mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, August 04, 2007

"Fool! With my brain power -- I can twist your ectoplasm into so much mindless mist!" 

Here is one of my all-time favorite Justice League of America sequences: while the disembodied mental projection of supervillain Hector Hammond gloats over a fallen Justice League, Professor Martin Stein (himself the floating disembodied mental projection portion of Firestorm, the Nuclear Man) decides to take action....

from Justice League of America #205 (August 1982) by Gerry Conway, Don Heck & Romeo Tanghal

Friday, August 03, 2007

A little San Diego swag. 

So as I mentioned a couple days ago, I had a number of goodies and freebies acquired for me from the San Diego Comic Con, since I wasn't in a position to attend yet again. My freebies, let me show you them:

This is the item I'd mentioned the other day, a thick "catalog" of the kinds of advanced tech available in the Eureka TV show's mileu. The "Eye-Pod Sky Satellite Tracker," the "Thought Messenger Earpiece" -- each complete with product descriptions, diagrams, and photos of each of the show's stars accompanying nearly every entry. This was a well thought-out, attractive advertisement for the show.

I wasn't really planning on buying this, a novel detailing the events on Krypton, the lives of Superman's parents Jor-El and Lara, up until the planet's destruction. Still not, really, but this excerpt booklet is signed by the author, so what the heck, it's a nice keepsake.

(And that's how "packratting" works, friends.)

This Futurama mini-comic contains a new story plugging the forthcoming direct-to-DVD revival of the series, with the premise of the Package Express crew being invited to "Packagecon in Space Diego." Sample dialogue from the book's beginning:

Bender: "...I demand a hero's welcome after 72 network episodes."

Fry: "'Network episodes?'"

Leela: "That's what we call the deliveries we made for the Box Network, a division of Twentieth Century Box."

Bender: "And by my count, we did 72 primetime episodes."

Fry: "'Primetime?'"

Leela: "That's what we call deliveries between 8 and 11 PM, or 7 and 10 on Sundays."

Nice slam at Fox and their program-killing scheduling changes (see also The Tick live action series) in that last bit there.

This is a Con-exclusive variant cover for the last issue of that Flash series-that-wasn't. Shame about the comic inside, but that variant ain't half bad lookin'. (Though it's still not as good as the cover that inspired it.)

A handful of different cover flats for Star Trek novels were brought back from the Con, and I kept this one to remind myself to look for the book when it finally comes out. I don't read a whole lot of Star Trek books any more, aside from the William Shatner ghost-written novels (as those are constructed from pure Nerdgasmite and a lot of fun) and the Peter David novels (like the one above), which are generally clever and entertaining.

Actually, glancing through the other Trek novel flats we received, some of those grabbed my attention as well. One follows the adventures of the Enterprise-E after the events in Star Trek: Nemesis, the last Next Generation film, in which Picard has lost Riker to his own command, must deal with the loss of Data, has Worf as his new first officer, and hijinks ensue. Another book follows Riker to his new ship, the Titan, and the adventures he has there. Makes me wonder, just a bit, if the Trek books are going to attempt to follow the Star Wars novel template and maintain a tighter continuity among the books in their post-Nemesis universe.

These are kinda geekishly cool...portable Flash drives designed to look like Star Wars characters (and apparently prepackaged with Star Wars content on the drives, like wallpapers, movies, and sound bytes). Come to think of it, in the movies, wasn't Artoo kind of like a giant rolling Flash drive, anyway? He kept getting plugged into different machines, from Imperial computers to X-Wings, and people kept putting info onto the drive willy-nilly (Death Star plans, holograms of princesses)....

A few good buttons this year, not too many...this one ties in to the Heroes TV show....

...and this little teeny-tiny one (blown up good 'n' big here) ties into some old obscure comic strip I'm sure you've never heard of.

That's not nearly everything that was brought back for me...I have about a million promo postcards that I'm not sure what I've going to do with, but I also got a free paperback science fiction novel (Spin State by Chris Moriarty) which looks pretty good, and plenty of freebie bookmarks to use with it. And I was also given a copy of the Con's Event Guide, which not only details all the panels I missed, but also has a swell cover by Sergio Aragones.

