mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Stealth of 2006. 

Snakes on a Plane.

Snakes on a Plane.


"On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who's a witness in protective custody, lets loose a crate full of deadly snakes."

Starring Samuel L. Jackson.


Snakes on a Plane fever - catch it.

Before I talk about anything else, I want to plug Scott Saavedra's
generous incentives for donating to the Red Cross. Donate a certain amount of money, forward the e-mail receipt to Mr. Saavedra, get free comics! Read this post for details.

Okay, let's look at this panel from yesterday's post again:

First, what kind of a fascist device is a "guilt detector," anyway? And how exacting is it? They were looking for someone guilty of treason, but what if Matter-Eater Lad was feeling guilty about, oh, I don't know, polishing off that last box of Cheez-Its and not leaving any for the other Legionnaires?

Second, for those of you unfamiliar with the Legion, that person sorta lamely pointing at Matter-Eater Lad is Cosmic Boy, the Legionnaire with the power of super-magnetism. M-E Lad is eating metal bars. Why Cosmic Boy didn't use his powers to wrap the metal bars around M-E Lad (which he was perfectly capable of doing) is beyond me. Or Cosmic Boy could have just tackled him...he was what, two feet away?

Third, trying to expose a criminal's guilt right next to something explicitly called an "escape corridor" just seems to be asking for trouble.

So remember last week, when I said I was resisting buying Ed the Happy Clown since I already have the story in two other formats?

Well, this week I picked up The Secret of the Swamp Thing, the digest...excuse me, manga-sized reprinting of the original ten issues by Len Wein and Berni(e) Wrightson.

Those are stories I already have as the following:

1. The original 1970s comics

2. The four issues (#2, #14, #17, #20) of DC Special Series from the late '70s, reprinting those same issues

3. Swamp Thing: Dark Genesis, a trade paperback reprinting this issues

I also have the '80s Tor Books black and white paperback, reprinting the first three issues.

Sad, really. Hopefully they won't do an Archive edition, or one of those black and white Showcase books (though the latter format may be the only way we'll ever see those post-Wrightson Swamp Things in print ever again).

Thursday, September 08, 2005

So on Wednesday,
pal Dorian, Kid Chris, and I were discussing the classic Legion of Super-Heroes member Matter-Eater Lad, and three points came up:

1. Why did the Legion takes on M-E Lad as a member, while passing up heroes with useful powers like, say, Polar Boy?

2. Could M-E Lad eat energy? If not, would his ability to eat light be final proof that light is a particle, and not a wave? (NOTE: I'm no physicist.)

3. Dorian wondered if and when the "realistic" version of M-E Lad shows up in Mark Waid's current Legion series, if, like a fly, he'd vomit up his stomach acids onto whatever he wants to eat, then suck the remains into his body. Hoo boy.

Anyway, the motion was carried that Matter-Eater Lad is indeed a swell Legionnaire, despite the silly name and the sillier power.

And, just because Dorian didn't think I'd be able to do it, here's a mighty pile o'links on this sadly-underrated superhero:

Brush up on your knowledge of Matter-Eater Lad's origin, powers, and history with this extensive overview.

Lucid Kid looks at the Ms in DC's Who's Who series, kicking off with M-E Lad.

Here's a sketch of M-E Lad in action by Jeff Moy.

A page just for Matter-Eater Lad Micro-heroes.

Guess who's on Captain Comics' list of Silly Super Names?

The Matter-Eater Blog comes to Matter-Eater Lad's defense.

Matter-Eater Lad shows up on this page of custom Pocket Heroes (2nd and 3rd from the bottom).

Full-sized custom figures can be found here and here (near bottom of page).

Mike Grell: "Least favorite [to illustrate] was Matter-Eater Lad, just because his power was every bit as stupid as his name."

Lyrics and chords for Guided by Voices' song "Matter-Eater Lad."

The many faces of Tenzil Kem - M-E Lad as illustrated by Legion's army of artists.

He, or, rather, "she" shows up as "Matter-Eater Lass" on this page of transgendered heroes.

Number 51 on this page is a custom Heroclix of M-E lad.

Mattereaterlad.com is a weblog/pictures-log that has nothing to do with comics.

The name of this painting is "Matter-Eater Lad," but also has nothing to do with the character.

Second entry down on this page features "Great Matter-Eater Lad moments."

Completely random M-E Lad reference in this interview with writer Jordan Ellenberg.

