Actually now I kind of regret not getting that Swamp Thang comic.

§ September 18th, 2019 § Filed under collecting, swamp thing § 1 Comment

So to continue from my last post, there are other aspects to my Swamp Thing collecting that I neglected to mention.

1. FOREIGN EDITIONS: I mean, sure, when I can find them. I have Swampy in handful of different languages, some I can kinda sorta read, and others I can’t comprehend at all. I still regret missing out a bunch of first series Swamp Things on eBay that were published in Mexico during the ’70s. Ah well. But I’m generally open to buying any of these that I can find.

2. REPRINTS: Nowadays “reprints” generally means “trade paperback collections” or “hardcovers,” and I usually don’t buy them if they’re just duplicating content I already own. I’ve made exceptions, like the recent Roots of Terror hardcover collecting together a bunch of one-shot stories in one place. But generally, if it’s just, say, a straight reprinting of issues, unless there’s some kind of new content, I’ll probably pass.

Now I did get that Bronze Age omnibus because it was the first time a lot of that material had been reprinted, and on nice paper to boot, like the Pasko/Yeates run, the latter portion of the original series, etc.

Iin the early days of my Swamp Thing collecting, like I mentioned last time, I did buy the comic book reprints DC had published of the original 10 issue run by Wein and Wrightson, partially because of new covers on the first two collections, and partially just out of the need for gettin’ ’em all. And, of course, I will keep buying reprints of House of Secrets #92 just because it amuses me to do so, and nobody’s been able to stop me.

3. PARODIES: Not that there’s been too many, but Swamp Thing parodies do pop up now and again. I generally buy these as I see ’em, though I admit to passing on the Spoof Comics Swamp Thang one-shot [COVER MARGINALLY NOT-SAFE-FOR-WORK] which was perhaps a little too far off from the character it was parodying. I did, however, totally get this Mighty Mites issue.

There haven’t been a whole lot of parodies of Swamp Thing over the years…or maybe there have been, and you’re all just hiding them from me to spare my feelings. In general, I’ve been pretty lucky as they’ve just turned up in things I was already reading, like Cerebus or Boris the Bear and so on. But I keep my mostly-working eye open, in case any others turn up.

So anyway, that’s that. Folks have been popping up in my comments section for that last post talking about what and how they collect, which has made for some good reading, and I encourage you to join in. I’ll probably go back and respond to some of those comments in a future post.

My apoologies to regular commenter Turan, who had one of his comments grabbed by whatever algorithm decides to hold entries for moderation…it’s approved now, Turan! He also mentions the Heap stories from the black and white mags of the ’70s have shown up in a print-on-demand collection, which may be of interest to some of you folks, as well as to me. The color comic isn’t included, but that’s okay, I already have it!

Okay, enough SWAMP TALK for today…will return to this topic next week, as I have something else planned for Friday. Thanks for reading and commenting, pals.

I’m also a Fatman the Human Flying Saucer completist.

§ September 16th, 2019 § Filed under collecting, swamp thing § 27 Comments

Thom H. asks, in response to my recent post regarding House of Secrets #92 tribute covers:

“How many Swamp Thing completists are there or do you know of? I had never heard of that type of fandom until I started reading this blog. And I didn’t think to ask about it until I realized there were multiple people into collecting every appearance of ‘ol Swampy.

“I’m sincerely interested in knowing about the different degrees of completism and extensions of that completism to characters like Man-Thing and The Plot (I assume he’s swamp-based, as well?). Does it extend to other characters?

“And it sounds like it includes things like cameo appearances and mentions by other characters. I guess I’m wondering: what are the rules completists use to define the boundaries of their collections?

“No disrespect intended. I’m not a completist of any character, but I do buy multiples of comics I like so I can keep one ‘nice.’ I think all comic collectors have their own ways of collecting, and I’d like to know more about yours.”

Now, longtime ProgRuin reader John Lancaster had his own lengthy response, which I suggest you all read (since I’ve plugged enough quoted material from the comments into this post). I’ll try to answer Thom’s queries best I can, though I doubt my own notorious predilection for excessive typing can match Mr. Lancaster’s prodigious efforts.

First off, completism is a common trait among comic book collectors, even above and beyond the the standard “get every issue of the series” that’s pretty much built into the DNA of the hobby, what with things having issue numbers an’ all. (OF course, in recent years, with many long-running titles having their chains broken by reboots and relaunches, that sort of collection has become less prominent, or at least concerned with gathering every issue of a specific series while eschewing other iterations of the same title.

