Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cat of the Geek #25: Gazou

Names: Gazou Maltais (full name), Mr. Peeps (fancy name), Shinji (Japanese name), Thunderfoot (Indian name), Coter (SPCA designation), Monsieur de la Pattite (French fancy name). By request, I have not listed his secret name.
Stomping Grounds: My home. I have had this cat for just over 9 years.
Side: Good
Breed: American Shorthair
Cat Powers: Never puts claw to human skin. Bites like the bejeezus though. Insensate tail allows for quick floor sweep. Low-allergenic charmer.
Skills: Eat 10, Sleep 9, Mischief 4, Wit 1, Stealth 2, Manipulate Siskoid 10
Cat Weaknesses: Foil paper noises. Repairmen. Orange peel. Hot coffee.
Blog Links:
Gazou vs. Green Lantern
Gazou vs. Darkseid
Gazou vs. Superman
Gazou vs. Sea Devils, Hawkman and Guinan
Gazou vs. Ood
Gazou's Halloween costumes

Star Trek 1027: Homecoming

1027. Homecoming

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #24, DC Comics, October 1991

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Peter Krause and Pablo Marcos (artists)

STARDATE: 44298.2 (follows the last issue)

PLOT: The Einstein crew and its allies push back the hostiles and manage to get the shuttle into range of the warp ship at the edge of the makeshift space station's range. They then show the hostiles mercy and beam them into the ship's cargo bay. Wesley figures out how to fly the ship, but while it is impossibly fast, he can't really slow it down, just stop and hope he's near Federation space. It pops out near the Klingon homeworld where the Klingons surround it. The Enterprise, fresh off resettling two marine species, is in the area and called to investigate. Picard beams aboard the unknown warp ship after Troi detects humans and other species aboard and makes them drop their shields, a prearranged signal to the Klingons that the ship is no enemy. Its engines being on overload, the ship explodes, but everyone made it out alive and taken home.

CONTINUITY: Ensign Tess Allenby is at the helm (Final Mission).

DIVERGENCES: The title is very close to DS9's The Homecoming. Ensign Allenby should be blond, not brunette.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Who knew Groucho Marx had played a Romulan?
REVIEW: The series celebrates its 2-year anniversary with a double-sized issue and the end its longest story arc to date. As usual, there's a good balance of action and drama, and the characters are well written. It's really too bad our investment in the Einstein crew's original characters doesn't pay off. One of the girls shares an attraction with Wesley, but he's off to the Academy after this, so who cares, and the other characters don't really do anything. I'm registering mild disappointment.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Campaign Idea: The Family Saga

I've been known to make the most of my sizable RPG collection, and this is definitely in that vein. The players take on the roles of characters from the same family, or from historically intertwined families, at a certain point in history. Every few sessions, the GameMaster makes time move forward to another time period, where the players play only slightly different characters, the descendants of their former characters!

GURPS might make an excellent system for this kind of campaign because of all its historical world books. So you might start in the Ice Age (one of my favorites), move on to Atlantis and its destruction, then to Greece, Imperial Rome, Middle Ages, Scarlet Pimpernel, Old West, World War II, something modern like Cops or Special Ops, and beyond to Cyberpunk, Terradyne and Traveler!
An enterprising GameMaster would surely be able to do the same with a completely fantastical setting, perhaps as simply as making various D&D settings be different epochs. What if the World of Greyhawk is merely the Forgotten Realms in the far past? Much better would be advancing the politics/society and magic/technology ahead by a few generations so that the world is still recognizable, but totally different in each era. Think of how Star Trek morphed into The Next Generation.

Back and Forth
The beauty of this concept is that there is no reason you couldn't go back to a past era for a session with the ol' gang even if you're past it in the "Saga". Maybe you just miss your ancient Egyptians, maybe you make it part of the action as a "reveal" of a character's heritage (for example, a character might tell a story passed down from generation to generation).

What You Leave Behind
There are three ways to link the various eras you use. One is to make the transition an important event in the era you're leaving. The Atlantis era, for example, might end with the characters narrowly escaping the island's sinking and landing in Greece, setting up the next chapter. Their descendants' capture by Roman hands, might set up the Spartacus chapter to come, and so on.

