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In which I bother noted comics people online.

§ May 24th, 2024 § Filed under hulk, superman § 9 Comments

So, a couple of follow-ups:

First, in regards to Amadeus Cho’s explanation for the Hulk avoiding death tolls in his rampages, I said I wasn’t sure if that was per an editorial edict or not. Turns out over on Bluesky, the fella what wrote that comic, Greg Pak, straightened things out saying that it was all him making that decision, not anyone higher up.

Granted, I’m sure the Marvel high muckety-mucks were glad to have something to point to and say “see, our hero who is in Avengers movies and makes us lots of money is not a killer.” And frankly, I’m glad of it too. It’s fun to see Hulk smash up buildings and punch tanks, it’s not quite as much innocently-violent fun (usually) to think about him murdering people in the process. Just one of those “willing suspension of disbelief” deals.

I did just reread the Garth Ennis/John McCrea Hulk Smash two-parter from 2001:

…and in the series, Hulk fights the army, natch, and it is very heavily implied that several soldiers are killed in the process.Tanks are smashed, planes are blown up real good, and you do see men scrambling out of hatches or parachuting to safety. However, deaths are implied in dialog, but there is perhaps enough wiggle room to claim that soldiers have survived but are out of the battle.

Chris K noted the 2001 Startling Series: Banner series by Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben:

This was an out-of-continuity story that, I have to admit, I haven’t read probably since it was released, but it does tell the story of a Hulk who does leave a body count in its wake. As I recall, it’s dark and a little depressing, so if you had a killin’ Hulk on a regular basis, that may be what it’d feel like.

• • •

Again on the Bluesky, I quote-posted famed comics writer Kurt Busiek, because he was talking how DC Comics missed an opportunity by not going wild with out-there storylines right before Crisis on Infinite Earths swept threw and reset everything.

He mentioned as an example of DC kinda/sorta half-heartedly doing that sort of thing was “Supergirl [getting] married in a story no one remembers.” Well, I remember it, because I bought that very issue new off the shelf back in late ’85:

Now this was by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Al Williamson, and I haven’t read it in forever, but my memory is that it was…not good. I mean, nothing wrong with that creative team, of course, but the story itself seemed misguided and, well, weird.

As per this Wednesday post, I’ve been reading a lot of late-era pre-Crisis/pre-Byrne reboot Superman comics. I keep avoiding this particular issue as I recall not liking it, but talking about it this much may have be revisiting it sooner rather than later. Anyway, I did hit on kind of a similar point in that past post, which I mentioned to Mr. Busiek, about Steve Lombard’s progress as a character this late in the game was curtailed by Crisis and the reboot.

Busiek’s response was that around this period, DC was producing Superman story inventory for overseas publication, and then trying to use them up in the U.S. comics, so that actual permanent continuity changes were tricky to pull off. Now, I know DC did release stories in other countries that were eventually reprinted here, such as every issue of the Superman Special, as well as the proto-graphic novel Superman Spectacular.

The Grand Comics Database is usually pretty good in noting when a comic is reprinted from another source. But I can’t find any of the late pre-Crisis era Superman and Action books noted as initially coming from an overseas publisher, while the examples above do. Doesn’t mean they don’t, I just can’t find info confirming it. It would be interesting if that were the case, so I’ll have to look further into it.

“Hulk commit involuntary manslaughter!”

§ May 20th, 2024 § Filed under hulk, marvel, wolverine § 26 Comments

So there’s been some discourse online about editorial denial about specific events/characterizations both explicit and otherwise heavily implied in recent X-Men comics, specifically regarding Jean Grey, Wolverine, and Cyclops. I haven’t read an X-book in probably a decade-and-a-half, so I can’t speak to specifics, but it’s pretty clear the creative teams had one intention with the characters’ particular romantic triangle, and the highers-up are giving the ol’ “noooope” to the whole deal.

This put me in mind of other editorial decrees that seemed…oiut of place to me. This was a discussion on Bluesky, which started with my post here, and I fully acknowledge the contributions others made there with their replies in informing my blog entry here.

