mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"Get with it!" 

from The Three Mouseketeers #7 (May-June, 1971)

Friday, January 18, 2008

"I have to be stopped!" 

So that enormous stock of science fiction books we picked up a while back...what the store that these books used to belong to would do is mark notes about the books directly on the plastic baggies they were stored in. Usually it was just things like "First Printing!" and "Frazetta cover!" and "Classic!" and stuff like that. And we haven't been replacing the bags...we're just slapping our pricetags on 'em and leaving the comments as is.

This one is my favorite thus far:

By an odd coincidence, "I have to be stopped! All women are my playthings!" was my "senior quote" in my high school yearbook. Go figure.

"Press your button to select a plot." 

Just a brief list of observations from the last couple of days at the shop:
  • Sales on the latest issue of Anita Blake are way off from previous issues, probably because of its lateness. Hopefully because of its lateness, and fans just don't realize it's out yet, as otherwise it means the bloom is off the Anita Blake rose, or something like that.

  • Marvel's taking orders for a second printing of Hulk #1. Is it really in that short of supply, or is this another "look, it's a hit, honest, why else would we go to a second printing" deal like with Amazing Spider-Man #546?

  • Speaking of second printings, I had someone ask if the Ultimates 3 #1 second printing had a variant cover, and I immediately started to cry.


  • There's been some mockery of the sparseness of the Cloverfield cups. "Boy, they went all out on these things, didn't they?" is a common refrain. They do look kinda plain, but it's not like they were going to put pictures of the monster all over 'em or anything.

  • Speaking of Cloverfield, one of my customers mentioned that he heard it was based on the old Rampage arcade game, and I thought, "oh, c'mon," but then I Googled it up and WHAT THE HELL.

  • Conversation with Customer Scott:

    Customer Scott: "Is Rob Liefeld unable to draw a closed mouth?"

    Me: "You probably could have ended that question three words earlier."

  • Customer Kevin was going to speak to an elementary school class about drawing and making comic books, and asked me if I could provide a bunch of Free Comic Book Day comics he could use for giveaways, which I gladly provided (after stamping the store address on the covers, of course...get those customers early!).

    Anyway, Kevin came back to the store today to let me know things went swimmingly, and gave me a photo of himself with the class, all holding their comic books. I'm not going to post it here, since I don't think the kids' parents would want some complete stranger putting up images of their young'uns on his site, but it's a very cute picture...it's one of those photos where after taking the "nice" photo, you get to cut loose with the "silly" photo, and that's the one I got. Man, some of those kids can pull some seriously wacky faces.

  • A few words about the week's new releases: Fell #9 - probably Warren Ellis' sharpest, most concise, most accessible work, with experimental-yet-understandable artistic support from Ben Templesmith. Best bit: the representation of Fell's mental pictures of what his unseen "perp" was up to.

    Booster Gold #6 - Yeah, I wouldn't get to used to this being the "status quo" for that particular character if I were you.

    Groo: Hell on Earth #3 - I love Groo comics just about more than any other comic, but sometimes its occasional "message" comics just barely dance around the edge of being a little too heavy-handed.

    Amazing Spider-Man #547 - So it occurred to me...if there's a marriage between Peter and Mary Jane in the next film, how fast will that "deal with the devil" be undone?

    Incredible Hercules #113 - Actually pretty good. Light, fun read...Hercules in the right writer's hands is always a hoot, even though things take a serious turn at the end here. Plus, Wonder Man! In his old red jacket look, yet! (Yes, I know he appears in other books with his old look, but I don't read those, man.)

  • About a couple of next week's Marvel books:

    World War Hulk Aftersmash: Damage Control #1 - A quick flip through our preview copy shows that this new series is right in line with the three classic mini-series of years past. The art's a little slicker, but the characters still look recognizably like their old selves.

    Marvel Zombies 2 #4 - While I hated the zombie overkill Marvel did with all those zombie variant covers a while back...I don't have any problem with the Marvel Zombies series proper. It remains gross and dark-humored, but it feels like the steam is running out of this particular franchise. A Marvel Zombies 3 would really not be a good idea...which of course won't stop it from happening.

