This is no way to start a seventeenth year of blogging.

§ December 9th, 2019 § Filed under eyeball, low content mode § 4 Comments

Hi gang! I am having what should be my final eyeball surgery tomorrow, and I know I’ve said “this will be my final eye surgery” at least three times before, so we’ll see. …Get it, “see?”

So the end result is I am probably taking the week off here while I recover/get adjusted to my new eyeball settings. If my vision is up to it, maybe I’ll be back at the end of the week, but I think I’m gonna shoot for next Monday.

In the meantime, please enjoy this swell bumper sticker Customer Brook picked up for me whilst on a business trip:


You can get your own right here!

Thanks pals, and we’ll talk again soon.

“Suddenly, sixteen years later….”

§ December 5th, 2019 § Filed under suddenly... § 15 Comments

Somehow I’ve made it sixteen years doing this silly site here, and thanks to all of you who’ve bucked the trend, reading blogs long past that medium’s heyday. Thanks also to my friends and family, who support this endevour by not explicitly opposing it, to my girlfriend Nora who still seems okay with me doing this, to pal Dorian who was there at the beginning, and of course to Neilalien, the firstest and the bestest of the comicwebloggers.

The predominant theme for the past year as been “Mike’s eyeballs,” as I’ve undergone multiple issues and surgeries throughout the last several months…and at times even being pretty darn close to being entirely unable to see. I’m a lot closer to being done wtih all this now, but you may have noticed a relative paucity of posts over the past year as I had to take time off from the site due to assorted eye operations, or straight-up near-blindness, which prevented me from posting pictures of Swamp Thing or Sluggo or both. My End of Civilization posts even took bit of a hit of late.

Like I said, I am almost through all this, though I do have one more operation next week and we’ll see where I’m at after that. But I don’t plan on giving up the blog anytime soon…long as you guys will have me, I’ll be around.

Oh, and my store had its fifth anniversary this year, as I entered my 31st year of working in comics retail. I should probably get a real job at some point, but in the meantime…stop by my store! Say hi! Buy stuff! Buy lots of stuff! Maybe even pick up something off the eBays! I won’t mind!

Speaking of the store, I started posting a lot more on the shop’s Instagram this year. Lots of pics of stuff in and around the store, but I also realized “wait, I have sixteen years’ worth of pics I posted on my blog to pick from, too” so you may see some old ProgRuin favorites on there occasionally. No, I haven’t hit them with “Then…KOREA” yet…not sure they’re ready.

And as always, you can find me on Twitter usually commplaining about something or making stupid jokes, or you can follow my store there too. My store’s on Facebook if you are still putting up with that site.

So one of the side effects of my ongoing eyeball problems is that my ability to read stuff onscreen is hampered a little bit, though the recent acquisition of a much larger monitor seems to help a bit. Anyway, please excuse the occasional misspelling or whatnot as you peruse the archives of recent memory…try to collect them all! Just something I thought I’d mention before directing you to the following links of highlights and lowlights from the past twelve months of ProgRuin history:

DECEMBER 2018:

I mark my first eye surgery in the most tasteful manner, the aftermath of said surgery, here’s the worst thing to do with a guy with one working eye, a Christmas post so great I don’t know if I can top it this year, I give you a beautiful GIF from Teen Titans Go! to the Movies.

JANUARY 2019:

Oh Bob Haney and your Teen Titans dialogue, still haven’t started on getting those early Cerebus (and a follow-up), I promise you I was only joking about the gift I gave pal Dorian, I look back at your predictions for 2018 which I’m linking to with just the post tag because I don’t want to link each individual post here, ffthe Penguin’s Harley Quinn.

FEBRUARY 2019:

Marvel’s guide to funnybook collecting, comic book “ages” – always a hilarious topic, I’m an easy mark for Nexus/Badger nostalgia, the very Dalgoda store signs that the other shop had on display before I even worked there, Fantastic Four #347 hype, I regret to inform you that someone did indeed register that domain name, we don’t talk enough about this horrible subject line (or about my Herman Melville joke in the comments).

