mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Watch out where the G'newtians go. 



from Green Lantern #154 (July 1982)
by Paul Kupperberg, Paris Cullins & Rodin Rodriguez

Friday, February 27, 2009


A few quick Friday notes. 

  • Well, I think this comment on my post about the effect of text pieces in Watchmen is bit of a gross mischaracterization. I'm not calling (or being just short of calling) anyone a "dumbass" by telling them to skip the text pieces. It was a matter of the story's pacing being affected by supplementary material when presented in collected form, not comprehension of the actual text pieces themselves, that I was discussing. If you think the text pieces are adversely affecting the enjoyment of the narrative, particularly when you've got the whole thing under one cover just sitting in front of you waiting to be read...hell, just skip the back-ups, come back to them later. No big whoop.

    I'm not going to repeat my entire discussion (you can just reread the original post), but I just wanted to emphasize no one was calling anyone else stupid here. I was just making an observation based on customer feedback, not standing in judgment of lesser beings. I save that for those puny, misguided mortals who don't like All Star Batman.

  • Pal Dorian wants to know just why, exactly, you think Aquaman is lame...if in fact that's what you think about him.

    Dor and I have talked discussed this once or twice at the shop, and I even brought it up here when talking about characters to revamp. Not that we're talking about how lame Aquaman is, just that there's nothing specifically wrong with the core concept. Anyway, don't tell me about it, tell Dor.

  • Happy ninth anniversary to Neilalien, the greatest comics blogger of them all, and the one that blazed the trail for all the rest of us who followed. Thanks, Neilalien, for all those years of great writing, solid linkblogging, and wonderfully obsessive Doctor Strange content. Here's to many more years of your insight and wit!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization. 

So it's come to this...the 49th installment of the End of Civilization, not to mention post #2600 on this site. Either way, that's a lot of typing. And here's more typing to add to the pile, so whip open your copy of the March 2009 Previews and follow along!

p. 179 - Marvel Minimates Wolverine Through the Ages Set:

I'm not sure I've ever seen a Minimate figure with quite that terrifying of a visage before. "Oh my God, my hands, my hands...they're smooth, hideous clamps!"

p. 213 - Liongate Films Leprechaun #1:

C'mon, how're you guys gonna top this previous adaptation?

Which reminds me...reader John T. answered my unintended plea from that post way back when, and I never got around sharing what he sent he with the rest of you. UNTIL TODAY. Presenting to you some bonus Progressive Ruin content, courtesy John T. -- Leprenopoly!


p. 233 - The Boys: Herogasm #1:

Well I know I certainly can't wait to have that cover on display on our "New Arrivals" rack.

p. 312 - The Classic Marvel Figurine Collection Magazine - Gladiator & Morbius:

"Darn you kids! Quit making fun of my awesome Mohawk!"

"Blah! I'm a vampire! Bl -- ah, forget it, I'm just not feeling it."

p. 354 - Blacula 12-inch Collector Action Figure:

Just thought I'd let a little cool in here.

p. 368 - Friday the 13th - Jason's Machete Replica:


"This metal and wood reproduction of Jason's iconic weapon is 3 feet in length and has the real weight and feel of an actual machete."

For $179, which I imagine could also buy you a real machete or three. Not that I've been doing any machete pricing lately.

p. 370 - Hydra Mini-Bust 3-Pack:

"The Wave!"

p. 372 - Mr. Sinister Statue:

Man, this guy's totally hogging the dance floor. "'Ain't no mountain high enough?' Ain't no dance floor big enough!" (Joke courtesy late '80s Dennis Miller.)

p. 376 - Rock Iconz Rush "Starman" Statue:

So..revealed at last, once people get their hands on this thing...the face of Starman? (Or has it been shown before...I like Rush an' all, but I'm no expert on Rush trivia.)

p. 376 - Star Wars "Hoth" Han Solo Mini-Bust:

"Oh, man, I thought these new extra-long antennas would work, but my remote control snowspeeder still flew out of range! Guess I'd better upgrade to Wookiee-length."

p. 388 - Marvel Comics Fine Art Theatre - The Infinity Gauntlet:

Man, looks like they had a mold explosion in the statue factory. "Do you suffer the heartbreak of...Silver Surfer armpit? Do Heralds of Galactus dangle uncomfortably from your body?"

By the way, I have to call shenanigans on their description of this statue being a "fine art" piece, since there is no LED lighting function mentioned in the solicitation. And, as we learned a couple of months back, it ain't art without LEDs.

p. 394 - Michael Jackson "Thriller" Vinyl Figures:

I'm having a hard time deciding which is more terrifying:

Though I suppose this face gives the "zombie" figure the edge:

But still not as frightening as the real thing.

