Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baltimore Comic Con

Hi-de Ho, CBJ!!!

It's your Creepy Uncle Stephen, back for another round of "Don't Tell Mom and Dad"!

So, who's going to be making the trek down to Baltimore Comic Con next weekend? Because I know that I'm going to be there, along with many of my Alterna Comics cohorts, all schilling our funny books and hobnobbing with those poor souls unfortunate enough to get too close to the booth.

I haven't spent a lot of time in BMore, so having the friendly faces of CBJers popping up now and then sure would be nice... And besides, this may be your only chance to see me until December.

"But Creepy Uncle Stephen, what's in December?"

All will be revealed in due time, my sweets. ;)

~ Stephen

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Previews and Reviews with Gore Jones

What's up world!
Back in the saddle for another edition of Previews and Reviews. Some cool stuff happened in the past week. My band (The Grieving Process) released a new song on our myspace page, head over there and check it out and leave us some love. After 4 years in the waiting Rob Zombie's cartoon movie based on the comic series "The Haunted Adventures of El Superbeasto" finally came out!! For those of you in the NY area with Time Warner Cable, you can order it on the Movies on Demand channel. Definitely worth the wait. This week in comics wasn't too shabby either, some seriously good stuff came out...

Spider-Woman #1

This week we finally got the comic book version of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's Spider-Woman. We catch up to Jessica Drew post Secret Invasion to find her having a very hard time coping with everything that's happened. Poor Jessica, she's one of the most notorious people on earth now because of The Skrull Queen posing as her. Abigail Brand head of S.W.O.R.D shows up randomly to offer her a job with S.W.O.R.D hunting down alien species living here on earth. Her first mission is hunt down and find the remaining Skrulls who went into hiding after the end of Secret Invasion. I loved this book and I'm glad to finally have it in my hands as opposed to the Itunes Digital Comic that Marvel has had out for sometime now. Bendis loves this character and you will too. If you passed this one up, forgot it or just didn't care, make it a point to scoop it up now before you're scouring comic shops for a copy of it!

5 out of 5

Blackest Night Superman #2

This weeks offering for Blackest Night and goddamn was it good. The battle between Earth-2 Superman, Superman and Superboy was awesome. In the middle of the fray who shows up but newly resurrected Psycho Pirate. As you all may or may not remember the last time we saw him was in Infinite Crisis as he was having Black Adam's fist smashed through his face. Last seen at the end of Blackest Night issue #3 being part of the resurrected villians from the JLA masoleum. Now, Psycho Pirate is having a grand ole' time toying with the citizens of Smallville while watching on as the SuperMen battle it out in the sky above. Eddy Barrows artwork really makes the story pop and it's almost sad that the book only has 22 pages.

5 out of 5

Superman Secret Origin #1

Geoff Johns and Gary Frank bring us the 3rd and hopefully final retelling of Clark Kent"s beginings in Smallville and his ascent to becoming Superman. Very much like the past tales of Clark's childhood, we see him growing up in the small Kansas town. This time around though Lex Luthor is a member of the town and he still has hair..haha.
I personally thought it was a great issue but the fact is that Johns has almost already told this story in his run on Action Comics. I think it's a little unnecessary for DC to have another book with stories we've already read before and it's a concept that's already been done, MANY TIMES. Those of you who remember that DC relaunched many titles after Crisis on infinite earths to streamline the universe and make things flow but like all of us know, they f'ed that up pretty bad with not keeping the continuity of stories together and due to changes in writers a lot was lost. They attempted to again re-do their mistakes with Infinite Crisis but again lost the whole point of the story; which was again to stream line the universe and make it all cohesive. I can appreciate how Johns is trying to makeup for these mistakes with this book but really what's the point other than to have Gary Frank draw a Superman book.

3 out of 5

Giant Sized Old Man Logan

After months of missing shipping dates due to Mark Millar being ill and then Marvel deciding to give Daken the Wolverine title, We get this Giant Sized finale to the "Old Man Logan" story. At the end of the last issue we saw Logan kill the Red Skull, watch Hawkeye die and come home to find his family murdered by The Hulks. It picks up with Logan not caring anymore and being the best at what he does and this time around it's slaughtering The Hulk Clan. There really isn't much information given about anything other than Bruce decided to "mate" with She-Hulk and have this red neck hills have eyes clan of deformed Hulklings. Logan guts and claws his way to Banner, They duke it out and well.... I still feel like the story ended off before it should have. I think there should've been something more to the story. I would've liked to see more explained on how all the villains got together and took over America, how all the heroes died, how Bruce Banner just up and decided to become a monster once and for all. I really feel this issue was done just to finish the story at hand and maybe dip into it at a later date.

2 out of 5

Marvel Zombies Return #4

This issue was alright in comparison with last issue, after dealing with Spider-man possibly having a cure for the zombie virus, The "World War Hulk" story line comes into play as everyone's favorite green monster comes home looking for the Illuminati with his newly formed WarBound. It's all good and well until the Sentry shows up to stop him and is bitten transforming him into the catalyist of world wide infection. The Hulk gets bite trying to escape the hordes of zombies and he himself sees the same fate. I really hope they wrap this book up tight this week with the final issue. I love the concept and the characters but I don't want this idea to become Marvel's dead horse they love to beat.

3 out of 5

With that said and done, now onto what I'm Jonesin' for this week in comics.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Honest George - The People's Friend

Smallville starts season 9 tonight . What a run for the latest “Superman” television show. Of course Superman has always had very successful runs on TV. Lois and Clark was a huge hit with it’s focus on the romantic triangle of Lois, Clark and Superman, Superboy did very well as a syndicated show, The Animated Superman set new standards for what an animated show could be. In fact it is hard to find a time when The Man Of Steel was absent from the small screen.
Which brings us to the grand daddy of them all, The Adventures Of Superman (1951-1958) and Honest George, The People’s Friend – George Reeves.

For millions of fans Tom Welling is the embodiment of Superman. If you are slightly older it is Dean Cain. A bit older and it is the great Christopher Reeve who made us all believe a man can fly. And later, through his remarkable courage, made us truly believe in Superman. But if you were born before 1960 it was George. To me and those of my generation George Reeves WAS Superman.

Even today, George is the blueprint for Superman on the screen. Square jawed, sober and earnest . That’s it in a nutshell. But what George brought to the role is that wonderful touch of gentle humor. The twinkle in the eye. Chris Reeve and Dean Cain most certainly brought that element into their portrayals of Superman. Welling not as much because of the whole teenage angst thing, but he did double up on the earnest.

I think what sets George apart from all the others however is how comfortable he was being Superman. He was always so relaxed. It was not uncommon to see George, in his Superman uniform leaning against a wall, delivering a line to Lois or Jimmy. He often joked with the crooks he was capturing and he SMILED when they shot at him. George’s Superman had a lot of FUN just being Superman. And he often broke the fourth wall to give us kids a wink and a smile. George was like the perfect dad or uncle. In my generation, when being a role model was actually a good thing, George was one of the best.

I learned a lot from watching George in those old shows. I learned about the importance of honesty, looking out for my friends, helping people less fortunate than I am. Most importantly I learned that it was ok not to take myself too seriously. I learned ALL of that from Honest George, so I figure I owe him one. I am going to set the record straight on a few things regarding my old friend.

You all know that George died from a bullet wound to the head. Some say it was suicide (that is the official line), others believe it was homicide. Frankly no one will ever know for sure. But what IS true is that, in the wake of his death a lot of misconceptions about George began to surface. There was a rumor that George was just plain nuts and thought he WAS Superman and jumped out a window. It was generally accepted that he was despondent over being type cast and could not find work which drove him to suicide. People said he was an alcoholic and killed himself in a booze induced haze. It is generally accepted that he hated playing Superman and was miserable on the set.

None of this is true.

1) George NEVER lost his sense of reality. Never jumped out a window. The only think he would jump into is the occasional martini at a party.

