Saturday, July 31, 2010

What If... the Thing Had Continued to Mutate?

At this point in in its life, What If? is trying to cram multiple stories in each issue, all following a certain theme. In #35 it was life and death. In #36, loss and gain of powers. And here in #37, it's about transformation. Let's just say that in this first one, writer Tom DeFalco goes a bit far...

What If Vol.1 #37 (February 1983)
Based on: Marvel Two-in-One #81
The true history: Ben Grimm was injected with a radioactive virus by MODOK which made him mutate further. Teaming up with Giant-Man Bill Foster and Captain America, he went back to AIM's HQ and got the cure. Foster thought of using it on himself to cure his own radioactive toxemia, but sacrificed his well-being to return the Thing to his former, rocky state.
Turning point: What if the Thing didn't WANT to team up with Giant-Man Bill Foster?
Story type: Happily ever after
Watcher's mood: Barn doors
Altered history: This time, Ben Grimm fears his mind may also mutate and rather than endanger Bill "the former Black Goliath" Foster, he runs away. Or maybe he doesn't trust a third-stringer to actually help him recover the virus and throws in the towel.
He's on the run without a cell, but Reed Richards sets his "vapo-tracker" on him, a heat-seeking missile by any other name.
Note: Reed Richards is not a danger to society. Before the Fantastic Four can find him, Ben's mutated so much he can no longer fly the F-bike and he crashes on a mountain.
Meanwhile, Giant-Man and Captain America take the fight to MODOK and AIM to recover the antidote to "Virus X". Unfortunately, they don't have the Thing on their side this time, and Giant-Man's strength is quickly deteriorating as a result of his own radiation poisoning.
Captain America saves his bacon, but the two of them are still losing the fight. Giant-Man finds the cure-gun and uses it on himself - because now apparently there's enough for everyone... CHEAT! And it doesn't even matter in the end, you'll see... DOUBLE CHEAT! - and he rallies, stronger than ever, saving Cap and defeating MODOK. On the mountain face, the FF and poor blind Alicia Masters find the Thing and he's gone radioactive. Alicia doesn't care (or, I think, understand what that means) and runs into the caves where Ben's hiding. She would rather die than live without him anyway. He's mutated into a (more) horrible radioactive monster.
And then he goes critical. Sue Richards puts everyone in a forcefield as the Thing blows, and then DeFalco tacks on a happy ending to THAT. First, the radiation blast cures Alicia of her blindness. Second, it purges Ben of both the virus AND his powers/mutated form. Now they can get married and still be able to return the rented tux undamaged!
But wait, there's more. Who can possibly take Ben's place on the Fantastic Four? Why, how about Giant-Man Bill Foster?
It all works out, and Foster even gets the fame he never had in our world. Is it possible that he doesn't die cheaply in Civil War? Yes, there's even a chance of that. Also, in this world, mutants no longer suffer prejudice, Spider-Man has a happy life and all the villains retire.
Books canceled as a result: Puts to rest Marvel Two-in-One, unless they expect Giant-Man to carry the burden. Certainly, no Thing comic down the road.
These things happen: Often. Ben Grimm has been a big yo-yo when it comes to mutating back and forth, or losing his powers altogether. The longest-lasting change was probably his spiky look during the Englehart run:
Yeah, let's not do that again.
Next week: What if the Beast Had Continued to Mutate?
My guess: Belle and the candlesticks packed up and left.

Star Trek 1331: A Matter of Dates

1331. A Matter of Dates

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Intelligence Gathering #2, IDW Comics, February 2008

CREATORS: Scott Tipton and David Tipton (writers), David Messina (artist)

STARDATE: 45934.7 (follows the last issue)

PLOT: A joint construction venture on Votar VII between the posh Rigelians and the Kaylar workforce suffers from labor disputes and the Enterprise-D is called in to mediate before the Cardassians intervene and steal the planet from under the Federation's nose. Picard puts Worf in charge and the Klingon is told by the Rigelians that the Kaylar are holding a dam at ransom. The Kaylar are opposed to Starfleet butting in. At an impasse, Worf tries to liberate the dam, but there learns the Kaylar had no intention of destroying it. Picard gives Worf a pep talk about finding his own way, and Worf goes back to the Rigelians who have been lying to him and threatens to take all future contracts to others. The Rigelians come clean and the dispute over contracts is quickly resolved.

CONTINUITY: Ro Laren appears. Worf works on his diplomatic skills, prefiguring his role as Ambassador at the end of What We Leave Behind.


