mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, October 02, 2004

So there I was, poking through issue #169 of Amazing Spider-Man (written by Len Wein, illustrated by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, from June 1977) when I spotted the following panel:

Okay, that's definitely your standard-issue mid-to-late-70s Stan Lee caricature, but what's with the careful attention to detail with those two kids? That seemed a little unusual.

Well, the answer to that is no farther away than this issue's letters column:

Say it with me: "SPIDER-MAN DANCE CONTEST." One can only imagine. The TV show Wonderama is recalled
on this page -- one of the reader-contributed memories mentions said contest. It appears that someone in a Spider-Man costume did "The Spider-Man Dance" on the show, and then the contest was to see which kid in the studio audience could best perform that same dance. Actually, the way the memory is actually phrased, one could infer that Stan Lee did the dance as well. I really, really hope Stan actually did do "The Spider-Man Dance." If that's wrong, I don't want to be right.

By the way, since some of you are probably wondering, here's a little more information re: Vera Valiant.

And what the heck, here's Stan the Man's very own Marvel Universe-style page.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Please, please, please tell me that the promo for next week's episode of Smallville -- the one apparently about "meteor rock"-enhanced cosmetic surgery -- was not blurbed with the phrase "KRYP/TUCK." And especially please tell me that the phrase wasn't in giant green letters.

Anyway, this week's episode was a little more focused than the season opener, as Clark, Lois, and eventually Lana all join in the search for the formerly presumed-dead and now just presumed-missing Chloe. We also get some closure (maybe) on the Lionel Luthor arc from last season. I do call a big "no way" on Lois digging up her cousin's grave in broad daylight without being noticed, however. But we do begin to get a feel for how a relationship between the brash Lois and the usually reserved Clark would actually work.

Oh and (big SPOILER) I also call "no way" on how Chloe survived. If my memory serves, didn't the house explode as soon as the front door shut? It didn't seem as if there was enough time for the escape scenario described in this episode to play out.

In other news:

Peter David says his upcoming storyline on Hulk will only be five issues long, unlike the usual six issues Marvel seems to insist on for eventual trade paperback reprinting. David will still do a sixth stand-alone story...so we'll get all six of those in a trade anyway, I'm sure. I particularly like this comment of his:
I could (pardon the expression) pad it out to six, but what's the point of that?

Gee, I can't think of any writers at Marvel who might be doing that. Can you?


Atlas Archives is a site devoted to the brief existence of the 1970s publisher. The Grim Ghost is a particular favorite of mine.


The Comic Treadmill looks at what must be one of the greatest records ever, "Songs & Stories About The Justice League of America."


I'm glad to see someone else has noticed the same problem I had with the last issue of Green Lantern...namely, Kyle just taking the bad guy at his word that Mom is fine and dandy. Did anyone even look at this script before it was published?


I don't really care what the new Sin City trade dress looks like, just so long as the books are available when people ask us for them, what with the interest in the movie and all. You know, just for a nice change of pace.

I'm not holding my breath, though. Yeah, I know what Dark Horse is claiming, but that smoke's been blown our way before.


Rick, who runs the fine and good weblog Eat More People, has voluntarily removed himself the Comics Update-A-Tron 3000 due to his reduction in funnybook-related content, but don't let that stop you from visiting! This month, he plans on discussing a different horror movie every day -- a worthwhile endeavor.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Fight Batman Fight! 

Via pal JP, an eBay auction for a poster for another unauthorized and completely insane Batman movie, right up there with James Batman, Batman Fights Dracula, and Alyas Batman and Robin.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

You like the new comics, hmmmmm?

  • One gets the feeling that Chuck Austen's run on JLA (which ended with today's release of #106) may have been better had it been cut down to, oh, say, one issue. This particular issue was slightly better than the previous parts, and did get an honest laugh out of me (Batman's line "I just have a way with children"), but boy, this storyline was near Marvel-esque in its eventual-trade-paperback-release padding.