2) George was NOT out of either work or prospects. He had directed the last few episodes of The Adventures Of Superman from the 6th season and was slated to direct more in the NEXT season that was signed for before his death. He was delighted to be back at work (according to Noell Neill) and saw directing as the next phase of his career. George was optimistic about his future.

3) George liked to drink! No doubt about it. Once shooting was over for the day, cocktail hour began. But he was not an alcoholic by any stretch. George was a product of his times when afternoon cocktails were a normal thing. In fact he was very much into physical fitness and took his body very seriously.

4) Was George sometimes frustrated by Superman. Yes! After the first season the scripts became more and more juvenile. On the other hand, he liked to stand outside camera range, mugging at the other cast members to see if he could break them up. According to Larson, Reeves took on-set photos with his camera and handed out prints. By all accounts, there was a strong camaraderie among the show's actors. He maintained close friendships with Jack Larson, Robert Shayne, Phyllis Coates and Noell Neill. To this day when they speak of George a smile lights their face. Hardly the memory of someone who was miserable and hard to work with.

There you go George. I set the record straight on that, but there is one more thing that needs clearing up. Over the years when George would get frustrated he often wished that he could have at least one ADULT fan. He did not feel that he had been successful. George was wrong.
That generation of kids grew up to be millions of adult George Reeves fans.

Mention George to Mark Hamill, or Bill Mummy, or Ron Perlman and watch their faces light up.
He spent the last years of his working life giving a lot of kids joy and thrills.

We loved him for that.

That is what I call successful George.

Somewhere I like to think he knows this and is giving us all that famous wink and smile.

That’s 30!


War…What Is It Good For?

As anyone who follows Marvel titles knows, the consequences of the Civil War over the Superhero Registration Act continues to impact the entire Marvel Universe. From the death (and coming resurrection ) of Captain America, to the disillusion of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the ascendency of Norman Osborn, the continued issues with Tony Stark, The Illuminati, and the crisis of conscious of Reed Richards, we are seeing a world where nothing is certain. A world where the superhero is less effective then when he or she was free. While the Civil War did coerce US based heroes who want to operate within the law, to register you can make the argument that it actually compromised the very security that it was designed to protect.

So what was the Superhero Registration Act about anyway?

Simply put the SRA was a knee jerk reaction to a tragic accident. It was a fascistic and unconstitutional attempt to mollify a panicky public in the wake of World War Hulk and the tragedy at Stamford. Driven by Tony Stark, the SRA was seen as a panacea that would prevent such things from happening in the future by insuring that all “heroes” were properly trained. Ultimately this was completely naïve at best, and fatally flawed logic at worst.

If we look at the performance of the Superhero community as a whole over the life of the Marvel universe, they certainly have done far more good than bad. How many times have The X-Men, Avengers and FF saved the world? How often has Spiderman brought down murders, thieves and super villains? Was it not Daredevil who brought down The Kingpin? What happened here is that Stark and those who followed him gave a disproportionate weight of one or two tragic failures against hundreds, even thousands of successes. I submit that the success rate of the Superhero community is probably akin to that of the police force or fire department. That is to say very high. While Policemen and Firemen are highly trained, they do from time to time have tragic failures as well. It comes with the hero territory…sometimes you fail.

By splintering the Superhero community and pulling the teeth from Shield in the power vacuum that ensued, start opened the door wide for a Norman Osborn to dance right through. Think about it. THE GREEN GOBLIN is running the candy store!

Captain America was correct in his judgment. You simply cannot protect freedom by limiting it. Free societies pay a price for that freedom and it is often paid for in blood. It is easy to defend individual rights when things are all hunky dory. It is when we as a society are under the MOST duress that protecting those rights becomes vital because it defines our character as a people. Nations are very much like individuals when their survival is perceived as threatened. Then our ideals go out the door and it becomes about doing the expedient thing. Survive.

Which raises the question: “Survive as what?” Who are we, what worth do we have if we abandon our beliefs as a people for the sake of expedience?

In this arena Tony Stark had a good heart but not the stomach, the character, to defend freedom when it became most difficult. Tony Stark was weak and his failure was far more catastrophic than Stamford.

And make no mistake, the defense of freedom was the crux of the Civil War, it was not about the superhero registration act per se. It was about setting a precedent whereby ANY minority group can be forced to register simply because they belong to that group. If you can force Superheroes to register, you can force Superheroes with a certain power set to be segregated from the rest of society, if you can do that you can force Black Superheroes to register, or Jewish Superheroes to register, or gay Superheroes to register. If you can do on you can do it all. And Cap knew THAT was more dangerous than The Skrulls, Galactus and Dr. Doom combined.

With the release of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 fans are going to be able to take sides in The Civil War. As for me I intend to be Cap.

Comments? Are you Pro Registration? Anti? Let’s hear from you troops!

Next – Gentleman George The People’s Friend

That’s 30!



Hey ya'll, another great week of comics is upon us! Also, if you're a Magic player make sure you come down to the store on Friday, October 2nd at around 6:00 PM for our Zendikar release party! For more information on this and other events as well as the list of all the new stuff coming in, keep reading!


On Friday, October 2nd we will be having a release party and booster draft for the new Magic the Gathering set, Zendikar. The entry fee is $20 and registration will begin at 6:00 PM. Drafting will start at 6:45 and a tournament will follow directly after. THERE WILL BE NO LATE REGISTRATION SO PLEASE BE ON TIME! There will be prizes for the top 3 players and free promo cards for each player. We will also have plenty of Zendikar boosters, fat packs, intro packs and boxes available for purchase. Don't miss it!


Yes, it's true! This week's raffle is a good one! We've been raffling off specific items since we started this raffle thing and now we're letting YOU choose what you want. Buy any amount of raffle tickets you want for just $1 a piece and if you win you'll be able to take home any statue you want. Big, small it doesn't matter. It can be the least expensive statue, it can be the most expensive statue we have in stock, it doesn't matter, it's all up to you! Be sure not to miss it, the raffle starts up on Saturday, September 19th and ends on Wednesday, September 30th. As always, one dollar for one ticket!


OK, you're our friend on Facebook. That's all well and good but if you followed us on Twitter you would be privy to all the daily sales we recently started doing. We've done some good ones over the past few days including 25% off all hardcovers, 50% off all manga, and buy one t-shirt get one 1/2 off! So be hip to our tweets and follow ComicBookJones!


E-mail us your full name and birthday and receive a special gift from us when your special day arrives! Send your e-mail to with the subject line "Birthday."


Criminal Sinners #1 - 10/7/09 (Old Date 9/30/09)
Dark Reign Young Avengers #5 - 10/28/09 (Old Date 10/7/09)
Dark Reign Zodiac #3 - 10/7/09 (Old Date 9/30/09)
Kick Ass #8 - 10/28/09 (Old Date 9/30/09)
Mephisto Vs. Prem HC - 10/14/09 (Old Date 10/7/09)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Superman Week!!!!

This is a GREAT week for superman fans! So many Superman related titles hit the shelves yesterday! There was Blackest Night – Superman, Superman/Batman, Supergirl, Justice league and two others that I will review here…Superman Secret Origins #1 and Powergirl #5…why those? Simple, I haven’t gotten around to reading the others yet!
Superman Secret Origins #1

I can’t tell you how many times I have read different versions of Superman’s origin. From reprints of Action and Superman #1, to the silver age Superman’s Life Story in Superman #146, to Byrne’s Man of Steel, Superman For All Seasons and many, MANY more! Even for a lifelong Superfan like myself it was getting to be a bit much.

So it was with a sense of resignation that I picked up the first issue of Superman Secret Origin #1 at CBJs last night. I knew that with the team of Geoff Johns and Gary frank that the book would look great and be a slick read. Nothing new or special but a passable page turner….


