BREAKING GELATINOUS CUBE NEWS!

§ July 22nd, 2022 § Filed under gelatinous cube § 7 Comments

The big news is that the trailer for the new Dungeons and Dragons movie, Honor Among Thieves, has been unleashed:

Slightly bigger news: it actually looks like it’ll be pretty good.

But the biggest news of all:


GELATINOUS CUBE CAMEO. Over there, on the right, suckin’ that guy into its…belly? Let’s say belly.

As you may know from my previous posts on the subject, I do loves me some gelatinous cubin’, so I was tickled translucent when pals Jason and Dave confirmed for me that a Cube does indeed make its glorious appearance.

Now granted, it’s been a while since I’ve played D&D with, you know, other people. Like, not since “before 2nd Edition” times, back when I played with some of the neighborhood kids ’til another neighbor played a tape of some religious radio show about how D&D and other fantasy games were “evil” and scared them all off. Once I had a Macintosh computer some years later, I enjoyed playing some of the licensed D&D games there, but even that was, what, 25, 30 years ago?

What I’m saying is, it’s been a while, so I don’t recall if Gelatinous Cubes are only found sweeping up debris, critters, treasure and adventurers in dungeon corridors. Seeing it just out in the open like this doesn’t seem…right, though given this scene is in an arena setting I’m guessing it was brought out there for the purpose of…being in the right place for that dude to just slide right into it. Anyway, that brings up the question of how one would forcibly move a Gelatinous Cube out of a dungeon. Perhaps using some kind of giant gelatin mold tray, I suppose.

Anyway, cool. And Twitter pal Daniel pointed out there is a tie-in Cube toy for this film.

“6-INCH SCALE GELATINOUS CUBE: Pose a 6-inch action figure within your Gelatinous Cube collectible figure and imagine the heroes of D&D stuck inside. Figures sold separately. Subject to availability.

“14 SNAP-IN ACCESSORIES & “INVISIBLE” STAND: D&D dice are the D&D accessories of choice for boring humans, but this Gelatinous Cube comes with accessories & stand for prodigious posing possibilities.”

Amazing. I mean, I don’t have any other Dungeons and Dragons figures so I’m just going to have to imagine multiple iterations of Swamp Thing stuck inside instead.

The order page also asks

“IS IT A GOOD D&D GIFT FOR BOYS, MEN, GIRLS, WOMEN, AND ALSO EVERYONE?”

And the answer is “yes, yes of course it is, you dummies, everyone loves the Gelatinous Cube.” If this doesn’t become the best-selling toy in history, I’m going to be very disappointed.

My favorite Megaton Man thingies.

§ July 20th, 2022 § Filed under indies, scans § No Comments


So the Megaton Man comic was a superhero parody/satire by Don Simpson, originally published by Kitchen Sink Press in the mid-1980s. It ran for ten issues, and was followed by multiple publications from KSP, Image Comics, and Simpson’s own company Fiasco. There was even a webcomic that was reprinted, at least in part, in Megaton Man Hardcopy from Image.

I was a big fan of the Megatoniverse from almost the very beginning…the first issue I bought was #2, pictured above, and shortly had a first issue in my hands thanks to my local retailer-and-eventual-boss. One of these days I need to do a deep re-dive into all that jazz and write it up, assuming I ever catch up enough on my backlog of new comics to be able to devote that sort of time. However, I did want to take this opportunity to present two of my favorite bits from the original run.

The first is from issue #5 (August 1985), featuring one of the all-time greatest gags to ever appear in a superhero comic:

Next is from #9 (April 1986), in which Megaton Man, after an equally wonderful two-page spread where he’s finally had enough with everyone and everything, lays down one of the most fantastic punches ever delivered on paper. Eat your heart out, Gil Kane:

My apologies if I’ve presented these pics before on my site…I can’t seem to find them if they’re here. But, now, I have a place on my site I can point people to when they ask, “Mike, what are your two favorite bits from Megaton Man?” You would not believe how often that comes up.

And was Prison Jumpsuit Luthor even areound at the same time as this? I can’t even remember now.