PANEL OF THE DAY - Windows are overrated.
REVIEW: Picard has a thousand people to choose from, including himself, and he picks Worf to head a labor mediation? And Worf picks Ro Laren as his second-in-command? That's not using your best people to do the job, is it? Maybe Picard felt Worf would be better accepted by the Kaylar barbarians, but that still doesn't mean he shouldn't supervise negotiations. He is instead recast as a Yoda figure, very strange. Ro is essentially wasted, not bringing anything to the story beyond a bouncing board for Worf (and I suppose, the only character with less tact than Worf, so he really is on his own). Worf does find his own way, but it doesn't feel all that "Worfian". I'm further disappointed by this series because while it all seems to take place in the same relatively large stardate window the Tiptons were able to find, they don't have any kind of arc. There's a broad "information gathering" theme to the stories, but are otherwise one-offs. I suppose limited engagements (mini-series) are easier to market than ongoing series, but this feels more like the latter.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Movie Marquee Friday: Just J's

It's big, bold and lives under the sea...
In no way derivative...

Naive hoots through the trees...

Nostalgia is the rodeo...

The self-drawn woman goes places, carrying milk and juice...

Ripples in space create another world...

Those 1950s sensibilities didn't go out with the first sonic boom...

Star Trek 1330: Valued Intelligence

1330. Valued Intelligence

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Intelligence Gathering #1, IDW Comics, January 2008

CREATORS: Scott Tipton and David Tipton (writers), David Messina (artist)

STARDATE: 45915.3 (between The Next Phase and The Inner Light)

PLOT: Data and Riker beam down to Daystrom-1 where a massive computer based on Data's neural net and containing the Federation's entire sum of knowledge is malfunctioning. They enter a virtual world/pocket dimension called the tesseract using a small craft to interact with the data. There they find not only strange crystalline structures that shouldn't be there, but also Romulan agents trying to capture Data. The Enterprise-D detects a cloaked warbird and forces it to decloak, even as Riker and Data capture the agents. Tomalak fesses up to a bit of industrial espionage. But was the computer malfunction a Romulan trap, or something else?

CONTINUITY: Tomalak first appeared in The Enemy. He mentions The Enterprise Incident. Reg Barclay also appears (Hollow Pursuits, etc.). Daystrom-1 makes use of Bynars (11001001).


PANEL OF THE DAY - So THAT's how it would work.
REVIEW: I've mostly liked what the Tiptons have brought to the Star Trek universe to date, and Intelligence Gathering has some promise. The tesseract premise is founded in harder sf than we're used to (and not unlike a big, massive Google), but that's not a bad thing. Not always easy to get a handle on, but still worthy. We're more computer-savvy today than we were during the TNG days (and comic book audiences may be more knowledgeable than mainstream tv ones) so the writers may well go deeper into computing science than would have been allowed on the show. Again, not necessarily my cup of tea, but not a bad thing. What's a little disappointing is that despite the over-arcing title, the next issue sees the TNG characters off on another adventure. The possibility that the computer had grown sentient is a red herring and the Romulan plot seems just as unfinished. Messina teams up with the brothers once more, and if I liked what he did on Blood Will Tell, I'll like it here as well.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Batman and the Outsiders #6: Pages 17-19