Geoff and Gary have given us a start to this series that has the potential to overshadow the great Green Lantern Secret Origin reboot! Johns has borrowed from nearly every era of the superman legend to give us a synthesis for the new century. There are elements from the Smallville TV Series, the Byrne reboot, the Chris Reeve Superman films , the Mort Weisenger Silver Age elements and of course there is the core Siegel and Shuster concept as the foundation. In very short order we are introduced to old friends Pete Ross and Lana Lang as well as a fascinating first glimpse at a young Lex Luthor. Unlike a lot of origin mini-series Johns has avoided the needles exposition that is typical of such runs. It is a great read and leaves you wanting to see issue #2 right now!

Frank’s illustrations are fluid and realistic. He gives us glimpses of Annette O’Toole as Lana and Chris Reeve as Clark. The style is completely modern yet it invokes the charming Silver Age look that Curt Swan brought to the book. Between Johns and Frank we are seeing a Superman origin tale that promises to be a joy to read.

I give this book TEN Yellow Suns!

Power Girl #5

I have been touting this book as the sleeper hit of 2009 since Issue #1! Why aren’t you Goldbrickin’ Yahoos rushing out to buy it???!!!
Issue #5 gives us more PeeGee goodness, sprinkling action , humor, wet cats, missing boots, Spice girls from another dimension and a great scene with one of New York’s Bravest. As always Powergirl goes from intensely intimidating superhero person to adorable girl next door. (I have to move into THAT neighborhood!). Amanda Conner draws such charming characters and imbues each with a distinct personality that is reinforced by the stellar writing of Palmiotti and Gray. I especially like the way that they make Powergirl so much more accessible to the ”normal” people that populate her world. She is not aloof and is just as concerned about getting her cat washed, and her company running as she is about beating up the next superbaddie. Of course there are the obligatory jokes about her ample “charms” but even these are quite endearing, celebrating adolescent fantasies rather than looking down at them. Amanda, unlike many other artists, gives us a protagonist who LOOKS comfortable in her own body.
C’mon people! Support this book. I promise it is worth your while!
I give THIS book 10 freshly bathed cats !!!!
Next – What was Marvel’s Civil war really about?

That’s 30!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CBJ Did You Know


Previews and Reviews with Gore Jones

What up World?!

Back for another edition of where I rant and rave about what came out this past week in comics. This week things got a little hectic because Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 came out on Tuesday and pretty much controlled my life til yesterday when I beat it. Now I have to play again as the Pro-Reg side of things. If you liked UA 1 or X-Men Legends, this is your new addiction....

Marvel Zombies Return #3

Last week I spoke about how I felt that the topic of coming to terms with being Zombies and never being able to go back to normal was'nt addressed in the last issue, well I opened my big mouth and got exactly what I wanted this week in issue 3. We find Spider-Man attempting to create a cure for the disease and he needs the help of Kitty Pryde. Zombie Wolverine is running wild eating everything he can and has come to terms with the fact that "he is the best at what he does and what he does is kill." I was really happy with this issue not only because it's a brawl of blood and guts between a living and undead Wolverine but for the fact that it does address how Spider-Man will no matter what try to always be the hero. The conversation he has with Kitty about trying to prevent what happened to his earth is very heartfelt and sad to see that behind the monster still lives a hero.

5 out of 5

Blackest Night #3

This issue was fantastic. We get to see the "Zombie" JLA fight the JLA. We get to see Jason the new Firestorm merge with Zombie Ronnie Raymond Firestorm. We're introduced to the Indigo Lanterns, who shed a lot of light on the whole situation and explain what the hell is going on and how to stop it. We witness the reanimation of all the major villians who died that were in the JLA masoleum. I can't spoil the fun for you, this issue had me oooing and ahhing like a newborn comic nerd. Did anyone else notice the Black Lantern who resembled Black Adam on the screen when Jason was in the JLA Watchtower and come on did anyone notice how "DAWN OF THE DEAD REMAKE" that whole 2 pages seemed...Geoff Johns saluting George Romero anyone???...

5 out of 5

Anti Venom New Ways To Live #1

I'll be honest, I wasn't going to even bother with this book because I thought it was going to be terrible and very gimmick-y toward a character I've always liked; Eddie Brock. Well they shut me up and fast. This issue was AWESOME!! Brock now dubbed Anti-Venom uses a "cured" junkie to help him locate drug dealers and HE KILLS THEM!! Eddie's using his new lease on life to save people but in the process gets caught in the conflict of "How do you really save people?".. His "cured" junkie steals dope from the dealers he killed, so his curing touch does it really purge people of their disease and save them or does it just create a clean slate so that in this case this girl can get F*ed up all over again? During his battle with the dealers he comes across NYC's own vigilante The Punisher and the last page will have you screaming...Go get this book. Paulo Siqueira's artwork is phenominal.

5 out of 5

GhostBusters Displaced Aggression #1

I hate to say it but I really didn't like this book at all. It starts you off in the old west where Peter has been "displaced" to, He's somehow managed to build a photopack and a containment unit and ghostbusts in this little town. He explains how they were fighting Koza 'Rai father of Gozer (you know the bad guy from the first film) and he sent all the Ghostbusters to "The four corners of time because he didn't trust death could keep them from stopping him". Then out of nowhere this girl Rachel who was Egon's prize student during his stint at NYU shows up with Ecto 11, helps him bag some ghosts and then heads out to gather the other "displaced" Ghostbusters. Snore...I hope the next issue is worth it because this was just a snoozefest. I hate reading something and having to force myself through it. So many things that are done that make no sense like since when can a well become a containment unit in the old west..Shit if that was the case they should've done that from the get-go so when Walter Peck (you know from Ghostbusters the movie) shut down the containment unit, it would'nt have been so apocalyptic.

2 out of 5

Ultimate Armor Wars #1

Warren Ellis one of my favorite writers pens this Ultimate universe take on "The Armor Wars". Sadly Mr. Ellis is hit or miss when it comes to him writting other people's characters and thus far I have a feeling this book is going to be a miss. Tony Stark heads into the remains of New York (I'm assuming this is maybe a month after Ultimatum..they don't give a time frame) to recover his "ornament" from a sub level lab he has under Stark Tower. He gets down there and finds Justine Hammer daughter of Justin Hammer just sitting there. They have a conversation and then Tony is alerted to a presence below him where his "ornament" is. He heads down to find someone who resembles Ultimate War Machine but who is referred to as "Ghost" (Marvel 616's Thunderbolt?) They battle and Ghost makes an exit with what Tony came there looking for. He then takes Justine back to Stark Industries to help her because she's dying from a failed nanite process and thats the end of issue one. WHACK! This doesn't have the same feel or texture as the original "Armor Wars" did. I truly hope Mr. Ellis picks things up next issue.

2 out of 5

Now what I'm JONESIN' for this week in comics...


Monday, September 21, 2009

Steve Rogers - Reborn

Captain America – Reborn

Sweeter words were never spoken!

As anyone not living at Ice Station Zebra knows, in the wake of the Marvel Civil War, Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) was assassinated while being lead from a New York courthouse. What made this particular hero “death” so jarring was the fact that Cap was shot. Not blown out of existence by Galactus or life sucked by a Black Lantern. He simply took a sniper’s bullet ( and a “killing shot” from his brainwashed lover Sharon Carter) and that was it. One minute Steve was here and the next he was gone. The scene played out more like something from The Bourne Identity or 24 than from a comic book. It felt all too real.

It was ultimately a very satisfying , if tragic, end to a Superhero Icon.

Over the next two years, under the direction of Ed Brubaker, the Captain America title not only survived, it thrived. Cap’s long lost partner, Bucky Barnes, took up his mantle. Sharon Carter and Sam Wilson were made more three dimensional and hence more believable. The Black Widow finally ceased to be a stereotyped character. The plots were tight and the story telling very well executed. Captain America has played out as the best “secret agent” since Nick fury Agent Of Shield back in the late 60’s.

The book has never looked better.

But if that’s the case. If things are going so well with Captain America, why bring Steve Rogers back at all?

