“I Can Do This All Day!”: The BIG Bradscribe MCU Countdown

Brad’s Marvel Movie Marathon Has Led To This Moment: 

Where Will YOUR Favourite Be?

About damn time…” – Nick Fury.

“By Odin’s Bristling Beard!” 

There was an idea…

To bring together nineteen remarkable movies. To see if they could be arranged in Bradtastic order.

Besides, seeing as other bloggers have compiled their charts, it was only a matter of time until the arrangement of This Post. If you click on the title of selected entries, it will take you to that particular Bradscribe Review.

To up the tension, trust me to show additional info, such as the order of MCU movies as determined by IMDB users. 

Plus: the order of ratings (showing each percentage score) on Rotten Tomatoes. 

So, these are what we’re up against FOR:

 

Release Date Order:

  1. Iron Man (May 2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (June 2008)
  3. Iron Man 2 (May 2010)
  4. Thor (May 2011)
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger (July 2011) 
  6. The Avengers (May 2012) 
  7. Iron Man 3 (May 2013)
  8. Thor: The Dark World (November 2013) 
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 2014)
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy (August 2014) 
  11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (April 2015) 
  12. Ant Man (July 2015)
  13. Captain America: Civil War (May 2016)
  14. Doctor Strange (November 2016) 
  15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 2017)
  16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 2017)
  17. Thor: Ragnarok (November 2017)
  18. Black Panther (February 2018)
  19. Avengers: Infinity War (April 2018)

“Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?” – Captain America.

 

19. The Incredible Hulk 

IMDB Ranking: 19

Rotten Tomatoes: 18 (67%)

“Don’t make me hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry” – Bruce Banner.

Not surprisingly, the lowest MCU movie in this – and the IMDB – chart, has the lowest box office gross. No trademark mid or post-credit scenes; no Nick Fury. Its only memorable scene is when the not-so-jolly green giant hurls a tank into the distance – wait! That’s from Ang Lee’s 2003 snoozefest. Duh…

It’s ironic that the strongest being on the planet cannot hold up his own standalone movie. 

And speaking of irony…

 

18. Iron Man 3

IMDB Ranking: 14

Rotten Tomatoes: 13 (80%)

“Is that all you’ve got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?” – Brandt. 

Hard to helieve, but this threequel proved to pe just as boring as the big green fella’s outing.

Hmm – this is NOT the one with Mickey Rourke, right…?

You see, yours truly really struggles with this one – if there was ever a time and opportunity to make The Black Widow Movie it was here…

 

17. Iron Man 2

IMDB Ranking: 16

Rotten Tomatoes: 17 (73%) 

“Tony, you’re too young to understand this right now, so I thought I would put it on film for you. I built this for you… It represents my life’s work. This is the key to the future. I’m limited by the technology of my time, but one day you’ll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world. What is and always will be my greatest creation… is you” – Howard Stark.  

HEY, Mickey! You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey- nah, not really. Nothing worse than having an unintelligible villain. 

Notable for Black Widow’s debut, but there is not much else to commend this outing – pity, because Howard Stark (albeit in archive film) has one of the most moving scenes in the franchise.

On its own, Sam Rockwell’s hotsteppin’ is Top 5 material all week long.

WHOOO, baby! 

 

16. Ant Man

IMDB Ranking: 13

Rotten Tomatoes: 12 (82%)

“Pick on someone your own size!” – Scott Lang. 

When yours truly used to read Ant-Man in Hulk Weekly (where else?) so loooong ago, it NEVER occurred to him that Hank Pym would get his own movie one day. Sfx have reached the stage where this particular hero can be brought to the screen – pity nobody considered getting a good scriptwriter as well…

Paul Rudd turned out to be an ace choice to play Scott Lang/Ant-Man (although everybody preferred him in Civil War), but Michael Douglas as Hank Pym? Not so sure… 

Some thrilling microscopic action scenes but, for me, this entry was spoilt by what Hank dismissed as the “three wombats.” And Darren Cross/Yellowjacket was too bland for my (dis)liking.

Wish there was a way for me to embrace this more – to think that Brad is the biggest Ant-Man fan (Ant-fan?) you will ever know…

 

15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

IMDB Ranking: 8

Rotten Tomatoes: 11 (83%)

Nebula: “All any of you do is yell at each other. You’re not friends.” 

Drax: “You’re right… We’re family.” 

