Universal Pictures: An Exploration Of Cosmic Comics!

Because You Demanded It! Brad Goes Cosmic!

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“I spent some time in your system monitoring your television transmissions. I learned all about Earth’s culture from watching sitcoms” – Sphinxor.

“You have teleported me here to talk,” the being known as the High Evolutionary protested. “To discuss why my planet has been stolen. I await your answer.”

“My Ring-Shippers and I were contracted to move your planet by a race of beings called the Beyonders,” replied Sphinxor, Captain of the Ringship 1, Command Vessel of the Prime Movers of Tarkus. 

“They became aware of your experimental world while you were collecting the extra-dimensional mass to build it… This Warlock fellow looked to be a problem…” 

Yes! That’s Adam Warlock, the golden-skinned cosmic hero, and the primary reason for picking up what has turned out to be a quite scintillating ish of Marvel 2-In-1 (#63, May 1980). The Thing, Moon-Dragon and Starhawk team up to help save Counter-Earth. 

Mark Gruenwald (writer), Jerry Bingham (artist) and Gene day (inker) “join forces to concoct the wildest cosmic adventure ever!”

In this Summer’s voracious surge for Bronze Age delights, the overwhelming theme has been: cosmic. So what is it about cosmic comics that make them so enthralling?

Apart from tapping into that lifelong fascination with outer space (with which most of you would concur, right?), the joys of galactic adventures, bedecked with multitudes of weird and wonderful extraterrestrials, with supercool blasters and gleaming star cruisers is veritably the fuel on which traditional SF runs.

There are numerous reasons for why cosmic comics will forever be the best in my book (or blog).

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^ Page 10 of Marvel 2-In-1 #63 shows plenty of stellar action to satisfy anybody’s cosmic cravings.

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“From what we’ve been told, the Beyonders may be more powerful than any beings yet encountered by man – greater than Galactus, the Watcher, Thanos… any of them. As a scientist, I am curious” –  The High Evolutionary. 

The cosmic brand of story-line holds greater appeal,  primarily as the imagination is allowed the freedom to run a tad wilder. Moreover, this scintillating subgenre features some of the coolest and most powerful characters in the known Marvel Universe.

Not to mention the biggest – take (on) Galactus (if you dare!).

Asked who the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe could be, Stan Lee did not hesitate to answer: “Galactus, without a doubt.”

Undoubtedly, the cream of the cosmos has to be “The Coming of Galactus” which appeared in Fantastic Four # 48-50. 

But what are the chances of acquiring this series and NOT breaking the bank…?

Our old friend John Byrne contributed exceptionally to the cause of cosmic awesomeness by creating “The Trial of Galactus” which sprawls across Fantastic Four # 242-44; 252-55; and 257-62. Have already set my sights on them, regardless of my indifference to Reed Richards…

As a huge fan of Rom The Spaceknight – keen to pick up some of his classic cosmic escapades – Galactus actually appears in ish no. 26(!)

By Jove, the Bradmonitor lit up spectacularly when that news filtered through!

Minions! To the Bradmobile!

You’ll be pleased to know that they have already been dispatched forthwith across the quadrant to track THAT ONE down.

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“Fascinating. I’m in outer space, yet my costume automatically creates an energy field that not only protects me from the deadly cold and radiation… but provides me with a breatheable atmosphere as well” – Ms. Marvel. 

One of the classic cosmic stories – essential to anyone’s collection – would have to be The Magus Saga.

Featured in Strange Tales #s 178-81 and Warlock – yes! him again – # 9-11, it’s the reason why Adam Warlock is one of Marvel’s most intriguing protagonists. (If you don’t believe me, check the heaving prices of individual ishs charged by some of yer leading local Awemongers…)

Have already picked up some back ishs of Future Tense, a weekly comic produced by Marvel UK back in 1980; they include some reprints of early Adam Warlock stories. Fabulous stuff, but they only make me crave more of the Warlock

My mission to find more Ms. Marvel continues apace, and has turned up some surprisingly cosmic results.

#3: “The Lady’s Not For Killing” featured the Kree-powered superwoman flying into space on an intercept vector to prevent a missile from diving into the Kennedy Space Center. Upon finding an access hatch, what should spring out but the Doomsday Man!

Bingo – the same robot supposedly destroyed by the Silver Surfer way back when. Cue a bout of feisty female fisticuffs (in orbit). 

Written faultlessly as always by Chris Claremont, and amazingly imagineered by the invincible John Buscema it’s another great addition to the collection.

Groovy.

And there’s been no opp here to squeal about the Mighty Thor’s cosmic scrapes. Particularly that epic in which Galactus must call for Thor’s help in tackling a galactic foe which even he cannot smite…(!)

More mouthwatering delights yet to materialise here on Bradscribe!

Stay tuned: same Brad time! Same Brad channel!  

Meanwhile, back on that orbiting planetoid… 

“…We simply set up our stasis-rings and took off with Counter-Earth in tow…” Sphinxor droned on bureaucratically. “We kindly refer you to the Beyonders for any questions pertaining to what they intend to do with your world, okay?” 

“Then…” frowned the High Evolutionary. “You do not even know why they want my world?”

“That’s not my job, man.”

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“It just gives me the willies, bein’ taken apart atom by atom and bein’ put back together somewhere else” – The Thing. 

From All-Star To Dawnstar: Recent Vintage Acquisitions Read And Reviewed

The Quest For Classic Comics Continues…

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“Silence, please, everyone! I’ve been a little worried about how to tell you this … but, in my identity as Carter Hall, I’m going to enlist in the US Army!” – Hawkman.

And with this bombshell, so begins “Never Step On A Feathered Serpent!” the fifth issue of All-Star Squadron, a title whose debut ish (in September 1981) – with its mix of of superheroes and World War II history developed into an unputdownable phenomenon in the Bradhouse. 

My only regret is that (apart from #10, ten years later), no further ishs could be found.

Staying in the UK on extended leave, belaboured over the bonce by the Mace of Nostalgia, yours truly set aside this Summer to finally track down those comic classics from the so-called “Bronze Age” that eluded me all those moons ago, as well as checking out previously unseen titles. 

