Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Prisoner: It's Your Funeral

I recently purchased--at the unspoken behest of the geek hivemind--the classic BBC series The Prisoner. I'm watching it offshore to pass the time and sharing spoiler-free responses/reviews with the internet without provcation, cause, or request because that's what the internet is for. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 27

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites. 

They can’t. The Midnighter keeps threatening his advisors with death if they don’t quit pissing him off. Jack Hawksmoor as the de facto president keeps going out to kick dissidents in the face personally and taking time outs to bang The Engineer, not really reviewing or signing any of the paperwork that just needs to be done when you’re The President of The United States. The Doctor just starts running his own religion (not to himself specifically; he’s more of a Jesus figure). I think Shen actually does do some responsible public relations work, but you figure that a poorly-run superhero oligarchy needs more spin than a busty Asian with wings can drum up. I don’t quite remember what Apollo is doing. Probably running interference with his daughter. I didn’t read much after that (because, honestly it wasn’t that great a run and it was rapidly sliding downhill), but while there isn’t much of an illustrated point in comics (if Superman were forced to become president, he’d probably do a great job. If only because of the three magic words, “Vice President Batman.” Regardless, the outcome would be whatever the plot needed.)

But by the time you got into it, you really didn’t like The Authority. They were just jerks and after a few runs where they did discuss their politics (cheering when a temporarily copy of Jenny Sparks uses a dream engine to destroy all weapons on Earth [and no I’m not taking the time to discuss everything that’s wrong with that idea]), they took over the United States and started getting really quiet about specific policies (other than, say freedom of religion and making things better for gays). Is it because specifics would have made it seem less like they were aggressive, ADD sufferers who were obviously unfit for government, because actually enacting those policies when they’d obviously overstepped their bounds wouldn’t be much of an endorsement, or because someone felt they’d challenged the loyalty of their readership enough by just pushing the story this far outside of the norm (which just shouldn’t ever be an issue with “The Authority,” but who knows).

What I’m saying is that making heroes stand up for anything more nuanced than “me good, you bad,” or “me good, you bad,” crafted in the mold of something on par with “Watchmen” in terms of complexity and depth (though not specifically in the morally ambiguity of “Watchmen”)  is a dangerous business.

I’m not saying that these things aren’t heroic because they aren’t done, as if concepts of super-heroism are shaped by market forces, but concepts of super-heroism are shaped by market forces. They aren’t solely shaped or even strongly shaped, but having the mainstream media of superheroics dominated by characters of myopic morality in the position of righteous avenger simply to appeal generally to kids who are alleged to be too young for complex situations and storytelling and adults who are too sensitive about their own views to read about the existence of an alternative or simply too stupid for complex situations and storytelling. By having cultural icons of not any ordinary heroism, but super-heroism crafted to appeal to a generic mold of reactionism, willful ignorance, and violence must have a reflection on the culture in which they are facets.

Of course that’s backwards; superheroes aren’t anything more than action movie protagonists in a serialized format because that is what the culture wants to see. If anything, the constraints and necessities of the serialized formats demand they actually transcend the reactionary, willfully ignorant, and lethally violent action stars which were spawned by the same cultural thirsts which birthed them. I don’t know if it’s World War Two or some other simplistic first-world egotism that compels the perpetuation of the heroic figure hitting a scheming, underhanded (often ugly) foe for trying to unapologetically destroy all life/free will.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog in Exactly 1000 Words: Remembering...that thing

I'm still in Texas, but I should be back tonight some time. See you then. Well, just crunching the numbers, I probably won't, but y'know.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weekend Music: "We Will be Free" by Garth Brooks

I know two things about this band:
1) It's Garth &@#$ing Brooks!
2) see #1.

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's the Magic: The Great Gates

Better Know an Abandoned Project
As I may have mentioned a few hundred times, there was a Great Designer Search held by the folks over at Wizards to see who would be the newest Magic card designer. Some other guy won, but before they started weeding out participants for quality, I was involved.

