Brad Moon Rising: A Long Evening With Lost Souls

I See The Brad Moon Arising
I See Trouble On The Rise…

“The door was opening again. The seer does not like to dwell upon what he saw entering the room… The sound of cries – faint, as if coming out of a vast distance – but, even so, infinitely appalling, reached the ear…” – M.R. James. 

Good evening, dearest Oneironauts!

Gracious, there are fewer of you than ever this year…

Very well, we have reached another All Hallows’ Eve – there is more to fear than carved pumpkins, my dear…

In this faire land o’ olde Albion, there dwells an abundance of apparitions to chill anyone’s blood: 

From the gaunt cavaliers who pass through solid walls

To the ladies in white who glide through opulent halls; 

From the sprites and wights o’ wooded dells 

To the ragged children who fell into long-forgotten wells…   

You join me at Pluckley, in Southern England, reputed to be the most haunted village in the country. At the last count there were thir13en ghosts, but recently, locals have reported a few new apparitions. 

We shall begin the tour at the top end of town.

Park Wood used to be an extensive forest, stretching off to the north. A colonel hanged himself here, but before the area was cut back to become grazing land, he could still be seen from time to time, wandering among the trees…

The area has become better known as the Screaming Woods – no doubt other restless spirits lurk therein… 

Continue down the road until we reach Dicky Buss’s Lane. Shortly after the First World War, a schoolmaster – who, perhaps, could no longer take the torment of lingering shellshock – hanged himself from a laurel tree that once stood in the road.

What a mournful place – it’s best not to linger here lest we catch sight of that phantom master swinging in the breeze…

 

Still she stands aglow before me,
Pale and tender, warm and rare.
Still, she runs through meadows laughing,
Locked in memory, slumber’s snare.

Why I come here every season,
driven by the ghost of dread,
I cannot in truth you answer,
‘Less ’tis guilt I’m blindly led” – Bruce Jones.  

A short distance to the east, we arrive at the Church of St Nicholas.

Ghosts normally haunt the place of death. A graveyard seems the natural place to expect supernatural activity, but this is not the case. Generally. 

This parish, however, offers the exception. There she is! We can catch a glimpse of the Red Lady; the beautiful Lady Dering carries a red rose as she drifts majestically amongst the tombstones, wearing the same sumptuous gown as on that day so grim. Her body was placed in seven lead coffins, one inside the other, then put into an oak casket and laid in a vault under the church. 

But to rest? 

Surely you jest!

For nine centuries ‘pon this ground she has shone.

Certainly she will remain, long after the church has gone!

Some distance down the southern road, at a house called Greystones, the grounds are frequented by a phantom monk; and yet further down this very road, stands a house known as Rose Court. 

It is four o’ the clock in the afternoon; the Lady of Rose Court appears, sitting by the bay window – she looks so forlorn. She died many years ago – at 4pm – by drinking the juices of crushed poisonous berries, looking out of that window, towards Greystones; not surprising, then, to discover that she can often be seen with the monk.

It is so quiet here in this thrice-cursed hamlet, on this day of all days.

Eerily quiet. 

Too quiet.

Only the ghastly sound of my heavy boots trudging down this country lane breaks the unnatural silence.

Nobody comes out to meet and greet me. 

Nobody dares…

“My life’s turning pages, I see a promised day
Watchmen never age here, they just sleep in vain
Drowning people stare here, they don’t care to call
I rebury the pages, Cthulhu calls

You’ll see, you’ll see her when she starts to form
You’ll see, you’ll see her when she starts to call” – Carl McCoy. 

Near a house called the The Pinnock lie the ruins of an old mill. The black form of a miller’s ghost has been seen, but only during thunderstorms. 

The clock lopes to half past five.

Night descends much earlier now that Winter has arrived…

The clouds above look as menacing as e’er,

Yet it seems we’ll be spared any autumnal downpour, let alone any peal o’ thunder.  

So no phantom miller will pay 

Us a visit this day. 

Further down the southern lane on the way to Maltman’s Hill, the hoofquake of four phantom horses and the clatter of the coach it draws can only be heard on the darkest of nights. 

A short stroll westwards to the outskirts of the village, and we arrive at a crossroads, named – appropriately enough – Fright Corner.  

Take a closer look.

Under the crossroads sign sits “Maggie,” the little old gypsy woman, wrapped in a tattered shawl and smoking a pipe. Burned to death – presumably for witchcraft – and yet she remains on this spot, staring at me intensely, flashing her toothless grin; honestly, it’s at times like these when yours truly wishes he was NOT so ridiculously good-looking…

Just yards away – my least favourite ghost story – a notorious dandy highwayman was ambushed by a local mob, run through with a sword, and speared to the hollow oak tree that still dominates this spot. The grisly scene is re-enacted on the last day of every month. Every year. Every century… 

His name?

Oh, YOU KNOW his name. All too well. 

What can we say about him? 

Bold and badass, dashing and devil-may-care – sound familiar…? 

Things that go bumptious in the night…?

An unnatural chill sweeps through Fright Corner. Way above, e’er-billowing clouds scud past the brilliant half moon. Returning my gaze to the road, Maggie has already vanished; she remembers what transpires anon…

Always on time – ne’er fail – these wretched coves!

The gang of dark shapes emerge from the field yonder – each misbegotten soul brandishing his own blade, devilish hearts brimming with the fury of murderous intent.  

For this is the spot where Kismet decreed,

That the worst shall come to pass by such a frightful deed.  

For this is where I met my end. In deceit and gore, 

Countless times before… …

“Silently we went round and round,
And through each hollow mind
The memory of dreadful things
Rushed like a dreadful wind,
And Horror stalked before each man,
And Terror crept behind” – Oscar Wilde.

Advertisements

“You May Dispense With The Pleasantries, Commander”: THIS IS IT! BRAD CONFRONTS ZAN DOKA!!

Duel Of The Cakes…

 

This is the Final Episode in the Firm And Shapely Trilogy if you want to catch-up, here are Episode I & Episode II

Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenceless. Take your weapon! Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete…” – Emperor Palpatine. 

 

BLAZES!

We CAN’T wait any longer! Get ON with it, already!

 

“Command Ztation, zeez eez ZT 3-2-wurn. Code Clearence Blue,” announced the Zandokan pilot as the Zoulzukker approached the Imperial Ztodgeztonker.  

“Ve’re ztarteenk our apprurch. Deactivate ze zecurity jhield!”

A Command Ztation officer watched their approach: “Infirm Lord Zegreatme zat Commandair Zubizmaar hez errift.”

In the Imperial Foyer, the Dark Lord strode towards a turbo-lift, anxiously awaiting its occupants. The doors slid aside and two guards exited, followed by the leader of the Kriegzlide Killzquad and his prisoner, who gazed at Zegreatme with complete calm.

“Zeez eez a Rebel zat zurrendaired to uz. Although he deniez eet, Ay believe zhere may be murr uv zem, end Ay requezt pairmizzun to conduct a furthair zearch uv ze area… He vuz armed… urnly weev zeez.”

The Commander extended his hand, revealing the egg-whisk that the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger had “borrowed” from the canteen on Wotsit IV; Brad chortled heartily.

“Gourd verk, Commandair. Leaf uz. Conduct yer zairch end breenk heez combpanionz to me.”

“Yez, may Lord.”

Zmutti Zubizmaar and the guards withdrew. The rotten antagonist and the groovy protagonist stood alone in the oddly tranquil beauty of the place… until Zegreatme growled and flung the whisk aside.

“Ze Emprah hez been expecteenk yo,” the Dark Lord muttered as they walked back into the flagship.

“I know, me Lord.”

“Zo, yo hef accepted ze truth zat – hey! – Ay EM Ze Beeg Cheeez-” 

“I’ve accepted the truth that you are a big-“

“ENNUV!” They halted abruptly. “DEMN YO, FERTLITTAIR! VHERE’Z MAY VUKKEEN’ ZAMZUNG?”  

“Jeez, Zeggy-baby, haven’tcha got over that yet?! Anyways, it seems ages since we last locked antlers, sotaspeak. Ya know what? I missed ya, Zeg yeah yeah, I’ve actually missed ya, you stormin’ biochemech tosspot, you! Funny thing is… I reckon that… yeah, you kinda missed me too, coochie-coo…”  

The Dark Lord bristled: “UFF…! DURN’T MEK ME DEZTROY YO…”

“Nah-ah, I know ya missed me-”

ZYLENZ! AY VEEL NUT LEEZZEN…”

“…That is why ya couldn’t destroy me. That’s why ya won’t bring me ta yer Emp’ror now-“

“GAH! YO AIR A DEEKWAD, AZ ZE EMPRAH HEZ FURZEEN…”

“Search yer feelin’s, tosspot-”

“YO DURN’T KNUR ZE PAH UV ZE EMPAH!”

“I feel the conflict wiv- Jeez! That ‘eadache yer givin’ me dahn’ ‘arf split! Let go o’ yer Caps Lock, already! Fer goodness sake, flamin’ Nora…”

“Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh… everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?” – Han Solo. 

Just as they rounded a corner, Brad hurled himself into the Dark Lord, sending him clattering and swearing inanely into the wall opposite.

As mad as a bicycle, the reluctant infiltrator dashed off with a gaggle of guards in hot, clanking pursuit. To one side, a door slid up; instinct compelled him to hurl his ripped bod through. He found himself in a sizeable hall – penetrating blackness prevented him from sussing out how large. 

A transparent screen – several metres high – met his startled gaze on the port side. Countless glittering stars dazzled his retinas as he gawped into the infinite vastness of space…

“BEHULD!! Ze ultimet pah in ze uneevuzz! End eet eez… ULL MAIN…” 

The abrupt, booming voice reverberated malevolently. Your hero slowly turned, and there, in an opulent throne sat the most imposing figure Brad had ever encountered. It was bedecked in brilliant purple biochemech armour, and wrapped in the most extravagant crimson cloak. No head could be seen. That despicable voice emanated from within an oversized, conical silver-plated helmet as worn by the Varlok warlords of olde. 