§ July 18th, 2022 § Filed under mad magazine, publishing § 4 Comments

So I was processing some new acquisitions at the shop (said shop being Sterling Silver Comics in lovely midtown Camarillo, CA — shop early, shop often) when I peeped my peepers at the back cover of Cracked #317 (July 1997):


I don’t know why this struck me as oddly as it did. It feels awfully…insular a gag to put in a nationally-distributed magazine, maybe? The whole “Electric Superman” thing (featured in this long-ago post of mine with the possibly increasingly-inaccurate title) got some real world coverage at the time, as I recall, but I don’t feel like it was a lot. Remember, by 1997 non-comics-initiated folks were still coming into the shop, seeing Superman titles on the stands, and asking “hold on, isn’t he dead?” That feels like it was the primary public perception of Superman at the time. Not to mention comics were still in, or crawling out of, a market crash, so they didn’t have the huge cultural cache they did only a few years prior.

But of course, not every gag needs to, over even can, hit with everybody, and this one (drawn by Alan Kupperberg) may have received a brief flicker of amusement from those Cracked readers who also had a foot in the door of the comics hobby and were aware of Superman’s then-current status.

I know, I know, I’m overthinking it. Maybe the gag was conceived during that very brief window the new costume was getting some publicity and everyone thought “oh, yeah, this’ll still be a thing everyone will be talking about in three or four months.” Or maybe Cracked was increasingly being sold through the direct comics market and thus more likely to find readers who’d appreciate this joke.

Anyway, I just thought it was odd. Also, “person getting shot is funny” doesn’t, um, play quite as well at this current moment, needless to say.

Coincidentally, I also received in the same collection a copy of Mad Super Special #96 (1994):


…which, as you can see, was their big Super Hero issue. The gags are a little broader, either playing off characters’ more general perception or placing them in jokes that require no special comics knowledge (man complains about a fly in his soup, which is promptly webbed out of there and eaten by Spider-Man), or parodying specific events that anyone reading the mag would know (like the 1989 Batman film), or making jokes about things that are eternal and forever embedded in our culture, like, er…Yellow Pages ads:


…or, um, phone booths:


Okay, admittedly that’s mixing two different things here, the eventual aging of once-current gags versus a gag that kinda hit the ground limping in the first place. But it seemed to me an interesting contrast between humor that, though near archaic, is still amusing, versus a joke attached to an event that’s irrelevant now and was barely relevant to its potential audience then.

I wonder how many alternative names they went through before deciding on “Miracleman” (and how disappointed they were to find “Mighty Man” was taken).

§ July 15th, 2022 § Filed under miraclemarvelman § 2 Comments

Just a couple o’quick responses to comments on Wednesday’s post:

Daniel T sez

“I really hope MM doesn’t actually interact with the Marvel Universe. He so, so, SO doesn’t fit in there.”

My assumption (and I haven’t read any of the recent news stories about the character’s apparent involvement with the Marvel Universe) is that the version we’ll get there will be different from the “Miracleman” that was in the Alan Moore/Neil Gaiman story. The latter is like “its own thing,” with a presumed narrative and planned ending. I suspect the Marvel Universe version will be named Marvelman and be more along the lines of the pre-Moore era.

Here’s a page which goes into detail on the character’s previous interaction with the Marvel Universe, mostly in that one Captain Britain story where we see MM’s grave. (The pic there says “Miracleman” but I’m pretty sure it said “Marvelman” in its original printing.)

That said, there’s a little aside in the original Moore issues, during the battle with Kid Miracleman, where various apocryphal events are described that may or may not have occurred in this event. I believe one of them involved MM traveling in time to encounter himself in the past? Something like that, don’t have the issues in front of me. Anyway, this version could make a side trip to the Marvel Universe as part of one of these weird happenings during that big conflict with KM. Kid Miracleman somehow gets loose on Earth-616, Miracleman chases after him, the rest of this Earth’s superheroes get involved, it’s a Whole Big Thing ’til they’re both returned back to Eclipse’s issue #15.

I mean, I have no idea. We’ll all find out eventually. It still smacks of DC surprising us with that Watchmen tie-in at the end of the DC Rebirth special way back when.

• • •

Thom H also sez

“It really is weird to see MM interacting with Marvel characters.”

