Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Alan Moore Obscurities: Terra Obscura Book 1 (#1-6)

"I am Lord of the desert wastes.  I am Set the undying, father of chaos...and this is my world now" - Set

This month something a little different with this series hailing from 2003 during what for me is Moore's last great period, his America's Best Comic's one that bought us Promethea, Tom Strong, Top Ten and The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman.  Now what makes this a little different is that he wrote the plot and script outlines but Peter Hogan finished the scripts in detail.  However according to the introduction from Hogan it wasn't a case of Moore sending him the outlines and leaving it at that, he went to Moore's house and worked closely with him thrashing out the final script.  This is an interesting series because all the superheroes featured are ones that were part of a stable of 1940's ones from Nedor comics who had lapsed back into the public domain.  If you check Terra Obscura's wikipedia page there is a link to biography pages of each hero which you might find interesting.  Now this wasn't their first updated appearance.  They actually featured in a Tom Strong storyline, Terra Obscura being the name of an alternative Earth that Tom Strong discovered in 1968 and the heroes there belonged to an organisation called The Society of American Science Heroes or S.M.A.S.H for short The backstory to the heroes in these stories were that they had been in suspended animation since events that took place in 1969 only to come out of it a few years back thanks to the combined efforts of Tom Strong and his Terra Obscura counterpart Tom Strange and are now adjusting to life in the 21st century.  I had hoped to feature that Tom Strong adventure first, but for some reason unlike a lot of other ABC stuff (including this series) the Tom Strong books haven't been reissued and cost a fortune right now, however there is a wikipedia synopsis hereTerra Obscura ran to 12 issues in total, with two storylines lasting six issues each and is availiable as either two volumes or one bumper one - "The S.M.A.S.H of Two Worlds" which I have taken this from.  So without further ado lets enjoy some superhero japery from Moore and Hogan.

The story begins with Carol Carter, the former "Fighting Spirit", now a school teacher in the city of New Lancaster arguing with the school principal over putting the kid of a mafiosa in detention.  She is given a week's leave with pay after she protests that she thought she was supposed to "make a difference".  She arrives back home and chats to her cat as she listens to the news on the TV.

There is some debate as to whether the world needs the superheroes then an ominous story about a puzzling phenomenon taking place at the Grand Canyon, nothing electrical is working there up to a radius of several hundred yards from the canyon's edge.  Then there is an ad break for something called "Terror Incorporated" and how the "Terror 2003" program is making the streets safe once again. This prompts Carol to phone her friend Diana "Miss Masque" Adams in Invertica City and ask if she can come and see her.

We then cut to some nefarious looking individuals who are speaking to a mysterious voice who assures them he can deal with "Bob Benton" who is the person behind Terror Inc.  Bob, known as The Black Terror was killed in the battle that trapped the others in suspended animation but lives on as the computer program The Terror 2000.  The mystery voice tells the villains he'll kill the "zombie version" of Bob for a price.
Diana introduces Carol to Tim and "Bob".
Carol arrives at Terror Inc and is greeted by Diana who introduces her to Tim Roland, he is eighteen years old and was Bob's sidekick with enhanced speed and strength.  Now he is in a relationship with Diana. He and The Terror greet Carol politely:

The Terror: "Science Heroes may be obsolete before too long.  But I am sure the world will always need good teachers".

Tim explains that this is where they monitor things but "Bob" can be anywhere there is trouble within seconds.  Then he is off to a meeting in Washington D.C.  Carol and Diana go off to a diner to catch up.

Diana says she and Tim ended up falling for each other after they worked together setting up Terror Inc.  Carol wonders what Bob thinks about all this, Diana says it's odd.  Sometimes The Terror is just like Bob othertimes just "a machine pretending to be Bob".   So she tries not to think about it too much.  Carol notes she still wears her mask and Diana says it's easier to put on in the morning than eyeliner.  Carol says when her father died her link to their ancestor died and she lost her powers, but sometimes she can still see him.

Carol: "Sometimes I really can see him and it feels like he wants to tell me something, but he never does. It's driving me crazy.."

Later they hail a taxi back to Terror Inc and a supervillain called "The Grim Reaper" gets in a taxi behind them.  He was the mysterious voice promising to take out The Terror.  When they reach Terror Inc he has his taxi pile into the back of the women's then takes Diana hostage.
The Grim Reaper takes Diana hostage.
The Terror appears and The Grim Reaper tells him he's "upsetting the natural order of things, so you have to go".  He tries to neutralise The Terror but fails.  He threatens to gut Diana, but The Terror says she is expendable. Then it fires laser beams at him and boils all the flesh off his bones.  Tim appears and rushes to Diana's side, he says The Terror didn't mean it and he only said she was expendable to rattle the Reaper. Then he tells her the President wants a Terror for every city in the union. Left on her own, Carol rushes to the toilet and heaves in the sink then sees her dad in the mirror and slumps to the floor.