The “theme” collectors, the ones who want every appearance of a character, or every comic by a certain artist or writer…I’ve encountered many of those over the years, too. The fella who wanted every appearance of Taskmaster. That one guy who wanted to own every comic drawn by John Byrne. There can even be folks looking for things like “every comic where a superhero fights one of the traditional movie monsters, like Dracula or the Wolfman.” Former coworker Rob used to collect Archie comics that featured bowling on the cover. Pal Cully used to get every appearance of the Hulk. Right now I have a customer who wants every appearnce of Iron Fist and that ol’ master of kung-fu Shang-Chi.

So no, it’s not really uncommon. People collect lots of different things for different reasons, and, you know, whatever floats their respective boats. If it makes you happy, what the hell…go for it.

Now for me personally…after coming across Swamp Thing for the first time in the early ’80s, via found copies in a second-hand book shop as well as that proto-Nickelodeon TV show Video Comics. For whatever reason, the character appealed, and I spent a lot of time gathering Swampy appearances, both in his own title and otherwise. Plus, a brand new series, Saga of the Swamp Thing, started around the same time to tie in to what could only be the blockbluster success of that first film, so I had new stories to collect, too!

One of the things that helped was that there were a limited number of Swamp Thing appearancs in comics. Outside of his own initial series, which only ran 24 issues (despite Overstreet mistakenly listing a 25th issue for a few years, which was a little annoying), a couple team-ups with Batman in Brave and the Bold, one in DC Comics Presents, that weird run in Challengers of the Unknown, a cameo in Super Friends, and probably a couple others I’m missing.

One of the first signs this wasn’t just going to be an ordinary collection for me was that I sought out the reprints, too. I mean, sure, a couple of them had brand new covers by Berni(e) Wrightson, but the others didn’t, and besides, they were reprinting stories I already had (or was about to have, once I found those original issues for my collection). So, already, I was on my “every iteration of Swamp Thing” kick.

Eventually I got my copy of House of Secrets #92…I had it in reprint form, of course, but didn’t have my own original one ’til I actually started working at the comic shop in the late ’80s. It was…the worst copy, apparently used as a coaster for a can of shellac, but I had one! Some years later, I managed to trade up for another copy of #92, a much nicer one, sold to us by Jan, a longtime friend of the shop. …As far as I can recall, those were the only two copies that the shop ever saw during my tenure there.

(QUICK ASIDE: Former boss Ralph used to tell the story of going through some dealer’s quarter boxes at a convention he was working at sometime in the late ’70s. He went through most of the boxes, not finding much, stopping before he finished going through them. A day or two later, when the con was about to wrap up, Ralph gave those same boxes one last shot…and in the back part of the last box, there was a copy of House of Secrets #92, which had apparently eluded congoers the rest of the weekend.)

As to the topic of being a completist to the point of cameo appearances and such…well, yeah, sure, I do my best. I noted on this site years ago that I was picking up variants on Brightest Day because both covers featured Swamp Thing…even getting a variant Justice League comic because of a cover word balloon mentioning Swampy. So, yes, I was buying comics for even the barest Swamp Thing connections.

However, I made an exception not too long ago. I even made a big ol’ post about it, where I decided I wasn’t going to buy every single Convergence tie-in comic with that one tiny image of Swamp Thing with a woman who was sometimes Abby Arcane, sometimes not. Ever since then…well, I’ve still been picking up Swamp appearances in comics when they occur, as generally they tend to be a bit more substatial than those Convergence ones. Also, due to DC’s multi-cover publishing scheme, I’ve been known to pick up two copies of Justice League Dark because each cover had Swamp Thing on it.

Oh, wait, I thought of another exception…there was an issue of Wonder Woman some time ago which had a 1/100 ratio variant that I didn’t get. One, I wasn’t ordering a hundred copies of Wonder Woman, and wasn’t about to bump my orders just to get my mitts on it. Two, it was crazy expensive on eBay at the time, though to be fair I haven’t checked lately, and 3) as I recall the picture of Swamp Thing was pretty off-model anyway, so I felt no particular rush to acquire it.

So, as of right now, I will still get all comics featuring Swamp Thing as I notice them, though some of the more obscure ones (like dialogue mentions or tiny one-panel cameos or whatever) may slip past me. However, I’m pretty good about picking up everything that has Swamp Thing in an active role or even just decor, I guess (like that one Guy Gardner comic by Howard Chaykin). My limit is probably too much duplicated content all at once, like that Convergence thing I mentioned.

