mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Don't ask. 

"At last! I, Dilton Doiley, have invented Riverdale's first ORGASMOTRON!"

"However, side effects from the invention include deviant sexual behavior...."

"But surely, it's all worth it in the pursuit of romance...."

Images from Skybox's 1992 Archie trading card series.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Progressive Ruin Again Presents...The End of Civilization. 

Time to swing through the latest Diamond Previews ordering tome and document the horrors within...grab your copy and follow along! (Enjoy some previous installments, if you dare.)

From the June '05 edition:

p. 422 - Okay, the Garfield PVC figure is about 3 1/2 inches tall, and it's $7.99. That's more or less reasonable. The Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam PVC figures on the very same page are much larger (about 8 to 10 inches), granted, but they're $75.99 each! Dear God, why? Are they imports?

Also on page 422 - Invader Zim "Set of Doom" mini-figurines. Probably could have used these a couple of years ago, back when people were actually looking for Invader Zim merchandise.

p.442 - Robocop 18-inch talking figure. ...Well, okay, I'll let this one pass. C'mon, like I'm going to say something bad about Robocop.

p. 444 - Star Wars M-Pire M&M Plushies. Six inch tall plushie dolls based on the talking M&M mascots, dressed up as characters from the Star Wars saga. You haven't lived 'til you've seen an M&M done up as Chewbacca. ($9.25 each.)

Also on page 444 - Tim The Enchanter Chibi Plush. I think I liked it better when Monty Python didn't license out their characters for merchandise. I can't quite wrap my head around a super-deformed Holy Grail character that talks when it's squeezed.

p. 460 - Star Wars Darth Sidious Lightsaber Replicas. You can get a mini-replica (based on "laser scans" of the original prop) for $35.00, or, if you're not satisfied with wielding such a...small weapon, you can drop $369.00 for a more manly sized tool. A Darth Vader saber replica is available only in full size, and the Yoda replica is available only in mini-size. (The description for the Yoda saber notes that it does look significantly different from the Episode II prop replica, with simulated battle-damage.)

p. 468 - Pal Dorian made sure that I mentioned this one: a Bob Moog vinyl figure, for only $35.00.

p. 488 - Lord of the Rings: Sword of Boromir replica. Only $348.99, and comes with a wooden plaque. Insert your own joke about what the wooden plaque says.

p. 492 - Sin City Yellow Bastard Limited Edition Full-Sized Resin Bust. "Limited edition?" The devil, you say. Who wouldn't want a live-sized version of this thing hanging around the house. For extra fun, leave it in a window facing the street.

p. 493 - Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Style "A" 3D Movie Poster Sculpture. Here's another one pal Dorian wanted to make sure I'd mention...I'm fairly certain this thing would creep me the hell out. Disembodied hands, sticking out of some box hanging on a wall in my house? No thanks.

In the Adult Previews Supplement:

p. 4 - Brian Pulido's Unholy #2 - Nature Calls Cover ($5.99). To quote the solicitation: "Penny takes a much needed break on this new variant cover edition by Di Amorim, limited to 700 copies!" A woman, sitting pantsless on a toilet, as a fetishistic variant cover image for a book that the publisher describes as having a readership that is "all ages." Hey, you know, whatever floats your boat, so to speak. I always wonder, though, about what happens when a publisher brings an image like this to the printer. I'm picturing lots of awkward silences.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A few random thoughts from today's new comics day:

Grandma, no! - Having a topless Elvira on the cover of the Elvira Mistress of the Dark comic book is a little risque for Claypool, isn't it?

DC's consistent reprinting of the Infinite Crisis tie-in books have paid off nicely for us, as the books are selling very well, and I imagine that, once we get further along in each of the mini-series, they'll continue to do well as back issues. Plus, today we put in our orders for the third printing of Villains United...didn't go overboard, but I bet we'll be able to move these, too.

I am glad Marvel has backed away from their "no reprints" policy, but I do wish that the cover of today's reprint of Phoenix: Endsong #5 differed from the original more than just some slight color adjustments. The previous reprints all had different covers...why not this one?

