Saturday, July 4, 2020

ReMarvel, Episode 4: X-Force #71 (1997)


One of the coolest parts of having a show where you inject a bit of your own personal history, is the ability it gives you to create a feeling of "continuity".  Sometimes, during my droning anecdotes, I could "call back" to prior episodes to provide context or to reinforce a point.  Sometimes, one week I would just pick up where I left off the week before.  This episode is an example of the latter.

The episode before this, which I shared here yesterday, I talked about how I walked away from comics and the comics hobby for a little bit back in the mid-90's.  With today's episode, I get to tell ya how I found my way back.


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This is less a story about profundity... and more, one about a lonely and scared transplanted teenager who found himself returning to something familiar.  Something that made him feel comfortable.  It was a strange time in the comics biz... change was in the air, the speculators had moved on... and, I dunno... the industry just felt a bit more "humble".  There was something endearing about that... which I detail during the episode.

The industry whose gimmickry had driven me away now had this odd earnestness about it.  I felt like it was now finally safe to "go home again"... though, my more addictive side would sort of inform how things went from here.

Speaking of "going home again", I believe this episode opens with me talking about my then-recent trip back to New York... and, how disappointing my first New York bagel in 20 years was.  So, if you don't mind sitting in for an audio version of a vacation slideshow, I think you might dig it.

--

To the future - Tomorrow's a new (to most) Comix Tawk.  Next week I'm going to once again try the "New" version of Blogger... fingers crossed they've worked the bugs out.  If anyone reading is still using Blogger (either version), please let me know if you're having the same challenges I am.

If Blogger is still a mess... I'm probably going to have to see about sliding over to WordPress (as much as that terrifies me).  If anyone has any WP advice (such as whether or not I get to keep my domain name), please hit me up.  Thanks.

Friday, July 3, 2020

ReMarvel, Episode 3: X-Men (vol.2) #45 (1995)


This past few days, there's been kind of a theme here at the blog... well, maybe a few.  They are: Change, Moments of Profundity, and Walking Away.  The episode I'm going to share with you today actually touches on all three!

The purpose of ReMarvel, as a program, was/is for me to rediscover everything I love about Marvel Comics.  Not only that, but it also allowed me a forum where I could reminisce and share stories of my trajectory through comics fandom.  I feel like a lot of folks assume that I was a "DC lifer" and had never touched a Marvel comic, which... while understandable given my content, really isn't the case at all.  Quite the opposite... as I came into my more "rabid" fandom as only reading Marvel, and very seldom checking the DC "side" of the new-release table.


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X-Men (vol.2) #45 came at just about the perfect time for me... and was one of the truest comics-related "moments of profundity" to slap me across the face.  I'm not sure I've expressed this here, though it might be plainly obvious, I'm very much an "all or nothing" sort of guy.  I have great difficulty in the act of calibrating.  I'm either "all-in", or "all-out" with nothing in between.  That applies to my comics fandom as well.

If I'm an X-Fan, then... dangit, I'm reading all the X-Books, ya dig?

If it's also not plainly obvious, I definitely have some addictive qualities.  My inability to let this website go might be the most recent testament to that.  So, being "all-in" and addicted... collecting comics in the mid-1990's sort of ceased being a hobby, and became nothing more than a "chore".  I was 15 years old, and I'd foisted this monthly "bill" onto myself.  I'd feel sick as Wednesday approached, and I knew I was a few cents short of grabbing the next issue(s).  It didn't help that the X-Line of books had absolutely exploded from the time I entered the hobby 4-5 years earlier.  There were just so many X-Books!  It was not the best of times.

With X-Men (vol.2) #45... I hit a wall.  I wasn't picking up Previews catalogs at the time, so I wasn't privy to what was coming next.  Knowing only that it was "X-Men (vol.2) week" at the shop, I headed in with my pittance (including my two-bucks for X-Men)... and, what'd I see?

X-Men #45 was there... and it had a price tag of $3.95!  I was gobsmacked, and couldn't figure out why this random-numbered (which is to say, not a "multiple of twenty-five") issue was slapped with a gimmick cover and jacked up in price.  I was informed that (most of) the X-Books were celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Giant-Size X-Men... and, so... the (core) X-Books for that month would all be of the four-buck variety!

It was at that point I realized:

  • I was never going to be able to afford this month's X-Books, which would put me behind in my collecting
  • Marvel could hit us with one of these "gimmick months" at any time
  • We were just a handful of months away from X-Men (vol.2) and X-Force hitting their 50th issues... which, would definitely be gimmicked and over-priced
It was like I was seeing those "scales of justice".  On one side was a very small stack of comics... that I was more concerned with having than actually enjoying, and on the other... a rather sizable (and ever-growing) stack of cash.

It was in that (profound?) moment that I realized I was done.  It was time for me to "walk away"... and, I tell ya what... when I walked out of the shop that day, I thought it was "for keeps".  I never saw myself falling back into comics again.  Heck, not too long after this, I nearly got rid of my entire collection to that point.  I was just done... and considered the hobby to just be part of my past.

I go into more detail during the ReMarvel episode, if anyone's interested.  This text piece is more of a broad strokes take on the tale.  One of the things I was hoping to accomplish with the episode was to start a conversation... I feel like, as comics fans, many of us have that story about the time we "walked away".  I love hearing that story... and learning what that "last straw" might've been... if, in fact there was a "last straw" and not just a "drifting away".