The initial take on the GDS2 was to focus on the collaborative nature of card design. To this end, they put up a wiki specifically for these designs, plus whatever else. Hopefuls would put up their block ideas, complete with mechanics, settings, etc., and would work with one another to refine those ideas. I was on a boat for most of this is sucking bandwidth through a coffee stir, so my participation at best. To the credit of many of the other participants, they remained active after being eliminated and helped the remaining contenders compete for the final spot, marking themselves as merits to the community.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Star Trek: Redemption Crew, pt 02

First off, I want to say that yes, I get that making dark and gritty versions of characters A) doesn't require any fucking talent and B) misses the point of Star Trek, and maybe slapping the names of characters I didn't really like onto tangentally similar assholes doesn't do much, but this shit is happening.

I got nuttin' else; let's do this!

Captain Jadzia Dax left everything she knew behind for a lover from a previous life. Their passion faded years later and Jadzia was left, bitter and alone from the experience. She’s quickly climbing the ranks, partying her way to the top, but beneath her charming smile and good connections, there is a fierce mind, honed with centuries of experience and focused by years of anger and perceived injustice. She is often seen as a counterpoint to the long-lived, dispassionate, and ethical Tuvok.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Linkstorm: Think about the future


I'm at Terry's this week, and I ended up watching part of a special on how if...something happened, in a few centuries, sea levels could rise over two hundred feet. I think that the doomsaying is interesting as part of a thought experiment, but it seems like everyone's trying to earnestly see the future, and there are quite a few people who are selling them visions of the future.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 26

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.  

I’d go so far to say that this myopic morality is the cornerstone of the superhero genre. There are subversions and twists on it, but most heroes will stop purse snatchers, mad scientists, and alien invasions, but never bother to stop concentration camps, torture facilities, or systemic exploitation by governments. I didn’t list terrorism, espionage, nuclear weapons, stonings (the bad, Biblical kind), executions of political dissidents, nationalization of private industries, voter  disenfranchisement, government censorship of the internet, government censorship of television, schools that teach hate and ignorance, pretty much any gay man giving directions ever, or poorly-defined zoning and drainage ordinances codes which allow builders to construct houses in areas of poor natural water flow that are either flood prone or will actually be covered in water in ten years. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Field Manual Kris: Schedule


News Flashes

Man, some days you work really hard to make up jokes. The rest of the time, you can take a few news articles to their natural conclusion and repost the rest.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's the Magic: New Phyrexia

New Hotness
Caress of Phyrexia as a super Sign in Blood is fun, and while I've only cast Mindculling once, it came late enough it swung things big-time.  A lot of cards seem to have two things going on, which gives them a lot of versatility, like Vapor Snag. I dismissed it at first because I was only thinking of it offensively, "all upside." After playing with it, it's obvious that you occasionally want to save your own shit this way and if you do that, you have a tougher decision than you would with Unsummon. Oh well, if you make the wrong choice, someone else will take your place. That's Phyrexia for you.

 “Alex, I’ll take ‘Cards I never thought I’d cast on myself until I did’ for 3BB”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Timewalking Archive Trap: The Hulk: Kris Notes

Since I'm having a Review Week and it's 6-16, I thought I'd post a double-header of Marvel Comics movie reviews today.

Notes were taken inside the theater with other notes added later.

For no reason whatsoever, I give you large, green text
[Spoiler Alert]
Notes made as the movie was ongoing. 
Italics for thoughts added later.
The Incredible Hulk

-Does The Hulk say 'Hulk Smash' in the first movie?
My friend Josh says 'no.'

Timewalking Archive Trap: Iron Man: Kris Notes

Because this week is Review Week and today is 6-16, I'm doing a double header of Marvel Comics movies for my Timewalking Archive Trap. The one for The Hulk will be up later today.

Great movies. It's strange, but I saw Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang on comedy central just a week before I went to see Iron Man and Hulk. It might have been the very first Robert Downy Jr. movie I've ever seen, and I'm glad that it was. Good, fun movie.