MARCH 2019:

Oh don’t get me started on the whole “his name is Shazam” thing, I go on about online store reviews, someone somewhere is mad that the HBO series isn’t a direct adaptation of Doomsday Clock, I really really hate those Marvel Value Stamps, I celebrate my 50th birthday with 50 things I’ve learned about comics and comics retail, the comic strip reprints of my youth, ANIMATED HAGAR, Mad paperbacks and I namedrop Sergio, already filled that shelf.

APRIL 2019:

Gotta stop getting eye surgeries as I’m running out of punny post titles, I could use four or five more of these to sell right now, I pay pals to speak good about my store, it finally happened — I made a 420 joke, oh hi Walmart thanks for checking in, I go into far more detail than you’ve ever wanted about my eyeballs.

MAY 2019:

Oh wait here’s more about my eyeballs, I did more on Free Comic Book Day with one eye than most people do with two, Swaqmp Thing and the recontextualizing of superheroes, a reconsideration of that first Superman/Swamp Thing team-up, those fancy comic sleeves from the ’90s ain’t so fancy now are they, China needs to answer for this Superman statue, an overview of the DC Universe streaming shows, six weeks off from reading comics and this is what I jump back in with.

JUNE 2019:

Oh hey this Swamp Thing TV show is pretty good — I’m sure it’ll last forever, fitting that they’re white like an albatross too, I’ve never seen this Barbie and Ken comic before, didn’t expect to write this much about John Byrne on my blog ever again, your once-every-six-months comic news update, a weird Watchmen-inspired album cover.

JULY 2019:

Oh man I forgot about this swell version of the Phantom Stranger we’ll never see again, don’t know how many people I’ve had to tell “no Mad isn’t going away,” still kinda cheesed off about how the end of The Walking Dead was handled, more Swamp Thing TV talk, your Donny Osmond joke of the day, grading them there bagged comics, surely this can’t be more Swamp Thing TV talk, variant covers – friend or foe?

AUGUST 2019:

And goodbye to Swamp Thing TV talk, the salty tongues of the DC Universe shows, Groo reprints and the lack thereof, reprint #1,000,000 of House of Secrets #92 that I own,

SEPTEMBER 2019:

the big change in B.C. ain’t as big as you think, watching back issues become scarce in real time, online reaction versus in-store sales, superpowers in the Watchmen universe, a really Super watch, good gravy I’m also collecting parodies of the House of Secrets #92 cover, on being a (somewhat former) Swamp Thing completist (2 3) 4, Thor #337 really was a huge change, at long last New Universe talk, more X-Force #1 talk.

OCTOBER 2019:

NANCY BOOKS NANCY BOOKS NANCY BOOKS, New Universe sales back in the day, comics I never owned but loom large in memory, I may have invoked some kind of demon with this post, bad eyes won’t stop me from keeping you informed about Swamp Thing comics, the only Halloween ComicFest picture you need to see.

NOVEMBER 2019:

Post #5001 – all about Boris the Bear, Reader John sent me a full run of the Dark Horse Roachmill because of this post so I’ll be posting about the first year of Action Comics next, the last Hellboy movie wasn’t the abomination I feared, the what of super-who, so long Tom, even more Death of Superman stuff (and more!), Marvel making a sow’s ear out of the silk X-purse.

DECEMBER 2019:

Only one post so far this month, and it’s about that Dark Multiverse thing.

Thanks for sticking with me, friends, whether you just started reading my site or if you followed me over from LiveJournal back in 2003, or if you were putting up with me in the local Oxnard BBS scene before that.

And for reading all that…well, usually I post some old personal picture or something to post at the end of these, but I didn’t have anything ready. So, instead, you get this picture I just took of myself right now as I’m working on this post. Yes, I look tired…hey, you post on a blog for 16 years and tell me you’re not tired!


See you all next week.

Should I be reading anything into “Dark Multiverse” and “Direct Market” both being “DMs?”

