Welcome To New Asgard!
“Move aside, there, Lebowski!” – Tony Stark.
Thor: “Do you know what is coursing through my veins right now?”
James Rhodes: “Cheez Whiz?”
This is the end, beautiful friend…
In a movie that is the culmination of eleven years and over twenty movies, thus transcending the rules and expectations of the superhero movie genre, where the whole objective is to conclude all super-business in a convincing and compelling closure, AND fire decisive repulsor-rayblasts to your mind, heart and – hoo-boy! – tear ducts, where do we begin?!
Tony Stark is marooned in space with the daughter of the fiend who fatally slew him; where do the original Avengers – survivors of the Snaptastrophe – go from here?
To undo the Mad Titan’s wrongdoings, and try and restore some sorta semblance of order back to the universe, before you can say: “TREE! Help me find the handle!” they have constructed a “machine” that can transport what’s left of the cast into their respective subplots…
And to that end, as expected, the following three hours deliver on so many winning levels in the best way possible.
The only way.
The MARVEL way! 🙂
PHOOEY to those critics who dared slate this gargantuan cinematic swansong as “preposterous”(!)
Look, this is a comicbook movie fer cake’s sake, where fans don’t bat an eyelid at such Stark Raving Hazelnuts stuff as a talking raccoon, a wizard’s cloak that has a mind of its own and a giant Peter Dinklage.
One can appreciate how (the best of) these MCU movies have been created by comicbook buffs who not only know how crazy, clever and cosmic these stories can be, but understand how they work. Essentially, Avengers: Endgame has been (ahem) assembled in such a meticulous, but oh so MARVELous way that it looks – and works – like a remastered Greatest Hits compilation, with a handful of iconic scenes from the last eleven years – including familiar faces we thought we’d never see again! – lovingly spliced in to add an always-welcome tinge of nostalgia to that unfailingly spectacular eleven-year mix of action, drama and humour.
Moreover, this time, we are presented with an unprecedented, but irresistibly intriguing premise in a superhero movie:
failure, and how (what’s left of) the team deal with that.
Just when you think the First Act would dissolve into something too morose to handle, and drag a tad, once again – thankfully! – writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are at the top of their (end)game, providing one of the best scripts of the year (and not to mention, as reliable as ever, a hefty wodge of rad quotable lines! 😉 )
The depleted number of protagonists means that Avengers: Endgame offers closer attention to character study, and even sends some of their story-arcs down paths that were (dare we say it!) hitherto undreamt of. One of them in particular highly uncharacteristically crawls into a bottle (Clue: it’s NOT Ant-Man).
At the end of the day, it’s so cool to discover that – like your fav cake-scoffing blogger 😉 – Clint is just as badass with a blade as he is with a bow.
Oh, and speaking of cool, that much-anticipated Stan Lee cameo is – how we remember The Man – real classy!
At three hours and one minute, this is the longest MCU instalment; kudos to its directors: Anthony and Joe Russo for not letting the pace slip at all, not once, during these epic proceedings. Against all odds, Avengers: Endgame manages to be a worthy and thoroughly enjoyable successor to Avengers: Infinity War.
However, once that sheer exhilaration settles down and those critical faculties kick in, a few niggles pop up preventing me from bestowing it the full quota of five perfectly balanced stars.
The biggest drawback here happens to be the biggest character: despite having a few cool scenes, Thanos is inevitably relegated to formulaic antagonist.
When Captain Larson shows up at Avengers HQ, nestling the Benatar on their front lawn, there are no gawps or gasps from Steve and co. Obviously, this universe is positively heaving with enhanced individuals of one sort or another, so “New Girl” is allowed to hang around the base, no questions asked, until the moment
the script has no further need for her she has to skedaddle to some distant planet to… do something for no discernible reason… She eventually returns, making a brief, but blistering impact during the Final Act which, incidentally, looks far too cluttered and chaotic. All in all, Captain Marvel’s appearance in this movie was not substantial or integral enough to have warranted her own lousy movie almost two months ago.
Personally, last year’s masterpiece – with its towering (and harrowing) central performance, a truly Mighty Marvel Team-Up in the unexpected groovy forms of Thor and Rocket, moon-throwing and THAT unforgettable ending – seared a more indelible mark on my memory, but this is still an incredibly engrossing piece of work, and provides a fitting finale to this frenetic franchise.
When The BIG Bradscribe MCU Countdown is due to be revised shortly, Avengers: Endgame should be riding high in the Top 10. It deserves to snap out of existence all box office records; after only three days, it’s officially become the Highest Grossing Movie Of All Time.
The enormous, exciting, and – oh yes – emotional effects have proved remarkable, and will surely never end – this really feels like the blockbuster to end all blockbusters.
Therefore, yours truly takes this opportunity to announce The End of my forty years of cinema-going. Let’s face it: during the next ten – perhaps twenty – years, methinks it probably unlikely that we will ever experience a movie, bigger, bolder or better than this…
At the very least, watching Avengers: Endgame is infinitely preferable to being stuck in a flying doughnut billions of miles from Earth with no backup…
“I like this one.”
Some people in this galaxy DON’T dig Marvel movies. 0_0
But not us…
Before unleashing my Review next week, this chattering animal will be posting – midweek – a few thoughts on the soon-to-be-revealed Avengers: Endgame, so hope you can join me for that!
Ha ha! We all wondered how we would manage to wait a whole year to find out how this monumental story arc could come to a satisfying MARVELous denouement – now we are only DAYS away.
So this is it? It’s all been leading to this…
Many many moons ago, at school, there was one quick, and somewhat sad, way to tell the difference between boys and girls:
boys read science fiction – girls did not.