Steve Rogers is very much the center of the Marvel universe. He is the hero that OTHER heroes look up to. This is not because of his enhanced abilities. There are legions of Marvel characters that are more powerful than Cap. Steve Rogers commands respect, is able to lead more powerful heroes because of his deep commitment to the value of freedom all people. Steve never waivers on this. He does not defend any one American government. He defends the American DREAM. It was that commitment that lead him to defy an unjust (certainly unconstitutional) Superhero Registration Act. Steve Rogers, every bit as much as Captain America is a symbol of what a hero should be.

The Marvel universe resonated in the wake of Cap’s death. Rogers was the moral center of the Superhero community.

The Center has not held.

Even the heroes he fought in The Civil War. Tributes poured in. Reed Richards is having a crisis of conscience. Tony Stark still has not recovered. Norman Osborne is the most powerful man in the country. And of course The Red Skull is still out there.

Who do you think MUST be the one to restore the center of the Marvel Universe?
It can only be Captain America and only Steve Rogers can carry that honor…that burden.

James Naslund (The Spirit of ’76) died trying to fill in as Captain America after Steve was lost at the end of WWII.

Steve Rogers II (The Cap of the 50’s) went insane

John Walker (US Agent) was not up to the task morally

Bucky Barnes would be the first to tell you that he is not the man to rally the troops.

It can only be Steve Rogers.

Former 4F Army reject.

The product of the Super Soldier Program. But it was not the formula that made Captain America. It was Steve Rogers who made the formula merely a bullet in the gun. Captain America was a creation of Roger’s heart and commitment to freedom.

Welcome back soldier. Now let’s saddle up and get back in the war!

That’s 30!


Friday, September 18, 2009


Ahoy! A big warm thank you goes out to Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson for coming to our humble little shop and gracing us with their presence for the release of Beasts of Burden #1 doing some fine sketches, signing and hanging out with us for the day. For those who came by, thanks for showing your support! If you missed them you can also catch them over at our friend's comic shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn - Bergen Street Comics. It's a really beautiful shop and they are all awesome and very friendly people so please give them your business if you find yourself in good ol' Brooklyn. They will be signing on Saturday, September 19th from 6PM - 9PM, very cool indeed.

Also, we extend a big apology to everyone for the lateness of our books this week. We know it was a big pain and unfortunately we were absolutely powerless except to yell and scream at one of the most poorly run companies I have ever dealt with. So, once again, thank you so much for your patience and returning to give us your business. It means a great deal to us and we sincerely mean it. Hopefully, something on this scale doesn't happen again.

One more little bit of news. If any of you are into tattoos, are friends Nick Caruso and Mike Bee have opened up a new shop right called Bound For Glory located at 644 Forest Avenue. They're great guys and they do some fantastic work so if that's your thing be sure to check them out.


Yes, it's true! This week's raffle is a good one! We've been raffling off specific items since we started this raffle thing and now we're letting YOU choose what you want. Buy any amount of raffle tickets you want for just $1 a piece and if you win you'll be able to take home any statue you want. Big, small it doesn't matter. It can be the least expensive statue, it can be the most expensive statue we have in stock, it doesn't matter, it's all up to you! Be sure not to miss it, the raffle starts up on Saturday, September 19th and ends on Wednesday, September 30th. As always, one dollar for one ticket!


OK, you're our friend on Facebook. That's all well and good but if you followed us on Twitter you would be privy to all the daily sales we recently started doing. We've done some good ones over the past few days including 25% off all hardcovers, 50% off all manga, and buy one t-shirt get one 1/2 off! So be hip to our tweets and follow ComicBookJones!


E-mail us your full name and birthday and receive a special gift from us when your special day arrives! Send your e-mail to with the subject line "Birthday."


Blackest Night Superman #1 2nd Ptg - 9/23/09
Criminal: Sinners #1 - 9/30/09 (Old Date 9/23/09)
Dark Reign Young Avengers #5 - 10/7/09 (Old Date 9/30/09)
Punisher Annual #1 - 9/30/09 (Old Date 9/23/09)
Scalped #32 - 10/14/09 (Old Date 9/23/09)
Skrull Kill Krew #5 - 10/7/09 (Old Date 9/23/09)
Wolverine Weapon X #6 - 10/28/09 (Old Date 10/7/09)
Wolverine Weapon X #7 - 11/18/09 (Old Date 11/4/09)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who let the dogs out?

Face Front Ya Goldbrickin Yahoos!

(I always wanted to say that but don’t feel bad. I myself am a member of Nick Fury’s goldbrickin yahoo team of many years standing. Dues up to date!)

I had the good fortune to find a new title to read last night on my weekly junket to the hallowed halls of CBJ (I bet you didn’t know your halls were hallowed Socko!). As you know from the CBJ Webpage , creators par excellence , Evan Dorkin (bet you didn’t know you were the French word for excellent did you Evan?) and Jill Thompson were on hand to sign copies of their new Dark Horse book “Beasts of Burden”. This morning I had a chance to sit down with this book and give it a good read over a cup of fresh roasted coffee (bet you didn’t know you made fresh roasted coffee did you Dunkin…ok enough of THAT!). Anyway the short story is this book is GREAT. I loved it and was tempted to genuflect in the general direction of the team of Dorkin and Thompson. (That means put it on my pull list Waffle!)

Now you have to understand that I have been a fan of Evan’s work for more years than I would like to admit because it makes me only slightly younger than The Watcher. There is good reason for that. He never disappoints. And I am now officially a HUGE fan of Ms. Thompson’s artwork. All I can say is WOW about her work. But more on that in a bit.

It should also be noted that these are two exceptionally nice individuals which is the best superpower to have. If only Galactus had niceness he might actually lose a few pounds! (Think about hitting the gym there Gal !!…sheesh he really let himself go since FF #48!)
Now to the book. You all know that old chestnut about the dogs (plus cat) who are paranormal investigators…fight a colony being comprised of frogs that eat …well everything…defeat said Frog thingy and join the larger organization dedicated to fighting evil stuff of the weird variety?...yeah , I know, but these guys do it RIGHT! Just kidding…not about doing it right…but the old chestnut part. That is what pulled me in. the whole concept is just so fresh! This is a first issue so you get intros to the main characters, who all have distinct and delightful personalities and ways of speaking. The story is tight and self contained for a single issue. You come away feeling comfortable in this world. Sprinkle in a small nod to X-Files and another to Buffy in this very original world, add a dash of that tight Dorkin dialogue and you have a great read.

I don’t want to spoil it for you by giving away too many details but TRUST me, you are going to love it!

As to the renderings, by Ms. Thompson , just beautiful. Each panel looks as if it has been painted and the animals are not anthropomorphized in the Disney fashion. They look and move like real dogs and cats. They show facial emotions like real dogs and cats which takes enormous subtlety to render. Being a dog owner and lover I can tell you that dogs have very expressive faces. Just not human faces. Jill captures that flawlessly. You can see that Jill is a lover of animals as well as a wonderful illustrator. She treats them with great dignity, humor and genuine affection.

I know that Beasts of Burden will be on my must read list. But don’t just take my word for it. My dog Scully the Chocolate Lab and connoisseur of great literature gave this book four paws WAY up!

So whattaya waitin for ya goldbrickin yahoos?

Get to CBJ and buy it!!! (there will be a quiz down the road!)

Next – Why bringing back Steve Rogers is a GOOD thing!

That’s 30!


Monday, September 14, 2009

The Night Gwen Stacy Died

In every one’s life there are certain events that you never forget. If you were alive and old enough to understand even a little, certain moments are indelible in your memory.

Pearl Harbor, The JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations, the first moon landing and of course 9/11 all qualify.

In brighter areas who can forget the ’69 Mets, The Jets Superbowl victory, The rangers Stanley Cup or Ali defeating Big George Foreman in The Rumble In the Jungle!

