Baseball, Comics and things that go "Pleh" in the night.

Well, unless you live in a cave somewhere (or just don't care about baseball), you know by now that the Boston Red Sox won that there World Series thing. Obviously, I'm pretty pleased about this. Mostly for my dad, though. The man's been a Red Sox fan since 1944 (the year he turned 8), and has waited 60 years (and survived bouts with three different types of cancer in that time) to see this happen. Now, his prostate numbers are flaring up again and his oncologist has him starting a round of hormone and radiation treatments, so this is exactly the sort of thing he needed. I called him after the game, and I can honestly say I've never heard him so happy in all my life. That's why this event was so important to me.

I'm also glad that we probably won't have to hear any stupid Curse talk any more. As Manny Ramirez so eloquently put it, "I don't believe in curse, I believe you make your own destination." Or, to paraphrase what Peter Gammons said in real English on ESPN, the problem all these years wasn't a curse, it was pitching, and they finally figured that out. Now they get to reap the rewards and will pretty much be looked upon as gods in Boston for pretty much the next bajillion years. Except for those who go over to the Yankees in search of bigger paychecks, who will be damned for all time. And remember, Boston's got a HUGE Catholic population. They can do that sort of thing.

Anyway, for the best description of what it felt like to be a member of the Red Sox Nation on Wednesday night, check out the Sports Guy's journal of the evening over on Page 2.

Meanwhile, over on Earth-Comics, looks like that there Green Lantern fella is back. Or on the comeback trail, anyway. Jeez, I wish I cared. The whole thing bugs me because it's just another in a long line of cheap attempts to pop the fans in order to achieve short term gains. And what really bugs me is that it'll work. Again. The Green Lantern: Rebirth mini-series will sell well, because you have all those Hal Jordan fanatics in HEAT (Hal's Emerald Attack Team, or whatever the hell it is) all pledging to buy 20 copies each because their favorite character is back, plus the added curiosity buys of people wondering how the hell they're gonna pull this off. Then the TPB will sell well, again because the HEAT folks will scarf it up, as well as the curious fans who don't buy their comics (or at least mini-series) in floppy form. Then the inevitable ongoing series will debut and sell pretty decently... at first. Then, unless it's truly one of The Very Best Comics Being Published (and maybe lands a talent like Neil Gaiman or Grant Morrison to helm it), sales will drop off because the non-diehards will all do what they always do: ignore Green Lantern because they just don't care that much about the character in the first place. GL is like Iron Man, Thor or the Flash that way - he'll always have fans, but he doesn't ignite people's imaginations like a Batman or a Spidey. Sales will eventually drop to a point where they decide to do another event to pop the crowds because, hey, it worked last time! It's just an annoying, increasingly vicious circle, and just another reason why even though I love comics, I hate comics.

In order to end on a positive note (sorry, I really don't have anything to say about things that go "pleh" in the night; I was deliberately deceiving you), here's some quick reviews of comics I bought this week:

Demo 11 - Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan bring you perhaps the best issue of Demo yet, which also happens to be the best teen movie never made. No weird powers or happenings, just great storytelling. I'm sad to see this series end.

Adam Strange 2 - If Diggle and Ferry wanted to do an ongoing series version of this book, I'd be pretty happy with that. The story holds my interest so far (a literal Mystery in Space at last! Now, decades later, that title finally make sense), and Ferry draws space stuff really purty-like. There's a fun little Samus Aran reference (sort of) in there for you Metroid fans, too.

Fantastic Four 519 - Waid throws us a twist to end the story that I honestly didn't see coming, and it makes for a fun lead-in to his Galactus story. We're now in the 3rd great age of the FF, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

Plastic Man 11 - Haven't actually read it yet, but I thumbed through and it looks fun. Please buy this book. Please. Don't let it go gently into that good night while crap like GL: Rebirth tops the charts. Is that too much to ask, really?

UPDATE: Just read Plastic Man. Funniest issue yet, and by far the best thing to come out of the whole "President Luthor" storyline. I really want a "U.S. Out Of The Phantom Zone" t-shirt. Please buy this book. If I tell you it has Hal Jordan in it, will you each buy 20?

The Scariest Thing You Will Ever See on Film (and some other stuff)

Here's a nice little Halloween scare for you. Go rent the movie Super Size Me and watch the bonus feature called "The Smoking Fry." The film's director, Morgan Spurlock, conducts a little experiment, and if you dare to eat a McDonald's french fry after you see the results, than you're a braver person than I.

