mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Brainiac 5 inadvertently offends all of England. 

from Adventure Comics #329 (Feb. 1965 - reprinted in Legion Archives Vol. 4)
- by Jerry Siegel & Jim Mooney

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mike's sleepy post. 

Well, as it turns out, I got in really, really late, and I wanted to post a little something about Will Elder, and that doesn't leave me with a lot of time to write a full-on post like I was planning. So my further comments on Lex Luthor will have to wait a day or two, and, yes, I still plan on getting back to my Legion content, so hold your horses there, friend.

But let me address a few things:
  • I did finish watching the Phantom film, and it remained light and watchable through the remainder of its run time. (SPOILERS, I guess.) Hey, the Phantom fought pirates! All right! That whole "power ring versus the skulls" thing at the end, though...I'm not well versed in the character's history, though I've read some Phantom over the years and have enjoyed the strip. However, I don't remember the Phantom's ring being able to do that.

    One thing I noticed about the film is how beautifully it was shot...lots of very scenic island jungle shots. The closing credits ran over just several still(?) photos of the various island locales, which was a nice touch. And Billy Zane as the Phantom...when he was in costume, he was Always! In! Action! making short, sudden moves and posing heroically, regardless of the situation. Sometimes he looked like just popped right out of the funny pages.

    And the petulant pouty faces Treat Williams makes when the pirates capture him are priceless.

    Overall, despite that dodgy stunt in the first half of the movie, with the whole jumping from plane to horse thing which, you know, c'mon, it's a pretty solid action adventure that doesn't take itself too seriously.

    The DVD appears to be out of print, but you can find 'em cheap on Amazon. Oh, and speaking of which:

    By the way, saying I didn't want to see "Slam Evil!" in the comments just inspired you all to post that very thing, didn't it?

  • I posted the answers to the trading card quote quiz from the other day, if you really needed them.

  • We had a customer on Thursday telling Employee Aaron what a fan he was of the Invincible Super-Blog. He hadn't heard of Progressive Ruin.


  • We're experiencing increased demand for the original Frank Miller Wolverine mini-series. Inspired by the forthcoming Wolvie movie, perhaps? Seems that's still a ways away to be having an influence on sales, but who knows?

  • If playing "Rhinestone Cowboy" on the store CD player during business hours is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Will Elder (1921 - 2008). 

My all-time favorite classic Mad strips is "Mole!" from issue #2, by one of the original Madmen, Will Elder. It never, never fails to make me laugh, even though I practically have it memorized by now.

This panel in particular kills me every time. It loses a little something out of context like this, without the build-up:

...but Elder's attention to detail and skill at creating a lovably grotesque character still shines.

So long, Will.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I don't want to see any occurrence of the phrase "Slam Evil" in the comments. 

So I finally got around to watching, or at least starting to watch, The Phantom, the 1996 live-action adaptation of the Ghost Who Wears Purple Tights. I'm only an hour in, because my life is so full with activity and responsibility, says the man who writes a daily comics weblog, and I'm gonna try to wrap it up tomorrow or the next day, so don't post any spoilers in the comments please.

'Course, I may post a spoiler or two for the first hour, so if you haven't seen this 12-year-old movie yet, and you think you're going to soon, you may want to skip down to the horizontal line.

Well, "spoilers" may be overstating it a bit. For example, I like the film well enough so far. It's lighthearted and jokey without being too campy, Billy Zane as the Phantom is both superheroically muscled and charmingly goofy, and Treat Williams leaves toothmarks in the scenery as our mustachioed villain. I also like that they just kinda go for it with the Phantom's costume, with its full-on purpleness and its black mask and skull motif, without going into any detail as to why a skin-tight purple outfit, exactly. Because, really, how're you gonna explain it?

The action sequences are fun, with dangerous bridges and horse chases and the like. But that bit of business of jumping from a plane running low on gas to a horse below...they really didn't sell me on that, I'm afraid. And for a plane that was nearly out of gas, that was some huge-ass explosion it created when it smacked into the cliff face. I'm sure some residual gas 'n' fumes in the tank might have caused some boomage, but this looked like the plane had some dynamite stashed aboard, too. If I have any experts on the topic out there, feel free to chime in.

Like I said, it's fun, if slight, so far, with dialogue that careens between "light and witty" to "downright clunky" (the latter being pretty much every word uttered by Catherine Zeta-Jones in this film). Hopefully the last forty minutes will be reasonably entertaining as well.