§ December 2nd, 2019 § Filed under this week's comics § 3 Comments


So my efforts to catch up on my comic book reading continue apace, having managed to read a whole two this past week, both from DC’s Tales from the Dark Multiverse project.

I talked about this series before, like a week or so ago, commenting on its purpose seemingly being to make new “Batman Who Laughs”-type “dark” versions of our heroes to eventually menace the Justice League or whatever. And the patterns seems to continuue here in these two new one-shots (um, SPOILERS I guess) though the Blackest Night Sinestro isn’t really so much a villain at the end of his story as he is a huge screw-up. You know, kind of how Jar Jar is technically the villain of the Star Wars prequels, but he just kinda blundered into putting Palpatine into power out of his own clumsy nature rather than actual malice? Like that.

Anyway, I am enjoying these comics, despite their dark tone and the overall general belief that what we need less of on the stands are more “dark” comics. Well, these tell you up front “hey, these are from the Dark Multiverse,” so if you read ’em, it’s on you. But I think they’re effectively tragic “What If” type stories and I’m enjoying them on that level.

What’s interesting is that the “host” of these comics, the (hoo boy, hold on) Tempus Fuginaut, is basically telling us that what we’re seeing in these comics are deviations from the events in the regular DC Universe…i.e. the one that’s we’re reading about in the comics right now. Which is a bit confusing, as we’ve had our share of New 52s and Rebirths and such fiddling about with what is and what isn’t continuity. But ol’ Tempie, after he relates what happened in the Blackest Night series, says “that’s what happened in your universe,” so I guess we’re supposed to assume that Blackest Night, and Infinite Crisis, and the Death of Superman, complete with Red-Haired-Clone-of-Luthor-Pretending-to-Be-His-Own-Australian-Son, all happened in whatever version of the DC Universe we’ve got now. (Pending whatever happens at the end of Doomsday Clock, natch.)

And speaking of Infinite Crisis…so the deal with that is that the Earth-2 Superman and Lois, along with Earth-Prime Superboy, were in some “hypertime”* bubble outside the main DCU looking in. What the Dark Multiverse version of Infinite Crisis postulates is that there was a separate Hypertime bubble in the Dark Multiverse, featuring the survivors of the DM’s “Crisis on Infinite (Dark) Earths,” I guess. IT’S MULTIVERSES ALL THE WAY DOWN, FOLKS

Anyway, I’m overthinking it, I’m sure. That’s one heck of a spoiler on the cover of that Infinite Crisis cover, by the way. Should also note that there’s one particularly gruesome full-page shot in there, but hey, remember, says “Dark” on the cover, not “Light Happy Fun Times.” You were warned!

Like I said, I have been enjoying the stories in this series, even the “Knightfall” one, despite Azrael being like an immediate turn-off for me in nearly every other comic book appearance he’s ever had. Sorry, just don’t care for him. …I believe the next one in the series will be taking on “The Judas Contract” from New Teen Titans. Who will be the surviving future-villain-to-menace-the-regular-DCU from that, I wonder? A jaded and bitter Changeling? Dark Wonder Girl? Even Darker Raven? An armless Speedy? …Nah, forget that last one, who’d actually do anything like that?
 
 
 

* Don’t write in to tell me I’m using “Hypertime” incorrectly. As far as I can tell it can only be used incorrectly.

“I’ll keep this reasonably short,” he lied.

§ November 29th, 2019 § Filed under obituary, x-men § 3 Comments

So I’ll keep this reasonably short since it’s Black Friday and the day after Thanksgiving and y’all have better things to do that to read some old guy’s blog. I just wanted to say that I recently watched Chris Claremont’s X-Men, a documentary about that very thing that I found on Amazon Prime. I thought it was quite interesting, with lots of onscreen interviews with Claremont, one of his editors Ann Nocenti, other-mutant-writer Louise Simonson, and former editor-in-chief of Marvel Jim Shooter.

Lots of discussion about what went into making the book what it was, how certain storylines were put together, and how it all began to fall apart. My big takeaway from it, and one that wasn’t explicitly stated but could certainly be inferred (particularly by someone like myself who watched things happen on the retail end in real time) was that Marvel’s biggest mistake in the long-term health of the X-Men franchise was the straight-up discarding of Claremont after his shepherding of the property for so many years.

