Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Zenith Phase 4 (2000AD #791-808)

"The real New Age starts here..." - David Cambridge

Time for the final part of the story of Zenith.  This collection always had a bit of a reputation seeing as how it never got a trade paperback release until this one a couple of years back, and progs that told the story could fetch quite a high price.  The story wraps up the tale of Zenith, a pop star and cocky young prick of a British superhero who was the son of a pair of sixties superheroes created by a man called Michael Peyne.  After creating a super soldier for World War 2 to combat Germany's one who was playing host to a Lovecraftian entity called the a Lloigor which ended up being nuked, he made a group that ended up rebelling and calling themselves "Cloud Nine".  Zenith's parents were killed not long after he was born, while the rest disappeared, leaving only three, which included Peter "Mandala" St.John, now Tory Prime Minister.  Ruby "Voltage" Fox a journalist and Siadwel "Red Dragon" Rhys a sad drunk who was killed when the four of them took on the Lloigor again in Phase 1.  After Phase 2 saw Zenith take on a meglomaniac, meet his parents maker, and have a threesome with two of Peyne's more recent experiments, we came to Phase 3.  This was a multiversal epic once again taking on the Lloigor as heroes from many universes banded together to defeat them and is probably one of my very favourite stories to run in 2000AD.  On the way, they pick up a robotic hero called Archie who returns to Zenith's universe.  A thread running through all these volumes was a mysterious plan Cloud Nine keep referring to as the missing ones also return to Zenith's reality.  In this book we'll finally see what that plan was and what it meant for the whole of humanity. Words by Grant Morrison, pictures by Steve Yeowell.

We begin with Peyne writing a book called "Seizing The Fire", a book that will remain unpublished because he is the only human left in the world.  He supposes that writing it is a way to "somehow wrest order from this present chaos".  Each day he rises in darkness, he dresses, he misses music, "they" have music but it is scarcely recognisable as such. "That dreadful unending scream: that I think, is their music".

Peyne: "What have I done?  That is the question I must now answer.  I have loosed the Tygers upon the world.  I have swept away the old order.  I have cast down the towers of the cities of men.  And laid the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem".

He conteplates the huge black sun that is now in the sky.  Then Ruby, now a being of pure energy comes to visit him. She exhorts him to turn around, he says the last time he looked he was sick for a week.  But he turns anyway and is OK.  Ruby asks why he is working on a book. Peyne says it keeps him busy, organises thoughts.  Ruby says they'll be completely abolishing his past, "you're writing on the wind Michael".
Michael Peyne, last human alive.
She tells him he's getting younger, their gift to him for the part he played and she disintergrates his cane.  This upsets Peyne as it's another link with the world that was now gone.   She knew he would feel like that, his thoughts are as transparent as glass to them, paradoxically the lack of privacy is its own brand of freedom.

Peyne goes for a walk and sees they've erected a new building, a featureless cube, "to them this bloody eyesore must appear beautiful".  Every day he walks down the transformed streets and it seems the world has always been this way. 

Peyne: "It must be only a year or two since they killed Zenith and Peter St. John, but it feels like forever".

Each day the city is restructured it's map "redrawn by restless hands".  The citizens have hands for faces now and walk but go nowhere.   Every so often one of the Lloigor pass overhead and they applaud, "otherwise they remain silent".

Peyne misses conversation, the Lloigor speak to him of course but they are so beyond the merely human he feels like a child.  He walks all day but whatever direction he goes in he finds himself back home.  His house is one of the few constants in the world.  He rises and walks and works and grows younger day by day.  So in the time that remains he will tell the story of the end of the world that was.

He ponders the aphorism "be careful what you wish for, it may come true" but for him it did come true and summarises his whole lifes achievement.

Peyne: "I wished for a world uncontaminated by the greed and brutality of man.  I wished for a world that was the perfect playground of superhuman minds. And see!  It has all come to pass! And here I stand in this dreadful city of endless night. The last man.  The last human being, his wishes fulfilled.  Watching a black sunset."

We then flashback to July, 1992 so we can find out how things have ended up the way they have. Zenith on the TV being interviewed by Melvyn Bragg on the South Bank Show about his new musical direction, saying it was important to express himself. 
|Zenith and manager Eddie.
We then pull back to see Zenith is watching the interview on TV in the company of his manager Eddie.  He's feeling pretty pleased, his latest single is at number one as is his album. His new album is a hardcore mix of dance rhythms, psychedelic guitars and passionate lyrics, showing a maturity that has surprised Zenith's critics.  Zenith then turns the TV off.