I paid $8.50 for both movies, and was pretty happy with that. Happy enough I spent $11.00 on a White Russian Daquiri and Iced Coffee after Iron Man, so I would be a little more awake and happy for what I thought would be a mediocre Hulk movie(what!? Unless it's World War Hulk, I'm just not into Hulk.)

I did, as is becoming habit, take notes throughout the films. It does take away from the movie, but then I haven't sat back and just enjoyed a movie for a while without nitpicking it, so I figured (around X-Men 3), that I might as well start taking my critique just a bit more seriously.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thor: Tales of Asgard - Politics, Religion, and Her

Welcome to today's roundtable discussion of Thor: Tales of Asgard. Today's discussion members are myself, of course, relapsed monster on an international scale, Muammar Gaddafi--is it still Colonel, or do you go by something else now?

This is the most menacing picture of him I could find.
"Muammar Gaddafi is not a president to resign, he does not even have a parliament to dissolve."

Fair enough. next, we have Jesus, simultaneously God and demi-god. How's that working out for you Jesus?

Of course. This is totally The Jesus.
"With the exception of a few really bad days, it's been pretty excellent."

Good to hear. Finally, we have New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Meyer. How are things, Stephanie?

I really wanted a picture of his abs. Not for this. Just for, y'know. Stuff.
“Good, but I’m afraid I can’t stay long. Taylor Laughner’s contract says I can touch his abs five times a day, so my schedule’s kind of busy until Breaking Dawn finishes filming.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 25

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Humbleness is a strange adjective when placed next to Batman. On the one hand, he’s pragmatic about his limitations, but on the other, if you have nothing to contribute, you’re wasting his bat-time. He isn’t nice to people to be nice, but he will admit when he’s made—y’know, actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever read about Bats making a mistake. I’m sure there was some ‘splainin’ to do when “Tower of Babel” went down and his files for neutralizing his fellow Justice League members got stolen and almost killed them all, but I didn’t read that one. There was the issue of “Superman/Batman” where…jesus christ, why have I read more “Superman/Batman” than Grant Morrison’s run on “Justice League America”?!

The poor quality of my choices when Books A Million is out of better titles (“Thor,” “X-Factor,” “Batman,” “Marvel Adventures,” “Batman & Robin,” “Iron Man, “ and “Deadpool” to name a few) aside, in that one, a curse gave Batman Superman’s powers, but also made him a crazy dick who went toe to toe with The Justice League and kicked their asses (because he was Batman with Superman’s powers in a book titled “Superman/Batman.” Seriously, that should’ve been voted “Most Inevitable Battle” for something.) before Superman in a special suit lured him into Crime Alley so Zatanna could make everything better. In the end, Batman apologized.

I think.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Chemical Romance: Danger Days

My Chemical Romance did "Danger Days" back in November of 2010 and you can read the wikipedia if you care about boring bio/fact bullshit. For me, music exists in a vacuum and it doesn't matter what the artists thought when they were making it; even idiots can make exceptional music. If it says something to you, it's great music. Context is vital in artistic appreciation, but I suppose it's the listener's prerogative as to how much context is enough. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weekend Music: "Last Kiss" by Seven Mary Three

I know two things about this band:
I like them.
How to link their website.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Star Trek: Redemption Crew, pt 01

Some time ago, I mentioned my dream Star Trek crew. They were a diverse group of characters who had more promise behind them than in front of them (with the exception of Elim Garak because…c’mon, Elim Garak). They’d patrol around a B-string space government on the IDP A’kweth and perform interdiction, defense, and protection missions largely involving peacekeeping, diplomacy, problem solving, and everything short of exploration (though a ‘wormhole’ or ‘New Frontier’ situation wouldn’t be out of the question.). The results:

