mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"Why, honey, that's beaut...um, what the hell is that?" 

So I came across the 1994 Starbur Corporation/Caliber Press merchandise catalog in a collection on Friday, and, flipping through it, found this:

Here's a better look at it, in an image I totally stole from this Yahoo! auction:

And, if you're so inclined, here's an even bigger pic.

Okay, first, a Violator medallion? I don't care if you're the biggest Spawn fan in the world, you gotta draw the line somewhere.

Second, I kinda wonder how many of these were actually sold. Were there 590 Spawn fans who had to have a precious metal medallion of Spawn's arch-nemesis?

Third, how many of them have survived 'til now? I imagine any unsold stock (and probably a good number of the sold ones) have been melted down and reshaped into more appealing and/or useful forms, like silver bullets to take care of that pesky neighborhood werewolf problem.

Fourth...well, I don't really have a fourth, beyond "a Violator medallion?" For 600 bucks? I think I'd rather drop six bills on a piece of gold and a couple of rubies not molded into an oddly-designed comic book supervillain, thank you...well, okay, maybe I'd wear some Lex Luthor-shaped bling, BUT THAT'S IT.

Friday, September 15, 2006

"'Save versus girls?' Man, I always make that roll." 

Every once in a while, I see something like this:

"WOLVERINE #1 of 4, Marvel, '82, Frank Millar story/cover & art, Wolvy's 1st solo book ! Near Mint++++ ! !!"

...which by itself is pretty typical, but has an opening minimum bid of $648,000.

So, what up with that? I figure it's one of the following reasons:

1) Typo - opening bid was meant to be $6.48, and mistakes were made.

2) Prank - seller just thought it would be funny to list this for $648,000.

3) (The most likely reason) Attention-grabbing advertising - potential bidders see that minimum bid in the listings, checks out the auction to see what the heck's going on (and thus are exposed to a blurb for the seller's eBay store).

4. Done in the hopes that he'll actually realize that price - hey, just gotta sell one.

The shipping is a fairly reasonable $4.25, however.

Things I've done that you haven't: participated in a one-on-one play-by-e-mail Dungeons & Dragons adventure with Chris Sims as Dungeon Master, and me a player-character Gelatinous Cube:

Chris: "Okay, you're in a tavern...."

Me: "I immediately sweep my gelatinous cube-shaped body through the tavern, absorbing everything I come across into my sticky body -- packs, weapons, barmaids...."

I don't know why, but I was on some Gelatinous Cube trip at the shop the other day...a strange throwback to the days when I actually sold the D&D stuff at the shop. I was wondering two things: 1) if a player character was polymorphed into a Gelatinous Cube, if he or she could continue playing as a Cube; and 2) has anyone made any kind of D&D-themed snack food designed around the Gelatinous Cube? You know, little squares of clear Jello with some of those candy skeletons, the kind that are always being sold around Halloween, embedded inside.

Chris says the answer to #1 is "yes," though it probably depends on the DM. The answer to #2 is, um, I don't know, as my Google-fu has failed me. Maybe one of you out there can clue me in.

Some more Cube links:

The cube as it appears in Neverwinter Nights.

Here's a miniature for sale, a homemade mini in progress, and another nice mini.

A Worth1000 Photoshop contest entry along the lines of my Jello snack idea.

EDIT: I've been informed that, by some odd coincidence, John Kovalic ran an Unspeakable Oaf panel today that involves a Gelatinous Cube.

Yeah, I know, Gelatinous Cube talk doesn't really fit the usual comics theme here, but I had to get it out of my system. If you're not satisfied with the quality of Progressive Ruin, please write for a refund.

Okay, back to comics:

"Good or Evil? Comic Books and Their Influence on Kids"

"In some comics, the violence and blatant sexual advances rival that of infamous video games like Grand Theft Auto and the Resident Evil series. Some persue practices or customs that are tied to the occult, whereas others dabble in matters of society, like homosexuality, and drug abuse.

"The real question is, who do you want teaching your kids about those things, you or the comic book?

"True, not all comic books are bad, and some are quite benefitial, but constant vigilance is necessary to keep your kids from being expossed to these things."

Poor spelling still okay, though.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I have a girlfriend, I swear. 

