Sunday, May 31, 2009

This Week in Geek (25-31/05/09)

Buys

I've really decided to "collect" the new Doctor Who action figures, and the quickest way to do that is getting large collector sets. Even when I have a hunch they're all missing their accessories in that packaging. Still, can't resist that TARDIS-shaped box!It's all Series 1 stuff: 9th Doctor (with odd, unarticulated legs), 10th Doctor just-regenerated, Captain Jack, a Slitheen, the Empty Child, the Moxx of Balhoon, the alien pig from Aliens of London, a Dalek with mutant inside, an Auton, and the Sycorax Leader. But wait, no Rose?!? So I grabbed that New Earth set:
Rose, the 10th Doctor and a Cassandra inaction figure in a New Earth diorama. And then there's...
The Empress of the Racnoss! A beautiful, incredibly articulated she-spider. I'm loving it.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: One of the few Cohen Brothers' films I hadn't seen was Miller's Crossing. Flipped it. A lyrical film noir gangster film filled with the blackest humor the brothers have been responsible for, and the story of a master manipulator who saves himself, but loses his soul. Check that shot of Caspar by the fire and tell me this isn't a precursor to Barton Fink. A lovely surprise. The DVD's making of feature is basically a 20-minute interview with the cinematographer, but it's a lot better than it sounds. A few clips from the actors and a photo gallery complete the picture.


Books: I'm still reading through the New Series Doctor Who novels, and I have to admit I was sort of disappointed by Paul Magrs' Sick Building. I'd heard good things, and I've loved everything Magrs has done in the past. Really loved it. Letting go of his postmodern trappings didn't do him good. Sick Building is missing any sympathetic guest characters, doesn't get the Doctor's voice right, and makes us of talking robot appliances. So it may play well with its younger, target audience. It wasn't bad, just left me cold.




Not the case with Mark Michalowski's Wetworld which I really liked. I remember liking his Past Doctor Adventure Relative Dementia too and telling him so on Outpost Gallifrey. Wetworld has everything Sick Building doesn't. Charming guest characters, pitch-perfect renditions of both the Doctor and Martha, and a story that seems more adult (in style, not content) than the majority of the line. Its use of science is interesting and the monster pretty terrifying.

Computer stuff: Finally got the ol' blog on Google Analytics. More traffic than I expected. Hi gang! Even if you're only here via your She-Hulk porn-searches!

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: Only 5, all from Battlefield. It's not a story I'm stripping for this set, but I did want to acknowledge the story in this battle-themed expansion.

Someone Else's Post of the Week
LivingDice has an interest post up: Do RPG Bloggers Focus Too Much on Dungeons and Dragons? I've answered already. What's your take?

Star Trek 905: Survivors

905. Survivors

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #4, Pocket Books, January 1989

CREATORS: Jean Lorrah

STARDATE: Between The Arsenal of Freedom and Symbiosis. The last chapter occurs during Skin of Evil.

PLOT: When she was young, Tasha Yar was rescued from her dystopian world by a Starfleet officer called Darryl "Dare" Adin. By the time she graduated from Starfleet Academy, they had fallen in love and were engaged to be married. On her training cruise, however, Orion slavers attack and make off with a shipment of dilithium crystals. Dare is implicated and accused of treason, a rap he can't beat, partly on Tasha's testimony. Today, while the Enterprise delivers time-sensitive grains to a planet, Tasha and Data are sent to Treva, a dystopian world not unlike Tasha's homeworld, to investigate its leader's cry for help. They discover that she's been oppressing her people by simulating terrorist attacks and putting pacifying drugs in the water supply. Things get more complicated when a local warlord/freedom fighter abducts our heroes to convince them of his cause. Dare, long escaped from prison and now working as the "Silver Paladin", is helping him raise an army. Tasha and Data decide to help the cause in a plan to clean up the water supply, and feelings between Dare and Tasha are reawakened. She still places him under arrest when the Enterprise arrives. However, Data unearths information that proves the Orions framed Dare, and that Treva's tyrant is actually a surgically altered Orion (chasing Prime Directive concerns away). Dare rejoins his mercenary group, hoping that Tasha will eventually leave Starfleet and seek him out.

