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Thursday, September 20, 2007


This week’s Quantum Blog was going to be about the new Fall TV schedule and my own personal lineup of shows. But we’re going to have to save that for next week, because for now it’s time for the first entry in what I expect will be a series: My Pet Peeves.

Pet Peeve #1: Perhaps my single greatest Peeve of them all--INCOMPETENCE AND INCONVENIENCE.

Among my links to The Quantum Blog is an online store called Tales of Wonder, located in Georgia. It is from Tales of Wonder that I buy all of my big-ticket comic book and graphic novel items, the stuff for which I don’t want to pay full price. And I’m going to preface this by saying that my Pet Peeve is NOT directed at Tales of Wonder. Far from it, in fact: Tales is an excellent vendor. They offer very generous discounts; their customer service people are as friendly, helpful, and efficient as you’ll find anywhere; and their service and order-fulfillment are Johnny-on-the-Spot. Tales of Wonder itself gets only my highest recommendation.

However, the United States Postal Service—in particular whatever roomful of monkeys the Post Office has working in Springfield, Massachusetts—is getting to be a damn good argument for letter-bombing.

To explain: DC Comics this year has begun to favor us by releasing the entirety of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World in hardcover Omnibus volumes. If you don’t know the work of Jack Kirby, my first question is what are you doing reading this Blog, and my immediate direction to you is to look him up and find out about the single most important, influential, and powerful storytelling and artistic imagination that ever worked in comic books. Just for your cultural literacy, you need to know and appreciate who this man was and what he accomplished. The Fantastic Four, Captain America, the Hulk, the Marvel Comics Thor, the original X-Men, the Silver Surfer: These and a great many more are all creations of Jack Kirby. It is no melodrama or exaggeration to say that Jack’s work IS the history of comics. Anyway, The Fourth World is the collective title given to Jack’s most ambitious and personal work, a story of a war between gods that took up three comics of Jack’s own creation—The New Gods, The Forever People, and Mister Miracle—with peripheral parts of the story appearing in the unlikely quarter of a Superman spinoff, Jimmy Olsen. I’ve always wanted to have Jack’s saga, which is the great unfinished masterpiece of comics (DC stupidly cancelled all the books before Jack could finish the story, which is a topic for another Blog) in a nice, bookshelf-type format. I could have asked for a better paper stock to have them printed on (Marvel puts all of its collected editions on a nice glossy stock, which Jack’s most ambitious work deserves), but still, this is something that I really wanted. And with the discounts that Tales of Wonder offers, this was where I wanted to get it.

So, late last month I ordered Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Volume 2, which contains the entire story of “The Deep Six” from The New Gods; the tale of the Forever People enduring the tortures of Desaad’s Happyland and facing Darkseid’s terrifying Omega Effect; and the first appearance of Mister Miracle’s bombshell girlfriend and future wife Big Barda, among other things. (And again, you really need to look this stuff up.) The order went out, and I looked forward to Tales of Wonder’s excellent service. Well, Tales was on the ball as usual. But as for Uncle Sam’s brave couriers? Therein lies the Peeve!

Actually, it started with whatever distributor supplies Tales with its merchandise. When I didn’t have my Volume 2 after something more than a week, I looked up my order and found that DC had delayed the release of the book by a week. (You’ll remember I wanted to have the boys at Marvel strung up after they delayed The Last Fantastic Four Story, which was already five years behind schedule, for a whole month. Or, if not, see my initial Blog.) However, I knew when I saw JK4W Vol. 2 at my comic-book dealer’s (for full price) that it should soon be coming to me in the mail. Or so I thought. Tales of Wonder would have gotten the thing out to me then—if whatever distributor they use had sent their shipment to the correct address! Yes, the distributor got the order wrong! I should have known I was in trouble at this point. And from here it only got worse.

When Tales finally got the item I was expecting (about a week late by this time), they sent it directly out as they always do. Now, bear in mind, Tales of Wonder is located in Georgia. I live in upstate New York. So, the Post Office relayed my package from Georgia to Springfield, Mass., there to be shipped to my home here in New York. I counted the days from its arrival in Springfield on September 14 (I checked the Postal Website for this) and anticipated I would receive my new hardcover Kirby goodies by this past Monday or Tuesday. Or so I thought. It is now Thursday afternoon, and I still do not have my Kirby’s Fourth World Volume 2. Why? By getting the tracking number from Tales and navigating the labyrinth of the Postal Service’s phone numbers, I determined that my book was sent on September 16 from Springfield to…Nashua, New Hampshire.

I repeat: NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE. I live in the Capital of New York. The Postal geniuses in Springfield sent my book to NEW HAMPSHIRE. The very polite Postal gentleman that I spoke to in Albany told me that I have some chance of receiving it tomorrow, and that I should call him in the morning. I didn’t tell him what I would LIKE to call some of his colleagues in Massachusetts. It might have been a little cathartic, but it would also have been wasted. In the meantime, a book that I ordered at the end of August is still not in my hands at what is almost the end of September, because of an incompetent distributor and an incompetent Postal Service that can’t get a goodamn address right!

And you want to hear something really funny? This isn’t even the first time I’ve had this happen. I had an even worse time last summer when I ordered the collected edition of Marvel’s Sentry Miniseries drawn by John Romita Jr. As usual, Tales of Wonder’s service was spot-on and exemplary. But the roomful of monkeys in Springfield sent it to—are you ready?—WASHINGTON STATE! I live in New York. Those clods and dullards in Springfield sent my order THREE THOUSAND MILES IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. My book finally arrived from Georgia AFTER CROSSING THE ENTIRE FREAKING COUNTRY—TWICE!

This, then, is the first and greatest of my Pet Peeves: the insufferable, abysmal, sickening, stupid, idiotic, moronic, intolerable INCOMPETENCE of people who can’t do their bloody jobs right, which causes ME to suffer bleeding insufferable INCONVENIENCE. I am sitting here composing this Blog wanting to go Postal on the Post Office. I’m telling you, I’m in the mood to do bodily harm to someone. It is just plain inexcusable. And I have no doubt it goes on all the time, to other people who, like me, want nothing more than efficient service when they order something.

In the meantime, there are two more volumes of Kirby’s Fourth World to go, and I’m planning to order them from my friends in Georgia as well. I’m screwing up my courage to do it, because I can just imagine what’s going to happen with Volume 3. I’ll probably receive it two months after I ordered it. And it will probably be flown in from Sri Lanka.

Stupid, incompetent, inconveniencing bastards…

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