I went on bit of a Twitter-tear about this a couple of days back, where I essentially said that if Marvel had just kept Claremont in control of the book, instead of booting him off in favor of the Hot Artists that were in vogue at the time…in essence, if Marvel had thought about the health of the X-Men over the long haul instead of chasing that short term dollar, the X-books might have maintained their relatively-large audience (give or take the impact of the overall market decline in the ’90s) all these years. It could have been a consistent moneymaker, rather than a series of diminishingly-returning reboots/relaunches.

As pal Andrew rightfully noted, near the end there Claremont’s writing on the titles was, perhaps, not as keen as it had once been, and in need of a change. I do believe, however, that a carefully managed changeover to a new committed writer, maybe even keeping Claremont on as a consulting editor, would have been an overall better decision than, you know, what they ended up doing. (And who knows, Claremont could’ve found a second wind on the title…if it was necessary, as readers mostly seemed to think even the latter day stuff was just fine.)

One of the unique aspects of the X-Men, like the Legion of Super-Heroes before it, was the large fandom that surrounded it, attached itself to the characters, and were highly involved in the ongoing soap-opera aspects of their lives. Once that singular vision started to splinter with Claremont’s replacement by Many Hands, that addictive soap opera element began to lose its hold…and with cancellations and reboots, the perceived chain of continuity going back years seemed to feel lost. See also…the Legion of Super-Heroes, strangely enough. And New Teen Titans, too.

Of course, there are plenty of other (X-)factors at work here…I already mentioned the declining comic market, which may have forced reboots and relaunches anyway, whether or not Claremont was still on the title. And maybe, like all things, X-Men may have had its run and declined into obscurity. But I still can’t help but feel if Claremont had stayed on the book, or at least overseen a smooth transition to new creators who could have maintained the book’s approach, maybe those readers would have been kept behind, we’d have a book building on its own past, and we wouldn’t have had multiple restarts and #1s over the last few years.

I think having Jonathan Hickman as sort of the overriding “voice” of the new spate of X-titles isn’t a bad idea…the number and frequency of those new titles is a bad idea, but that’s just how Marvel is nowadays. But people are excited about the X-Men (if not especially the other new related titles) again, which is something that hasn’t happened in recent memory. Of course, as soon as Hickman is gone, everything’s getting new #1s again and we’ll be back at square one, but it is nice to pretend that maybe we’ll see an X-Men issue number…100 again? One can only hope.

• • •

I should note the passing of comics legend Howard Cruse a couple of days ago. He was a great cartoonist, by all accounts a fine human, and it’s sad to know he’s no longer with us. His classic graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, is coming back in a 25th anniversary edition next year, and if you haven’t read it yet, you really should. If you’re new to his work in general, his official website has plenty of strips you can peruse.

So long, Howard.

Extra pressure to be wild in your headlines when Atlantis is an actual, real thing.

§ November 25th, 2019 § Filed under death of superman, promo § 6 Comments

So Customer Andrew gave me a copy of this Superman promo flyer from 1993, featuring supposed pages from the in-universe tabloid newspaper National Whisper on the front and back:


…which then opens up into this poster promoting the debuts of all these replacement Supermen:


While I’m sure we had this at the previous place of employment way back when, I can’t directly recall this particular piece of marketing, at least in this format. The center “poster” existed in similar form in a much-larger color poster (one of which I believe I have in my stacks of ancient promo stuff at the store now). I do have to wonder about the phrasing “your local club location” — that’s throwing me off a bit.

Plus, I feel like the “National Whisper” segments appeared as pages within the actual Superman comics theselves as part of an issue’s story pages. Could be wrong, and didn’t think to check to remind myself. I know those pages look familiar, but apparently the flyer itself isn’t one I recall well, if at all, so that’s why I”m guessing those pages showed up in one of the comics. I’m sure one of you can tell me, else it’s off to the salt mines to haul out my Superman comics to look into the matter.