I’m going to address the second example I gave there first, in that it’s stated that the Hulk has never purposefully killed. Okay, I don’t know for sure that this was an editorial demand, but here in Incredible Hulk #110 (November 2007) by Greg Pak, Carlo Pagulayan and Jeffrey Huet, Hulk’s Really Smart Pal Amadeus Cho explains what’s going on:

He continues:

“How many times have you fought the military? How many tanks and helicopters have you smashed?

“And not a single soldier has died.

“Yesterday you brought down the Sentry’s Eyrie. You smashed the top of the Baxter Building.

“You pulverized all these heroes…

“…And yet you haven’t killed a single soul.”

Hulk brings up some examples where he has killed, but Cho counters these were instances of self-defense against other killers, as opposed to slaughter of innocents during mindless rampages. Basically, so long as the normal Bruce Banner/Hulk dynamic is in place, Banner is somehow running numbers/probabilities in the background, exerting some subtle influence to prevent Hulk from murdering people.

There is the caveat that Cho slips in there about “as long as your brain hasn’t been tampered with,” allowing for an “out” for examples of Hulk killing, like, say, during instances of Banner being entirely subsumed by the Hulk’s personality, or removed entirely.

This is all fine with me, to be honest. It feels counterintuitive, that there were no casualties during one of Hulk’s destructive rampages, but This Is Superhero Comics. This isn’t any worse or stranger than super-battles always demolishing abandoned buildings, for example, or like the Flash clearing the area of civilians before the rest of the Justice League fights the Shaggy Man or whatever. It’s not as much fun if you realize thousands of people got slaughtered because the Avengers didn’t get to the scene on time.

For some reason this puts me in mind of the events from Miracleman #15 (the Eclipse Comics numbering, from 1988) by Alan Moore and John Totleben. This is like the exact opposite of the “thank goodness these buildings are empty!” kind of explanation for why every superhero battle isn’t the equivalent of multiple 9/11s. In this issue, Miracleman has his final(?) battle with former sidekick-turned-evil Kid Miracleman, and it’s just mayhem and slaughter all over the place, and it’s not all done by the bad guy:

It works here in context because the superbeings have been presented as above normal human concerns, uncaring about mortal lives, and that when these “gods” battle it’s humanity that pays the price. It’s a theme of the book.

The theme of the Hulk is “man vs. himself,” Banner having to cope with the monster that lives within in. The additional guilt of “and that monster kills a lot of people” would have made it an entirely different book.

Another thing this all brings to mind is Wolverine, where, as I recall, an edict was put down by then editor-in-chief Jim Shooter that the ol’ Canucklehead has never killed anyone. You know, despite this happening in X-Men #133 (May 1980) by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin:

…which was later retroactively explained that these guys Wolverine was fighting were just “injured” and came back as cyborgs or whatnot. Look, I’m not a big X-Men reader, I don’t know the details, but this clearly is a case of obvious intent being subverted by editorial edict. I mean, I get it, the X-Men are heroes, you don’t want ’em killing folks left and right, but this was clearly to show how dangerous Wolverine could be when not kept in check. It’s characterization, it’s a plot element adding tension to the proceedings. It’s a reminder that he’s not just a tough-talking bloke that hangs out at the X-Mansion, he is literally One Savage Dude.

Anyway, you can get into a whole thing just on X-Men comics alone. Jean Grey had to die because as Dark Phoenix she killed millions of beings, that sort of business. She got better, obviously, and I’m pretty sure they’re less shy about letting Wolvie off baddies now.

Should note that Amadeus Cho, in that Incredible Hulk #110 I excerpted above, goes on to tell Hulk that Captain America probably killed a few Nazis during WWII, because, well, it was WWII. Hate to tell you this Mr. Cho, but Cap did a little more than that:

I mean, holy crap. Though to be fair, maybe Bucky did ’em all in.

Foreward into the past.