The next chapter introduces us to Grant "The Magnet" Halford who is a detective, he has come to veiw the body of his partner Lance Lewis in the mortuary located in Las Vegas.  The coroner says he appears to have been "flash fried" and is missing his heart.  Grant starts searching Lance's effects to try and find out what happened.  He takes some of the sand found on his clothes and leaves. We get a quick history lesson, that Lance was from the future who came back in time to take part in World War 2, "the last good war". He had vanished a week ago leaving just a cryptic note behind, by the time Grant had tracked him down it was too late.

When he and Lance were revived after their time in suspended animation, they had started a detective agency.  Grant's magnetism powers had gone screwy but Lance knew stuff from the future which was helpful.  Grant is still able to use his ability to find stuff, and it was "a relief not having to wear that dopey costume any more".  He listens to the grains of sand  hoping they can tell him where Lance's body was dumped. They take him to a green glow in the desert and when he gets there he finds lots of green glowing furniture and "The Green Ghost".
Grant meets George The Green Ghost.
He says he's been expecting Grant and tells him to take a seat. He says there was something strange about Lance's death and he has been unable to locate his spirit in the afterlife to question him about it. Grant queries as to why he's interested and The Green Ghost says it is "big cosmic stuff".  Also, Grant can call him George. Grant asks him what their next move should be.  George says if he is right, Las Vegas will soon be a very dangerous place to be.

George: "We must gather allies if we are to fight the approaching evil.  Go back to town, to a club called The Wheel, and find a woman named Betty.  Get her to safety and I will join you there".

Where would that be, Grant wants to know. "Where your path leads you" says George but suspects it is Invertica City and he fades out. As Grant drives back to Vegas he gets a phonecall telling him The Grim Reaper might have been responsible for Lance's death.  He's then told about The Grim Reaper's death and calls up Diana.

Diana takes the call and tells him the police would have the Reaper's sword now.  She invites him for a drink if he is ever in the neighbourhood then hangs up and goes to talk to Carol who is staying over. She tells Carol she dated Lance for a while.  "God, did you date everybody?" smiles Carol.  Diana says she isn't a slut, it was just the movies a couple of times.  They chat some more then Diana asks if she can come back to New Lancaster with Carol as Tim will be away and she doesn't like going to work without him.

Back with Grant he is attending a magic show at The Wheel. After it ends he goes backstage to talk to the magician, the woman called Betty he needs to find.  She knows about George and that Grant has been sent by him.  Then the lights go out. She lights some candles and reveals a strange boarlike creature attacking the audience. Betty takes it down with a knife to the head.

Betty: "This thing started out near the Grand Canyon... it's not just power cuts, it's more than that.  It's like all technology... even the laws of physics... they just don't work any more".

She asks if Grant is ready to make a run for it, they jump in his care and hurtle off towards the airport as Grant muses he never "much cared for Vegas.  And that was before the place went all to hell."
Betty can handle herself.
The next chapter starts with several science heroes, The Liberator, Pyroman, The Woman In Red, The American Crusader, The Scarab and Tim gathered with a general and a senator discussng the strange anomoly.  They call it the "Null Zone" and at the rate it is expanding it will envelope the country in two days and the world within a week.

Tim thinks it's an attack on Terror, it can't be a coincidence an anti-technology weapon started up round about the time the Reaper attacked Bob. They know Terror is going to go nationl and this is their response.  The Liberator says it could be aliens, mad scientists or unexplained phenomena.  They remember that a "Doctor X" had a lab out there and so they decide to go out and investigate. Tim will head back to Invertica and monitor them on their belt cameras.

Betty and Grant are in a bar in Invertica having made it out of Vegas in time.   They are there to meet Carol and Diana, Grant hopes they can give him a lead on who killed Lance.  The two women arrive and after intoductions Diana tells him that the police do have the Reaper's weapon and Grant says he needs to get back to Vegas where Lance's body is.  Betty says "Lance's death is only one piece of the picture here".  They need someone who knows about big, supernatural stuff. They need George.
Calling George...
At Terror Inc. Tim and Bob are monitoring everyone via their cameras.   He hears Diana say she is going to New Lancaster and starts to panic that she is leaving him. Bob ignores him while thinking it might be able to counter the null zone with a counter signal.  Grant, Betty, Carol and Diana sit in a circle and summon George  but he is being blocked from fully materialising though he manages to tell them they need to find Doc Tom Strange.  Unfortunately Tom hasn't been heard of in years. Grant says he could find him if he could touch a possession of his.  Fortunately Carol knows where his secret base is.

