Wednesday, 26 April 2017

DMZ Book 6: Blood In The Game (#29-34)

"This is fucking unreal.  I need protection? Me?" - Zee Hernandez

Back in the DMZ, it's the noughties and with the U.S. Governments attentions being drawn away from home affairs by a series of middle eastern wars the unthinkable happens.  A movement in the midwest begins calling themselves the Free States who declare themselves independant of the USA and establish a capital in Montana.  Almost immediately a second civil war begins, and with U.S forces mostly tied up abroad and many in the National Guard sympathetic to the Free States movement soon the US finds itself pushed back to New York.  Manhattan was evacuated hastily anc chaotically as the Free States approached but around 400,000 were left trapped inside as the island was sealed off.  After much fighting which pushed the Free States back to New Jersey a massacre of one hundred and ninety-eight peace protestors by a U.S. army patrol saw them mostly withdraw from Long Island and negociate a ceasefire.  Now with the FSA to the west and the U.S. army to the east, surviving in the middle are the residents of the DMZ, their stories being told by Matty Roth, a journalist who's been embedded in the DMZ for around three years. With this volume we get the first big shake up of power in the DMZ as a charismatic street politician stands in the first wartime elections the DMZ has seen.  With Matty co-opted into his campaign we finally see Matty's journalistic integrity be tested to the max as he himself becomes part of the story...

We begin with a march that is going out of control, people are holding signs saying "DELGADO NATION" and are coming under fire. Men in red wearing red berets fire back saying "Parco's down! Down!"  The man in question is being held up and Matty confronts a news reporter and yells, "get that fucking camera out of here!"
Matty Roth
We then go back to several weeks previously.  Zee is round at Matty's flat, she says he can come live with her he only likes this place because a gangster is letting him live there and it gives him status.  Matty says doesn't he also get cool points for dating her?  She says "you earn those cool points".

The news broadcast speaks of "ongoing normalisation talks" taking place, as delegates come together with talks of setting up a provisional government in Manhattan.   Matty disagrees and thinks that the talks are the "scourge of lower Manhattan".  Any signs of improvement on the ground is "totally manufactured".  The talks are between the U.S. government, the Free States, Trustwell, the U.N. and representatives of the major militia groups although their inclusion is indicated to be purely honourary.  They are expected to lay down their arms and rejoin the population.

Matty is back doing some reporting for Liberty News, he's going to get full access to the normalisation talks and conferences afterwards, "at least this way I can be a player and not some loser behind a security cordon".  The talks are taking place in Cooper Union, the East Village.   The U.N. troops are Thai and Bangladeshi, "nice to see the world hasn't forgotten about us".

He's surprised that the Free States have been invited and treated as equals, is pragmatism prevailing?  He spots the crowd and asks his U.S. army escort what they have done with the people who aren't here.  The soldier tells him "screw you Roth.  You think we're some gestapo, but most of the time we're barely holding on."  He says no one knows what will happen one day to the next, "fucking 'normalisation' - what's normal about this city?"

Matty goes inside into the press pool, catching up with the latest developments he finds out they are intending to set up a provisional goverment and there will be a real election.

Matty: "The remarkable thing, as fucked up and fractured as this country is, it's still not so far gone that it's given up on the notion it's a democracy.  The cynical part of me thinks it's all an act, but who knows? There are lots of ideas being floated recently, on how to fix things, how to end the war.  But so far, just ideas".

The press conference begins and a four week ceasefire to be observed by everyone, even the paramilitary groups and Trustwell will be observed. This will allow the citizens of the DMZ to safely pick candidates for the provisional goverment.
Step forward Parco Delgado.
The Free States spokesman says that a lot of American lives have been lost securing basic voting rights abroad so they want the same here at home.  Trustwell give their support to the U.S. government and think that their envoy would be the ideal person to head the provisional government.  The militia groups start saying who they support when a man steps forwards called Parco Delgado and he says:

Parco: "This city has thousands of people, hundreds of tribal and local groups, and still the best we can give them is a choice between the same two parties?"

One of the men on the podium tells him to shut up, but Parco goes on to say the peace can't work when the delegates are already chosen, "if a ceasefire is meant to allow us all a chance to participate, why can't we put forward our own people?"  Matty smiles to himself and thinks, "I gotta meet this guy".

Later outside, Matty tries to talk to him.  However Parco mocks him for being on Liberty's leash, "you, Roth, are a tool." Then he laughs and invites Matty over, he says Matty isn't a tool but why does he never go above 59th street? Matty says it's "impenetrable".  Parco invites him over to talk to him on his own turf.

We then cut to Matty and Parco listening to a Liberty News broadcast on the fact a tentative list of delegates will be produced soon.  Parco says the DMZ needs its own candidate, "how the hell do you plan on doing that?" asks Matty.  But Parco won't be drawn further. Midnight, and the ceasefire comes into effect. Parco tells Matty to look at his phone.  Outside Cooper Union a compressed air bomb goes off but it's full of five thousand flyers reading "Delgado Nation" announcing Parco's official candidacy for office.
Delgadi throws his hat in the ring.
Three days later the ceasefire is holding so far.  Matty is enraged that Liberty have rejected his Parco Delgado story, Zee asks if they have said why.  He starts yelling that he has no cell signal too.  Zee reads the email Liberty sent him saying they rejected it for the same reason she told him not to submit it, "you wrote an op-ed Matty... It's a puff piece... you're so in love with this Parco Delgado you wrote him a goddamn press release!"  Matty refuses to listen and stomps out.

Liberty News report that both the U.S. and the FSA have dismissed Parco and not a serious contender, while Trustwell accuse it of being a possible terror cell although the blast he announced his candidacy with has been confirmed as harmless.   Matty takes out his frustrations on a mugger, kicking him repeatedly while he's down.
Party time in Delgado's town.
Matty arrives in Spanish Harlem and Washington Heights where Parco is based, there is a street party going on.  Parco doesn't seem to bothered by Liberty not running Matty's article.  Parco then asks if Matty wants to cover his campaign.

Parco: "Before you answer, make sure you understand: we can sit around, have a few beers, eat some food, laugh and bullshit and have a good time, say goodnight, no problem... or you can join the Nation".

A communications satellite is listening in to their conversation. Matty asks Parco about "impartiality and ethics" and Parco asks if he isn't here on Liberty's say so. He says ethics, impartiality and neutrality go out of the window when the bombs start falling. He tells Matty to pick a side.

He tells Matty he's seen journalists come in before, strutting around like they're above it all, "that notion of objectivity or whatever... it's a fucking coping mechanism... it helps them cope with not giving a shit".  He goes on to say journalists have a built in excuse, they "see people suffering and not feel bad about it"  He tells Matty he isn't like that, "you never had the chance to be that guy".

He says he knows Matty's story and how he puts the people first, "you stick your neck out for the city.  The real city, the people who live here".

Parco: "That's when I knew you were all right, man.  You'd make it.  I had that faith, ya know? Even when others didn't".

Matty realises he means Zee and tell him to shut the fuck up about her.  Parco apologises then says it doesn't matter, "all that matters is what you know."  Up in the satellite one of the listeners calls Matty's father saying "we need to talk".
Parco teases Matty.
Then one of Parco's men runs over telling him to listen to the Liberty newscast.  It has breaking news saying Matty filed paperwork detailing Parco's ties to insurgent groups as well as a number of recent contractor slayings. He's now been suspended from Liberty news assignments and is urged to contact Liberty editorial for extraction and debriefing.