Unfortunately, it was me asking that question... and so, it largely went ignored.  As you know, I don't have all that much in the way of "cache".  Ya likely won't get a bunch of social media karma or cred if you respond to anything I put into the digital ether.  So, I guess I'll ask it again here:
  • Have you ever "walked away" from comics, dear reader?
  • Was there a "last straw"?
    • If so, what was it?
  • How long were you gone?
    • What brought you back?
I'm trying to get better about engaging with the comments... I apologize for my relative radio-silence on that front of late.  It's been much more difficult getting back into the "swing" of things here than I'd expected.  Starting to realize the "healing process" only really kicks in when you admit you need to be healed in the first place.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Chris is on Infinite Earths, Episode 19: Flashpoint #1 (2011)


Moments of Profundity, to me, are those weird "pivot points" in life.  Sometimes they're clear... other times, you don't realize how profound an event you experienced was until long after the fact.  They can overt... they can be benign.  Whatever the case, it's due to these "moments" that our lives go the direction(s) they do.


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Yesterday I wrote a lot about "change"... and how a lot of times changes are sorta foist upon you.  You have no choice or control over the direction of your life.  We've all been there, and we all will be again at various points.  Today, we're still discussing change, but a less passive sort.  This episode, if you choose to listen to it (which I hope you do, but you probably won't), has to do with one of the biggest decisions and life-changes I made this past decade... and, no... that story has nothing to do with Flashpoint or The New-52!, I promise!

The Flashpoint #1 tie-in and discussion is simply due to the fact that I bought and read this comic book the same day where I experienced one of those "moments of profundity".  The day I finally decided to go back to college... a decision that still affects me to this very day (and beyond).

--

While (tangentially) on the subject of "change"... I think we're getting close the wrap-up point for this site.  Blogger (both versions) is still a disaster.  I'm still not a skilled enough writer to be concise and get a post written in under a couple of hours.  And, I'm pretty sure everybody has just "checked out" on me at this point.

There's a lot of competition online for your ears and eyes... and I totally get why you'd rather spend your time elsewhere.  I feel sort of foolish for assuming people would actually care about the stuff I have to say... especially going on a half-decade of daily content.  Hell, I can't even get my friends to share this stuff.  I guess my content just doesn't have the same karma-farming "cache" as some others.  Can't say that I blame them!

If you're still here, I thank you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Chris is on Infinite Earths, Episode 18: Brightest Day #0 (2010)


Warning: Very self-indulgent and introspective post incoming.

It's Wednesday, which is the day I would usually release episodes of Chris is on Infinite Earths, the podcast named after this blog.  In fact, I was actually bellied up to the microphone yesterday fully intending to finally record Episode 36... but I couldn't.

There was something stopping me... a few things, I guess.  First, it just doesn't feel right.  I guess maybe not enough time has passed?  I'm very conflicted.  Last year, the Brightest Day episode I'm sharing today was my return to recording following Reggie's aortic dissection.  Back then, I told myself I would "get back to work" just as soon as I got the word that everything was going to be okay.  This year, that call isn't going to come.

How do you know when it's right to... not so much "move on", but... move forward?  This is all new to me, and it's really done a number on many aspects of my life.  Pertaining to this hobby in particular: It conjures up questions of why I do this in the first place.  I honestly can't answer that.  Why do I do this?  Why do I create content and share ideas about comic books?  Is it intrinsically motivated... or, is it just habit and "muscle memory"?

Since Reggie's passing, I have recorded a handful of shows... and a handful of segments, but it took a lot of effort... a lot of conflict, guilt, and pain.  It didn't feel natural, it didn't feel "right".  I feel like I did it for the wrong reasons.  I did it to "maintain a schedule", I convinced myself I'd be "letting people down" if I didn't.  Neither of those reasons sound very intrinsic, do they?

At the end of the day, nobody but me cares about "my schedule", and as the numbers show, nobody is interested/invested enough in what I do to be "let down" if I don't deliver.  I'd wager there are very few out there have noticed the absence of my voice on the digital airwaves over the past couple months.

I never wanted to find myself "slipping into a persona" when recording.  I always endeavor to be honest, true, and real when sharing/foisting my voice on listeners.  I never wanted to have to "flip that switch" from conversation-mode to "presentation-mode"... but, I can't deny that that's how it's been the last few times out.  To me, that's just not how "this" ought to work.

There's a lesson there.  It goes back to some advice Reggie had tried, many times over the years, to give me.  To focus only on the intrinsic qualities of everything we did.  Make the pursuit itself the goal.  Don't worry about end-users (and if there are any) or a "community" that doesn't want anything to do with us.  Don't worry about anything other than our own enjoyment, pride, and satisfaction.  I'm sure I'm babbling right now... but, I think there's a point in there somewhere.

Let's get to Brightest Day for a minute... again, this was the first show I put out following Reggie's aortic dissection.


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With this return episode of Chris is on Infinite Earths, I kinda just let it flow.  I let my own conversation take me wherever it wanted to go... which would sort of become the hallmark of the program.  I always envisioned the "Chris Show" to be more personal... and provide a bit of insight into both "the process" as well as my life in general.  Not that I've lived any sort of mindbogglingly interesting life or anything... but, there can be some poignancy in the mundane... I guess?

This episode was the most personal episode to that point.  I connected the Brightest Day "crossovent" with what was going on in my life around that time... also sort of intersecting it with the overall concept of "change".  Change isn't always something within our control... in fact, for someone like me who is terrified of straying from the "norm"... from the "template", change is very seldom something I would go out of my way to "effect".