They turn over to another channel as one of the superhumans, David "Lux" Cambridge is giving a speech about the problems fascing the world today, they are offering something called "The Labours of Hercules" to give humanity a chance "to drag itself out of the evolutionary mud" as helped by them of the "Horus Project".  Zenith dismisses it as "once a hippie, always a hippie" and goes out.
PM Peter St. John contemplates the Chimera.
We cut to him in the office of Prime Minister Peter St. John (I think we can assume Maggie fell in 1990 same as reality but Peter won the leadership election), Peter is sitting cross legged contemplating a pyramid.  Zenith asks him if this Horus programme is part of the mysterious plan.  Peter ignores his question and asks him if he really saw the "Chimera" transform into the pyramid in front of him.  Zenith says "it wasn't as good as a Kylie video".

Peter: "A whole tiny universe.  A microcosm which duplicates our own, scaled-down infintesimally.  Did I tell you I made contact with Chimera?  I think we may be able to use it but there are risks involved. That's why I've asked you here Zenith".

Zenith asks him what he plans to do with Lux and Spook and the rest of that lot.  Peter says he's invited them over for a chat and asks him to hide the pyramid in his desk.   Lux, Ruby and Spook arrive, Peter is surprised they used the door, "they've never shown that kind of courtesy before".  And he lets them in.

David says he doesn't want to waste time on small talk, "a new age is dawning" and Peter is wasting his time playing human power games.   They think it's time "to start playing God games".  They are offering Peter one last chance to join them.  Penny says he doesn't owe humanity anything, "why do you have to be so opposed to the plan?"

Peter says why don't they just call The Plan the Final Solution?  David says he can't believe Peter wants to stand in the way of evolution.

David: "We're not monsters, we're the next stage.  We can't afford to be dragged down into the mire by creatures whose time has come and gone."

Peter says he doesn't mind ascending but he doesn't want to kick the ladder away behind them.  Ruby then says she can sense some kind of power source and opens Peter's desk to find the Chimera.  Peter says it's nothing by an ornament and tells her to put it down.  She turns it into dust much to Zenith's horror.  Peter says they will stop them somehow, David says "you're welcome to try".
Ruby destroys the Chimera.
We return to Peyne and his book, he is younger now, his hair is growing back. He thinks his writing when he was older was very rigid, missing "obvious connections and possibilities".  He decides there is something to be said for being forced to grow younger.   He looks out across the mad rooftops and feels not guilt but pride... "God help me I feel pride".

He remembers very clearly sitting with Shockwave and Blaze watching David saying that politics will become obselete in their new world which will obliterate national boundaries.  It was the "last day of the world that was".  The girls change channel with their minds to Top of the Pops.  Performing tonight is "Yahoo Crew Plus Two Featuring MC Acid Archie".  As they sing he recalls how these jingles and tunes engraved themselves on his mind and "these silly poignant memories will die with me."

Suddenly Ruby appears on screen and starts singing and creating a light show.  Peyne finds himself regretting the loss of such vulgar music, "what would I give now for just five minutes of Top of the Pops". The DJ says something about Zenith and the two girls blast a single thought about the child.

Zenith backstage says Ruby can't sing to save her life.  Eddie his manager is fussing saying people are looking for a new revival and he thinks it'll be Punk next. Zenith picks up his guitar and goes to perform, meanwhile the two girls with Peyne have fetched a small child.  When Zenith appears on screen it points and says "Dad! Dad! Dad!"

Peyne: "I still cannot think of the child without shuddering.  If only I had known.  If I had even suspected what was to happen I would have killed the child. Or so I like to think."

We then cut to Washington DC, the President is asking if the superhumans can be killed.  He's told their Shadowmen killed to of them, "all we need is the element of surprise.  Just say the word." The President authorises the hit as Peyne thinks back as to what word it was that began the war, "I wonder what word opened the door to hell."
Trust the Americans to stick their oar in.
David is trying to convince another superhuman called Domino to be ready to play his part when the time comes.  Domino is a somewhat reluctant, David says it'll be hard enough dealing with Peter and Zenith without worrying about him as well.  He also tells Domino to wear more appropriate clothing when they talk to the press. Domino says he's a Punk, "they'll bury me a Punk".  David says that'll be sooner than he thinks, the humans are working to get rid of them, "we have to act now."  But Domino says there must be another way.

Outside Domino's building are the Shadowmen, they are told to go in through the limbic system, knock out the visuals then proceed into the autonomic nervous system as per training.  A man and woman then go inside the building, the man called Cameron is nervous.  The woman calls him a wimp. 

