mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Friday, January 06, 2006

Batman, BWS, Comic Books, and You. 



One of my favorite parts of the '60s Batman was when the Dynamic Duo enlisted poor Alfred to take a more active part in their crime-fighting. Please note that Alfred is wearing his glasses over his mask. Combined with the hat and tie, that's one natty crime fighter...kinda like an older version of this fella.



Comic Book Galaxy has an exclusive preview of Barry Windsor-Smith's long-awaited Thing graphic novel. The preview is a multi-page extravaganza, with art a'plenty (including some heretofore unseen pieces) and several appreciations of BWS and Ben Grimm by such writers as Steve Bissette, Jog, and somehow I managed to sneak one of my own in too. Go, check it out, demand its release.



New comics day:

Astonishing X-Men Saga - Oh, look, it's Marvel Saga, with pasted-up excerpted panels and text summaries. Who is this aimed at, exactly? Most X-fans will already have it, and those who don't would probably just buy the trade paperbacks. For completists, and X-fans who don't look closely at what they're buying, only.

So the new issue of Witchblade (#93) has a great quote on the cover: "Yes, this is an 'A+' comic. It has it all and then some." It has it all...everything you could ever possibly need, it's in each and every issue of Witchblade. I guess I should have bought it, then.

When pal Dorian dropped by the store to pick up his weekly funnybooks, he started poking through the new Teen Titans (#31), and wanted to talk to me about a certain plot point in the story. I said sure, go ahead, which is unusual since I prefer to avoid any spoilers until I go home that evening and read the comic myself. However, when Dor starting laughing at something in the Captain Carrot pages in that same comic, I refused to ask what he was laughing at. I took the spoiler on the main story, avoided the spoiler on the Captain Carrot story...kinda tells me something about how I'm feeling about this comic, I think.

Interiorae by Gabriella Giandelli, from Fantagraphics, features a ghostly rabbit floating through an apartment building, observing and commenting on the lives of the people who live there. It's moody, and spooky, and it's the beginning of an ongoing series, apparently, though it works as a stand-alone graphic novel as well. It's an impressive physical object as well...it's a staplebound magazine, printed on very heavy stock (with a dustjacket!) for $7.95, easily half the price of what it would have been had it been released as a squarebound book, I think. That low price point will make me more likely to follow the series, which is good as this opening has me intrigued.

Looney Tunes #134: Naked Tweety...I may never recover.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bat-words of wisdom. 



"Of what use is a dream,
if not a blueprint for courageous action?"

Cleansing the palate. 

Something we can all agree on...the best Batman ever:







Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The last word. 

Me: "Hey, Kid Chris, you like All-Star Batman and Robin, don't you?"

KC: "Sure do...why?"

Me: "Because some folks think we're dumb for liking it."

KC: "Then I'll see them...IN HELL!"

Okay, okay, enough of that. Though Kid Chris did drop another funny comment while he was visting the shop today: "Hey, these Ultimate comics sure are extreme!" Look, new comics-less Wednesdays are a drag, I'll take entertainment where I can get it.

Another thing that came by the store was a brochure for a comics convention taking place next month. As I was flipping through it, I noticed that some of the bios for the media guests were a little out of date...one notes that a particular actress can be seen in a movie premiering in April 2004, another contains the line "now in its fourth season, Smallville airs Wednesdays at 8:00 PM," and yet another refers to the forthcoming release of Club Dread (which came out two years ago). And one of the bios lists the credits for the actress in one paragraph, then repeats the exact same information in a slightly more wordy second paragraph. Oops.

Eh, no big deal, really...just found it amusing.

"Pseuds ahoy!" -- or, "I'm apparently going to be defending my enjoyment of ASB&R for the rest of my life" -- or, "I'm too nice, sometimes." 

To answer a question posed elsewhere: I enjoyed All-Star Batman and Robin because...

1) It's Frank Miller clearly having a good time with the character

2) Like the majority of Miller's recent work, its tongue is firmly in cheek...

