Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Alan Moore Obscurities: Supreme - The Story Of The Year (#41-52) PART ONE

"I don't know if I'm one thing or another... just like that Eastern Seaboard that I see beneath me" - Supreme

So, we're back with Alan Moore and back during the 1990s when he worked doing superhero stories to keep food on the table while he pursued his two real passion projects From Hell and Lost Girls.  This time it's the collected edition of the first twelve issues of his run on Supreme for Rob Leifeld's studio Awesome Comics I'm looking at, the studio Leifeld set up after his split from Image.  Supreme is generally regarded as the best of Moore's superhero work during this period, although personally I enjoyed his WildC.A.T.s run a lot more.  Supreme was originally conceived by Leifeld as a Superman expy who had anger issues and killed people and so on.  Handed over to Moore, he chucks all that out of the window in the first issue and reboots Supreme as a much more traditional Superman clone, with the stories taking place in both the present where he, in the guise of his alter-ego comicbook artist Ethan Crane, spends each issue remembering parts of his new past which form a commentary on comicbook history and are beautifully drawn in different period and genre appropriate art by chameleonic artist Rick Veitch contrasting with the "Image" style of the modern day sequences drawn by a variety of artists. As I am not a huge fan of Silver Age whimsy done straight I find some of this stuff a little hard to swallow, but Moore was correct in predicting a backlash against the dark anti-heroes of the late eighties and early nineties was coming which also resulted in more well known works such as Kingdom Come and Grant Morrison's retooling of the Justice League.  If you want to know more about pre-Moore Supreme, may I direct you to his wikipedia page, but really there is nothing about him that lasts into Moore's version.  So let us continue.
The world is changing.
It begins with Supreme in space above Earth, but something odd is happening.  It's flickering between two versions of reality.  He also has huge gaps in his memory and his identity seems "confused and insubstantial".  Then he is accosted by three people who also wear the Supreme uniform.  A young looking one, a black woman and a simpler looking version of himself.  He attacks these false Supremes but is then punched hard by a large mouse in a Supreme outfit.

He comes around quickly and the Supremes take him through a portal to "The Supremacy" to keep him safe while "the Flickering" settles down. The Supremacy is a huge island of golden buildings hanging in a white void.  The young one says in 1940 it was nothing, just ask "Original Supreme" about it. He himself is a 1960's "Son of Supreme" and the black woman is "Sister Supreme".

They are welcomed by a huge stone Supreme who laments he got one appearance and that was it for him. It also warns him about "Darius Dax".  Supreme asks Son of Supreme what he means and Son of Supreme says in his reality Darius Dax might not even be his arch enemy. They land and are greeted by "his majesty Supreme the Fifth of the 1960's Silver Dynasty." Supreme is introduced to him as the newest one.
A place of muliple Supremes.
His Majesty and Supreme take a walk and His Majesty fills Supreme in about the Supremacy and how there can be multiple Supremes.  Every version of him ends up in the Supremacy after a "Revison" but it's unusual for a new Supreme to visit the Supremacy before the Revision takes place.

Original Supreme takes up the story, he was born in 1920 and was given superpowers as a child from a form of mysterious metal. He lived a double life fighting crime as Supreme and working as a reporter in his secret identity.  Then one day with no warning he was flung into Limbo along with bits and pieces of his world like the paper he worked for.

Soon other Supremes and their supporting casts arrived, but they were really able to create the Supremacy as it is now when His Majesty, whose backstory was that he was an alien, arrived with his planet that they were able to turn into the Supremacy they are in now.  Supreme is confused, he at least remembers he's been Supreme since the 1940s. But he can't remember much more:

Original Supreme: "Your past hasn't been written yet! You probably popped into being a few weeks back!"

His Majesty takes Supreme to ride in a coach pulled by a sentient horse, the whole Supremacy wants to honour his inaugration as the newest Supreme.
Supreme party!
A crowd of Supremes and their supporting casts await.  Supreme is introduced to Supremes Gold and Silver.  He then meets a couple of the supporting cast of the Leifeld Supreme and Sally Supreme, or Suprema.  His Majesty tells Supreme that multiple varient Supremes seem to pop up before a Flickering takes place:

His Majesty: "It's as if the universe is desperately trying out new variations to get things right. Before it gives up and starts again."

They meet up with the huge brained "Supreme-of-the-Future" who says he's studied Revisions and thinks that they are either a ripple effect from the creation of the first Supreme or  reality has always modified itself at intervals and the Supremes are the only ones who notice.

It's time to say farewell, the Flickering is finished.  So Supreme goes through a golden portal and walks out of a door in the comicbook company office he works for.  After his editor mithers him over getting the next issue of "Omniman" done, he checks his wallet to find out he is called Ethan Crane and goes to the address listed where he picks up a photo of him with his deceased parents outside their store and looks thoughtful.
Supreme's new reality.
The next chapter starts with Ethan travelling to his home town to search for familiar things.  He discovers a grafittied sign saying "Welcome to Littlehaven.  Home of Kid Supreme" and goes looking round the nearby pine forest. He comes across a crater in the ground and suddenly he remembers.

We get a flashback, to Supreme's origins done in the style of the Golden Age of comicbooks.  Ethan is five and goes off into the woods playing with his dog Radar.  Then a meteorite made of white metal falls and starts affecting him badly.  Radar manages to drag him back to the house.

Ethan's hair has turned white and his parents take him to Doc Wells to check he's OK.  Doc Wells says he's returning to normal and he dresses in a safety suit and goes and retrieves the mysterious metal.  He names the metal "Supremium" saying it shouldn't even exist to Ethan's parents.
Supreme gets his powers.
Ethan then starts exhibiting superpowers like X-ray vision and superstrength.  His parents take all this in their stride and make him a suit to wear so people won't know who he is.  And Radar the dog starts showing superpowers as well.  "For many years the Boy of Bronze keeps up an amazing dual existence. Protecting Littlehaven as Kid Supreme".

He creates a secret base under his parents house with robot doubles to fool people.  He even gains an arch enemy in the form of Darius Dax.  One day his parents tell him they're adopting another child and we meet Sally.  At this point in time he decides to leave home for the big city, he creates a base in orbit round the Earth and declares on his final visit to Doc Wells that he is just "Supreme" now.  The boy has become a man.

He fights on the world stage now, including the escalated threat from Darius Dax.  He has a secret life as Ethan, who works for a radio station, and when war breaks out he joins up "a beacon of hope in a darkening world."
Judy Jordan appears.
Back in the present, Ethan is wandering round Littlehaven's main street. Then an old woman accosts him saying she is Judy Jordan.  Ethan pretends to be his own son to account for the age difference.  She says she runs the Supreme Museum now. They go inside and his memory is triggered by a postcard in there and he has another flashback.

Darius Dax has built a robot that has Judy in its claws.  Ethan watches from the crowd and thinks he'll have to give away his secret identity to save her, when another teenage boy dressed as him confronts the robot.  The robot drops Judy and Ethan goes to rescue her but time suddenly stops. A young woman appears and calls herself "Zayla Zarn" from the 25th Century.

She is part of the "League of Infinity, youths from many ages who have banded together to fight crime across time."  He is taken through a door into their time tower.  The Big Bang is at the bottom of the tower and the end of the universe at the top.  They point out his future self higher up and they wave to each other.
Two Supreme in different time zones.
They intervened this time because Darius Dax had stolen the Supremium meteorite so they had Boy Achilles pretend to be him to keep him safe.  They return to the frozen battle and Ethan positions himself under Judy to catch her. Boy Achilles smashes up the robot and takes Darius Dax away, then returns and Ethan is officially inducted into the Infinity League.

We return to the present and Judy takes Ethan out to the cemetary where his parents are buried.  Judy tends the graves as well as the one belonging to Darius Dax.  She says he wasn't all bad, at the end before he died he sent her a religious book.  Judy's grand daughter Hilda runs up and gives Ethan a drawing she has done of Supreme and he says he'll pass it onto Supreme.  He returns home and ponders what he has learned and what is still missing from his memories.
Hilda gives Ethan a picture.
We then get a look at the front cover of the comic Ethan draws called Omniman.  The writer is a English one called Billy Friday and his style is somewhat familiar...

Omniman: "You'll never truly kill me, Great Unwashed. Any more than you could kill Jean Genet, Isidore Ducasse or Malarme!  Not while I can still unnngh.. tear my own heart out in a final statement that juxtaposes art, mysticism and absurdism!"

Sick burn, Alan. Back in the office, Ethan and Diana are discussing Omniman's new direction.  Diana (who writes Warrior Woman) isn't sure about resurrecting Omniman as a Hezbollah extremist.  Billy dismisses her opinion saying this clear out and reboot of Omniman is the way to go.  Diana and Ethan go to lunch and asks Ethan if all British writers are like that.  Ethan just says he met Neil Gaiman at SDCC once, "he seemed stressed."

They part and Ethan gets into his Supreme costume and flies up to his fortress on the sky, "The Citadel Supreme."  He unlocks the door and goes inside and starts wandering its halls as the past slowly starts coming back to him and we get another flashback.