Whenever Marvel has, like, a Superman-level character in the books (like maybe Sentry, or Gladiator, or, you know, even Superman his own self) it feels like it’s almost…milieu-breaking. Like, a Character Like This shouldn’t exist in the Marvel Universe, which is basically New York and other outlying environs, just with superheroes with more limited powersets. It’s like if, I don’t know, Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie showed up on Babylon 5. Does that fanfic exist? If not, © © © ™ ™ ™ me.

That’s probably not exactly what you meant…I guess you mean more it’s a mismatch in general tone, a character used to examine and break superhero tropes suddenly hanging out with characters who traffic in said tropes. Yes, it’s weird, but I am looking forward to see how the Miracleman Universe mixed with the Marvel Universe works out. Could be fun, could be a car crash, I look foward to it either way.

• • •

And one last bit of business…Joseph has a lot to add about Watchmen Heroclix, so I’m just gonna point you to what he wrote. I will say the folks who sent me the Watchmen ‘clix set for review also promised to send along one of those Giant Dr. Manhattan Heroclix statue thingies, but alas, none ever arrived. I’M STILL OWED A GIANT HEROCLIX THINGIE.

No jokes about “GIANT THINGIE” and Dr. Manhattan, please.

If the property holders would allow it, Marvel could give us a Star Wars/Miracleman/Aliens/Predator/Planet of the Apes comic.

§ July 13th, 2022 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, variant covers § 8 Comments

So as I may have mentioned once or twice in the past on this here weblog thingie that I enjoy Watchmen ephemera and other inappropriate tie-ins. Not that I think they’re important additions to the Watchmen story, but rather I enjoy observing how people who aren’t Alan Moore or Dave Gibbons and their Watchmen creative pals handle characters and situations that were never really intended for usage outside their original context. Sometimes it’s an ill-advised crossover comic, sometimes it’s a big ol’ box of Heroclix game figurines, sometimes it’s a poster featuring even more merchandise. But whatever it is, I’m invariably interested in it.

Similarly, I have an interest in Marvelman/Miracleman and whatever weird tie-ins exist beyond the original comics themselves. There’s not nearly as much as there is for Watchmen (I mean, there’s the button, and this wacky series) which makes things a little easier on me trying to track down all this nonsense.

One that nearly got past me was Marvel’s one-shot Timeless, which hints at a coming meeting between the Marvel Universe and Miracle/Marvelman. By the time I found out about it, all my copies were sold out, which actually worked out since they eventually released a reprint with a nice Miracleman cover by its current-if-decades-interrupted artist Mark Buckingham.

Which leads me to why I called you all here today. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the initial Moore/Garry Leach revival of the character, pairing ol’ MM with a variety of superheroes on variant covers of their titles. I know, I know, I’ve said in the past that I hate these misleading cover images featuring (sometimes) the stars of the book with other folks who don’t appear inside. But I am weak, and have decided that I need one of each of these. “But Mike,” you ask, “why not just download the images from Marvel or wherever instead of taking home even more comics,” and my reasoned response to you is “SHUT UP, JUST SHUT UP.”

Anyway, here are a few of those images…I’m quite taken the X-Force one:

And this Captain America one is nice and cheery:

This one is quite busy:

And…I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine:

These are just a few of the many MM variants that are heading our way, and at least a couple make me wish we’re getting actual team-up stories inside (“Miracleman and Sam Wilson go out for a nice flight around the city.” “Wolverine finds himself with a tiny Miracleman lodged in the side of his head.”) but I guess that’ll have to wait ’til we get whatever was teased with that Timeless comic.

While finding these images, I did spot an old solicitation for the Miracleman: The Silver Age #3 from early 2016, which was going to feature at long last the new Neil Gaiman/Buckingham chapters of the story they’d started way back when at Eclipse Comics. Well, apparently at the end of the year we’re finally getting those long-promised stories, no, honest, we mean it this time. Back in 2016, one of the covers promised for that #3 was a “Hip Hop variant,” which alas had no art available with the solicit, but there was this Skottie Young cover that I hope gets offered again:


Once Gaiman/Buckingam finish their run, give Young the book. Or if the Miracleman story has come to its conclusion, have Young redraw the entire series. I’d read it, though the redone childbirth issue would be something else.

