Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Because Someone Asked...

Shirtless Kirk w/AfroBlame De.

Star Trek 754: The Trial of Captain Kirk

754. The Trial of Captain Kirk

PUBLICATION: Star Trek #24, Gold Key Comics, May 1974

CREATORS: Unknown (writer), Alberto Giolitti (artist)

STARDATE: 19:26.2 - Follows issue #22.

PLOT: Ok, I'm going to go into more detail than usual here, because it gets real crazy. The Enterprise investigates illegal mining in a pure iron asteroid field where all the rocks look like jewels. Kirk and Spock in evac suits find a ship disguised as an asteroid and roll off it before it goes to warp. It fires on the starship and is destroyed. Kirk is shortly thereafter arrested and brought before the "Supreme Council" on video evidence of his carousing with the miners. Kirk goes to a plastic surgeon friend tired of fixing wrinkles who gives him a new face and afro. The good captain puts chewing gum in the works of an elevator where he traps a secretary and seduces her. She gives up the name of the amateur videographer who caught the secret meeting on tape. He breaks in to the guy's house and finds special effects gear. Proof that he didn't do it. The special effects man shows up, but Kirk lets him believe he's a new client, except the surgery reaches its time limit and he's recognized by one of the council members, the actual big bad of the story. Meanwhile, Spock takes a navigational tech assignment so he can basically chart any course he wants, and goes to the asteroid field. They follow another asteroid ship to a planet where it jettisons key evidence. Except the planet is covered in deadly radiation. No problem, Spock and McCoy upload their minds into robots who go down to the planet, fight a huge tentacled, headless monster (called a "dragon"), and bring back the proof of the big bad's identity. His plan to make Kirk's death like a suicide are foiled when the captain uses an aquarium model in the fx studio to wash away his gun and all the evidence is uncovered.


DIVERGENCES: The Federated Planet Security is the Federation's police force. The writer overestimates the value of iron.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Kirk gets dowwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnn
REVIEW: Certainly imaginative! The story takes so many crazy twists and turns that you have to admire it as a piece of pure comics. And the plot is actually a little better than Court-Martial's! Giolitti makes some odd choices, like the chicken-billed prosecutor (who made me think of Futurama's hyper-chicken), the crystalline "iron" asteroids and the starfish-like "dragon", but they pay off in much the same way as the story does. Weirdly entertaining.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Iron Man's Armory

When Topless Robot posted Iron Man's 10 Most Ridiculous Armors yesterday, a number of people jumped in criticizing. Where was the Santa Suit? Where was the nose? What was the classic look flexi armor doing there? So here are some forgotten gems, both good and bad.

My Personal 5 Most Ridiculous
5. The Santa Suit
I know you like to call it the Silver Sentinel, but too me, it'll always smell like Christmas. Bulky enough to carry presents, Iron Man should never have given up the gold.

4. Egyptian Iron Man
In a world created by the Sphinx in New Warriors #11-12, he defended New Egypt with the power of his flat top and pharaoh beard.

3. Heroes Reborn Iron Man
I know Topless Robot already did this one, but it bears repeating. Giant exhaust pipes. Vulnerable wiring at every articulation point. Look over function. The SUV of Iron Man armors (and I mean that in a bad, rollover risk, way).

2. The nose
Looking less like the Tin Man than the Scarecrow, the Iron Nose was just THE worst idea in all of Iron Man history. (Well, a close second to teenage Tony Stark. Oh yeah, and I gotta factor in Civil War in there. Anyway, ONE of the worst ideas in Iron Man history.) Did Tony really need to smell stuff or what?

1. Golden Oldie

You want to talk ridiculous, then you have to come to What If #34 where Aunt May becomes Iron Man. Or else you're not really trying.

My Personal 5 Favorites
Since "best" is subjective anyway, I'm not making the claim that these are. They're just my favorites.

5. Stealth Armor
Respectfully disagreeing with Topless Robot's claims, a stealth armor with weaker weapons isn't a ridiculous notion. It has to have a weaker energy signature to get under radar. Plus, at the time, the cool black finish gave us a break from the Christmas look.

