mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, April 03, 2004

"Grrrr! Bad men! I kill!" 

Eerie #11, published in 1953 by Avon Periodicals, featured four stories, but the last one, the only one not mentioned on the cover, is of special note. Titled "Robot Model L2 -- Failure!" it details how, "during the years of the Martian war," the Supreme Commander of Earth required a robot for guard duty:

Darrow, the bearded roboticist, builds L2, a fierce robot whose only desire was to kill Martians:

A brief aside...even if the robot was designed to just kill Martians, would you really want something like this roaming around outside your home at night?

Anyway, as it turns out, there's a human turncoat named Garond just itching to sell out...um, the panel says "his country," but surely they mean "his planet?" Why would selling out his country make him Earth president?

It doesn't matter, he's clearly a bad egg, and he goes into the action the next day, rooting around in the private rooms of a scientist and his granddaughter looking for secret formulas or some such thing. The scientist catches him in the act, discovering that Garond's a spy. Garond kills him, then kills the granddaughter who happens upon the scene.

At this point, L2, hearing the cries for help, enters the scene as Garond is wringing the last bit of life out of the granddaughter. L2 pursues Garond outside, and, clutched together in their struggles, they both tumble off a cliff to their destruction:

The authorities happen upon the bodies of Garond and L2, and, since no one knew that Garond was a traitor, the Supreme Commander assumes that L2 went berserk and killed all three of these people. And that leads to this final panel:

Yes, the ethereal presence of L2's spirit looms over the proceedings, despairing in the humans' misinterpretation of events! That's right...it's a robot's ghost. The caption in the above panel pays some lip service to the absurdity of "the phantom of a smashed piece of machinery"...but by God, that's the ghost of a robot drawn there, and I'm not going to have some wishy-washy caption tell me any different. I mean, just look at that.

As a special bonus, I provide you with this telling panel from one of the other stories in this issue:

I've certainly never seen a chart with such detail. Have you?

Friday, April 02, 2004

The Passion of The Hulk 

"Hulk smash puny Romans!"


Some notes about the comics that came out this week:

JLA #95: To everyone giving Claremont and Byrne a bad time about the "Crucifer" vampire villain in their JLA story...I'd like to see you make fun of the name "Crucifer" to these guys. Besides, how can you not love a villain named "Crucifer?" It made me laugh, anyway.

Avengers/JLA #4 - cover to cover mayhem, lovingly detailed by George Perez. The plot can give you a nosebleed, but the plot's sorta secondary anyway, what with all the superhero fight/team-up goodness in this here funnybook.

Punisher #4 - so the Punisher spends the entire issue tied to a chair, and he still comes across as the most dangerous person in the story. Garth Ennis is so right for this comic.

Oh, and by the way, this week was apparently "Dead Galactus Week" in new comics. Just thought you should know.

I still need to read the new Comics Journal Special...unpublished Jack Davis newspaper strips in this issue, folks, so check it out if you haven't yet!

I did read the preview copy of Swamp Thing #2, due next week...whereas the first issue felt like some weird combo of Alan Moore's and Mark Millar's runs, the new issue opens up with a sequence that could have come straight out of the Rick Veitch issues: very creepy, but pretty goofy at the same time. Nicely done.

If I were to use my three-word-review format for the Hellboy movie, those three words would be "shoulda been animated." Okay, I cheated a little. That's okay, because I haven't seen the movie, either. But those trailers don't exactly fill me with confidence. So much of Hellboy's appeal is in Mike Mignola's art that the characters seem to lose something in being translated to live-action. Maybe I'm wrong, but if I'm not compelled to see it, I'm not going to put up with the usual misery of the theatre-going experience just to see a film I'm lukewarm on.

I do very much enjoy the Hellboy comics, though, so if you haven't run out and bought the 25-cent Hellboy comic at your local comics emporium...well, go do so already.

Sorry...today's post is a little disorganized...still trying to get back into the swing of things. In the meantime, please enjoy this Return Donna Troy petition.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Okay, that's enough of that. 

I'm feeling much better now. In case you missed it, here's the evidence.

Special thanks to Simply Comics for not minding my double April Fools prank on his April Fools prank:

And yes, the "gambitfan1987" e-mail address really works.

All Gambit, all the time. 

A good place to start to learn about the Ragin' Cajun would be here, at Cajun Country, which features a complete (as of '99) biography of Remy, plus a bonus biography of his one true love, Rogue.

You may find the wit, wisdom, and bon mots of Gambit here at The Quotable Gambit.

Those of you who are fans of the Champions superhero role playing game can find Gambit stats here.

Ozfigures.com posts their review of the Marvel Legends Gambit figure. This figure must be enormously popular...I see more of these on the shelves at our local toy store than any other Marvel figure!

Our Spanish-speaking friends will enjoy this nicely-designed site about Gambit and Rogue...be sure to check out the special feature on their costumes!

The Superhero Dictionary provides an entry on Gambit that not only explains who Gambit is, but also provides the actual definition of the word "gambit." Your choice of WAV or Realaudio files provides the correct pronunciation.

When the comic books just aren't enough...the fans step up and provide further adventures of our favorite mutant right here.

Japan loves Gambit, too!

Here's another fanfic, featuring a crossover between the X-Men and Neil Gaiman's Sandman...with lots of Gambit action!

I don't know why you'd want to dress up characters from the Daria cartoon as Gambit and Jubilee, but here you go (about halfway down the page).

What th--?? A Gambit site that doesn't like Rogue? How can this be?