On a related note, in response to last week’s discussion about the new Death of Superman: The Wake trade paperback, Dario had this to say:

“FYI that particular Death of Superman series has its own continuity. It’s a tie-in to an animated film, which uses the New 52-style outfit.”

You know, despite my watching all the direct-to-DVD/BluRay movies DC puts out, with their new shared quasi-New 52 continuity, it never crossed my mind that the comic was connected to these. But, it makes perfect sense, and DC had done it for their Suicide Squad cartoon, with a digital-first mini-to-trade written by Jeff Parker and Cat Staggs.

Still haven’t read The Wake yet. I’M GETTIN’ TO IT

Anyway, I like these in-story peeks at what journalism (or “journalism”) is like in a superhero universe. Of course superheroes would be the primary focus of these things, with gossip and rumors and such, since superheroes would likely be the ultimate celebrities…I mean, sure, [Your Favorite Performer]’s pretty cool ‘n’ all, but can s/he fly? (Newstime was another little more thorough, presenting a full magazine in the style of Time and Newsweek…you know, hence the name “Newstime”).

There are more comments to that post I want to address…but that’ll wait ’til next time, pals.

I imagine several passages in this post will sound like I’m suffering some kind of head injury if you weren’t familiar with comics.

§ November 21st, 2019 § Filed under death of superman § 17 Comments

Ah, the return of the “Death of Superman” post-tag, the category that, ironically, never dies. Well, neither does Superman, usually, so I guess it’s not that ironic.

Anyway, Tales from the Dark Multiverse, which is part of DC’s Marvel-esque publishing initiative to take something of theirs that was popular, that Dark Nights: Metal series, and indefinitely extend it with spin-offs and tie-ins and whatnot, presents an installment based around that best-selling comics event from nearly 30 years ago:


…And, it’s fine. Kind of an Elseworlds/What If kind of thing, only it “counts” because it’s part of an established extended multiverse that includes the “real” DC Universe. And there’s a throughline here, too, with a “host” introducing each story, the Watcher Watchernaut…excuse me, the Tempus Fuginaut, and I imagine a lot of the characters being established here are planned to turn up in something-or-other later.

This one [SPOILER] involves Lois getting disillusioned with the superhero community and its inability to prevent Superman’s death. She eventually gets super powers from the Eradicator and, in true What If fashion, purt’near everyone dies, mostly at Lois’s hands. Again, like I said, it’s fine, exactly what it says on the tin, plenty dark for anyone who wants it. It actually is a bit of an effective horror piece, particularly in relation to Lois’s fall and the reactions of others to it. Horror is not a genre that fits easily with Superman, but when done at least reasonably well it can be very effective. (See Steve Gerber/Gene Colan’s Phantom Zone mini-series for the best example).

I will note that the first Dark Multiverse special, based around the “Knightfall” event, sold okay, but not great at my shop, but this Superman one blew off the shelves. Like I said before, I suspect one of the reasons for this Dark Multiverse series is to toss out a bunch of parallel-universe origin stories for new villains to face our main universe heroes, and hope another Batman Who Laughs emerges.

I do like that Lois’s chest emblem is the “Bloody S” logo from all that original Death of Superman marketing. That’s kinda funny.

Enough about “The Death of Superman,” here’s more about “The Death of Superman:”

The Death of Superman: The Wake trade paperback came out this week, collecting a digital-first (I think) mini-series telling stories revolving around, well, you know. Interestingly, it’s the New 52 Superman, the one with the worst costume, and I can still remember early on during that publishing initiative wondering if, in that continuity, the events of “Death of Superman” had even happened. Eventually, we learned they did, as there was some interminable “Doomsday Plague” or whatever follow-up storyline that ran through all the Super-books, mostly notable for the jumble of subtitles and chapter numbers and such slapped on the covers.

