15 Cool Things For You to Click On!!

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.

Part 1 is here; part 2 is here.

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.

14 Comments

  1. Le Messor

    Dark Tower… To each his own, but I rejected it on the grounds that it promotes the stereotype that Akiva Goldsman is a decent scriptwriter.*
    (The only reason I’d’ve watched it was to eventually see how they deal with Odetta constantly attacking Roland for being white.)

    I saw Crisis just last Friday; it was great. One of the guys I watched it with had seen Justice League and he says you were right: it was a much better version of the core idea.

    That Black Panther artwork looks great. (I’ve just, within the last hour or two, read his first appearance!)

    * Joke stolen from Family Guy.

  2. frasersherman

    Crisis was a blast, no question. I think my favorite line was “So you just took your first name, stuck ‘the’ in front of it and that’s your hero name?”
    Bookfinder.com is another good source for cheap. It surveys lots of used book sites; often Amazon isn’t the best price. I’m delighted the archives are now so low — I have a smattering (and the entire Plastic Man set) but I’d love more. Though Batman: The Golden Age looks to work just as well.
    The McGregor Black Panther is excellent: I got it a few years ago used when I was briefly flush with cash. McGregor’s discussion of how it came to be in the intro is great too. I’m glad Marvel’s had the sense to put it out again.

  3. jccalhoun

    Some nice things in this column. Sadly, the last couple Legion Archives are still very pricy. I think they kept releasing those after they quit others. Volume 13 is $200! I’ll never get them all. Since I have most of the original issues in that volume it isn’t too great of a loss but I would still like to have the whole set.

  4. Louis Bright-Raven

    Missed first half of Crisis X (not really a WBDC watcher), but watched the second half; it was alright. Nothing mind-blowing but certainly not bad. Haven’t seen Justice League yet either. Rather “meh” about seeing it. It’s very strange. I don’t really care about the WBDC TV shows and movies, but like some of their comics okay, and with Marvel I like some of their TV shows and films, yet want nothing whatsoever to do with their comics.

    The local comics shop I supported most just closed this past Saturday, too. While there are others in the area and I’ve got my pulls list at another store now (mainly because I’m getting 50% off all books I get through the end of the year through the new store), the one that closed was the only store I actually liked going to. I’m supposed to go buy some bookcases from them later this week as they clear everything out and empty the store. 30 years in business, and out.

    I don’t know how much it’s going to change things. I will still go get my books Wednesdays or Thursdays. But with the new place I get my books, it’s really more of a ‘get in, get out’ type of thing. I don’t really like to talk to anyone there except for the toys manager, but he doesn’t work on new comics day. *shrugs*

  5. Edo Bosnar

    O.k., I knew that Panther’s Quest had finally been collected, but I had absolutely no idea that McGregor had written a new Panther story. Man, I’m so happy about that – esp. if it takes place in that universe in which my head-canon T’Challa resides together with Monica Lynn (even if it doesn’t, I’m still stoked about this).

    Otherwise, I was actually going to ask if we’re going to get a review of that Dell magazine – good to know it’s in the pipeline 😉

    And yeah, the last episode of ST Continues was really good, but bittersweet. It’s been said before (here and elsewhere), but STC and ST Phase II/New Voyages are the best new Trek material produced in the last 10 to 15 years.

  6. M-Wolverine

    Funny in this day and age how much Sheena was wearing.

    Spies, Spoofs, and Super Guys SO deserves a column. That’s awesomeness in print.

    With the way they’ve milked the Die Hard brand, you’ve just given a screenwriter an idea. Should have just saved it and written the spec yourself. Expect to see it in theaters in 2020.

    I never thought of it since you printed it, but while I wish them no ill will, since I’m doing some of the same thing, my life would be easier if my comic book shop closed. I’m painfully trying to ween off the Marvel books, and it’s hard to do it to me or them. A clean break would make it much easier.

    The crossovers are usually the best of the series, and what makes Arrow somehow watchable still. And you’re right, the post was magnificent. Now if I can just catch up over the holiday break…

    It’s almost scary with the make up how much daughter looks like mother. I thought it might just be my memory playing tricks on me and meshing faces, but no, I Google’d them, and while they’re not twins, with the make up they could be. Eerie.

    If that’s how Adam West goes out, well, that’s not bad at all, is it?

    1. Le Messor

      “my life would be easier if my comic book shop closed. I’m painfully trying to ween off the Marvel books,”

      If you’re just collecting token books, and trying to ween of Marvel, have you considered collecting… something else? 🙂

  7. Terrible-D

    I’ll have to search for the Plastic Man archives. I have the whole set of silver-age Doom Patrol, which is, in my opinion, miles beyond Grant Morrison’s run(no one tell Burgas I said that). I like what he did with the characters, but there is just something about the Drake/Haney/Premiani stories that strikes the proper chord for me.
    Animal Vegetable Mineral man anyone!?!
    Also, I’m going to stop at the new, locally owned book shop in my neighborhood to see if they can order me a copy of your new book.

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