Funny when people bring up Matter-Eater Lad in a discussion (like here and here), they feel the need to emphasize that they didn't make him up. (Points to the person at the second link, who's championing Arm-Fall-Off Boy.)

For those of you playing the Champions superhero role-playing game, here are the stats.

This person would like to see Olympic swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg as M-E Lad in a theoretical Legion of Super-Heroes movie.

The all M-E Lad ish of Legion of Super-Heroes.

Legion fan art, including you-know-who.

A math/logic puzzle references M-E Lad in an amusing way.

I have reason to believe that these Smallville Season 5 spoilers (including a Matter-Eater Lad appearance) may be less than serious.

Legionnaires matched to popular songs: Matter-Eater Lad? "Eat It."

Keith Giffen: "...Every group should have a Matter-Eater Lad, you know? A character that [makes you wonder], 'Why are you there?'"

You're...Matter-Eater Lad!
You're Tenzil Kem, Matter-Eater Lad!

Which Legionnaire are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Post #1001 - Chapter Six: "Sorry, No More Fan-Fic" 

I was...otherwise occupied yesterday, so I neglected to mention that the latest installment of my "Behind the Counter" column (in which I discuss the eBay at annoying length) is up over at the new Comic Book Galaxy. L@@K! H@T SEXY RARE VARIANT!

Found via...um, well, I found it somewhere on the internet, I just don't know where: SF Weekly interviews the heavy metal musician Thor, and asks him how he would fare in battle not just with other rock and roll legends, but with Marvel Comics' The Mighty Thor as well! (URL may not be safe for work, though the page itself is...well, aside from the title.)

Now all good comic-weblog-reading humans should already be reading the essential Neilalien. But I'm gonna link to him anyway, as one of my favorite things that Neilalien does is his occasional in-depth technical explanations about the way his site works, and how other people can improve their own sites. (For example, I faithfully use the "cite" HTML tag when appropriate, solely due to this post of Mr. Alien's.) The latest example can be found here, where Neilalien discusses the problems of trying to search his site for discussions of the comic book Top Ten as opposed to "top 10 lists," as well as his solution to said problem. Interesting stuff, particularly if you hand-tool your own page.

I stumbled across this the other day, as I was doing some Googling around: an informational document from 2002 on Archie Comics' company and demographics. For a second I thought "wow, I found secret stuff!" -- but no, it's accessible from the main page, though a few menus deep. There are a couple neat things to learn, like that it could cost up to about 12 grand to advertise inside an Archie, or on one of the covers for up to $18,000.

Here are a few choice quotes from that document, describing the Archie brand of comics:

"Major television shows such as Beverly Hills 90210 and Happy Days were modeled on ARCHIE and his pals out of recognition of the success of this property"

"...Interest has been expressed by several organizations to revive the ARCHIES [musical] group"

"The ARCHIE property is hot because of the current resurgence of family values and the desire of parents to find good, wholesome and safe entertainment for their kids"

"An NBC prime-time live action movie of the week showcased ARCHIE and his pals and the movie has been released on video"

"ARCHIE and his pals are a multimedia force which continue to receive untold exposure"

The rest of the document is devoted to brief descriptions of the Archie cast, a history of the company, and a trivia quiz. (No explanation as to what happened to Jughead's cousin Souphead, however.)

So long, Bob.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Post #1000 


"Lo, If This Be A Clash of the Titans!"

"Look out, Aquaman!"

The rubble came crashing down to earth, and Aquaman, hearing Speedball's warning just in the nick of time, was able to dive out of the way.

Far above, the source of the rubble - Hyperion and Superman, flying back and forth across the sky almost faster than the eye could follow, pulverizing the huge chunks of rock hurtling from orbit. But even as fast as they were, some of the meteors were still getting through, still crashing into Metropolis.

"Take my hand, Arthur," said Wonder Woman, helping Aquaman up to his feet. "Superman and his cross-dimensional counterpart are doing their best, but they're only treating the symptoms, not the disease."

"Everyone, listen!" Wonder Woman's shout echoed across the mostly-abandoned Metropolis streets, and the heroes of several parallel dimensions turned their attention to her. "It's clear that sheer force will not win the day! We must join together, in body and in spirit, and take the battle to the source! Who's with me?"

A couple dozen heroes immediately rushed to Wonder Woman's side, eager to assist in whatever way possible, including Kid Flash, the Human Torch, Doctor Solar, Worf, the Green Ranger, Light Lass, Tenspeed and Brownshoe, and many others.