It begins with Supreme takng his co-workers up to the Citadel in his disguise as Ethan Crame.  The robot Supreme is with them and Ethan is flying them all secretly. This is an exculsive for K-Zam the radio station he works at.  But the Citidel is already open and they find a note saying there is a puzzle to solve.
A clue!
Ethan goes off to look and takes over as Supreme. There then begins a tour of the Citidel. "The Hell of Mirrors" where he imprisons all his superpowered foes.  "The Prism World of Amalynth" a planet turned into "coherent light" by the villain "Optilux."  Then the "Menagerie" of lengendary creatures that only exist in "myth-space".

He goes to check the Time Tower.  Aladdin is on his way up and says no one else is in the tower presently.   Then he checks the hall of armaments taken from alien invaders and the sample of Supremium he's synthesised.  He checks the note again and says it all makes perfect sense.  He flies his friends back to the Hall devoted to the "Allied Supemen of America."

The real Allies are hiding amongst the dummies and said they wanted Supreme to show off his detective skills.  He noticed that the note was an acrostic that spelled out "Allies." Supreme goes to "find" Ethan and returns with S-1 his main robot double and they fly back to Earth, the adventure over for now.
The puzzle revealed.
In the present Supreme gets a nasty surprise, he suddenly comes across his dead parents, Judy looking young and Radar his dog.  Then he is confronted by himself who accuses him of messing with his family.  They fight and in the confusion Supreme punches Radar's head off revealing it to be a robot.  "Supreme" keeps attacking and Supreme punches his head off as well, it was "S-1" his prime robot double.

His parents and Judy realise they too are robots and ask to be deactivated which he does, holding Judy sadly as she "dies". Then he sticks up the drawing Hilda did of Supreme and back on Earth Hilda says she has the "strangest feeling" her drawing has been hung up...
Supreme vs. the crazed S-1
The next chapter begins with Diana telling Ethan that Billy Friday is leaving Omniman and she'll be taking over as the new writer.  Apparently the owner of Dazzle comics didn't want Omniman to be an anti-Israel terrorist.  Ethan is distracted though and tells her he has a few loose ends to deal with first before they work together.  She says she has to get ahead on Warrior Woman first, but is looking forward to doing a superhero comic with him, "you just seem to have a real feel for that stuff."

We then cut to Supreme in the deserted base of the Allied Supermen of America.  He starts to have a flashback to them all gathered together to celebrate the new year into 1950, when three witches appear and offer to take them to the future.  This flashback includes material done in the form of E.C's horror and humour lines.  Supreme and a couple of others volunteer to check out Earth in the fifties.  They find it a blasted atomic wasteland, with the pathetic remnants of humanity scraping to get by.

1st Witch: "This is what America will be afraid of in the fifties. Red attack! Nuclear doom! Radiation! You inspired people through a war, but can you give them hope against terrors like these?"

Defeated the Allies ask to go back.  Then we return to the present and Supreme has sent out the call to assemble the Allies.  Glory is the first to arrive.  He says it's good to see her after all these years, she thinks they met recently but her memories are kind of blurry.
Glory in classic Escher Girl type portrayal.
Then Doctor Rocket and his wife Alley Cat arrive and after a quick catch up ask what he wants with them.  Supreme says he's been reading about their last adventure in 1949 and needs to know more of what happened.  So they continue the story.

A second witch takes the next group through.  This time they see human depravity in all its unpleasantness.  A woman is setting up something to kill her husband, the police chief is her secret lover, her son on heroin and the final straw, when they go to warn the husband they find him and his friends are part of the Ku KluX Klan and are lynching a black man, which the Allies puts a stop to at least.
The Allies are out of their depth.
As the witch gloats that they aren't cut out for life in "Gainesville" (a nod of the head to Bill Gaines E.C. editor in chief) and they agree, "we fight super-foes not social nightmares."  And they return just as downcast as the first lot.

"Those were strange times" mulls Supreme in the present.  They fought together during the war, but afterwards it felt like the war had been their only reason for existing. After that they sat around waiting for stuff to happen.  Then Mighty Man flies in carrying in Waxy Doyle. He says "the 1950's happened."

The final flashback takes the form of a charicatured comedy comic.  Glory runs the home and Supreme is her henpecked husband.  She kicks him out to find a job and he runs around in his spotty boxer shorts looking for work as he bumps into charicatures of other members of the allies.  The 3rd Witch then returns them to normal and they sign off with this message:

Witches: "Not only will the fifties be too weird for you.  Not only will the fifties evils be beyond you.  But worst of all, the fifties will laugh at you. So long Antique Surplus of America!"

And the Allies see in the new year in somewhat subdued fashion wondering if it might be time to find new careers.
And thus dawns a new decade...
In the present we are told the Allies disbanded within six months.  Most left superheroing, although the big names like Supreme and Glory carried on.  Glory says she found herself  minding a bunch of prep school girls called the "Danger Damsels" and Supreme says he was always being transformed by different types of Supremium.

A quick catch up as to where all the others are: Roman, Diehard and Super-Patriot in teams now. Professor Night dropped out of sight. Blackhand is in hospital after a stroke and Storybook Smith lost his magic book in 1958 (see Judgement Day).  As for Jack O'Lantern, "who knows?"

Fully caught up the others bar Glory leave.  She gives Supreme a peck on the cheek saying no one will mind him taking some souveniers from the base. He returns to the Citidel Supreme, gets suited up and closes off the science labs as he is about to do some tests on the artifical Supremium in there.

The next chapter starts with an unenthused Supreme taking Billy Friday up to his Citidel Supreme.  We hear in voice over that Billy has started a new comic based on his life, and a good beginning would be to see Supreme's base so can Ethan ask Supreme if he'll take him there.  So for the good of the company Ethan agrees.
Billy Friday comes for a visit.
Billy runs about the place saying how classic it all looks, "is it a post-ironic statement?"  Sourly Supreme tells him he's doing some important experiments right now and could he excuse him.  Billy keeps poking around and when Supreme is not looking gets inside the room holding the Supremium and leans on the case holding it, then sneaks back out.

Ethan is discussing the radiation from the artificial Supremium with two robot doubles, a reprogrammed S-1 and S-2, he's trying to induce a "violet" stage in it.  Then turns his attention back to Billy.  He takes him to the arsenal and Billy asks him what the radiation is, and Supreme tells him its beyond imagining and we get another flashback.

It's Sally's birthday and Supreme and Radar return to his parent's house to celebrate. Then a man, glowing white and violet falls from the sky.  The radiation from him makes Sally "feel funny".  Supreme tells her to get inside and he'll deal with the glowing man.  But the man turns Supreme into a ventriloquist's puppet.
Supremium Man.
Supreme quickly turns back and goes after the glowing man who says oddly, "you're no match for me in any decade!"  And he turns Supreme into steam.  Supreme uses the cold from an ice-cream truck to become liquid so he won't disperse, then goes back to normal.

The glowing man is heading for Doc Well's place.  He breaks in and turns Supreme into a 2-D image.   Doc Wells says that when Supremium turns violet it causes unpredictable effects.  The glowing man rips open the vault holding the meteor and it is violet too.

Glowing man: "Of course!  All Supremium resonates in unison.  In a sense there is only one isotope of it, spread through time."

But then as he absorbs it he becomes smaller and denser until he disappears, from his view space-time is collapsing and he falls right through reality.  Back with Sally and his parents he notes her hair has turned white as well although no superpowers... yet.

Back in the present Supreme wants to get back to his work and so palms Billy off on S-1. They carry on with the tour, then Billy says there is something wrong. And he starts to grown extra arms. S-1 calls over the intercom for Supreme.  Supreme comes to see what has happened and finds Billy is now a mass of limbs and he's multiplying exponentially.
Billy Friday gets out of control.
As Billy gets bigger he poses a real danger that he might destroy the Hell of Mirrors and let the supervillains out.  So Supreme uses the Photon Convertor and turns him into light and this transports him to Amalnyth. Supreme realises he'll have to explain this to the people at Dazzle comics.

Down there, S-1 shows them a two-way video link he's set up so Billy can communicate with the outside world.  He seems happy with the situation, "I can't see how I could be more post-modern if I tried!"  He'll fax them the first issue soon.  The editor thinks this could be a selling point, "even Shooter never thought of this one."

Out on the roof, S-1 bids Diana and Ethan goodbye.  Diana notes how alike they look, although Supreme is taller.  She asks if he had a female side-kick or counterpart and Ethan says she did, "her name was Suprema".

The last chapter we're looking at today begins with Supreme flying through space, as he does so we see a newspaper cutting telling us Supreme is leaving Earth and Suprema will take his place.  He's flying at lightspeed now and flies out past the Galactic Rim.  And he is thinking of her, which starts another flashback.

Suprema is tied to a wheel in hellish landscape while her arch enemy Satana disguises herself as her to take her place.  It began with Suprema hearing someone call for help. A voice leads her down into a magma filled underground canyon.  Suprema says she'll take the girls place because she can't be hurt.

Suprema in trouble.
This proves to be a bad idea as the girl turns out to be Satana and now Suprema is trapped and can only use her X-ray vision to see Satana disguised as her catapault a kitten out of a tree (nooo!) and heartily snog Sally's boyfriend.