Traditionally, my fav genre had been restricted to being a “Boy’s Own” pursuit long before my arrival on this Pale Blue Dot. My constant comic-reading consisted of Starhawk, Strontium Dog and Rogue Trooper – all male characters, of course! – used to irk some of the girls in my class no end. Despite trying to hide my mags, or chuck them over the playground wall, they never directly expressed any curiosity, or interest, in this reading-material. Shame, ‘cos such interaction might have extricated me from my insufferable shell a lot sooner…
Science fiction has always exuded a voracious appetite for change. And to reflect those gradual, now quickening, changes in society, most notably in attitudes towards, and rights affecting, women, the genre has dramatically achieved so much to this end and, promisingly, continues to do so.
To accompany this analysis, there will be a selection from the feminine side of Brad’s jukebox:
At its best, science fiction makes us THINK.
And there was one particularly awesome comicbook cover that single-handedly altered my mindset in regards to women in SF.
In one of my most beloved books from the Library @ Brad Manor, a compendium: Alien Creatures, by Richard Siegel and J-C Suares (1978) – “Dedicated to those who haven’t landed yet” 😉 – on page 40 to be exact (that fact is proudly printed indelibly in my memory), this exquisite classic vintage cover (by Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta, above) of Weird Fantasy #21 made me realise the potential of incorporating strong, distinctive female characters in my own fiction.
Note how the traditional gender roles haye been reversed: this woman – armed and sensibly-dressed (obligatory goldfish-bowl permitting) – assumes an assured, active and commanding position in the foreground while the male is reduced to just scantily-clad manflesh. Bold, and very progressive, especially when you consider this artwork was originally published – slapbang in that “Boy’s Own” era – in 1953!
2000AD – still “the longst-running comic in the galaxy” – has always been considered to be an highly-esteemed tag to have on any comic writer’s/artist’s resume, and yet it’s most notable alumni began their respective careers… working on girls’ comics!
Lately, my scope of classic comics has veered towards British publications of the ’70s. Whilst searching for the “lost Starhawk stories,” in The Crunch, imagine my astonishment, but sheer delight, upon discovering “Ebony”: a black, female MI5 agent; for 1977, this looked like an extremely impressive and empowering premise – the spitting image of Nina Simone, she’s every bit as tough and classy as Pam Grier! And way too cool to be this obscure. (Not surprisingly, there are no clear images of her online).
While stories for boys centred on action, comics for girls concentrated on romance.
Interestingly enough, there was indeed only one (albeit short-lived) British SF/fantasy comic for girls from that time: Spellbound. Heard a lot of encouraging items about one of its contents – that quartet of enhanced femme fatales: the Super-Cats, so will endeavour to check out this “Fabulous Four.”
Back then, one would have been branded a “sissy” if seen with a girls’ comic, but now, who cares…?
How apt: playing this on the Eighth Day of this month 😉
No NO, Lady Go-Go!
Let Hazel show you what a bona fide unorthodox-but-awesome songstress really looks and sounds like!:
“The horrible immorality” argued Anatole France, ominously, as early as 1905, “…is to be the morality of the future.”
Whereas bygone authors of general fiction felt restricted from writing about the realities of human relationships, science fiction auteurs went ahead anyway and experimented with gender as well as genetics, and sex and sexuality in addition to science and scientific plots.
The main credit for breaking through the barriers of taboo is usually given to Philip Jose Farmer, whose The Lovers (1952) dealt with the unfortunate consequences of a love-affair between a man and an alien, although some would argue that Nice Girl With Five Husbands (1951) by Fritz Leiber, at last deserves critical reappraisal.
The 1960s proved permissive enough to see an influx of more gender-based stories; Harlan Ellison’s anthology: Dangerous Visions (1967) confirmed that any speculative fiction concerning sexual matters could thenceforth be published, while the ground-breaking Left Hand Of Darkness (1969) by Ursula LeGuin offered a more sensitive approach to sexual roles and mores. The 1970s witnessed an increase in feminity – and feminism – through science fiction with the most prominent examples being: When It Changed (1972) by Joanna Russ and Marge Piercy’s Woman On The Edge Of Time (1976).
More varied roles for female characters appeared on a relatively healthy basis up to the end of the 20th century, and beyond, culminating in the current blossoming subgenre of YA fiction.
Arguably, the strongest, most positive female role in science fiction has to be Ellen Ripley, superbly played by the incomparable Sigourney Weaver.
The character had originally been written as male, but Sigourney impressed the director: Ridley Scott to such an extent that he not only changed the course of movie history, but furthered the opportunities for women’s roles in science fiction. Crucially, when she returned in the equally-impressive sequel: Aliens (1986), the addition of terrorised infant, Newt, allowed Ripley’s character to be enhanced by expressing long-suppressed calm and compassionate maternal instincts.
We inevitably turn our attention to the woman’s role that defined its time: Princess Leia, immortalised by the late great Carrie Fisher.
Some would argue that she was upstaged by that young farm boy; he was the one who destroyed the Death Star and received the glory, cake and medal, but the cultural – and psychological – impact that Leia had on each generation over the last forty years makes said space station look like a ping pong ball…
“Well somebody has to save our skins…”
But that was before the dark times.
In this modern Star Wars era, there is, alas, not much to get excited about.
The lone redeeming item is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It offers a striking lead performance by Felicity Jones – an ingenious case of casting as Jyn Erso; her soft and slight build belies the fact that she has had to become tough, confident and resourceful – she was more of a “rebel” in every sense of the term than any other member of that Rebel Alliance.
One of the multiple problems that beset Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the baffling observation that although the cast featured a commendable and considerable number of female figures in its cast, due to poor writing, strong, discernible characters did not manage to flourish.
Naturally – ‘cos you know it’s Brad – we come to the MCU, the franchise that just keeps on giving. There are various instances of strong and commanding superheroines therein, to name but a few:
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is the only reason to watch Iron Man 2 (which should have been the Black Widow we all deserve!) and she further excels in the Avengers movies AND Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Hayley Atwell is exceptional as Agent Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger; whilst my personal fav (see below!): she’s not a queen, or a monster, she’s Hela, the Goddess of Death.