“ENTAH, Bred Fertlittair! Ay hef been expecteenk yo…”

“Oh, blazes… That voice… That cloak…! Ya gotta be-”

“Prezizely, Commandair! EMPRAH ZAN DOKA: RULAIR UV ZE UNEEVUZZ!

“Az lung az Ay vield ze PAH COZMEEC, Ay em ULL PAHFUL! Lurng hef Ay ewetted zeez day! Ay vonted to meet ze wun end urnly Kekchairmair… Beefur heez eeneviteble extairmeenation, heh heh heh… Prepare to meet thy DOME, Urfmairn!!”

“Who talks first? You talk first? I talk first…?” – Poe Dameron.

“Wherevair Ay look, ze Rebel bandz air zcattered end demurelized acrozz ze ztarz…

“Eet ezz urnly a mattair uv tem beefur yer peeteeful leetle bend air crujt, end may gallant furzez march to ze vinal veectory!”

“Pfah, YOU… are the one ‘oo’s doomed, Zan – we may be few, we may be poor, but the Rebellion’ll be the end o’ ya – of that, ya can be sure!”

“Ha! Nut even yer louzy poetry ken harm me!” Emperor Zan Doka sneered.

“Yer gravely mistaken, Chief… Ya really think that yer despicable ideology o’ hate will prevail…? ‘Ere, check it aht: as long as dudes like me stand oop ta the likes uvya-“

“Laike yo?! Heh, yer NUTHEENK, Bred! Juzt a homelezz zupairmudel weev a blaztair!”

“Huh, an’ you are a-” 

“ENNUV! AIR, Lurd Zegreatme! Ve vood be honaired eef yo cood jurroin uz…!”

Brad sensed a gargantuan fella lumber in to stand beside him.

“Eet eez UNWAZ to queztion ze Rulair Uv Ze Uneevuzz, Urfmairn…” Zegreatme grumbled.

“Oh yeah? I’d like to see how far ya get wivaht him strainin’ on yer leash, Zeg-“

“Urgh yeah? Ay’ll ZTRAIN YO unteel yo tell me VOT yo deed wiv may VUKKEEN’ ZAMZUNG, Bred!” 

“Ya know what?! I shoulda shoved it in yer Imperial Cake’ole! Blimey, it’s bloomin’ big enough! Then ya’ll be sure NEVAH ta lose it!”

“Yo knur vot?! Ay’m gonna LOOZ EET een a meenut, Urfzcurm! BAY SHOVEEN’ YO OAT ZE VUKKEEN’ AIRLOCK!!”

“Huh, try it, coochie-coo. Just try…”  

“ZVIVEL ME ZYDWEZ!!” the Emperor roared. “Vood yo juzt LEEZEN to ze pair uv yaz?! JEEZ! Yo two verr MEDD fer each uzzair! How ken ve rezturr peaz end belendz to ze Uneevuzz wiv yo DEEPWEETZ conztently beeckaireeng, heh? HEH?! JEEZ!!” 

“Fergeev me, may Mazter…”

“NUR! Ay zwear! Yo two veel be ze deff uv me! Ay ken juzt enveezage ze pair uv yaz teemeeng urp end ovairthroweeng me!” 

Brad’s cute eyes lit up. 

“‘Ey!! Tha’s a thought…” he whispered, nudging the Dark Lord playfully in the ribs. “Whaddya say, Zeggy-baby?! Why dahn’ we team oop an’ take dahn this-“

“NUR! ‘OW DARE YO, URFMAIRN! AY VEEL NEVAIR TURRRN EGENZT MAY MAZTER, FOOL!!”

“We can DO this! Come ON…! Aow ya picked one ‘elluva time ta turn yella, fella…” 

“ZYLENZ! YO DARE CALL ZE DAKK LURD UV ZAN DOKA A COWARD?! VUKKIT, BRED, WUN MURR WYZAZZ LINE FROM YO EN’ AY VEEL HEET YO ZO VUKKEEN’ ‘ARD, YO’LL BE VLYEENK!!”

“WOO…! You EAT CAKE wiv that mouth?!” 

“JEEZ, zhere yo two gur… EGEN!” wailed the exasperated Zan Doka. “Dyzan demmit! Deedn’t ze pair uv yaz hear me ze virzt tem?! ‘OO eez Emprah eround ‘ere? HELLUR…?! ‘Oneztly! Zeez beekkereeng eez geeveenk me en ‘eadache!” 

“YOU got a split’er?!” Brad cried in dismay. “‘Ow’d ya think I feel?! ‘Ad nuthin’ but grief given ta me by the pair uv yers ever since I wuz brough’ ‘ere!”

Brad’s cute eyes lit up again. 

“It- say! We do ‘ave some’t in common! ‘Ey!! Tha’s a thought… Whaddya say, Big-Wig? Why dahn’ we team oop an’ take dahn ol’ lanky Lordy Fog’orn ‘ere? Like, I’m easy, either way, man…”

“ENNUV!” th Emperor roared once more. “Yo TRY oor patienze ULL TOO QUEEKLY, Fertlittair! Yo VEEL be zentenzed to deff!”

“Come again?”

“DEFF!!”

Yer overconfidence is yer weakness,” exclaimed Brad.

The Emperor spun round and spat: Yer zoftzpotz fer peenball macheeenz end kek eez yerz…”

Zegreatme nudged Brad mockingly in the ribs and whispered: “Eet eez purrntlezz to rezeezt… DEEKWAD…”

“Power is the only freedom that I seek. Absolute power is absolute freedom” – Omega. 

“Lord Zeg, leave uz,” Emperor Zan Doka exclaimed.

“Ez yo weesh, may Mazter…”

The Dark Lord bowed ostentatiously, but snarled at Brad before departing: “Zee yo latair, deekwad…”

“Yeah, already missin’ ya, Dork Lard…” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger drawled as he watched his arch-nemesis depart.

“Nice. Gotta hand it to ya, Chief; tha’s one well-trained poodle ya got there. Foul-mouf’ed, lousy tempah per’aps, but still, nice…”

Brad froze, staring at a delectable object on a stand beside the Emperor’s throne. 

“Yo vont zeez…” The Emperor snarled, turning to regard a slice of chocolate cake with abject scorn. “Durn’t yo…?”

“That’s… that’s a slice o’ me fave! You can sense that…?”

“Zenze it?! Ay ken hear yer ztomach rumblin’ frurm ‘ere, Urfmairn!”

“An’ ‘oo’s fault is that, Chief…? Blazes… ya enforce blockades; annex ‘ole planets; subjugate – even xterminate – entire species! All the while, thousands… oh Dyzan, millions… are starvin’! They despair! They ‘oller! They curse ya! An’ wotcha doin’, all the while…? ‘Oldin’ fancy dress parades? Openin’ new Imperial space stations…? Playin’ golf…?!”

“Nur, Ay rule!” 

“Nah, YOU SUCK!! Ya really think that I’m jus’ gonna lounge arahn’ an’ let ya torment the galaxy wiv yer… yer-“

All of a sudden, your hero felt a tingling sensation in his mind as the Emperor held aloft his long, spell-casting talons.

“Yezzz, yo VONT TO TEK ZE PLAZ BAY MAY ZIDE… Yo VONT to eet ze kek, Bred… EEET… ZE… KEK…”

“Uh… yeah, man… I wanna eet ze… ‘ang on…!” Brad shook his head, holding the tasty-looking wodge in his gloved hand, sniffing it. 

“Uff… poisoned!” he roared and hurled it angrily at the Emperor. “Think ya can fool the Cakecharmer ‘imself wiv dodgy bakes, eh?!”

The Emperor struck back: “Eef yo veel nut be turned, yo veel be-!”

“‘OLD! ‘Ang abaht, Zan – I got a bet’er idea… …” 

“Put down your weapons! No one, but no one, dies in the palace without a command from the Emperor” – Klytus.

“GAH! VUKK!!” the Emperor roared as he burst out of his own throne room into the main corridor, throwing frustrated Imperial arms in the air. “VERDS FAIEEL ME!!”

Zegreatme and the Praetorian Guards sprang to attention.

“Zat Urfmairn… eez ‘ard verk, iz’e nut, may Mazter?”

“Ya ken zay ZAT eggen, Zeg! VUKK, ‘e’z zumzeenk elze… Een ULL MAY DAYZ, Ay hef NEHVAIR beefur met ‘ee’z laike…” Emperor Zan Doka grumbled.

“Vot eez thy biddeeng, may Mazter?”

Uff… vukk knowz… Vot muzt wun do agenzt ze PAIRFECT combeenation uv pecz, abz en’ bunz… GAH! Vot KEN wun DO against zuch a… ZUCH A- GAH…!”

“Do nut fret, Mazter,”

“Nur worries… Lord Zegreatme! Zhere eez zumzeenk trubbleen’ me… Pat yer head…”

“May Mazter…? Ay do NUT undairztand…”

“Do nut look zo zairprized, Lurdy – Pat yer head… Know, rub ze tummy at ze zame tem-“

“But VHY, Mazter…?!”

“GAH! VUKK! DO NUT QUEZTION YER EMPRAH! HOW MENNY TEMZ MUZT AY TELL YO NERKZ, HEH?! HEH, jeez…”

“Fergeev me, Mazter; ez yo veesh, May Mazter…”

“HA!! Yo KEN do eet! Ay knew eet; I KNEW IT! Ha…! That’s one thing I can’t abide about you extremistsyer ALL shout, an’ NAH clout. Jus’ a sad bunch o’ blind, obedient automatons. ‘Oo NEVAH question authority; ya CAN’T even exhibit yer own initiative! YOU are the lot who will meet thy DOME! DONUTS… the lot o’ ya…”

“May Mazter, vot…?!”

“Nutheenk yo ken get ta greepz weev, Zeg… Oh! Wun murr theeng… Remove the blockades from Gondabek, Otthon IV and Burgonya. Oh! And – while you’re at it – withdraw the garrisons from Oberon and Shazbot…! And Tufluk! ‘Tiz yer Emprah’s weel! EDVENZ EET! KNOW…!

