mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, April 12, 2008

But why was he haunted by the ghost that wasn't there? 

Ghost Stories #7 (July-Sept. 1964)

The terrible secret of the man's curse, of why he is haunted by this apparition, is revealed in a child's scrawl on the cover of this particular copy from our shop:

"Rememmmmmber to bruuuuuush every daaaaaay...or Dental Health Cat will get you! WoooOOOOoooo!"

Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't lick Galactus. 

Things I forgot to mention about stuff that came in this week:

First, I'm a sucker for all things Galactus, and guess which Classic Marvel Figurine Collection magazine made it into the shop this week?

You can see the full sized ad at the official site, and if you're in the UK...order one up for yourself! It's a nice looking statue. They even gave him the little square eyeballs.

The price of this package in what remains of the American dollar: $38. Can't quite fit that into the budget at the moment, but I made sure to get my dirty, dirty eyetracks all over this lead figurine and the accompanying literature at the store. The mag does include an extensive and fully-illustrated history of the character, both within the Marvel Universe and behind-the-scenes. It's written in just this side of a little too jokey a manner, but then, this is a guy in a big purple helmet who eats planets, so what was I expecting, really.

Second, and this was pointed out to me by customer Jess, is that the regular cover of Amazing Spider-Girl #19 is misnumbered as #17...but the Skrull variant for this issue has the correct numbering. That's a little amusing, I think. Hey, I'll take my amusement where I can find it.

Third...well, this isn't a new release or anything, but it is something I found this week in that huge sci-fi book collection we purchased a few weeks back:

Yes, that would be Gerry Conway, longtime comics writer, creator of Firestorm, original writer on Atari Force, later TV producer 'n' writer, who wrote this book back in '74. He was twenty-two at the time. He had written a previous novel at 19. What have you done lately? (The cover artist is Kelly Freas, in case you were wondering.) You know, I always realized "Gerry" was short for another name, but it still looks weird to me, seeing his full name like that. Just too many years seeing him credited as "Gerry" in the funnybooks, I guess.

Speaking of which, when I was pokin' around on the internet to see if this was indeed the same Mr. Conway, I found a reference on the Wikipedia page stating that his last comics work was for Topps in '93. Is that right? Has it really been that long? Goodness.

In other news:
  • My Canadian comics-blogging twin has more Riverdale shark shenanigans to accompany my Little Archie post from Sunday.

  • Chris Sims loves Wild Dog so you don't have to. (But then again...I do kind of like Wild Dog, despite itself. Somehow I managed to buy every appearance. I'm a Wild Dog completist! Surely there's some kind of ten-step program for that.)

  • Chris Butcher has a few thoughts about superhero comics, including his curiosity about just who out there is really in need of a second printing of Secret Invasion. Answer is "nobody," for the most part, since there's no shortage on this comic. My take on Marvel's reprint policy on books like this (such as Hulk #1 and the first "Brand New Day" Spider-Man book, which I alluded to here) is that Marvel is making a big deal out of reprinting these books to give the impression of "hotness," to get the buzz going, rather than out of filling any consumer demand. It's just an advertising gimmick to keep people talking about their releases, and to get the idea into everyone's head that they should buy the first printings of future issues of [CURRENT HOT SERIES] before they're gone and replaced by second printings as well.

    On the other hand...there is that small percentage of the customer base that will buy something just because it is a variant cover, whether it's because they like the new cover better than the one on the first printing, or because they're completists and have to have every variation of the book, or whatever. So for those customers, at least, we'll order a few copies.

    Yeah, it's an annoyance that Marvel does this, but I prefer this to its "no reprint" policy from a few years ago. They do manage to occasionally reprint comics that we can use, like some chapters of the X-Men "Messiah Complex" storyline, or, most notably, the first Marvel Zombies mini which, for a while there, was like printing money. That they offer up reprints of stuff like Secret Invasion once in a while is just one of those things we put up with. Like Chris says, they ain't foolin' anybody.