Three months ago, perusing the back ish departments of some handy awemongers’ emporiums in London, the ball started rolling with the purchases of All-Star Squadron, #s 5 & 7.

Was it a good start?

  • Squadron scrambled, or brain scrambled?

Amazingly imagineered by the invincible creative team of Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler, its reserved status in my collection is well-assured! But equally astounded at how this ish could have slipped past my Radar of Ninth Metal back in the day…

#7 is equally compelling, with the introduction of the Nazi costumed super-villain: Baron Blitzkrieg! 

Already looking forward to snapping up further ishs of this great title!

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“I’ll have to hit-and-run – use my speed and Kree-training to counter his brute strength – and try to wear him down!” –  Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel #15 (March 1978)

“Carol Danvers a woman who had it made – until the day radiation from an exploding alien machine gave her the skills and powers of a Kree Warrior, plus an uncanny Seventh Sense – transforming a human woman into… a heroine!”

With a proposed Ms. Marvel movie in the works, now would be a good time to catch up and get to know her – if anything, isn’t everyone curious to find out what radiation from an exploding alien machine does to you? Moreover, this Seventh Sense – it sounds groovy! – could we have some?

The woman with the Kree powers must battle Tiger Shark. This villain looks supercool on that dynamic cover (see above) and makes for a mighty antagonist inside.

The script is provided by Chris Claremont – always a big plus in my book! 

But when you consider the premise: woman in leotard is punched and has cars hurled at her by lunatic dressed as a shark… 

  • Marvelous, or Ms. Fire? 

Despite this dodgy premise, this ish is fab; the art by Mooney & DeZuniga is great, and there is a craving for more of this title.

Please note: his captive (who turns out to be the cousin of Namor – y’know: The Sub-Mariner!) is actually fully-clothed during the few panels in which she appears, so no fish-scale bikinis or strategically-placed hubcaps herein…

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“The thing is: that’s my Mom up there! What’s come over her since she won the Earth election?” – Colossal Boy. 

Legion of Super-Heroes was a title hugely enjoyed as a nipper. Now, an irresistible curiosity to find out what other ishs looked like spurred me on. #273 was the ish selected. 

Such characters as Wildfire and Tyroc were as cool as fudge, while others such as Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad(!) made the title unintentionally hilarious. 

One member of the Legion of Super-Heroes stood apart from the others: a graceful figure with a stunning pair of wings, her name was Dawnstar – or as her co-Legionnaire: the blond, green-skinned Brainiac 5 called her “Dawny.”

Hey, just be thankful this Post was not entitled Finding Dawny jeez, that sounds as corny as heck…!

  • So, Legend, or just leggo…?

What a swiz – she’s not in it! 

Undoubtedly, this is a compelling epic, bristling with drama!; intrigue!; the craziest super-cozzies you will ever see! And the story-line involving a revered Legionnaire framed for murder, wasn’t bad, but considering the immensity of the issue, and a high turn-out, where was the yellow, tassled one?

By the Black Nebula! It feels like your correspondent has been stood up…  

That other strong fave, Wildfire, barely got a look-in either.

Its been great to look at art not seen for 35 years – one or two other ishs will certainly be tracked down…

Even if it is just to see her again…

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“I am Gaius Tiberius Augustus Agrippa! I am power! – What kind of beings are you? Is all the world now the domain of monsters?” – 

During online research for comic art a few years back, my trail led to pages for an ish of Fantastic Four. Although not a fan of this so-called “World’s Greatest Comic,” both pen an’ pencilling duties for #241 (April 1982) belonged to the legendary John Byrne.

In “Render Unto Caesar,” S.H.I.E.L.D. has detected a mysterious power source emanating from the interior of Africa. With the aid of the Black Panther, the Fantastic Four go to investigate and discover – “Jupiter!” – a being, once a soldier in a distant outpost of Emperor Caligula. Almost two millennia ago, he stumbled upon alien technology to create a fabulous city, more splendid than the Roman Empire at its height.

He even neutralises the Fantastic Four’s superpowers. Irate at being selected to be his “Empress,” Sue Storm removes his golden helmet, only to find that- ha! Well, don’t let me spoil it for you! 

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  • Really Fantastic, or just a 4-letter word?

When this Summer of nostalgic comic-collecting set forth, a mental note was taken to look out especially for this one.

That priority was well-rewarded. 

Yes! Fantastic by name – undeniably fantastic by nature. With terrific guest-star appearances by Nick Fury and the Black Panther – two characters high on my Wanted list, this story: “Render Unto Caesar” is an absolute classic.  

Particularly enjoyed the amusing nod to Raiders (above), a light moment that presents its creator perfectly at the height of his enchanting powers.  

Feel the Byrne!

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“The X-Men would have trained me to use my mutant abilities more efficiently… If only I had joined them when I had the chance!” –  Dazzler.

Dr. Doom happened to be one of those characters sought after 30+ years ego, but never got him – could not find the relevant ish of the Fantastic Four that featured him.

Dazzler was a cult figure – “gifted” with the ability to convert sound into dazzling light – who got her own solo series.

The Monarch of Latveria guest-stars in #s 3 & 4. Ended up picking up the latter (it has a slightly more thrilling cover).

  • So, truly dazzling, or just dazzled off? 

Nah, this is not one of my better purchases.

The art by Frank Springer is good enough, but the prospect of a cutie mutie (…on frickin’ roller skates, fer cryin’ aht lowd!) never excited me even way back when yours truly was cute an’ supple enough to arse about with frickin’ roller skates. 

White flares are no match for a yellow, tassled cozzie. Any day… 

Good Grud, this is precisely the sort of infantile mag a chap of my age should not be bothering with – so will sell this on asap!

Hang on… 

If a character as lame as this could get her own series… and a popular fave such as Dr. Doom – or Dawnstar, for that matter! -couldn’t, well… 

Undeterred, my quest – delving further into the dense jungle of back issues – continues… 

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“This is one time… all the words in the Universe aren’t enough…” – Dazzler.

Voyage To The Bottom Of The Wardrobe!: Secrets Of The Bradscribe Comics Collection Revealed!

Some Time in The Future, Somewhere in Space:

An Earthship Careens Madly Through The Interstellar Void, Screaming At The Top Of Its Lungs Like A Lost Child. 