And the new issue of Fantastic Four had two covers, in a 1:1 ratio. Why did one have a "variant cover" note on the cover? What's the difference between the two, when they're available in equal amounts?

Just so I'm not solely picking on Marvel: say, DC, you're not fooling anyone by splashing "collector's item" on the cover of DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy. I had several customers make joking comments about that blurb. Then again, I suppose it did draw attention, so it did its job!

Speaking of that DC Special: the
new DC logo does look pretty good on the cover, there. It also doesn't look too shabby on the covers of our preview copies of next week's DCs.

Whenever a customer only has money for an issue or two of a comic, and they clearly have interest in fantasy/sci-fi books that aren't from Marvel or DC, and they ask me for my recommendation for "something good" - AiT/Planetlar's Demo almost always fits the bill.

Today, we had a quorum of the Associated Comics And Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA And Outlying Environs at the store...pals Ian, Tom, Corey, Dorian (natch), and myself (equally natch) were all present at the shop at the same time! (Fred was by, too, but missed the meeting by an hour or so.) For safety reasons, we try not to gather like this too often...the loss to world culture would be too great should something unfortunate happen.

Plus, we may have a new member of the ACAPCWOVCCAOE coming soon...watch this space for details!

Released to tie into
the 1987 wedding of Peter (Spider-Man) Parker and Mary Jane Watson, this button features a light-up heart that can be set to flash or to keep a steady glow. This pin is two inches across, and nearly an inch thick to accomodate the battery and the clear plastic cover that's over the face of the item. There's even a little plastic lip at the bottom, so you can stand this up on your desk or mantlepiece or what have you, letting it flash away and remind you of that beautiful day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The extremely swell
Dial B for Blog (now added to the weblogroll) posted a couple pro-Rann banners, one of which now adorns my sidebar. Stick it to those Thanagarian rascals!

The contest, Star Wars, and full-frontal nudity. 

So, as promised, the winner of my Couscous Express giveaway, the person whose name I randomly pulled from a hat (well, a virtual hat, anyway):

Bryan Boles of Tennessee!

Your book will be placed in the tender mercies of our fine postal system shortly. Thanks to Big Larry, king of Ait/Planetlar, for supplying the book, and thanks to everyone who entered the drawing!

So, yeah, that new Star Wars movie.

Wasn't bad.

Well, there's my spoiler-free review. I suppose I should say that Lucas has finally focused more on the action, which is what he's generally good at, and less on the love story, which has been somewhat less than convincing, to say the least. At any rate, I thought I'd list some random reactions to the film (like I did with Spider-Man 2 way back when). I've been avoiding other people's reviews, so I apologize if I cover ground already, um, covered by others.

So, SPOILER ALERT...yeah, yeah, "Anakin is Darth Vader?!?" I haven't heard that joke enough:

  • Like I said, Lucas brings on the action, and keeps the draggy parts to a minimum. The initial lovey-dovey scenes between Anakin and Padme are still remarkably unconvincing, with awkward dialogue...but the later scenes, after Anakin's turn to the dark side, the "romantic" dialogue suddenly has a more menacing undercurrent, which works quite nicely.

  • Palpatine finally going into all-out scenery-chewing villain mode was something of a relief, and something that the previous two movies desperately needed.

  • How to improve any Star Wars movie: insert Yoda, kicking ass. I never, ever get tired of Yoda's lightsabre fight with Dooku in Attack of the Clones, and I greatly enjoyed his action scenes in this film.

  • Dumb jokes were at a minimum in this film...no C3P0 "I'm beside myself!" lines, like in AOTC. Not that there wasn't humor...mostly in the most badass of droids, R2-D2, giving some of the bad guys what-for.

  • Though, speaking of our favorite astromech droid, what's with R2 popping out of his spaceship socket like a piece of bread out of a toaster? I hope he has good shocks in those legs of his.

  • As you know, Jar Jar is in the film, but doesn't say a word (though I bet we'll get some deleted scenes with him in the eventual DVD release). In an odd sort of way, I missed him, and that last shot of him in the funeral procession was sadly touching.