My first viewing was (mostly) agreeable – and heartrending, with the only original member of the Guardians: Yondu Udonta – but remember exiting the cinema somewhat underwhelmed.

The original Guardians of the Galaxy movie was always going to be a tough act to follow, but this effort has plummeted in my estimation since last May. It’s not just the plethora of lame lines, the forgettable opening scene with Ayesha – although it might as well have everything to do with David frickin’ Asslehoff… (>_<)

But the way in which James Gunn casually discarded Quill’s father: J’son simply ‘cos “I don’t like him” STILL rankles in this camp.

Having read more of Starlord’s back story, this movie crumbles even more. Poor Meredith Quill: in the comics she dies heroically trying to protect Peter from the alien mercenaries sent to eliminate his father – but what do we get instead? Call me old-fashioned, but a brain tumour should play no part in such a light and frothy adventure…

That Mixtape is NOT as awesome as it could be. And Vin Diesel’s Alvin Chipmunk impression is not enough. 

Thanks, Taserface, but no thanks…

 

14. Thor

IMDB Ranking: 15

Rotten Tomatoes: 15 (77%)

Thor: “I need a horse!”

Pet Store Clerk: “We don’t have horses. Just dogs, cats, birds.”

Thor: “Then give me one of those large enough to ride.” 

The casting of Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Sir Hop as Odin, plus Ken Branagh’s direction, signified the MCU’s concerted effort to bring some classical, almost-Shakespearean gravitas to these Asgardian proceedings. 

What we got was a less-than-engrossing exercise, mainly because it was so poorly lit! Too many of the crucial scenes are deluged in darkness; those Frost Giants might as well be formless entities, but Chris Hemsworth is always watchable in this.

(Not to be confused with Thor: The Dark World – a much lighter exercise)

 

13. Thor: The Dark World 

IMDB Ranking: 17

Rotten Tomatoes: 19 (66%) 

“Oh, this is much better. Costume’s a bit much… so tight. But the confidence, I can feel the righteousness surging. Hey, you wanna have a rousing discussion about truth, honour, patriotism? God bless America…” – Loki (…?!

Great cosmic scenes in Asgard; groovy – but all-too-brief – cameo by the Cap, but one skips some of the scenes set in London. Especially…

The most surreal moment in the MCU: Thor, Son Of Odin, Scion Of Asgard finds himself @ Charing Cross Underground station.

“How do I get to Greenwich?!” the God of Thunder enquires mightily.

The mortal must have been mesmerised by his biceps – or his hammer – for she replies: “Take this train. Three stops.”

RIDICULOUS! Brad says thee NAY!

Listen ye here, Odinson: 

From Charing Cross, take the Southbound Northern Line (black) TWO stops to Embankment. Take the Eastbound District Line (green) or Circular Line (yellow) FIVE stops and change @ Monument. Then it is a hardy slog through that station to access the DLR (Docklands Light Railway); it takes another TWELVE stops to reach Greenwich.

Know ye this: the journey is long (approx. 1 hour, most of your Running Time in fact) but not as strenuous as having to sit through Chris Eccleston’s Malekith.

Fare thee well on thy voyage, noble outta-towner!

(Uff, “three stops,” my eye!!) 

 

12. Spider-Man: Homecoming 

IMDB Ranking: 11

Rotten Tomatoes: 5 (92%)

“You need to understand, I will do anything to protect my family. I know you know what I’m talking about. So don’t mess with me. Don’t interfere in my business again. Because I will kill you and anyone you care about” – Adrian Toomes.

Well, well, the Spider-Man movie nobody wanted turned out to be pretty cool!

Some people reckoned that Tony Stark spent too much time here – for me, the whole cynical mentor/enthusiastic hero-in-the-making ploy really works here. Appreciate the way they successfully recreated that whole ’80s John Hughes vibe with the high-school scenes. And playing A Flock Of Seagulls too?! Aah, the MCU knows how to make this old boy happy!

But – hoo boy! – DON’T make me sit in the back of Adrian Toomes’ car! Ever!!

 

11. Iron Man

IMDB Ranking: 4

Rotten Tomatoes: 2 (94%)

“My turn…” – Tony Stark.

The Movie Where It All Began still holds up remarkably well a decade on. Hard to believe that, back then, the choice of Robert Downey Jr. as the titular Shellhead posed quite a gamble for Marvel Studios. No worries, he made his wit and bravado Stark’s own. 