CO: CAPT Chakotay (post-Voyager)
XO/Science:  CDR Nyota Uhuru (pre-TOS)
Ops: LCDR Natasha Yar (post-TNG, didn’t die[1])
Tactical: LCDR Tuvok (pre-Voyager. Dude was in Starfleet for sixty friggin’ years)
Engineering: LT Scott (pre-TOS)
Medical: LT Katherine Pulaski (pre-TNG)
Conn: ENS Ro Laren (TNG era)
Other: Elim Garak (pre-DS9)
Skiltao then suggested a crew of hated characters given a chance to redeem themselves in this same setting. Of course, because they’re primarily science/engineering/fiat class characters, they’d have to be nigh-alternate universe characters. None the less, I did manage to put together a crew of characters I absolutely hated as they were presented to me by Star Trek canon. Except Jake. DS9 was woefully, predictably underrepresented here and he’s included under the aegis that a lot of my dream crew was; I never got to see him enough.

The Pitch:
SS Redemption, a motley group of bitter conscripts/privateers exerting the authority of a totalitarian government that's merely a piece on the chessboard of post-Dominion Alpha Quadrant politics and largely opposed to the faction that our protagonists are working for.

CO/Science: Captain Jadzia Dax (post-DS9, didn’t die)
XO/Operations: LT Harry Kim (post-Voyager)
Engineering: LT Torres (Voyager era)
General duties: Crewman Kathryn Janeway (teenage problem solver/maker)  (pre-Voyager)
Tactical/Weapons Systems: LT Wesley Crusher (late-TNG era)
CMO/Exosciences: DR Beverly Crusher (pre-TNG. Don’t ask.)
Intelligence/Political Officer: Jake Sisko (DS9 era)
Redemption’s disembodied AI: Seven of Nine (post-Voyager)

While the good guys generally respond to problems and do standard ship missions, they run into Redemption at the odd corners of the galactic neighborhood. Redemption’s government doesn’t care about what technically belongs to anyone else and is always quick to make up an excuse to have ships where they aren’t supposed to; their ethos it that if you can’t defend it, they deserve to have it.

The Redemption crew aren’t big lovers of who they’re working for, but they’re one half coerced and one half happy to be able to do as they please with their masters only occasionally pulling the strings. Ultimately, Redemption has just as much autonomy as A’kweth; it’s what they do with it that distinguishes them. They’re a model in corruption and indifference; leaders who are only loyal to themselves tend to have followers who are the same way.

While the crew of Redemption aren’t evil, they are bad people, but redeemable. I haven’t seen a lot of “Firefly,” but it’s like if you took that crew and nudged it to just the other far side of ‘good.’ Don’t underestimate them, though; regardless of their Federation origins, most of these characters have had nothing and have few illusions about what they do have lasting forever; they are desperate, cunning, and opportunistic. I like the idea of giving them an actual, ancient NX-class vessel to tool around with, but they still manage to elude/evade A’kweth when things come to blows. They are frequently outgunned by anyone of any class, which makes them bullies and forces them to act like cowards. They are, to some degree, but they’re also dirty, dirty fighters and won’t hesitate to force a more compassionate crew to make the choice between destroying them and letting them go.

Next week is Review Week, but the week after that, I'll have character rundowns.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Arguing about Star Trek

Tasha Yar, Ro Laren, and Kira Nerys are tough female Star Trek characters with bad histories. My friend Skiltao (check out his site), has submitted that they are the same character. I would--in the finest manner of nerds debating things on the internet--differ (Yes, you're missing a Prisoner blog for this. Take that as you will.)

At the age of fifteen, Natasha Yar (played by Denise Crosby) left the anarchic violence of her home world behind on board a Starfleet vessel. When we first meet her, she's chief of security on the Enterprise, a formidable fighter, and a courageous woman. More importantly, because of her background, she appreciates the compassionate, cooperative, rational world of The Federation and has little time to waste with idiots who cannot do the same. In fact, she dies because she refuses to dither around with the baiting, idiotic, mysterious asshole Armus while two of her ship mates might be dying.


