Sunday, February 19, 2017

Marvel Zombies Supreme

Title: Marvel Zombies Supreme

ISBN: 9780785151685
Price: $16.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2012
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Writer: Frank Marraffino
Collects: Marvel Zombies Supreme #1-5

Rating: 2.5/5

The Squadron Supreme, don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them, a lot of people have never heard of them. As far as I know they haven’t played much of a part in the Marvel Universe. Technically, they don’t play much of role in Marvel Zombies Supreme either considering these are clones of the superheroes. All you need to know is they’re an alternate universe version of the Avengers (because Marvel just loves their alternate universes) that spent a little bit of time in the Marvel Universe proper (Earth-616) before going back to their universe, taking over the United States of America for what they believed were good reasons, and then having to be deposed for becoming the tyrants they once fought against. They were essentially Marvel’s version of DC’s Justice League, with the heroes of the Squadron Supreme being based on heroes in the Justice League. Super strong flyer Hyperion is Superman, superfast runner Whizzer is the Flash, gadget loving Nighthawk is Batman, and Doctor Spectrum, who can create constructs out of light, is based on Wonder Woman, or maybe Green Lantern, yeah, probably Green Lantern. That kind of means that when you’re reading through this edition to the Marvel Zombies storyline you’re reading about a zombified Justice League, and let’s face it, each of us has wanted to see Superman brought down a peg at one time or another. Previously all we’ve had is him crying while he snaps General Zod’s neck in Man of Steel, kind of funny but not quite enough. Seeing him experience the never ending hunger of being a zombie though? Perfect.

This installment of the Marvel Zombie line brings us back to the universe we all know and love, the universe we’re used to otherwise known as Earth-616 (I know, it gets hard to follow sometimes). The P.E.G.A.S.U.S. Research Facility, or the Potential Energy Group and Alternate Sources for the United States, has gone quiet after someone hit a panic button and put the facility on lockdown. Because of this, Guardsman Alpha Team has been sent in with a little bit of back up in the form of Battlestar.

They are able to break inside with help from tech savvy team member Mainframe and head inside to find the place seemingly abandoned, but further exploration uncovers a small group of scientists hiding inside a locked off room. It doesn’t take long for the rescue team to discover why this small group is all that’s left, a zombified Squadron Supreme has taken over the facility, not the actual Squadron, but a version cloned from cells collected during their brief stay in our dimension. Now they hunger for the flesh of the living, and they’ll do anything to keep the meals coming. When they break into the small room the scientists are holed up in, they make quick work of the quivering researchers and turn their attention toward Guardsman Alpha Team and the teams’ superhero guardian.

Battlestar is able to get a few of the team out before the zombified Squadron make quick work of them but many are unfortunately slaughtered before he’s able to act. Things are even worse than they seem as not only is Squadron member Nuke able to escape the facility using the facility’s nuclear tunnels, but Hyperion is able to use stolen blueprints to find a way out as well. Everything seems lost but there’s still a chance in the form of a supposedly dead Avenger that was made of pure energy, the hero Jack of Hearts.

It’s been a little bit since I delved into the world of the Marvel Zombies, not that I was sick of them or anything, I love Marvel Zombies, just got sidetracked. Reading Marvel Zombies Supreme I’m reminded why I enjoy the series so much. It’s not the best to come out of the storyline, but it’s enjoyable none the less. I thought it was smart on Marvel’s part to come up with an entirely new story instead of keeping with the original zombies or their world. This one takes place entirely in the normal 616 universe, and the zombies here have nothing to do with the original Marvel Zombies. The Squadron Supreme zombies were created on Earth-616 from cloned cells in an experiment that went wrong.

I don’t want to give away everything but I’ll just say that Jack of Hearts reanimation has something to do with it. It gave a refreshing air to the Marvel Zombies by having something that had nothing to do with the original Marvel Zombie world take center stage, and it was a good move on Marvel’s part to take the series in a new direction.

