Electric Dreams III: Revenge Of The Synth

Synthwave, Retrowave, Dreamwave And – Oh Yes – Darkwave… 

“We’ll always be together
However far it seems
(Love never ends)
We’ll always be together
Together in Electric Dreams” – Phil Oakey.

Is it too soon, you may ask, to have another music post on this site?!

Perhaps. And yet…

Considering how it feels like an age since the last Post, and my writing is a tad sluggish at the moment for my liking, this seemed like the easiest option to get me back into the swing of actually completing something!

Have not listened to any Synthwave for a while, but returned to it just this week. For me, Lazerhawk is the outstanding artist of this amazing genre – so selecting our first vid posed no problem at all: 

SAL-9000: “Will I dream?”

Dr. Chandra: “Of course you will. All intelligent beings dream. Nobody knows why. Perhaps you will dream about HAL… just as I often do.”

You may be interested to know that my ideas have not abandoned me.

Far from it – there is no shortage of them! Time is no problem – never has been for me! My problem is finding the energy! 

Purge those rumours of this site’s imminent demise!

Forthcoming attractions are on their way. In  the next few days: you can (hopefully) expect Bradscribe Reviews of BOTH Deadpool movies, various updates on my expeditions to find more awesome Bronze Age comics, and…? The rest is a surprise! 

Blimey! So was this next track now this is fukkin’ sick! (As the younglings are wont to say these days, by Jove!): 

Nancy Thomson: It’s only a dream!”

Freddy Krueger: “Come to Freddy!”

Speaking of nightmares, my fiction has suffered more than anything 😛 – it seems to have dried up (only for the time being we hope! Yeah…?) 

For the second time, my novel has stalled. What has been produced so far is bereft of plot progression  – that breath-taking twist still hasn’t “sprung to mind.” Not going to chuck the bally thing in completely – for one thing, it would be a shame to see all my research papers go to waste… 

On a much brighter note, during this past two years my enthusiasm for concocting short stories has revived. Through the blog format, Bradventures featuring a distinctly English galactic hero have come along in leaps and bounds. You may like to know/be assured that a handful of new episodes reside on my Dashboard awaiting editing, so he won’t be going away any time soon! 

The most recent instalment is still pretty fresh, if a tad neglected, so please, pay it a visit, right here: 

You’ll like it, it’s about a prison break. 😉

Moving on then, this next video would have made it into Electric Dreams I – a perfect accompaniment to a Lazerhawk track, but it got pulled offline so had to rummage around for a replacement at the last minute(!)

No worries!

This tune will suffice; this is the awesome opening sequence from that crazy sci-fi thriller: The Hidden (1987) featuring an alien parasite that uses human vessels to wreak his own warped sense of “fun” on Earth:

Bob Blair: “Now we can go into an enemy’s dream, kill him, make it look as if he died in his sleep. Do you realize what that means?”

Alex Gardner: “It means no one’s safe from you…” 

Blade Runner (1982) remains as monumental as those techno-ziggurats that dominate the LA skyline.

Not only did it create one of the most mesmerising examples of visual futurism on the big screen, but the velvety Vangelis soundtrack has had a huge influence on the Synthwave genre. 

Not surprisingly, a considerable number of Synthwave tracks turn up on YouTube illustrated by stills from this classic movie. 

So, guess what appears here next! :0

Funny how the source material, written by Philip K. Dick is called “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” and yet there is no quote featuring the word: ‘dream‘ in the movie…

But why complain?

It’s Blade Runner!

“Milk and cookies kept you awake, eh, Sebastian?” – Dr. Eldon Tyrell. 

Speaking of visual style, whenever the mood for writing failed to manifest, my creative faculties have expressed themselves instead through sketching. Noting how plenty of Followers/readers have commented that my fiction would be enhanced by converting the work into graphic novels… 

Maybe, just maybe… 

In the meantime, there are some artworks – produced several years ago as well as more recent gobsmackers – that should (scans permitting!) appear on this site very soon.  

Moving on thenoh yes – when it comes to the best Retrowave producers, there’s no ace like HOME: 

Miles Harding: “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.”

Edgar: “Who says?”

Miles Harding: “Walt Disney. Sleeping Beauty, nineteen… fifty.”

Edgar: “No, it was Cinderella, 1949.”

To end on a high note, completing this Post has reminded me what is so compelling about the blogosphere; plus, it has restored the verve to carry on!

What better way to end this playlist, fellow Oneironauts, than with some scintillating Chillwave from the exceptional Crockett, who – as you may have gathered from Electric Dreams II  has become my second-favourite Synthwave artist!

“I’m a seeker too. But my dreams aren’t like yours. I can’t help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than Man. Has to be…” – George Taylor. 

