Good! Let The VIII Flow Through You!: First Impressions Of The Last Jedi

Breathe. Just Breathe. Now Reach Out.

What Do You See?

Green Greedo: “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

Han Solo: “Yes, I bet you have...”

“When I read VIII, I told Rian, ‘I fundamentally disagree with virtually everything you’ve decided about my character’,” Mark Hamill said before embarking on filming Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Although Mark swiftly changed his mind and had a blast resurrecting the character with which he will always be associated with, immediately, this statement turned out to be the most worrisome aspect of this latest instalment. If it was “shocking” for Mark to read what Rian had written, then how is it going to make us feel?!

Personal reservations about new characters and contentious plot developments for established characters – not to mention unease concerning where the last two episodes will lead – have somewhat lessened the eager anticipation which so many fans have revelled in and blogged about these past few months.

Nevertheless, it is thrilling to have NEW Star Wars magic within our grasp once more and, obviously, both of you are itching to read what this first generation fanboy has to say about it, so, away we go…

“It was incredible! The perception of these films is that they’re all planned out on a secret sheet of paper in advance, but that’s just not the case. I wasn’t given an outline of where it goes or even a list of things to hit. It really was just, ‘Okay, what’s next?'” – Rian Johnson.

“Who is Luke Skywalker now?” asked Rian Johnson as he set out to fulfil a dream and write the script for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

“I grew up with an idea of who Luke was, so the real question was why is Luke on that island? Luke’s no coward… so there must be some reason he’s there that makes sense to him. That was the first nut to crack. The seed for the whole story was inside that shell. I just had to get to it.”

Caught up with Looper (2012) earlier this year, to get acquainted with Johnson’s directorial style. Fortunately, it is an intelligent and fantastic time travel SF thriller, and assured us that Star Wars VIII looked to be in more-than-capable hands.  

From a certain point of view, The Force Awakens was great fun, even though, yes, we didn’t need the rehashed New Hope tropes of another Death Star and “vital information” placed in a droid-unit etc. etc. Unfortunately, the film’s main hindrance lay in JJ Abrams direction. Solo’s demise seemed inevitable, but the whole confrontation between Han and Ben sorely lacked the dramatic heft it deserved.

And although John William’s score was suitably moving as Rey clambered up Skellig Michael to find Luke, this pivotal sequence still looked too bland. This former Archaeology student realised the problem – he instantly recognised the locationAdd an extra planet in a sky that maybe should have been tinted a wildly different colour. Maintain the impression that we are indeed in a galaxy far, far away and not just off the coast of Ireland, please… 

 

Also, savour again this classic, endearing moment from The Empire Strikes Back:

“Where’s my boyfriend? I like that Wookie” – Maz Kanata.

Let’s face it, Chewie would have stampeded up those Skellig steps faster and more enthusiastically than Rey – not mope around outside the Falcon! Half-expected him to do so, as well! How long is it since he last saw Luke?! Besides, he had just lost his scruffy-lookin’ best buddy, but Abrams NEVER allowed him the screen-time to grieve! 

Would not be surprised to discover that our fave Wookie will be similarly underused in The Last Jedi. 

Come ON – let the Wookie scene-steal!

*

Thankfully – judging from early reviews, this movie seems to be a positive upgrade, but just poses so many questions: 

Will Rey turn to the Dark Side?

Will Kylo learn the difference between right and Ren? 

Will General Hux really get the most laughs?!

Will this episode answer ANY of these questions (and plenty more too innumerable to type)..?! 

Hello… …?

“Episode eightgosh… The first film didn’t even have a number…” – Anthony Daniels. 

 

“It’s the first time I’ve been on set not yet knowing what the character’s gonna look like. I mean, talk about secrecy!” – Andy Serkis.  

For me, it has reached the point where speculation surrounding “Supreme Leader” Snoke supersedes everything else, including that other Starkiller-sized mystery of the galaxy: Rey’s parentage. There is an overwhelming urge to suss out who this creep is – and where he came from. 

Presumably, he is very ancient, very powerful. One thing is certain: the name is bogus. Has to be. 

In The Force Awakens, listening to characters as diverse as Leia and Nux saying “Snoke” with a straight face was something else. 

However, does the REAL villain of this Episode lurk elsewhere..?

It is telling that Rian Johnson has mentioned how Snoke is the (ahem) snokescreen for where the true drama – and shocks – lie… 

The above poster is included here to emphasise the following point. Notice here how Luke is bathed in red: traditionally associated with the Empire. With evil. Also, see how large he looms, as Vader used to do on the OT posters…

Dark Side or not, what intrigues me the most about this episode is learning additional details about the background story of Luke’s quest for the first Jedi temple, and how he lost his padawan – his nephew – to Snoke, thus compelling our hero to retreat in shame(?) to a remote sector of the galaxy.

Tell me, OLD Luke, what brings you out this far… …? 

“Oh baby, would I love to play my own evil twin…We could watch this guy undermining the good guys secretly, maybe even killing a supporting character… And then, of course, the good Luke shows up” –  Mark Hamill. 

“Are they puffin-like? Are they pug-like…? One, in particular, befriends Chewie. I won’t spoil it, but if you think the ones you’ve seen in the trailer are cute, you have not seen anything yet” – Neal Scanlan. 

Difficult to see, the plot is. 

