mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"An injun gal with bird wings...a flyin' boy in blue-and-red longjohns...!" 

Here is the cover for Hex #10 (June 1986):

As you'll note, there is a blurb advertising the Legion's "surprise appearance" -- yes, I'm aware it's not really a surprise if it's full-on spelled out like that:

The "surprise appearance" is as follows...the Legion shows up in their time bubble, startling Hex:

The Legion realize they're in the wrong time period:

...And they split, leaving a puzzled Hex in their wake:

I was a little disappointed when I first read this, 22 years ago, as I was a Hex and a Legion fan, and I was looking forward to them meeting. I realize now that a crossover event was never promised...all they said was "appearance," not "Hex, Wildfire and Polar Boy versus the dual menace of Grimbor the Chainsman and Reinhold Borsten."

Here's the other side of the "crossover" from Legion of Super-Heroes #23 (June 1986). What did amuse me about the Hex side of this encounter is that the heroes didn't even acknowledge Hex's presence...here, there's some new dialogue revealed indicating that they're surprised by Hex, and wonder if he's a threat:

Also note the info-dump in Hex's thought balloon for the Legion readers...apparently added after the fact, as the lettering in that balloon is slightly different from the rest of the book's (which may be hard to notice in the scan).

I wonder if Hex picked up any new readers from this. Or how much of a sales bump this achieved. Not too much, probably, since the series was canceled within the year. Shame, as it was an entertaining series in a real "B" movie sort of way. Not good, not good for you...but darned if it wasn't a fun read.

Images from Hex #10 by Michael Fleisher, Ron Wagner & Carlos Garzon; Legion of Super-Heroes #23 by Paul Levitz, Steve Lightle, Greg LaRocque & Mike DeCarlo.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The reliability of free technologies. 

Okay, I said I was going to discuss something more about Lex Luthor ever since I posted this bit of business about his Swamp Thing appearances. I don't know...I had a bug up my butt about something, but Lord knows what it was now. Mostly, it's just my bemusement at the character's history from the post-'80s reboot of the Superman titles. You know, the reboot that was supposed to make Superman's history a fresh start, so that things could be rebuilt from the ground up and kept consistent?

I realize I'm a bit unusual in regards to the Superman books, in that I've been buying the Super-books in an uninterrupted run longer than some of you reading this have been alive, which 1) depresses me immensely, and 2) means that I've been following the post-reboot continuity of the character since it started, and have thus followed all the twists, turns, and, particularly over the last few years, the increasing abandonment of maintaining a coherence to the character's history. I'm pretty sure, for example, that the version of Krypton is current continuity is not the same Krypton presented to us in the Man of Steel mini-series.

Okay, it doesn't really bother me, honest. If anything, I'm amazed that the Super-books maintained their internal consistency as long as they did. But after 20-something years and dozens of creative teams, things'll get altered in deference to the story or, more likely, in deference to media adaptations. You can thank the Lois & Clark show for Married Superman, and you can thank Smallville for the return of young Luthor to Clark's formative years. (Nothing new: you can thank the '40s radio show for Jimmy Olsen and Kryptonite.*)

Again, none of this is any big deal. It's obvious to me and anyone else who've been reading the Super-books since the '80s reboot that inconsistencies have creeped in, but after all, it's not as if we're reading a novel with a planned-out plotline and an intended ending. It's the ongoing story of a corporately-owned character that, ideally, will be published so long as there are readers, and if changes need to be made to keep things moving along, well, there you go.

But having read the current incarnation of Superman since its inception, the one element that sticks out the most is the progression of the Luthor character. The character we have now can not be the same character, with the same backstory, that was introduced in the reboot. I've already discussed it at length in this post from a couple of years ago, and, in light of the Mephisto "make it never was" hoohar from Spider-Man last year, my Neron explanation there sounds even more plausible.

Well, that's a long row to hoe to basically say "did you know continuity glitches can creep into superhero books over two decades?" Reemphasizing: I'm amused, not annoyed. This sort of thing doesn't get in the way of enjoying my funnybooks. It's just that the reboot was such a big deal at the time that seeing elements of it shorn away over the years is...well. notable at the very least.

And that's all I've got to say about Lex Luthor at the moment. Oh, and we were talking about the Silver Age Luthor's sister, Lena Thorul, at the shop the other day...yes, we were, really, don't look lke that. And in my Googling, there's apparently some internet theorizing regarding Smallville's Chloe Sullivan and her connection to Lena. Who knew?