But I think this story is the first time we’re directly, more or less, seeing the events of the Death of Superman in the New 52 continuity…which is kind of a moot point now, admittedly, as Superman’s continuity has now been twisted back into some semblance of the post-Crisis/Zero Hour but pre-New 52 version. And even the Death of Superman, as originally presented, doesn’t exactly match up with the DC Universe we have now, which reminds me a bit of how I used to wonder how Crisis on Infiniite Earths played out in the New DC There’s No Stopping Us Now universe that was born from that event. Did the heroes remember it* as “Crisis on Just This One Earth,” with the Anti-Monitor threatening that single universe that existed post-Crisis? If I recall correctly, there was a brief scene in…a Secret Origins, I’m pretty sure, where the Anit-M was going to destory everything with a universe-bomb or some damned thing, the implication being that’s what the Crisis was in “new” continuity.

That’s a lot of typing about a book I haven’t even really read yet…I read the first chapter on the DC streaming app, and kinda flipped through it now to see what was going on. But I do intend to read it, despite not seeing any sign of Lex’s red-headed Australian son who’s actually Lex in a cloned younger body. I’ll just have to overcome my disappointment.

* Yes, I know at the conclusion of Crisis the point was made that all the heroes remembered pre-Crisis continuity despite existing post-Crisis. That…was kinda left aside pretty quickly.

Which reminds me, someone tell certain comic publishers that having the prices on their covers in a 2pt font sucks.

§ November 18th, 2019 § Filed under eyeball, sterling silver comics § 4 Comments

Don’t really have a regular post as such today, for which I apologize. I’ve been busy and preoccupied with work-type stuff and thus didn’t have the spare brainpower to dream up anything at least somewhat entertaining for the site.

You can read about it here on my Facebook page, but basically, what with all the stuff regarding my eyeballs and the related costs, plus another surgery scheduled for next month, combined with the usual fall sales doldrums but no shortage of product being churned out by the Big Two comic companies (well, it’s mostly the One)…I find myself in a…less comfortable position than I’d prefer to be in.

I’m sure I’ll be okay…Christmas is coming up, and that’s usually a good time for the store. But I thought maybe encouraging some of my pull list folks to come by, and maybe encourage other folks to step into the shop and maybe grab a book or two, or perhaps visit my eBay store or maybe even just call in with a want list or three, would help me ride out some lean times here.

On the plus side, several people heeded the call and contributed to the cause, which was much appreciated. And hopefully it will continue. Every little bit helps, whether you visit the shop or mail order or join the Patreon or whatever, it’s all great support and very welcome. I can’t thank everyone enough.

I took kind of a hit throughout the year because of my vision issues…as one might imagine, if my vision is cloudy or obscured entirely due to bouts of internal bleeding, that makes it difficult to grade and price comics, or put things on eBay, or read prices printed on comics or even my own price tags, or check invoices. At one point I couldn’t even make out covers. I had to have people peeking over my shoulder, mostly my dad, telling me what I was looking at in order to function. Plus, having to pay someone to cover for me on the days I absolutely couldn’t be in the shop (like, say, when I was in surgery) was an additional financial burden.

It’s all very frustrating. And it’s probably going to recur with my next surgery, which is on my left eye, AKA my “good eye.” I have vision in my right eye, but it’s not as strong and has some obscuring issues and I won’t be able to drive while my left eye recovers. I’ll probably be able to read prices and stuff but grading comics is going to be out. Plus, I suspect I’ll probably have to print out my Diamond invoices at a ginormous font size rather than trying to read the tiny light grey-on-white lettering on the invoices they send me.

And that will be in the middle of December, when I should be doing good business with the holiday season.

This is a lot of complaining, I realize, and I’m sorry to make you read it, you four people who made it this far. All in all, I’m doing better…haven’t had a rebleed incident in my left eye for a while, and my eyes do seem to be healing nicely, and I am a lot closer to the end of this than the beginning. And this coming surgery is relatively simple (a lens replacement) so recovery should be short, but my eyes are tricksey things, yes they are, so who knows how long it’ll actually take for my eye to be back on its feet. Er, so to speak.

Anyway, this is a problem I never anticipated when opening my own store, I’ll tell you what. But I’ll muddle through it somehow. I mean, what’s the alternative, getting a real job? P’shaw on that, I tell you.