If you are a comic fan, and you were around in 1973 then you can never forget:

The Night Gwen Stacy Died.

The death of Gwen Stacy was a watershed event in comics. Even fans who never read those issues, or are not even regular Spiderman readers know that the passing of Peter’s first, and possibly truest, love forever changed the wall crawler’s life. Many feel, myself included, that issues #121 and #122 of The Amazing Spiderman signaled the end of the Silver Age of Comics.
For those of you who have not read those issues or the reprints the plot goes like this:

Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, suffered from amnesia, suspending his identity as the supervillain and that Spider-Man and Peter Parker are the same person.

Harry Osborn, Peter's best friend and Norman's son, became addicted to drugs and was sequestered in the Osborn home for detoxification in order to keep a potentially embarrassing issue from becoming public and hurting Norman Osborn's business.

Peter, Gwen, and friend Mary Jane Watson visit Harry, who is going through withdrawal . His father Norman is furious about Harry's condition, blames Peter, Gwen, and Mary Jane for Harry's drug abuse, and throws them out. To add to his already stressed psyche Norman hears that he is facing financial ruin, he suffers a breakdown, and suddenly remembers everything. He again becomes the Green Goblin and makes it his goal to kill Peter/Spider-Man for all the misery he imagines Spider-Man has caused him and his family.

The Green Goblin abducts Gwen and lures Spider-Man to the George Washington Bridge (which in the story is clearly illustrated as the Brooklyn Bridge). Holding an unconscious Gwen, he gloats at Peter. The two fight, and just when Spider-Man seems to get hold of Gwen, Norman hurls her off the bridge. Spider-Man shoots a web strand at her legs, and catches her. As he pulls her up, he thinks he has saved her. However, he soon realizes she is already dead. Peter is unsure whether the snap from her sudden stop broke her neck or if Osborn had broken it previously, but he blames himself for her death regardless. The Green Goblin escapes, and Peter cries over Gwen's corpse and swears he will kill the Goblin.

Spider-Man tracks Green Goblin down to a warehouse where Peter beats Norman to a pulp. But he cannot bring himself to kill him and freezes. Norman uses the opportunity to send his glider to impale Spider-Man from behind. Warned by his spider-sense, Peter jumps away just in time, and the glider instead impales the Green Goblin and seemingly kills him.

Peter goes home, feeling washed-out, hurt, and deeply empty. When he meets Mary Jane, her sympathy is lost on him. He berates MJ as a shallow party girl who cannot understand what “normals” like he and Gwen feel. But then, Mary Jane also cries, and for the first time, Peter begins to see her as more than just the facade she puts forth. The last shot in the story is of Mary Jane closing the door to Peter’s apartment as she goes in to comfort him.

Comic readers today might wonder what all the fuss was about. Modern comics can certainly be much darker than these issues. The death of a continuing character, the hero’s girlfriend, might be sad but it is hardly earth shaking. But at the time this sort of thing never happened. Lois Lane might fall from buildings at an annoyingly regular rate, but Superman was always there to catch her. Robin may have been “the Boy Hostage” but Batman never failed him. (This was well before the death of Tim Drake). In short, those closest to the hero, origin stories notwithstanding, were immune.
Both Marvel and DC were moving towards more adult stories that had long lasting impact both on the characters and upon the industry itself. The Spiderman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow drug issues (Amazing Spiderman #96-98 and Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85-86) both in 1971 and the death of Gwen’s father Captain Stacy in AMS #90 the year before. These events effectively destroyed the power of The Comics Code Authority and paved the way for Gwen’s death in 1973.

So why Gwen? It was an editorial decision as much as a creative one. , it was a decision made jointly by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr. and Roy Thomas. According to an article in Comics Buyers Guide, they killed Gwen because they did not know what to do with her anymore. Gwen and Peter had gotten to the point in their relationship where marriage was inevitable, but nobody at Marvel wanted a married Spider-Man: it would have drastically aged him and would have made plotting difficult. At the time, he was still a college student in his late teens. Furthermore, a breakup would have appeared unrealistic.

That seems a little thin to me. I think it was simply that they liked Mary Jane better and wanted her to be the main female in peter’s life. She has been portrayed as more outgoing, saucier and frankly sexier than the “girl next door” Gwen. In any event the decision was made and comics changed forever.

The impact of Gwen’s death left creators and fans looking for some sense of closure. Spidey was a wreck for several years in the comics. Neither really wanted to let her go. There was the clone saga in which a love struck Professor Warren cloned Gwen. There were revelations about Gwen giving birth to children fathered by Norman Osborn before her death. Gwen is a continuing character in The Ultimate Spiderman where she “died” but came back. Alex Ross made her the pivotal character in the Marvel’s Mini Series taking the position that her death illustrated that our heroes were fallible and capable of failure.

I think that we all just loved Gwen too much to let her go. I can tell you as someone who was in high school when those issues hit the stands that fans were furious over the decision to kill Gwen. I don’t believe that the creators at Marvel realized how much her character resonated with the readers. Maybe it was because this stunningly beautiful girl chose “Puny Parker” from all of the big men on campus which made the vast number of adolescent boys who read Spiderman hopeful that maybe they would win “their” Gwen someday. Maybe it was her innate sweetness, or sympathy for the loss of her father. Somehow, Gwen was just more real than your average hero squeeze.

Whatever the reason, Gwen Stacy who died 26 years ago remains a very real presence in the Marvel Universe. He helped to change comics as an art form forever. Her death ushered out the simpler days, and writing, of the Silver Age and ushered in the more realistic Bronze Age. Her death was not in vain.

Next a retro review.

About what?

I dunno!

Be there!

That’s 30!


Previews and Reviews with Gore Jones

What's up world! Another exciting week in comics has come and gone and here I am back again to chime in with my two cents. Let's get right into it.


As some of you may or may not know DC has a little ongoing book called R.E.B.E.L.S. It's a relaunched title left over from the 90's. This book has been catching my eye for a while now but I've never gotten the chance to just sit down and read up on it. This past Wednesday I sat down and read issues 1-6 and I must say I really enjoyed the book and found myself hungry for the next issue. The basic premise of the title is Vril Dox aka Brainiac 2, leader of L.E.G.I.O.N (Licensed Extra-Governmental Interstellar Operatives Network.) gets overthrown and becomes hunted by his own "forces" and must figure out what happened and how can he fix the situation. Without giving the whole story away, We get to see more on Supergirl's trip into the 31st century and we're finally introduced to the brains behind Starro, who in fact is named Starro and controls all those little starfish sobs and is running the show right now. The story is fairly quick paced and the artwork is really good and reguardless if you know anything about the characters previously, they have these little "Encyclopedia Galatica" info boxes that give you some background on what planet they're on, who's who and what's what. I think everyone should give this book a shot and see if I wrong but I think it rocks and I can't wait to see what happens next. For fans of The Legion of Super Heroes this is your new favorite book!

5 out of 5

Marvel Zombies: The Return #2

What should I say about this book?...Did I like it, did I hate it, was it worth $3.99???I found myself indifferent about this issue. I dig the concept of where the story is heading but at the same time I feel like somethings missing. In the end of issue one, we see Zombie Ant-Man feasting on The Watcher of whatever parallel earth he lands on and realizing the potential of the multiverse becoming an all HE can eat buffet. In this issue we're brought to an Earth where Tony Stark is an alcoholic BIG TIME and doesn't even care to remember to charge the Iron Man armor. Rhodey comes to save the day as Tony and everyone else at Stark Industries is eaten alive by the newly infected thanks to Zombie Ant-Man. Ant-Man shows up because he's missing a piece he needs to jump from Earth to Earth and Tony has it and doesn't even know what it is. This issue wasn't exactly what I thought was going to happen considering the subplot of last issue with Spider-Man and how he comes to terms with the fact that no matter what he'll be a flesh eating Zombie and reguardless of who he was, nothing will ever change. I'm curious as to how this will be addressed in the rest of the miniseries.

