This post brought to you by Star Warsing.

§ December 27th, 2019 § Filed under low content mode, pal plugging, star wars § No Comments

I was indeed Star Warsing last night…and into this morning, so I got home way too late and tired to put together a proper entry here on Progressive Ruin Online Punditry Magazine, so just a couple o’links and reminders today.

[On the topic of Rise of Skywalker: good, though I can understand some of the criticisms levied at it by rational, reliable film commentators. It does leave me wondering what George Lucas’ wrap-up to the saga would have been…I mean, completely bonkers, sure, but Star Wars needs to be a little bonkers.]

Anyway, LINKS:

My friends the Beckners still need a little more help to get through this month, so if you can give a bit to their GoFundMe, I’d appreciate it, and they would definitely appreciate it.

I’m still taking your predictions for the comics industry in 2020, so get ’em in already!

Thanks, pals, and I’ll see you on Monday.

Presumably on a reconnaissance mission prior to the conquering.

§ December 25th, 2019 § Filed under Christmas § 2 Comments


I hope everyone finds the astro presents they wanted beneath the space tree during this holiday planet-season.

Also, if I can direct your attention to this GoFundMe campaign for some friends of mine, who find themselves in a tight spot this month. The GFM was started almost a month ago, and after a promising start it kinda fizzled out. As a result, they don’t have the funds to get through to the end of the month and keep a roof over their heads. I know I’m asking a lot, for you to donate money to people you don’t know just on my say-so, but I wouldn’t ask if they weren’t good friends in desperate need.

Thank you for indulging me here a bit, and I’ll see you on Friday.

Almost used a different word than “futz.”

§ December 23rd, 2019 § Filed under watchmen § 14 Comments

[SPOILERS for Doomsday Clock #12 ahead]

Last week saw the release — finally — of the last chapter of Doomsday Clock, the extremely popular sales-wise, if internetally-reviled, mini-series intermingling Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen with the mainline DC Universe. While it feels like DC was pushing this new series as being somehow on par with the original, and while it did superficially ape the look-and-feel, Doomsday Clock will probably ultimately be remembered as “hey, remember that one time DC superheroes were in a comic book that also featured full-frontal male nudity?”

Not that it wasn’t sort of fun and intriguing…the series itself, that is, not just the full-frontal male nudity, though that was sort of amusing in its own right just by how uncomfortable a fit that was with what is basically your standard superhero fare. (As the boys on War Rocket Ajax have pointed out, having Dr. Manhattan’s Lower Manhattan right there for Mary Marvel to see is…something else.)

Anyway, the “fun and intriguing” part. Right. I’ve noted (and demonstrated several times) on this site that I have an ongoing fascination with Watchmen ephemera, the mostly unsupported-by-the-creators tie-ins and exploitations of the property. Doomsday Clock, obviously, is one of those things, yet another bullet point in that long list of what Watchmen has wrought. And while I read and followed along with the story as presented, I have to admit my primary interest wasn’t so much in said story but how they told it, what decisions were made to mix what elements of each milieu and to what purpose. It was the observation of the construction of Doomsday Clock to serve whatever specific purpose it was serving that intrigued, more so than whatever plot threads were offered.

Even so, I do like the idea of “the metaverse,” the idea that the DC Universe reconstructs itself around the continual reinvention of Superman to reflect whatever time period in which he’s published…basically, I’ve been observing the construction of a comic book that itself observes the construction of the fiction in which it exists, which I can’t help but appreciate. I suspect the very same point could have been made without involving the Watchmen characters, but by grabbing remora-like onto the former series for the attention it would bring, perhaps the hope was that the results of this particular event series may have more staying power than most. It would be nice to think that this could be the last word on reboots/relaunches in the DC Universe, that, like the idea of Hypertime before it, anyone reading comics long enough to notice significant changes in continuity should just realize that the in-universe explanation is that “it’s just a thing that happens, man” and requires no more thought or finagling than that, really.