Domino is alone sorting his CDs when suddenly the Shadowmen attack his mind and render him blind.  He retaliates and blasts through the woman's defences and fries her body to a crisp.  Cameron warns Domino he's not alone, then David appears behind him and drops the charred remains of his colleagues who were out in the car, "just who did you think you were dealing with, you ridiculous little creature?"

Cameron fearfully blabs that he was just obeying orders and is working for the U.S. government.  David says he knows everything and the woman was right to call him a wimp, "are you very afraid now?" Cameron says he is and David squashes him in a wet splat.  Domino still can't see and pleads with David for help.  David takes his head and says "it's all working out beautifully" and crushes Domino's head.
David helps kickstart the war.
Peyne is now a young man, he has to deal with feeling randy again, plenty of old showers and inspirational texts.  He's finding what he's already written to be somewhat dry. But he keeps on with it.   He remembers back to the first images from Washington, they were shocking.  The city was levelled by the superhumans.  David tells the news that the U.S. government killed their friend Domino, "murdered by human ignorance and fear. We refuse to tolerate this or any further acts of aggression which the governments of the world may have planned.  As of today everything has changed".

They destroyed the Whitehouse, the Pentagon and the Fort Knox gold reserve, "within a very short time, the United States of America as a concept will only exist in the history books".

David: "We are now going to have to take more direct charge of human affairs.  You simply cannot be trusted. As of today we are assuming guardianship of the planet. That is our final judgement and we would ask that you refrain from any attempts to resist us.  You've seen what we can do."

Inside the House of Commons there is pandemonium with Peter the still centre.  The opposition leader demands to know which side he is on.  Peter brushes him off then we cut to the superhumans inside their base discussing how the President made it easy for them and now they should begin the next phase.  But in walk Peter, Zenith and Archie.  Peter says it's time to stop "before this situation goes entirely out of control".  Zenith also complains his records are being burned because of them.
Battle commences.
Peter asks David if they are going to start throwing buildings at each other.  David says they're not sadists, "we'll try and make this quick."  And a psychedelic dome of many colours springs up round the building as lights shine from David's eyes.

Peyne: "The end of the world had arrived.  Wearing a quite unexpected face".

We rejoin the now forty year old Peyne running through the ever-changing streets of London.  He thinks about how he later discovered the conflict took place in one room and took the form of an exchange of psychic energies between Peter St. John on one side and David Cambridge, Ruby Fox and Penelope Moon on the other.

Four people in one room, and the psychic fallout had ordinary people seeing fiery skies, apocalyptic clashes of angels, flying saucers and nightmarish bomber aircraft, "everyone saw his or her own vision of the end of the world." 

We join that battle, Zenith says it feels like being on dodgy E. Peter says they are in his hyperthalmus, he needs to increase his serotonin.  Zenith says it feels like it's been going on for years, Archie says it's actually been three point two-five seconds. Peter counter-attacks striking all three in their minds.  Then Archie declares "mind stuff dull.  Archie needs action".  Archie then rips the seating up and smashes it over Penelope's head.  Then he punches David in the head.  He starts trying to crush Ruby's head, but she fights back and blows his head clean off, putting him out of action.
Archie is taken out.
Outside now and London has been flattened.  Peter is siting trying to recover, another superhuman - DJ Chill attacks Zenith who sets him on fire.  David, with Ruby and Spook in their energy forms reappear.  Zenith desperately asks "why don't they just stop and leave us alone?"  Peter grabs him and pulls him through a hole in space. "He ran away" says David, "It doesn't matter.  It's all over now.  It's all ours".

Elsewhere Zenith asks Peter what he did.  Peter says he shoved them forwards in time or rather he shifted them in space and let time catch up while they were in suspension.  Zenith asks how much time has passed, and Peter says "weeks. Perhaps months.  I'm afraid it was rather a leap in the dark".  Then they look up and see the sun. It is a huge black circle, "oh no" says Zenith "what have they done? What have they done to the sun?" Peter can only recall a premonition he had:

Peter: "(I've been here before) Freezing. Things that used to be human drag themselves in the perpetual shadows, sobbing with shame.  A skyful of frozen cinders.  A child's doll driven mad by the horrors it has witnessed stares up at me.  What have they done?  What have they done to the world? I wish the sun would only rise.  And then I realise it has risen.  And the sun is black."

Zenith snaps him out of his reverie, he asks if the whole world is like this and Peter says it's probably safe to assume the worst.  We then return to Peyne and his book of the events, now he's reached his twenties.  Now he is backtracking and introducing himself back into the narrative again.
The Black Sun.
He remembers being in the bunker with Shockwave and Blaze and Peter turned up and showed him something... or did he imagine Peter's visit?  Then there was the war.  And then he was brought into the presence of the superhumans he oversaw the creation of forty-six years ago.  David tells him:

David: "We made it happen just the way you told us to when we were young.  The age of humanity is now a closed chapter in the history books.  Except there won't be any history books."