So let's catch up with Batman's plan to draw the Cryonic Man (what Batman calls him)/Philip (what he calls himself) out of hiding and in a position to get arrested. Yes, it's technically entrapment. The idea is to use a noted pioneer in artificial organs as bait. I'm assuming one of the Outsiders is playing the part, because that's Batman as the chauffeur (Alfred doesn't mind him raiding his closet).To his credit, it works, although Bats kinda hoped the attack would be at the hotel, you know, where there are lots of innocent bystanders that could get hurt (gotta make Geo-Force do SOMEthing) and property to damage. Not that there aren't other cars in the Gotham Tunnel, but that should represent fewer people.
And Batman respects that it's a better plan. So ok, Batman reveals he was the chauffeur, and Black Lightning was hiding in the back seat. So who plays the part of Nobel laureate Dr. Marcus Dorland?
That shock of hair tells me Geo-Force in heavy make-up, but it's more likely shapeshifting Metamorpho. But that would be wrong. Those guys are with the rest of the Outsiders. So it can only be the real Dorland, or some patsy that owes Batman a favor. And Batman doesn't mind him seeing BL without a mask. Hmm. We shouldn't worry too much though, because we don't see the guy ever again after this point. He's probably hunched over looking for his glasses, but think about it. The Cryonic Man has come for HIM and then just forgets about him? Well, so does Batman, who promptly leaves the car. So does Lightning, who steps all over him to get out of the vehicle...
Let's come out and say it: So does Mike Barr. And if Batman admired the Cryonic Man's strategy, there's nothing to recommend about his. Couldn't you have protected the car a little better? Throw Halo in the trunk? Have Metamorpho BE the car? Have the team driving in an escort vehicle? But no, Batman has to run off to get them. FAIL! Speaking of fail:
And I'm not talking about Black Lightning, I'm talking about Barr. I've got an electricity-powered hero and he's not immune to his own voltage?! You'd think super-conductivity would have made him MORE effective, not less! Meanwhile, why does Batman have to run off?
His radio can't get out of an open tunnel! Must be a bitch to listen to the news while commuting in Gotham. You'd think he'd have that licked, what with living in a cave and all. Maybe if he didn't spend his time watching Star Trek with Halo all the time, he'd have tackled his shoddy electronics problem. And where ARE the Outsiders? (We're very far from Grant Morrison's super-prepared Batman here.) Oh, there they are.
I wish I had a joke here, but I've been distracted by Metamorpho's creepy disembodied head. Let's just go back to Batman's Art of War:
The goal is to capture the Cryonic Man. Batman has a whole team at his disposal, but leaves Lightning in the lurch fighting alone and getting his ass kicked by poor physics. He sends Halo to help, but KEEPS THE REST WITH HIM. OUTSIDE THE TUNNEL. Including the two most powerful Outsiders. Including the one that has actually fought and defeated (even if he let him run away) the Cryonic Man. It's a good thing he quit the JLA because they would have revoked his membership. Not that Halo isn't a competent superhero...
Ha! I couldn't say that with a straight face. Here she wonders if there's a relation between her stasis beam, which freezes people, and Cryo's ice beams, which do the same. Grasp at straws much? Hey, maybe she's Superman's cousin cuz he has heat beams too! Or Shrinking Violet's ancestor, cuz you know, there's a purple aura. We know you haven't thought up an origin for her yet, Mr. Barr, but really, do you think any reader with half a brain will believe this to be a viable clue?
"...I'll make your auras way more competent and yet it will make you short out!" But what the Barr giveth, the Barr taketh away. And vice-versa:
This comic: Check the quarter bin. That expression: Priceless.

Next: The Outsiders as traffic cops!

Star Trek 1329: Alien Spotlight: Romulans

1329. Alien Spotlight: Romulans

PUBLICATION: Alien Spotlight: Romulans, IDW Comics, February 2008

CREATORS: John Byrne (writer), John Byrne (artist)

STARDATE: Unknown (just before Balance of Terror)

PLOT: The Romulan Praetor launches a new ship design with an experimental weapon and a cloaking device. He puts a Romulan commander in charge, destroying his former command, and sends him on a mission of war. The commander is tired of war and sees the young Praetor's aims in a bad light. Consequently, he forbids his own son from coming along and leaves his wife in the dangerous hands of the Praetor. Meanwhile, the Praetor has been secretly negotiating with the Klingons who hope to fleece this upstart of his technology.

CONTINUITY: The Romulans unveil their first cloak-enabled ship, which we see destroyed in Balance of Terror. The Romulan Commander, his Centurion and the well-connected Decius from that episode all appear. This marks the start of the Klingon-Romulan alliance that bears fruit in The Enterprise Incident. The Romulans characters established by Byrne here recur in later IDW series (The Hollow Crown).


PANEL OF THE DAY - They really aren't Vulcans, are they?
REVIEW: John Byrne returns to Star Trek after showing interest in it by working on the Who's Who, and he'll become one of the license's stable writers/artists. What to say about his spotlight on the Romulans? Well, it's all about set-ups. He sets up Balance of Terror. He sets up The Enterprise Incident. And he sets up more of his Romulan stories to come. Sadly, the character you most want to see after this is the unnamed Romulan commander, but we all know he dies in Balance of Terror. The Caligula-like Praetor could be of interest down the line, especially with the Klingons breathing down his neck, while the commander's wife and son could be protagonists in the making, but don't have much dimension at this point. There's certainly an interesting story to be told about early Romulan politics and Byrne will get to tell it. We'll see where it goes. For now, he extrapolates events very well from what we're told on the show, and his art is as good as it's always been.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cat of the Geek #72: Moulinsart's Cat

Name: Only known as Le chat de Moulinsart
Stomping Grounds: Tintin (comics); also as a resin statue
Side: Good
Breed: Siamese
Cat Powers: Beloved of both Captain Haddock and dog owner Tintin. Good relations with those of the canine persuasion.
Skills: Eat 3, Sleep 4, Mischief 5, Wit 2, Jumpy 8
Cat Weaknesses: Any noise will set kitty off running. Causes false endpage cliffhangers (Hergé red herrings).