Interestingly, the story itself seems to acknowledge that may not be the case, hypothesizing future “Big Event” series in the DC Universe for decades to come (most interestingly, at least one that involves the Marvel Universe). Implicit in these Big Events is the idea of providing more in-universe explanations for whatever is happening to the fictional universe at the time due to real-life marketing and editorial decisions…to borrow a turn of phrase from a certainly naked blue guy of some note, “nothing ever ends” — even with the metaverse explanation, more explanations will be forthcoming, regardless.

A week or so ago on the Twitters, I did a short thread about the impact of big crossover ent comics at Marvel and DC. Mostly, I was pointing out that Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars promised big changes that were mostly temporary (Spidey’s black costume possibly being the most significant exception), and even those initial promises were downplayed by the writer himself. In contrast, DC’s contemporaneous Crisis on Infinite Earths promised and delivered big changes…but then spent the next decades backpedaling from what they had done, ironically making its fictional universe far more complicated and convoluted than the previous state of affairs Crisis was supposed to fix.

I wrote a bit about the big changes these series supposedly bring about a couple years into this blog, where you’ll see those same Shooter quotes again, so I don’t need to go into that in too much detail again. Crisis, certainly, was the most successful in creating lasting changes, in that it pretty much futzed everything up from then ’til now, with several more series (from Zero Hour to Infinite Crisis to the one being discussed in this very post) trying to deal with its aftereffects. It would be nice if Doomsday Clock‘s “metaverse” idea held fast, changing the way we approach the way this shared universe works, accepting the changes without metatextual event series explaning why the changes, but as I said, even Doomsday Clock itself admits this is futile.

The other big change is that we now have the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice Society of America back, but that’s more the reestablishment of a previous status quo…a rolling-back of changes that, again, can be traced back to that original Crisis. There are also some small character bits, too, primarily to Superman’s history and supporting cast, which is fine, but the recasting of Martin Stein as a villain who deliberately created the events that brought about Firestorm kinda stick in my fanboy craw, but What Can You Do?

Possibly the biggest change is that the barrier has been breached: Watchmen characters are fair game for use in the DCU. I mean, they can’t piss off ALan Moore any more, right? I know at some point somebody probably paid some lip service to “this is an important event” and “we don’t use these characters lightly” but I’ve mentioned the idea of Rorschach Team-Up before and I think we all know it’s coming. Plus, there’s that eyeroll of an ending to this series to which someone will not be able to resist slapping together a follow-up. With Before Watchmen in 2012, and this series starting in 2017, I’m guessing Doomsday+1 Clock we can look forward to in the early-to-mid 2020s.

“Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” — Peter Drucker

§ December 20th, 2019 § Filed under predictions § 39 Comments


Yes, it’s once again That Time of year, a little earlier than in previous years where I’d think “oh dip, did I ask for predictions yet?” and then put up the post right before the end of the year and have you folks giving me your guesses well in February.

I plan on getting to your predictions from last year in January, but right now, I want you to gather together all your psychic abilities and foresee the future of the comics industry. Specifically, what you expect to see in the Year of Our Iron Man Arno Stark 2020. MAKE DIONNE PROUD. But don’t forget to follow these simple rules:

1. Don’t read the other predictions before entering your own.

2. Don’t criticize other people’s predictions.

3. Don’t predict any real person’s death.

4. Limit of three predictions per person, please! I know of a few of y’all will break this rule, and more often than not I address all the predictions anyway because my heart spills over with kindness and generosity toward my fellow humans on this spaceship Earth, but c’mon, give me a break here.

Okay, you know what to do…pile those predictions in the comments section of this very post here and we’ll meet back in about 13 months to see how everyone did! And like I said, I’ll get to those predictions for 2019 in a couple of weeks.

Thanks as always for your participation, pals…I’ve done this for the past several years, and even though I’ll gripe a bit about the time and effort put into the prediction responses, I really do enjoy it, honest! Don’t believe me? Have a psychic friend check my brain and tell you.