  • Only because it came up at work the other day...here's a YouTube video showcasing my all-time favorite computer game theme music:

    If you want to see seven minutes of the game in action, here's a clip of the Commodore 64 version.

    And here's about 10 minutes of the C64 version of another game I spent far too much time on as a young Mikester.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Don't ask. 

No commentary, no reviews, no linkdumps, no sarcasm, no predictions, no news... 

...just a picture of Sluggo:



Some days, that's all I can offer you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mike's New Comics Day Lunchtime Update 3009. 

1. It occurred to me that more people are going to see that Wonder Woman Playboy cover in one month than will see actual Wonder Woman comics in an entire year. No point to make, really, just an observation.

2. Employee Jeff and I came up with our own take on the current Booster Gold series, where Booster is traveling through time in the DC Universe trying to fix things. Well, let's say someone way too upset over recent DCU events (like, say, someone from scans_daily) gets hold of a time machine and tries to undo all the "horrible, terrible, contradicts my fan-fic" events...and of course ends up making things much worse. So Booster has to go back and redo all the things that were undone...kill Sue Dibny, steal and destroy Spoiler's display from the Batcave, beat Jason Todd to death with a crowbar...okay, that last one isn't that recent, and it's been kinda undone, but I like the image of Booster doing this.

Employee Jeff and I are bad people.

3. Overhead in the store - someone describing Umbrella Academy to a friend on the phone: "Yeah, it's this comic written by a guy in this stupid band...."

(NOTE TO THE OVERSENSITVE: I was just amused by the comment, and I have no particular opinion on either the comic or the band in question. Save the indignation.)

4. I suspect we would have received a second printing on Amazing Spider-Man #546 regardless of how it sold. "'See, getting rid of the marriage in the stupidest way possible was a great idea!' exclaims Joe Q."

Apparently we received some Cloverfield promo material at the shop... 

...as this is what I found on one of the counters when I got to work Tuesday morning:

A close-up of the plastic cups...good gravy, they sent us a lot of these:


That's particularly amusing given what folks were assuming about Cloverfield early on.

Note to self: give Employees Aaron and Jeff more to do on Mondays.

By the way, I don't really feel one way or the other about this film. Maybe I'll rent it from Netflix when it moves to DVD in about four months. I like the cups, though...I can use those.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Wow, 32...that's old." 

Issues 3 and 4 of the relaunched Flash comic (Aug-Sept 1987) involve Wally's battle with an extraterrestrial machine intelligence called the Kilg%re. It's exciting, it's creepy, and its conclusion stretched credulity (20-year-old SPOILER: they had to shut down every power grid IN THE WORLD in order to stop this thing). A few other notes about these issues:

1. The correct pronunciation of "Kilg%re" was quite the topic in the Flash letter columns, as I recall. In my head, I always pronounced it "Kilgolore," making the percent sign into two Os and an L for no real good reason. However, this had the added benefit of sounding like "Kill Galore," and how cool is that? I suppose most people just called it "Kilgore," which was probably easier. I don't know if an actual pronunciation ever popped up anyway, but I'm sure one of you folks will let me know.

2. President Reagan makes an appearance. Hi, Ronnie!

You know, comic books sure took to the Gipper...he was always popping up in some superhero book or other, and I'm not even talking about Reagan's Raiders. He would just turn up, sometimes being turned into a giant snake creature to fight Captain America, sometimes just doing something presidential (good or ill), but for a while there it seemed like he was in every other comic. Other recent presidents haven't had nearly the funnybook facetime as ol' Ron...not either Bush, not Carter, not Clinton...well, maybe Nixon. Those other presidents had their moments, but for about eight years, the comics loved featuring Reagan.

3. The Kilg%re storyline was the one that introduced Dr. Tina McGee as a love interest for Wally, which was notable for two reasons. One, Dr. McGee was 32, twelve years older than 20-year-old Wally. I'm sure the 18-year-old Mikester at the time thought "wow, 32...that's old," which makes the 38-year-old Mikester I am now want to go back in time and slap him.

