Your Favorite Comics Memorabilia?

I don't really collect a lot of comics memorabilia--I don't really have any statues or many posters or anything.  But I do have a few things I like.
 
This Beta Ray Bill poster, an original teaser poster for Walt Simonson's run on Thor, is pretty damn sweet--great drawing, with classic Simonson energy flares. I love the graphics treatment as well, with the left/right split of the background space which helps focus on the silhouette, plus especially the targeted use of red.  It's printed on fairly nice matte paper as well. Picked it up at a garage sale run by a guy who used to own a comics shop!
 

Beta Ray Bill poster
Beta Ray Bill poster
 

I've always enjoyed watches with a fun/cool image.  My last watch was a Neitzsche watch, and when that broke, I got this, which I think is great.  It's not rare or anything, you can get it on Amazon, I just like the idea that out of the ten or so watches that Marvel makes, one of them is J. Jonah Jameson!  Fun idea.  As a friend of mine said, it would be great if it had an alarm that said "PAAARRRRRKERRRR!!!!"   I know watches are becoming an accessory of yesteryear, but I still like the way they can still make a small statement about your style or interests.
  
J. Jonah Jameson watch
J. Jonah Jameson watch


And last (and probably least) is this Scourge button.  I got this at a comic con years and years ago.  It's just a sweet panel and reminds me of when I first started getting into comics.  I was always a fan of Scourge.
 
Scourge button
Scourge button
  
I guess I have a few more things, but those are the ones that I like the most.

What kinds of memorabilia do you have? Why do you like it? I'm sure a lot of people on this site have WAY more memorabilia than I do, so let's limit it to three items per person!   :)

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Demise of some good kids' comics recently

I'm just a little sad to see some good kids' comics get cancelled recently: Tiny Titans, the "All New" Batman Brave and the Bold, and now Marvel Adventures Spider-Man.

I know there are a variety of replacements coming out after them, but they've all been good, and it's too bad to see them go.

As is often the case, these comics weren't just good for kids, although I have been getting them for my kids, but they're also fun for me to read, as an adult--sometimes moreso than the comics that I buy for myself.

Not only have I appreciated the general cynicism-free zone in which they operate, but they had good dialog, fun and/or high-quality art, and they all introduced a lot of random, back-bench characters. In doing so, they provided a lot of entertaining conversations between me and my kids over who, exactly, these characters are. Dad, why are there all these Robins and Batgirls? Tiny Titans AND Brave and the Bold tackled this question better than I could! Many times, I had to make a trip to CV to find out who other characters were, and I actually learned quite a bit about obscure and not-so-obscure characters by doing so.

My kids are now huge fans of Mouse Man, Bat Mite, Mxy, the Rainbow Raider, the Mad Mod, the Mirror Master, Clock King, Principle Slade, Lunchlady Darkseid, the romantic travails of Beast Boy and Terra, Plasmus and Bee's romance, Jason Toddler, young Cass Cain, the Croc Files, Raven and Trigon, Aquacow and the rest of the super cows and other pets, Spidey's alternate costumes (like "Mace"), the Red Ghost's Super Apes, the Blonde Phantom, Chat, a surprisingly affecting story involving Bullseye, and all the rest.

Anyway, we've been reading these series together for about as long as my kids have been reading comics. Which means that we're about to embark on a new era now that they're done, and I hope something just as good comes down the pike.

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Mighty Thor--WHAT!!?!

Spoilers of a sort ensue if you haven't been reading Mighty Thor.

So, I quit Mighty Thor after the Galactus storyline; I would have quit earlier if it hadn't had Galactus and Surfer in it, who are characters I enjoy a lot. But the end, when Fraction effectively annihilated the character history of the Surfer, I stopped. I have become quite an anti-fan of Fraction.

But then I read a review of this week's issue here on CV, and it mentioned that there was a scene where Loki and Surfer are trying to wrestle over Thor's hammer. It sort of intrigued me, so I paged through the issue, and the one before it, in my LCS.

HOLY F'ING CRAP!!!!

What the hell is going on here? Can someone tell me if this doesn't suck as much as I think it does?

For those of you who haven't been following, here's some of what I saw, which made me almost drop the books like they were covered in acid:

THE SILVER SURFER WEARING JEANS! No shirt, just F'ING JEANS! What the hell is that about?!?!