The personal story I shared during this Brightest Day episode concerned my losing my job back in 2008... which, I'm sure I'm not the only person to lose their gig that year... and just how the next couple of years rolled out.  We lost our home, were literally within 10 days of being homeless... nearly lost the cars, we were really in a bad way.  We wouldn't find any semblance of normalcy and hope until right around the time of Brightest Day.  It was a very difficult, and character-building, time in my life.  Might've been the first time I was actually forced to build any!

So, this "new format" for the program, wherein I'd spend sometimes up to an hour sharing some personal stories and anecdotes before hopping into the comic discussion itself, gave me that intrinsic satisfaction.  The pursuit... the activity of "creating" was everything to me.  I didn't about anything else.

I've been writing for around an hour and a half at this point... and, honestly... I'm not sure I've even "said" anything.  Maybe I'm just trying to clear out a mental logjam... maybe I'm just trying to work out in my head whether or not there's still a "place" for me and my voice in this little world.... because at the end of the day, I still want to create, but I want to make sure I'm doing it for the right reason(s).

Anyways, if you made it this far (both of you), I greatly appreciate it.  I'll try and be less self-indulgent tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Cosmic Treadmill Presents... Comix Tawk, Episode 7: "Green Lantern"


Three Comix Tawks in a row?  Wha--?

Yes, in order to try and keep a semblance of "order" in releases... today I'll be sharing the other episode of Comix Tawk that was already added to our regular feed nearly a year ago.  Episode 7 had a bit of a different tone and feel to it... and was a direction we were very excited to explore.

Rather than us curmudgeonly kvetching about everything going on in "current year comics", we decided to go a different direction, and actually talk about things we like!  Imagine that, right?


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We wanted to use our Comix Tawk "forum" to, not only discuss the industry... but the properties, franchises, creators, and characters we love so much.  Green Lantern is one of those properties, and we figured it was as good a place to begin as any.  We had a massive list of topics for this type of Comix Tawk... however, only got around to covering two.  In a few weeks, I'll release the episode featuring the other franchise we examined... the Teen Titans.

I've got so many partially done scripts of this type in my Google Drive right now.  We were really looking forward to just chatting about our favorites in an "off-the-cuff" yet chronological/linear fashion.  I did get to use my Doom Patrol timeline for a different program... but, most of 'em are probably just gonna sit.

Anyway... if you decide to give this a listen, I hope you enjoy.  I'd love to hear your thoughts... and maybe hear about some of your favorite/least favorite eras/stories in Green Lantern history.

Episode 8 of Comix Tawk will release as scheduled this Sunday morning.

If you decide to listen, I hope you enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Cosmic Treadmill Presents... Comix Tawk, Episode 6: "The Four Kinds of Fans"


Two Comix Tawks in a row?

Well, yeah... but not because I'm uploading them two days in a row.  This episode of Comix Tawk was released to the main feed well over a year ago (March 17, 2019), as both a way to buy us a week while Reggie was dealing with illness, and to let the listeners know what sort of content we were providing as Patreon Exclusives.

This episode's topic is one I was very excited about... and, had honestly been looking for any way of shoehorning it into the conversation.  This is an examination of the fandom... of all fandoms, I guess... and the lengths purveyors of consumable entertainment go to serve as many of them as possible (sometimes/often "robbing Peter to pay Paul").


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The inspiration for this sort of episode, wherein we analyze the "four kinds of fans", came from an interview conducted with professional wrestling personality, Jim Cornette probably sometime during the mid-2000's.  I had stumbled across it was back then, and had even written a piece about it on a long-defunct blog I used to maintain.

When asked about ways to "improve business", Cornette explained how he viewed potential recipients of professional wrestling by breaking them down into four groups... which, if you stop and think about it (which I did), are pretty universal to any sort of media.

  • Group 1: Fans.  These are the people who will watch/read/buy your product regardless of its quality, simply because they are fans of... comics, movies, music, pro-wrestling, tv shows... etc.
  • Group 2: Fans of the Good Stuff.  These fans are "aware" of your product, but will only buy/read/watch/attend when there's a "buzz"... when they hear good things about it.
  • Group 3: Bandwagoners.  They know you're out there, but will only pop in for the biggest events, and multi-media tie-ins.
  • Group 4: Non-Fans.  These are people who don't care about your product... and never will.
His stance was... you'll always have Group 1.  You'll get Group 2 when you're good.  You'll get Group 3 when you're lucky.  And, most importantly for this episode... you'll never get Group 4, because they just don't care.

So why is it that media, comics included, are always trying to lure those Group 4'ers into the club when it's obvious they don't wanna be there?  Well, the clear answer is, as it normally is, "money".  But what is the cost of largely unsuccessfully luring these folks?  What happens to those folks in the other three groups... who it's possible to get... when you stop caring about what they want?

It's a pretty fun conversation, if you care to listen.  This was an episode like 12-13 years in the making for me... a topic I really wanted to discuss, and I'm so glad  we found the opportunity to do so.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Cosmic Treadmill Presents... Comix Tawk, Episode 5: "Decompression & Writing For the Trade"


In this new-to-most former Patreon Exclusive episode, we discuss the not-so-secret phenomenon of writing "for the trade".  When did it begin to take over the mainstream comics industry... and, after all years since, is it still just something the fandom "imagined up"?
It's a lean and mean episode discussing excessively padded pablum... you won't wanna miss it!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

ReMarvel, Episode 2: X-Men (vol.2) #8 (1992)


To go along with yesterday's piece regarding Uncanny X-Men #287 and the X-Traitor, I figured today I should probably share the "sister piece" to that episode.