Sweet dreams… 🙂

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Earth’s Mightiest Back Issues!: My Five Favourite Avengers Stories

Just Can’t Get Enough – Another Post On Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

“It’s almost time! I’m not going to enjoy conducting this Membership Review – but I really have no choice! I’m the leader of this outfit! It’s my job – my responsibility to make the Avengers the most effective fighting force possible!” – Captain America.  

First of all, apologies for the yawning gap since my last Post, but really, how do you follow Thanos?!

Seriously though, that Review fell flat; none of the fiction is working; and the less said about that hi-brow essay on transdimensional engineering the better… sheesh!

My writing reached such a low point that over the four-day Easter weekend, my creative faculties switched instead to sketching. Might as well have carried on with all that incessant partying throughout the week following my birthday if one knew how lousy the upkeep of this blog would turn out!

Bah!

Sheer bally exhaustion.

Nothing else can explain how – over this past few weeks – half a dozen posts were worked on before being discarded, falling unbelievably weeeell below the usual Bradtastic standard you have come to expect here. Even this little concoction – an easy-peasy piece that should only have taken a few hours to compile – ended up in development-hell for several days; where oh where can you get the stamina these days…?! 

Anyways, will spare you the torrid tales of mishaps and miseries. Just reckoned it best to escape into the myriad majesties of Marveldom. 

Thought this topic might be quite timely… 

Read on, True Believers! 

“It’s some sort of unearthly inhuman vision-! And that voice… like something from beyond the grave…!” – Wasp.  

Ever since catching sight of that supercool yellow and green fella on the cover of Marvel UK’s first issue of Marvel Superheroes (September 1979) The Vision has been my favourite Avenger. Naturally, the tale of his origins became much sought after. 

This synthozoid made his debut in The Avengers #57 “Behold… The Vision!” (October 1968) – a veritable star-studded super-saga! As these Silver Age ishs are so hard to come by – especially at affordable rates – the ultracheap Marvel UK reprints make suitable alternatives. The Avengers Weekly #84-85 (April-May 1975) carries this epic. 

This story also featured Hank Pym in one of his most decisive roles as he fought his errant creation, that classic antagonist: Ultron.

Despite The Vision being used by the mad robot  to lure The Avengers into his trap, the team still accept him as a new member, hence that iconic panel (see below!)

Written by the irrepressible Roy Thomas, this ish turned out to be a John Buscema masterclass.

The Vision: “You accept me… though I’m not truly a human being?”

Hank Pym: “Is a man any less human because he has an artificial leg… or a transplanted heart? The five original Avengers included an Asgardian immortal… and a hreen-skinned, tormented behemoth! We ask merely a man’s worth… not the accident of his condition!”  

 

“The Grey Gargoyle turned my armor into stone, but not the man inside it. Other than a heck of an itch on my nose, I’m as good as new. DD and I’ll be fine… so long as Central Park’s pigeon population doesn’t find us!” – Iron Man. 

The Avengers: drawn by John Byrne?! 

What a delectable proposition!

Indeed, The Avengers #191 (January 1980) – written by then-regular scripter: David Michelinie – proves to be an irresistible ish.

Iron Man and Daredevil have been turned to stone by the Grey Gargoyle, who has wrought havoc in downtown Manhattan; he fights The Avengers and WINS! He returns to his old apartment, to collect chemicals to augment his powers, only to discover that the new tenant has thrown them out! 

Thank goodness The Falcon turns up to battle the wrath of the Gargoyle, holding him off until the regrouped Avengers can show up. Scarlet Witch uses her hex power to turn him back into flesh and blood. 

And the title of this Bronze Age extravaganza? 

“Back To The Stone Age.”

Groovy… 

“Hah! It’s at times like this that I wonder how people can call you the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!” – The Grey Gargoyle.

 

The Avengers #194 “Interlude!” (April 1980) makes it into this survey ‘cos of George Perez’s art.

Having done such an impressive job on Man-Wolf, a stint on this series sounded too cool to miss!

Just before an official meeting, a frightened and dishevelled man named Selbe turns up at Avengers Mansion pleading for protection. Shady officials arrive, claiming the man has escaped from the “Solomon Institute for the Criminally Insane,” so have to turn him over.

On the point of resuming their meeting, The Avengers realise that Wasp is missing, having followed the officials back to this alleged institute…

This ish featured in one of my Bronze Age Bonanzas – lookee here:

And, yes yes yes, it’s another showcase to present The Vision’s extraordinary powers. That double spread on pages 12-13 is quite stupendous. 