Matty takes a rifle butt to the stomach and his phone rings.  Parco picks it up and answers it, then passes it on to Matty saying it's his old man. Matty speaks with him, his dad tells him that Parco is "not some romantic freedom fighter for the people, he's not Che, he's not Mao, he's not Chavez, nothing like that.  He's a gangbanger, a fucking ghetto thug with blood all over his hands".

Matty asks if he's just saying that because Parco is black?  His father says he should know him better than that, he talks a good game but "you can't seriously see the next leader of Manhattan, can you?"  Parco embraces Matty who says "I'm in man.  I'd never rat you out". Then he has another call come through, it's from a middle-aged woman in an aeroplane. "Don't answer the phone that way, Matthew.  It's rude, and 'yo' is not a word" she scolds him.  "" replies Matty in shocked surprise.
Matty's mum.
Matty's mum is flown into the DMZ by helicopter, "oh my god" she says, "'s so beautiful".  Waiting to meet her is a very freaked out Matty flanked by Zee and Wilson. Wilson greets her effusively, while Zee offers a cold "hi". His mum goes up to Matty and embraces him saying "just shut up and be a good little boy, okay?"

Matty: "America broke her heart and that's why she left, my mother was fond of telling people.  But all the Delgado Nation had to do was whisper a promise and here she is, back again like she never left".

She embarrasses him by acting like a socialite, even though the cab she "hailed" was sent by the Nation.  As he sits in the car with her he feels like he's fifteen again.

She's a political consultant, he didn't know much about what she did growing up, just that she and his dad fought about it constantly.  When people began choosing sides she couldn't deal and bolted to Europe.  He wonders if his dad was always so right-wing or if she drove him to it, "I think I finally got some empathy for the old man".

Parco is on day five of a twelve day speaking tour round the city.  Rallies, block parties, D.I.Y. radio shows... he never seems to sleep.  At one of the rallies Zee comes to see Matty and check out Parco, she's somewhat perturbed by being assigned some of Parco's men as protection because she knows Matty.

She flips out saying she doesn't need protection, "in my city?" Matty says it's just a sort of perk of the job.  She says the whole Delgado Nation sounds fascist and his mum "fucking hates" her.   She leaves saying she'd just like to see him once in a while, "it took a lot for me to get into any kind of relationship.. I'm not ready for it to be over so quick".  She goes home, and Matty goes back to work.
Matty and Zee, under some strain.
Parco is finishing up a speech while Matty is being readied for an interview over the radio but also on camera.  He is asked if he has signed onto the Delgado Nation, Parco being a noted thug and racist has appeared to have elected himself the peoples representative within the DMZ.  So is Matty a resident of this "Nation" or does he just live in it?

Matty: "I live in the DMZ.  Where you don't.  If you did you might have a sense of how someone like Parco could rise up.  He hasn't elected himself to anything... isn't that the point of this all?  To have an election?  Parco Delgado is trying to get on the ticket.  He's got the signatures for it.  Anything beyond that is in the hands of voters".

The interveiwer says this election is symbolic, there is already an envoy and administrator appointed to the borough of Manhattan. Matty responds there was no mention of this person until Parco started gaining traction.  He dug around and this person has never visited the DMZ, let alone administered it.

Because the U.S. thought they had the election in the bag, now it's not so cut and dried, they haul out this mystery admin.  And saying the DMZ has a provisional leader who has been bunkered down for the past five years, now they are downplaying the need for an election which is a slap in the face to the residents of the DMZ, the Free States and everyone involved. The interviewer persists saying he is the presidentially appointed leader of the city, but Matty responds that the "DMZ needs an election. Put this mystery envoy on the ticket along with everyone else.  But he needs to earn his position".

The interviewer goes on to say that Parco Delgado "talks like the bastard child of Hugo Chavez and Al Sharpton.  How is that supposed to resonate with the larger America?  Doesn't the givernment have a responsibility here?"  Matty says to do what?  Rig the election? it's the DMZ's time and America doesn't get a say, these are local elections.  With people so broken and demoralised, the Delgado Nation is a symbol of a unified city, "or the potential for us to get there"

The interviewer asks if he stands behind Parco Delgado?  Matty responds that he's probably going to be the head of the new provisional government because he can't see people voting for the same people who have been bombing them for the last few years. The interveiwer asks about the allegations of his criminal past and racist statements.  Matty says show him a rap sheet and he's not heard Parco say one racist thing.

The interviewer asks him flat, "what if you're wrong?  What if everyone's wrong?"  Matty says Parco is out there and people are getting to know him, "he's easily the most accessible politician I can think of".  He notes that for all their attempts to dig up dirt on Parco they haven't been very successful.  The interviewer hs one final question, the famous Matty Roth is easily Parco's most vauable asset, "so why'd he have to bring your mother in to help?"
Matty goes from interviewer to interviewed.
Matty refuses to answer and brings the interview to an end.  As he ponders how far he pushed it in the interview with Liberty, he thinks he's really "shoving it right in their face".  But it's not a joke, four hundred thousand people will be determining their future and that of the DMZ. 

As he thinks about this, we see a mysterious woman in a non descript uniform getting out a sniper rifle.  She takes aim at Parco meeting and greeting down below and that brings us up to date with the chaotic scenes we saw at the start of this volume.
An assassin targets Parco.
Later that night, a U.S. army chopper is flying over the DMZ.  They can't understand why the Nation of Delgado has just gone to ground following the assassination attempt on Parco.  Then suddenly heat signatures light up all over the city, many fires begin burning and the helicopters are ordered to return to base, "we're fucked."

At Liberty News, Matty's father watches the footage of Matty abusing the cameraman just after Parco was hit.   He says Matty is a kid, "he's a young stupid kid in way over his head... what do you want me to say?"  His boss tells him he needs Mr. Roth to step up and protect the integrity of this operation, shield Liberty News from any blowback, continue the marginalisation of the Free States.  Do his job basically.  Matty's dad says "I know what my job is.  And it doesn't include handing my son over to you fucking wolves.  He's a kid... and he's on your payroll!" He's then shown an image of his wife, "what do we do about this?" he is asked.

Matty is cleaning himself up in a bathroom while a Liberty News broadcast plays. It urges people at the assassination to come forward with information about where Parco is, so he can get proper treatment and CSI can collect bullet fragments to help identify who was responsible as no one yet has stepped forwards and claimed they did it or why.  Matty goes to see Parco but no visitors yet, he's still being worked on.  Parco's men take his phone so they can dump it along with all their others.
Reporting on the assassination fallout.
He then comes face-to-face with his mother.  She asks if they are just going to stand there, Matty says he's here for Parco not her.  She assures him she's not here as competition for him, "I was invited.  I was hired to be here".  And it was Parco who hired her. Matty is silent for a moment then asks why Parco didn't tell him.  She has no idea, maybe she didn't know exactly who she was, she goes by her maiden name now - Madeleine Mastro.

Matty says that is her and his dad "kaput for good, eh?"  She says his father and her were rarely in alignment on anything, "yeah, no shit" agrees Matty. She then turns to Parco saying this assassination attempt can be spun positively.  When Matty says that's pretty cold, but she responds "It's how people get elected Matty".

By not naming who did it they won't risk being aligned with the shooter's opposing side.  Parco in public appearance limbo can help tremendously.  "He's gotta show his face at some point though" says Matty. She says she was hired to get him elected and if he never left the treatment room "this election would be a slam dunk".
Parco under treatment.
At night people hold candlelight vigils for him.  Matty gets a glimpse of Parco on a hospital bed, the doctor treating him says to Matty go home, "I'll call you if he wakes up."  Matty gets dropped off at Zee's place, before he gets out of the car he asks his mum to be nicer to her.  He updates a sleepy Zee on the situation with Parco, she asks him if he is safe.  matty guesses so, no one else besides Parco seems to have been targetted.  Zee says an election is a stupid reason to die.

She drifts off back to sleep with the words "It's not going to change anything" on her lips.  Matty can't sleep thinking what if she's right?   Will it change anything?  If Parco wins will they even give him the office?

Matty: "We have a long, ugly history of unseating democratically elected leaders... when people have voted 'wrong'.  Can they handle a Delgado government in the middle of this war?  Is this just pissing in the wind?  Fuck.  Long night".

Next day Matty is summoned by one of Parco's men.  The United States wants a sit-down with the Delgado Nation.  Zee tells Matty to be careful, he tells her not to worry, "Liberty still has me under contract".

Matty asks "hook me up" and one of the men gives him a gun. The "sit-down" actually takes place standing in a subway station. A man flanked by two soldiers says the United States is prepared to withdraw its envoy and agree not to put forward another candidate if Parco signs on under the United States ticket.  That's quite an offer says Madeleine. 

She goes to make a phone call. Then Matty gets called up onto the street, the Lincoln Tunnel FSA commander is holding one of Parco's men at gunpoint saying not to take the deal.  They can go one better, he can give them the girl who did the shooting.  "Hey mom... got a sec?" calls down Matty.
The Free States stick their oar in.
Madeleine calls a press conference, she tells the assembled press that Parco is still alive and being treated at an undisclosed location.  The shooter's identity is still unknown and separate investigations are being conducted by the U.S. government and Trustwell as well as Parco's own people.

Madeleine: "Neither Mr. Delgado nor the democratic process itself will be subject to mischief or manipulation for political gain.  Nor will we allow ourselves to live in fear of some lunatic with a rifle".

Delgado remains a viable candidate with a full recovery expected. On behalf of the Delgado Nation she asks for the ceasefire to be observed even though emotions are running high.

She goes on to say that Delgado has made a historic bid for office in a pivotal time in the city's history.  Out of respect to "a great man wh has brought so many people together... and to a true son of the city who has shed his blood in an effort to serve it.. this election will continue".  She finally appeals to the city to not give up hope, and to not place their fate in the hands of those "who would rule them with violence and murder".  Support Delgado on election day and make the city the "shining beacon it once was and will be again".

Matty thinks to himself that with his mum there Parco had someone to handle the press, which freed him up for other duties.  As he gets hands on with weapons helping out the red clad soldiers of the Nation, one day a package arrives at his place in Chinatown. 
A mysterious gift.
Matty thinks it's from his dad, Zee tells him not to open it until Wilson takes a look.  Inside is a laptop, phone and batteries, Wilson checks them and finds them clean even though Zee is surprised to find Wilson is Matty's "tech support".  There was one bug but it was so super-obvious it was meant to be found.

Matty gives Wilson the laptop and calls his dad on the phone on the speed-dial number stored in it.  His dad warns him the U.S. deal is "garbage", Matty says he knows.

Mr. Roth: "They call politics a game, but there's blood in this game Matty.  This is gonna get ugly.  You think it is already... you think Parco getting shot is the worst thing that's going to happen, but it's gonna get fucking. Ugly."

Matty wants to know why he's telling him this.  His dad says he's on forced leave at home, "and I don't think I'm meant to leave the apartment".  He advises Matty to crawl into a hole and stay there until after election day, "maybe there will still be a city left when you do".

In Washington Heights Parco is still on life support.  In Midtown Matty and his mum are looking at the body of the assassin being held in a U.S. army morgue.  She's been tortured.  Matty asks what did she promise to the Free States to get them to hand over the body.  She touches the dead woman's face and says "I promised them Parco would win... and he will win".
The assassin.
Soon election day rolls round. Liberty News report that at stake is the title of Provisional Governor of the city of New York.  Parco Delgado's Nation of Delgado is leading in the polls.  The U.S. and Free States are a distant second and third respectively. After many weeks of hard campaigning and the attempt on his life making him even more popular the question on everyone's lips is "Where is Parco?"  Will he finally make an appearance now it's election day? 

They contact "Liberty's own Matty Roth" for a report.  He says "'No comment'.  Or 'I quit' sure, that works too."  The ceasefire that made the election possible is still holding.   The U. N. has been redeployed to support international election observers. The eyes of the world are on America today, "let's show them how the greatest democracy this world has ever seen does an election, free and fair and for the people."

Some men dressed in black dismount from the back of a van.  One of them yanks the I.D. out of the pocket of another telling him he'll get them "busted".   They are to stay cool, blend in and remember their orders.  "You've all been trained for this" says the leader, "let's keep it clean and professional". As they arm themselves and split up, we see the I.D. that was tossed aside.  It's a Trustwell one...
Trustwell still up to no good.
A car comes screaming up to Matty driven by one of Parco's soldiers.  Inside is Parco himself, flanked by two more and hooked up to an I.V. bag.  "Hey Matty.  We got some work to do" he says.

Matty: "Even before the voting opened, the trouble started. The intimidation, the irregularities, the breakdowns...the fear... and the violence.  But the DMZ's a warzone, you could say. So what else is new?  Today, on this day... it shouldn't happen on this day".

The international observers were soon in way over their head, and there were rumours of bounties being offered for any blue helmets.   You couldn't have blamed people for staying away and not voting, choosing to live another day, "but they didn't".

Every vote that ended up getting counted probably represented three more thrown in the rubbish. "But they voted.  And cried and bled and fell and died in the streets for that vote". Even intentions to vote counted though the paper record had disappeared. It's soon obvious Parco Delgado's Nation of Delgado has won.  He drives with Matty to their rallying point.
A winner is Parco!
Madeleine says he shouldn't appear looking weak and ill, they'll need his image of strength for the legal battles ahead and actually getting him into office.  Parco asks Matty what he thinks, Matty says his people came to see him, they stood by him "after all this, last thing they deserve is another politician letting them down." Parco says Matty's right, he lives here, "he knows."

He walks out under an umbrella held by Matty, still wearing a robe.  He sits down and says to the crowd, "yo, so how you all doing?!"  And the crowd erupts chanting his name over and over. He is handed a megaphone and starts making a speech.  He tells the crowd:

Parco: "You bled, we all bled. We as a community cried out for some change, for a chance, for a moment to speak. The thump of mortars, the crack of gunfire, the hum of the drones, the sound of indiscriminate fire that's plagued us for years.  Drowning out our voices.  But no more!  Your voices, the beating heart of our community, for the first time... we drowned out the war!"

He goes on to say that today came at great cost, but they must show forgiveness.  That is not the same as forgetting and what went down here today they'll never forget.   But they musn't squander what they have acheived on senseless revenge.  Picking up a gun and going toe-to-toe with a Trustwell merc won't do anything other than add another body to the count.
Parco inspires the crowd.
He was stomped on and nearly snuffed out himself but is still here because he has incredible faith and trust in his people, "you have my thanks and my loyalty forever".  In two months he'll assume office and "set about fixing this city, reversing this fucking nightmare that's gripped us for so long". The forgotten population will determine the future of the city.

He tells them finally not to be afraid. They can't be challenged now, the occupying powers will not try and overrule this election.

