Mike Sterling manages Ralph's Comic Shop in Ventura, California, and writes a daily blog devoted to the strangest of the material he sifts through, Progressive Ruin. The blog's funniest feature, in my opinion, is the monthly string of catalog scans, with commentary, entitled The End of Civilization.

Diamond Previews is a monthly catalog published by Diamond Comics, suggested for comic shop owners to stock their wares from...or for geeks to order from directly, if they can afford it. Much of the unbelievable product inside is so overpriced, you have to wonder...are there nerds out there who are that rich? (The answer is yes: some nerds can become very rich.)

The saga began on January 26, 2005, when Mike was looking through the aforementioned catalog and found the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Stake Prop Replica with Satin-Lined Case. $100 for what amounted to a wooden stick. "So help me," wrote Mike, "if I find out that you've bought this, I'm going to go to your house and punch you."

In the next month's Previews he found something else bizarre enough to scan...and then the next month, more and more....and six years later, more and more still. The End of Civilizations used to be easily accessible through the blog's own search tags until Mike switched weblog programs; now with the exception of the few most recent, entire years' worth of Civs are buried with everything else under the "Uncategorized" tag. Mike doesn't have the time or the will to manually realign everything.

It was up to me and an 8-hour archive binge to resurrect the funniest comments and compile them into one spot. From this point, it's all Mike. Now bear witness to the End of Civilization:

p. 405 – Star Trek The Next Generation Deluxe Shirts:

Kid Chris asked if he could dress like this for work. I told him if he did, he’d have to stand outside and wave at passing cars. Mostly so I wouldn’t have to look at him.

Also, if you get one of these, don’t wear it to jury duty. I mean, honestly.


p. 356 – Star Wars Darth Vader Robotic Arm:

It’s not a statue, but an arm you can move around with built-in controls and, you know, pick up stuff. Lightweight stuff. Presumably unable to project the Dark Side of the Force to choke lippy underlings.

Will make a nice Life Day gift for the fans of Darth Vader’s arm in your life.


p. 424 – Star Trek Retro Cloth Scotty Figure:

What the hell is Scotty doing? “Och, Capt’n, I’ve got descriptive text crawlin’ up me pants! My disco moves canna stop ‘em!”


p. 410 – Watchmen Be@rbricks 3-Pack:

Oh, dear…you may wish to avert your eyes:

Good God in heaven. Dig this Comedian:

That’s like the worst Mouseketeer ever.


p. 438 – Wolverine Enameled Cufflinks:

“On those rare occasions when Logan, the X-Man better-known as Wolverine, needs to dress up for a formal event, he uses these cufflinks to give his dress shirt that extra touch.”

So Wolverine wears cufflinks…with his own face on them? Does anyone else do this? I mean, aside from Donald Trump?


p. 501 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Chainsaw Prop Replica:

“Own an authentic replica of Leatherface’s infamous tool of terror! This highly-detailed and unique piece is movie-accurate and limited to 500 pieces worldwide. No fan of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will want to miss this!”

For only $214.99, now you too can make every single person you know…very, very nervous.


p. 363 – Great Figures in History: Mother Teresa & Nelson Mandela GNs:

I’m not ready for the adventures of Superdeformed Pokemon Teresa. Though I am curious if Nelson ever finds all the Dragonballs.


p. 316 – The World of Warcraft Guide to Winning at Life SC:

“Step 1: Turn off the World of Warcraft game, go outside.”


p. 354 – Disneystrology HC:

“Disneystrology combines astrology, numerology, and the magic of movies to help readers understand their own personalities.”

How can so much hard science be contained in only 48 pages?


p. 528 – Elvis Talking Giant Pez:

“No mere PEZ dispensers, these giant Elvis PEZ dispensers capture the King of Rock’n'Roll with his 70's style, complete with voice clips! The regular edition features 30 seconds of sound clips from the Elvis Collection, while the Limited Edition has 2 full minutes of song clips – including ‘The Wonder of You,’ ‘An American Trilogy,’ and more….”

That’s it. It’s official. Science has gone too far, too far.


p. 505 – Doctor Who Tardis Talking Ice Bucket:

“The Doctor thinks you’re drinking too much. Put the bottle back in the Tardis, please. No, no…leave the bottle open. Thank you.”


p. 355 – Jailbait Zombie SC:

“To kill an army of zombies run by gangsters, the vampire detective must team up with a precocious teen with clairvoyant powers. But, she demands something big in return: she wants to be undead, too!”

That’s too much High Concept. TOO MUCH.


p. 529 – Hulk board games:

I can’t decide which is my favorite…the “Hulk Smash” board game:

“Smash your way through a cityscape, Hulk-style, in this Make ‘em, Move ‘em, and Mash ‘em constructive (and destructive) board game!”