Plus, he's lying there on the desert, playing Prometheus while vultures eat his flesh. How on earth is this possible, even if he wants it to happen? Why why why?

Plus, Thor is ALREADY alive again!?!? That is stunningly ridiculous. I mean, I know death and resurrection is a cycle around the comic world, but that is pretty freaking fast.

I don't know. I think there was a bit more than that, but just saying "Silver Surfer in jeans" is enough to melt my brain. I mean, it's funny if it's played up for laughs, like in his recent appearance in Marvel Adventures Spider Man, where he wore a baseball cap, but from what I could tell, the Surfer just decided he wanted to sport some jeans here.

Somebody please tell me how this makes sense.

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A non-DC reader reads (some of) the New 52

Although I was not a fan of the concept of the DC "revamp" on principle, since I feel like they did it for financial reasons and it won't have any major commercial effect after about a year, I felt like I would at least give them a chance, since I am always looking for something good to pick up.

I am mostly a Marvel reader, and always have been, although I have always dabbled slightly in good DC stories I've heard about through the grapevine--mostly Batman stuff. I've enjoyed a variety of DC-based TV shows and movies. Plus I have gotten Tiny Titans, DC Superfriends, and Batman: Brave and the Bold for my kids. And I get a few from non-Marvel and non-DC companies here and there. But generally speaking, 75-80% of what I've read historically is Marvel.

Why am I mostly a Marvel reader and not a DC reader? No huge reason. When I first started reading comics, I was borrowing them from a friend, and his comics were mostly Marvel. So when I started buying my own, they were Marvel. And honestly it was just too expensive and too complicated for me at the time to invest in two separate universes. At the time (the 80s), the standard saying went that Marvel comics were character-driven and DC comics were plot-driven. I don't know if that was actually true at the time, but I suppose if it was, I would have preferred character-driven comics. I don't think that's particularly true today, and in fact the opposite may be true, with Marvel's increasing event storylines. Not that DC doesn't do a lot of events too. Although if we compare Fear Itself to Flashpoint (just the main comics of each) I'd say Flashpoint was more character-driven. The only DC comic I was reading right before the New 52 was Powergirl (and Flashpoint, just because I knew it would tie into the New 52), which was cancelled.

Anyway.

So I would say that in a sense I am DC's ideal customer for the New 52. I'm a comics reader who doesn't read DC but has nothing against DC--my only reason not to read them is that I am less invested in their characters because I haven't read as much of them. I'm always looking for new series, and usually try to jump on things at the start of a new story arc. So I decided to try out all the issues that appealed to me at all, in the hope that they would go all-out in their stories and art in this first month, putting their best foot forward in an attempt to pick up new readers.

What I got was Stormwatch, Mr. Terrific, Wonder Woman, Batman, Batgirl, Red Lanterns, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and All-Star Western.

The Reviews:

I got Stormwatch because I've been interested in Martian Manhunter for some time. I thought the story and art were passable, but not great. It mostly seemed like a bunch of egotistical characters. I may check and see how much the Manhunter is in the next one, but overall it didn't peak my interest.

I got Mr. Terrific partly because he seems like a fairly unique character and I heard Karen Starr would be in it. I thought the writing was generally average, with some real low points (if Karen is just friends with him, why was she in his apartment with her pants off and his shirt off?), and fairly terrible art.

I basically got Wonder Woman because I liked the style of the art on the cover. I felt like the art inside was just as good, and enjoyed the writing too. I don't know if this is how they've treated the gods in WW before, or if that is part of the revamp, but I really liked that aspect of it. A very solid start.

Batman was one I didn't originally plan to get, but I saw some of the inside art on CV. I liked the art, and the writing was decent. And I've always liked Bats.

I picked up Batgirl because Yvonne Craig was awesome. And I figured I would see how she got out of the wheelchair, and I've been hearing a lot about a number of the other Batgirls for a while now. Actually, if the Stephanie version of Batgirl hadn't been cancelled, I probably would have been picking that one up too. The art was good, as was the story, but it didn't really suck me in on a personal level somehow. More like I could appreciate it in the abstract.

Red Lanterns I bought solely because Dex-Starr was in it, and I think he's hilarious. The art was good, and the story was fine, but it didn't make me care about what happened next.