In other news:
  • A pal of mine is stunned, stunned, that people in his age group haven't heard of a particular superhero. It doesn't surprise me a lot, in that the ephemera of childhood can easily be forgotten, and unless you're mired in it like, say, me, I can see how someone might not remember the name of a character they hadn't seen or thought about in 30 years. This doesn't make it any less sad, of course.

    There was a time when someone saying "Who's Jack Benny?" would have been as unthinkable and unlikely as saying "Who's Mickey Mouse?" or "Who's Oprah?" Alas, I've come across a number of people over the years who've never heard of Mr. Benny. Everything has its time, I guess, even this character.

  • Regarding my new members of the Avengers post: I realize that any team with Herbie on it would effectively make that team unstoppable. Indeed, he'd make the rest of the team redundant. But if the Justice League could have Superman and the Flash on the team while still giving Aquaman the occasional thing to do, then Herbie could be a team player, too.

    And you all realize I just included Scrappy Doo in the choices to be irritating, right?

  • A reminder: don't end your stories with "The Beginning...." Honestly, stop that.

  • There have been some Haloscan glitches lately, affecting comment counts and, more importantly, affecting display of the comments themselves. The comment count is no big whoop...it's just an ego blow for me, when I look at my post and see no one's posted any comments, and I weep my blogger tears. But if the comments don't display...just reload the comment window a time or three and they should show up. I haven't noticed any problems in the last couple of hours, but it's been happening for about two days, so I thought I should note it here.

    As pal Dorian likes to say, "ah...the reliability of free technologies." Haloscan's been pretty good, overall, so I'm not complaining too much.

* Yes, I know there were minor comic references (one unnamed, one unpublished) to these particular elements of the Superman mythos prior to the radio show.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


This is a space pirate captain:

This is a member of her crew:

Here's that member of the crew getting pasted by Ultra Boy:

Their spacesuits have skulls 'n' crossbones on them. Ooh, piratey:

The space pirate captain makes time with a pirated-up Ultra Boy:

In non-pirate news, Steve Ditko draws an appealing Phantom Girl:

from Legion of Super-Heroes #274 (April 1981)
by Gerry Conway, Steve Ditko & Frank Chiaramonte

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sometimes there just isn't an explanation. 


EDIT: Image revised...see comments. If you need to recast your vote, feel free.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I was going to post pictures for all of these, but you can go look at the solicitations yourself. 

A few items from the new DC solicitations:

Well, this is interesting...a trade paperback collection of Paul Kupperberg and Mike Mignola's Phantom Stranger mini-series, rounded out by a reprinting of the multiple origin stories from Secret Origins #10. Given Mignola's popularity (and the fact that he now has two big-budget Hollywood movies based on his Hellboy work), I'm surprised we haven't seen more reprinting of his older material to take advantage of current interest. I think sooner or later we'll get a Rocket Raccoon book from Marvel, since that character's been popping up a bit more lately. Or a book of his collaborations with Bill Mantlo on Alpha Flight or Incredible Hulk.

X-Files Special #0 - Funny, I was just talking about the Topps X-Files series the other day with the employees, about how it was a "hot" comic that came out right in the midst of the collapsed comics market. Kinda curious about how we're gonna order this new "Special" "#0" (stack the deck, why don't you), since it's been a while since anyone really cared about X-Files, like since about two or three seasons before the show was finally canceled*. I'm expecting this new X-Files comic to sell about on the same level as the recent Xena and Army of Darkness series -- okay low-to-mid-level seller, with a small but loyal audience.

Really, honestly - God bless Rick Veitch. Army @ Love: The Art of War #1 -- can't wait.

The Un-Men #13 -- The last issue, which is too bad. This ended up being a pretty good, dark-humored series, which unfortunately didn't grab people with its less-than-strong opening. Ah, well...I don't think this quite puts the kibosh on any future Swamp Thing related series, but I don't expect we'll be seeing any in the immediate future.

DC Universe Special: Ambush Bug #1 - Aside from the...unpleasantness, these old Ambush Bug stores are pretty funny. The Supergirl story is the weaker of the bunch, but does feature some nice latter-day Carmine Infantino art.

"Based on the upcoming March 6, 2009, Warner Bros. movie WATCHMEN, DC DIRECT brings both long-time and new fans of WATCHMEN what they crave: collectible action figures, intricately clothed 1:6 scale deluxe collector figures, exquisitely sculpted busts, and straight-from-the-set prop replicas! All products feature movie accurate likenesses and costume detailing!

