“In Reflection Of How It All Came To Be”: The Saga Of J’Son, Meredith And Peter

They Talked, And Came To Know Each Other,

They Touched, And Came To Love Each Other…

“After all, he is Star-Lord… my finest creation… my one true moment of glory… how it has all led up to this moment…?” – The Master Of The Sun. 

“Our destinies, mine and Star-Lord’s, were first glimpsed when a craft alien to the planet Earth crashed in the Colorado mountains…

“Meredith Quill was the sole witness…”

Quite unlike anything heretofore seen in Marvel Comics, this “saga” is narrated by a benign and bearded humanoid known simply as The Master Of The Sun.

Ever since the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie enriched our lives in 2014, this has been The Essential Star-Lord comic to acquire! Unfortunately, it has become such an obscure ish; moreover, it has taken AEONS just to discover the title and the date of said rarity. And establishing the identities of its co-auteurs of awesomeness was something else… Curse your shorts, boy! Why, oh why, couldn’t you have remembered these details?! Better still, just KEPT the comic… 

Three years ago, most critics believed that Marvel Studios had produced their first turkey – taking such a huge risk, introducing characters that NOBODY had ever heard of before. Ha! Yet again, you see, they had underestimated Brad. To me, there seemed to be something very familiar about that name: “Star-Lord”…

Confusingly, in 1978, a (short-lived) weekly science fiction comic called Star-Lord was published in the UK, but it had absolutely no connection to Peter Quill. No, not that – pretty certain that the cosmic hero to grab my attention was indeed Peter the halfbreed. After an epic marathon of deduction, the ish in question just happens to be Marvel Spotlight #6 (May 1980). With a script by Doug Moench, and art by Tom Sutton: “The Saga Of Star-Lord falls well within my initial comic collecting spree.

In this yearlong BA quest, this proved to be one of my most elusive targets…

Instead, Future Tense – another science fiction weekly from Marvel UK – had to suffice; the Saga had been reprinted through the first four ishs (all appearing during November 1980). Incidentally, the front cover of the much-coveted debut ish features that now-classic portrait of Nick Fury In Space (by Jim Steranko) – but named here as Star-Lord! It has taken until just last month(!) to finally track down this particular monumental mag. (The original cover for Marvel Spotlight #6 was reproduced as the cover of Future Tense #4).

Here, on the classic page 3, savour the romance of how an Earthwoman named Meredith Quill found – and fell in love with – a man from beyond the stars. 

Ah, bless the Bronze Age!

Surely, there is nothing in today’s Marvel Comics that can compare with that achingly beautiful fourth panel…? 

“Whoever this is, wherever he’s from, I can’t just stand aside and let him die!” – Meredith Quill.

“Nine months later, a male child was born to her. She named him Peter Jason Quill and one night soon after his birth, for a reason she could not explain… 

“She took him outside and held him up to the stars.”

‘Tis unfortunate how J’son has “disappeared without trace,” relegated to further obscurity in the annals of Marvel history – and has now suffered the ignominy of exclusion from the movies. The impact of this misstep is lessened somewhat when you take into account that he appears in only five panelstwo of which he is unconscious! Following in the tradition of Marvel’s innovative series: What If?: supposing he had fought that space war victoriously, would J’son have returned to Earth…?  

Disgruntled at the realisation that he doesn’t have a father like the other schoolkids – a bitterness alluded to briefly onscreen during Vol. 2, at least – not surprisingly, Peter becomes a loner, refusing to play shortstop with the other kids; there he is, reading a Weird Science comic all by his lonesome…

Going for “long solitary walks”anticipating, perhaps, the return of his father – one day, amid dense woodland, the boy is: “…visited by a celestial light… by a miracle from the beyond.” Surely, unmistakably, this spaceship can only belong to ONE very special person… 

“At once terrified and ecstatic,” he runs home to tell Mom…

 

And take a look at that dynamic page 26 (the pen-penultimate page of this ish, below).

That first panel showing an irate trio of Ariguans looks oddly familiar; a feint memory of this scene may very well have lodged in my frenetic infant mind – “zheor,” indeed!