ReMarvel was (and I suppose technically still is) a solo show I did/do, whose purpose was to help me to reengage with Marvel Comics.  It'd been a long time since I bothered reading any Marvel... new or old.  Ya see, I've got this weird thing where, if I hate what a company is doing in "current year", it kind of sours me on everything from them.  I hated current-year Marvel, and so... I could no longer enjoy the very books that made me a rabid fan in the first place.

I only put out a handful of these episodes, though there are several "in progress" at various points of done-ness.  Just don't know if it's necessarily worth my time and effort to get 'em done.  I'm trying to work on my "self-awareness", and beginning to realize that very few people actually care to listen to my stories and anecdotes.


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Speaking of stories and anecdotes, this episode (like most of my solo-output) is full of them!  X-Men (vol.2) #8 has the distinction of being my very first "white whale"... a book, despite not being a "key" issue, that I just couldn't track down.  It took me a couple of years, and I talk all about it during the episode's overlong pre-ramble.

If anyone wants to share their thoughts and/or earliest memories of "comic book white whales", I'd love to hear 'em!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill, Episode 144: Uncanny X-Men #287 (1992)


Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill, Episode #144

Uncanny X-Men #287 (April, 1992)
"Bishop to King's Five!"
Story - Jim Lee & Scott Lobdell
Pencils - John Romita, Jr.
Inks - Chris Ivy, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bob Wiacek, Scott Williams, & Dan Panosian
Colors - Gina Going & Joe Rosas
Letters - Tom Orzechowski
Edits - Bob Harras
Chief - Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.25
Marvel Comics

Today we're going to revisit a(nother) very special episode of Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill.  This was the second installment of, what I'd planned to be, our "X-Men Mysteries" box-set.  Here we give Uncanny X-Men #287 from 1992 the full "Treadmill treatment"... as well as go down the rabbit hole for the X-Mystery that was born in this very issue: Who is... the X-Traitor?!


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Reggie and Me - Real Comics History


Today I'm going to shine a bit of a light on a series of episodes that I feel like most of our listeners aren't even aware of.

Real Comics History sort of started out of necessity.  This was around the time where Reggie and I were contributing the Young Animal Segment for the Weird Science DC Comics Podcast... which I spoke a little bit about a few weeks back.  Now, here's the thing... the DC Comics' Young Animal imprint was (and is) curated by a buffoon who didn't prioritize getting his comics out on time.  The sort of fella who was more interested in getting the Young Animal logo onto t-shirts to be sold at Hot Topic than actually getting words down on the page.  That said... there were many weeks where we didn't have a Young Animal book to discuss on the show.

So, what could we do to fill our segment?  Well... I suppose we could've just sat out those weeks.  I know many a Weird Science listener probably would have preferred that we did... but, no.  We still wanted to contribute... something.  But, what?

Reggie and I talked a lot about "theories of fandom"... which is probably apparent.  One of our "go-to" concepts was a well-trodden theory that pop-culture (well, everything... but "pop-culture" for our purposes) is at its best when you're twelve years old.



From there, I thought it might be cool for us to actually evaluate that theory on a person-by-person basis... starting with myself.  Now, for me... I was twelve in 1992, so I'm pretty sure as far as comics are concerned... I win.  I mean, the Image launch, Death of Superman... how couldja beat that?  Well, I'm guessing if you were twelve during a different year... you might feel differently.  And that is what we wanted to find out.

And so, playing off our Weird Comics History series... we decided to call this one Real Comics History, as it sought to analyze and evaluate the "real world" around comics.  A fan's perspective.  And, again... we started with 1992.


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You might note that this is listed as "Episode 2" of the series... but, that's only because it was the second episode to be moved to the Chris and Reggie feed.  The first one we shifted over was an episode discussing 1985, so we could slot it in during our six-part Crisis on Infinite Earths series of shows.

Not only did I feel like this could lead to some decent discussion... I also saw Real Comics History as an opportunity or us (well, me) to show a little bit more personality.  Up until this point, my contributions to both Weird Science and our own feed were... I dunno, maybe a little bit "dry".  Maybe notsomuch "dry", but... impersonal?  Impersonal is probably a better word to use.  Listeners wouldn't actually know a lot about me from my output... and I wanted to change that a bit.  Give folks (those who were interested, anyway) a little bit of insight about me, my life, my preferences... just sorta flesh myself out a little bit as a content creator.

I think Real Comics History was where I sorta found myself... being myself.  These shows weren't heavily scripted... and were, just fun discussions that we just so happened to be recording.  These felt less like we were lecturing... and more like we were sharing.

Real Comics History was slated for a return this Summer, as Reggie and I both agreed it would be a topic we could slide into pretty easily... without Reggie having to read a whole lot from a script.  We figured I could "pitch", he could "bat"... and we'd get some good stuff.  The more "off the cuff" nature of this program would have made it a lot easier for him... and would have brought more fun content to the channel.

