mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Morning Miscellany. 

Okay, I've been kinda slacking off on this site the last couple of days, what with Christmas shenanigans and all. But there are a couple of things I wanted to note.

First, there's a good gag in the latest issue of Mad Magazine (#461) in their "Graphic Novel Review" section:

"Small wonder that The Thoroughly Updated, All-Inclusive Handbook to the Marvel Universe became the #1 comic in the United States, reportedly selling more than 14,000 copies per month."

Actually, that may be more sad than funny, come to think of it.

Next, there's an interview with Polite Scott of Polite Dissent fame, and, amidst his thoughtful comments, he was nice enough to say a kind word or two about me as well. Aw, shucks.

So long as I'm throwing out links to weblogs, check out the mighty Mr. Dan Kelly, who has started a brand new weblog at that very hyperlink. He's a swell guy, a good writer, and a sex machine. Er, so I've heard.

As for the funnybooks...some of you folks might remember how Beaucoup Kevin said the Martian Manhunter "totally owned" in JLA Classified #14? Well, I looked at the first few pages of next week's #15, and this time it is Superman with the ownage. Good stuff, sez I.

While on the subject of Swamp Thing (shut up, I'm sure I've talked about Swamp Thing sometime recently), where's that TwoMorrows Swampmen book? Wasn't it supposed to come out October/November-ish? (Actually, just checked...it's been delayed again. AAAAARGH!)

And here...one last comic news story in the "real world" press before Christmas:

"INFINITE CRISES - How will the DC Comics universe adjust to its own war without end?"

"It does reflect our times, but Infinite Crisis isn't some thinly veiled antiwar polemic - it's entertainment, designed to clean DC's house, and, of course, to boost its bottom line with endless spinoffs and aftermath tales to come."

So there you go. I hope everyone has a nice holiday, where applicable.



Friday, December 23, 2005

POW! ZAP! BAM! More comic news! 

"Catalan legislators debate Superman's politics"

"Miralles's report, titled 'Why Superman is Right-Wing,' argued that Superman represents 'a superior, transcendent being that comes to the world to save a humanity incapable of collectively facing its needs, rights, and challenges.' It added that Superman 'is defined as a very superior man to others, a prototype of sexism because he plays the role of the protector of women,' and claimed that Superman represents 'individualism,' because he acts in individual and not collective cases."

"Spider-Man Returns to Newspapers in '06"

"News America Marketing and Marvel Entertainment are teaming up to distribute collectible editions of 'Amazing Spider-Man' in Sunday papers beginning in late summer 2006."


"The circulation for the Spider-Man series will be 10 million across metro markets."


"At $99.99, this hefty hardcover is probably not for the casual comics fan, but the hard-core geek on your Christmas list would most likely be delighted to find one under the tree."

SPECIAL BONUS LINK: A review of Alyas Batman and Robin, an absolutely fantastic movie I was able to see thanks to pal JP. It's only the best Batman muscial from the Philippines you'll ever see!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I'm a jerk; website maintenance; new comics day; the End of Civilization. 

Totally unfair comment made while breaking down the comics order Wednesday morning, in 3...2...

"Wow, this must be 'failing comic companies' week!"

Yeah, I know, but it's best that I get this stuff out of my system before we open.

Well, as promised, I began trimming the sidebar, removing weblogs that haven't been updated in a while. By "in a while," I mean since before November. The one exception is the mighty Ringwood, whose semi-monthly pronouncements must not be missed.

I also added a couple new quotes to that rotating quote-o-tron, in case you were interested.

Well, new comics day was a real bear this time around, with about a bazillion new funnybooks unleashed upon the market. Well, maybe not that many, but there sure were a lot of indies that came out, and it was taking me forever to get everything in order and on the shelves. Having about a dozen different covers apiece for all the new Avatar books didn't help matters any.

Speaking of Avatar, the Jason X comic (based on the finest movie in the Friday the 13th-inspired series) contained the panel of the week! To wit:

Hey, you and me both, friend. And, yeah, I added the black bar. I'm a big 'ol prude.

Also new this week was Infinite Crisis #3, and I just have one question...how did the kryptonite ring go from this (its first appearance in Superman #2 from 1987):

...to this, in the new Infinite Crisis?

It's basically gone from a polished stone in a setting, to a jagged rock glued to a band, apparently. And yes, it's supposed to be the same ring that's been a plot point since almost the very beginning of the Superman revamp. Did I miss something somewhere?