Nice entertainment, shame about the sequels…

Blimey, not even those dancing air stewardesses could prevent this from dropping out of my Top 10…

 

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron

IMDB Ranking: 12

Rotten Tomatoes: 16 (75%)

“Ultron can’t see the difference between saving the world and destroying it. Where do you think he gets that…?” – Wanda Maximoff.  

The moment Ultron comes online, thanks to James Spader’s sinister tones, is one of the great moments in the MCU. Ruminating on issues such as the nature of existence, power, intelligence (artificial or not) whilst fending off attacks from the Cap et al makes for such thought-provoking viewing. And then, of course, The Vision – superbly played by Paul Bethany – enters the equation.

The CGI of the opening action sequence may look decidedly dodgy compared to other MCU works, and the climactic Battle of Sokovia tends to drag in one of the MCU’s under-rated offerings, but everyone taking turns trying to lift Mjolnir at Tony’s party more than makes up for that! Surely? 

 

9. Doctor Strange

IMDB Ranking: 10

Rotten Tomatoes: 8 (89%)

Dr. Stephen Strange: “I’m gonna have to vanish now. Keep me alive, will you?”

Urban landscapes doing cartwheels! Skyscrapers folding in on themselves! Roads disappearing into nothingness! Benedict Cumberbatch running up the side of a building! The Ancient One has turned into a Caucasian woman!

Will ask this only once:

BY THE HOARY HOSTS OF HOGGOTH! WHAT THE BLAZES DID THEY PUT IN THAT POPCORN?!?!

And could Brad have some more, please…? 

 

8. Black Panther 

IMDB Ranking: 9

Rotten Tomatoes: 1 (96%)

“Praise! Another broken white boy to fix…” – Shuri.  

WAKANDA FOREVER!!

“Wassup, princess?” – Erik Killmonger.

 

7. Captain America: The First Avenger

IMDB Ranking: 18 (WHA-?! Uff, that’s just nuts…

Rotten Tomatoes: 14 (79%)

“Captain America! How exciteenk! Ay’m a great fen uf your feelms!” – Johann Schmidt. 

When watching Chris Evans’ enjoyable turn as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movie, the prospect of him playing another Marvel hero – let alone the Cap himself! – seemed highly unlikely. Glad he turned up for this – can’t imagine anyone else playing the Cap! Hayley Atwell is so impressive as Peggy Carter, she ought to get her own TV series…

It even made Tommy Lee Jones worth my while for once. But it’s Hugo Weaving as the thoroughly demented Johann Schmidt/Red Skull who lifts this into classic territory.

Thus speaketh the boy who – at one point – was fanatically devoted to Captain Britain…

“Geez! Somebody get that kid a sandwich…” – Senator Brandt.

 

6. Thor: Ragnarok

IMDB Ranking: 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 3 (92%)

Thor: “Strongest Avenger!”

Quinjet Computer: “Access denied.”

Thor:Damn you, Stark. Point Break.” 

Quinjet Computer: “Welcome, Point Break.” 

Hey Sparkles, here’s the deal:

Ditch all that heavy, brooding, end-of-days gubbins. Throw oh-so-funny goofballs and looney aliens into candy-coloured cosmic capers. Let loose the Hulk, give Loki more to do, and get that “creepy old man” to shear off Odinson’s locks! Most of all, introduce Hela as the formidable villain the MCU so desperately needs! Oh, and bring in Jeff Goldblum (can’t even type his name without a big dopey grin spreading across me chops!) as the Grandmaster, and you have – quite easily – the most enjoyable movie of 2017! 

“Darling, you have no idea what’s possible” – Hela.

 

5. Captain America: Civil War

IMDB Ranking: 6

Rotten Tomatoes: 6 (91%)

Spider-Man: “Hey guys, you ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?

War-Machine: “Jesus, Tony, how old is this guy?”

Iron Man: “I don’t know, I didn’t carbon date him. He’s on the young side.”

“You remember that time we had to ride back from Rockaway Beach in the back of that freezer truck?” 

“Was that the time you used our train money to buy hotdogs?”

“You blew three bucks trying to win that stuffed bear for a redhead.”

“What was her name again?” 

“Dolores. You called her Dot.”

“She’s gotta be a hundred years old right now…” 

“So are we, pal.”

It’s the sweet and subtle moments like this that count here, along with Tony’s wacky first meeting with Peter. 

Plus: a rad debut by the Black Panther. 

