mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Crazy-ass Comic Crossover Corner presents... 

...Captain Atom, Red Tornado and Swamp Thing versus the Black Racer:

from Captain Atom #17 (July 1988)
by Cary Bates, Greg Weisman, Pat Broderick & Bob Smith

This would be Reason #2569 why I want Swamp Thing back in the regular DC Universe: more stuff like the above.

Friday, January 30, 2009

"Shark's tooth pendant, give me power!" 

ad from Saga of the Swamp Thing #5 (Sept. 1982)

1. Gaff didn't really do much, did he? Stupid bird.

2. I hope no one actually tried to do any of this once they got their shark tooth pendant.

3. I'm going to resist the "Village People" joke.

4. "For you, your crew, and your country" -- "your" country, not "our." Is Sgt. Shark...a man without a country? Or does he owe his allegiance to some foreign power?

5. How'd the parrot lose an eye? Surely not a shark attack -- that probably would have taken the entire head -- though that would explain Gaff's reluctance to join the "adventure."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization. 

Hey, man, I was ending civilization before it was cool. Now I look at the headlines in one of the few newspapers that are left, and it looks like everyone's getting in on my action. Ah, well. The more the merrier, I suppose. Fiddle along with me as we see a little bit of Rome burn away within the February 2009 edition of Diamond Previews:

p. 196 - Cerebus Archive #1:

Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoyed Cerebus. I plan on buying this new series featuring early work by Dave Sim, background material on the creation of Cerebus, etc. But the zombie cover variant? After doing a handful of them for his other project Glamourpuss, I think we've got the joke by now. The $15 retail price joke.

But the worst part? The zombie variant for this series looks awesome. Dangit.

p. 344 - The Desktop Heads of Easter Island:

Apparently these were made by very tiny alien beings.

p. 372 - Indiana Jones Sallah Mighty Muggs figure:

Now let us picture John Rhys-Davies in a skin-tight white suit, as demonstrated here.

p. 382 - Terminator 2 Series 1 Minimate Assortment:

Totally gets points for including the explody "liquid metal" version of the T-1000.

p. 387 - Star Trek Movie Electronic Communicator:

So this is what they're going to look like in that new, revamped Star Trek movie, hm? Sort of an interesting design dilemma, trying to evoke the look of the original TV series, while simultaneously trying to appear more futuristic than our modern day, ubiquitous cellphones, which themselves are at least in part inspired by the original show while also being far more advanced in many ways than what those old props were supposed to represent.

However, this communicator toy has it all over cellphones, what with the included lenticular Kirk/Spock sticker inside. ADVANTAGE: ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATOR.

p. 393 - Giger's Alien 1:1 Lifesize Statue:

Sweet dear holy God in heaven. It's almost eight feet tall, it's bottom-lit through the "floor grid" base, and you can move the arms so that they're sticking out in from of the Alien, like he's grabbing for you. Good for keeping around the house if you want to occasionally scare the living bejeebers out of yourself.

Also, out of curiosity, I checked the retailer order details on this item...the net cost on this is several thousand dollars, and apparently it would be delivered to us in five large boxes. Some assembly required, my friends.

p. 398 - (Offered again) Lord of the Rings Balrog Monument:

As first featured in this post, the $2000 four foot wide limited Balrog has been relisted for more orders in this month's Previews. Oddly enough, it didn't sell out the first time.

p. 400 - Kurse Mini-bust:

Mixed feelings: "a Kurse bust...really?" versus "oh man, a Walt Simonson-era Thor character statue!"

BONUS: Statue is also a Secret Wars II tie-in.

p. 404 - Back to the Future Marty McFly Hat Replica:

I thought for sure this was some kind of Hypercolor-esque thing, but apparently it's just "ultra-refractive fabrics" that make up the hat.

Really, when was the last time you thought about Hypercolor? (I couldn't even remember the name, until Kid Chris reminded me.)

p. 408 - Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi Bronze Bust:

Only $1,500. Probably would have immensely irritated Sir Alec.

p. 416 - Broken Heart Doll Plushies:

"Aarrchie was the sickest bass player around, but all he got was a lousy photo op with Green Day's Billie Joe and one free drink ticket."

"Wolfgang thought he hit the jackpot with the ladies with the screen name 'just10timbrl8k,' but things always took a rapid dive when finally showed them his picture."