Then Lord Sin appears, and when Suprema tells him Satana used deceit to swap places, he says that's against the rules and lets her go.  But as the two Supremas fight and he looks on, he can't tell which is Satana until Suprema catches the kitten who was flung from the tree earlier (yaaay!).  This proves she is the real Suprema and Lord Sin carries off Satana.  Suprema returns the kitten and scolds Sally's/her boyfriend for enjoying the kiss a little too much.

Back in the present, Supreme realises that "Gorrl the living galaxy" is behind Suprema's disappearance.  The newspapers he checked said Suprema gave herself up as a companion for him so he'd leave the Milky Way alone.  Using the isotopes of Supremium in Suprema's body he is able to track her.  He finds someone but it isn't Suprema, it's Radar, his metabolism slowed to a crawl so he can survive out in space.
Radar the Hound Supreme.
Supreme revives him and using the vocoder thing round his neck, Radar tells Supreme that Suprema's home is in a black hole.  He tried to warn Suprema but Gorrl crystalised the ice round him and left him adrift.  He asks how long it's been and Supreme says thirty years.

They finally make it to where Suprema is sleeping on a four poster bed.  Radar licks her hand and she wakes up, surprised to see Supreme back from space so soon.  Supreme tells her because of time dilation with the black hole, thirty years have passed outside.  He's going to take her home, but Gorrl has other ideas.
Supreme, Suprema and Radar manage to escape the black hole.  But Gorrl speaks to them using a pulsar.  He wants Suprema as his companion.  Supreme manages to convince it that it should return to its own kind. He's worried they will reject it but Suprema says that's where he belongs.  And it departs, "goodbye my starry darling" says Suprema.

Suprema asks what Earth is like now.  Supreme says it's worse than ever  "Littlehaven's a ghost town.  Glenvale's gone".  Her boyfriend is middle aged and likely married now.  "Drat" she says.  They fly back to Earth and use Radar's collar radio to let people know they are coming and when they get there a welcome parade in Suprema's honour is in progress.  She is still remembered with warmth, things aren't all bad.
Welcome home Suprema!
So we're halfway done.  It's all very... clever.  Moore doesn't tend to do such obvious meta-commentary usually so this is something of a departure for him and I do get a kick out of the the little nods to the odder aspects of comic's long history.  The first chapter with The Supremacy and the "Revisions" is a great idea for explaining how a universal reboot might be interpreted by the people it's happening to and who are aware of it. The digs at Grant Morrison via the writer Billy Friday are hilarious, considering how intense their feud has got in recent years.  As Morrison was writing "The Invisibles" at the time, a series somewhat notorious for being intensely postmodern, autobiographical and hard to follow it's got to be him being depicted here.  And ironic as well as Morrison would go on to bring us the "JLA" which was a similar restating of traditional comicbook values.  While the Image style modern day set artwork by various artists is OK (and now is as dated as the pastiches are), I can't praise Rick Veitch enough for being able to channel the various Golden and Silver Age styles as well as the EC horror and humour comics for the flashbacks that trigger Supreme's missing memories.  It really is good stuff.  Moore is also doing us his customary world building by giving us his version of the Legion of Superheroes, Supergirl and the Justice League into which he's incorporated Glory, a Wonder Woman knock-off and another of Leifeld's half arsed creations that much better artist and writers have improved on.  There's a background story going on as well which will come to a head at the end of the first twelve issues so check back in a few days time when I finish this volume off.


  1. Wow, I would say that is beyond meta (which ironically would be meta meta)

    But first can I compliment you on some of your wonderful little writing gems. It's funny how just reading:

    "But is then punched hard by a large mouse"

    Can really turn around ones day.

    As for the book itself, I loved the way they really reproduced the various art styles and indeed tone of the past. Triggered some nice nostalgia for me (although would it have killed them to throw in a sea monkeys advert?)

    It's ironic but as you say, the one style that doesn't hold up well is the 'contemporary' stuff. I don't want to sound like one of those grumpy types who harp on about how stuff was better in the old days, but I am so that's how it reads. But for all the post modern type 'edginess' there's more latent kink in that Satana's slave supreme cover than any Marshal Law story. (I like to imagine the girls went for a drink together after they'd resolved the plot)

    And of course I love me a talking dog.

    What's funny is, although I'm not familiar with any of the characters here I totally got all (well, a lot of) the beats and references. Just shows how ubiquitous some of the tropes are and how they get into your subconscious.

    I can't wait to find out what happens next (I'm assuming Satana and Suprema discover that the Littlehaven branch of B&Q is actually a portal to 'Heck'?)

  2. Heh, odd things do happen in comics that I find amusing to treat as nothing unusual. I think the weirdest sentence I had to write was in the "Doctor 13" comic, and it was "They find a hole with a ladder in it, but before they can descend, Mount Rushmore attacks the floating ship." Oddly one of the heads of this Mt. Rushmore is Grant Morrison's. It's a mad comic.

    I can imagine an imaginary past where that Satana's Slave page was used by a fuming Frederic Wertham as PROOF comics were debauching the youth of today! I wonder if it's based on the Lois Lane story cover "The Dummy and the Damsel" which shows Lois whipping a chained up dummy Superman while real Superman is tied up watching. It has the same delicious Freudian overtones of perversity to it. I wouldn't be surprised if that was an inspiration.

    I thought Radar would appeal. You'll be pleased to know The Hound Supreme pops up again :)

    Image style 90's artwork hasn't worn well. But that were plenty of good stuff going on in the 1990's mostly from DC's mature reader lines and other Indie publishers.

    No more Satanna sadly, but you can't have "Superman" without "Batman" is all I'm saying....

  3. Yey! Radar is the hero we need but don't deserve (heh, can you tell how you've influenced me to read up more on modern media?)

    Ooh, Seduction of the Innocent. Maybe that explains me? I'd read just about every UK comic growing up. And you know I was a big fan of Action ("the seven penny nightmare")

    I remember my mum being so embarrassed when they banned it. It wasn't on display (obviously) so my mum asked where it was and the manager of Smiths gave her a big lecture about what a terrible parent she was (she wasn't, she's great)

    There's a lot about my favourite jungle girl genre in SOTI. With hindsight they seem harmless enough (notwithstanding some 'mighty whitey' aspects at times, though it's interesting how progressive some of those comics were about portraying black people. I only found out recently that a black guy was one of the main writers on some of them so that might explain it)

    One of my fave gals though is called Rulah. When she's not getting into fights she spends a lot of time relaxing with what can only be described as her harem! Seriously, just her and a bunch of girls playing with each other's hair. But even in a grnre where there's a *lot*'of BDSM overtones she seems to have spent a disproportionate amount of time being tied up and tortured by wicked women, (another blogger once calculated how many times she'd been hit over the head and concluded that she must have had permanent brain damage)

    Oh and speaking of silliness in comics. She got her standard jungle girl bikini when she crashed her plane on an unfortunate giraffe (she survived the plane crash obviously but somehow all her clothes were ripped off)

  4. Seduction is interesting because it's pretty much why superheroes are the dominant form of comic book. The chapter on the EC comics and the Allied Supermen disbanding after realising no one needs them past the war is very perceptive. After the big WW2 comic superhero boom, interest in superheroes dropped and there were tonnes of horror, humour, detective/crime, western, romance (loads of girls read comics then, much more than non-Manga now), and so on titles all competing for attention. Once Seduction fuelled the with-hunts against mainly the horror and crime titles, the late fifties saw the voluntary formation of the Comics Code and the superhero was revitalised as the type of comics that could be wholesome. There was a linewide revamp of all DC's Golden Age heroes into their new Silver Age versions and when Marvel started it's own hero comic, the now sadly cancelled "Fantastic Four" and obviously shortly followed by many others, the superhero was there to stay. Of course the long slow demise of the COmic's Code makes for interesting reading (TL:DR Alan Moore is mostly responsible) but of course we are speaking of US comics. UK comics sort of got hit by a shockwave but we never had specific guidelines like the yanks did or I reckon we'd not have got the likes of 2000AD when we did.

    I have to admit I haven't read any Jungle Girl genre comics, but I am hopeing to get a big crossover event collection which was spearheaded by Gail Simone that took every female character the company Dynamite owns (including one who appears to be called Jungle Girl) and goes on to depict a multiversal adventure, for Xmas and if it's any good, cover it here.

  5. Oh and that bit about how many times Rulah was hit over the head reminds me of how many times poor old Captain Picard had his head psychologically messed around with and didn't completely go mad after a while. I just thought it was the reason they kept Counsellor Troi around she was obviously a pretty awesome therapist :D

  6. Alien: "Human scum! How dare you enter our space? Prepare to be horribly killed!"

    Troi: "Captain I sense, hostility"

    (How come in the series she's from Betazed; but in the films she's from Tottenham?)

    Just putting together a proper response for you to your main points.

  7. Hah and also:

    Worf: "Alien craft approaching, not responding to hails, suggest raising shields"

    Picard: "We don't know their intentions, try hailing again"

    Alien: "Human scum! How dare you enter our space? Prepare to be horribly killed!"

    PEW PEW PEW!!! The Enterprise lurches, some poor ensing dies when his monitor explodes.

    Riker: "Shields up! Red Alert!"