Red Hood and the Outlaws I bought because of the Red Hood, who I think is an interesting character. I liked the art, and I thought the dialog between the guys was really good, but the Starfire thing was ridiculous.

I wasn't originally planning on buying All-Star Western, and even thought DC was crazy for doing all these non-superhero comics (the war comics, the vampire stuff, etc.), but again I saw the art on CV and was impressed. I really liked the art and the writing.

Out of all these, I will definitely pick up Batman, Wonder Woman, and All-Star Western for a second issue. I might consider a second issue of Stormwatch, Mr. Terrific, and Batgirl. I would guess, 4 or 5 months down the line, that I might be getting two or three of these total on a monthly basis.

Continuity Questions

One other thing: I was curious how they would deal with the issue of "simplifying" the comics, since an often-stated objective was to get rid of continuity to make it easier for new readers to onboard. (Although I consider this ridiculous in the abstract--comics being comics, they'll be so darn complicated with backstories and interconnections within a year that it will be like they never revamped them.) So when I read them, I was curious to see how much they held the reader's hand and explained everything. Out of the ones I read, I felt Stormwatch did the worst at this--it was too didactic in its explanations. Mr. Terrific and Red Lantern had classic origin story approaches, which both helped and hurt them, in the sense that it took up some pages that didn't advance the plot. Batgirl and Red Hood had some explanation, but I felt like they did a good job moving things along into a new story. This meant that all-new readers might be confused though. Batman didn't do much origin story stuff, but I think even non-comics readers know his basic story, so they didn't need it, and got right into the current story. All-Star Western and Wonder Woman did the best job of handling this, by skipping over the origin and just making a good story. I don't think new readers will care about their origins, or if they do, they will enjoy finding out about them as the storylines progress.

But when I look at all of them, I honestly don't think any of them are so "simple," or perhaps clear is a better word, that a new reader could understand what was going on in them any more easily than they could in any other first story in a new story arc in any comic. So I could see someone picking up the beginning of Spider Island or the first issue of Power Girl or the first issue of the new Daredevil (to give 3 different examples: a new story arc, a new comic under an existing character, and a revamped character in a new comic) just as easily as any of these, which makes me then wonder if they actually needed to do the revamp, or if they could have instead just had every comic start a new major story arc in the same month, and thus not lose all that continuity.

Overall Reflections

So how successful was the New DC for me, as someone who fits their target demographic pretty well? I was reading one DC comic regularly, and now I may be reading 2 or 3. So it's a slight commercial advantage over before, but not huge. And I'm someone who had very little learning curve in buying new issues: I don't read much DC directly, but I've read enough about them all to be able to jump in easily. And I have a high degree of motivation in finding new quality comics.

So if we look at the New DC in terms of commercial success in the long term, I don't know if it's really worth it to them. If we look at it from an artistic vantage point, it's harder for me to say, not having read too much of them before. One of my biggest questions to all of you is, how do this month's DC comics compare to last month's, or a year ago? So not just, are they good, but are they better than before? Is there an improvement in the comics' writing and art?

I would finally point out that of course I did not read all 52 comics, because I am not made out of time or money. But I read a decent percentage--as many or more than their target ideal of someone who normally doesn't read comics--and chose them based on a high level of knowledge of what I might like ahead of time. So chances are, I would not have been all that interested in the other books, based on my knowledge of those characters. The only one I meant to get, but didn't, was Blue Beetle. I just couldn't find a copy of it, and it didn't get a good review, so I didn't spend much extra time tracking it down. So I feel pretty solid in my opinion of what the New DC line is like for someone in my situation (an outsider, curious to see what they're offering): I feel like most non-DC-readers would be like me, in that they wouldn't pick up more than a few new books on a regular basis, based on the quality I saw (of course, everyone would choose different books, based on their taste). I did, to be honest, think they would be of a more consistent high quality, especially in art.

So anyway, I am still very unsure whether they needed to do this revamp the way they did it. I think they could have just started new story arcs instead of starting up the infinitely-confusing question of what continuity did they delete, and what did they keep? But I did pick up a few new comics that I think I will enjoy, so at least to that extent, it was a success for me. My question is, how did it work for other demographics: non-comics readers and longtime DC readers?