By the way, looking up The Phantom on the Internet Movie Database revealed this bit of business:

No, "box offices flops" don't play into the plot of The Phantom. But "stabbed in the eye" -- a click on that link reveals another hundred-something flicks with the same plot point (including South Park, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, and Cube 2: Hypercube). I was going to say "are there people out there actively seeking out movies featuring eye-stabbings" and then I realized of course there are.

Some notes about a couple of comics that came out this week:
  • The Final Crisis Sketchbook: if this were a promotional item, designed to get folks excited about the forthcoming series, then it should have been given away for free (like the Avengers/Invaders giveaway from a few weeks ago). If it's a "behind the scenes" thing intended for sale, it may have been better served coming out after the series was over so that it could include more content with more spoileriffic detail in regards to character designs, plot points, etc. Perhaps it should even have been extra back-up material in the hardcover/trade.

    Not saying I didn't think it was neat, and that I didn't like the preview sketches, but it smacked more of a Wizard preview than something DC is trying to get three bucks for.

  • I think Titans #2 had a production error, with one page missing at least one word balloon, or perhaps even all dialogue and sound effects. The two page splash features Nightwing responding "yes, way," which implies a "no way!" word balloon prior, but none is to be seen on the page before. This isn't a title I read, but I was just flipping through a copy at the shop, so if I missed the "no way" balloon in that story, just let me know.

  • Psychic nosebleeds in this week's Booster Gold (#9): paging Doctor Scott!

  • I haven't read Un-Men #10 yet, so don't do this, if you could. Thanks.

I'm probably going to go back and address some comments in the "Lex Luthor/Swamp Thing" thread on Friday, so if you have anything more to say there, let 'er rip.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"It's scary that Ah need to see a pictah like this to remembah who Ah am." 

So I have here at the shop a full set of the Marvel Masterpiece "Limited Edition" Canvas chase cards from 1995. Featuring work by the artists Dave DeVries, Nelson, Peter Scanlan, and Dimitri Patelis, the card fronts have a bit of texture to them to give the appearance of paintings on canvas...hence the name, obviously.

They're pretty neat looking cards, as these things go, but the real gold is their backs, which feature personality-laden dialogue from each card's featured character. Even better: the characters often comment on the very pieces of art being presented! For example, here's what the Punisher has to say about his canvas card, while explaining to the fans what he's all about:

"Patelis has captured the last sight my targets ever see: final punishment. These vermin deserve no more or less. They are criminals and I am justice."

You see what they're getting at, there. And apparently the last thing the bad guys see is the Punisher's crotchical area, but let's not dwell on that.

I thought I'd run a few of these quotes past you folks out there in internet-land, and see if you can guess which characters are speaking. Most of them are pretty obvious, so it's more for the amusement factor than for any kind of fanboy trivia super-challenge. Some of these quotes are pretty great.

1. Seeing the "Ah" capitalized is a little weird, but...I suppose that's correct, I guess:

"It's scary that Ah need to see a pictah like this to remembah who Ah am. [...] Sure, mah powers make me supah strong and darn-near indestructible, but they also make me afraid to touch another livin' soul."

2. When it's just spelled out plainly like this, it's even more obvious than normal how dumb this all was:

"Sometimes I still don't recognize my own face. Where I once bore the fragile form and features of a 'proper' English lady, a madman's experiment transformed me into a ninja soldier. While part of me mourns the [name removed] I once was, heaven help me, I do so love the warrior I've become!"

3. Okay, this one might be a little more difficult than the rest:

"You're dying to know how I stay so cool, and are probably askin' yourself, how can I ever be as cool as [name removed], right? Well, the answer is...you can't, so don't even try. I mean, like, really...how many people do you know get an awesome trading card by Nelson? He, like, rules!"

4. I guess this is about as close to a personality as this character got in the early to mid-'90s:

"There is nothing like the feel of a weapon in your hand. All that guff about mutant powers can go hang for all I care. I know a good warrior uses every weapon he has in his arsenal, but give me a gun and a clear shot and I'm a happy man."

5.: Yes, thank you, Nelson:

"They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this piece of art leaves me speechless. Seeing myself so heroically depicted makes me realize how much time I've wasted brooding over what Apocalypse did to me. Guess I'm still one of the good guys. Thanks, Nelson."

6.: Hey kids, trading cards!

"The blood burns me. The blood that sets the road on fire. Not just any blood, the blood of the innocent. It doesn't set me free from my human host, [name removed], though, it enslaves me. It tortures me. And the only relief comes in punishing the guilty."