The “Operation Hulk” board game:

“Poor Hulk is sick, so you better operate quick! Combining classic Operation game play with the Incredible Hulk, this board game features light-up and ‘roaring’ effects.”

But I think it has to be the "Don’t Wake Hulk” board game:

…if only because you apparently play various Marvel Super-Heroes doing their damnedest not to stir the wrath of a groggy Hulk from his mid-afternoon nap.


p. 340 – Barbie Harley Davidson Doll:

There now exists official Barbie-sized “pink faux leather chaps.” No longer do I have to make my own!


p. 346 – Charlie’s Angels Kelly Doll Gift Set:

“Angels, now that you’ve donned your disguises, it’s time for you to begin your undercover mission…to capture Roman Polanski!

“You got it, Charlie!”


p. 437 – Barbie Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds Doll:

I’m not sure what I can add to that picture. It’s Barbie…with black birds swarming her, threatening to peck out her perfect eyes and rip out her hair for their nests. This is both hysterical and absolutely terrifying and will never, ever know the touch of a child.


p. 372 – Mr. Sinister Statue:

Man, this guy’s totally hogging the dance floor. “‘Ain’t no mountain high enough?’ Ain’t no dance floor big enough!” (Joke courtesy late ’80s Dennis Miller.)


p. 460 – Naruto Pakkun Plush Bag:

“Say, I’m looking for a snazzy new handbag. Watcha got?”

“Well, I have this bag that looks like a decapitated dog’s head.”

“Does the dog look sad about being decapitated?”

“Well, certainly.”

“You, sir, have a sale.”


p. 450 – The Cactus Friends: Polpettinia Vinyl Figure:

I don’t even know what the hell this is. All I do know is that it disturbs me deeply. And that it’d probably hurt a lot if you tried to swallow it.


p. 387, 390 – Pretty Face Volume 1 TP:

“He wanted to be her boyfriend…how did he end up as her twin sister?”

All right, that’s it…Japan, what the hell is going on over there?


p. 407 – Star Trek Tiberius Cologne for Men:

Cologne named after Kirk? That may be too much for any one man to live up to. I think if I were to open a bottle of this, the scent would grab a ceiling fixture and swing both feet directly into my chest.


p. 454 – Emily’s Fat Balms “Kitties Rock!” Lip Gloss:

“Emily may be strange, but she’s no stranger to rockin’ lip gloss!”

It’s like they just toss a bunch of youth-oriented buzz words and images into the “Teen-Goth-Exploit-A-Tron 3000" and out comes new Emily merchandise.


p. 447 – Caution: Reanimated Corpse t-shirt:

I’ve encountered too many comic book store and game store clerks for whom this shirt would simply be redundant.


Written prior to the release of X-Men Origins
p. 402 – Wolverine Origins Deluxe Adult Costume:

“The costume recreates perfectly the costume worn by actor Hugh Jackman….”

Oh, for the sake of the movie, I hope not.


p. 405 – Wolverine Extreme Green Large Journal:

“Dear Journal – Scott was mean to me again today. Jean won’t notice me. Ran out of beer and cigars. Someone scratched my Book of Love album. They’d better not cancel Dollhouse. My life sucks. I’m gonna polish my claws and avoid everyone for the rest of the day. Yrs – L.”


Marvel Previews p. 79 – Marvel Minimates Series 28 – Wolverine Movie Assortment:

Hey, I had no idea Marlon Brando was in this movie. I’m totally seeing it now.


p. 124-5 – Blammoids:

What th–?

No, seriously, what the hell are these things?



p. 437 – Smallville RPG Core Rulebook:

“Okay, so Luthor hops into his plane and flies off with the Kryptonite. What do you want to do?”

“I’ll fly after him.”

“Sorry, you can’t fly yet. Not until after ten years of campaign time have passed.”

“Wait, what? What can I do, then?”

“You can look longingly into Lana’s big watery eyes and say incredibly evasive things that exacerbate everyone’s problems.”

“Oooh, I roll for Save Vs. Ridiculous Plot Developments.”

“Yeah, you can try.”


p. 458 – Desperately Seeking Susan Minimates 2-Pack:

Looks even more lifelike than the actual Madonna.


p. 515 – Star Wars “Vader Was Framed” Poster:

No, I’m pretty sure Vader was Space Hitler. And he killed younglings. Younglings! You’re just gonna hang this on your wall and pretend none of that happened?


p.113 – Marvel Bromance TPB :

“Marvel’s greatest buddies take the spotlight in this one-of-a-kind collection, and it’s male bonding like you’ve never seen – as Cable and Deadpool swap stories, Wonder Man and the Beast share a plane ride….”