Tom Spurgeon (1968 – 2019).

§ November 14th, 2019 § Filed under obituary § 6 Comments

Tom Spurgeon was a unique and treasured voice in the comics community, with the incomparable Comics Reporter being a wonderful outlet combining his sardonic worldview with his love of the medium (often despite itself).

I interacted several times over the years, usually over email and, later, Twitter. He was never anything less than friendly and kind in all my dealings with him. On occasion, and not often enough, I’d drop him a line thanking him for a mention of my site on CR, or for noting my birthday (as he did every year), and he always seemed pleased that I did. Even though I’d been in this business for a very long time, Tom doing little things like this made me really feel like I was part of the larger comics industry.

What really got me was this: I was a longtime reader of The Comics Journal, which Tom wrote for and edited for many years. That someone from TCJ, a magazine I enjoyed and admired, a magazine that held comics to a loftier standard than most, found interest and value in sometime I was writing was…validating, to say the least. I still have an email from Tom where he tells me “you know you’re my favorite!” which I’m sure I’m not the only person he’s said that to, but I still value that moment quite a bit.

I…don’t think I ever told him just how much that support, those interactions, meant to me. I had considered that maybe, someday, we’d meet in person, perhaps when he had the opportunity to visit my shop (like he said he hoped to here). Never happened, unfortunately, and so I never fully related that gratitude.

I should have, regardless, at least over email. But I can’t now, though I can still tell all of you what his support meant. And how much I’m going to miss his writing on the internet. It feels strange to think that he won’t still be around, gathering links, reviewing comics, writing commentary, being silly and/or witty on Twitter, looking askance at whatever the rest of us are up to, and otherwise just being Tom.

I know that’s the same with every death: the loss of one particular collection of perspectives, experiences and personality that can’t be replaced. But losing Tom…that’s a rough one. We’ll still have all his writing to enjoy, but it’s difficult to imagine there being no more.

My condolences to his family, his friends, and to the rest of us.

So long, Tom.

BEHOLD THE AQUARING.

§ November 13th, 2019 § Filed under gelatinous cube, legion of super-heroes, retailing § 10 Comments


“So what’s the deal with this ring?” asked the customer, gesturing at the little pile of plastic Legion of Super-Heroes rings I had laid out on the counter, a promotional giveaway for the new Legion series that debuted last week. “Are they for Aquaman?”

Um, Aquaman? How do you get “Aquaman” from a ring that very clearly has an “L” on it? I didn’t say that to the customer, but I did let him know what the rings were actually for, and that seemed to satisfy him.

What struck me, though, is that he knew enough about comics to mention to the people he was with that the Flash used to have a ring in which he would keep his super-compressed costume. But he didn’t know enough about the Legion to be able to identify one of the flight rings, which is a fairly integral element of the series. …Which is fine, of course, just because you like superhero comics doesn’t mean you have to know Every. Single. Detail. of each and every one.

But he wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what the flight ring was. I had a number of people certainly identify what it was supposed to be, but had just as many other folks, comic reading folks, coming-in-every-Wednesday-for-the-new-goodies customers, who did not know what that ring was supposed to represent.

There was once a time when Legion fandom was a thing…like, it was one of the franchise’s defining elements was its active, involved fanbase. And that fanbase eroded over the years for various reasons (discussed both by me and pal Andrew a while back) to the point where DC no longer found it profitable to even attempt at keeping an ongoing Legion book on the stands for the last several years.

Of course, that absence has changed now, with DC’s much-ballyhooed Legion relaunch last week (preceded by an entertaining two-part mini bridging the current DC Universe to the Legion’s future), brought about by DC’s equally-ballyhooed acquiring of one of Marvel’s Big Name comic writers Brian Michael Bendis. Whether that rebuilding of what was once the formidable Legion Fandom will follow is…well, okay, it won’t, it’s a different time, and the natural, organic evolution of that fandom over years and decades isn’t suddenly going to repeat itself with the latest revival, however long it manages to last without yet another reboot.