When you consider how Star Wars is now Disney property, it’s all too easy to fear the worst. Your correspondent, regrettably, can see it now: Jedi Master Luke and his plucky porg posse break into Snoke’s Throne Room. 

Epic lightsaber duel ensues.

(Hopefully it will NOT be as inspid and seven hours too frickin’ long as that soulless saber-swingfest from Episode III).

Just when the Leader looks to be too Supreme for his own good(bad?) Luke extends his robot hand and Force-propels Snoke back; at the last minute, the villain trips over a wall of porgs, and – like Maul and Sidious – hurtles to his doom down one of those expensive, albeit superfluous, CG-chasms.

Later, as the hangar explodes and disintegrates all around them, and they must go their separate ways, Porg Chief Berni Two-Socks (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of course) looks up with those ubercute oversized black eyes, tears a-swellin’, and chirps:

“Gee, Mr. Luke, not bad fer a Longshanks! The boys are gonna miss ya, an’… aww shucks, Ah’m-a gonna miss ya too…”

Trust me, there will NOT be a dry eye in the (full) house…

Uff, typical Disney fluff! 

On second thoughts, methinks mayhap this grizzled ol’ nerfherder should DELAY his trip to the local popcorn parlour this week. And wait to be seriously disappointed in the comfort of his own Sanctum Sanctorum when XIII starts “streamin’ on Nitflex” (or whatever the younglings call that dashfangled gogglebox-contraption)…

“The Last Jedi felt more visceral. The first film felt like a dream” – Daisy Ridley. 

Before hitting Publish, it would be fitting to finish with a nice little anecdote from – oh yes – a long time ago when ONLY TWO Star Wars movies existed, but for me and my gang of mates, we were just DAYS away from the release of Return Of The Jedi. 

At the time, a British magazine called Voyager – concentrating on movies, model kits and space/astronomy news(!) – published an invaluable article discussing The Genesis Of “The Star Wars.” Reckoned it would be a great service to proclaim that instead of three movies we could – one day – enjoy all NINE episodes of The Journal Of The Whills.

They all looked at me as if Admiral Motti had just dissed The Force. 

Bumfluff growled and hissed bitterly: “Jeez, Brad, you’re so full o’ Bantha doo-doo it’s unreal!”

True story…

It would also be lovely to round off this post by stating that as we all prepare to watch The Last Jedi, it’s nice to know that Brad will be having the last laugh.

But will it – can it – really make for a joyous cinema experience? Yet again, yours truly just can’t bring himself to describe how difficult ’twill be to sit through the late, great Carrie Fisher’s last-ever screen performance.

Definitely, there are grim tidings ahead. Having lost Han Solo in VII, we must prepare for Leia’s fate in this episode, but also – although one does not like to dwell on such disconcerting matters too much – Luke will probably not see the end of IX…

 

WAIT a moisture-farmin’ minute here… 

What if Luke gets killed off in VIII?!?! 

What ELSE can account for Mark’s misgivings and the “considerable risks” rumoured to have been taken by Rian with this far, far away material?

Who else has a bad feeling about this?

We must be cautious…

Breathe. Just Breathe… …

 

“What a piece of junk!” – Luke Skywalker. 

How fitting that Episode VIII should be released in the year of Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary. 

Is it really FORTY YEARS since the world we thought we knew changed forever…?

“…A script arrived on my dressing table. When I opened it and found that it was science fiction I thought: oh crumbs, this is simply not for me…

“The dialogue was pretty ropey, but I had to go on turning the page… That is an essential in any script…” – Alec Guinness.

 

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The Journey Of Bradskald: My Reimmersion In Norse Mythology

 The Realm Eternal: Asgard – The Beacon Of Hope, Shining Out Across The Stars

And A Source Of Limitless Possibilities For My Fiction…

“Once, mankind accepted a simple truth: that they were not alone in this universe. Some worlds Man believed home to their Gods. Others they knew to fear…” – Odin All-Father. 

There was a great noise of shouting and fury in the Palace of Jotunheim where the great Norse Giants lived.

“What have you done, Rungnir?” some of the Giants were shouting at one of their number. “You have agreed to fight the great god Thor! You are mad, quite mad!”

“Thor is our greatest enemy, Rungnir,” other Giants cried in alarm. “…You have brought disaster upon us! Not even a Giant can resist Thor with his mighty thunder and his deadly hammer Mjolnir!”

Aye!

And no one can resist the God of Thunder as his latest adventure: Thor: Ragnarok has conquered the box office (and deservedly so) on Midgard (Earth) this past fortnight. Having thrilled me with its wholesome cosmic fun, Thor: Ragnarok slings me back along the Bifrost of nostalgia to a time when all-things-Norse were craved. The more scintillating aspects of that mythology seeped – wholeheartedly or inadvertently – into my own otherworldly works.

So, away from the hassle, tech difficulties and trolls of the 21st century, and let’s return to the great beards, moody Giants (and Trolls) of the Nine Realms.

Pre-Christian Vikings shared a common view of the universe. The one insurmountable truth held that the Norse pantheon of gods, known as the Æsir, made their home at Asgard. This is a compound name, whose first part As- refers to the Æsir, while the second part gard means an ‘enclosure.’ Hence Asgard is ‘the enclosed region where the Æsir live.’