How I eventually ended up getting in Marvel’s own muck-monster, Man-Thing…well, I don’t really recall. I probably just thought “huh, another swamp monster, I’ll check it out” and that was that. I was something of a completist on Man-Thing as well, picking up all his early appearances, though I didn’t try to maintain a collection of all newer appearances. I picked some up here and there, as they caught my eye, but I wasn’t grabbing everything like I was with Swamp Thing.

This weird swamp monster thing does get me to pick up other related titles…I have all those nice hardcovers reprinting The Heap, the original muck-encrusted comic character. And there have been other instances, too, like maybe if a swamp monster popped up in House of Mystery or some other horror anthology title. Man, I don’t get it either. I don’t think I’ve ever even been to a swamp.

Like I said above, there weren’t a lot of Swamp Thing appearances to start with. It was like that for a while, especially during that time when Swamp Thing was under DC’s Vertigo imprint, which restricted the character from appearing in the regular line (though he occasionally would sneak by, like his hand in that one issue of Infnite Crisis). Once Brightest Day brought him back to the regular DCU, the floodgates opened and…well, I don’t have it as bad as the poor bastard who’s trying to collect every Batman appearance, but still, it keeps me on my toes.

There’s probably more detail I could go into, but that’s enough for now. I’ll try to touch on this topic again if any more thoughts come to mind…like parodies and homages, which just occurred to me. Oh, and foreign editions. SIGH…look, I gotta get to sleep sometime, so I’ll talk about those soon enough. Thanks for reading, pals, and we’ll be back at it on Wednesday.

Maybe someday Tarot Witch of the Black Rose will do one of these covers.

§ September 13th, 2019 § Filed under archie, swamp thing § 4 Comments

So this was pointed out on the Twitters and lo, I did search lo and high to find my own copy and now, here it is:


It is one of those Retailer Exclusive variant covers (not offered through Diamond) for Archie Vs. Predator II #1, Pretty neat, right? There’s also a “virgin” variant without the logos and text, but I passed since the mimicking of the original House of Secrets down to the trade dress is half the fun.

Anyway, only 300 of these made (plus another 300 for the virgin variants) so grab it while you can if you want it.

Another House of Secrets #92 tribute is coming later this month from Vault Comics, with Cover B of their new series The Plot:


So, look, I’m not only buying assorted reprints of House of Secrets #92, now I’m collecting comics that look like it. This seems perfectly rational to me.

“It’s Superman’s Fist o’clock.”

§ September 11th, 2019 § Filed under merchandise § 2 Comments

So the other day I had a gentlemen bring in this item to see if I’d like to sell it on consignment. I was kinda busy at that moment but I said I’d do some research and see what they were selling for online.

As it turns out, they weren’t selling at high enough prices for his liking (around $60 to $80) so he passed, but I still have these photos I took for reference:


This is one of the Super Heroes watches you used to see advertised all the time in 1970s comic books. This particular example, a Superman watch, is dated 1977.

Here’s a better look at the watch face:


This is actually the first one of these I’d ever seen in person…well, okay, maybe I saw someone wearing one at some point and didn’t realize it, but this is definitely the first time I’d seen one in the original packaging. Kind of a strange feeling to see the actual physical object that I’d seen advertised countless times in all the comics I’ve read. Nice to know there’s still weird stuff I’ve not seen yet even after 31 years in the business.

SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET! …Oh, wait, it’s me.

§ September 9th, 2019 § Filed under watchmen § 6 Comments

[SPOILERS for Watchmen ahead, if anyone needs to be warned still]

So I spent some quality Twitter time on Sunday botching an observation I had about Watchmen. Basically, what I said was that, as a counterpoint to the idea that Dr. Manhattan was the only superpowered being in the Watchmen universe, there was also that island full of psychics, also gifted with supernatural powers that don’t exist in the real world.

Couple things wrong with that. One thankfully dawned on me all by my lonesome without someone having to come in and say “DUH MIKE YOU SO STUPID.” No, not thing about psychic powers being fake, that’s totally true, but the bit of business about “island full of psychics.” It’s an island of artists recruited by Adrian “Ozymandias” Veidt to generate horrible images that the “alien” brain would be prgrammed with, and then transmit upon teleportation to its destination, adding mental trauma to the physical destruction.

Wait a second, gonna add a spoiler warning to the beginning of the post here in case anyone still hasn’t read Watchmen.

Okay, done. Anyway, that’s the deal. I tried to amend my original statement by saying brains of psychics were cloned or whatever to make the alien brain, and one of my oldest internet pals, Mr. Dan Kelly, reminded me that it was just one psychic used in the alien brainn production. Specifically, a “human sensitive,” to use the actual phrase that Veidt initially uses. Basically the same thing, since the purpose is to send out a “psychic shockwave [to kill] half the city.”

