mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Cuts to die for. 

So, as promised yesterday, here are the die-cut Avatar horror comic covers I was telling you about. This first one is what commenter Michael called the "Hanging Chad" variant of Nightmare on Elm Street: Paranoid...those big black spots are the pieces that were supposed to be removed before distribution, revealing Freddy "slashing through" the cover:

And just because this cracked me up, here's the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Grind die-cut cover:

I'm sure the great state of Texas couldn't be more proud.

Friday, July 07, 2006

New Comics Day. But first...the taste of the whip. 

So pal Dorian was giving me a wee bit of grief over my bringing up Snakes on a Plane the other day. I let him know that I had to bring it up again, because there's a novelization, for God's sake!

At that point, Dor tells me that it's a novelization by "a bondage model."

Wha--? No way, dude, I sez. It's gotta be a coincidence...it just so happens that the author of the Snakes on a Plane novelization has the same name as the model, right?

Nope...Dor speaks truth.

Is there anything associated with this movie that isn't 100% fantastic?

Okay, new comics day:

Tom Spurgeon linked to Brian Hibbs' mad-on for Avatar this week, and I have to agree. It's bad enough when Marvel pumps out a half-dozen or more X-books in the same week, but those generally will still sell, eventually. When Avatar cranks out multiple issues of all their licensed horror titles, including two consecutive issues of the same series (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Grind #2 and #3), all of which have multiple covers, that's gonna impact sales to a fanbase that hasn't quite decided that they want to follow these comics. "Too much to follow, forget it" has killed more than one franchise and/or company.

That said, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre comic that has the die-cut hole on the cover in the shape of Texas (with Leatherface peekin' out) is pretty swell. And our die-cut cover variant of Nightmare on Elm Street still had all the bits that were supposed to be cut out still just barely attached in the holes. "RARE UNPUNCHED DIE-CUT VARIANT H@T CGC SEXY NO RESERVE - opening bid $1,000." Anyway, should have scanned it, sorry. Maybe I'll have it up this weekend for all to enjoy.

The second series of the Crisis on Infinite Earths action figures are out, and, being the sad old fanboy that I am, I need an Earth-2 Superman to add to my Justice Society set. The Flash figure comes with an extra orgasm-face (that sample at the DC site looks all withered and pained...in real life, it just looks like the Flash is shouting at somebody), and Armor-suit Luthor comes with no peripheral vision whatsoever. You know, I never really thought about that before...I think seeing an actual 3-D representation of Lex in that armor finally drove it home.

You know, I totally forgot that the new Hate Annual was due. And I laughed out loud in the shop when I realized that was Stinky's body on the cover. Yes, I laughed. I'm not really a very nice person.

Couple new Boom! Studios books out this week: I was intrigued by Talent's first issue, but this second issue really drove the concept home for me. Nick survives a plane crash, only to discover that not only has he somehow acquired the skills and knowledge of the crash victims, he finds himself driven to take care of their unfinished business. It's a great idea that really lends itself to an ongoing series, particularly when the fantastic elements of series' premise find themselves butting up against some more down-to-earth investigators (who find Nick's odd behavior clearly indicates criminal activity) and the brutally-violent methods of the mysterious group that wishes to control him. Compelling and suspenseful reading.

War of the Worlds: Second Wave #4 continues the fun movie serial/cliffhanger-style adventure, as Miles and his band of survivors find themselves facing one obstacle after another, some from within their own group. Keeping the aliens offstage this issue (beyond a dead ship and some aliens looming off in the distance) add to the feeling of impending menace. It's a fun series, with a slowly-increasing cast of unique personalities, that would appeal to anyone who enjoys the similarly-constructed Walking Dead series.

Licensable Bear™ #3 from Nat Gertler and About Comics is unleashed upon the world this week. Now, I know Nat, so I might be a bit biased, but Licensable Bear™ never fails to amuse. He's just a cute little bear who wants his image to be put on every kind of product and/or service possible, and the stories center around his continuing efforts. His licensability is even a superpower of sorts, as he comes to the aid of a gay couple in "Licensable Bear™ Forms A Union." Funny and witty, and Licensable Bear™ is cute as all get out.