4. Timeslip Iron Man
Steampunk Iron Man? Guy Davis artwork? I am THERE. (As previously seen on this very blog.)

3. Movie Iron ManHey, they really made it seem like it could exist, so yeah, it belongs on this list. If it wasn't so short, I'd have given love to the Mark I as well (bonus points for being built inside Osama's cave).

2. Classic Red and GoldIt's the one I grew up with, and damn it, it's still Tony Stark's best look. I may like the IDEA that he continually tweaks his armor, but when it comes to iconic superheroes, this is how I prefer him. After this, it gets a little too techie or video gamey for my tastes. But wait, if that's Tony's best armor, what have I kept for #1?

1. Iron Man 2020
It's not one of Tony's armors. His descendant Arno Stark was quite a bad dude, and as soon as I saw his toothy helmet at the end of Machine Man #2 with artwork by Barry Windsor-Smith, I was hooked. That is truly badass.

In Limbo
0. Manga Iron Man
Unable to make my mind up about an Iron Man made of combined Avengers vehicles. Stupid yet awesomely appropriate. Yay or nay? I'm going to have to go with "depends on your personal love of Voltron".

What are your favorites and unfavorites?

And check out Bob Layton's Best and Worst list. Even if he wasn't THE Iron Man artist, he'd still be right.

Star Trek 753: Child's Play

753. Child's Play

PUBLICATION: Star Trek #23, Gold Key Comics, March 1974

CREATORS: Unknown (writer), Alberto Giolitti (artist)

STARDATE: 17:23.4 - Follows issue #21 (Season 3).

PLOT: Kirk beams down to a planet run by kids, where anyone over 13 dies from a plague, and now the landing party is infected too. Sound familiar? While the Enterprise flies off to get a missing ingredient to the cure, Kirk gets caught up in harmless wargames with opposing child factions. Meanwhile, the Enterprise avoids a meteor and Spock and McCoy cudgel some cavemen silly. They get back in time to save the landing party and promise medicine for everyone.

CONTINUITY: First appearance of Nurse Chapel in the comics (albeit as a redhead). Child's Play uses the same exact premise Miri does.

DIVERGENCES: The colorist still can't quite believe there would be black people on a starship.

PANEL OF THE DAY - What the hell does that mean?
REVIEW: While I've usually found good things to say about past issues, this is a truly awful comic. The plot is recycled from a classic TOS episode (thankfully without "bonk bonk on the head"). The dangers are episodic and unrelated to each other. In Kirk's case, they're just a runaround with knights and castles and no real danger. There's a big scene where Kirk has to fire on a child, but it's all a game and there are no consequences. Chapel finds a second cure that's missing another ingredient, but that ingredient isn't any more available, so that's two more wasted panels. A big waste of time. Definitely one to skip.

Monday, December 29, 2008


(Spoilers for The Next Doctor ahead.)And by that, I mean this year's Christmas special, not the actual next Doctor to succeed Tennant by the end of next year. And for those who really thought it could be David Morrissey (above, right), all I can say is sorry! When a "future" version of the Doctor shows up (albeit with amnesia), there could only be four possible explanations.
1) He really was the next Doctor, which we meet here as a tester for 2010. If he hadn't gotten good reviews, some parallel timeline thing might have been conjured up (after all, we don't ever expect the Doctor to become the Valeyard, do we?).
2) This was a parallel Doctor, which would have accounted for the presence of the parallel Cybermen.
3) He was a con man, using the Doctor's legend to his benefit. This was done to great comic effect in the Big Finish audio The One Doctor, which is probably on Russell T Davies' radar since he seems to have poached the Weakest Link sequence from it back in Bad Wolf.
Or 4) he was a lowly, confused human who somehow got some of the Doctor's memories (like Tim in Human Nature or Donna in Journey's End). This isn't the one I would have expected (or even thought of), so it's good this was indeed RTD's choice.

Bit obvious once it gets going though, but that may just be me. The rest of my household actually fell for the red herrings like the fobwatch. Morrissey's Doctor was nicely old school, if a touch generic, and there's great fun to be had before his identity is revealed. Despite not being the real thing, there are a lot of similarities (a lost family, the name of his companion, his means of escape, what's in the watch, etc.). Even better is the real Doctor getting to play the part of the companion, asking a lot of questions, etc. He's incredibly humane in this, and Morrissey's true origin may well touch you. It's once the cat's out of the bag that things go a south.

