Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Collection Update

I've spent a busy two days entering a lot of comics into the system, and I find I'm running smack-dab into one of the pitfalls of many collectors: I'm obsessing with the numbers. You see, a long, long time ago, I was like most young collectors and I went through the "investing" phase of collecting. Even though I had little immediate desire to sell my comics, I would buy extra copies of important issues. This was obviously tied to a higher-than-previous income, which is why I have at least 4 complete set of Frank Miller's run on Daredevil during the crucial DD/Elektra era (I've even got copies autographed by Frank Miller at Lone Star Comics during the 1981 - 1983 years).

I picked up four of these during
my "investor" phase.
I then matured a bit and gave up investing to just focus on what I enjoy reading. That doesn't mean I never bought multiples again, but I definitely cut down on the practice.

When I quit investing, I also quit counting how many comics I had. They were just there for my enjoyment, so it didn't matter how many there were. The last time I did a count I was between 6,000 - 7,000 comics, but I just sort of lost track after that. It wasn't until recently that I stopped to do the math and realized that I probably have between 10,000 - 12,000. I really won't know for sure until I figure out a faster way to access and sort them (hence my recent posts about getting custom cabinets).

But back to the numbers game
My evenings have been a bit free for the past week, so I started entering comics into the system with a bit more vim and vigor than usual. And once I started, that's where the "numbers bug" hit me. You see, I might enter a range of comics and then do a count to see how many I had done, and if it was 98 comics I would feet cheated until I went to grab 2 more to make it an even 100.

Likewise, I might enter that 100 comics, only to see that the comics total for my collection was at 4,376. Only 24 comics away from passing a milestone of 4,400? I'd go grab another series and quickly enter them into the system so I could pass another milestone in sheer quantity of books. That's one thing the software makes easy -- counting comics. And it feeds the Numbers bug in other ways, too. Not only have I been buggy about total comics entered, total in collection, but also with comics by publisher and comics by title.

Let me go back to the Man Without Fear to give you an example. Last night I finally decided to tackle my Daredevil comics. He was mostly collected (bagged & boarded) in one box, but some later issues had gotten scattered throughout other boxes and I thought I had finally collected most of them into one new box. So I set out to document them, and that's when I realized just how many multiples I had purchased between Daredevil #173 and into the late #190s. I have as many as 6 copies of some of these books (although 4 or 5 is more common). So, I go through them, reboard & bag some of them (some cheap old bags were getting tacky and oily feeling) and, when all is said and done, I only entered 89 issues of Daredevil last night.


I would have sworn I had at least at least 150 or more in my collection. But even if not, the thing that irks me is that I only entered 89 issues, not 90 (or 100, like I thought). But 89? I just feel gypped somehow. Now, when you factor in some older Daredevils, I actually made it to 103, plus I'm pretty sure I've got a few more issues hiding in other boxes, but still. I just thought there were more.

And you see, that's the Numbers Bug talking. I really don't care how many I've got. Those are great comics and I've got a slew of them. I'm even planning to pull them out and reread them (I peeked at a few and dang it, they look good!).

Biting Back at the Numbers Bug
I had a lull today after work and decided to continue entering comics. I was determined to make it over 4,700 comics today (I've no idea why, but it's a threshold I wanted to pass). To do that, I went into some of my older boxes where the comics are already bagged, boarded and sorted. I was able to pick up huge stacks and just do a fast visual count to see what was there and then quickly enter it into the software.

Here are the big titles I've entered the last two days:

  • 89 - Daredevil
  • 42 - All Star Squadron
  • 38 - Arak, Son of Thunder
  • 31 - Misc. (Action, Adventure, Tales to Astonish, etc.)
  • 24 - Arion
  • 14 - Amethyst (includes annual & DC team-up with Superman)
  • 12 - Uncle Scrooge (the AWESOME "Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck series by Sam Rosa)
TOTAL: 250

I used this one to "Feed the
Numbers Bug" & make it to
250 comics on my list above.
By the way, I had originally only entered 249 comics in that list above. But I couldn't stand being 1 comic short, so I went back and grabbed a lone copy of 1975's Omac #8 to finish off that number. This brings me to a total of 4,717 comics that have been cataloged.

I feel a little closer to the halfway point than I did before. Maybe the collection is actually closer to 11,000 than to 12,000 after all.

One thing's for sure, though, the Numbers Bug won't be happy until I know for sure.

UPDATE: Another bite from the bug! I was watching TV late tonight and decided to enter some more comics and hit 4,850 comics! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Gay Ole Time in Riverdale: Thoughts on Kevin Keller

Read an article today that made me think more about the newest resident of Riverdale: new character Kevin Keller:

"But thinking in terms of quotas as a non-binding guideline could be helpful, because without some sort of prompt to encourage creators to think about diversity the default inclination is to go with what's familiar."

That is an extremely wrong-headed idea that is anathema to why Kevin has been a success. He's a fun character and him being gay is not the only thing that defines him. That's where Dan Parent has excelled -- in writing a character who feels at home in the Archie Universe. Reading the Kevin stories doesn't make me feel like I'm watching "a very special episode" of a sitcom, or an old "After School Special" (yeah, I'm that old...), but that I'm just reading a fun Archie story that happens to feature a character who is gay. I also never got the idea that Kevin is the only gay kid at Riverdale high, but rather that he's the first to break into the Archie's Gang Clique. That's why Kevin Keller works so well.

This also makes me think more about how Riverdale functions as an idyllic fictional society. Although it has may progressive traits (openness to all races, gay students, embracing environmentalism, charity work), it does so while embracing what can only be described as traditional family values. None of the core characters in the Archie universe come from broken or single-parent homes. None. And I'm including a lot of secondary characters, including Moose, Midge, Raj, Chuck, Tre, Kimoko, Dilton, Ginger, and others.

I don't want to read too much into the Archie universe, but it's interesting to note that the Progressive Agenda seems only to work when it is built upon the strong foundation of a "traditional" family.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Collection Update

Today's sorting efforts, part 1
Had a little downtime today while waiting for a work call, so I took the opportunity to continue trashing the guest bedroom with piles of comics. Heh. At least I think that's what my wife and the housekeeper think.

In truth, I pulled three boxes out of the bottom of my office closet and finally cracked them open to see what was in there. For the past two weeks I've been going through them, reading graphic novels and enjoying some of my stash. But today was about finally taking a stab at organizing the titles so I could continue cataloging them.

So I did what any fanboy would do -- I sat on the bed and went through the boxes, tossing the comics into piles of related titles or publishers. In this case, most of the boxes were full (or half-full) of DC Comics titles.