So, you folks what attended the San Diego Con...what was your favorite freebie?

Thursday, August 02, 2007


...Spawn's also a Doctor Who fan, apparently.

Radioactive Man, odd inquiries, monsters, shilling, bills, and Popeye. 

So, at long last, I got my 7-11 exclusive Radioactive Man funnybook (#711, natch), courtesy pal Brook. He heard of my need, kept an eye out, and lo, he did find a stack of freshly delivered Radioactive Man comics in the distant and wild jungles of Montalvo, and picked up a copy for me. He's a swell guy, that Brook.

I'm not sure what the distribution is like on these things...is there just one batch shipped per store (when Brook went back to check for more copies at that particular 7-11, they were gone), are there follow-up shipments, does every 7-11 get them? I have no idea. The 7-11s in my neck of the woods never seemed to have received any, or they only received one shipment and blew everything out already.

Anyway, I've discussed the contents previously (two reprints, one new story), along with a couple gag ads I suspect have seen print before, and the new front and back covers pictured above. It's a nice little package, and even the shrinkwrap is attention-grabbing...here's a close-up of the top of the bag:

If you still want a copy of this, haunt your local 7-11, or wait a few weeks for the Simpsons movie to be out of theatres, and copies of this comic should be cheap and plentiful on the eBay.

Apparently I missed a weird moment or two at the store when I was out on Monday. There was a customer there who was following Employee Aaron around and asking him an endless series of questions. Here are actual examples:

1. "Why does Cthulhu have to be so scary?"

2. "Do I look gay?"

Wow, how do you answer that? "First, Cthulhu is scary because he wasn't hugged enough as a youngster and now he's acting out. Second...yes." Okay, I have no idea what the guy actually looked like, but if someone asks you that, you might as well just say "yes" and see what will happen.

Also, apparently the most popular weapon used by comic book characters is the katana. Sure, why not?



Sorry, just watched the Monster Squad DVD, and that's been stuck in my head ever since. Even more so than "Wolfman's got nards!" And you know, when my pal Rob and I were sitting in the movie theatre, and we heard that particular bit of nard-related dialogue, we both knew right then that a cinematic legend had been born.

Now, perhaps this film hasn't aged quite as well as its thematic cousin The Goonies...the effects are a little more creaky, the plot contrivances a little more, well, contrived. Plus, I think I've had sneezes that are longer than the runtime of this flick. But, it's an amiable enough movie with plenty of laughs and amusing performances by the leads, the monsters themselves are nicely designed, and the DVD release (which I'd been anticipating for quite a while now) has about a bazillion extras, so...well, I don't buy too many DVDs any more, but I had to have this one in the collection. Plus, it does the "fighting all the classic monsters in one movie" thing a hell of a lot better than Van Helsing.

Those of you offended by crass commercialism, turn away for a moment.

I was going to put up the Babylon 5 link with yesterday's post, until I realized I was talking about how the version of the DVD distributed by a major national chain comes with extra material, and putting up an Amazon link with that seemed...well, kind of silly. But, if you don't care about the extra comic book, there's a link for your convenience.

Don't worry, I'm not going to fill up my site with Amazon ad after Amazon ad. I will use them once in a while, but I won't overdo it, I promise. (I have another DVD in my possession at the moment that I'll eventually discuss here, and that's definitely getting an Amazon link posted with it, just out of sheer perversity).

And why the Popeye DVD link? I mean, aside from the fact that old Popeye cartoons are the Greatest Thing Ever? You'll see in a moment.

One thing I'm glad about the San Diego Comic Con being over...that mad crunch of product being released over the last month in order to have it out for the show has finally lightened up a bit. Combined with the higher than usual number of "event" books and Big Releases, along with folks trying to get their books out before the end of the month so they wouldn't be considered late and made returnable...our distributor bills were insane.

Luckily business has been pretty good, but still, those bills were reaching '90s boom levels, almost.

In honor of the release of the original, wonderful Popeye cartoons on DVD, please enjoy Popeye Vs. Anime, a video you've already seen on Boingboing but I wanted to put here anyway:

I would note that Popeye seems a little out of character, as he would help anyone in need regardless of how freaky they may seem, but I don't want to be that guy, you know?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

San Diego, Babylon 5, The Simpsons, and crass commercialism. 