CONTINUITY: Tasha's colony was set up during the Post-Atomic Horror (Encounter at Farpoint). The scene with the rape gang from Where No One Has Gone Before is expanded upon, and the cat Tasha's holding in that scene becomes a frequent companion. Her relationship with Data that began in The Naked Now is developped, better tying in with her message in Skin of Evil and her general softening in her last couple episodes. The Orion males featured in this novel are gray-skinned (TAS). There's a great line about security guards not being "faceless disposable beings armed with phasers" (redshirts).

DIVERGENCES: The title is at odds with TNG's "The Survivors". Tasha's homeworld is called New Paris,w hile in Legacy it is Turkana IV. When remembering her family, Tasha does not mention Ishara, whose surname is particularly suspect, since Tasha took it from an old woman who took care of her after her mother abandonned her. Sentience is a requirement for joining Starfleet, contradicting The Measure of a Man. The Klingons are said to be members of the Federation. I won't dispute that Data is more emotional than he believes, but his emotional awareness is a little high in the last few chapters.

SCREENSHOT OF THE WEEK
REVIEW: Thanks to Tasha's death, Jean Lorrah was given the chance to fill in her background, something Star Trek novelists only very rarely get a chance to do with cast members. By the end of Survivors, I liked Tasha about one billion percent more than I did after her 20-some episodes, so I'll be recommending this book today. Tasha's history is revealed organically, the flashbacks working so well, you'll miss them when they disappear around the book's midway point. And though the contemporary plot is pretty standard, the novel is so well constructed, everything seems to satisfyingly pay off. I wasn't always sure about the main characters' speech patterns, but the psychological portraits of both Tasha and Data are very well drawn. Tasha, falling in love with the Federation's utopia and subsequently the man who rescued her. His similarities to Data and why she would be attracted to the android. Data is too emotional at times, examining his jealousy, for example, but what it means to be an android is well represented, as is his closeness to Tasha. His "one-episode" obsession is beauty, and it ties in with various elements of the plot. Lorrah's is a tight novel, and she uses everything we ever learned about Tasha in Season One to good effect. And because there was no call for Tasha to ever return, the novel feels important in a way these numbered novels never do. It feels canonical. The last chapter, though it reprises Skin of Evil's events, tries to fill in some holes as well. Picard gets to deliver one of his great speeches, and the coda about "survivors" is simply beautiful. As a companion to Skin of Evil, it just makes both stories more touching.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spaceknight Saturdays: Beaverkill!

My first issue of Rom Spaceknight, as you know, was Rom #49. My second was #57, which I'll cover next week, because the cover prominently featured Canada's premiere super-team, Alpha Flight. But wait, you say, #56 does too. Yes, but my first issue of Alpha Flight was #12, which came out on the same month as this issue. So it wasn't until the next month that I had become an Alpha fan (and yes, that means Rom #57 was also my second Alpha Flight comic).

But enough with the history. The only important thing to remember here is that I am a proud Canadian, and Rom's coming to my house. Well, not my house, because I live in New Brunswick, and he's in Ontario. Where exactly? A polluted industrial town called Beaver Falls in the middle of Beaverkill Valley. Real or fictional? Well, there IS a Beaver Falls in Ontario.
But it's near Laird on the Canada/US border, and not in "Beaverkill Valley". If you're looking for a Beaverkill Valley, you'll find one in upstate New York. See, the beaver is our national animal. We don't kill beavers. Well, we do, but we don't advertise it. (See the Bonus PR Lessons feature at the end of this article for more tips on how to sell yourself.) There IS a Beaver Lake in Ontario, but it's miles away and a well-advertized fishing spot, not this polluted no-fish zone.
Marrina's swimming in those "black waters" when she finds glowing fish eggs. She, Shaman, Sasquatch and Snowbird are investigating odd reports at the government's behest. And then the town is attacked by Creatures of the Black Lagoon.
Once the Spaceknights arrive, they're able to determine that these are the marine equivalent of Hellhounds.
Fish? Fish. Polar Bear Snowbird can't believe her luck.
Shaman casts a spell that reverts the creatures to their natural forms, but oops! They can't live in that polluted water!
Truly, Man is the greatest monster of all!