Ro Laren (played by Michelle Forbes) is a Bajoran. Years ago, Cardassians conquered her people, driving many of them from their homes to become a disenfranchised diaspora. When she was a child, she was forced to watch Cardassians interrogate, beat, and kill her father. Ro Laren is angry and ashamed of her people for their status, and it drives her to do everything she can to solve problems on her own, ignoring the virtue of patience, the voices of experiences, and the help of others.

People make fun of Batman for the influence of his parents’ death on his mythos, but if Ro was a character in the DC Universe, she would be the over-the-top Batman, screaming about the death of her parents at every turn. In fact, I want a Dark Knight Returns movie written by Scott Kurtz with Michelle Forbes unapologetically playing the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Get this done internet. Well, hey, I’m always looking to commission artists to create the things I imagine, so maybe I’ll do that one day.

"I am the night, Captain Picard."

Eventually, Ro betrays Starfleet and joins the anti-Cardassian rebel group, The Maquis.

Kira Nerys (played by Nana Visitor), like Ro, is a Bajoran. Unlike Ro, she isn't one of the Bajoran Diaspora, but a native-born Bajoran who grew up directly under the brutality of Cardassian occupation. Kira fought against The Cardassians since she was twelve, operating somewhere between freedom fighter and terrorist. When The Cardassians left, she joined the Bajoran government, but remained vocal about its flaws. When The Federation came to assist, she was reluctant to have outsiders on her planet, but agreed that they were a necessary, if temporary, ally.

I can't deny that Kira is based on Ro (they wanted Michelle Forbes to be in Deep Space Nine, but she declined.) or take refuge in the fact that for every two episodes that either Yar or Ro were pictured in--even via clip-show or hologram--Kira was a main character in nine, giving her slightly more development.

*Alright, not technically ten years, but I don't invoke Grosse Point Blank lightly.

Yar and Ro both left their bad situations behind and joined Starfleet. Yar did it because it represented something better than the world she grew up in. She believes in The Federation because she sees the good that it can do. It gives her a picture of a brighter alternative and the potential of mankind. Instead of just curling up and hating the universe for not doing enough to make itself a better place, Yar engages it and improves upon it. Ro Laren wants flee her people and break the cycle of victimhood by being a dick and acting more "real" than everyone else in super-white suburbia that The Federation sometimes seems like.

My point is, if she hadn't gotten killed trying to save two shipmates, Tasha Yar would've snapped Ro in half like a wrinkle-nosed slim-jim(TM) thirty seconds after she came on board. If Ro Laren was Batman, then she's this one.

Ro Laren blames her people for being beaten by the Cardassians and blames The Federation for not doing more to help. She blames The Cardassians too, but until she joins The Maquis, Ro Laren doesn't give a single fuck about helping Bajor or the Bajorans, above gabbing to others about how they aren’t helping enough. She's a pissed off teenager looking for the opportunity to rebel because she believes it will make everyone sorry they see how obvious wrong they were for ignoring her all the time. Meanwhile, no one cares except for some self-recrimination over trusting her.

Pretty much this.

Kira Nerys fought to expel The Cardassians from her planet every day. She never lost faith in her people or in The Prophets. She scrapped and fought and even killed Bajoran collaborators because she felt it was the right thing to do. When The Cardassians left, she put down her weapons for the same reason. Kira Nerys isn't a warrior or a killer; she's a believer. She is a woman of principle with a foundation set deep into the soil of Bajor. Her integrity rivals that of icons like Picard or Spock, and even surpasses that of her own Emissary, Benjamin Sisko.

Regardless of what the card game says.

Kira was also quite passionate in her personal life; connecting with others around her rather quickly, depending on circumstances. While it's counter-intuitive to think of someone who isn't the life of the party like Jadzia Dax, especially someone so combative, as being very sociable, Kira was. Even if you don’t believe that, at the very least she had a healthy balance between her personal life and her work.