I think the biggest problem was in using the Squadron Supreme as the comic’s villains. The story isn’t bad at all, as I stated, I loved that they took the series in a whole new direction and didn’t stick to the original Marvel Zombies. I enjoyed what they did by having the P.E.G.A.S.U.S. facility over run with zombies and a mostly human team having to get the situation under control rather than a group of superheroes. It was just that the Squadron has always seemed kind of boring on their own. Seeing them try to enforce their will in their own universe was interesting for their miniseries run as it was the story of a group of superheroes enforcing their will for what they believe to be altruistic reasons and ultimately subcoming to the power they’ve taken, but for the most part they’re just DC character knockoffs that I’ve never been able to get into. Seeing them as zombies did add a little extra to them, but they still felt like DC knockoffs, just undead ones.

I liked that they didn’t use mainstream Marvel characters as zombies since that’s what we’ve had for a while now, but there are a lot of other heroes and villains they could have chosen to showcase as the undead, even minor ones that have never had much of a part would have worked better than the Squadron Supreme. Battlestar was a good edition though. He’s not as well-known as many other heroes, but being Captian America’s protégé he’s the perfect person to step into a role that Cap would have worked great in himself. Plus, with our team trying to contain the zombies being comprised of regular humans (and one robot) it made sense to have someone who wasn’t a superpower himself.

It would have cheapened the team to have someone that didn’t really need them there which is why I’m not sure the addition of Jack of Hearts worked out so well. I’ve always loved Jack and his attempts to prove he can be the hero everyone expects him to be, but he’s such a powerhouse that once he came into play I had to ask myself “Why is anyone else even wasting their time when Jack can just blast the zombies away.”

I’d prefer to see what a team of normal people could do to handle the situation. They were able to balance it a bit by having Jack be a mess when he’s first woken and needing the Guardsman team leader to bring him back to sanity, but once he’s up and running no one else is needed. How he plays into the creation of the Squadron zombies was interesting, just would have preferred seeing the regular team handle the zombies themselves.

The artwork isn’t bad in the slightest, in fact it’s very good, it’s just kind of bland for what I’ve gotten used to with Marvel Zombies. It’s much more in line with artwork from many other Marvel titles instead of being something unique like most of the other Marvel Zombie stories. Most of the other ones have taken their artwork to a different level so that it stood out from everything else while this seemed to fall in line. That being said, it’s not in the slightest bad work and showcases some of the talent Marvel has in their artists, it simply doesn’t stand out.

Where they definitely succeeded was in making sure the art was at least more adult themed. There’s no holding back as the blood and guts fly. Heads explode, people are ripped apart, and blood flows freely. I would think that this may be the end of the Marvel Zombies titles. We'll see.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Marvel Zombies Destroy!

Title: Marvel Zombies Destroy!

ISBN: 9780785163855
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2013
Artist: Mirco Pierfederici, Al Barrionuevo
Writer: Frank Marraffino, Peter David
Collects: Marvel Zombies Destroy! #1-5

Rating: 3/5

My initial reaction to this book was to make a joke about the fact that they have now made so many Marvel Zombies comics that they decided to quit numbering them, but looking at that Wikipedia page, I see this is hardly the first Marvel Zombies-branded book to be published sans a number (That would be their third outing, Dead Days, and Destroy! was also preceded by the non-numbered Return, Evil Evolution and Supreme).

This five-issue, 2012 miniseries seems to follow Marvel Zombies 5 rather closely in that it features Howard The Duck fighting zombies in an alternate dimension, but it is not the work of Marvel Zombies 3-5 scribe Fred Van Lente; rather this miniseries rather unusually has two different writers, with a Frank Marraffino (Marvel Zombies Supreme) writing the first two issues, and veteran writer Peter David taking over for the final three issues. The unusual change seems to suggest a problem of some kind, or at least a story behind it, but perhaps it was a schedule thing as much as anything else; there's a little editorial in the back by editor Jake Thomas that mentions the difficulties the team went through in getting it out, and how the project was a dream come true for him, and how heavily involved he was.

