mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Friday, July 08, 2005

A few more comparisons:

"'Fantastic Four' rescues itself from joinging comic book-movie trash heap"

"With no stars, little fan base and its thunder stolen by 'The Incredibles' (a parody of 'FF'), the buzz has been as quiet as a hummingbird's wings."

"'Fantastic Four' is a freak show"

"'Fantastic Four'' got there first, developing the concept of superheroes as a dysfunctional family four decades ago. But 'The Incredibles'' did it far, far better on the big screen. [...] Now the original foursome must flounder in the wake of 'The Incredibles,' which makes 'Fantastic Four'' look like a dim, dismal affair by comparison."

Weekend Best Bets

"...It's had numerous rewrites and folks affiliated with the film worry some filmgovers will see this as a rip-off of 'The Incredibles.' Huh?"

Swell cat
Nat Gertler popped by the shop the other day and gifted me with this fine piece of Licensable Bear™ merchandise...an actual, honest-to-God, real postage stamp with Mr. Bear™ on its face. He'll have these for sale at the San Diego Comic Con, so be sure to seek Nat out and buy dozens of them. And get a copy of the comic, too, while you're at it. Tell him Mike sent you.

You can make your own legally-usable U.S. postage stamps at Photostamps.com.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

One of these days, I'm gonna get to the San Diego Comic Con. Given my relative proximity to the festivities -- only a hop, skip, and four-to-five hour drive away -- one would think that it wouldn't be that big of a deal to go. The closest I came was a few years back when I actually was in San Diego at the same time as the convention, but I was in town for non-funnybook reasons and couldn't find the time to pop in.

The main reason is that, without fail, the San Diego Con occurs at about the same time of the year that my disposable income is at its lowest ebb and I can't really afford to go anyway. And, on top of that, this year I have some house-stuff happening at about the same time as the convention, so my schedule really won't allow it.

That's fine, though...I think I mentioned before that being in the presence of that much comic book overkill would probably drive any love of comics right out of me.

So anyway, if you are going, have fun, drink plenty of fluids (something other than beer,
Ian!), and if any of you happen to find copies of Yummy Fur #9 or Dog Boy (Fantagraphics series) #8, I could sure use 'em.

And yes, that means no swordfight. Sorry, Augie!

I don't poke around much on Newsarama...maybe once a week at most. So, when pal Dorian pointed out that they had a preview image for Infinite Crisis, I bade him "load the page, good sir!" And...well, Batman and Wonder Woman look okay, I suppose, but what's up with Superman, there? Dor thinks Supes is posed so awkwardly to show off the full "S" shield, but as Kid Chris noted, who buying this series is not going to recognize Superman? Unless, of course, they're thinking "new Jim Lee retail poster."

And so there we were, pal Dorian, Kid Chris, and I discussing Spider-Man and his new status quo of organic web-shooters (as opposed to the Ultimate version, who still have the mechanical ones). And I was thinking...what propels the webbing? Is it under a great deal of pressure in his arms, slowly building as more webbing is generated? Would that backed-up webbing feel uncomfortable, almost like the need to go to the restroom but having to hold it? If Spidey doesn't release the pressure caused by the webbing, is there...seepage? ("Peter, why are your wrists wet?") Or it there some kind of super-muscle, rapidly shoving the webbing out of Spidey's body? Because, really, that webbing usually has to go a pretty long distance, like to the tops of buildings and whatnot. Under normal circumstances, it would seem that regular humans would have trouble achieving such distances forcing semi-viscous liquidy substances out of their bodies. (Yeah, yeah, I know..."speak for yourself!")

As we were having the previous discussion, pal JP walked into the store, and I suddenly had a vision of what it must have looked like to him. You know the stereotypical scene from movies and TV shows where the point of view character walks in on a group of nerds/misfits/what have you and they're debating some kind of completely trivial topic (like, say, Spider-Man's webbing), and great mirth is had at the nerds' expense? Yeah, it was sort of like that.

But it's okay, 'cause pal JP is one of us. Gabba gabba, we accept you.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

One News New Movie Review

"The superhero-team-as-family-unit idea had its thunder stolen somewhat by last year's The Incredibles, which borrowed considerably from the Fantastic Four comics, but kids and less discerning adults should be sufficiently entertained by this movie."