§ July 19th, 2023 § Filed under how the sausage is made, hulk § 9 Comments

So thanks to Roel for pointing out my “forward/foreward” typo, which was dumb of me specifically because 1) I had the book right in front of me and it’s spelled out there, and 2) I had to correct myself when I typed the same word in an email, so I do know how to spell it. Ah, well, it wouldn’t be Progressive Ruin without any typoos.

Anyway, I’ve been going through some old CD-Rs and DVD-Rs of old files, and finding some oddball stuff. Like, here, enjoy a full box of Spawn POGs (or SPOGs) that I had at some point for sale on the eBays:

And here’s this thing, a blank template I created from the first Eclipse issue of Miracleman:

…that I eventually used to make this post.

If you want a full-size version of this template for your artistic shenanigans, just drop me a line and I can email it to you. (Sorry, it’ll get hotlinked to death otherwise.)

Oh, and another thing…I’ve recently been reading Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema’s “Intelligent Hulk” storyline from the early to mid-1980s, leading up to the Hulk’s banishment to the Crossorads in #300. I started reading Incredible Hulk with #293, which is pretty much right at the final act of this story which more or less began around #270.

For about 2 1/2 years the status quo of the Hulk had changed from what everyone basically “knew” (either from the comic itself or from the TV show), which seemed like it was taking at least a slight risk. Even at the end, changing the Hulk back into an even more brutal, even cruel, version of the character was a little startling. It definitely laid the groundwork for following writer Peter David’s ten years of various versions of the Hulk, and pretty much the Hulk ’til today. (Not to leave out interim creator Al Milgrom, who was the fella what actually brought back the Grey Hulk before David got his hands on him.)

But what I thought was interesting, after Mantlo demonstrating repeatedly over the course of the storyline, that even with Banner’s mind controlling the Hulk’s body, he could still fall into a Hulk-ish rage if he wasn’t careful. This groundwork for Banner eventually losing control was put down sporadically, but not, like, overwhelmingly, and the danger of the old savage Hulk returning seemed…at least preventable.

Then Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars came along, where a whole gaggle of Marvel’s heroes vanished at the end of one of their issues, returned at the beginning of their next issues, and we were all extolled to read the 12-issue Secret Wars series to find out what happened to them between those installments.

In Hulk’s case, he came back with a broken leg and a bad attitude, suddenly a lot more cranky and violent than he had been just a month ago. Obviously things went poorly for ol’ Jadejaws during his Secret Excursion, causing his further mental decline.

However, reading it now, as a whole, rather than just the final few issues as I had originally…the pacing is off. Having so much of the Hulk’s decline happen elsewhere felt like something of a cheat after following the story in his own book for so long. Yes, everyone reading Marvel was expected to read Secret Wars, but even if you were planning to, the nature of the series meant that by the time you got to Hulk’s problems there, the actual Incredible Hulk book would have moved on into its new direction. A part of the story’s development had been excised from the main book, put into another writer’s hands in another series, and then deal with those repercussions back in Hulk. Ah well, that’s the Marvel Universe for you.

To be fair, #300 was looming ahead, so a change to the status quo was going to come anyway. And realistically, how much more of “Banner is or is not losing control?” plot events did we need? It would have been nice if we’d got more of Mantlo’s Intelligent Hulk, but it’s enough that he basically changed what a Hulk story is for…well, all time.

“Could be?” IS.

§ July 14th, 2023 § Filed under hulk § 5 Comments

Was otherwise occupied Thursday evening, so all I have for you today is this excerpt from the “Pizzazz Poop” celebrity gossip column from Pizzazz #12 (September 1978):

Or “Mxyztplk,” if they’re writing about the Golden Age version.

§ October 24th, 2022 § Filed under hulk, publishing § 15 Comments

Okay, let’s see if I can run through a couple of more comments left back in Ye Olden Tymes (i.e. last August):

Wayne sallies…um, in a forward-moving direction with

“Mike, I will send you five dollars in cash if you write a post on the Heckler.”