Then there's the family heirloom. A sword/amulet/secret/curse passed down through the generations would identify a character and its progeny and keep a sense of telling the same story. Some objects might not last the thousands of years necessary, unless you make them magical (Excalibur has been pulled out of a stone in many SF stories).
And the third is the characters themselves. While each era would feature different characters, they'd be close enough to the originals that 1) you wouldn't be trapped in chargen hell every few weeks and 2) you could keep the sense of family alive. The sins of the father are visited on the child. Characters are doomed to repeat the same mistakes, get into the same kind of trouble, pile on the historical ironies. Subplots aren't abandoned when you make the switch, they are just ported to the next era in some familiar form. Character A and his descendants are all unlucky in love, character B and hers both lost a child, etc.

So What's the Story?
Each era has its own type of adventure. You can just go along with it. The premise is that the families of these characters have a long tradition of being adventurers (likely unbeknownst to them, even). Or if an "heirloom" is important enough, then it is the saga of that MacGuffin and how it survived through the ages, always surrounded by men and women of determination or action. Sky's the limit and history is a looooong time...

Star Trek 1026: The Barrier

1026. The Barrier

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #23, DC Comics, September 1991

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Peter Krause and Pablo Marcos (artists)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: Troi is trapped in an enclosure with peaceful telepathic sea serpents hunted to near extinction by the Lanatosians. It's clear they've hidden the serpents so that the Enterprise would bring their sacred monuments instead of this second, sentient species. They are all freed by Data and Picard saves them over the statuary, angering the Lanatosians. Meanwhile, as the Einstein crew plan to take the shuttle out to the alien spaceship that could bring them home, the aggressive species aboard the ship agglomeration savagely attack...

CONTINUITY: Among the enemy races beyond the vortex is a Gorn.

DIVERGENCES: None (though evidence suggests Data should not be able to swim, the pressures in an ocean might well allow him some buoyancy).

PANEL OF THE DAY - Data's rarely used swimming rotor.
REVIEW: The undersea stuff comes to a satisfying resolution (though the next issue takes things from there), if not a particularly original one. On the other side of the universe, the story seems to be in a holding pattern as much of last issue's information is once again given. There's the start of a big battle, which is at least dynamic, but in the midst of it all, a terrible mischaracterization of Wesley. The kiss he shares with an ensign has not been earned, and his fighting prowess (heck, his fighting WILLINGNESS) seems completely out of place. A penultimate chapter that misfires.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Untold Adventures of Rose and the 9th Doctor

I'll always remember the time Rose and the Doctor came to my home town to stave off a resurgence of War Machines...I'll always remember cuz they had to come to my apartment. What with me being a War Machine minion and all...
They cured me of my brainwashing [SERVE THE MASTERS BY BLOGGING TWICE A DAY!] and I'm fine now. Oh, and because it's Doctor Who: My home town in Victorian times...

Star Trek 1025: Trapped

1025. Trapped

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #22, DC Comics, August 1991

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Peter Krause and Pablo Marcos (artists)

STARDATE: 44292.2 (follows the last issue)

PLOT: The lost crew of the shuttle Einstein has found an agglomeration of ships on the other side of the vortex. A Klingon component tries to reel them in, but it's a Federation beam from elsewhere in the structure that succeeds at doing so. The Betazoid that greets them explains that long ago, the ships that were lost to the vortex decided to create the structure to make shielding easier. It's long gone generational, with Romulans, Ferengi and pre-alliance Klingons feuding with Federation-aligned species. Their only hope, using the shuttle to get to an empty but warp-capable alien craft out of range of the tractor beams. Meanwhile, as Picard contemplates replacing his presumed dead crew members, the Enterprise-D embarks on a new mission - helping a race of mermen move their ancestral statues from their doomed planet before a comet collides with it. Troi is convinced they are hiding something, however, so she beams down to the planet to explore and finds a sentient sea serpent trapped behind a wall. She's seen too much and the natives seal her in...

CONTINUITY: Commander Shelby (The Best of Both Worlds) is mentioned as a possible replacement for Riker.


