Friday, 4 November 2016

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

"This is starting to frighten me!  Where in the name of goodness is Supreme?" - Suprema

The second half of my look at the first collection of the first twelve issues of Alan Moore's run on Supreme.  Originally conceived as a kind of "dick Superman" by Rob Leifeld, an angry, XTREME, superpowered murderer, Moore jettisoned that entire backstory in his first issue and rebooted Supreme as a much more traditional Superman pastiche.  His secret identity is Ethan Crane, who draws a comic called "Omniman" for Dazzle Comics.  He has huge gaps in his memory and the gimmick of the series is that when something or someone triggers a memory we get a flashback in the style of old Golden and Silver Age comics drawn by the talented Rick Veitch which contrast nicely with the VERY 90's artwork of the present day sequences as drawn by several different artists in the Image style.  In the first half of my look at this volume we were introduced to several different characters:  Judy Jordan his girlfriend back in the 40's now an old woman with a grandaughter, Billy Friday a British comicbook writer who accidentally mutated himself and is currently inside Amalynth the light world for his own safety, Diana Dane a fellow employee at Dazzle Comics and now the new writer of Omniman and finally Suprema his adopted sister who has similar powers who he rescued from Gorrl the Living Galaxy.  He also reclaimed his Citadel Supreme in the skies above the Earth from his robot S-1 who'd gone mad with loneliness and created a family using robot duplicates of his parents and a young Judy. We also saw him take on his arch enemy Darius Dax in flashback, but Dax is long dead in the present day.  Or is he?  Time to read on and find out.

Suprema and Radar the Hound Supreme have got back into crime fighting with aplomb as the pair of them take down some hostage taking bank robbers in Omegapolis.  Ethan meanwhile is visiting the home of some old friends in the neighbouring Star City.  He arrives at a posh looking manor and is greeted by an old man called Pratap who recognises him and says "I always knew it would be you who finally came to their aid."
Professor Night and Twilight.
It turns out that this is the home of a Batman and Robin pastiche, "Professor Night" and his female sidekick "Twilight".  But for the past thirty years they have been in a strange state.  They are not dead, but their hearts do not beat nor are they breathing. Pratap has laid them out in the basement and taken care of them ever since he found them like that.

He says on the final night they were alive they had returned home agitated and started looking up something in the "Night files."  Pratap found them an hour later collapsed and lifeless.  The debate who of their enemies might have done this and this sends Ethan into another flashback.

We see the villain "Jack-a-Dandy" playing host to a visit from Darius Dax.  Dax has a plan, he has invented a machine that can switch the life forces of two people, a "Transferratron".  Jack asks if that would mean he's end up facing Professor Night with the power of Supreme, but Dax says Night wouldn't be able to control those powers.  So Jack agrees and they issue a challenge to their two opponents.

Supreme, Night and Twilight arrive at the place they have been directed to, and Dax activates the Transferratron. Supreme tries to fly and falls on his face, while Night ends up catapaulted into the air by his new strength.  Jack uses his "sleep snuff" to incapacitate Supreme but Twilight intervenes so the two villains scarper.

As Twilight helps Supreme up, Night starts blasting things with Supreme's super laser vision.  Keeping his eyes closed they all get into the Night Wagon:

Night: "How humiliating.  We've been defeated by each other's powers."

Twilight uses the Night file's computer to discover Jack-a-Dandy's secret hideout then says she has an idea of how to get their powers back in the correct body.
Fooling the enemies.
They travel to Jack-a-Dandy's hideout and find him celebrating with Darius Dax.  With Supreme and Night wearing each other's costumes and Night having dyed his hair white they fool Dax into thinking their changeover had come undone, so he activates the Transferratron again but this time it puts Supreme and Night's powers back in the right bodies.

Twilight then commandeers the machine and switches Dax and Jack's personalities.  Dax is overcome with foppish ennui while Jack can't deal with all the ideas for giant robots and time machines and so on that fill his head. Dax and Jack go to jail and the flashback ends on a laugh.

Ethan changes into Supreme and travels up to the Citadel to start figuring a way to help Night and Twilight out.  S-1 passes on a message that Billy Friday had a disagreement with Szazs the sprite Supreme and is now in the ninth dimension.  Supreme puts on his "Ideospatial Imaging Helmet" to find his friend's lost conciousness.
There is no soul...
He travels mentally through Idea-space and finds the dual conciousness of Night.  He moves inside it, he pokes around his memories, his emotions, his fears but can't find his soul.  He looks harder for it and is confronted by a huge stone block floating in nowhere and scrabbles to get the Imaging Helmet off.

Supreme: "That horrible absence!  That gaping spiritual void!  I didn't see anything of Taylor's soul... Taylor's soul is gone!"

He says to Pratap to show him the last thing Night looked at before he found him lifeless, he thinks he might have recognised the stone glyph where the soul should have been.

It turns out it was the record on "Hulver Damik:  The Slaver Of Souls".  Supreme realises this wasn't a personal enemy, but one Night had made through his "group affiliations".  Damik was a major enemy of the sixties incarnation of the Allied Supermen of America which was called The Allies.  Damik has taken the souls to sell them and so Supreme gathers the currently active members of the Allies to help save them.