  • Just a reminder: he's been advertising in my Project Wonderful ad section over the last week or two, but I wanted to point him out here in the main portion of my site. Scott Saavedra, the spiritual godfather of my little weblog here, is still blogging away at Comic Book Heaven, which, as always, comes with my highest recommendation. He also has a second great weblog right here which, of late, has focused on his art direction of some of his Previews ads, and some cute alien t-shirt designs. Go visit, say "hi!"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sometimes I'll even talk about the new comics. 

So to tie in to the whole "Secret Invasion" company-wide crossover thing, Marvel has been sneaking "stealth" Skrull variants into a book or two each week, where a character on the cover is recolored and otherwise altered to resemble a Skrull. I talked about this a few days ago.

And wouldn't you just know it? DC Comics just has to go and horn in on the action. So there I am, counting the new arrivals Wednesday morning, checking for shortages and damages to call in to the distributor, and what do I find?

A stealth Durlan variant.

I was shocked, shocked I tell you, at DC's blatant mimicry of Marvel's groundbreaking promotional gimmick. And look at it...it looks like they just got, I don't know, some blogger with too much time on his hands to poorly paste in Chameleon Boy's face using a freeware graphics program. Shameful.

In other slightly less spurious comic news:
  • Last month I noted that all of our copies of Cable #1 had loose center pages, and at the time the word was any replacements were unlikely.

    Well, this week, we not only received the replacements on the damaged copies I called in, we also received an additional number of "promotional copies" at no charge, equal to our original order. So, apparently, the loose centerfold problem was widespread enough to necessitate a rerelease of the issue. If you got a bunk copy, you might want to contact your local comick booke shoppe for a replacement.

  • Thanks to Polite Scott for letting me know about a Swamp Thing reference in this week's Wonder Woman #19. Swamp Thing completists, take note! (By whom I mean me and Rich.)

  • I've always really liked the Fantastic Four as a concept, though the comic itself has only occasionally been good in its post-Lee/Kirby days. Every time there's a significant creative team change or other change in direction, I'll check the comic out. The latest iteration, featuring the work of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, has kept my attention so far...not subtle in the slightest, but pretty and interesting. The new issue, #556, features an extended fight scene in a snowstorm, with a whole lotta characters, and sorry to say the snow effect is remarkably distracting. Perhaps that's a realistic portrayal of how such a battle would work, with everything obscured by the weather and making things hard to follow, but it didn't make for a good reading experience for me. Yeah, I know, "suck it up, old man."

  • Comics Journal #289...yes, I bought Comics Journal at the same time I bought Fantastic Four. Somewhere, Gary Groth is shedding a tear. Anyway, the new ish has an interview with zombie master Robert Kirkman as well as several pages of the comic strip Minute Movies, dating from the 1920s, and printed at a size that may threaten what's left of my eyesight, but I'm still gonna read 'em, gosh darn it. Also of note for comic strip fans is R.C. Harvey's concise history of Mutt and Jeff.

  • A new Titans series launched this week, featuring pretty much the same cast of characters from the original New Teen Titans. But, really, do you need any other Titans books beyond Tiny Titans? This is such a kind, gentle, and amusing book, with appealingly cute cartooning. Okay, I flinched a bit when I saw Dr. Light in the first story of this week's issue, but that's because I'm a bad person.

  • Fans of George R.R. Martin's superhero sci-fi Wild Cards shared universe will want to know that the first issue of the new comic book series came out this week. Haven't had a chance to do more than flip through it yet...the art doesn't really do anything for me, at first glance, but what I've seen of the story shows promise. I'll report later once I've actually read the thing.

  • Jughead's Double Digest features the "new look" Jughead on the cover, and...gah:

    I've tried to keep an open mind with this new look Archie stuff, but good heavens that's ugly.

  • New Mutants Classic TP Vol. 3 - featuring the whole Bill Sienkiewicz "Demon Bear" storyline that I remember buying off the rack way back when. This made me feel old.

  • Aqua Leung Vol. 1 came out. Kevin liked it.