Did you know he’s my fave Avenger? 😉

Actually, #195 looks live a real jaw-dropper, as it features a guest-star appearance by The Taskmaster! (Not surprisingly, this is one of the most difficult ishs to find – Brad‘s not gonna give up any time yet!)

“They didn’t even notice me… didn’t count me! Was it an oversight? Or had everyone already made up their minds that I would be one of those eliminated…? I am nothing to them! They do not want me here!” – Jocasta. 

 

Bah! That the Son of Odin must so proclaim himself-! Are there no heralds aboutNay… never when thou needest one! Still, I wonder… if chosen to remain will I choose to do so?” – Thor. 

The Avengers #211 “…By Force Of Mind!”  (September 1981) is integral to this survey.

Originally picked up @ a Comics Fair in 1990, this happened to be my very first Avengers ish. Moreover, it marks my introduction to the astonishing artistic talent that was Gene Colan. 

Now, it does not contain a particularly dramatic story – it is, however, the ish in which the Cap decrees that there can only be SIX members on the team, not eight. There are guest-stars aplenty: Hawkeye, Black Widow, Moon Knight, Dazzler, Iceman, Tigra et al, all brought to the Avengers Mansion at the dodgy hypnotic instigation of Moondragon, to test their suitability to join.

Thus, The Vision and his wife: The Scarlet Witch decide to leave the Mansion; even The Beast and Wonder Man decided to call it quits!

Moreover, Page 3 of this ish has always been one of my favourites:

“…I’m leaving! Wondy and I had a talk this morning… You know, I used to be a scientist! I used to habe a future besides my next gag and tomorrow night’s date! I want to see if there’s anything left of Hank McCoy besides a “blue-furred buffoon”!” – The Beast.

 

“I remembered that a human being can survive for a few seconds in the vacuum of space, so I turned physical… and cut loose with my power blast! The reaction force sent me flying backward… but I managed to regain light form, just as the torpedo slammed into another orbital generator!” – Captain Marvel.   

“Understand, our once-proud empire now lies in shambles. Several of your months ago, the world devourer Galactus came to the imperial throneworld. 

“And on the heels of this shocking news, chaos and rebellion spread throughout the galaxy. 

“Amid this insanity rose a great mercenary army. Its warriors were outcasts of a thousand worlds from this galaxy and others. And its leader is a she-demon who calls herself Nebula. 

“World after world fell before Nebula’s forces. She knew no defeat…” 

The Avengers #259!

Look at that cover! “On the side of… the Skrulls!”?

Preposterous!

Nevertheless, this startling cover did direct me to one of the most stiking ishs of John Buscema’s second classic stint on this series.

“Duty Over All” (Septamber 1985) continues the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – in this case: the Cap, Wasp, Captain Marvel, Hercules, the Black Knight and Starfox – opposition to Nebula: treacherous she-devil daughter of dreaded Thanos – only introduced in ish #257. 

She poses such a gargantuan threat to the galaxy that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes must band together with their sworn enemies: the Skrulls – yes! The Skrulls! Even Firelord couldn’t believe/accept that monstrous fact either!!

Scintillating! Exciting! Nebula is sooo awesome here – makes you realise how wasted her character has been in the MCU thus far…

THAT’S IT!

This list may yet change as other classic ishs permeate the Bradscribe Collection. 

But come ON, friends! This Post has been completed. And Published!

Surely – after all this writer’s been through this past month – this simple feat calls for a celebration, albeit a textured-sponge-with-a-creamy-filling one. 😉

Cheers!

 

“No one tells me what I “must” do…! Have all stations made battle-ready! And make certain that everyone knows… we will take no prisoners!” – Nebula. 

 

“Am I Not Death?”: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About THANOS But Were Afraid to Ask

A Dreamer Of Tranquility. Non-Purpose. Death.

“Tell me his name again” – Tony Stark.

Ten years. Eighteen movies. And it’s all been leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, set to bedazzle us all in just over a month(!) 

With the latest trailer for this epic slugfest released on Friday, and seeing how all of you are eager to go to War, you sure as fudge need to know what you’re going up against…

Created by writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jim Starlin, Thanos hails from Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. His parents were Eternals – his father was Mentor. His mother: Sui-san – so shocked to discover that he carried the Deviants gene, making him resemble the Eternals‘ cousin race – tried to kill himWhile Thanos embodied Death, his brother Eros – aka Starfox who served as an Avenger during the mid-80s – represented Life.

His super-strength, speed and durability are greatly enhanced by the Deviants gene. Not until adolescence, did he develop his fascination with nililism and death, worshipping and eventually falling in love with the physical embodiment of death: Mistress Death. 

Able to absorb and project vast quantities of cosmic energy, Thanos is capable of telekinesis, telepathy and matter manipulation. Trained in the arts of war on Titan, Odin Allfather had to concede that he was a worthy opponent, and he even BLASTED GALACTUS OFF HIS FEET(!)