It's a Christmas special in the Dickensian vein, with orphans put to work by a cruel lady, but with Cybermen who've broken out of the Void in the wrong time. Not necessarily a big fan of theirs, though there are some interesting twists on the usual formula. When the giant steampunk mech comes out of the Thames, I felt my mind teeter on the edge of my possible reactions. Final result: I started laughing. It might have gone another way, and I don't blame you if you hated it, but it was one of those crazy Russell T. Davies ideas, much restrained through the opening acts of the story. Total visual silliness.
But you kinda needed it, I think. After the first half-hour's mystery and presentation of the Morrissey Doctor, the story treads water. Without that final punch, I don't think The Next Doctor would rise out of its okay-ness. Not at all the misstep of last year's Voyage of the Damned, but perhaps the most like an episode rather than a special.

Other thoughts about The Next Doctor
-Big fanboy squee moment when the Doctor projects his many faces on the wall, doing the Journal of Impossible Things one better by confirming the existence of the 8 previous Doctors on video.
-A throwaway line mentions a war in the Void, which can only be between the Cybermen and Daleks. Intriguing. Did they help break down the dimensional walls again? Either way, the presence of Voidular Cybusmen in Victorian England opens the door to their invading our universe at any point the creators like.
-I really liked those Cybershades (which I call Cyberapes). Great masks. What the heck were they?!
-Scene I could have done without: The big moment at the end where Morrissey's Doc claims the Doctor never gets thanked. That's just not a true statement, is it?
-Favorite Line: "...and i suppose... they break my heart." Discussing lost companions between Doctors. A great heartfelt moment and what I like these Christmas specials to do, i.e. reflect on the past series in an emotionally meaningful way.

Extra Doctor Who Links
What other bloggers had to say in the wake of the Christmas special:
-For a spoiler-free second opinion, check out Blog THIS, Pal!
-Acrobatic Flea's take on it over at HeroPress.
-Frank makes some good points at Cathode Ray Tube.
-Mwb's World, check it out.
And lots more besides... You've got Google. Use it.

I've been sorely remiss in covering Series 4 on the blog, so expect that situation to be addressed between now and Planet of the Dead, which I expect around Easter.

Star Trek 752: Siege in Superspace

752. Siege in Superspace

PUBLICATION: Star Trek #22, Gold Key Comics, January 1974

CREATORS: Unknown (writer), Alberto Giolitti (artist)

STARDATE: 36:24.3 - Follows issue #20.

PLOT: The Enterprise is sucked into a black hole and lands in "superspace", apparently what universes are suspended in. On a nearby planet, they find an underground society who turned their backs on weapons when their one super-weapon went crazy and started destroying everything. That machine mind is still animating vegetation (especially machine-faced treants) who follow the crew and girl du jour Rhuna down to the city. Weaponless, the inhabitants start dying with very little dignity:
Kirk discovers her bracelet holds the machine mind, simply thought to be a trinket. He zaps it, stopping the living weapons and then shoots it out at a supernova to create the extra energy that opens up a new black hole through which they escape. In the coda, Kirk thinks it's really too bad he couldn't get in Rhuna's pants.

CONTINUITY: The Enterprise's destination is Draconis, which might refer to a variety of locations using that word in the Trek universe.

DIVERGENCES: Kirk has never heard of a black hole (even a scientifically inaccurate black hole like this one). Uhura is just a touch too white.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Star Trek meets James Bond
REVIEW: What works in this story is the visuals. Giolitti goes wild with superspace and the planet's architecture, and the tree-monsters (and their fiery death throes) are striking. But it's also a story with a LOT of exposition, with little reason to be set in another dimension, and pretty terrible solutions to the problems (the over-obvious, over-fortuitous bracelet and the silly techobabble of the supernova). Pretty pictures, but that's it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

This Week in Geek (22-28/12/08)


Only one purchase for myself, and that's Suspiria on DVD. Postmodern Barney peaked my curiosity recently and a new 2-disc edition came out exactly at the right time. I'm not a big horror fan generally, but Argento looks to be interesting.