I AM NOT ABOVE BRIBERY. However, I don’t think I’d read the Heckler since…well, probably when that series was released in the early ’90s. But I did buy every issue, though I’m reasonably certain I gave up my copies to my shop‘s back issue bins when I opened up in 2014. and I just checked, and The Heckler isn’t on the DC Universe app.

But never fear, as I think those comics may yet still linger in the bins awaiting my retrieval. Therefore, Wayne, I will attempt to read the series and see if I have anything to say here about it. A quick look at the Wiki entry reveals…nothing I can recall from the comic, save for his nemesis “John Doe,” but I might only remember him because he’s on one of the covers. Ah well, I guess it’ll be like reading brand new comics to me.

• • •

David Conner continues with

“The mention of Peter David’s Supergirl and Aquaman got me thinking, is there any other writer from the last 40-odd years who feels more ‘of his time’ than Peter David?

“I *loved* his stuff in the ’80s and ’90s, but looking back at it today, it’s more often than not cringe-inducing (using that term which I generally hate advisedly.)”

First off, let me just say it’s high time my browser’s spellchecker stops flagging words like “Supergirl” and “Aquaman.” I mean, I suppose I can add them to the dictionary myself, but whoever programs these things might as well just dump all the superhero names they can into whatever file they go into. Help the world spell “Mxyzptlk” correctly!

But to David’s actual point…yeah, I see where you’re getting at. I have to admit, I’m a bit more charitably inclined towards Mr. David’s writings than the opinions of some of my fellow comics-noscenti. I think his Hulk work still stands up, for example, and his Dreadstar was fun (save for that two-issue bit where he was parodying Trek…oof). And there is other stuff he’s written here and there that I’ve liked, such as Fallen Angel and, yes, Aquaman. Supergirl was a weirdie, mostly because of the premise, but I’d read and liked the whole run. His Star Trek was genuinely great, something of a miracle considering the editorial interference he often faced.

When I think of a certain comic creator being “of his time,” the one that comes to mind for me is Don McGregor, a writer who came to prominence in the ’70s and his very text-heavy work is what I picture when I think of “1970s comics.” Now that’s just a matter of my particular perception, as the man’s still working today, but I think of 1970s comics, in comparison to modern books, as having a lot more captions and dialogue, and I associate McGregor with that particular style.

Now David’s work…I think a primary criticism aimed at his comics is the level of self-aware, and of a certain measure self-satisfied, “cleverness” to his writing. Sometimes it can be subtle-ish (the “brush with Death” in Incredible Hulk), sometimes it can be laid on a bit thick (that Trek parody in Dreadstar I’d mentioned) and as with most humorous and/or clever writing, Your Mileage May Vary. It may be that this sort of thing didn’t age well, with it seeming New and Fresh at the time, but as the years have passed and writing styles and trends and tastes have changed in comics, looking back reveals the some of the obviousness of the artifice. Much in the same way we look back at Alan Moore’s early work and kinda wince a little at some of those scene transitions (which, to be fair, folks were kinda gripin’ about even back then — like in Killing Joke where we see a “Fat Lady” poster at the circus, and then we move to the Joker’s memory of his pregnant wife. Hoo boy).

I would say something like your reaction to David’s writing, David [Conner], is different from something like Stan Lee’s writing in the 1960s. That is Very Much of Its Time, but it may be more that Lee’s style defined that time and is considered perfectly acceptable, versus people trying to write “for the hip kids” back then whose writing did not age quite as well (cough cough 1960s Teen Titans cough). Before The World’s Biggest 1960s Teen Titans Fan gets mad at me, those are fine, the art’s beautiful, but you have to admit that DC’s “hello, fellow kids” scripting house style was clunky as all get out, rarely reaching the masterful level of smarm Lee was able to churn out.

David’s work of late, revising the Maestro character from the Hulk, and Genis from his run of Captain Marvel, seem to have been reasonably well received. I didn’t read the Genis title, despite having read and enjoyed those CMs, only because I’m so backlogged with comics I try not to add more titles unless I absolutely have to. That said, having been a Hulk reader for decades, I of course picked up the Maestro titles, and I think they’re a perfectly fine extension of the character’s story. Nothing in there struck me as being overly…Peter David-y, in the sense of what people who don’t care for his previous work don’t care for.