Parco: "How can I be so sure about people so untrustworthy?  I'm looking at the reason.  I look at this crowd of New York City's sons and daughters, and three simple words come to mind. They. Wouldn't. Dare."

Days later Zee and Matty are chatting and eating Chinese food in bed.  Matty says the DMZ might become it's own country.  Then his mother phones and appears to offer him a book deal he turns down then another call comes through.  We get a brief flashback to election night, as Liberty News reluctantly reports that even with all the violence, fraud allegations and corruption, Parco's win won't be overturned.  No official statements have come from either the USA or FSA, but the USA is considering endorsing the Delgado Nation to help maintain the moral high ground.

Liberty News: "America's greatest city stands poised to be ruled over by a new government, an untested and unproven regime that, for the rest of the country, is little more than a question mark... Is the battle for New York now moving into the political arena".

We then return to Matty taking the other call, it's from Parco who wants Matty to lay low for a while.  He has political stuff he needs to do now and he needs to not have a press guy with him.  Just business, just politics he says. He tells Matty to chill out and write something but, "when you come back, wanna help me run this city, Matty?" Matty thinks for a moment then replies, "absolutely". And that brings this epic arc to an end.
A new dawn for Matty and the DMZ.
So in the space of six chapters we are given a new fully fledged power player in the DMZ.  It also makes for an interesting midpoint for the series overall, with Matty moving away from unbiased journalist and voice of the DMZ into someone who has chosen a charismatic demagogue whose spell he falls completely under and is working more as an enforcer for than as a reporter.  It also shows how clever it was to make Matty a rookie, a more experienced journo might have kept their distance from Parco thanks to general callous like cynicism. As for whether or not Parco will be a good or bad or simply another shade of grey for the DMZ, well obviously there is more to come from him.  It's interesting seeing Matty's parents here, both seem to care about him even if they have strange ways of showing it and you can see why Matty became so keen to strike out and prove himself capable of existing outside their shadows.  There is much talk of this being a healing moment for the DMZ despite the violence on election day, and how fascinating to have an election on contested US soil suffer the same problems as we see in warzones and countries riven by civil strife in our world. Writer Brian Wood once again gives us believable scenarios transplanted to the DMZ where we can see them play out under the assured pen of artist Riccardo Burchielli.  Now Matty is so closely associated with the Delgado soon-to-be-administration how will it affect his relationships with the other DMZ factions and is his independant journalistic integrity blown for good?  Find out soon in a few days time.


  1. Another great thought provoking episode. Shades of Cyrus in the Warriors; but I can dig that (hopefully you'll get the reference)

    Some obvious parallels with the attempts to set up governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. The idea of UN peacekeepers on the streets of the US is quite intriguing. But I like the sort of 'it happened here' counter factual but very plausible aspects.

    There's a nice evolution for Matty from attempted impartiality to going native to taking sides. I'm not too enamoured by the importance of his mum and dad to the plot. Smacks a little bit of supervillain turns out to be hero's brother. But I suppose it's a narrative shortcut. I'm glad they avoided the cliché that the assassination attempt was a false flag to garner support. I like that Delgado is quite flawed with a chequered past. Don't want a messiah to be too perfect. Sort of ties in with our discussion about the legitimate role of criminal organisations. Be nice if there's ultimately a role for Wilson in the new regime.

    Probably have more thoughts as I ruminate, so now I'm home I'll ponder further.

  2. I should warn you now this plotline across the next two volumes really amps up the Holy Shit Quotient of the series ready for the series to wind it's way in the final third to reaching a satisfactory ending overall. I had to split volume 8 into two posts because it's the longest at 8 parts, and the second arc I am writing up now pains my heart because Matty has screwed up so badly in it. So heh heh, teasers there ;)

    Believe me Matty's non to enamoured of his mum showing up the way she did either. His dad has actually been in the comic since the first volume because he got Matty his place on the first assignment with Viktor Ferguson, but Parco hired Matty's mum without telling him which when Matty finds out becomes typical of his relationship with Parco, never being properly in the loop which has serious repercussions not long after.

  3. "I had to split volume 8 into two posts because it's the longest"

    A likely story. Clearly an attempt to maximise profits like Harry Potter and Hunger Games movies. Nonetheless you now have me hooked so I'll have to capitulate, you have tantalised me.

    I like that Matty is flawed. This story has been very good on nuance. No black and white hats. And of course that helps with its general feeling of realism. Ideally it won't even have a completely satisfactory or definitive conclusion. Matty's arc may resolve itself but I'd like the narrative itself to be 'abandoned' rather than concluded. Like such conflicts are in the real world. I hope I'm not being too nebulous there in what I'm trying to say.

    There's always been an air of hubris around Matty so I hope that pays off.

    I like that he's out of the loop a bit as well. He's the protagonist of his own story of course, as we all are (well, maybe not me. I like to be the antagonist of everyone else's story) but this comic has been good at showing the world does not revolve around him and things also happen when he's not around.

    Oh and before I forget, Gisele is an artist. She popped up in one of those Facebook 'people you may know' things cos we have a common friend. Her artwork caught my eye. It's very good. Thought you might like it cos it's a bit cartoony.

  4. Mwaahahahaha, my evil plan revealed! Actually it's a good split because the three episode arc is a flashback that Matty only cameos in and which spends some time looking at radicalisation and grooming to be a suicide bomber in more detail than we saw with Amina. So being able to ruminate on in seperately than the next arc which is Matty's Big Fuck Up one makes it a handy split.

    I'm suprised how intense the series is getting, you have to remember my finances are not great so I was purchasing this roughly one book a fortnight so took half a year to finish it. That tricked my mind into thinking it was more decompressed when actually it's the opposite.

    And yeah, hubris and an ill-fated attempt to try and make the world revolve around him a bit more is what causes things to go so very wrong.

  5. Ooh, more suicide bomber stuff. That should give me ample opportunity to pontificate.

    I think I mentioned about Hemingway. Matty does seem to be on a similar trajectory. Starts off as war correspondent, ends up hooked on the conflict itself and ends up joining in. Mind you, so did Orwell to an extent. Must be an occupational hazard. P J O'Rourke wrote an excellent, and very funny, book about his experiences as a war correspondent. He was from the school of journalism though whose major priority in a conflict zone was finding a working bar.

    The story is developing nicely. It balances the action quite well. Obviously the comics focus on the times stuff is 'happening' but you do get the sense that Matty does get some downtime and it's not a relentless slog with one crisis leading directly into the next. You can believe he has time to have a bit of a social life. Of course it's a cliché that war is "99% boredom, 1% shitting yourself"

  6. Dug out some O'Rourke quotes for you.

    The voting was just what every journalist dreads, quiet and well organized. 

    The interesting thing about staring down a gun barrel is how small the hole is where the bullet comes out, yet what a big difference it would make in your social schedule.

    No one in sight, as far as I could tell, was in charge of anything but pistol waving.

    The building had been fought over inch by inch. Every stick of furniture was destroyed, every breakable thing was broken. This was Korea, however – the bathrooms were still spotless.

    Torrijos also managed, after decades of negotiations, to wrest to a new canal treaty from the United States. Admittedly, he wrested it from Jimmy Carter, so it isn’t like he played against the varsity, but it gave the Panamanians a patriotic thrill to get the middle of their country back.

    There are two kinds of military road blocks, the kind where you slow down so they can look you over, and the kind where you come to a full stop so they can steal your luggage.