They arrive there a Carol has the password to get them in.  Inside are lots of gadgets including a replica of Tom Strong's "Hypersaucer". Grant picks up a bottle of the potion Tom gets his powers from and it starts to resonate.  They all pile into the saucer and Grant tells them to fly south.

The other science heroes are flying towards the null zone.  Suddenly The Lady In Red tumbles from the sky and is caught by The Scarab. The Liberator caught Pyroman but The American Crusader hit the ground and is badly injured.  The Scarab says the null zone affected those whose powers came from science, which his and The Liberator's don't.  As they tend to their injured comrade huge boar-dogs suddenly appear.
Entering the Null Zone.
We return to Tim and Bob, we are filled in on the main suspect Dr.X. He's supposed to be researching inter-dimensional travel.  They run through some other possible suspectd, with one called "Mystico" being possible.  He's wrappped up like a mummy and no photos exist of him before that.   The Scarab can't be responsible, "he's a goody-teo shoes through and through". Dr. Voodoo is another possible and also Tom Strange.  Bob says he needs more data to solve this, and demands to know where the "S.M.A.S.H idiots are".

They are in the null zone and have dealt with the boar-dogs.  The Lady In Red is going to stay with the injured Crusader as will Pyroman.  The Liberator and The Scarab leave them to go deeper into the zone.  Meanwhile, the gang in Strange's Hypersaucer have arrived at Antartica.  Carol doesn't want to be here, it was where her father died, Bob and George as well. Grant says they need to land so they do so. They dress up in cold weather gear and embark on an exploration of the huge alien structure there.  Inside a thing points a "weird looking gun" at them.

Back with The Scarab and The Liberator, The Scarab says he's met Dr. X and that he is "weird and scary".  Scarier than Mystico asks The Liberator?  The Scarab says he is the reincarnation of a priest of Ra, so he's not scared of a mummy. They arrive at Dr. X's place and The Liberator falls through the front door into a void. The Scarab flies down and catches him.  Then a voice tells them to "make yourselves at home... in my dungeons".
Tom Strange is found.
Grant's group are trying to figure out what to do about the being with a gun.  Carol mentions Tom, and at that the being leads them further into the structure.  And there is Tom Strange and the being was his pet talking ape Adam.  He explains to them he's been mapping the structure these past six month, but the others say there is an urgent matter they need help with. 

Diana: "The whole country's under attack and we're pretty sure that S.M.A.S.H are in trouble..."

In Dr X's dungeon he believes the null zone is an attack on him.  He says he just wants to be left alone, he had to kill the others who came looking and now he has to kill them.

Down in the pit with The Liberator and The Scarab is the body of The American Eagle and Eaglet.  The Liberator says he really wants to hit Dr.X and The Scarab says he can then they'll make sure he's tried for murder.  In Antartica, Carol is standing over the grave of her dad. George appears and speaks with Grant saying he should stay and protect Betty. 

Then he goes to see Carol by the grave. After she tells him she was too scared to do the hero thing after she lost her powers, George says "Well child, if the cap fits" and he departs. So Carol puts on the hat that had been left on the grave and the ghost of her father is finally able to talk to her.  She tearfully tells him she's missed him so much, he says he's missed her, but now "we're back in the fight again".
Carol reunited with her father's spirit.
The next chapter has Dr. X trapping The Liberator and The Scarab in dreamy scenarios.  The Liberator tears down the wall of one dream saying they have to snap out of it.   Angrily The Liberator charges, saying "I'm coming for you X...and nothing's gonna stop me!"  But Dt.X is in an impenetrable bubble.  As The Liberator beats on it, X ponders the null zone.

He is not responsible for it, but he thinks it's obvious who has, "and if it is him, then the time has come to leave this planet".  And with that he departs for Dimension X telling The Scarab and Liberator they are unlikely to survive the next few days.  They are left standing there in the desert so decide to follow the strange light on the horizon.

In Antartica, Tom, George, Carol and Diana are getting ready to leave in the saucer.  Grant and Becky are staying behind with Tom's talking ape.  Onboard Carol is in costume now and is happy her father is with her.   The take off and head for the Grand Canyon.

