Saturday, 31 December 2016

"Embedded In The Future"

Copied from here:

Snowy Vernall in Jerusalem shares the perspective of Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen:

"The chaotic childbirth onto the South London cobbles couldn't be avoided; was embedded in the future."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 244.

"Some marble blocks have statues within them, embedded in their future."
-Alan Moore, Watchmen (London, 1987), Chapter IV, p. 24.

Also, on Mars:

"It's called chaotic terrain." Chapter IX, p. 14.

"To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold... That is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle." Chapter IX, p. 27.

Chaos, childbirth and embedding in the future are common to these texts. "Jerusalem" evokes the Bible and Blake. "Watchmen" evokes Plato and Juvenal.

"Alan Moore is the Watchman on the walls of civilization."
-Kathy Acker, quoted on the back of Voice Of The Fire.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Justice And Truthfulness

Church art is representational and sometimes sequential. In Alan Moore's Jerusalem, a painted angel in St Paul's instructs Alma's gtreat-great-grandfather, telling him in part that there will be:

"'Justice above the Street'..."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 66.

Does this winged warrior foresee superheroes flying above cities and the Justice League of America? Probably not.

In the following chapter, "ASBOs of Desire," Moore proves yet again that he can write from any point of view:

"What Marla thought was, it had all gone wrong when the royal family had killed Diana. All of it was bad things what had happened after that." (p. 73)

It's the truth, isn't it? Well, no, it's not, but this is truthful, authentic writing about how some people think.

Rupert Bear

Are the Rupert Bear Annuals comic strips? They are a unique format that tells the story four times. On each page, there are:

a heading
four drawn panels
a rhyme under each panel
a longer prose narrative -

- but no captions or speech balloons.

Rupert Bear is referenced in:

Neil Gaiman's The Books Of Magic;
Bryan Talbot's Grandville;
Alan Moore's The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen;
Moore's Jerusalem.

Thus, this post has referred to:

the unique Rupert format;
three comic strips;
one prose novel -

- and we frequently discuss TV and films. It is impossible to stay just with comics.

In Jerusalem, Alma must be an alternative Alan: a female artist instead of a male writer? Alma and her brother Mick (and maybe Alan and his brother Mike?) knew a (human) Bill Badger and pretended that he was the Rupert character with body shaved to appear human. I had already envisaged an Alan Moore treatment of Rupert: the Bear grows up, leaves home and gets an office job in London where there are race riots between Rabbits and Elephants...

Monday, 26 December 2016

Changes In Comics

Contrast the first appearance of Green Arrow (see image) with Mike Grell's captions and dialogue:

"Autumn is my favorite time of year.
"It has been since I was a kid.
"There's a freshness in the chill air, after the summer heat. A tinge of smoke as the coming winter fans the leaves of flame.
"A season of change.
"Anticipation.
"Knowing that in a few days you'll have eaten enough candy to make you sick."
-Green Arrow 25 (Oct 89), p. 11.

When Green Arrow wonders where Robin Hood, Marian, Little John and Tuck are now, he hears:

"Where they have always been...in the heart of the greenwood."
-Green Arrow 26 (Nov 89), p. 9.

When he asks, "Who - -?" he hears:

"My name doesn't matter- -men have little use for me now.
"Men abandon their gods as readily as they embrace them.
"It's not like the old days when Robin and his merry band roamed the forest, seeking adventure and justice.
"The days of the longbow are all but gone.
"But here in the greenwood they live on.
"With each spring they are born again in the heart of the GREAT MOTHER.
"The leaves whisper their names and the wind is touched with their laughter.
"Bold Robin.
"Merry Tuck.
"Faithful Little John.
"The hunting horn echoes down the ages, but only a few hear the call."

GA and the reader can now see Hern and the merry band.

GA: "You speak as if you knew them."

The voice: "They were my sons...
"They were your brothers.
"I called them as I call you.
"Their choice was the same as yours...adventure and death, or boredom and contentment.
"For the bold there is no choice, really.
"One day the trees will speak your name.
"Though men forget, the forest remembers.
"But there is one who hasn't forgotten the old ways.
"She has awakened me from my long sleep.
"Even now she waits in the grove to celebrate the New Year.
"The coming of winter...
"...the time of HERN THE HUNTER."
-Green Arrow 26, pp. 11-15.