PANEL OF THE DAY - It's about your room's decor, Captain...
REVIEW: Though the Einstein stuff has been seen before (in the Animated Series) and will be seen again (in Voyager) in other guises, it's still a good set-up for adventure and conflict. A bit heavy on the exposition as opposed to getting to know the characters a bit better, but fine. The Enterprise stuff is stronger, however, making great use of the the comic book medium to bring us sights hardly realizable on a tv show. The undersea realm looks like something right out of Aquaman, the aliens have a striking look and it's just plain fun to see the TNG cast swimming about.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This Week in Geek (21-27/09/09)


I bought two season sets of shows I've been following on DVD (I hardly follow television shows on tv anymore... it's like I'm "waiting for the trade"): 30 Rock season 3, which makes for great going-to-bed short installment viewing, and Primeval vol.2, which is actually the show's third (and sadly, looks to be final) season. Bass came to Kung Fu Friday this week bearing the gift of an obvious awful Kung Fu movie named Ninja Squad. So awful, in fact, that the back cover actively laughs at it. Thanks, Bass!


DVDs: I started taking some time off from work because I've got hours of overtime to spend (85 hours to be exact, 53 of thise in the last three weeks), so I decided to at least try to make a dent in my unwatched DVDs. Don't be surprised by the volume...

First up was the HBO movie Conspiracy. I'd gotten it for two reasons: 1) I remembered it winning several Emmies at the time and 2) it seemed to make a natural book-end to my copy of Nuremberg. It's about the meeting where the Final Solution was arrived at (or really, force fed to Nazi officials by the S.S., not that they didn't mostly go along with it), and pretty straightforward. Based on the verbatim minutes of the meeting, it still helps flesh out the drama with the arrival, bathroom breaks and departure. I'm loath to call this kind of film an "entertainment", though of course, it is. Light on plot, it is rather a shocking character study - shocking at once by the matter-of-factness of certain characters and by the vocal (but censored) opposition of others. The DVD includes some very short featurettes that nonetheless hold valuable interviews with the actors.

The next day, I flipped Lub Besson's Léon: The Professional, which I went in thinking it would be a kind of Day of the Jackal, but was surprised to find it was a Lolita story with hitmen. 11-year-old Natalie Portman is a real discovery, but it's Jean Reno's performance as an awkward teenager in a man's body that makes the relationship at all workable. Besson's usual fetishes are all present: Decaying buildings, fish eye lenses, spring-autumn romance, oddly-juxtaposed comedy... but he himself isn't so present in the extras. There's a text trivia track that does a pretty good job, but no audio track, and he's not in any of the featurettes. Also absent is Gary Oldman who apparently doesn't want to talk about his bit of overacting in Léon. The interviews 10 years on are all interesting (though there is some redundancy with the trivia track), but hardly able to fill the second disc of this Deluxe Edition (less than an hour's worth).

The guys downstairs from my apartment have been borrowing by Doctor Who boxed sets and just finished Season 4, so we invited them up to watch the two latest specials. I'm no enamored with the idea of getting them out on separate DVDs, not if they won't have more extras on them. (This is especially bad when comparing them to BBC World's releases for Classic Who. The Next Doctor, for example, doesn't even include a Doctor Who Confidential and has no commentary track. I'd have liked to see David Morrissey's thoughts on playing ±the Doctor. At least it does include Doctor Who at the Proms, a concert hosted by Freema Agyeman in which the Doctor stars in a sort-of adventure. The DVD also includes Doctor Who at the Proms, a live symphony concert of Murray Gold's music, with plenty of guest-stars, functional monsters walking about scaring the kids, and even a silly little mini-adventure with a wormhole that overlooks the concert hall and the Doctor speaking to the fans. As someone who listens to Gold's soundtracks rather a lot, it's really great. Nice electric Doomsday arrangement, for example.

We jumped right from The Next Doctor to Planet of the Dead, a lighter romp, but better on this second viewing. In fact, most of New Who is better on the second and subsequent viewings. On first viewing, I was left with a rather negative impression of Lee Evans as Dr. Malcolm, but he provides a good bit of fun in retrospect, not quite as over the top (at least, not until the end). The DVD does have the full Doctor Who Confidential episode, worth it because of the many production problems associated with filming in the desert near Dubai. It truly looks like a doomed production for a while there. Still, I wish the DVD had a little more to it, in particular a commentary track.


Next day, watched Lars and the Real Girl, a Canadian indie film that has a dirty-sounding premise, but is anything but. Deranged man buys an inflatable doll and starts dating her. How this quiet picture manages to avoid smuttiness and instead deliver a touching and hopeful tragi-comedy is almost a miracle. Sadly, this is the bare bones DVD without even so much as a trailer for the film. A film should stand on its own, and it does, but it's still be nice to hear from anyone connected with the film, if only because it's such a strange idea. How they came up with it, or how they felt about it, etc.