And we come to the latest – and possibly most game-changing – instalment: Captain Marvel.
Where there’s good, there’s bad – cue the rise of that “horrible immorality” in the repugnant form of sexist trolls who have crawled out of the depths of their own ignorance, this time, to belittle Brie Larson: the first female lead in a Marvel movie. Rather than shut down her TwitFace™ account (or whatever you blessed younglings call the bally thing) she’s done what any honourable superhero would do: STRIKE BACK.
“Up an’ at ’em, lady!”
And so, considering how – over thirty decades ago – such a prospect would have seemed unthinkable (certainly in my school yard), SF enjoys a poignant and promising age in which more girls and young women than ever before actively watch science fiction movies at the cinema, read SF novels – AND comics!! – participate in, and cosplay, at comic conventions in record numbers. More crucially, some have been inspired to create their own far-reaching fiction!
Let me say how, for me, this is a genuinely thrilling and reassuring situation to behold. Long may it continue!
Let me finish by saying just this:
Those girls who, back in the day, nabbed my comics, now, most likely, have daughters who wholeheartedly embrace science fiction!
And, what’s more, if they can craft an intergalactic saga better than anything this humble ol’ nerfherder could muster, then that would be really groovy.
“Go get ’em, girls!”
“Air Force?! Well, why the heck not?” the young teen Carol Danvers wonders, having stormed out of the family home after yet another rowdy bust-up with her Pa.
A poster outside the local USAF Recruitment Office satisfies her longing for adventure, so the day after her 18th birthday: “without a word to her parents or a backward glance… she enlisted.”
The rest is…
A history – one of the most complex, convoluted, and controversial, of any comic book character.
Th original superhero to go by the epithet: “Captain Marvel” was Mar-Vell, created by Stan “The Man” Lee and “Genial” Gene Colan in 1968; he was introduced as a guardian of the Kree, protector of the planet Hala against the dreaded Skrulls. (More about them later).
The character of Carol Danvers appears to have been created – as that most lame women’s “role”: Captain Marvel’s love “interest” – by “Rascally” Roy Thomas and “Genial” Gene Colan. She first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (March 1968) as a non-superpowered USAF officer.
This is the very first scene to feature “Miss Danvers”:
Carol Danvers made her solo debut with Ms. Marvel #1 (January 1977) written by Chris (X-Men) Claremont.
Mar-Vell still retained the title of Captain Marvel, so to differentiate from him, Carol assumed the title of “Ms. Marvel” Apart from bare legs and midriff, she wore a very similar red and blue costume. At that time, the use of “Ms.” reflected bold feminist connotations – having left NASA to become Editor of the Daily Bugle’s Woman Magazine, Carol regularly “fought” Battle Of The Sexes duels with J. Jonah Jameson.
And won. Every time.
Despite this, it must be said that Marvel Comics originally had a rather half-hearted approach to female characters, with She-Hulk and Spiderwoman serving as just female variants if their more iconic male counterparts. Thus, regrettably, it seemed as though Ms. Marvel could do nothing but continue this trend.
The 1st ish of Ms. Marvel is impossible to find – and, thus, ridiculously expensive.
#5 (May 1977) – one of the better ishs, featuring a supercool guest star appearance by The Vision – includes some invaluable backstory.
During an intense duel between Captain Marvel and Colonel Yon Rogg – Carol had her notorious accident with a device known as the psyche-magnetron. Essentially, it spliced Mar-Vell’s DNA with hers: “she had the strength of ten men, the knwoledge and instincts of a Kree warrior, and thanks to a sophisticated electronic webbing built into her costume… she could fly.” Most crucially, she was possessed with that uniquely Kree power: a Seventh Sense in which she could anticipate danger before it occurred.
From ish #20, (October 1978) the “All-New” Ms. Marvel – the notorious black halter-neck leotard and longer boots (and, curiously-much-longer hair) – took over. It is in this garb that she first joined The Avengers. Unfortunately, the next stage of Carol’s “life” is the most controversial (and will only be mentioned briefly here).
In her essay: “The Rape Of Ms. Marvel,” comicbook historian Carol A Strickland criticized one Avengers storyline that concentrated on the “abduction and impregnation” of the Fighting Fury by Marcus (alleged son of Immortus). Why oh why did such an inappropriate and obscene plot have to sully none other than The Avengers #200?! As an Avengers fan for most of my life, it is outrageous – almost criminal! – that what should have been an epic landmark ish can never join my collection…
Moreover, where were the Comics Code Authority? How could they have “Approved” THIS?!
Even Claremont spoke out against it, and proceeded to “undo” this inappropriate storyline when he produced Avengers Annual #10 (1981). He further redeveloped Carol’s character whilst working on The Uncanny X-Men. During one cosmic adventure: #164 (December 1982), an alien race known as The Brood imbue her with energy manipulation and absorption powers and thenceforth, she becomes known as “Binary.” Essentially she could generate the power of a star.
When she soon reverts to her Ms. Marvel persona, Carol retains these powers.
The very first grapic novel in comics history happened to be Death Of Captain Marvel, featuring the demise of Mar-Vell (in 1982) but Carol did not assume the Captaincy right away. No, the first female hero to use this title was an African-American: Monica Rambeau (seen in her white and black garb on the cover above).
Incidentally, in the upcoming movie, Carol’s best friend is fellow pilot Maria Rambeau, Monica’s mum – an interesting twist to the origins story.
Considering the Kree-Skrull War’s overwhelming importance in the comics – in fact, “The Kree-Skrull War” happened to be Marvel Comics’ first major cosmic story-arc, featured in The Avengers in 1971, written by Roy Thomas, with art provided by Neal Adams and both Buscemas (John and Sal).