"Four? Yep! Fantastic? Not so much..."

"Didn't the filmmakers get that this should all be 'cool'? It was clear last year that Pixar got it with 'The Incredibles' (really a thinly disguised take on FF), which makes it more puzzling that Marvel and Fox hit so far off the mark."

"Flame on, switch off"

"Unfortunately, The Incredibles has already stolen some thunder from the first family of superheroes."

"Meet the Fantastic Four"

"Basically, if you've seen The Incredibles, you've got the template for this quartet."

"'Fantastic Four' film's family spirit stays true to comic original"

"It may sound more than a bit familiar: the tale of a superhero family with powers including amazing strength, invisibility and the ability to stretch to astounding lengths.

"No, it's not last year's 'The Incredibles.' It's 'Fantastic Four,' arriving in theaters July 8. And though Mr. Incredible and his family beat them to the big screen, the Fantastic Four have been around a lot longer."

"Will Fan-4 crush Batman?"

"Mainstream movie-going audiences, however, may confuse the characters with the stars of last year's computer-animated blockbuster 'The Incredibles.'"

The Fantastic Four versus the Incredibles...to the death! (Well, not really.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Here are a couple comic-related essays from those "free term paper" sites...you get what you pay for, kids:

"Comics are not trash" - it was hard to pick out a particularly choice quote, since you really need to read the whole thing for the full impact:

"...One of the great things about books is that they can teach you a lot of things, whether it is about deep things or facts that you did not know; they broaden your horizon. Well, that is also true of some comic books."

"Book Version Vs. Screen Version" - this one devotes a lot of attention to the "recent" Generation X movie and its differences from the comic book:

"'Generation -- X' has surpassed many in special effects. ...The special effects were a milestone that was not only crossed but broken."

Well said.

Here's an interesting 1993 essay on super-heroines:

"Comic books are only now beginning to accept that women can differ in appearance from the Caucasian norm without being inherently repugnant or seductive."

I'm sure someone must have linked to this article before, but here's the American Family Association's take on the funnybooks:

"In a two-part Green Lantern comic, published by DC Comics, 'gay' teenager Terry Berg is shown kissing his boyfriend. After three thugs beat Terry, the storyline turns into a blatant promotion of hate crime laws."

...Because blatant promotion of hate crime laws is a bad thing, don't you know.

Here's a positive look at comic books (and comic book movies) from a Christian perspective:

"Their characters, as memorable in their own way as those of Homer or Milton, battle great opponents both without and within—wrestling with the same joys and pains, the same temporary triumphs and the same tragic results of the Fall as do we ourselves."

"Good Comics Is Good Readin'" - an article on how to get started reading comic books:

"Graphic novels are cool, since they collect many issues of a comic in one place so you can read the whole story arc. Warning: REAL comics people don't get these because they won't appreciate in value like single issues will."

The writer doesn't have much of a high opinion of comic book stores or their employees. I'll have you know I shower at least once a month, mister!

Comic Book Literature - nice, pro-comics essay:

"Looking back now, I wonder sometimes if Beowulf wore spandex and a big 'B' on his chest or if Grendel's mom had long flowing hair a lot of cleavage, whether or not literary buffs would dismiss it as 'pop culture' and push it aside."

"Comic books are crap!"

"...All the movies based on them have all been crap, and will continue to be so. They are simply not good source material for movies because they do not contain complete, logical stories."

And for a dissenting opinion...another "comic books have grown up" article:
"There is no longer a place for corny dialogue or shoddy illustrations. There are only great stories and amazing illustrations."

Monday, July 04, 2005

My latest
Behind the Counter column is up at the new Comic Book Galaxy. It's kind of an expanded version of "Things Not to Say to a Comic Shop Employee," with extra commentary. Enjoy, won't you?

Also, be sure to wish Scott Saavedra a happy one-year anniversary on his swell site, Comic Book Heaven. The print version of CBH was one of the many inspirations for this goofy little weblog of mine, and I'm glad he's still seeking out silly stuff for all of us to enjoy!

"The size gives great fear." 

Happy Fourth of July, where applicable.

If there's anything more indicative of the Punisher's selling power from his late-80s/early-90s heyday, it's the fact that Marvel was able to publish ten whole issues of Punisher Armory. Essentially, it's page after page of illustrations of various weapons and equipment used by the Punisher in his war against crime:

Those caption boxes you see in that scan there are the Punisher's narration, describing the weapon, how he uses it, where he got it (usually off the body of some dead punk), random events in his day to day life...it's like reading the Punisher's weblog:

"Micro Chip was riding me the other day about how shabby my lifestyle is. [...] I said, Micro, I like my mess just fine."

Yeah, like that. Here's the first caption box from the page I have scanned above:

"I like the solidity of the old Army M-1. I trained with one alongside the M-14 and M-16. The barrel length gives great accuracy and with a little bit of work the size gives great fear. Psychology can play a big part in dealing with people who want to kill you. Often they are in the weaker position."

Imagine that being read to you in the Punisher's (presumably) gravelly, psychotic voice. Now imagine it being read to you homoerotically by a real live gay man. Really, we need to get Dorian to audioblog that.

So there I was, poking through a copy of Avengers #10 (Nov 1963) by Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Dick Ayers, when I came across the following panels:

Okay, so Immortus, the time-traveling super-villain, has, as part of his master scheme, placed a full-page ad on the back of newly-released comic books with the sole purpose of luring Rick Jones into his clutches.

1. Why go through the trouble of placing an ad? Why didn't he just use his time-traveling powers to, oh, I don't know, grab Jones when he was at his most off-guard...like when he was asleep or something?

And who designed that ad for him? Did Immortus paste it up himself? Did he kidnap some poor advertising company employee and force him to assemble it? "Immortus commands you, Mr. Bob Smith of American Ad Designs, Inc., to create a full-page advertisement...of doom! Ah HA HA HA!"

2. So was Immortus sitting behind that desk all day, waiting for Jones to show up? And did Immortus have to turn away all the other kids who decided to answer the ad in person? "Hi! I'm here for my super-pow...." "You're not Jones! Go away!" "But...." "Go away!"

Then again, Immortus might have used his time-traveling powers to determine at what exact time Jones would have arrived, and only had his "office" (or lair, or whatever) open for just that brief window of time. But if Immortus had his act together to that extent, surely he would have also seen that this plan, like all his others, would have ended with his ass being handed to him by the good guys, and he wouldn't have even bothered in the first place.

Of course, had Jones decided to fill out and mail the coupon instead, that would have put a slight delay into Immortus' plans, I'd imagine.

Also from Avengers #10...since Immortus, in his own words, "never profanes his own hands in physical combat," he draws from the wellspring of history and brings forth warriors to fight for him. Real, historical figures from Earth's past, such as...Paul Bunyan:

Not some figure of the past who may have inspired the legends of Paul Bunyan, but an actual giant Paul Bunyan. Then again, maybe in the Marvel Universe, Paul Bunyan was a real person who, perhaps as a result of the type of mutation that seems to run rampant in said Marvel U., towered over his more normal sized brethren. Kinda like Giant-Man, only without the ability to alter his size.

Other characters that Immortus drags into the present include Merlin (maybe the same as Marvel Comics' other Merlin) and Hercules (presumably not the same as the other Hercules who would later join the Avengers).

(EDIT: It's been noted in the comments that these "mythical" characters' appearances have been explained by Kurt Busiek or Roger Stern or someone in later comics, retconned as Space Phantoms or something similar. Too bad...I like my "Paul Bunyan as mutant" theory. And on the Paul Bunyan theme...Dave relates Captain America's meeting with the world's largest lumberjack.)

Also, in the final battle, Immortus apparently makes Thor's leggings disappear:

That's just plain disturbing.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The things I find, searching on the eBay:


"All very sexy with very hot girls. These are classic, collectors comics. No crap here."

"Winning bidder will get web site address of my beautiful friend who is pictured in the auction"

And, true to the auction's title, there is absolutely no indication of what "underground" comics are being offered. My hunch is they're probably Eros Comics publications.

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