  • And volume 9 of the Complete Peanuts, covering 1967 and 1968, is out this week. Apparently it doesn't feature as many "lost strips" as previous volumes, but it does have an introduction by John Waters, so things balance out.

    However, there is a real lost strip, as one strip in the volume is accidentally repeated, replacing another. According to editor Kim Thompson, the missing strip will be printed in volume 10, and the slipcased version of 9/10 will be the corrected editions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Finishing watching The Shadow, which I spoke about


Really, The Shadow movie? That's your climactic battle? (SPOILER maybe) Some gunplay in a room full of mirrors and some bad bluescreen? But I'll forgive you, since 1) I like the bad guy's ultimate fate (and the reveal of one more agent of the Shadow), and 2) you finally got Jonathan Winters out from behind that table at the club.

Commenter Lurkerwithout correctly notes my omission of Tim Curry in yesterday's rundown of the sheer star power at work in this film's supporting cast. Really, I should have mentioned him...just slipped my mind, I guess. But he feels a bit wasted in this film...Curry shouldn't be an obsequious toady, he should be the chief bad guy, if you're gonna have some Curry in your flick. All things considered, he does oil quite nicely across the screen, at first, as a character you can't wait to see to come to an unpleasant end. As Mr. Bacardi says, however, Mr. Curry does leave no scenery unchewed, particularly during his final battle with the Shadow. Presumably he's trying to get across that his character has been driven into drooling madness, but, geez.

Also, there may have been a disparaging remark or two in yesterday's comment section about the fine cinematic achievement that is the first Darkman film. PLEASE NOTE: There will be NO speaking ill of Darkman here, friends. This is a Darkman-friendly site.

And there was a mention in the comments of the Phantom film starring Billy Zane. That would be another fine '90s superhero franchise-that-never-was that I never got around to seeing, and is also on my Netflix queue. All I remember about the film is that 1) there were some swank Phantom skull rings being given out as promos for this movie, and I never got one, dammit, and 2) "SLAM EVIL" was the remarkably dumb promo slogan for the film. But I've heard some good things about the film, so I'm looking forward to it.

In one more follow-up to yesterday's post, again gleaned from the comments section, commenter Ed points us to his review of the Sam & Max DVD, as well as his interview with creator Steve Purcell about the show. Good reading -- go check it out.

Okay, enough with the movies. Let's get back to the funnybooks:
  • I had an idea for one more post about, you know, that panel in Mighty Avengers, but I really don't care that much beyond some faint amusement and giving me an excuse to whip out some swell Doom panels of the past. And besides, after Bully's atom bomb, what else is there to say? So, enough dogpiling on Mr. Bendis and his tin ear for Doom dialogue. It'll probably just be revealed to be a Doombot or a Skrull or a Space Phantom or some darn thing, anyway. Eventually.

  • Via the Mighty Mr. Spurgeon: Keith Knight has a new syndicated comic strip. I do like the Keith Knight, and I wish him much success with this endeavor.

  • Internet pal Kevin Church will be appearing at the New York Comic Con April 18th through the 20th, and he will happily take all of your X-Men related questions and requests for X-Men sketches. Particularly sketches of Kitty Pryde and Storm "wrestling." Ask him all day! Follow him around!

  • I know this was all over the net, but I'm posting this here so my friend Cully will see it. FRANK QUITELY VARIANT COVER FOR ALL STAR BATMAN:

    How do you improve perfection? Why, I believe we just found out. (Go to that Newsarama post for a much larger version, Cully.)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mike's DVD Round-up. 

So the other day, I was listening to some old timey radio on the MP3 player, which is kind of an incongruous thing in and of itself, if you think about it, but that's beside the point...anyway, one of the old timey radio shows I was listening to was The Shadow, which got me to thinking that I'd never seen the '90s film adaptation starring Alec Baldwin as the Nosed Avenger of the Night. To wit:

Okay, not the most flattering shot. He looks pretty good when he's doing stuff like this, though:

...which, honestly, if you're gonna see a Shadow movie, that's what you want...two hours of the Shadow shooting the holy bejeebers out of the bad guys. Oh, okay, some "clouding of men's minds" and stuff, too, I guess, if you're gonna be picky.