My intent, to demonstrate that Dr. Manhattan was not the only superpowered being on Earth in this fictional universe, was correct. Just the details were wrong, and to what degree of “psychics” were implied to exist. Though Veidt does reference in issue #12 (or Chapter 12) that the event will affect other sensitives for years to come, but as will be shown in a moment, he may not be the most reliable source of information. LOOK, I’M GIVING MYSELF HALF CREDIT, SO THERE.

But then there’s something I haven’t considered. Twitter pal Bob Clark had some comments about Watchmen, and the character of Adrian Veidt specifically, to which I hadn’t paid enough attention. That Veidt himself, with all his grand schemes and plans and such, his controlled manner and his poise, is just totally off his chump. Bob notes that we’re so used to Rorschach being, quote/unquote, “the crazy one,” that we overlook the fact that Ozymandias is even more so. Ultimately, as Bob says, there might not be any “psychics” at all, just Veidt, in his unbalanced state, thinking he has access to a psychic brain, to go along with all the other improbable plans he’s made.

In the text, it’s left vague enough as to whether any “psychic shockwave” actually occurred. The death total is three million, but perhaps that was caused by the very act of the teleportation event itself. On Veidt’s wall o’monitors, we hear refernces to “the insane” (which, you know, who wouldn’t be knocked off kilter by a giant freaking alien suddenly appearing in town), and about a “pregnant woman convinced her unborn child was eating her” (again, losing one’s cool in reaction to an out-there event like this wouldn’t be surprising). Anyway, just trying to say, Bob could be right, maybe Veidt just believed psychics were a thing, and the actual physical element of this plan was enough to cause the mental trauma being reported.

Or maybe psychics are a thing here, because comic books. I mean, not trying to be a debunker or anything, just found Bob’s interpretation interesting and worth considering, particularly in the context of what this says about Veidt’s own state of mind.

There’s also the point made in the story (again, by Veidt, so take it as you will) that the psychic’s brain that was used for the “alien” was made “bigger and more powerful” by his science guys, so who knows what they did to it to make it generate the effect (not necessarily psychic, but perhaps something sufficiently physically disrupting to nearby brains) that could injure or kill. Again, despite the real world trappings of the series, it’s still a comic book, and the ol’ “comic book science” card is in play here.

Thanks, Bob, for the interesting thoughts on Watchmen. Always glad to see it can still stir up conversation after all this time!

By the way, the psychic’s name is given as “Robert Deschains,” in case you need it for your next trivia contest.

• • •

What brought all this on was commenter Randal observing

“Wait…that was a year before…did…did Watchmen copy Squadron?!?”

And yes, there are some similarities, particularly in the short-version high-concept description of “what if SUPERHEROES were REAL!?!?” But these are definitely two different entities, with varying agendas and executions, and I’m pretty sure Watchmen was being developed without any knowledge of Squadrons Surpreme‘s existence. If anything, I’d say Alan Moore took more inspiration from the political/social implications of his own Marvelman stories, not to mention the novel Super Folks.

Plus, let’s not forget that the idea of “superheroes in the real world” was an idea that had been floating around in comics for a while, not just the idea of what the very existence of superheroes do to the world around them, but simply “what would an actual real life superhero be like?” Not nearly to the extent of Squadron Surpreme or Watchmen, of course, but it was there. Superheroes tackling issues beyond, say, punching Kanjar Ro in the nose for the 80th time…pretty much the entire Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow was this very thing, talking on drugs, overpopulation, pollution, etc.

The shared Marvel Universe was founded on a version of this, with heroes existing in real cities (primarily New York) instead of invented places like Metropolis or Gotham City. Even little things like Peter Parker catching a cold but still having to go out and fight crime as Spider-Man, or worrying about money, or worrying about how superheroing is impacting his normal life…all humanizing problems presented in a superhero context that directly address the issue of “what would doing this sort of thing actually do to someone’s life?”

A long time ago, on this very site, I noted that the very act of putting actual human beings into the costumes and acting out the stories made the 1960s Batman TV show just as much as deconstruction of the genre as anything Watchmen did.

And even further back…that Wikipedia lnk to Super Folks mentions Moore admitting inspiration from the Mad Magazine parody “Superduperman,” itself a relatively savage demolishing of superhero tropes. And there’s the issue of All-Star Comics where the Justice Society of America addresses the topic of disabled veterans.

And, look, there are countless other examples and I can probably spend all day typing them in here. But the point is…as a medium for expression, of course comics, even superhero comics, are going to try to make their stories more relevant and relatable to real world issues. Sure, having two 12-part “maxi-series” at around the same time dealing with the same sort of thing, kinda sorta, was unusual timing, but more coincidental than anything else. Just sort of the natural outcome of what had come before. Both series were above and beyond what we’d seen in the past, of course, but not entirely without antecedent.

Maybe if the Champions showed up in the Life of Pope John Paul comic.

§ September 6th, 2019 § Filed under all star batman, marvel, retailing § 7 Comments

So Marvel’s been teasing an upcoming series/event/thingie that involves a murder, prompting folks to draw comparisons to DC’s recently concluded murder mystery even comic Heroes in Crisis. Which, you know, fair enough…there’s no shortage of times Marvel’s copied something successful of DC’s, and DC’s copied something successful of Marvel’s. I’d just mentioned Marvel Comics #1000 a few days ago as a very recent example.

This time around, the general assumption seems to be that Marvel is biting DC’s recently concluded mini-series Heroes in Crisis, which also centered around a superhero-related murder mystery. I saw the reaction online from here and there wondering why Marvel “didn’t learn from DC’s mistake,” why they would model one of their own projects on something their competitors did that was “bad” and a “disgrace” or whatnot.

The answer, of course, was that Heroes in Crisis, despite what anyone may have thought of it online, despite what perhaps you thought of it…it still did very well. Sold well enough for individual issues to go into multiple printings to meet demand. And just from personal experience, many of my customers were really into it and greatly anticipated each succeeding issue. It had a base of readers who did like it quite a bit.

Despite online grousing, was well received by the comic buying public. Of course other companies would take inspiration from it. It has nothing to do with how good or bad you might think the actual story is — and personally, I thought it was 5 pounds of story in a 30-pound bag, with good intentions but questionable results — it made money, which is the most important metric for publishers.

Reminds me a bit of that classic Batman comic book series y’all liked so much, All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, nearly every issue receiving an enormous amount of derision online. And yes, and I even said this at the time, as I recall, at least at our store it was one of the highest-selling, if not the highest selling comic for that period. Outsold X-Men, the other Batman titles, Amazing Spider-Man, several others…lots of people hating on it online, but someone was buying it. And it wasn’t all bloggers picking up copies to scan and mock on their sites.

Anyway, if you find yourself wondering why a publisher puts out this comic or that comic, or why they’d emulate someething their competitor did that you didn’t care for…it’s all about the…Washingtons? Lincolns? I don’t know your youth slang of today. But you get what I mean.

It did get me thinking a bit about different publishers mimicking the sales strategies of others. Especially after reading this week’s new issue of Doomsday Clock — only one issue to go, where hopefully the previous 11 issues of set-ups and mysteries will get resolved in a normal-sized comic and not an 80-giant giant like it seems it will require.

But despite that, what I was thinking was what Marvel-published work that had previous been standalone, but also highly regarded, would be the equivalent of DC’s ,cite>Watchmen? And, would also be highly inappropriate to mix Marvel’s modern superhero universe with it. Most of the things I was thinking of were either under the Epic imprint and not technically owned by Marvel…like an Avengers/Moonshadow crossover or something…or like The ‘Nam, but that had a Punisher appearance of all things, so I guess that was kinda done.

Marvels doesn’t really count, because that’s just the regular Marvel Universe, told with a then-fresh viewpoint and art style. Unless Marvel took a month to have all their titles transform their contents into Marvels-a-likes. We did have Marvel’s anniversary celebration of that series with tribute variant covers, so we got kind of a taste of that, with mixed results.

So anyway, if you think of a good one, let me know.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned the giant stack of Amazing Spider-Man #129s we used to have, too.

§ September 4th, 2019 § Filed under batman, retailing § 3 Comments


Used to be I’d see these on a pretty regular basis at the former place of employment…copies of Batman #181 from 1966, featuring the first appearance of Poison Ivy, used to stack up on us. They were plentiful, they were not terribly expensive (particularly in the conditions they were usually found), and generally had copies available for anyone who happened by and asked for one.

Which is why I was a tad surprised when, after I received the copy pictured above in a collection, sold it within literally a minute after posting it to the store Instagram account. But then, the time of Batman #181s aplenty that I was reminiscing about above was sometime in the early to mid 1990s. The comic was only about 30 years old then. It’s closer to a fifty year old comic now.