The Allies arrive at the Citidel Supreme unsure of what Supreme has planned.  While they admire his base of operations, memories flood back to them.  There is no full flashback this chapter just spoof front covers interspersed in the narrative as they chat and remember stuff.  They recall reforming as the Allies when a giant plant called Florax invaded Earth.
Travelling Idea-space.
They all sit down where Supreme has set up the helmets that'll allow them to access thought space.  While they are in there S-1 will watch over them.   S-1 also passes on the note that Billy Friday has been rescued from the 19th Dimension by Emerpus the reverse Supreme and now he's in the backwards zone.  Supreme sits down, the headsets activate and there they all are:

Supreme: "In the realm of thought, swimming in raw naked conciousness itself".

This is humanity's shared mind-space and as they start to move through it, they reach the part that is human emotion.  Glory doesn't understand why they didn't see all this the first time the bought Ramik down.

Supreme says it's because they were pulled directly into his kingdom by his mind hooks.  And we are shown another front cover with the Allies as slaves under Ramik. Glory rather sardonically points out that from the forties to the sixties "I was getting tied up every other month. I mean was that just me?  Did you guys get it too?"

Supreme says "uh no".  And they fly on into the realm of archetypes and symbols.  The creatures from Supreme's mythopoeic zoo come from here.  This ocean of ideas has sea creatures.

Supreme: "Sometimes I think every angel, demon, god or monster mankind ever dreamed of came from here."

Then they are confronted by a many tenctacled beastie.  They are aggressive so the Allies start fighting them. They realise the monsters actually come from the beginning of the universe.  Supreme says that for them past, present and future are happening at once.  He uses his plasma beams to force them to retreat back into the void.
Squids from the Id!
There's another flashback cover to when the Allies via time travel teamed up with The Allied Supermen of America to fix a problem with the timeline.  They ended up teaming up with themselves via visits from the future or parallel worlds that soon they only knew who was who by minor costume changes.

Supreme says he enjoyed the team-ups, did they continue into the seventies after he left for space.  Might Man says no, they broke up at the start of the decade, "the seventies were sort of.. bleh."  They keep travelling, entering the mind fogs, and finally find a large structure "the Alcatraz of the Soul!"

Supreme scans inside and finds many people in glass tubes, including Professor Night and Twilight and to his surprise, every vanished sixties hero is there too including "The Fisherman" and we get a front cover showing him joining the Allies.

They decide to split into teams, as the powerhouses, Supreme and Mighty Man will go in hard while the others come at it from different directions.  Supreme and Mighty Man then fly down and attack.  The others drop down to give some ground support.

Ramik is there and doesn't want his deal messed up and sets his Soul Snares on them.  But Supreme's laser eyes can deal with them.  The Patriot wonders why Ramik has waited so long to sell the souls, but Supreme says time passes differently here in Idea Space, "what's years to us, may have been weeks to Ramik".

Ramik knows he's outnumbered and surrenders to them.  He says once the Allies disbanded they were "easy pickings".  Supreme wants to know who the client was and what fee he offered.  Ramik says it was someone too big and powerful to argue with and tells Supreme to look around.  He does so and is greeted by Optilux the entity made entirely of light.
Supreme says he thought Optilux was dead, it says no, it became a higher form radiance, "I became spiritual light".  Supreme wants to know why he's been having Ramik collect souls.  Optilux says it is for a "higher purpose".  It's encased each one in cylinders of highly refractive glass, the stored energy will power a machine he calls:

Optilux: "My Rapture Engine, to transform the entire universe into sublime, ethereal luminence that I am already become.  Now I think that's a highly spiritual motive".

The Allies, hearing this attack, but shooting at light is useless. He starts "disintegrating them" and even does it to Supreme.  Who then wakes up on a bed with Glory.

Supreme says they are lost in Optilux's thoughts now.  Glory asks if it is a "mind maze" and Supreme says yes and the others will be trapped in mazes of their own. He also warns Glory that sometimes mazes are inhabited. Optilux fashions creatures out of his photo-plasm.

They are then attacked by manta-ray looking light creations.  They avoid Glory, who says being the daughter of a Goddess has its advantages and Supreme fights them off. They reach the end of the maze and are confronted by an huge expanse of yellow mist.  Glory says they are in for a long, boring walk so Supreme can tell her about Optilux as they travel.

He tells her that Optilux was a messianic alien who turned himself into light and wanted to turn everyone else too, trapping whole worlds in refractive prisms. "His apparent suicide was the reason I left Earth in 1969".  We then get a flashback to the start of "Supreme: The Space Years".
Feels like a Jim Starlin parody here.
It begins with Supreme facing down Jack-O-Lantern who is protecting "the secrets of Eternity" (making him an obvious expy of The Spectre).  Then it jumps backwards to Supreme leaving the Earth thinking he needs to "find himself."  His friends had moved on, his enemies disappeared or like Dax, died. "Strange,  I never thought I'd miss them" he thinks.