Natasha Yar, on the other hand, has a very hard time showing her emotions. She pushes herself to be a Starfleet ideal, but her personal life suffers. Even when she's seeking companionship under the effects of an intoxicating virus, given the entirety of the Enterprise-D crew to choose from, she picks the safest, least threatening person on board, one who (of course) politely and discreetly accedes to her request that they never speak of their encounter again.

Yes, the entire crew.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 24

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

It’s easy for Superman to do the little things because regardless of what’s going on, he’s aware of the little things. For guys like Spider-Man and Batman, those little things aren’t quite so easy.  Spider-Man, despite all of his other hardships, does do well with the average citizen of New York. Regardless of what the papers say, people know he’s there to help and while I don’t read a lot of Spider-Man, I imagine he makes some time to say a few kind words to those he rescues (or arrests, though I doubt anything he could say would engender much affection from them). Batman, in the Grant Morrison run, is generous. He gets a young woman on the street a job at Waynetech (or Wayne Enterprises, whatever it is this week) and even gives a hobo that he almost hits with the Batmobile a cool hundred dollars (Granted, that hobo later overdosed and his ghost led drug-addled, mind-wiped Bruce Wayne on a trek across Gotham, but then maybe he didn’t die? Really, it was unclear whether it was ghost karma or what, and not unclear in a Grant Morrison way, just generally unclear.[Edit: He has since shown up as a pimp.]). So he does stop and take time to help out average citizens of Gotham, and the only way for him to know there’s a data-entry position open at Waynetech or have $100 in the glove compartment is if he’s anticipating this sort of thing (alright, the 100 dollars could be in anticipation of a number of things, but you get my point).

But now that I think about it…Grant Morrison did write both those Batman scenes and the Superman scene that I cited earlier. Perhaps that isn’t something fundamental about the character, but a detail that Grant Morrison puts into his characters to give them this heroic trait. No. I actually have a Superman comic that I’m relatively sure isn’t written by Grant Morrison (what was he writing in 2001?) where he visits the captain of a Russian sub who’s dying of radiation from the accident that Superman saved him and his men from. The captain stayed behind to shutdown the reactor and was dying of cancer as a result (though, sadly, whoever was writing that comic didn’t know much about nuclear reactors, so good story aside, it’s a rough re-read) and another where he’s reading letters from fans while he goes about his daily Superman stuff. Anyway, so yeah, Batman, but not nearly as much as Superman, which fits because a lot of it works for Superman being a nice guy with a positive public persona (not that he does these things for those reasons. Harvesting a dying Russian sailor/farmer’s final crop isn’t something you do to get on the front page of The Daily Planet.

It’s not that Batman doesn’t care about people. I think he does, but I think it’s more in that he believes in the good in all people and thusly redemption and the value of life. It’s not exactly caring about people, again I think it’s more of an expanded world view and perhaps just a necessity of believing that, with all of the messed-up dudes he has to take care of, he has to believe that the people he’s saving and the people he’s stopping both have some sort of merit, even if he can’t see it. Otherwise, the things he does take on a certain kind of dark futility (which, if you read “Batman R.I.P.” in The-Lump-as-Alfred’s ponderings, Bruce slips into a sort of darkness right before he picks up Dick as Robin. To me, Dick enjoys life in general and the life of crime fighting crime specifically, serving for many years as a contrast to Batman to remind him of the better parts of life and why he does what he does.).

Both Spider-Man and Superman are selfless. Indeed, Batman is too. All three are willing to risk their lives to stop evil. Spider-Man (as I discussed above) is willing to go the extra mile of not just sacrificing his life, but risking even the better parts of living to shoulder his responsibility. Superman doesn’t sacrifice a lot of personal stuff (save perhaps his dignity on crappy excuses) to be Superman, but he is willing to put his life on the line. Batman, too, is willing to risk his life to do what he does, but while Spider-Man and Superman have run the risk of leaving widows behind, the only grieving family for Bruce Wayne is Alfred Pennyworth. It’s hard to say what’s selfish and what’s selfless in this scenario; the married guys dedicate their lives to someone else to make them happy in an ‘everyday heroes’ sort of way, but they also risk their mate’s happiness in order to continue fighting crime. Though their spouses knew the risks before they were married, it’s still a ding for both of them. But then, looking at Batman, everything he gives is solely for crimefighting; he doesn’ t have an ‘everyday hero’ part of making the world a better place. Maybe that’s part of Batman’s general appeal; he doesn’t have ordinary human qualities that detract from him as a crime-busting machine.