Age, of course, isn’t the sole attribute determining a comic book’s demand and/or value, as anyone who’s had to respond to the assertion “it’s old, it has to be worth something” knows. But age can impact availability…the more time passes, the more older comics like these get absorbed into collections, or outright destroyed. Particularly nowadays, with the new influx of collectors seeking “key” issues, items with significant importance to the hobby (like, say, the first appearance of o villain for a major superhero character) are snapped up in short order, particularly if they’re “raw” (i.e. not already slabbed in those plastic cases with an “official” condition grade) and reasonably priced (as my copy here was, in my humble opinion).

Not to say they’re hard to find, which I realize I have been saying. You probably can’t swing a dead Catwoman around on the eBays without hitting a half-dozen or more of Batman #181s, sealed up in those cases and premium-priced. But the days of finding stacks of them, unslabbed, like at my old job back in ye olden tymes, are, if not gone entirely, at least far less common than they used to be.

That’s a lot of typing just to say “tempus fugit,” but fugit tempus does, and with me entering my 31st year of comics retail this month, I just got to thinking about how things have changed in this business. I mean, not big things, like “there’s only one distributor now” and “remember when comics used to sell” but minor shifts in collecting habits and back issue supply, like I was saying in all that stuff up there.

As opposed to the 50-something smart-ass I am now.

§ September 2nd, 2019 § Filed under comic strips, death of superman § 2 Comments

Okay, look, we gotta talk about the biggest comic news of the week — nay, the century — and that news is the B.C. comic strip is finally going to have proper names for their female characters. You know, the ones named “Cute Chick” and “Fat Broad.” I mean, even the ants had names in this strip, but not the two human ladies? Good gravy.

It is so about time. The strip’s only been running since, what, sometime in the 1800s, attitudes about women have changed slightly since then. And don’t get me wrong…I’m glad it’s happening, as I’ve always had a soft spot for B.C. thanks to all the paperback reprints I read in the 1970s. I think a lot of it still holds up, despite…you know, the whole “changing attitudes” thing, with some jokes not aging as well as others. But overall, I think it’s a fun strip. Okay, maybe things got a little dicey during the “Born Again” phase of the strip, but when I last checked in and read a bunch of recent strips in a row, it held up as pleasantly humorous enough. Not quite as bonkers as it was in the early days, but still a respectable strip.

The small catch here is that the names still come across as gendered appearance-driven jokes, with “Cute Chick” now “Grace” (as in “graceful”) and “Fat Broad” is now “Jane” (as in “Plain Jane”). Intentional? Maybe, maybe not, but regardless it’s still some improvement, in that they actually have goldurned names now. I will admit to a good laugh at Jane’s “quote” in the news item linked above.

Said news item also mentions a B.C. movie is being worked on, which I’d bet your yearly salary is the main reason for this renaming happening now.

• • •

Say, remember that one time I wrote about the “Death of Superman?” A couple of you had comments that I wanted to address:

  • JohnJ has this to say:

    “How many people did you have to correct when they asked for ‘the last Superman comic?'”

    I’m sure I wrote about this before on the site, but since coworker Rob and I were unapologetic 20-something smart-asses, we created a window display for the day of its release featuring all the previous “Superman Dies!” stories we could find.

    Not sure it had much effect, as we still fielded plenty of “he’s really dead!?” comments from the mile-long parade of customers passing through the shop. I tried to reassure some folks that they’ll likely bring him back sooner rather than later, they’re not going to get rid of one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, but I’m sure eventually I got worn down to “yeah, he’s totally dead now.”

    But we did try to let everyone know that there were still more Superman comics to come, and as it turned out, lots of folks got hooked on the story, which even carried through to the beginnings of the “Return of Superman” story. That was surprising because there was a two month hiatus in publishing the regular Superman comics after the “Death/Funeral” story was completed, which nowadays would be a huge brick wall in front of any sales momentum.

    And as you all recall, for decades afterward I’d have people pop into the shop, see a Superman comic on the shelf, and ask in a half-confused fashion “…I thought he was dead?” So kudos on that all-too successful publishing event that convinced a large portion of the public that your flagship character was no longer around. In a way, people asking for “The Last Superman Comic” were, from a certain point of view, right.

  • Follow-ups? Adam had ’em:

    “I am here to tell you that the sound effects are indeed props for the dolls.”

    UM, EXCUSE ME ADAM, BUT THEY ARE COLLECTIBLE ACTION FIGURES, NOT “DOLLS,” SIR. …Aside from that most egregious of errors, Adam does helpfully link to this video review of the set where, as God intended, the sound effects are part of the accessories. Oh that I’ve lived to see such sights.

