mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Oh, that poor chameleon. 

ad from He-Man Real Life Adventure Magazine #2 (July 1954)

Friday, November 02, 2007

The best idea for a "versus" discussion I've read in a while. 


"The Batmobile versus Kitt, Batman vs Michael Knight, who would win?"

"The Bat against The Man Who Does Not Exist! After that Bruce Wayne and Michael Knight have a date with Babe Watch."

"Kit beats the Batmobile because it has the voice of 'Mr. Finney' from Boy Meets World powering it."

"Ah, Kitt might beat the Batmobile, but then Bats would drag Hoff around by his pretty hair and then use him as a speedbump. Kitt would be so devastated having entrenched his long time friend/partner that Bats would then override Kitt's defense system and dismantle him until he could further study the technology. Of course Hoff would spend months in traction, but his injuries would not be mortal."

"KITT would destroy the Batmobile. That thing gets destroyed like almost every appearance. KITT was twice. I think it was 2? If you count the crappy Knight Rider 2000 movie."

"Batman- one of his earth's greatest martial artists, utilty belt, tons of cash and resourves=weapons,instant comm link to Oracle

Micheal Knight- has a talking car, 'bad boy' leather jacket and an 80s perm."

"1. Which Batmobile? The DKR Tank-like beast would crush KITT
2. Any version of Batman would crush Michael Knight"

"...Neither Kitt nor Micheal Knight has ever dealt with the level of mayhem and chaos that Batman and the batmobile regularly encounters on a nightly basis."

The question of prep time prior to battle is asked, to some chagrin. To wit:

"Prep time or no prep time?"

"well, if da hoff had the prep time, and he had thanos, galactus, darkside, and an army of a million daleks backing him up.....hmmm"

"How much "prep time" do they normally get in comic stories? Often the hero or villain meets up in the midst of battle or get tossed together. Prep time is just stupid."

One person sees a quick way to a conclusion ending for this epic battle:

"On the other hand, suppose they swapped opponents?

Michael Knight would take a crowbar and destroy the nonsentient, immobile Batmobile.

Kitt would just run over Batman.

Points to the Knight Rider team!"

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I got no candy for Halloween. 

So a couple months ago, in a previous "End of Civilization" post, I poked a little fun at Wizard's promised Spider-Man 4 feature. Well, that issue is now here, so let's see how well I guessed the contents.

Question #1 from the ad: "Will Sam Raimi Direct?"

What I said a couple months ago:

"Maybe...apparently he was asked at the 2007 San Diego Con about it, and he says he might, if he likes the script. However, they're still short a scriptwriter for the fourth film."

What Wizard says in the newest issue:

"'I don't know if I'll just be a producer on it, but if I can work with the writer in such a way that directing would be right for me, I don't know,' teased [Raimi]."

Question #2 from the ad: "Does Tobey Maguire Return?"

What I said:

"If the studio dishes out the cash, sure. If not, no."

What Wizard says:

"[Maguire says] '...If they come up with a good movie, and the whole team wants to come back together, then I'm up for it.'"

Article continues, mentioning his Robotech project possibly taking his time away from Spider-Man. Basically comes to similar, if less cynically put, conclusion as I do: maybe yes, maybe no.

Question #3 from the ad: "Who Will Be The Villains?"

What I said:

"Well, there's that whole no scriptwriter thing, but of course the moneymen may want certain villains used that'll make good toys, t-shirts, etc. But I'm guessing we're probably not getting Dr. Octopus, Green Goblin, Venom, Sandman, or 'Hobgoblin' (or whoever Harry was supposed to be). We're probably not getting Frogman or the White Rabbit, either. Unfortunately."

What Wizard says:

Venom is "unconfirmed" (i.e. no), Goblin not likely, other new-to-the-film-franchise villains mentioned.

So, for the most part, I came pretty close, I think. The article is, as expected, a whole lot of speculation and no real answers beyond "maybe this'll happen" and "maybe that actor will come back." But then again, the movie is three or four years away, so what solid info was anyone expecting?