In order to understand the rudiments of Norse mythology, one must refer to The Prose Edda – the most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology – written by the 13th century Icelandic chieftain: Snorri Sturluson (1178-1241). Mayhap ’twas the un-Viking way in which he met his own violent end against the King of Norway’s assassins – cowering in his own cellar – helps explain why his name is not hailed among other historical literary giants.

However, through his seminal work, numerous Old Norse words crept into the English language; for one, it is from Sturluson that we get the word: ‘saga.’

“The Prose Edda… summarizes the pagan Germanic myths and reviews the rules of skaldic rhetoric. The mythology documented in these texts reveals an earlier, peasant stratum (associated with the thunderer, Thor)…” – Joseph Campbell. 

“I came up with Thor. I know all about Thor, and Mjolnir, the hammer. Nobody ever bothered with that stuff except me. It was the thing that kept my mind off the general poverty in the area. When I went to school that’s what kept me in school. It wasn’t mathematics and it wasn’t geography – it was history…” – Jack Kirby.

“…Thor is the foremost among them. Called Thor of the Æsir [Asa-Thor] and Thor the Charioteer [Oku-Thor], he is the strongest of all gods and men. He rules at the place called Thrudvangar [Plains of Strength], and his hall is called Bilskirnir…” –

Gylfaginning 21.

Before the Viking Age, in a time known as the Migration Period (from the fifth to the seventh centuries CE), when various tribes laid siege to the last remnants of the Roman Empire, numerous heroic stories originated, formulating a tremendous Scandinavian oral tradition.

The most substantial section of The Prose Edda, is known as Gylfaginning, in which the characters we have become accustomed to via Marvel’s comics and movies – the Æsir, namely Thor, Odin, Loki, Heimdall, et al. – were originally introduced.

Of equal intrigue in the Eddas is the portion called Skaldskaparmal. Skald is the Old Norse word for ‘poet,’ or ‘scribe’; skapr means ‘creation’ or ‘craft’; mal is ‘language’ or ‘diction’ – thus Skaldskaparmal means the ‘language of poetry.’ This section in particular – a combination of dialogue and third-person storytelling – collects those oral traditions that arose from this Migration Period. 

The most celebrated hero of Skaldskaparmal is Sigurd the dragon-slayer. He and his treasure: the Rhine Gold, not only formed the basis for the Saga of the Volsungs and Thidrek’s Saga, but the epic poem of South Germany: the Nibelungenlied, wherein Sigurd is known as Siegfried. Classical composer Richard Wagner made Siegfried the hero of his epic Ring Cycle opera: Der Ring des Nibelungen. 

Thus, the epic prose of Norse mythology converted into epic music.

As you may have gathered, music has always played a decisive, inspirational role in my creative writing. Whenever epic storytelling had to be undertaken, nothing like Wagner could set the right mood, tone and atmosphere for conjuring the right words. Admittedly, my jaw-dropping introduction to the wonders of Wagner‘s music came through watching Excalibur, John Boorman’s lavish 1981 depiction of the Celtic legend of King Arthur and his Grail knights. 

Interestingly, incorporated into Skaldskaparmal is the story of the ancient Danish warrior King Hrolf Kraki, who – much like King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table – was accompanied on his multifarious exploits by a dozen champions.  

“The universe hasn’t seen this marvel since before my watch began. Few can sense it, even fewer can see it. But while its effects can be dangerous, it is truly beautiful” – Heimdall.  

If a Ragnarok would burn all the slums and gas-works… I’d go back to trees…” – J.R.R. Tolkien. 

“The gods seated themselves on their thrones and held counsel, and remembered how dwarfs had quickened in the earth…

By the decree of the gods they acquired human understanding and the appearance of men, although they lived in the earth…” 

There is clear evidence that John Ronald Reuel Tolkien – Oxford Professor of Old English/Anglo-Saxon and Middle English language and literature – used the Edda as inspiration for his literature. Many of the names he used in his most celebrated works: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were taken from this source material. 

Like the One Ring of Sauron, an all-powerful ring: Andvarinaut, forms the basis of Der Ring des Nibelungen. 

“Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases,” Tolkien insisted, keen to assuage his critics. Nevertheless, the figure of Gandalf – named after one of the dwarves mentioned in The Edda – was particularly influenced by Odin in his incarnation as “The Wanderer”: an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff.

Tolkien’s depiction of Giants, Elves and Dwarves are very much drawn from the Old Norse originals. And – oh yes – an extra slice of cake for those of you who spotted that the Balrog of Moria and the collapse of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm was an exact rendering of fire-giant Surt[ur]’s destruction of Asgard’s Bifrost [the Rainbow Bridge]!

And so, you enquire – cleaving this rambling prose in twain like the fabled blade of Andúril isself! – how did Norse mythology inspire me?

Ah yes – just like King Kirby – bored senseless by Geography homework, my impatient, cartographic mind escaped, instead, into creating my own fantasy world, fuelled by Fighting Fantasy gamebooks – “where YOU are the hero!” – which became all the rage for much of the 80s. 

Aeons ago – almost lost in the mists of time – at the dawn of the Teen Age 😉 Bradskald created Atlansia. 

In the accompanying “Atlansian Manual,” maps of both West and East Atlansia – plus the islands of Thalios and Kalonth – were meticulously drafted. As for the fantasy epic that threatened to come to fruition, in true Tolkien style, long ago (of course), along the northeast coast of Atlansia, Sentinels from the Ion Hills constructed the Great Wall of Mithris, to deter the advancing evil-most-foul hordes of Doragar (a sorcerous crossbreed of Orcs and Trolls).