  • Turan, he ran so far away, with this:

    “I am not going to bother counting, but I would not be surprised if there have been more worrying at the death of Gwen Stacy than the death of Superman. The death of Bucky Barnes, also, but that was not actually a “big comic book event” (it occurred in a flashback).”

    You ain’t wrong, my friend…the Death of Gwen Stacy cast a long shadow over Spider-Man, and has been revisited again and again. I’ve been trying to think of other examples…not just redos of old adventures, like when they did the whole Superman Red/Superman Blue story in the ’90s, inspired by the ’60s original. I mean, as Turan put so well, just constant “worrying” as a long-ago event that keeps bring brought up or impacting new stories or being retold or expaned upon over and over. Like, no one’s bringing up Millennium or Secret Invasion any more (I think…I’m way behind on current comics still) but boy we sure do dip into that “Death of Superman” well again and again.

    So…any ideas? Any other Big Events or Plot Occurrences from many years in the past that just keep coming back to haunt us? I mean, aside from Crisis on Infinite Earths…like I said last time, pretty much the Current State of the Superhero Comics Industy is a callback to that one.

  • James dared to say

    “The moment they announce The Death of Swamp Thing, I am leaving the internet for a five month vacation in Very Northern Canada where they have no internet nor (allegedly) swamps.”

    Pretty sure I mentioned this not long ago, but when Alan Moore’s first issue of Swamp Thing came out, where our Swampy hero was shot through the head and felled at the end of the issue (um, SPOILER), teenaged me was all “they…they just blew out Alec Holland’s brain? HOW’RE THEY GETTIN’ OUT OF THIS ONE?” So I had my “Death of Swamp Thing” moment, despite only having to wait a month for my “Return of Swamp Thing” storyline. And not nearly as many replacement Swamp Things. Those would come later.

Death of who now?

§ August 30th, 2019 § Filed under death of superman § 4 Comments

So J. Caleb sez on the Twitters, he sez


And yeah, ain’t that the truth, and if you don’t believe it, make with the clicky on that “death of superman” category link at the top of this post here. Longtime readers, and even shorttime readers, know I’ve been yapping about this stupid thing almost since Day One on this site, and just like clockwork, if said clock runs a little slow and the alarm is kinda sad and distorted, I’m back on my blogging nonsense about it every few months or so. I won’t say it’s me working out the trauma of having been behind the counter of a comic shop at the time of the original release of that DoS funnybook, purt’near 30 years ago, but it did something to my brain.

Anyway, there it is. And the reason I’m bringing it up yet again for you to read is, no, not because you lost a bet, but because there’s more Death of Superman stuff a’comin’. Yes, I said new stuff. How many big, specific comic book events can you name that have just kept on keepin’ on, with comic creators going back to that same well again and again for story inspiration, references, remakes, what have you? The Dark Phoenix Saga, maybe? For a while it felt like they were picking at that scab in every issue of X-Men, back when there was only one X-Men title. Infinity Gauntlet, to some extent? I suppose Crisis on Infinite Earths, in a way, as pretty much everything going on at DC now stems from dealing with how Crisis and creators responding to Crisis made things even more complicated, with more and more Big Events piled on that original one as “fixes.”

I mean, whatever, people build on what’s come before in these shared superhero universes. But the “Death of Superman” goose has continued to supply golden eggs of varying value in the nearly three decades since someone at the Superman plotting retreat finally got that “yes!” to their regular suggestion to off Big Blue.

One thing I discovered quite by accident was The Death of Superman: The Wake, a trade paperbck solicited in the August orders:


I was just browsing the digital comics on the DC Universe streaming service when I spotted Chapter One of this story, which it turns out was a 12-page digital-only mini-series. Well, digital-only until they were all collected in this paperback. It relates “what happened before, during and after the battle with Doomsday that cost Superman his life!” the solicit info says. From what I read of that first chapter, it looks like events may be tweaked slightly to match current (or semi-current) continuity. Those of you holding out hope that the Lex-Luthor-disguised-as-his-own-Australian-son storyline will hold true may find themselves disappointed.

Now here’s the title J. Caleb singled out in his post:


Speaking of comic stories that go back to a specific well, that DC Metal series is the gift that just keeps on giving, what with featuring the Dark Multiverse and all. Specifically, this story goes into how the Death went down on Evil Earth or whatever they’re calling it. I’m guessing “a lot more shadows,” but we’ll see.

And then of course what kid doesn’t want to play with the more cheery superhero action figure playset of all time:


Unclear if those sound effects are extra little props that come with the figures. In a good and just world, they would.