Kung Fu Friday! There isn't a whole lot of Bruce Lee material that fits these evenings of filmic pleasure, so I've been rationing them out. Bruce Lee's first film, The Big Boss, was this week's. Like Enter the Dragon, it isn't a good film, though Bruce Lee is good IN it, which is probably why we should be sad Bruce died so young. He never got to make some really good and well-produced action films. (All my hopes now reside in Fist of Fury.) The Chinese dub has intrusive music and terribly timed sound effects which they fix in the English dub, but at the cost of Bruce's trademark "intimidation cooing". Overall, I think while the sound is technically better, it makes the film flatter. The DVD has a few trailers, pics and a short interview with a co-star. Slim, but forgivable given it's part of a boxed set.

I finally watched Torchwood: Children of Earth (the whole apartment was going to watch it, so I waited for the proper window). Well, that could be a series finale (except it apparently isn't, and from the quality, I glad that's so). It's hard to believe now the first season was such an awkward, gory, adolescent thing. Series 3 (and I'm in favor of mini-series like this rather than full 13-episode series) is a taunt 5-hour thriller that dares to pose some potent moral dilemmas and end in tragedy. Torchwood is definitely the pessimistic end of the Whoniverse. The DVD is pretty bare (like the recent Doctor Who specials'), with only the half-hour Torchwood Declassified going for it.

Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
Act I Scene 2 - The Wedding Banquet according to Hamlet 2000
Act I Scene 2 - The Wedding Banquet according to Fodor
Act I Scene 2 - The Wedding Banquet according to Slings & Arrows

Someone Else's Post of the Week
Mwb only infrequently posts these days, but when he does, he makes it count. His play-by-play reviews of SF b-movies in particular are worth reading. Mwb brings you: ZONTAR!

Star Trek 1024: Antimatter

1024. Antimatter

PUBLICATION: Deep Space Nine #8, Pocket Books, November 1994

CREATORS: John Vornholt

STARDATE: Unknown (between Armageddon Game and Whispers)

PLOT: Bajor is building its first starship since the Occupation, the USS Hannibal for Starfleet. But the project is plagued by terrorists who bomb the shipyard, then hijack the tanker full of antimatter destined for the Hannibal. Sisko, Odo and Dax are in pursuit, leading them to the planet Eco in the Gamma Quadrant where they use undercover identities to infiltrate both the Bajoran terrorist cell (who plans to destroy the Wormhole with the antimatter to end the Federation presence on Bajor) and the Ferengi doing business with them. The natives of Eco are an insect species with a hive mind, and that hive mind sees an opportunity for profit in the whole affair. It blackmails Sisko, threatening to blow his cover if it doesn't get a piece of the action. Everyone wants antimatter! Odo steals into the Ecocid hive and kidnaps the queen, holding her for ransom in exchange for not interfering. After defeating the Bajorans, our heroes attempt to evade the Ferengi Marauder and get the antimatter back to DS9. The Marauder is destroyed by Cardassian fighters who've gone after the loot, and in turn, Dax uses an antimatter pod to destroy the fighters. When the tanker and runabout make it back to the Alpha Quadrant, renegade Klingons in the Bajorans' employ destroy the tanker, but the explosion isn't big enough to destroy the Wormhole. The runabout docks crammed with antimatter pods. The Hannibal successfully launches.

CONTINUITY: The antimatter tanker is called Phoenix, presumably after Zefram Cochrane's historical ship (First Contact). The terrorists are remnants of the Circle (The Circle). Admiral Nechayev has been supervising DS9's operations since Emissary. Her choice of replacement for Sisko would have been Shelby (The Best of Both Worlds).

DIVERGENCES: The show never mentions Bajor's shipyard either before or after this.