Batman and the Outsiders #6: Pages 15-17

Let's learn a little something about the Cryonic Man, shall we? Like his tastes in real estate:Ok, so a lot of people are ignoring the sign and braving the prison barbed wire, are they?And sometimes they see under the surface and there's even more crap inside. You're invited to look deeper. DEEPER!
To be fair, Omniscient Narrator, who would ever think to look under the House of Mystery for an operating theater filled with B-movie robots? Looks like ol' CM is getting painlessly operated on by these primitive robots. What else is down there?
Only CM's frozen girlfriend and her folks! No, this is still not a Mr. Freeze story. Frozen or not, Melissa can hear him telepathically, as can her parents, the Raymonds, but they unfortunately can't hear each other. He kinda has to be there to relay the messages.
Yeah, yeah, Mrs. Raymond, shut your mind-hole. We also find out that though Batman has decided to call him "Cryonic Man", he really only calls himself Philip. Which doesn't sound like it would look cool on a cover. Guess what, "Cryonic Man" either. And then there's the idea that they still believe it's 1955 (so I guess we have to excuse the robot designs and Golden Age plot).
Another thing about Philip is that he only shaves the top of his thigh, but never bothers with the rest of the leg. What did you say? That leg's been grafted on in the painless operation that just occured? But where did he get the leg?
Tan-tan-TANNNNNNN! Wow, harvesting limbs from your father-in-law, eh? Good thing old Mr. Raymond has such well-developed musculature! Could have been worse. Or much worse if he'd taken one of Melissa's gams. Although I do wonder if amputating his leg and getting it replaced was bit of overkill after Metamorpho broke it. Can't have a broken leg, oh no! I guess the robots can do the impossible, but the possible is right out.

It's about time Batman took this sucker out.
Yes, it's a trap, but Philip has taken so much stuff out of Melissa (presumably) that any avenue for transplants should be explored. And no, still not a Mr. Freeze story.

Star Trek 1328: Past Imperfect

1328. Past Imperfect

PUBLICATION: Alien Spotlight: Borg, IDW Comics, January 2008

CREATORS: Andrew Steven Harris (writer), Sean Murphy (artist)

STARDATE: 56344.5 / 41903.2 (after Insurrection / between Conspiracy and The Neutral Zone)

PLOT: In the far future, the Borg have finally achieved perfection. They cause a tachyon wave that changes the past so that all DNA everywhere is assimilated. People are retroactively born as Borg. Echoes of that change hit the present as aimless implants. Geordi survives the implants and imparts the Collective's plan to Data. Admiral Janeway's plan is to detonate a transwarp core in a star, nullifying the wave and possibly wiping the Borg from the timeline. Picard proposes using time travel to send the Enterprise-E back to a critical point, preventing the the Borg from starting the wave in the first place, but maintaining the timeline. They return to the assimilation of a Federation colony where a little girl is meant to become the Queen that thinks up the plan. Picard convinces the Borg that this is all a big paradox and that it can't work in the end. They agree and predict that he will one day join them as Locutus. The girl and her flawed future plan is not assimilated, preventing the wave from occurring.

CONTINUITY: The planet assimilated in the past was the colony the Enterprise visited in The Neutral Zone. Kathryn Janeway was shown to be promoted to Admiral in Star Trek: Nemesis (one of its many sins). Species 8472 was a thorn in the Borg Collective's side in Scorpion, but have been assimilated by the perfect Borg. Picard remembers conversations he has had with Guinan and the Borg Queen. The Borg's tachyon wave was initiated by the Omega molecule (The Omega Directive). Captain Amasov appears; he was mentioned as having been at Wolf-359 by Janeway in Scorpion.

DIVERGENCES: If that colony is really the one that's just a gaping hole in The Neutral Zone, how can the little girl be saved? (Presumably, Picard brought her to the present with him.)