Also, get that middle panel: that should have been etched onto my brain long ago – such an ultracool pose by the adult Peter in his full Star-Lord clobber (but note how he is strangely without his trademark helmet throughout this ish).

Aha, and that killa line!

“I don’t think anything, “Ship.” I know what it is and who’s inside it. Don’t ask me how, but I know. The occupant of that craft is in danger. He’s also the closest thing to a father I’ve ever known…” – Star-Lord.  

“I have done both good and wrong. One has led to the other. I was entrusted with the ultimate secrets of science… A science so advanced it approaches sorcery. 

“I chose my path and I do not regret the way, though I do repent it.”

And so, The Master Of The Sun must prepare to relinquish his human form, having failed to fulfil the higher purpose expected of him. Yet he could take comfort in his sole achievement: turning a halfbreed Earthboy into the Star-Lord. 

As is the case with most classic comics: some really jaw-dropping details hit you on the last page. This one startled me:

“Know that you were to be only the first of an entire legion of Star-Lords…

to ensure peace and seek justice throughout the vast cosmos.”

Thus, the story concludes with Peter honouring the memory of the being who was The Master Of The Sun: by obeying his will “to accomplish good works.” “Ship” blasts off into space, sending the Star-Lord to seek his destiny among the stars…  

Ironically, this used to be the sort of awesome ish that made me speculate what it would be like if made into a movie… Now, my wishes go… in the opposite direction. For all the intricate complexities that modern sfx can offer nowadays, the best “blockbusters” play in our minds…

Perhaps we were all mesmerised by a CG-regenerated Kurt Russell but, ultimately, it is still a tad unsettling to consider how this… this non-J’son individual steals the show. No matter how enjoyable he made both Guardians movies – yes! What we really needed was a space opera starring a groovy fella wielding a Walkman!how…?

How can James Gunn justify fiddling around with a back-story like this?

How can a completely different Marvel character be presented in J’son’s stead?!

Are such revisionary tactics acceptable…?! 

Approaching halfway through this year and does Mr. Gunn respond to ANY of my e-mails?!

Does he fairy cakes…

Theoretically, one would be… quite flattered if another writer attempted to create their own Fartlighter Bradventure. 

Yeah-es, buh-ut…

Kill off any member of Brad Company via something as wretched as a brain tumour… uff, that’d be REALLY PUSHIN’ it, fella… 

Honestly, on some occasions, my viewing of the first film has begun by skipping to the point where distraught Peter is whisked off the hospital grounds in Yondu’s ship…

Not only is the opening scene JUST WRONG, but tonally too bleak to connect concisely with the otherwise frivolous nature of what follows…

And 10CC’s I’m Not In Love is my FAVE track on Awesome Mixtape Vol 1 – goldarn it!!

So… (catch yer breath ya ol’Brit loon, fercake’ssake…) after two Guardians movies, it seems an injustice that Miss Quill’s extraordinary story has not been sufficiently told on the big screen… 

Still, thanks to the wonders of Bronze Age comics – it’s out there (if you can find it). 

She enriched her life trying to save J’son; 

she sacrificed her life trying to save Peter… 

This is for Meredith…

“I just don’t like the character [J’son] very much. I also thought it was too much like a Star Wars thing because of the royalty and all of that…” – James Gunn.

 

“Over The Hill With The Swords Of A Thousand Men!”: Song A Day Challenge – Day #1

Manic Music Monday: Welcome To The Song a Day Challenge

Thank You To Danica For Nominating Me!

Here are the rules:

  • Post a song a day for five consecutive days (I’m posting consecutive Mondays!)
  • Post the name of the song and video
  • Post what the lyrics mean to you (optional)
  • Nominate two (or one) different blogger each day of the challenge

My Song of the Day:

Tenpole Tudor – “Swords Of A Thousand Men” (1981)

What the lyrics mean to me:

Well, ‘oorah, ‘oorah, ‘oorah, yea!

This is stirring stuff and no mistake; back in the day – the ’80s of course! – so much FAB pop music could be lapped up.