    Data: "Shields are offline"

    Worf: *facepalm*

  8. Whilst I'm obviously not in a position to criticise a shaven headed Earl Gray addicted Yorkshireman I didn't half feel sorry for Worf at times. Just once Id have loved to hear him lose it.

    "What did I tell you; what did I f*!#ing tell you!!"

    (isn't 'pew pew pew' brilliant btw?)

    But to serious business, I can only bask in your awesomeness at the way you just tied in the actual story, the meta aspects and the history of comics. Although I do think my observations that "Theres a talking dog!" bring a lot to the analysis also. We complement each other well.

    Is that crossover 'swords of sorrow' perchance? (yup, there are some people pretentious enough to use that word unironically). That crossed my radar because it features a few of my fave literary characters.

    JG is unfortunately a Frank Cho creation. In some ways it's actually very good. He's got a real understanding of what makes the genre and he hits a lot of the classic beats perfectly. If only he could rein back a bit on his 'i can draw buxom ladies and dinosaurs' vibe.

    I'm as pervy as the next person (*cough, cough*) but I do think the arse shot to forwarding the story panel ratio could survive cutting back to a 50/50 split.

    Be genuinely interested in what Gail does with the character. The best stories of my (and Mr Co's) fave jungle lass, Shanna, were written by a woman (often using her hubby's name though, very Regency stylee). Ironically they were probably the most visceral.

  9. Yes, Worf had super patience for a Klingon. Much stoic. His worst moment was when Troi broke his wrist and chucked him across the bridge. She was possessed but really...

    Ah my awesomeness shines all around! Actually with some comics where I've had to trim stuff out to keep the posts to a reasonable length, knowing I can chinwag with you (and anyone else out there, all are wlecome) about stuff in the comments means a great deal :)

    Yes, "Swords of Sorrow" is the one. There is a super, mega, bumper edition that collects the main miniseries which co-stars Jungle Girl (I'm mainly there for Red Sonja meself), and then also has all the many one-shots tied in as well. Which I am really curious about because Jennifer Blood is one of them and she's a Garth Ennis creation (covered volume one of her series a while back) so be interesting how she fits in.

  10. Ooh yes, hope I'm not nicking all the bandwidth. Love to hear from other peeps too.

    It's funny how 'posession' is dealt with in fiction. Even when there's no supernatural element it still seems to make you invulnerable. It would be s change to see someone get pummelled.

    "I am Zool!"


    "Yeah, you still just weigh 7 stone though"

    Mind you, Ive met a lot of Cypriot Greek girls (used to live in Haringey) and if anyone can beat up a Klingon...
    Especially if they were annoyed.

    Ah Sonja. I think I put something about her on your relevant post. But I was and am a fan. I hope you add Sos to your ever growing list of things to cover. When I've got some bandwidth tomorrow I'll have a search for that Alan Moore/Tesla Strong jungle pastiche and email you the scans. It's very funny. Be interested in your take on how other Alan writes women. Although I do like some of the girls catty remarks to each other.

    "Shouldn't you be eating that Zebra for your Atkins diet?"

  11. Yes, I've always wondered how that works. Also I tend to query when people get knowledge of a fighting style "downloaded" into their brains like the infamous "I know kung fu" bit in The Matrix. Wouldn't have half laughed it he tried to do a flying kick and faceplanted because his body had no idea how to actually work those moves.

    Ah Greek Cypriot girls from North London. It was one at university who stole my heart and finally made my mind up that yes, gay was definitely what I was. An unrequited love, but we were good friends. Happy days etc. She turned vegan in the third year when we were all back in Halls again, but her family kept sending her huge care packages of cheese. Which she'd just hand out to all who wanted the stuff, mmm.

    I've had popped the next Sonja trade on my shortlist of things I plan to cover which means it's locked in now. Swords of Sorrow is on the long list which means it'll get covered but I'll probably juggle it around a bit. I want to up the number of women creators I feature and I am pretty sure every single SoS comic was written and drawn by women.

    I'll be interested in checking out that Tesla Strog story. There's quite a bit of stuff Moore did during his time at ABC that I have my eye on but so much is out of print and prices really fluctuate.

  12. There's a lot to think about with that whole brain/body thing. Even assuming you had the physical ability to do kung fu I'd have liked it if the first time he did a block he went "Oww!"

    One story idea I was working on (until a mate told me it was identical to something called 'the culture' novels) had characters who could download their consciousness into different bodies and people who normally had 4 fingers being fascinatined by their new pinky fingers. They were also used to having tails like dinosaurs so they had a bit of a thing for falling over when they leaned backwards.

    There was also a bit about sexual attraction and a character who couldn't decide if fancying human women was weird or not ("Ok, *that* would indicate that on some level at least I'm attracted to you"; "Quite a bit I'd say")

    Aww, that's a sweet story. 'Feta is not the only cheese' sort of thing. A shame you couldn't be together but I'm glad she made you happy.

    But yes. Leggings and black puffa jackets will always take me to a happy place too (seriously, that was like a uniform on Green Lanes)

    Yey, Sonja! I like what I read about the new incarnation in your other post. Nice that she's her own person doing what she wants rather than just some avatar of vengeance. Always preferred the lusty adventurer aspects than the compulsion to right wrongs like some chainmail clad Zorro.

    I'm also nicking Strog as a character name; it's got a great sound to it.

  13. Yes, I ate alot of Feta in my final year, but it was OK because despite being on a full grant and holding down a job, I was incredibly tight-fisted so free cheese was awesome.

    By the time my final year rolled round I was pretty much part of the out-LGB (no Ts then) group of students. I have to 'fess up that although I was doing a University of Manchester degree the media studies unit was based in Warrington while they figured out where to put them in Manchester itself. So while me and the rest of the gayers would hire a taxi and go to the Manchester Village and club it, sometimes Greek-Cypriot gal would invite me along to "straight night" and we and a few others would go to the incredibly cheesy "Mr. Smiths" in Warrington. Really dire music, dancefloors paved with broken glass, men lunging at you, most girls under 18, but still fun 'cos I got to dance with her.

    As for Sonja, I think it was very wise to prune the rapiness out of her backstory and give us a dirty, lusty, bisexual, raunchy adventurer. She's fun!

  14. I'd like to imagine thats Sonja's Hello Cupid profile.

    Speaking of dodgy nightclubs, does "Images" still exist in Macclesfield? Oh and whilst I'm doing my stream of consciousness thing, I'm now reminded of a mate who used to be in Hawkwind who had a song called 'Cheadle Hume' (his hometown) that he used to sing to the tune of Needle Gun.

    But I digress, free cheese is awesome. You ever done that thing in the supermarket of trying so many free samples that you're not hungry any more so you abandon your shopping efforts and go home for a lie down?

    (I do have some non cheese related thoughts I'd like your opinion on but I'll stick them in an email if I can find that story tomorrow)

    My law school bit was separate from the main campus, but it was in a lovely building on Highbury Fields so we really appreciated that. Bar school was in Grays Inn, so that was a great spot too. I've been really lucky with educational locations. The best place though was a house in Windsor Park called Cumberland Lodge. It was next door to the Queen Mum's and one time we got invited to breakfast with her and the Queen. How's that for name dropping? :-)

    (I didn't go)

  15. Sonja's OK Cupid profile would definitely state she'd want prospective partners to be "limber" (if book two is any help!).

    I have to admit where I've lived supermarkets haven't been generous enough to offer that many free samples. You're lucky to get one, chiz chiz.

    I'm not sure about nightclubs in Macc, I know there are a couple on the way to the station that have changed hands a few times, I'll keep an eye out.

    Oh get you with your name dropping. About the best I can do is I was taught by most of the academics who created the media studies syllabuses for every other university.

    Top marks for not going to breakfast with the Queen. Reminds me of the time Prince Charles was to come to visit Buxton Opera House and the evil witch who ran the place told me right out that I wasn't to work that day because they didn't trust me not to be rude to him. Which was hilarious, I am very anti-monarchist, but I would have been perfectly polite to his face. Anyway I got paid for a days off which never happened usually so I got over it fast.

  16. Good morning!

    Here's a little light reading for you:


    Curious as to what you might think.

    Oh, and I wasn't making any sort of political statement. It's just that the options were: get up really early, shave, put on best clothes, go to church, then have breakfast OR fall out of bed at reasonable time, put just enough coverings on so as not to scare the horses, have huge leisurely breakfast whilst ignoring everyone and just grunting behind newspapers, then stay in bath for rest of morning.

    Whilst I'm quite happy to say "God bless you ma'am" , on that occasion slobbishness prevailed.

    (I'm sure they got over me not turning up eventually)

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Ooh, have you seen this? It's Garth Ennis so you may well have done.


  19. Sorry about the delay, been freezin' me nips off in Manchesterford all day.


    The Alan Moore/Bruce Timm one is a riot, I actually have the first volume of "Tom Strong's Terrific Tales" (collects all the short stories and non-Moore Tom Strong stuff) but not volume 2 which would have that in it as it's very much one of those "prices prone to massive fluctuation" books. I thought it was sweet and funny and I love Bruce Timm's art, well groovy.

    And the Garth Ennis one, no I had missed that too. How had I not come across lesbian Englishwomen "accidentally" landing near a tribe of Amazons...? Must seek out where it's been collected, looks like it was part of the big Marvel reboot event last year.