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Looking back at 2011's comic book movies

So some of my friends and I decided to go to all of the comic book movies this year, whether we were interested in them or not, as a huge compare-and-contrast exercise.  What movies would we like the most--the ones with the characters we liked best?  The ones with the biggest budgets?  The best directors?  A more mainstream or indie appeal?  Superheroes or other kinds of heroes?  So each time we would go to see them, we would all meet up at a bar afterwards and hash out the movie and compare it to the others.
 
We only went to "hero-themed" comic book movies, not movies like the Smurfs  We went to any movie that had its origin in comics, or that had some kind of significant link to comics.  So for instance we went to Conan and Green Hornet, since they've been in multiple comics series, even though their origin was in another medium.
  
Here's my list of 2011's comic movies, with grades:
A+  X-Men: First Class
A   Green Hornet 
A-  Captain America
A-  Green Lantern  
A-  Priest
B   Cowboys and Aliens
C+  Thor 
C   Conan 
F   Transformers 3
  
I am an X-Man fan.  The very first movie was really good, the second one was good, Last Stand was atrocious, an abomination to comic book movie making.  First Class, in my mind, was a great reboot of the series.  The characters were very well-drawn, the fights were good, the effects were good, the storyline was good.  I had minor quibbles with the reimagination of some of the characters and continuity, Havok's relationship to Cyclops and Emma Frost's age more than anything, but they didn't really bother me.  Magneto and Charles were really great; I loved Shaw (power change aside).  I thought it was sort of lame to kill Darwin so immediately.  The scene with young Magneto at the beginning was a great scene.  Good direction; I think Vaughn's experience with super-hero and non-superhero movies helped.  Overall, I came out of there just having a very good feeling about the movie and where it could go in the future. 
  
Green Hornet was funny and well acted, it was a good role for Seth Rogan.  The fight scenes were fun and exciting.  The storyline was solid.  Michel Gondry is an awesome director, and even if this wasn't in his signature style, I think he added some interesting flavors. A very enjoyable movie as a whole--not super-amazing, but no weak points. 
 
Captain America was good, I was happily surprised by how much I liked Chris Evans in the role after the horrible Fantastic Four movies.  He was good both as pre- and post-super soldier serum.  Good action.  I always like Hugo Weaving, and it was fun to see more minor characters like Arnim Zola and Dum Dum Dugan.  I liked the idea of having the Cosmic Cube in it, but it wasn't really used to its full potential.  Tommy Lee Jones and Hayley Atwell were both good.  I was surprised how much of the "future" we saw at the end; I figured we might only see a second of it after he woke up.  I was a little surprised that the amped up his strength and speed so much, but I can understand it, "peak human" strength and speed in movies is something we see in every action movie, this had to be a little more than that.  I wanted a better teaser scene after the credits than the plain Avengers trailer we got.  Overall, it didn't totally amaze me, but I liked it.  On a side note, my friend who went with me liked it a lot--he's a big Cap fan.  I like Cap, but not to the degree he does, and he felt it really fulfilled his desires for a Cap movie.  Workman-like directing.
 
I also liked Green Lantern quite a bit.  I know this runs against the majority feeling.  I don't read Green Lantern myself, so any changes in characters and continuity didn't bother me, and I think that's part of what bothers a lot of fans.  I liked Ryan Reynolds.  Blake Lively was decent.  I liked all the other lanterns, especially Sinestro.  Overall I thought all the character-development and basic backgrounding/context stuff was well done.  I thought the effects were good.  I could have lived without Hector Hammond, and the fight at the end was over way too quick (too powerful of an enemy for a newbie to defeat), and I thought Sinestro went over to the "yellow side" too easily.  But overall I enjoyed it, it was an enthusiastic, energetic movie, with standard action movie directing. 
 
Priest, which was based on a Korean graphic novel, was something I knew almost nothing about ahead of time.  It had nice stylistic directing, good action movie-level acting, and excellent fight scenes.  The vampires were a little boring in conception and visualization.  Basically it was a very straightforward, efficient, compact action/suspense movie, and I was very pleasantly surprised. 
 