Tom asks George what he thinks they're up against.  He says he's not exactly sure, but it would seem inevitable that those with science based powers will have failed aginst it.  "So the future lie in our hands now, my friend.  Us, and those like us" say George.  Tom briefly manages to raise Terror who demands he come to him.  Tom wants to know how far the null field has grown but he loses Terror again.  Suddenly the saucer loses power and crash lands.  Everyone is safe and George has an idea of how to speed their movement.

Scarab and The Liberator are at the top of a canyon. Scarab offers to carry The Liberator who can't fly.  The Liberator reluctantlt accepts but glugs some liquid to help stave off air sickness.  The a Native American comes out of the bushes and introduces himself as Lone Eagle.  He says he returned from a spirit journey and found all his people gone.  The other reservations are empty too.  It seems they are both investigating the same phenomenon.

Tom, Carol, Diana and George are flying in green construct of Georges.  He tells them it works on the same priciples as a magic carpet.  Tom asks they be put down close to the light.  They land and discover The Scarab, The Liberator and Lone Eagle already there. The Liberator introduces them to Lone Eagle.  He grins at Tom saying this is the second S.M.A.S.H reunion in a week. Tom is surprised to hear it broke up while he was away.
George tells them to check the light coming from beyong the ridge.  And what greats their eyes is a large pyramid in the middle of the Grand Canyon.  Standing in the doorway is a dog masked man, who Tom realises is Mystico.  But who is he now?

George: "Not an ordinary man.  My friends, I very much fear... we're going to have to fight a god"

The final chapter begins with the US President (a black woman) giving a broadcast saying that the armed forces and S.M.A.S.H are fightint to free the country from the darkness that has engulfed the country.

Then we return to our heroes outside the pyramid.  They split up and The Scarab, with Diana and Carol go through the front door. The others are going in high.  Lots of people are walking into the pyramid like they are hypnotised.  Inside is a huge pillar of light shining down from the ceiling.
Inside the pyramid.
The others have entered through the top.   George says he must leave them for now, "this battle must be fought upon more than one level" and he diasppears to attack the foe in his own way. Tom, The Lone Eagle and The Liberator venture further inside.  Suddenly they are confronted by Mystico who demonstrates his power by turning the power giving liquids in Tom and The Liberator's veins into poison, and knocks out Lone Eagle.  He tell them their "potions and primitive magic" could not succeed where science had failed.

Back with the others, Carol's father tell them they need to go deeper down, they find a hole emitting the energy and floating in the middle is Lance Lewis's heart.   Meanwhile Mystico stops poisoning Tom and The Liberator and explains what he's been up to.  First of all his real name is Smenkhkare, a pharoah who once ruled Eygpt.   He was the older brother of Tutankhamun.  We get some backstory, how he ruled for a short time before being murdered and was buried in a tomb with magic seals and locked doors to hold him.

A priest had decided the nation's troubles began with his birth and that he had been possesses by a god. "And the truly curious thing is this... the fool was right" he says.  We then cut to George confronting the god on the spiritual plane.  George asks it why he has bought the country to a halt and the god says because otherwise "that which pretends to be Robert Benton would have eaten the world". But now he, Set, is ruler of the world now.
Smenkhkare actually.
Smenkhkare continues his story, his mummified body ended up in a museum and was revived by a scientist using a "vita ray" machine.  He wandered out into the world of 1940 and soon used his powers to establish himself as a hero.  After the thirty years he spent in suspended animation along with the others he returned to a world "drowning in data, but almost berfet of knowledge".  He decided that it was time to rule over them.

Smenkhkare: "A few generations without machines should cure them, and the survivors will be hardier.  Now, the question is: do you want to be among them?  It's a very simple choice: join me or die."

Tom asks him how he got the power to do this, Smenkhkare says he killed a time traveller. Lance's death caused a paradox "released the kind of energy men have only dreamed of" and by tommorrow the whole planet will be his.

Carol says her father is telling her Lance's ghost is wrapped round the heart generating a time-anomoly.  Because Diana isn't magic she has to be the one to disable the heart and the other two toss her up there and she grabs it.  Smenkhkare winces in pain and his hold over the others falters.  They start punching him.