A scientific supergenius, he uses three space vessels named Sanctuary as alternate bases of operations. (Yes, you already saw Sanctuary II loom LARGE during the Thor: Ragnarok post-creds sequence!)

 

“Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!” – Roy Thomas. 

Watching the Armoured Avenger getting well and truly KA-POWed to the ground during the first Infinity War trailer reminded me that the Mad Titan actually made his debut in Iron Man #55 “Beware, The Blood Brothers!” (February 1973).

“I went to college [before] getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos” Jim Starlin explained. “I felt that [Iron Man] may be my only chance ever to do a character, not having the confidence that my career was going to last anything longer than a few weeks. So they got jammed into it.”

And the rest is (quite a substantial) history.

It is intriguing to learn that when he iniatially envisagd this formidable icon, Starlin – who also brought the Mad Titan’s nemesis: Adam Warlock to life – envisaged him as a more scrawny fella; only through the insistence of editor: Roy Thomas does he sport such massive bulk.

Thanos story continued in Captain Marvel #s 25-33 (March 1973 – Jan. 1974) (some sources list this arc as The Thanos War) – again, these ishs are stupendously expensive collectors’ items, or they would have materialised in the Bradscribe Bronze Age Comics Collection loooong before now…

He made further appearances in Marvel Feature #12 (Nov 1973), Daredevil #107 (Jan 1974) What?! Picking on the blind now, huh, fella?! Jeez, what a bounder… and Avengers #125 (July 1974). 

He returned in an excellent extended storyline that spanned Strange Tales #178-181 (Feb.–Aug. 1975) and Warlock #9-11 (Oct. 1975 – Feb. 1976), the latter of which was reviewed here: and can be heartily recommended!

Yours truly is well aware of how difficult it is to acquire these individual back ishs. For the best introduction to Thanos, before 27 April, seek out the compilation volume: Essential Captain Marvel. 

You won’t be disappointed! 

Thanos is the greatest menace this galaxy has ever known! He’s here to gain the force that can subjugate the stars – the Cosmic Cube!” – Captain Marvel. 

“Only you, Titan. Congratulations. You are clearly a person one does not easily forget” – Adam Warlock.

“The entire time I knew him, he only ever had one goal – to wipe out half the universe. If he gets all the Infinity Stones, he can do it with the snap of his fingers… just like that” – Gamora.

Strange Tales #180 (June 1975) marked the debut of Thanos adopted daughter: Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan.

After her species: the Zen Whoberis were wiped out by the Badoon – Thanos found the infant Gamora and raised her solely for the purpose of destroying The Magus: the evil, future self of Adam Warlock. Judging from that touching moment in the latest Trailer, it looks like we will get to see how that unlikely father-daughter relationship transpired.

Apart from her – and Nebula, of course – Thanos has fathered enough children to form his own baseball team. He even had a child with his main infatuation: Mistress Death. 

And what did they call their sprog?

Rot, that’s what.

Aww, cute…?!

The last time the Mad Titan (dis)graced the Bronze Age he picked a fight with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in The Avengers Annual 1977 – another sterling job by Jim Starlin. 

And just like that, he was gone…

“And I thought we wuz friends!” – Pip The Troll.

…Until 1990, when The Silver Surfer (vol. 3) #34 (Feb. 1990) witnessed the revival of Thanos.

Talk about unstoppable.

He frequently guest-starred right up until ish #59 (Nov. 1991), while simultaneously stealing the show in The Thanos Quest #1 & 2 (Sept-Oct. 1990) and the monumental The Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (July-Dec. 1991).

After an appearance in Spider-Man #17 (Dec. 1991), any mini-series with “Infinity” in the title, whether it be Warlock And The Infinity Watch, Infinity War or Infinity Crusade, you could bet the Mad Titan would show up to deliver his own unique brand of carnage… 

If that wasn’t enough, he not only returned to The Silver Surfer (vol. 3) #86-88 (Nov. 1993-Jan. 1994), but managed to gate-crash Thor #468-71 (Nov. 1993-Feb. 1994); Namor The Sub-Mariner #44 (Nov. 1993); Secret Defenders #11-14 (Jan-Apr. 1994) and even frickin’ Ka-Zar fer cake’s sake! 

He featured in Thor (vol. 2) #21-25 (March-July 2000) and Captain Marvel (vol. 4) # 17-19 (June-Aug. 2001) before being reintroduced in Guardians Of the Galaxy (vol. 2) #24-25 (April-May 2010).

Notice in the forthcoming movie how Thanos isn’t going into this alone – he is aided by four shifty enhanced individuals – Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw and Black Dwarf – alternatively known as the Black Order, or the Children of Thanos. You saw them briefly in this latest Trailer, holding Loki captive. They have been exacting their duplicitous allegiance to the Mad Titan in the comics only since 2013, making one-panel cameos in New Avengers (vol. 3) #8 before being properly introduced in Infinity #1.

Their onscreen visages were unveigled at the Disney D23 Expo last year  – here’s hoping they can avoid the “Phasma-curse”: receive a tremendous pre-release buzz only to end up with having barely anything to do/say onscreen.  

The one female member of this band: Proxima Midnight is seen here (from last November‘s Infinity War trailer) flinging her spear – forged especially for her by Thanos at the valiant Captain Crumbcatcher: 

“Death follows him like a shadow” – Mantis.

James Gunn originally envisaged Thanos enjoying a more substantial role in the first Guardians Of the Galaxy movie, but Joss Whedon felt that: “the character needed to be threaded more gently” (whatever that means).

Personally, not hearing a single dickie bird said about Adam Warlock in relation to this Enhanced Individual Convention is a tad discomfortingAdam possesses the Soul Gem – embedded in his forehead – the one Infinity Stone yet to be revealed in the MCU; as Gamora said – in The Avengers Annual 1977: if there is one man in the galaxy who Thanos fears, it’s Adam. 

Besides, The Infinity Gauntlet mini-series saw them scrap mano a mado – a confrontation never far away from fans’ MCU wishlists.  

It would impress this ol’ fanboy no end to see, at the climax of this imminent record-breaker to watch Adam Warlock – defying all the pre-release gossip that he is not due to appear until Guardians Vol. 3 – make an electrifying entrance (before flashing that inevitably-annoying “To Be Continued” sign across the screen!)

No worries: this EPIC is brought to us by the ever-capable Joe and Anthony Russo who possessed that uncanny ability of turning me into a big fan of Captain America who, arguably, has the most impressive MCU trilogy. There is NO doubt that this dynamic duo can craft the marvel-ous spectacle we all crave, although it will be particularly interesting to see how they juggle a whole decade’s worth of awesome characters into 2 hours 36 minutes (TOO SHORT!!)

Heck, if they can handle the intergalactic infamy of Thanos then they are capable of anything.  

“Everyone, without knowing it, loses this day – save death! 

“For now, nothing can halt my ultimate plan for total stellar genocide! Soon, all who must suffer through that which is called life shall be granted the peace that only passing the Great Divide can bring!

“Yes, I shall grant them this tranquillity, for am I not ThanosAm I not the Dark Side? 

“Am I not Death?” – Thanos.

 

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!

“Don’t Delay, Book Today!”: The Entertainer Is Back in Town!

2ooth Post!!

The Entertainer Blogger Award comes to me from the talented and entertaining

Danica @ Living A Beautiful Life Thank You, Danica!

“You mean old books?”

“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”

“How could there have been stories about space travel before-“

“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up…” – Philip K. Dick.

Having succumbed to a particularly debilitating bout of Scribe’s Fever a few months ago, it was truly a delightnay, a blessing – to be presented with this particular Award. 

The Entertainer Blogger Award recognizes bloggers who are funny, inspiring and most of all, entertaining. This special Post – also marking my 4th Blogiversary! – happens to appear in the same week that this blog hit the 30,000 views mark. 

Yes, yes, this is a BIG brouhaha for me – it makes me want to dance on the beach; shout in the local library. Feel so high, wanna touch the sky etc. etc. 

One of the questions asked as part of this Award intrigued me:

What is your favourite book?

Thus, these last few evenings have been spent, deep within the cosy and cushty confines of the Sanctum Sanctorum @ Brad Manor, perchance to pour over the VAST array of books that one has accumulated across four decades and determineonce and for all – which of them proved to be The Life-Changers… 

“A room without books is like a body without a soul” – Marcus Tullius Cicero.

The most amazing SF novels to inspire me will – no doubt – feature here @ some point. Probably in two parts. Or even three… 

For this Post, we will – whole-heartedly – concentrate on the NON-fiction cabinet of my book collection. Selecting just FIVE titles proved to be quite a perplexing beard-scratcher in itself.

Without further ado, welcome to Brad’s Books 

Hmm, sounds like a vintage secondhand tome emporium, lost down some leafy English lane. No doubt such an establishment would look very much like the inside of his head: small, cramped, and full of dust and good reads. 

Aah, can see it now:  rather surly-looking fat Persian cat sits in the window, nestled on a comfy, leather-bound edition of How To Spot A Creep From A Distance.

A sign on the door reads: Come In, We Are Awesome!