    I mooched around in Forbidden Planet today while I waited for my train out to Ladybarn, they had the bumper Swords of Sorrow trade and I had a leaf through. Looks good, when mum does what she usually does for my birthday and Xmas which is to thrust a bunch of tenners into my hands and say "sort yourself out" I shall pick it up. Too late for my birthday now, but Xmas definitely!

    I can appreciate blowing off seeing the Queen for a lie-in and massive breakfast, that's probably a more respectable reason than not being allowed near a Royal because your a yob like me. :P

  20. I thought you might like that one :-)

    Especially that particular cliffhanger.

    (You do know the whole collection is on that site?)

    I like the Tesla one too. It's great how they both deal with all the clichés and tropes of the genre and then subvert them. You could probably put a feminist slant on them as well.

    The artwork was interesting. The secret wars one seemed like a copy of Frank Cho's style. I'm not familiar with the artist so I don't know if it was a homage/pastiche/order from on high, or whether that's their usual look anyway. I like Time's art too. You know I'm not normally a fan of 'cartoony' comics, but this time it really suited the story. I loved the wounded gazelle thing but especially when they were getting hammered at the end. I can't identify though who one of the girls is meant to be, but it's fun speculating.

    Clemmie is a great character. What's weird is I have a friend who looks just like her. Shes even got that outfit!

    Must be chilly up there. I've even had to put socks on down here. I'd have thought a northern lass like yourself would have dressed in layers though! I hope your mum doesn't find out.

    I am a yob too, but I scrub up well. Admittedly that's with the assistance of the world's campiest tailor for my suits and a German fashion designer friend for civilian wear (she takes me to shops and terrorises the staff "bring that, change that, different size, fetch something matching" etc. I always feel so guilty I have to buy something regardless)

    I have a collection of tales (who'd have guessed eh?)about invites to interesting things.

    One of my favourites was a seminar by the head of the FBIs counter terrorism division.

    "Is there anywhere I can leave my coat?"

    "Just stick it on that pile of unattended baggage"

  21. Funny how I like cartoony art and you prefer more realistic but we can both appreciate quality in each others favourite styles. I'm a big fan of Batman: The Animated series from the 1990's which is where Bruce Timm made his name, it's always great when he does some comicbook work which he doesn't do often enough.

    Ah it's so tempting to read the rest of the Ennis story, but I've checked it's on Amazon and I do like to put my money where my mouth is and buy comics and new when I can. So onto the Xmas list it goes. The artist is Russ Braun, he drew most of the final third of "The Boys". It looks like his normal style but refined a little more, he's a good "faces" man, which is something I tend to rate artists by.

    BBC weather tells me it's a frosty 3C in Macc now, but my flat is muc toastier than mum's big house. I have started layering, I just didn't realise how cold it was until it was too late to go back home and pack a shirt.

    When I occasionally worked in smart offices my managers could never get over my ability to look like a drunken tatty hobo even in a suit. I think it's the waist length hair that I refuse to do anything apart from wash and brush.

    Took me a moment to get that joke, but LOL!

  22. Heh, if only it was a joke.

    It was a great seminar but the bloke let slip that he'd started his career doing field work against the mob. So we just kept pestering him about that. He had some amazing tales; it was better than the Sopranos.

    I'm really interested in what you'll have to say when you do read the other 4 episodes of the Ennis story. It's very funny (you'll be pleased to know our heroine has a lovely time. The guy less so)

    "Hey this is great. I'm the only man here"

    "Yeah; and you still haven't figured out why that might be"

    But it also has some gender politics stuff (really, that's the whole point)

    Sometimes a different art style can really help a work. Especially when its in a genre you might not expect. I remember when Brendan McArthey started drawing Dredd. Very weird but brought something fresh to the series at s time it probably needed it.

    I think that guy actually does the Cho thing better than Cho. Get what you mean about the faces. Cho basically only has one look for a woman. There was a little bit going on with the Amazons but Clemmie was very distinctive and she has some great expressions. She goes from (pretending to be) a naif ditz to a very intelligent dominant character with lots in between and he's really able to reflect that in her look.

    If you didn't take a shirt no wonder it got nippy (yeah, I actually went there) but presumably the hair is good for the Godiva thing.

    At least you wash it though. I just shave mine off every few days.

  23. Hmm, I think I might have meant Brett Ewins above. I always get them mixed up.

  24. For a writer who's often stereotyped as the Mr. manly man of Mannington place, Mantown writer, Ennis can be pretty good in his depiction of varied types of women. Oh you'll be pleased to know I've pulled "Fury MAX: My War Gone By" out of the bookcase because I think I'm going to have to tackle it soon while I am still in writing mode.

    I will definitely be getting that book, I'm trying to lay my hands on everything Ennis and Moore have written. The frustrating stuff is how quickly some stuff goes out of print and Amazon chancers keep the prices ridiculously jacked up. /sadface. Still, once Xmas is past I've got more money to play around with so we shall see...

    Oi, I had a Batwoman T-shirt under a fleece, just forgot my stereotypically lesbian check shirt.

    I envy men who can just shave their heads without drawing comment. I'm lazy so just washing and the occasional trim of the ends is the most I'll do. Can't be arsed with hairdos.

  25. And I get Ewins and McCarthy mixed up as well, mainly I think because they worked together on my fave 2000AD series, the 80's Bad Company stories. I refuse to accept any more happened after Danny Franks became the Krool Heart.

  26. Cool. I look forward to reading what you have to say about that.

    *dons black t-shirt*

    Re: shirts

    I used to listen to Women's Hour on a regular journey I had to make. Once they had a feature about lady lumberjacks. There was a bit of a discussion about checked shirts in that. Especially a lass from Washington State who was into grunge. She got to tick a lot of boxes with just the one shirt.

    Kudos on the batwoman shirt btw, no fake geek girl you.

    (they've reissued that citi-def shirt I had but with David Cameron. I don't think that works though, has to be Thatcher)

    Loved Bad Company. And I agree it ended where it did. I remember though there was a minor character who had poisonous blood, which was bad news for any attacker. I remember thinking how cool that was. And the Krool themselves l. They were one of the most genuinely scary enemies in any comic story. I don't think they've been beaten to this day. Managed to be both properly alien but also so grounded in reality. You could genuinely imagine being in tjat situation and terrorified of them. Perhaps because they riffed on Vietnam
    So plausible tjat story; it might as well have been All quiet on the western front. Funny how that was when it was so bizarre but the heroes managed to be so human despite the weirdness of the characters.

  27. Goddammit Biff! *grumbles about being woken up by a cat who hasn't adjusted to the new time*

    The Batwoman T-shirt was a bit of an accident. My sis got it for me for my last birthday, she didn't know it was specifically Batwoman she just saw the Batman logo in red and thought it looked cool. When I explained it was Batwoman's logo and Batwoman is a big ol'lezzer she was tickled. I love it, my fave T-shirt.

    I've actually covered the Bad Company "Goodbye Krool World" collection. I gushed a lot about it, but mainly pointed out how adult I thought the strip was and how Bad Company II which started not long after I started reading 2000AD really blew my mind for how dark it was and was a big part of what kept me reading to start with. And yeah, when I went back and got a ahold of the first series the Vietnam/WW1 parallels were brilliantly conveyed. My only complaint about Bad Company II is that the dude with the poisonous blood doesn't end up doing much.

  28. Cat time is different from ours. It's because they live as an undetermined quantum superstate across multiple realities. It's that whole Shroedinger thing. Basically they're just one big double split experiment. That's why they can squeeze through any gap.

    That's very serendipitous about the shirt. But the universe works like that (hmm, I'm being very philosophical today, must be because i actually got some sleep)

    Just re-read your Bad Company post. I think it was actually the first thing I ever read on your blog. I'm pondering your asses,went or whether it's the best 2000Ad strip. I think some of my favourite *moments* are from Dredd. But of course it's had plenty of time and opportunity for good bits.

    #2 "He made trousers for the justice department. Mine seem to fit ok"

    #1 "When asked to comment a justice department spokesman said 'Move it creep or you'll do time'"

    But as for overall consistency then it is hard to think of anything better than bad Company (the VCs?). Of course the short run stories might have the advantage in terms of 'quitting while you're ahead'. With BC I'm lucky because I don't remember seeing reading the follow up story. By that time I'd lost interest in 2000AD so I was literally just hanging in there until the actual year so it would be a natural place to stop.

    I would ignore any post 'Danny being stuck in that thing' ideas anyway. It was the obvious and perfect ending. Heh, canon is a funny thing. With my usual ability to hold two contradictory views at once I (a) think the whole concept is daft and (b) can harp on for hours about why the 'Morbius Doctors' count (also Z Cars)

    The best post I ever saw about canon was on Gallifrey Base.

    "I'm so hardcore the only thing I regard as canon is the unbroadcast pilot. I don't know what show you people claim to be watching"

    But back to bad company. I really fancied Sheeva. But did you notice that her views on the the arrangement of atoms and the nature of things predates Doctor Manhattan's identical speech by a couple of decades?80

    As to why the story was so good, well you've said everything much better than I could.