Second time’s the super charm

§ December 16th, 2019 § Filed under superman, this week's comics § 5 Comments

When we last met, I was about to go under the knife for another eye surgery. Well, I’m happy to report things went swimmingly, I was in and out of the operating room in a flash (not so much the waiting room, which we sat in for quite a while) and my eye seems to be healing up nicely. The end result is that I now need glasses for pretty much any close-up lookin’, as the replacement lens in my left eye is meant for distance vision, but that’s okay…at least it leaves me able to drive.

Anyway, I’m fine, and once my other current eye issues settle down to the point of being able to get real glasses, versus the array of dollar-store cheaters I’ve been depending on, everything will be just dandy. Or at least as dandy as my eyeballs will allow.

And it turns out I can still read comical books, which I tested by getting caught up on the last several months’ worth of Superman, culminating in this issue:

[SPOILERS for said issue ahead]

…Okay. I’m fine with this turn of events, just as I was the last time this was done with Superman, near the end of the New 52 run just a few years back. I thought then that the public revelation of Superman’s dual life as Clark Kent made for an interesting twist in the ongoing comics, one we hadn’t really seen before in the mainline continuity as an extended storyline. That was kinda the last hurrah for that particular version of Superman before he was replaced by the return of the post-Crisis/John Byrne reboot/married to Lois/has a son version that had been the main Superman for the 30 years prior to the New 52. (Look, I know that’s a lot to absorb if you’re not familiar with Superman’s publishing travails over the past decades, so take a moment if you need one.)

My feeling about the New 52 version of the public revealing of the secret ID is pretty much summed up by my post about a story just prior to that, when Superman revealed his ID to just Jimmy Olsen. In short, it was fun to read, scratches bit of an itch, but these twists to the Super-formula don’t have the impact they should have had because it’s still this weird not-quite-Superman version of Superman DC was foisting off on us as part of their rushed-into-existence New 52 line-wide relaunch.

But now, we have…well, as close to the “real” Superman back in comics as we’re going to get, without Siegel/Shuster/Swan/Schaffengberger/Boring/Plastino etc. coming back from the dead to do more stories. I think Bendis has been doing a relatively decent job writing a recognizable Superman that falls in line with the Superman comics of the past, while still feeling like a “modern” comic. I mean, there’s the occasional rough edge, or some Bendis-istic quirk, but by and large they’ve been fine.

Thus, the repeat of the plot of “Superman Reveals Himself!” (ahem) so soon after the last time they did it still feels somewhat…new and fresh and interesting, because now it’s “really” happening to the “real” Superman, and not some What If — er, excuse me, “Elsewords” — version. It reminds me a little of [hold on…SPOILER ALERT for Batman: Hush, of all things] that time when it looked like Jason Todd had come back from the dead, but it turned out to be Clayface, which kind of honked everyone off, so Jason Todd really came back later on and though the shock of the return was just slightly muted by the previous fake-out, it was still a surprising twist that grabbed attention. Okay, that’s not a 1:1 analogy, but I think you get the idea.

Back to the current comic, here…yes, I think this will make for some interesting stories. And yes, I’m sure this will eventually result in some reset-button putting of the worms back in the can of restoring the secret ID (and hopefully not yet another reboot). But I’m willing to see where this goes, especially with the idea stated in this issue that Superman will continue living and working as Clark Kent. If that doesn’t result in someone shouting at him “WHY ARE YOU SITTING AT A KEYBOARD…PEOPLE ARE DYING IN ACCIDENTS ALL OVER THE CITY” in every issue…well, I don’t know what to tell you.

I also have a vague memory of one of the Elliot S! Maggin prose novels from decades ago — Miracle Monday, maybe? — where Superman’s ID is revealed, and someone discusses how weird it would be if he continued as Clark Kent, that it would be kind of perverse for him to continue acting like a normal human when everyone knew that he was an alien superbeing. I’m getting details wrong, I know, it’s been many years since I’ve read the book, but it’s something like that. But that message still colors my perceptions of what Superman still hangin’ out as Clark post-revelation in the comics would be like. It’d just be…uncomfortable, if realistically depicted.