REVIEW: John Vortnolt's sixth original Star Trek novel, and his only take on DS9, is a pretty good one. While TOS and TNG novels tend to feel like disposable one-offs, DS9 books are much better at building on the world that's already there. There's still a new species to explore, the Ecocids, a role that could easily have been played by your run-of-the-mill humanoid, but Vornholt plays with a totally alien idea to good and original effect. He also has a lot of fun with his action scenes and such moments as Sisko being assailed by a Ferengi harem (which narrowly avoids tawdriness). This is definitely a good book for Sisko and Dax, but everyone gets a little something to do, especially Kira. The characters sound reasonably like themselves, and the story fits the larger tale of Bajor's entry into the galactic community. So what if the premise is basically the same as Past Prologue's?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Spaceknight Saturdays: Rom... Blows Against the Empire

That's the title! Honestly! Well, everything after the dots. I swear. And besides, it's not really true, as you'll see.

The fourth Annual picks up right where issue #71 left off, with our merry band of Spaceknights still trying to find Galador. An Annual would be a great place for them to make it, wouldn't it? Well first, there's one last member of the Spaceknight Squadron they haven't met.

And they won't. Pulsar's gone a little goofy (Galadorians have a real problem with post-traumatic stress) and when the Shi'ar pick him up, he's all like:
And they're all like, YOU die! And then, well, Shi'ar forces defeat him, and Dr. Tyreseus, a member of an enslaved cat-like race, is left to do the autopsy on his metal shell. Tyreseus has a slave's reflexes, doing his best CSI work for his Shi'ar overlords, but then he starts thinking. A lot.
Use the Spaceknight armor to get back at the Shi'ar? They'll regret the day they ever advanced their medicine to the point where a single man could graft himself into an alien armor!
The new Pulsar promptly destroys the ship he's on and heads off into space. Cue Rom and the Spaceknight Squadron coming upon the ship's wreckage. No sooner are they on the scene that two Shi'ar ships and the entire Imperial Guard (you know, the guys loosely based on the Legion of Super-Heroes) arrive and beam them aboard for trial.
Their evidence acquired by voodoo: The last words thought by a dead Shi'ar soldier!
Does anyone get away with murder in the Shi'ar Empire?! A battle ensues with the Spaceknights doing quite well against the Imperial Guard and Rom holding his own against Gladiator (the Superboy analog... or is that the OMAC analog? Either way, good pedigree). When Scanner's ultra-sensitive, Deanna Troi-like powers confirm Pulsar's hand in this, Rom surrenders. Honor and all that. If a Spaceknight did this, then he is responsible.

Thrown under a forcefield, the Spaceknights face execution and seem helpless when Pulsar attacks the ship. Scanner detects his arrival and also that it's not THEIR Pulsar (much to the relief of his lover, Volla the Trapper). Feeling absolved, Rom performs a trick that would have been real useful in some of the early issues of the series.
I guess he's growing. Striking a temporary truce, the Imperial Guard and Spaceknights route this Pulsar to a nearby planet and Gladiator unloads on him.
Harsh. With his dying breath, the poor guy tells his story: How he went back to his enslaved world and found people rather happy with their living conditions and glad their war-like past was behind them. Rejected and dejected, he just went out to destroy as many Shi'ar as possible, because well, they evolved from birds, right? To Gladiator, he's a traitor, pure and simple. But you know Rom and semantics...
The poet's impassioned speech makes Gladiator realize there's more to life than the Empire, like flowers and puppies and pie, and in gratitude, he uses the Shi'ar stargate on the planet to warp the Spaceknights to Galador.
Oh the bastard, he knew where it was all along...

Next: Secret Wars II !

Star Trek 1023: Mourning Star

1023. Mourning Star

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #21, DC Comics, July 1991

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Peter Krause and Pablo Marcos (artists)

STARDATE: 44295.3 (follows the last issue)

PLOT: The Enterprise-D abandons its fruitless search for its lost shuttle and Picard is forced to declare the away team dead. Though he holds a funeral in their honor, he doesn't really believe they're dead. Somewhere else in space, Wesley pilots the Einstein to an agglomeration of ships all melded together...

CONTINUITY: Kyle Riker, Will's father (The Icarus Factor), gets news that his son is dead. Also seen receiving the news are Lwaxana Troi, Dr. Pulaski and Selar's parents (who haven't appeared elsewhere).