Well, actually, Dire Wraiths still take the cake. Sure, Beaver Falls polluted the waters, but it's the Wraiths that introduced a powerful, infectious toxin into the water (Marrina goes crazy a couple times, but that's her usual behavior... I'm not sure why she wasn't affected). Furthermore, the Hellfish were just a distraction, see, and the Wraiths were really planning to burst the dam and send those waters flowing into the world's water supply.
No! The beavers!

BONUS PR LESSONS FROM ROM SPACEKNIGHT

(All lessons from the hospital massacre aftermath.)

Doing things wrong: If you're trying to keep the public from knowing alien blood turned their loved ones into rampaging monsters that had to be put down, secure the sheets!
Doing things right: You might think Rom's mode of speaking is over the top (as is the Silver Surfer's, Thor's, etc.), but it good P.R.
Rick Jones - buys everything TV tells him to.

Next week: The Canadian Invasion.

Star Trek 904: ...Gone!

904. ...Gone!

PUBLICATION: Star Trek v.2 #9, DC Comics, June 1990

CREATORS: Peter David (writer), James W. Fry and Arne Starr (artists)

STARDATE: 8490.7 (follows the last issue)

PLOT: Kirk, Spock and Blaise are rescued from Sweeney, and the ship gets away from the trio of bounty hunter forces. Impressed that anyone could survive such an encounter, the colonists on the decaying planet agree to leave on the Enterprise. A disheartened Sweeney abandons his pursuit. And while "the old man of Starfleet", Admiral Nogura, slaps down Vice-Admiral Tomlinson, Kirk calls in to announce he'll be delivering himself to Earth, to stand before his accusers...

CONTINUITY: Admiral Nogura has also appeared in a number of Star Trek novels since The Lost Years, as well the the Motion Picture novelization. Klaa, Vixis, the Federation president and the Klingon ambassador continue to appear. The USS Exeter first appeared in The Omega Glory.

DIVERGENCES: None.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Still got it!
REVIEW: Well, while there's a scene where Sweeney appears to be a robot as another Sweeney walks in, it doesn't tell us much about Sweeney himself. Are they all mechanical? So no revelations, and the character fades into obscurity. Meh. There's a lot of action in this one, but hardly anything I'd call inspired. The ship battles look like messy collages, and the more personal stuff is just ok. The character moments are better, still David's strength, with Kirk misreading Blaise (is she falling for him after all?) as Uhura rolls her eyes, and an interesting conversation between Nogura and Tomlinson. The Trial of James T. Kirk is next, and perfectly in keeping with his character. Rather than see people endangered by the price on his head, he's willing to hand himself over to the Klingons and Nasgul. Of course, I expect these guys to be their own undoing.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What's in a Power? - Talking with the Animals

When it comes to people getting powers from lethal doses of radiation, or aliens being able to fly because they were born under a different sun, it's probably best not to think too hard about how those powers work. But risk, gentlemen, risk is our business. I just can't help myself. And anyway, figuring out how a power works helps superhero writers (and role-players, which are a kind of writer) come up with new an interesting ways to use their characters' abilities. Truly, the bread and butter of the superhero form (look at the Flash, who does a lot more than run around, for example).

Here's one that's got me thinking entirely too much: Talking to the animals. Aquaman, the Hawks, Ant-Man, Dr. Doolittle... How do their powers work exactly? On the surface, you'd think it's simple enough. The hero can either interpret the animal's language (vocal and gestual) or read its thoughts (cue Aquaman's concentric circles, mwoomwoomwoomwoom). If the hero can "tell" an animal to do something, then it's mind control. And the most realistic portrayal of the power usually plays like that.

That explanation does not, however, cover everything we've seen animal talkers do. It doesn't explain how Topo can play the banjo.It doesn't explain how an animal can understand human concepts, or talk about them by name, how it can be sent to collect information or how we can be privy to a humorous conversation between two ants. In short, it can't explain how an animal can be smart enough to talk with and like a person.