In particular, I found my stashes of these titles:

  • Green Lantern: 23
  • Green Arrow (all three major series): 70+
  • Impulse: 48
  • Young Justice: 22*
I also found a lot of the Bat books (Batman, Detective Comics, Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, etc.), but I didn't enter them into the system. I'm creating a huge Bat Stack and will handle them later. After sorting the comics, I entered some into the computer. Sorting by index, I was able to determine that I entered 159 comics today, most in those series mentioned above.

BTW: I put a star by young Justice because it includes that pesky "Sins of Youth" series, which includes nine comics that have a #1 number. That means nine different series, which makes it that much harder to catalog in the software.

My Stash Statistics
My other stacks, including lots of Green Arrow, Green Lantern
and a big bunch of misc. publishers like Bongo.
So, today I crossed a threshold by having cataloged 4,006 comics. By my rough estimate, that puts me at the 40% mark, but to be honest, I'm thinking it looks closer to 30% of my total. I've got a LOT of boxes I haven't even touched, yet. And lots more to sort and catalog from what I have touched. As I said, that Bat Stack is getting bigger all the time (although I have entered a lot of Robin and Nightwing comics). Time will tell, though. I still think that my collection is around 10,000 comics.

As things stand, here are my top 5 publishers:
  1. 1,260 - DC Comics
  2. 1,105 - Marvel Comics
  3. 969 - Archie Comics
  4. 198 - Kenzer & Co.
  5. 52 - First Comics
And my top 10 series are:
  1. 162 - Knights of the Dinner Table
  2. 130 - The Defenders
  3. 97 - Jughead's Double Digest
  4. 92 - Archie's Pals-N-Gals
  5. 79 - Archie Double Digest
  6. 75 Bett & Veronica Double Digest
  7. 66 - Green Arrow, vol. 2
  8. 66 - Fantastic Four, Vol. 1
  9. 66 - Betty
  10. 62 - Archie Comics Digest
The Archie Comics are disproportionately represented at this time because I started with the Archie Comics. I have yet to enter any of my Daredevil or X-Men comics, and as I mentioned previously, I have a lot of Batman books sitting on the sidelines in my Bat Stack.

In other news, I plan to make a big purchase of boxes and shelves in the next month so I can finally have everything lined up and can start putting this stuff away for long-term storage and finally get a grip on what I have in my stash.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Storage Woes

I've heard it said that one of the signs of insanity is to keep doing the same thing but expecting different results. I either need to keep cataloging my comics, or stop briefly and change how I'm doing it because -- even though I've entered almost 4,000 comics in my database software -- I'm still in the same situation where I started.

I can't find what I'm looking for.

Case in point: The Spiderman / Nova crossover event from 1977. A week or two ago, I found one of my copies of Nova #12. I say "one of my copies" because I'm pretty sure I've got at least two of them. At least I think so -- right now I've only found one copy and I'm pretty sure it's filed under "N" for Nova.

A really cool first meeting between
Web Head & Bucket Head.
Today I found a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #171 which includes the second half of that epic meeting. As you might guess from the cover above, Nova ended with them being tied to an anchor and being tossed into the ocean (you know, this sort of thing happens more often than you might think in comic books -- maybe someday I'll collect all the different covers I can find where this happens). This was a cool first meeting, by the way, that had the obligatory introductory fight followed by the expected team-up and mutual admiration. It was really one of the classic first meetings in recent comics.

But you see, I'm just not sure where both halves of the story are (fortunately, I do have the story reprinted in a copy of Essential Marvel Team-Up, but that's really not the point, is it?).

But back to my organizational woes.

Some of my stash.
The problem is, though, my comics are stacked in the corner of a room and are still difficult to access. At least they're out of the way for the moment, but that's really defeating the purpose of my attempt at organization. This photo doesn't even begin to show the bulk of my problem. Right here you can count about 10 long boxes and xxx short boxes. There are actually more out of the range of the photo, plus more in other rooms. But even if this is about 60% of my collection, you can get the gist of my problem: I just can't get to anything.

And that's got to change.

I'm thinking of a two-pronged solutions: Short boxes & Shelves.

I was measuring the boxes today and the space where I plan to keep them and have started working on a plan. I'm not yet sure if I'm going to buy resin shelves (cheaper and easy to set up), but won't fit perfectly), or whether I'm going to look into modular shelving (ELFA, IKEA, something like that), or whether I'm just going to buy some lumber and build something myself. Each method has its pros and cons, which I will be looking at (and sharing with you) in the future.

Next time: I'll discuss my decision to switch to short boxes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Scaling Back

I need to slow down. Back in february I decided I want to try blogging on a regular basis, so I made a commitment to blog 3 times a week for 3 months. And I have kept a commitment. But now it's time to slow down and take a break. The truth of the matter is I just don't have time to read material write interesting reviews while maintaining the schedule.

 So I'm going to take a break and slow down. I'm going to make another commitment to blog once a week, but to blog with substance. I'm going to think about what day of the week I want post on and then make a commitment to post on that day for another 3 months. I think I should have an answer by next week.

Talk to you then.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Netflix Friday: Fun from the 60s

Here's a few things I found on Netflix that amused me.
Fitzwilly - a great little movie with Dick Van Dyke

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I got quoted!

Like most of you, I get a lot of email newsletters from the various companies I buy products from. I get lots of software, 3D and other newsletters that usually sit around in my in-box for a week or two before I either read them or finally delete them.

Today I was skimming through a few and saw one from They make the Comic Collector software I'm using to catalog my collection. Their newsletter said they had a new look for their Website, so I went over and took a look at it. It's pretty nice -- a lot cleaner and more professional than it was before.

They also have a lot of quotes from various people who use their software. I'm not going to lie -- I went down the list to see if my name was there. After all, I posted a very favorable, and deservedly so, review of their product in this blog. They also linked to it on their Facebook page, so I knew they knew about what I wrote.

And there it was, down on the left-hand column on the page about their comics software:

"I shopped around before buying this program, and I'm pleased to report that it does what it says it does: it's an easy-to-use tool for cataloging your comics.
For the most part, it does a super job with superheroes (pun intended) and mainstream books. I've had to manually enter some of my more unusual comics (and a lot of my Archies/Gold Keys, etc.), but nobody can be expected to have everything. And the customer service is VERY good through their forums.
I highly recommend this program."
Mike Mitchell - December 06, 2011


I love being quoted.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: We Remember

This is an image that I created to express the sentiments of everyone who works for Hawgleg Publishing.

I am taking the day off to be with friends and family, and to reflect on those who sacrificed to ensure the freedoms that we all enjoy.

Talk to you Wednesday.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Netflix Friday: More Quick Hits

I've never had much luck when it comes to a system making recommendations about what I might enjoy. It seems that my tastes run so wide that I give their computer systems a mental breakdown.

I know, most of us have diverse interests. But my experience has shown that mine seem to be a bit more diverse than most people's (not other geeks, mind you -- I often fit in well with their tastes, but not always). Here's a sampling of some recent movies and shows I watched on Netflix and you decide if you can think of something to recommend.

I was surprised that I enjoyed this as much as I did. The trailers on TV made it look like Dustin Hoffman was pulling the strings by supplying the drugs he needed to achieve total clarity (the ability to think clearly and correlate everything you've ever read, seen or heard), but that was not the case. Even though the movie seems to have been written by someone who just got out of rehab, it was an interesting premise that was well executed.

This is one of Jerry Lewis' earlier films, so he's not a total idiot (think Season One Homer Simpson -- dumb, not not completely gone daffy). This is a simple story: An heiress takes an incognito job in the family store so no one will try to date her for her family's money. She has a romance with Jerry and things go predictably wrong as the mother (Agnes Moorehead -- Endora from Bewitched) throws difficult tasks at him so he'll get fired and the daughter will dump him.

The action is a bit dated, and the ending seems like it was written in about 20 minutes and shot in about the same amount of time, but nevertheless, it was amusing.

This anime series is one of my favorites. Describing it is actually easy, but the plot summary doesn't do it justice. A poor girl wins a scholarship to a prestigious school for the super rich, and decides she'd rather focus on her studies so she pretends to be a boy. She gets sucked into the Host Club, which is a group of boys who make money by entertaining the rich girls at their school. They don't need the money (they are all super rich, after all), but do it because that's what they do. The thing you need to realize is that the characters are drawn and behave as stereotypes of their personalities -- and exaggerated stereotypes at that. Honey, for example, is the cute innocent boy that girls want to take care of, so he's drawn like a sweet little boy. The twins exude a "forbidden vibe" of homo eroticism, another is dark and mysterious, and so on. Once you wrap your head around that, this show really takes off. Also, it has one of the catchiest theme songs ever!

See you next week!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Comics: Found another box of comics

I found another stash of comics today. I was moving some boxes of books and found that one of them was marked "Comics & SF Digests." I cracked it open and found 51 comics digests inside... and none of them are under 15 years old -- and many were more than twice that age.

That's how long they were in storage.

This was a very pleasant surprise, as I thought I'd already found all of them. Plus, there were some cool issues, including Laugh #1, several early issues of Betty and Veronica, plus Pals 'n; Gals #4, 5 & 10.

My latest unearthed stash of comics digests.

One thing I've always liked about comics digests is the sheer quantity of pages you get in a single issue. The older digests had 256 pages. With this many issues, there's easily 10,000 pages of comics that I unearthed tonight. It would take weeks to read it all at a normal rate.

And some of this does bear re-reading. I particularly like the Jonah Hex and other Western Tales digest. This issue has some classic adventures in it, like the "Point Pyrrhus Massacre" and the "Point Pyrrhus Aftermath," which is probably my favorite Jonah Hex story of all time.

In addition the the Jonah Hex book, I also found some of the other DC Comics digests, including Legion of Super-Heroes, Superman Vs. Luthor, Ghosts and Superboy.

I enjoyed these digests from yesteryear, and have long thought that it would be a good idea for DC and other publishers to bring them back -- and more importantly, get them on the shelves in supermarkets and convenience stores.

A low-priced, mass market book might be able to get kids into the habit of reading comic books. As it is, with comics stuck almost entirely in specialty stores, I don't see much of a future for our great hobby.

See you back here on Friday for more Netflix finds!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Comics: Remembering the Defenders, pt. 3

In retrospect, the Steve Gerber years of the Defenders were probably the most puzzling, frustrating and utterly amazing run of comics ever written. Steve was clearly ahead of his time and if Eternity were around to meddle with reality for us, then a few tweaks in time and company could easily have seen Steve's version of the Defenders becoming a hit under the Vertigo line at DC comics years later.

There was something subversive about his use of the "Head Men," the often absurdist commentary on society, and utterly bizarre villains made his 20+ issues of the series something unique in comics. And, as I said, if it had been made a few years later, I think his run would have lasted for years and be considered more classic than it already is.

BTW: I don't know who wrote the entry for his Defenders run over at Wikipedia, but they hit the nail right on the head: Steve Gerber’s run on the Defenders saw a deconstruction of the superhero genre that predates the exploration of such ideas in the 1980s and 1990s.[3] Gerber first worked on the characters in Giant-Size Defenders #3 (January 1975) and became the writer of the main title with issue #20 the following month. He wrote the book until issue #41 (November 1976).[4] Gerber developed an individual voice that mixed adventure with social satire and absurdist humor throughout his lengthy run on The Defenders (including the introduction of Korvac). In one issue, for example, a group of supervillains, tired of always being beaten by the good guys, seeks out a self-help guru for motivation. Another important part of Gerber's oeuvre was reviving forgotten characters; he brought back three pre-Marvel characters, the Headmen.[5]The Defenders met Gerber's Howard the Duck in Marvel Treasury Edition #12 (1976).

The Defenders are Just Ducky The Defenders meeting Howard was an utterly mind-blowing experience. And I think one of the oddest things about it was... it worked. It seemed natural and not forced. Howard the Duck was an inter-dimensional traveler and the heroes took him to be just that -- not a guy in a duck suit (which was, of course, a running gag in his own series).

Doctor Strange even gives Howard a tour of the Sanctum Sanctorum (his house) and offers to use his powers to send Howard home. Somehow this odd meeting worked and didn't seem out of continuity or overly strained. You could actually picture Howard and Beverly meeting up with the Defenders, mooching a few meals and crashing at their pad and then moving on. It made sense, particularly since Steve Gerber was writing both titles at the time. Of course, it was the villains in that issue that really stand out as some of Gerber's grandest creations -- or should I say most blandest? The Band of the Bland:
  • Doctor Angst - A mediocre magician bent on seizing power and messing with reality.
  • Tillie the Hun - The aerobics instructor at Hefty Huggable Women's Health Club has a secret. She is none other that pillaging, plus-sized princess of power... TILLIE THE HUN!
  • Black Hole - He's actually the most dangerous of the group, with the ability to open a black hole in his chest and suck matter into some kind of pocket dimension. However, even he thinks this power is gross.
  • The Spanker - a disgraced headmaster fired for using too much corporal punishment.
  • Sitting Bullseye - A CIA operative who was undercover among the Indians to crack a bootlegging ring. The bootleggers, cracking his cover, tattooed a bullseye on his chest and sent him off. The easily identifiable mark would forever hinder his ability to work undercover and, subsequently, cost him his job. So, naturally, he became a super villain.
Despite their utterly absurd powers (or lack of them), they actually give the Defenders and Howard a run for their money in their attempt to assassinate Howard (oh yeah, he was running for the President of the United States back then against Jimmy Carter). I remember that even the Spanker (who I did not realize at the time was sort of a poor-man's Punisher" parody) got in a few cheap shots against Nighthawk and Beverly (he pistol whipped Kyle and took Beverly in hand for an OTK spanking -- that's Over The Knee to you civilians out there).