Yes, I went for the easy joke. I'm not proud.

p. 399 - Watchmen Movie Nite Owl Costume:

How fans wanted Nite Owl to look in the film:

And how Nite Owl does look in the film:

p. 399 - Watchmen Movie Rorschach Accessories:

Oh, I don't know that this is something we'd want to encourage.

p. 400 - Watchmen Movie Silk Spectre Costume:

Employee Aaron: "Wow...do you think male comic fans are going to try to get their girlfriends to dress up like Silk Spectre?"

Me: "I suspect there'll be some dressing up with these costumes, but not by their girlfriends."

Employee Aaron: "Huh?"

Me: "I'll explain when you're older."

p. 400 - Watchmen Movie Dr. Manhattan Mask & Hands:

Employee Aaron: "Why do the rest of the characters have full costumes, and Dr. Manhattan just had a mask and those gloves?"

Me: "Presumably you'd use blue body paint to complete the effect."

Employee Aaron: "Ewwwww."

Me: "I'm gonna guess that the costumes at the San Diego Con are going to be a lot of fun this year."

p. 402 - Wolverine Origins Deluxe Adult Costume:

"The costume recreates perfectly the costume worn by actor Hugh Jackman...."

Oh, for the sake of the movie, I hope not.

p. 402 - Thor Deluxe Adult Helmet:

Included simply to present the single great costume model ever presented in the pages of this catalog. In fact, if there were some way to make a mold of that face and make it part of the helmet....

p. 405 - Wolverine Extreme Green Large Journal:

"Dear Journal - Scott was mean to me again today. Jean won't notice me. Ran out of beer and cigars. Someone scratched my Book of Love album. They'd better not cancel Dollhouse. My life sucks. I'm gonna polish my claws and avoid everyone for the rest of the day. Yrs - L."

p. 420 - Watchmen Original Soundtrack Limited Edition 12-Inch Picture Disc Record:

From the blurb at the beginning of this section of the catalog:
"My Chemical Romance's cover of Bob Dylan's 'Prison Flight' is available on vinyl, just as it would have been in Watchmen's alternate 1985!"

Okay, sure, however you want to justify it. And apparently there's no escape from My Chemical Romance or Bob Dylan, even in an alternate reality. (EDIT: I know they messed up this particular blurb.)

Marvel Previews p. 106 - Marvel Saga Astonishing X-Men, Squadron Supreme, Runaways GN - TP:

So this is a trade paperback reprinting of those "catch-up" comics that condensed down several months' worth of issues into one-shots that covered most of the plot points via select reprinted pages and summary text.

I suspect Marvel may have been better served printing up cheap sampler issues for the series featured here, each with a single issue, or "chapter," taken from one of the trade paperbacks (like what DC is doing with their "After Watchmen" comics).

But I suspect this book does fill the "too busy to devote the time to read an entire narrative/not enough money to buy all the books" niche market, so I can't blame Marvel for finding ways to get everyone's money.

Still...c'mon, seriously?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"...Rorschach goes berserk!" 

After making a joking "next issue blurb" for Watchmen in yesterday's post, I thought I'd dig into the Vast Mikester Archives and find the actual blurbs DC used in their editorial pages. I pulled these from the Deluxe Checklists that appeared in DC's direct sales only Baxter-paper books from late '86 through late '87.

There may be some minor SPOILERS ahead, in case you haven't read the comic yet:
Who watches the Watchmen? Beginning a maxi-series unlike all others about super-heroes in the real world, as told by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons.

Rorschach continues his hunt for the hero-killer, and we get to learn more about the Watchmen and their predecessors, courtesy of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

All the facts about Doctor Manhattan are spelled out and they will stun you! Plus more excerpts from Hollis Mason's book. All by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons!

The maxi-series continues with the origin of Dr. Manhattan ... as the mystery deepens! A book-lengther by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons.

The tension builds, the mystery deepens, and the hero killer strikes again as Rorschach goes berserk! A classic by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons.

Revealed at last! The life story of Rorschach! A classic tale from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

The mystery of the mask-killer grows! Nite Owl and the Silk Spectre go out on patrol for the first time since the Keene Act! Another instant classic by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons!

As war approaches, Nite Owl and the Silk Spectre spring Rorschach from prison. A must-read from Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons.

Silk Spectre reveals her origin as she tries to convince Dr. Manhattan to come home. From Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons.

The countdown to nuclear armageddon continues as Rorschach and Nite Owl reunite! Must reading from Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons.