    A nation’s fun will tell you more about that nation than anything except its jails. And, if I got into enough fun, maybe I'd get into jail too.

    (in Warsaw) The dancing was terrible, stiff and clunky like spilling a can of Tinkertoys. There’s a tragic lack of black people behind the Iron Curtain, which explains the dancing. “The only ethnic group we ever had was Jews,” said Zofia, “and they only dance in circles.”

    There was an austerely dignified award ceremony. By that I mean we had to buy our own drinks – in clear violation of the international journalists’code of truth, fairness and an open bar.

    The big game is disappearing from Africa. Most Africans have never seen a rhino in its natural state (which is a state of mild pique, I believe)

    I like the guy (Alejandro Bendana) – a bad sign. People I like shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near government.

    The Russians could have some (warheads) aimed at Japan, so if we act up they can destroy our economy.

    But in the next quarter century the most dramatic change in the Third World will be the United States becoming a part of it.

  7. I thought to myself as I was typing it up that it should bring forth interesting facts and discussion.

    I have to confess I don't know much about Hemmingway except that Cerebus The Aardvark travels with a thinly disguised version of him. Cerebus was like that, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Oscar Wilde and Margaret Thatcher all had major roles in various books in the series. It's the comic that inspired my blog although if I was writing them now I'd have split the books into multiple posts. Ah well, I learned as I went along.

    It's a bit fuzzy how long Matty has lived in the DMZ, between two and four years by this point. Both get mentioned, a little inconsistency there but he could have been rounding up.

  8. I don't know much about Cerebus. I was aware of the comic but I thought it was just a Conan pastiche. It wasn't until later I found out it was actually quite deep. I was quite impressed with the Jaka's Story bit that the author would spend a year just on a side character's backstory. And I like the ambition of setting out to do 300 episodes. I understand though the author sort of 'went off on one' a bit towards the end. Still, has a barbarian girl in it, so ok by me.

    Related though and another reason I prefer the self contained stories to the ongoing wider universe stuff is that the writers can plan an arc with a definite ending in mind (ending to the narrative, see above for my like of the actual story not having obvious 'closure'). I'll try not to get diverted by a discussion of Babylon 5 versus Chris Carter effect and how that might apply to comics. Sniff, now I'm nostalgic for Halo Jones.

  9. We're all nostalgic for Halo Jones, give Moore and Gibson the rights back Rebellion! *shakes fist*

    Cerebus did go badly off the rails in the penultimate book, although "Latter Days" is where I think my blog found it's voice as it were as I got to dial the snark up for it. Credit to Sim though he managed to pull the book out of it's nose dive with the final book "The Last Day" and end the series somewhat well. Somewhat. I still wonder how it would have ended if he hadn't had a very bad attack of religion.

    You read my blog enough to know I prefer mini-series, self contained series and series that might exist in a wider universe but use established characters in a way that don't require Cliff Notes (eg: The Punisher MAX and Alias). Please though, divert away. Also those O'Rourke quotes were very interesting and pertinant to Matty's story for sure.

  10. It's funny, when I was a kid I read a comic called (I think) Havoc. It featured a secret agent called Fireball. I sent off for my membership of the Fireball club. That entitled me to a document outlining his secret backstory (which was also used as the cipher key to hidden messages in the comic, how cool is that!). But in the backstory it transpired that Fireball was the godson of a character in another comic called Warlord. I thought it was so cool that the comics were in the same continuity (not that I knew that word then). Mind you, I could hardly get my head round the fact Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx both lived in Beanotown.

    So I understand completely how you like stuff to be part of a wider universe.

    Related, when I was still a kid I saw in the market that you could buy an iron-on t-shirt transfer of Hookjaw, the shark from Action. It was unbelievable that someone else knew about the comic and you could get stuff from third parties. Hence I don't blame Fox for not realising marketing was a thing and giving the rights away to Lucas.

    As for diverting, I have mixed feelings about comics with an arc. Whilst I love the fact there's a definite planned ending in sight, I dos think it's a bit presumptuous for authors to assume they'll be allowed to keep a series running. There's nothing worse than investing in a story but then it gets cancelled. That's a problem in TV too. I loved Oz and the Sopranos, but somehow I instinctively knew Lost was just going to run on with no resolution until it got dropped, so I never watched beyond the first episode. Apparently that's a big problem now. People won't watch series cos they know they'll never make it past the first series. So it's a Catch 22. The series can't even attract viewers in the first place so they're lucky to make it past 6 episodes. I'm also not a fan of movies where it's clear the producers think they're guaranteed a sequel or two. Make films self contained you buggers! Of course, the flip side of that is, if a film then is successful they have to find a way of resetting everything so they can then have enough outstanding issues to justify a sequel.

    Fiction eh?

  11. I'm of course like you, of the age when marketing became a thing. I still have my original AT-AT standing next to one of my bookcases in the living room. The lasers are long gone, but the rest is in good nick and what is nice is that my nephew Joe likes playing with it. I need to dig out all my figures, right now he likes to put his cars inside them. His dad can't wait for when he can share the original Stars Wars trilogy with him in a few years time. I'm going to use the prequels as a threat though, mwahahahaa!

    I think when it comes to comics I am very much in favour of the auteur comic, the series that has one writer and if possible one artist, current faves like that are Lazarus and Saga. Although I also know that sometimes artists need a break which is why Burchielli hasn't done every issue of this series. And you can get auteur runs on comics like Alan Moore's time on Swamp Thing, where you can just read his stuff and not have to worry about what came before and after. I have noticed that the best series with endpoints mapped out will often have a series of points in the latter half what could possibly function as an ending if the publishers told them they needed to wrap up things earlier than planned. In TV this is know as a "fauxnale" and is a good way of ending things that isn't abrupt or on a cliffhanger.

  12. Now why didn't I think of this...

  13. The best fauxnale example is probably once again Babylon 5. The irony is they managed so well when the series was cancelled after 4 seasons. But then it got revived so they suddenly had to find loads of filler material. Might have been better, artistically, to just leave things wrapped up.

    Although if someone offersef me the money to do another series artistic integrity would be right out of the window.

  14. I have to admit, I watched the first season of B5 and found it a bit boring and didn't watch the rest. The fact that JMS hasn't exactly covered himself in glory with his comic book work hasn't made me keen to go back and see what I missed. Though, I can be swayed.... :)

  15. "Whilst I love the fact there's a definite planned ending in sight, I dos think it's a bit presumptuous for authors to assume they'll be allowed to keep a series running."

    And now someone put into words one of my greatest frustration with... for example Jason Aaron's Thor. As in it's not a bad story per see, but it's building one giant epic tale since 2012. Not only does this mean that the main plot advancement speed is glacial (and will read thousand times better in trade), but who knows if this damn thing will even be running long enough to reach its planned ending? *facepalm*

    (Why yes, my biggest Marvel competency is Thor and related stuff. \o/)

  16. "The fact that JMS hasn't exactly covered himself in glory with his comic book work"

    Well... he left his Thor run 2/3s done. Rumor has it he got into a fight with Bendis.

  17. Babylon 5 did take a bit of time to settle down. The first series was fairly standard space opera stuff. Although they were laying a lot of the groundwork. What seemed like little bits of world building turned out to have quite significant consequences later on. Once it got into its stride with the major arc though it was truly brilliant. Basically it was a political drama. Just happened to be in space. Very complex without being convoluted and full of nuance. Lots of 'villain has a point' stuff.