“Ze Urfwomairn! She’z urn ze Detention Levil – Ay VONT to zee hair! Tek ME to ‘AIR, zumbuddy!!”

One Shokk Trooper stepped confidently forwards: “Shee eez held een Cell wurn-wurn-3-8. Let me ezcurt yo, Yer Highness!”

“Gourd… GOURD! A faine example uv Eemperial deezcipline, zeez boy! Lead URN, Troopair…! Mek ware, MEK WARE! Rulair uz ze Freeken’ Uneevuzz, comeen’ thro…”

And with that, they marched away down the corridor.

Rounding a corner, away from any Imperial bods, the Emperor noticed a couple of curiosities: clearly, this individual seemed too short to be a Shokk Trooper; and a most-recent blast point could clearly be seen on his right pec…

He stopped the Trooper in his tracks, and exclaimed: “Zhere eez zumzeenk… very femeeliair aboat zet voice… Yo zed “Yer Highnessss…” 

The Ruler of the Universe looked up and down the corridor, ensuring that they were indeed alone. Then he reached over, and – clasping the shocked Trooper‘s shoulder and jigging it a lil – began to speak in a more groovy voice:

“It… IS you, innit… Bagel…? Thank Dyzan, I thought ya wuz a goner! SO GOOD ta see ya again, kid… …”

“Go and seek out Baltar. Tell him I am displeased. Tell him I offer a choice: deliver the Battlestar… or deliver his head” – Cylon Imperious Leader. 

“Blimey, Commander! Ya jus’ gotta tell me ‘ow ya got ‘old o’ th Emperor’s cloak!” Bagel enthused as the two Rebels marched towards the Detention Level. 

“Aww, this is an awesome piece o’ snazzy clobber, innit? Nah worries, kid! Ya see, it wuz like this: we-“

“HALT! Ze pair uv yo!” shouted the armed, female Zandokan sentry as they rounded the next corner. She scowled at the Emperor, aiming her blaster ominously…

“We-heh-hell! This is TOO GOOD to be true… I’m not standin’ for the likes a’ you… Your Slyness… HEY! What are you starin’ at me like THAT for…?! I’m gonna-!” 

“WETT!” cried the young Trooper. “Durn’t yo knur who yo air deeeleenk wiv ‘ere?!”

“Why should I give a fudge…?”

Abruptly, the “Emperor” flung off his helmet. “‘Cos I dragged me firm an’ shapely buns across the Imperial Lightnin’ Field ta getcha, LEX!”

“What-?! BRAD?! But how…?” his Second Officer cried as she flung off her helmet.

“Ya bally well know I’ve always got a plan as ‘ot as me pants…! But what the blazes are ya doin’ in that get-up-?”

“Uff, look who’s blabbin’…”

“Ya’ll never get quali’y screen toime masqueradin’ as a ‘Trooper, lov…” 

“Yeah? Well, I didnt plan to just hang around in a cell actin’ out that tired ol’ damsel-in-distress cliché-!”

“Yeah? Well, I didnt plan ta sit arahn’ on me firm an’ shapely buns jus’ worryin’ abahtcha!” 

“Well, cheers for your concern, Commander…” She turned to the Trooper and gleered: “And I suppose, right here, we have, none other than…?”

The Trooper flung off his helmet. “Bagel Looney, atcha service, ma’am!”

“Ugh! Put that helmet back ON! I risked my neck all for… this?! Really – too short for a Shokk Trooper?”

Aow, bloomin’ ‘eck, don’t you start…!”

It- say! Where’d you get THIS?!” Lexi gasped, fondling the rich sheen of Brad’s new crimson velvet wrap. 

“Who’dya think? ‘E’s th only one ya can get it from…”

“Yes, but HOW DID YOU get hold of th Emperor’s cloak?!”

“Aww, this is an awesome piece o’ snazzy clobber, innit? Nah worries, lov! Ya see, it wuz like this: we-“

“DEMN YO, FERTLITTAIR!! YO TRIED TO FOOL ZEGREATME?!”

“Uh oh…”

The Imperial tannoy crackled and whined up and down the corridor; Brad’s headache throbbed even more, as his arch-nemesis bellowed maniacally.  

“BY ZE PAH UV ZE EMPAH, YO VEEL PAY FER ZEEZ OATREJ!!”

“Gawd…! Lays it on a bit thick, doesn’t he?!” Lexi gasped.

“Uff, tell me abaht it…” Brad groaned. “This gaff reeks o’ faschismus, dunnit?! An’ I’ve ‘ad this pair a’ barmy biochemech barnpots screamin’ in me lug’oles all mornin’… Come on, amigos, let’s gerrahtav’ere!” 

They raced away; six legs encased in biochemech armour – it made such an awful racket… 

“‘ERE! VHEREZEVUKK YO GO?! AY VEEL NUT LET Y’ULL EZKEP!!”

“‘Ow we gonna get aht?!” worried Bagel, as they reached the overcrowded Imperial Flight Deck. “We can’t jus’ nab a new crate under these nerks’ noses-“

“Aww, no worries, Bagel! YES, WE CAN! Wiv me badass cloak an’ flawless Zandokan accent, we’re gonna nab the ‘Ead ‘Ombre’s own crate: the Zentinel.”

“Huh, you sure your buns can get that far weighed down in all that armour?” Lexi frowned sceptically. “Whatever you do, don’t trip over your cloak… Your Highness…”

“Heh, sweet… Ta fer th tip, Officer! Okey dokey, those bozos bet’er bewareRuler O’ Th Frickin’ Universe, comin’ through-“

Just as Brad jumped out to expose himself, Lexi tugged him back and sprinted stealthily across the concourse.

Bagel gawped as – silently, shockingly – she made mincemeat of the ground crew: “Who is she…?! She’s… beautiful…”

“Wakey, frickin’ wakey, oor kid!” Brad swiped the lovestruck lad gently over the head. “Yes… YES! She’s opened the ‘atch! C’mon, Boy Blunder, we’re movin’ in!”

Through volleys of laser-fire, the dynamic duo bungled aboard just as the hatch began to close – at least, the youngest fella made it onto th bridge…

“This bucket o’ bolts is never gonna g- Brad?!” Lexi yelled. “What the blazes are you doing back there?!”

“‘Arf a tick, lov,” he shouted. “I got me cloak stuck in the door…” 

“…I’ve never before met your like. You’re a hero, don’t you see that…? You really prefer death to a kingdom? I’m disappointed. I’d much rather see you on my side, than scattered into… atoms… but, as you wish…” – Emperor Ming The Merciless.  

“PUNCH IT, LEX!” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger (eventually) wailed, and the colossal ion engines of the Imperial Zentinel shuddered and howled into life. Within seconds, the tired – but triumphant – trio found themselves zooming away from the Imperial flagship. And… YES! As expected, whenever Zan Doka’s vessel blasts off, the Imperial Lightning Field is automatically deactivatedHUZZAH!

On-board, Brad flopped into the co-pilot’s seat next to Lexi.

“Whoopee-doo, we did it…! Hey, whaddya think: Bagel in the Company-“

“No, NO!!” the Officer swung round and fumed. “No WAY is that weasel becoming one of us! Goldarn it, Brad! You’re STILL smarting over losing Mitch. I know; heck, we all are… he was… irreplaceable. This reckless little…! He’s NEVER going to make the grade. You saw yourself how reckless he is… Teach him not to endanger the rest of the Militia, if you want to, but NOT on the Calista! Not near us!”

“Uh-huh – not near YOU ya mean…”

“You GOTCHA, Commander…” 

“Received… an’ un’erstood…”

Brad sauntered off to salivate over the gleaming Imperial Coffee-Maker while Bagel fiddled with the Imperial Zuperduper Ztereozoundzyztem, loading some blisteringly dark and grungy drum n’ bass. Brad peered in and a big dopey grin spread across his handsome chops: “Excellente! Those are the same kicks-as-a-mule beats I listened ta when I wuz your age, kid!” 

“Gawd, are you boys gonna be headbanging all the way back to base?”

“Sure, Lex!” Bagel chirped. “Why the ‘eck not?! Wanna dance… babe…?”

“Uff, just a finger-lickin’ minute, here…” Lexi bristled, rising menacingly out of the pilot’s seat. “Just who do you think YOU are calling ‘babe’, Bumfluff…?!” 

Of course, the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger had to wade in and settle the dispute: “Now then! Now now! What’s goin’ on ‘ere, now? Then…? Let’s NOT end this adventure wiv anuvva foight, puh-lease! Be cool!

“Lex! Chill, lov.

“Bagel! Manners, puppy…”

Before settling back for the long journey home, your hero relayed a quick message to the Ztodgeztonker:

“ATTENTION, dipwits!

Uh, situation normal groovy.

If ya still want yer Tosspot-In-Chief, I left ‘im on the Garbage Level; the dinner is in the cat; an’ – ah yeah! – I left a Sonic Disruptor in the [CONNECTION LOST]

Thanks fer ‘avin’ me! LOL 

CHEERS! 

Deke Wad 😉

X

“You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought…”Princess Leia Organa.

BRAD FARTLIGHTER WILL RETURN

 

Norse Mode: The Rough Guide To Thor: Ragnarok

Thank Fudge It’s Thorsday!

This’ll Be SUCH FUN!

“I’m not overly fond of what follows…” – Loki.  

“In a world of portentous blockbusters getting ever darker, it’s a joy to see one throwing on the disco lights.”

And that happened to be just the first review of Thor: Ragnarok – set to be the biggest – and most entertaining – of the solo Thor movies. Here, the Mighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against The Hulk, his former ally. The God of Thunder must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful HelaGoddess of Death – from destroying Asgard. 

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is translated as Twilight of the Gods. The myth tells of the eventual destruction of the universe and mankind, as well as the deaths of several key figures in Norse Mythology, such as the gods Odin, Thor, Loki, Heimdall et al. 