The art team is more stable, but it still required a fill-in artist, which is, again, pretty unusual in a miniseries, and the fill-in falls on issue #3, which is right where the writers change. A Mirco Pierfederici draws all of the issues save for #3, which is penciled by Al Barrionuevo and inked by Rick Magyar. It's worth noting that the change isn't terribly disruptive; I wouldn't have noticed a change in either writer or artist while reading if I hadn't read the credits page first.

I think that says less about the styles and skills of the creators than the fact that they were working on a franchise with such specific sensibilities. Does it have zombies in it? Are there a lot of jokes, a dark sense of humor and a great deal of horror? Okay, fine, it's Marvel Zombies then. Like a few other offerings to date, this one doesn't really feature the "real" Marvel Zombies, the ones from that alternate dimension first introduced by Mark Millar which was basically just the Marvel Universe if all the superheroes had turned into zombies, but it does feature plenty of zombified Marvel superheroes (from another alternate dimension full of zombies), and cast is split between Golden Age characters and the most obscure Marvels this side of Woodgod. Howard the Duck gets top bill (Ha! Bill!), and Dum Dum Dugan is the next biggest star, if that tells you anything about the cast.

Howard, Agent of ARMOR, recruits Dum Dum, Agent of SHIELD, to be a part of his crack strike force nicknamed "Ducky's Dozen." It appears that ARMOR, the acronym for government agency Alternate Reality Monitoring and Operationl Response, has discovered a reality where the Nazis won World War II (like DC's pre-Crisis Earth-X, then), and they accomplished this by becoming zombies. Worse yet, the Nazi zombies are preparing to invade the Marvel Universe, unless Howard's team can journey there first and wreck their mode of conveyance. Dugan has been recruited specifically for his Nazi-fighting expertise, but he suspects there's some other reason Howard wants him along and isn't telling him...and he's right!

As for The Dozen, they're a huge group of totally awesome-weirdos, only a few of whom I had ever even heard of, or could tell you much of anything about: Battlestar, Blazing Skull, Breeze Barton, Red Raven, Dragoon, Dynaman, Eternal Brain, Flexo, Gur and Taxi Taylor. How many of these guys are super-old, super-obscure characters, and how many were invented specifically to be killed off in this series? There's only one way to find out, and it's a good 15 minutes of Wikipedia-ing fun!
Spoiler alert: 3/4th of them don't make it back home, but somehow I doubt some of these deaths will stick, given the tongue-in-cheek nature of the entire series.

The dozen heroes journey into Nazi zombie-controlled territory and attempt to fight their way up a Mount Rushmore-style Nazi base with the heads of Hate-Monger, Zola, Red Skull and Baron Von Stucker, and they immediately find unexpected heavy resistance in the form of the zombified, Nazi-fied Invaders. And then they get some unexpected assistance from some lady superheroes going by the name "The Sufragists," and lead by Miss America, who has picked up this world's fallen Captain America's shield and legacy.

As the story progresses, new unlikely allies and unlikely enemies join the fray, with Loki siding with Earth-616's good guys and a zombified Thor and the rest of a zombified Asgard siding with the Nazis whose ancestors used to worship them.

There's a nicely strange aura about the entire book, owing in large part to its big, odd-ball cast, almost all of whom are completely disposable on account of their being either created specifically for this book, so rarely seen it's hard to imagine they would be missed (I had no idea Red Raven was even still alive to be killed!) or alternate reality characters, in which case anything goes, as we've got our own perfectly good Thor or Zola or whoever back in the "real" Marvel Universe.

Some gags work a lot better than others. I thought the riffs on Namor's catch-phrase didn't really work, as they were coming from Namor—well, a Namor—himself, but I did sort of love the armband worn by Dum Dum's alternate dimension, Nazi zombie doppelganger:
Yes, that's a handlebar mustache where the swastika should be and, yes, they did think to rename him Dead Dead Dugan, which is the title of this particular issue's story.