In all, it was an amusing issue that fit well into the continuity of both series, and even set things up for the Band of the Bland to make a few mediocre appearances elsewhere in the Marvel Universe over the years. Ahead of its time In many ways, I think Steve Gerber's run on the Defenders was just a few years too early to earn the sort of cultural significance it would have earned had it come about 10-20 years later. He was working in the early-to-mid 1970s, but if this series had run in the 1980s or 1990s it would have been received as much attention as the Grant Morrison and Rachel Pollack runs of the DOOM PATROL received.

More next week!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Netflix Friday: Quick Hits

This week I thought I would hit a few things that I found on Netflix I thought were interesting but didn't feel like writing a full review about.

It would be hard for me to express how much I really love this series. I think this is one of the most imaginative and well executed animated series to come along and years. Is about two brothers on summer vacation. Everyday they do something outrageous like build a roller coaster across town or have a robot rodeo -- all of which drives their sister crazy and she spends her time trying to "bust" them. If that wasn't enough, they also have a pet platypus that is actually a secret agent fighting to save the world from an inept mad scientist.

The show is fantastic because it has well rounded characters, interesting plots and killer music. And did I mention that it's completely clean? There are no dirty jokes or subtle innuendoes here. In many ways it is the opposite of Family Guy and American Dad. Netflix has about 35 episodes online, plus their Movie. If you decide to give this series a chance, I suggest that you watch about two or three episodes to get into the rhythm of it.

My wife and I recently discovered this show and it's become one of our favorite late-night diversions. This series is really a classic, old-school sitcom that enjoys its retro vibe. It's about three 40-ish women from Hollywood who accidentally get stuck in Cleveland, Ohio when they have airplane problems. These women are attractive, but in Hollywood they are considered old and over the hill, but in Cleveland they are "HOT." Men buy them drinks, hit on them and they love the attention, so they decide to move there.

The three women are  Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White. Yup, you definitely remember seeing these people on TV before from: One Day at a Time, Fraiser, Just Shoot Me, and too damn many shows to mention.  There a good summary of the cast and characters over at Wikipedia.

The show is not particularly new ground as the actresses play toward their strengths: Valerie is cute and spunky, Wendy is self-centered and vain, Jane is a bit ditsy in a cute British way, and Betty white plays the caretaker of the house (she lives in the guest cottage behind the house, which she actually owns but rents out for the money). Her character, Elka, is like a transporter accident had fused her two best characters:  Sue Ann Nivens and  Rose Nylund.

Aside from having a cast with great chemistry, there are also a lot of veteran sitcom actors who show up in cameos: Rhea Perlman, george wendt (who actually makes a "NORM!" entrance into an Amish bar), John Schneider, Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Bonnie Franklin, Hal Linden,  Peri Gilpin, John MahoneyJon and more.

Netflix has at least two seasons of this available, and we're enjoying it a lot.

See you next Friday for more!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Comics Software: The Race Is On

When I look at the stats in my software, I feel like I'm watching a race. A race between publishers and titles, mostly. Right now Archie is in the lead, but that can't and won't last because I entered almost all of my Archie comics first and I just don't buy that many of them any more. And even though I have not purchased a single DC or Marvel title for at least two years, I bought those two publishers almost exclusively for about 25 years.

Simply put, Marvel or DC will pass Archie before the end of May. As of this moment, here's how things break down for my top five publishers:

  • 877 - Archie
  • 869 - Marvel
  • 729 - DC Comics
  • 95 - Kenzer & Company
  • 52 - First Comics

In all, I'm starting with 2,969 comics tonight. As you can see, Marvel could pass Archie in a matter of minutes if I just opened the right box. But that's not where I'm going tonight. Tonight, I've decided to finish sorting through Bat Box 2 so I can put it away -- and move back to Bat Box 1.  BB1 contains mostly older Batman and Detective titles, whereas BB2 contains a mixed bunch of titles mostly from around 1998-1999 (a lot feature in the famous No Man's Land saga), but also has some earlier material. But all of it is related to Batman.

Here's a glance at what I'm planning to enter in the next hour.

Mostly Batman Comics that need to be cataloged.

In addition to racing to see which publisher has the most comics, I've also decided to race to see how fast I can enter these comics into the system, and blog about it while I'm doing it. My plan is to stop at regular intervals to see how fast I'm going. I'll also mention any problems I have with missing issues or titles that I encounter along the way. Since Batman is very popular, so I'm not expecting any big problems.

Gentlemen, start your engines!
I spent about 20 minutes sorting them by title and in issue order. This should make it a lot faster to enter them. Also, I replaced a few bags that felt funny (I think I mentioned in the past that I have a few old bags that feel oily to the touch, so I'm tossing those out and replacing them). My goal is not to bag or board any comics, but just to catalog them.

3 p.m. Start Time:  I'm going to start with titles of which I have short runs. Here's what I got done during this time:

  • 7 - Batman: Shadow of the Bat
  • 15 - Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight
  • 17 - Nightwing
  • 9 - Robin, vol. 2
3:06 - 3:15 p.m. Finished those above, but am now spending more time than expected trying to find Robin II mini-series, only to find I'd already entered it. Same thing with another All-Star Batman and Robin #1. I did find that I needed to enter the second book of Robin 3000, along with 80-Page Giant Robin. All in all, 5 new comics entered.

3:17 p.m. - 3:28 p.m.: Things are slowing down as I'm having to hunt through a lot of miscellaneous Batman titles to find graphic novels and one shots.
  • 3 - Anarky ( I know I'm missing some of these -- I'm pretty sure I've got all of them)
  • 11 - Azrael: Agent of the Bat
  • 4 - Batman: The Cult
  • 10 - Misc. One-Shot Bat Titles

3:30 - 3:36 p.m.: More Bat one-shots like the Killing Joke, Other Realms, The Book of Shadows, Batman Chronicles, Gotham Knights, Dark Knight Returns TPB, etc. At this point, I called it quits and ran a tally on how many comics I had entered in about 30 minutes (I'll knock off about 6 minutes for blogging).

I entered 93 Batman comics today,
bringing my new total to 3,062.