2 out of 5

Green Lantern Corps #40

Blackest Night: Batman #2

This week we get two books dealing with the ever growing "Blackest Night" story arc that will soon sweep across all the DC titles in the coming weeks. First up, Green Lantern Corps. This issue is pretty much in the thick of things happening on Oa. Arisia comes back from Daxam after helping Sodom free the Daxamites from Mongul's yellow Lanterns and is welcomed by her dead family. Kyle is taken away from the battle by Black Lantern Jade, who tries to trick him into letting her change him so that they can be together. Salaak, Isamot and Vath head down in the planetary citadel of the Guardians to find that there are 8 splotches of goop which quite possibly are the remains of the Guardians but where is the 9th Guardian?? Salaak is interupted by the arrival of The Alpha Lanterns and Finally puts these Robocops in their place stating that since the Guardians are no longer running Oa, that He, Guy and Kyle are not the top dogs in charge. The best is the end where all those Lanterns were executed come back and make things even worse. This was a damn good issue.
Over in BN: Batman, Jim and Barbara Gordon do their best along with the GCPD to stop the newly resurrected villans from killing all of Gotham but fail miserably, Deadman jumps into Barbara and saves her fathers ass, Red Robin shows up just in time to save Dick and Damian from becoming the next meal on the Black Lantern's ever growing platter and we're shocked by The Graysons and The Drakes looking to turn their children into breakfast. Pretty frakkin sweet

5 out of 5

War Of Kings Who Will Rule One Shot.

I really annoyed and pissed off that they still didn't explain if Black Bolt or Vulcan survived. I'm really mad that they're setting up yet another Galactic crossover event that's being called "The Realm of Kings". I think it's unfair that people are almost forced to buy another mini-series or series of one shots to have to continue reading titles like Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. I feel at this point that Marvel should just make an ongoing book dealing with The Inhumans / Kree and the Shi'ar. I feel that would be the best bet of continuing readership on such universe expanding stories and it would save people money in the end instead of having to spend more money on a limited series. Good story, Good set ups but people's pockets are hurting.

1 out of 5

The Spectacular Spider-Man The Complete First Season

I got my hands on this DVD the other day and I spent most of today watching it. This show is awesome! If you're a Spider-Man fan this dvd is a must for your collection. Get to the store and have them order it for you. It's soo good I can't even explain how awesome it is. It's got new origins for pretty much the entire cast of villans, It's a modern take on Stan Lee & Steve Ditko's run on Spider-Man and best of all it's filled with action. Not like two seconds of fighting but a major portion of the show is Spider-Man kicking ass or having his ass kicked. I was skeptical at first because of the animation but within minutes of watching the first episode I shut my mouth and enjoyed the show. You will not be disappointed, GO GET IT NOW!

5 out of freakin 5

Now what I'm Jonesin' for this week!

BEASTS OF BURDEN #1 (Be at the store for the SIGNING!!! 6-9 on Wednesday!)

Somebody pinch me please!

Let's face it... I'm a teeny tiny fish in the big Comics pond. And I'm cool with that. Maybe one day I'll hit the "big time", as you kids say. Or maybe I won't. Doesn't matter. I've got books that are being distributed, webcomics that are doing fairly decent, and most importantly people who actually dig the crazy shit I put out there! (which still blows my mind...)

But in all honesty Marvel, DC, IDW, etc. aren't exactly breaking down my door trying to get me to write for them. Hence, I'm a teeny tiny fish.

However, sometimes even the teeny tiny fish gets to swims in the most amazing of currents. And that's where I find myself this morning. Let me explain-- we all know I'm an internet whore of the tallest order. I'm shameless in my self-promotion (as all indies should be) and I'm tireless in my virtual networking. And that networking led me to a point where I have an email correspondence relationship with Ben Templesmith. Yes, the very same Ben Templesmith who made 30 Days of Night a geek household name. The same Ben Templesmith who made werewolves cool again with Welcome to Hoxsford. And the same Ben Templesmith who took a corpse and made him into a gentleman. Clearly, this man is one of my heroes in the comics business.

So you'll imagine my delight when I opened my email this morning to find the following artwork waiting for me. This, ladies and germs, is the artwork to the cover of The Complete Jesus Hates Zombies Experience, which is what I'm calling the full collected works once vol. 4 is finished and out. I mean, how did a teeny tiny fish like me get lucky enough to swim alongside Ben Templesmith? I don't know...

All I know is, somebody better pinch me, quick.

~ Stephen

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Batman…who he is and WHY he is

The Batman…who he is and how he came to be

What comic fan does not know the origin of Batman? Young Bruce Wayne witnesses the cold blooded murder of his parent s in the commission of a robbery and dedicates his life to fighting all criminals and their villainous ilk. This was the stuff of the 1930’s film noir pulp hero. With elements of Zorro, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Sam Spade, Bob Kane gave DC comics a perfect compliment to the wildly successful Superman who had burst on to the scene a year earlier.

This was in May of 1939.

Batman is 70 years old now.

The old codger is pretty spry!

What is it about The Caped Crusader that compels readers seven decades later? Why has Batman endured and grown in popularity when so many other superheroes have fallen to the one enemy they cannot defeat, declining sales?

Simple. The Batman is unique. Even though there are many direct antecedent s to the Dark Knight, Kane was able to mix those elements into an original cocktail of tragedy and heroism, intellect and physical power, logic and obsession, dark, and yes even light. Bats is truly one of a kind.

At his core Bruce Wayne may be the most purely heroic character in all of comics.
Consider that this is an individual who at the age of eight stood within ten feet of his parents while Joe Chill shot them both to death with, what is most often depicted as, a 9mm automatic hand gun. The Comics Code not withstanding, it was not a pretty sight. His parents were alive and loving and holding his hands one moment and bloody mess the next. Bruce would undoubtedly have been splattered with blood and the flesh of his parents in that moment.

Imagine the trauma.

Now imagine that it had happened to you.

Could you even be functional with a trauma of that nature in your head every day?
When an adult Frank Castle went through a similar experience he became a serial killer. The Punisher did not set out to fight crime, defend the helpless, or spread justice. He set out for revenge and has cut a bloody swath through the Marvel universe ever since. This was a man who was fully formed, special services trained and yet this trauma effectively drove him insane. Ultimately The Punisher is weak.

Batman is strong.

Bruce Wayne, while certainly scarred, was able to channel that rage and hatred into a decision to protect other people. This is the raison d’être of the Batman. That it will never happen to anyone again on his watch. Batman is ultimately about life, not death. He is about justice, not revenge, or even necessarily the law. Batman saves people. Batman is a hero.

If revenge was the only thing that motivated Batman, he would long ago have retired or been (permanently) killed. Any retribution for the death of his parents has been won many times over. For Bruce Wayne it is not revenge in the classic sense of one person exacting payment from another who has wronged him. It is a reckoning.

A reckoning with a city.

The tragedy of his parents death was the crucible upon which was formed a man who would bend the will of a city to his own. It is not, and never was, Joe Chill that Bruce saw as the villain. It was Gotham herself. A city so filled with crime and corruption that the killing of two young parents in front of an eight year old boy was not at all an unusual happening. It is Gotham that Batman determines to bring to heel through the force of his will. It is Gotham that he alternatively hates and loves.

One wonders though, why dress up in a cape and mask and bounce around like a flea fighting nut cases? With the resources at his command, Bruce could surely do even MORE to change the face of Gotham in his civilian identity than as the Caped Crusader. Why not just do that?
Because Bruce is a control freak. He is obsessed with managing every situation. It is why, even his fellow heroes are just a bit intimidated by him. Batman must put his hands around a problem in a personal and immediate way. He can never derive the same sense of accomplishment by proxy as he can by punching the Joker in the mouth.