So I was reading the latest Star Wars novel Bloodlines, written by Karen Traviss and the latest in the Legacy of the Force sequence of books. According to the timeline in the front of the book (and in the front of every Star Wars book), this particular installment takes place 40 years after the original Star Wars film, AKA "Episode IV" AKA "A New Hope." Which means, of course, all the main characters (the ones that are still alive, that is) are in their 60s and 70s.

But that's not exactly what I'm here to talk about. There's a scene, very early in the novel, where a 71-year-old Boba Fett is paying a visit to his doctor:

"Dr. Beluine was one of only a handful who had ever seen him without [his Mandalorian helmet]. Doctors could handle disfigurement a great deal better than most."

Okay, I realize the idea of an elderly Star Wars character visiting his doctor brings to mind, say, Han Solo waiting in line to pick up his medicine, or Luke receiving his Social Security benefits, and other exciting Star Wars action. Anyway, part of Boba's initial appeal for the Star Wars fans, aside from being taken out by a blind guy and screaming like a little girl, was his sense of mystery. What did he look like under that mask?

Well, after Episode II, now we know. Since young Boba is a clone of his father, Jango Fett, and we've seen Jango maskless in that film (and you can see him maskless here, if you scroll down a bit), we can assume an adult Boba would look more or less like Jango. So now, the "mystery" aspect of Boba had more or less been done away with.

Over the years, as Boba had appeared in the "Expanded Universe" novels, the occasional reference had been made to his maskless visage being ugly, or unappealing, or...well, I forget the exact wording, but I don't recall him ever being explicitly described as "disfigured" until this novel. (Perhaps someone with a better memory for the books recalls otherwise.) Then again, the novels were on their way to creating a much different backstory for Boba that were contradicted by the events in the flims, but that's yet another issue.

Anyhoo, the above passage from the new Star Wars book is a fairly transparent attempt at reestablishing the mystery of Boba's appearance. Boba Fett is now the Dr. Doom of the Star Wars universe, with his helmet now hiding some sort of hideous and unknown disfigurement.

At least until Lucasfilm licenses some kind of officially-sanctioned bust of Boba with a removable helmet, revealing his true appearance, much like what Marvel did with Doom.

And in conclusion, I'm a huge dork. Thank you.

Okay, I know there's a Boba action figure with a removable helmet.

Employee Aaron reports that he had a customer on Monday look at the Pride of Baghdad cover feature on the Comic Shop News newsletter, and declare it "obviously pro-Iraqi propaganda."

Well, obviously.

Due to Marvel's across-the-board postponement of their books due to the Civil War delay, our invoice totals have been pretty low the last few weeks...allowing me to make some pretty massive reorders without totally busting our budget. But I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, that looming threat of a coming onslaught of new Civil War tie-ins, arriving two or three dozen per week. Okay, it may not be quite that dire, but I am expecting a bunch of books to be suddenly dumped on us once the Civil War gears are back in motion.

Talent #3 - Lots of 'splaining going on in this issue, as our hero has his particular circumstance -- able to access the abilities of victims of an air crash only he survived, in order to complete their unfinished business -- explained more or less as plainly as I've explained here; we learn a little more about what the folks pursuing Nick are up to; and we find out just why that plane crashed. It's nice that readers aren't continually strung along, but instead are thrown a bone once in a while to give us the feeling of forward movement, that the story is working toward something rather than just running in place with a "avenged dead soul" every issue. The central conceit of the book is a strong one, kind of a reverse Deadman, and makes for good 'n' fun reading.

"Marvel to unite 'Avengers' for movie"

"[Marvel] intends to release a live-action version of 'The Avengers' -- a team dubbed as 'Earth's mightiest heroes.'"


"Executives spoke briefly about their 'Avengers' plan Wednesday during a presentation to Wall Street analysts at the Merrill Lynch Media & Entertainment Conference in Pasadena.

"The comic book 'The Avengers' began as a team consisting of superheroes Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, Iron Man and Hulk. Later, Captain America and a host of others joined. Executives didn't say exactly which of Marvel's superheroes would be depicted in 'The Avengers' movie."

Dear God: please let there be a live-action Ant-Man in this movie. Thank you, Mike.