Theory: The hero makes them smarter
In proximity to the hero, our little fish or insect suddenly finds its intellect enhanced, enough so that it can carry on a conversation, even carry out complex tasks outside of its instinctual set of behaviors. Since these animals often exhibit "humanized" personality traits and facility with idiom, the hero may in fact be imparting a part of his own intellect to the creature, projecting that personality onto the animal's psyche.
Has anyone checked if Aquaman himself can play the banjo?

Now, I'll believe a dolphin has its own language, especially in a superhero universe, but many of these target animals have very limited brain capacity. Birds? Fish? Ants? Not exactly Nature's highest order. So how can our hero transmit this heightened IQ to the animal? The DC Universe has an interesting answer in the morphogenic field, AKA the "Red" (akin to Swamp Thing's "Green"), a field that surrounds the Earth and links all of its animal life. It's how Animal Man can mimic animal abilities, and it could be how Aquaman talks to fish. If the field exists, it could link our hero's mind to that of marine animals (an eco-field that could resonate distinctly) allowing for the transmission of intelligence. If a fish's expanded mind is greater than its brain tissue would allow, it exists within the field, around the talking animal. Why around the animal rather than the hero? Because that would make Aquaman's potential range as large as the world if we go by this scene in which fish relay a message to the Sea King:
(It goes on for the rest of page, making it clear Aquaman is leagues away, though it's possible it's all the same ocean.) Which still begs the question: How did those fish communicate in Aquaman's absence? (Similarly, Ant-Man's ants get up to trouble while he's out of the house.) With or without the existence of a morphogenic field, it's possible creatures retain their high IQ for a time. It might degrade with time, or might be more or less permanent due to prolonged exposure (like Topo). And since each planet has its own field, it explains why Aquaman isn't usually able to speak to alien marine animals. The Hawks, for their part, seem to have no trouble talking to Earth birds despite being from Thanagar. Are all Thanagarians plugged into the morphogenic field and able to speak and direct "avians"?
Certainly, different heroes (or versions of heroes) have variant levels of ability. Sometimes the animals speak, sometimes they merely respond to commands. Some animals speak as well as any human, others appear to have the obsessions and dim wit of their kin.

Power Stunts
If we accept this model for animal communication, a writer (or role-player) looking to use the power in a new and interesting way has a pretty good tool box. Might he be able to "push" another character's "lizard brain" to enhance human intellect? Could he reverse the morphogenic flux so that he gained an animal's instincts and mental abilities (like a pigeon's sense of direction)? How about a hero with multiple personalities all incarnated into animal companions? If a hero can enhance one ability through the field, can he perhaps enhance another? Aquaman making eels go stiff and turn into a pretty solid net mesh seems a pertinent example.

Give a power a limit (like "it basically reads animal body language") and you limit the character. Give the power an explanation, and you open doors for stretching into new and unusual ways. Agree/disagree?

Star Trek 903: Going, Going...

903. Going, Going...

PUBLICATION: Star Trek v.2 #8, DC Comics, May 1990

CREATORS: Peter David (writer), James W. Fry and Arne Starr (artists)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: Once Sweeney has captured Captain Kirk, the Starfleet-Nasgul-Klingon deal is off. He'll sell to the highest bidder. Of course, the good captain escapes and tries to make his way to Sweeney's bridge. Meanwhile, Sulu arrives with a small fleet to rescue Kirk, Spock and Blaise, but so do the Nasgul and Klingons...

CONTINUITY: Fed Prez. Klingon ambassador. Klaa. The usual.

DIVERGENCES: Sweeney's eye rays have gone from red to green since the last issue.