Now New Fantastic Four maaay be a bit much for those same people, with the banter amongst the main characters and a particular gag involving another character’s name. I picked up this series too (what with the Hulk being in there, and the FF tie-in as well) but I’m only a couple of issues in, since it hasn’t felt quite as compelling a read as the Maestro books have been. Eh, what can you do.

I do still think David’s Hulk run remains a high point in that character’s history, and I still have fond memories of much of his other work. However, I do realize if I go back and reread some of it, I may find myself in a similar position of being more aware of the seams now that some time has passed. Or I may enjoy it just fine for what it is, even if it is an artifact of the period in which it was produced. (Remember “wilding?”)

But you know what? Peter David got this dirty joke into a Popeye comic and I can’t hate him for it.

By which I mean the current Hulk #1, not the previous three or four Hulk #1s.

§ November 26th, 2021 § Filed under hulk, this week's comics § 1 Comment

[spoilers for Hulk #1]

So my first Hulk comic was Incredible Hulk #293, cover-dated March 1984 but released in late 1983. I’d been mostly a DC Comics kid, but I’d been sampling various Marvels here and there for a while, enjoying just how different they felt from their crosstown rivals.

I was of course familiar with the Hulk…I’d seen the TV show, I read the Origins of Marvel Comics paperback featuring his origin, and I’m pretty sure I’d encountered funnybooks of his before. I certainly read the 1981 Batman/Hulk crossover. I just wasn’t picking up his own monthly title on a regular basis.

Well, for whatever reason I picked up that #293 off the stands, probably because of that image of him whaling on the Fantastic Four and wondering what was going on (SPOILER: dream sequence). I was also in for another surprise, in that the Hulk with which I was the most familiar, the one that in fact is the dominant version of Hulk just about the entire world knows, is the “Hulk Smash!”/”Madder Hulk Gets, Stronger Hulk Gets” character. Not very bright, speaks like a child (or not at all, as per the TV show), alter ego Bruce Banner wandering from town to town in his purple pants…that’s Hulk.

I started reading Incredible Hulk with that #293, and once a month (or two or three times a month, given Marvel’s bonkers release schedules of late) I’ve been getting a Hulk comic ever since. And for the majority of that time, that prevailing popular perception of the Hulk had not been the basis for the stories.

In that first issue I’d read, Bruce Banner had been in control of the Hulk’s body for quite some time. However, gears were beginning to slip a bit as we pushed forward to #300, with Banner losing more and more control until finally, we ended up with a Hulk that was entirely savage with no trace of Bruce Banner at all. Plus, there began to be a heavier focus on the psychology of Banner/Hulk, introduced by Bill Mantlo and picked up by Peter David during his long run.

Over the ensuing decades, we saw lots of permutations of the Hulk, with Ol’ Jadejaws “Smash Puny Humans” edition only appearing incidentally. And the focus was heavily on the psychology of the Hulk and Banner and how they related to each other. And after this latest iteration, Immortal Hulk, which dove deep, deep, deep into the workings of the Hulk — or rather, multiple Hulks — it was hard to see where else they could go with the concept. Especially since the series was so highly regarded, and for good reason (though ultimately going down in history with an asterisk next to its name due to some issues with the primary artist).

For one thing, I’m kinda surprised/kinda not surprised that Marvel immediately jumped back on the Hulk train so soon after wrapping up such a high profile series. Surprised in that the quality of the series casts a long shadow that any new series is going to have to try to escape in order to get its own thing going. Not surprised because it’s Marvel, restarting series with new #1s over and over again is kinda their brand.

But here it is, a new Hulk #1 for me to read after almost 40 years of reading the darn things. And yes, they seem to have found yet another permutation of the Hulk/Banner relationship…one that seems to present a more antagonistic Banner, literally pictured as piloting the Hulk’s physical body from whatever mental seating he has within. The Hulk has been outfitted with rocket-ship-y doodads and thingamajigs, apparently for Banner/Hulk to depart the Earth, fueled by the caged-in-mental-realm Interior Hulk’s rage.