Scouring my yellowed and crumpled pages again after all these years, the Norse inspiration still shines through: Frost Giants reigned in the Icypeak Mountains to the far north; Dwarfs kept themselves to themselves high in the rocky citadels of the Moonstone Hills; while down to the southeast, Elves dwelt deep within the Silver Forest… 

Amazing to think how this exotic – yet extraordinary – Bradworld has lain dormant and unexplored for over three decades… 

Ha, if those brazen berserkers – the Doragar – should decide, once more, to raid and plunder the hamlets to the east, then doughty Bradskald will sally forth – trusty broadsword: Fopslayer slung across his back – to smite the unholy threat. 

Or maybe he will just remain atop the ancient Book Tower in ye olde village of Crickhaven and simply write off said hordes with a (hopefully deft) flick of his mighty quill

 

“Bradskald…?! I thought he was a myth…” 😉

“This book is called Edda. Snorri Sturluson compiled it in the way that it is arranged here. First it tells about the Æsir [the gods] and Ymir [the primordial giant], then comes the poetic diction section with the poetic names of many things…” – Codex Upsaliensis. 

 

“From Ymir’s flesh 
was the earth created,
from the bloody sweat, the sea,
cliffs from bones,
trees frow hair,
and from the head, the heavuns;

And from his eyelashes 
the gentle gods made
Midgard for the sons of men;
and from his brains
all the oppressive
clouds were formed” – The Lay of Grimnir 40-41. 

 

Með krafti Bradskald! Borðuðu köku og vertu glaður!

By The Power Of Bradskald!  🙂

 

Here’s To Hela: The Girl With The Awesome Antlers

A Dance With The Goddess Of The Underworld 

“I thought you’d be glad to see me!” – Hela.  

In this unpredictable universe, Norse mythology first came to my attention in the most unlikeliest form… a comic book. Out of all the ishs that could have introduced me to the God of Thunder, so glad ’twas The Mighty Thor #314 (December 1981). As explained in this Post: the bonus feature: Tales Of Asgard: Judgment… And Lament just blew me away.

Who in the Hel could that tall, elegant, yet deadly, lady, clad in a green and black one-piece, be? Wielding such an elaborate headdress, she had single-handedly slain ALL NINE of Odin’s Valkyries, and recast Valhalla in the same grim and mist-beset manner as her own dread-realm of Niffleheim.

Our eyes met across a crowded comic book…

So accustomed to the dreary Western European concept of Death as a hooded skeleton wielding a scythe, Hela turned out to be quite a life-changing revelation. 

What was the significance of the green colour system? Moreover, what was it with those bizarre, yet impressive, horns?! To me, my tomes of esoteric knowledge!

“You look like a smart boy…” 

My quest to find out more concerning this dark enchantress began with the most reliable option: The Prose Edda – the renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature – written by the 13th century Icelandic chieftain: Snorri Sturluson.

Daughter of Loki (in both the original mythological tales and The Mighty Thor comic) and Angrboda [Sorrow Bringer] – an ogress who lived in Jotunheim (Giant Land) – Hel is the sister of Fenris (aka Fenrir) the giant wolf and Jormungand the Midgard serpent – NOT Thor and Loki as depicted in the latest movie!

In The Prose Edda, the passage known as Gylfaginning 34 states:

“When the gods discovered that these three siblings were being brought up in Giant Land – they learned through prophecies that misfortune and evil were to be expected from these children…

“Hel Odin threw down into Niflheim and made her ruler over nine worlds…”

“Her hall is called Eljudnir, [Sprayed With Snowstorms] her dish is Hunger, her knife is Famine, her slave is Lazy…

“The threshold over which people enter is a pitfall called Fallandaforad [Falling To Peril], her bed is named Kor [Sick Bed], and her bed curtains are named Blikjandabol [Gleaming Disaster]. She is half black and half a lighter flesh colour and is easily recognised. Mostly she is gloomy and cruel.” 

It is important to note that half her body (and half her face) is corpse-like, although this point was never accentuated in the comic books. 

Hela’s billowing green cloak somehow ensures that her metabolism is kept stable – take her cloak away and she would, theoretically, wither away into nothingness but then, she is far too strong and powerful to allow anyone near her…

Thor: “Mine enchanted hammer shall lead thee far from Earth… as only Mjolnir can. Then when I have lost her… Thor shall strike once more. But Hela shall not know the where or when…”

Hela: “Flight is useless. To Hela all of time and space are one. There is no time – there is no place – where death does not hold sway.”  

Hela made her debut in the Marvel Comics Universe in Journey Into Mystery #102 Death Comes to Thor (1964) adapted from Norse mythology by the masters themselves: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. 

Hela possesses attributes common to Asgardian gods: superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility and durability – and vast mystical powers which she can use for various effects like limitless astral projection while retaining many of her powers and abilities, firing deadly bolts of energy from her hands, levitation and the creation of illusions. Her most powerful ability is her Hand of Glory, a technique that uses mystical energy to enhance the strength of her punch to kill even an Asgardian.

Intriguingly, during her very first Marvel appearance, the Goddess Of Death is instrumental in Thor gaining Mjolnir. How ironic then, that Thor: Ragnarok contains that now-iconic scene in which she shatters that very same hammer!