And two...oh, did I mention she was married? Separated, yes, but still married. That caused a stir among the fans, as you might imagine. Granted, it caused some difficulty and guilt with Wally in-story...not enough to keep him from her, sure. And it played into the next storyline, when her estranged husband shows up and, oh, it turns out he has super-speed powers, too, and he's deranged. Wouldn't you know it.

4. And the Kilg%re is defeated, though it pops up now and again in the Flash comic, and apparently it has something to do with Maxwell Lord becoming a robot or some damned thing, which doesn't matter because that's all been retconned away anyway.

By the way, I'm going to be slowly rereading my Flash run, in those brief lulls when I'm not overwhelmed with lots of other reading to catch up on. Hopefully you won't mind my occasional commentary on the issues I've just read popping up here over the next few weeks or months...I'm not planning on turning this into Progressive Ruin's All-Flash Fansite or anything.

Also by the way, I do intend on responding to some of your good and/or witty comments on my posts from the last few days. Just haven't had much time to do so, and I apologize. I am reading them, rest assured!

I finally received that Cinematic Titanic DVD I ordered a couple of weeks ago...and yes, I've watched it all the way through already. It feels like classic Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (which it should, since MST creator Joel Hodgson is responsible), and they picked a real stinker of a movie (The Oozing Skull) to kick off the series, and it's perfect for the format. Not every joke works, but with the number they throw at you, that's only to be expected.

Some notes:

1. The eventual plan of Cinematic Titanic is to offer their films either via download for your own burning pleasure, or via an actual DVD which would be mailed to you. This first movie isn't yet available for download, due to some distribution right issues with the film's owner, but when both options are available, if it'll make your decision any easier, the DVD they mail you comes with NO extra packing material or goodies. It's just a DVD (with an affixed label), in a mailing envelope. You're not going to miss out on any neat DVD covers or anything if you just download the film and burn it yourself.

Also, the DVD I received had some minor scuffing on the playable side...enough to make me concerned prior to playing the film, but it appeared to play okay on my machine.

2. The format of the program is a little different from MST3K or the other spin-off project The Film Crew, in that there's no preamble, no set-up for why this particular group of folks are watching this movie, who's inflicting this film on them, and so on. You hit "play," the cast's silhouettes walk in from the sides of the screen and take their positions, and the movie and riffing immediately begin.

And the entire program takes place in this "theatre." Unlike MST3K and Film Crew, there's no leaving the film to go perform skits. Instead, one of the CT cast will say, "whoa, hold on" or something similar, and the film is paused while the cast goofs on the frozen image, or brings in silhouetted props (like the chandelier thing I mentioned), and otherwise performs bits, still related to the film, but otherwise outside the normal riffing.

3. Just so this is tangentially related to comic books, there is a joke about Todd McFarlane's Spawn during the film's opening credits.

3a. Come to think of it, McFarlane himself is only tangentially related to comic books, nowadays.

Big bad Kevin Church's mini-series Cover Girl is back, in that trade paperback format you kids go wild for, so go out and buy it. It's a fun and witty adventure/comedy that Ringwood Ken Lowery liked, and since Ken is right about all things, you know you can trust that review.

Also, Kevin has posted commentary for the first two chapters, so when you buy your copy of Cover Girl and read it, you can read it again with Kevin looking over your shoulder, metaphorically speaking, telling you neat stuff about it.

Also also, Kevin used my name and pal Dorian's for a couple of minor characters in the book, which probably means some of you will think this recommendation is biased, which is probably is, but I never promised you nuthin', pal, so back off. And, believe it or not, somehow I missed our names in that book when I was reading it on the installment plan, which annoyed Kevin slightly. I don't know how I missed them, considering I was scouring the pages waiting for my and Dor's names to pop up. Must've missed that panel, somehow, or I was distracted ("Ooh, new All Star Batman!") or something. Hey, I'm not perfect. Just close.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"We also acknowledge that premarital sex obviously does exist...." 