He is looking for the threshold of awareness, an answer to the riddles of God, death and existence. A reason for us our universe to be.  But then Jack-O-Lantern confronts him saying Supreme most not come any further, "The threshold you seek is one the living may not pass. Go back."

Supreme refuses, saying he's come this far and attacks Jack-O-Lantern. He passes through Jack into a weird dimension, "the borderlands of being".

Jack-O-Lantern: "I want you to understand the sheer impossibility of what you are seeking.  Beyond these margins, nothing human can survive".

Supreme says he's not human and attacks Jack again who just reforms each time.  He multiples himself and gives Supreme a powerful beatdown.

Supreme spins superfast and knocks Jack off him and stuns him momentarily which gives him enough time to glimpse behind the curtains of knowledge and existence.  It completely overwhelms him and he passes out.

Jack stand over his body saying the abyss gazed back at Supreme and now his memories are gone, he'll have long years of amnesia and recovery ahead of him.

Jack-O-Lantern: "The light I serve burns low, 'tis true. And flickers in the winds of change... yet may its waning light find you, for you are lost...and all the world's made strange".

And the flashback comes to an end. Supreme says he roamed the universe having adventures.  Glory says he was lucky missing those decades, "everything in the seventies had to be relevant and the eighties we're just plain depressing" (a reference to comics discovering social issues in the 70's and darkening and becoming more adult in the 80's spearheaded by some chap called Alan Moore).

They finish walking and Supreme realises he can disrupt the maze with enough electro-magnetic interference. He does so and they find the others and then are standing in the hallway full of heroes in tubes.  He smashes them all and Professor Night thanks Supreme for coming to the rescue.

All the heroes attack Optilux but he just absorbs all the attacks.  Then Supreme has an idea.  He uses his laser vision to melt the broken tube glass into a large glass crystal.  He then baits Optilux into attacking him by telling him he restored Amalynth to material form. Optilux attacks Supreme full on but hits the big crystal he's holding and gets trapped inside, "his light will rebound in here forever" says Supreme.

Trapping Optilux.
All the rescued superheroes can now return to their bodies, and the Allies take off the helmets and find themselves back in the Citadel Supreme.  The Optilux crystal Supreme sent through has also arrived and is in the trophy room.  They all bid their farewells, and Suprema tells Ethan has had several calls from a woman called Diana.  Supreme realises he's got to race to the meeting with her over the Omniman comic.  He flies off.  Suprema notes she's seen that flustered look in his face before. Radar agrees, "he's fallen in heat."

Ethan arrives at Diana's flat, she is happy to see him and gives him the latest update on Billy Friday's situation.  Apparently he annoyed Emerpus so much he sent him back to Earth but in the wrong time period, so Zayla Zarn of the League of Infinity is looking after him now.  He's still faxing the office with his experiences, although he's sounding more unbalanced. "Or maybe it's a British thing" says Diana.

She and Ethan sit and start going through her Omniman notes.  She wonders what a superheroes love life would be like.  Ethan tells her Supreme did an experiment in 1962 to find out what would happen if he got married using a "Possibilitron".  And we get a flashback as he checks out what would happen if he married Judy Jordan.

Unfortunately it doesn't go too well, they are happy at first but she quickly ties him down into a stereotypical domestic existence where he is unable to be a superhero because he's always doing chores and being exploited by their "good" neighbours.

Back in the present, Diana laughs at how fifties that idea was that women wanted to emasculate their men.   She then returns to her Omniman notes and says he couldn't romance Linda Lake without giving away his secret identity, he must have human needs.  Ethan looks longingly at her and says "yes, yes he does."
Diana Dane, his secret love.
Diana stands up and says maybe Omniman should ditch his human girlfriend for someone more exotic.  Ethan then tells her that Supreme carried on his experiment to see what would happen if he married the angel Luriel from his Imaginary Menagerie.

Another flashback.  This marriage also doesn't go well.  She can't visit Earth without people mobbing her for blessings and forgiveness so Supreme sets her up with lots of TVs in the Citadel.  She gets depressed by all the news she watches and starts moulting her feathers. She finally dies in his arms saying "this world of matter and madness" have killed her. Supreme grieves hard but still wants to try for romance.

In the present Ethan says that ruled out relations with beings more celestial than Supreme. Diana thinks Linda Lake is looking like the best option, that a relationship between a mortal and immortal is sexy. Diana wonders though if there is something else they could try, another super-type.  Ethan says Supreme tried that with the final part of his romance experiment.
Superhuman lovers tiff.
We get a flashback to Supreme marrying Glory.  She however starts messing around refurbishing the Citadel to meet her needs.  They end up a bickering couple who take their fights to the meetings of the Allied Supermen.  They end up having a huge fight that destroys a large portion of Omega City.  Supreme then turns off the Possibilitron saying for now the only woman for him is Miss Liberty, the statue.

In the present they decide a human woman would be the best for Supreme.  As Diana talks through the scene where they get together, Ethan starts sneaking an arm round her shoulder. But when she pauses and says the relationship would be dishonest, he pulls it back. She says her not knowing who Omniman really was would be unfair.

She decides Omniman would decide at the last minute that he isn't in a position to become intimately involved.  Ethan looks sad. He leaves her flat looking downcast and when Diana asks what became of the sweethearts of Supreme he responds, "they all got along fine without him".