  29. I think I am sleeping more than my cat right now. Daily routine goes, get woken at 0500, do some writing and/or gaming, take pain pills, fall asleep around midday until the evening, surf the net, go to bed at midnightish, get woken at 0500 etc etc.

    I have to admit, having recently written up my post on The Ballad Of Halo Jones book 2, and then reread book 3, that might be in strong contention for being considered the best of 2000AD. But I think Bad Company just squeaks it for me. Still if Halo had run for the planned nine books who knows?

    I like that quote about Doctor Who. I'm one of those "it all counts" types. Even when it can't possibly. I need an updated copy of Lance Parkin's Ahistory because mine is cuts off after "The Christmas Invasion" and I'd like to see how he's coped with the explosion in Doctor Who EU material. That said my EU Doctor WHo canon is the Virgin NA/MA's and the BBC EDA/PDA's. I have tonnes of the bloody things thanks to much prowling round charity shops and remaindered book stores in the mid noughties. The audios are a bit pricey for me, I need to grab some of the collected classic comics too.

  30. Going to bed and having one continous sleep is a relatively new thing. In the 19th and 18th centuries especially it was quite common to have an evening nap then get up in the middle of the night and read, talk or play music for a few hours, then go back to bed. So you're just reviving a tradition really. I quite often have a couple of hours here and there at all sorts of weird hours.

    Halo Jones is brilliant (talking dog) but I'm not sure I can count it as it was abandoned. I liked Luiz Cannibal though; I think I'd suit tusks. Some great concepts, like the time dilation on the high gravity world.

    "But you only get paid for 5 minutes"

    I'm not especially familiar with the Dr Who audios. Just heard one I think that they played on radio 6. Orbis?

    They played some great stuff on that though. Loved Tom Baker doing Brain of Morbius on his own (with all the voices)

    Weirdly though, despite not following the EU stuff, the 8th doctor is one of my favourite doctors (although they all are really). Loved that night of the Doctor short. I think it's one of the best episodes ever. It's flawless. And

    "I'm a doctor; but probably not the one you were expecting"

    Is one of my all time favourite lines.

    I also think it all counts. It's a programme tjat explicitly allows for rewriting history and alternate timelines so how can it not?

    Also the TV21 Dalek stories were so good I have to fit them in somewhere.

    Oh, and I'm going to make a little predicton with you. At some stage it will be revealed that the Doctor was responsible for the original Thal/Kaled war.

  31. I generally don't mind sleeping through the afternoons they can be a bit of a drag, but when you have to accomodate other people's schedules it can leave you a bit sleepy.

    It's so frustrating about Halo Jones, all this backstory is being seeded into books 2 and 3 that will never now pay off because Rebellion don't want to hand over the rights to Moore and Gibson. I must say on rereading Book 3 I must give Moore props for ever so subtley (ie: I missed it as a teenager) including a lesbian character. That is pretty cool even though she dies and Halo is oblivious.

    I rate the 8th Doctor very highly thanks to the Eighth Doctor Adventures. They got off to a bit of a shakey start and I thought them blowing up Gallifrey and rendering him amnesiac in a misguided attempt to clear the slate and attract new readers who would be put off by all the continuity was a flawed idea. But there are some legitimately great sci-fi stories in that run and I was gutted when the Past Doctor Adventure line which it obviously became part of once the new series started in 2005 got cancelled and the books aimed downwards at kids.

    The sixth and seventh Doctor got some great stories as well, "The Algebra Of Ice" is actually one of my favourite fiction books in any genre which is pretty impressive for EU stuff. I used to pick up Star Trek EU stuff too, but they never seemed to have the freedom the Doctor Who lines had to really push the boundaries of what they could be about.

    Poor The Doctor if they make him responsible for the Thal/Kaled War, he already kicked off the Time War in "Genesis of the Daleks", how much more guilt can they lay on our emo-Time Lord?!

  32. Continuity is only a problem if it becomes essential to understand the story. After all one superfan's easter egg is another person's noodle incident. I understand how it might be hard striking a balance between not boring established fans with reiterating stuff they're already familiar with and not alienating new people with "Eh, why's he got metal claws?" bewilderment, but there's plenty of examples showing it can be done. I'm not a big fan of origin stories in films I must confess. Sometimes they can be well done. The Hellboy film for example, especially as that was quite short and an exciting little episode in its own right.

    But a lot of the time I'm like "Why did we waste an hour showing how they got showered in x rays or whatever when we could have just started with that big rock guy punching people?"

    Start in media res, and if you make a decent movie you might have a chance to flashback in a sequel.

    Much as I also hate prequels tjat cant live up to what we imagined from the snippets we were told (I'm looking at you Clone and Time Wars) I would like to see at least glimpse of the original Kaled Thal conflict. I have some ideas as to how the 'human' equipment evolved into the Dalek design. Also I think it's established thst the Thals were the aggressors. So it would be interesting to explore how the Kaleds lost their innocence and became essentially Nazis.

    And on a totally different subject, saw the new wonder woman trailer today. It was recommended to me because there appears to be an Edit Garrud reference at the end. I want to like the film generally. Love me a warrior woman and have a thing for IDF girls, but I am put off a bit by some of the very clichéd action shots. If I see one more person leaping of a precipice in slow motion ready to fight....

    I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, but she ain't no Linda Carter.

  33. OH God you are so right about beginning superhero stories in media res. I have ranted to my family before that we don't need a Batman or Superman origin story again. I always thought Grant Morrison did the Superman backstory best for the self contained All Star Superman. It was one page and four sentences then we jumped right into Superman helping out a mission to the sun.

    Also you are right about the Thal/Kaled war. I think there are two big events that need to be shown, how that war started and why the main Whoniverse Cybermen became Cybermen (as opposed to the Cybusmen).

    As for Wonder Woman, I just pray they don't screw it up and have people go blah, blah woman, blah blah. I mean having two men in starring roles didn't make Batman Vs. Superman critically acclaimed now did it?

  34. You got me thinking (as you always seem to do) about origin stories. I was harking to back to various comic book ones. I was formulating a theory that a distinction between US and UK comics was that the UK ones tended just to start with everything established and then over time you might learn how things came about. But then I realised I wasn't sure how US comics originally dealt with this. Like did the first Batman story start with that alleyway thing, or does that come later? Ditto Superman.

    I wonder if writers even know the backstory when they start. Or do they just think, wouldn't it be cool if a character could do 'x' and then worry about how to justify that later? Hmm.

    I wonder if Wagner had Dredd pegged as a clone from the start or whether it just cropped up when he did the (rather wonderful) Rico story.

    Of course the classic example of developing backstory over time is I suppose Doctor Who. Interestingly the Dr and Susan were originally pegged as coming from the 51st century. I wonder if that's why that time period has a special significance in the show.

    One nice way of dealing with an origin was in that comic The Crunch. The main hero was called Fireball. He has a mysterious origina that was only really hinted at. However, if you sent off your 7p postal order and joined the Fireball club you received, inter alia, a little booklet that contained a short story explaining everything about him. And the thing was, the story was great! And it also tied the character with the lead character of another comic (in a way that made real sense). It added a whole new dimension the the stories in the comic. All of a sudden various motivations and actions took on a new slant. You could still enjoy the stories without any of that back knowledge, but if you did know it was a very satisfying feeling of 'Ah, unlike you lesser mortals, I know what's really going on here'

    Hmm, come to think of it, that might have been very deliberate. A way of creating a bond with the readers but allowing them a feeling of being on the inside. That was reinforced because the original story was also the cypher key to little coded messages that appeared throughout the comic. Wow, it's just hit me how clever all that was.

    One of the few Dr Who EU things I've heard was a story called "spare parts". That addressed one possible origin for cybermen (and cleared up a few inconsistencies in TV series). You've probably heard it. If not, it was really well done and quite poignant. The trouble with adapting that for TV is that they did nick a lot of the the ideas for the cybusmen anyway.

    I would like to see some original original (yup, that was deliberate) cybermen I the show though. Kit Pedlar's stories were especially creepy. Possibly because he was a real life scientist so he brow gut a sort of authenticity to the who idea of cyber conversion and what it meant to be human etc. and he really got the total logic thing. That made them worse because they weren't evil. They were just doing the most utilitarian thing. Philosophically it was hard to disagree with them. We only had our Captain Kirk style " but what is this thing called love?" emotions as a counter argument. (Cue discussion about how Spock would have got on with cybermen)

    Also, the ORIgiNAL voicES WeRE REallY sinISTer. PROperLY aliEN.

    I've watched the WW trailer again a couple of times. In some ways it looks really good. But other bits make me go 'uh oh'. I know there are all sorts of legitimate marketing reasons for why films (well, expensive ones anyway) have to me made in a certain way nowadays but I get the feeling it'll end up with there being 45 minutes of a great film in their surrounded by an hour of popcorn movie padding and explosions.