So that panel I posted from New Teen Titans #1 yesterday, with Dick Grayson and Starfire...I mentioned that there was some consternation on the part of the fans at the scene, and I went looking for such in the letters pages for that comic. I found a couple people noting it, generally positively, with some "I didn't realize their relationship was so serious!" reactions. I suppose the shocked, negative reactions were mostly in the fan press of the time...it was enough for writer/editor Marv Wolfman to address it in issue #4:

"...This has become one of the most controversial panels we've ever presented. Many readers wrote in saying 'Way to go!' and others said 'How could you do that in a book about teenagers?'

"The question cannot be resolved in a letter column. We didn't mean to use Dick and Kory as role-models. That's never been our intention anyway, but we realize by their being printed and portrayed as heroes (which they are) the mantle of being a role-model rests on their shoulders.

"We acknowledge the problem some of you had with the scene and we apologize if it bothered you. We honestly had no idea there would be any problem. We also acknowledge that premarital sex obviously does exist, and we neither condone nor condemn those who believe or disbelieve in it."

If they didn't expect that certain fans weren't going to flip out in reaction to that scene, then all I can figure is they'd never encountered any fans before, ever.

I've just sat here for about ten minutes, trying to think of a way to frame a discussion on the idea of "superheroes as role models." Is that really as much of an issue any more? Sure, we like our heroes to be, well, heroic, but I don't know if any of you folks out there, who are self-aware enough about their comic-collecting to, say, read blogs about comics, are making decisions by thinking "Hmmmm....what would Green Lantern do?"

The "role model" thing seems to be an extension of the "superheroes should be kid-friendly" idea, which is fine, but with the departure of children (for the most part) from superhero comic readership, I wonder if the perceived need to maintain characters as role models for them has lessened.

Okay, the answer is probably "Well, duh," but it's just something that came to mind.

If I had to pick a role model for myself from the comics...hmmm, I'd have to think about it, because all that comes to mind right now is "Popeye," though that's not a bad choice, considering. Swamp Thing seems too obvious. How 'bout Herbie? God, I don't think I'd be up to emulating Herbie...who could?

In other news: I don't know where pal JP finds this stuff, but thank God he does. JOKER LADY AND BAT HORSE. The heck? (Don't worry, it's Safe for Work.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

No, not that Chunk

Speaking of those early Wally West Flash comics, one supporting character I miss is the Chunk:

He was a scientist who was involved in an accident with a matter transporter machine he'd invented...he could now teleport, but he also had to consume high-density material to feed the singularity that now existed within him, or be consumed himself. Or something like that...you can read more about it here. Anyway, though Chunk was initially one of the Flash's adversaries, he eventually reformed and became a regular cast member and a pal of Wally's.

In his initial appearance, Chunk was...well, he was just plain creepy, spitting swallowed diamonds at the Flash as projectile weapons, his bizarre run-on sentence dialogue, his oddly proportioned body (he was obese, but his body was anatomically...peculiar -- whether that was a deliberate artistic choice or not, it still added to his otherworldliness). Later on, as a cast member he mellowed out a bit, often on the kind and generous, if a little naive, side, though I still recall a sequence where he chewed Wally out for only showing up when he needed Chunk's help, and never just being his pal.

Last I recall he was engaged to be married to one of Wally's ex-girlfriends, so I suppose he eventually lived Happily Ever After, even though that Wikipedia entry I linked above notes a couple of additional appearances I hadn't read. They better not have killed Chunk off, man.

So, anyway...Chunk. Where's his series?

Commenter Joe brought up the fact that the early Flash letter columns were scandalized by Wally's womanizing, which reminded me of this panel from the first Baxter-paper issue of The New Teen Titans from 1984:

Oh, I do seem to remember the fans crapping a brick when they saw that. Dick Grayson, former Robin/now Nightwing, engaging in blatant unclothed snugglebunnies with teammate Starfire? Will the Union stand?

A quick sales update: even though it was way late, even though it was mostly unreadable crap...Onslaught: Reborn #5 still sold well. It blew off our shelves, and I'm only a copy or two away from being completely out.

You know, I don't ever hear about too many people declaring that they're Rob Liefeld fans...usually the opposite, in fact. But someone's buying these comics.

I've known about this for thirty years... 

...and yesterday was the first time I'd seen any footage from it, thanks to the YouTube:

Read more about it, if you dare.

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