  • I'm not 100% certain I bought that Anakin would turn so completely to evil...okay, maybe he was emotionally broken after giving a hand (har har) to Palpatine during his battle with Windu, but going straight into killing "younglings?" Well, then again, he's done it before, slaughtering a whole Sandpeople community in AOTC (as recreated in the cheery "Tusken Raider Encounter" Lego set).

  • Hey, who else liked Senator Organa's tricked-out flying hot rod?

  • The reveal of Darth Vader was handled well...I'd been afraid for six years that we were going to get Vader rolled out of the lab (or wherever) and a jump-cut to Jar Jar waving his arms and shouting "meesa thinks we're in trouble now!" I could have done without the never terribly convincing "NOOOOOOOOOO!" cliche. I'm half-surprised he didn't fall to his knees at the same time.

  • So am I understanding Palpatine's story about his Sith Lord's powers right, that Palpatine himself is responsible for Anakin's "virgin" birth?

  • For just a brief moment, as Yoda was talking to Obi-Wan about his "further training" at the end of the film, I thought we'd be getting a Qui-Gon cameo. No dice...I guess Liam Neeson was busy (or just refusing to have anything more to do with the series).

  • Neither my girlfriend nor I caught Padme's last line of dialogue, prior to her passing. Could someone let us know what it was?

  • As we were leaving the theatre, we heard a young boy tell his mom, "you know, there's going to be an Episode IV."

Okay, END SPOILERS...though I'm betting if you were planning on seeing the film, you would already have done so by now!

I'm sure there are inconsistencies between this trilogy and the original trilogy (there's gotta be some weird timeline kinks in there, somewhere), but I'll let someone else dope those out. I'm just happy that the movie ended up being better than expected, given the previous two installments. Not perfect, but acceptable and enjoyable.

Of course, I may have just been in a good mood for the showing, since one of the trailers preceding the film was for Stealth...surely the greatest movie ever made. Evil robot plane, I love you.

I'm sorry to say that there is no full-frontal nudity in this post. My apologies.

Monday, May 23, 2005

What, more buttons? 

Oh, I have a lot more pins and badges in my collection...see here and here for the first two installments.

That Superman sheriff's badge on the left was a promo for DC's The Kents, an unusual series about Jonathan Kent's ancestors in the Old West. It's a nice metal badge (dated 1997), about 2 1/2 inches wide, and sorta reminds me of an old radio serial mailaway item. On the right is the "Superman Commemorative Pin" from '93, a high-quality cloisonne pin featuring the four Supermen emblems from the "Return of Superman" storyline. It's surprisingly heavy, given its size. Plus, I think it's kinda neat looking.

Dave Lartigue mentioned that first pin, the Invisibles pin from '94. I don't recall the story Dave relates, about Grant Morrison wanting the pin to be completely white, but it certainly sounds like something Morrison would do!

The second pin is from the mid-'80s, and there's kind of a sad irony in that slogan there, I'd imagine. Anyway, I had bought an issue of Batman off a newsstand, and inside the comic was a customer survey card that promised a free gift if one were to fill it out and send it in. Well, who am I to pass up a free gift? When I received the gift in question, it was a copy of Legends #1, which I already had (being the dutiful DC crossover follower that I was...er, am), and that button, telling me that Legends #1 was apparently not just for kids.

Third is one of those cheapie metal badges, the kind with the little bendy-bit at the top that you'd fold over and latch onto your pocket. This one is advertising the late-80s Starman series. No "Goodbye STARMAN" button was released when they disposed of this version of the character in the Starman series that followed.

Fourth is a cloisonne pin advertising the then-forthcoming release (on November 16th, 1990) of the first Robin mini-series. I believe DC sent a bunch of extras of these to give away to customers as well, so they were sparing no expense to get the word out.

Fifth - hey, remember DC's imprint Paradox Press? Neither does DC.

From 1991. Okay, so I don't have much to say about this particular button. I liked the TV show well enough, I guess. I'm surprised we haven't seen a DVD release yet.

That first pin was advertising either a free comic or a mailaway comic offer (Dethgrip 1/2, in case the glare obscures the name) in the Overstreet Price Guide's Wizard-clone Fan. There's no date on it, but hey, it's a button advertising a promo comic released with a price guide. It must be the early '90s.