Gifts: I gave my roommate a stand-up Dalek (to replace that old Captain Sherridan we once destroyed during a binge) and Inside Delta Force, cuz he's a big fan of The Unit like me. Others to be revealed when I actually hand them out.


DVDs: First flipped is Sarah Jane Adventures Series 1, the Doctor Who spin-off for the younger set, and it's a brief one. 6 stories (all but one told in two half-hour episodes). They stand up to adult scrutiny a lot more than I expected after seeing only the Bubble Shock pilot, especially the last two stories. And hey, baby Slitheen? That's HIGH-larious! The DVD is a little bare when it comes to extras. No commentary tracks, strangely enough considering that Doctor Who and Torchwood have them on every single episode. Disappointing. Interviews with the cast are from tv sources (Blue Peter and the like). Fun feature: Outtakes unlocked by completing an easy quiz.

Doctor Who Series 4 took quite a deal longer to flip, what with a commentary track on each episode (the best is on Silence in the Library - listen to Moffat and Tennant flip out when Julie Gardner dares say the Doctor has a wife!), the full run of Doctor Who Confidential, deleted scenes presented by producer Russell T Davies, a half hour special on ± the end of an era, and Tennant's at once touching and hilarious video diaries. It's a great package with some great episodes (from the Agatha Christie episode on, there are very few false notes) and Donna turns out to be a great companion. Reminds me that I really should do some Doctor Who posts for the Series, which I harshly neglected last spring.

Macbeth (1979) was next. That's the Thames Television production of the Royal Shakespeare Company's 1976 minimalist version with Ian McKellan and Judy Dench. I know it's Macbeth, but this thing is bleak. Practically monochromatic, no sets, it's all played on the actors' faces. There's only so far a psychopathic Macbeth can take me, but I did enjoy the way the visions were integrated into the story, i.e. as not exactly magical at all. Creepy dolls! The DVD has what I wish the BBC Shakespeare DVDs would have: extras! Ian McKellan has a good long interview (more than 30 minutes) recalling the production and how they went about it. Discussing the plays is key to these things, I feel.

A bargain bin copy of tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible was next, just because I needed some popcorn cinema to cleanse my palate. Now, Mission: Impossible isn't a bad movie per se. Certainly, it has a couple of iconic set pieces. So what's wrong with it? It's the title. It's just not true enough to the source material. The team not only takes second seat to the single star, but gets massacred in the opening sequence. Worst of all, the only character FROM the tv series turns out to be the villain. Deconstructionism gone wrong. The movie does stand on its own, but it pisses in the fans' corn flakes. The DVD extras are annoying however. The material has way too much Tom Cruise ego stroking for my tastes. Montages of his films, acceptance speeches, plugs for MI3, and a LOT of accolades (too many considering he's the film's producer). Meanwhile, an extra on the effects basically just says "hey, we have effects, cool eh?" and nothing more. A visit of the Spy Museum is the highlight, and like Sarah Jane, a quiz also unlocks extra material.

While I was at it, I flipped MI:2. A more entertaining film and DVD package, even if it gets further and further from the tv series. But by this point, it's its own franchise. I'm a fan of Asian cinema, and John Woo gives the film a stylish, romantic look. He also provides a commentary track; he has something of a thick accent, but understandable. I don't think the sequences are as iconic as the first Mission's, and the script has an almost misogynistic streak to it in spots, but Thandie Newton is incredibly watchable, isn't she? The DVD includes good behind the scenes features on the stunts and such, but a bonus disc only has the Tom Cruise festival already found on MI1.

I got Matchstick Men because it was a Ridley Scott movie, but it's a rather understated one. I'm a big fan of con artist stories, and maybe that's why I saw the big con coming very early (despite Ridley's commentary protestations that it isn't possible to do so). Well, I say I guessed, and I did, but I suppose I was more suspicious throughout, but it could have gone another way entirely and for a while I thought that was actually the intended effect: In a world of lies, can you ever believe the truth. Either way, that's still kind of the point and it's a fantastically well observed movie. The DVD has a long making of feature and the commentary features Ridley and the script's writers (which was more interesting to me).