The Scarab holds the heart and calls upon a trio of Egyptian gods. They weigh the heart and find it to be true and Lance's soul is allowed to move on to wherever he wishes. But Set is still a problem the heroes are going to have to deal with themselves.  But then Thoth decides to bond with The Scarab and everyone congregates where Tom has been punching Set/Smenkhkare.
One god against another.
A truce is negociated.  Terror's activities will be confined just to Invertica.  Set agrees to limit his influence to the Grand Canyon, now to be known as New Eygypt.  Thoth sets up camp on the other side of the canyon, no electrical machines work in either area.  Lone Eagle says his people are happy to secede from the US to live there.

Back in the rest of the US, tens of thousands had died in the panic.  Diana also leaves Tim, although the Terror says he'll always be there for him. Lance's heart is reunited with his body and is buried in a ceremony attended by all the science heroes.  Tom makes a speech saying he's fixed up a new headquarters and that S.M.AS.H will be reformed.

The story ends with Carol, now back as a science hero fulltime moving in with Diana, and they kiss as they are now a couple. Grant and Betty also have got married and are sitting in the diner waiting to meet Tom, Carol and Diana with Adam the talking ape.  Adam has been given his own bubblegum card and gives one to Tipper the diner's boss.  She pins it up saying "from where I'm sitting... it looks like science heroes are back in style again".
Let's end with gratuitous lesbian kissing!
This story was a lot of fun, the use of a stable of public domain characters is a really clever one and they've been bought into the 21st century in a respectful way. It's annoying that I haven't got their first appearance in Tom Strong but hopefully I've written it so it's understandable what had happened to them and who they are.  Obviously it's hard to know where Moore's influence ends and how much of it is just Peter Hogan's work but the two work together seamlessly and we get a compelling mystery that quickly balloons into a possible world threatening disaster.  I also like how in the end the day is saved not by punching but by negociation and concessions. Much praise for Yanick Panquette's chunky pencils and Karl Story's lush, thick lined inks.  Between them we get a modern looking comic that is also channelling an older, more timeless style.  We get a nice set of characters here, the most interesting being private dick Grant Halford and the two women Diana and Carol, and while them getting together seems to come out of nowhere I'm not going to criticise the inclusion of more lesbian/bisexual characters in comics.  This isn't the last we'll see of S.M.A.S.H, there is another six issue arc which I shall look at next month which introduces more Nedor comics characters alongside those we have already met.


  1. Okay... I'm officially too much on the internet. At "And what greats their eyes is a large pyramid in the middle of the Grand Canyon." I almost yelled "Of course! The source of all evil ANCIENT EGYPT! *Picture of the Pyramids while Imperial March plays*"

  2. Heh, my geekism kicked in "Tutenkhamen was like 1500 years after pyramid building!". Still, I suppose it's only like a modern villain using the power of Stone(not actually a)henge.

    I loved this. That old school 'scientific hero' vibe is right up my street. And the artwork is fantasic.

    It is a bit far fetched though, who ever heard of lesbian girls having a cat!

  3. "It is a bit far fetched though, who ever heard of lesbian girls having a cat!"

    I dunno...

    (Warning for aggressive pinkness!)
    -- Jem and the Holograms annual from 2015, and this is from a "Muppet Babies" parody dream sequence. :3

  4. Wow, that is a lot of pink, and lilac. Or is lilac a type of pink? Hmm, that's why I couldn't get into St Martins.

    That kitty seems very happy with the situation though.

    I'll see you your aggressive pinkness and raise you a double pink combo

  5. Malitia: Ahahaha, you know I have just done a marathon rewatch of every episode of Atop The Fourth Wall and somehow I totally forgot to include that reference! Geek fail I am. I did want to include a picture of the pyramid but it was a double page spread and my scanner hates those even more than having to scan from omninuses. I enjoyed the pink.

    @Alan: Now those lesbians only have one cat, but as soon as two lesbians start living together the number of cats multiply. This is a know side effect of lesbianism and should not be feared. Of course get two older lesbians together when crazy cat lady syndrome is kicking in and well... I'm happy with just the one though. For now. *twitch twitch*

    I did think this would appeal to you, it's amazing how many cool old comicbook characters are stuck in limbo waiting for an Alan Moore or Grant Morrison to come along, dust them off and present them to a whole new audience.

  6. We're just celebrating a happy cat story. My mates cat went on one of his occasional walkabouts. He's always comes back (obviously) but it's always a bit upsetting until he does. Anyway he's now turned up. He doesn't even look sorry in the pictures now plastering Facebook, but it's nice to see my friend happy again.

    Speaking of side effects, what superpowers would you get if you were bitten by a radioactive lesbian I wonder?