He knows he is waging a battle that he can’t ever truly win. He knows that one day it will be him lying dead in an alley. But that does not matter to him. What matters to Bruce is the battle. What matters to him is that he put fear into the hearts of those who would hurt or steal or kill. Batman won’t win the war, but neither will they. And they will never forget that he was there.
So what we have here is a deeply traumatized child who as a man cannot function in the real world. His very dysfunction, however has gifted him with the singleness of mind necessary to function as a symbol of justice and intellect, of passion and power. The Dark Knight….the Batman.

Tha's 30!


Friday, September 11, 2009


Shipping schedule returns to normal this week and we've got a hell of a delivery! Be sure to come in on Wednesday especially between the hours of 6PM-9PM for our Beasts of Burden signing (book to be released that day) featuring Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. More news on the event below, make sure you come down!


In celebration of their new book, Beasts of Burden, Evan Dorkin (writer) and Jill Thompson (artist) will be appearing at Comic Book Jones for a signing on Wednesday, September 16th from 6PM - 9PM! This also happens to be the day that Beasts of Burden #1 is released so you can pick up your copy and get it signed! We will also have plenty of copies of their other works including Milk & Cheese, Sandman, Magic Trixie, etc. Here's a look into what they've worked on over the

Evan Dorkin
-Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
-Bizzaro World
-Dork Comics
-Milk & Cheese
-Occasionally writes and does animation for the hit TV show Yo Gabba Gabba!
(Super Martian Robot Girl) on Nickelodeon.

Jill Thompson
-Dark Horse Book of Hauntings, Witchcraft, Dead, Monsters
-Fables 1001 Nights of Snowfall
-Magic Trixie


A new week, a new raffle. An item many of you have asked about still does not have a home. This item, if you haven't read the heading for some reason, is the Carnage statue we proudly have displayed. This is a beautiful statue limited to 1200 pieces worldwide and has a retail price of $189.99. It can all be yours with some luck and at least one $1 raffle ticket! Feel free to buy as many as you like to increase your chances of winning! Carnage statues don't come around all that often so make sure you pick up some tickets. This raffle will begin on Saturday, September 5th and end on Wednesday, September 16th. Good luck!


OK, you're our friend on Facebook. That's all well and good but if you followed us on Twitter you would be privy to all the daily sales we recently started doing. We've done some good ones over the past few days including 25% off all hardcovers, 50% off all manga, and buy one t-shirt get one 1/2 off! So be hip to our tweets and follow ComicBookJones!


E-mail us your full name and birthday and receive a special gift from us when your special day arrives! Send your e-mail to with the subject line "Birthday."


Dark Reign Zodiac #3 - 9/30/09 (Old Date 9/16/09)
Marvel Divas #3 - 9/23/09 (Old Date 9/16/09)
Spider-Man HC Newspaper Strips - 10/28/09 (Old Date 10/7/09)
Wolverine HC Old Man Logan - 10/28/09 (Old Date 10/14/09)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The First Fan

Fellow fans I would like to introduce you to an old friend of yours...even if you didn't know he was your friend.

Lend an ear whilst (who even says "shilst" anymore?) I speak in hushed and awe struck tones of...

The Ackermonster!

If you were a kid growing up in the 1960’s, especially of the comic reading variety, chances are you read, collected and devoured the wonderful magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland (or FM to those of us in the know). When you opened this glossy covered magazine with newsprint pages, you were immediately immersed in the world of Karloff and Lugosi, of price and Lorre, and most of all the GREAT (in caps!) Lon Chaney Sr. In an era before instant access to, well everything, FM was a fan’s only regular helping of Horror and Sci-fi content that you could get on a regular basis. FM featured articles about all the great old films and stars from the Silent Era right up through the Hammer Horror films. In the magazine’s “filmbooks” the reader got to see rare, even unique photos. The writing was aimed and accessible to a younger audience. Famous Monsters never looked down at it’s audience. The magazine was great fun and a fond memory of early summer days that I spent reading on the “stoop” outside my house in Brooklyn.

The greatest treasure to be found within the pages of Famous Monsters was the presence on every page of one Forrest J Ackerman. Known to one and all as Forry or Uncle Forry, the reader immediately felt as though Ackerman was not only your guide through genre film history but also your personal friend. I have never come across a writer/editor who could welcome a reader in quite the way that Forry did.

But Forry was much more than just a magazine editor. He was the wellspring from which each and every one of us who ever read a comic, marveled at a sci-fi or horror film/TV show , and dressed up in costume at a convention sprang. Forrest J Ackerman was the world’s first fan.
For all of his success and fame, the first fan is what Forry. It was his profession and his passion. All you had to do to know that was to show up at his 18 room home on Glendower Road in L.A. (known to all and sundry as The AckerMansion), and this great bear of a man would personally give you a tour of his personal collection of Sci-Fi and Horror memorabilia in the appropriately named AckerMuseum. He never strayed far from his roots as a fan, and Forry’s greatest pleasure was the endless conversation he had with other fans for over seven decades. He was the chief barker for the new form of literature called “scientifiction” that was created by Hugo Gernsback in the pulp Amazing Stories. Forry was friend, contributor and confidant of such notables as Bradbury, Siegel and Shuster, Robert Heinlein and Frederick brown among others. Ackerman (also known to his legion of friends as the Ackermonster) through his work inspired generations of creators including Stephen king and Steve Spielberg.

Ackerman saw his first genre film in 1922 (One Glorious Day), purchased his first copy of Amazing Stories, in 1926, created The Boys' Scientifiction Club in 1930 ("girl-fans were as rare as unicorn's horns in those days"). He contributed to the Science Fiction Magazine Fanzine, published and edited by Siegel and Shuster , in 1932, and by 1933 had 127 correspondents around the world. He was one of the early members of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, and remained active in it for many decades.

He attended the first World Science fiction Convention in 1939, where he wore the first "futuristicostume" a direct descendent of fan costuming, and Cosplay.
Forry was the first of us and he was the best of us because he was always accessible to anyone who wanted to share time with him. It did not matter if you were a famous creator like Bradbury or a completely unknown 10 year old kid. Forry treated the entire world as if they were his house guests.

Forrest J Ackerman passed away at 94 years young in November of 2008. He left behind a gift that all of us here take great joy from...fandom.

That’s 30!


Feel Sorry For Me...

Hello my delightfully delicious CBJ sinners!! It's your Creepy Uncle Stephen again... Don't worry, all inappropriate touching will be on hold for a while due to injury. Yes, pity me.

On Monday I made the mistake of playing outside with my children. Why is that a mistake you ask? Well, for several reasons.
  1. I don't want anyone getting the impression that I'm a good Dad. Dear LORD--the damage that would have on my carefully groomed rep.
  2. I don't generally enjoy being outside or partaking in outdoor activities. That out there is the real world... I like it here in the interwebs where I'm safe and sound, snuggled into my Geekiverse.
  3. I'm not exactly the physical specimen I was in my youth. Back then, I was a nationally ranked athlete. Now I'm a shapeless geek with carpel tunnel.
So here's the thing... I fell down. Hard. On my driveway. Trying to kick a stupid soccer ball back to my kids. I know, it's ridiculous. My legs went out from under me, I hovered in the air for a second or 2 --just long enough to put my arm back in a hair-brained attempt to break my fall-- and then down I went. (insert comic sound effect here)

I thought I broke my elbow. My doctor thought I broke my elbow. Luckily the x-rays say otherwise. No breaks. No dislocations. Just a shitload of swelling and pain. Oh yeah, and the bruised pride that goes along with looking like a total pussy in front of your kids.

Here I am in the little waiting room, waiting for them to process my x-rays.

My multiple doctor visits over the past 2 day depleted my funds so much that I had to bail on appearing at the Pittsburgh Comic Con this weekend because I simply can't afford it now.

Sucks, right? Yeah, it totally does.