Marvel Zombies Destroy! certainly has its moments and, I think, more moments than many of the other Marvel Zombies efforts. It appears that there's still some life in this franchise after all.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Marvel Zombies 5

Title: Marvel Zombies 5

ISBN: 9780785147442
Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2011
Artist: Kano, Felix Ruiz, Fernando Blanco
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Collects: Marvel Zombies 5 #1-5

Rating: 3/5

Marvel Zombies volume 5 continues the saga of saving the multiverse from many strains of the virus that causes a zombie apocalypse. Each world has it’s own strain of the virus, which in turn, creates it’s own very unique set of zombies with slightly different traits.

The team charged with finding blood samples of each zombie strain consists of Machine Man, Howard the Duck, and a new recruit from one of the worlds they visit, Jacali Kane (Quick Draw).

Honestly, this story started bring the Marvel Zombies world back into what I consider “Worth” reading. Volumes 3 and 4 were starting to get a little dicey. Bringing Howard the Duck in seemed to have solidified the story for me. How a duck can do that for me, I have no idea.

Essentially, the goal is to get the strains of each virus so Morbius (vampire) can find a cure.

The art was, and always has been solid. I love zombie art, so I’m probably biased, but I really felt Michael Kaluta and Kano did a great job with the illustrations and penciling.

It wasn’t the most profound story or even the best Marvel Zombies story I’ve read, but it was a solid one. I would have liked to have seen some of our favorite Avengers or X-Men zombies come back, but alas, that wasn’t in the cards for this book. The star of this book was Howard the Duck, and I’m not at all ashamed to admit it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Marvel Zombies 2

Title: Marvel Zombies 2

ISBN: 9780785125464
Price: $15.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2014
Artist: Sean Philips
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Collects: Marvel Zombies 2 #1-5

Rating: 3.5/5

Set in the distant future after an outbreak of zombie-sims has broken out…(sounds familiar?)

The Marvel zombies have eaten everything and are now in starvation mode. Eating each other isn’t an option. Which is like eating old moldy skin. The heroes have come to the conclusion that some ingenuity is in order to find some new eating ground. If a few of them get slaughtered in the meantime due to flared tempers then so be it!

What instantly attracted me to this series was its high level of absurdity. It’s part drama, part action that is indirectly loaded with comedy. To summarize it a bit better. The heroes turned zombies are caught between being friend and foe. Up to this point foe, as the hunger as they call it is unstoppable. This means they have to eat everything. Though still with a conscious they fight between there former lives as protectors and heroes. This new version of themselves which is one of the undead feel no pain and still is able to use its powers on command. A sliced arm, half a head, a missing leg or even being squished to death is secondary to the hunger they have. It seems the only real way to exterminate them is by being pummeled into mush. Half of a body, serves as a slight inconvenience that is rectified by re-instating the shell with metal parts.

So these heroes travel across the galaxy in search of life (to eat). They come upon earth and Black panthers lair only to be outwitted by an electronic force field. Well, things seem to change just about every page. There living, there dead, there reinstated, there exterminated………the irony of lunacy is not hard to see. Most of the discussions involve the need to eat people and somewhere in the mix even a bit of compassion and friendship. This is great stuff folks. Mainly because it breaks “all” the rules and invents its own. I found it highly entertaining, highly graphic and filled with all the great art work that your used to seeing. The only catch though is much of that is exposed body parts, decapitations, gut spilling, dismembered limbs and well …you get the drift.

Add to that the concept that the folks locally are trying to get the heroes to teleport to another dimension so they can eat others instead of them. Then add in the vampire like drama of man vs monster and a unquenchable hunger that some of them are convinced can be overcome. This collection of series #2 which collects #1-#5 says farewell to a few regulars and perhaps an appearance or 2 of some thought to be dead for good. What gives?…when does the final mean final?

I’ve come to realize that “Marvel Zombies” is a world in its own that throws everything you know out the window. The book has some great one pager illustrations in addition to the cover art that is featured at the end of the book. Then for reference you get the original covers that were zombified and made anew into the gory haunting ones you see before you. Giant man seems to be running the show this round and Wolverine appears to take a backseat with very few lines being spoken.