The show didn't run all that long... and we dropped the "when you were twelve" trappings pretty much right away.  There were a lot of "Comics Years" we wanted to discuss... even if we didn't personally know anyone who was twelve during them.  I do still feel like the "When You Were Twelve" concept is a darn good one, and one I'd love to further explore with folks.  Maybe one of these days I'll actually get around to doing it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

X-Men: Blue #1 (2017)


X-Men: Blue #1 (June, 2017)
Writer - Cullen Bunn
Art - Jorge Molina & Matteo Buffagni
Colors - Matt Milla
Letters - VC's Joe Caramagna
Assistant Editor - Christina Harrington
Editor - Mark Paniccia
Editor in Chief - Axel Alonso
Cover Price: $4.99

Something a little bit different today.  Still got the Blogger-image woes, and am not really in the right head space to reflect on some Chris and Reggie stuff at the moment... so, we're dipping back over into the From Claremont to Claremont project... where I had the intentions of writing semi-regular "capsule" reviews of some of the X-Books from around the time that I decided to drop the property.  I didn't get all that far... guess that might've been the step too far that made me realize I'm not just a blogging machine, or whatever.  Anyhoo... I started with X-Men: Blue #1 from 2017, and here is what I had to say about it.

It's formatted a little differently than how I usually do things... but, it was meant to be quite a bit "breezier" (if only I had the ability to make it breezy and concise!).  Enjoy... or, ya know... don't.

--

(Originally written March 29, 2020)

As the official launch of From Claremont to Claremont: An X-Men Podcast draws ever closer, I am trying my darnedest to "get into" the current batch of books.  While, for the most part, I've enjoyed everything I've read... I can't help but to feel a little bit (okay, a lot-bit) lost.  After being an X-Men fanatic for over 30 years, it's a very strange sensation to suddenly feel like you're a "new reader".

And so, I decided to try and catch myself up on everything I'd missed over the past few years... starting with the books that drove me away from the franchise in the first place!  Those crazy "color" books... X-Men: Blue, X-Men: Gold... eventually X-Men: Red and that series of X-Men: Black books as well!

When these books first launched, even still being an avid X-Men reader at the time... I swear, I barely recognized any of the characters!  I probably read the first six issues of both Blue and Gold before finally pulling the plug... well, I stopped reading them anyway... it took me quite a bit longer to drop them from my pull-list.  Old habits, and all'at.

These "reviews", if we can call them that, are going to be pretty short... and, so long as I can help it: concise.  This is basically a means to an end... where writing about these books gives me more of a reason to actually read them.

--

Before I get started, I want to preface with the fact that I'm going into this a little bit biased.  I know this probably isn't a popular opinion, but, I find the writer of this title to be... rather dull.  I can only think of one Cullen Bunn book that I enjoyed even a little bit, and that was a Green Lantern Corps miniseries before Rebirth over at DC.  I've read my fair share of his work... in fairness it couldn't really be avoided, for a while there he was writing about 80% of mainstream comics' output.  I'm sure he's a nice dude... and, I'm hoping in revisiting these issues, I'll come out of this with a more favorable opinion.

Now, X-Men: Blue features the time-displaced Original Five... ya know, the ones Bendis brought from the past... which, wasn't the actual past, but a different past... but, still they were the same people... or something?  Yeah, them.  There are some differences between these and the originals... Warren's got glowing wings, Hank's taken up mysticism, and Jean looks as though she's developed the secondary mutation to give herself really bad haircuts.

The team has been tracking a Cerebro ping all the way to a sea vessel in the Mediterranean.  Jean immediately picks up some frantic psychic hoodoo.  One thing that catches me right off the bat is the pretty incessant "sass" in this dialogue.  I get that these are kids... and kids these days be sassy, but this is actually making me root against them.

Also, the "Fraptions"... I was hoping we were done with them when Matt Fraction left the book.  You remember those, right?  Those silly little add-ons in the introductory captions for each character?  Here's one from this very issue for Jean.



Turns out the baddie they're tracking is Black Tom Cassidy... who, after a bit of a skirmish, introduces his partner in crime... duh, Juggernaut (with wacky "fraption"!).  Now, I appreciate the attempt at making this feel "old school" by using some classic X-Villains, just the way we remember them... but, this feels more like the bad guys have been "frozen in amber", like plucked out of a comic from the early 90's, rather than having lived an actual life in the interim.  I mean, Juggernaut was an X-Man for awhile... I'm pretty sure Black Tom was on X-Force for a bit!



Juggernaut actually manages to prove that he is from "current year" by pouncing toward Cyclops for killing Charles Xavier.  They fight... and, outside the sassy banter, this is pretty well done.  The Blue team comes out on top after Beast uses his mystic abilities to open a portal, which sends Juggs to Siberia.  This ticks off Cyclops, suggesting that there might be a rift in the ranks oncoming.

The main portion of the story ends with, what I'm guessing is supposed to be a suspenseful scene where the team is checking in with their "boss".  It's... Magneto.  Which, ya know... maybe a little bit underwhelming, considering Magneto's been playing the hokey-pokey with the X-Men for the better part of five decades at this point?



The issue actually manages to pick up a bit with an epilogue which introduces Jimmy Hudson from the Ultimate Universe (Ultimate Comics: X) into the mainstream post-Secret Wars (2015) Marvel Universe.  Jimmy whups him a Wendigo... and a lot of people wind up dead.



--

In revisiting this for the first time in like three years, I really can't figure out why this was the "straw that broke me", so to speak.  It's certainly not my favorite take on the X-Men (time-displaced or otherwise), but there's nothing quite so bad here that I would actually end my three-decade long obsession with the property, ya know?  Maybe it'll become more evident as we move forward... or, maybe I'll wind up realizing that I was just way overdue for a break from the franchise?  Stranger things have happened...