Speaking of IC, I was half-right, in the same way I was half-right about Identity Crisis. Both those links can be spoiler-y, if you don't want any hints (or half-hints) as to how either story works out.

Just in time for Christmas...bust out your Diamond Previews for once again, Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization. (Previous installments: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10)

p. 125 - Batman Utility Belt Replica: "...Designed for display only, and is not meant to be worn." Okay, the darn thing is $350, and you can't jigger the thing so people could actually wear it? It's a safe bet the kind of people who are going to drop 350 bones on this thing are likely also to be the kind of people who'd wear a replica Batman belt. Why not make them happy? (Reminds me of the old Transmetropolitan prop glasses that, as I recall, also had the same "not for wearing" notice. And yet, whenever I've seen them since they've been released, it's because someone's worn them into the store.)

p. 165 - The Simpsons "Ironic Punishment" Deluxe Boxed Set: McFarlane Toys have really outdone themselves, with a grotesquely fat (well, fatter) Homer being force-fed donuts by a demon. "Turn the crank handle and the donuts fall right into Homer's mouth, then drop out behind chair for re-stacking." Ewwwwwwwww.

p. 187 - Marvel Milestones: Frank Miller's Daredevil Statue: Marvel continues to drop its pants and relieve itself all over Miller's Daredevil work with a reproduction of the cover scene where DD is in despair, hugging the gravestone of Elektra, back before she'd been revived and misused and overused to the point of stripping away anything special that the character had. I suppose Elektra's grave may now be read as a metaphor for the character's current commercial value. Only $150.00.

p.188-9 - Marvel Minimates Darktide DVD Box Set: You read that right. It's a box of X-men Minimates that comes with a DVD, featuring a "full-length [computer] animated adventure - starring all-new 3-D X-Men Minimates." Will almost certainly be better than X-Men 3.

p. 270 - Civilization must exist just a short time longer, so we can get Runaway Comics #1 by Mark Martin. Sight unseen, I am recommending this comic. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.

Now back to the End of Civilization, already in progress....

p. 408 - John Lennon 18-Inch Talking Figure: Must resist offensive joke...must resist offensive joke....

p. 428 - Okay, so I want the Super Skrull Mini-Bust. We all have our weaknesses.

p. 428, again - Emily the Strange "Emily Rocks" Bust - "Cynical marketing scheme sense, tingling!"

p.430 - Star Wars Clone Wars Yoda Monument:

"Youngling not included." Oh, those cards.

p. 445 - Ghost Rider by Andrew Robinson Signed Lithograph: Well, you can get it now for $99.99 (unframed) or $149.99 (framed), or wait for the close-out sales after the movie is released.

p. 450 - Kurt Cobain Tin Lunchbox with Drink Container: "Kurt Cobain is immortalized on this full-size collectible tin lunchbox." That's a sentence I don't think anyone was ever expecting to read.

A special bonus link I left off yesterday's Mirror Master post: Earth-349: The Flash. Warning: dirty.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Reflecting upon the Mirror Master. 

Brief bios for both the original Silver Age Mirror Master and the current version.

A chronological list of appearances of Mirror Master I.

Another chronology, with a few more details on events in each issue, plus reprints.

The Wikipedia entry.

Another index, listing appearances of Mirror Master II in comics that also feature Superman.

Hostess Fruit Pies create a conflict between Mirror Master and Green Lantern.

Fred Hembeck takes on MM.

Mirror Master's stats for the original Marvel Super-Heroes Role Playing Game can be found here (along with several other DC bad guys).

"Can someone tell me how [Mirror Master's powers] work?" "Science. They work by Science."

The Professor Zoom/Mirror Master Pocket Heroes two-pack.

An image of David Cassidy playing the Mirror Master from the short-lived Flash TV show can be found here.

A roundtable review of Flash #212, which focused on Mirror Master II.

Mirror Master is referenced on this page discussing hypnosis in Flash comics.

A review of the DC Direct Mirror Master figure, with bonus Captain Cold review!

Here's another review of the action figure: "...A dust catching peg warmer at its worst." Ouch.

A custom figure in the "animated" style.

"Angel's Wesley to Play Mirror Master."

The Mirror Master CCG card.

Mirror Master Micro-heroes. Egads.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sometimes auctions on the eBay raise more questions than they answer. 