Other heroes switch between hero and villain so fast you don’t know heads from tails. Being a horror fan and comic book fan …I could get used to this blasphemous interpretation of the marvel world. This issue had me hooked from start to finish….. if you haven’t gotten on board then your left behind.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Marvel Zombies

Title: Marvel Zombies

ISBN: 9780785120148
Price: $15.99
Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2014
Artist: Sean Philips
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Collects: Marvel Zombies #1-5

Rating: 3.5/5

Having been in our consciousness for so long now, zombies have stopped scaring us. These single-minded, hulking undead creatures – their very flesh rotting so badly that it keeps falling off – are now best presented as either a nostalgia retread (Dawn of the Dead) or plain-out satire (Shaun of the Dead). It’s hard to make a serious-minded zombie piece any more – regardless of the medium.

Which is precisely why Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead (Image Comics, 2003) was such a standout. In that graphic novel, Kirkman imagined a world where zombies overwhelmingly outnumber humans. A small set of characters stick together and in the face of overwhelming odds try to escape the backwaters and make their way to Atlanta in order to survive. Laced with the basics of a great soap opera and couched in a vibe of post-apocalyptic dread, The Walking Dead was a high-profile success for its creators and ostensibly the reason Kirkman was invited to write a romp involving zombies and the beloved characters from the Marvel Comics Universe.

Marvel Zombies is a story set in a parallel universe, which is really an excuse for writers to indulge in some creative storytelling without regard to legacies, both emotional and financial. It’s a perfect landscape for bloodletting, a fact which Kirkman exploits to his advantage. Kirkman also wisely eschews trying to repeat his previous success with a serious storyline. He injects life into Marvel Zombies primarily by infusing it with so much irreverent gore that all of it becomes funny.

In the story, an unidentified carrier has spread an infection that converts everyone into a zombie. Most of the Marvel superheroes and villains are now zombies. There are no humans in sight, most probably devoured by the zombies. Unlike most undead you see in popular literature, these Marvel zombies have a range of emotions and can talk… a lot.

They get depressed, bicker, fight among themselves, threaten each other, trash talk their opponents and make detailed medium-range plans. All of this centers around their next meal – which consists of anything living they can find.

In the startling opening sequence of the novel, Magneto, a survivor of the plague is chased by a number of Marvel Zombies, including Captain America, Spider-man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Giant Man, Thor and Wolverine. Powerful as he is, the master of magnetism finally succumbs to a bite on his neck from the Wasp. And as he goes down, the former superheroes descend on his body in a feeding frenzy. “I hope you choke on me,” cries Magneto the last time you see him.

Illustrator Sean Phillips renders the zombies with limp and unfinished lines, displaying them as decaying and physically unraveling. His zombies have glazed white eyes and sharp knitted fangs, their mouths perennially caked with blood. The scenes of carnage are depicted in panels soaked in red and black. It’s roundly gross and full of pulpy humor.

During a fierce battle with a potential meal, Iron Man is ripped into half and requests a fellow zombie to throw his torso back in the fray so he can grab a bite. Spider-man agonizes over how he had to consume his wife and aunt to curb his cravings. He also gets his leg ripped and has to ask Luke Cage to carry him around. Captain America has his own shield thrown at him and gets top of his head neatly sliced. In a later battle, his exposed gray matter is exploited by his archenemy Red Skull.

Kirkman particularly has savage fun with Bruce Banner. Banner transforms himself into the Hulk whenever he is angry, which here happens whenever he is hungry. This is pretty much all of the time. But after the Hulk has fed, the anger settles and Banner returns. This presents a problem, because the large portions eaten by Hulk no longer fit into Banner’s stomach. The stomach bursts open. And then things get really gruesome.

Kirkman finds new ways of tearing down mighty superhumans, showing us how they've lost all sense of heroism and indeed humanity itself. It's a recurring theme in a lot of literature: the best can turn evil in the worst of circumstances.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

#CBC4C 2016 and beyond!

So, 2016 had a lot of bumps along the way to the end. In the end, we made it through. We're now at just over $5600 total donations to the American Cancer Society since we began, and I consider that a big WIN!