Audios: The Kingmaker is one of Big Finish's audios for the 5th Doctor, also starring Peri and Erimem, written by Dead Ringers' Nev Fountain (and featuring fellow Ringer Jon Culshaw doing Tom Baker's voice). It's an outrageous spoof, not to be taken at face value to be sure. In it, the Doctor goes back in time to record the truth about Richard III's life in a clever script that uses historical accuracy, Shakespeare's play and temporal paradoxes to great effect. Editorial robots, a bit of transvestism, and evil Shakespeare with a raygun. (I guess I'll have to wait a while yet before Who gives me a palatable version of the Bard.) Just a bit of fun which I listened to for a card I was making...

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: 17 cards which wrap up my Relative Dimensions 4 box. These include everything from Shakespeare with a raygun to the Dalek Chronicles to a d20 joke.

Someone Else's Post of the Week
Scipio has the unique ability to write the most interesting analyses of DC Comics' promotional two-page ads and then turning them into love letters to the DC Universe and revealing why it's the cat's meow. Battle for the Cowl is the latest.

Star Trek 751: The Ashes of Eden

751. The Ashes of Eden

PUBLICATION: Kirk Series Book 1, Pocket Books, June 1995 (DC Comics adaptation 1995)

CREATORS: William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (comics adaptation by the writers and artists Steve Erwin and Jimmy Palmiotti)

STARDATE: Filling in the details between The Undiscovered Country and Generations

PLOT: After the events of ST VI, meets a Klingon-Romulan girl who seduces him and brings him to her planet, a sovereign colony (Chal or Heaven) in the throes of a civil war over the planet's apparent fountain of youth. He's to become their security expert and her lover. As an act of good will, the Federation government has given Chal a gutted Enterprise-A, which Kirk is all too happy to command (with Scotty at his side). What he doesn't know is that the fall of the conspirators in ST VI has created a power vacuum exploited by an old colleague of Kirk's by the name of Drake. He's the new head of Starfleet, but just as much a conspirator as Cartwright was. He manipulates the rest of the TOS crew (Chekov and Uhura are now in Starfleet Intelligence) in an attempt to frame Kirk as a conspirator, turn the tables on Klingons, and get the secret of eternal youth. The Excelsior tracks down the Enterprise where revelations abound: There is no secret to eternal youth, the Children of Heaven are genetically engineered, the girl was using Kirk but really did fall in love with him, Chal was stockpiling weapons, and of course, Drake's plans are blown. It ends with a space battle in which both Drake and the Enterprise-A are destroyed, Excelsior thankfully beaming in its crew at the last minute. Kirk feels rejuvenated by the experience, but leaves his latest love behind, ostensibly to get himself a cabin in the mountains.

CONTINUITY: Kirk holographically revisits the events of Captain Garrovick's death mentioned in Obsession (the technology is not necessarily any more advanced that the holodeck in the Animated Series). Kirk is in an on-again, off-again relationship with Carol Marcus. He shaves off and misses his "Starfleet sideburns".

DIVERGENCES: Drake's special shuttle hits Warp 10 (it must be on the old warp scale, but we never see this technology again).

REVIEW: You know, I really like William Shatner's Kirk novels. They're very entertaining. He likes big ideas and action set pieces, but doesn't skimp on character development for his star, a character he knows intimately. His "ghost writers", the Reeves-Stevens, are masters of Star Trek continuity and their books are also usually some of my favorites. It's a winning combination even if Ashes of Eden is perhaps the least entertaining of their collaborations. The problem lies in the multitude of reveals at the end where everything seems to be a twist. I just didn't care that much about Chal and what was really going on there, expect as a way to explore Kirk's ongoing midlife crisis. And while getting the old crew together for one last adventure(TM) is a lot of fun, the Enterprise doesn't go out in big enough a blaze of glory. It's still a good character piece, however, setting up Kirk's return in Generations and beyond, with action, humor and some rousing lines ("Starfleet captains have to be invincible. It's their job."). Shatner's quirky ego becomes a strength when he writes for Kirk, a little bit as if we were being told a story from Kirk's perspective with all the exaggerations you would expect. Kirk always gets the girl, finds a way to get Sulu out of the captain's chair and into the driver's seat, etc. Enjoy the "quiet", Kirk's adventures get crazier after this.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Spaceknight Saturdays: Great Balls of Water!