Thumbnails of what I entered tonight.
Click for full-sized image.
I actually looked for more than 100, but some of them had already been entered while working on another box. I had transferred them to Batman Box 2 as part of my efforts to sort things out. Also, I used this opportunity to use the "Edit Many Comics" feature to select all the comics I entered today and set their location to "Batman 2." Combined with about 35 other Bat books (Birds of Prey, Catwoman, Batgirl, etc.), this box is about 95% full -- leaving me just a little room to tip in other titles of these series that turn up.

By the way, my top three publishers are in serious contention for first place:
  • 877 - Archie
  • 869 - Marvel
  • 820 - DC Comics
Not bad for an evening's work, and I can finally get a box out of my office and put it up. Slowly, but surely I'm making progress on getting these cataloged and on cleaning out my office.

See ya back here for Netflix Friday!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Comics Software: Solving Problems with mobile

This weekend I braved a veritable stampede of geeks as they -- okay, WE -- scrounged and scavenged through the poly-bagged and preserved history of our collective youths. In other words, there was a 50% off sale on back issues at my local comic book store and I was there trying to fill in some holes in my Defenders collection, and perhaps nab a few other goodies.

In the old days, I would have come in with a want list on paper to make sure I didn't buy any duplicates. But this time I felt ready because I had updated my info on my Comic Collector account and could view it through the Synch-n-Share feature that's now provided with the software.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

I have a Droid Razr, which is a pretty darned good smart phone. Most of the time it does a great job surfing the Internet and displaying the pages I need to visit. Considering that the Website hosting my comics is relatively simple, I didn't expectthe problems I was going to encounter. The problem is, the site is not very usable on a smart phone because the series listing uses a custom control that does not render on the Droid's browser.

Here's what it looks like on my PC:

Click on image to see full sized.
The title-selection tool is designed to float up and down as you scroll the page, meaning that you can always see it. This works well on the PC, but not at all on my smart phone. Without the ability to scroll up and down, I couldn't find the Defenders in the list.

Click on image to see full sized.
No problem, I thought, I'll just search for the title with the site's search command. That did find the series, but listed the issues in a random order that I couldn't change. Also, it only returns 100 issues. Since I have 125 issues, this mean that a big chunk of my collection was missing. Mostly, though, it was the random order that bugged me so much. They came back in this order: 45, 78, 55, 88, 152, 72, 81, 131, 34, 142, 56, etc.

I picked this up this weekend.
Normally, you would be able to click on a column header to resort the material in that column, but that doesn't work here.

Bedrock City Comics didn't have a lot of early Defenders to choose from, so checking their stock against my collection was very tedious and I had to do it twice to make sure that I wasn't buying duplicates of #39 and #40. And, of course, I had to trust my memory because I couldn't see 25 of the titles that I already had.

I got lucky, by the way, and did not have those two issues. I picked them up for $$2.50 and $1.50, respectively (gotta love that 50% off!).

So now I'm only missing 22 issues of this series, and I will continue to track them down at my leisure (yeah, if I were really gung ho on these issues I could finish it in a week on ebay or just by driving around town, but I'm in no hurry).

User Error, Not Software Error
Needless to say, I was frustrated by the entire experience because this software was supposed to make my life a lot easier while shopping for used comics. I knew there was a smartphone app available (in fact, I already own it), but I don't like the idea of filling my phone up with a lot of screenshots and comic book data. I have unlimited data streaming and would much rather keep my stuff "in the cloud" than on my physical device.

So I came home and started poking around the various settings in the software to see if I could change sort orders or anything else that would help solve this problem, and then I found it. A separate link for mobile devices to access the Website.

Mobile Link:
mobile title listings
Ugh. This link solved my problems by loading a lean, mean Web page that listed ALL the titles I own in one long list.

It's not fancy, but I can quickly scroll down to see the Defenders (yup, it's highlighted in red to the left). This mobile site will work on any browser, so click on the link if you'd like to see my collection through that interface.

If you do, you 'll see that it provides a good deal of detail, but it doesn't let you expand on the size of the teeny-tiny little cover thumbnail. The one in this example is only 77 x 110 pixels, which is pretty darned small. If you need more detail than that, you're out of luck.

Of course, if you're looking at details like cover price or other minor details, you can always go back to the full site and search for that specific issue (if you can find it, of course -- because the search box only returns the title -- you cannot search for a specific issue: That is to say, searching for "Defenders 39" (with or without quotes) will return all the Defenders titles, in that bad, random order that I showed you above.
mobile detail screen

Concluding my Mobile Woes
Now that I have both of my collection pages bookmarked in my phone, I think my comic book shopping troubles are over. The dream lives on that, with, I will soon be able to know what I've already got so I can go out and get what I want.

See you back here Wednesday for more Comics Talk

Friday, May 11, 2012

Comics: Updating my collection

I've been using Comic Collector for a while now, and I thought you might be interested in the progress of my collection. Now that I'm done with the titles that are outside the mainstream of fanboy collecting (mainly, I mean the older Archie Comics, particularly the digests), I'm finding that entering comics is much faster. In other words, now that the info and covers are already there, I'm able to breeze through the data entry process.

Some of the comics I entered today.

In about two hours I entered almost 350 comics. Here's the highlights:

127 Defenders (vol. 1)
61 Fantastic Four (vol. 1)
50 Detective Comics (vol. 1)
30 E-Man (Modern Comics & First Comics)
25 Doctor Strange (vol. 2)
16 Batman (vol. 1)
15  Birds of Prey
11 Catwoman (vol 2)
335   TOTAL

One of the main reasons it took me so long was that I spent time rebagging some of the comics. I have a few bags that have gotten a weird texture over the past 20-30 years, so I'm replacing them. I suspect they were cheap bags. I'm also having to sort some of the comics in the newer boxes. The older ones were packed before I went to college, so they were done right. That is to say, everything is in ordered and already bagged.
Currently, Defenders is my largest
collection of a single title.

Today's cataloging efforts come from one of my older longboxes (The D-F Box) and about half a shortbox (mostly Batman titles from around the year 2000). The stuff I entered this day was a mixed bag. Obviously, most of what I entered were Defenders comics. I think this is probably all of them, although I thought I had a few Giant-Size Defenders lurking around. Unless I put them in the G box, though, I'm not sure where they are. I've got 127 out of the series that ran for 152 issues. Not bad. Now that I can pinpoint exactly what I need, I may go back and fill in those missing issues or upgrade a few that are missing covers.

The same is true for the Doctor Strange and E-Man comics. I would be very surprised if more of those turned up elsewhere in my collection. At least not from these particular series. For example, I know I've got more Doctor Strange comics from the "Midnight Sons" from around 2000. But those are in a different box right now, so I've not yet consolidated all of Stephen Strange's titles into a single location.