Some of the difficulties we faced over the past year have made a significant impact on our ability to keep going at the pace I would prefer. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to attend NW Comic Fest and EUCON where we had been provided tables. This cut-down our local visibility and ability to generate some additional resources and donations. Because of this, I haven't been able to provide the level of service I would prefer.

With the changes in eBay donation system, it has become bothersome to work with them; but I'm unable to see an alternative that would provide as much visibility as eBay does. We are looking to finding an alternative forum for auctions if eBay does not start making the necessary changes that they lost due to the split with PayPal. Before 2016, we were able to manually pay the donations due to the American Cancer Society once all the auctions had been paid for. Now, we have to wait 21 days after the auctions have closed before the money is removed from our PayPal account and the donations are made. This also creates a massive amount of emails that are unnecessary, where before there was a single email with the total donation amount on it.

2016 had a huge impact on everyone's lives, and that's why I feel that 2017 is going to be better!

I'm not sure if I will be attending Wizard World Portland this year due to the timing, finances and all the issues that have come out about the Wizard World promotion. I know that CBC4C contributing artists Randy Emberlin, Keith Tucker and Jason Metcalf are all scheduled to attend, and I would love to be there to touch base with them and support them. Going in 2016 was kind of a whim decision. If I go, it will probably be the same this year.

We're going to have a new event beginning in 2017 called Northwest Comic Con. It'll be in Tillamook, Oregon and I love going to the coast! I've already connected with the promoter and have secured media passes. The list of artists attending is growing, and I look forward to seeing how this ends up.

I continue to be on-the-fence about going back to Emerald City Comic Con this year. While it is a wonderful event, it just seems too big for my tastes. I remember my first ECCC back in 2006 when it was in an exhibition hall at Qwest Field. This was my first time meeting people like James O'Barr and Adam Hughes. Such a wonderful experience. The last few years that I've attended were fun, but tiring and dreadfully packed with too many people. Also, I've found that I don't have time to go to any of the panels that I used to enjoy.

Much like Wizard World, going to ECCC was a whim choice, and may be again this year. The best part is that I have lodging available just up in Bothel, Washington. The bad part is that I don't look forward to the possibility of driving in Seattle, We'll see what happens.

Rose City Comic Con is a must go event! I have been able to attend every year, and I enjoy it every time. The past 2 years, I have been able to connect with some wonderful artists such as Chrissie Zullo, Keith Tucker, Ron Randall, Jeff Parker and Gary Martin. Last year, comic book grading service CBCS also donated 10 of their services to us that really bumped our donations up last year.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will be attending RCCC in 2017.

While I was unable to attend EUCON in 2016, I'm looking forward to the possibility for 2017. Their first year was electric, and I heard that the same can be send for year 2.

I'm still trying to determine when in 2017 we will be holding the auctions. 2016 started rough with several obstacles in our path so we weren't able to begin until later. I'm hoping for at least 4 good, solid series of auctions in 2017. I defiantly want to hit the first weekend in May to begin a series, to coincide with Free Comic Book Day festivities. Obviously there will be our final series for the year in December. When I make the final decisions, I will make sure to post it on our FB page.

I was hoping to provide some great surprise news before posting this, but I am still waiting on confirmations from a few new artists. I can say that at the beginning of the new year, I will be reaching out to artists who have overdue covers, and making an all-call for new artists to join our ranks and wear the below badge proudly:

To close, just let me say that 2016 went well for CBC4C, and I hope we can do just as well... or even better... in 2017.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us this far, and continue to support our efforts. Without you, this would not be possible.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

PGX Comics - My Recent Experience

At the end of February or the beginning of March 2016, I learned that PGX was offering a special Stan Lee signing and grading. Since I don't get the chance to actually go to events where Stan Lee is scheduled to be, and I hate standing in lines for as long as those lines usually take, I thought I would jump at this opportunity... especially since the news broke that he was not going to be doing events for much longer.