We end this chapter with Judy Jordan and Hilda.  Hilda has done a drawing which turns out to be a very detailed one of the Citidel Supreme.  Judy tells Hilda to fetch her coat, "you and grandma are going visiting".

The next chapter begins with a purple cyborg thing attacking the Dazzle comics office thinking Omniman is real and that Diana is Linda Lake, he grabs her and Ethan slips away to change into Supreme.  He deals with it easily and rescues Diana, "Cyberzerk" collapses into a pile of junk.
90's villains are rubbish.
Supreme and Diana look down at the wreckage and Supreme starts to reminisce about old enemies to her.  He says he had enough colourful enemies to fill a whole wing of "Supreme World" and starts another flashback to the early sixties, where he's taking Judy Jordan for a tour round the Pallisades which have been converted into a Supreme theme park.

He takes her round the "Hall of Villains" and we get to see some of his foes. Stupendo the Simian Supreme sits at the entrance.  He is friend with Supreme now and compliments Judy on her dress.  The rest of the villains are waxworks, there is Darius Dax, Emerpus the backwards Supreme and Szazs the Sprite Supreme.

Judy is bored and asks to go back to the main hall, then notices the Dax and Emerpus waxworks have switched places.  Supreme says she's imagining things. She wonders if any of his enemies could be hiding here, he dismisses her "female imagination".  They go and look at Optilux, the scientist who converted himself into living light.  And the Televillain, a TV repairman who made a suit that allowed him to invade TV programmes.

Judy still thinks she senses someone following them.  Supreme shows her a model of Supremium Man who fells from the skies in 1956 (the one who gave Suprema her powers). They take a look at the Shadow Supreme a shadow copy of Supreme created by Darius Dax.  Then Judy notices Emerpus has appeared again.

Emerpus comes to life as does Shadow Supreme and freaks Judy out.  But Supreme laughs and says they were acting as a diversion to stop them reaching the main exhibit before it was ready.  And he takes Judy into a room entirely devoted to her, she forgives his prank saying it's a wonderful surprise.  And the flashback ends.

Supreme looks a bit sad at the quality of enemies around now in the 90's and bids Diana farewell.  Meanwhile Judy and Hilda are outside, Hilda says the Citadel Supreme is above them now.  She holds onto Judy and blasts off into the sky, they land outside the front door and Hilda uses her powers to unlock it.
Hilda makes short work of the Suprematons.
Hilda then smashes up all the Supreme robots while Judy sits and watches. Supreme arrives at the Citidel and spots the pile of smashed Suprematons, then hears a voice from the Hell of Mirrors room calling out for help.  He walks inside, spots Hilda but before he can do anything Judy presses a button and Supreme is sucked into the mirror prison.  In some distress he asks why they are doing this because he doesn't have his powers there and he'll be at the mercy of the other prisoners. Judy says to Hilda to tell Supreme "Judy's not who he's talking to."

Several of the imprisoned baddies congregate and take a hold of Supreme. Judy, with Hilda translating it into backwards speak so Supreme can understand it, tells him a story about "the greatest man who ever lived. His name was Darius Dax".  Dax made a big mistake when he was fifteen, he stole a lump of Supremium from Doc Wells (see part one for details of that escapade).

Some people exposed to Supremium got superpowers.  Dax however got lymphatic cancer.  In 1967 he was told by prison doctors he had a year to live. So he built a device that would "digitise and record his memories and personality: his entire mind!"  The computers he did it on were minute, smaller than dust, he put them on the pages of a book, mailed the book to an old friend and then he died.

The book went to Judy Jordan.  When she opened it she breathed in the dust and it started disconnecting her brain linkages and creating new ones.  It took two days to erase Judy's personality and five to rewire her as Darius Dax.  Her body was on the kitchen floor for a week.

He then spent the years watching and waiting.  He built Hilda, "High Impact Lethal Defence Automaton", and she located the Citadel using the drawing she gave Ethan which he put on a wall there.  Dax then leaves Supreme to the mercy of the other prisoners in the mirror world.  He tells Hilda he's going to drop the screens round the Citadel and arm it with the "Planet Smasher".

We then cut to Sally introducing herself to Diana who is eating in a cafe.  She wants to know if she can help Sally find a place to live, when suddenly everyone starts looking at the sky.  The Citadel is hovering right over Omegapolis and Dax makes his demands:

Dax: "Here's the basic picture: by noon, North America will either be mine or it will be smaller.  Then, one pulverised city per hour until surrender."

Dax then decides to take on a more suitable body and transfers his conciousness into the body of Magno which appears to be just lying around the Citadel.
Radar and Suprema to the rescue!
Suprema and Radar go flying up to the Citadel.  Hilda is waiting for them and tells her Supreme is in the mirror prison. She then zaps them and blows out Radar's translation speakers.  Then uses a huge gun to take down Suprema. 

Diehard and Glory also arrive at the Citidel.  But Dax in Magno's body incapacitates Diehard and zaps Glory.  Supreme meanwhile has been dragged to a mysterious being sat on a throne.  We don't get to see its face, and it tells them to get lost, now is not the right time for it to kill Supreme. So the others decide to do it themselves and drag him away.