They also have one of Wizard's casting calls, where they do have a great suggestion for a new Peter Parker (you'll just have to look yourself...or maybe I'll talk about it on the site later), and Joss Whedon is suggested as a possible replacement for Raimi, to which I say a two word phrase that rhymes with "fat chance."

That's enough Wizard for the moment. There is a creator retrospective on "The Death of Superman" which, as readers of this site might guess, I had plenty of interest in, and, for some reason, a video game quiz where I was able to answer the questions about games from before 1984, and had no clue about the later ones.

I'm old.

Random speculation about Death of the New Gods: so, we haven't seen the newest Mister Miracle, Shiloh Norman, yet. Having escaped the Life Trap in the Seven Soldiers event, perhaps Norman is going around trying to bring the other New Gods through a similar transcendental experience, taking them to a higher plane of being...an act that leaves their old bodies behind, with the appearance of having gone through a violent death.

And if they're not really dying, perhaps that's why the Source isn't responding to their demises.

I realize none of that makes any sense to anyone not "in" on the whole Fourth World thing. My apologies. "It's a Kirby thing...you wouldn't understand."

We had about a half-dozen Countdown and 52 titles this week. Seems to me being hit with so many at once is going to make customers have to pick and choose which ones they buy. And I suspect the ones that are starting this week (like Crime Bible) will be passed over in favor of tie-ins already being read. It's possible that books skipped this week will be picked up in following weeks, but most of the time, superhero comics do the majority of their selling in their initial week of release. We'll see what the cycle sheets say in a couple weeks.

Strip reprints of note this week:

Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories - a collection of strips from this site, and it will AFFECT YOUR BRAIN.

Zippy: Walk a Mile in My Muu-Muu - I really don't know what to tell you about Zippy to convince you to read it at this point. Either you're a Zippy person or you're not a Zippy person. If you are a Zippy person...hey, more Zippy is out! Hurrah!

A follow-up to the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 news from Tuesday...the rest of the MST3K cast not involved in other MST-like projects, including the show's creator (Joel Hodgson), and the original Mads (Trace Beaulieu and J. Elvis Weinstein) -- i.e. the original cast of the show -- are starting Cinematic Titanic, yet another MST-a-like with riffing of bad films, only with the silhouettes at the screen's side rather than at the bottom. Later additions to MST are also joining in...Mary Jo Pehl and the legendary TV's Frank, Frank Conniff.

Pretty much the entire on-screen staff from MST3K is now involved in new projects doing what MST popularized...riffing on bad movies, with the seemingly ironic exception of MST3K.com itself, planning to focus (as far as I can tell) on animated shorts.

It'd be nice if all these folks somehow got together, worked out their differences (I seem to recall some word of friction behind the scenes) and produced full-fledged Mystery Science Theatre again. Clearly there's some demand for MST-like material...a revival of actual MST would probably go great.

I know it really doesn't matter...listening to Mike, Kevin, and Bill on a Rifftrax or on a Film Crew DVD is nearly identical to watching one of the latter day MSTs. Adding robot puppets and the Satellite of Love and the Hexfield and so on are probably unnecessary extras to the actual point of these things -- the riffing on the film -- but wouldn't it be swell to have 'em back?

EDIT: I didn't realize that the newest Mystery Science Theatre 3000 boxed DVD set, Volume 12, came out this week. There's now a handy Amazon link to said set in the sidebar HINT HINT NUDGE.

Pretty much the only person I saw in costume at the shop yesterday was Employee Aaron, who was dressed as Air Pirates Mickey Mouse (basically, Mickey in aviator gear). How does one react to that?

Also, on the drive home from work, and on a drive over to a friend's house that evening, I saw several young women dressed as Elastigirl from The Incredibles...apparently that was a popular costume this year. Who knew?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stan Lee Presents SE7EN

"What's in the box?"

"C'mon...what's in the box?"

"Why won't you tell me what's in the box?"

"For the love of God...! What's in the box?"

"What's in the box? What's in the box?"