    But yeah, there's just something really appealing about this older golden age of pulp that just seems missing today. So I love when it's replicated. I'm trying to formulate something about how you'd think modern stuff would be, by definition, more 'progressive' but somehow the women characters in these seem a lot more rounded and capable. I'm thinking it's something like the difference between glamour and objectification and real versus faux action girls.

    You're good at interpreting my stream of consciousness ramblings. I'm sure you'll get what I'm aiming at.

  7. Ah yes, the cat walkabout. I always think of an old Fat Freddy's Cat strip where he disappears for a while and when he returns Fat Freddy showers him in tuna and hugs and his cat says he just goes missing every now and then to stop being taken for granted. Now, Biff has never gone walkabout for long, generally though in summer he'll maybe pop in once a day for food and I have to try and not feel neglected.

    We've spoken about this before but the forties really were a literal Golden Age of heroines, tough capable women like Lois Lane or compassionate strong Wonder Woman being probably the two most famous examples. The fifties really did a number on heroines both as the comics industry coalesced into DC and what would eventually become Marvel and of course the "get back in the kitchen" attitude of the wider culture.

    That said I have desginated next month a month about comics starring or heavily featuring women protagonists and I am pleased that every character is completely different so we finally have female heroes for everyone again. Also you'll like Terra Obscura Book 2, it has "Pantha", Nedor comics Jungle Girl character in it :)

  8. Fat Freddy's Cat is one of my favourite cartoon kitties (Simon's Cat comes close). He's just so authentically cat. I love when he does his poor starving cat routine to beg for food; then gives the game away by burping.

    Yeah, that was a golden age. I think the powerful women also make the male heroes better. It's like they have nothing to prove about their masculinity so theyre not threatened by strong women. And the women are competent completely on their own terms. There's always that slight undercurrent that the women in modern comics are very much 'female (whatever)man'.

    Can't wait to see Pantha. I think technically she's a princess. Not sure of where, but from her outfit it's presumably somewhere with purple leopards.

  9. A fellow FFCat fan! I grew up reading the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and have the comics and collections as well as collections just of the FFCat strips. He's definitely one of the best portrayals of a cat in any medium. Biff has some of his cool attitude for sure.

    Like I said, I think you'll enjoy the varied line-up of female heroes I have next month. It's taken long enough dammit, and I think it's taken the indy comics to "shame" the Big Two into better portrayals as well.

    Pantha is cool, she goes into space wearing a leapordskin bikini number and gets Tom Strange all hot and bothered :D

  10. It used to be such an event when a new Freak Brothers came out cos it seemed they only did one like every decade. Love them though. Really trigger memories. Partly because we have friends who pretty much lived that lifestyle. They were educational though. First time I encountered the word misegination was when they welded the two cars together and got busted in Alabhama. I liked that the cat was the most well spoken of the lot of them. The comics were also very clever though. I don't think anything has ever encapsulated a fascist dictatorship better than just the headline:

    "World rejoices as military sieze control"

    I could harp on for hours about proper heroines. Although now you've got me empathising with Tom! Of course he (in our universe) married a jungle girl so it's clearly a bit of a thing with him.

    There's a Shanna strip where she remarks on the incongruity of always wearing that get up, regardless of environment. Although she comes clean in another story that it's because it's a turn on for her.

    I am very much looking forward though to jungle girl IN SPAAAAACCE!!!

  11. I always thought Gilbert Shelton was unfairly overlooked. Unlike Robert Crumb he genuinely seemed to like his creations and his stuff was funnier too. My parents were old hippies and had a lot of hippy friends in the late 70's early 80's so I could relate a lot to the characters!

    That Shanna strip you mention reminds me of Gail Simone's take on Red Sonja. She doesn't wear the chainmail bikini all the time in her stories but when she does she does it because she's confident and powerful and likes to show herself off.

    I was definitely thinking of you when Pantha turned up in the story :D

  12. You certainly know how to take care of your audience :-D Thank you. Another mate edits a magazine. She always puts a donkey on the cover for me once a year. (No data on whether that boosts sales)

    Totally agree about Crumb. I've always felt an air of almost misanthropic scathing in his work almost contemptuous, bit like Steve Bell. Freak Brothers though are really adorable. You can feel the affection for the characters in the work.

    Speaking of red sonja (may I be permitted a 'phwoar'?) you ever read any of the 'chicks in chainmail' series? Very funny. And from an academic justification some nice deconstructions by women writers.

    Oh, and on the subject of silly outfits, sent you an email.