Like so many of the classics of this long-gone and much-missed era, this punk classic exudes FUN, a more agreeable f-word that seems to have been eradicated from a “music” industry now as dull and miserable as the poxy weather in this video!

Look ye here: nothing could be more English than a bunch a’ mates arsin’ about in an English field; rockabillies in chainmail; drummers on tables and flag-wavin’ and ale-swillin’ a-plenty, by Jove! 

Hear their shouts, hear their roar
They’ve probably all had a barrel or much, much more, indeed!
HUZZAH!

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My Nominee:

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Quantum of Solitude: Do Aliens Know That They Are Not Alone?

How Much Longer Must We Hunt For ETs?

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“Science fiction offers various dystopian visions of isolation in which the everyday turns out to be an illusion, and we are “really” …distracting ourselves as we scrape out a living in a burning, post-apocalyptic wasteland” – Hari Kunzru.

“In fear every day, every evening
He calls her aloud from above
Carefully watched for a reason
Painstaking devotion and love”

Arthur C. Clarke once chillingly spoke of just two possibilities: 
“that we are alone in the universe, or we aren’t, and both are terrifying.”
These days, Brad is alone, not lonely – there is a telling difference. 

As both family and “friends,” are out of touch with me, there is no need to fret. In actual fact, it’s a turn of events actually quite relished; it’s not terrifying in the slightest. 

Apart from my wife (long-distance calls @ the mo) and the barrista, with whom my occasional indulgence for mocha is made, the Larynx of Brad never gets used.  

“Alone with my thoughts” is a prospect to savour – working on lots of ideas for fiction and blog-posts is what keeps me going through these dark times. 

Ant yet – for the time being, anyway – in a universe teeming with about 100 billion galaxies, each with roughly 100 billion stars, humans are the only species with which to converse. Bah!

Where are our cosmic neighbours? 

The proliferation of alien beings in all shapes and sizes throughout SF has always shown an optimistic, speculative vision of what might be. It fuels this unending fascination for the possibility of extraterrestrial life. 

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“If I were an alien society just 100 years more advanced than us, my astronomy text books would surely contain huge tables of habitable worlds. Earth would be among them” – Seth Shostak.

On the overcrowded train, it would be all too easy to feel lonely. In a miasma of laughably-called social media, nobody talks to anybody any more. 

Most commuters now immerse themselves in the wonders of their smartphones – escaping into their own worlds. They are all, potentially, friends yours truly are “yet to meet,” but they are never going to look up from their Snapchit and Pokemons to be social…

This is where the ethics of reality augmentation will begin to kick in.

There is the theory of the “filter bubble”: our tendency to create an echo chamber around ourselves, reinforcing ideas and perceptions we appreciate, and blotting out the hate and bigotry that is all the rage right now…

Social media has “allowed people to make hashtag bunkers for themselves.”

The dude was cool, the dame was hot; if only they’d put away their blasted devices and just talk to each other – they looked like such a perfect couple. 

They are what you would call inseparable, but just don’t know it…

“A blindness that touches perfection
But hurts just like anything else”

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“…With the celebrity that has come with my books, and the isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller. So the recent apparent rejection of the elites in both America and Britain is surely aimed at me as much as anyone” – Stephen Hawking.  

“But if you could just see the beauty
These things I could never describe

Lots of people – seemingly aimless and irritable – are shambling their way through the barest of existences…

It’s as if the ability to feel, to laugh, TO LIVE has NOT been passed down.

Everybody Wants More.

Would interaction with a being from another world help fill that social void?!

The James Webb Space Telescope (to be launched in 2018) will explore the atmospheres of exoplanets for chemical signatures of life. Radio astronomers have long been searching for traces of transmissions from an extraterrestrial source – when do they expect to receive any positive results?

Can they he announced at, say, some time in our lifetime?

Perhaps aliens stay their distance because they are embroiled in their own tech gadgets… 

No, but seriously. 

If their technology is superior, as is a common assumption, they are probably aware of the global downturn in the socio-economic and political climate.