PANEL OF THE DAY - Plug and play
REVIEW: Janeway?! Well, if a Borg story is going to include massive amounts of technobabble and paradoxes that will give you a splitting headache if you spend any time on them at all, Janeway's the girl to get. Oh, and make her plan a dangerous and borderline genocidal one. So yeah, the story's logic probably doesn't hold water and unnecessarily padded with the death of a couple Starfleet ships. HOWEVER! Sean Murphy's art more than makes up for the story's weaknesses. We've been enjoying his work on Joe the Barbarian lately and it's just as gorgeous here even if the subject matter is totally different. And the comic does have a lot of cool ideas... Geordi back in a VISOR, a time traveling Borg hypercube, assimilated Species 8472, and Picard's flashback with Guinan, to name only the most memorable. The Borg don't have a culture worth investigating, so Harris does well to make their agenda the threat and focusing on Starfleet characters instead. Overall, it's a good comic even if the story doesn't really work.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

100 Sexiest Women in Science Fiction (55-41)

The rules of our game/#86-100
This week, we'll finally penetrate the Top 50 (ooh, I'm a bad boy, though I didn't do it on purpose) of science fiction's sexiest gals. Feel free to disagree with the order - I know I already do - but the point is to pay homage to all the wonderful female characters SF film and television have planted in our dreams and fantasies. Definitely not an easy master list to compile, and I'm sure I'll have to post an addendum at the end. One of the questions I had to ask myself is: How iconic is the character? Often times, sheer sexiness carries the day, but in some cases, characters have been denied entry into the list because their genre presence/impact wasn't enough (and yet, some personal favorites did squeak in). So I hope you like these hot, confident chicks. Picking up where we left off...

55. Polly from Doctor Who (Anneke Wills)
Nothing against the companions that came before her, but Polly is veritably the first "Doctor Who girl" chosen for her sex appeal. The quintessential 60s mod posh queen, Polly was elegant, hip and sexy without trying. and one can well imagine that if Ian and Barbara hadn't already broken the seal in ancient Rome, Ben and his "Duchess" would have been first to inspire "hanky panky in the TARDIS" fantasies. She was also the first companion to be picked up in a nightclub. Oh, Swinging London!

54. Pris from Blade Runner (Daryl Hannah)
The list isn't short of bad girls, and for the gents who prefer that type (or just can't help themselves), there's Pris. Creepy goth-punk was never so sexy, and it's no wonder Sebastian let her in to play with his toys. Throw in some acrobatic, head between the legs, killer action for good measure. She's the "pleasure model" you probably won't survive. The only question is raccoon make-up or no?

53. Rose Tyler from Doctor Who (Billie Piper)
She had the Time Lord uncharacteristically swooning with her wide smile and Captain Jack-attracting bum. Rose gets this high on the list thanks to her natural flirtatiousness, though she gets a bump from other things Billie Piper has done, namely all those trashy pop idol photos and of course the erotic comedy, Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Though we're looking at characters proper, this kind of thing tends to leak into our perceptions of that character. Definitely some leaking here, even if all the characters in New Who didn't fall for her, hard.

52. Martha Jones from Doctor Who (Freeman Agyeman)
The Doctor's next companion places one position higher even if she didn't turn the Time Lord's crank. First, Freeman Agyeman is an exotic beauty and we all know by now how that rates with this blogger. Her beautiful skin tone and slightly almond eyes are all that. Second and most importantly, she's not quite as clingy as Rose is, and definitely not as selfish (traits that detract from sexiness). I've always loved how she could put the breaks on the Doctor and call him out on his bull. "I do what I like" is one of the strongest moments of Series 3, and consequently, one of its sexiest.

51. Theora Jones from Max Headroom (Amanda Pays)
Somehow, Amanda Pays could always carry off 80s shoulder pads. If I end up doing a similar list for superhero shows/films, you can bet her Tina McGee from the Flash will on the list with the same exact comment. Theora was a major reason to watch the short-lived Max Headroom show (and to buy it when it is finally released on DVD next month) as Pays exudes a sort of cool, British sexiness as the Network 23 producer.

50. Saint-Exmin from Battle Beyond the Stars (Sybil Danning)
Wearing one of the costumes frequently voted as a one of the sexiest in all of genre fiction, Saint-Exmin is a pushy Valkyrie who uses more idioms than Captain Kirk for sex. Sybil Danning is herself a sex idol, especially in genre films, and as hostess of her own collection of Adventure Videos where she'll teach you, among other things, how to kill a ninja. That's all extra cred that leads a relatively minor character is a B-movie to be so well remembered and starts off our Top 50.