Elsewhere on the intermanet, Eric Neel and Andy Behrens talk about the joys and sorrows of hardcore SportsClix addiction over on ESPN's Page 2 site. Good little article, and I can definitely relate (though my Clix of choice tend to be of the Hero variety; but the baseball Clix do look like a lot of fun... if only I had money and free time), but they keep saying that the manufacturer is Topps. I think you mean WizKids, fellas.

(Sorry, but I was an intern, reporter and copy editor for a daily paper back home for a few years during and after college, and sloppy fact checking really irks me)

Abraham Linkin'

I wholeheartedly apologize for that particular title, though I'm obviously not sorry enough to not use it.

If you missed Jon Stewart laying the verbal smackdown on the Crossfire folks, and you can't look at the clip I posted earlier (maybe you're on dial-up, maybe you're at work, or whatever), you can read the full transcript here.

Wing Chun, mastermind of Television Without Pity, analyzes the Stewart appearance rather brilliantly on her blog, Hissyfit.

And in over on Earth-Comics, photo referencing is just getting WAY out of control. You want proof? Here's the cover for The Pulse #7. Now, from a business standpoint, I can see making J. Jonah Jameson look like J.K. Simmons, the actor who portrayed the characters in both Spidey movies. It makes for a recognizable tie-in for people who have seen the movies but might not know the comics so well, and he looked so much like the comic book version of the character, anyway, that it's really not much of a stretch. But come on, Colin Farrell as Nick Fury?!?! It could be worse, I suppose, they could've gone with David Hasselhoff, but still... Jeez, ya think Marvel is trying to pitch a SHIELD film project to someone in particular? Or are an increasing number of comics artists, either through laziness or declining talent, completely incapable of drawing people without copying People Magazine photos?

And besides, everyone knows that Nick Fury should look like a Banacek-era George Peppard. I mean, who's with me here?

Old Comics Day Previews

Wow, first Mike at Progressive Ruin links to me, and now Dorian from Postmodern Barney (another great blog I check out every day) hooks me up with linking goodness as well! All this attention is gonna make me blush.

Anyway, I'm really excited because my shipment of comics and TPBs I got in trade from Lone Star Comics came today. Every so often I go through my discard boxes (getting larger as I cull more stuff over time), see what the people down there are looking for (they post their extensive want list on the site under the "We Buy Comics" link) and ship it off in return for trade credit (you can get cash, too, but you generally get twice as much in credit as you would in cash, so I find that to be a much better deal). It's a win-win situation: they get books they're looking to sell, I get rid of stuff taking up space on the sun porch and get stuff I want in return. Maybe that's actually a win-win-win situation.

Since I knew my shipment was coming this week, I skipped New Comics Day even though two books I buy (FF and Plastic Man) came out on Wednesday. Old Comics Day, I find, is much more fun, especially lately. No super rape, no rapidly aged illegitimate children, no transformations into a giant, impregnated spider. So what'd I get? Glad you asked. Here are some previews:

Blue Beetle #s 1 and 3, Modern Comics reprints - 70s reprints of the Charlton BB book by Steve Ditko. I've been on a Ditko kick (what with all the talk in the Blogosphere about him lately), and the originals of this series are so astoundingly expensive. I want to read a comic book, not make an investment! Plus, I've gotta admit, I've been a big Beetle fan for awhile now, and those Question back-up stories are fun, if a bit heavy-handed.

DC Comics Presents #s 84, 87 and Annual 1 - 84 features Superman and the Challengers of the Unknown, with art chores shared by Alex Toth and Jack Kirby (possibly Jack's last DC work; I could be wrong, though). 87 is the Crisis crossover introducing the Superboy of Earth-Prime, with a story by Elliot S! Maggin and art by Curt Swan. Just a great comic book that I got rid of years ago and have regretted ever since. Now it's mine again. Annual 1 is a team-up of the Supermen of Earths 1 and 2 against their respective Luthors of the same (with Alex Luthor and Ultraman of Earth 3 thrown in for good measure).

Maze Agency #20 - The last issue I needed of the original series, mine at last! The greatest mystery comic series ever (IMHO), and this issue features a Bolland cover to boot. Wooo! Now anyone know where I can find Annual 1 and Vol. 2 #1?