On the other hand, the more modern interpretation of the Clark/Superman dynamic, as Byrne tried to firmly establish in his reboot, was that Clark was the “real” persona, whereas Superman was the “disguise.” That’s a difficult thing to do, given that the star of the comics, the guy that puts butts in seats, is Superman, so by default he’s the “main” identity. However, if one does keep in mind that Clark is the real person, then him continuing his life as Clark should feel less peculiar than how that long-ago Maggin book would have it. The end goal is probably something along the lines of “Hey, it’s Tony Stark! That’s the guy who occasionally does stuff as Iron Man!” instead of “Hey, it’s Superman pretending to be one of us, just a slob like one of us!”

This is all based on one single issue of the storyline, by the way. Bendis could very well be planning to address some or all of this in his comics, so I’ll just read it and see. …I did want to point out a couple things about this issue that…didn’t ring true for me. A couple of those quirks I may have mentioned earlier in the post.

First, Clark tells Perry White he’s Superman, and Perry gives him a hug. Okay, I can buy that, because they’ve been friends for years, but it’s not followed by Perry immediately firing him from the Daily Planet for years of journalistic fraud. Okay, it’s comics, suspension of disbelief and all that, but it’s a bit tough to swallow. Again, future storylines may address this, but just in this issue as a standalone story, it still felt wrong.

Next, Superman gives his press conference (a well done sequence for the most part, I thought), and after telling everyone “hey I’m Clark Kent, I’m married to Lois Lane, okay see ya” he flies off, basically leaving Lois to fend for herself. Maybe it’s not as bad as all that, but it felt odd to me that Superman would just bail on his wife and pals in the wake of this revelation. Or maybe off-panel he told ’em “meet you at Big Belly Burgers after the speech” and they all had some fast food after the issue was over. Hey, why not.

Before I shut off the computer for the night, I’ll add that I really did love the scene of Jimmy Olsen messing with Superman as he tries to convince his longtime pal that he’s really Clark Kent. Genuinely funny.

Okay, that’s that. Thanks for sticking around after my brief hiatus, pals, and I’ll be back soon.

This is no way to start a seventeenth year of blogging.

§ December 9th, 2019 § Filed under eyeball, low content mode § 6 Comments

Hi gang! I am having what should be my final eyeball surgery tomorrow, and I know I’ve said “this will be my final eye surgery” at least three times before, so we’ll see. …Get it, “see?”

So the end result is I am probably taking the week off here while I recover/get adjusted to my new eyeball settings. If my vision is up to it, maybe I’ll be back at the end of the week, but I think I’m gonna shoot for next Monday.

In the meantime, please enjoy this swell bumper sticker Customer Brook picked up for me whilst on a business trip:


You can get your own right here!

Thanks pals, and we’ll talk again soon.

“Suddenly, sixteen years later….”

§ December 5th, 2019 § Filed under suddenly... § 15 Comments

Somehow I’ve made it sixteen years doing this silly site here, and thanks to all of you who’ve bucked the trend, reading blogs long past that medium’s heyday. Thanks also to my friends and family, who support this endevour by not explicitly opposing it, to my girlfriend Nora who still seems okay with me doing this, to pal Dorian who was there at the beginning, and of course to Neilalien, the firstest and the bestest of the comicwebloggers.

The predominant theme for the past year as been “Mike’s eyeballs,” as I’ve undergone multiple issues and surgeries throughout the last several months…and at times even being pretty darn close to being entirely unable to see. I’m a lot closer to being done wtih all this now, but you may have noticed a relative paucity of posts over the past year as I had to take time off from the site due to assorted eye operations, or straight-up near-blindness, which prevented me from posting pictures of Swamp Thing or Sluggo or both. My End of Civilization posts even took bit of a hit of late.