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“Excellent! Soon I shall be “rescued,” and my mission of sabotage against the fleshers shall begin” – The Skelon Astronaut. 

During every stay back in the UK, it’s always pleasant to seek out that box in the wardrobe – the one stashed away from the perils of light and dust.

In these dark and difficult times, it is gratifying to have something to fall back on – to escape into. And as writing about other, more mundane, subjects has brought little enjoyment, or success, this week, something therapeutic was called for… 

The first phase of my comic-collecting: 1979-1982 probably amounted to no more than 50 books – by all accounts a measly haul for a kid with such a voracious appetite for sci-fi action and adventure.

You may think that yours truly is a Marvel Man, but actually, the majority snapped up during those heady days were predominantly DC – such faves included Legion of Super-Heroes, All-Star Squadron and Dial “H” For Hero.

Just about all my comics were acquired at the news emporium on the concourse of London Victoria railway station, on the way home from Grandma’s gaff (but only during school holidays).

We had so little time before train departure, so snap decisions were the order of the day. My judgment was invariably hugely influenced by how wicked the cover looked. Primarily a team title rather than a solo title would be more economical, but if Legion of Super-Heroes – especially the Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes mini-series – was on display, that got snapped up instantly. 

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To this day, it’s beyond me why only one issue of Mystery In Space #116 (eerie and compelling outer space fare); Shogun Warriors #18 (actually the premise for Pacific Rim!); and Ghost Rider #52, which inspired me to draft my only (so far) screenplay focussing on a comic book character – came into my eager mitts, but then again, poor distribution played a regrettable part in these proceedings…

In addition, Mum was not so keen on me acquiring too many comics anyway. 

Speaking of cool covers, they mostly got cut out and compiled into a well wicked  (we never said “awesome” back in those days!) scrapbook (hey, does anyone still keep them these days?!) which subsequently, much to my dismay, “vanished without trace.”

Of the various interior pages and very few complete ishs to survive, here is a peek at a select few: 

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“My belt of gravity-resisting Ninth Metal can’t possibly halt that bomber’s plunge, but I’ve got to try!” – Hawkman. 

There is a fondness for a particular DC title that made its debut in 1981.

Can still remember finding the first issue of All-Star Squadron (dated September 1981) set in the alternative world of Earth-2, with its iconic cover.

That Fabulous First Issue ended up being my one remaining copy until picking up #10 during my second phase of collecting ten years later.

The Squadron itself was a superhero ensemble formed just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. They are presented with the dilemma of disbanding the team so individual members can go and enlist in the armed services. Undoubtedly, the main attraction with this title was Hawkman, and the 40s detail which always looked amazing.

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No! Our orders are to destroy Herne and recover the medallion. That trinket is the key to our destruction. Stay… I will deal with Herne personally” – Algol The Terrible.

It was not all about DC and Marvel Comics. 

Alternatively, a regular pocket-sized book called: Starblazer – “Space Fiction Adventure In Pictures” appeared in the UK from 1979 onwards. Although acquiring only half a dozen of these, they were a welcome form of diversity at a time when SF comics were multiplying at such an unprecedented rate. With over 200 books, the title offered some of the finest writers and artists in the business until its demise in 1991).

For most fans of this obscure series, the first one bought happened to be the best. You really couldn’t get any better than Algol The Terrible, famous now for being one of the earliest weeks of acclaimed comics writer: Grant Morrison. 

Algol‘s appearance and actions were impressionable enough to guarantee him a place in my Top Villains Of All Time. 

And his gimmick? 

A stash of sonic javelins slung in a quiver across his back – a weapon so potent they “could vibrate any solid object apart.” 

Oh dear…

Standing defiantly against him was Herne The Outlaw, one of Starblazer’s very few recurring characters.

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“C’mon, Brad, quit bothering me. I said I don’t want to go out with you anymore” – Vicki Grant.

Last, but by no means least, it’s back to the endearing DC stable for Dial “H” For Hero (which appeared in several issues of Adventure Comics). 

Legion of Superheroes served me very well, so it’s such a shame that none of my copies survived. Issue 272 contained a Preview of Dial “H” For Hero; these particular pages have survived the cull, and are steeped in cosy nostalgia for me.

Based on a really cool idea, Vicki Grant and Chris King, two high school students, stumble upon a couple of strange lockets that, when activated, turn them into different superheroes (albeit only for one hour). This title appealed because of its innovative concept: different heroes (and villains!) were each created by a reader who had submitted their own ideas. In the panel where the good/bad guy/gal made their first appearance, that creator’s name, age and hometown were mentioned.

My particular fave was “The Silver Fog was created by Harlan Ellison, Age 46.” His dramatic, if unconventional, entrance on the splash page is lovingly reproduced for you below:

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Would have given anything to see my Danger Man recreated by the legendary Carmine Infantino, but that exceptionally high airmail fee dashed all my plans before they could get anywhere.

In case you were wondering where exceptional faves: ROM and Thor can be found, they will be getting their own Posts in due course… 

That wardrobe doesn’t store as many comics as one would have liked, but that box contains some of the most significant works sifted through on rainy days or sleepless nights down the years. Most importantly, these comics played a major role in influencing and shaping my own writing.

And yes, Brad always had a soft spot for Sunspot:

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Cakecharmer!: The Adventures Of Brad Fartlighter

MAKE CAKE NOT WAR!

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“He is the fool saint,

The golden stranger living forever

On the edge of reason.

Let your guard fall and he is there!” – The Ghola’s Hymn.  

“Damn your circuits, Nacho!” Major Spoiler seethed. “Where is that bounder named Brad?!”  

The megalomaniac way in which the officer’s bulbous head wobbled like that as he barked informed the clueless fearless troupe: Brad Company that somethin’ serious was brewin’.

And it wasn’t Brad’s Earl Grey…

“He is right here-“

“Then bring on that renegade Battleforce Commander, curse you!” the officer thundered.

“Give him time, sir. He broke a leg running through a comcam vector and has been in a rotten mood ever since we left orbit, so-”

“No biog, Nacho – just put him on…”  

The Commander hobbled forward: “Yo, Big Ears! How ya doin’?” Brad chirped.

