mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, April 17, 2004

"Out of Context Theatre presents...." 

from Fantastic Four in The House of Horrors Big Little Book (Whitman, 1968) - courtesy pal Cully

Friday, April 16, 2004

"Lois, you tramp!" 

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #29 (DC Comics, Nov 1961) - cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye

Thursday, April 15, 2004

He asked, and I agreed; I'm apparently to expect
some AiT/PlanetLar comics in the mail pretty soon, which will be fun. However, I'm not all that great of a reviewer, especially when compared to some of the other people who have already done their part for Big Larry...their reviews are like "counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor"* while my reviews tend to be like "duh...pictures purty," so don't expect too much. Here, I'll give you an example:

Action Comics #814, first of the "new direction" (again) Superman titles, features the work of the much-maligned Chuck Austen (sometimes deservedly so). But, as someone who has been reading the Superman comics uninterrupted since the '86 reboot (and for several years prior), I can honestly say Austen does a perfectly acceptable job here. It's fast-paced, entertaining, amusing in parts, and sets up future plotlines nicely. It's not groundbreaking work, but it's enjoyable. People complaining about Supes and Lois and others acting out of character...well, their characters are no more different than what occurs during any creative team change. So, this comic isn't the war crime people seem to think it is.

Okay, there you go. Expect more like that when the AiT/PlanetLar box shows up.

* If you're gonna steal, steal from the best.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

MST3K, new comics, Hello Larry, the Unlightable Being of Bareness, jinxing, and gratuitous footnotes. Not to mention too long of a title. 

Okay, so you know the Undersea Kingdom serial that the Comedy Central version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 had run in front of some of their fourth season episodes? Well, the cliffhanger on one of the serial's chapters had the hero and his boy chum standing on a mountaintop that gets blown up real good by the bad guys. Certain death for the hero and the boy, right? Well, with the next episode of MST3K, we get the next chapter of the serial, where we see a repeat of the cliffhanger from the previous chapter...only this time the hero and boy very clearly jump away from the mountaintop before it explodes. Joel and the 'bots, watching in the audience, shout and hoot in disbelief, upset that the makers of the serial had so obviously cheated.

And that's what I was reminded of when I read the new issue of JLA, #96, when it was explained how Batman escaped being shot point blank in the previous issue. I fully call "no way" on that. But, hey, it's still nicely drawn.

I haven't had much time to read everything else yet, not that I got a whole lot. I did read the last chapter of 1602 (hello, room for a potential sequel!), the new Fables (more clues to the Adversary's true nature...though a particular person is mentioned as a slave of the Adversary at the very end, I think there's a hint in the story that this slave may actually be the Adversary...anyone else think that?), and JSA (I love me some Golden Age DC characters).

I also picked up the new issue of Mad, though this may not be the best issue for me, as the main parodies include Alias, Everwood, and Survivor, TV shows I've never seen. It does have "A MAD Look at Bowling" by the always-funny Sergio Aragones, so that's nice.

Oh, and Larry? Don't worry 'bout me...I've got plenty of energy! I've posted on this weblog of mine every single day since I started in early December (whether I've had anything to say or not, har har), and I plan to keep up that streak, though I'm sure I've jinxed it just by mentioning it here.

I have no idea why I'm posting every day...at first, I think it just to let early visitors to my little corner of the interweb-thingie know that this wasn't just some fly-by-night weblog, that I intended to keep adding new content as often as possible and they should all visit equally often. Plus, I had this fear that if I didn't post every day, all my visitors would vanish overnight, and I'd turn into one of sites featured here. Now, I think I'm mostly driven to post every day by that very same obsessive/compulsive behavior that drives me to collect comics and make "want lists" for issues I don't have.* Maybe I need a good week-long power outage to break me from the habit, to shake the feeling that if I don't post, something terrible will happen...like, I don't know, the Earth will spiral out of its orbit and fly right into the sun, maybe.

Until that happens (some kind of enforced break, not the destruction of the Earth...though that would do it, too), I still intend to post every day for at least the near future. It may not always be posts of this length, it may occasionally be just an amusing comic cover if I happen to be busy that day**, but I'll have something up here.

Unless, like I said, I just jinxed myself.

* Just fanzines and some issues of Sugar & Spike and Herbie. It's not a big want-list!

** Contrary to the belief of many people, I appear to have a "life" that sometimes may prevent me from weblogging as much, or as long, as I'd like. This surprises no one more than me, I assure you.

"What's wrong with these people?" 

Flash #177 (DC Comics, March 1968) - cover by Ross Andru & Mike Esposito

I miss seeing this type of story. Stuff like this never seems to happen to Wolverine.

Actually, if you think about it a little...unless that big noggin of his is filled with helium, certainly you'd think he'd notice the huge amount of extra weight bearing down on his neck.