I remember the last time DC Comics provided plastic Legion ring giveaways to tie into some new Legion thing or ‘nother, it seemed like everyone was in on it. They all knew the Legion, knew what the flight ring was and what it represented, and so on…but then, Legion was still an ongoing, if not entirely what it once was, concern at the time, a couple of decades back. Now…after being basically gone, or generally off the average comic fan’s radar, for about a decade or even more, one can’t depend on a shared fan nostalgia that will remember some piece of a franchise that was dead, or might as well have been, when several of today’s fans first got into the comic collecting hoohar.

Now, the good news is that despite some of my customer base not recognizing the Legion ring, there is still enough of the rest of that base to have either recognized the Legion, or are new to it but have been intrigued enough by the advertising/guest-appearances, to pick up the book. In fact, it was a near sell-out for me, and I have a box of restocked copies heading my way…well, today, hopefully…and even then about half of those restocks are already spoken for. I haven’t even got one for myself yet, since I was saving copies for the shelf.

I spoke with a friend who has a comic shop a few hundred miles away and says he can’t give them away, so I guess Your Store’s Mileage Will Vary. I’ve experienced this before…even back in the ’90s, I was comparing notes with a retailer in L.A. and he was all like “you sell how many Legion!?” But I hope this series is an overall success (in whatever meets “success” levels in today’s diminished market)…I do like the Legion, and I would like to have a new comic of theirs I can read. It won’t be the same, with the characters all cut off from their long history that brought me to these comics in the first place, but I can still enjoy a good comic regardless. I mean, assuming it’s good.

Oh, and I figured out why that customer thought this was an Aquaman ring:


…because he probably saw one turned on its side. An easy enough mistake to make, I guess.

“Keeping it short,” he says.

§ November 11th, 2019 § Filed under movie reviews § No Comments

So I found myself fighting a cold most of the weekend, which is still affecting me even now, as I type this. It’s not too bad, and this is really the first time I’ve been fully under the weather with an illness since I got scared straight into living a healthier life, so I suppose I can’t complain too much.

Anyway, as such, I’m keeping this post fairly short so that I may hit the sack a little early and kinda goose the recovery along.

I did want to note that I watched the recent Hellboy reboot film, and…well, I actually kind of liked it. Not a great film, but a good and watchable one. It crams a lot of material from the comics into its two hour runtime, which makes for bit of a crowded and cluttered experience but certainly an energetic one, and it manages to keep your attention as it rushes from set piece to set piece. David Harbour makes a fine Hellboy, though there’s something about the makeup that strikes me as…off, somehow. Some element about the design that strikes me as offputting. It’s not the hair, it’s more like…the shape of the head and body feels odd to me…weirdly distended, maybe. I’m not sure. Could be I’m just used to the old makeup job.

Despite that, it’s generally fun…mostly more f-bombs and a lot more bloody than the previous films, but there’s still some humor. Like I said, a lot of stuff from the comics makes it in here,, though once you get to the whole “Hellboy is descended from King Arthur” thing, that’s almost like one revelation too many…fans of the comic might dig it, but your average moviegoer might be all “wait, that too?” Plus, comparisons to the previous films are minimized just a hair by pairing up Hellboy with two other characters from the comics aside from Liz and Abe Sapien (though the latter gets a tease for a sequel that will never come).

The special features on the disc don’t avoid the comparisons, however, and the interviewees, including Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, go on about how this film hews much closer to the source material than those other films, and how much darker than this film is than the other films, and how Hellboy’s makeup is more realistic than that in the other films, and so on. I don’t think they’re trying to put down the other films, but it occasionally comes off that way.

While overall I liked the film, I think I would have preferred a third film in the del Toro version of the series. I understand the financial reasons why they decided to opt with a new film rather than continuing the “old,” but as it turns out, given the success or lack thereof of this flick, they might as well have continued the original films. Ah well.

But this movie did have Thomas Haden Church as Lobster Johnson, so by that standard the reboot has a leg up on the original film franchise.

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