Like I said, I am almost through all this, though I do have one more operation next week and we’ll see where I’m at after that. But I don’t plan on giving up the blog anytime soon…long as you guys will have me, I’ll be around.

Oh, and my store had its fifth anniversary this year, as I entered my 31st year of working in comics retail. I should probably get a real job at some point, but in the meantime…stop by my store! Say hi! Buy stuff! Buy lots of stuff! Maybe even pick up something off the eBays! I won’t mind!

Speaking of the store, I started posting a lot more on the shop’s Instagram this year. Lots of pics of stuff in and around the store, but I also realized “wait, I have sixteen years’ worth of pics I posted on my blog to pick from, too” so you may see some old ProgRuin favorites on there occasionally. No, I haven’t hit them with “Then…KOREA” yet…not sure they’re ready.

And as always, you can find me on Twitter usually commplaining about something or making stupid jokes, or you can follow my store there too. My store’s on Facebook if you are still putting up with that site.

So one of the side effects of my ongoing eyeball problems is that my ability to read stuff onscreen is hampered a little bit, though the recent acquisition of a much larger monitor seems to help a bit. Anyway, please excuse the occasional misspelling or whatnot as you peruse the archives of recent memory…try to collect them all! Just something I thought I’d mention before directing you to the following links of highlights and lowlights from the past twelve months of ProgRuin history:

DECEMBER 2018:

I mark my first eye surgery in the most tasteful manner, the aftermath of said surgery, here’s the worst thing to do with a guy with one working eye, a Christmas post so great I don’t know if I can top it this year, I give you a beautiful GIF from Teen Titans Go! to the Movies.

JANUARY 2019:

Oh Bob Haney and your Teen Titans dialogue, still haven’t started on getting those early Cerebus (and a follow-up), I promise you I was only joking about the gift I gave pal Dorian, I look back at your predictions for 2018 which I’m linking to with just the post tag because I don’t want to link each individual post here, ffthe Penguin’s Harley Quinn.

FEBRUARY 2019:

Marvel’s guide to funnybook collecting, comic book “ages” – always a hilarious topic, I’m an easy mark for Nexus/Badger nostalgia, the very Dalgoda store signs that the other shop had on display before I even worked there, Fantastic Four #347 hype, I regret to inform you that someone did indeed register that domain name, we don’t talk enough about this horrible subject line (or about my Herman Melville joke in the comments).

MARCH 2019:

Oh don’t get me started on the whole “his name is Shazam” thing, I go on about online store reviews, someone somewhere is mad that the HBO series isn’t a direct adaptation of Doomsday Clock, I really really hate those Marvel Value Stamps, I celebrate my 50th birthday with 50 things I’ve learned about comics and comics retail, the comic strip reprints of my youth, ANIMATED HAGAR, Mad paperbacks and I namedrop Sergio, already filled that shelf.

APRIL 2019:

Gotta stop getting eye surgeries as I’m running out of punny post titles, I could use four or five more of these to sell right now, I pay pals to speak good about my store, it finally happened — I made a 420 joke, oh hi Walmart thanks for checking in, I go into far more detail than you’ve ever wanted about my eyeballs.

MAY 2019:

Oh wait here’s more about my eyeballs, I did more on Free Comic Book Day with one eye than most people do with two, Swaqmp Thing and the recontextualizing of superheroes, a reconsideration of that first Superman/Swamp Thing team-up, those fancy comic sleeves from the ’90s ain’t so fancy now are they, China needs to answer for this Superman statue, an overview of the DC Universe streaming shows, six weeks off from reading comics and this is what I jump back in with.

JUNE 2019:

Oh hey this Swamp Thing TV show is pretty good — I’m sure it’ll last forever, fitting that they’re white like an albatross too, I’ve never seen this Barbie and Ken comic before, didn’t expect to write this much about John Byrne on my blog ever again, your once-every-six-months comic news update, a weird Watchmen-inspired album cover.