Revealed at last! The origin of Ozymandias in the series' penultimate issue! Another classic from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Thirty-two pages of story conclude this blockbuster series as you'll finally get the answer to 'Who Watches the Watchmen?' An instant classic from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

A couple of notes:

Issue #4 notes that the story is a "book-lengther," implying that no back-up feature was expected to follow the three-part "Under the Hood" series from the first three issues, making room for the letters pages that (as I was corrected about by a couple of readers yesterday) were to occupy the back pages of the comic. Obviously that turned out not to be the case, but thought it was interesting that the original plans for the series still slipped into the next issue blurb.

The other comment is more general, in that it's somewhat amusing to read these blurbs which boil down one of the most significant comic books ever published to something that doesn't sound any different from any of the other comics being blurbed on the same page. Right next to the blurb for Watchmen #5 was this entry for Vigilante #37:
"The Vigilante is out for blood - and being stalked by the Peacemaker! By Paul Kupperberg, Tod Smith & Rick Magyar. Plus: A Mike Grell cover!

Or this one for New Teen Titans #27:
"It's the search for Nightwing and Raven as the Titans face the Church of Brother Blood and the girl known as Twister! A must-read from Marv Wolfman, Kerry Gammill & Romeo Tanghal."

Let's do a little switcheroo here:
"Nite Owl is out for blood - and being stalked by Rorschach! By Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Plus: A Mike Grell cover!"

I didn't change the Grell bit, if only because I pictured what that would be like and it was awesome. Anyway, I hope you see what I'm getting at here, about how the Watchmen blurbs look in context with DC's other more traditional super-books. Of course, what was I expecting?
"The life of Rorschach revealed, showing why you violent fantasy prone fanboys idolizing him and similar characters are demonstrably wrong. Another instant classic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons!"

"Revealed at last! Symbolism you won't get! Text pages you'll only skim! Our company's bread-and-butter superhero genre entirely undermined in Watchmen's most subversive issue yet! By Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons."

Yeah, that might not have gone over as well.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yes, the post's point is basically "reading a comic book is different from reading a trade paperback." 

So all this Watchmen talk had me thinking...I've spoken to a handful of people at the shop who were new to the work, and reported stalling a bit on the text pieces between chapters. My advice to them was to go ahead and skip those bits if they're getting in the way of the story, and go back and read them afterward. Yeah, okay, some of you are wincing, but according to a few of those folks that strategy seemed to work.

And this is what got me wondering. I read Watchmen in its original serialized format, one issue every month (or six weeks, or two months). That meant I had plenty of time to read the comic portion of the story and digest the text back-up pieces before the next issue came out.

However, in the collected format, I wonder if the text pieces function more as "speed bumps" for some readers, interruptions between chapters of the "real" story that one feels obligated to slog through before going on to the pages with actual comics on them. Without the time gaps between chapters forced by the monthly-or-so release schedule, perhaps some readers feel as if they have less time to contemplate the text pieces, knowing that the plot continues just a page turn or two away.

That's just a random thought that occurred to me during a discussion of the work I was having yesterday. I could be completely off...but I've heard from enough people that the text back-ups did slow them up a bit that I think, in some cases, the pacing is drastically altered by the story's collection under one cover.

Anyway, the other advice to readers, besides "skip 'em 'til the end," is "take it slow" -- don't feel like you have to speed through the entire book in record time. Read just a chapter (plus text piece) a day, let it sink in, move on to the next chapter the next day. Or a few days later...whatever. But if you still feel the need to just skim that owl essay supposedly by Dan Dreiberg...well, I don't tell anyone.

On a related note, in a preview for Watchmen that appeared in Amazing Heroes #97 (June 1986), it says the following:

"In place of a letters page in the first three issues you won't be seeing the usual awkward selection of biographies or series notes, but extracts from 'Under the Hood,' the memoirs of Hollis Mason, the original Nite-Owl."

Now I suspect this may have been a misinterpretation by the article's writer, who was told that the first three issues would have that back-up feature and may have assumed that the letters column would appear after the back-ups were completed. Or maybe the other back-ups actually were late additions...which seems a bit unlikely, but possible, I suppose. (EDIT: Okay, ignore my suppositions...Augie reminds me that Dave Gibbons' book Watching the Watchmen confirms the initial plans for a letter column.)

But now I'm imagining Watchmen with letter columns, people writing in guessing how it's going to end, talking about how badass Rorschach is, asking why Dr. Manhattan isn't wearing pants, etc. And of course the editorial plug for the next installment:

"NEXT ISSUE: One character learns a terrible secret about the past, while another makes a fateful decision that will change The Watchmen forever! Watch for issue #9, The Darkness of Mere Being by Moore and Gibbons, coming next month!"