With such multiple plot-threads, it is difficult to determihe which aspects, if any, will make it into this movie. It is surprising how no mention of that major, seemingly-eternal conflict has not featured in the MCU.
Strangely enough, although Ms. Marvel spent the first few ishs of her solo ’70s series trying to come to terms with her Kree powers, there was never any mention of the Skrulls: sinister alien shapeshifters.
However, in Marvel Team-Up # 62 she joins Spidey to fight the Super-Skrull: a Skrull antagonist possessing the powers of the Fantastic Four (see below):
July 2012 marked the moment when Carol Danvers officially assumed the title of Captain Marvel.
In a dramatic reintroduction of the character, its writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick, had offered an irresistible pitch: it could “pretty much be summed up with ‘Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager.'”
Carol rejoined The Avengers the following year, starring in the Captain Marvel / Avengers Assemble crossover storyline: “The Enemy Within”. She and her Avenger teammates must do battle with Yon-Rogg, the Kree officer responsible for the explosion that caused her to receive her powers, and in defeating the Kree, Danvers loses her memories...
And in May 2014, Carol Danvers joined the Guardians Of The Galaxy.
When asked, during one interview, that all-important-question:
“Who is the most powerful being in the Marvel Universe?”
the late, great Stan Lee immediately replied:
“Galactus. Without a doubt.”
Continuing the MCU’s unabashed trend of distorting the original comicbook plotlines, Kevin Feige – Marvel Studios’ Head Honcho – has stipulated that Captain Marvel IS the most powerful being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, it is intriguing to discover that the Captain Marvel movie will be set in the ’90s – most tantalisingly, over twenty years before Tony Stark became Iron Man…
It will certainly be interesting to see a de-aged and patchless Nick Fury and such familiar faces as Korath and Ronan again.
Unlike Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War – both devoured (with glee) on their respective days of release – this blogger won’t be watching the 21st instalment of the MCU until next week.
Why?! you cry.
Saving it for a (hopefully special) birthday treat 🙂
Captain Marvel: Die Hard With Avengers 😉
Captain Marvel is released this Friday: March 8 2019 – International Women’s Day(!)
To fellow survivors of THE SNAP,
How ya doin’?
Excited for Captain Marvel? This Friday?
Now we know that the 21st instalment of the MCU will be set in 1995, and the inclusion of music from that year appearing on the Soundtrack has been confirmed, yours truly immediately set about investigating which tracks had been chosen, so this groovy MARVEL Music Monday post could be put together.
The OST will not be released until this Friday, and there is absolutely NO advance tidbits released to dashing members of the press like myself. Shame: ended up devising my own 90s Playlist whilst compiling my History of Carol Danvers – that Post should be up well before this Friday! 😉 Found one song featured on a Cap Marvel TV Spot, but alas, that platter just happens to be one of the most annoying released during that year! (Hope the final track selection is cool, but already have my doubts…)
Sheesh, what is Brad ta do?! It’s almost Tuesday, fer cake’s sake!
One of the many many reasons why last year’s Avengers: Infinity War turned out to be such a MASTERPIECE was the oh-so-appropriate soul classic played to herald the entrance of the Guardians of the Galaxy – a welcome groovy interlude amidst those otherwise grim and gloomy proceedings, and, on its own, better than the whole disappointing Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 2.
Let’s be honest: if the late, great Stan Lee created a superhero named Rubberband Man, he would have been just as dynamic and iconic as all his other legendary characters! 😉
Sing it, Drax!
“Foamfollower’s question caught him wandering. “Are you a story-teller, Thomas Covenant?”
Absently, he replied, “I was, once.”
“And you gave it up? Ah, that is as sad a tale in three words as any you might have told me. But a life without a tale is like a sea without salt. How do you live…?”
You must have noticed.
The words have not flowed on this site as one would like. Sure, my gobsmackworthy powers of expression and composition did not miraculously return with the chimes of Big Ben the other night, but all is not lost! As Ovid once said: “Perfer et obdura!” (Be patient and hold out!)
One great – and highly recommended – way for anyone to slip back into their creative groove is to escape from their desk and explore the outdoors. Supposedly, the biting nip in the air during this particular season should do wonders for my stuffy cranium. Sometimes, the crashing sounds of the surf can usually entice me down to the beach, but today, the opposite direction is taken.
On top of the hill looming majestically over our village, lies “The Ring” – a glorious local nature reserve named after a ring of beech trees planted up here in the late 18th century. Signs of habitation on this prominent point date back into prehistoric times, and traces of a Roman temple were unearthed back in the 50s, so the charm of this spot has been entrancing people for centuries.
Would proclaim myself: “Lord Of The Ring,” (oHO! 😉 ) but nah. The WordPress masses no longer swing by this site these days, and one doesn’t wish to lose his last few remaining readers by dispensing such cheap ‘cracks as that!
“Of the mastersmiths in the Northlands that were, and of their marvellous skills, the Winter Chronicles tell many tales. Greatest is that of-”
Brad, who, rather than stay on a crowded train reluctantly listening to such inconsequential babble emanating from endless banks of smartphones, you are more likely to find him trudging through the beechwoods, high atop The Ring, lost in the garrulous harmony of jays, nuthatches, robins and even the odd fastidious crow…
Why should this ol’ dude, now sporting a formidably bushy crumbcatcher, spend either his time or creds on such flaccid fare as Aquaman or Bumblebee, when this season boasts a positively splendiferous plethora of maidenhair spleenworts and their effulgent yellow-green pinnae?!
One arborial landmark in particular (see above!) entices me every time with its fantastical, Middle-Earth-like charm. Nicknamed it the “Elf Tree,” ‘cos you half expect an elf, goblin, or some frabjous form of faeriekind to lurk beneath its bark…
Whatever magickal and bewitching fantasy land lies deep beyond its gnarly roots: take me there!! For it can only be infinitely superior to this mundane madhouse we call the Real World, with its gaggles of dunderheaded politicians – on BOTH sides of The Pond! – bickering pathetically amongst themselves while We, The People, suffer as our socio-economic institutions are left to ROT.