  13. Ah so you like Ms. Sonja too, well I think ladies month is going to have another nice treat for you ;)

    Which reminds me I still have Swords of Sorrow to pick up at some point. I think I will ask for it as an easter gift then try and figure out how to blog it. As everyone involved in that was a woman I'm pretty interested to see what they made of some of the more problematic characters. Well Gail Simone did a brilliant job with Red Sonja so I assume it'll all be of the same high standard.

    I haven't read "Chicks in Chainmail", sounds interesting. Where would I find it? Is it a book or magazine series? Online somewhere? Don't tease me now!

  14. Very much. I am intrigued to see how she's been dealt with by Simone though. To refer back to my original thing about female versions of male characters, the original Marvel Sonja was very much just Conan with boobs. Suited me, but as you probably know, in the Howard books she's a fairly complex late medieval character. As apt to use her pistols as a sword.

    Swords of Sorrow does sound very much like Simone has said "Let's write some fanfic just for Alan" So can't wait to see that.

    Chicks in Chainmail is an anthology book series. You'll probably be more familiar with the writers than I.

    I especially recommend "Norma Greenbaum, Barbarian Swordperson"

  15. I've covered the first Red Sonja by Gail Simone collected volume in case you missed it. I think you'll enjoy her take on her as a dirty, raunchy, bawdy, bisexual kinda gal.

    I'll have to add that book to my ever growing list. I'm supposed to be saving for an Xbone dammit!

  16. I think I actually commented on that. Certainly read it which is what whetted my appetite for SoS.

    Heh, sorry. Just to make it worse there's a few of those books and they're all equally good. :-)

  17. Oh cool, glad you've seen it. Well she's did eighteen issues in total, three six issue volumes and it'll be volume two next month. It's a fun one.

    And stop dangling temptation in my way, honestly. Good thing I have iron self control *looks shifty*

  18. When I lived in London someone opened a second hand bookshop with a big sci-fi section at the bottom of my street.I spent the next few years transferring the contents of their shelves to my shelves. I could have stopped anytime I wanted to though! *sniff* It's just a cold!

    Ooh more big red on the horizon! Yey!

  19. We have like a zillion charity shops in Macclesfield, I bought a tonne of BBC Doctor Who PDA/EDA's from them. Me book shelves are chock full some shelves double stacked. I still have plenty of room to fill in the second bookcase I have my comics kept in though.

  20. I trust they're all in mylar bags and you only read them with gloves and tweezers.

  21. Heh, most of my trades are in bags, some are too thick though. Sadly I read in the bath so some are abit crinkly, that's bad I know, but relaxing in the bath is my ideal reading time for some reason. If I try reading in bed I fall asleep!

  22. I used to be a fan of reading in the bath. You end up with that thing though where you're never clean from the elbow downwards (or is that just me?). Now though I just tend to soak (I love baths) with my nose above the water. I think I'm part hippo.

    I like that reading in bed makes you sleepy. That's my usual drifting off routine. Of course there is then the danger of 'just one more chapter' syndrome. "Bollocks, it's dawn" has been happening all my life.

    You've inspired me to start collating evidence for my 'jungle girls are the ultimate feminists' thesis, but I'll save that for an appropriate post. Pantha is an example of that though in the original series, so it'll be interesting to see if Moore keeps that up.

  23. I used to be a fan of reading in the bath. You end up with that thing though where you're never clean from the elbow downwards (or is that just me?). Now though I just tend to soak (I love baths) with my nose above the water. I think I'm part hippo.

    I like that reading in bed makes you sleepy. That's my usual drifting off routine. Of course there is then the danger of 'just one more chapter' syndrome. "Bollocks, it's dawn" has been happening all my life.

    You've inspired me to start collating evidence for my 'jungle girls are the ultimate feminists' thesis, but I'll save that for an appropriate post. Pantha is an example of that though in the original series, so it'll be interesting to see if Moore keeps that up.

  24. I have the uncanny ability to fall asleep holding a book or comic trade and wake up in exactly the same position still holding it in my hands. I just don't move at all when I sleep.

    Of course now I've been nodding off over the laptop, I don't think I've put the light out and tried to go to sleep normally since I got it!

  25. Maybe you're quantum locked and you can only move if someone is looking at you?

    Does your 'sleeping' coincide with Biff leaving the room?

  26. Ooglyboggles has put some interesting comments about the Fury story on Mammoth. S'on the 'scare creepy puas' thread.

  27. I just read those comments! Some very interesting analysis there you're right. I do still lurk Mammoth though I tend to let a few posts build up then do a big catch up.