I gotta say, didn’t see that coming. While I do appreciate that it retains the bones of the classic “madder Hulk gets etc.” idea, I especially like the idea of Banner being more explicitly a menace, as opposed to the “puny” “milksop” victim he’s usually portrayed as. The thesis statement of the book appears to be “the Hulk is there to protect us from Banner,” so I expect to see variations on that theme over the course of series. It reminds me a little of that bit at the end of Peter David’s (first) run, where a darker, yet more put together Banner surprised Rick Jones in his room at night, and as he leaves, he turns and Rick sees a glint of gamma green in Banner’s eye. Just the slightest hint of danger that’s now fully in Banner’s grasp.

So, yes, this comic’s got my attention. I don’t know about “Hulk as spaceship,” but I do like a more motivated-by-self-interest Banner portrayed as being possibly more of a problem than the Hulk himself. It’s still going to be compared, favorably or disfavorably, to the Immortal Hulk that wrapped up just before it, but hopefully it’ll be good enough for fans to approach as Its Own Thing.

Anyway, look, after all this time…it’s not like I wasn’t going to read it, right?

Now I can love the Hulk!

§ January 24th, 2020 § Filed under hulk, low content mode § 2 Comments

Alas, due to an early morning eyeball doctor appointment, I won’t be staying up late the night before to compose the next installment of the prediction posts. But don’t let my infirmity prevent you from adding to next year’s series of posts by adding in your comic industry forecasts for 2020!

I’ll be back Monday with the next entry covering the 2019 predictions, but in the meantime please enjoy this photo I took of my very own copy of the “Nobody Loves the Hulk” 45 RPM single, previously discussed here:

Thanks, pals, and I’ll see you after the weekend.

C’mon, surely somebody loves the Hulk.

§ January 9th, 2020 § Filed under hulk, pal plugging, swamp thing, this week's comics, watchmen § 2 Comments

So the other day I noticed on pal Brook’s Instagram that he posted a picture of his latest rare vinyl acquisition. I of course immediately asked him if I could feature it on this here comic book weblog, and he said that was fine…and also since he was going to be dropping by the store Wednesday for new comics anyway, he’d bring it in for me to see in person.

And here it is, with some new photos I took at the store once I had that record in my ungainly mitts, an original 45 RPM single of “Nobody Loves the Hulk” by the Traits, released in 1969:

This is a pristine copy, only removed from its original mailer by the seller to check its condition prior to selling. And speaking of the mailer, here it is:

And why not, here’s a pic of this classic piece of vinyl itself:

And did I play it on the in-store turntable? I wasn’t going to, as a’feared as I was to do damage to this artifact, but Brook insisted that I did, so I dood it. If you weren’t lucky enough to be there when I did, you’ll just have to replicate the experience best you can by listening to this:

Brook also forwarded this link to an interview with one of the people behind this recording. Apparently it was originally sold only through mail order ads in comic books, with only some of the 2,000 copy print run selling that way, the rest being dumped off in various places. Given the condition of Brook’s copy, this seems likely to be some kind of warehouse find, probably sitting in a box somewhere for decades after being discarded by the original owner. Who knows? But Brook got one and, um, perhaps I may have my own copy on its way now too.

Big thanks to pal Brook for bringing that in.

In other news:

This thing came out this week, which made for a nice addition to my personal collection given that the majority of the reprint material inside is taken from the Watchmen supplements for the DC Heroes Role Playing Game, the originals of which I’d sold off long ago. Thus, it’s nice to have them again.

Also reprinted therein are the entries for the Watchmen and related from Who’s Who in the DC Universe (and given the publication of Doomsday Clock, they really are in the DC Universe!), plus the covers for said Who’s Who issues, as well as material from Amazing Heroes and a Dave Gibbons cover for The Comics Journal.