And what about that other 21st century gripe of mine?!
My foray into social media (up until three years ago) did not last long. Upon finding old “friends,” the general consensus seemed to be: “Uff, he’s STILL alive…” And they all drifted off back to their own monotonous pursuits.
The distance – and anonymity – that social media affords has only served to increase – and embolden – the anti-social behaviour that now festers online… and on our streets. In my opinion, the uncontrollable proliferation of smartphones only makes these matters WORSE. And, regrettably, these wretched gadgets will NOT be vanishing like our ancient forests any time soon…
It is NO coincidence that a direct link exists between such rampant modern tech and a substantial lack of care and consideration for others…
So you see, up here, amidst my own bare, leaflorn bastion of solitude, there is no reason to rant. Just savour the serenity! And you can blot out such harsh truths that – as we traipse timidly into the year in which Blade Runner is set – the economic gap between the richest and the poorest around this befuddling Pale Blue Dot of ours is now so gargantuan that it makes the Death Star look like a ping pong ball…
“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…” 😉
“What can we look forward to in 2019?!”
Well, you see, therein lies the problem – “looking forward” has become (for me) a most uncomfortable exercise that screams nothing but: “Make more tawdry remakes! Be more obtuse to your fellows! Dehumanize yourself further by snapping up yet more superficial gadgets with money you don’t have!”
NO thank you.
In order to deal with incessant swathes of rotten luck and poor health – during this past quarter alone – the pull towards nostalgia and the joys and contentment synonymous with yesteryear become ever more comforting. And helps replenish my waning will to write. So, expect to see more nostalgic-tinted stuff on this site!
Encouragingly, Christmas week witnessed an upsurge in both the quantity and quality of my writing, and the renewal of that urge to finish and Publish more Posts!
To help avoid any more anxious loooong waits for subsequent Posts, you might like to know that my Manic Music Monday series is to be resurrected! Thus, there will be a guaranteed weekly dose of Brad while my usual Reviews and special Features (hopefully!) come to fruition!
Any new ideas for this New Year you would like to see on Bradscribe, pls let me know!
Let me conclude then, by saying just this:
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And lo, Brad settles down this balmy eventide to write
Long and arduously into the night…
The view from atop the Ring, looking east… ^
…and looking west…
There’s a party goin’ on right here! A celebration to last throughout the years. Come on now!
Yes, friends, it’s FIVE YEARS AGO today since Bradscribe made its first tentative steps into the blogosphere. Essentially the main platform to bring my writing to a wider readership (i.e. not just my mother) it has grown (hopefully in a healthy way) with the original SF articles and movie and book reviews now accompanied by Bronze Age (comic) Bonanzas, fiction, music compilations and – oh yes – parties.
Such a monumental anniversary could not go unheralded. Besides, we could all do with another Bradtastic party, right? Let’s all celebrate and have a good time!
What better way to get these proceedings under feelgood way than with the Synchronised Sneakers Squad: 😉
1. Actually, my original sign-up with WordPress was made during the first months of 2012, but – thrilled at having access to my very own Dashboard from which my distinctive creativity (and waffle 😉 ) could pour forth – no matter how much the instruction manuals were read and reread, none of them made any sense; they may as well have been published in Lithuanian!
Only by constantly repeating a How To vid on YouTube did yours truly discover that the little white box in the top right corner of the Dashboard activates any New Post…
2. Brad is NOT superstitious and yet over the past 60 months, not a single Post got published on the 13th day of ANY of them. At least something – even if it’s just a music Post, (the quickest and easiest to compile) – has appeared EVERY month. Strangely enough, no Posts materialised during November 2013. As soon as the technical side to blogging was mastered, so me ol’ mucker Writer’s Block came a-knockin’. HA!
3. Posts have been published in 3 different countries. Having watched – and thoroughly enjoyed – Birdman in Singapore (in February 2015) an equally enjoyable night was spent at a 24-hours Starbucks typing up this Review:
4. Passing the 200 Followers milestone (in February 2017 is (Statswise) my most successful Post with 21 Likes and 36 Comments.
My most popular Post remains my tribute to one of the greatest actors: Peter Cushing It’s the one where the majority of my Spam Comments tend to accumulate. Although some are unintelligible – or in Portuguese – these are unanimously positive and full of praise – or giving tips on how to improve my hydroponics system… 0_0
The next two clickbaits in the Bradscribe Archives honour a couple of the most iconic female characters in popular culture: Rey Of Light: Who’s That Girl? and Here’s To Hela: The Girl With The Awesome Antlers
5. The first video to appear here happened to be the trailer for Ex Machina in January 2015.
Not comfortable with the way in which the text of this site looked too gargantuan on other consoles, and miffed that new readers could not access my wonderful About page, the decision to change my Theme was taken in June 2015.
The first gif – now a (beloved?) mainstay around here – featured (of all people) Max Von Sydow (!) and appeared during this fiction Post: in August 2015.
Speaking of shining stars, ;-) this site would be nothing without YOU.
Surely, the main aim of avy blogger is TO BE READ, yes? Taking this opportunity to extend gushing gratitude and virtual hugs to you all!
The main reason to get embroiled in this blogging lark was to meet and chat with a myriad of groovy, like-minded peeps. Starting out all those moons ago, admittedly, there was some trepidation: would other bloggers be kind and sane peeps to converse with?! Moreover, would they be sociable with Brad? At all?!
Such intelligent, interesting and witty individuals you are! Just the sort of lovely folk one expects to find in the local village.
And another reason why you are all so amazing?
You got soul! If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be in here 😉
“If I could save time in a bottle…”
The Perfect Storm!