He’s not relatable, not even a tiny bit. Batman is more human than Spider-Man and Superman, but he has very little human about him. He is a human fully committed to his persona of being a strange shadow; a mysterious figure of the night.  Whereas so many heroes fight to seem relatable and human, to connect with the people they protect, Batman is the one who has worked (in the past, anyway) to present himself as something inhuman.  His persona is not supposed to be relatable, but whether that’s supposed to be an outgrowth of how detached he is or a reflection of it, I’m not sure. It is not a heroic quality. Being a ‘weird avenger’ is not heroic. He might be a wish-fulfillment character, but that is a far cry from heroic.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

DC do over

As some of you may have heard, DC comics is relaunching everything in September. They will have fifty two comics out, each will be a #1, each will be written to be accessible to new readers, each fill feature heroes updated to be contemporary, and each will be released simultaneously online. For those of you who regularly read comics (even some of you who don't), this is nothing new except for the impressively larger scale and the internet thing.

Collars for everyone. Even Wonder Woman, who's missing the top half of her shirt.

It won't work. That’s not nay-saying; I’m proud and excited by what DC’s doing. It’s a ballsy move and I hope it pays off and I’ll do what I can to help that happen. No, it won’t work because even whenever you relaunch Superman and start writing stories about Superman that don’t reference earlier Superman stories, those stories are still there. The problem is decades of preexisting canon attached to one character. DC was on the right track bringing Kal-L back during Infinite Crisis; for a while, there were two Supermen with different histories drawn up from the same base, storytelling clay, but shaped by the different experiences they had. Whenever they reinvent Superman, Batman, Wonder Wonder Woman, etc., in September, they’ll still be The Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. and that continuity will be attached to them, even if it's done outside of the narrative by fans and onlookers.

For example, this is Batman. This is a part of what happened to Batman.

Fans have long made strong proclamations about how Batman from one source isn’t “their” Batman and depending on who you ask, some one-off stories aren’t considered part of the character’s history, but ultimately, there isn’t an official cutoff point between the Silver Age zany Batman, the grim, nineties Batman, and the current, ubersmench Batman, besides for a few hasty, inconsistent pre and post Crisis declarations. They’re all masquerading as The One, True Batman.

Here's my solution for DC: Ragnarok. The renewing cycle wherein the gods die and are born again in a new age. Except instead of “new age,” it’s “a different multiverse set a few years later.” Let’s take Final *snerk* Crisis; what if, instead of returning everything to the status quo with a few changes, Darkseid wins. He rules Earth…say…6; Earth-6 and surrounding Universe. The heroes aren’t all destroyed, the battle isn’t over, but no one wants to read about a post-apocalyptic universe week after week, well, some people do, but not most. So you wrap up the stories of the guys on Earth-6, give them their tearful farewells and their heroic sacrifices, then next month, Earth-7.

Victory, but at the high price of karaoke.

Earth-7 is the present, but the heroes are just starting out and have none of the history dragging them down. Yes, it’s a reboot and you do it every few years, but it’s a clean breakaway that tells fans new and old when to get on and your characters and stories have bite-sized back stories that only go back to the beginning of the latest universe. As a bonus, you can actually give characters a satisfying arc from beginning to end before you wrap up Earth-7. Instead of being an endless litany of updated canon, Batman can be a story, well told, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Whenever a fan says "That's not my Batman," they can add, "The Batman of Earth-7 is my Batman." Whenever someone dies, they stay dead until the next turning of the wheel and the death of characters can actually be a relevant event that doesn’t make fans roll their eyes.