I did not like the "sassy" dialogue, however, when he was able to rein that in, I thought Bunn did some great work here.  The post-fight argument between Scott and Hank was especially strong... and actually makes me want to read further, just to see if this does lead to an actual schism.

The Magneto reveal... as mentioned, was underwhelming.  Not that this issue was touted as having a "big reveal" or anything, but the way it was presented I get the feeling like I was supposed to have to pick my jaw up off the floor after seeing it.

Now, the epilogue... that was a lot fun.  I was never really a fan of bringing the Ultimate characters over... but, I can totally see why they did it.  The Ultimate books had been on life-support for years... no matter what sort of stunt Marvel pulled, it just never got back to the level of those exciting first few years of the line.  Seeing Jimmy Hudson here... it worked, and honestly... if not for the contrived nature of Marvel cramming all the notable characters from the Ultimate Universe into the 616 at once, may have actually resulted in my having to pick my jaw up off the floor!

The art here, and I feel like artists these days (maybe especially at Marvel?) don't get near enough credit, is really good.  Outside of Jean's very ugly haircut, I really dug the way this book looked.  The Art Adams cover, well... it should go without saying, but it's really very nice.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Reggie and Me - Patreon


Yesterday I wrote a little bit about the Cosmic Treadmill... After Dark series of podcasts, which were (and I suppose still sorta are... at least for the next few weeks) exclusive to our Patreon page.  It started making me think of how and when we put together our little "exclusive" slice of the internet.

Also, yesterday... I decided I'm going to withdraw from most social media platforms.  It's not a healthy relationship for me... and, it hasn't been in quite some time.  Before switching off the lights on my Twitter for now (or forever, who knows... not like anyone'll notice either way), I figured I should probably officially shut down the @cosmictmill account as well.

Truth is, neither Reggie nor myself have had access to that account in like a year (again, not that anyone noticed).  We weren't great at keeping passwords where we could find 'em.  Also, we made Weird Comics History accounts wayyy back in the long ago... then, instead of changing them to Cosmic Treadmill accounts... we just made new accounts (probably because we lost the passwords to the originals!).  So, anytime I'd try and reset these passwords, it'd always seem to be for the wrong account.  A real mess... which, might tell you why I became so anxious to consolidate all of the output under one umbrella.

I get that this is very dry and boring... and not much of a story, but... I also get that I'm probably the only one who's still paying attention.  Anyhoo... yesterday I finally cracked the code.  I was able to access the @cosmictmill account, and decided to scroll a bit... just a little walk down memory lane, I guess.  Not like I necessarily needed to "sign-in" in order to read our old timeline... but, whattayagonnado?

I found myself scrolling down to our announcement of the Patreon launch... and a flood of memories came rushing to my head.  Ya see, this was a topic Reggie and I didn't quite see eye to eye on.  Reggie was for it, and very excited to "test the waters"... I was a bit more conflicted.

First, I honestly didn't think anyone would care.  I've seen enough Patreon pages go up with high hopes and good intentions... only to just flop.  I figure, I've got low enough self-esteem already... didn't need any others reasons to doubt my worth round here, right?

Second, being raised Catholic... I feel like if there's a situation wherein I'm profiting in any way, that I'm automatically "getting away" with something.  I felt guilty asking people to pay us for our content.  Like, who am I to do that?  Ya know?

Third, and perhaps most important... I've seen shows change drastically after launching a Patreon.  Shows/content lose their intrinsic feel... and it becomes clear it's become all about the money, and making as much of it as possible.  I've listened to half-hour long podcasts where they plugged their Patreon a half-dozen times.  That's too much, folks.  That's not every show, mind you... but enough of them to really sour me on the concept.

I do have a ton of respect for folks who can go the Patreon route... and actually make it work.  Putting out exclusives with regularity... even (and especially) when their following is small.  That tells me how serious they are.  I've literally seen Patreon pages loaded with exclusive audio and video... with one Patron.  That says a lot about the character and commitment of the creator(s).

But... don't get me started on shows who launch their pay-tiers before even recording a single second of audio.  I get 3-4 follows a week on social media from "coming soon" comics podcasts... zero minutes of audio recorded, zero words written... but, you can already give them all your monies!  Ya know, those popular comics covers they went to Google Images and "right-click-saved" to post on their Twitter are probably worth your five-bucks a month!.  That's probably another reason why I'm leaving social media for a spell.

So yeah... I was conflicted when it came to launching a Patreon.  Despite the fact that we had thousands of hours of audio, millions of words of text, tens of thousands of hours of research... and a regular schedule, I still felt like we (or I) hadn't "earned it".

Reggie really wanted to try... and figured if not then, when?  And so, we did.  I must say I was shocked at the reception.  I literally lost sleep the night before it went "live", fearing some sort of backlash (I'm a bit of a narcissist to even assume anyone would care... much less put forth the effort to "lash back")... or, just the idea that we "sold out".  But... here's the thing, people were excited to join!  I was gobsmacked... and loved the idea that we were starting this little "community".  I'd have probably preferred it without any exchange of money... but, still... it was really cool, knowing that there were folks who believed in us, and our "product" enough to "back" us.