You don’t know the power of the Dark Side... until his Lordship kindly gives us a demonstration…
She’s not a queen. Or a monster. She doesn’t hold back neither!
SNAP to it!
Is it possible that something got left out here?!
Can YOU think of a scene – shown on the big screen within the last five years – that needs to feature on this list?
As always, your awesome Comments will be very much appreciated!
Okey-dokey then, enough about ME!
Hope you have enjoyed these grooves, gags and gifs – thank you ever so much for popping round.
As long as WordPress continues, there will ALWAYS be good times and laughter on the site endearingly known as Bradscribe. For the rest of this month, it’s back to the spooky stuff as we hurtle hectically towards Halloween.
Had intended to round off this one-in-a-half-decade jamboree with a few deep and profound words, but really: can anyone still see/hear me above that joyous cacophony of loud music, merry banter and balloons popping?!
So, in eager anticipation of many many more positive and productive Posts ahead, let me just wish you ALL:
A Very Happy Triple Choc Cheesecake Peanut Butter Caramel Cake!! 🙂
By The Great Pama!
Only a half-human-half-Kree superwoman hurtling Earthwards and crashing into a branch of Blockbuster Video could bounce Brad back into the blogosphere!
The hotly-anticipated trailer for MARVEL STUD10S’ 21st movie: Captain Marvel – MCU’s first solo female-led movie, set in the 1990s – finally arrived yesterday morning.
Here it is:
You may not be surprised to learn that a Captain Marvel bio is already in the works on this site!
While the original (male) Captain Marvel was a Kree superhero called Mar-Vell, Carol Danvers served as a USAF pilot who trained with NASA before getting caught in a psyche-magnetron, whereby Mar-Vell’s DNA was fused with Carol’s, imbuing her with superhuman strength and a mysterious seventh sense.
As a big fan of cosmic adventures – already impressed with Guardians of the Galaxy – we are set to see Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace) and Korath (Djimon Hounsou) again! -and Thor: Ragnarok, this movie looks like it could be another groovy entry in this scintillating subgenre.
Guardians of the Galaxy already introduced us to the Kree, who, in the comics, were at war with the Skrulls, a nasty race of shapeshifting aliens, set to make their big screen debut in this movie.
In its first TEN hours online, the Captain Marvel trailer notched up 10 million views.
The general consensus among fans is that the movie looks awesome. Yes, these photonic-blasted rapid scenes look impressive, but…
There is a montage of memories from Carol’s past, both here on Earth, and on Hala, the home planet of the Kree, so the factor of determining who she is and where she really comes from looks set to dominate proceedings. By The Black Nebula! Let’s hope this origins storyline is handled well.
Part of my speculation aimed at this trailer concentrated on what “classic” rock or hip-hop platter would we be subjected to. In the end, alas, we get neither – just the standard bombastic dirge that besets nearly all trailers these days.
It really is swell to see a younger Nick Fury (sans eye patch!), so you can’t help wondering what role S.H.I.E.L.D. (or Hydra?!) will play in this movie.
No sign of Ronan or Korath, but at least we got to see Starforce, the combo of Kree superheroes as featured in the comics (see above). They are led by an enigmatic figure (played by Jude Law) who may likely be Mar-Vell himself – the original “Captain Marvel.”
Most intriguingly, the Skrull archvillain: Talos is played by Ben Mendelsohn. If he is allowed to be even half as impressive as he was in Rogue One, the MCU will be blessed with a stronger, more compelling, villain. But he had no badass line, not even the barest glimpse here! The only shot of a Skrull we get is an autopsy. And that is a long shot.
This trailer did not super-psyche me up in quite the way Ragnarok or Infinity War trailers managed so easily.
Personally, if Carol shouts “Hala!” at all the right tense and exciting moments like she did during her own Bronze Age comic book series, Brad should be a happy bunny.
This blockbuster will be crashing into our popcorn parlours from Friday 8 March 2019 – International Women’s Day, of course!
Are YOU impressed with this trailer? Let me know in the Comments!
“I don’t mean to sound superior,” remarks V.I.N.CENT, cool and quote-dispensing droid of the USS Palomino, “but I hate the company of robots.”
No worries – when infant Brad first gawped at The Black Hole in 1979 there was no doubt in his tiny mind that he could easily dig the company of robots.
First, and foremost, hovered V.I.N.CENT (“Vital Information Necessary Centralized”), whose laser-precision, drills and other assorted attachments, and mellifluous voice (provided brilliantly by Roddy McDowell) granted his place as my very first favourite movie star. He was wonderfully accompanied by Old B.O.B. (“BiO-sanitation Battalion”), a battered early-model robot similar to V.I.N.CENT (voiced equally suitably by Slim Pickens, no less!).
The antagonist came in the mute, but mighty, imposing, crimson form of Maximillian; thus, a nail-biting David vs. Goliath duel looked inevitable. An army of sentry-robots guarded the USS Cygnus and more than satisfied our yearning for laser-battles as we could barely contain our excitement for the imminent Star Wars 2…
Also that year, British comics grabbed my attention – and pocket money. One of these homegrown titles featured a cosmic hero – white and fair-haired, obviously – who patrolled the spacelanes with a robot sidekick. Genius!
Unfortunately, my memory banks should have been reprogrammed a lot sooner as the names of this pair, the story-title, even the comic in which it appeared every week escaped me. And has proceeded to bug me on-and-off for the last 39 years…
Can vaguely recall one panel presenting this pair racing along in a landspeeder. All British comic interiors back then had no colour, but every so often, the first page of a story would be cyan-tinted, such was the case with this particular episode. This stylistic factor emanated from one company: D.C. Thomson – so ’twas with them that my search would concentrate. When commencing my foray into Bronze Age comic collecting two years ago, one of my objectives involved trying to rediscover the identity of this very first favourite comic character.