I believe it was pal Dorian who observed that once Marvel got their hands on this particular term “bromance,” that means it’s likely near the end of its life cycle. We can only hope.


p. 406 – The Big Lebowski: The Dude Wig & Goatee Set:

With minor alteration, will also round out your Charles Manson costume for this Halloween.


p. 59 – Hellboy 8" Qee and Tara McPherson Variant:

Don’t get me wrong; it looks neat an’ all, but I just keep picturing what Hellboy’s reaction would be to looking like that variant. “What’s that on my stomach…’HUG LIFE?’ Oh, I need to punch somebody, NOW.”


p. 424 – Star Trek The Original Series Tribble Role Play:

You have no idea how disappointed I was that this wasn’t a costume for tribble cosplay…basically like a big ol’ furry beanbag you can roll around in.

Someone, somewhere, at some Star Trek convention or even just in the privacy of their own homes, has dressed as a tribble. Let that ease your dream-filled sleep.


p. 476 – Revoltech Danboard Action Figure:

Oh, c’mon, jointed plastic boxes…? You people just aren’t even trying.


p. 350 – Pac-Man Bonus Fruit Energy Drink:

I’d like to see a whole line of video game energy drinks. The Donkey Kong Flaming Barrel Energy Drink. The Defender Mutated Lander Energy Drink. The K.C. Munchkin Energy Drink That’s Entirely Different from the Pac-Man Energy Drink. The Crazy Climber Condor “Eggs” (wink) Energy Drink. The Wizard of Wor Thorwor Energy Drink.

I might have to pass on the Custer’s Revenge Engorged Arrow Energy Drink, however.


p. 328 – Marvel Comics Iron Man 2 Trading Cards:

So I’m assuming Iron 2 Man is about a steam iron magically transformed into a human, and the wacky adventures he has trying to fit into a strange new world. “Hey, man, don’t press me!” “Whoops, sorry, old habits.”


p. 450 – Rocky Apollo Creed Boxing Trunks Replica:

God bless the current onslaught of Rocky merchandise:

“From the classic film, this wearable 1:1 scale prop replica brings the look of the boxing ring into your collection, housed in a museum-quality shadow box!”

“WEARABLE.” Fantastic. The solicitation also reads “limited to 1,000 pieces (the year of the film’s release)” but I’m gonna guess that’s a typo.


p. 183 – Ghost Rider Desert Statue:


…just sayin’.


p. 346 – Sleepy Joe the Egg:

That’s almost like the barest minimum you’d require to make a brand new copyrightable character. I actually kind of admire that. “And here’s our other new character, ‘Finger Line Drawn in Sand!’”


p. 379 – Marvel Comics Coloud Headphones:


“War Journal Entry #5511: I had hoped the soothing sounds of Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man would ease away the pain I live with every day…the pain of loss that never ebbs no matter how many drug dealers or mob bosses I take down. But if Hulk doesn’t shut up about his Gloria Estefan record, I swear to God I’m going to shoot the son of a #$%@”


p. 406 – Mr. Potato Head Elvis Presley:

Sadly, Mr. Potato Head Elvis Presley was found floating in his toilet this morning.


p. 418 – Monopoly 1935 Deluxe 1st Edition:

Released just in time for another Depression! Now that’s good nostalgic marketing…oh, wait.


p. 191 – Spider-Man 3 Pumpkin Bomb Prop Replica:

Add this to your list of “Things Not to Bring with You When Traveling by Air.”


p. 198-9 – Wizard #194:

Mike's comment on this one was, naturally, dated and has been removed. I just thought the pic should be here.


p. 437 – Zombie Fragrance Oil:

“For a zombie in a state of decay, they need Zombie Fragrance Oil. Liberally apply this scent, and combat that lingering odor of decay to entire the comely young undead thing that has caught your fancy.”

I don’t even know where to start on this.


p. 424 – Mr. Toast and Shaky Bacon Plush Toys:

I guess these would be the more sedate cousins of Milk ‘n’ Cheese. Something about plushie bacon does amuse me, I have to admit.


p. 548 – I Am The Amazing Spider-Man Personlized (sic) DVD:

“From one photo, you will be transformed into the webslinger himself, fighting crime spidey-style! This 26-minute, action-packed cartoon adventure DVD includes bonus features such as a photo personalized music video featuring the 1960s theme song, as well as an educational tutorial on spiders in a segment titled ‘Learning with J. Jonah Jameson.’”


“Learning with J. Jonah Jameson.”

“Let the cranky, Hitler-mustachioed Jameson yell at you and call you names as you get minor bits of spider trivia wrong, wrong, WRONG!”


p. 424 – Batman Folding Pen:

“Use the writing implement designed for billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne….”

…Which totally has the Batman logo on it. That Wayne, he’s got chutzpah.


p. 416 – Saw – Jigsaw’s Gauntlet Prop Replica:

I should stop being surprised by these things by now, but seriously…what are you going to do with this?

On second thought…perhaps I would like to remain blissfully ignorant.


p. 380 – Thor The Frog God of Thunder Mini-Bust:

And now…the greatest Marvel statue ever made: