Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them: Vol: 3

Back By Popular Demand!  

(Not really – just always wanted to type that!) ūüėȬ†

“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud… I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think” – Maya Angelou.¬†

We are going to have to wait AGES¬†for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but here – in the groovy sector of the blogosphere – you don’t have to hold¬†out too long for¬†Vol. 3 of those¬†Fantastic Beats.

Love the way this blogging platform allows me to insert music into my fiction Рto evoke mood, or enhance the wow factor. Sometimes, however, an irresistible, uproarious tune will pop up, but its deliriously distracting vid prevents it from inclusion Рhere, all the best examples have been presented. 

Besides, it seems like an eternity since the frivolous and frenetic dancathon that was Fantastic Beats Vol. 2. 

Hey, DJ Brad, you ask, where do we begin? 

What better place than @ the beginning?!

Detroit,¬†to be exact.¬†During the ’80s, when house music appeared, the much rougher sound¬†of¬†techno music¬†also emerged; one of its pioneers was¬†Jeff Mills.¬†After all this time, he is still experimenting with various kinds of infectious beats.¬†Recently – to my sheer delight –¬†he has incorporated¬†strong¬†sci-fi-vibes into a more ambient direction of his work.

Just the other day we stumbled across this zany vid to a fave old skool classic –¬†what a swell buncha’ fellas!¬†

No disruption. No damages. Just dancing. Delightful.

But why the masks for dancing in the street, amigos? 

If you’re worried about getting nabbed for “social disorder” then, blazes,¬†Brad¬†should’ve been put behind bars long ago, by Jove!¬†ūüėČ

“In these science fiction stories – even against enormous odds – people still feel the urge to go on, to discover… I understood it wouldn‚Äôt be easy to materialise some of these ideas slightly beyond the dance floor in electronic music. Actually there‚Äôs quite a lot of resistance against changing or using music in other things” – Jeff Mills.¬†

As you may have noticed, Paul Birken has become synonymous with my Fartlighter Bradventures. 

This following track can be found on Mr. Birken’s own YouTube channel, which is – as the neighbours can attest – visited every day.¬†

As far as we know, he even compiled the vid himself! 

Actually, the original Drvg Cvltvre track is kinda meh, but add a Paul Birken Remix and РWAHEY! Рit is transformed into a stupendous stomper: 

“The only thing that you have that nobody else has¬†is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can” – Neil Gaiman.

For the next tem, it was a case of looking for a cool vid, and decent sound quality. One fine example initially slated for this next spot has been taken down.

No worries: regularly listened to this stylish stand-by whilst writing fiction @ our Southeast Asian retreat a few years back.

Sandwell District was the sensational Рalbeit short-lived Рcollaboration between DJs Function and Regis (who is one of my faves).

The video is the short film: Tunnel of Love (1977) featuring Tamara Beckwith and Edward Tudor Pole.

Mesmerising…

 

“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance” – Confucius.¬†

“Variety is the spice of Bradscribe,”¬†as they say.

It’s not all¬†about¬†bompity-bompitybomp records one after another here.

Fantastic beats can be found across many diverse musical genres.¬†Besides, you never know what you’re going to get on this site, but it’s best¬†to¬†prepare yourself for gorgeous grungy gems such as this next item.

Many thanks to the¬†Transexual Swiss Rebels –¬†yes! Them again –¬†for reminding me of the rich cultural heritage that is African-American music:

“Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself” – Annie Leibovitz. ¬†

It would be interesting to learn¬†what inspired¬†Steve Hillage –¬†legendary frontman of 70s psychedelic rock band: Gong –¬†to make the transition to techno music by the 90s.¬†He has adapted to it rather well, for how about this for fusion: never seen/heard anyone else playing electric guitar over electronic dance music.

If one could attend one more music festival, then it must have System 7 on the bill. Mr. and Mrs. Hillage have gained a reputation for being one of the best live acts in the land.

As you can see here, this vid was shot in the living room @ Brad Manor (hence the belly dancers):

Get on the good foot, Loki!¬†ūüėČ

“Towards the end of the 80s, when Acid House exploded, we felt, you know, we had found our new musical home…¬†and we just thought: we’ve seen the future! This is gonna be fucking massive, man! Electronic! Dance. Music. Eureka!” –¬†Steve Hillage.

Twenty years ago, coinciding with my giddy times @ university, the Tresor label (based in Berlin) brought out some of the most snazzy techno tunes, a lot of which helped me plough through some particularly difficult Рor just unbelievably dull Рessays.

Discovering YouTube eight years ago helped me to delve into the scintillating back catalogue¬†of¬†one of that label’s most innovative lights: an excitable – and highly enjoyable – bunny known only as Brixton. ¬†

Reckon a DJ just stands there, fiddling with a Roland TB-303, a Roland TR-909, or whatnot? 

Trust Brixton to put the LIVE into live set!

And remember: if at first you don’t succeed… just dance!

Cheers!

 

“What just happened? Please tell me nobody kissed me…” – Tony Stark.¬†

 

 

 

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The Journey Of Bradskald: My Reimmersion In Norse Mythology

 The Realm Eternal: Asgard РThe 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 Рwholeheartedly or inadvertently Рinto 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¬†√Üsir,¬†made their home at¬†Asgard.¬†This is a compound name, whose first part As- refers to¬†the¬†√Üsir, while the second part gard means an ‘enclosure.’¬†Hence Asgard is ‘the enclosed region where¬†the¬†√Üsir¬†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‚Äôs what kept me in school. It wasn‚Äôt mathematics and it wasn‚Äôt geography – it was history…” – Jack Kirby.

“…Thor is the foremost among them. Called Thor of the √Üsir¬†[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¬†√Üsir, 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-d√Ľm¬†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 And√ļril¬†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 ūüėČ 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 Рthe Doragar Рshould decide, once more, to raid and plunder the hamlets to the east, then doughty Bradskald will sally forth Рtrusty broadsword: Fopslayer slung across his back Рto 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…” ūüėČ

“This book is called Edda. Snorri Sturluson compiled it in the way that it is arranged here. First it tells about the¬†√Üsir [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.¬†

 

Me√į krafti Bradskald! Bor√įu√įu k√∂ku og vertu gla√įur!

By The Power Of¬†Bradskald!¬† ūüôā

 

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‚Äôs 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 Ragnar√∂k 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…¬†

Hva√į varstu gu√įin aftur?”¬†

And a portrait of Hela by the great Charles Vess Рthis 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 Рyet tragic Рcharacter.

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…”¬†

 

Thor: Ragnarok: The Bradscribe Review

HERE WE GO! [SPOILER-FREE]

Thor: “It’s… not possible…”¬†

Hela: “Darling, you have no idea what’s possible.”¬†

“This’ll be such fun!”¬†Loki¬†purrs during one typically delirious scene in the fizzy and frenetic funfair that is¬†Thor: Ragnarok.

For once, we can trust the word of the God of Mischief. 

Anxious not to repeat¬†Thor: The Dark World’s lacklustre response,¬†the powers-that-be¬†have gone out of their way to pile¬†a whole Hemsworth of great stuff into this¬†Chapter 5 of the MCU’s Phase 3.¬†Gone is The Dark World’s pompous and plodding tone – now it’s The Thor The Merrier!¬†

Obviously, the real test here was all about how impressive Cate Blanchett could be in the role of Hera, Goddess of Death Рone of my All-Time Fave Comic Book Characters. Huzzah, this is a mighty-fine-antlers-and-all performance. Cate looks and sounds stunning, and when Hela decimates each and every warrior in sight she does get pretty breathtaking. 

More wonderful than “Wonder Woman” that’s for sure! ¬†

And that awesome shot of the Odinson Brothers taking up their laser cannons and blasting their way to freedom is certainly one that you will be seeing plenty more times on this site! 

“This is madness…” – Loki.¬†

What a delicious pitch: Lord Of The Rings meets Guardians Of The Galaxy. With a dash of Krull. And Gladiator.

Thor: Ragnarok’s¬†non-stop action does not take place merely on Asgard:¬†Thor¬†finds himself transported from New York to Norway before¬†falling onto¬†the candy-colour junkworld of¬†Sakaar,¬†controlled – appropriately enough – by the¬†incomparable¬†Jeff Goldblum¬†as the¬†delightfully daffy¬†Grandmaster.¬†When his involvement was first announced, it seemed certain that Jeff would not¬†disappoint in this role, and our faith has been rewarded. And then some.¬†

Shame that the Grandmaster’s Champion had already been revealed to us through the Trailers.¬†Mark Ruffalo¬†was great in both Avengers movies, but never as entertaining as this.¬†Both Hulk and Banner¬†are a joy to watch, especially when interacting with¬†Thor.¬†Chris Hemsworth¬†is as impeccable as ever, his¬†comedy chops have vastly improved as the MCU has evolved.

At first,¬†Tessa Thompson’s¬†casting as¬†Valkyrie was bewildering, but she is allowed to put in a surprisingly groovyalbeit groggy –¬†turn.¬†A valuable addition to The Revengers, Valkyrie can down hefty bottles of alien alcohol in seconds¬†AND defy the laws of physics in a single leap!¬†Speaking of things unnatural, it was so good to see Dr Strange again, even if his teleporting seems to outnumber his lines…¬†

Taika Waititi¬†has become the Main Man around here this week.¬†Watched the hilarious¬†What We Do In The Shadows¬†this Halloween week to get acquainted with this visionary director from¬†New Zealand.¬†It’s amazing what an effervescent feel Taika has added to these comical-cosmic ripping-retro proceedings.¬†

The director’s own motion capture performance¬†as¬†Korg the Kronan¬†is¬†suitably endearing, and received plenty of laughs around the auditorium during both of my viewings.¬†But¬†watch some of the interviews he’s done and you will find that Taika can be a Hela-va lot more hilarious.¬†(And¬†you know Brad hates to brag,¬†but that Stan Lee cameo turned out just as predicted! ūüôā )

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 should have been as enjoyable as this. 

“Listen! He’s threatening me!¬†Hey, Sparkles! Here‚Äôs the deal…” – The Grandmaster.

Thor: “Hey, let’s do¬†‘Get Help’… Come on, you love it.”

Loki: “I¬†hate it.”

Thor: “It’s great; it works every time.”

Loki: “It’s humiliating.”

Thor: “Do you have a better plan?”

Loki: “No.”¬†

Thor: “We’re doing it.”

Loki: “We are not doing ‘Get Help’.”

With a film as warm and welcome as this,¬†Thor: Ragnarok’s¬†niggles are thankfully few and far between.¬†Perhaps the main annoyance for me centres on¬†Hela’s¬†insufficient screen-time. Both the character and performance deserved far more attention.¬†Sources say that as much as 30 minutes were trimmed from this Final Cut; it will be very interesting to find out what those Extras entail.¬†Personally, this film could go on for many hours more and it would be impossible to become bored! ¬†

From Thor hanging around with¬†Surtur,¬†to the “Lord” ūüėȬ†of Thunder leading his own¬†Asgardians of the Galaxy¬†off into the technicolour cosmos,¬†these scintillating 130 minutes easily provide the¬†Most Entertaining Cinema Experience of¬†2017.

With the only challenge to its supremacy coming from¬†Disney’s¬†delightful little adventure romp:¬†Porgs In Space¬†finally coming out of hyperspace¬†NEXT MONTH,¬†this third (and final?) solo trip to Asgard¬†looks set to become the¬†Bradscribe Movie Of The Year.¬†

Honestly,¬†Thor: Ragnarok¬†is precisely the sort of pure escapist sci-fi/fantasy rental¬†that would have¬†fed¬†my VCR¬†for weeks¬†thirty years ago –¬†the praise doesn’t get any higher than that…

Who would have thought that Ragnarok could be this much FUN? Heimdall’s Eyes! This IS SUCH FUN!!

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

TOTALLY THORSOME!

 

“To be honest, I expected more” – Hela.¬†

 

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 Рthe Goddess of Death Рhas 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 РRuler of the Gods Рsaves 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! ūüôā

“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! ūüėȬ†

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

“I don‚Äôt 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‚Äôt really know what I‚Äôm going for, so I‚Äôll 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‚Äôs really cool. That‚Äôs a cool song. What‚Äôs that?”

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

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

“And I was like, “Oh fuck, really worried now.” But from the start we‚Äôd always talked about using Immigrant Song in the film, because it just makes perfect sense for that character, doesn‚Äôt 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 РImmigrant 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.¬†

 

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

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

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

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

Welcome back, True Believers!

Oh, don’t mind the mess.

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

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

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

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

 

Asgard! And – hey! – Olympia too?!

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

Yes, yes, YES! 

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

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

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

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

Jeez! This is a cosmic soap opera! 

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

And then we move onto:

 

Lemuria.

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

From Thor to Thongor! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brad would much rather get stuck in: 

The Shadow Realm!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But!

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

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

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

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

“Oh my stars and garters!”

 

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

The Unreal Realm Inside The Orb Of Agamotto(!)

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

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

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

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

But!

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

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

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

Blimey! Never a dull moment with Stephen!

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

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

Galador! And Wraithworld (in the Dark Nebula)

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

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

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

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

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

But!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Other Realm (And Earth’s Moon)

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

Aha! THIS is more like it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep it cosmic!

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

 

“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 Рthe very styff on which science fiction has always thrived Рshould 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…?