Peyne says he hopes they aren't ready to consign him to history, he has protection.  David says he was like a father to them, he doesn't need protection from them.

Then Shockwave, Blaze and their kid cross over to the side of the rest of the superhumans, leaving him feeling like "an abandoned pet.  I wanted to cry. The last man in a world no longer human... nothing can describe how it feels when one's heart dies."  David is holding Zenith's kid and says it's time they shared something with Peyne.
Zenith's son.
At the start of World War 2, Nazi scientists created the first superhuman "Masterman".  Some of those experts defected to the allies bringing with them the "Masterman serum" to create "Maximan" and then later the rest of them.  David goes on to say, "that serum originated with extradimensional entities called the Lloigor.  These entities exist beyond space and time..."  And suddenly Peyne realise what's coming next and just what he had done.

David: "...We even fought the Lloigor without realising just what they were.  Beyond time and space, existing simultaneously at every moment in history.  It was us you see.  It was us all along.  We are.  We were. We will be, The Lloigor".

We then return to Zenith and Peter as they fly around seeing how the whole world is now in ruins.   They arrive back in London and Zenith wants to hide somewhere.  Peter says they'd find them sooner or later, "they've finally done what they intended to do a long time ago". Zenith says maybe it's time he tells him what the plan was.

In the sixties they found the government was trying to sterlise them to prevent them breeding.  It was then they formulated the so-called plan.  Peyne had instilled in them that they were to be mankinds evolutionary successors, "as far beyond humanity and humanity was beyond the first air-breathing fish.  That was his dream and it split us apart".  Peter wanted to lift humanity up to their level, he really thought it was possible back then in the sixties.

The others had a more clean slate approach, Zenith parents were to produce the first child, Peter and Ruby Fox the second.  But Peter refused to particpate as did Siadwel Rhys.  The others said it didn't matter, they told them how they planned to cleanse the planet by wrenching the Earth of it's axis and killing ninety percent of terrestrial life in the process, "a clean slate".  Looks like shifting the axis wasn't enough, "now look what they've done."
Peyne still getting younger.
We return to Peyne, a fit young man in his early twenties now.  He thinks a lot about Shockwave and Blaze, Blaze is a Lloigor now.  Shockwave however was cloned from Ruby's DNA and Ruby wanted it back, disintergrating Shockwave in the process.   After that they all became energy forms and flew into the Black Sun, "and I dreaded their return".

He thought that after the superhuman war and rise of the Black Sun the worst was over, but he was completely wrong.  He imagined there were still a few people alive in the world and that included Peter and Zenith.  They must have heard the shriek filling the world of "terror and triumph and disgust and joy." The others had been incubating in the sun and now they were returning:

Peyne: "The Black Sun wasn't a sun you see.  It was a door.  It was an egg. It was the physical extrusion of a realm beyond our own. It was a gateway into the world of the Lloigor. The Many-Angled Ones.  And on that day, the gateway was finally opened."

The Lloigor were finally free to invade the phsycial universe and for Peyne it was infinitely worse because it was his superhumans that were the Lloigor.   Time had become meaningless, he thinks on how it would take ages to work out what really happened. "I just can't be bothered" he thinks, "I seem to be forgetting things now."

He doesn't understand the early parts of the book he's been writing, "in fact it's really boring."  All he remembers is that it started with a scream and Earth went into spasm.  We then see Zenith and Peter getting ready to confront the Lloigor who stand before them as golden energy forms.  The one who was David asks if they are really sure they want to face them who have given up flesh and have a conciousness extending across a multitude of dimensions. Peter says they're ready.  "Speak for yourself" whispers Zenith.

Peyne remembers he didn't see any of that final battle until it was over. He felt sorry for them, what did they think they were going up against?

Peyne: "And yet, it doesn't seem right, somehow.  Peter was never  so reckless.  He used to think like a chess player.  Why did he confront them so directly?"

We see Peter wrestling with the everchanging forms of the Lloigor, he's brain friend and tossed down onto the statue of Maximan, the steel fist going through his chest.  Still clinging to life he mentally attacks but ends up being immolated. Now only Zenith is left.
Peter is killed.
Peyne is now a child, and he writes that he "can't seem to write what's in my head.  Can't remember the words."  He writes about how he can't remember why Peter came to see him and what he was carrying in his hand. Then he goes skipping off.  Meanwhile we see what became of Zenith.  He is putting up a good fight when his child suddenly appears floating in front of him. 