But there are a few lights at the end of the tunnel. For starters, I will be at the Baltimore Con next month!! I think many of you CBJers should road-trip down to it and come see me! I would really love the attention... ;)

Also, a NEW PAGE of Saints & Warlords was posted today for your viewing pleasure!! ( What, you thought I was going to go an entire blog post without shamelessly plugging my shit? Why, that's just madness!!

Also, as Socko posted earlier, I'll be appearing on the radio show "Where Monsters Dwell" tonight sometime between 9-10. You can listen online right here:

Finally, on Sunday night starting at 8pm, I'll be the guest on the podcast The Zonecast. I'll be babbling for about an hour... and the cool thing is, you can listen live and also interact. You can check that one out here:

Ok, time to go wallow in self-pity before my Orthopedic appointment today. I love all of you in a highly inappropriate manner. Always remember that.

~ Creepy Uncle Stephen

Jesus Hates Zombies News!

News flash JHZ fans Writer Stephen Lindsay LIVE on Where Monsters Dwell - Listen at around 9-10 tonight! Tune in and give our boy some love.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Speculating is highly...speculative!

Face front troops! I hope you all had a great Labor Day. Now back to school and onward towards Christmas!

From time to time I am going to write something that I aim towards newer collectors. These pieces will concern things that the seasoned collector probably already knows, but for you veterans I hope you find something here of value as well.

Today I want to talk about the dangers of speculating on the value of comics and the danger of third party grading companies such as CGC.

Comic Book collecting as an organized activity, with specialty shops, preservation supplies, third party grading and independent price guides is actually not all that old. It was not until the late 1960’s that the first Comic Specialty shops appeared and it was not until the Marvel’s “Dazzler” sold 400,000 copies as a direct to specialty store title that the hobby began to take on the form we are familiar with today. Before the comic specialty shop you had to go to the local news stand to get your comic’s fix. Deliveries to the news stands were erratic and it was easy to miss issues or never even see certain titles.

Of course the advent of the comic shop did not come without some pain. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, because of the early success of the direct market shops, publishers began to flood stores with huge amounts of product that was solely produced to entice collectors to speculate.
Foil Covers, Photo Covers, Die Cut Covers, Double Covers, Comics with NO Covers (ok I made that last one up) all created a glut of product that would initially go up in value and then just as fast drop to almost no value. This occasionally still happens today. The recent Batman And Robin #10 that had obscenities not properly blacked out climbed to over $100 and has dropped to less than $10 in very short order. Imagine that happening in the comics hobby with several books each and every week and you get an idea about how things were during the speculator’s boom.

It very nearly killed the golden goose.

Happily the speculators dropped out and the true comic book lovers stayed with the hobby and we are back in a robust direct comics market once again. Is there still speculating? You bet. However it is now more of a fringe thing than the REASON people are in the hobby.

People who have been collectors for a long time already know this, but to newer collectors I will caution you against speculating in comic book collecting for profit. For one thing, newer comics are available in abundance, collectors preserve their copies and the price point of new books severely limits most collectors from investing in back issues. If you feel the pull to invest in comic books for profit, I would not touch anything after the Bronze Age and would in fact would focus on Silver and Golden Age books. The reason for that is comics from those earlier periods are actually tougher to come by in anything near a decent grade and THAT is what makes them collectible. The scarcity outstrips the demand and drives up the price. You just don’t have that, long term, with newer books. They may spike short term, but they almost always come back down to earth. In general, I would advise to collect for pleasure and not profit.

In the last several years there has been a new wrinkle in the valuation of comic books. That is the advent of the third party grading company (CGC being the biggest by far). This practice of “slabbing” has been both impactful and highly controversial.

First the collector submits his book to the company for grading. One or more graders at the company decide on a numeric grade for the comic and then pass it along for the preservation process. The comics are placed in an inner well - a sealed sleeve of Barex, a highly gas-impermeable plastic polymer. Then, the comics are sonically sealed in a hard plastic, tamper-evident holder. This process is often referred in slang as "slabbing". A label is affixed at the top indicating the title, date, grade, page quality, and any notes, such as notable creators. Books which would be damaged by encapsulation are returned without this process. Examples of this include books with cover overhang (i.e., the cover protrudes beyond the interior book), some European variants, and Museum Editions of modern comics.

After the grading and slabbing process CGC affixes a label that denotes certain characteristics about the book :

Universal (blue) a standard comic book

Restored (purple) a book that has evidence of restoration, either amateur (A) or professional (P), combined with the descriptors slight (S), moderate (M), or extensive (E)

Qualified (green) a book with a significant defect that needs specific description or one with an unauthenticated signature

For example, an otherwise "near mint" condition book with a 4-inch back cover tear would be given a Qualified grade of "9.0, back cover 4-inch tear."

Signature Series (yellow) an unrestored book signed by one of its creators, as witnessed by an employee of CGC

Signature Series Restored (yellow/purple) an authenticated signed book showing evidence of restoration

Modern (red) No longer in use, originally used to distinguish Modern Comics

All of this is all well and good as a preservation practice. However, comics that have been processed by third party grading services have driven prices up many times over similar quality books that have not been slabbed. In other words I can have two copies Fantastic Four #1 in near mint condition, one has been processed into a slab and graded, the other is in a mylar sleeve with a backing board. The one that has not been processed may fetch $5,000 while the VERY SAME BOOK IN THE VERY SAME CONDITION WILL GET OVER $20,000 simply because it has been processed through a third party grading service.

I have several problems with this.

First – Third Party Grading Services do not share their grading criteria. Unlike the Overstreet guide, we do not know how they come to their numeric grade. Thus their work cannot be verified. There are many instances of books getting a low grade and upon resubmission getting a much higher grade. There is a simple reason for this (perk up your ears for this newbies). Grading is ALWAYS subjective. I often look at some of my own older books that I have graded and wonder how I ever gave it that grade. It is not a science. That is why Overstreet puts forth a criteria that allows for interpretation, especially for grades ranging from Good to Fine/Very Fine. (The criteria tightens up at the VF level as it should.)

Second – Once the book has been slabbed there is no way, short of cracking the slab, to examine the book to even know if it is the same book that is described on the label. While I assume that all third party grading companies act in good faith, there is no way for the person who submitted the book or the person who later purchased it to ever really KNOW what they are getting. All you can actually see are the front and back covers.

Third – If we assume that the FF in the slab and the one outside the slab are the same grade, how could they have such a wide variance in value? If we were talking a 10% premium for the preservation techniques I would be ready to accept the difference but 200%,300% and even 500% differences just look like a sucker bet to me.

Fourth – This is just my personal feeling but once you slab a book, you can’t READ it anymore. You lose the simple pleasure of leafing through your beloved collectible. And that is my main reason for collecting.

Fifth – While the preservation of older comics that are truly rare and in danger of being lost makes perfect sense to me, the idea of slabbing a brand new and plentiful book for resale at a premium price smacks of price gauging. Take a look on Ebay and you will see slabbed copies of new books at anything lower than 9.8 very often sell for less than it cost to slab them in the first place. AND I defy anyone to show me the difference between even a 9.2 and a 9.8 comic. There comes a point where the differences are so slight as to be of no difference at all.

Sixth – If you really want to preserve your books in this manner, you can purchase your own slabs and do it yourself far more cheaply.

I am not denouncing third party grading services by any means. For older books it is an invaluable way to preserve items that might otherwise be lost. However for newer books that value is dubious at best. And until someone can come up with a truly unbiased method of grading I, for one would be much more comfortable being able to inspect a book and decide for MYSELF what I am willing to pay for it.

Which leads me to the point of this piece. Ultimately a comic book, or any other collectible is really only worth what YOU are willing to pay for it. Keep that in mind when you hit those comic shows. The BUYER (you dear reader) is in the driver’s seat.

How about it troops? I want to hear from you on this.

Comic book speculating good? bad? silly?

CGC - Does it serve a purpose? Is to a good thing or just another stunt to part you from your bucks?

Next – Back to stuff actually IN comics!

That’s 30!