    It was thought very funny. Didn't take itself too seriously despite the mature nature of the subject matter. There's a wonderfully scruffy and chaotic character, who might just be God. There's some great riffing on star trek (albeit respectfully done). For example classic thing of trying to sort a war between two factions of some alien race. Turns out though that basically when the aliens turn 18 they randomly draw a sash from a barrel. If it's green they're on one side, purple the other. Try sorting that out Kirk. Also lots of funny background events. Like a trial going on between some 'grey' aliens being sued by a human whose grandad was abducted. Some wonderful villains too. But again, you couldn't help like them.

    From a feminist perspective great female characters. Subtle references to diversity generally but no hint of tokenism or stereotyping.

    The advance plotting is very well done. There's a time travel episode where in season one we see things from one timeframe but it's not until season four we find out its our heroes from the future and see the same events from that perspective. Amazing continuity. (although time travel apparently changes your hairstyles slightly)

    If you do decide to give it a go watch seasons two to four and the last episode of season five.

  18. Malitia

    I understand there's a lady Thor now. Obviously with my thing for kick ass women I approve, but I'm guessing that's proved controversial?

    (but if so, did the same folks complain when he was a cat?)

  19. @Alan
    To my knowledge Thor was also a frog for a whole arc in the most iconic run ever (Walter Simonson's).

    Lady Thor (I'm not sure if who that is is a spoiler at this point) did prove controversial... partially because the writer and the marketing people were fanning the flames of that.

    But Aaron's Thor was already 25 issues in when that changed happened. I'm also reasonably convinced it happened so he can buy himself time. Don't get me wrong she kicks ass big time and I love her, but Aaron's Thor is generally more a mystery, political intrigue comic, so a main character whose first instinct is to hit every problem with a hammer isn't exactly that good at moving the plot.

  20. Basically as I see it there is a LOT of "Look at this cool fight! *beat* What do you mean it was narratively meaningless? Look how cool it is?! LOOK AT IT!!!" which is incredibly annoying after a while. :/

  21. My mum would probably enjoy that; she loves frogs.

    If you don't mind me asking, what draws you to the character? You do know a heck of a lot about them. You a fan of norse mythology?

  22. Part of it is that I like mythology*

    Part is... I had a classmate in elementary school whose father was a long distance truck driver. Said dad was trying to buy his child's adoration with a lot of gifts. Gifts said classmate would later sell to anybody interested at school so I ended up with a whole bunch of old English Marvel comics relatively cheaply. And as I couldn't read English at the time... let's just say I found Walter Simonson's art incredibly stunning. That's I WANT TO UNDERSTAND THIS feeling stuck for life. ^^;

    * More Celtic though, and read my fair share of the stuff... technically all of the stuff that was available in my teens which, given it was only some years after the Iron Curtain fell, wasn't much (the local renaissance for less well known mythological stuff being published didn't happen until the 00').

  23. I learned to read through comics. One of my earliest memories is getting really confused when I started school. They gave us cards with individual words on to take home. I thought we had to make sentences from them. Didn't realise we just had to learn the words.

    I like norse stuff. I grew up in a part of the UK that used to be called the Danelaw. We were part of the Viking empire. The dialect I grew up with had a lot of norse influences. I have some Norwegian friends and it's funny when they're chatting to each other because I can pick up on what they're saying.

    I've moved to Cornwall now though so that's very celtic. Before good roads of course the sea was the main highway. So if you look at a map with that in mind you can see how the celtic nations are linked whereas on the land itself there were quite diverse populations.

    Of course the celtic influence stretched all over Europe Asia and the middle east. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say the culture radiated from there. It's fascinating how far people travelled in the old day. When they analysed all the bodies buried around Stonehenge over half were people not born in Britain. Just shows how daft all the concern about migration is really.

  24. My mom was (is? I didn't ask her for a while) those "comics are for people, who can't read" types.

    That said my elementary school f~ed up the "teaching to read and write" so badly* that I forgot and my mom had to reteach me on my first summer vacation, also nobody outside of me liked to read in my class, and nobody knew where to put punctuation (I still don't, neither in Hungarian or any foreign languages I now know one level or another).

    * 1) Don't employ a university student who has to disappear periodically for stuff 2) Don't use whatever system they used.

  25. Immigration stuff is really stupid where I'm sitting when I remember that the whole Hungarian (language minority) came as immigrants running from the expanding Mongolian empire around the first century. ^^;

  26. I mean their are a majority languagevise but as genetic testing could not find anything differentiating us from the neighbouring people I'm guessing this is a case of "imperialism" for lack of better word. ^^;

  27. There certainly was, and maybe still is, an amount of snobbery towards comics. Perhaps less so in the UK though because comics like the Beano are a long standing part of our culture. However even then they're seen as 'for kids'. It is acceptable though to still read kids comics as an adult so long as you do it 'ironically'.

    Secretly though we all love kids comics here. I'll let Varalys explain 'Viz'.

    Comics for teens had a bad rep. Partly that may have been because the American ones were seen as 'vulgar', like a lot of US culture generally here. Also the home grown ones were seen as subversive. I've mentioned before about my favourite one, Action, being banned.

    Ironically the sort of 'grandfather' of UK comics, Eagle, was actually a very worthy affair. It was full of motivationsl tales of derring-do and quite educational. Didn't stop it being brilliant though. Dan Dare started out in Eagle, and that legacy lives on in sci-fi orientated comics today. Funnily enough though Dare was originally conceived as a space faring Pastor. :-)

  28. Once again I miss a convo while I was watching horror films. Very interesting Thor stuff Malitia, thanks for all that.

    Viz is a vulgar, satirical humor comic that takes the piss out of everyone done very much in the drawing style of a bastard son of sixties underground comics like Roger Crumb and DC Thompson comics like the Beano. Sold millions back in the late eighties and nineties, still going strong AFAIK to this day.

    Comics are very much a minority pursuit in the UK. I always point to the chain store Forbidden Planet, the Manchester branch has all toys, board games and trading cards on the main floor. Then you descend to the basement, to see a lavish manga section and you walk through that to finally reach to comics section tucked right at the back. I try and buy when I can from them but sometimes their prices on trades compared to Amazon are ridiculous.

  29. I can talk about Thor comics a whole lot. ^^;

    So a bit about comicbooks in my country (Hungary).

    The hobby itself is incredibly niche because you either face language barrier and importing (I'm so glad for digital comics), or being at the mercy of the local publishing industry (not a good idea given that it's kinda small and the only comic they reliably sell is Garfield).

    There is such thing as classic Hungarian comic book though but most are adaptations of novels or short stories (originally serialized in crossword magazines like "Füles" for example), which probably explains a bit about the snobbery. Our old communist government in its infinite wisdom saw the culture spreading opportunity even in this lowly lowly artform. /s

    Oddly enough the word for comicbook being "képregény" (kép -> picture; regény -> novel) goes further back than these comicbook adaptations... not with much though only a decade or two.

    Currently in this comicbook wasteland we also have a quite active artsy indie comic scene... I mean they've some annual cons so there are at least some hundred active people in it. ^^;

  30. ... and I somehow wrote all that and missed out on complaining about translation quality if something by some miracle gets published here. Even if it's someone's passion project. (Like Watchmen was, it has almost as much translation notes than original supplementary material, and the "raw shark" thing still got translated into "nyers cápa" somehow.)

  31. I for one could hear more about Thor. It's interesting. He's one of the few Marvel characters I was aware of as a kid. Didn't know much about him though.