The boy asks if Zenith remembers him, then suddenly turns into a mouth full of teeth saying "maybe you remember me now.  Iok Sokot".  Zenith stammers something, but to no avail.  A flash and he is a charred skeleton lying on the ground close by where Peter was killed.
And so is Zenith.
Peynes writing is childish now and he recalls how when he was an old man the Lloigor brought him to view what was left of the bodies of Zenith and Peter, "I liked Peter Sant John the best of all the superhumans I made."  The Lloigor set about changing the world. The people outside now have hands for heads. The sea that washes up to his window is sometimes gold, sometimes faeces.  He thinks they are bored of Earth and doesn't know what they will do next.

The now young child Peyne puts down his pencil and goes to sleep on his bed.  Ruby comes in to say goodbye and finds him now a baby.  She picks him up and holds him saying she wonders what's left of his brilliant mind?  She looks inside and sees Peter St. John in there.  She tells him to forget about that and takes him onto the balcony. She lets go of him and he floats and regresses back to a foetus then out of phsycial existence.

Ruby: "Look! Look what you made!  You're the last of the human race!  Your dream has eaten you whole!  Look what you made!"

The Lloigor come together and look at Peynes book.  They call it "as interesting as ant tracks in the dirt" and destroy it.  Then they leave Earth, "the lunatic spires of London catching fire as they ascended."

Their ascent is described by Peyne, he does not feel, he only narrates and has no opinion. They had grown too vast for Earth's horizon to contain them, but before they left "they stamped their mark on the very subsistence of the planet"  Then they streamed off into space, past all the planets in the system, "outstripping light as they left the solar system behind".
The Lloigor leave Earth.
They went faster and faster racing along the galactic edge and out into the ocean of darkness. Growing vaster than galaxies, annihilating spacetime with their velocity.  Faster and more huge, "catching sight of the ultimate horizon of our universe".  There is the curve of spacetime, the outer limit of possibility approaching the "intangible walls of creation".

Peyne: "And I can't wait to see what's there.  I can't wait for them to see and finally understand.  I can feel them!  I can feel the sudden terror as they reach the threshold of being and catch a glimpse there of something vast beyond all imagining.  Something greater by far than them.  I can feel their shock as they reach that last great uncrossable barrier and realise they're trapped forever.  And beyond the prison universe, there's a hand. And I finally see what it's holding"

The hand is Peter St. John, safe in his office, holding the Chimera pyramid which the Lloigor are all now trapped inside.  He puts it down and says "Ha" as he walks off.
The Lloigor, stuck in a universe of their own.
Later he is talking with Zenith who says they must be pissed off in there.  Peter says he thinks it was a fairly "elegant" way of dealing with them, "they got what they wanted - a universe to rule."  Zenith changes the subject saying it looks like Labour will win the next election, unlike our world where Neil Kinnock was party leader then, this time it's John Smith.

Peter: "Oh, I don't know Zenith. I rather like Downing Street.  And if I move it'll be to... a bigger place".

We cut to couple of weeks later, Zenith and Archie are hanging out driving Zenith's manager Eddie mad.  Eddie puts the news on to discover John Smith has died of a heart attack (spookily when he became party leader post 1992 electoral defeat, the real John Smith died of a heart attack in 1994 paving the way for Tony Blair) and his party is disarray this close to the election on July 23rd. Peter gives his condolences but says the election will go ahead as scheduled. Eddie thinks there is something fishy about all this. "Don't look at me, Eddie" says Zenith, "I've never voted for him".
|Zenith considers new possibilities.
On July 24th Zenith is attending a party while Eddie fusses about his next change of direction, he's changed his mind, it won't be punk it'll be all the "gender-bender" nonsense.  Zenith says Eddie just wants to see him in a bra then drunkenly hugs him. He then leaves the party saying he's fed up with pop music, "it's time for something new I reckon".  He gets into a cab and the cabbie tells him the Tories are in for another five years. "Yeah thought so" says Zenith, "home James."