And, of course, That Airport Scene. WOW, it’s so weird how you run into people at the airport. Don’t you think that’s weird…? 

Iron Man: “Who’s speaking?”

Ant-Man: “It’s your conscience. We don’t talk a lot these days…”

 

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

IMDB Ranking: 3

Rotten Tomatoes: 7 (91%)

Rocket Raccoon: “What did the galaxy ever do for you? Why would you want to save it?” 

Chris Pratt: “Because I’m one of the idiots who lives in it!” 

cosmic combo featuring – get this – a walking tree, a talking raccoon, an ex-wrestler, the star of Avatar (Okay, blue girl is green now! She’s green now!) Oh, and led by that chubby fella from Parks And Rec(?!)

Only Marvel Studios could take the most obscure comic – and these unusual suspects – and produce a supremely groovy galactic gleefest.

And where would this beloved bunch of A-holes be without that Awesome Mixtape…? YAY! Gives me an excuse to fit this in! (Okay, which track would YOU choose?)

“I may be as pretty as an angel, but I sure as hell ain’t one” – Yondu Udonta.

 

3. The Avengers 

IMDB Ranking: 2

Rotten Tomatoes: 4 (92%) 

Thor: “Do not touch me again!”

Iron Man: “Then don’t take my stuff.” 

Thor: “You have no idea what you are dealing with.”

Iron Man: “Uh, Shakespeare In The Park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”

Joss Whedon skilfully managed to assemble six heroes for this first team-up epic and what a humdinger it is too!

Despite bigger movies unleashed since this one’s box office conquest, the first Avengers blockbuster retains its high-standing due to such a cool script – selecting the quotes to use here proved more challenging than working out some of these rankings!

The comic book action is irresistible; the tremendous assault on Manhattan is worth a shawarma or three, but, for me, it’s Iron Man and Thor’s fisticuffs in the forest that provides the real knockout punch. 

Arguably Rob Downey Jr.’s finest moment in the MCU – certainly his funniest. 

My favourite MCU movie for at least two years, primarily ‘cos it marked my initial introduction to this MARVEL-ous franchise.

“Well, let me know if “real power” wants a magazine or something” – Nick Fury.

 

2. Avengers: Infinity War

IMDB Ranking: 1

Rotten Tomatoes: 10 (84%)

“Stop massaging his muscles!” – Peter Quill. 

STILL trying to catch my breath back!

STILL overawed – and relieved! – at how well the Mad Titan is depicted here!

STILL amazed at how they [SPOILER!] [SPOILER!] AND Captain America’s beard!!

STILL can’t believe the wizard seriously just said: “hitherto undreamt of”

Gamora: “Really? Tears?”

The Stonekeeper: “They are not for him…”  

 

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

IMDB Ranking: 7

Rotten Tomatoes: 9 (89%)

“Don’t look at me. I do what he does, just slower” – Sam Wilson. 

My personal favourite – possibly the finest superhero movie ever made. 

Some remarkable ingredients in this delectable concoction: the fight choreography is outstanding; the riveting spy-thriller narrative; the “GET ME. OFF. THE GRID!” street carnage; Jenny Agutter kicking ass; and Frenchmen getting beaten up. All in all: Brad’s perfect movie!  

Even the viewing experience itself was exceptional: that rare moment where the class and coolio-factor displayed onscreen matched the opulent interior décor. That whole weekend was such a wonderful time for both Mr. and Mrs. B – the shopping trip, that Japanese dinner and the hotel are all so pleasantly indented in our memories for all the years to come – we couldn’t have asked for a more spectacular movie that evening to round it all off…

The price of awesomeness is high. It always has been. And it’s a price Brad’s willing to pay.

On your left…

“Was that your first kiss since 1945?” – Natasha Romanoff. 

 

 

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Unbelievable Bronze Age Bargains! But At What Cost?

SO Many Comics Purchased With So Few Pennies!

Carol Danvers: “You startled me. I didn’t hear you approach.” 

Wolverine: “No one ever does.”

For too long, True Believers, this site has been bereft of a Bronze Age Bonanza. 

Well, long for such a Post no more! Thought it would be a swell idea to get one rattled out this weekend.

But it still took this long to make it work!

New additions continue to enrich the Bradscribe Comicbook Collection each month, but keeping up with writing about them is a completely different matter – don’t know why these Posts should prove so strenuous to write up…

The Post that would have appeared here has been withdrawn to my Dashboard for the umpteenth time, while numerous ishs for this Post came and went before settling on the following frantic finalists. 