PANEL OF THE DAY - Having a field day with disassembled Transformers.
REVIEW: Stories where characters are only believed to be dead are a sort of cheat just to get some pathos in, usually by featuring mourning and eulogy scenes. Meanwhile, the viewer/reader knows full well that the characters are alive and well, and is simply not connecting to those scenes in a meaningful way. YOU are not in mourning, so you're just counting the minutes/pages until the characters learn the truth. These are still well constructed character moments, and I especially liked the cut-aways to other places and people learning about their loved one's death. It makes the Star Trek universe so much more interconnected, and it's something very easy to do in a comic, but very difficult on tv. So exactly what these books should do! The cliffhanger features a striking image which should prove interesting next issue.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Kung Fu Fridays

Kung Fu Fridays have been a tradition here in my home for about three months, and lately, I've taken to creating posters announcing the month's features. Of course, I had to go back in time and retcon some posters for the months I missed! Click for kickass size.Moves of the Month
Hard-Boiled: Flaming bike attack!
Supercop: Michelle Yeoh's scorpion kick!
Heroes of the East: Crab stance!
Moves of the Month
Tai Chi Master: Barrel blow-up!
Infernal Affairs: I see your cards, you see mine!
The One-Armed Swordsman: Broken sword de-grip!
Kill Zone: Brazilian fusion!
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin: Kung Fu eyes!
Moves of the Month
Enter the Dragon: Snake toss!
Dragon Heat: 2x4 fighting sticks!
Shanghai Express: The obvious stalker!
The 5 Deadly Venoms: Snake style!
Moves of the Month
My Young Auntie: Tiger claws!
Born to Fight: Axe of Thor!
Seven Swords: Sliding sword!
The Big Boss: Bloody taste test!

October is exciting because it has five (5!) Fridays! Now premiering the month's Kung Fu poster:
Moves of the Month
We'll see!

Mini-reviews of each film in past This Week in Geek.

Star Trek 1022: The Flight of the Albert Einstein

1022. The Flight of the Albert Einstein

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #20, DC Comics, June 1991

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Peter Krause and Pablo Marcos (artists)

STARDATE: 44212.9 (between Future Imperfect and Final Mission)

PLOT: The Enterprise-D races to help twin colonies infected by a plague and is forced to send a shuttle to the smaller of the two. Riker, Worf, Wesley, Selar and medical staff board the Einstein on that mission. Unfortunately, they hit a wormhole, are whisked off to God knows where, with most systems down and Riker critically injured...



PANEL OF THE DAY - Too much information!
REVIEW: A take on the Galileo Seven, with most of the page count used to introduce us to new characters and/or creating a dynamic between them and the regulars. It's the kind of thing Friedman is good at, with relationships drawn in shorthand and a balance of levity and drama. Back on the Enterprise, that drama comes dangerously close to melodrama, but then, they never could endanger Wesley without it going that way for Beverly. Regardless, spending time developing a "guest crew" has a good a chance of paying off since issue 20 actually begins the 5-part "Star Lost" story. We'll be with them for a while.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Star Trek 1021: The Lesson

1021. The Lesson

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #19, DC Comics, May 1991

CREATORS: Michael Jan Friedman (writer), Peter Krause and Pablo Marcos (artists)

STARDATE: 44270.1 (between Family and Brothers)

PLOT: It's Beverly's birthday and she's feeling blue, so Deanna takes her on a hiking trip on the holodeck where she learns to feel alive. Riker gives a talk in class and gets pwned by Wesley. And Worf answers some email and tells his ward to pursue the girl of his dreams.

CONTINUITY: Jeremy Aster (The Bonding) sends Worf a video message. If it's Crusher's birthday, then it's October 13th - a Thursday (Conundrum).

DIVERGENCES: If this had actually followed Family, it would have made back-to-back R&R episodes.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Worf doesn't seem to want to share Jeremy with Emily.
REVIEW: With this issue, we jump into Season 4 with a new penciller on board. Peter Krause is ok. Certainly not as expressive as Marcos - stiff even - and it seems to me that the TNG ladies haven't yet looked beautiful. He can communicate a variety of emotions, but his "camera work" is all over the place. As for the three short vignettes: I'm glad to see someone remembers Jeremy Aster even if I don't care about the character; Riker's lesson was educational, but a little dull; and Beverly's hiking adventure ended just the way I expected. I LIKE issues like these that provide character moments over SF plots, but the series is at a point where we need a little epic (is that an oxymoron?).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cat of the Geek #24: Alley-Kat-Abra