Doctor Strange #63, 1984
Speaking of the good sorcerer supreme, for some reason this cover by Carl Potts is one of my all-time favorite Doctor Strange. I can't really say why, other than I like the simple cleanliness of the design and the relatively understated coloring. I remember enjoying this particular series of comics and I have almost every issue from #48 - 72. It looks like I'm missing #67, but I find that unlikely. I suspect it will turn up in another box.

As for the other stuff I entered today, I can say that the Batman comics are definitely not exhaustive. I know I've got more lurking in other boxes, particularly my older Batmans from the 1970s and 1980s.

And that's just Batman proper -- I've yet to enter the various "Family" titles like Robin, Azrael, Shadow the Bat, Legend, etc. There's still half a short box behind me just waiting to be put into the system. Reports
Click on picture to see full-size.
I talked about the cool reports built into the Comic Collector software, and I'm still enjoying them. They satisfy my need for trivial information, like what is my largest series? Okay, I can probably guess that it will be Defenders (and I would be right), but what's in the number two and three spots? As you can see from this, two Archie titles hold those slots, with Knights of the Dinner Table coming in fourth.

This is, of course, just the way things shake down today. I still have thousands of comics to enter and I have no idea how things will shake down in the future.

If I had to guess, though, my money would be on Knights of the Dinner Table to be my largest single series. They've already published more than 180 issues and I'm still buying that title. Plus, I'm only missing about 10 (I think -- I'll know for sure when I get to that box).

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sit back and read one of the "treasures" I found in today's box: Destroyer Duck #1

If you're interested in seeing my collection, you can see it here:

See you back here on Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Comics: Remembering the Defenders, pt. 2

I think my favorite Defenders are (in no particular order): Hellcat, Nighthawk, Valkyrie and Gargoyle. I'm not sure why, but it seemed like Patsy and Kyle (that's Hellcat and Nighthawk) really seemed to want to be there. Neither of them were really doing much else at the time and hanging out with other superheroes just seemed to be a natural activity for them. Kind of the way firefighters hang out -- even if they're from different stations might gravitate toward each other because they have a shared language and background.

Nighthawk was, for a time, the glue that held the team together. He had the money and provided the resources that the team needed to hang out, including a place for Valkyrie to keep her flying horse, Aragorn. The Richmond Riding Academy even served as their hang-out for a while, giving them one of the more unusual bases of the various Marvel super teams (mansions and sky-scrapers were the usual fare for the extremely urbane heroes of NYC. Update

I pulled my Defenders comics out of their longbox for this article so that I could do a quick review of what I had and was very pleased at how quickly I was able to enter the comics into the Comic Collector database.

I have a run of 109 issues, from Defenders #44 - 152. I also have 18 of the previous issues, including small runs here and there with a lot of covers missing on those very early issues. I also have Defenders #1 & #2. I picked those up a few years back when a comic book store went out of business. I don't remember what I paid for them, but I do know it was well under the price stickers on the two books, $45 and $13, respectively. I'd be surprised if I pad more than $15 for the pair of them.

So, all in all, I have 127 of the Defenders comics and I was able to enter them into the system in about 10 minutes. Most of that time was spent double checking issue numbers and be very precise on which issues were missing (as I told you before in a previous post, I'm a notorious double and triple bagger -- I will put multiple comics in a single bag, so sometimes I had to open the bag to be sure of what's in it). Doing the math, that means I've 83% of this series. Not bad. Now that I know what issues I'm missing, maybe I can hit a sale and fill them in.

My first letter printed in a comic book was probably Defenders #79, Jan 1980. Not a great letter, but it was my first. I was pretty inspired to write because the change in writing which brought in a controversial change that brought back the Foolkiller as a character. I was very pleased with myself and I took it to school to show some buddies; the school newspaper even did a short story on it. It was pretty cool. Of course, the comic got beat up by being handled by other people, so I had to go out and buy another copy. This may have been the first time I've bought multiple copies of a comic that my letter appeared in, but it wasn't the last. All in all, I believe I've had letters appear in seven different comics.

Remind me to tell you about them sometime!

This issue was written by Ed Hannigan and I really enjoyed what he did with the series (ignore my rantings in the letter -- his work grew on me). I particularly enjoyed his Tunnelworld stories. This was a magic dimension on the inside of a giant... well, cigar-shaped hollow rock. It was long, tapered at the ends, and the entire world existed inside it, sort of like a ring world or Dyson Sphere, but shaped like a tunnel. I was really into all things Tolkien at that time, so this was a neat treat. It had mystic creatures like the Sputs (kind of a cross between dwarfs and halflings). I'm going to go back and reread those issues because I really enjoyed the mixture of superheroes in such a strongly defined fantasy setting.

The Not-Quiet-Sorceress Supreme
Doctor Strange wasn't always available to work with the Defenders, so oftentimes his girlfriend/disciple Clea would fill in and provide the mystic power the team needed. In that she wasn't nearly as powerful as Stephen, she wasn't there to be the deus ex machina that the Sorcerer Supreme could be. I recall that she traveled to Tunnelworld with Nighthawk, Valkyrie and Hellcat (and possibly some other heroes -- it has been a few decades since I last read this stuff).

Click here to read a cool
article about Tunnelworld.
Two things I remember from this storyline (if not exactly the issue listed above), and those would be that because the world was in a tunnel (it's a magical dimension, so you can quit worrying about applying your Mythbuster skills to its ecology) so that it was possible to fly straight up and, eventually, hit a zero gravity point gravity on all sides of you equalized and you could float in the middle of the world.

I also remember the words to Clea's translation spell that she cast so that they and the Sputs could understand each other. I have no idea why this bit of poetry stuck in my mind, but I did whip it out once or twice in a game of Dungeons & Dragons and impressed the GM!

Here's how I remember it:

Big folk, small folk and folk in between
All have a way to tell what they've seen.
By the powers that beckon
By the powers that reach
Let each folk here understand 
the other one's speech!

When I pull these issues to reread them, I'll check the actual text against my memory and we'll see how close I am.

More on the Defenders next week.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Comics: Remembering the Defenders, pt. 1

The new Avengers movie is fantastic. It is -- without a doubt -- the best of the new Marvel Movies to date. Yes, even better than Spider-Man 1 and Iron Man 1 or Captain America. This isn't too surprising, as  this movie is the culmination of work that was laid out in many of the previous movies.