2 1/2) ...though not all the time, since, also like the majority of Miller's recent work, there can be tone shifts throughout the story -- not so much in this work, so far, but I think that's what bothered people about Dark Knight Strikes Again

3) It's written like a Big Hollywood Summer Action Movie (with the attendant chase scenes, dialogue, gorgeous dames*, etc.), freeing up the character from the "Dark Avenger of the Night" straightjacket that's been making the Bat-books so (yawn) terribly exciting over the last two decades

4) I'm not the world's biggest Jim Lee fan, but the art in this series has kind of grown on me, particularly in the facial expression department...Robin's reaction to the Batmobile is priceless

5) Miller also seems to be deliberately tweaking the too-serious fans who don't want to see these kinds of shenanigans in their caped crusader comics, what with his dialogue ("I'm the g--" well, you know) and staging choices

6) The overall over-the-top outrageousness of the comic...there've been a couple scenes in each issue that just plain make me laugh out loud. I can't remember the last time a Batman comic made me laugh. I mean, with it, not at it.

Okay, to be fair, I do understand that this comic isn't to everyone's taste. No comic ever is, nor should it be. And it's not perfect...again, few comics are. I wasn't even sold on it at first, but upon reading the second issue, something clicked and I just fell into its groove. I like this comic because, to me, it's just plain wacky fun...not because I'm trying to be contrary, not because I'm trying to be pretentious, but because I'm getting my money's worth out of it. Believe you me, the last thing I wanted to do is add yet another comic book to the (semi-)monthly pile, but, well, there you go.

But if you like Batman, but don't like this comic, it's not as if there aren't a half-dozen or so different Bat-books on the shelves at any given time. You're spoilt for choice, you are.

I'll just be over here, reading my ASB&R and laughing my darn fool head off. (First person to say "emphasis on 'fool'" will get such a pinch....)**

Additional linkage:

The mighty Jog has a good review of the second issue.

* To reiterate a comment I've made before about this comic...it's by Frank Miller and Jim Lee. If having scantily-clad beautiful women in the comic came as a surprise, you just haven't been paying attention.

** Okay, this time I promise to let it drop. This isn't "Mike Sterling's Progressive All-Star Batman," after all.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Tuesday night. 

Ken Lowery, America's only comics weblogger, has finally returned...go read, learn.

Anyway, sorry for dipping into the message board well twice in succession, but really, it's hard to resist. These things write themselves...well, literally, I suppose. Hmmm...a weblog that takes the silliest stuff from comic book message boards and posts it for all to see...if only someone out there would do such a thing on a regular basis....

But, seriously, those DC Comics message boards are something else, aren't they? I thought the Mr. Cranky and Ain't It Cool boards were bad. Phew.

My earliest experience with a comic book message board (outside of my local BBS scene, where I tended to be in charge of the comic boards, anyway) was on America Online. This was back in the early '90s, when the comic speculator boom was still in full flower, and the AOL boards reflected that. My three primary memories of those days:

1) that one guy who kept hyping up Zen: Intergalactic Ninja as the greatest comic ever, and we all suspected was on the Zen payroll.

2) that one retailer who kept going on about investing in this, investing in that...oh, what, people actually read these things?

3) that ongoing discussion about a plot point at the end of a months-old Superman comic, which everyone thought was going to play into the then-current death/return of Supes storyline, thus making that comic a "Hot Collectible." Then I, as someone who actually read Superman comics, pointed out that plot point had fully played out in the very next issue and had nothing to do with the death/return stuff, which went over about as well as if I had pooped in the punchbowl.

I really wished I had kept logs of all the nonsense that was going on there...though, come to think of it, I may have archived some stuff on an old floppy disk somewhere...I'll get back to you on that.

Because I'm lazy short on time... 

...more bon mots from the DC message boards:

"Anyone else thing [sic] Miller's All-Star Batman is CRAP???"

"It reads like Miller dressed some of his Sin City characters in Batman costumes."

"So far, its like a Batman comic for the ADD Generation."

"It's beyond terrible. Even Lee's art can't save it. I don't know about the Superman book yet, although i don't care for the art in it."