Name: Felina Furr
Stomping Grounds: Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew (comics)
Side: Good (until she ate Little Cheese - that's just wrong, kinda like if Zatanna mindwiped the Atom, oh wait...)
Breed: Anthropomorphic (Earth-C)
Cat Powers: Various mystical powers, all of them amplified by or requiring the use of Magic Wanda, including levitation, teleportation, telepathy, limited precognition, matter transmutation, and mystical force bolts. She is also a highly trained martial artist, including being skilled in the martial art of "Kat-Fu".
Skills: Eat 7, Sleep 5, Mischief 5, Wit 6, Magic 7
Cat Weaknesses: Eats teammates (serves him right for being a rat).

Star Trek 1020: Forbidden Fruit

1020. Forbidden Fruit

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation #18, DC Comics, April 1991

CREATORS: Dave Stern and Mike O'Brien (writers), Mike Manley and Robert Campanella (artists)

STARDATE: 43131.4 (between Evolution and The Survivors, but see Divergences)

PLOT: Wesley invents an alternative to the transporter, the hyperport, that promptly beams an alien named Pierce from a plague-ridden planet. He tries to convince Wesley not to pursue the invention and when that doesn't work, infects the ship's water supply with a plague. He explains that he is from the future where Captain Wesley Crusher's use of the hyperport allowed the unfiltered disease to infect his world. He was allowed to go back in time to stop Wesley. Now, the uninfected Data uses the machine to return to the same point and self-destruct, taking the contraption with him and scaring Wes into abandoning it.

CONTINUITY: To create his hyperport, Wesley borrowed ideas from the Iconian Gateway (Contagion).

DIVERGENCES: Despite the stardate to the contrary, the comic it's set between Who Watches the Watchers? [sic] and The Bonding.

PANEL OF THE DAY - One of Starfleet's holy grails was an invention that combined the delicious brewing of coffee and the time-honored hobby of constructing model ships.
REVIEW: I'm not entirely certain why the one-off story has to take place outside the series' framework like that, but it's only one of many questions I find left unanswered. Well, you do bring it on yourself when you attempt a temporal paradox. For example, it's never clear why the machine is said not to work - leading to the assumption that it was the future hyperport that did the job - but does for Data. Just who gave Wesley the classified Iconian technology? Are we sure Captain Crusher WON'T create the hyperport later, causing the same epidemic? Because the story kind of leaves me thinking he will. And if the difference is that this time, he'll consult experts in other fields (presumably medical), does that mean Starfleet started using the damned thing WITHOUT getting it checked out? An alien named Pierce? Like many time travel stories, it's clever until you start really looking at it. Nice enough art from Manley and Campanella, though a bit sketchy in spots where clarity would have been better.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Time Capsule: By the Sandals of Max Mercury!

You know, I was happier to see Max Mercury return in the pages of Flash: Rebirth than I was with Barry Allen's return. In the pages of his Flash and Impulse, Mark Waid put meat on the bones of an obscure Quality Comics Golden Age feature called Quicksilver and made him completely different from all the other speedsters whizzing about the DC Universe. Max is the Yoda of the Speed Force and an agile acrobat to boot. But where did it all begin? National Comics #5, but I don't have access to that story.

But here are some bits from National #6!The label says December 1940...

The story starts with a warehouse fire in Manhattan that I suspect did not get the proper attention from New York's Finest.
It's the perfect time for our villain-du-jour, Baron Hoff, to go rob a bank. After all, the cops are bound to be busy. Baron Hoff is, by all accounts, the perfect confluence of evil Mr. Potato Head parts:
The fire continues to rage and the island is reduced to a single building. Where's our Boy Blue?
There he is. You think early heroic strips were influenced by radio at all? Max/Quicksilver "tosses a small capsule" at the fire.
And by small, they mean ENORMOUS! It wipes out the inferno immediately (though there's still some fire in later panels, gotta leave some for the proles you know, or they'll never learn self-reliance - HE WAS ALREADY A ZEN MASTA!). Max heads for the bank to stop Baron Hoff, who plans to make his getaway in a plane with the world's biggest propeller.
Of course, that's not gonna stop Quicksilver, for whom the blades are spinning at a ridiculously slow pace. It's one race to the end of the bank's impossibly deep lobby and...
The Speed Force's zen master says: "You can never have too much exercise."