Christmas Presents

For Christmas, I have received Smallville Season 8 and Alan Moore's second novel. This author, Moore, has written that character, Superman. It is appropriate to remember Moore's "Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?" while beginning to appreciate his Jerusalem, which Michael Moorcock describes as "...the great British novel." (back cover)

This novel has a comic strip-like cover, three black and white photographs and somewhere around 1160 pages of very small print. Its central idea is a view of time called Eternalism. Moore states in his Acknowledgments that Fay Dowker is currently researching an alternative hypothesis. I am interested both in Alan Moore's writing and in the philosophy of time - not only the concept of time travel but also the nature of time - so I expect to study the text of Jerusalem closely while also reading sf and watching superhero dvds. Moore quotes Elizabeth Anscombe quoting Wittgenstein.

Time is elastic in Pellucidar or Skartartis. Mike Grell has Travis Morgan visit Oliver Queen whom he resembles. The fantasy element of Skartaris is played down but just enough is said to contradict the usually realistic tone of Grell's Green Arrow.

Onward, Earthlings.

Hell Or Hern

I am reliably informed that the TV John Constantine appears in an Arrow episode. Appropriately, the comics John Constantine appears in Green Arrow 25. See image. Although JC warns GA that he could be walking straight into Hell, GA meets only the harmless Hern the Hunter who tells him that the forest remembers Robin Hood and will remember Oliver Queen.

This story has:

an evocative autumnal page set in Seattle;
Nottingham (my parents lived there later);
paganism;
lush green artwork;
ambiguity - Ollie sees Hern on an LSD trip but Hern seems real later.

Ollie must have taken some side roads because he has to ask directions to Nottingham.

Shado And The Huntress

Without stopping a single bullet, Mike Grell's GA and Shado kill an impossible number of highly trained and heavily armed men. Both of them have an impossible ability to penetrate heavily guarded buildings. To prevent an assassination, GA gets impossibly close to the world's biggest VIPs. From his concealed position, he attracts the attention of the assassin, Shado, holding up her baby, but apparently is not seen by anyone else. He evades the security clamp-down that would have followed the assassination of a Presidential Advisor.

In Arrow, Ollie meets Helena Bertinelli who has started to kill gangsters and will become the Huntress. The earliest version of this character was the daughter of the earliest versions of the Batman and Catwoman. Some characters survive any continuity change.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Different Versions

Comics, films and TV are three media. Superheroes is a genre. By changing continuities and spreading to other media, superheroes gives us different versions of familiar characters. I am watching Arrow, rewatching Smallville, rereading Mike Grell's Green Arrow and have just reread Andy Diggle's Green Arrow Year One. Thus, I am appreciating four versions of one character.

In Grell's version, Howard Hill, and others, were on the yacht that Oliver Queen fell off. In Diggle's version, only Hackett and Ollie were on the yacht and Hackett threw the unconscious Ollie off the yacht but before that Ollie had told Hackett that Howard Hill had trained him as a kid. In GAY1, the yacht is the Pacific Queen and is in the Pacific whereas, in Arrow, a ship called the Queen's Gambit is sabotaged and sunk in some other ocean that is specified.

In Arrow, Ollie operates not from an Arrow Cave under the Queen mansion but from a disused Queen Industries building. In this version, he returns from the island to a complicated family and social scene:

mother
mother's new husband
younger sister
friend
former girlfriend
former girlfriend's hostile father
former girlfriend's colleague and friend
deceased father's former business associates who must be brought to justice
bodyguard

This is a good version but also a completely different one.

Friday, 23 December 2016

DC Screen Continuities

DC has three multi-character screen continuities:

a single TV series;
several interconnected TV series;
several interconnected feature films.

Earlier DC screen continuities include:

a ten film continuity (five Superman, one Supergirl and four Batman);
a Batman trilogy;
the Batman TV series;
the Gotham TV series;
three different earlier TV versions of Superman;
Wonder Woman on TV;
an earlier Flash TV series;
the film, Green Lantern;
the film, Constantine;
Swamp Thing in films and on TV;
Steel;
Superman and Batman in cinema serials;
animated versions.

There are others. These continuities feature several different versions of many comics-derived characters but I have lost interest in trying to keep count.

Green Arrow: A Mini-History II

The previous post skipped over Neal Adams' and Dennis O'Neill's 1969-1983 remake of Green Arrow which transformed GA from a generic comic book hero into the character we know.

In 1989, there was a Green Arrow and Speedy Secret Origins (see here) and, in 1995, Chuck Dixon wrote a Green Arrow Year One Annual. One way to revise GA origin stories is to change what happened on the island. In the Year One Annual, young Ollie, given a bow and arrow at Christmas, goes into the grounds of the Queen mansion and kills a rabbit. This is the equivalent of young Bruce running in the grounds of Wayne Manor and falling into the Cave.

Both The Longbow Hunters and GAY1 reference Howard Hill. Errol Flynn playing Robin Hood influenced Ollie in the same way that Tyrone Power playing Zorro influenced Bruce.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Green Arrow: A Mini-History

Green Arrow began publication in 1941.

I first read about GA in 1956-1960.

The Dark Knight Returns was published in 1986; The Longbow Hunters in 1987.

GA first appeared in Smallville in 2006.

GAY1 was published in 2007.

Arrow began in 2012 and is on-going.

The Wiki article reveals an incredible history of changed continuities.

I am watching Smallville and Arrow dvds and have started to reread The Longbow Hunters and GAY1. IMO, these and DKR are the most significant GA continuities.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Jerusalem

When I get a copy of Jerusalem, Alan Moore's second prose novel, should I discuss it:

on Comics Appreciation because it is of interest to readers of comic books written by Alan Moore;

on Personal and Literary Reflections because it is a work of literature;

on Religion and Philosophy because it addresses philosophical issues;

at least partly on Poul Anderson Appreciation because it will be possible to compare Moore's analyses of time, history and society with Andersons'?

Meanwhile, the cover at least (see image) deserves to be contemplated on Comics Appreciation.

The Name And The Man

We can know a name and see the man without necessarily connecting them. A couple of days ago, I referred to John Diggle (fictional) and Andy Diggle (fictional/real) here. This morning, as I drove my granddaughter to a medical appointment, Andy Diggle (real) walked down the street opposite the surgery. In this case, I did happen to make the connection.

A guy called Pat Reid:

escaped from Colditz Castle during World War II;
wrote The Colditz Story and The Latter Days At Colditz;
was played by John Mills in the film of The Colditz Story.

When the film was shown at our school in the 1960s, someone said that Reid had been at our school. Calculating when he would have been in a particular academic year at the school, I checked the photograph, hanging in a corridor, for that year and found the name "P. Reid" listed. Decades later, it was an easy matter to google "Pat Reid" and confirm that he had indeed been at the school (as, briefly, had James Joyce). Most of us watching John Mills' performance had not known that.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Heroes Arrive IV

To the six Green Arrow continuities listed here, we should add Mike Grell's The Longbow Hunters and his subsequent monthly series. That on-going series continued the high quality writing and art of the introductory Prestige Format miniseries.

The Longbow Hunters is a mid-life crisis that summarizes the post-Crisis origin story. Thus, the sequence of comic book continuities is:

Golden Age
Silver Age
The Longbow Hunters
GAY1

GAY1 was a later continuity: 52, I think. The Dark Knight Returns was a post-Crisis possible future that has not come to pass. Thus, it would have followed The Longbow Hunters. Either late in Grell's run or soon after (I think soon after), GA had to die or lose an arm and preferred the former. Losing an arm would have taken him in the direction of DKR. He was succeeded by a son in implausible stories that I stopped reading but he was then brought back by some impossible return from the hereafter.

During Grell's run, most of the stories could have been set on Earth Prime where superheroes exist only in comic books. A child draws Superman who could however be a fictional character. Hal Jordan visits but without his Green Lantern costume or power ring. That series should have continued.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Heroes Arrive III

In Arrow, not only is there a character called John Diggle but also he has a murdered brother called Andy, named after the writer of the Green Arrow Year One miniseries, thus another metafictional reference to an earlier continuity. In this and the previous two posts, we have referred to six continuities each featuring a different version of Oliver Queen:

Golden Age;
Silver Age;
The Dark Knight Returns;
GAY1;
Smallville;
Arrow.

Of these:

the four comic strip Olivers fought crime;
the DKR Ollie also fought the US by sinking a sub and helping Wayne against Kent;
the first screen version fights Luthorcorp;
the second fights the corrupt controllers of Starling City.

Continuities go somewhere.