  • You know, I didn't even go to the San Diego Comic Con, and I feel worn out from it anyway. If you need to know more about what happened there, Tom's got the links you need.

    Pal Dorian and I are thinking about attending the next Los Angeles Wizard World convention, since neither of us made it to San Diego. Not quite the same, I know, but should make for some good 'blogging, at the very least. If you happen to be going to that same convention, keep an eye out for us...Dor will be dressed as a Borgified Han Solo, and I'll be wearing my Red Sonja costume.

    Some of my faithful minions did bring me back some ill-gotten gains from the wilds of the Con, which I haven't really had time to finish going through, yet. I did get lots of new buttons, oh yes, and a cute promo booklet for the Sci-Fi Channel show Eureka, done up like a little catalog for the crazy inventions that appear on the program. There was also a set of Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger headphones for use with your transistor radios or your portable cassette players, and you have my permission to punch me if you see me wearing them.

    More reports on the San Diego freebies once I finish...processing them.

  • Apparently, if you buy the new Babylon 5: The Lost Tales DVD at Best Buy, it comes packaged with an "exclusive" B5 comic book. Now, I figured it was just going to be a small-sized reprint of one of the several DC Comics-produced B5 funnybooks, but it is in fact a brand new short story (six pages), written by B5 creator J. Michael Straczynski and illustrated by Kaare Andrews and Shannon Blanchard. It explains where B5 regulars G'Kar and Dr. Franklin are during the course of the stories presented on this DVD...and it functions as a nice tribute as well, since the actors who portrayed those characters (Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs) had both unfortunately passed away since the original B5 series wrapped.

    As for the actual DVD movie itself...it is split into two parts: the first half involves a straight-faced, sci-fi take on demonic possession. I know how that sounds, but it's pretty good and includes some nice bits of business about the impact of mankind's departure into space upon the Earthbound religions. The second story, which, alas, I haven't finished watching yet (I'm writing this, instead!) has President Sheridan directly confronting that old philosophical problem of whether you would kill Hitler as a baby if you know it would save lives later. Soon as I post this, I'll finish watching it and find out how it ends. Entertaining so far, though...Galen the Technomage from Crusade is in this story, and he's always fun to have around.

  • The Simpsons Movie, as you might have heard, has done shockingly well over its opening weekend, taking in over $74,000,000 domestically. There's life in those old Simpsons yet, apparently. The movie itself is a hoot, and surprisingly doesn't go too overboard with its freedom from broadcast TV restrictions (there's only one gag that couldn't be done on regular television, no way, no how, and the only non-family hour vulgarity uttered in the film...at least, that I recall...comes from the last person you'd expect). Solid laughs, and some actual touching moments, throughout, with only the scenes with "President Schwarzenegger" falling mostly flat.

  • Speaking of The Simpsons...as I first noted on this site back in November, Alan Moore (along with other comic book luminaries Art Spiegelman and Dan Clowes) will be appearing on the October 7th episode. Another comic book store opens in Springfield (run by a character voiced by Jack Black), much to the chagrin of local shop owner Comic Book Guy. "NERDIEST...EPISODE...EVER," if I may dare to say so.

  • I've added a couple new thingies to the sidebar...one is an Amazon.com affiliate link, which I've been meaning to do for, like, forever. If you buy stuff through that link, I get a small piece of the action, which will help keep me in Diet Coke and sausages. There's also a small PayPal button there, too, because while I'm too proud to beg, I'm not too proud to keep an internet payment service from doing it for me.

    And it's been there for a while, but clicking on the "Hosted by 1&1" link and buying some product and/or service from them gets me a little something, too. I've been using 1&1 as my hosting service for the nearly four years I've been running this site of mine, and I've been very happy with them. Maybe you will be, too.

    As far as I know, the banner ad for The Rack doesn't pay me anything, unless those guys are sittin' on my money. You know they've got the phat cash.