    I wondered about comics behind the Iron Curtain. Converting books to comics was(is?) a thing here too. Quite a few of the 'classics' have been done. You know, those books everyone pretends to have read (seriously, has anyone ever got past page 4 of Moby Dick?)

    One thing I did like about the curtain coming down (I appreciate there are probably lots of things) was having access to Russian cold war movies. Some of their Rambo and James Bond equivalents are really good. I understand though someone from Hungary may have views on the Russian army!

    Ah, forbidden planet. When I was a kid I went to the London one. To me it was wonderland. All the stuff that you just couldn't get or even hear about anywhere else. Mind you, I also got excited about McDonald's. At that time the only ones in the UK were in London. It's hard to express how exotic they seemed at the time. One of those "wow, America!" things. Like sea monkeys.

  32. @Alan

    What do you want to know? I can start at the beginning but that way lie giant wall of texts. ^^;

    I can tell you that my reaction to the "Thor: Ragnarok" trailer was: "Well, this is approximately what I was expecting since the beginning. (...) I mean either this* or so heavy fantasy-metafiction that it puts Deadpool to shame** but that wasn't likely to happen."

    * Classic Thor is very Superman crossed with Flash Gordon.
    ** Modern Thor has some distinctly Gaimanian traits even if it's more thanks to convergent evolution.

  33. Ooh, I'm intrigued. Assume (correctly) that I know nothing. Just after an overview really so I can bluff my way if anyone asks and pretend I'm down with the kids.

  34. The biggest direct Neil Gaiman influence on Marvel's Thor comics:

    I've to say the wiki's Thor family tree is woefully outdated. :D

  35. Cat-Thor!! Really interesting stuff about being a comic fan in non English speaking country Malitia, I'm guessing you mainly buy digital. At least over here we get a lot of translated manga series and quite a few notable comic series say, Blacksad fr'instance get good translations and are avaliable to buy easily.

  36. I still haven't seen guardians of the galaxy. Should do really as it has a raccoon in it and I love those. Over here there's a series of adverts featuring some talking meerkats. The latest one had them watching GotG and commenting on the raccoon.

    "It's not a real raccoon. They use CGI"

    *knowing look at each other*

  37. "a comic fan in non English speaking country"

    Well. You are practically in Lancashire ;-)

  38. I'm so lost where to start... ^^; (And yes, I deleted back a whole bunch of tries. Including a very lame docthor joke.)

    I mean when I start at the beginning: The character debuted in the Journey into Mystery sci-fi/fantasy anthology comic (and ever since then the Thor legacy numbering starts at issue #84) where a mild mannered physician Donald Blake found a cane/magic hammer which transformed him into the Mighty Thor and so he beat up the Stone Men of Saturn.


    But what is still relevant from this? Donald Blake is gone (who knows how long, he has a tendency to pop back into existence), Thor is retconned to always been Thor but banished by Odin to learn humility, Mjölnir wasn't a cane since years, and even the Stone Men were destroyed.

    ... I'm thinking how to explain this without rambling (possibly outdated) trivia. :/

  39. I like lame jokes, so feel free.

    That's an interesting origin. It used to be a common trope in British comics for someone to find an object that imbued them with the power of some past figure. Usually in the most inconvenient way.

    "Oh no, I'm channeling the spirt of Cthulu, and my boss is coming to dinner!" sort of thing.

    But the banished as human is also pretty common. Oftentimes with a memory wipe. Even Dr Who had that in the Jon Pertwee years. Think that was partly a budget thing. No need to create alien planets. Basically every invasion took place in the Shepherds Bush area of London. As mark gatiss put it "It's a tax thing".

  40. Yeah. Not the most original origin. XD Even by the standards of the 60s. (Journey Into Mystery #82 got published in 62.)

    I think the banished as human thing got retconned in because as time went by the supporting cast shifted from the Earth based ones (mostly Jane Foster, who started out like a Louis Lane expy so very much) to the mythological, who already treated him like Thor and ignored the Donald Blake thing. Heck the most iconic Thor writer from the 80s (Walter Simonson) was the first person (not the last, that at this point is Matt Fraction) to try to get rid of Blake completely... It didn't stick.

    Funny you mentioned Doctor Who... one of the characters who gets compared to him from Marvel comics is mostly Loki (I mean several characters got plucky companions recently, but Loki is the only one know to also "regenerate" so to speak). ^^;

  41. Maybe loki is a time lord; like mary poppins.

    The norse gods exist in Dr Who of course. In various guises. They're extradimential aliens in one story (that's actually quite a clever meta commentary on the show itself) and also Lovecraftian ancient evils.

  42. I said modern Marvel mythology is quite Gaimanian... I mean as currently stands (is pretty much the case since JMS's revival of Thor, but has roots in an annual way back in the early 80s) gods are sentient story (something may or may not be under that).

    So there can be quite the fourth wall abuse (mostly by leaning on it very hard). Loki rebelling (against the status quo being god in superhero comics for example), lady Thor not even noticing how she repeats the established patterns (despite everybody trying to tell her... very crypticly), and so forth. ^^;

  43. "Gaimanian"

    I know exactly what you mean by that. It's noteworthy that he has a definite style and recurring themes but manages to avoid being 'samey'.

    Which reminds me of Terry Nation when he plugged a story to Dr Who

    "It's a brilliant story"

    "Yes, we enjoyed it the last three times you sold it to us"

    Although that did force him to write what's considered one of the best stories in the run of the show.

    I would like to hear more about lady Thor though. I'm not bothered about spoilers. So if you do have the time to do so it would be much appreciated.

  44. "Gaimanian"

    I know exactly what you mean by that. It's noteworthy that he has a definite style and recurring themes but manages to avoid being 'samey'.

    Which reminds me of Terry Nation when he plugged a story to Dr Who

    "It's a brilliant story"

    "Yes, we enjoyed it the last three times you sold it to us"

    Although that did force him to write what's considered one of the best stories in the run of the show.

    I would like to hear more about lady Thor though. I'm not bothered about spoilers. So if you do have the time to do so it would be much appreciated.

  45. I should check out some Thor, the new stuff sounds cool.

    I've just come to the conclusion I'll have to split DMZ Book nine into two parts, and it's only five chapters. Put it down to having a bumper issue #50 with like a jillion artists and short stories in it. We'll still be done by the end of May never fear!

  46. Varalys is/was reading Original Sin... well, lady Thor pretty much spins out of that story and the 25 issue setup Jason Aaron did on the Thor book previously*.

    The event leaves Thor (and all the other gods more or less) unworthy of Mjölnir because of a whispered secret so an explicitly not Asgardian woman** picks up the hammer and proclaims herself Goddess of Thunder.

    Did I mention that Aaron likes to write Thor as a mystery comic***? The first with Lady Thor was "who can she be?!" ... it's Jane Foster, not sorry for spoiling it, it was a boring mystery anyway that downgraded the main character to an object others reacted to, to pad out 3-4 issues before the post Secret Wars (2015) relaunch. :P

    She is very good at Thoring and the narration doesn't waste any time telling people this... unfortunately she is an incredibly old school Thor (up to just channelling the power, and being pretty much an action hero, and not really seeing the big picture around her) while the story is still the mystery/intrigue comic it was. This is why I've the feeling Aaron is trying to buy time. :/

    My feelings towards lady Thor are mixed, in the "I like the parts more than the whole" kinda way.