  • Palookaville #17 is a very frustrating experience. It's the latest installment of the "Clyde Fans" storyline, and it's beautiful and brilliant, as each chapter has been previously, but the huge gap between issues is driving me crazy. Not quite as bad as, say, Charles Burns' Black Hole, but I wish I could get more than one issue a year.

  • Green Lantern #181 wraps up this iteration of the GL series in sort of a "blah" fashion. While it was nice to see Kyle get his revenge on longtime nemesis Major Force, some plot points sort of bother me. Yeah, I'm gonna have SPOILERS, so skip or deal, mister. Okay, first, I didn't buy that Kyle would just hand over his ring to MF* -- seems a little out of character. And second, Major Force is a killer, who had murdered Kyle's girlfriend way back when...is Kyle really taking MF's word that he didn't kill Kyle's mom? What the...? And after all is said and done, Kyle never bothers to check on Ma and make sure she's okay, and just zips off into space? Sheesh.

  • DC: The New Frontier #6 wraps up this heavily 1960s-flavored series with a final battle against the giant walking-island alien monster thingy. Yeah, it sounds stupid, but it's a good excuse to get all the classic DC heroes together, and when it all looks this pretty, you don't worry too much about the plot contrivances. There's a stunning two-page spread featuring all the heroes going off to battle...it's a scene right out of every 90s action movie, where the group of heroes are walking side-by-side toward the camera in slow motion...you know, that scene, the one we're all sick of seeing by now. Well, there's one of those in this comic (only without the whole "slow-motion" part) and it looks great. And the epilogue on this comic is something else...a variety of snapshot images of DC's Silver Age, presented with a speech on the New Frontier by President Kennedy. A nice ending to an enjoyable book.

  • Adam Strange #1 - this must be the week for purty comics, because this one is absolutely stunning. Even if you're not an Adam Strange fan, you gotta pop open this book and take a gander. Another thing I enjoy about Adam Strange -- not just in this book, but in most of his recent appearances -- every time he's on Earth and he's trying to explain to someone other than another superhero about his space adventures, he's treated like he's nuts. It's a cheap joke, but still funny. Yeah, I'm easily amused.

  • I only get two comics-related magazines on a regular basis: The Comics Journal, which I've been reading for well over twenty years now, and Alter Ego, which generally has enough material of interest in each issue to keep me picking it up every month (though it feels like it's been biweekly lately). There's a lot of stuff packed into each of these magazines, and the older I get, the less time I seem to have to devote to reading them. Basically, I'm saying that I have a high resistance to picking up yet another comics magazine. However Back Issue #6 got me today, with their Halloween issue containing -- you probably guessed it -- articles on Swamp Thing. Gosh dang it! Features interviews with Swampy's creators Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, plus Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch, and even a discussion of who came first, Swampy or Man-Thing. Also, I've learned in this magazine that there exists a 1984 promotional videotape from DC, featuring Alan Moore discussing his work on Swamp Thing. We've gotta have one of those around the back room of the store somewhere....

  • Also picked up today: Hellblazer #200 (nice to see Steve Dillon on the book again, even if just for this special issue; comic now has the logo that emphasizes "Constantine," which will probably disappear once the Constantine movie finishes its run); Luba's Comics and Stories #5 (Gilbert Hernandez continues to do that voodoo he does so well...for some reason, the "ALL NEW!" on the cover really tickles me); Superman #209 (we've had about three issues' worth of story in 10...but give me a national monument come to life to attack Superman, as in this issue, and much will be forgiven); and the Dark Horse Comics Halloween mini-comic (reprinting "Stray" by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson from the Dark Horse Book of Hauntings).

  • Also arrived today: Superman: Man of Tomorrow Archives Vol. 1 (which I might have picked up if I weren't broker than a broke thing that's broke), more Classics Illustrated Junior reprints (I wonder if anybody other than Classics Illustrated collectors are buying these? Kids won't touch 'em in our store), Captain Canuck: Unholy War #1 (what? Again? I remember the last time they tried to revive Captain Canuck...didn't really go over too well then), Challengers of the Unknown Must Die trade paperback (I really liked this mini-series...and this looks like a nicely-packaged collection), and Tarot Witch of the Black Rose #28 (I'm not asking this to be critical, or to hold anyone up for ridicule, or anything like that...I'm honestly curious: if you like this comic, why do you like this comic? What is it about this comic that makes you buy it every month?**)

  • Not arrived today: Superman/Batman #12, which is a no-show to stores serviced by Diamond's Los Angeles warehouse. Well, we've all waited, what, two months? What's another week?