Overall, the movie's...okay, with a level of cheese present pretty much through the whole film. But it's an acceptable cheese, and it's a painlessly fun way to spend a couple hours.

Well, I'm assuming so, anyway, because I'm only an hour into the film, since I had to stop watching the movie and, oh, feed the daily weblog beast. See what I do for you people? In exchange, I only ask you that you not tell me if the film goes horribly south in the last forty minutes. Let me find that out for myself.

Now, I really didn't know anything about the movie aside from its Baldwin content, so it was a nice surprise to see the star-studded cast. And by "star-studded," I mean "Max Wright, the dad from Alf." Oh, and Peter Boyle is the Shadow's taxi driver, Sir Ian McKellen as Margo Lane's scientist dad, Jonathan Winters -- Jonathan Winters -- as the guy who, so far into the film, only sits at a table in a nightclub and is allegedly the police commissioner. And then there's the guy who played Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager:


A less happy surprise is that the DVD, which I rented from the Netflix, is only in fullscreen. Fullscreen! PTUI! I spit on you, vile fullscreen version of a widescreen film. A real shame, because there are lots of nice sets and cinematography and such that you're missing about 1/3 of. Maybe someday we'll get a deluxe widescreen transfer with special features and deleted scenes and commentary and comes with the Shadow's hat 'n' scarf 'n' guns, but I'm not holding my breath. Or maybe I am. How would you know?

Anyway, as long as I'm being Mr. Screencap McCoy, here's something that came as a bit of a shock as I was watching the first disc in the Sam & Max Freelance Police DVD set.

So Sam, Max, and Sam's grandma are at a prison spreading some Christmas cheer, when things go horribly awry and the trio are on the run from some particularly dangerous prisoners.

They find themselves in the prison showers, and Max decides he's gonna set a trap using bars of soap. He hesitates, the soap looming menacingly in the foreground:

...But then he bends over to pick up the soap, and this sign magically appears on his bottom:

Did...did I just see a prison rape joke in a cartoon? Meant for kids? In the Christmas episode?

Good gravy.

Nothing to do with comics, really, but everything to do with greatness:



Think about it, won't you?

Monday, April 07, 2008


from Fantastic Four #57 (Dec. 1966) by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott

from Fantastic Four #60 (Mar. 1967) by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott

from Marvel Super-Heroes #20 (May 1969) by Larry Lieber, Roy Thomas & Frank Giacoia

from Fantastic Four #199 (Oct. 1978) by Marv Wolfman, Keith Pollard & Joe Sinnott

from Fantastic Four #200 (Nov. 1978) by Marv Wolfman, Keith Pollard & Joe Sinnott

from Marvel Treasury #28 (1981) by Marv Wolfman, Jim Shooter, John Buscema, and others

from Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #10 (Feb. 1985) by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck & John Beatty

from Fantastic Four Vs. X-Men #4 (June 1987) by Chris Claremont, Jon Bogdanove & Terry Austin

from Fantastic Four #499 (Aug. 2003) by Mark Waid, Mike Wieringo & Larry Stucker

from Mighty Avengers #11 (May 2008) by Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, Danny Miki,
Allen Martinez & Marko Djurdjevic

Sunday, April 06, 2008





from Little Archie #110 (Sept. 1976)

Charlton Heston (1924 - 2008). 

from Planet of the Apes #3 (Dec. 1974)
by Doug Moench, George Tuska & Mike Esposito

Okay, that doesn't look much like him, but it's close enough. You all know the scene, anyway.

So long, Charlton. Didn't always agree with you, but you were in Planet of the Apes, Ben Hur, and The Ten Commandments, and you were game enough to make an irony-laden cameo in the Planet of the Apes remake, so thank you at least for those.

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