So…

Billed as a fun and funny, colourful and crazy cosmic caper… Thor: Ragnarok just MIGHT kill off a bunch of main characters?!

Hmm, more than any other Marvel movie, it will be interesting to see how this latest MCU instalment plays with our emotions, as well as juggling with our expectations…

“Hela is the Goddess of Death, and I’ve had incredible fun playing her” – Cate Blanchett.

“Oh, I’ve missed this!” rasps Hela, Goddess of Death, strikingly played by Cate Blanchett. 

That could be Brad gleefully uttering that line as it seems ages since we were treated to a blockbuster that turned out to be just an inoffensive, energetic and entertaining slice of escapist fantasy fare. 

As you may have already gathered, Hela is one of my All-Time Fawe Comic Book Characters. She first mesmerised me in a poetic and moving Tales Of Asgard that accompanied The Mighty Thor #314, (Hela – the Goddess of Death – has wrought havoc in Valhalla, twisting it into the icy foreboding image of her own dreaded kingdom: Niffleheim. Only the bold and sagacious intervention of Odin – Ruler of the Gods – saves Asgard).

During this past year alone, numerous classic Thor ishs (specifically featuring Hela) have come my way – the depth of her characterisation is astonishing. How far Thor: Ragnarok will delve into her character, and not rely on just malevolent quips and badass fight sequences, remains my primary concern. Visionary director: Taika Waititi (he prefers to be referred to as a visionary director, or better still: “visionist”!) assures us that, as Marvel’s first female movie villain: “Cate has destroyed the idea of your typical villain.”

In the original comics, Hela is Loki’s daughter. Now, bet you all the groats on Sakaar: the makers have twisted this – she’s become Odin’s (disowned) daughter; this, at least, would help explain how she was able, so dramatically in the first Trailer, to catch – and breakMjolnir. (But hey, Lord of Dipwits here managed to guess only 1.5 out of 14 on the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Soundtrack so proceed with caution!)

Hela is: “not a queen, or a monster, she’s the Goddess of Death!”

And your correspondent is still so looking forward to seeing how she is brought to life on the big screen!

“Thor finds out much about his family and tries to save his planet and the universe, while overcoming the machinations of a grand funny fun figure such as myself” – Jeff Goldblum

“Hey, Sparkles! Here’s the deal. You wanna get back to As-place? Asberg?”

Yes, Jeff Goldblum – verily, for it is he! – speaks this line while portraying (quite flamboyantly, it has to be said) the Grandmaster, an immortal trickster who maintains control over the populace of Sakaar by giving them a constant fix of gladiatorial games. Sakaar looks like an irresistibly fizzy and candy-colourful addition to the MCU – it’s the sort of galactic world one always wanted to see on the big screen.

The Grandmaster is a villain who stormed into my Marvel collection last year via (reprints of) The Avengers. The storyline in which the Grandmaster transports Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to his arena to fight a team of super-villains: Contest Of Champions, provided the core element of this movie.

You’d think that playing a blue-skinned alien would pose no challenge for Jeff as he has already played one way back in Earth Girls Are Easy (1988); but his Hollywood clout has spared him the ignominy of that daily five-hour make-up job; instead, he sports a snazzy lil blue splodge on his chin.

Just seen a hilarious exclusive clip, concerning the “Lord” of Thunder(!) and it so happens to be Classic Comedy Gold(blum)! Actually, as it turns out, Jeff is quite the “Grandmaster” when it comes to improvisation. Apparently, the majority of his lines ended up being randomly improvised, to the full consent of the director. Forever the visionary.

Jeff “Must Go Faster, Must Go Faster!” Goldblum Forever! 

If the rest of his scenes are anything to go by, it sounds like the Power of ROFL will be unleashed!

Let’s hope so! 🙂

“NO TEAM, ONLY HULK!” – HULK.

And, of course, how could we get through this guide without the big, green fella. After all, this cosmic caper was billed as Thor vs. Hulk. 

Not only did this movie present Chris Hemsworth with the opportunity to refresh the character of Thor, it gave Mark Ruffalo the chance to reinvent the portrayal of the Green Goliath. As we saw in the Trailer, Hulk is allowed to speak a lot more. It seems like he will have more lines in this movie than both Avengers movies put together! Here, we get to see the premise of Planet Hulk – the Incredible one is a champion gladiator on a distant alien planet: in this case it’s Sakaar; it’ll be intriguing to learn how he got there…

Let’s not forget that cameo appearance by the Hulk’s fellow Defender: Doctor Strange. How and where Stephen (the ever-immaculate Benedict Cumberbatch, of course!) will appear in this movie is a particularly perplexing matter – actually the thought of dear Bennybatch being underused here is a slightly disorientating one… 

Last, but by oh no means least(!) is that essential Stan Lee cameo. Betcha he’s the Demon Barber of Sakaar – the one who shears the godly Goldilock’s locks! 😉 

For me, what’s so cool about each movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is its boldness in reinvigorating the whole concept of what a comic book movie should look – and feel – like. Kudos to Kevin Feige et al for daring to select the most unexpected talent of visionary director Taika Waititi and allowing him to imbue this unique and harmless 130 mins bundle of fun with the “kind of energy and crazy sort of Flash Gordony-tone that it has.” 

Oh yes, get that energy. 

Chris admitted: “This was one of the best experiences I’ve had on a set. We laughed way too much.”

With unanimous positive feedback from the preliminary round of film reviews, it sounds like we will be laughing way too much too… 

“I tried to start a revolution… but I didn’t print enough pamphlets!” – Korg. 

“Basically what they were saying was like: “We’re a bit tired of, um, you know, this fish-out-of-water thing with Thor on Earth”, you know? So why not go towards the direction of the comic books from the Seventies and Eighties and have Thor on a cosmic adventure, you know?” – Taika Waititi. 

“I’d loved Iron Man, you know, with a passion. I thought that was the most fresh, cool thing, in terms of superhero movies, that I’d seen in a long time,” said Taika Waititi, the (visionary) director of Thor: Ragnarok. 

“I don’t know what they were smoking when they were writing those storylines [in the 70s],” he continued, “but they had some pretty wacky ideas in those old comic books.”

With such critically-acclaimed comedies such as What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Taika has carved his own pretty wacky niche in movies, so his brand of humour seems well suited to the MCU. And if his helmsmanship was not enough, he did his own motion-capture performance as never-before-seen-on-the-big-screen Korg the Kronan. This rock-skinned supporting character, who made his debut in the Planet Hulk comic, was described by Taika as: “hard on the outside, and gentle like a marshmallow smudged together with daffodils on the inside.” Wow, an alien with a New Zealand accent. Now this is something we need to see…  

Taika also proposed the idea of including Led Zep on the soundtrack:

“I put together a sizzle reel… because there was no storyline, or anything… I don’t really know what I’m going for, so I’ll just get shots from movies I think are cool [laughs] – the energy and the colour and sort of what might look cool for this film. And I put Immigrant Song over the top of it, and then played it for them.

“And they were like, “Oh that’s really cool. That’s a cool song. What’s that?”

“I was like, [deadpan] “It’s Immigrant Song, Led Zeppelin – one of the most famous songs of all time.”

“They were like, “Oh cool, never heard it before, very cool.”

“And I was like, “Oh fuck, really worried now.” But from the start we’d always talked about using Immigrant Song in the film, because it just makes perfect sense for that character, doesn’t it?”

Aaah, AH,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!
On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore. Aaah, AH” 

Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song. 

Valkyrie: “This team of yours, it got a name?”

Thor: “Yeah, it’s called the… uh… Revengers!”

“It was all great stuff to do. I had a ball. I only wish that I’d been in it longer” – Sir Anthony Hopkins. 

 

Blade Runner 2049: The Bradscribe Review

Future Perfect? More Sequel Than Sequel…?

“This is not some clunky franchise-farmed cash-in… With all the art and craft of the original, Denis Villeneuve has… gotten down and dirty in the gene pool, marinated in its enzymes, slept in its bed and dreamt its dreams. And then he’s gone to work” – The Sunday Times.  

“I want more life!” demanded Roy Batty, the peculiar, but poetic, doomed replicant from the classic original Blade Runner. 

Well – after all this time – should that masterpiece, one of the greatest – and self-contained – SF classics reviewed here: have been granted an extension of its existence?

Remarkably, these past few weeks, some critics have argued that Blade Runner 2049 has surpassed the original, taking the issues of humanity, genetics and identity to whole new astounding levels. 

Now, considering how this blogger included himself as one of those teeming masses baulking at a “new” Blade Runner movie, it is a revelation – not to mention a relief – to report that Blade Runner 2(049) has turned out to be a surprisingly engrossing visual and emotional experience.

“Despite all the overlaps, this is not a simulacrum of a Ridley Scott film. It is unmistakably a Denis Villeneuve film, inviting us to tumble, tense with anticipation, into his doomy clutches” – The New Yorker.

The plot of Blade Runner 2049 begins with Ryan Gosling, turning in an appropriately vacant and artificial presence as a new Runner: K (as in Philip K. Dick?), paying a visit to the isolated warehouse/abode of Dave Bautista’s Sapper Morton – retired from the rumble-tumble world of WWF to a barren sector of the Californian wasteland to Grow Green Stuff, Man. What the officer’s surveillance equipment discovers onsite leads to the main plot development: K questioning the nature of his own existence – “basically Pinocchio with more eco-pollution” as one reviewer rather facetiously described it.

When we eventually get to see the Main Man/Replicant/? Himself, it’s nice to see Villeneuve honour that traditional sci-fi dystopian trope of the protagonist wandering into somebody else’s gaff without even a knock or a “Yoohoo!”

As tired and drawn as the world he now (barely) inhabits, Deckard cuts a haggard, whiskey-slugging figure, with only a dog and a holographic Elvis to keep him company. Perhaps Ford’s finest performance in years. 

That wasn’t a real dog… was it? 