Had at least one person ask if the new issue of Jonah Hex (#9) was a reprint, since the black and white image (with some red spot-coloring) looks somewhat similar to the "sketch" covered second or third printings both Marvel and DC have done recently.

In other news:

Linkable Laura notes that a single-issue version of Girl Genius #14 should soon be available via a print-on-demand service. That'll be good news to my many customers (hi, Rob!) who were pretty ticked at the prospect of buying a full trade paperback reprinting three issues they already had just to get the 1/4 of the book that was new. I like the Girl Genius comic and online strip, I understand the economic reasons for going away from single-issue publishing to trades-only, but that "missing issue #14" thing really turned off a lot of folks at our shop. I'm glad this is finally being addressed.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


"Comic book characters defy stereotypes"

"POW! Take that, racism. And - WHACK! - take that, homophobia. And - THOOM! KER-THWACK! KRUMMMMM! - take that, gender stereotyping, cultural bias and religious intolerance."

Rundown of racially/sexually diverse characters at Marvel and DC, including the "already vanished without a trace in the U.S." Spider-Man India.

"Superheroes aren't gay"
"Superheroes aren't gay, but guardians of the innocent as well as advocates of peace. They fight to set the wrong things right in the name of justice. They will not stop until evil is rooted out-- and all will be good in the world."

I don't think this person has really thought through what he was trying to say. I think he was trying to get across that superheroic responsibilities are the primary identifiable characteristic of superheroes, not their sexual preferences. But that contrast I quoted above -- "heroes aren't gay, they're good people who fight for right" -- well, that's just unfortunate.

Not much to do with comics, but everything to do with greatness. 

Now, you folks do realize that the official novelization for Snakes on a Plane is currently out in stores?

Here's a peek inside:

Both of those images are totally stolen from the Amazon page for this item...the larger version of the second photo above reveals that the author was also responsible for the novelizations of all three Final Destination flicks.

Nothing but five-star reviews for the book so far. A sample:

"Heart stopping action with snakes, and a plane! This is book had a life changing effect on me. I learned to love mother natures little helpers, but not if they are on a plane. You have to get the mother freakings snakes off the plane."

Yes, it's big print/wide margins ahoy (EDIT: I've since had a second look, and the margins aren't as wide as I remembered them being - my mistake!), but the only thing better than living in a world that allows the production of a movie called Snakes on a Plane is a world that allows for a novelization of said movie.

Just out of curiosity, I Googled up my first mention of Snakes on a Plane on this site, which was September 9th of last year. That's only a couple weeks after this weblog post which the Wikipedia article singles out as one of the prime instigators of Snakes on a Plane-mania. So hopefully this puts me in the category of "early adopter!"

For more info, may I suggest Snakes on a Blog?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'll stop talking about Superman Returns eventually, I promise. 

Now don't get me wrong...I love John Williams' score for the original Superman movie. I bought the two-record set when I was a kid (or I got it for Christmas, more likely), and I've since bought the expanded CD release. I honestly don't know if there's a piece of music that more says "Superman" than Williams' theme.

However, something about the use of that music in Superman Returns slightly rubbed me the wrong way, and at the time, I couldn't quite put my finger on why that would be. I was fine with the theme playing over the opening credits, because that was a particularly fun sequence, and it was nice to hear it booming through theatre speakers again.

But during the action of the film itself, whenever the theme played, it just seemed slightly...out of place. Now that I've had some time to reflect on the movie, I think my particular issue is that Williams' heroic, bombastic, and more innocent theme seemed at odds with the more somber and reflective story that Superman Returns presented. Even during the more traditional superheroic scenes, it felt a little tacked on: "See, Superman's being a hero, you can tell by our use of the Williams theme! Look how heroic he is!"

To be fair, the Williams theme did occasionally pop up here and there throughout the new film's soundtrack with a more downbeat arrangement, which I thought was quite effective and fit nicely with the overall tone of the movie.

Again, and let me emphasize this, it's a very minor nitpick. I'm not fuming over this like someone on the DC Forums: "How dare they sully the greatness of the John Williams theme by attaching it to this travesty" -- you know, like that. It was just a thought that occurred to me, and thought I'd share it with you kind and understanding folks.

I think I really need to see this movie again to more fully pin down my thoughts and feelings about this flick. I'm sure it'll be out on DVD in six months (or less), so maybe I'll revisit it then.