There was no amount of money you could have paid me to make me willingly wear that 1991 "Mutant Genesis" badge in the shop. Please note the lack of my name on said badge.

The "One Nation Under DOOM" pin plugged a 1995 crossover for Marvel's 2099 line, in which the future version of the good doctor takes over the planet, or some such thing. That's a great pin, perfect for political rallies: "Hey, where'd you get the swell Dick Cheney pin?" (It's a joke, son...relax!)

I got that Archie Fan Club button back when I worked for a public library, sometime in the Stone Age. Well, okay, 1987. The library subscribed to several Archie comics, so we occasionally received promo materials, including that swank button. Somewhere I also have an Archie ink pen that can write in three different colors, and lemme tell ya, that impresses the ladies.

Sure, right now the Rann/Thanagar War is all the rage (that's a button featuring the emblem of those Thanagarian scoundrels, advertising some Hawkman series or another), but surely you remember Operation: Galactic Storm? Our Earth heroes somehow got caught up in the conflict between the spacefaring empires of the Kree and the Shi'ar, and Marvel encouraged fans to choose sides by issuing buttons for both alien races (but none for the heroes, tellingly). Were you a right and good Kree booster, or were you a downright reprehensible Shi'ar supporter? By the way, I have no idea if those two buttons are right side up or not.

And thus is my existence summed up.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Your latest
Rann versus Thanagar update: a Google search on "Rann" brings up about 430,000 results, while a search on "Thanagar" pulls up just under 39,000. Image search on "Rann": about 3,500. For "Thanagar": about two dozen or so. The people are abuzz about Rann! Okay, so not all the results for "Rann" directly refer to Adam Strange's adopted home, but it just goes to show the impact Rann has had on contemporary society. But that's okay...I'm sure the Thanagarians have a nice planet, too.

Ooh, wait, make that "had a nice planet"...they don't have one anymore! Oh, so sad....

So I was listing some items on the eBay yesterday (have I mentioned our auctions?), and I noticed that there's an Identity Crisis area in their Comics section. I suppose that makes sense, but it just surprised me. Plus, as usual, there are a few items in there where the people listing them either 1) weren't paying attention to the category, or 2) trying hard to make their auctions stand out by listing them with other dissimilar items. For example, as I looked at this section again last night, I saw someone trying to sell Ultimate X-Men. Ooh-kay. At least it was still comics, and not, say, a lamp or a remote-control toy car or something.

There's an Avengers Disassembled section, too.

But no Gambit section? The shame, the shame.

I never did get around to discussing new comics this week, which is just as well since I didn't really have much to say. But that's never stopped me before!

  • The initial collection for The First Kingdom by Jack Katz came out this week, and, well...when I was younger, first reading about this series in Comics Scene magazine, I was fascinated by it. A hyper-detailed, obsessively complex and deeply personal fantasy world fully created and laid out on pages with absolutely no space left blank whatsoever...the idea of it really captured my imagination. Once I saw the actual comics themselves, they didn't really do anything for me, unfortunately, but I can certainly appreciate the work that went into them.

    As an aside, I was putting together some stuff for our eBay auctions (have I mentioned...oh, never mind), and came across an autographed copy of The First Kingdom #5. Well, I thought it was neat.

  • Perhaps you remember my post from last Wednesday, where I warned you about a possible misprint in the last Plastic Man. Strike that; ignore it. Had I looked more closely at my copy, I would have seen that the problem was simply an extra centerspread stapled into the book. Ah, well...at least it's easily solved. (RIIIIIP!)

  • Goon #12 is the issue that has the monster created by one of our customers, Glenn, for the "Create-A-Monster" contest. Glenn's original sketch is in the letters page...check it out!

Pal Dorian: "Man, we've been asked for a lot of back issues for Frank Miller's 300 lately. Has it been announced as a movie project?"

Me: "Ah, c'mon. Who's gonna make a 300 movie?"

(one Google search later)

Me: "I can't believe someone's tryin' to make a 300 movie."

The winner of the Couscous Express giveaway will be announced on Tuesday. Hey, you can't jump right into a random drawing...you gotta work your way up to it!

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