7. WARNING: reading this one is a little bit like hell:

"I been both an angel an' a devil in my day, but dat ain't kept de X-Men from takin' me in an' makin' me one of deir own. Even more den de T'ieves Guild, dey's de family I never had. I only hope dat when my past catches up wit' my future, I don' hurt none of dem...'specially Rogue."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Yes, I said "Constanty." 

Well, the big news from the Seatlle comic convention was, of course, this bit of the report from the DC Nation panel:

[J. Michael] Straczynski went down the list of some of his planned team-ups for [Brave & The Bold] such as Batman and Spectre, Lex Luthor and Swamp Thing, Deadman and Wonder Woman, Flash (Barry Allen) and the Blackhawks, Constantine and Eclipso...."

Emphasis mine, as you may have gathered.

For the last few years (and as I've noted here in the past), and despite some intermixing early on, DC Comics has tried to keep the general DC line separate from the mature-readers Vertigo imprint. Which, primarily, means no Swamp Thing or no John Constantine in the regular DCU, as most of the other pre-Vertigo DC characters published by Vertigo (Zatanna, Doom Patrol, Phantom Stranger, Animal Man, etc.) have since popped up back in the DC Universe among their presumably all-ages-appropriate caped comrades.

Apparently the Vertigo offices are holding on to Swamp Thing (and Constantine, I guess) with a death grip, as frequent requests to DC honcho Dan Didio for that character's return to the DCU are usually responded to with a "Vertigo won't let us!" That didn't stop the character from making some stealth appearances here and there (such as early in Gail Simone's run on All-New Atom, or his hand popping up in Infinite Crisis), but Swamp Thing is too much of a flagship character for the Vertigo line for them to let him go. Well, "flagship" may be overstating it, since that last couple of Swamp Thing series haven't done all that well. Maybe Swamp Thing is too strong a symbol of what Vertigo represents, as Alan Moore's work on the title, it could be argued, paved the way for Vertigo's existence.

Whatever the reason, it seemed unlikely that Swamp Thing was going to be meeting the Justice League any time soon. But then Straczynski had to go and throw out that "Lex Luthor/Swamp Thing" team up possibility. An editorial note in a follow-up interview with JMS notes that, in regards to Swampy and Constanty, "characters and team-ups are still in negotiations" due to this DCU/Vertigo split. However, perhaps JMS' "big fish in a small pond" position in comics could exert some influence and let the characters cross over, at least for a brief visit.

Some of the previous Luthor appearances in the Swamp Thing comics:

The goverment wants Swamp Thing "taken care of," so they go to a guy who knows something about fighting indestructible beings: a certain Mr. Luthor:

I love Rick Veitch's visual take on Luthor...so arrogant and unpleasant. If I recall correctly, this is a very early appearance of the post-80s revamp version of Luthor...the "respected businessman" era.

That appearance went directly into the next issue, which shows Luthor's actual consultation, explaining how he'd go about destroying a powerful being:

...Not that's he's had any real success on that front, one should note.

Much later, Swamp Thing decides he's going to take his revenge on Luthor for attempting to kill him (and sending Swampy off the planet in the process):

Luthor and Swamp Thing never actually meet...they didn't meet in the previous story either...but Luthor pops up here and there as things progress, looking as unpleasant as ever:

Swamp Thing makes repeated attempts to enter the LexCorp building, only to have Superman repeatedly stop him. And then a year or three later, the DCU and Vertigo split apart, and Swamp Thing never got his revenge. Would JMS' theoretical Swamp Thing/Luthor crossover follow up on that story? Yeah, I know, probably not. But it's nice to think about.

art from Swamp Thing #52 (Sept. 1986) by Alan Moore, Rick Veitch & Alfredo Alcala , Swamp Thing #53 (Oct. 1986) by Moore and John Totleben, and Swamp Thing #79 (Dec. 1988) by Veitch

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'll get back to the Legion of Super-Heroes content shortly. 

Nothing much to do with comics, except for my spotting these on the streets around our store:

Individually hand-lettered signs, repeatedly misspelling the word "garage." Here's another:

And there were even more farther down the block.

I like the sound of it, actually. "Garge." "GARGE!!!" It's sorta evocative of...well, something, I'm not sure what. It sounds dangerous, like it's something large and unpleasant and will probably eat the housecat. BEWARE OF GARGE.