...But then, Garrett Morris did pretty much perfect the role:

image found here

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Luke Cage isn't happy about Roy resigning. 

The Comic Reader #110 (Sept. 1974) - art by Ron Wilson

From the news blurb inside:

"Roy Thomas resigned his editorial post at Marvel Comics as of August 13. He will be staying on as free-lance writer of CONAN, etc. Reasons for his resignation were not given but it's known that it was due to a disagreement."

Heath Ledger is a potty mouth, and other topics of note. 

Heath Ledger thinks superhero movies are...well, see for yourself:

"'I actually hate comic book movies, like fucking hate them, they just bore me shitless and they’re just dumb,' Ledger told press at the Toronto Film Festival."

I know he follows this up with good words about Batman Begins and why that particular film made him want to be in a superhero film his own self, but still...I wonder how the studio feels about this?

Anyway, in other news:

Chris "Lefty" Brown wants to know:

"How easy would it be to exert our collective bloggin power (and some comic convention booze) to get Mike Sterling to make an appearance in a Swamp Thing comic book? We must work on this."

...I'll just settle for writing Swamp Thing...that Swampy/Legion of Super-Heroes team-up must happen.

Steven thinks more superheroes should die, give more message boarders heart palpitations.

Speaking of "dead" heroes, Loren has issues with Skeets just happening to locate a direct-line ancestor of Booster Gold in the 21st century.

When Fangirls Attack links to a particular person's weblog...linkee unclear on concept of "the internet."

Greg at Comics Should Be Good explains why you should own Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run. And he's right...you should own it. And it's coming out in that convenient trade paperback form which is popular with the kids these days, so you have no excuse not to own it.

Not really anything to do with comics, but Bill ranks his five favorite sandwiches, complete with a bonus "What's Distracting Patricia" (see also).

Eddie returns with a tale of a nice yard sale find. I never find cool stuff like this...all the yard sales I see have the same selection of broken blenders, curling irons, and old shoes. No one around here reads, apparently.

Alan reviews the Harvey Pekar-edited The Best American Comics 2006. Somewhere, someone is wondering why Kabuki wasn't in this book.


In case you haven't noticed, Tom Peyer has teamed up with some of his super-pals, and what was once the totally awesome Superfrankenstein is now the totally awesome-er Superfrankenstein and the Monster Force, complete with Jamie Delano, Stuart Moore, Mark Waid, and one or two comments section trolls that everyone enjoys picking on and laughing at.

This Is Pop Culture is always a nice round-up of vintage toys, ads, comics, and TV shows, along with current news regarding same. Pay a visit, won't you?

Apparently I'm distracting Patricia.

And I'm linking to pal Dorian's post in direct defiance of his draconian linking policy. So take that, you!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Oh, okay, I'll stop. 

Just in case you were wondering, no, I wasn't working up to any kind of "conclusion" or making a "point" with all my Wolverine posts from the last week (like I did with "Bat-Week" a few months ago). No, sometimes, just sometimes, a boy's gotta post about Wolverine.

And if people tell me to stop doing it...that makes me do it some more, out of spite. So take that, you.

In other news:

Buffy creator Joss Whedon takes over Marvel's Runaways - book presumably moves to quarterly schedule.

We've suddenly had a small bump in interest in Runaways, with at least one person saying all the news about the original creative team leaving got him to try the book out. You know, in the "hey, everybody's lamenting their loss, they must have been doing some good work" sort of way, not in the "finally, they're off the book, I can read it" way.

And, my smart-aleckiness aside, I am curious as to how Whedon's addition to the title will affect sales. As it stands now, despite the online good word-of-mouth, the comic is, at least for us, a low-to-mid-range seller. It's solid and consistent, more than New Excalibur, less than Hulk.

The first Whedon issue (and probably the next couple) will almost certainly be ordered in huge numbers...his Astonishing X-Men has been a success, outselling the other regular monthly X-books, and I'm sure most retailers will expect some of those sales to translate to this new title. However, Runaways isn't an X-book, and it doesn't have characters people know from movies, so I imagine sales on Whedon's Runaways will probably eventually settle at "better than it was selling before, but not selling as well as people are probably expecting." Yeah, I know, that's some prediction.