Whilst revising my notes (reprogramming my output?), you can sit back and enjoy this classic magic moment from the distant past when Star wars and Disney exrsted as two very separate entities – aah, get that music! get those ultracool sound effects! but mostly – WAHEY!! – somebody get those droids!:
Fortunately, my copy of Starblazer #21: Robot Rebellion – a cherished pocket-book – is still in pretty good nick.
During the school year of 1984, you didn’t need to buy 2000AD – somebody else brought every weekly Prog into class! So, the wacky wonders of Robo-Hunter and ABC (Atomic, Bacterial and Chemical) Warriors could still be enjoyed without denting our meagre coffers. The title of coolest droid ever to be activated must go to the ABC Warriors’ Joe Pineapples. Leather jacket and thongs look DAFT on any male carbon-based lifeform, but Joe somehow made it work.
All these mechanised marvels inspired me to delve into robo-history.
The term: “robot” was coined by Czech novelist/playwright: Karel Capek in his play: R.U.R. (1921) – a satire in which artificial men are gradually made more competent, until they harness the will to rebel and replace mankind.
The author most synonymous with robots has to be Isaac Asimov, whose series of robo-tales extends through three collections: I, Robot (1950), The Rest of The Robots (1964), and The Bicentennial Man (1977) – all based on the premise that robots are equipped with an unbreakable code of inbuilt ethics: the three laws of robotics. Primarily, Asimov sought to combat the “Frankenstein Syndrome,” whereby people sometimes exhibit a neurotic fear that their creations will destroy them. He attempted to allay such anxieties, and in so doing, called into question the philosophical basis for our attitudes to machines.
One SF author to take this stance further was Philip K. Dick. As one of the few members of my generation to have read “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” before watching Blade Runner, the whole issue of not so much how artificial beings look human, but can/do they act human had a most profound effect on my perspectives towards human – and non-human – behaviour.
Having made the case for droids programmed to speak, so the next two awesome candidates for inclusion here, weren’t.
Once you’ve seen “her” you can’t forget “Maria” from Fritz Lang’s ground-breaking Metropolis.
For 1926, the sleek and sophisticated style of “her look” was truly staggering.
It still is.
Soon after its grand opening during the ’80s, my mother took me to MOMI (Museum Of the Moving Image, in London) – there, in a special case, stood the actual life-size metal suit used in that German silent movie.
Must have stood there for AGES, honoured to be gawping at such a complex design; 1926?! Incredible!
The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) remains one of my most beloved SF masterpieces.
The charismatic – though enigmatic – Klaatu arrives on Earth (in Washington, USA, of course) to present a dire warning to the human race, but it’s his travelling companion – “that big iron fella” – an eight foot robot named Gort who stole the show. Instead of using a frightening voice, Bernard Herrmann’s eerie score helped enhance the fear factor quite considerably.
In his closing address, when Klaatu explained that Gort acted as a policeman, “patrolling the galaxies, protecting the planets,” his place in my Hall of Fame was assured.
Obviously, sprawled across the living room floor, watching avidly back in the day, it’s a shame Klaatu couldn’t drum into me the name of this elusive blond space hero with the same intensity he instructed all us seven-year-olds that in order to prevent Gort from destroying the Earth, we must go to Gort. We must say these words:
“Robots, and they look like military versions too.”
“Something sinister was afoot without doubt. It was bad enough that alien ships had trespassed in Federation space, but these looked too like the representatives of a sophisticated and alien civilization for Boots’ liking…”
At this phint, allow me to mention one of my fav droids featured in one of the very first SF books to grave my shelves (and still standing beside my desk, nestled behind the smaller – but no less significant – Science Fiction Source Book
The Space Warriors by Stewart Cowley, telling the galactic exploits of Commander “Boots” Walker and Rory Pricer as they battle the evil Phantor Gorth and his droid army. Apart from the menacing warbots (illustrated above by the legendary Eddie Jones), there was an amazing yellow sentry-robot (who cannot be found anywhere on Google Images or Pinterest) and the delightful domaestic robot who was so ecstatic to see Boots come home again he almost blew a fuse…
Droids can also offer unlikely moments of comic relief.
Take Woody Allen’s zany (and only) SF offering: Sleeper (1973), for instance. Trying to acclimatize to 22nd century life, Miles Monroe is given a robot dog called Max: “Is he house-trained or will he be leaving batteries all around the place?” Who could forget Reagan The Gaybot (“Here’s your silly hypervac suit!”) or the Jewish Tailor Robots (“What’re we gonna do with all this velvet?!”)?
And then there is The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, written by the late, great Douglas Adams (we shared the same birthday!) which featured Marvin The Paranoid Android.
He was hilarious in the TV series; one feared the worse when it received recent Hollywood treatment, but, with a HUGE sigh of relief, the Hitchhiker’s movie turned out to be pleasantly entertaining, especially with Sam Rockwell, Mos Def and Martin Freeman onboard. And of course, the late, great Alan Rickman provided the voice of Marvin:
(Been waiting patiently for the most suitable Post to insert this all-time classic exchange!) 🙂
Inevitably, we reach Star Wars.
There are more droids to be found in this galaxy far far away than you can shake a lightsaber at. The original trilogy helped bolster my devotion to droids even further.
Apart from the iconic duo of C3PO and R2D2, take a look at The Empire Strikes Back (1980): especially 2-1B, the medical droid that tends to Luke Skywalker in the bacta tank after that nasty Wampa attack on Hoth, and the one responsible for replacing Luke’s hand in time for this episode’s finale.
My one gripe towards arguably the saga’s greatest instalment, is that FORTY SECONDS did NO JUSTICE to that awesome assembly of badass bounty hunters. Not enough time to see IG-88 (blink and you’ll miss the moment when he actually TURNS HIS HEAD). Unlike other droid action figures, Iggy not only came with a blaster, but an extended assault rifle! Curiously enough, the insectoid 4-LOM is actually defined as a protocol droid – blimey, who knew?!