“Harrumph. Impudent to the last…”

“Yeah, well, whatcha want? The burrito is getting cold and I’d much rather spend more time with that, know wha’ I mean-?”

“The Zandokans are back in your sector! We need you now, more than ever – the way you led the Resistance and drove five divisions of Zandokan Shokk Troopers off Marsbar was… exceptional-” 

“Only ‘cos those dozy ‘tards knocked me cake onto the floor…” 

“Don’t be so… so self-effacing, Commander. You’ve got to take this job. You see… you really don’t have a choice in the matter. May I remind you that the cred-count for you bozos has tripled since our last vid-conf. And let me tell you: the Calista Blockhead is a top-of-the-line Sentinel-Class Starship which you stole and-“

“Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Let’s get something straight here, fella – when yours truly puts in a request for something, your desksuckers turn me down! If I don’t take it, I don’t get anywhere; I’m a Commander – I commandeer things, simple as, DAMMIT…”

“Hmm,” the self-righteous turniphead growled. “That’s your… philosophy is it?”

“Yo momma…” 

“Ahem. We could take away your commission…” 

“Ha, try it coochie-coo. Just try…” 

“Now listen here, Commander. I have just about had enough-” 

“Sweet, me too! Shut him off, Lex…”

And with that, the amazing Lexi flicked the monitor off. The renegades were left in silence once more.

“He needs you,” Lexi purred sarcastically. “He needs the famous Brad-“

“Yeah, well. Who doesn’t, lov? Now that’s done, let’s see where we can go… Okey-dokey, help me over to the nav-console, Nach.”

“Yo, you got it, boss! Er, which is your jammy leg? Is it that one?” 

“IT’S THE ONE WITH THE PLASTER CAST, EEE YA DOZY HA’P’ORTH! For goodness sake! Flamin’ Nora…”

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“Brad is a real man’s man” – Angelina Jolie.  

The pips on Lexi’s console started bleeping far too regularly for comfort. 

“Don’t tell me…” Brad face-palmed. “That’s who I think it is… is’nit?”

“Yep,” she muttered reluctantly. “A Zandokan K8-Class battle-cruiser de-cloaking off the starboard bow.”

“Nuts… I TOLD you not to tell me…” 

“Er, Commander…” Lexi gulped. “They’re hailin’.” 

“Bummer- fine, put ’em on the screen…” Brad groaned.  

Sure enough, Brad’s arch-nemesis: Zegreatme filled out the screen, smug and supercilious as always:

“Look how old you’ve become…”

“It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage-“

“D****d inzolent c*r, Bred! Ve should haf conzigned you to ze stazziz toobs on Altair IV vhen ve hed ze chence!”  

“Yeah well, sorry ta disappoint’cha, fella, but th-“

“ENNUV, Bred! Your kek-guzzleeng days air ovair! By ze vay… how is ze leg…? Air could get zum of meh agents to admineestair a CLEEN BREK to your uddair leg. Zhen, Cammandair, you vould attain vot hes alluded you yer whole life: conseestency, heh heh heh…!  

“Damn you, you Zandokan moof-milker! Tell me, Zeggy, why are you Zandokans so-” 

“ZYLENZ! En’ leesen! We eemplore you, for the oompteenth tai-eem, Cammandairdo NOT get embroieelled in Zandokan matterzzz-” 

“Blimey Charley, this is the livin’ end. Shut ‘im off, Lex,” Brad seethed.

In that moment, Ensign Crow Magnon yelled: “TORPEDOES COMIN’ IN!”

“SHIELDS UP!” Brad blurted.

He grabbed the Com as a piercing red light shot across the main monitor. The blast shook the Bridge. Chief Engineer Harris Wrench yelped as his quesadillas fell onto the floor.

A wicked Zandokan chortle erupted on the main audio channel.

“Heh heh heh, zat vill teach you to sweetch me urf in meed-sentenz, Bred-fool! Ehr… juzt one more theeng: our Empeerial Tractair Beeem haz juzt confeescated ALL YOUR KEK! Zo long, zuckairs, HA!”

In a flash, the Zandokan ship blasted off into hyperspace. 

“Jeez, Brad…” Lexi cried, glaring at her console in alarm. “He’s right! They’ve seized ALL OUR CAKE from the storage units-”

“Argh! Why, I oughtta… oof; that does it! Set a course for the Wotatease System; cake- (sorry) make OUR jump to hyperspace!” 

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“Brad is only getting more handsome with age. He also bears a striking resemblance to the iconic Robert Redford…” – Entertainment Weekly. 

“Eef you vont zees job done properly, Major…” Baal Maag, the top Zandokan assassin, growled through the vid-comf monitor: “you should tell me more about zees renegade cammandair-turned-bloggair…”

“Very well,” Spoiler spouted, contemplating the traits that best defined the man. And then he realised the sheer immensity of his task: the cake, the burritos, the kebabs, the katsu curries, the beef and jalapeno bake; not to mention the dakgalbi, and bibimbap buffet, the copious cups of tea, and yet more oodles of scrumptious cake…

“Oh Lord… where do I begin…?” 

Meanwhile, just outside the Yuhafbinhad Nebula… 

In the Calista’s cafeteria, the cool-as-fudge Terran Commander was waiting for his tea to brew.

“Come on, damn you. Come ON!”

While those Zandokan feckwits were streaking ever further away across the galaxy – with Brad’s cake, don’t forget! – Brad Company had HAD to beam aboard the Ambassador of Wahtalaf. Initially, Brad had baulked at such a costly diversion, until Lexi reminded him that here, some of the finest confectionery this side of the Oort Cloud could be obtained… 

“First things first, Your Excellency: howsaboutta cuppa tea?” 

“Let’s not concern ourselves with that just now. It’s a long and complicated operation-“

“What?! To make tea? Come, come, fella, there’s really nothin’ to itit’s a piece of cake- HA!” 

“No, I mean the operation we want you and your band to undertake. PLEASE, Brad, you ARE the celebrated Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger; Scourge of the Necroscoffers of Nippleheim. Can we count on you to incite rebellion among the Screwheads of Shakatak? Force them to overthrow the Flaccid Empire of Scrotum IV and restore freedom and ping pong balls to the galaxy?! Eh, Commander…? What say you?!” 