"Get ready for a three-month WATCHMEN movie product extravaganza from DC Direct, beginning in January 2009 and continuing through the release of the WATCHMEN movie in March 2009."

Hoo boy.

* Before any of you X-Files fans get your knickers in knots, lemme just note that I'm still watching the way past its sell-by date Smallville, so I'm not exactly taking the moral high ground here.

Rory Root (1958 - 2008). 

Sad to report that noted comics retailer Rory Root has passed away. I've never met him myself, but I've certainly been aware of his presence and influence in this industry.

His store's website has been converted into a temporary memorial page. A new memorial site is in the works, and I'll post the link to that one when it's ready.

So long, Rory.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh dear God in heaven. 

From the letters page for the May 26-June 1 2008 edition of TV Guide:

Somewhere, Alan Moore's brain is exploding... 

...assuming it hasn't already:


Also: "They took my face, Charlie!" -- the Dr. Manhattan 1:6 scale figure:

Guess they're trying to keep a little bit of a secret with this figure, or it's just pending approval, or some darn thing.

More Watchmen figures 'n' busts in today's DC solicitations. Enjoy, won't you?


So, for those of you who don't know, Computo was a creation of Brainiac 5's that ended up going berserk, killing one of Triplicate Girl's bodies, and was just an all-around real bummer, man.

Eventually, Brainiac 5 managed to tame the Computo program, making it into an electronic assistant for the Legion. Reaction from other Legionnaires was mixed, leaving Brainiac to explain the situation to Computo like so:

Which, I guess, is all well and good, except in the very next panel Brainiac 5 does this:

Whoa, what? "I have revived my homicidal computer, allegedly 'tamed' it as far as any of you know, and now I LAUGH MANIACALLY at what I have wrought! HA HA!" And there the story ends, leaving the Legionnaires wondering why Brainy is laughing like that. I mean, it's not like he hasn't had a history of instability and a couple nervous breakdowns resulting in dangerously criminal activity or anything.

As you can see by the giant blue ball growing out of Brainy's face there, the following issue features the Science Police, which is a wonderfully evocative name. "YOU HAVE BROKEN THERMODYNAMIC LAW...you're UNDER ARREST!" Well, that's not really what they get up to, enforcing the laws of science or anything. It's basically just the equivalent of "Space Police" or "Future Police" or "Mega Nu-Manhattan Police-bots 2984" -- it's just there to make 'em seem different from the mystically-oriented, spellcasting police of our time period, because, you know, those Science Police fight crime with SCIENCE.

Here are a few items from the Science Police activity blotter:

Panel One: "Folk art" = "comic books" in that panel, there. I wonder if those guys made a beeline for the Witchblade comics like our thief/thieves.

Panel Two: I...I don't know. That's just weird, frankly. I do like the gratuitous use of the word "lunatic."

Panel Three: "HULK BUSTED ON TAX FRAUD." "Hulk not report tips! IRS not find out! Hulk smart, have more money for lottery!"

images from Legion of Super-Heroes #311 (May 1984) and #312 (June 1984) by Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen, Larry Mahlstedt & Karl Kesel

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Linda (Supergirl) Lee wisely keeps her mouth shut. 

from Action Comics #276 (May 1961 - reprinted in Legion Archives #1)
- by Jerry Siegel & Jim Mooney

1. "...And I have another boyfriend, but he lives in Canada. Maybe you can meet him next time he visits."

"Yeah, sure, Linda."

"No, really...I have a green-skinned boyfriend from the future, and a merman boyfriend, and a Canadian boyfriend, honest!"

"Linda, please, you're just embarrassing yourself."

2. Maybe I figured this out incorrectly, and this is assuming each succeeding generation takes the name with no one in the line being skipped...but wouldn't the "great great great great grandson" of the original Brainiac be, in fact, Brainiac 7?

Brainiac (1) - original
Brainiac 2 - son
Brainiac 3 - grandson
Brainiac 4 - great grandson
Brainiac 5 - great great grandson
Brainiac 6 - great great great grandson
Brainiac 7 - great great great great grandson

This is all pre-Crisis, of course...I think it's been explained post-Crisis, in one Legion reboot or 'nother, that "Brainiac" is more a title that's bestowed than a name passed down father to son (or father to adopted son, in the original Brainiac's case).

Yes, I know there are a couple of very easy explanations for this. Just let me have my fun and nitpick the Legion panel. It's all I've got today.

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