PANEL OF THE DAY - The Martian Manhunter works for Sweeney.
REVIEW: Ok, I gave the "Not... Sweeney!" running gag a pass last issue, but it's now getting way too silly. If not irritating. While Peter David is strong at dialogue and fun "hell yeah!" moments (Kirk's escape is pretty cool here), his weakness is indulging in too much comedy. The running gag, Sweeney destroying a chess board every time he loses to Spock (5 in all), an Andorian being hummed to sleep, the Russian admiral throwing in with Chekov... Any one of these is fun, two I can stand. All of them is just too much. Sweeney remains a potent threat, and has some flair, though I do wonder at his abilities. He can shrug off a nerve pinch and throw Spock 15 feet into the air, but he can be punched out. Hopefully, we'll learn something about who he is next issue.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Many Faces of Wonder Woman, Part IV

Adam Hughes' Wonder Woman......always rocks the cheesecake.

Karl Waller's Wonder Woman...
...can't stand her exploding wrists anymore.

Matt Wagner's Wonder Woman...
...has a surprise for Batman.

J.G. Jones' Wonder Woman...
...can't wait all day for Perseus.

Doug Beekman's Wonder Woman...
...unleashes the fists of fury.

Mike Collins' Wonder Woman...
...has had a Photoshop mishap.

Colleen Doran's Wonder Woman...
...has a low THAC0 despite the cloth armor.

Jae Lee's Wonder Woman...
...is the only one with that belt.

Terry Dodson's Wonder Woman...
...put the sword to Schindler's List.

Greg Land's Wonder Woman...
...frankly fails to capture anything sexy about Wonder Woman.

Alex Ross' Wonder Woman...
...is based on a certain introduction writer.

Most images in Part IV from Wonder Woman's post-Crisis series. Note that I've not repeated any artists showcased in Parts I, II and III.

Star Trek 902: Not... Sweeney!

902. Not... Sweeney!

PUBLICATION: Star Trek v.2 #7, DC Comics, April 1990

CREATORS: Peter David (writer), James W. Fry and Arne Starr (artists)

STARDATE: 8488.3 (follows the last issue)

PLOT: After Admiral Tomlinson makes some kind of deal with the Nasgul and the Klingons, he calls on the infamous bounty hunter Sweeney. Meanwhile, Blaise smokes out Kirk's sexism and rather than throw her out an airlock, he opts to bring teach her about a captain's responsibilities first hand, by inviting her on the next away mission. That mission involves the evacuation of colonists from a crumbling planet, except the colonists would rather stay than board the Enterprise, what with her captain having a price on his head and all. They may be right. Sweeney's fleet chases the ship away and Sweeney himself goes down to the planet to capture Kirk, dead or alive...

CONTINUITY: Federation President. Klingon ambassador. Sweeney has Tellarites working for him.

DIVERGENCES: None.

PANEL OF THE DAY - The sound of a thousand slash fic writers punching the air
REVIEW: There are a couple of nice laughs in this issue, especially in regards to Blaise's relationship with Kirk. When she starts using her feminine wiles on him, it's like all those times on the show where he's seduced the unlikeliest suspects, but that's turned amusingly on its head. And the fact that Kirk thinks she may be right to accuse him of only seeing women a certain way (certainly not as equals) is a great bit. As for the new villain, Sweeney, he first appears as a huge, stylized, shadowy figure with glowing red eyes that are able to disintegrate a person. Very comic book-y. His reveal at the end of the issue made him a lot more interesting though. He's basically Alfred Pennyworth with heat vision goggles. NOW I'm interested.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Geek Cat of the Week #3: Sylvester

Name: Sylvester J. Pussycat Sr.
Stomping Grounds: Looney Tunes (animation)
Side: Good (Tweetie is pure evil)
Breed: Tuxedo cat
Cat Powers: Good father. Academy Award triple-winner. Never gives up.
Skills: Eat 9, Sleep 2, Mischief 9, Wit 5, Diction -3
Cat Weaknesses: Powerful natural enemies (canaries, mexican mice, kangaroos). A pronounced lisp. Can never win.