As these examples set out to prove, cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty…

 

Corsair: “Callous as it sounds, Cyclops, all of that is negligible, even expendable. You worry about a few score lives. I’m trying to save a world. This world.” 

Storm: “You are correct, Corsair. It is callous. And cruel… and inhuman. 

Corsair: “Then, I guess, so am I.” 

Let’s start at the zenith of my most startling recent acquisitions:

The Uncanny X-Men is arguably the most expensive series to bedeck the boxes of back ish basements. However, through sheer good fortune – the likes of which only ever happens to other people – one of these fine editions stumbled into my possession with a price SO unbelievable, you’d think some cheeky fella had tagged it on as a prank. 

#154 Reunion (February 1982) begins with Cyclops and Storm, innocently enough, playing handball with their powers. Hurtling Earthwards, a Shi’ar space vessel crashes into the pond on Prof Xavier’s estate! Both X-Men dive in and rescue Corsair – leader of the Starjammers – from the wreckage.

Hot on Commander Christopher Summers’ heels is a tempest of arachnid-like Sidrian hunters. Storm “generates an incredible, irresistible vortex” to banish them, but succeeds only in trashing Xavier’s Mansion! Unlike Brad, she paid a hefty price! 😉

Although this terrific trio escape in one of the Blackbird jets, the Sidri converge into a ship, “as big as a skyscraper!” according to Air Traffic Control and chases them across Manhattan’s East River!

Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum at the top of their game.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE?!

Yeah-heh-hes!! 

How can ANY ish of a series that is regularly marked between £10-30(!) pass into my eager mitts for so few pennies?!  

The wraparound cover had fallen off this copy’s staples, but the Claremont/Cockrum goodness remains unblemished…

 

Thor: “Tell me, monster – art thou the madman or the madman‘s slave? And more – how didst thou appear so suddenly… like a ghost from out of the air?”

Ego: “Know this, godling, I am no ghost, but Ego personified! My flesh is the flesh of this planet – my body, the stone at your feet! This form exists because I created it – so that when I crush you, I may see your pathetic face!”

Ego The Living Planet! Has gone mad?!

Why else would Thor(!) join forces with the despicable Galactus(!) to try and stop him?! With the awesomeness for this classic mind-boggling saga ascending beyond measure, so, alas, the value had to rise in accordance.

When first reading this storyline last year – reprinted as Essential Thor Volume 7 – just the thought of ever owning a single instalment – in all its original colourific glory – seemed beyond even my grandest schemes. 

And yet…! By the Flames of Ragnarok!!

In the right store at the right time: “he just stood there, staring at the cover for what seewed an eternity – at its price for a whole lot longer…” 

The Mighty Thor #227 In Search Of… Ego! (September 1974) begins with Odin himself(!) at a loss to explain how his beloved son and heir could be colluding with “the most dangerous entity in all space and time?!” It is through the Allfather’s curiosity that we pick up the threads to the story so far – brilliant narrative device by Gerry Conway. Side by side with Hercules and Firelord, this most unlikely fantastic four proceed to destroy the Mind of Ego!

From the enthralling splash page to the explosive cliffhanger, this is Big John Buscema at his pulse-pounding best. 

This ish has prized possession written all over it (probably why the price was so ridiculously low, ho, ho!) 

“I’m certain you now fully comprehend the danger, Asgardian. If such energy were to be applied against the stars of this galaxy… we would all perish” – Galactus.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

Considering how some unscrupulous ‘erbs have tried to flog this very ish online for three-figure sums, yours truly managed to pick this up for only TWO POUNDS(!)

Madder than the Living Planet itself, baby…

 

“Never in my wildest imaginings could I have filled a world with so strange a mixture of folk as I’d found on the Mars of the long-dead past – but this wasn’t my imagination… and most of those “folk” would dearly love to see me dead” – Gullivar Jones.  

Creatures On The Loose is an important series in my collection for Man-Wolf features as the star attraction of its final seven ishs. 

Earlier editions are intriguing for giving a home to Gullivar Jones. 

Gullivar who…?

Some SF aficionados argue that Edgar Rice Burroughs – to put it politely – “borrowed” this character in order to produce his more popular John Carter of Mars. Nevertheless, Marvel adapted both of these Red Planet adventurers; while John Carter back ishs are easy to find, Gullivar like the original novel – is extremely rare. But new stock in one of my regular comic book emporiums (just in time for the January Half-Price Sale!) included a few Creatures back ishs featuring this character.