Shame it wasn’t a sheep – that would’ve been neat. No, seriously, in the novel, Rick Deckard keeps an artificial sheep on his roof, and only takes the job to retire those wayward  Nexus-6 replicants so that he can afford to buy a real domesticated ruminant mammal with a thick woolly coat…  

“The question at Blade Runner 2049’s pulsating heart has no glib answer… With dazzling adroitness, [Villeneuve] has built on Scott’s legacy to create something grander in scope and emotional range” – London Evening Standard. 

What about the Soundtrack? 

There are no exceptional tracks here – nothing to compare to Vangelis’ sumptuous Blade Runner Blues, the sensuality of the Love Theme, the achingly beautiful Memories Of Green, or the sweeping grandeur of Harps Of The Ancient Temples – regrettably, the score is just as equally soulless as its artificial antagonists…

There is another unsettling observation concerning Blade Runner 2049 that has largely gone unmentioned in other reviews. In this post post-feminist “society” women can look forward – ha! – to not much in the way of beneficial or progressive roles. There are some strong female characters – who can forget Sylvia Hoeks’ “Luv”? Robin Wright is enjoying a promising upturn in her career – here she plays K’s superior: Lieutenant Joshi, in an interesting, but underused, performance.

Apparently, Blade Runner 2049 fails the Bechdel Test i.e. can two female characters share the screen and NOT have a conversation about a man? Morover, this movie just falls short of the Bradscribe Test, specifically: are there 3-4 lines cool or snazzy enough to be quoted herein? When you consider how the original movie positively brims with terrific lines and conversations, sill fondly remembered and quoted 35 years later…

The virtual love interest is brought to you by Joi (Ana de Armas), a hypnotic beauty, but then, she would need to be a top-of-the-range model distracting enough to make any man (or woman?) forget that they exist in a murky dystopia beset with biospheric collapse, child labour camps, distracting neon billboards and Jared Leto – blind, bearded and as bonkers as a bat – ruling the roost from his ambient asylum, inflicting poor, unsuspecting souls with his unintelligible pseudobabble. His (mis)casting as Niander Wallace is perhaps my biggest grumble with this otherwise captivating movie.

Tell you what: going for a spin in his spinner, tha last thing Brad (hopefully not looking as old and thoroughly dischuffed as Harrison Ford does here) will want is to be distracted by a 50 foot holographic ballerina pirouetting past the bally windscreen, thank you very much…

“Blade Runner 2049 has been made with impeccable craftsmanship and taste, yet the film is so terrified of disreputability that it renders itself dead from the waist down, unable to derive pleasure even from a theoretically kinky robot three-way” – Slant Magazine.

Will 2049 end up matching – or even surpassing – its predecessor’s revered status in the pantheon of SF greats? 

Well, no. 

Look at its core components: more bleak, more brutal, less memorable and less inspiring – can these really be considered to be superior traits…?

Certainly not. 

Those folks who reckon this movie supersedes the original are merely revelling (somewhat prematurely) in hype. Nevertheless, during all the time we were suppressing the prospect of a sequel, little did we know that such a wondrous filmmaker as Denis Villeneuve could even exist…

“You’ve never seen a miracle,” Sapper Morton mumbles before being wiped off the cast list. Considering how much the audience were fidgeting, yawning and groaning throughout 2049’s 2hrs, 44 mins (unlike the spinners, time doesn’t fly in this hazy, amber-tinted future), it looked like they were being hard-pushed to find anything exceptional in this languid concoction. 

Always keen to watch more sophisticated, less action-stuffed film fare, my patience, however, was awarded with incredible visuals, an extraordinary narrative atmosphere, and the golden opp of seeing – no matter how grumpy he looks these days – the Ford Legend grace the big screen once more…

In answer to the question: “would you recommend it?” it strikes me as being one of those movies absolutely magnificent to watch once, but fails to incite the urge to pay it numerous viewings. Guess one misses that rain-soaked Chinatown and those fire-spewing ziggurats of good ol’ 2019 a tad too much… 

Brad doesn’t know how long it will take to get round to watching Blade Runner 2049 a second time.

Who does…?

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4 out of 5 glittering C-beams, but ooooh, only just…

 

“I was quit when I come in here, Bryant, I’m twice as quit now” – Rick Deckard.

 

Voight-Kampff Test Retaken: Blade Runner: The Bradscribe Rereview

Is This To Be An Empathy Test?

“Memories. You’re talking about memories…” – Rick Deckard.  

“Blade Runner is such an amazing movie. A mesmerising mix of sci-fi, action and film noir, it is quite unlike anything you have seen before…” were my words used to describe this seminal SF masterpiece, back in 1986. That school project required us to produce our own magazine. At last! Something to really engage my interests and talents.

The result: Film File – twenty pages, crammed with reviews and profiles written in different coloured ink – was awarded A+ by my gobsmacked English teacher. Blade Runner had had its TV premiere that year, and my VHS copy was swiftly getting worn out at an exponential rate. Naturally, consumed by Ridley Scott’s scintillating verve and vision – over and over again – when it came to compile this rag, Blade Runner took centre stage.

“Harrison Ford makes a fascinating lead character here,” my write-up continued. “The performances are particularly memorable, but it is the spectacular “visual futurism” created by Syd Mead that is sure to become the template in which all subsequent dystopian thrillers will thrive…”

“I’m impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot them?” – Dr. Eldon Tyrell. 

Even now – with just two years to go before we reach the timeframe created therein – what can Brad write about a movie that holds a reserved place in his All-Time Top 5: honestly, one does not just watch this movie – you experience it…

But then, remember that yours truly is a Professional Wordsmith – it’s my job to find the right words, ma’am. 

What better way to begin than from the beginning: the opening shot of the imposing Tyrell Corp pyramid dominating the cityscape is sumptuous enough, but a seemingly mundane scene involving Holden testing a subject called Leon ends in such an unexpected, dramatic way, my attention was drawn in from that moment – still get goosebumps marvelling at its intricate editing – and the exceptional sights and sounds that unfolded  kept me hooked right up to its melancholy conclusion.

One of the quintessential elements to enhance the classic status of this sophisticated replicant-busting package is the synthtastic score by Vangelis. As the movie has fuelled its fanatical fan-base to ask numerous questions over the years, there is one particular poser that always fascinates my speculative faculties:  

Who – or what – else could have evoked better mood and enhanced the drama? 

Choosing just ONE track from the classic Soundtrack is challenging enough, but this one gets me every time:

 

My very own unique arbiter of good taste: my father, loved the movie as well – ’twas he who had to stay up (extra late) that weekday night in ’86 and record it, editing out the commercials (bless ‘im!)

The “Boy, have you got a treat in store!” look on his face the next morning is one of those priceless moments @ Brad Manor… 

Leon Kowalski (played viciously-cool by Brion James) had more of a profound effect on The Original Brad than on me. He really enjoyed quoting Leon’s lines non-stop:

“Wake up, time to die!” 

“Okay, OKAY, I WILL tidy my room already…” 

“What do you mean, I’m not helping?” – Leon Kowalski. 

And then of course, the main female character became equally iconic.

The fashion sense and hairstyle of eternally-lovely Rachel (Sean Young) added a distinctive 1940s vibe to these “futuristic” proceedings -enhancing that elaborate noir touch in amidst all that neon…

“Have you ever retired a human by mistake?” – Rachel. 

“It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?” – Gaff.  

“Personally, the added unicorn dream sequence looks more incongruous than the original drive-away ending that consisted of outtakes from The Shining! If anything, this unwelcome addition looks like a shoddy outtake from Scott’s 1985 movie: Legend – an even more absurd anomaly…” so argued my write-up prepared for a local newspaper to coincide with the cinematic release of Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut in 1992. The then-Editor didn’t seem all that impressed as my Reviewlike most of my best material – never saw publication.

Thankfully, my opinion towards this sequence has mellowed over time.

“To me, it’s entirely logical,” Ridley Scott explained in a 1982 interview. “Particularly when you are doing a film noir, you might as well go through with that theme, and the central character could in fact be what he is chasing. You could say it is corny or not corny. Something is usually only corny according to execution. It was cut into the picture, and I think it worked wonderfully.”

Although filmed for the original theatrical cut, there again, meddling studio execs advised him to extricate the scene because it complicated the narrative even furtherWithout it, of course, the later appearance of the origami unicorn makes no sense. 

Part of the initial appeal was Ford’s droll narration. Never had a problem with it myself – was unaware that it was an explanatory device reluctantly added later. As a writer, it is understandable now: how the endless revisions and rewrites it had to go through became a source of irritation for the makers.  

Actually, what about that other question: was Ford miscast? 

Many of his fans thought so, and the negative word-of-mouth contributed to Blade Runner‘s surprisingly dismal run during its initial release.

On the other hand, his presence primarily influenced my decision to sit down, watch and have my life changed forever…

“Are you for real?” – Zhora.

 Gaff: “Monsieur, azonnal kövessen engem, bitte! 

Sushi Master: “He say you under arrest, Mister Deckard.” 

Deckard: “Got the wrong guy, pal.” 

Gaff:Lófaszt! Nehogy már! Te vagy a Blade, Blade Runner!” 

Sushi Master: “He say you Blade Runner.”

Deckard:Tell him I’m eating.”

To celebrate its 25th Anniversary, in 2007, Blade Runner: The Final Cut was released. Working abroad where it received no theatrical release, it was just a matter of time before finally seeing what Ridley Scott had originally intended.

Strangely enough, it has taken another ten years before getting round to renting a copy of Blade Runner: The Final Cut! Just last month, in fact, intricate rituals had to be undertaken to prepare me for this superior sensory sensation. Yes, that same tingling feeling throughout is still there…

Future perfect? Perhaps… 

The most perplexing question: “Is Deckard a replicant?” has been argued to almost monotonous degrees among critics and fans alike.

For aeons…

Scott insists that he is; Ford has always denied this aspect of his character. Actually, look at it this way: it’s an aspect best left open and UNanswered; let viewers decide for themselves – very few movies possess the capacity to allow audiences to react in such a way. The point that people are still arguing over this issue 35 years later is a testament to the power and intrigue that Blade Runner has – and continues – to generate.

