What? All the other kids are doing it. I am caving to peer pressure.
…okay, really what it is, is that we have had a rough couple of weeks here– holiday blues, family drama, other stuff– and I need something fluffy and dumb to cheer me up. And I had this silly idea that everybody does these lists of fifteen and I would see if I could find fifteen things that were worth smiling about. I daresay you might find a holiday gift suggestion here or there as well. These are not in any order, except the order I thought of them in the first place; I did not arrange them by merit or anything like that.
So, randomly counting down…
15. Jungle Queens, part 1: Sheena, Queen of the Jungle is a character that has always struck me as being basically the Baywatch of all the different jungle comics stories out there. Good Girl Art, sure, but not much more to it than that.
Except… the time an actual Baywatch babe got involved with it, it turned out pretty well.
Sheena with Gena Lee Nolin was one of those late 1990s-early 2000s first-run syndication efforts like Queen of Swords and Jack of All Trades and Andromeda that was a staple of Saturday afternoon TV, although unlike those others, it wasn’t a Fireworks production. But it was operating on about that level… not Great Art, but certainly great fun, and interestingly, the cheesecake was at a minimum.
The cast was good too, particularly John Allen Nelson as the roguish Matt Cutter and Margo Moorer as Kali, the tribal priestess.
The weak link, predictably, was Ms. Nolin herself, but she certainly is trying hard, and the writing was witty without descending into smarm. My favorite example of this would be the second-season episode “The Feral King,” featuring the story of Sheena trying to find a lost British heir whose plane crashed in the jungle when he was a child and who has grown to manhood as a feral jungle animal (!!) before the evil estate executor can find him and kill him. Yes, it’s Sheena meets Tarzan. But the best part? They got Ron Ely to play the evil estate guy.
I looked for season sets of this show on DVD for years but it was WAY too expensive. (It was a fun show but not THAT fun.) However, there is a new set of both seasons bundled with the Tanya Roberts movie (which is frankly awful) and a few episodes of the fifties show with Irish McCalla (interesting curiosity, but a little goes a long way.) The important part is that it’s the complete Gena Lee Nolin series… for under ten bucks.
14. Jungle Queens part 2: Wallowing in the cheesy goodness of the Gena Lee Nolin show got me wondering about the original comics. Turns out there is a really nice hardcover collection out there.
Don’t pay full price– I got mine for about eight dollars — but the collection’s worth having if you are interested in Golden Age comics and cultural influences. Sheena was a pretty good-looking book, back in the day, and not particularly in the Baywatch sense, either.
And of course there is an interesting historical foreword from Mr. Thomas, as well. If you see one discounted somewhere, it’s definitely worth a look.
13. DC Archive Editions… affordable at last. Speaking of discounts, hardcovers, and the Golden Age, I am delighted to discover that a great many of the DC Archive Editions are now available at huge discounts. Many under $20 and a number are under $10. The Silver Age stuff I already have here in other editions, but the Golden Age books are damnably hard to get hold of, and being a child of the 1970s, I got a taste for the stuff in DC’s reprint books of the time, especially the Famous First Editions and the 100-page Super-Spectaculars. (Even back issues of those reprint books are out of our price range, most of the time.) Seeing the Archive Edition hardcovers that were priced way out of my range was beyond frustrating, but now they are becoming available used for pennies on the dollar. I picked up Superman volumes one and two, ae well as Shazam Family volume one, Starman volume one, and Sandman volume one, for less than forty dollars total. All in great shape.
Now, the used-book market for these is volatile, and you probably won’t be able to get the SAME books I did for those low prices. But you will be able to get some comparable Golden Age DC books for that kind of deep discount. It literally changes from day to day. The way to do it is to search on Amazon for “DC Archive Hardcover,” and arrange it “Price Low To High.” Julie scolds me for giving away the trick online like this, but people should be able to read these stories without having to drop 75 to a hundred bucks on a book. I don’t mind sharing.
12. The Dark Tower is out on home video and it’s pretty good. It’s not the books but we enjoyed it. Pity it tanked– for no good reason, as far as I can tell. File this one under the same inexplicable audience discontent that got John Carter and The Rocketeer.
11. I have awesome friends. Look at what Chris Kohler sent me for my birthday.
A Dell collector magazine clearly somehow designed and edited by my nine-year-old brain… and this staggeringly gorgeous, hand-drawn, meticulous re-creation of the cover to possibly my favorite Batman comic ever, O’Neil and Adams’ re-introduction of Two-Face to the Rogues Gallery. In addition to the wonderful “Half an Evil,” though, it was also my introduction to groovy seventies collegiate solo Robin in Mike Friedrich’s “Vengeance for a Cop!” with art from Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. The one-two punch of those stories in 1971, coming off the Adam West TV show, was enough to solidify my Batman fandom forever.