That’s Hela for you – as unpredictable as death isself…

Stand thee back, Asgardians! Hela must now gather all of the awesome enchanted power at her command! Gaze in unheralded wonder as she doth conjure a monumental spell which shall seal yonder pit into its own accursed dimension forevermore!”  

Only last month did the sensational #190 (July 1971) come into my disbelieving grasp. Paid twice as much as usual for this. But no matter – …And So To Die! is an EPIC – and one of THE most moving – stories of the Bronze Age. Odin is prepared to eliminate Hera once and for all, but how can Order be maintained if ’tis bereft of Death?

And so Thor agrees to forfeit his life. But his beloved Lady Sif – shocked to learn of this ploy – pleads with Hela to save the God of Thunder’s life:

Sif: “Hela! Though thou be the Queen of Death, thou art a woman, too – surely, love hath touched thine heart?”

Hela: “Why speakest thou to me of love?”

Feelings wert awakened within me… feelings of compassion… desire… and love. At long last, Hela knew what it meant to be a woman, but I be Goddess of Death, as well… and can ne’er consummate these longings… for all I touch turns to dust, a tragedy ne’er to be resolved…”

If my Top 10 Fave Comics In The Bradscribe Collection were compiled now, expect to find this ish riding high in that chart. 

Loki: “Hela, time and again have I striven to become Ruler of Asgard only to be blocked at every turn by Odin and Thor… ‘Tis my wish to cause the fall of the realm – aye, no less than Ragnarok – the Twilight of the Gods!” 

Hela“Long hath Hela waited to hear thee say those words, God of Evil! Thou hast come to one who can help thee… one who profits greatly by the deaths of gods or mortals…”  

In #278 Time of the Trolls (November 1978)Hela plotted with Loki to bring about Ragnarök by slaying the god Balder then attacking Asgard. She summoned Volla’s spirit before this to tell her and Loki about Ragnarok, after which she prepared an army of monsters to attack Asgard. However, Odin used his powers to prevent Balder dying.

Although her role in this story is too brief for my liking, the panels she does get to own are suitably formidable. 

‘Twas a time when Roy Thomas and John Buscema were at the peak of their respective powers… 

Hvað varstu guðin aftur?” 

And a portrait of Hela by the great Charles Vess – this just gets better and better! 

“Now… tell us more than thou didst tell Odin! Draw aside the veil – further than ’twas drawn before!” 

Well, it never seemed possible that a character as remarkable as Hela could ever reach the big screen. After disappointing interpretations of certain members of the X-Men – and Drax The Destroyer – there were nothing but misgivings regarding her cinematic debut in Thor: Ragnarok.

Fortunately, with some memorable badass lines and a phenomenal performance by Cate Blanchett, her onscreen presence is a triumph, even if it barely scratches the surface of this tantalising – yet tragic – character.

Recently in the comics, Hela has, apparently, begun hanging out with the death-worshipping Thanos. Can we, therefore, expect to see this formidable couple together in Avengers: Infinity War?!

The case continues… 

 

More Thorsomeness Next Thorsday!

“Cate Blanchett is just brilliant as Hela. She is one of the greatest actors… I was so excited to see what she was going to do with Hela… I was completely blindsided by the outcome. She just has this insane off-kilter attitude or look or kind of movement to her character” – Chris Hemsworth. 

 

“Asgardians… farewell.

When next I come,

not all thy tears… 

not all thy pleas… 

shall stay me…

Till then, rejoice!

Ye have each other

while Hela endures… alone…” 

 

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.

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. 

 

“The Female Man”: Issues Of Gender And Feminism In SF

Hey Man, The Future Is Female…

“After reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s work, I began to think about how women could explore alternate biologies and societies for their benefit. That’s the sign of good science fiction” – Marge Piercy.  

“The enormous appeal of science fiction is the ability to change just one or two small variables and see what could happen,” says writer Marge Piercy, whose 1976 novel: Woman On The Edge Of Time has become a feminist SF classic. “Up until [The Left Hand Of Darkness (1969)] most science fiction had assumed binary gender throughout the universe. She writes of a world where gender is irrelevant and sexuality completely fluid…” 

Aeons ago, when Brad was… oh, about that high, there was an easy peasy way to tell the difference between boys and girls: 

boys loved sci-fi –girls did not = it was that simple.

Nowadays, of course, such a statement sounds so trite and patronising… not to mention simple-minded. Encouragingly, more than ever before, there is active female participation in science fiction, whether it be reading novels or comics, or – better still – producing a new wave of critically-and-commercially-acclaimed material. 

As this Post will show, not only has the number of female SF writers grown, but the genre has always had a healthy history of influential female involvement.

Recalling those longlost schooldays, it would now appear that those attempts by girls to run off with our Star Wars figures signified concerted efforts to break barriers and expectations and try to infiltrate this exotic-looking Boy’s Club. Back then, of course, the very notion of ACTUALLY TALKING TO GIRLS about comics, spaceships, transdimensional engineering and the inner workings of

Mennotor 430 Neural Inhibitors seemed so… far out – as unlikely as…

as BBC’s Doctor Who ever changing into a woman…

“I wish my successor, whoever he or she might be, the best of luck… I think it might be quite nice to have a woman…” – Tom Baker.

Having established that the Doctors could transmogrify into another aspect of this particular character, then there was no real limit to the number of Doctors or the sex of the Doctors,” remarked Patrick Troughton, the second actor to play this particular character (between 1966-69).