In other news:

New theory on the Identity Crisis killer, hashed out with
pal Corey: Bat-Mite! Who else could get past all the security equipment? And how does he benefit? By putting together a mystery that only his hero Batman can solve! See, it all fits!

Wow! Ed cuts to the chase about the perceived direct correlation between the low quality of certain comics and articles written about same.

In 1978, a young Will Pfeiffer, inspired by the recently-released Star Wars, creates his own comic book: Space Force Frog!

* For some reason, "Major Force" strikes me as a really dumb name, and I don't want to type it any more.

** Of course, people can ask me the same thing about Liberty Meadows.

More racial sensitivity in comic books. 

Big Chief Wahoo #7 (Winter 1943/44?)

Man, early comic books were always sticking it to our Native American friends. Though, given how comics also treated Blacks and Asians, I suppose no one should be terribly surprised. At least in this instance Big Chief Wahoo was the star of the strip, but was still saddled with stereotypical Indian dialogue ("ugh" and "how" and "-um"s).

Lots more information on this remarkably non-politically correct character can be found at the excellent Toonopedia. This comic book is actually a collection of reprints of a comic strip, and as much as I like old strips, I am woefully uninformed regarding them. Therefore, it comes as a surprise to learn in that Toonopedia article that the Big Chief Wahoo strip, which was originally The Great Gusto, eventually became Steve Roper and Mike Nomad!

And, just for the heck of it, here are some Big Chief Wahoo gum packages.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Sir Links-a-lot. 

Via pal JP - Superhero Food Commercials! The Hawkman commercial is still a favorite of mine.

Spotted in The Sock Drawer - some slightly better cast pictures from the Fantastic Four movie. They'd better tape up the Thing's left wrist...ouch! And the more I think about it, the more I wonder how they're going to get away with Mr. Fantastic's stretching power without the movie being laughed off the screen. Hoo boy.

This fellow has gone through DC's Who's Who series issue by issue, with commentary...starts here, continues here, here, here, here, and I'll let you seek out the other entries. He also did the first five issues of the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe here, here, here, here, and here (he completely has the right attitude about Galactus).

A website chock full of X-Men fan art and fan fiction...Disco Dazzler is my favorite, and the "Rogue KISS Doll" page hurts my head. There's oh so much more, but it'll feel like I'm picking on people if I keep pointing things out. Oh, and apparently X-Day is officially celebrated on September 23rd...I'd better get out my "Happy Belated X-Day" cards.

Milo George has reached Part the Hundredth of that darn Last Road Home. Somehow this has something to do with Endemic Treponematosis.

In the world of the Associated Comics And Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA And Outlying Environs*, Pal Ian continues his look at the work of Howard Chaykin, this time focusing on Blackhawk, pal Corey has discovered a possible connection between the Hulk's Leader and our own Fearless Leader, pal Dorian has a brief look at what is and is not selling at our shop (and also wishes boyfriend Pete a happy birthday -- happy birthday, Peter!), pal Tom is watching TV until his eyeballs fall out, and pal Sean is on semi-hiatus as his impending marriage...um, impends, I guess.

Speaking of me and my pals, it appears that Yoko Ono is currently getting more votes than our little band of misfits in that "Who's the Identity Crisis Killer?" poll on The Comic Treadmill. Ahem.

* As always, ACAPCWOVCCAOE for short.

Monday, September 27, 2004

What can you really say about the Swamp Thing puzzle (from
RoseArt, a company that's gone on to license slightly more profitable characters)? It's got a hundred "fully interlocking" pieces (I know I'd be pretty steamed if none of the pieces fit together), and you get that great picture you see on the box lid once you've assembled it. (And before you ask...yes, I once spent about 15 minutes or so assembling the puzzle. I'm a lonely, lonely man.) I'm fairly certain that not once in the comic did Swamp Thing fire a weapon even remotely like that, um, log-lasso cannon-thing. And I'm sure giving the Native American chararacter (who's already saddled with the name "Tomahawk") a giant crossbow-gun that shoots huge Indian arrowheads isn't demeaning at all.