More comic relief in Return Of The Jedi (1983): 8D8 assigns R2D2 to waiter-duty aboard Jabba The Hutt’s sail-barge, but please, have mercy on the little, upended droid, screaming with a Munchkins voice, getting his soles branded while EVERYBODY in the cinema LAUGHS at him! And Wookieepedia can’t even tell me his name. Poor lil fella…
And yes, you guessed it, one of the joys of Rogue One (2016) came in the sure, yet surly, ex-Imperial form of K-2SO, who just like the best droids, instantly captured our attention – and hearts? – with a unique “personality.” In addition, “he” followed the old SF tradition of letting the droid steal the best lines…
A unique, seldom praised, factor about that original smash hit of 1977 is how, to begin with, the events are experienced solely through the two droids. Although never a big fan of C3PO, perhaps his finest moment in the whole saga came on Tatooine, arguing with “that malfunctioning little twerp.” There followed another great joy: those pesky Jawas, roaming the Midlanowhere Plains inside their ginormous clanking Sandcrawler with its diverse collection of droids, including the Death Star Droid: 5D6-RA7 (see above) – always liked its slick design, and unnerving vocalizations; the Power Droid (nothing more than a cute box on stumpy legs, its unremarkable and weaponless action figure has since become so rare, it is now THE most valuable one out there!); and spare a thot for that R5 unit (even if it did have a bad motivator).
And to think these adventures transpire before we even get to meet that blond kid from the moisture farm…
Speaking of blond galactic heroes, it is heartening to be able to end this Post (yes, even this insufferable dirge has to be deactivated at some point! 😉 ) with some promising news.
Just a few months ago, following an extraordinary incident of Baggins-like philosophy, yours truly finally managed to find what he was looking for. By looking for something completely different instead!
Naturally, this year’s birthday triggered a tremendous nostalgia-rush. Among my recollections happened to be a short-lived “boys’ paper” produced in 1983 (by D.C. Thomson) named Spike. It covered the full gamut of boys’ stories: football, war, espionage and school gangs, but the SF entry: Starhawk Against The Powerbeast (not surprisingly, my best of the bunch) rang a few bells…
It featured a fair-haired cosmic hero. With a robot sidekick.
My search is finally OVER.
Should have known he’d be called Star-something; just consider the number of Starlords to have passed through the comics industry on both sides of The Pond – why, even the obscure precursor to 2000AD was entitled: Starlord! And, the original combo of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy boasted a member known as Starhawk!
Yes, checking the D.C. Thomson database, the Starhawk of Spike 1983 did make a previous appearance in 1979.
The comic? The Crunch!
Jeez, how could it be possible to forget such a groovy title?! Especially when it sported such a formidable masthead?
Scant info told me that the sidekick was merely called “Droid.”
That’s it? Just “Droid”?!
Nothing facetious like Cecil? Or Humphrey? Or anything remotely badass like Joe Pineapples? Or Marvin…?
Still, as long as it’s NOT a meaningless stream of numbers and letters…
Anyway, a recent Bronze Age expedition into the heart of London returned with some encouraging findings. Only one awemonger (to my knowledge) stocks British comics, and much to my surprise – and sheer delight – when it came to The Crunch, substantial copies were indeed in stock. Came away with two ishs #35 (dated 15 September 1979, see below; tried to upload the first page, but, apologies, being produced on rather cheap “newsprint” paper, it does not copy satisfactorily) presenting Starhawk‘s debut; while #40 (dated 20 October 1979) featuring on its back page the aptly-titled: Gallery Of Heroes, and that week’s subject?
It IS (please pardon the pun) the droid that Brad‘s been looking for!!
Amazed to learn that Droid came equipped with such a cool array of gadgets: his “eyes” were actually highly sophisticated radar sensors; a medipak, computer, scanners and vidcams installed in his chest; an Impulse Unit was attached to his right hip; a repair kit fitted to his left thigh; a communicator built into his wrist; and – get this! – lasers AND “space blasters” loaded in EACH arm!
The text added:
“But Droid has another more important function. He can pilot the Space Raider – Starhawk’s battlecraft – by remote control… He can also aim and fire the ship’s weapons. So Droid is the perfect side-kick for Starhawk…”
Oh, so much more than a mere “side-kick” as finally getting to perusing this forgotten nugget in British comics history would reveal…
Of course, as we all know, by the 26th century, the Terran Empire is in serious decline:
“…survival once again depended on the swiftness of a man’s gun. Chaos reigned in solar systems that had reverted to barbarism (hence the men wearing pleated mini-skirts…?), but one man stood for law and order. His name, Sol Rynn, known as…
Interestingly, ultimately, this Sol cuts quite a drab figure, nothing more than a typical, one-dimensional blond galactic hero. Ironically, his only merit is that his co-pilot is a robot! Droid, on the other hand, comes across as cool, clever and regularly cracks wry remarks pertaining to the human condition. Even his tendency to address his mundane “master” as “Mister Rynn” is classy in itself.
Thus, the revelation struck me:
‘Twas NOT this ordinary protagonist, but his extraordinary partner, who had captured my imagination all those years ago!
Perhaps the traditional low-key status of robots in SF, plus his dull, inconsequential name, had prevented him from making a more significant impact on my sensors. But now – it’s been too long – he (not it, he) is back in my life, and in my collection. And he’s here to STAY.
As Asimov professed, there is no reason why intelligent machines should not be considered good people.
Thus, rather than the happenstance of flesh and blood, through the capacities of wit, moral behaviour and rational thought can a being rightfully claim recognition as human.
To that end, then, rather than rediscovering my very first favourite comic character, this feels more like reuniting with my oldest friend.