I enjoyed writing that last bit far more than I should have.

Monday, February 23, 2009

C'mon, the guy's name seriously isn't "Bowles." 

We have, in one of the many collections we're dealing with at the store at the moment, a copy of Broadway Magazine from 1910. The back is filled with a lot of great period ads like the one above, and of the sort I'm sure many of you would recognize as similar to ads used as back page illustrations in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen mini-series. In fact, this very issue of Broadway has the infamous "Marvel Syringe" ad, the inclusion of which in an issue of League resulted in that issue's pulping and revising as so, I suppose, not to offend DC's crosstown rivals. You can read more about that (and see the ad in question) here, if you scroll down a bit.

Anyway, that's my loose connection to comics for this post, justifying it ever so slightly for inclusion on this site. But mostly I just wanted to present this ad because, man, they really make things sound terribly dire, don't they? "Some men are eaten alive by tape-worms, others wander hopelessly for years, dying slow deaths from bowel disease." WOW. If only I had some kind of Candy Cathartic to counter these horrible fates.

And let's look at the testimonial by Mr. (ahem) Bowles: I'm going to say that the phrase "there came on the scene" a freakin' 18-FOOT TAPEWORM, expelled after taking this wonder drug, gets the 1910 Award for Most Polite Euphemism. "There came on the scene," like, you know, Mr. J. Frederick Tapeworm, of the Hampton Tapeworms, just happened to pop by the parlor for afternoon tea.

That this medicine is from the "Sterling Remedy Co." isn't lost on me, by the way. I better not have missed out on some enormous Candy Cathartic fortune.

Things We Really Shouldn't Still Have at The Store, #2596. 


Seriously, this is just sad. Employee Aaron dug up a stash of these from one of the many poorly-lit underground storage tunnels that extend miles through the earth beneath our store, and now I've got something else to throw on the eBay.

A Breathless keychain. Sigh. Well, I guess it is technically a Madonna collectible, so who knows...maybe I can get something for these.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy 3rd Annual Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk Day! 

In answer to my question from the second anniversary...well, I guess we are celebrating the third anniversary. Only this time, I've got the name right...I keep swapping the positions of "Hulk" and "Wolverine" in the title.

Anyway, here we are, three years after the original release of issue #2 of this six issue mini-series. This time is a little different, as issue #3 (pictured to the right) is allegedly imminent, with a scheduled release date of March 4th. And Marvel has released "All New Printings" of #1 and #2 for those folks who missed it the first time around, or perhaps did read it before, but those memories of yesteryear...faded, near-forgotten recollections, like faded Polaroids...no longer hold any trace of those initial exciting installments.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating the whole "lost to the mists of time" thing a bit, but not much. Because, three years? What the hell, man? That's just embarrassing. Hope the bragging rights of getting a guy from Lost to write a story about Hulk and Wolverine punching each other was worth the joke this series has become.

Of course, the series will still probably sell, so the answer is "sure, of course it was worth it." Doesn't change the fact that extreme lateness on high profile books is a pain in the ass, especially during the first year or so when people kept asking us for the next issue, and would give us the "somehow this is your fault" look when we told them about the delays.

But we're allegedly that much closer to finally being done with this thing...unless we get more delays between later issues. If I'm still waiting for #6's release in 2018, I'm going to be a tad steamed. At least Marvel appears to be attempting to finish this series, unlike this other stuntcast-writer series which was just full-on abandoned.

I don't have any new complaints about this I didn't cover during the last two anniversaries, so be sure to read those if you have a great need to experience more of my shouting into the wind. Let's just hope Marvel's learned a little something from this. Which I'm sure they have...until the next time this happens.

On a somewhat related note, I have this one guy who keeps calling to ask if the fourth Planetary trade paperback is out yet. Someone has apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes. (First, the last issue has to come out. Then we get the hardcover collection. Then we get the softcover. Even if the last issue pops up in the next Previews, we wouldn't see a trade until a year, year and half down the line, maybe. Assuming we survived the initial shock-induced heart attack caused by the solicitation.)

I hope someday I'll be able to sell this person a fourth collection. It's a good series, but sales on the trades stalled a bit when people discovered that the concluding chapters are not in print, and that we've long since blown through most of our back issue stock on those later singles. Fortunately the stories are mostly stand-alone-ish, so it's not that much of a detriment, and we're able to move some copies of the volumes. However, the set's long-standing incompleteness still stands as a barrier for some potential customers, despite my salesmanship mojo, and that's a shame.

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