Star Trek 901: Cure All

901. Cure All

PUBLICATION: Star Trek v.2 #6, DC Comics, March 1990

CREATORS: Peter David (writer), James W. Fry and Arne Starr (artists)

STARDATE: 8487.1 (follows the last issue)

PLOT: New Brinden's prefect discovers the price on Kirk's head and offers an ultimatum - either Kirk surrenders himself to him or he kills all the infected "lowlies". Kirk seriously considers it, though McCoy puts his search for a cure in overdrive. The weird alien Ensign Fouton, horrified that his hero would go down like that, secretly steals a vial of the disease and injects the sleeping prefect with it. Suddenly, he's ready to play ball, allowing McCoy to finish the job. Back on Earth, Admiral Tomlinson offers the Klingons and the Nasgul a deal that will give them Kirk's head on a platter...

CONTINUITY: The Federation President. The Klingon ambassador. McCoy is partly still motivated by the vision of his father Sybok showed him.

DIVERGENCES: None.

PANEL OF THE DAY - The word that appears once per code-approved issue
REVIEW: The theme of dangerous allies certainly permeates this issue. We have a Starfleet Admiral willing to sell Kirk out. We have M'yra bullying Li into leaving Sulu alone. And we have Fouton's off-the-books mission and mysterious powers of hypnosis (don't stare into his gem-like eyes). Not to mention Blaise, whose intentions seem good, but remains frustrated at Kirk's stonewalling. All interesting threads. The plot itself isn't as interesting, however, feeling a little truncated there at the end. And the way the previous issue was staged, it seemed like the prefect was lying about the lowlies dying. Ah well. I guess this is good to, but all due to creepy Fouton. I also want to mention that this issue continues the series strong use of silent panels and pages for both dramatic and comic effect.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Name Your Disease

A writer I admire in the RPG field is Steven Marsh for his true gift in turning any topic into a role-playing related editorial for the old weekly version of Pyramid Online. No event, observation or piece of trivia was too small that it couldn't be turned into a though-provoking article. So I asked some RPG buddies to throw out a few suggestions - any topic, event or phenomenon - to see what I could make of it. So unless I had some flash of inspiration for my weekly delve into the role-playing world, I could pick one of their suggestions out of the proverbial hat. For this week, Pout throws out "Swine flu". Well, ok then.

Disease as consequence: Diseases can be an annoyance or tragedy in the making, but to a GameMaster, they're a valuable tool. See, in most campaigns, I avoid killing PCs. It just isn't good tv. BUT, that can quickly lead to a loss of suspense (again, look at most tv series - if your name is in the opening sequence, you're safe). Consequences other than death can of course serve the same purpose, so the Disease, whatever it may be, becomes a viable option. While a character may not ultimately die from what you've exposed him to, it could still have lasting consequences. Scar tissue? A need for cybernetics? A new disadvantage? A drop in attribute scores? These can be scary for a player.

Disease as plot: Diseases have one useful feature when it comes to driving plots. They have a built-in countdown. A PC might have a certain time to get the cure before he dies (or is permanently maimed or brain damaged, etc.), which can drive the plot at a breakneck pace. Conversely, a 24-hour virus might put the character at a disadvantage at the worse possible time, but can be waited out, allowing her to bust out the fists of fury in the endgame.

Disease as risk: In one-shots or games where death is expected to occur and survival is its own reward, players may be tempted to excessively armor their characters. Ok, but does that armor protect them from illness? Even a face plate can crack.

Disease as nerf: Non-lethal diseases can be used to reduce the effectiveness of PCs as an added obstacle. A simple cold might impair a character's attribute and skill challenges (seduction with a runny nose, or strain on one's Constitution), but in worlds where special powers are possible, illnesses that affect those powers are also imaginable. How does a particular disease affect spell-casting? What about super-powers? And could some viruses only affect those that make use of such powers?

Suggestions
Any game with more than one species: As a link to Swine Flu, let me introduce Orc Flu (you all love the pig-like Orcs, right? Sure you do). One of the greatest challenges facing modern medicine today is viruses migrating to species they are not endemic to and mutating into dangerous strains there. In worlds with multiple species all interacting (be they fantasy races or aliens), virus migration would be a very real problem. How does Orc Flu affect an Elf? Can you get cooties from Mr. Spock?

Magic games: Magical diseases could produce any number of effects. Imagine a contagious curse. Or a disease transmitted through spell-casting (an MTD). Maybe some creatures in your game world are simply people suffering from a plague. What if zombies aren't really dead, for example? Lycanthropy and vampirism are certainly communicable.