Most hilariously, it includes that bonkers Rorschach appearance in The Question #17. I mean, sure, why not.

Turns out, when asking longtime customer and fellow Swamp Thing afficionado, and Watchmen and Planet of the Apes expert Rich Handley if he needed a copy…turns out, he was actually consulted regarding content for this book! He was asked what extra Watchmen stuff should be included that hadn’t already been offered in reprint form elsewhere…and I’m presuming whoever it was at DC asking this already knew about Question #17 so I won’t blame Rich for that. Anyway, due to changes in editors and whatnot, Rich didn’t seem to get a credit or even a “thank you” inside (at least, I couldn’t find one in the tiny print, given my ailing eyeballs) so just mentally add his name in there when you’re reading it. Okay? Okay!

Also, in other other news:

Also out this week is Swamp Thing The Bronze Age Vol. 2:

I didn’t really pay much attention to the original solicitation for this book. I just figured “ah, it’s just reprinting that big ol’ Swamp Thing omnibus I already bought, I don’t need this,” but reader, How Wrong I Was. It includes a lot of material not in the big ol’ hardcover…enough material that I probably should have passed on it and just waited for the paperbacks. It has the Challengers of the Unknown issues with Swampy and Deadman, it has the DC Comics Presents and Brave and the Bold team-ups.

Most importantly, it has all extant material related to the unpublished #25 from the original series! Now, I already had copies of the pencil and inked interior pages included here, but this volume also contains pencil roughs for other pages, the script, a paste-up of the letters page for that issue(!), and even the inked-and-logoed cover! Pretty amazing. I’d kinda hoped they had enough of this issue done that they could have released it as one of DC’s currently “facsimile” reprint line, a “reprint” of a #25 that never was, but looks like it wasn’t as finished as I’d thought. Ah, well. But this is great to have, finally.

Now, if we can get DC to reprint the finished pages ‘n’ script from that pulled “Swamp Thing Meets Jesus” story should they ever get around to collecting the stories from that immediate era…that’d be somethin’.

Nobody spoil the end of Atlantis Attacks for me.

§ July 12th, 2019 § Filed under collecting, hulk § 2 Comments

Have been kinda short on blogging time this week, so sorry for the impromptu low content mode. I’m here, I’m still alive, and I can see, mostly, at least for now. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things next week.

I am slowly starting to catch up on comics, after, what, two and a half months of mostly not reading anything (aside from Doomsday Clock, natch). Mostly caught up on Immortal Hulk, though I started reading those after reading the recent Peter David/Dale Keown one-shot Last Call. It’s nice getting the David/Keown team on the Hulk again, but the premise of the story (Bruce Banner has hired an assassin to kill him, since he can’t commit suicide without the Hulk preventing it) seems somewhat undermined by the premise of Immortal Hulk (that Banner/Hulk can’t die, period). I mean, the story’s fine, and features the return of a minor character from David’s original Hulk run…I just found the conflicting premises amusing.

Anyway, I’m trying to catch up…I was falling behind before, since with my eye issues I was reading more slowly. But not reading at all has really put me at the bottom of a growing mountain of comics. Even winnowing my pulls down a bit hasn’t helped, but, well, as problems go this is pretty minor, I realize. It just gets a little frustrating, especially since, you know, it’s my job an’ all. Used to be each New Comics Day evening, I’d plow through the new comics I picked up, and then I could reread some old stuff, or maybe some new back issue acquisitions, or something. It’s not because I own a shop, I think, but more just Mike’s old eyes.

I’ll catch up, eventually, I suppose. I may need to take a vacation from selling comics to spend time reading comics, which…balances out some universal equation of some sort, I think. Despite popular belief, I don’t get to “stand around and read comics all day” at the shop. I mean, if only.

I’m telling you, Marvel fans back in 1974 really wanted that Shanna the She-Devil stamp.

§ March 11th, 2019 § Filed under hulk, retailing, wolverine § 5 Comments

So since opening up Ye Old Comics Shoppe in Camarillo, CA, available seven days a week for your funnybook purchasing needs, one of big surprises I’ve had in my acquisition of collections was just how many copies of Incredible Hulk #181 I’ve come across.