Also that “Yogurt Churn” panel makes me feel nauseated.

§ July 11th, 2022 § Filed under racial sensitivity § 3 Comments

So I was just paging through this copy of Plastic Man #2 (1967) I picked up in a collection recently, and was struck a bit by this splash page:


..and while the first thing I noticed was that I’m not a particular fan of this design for Plas’s face:


…there’s also the use of the term “Gypsy” about which we’re a little more sensitive in its usage nowadays. So, you know, it’s bit jarring to just come across its casual use here, a relic from a past time. Yes, I mean, they just didn’t know, but it’s still weird to modern eyes.

But hoo boy the folks doing this book should’ve known better than this:


Of course Asian stereotypes like this were still just fine and dandy in media for…well, way too long. This particular example is some real “Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s shit…you’re just sitting here, reading this so-so revival of Plastic Man in its overdone “wacky everything goes, look we’re hip too like Marvel, read us college students” style and suddenly, bonus racism. Sheesh.

And have I mentioned I don’t like how Plastic Man’s face looks?


No sir, I do not.
 
 

from Plastic Man #2 (January-February 1967) by Arnold Drake and Win Mortimer

It’s a lot to read, but at least click on the “Pariah” link for an old classic ProgRuin post from back when the site was good.

§ July 8th, 2022 § Filed under this week's comics § 5 Comments

[SPOILERS for Dark Crisis]


I suppose I’ll have a more comprehensive post on this series when it’s over, if I have anything to say about it in the context of DC’s ongoing Crisiseseses. (I should note that I asked the Bits Boys over on this episode of the War Rocket Ajax podcast about whether or not DC should retire the word “Crisis” from their events…a hint as to my suggested replacement is in the episode’s title.)

Like many of DC’s events, we’re dipping back into that Crisis on Infinite Earths well, where the character of Pariah, introduced in that 30-year-old series, is back as the apparent antagonist of this current story. How this will eventually play out in the inevitable “make Crisis on Infinite Earths never not-was” conclusion, I don’t know yet, but maybe this will get it out of the publisher’s system and we can finally go back to crossover events where heroes are, I don’t know, saving the world or something and not just puppets in the latest metatextual rejiggerings of their fictional milieu.

But as someone who read said Crisis on Infinite Earths way back when, who experienced it as it should have been experienced, in real time, anticipating building for each monthly issue to see what new, irrevocable changes have been made to the DC Universe. Anyone coming to it after the fact misses that primary ingredient of the event, the expectation that what we’re seeing really is big, permanent change, and the combination of uneasiness and excitement at what was coming. The story of COIE itself is a sloppy mess, though beautifully drawn by George Perez, but the story is almost beside the point. The point is Big Events, Worlds Living, Worlds Dying, Things Never Being The Same, and the plot just drives you from one happening to the next one.

Ever since, I’ve had an ongoing interest in all these regular multiversal shenanigans. Sometimes it’s genuine interest in the story, too often it’s the rubbernecking at a car wreck, and overall it’s the continuing observation of figuring out new and even more convoluted ways to either undo COIE or route around its damage. So far I haven’t quite gleaned how that’s going to happen in Dark Crisis yet, though hints have been dropped. We’ll get to it when we get to it, I suppose.

The secondary purpose of the series is to establish the importance of the “next generation” of heroes in the DC Universe, following the “death” of the Justice League. Look, we all know the JLA ain’t dead, at least not all permanent-like, and that the “new generation” will never take over for the regular heroes. Superman will always be Clark Kent, Batman will always be Bruce Wayne, etc., barring a huge industry-wide shift away from superheroes like what happened in the late ’40s/early ’50s, providing a natural break to introduce new versions of old characters (though Supes, Bats, and Wonder Woman didn’t change over even then). At best Dark Crisis may support the ongoing viability of DC’s various new mostly-legacy characters, introducing them to the new readers via this crossover event. A primary goal of team-up books is to expose readers to other characters, and this latest event is no different.