#19 The Long Road To Nowhere (Septemher 1972) offers artwork by Gil Kane – one of my favs! – Jim Mooney and Wayne Boring, but the writing fails to impress (finding decent dialogue to quote turned out to be an unexpected task). Also, this story is too short (it only fills half this ish); the rest of the pages are taken up by two short fillers – while the first includes art by Jack Kirby(!) it is a substandard alien-invasion-of-Earth story.

After an impressive splash page (see below!) the quality of this ish rapidly plummets with each turn of the page…

‘OW MUCH?!: 

£2.50 – but would further ishs in this series be worth my time and money…?

 

“At once, should one of those guardsmen become unnerved… a stray bullet could plunge all eternity into irreparable chaos! And by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth that must not come to pass!” – Doctor Strange.

The Defenders – that so-called non-team featuring the Hulk, Doctor Strange and Valkyrie – has been a rather hit-or-miss series. It is an absolute delight, though, to state that  #26 Savage Time! (August 1975) is a classic. Not only does it featurespecial-guest-star appearance by the (original line-up of the) Guardians of the Galaxy(!) but – thanks to an enticing script by Steve Gerber – it incorporates a staggering 1000-year history of the future, including a single-panel appearance by Killraven.

You’ll be happy to learn that the rebellion against the Techno-Barons comes to a triumphant end with the execution of the tyrant Kwaal in 2525. Well, whoopee-doo! Any excuse to order more cake 😉

All this action, adventure – and future-history – is brought to furious fruition by Our Pal Sal Buscema. 

“What you’re seeing is a genuine U.F.O., a ship presumably of extraterrestrial origin… 

“It seems the pilot of this spacecraft has survived the ship’s plummet from space and is concealing himself inside.But perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the ship is its insignia. For inscribed in English on the hull are the words: “Captain America”…

Hard to believe that not all Defenders ishs are up to this standard… or down to this price!

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE!

(The bottom half is badly crumpled, but after sitting beneath a pile of other distinguished members of the Bradscribe Collection, it no longer makes crinkling noises when you turn the pages!)

 

Sir Lyan: “Board, man of metal – and do not be brave if you value your life! My blaster is set to kill!” 

Iron Man: “You have nothing to fear from me – I’m no friend of the colonizers! (Besides, I think I’ve figured out a way to recharge my deplted power!)”

What a genuine – and totally unexpected! – pleasure to welcome Iron Man to the Bradscribe Collection! Hey, if the plot goes cosmic, then any title can make it in there!

Iron Man #111 The Man, the Metal, and the Mayhem! (June 1978) continues th unputdownable cosmic adventures of the Knights of Wundagore – those fabulous man-beasts created by the High Evolutionary – and their ongoing resistance against those diminutive would-be world-conquerors: the Rigellians. 

Having been beamed aboard a Rigellian scavenger ship “whose size beggars our poor mortal powers of description” belonging to Fleet Commander Arcturus and his crummy crew of unruly observer-munchkins, the Armoured Avenger finds himself trapped inside an inter-galactic war. Suspecting he is a Rigellian robot, tke Wundagorians shoot ol’ Shellhead down to Wundagore II. There, he gains the trust of the walking, talking beasts. 

For me, personally, this is a great ish as Tony is joined by Jack of Hearts, one of my very first favourite comic book characters and, arguably, the owner of the most elaborate costume in comic book history. Much like Spider-Man in last Summer’s Homecoming movie, Stark acts as mentor to the young Jack Hart throughout ishs: 103-113.

And, as both sides also make significant cameos in The Mighty Thor as well, this bunny can’t wait to catch all these other ishs – at an agreeable price… of course! 

Fleet Commander Arcturus: “A lovely planet! Alive with everything one could ask for! A perfect planet for settling at least some of our fleet!”

Observer YJ18: “Fleet Commander, no! What of the oath sworn to the Asgardian: Thor…?!”

‘OW MUCH?!: 

ABSOLUTELY FREE!

WHAT?!?!

Yes, priced at £3 – same as all the other Iron back ishs, my friendly neighbourhood awemonger deducted it from my bill in recognition of frequenting his establishment after all these months. 

Also: ’twas the night before Christmas! 😉

Cheers!

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.

 

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.