So I picked my comic book to have signed by Stan, which happens to be the comic that brought me into reading and collecting in the first place: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #50.

I know that Stan Lee didn't really have anything to do with the writing, art or editing of this issue or series, but it was Marvel and at that time of course carried his name on the title page. As my loyal readers already know, it was last year at Rose City Comic Con that I had this same issue signed by writer Larry Hama.

With the deadline approaching, I made sure I had my paperwork completed correctly so that they would also certify my Larry Hama signature, and sent it off to make the deadline.

At this point, please allow me to explain something clearly so that you understand the rest of this post. PGX has a FIRM deadline posted to get your submissions for the Stan Lee signing. The definition of the word DEADLINE is the latest time or date by which something should be completed. This would suggest that there was already a scheduled date that PGX had lined-up for their signing event.

On March 25, I emailed PGX to see when the signing was going to take place so that I would have a reasonable expectation when I should receive my precious copy of G.I. Joe #50. In April I tried contacting them through their website and was informed that there had not yet been a firm date scheduled for the signing. Later, I was informed that it wouldn't be until September that they would actually be able to have Stan Lee sign. I figured that since PGX is located in Oregon, they would be taking advantage of his visit to Rose City Comic Con. I decided to wait.

After RCCC had passed, I emailed again asking when I could expect my book back. I emailed again on October 28 and November 18, each time asking for some response via email so I would have something documented. In the November 18th email, I even asked if I would be receiving a discount considering they've had my book since March. (Keep that statement in mind for later.) I received 2 phone calls during this time from one of their representatives; I believe his name was "Daniel" even though the person I have been emailing was "Aaron Sasson". "Daniel" explained that there have been several attempts to get the signing done, but that "the people around him want too much money" and that created a problem for them to be able to get anything signed. In the first conversation I had with "Daniel", he expressed that they were going to make a few attempts in October. In the call I received in November, he explained that they had a chance at another event, with about a 95% certainty that they would be able to get the signing because their witness was a "close, personal friend of Stan". He also said that I would be receiving a reduced fee because of all the problems. I decided to let this ride for one last time, but told him that if they failed to have it signed that I wanted my book back.

On December 8, I emailed again asking when I should expect to receive my book. On the 9th, I received a reply stating "We will be shipping your Stan Lee signed book out today or tomorrow. My apologies for the delay."

Later that day, I received a voicemail from PGX stating that there was a problem when they attempted to charge my credit card. I connected with my bank and made sure the charge would go through and let them know. As I am writing this part of my post, it is December 11, 2016 and they have not yet charged my credit card nor have they provided me with the shipping details.

When I completed the paperwork for this back in March, the total was going to run $171.50. When I received the email stating how much they were going to charge me, I was informed $161.50. With all the hassles I have been through over the better part of a year, they feel that my inconvenience is only worth $10?!?

The biggest reason I have used PGX in the past is because they had a more reliable turnaround time, were less expensive than CGC, and I kind of wanted to support a local company. When I used their services between 2004 - 2006, I was only let down because people weren't wanting to readily accept a PGX grading.

After my experiences with CBCS last year, I will make sure that I NEVER use PGX again, and I highly recommend that you never even consider using them either.

On December 13th, I received an email from PGX with the shipping information. It stated that they shipped via USPS Priority. Since they're just about 70 miles away from me, USPS should be able to deliver in 1 day.

December 14th: No activity on the tracking #. Simply states "Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS, USPS Awaiting Item".

December 15 - 18: Same as December 14th. No response from PGX when I asked them for information and scans.

December 19: I received an email stating that the shipping serrvice had changed and provided a new tracking # via FedEx.

December 20: I finally received my book back! Huge F-ing box! Way more than it needed to be. Last year, when I received comics back from CBCS, the box was the same size... but it also contained 10 graded comic books.

9.2 and "authenticated" with both Larry Hama and Stan Lee's autograph! The fact that I have had this specific issue for 30 years and it's in 9.2 condition... I feel pretty good about that part.

The takeaway from all this? Don't use PGX and if you want to get someones autograph, go get it yourself!