The Swamp Thing Colorfo...er, "Presto Magix" set (also from RoseArt) lets kids create their own exciting Swamp Thing adventures with a whole seven different Colorf plastic removeable stickers. Now, I don't really see the potential for a whole lot of exciting adventures in combining the stickers they give you:

Quite frankly, they all look like they're dancing. That Swampy in the lower left corner is "raising the roof" or something, as you kids say.

Here's the equally-exciting background:

Ah, yes, the ever-popular "Romantic Swampland at Dusk" setting, certain to fire children's imaginations with visions of action and derring-do. However, maybe I'm being a little hard on the "Presto-Magix" set...when I was a kid, one of my favorite toys was the Evel Knievel Colorforms set, and I played with that thing until it fell apart. Maybe I'm too old to appreciate the play-potential for the Swamp Thing Presto-Magix set.

But then again, just look at the Evel Knievel Colorforms:

(image totally stolen from this eBay auction)

That thing comes with a ton more stickers, with a lot more variety...you could have Evel completely dismembered, flaming pieces strewn across the track in the aftermath of some horrible motorcycle-stunt mishap! (Er...not that I ever did that.) What does the Swamp Thing set get you? A bunch of characters waving their hands around and pointing things at each other. Feh...today's (well, 1991's) kids got rooked.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

you demanded it:

Mighty Mouse #10 (July 1991)

In case you can't see it...that's "Late Night with David Udderman."

You can see the Mighty Mouse Crisis on Infinite Earths tribute cover here...it's from the Homages page at the excellent George Perez fan site.

Ack! No new Justice League Unlimited last night! But I did finally see, thanks to the
Netflix, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, the latest installment in the Batman: The Animated Series feature-length (well, 75 minutes, anyway) films. The animation was nice and clear, if not very smooth...near the beginning, the character of Kathy Duquesne is shown with a hip-wiggling walk that's supposed to be sexy, but looks more like her legs are out of joint. Plus, there are some scenes where the action sequences look more like you're watching a flip-book. And is every road in Gotham City elevated? Otherwise, the actual "mystery" of the Batwoman is played out nicely, with a twist that I half-suspected at the beginning, didn't think they'd do, then was surprised when they did it anyway. The villains of the piece (the Penguin, Rupert Thorne, and an arrival later in the film) don't exactly inspire a lot of interest, though I suppose they can't draw from the Joker well every time. And it was nice to hear David Odgen Stiers as the Penguin.

One of the bonus features is the much-praised short "Chase Me," which focuses on what Bruce Wayne would rather be doing instead of being trapped at some socialite gathering: chasing Catwoman through the streets of Gotham. The gimmick is that there is no dialogue or sound effects...the only soundtrack is a musical accompaniment, which is quite effective. You can see some screen grabs from the short here.

Overall -- heck, worth a rental.

In other news:

  • H at The Comic Treadmill has posted a theory on who he believes may be the killer in Identity Crisis...and makes a convincing argument. More convincing than Nightwing, for goodness' sake. Plus, upon rereading...I don't see anything that would really contradict this guess...and the killer standing in the shadows on page 14 does bear a passing resemblance to the character in question, given that he does appear to be drawn as being a little heavier-set now.)

    Also, Comic Treadmill has put up a new poll asking who you think is the mystery killer in Identity Crisis. One option is we members of the Associated Comics And Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County California And Outlying Environs (which is, as always, ACAPCWOVCCAOE for short)...so of course, that's the one I voted for, and far be it for me to perhaps suggest that others do the same, if you know what's good for you. I mean, at least get us more votes than Yoko Ono!

  • Speaking of Identity Crisis and the ACAPCWOVCCAOE, pal Dorian shows up Meltzer (and Marz, for that matter) for the pikers they are.

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