The reception was, honestly, wonderful... and my doubts started to fade away.  My guilt, however?  Well, that ain't goin' nowhere.  We got to work on creating "exclusive" programs... and, overall... the entire experience was a lot of fun.  For awhile there, we were just cranking out content... on both feeds.

Each month we were looking at:

  • 4-5 episodes of Cosmic Treadmill
  • 1-2 episode of Weird Comics History
  • 2 episodes of Comix Tawk
  • 1 episode Cosmic Treadmill... After Dark
  • 2-3 episodes of Chris is on Infinite Earths
  • 2-3 episodes of Reggie's Comics Stories
  • 4-5 episodes of the Young Animal Gatherum
That's a lot of audio... and as a content creator, I don't think I ever felt better.  I just love "the work".  My goal was to release audio of some sort 4 times a week, between the two feeds.  I'd start a solo Marvel show for the main feed... a show called NOTCMX on the Patreon, discussing things that, ya know... aren't comics, and "Catching up with Chris", also on the Patreon... where I'd take a look at a new/recent comics arc and share my thoughts.  All the while, blogging here every single day.

Don't know where I/we found the time or energy... I can hardly bring myself to belly up to the mic more than a couple times a month anymore.  I guess a fella needs to know when they're beat... and gain a bit of self-awareness about how far their voice is actually going.  Maybe that's just where I'm at now.

Anyhoo... the Patreon was another site that I'd lost the password for, and so... I recently had to jump through a bunch of hoops to regain access... just so I could shut it all down.  It was very sad... it was literally the dissolution of a community.  With one click of the mouse... it was all gone.  Because, despite all of the challenges we faced over the past year and change... we didn't lose the support of the group.  They were patient... and wonderful.  They believed in us, and understood everything that was going on... they didn't hold anything against us.  I doubt I'll ever be surrounded by such a supportive group of folks ever again (at least in the comics commentary sense).

Oh well... rather than leave off there... I want to share with you all some of the silly advertisements we put together to promote our Patreon.  They're kind of what jogged my little memory flood in the first place!  So, I'll end with some funny pictures!  Thank you all for reading.






An advertisement for our Chris and Reggie's Enamel Pins (which I still have like fifty of)!

Some of those pins in the hands of our wonderful Patrons and friends!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill, Episode 138: Action #37 (1976)


Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill, Episode #138

Action #37 (October 23, 1976)
By Pat Mills, John Wagner, & Steve McManus
IPC Media
Cover Price: 7p

The mornings around here have become this strange game of me opening a blank blog post and trying to "batch upload" pictures... just to see if any of my Blogger-worries have been assuaged.  Welp... it's one'a those good news, bad news situations.  I can, in fact, batch-upload... it's just that the images don't exactly stay uploaded.  As soon as I set one image where I want it... the rest of them disappear completely.  I know I must sound like a broken-record after a week of these "updates", but... this is Google, right?  I mean, they are a pretty big company, no?

Oh well... I suppose this just gives me another excuse to reminisce.  And so, today I'll share the story of Cosmic Treadmill... After Dark.


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Cosmic Treadmill Presents... Comix Tawk, Episode 4: "Collecting, Completionism, & Addiction"


Looking back, there were so many "evergreen" discussions I would have with Reggie.  Topics that could (and would) come up many times that we'd talk.  It was always like, when these topics would come up, that we were building on/continuing everything we said before.  I mean, that's not unique to us... that's just how friends communicate.  What is (somewhat) unique to us, is... sometimes, we'd be talking into live-mics when we did.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

X-Factor #71 (1991)


X-Factor #71 (October, 1991)
"Cutting the Mustard"
Writer - Peter David
Pencils - Larry Stroman
Inks - Al Milgrom
Letters - Michael Heisler
Colors - Glynis Oliver
Editor - Bob Harras
Chief - Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.00

Blogger's still being precious... don't worry though, Blogger support doesn't care a bit, so it's probably all in my head!

"Leave Feedback" they say (they being the "lookitme, lookitme" white-knights in the support forums - they really need that pat on the head from Daddy Google!)... I'd get further asking my dog for programming help.  Hell, at least that way, I'd get a response of some sort.

If I wasn't so scared of losing the million-plus words I've written here over the past four and a half years, I'd be jumping ship PDQ.

Anyhoo... let's meet the all-new, all-different (as of 1991) X-Factor.

--



We open with Lila Cheney's bodyguard, Guido Carosella asking Lorna Dane if she happens to have any Grey Poupon.  Now, that's kind of a dated reference... so, a teeny bit of context.  Ya see, back in the early 90's, there were these commercials for Grey Poupon Mustard... featuring very classy individuals in fancy cars eating, ya know, things that go well with mustard.  One would pull up to another, roll down their window and inquire whether or not the other had any.  The answer would always come back, "but of course".  Here, have a look for yourself:



Lorna too replies "of course", because ya see... X-Factor has everything... including some of the tallest ceilings you'll ever hope to find anywhere.  Guido gets the mustard and positively slathers it all over a split loaf of Italian bread.  At the end of the table, Jamie Madrox struggles getting the lid off a jar of mayonnaise... lotsa condiment humor here.



Lorna and Guido discuss the possibility of Alex Summers joining up with this All-New, All-Different X-Factor... with the former having a bit of dilemma considering her personal history with Havok.  Meanwhile, Madrox continues to fiddle with the mayo jar.  He can't open the thing... even with the help of a dupe.  Guido and Lorna are also unsuccessful in their attempts.



