troublemaker Logan had this to say in his own response:

“With the possible exception of the poly-bagged Deadpool card, can any retailer still move their copies of X-Force #1 at even face value? Yet it still gets mentioned in conversations regarding how many copies were sold, how popular the book was, and so on. The only gimmick to it was that there were different trading cards bagged with each issue,* and I don’t recall there being a shortage on any particular card, Mike Sterling would have a better memory of that though.”

The asterisk there was to an editorial footnote reminding us of the “reverse image UPC boxes” which I’d somehow driven out of my mind, though apparently that was a big deal in regards to how “collectible” and “rare” any particular variant of X-Force #1 happened to be. And by “collectible” and “rare” I mean “just slightly more copies of X-Force #1 out there than, say, grains of sand.”

Now, as I do recall, the cards themselves were available in equal numbers. It’s been a couple of decades, but that’s my recollection. But as I noted in this post from a few years ago (where I note the then-decline of Deadpool’s recent popularity and the lack of any kind of promised Deadpool movie…boy, that’s almost “political pundit” levels of foretelling, there), those comics sold like crazy, and even sells once in a while to this day. Yes, even at more than face value. Why, one can get upwards of $3 to $5 bucks per copy, even! Not very often, no, but it does happen.

There is still no shortage of these in the direct market, especially at stores that were open at the time, and even in new stores like mine where they just kinda turn up whether you’re trying to buy ’em from collections or not. And I think it’s because of that proliferation that, even now, even after an actual Deadpool movie is in honest-to-God real-life movie theaters and viewed by presumably willing audiences, there is, like I noted in that old post, still negligible interest in the Deadpool appearances in those early X-Force comics. I mean, people still want those New Mutants #98s with his first appearance, sure (I even had one in my shop for about five minutes last week before it was claimed), but that Deadpool trading card edition of X-Force #1, or that story with Mr. ‘Pool in #2…nope, no one’s biting yet, movie or no.

Looking a gift Swamp Thing in the mouth.

§ March 7th, 2016 § Filed under swamp thing § 7 Comments

Swamp Mark noted

“i don’t think you’ve said a word about the new Swampy series. which is a shame because Wein and Jones are knocking it out of the park!”

I thought I mentioned it at some point…probably it was on the Twitterers, where I said, after reading the first issue, that it didn’t really do anything for me until the antagonist shows up in the back half of the issue. The series as a whole so far, now that we’re at the half-way point, is…well, it’s okay, I think.

I have no beef with the art. If we can’t have Bernie Wrightson back, Kelley Jones is just dandy, giving us weird, goopy, and creepy illustrations as is befitting a Swamp Thing title. Jones, of course, has drawn Swamp Thing many times over the years, and he’s always welcome.

Swampy’s other creator, Len Wein, is back on writing chores, however, and…well, I don’t know. It’s fine, but…okay, this is mostly on me, I suppose, in that the original ’70s Swamp Thing comics still have a strong appeal, so expecting this new series to compete with my own nostalgic feelings for the older work is very unfair. You Can’t Go Home Again, is what I believe I’d said on Twitter, and that’s probably more aimed at me than it is at Wein. The tone of the scripting just doesn’t feel the same…and why should it, I guess. There is this thing with Swampy’s dialogue that seems out of character, with his talking about kicking something’s ass here, and this bit of business there:

…which doesn’t sound right to me.

I just paged through the most recent issue, #3, again since it happened to be sitting here, and like that first issue, the story didn’t really grab my attention until the latter part of the comic, which leaves on a cliffhanger that genuinely left me looking forward to its resolution.