"The best comic lot youll find on ebay..Must look"

"You are bidding on 36 aweasom comics...Mainly superman but 2 wonder woman...Most the comics are from when they were 12 cent to 25 cents and also the superman comics have the complete series of death and rebord still in orginal wrapping.....

Wonder woman 164,165

Superman 15 still in package,11,12,13,687,75.501,SUperman back from dead still in white cover package,687,500,superboy 1,78,Death of superman still in black cover package,200,198,191,203,jimmy olsen 95,. Action Comics 353,Action comics 413,Action comics 403,501,22 still in orginal package,687 in orginal package,78 still in orginal package,500,86,78,22,196,78,189,22

Theese comics are worth tons ecspecially the ones in the orginal packages never been opened...If any ?s emial me...

If you look theese comics up in a price guide you will clearly see there worth lots of money..I didnt post any pictures cause im kinda broke and it cost money 2 to post em plus i dont know how to...Email me with any ?s and prices are negotionable"

"Swamp Thing"

"Starting bid: US $350.00

Buy It Now price: US $600.00 (immediate payment required)


Shipping costs: US $30.00 -- Standard Flat Rate Shipping Service"

Blogging about blogging is a sin. 

Just to be clear about last night's post...I'm not down on people talking about Lois Lane #106. I'm just saying that, since so many other people have discussed it already, I don't think I have anything to add. (Though this is like the, what, fourth? post I've made saying "I have nothing to say about 'I Am Curious (Black)?'" The irony isn't lost on me.)

Anyway, speaking of this site, I'm probably going to do a significant amount of trimming of the weblogs listed in that sidebar over there. Quite a few of them haven't updated in several months, so they're the ones that are going to go. If you're on the sidebar, haven't updated in a while but plan on returning soon, and just happen to be reading this, drop me a line and let me know not to delink you.

I'll probably drop off the ones marked "(ret.)" as well, so bookmark 'em now if you haven't already. In particular, make sure you keep Grotesque Anatomy and Flat Earth in your favorites...they were tops in my book, and still remain good resources for us folks what like the funnybooks. (According to my referral logs, I still get traffic from Grotesque Anatomy, and that site's been defunct for over a year!)

Oh, crud, I think I just convinced myself not to cut them from the sidebar. Feh. This is going to be harder than I thought.

Just so it's not all about the weblogging...did anyone else prefer the Captain Carrot segments in Teen Titans #30 to the actual Teen Titans story? The Captain Carrot thing has me genuinely interested in what's going to happen next. Maybe, if we're lucky, if we're all good boys and girls, we'll get another Captain Carrot comic on the stands. Or, at least, a trade of the original.

Here's another comic collector profile, this time a doctor in Nebraska...hope you have a tolerance for a lot of single-sentence paragraphs in a row.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"It's important that I live the ne...." Oh, forget it. 

Like I've said before, I get frequent requests to cover Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #106, the infamous "I Am Curious (Black)" story. The reason I don't is that I'm reasonably sure it's had enough coverage on the internet already.

For my money, Polite Dissent's coverage is tops. Surely no more discussion is necessary.

But if you do get a chance to buy this comic, you must. It's absolutely fantastic. The best thirty cents I've ever spent on a back issue, I daresay.

In other news:

Here's an article wondering why Oscar-winning actresses follow up their award-winning movies with crap...comic book movies get special mention. (via Robot Wisdom)

Free samples. 

I miss these old DC Sampler books...they were basically just ads for DC's upcoming comics, but the ads were, for the most part, two or three page splash images featuring illustrations, and sometimes even very brief stories, by the various creative teams that don't appear anywhere else, far as I know.

DC Sampler #1 (1983) has, for example, a two page All-Star Squadron splash by Jerry Ordway, with full-on Golden Age superhero versus Golden Age villain mayhem, a Jim Aparo Batman & the Outsiders versus the Joker sequence, and a cute Legion of Super-Heroes ad revisiting old DC logos:

Another highlight of the first DC Sampler was the war book ad, featuring the creative teams being lined up for a firing squad! Here's the second page, with a great Joe Kubert shot of Rock and Easy Company:

DC Sampler #2 (September 1984) kicks off with a three-page ad for Atari Force, illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. This is also the comic where the Alan Moore "this is the place" text piece advertising his work on Saga of the Swamp Thing ran. An image by Steve Bissette and John Totleben of a swamp accompanied the piece, and Swamp Thing himself doesn't appear in it...or does he? It's been twenty years since I first looked at this picture and wondered if Swamp Thing is hidden in it somewhere, and I'm still not convinced he isn't in it. (A longer version of the text piece later ran in one of DC's "Meanwhile..." editorial columns.)