“I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re sceptical” – Arthur C. Clarke. 

The first book that springs to mind is the tome that helped get me mixed up in SF in the first place – the joy of The Space Warriors has already been praised elsewhere, but then, it IS fiction, so instead, let me draw your attention to that other hefty tome snapped up around 1979/80: Alien Creatures, by Richard Siegel and J-C Suares. 

It is one of those books that could appeal at once to a moppet like me and an intellectual like my father. Its in-depth history of SF cinema came with such an incredibly stuffy, hi-brow text for such a small boy to ingest, (read it and appreciated it only fairly recently, in fact) – my immediate attention was especially drawn to the rare stills from the Flash Gordon RKO serials (repeated every morning during the school holidays back then) and Ray Harryhausen filmography then my main obsession.

In addition, it contained conceptual art by Ralph McQuarrie and “exclusive stills” of a space opera – from the director of American Grafitti – that had only appeared in cinemas that past Summer…

While that unexpected smash went on to transform big-budget moviemaking – and the whole course of science fiction (for the better?), Alien Creatures set the standard for what my bookshelves – back then: clean, sturdy and reputable keepers of knowledge – should come to expect… 

“Enticing, imaginative, readable, iridescent” – New York Times.

What’s that?

Want to read a book telling the story of how fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution transformed matter and life into consciousness?

Ha! Got just the thing – Cosmos by Carl Sagan admittedly, we were hooked by the ground-breaking TV series in 1980. In such a rare moment, the medium of television actually fulfilled its remit of offering an educational and entertaining programme.

In this bold project, here was someone – Dr. Carl Sagan – prepared to discuss the mysteries of the universe in a captivating and uncomplicated way. Not only did his book instil in me a wonder of science and a zest for all-things-cosmic, it taught me the value of questioning anything and everything (much to my teachers’ annoyance)…

And there are half a dozen groovy quotes accompanying each chapter, so when my blog came to fruition, one automatically assumed that quotes were obligatory – ha!

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be” – Carl Sagan.   

“Sh! We hear a rustling in the greenery and a soft sound of running feet. This is Procompsognathus, an early meat-eating dinosaur. But how small it is!”  

Every boy should have a book on dinosaurs, so Dinosaurs And Other Prehistoric Reptiles by Jane Werner Watson became my go-to – published in 1978, and it shows. The sauropods had to “stay in swamps to keep their massive bulk upright.” Moreover, the advances and discoveries made in palaeontology since this book’s publication are quite considerable. 

However, what sets this tome apart from all the rest is the INCREDIBLE artwork by Rudolph F. Zallinger. 

The wonder of this book lies in its staggering timeline. Along the bottom of each page, a yellow, numbered box represents a million yrs; a tiny illo shows which major type of dinosaur roamed Pangaea at that time. While each chapter describes the (pre)history of these palaeontological marvels – from the emergence of fish onto land to the final members of the Cretaceous Period – that timeline works in reverse. 

To put this gargantuan chronology into perspective, we homo sapiens barely make it halfway across the first page, while the dinosaurs hold sway throughout the majority of the book’s fifty pages…

Interestingly, the last (first?) beast to be featured is the fish-like Eusthenopteron that swam around 290 million years ago. The otherwise empty timeline terminates at 293 million years BC… 

“Down along the sunny shore, Tyrant Lizard finds the hunting better. He can walk fairly fast on his two legs on dry land. But he does not like to get too close to the water…”

“Science Fiction: still for some of us the most marvellous subject – or at least the second most marvellous subject. ‘The glory, jest and riddle of the world’ – at once abominable and abysmal in so many of its manifestations, and yet, in its best, the voice nearest to our inner voice” – Brian W. Aldiss (1925 – 2017). 

Now, where would this blog be without The Science Fiction Source Book?! 

Acquired during a Withdrawn Stock sale @ the local library, this veritable encyclopaedia of science fiction, first published in 1984 – edited by David Wingrove, with a Foreword by Brian W. Aldiss – represents, arguably, the best thirty-five pence ever spent. 

Following an introductory decade by decade Brief History of SF, there are sections discussing the sub-genres of SF; various small features describing the Art of Writing contributed by a whole host of leading writers; and a considerable A-Z Consumers’ Guide: listing authors from Edwin A. Abbott to Roger Zelazny.  

It has flown with me between three countries, in my travel bag, nestled next to both my writing journals, a copy of either Scientific Enquirer or The Economist, and whatever novel piqued my interest at that time. 

Even now, as this Post is prepared on my Dashboard, the Source Book lies in easy reach…

“The strength of Maisel’s approach to his grand theme lies precisely in its breadth… it is generously illustrated with diagrams, maps and graphs… both scholarly and accessible to non-specialists; indeed it is a tour de force” – David R. Harris, Director, Institute of Archaeology, London. 