The end of Earth-7 doesn’t have to be a disaster. Maybe the heroes overcome their crisis. Maybe they win, defeat the God of Evil and make the universe a better place. They can retire or go back to stopping the occasional bank robbery. The good guys can actually succeed in this scenario. Then, after all of the stories have been told, Earth-8.

You might say that means that by default, the old characters are gone. That The Batman of Earth-6 was hit with Darkseid’s Omega Beams and he’s dead. But that doesn’t matter, the point is that Earth-5 and Earth-6 are still there, in the background and ready to be used again, but their time as the backdrop of The DC Universe is over. Even in the Omega Beams scenario, it can justify The Batman of Earth-6 showing up in a different Earth for more adventures, or in a different time of his own universe, either as a one-shot, a mini-series, or just a simple crossover. Is that any more ridiculous or confusing than having Batman simultaneously in three titles a month?

With this proposal, you're labeling the chaos inherent in the system and making it look like part of the master plan.

Do it fellas.
Pictures via Comics Alliance.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Update on that clipboard

Yup. Maybe it was because I went totally off the rails with the MC Chris thing. Maybe it's because I'm terrible at uploading pictures. Maybe it's because I am truly focused by caffeine, but those ads really worked out well for the traffic. Probably starting those back up tonight.

In other news, I read How to Make Webcomics by Kris Straub, Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, and Scott Kurtz. I had to call off my last webcomic project, but it's full of generally good advice about doing stuff on the internet.

Probably watching The Walking Dead tonight, at least the first six episodes. This week is devoted to total nerdity; comics followed by Star Trek, with the final part of MC Magic going up on Friday. The week after that is Review Week, where I finally get around to talking about Danger Days, Thor: Tales of Asgard, and New Phyrexia. It's also my final week offshore before I get off work and head to Texas to teach Terry the finer points of Pandemic and to play/run some DnD.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Prisoner: Many Happy Returns

I recently purchased--at the unspoken behest of the geek hivemind--the classic BBC series The Prisoner. I'm watching it offshore to pass the time and sharing spoiler-free responses/reviews with the internet without provcation, cause, or request because that's what the internet is for. Enjoy.

Let’s talk about mythology. Not ancient Greek mythology, the mythology of popular culture. My most intuitive comparison to The Prisoner in terms of mythology is Lost, but I haven’t seen a single episode of Lost, and will probably remain as content as I am now if I never do. None the less, I know of the mythology of Lost; many questions are raised and by the end of the series everything fits together with enough data to fill a wikipedia article and it all links together and makes an imaginary universe that has a few cracks, but largely feels like it has enough edges for an audience to grasp and feel a sense of reality.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

It's the Week of Buried History

It is the Week of Buried History.

June 1-7, every year.

This was not an intentional event, as my 6 week Quinius/Quirinus celebration is, I merely found myself watching Dungeons and Dragons 2, Dark Kingdom, Record of the Lodoss War, Bastard, and The Princess Bride one year around this time and now it's an annual event.

All medieval movies, some have sorcery, but all of them are pretty good. The only ones with a more popular appeal (not for geeks only), are The Princess Bride and Dark Kingdom.

I also saw Final Fantasy VII: Advent anime where even the emaciated, leather-clad villains fail to be hot is pretty dissapointing. Maybe it was because they all looked like they were twelve years old. :,(

With the exception of Advent Children, the Medieval theme permeated quite a bit of this, as well as deep histories that are unearthed (however piecemeal) as the story progresses.

In addition, a conversation and a few other things have put some connections to people, places, and events from my past to rest the past week or so (in one way or another).

It tastes like freedom...and sugar-coated pecans.

US Soccer team. These goddam gatorade commercials make me feel a pang of guilt about not giving a damn about the US Soccer team.

It doesn't change anything...I's a single pang. :P