"Those of you who can fly, help those who can't!" commanded Wonder Woman. "Now we must confront whoever is behind this evil...and if we are unable to beat him through force, we shall beat him...through the power of our love!"

"Shame about what happened to Wonder Woman's team," Spider-Man said sadly. The offices of the Daily Planet, usually bustling with busy reporters, was now a makeshift command center in the battle against the unknown forces that threatened the planet.

"There will be time to mourn later," noted Shrinking Violet. "We must think of something to do right now."

"What she said," chimed in Kojak. "Supes and that other guy can only hold out for so long. We're licked if we can't come up with a pl...."

Suddenly a door slammed open, startling everyone. The Black Knight drew his sword. Frodo instinctively pawed for his ring, only to be stopped by Samwise. Jesus reached for his lightsaber.

A figure stood in the doorway, tall with flowing hair, features obscured by shadow.

Firestorm whispered "that...that can't be who I think it is, can it? I thought he was just a myth!"

"Oh, I'm much more than a myth," said the mysterious figure. "I'm also...your only hope."

Meanwhile, at the Batcave....

"CRUD!" shouted Luke Cage. He was pacing back and forth behind Batman, who was hunched over the Bat-computer, furiously searching through database after database.

"Cage," warned Batman, "I need you to be quiet while I concentrate on this."

"Cut me some slack, Bats," came the retort. "We've been stuck in this freakin' cave for hours, with nuthin' for me to do but look at glass cases filled with your kid partners' outfits, while you've been trying to come up with some answers. You can't blame a guy for gettin' frustrated."

"I'm doing the best I can," replied Batman. Suddenly he slammed his fist on the computer console. "You're not the only one getting frustrated," he said quietly.

"Look," said Cage, consolingly, "I know it's been rough on both of us." He placed a strong hand on Batman's shoulder. "You do feel awfully tense. I think you need a massage." Cage started kneading Batman's shoulders, his super-strength easly pressing through Batman's Kevlar cape.

"No, don't, I need my frustration, my tension," protested the Dark Knight. "It fuels my passion in my war on crime."

"There are other kinds of passion," said Cage. He spun Batman's chair around so that they were facing each other. They glared into each other's eyes, neither giving any ground. Suddenly Batman looked away.

"I can't, I mustn't..." Batman whispered. "But...if a man can't feel love, then what are we all fighting for?" He reached up, grabbing Cage by the belt, and pulled him down, their lips close.

"Sweet...Christmas..." murmured Cage.

At the Daily Planet, the heroes gathered in a semi-circle around the doorway, gaping at the figure before them.

"Surely that's not..." stuttered Shadowman.

"He...he's gorgeous!" exclaimed She-Hulk.

"What's going on? Who is it?" asked Daredevil.

Captain America stepped forward, holding his hand out to the mysterious visitor, who grasped it firmly. "This, Daredevil," he said, "is one of the greatest minds of our time. This is Spike Merling, the Smartest Man Alive."

"And the most handsome," interjected the Huntress.

"There's not much time," announced Merling, pushing his long, blonde, and perfectly maintained hair out of his face, his shirt open to the waist to reveal his muscular chest. "Only I can get you all out this mess, but you all must do exactly as I say, without hesitation, without question!"

"Oh, I'll do everything you say," purred Catwoman.

At the Comicsweblog-o-Sphere, the giant golden globe hidden in a secret location, debate raged freely over what action should be taken during Earth's current crisis.

Tom the Dog, tail wagging furiously, insisted that drinking was the answer. The giant stone form of the Brill Building nodded his heavy head in agreement.

Magandh, the hideous two-headed mutant created in a lab accident, simply growled and shook three of its mighty fists in the air.

Polite Scott, the World's Nicest Doctor, looked up from treating Lefty Brown's massive left arm, injured in battle, and entreated his fellow members of the Comicsweblog-o-Sphere to please see reason, see reason!

Suddenly Captain Corey charged into the meeting room. "I found them! The three people who can turn the tide of battle! The only people who are ultimately undefeatable, against whom the forces we battle can stand no chance!"

"Who? Who the !@&$! are these $&*##!ing heroes?" demanded Ringwood.

"I brought them with me," Captain Corey excitedly replied. "And here they are!" Three men entered the room, and flanked the Captain. "It's T.J. Hooker, Captain Kirk, and Denny Crane! Their combined forces will be unstoppable! No villain can stand against us!"

"Wait a minute," interrupted Dave Ex Machina, his metallic voice cutting through the chatter in the meeting room. "A cop, a starship captain, and a lawyer? That's just silly."