In the meantime, let's make fun of people:

Here's a quote from an Amazon review of Superman Returns: The Official Movie Guide:

"Boring and misinforming

"This is among the worst movie tie in books ever. To put it mildly, the script looks awful, the film photos speak volumes of how cheap Singer made the movie, and how stupid DC Comics is for letting Warners call all the shots in the film making process.


This isn't Superman Returns, but I haven't yet met my quota for mentions of the "Death of Superman" storyline lately, so I thought I'd quote from some of Amazon.com's reviews for said book:

"Much worse than the myths perpetuated by Dan Brown with his now infamous allegedly factual-based novel DA VINCI CODE did for the profanity of creating myths behind the myths alleged to Christ and Mary of Magdala -- DC Comics did with their primary Legendary comic book charachter by all of these damned revisions that they made in the debacle of their period for having the desperate crud to gain sales - all in the spirit of the American way for the Almighty Dollar.
What's next? Superman happen to be Gay?! And Jimmy Olsen is Clark Kent's boyfriend! Might as well revise Supes into SUPERGAY then. Sheeez --!"

"Wow. This book is so so. Now one there is no story no plot no twist.It seem that this bookis all action no story and citter chat that has nothing to do with this comic. i meen realy if super man is the mane carecter shy are all the other super heroes in this.I meen doomsday fights him whith pne hand in a steel shackle. when they all attack him at wonce then the shackle breek. i meen who the hell would free his other hand when he is already kicking there ass. they dont even tell you how he came to be or why he wuz in chains. if you are looking for only action this is for you"

"I can't believe someone could write a 200 page comic book about nothing. I should have expected this when the first 4 pages showed a punching arm. JUST A PICTURE OF AN ARM FOR FOUR FREAKING PAGES. [...] 'doomsday comes out of nowhere and fights superman to the death'. There.... 1 sentence describes the whole 200 pages."

"I prefer Lobo as an S-Villain. He is a bounty hunter,he has a space Harly he rides on and he has some great one liners. Plus he at least has an attitude."

"This book was very obviously a marketing scheme to get sales up. I mean, did anyone actually expect Superman to stay dead? I think not."

Um, as someone who was selling the "Death of Superman" comics at the time...yes, some people definitely expected him to stay dead.

Anyway, just so I'm not Mr. Negativepants, here are some positive reviews for the book:
"Man, This book does the best in explaining the fall of Superman, Domesday, the JLA. Just buy it even if you have the least simple intrest in Superman, still just buy it!!!!!!"

"I have read this book and it is one of the best superman books I have ever read. Doomsday should get stuffed."

"This book is one of the best books I read so far I mean the pictures the story and the way they presented it was just great and I would recommend this book to whoever collects comic books to let it be a part of your collection"

"I hope they keep writing more stories like this one, just don't kill him again...I don't think I could handle it again."

Well said.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July, where applicable. 

Well, this didn't last long:

In issue #50 of The Spectre (February 1997), John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake introduced a new incarnation of DC's patriotic superhero Uncle Sam named, appropriately enough, "The Patriot." You can see him above, in all his giant winged helmet glory.

To the best of my knowledge, his only appearance in this form was in Spectre #50. (EDIT: I was wrong, he appeared a couple more times...check the comments.) Soon enough, Uncle Sam was back to his old American icon self, and if this reversion was ever explained, I must have missed it.

All respect to Ostrander and Mandrake, who were trying to do something different, but really, it's hard to top this for a superhero concept:


I know I've posted it before (a couple years ago, in fact), but I really like this particular sequence from DC Comics Presents #62 with Clark Kent and Uncle Sam, and wanted to share it again.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Imagine what he'd have thought had he actually seen the movie. 

"Superman Fans who have NOT seen SR"

"Let's here it from those superfans who are abstaining from 2.5 hours of torture. [...] Count me as one; and I don't plan to see this thing except on boring Saturday on TV.

"It's extremely gratifying that this hugely expensive movie is going to get waxed at the box office. It, and WB, totally deserve it.

"For decades now WB (and DC) has been presenting us with horrendous portrayals of Superman which have only been VERY marginally popular. Now they expected the big relaunch of Superman on screen to be gigantic; even though they are offering yet another variant of the NON-SUPERMAN, in this case a ludicrously airbrushed, angsty, tepid chick flick.