JULY 2019:

Oh man I forgot about this swell version of the Phantom Stranger we’ll never see again, don’t know how many people I’ve had to tell “no Mad isn’t going away,” still kinda cheesed off about how the end of The Walking Dead was handled, more Swamp Thing TV talk, your Donny Osmond joke of the day, grading them there bagged comics, surely this can’t be more Swamp Thing TV talk, variant covers – friend or foe?

AUGUST 2019:

And goodbye to Swamp Thing TV talk, the salty tongues of the DC Universe shows, Groo reprints and the lack thereof, reprint #1,000,000 of House of Secrets #92 that I own,

SEPTEMBER 2019:

the big change in B.C. ain’t as big as you think, watching back issues become scarce in real time, online reaction versus in-store sales, superpowers in the Watchmen universe, a really Super watch, good gravy I’m also collecting parodies of the House of Secrets #92 cover, on being a (somewhat former) Swamp Thing completist (2 3) 4, Thor #337 really was a huge change, at long last New Universe talk, more X-Force #1 talk.

OCTOBER 2019:

NANCY BOOKS NANCY BOOKS NANCY BOOKS, New Universe sales back in the day, comics I never owned but loom large in memory, I may have invoked some kind of demon with this post, bad eyes won’t stop me from keeping you informed about Swamp Thing comics, the only Halloween ComicFest picture you need to see.

NOVEMBER 2019:

Post #5001 – all about Boris the Bear, Reader John sent me a full run of the Dark Horse Roachmill because of this post so I’ll be posting about the first year of Action Comics next, the last Hellboy movie wasn’t the abomination I feared, the what of super-who, so long Tom, even more Death of Superman stuff (and more!), Marvel making a sow’s ear out of the silk X-purse.

DECEMBER 2019:

Only one post so far this month, and it’s about that Dark Multiverse thing.

Thanks for sticking with me, friends, whether you just started reading my site or if you followed me over from LiveJournal back in 2003, or if you were putting up with me in the local Oxnard BBS scene before that.

And for reading all that…well, usually I post some old personal picture or something to post at the end of these, but I didn’t have anything ready. So, instead, you get this picture I just took of myself right now as I’m working on this post. Yes, I look tired…hey, you post on a blog for 16 years and tell me you’re not tired!


See you all next week.

Should I be reading anything into “Dark Multiverse” and “Direct Market” both being “DMs?”

§ December 2nd, 2019 § Filed under this week's comics § 3 Comments


So my efforts to catch up on my comic book reading continue apace, having managed to read a whole two this past week, both from DC’s Tales from the Dark Multiverse project.

I talked about this series before, like a week or so ago, commenting on its purpose seemingly being to make new “Batman Who Laughs”-type “dark” versions of our heroes to eventually menace the Justice League or whatever. And the patterns seems to continuue here in these two new one-shots (um, SPOILERS I guess) though the Blackest Night Sinestro isn’t really so much a villain at the end of his story as he is a huge screw-up. You know, kind of how Jar Jar is technically the villain of the Star Wars prequels, but he just kinda blundered into putting Palpatine into power out of his own clumsy nature rather than actual malice? Like that.

Anyway, I am enjoying these comics, despite their dark tone and the overall general belief that what we need less of on the stands are more “dark” comics. Well, these tell you up front “hey, these are from the Dark Multiverse,” so if you read ’em, it’s on you. But I think they’re effectively tragic “What If” type stories and I’m enjoying them on that level.

What’s interesting is that the “host” of these comics, the (hoo boy, hold on) Tempus Fuginaut, is basically telling us that what we’re seeing in these comics are deviations from the events in the regular DC Universe…i.e. the one that’s we’re reading about in the comics right now. Which is a bit confusing, as we’ve had our share of New 52s and Rebirths and such fiddling about with what is and what isn’t continuity. But ol’ Tempie, after he relates what happened in the Blackest Night series, says “that’s what happened in your universe,” so I guess we’re supposed to assume that Blackest Night, and Infinite Crisis, and the Death of Superman, complete with Red-Haired-Clone-of-Luthor-Pretending-to-Be-His-Own-Australian-Son, all happened in whatever version of the DC Universe we’ve got now. (Pending whatever happens at the end of Doomsday Clock, natch.)