Basically, I'm saying this is going to be a tricky one to order. Hmmmm...there's some kind of algebraic equation there, somewhere, with "number of regular Runaways readers" plus "number of sales of Astonishing X-Men over sales of Uncanny X-Men and X-Men" minus "people reading Astonishing X-Men because of Whedon who aren't interested in Runaways" plus "potential number of people buying two to five copies of Whedon's first issue for investment purposes" plus "number of extra copies Marvel is going to coerce us into buying in order to obtain the inevitable limited variant incentive covers" minus "people who drop the book due to creative team change...."

Isn't comic ordering fun?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wolverine: Week Two!* 

from Hembeck #6 (Sept. 1981) - by Fred Hembeck, natch

The True Origin of Wolverine - 31 pages detailing the character's creation and history, heavily footnoted.

Wolverine's Top Ten Villains - "#11 - Fatty foods."

Three iconic images of Wolverine, and one image of Wolvie fighting Darth Maul.

If you're lucky, you can get this guy to appear at your party or other special event. Here are a bunch of other folks you can get as well. (I imagine the person playing Elektra just kinda hangs around the office a lot, reading the paper and waiting for the phone to ring.)

Custom full-face Wolverine helmet. Holy Hannah.

Some folks don't like Wolvie: Sequart, Title Undetermined, Howling Curmudgeons (halfway down page).

"Is Wolverine in too many books?"

"yea, marvel seems to be allowing wolvie to be in almost every book, i dont really think they understand what they are doin got the poor guy, he never gets any sleep, and they put him back in the yellow spandex, and he has to sit and watch an australian play him on the big screen..."

"COMPRISONS [sic] BETWEEN WOLVERINE AND BENJAMIN" - "Wolverine has claws, Benjamin has no claws and clips his finger nails regularly."

Courage and possibilities, friends, courage and possibilities.

Wolverine versus Freddy Krueger fan art, from this site.

Wolvie South Park-style.

Wolvie Amiga 500-style.

"The Wolverine and Jubilee Page is a fansite dedicated to one of the most interesting, fantastic, comic book duos around. Wolverine and Jubilee have been partners for years, and the great stories that comic book writers have spun about them continue to create and inspire devoted fans. So, welcome to the site! Batman and Robin ain't got nuthin' on these two!" The webmaster of this page also wrote an honest-to-goodness X-Men novel, so good on her.

Custom cutie Wolvie super-deformed bunny thing.

My personal pick for the best live-action Wolverine ever. (Yeah, it's a self-link, you'll live.)

Chris takes down Marvel Team-Up #117 (featuring Wolverine and Spider-Man), beats it mercilessly, and dangles a loogie in its face.

A great pic of Wolvie from Outcast Studios.

Urban dictionary definitions of "Wolvie." To wit: "A useful pet name for your boyfriend if he likes to emulate a certain marvel superhero."

Wolverine and Rogue relationshippers site - I like the drinking game.

Superman teams with Wolvie, Superman is Wolvie.

A page of Wolvie illos with a weird 3-D applet/Javascript/whatever cube thingie floating at the top of the page, there.

What's Distracting Patricia?

Some neat CG renders of our favorite Canadian mutant.

Berserker Wolverine action figure review. Lots of other Wolvie action figure reviews on this site as well.

I don't know what's going on here, but that's a great image of Wolvie.

"As many of you know, Nate decided to be Wolverine for Halloween..." The guy built himself retractable claws for his costume...enjoy the gallery of the costume in progress, the finished product, and his triumphant drunkenness at the Halloween party that followed. VICTORY IS HIS.

"Snake Eyes vs. Wolverine. Who wins?"

"I don't care how hyped up SE is, there is no way he could even come near Wolverine. SE would never be able to sneak up on him, because Wolvy can smell his stench from a mile away, and the whole adamantium skeleton thing, the healing factor, and the fact that he's an X-Man, SE should just kill himself."

Wolviex.com - Flash interface, sound, pics, and and other Wolvie stuff.

Wolvie video game sprites.

YTMND ahoy - Wolvie's one weakness, Wolverine says (not safe for work, kinda dumb, but made me laugh), Wolverine is a bad influence, Emo Wolverine, Wolverine really needs a beer, Wolverine works it, and Wolverine rules.