Young Gambit fans might enjoy printing out this page to color.

People seem to like to dress up as Gambit, and really, who can blame them? Take a look here at this nicely done costume.

Artist John Watkins-Chow presents a couple interesting interpretations of Gambit and Rogue (and plenty of other X-Men).

If you're like me, there's nothing you want more than to see Gambit in the third X-Men movie...but only if his romance with Rogue plays out just as it does in the comics! Go here to sign the online petition - you know as well as I do that there's nothing Hollywood respects more than an online petition, so get over there and sign already!

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Gay Gorillas and the Duality of Mind and Body (by special guest weblogger, pal Dorian) 

(Due to personal situations, I am unable to provide a post of my own today, but pal Dorian has stepped in and graciously allowed me to post his appreciation of one of the finest issues of Grant Morrison's wonderful Doom Patrol run. Take it away, Dor!)

I wish to tell you all about one of my all-time favorite comic books: Doom Patrol Vol. 2, # 34, by Grant Morrison and Richard Case.

So one day, Monsieur Mallah and The Brain decide to attack their arch-enemies, The Doom Patrol, in their secret headquarters in suburban Happy Harbor. The Brain, for those of you who don't know, is a super-intelligent criminal mastermind's brain, kept alive in a jar. Mallah is an inexplicably French-talking communist gorilla. Here's their introduction into the story:

Meanwhile, back at DP HQ, Cliff Steele, aka Robotman, who has the amazing power of being a brain artificially kept alive in a robot body, has been experiencing unexplained mechanical difficulties with his latest body. In short, sometimes his body refuses to obey his commands. While they work on the problem, the other members of the DP have taken Cliff's brain out of his body and placed it in a jar hooked up with a microphone and a speaker so that he can speak and hear whats going on around him. Then they decide to take the afternoon off and leave Cliff's brain alone in the jar for the rest of the day.

It is then revealed that the cause of the malfunction is that the robot body has developed a kind of sentience of its own, and now resents having a squishy piece of organic matter telling it what to do. It rebels, demanding its freedom, wishing to let its ID run rampant without any of that pesky EGO telling it what to do. To wit:

And then, Mallah and the Brain arrive. They decide to steal Robotman's powerful robot body and use it as the Brain's new body. Since frankly, he's a little tired of just being a brain in a jar. A titanic battle ensues in which Mallah attempts to subdue Robotman's body, and Brain fights Cliff.

Shortly, Robotman's body has been disabled and Mallah places the brain in the robot. And words that have longed to be spoken finally are:

And so, they kiss. And get blown up. Because Robotman's body placed a bomb inside itself, set to go off if anyone tried to put a brain back into it and deny it the freedom to enjoy an irresponsible, thoughtless existence.
And Cliff is left to try to make since of it all, which he does in the only way he can:

This comic has everything. Humor, homosexuality, and a serious examination of the eternal philosophical question: "Which rules, the mind or the body?"

So of course, comic book fans, being what they are, react thusly:

But I don't care, because any comic book that gives us not only a gay gorilla, but the Brotherhood of Dada, a super-heroine with MPD (each personality has a different power), and the use of the word "this" as a swear, can't be bad!

(Hi! Mike, again...if you want to Read More About It, may I recommend more Morrison Doom Patrol goodness, courtesy David Fiore?)

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Monday, March 29, 2004

1. In trying to find some Super-Turtle information for
Rose, I came across the Henry Boltinoff Hall of Fame Gallery which contains tons of scans of Mr. Boltinoff's fill-in strips for DC Comics. Alas, though Super-Turtle is mentioned in the introduction, no S-T strips appear to be reproduced here. There is an index of some Super-Turtle stories here (down near the bottom of the page) if you want to try to find the original comics.

2. The Existentialism of Charlie Brown. (via pal Andy)

3. After buying the Dr. Doom/Thing Marvel Mini-Mates set on a whim, I find myself oddly compelled by these strange little things. I would really like to see a Galactus Mini-Mate...wouldn't that be neat?

4. For no good reason, here's a page with pictures of Kenner's Swamp Thing toy line. (Personal aside...years ago, a manager of a local toy store gave me the "Official SWAMP THING Toy Headquarters" sign that tied into these toys. I keep meaning to put it in one of my front windows, just to annoy the neighbors.)

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Just a brief thought about Cerebus #300 

As I was pulling out my Cerebus collection to begin, someday, the Great Cerebus Re-Read Project 3000, something about issue #300 kept bugging me. Spoilers ahoy, if you haven't read the entire series:

Okay, so if Elrod was, as it was revealed around issue 170-180 or so, not an actual person but some kind of magical extension of Cerebus that Cerebus inadventently created, wouldn't Elrod's appearance in Cerebus' afterlife vision in #300 imply that 1) something's fishy about this particular afterlife, or 2) Cerebus is simply imagining the whole thing? (Or, I suppose, there's a third possibility...that Cerebus' creation had enough of an independent will to generate a soul for itself that could make the transition into the afterlife.)

Boy, heady stuff for something that began as a parody of Windsor-Smith's Conan.

"No room for Super-Turtle!" 

Neil Gaiman points to this cute cartoon about the origins of Vertigo.

It's hard to believe that DC's Vertigo line and massive bookstore presence (which, in turn, opened the way for other graphic novels, arguably including the current U.S. manga boom), plus the successful careers of several writers (including Gaiman), can all be traced back to DC hiring a little known British writer to take over a failing revival of a short-lived 70s horror title.

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