And speaking of Infinite Crisis…so the deal with that is that the Earth-2 Superman and Lois, along with Earth-Prime Superboy, were in some “hypertime”* bubble outside the main DCU looking in. What the Dark Multiverse version of Infinite Crisis postulates is that there was a separate Hypertime bubble in the Dark Multiverse, featuring the survivors of the DM’s “Crisis on Infinite (Dark) Earths,” I guess. IT’S MULTIVERSES ALL THE WAY DOWN, FOLKS

Anyway, I’m overthinking it, I’m sure. That’s one heck of a spoiler on the cover of that Infinite Crisis cover, by the way. Should also note that there’s one particularly gruesome full-page shot in there, but hey, remember, says “Dark” on the cover, not “Light Happy Fun Times.” You were warned!

Like I said, I have been enjoying the stories in this series, even the “Knightfall” one, despite Azrael being like an immediate turn-off for me in nearly every other comic book appearance he’s ever had. Sorry, just don’t care for him. …I believe the next one in the series will be taking on “The Judas Contract” from New Teen Titans. Who will be the surviving future-villain-to-menace-the-regular-DCU from that, I wonder? A jaded and bitter Changeling? Dark Wonder Girl? Even Darker Raven? An armless Speedy? …Nah, forget that last one, who’d actually do anything like that?
 
 
 

* Don’t write in to tell me I’m using “Hypertime” incorrectly. As far as I can tell it can only be used incorrectly.

“I’ll keep this reasonably short,” he lied.

§ November 29th, 2019 § Filed under obituary, x-men § 3 Comments

So I’ll keep this reasonably short since it’s Black Friday and the day after Thanksgiving and y’all have better things to do that to read some old guy’s blog. I just wanted to say that I recently watched Chris Claremont’s X-Men, a documentary about that very thing that I found on Amazon Prime. I thought it was quite interesting, with lots of onscreen interviews with Claremont, one of his editors Ann Nocenti, other-mutant-writer Louise Simonson, and former editor-in-chief of Marvel Jim Shooter.

Lots of discussion about what went into making the book what it was, how certain storylines were put together, and how it all began to fall apart. My big takeaway from it, and one that wasn’t explicitly stated but could certainly be inferred (particularly by someone like myself who watched things happen on the retail end in real time) was that Marvel’s biggest mistake in the long-term health of the X-Men franchise was the straight-up discarding of Claremont after his shepherding of the property for so many years.

I went on bit of a Twitter-tear about this a couple of days back, where I essentially said that if Marvel had just kept Claremont in control of the book, instead of booting him off in favor of the Hot Artists that were in vogue at the time…in essence, if Marvel had thought about the health of the X-Men over the long haul instead of chasing that short term dollar, the X-books might have maintained their relatively-large audience (give or take the impact of the overall market decline in the ’90s) all these years. It could have been a consistent moneymaker, rather than a series of diminishingly-returning reboots/relaunches.

As pal Andrew rightfully noted, near the end there Claremont’s writing on the titles was, perhaps, not as keen as it had once been, and in need of a change. I do believe, however, that a carefully managed changeover to a new committed writer, maybe even keeping Claremont on as a consulting editor, would have been an overall better decision than, you know, what they ended up doing. (And who knows, Claremont could’ve found a second wind on the title…if it was necessary, as readers mostly seemed to think even the latter day stuff was just fine.)