In July, the biggest SF news happened to be the announcement of the next regen(d)eration of Gallifrey’s most famous Time Lord; this year’s Christmas special will mark the debut of Jodie Whittaker – the first woman to portray the Doctor since the series began in 1963. There came a point during the most recent season in which the current Doctor (played by lifelong-Whovian Peter Capaldi) explains – to his gobsmacked companion – how his race long ago transcended the whole gender-thing, and you think – aha! – better prepare for something pretty unprecedented here… 

When avidly watching the series back in the early ’80s, this boy – who constructed his own sonic screwdriver, used his own wardrobe as his TARDIS, and brought Teddy Edwards along as his own companion (aah bless!) – would have baulked at the prospect of having an actress in the titular role; now, of course, that prospect is in keeping with the fresh and innovative nature of the show and should be warmly welcomed.     

But Jodie will need a truly exceptional writer to make her tenure work…

On the threshold of making SF TV history, Whittaker said she felt “beyond excited to begin” reinvigorating the BBC’s longest-running SF series. Certainly, Verity Lambert – the producer responsible for bringing Doctor Who to television screens in 1963, would have been absolutely delighted with this news…

“[The Female Man is] a wonderfully inventive novel – this interplanetary exploration of feminist inner space, this sophisticated, playful fantasy book is, of course, all about reality” – Phyllis Chester.   

“You simply can’t underplay how ground-breaking it was,” remarked Yasmin Khan – advisor to the “Into the Unknown: A Journey Thro Science Fiction,” a major exhibition held in London this past summer – referring to Sultana’s Dream, written as early as 1905, in Bengal, by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (then aged just 25). “Raised in an upper-class Muslim family, she was denied a social education, like many women at that time.” 

Appalled by the social injustice inflicted on women, she created “Ladyland”: a technologically advanced matriarchy where women monopolize all freedoms, while men are secluded in the “madana,” a play on the Urdu word zenana (women’s quarters).

Imagined futures, and speculative concepts – the very styff on which science fiction has always thrived – should be enhanced and enriched by adding female perspectives.

The Female Man by Joanna Russ is a principal go-to game-changer in feminist SF, conducting a powerful and uncompromising critique, both of society and the patriarchal framework of sci-fi itself. Her writing offers “strong, witty female protagonists whose understanding supersedes the status games and repressive obsessions that occupy the other characters, often representatives of far-future societies that parody our own.”

Apart from confronting issues of genger and sexuality, as far as publishers were concerned, the matter of the author’s sex – and her sexual orientation – were considered a hindrance at that time. Nevertheless, the novel helped to begin tear down boundaries not just in SF, but in women’s literature in general. 

Its status as an all-time masterpiece has been recognised by Gollancz who fortunately included in their SF Masterworks series. Thus, unlike the other titles mentioned here, The Female Man CAN be found in my local library… 

“Traditionally, people turn to science fiction in times of political crisis.”

Cue The Handmaid’s Tale (1986) by Margaret Atwood, a dystopian noveland now Emmy-award-winning TV serialso timely and monumental, it deserves its own blog post…

“I’m a pessimist if I’m not careful, a feminist, a Black… an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive” – Octavia Butler.

“Considered one of the most creative, unique, and innovative science fiction writers of her generation,” is how feminist scholar Professor Rebecca Hankins describes Octavia Butler (1947-2006) – one of a scant number of African-American writers working in this genre. “Never one to sugar coat our existence, Butler’s writing always centres on women as independent, fierce, and unapologetic heroines.”

Her work also helped eradicate the genre’s entrenched science fiction image as “male, pale and stale.” She created a shape-shifting, gender-fluid creature in Wild Seed; a post-apocalyptic mute in Dawn; and the determined daughter in the Patternist series.

Therefore (one abhors having to admit this), because she does not fit the white male norm expected in the genre, this explains precisely why this SF “aficionado” has been deprived of all knowledge pertaining to this marvellous talent for so long. Moreover, it is a crying shame that her gender and ethnicity have proved a hindrance to her seemingly-deserved exalted status among the SF hierarchy. 

As for actually getting round to reading her masterworks? 

Well, not yet… 

It comes as no shock to learn that her books are unavailable in the half-dozen public libraries near me…

You want Arthur C. Clarke? 

He’s right here. 

Itching for Philip K. Dick? 

He’s over there. 

Do they have Isaac Asimov?

Are you kidding me? A whole shelf is devoted to his sizeable back catalogue…

Dread to ask the librarians if they stock ANY Octavia Butler:

“Oh, I’m sorry, we don’t have him…”

“Her works are an ongoing inspiration,” Professor Hankins continued: “…not only to black women writers, but to all of us to push the boundaries and imagine new fairer worlds.”

“Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen” – Margaret Atwood.

And while we’re on the subject of gender, you may be delighted to learn that – in the spirit of these enlightened fluid and flexible times – Brad will be changing gender as well. Henceforth, address all e-mails/Comments to Angelina.

Seriously though, an increasing number of media work is geared towards women writing exclusively for an all-female readership. Look at the subjects requested: history, psychology, sociologynothing gender normative about them. Nonetheless, in order to get more work in the online 21st century environment, this is the measure one must take to ensure a steady supply of cake in one’s larder…

*

Finally, let’s finish on an amusing – and thoroughly English – note.