"They could get away with doing Superman wrong on the margins; comic books, stupid tv shows. . .but the chickens have come home to roost when they expect this to work on a big audience. The word is out; most Americans (and people overseas) knows this movie for the insulting and manipulative trash that it is and word of mouth isn't going to carry the day as this baby sinks like the titanic (the ship not the movie).

"Long live Superman, and death to all the imposters who keep blood sucking his name! Here's to NO SEQUELS to this mentally arrested 'vision.' I'd rather wait another 20 years for a real Superman movie, then spend the next decade with the great character wallowing in this crapola.

"The writing was on the wall for this stinker a long time ago."

A few posts later....

"[Another DC Forum poster], me, and few others had voiced REPEATEDLY well in advancce of movie's opening and reviews the obvious problems with the movie:

"a) Byran Thinger: a shallow, boring, pretentious director
b) Casting and Costume
c) Total misunderstanding of Superman and his context and thus inabilty to convey power and be exciting
c) Calling it out as a chick flick which feels the need to couch Superman in mindnumbing triteness of boyfriends coming home, live in lovers, lilbastards, high-school romance worse than Anakin and Amidala, superman butchered in a hospital as the great battle, etc

"WB won't say, but this movie is a disapointment. It cost upward of 300mil; and of course it did relatively okay at the BO; that was guaranteed with a character like Superman. But they don't like spending all that time and effort for minimal returns."

"Thinger." Charming.

Monday miscellany. 


I've been thinking more about Superman Returns and my reaction to it. It may have seemed fairly ambiguous, but I thought I was pretty clear about liking the film. I wanted more super-action, more stuff like Superman rescuing the plane, less stuff like Supes pining for Lois...but I still enjoyed the film for what it was.

And the more I think about it, the more I've come to appreciate the film for the story it does present.

I described this movie as being "very adult" -- like it's a relationship movie, only with one of the people in the relationship occasionally donning tights and fighting crime. Without getting too much into spoilers, Superman's character growth from dwelling too much on his past, to the eventual literal rejection of his own heritage in favor of the world and relationships he does have, is a good story for the character. If approached from that angle, rather than with the usual expectations of summer blockbusters/punch-'em ups, the experience for the moviegoer should be much more rewarding.

So don't pay too much mind to my minor, minor nitpicks...it's a good, solid film, that may be just a tad on the draggy side in parts, but overall very watchable and enjoyable. And, as I said, beautiful.

Kid Chris was at the store again on Saturday, and he mentioned to me then that if one were to look closely at the new Superman costume, you'd see that the texture of the costume is comprised of little itsy-bitsy "S" shields. (You can kinda see it in this trailer.)

I kind of like the idea, though not exactly what's described there, of Superman wearing a fractal costume, where the closer you look, the more "S" shields you see. Neat.

Speaking of costumes, here's hoping that, with the 3-D "S" on the chest in Supes Returns, Clark wears lots of loosely-fit shirts over his fightin' togs.

A comment I made to Employee Nathan on Sunday: the only way that the eventual "return to life" of the X-Men's Phoenix could be less of a surprise is if the character were called "The Returner."

"The Returner returns in this issue!"

"Wow, who could ever have predicted such an unexpected event?"


This is Star Comics #13 from 1938...I was paging through one of our store copies of the Photojournal Guides, trying to track down something for a customer, when I happened upon the above cover. It was only a little bitty image in the book, but thankfully Comics.org had a larger image.

That's pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel, friends.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Superman Returns 

Lex and Supes share a moment.

I've been trying to think about how to explain my reaction to this film. On one hand, Superman Returns is a very beautifully-presented film. The framing, the colors, the sound, the special effects...all nearly flawless.

On the other hand...well, it's like this is a superhero movie that wasn't directed as a superhero movie. It's all very low key and slowly paced, and even the action sequences have a subdued feel to them. I was speaking about the film with a customer of mine on Saturday, who also had a similar reaction to the film, and he described the general feel as "mopey." Many characters, standing around being sad at each other over strained and/or broken relationships...it's a unique and interesting take on the Superman character, but it can't help but add an extra coat of depression on the flick.