As to the actual contents of the comic itself…it’s fine as these things go. Nicely drawn, an interesting subplot of the new Superman, Jon Kent, trying and not succeeding at forming a new Justice League, a knock-down, drag-out fight between Nightwing and Deathstroke, a good fake-out with Beast Boy. Oh, and Black Adam is featured in this series, too, because he’s Coming Soon to a Theater Near You, so why not. Actually, I sort of like Adam’s new status as Adversarial Sometimes-Ally, which is more interesting than yet another Pure Evil Guy, which we’ve been getting for a while. And two members of the Justice League who did not “die,” Green Lantern and the Flash, have important roles to play as well (particularly with GL in #2), so by and large I’ve liked these first couple of issues. There’s a lot happening, it’s got that COIE tie-in that I’m both tired of and compelled by, and it looks nice. Pretty much what I want from a dopey superhero comic.

Also I wanted to note that I really liked this variant cover for Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1:

I think DC just dropped a hint at the secret identity of Flaming Carrot.

New career option just dropped.

§ July 6th, 2022 § Filed under freak out § 4 Comments

LIP-READING ASTRONOMER

 
 

LIP-READING ASTRONOMER

 
 

LIP-READING ASTRONOMER

 
 
 
 

from DC Special #17 (October-November 1975), reprinting Action Comics #342 (October 1966) by Jim Shooter and Wayne Boring

This is a terrible Fourth of July post.

§ July 4th, 2022 § Filed under collecting, swamp thing § 3 Comments

So I was looking at one of those “here are the hot comics!” apps that some collectors are using in place of t heir own want lists, because I’m trying to keep on top of when some comic is dubbed by the investment gods as The New Thing and I can gird myself for the onslaught of phone calls and emails from folks all asking for the same item.

At any rate, on a whim, I looked at the various Swamp Thing entries, as I seemed to recall some discrepancy or ‘nother the last time I looked. And yup, here it is, in the listing for Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 (1984):


The “new origin” bit is correct, but the first appearance notation is way off. (And gotta be honest, totally forgot about the New 52 “Seeder” incarnation of the character, which is fine because I bet he won’t be called that the next we see him, if ever.)

Anyhoo, Jason Woodrue, the Plant Master, first popped up as an Atom villain in the first issue of the diminutive hero’s own series in 1962. There he is on the cover in the selfsame hot comics app that listed Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 as his debut:


And then I thought “oh, well, maybe they mean the first time he was referred to as the Floronic Man, or the first time he looked all planty.” And nope, I knew neither of those were the case. I mean, it says right there in the Atom #1 listing…he transformed from the normal human appearance into his plant form in Flash #245 (1976). Here’s the app’s entry for that comic:


…which is the form in which I first encountered the character, in Justice League of America #195 (1981):


And then there was the Steve Bissette/John Totleben redesign of the character, first appearing in that Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, and as pictured here from #24:


Unless that’s what they meant by “first appearance,” the first time this particular design of the character appeared, I’m gonna say that app’s entry for Saga of That There Swamp Thang #21 is “human error” and needs to be corrected. Though I wonder if someone out there heavily dependent on the app has their copy of #21 marked with a big “FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE FLORONIC MAN!” tag.

Actually, don’t need to wonder…hello “Top Rated Plus” eBay seller with this listing:


The desperate quest to establish “first appearances” for maximum collectability can be a weird and wild one, leading to contradictory and erroneous information getting out there. Thus, the moral of the story is…TRUST NO ONE. Except me, your pal Mike.

Oh, and I saw this, too, in the entry for Saga of the Swamp Thing #25:


Augh, don’t get me started (because I already did start back in 2004 in this link-rotted post). And even the app in the entry for #37 says


Hoo boy.

“Decidedly Different.”

§ July 1st, 2022 § Filed under promo § 6 Comments

A couple of DC comic promotional stickers, sent out for retail use in 1981:

Seemed awfully…well, permanent if used as intended, particularly given the small timeframe the items advertised had. Once Justice League of America #194 was on the stands, the poor retailer had to scrape this sticker off whatever surface she’d pasted it to. Unless a new sticker was just placed over the old, or the sticker was taped up and the adhesive back was eshewed entirely.

Anyway, these made it unused and unstickered, for forty years. Let us applaud their endurance.

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