Emo pillows with backstories. Well, sure, why not.

p. 438-9 - Joker masks:

I can't decide which is most terrifying...the Joker masks based on the recent Dark Knight movie:

...or this classic look Joker:

Any of these would be perfect for your social gathering or church event.

p. 444 - Star Wars Trooper Fine Art Print:

Today's winning entry in the "Self-Canceling Phrase" contest is....

p. 445 - Watchmen Rorschach Beanie Mask:

Well, surely this is going to bite into the sales of all those homemade Rorschach masks on the eBay.

p. 446 - Watchmen Rorschach Desk Blotter:

A desk blotter with "ink" splashed upon it to resemble Rorschach's mask, with the Rorschach logo. $29.99. I don't have a joke for this, or even a smart alecky comment. I'm just puzzled, mostly.

p. 447 - Watchmen Rorschach Pennant:

"Rah rah! Chop that dog! Go team Rorschach!"

There are four pages of Watchmen merchandise in this catalog. They're just seriously slapping Watchmen characters onto anything that'll take an image.

Marvel Previews p. 7 - X-Men Legacy #223 70th Anniversary Cover:

Why is Marvel Girl throwing gang signs at me?

Marvel Previews p. 79 - Marvel Minimates Series 28 - Wolverine Movie Assortment:

Hey, I had no idea Marlon Brando was in this movie. I'm totally seeing it now.

Marvel Previews p. 94 - Spider-Man Torment Premiere HC:

At last, a deluxe collection of what may possibly be the most common Spider-Man comics ever published. Good, I was worried there weren't enough copies of this story already in existence.

Tip o'the toupee to pal Sean for the Brando joke.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I wonder what "SKUL" was. 

The ad as it appeared in Saga of the Swamp Thing #2 (June 1982), sans name and address since I'm paranoid about that sort of thing:

And then in Saga of the Swamp Thing #3 (July 1982):

Not sure if the person who placed the ad arranged for the relettering, or if someone at the people who processed the ads took pity and did it for him. But now that most folks have access to computers and word processing and/or art programs, you don't see a whole lot of sloppily-handwritten ads appearing in nationally-distributed, professionally-published comic books any more. Too bad...there's a kind of charm to the first version of that ad that would be lost in 24-pt. Helvetica bold. (Or in Comics Sans, yes, yes, I know.)

EDIT: London Loves Comics covered this as well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Because sometimes you just need pictures of Swamp Thing fighting a giant purple monster version of Arcane wielding a sword. 

from Swamp Thing Annual #1 (1982) by Bruce Jones, Mark Texiera & Tony DeZuniga
(adapting the first Swamp Thing film)

I'm occasionally reminded that, as oddball as the sequel was, the first Swamp Thing film was sort of mind-boggling in its own charming way.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"No more questions, please...no more questions." 

  • The big news from the last week is of course Diamond, the industry's primary distributor, raising minimum order levels for publishers. You can't meet Diamond's cutoff, Diamond ain't gonna carry you. That link has a smattering of initial reactions to the decision, which seems to be bad news for the small press publishers. My first thought is that we're going to see even more folks following the "multiple cover" cover for all their publications to get those orders inflated over the minimum threshold.

    Anyway, it's going to be an interesting time in the industry for the foreseeable future..."interesting" as in the "may you live in interesting times" sense.

  • More signs of the (interesting) times: cutbacks at Warner Brothers knock Mad Magazine down to a quarterly publication. It'll have a slight page count increase, a price increase to $5.99, and let's hope things improve in short order because I don't know that I want to experience a world without Mad Magazine.

    I like how one of the people in the comments section say that Mad should just turn into a full-on comic book, rather than stay in the magazine format. Boy, talk about kicking someone while he's down...it's that magazine format that's getting on shelves of places that aren't comic book stores!

  • When I answered the question of "which canceled comic would you bring back?" with Jupiter by Jason Sandberg, I should have noted that Mr. Sandberg is still producing art...just not of the comic bookian sort. Visit his site at jasonsandberg.com and see what he's gettin' up to.

  • Kevin Church has invited his readers to cook up one sentence pitches for currently existing comic book characters/series, and has had several amusing entries so far. I thought I had a pretty good one, but was immediately shown up by the entry that appeared after mine...so you'll just have to go look and see.

  • That Amazing Spider-Man with President Obama is getting a fourth printing. Oh good gravy. I am still experiencing demand for this comic at the shop, though where before most people didn't care what printing they got, I'm now getting an increase in slightly-panicked requests for first printings. I'm getting e-mails, I'm getting out-of-state phone calls...people are getting desperate for first printings on this.