That legend of prime-time evening entertainment: Kenny Everett provided the very first time this bunny saw any man in drag. They must have had a marvellous time making these shows – the production crew couldn’t help but laugh.

There are no SF-related vids here, but there may never come a more appropriate opportunity to show this classic sketch.

While compiling this Post, it was heartening to learn that Billy Connolly is due to receive a knighthood. 

Well, huzzah! Arise, Sir Billy!

Or should that be Dame…?

 

The Power Of Warlock: The Golden Boy Of Counter-Earth

Adam And The Angst…

“Do you feel it? The sheer, awful agony…? For, uncanny your sacred mission… unearthly your weirdling powers… And, beholding them, men shall call you Warlock!”  – The High Evolutionary. 

By Thanos!

How difficult can it be these days to actually complete and Publish single Blog Post?! Very, as it turned out.

The latest comics round-up is proving to be an arduous task; perhaps a movie review would help, but… of what? Nothing outstanding enough to entice me into the nearest popcorn parlour; and you were treated to a music compilation in my last Post, so – what to do?!

“Why?! Why have the fates so conspired against me?” 

No, these are not my words (not like me to despair, by Jove!!) but a quote from that other misunderstood blond hunk: Adam Warlock – a golden-skinned red-clad figure with the most voluminous cloak in comic book history. 

Yes, in a higgledy-piggledy roundabout way, my concentration somehow locked onto a cosmic fella borne through the stars… in a cocoon. Weirder things have come to pass on this site (but none come to mind as yet). Adam holds a particular fascination for me, primarily because he is one of the Marvel canon’s more unusual characters.

You probably don’t know anything about him, other than his suggested appearance in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3. This is understandable. From a certain point of view, his obscurity has lent to his status as a cult figure within the Marvel pantheon.

My 200th Post(!) – rapidly approaching! – will feature a Countdown of:

My All-Time Fave Comic Book Characters

so considered it best to practice by compiling a Profile on this enigmatic subject. 

Notice (above) the distinctive style of Jack Kirby (what would have been his 100th birthday this past week was honoured by the comics industry and various bloggers) and see what happens when Gil Kane gets hold of this cosmic character (below):

“Don’t be afraid!! I will stay with you! I have known another like you – one who is also powerful… but who needs understanding… and compassion! For the sake of the love I feel for him… I will not desert you!”  – Sue Storm. 

In the beginning, Adam Warlock was known merely as “HIM,” and treated as a Messianic figure. Just like trying to pinpoint how/where the fascinati0n of this character lies, so attempting to work out those responsible for created him poses a particularly perplexing nitscratcher…

While one source states that the 1st appearance of Him can be seen in Fantastic Four #66 (February 1966 – written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby), another states that his full debut sgould be attributed to The Mighty Thor #165-166 (June–July 1969). However! As soon as Roy Thomas and Gil Kane collaborated on the first issues of Marvel Premiere (culminating in the first issues of The Power of Warlock) then the character received proper development.

The High Evolutionary: “a tormented man-god experimenting in ways so cosmic and radical as to threaten his sanity,” creator of the animal-headed New Men, including Man-Beast – his most unruly progeny (and one of the few vividly-remembered supporting characters from my earliest comic-guzzling days!) finds an extraordinary objecta giant cocoon – picked up within range of his space-scanning Scopitron

Apart from “ultra-strength, paranormal reflexes and the power of levitation,” Adam’s most potent weapon is the vampire Soul Gem, encrusted in his forehead – that’s right – it’s the one Infinity Stone we are yet to see in the MCU!

 

warlock-11-chapter-5-inbetweener

The Magus: “You planned all this, didn’t you…? Warlock wiping out my forces… rushing him inyo the time stream before he could truly realize what he’s about to do… it was all planned! 

“WHY?!” 

Thanos: “Because you are a creature of chaos and order… purpose… LIFE! So, being a creature of vast power, you may some day oppose that which I worship! For I am a dreamer of tranquillity… non-purpose…

“DEATH!”

Adam‘s solo series, The Power of Warlock first appeared in (August) 1972 – “devoted to the superhero your letters have proclaimed the most unique in the history of comix!”

#10 (1975) is a mesmerising – albeit difficult to track down – classic (in every sense of this grossly overused label.) Here, Roy Thomas and Gil Kane bring the cosmic man Earth, where he is discovered by a group of teens. While The High Evolutionary named him “Warlock,” so these kids call him “Adam.” It is during this series where both epithets become fused into the name by which he’s thenceforth identified.

The writer/artist with which Adam Warlock is most synonymous happens to be Jim Starlin, who once related how he took this Messianic figure and made him complicated(!) With The Power of Warlock #10 (1975) he created a quite excellent – not to mention distinctive – form of Bronze Age awesomeness. Part 1 of How Strange My Destiny is a brilliant – if not bonkers – cosmic adventure (reviewed here)

#11 (February 1976) sees our hero: “caught between dark insanity and yet darker reality.” Part 2 – only obtained during this past fortnight! – provides an intriguing and inventive continuation of this classic saga. More psychedelic than Doctor Strange (even on his most trippy dimension-bending shenanigans!) this ish is mesmerizingly illustrated.