"Yeah, you're right" added the extraterrestrial Neilalien. "Why, if this were, I don't know, some kind of story someone was writing, I'd be hard-pressed to believe it."

Captain Corey shook his head. "You guys just don't get it. Even if it were a story, something this cool wouldn't have to make sense!"

Monday, September 05, 2005

So one of my latest projects at the shop has been to go through some of our action figure backstock and unload them on the eBay for rock bottom prices. Making money ain't the point; making room is. But, in my storage area excavation escapades, I hit a vein of Skybolt figures.

"Skybolt figures," you say? "What in Sam Scratch's name are these 'Skybolt' figures you speak of?"

Well, it was a toy company that appeared to specialize in action figures based on female characters from small-press comic book companies. Here, let's enjoy a few.

First up is the Hellina "Light Up Eyes Edition" -


Yeah, I know, but most of the figures from Skybolt tend to look like this. Anyway, the eyes are clear plastic, so they apparently do light up, though there's no way to check this myself since there's no hole in the back of the package to press the button that theoretically should be there. Listed accessories include a detachable cape, a "telekinetic" dagger:

...a "nether-dimensional" whip:

...and a power base:

So those may look like an ordinary dagger, whip, and base, but don't be fooled!


My memory of the Nira X character is that she had about a couple dozen series, each running about one or two issues long, with the publisher throwing #1s onto the market to take advantage of whatever bump in sales a first issue could get, rather than having one ongoing series with increasingly declining sales. She also popped up in Avatar's Threshold anthology series. This figure isn't a bad representation, accurately duplicating Bill Maus' style. I will take issue with the description of that itsy-bitsy gun as a "plasma cannon" on the packaging. I see the word "cannon," I expect a big ol' honkin' cannon, not that little hairdryer. Feh.


Okay, this one isn't from Skybolt, but it's of a kind. Most notable is that the face appears to have been "squished," which may be hard to tell even in the larger scan, but take my word, it just looks peculiar. We also had the "nude" variant (which is not pictured, you naughty, naughty people), where the top comes off to reveal the character's breastular area. The top had actually come loose in the package, which made it a little difficult to display in the store, as if having a package reading "NUDE VARIANT" wasn't embarrassing enough to have on the shelves.


Now, I know we carried comics with Sinthia in them...we've carried darn near everything else, but I swear I can't remember having any Sinthias around. Anyway, this is the "limited edition Gold Sinthia," restricted to only 5,000 pieces, which would surprise me if they came anywhere close to selling this many. And that costume...I'm not sure I'm comfortable with knowing about just how carefully this character shaves. Erg. To be fair, the short excerpt from the comic book that's reprinted on the back of the packaging (common to all these Skybolt figures) did amuse, as Sinthia is apparently the rebellious daughter of Satan his own self, pretty much completely unimpressed by him and giving him the back-sass.

The character also comes with a sword and a scabbard. I always like it when action figures with swords have fitting scabbards as well. Good show, Skybolt.


Speaking of comics with lots of #1s...Double Impact, in its various incarnations, was primarily about breasts and butts and guns. Okay, for some people, that's fine, I'm sure...I'm not saying there isn't an audience for it. But there's also some talk about these two characters, Jazz and China, being a "lethal combat team" of secret agents or something, but really, it's just scantily-clad gals shooting things and posing. God bless America.

These are the special "limited edition of 5,000" Platinum versions of the figures, which means the clothes they're wearing are painted silver. Also, note that the bodies are the same, and only the heads are (barely) different. And yes, they have big guns. (And some weapons, too, har har.)

The back of the package has a sequence from the Hellina/Double Impact crossover, where the three characters decide to team up and take on the bad guy:


"...A threesome he'll never forget." Well said, Jazz and/or China, well said.

Additional linkage:

A few of the Skybolt packages advertise a male figure, based on Valiant Comics' X-O Manowar. While a photo of said figure is on one of the packages, it appears that it was never released (near the bottom of the page).

This site has reviews of the various Double Impact and Hellina figures, in all their hideous glory. ("Heart Ripper Hellina?" How'd I miss that?)

When I told pal Dorian of my plans for this post, he said "say, were you inspired by Dave's Long Box's Boob War?" Well, no, I was mostly inspired by "I'm gonna have to take pictures of all these things for eBay auctions so I might as well use 'em on my site, too," but really, if you haven't been reading his most recent series of great articles, and you want to know what comic shelves looked like in the '90s, go check it out!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Conversations with Kid Chris 

Kid Chris: "So, how many Native American superheroes have there been?"

Me: "Well, there was Super-Chief...."

KC: "Super-Chief? He wasn't really a superhero -- he was more of a western hero."

Me: "Pretty much the same thing in this case, I think."

KC: "Well, how 'bout Jonah Hex? Do you think he's a superhero?"

Me: "Of course he is! He travelled through time!"

KC: "That's not super...that's amazing!"

(Kid Chris and I are talking about a particular person who'll be taking over his job at the store, when KC leaves to school in a couple weeks)

KC: "He should do fine working here...and he likes Marvel a lot."

Me: "That's okay, we should have at least one person here who likes Marvel."

(from a month or so ago; not about comics...or is it?)

Me: "Hey, I have an idea."

KC: "What?"

Me: "I can set up a bunch of lawnchairs in my backya...er, business area, and charge people to sun themselves."

KC: "What?"

Me: "Yeah, it could be like, 'Mike's Sun Salon.' It'd be great. I'll make a fortune charging people to use my property to get a tan."

KC: "Think people will go for it?"

Me: "Of course! Most people are really stupid. They'll pay lots of money to do anything so long as they think it's exclusive. Having a large fence to keep the commoners out will help."

KC: "What if it rains?"

Me: "I bet I can come up with some kind of 'rain is good for the skin' excuse. I can charge people to sit in my backya...er, business area, and get rained on."

KC: "I want to go into business with you."

Me: "I just told you what a crook I am. Why would you trust me enough to go into business with me?"

Okay, Loren (of
Stark Raving Sane and Suspension of Disbelief fame) had a follow-up to my post from yesterday, about Superman arranging for a "mind-wipe" of Batman at the end of the "Emperor Joker" storyline. In Action Comics #784, part of the "Joker: Last Laugh" crossover series, Superman reveals to Batman what he had done (recap: Batman was driven insane by the Joker, Spectre said the memories of the torture couldn't be erased but could be moved, and it looked like Superman had Batman's memory of suffering placed into the Joker). Now, I didn't remember the follow-up story, since I probably only read it once four years ago when it originally came out (and, of course, again for this post), but it implies that Superman did take Batman's memories into himself, even though the original conclusion to "Emperor Joker" would sort of lead you to believe otherwise.

At any rate, where the memories ended up isn't as "important" as the fact that this Superman subplot is paralleled in current DC universe events, a parallel further strengthened by developments in that later Action. Batman gets his mind wiped, he doesn't find out 'til much later, and when he does find out, he gets royally steamed. Of course, the current version of this subplot is taking a lot longer to play out, as opposed to the earlier story which was pretty much wrapped up in that one issue.

On a related note, commenter Bob has a link to a Justice League of America image where the team happily mind-wipes the entire Earth. Wheeee!

Speaking of "Joker: Last Laugh" - what was the point of that storyline, really? What did we get out of it (aside from a cool Brian Bolland cover on the first issue of the series)?

Puzzling phone call of the day, from yesterday:

Person on the phone: "How rare is the Michael Turner Supergirl cover?"

Me: "Um, not rare at all, actually. The covers on Supergirl #1 were published in a 1:1 ratio."

PotP: "Really? I was told that they were 1 in every 4 covers."

Me: "Whoever told you that is probably a crook, and you should spit on him when next you see him."

Okay, I didn't really say that last part, but I'm hoping whoever said that to this person was just remembering incorrectly, and not deliberately trying to deceive this person for whatever reason. It may have seemed like they got less of the Turner cover, since, if other stores had the same sales pattern we did, the Turner cover sold faster, leaving more Churchill covers behind.

Of course, that's not stopping people from selling the Turner cover as a "rare variant" on the eBay. Okay, I didn't spot anyone coming right out and saying it's "rare," but they are inferring it, I think, with auction titles like "SUPERGIRL #1 BOTH REGULAR & MICHAEL TURNER VARIANT." It could just as easily be "BOTH REGULAR & IAN CHURCHILL VARIANT," right? But that probably doesn't get the search results.

EDIT: Taking a cue from a commenter, I pulled out the original solicitation for Supergirl #1, which did indeed list the covers in a 1:4 ratio, even though they ended up coming out in a 1:1 ratio. So the egg is in my face, this time. Ah, well, I suppose I was due for my bi-yearly mistake. Still doesn't excuse some of those sellers on the eBay, though.

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