  35. *grrr, re typing due to fascistic character limited and inanity to use cut and paste on iPad*

    Was just going to add that the actor is really growing on me though. Im perfectly happy with eye candy, but it does spoil films for me a bit when they cast someone completely implausible in an action role. Gal Gadot however does have a certain someone that makes her quite believable. There's a certain steely resolve to her. It would be very easy to end up with a situation where sticking some lass in what is essentially a swimsuit in the middle of WW1 could be at best laughable and at worst horribly disrespectful (cf our discussions previously). She doesn't look out of place at all though. I know we've only seen less than two minutes but ironically I think she pulls it off better than the captain america film. You can actually believe she would fit in with those soldiers both within the fiction and also in 'real life'. There's a little bit of the annoying wire-fu going on, bit actually it's the way she carries herself that makes you you believe in her. She does have a certain steely resolve.

    Oh, and was about to address your general point about females leads in action movies, by reference to Black Widow, but that reminded me that the DNL spoof traitor for the BW film just addresses those points perfectly anyway. So if you haven't seen it, remind me to dig it out for you when you get sound back.

  36. I have arisen from my flu wracked bed of pain, so forgive me if I ramble a bit. Anyway, Origins! Actually the US superhero origin stories invariably came after their first appearences, often by quite a few years. And got refined and repeated several times after as well. This is truer of the older heroes like Superman, Batman, Captain America etc though. By the time Marvel kicked off with The Fantastic Four and then Spiderman they were starting with origin stories from the get go and that seems to be the way it is now.

    What's interesting when it comes to DC is that the Golden Age iterations of their heroes are actually different people from the Silver Age interations of their heroes. The Golden Age heroes "retired" and were allowed to age and get settled down on Earth-2 while the Silver Agers became the prime heroes of Earth-1. So sometimes you had the same named heroes like The Flash, sharing completely different origin stories depending on whether they were Golden Ager Jay Garrick or Silver Ager Barry Allen. As well as Legacy heroes who took the name when the current one died as Wally West did when he took over as Flash when Barry Allen was killed off in Crisis On Infinite Earths.

    That's really sweet about that hero called Fireball, reminds me a bit of the Legion of Superheroes fandom and how so much of their club's fanon ended up being written into (one iteration) of the team.

    I have read about "Spare Parts" though not listened to it, sounded like a great story wasted on the frankly awful Cybusmen story. I always thought the Cybermen were a great idea in concept, but being controversial here, were actually done justice in Star Trek as The Borg (trivia note: The story that introduces The Borg is called "Q Who" at one point a list of names can be seen on one of the computer displays of the first six actors to play the Doctor, and Q himself is somewhat like how I'd imagine the Doctor might be if he lacked his companions to keep him grounded).

    I hope the Wonder Woman film is good, it's ridiculous that it's taken a decade plus of superhero films being a licence to print cash to get a female led superhero film on the schedule, though I personally would be more interested in a Harley Quinn film...

  37. Aww, my sympathies. Wrap up warm drink lots of fluids. Etc. (seriously though, hope you feel better soon). Feel free to ramble though; all the best people do. And especially if you're going to ply me with info like that. I am now starting to grasp the concepts of both the multiverses and legacy characters. I'm now just waiting for you to write about how ironman is a teenage black girl so I can say: 'What, next you'll be telling me she isn't even ferrous.'

    On origin stories, I remember reading Killing Joke and not getting the significance of the paint coming off on batman's hand. I'd always assumed the joker just wore makeup anyway. It wasn't until years later when I read death in the family that it sunk in that the joker generally was portrayed like that and it wasn't just Moore being clever in a one off story. (It took me ages to realise Moore was writing as part of the general continuity. I only read the 'special episode' sort of things like dark knight returns and that one where it's the olden days, so I thought it was writers just playing with the characters in a sort of 'here's my take on it' kind of way.

    So obviously with heath ledger I just got confused again.

    Hmm the borg. Look, you know I like you and everything but I'm not sure this is going to work out. It's not you it's me. Actually no, it is you... :-)

    Heh, actually I do get exactly what you mean. Funnily enough I think there's another parallel here that both the borg and the cybermen started off well but then the later stories spoiled them by losing what made them so great and unique as opponents and turning them into moustache twirling regular villains. I did love Q though. John De lancy was a perfect foil to picard. Bad guys are always better when they have a good point. Picard did need his prigishness puncturing at times and also the Q stories did raise some genuine questions about whether humans and star fleet in particular were all they were cracked up to be. Plus all the moral dilemma stuff about what you'd do if you actually had those powers. Covered that 'Time Lord Invictus' thing years before it was properly addressed in Who. And that final episode was brilliant. It was nice to end on the 'aww, they love each other really' vibe that had been in the subtext.

    I hope the WW film is good too. I'm also hoping it will have a bit of the ju jitsu suffragette aspect to it. Another one of my hobby horses as you know.

    Dropped you a couple of emails btw. Including some pictures which I'd like you to regard now as get well cards.

  38. Thanks, the main thing I am feeling is suffocation, the side effect of the synthetic morphine I am on is it completely suppresses coughs. So no matter how much I want to I can't indelicately clear my lungs temporarily and so feel a bit like I am drowning, bleh.

    Now you joke about Iron Man but actually in the 1990's he was killed off and replaced by his own teenaged self for a year or so. It was a strange time. Lucky a universal reset got him back to normal. Handy things those resets.

    Actually "The Killing Joke" was meant to be an out-of-continuity take on the Joker and his origins and it just got folded into continuity later when a different writer decided to use the now paraplegic Barbara Gordon as a character. She became a huge icon for disabled people, so when the two completely servicable other Bat Girls were written out of continuity and her shaking off the disability to be the New 52 Bat Girl, people got upset.

    Now I do have a fondness for The Borg because I fell in love with Seven Of Nine and she basically makes Voyager worth watching. I actually covered some Star Trek comics, including a Borg related one, they are pretty bad. I had to break out the lolcats.

    Q and Picard was a beautifuul bro love story. And yeah, Jerkass did have a point with him. He actually worked well with Janeway too, I think he sparked better off the stuffy Captains. Sisko didn't have time for his shit.

    The final episode of ST:TNG is lovely and Picard sitting at the poker table *sniff* Might watch some Star Trek now to cheer meself up.

  39. Ugh, that sounds awful, like waterboarding crossed with cystic fibrosis. Feel for you.

    I've picked up a bit about the controversy over Barbara Gordon or Oracle as I believe she's known (Argh, what have you done to me! ;-)) I can see how annoying it must have been to people who identified with her. Of course, she started out in a controversial way anyway so maybe that's her USP. One of my mates is in s wheelchair (motorbike) though and his personal icon is Davros.

    Heh, we don't half share a taste in women. Although I always thought that the best thing about 7 was her interplay with EMH. Star Trek could raise some interesting plot ideas but one of its great strengths was wonderful characters and their inter relationships. I suppose that goes back to Bones and Spock, but you had two brilliant actors riffing off each other so well. At the heart of it I think was they both were dealing with what it was like to become an individual and their commonalities and differences in their ways of dealing with that.

    And yes, that poker game was the perfect ending.

    I do wish though they'd ended the whole franchise with that idea of Sisko's 1960s writer alter ego pitching the idea of Star Trek to Desilu studio.

    (or punching Q again, either works for me)

  40. Is my most recent post not showing up? Or have you just not had time to read. It's a long post so I can understand why you might need a bit of time to read it :)

    And yeh the chest thing sucks. Fortunately the aches and pains that come with flu are being suppressed as well. So it's not all bad *swigs from the bottle of Night nurse standing by*

    Also, mwahahaha I will fill your brain with comic trivia!

    I'd never thought of Davros as a wheelchair bound persons role model, but now I come to think of it he's pretty awesome. I'm a huge Dalek fan myself, got loads of all shapes and sizes kicking round the place. My most treasured item is from when I did a couple of days work experience at Cosgrove Hall's studios in the early 90's. One of the model makers there had pitched a Davros of the 80's variant to the kit makers, but got rejected. I have no idea why because it looks amazing and he cast me one, so I have a real one-of-a-kind Davros model on my shelves.

    Seven and The Doctor really were what Voyager was worth watching for, though Janeway could kick some arse too. I thought they made fascinating spins on the Data model of How To Human. As a lady person I always appreciated that Voyager had a woman Captain, woman Chief Engineer and woman in "Astrometrics". None of them in "caring" profession like ST:TNG, although I am very fond of Dr. Crusher and Counsellor Troi.

    That story with Sisko as a writer has been known to induce tears, hem hem hem. One the one hand it would mean no Seven, on the other no (bleh) Enterprise. Hard choice :P

  41. Heh, I bumped back a series of calls to sort out a £1.1M deal this morning to read your post first (seriously!). I'm cogitating. Lots of interesting things there so I want to collate my thoughts. I will give you a teaser that I just loved the pic with Radar sticking his tongue out though.

    Weird you mention Cosgrove Hall. My Manchester girlfriend I've mentioned lived on thst Street (what was it called now?) and I loved tjat she was neighbours with dangermouse. As you probably know, CH did those squiggly animations on Rainbow

    Yeah my mate just likes Davros anyway, but it's hard to disagree that he's the coolest guy in a wheelchair.

    I think star trek always did best when it didn't shine a spotlight on the politics. In the spirit of Gene Rodenberry just having a particular character in a particular role was all that was really needed. I wish they'd gone with the original idea of Majel as number one though (loved her as Troi's mum though, she's a brilliant actor, and that bit where she takes her wig off with Odo is so sweet).