We shift scenes over to Genosha, where Alex is acting as a sort of foreman for the post-X-Tinction Agenda rebuild.  Government liaison, Val Cooper is trying to convince him to sign on with X-Factor... but, Al ain't feelin' it.



Suddenly an I-Beam snaps from its supports and plummets toward Val and Al.  Alex plows the thing with an energy blast, just as Rahne Sinclair leaps onto the scene pushing the other Summers out of the way.  Val doesn't even flinch... she wasn't scared in the slightest, knowing Alex would protect her.



Back in Washington, D.C. Quicksilver arrives, with the only Inhuman anyone ever cared about, Lockjaw in tow.  He's there to meet with X-Factor, but finds himself in the middle of an anti-Roxxon demonstration.  One of the protesters proclaims that Roxxon is "raping the environment".  Not used to seeing that word in an early-90's superhero comic!



Quicksilver is informed that there's a bomb about to go off... and so, he rushes into action to take care of it.  He uses his speed to find and deactivate the boom-box.



Back in Genosha, Alex, Rahne, and Val are chatting about what X-Factor can offer.  Alex is steadfast in his refusal... which prompts the arrival of Professor X and Cyclops to try and convince him.  Wonder if Charlie's gonna use the ol' Mind-Wipe?  Nah, they're just going to tell him that Lorna's already signed on.



Speaking of Lorna, back in D.C. she answers a knock at the door.  It's Quicksilver, who's finally found his way over... looking much worse for wear.  Once inside the high-ceilinged room, he faints straight away.  Guido carries him over to the couch.



Some time passes, and we get a gag about the Inhumans convincing Ben Grimm that Lockjaw was a humanoid that became a dog instead've just being a dog.  Ehh, even with their jokes, the Inhumans are a complete bore.  We also learn here that something has happened to Pietro's powers... every time he uses them, his metabolism accelerates his aging.  So, in essence, his powers are killing him.



We rejoin the Genoshan contingent as they're flying back toward the States.  On board, we learn that Val Cooper has a brother who's in the F.B.I.  At present, he's working on a case regarding a girl who was found... dead, wrapped in plastic.  Hmm... I'm sure the first time I read this, I totally missed the Twin Peaks reference.



Quicksilver continues his tale of woe... he learned via a postcard that somebody in the Washington, D.C. area is responsible for his accelerated aging.  Just then, Havok and Wolfsbane arrive and announce that they're joining the team.  Alex and Lorna have a nice little reunion... much to Rahne's dismay.  Ya see, Rahne's recently gone through some stuff... and found herself emotionally attached to Alex.  We'll be dealing with that until issue #100.



Alex also gives opening the mayo jar a shot... and is just as unsuccessful as the rest.  Finally, Val gives it a wap on the edge of the table and easily unscrews the lid.  The mayo, it's worth noting, looks pretty disgusting.



That night, we learn that Jamie Madrox's mayo jar was a gimmick he invented back on Muir Island.  Why?  Who knows.  Anyhoo, as he's in the middle of congratulating himself, there's a knocking at his door.  He answers it... and is positively riddled with bullets!



Jamie is blown back by the shots... and crashes through a window!  He falls a few floors, and our issue ends with him laying lifeless and smoking.



--

It's weird... X-Factor was definitely something of an outlier back in the long ago.  It didn't feel like the other (three main) X-Books... it also didn't look much like 'em!  I remember thinking there was "too much talking" in this issue... as well as hating the art back in the day.  Strange that, near thirty-years later, it feels like this one might've "aged" the best!

I'd come around to Peter David pretty quick... in fact, by the time X-Cutioner's Song was over, he was one of my favorite writers.  Heck, he was one of the first writers (not named Pini) I bothered to actually make a mental note of.  After that switch flipped, returning to these early new-look X-Factor issues was a treat.

Stroman, however, took me a bit longer to really glom onto.  I compare his place in the X-Books to Jon Bogdanove on the Superman books.  It's a bit abstract, looks nothing like it's cohort-books, and might initially stand out as being, I dunno, maybe "off-putting"?  But... all these years removed, it stands out as being more timeless, than anything... ya know?  This doesn't "scream" 1991 like a Lee, Liefeld, or Portacio... at least it doesn't to me.  I think that really helped this run feel "fresher" than the rest.  Not that I don't love the contemporary X-Books... because, I do.  But, this one's... just a little bit different.  It's that one main-line X-Book from the 90's that folks online won't give you a judgy eyebrow-raise for reading.

As far as this issue is concerned... it was pretty good.  I don't think it hits its stride for a few issues, but we gotta start somewhere.  The mayonnaise jar running gag... ehhh.  Probably not my favorite thing in the world.  I enjoyed seeing Alex and Lorna reconnect... though, that'll become more of a "thing" as we move along.

Reading this again after many, many years... I was delighted to catch the Twin Peaks reference.  Asamattafact, as I'm writing this... we were supposed to be taking our annual trip up to the Salish (Great Northern) Lodge in Snoqualmie, Washington for our Anniversary.  If the world hadn't come screeching to a halt a few months back, I'd be having my annual "girly drink" by the waterfall tonight.  Oh well.  We'll get back up there eventually.

Think that's all for today.  Sorry if my analysis was less "on-point"... just alt-tabbing between windows wrestling with damned (non-existent) Blogger support... and these ridiculous "Notice Me, Senpai" Google fanatics, relentlessly trying to shift the blame to the user.

--

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