“Do you take milk and sugar?”

to be continued...

The Lost Scribe: Where Is Brad?!

Bradscribe Has Vanished… 

UNBALANCED: "Why did he leave...?"
UNBALANCED: “Why did he leave…?”

Wake! For the Sun, who scatter’d into flight 

The Stars before him from the Field of Night, 

Drives Night along with them from Heav’n, and strike

The Sultan’s Turret with a Shaft of Light” – Omar Khayyam.

He was blogging along merrily as usual until – all of a sudden – readers drifted away and the Stats plummeted. It is hard to believe how one so cosmic – so totally with it – could have just upped and left… 

But Kismet decreed that if there were to be no readers, there would be no incitement to write. For the time being, at least. Thus, these unforeseen circumstances provided an ideal time to recharge his creative battery, and prepare for a stupendous comeback, when he would – like Ant-Manbecome bigger and better than before. 

And so, the past few weeks presented the opportunity for him, and his fabulous wife, to detach themselves – albeit briefly – from the technological trappings of the “modern age.” And escape, literally, into the Middle of Nowhere. To seek out the Centre of Knowledge. 

They “got away from it all” – yay, Mr. and Mrs. B got off the grid. 

No surprise, really. It’s as if he has completely fallen off this quadrant… 

Most likely, he skedaddled to the Outer Rim – even his ol’ mate: Maz said: “There, you can disappear…”

Some say there were rumours – nay, stories – of him traipsing off on some foolhardy pilgrimage across the galaxy to the Mojo Temple, to rediscover what he had lost…  

THE WANDERER: "Seeking out the poorer quarters Where the ragged people go, Looking for the places Only they would know."
THE WANDERER: “Seeking out the poorer quarters, Where the ragged people go, Looking for the places
Only they would know.”

“He probably enjoyed being a man of mystery. He embraced the allusions in his life just as much as those that appeared in the many stories he wrote” – J J Furie. 

STARDATE: 04.05.2559.

They left the land-speeder halfway up the mountain – the gradient seemed far too steep to climb. Sure, it was really hot, but still too early in the morning for the sun to have reached its searing zenith.

Out there – in the back of beyond – you would be lucky to have any electricity, let alone a reliable internet connection. Among a cluster of wooden chalets at the summit, the guru awaited their arrival. She had sought his counsel many moons ago; he had read several of his inspirational articles in the papers – this monk seemed like the right Ajarn [teacher] to visit at the right time… 

There was no time to linger and inhale the incense in the Inner Sanctum. 

All three talked for ages. The Scribe had countless questions on philosophy and spirituality – too many for that session – so promised to return one day soon… 

And before the westerner departed, the easterner asked him if he would – at some point – consider becoming a monk…

As the sun gradually diminished that evening, the world-weary wordsmith reclined to view the glorious blood-red and orange sky – it’s not every evening you can watch something as awesome as that back in the Western Regions.

And he beamed heartily at the Field of Night, safe in the knowledge that most of his stress had dissolved…

And all those pursuers were far, far away…

BRAD'S ARMY: He fights the dreaded Zandokan Shokk Troopers... so you don't have to.
BRAD’S ARMY: He fights the dreaded Zandokan Shokk Troopers… so you don’t have to.

“I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about” – Arthur C. Clarke.

Meanwhile, halfway across the galaxy… 

The elite division of Shokk Troopers stood aside, allowing the dreaded Dark Lord: Zegreatme to stride forth.

The denizens of that spaceport dared not look directly at his visor, for fear that – with one flick of his glistening bionic hand – he would order their instant execution… 

The Zandokans stopped outside the Ravenous Greedo Cantina – yeah, this looked like the sorta crummy dive that blogger would frequent. The Troopers burst in, laser-rifles at the ready; the Dark Lord drummed his talonic fingers on the hilt of his laser-sword impatiently as he surveyed a cluster of i-monitors along the far wall. 

His agents detected high levels of chocolate cream around one console, indicating that quite considerable cake consumption had occurred in this vicinity, very recently. 

And the nacho crumbs proved to be a dead giveaway…

Their sensors revealed a half-completed Captain America: Civil War review saved in the hard drive. The Dark Lord face-palmed, knowing only too well that the Scribe had fled not long before their Imperial Skorpion Kruiser had landed…

“Vhere ees Bred now?!” he growled.

Gesturing manically to his minions to get back outside and question each and every passerby, stopping any denizen to ask them THAT question proved to be a futile move.

For the frightened locals just stared in bewilderment and uttered the same response:

Bradscribe…?! I thought he was a myth…”

NOT AS BRAD AS IT SEEMS...: "And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up..."
NOT AS BRAD AS IT SEEMS…: “And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up…”

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life” – Marcus Aurelius.

Bradscribe will return…

 

………………………………?? 

And The Bradscribe Award For Best Sci-Fi Of The Year Goes To…

The Bradscribe Awards 2015: What Was Best: Maz, Max, Mish Or Machina?

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The academy may pride itself on its history, but the world around it is changing, and unless it begins to reflect these changes, I can see the Oscars ceasing to be of any relevance to a growing and vocal new generation of artists who see it as a relic of the old world” – David Harewood.  

Hello and welcome to the Bradscribe Awards!

As we were blessed with a year brimming with various cinematic nuggets to choose from, it’s only fair to review it in our own lavish ceremony. And besides, many of you have been wondering – especially as this site has slagged off more than its fair share of crud these past twelve months – what actually managed to impress me during 2015!

One thing you can be certain about the Bradscribe Awards – activated to honour the criminally-overlooked field of science fictionthey are bright and visionary. And diverse. Nominees can be black, brown, blue or green. Or shiny and chrome. 

Also, there’s lots of cake on offer…

Why Don’t The Oscars Celebrate SF?

Sigourney-Weaver

“It is a genre that I think doesn’t get enough respect when you consider how many issues sci-fi brings up that we need to deal with” – Sigourney Weaver.

There seems to be an unwritten rule stipulating that science fiction – and fantasy, and horror, come to that – do not receive awards recognition in the main categories. Sure, the Academy recognises the technical achievements of this genre, but really, you can quite easily find some of the best scripts and acting in this continually innovative field.

In trying to sort this migraine out, trust longtime Bradscribe fave, Sigourney Weaver, to come to the rescue:

“The work being done in sci-fi is some of the most interesting, provocative work out there.”

Yet why should this genre tend to make little impact when Oscar season gets into full swing?

She has remarked how the Academy consists of “mostly people like me who are over a certain age” who tend to look for the “the more conventional movie.”

Uff, nuts to that. 

Part of SF’s wonder is its ability to offer more unconventional thrills. Rather than get stuck in the same mundane, formulaic soup – which, let’s be honest, too many mainstream dramas do – the genre is experimental and challenging, vital components sought, surely, by the modern movie-goer.

Before launching into the main ceremony, here’s a little sketch to get you warmed up. Hey, it was either this, or a flashy-but-ultimately-pointless song-an’-dance extravaganza: 

Without further ado, let’s get down to the essential categories:

Best SFX: Mad Max: Fury Road

Jurassic World just looked big; Star Wars: The Force Awakens looked impressive, but Namibia nabbed it.  

Best Music Score: Mad Max: Fury Road

This would have been set aside for John Williams – continuing the fine tradition of classic scores for Star Wars – but on first viewing, the new score was barely discernible. 

Best Original Screenplay: Ex Machina

Intellectually-stimulating sci-fi is what we crave at this site. Nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, how it did not win last night is my pet peeve of this year’s ceremony. 

Congrats to Alex Garland, who made his directorial debut with this instant classic. Here, honestly, this Award was as predictable as that Titanic boy getting the Best Actor Oscar… 

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Martian 

Drew Goddard worked wonders with Andrew Weir’s novel.

Rising Star Of The Year 

boyega-rising-star

“It’s important that the conversation carries on… Everybody should be the change they want to see and go from there, but keep talking, keep doing” – John Boyega. 

This Rogue Stormtrooper received most of the biggest laughs at the packed cinema this reviewer attended. While everybody is quite rightfully lauding Daisy Ridley as the new New Hope – an equally impressive entry to the SW galaxy, we should not overlook this young and promising boy from Peckham. The Oscars have, but Brad hasn’t…

*

Let’s assess candidates for the Woman Of The Year and Man Of The Year:

Woman Of The Year 

Always keen to catch strong and memorable women’s roles, especially in SF. However, there seemed to be fewer notable women’s roles on offer this year. Emilia Clarke should have brought in an exceptional Sarah Connor, but had weak material with which to work; and Bryce Dallas Howard made a mark only by outrunning a T Rex. In high heels. Never gonna let that lie… 

But who made it onto the final list? 

Honestly, Sigourney should be here – for old times sake – but Chappie was so underwhelming; even she couldn’t make it bearable. Instead, we have plumped for:

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5. Scarlet Witch 

It was great to see Wanda Maximoff on the big screen at last, but so frustrating that she had so little to do, and had barely any “character” to develop sufficiently. Oh well, hope she gets more (worthy) screentime in the forthcoming Captain America: Civil War… 

maz-kanata

4. Maz Kanata

Maz is over one hundred years old, and she had – until those First Order loons swept in and trashed the place! – her own swell pad at which anyone in the galaxy can hang out; even got her own awesome statue outside it(!). She happens to possess Luke’s lightsaber, and also counts Chewie as her boyfriend. Way ta go, girl! 

Furiosa

3. Imperator Furiosa

When Mad Max made his energising and explosive return to the big screen, little did anyone expect that Cherlize Theron would not only steal Immortan Joe’s War-Rig, but steal all the scenes in the year’s most explosive actionfest. Her presence was so seismic that the subtitle should have read: Furiosa Road. 

alicia-vikander

2. Alicia Vikander

As Eva: the AI centre of attention in Ex Machina this Swedish actress made an immediate impact. And held her own against the big boys in The Man From UNCLE. Already looking forward to her next projects.

Congrats to Alicia for confounding the run of play by snatching the Best Supporting Actress gong; but really, she deserved the Best Actress Oscar. For a vastly more impressive picture…

This girl should go far. We hope. 

1. Not surprisingly, the Real Greatest Woman of this – and, for that matter, every other – year just happens to be – unreservedly, wholeheartedly: Mrs. B, but seeing how we really should be talkin’ about movie stars (and me darlin’ still won’t reverse that online pics ban) let’s move swiftly on. 

But in case you’re still wondering, you can find the Woman Of The Year here:

And now, on to the:

Man Of The Year 

antman-poster

5. Ant-Man.

Always a personal fave comic character, it seemed inconceivable how the tiniest Avenger could transfer easily onto the big screen. Initially, Paul Rudd looked like a disastrous case of miscasting, but he helped make this little movie the surprise package of the year. 

andy-serkis-ulysses-klaw

4. Andy Serkis

The actor most synonymous with motion capture – who lit up the Bradmonitor when he first crawled onscreen as Gollum – not only brought us our new villain of the Dark Side: Supreme Leader Snoke, but a traditional live action nasty called Ullysses Klaw in Avengers: Age of Ultron. 

Always a treat to watch, Serkis is the only reason to look forward to yet another Planet of the Apes sequel. 

Kylo

3. Kylo Ren

The villain of the long-awaited new Star Wars episode, had to make a rather special impact. Fotunately, Kylo Ren did just that. How many times has Brad replayed that scene of him staggering through the dark forest, then energising his lightsaber? Guess that correctly, dear reader, and YOU can have a slice of cake… 

Best Supporting Actor Award for Adam Driver methinks?

Ultron-up

2. Ultron

“Look at me! Do I look like Iron Man?!”

Traditionally a formidable villain in the Avengers comic, a certain degree of trepidation led up to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. 

No worries! They got the look just right. Voiced malevolently by the Amazing Spader-Man, he turned out to be supercool as well as superbad! And he was blessed with oodles of great lines! 

In any other year, Ultron would have stolen this category, but there was one fella who managed to impress me even more, and that was: 

1. Oscar Isaac

Oscar-Isaac-2016-Golden-Globes

“There’s some stuff he’s got in his tool set which is properly rare. Fierce talent, that’s what you want – and that’s exactly what Oscar’s got. You don’t need to be a filmmaker to see it” – Alex Garland. 