Down on the ground, Suprema has recovered and uses a live news broadcast to send a message to Zayla Zarn for help from five hundred years in the future. She flies back up joining Professor Night and Twilight who are also coming to the rescue.  Using coordinated eye laser beams Suprema and Radar take down Hilda.

Dax has decided to destroy Omegapolis anyway, but before he can do so, the League of Infinity, with Billy Friday appear.  As the League battle Dax, Zayla Zarn puts Supreme's enemies on pause and gets him out of the mirror prison.  Coming out his wounds heal and his powers come flooding back and he flies at Dax delivering a massive punch to his face.
Pow! Right in the kisser.
Realising he's outnumbered he jets off and makes his way to where the Supremium isotope is being kept.  He picks it up, Billy Friday is nearby and suddenly starts mutating into the many armed creature.  Zayla puts a forcefield round him to stop him expanding any more.  But Dax has absorbed the Supremium saying he wants to "become the Supremium!"  Supreme has a strange feeling of deja vu.

He starts glowing gold then he suddenly falls through a hole that appears under him, which transports him to Littlehaven in 1958.  He was the Supremium man that gave Sally her powers. They see him absorb the Supremium isotope back then and see him become a lump of Supremium that goes back further in time to Littlehaven in 1925, where Ethan got his powers.  And thus a timeloop is created and closed.

The book ends with Supreme having Judy's body kept somewhere safe and comfortable so he might be able to restore her mind somehow.  He goes to the Time Tower to see off the League and waves to himself further down the stairs in 1930's. Supreme then takes to the Citadel balcony to reassure the people of Omegapolis that everyone is safe now and that the ordinary folk of the world are the reason why he does what he does.  The end.
The Good Guys triumphant.
That's not the end of Moore's run on the series.  There is another volume to go, but unlike this one which tells a rough twelve part story, the next scripts are something of a jumble and lack the flashbacks done in a different style.  But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  As for this volume, studying it more closely for these posts has made me find more enjoyment in it than I had before.  There is a lot of fun to be had spotting which characters and storylines he's pastiched and Moore nails the old style dialogue as accurately as Rick Veitch portrays the art.  There's some interesting seeds of things Moore would go on to explore in more detail in later works.  I'm thinking here mainly of the journey into "Idea-space" the Allies go on that seems to prefigure a much more detailed journey through the realms of thought that Promethea would show.  Setting the whole thing up as a time-loop is a very Moore touch as well and I find it fascinating that he made the decision to feature Golden and Silver Age style flashbacks in a comic that was published by Rob Liefeld's company of all people.  I can't help thinking it didn't find a particularly receptive audience amongst the "Image" fandoms and those people who would appreciate the retro-sensibilities would have been repelled by the very 90's style framing sequences.  Still Supreme is an important part of Moore's canon, showing not everything he did during the 90's that wasn't From Hell or Lost Girls was tossed off without much care.  It's a tough collection to track down, but if you're a Moore fan and want to see something a little bit out of the ordinary by him, it's worth trying to get a hold of.


  1. It's taken me quite a while and several readings to digest everything in that story and your review. Literally every paragraph opened up a train of thought or reminded me of something.

    I suppose that's Moores USP. He's just chockablock with meta references and influences. He reminds me very much of Kim Newman in that regard.

    It's like the comic book equivalent of a wiki-walk. An almost infinite network of paths branching off from each other. That's part of the fun of course and what distinguishes Moore from so many other writers who just do disposable mind-gum. There's nothing wrong with that of course. You can enjoy something for the duration it takes to read it and it doesn't matter if it's instantly forgettable. But with stuff like this it's almost like an aftertaste. Like how most of the pleasure from a good wine comes after you've swallowed.

    I can probably explain what I mean to you just be saying Jacobs Ladder.

    There's so much to ponder and cogitate on here. Both about the self contained story itself, but also all the resonances.

    I'm reminded of everything from old Dr Who episodes (cf the mind robber) to philosophy and psychology (cf jung and the collective consciousness) and so much in between.

    I think though that in summary what I'm trying to say is, Yey; more talking dog! Thank you.

    (Seriously, he's so cool and he rocks that Cape)

  2. Surfacing briefly, the cold has moved out of my chest and into my head. It means I can breathe easily again but am a mass of snot.

    You're right about it being a wiki-walk. I also learned to appreciate what he was doing with these 12 issues much better by writing it up for the blog. In some ways it would have been better if his Supreme run had just been these 12 issues and their nicely self contained issues. Unfortunately there is anothe bookful where the scripts were done but he'd been poached to another company so they ended up being a bit jumbled. Although Radar gets his own issue, so you'll at least appreciate that when I cover the next volume! I reckon if I ever find myself in the position to be able to have a dog, I'll nickname him The Hound Supreme. Gotta be done.

    Good call with the comparison to "The Mind Robber", I love that story and it's soooo sixties in someways and so undateable in another. I wish Doctor Who had the confidence to get as weird and symbolic and meta and postmodern as that story nowadays.