Now, maybe it’s not as surprising as the one and only time a copy of this showed up in my shop, but given the rather higher profile of this Hulk #181, being the first (full-length) appearance of Wolverine, it still amazes me every time I see it.

One thing about these #181s that I’ve been getting…more often than not, and I mean a lot more often than not, they have the Marvel Value Stamp cut out of ’em. (Read more about the Marvel Value Stamps right here!). This promotion of Marvel’s is the bane of many a dealer in old comics, as we gotta page through Marvel issues of a certain vintage and make sure that damned stamp hadn’t been cut out. And here’s the weird thing…about 98% of the time, when I’m checking most Marvels that have these stamps to make sure they’re still intact, they are. But when I’m checking Hulk #181s, the stamps are cut out, like, 90% of the time. It’s like those kids back in ’74 knew I was going to try to resell these. “Let’s stick it to that 5-year-old Sterling kid who’s gonna try to make a buck off these in about 4 decades or so!” Anyway there’s a reason why I made that #181 joke in this post.

Anyway, the thing about Hulk #181 is that they sell very quickly, stamp or no stamp. I’ve yet to have a copy in the store overnight, in fact. I either move it on eBay immediately, I call someone up on my list of Folks What Want the Fancy Books and they dash in and buy it, or a lucky walk-in grabs it. Good thing it sells so fast, because (gulp) I sure do spend a lot of money on these, and would like to recoup the cost right away (and make some much needed profit besides).

I’m bringing this all up because about a week ago I had another copy of Hulk #181 oome into the shop. And the reason I don’t have an actual picture of that copy of the comic I acquired (instead linking to the Grand Comic Database instead, just in case you needed a reminder of what this comic looked like) is because almost immediately after handing my guaranteed-good business check to the seller, completing the transaction of ownership over this back issue, I had someone in the store say “I’ll buy that!” Just as quickly as I’d acquired it, it was gone. Nice when a collection purchase turns out like that.

I did say “collection,” because there was more than just the Hulk #181. There was also Hulk #180, which I did take a picture of:

And if you don’t happen to know the significance of this comic…the reason I specified #181 being the first “full-length appearance” of Wolverine is that he appears throughout that entire issue. #180 is in fact his real first appearance, in the last panel of the final page of the book:

BONUS: reference in caption to Hulk’s green butt. You’re welcome.

Anyway, this issue doens’t have quite the demand the follow-up does in the collector market, despite literally being the character’s first in-story appearance. In one of the few times back issue demand actually makes some sense, the comic with the awesome red-background cover that actually features Wolverine, and contains Wolverine throughout the issue, is in much higher demand than the one where he pops up just in one panel on the last page, Hulk butt talk in the caption or no.

And this specific copy I acquired…hoo boy. Not only was the value stamp in this one missing as well:

…but some young person had gone scissor-mad with power after clipping the coupon, and trimmed a segment out of one of the center pages as well:

I had no real confidence in selling this book…well, okay, that’s not true. The ol’ Canucklehead’s panel was still intact, and you know, there’s always someone out there looking for this, regardless of condition, if it’s priced right. …Amd priced right it was, because I also managed to sell this very quickly. Not as fast as the #181, but still, it moved out the door faster than I expected.

It’s nice to get the big ticket items like this and turn ’em around almost immediately. It definitely helps subsidize the cost of the other items in the collection which aren’t as pricey and aren’t in nearly as much demand, and thus may sit around in the boxes a little longer. Which isn’t to say they’re turkeys, by any means…they’re just not Hulk #181. Or even #180. But it’s still, like, Kirby Tales of Suspense and that sort of thing. They’ll sell.

That’s one of the fun parts of owning a comic shop…never knowing what’s going to be in the next collection that walks in the door. I mean, sure, it’s usually a run of Team Youngblood or something, but once in a while, you get a nice surprise. Even if it does have the Marvel Value Stamp cut out of it.

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