We end this final Zenith story with a reporter at the Tory election celebrations. Peter St. John has been given his first vote of confidence by the British people.  He's promising a radical new direction for the party and the country and teh electorate has given him the go ahead.  It's been a long road from superhuman flower-power activist to respected member of Thatcher's cabinet.  "But one wonders if, in his wildest dreams, he could ever have imagined this?" says the reporter.  And we end on a close up of Peter's face, his eyes completely white...
A superpowered Tory PM.  Worrying.
And, bar a collosally misjudged one-off for prog 2001 (included in this collection along with a terrible text story by Mark Millar) that was it for Zenith.  I've always had a bit of an ambivalent relationship with this story and most of it sadly can be boiled down to really not liking the art.  Steve Yeowell here is somewhere between his high energy, loose manga style he used for the first three Zenith storylines and his more delicate and precise work on Devlin Waugh.  At this mid-point it looks clumsy and is not helped by a poor coloring job too.  There is plenty I do like, from all the hints dropped that Peyne and the Lloigor are inside the Chimera which stops the ending feeling like a deus ex machina.   I like Peyne's writing style changing as he gets younger, even though he ends up the main character in the story where part of me thinks Zenith should have a more forefront role.  The revelation that the superhumans are also the Lloigor does feel a bit like it comes from leftfield, but does just about work.  There have been enough premonitions that in retrospect fit now.  The plan has always been there too, and turns out that would have been just as bad for humanity even if the superhumans hadn't become the Lloigor.  I think the main problem is that this is The Godfather 3 to the previous Zenith storylines Godfather 2.  A fine story in its own right, but suffers from having one of the best 2000AD storylines ever as its predeccessor.  Overall though, Zenith is well worth checking out if you haven't already. The four volumes have been released in sumptious hardbacks with all the extra material included.  You really have no excuse for not checking out 2000AD's only superhero now.


  1. My main thoughts while reading:

    - That's not how evolution works. How comes that beings "infinitely more evolved" than us don't get basic science?
    - Actually they should have been much MORE paranoid about you.
    - And yet, there are still lung fish.
    - Wanted... it... back... THAT'S NOT HOW DNA WORKS!
    - Heh, nice use of Chekhov's Gun
    - Superpowered politician... yeah, it feels we just got yet another stealth doomsday scenario.

    Apparently all the fucks I could give this month about lovecraftian madness/weirdness was used up by the latest issue of Gwenpool of all things (it suddenly went all Animal Man / In The Mouth of Madness on me). ^^;

  2. I was trying to remember all the way through whether I'd actually read this story first time round. It wasn't until that last image that I realised I had. Must have made such an impression.

    I felt the same way as you about the artwork. The earlier stuff in the series was fine, of a little pedestrian (not that there's anything wrong with that. I remember though about this time 2000AD was having a strange relationship worth colour printing. There we're some technical issues. They got some new kit and they seemed keen to use it to the max. But there was quite a bit of psychedelia going on. There's an Anderson strip from around the same period that's similarly trippy (that's the one they printed the pages out of order and didn't notice).

    Glad to have finally found someone who shares my opinion about Godfather 3 (I might even go further. Whatever the relative artistic merits of the films, is three that I actually like watching). You probably know he wanted to call it something non Godfather related but was overruled for marketing reasons.

    Is the baddies being trapped in a fake reality a trope? I can think of a few examples. Like that Moriarty Star Trek one for example.

    The ontological paradox is a bit of a cliche too. One thing I've never seen addressed in fiction is how they come about. My theory is that there's a series of iterations, especially in the classic time travel 'it's your future self!' version. So the first time round there must be a conventual solution to the story. Then, having one, you use time travel to go back and assist yourself this time. There might be a Groundhog Day number of loops, getting easier all the time, until the solution is inevitable and relatively easy. I'd like to see that in fiction. It would be nice if there was away of signalling to yourself that this is what was going on and recording what iteration you're on somehow. Maybe you could send a note to yourself though time (like Babylon 5) but each time draw another mark on the paper. Ooh, that might be a nice climax. A single page of A4 for the message but hundreds of volumes of notebooks to record all the notches.

  3. @Malitia: Grant Morrison is like one of those Star Trek writers who think DNA = Magic. Press the right DNA buttons and you can turn into a God. Or a lungfish. That Gwenpool issue sounds intriguing though, I can never get enough Lovecraftian weirdness, why I have another Alan Moore does Lovecraft book lined up for July!

    @Alan: You know my Feelings about colour artwork in 2000AD by now. I wasn't a fan at the start and when the comic went all colour I had ditched it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the comic now has b/w art running in it again, which is as it should be.

    I believe The Godfather 3 was actually to have been called The Death of Michael Corleone. While it's not my fave of the trilogy (I actually like the first the best) its a good film in its own right and like I say just suffers in comparison to its illustrious predecessor.

    As for time travel and Groundhog days, sorry to bring Star Trek up again, but there is sort of what you are talking about in one episode of TNG where the ship is stuck in a one day loop which ends with the ship exploding. As they go through more iterations more and more people get deja vu and so on until they figure out something bad is going to happen and manage to send a message via Data forward into the next loop when they figure out what the cause is. Love that episode.

  4. @varalys

    The current Gwenpool arc is about some people (her brother, but from what he says there must be others) bringing her back in her own world, old life, before she could ever mess with the Marvel Universe... now that narrative wants her back (where my lovecraftian ideas come from about the arc).