High tech games: Robots and cyborgs have to deal with computer viruses. Or how about nanites that eat at their metal implants? And if Star Trek is any indication, diseases could cover psionic parasites, temporally out-of-phase viruses, and conditions that mutate your genome or make you aphasic. There's no real limit. It doesn't all have to be radiation sickness.

Now go out into the world and sicken your players! And if you'd like to play the game like Pout did, feel free to suggest topics in the Comments section. I'll add them to the hat.

Star Trek 900: Fast Friends

900. Fast Friends

PUBLICATION: Star Trek v.2 #5, DC Comics, February 1990

CREATORS: Peter David (writer), James W. Fry and Arne Starr (artists)

STARDATE: 8485.3 (follows the last issue)

PLOT: As Kirk alternates between trying to impress his new protocol officer and ducking from her, she tries to interview the rest of the crew. Meanwhile, in some corners of Starfleet Command, they're talking about handing Kirk over to the Klingons and the Nasgul to avoid war. Later, the Enterprise reaches planet New Brinden where a deadly leprosy-like disease has spread through the lower caste. The elite caste are afraid enough to exterminate the infected population unless McCoy can administer a cure. While things look promising, the planet's prefect calls in to say that the people the cure was administered to have started dying, so a massacre may be in order...

CONTINUITY: The Federation President.

DIVERGENCES: None.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Spock likes it in public
REVIEW: I think we need a big, fat, epic storyline, and soon. This is fine, with each subplot being advanced and lots of cute and funny moments, but medical relief missions lack that certain oomph, you know? I'm also impatient to see what protocol officer R.J. Blaise will be all about, though I did love Kirk's personal log thanking God that she turned out to be a woman.

Monday, May 25, 2009

He's Got It... Yeah Baby, He's Got It

Probably in my personal top three...

VIMANARAMA #1-3, DC Comics/Vertigo, 2005

It's the comic most will remember as "the one that sounds like Bananarama", but personally? I freakin' love it. Morrison gives us a comic based on Indian/Pakistani mythology when we've been brought up on Norse and Greek. It's by necessity quite a trip. It's not just Pakistani superheroes either, it incorporates a variety of Eastern styles, such as musical number that comes out of nowhere on page 2, ripped out of your basic Indian movie:
The story centers on Ali, a slacker who gets no respect from his family and has some anxiety about a prearranged marriage to a girl he's never met. "If she's ugly, I'm hanging myself."
He's not kidding! Romantic melodrama, Grant Morrison-style! Actually, Sofia turns out to be quite pretty and clever, but that's not gonna help him when they both awaken some steam-driven demons and some weird-ass Pakistani superheroes from the dawn of time. The end of the world is upon us, but what really gets Ali is that the main super-guy recognizes Sofia as a reincarnation of his long-lost love, and well, Ali's just not in the same league. That noose is gonna come in handy after all!

Meanwhile, the "Sons of Flame" (the Kirbyesque steamers) are laying waste to London, and keeping the UK government naked in a room so that they can't act. (It's parliamentary politics, they just need to start a debate about a non-issue like same-sex marriage for that, but I guess they don't know it.) More entertainingly, they rip off the leader of the Opposition's head and make it kiss Tony Blair. That's what I call some hardcore nonpartisan politics, right there!
Did I mention Philip Bond's artwork yet? It's just beautiful and full of little details. After Ali indeed hangs himself, he gets warped into a really wacky afterlife where, as reality breaks down, Bond gets to draw him as signifiers (sorry to bring out my Linguistics course, but this is the first use I've found for it in 15 years):
Ali does get help from his relatives who all die or fall into a coma so are on hand in the Great Beyond, and from Sofia who, it turns out, isn't ready to transcend and become a goddess. I won't tell you how it ends, but it's not how you think. How could it be? This is a Grant Morrison comic and that guy's operating on a whole other plane of existence.
Further Morrison reading:
Doom Force
Weird War Tales #3
Skrull Kill Krew