    But yes, more talking dogs. I said on the comments for the first half that superpets are a whimsy that modern superhero comics don't seem to have time for anymore. Bring back The Legion Of Superpets I say!

  3. Urgh. Wouldn't it be great if colds worked like they do in cartoons. You know how you can pass them along like tokens so they leave you and go infect someone else.

    Funnily enough when I get colds I still fantasise about a story that I think was in 2000AD. It featured some alien flowers that looked like tulips. Thing is they would sort of grab your nose and suck the cold out and you'd be instantly cured. Wish we had them.

    That is a good name for a dog. In that Ideal programme I mentioned earlier Johnny Vegas has a cat called Mrs Slocombe. That's one of those instant 'we're on the same wavelength' moments.

    To continue my Sarah Jane fanboying, there's a recurring enemy called the Trickster. He plays around with reality so there's lots of standing around in white voids musing on what's real. All very metaphysical. It's probably just a budget thing but it makes for better writing.

    As for modern animal companions theres a brilliant one in an old Dredd tale. Henry Ford a talking cursed earth horse. He's a brilliant curmudgeonly pessimist. Think private frasier from dad's army with an old timey gold prospector's accent. He eventually saves the day and joins that select group of misfits who Dredd comes to admire (fergie, spikes harvey rotton etc)

  4. "How the Rollerball remake demonstrates everything that's wrong with modern filmmaking (and why kids should get of my lawn)"

    Ok, first a summary of the remake:

    In the near future there's a violent spirt called Rollerball. The corrupt corporate executives rig the game to boost ratings at the expense of the players. A bunch of players use their skills to kill the executives who, despite having the resources of a small nation, are easily overcome in a climactic road chase. The end.

    The original. In the near future society is effectively run by corporations. They came to the rescue after a series of wars. Their multinational status meant they could overcome domestic concerns and provide a hub for international stability.

    They create a consumer society where everything depends on globalisation. The whole world is interdependent. So attacking another country would just ruin your own ability to provide necessary resources at home. So there's world peace. They sublimate the urge for violence with sports including Rollerball. Theres a bit of a bread and circus thing going on too.

    However the main point of Rollerball is thats it's a team sport designed to demonstrate one thing, that the individual cannot prevail without the support and contributions of others.

    Our hero is a chap called Jonathan. He's a brilliant player. However his skills and excellence mean people are at risk of supporting him rather than the team as a whole, which undermines the message of the game.

    So what nefarious plan do the bad guys have?

    They ask him to either start being a team player or if he can't do that, retire at the end of the season (on a massive pension)

    The bastards!

    Jonathan refuses so they tweak the rules of the game to make it more dependent on team play. He still won't go along so in the final game they change the rules to prohibit substitutions so as players drop out he's genuinely left to fend for himself.

    Despite this he manages to win the game as last man standing.

    The film ends with the crowd chanting "Jonathan, Jonathan..."

    And there's a load more themes in there too (including from a feminist perspective, the role of women). But it gets you thinking about all sorts of things. Mainly who's right? (if anyone). Corporate culture versus democracy. Benevolent dictatorship versus free will. Individuality versus society.

    It's all very well explored especially as the baddies are so reasonable. When they lay down their ultimatum they do it over drinks. There's a nice quote tjat sums up their position. I'll try to find it for you.

    But anyway, I think it's a great film for demonstrating the points about satire working best when both sided have a point and equally matched opponents.

  5. Actually these quotes generally give a feel for the film so I'll just post the link

  6. I wish too. My breathing got worse again today. Was leaning against a wall panting like a dog to get some air in me and an old lady came up and asked if I was OK >_<

    So have mostly repaired to beg to watch films and play Fallout. And I too wish for cold curing alien flower nosed things. Until then Night Nurse is the best we can do.

    I must have missed Henry Ford the talking horse. And more recently I missed Chief Judge Caligula making his pet fish a judge. Although I don't know if it could talk. My modern 2000AD expert is a little hard to track down these days.

  7. "Bloop"

    (That was pretty much Deputy Chief Judge Fish's opinion on everything)

    Sorry to hear you're still so under the weather. Ha, sympathetic little old ladies. You haven't lived though until you've fallen over on ice and had one tell you about how they get anti falling training and offering to see if they can get you on the next session. (The irony being that my mum used to organise those when she worked for the council)

    I'll leave you in peace to enjoy your night nurse induced film and fallout evening. Really do hope you get well soon though. I feel like I should be doing something productive, but I'll probably just eat biscuits.

  8. I took a pause from biscuits (well actually I multitasked) to draft you an email.

  9. Biscuits are good, yummy, wish I had some now. Feeling abit frazzled but have reacquainted myself with the hot water bottle as a theraputic device. Biff is being very sweet as well and not disturbing me when I sleep which is whenever right now.

    This is why I like to have at least a months worth of blog posts already written to cover illness like this.

  10. These are really posh biscuits. I wouldn't normally buy them but I generally shop by rushing into the supermarket 2 minutes before they shut and seeing what they're trying to get rid of. Yesterday it was biscuits.