One of the unique aspects of the X-Men, like the Legion of Super-Heroes before it, was the large fandom that surrounded it, attached itself to the characters, and were highly involved in the ongoing soap-opera aspects of their lives. Once that singular vision started to splinter with Claremont’s replacement by Many Hands, that addictive soap opera element began to lose its hold…and with cancellations and reboots, the perceived chain of continuity going back years seemed to feel lost. See also…the Legion of Super-Heroes, strangely enough. And New Teen Titans, too.

Of course, there are plenty of other (X-)factors at work here…I already mentioned the declining comic market, which may have forced reboots and relaunches anyway, whether or not Claremont was still on the title. And maybe, like all things, X-Men may have had its run and declined into obscurity. But I still can’t help but feel if Claremont had stayed on the book, or at least overseen a smooth transition to new creators who could have maintained the book’s approach, maybe those readers would have been kept behind, we’d have a book building on its own past, and we wouldn’t have had multiple restarts and #1s over the last few years.

I think having Jonathan Hickman as sort of the overriding “voice” of the new spate of X-titles isn’t a bad idea…the number and frequency of those new titles is a bad idea, but that’s just how Marvel is nowadays. But people are excited about the X-Men (if not especially the other new related titles) again, which is something that hasn’t happened in recent memory. Of course, as soon as Hickman is gone, everything’s getting new #1s again and we’ll be back at square one, but it is nice to pretend that maybe we’ll see an X-Men issue number…100 again? One can only hope.

• • •

I should note the passing of comics legend Howard Cruse a couple of days ago. He was a great cartoonist, by all accounts a fine human, and it’s sad to know he’s no longer with us. His classic graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, is coming back in a 25th anniversary edition next year, and if you haven’t read it yet, you really should. If you’re new to his work in general, his official website has plenty of strips you can peruse.

So long, Howard.

Extra pressure to be wild in your headlines when Atlantis is an actual, real thing.

§ November 25th, 2019 § Filed under death of superman, promo § 6 Comments

So Customer Andrew gave me a copy of this Superman promo flyer from 1993, featuring supposed pages from the in-universe tabloid newspaper National Whisper on the front and back:


…which then opens up into this poster promoting the debuts of all these replacement Supermen:


While I’m sure we had this at the previous place of employment way back when, I can’t directly recall this particular piece of marketing, at least in this format. The center “poster” existed in similar form in a much-larger color poster (one of which I believe I have in my stacks of ancient promo stuff at the store now). I do have to wonder about the phrasing “your local club location” — that’s throwing me off a bit.

Plus, I feel like the “National Whisper” segments appeared as pages within the actual Superman comics theselves as part of an issue’s story pages. Could be wrong, and didn’t think to check to remind myself. I know those pages look familiar, but apparently the flyer itself isn’t one I recall well, if at all, so that’s why I”m guessing those pages showed up in one of the comics. I’m sure one of you can tell me, else it’s off to the salt mines to haul out my Superman comics to look into the matter.

On a related note, in response to last week’s discussion about the new Death of Superman: The Wake trade paperback, Dario had this to say:

“FYI that particular Death of Superman series has its own continuity. It’s a tie-in to an animated film, which uses the New 52-style outfit.”

You know, despite my watching all the direct-to-DVD/BluRay movies DC puts out, with their new shared quasi-New 52 continuity, it never crossed my mind that the comic was connected to these. But, it makes perfect sense, and DC had done it for their Suicide Squad cartoon, with a digital-first mini-to-trade written by Jeff Parker and Cat Staggs.

Still haven’t read The Wake yet. I’M GETTIN’ TO IT

Anyway, I like these in-story peeks at what journalism (or “journalism”) is like in a superhero universe. Of course superheroes would be the primary focus of these things, with gossip and rumors and such, since superheroes would likely be the ultimate celebrities…I mean, sure, [Your Favorite Performer]’s pretty cool ‘n’ all, but can s/he fly? (Newstime was another little more thorough, presenting a full magazine in the style of Time and Newsweek…you know, hence the name “Newstime”).

There are more comments to that post I want to address…but that’ll wait ’til next time, pals.

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