"Doesn't everyone?"

"i am suprised this dribble is coming from Miller, it will be a shame if i have to drop Jim Lee's awesome art because the normally great miller is writing this hack styles."

"I'm sorry but Frank Miller fundamentally does not like superheroes. He just likes corrupting them. But it is beyond that. He reduces them to the point they are slime. I suspect the only time he does not do that is in the main DC Universe where he is not allowed to do that, such as in Batman Year One which was good. But I suspect it was good because he had a tight set of reins on him. He knew how far he could push it."

"Don't read it like it was DC, Marvel, or even Darkhorse
Instead approach it like Zap, Mr Natural, Mickey Mouse and the Air Pirates, or The Fabulous Furry Freak Bros"

"I think its crap. I think both All-Stars are crap. I think the current Winnick arc with Jason in Batman is crap as well."

Monday, January 02, 2006

From the DC message boards.... 

"Who is the Crapiest, Most Flamin Gay, Most Unoriginal, Poorly drawn, Poorly Written SuperHero/SuperVillain in DC Comics History?"

"Deadshot without his mask sucks like Cobra Commander without his mask used to suck. This guy does not look scary."

"I want zatanna to be raped by dr. light and huntress, I hate that b!tch"

"Some of the Green Lantern Corps -- The guy thats one big eye yet he has a mask. And a planet thats a GL?"

"yea i never liked metamorpho... shift is soo much better since he's one color..."

"Superboy-Prime. I believe his secret identity is Jack from 'Will and Grace'."

"> Wow. 4 pages & nobody has mentioned Hush yet?

Screw you! Hush rules! He's the best new villian to be introduced perhaps since the Joker!"

"'Mazing Man."
(clearly a typo)

"Terry Berg El Extra̱o Apollo and the Midnighter Element Lad"

"Didio"

Yeah, right. 

"'Witchblade' comic heroine has 10th anniversary"

"'While we haven't exactly ignored the fact that the lead character is an attractive woman...the stories aren't excuses for her clothes to fall off anymore,' [Ron] Marz said."

If you're gonna start the new year off right... 

...you're gonna need a picture of a sexy chicken:


from Those Crazy Peckers #1 (February 1987) - art by Kent Bivens

I'd previously mentioned Those Crazy Peckers, since I had come across an ad for them in another comic. I didn't even bother to check our store stock to see if we had a copy available, since I figured "nah, I dumped most of those Solson comics into the quarter boxes years ago, there's no way we'd still have this around." Well, surprise surprise, I was rearranging some back issues a couple days ago, and there it was!

Here, have an old joke:



In the same back issue rearranging binge, I turned up Captain Koala #5, which contains absolutely no credits or copyright information of any kind. But it does have the good captain himself wielding some mighty weaponry:




I thought koalas were a little more peaceful than that.



"Superman namesake is 1st 2006 baby"...in this particular area, anyway:

"The DeGuzmans' second child, Kalel Christopher, was delivered at 2:08 a.m. via Caesarean section -- five days before his scheduled delivery, but right on time to be the first reported baby of the New Year in Volusia and Flagler counties.

"He entered the world 20 inches long, weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces. And his parents gave him the same first name Superman got on his native Krypton."

No mention is made of that other Super-named baby.



"No Hulk 2 Says Bana"

"Marvels Avi Arad said recently that a Hulk 2 would be more adventure-ridden and less-psychological drama, something the first film was criticised widely for. [...] 'Movie one seemed to have been tough on some people, but some of us think it is one of the more courageous depictions of a comic book character.'"



I have a new "Behind the Counter" column up at Comic Book Galaxy...I talk briefly about the various product types we've carried at the shop, including the one product line I am the most ashamed to have sold. Really, I feel guilty about selling these things to this very day. Go see what it is, why don't you.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Ears! 







The Blackhawks' Chuck "The Listener" Wilson and I both wish you, the loyal Progressive Ruin-readin' audience, a very happy and prosperous New Year! "Ears" to you, friends!

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