“We need you, Sebastian. You’re our best and only friend” – Pris.

“Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave” – Roy Batty.

That other oherwhelming question: “Should this classic have a sequel?” has always been answered from this quarter with a stern:

NO, A Thousand Times No. 

When news finally broke confirming the go-ahead of the dreaded Blade Runner 2, it seemed like such an abysmal admit-defeat scenario had unfolded.

However…

In the promising hands of Denis Villeneuve, who lavished the extraordinarily impressive Arrival upon us all last year, prospects suddenly don’t look so dire. Plus, unexpectedly glowing initial Reviews have trickled in. Some critics have even had the nerve to comment how Blade Runner 2049 not only complements the original, but supersedes it in terms of depth and quality. 

Uff, we’ll have to see about THAT…

So, always up for a challenge, your correspondent will give 2049 a go, and report back to you later in the week… 

Let it be said: Villeneuve  will have to go SOME WAY to try and produce anything to equal the original’s Final Act: still cited by many as the Greatest Scene in SF Cinema History – it is certainly one of the leading contenders. 

Honestly, how could we finish This Post without it? 

Tears in rain? Tears on my keyboard, more like.

Every time…

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“Reaction time is a factor in this so please pay attention. Answer as quickly as you can.”

 

The Merchant Of Menace: Rebel Without A Code Clearance

Twin Suns, Ray Guns And Puerile Puns About Brad’s Buns…

 

This is Episode II in the Firm And Shapely Trilogy you can find Episode I ‘ere:

“What chance do we have? The question is “what choice.” Run, hide, plead for mercy, scatter your forces. You give way to an enemy this evil with this much power and you condemn the galaxy to an eternity of submission. The time to fight is now!” – Jyn Erso.  

 

Well, that escalated quickly!

Despite fighting off Tenko Tash’vaa’s monologues as well as his goons,

Brad and Lexi remain holed up inside the villain’s headquarters on Wotsit IV in the Midlanoware System. 

Time is running out, and there is little hope of ever finding that reckless young spy: Bagel Looney…

But now, across the street, out of the clouds with a deafening drone

descends the most feared and infamous cruiser in the entire Imperial fleet: 

the Zoulzukker!

Kriegzlide Killzquad have arrived… 

 

“Getcha lousy biochemech mitts offa me!” Lexi protested as two giant Killzquad gooms seized her and began dragging her out.

Another two grappled with her companion.

“NAH!! Leave ‘er alone!” yelled the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger. “She’s gonna beat the stuffin’ outta yas!” 

“Hush urp, Urfmairn!” grumbled Zoltan Zovran – the Kriegzlide psychonaut too deranged even for a regular Shokk Trooper division to manage. The ruffian suddenly raised his Particle Accelerator Lance and jabbed it into the back of the Battleforce Commander’s head.

The squad, and their hostages, emerged onto the hot, crowded street. As half of those milling about – or just hanging around, wasting their Imperial time – consisted of the occupying Zandokan garrison, so Zubizmaar’s lunatics could avoid the hassle of gawping bystanders for a change.

As delirium seeped over him, Brad’s groggy eyes could just about discern a lone, armed Shokk Trooper emerge from the bustling throng and approach the group. With some urgency.

“A chenge uv ordairs, yo lot!” it barked. “Ze Emprah hez infairmed ze Wotzeet Proveencial Offizer zat zeez preeznair be brurt to ze Zentient Towair, een ze Men Zquare, fer ferzair eentairrogation!” 

And with that, he forcefully snatched the Earthling. The Killzquad stared uneasily among themselves.

Commander Zmutti Zubizmaar looked the most disbelieving. 

“Hmm… Zoundz laike a lurda covfefe to me, Troopair…” he snarked. “Ve vere zent ‘ere pairzonally by ze Emprah! OUR uddairz come STRET frurm ZAN DOKA IZZELF! Shur me YER uddairz, Troopair!”

“Directeev: Zero-seex-zero-ett – yo ken doneludd eet frum ze men Empeerial Moaneetor…” 

As they started to depart, Zubizmaar signalled them to halt: “Troopair! Vot eez yer urpairateenk numbair?”

“ZX2187…” 

He raised his blaster at them as they trudged away, crying out: “Two-wun-ett-zeven! Ze Urfzcurm ztayz weev uz! BREENK HEEM BECK ur-” 

“Ur whut?!” ZX2187 barked, not stopping, not looking back… “Yo vood shoot en Empeerial Troopair een ze beck…?!”

“‘Twood NUT be ze firzt tem, fool… Geev our preeznair beck, KNOW!” 

“C-come urn, Earthman, murve!” the Trooper muttered nervously as he nudged your hero in the back.

As this unlikely pair wandered off down the street, the Killzquad watched in bewilderment. 

“Vell, ZEEZ wuz NUT een ze zcripp…” Commander Zmutti Zubizmaar stood akimbo, shaking his repulsive head: “Yo ‘ombrez! Tek ze gell ta ze sheep – Zoreen! Follair zem! Ve durn’t dare lewz NEIZAIR uv zeez deepweetz!”  

Zoreen Zeegazeeg – a ruthless spy/assassin in his own right – stepped forth.

“‘Tweel be may genueen pleazure, zah!” 

And before anyone could cue some suitably dramatic music, he had vanished into the crowd…

Strangely, Trooper ZX2187 looked anxious, glancing every which way before nudging Brad into a narrow alley.

Your hero frowned in confusion: “…’Ere, ‘ang abaht… yer goin’ the wrong way…” 

“No, we’re not! In ‘ere, quick!”

At that moment, they barged into an empty hovel halfway down one side. Brad spun round to watch the Trooper remove his helmet and reveal not a green-skinned Imperial grunt, but:  

“Bless me blueberry muffins! BAGEL!”

“Shoosh, Commander! Ya wanna let everybody know where we are…?!”

“The longer we’re here, the less luck we’re gonna have…” – Han Solo.

“Too short for a Shokk Trooper?” Brad Fartlighter muttered cynically, massaging his sore bonce.

“Huh? Shucks, man, done pret’y well up until now…”

“‘Ave ya really, kid? Jeez, wanna know the reason why I didn’ pounce on ya jus’ now? Ya said: “Earthman,” instead o’ “Urfmairn”…!”

“Did I…?! Fudge… ‘Sfunny, there may ‘ave been some slip-ups earlier; it’s gettin’ well dodgy – I reckon some o’ the Shokk Troopers’ve kinda sussed me aht… Ya gotta ship? I’m itchin’ ta get offa this rock!” 

“Not so fast, Lil Itch – we ain’t goin’ nowhere jus’ yet! Those Kriegzlide goons ‘ave snatched me Second Officer – ya’d bet’er polish yer accent ‘cos we’re gonna break inta the Zoulzukker an’ get ‘er th blazes aht before they can get ta the muvvaship!”

“‘Er?! Yer Second Officer’s a woman?!”

“Whoa, a gold star fer keepin’ oop, Bright Eyes! She came all this way ta getcha back – an’ now both of us ‘ave ta get ‘er back!”

“You came ‘ere ta get me an’ all?”

“Nah, I came ta keep me eye on ‘er-“

“Well, you’re doin’ a fine an’ dandy job o’ THAT!” 

“An’ whose fault wuz that then, fella?! Cos o’ you, dipwit, I’m further from Lexi than I’d like! I’m gonna need me own Shokk Trooper’s togs ta pull this ruse orf – we’ll ‘ave ta coax one of ’em in ‘ere…!”

“Easy peasy, Commander be back in a jiffy…”

“BAGEL…?!”

And with that, the reckless Rebel wandered off up to the main street; just two minutes later, in burst a suitably perplexed Shokk Trooper. 

Brad waved and chirped: “‘Iya, amigo! ‘Ow ya doin’? Got any Doritos on ya…?”

The next minute, Bagel wandered in to see Brad standing over the fallen felon, extracting its armour. 

“I shudder ta think, kid: what did ya say ta this nerk?”

“Simple: ‘If ya wanna catch the Wanted cake-lovin’ Brad Fartlightercome wi’ me’…!”

“You…!” Brad gasped, then chortled: “You’re a crafty lil nerk, Bagel, I’ll givya tha’… sheesh!” 

Suddenly, he grabbed said crafty lil nerk by the collar, and retorted: “JEEZ, kid! Ya’ve REALLY dropped me buns in the fire NOW! Outta ORL’A goons ya coulda brought in ‘ere, ya HADTA pick aht ol’ Zeeg? One of the most demented bunnies I’ve EVAH run inta! DAHN’T need this – ya KNOW I’ve ALREADY got an ‘eadache…”

“SOZ, Commander, but- but ‘ow wuz I supposed ta know…?!”

The Commander loosened his grip, and replied gently: “Yeah… ‘ow… were ya supposed ta know… Too late, we’re in deep, now – ‘elp me wiv these boots, will ya? (This is the part abaht bein’ an ‘ero I detest the most: takin’ other fellas’ clobber orf). C’mon, kid, we’ve got an appointment wiv da Killzquad ta keep!”

While Brad nonchalantly scanned up and down the street, counting Imperial sentries, working out their next plan of action, Bagel stared in such a befuddled state at the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger.

“Are we really doing this?!” whispered Bagel.

“We’re gonna do this!” whispered Brad. 

“Congratulations. You are being rescued. Please do not resist” – K-2SO. 

“How’d ya end up ‘ere, Bagel?!”

“Bah! Got shot dahn by a Zkorpion – thought it best ta infiltrate the Shokk ranks – tha’s ‘ow I’ve managed ta stay undetected fer so long-“

“Too darn roight ya were undetected, ya dozy donut! We all thought we’d lost ya altagevvah…!”