For some reason, the expression on the woman's face on the left hand side of the cover cracks me up every time I see it. Apparently the sheer horror of the Flash's enormous head has driven her completely insane...or at least cockeyed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

1. Alas,
The Hurting has retired his comics link-a-thon efforts. They were much appreciated, especially in these Journalista-free times.

1a. Re: Journalista, in the silver lining department - being mentioned in the last entry means that the link to my site has been featured for nearly two months...and I'm still getting traffic from there. Woo-hoo!

2. The only thing I'm wondering about this whole Marvel ICON imprint thing (Fanboy Rampage has got it covered, starting here) is when Milestone is going to send the cease and desist letter.

3. Still haven't seen Hellboy. Oh, well, I'm sure the DVD will be out in a couple months.

4. In case you haven't noticed, the Great Losers giveaway contest from Ringwood has finished, and he's posted the winning entries and some runners-up (starting here. Mature audiences only...you are all mature, aren't you?

5. Comics Continuum has got the DC solicitations up...everyone else has covered it very thoroughly (am I the only person on the planet outside the John Byrne Forum actually kinda sorta looking forward to his Doom Patrol series? ...don't answer that), but I did want to point out a couple things in the DC Direct section. Though I already have the previous Golden Age Green Lantern action figure, I am sorely tempted by the First Appearance version of same (he's got a cloth cape...a cloth cape!)...and while this Brian Bolland Flash poster is very nice...I hope they center the image a bit, throw a logo on it, or something...it looks a little awkward to me as is. Oh, and they really need to stop doing stretching action figures (like the Elongated Man figure...link not working) until they perfect that stretching technology. You know, like Stretch Armstong, but on a scale suited to 7-inch action figures.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Happy Easter! 

Thor #303 (Marvel Comics, Jan 1981) - cover by Mike Zeck

The story ("The Miracle of Storms" by Doug Moench, Rick Leonardi, and Chic Stone) opens with Thor witnessing an apparent mugging in process...he quickly moves into action, chasing off the assailants:

Thor tends to the victim, and discovers that said victim is a priest, in dire need of medical attention. Thor takes him to the priest's own church (presumably just nearby), whereupon he transforms back into his mortal identity, Dr. Don Blake. As Blake, he gives the priest the medical attention he needs...and when the priest revives, he tells Blake that those weren't muggers at all. In fact, they were enforcers for a local mobster -- Angelo Simoni...there's a joke in that last name somewhere -- trying to drive the priest out so that the church can be torn down and the land developed for Simoni's financial benefit.

The priest's faith is shaken, by the threats and by the church's own dwindling attendance, and believes that it would be better just to sell out to the mobster. He then tells Blake that, as he was reviving, he had believed the doctor to be a divine vision, to which Blake says:

Uh, right, Don, way to win the man's confidence. Anyhow, Blake splits, turns back into Thor, and tracks down the mobster that's been giving the good father such grief. Long story short, Thor trashes Simoni's place, extracting a promise from the mobster that he'll leave the priest alone. However, there's a complication...Simoni reveals "I already sent some guys to -- firebomb [the church]!"

Back at the church in question, the priest is giving some council in his office to a pregnant woman, apparently trying to talk her out of an abortion (really, I'm not kidding), when he hears some activity elsewhere in the building. As he investigates the bombs go off, enveloping the church in a raging conflagration. Driven outside by the flames, the priest realizes that he has left the pregnant woman behind, locked in his office...and he hasn't the courage to go back to rescue her. He kneels and begs God for strength, whereupon Thor arrives to work up a storm to squelch the fire. The priest looks up, sees Thor silhouetted by lightning and fire, and takes that for the divine sign he needed to get his butt back in the building to save that poor woman.

However, even with the flames now subdued by the rainstorm Thor created, the building begins to collapse upon itself. Trying to bring the woman to safety, a task made even more difficult by the injuries he sustained from his attack earlier, the priest finds himself threatened by the imminent collapse of a wall. Luckily, Thor arrives just in the nick of time:

Bracing the wall with the giant cross, the priest begins to wonder if he was worshipping the wrong god...to which Thor has this very politic reply:

Still bracing the wall, Thor extolls the priest to "save yourself, and the woman! You can! You have the faith! You have the strength! Go! Do it!" Despite his injuries, the priest finds the inner strength to lift up the woman and escape the ruined church.

Encouraged by his rediscovered faith, the priest swears to rebuild his church, though as the clean-up begins the next day he realizes it will take a miracle to obtain the sufficient funds for the repairs. Even as he ponders this, he receives a surprise visitor. It's the very mobster that tried to drive him out...Angelo Simoni!

Holding the bag of loot, which I'm sure the Feds wouldn't be interested in at all, the priest is left to wonder what could have caused this man to turn from his wicked ways. He then notices Thor on a nearby building overlooking the scene...and for the second time in this story, the priest takes a Norse god as a sign from his own Christian God that everything will be just fine.

And that, my friends, is your just slightly confusing religious message for the day. Happy Easter!

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