I was looking forward to Cowboys and Aliens.  I haven't read the comic, but I thought the previews looked good, the actors are all great--Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell--and Jon Favreau did a great job with Iron Man.  I liked the storyline, and the acting was good, but it ended up being a bit of a traditional, generic movie in the end, less unique than its genre mash-up would imply.  Everyone starts off fighting and comes togethers predictably.  The aliens were really boring--this was the biggest problem.  If they were more unique/scary, it would have added a lot to the movie.  So overall, I thought it was fine, but I wouldn't bother watching it again. 
 
Thor really disappointed me.  I like Thor--Simonson's run is one of my favorite in all of comicdom--but the movie was really lame.  I felt like nothing happened, and I had no reason to care about his character.  He was annoying and arrogant without positive qualities in Asgard, on Earth he was boring and characterless, and then it was over.  Asgard as a city didn't impress me.  The giants, etc. didn't impress me as bad guys.  All the Asgardian armor looked totally plastic, which is a big problem in a lot of these hero movies now--the new Superman costume has some of the same obvious plastic stuff.  I just don't get why they don't use real metal, or at least make it look much mor eliek metal, it can't be that hard.  Natalie Portman, who I like a lot, phoned this role in like never before.  The Hawkeye cameo was pointless.  Really everything that happened on Earth was boring.  The only good part of the movie was the Destroyer--it looked good and seemed very formidable on screen.  Actually, Loki was also very good, I liked him a lot.  Branagh's directing was ponderous as usual.  Overall, I think they did a real disservice to the character.  If it wasn't for the Avengers movie coming out, I'd say they ought to reboot it right away, like they did with the Hulk (although I don't think the rebooted Hulk was any good either).  I have a hard time pointing out real specific problems, it was just so incredibly boring. 
 
Conan was basically what you'd expect.  The action was fine.  The new actor was fine, although lacking Arnold's charisma.  The movie had more than a few plot holes.  It was surprisingly misogynistic, in the tradition of the originals, really.  I'm not surprised to see that kind of "let's shut up the main female protagonist by tying her up and stuffing a rag in her mouth" in movies from the 80s, but I really wouldn't have thought that kind of thing would fly now.  Rose McGowan was weirdly out of place, visually.  They just seemed to use some different kind of makeup or costuming or lighting on her, she looked very contemporary, both as a kid and as an adult, in a way that didn' fit in with everything else.  I can't really explain it, she just stuck out.  She also should have used more magic.  The sand creatures were a really awesome monster/fight scene.  Ron Perlman and Stephen Lang were good in their roles.  Overall, it was what it was.  I do give it props for being a full-blooded old-school sword and sorcery movie though; it reminded me a lot of the feel of Beast Master as well as the original Conan.
 
Transfomers was a horrid piece of junk.  I went in having direly hated the first two, but based on reviews here and elsewhere, I had heard that at least this one wasn't as bad as number two.  Unfortunately, I disagree, it was just terrible.  Awful acting, and stunningly bad plot holes and directing.  The effects are great, sure.  But my basic feeling is, the whole point of a Transformers movie is the Transformers themselves, and these movies feel like they are really about the people--they seem to have 60-70% of the screen time.  And the characters that the people play are just amazing worthless.  The new girlfriend is like a piece of cardboard.  What I like, and what I think most people like, about the Transformers is two things: their personalities, and the fact that they transform.  In all these movies, their personalities are not always the same as standard interpretations, and the things they transform into are different, often for no reason, so it's hard to care.  Plus, it's hard to even tell them apart when they're robots.  Roger Ebert did a great analysis of this.  (for Revenge of the Fallen).  On the bright side, at least all the totally racist stuff from the first two movies is finally cut.  Basically, I think they just have no respect for their subject; I think someone said, let's make some Transformers movies, because they're something people will like from when they were kids.  And then (in my imagination) Michale Bay said, OK, but I hate them, so lets remove everything interesting about them and make it as generic as possible so I can make it for as wide an audience as possible.  Basically the opposite of Peter Jackson's approach to the Lord of the Rings--instead of making the fans happy first, and showing everyone else what is so great about the subject, they're all about making everyone else happy (?) first, then throwing a bone or two to fans.  I'm not a fan of Bay in general, but these are just despicable.  I just think these movies are some of the worst things ever perpetrated on the cinema.  

And that is what I thought of the 2011 comic book movies!

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