And are intelligent enough to stay away…

Finally, to those naysayers not prepared to believe/accept that we are not alone, then surely, there must be a greater determination to eradicate the countless ills that have besieged our world far too long?

Do we really want to be the only inhabited world in the cosmos? That makes war on our own species…?

“There ARE infinite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours…

“We MUST believe that in all worlds there are living creatures and plants and other things we see in this world” – Epicurus (c. 300 BCE)

Arrival: The Bradscribe Review

What Is The Purpose Of This Movie?

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“The premise is that aliens are landing in places that make no sense, and nothing is happening. The world is freaking out… I love that” – Denis Villeneuve.

“I was in love with the exaggeration of reality or exploration of the world from a different point of view, which is science fiction” explains Denis Villeneuve.

When the French-Canadian director admits that “it’s tough to find good science fiction material,” at least he has tried – and succeeded – to rectify this matter in the intriguing form of Arrival, the sort of thought-provoking SF that rarely gets the big-screen treatment.

Based on Ted Chiang’s novella: “Story of Your Life” – a “highly scientific, not inherently cinematic” work – twelve massive, shell-shaped spacecraft appear in the most unlikeliest locations around the world. And the race is on to find out What They Want.

On a university campus, comparative linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks, (played by Amy Adams)realises that constant low-flying jets and a collision in the car park signify that this is turning out to be no ordinary day.  

After learning about the Breaking News of the Century – strangely enough on an HD TV, not via smartphone – the Prof is soon whisked away by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to Montana where the USA’s very own extraterrestrial representative has chosen to hang around. 

There is no explanation as to why a section of the craft opens up every eighteen hours, or how this arrangement was initially achieved but, nevertheless, a palpable sense of wonder ensues. 

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“…At the end of the day, it’s a story about a woman and her child, and the choices she makes. That’s really interesting to play in a sci-fi movie about communication and global war” – Amy Adams.

Why are they here, indeed.

For the central role, Adams puts in an engaging performance, one of intimacy and empathy, managing to elevate this material from the depths of absurdity to which it could so easily have sunk.

And despite its disturbing nature, the gradual unravelling of international tensions actually makes for compelling viewing.

Perhaps the most enthralling scene is the intrepid hazmat squad’s literally breath-taking ascent into the spacecraft, and their conversion to a vertical gravity. One discrepancy and all the guests would hurtle back/down to terra firma!

The visitors referred to here as  “heptapods” appear and dissolve in mist behind a transparent screen. They reminded me of the tentacled martians as depicted in The War Of The Worlds; the whale-like sounds they emit are particularly haunting. 

“Abbott and Costello” – how charming! Why do we see just two of them? …And we didn’t get to find out why they each have seven legs, either.

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I didn’t think it would look as big and expansive as it is. We’re in a black box. With a white screen and a hazmat suit… It emotionally wrecked me” – Jeremy Renner.

What a relief that Arrival spares us the eerie and stereotypical dramatic scenes of the alien armada ominously approaching Earth. Quite unlike more standard alien invasion flicks –gadzooks! They’re here already! An unsettling touch if ever there was one. And it is nothallelujah! – an invasion anyway!

Such a welcome cavalcade of subtle ideas: scientific, cultural and – oh yes! – linguistic. Part of the fascination for this movie centred on wondering how Villeneuve et al would bring it to a satisfactory denouement. Had expected a twist, but on a non-linear level? Heavy, baby.

Ultimately, its stark themes convince us that this film is not about the aliens, but about us: the complicated bipeds. In attempts at First Contact, these proceedings instead invoke that inherent inability to effectively communicate among our own species. Not only does communication (and co-operation) break down, in this hi-tech age, it gets switched off! 

As one news reporter rightly remarked at one point, whatever benevolent need our visitors require, why do they come in twelve ships, when only one would have sufficed?

It is startling to realise that in that cramped and bustling army camp in Montana, Dr. Banks is the only major female presence. Really?!

It is almost miraculous how she and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) crack the intricacies of the alien non-linear orthography in unbelievably short time and in such stressful geopolitical circumstances.