Normally, when you get too many characters together in a movie, like the X-Men, you can wind up with some of them just standing around while the "hot" characters take the lead and then the minor characters get a few good scenes to justify their presence. There's a little bit of that in Avengers -- Tony Stark does seem to have a few more good scenes than the others, but not so much that he steals the show like Logan/Wolverine did in the early X-Men movies.

Thinking of the Avengers -- and their classic bot not-canonical line-up (of the movie cast, only Hulk, Iron Man and Thor were actually in Avengers #1), I started thinking of another team that I enjoyed -- and actually preferred to "Eath's Mightiest Heroes," and that would be "The Greatest Non-Team of them all," The Defenders.

The Defenders first appeared in late 1971 and featured three of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe: Doctor Strange, Hulk and the Sub-Mariner. The thing was, they were not an official team like the Avengers, but three power houses who joined together to save the world and then went on their way... only to be drawn back together when needed.

Here's what it says at Wikipedia:
The Defenders is the name of a number of Marvel Comics superhero groups which are usually presented as a "non-team" of individualistic "outsiders," each known for following their own agendas. The team usually battled mystic and supernatural threats. Its original incarnation, often considered the most powerful formation of superheroes in the Marvel Universe, was led by Doctor Strange and also included the Hulk, Namor, and as a kind of belated addition, the Silver Surfer. They first appeared as The Defenders in Marvel Feature #1 (December 1971).

I picked up a few issues here and there when they first came out, but the series didn't really click for me until I picked up Defenders #45. I remember getting this issue and really enjoying seeing all these heroes that I didn't know, but who obviously had rich back stories, like Nighthawk and Hellcat. Not to mention Valkyrie, Power Man and Hulk, who I knew but hadn't seen in a while.

I don't recall much of the story (and if I pulled each issue to reread it, my next update would be sometime in July), but I seem to recall that half of the team was being controlled by someone and the other half of the team had to fight them. Typical stuff... and typically wonderful! This issue was a blast and I greatly enjoyed it. So much so that I hunted down recent back issues. In those days, you could often find 2-3 months of back issues just sitting on the stands, hiding behind the other comics at 7-11. As for comic book stores? This was 1977, people. Comic book stores were rare things in those days. More often you'd find a box of abused comics at a used book store and if you asked your mom nicely, she'd buy you 5-10 for a buck.

But back to the "Non-Team." You see, that's what the Defenders called themselves. A "non-Team." Whereas the Avengers had a battle cry, a leader, a base, equipment, and even begrudging recognition from S.H.I.E.L.D. and the US Government, the Defenders were not that official. By the time I came along in the mid 40s issues, David Anthony Kraft was presenting them almost as a group of super-powered buddies who hung out with each other and bashed baddies as a sideline. This was a radical departure from the other teams out at that time.
  • The Avengers were warriors
  • The Fantastic Four were family
  • X-Men were students
  • The Champions... well, I was never clear on what they were
But the Defenders were friends, and that's probably the reason why they were able to keep the Hulk around so long. I always figured that the Hulk didn't like being told what to do, which is why he resented the authority and orders that were always being barked at him in the early issues of the Avengers. Plus, let's be honest, he really didn't belong -- nor could he stay -- a member in that team and have it make any sense at all. After all, it would be ridiculous to have him standing next to Captain America and Thor in the Avengers only to have him being hounded by Gen. Thunderbolt Ross in the Hulk comic a few days later. It would diminish the authority and respect people have for the Avengers and just play too much havoc with continuity in general.

But in a team like the Defenders? Why not? They were not out to grab headlines, and in fact, most of them preferred to keep a low profile, anyway. In fact, half the time the team was complaining about how they didn't want to be there in the first place and were usually annoyed because Doctor Strange sometimes manipulated his "friends" into helping him save the universe. Plus, there weren't all those pesky rules over at the Avengers (training, roll-calls, meeting, etc.). The biggest rule at the Defenders seemed to be not to mess up Doc Strange's house while you were hanging out there.

The three of them together, along with the almost-immediate additions of the Silver Surfer and the Valkyrie, had a great combination of raw power and diverse skills to take on any and all comers, which they did on a regular basis.

But we'll talk more about that on Wednesday.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Netflix Friday: Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes

As I wrote earlier this week, I am super psyched up about the new Avengers movie. I've been a fan for years and this really looks like it's going to be something special. With an estimated budget of $220 million, it looks like it's going to be a spectacle worthy of pulling together six of the greatest heroes of the Marvel Universe: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye. Nick Fury is cool, but an eyepatch really doesn't count as a costume, does it?

One of the things I've been doing while getting ready for this movie which opens today and I'm definitely going to be there -- I could have gone tonight, but I just don't go to midnight movies that don't require me to wear a costume and sing "Sweet Transvestite" while wearing a feather boa. To warm up for the movie, these past few months I turned to Netflix for my Avengers fix.

No, they don't have the latest blockbuster, but they do have season one of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. This is an animated series that does a great job of creating a hybrid of the classic Stan Lee & Jack Kirby Avengers comics and fusing them with the cooler modern elements from the movies. It also creates a more traditional line-up that includes Giant-Man and the Wasp in the line-up (no disrespect to Clint and Natasha, but Hank and Janet were there first).

The series opens with individual episodes dedicated to Iron Man, Thor and Hulk (along with Hawkeye and Black Widow), then gets into the series itself which involves all our fan favorites: S.H.I.E.L.D., HYDRA, Loki, the Enchantress, and the usual (and unusual) supervillains that make this stuff so much fun.

Each episode is about 23 minutes long and, once the team gets together, it really picks up steam.

I don't want to get into the plot of the entire first season (but if you're interested, you can check out the episode guide here), but I will say this is a blast from the past with a few cool retcons thrown in. For example, in Episode 4, "Meet Captain America," not only do we see the WWII fighting prowess of Captain America and Bucky, but there's the Howling Commandos -- and LOGAN himself. Yup, Logan fighting alongside Dum Dum Dugan against Hydra in WWII. This is a fun episode that tells how Cap wind up frozen and makes it into the 21st Century.

We then get to move into the present day and meet other heroes like the Black Panther. All in all, it's a nice mix of action and soap opera -- just like the original comic series. We also get characters like Wonder Man, Captain Marvel and more.

What impresses me most about this series is that it's so good, and that it's not overly kid-centric. That's been the problem with most of Marvel's animated series: they recast the characters as teens in order to appeal more to a younger audience (a teen-age Tony Stark just makes no sense at all). In this series, as with the superior DC Comics animated series like Justice League, the Avengers are adults and are portrayed as such. Also, the designs are classic Kirby and John Buscema. It should also be noted that I see some elements from Roy Thomas in here, too. All in all, a great series that I highly recommend.