49. Sheba from Battlestar Galactica (Anne Lockhart)
The original Viper pilot, long before Kara Thrace put on a flight suit, Sheba was probably my favorite character on the original series. Cain's daughter from the Pegasus is yet another strong woman in a traditionally male role (at which SF excels), but that didn't stop sparks from flying between her and Apollo. Extra points for rebuffing Starbuck. Extra points as well for being played by Anne Lockhart.

48. Jo Grant from Doctor Who (Katy Manning)
Jo's a lot scattier than most of the characters on this list, but it takes all kinds. The scattiness is irrepressibly endearing and Jo stands probably as the first companion the Doctor ever fell in love with. Watch The Green Death again and tell me he's not jealous of the younger version of him she marries. Even if Jo didn't spend her time on the series in short skirts and go-go boots, there are always those nude pictures of Katy Manning straddling a Dalek. Once seen, they cannot be unseen.

47. Kyra Nerys from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Nana Visitor)
It's no secret that I find the women who could break me over their knees to be extremely sexy. The more unapproachable, the better, you might say. Though Major Kira started out as entirely too angry and "butchy", it's in her mellowing that we found her sexiness. She's passionate and that's a major draw. The more relaxed hairstyle and curvier costume certainly didn't hurt, nor did the fact her true love turned out to be the social loser plagued by unrequited love. That's a strong fantasy in geek circles. I don't even need to put the Intendent and her milk bath on the pile, do I?

46. Samantha Carter from Stargate SG-1/Atlantis (Amanda Tapping)
There's a good reason more than ten men have fallen for her in Stargate. Sam may be a military woman - a "warrior", as many on this list are - but the casting plays against type. She's a petite blonde, and charmingly disarming at first, but she's completely competent as a leader, strategist and fighter, all without sacrificing her femininity. It's too early to tell if her portrayal of Dr. Helen Magnus in Sanctuary will dethrone Sam Carter, but with a good decade of SF presence, it doesn't look likely.

45. Myka Bering from Warehouse 13 (Joanne Kelly)
A newer kid on the block, secret service agent Myka Bering folds competence and vulnerability into a beautiful, full-lipped, curly-haired package. I first discovered Joanne Kelly in the Canadian series Slings & Arrows (as the now ubiquitous Rachel McAdams' replacement) and she quite frankly made an awesome Juliet. Always a class act in whatever outfit they put her in, Myka is just a little bit neurotic, which is charming as hell.

44. Saavik from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Kirstie Alley)
"Oh that Romulan ale..." The barely canonical fact that Saavik is half-Romulan means there's deep passion brewing under the Vulcan surface. With all respect to Robin Curtis' portrayal in the next film, it's Kirstie Alley's Saavik that has captured the imagination, in no small part thanks to that turbolift scene. No wonder Kirk strats to feel old in ST II.

43. Inara Serra from Firefly (Morena Baccarin)
Putting a space geisha (or "Companion") on the list is kind of obvious, and Morena Baccarin's graceful and mysterious portrayal of Inara is certainly deserving. One of the great disappointments stemming from Firefly's early cancellation is the abortion of the Mal-Inara relationship. They certainly had chemistry, which translated to the viewer. But why so low on the list? Though incredibly beautiful, Inara is just a little bit to ethereal and distant to get any higher. Vivaciousness counts for a lot (in case you're wonder where Zoe and Kaylee are).

42. Princess Aura from Flash Gordon (Ornella Muti)
1980's Flash Gordon is a kitsch piece of camp that goes for broke when it comes to sexiness (maybe Flesh Gordon was a primary source). Italian actress Ornella Muti's Aura has apparently been sown into her vinyl costumes and when not calling favors from her numerous lovers (including Timothy Dalton, who rocks a mustache like no other), gets busy sitting on Flash's lap while he tries to pilot a ship. There's no short supply of her vamping. I won't even get into the spanking.

41. Ardala from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (Pamela Hensley)
Coming just short of the Rick Dees version of this list is another princess from the pulpy future, but she's not one of the good guys. Her evil agenda was two-fold: 1) Conquer Earth, 2) Make Buck Rogers her consort. I think her priority must've been #2, going by the consistent out-sexiying of Wilma Deering, by whatever means necessary. Whether that's putting the goods out there with the help of glittering bikini tops, or arranging her own shotgun wedding. Doing research, I was surprised to find Pamela Hensley only appeared in 4 episodes of Buck Rogers. And yet, she's the first thing I recall when I think of Buck Rogers. Biddi biddi biddi, indeed.

Come back next week as we delve into the Top 40!