Twenty years ago this quarter, mu Ancient History abd Archaeology degree @ The University Of Manchester began.

When the Unconditional Offer arrived through the post, my parents were so delighted. And relieved. My freelance journalism career had come to an abrupt, unforeseen halt the year before so my life needed a dramatic upturn. The next letter to come from Manchester felt like a dream – it contained a READING LIST!! 

Deep joy. 

Thus ensued a (mostly) satisfying book-hunt. At the Top Of The List – and deservedly so when recalling it in hindsight – was: The Emergence Of Civilization by Charles Keith Maisels.

Integrating Archaeology, Ecology and Textual History to produce a new Anthropological perspective, it charts the rise from hunter/gathering – through farming and advances in social complexity – to the rise of city-states in the ancient Near East.

Now, you’d think that a textbook with such chapters as:

“The relationship of demography and technology to social structure,”

“Is agriculture the outcome of technological discoveries?” 

and – whisper it – “The ecology of the Zagrosian Arc,”

would make for trying and tiresome studying, but no!

Far from it!

It proved to be endlessly fascinating, responsible for helping me to produce some of my most successful essays. My interest was, however, not all it managed to absorb…

One day, somebody accidentally sat on my backpack (don’t ask), thereby squashing my daily banana onto this academic behemoth. All three page edges remain cursed by dark, frightful – but fruity – stains. But for months the sweet essence of banana lingered.

Lo, every book tells its own story… 

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life” – Mark Twain. 

THANK YOU SO MUCH to each, and everyone of you, who have Liked and Commented on my various movies, comics, books, science and fiction gubbins.

Brad is a humble wordsmith, but is nothing without YOUR appreciation.

CHEERS!!

There is a lot more cool stuff yet to come. Promise!

And who does Brad Nominate for this Award?

Well, automatically, YOU who are reading this! (If you want to do an Entertainer Blogger post let me know and you will receive the full set of questions!)

By the way, this Post could not finish without a special shout-out to the Best Book Blogger In The Blogosphere, who can read a novel AND post its review faster than Brad can eat a burritothat’s some considerable talent right there…

Think she might be absolutely thrilled to see this: 🙂

“A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. So the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his/her life to this war with the forces of oblivion” – Umberto Eco.

As soon as this Post goes out, no doubt another half-dozen life-changing titles will spring to mind.

Ah well…

For the moment, this insightful, perhaps interesting dare one say it – entertaining – Post looks groovy enough.

Doesn’t it?

As for the Book With The Greatest Title Of All Time – it didn’t take long at all to work that one out: 😉

“Books are a uniquely portable magic” – Stephen King.

keep-calm-and-read-a-book

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them” – Ray Bradbury.

 

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. 

 

Blade Runner 2049: The Bradscribe Review

Future Perfect? More Sequel Than Sequel…?

“This is not some clunky franchise-farmed cash-in… With all the art and craft of the original, Denis Villeneuve has… gotten down and dirty in the gene pool, marinated in its enzymes, slept in its bed and dreamt its dreams. And then he’s gone to work” – The Sunday Times.  

“I want more life!” demanded Roy Batty, the peculiar, but poetic, doomed replicant from the classic original Blade Runner. 

Well – after all this time – should that masterpiece, one of the greatest – and self-contained – SF classics reviewed here: have been granted an extension of its existence?

Remarkably, these past few weeks, some critics have argued that Blade Runner 2049 has surpassed the original, taking the issues of humanity, genetics and identity to whole new astounding levels. 

Now, considering how this blogger included himself as one of those teeming masses baulking at a “new” Blade Runner movie, it is a revelation – not to mention a relief – to report that Blade Runner 2(049) has turned out to be a surprisingly engrossing visual and emotional experience.

“Despite all the overlaps, this is not a simulacrum of a Ridley Scott film. It is unmistakably a Denis Villeneuve film, inviting us to tumble, tense with anticipation, into his doomy clutches” – The New Yorker.

The plot of Blade Runner 2049 begins with Ryan Gosling, turning in an appropriately vacant and artificial presence as a new Runner: K (as in Philip K. Dick?), paying a visit to the isolated warehouse/abode of Dave Bautista’s Sapper Morton – retired from the rumble-tumble world of WWF to a barren sector of the Californian wasteland to Grow Green Stuff, Man. What the officer’s surveillance equipment discovers onsite leads to the main plot development: K questioning the nature of his own existence – “basically Pinocchio with more eco-pollution” as one reviewer rather facetiously described it.