DC Super-Stars #12 - The spotlight is on Superboy, featuring the controversial story by Cary Bates and Swanderson where young Clark fights some Yetis and possibly loses his virginity (I'll let you guess as to which part of that is controversial).

Black Panther #1 - The 70s version by King Kirby himself. I've thumbed through this briefly already, and it looks like it should measure up to the rest of his whacked out 70s goodness. I am SO looking forward to reading this.

Fantastic Four #84 - Yes, I'm also on Kirby kick. How could you tell? This is part one of the story that is essentially "The Fantastic Four Meets The Prisoner." Doom traps the FF (without their powers) in a place not entirely unlike The Village (#6's Village, not M. Night Shamalamadingdong's). From what I've read, Kirby wanted to do a comic book adaptation of The Prisoner, but it fell through, so he reworked some of his ideas and used them in this storyline. I picked up the rest of it at a comic show years ago, but was unable to find this issue at a price I could afford until now. Reading copies of expensive books rule.

And for TPBs, I got Animal Man Vol. 3: Deus Ex Machina and New X-Men Vol. 7: Here Comes Tomorrow. Yup, you guessed it: a Morrison kick as well. I've been looking forward to reading the conclusions to his runs on these two books for awhile now, especially Animal Man.

So now I'm looking forward to a night of Chinese take out, watching TiVo with the wife and, or course, reading my Old Comics Day swag. I gotta admit, I love my boring little life.

I'm a somebody, in a largely anonymous, internet sort of way.

Thanks to Mike Sterling over at Progressive Ruin for linking to me today. Mike's blog is great, and very widely read, so I sort of feel brushed by fame, or at least the internet equivalent thereof. So hearty thanks to Mike (and if you don't read Progressive Ruin regularly, you really should; the Swamp Thing paraphernalia alone is worth the trip), and a big hello to anyone who finds their way here from there.

"I'm not gonna be your monkey."

If you haven't seen it yet, then run, don't walk, over to iFilm and check out Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire. It's 15 minutes of some of the most awkward television you'll ever see, but it's grand and glorious and funny and nearly every word out of Stewart's mouth really needed to be said.

Stewart seems to chafe at the very idea of the role he seems to be assuming in the political discourse of our nation, but it's very easy to see how he got there: he says the things about the system that Joe and Betty Average-American-With-Moderate-To-Liberal-Views would like to say, and he's got the forum in which to do so.

Well ho-lee shit.

The Red Sox did it. They mounted the biggest comeback in Major League Baseball playoff history (some say the biggest comeback in sports ever, but I think that's laying it on a bit thick), defeated their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, and now they're headed to the World Series for the first time since 1986.

Wow. Just... wow.

A lot will be said about this over the next few days (and probably beyond), all throughout the media, the internet, in every bar and around every office watercooler. I really don't think I can add anything too profound to the discourse because I'm in such awe at the moment, but there are a few things I do wanna say.

1. Most teams tend to place the burden of their success (or lack thereof) on the backs of a few key players. The Red Sox, on the other hand, lived and died as a team. More than that, really. They're a family (especially after they got rid of Nomar). In professional sports these days, that's extremely rare. The only other team I can really think of with a similar bond is the New England Patriots, especially during their first championship season. I don't think it's a coincidence that both teams are from the same region.

2. I'm even more impressed by the respect and admiration the Sox hold for their fans. What makes the Red Sox Nation different from other team fan bases is that we really do think of ourselves as a part of the team. And what makes the Red Sox different from other pro sports teams is that they seem to agree.

3. Johnny Damon wasn't in a slump during this series. As my wife Erin said, "he was just waiting for his pitch." Twice.

4. David Ortiz. Sweet Jebus, but that guy can hit.

5. To Mark Bellhorn: I'm not going to go out on a limb yet and say that all is forgiven, but I will give you mad props for finally deciding to show up. Welcome aboard. It's about damn time.

6. Fox showed two great images of Yankeeland during the Sox victory celebration. One was of Billy Crystal on the verge of tears. But the other one, the one that'll stay with me was of A-Rod standing in the dugout, looking pissed off and more than a little regretful. I laughed, because I am a bad person.

And now, onto the World Series, against whomever takes the NLCS tomorrow night (in itself, a great series; too bad Fox doesn't seem to think so). I want Boston to win, obviously, and put an end to all of this ridiculous curse crap once and for all. But win or lose, they had an absolutely amazing season. And they rose from three pretty humiliating losses to beat the Yankees. For the penant. At Yankee Stadium, no less.