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Behold, 'bots, and bins. 


A brief mention of this vision on the site, and one of you, the faithful Progressive Ruin readers, comes through with this little bit of beautiful nightmare fuel. Drink it in, let it haunt not only your dreams, but your idle waking moments, when you're sitting at your desk at about 3:20 this afternoon, tapping your pencil on your keyboard, wondering if anything good is going to be on TV tonight, when suddenly, without warning, this image pops into your mind's eye:

Enjoy, won't you?

Image courtesy of reader John L., who has also been providing a boatload of swell logo banners for this site. And you can provide one, or a dozen, too, if you'd like...details here.

Now this is interesting:

Okay, clicking on Mst3k.com for now will just forward you to the official Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fan site Satellite News, where you can read more details on this new project, but I'll sum up briefly here.

Mystery Science Theatre is being relaunched as a new online project, with new animated shorts starring the 'bots Crow, Servo, and Gypsy. Two folks from the original show are involved...Jim Mallon (president of MST3K's parent company Best Brains, and returning voice of Gypsy) and Paul Chaplin (occasional onscreen performer on the original show, and the new voice of Crow). No word on Servo's voice, but I'm guessing that'll be handled by one of the "new talents" involved in the project...but whoever it is, he (or she?) is gonna have the unenviable task of following Kevin Murphy's robust performance as the character.

Of most interest to the longtime fans (like, say, myself) is the promise of behind-the-scenes footage and "from the vault" type material from the original show, as well as "all-new merchandise."

I suppose the relative success of the MST3K-like spin-off projects by former cast members Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and the aforementioned Murphy (Rifftrax and The Film Crew) was a major factor in this MST3K relaunch. I don't know (and the fan site doesn't indicate) whether or not we'll be getting more "wisecracking robots in movie theatres" action, or just the wacky adventures of the 'bots sans film mockery. But, the 'bots themselves are appealing characters, non-working arms and all, in their own right, outside of the riffing context, so I'm willing to give this new effort a shot, even with most of the original creative staff having moved on. This is a bit more of a change than the "Crow's got a new voice?" thing from the Sci Fi Channel years, but the promise of new material under the MST3K banner has got my attention.

This has been e-mailed to me several times over the last few days, so I guess I'd better post it here: photos of a scale model of Uncle Scrooge McDuck's money bin, with comic-accurate floor plans (including the Worry Room!). It's really an amazing piece of work, and I'm surprised Disney hasn't yet put out some kind of high-end porcelain statue along the lines of this model.

And I know the link's been popping up all over the place lately...but didn't it make the rounds a year or two ago? I can swear I've seen this before.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yet another "Death of Superman" post. 

Finally got around to seeing Superman/Doomsday, DC's inaugural effort in their new line of direct-to-DVD animated movies. So, now I can go back and read all the reviews and such that I sorta glossed over for the last month while avoiding "spoilers." (Wait...Superman died, and came back? Get outta here!)

The film itself is fine, if a very stripped down, simplistic version of the near-epic "Death/Return of Superman" storyline from the early '90s. While one could fill, oh, say, an entire blog post of the differences between the original comic book version of the story and the animated version, there is one primary difference I wanted to note. And this difference is intrinsic to the formats these two interpretations of the story have taken.

The actual impact of Superman's death in the course of this story (um...SPOILER, I guess?) is much, much less in the cartoon, if only because Superman's removal from the narrative is all of about fifteen minutes or so. It's just a very brief plot twist, there to give Luthor the opportunity to replace him with with a clone Superman under his command. The real Supes eventually wakes up, recovers in his Fortress, and comes back for the big fight scene. The end. The viewer never really feels that Superman is gone, because, well, "how can I miss you when you won't go away?"

On the other hand...after Superman's death in the funnybooks, he was gone. For the couple months that followed, we had Superman books with no Superman...pages filled with funerals and tributes and mourners and no real clue given as to how Superman would eventually return. The Superman books even went on a brief hiatus...they stopped publishing for a month or so, which I was going to say would be unheard of today, delaying publication of a top selling comic book. But then I remembered DC's botched relaunch of Wonder Woman, and Marvel's year and a half (and growing) gap between issues of Ultimate Hulk/Wolverine, et al, so it's not so uncommon nowadays, really.