But even that brought up an issue with me, which is one that’s probably out of Wein’s hands, and that’s the New 52 continuity. Again, this is an issue that bugs me, The Guy Who’s Read Swamp Thing Comics for Nearly Four Decades, and may not be a problem for someone coming to the character fresh, but there’s the big disconnect between what has come before, and the New 52 version of events. Given that we were reintroduced to the “plant that thought it was Alec Holland” version of Swamp Thing post-New 52, I was able to imagine that the adventures we read of that version of Swampy still existed, more or less, even with the changes to Arcane. But, with the return of a certain old supporting character in this issue, unless there’s a lot of weird backstory to be revealed, one of the classic Alan Moore stories from early in his run now appears to Never Have Happened. (It also futzes up a small bit of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, for that matter.)

I can sort of understand the decision…why remain committed to a piece of continuity from decades ago when you’re trying to do new comics for hopefully new readers who may, at best, only know the most basic information about the character’s concept? Not to mention the fact that, referring to those old events involving said supporting character, none of them were experienced by this version of Swamp Thing anyway, if you follow me. It’s not like the Alec Holland-version of Swamp Thing is suddenly going to shout “B-b-but you’re DEAD!” when as far as he knew, that character was just fine and dandy when he last saw him.

Ignore all that if there’s a big reveal in the next issue that this was all a trick and it isn’t really that supporting character but some old enemy in disguise or something.

Anyway, wrapping up…I like the series. The art’s great, and the writing’s tone is taking me a while to warm up to but it’s fine. The continuity issues are a thing, which undermines the proceedings a bit, but that’s because I’m old and read all that stuff so it’s still in my mind when I read this new stuff. But to paraphrase those brilliant philosophers, “it’s just a comic book, I should really just relax.”

EVEN SHORTER CONCLUSION: Mike, you got a new and reasonably good Swamp Thing comic written by its creator and drawn by a great artist — shut up, already.

In which I link to myself twice.

§ March 3rd, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, self-promotion § 2 Comments

Sorry, haven’t had a whole lot of blogging time this week, but I did contribute an extensive thingy to the latest Question Time over at Trouble with Comics in which we were asked our opinions on variant covers for comic books. And opinions we did have, let me tell you, friend.

Pal Andrew wrapped up his month-long visit with the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Shrinking Violet, and had a few smart words to say about both her and the franchise from which she was born.

Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with Atomic Breath, presents one of the greatest confrontations ever unleashed within the pages of a Marvel comic.

And in case you missed it…the End of Civilization returned to the virtual pages of Progressive Ruin earlier this week. Sorry, I didn’t realize I’d let the feature rest for so long. I can’t promise it every month, but I won’t let half a year go by again without one.

Progressive Ruin presents, at long last…the End of Civilization.

§ February 29th, 2016 § Filed under End of Civilization § 12 Comments

So…nice civilization you’ve got here. Shame if something…happened to it. Say, why don’t you follow along with me in your March 2016 edition of Diamond Previews before something…unfortunate should occur:

p. 76 – Snoopy Qee Mystery Box Series:

Revealed at last: the hideous results of the unspeakable experiments at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm.
p. 80 – Scooby Apocalypse #1:

Sure, you’re all makin’ fun of this now, but once Scrappy-Doo is revealed as the leader of Bartertown, you’ll all come crawling back.
p. 152 – Wonder Woman Action Figure 3-Pack:

You’re gonna do a three-pack of Wonder Woman figures and you don’t do the classic Wonder Tot/Wonder Girl/Wonder Woman team-up?

I don’t even know, DC…I don’t even know.
p. 422 – Batman Facts and Stats from the Classic TV Show HC:

Looking forward to the comparison chart showing “Number of Heart Palpitations Caused by Reminding Batman Fans of This TV Show Prior to, Say, The Year 2000 VERSUS After About That Point.”
p. 451 – Scumbag Loser Omnibus GN:

You know, at this rate I’m not going to have any potential titles left for my eventual autobiography.
p. 460 – 100 Things Superman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die:

Here’s hoping “actually read a Superman comic” is somewhere in there.
p. 463 – Superman Classic: Pranking News SC:

I’d almost forgotten about the Mxyzptlk New 52 redesign. “Fievel Goes to the Fifth Dimension,” I guess.
p. 464 – Doctor Who Mad Libs:

“It’s [ADJECTIVE] on the [LOCATION]!” “Quickly, [VERB] the [NOUN] of the neutron [NOUN]!” “Oh for [DEITY]’s sake, not [NAME OF COMPANION] again.”
p. 468 – Star Trek What Would Captain Kirk Do? SC:

Wait? “What would Captain Kirk do?” Find out exactly what he did by reading this book solicited on page 422 of this very issue of Previews!

p. 479 – Team Cap T-Shirt:

I think we can all admit now that we really wanted Bella to hook up with Captain America and not that vampire or werewolf or whatever.
p. 494 – Marvel Minimates Series 67 Civil War 2-Packs Asst.:

I see Cap and Iron Man already have the pre-distressed “accidentally left in the sandbox and then dug up a couple of years later” look to them. Why, in my day, we had to do that the hard way. You kids today have got it too easy.
p. 508 – Batman V Superman Super Deformed Plushies:

p. 521 – Pixel The Matrix 4-Pack:

At last, the perfect ice-breaker for conversations with your teenage relatives, which will usually start with them asking “…What are those? Is that based on some old movie or video game or something?” before they wander off playing with some new tech something-or-other you don’t understand and you feel that creak in your bones, surely that creak’s not getting stronger and anyway ha ha I’m just kidding, but seriously, death comes for us all. …Thanks for shopping.
p. 526 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Raphael 1/6-Scale Collectible Figure:

Oh, it’s his tail.
p. 532 – Dragonball Super Sculture Spirit Bomb Figures:


You could probably get a full run of Blue Devil on eBay for less than what that one issue was priced.

§ February 26th, 2016 § Filed under retailing § 5 Comments

Dental issues have kind of thrown me off this week (and why not take a look at my eBay listings, he said completely coincidentally), but I’m still putting together material for this site, and, shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I may have an End of Civilization post again soon, at long, long last. But, in the meantime, life goes on, and your pal Mike has been processing a few beat-up long boxes of what was once back issue stock for a long-defunct comic book shop. And in these boxes, amongst the copies of Serenity comics with Scotch tape affixed directly to the covers, and forgotten late ’90s Image books that will never ever sell again even in the bargain bins, I found this:


Now, there was a time when Warlord comics were, if not necessarily “hot,” but definitely in demand. However, it was not anytime during or after the release of this comic, which in no way, at no point, should have been priced anywhere close to $24.00. The current Overstreet has it at $4 in near mint, and was likely listed in the guide at that price or even less whenever the pricetag was actually affixed to this issue. Oh, and it probably goes without saying that the comic wasn’t anywhere close to near mint, and I suspect that wasn’t from mishandling in storage, but rather wear that was present when it was slipped into its bag and board.

I don’t think it was a case of switched bags or anything, given that I also found a few issues of Blue Devil, each with the proper issue number inscribed on the tag like above, also priced at $24. This is almost DC-obsessed-with-the-number-52 level, what with all the $24 pricetags. Suffice to say, any given issue of Blue Devil generally isn’t worth $24 even if you stuffed a twenty dollar bill into the comic bag with it. And hey, I love Blue Devil, but c’mon.

I don’t know if this was an honest mistake from misreading the price guide (unlikely, given the multiple instances), or, as was suggested to me, just wishful thinking (“only takes one person to go for it!”) much like the $5000 price tags you’ll see on, say, an issue of Care Bears on eBay or Amazon or wherever.

But don’t worry…I’ll be repricing all these at much more reasonable levels. I might even go as low as only $12 apiece. No need to thank me.

Just stirring up a little trouble.

§ February 23rd, 2016 § Filed under self-promotion § 1 Comment

The new Trouble with Comics Question Time is up, and the topic of the week is “favorite anniversary issues.” My response is one I’ve discussed before on this site, but I’m always happy to talk about it.

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