    Funny how animals know when you need a bit of TLC. If I was just having a skivey lie in Sas would be tugging at the quilt and pointing out that we were missing a perfect opportunity to go trudging in the rain. If I was genuinely Ill though she'd just lay her head on me and say "you just stay there til you get better buddy, I can hold this wee in as long as you need"

    If you fill your hot water bottle with tea or soup or something you can kill two birds with one stone.

  11. Biff is really responsive to my health and moods. Earlier this year when dealing with the benefits people sent into a deep, deep depression, I was just laying in bed allday marathoning horror films. He'd come and lay next to me so I could stroke his belly and feel a bitbetter.

  12. Yeah, they are pretty amazing aren't they. Hope he's putting his nursing skills to good use for you at the moment.

    I've try to track down that sneeze flower story. Currently I'm thinking it was probably from a strip called 'Hap Hazard' but I can't confirm that. Mainly because I got distracted when some other of Steve Dillon's work came up whilst searching for the relevant picture (I wanted to make you a get well card but you'll just have to imagine). So I ended up on an Abelard Snazz nostalgia strip. That was almost Alan Moore at his pre magus best. He used to have such amazingly funny ideas and Steve D was the perfect illustrator. I'm trying got find one image in particular now. In one of the Snazz stories there are some little worms that are the nicest creatures in the galaxy. Dillon drew them as really cute with little in built halos. But then when Snazz pissed them off they turned really nasty. Dillon was great at just using tiny strokes of a pen to convey emotion and he pulls it off brilliantly there. It's hard to give a worm a personality but the look on their faces is just so perfect.

  13. He didn't nag me at all over the weekend, not to go out nor to have his bowl filled i jillion times, he just let me sleep and slept himself. He's a good kitty.

    Well my head feels like someone has injected it full of wool, but I managed to do quite a bit of shopping today without almost passing out, so hopefully things in my chest are alleviating.

    Imaginary get well cards are very much appreciated!

    I haven't actually read Abaelard Snazz, but it does make me a bit sad how Moore wrote of pretty much all his non-Halo Jones 2000AD work as bad. He does humour really well, and the only other time I can think of when he went all out for humour was The Bojeffries Saga.

  14. The first and possibly only mention of Bradford in 2000AD was in a Moore story. Again it was when he was funny. It was a short future shock types thing about how the universe was run (as if it was effectively just another council department)

    Abelard was a great character. The man with the double decker brain (literally, he had to wear 4 lensed spectacles). Basically the smartest man in the galaxy, his schemes oft went awry. To give an example: when consulting on a planet with a bit of a crime problem he envisaged big police robots. They soon cleared up the regular crime, but then they had nothing to do so they started going after the regular citizens. To occupy the police he created big criminal robots. That was fine but a lot of people got caught in the crossfire. So he created big innocent bystander can see the gist. Same quirky humour later used with DR & Quinch.

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed some of Moores later work that I've seen (watchmen, V, etc), but would just like to see him have another go at those short silly tales. its this whole darker and edgier thing though; but perhaps artists (and indeed readers) should remember that there's nothing wrong with things occasionally just being fun.

    Glad you're starting to recover a bit and that Biff hasn't tried to eat you.

  15. *wakes after a very long snooze* Biff tends to think I am more fun to be around when I am well than not, he's a pretty practical cat that way.

    I do need to pick up Abelard Snazz and all the collected Moore Future Shocks. They are on my list. I don't think dark and edgy is necessarily a bad thing, when he wrote Watchmen and V for Vendetta in the 80's, he was also writing Miracleman (all covered here!) which took the Utopian strand about as far as he took the dystopian one. Unfortunately Miracleman was out of print until a couple of years back so his brighter, more optimistic look at the superhero concept was eclisped by his darker stuff.

    But for me his very best stuff was his revamping of Swamp Thing, the invention of John Constantine who's own comics have been in print since they began in the late 80's and the general refreshing of the DC magical character slate. For me that will always be my favourite stuff he has ever done. Yeah it got very dark, but there was also a powerful and very beautiful love story at its core as well. Worth seeking out.

  16. *wakes after short snooze. tries to reorientate self. analyses dream*

    Cats are eminently practical. It's sort of their thing. Theres a musical about it.

    I'll check out your Miracleman review. Need some reading tomorrow to detract from work. And utopian would be perfect. Anticipating a nightmare day.

    Im quite happy with dark when it's well done. It's that mardy arsed teenager faux edginess for edginess sake that turns me into grumpy daily telegraph reader mode.

    Of course dystopian fiction risks being overtaken by reality tomorrow. I'm not one for hyperbole and I usually roll my eyes at dire predictions about political outcomes; but it is bewildering to me that Trump is still in the running on this. It literally is like the YouTube comments section is running for office. I've already got my Thunderdome outfit picked out. I'm going with distressed leather.

    Some people say 'clichéd' but I prefer 'classic'.