You may be thinking this was staged so that yours truly could chortle: “And the oscar goes to Oscar!”

Ha ha, no really, ever since spotting him steal scenes from the Crowe way back in Ridley Scott’s otherwise lacklustre Robin Hood, Isaac has been carving a very special niche in modern movies. He gave one of the best performances of the year in Ex Machina, but Poe Dameron was woefully underused.

We just can’t wait to see him steal the show as the eponymous archvillain in X-Men: Apocalypse!

Right? 

Crud Of The Year 

cruise-th-only-good-bit-1495

“It was stupid. It was trash… It was not a flop that quietly came and went without anyone noticing. It got the disrespect it deserved” – Joe Queenan.

Gotta take the rough with the smooth, so they say, but even so…

It’s hard to believe, but 2015 still manage to serve up some particularly underwhelming duds. Rather than rant eloquently about the ever-dwindling standard of movie-making, let’s get these turkeys out of the way, sharpish:

Chappie; Fant4stic Four; Jupiter Ascending; Pixels; Terminator: Genisys;

Even presented with the offer of sitting through this abysmal cack for free, you still couldn’t entice me. Honestly, you would think Game Of Thrones adequately paid Peter Dinklage’s rent, so why did he have to get involved in this tragedy? 

Let’s cheer ourselves up with the:

Magic Moments Of The Year 

Well, bless my frickin’ quarnex battery! Here are the most awesome scenes to have graced our local popcorn parlours this past year:

5. 2015 Arnie vs. 1984 Arnie in Terminator: Genisys

You can’t beat nostalgia. A stylish nod to the classic scene from the original Terminator movie. If only the rest of the movie was as cool as this. One to search for on Youtube only.

4. T Rex vs. Indominus Rex from Jurassic World

This fourth installment of the Dinoland franchise may not have wrangled its way onto my Best of The Year list, but the climactic scrap between these two giants evokes the spirit of the original Jurassic Park. An extra slice of cake for that Mosasaurus 😉 If anyone can get near it, that is…

3. Kylo Ren stops a laser blast in midair

 So Snoke says Kylo needs to complete his training. If he can do that, his powers look pretty formidable to us!   

em5

2. That Ex Machina Dance 

Just when you think you’re gonna bust some heavy-duty grey matter getting to grips with the premise of top class AI drama: Ex Machina, so Professor Isaac – really unexpectedly – teaches us how to cut up the dance floor – yeah! This was destined to be THE Magic Moment Of The Year, until we gawped at: 

1. The Sandstorm from Mad Max: Fury Road

Let’s face it, all two hours of this exhilarating high-octane thrill-ride exudes movie magic of the highest calibre, but you can enjoy this classic scene right here: 

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The cake!

Best Movie Of The Year

So, what provided the most outstanding viewing experience of the year?

  • It was wonderful to be able to marvel at a new Star Wars movie, but although it was great to have new exciting characters and elements to savour, feelings that we were watching a retread of the 1977 original still filtered through.
  • The Martian certainly provided our happiest visit to the cinema together this past year.
  • Ex Machina is the solidly-written, well-crafted thought-provoking movie that the genre cries out for, but:

The frenetic energy, stunts, and sheer irresistible spectacle of Mad Max: Fury Road clinches it!

Last, but not least, is the:

Outstanding Contribution To Film

douglas-slocombe-4670

Douglas Slocombe was a British cinematographer of exceptional skill. Some of his film credits: Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Italian Job (1969) and the Indiana Jones trilogy, read like a list from the Bradscribe Hall of Fame. 

He passed away last Monday aged 103. As a tribute, here is perhaps his most iconic work: 

So, congrats to Max. Your cake is thoroughly well-deserved. 

While compiling this Post, we were delighted to learn last night that Fury Road secured a mightily impressive hoard of six Oscars: Costume Design; Editing; Make-Up; Production Design; Sound Editing; and Sound Mixing. 

But why stop there? Best Actress should have gone to Theron; moreover, Fury Road deserves Best Picture…

Officially the top cinematic sensation of 2015, show us your appreciation, Max: 

mad-max-thumbs-up

Oh, what a year! What a lovely year!

And they discovered water on Mars. Which was nice. 

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Star Wars Prequel Blog-a-thon: The Phantom Menace [Week 1]

Star Bores I: A Spent Force… 

phantom1

“I’m sure this one will do fine…” – George Lucas.  

Always gratifying to expunge one’s demons, so they say. So it is with the wretched Star Wars prequel trilogy. 

As part of a blog-a-thon devised by Ashley over at boxofficebuzz, these much-maligned prequels have come under scrutiny, and she gladly accepted my participation.

Back in 1999, the hype for a BRAND NEW STAR WARS MOVIE(!) was phenomenal. George Lucas was ready to come out of his directorial hiatus and tell us how Anakin Skywalker – the Jedi apprentice of Obi-Wan Kenobi was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force and became Darth Vader. So, what did Brad make of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace? 

Let’s just say it was a trip to the cinema he will NEVER forget…

This Post follows boxofficebuzz’s What works/What doesn’t work format, although – let’s face it – the latter is going to be a significantly longer section…

Darth-Maul_632eb5af

“I was apprenticed to the most powerful being in the galaxy once. I was destined to become… so much more” – Darth Maul.

What works:

  • Darth Maul: by far the standout element of Episode I. 

As a fan of aliens/villains in hooded cloaks, it’s difficult not to be mesmerised by the spectacular choreography of Ray Park. The extraordinary makeup is both devilish and distinctive. And hell, he’s everyone’s fave Dathomirian Zabrak ‘cos of his supercool dual-bladed sabrestaff. Strangely enough, this Sith apprentice was the very first aspect of preview images to catch my attention. Remember thinking at the time: we’re in for one helluva good cinema trip…

Rather than inevitably load up that lightsaber duel scene itself – still amazing after 17 years – this featurette is worth a look: 

  • The Pod Race

Admittedly, this was fun the first time we watched, and the only sequence not including Darth Maul worth extra viewing. Sebulba is a particularly dastardly figure, and the ensuing carnage makes for compelling viewing. Obsessed with Tatooine’s Tusken Raiders, watching them twenty years later taking pot-shots at the pods was a joy. But please, leave out the two-headed commentator (speaking English?!)