YouTube ahoy - Wolverine versus Bart, Wolvie's animated origin, Wolverine versus Godzilla, "Wolverine Dance," stop-motion Wolverine versus Kirk(?), stop-motion Wolverine versus Spider-Man, and Wolverine getting dressed:

* Maybe.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday misc. 

So, a quick tabulation of the results of this vote, and the wiener winner is...KOOL-AID MAN, by a long chalk. In fact, the battle I see in my head goes something like how P-TOR described it. And it goes on in my head ALL THE TIME.

And of course, the irony is that someday, some other weblogger is going to come along and quote all of our comments on his/her weblog to poke fun at us in a "turnabout is fair play" kinda deal.

Okay, a couple things that need to be addressed:

As I'm sure you've probably heard by now, cartoonist Lea Hernandez has lost most of her home, her belongings, and, most tragically, her pets in a fire...Gail Simone has details and how you can donate via PayPal if you are able. Hernandez is keeping everybody updated on her weblog, so check there for the latest news.

Secondly, pal Nat e-mailed me earlier in the week to let me know that Licensable Bear™ has something he needs to tell us all...here's the Flash version, and here is the YouTube version:

That's Nat's voice at the end there, by the way. I always thought he had a great announcer-type voice.

And, in the news, "Batwoman is Back!"...apparently the writer thinks the title of the comic she's reading is "Batwoman Begins" (which is actually just the blurb on that cover of 52):

"Personally, there was little in this comic book story to make me want to read another issue of the new Batwoman; although it is heartening to see the creation of new women superheroes, with Batwoman being one of them. As mostly males buy comic books, it will be interesting to see if Batwoman survives in the marketplace, and who exactly will be reading it.

"The depiction of Batwoman as a lesbian does speak to growing acceptance of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people as heroes now appearing in films and television shows as well as in comic books.

"Batwoman Begins! remains a largely male creation, however. The people responsible for the new Batwoman are listed as Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Word with art by Joe Bennett, Todd Nauck, Jack Jadson, Alex Sinclair, Nick Napolitano and Marlo Alquiza."

And if I were this store, I don't know if I would have been 100% thrilled with this "plug:"

"Male fantasy still trumps feminist sensibilities in this collector's comic book available at Earth Prime Comics on Church Street in Burlington."

So c'mon in, new female readers!

I know, I know...there's only one reason you all read this website, and that's for WOLVERINE, WOLVERINE, WOLVERINE. Far be it from me to disappoint...here is a small, and nowhere nearly complete selection of Wolverine parody characters:

From the early issues of Marvel's humor title What The--?! comes Wulvoream, as drawn by Hilary Barta:

Barta was always a welcome presence in the What The--?! title, bringing an appealing comedic style to the proceedings.

Peter David concluded his Wolvie story "Gone Fishin'" with the introduction of Wolverina:

This one-shot gag ended up becoming a recurring one, as she popped up, if memory serves, a few more times in the series (here's at least one example). Later, of course, the character entered regular continuity (as Peter David had previously noted).

I've featured Rumbo of Power Pachyderms before, but here he is again:

Oh, my. Points, at least, for not giving the character a name that plays on "Wolverine." And yes, those are metal retractable tusk knives. Enjoy, won't you?

I knew there was an Alf parody of Wolverine (from issue #22 of his series):

...but I'm kinda disappointed that it's not one that has claws coming out of the back of Alf's furry paws. Apparently he has cleats instead. (That's "Brogue" flying behind him, in case you're wondering.)

And, perhaps, the most famous of the Wolverine parodies...Dave Sim's Wolveroach:

Famous primarily because Sim featured his parody on three consecutive covers of Cerebus (here's one of them) and Marvel's lawyers, who didn't much like the fact that you couldn't really tell the parody from the real thing, ended up sending Sim a nastygram abut it. The only real physical difference is the little "dealy boppers" at the tips of his mask, which are hardly obvious.

Any other good'uns I'm missing? I think there's one in Marshal Law Takes Manhattan -- I forgot to retrieve my copy from the vast Mikester archives to check -- and one in Megaton Man ("Wooverine," I believe). I also forgot to pull my copies of that series out of the archives.

Ah, well, I can always cover them on the site tomorrow.

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