    Yeah, that's my favourite ST episode of all time. And I also have been known to have contact lens trouble when I watch it. It's like something from a different series and I think was the perfect summation of everything Gene was about.

    I do have a bit of head canon that I'll share with you. I wanted Sisko's character to have an encounter with the cops that would would reflect how things would have gone down in the 60s but then meet just one particular liberal cop who listened to him and got chatting with him about his ideas, being an aspiring writer himself...

  42. Ooh I'm flattered! I did include some Radar for you. There aren't enough super pets around these days. My favourite is Streaky the Supercat (of course!)

    I can't recall the name of the road in Chorlton-cum-Hardy the studio was on. I just know that it was close by where we lived when I was a wee baby in West Didsbury (very bohemiam then).

    I know what you mean about Trek and politics, BUT in the hands of a skilled writer and actors they could make a point. I'm thinking mainly of the ST:TNG episode "The Drumhead" where there is a witch hunt led by Jean Simmons and her and Patrick Stewart do an amazing job of portraying either side of McCarthyism.

    I always liked it when Mrs. Troi showed up, like Q it was fun seeing characters who could fluster Picard. Then they go and have a story about her first kid dying and it's totally serious and again, dust in the eyes time.

    I know "Far Beyond The Stars" is explained as blah blah blah Prophets blah, but another layer of meta-commentary would me nice. Like the riot that is "Trials and Tribblations" when they go back in time to original Trek, and that episode gave us the glorious sight of Dax in the old style mini-skirt and boots. Mmm.

  43. I'll pass quickly over the Dax in uniform point, otherwise we risk this thread diverting down a particular road. On a related note I was chatting with another friend about black widow when she casually mentioned "and you know that costume was so tight she couldn't wear underwear"

    Turns out it is literally possible to fall off a chair.

    West Didsbury brings back memories. What's that big pub called?(first place I ever heard push it by salt and pepper. We then annoyed everyone by putting a pound in the jukebox and playing it 10 times) Very Boho though. Does Howard Jones still have his veggie restaurant?

    I always giggled at Chorlton. Not for the obvious reason but because it reminded me of Chorlton and the Wheelies. Ah you're making me nostalgic now. Great memories of that time, including a visit to a pub in Hume where one of my other Manc friends grew up. Nothing is more reassuring than a sign "Pub still open. Despite shooting"

    I'm planning some trips back next year. Be lovely to meet up if you fancy it although I'm slightly concerned the girls I'm meeting might run off with you instead.

    The Drumhead is a great example of ST getting big issues right as is measure of a man. Although ST getting it badly wrong produced one of my favourite quotes of all time.

    You'll recall no doubt the episode with the agender people and despite Jonathan Frakes wish they cast an androgynous man as his love interest the studio went with a pretty conventionally attractive woman. Bit wimpy for a series that (almost) had the first inter racial kiss. But did lead to this gem (which you've probably heard)

    "Thereby turning what could have been a real exploration of gender identity into the story of one brave woman's quest for cock in the face of lesbian tyranny"

  44. Haha yes I've heard that quote about "The Outcast" I think I've used it a couple of times. Star Trek for all its progress screwed up big time with it's lack of LGBT representation. Maybe the new series will do better now Rick Berman and Brannon Braga aren't in charge.

    Jeri Ryan said similar things about her catsuits. She had to be glued into them and said the costume people knew her more inimately than her husband! Funny thing is though that I thought she looked much sexier in the normal blue uniform when she has to do some time travelling undercover shenanigans, like Troi it would have been nice if they could have let her wear that on duty...

    I must admit, West Didsbury was too expensive for me to go back to when I moved back to Manchester and I wanted to be inside the Asian community as well. I think the biggest and oldest pub is The Red Lion? Maybe that? I'll have to ask mum, she and dad obviously did a lot of socialising in that area.

    Hulme though.. used to be bad like Moss Side, but Longsight is the real shithole of Manchester now. I used to go do some shopping there and one time I walked past a car that was randomnly on fire and someone had been shot outside the ASDA.

    A meet up will be cool, though I'll have to try and not let my social anxiety get the better of me. I just need time to psyche myself up. My goal for next year is to a) get back in shape and b) try and meet people in meatspace more, so this would be good incentive :)

  45. Well we can take things at whatever pace you're comfortable with. I think you'd get on with my Manc friends though. They're cool girls and pretty chilled. One of them loves dressing up as 'comic girlies' and the other shares a lot of your pop culture influences so there's a fair bit of common ground.

    Didn't even know there was to be a new series. That'll be interesting. Funny about the sulu controversy and George Takei's view. I love that guy though (in a totally platonic hetero wa, honest). He's like a global national treasure.

    "It's pronounced Takei Bill, rhymes with toupee"

    I'm probably one of the few people who liked Troi's 'cheerleader' outfit. That was more about nostalgia than perving though. Mind you when that 'nasty' admiral took over command and insisted she wear uniform on duty I did sort of think 'quite right too'. He's a good example of designated villain. Looked at objectively what did he actually do wrong?

    I have some thoughts on catsuits, including their practicality. I'll have to set those out in an email sometime (speaking of which, dropped you yet another)

    Maybe we can sponsor each other on the getting into shape thing; like they do in AA? I need to up my game a bit there. Be interesting to get your women's studies expertise on why when my friend in that photo I sent you putd me through exercise I'm like "this is awful, can we stop now? Pleeease!" But when my gorgeous fitness trainer friend has me doing stuff I'm like "sure, just let me bang out another 50 of these first"

  46. They sound cool, I would like to meet you and them, I don't really do much socialising offline outside of my family so I think it would be good for me to get out from behind my PC!

    I am master of the "50 sounds" of Japanese so I've always known how to pronounce Takei *engaged smug mode* I didn't realise there was a controversy around him and the new series, pray tell?

    I didn't mind Troi's bunny suits and liked the green dress a lot, I just thought she looked more professional in the blue uniform. And yeah that Admiral might have made a smoother transition, but the dude had a point in all the things he did.

    I can't even think about getting into shape until a) I am over this flu and b) Xmas has passed as we're one of those families who goes madly OTT when it comes to getting food in for Xmas. January though, aerobic exercise and trying to get some flexibilty back first. Then hopefully I can get on my bike for short distances and work on the muscles as well.

    There's probably some subconcious desire to extra please that kicks in extra hard when it's someone you might be trying to impress. I'd like a fitness trainer gorgeous or not who would follow me around all day slapping sugary crap (my kryptonite) out of my hands!

  47. Oh gawd yeah it's totally that. It's funny because although we're mates and everything I have no particular desires in that regard; yet there still is that blokey thing of living up to expectations in front of girls. Having said that I'm quite open about my laziness with her when we're just chatting and we've even discussed this. She thinks it's funny.

    But yeah I'm going to coast until the new year anyway. It's not a resolution thing. Don't do those and not my new year anyway. But just so much work crap on at present that will hopefully calm down a bit then and give me the time.

    Should have known you'd know Japanese.

    To tie the above topics together, when I'm assistant with the military fitness stiff I like to adapt what I think is the funniest line in the Simpsons which is from the Japan episode:

    "In decadent West you reward knowledge. Here we punish ignorance"

    (substiting success and failure)

    As to George, did you not hear he's unhappy that Sulu is now gay in the new films. Obviously he doesn't have any general problems with regard to gay characters. It's just that he feels it undermines the characterisation he built. I know there's a sort of death of the author thing, but if any actor is entitled to 'ownership' of a character then surely it's George and Sulu?

    Mind you he admits he was wrong about 'dont call me tiny' so who knows?

    My favourite jerk has a point bit is n the original edge of darkness where some toady is sucking up to the 'bad' guy and saying how the hero's tirade against him was all wrong.

    "Really? I think he had me spot on"

    The brilliance of that series though was that both sides had an arguable case for their motives and actions and even better they both acknowledged that of each other (and the other side's criticisms). But I suppose thats a follow on from a rule of drama I was taught. Stories are better when the protagonist and antagonist are equally competent. I think the Mary Sue tendencies for modern heroes and the pantomime villain qualities of their opponents can make things a bit boring.

    I'll have to bore you more about that using my favourite example, comparing the two Rollerball films, sometime.

  48. Suppose I should hit the hay for a bit. I'm enjoying our chat though. Hope you can get some sleep and your lurgy clears up soon. Laters Gators.

  49. I must admit I don't speak or read Japanese sadly, but I do know how to pronouce words when they are written in Romanji (that's the words in English if you see what I mean). Compared to English with all it's exceptions, Japanese is extremely straight forward with the way the syllabyls are put together.

    I didn't know Sulu was going to be gay in the new Star Trek. To be honest I've pretty much written off the new films as STINO (Star Trek In Name Only). They upset me. *cuddles box sets of ST:TNG*

    re: Edge of Darkness. A saying I had only come across recently is that you hero is only as good as the villain they oppose (and vice versa, this was from a doco on the Nightmare on Elm Street films). Make both of them equally compelling and you have great drama.

    I haven't seen either of the Rollerball films, but would be interested in what you have to say. :)

  50. this looks really cool! I'm not into old comics much but here they work really well. shame the image art hasn't stood the test of time though.

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