The archenemy is the Magus: Adam’s future self(!) and there is a thrilling showdown between The Magus and Thanos who maintains that the Magus can only be destroyed by imploring Adam to destroy himself(?!) hence the title of ish #11: The Strange Death of Adam Warlock…

“You’ve proven yourself a true Warlock. I’ve attacked you with agents of earth, water, fire and air. Yet you’ve survived, for you are truly a master of such things, and so a foe to be reckoned with. That alone is reason enough that you should die… Therefore, Warlock, prepare to be… WHAT!? AGAIN HE’S…

GONE!”

– Star Thief. 

“Your abduction of a portion of my soul caused me great pain, Warlock… Now you shall share that suffering!” – Fire Giant.

Paid double what is usually doled out for these mags, but Warlock #14 (August 1976) Homecoming (Why is every other morsel of mighty Marvel mayhem called Homecoming…?!) is well worth every satang.

Adam must confront an entity known as Star Thief (the astral projection of an incurable invalid on Earth). In the depths of space, Adam fends off whatever psychic force Star Thief conjures against him, whether it be a flock of club-wielding winged demons, a Fire Giant and even a shark By The Great Nebula! – a great white shark chases Adam across the stars!

This far-out adventure does look very familiar…

These later ishs of The Power of Warlock were reprinted in (of all things!) Marvel UK’s Star Wars Weekly (1978); this MAY be the source of my discovery of this character (although they would not have entered my air(head)space until 1979 or 1980…)

Whatever caused this title’s premature demise – cancelled after only fifteen ishs – The Power of Warlock has (deservedly) attained cult status; fortunately, four of them – against seemingly high odds (and almost astronomical prices) – have reached my collection.

“I have come for the emerald gem that throbs at your brow, golden one. Men call me The Stranger! Though I alteady have acquired one such gem, I covet them all!” – The Stranger. 

“Listen, Goldy, you seem pretty handy with the Star Trek bit! How’s about a lift back to Earth? I don’t have any change in my tights, but I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday…” – Spider-Man.

Since the far-too-premature carcellation of his own title, Adam Warlock managed to make some unlikely cameos in other series. This most extraordinary cosmic character could not be any further diametrically opposed to your friendly, neighbourhood wallcrawler, and yet, incredibly, Marvel Team-Up #55 (March 1977) saw them (what else?) team up…

Adam Warlock, pencilled by the great John Byrne, seemed like an irresistible treat. And it most certainly is! Finding himself marooned on the Blue Area of the Moon, Spidey must do battle with The Stranger – a formidable cosmic villain, who made several threatening appearances during the Bronze Age.

A particularly bizzare prevalence during tke ’90s involved resurrecting classic comic characters. Adam Warlock was lumped into this category.

Out of curiosity, #2 (March 1992) of Warlock And The Infinity Watch made its way into my shopping trolley. My fascination with comics soon wore off in the early 90s as most mainstream titles became more moronic, and this ish is no exception. Almost miraculously, Jim Starlin returned to manage the script, but he is let down by the cartoonish style of Angel Medina’s pencils – nope, not heard of him either…

Reappearances by Gamora and Pip fail against the derisory treatment of Drax, and Moondragon’s cameo is wasted. 

SHAME…

warlock-adams-cocoon

“I think I will call him Adam” – Ayesha. 

Now, despite being dropped from Guardians Vol. 2, we can see Adam’s cocoon in The Collector’s Trophy Room during Vol. 1. 

Just when we can gladly expect the golden fella to grace Vol. 3, news that he is NOT expected to debut in next year’s Avengers: Infinity War is nothing short of BEWILDERING. Infinity War, Infinity Watch – you name it, Adam has played major roles in these comics to this end. Heck, to my knowledge, he’s the ONLY being powerful enoughother than Thanos – to have actually wielded the Infinity Gauntlet! 

And – as you have learntAdam possesses the Soul Gem, so he has GOT to play an integral part… surely?! Yours truly loves the MCU as much as you, but its liberties with story-lines are beginning to annoy me…

Once upon a time, it would have seemed really cool to watch my fave comic characters on the big screen, but now…

With knowledge that Adam will become part of th MCU, this news only instils unease within me; primarily, who will play him?

Who can play him…?

Personally, it would be really groovy to see him portrayed by Kevin Bacon (tying in neatly with that snazzy ref to the legend that is Footloose in the first movie), but it will most likely be some-pop-singer-or-equally-cretinous-pop-nerk… and besides, NOBODY gives a fudge what Brad thinks anyway…

*

Of course,  this has been just an Overview of Adam Warlock – a more extensive expedition must set out to discover some of those obscure Strange Tales back ishs and that significant plotline from The Mighty Thor #165-166 (June–July 1969) and other Kane/Starlin classics from the Power of Warlock series, leading to a more concise character study prior to the release of Vol. 3. 

Once again, APOLOGIES for such a delayyyyed Post, but – trust me – the other stuff frantically battered out this past fortnight has fallen waaaay short of my usual mega standards. 

Perhaps Brad needs an extended break from blogging…?

In one ish, Adam Warlock himself voiced my own thoughts so eloquently: 

“My period as this reality’s Supreme Being has been a shattering experience. I fared poorly as a divine entity. I am in dire need of solitude in order to regenerate my spirit and strength.

“This is how it must be. I am sorry.  

“Farewell until we meet again…”

Pip The Troll: “What say we go on down to Mama Alpha’s? I’ll buy you a mug of Ambrosian Wine... and treat myself to a Stinger and a reversed bowl of grud!”

Adam Warlock: “Let’s go have that drink, Pip! I could use it!”