Urbandictionary has a definition for "garge" if you can believe it. Apparently that use of the term is Steve Jobs' fault.

I just used up that much space posting about misspelled garage sale signs. I apologize.

Here's some other news:
  • Sadly, legendary comics artist Gene Colan is not doing so well these days, and there's a letter from his wife on his current situation here. Clifford Meth is in the process of putting together a benefit auction which you can read about at this site, and keep watching that space for further details, I imagine. I stole that second link from Newsarama, which has a series of fan appreciations attached to that post.

  • I thought I'd take a look at how DC Universe #0 is selling on the eBay, as it was suggested here and there as an "investible" item due to "low orders." Given the 50-cent price tag, it was pretty easy for stores to order a royal buttload of these things for negligible cost, so I had a hard time believing it'd accrue that much value. I suppose in the short run, there can be fast turnaround, as some stores apparently have reported sell-outs...and the announced second printing may fuel some panic purchasing of the first prints.

    I seem to remember there being some minor price spikes on a previous promotionally-priced one-shot from DC, Countdown to Infinite Crisis, which also received a second printing. A quick eBay search reveals...a whole lot of first printings available for sale at about a buck piece, if not less. And some are even paired up with DC Universe #0 for a buck.

    Anyway, let's look and see how DC Universe #0 is doing:

    Well, searching completed auctions, a couple have sold for a buck, and one seller seems to be having some luck selling sets of two for a dollar as well. Very common are people selling multiple copies, like this auction for ten copies (at $8.17). The only expensive (relatively speaking) individual copy I've seen is this one for $3.75.

    In current auctions, there ain't no shortage of copies at 50 cents, and plenty at a dollar.

    I imagine that as Final Crisis goes along its merry way, there may be increasing demand for DC Universe #0, but that'll drop off when the series is completed. And that it's common enough that anyone who "invested" in it isn't going to be retiring on that wealth anytime soon.

    And as long as I'm on the topic, here's an auction for Tony Daniel's three Batman/Joker pages from DC Universe. $1,200 and it's all yours. Those aren't bad pages to have, really. I don't have that kind of scratch at the moment, but they're neat to look at.

  • Speaking of the eBay, a search of completed auctions for Free Comic Book Day 2008 stuff reveals a whole lot of sold Iron Man Heroclix (at about $2 to $3 a pop), and a handful of Hellboy promo comics at $2 each. Guess those are the items the people want from this last go-around.

  • Speaking some more of the eBay, we just recently received this positive feedback on our eBay account:

    "my wife says i have too many books. oh well. one more on the pile"

    Another happy customer. You're welcome!

  • Going back to the topic of Final Crisis: when I was but a young Mikester, I really appreciated DC's digest reprint line, particularly when you were reading, say, a Roy Thomas' All Star Squadron, and there'd be a footnote in the story like "SEE ALL-STAR COMICS #36 (1947) - Ye Ed." and you'd be all like "WTF Roy?" But then they'd reprint that story in one of the digests, and all was forgiven. Okay, maybe they didn't do that too terribly often, but I that's how caught up on DC's continuity and character backgrounds, so those digests did a good job getting me up to speed.

    Anyway, that's a long-winded explanation as to why I appreciated DC's recent reprinting of the Justice League story featuring Libra, who, as you all know, will be a Featured Villain in Final Crisis. It's a nice way to catch people up since just about everyone on the planet went "WHO?" when Grant Morrison dropped that name. Also included is that two part JLA story where the villains switched bodies with the heroes, which played into Identity Crisis a while back. Kinda wish it'd been reprinted then, but better late than never, I suppose.

  • Those Trek-lovin' gals at the Look at His Butt weblog/podcast discuss a few of my recent Star Trek-related posts in their latest show (in the last quarter of the program). They say quite a few nice things about me, which of course I greatly appreciate. Thanks, ladies!

  • And sometimes I get my nerd on for Mystery Science Theatre 3000, where, sadly, I discuss the alleged personalities of Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo in this response to Tim O'Neil's post. (That post has a SPOILER for DC Universe #0...well, technically it's a spoiler, but if you haven't heard by now....) Don't know why I'm linking it here, exactly, except to reemphasize we're all fanboys about something.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Because a few of you didn't believe me. 



Here's another shot of the nose of Validus, done in a Gil Kane-esque "right up th' nostrils" style:

from Superboy #203 (July-Aug '74) -- the actual issue,
not an Archives reprint for once -- by Cary Bates, Nick Cardy (1st image) & Mike Grell (2nd)

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