This all makes it sound I disliked the film, I realize, but that certainly isn't true. I quite enjoyed it, appreciated the slower pace in contrast to the manic music-video editing we usually get in action movies...but it left me wishing we had more Super-stuff going on.

Okay, SPOILERS from here until the bullet hits Supes' eye...BIG SPOILERS, so skip ahead to the next pic if you want to remain blissfully ignorant.

  • The opening credit sequence is in the style of the original films...a nice touch, but as the credits began I was a'feared that the credits would run as long as they did in those films...you know, the full three or four days it took to run through every single person who worked on the film or knew someone who worked on the film. However, the credits went by at a pretty snappy pace...almost too snappy, as some of the credits came and went before you even had a chance to read them. But that's okay, as it got us through them right quick.

  • Brandon Routh filled the Superman/Clark roles nicely...maintained a quiet dignity (for the most part...see below) as Superman, and managed to channel his inner Christopher Reeve for the necessary moments of likeable cornballness (like reminding folks about the safety of air travel). Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor took a while for me to warm to, and Kate Bosworth did well for herself as a tough, go-getting, yet sensitive and conflicted, Lois.

  • Nice to see a photo of Glenn Ford as the character of Jonathan Kent on Ma Kent's mantlepiece.

  • The destruction of Lex's model railroad and its surrounding model town reminded me, in a strange sort of way, of the miniature special effects work used in the earthquake/flooding sequences from the '70s Superman movie. (EDIT: Just read Peter David's review where he makes the same observation. I'm not a copycat, I swear!)

  • Okay, the plane/shuttle rescue sequence is top-notch. Exciting, visually captivating, suspenseful...I wish there was more of this sort of thing throughout the film.

  • Parker Posey is cute as a button in this movie. Just sayin'.

  • Anyone else reminded of John Glover's Lionel Luthor character on Smallville with Lex's wig choice during the museum escapade?

  • The bit with Lois' son Jason looking up at Clark and at Superman's image on the TV, and making the connection that his mom never could, was cute and very subtly played.

  • Speaking of Jason...if you didn't realize who his father was before even entering the theatre, the very unsubtle foreshadowing via the continual emphasis on his physical weakness was clearly setting us up for the ironic reveal.

  • Who felt the "creepy" needle point at "high" during Superman's X-ray vision super-voyeurism at Lois' house? Dude, she's your ex, quit stalking her.

  • Another good Easter egg...one of the black and white cell phone pics of Superman have him in the pose from the cover of Action Comics #1.

  • As Superman was flying with Lois over the city, I had a very, very brief moment of fear that we'd be getting a reprise of the "Can You Read My Mind?" Margot Kidder "song."

  • So, as established in this film and in Superman II, the very second Superman loses his powers, he completely loses all dignity and any ability to put up a fight whatsoever. Okay, he was outnumbered, and he was in pain from the Kryptonite, but it was uncomfortable and unpleasant to watch Supes clawing his way though the mud to escape his tormentors. Surely he could have put up more of a fight than that!

  • Good circular aspect to the story...Supes left Earth to find what was left of Krypton, only to face the rise of a new Krypton on his adopted homeworld. And regarding Superman's pose as he's falling back to Earth after removing said Kryptonian landmass...Christ figure much?

  • I should point out that there were quite a few "quiet beauty" shots in the film: Lois reaching for the floating pen during the few moments of weightlessness during the plane rescue; Superman floating above the Earth, listening to everything; Supes' aforementioned long fall.

  • I also was amused at Lex's ultimate ironic fate in the film, where he finally gets the "beachfront property" he'd been pursuing in the original film and this latest installment.

In conclusion...good film, even if not quite what I was expecting. My criticisms are minor, and I'd expect that, now that I know the kind of film I'm getting, I'd enjoy the film more during a second viewing.

An additional note: prior to the film's start, I looked around at the other folks sitting in the theatre. It was a varied group, covering a wide spectrum of ages and ethnicities, united by the fact that 1) they were all interested in Superman, and 2) they probably haven't read a Superman comic in years, if at all.

This is an archive page for the old Blogger version of Progressive Ruin, kept around to maintain all the old permalinks. Please visit the main page for the current version of this site. Thanks for visiting, and sorry for the inconvenience!

Copyright © 2003-10 Mike Sterling. Some images used are copyright © their respective copyright owners.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?