  17. Hah it's FOUR Miraclman reviews, the forst book was so dense I had to split it into two halves. Thought you'd get off easy there didn't you ;)

    I think the main problem was less talented people looked at things like Watchmen and thought it was just the darkness that made them great copletely failing to realise all the myriad of other things such as it's deconstructionist approach made it so good. Also what probably didn't help was that the UK art school invasion of the late 80's wasn't all that interested in applying those lessons to superheroes and pursued more mature non-superhero stuff while those less talented just saw darkness = violence = awesome and we got the whole Image era 90's XTREME!!!1 debacle in mainstream superhero fiction. There was also the speculator crash in the 90's as well that bankrupted Marvel for a while. DC seemed to ride the decade out with more dignity though.

    As for tommorrow, I have my popcorn to the ready, I have tried to reassure my mum Trump won't win by attempting to explain the US electoral collage system to her, but it wound up being a bit like that bit in "The Day Today" where Alan Partridge tries to explain the group stages of the 1994 world cup, so I don't think I reassured her very well.

  18. Ah that's perfect. Will need plenty of reading material after tonight's call from client. "Ok, might need you to tell a few fibs tomorrow"; "Nope"; "Well you don't have to tell certain people everything"; "Can't do that, sorry"; "Well how about you just don't answer your phone?"; "That one I like. To avoid slip ups I'll just leave it turned off"; "What if I need you?"; "Can't risk it; might answer wrong one by accident"

    So, nice skivey day.

    Theres a bit of a parallel with comics and music there I think. Had to critique a potential single recently and the problem was whilst it was an OK song it had some gratuitous swearing in it. Im a huge fan of punk but when comfortably off 30 something white kids just go for shock value not only does it miss the point it just seems silly. Like a toddler yelling 'willies!"

    (Come to think of it, there's a brilliant scene in sid & nancy that encapsulates that perfectly)

    I love alan partridge. He's such a well developed character. What is particularly clever is every now and then he sort of has a point. So you can still sympathise with him no matter how generally awful he is. The first time American friends tried to explain primaries to me it was like that bit from father ted preparing jack for the Bishops visit. So Im with your mum on this.

    "You've got minor women's whiplash"

  19. All hail the power of a good skiive.

    I must admit I quite like a good swear. I'm not allowed to do it much now as my two-and-abit year old nephew will repeat stuff he's heard so have had to curb my rude impulses for now alas.

    Always loved Alan Patridge, he's like Basil Fawlty, in that you can see their points and even feel sorry for them, but can't help laughing as they dig themselves in deeper. Watching "Knowing Me, Knowing Yule" is something of an Xmas tradition for me too.

  20. Swearing is brilliant when it's done right. I think the trick is to be totally unapologetic about it. Nothing worse than half hearted cursing. I tend to either go for no swearing or cute minced oaths or complete docker who's dropped something on their foot.

    I think where both Alan and basil are so brilliant is that their digging is unavoidable. I don't like comedies that could be resolved if someone just explained the misunderstanding. (Thats why I think the wedding anniversary episode of Fawlty is a bit disappointing compared to the others) but when there's no way out its just perfect. And they both have in common fantastic characters and dialogue.

    I love Michaels helicopter rant and its perfect punchline.

    "Oh he's just a mate like"

    So much backstory there but that's all the explanation you need.

    I'm not a big fan of Christmas (love the solstice though). I do have a tradition of always reading or listening to the sherlock holmes story the blue carbuncle though.

    But watching someone get punched with a turkey is funny so maybe will check that out again.

    I love the later series especially. Ive done stuff in local radio and it's a scarily accurate portrayal of what that's really like.

  21. I think what's so funny about "knowing Me Knowing Yule" is that it so elegantly skewered those types of Xmas special they never made anymore played straight after that. And of course punching the Controller of BBC2 with a turkey is always hilarious.

    Xmas in our household is not religious, all my family are atheists (apart from me and my Eastern leanings). We mainly celebrate our family and togetherness and put away ridiculous amounts of food. Even Biff joins in, he's partial to a bit of goose or turkey. Of course now we have to share my nephew with his dad's parents (boo!) but it's our turn for him this year (yay!).

    I must admit I have been going for PG rated oaths, "son of a biscuit" is my current favourite.

    "Peep Show" is I think another show where the characters can't help digging. I ended up having to stop watching that because it was becoming physically painful.

  22. I've never seen Peep Show. I adore Mitchell & Webb though so I should probably check it out.

    One of the best cringe comedies was Curb your enthusiasm. That was genuinely painful to watch. There was one episode where Larry's Japanese friend had arranged for his dad to join them for lunch. He then mentioned "Dad was a Kamekaze pilot"

    I just saw the look on Larry's face and instantly had to switch off. It was so obvious where this was going.

    Anyway, I've got Miracle,an reviews to read and also your new post. I'll see you,over there in a few hours.

  23. I'm a huge Seinfeld fan but CUrb Your Enthusiasm was too much for me (coward!)

    Got the family over today so won't be online meself til later, have a good day sir :)

  24. And have a lovely day yourself. Does Biff enjoy all the extra attention or does he just hide in a huff until everyone's gone?

  25. Biff is very fond of my mum so he's always pleased to see her and he'll always be lurking around at lunchtime for scraps of the meat I cruelly deprive him of. Sometimes he'll curl with us if my nephew isn't being too rowdy, or he'll decide he wants some peace and quiet and go sleep on his perch in my bedroom.