In our last issue, a Dire Wraith witch unleashed a giant seaweed monster upon the undersea world of Atlantis, an Atlantis infiltrated by Dire Wraiths. At the same time, Namor the Sub-Mariner sent the sensitive 13-year-old companion to Rom, Sybil, to Atlantis inside a bubble blown by a giant goldfish for protection. I'm sure it made sense at the time.

Now she's spotting Wraiths left and right and they want to kill her, but before they can, the giant monster attacks!
The best thing about this full-page spread is that Atlanteans apparently ride dolphins like they were horses. I love that. Poor little deep sea dolphin. Don't they have to go back up to breathe pretty often? Now, if I'm an Atlantean looking for a more fuel-effective mount, do I have other options?
Yes, much nicer. I like the painted finish on that whale shark. What else have you got?
Manta ray chariot or hammerhead mount? So many options! Maybe if I saw how they handled...
Ah yes, well, in battle with seaweed creatures, the whale sharks seem the most stable and least likely to throw you. I'll have one of those. As I was finishing my shopping, you might have noticed Rom and Namor arriving to fight the monster. It doesn't go too well until a random soldier gives Namor permission to destroy the city. Who cares about Heritage when there are lives at stake? (Well, Namor, apparently.) So with cover fire from Rom, the Sub-Mariner starts to spin around the monster to rip it to shreds, taking half of Atlantis with it.
(So when it's not Aquaman, it's the Flash.)

Just because the monster is dispelled, it doesn't mean the threat is eliminated though. There are still Dire Wraiths to find and send to Limbo, not to mention long-winded speeches to give! I mean, we have Rom AND Namor here. It gets a little Shakespearian, let's say. So before going into battle, Rom makes sure to have a little soundcheck.
But they're too late! Sybil has been drowned!
Oh that poor goldfish! Namor avenges it by putting a trident through the Wraith witch while Rom does his thing on her brood. But what about Sybil? Well, Namor's not done.
Can he do that? Apparently so. He changes her DNA into an Atlantean's so that she can breathe water. As the blue returns to her cheeks, she hopes for a brighter future under the waves, with a new family who hopefully haven't had their house destroyed.

And so Rom must forge once again... alone!

Star Trek 750: The Mummies of Heitius VII

750. The Mummies of Heitius VII

PUBLICATION: Star Trek #21, Gold Key Comics, May 1973

CREATORS: Unknown (writer), Alberto Giolitti (artist)

STARDATE: 30:26.5 - Follows issue #16 (Season 3).

PLOT: The Enterprise must deliver an alien mummy to a research center, but that mummy turns out to be a robotic cyborg that takes over the ship and tries to make it cross into Romulan space, thinking it was bringing its people to a new, fresh world. Our heroes narrowly avoid a battle with the Romulans, while back on Heitius VII, Spock and McCoy fight more mummies and learn their secret history.

CONTINUITY: The similarities between the mummies and the Borg are impressive - zombie-like cyborgs with personal force fields and a desire to convert others into mummies. The Romulans' treaty with the Klingons is mentioned.

DIVERGENCES: Chekov is referred to as a security officer, which he wasn't yet. But then, this is a series that frequently uses Scotty as the resident muscle. The Romulans have a sallow complexion and normal-shaped ears (except the commander). Their ship looks nothing like any design from the show (inside or outside).

PANEL OF THE DAY - Those are Romulans?
REVIEW: Two things strike the reader here. First, it's amazing how close to the Borg the mummies are, enough to make you wonder if they had anything to do with the Borg's genesis (or if they were just also inspired by the Cybermen). Second, there's a fine, completely silent sequence with the mummy rising from the dead and walking the halls of the ship, very rare in this books. Nice and atmospheric. Otherwise, there's just not much to it. Lots of firing phasers at mummies, and an aborted outer space battle.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Nightmare Fuel of the Week: Worst Snowman Ever

Worse than Jack Frost (either the lame horror movie one or the Michael Keaton vehicle).