But it really did make an impact when the Superman books stopped publishing, even for as briefly as they did, as the four Super-books had functioned essentially as one weekly title, a new issue of each Superman series every week. To have that schedule interrupted underscored the alleged death of the character. Okay, we had specials and whatnot in the interim, and when the titles relaunched a few weeks later, we still had no Superman. We had folks who took the Superman name, and maybe one or two who could have been a drastically changed Big Blue, but things weren't quite back to normal yet...and it would still be a couple months before the situation was resolved.

In short, the comics gave us time to get used to the idea, to really feel the impact, of Superman being gone. The movie doesn't. And, like I said, it's intrinsic to the format...it can't really be considered a criticism, because it's not like the film could end with Superman's death, with a note to "come back in Summer '08 for the shocking conclusion." Of course, no one familiar with comics really thought Superman was gone for good, but that extra gap the comics provided helped enhance the illusion.

The primary special feature on the disc is a longish documentary of the original "Death/Return" comics, with plenty of interviews with the folks responsible and lots of memories of the madness that followed. Period footage (I'm using "period" to refer to events from fifteen years ago...is that overstating it?) shows what the actual "Super-retreat" editorial meetings looked like, where the creative teams got together and hammered out the Superman plots for the following year. I'd always pictured editor Mike Carlin sitting in a throne like this one, making decrees with a wave of his scepter (tipped with the "S" logo), but seeing the actual meeting room in the documentary has spoiled that vision a bit.

There are some close-ups of the the white boards being used for plot notes in the meeting room, which allows for some DVD-pausin' fun:

For some reason, the big "FIGHT!!!" notes make me laugh:

Interestingly, when discussing the four replacement Supermen that turned up in the "Return of Superman" storyline, Superboy is (aside from a brief shot of his legs) never shown onscreen. When discussing Steel, or the Cyborg Superman, and so on, lots and lots and lots of images from the comics featuring those characters are presented. Superboy? Nada. (Presumably because of this, I'm guessing.)

Something else I've learned from this documentary: creator Dan Jurgens does not age. The man still looks like he's in high school. Clearly he's found the Fountain of Youth, and must be forced to divulge its location.

There's also a brief documentary focusing on the vocal talents behind the cartoon (Ray Wise as Perry White? No way!), which suffers from an extreme lack of any screentime for John DiMaggio, the voice of Futurama's Bender and the voice of the Toyman from this Superman cartoon. We also get a commentary track (which I haven't listened to yet), a preview of the next animated film (The New Frontier, which doesn't look half-bad), and one of those DVD games which I didn't have the patience to try. Sorry.

Overall...slight but watchable, with good vocal performances, some satisfyingly destructive action scenes, and backed up with a solid documentary about the comics themselves. If you're expecting anything close to the story that the original comics provided, forget about it. Taken on its own, however, it's not a bad way to spend an hour or two.

In other news:
  • Apparently Green Lantern is on track to being a film, again, with more directors and writers and such tied to the project. Well, I'll believe it when I see it. I'm still disappointed we're not getting the Jack Black version, which would have kicked ass and you know it.

    From another article on the subject:

    "Michael Green, who also has prior experience with Berlanti on Everwood and Jack & Bobby, wrote Superman/Batman for Marvel Comics."


  • An article from my alma mater's campus newspaper talks about Halloween costumes, and includes this passage of absolute truth:

    "One idea you may consider is being Wonder Woman or Swamp Thing, especially since Swamp Thing is probably the biggest badass ever."

    You're damn right. Though having Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman in the same sentence there briefly put the image of Swampy in WW's bathing suit costume and tiara, and I don't think I need that idea in my head. Get out, get out!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Be the first of your gang to have this wonderful compass." 

from Comic Cavalcade #59 (Oct/Nov 1959)

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