    * I said this damn thing plays a loooooooong game.
    ** There are distinct tells in the lettering. Especially obvious when she has thought bubbles in one font and speech bubbles in a different one.
    *** Thanks to character development Thor Odinson makes a halfway decent detective and or politician.

  47. Maybe now as the War of Realms finally escalating the story will call for a pure action hero. ... And we will get yet another Thor too (the War Thor, yes that title did spark "Day of the DocThor" level jokes). If this keeps up the title should be renamed Thor Corps. :3

  48. I did finish Original Sin and was wondering why we got a single panel of Thor trying to pick up Mjolnir. Thanks for answering that mystery Malitia!

  49. I've not clue which tie-in mini got the fightscene where Nick Fury whispers the secret then.

    I mean I knew didn't happen in "Original Sin: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm" (":" abuse!!!!!) that was the mini I read from the event and that mostly dealt with the title characters long lost (adoptive... half...) sister Aldrif (or as she generally called Angela). ^^; (It has a glorious Loki drowns his sorrows in bacon scene though. :D)

  50. Ooh, this all sounds interesting. I'll have a think about your comments. In the interim, there's a potential graphic novel coming up about ju-jitsu suffragettes so I thought I'd post the first bit of concept art.

  51. Interesting cave painting, and ominous narration (by Loki):
    -- The Mighty Thor (2015-) #7

  52. The Unbeatable Squirrel Thor:

  53. Following on from that superheroes and the law blog I mentioned earlier I was lead to another site that references all Wonder Woman's law breaking. It's very funny. But to link to our current topic, it made a vague reference to a storyline where someone finds the broken pieces of a sword that imbues them with the spirit of some Amazon (not sure if WW herself, it's not clear) from that island where they all live.

    I like the cave painting. I have a bit of a thing for stuff like that where some old artform references contemporary events. Like when the TARDIS appears in the Bayeux Tapestry. There's also an old Dredd story that's told from the perspective of a caveman type chap who lives on a planet Dredd and co briefly visit for a repair stop. It's all done in cave paintings. And for bonus points it rhymes like a ballad. Those were the days.

    Squirrel Thor is so perfect. She is now one of my favourite Marvel characters. To try and get more 'with it' and down with you kids I watched the Thor movie. It seemed a mixed bag, especially with Kennett Branagh directing. It was like getting Werner Hertzog to do a ninja turtles movie. Of course Shakespeare was the pop culture of the day, so heroic tales of derring-do aren't out of place. But then you'd get an amazingly moving scene like the old Jewish guy standing up to Loki. It was fantastic but definitely felt like it was inserted from a different film.

    That interface between reality and popcorn entertainment is always a tricky one to navigate. Nazis as whacky pantomime villains works fine in Indiana Jones or Hellboy. Serious Nazis works well in Schindlers List or even Apt Pupil. But I'm not as sure in comic movies. It's like having Superman taking on 9/11. I do think they got Magneto right though in the first x men film. But wasn't that the director who did Apt Pupil? Maybe that 'trial run' helped with pitching it just right.

    Malitia, are you familiar with some of our cold war era movies like Rocky 4 and Red Heat? Just wondering if you have any thoughts on how the Russians were portrayed here. It'd be interesting to get your perspective. Again there was an almost pantomime villain element. But to us Russia was like a bogeyman. A vague nebulous threat, but one we never actually encountered in real life. The views and experience of a Hungarian person might obviously be somewhat different.

  54. I've not seen the second Thor movie as the reviews convinced me that it destroyed a classic villain (I'll avenge you Malekith you petty* sadistic asshole one day!), and missed the point even worse than the first did. I mean I'm not saying Thor comics don't have Shakespearian influences, but that movie was nearly not METAL enough. :3 Avengers... I deeply believe if an Avengers team isn't brought together by Loki they're not true Avengers. So it got that right at very least.

    Not really, I'm reasonably convinced that I caught some scenes from Rocky 4 in a syndicated rerun while channel surfing in the 90s but I can't remember much. ^^;

    * There was one time he spoiled Starlord's favorite series out of shear pettiness. TRUE EVIL!

  55. I understand why they changed Malekith, he and Loki are both the trickster/schemer types so can be quite "similar". (Their motivation, standards, and background is different, so when they both appear in the comic it's basically a "who can exploit the other" game.) But at that point why him and not for example Ulik the king of trolls, or if they need someone smarter/more magic Karnilla? :/

  56. When I was a kid there was a character called Valkyrie. Where does she fit into all this; is she still around?

  57. She is still around. I think she was last a member of the Fearless Defenders (2013) but had some bit appearances ever since that got cancelled.

    To go a bit back (not her whole backstory, I don't get her whole backstory it's a mess) there are a whole bunch of Valkyries in the Marvel universe, who serve Odin and his family (very rarely Hela) mostly as guides of the (worthy) dead, but also as elite warriors (apparently they're chosen based on who the winged magic horsey likes... see Dani Moonstar).

    So she (Valkyrie, real name Brunnhilde) thanks to some complicated events got stuck on Earth and the Defenders superteam recruited her. She doesn't have much inclination to go home ever since and apparently Odin doesn't care that much (if I remember correctly he took away her Valkyrie powers repeatedly but she got always got them back eventually).

  58. I've heard/read the whine about Valkyrie's part going to a WOC actress in Thor: Ragnarok (because "All Valkyries are pretty, white, and blond!" according to racist white dudes) so many times by now.

    My gut reaction was a sarcastic "Especially the Cheyenne one!" or maybe "Dani Moonstar. Your argument is invalid."; or to not fixate on the white part and go "It so nice of you to say that fat women are beautiful!" (there is at least one plus size Valkyrie in Marvel comics).

  59. Now that I think about it, it's a bit strange for a character to go by their job title / military rank as codename. Has a "Hey, you!" feeling to it. ^^; But then I remember that the Marvel universe has the likes of "the Captain" running around.

  60. Impressive stuff Malitia. I have a different experience of following long time comic characters, I tend to be focused more on the writer and sometimes the artist. When the writer bails, if it's replacement doesn't grab me right off I drop the book or stop buying the trades. Do like, I've written a lot about The Punisher but mostly in the context of Garth Ennis and his MAX run is out of regular continuity (and I wish they'd release more trades of his Marvel Knights run, "Welcome Back Frank" is hilarious showing that you can be fun with the same character you are also being bleak and downbeat with).

    Malitia, I did a post on NextWAVE which is like one of the greatest comics ever, has "The Captain" ever made an impearance anywhere outside it's pages?

    I have put up a new DMZ post, you can answer here or move over, but you digressions are as ever cool info for me to stash in my mind cave of comicbook knowledge.

  61. I only started with the "follow the writer" approach recently. I mean when Marvel cancelled/ended Loki: Agent of Asgard on me. ^^; (I like Al Ewing's writing very much.)

    Yes. The Captain was last seen trying to dispense old superhero wisdom to young Nova last year... really really ineptly. I know this from here:

  62. Most NextWAVE characters disappeared after the series finished because nobody knew how canon the damn thing was.

    Until fairy recently Al Ewing had Monica Rambeau on a team roster and editorial threw an Original Sin his way so he used it to say "yes, NextWAVE happened thanks to some nigh-omnipotent assholes screwing with people/reality", which made the other characters more fair game to use too.

  63. Great, I must admit I am fairly new to Al Ewing, he's written some of the "Jennifer Blood" comic and takes a Garth Ennis created character and actually does some stuff with her that's pretty interesting. I've only written up the first Ennis trade, I must stick a Jennifer Blood in when DMZ is over.