So far, Netflix just has the first season (WARNING: It ends with a cliff-hanger!), but it has been renewed for a second season that has already started airing on Disney XD.  If you're a fan of the Avengers, or would like to find out more about the classic Avengers that inspired the new movie, you should definitely check this out.

See ya back here on Monday for more Comics Talk.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Comics Movie: The Avengers are coming!

I'm about to enter a state of Nerdvana. The Avengers movie is coming out on Friday and I must admit that I'm SUPER hyped about it. It's been a while since I've been this excited about a superhero movie. The last must-see movies for me were The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt. 2, and even Twilight: Breaking Dawn pt. 1. Okay, sue me for liking movies based on good kid lit. Okay, maybe Twilight isn't all that "good," but it did make me want to see what happens next, which is frankly a lesson "mature" fiction would do well to learn.

As for must-see Superhero Movies, the last one I got excited about was Captain America. And I'm pleased to say that one paid off -- I loved it. I have high hopes for this movie, too. Watching the movie trailers on TV has found me pausing them to answer questions from my wife about who the heroes are. There's a decent chance she'll go see the movie with me the second time I go (I'm going Friday afternoon and she can't take off work, so we'll go together next week).

And it also got me thinking about my favorite Avengers comics and stories.

Avengers: Essential and Otherwise
I have no idea what my earliest Avengers comic might be; I have not yet cataloged those comics. I have entered 7 into the system, and the earliest of those is Avengers #51 from April 1968. I also have #55 and #56. These are all that I've entered so far... I'm pretty sure I've got another 3-5 years worth waiting to be entered into the database.

For me, these are the "classic" Avengers, back when the whole Marvel continuity seemed fresh and exciting (also, I should mention that I read these several years after they were published -- I was less than five years old when these issues came out).  I really didn't get into the Avengers until the latter part of the 1970s and then the 1980s.

These issues featured the Avengers at their bickering best: arguing with each other while saving the world from aliens, monsters, and more super-villains than you can shake a stick at (not that I think that would be an effective strategy, unless of course the stick was Daredevil's billy club). This material came out in the dark days before the Internet or massive omnibus reprints like the super-cool Marvel "Essential" series. In those dark days you had to find comics at used book stores (if you were lucky), or have a friend who had them (I didn't) or just ignore what you were missing and just move on as the story continued.

Fortunately, those days are gone and most of this classic material has been reprinted in b&w phone book sized collections of about 500 pages. I have Essential Avengers 1 and 2, which is to say I've got about 1,000 pages of reprinted material from the classic early era of the Avengers. I will probably hunt down vol. 2 so I can fill in the gaps from the early days where the team first came together to fight Loki and to where Hank Pym donned the rather snappy costume of Yellowjacket (that dude to the right).

I think the storyline I remember most is the Wundagore Mountain in which the Scarlet Witch searched for the identity of her parents. That storyline blew my mind because it tied into so many cool things that I really didn't know very much about at that time:

  • Wundagore Mountain and its ties to the Darkhold
  • The High Evolutionary (all I knew of him was that he was somehow involved in the origin of Jessica Drew, the Spider-Woman)
  • The Whizzer was Wanda and Pietro's father (I knew him from his appearances in the Liberty Legion) ?
  • The evil Cthon (which I later equated to Cthulhu -- how cool is that?)
All in all, the "Yesterday Quest" was incredible reading back in July 1979. For me, this whole era (which some people hate because the line-up was changed by government command to only seven members, including the Falcon, who just had no business in the team back then). I liked it. It was exciting and really showed how the series was tied into the very foundations of the Marvel universe.

Of course, all good things come to an end. Eventually I moved on from the Avengers, although I did pick up an issue to read every now and then. Frankly, I'm glad I wasn't there for "Avengers: Disassembled" or the later "House of M" stuff. To me, those "mega-events" really did more harm than good. They made the comics too twisted and confusing to follow for all but the most die-hard uber-fanboy. And that just ain't me. I prefer my comics a little simper, like they were in the 70s and 80s. Of course, that's just the bitter mumblings of an old guy who thinks comics were better when he was a kid.  

How predictable of me.

But you know what? Just as youth has its prerogatives, so does age: We each get to gripe about how the other just doesn't understand. Of course, we also get to enjoy the new stuff, like the super-coll AVENGERS MOVIE coming out on Friday! Way back in my comic reading days of 1979, there is no way I could have imagined a live-action movie based on Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and no way I could have imagined that film making technology could actually bring the comic page to life. 

And that is TOTALLY COOL.

See ya here for Netflix Friday and a visit from the Avengers!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Netlflix Friday: Eden of the East Update

Last week I talked about a cool anime that I'm watching called Eden of the East.  I was about midway through the series at that point and since then, things have changed a bit -- and with it, my thoughts about whether this is anime for people who don't like anime.

Around episodes 6 and 7, we get a strange tangent storyline that is definitely not suitable for kids and is not family friendly. It also ends in a weird scene that, although explained, sort of blows the whole "fairly realistic" comment I made about this show last week.

Takizawa is searching for the other "Saviors," that is the people playing the "game" to save Japan. In order to find more information about his own past (did I mention last week that he found out that he has amnesia because he purposefully wiped his own memory?) that he has started tracking down the other players in the game. One of them was crooked, another was actually a doctor who set up a free community for the elderly (and then met his fate because he spent all his money without playing to win), and then we find the next one.

She's a beautiful business woman who is  powerful and, welllllllll, she's a bitch. A mega bi-atch. She treats her staff like dirt and has the emotional depth of a drop of rain water. Oh, and she's a serial killer who, apparently, has kidnapped one of Saki's friends and is about to use the cigar cutter (see the picture below) in a way that should make every man reading this cross his legs.

You see, she's the notorious (some say urban legend) Johnny Killer. So named because that's what she cuts off. Takizawa tracks her down and confronts her, the two revealing that they are both playing the game. This is where the "realism" seems to take flight... literally as the killer sprouts giant black wings and flies off with her victim.

When I saw this happen, I thought that this was some sort of unnecessary twist and a nod out to the guys who like more fantasy in their anime. But at the end we catch a glimpse of her cell phone and it shows an expense for creating an illusion. Yup, an intense illusion of her sprouting wings and flying away.

Now I'm left to ponder if this was some sort of fan service (i.e. something gratuitous for the fans) to show a dark angel in her underwear, or is this some sort of preview of the sort of power that can be harnessed by whoever is running the game? In other words, will Takizawa need some sort of illusion in the future? Only time (and a handful more episodes) will tell.

BTW: Last week I gave you guys some bad info. I said that Netflix does not have either of the two Eden of the East movies. I was wrong. They have the first one.

See ya back here next week for more fun and frolic.