Worse than Calvin & Hobbes' monstrous snowmen.Thanks Batman: Gotham After Midnight #8! I really needed Nightmare Fuel to get me through the holidays!

Star Trek 749: A World Gone Mad

749. A World Gone Mad

PUBLICATION: Star Trek #20, Gold Key Comics, September 1973

CREATORS: Unknown (writer), Alberto Giolitti (artist)

STARDATE: 32:47.2 - Follows the last issue.

PLOT: The Enterprise returns the spoiled prince Raviki to his home planet where an unscrupulous regent is currently ruling. After trusted subjects try to kill the bratty prince, including his sister, the crew start thinking it's more than political. Turns out a comet passed by spewing gases that have given the population a bad case of SPACE... MADNESS! While Kirk defends the now proven courageous prince from rioters, McCoy and Scotty spacewalk through the comet's tail to get a sample and fabricate an antidote. McCoy gets a little nutty from breathing in the fumes and jumps through the Guardian of Forev--no wait, that's another episode. No, he goes nutty and has a zero-G fist fight with Scotty. When that's done, Scotty seeds the atmosphere with the cure and everything goes back to normal.

CONTINUITY: The Galileo makes another appearance. I guess they fixed it since #16.

DIVERGENCES: McCoy seems to know a lot more about vacuum cleaners than Scotty does. Baseball doesn't seem so forgotten anymore.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Take Me Out to the Ball Game
REVIEW: Star Trek has done a number of SPACE... MADNESS stories, and this one stands out by being at once comic booky (fighting in a comet's tail, hanging out of shuttles, etc.) and pretty violent (mad assassins getting killed, a murdered dog and a guy driving himself into lava!)
Yeah, that's hardcore. In the end, there's an odd moment with the prince taking his shirt off, but that's what makes it a TOS story. The story is little more organic that previous issues, with less reliance on "random encounters", but one does wonder what happened to the villain at the end. We never find out his final fate.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Gift That's Bigger on the Inside

Just now adding to my Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG...Merry Christmas everybody!

Star Trek 748: The Haunted Asteroid

748. The Haunted Asteroid

PUBLICATION: Star Trek #19, Gold Key Comics, July 1973

CREATORS: Unknown (writer), Alberto Giolitti (artist)

STARDATE: 24:92.5 - Follows the last issue.

PLOT: Kirk and crew visit an apparently haunted asteroid tomb, a shrine to a long-dead queen from which looters never return. With the help of the expert Dr. Krisp, a lovely lass who sometimes needs to the fear slapped out of her...
...they navigate the dungeon, fighting robots, harpies, ghosts and flaming fountains along the way. Eventually, they get to the heart of the tomb where the queen is found still alive after centuries. She reveals all. Born with a mutation that would make her nearly immortal, her loving husband created this palace for her when he found out to spare her the paparazzi and resentment, later joining her after his own faked death. Since then, she's turned looters into permanent guests and will soon die anyway, taking the asteroid with her. Kirk and crew escape and she dies a peaceful death triggering the explosion.

CONTINUITY: Kirk finally gets some. After slapping Krisp into submission, he invites her to dinner. Now that's the Kirk we know and roll our eyes at.

DIVERGENCES: Sulu is apparently a former gymnastics gold medal winner (chalk it up to another completely unrelated sphere of interest). Scotty's more into weight-lifting, able to get a half-ton robot over his head and spinning it round.

REVIEW: A real mess, this one. Though it features a couple of shocking images - the room full of human remains, Spock on fire - it's also full of plot holes and contrivances. The madness some looters have returned with is never explained. Nor is Kirk's school chum's missing memory, or the fact he's going barefoot. Spock mistakes robots for zombies, twice. Kirk and Krisp's cell isn't locked, apparently on purpose, but the rest of the crew's is. And of course you have the contrived abilities of both Sulu and Scotty, the latter verging on the super-human. One to read for the camp of it all.