Thankfully, this film is more engaging than Interstellar, and undoubtedly light years more worthwhile than Independence Day: Resurgence. 

Perhaps Arrival’s greatest asset is that, in a world increasingly tearing itself apart through social unrest and breakdowns in diplomacy, it could not have been released at a more apt time…

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BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4-out-of-5

Lingua Extraterrestria: What Would First Contact Entail?

When We DO make Alien Contact, What Will We Have To Say? And How…? 

And By What Means Can We Begin To Comprehend What THEY Want?

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“What the hell are we supposed to use, man, harsh language?” – Private Frost. 

“Thousands have taken to the streets amid growing unrest at the perceived “alien invasion,” reads the Breaking News banner.

“Governments across the globe have declared a state of emergency urging residents to remain in their homes until meaningful contact can be made.”

What do they mean by “meaningful contact”?

The exciting, yet cautious, notion of first contact with (intelligent) extraterrestrial life has often popped up in movies, books and essays, but they all – frustratingly – fall short of supposing how such a landmark event could be achieved.

The most prominent SF extravaganza to tackle this premise (refraining from military antagonism) and emphasize attempts at establishing connections with alien visitors happened to be Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977), in which initial connection transpired through exchanges of musical motes. 

Groovy – fortunately, variable tones possess the same harmonics elsewhere in our galaxy!

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“I really misunderstood that linguistics was closer to being a translator… When you’re approaching language, you look at structure, anthropological, sociological… how it exists inside of that. It’s got very complicated” – Amy Adams.  

Just opened in cinemas this week is Arrival, a most-welcome package that dares to offer something more cerebral rather than just aiming to be visually spectacular. 

After twelve ovular smooth and shell-like spacecraft appear in skies at various locations around the world, answers – rather that action – is called for. The military (led by Forest Whitakerenlist the services of leading academic linguist Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) to try and work out why they are here, and what do they want. 

Curiously, every eighteen hours, a section of the craft suspended above the plains of Montana opens up, allowing Banks and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to try and facilitate a basic exchange of communication.

The new Arrivals are revealed as seven-pronged starfish-like creatures dubbed “heptapods.” Intriguingly, these visitors do participate in contact, but only by emitting a highly sophisticated form of non-linear orthography – rings of swirling black “ink.”

How can Dr. Banks hope to suss out something like this?:

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“Some supporters of linguistic relativity think that the cognitive benefits of language helped spur its evolution. This is relevant to the movie, as the fate of humanity depends on us understanding their language” – newscientist.com

Among the earliest systems of writing, wedge-shaped cuneiform tablets were produced by the Sumerians in the Ancient Near East five thousand years ago. 

Having had the privilege of studying this bewildering civilization at university, one could not help but observe that they seemed so incongruous to World History – the notion of extraterrestrial origins should not sound so fantastical.

Incidentally, their religious texts quite categorically describe “the Ancient Gods who descended from the Heavens…”

Since the Phoenicians developed the first alphabet, scripts for Indo-European languages – of which English is just one member of that family – generally run horizontally from left to right, but with the observation that Arabic runs from right to left, should the heptapod circular “language” be read clockwise or anti-clockwise? 

Moreover, at what point on each billowing ring should Dr. Banks begin to decipher these messages? So many syntactic and semantic aspects to consider in such a fascinating and – considering what is at stake – frightening voyage of discovery!

As Dr. Banks wonders:

“They use non-linear orthography. Do they think like that too?” 

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“Are you dreaming in their language?” – Ian Donnelly.

Having already notched up five-star reviews and an encouraging string of superlatives from a wide range of film magazines and websites, Arrival looks set to be the phenomenal, thought-provoking classic that gives SF a good name.

Ultimately, this movie sets out to be more about human understanding, memory, love and fortitude than just delivering yet another tiresome alien invasion CGIfest far beyond the sensationalist reach of such dumb, inconsequential fare as Independence Day: Resurgence (which we were so kindly subjected to earlier in the year).

To find out how “distinctly original” and “truly exceptional” Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival really is, Brad will be checking it out this weekend. Therefore, a Review is sure to follow!

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Keep watching the skies…