    It starts innocently enough with random McGuffins just so happening in her general vicinity, but when these get foiled/don't work, it escalates into something very weird.

  5. That sounds pretty interesting, looks like I have another series to check now.

  6. It's much better than it has any right to be.

    One of my 2 greatest winners of Marvel's All-New All-Different season... and I pretty much had to be talked into it around issue #3.

    Me: "It's a blatant and cynical cash grab!* also so incredibly PINK."
    Them: "Believe us! It's awesome!"
    Me: "I'm... not convinced."
    Them: "It has genuine heart, and a My Neighbour Totoro homage cover!"
    Me: "Umm... I'm listening."

    * Started from a variant cover getting popular with cosplayers.

  7. Oooh I love that cover. And if it's a winner with with you I consider that a great recommendation. I'll stick the first trade on my Buy List :)

  8. Was scoffed upon because the original variant cover was "Gwen Stacy (Spider-Gwen) as Deadpool", and at first glance the character is "Marvel's attempt at Harley Quinn" (closer to Harley Quinn meets Superboy-Prime actually). ^^;

  9. Harley Quinn is DC's female Deadpool though. (At least her current incarnation is) which just makes things even more post-modern now. Comics are confusing. I have to admit that apart from Infinite Crisis all I know about Superboy Prime is Linkara's impressions of him, and he's not exactly unbiased :D

  10. The main thing, why I made the comparison: Superboy-Prime is from the "real world" and thinks he is the "hero/main character" in this story because this is fiction so what else would he be? :3

  11. I love that episode too. It's one of my favourites. It's just so well plotted. Almost like poetry with the repetition of the same scenes. I especially like the "Oh fuck" bit when, despite their efforts to avoid their fate, the glass still breaks. It's full of nice touches like that. Has an almost supernatural element to it. Stalked by implacable doom.

    The first post 'all colour' b&w story I recall in the comic was I think Brigand Doom. Unfortunately I didn't like the artwork in that generally (also it just seemed like a v for vendetta rip off). But I was very glad when they made the decision just to go with monochrome or colour depending on what suited the story. Use of colour is probably a topic of its own. I had the first edition killing joke, so it was a bit of a shock to see how they really changed things for the re-release. (I don't think either of them is better than the other. They both work in different ways)

  12. @Malitia: Just as long as she isn't as whiny as Superboy Prime, who let us not forget was a stand-in for how much DC hated their fans by then. Depowered he ends up sitting in his parents basement all day trolling DC's forums.

    @Alan: Oh yeah, it's definitely in my top five fave ST:TNG stories. Also I like it because the lovely Beverly gets the main role. My favourite TNG episode is the one where she ends up in a pocket universe piloting the Enterprise on her own.

    I think it's notable from the stuff I've recently covered in 2000AD that the artists seem to work better with colour when they are the ones handling the colour themselves. Also I really appreciate the allowance of b/w art again in 2000AD because it has allowed D'Israeli to do his fine work. I genuinely think he's my fave of the current batch of 2000AD artists.

    I too have a first edition Killing Joke (pink writing on the cover). I find it harder to enjoy now because I've delved so much into Moore's rather Problematic love of sexual and sexualised violence. And the one good thing to come of it, which was Babs becoming Oracle was undone in the New 52 reboot when she was made Batgirl again even though there were two other women who wore the mantle kicking about by then.

  13. Yeah I like that one too. TNG was very good at exploring ideas. Nothing wrong with a bit of classic pew pew pew it's submarine warfare 'in SPAAAACCCE'; but a bit of philosophy every now and then distinguishes it from the competition. Like the original series. And also like TOS it followed the one third of the episodes ok, one third terrible, but one third just fantastic. Of course my fave is Inner Light. Has anyone ever watched that without a sniffle?

    Speaking of ST, you ever seen Brent Spiner's web series 'fresh hell'? You've probably noticed how the TNG cast is happy to take the piss out of themselves in things like big bang theory. But this is just something else. It's wonderful. Basic premise: Brent plays himself. He's managed to lose all his money and popularity after some unfortunate incident (we never find our what that is, but OJ Simpson's agent won't represent him because he'd be too hard a sell). So he's reduced to giving acting classes and ends up mentoring his neighbour, an aspiring porn actress. It's just so sweet though. She's the most adorable woobie ever. She loves mythical animals "like unicorns, or tigers". Check it out if you get a chance.

    @ malitia

    I love that cover. Wish I had a clue what's going on there :-)

  14. Inner Light is very god too, any episode that gave Patrick Stewart the chance to act the hell out of everyone is always worth a look, though Sarek would probably be my fave of that genre.