    Actually Biff this time of year never leaves the room, he'll pop out for a bout five mins eat his meal of the day then spend nearly 24 hours fast asleep on the bed. So I'd definitely be in trouble if I could only move when he wasn't about :D

  28. I love Biff's lifestyle choice. Apart from the just one meal a day bit.

    Speaking of cats and quantum locking there's a great book called 'the curious case of Mrs Hudson's cat'. It's a series of sherlock Holmes stories where the solution to the mystery relates to some fascinating aspect of physics. Manages to be both very entertaining (good imitation of Doyle's style) and also very educational. Explains some really complex ideas in an understandable way.

  29. Totally unrelated but now you've got sound you might find this funny. I emphasise 'sound' because you can actually hear my nose snap :-)

  30. A grumpy nearly twelve year old cat is a great role model I find. He's very cheap to feed this time of year too, only need one bag of Go-Cat Crunchy and Tender a week because he is soooo lazy. Unlike a lot of other cats in the family he isn't greedy and just eats what he needs to. He eats a bit more in summer but now he doesn't roam and just patrols the yard all day and sleeps under the tree he doesn't eat much more then. That book sounds really cool, like the Science of the Discworld books, I definitely think I'll pick that up in a couple of months time when I am finally out of my overdraft.

    Also that clip - OW!!!! Ow ow ow ow! Did it hurt a lot, did you have to get it reset? The worst injury I ever suffered was a broken collarbone when I had a spectacular sledging accident aged eight. Considering all the stupid things I did when out mountain biking in my twenties I'm surprised I never managed to top that one.

  31. Grumpy is something cats do so well. And they are my favourite sorts of cat. Kittens are cute, playful cats are fun. But a mate has another curmudgeonly cat (Bandit, the one who went AWOL) and I love how he just deigns to sit on me:

    "Right, I don't want you to stroke me, I don't want any of that chin tickling crap. Your job is to sit still and be warm. Think you can handle that? If you do a decent job I might condescend to glance at you as I get down"

    Ah my nose. Funnily enough a fortnight before I'd been training up another lass. She got the takedown fine but she was really reluctant to do any sort of 'finisher'. But then I saw Els (the girl in that vid) huddle with her. That should have been a warning. So she does the takedown again and just as I'm about to say "that was OK, but you really need..." she took a penalty kick right in my face. Claret everywhere. So my poor schnozz was just recovering when that happened. But you know how really I actually like all that. And it's pretty simple to set a nose. (You do have to get someone else to do it though. It's like how you can't tweezer a nostril hair yourself).

    (I'll be saying more about girls and martial arts when you do your SMASH review :-))

  32. Yeah kittens are adorable but having a full grown cat as active as that is exhausting. I know this because when I first moved to Macc, Biff point blank refused to go out for about six months and he was fair pinging off the walls most of the time. He's chase toilet rolls round the living room, fight with plastic ties from the top of milk bottles and hide under the sofa and leap out at me everytime I made a cup of tea, my ankles were well and truly nipped. Thankfully when he started going out all that ended and now he just sleeps when he is indoors.

    It's always nice when a really grumpy cat takes a shine to you. Some kids I used to babysit for when I was living in Buxton had a cat that apparently terrified many babysitters into not wanting to come. But I used to lie on the floor by their cosy fire and it would come and sit on my tummy and purr like a lawnmower.

    Your poor face! When I did JKD we didn't get as far as going for the face, which is probably for the best. Worst thing I ever had to do for myself was reset my kneecap when I dislocated it. It made a "pop" sound and I remember thinking "well that didn't hurrrrrrARRRRRRGH!"

  33. You do make me laugh. But I totally understand that delayed agony thing.

    It's funny that all baby animals are adorable but baby humans are a bit icky. Or is that just me? I think though there is some science behind that. It's something to do with how humans are technically born prematurely and finish their development outside the womb (there's a proper word for that). It's because of our brains. Our heads have to be so big we wouldn't fit through a pelvis if we waited until we were finished. Note how babies still have squishy skulls for a while. But it's not just mammals. Even baby crocodiles are cute (have you ever heard the little 'chirrup' sound they make? Aww!)

  34. I used to think small babies were icky too, but after my nephew appeared two and a half years ago I thought he was adorable from the start, even though he has a bit of a cone head due to not want to come and having to yanked! Now he a fucking adorable little kid and he'll be getting a brother in three months time as well! It's probably the fact I am genetically related to him that made me think he was the cutest right from the off. I've see some newborn kids that look like turnips.