This issue also had a cartoon on the inner covers by none other than Fred Hembeck, with Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White discussing DC's coming comics:

So remember a while back when I was complaining about DC's flexographic printing process? Well, DC Sampler #3 (1984) may very well be the worst example of it...a few pages in this book are so garish and off-register you don't even want to look at them. Thankfully, Fred Hembeck's wraparound cover is unblemished by this process.

This issue begins with a three-page Swamp Thing preview by Moore, Bissette, and Totleben, with a very short (like, three panels) retelling of his origin, and some nice images of Arcane, the Demon, John Constantine and Abby. Thankfully, the flexographic process didn't do to much damage to this piece.

Also contained in this issue are a couple longish text previews...the one for Atari Force is particularly interesting, as it's Mike Baron providing brief character sketches for the entire cast (accompanied by panels from the comic...no new art for this preview, unfortunately). The last page of the comic is a full-page splash of Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt by Dick Giordano, while an uncredited text piece plugging this comic takes up the inside back cover.

I think I've mentioned on the site before (though I couldn't find it) that one of (if not the) original logo for Crisis on Infinite Earths ran in this comic...here it is again, in case you haven't seen it before:

The "Batman and the Outsiders Primer" by Mike Barr and Jim Aparo is amusing, featuring rhymes for the various characters. A slightly disturbing example:

This comic also provides a brief glimpse of a new superhero character that was to be introduced in the pages of Green Lantern, until creative team shifts curtailed the project:

And the name of this character?

Just think, if DC ever actually went through with this character at the time, we'd most likely know Image Comics by a different name now.

(This post was originally going to be a longer examination of The Image's genesis and non-appearance, but after I'd finished composing my entry, a Google search found Bob Rozakis explaining the whole thing a lot more succinctly than I would have.)

Anyway, these DC Samplers are worth tracking down...I don't believe they're terribly hard to find, and they should be cheap when you do find them. I know DC did a couple other similar promo books after the end of the Samplers, but they're not quite as nostalgia-inducing...at least for me!

EDIT: Jim from Double Articulation was nice enough to point me in the direction of this webpage, which has a full scan of DC Sampler #2.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

More Sunday fun for everyone. Well, me, anyway. 

Just for reference, here are the arrival dates (straight from our in-store cycle sheets) of all five issues of Marvel's recently completed Secret War mini-series. Keep in mind, it was supposed to be a quarterly.

#1 - 2/11/04

#2 - 5/26/04

#3 - 10/13/04

#4 - 3/30/05

#5 - 12/14/05

On a related note (well, except for the "good" part):

"Lately, every good tale comes with a missed deadline"

"Several years ago, Marvel Comics started hiring high-profile writers from other media to write stories for their top characters. While the idea was good in theory, some writers seem to have too much on their plate to devote their full attention to a monthly comic book."

Your out-of-context cover blurb for the day (from Avengers #138, pointed out to me by employee Nathan):

Some Sunday fun for everyone. 

I hadn't realized this, until I saw it in Steven Grant's column (pointed out to me by Neilalien), but are retailers really complaining that Warren Ellis' Fell is too cheap, that it really should be $2.99? Speaking as a seller of funnybooks, I think having a $1.99 comic that's actually good is just dandy, particularly one by a writer with a significant amount of material in the marketplace. I use it as an inexpensive sampler book for people who want to try some of Ellis' work but don't want to dish out for the cost of one of his trade paperbacks. On the flip side of this, I have several customers who only buy trade paperbacks of Ellis' work, but buy Fell because it's only two freakin' bucks.

I don't know, maybe I'm totally out of line, but I'd rather have a $1.99 book on the shelf that actually sells, rather than a boatload of, say, $2.99 reprints of Marvel books that really didn't need reprinting sitting around and gathering dust.

The Absorbascon discusses the Red Bee. I've always loved the Red Bee. He's a superhero who had a trained bee (named Michael!) that he kept in his beltbuckle. Fantastic.

H names me as the Mightest Comic Book Weblogger EVER. Well, not really, but he put me in his Top Ten, and I'm grateful. Thanks, H!

And now, some words of wisdom from Little Lulu:

Well said, Miss Moppet, well said.

(Found a sample Little Lulu story online...if you haven't read any Lulu before, check it out!)

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