In the end, that probably means more to me than any silly championship.

A little bit of late night comics linking

Elliot S! Maggin is considered by some to be the High Kong of Superman Writers. Those people may be right. I mean, come on, the man has an exclamation point in his name. They don't just hand those out, do they? Otherwise, you'd have a bunch of people running around saying, "Hi, I'm Dave! Jackson," or something.

But I digress, because I am both tired and soaring off the Red Sox Game 7 ALCS victory (more on that in a bit). Forgive me.

Anyway, Maggin wrote a number of great Superman tales over the years, not the least of which are two novels released around the time of the first two Superman films. The novels, "Superman: Last Son of Krypton" and "Miracle Monday," are pretty highly regarded, but sadly out of print at the moment. You can find 'em used on Amazon or on eBay without having to pay an arm and a leg, but if you're short on cash (or just lazy), you can read 'em both for free online thanks to the people over at the Fortress of Solitude.

You can read "Last Son of Krypton" here (with bonus material not published in the U.S. version) and "Miracle Monday" here. There are even eBook versions for your Palm Pilot if you're so inclined.

I started reading LSOK earlier this evening, and it's pretty good so far. There's a fantastic sequence with Lex Luthor where Maggin gives some great, original insight into the character's personality and motivations. And MM ties so strongly into his later comic book work (particularly Superman #400 and the two DC Comics Presents annuals with Superwoman) that it should definitely be worth reading.

If you're a fan, have some free time, and don't mind reading books on the computer (I'm not nearly "Star Trek" enough to ever fully adapt to doing that), they're well worth checking out.

Being a Red Sox Fan Means Generally Being Pissy in October...

But for the moment, they're still managing to keep hope alive. They finally eeked out a win after 14 innings tonight, sending 'em back to new York for Game 6 of the ALCS, thanks in no small part to the heroics of David Ortiz. Again! I see a pay raise in this man's future, and frankly, he deserves it.

You know who doesn't, though? Mark Bellhorn. How, in God's name, does he manage to hold onto the starting 2nd base spot? Does he have some sort of incriminating photos? Did Pokey Reese piss off the entire front office somehow? There has to be some sort of explanation, and those are the two that make most sense to me at the moment. He sure as hell didn't get there on talent. According to stats Fox showed during Saturday night's game, the man led the league in strikeouts this year and committed more errors at 2nd base than everyone who played 2nd for the Sox in 2003 combined. Yeah, there's starter material for ya. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, Bellhorn's the suckiest suck to ever suck a suck.

Anyway, now it's back to the Bronx. I realize the chances of the Sox winning the next two games in the lions' den itself is pretty slim. I love 'em, but this is the team that has snatched defeat from the jaws of certain victory time and again (and no, I don't believe in the curse; Boston has been plagued by bad decision making and some shit luck over the years, but there's no damn curse). But I'm from a long line of Red Sox fans, and it is therefore necessary that I believe. Unrealistic as it may sound, I believe that Schilling's ankle will magically heal itself, that Damon will come out of his slump, that Pokey will FINALLY assume his rightful place at 2nd (because, as we all know, Pokey coulda got it), that Ortiz can and will be the hero again, and that this, indeed, could be the year.

Besides, I hate seeing anything that makes Yankee fans happy. They're such assholes.

RIP Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004

Grandpa : Superman isn't brave.

Angus : Did you take your pills this morning?

Grandpa : Heh Heh. You don't understand. He's smart, handsome, even decent. But he's not brave. No, listen to me. Superman is indestructible, and you can't be brave if you're indestructible. It's people like you and your mother. People who are different, and can be crushed and know it. Yet they keep on going out there every time.

I include that little exhange from the excellent movie Angus to make a point. Christopher Reeve proved braver in life than he did on the screen, and that is no small feat when you're arguably the definitve portrayal of a character like Superman. A lot has already been said about him, and a lot more probably will, so I really only want to add one thing.

The list of people I've considered heroes in my life has always been pretty short, but he made it on there twice. Once when I was a little kid for being one of my favorite comic book characters, and again as an adult for persevering through an ordeal that would utterly destroy a lesser person.

I think that's significant.

Bored at work.