“Soz, Commanderme transmit-piece got busted when I bailed outta me crate. An’ I aven’t ‘ad the opp ta fangle a way ta send any signal back ta the Resistance. Reckoned I oughtta… take on the Empire all by meself-“

“An’ worsen the situation fer th rest ovuz?! If – IF – I can getcha back ta base in one piece, the General’s probly gonna rip ya ta shreds ‘imself anyway!” 

“What, Rajendra…?! ‘E wouldn’t! Get ‘is first name: “Ajaan”: tha’s the Yanduri word for ‘teacher.’ From what I’ve ‘eard, ‘e’s a mild-mannered… placid fella… … in’e…?”

Brad clasped the lad’s shoulder and jigged it a lil.

“Lissen oop: so ya got away wivvit… but sheesh, man! That wuz more reckless than anythin’ I got upta when I wuz yer age! An’ tha’s sayin’ some’t…! Be cool, Bagel – when we get back… when I meet Raj, I’ll tell ‘im tha’-“

“You DAHN’T know ‘im eivver?! What chance do I ‘ave?!”

“Shoosh, Bagel. COOLIO. Nah mat’er ‘ow it turns aht, I’ll  stick up fer ya. Trust me…”

“Cheers, Commander… but ‘ow the blazes are we gonna bust inta the Kriegzlide crate an’ get yer Officer back, Mr. ‘Ligh’er, if ya please? An’… an’ what if they take off before we can reach ’em?!” 

“Na worries, kid! That Zkorpion I nabbed in order ta get ‘ere – wipe me cake crumbs offa the passenger seat an’ we’ll be jus’ fine an’ dandy.” 

“Yeah, but…! But wha’ abaht the Clearance Code?! ‘Ow can we gain our own access to the muvvaship wivaht one?! ‘Ow – where – are we gonna get THAT?!”

“Uff, cobblers ta the Code, kid! Seems like the only reason why these Imperial dipwits ‘ave rules is so that Brad can break ’em… We’ll find a way – I always do… …”

“Well, somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage, fly-boy!” – Princess Leia Organa.

“…Ya ougtta know the most important thing I’ve picked up while ‘angin’ aht dahn ‘ere – but I dunno ‘ow ta break it to ya,” Bagel huffed indignantly as they marched back into the main street, their Imperial togs gleaming in the intense rays of the twin suns. “…The Empire ‘ave upgraded their biochemech armour, so ‘elp us. Notice ‘ow these new bods wear slightly darker suits… ligh’er, but thicker… Pret’y soon, blasters are gonna ‘ave little to NAH effect on ’em…”

“Blazes…” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger muttered, dreading how all this cosmic gubbins was escalating. “…An’ it’s only Imperial blasters that we can find ta arm the Resistance. Tha’s some’t else we’ll ‘ave ta deal wiv- Gah, dash it all!”

The vicinity of the Zoulzukker positively crawled with Shokk Troopers as they peered round the cornerBagel threw his hands in the air with despair:

“Whoa! We’re in a tight spot-“

“Oh really? You’re tight?! Shame ol’ Zeegazeeg wuz a wimpy sprat ‘is armour ain’ ‘arf pressin’ me buns! An’- OOF! Me pecs are posi’ively ‘EAVIN’ in this blasted breastplate!”

“Aow, quit whinin’, Commander. It- say! Guess that physique’s why the girls back at base keep talkin’ abou’cha…”

“Do they? Groovy…”

“Everybod’ don’ call ya a groovy galactic ‘ero fer nuthin’, eh…? D’ya work aht?”

“Nah. No need, kid. Got bit’en by a radioactive chipmunk…”

“Did ya…?!”

“Course, bleedin’ o’ course I work aht! Whatcha think?! Fer goodness sake, flamin’ Nora… Don’t wanna be mistaken fer a donut like Zeeg in these dark times-“

“Yeah yeah…” the younger fella drawled sarcastically.

Brad leaned across and rapped his knuckles against Bagel’s helmet: “No, seriously: be STRONG: that means MENTAL, as well as physical, fella! So, if ya got some’t inside there, WORK IT! Blimey, if ya’d used yer wits before an’ ‘ADN’T carried aht that dumbass raid on the Ztodgeztonker, we WOULDN’T be in this mess NOW…!” 

Suddenly, a typically rasping Zandokan voice from across the street blared out:

“ZHERE ZEY AIR! Shoot ze zhirt wun, but ze ‘unky wun eez NUT to be ‘armed!”

Shokk Troopers dashed in from all sides, blasters blazing.

“‘Ere, tha’s bang OUT’A order! Frickin’ charmin’, THAT is!” the short one protested, blasting back, but the hunky one grabbed his reckless companion and dragged him away from the action. 

“Quit whinin’, Bagel! Ya see… ya SEE?! These tosspots are seriously dischuffed at what YOU did…”

After a few frantic yards of scarpering as fast as their biochemech-clad legs could carry them, the spy scowled at your hero: “‘Ere… ‘old on! I wuz only copyin’ what YOU did… Commander‘Ow is it tha’ YOU get ac’olades, an’ I just get grief?!” 

“‘Cos I’m a PERFESSIONAL idiot! Cut the chat’er, kid – we got’a split!” 

And these blast points, too accurate for Sand People. Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise…” – Ben Kenobi.

“AHA! Ze Burrito end Bagel!” Zoltan Zovran cried as he crept up behind the two leads, wielding THAT particularly nasty Particle Accelerator Lance. “Ze two murzt repreehenzible Oomanz in ze galaxy een may clutchez!” 

“Now now, nerk!” Brad waved a steady hand at the Kriegzlide madman, and protested: “Ya already bopped me over th ‘ead wiv that bloomin’ thing – ta do it twice would be careless…”

“Votzamattair, Urfmairn, expect mercy…? Kriegzlide Killzquad durn’t knur ze meaning uv ze verd…  heh heh heh!” he snarled, aiming his weapon right at Brad.

“‘Old on jus’ a finger-lickin’ minute, ‘ere! I’m the ‘ero – ya can’t bamp me orf, not like that!” 

“Uv courze…! Egen, Bred, yo air ebzolutely raight. Ze Emprah weejez to zee yo…”

Zoltan gradually swung the weapon at Bagel

“‘EE eez ze eccurzed ZPY! ‘Ee’ll do!”

Out of a piercingly-loud, deadly flash, Bagel yelped and fell limp into the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger’s arms.

“Ah, Jeez…! Stay wiv me, kid… …”

As your forlorn hero collapsed to the ground, clutching the lad in his trembling arms, a brood of Zandokan guards ran over to encircle him. Without warning, they proceeded to pummel the poor dude viciously with their lances and rifles.

“WETT! DOLTZ! Zat eez ze gret Zan Doka’z prize! ‘E muzt NUT – Ay reppit: NUT – be ‘armed! BECK URF!”  

Commander Zmutti Zubizmaar strode nonchalantly in, and – seeing Zoltan posing triumphantly, and the prize captive hunched dejectedly on the ground – couldn’t resist wandering over to have a quick gloat. He squatted, and squeezed the crestfallen Earthman’s throat.

“Heh heh,  wunce murr, yo aire BEATEN, “galacteec heeeruh”! Aah… Bred, Bred, Bred….”

Having stared too long at the still-crackling blast point on the young Rebel’s right pec, the Cakecharmer looked up with teary eyes, shaking the Kriegzlide Commander’s hand away, and defiantly muttered:

“I’m the one in da middle, ya drunken ‘obo!” 

“HA…! Zteel curzed wiv zat eenfairnal “Oomarn zpeeret.” Zad…” 

“Whut aboat zeez wun…?” Zoltan chirped, prodding Bagel’s still body with his boot.

“Nur, leaf eet – zeez planet payz foolz ta remurve feelth frurm ze ztreetz… Ve hef ze wun ve need – yez… Bred, ve hef yo exactly vhere yo jhood be: URN YER KNEEEZ! Broken, helplezz, hopelezz…  UZELEZZ…! Bred ta ze burne – NUR MURR! Vot duzzeet feeeel laike to be a LEWZAH, tweetfez…?”

“They say it’s difficult at first, but I’m sure a big, Imperial jackass like you will soon get the ‘ang of it-“

“Uff…” the Commander grumbled, and shot back onto his feet. “Yo ‘ombrez! Poot zeez comedien aburd ze Zoulzukker… 

“Ve VEEL tek heem ZTRET TA ZE EMPRAH KNOW!!… …” 

 

Luke Skywalker: “I’m endangering the mission, I shouldn’t have come…”

 

“Ymir’s Frosty Beard!”: The Weird And Wonderful Realms Of Bronze Age Comics

Because You Demanded It! Brad Gets Lost! But In Which Realm…?

Man-Wolf: “Good Lord! We were on a flying mountain!”

Garth Of Mournhelm: “Calling on yourself already, Stargod? Our world functions on a higher spatio-temporal plane than your own. More things are possible here than you have ever dreamed!” 

Welcome back, True Believers!

Oh, don’t mind the mess.

On this stormy night, your tour guide here is busy supervising his rabble of minions to sort out the multifarious All-Colour delights that have accumulated over this past year. So, what theme for this particular Bronze Age Bonanza? 

During these (dark) times, when most of us would just like to escape, plunging into pulsating pages of fantasy seem the most reassuring answer – why not escape with Brad? Another scintillating variety show has been assembled; mocha and cake await.

Fasten your seatbelts – the awesomeness has been set in an upright position.  

Now, let’s head along the Rainbow Bridge to my all-time fave Otherworldly destination: 

 

Asgard! And – hey! – Olympia too?!

“Thou wouldst hurl skyfire at him who did direct the forging of his son’s own storming-bringing hammer?! Verily, such effrontery doth cry out unto the heavens for punishment!” – Odin All-Father.  

Yes, yes, YES! 

After several months of tracking other cosmic goodies elsewhere, my attention inevitably falls back to the God Of Thunder –

with that legendary run by Big John Buscema especially topping mt shopping list. 

The Mighty Thor is one of my most beloved series; thus, now, more than ever, my scanners have been reprogrammed to seek out anything and everything Asgardian, especially as Thor: Ragnarok-fever gathers apace.