    Sigh. Sorry for the commercial, pals. Just trying to get a little ahead, just like everyone else on the planet.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Overlong Punchline Theatre Presents... 

...this last panel of a gag strip from a Golden Age book I forgot to note the name of:

"I'm not going to miss you --- with this punch!" I'm totally using that in my next fistfight with Tom.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Just a few short bits of business... 

...as I've been otherwise occupied:

  • So, remember my "Satan Speaks" panel with the blank word balloon I had up a few days ago? I finally got around to gathering links to folks who supplied their own amusing and/or terrifying dialogue, so be sure to go back to the original post and find the links to some very funny contributions. And like I say there...if I missed your contribution, let me know!

  • So long as I'm linking back to older posts...I may have griped about that stupid flap of skin on Jonah Hex's face, but Dr. Polite Scott actually did something about it.

  • I was reminded of Dr. Scott's Hex post over at the Want List's Jonah Hex Badass week, starting here.

  • Whlie Employee Jeff was at the San Diego Con, he made sure to tell Grant Morrison about how I was singing my little song based on something he wrote. I'M NOT CRAZY, GRANT...I'M NOT!

  • Haven't seen The Simpsons yet, but I did see Transformers over the last weekend (blame the girlfriend's nephews, who were coming with us, and outvoted me on which flick to watch). As I've said a few times before, I've no particular attachment to the Transformers, but the movie was reasonably entertaining, even if it was near impossible to figure out what the hell was going on in some of the battle scenes.

  • Special San Diego version of the Iron Man movie trailer, via Camcorder Vision, and already posted everywhere else:

    [EDIT: YouTube yanked the video.]

    Not ideal viewing conditions, admittedly, but I liked hearing the crowd's reactions to the trailer. And the movie itself doesn't look terrible...so far.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

In which Mike just got home from the movies, and is trying to post something before he goes to bed. 

  • Rich over at Roots of the Swamp Thing has something new and exciting up on his site: Darko Macan's pitch for what would have been the third Swamp Thing series (instead of the one starring TefĂ© that we did get). So take a look, see what could have been.

  • A couple things discussed with pal Dorian at the shop on Saturday:

    "Funny, we seem to be able to sell Countdown just fine...it's meeting, and occasionally exceeding, our sales on 52. -- which no one on the internet liked at first, either."

    "Wait wait wait...so the guy's defense of the Watchmen movie was that the promo poster looked cool? Wha-huh?"

  • Occasionally, either here or at the shop, I'll reference Marvel's publishing strategies, one of which is "do what other people are doing, only do more of it and not as well," and the other being "if it's popular, do as much of it as possible until people are sick of it, but then continue to do even more of it anyway." That last strategy, AKA "Killing the Golden Goose" -- in danger of taking out Marvel Zombies, if they're not careful. And they're not too careful, considering that inexplicable Thor zombie variant. The Thor comic has nothing to do with any of the zombie stuff. Are we going to get zombie variants on every Marvel comic? Maybe a special "Zombie Month?"

  • I sure do get asked to explain what an "annual" is an awful lot.

  • In reference to the apparent demand for a Devil Dinosaur at the San Diego convention...the thing about Devil Dinosaur is that it's such a Jack Kirby fever dream of a comic, that any attempt at a revival, with "continuity" and "tying in to the larger Marvel Universe" and "modern sensibilities" and "coherence" would just not feel right.

    One or two people wouldn't be enough to keep Devil Dinosaur's off-kilter feel intact. Sure, Jack Kirby was just one person, but he's Jack Kirby...normal human laws don't apply to him. So I think a new Devil Dinosaur series would work best with a rotating creative team. In fact, with a randomly selected creative team for each issue, DC Challenge-style. That's keep everyone just a little off-balance, adding a bit of needed surrealism to the proceedings.

    However, unlike DC Challenge, where all the creators volunteered to be in the pool of talent from which the random selection was made, anyone in the comics industry can be called for the book at any time, and service is mandatory. It'd be kind of like jury duty.

    "Jim Lee, you must draw Devil Dinosaur #12."

    "But I'm working on All-Star Ba---"


  • That said, I'd love to see Mark Schultz do an issue of Devil Dinosaur.

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