When we eventually get to see the Main Man/Replicant/? Himself, it’s nice to see Villeneuve honour that traditional sci-fi dystopian trope of the protagonist wandering into somebody else’s gaff without even a knock or a “Yoohoo!”

As tired and drawn as the world he now (barely) inhabits, Deckard cuts a haggard, whiskey-slugging figure, with only a dog and a holographic Elvis to keep him company. Perhaps Ford’s finest performance in years. 

That wasn’t a real dog… was it? 

Shame it wasn’t a sheep – that would’ve been neat. No, seriously, in the novel, Rick Deckard keeps an artificial sheep on his roof, and only takes the job to retire those wayward  Nexus-6 replicants so that he can afford to buy a real domesticated ruminant mammal with a thick woolly coat…  

“The question at Blade Runner 2049’s pulsating heart has no glib answer… With dazzling adroitness, [Villeneuve] has built on Scott’s legacy to create something grander in scope and emotional range” – London Evening Standard. 

What about the Soundtrack? 

There are no exceptional tracks here – nothing to compare to Vangelis’ sumptuous Blade Runner Blues, the sensuality of the Love Theme, the achingly beautiful Memories Of Green, or the sweeping grandeur of Harps Of The Ancient Temples – regrettably, the score is just as equally soulless as its artificial antagonists…

There is another unsettling observation concerning Blade Runner 2049 that has largely gone unmentioned in other reviews. In this post post-feminist “society” women can look forward – ha! – to not much in the way of beneficial or progressive roles. There are some strong female characters – who can forget Sylvia Hoeks’ “Luv”? Robin Wright is enjoying a promising upturn in her career – here she plays K’s superior: Lieutenant Joshi, in an interesting, but underused, performance.

Apparently, Blade Runner 2049 fails the Bechdel Test i.e. can two female characters share the screen and NOT have a conversation about a man? Morover, this movie just falls short of the Bradscribe Test, specifically: are there 3-4 lines cool or snazzy enough to be quoted herein? When you consider how the original movie positively brims with terrific lines and conversations, sill fondly remembered and quoted 35 years later…

The virtual love interest is brought to you by Joi (Ana de Armas), a hypnotic beauty, but then, she would need to be a top-of-the-range model distracting enough to make any man (or woman?) forget that they exist in a murky dystopia beset with biospheric collapse, child labour camps, distracting neon billboards and Jared Leto – blind, bearded and as bonkers as a bat – ruling the roost from his ambient asylum, inflicting poor, unsuspecting souls with his unintelligible pseudobabble. His (mis)casting as Niander Wallace is perhaps my biggest grumble with this otherwise captivating movie.

Tell you what: going for a spin in his spinner, tha last thing Brad (hopefully not looking as old and thoroughly dischuffed as Harrison Ford does here) will want is to be distracted by a 50 foot holographic ballerina pirouetting past the bally windscreen, thank you very much…

“Blade Runner 2049 has been made with impeccable craftsmanship and taste, yet the film is so terrified of disreputability that it renders itself dead from the waist down, unable to derive pleasure even from a theoretically kinky robot three-way” – Slant Magazine.

Will 2049 end up matching – or even surpassing – its predecessor’s revered status in the pantheon of SF greats? 

Well, no. 

Look at its core components: more bleak, more brutal, less memorable and less inspiring – can these really be considered to be superior traits…?

Certainly not. 

Those folks who reckon this movie supersedes the original are merely revelling (somewhat prematurely) in hype. Nevertheless, during all the time we were suppressing the prospect of a sequel, little did we know that such a wondrous filmmaker as Denis Villeneuve could even exist…

“You’ve never seen a miracle,” Sapper Morton mumbles before being wiped off the cast list. Considering how much the audience were fidgeting, yawning and groaning throughout 2049’s 2hrs, 44 mins (unlike the spinners, time doesn’t fly in this hazy, amber-tinted future), it looked like they were being hard-pushed to find anything exceptional in this languid concoction. 

Always keen to watch more sophisticated, less action-stuffed film fare, my patience, however, was awarded with incredible visuals, an extraordinary narrative atmosphere, and the golden opp of seeing – no matter how grumpy he looks these days – the Ford Legend grace the big screen once more…

In answer to the question: “would you recommend it?” it strikes me as being one of those movies absolutely magnificent to watch once, but fails to incite the urge to pay it numerous viewings. Guess one misses that rain-soaked Chinatown and those fire-spewing ziggurats of good ol’ 2019 a tad too much… 

Brad doesn’t know how long it will take to get round to watching Blade Runner 2049 a second time.

Who does…?

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4 out of 5 glittering C-beams, but ooooh, only just…

 

“I was quit when I come in here, Bryant, I’m twice as quit now” – Rick Deckard.