This of course isn’t the first action figure set commemorating the Superman/Doomsday battle, but, with doing no research into the matter whatsoever, it may very well be the first set with an alternate Dead Superman head:


…or maybe he’s just sleeping, they’re your figures, play with them how you’d like. That’s kind of what he was doing in the first place. …Oh, SPOILERS, by the way.

You do have a Swamp Thing collection, right? RIGHT?

§ August 27th, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, this week's comics § 9 Comments


The only comic of note to be released this week is, of course, the House of Secrets #92 Facsimile Edition, reprinting the first appearance of the story “It’s Better to Give” illustrated by Alan Weiss and Tony DeZuniga, and written by Mary Skrenes under the pen name of “Virgil North.” Oh, the first Swamp Thing story is in it, too.

Anyway, someday I need to update this list I made in 2006 (eep) of all the reprints of House of Secrets #92 that I own, as I’ve picked up a few since then (including the very one pictured above). I laugh, laugh I tell you, at the concluding thought in that long-ago blog post that a mere eight copies of this issue were enough. Such is the folly of youth.

Also please note this reprint does contain the updated coloring for Swamp Thing’s eyes, making them the dark red we’re accustomed to, versus the whitish eyes of the original printing. A dealbreaker for some, I know.

Aside from that hideously untenable change, this is a nice looking reissue of this classic comic. Like Marvel’s line of facsimiles, it contains all the stories and ads and letter columns and other editorial content of the original, but on slightly better paper and with a UPC code and new improved pricing on the front cover. If you can’t get your hands on the original, or one of the dozen of more other reprints like someone you may know who’s been writing a blog for over fifteen years has, this will make a nice addition to your Swamp Thing collection.

DC borrows from Marvel, so does Marvel borrow from DC, and so has it always been and always shall be. And as what usually happens, one company sees another have a success with something, whoever’s in charge has their eyeballs pop out of their heads with little dollar signs forming at the end, and suddenly Company B is doing exactly what Company A did. And in this case, it’s the “#1000” issues DC recently published to great success for Action Comics and Detective Comics, both of which made it to that lofty peak one issue at a time, once a month (or eight times a year, or biweekly, or, hell, even weekly for a while) since their beginnings in the late 1930s.

Now Marvel doesn’t have anything really close to that at the moment…well, some things are approaching that number, but not for a while yet, and anyway Marvel’s still sticking to hiding the actual overall issue number to a series beneath their favored low issue number stemming from whatever was the most recent relaunch. Like, this week’s Amazing Spider-Man has a big ol’ “29” as its primary issue number, but beneath in smaller print it has “829,” indicating that this is in fact the 829thh issue in the series that began with that #1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko so long ago.

Now frankly I wish they’d just pick a number and stick to it…when Marvel briefly went back to “original” (or approximate, anyway) numbering on a bunch of their titles for their “Marvel Legacy” effort, that actually seemed to goose sales a little, particularly on some of the second-string titles that could have used the sales help. Don’t know if was just a coincidence, or if customers had a little more confidence that maybe there’d be some consistency to what they’re following, and it wouldn’t be relaunched soon with a new #1 just because it’s a Brand New Creative Team or something.

Marvel Comics #1000, I believe the conceit is, is based on the idea that if the original Marvel Comics #1 from 1939 (the one with the first appearance of the Human Torch) had continued publishing, it’d be at about #1000 right now. Or maybe that’s just my interpretation of things, and besides we all know Marvel would have relaunched it with a new #1 a dozen times by now, lest they unleash the curse or whatever.

The cover I have pictured here (shameless stolen from one of the many, many eBay listings since 1) I didn’t scan the copy I got at the shop, and 2) Diamond has no image of it on their retailer site) is the “Rare” One Per Store variant, showing what I think might be the first official comic book (well, comic book cover) crossover between Marvel characters and the hometeam characters of their Disney masters. I don’t know for sure, since Marvel ain’t shy about cranking out variants and I’m sure I haven’t seen them all.

And boy oh boy I was sorely tempted. I actually like that image, quite a bit, and it’s not like I haven’t used the ol’ executive privilege to keep a variant for myself, but…well, I mentioned the eBays earlier, and this was a pretty might total on my invoice this week, so I think I’ll give it up for the sake of the bottom line rather than my collection. OH THE SACRIFICES I MAKE.

Oh, hey, big ol’ article on Dreadstar. I do loves me the Dreadstar. Let me just add this to the previous issues of Back Issue with content I want to read but still haven’t yet because of my ongoing eye issues. I’m sure it’ll make me wish Dreadstar was still a thing again, but that’s the risk I’ll just have to take.

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