I would just like to say the the greatest word in the English language is phlebotomy.

Hippopotamus, onomatopoeia and pickle are all pretty great, too.

That's all.

One tiny bit of Comics LinkBlogging

Well, everyone else is doing it, so why can't I?

(And yeah, there'll be plenty of comics stuff here over time. I'm unashamed of my dorkitude. But I don't think I consider myself a member of "The Comics Blogosphere" proper. We'll see, though.)

I have to admit I've developed a small crush on USA Today's pop culture critic, Whitney Matheson, and I really enjoyed her latest Pop Candy column, all about her experiences at the Small Press Expo (or SPX if you're hipper than I am). It's done in a comic strip format, and it's pretty cute. Worth checking out. If you're looking for something a little more in-depth, though, check out Heidi over at The Beat. Maybe I'll get to go one of these years.

Photo worth sharing #1


This is a pottery shop in Dunkeld, Scotland, UK (not far from Dunkeld Cathedral). My wife, Erin, and I stumbled across it on our honeymoon last November. Yeah, it's probably silly to go to Scotland in November (it's a bit chilly), but not as silly as going to Iceland the same month (which we also did, but that's not important right now). We didn't go inside, but, well, you can't help but appreciate the name. Posted by Hello

If only Hollywood were this creative.

If you like superhero movies, it might be worth your while to check out two of the "trailers" currently featured over on TheForce.net, "Grayson" and "World's Finest." The first is about Dick Grayson resuming the role of Robin after the death of Batman, and the second is, as the title would suggest to Silver Age DC fans everywhere, a Batman/Superman team-up movie. They're low budget (not that you can always tell), and they'll never be made into real films, but they're a lot of fun, and better than a lot of full length superhero movies churned out by the soulless automatons at the major movie studios ("X2" and "Superman: The Movie" excepted, 'natch). Check 'em out.

Fun fact #1: "Grayson" features former WCW Nitro Girl Kimberly Page as "Villainess" (meaning Catwoman, but they can't come right out and say it, I guess).

Fun fact #2: The guy playing Superman in "World's Finest" looks kinda like one of my old supervisors from back when I worked at MetLife. Creepy.


Added 5:07 p.m., 10/5/04 - It's also worth your while to check out "Pink Five" and "Pink Five Strikes Back," which feature the adventures of Stacey, a Rebel pilot criminally left out of the original Star Wars trilogy. With any luck, one day she'll get her own action figure (If characters like Background NonSpeakingRole and OneLine BountyHunter can get figs, she deserves one, too... actual Lucasfilm property or not!).

Space, the final frontier... and it's about damn time!

Scaled Composites, the people behind the first privately-owned space vehicle, SpaceShipOne, won the $10 million X-Prize on Monday by successfully completing the second of two spaceflights within a week's time (to win the prize, a team needed to complete 2 such flights with a 14 day time period).

$10 million may seem like a small amount when you consider the huge amounts of money spent on space travel by NASA each year (even now, when they don't really do so much), as well as the fact that Scaled Composites investor Paul Allen (Microsoft billionaire #2, IIRC) has already sunk twice as much of his own money into the project. But they do fame, honor, prestige and probably more groupies than any bunch of balding, wrinkly white guys could ever dream of (There ARE space groupies, right? There are groupies for everything else these days). The money is an afterthought, really. It's the thrill of being the first people to do it that's the real prize.

Apparently Richard Branson (head of the Virgin mega-empire) was at the launch, and want to license the tech to make space tourism a reality within a few years. Well, it's about time. It's 2004, fer cryin' out loud! We were all supposed to be living in space years ago! All those Irwin Allen TV shows from the '60s had us traveling interstellar distances by the 90s ("Land of the Giants" was supposed to take place in the '80s, and the Robinson Family from "Lost in Space" took off for Alpha Centauri in 1997!), and even the Gil Gerard "Buck Rogers" show from the '70s had Buck going out into deep space by about 1990 or so.

And then, of course, 2001 rolled around, and we weren't anywhere near Jupiter. Nor were we anywhere near HAL in terms of computer technology (probably for the best, given the events of that particular film, but still... ).

Okay, now I'm rambling, but hey, the future has let me down. I want a house on Mars, and a robot dog and a Legion Flight Ring (or at least an Elroy Jetson rocket belt). Maybe a round, clear space helmet with a little antenna on top. Is that so much to ask, really?