  • Not Blog X wraps up its epic length look at the X-Men "Onslaught" event, with some discussion of the series' impact on the franchise. Those of you who've expressed interest in my discussion of the boom 'n' bust period of the comics industry will find this of interest.

  • Added another name to the burgeoning ranks of the Associated Comics and Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA and Outlying Environs: pal Dana (kid sister of former employee Nathan) at I'd Love to Stay Here and Be Normal. Drop in and say hello.

    In other ACAPCWOVCCAOE news, pal Sean updated his site just recently, too. Now if we can get a couple of the other folks on there to update a little more frequently!

    Also: pal Dorian presents...KRYPTO, P.I.

  • Former Malibu Comics chief Dave Olbrich has been running a swell blog over at Funny Book Fanatic, with lots of industry history and other fun stuff. Well, for today's "Miscellaneous Monday" post, Mr. Olbrich was nice enough to plug my site as "Fanatic Blog of the Week," and proceeds to say several blush-inducing things about my goofy little website here. Thanks, Dave!

  • Customer Rob wanted to see a picture of me reading a copy of Walking Dead, to, you know, update my image by reading something "current" and "hip," and here is the result:

    If I look sick and tired in that picture, it's because I'm sick and tired in that picture. I still think I managed to mug effectively, however.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Progressive Ruin Questionnaire-Fest 2009, Part Six: The Undiscovered Country. 

Okay, one last time answering your questions:
  • glmmrtwn asks

    "Hey Mike, did you ever do a post on that really weird DC Comics Presents issue where Superman teams up with the Swamp Thing (I think it was issue 12)? It was by Steve Englehart and Murphy Anderson and was pretty trippy. In continuity or not?"

    Hmmm...that was number 8 of DC Comics Presents, and I don't think I ever really did much with it aside from including a few panels from that story at the end of this post. I don't think there's anything about the story that makes it explicitly non-continuity. Well, aside from the miscoloring of Swamp Thing's word balloons and thought bubbles, but that hardly counts. It does feature the first meeting between Swampy and Solomon Grundy, which is sort of obliquely referenced when the two characters meet again in Swamp Thing (second series) #67, where they greet each other as old acquaintances. Since DCCP #8 is the only ("on-screen") prior meeting of the characters, I suppose it's still continuity.

    On a related note, when Swamp Thing encounters Deadman in Swamp Thing Annual #2, Deadman refers to having encountered Swampy before...which we only saw in the Challengers of the Unknown comics that guest-starred them both. Of course, it's vague enough that the two characters could have "met" under as-yet-unrevealed circumstances, and not specifically those Challs issues, the canonicity of which remains vague given the Swamp Thing storyline contained therein spins off from issues of the first series explicitly deemed non-continuity by DC editorial.

    Wow, you never really know just how much nerdity you've got welling up within you until it all just spills out like that.

  • John Parker wants to know

    "What's the first comic you remember reading?"

    That's a very good question, and I think I tried to pin it down before on this site, though I can't find the exact post at the moment. I remember some Donald Duck, some Pink Panther, some Teen Titans, all from about the early/mid '70s...like, '74, '75. I didn't really become interested in following comics on a regular basis until the Star Wars comic book launched in '77, which hooked me in well and good.

    Unfortunately, I can't remember the exact comic that was my first. My hunch is that it was a Disney comic, since I read a lot of those as a young Mikester. I have very clear early memories of looking at panels with Gyro Gearloose' helper Helper and wondering what was up with that guy. Those would be my earliest memories of comics.

  • Fnord Serious has some questions for me:

    "What is your favorite dead multi-book superhero universe (New Universe, Charlton, Shadowline, Ultraverse, etc) ? I am partial to the Marvel 2099 books myself. If you could bring said universe back, would you like a continuation of the previous continuity, a reboot (like the !mpact revival of the Archie/MLJ heroes), or integration into a preexisting universe as with the Milestone characters currently being brought into the DCU?"

    I think my favorite was the Jim Shooter-era Valiant comics. I liked nearly all the books, they meshed together well, and when taken together formed an interesting and certainly quirky shared universe. If it were to return, I'd prefer a continuation of the previous continuity, since in this specific case we did see a rebooted continuity supplanting that Shooter-era, and it didn't really do anything for me.

    "I always enjoy your tales of the history of comics retail. I particularly enjoyed your observations on the 90's crash. As a comics buyer I never thought it had started as far back as Turok #1. More of those posts are always welcome."