The Dell magazine is something that deserves its own column and I’ll get to it, I promise.
10. I have awesome friends, part 2: Ladies and gentlemen, the genius of Pol Rua:
For the love of God, Hollywood, somebody make this happen.
9. Check out what’s new from Max Allan Collins and Hard Case Crime.
8. Hugely discounted Marvel Event hardcovers. My new comics purchases have dropped to almost nothing… my pull list at the moment is Aquaman and IDW’s Star Trek: Boldly Go, and both of those are easily available in collected editions. My retailer of the last thirty-some years is closing for good at the end of January and I see no reason to go looking for another one; the only reason I still have a pull list at all was largely wanting to support said retailer.
The vast majority of comics coming in to this house for the last decade have been back issues I pick up at shows, and book collections from Amazon. The DC books I get are usually old stuff I missed the first time around that I always meant to get to — like Showcase collections of the war books, stuff like that; but at Marvel, I’m covered there through the Essentials. What I’ve missed is the newer stuff, and in the same way the DC Archives are suddenly becoming available for pennies on the dollar, so are the new Marvel hardcovers.
There was no way in hell I was going to try and follow all the individual chapters of Spider-Verse or Original Sin or whatever, but hardcovers collecting those storylines marked down to less than ten bucks? Sure, that’s an impulse buy I’ll indulge. Even if it turns out to be less than stellar (looking at you, Original Sin) ….nevertheless, I find I’m a lot more forgiving of a 350-page hardcover that I’ve acquired for six dollars than I would be of a year-long storyline that cost me over a hundred to keep up with. It’s a nice compromise between my inner adult living on a budget and my inner fanboy who desperately wants to know what’s new. Your mileage may vary.
7. Hey, my book is available at Barnes and Noble. How about that?
6. Patti Smith continues to rock on. Patti’s music got me through a lot of bad days in high school and college, and in more recent years it seemed like she was fighting her way through some bad shit in middle age with her art, same as me and my friends often were. Her voice remains the same magnificent blues instrument it has always been, and it pleases me that she is managing to play shows still, without succumbing to the indignity of a “1970s Nostalgia Cruise” or anything like that.
But what pleases me even more is her current renaissance as a writer.
Now, maybe you had to be there, but I remember a lot of these cultural things as they were happening, and reading her memoirs recounting her experience of the art scene and the burgeoning New York punk movement in the early 1970s was fascinating to me. I found her painfully honest reminiscences in Just Kids and M Train to be completely endearing, and I’m very much looking forward to getting hold of the new one, Devotion, as well.
Here’s another new performance of an old favorite of mine, just because.
Proof that rock stars actually CAN age gracefully. I hope I have that kind of vitality when I’m seventy.
5. Crisis on Earth-X, the CW superhero crossover, was pretty much everything I want in a DC superhero movie. Full stop.
Even the patented CW relationship/hug-it-out stuff didn’t annoy me the way it usually does. We just loved it.
Pity there was no way to work in the awesome Batman moment from the original…
…but Supergirl’s callback to Superman II more than made up for it.
Also, I adored this promo poster.
We still haven’t seen Justice League and honestly I really don’t feel the need to. I feel certain that Crisis on Earth-X has it beat.
4. Likewise, Batman vs. Two-Face was terrific.
We loved the movie but– even more– we love this end credit sequence. I honestly could watch this on a loop all day and never get tired of it.
3. The Star Trek Continues finale was brilliant.
Continuing their casting coups, they got Amy Rydell, daughter of the original Romulan commander Joanne Linville, to reprise the role of Commander Charvanek.
What’s it about? Here’s a hint — silver eyes.
2. Don McGregor returns to the Black Panther. It’s true! According to Don himself on his Facebook page, he just turned in the script to “Panther’s Heart.”
And in other news, “Panther’s Quest” from McGregor and Colan is finally getting collected in paperback.
The “Panther’s Quest” collection should be out in January. “Panther’s Heart,” I don’t know when, but I assume somewhere around the time the movie comes out.
1. One more music video for the hell of it. So what did Hatcher learn from this attempt at a fifteen-item listicle? That it’s not for me. Honestly, I don’t know how those guys at CBR do it. Fifteen is too many, and I didn’t even have a THEME for this really. But I could have gotten three or four Junk Drawers out of this, for sure. Lesson learned.
So, since I’m out of ideas, here’s one more performance from Patti Smith to play us out.
The part where she blanks on the lyrics is how I feel now, frankly. Back next week with something cool. And shorter.