  • John Williams triumphs with the music score. As always. 

Undoubtedly the most outstanding track here is Duel of the Fates. Could you imagine the lightsaber battle without it? 

iain-mccaig-queen-amidala-designs

“How does it feel to see my designs out in the world? All you can do is sit back and watch in amazement” – Iain McCaig.

  • The conceptual designs of Iain McCaig:

One of my favourite SF/fantasy artists is Iain McCaig. It was a really exciting day when news broke that he was working on Star Wars: Episode I. He was the artist solely responsible for creating the terrifying look of Darth Maul, and designing the outlandish costumes worn by Queen Amidala. 

Although some of his concepts – such as the most reviled alien in the universe – did not make the transition to the big screen so well, his exceptional artistic contribution should be honoured as one of the prequel trilogy’s scant saving graces.

  •  The J-type 327 Nubian Royal Starship:

Super-sleek, covered in chromium, this vessel carries more class and sophistication than any of the dialogue or acting. Such a wonderful design, it does not belong in such a below-average blockbuster. 

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“Phantom Menace is, ultimately, so extraordinarily objectionable… Nothing has the right to bore and disappoint us this much” – Peter Bradshaw. 

What doesn’t work (where do we begin?!):

At the beginning, of course…

  • The beginning: is so lame and monotonous. 

“Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.” 

Really? Who gives a monkeys? Suddenly, John Williams’ oh-so-familiar perpetually-stirring theme tune feels incongruous when set to this mind-numbing scrawl. Honestly, this is the intro to a NINE-PART SAGA, and that is the best you can come up with, George?! Remember the opening scene of Episode IV? Yeah! NOW THAT is how you begin a blockbuster! 

  • The taxation of trade routes:

How was this needless attention to economics and politics supposed to engage with the infant cinema-goers?

  • The script: NONE OF THIS RUBBISH MAKES ANY SENSE.

More than the original trilogy, the inanity of the dialogue is called into question; you can’t call any of these figures “characters” because they are never fleshed out/explained. There is no reason/motivation for these figures to stick together, just as there is no reason/motivation for them to travel from one side of the set/planet to the other and – most of all – there is zero character development, so nobody comes out alive (literally).

  • The CGbloomin’I 

Those aliens aren’t real; that droid army certainly isn’t real; fx over here – fx over there – fx every-frickin’-where. And it’s all so tediously obvious. Thus, the screen is beset with absolutely no sense of wonder. And the magic – that endeared the original trilogy to millions – is depressingly absent.  Look, George, it would have been a whole lot easier melting my retinas staring at a video game for 133 minutes instead…

And while we’re on the subject:

  • That droid army: What a bunch of fragile, useless, near-sighted scrap piles!

It’s far too easy to destroy them. The old phrase: “Could knock them down with a feather” could not be more apt. Nothing to fear then, especially during:

  • The Battle of Naboo:

As a fan of SF battlefields, this should have rocked. Instead, the droids – and their battle-tanks – are assembling on the opposite hill – so what? Everybody has seen how ineffective they are – therefore there is no tension, no trepidation for the battle to come; as for the Gungans, by this point, everyone in the cinema is rooting against them, so it’s such a wasted opportunity. Again, more worthless CGI to sit – and yawn – through. Speaking of yawning…

  • Natalie Portman: seems to be a byword for lousy acting.

Cringing in my cinema seat thinking with dread: Shit! We haven’t got to put up with her in the next two episodes, have we…?

Qui-Gon-Jinn-qui-gon-jinn-29228867-640-430

  • Qui Gon Jinn:

Apart from sounding like he was named afer a bottle of Korean alcohol, WHO THE HELL IS THIS GUY?! The original trilogy was quite specific: Yoda trained Obi Wan. So to learn that this “Qui Gon” fella was not only training the young Obi Wan, but ready to train Anakin as well, annoyed me immensely – ’twas an affront to my supposed status as All-Knowing Star Wars Honcho. Without any character development whatsoever, there is absolutely no audience reaction to his death.

So long, Qui Gon – didn’t know/care much for ya anyway. 

Liam Neeson obviously signed up under the impression that he was going to be part of something special… as did: 

  • Celia Imrie: What was she doing?!

She’s one of the finest TV actors in the UK, so upon discovering she was to join the Ep I cast, it seemed perfectly logical that she would be playing Anakin’s mum, thus providing the right gravitas and emotional intensity required – but no. Bloody typical: overwhelmed to be involved with Star Wars she wrangled her way to big screen mediocrity by appearing instead as one of the fighter pilots. Honestly, her gain was everybody’s loss…

  • Ewan McGregor: He does NOT save this movie, despite so many protestations to the contrary.

He just sleepwalks and drones his way through, only “coming to life” during that confrontation with Darth Maul. And cut that lame pony-tail off! Bad, padawan, bad! And hey! He’s responsible for the oh-not-so-cool: 

  • Death of Darth Maul:

Why kill off the coolest asset of the trilogy in the first Episode?! Maul’s duel with Qui Gon on Tatooine ended with the latter jumping onto that sleek chromium ship. It would have been really clever to end the Obi-Wan/Maul saber-scrap in a similar fashion, with the Sith somersaulting onto an escape ship, leaving the Jedi to watch helplessly as it blasts high into the sky, knowing that this Sith must be hunted down in the next episode... But then again, no one listens to a word Brad says… hello? 

Last, and by all means least:

  • THAT ALIEN WE ALL ABHOR!

Don’t need to mention the lanky, goofy one by name – everyone knows who it is, and enough antipathy has been hurled in his direction since 1999. There is just one more thing to add here: was this figure deliberately intended to look, sound, move and act as derisory as he did? If so, WHY?!

Having blotted out this confusing but colourful mess of a movie from my mind, it was hoped that this would be a mere unforseen one-off misstep, and George would get his mojo back in order to deliver a darker, more dramatic, Episode II.

Besides, the signs were favourable: we were promised less of the lanky, goofy one; the legend that was Christopher Lee was rumoured to appear(!) and the return of Boba Fett looked more likely than ever. 

Really, how could it possibly go wrong?

They couldn’t fuck it up a second time!

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…Could they?