    This is one of those times when I wished I had tags on my posts, because a "market crash" tag would be very useful right now to send you all to my previous writings on this topic.

    In the meantime, though, here are more links to my writings about the crash than you could ever possibly want: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

    Not sure what else I'd have to say about it, but stay tuned...you never know when I'll be inspired.

    "Anything to say about Doctor Who? I never got into it as a kid, but Mrs. Serious & I have enjoyed watching the recent revival on DVD."

    I wrote quite a bit on the topic about a year ago, and my thoughts on the topic haven't changed much since then. Curious about how the new Doctor will be, but that's still a ways off yet. And I'm still renting the occasional old Who serial from Netflix.

  • Dan Wars demands

    "So how many comic books do you have, anyway?"

    I was actually asked this in one of my previous Q&A sessions. I said about 20,000 then, so...lessee, about 8 new comics a week...let's say another 1,000 added to that.

  • Employee Aaron tempts fate by asking

    "What kind of vampire would you be?"

    The firin' kind.

  • Anonymous puzzles me with

    "How many ways can you show us how to solve 'Zzzax Mmmaze' using edited scans from 1980's issue #12 of Marvel FUN AND GAMES MAGAZINE?"

    Er...I suppose any number of ways, if I'm using edited scans. I can remove all the lines of the maze, I can Photoshop (poorly) a bridge stretching from the Start to the Finish...that sort of thing.

    "And can you do it better than your (currently active) comics blogger friends on a meme?"

    I don't know...that Dave runs a mean Photoshop. I wouldn't want to challenge him to a combination scanning/rap contest.

  • Anonymous asks

    "Do you believe that old Swamp Thing comics can forsee and prevent disasters in the future? Like say, THIS ONE predicting THIS?

    Embrace the undeniable wisdom of SWAMP THING comics.


    Dude, you don't need to tell me twice. As soon as Swamp Thing starts giving me lottery numbers and horse race results, I'll be totally set!

  • Billy inquires

    "Can you comment on the first part of this piece?
    http://www.comicbookresources.co...rticle& id=19650

    Specifically, are Marvel titles really the only reason folks go to comics stores?"

    Well, no, but Marvel and DC do drive the weekly comics sales event, so missing one or the other would be bad news all around.

  • Okay, now for a couple of questions that popped up in the comments sections for my answers posts...like these few from Flossin:

    "-I know this blog doesn't really deal with Marvel stuff (and I can see why) but here's a question: Since everybody is sick of Wolverine and the fact that he's everywhere, what do you think would make him 'cool' again for the people that got sick of him when he started being overexposed and overrated?"

    i do deal with Marvel stuff from time to time...I'm more of a DC guy, but I don't have anything against the characters living at the House of Ideas. Well, aside from Night Thrasher. That name, man, I swear.

    As to your Wolverine question...well, the answer is in your inquiry. When you only saw Wolverine once a month in Uncanny X-Men, the character's mystique and uniqueness stood out. Now that he's "overexposed," as you say, the novelty's worn off. Cutting back his appearances could go a long way to restoring some of that novelty...though the train may have totally left that station as the character has practically no mystery left.

    "Did you ever in your life wore clown make-up and/or costume?"

    I did wear white face make-up during my brief participation in one of those Haunted House tours that set up at the fairgrounds once a year. I wasn't a clown, though...I was some kind of...evil cave-dweller or some darn thing. I don't know.

    "Do you like Madcap?"

    I liked this one ish of She-Hulk well enough, I guess.

    "When will the fourth issue of 'Ultimate Hulk vs Wolverine' be out?"

    You'll have to ask my eventual grandchildren for the answer to that.

  • Nate wants to know

    "Power Pack, great super team or greatest super team?"

    I suspect this question may be biased.

  • Dwayne "the canoe guy" asks

    "One last question: What if, somehow, Jonah Hex got absorbed into Swamp Thing? Would a bounty hunting plant elemental be the most bad-ass thing ever or the biggest joke ever seen?"

    While a Swamp Thing bounty hunter would be cool, I don't know that simply absorbing Hex's body would be enough to give Swampy the gunslingin' skills. Though that'd be a useful ability. "Hey...I need...piano playing...abilities." (absorbs Franz Liszt) (Swampy starts tickling ivories)

And (phew) I'm more or less done. Thank you for putting up with this past week of question-answering, and especially thank you for the kinds words and continuing patronage of this site.

Tomorrow: fewer italicized words!

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