In The Mighty Thor #289 (November 1979) “Look Homeward, Asgardian!” – brought to us by the ever-reliable pen of Roy Thomas, and the ever-exquisite pencils of Keith Pollard – Thor, after seeing his father kneeling before the Celestials, angrily hurls himself at the One Above All. Instead of striking him, he is instantly transported into Olympia. Zuras tells Thor that he has 24 hours to find another solution to the Celestials predicament, before the Uni-Mind will attack. Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Karnilla weeps over the body of Balder, then speaks to Frigga about her not being Thor’s real mother.

Jeez! This is a cosmic soap opera! 

Unlike the sentimental tosh we are bombarded with on the telly, this is all engrossing reading. Its one of those ishs where you are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting an awesome page to accompany my rambunctious ruminations, but little can compare to the sheer majesty of Odin riding on his eight-hooved steed: Sleipnir to the realm of Olympus: 

And then we move onto:

 

Lemuria.

“I’ve had enough! There is still time before the wizard Athmar Phong returns at dawn… I will not be in his power!” – Thongor.

From Thor to Thongor! 

Sadly, this is the only clever line you will find in this section.

It has been an absolute joy catching up with Man-Wolf – one of the more intriguing characters to initially spark this craving for classic Bronze Age comics. Unfortunatey, the series carrying his adventures: Creatures On The Loose was cancelled, with two episodes of the Star-God epic failing to see the light of day.

Having searched for earlier ishs: #s 11-17 – containing stories featuring Gullivar Jones (a precursor of John Carter Of Mars), we had to make do with a dose of sword-and-sorcery – #23 (May 1973) in the series: Thongor: Warrior of Lost Lemuria is based on “Thieves Of Zangabal” by Lin Carter. Th cover of “Where Broods The Demon!” features the promising blurb: sword-and-sorcery as only magnificent Marvel can present  it!”

At one point during my teens, sword-and-sopcery was all one craved, but even back then – “By Gorm’s Beard!” – trying to get into this particular ish would still have posed such an unwanted challenge. No point in adding the names of the writer and artist – you will not have heard of them. The art is below-average even by Marvel’s lofty standards, and trying to find suitable speech bubbles to quote proved to be an unnecessary chore. At one point, that green monstrosity (depicted on the cover) blurts:

“I weary of this, fleshthing! I have grown bored!”

Jeez, took the words right outta my mouth, Crocface…

Brad would much rather get stuck in: 

The Shadow Realm!

…than have to sit through another ish in this series.

Wonder Man: “I’m sorry, Mr Bertolini. It’s just that being Wonder Man, it’s hard for me to pretend those cannonballs are hurting me when I can hardly feel them.”

Mr Bertolini: “True, Signore Wonder Man, but I hired you because I thought you could a-act. And-a these cannonballs don’t grow on grapevines, neither! That was the seventh take! I‘m-a disgusted. Let’s-a break for lunch…” 

“At dawn today, our surveillamce planes detected what was apparently a… city materializing in the middle of the Mediterranean. We were sent to investigate when…

“…a tidal wave of hugh proportions swelled up and carried us several miles to this island.”

– so explains the confused captain of a US aircrafl carrier who encounters an otherworldly city: the Shadow Realm, reappearing in the ocean two millennia after it mysteriously vanished. 

In 1981, this series consisted of critically-panned fillers, However, during this period, Genial Gene “The Dean” Colan contributed his legendary art. Glad to say that the monumental ish: #211 – in which “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” were trimmed from eight members down to a combo of six – happened to be my very first Avengers mag!

Twenty years later, it is equally thrilling to have tracked down #207 (May 1981); “Beyond A Shadow…” is an astounding tale of science-fantasy. 

Fortunately, already in Italy is my comedic-double-act-of-the-moment: Wonder-Man (making a spaghetti western) and The Beast (working on his tan and letting the local signorinas stroke his blue fur and what-not). Pretty soon, all the Avengers are on the scene. In a touching interlude (spread out across four wonderful pages) Shadow-Lord tells Wonder-Man’s girlfriend that he is a member of an ancient tribe who “gradually learned to control certain forces of nature.” Feared and shunned by others, they – and their powers – withdrew into the obscurity of history.

But!

Sheesh, there’s always one, isn’t there?!

“Over the aeons, we became aware of a seemingly immortal force of awesome destruction – one who could potentially plunge mankind into an irreversible slide to its doom.”  

Such a tragic end: the Avengers are too late to realise that Shadow-Lord was just a Guardian; the real threat (the one he gave up mortalityand his love – to thwart) comes in the form of The Berserker: that immortal force who – having already conquered the world once in the guise of an ancient Roman emperor – no doubt proves his formidable villainry in the much-sought-after #208! 

All this, AND the Beast bedecked in Hawaiian shirt and shades:

“Oh my stars and garters!”

 

And then it goes all mystic as we are swept into:

The Unreal Realm Inside The Orb Of Agamotto(!)

“The slightest touch of my realm dispels life within you! The sizeable rock which smote the other spirit dispatched it almost instantly, as you saw! Even now, the submicroscopic particles always present in space cut through you…” – Death. 

“Inside was a world of unreality, where a prattling caterpillar told me I had ventured too near illusion in my escape from death, dooming me to this shadowy realm!” 

One of the undeniable pleasures to be gained from this hunt for yesteryears’ awesomeness is catching up with Doctor Strange.

Last year – to prepare myself for Bennybatch’s dip into the MCU – getting acquainted with the Master Of Th Mystic Arts seemed like the obvious – and somewhat tantalising – treat.

But!

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

Talk about getting MORE than you bargained for! Steve Englehart’s scripts are a revelation, and – yes! – the realism evoked by Gene “The Dean” Colan’s pencils is just as magical as anything The Master Of Mystic Arts can conjure.

In this study of the transdimensional realms, Ish #4: “Where Bound’ries… Decay” (October 1974) is brought to us by the equally brilliant artwork of Frank Brunner. Here, by using the necromancy of the Orb of Agamotto to help heal wounds inflicted by Silver Dagger, “suddenly, grotesque tentacles shot forth from the Orb, entangling me, drawing me… inside!”  

Blimey! Never a dull moment with Stephen!

In my restless pursuit of Bronze Age comics, who knew that a descent into the horrific Realm Of Death could make for such an engrossing read?

It is amazing how swiftly Doctor Strange has become one of my fave characters in all o’ Marveldom, and – Oshtur be praised! – this ish is a veritable classic, and would grace anybody’s collection (if you can lay your hands on it). 

Galador! And Wraithworld (in the Dark Nebula)

“…For Galactus has said before, and shall say again, that Galactus is supreme unto himself! Galactus is Galactus! That is all any lesser being ever need know!” – (guess who? 😉 ) Galactus

Regular Followers will know the squidgy and sentimental soft spot that Brad holds for ROM: Th Greatest of the Spaceknights, celebrated in this Post. 

The Marvel Milestone recognised as #25 witnessed ROM’s dramatic return to his beloved homeworld. AND is one of the single most amazing ishs to ever pass through these grubby mitts.

But nothing prepared this blogger for what would transpire in #26 – GALACTUS – YES! GALACTUS, the gargantuan World-Devourer – through his despicable herald: Terrax The Tamer, announces that Galador itself has whetted his dreaded appetite! Thus, the Spaceknights assemble to enact one of the Bronze Age’s most epic battles.

Yet it is the extraordinarily impressive #27 (February 1982) that tickles MY taste buds here. Delivered by the consistently-impressive dynamic duo of Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema: “Turnabout is Fair Play!” witnesses th deal that ROM has made: taking the Devourer of Worlds to the Dark Nebula, and thus rid the Spaceknights of the homeworld of their sworn enemy: the Dire Wraiths. 

But!

Wraithworld is unlike any planet Galactus has ever had to deal with before! 

“Rivers of molten metal scar the surface… Ash as black as night sweeps like a pestilence through the darkling sky!” he complains bitterly.

Moreover, vicious acid rain not only eats away at Galador-forged plandanium armour, but the relentless torrents corrode the mighty Galactus himself and melts his Energy Convertor into elemental slag! Having turned his impatient attention to the Black Sun, Galactus is then set upon by a flock of giant Deathwings: “sorcerous conjurations of a galaxy where all physical laws are ruled by magic most black!”

Not surprisingly, this ish holds a reserved place in my collection.

As one elated Spaceknight herein cries out: “Gods of Golden Galador, yes! YES!”  

Starshine: “Will he consume the Black Sun… or be consumed by it?”

Javelin: “Or will both perish in the attempt?”

ROM: “We dare not remain on Wraithworld to find out, Javelin! Not even our cyborg armour would survive the ensuing cataclysm!”

 

Last BUT BY NO MEANS LEAST(!) comes one of those pinnacles of Bronze Age excellence: 

The Other Realm (And Earth’s Moon)

“Yes! Leap at me, carrion! Come be kissed by my shining hand!” – Duna. 

Aha! THIS is more like it!

Marvel Premiere Featuring Man-Wolf #45 offers a more satisfying dash of sword-and-sorcery than that Thongor could ever dare to dream… 

In fact, this is the first-part-of-two that should have appeared in Creatures On The Loose. It is really gratifying to see David Kraft and George Perez re-unite to conclude this classic cosmic ceper from beyond the stars – previous episodes were reviewed here:

The concluding instalment (in Marvel Premiere Featuring Man-Wolf #46) is equally awesome. 

Just seeing Wolfie and his otherdimensional buddies on (flying) horseback jousting in mid-air with the cadaverous horde of Arisen Tyrk is perfect to while away any rainy day. This sums up – in the most groovy manner possible – what Bronze Age comics could deliver at the height of their creative powers.

Mesmerizingly illustrated, this ish not only provides a swell escape from my daily toils and troubles, but inspires me to conjure up my own weird and wonderful worlds. 

On that positive note, here ends this Bronze Age Bonanza!

Keep it cosmic!

“You crummy skeletons think you can pick us off that easily? Eat my fire, bonebags!” – Gorjoon.