    I hadn't heard of that Brent Spiner series, sounds fun. I don't really like The Big Bang Theory, but I do like how it's rehabilitated Wil Wheaton (who I never actually found all that annoying when I watched TNG) he's obviously having enormous fun playing an asshole version of himself.

  15. @varalys

    Well, in a similar situation Gwen would probably sit around in her (upper floor) room and play Grand Theft Auto... I mean, Car Crimes, and comment how civilians in these games should really know better by the umpteenth game. ^^;

  16. Gwenpool sounds like my kind of gal :D

  17. Well, thinking about it, we've never seen you in the same room together.

  18. Do you have pink speech balloons, and narration boxes? :3

  19. If I don't take my Olanzapine I do. Especially the confounded narration boxing all the time.

  20. Gawd. Just tried to watch a film and, for the first time ever, had to stop because it was too much. Called 'Room'. Was recommended as a very well done 'sort of thriller'. But the first ten minutes are just such a real portrayal of poverty it was just unendurable. Amazing acting from a woman and some young kid. It was heartbreaking. No melodrama or anything. Just cloyingly real. Makes Ken Loach look like an amateur. Heh, supposedly it's got a bit of a twist. Guess I'll never know. Now I need to watch Commando or something to snap out of it. :-)

  21. Wow, that sounds like a great movie I must never watch. I crumple into tears at the slightest sign of the sad. Then I have to watch some comedy to cheer myself up. I blame womanly hormones, but that's not something you can get away with all of the time. I'm having a bit of a melancholy moment writing up the final blog post for this month, it's a Dirty Frank story and I identify with him waaaay too much.

  22. Oh sorry to hear that. I'm intrigued by who Dirty Frank may be though. Especially why you identify with him. Heh, will I suddenly get scared to know you? I think one of the things with Room was there were a couple of bits that really hit home for me (had a lovely childhood, but we were a bit poor in the early years). Really felt for the kid and his mum in one scene that was oh too familiar. Just wanted to hug them both and say it can turn out ok in the end. I'll maybe give it another go though at some stage in the future. Read the Wikipedia entry to take the edge off, and now I really want to stick it out. Funny how many reviewers used the exact same wording as my post above. So glad it's not just me. Turns out the actors won loads of awards. Not surprised.

    Don't know if you've been near Mammoth today. I decided to look into Nazi punching a bit more. Some interesting comic examples. I would suggest a post on that but someone has already done a great blog on the subject.

    Was chatting about my feelings on the subject with someone. On the same lines as I was on about it with you. She pointed out that my favourite tarzan line from the Johnny Weismuller films is when he gets pissed off with the Nazis.

    "Now Tarzan make war!"

    Funny how I'd forgotten that. But she reckons it's probably a factor.

    Heh, I'd love to sit down with a psychologist sometime and see how influential media might have been on my personality.

    (I definitely get my love of posh clothing from Basil Brush)

  23. Dirty Frank is probably the greatest character 2000AD has created in recent years. I've written about him before under the Mega City Undercover tag, but this story really delves into who he is and what motivates him.

    I have seen those comics on Mammoth, they amused me. More Nazi punching the better.

    Tarzan versus the Nazis sounds pretty awesome, but what were the Nazis doing in the jungle?

  24. They were up to no good I can tell you.

    It was awesome, one of the best tarzan films ever. One of the relative highest grossing top. Perhaps unsurprisingly in view of the time period. It did have a political motivation. Tarzan is symbolic of US isolationism. The Nazis invade some lost civilisation as a forward operating base. Tarzan initially refuses to help. But then they kidnap a friend. We get the classic line. The audience cheers. And tarzan wipes the Nazis out.

    You can see the propaganda value and the message they were trying to send. (the film was made at the behest of the US State Department)

    Cheetah was, as always, the real star of course


  25. Ah, so you secretly want to be a purveyor of cross dressing giant robots. It all makes sense now. I've just read your Dirty Frank reviews. Yeah, interesting character. When I was reading the comic the wally squad wasn't really explored, so it's a nice alternative to the overt highly visible style of policing we normally associate with Dredd. I'll save any more comments for your next post. Hopefully by then I can also come up with something original beyond my usual polemics about the psychological consequences of under cover investigations.

  26. Cross Dressing Trev is all woman!

    Well it's be my next, next post. I'll be popping up one of the newish Strontium Dog stories up around midnight if I don't fall asleep again.

    There's an interesting reversal about Frank that because he is for all intents and purposes already mad, being an undercover Judge actually helps keep him sane as it were. This storyline I have just bashed out a post on explores that dichotomy very well.