Heroes Arrive II

The Smallville Clark Kent meets his version of Oliver Queen in Season 6. The success of this Oliver led to Arrow even though they are different continuities. The Smallville Oliver founds the Justice League although the Golden Age Green Arrow was in the Seven Soldiers of Victory and the Silver Age Green Arrow was not a founding member of the Justice League but an early recruit to it. I think that the third cinema Batman is destined to found the cinematic Justice League. He will tell Amanda Waller, "You back off - we are forming a team!"

There are metafictional relationships between continuities and sometimes they coexist in a multiverse. The Superman film theme music is heard when Christopher Reeve plays Virgil Swann in Smallville. We are explicitly reminded that Reeve played Superman in an earlier screen adaptation of Siegel's and Shuster's original comic strip. I started reading Superman, Batman and Green Arrow in the 1950s, less than twenty years after their creations.

How many continuities have I referenced here? Not the full list.

Heroes Arrive

In Smallville, Season 1, Episode 1, Kal-El arrives in Smallville.

In Arrow, Season 1, Episode 1, Oliver Queen returns to Starling City.

In Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City.

Kal-El has survived the destruction of his home planet and has yet to be prepared for his destiny on Earth.

Queen has survived on an island for five years and has prepared himself to fight crime.

Wayne has survived the murder of his parents when he was five and has trained himself to fight crime.

These are different continuities although the Wayne of the Batman: Year One continuity meets his versions of Kent and Ollie in The Dark Knight Returns. These are two good versions of Superman and Green Arrow and one good version of the Batman.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Sandman And Smallville

The Sandman was a monthly comic book written by Neil Gaiman and collected as ten graphic novels.

Smallville was a ten season TV series, collected on dvd's.

Very different products. However, both feature DC Comics characters and both trace their origins back to the Golden Age of comics.

I compare The Sandman with some works of prose sf here.


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Stages In The Development Of Kryptonite

(i) The original green Kryptonite that weakens and kills Kryptonians.

(ii) Red Kryptonite with bizarre, unpredictable effects.

(iii) Other colors with different effects.

(iv) The Smallville meteorites that not only weaken Kryptonians but also empower Terrestrials.

Smallville has made a major addition to the mythology.

Addenda: In Superman 3, artificial Kryptonite is green but has red effects.

Here, I suggest an alternative Superman origin story, that the pregnant Martha Kent was at ground zero during the meteor strike...

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Smallville: Beginnings

I rewatched the very first dvd. We see familiar people and places for the very first time. We see Lionel reading the Planet with a headline about the disappearance of the Queen Industries CEO. Then we see him talking to a guy who must be Pete's father.

Everyone looks younger. Life is simpler. Innocence will be lost. This image is iconic about Clark and Lex. Martha says that, wherever the child's parents are, they are not in Kansas: Wizard Of Oz reference.

The whole trip about meteors not only weakening Clark but also empowering others starts. Smallville High has a Principal who will later be killed - and nearly is this time. Lex begins his investigation of exactly what happened when Clark and he fell off that bridge. The theme of whether Clark should play football goes back to John Byrne's version and the theme of whether it would be dangerous for someone with his strength to play football goes back before Siegel and Schuster to Philip Wylie's Gladiator.

See also here.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Alan Moore Interview

http://www.vulture.com/2016/09/alan-moore-jerusalem-comics-writer.html

Friday, 29 July 2016

Smallville: Wrath

Superman, a modern myth, draws on ancient myths. Siegel and Shuster wanted him to be like Samson and Hercules. In Smallville: Wrath:

Lionel compares Clark and Lana to Samson and Delilah;

Lex compares himself to St Paul;

Chloe compares Lana to the goddess, Isis.

Clark has to wind up with Lois and against Lex even though he starts out with Lana and friendly with Lex. In Wrath, he starts to question what he knows about Lana. Lex's mission is to protect Earth from alien invaders, including Kryptonians.

In previous episodes:

If Lara and Kara were able to visit Earth via a "portal," then why did Kal-El and Kara later need spaceships?
What is the status of Kryptonian constructs of dead people?

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Returning Actors

I am watching Smallville Season 7 too quickly to post about individual episodes. It becomes evident that we have seen certain actors before:

two previous Superman actors play new characters, one a mentor to Clark, the other a villain;

the actor who played Lana Lang in a Christopher Reeve film plays Martha Kent;

the actor who played Wonder Woman on TV plays Chloe Sullivan's mother;

the actor who played Supergirl in a feature film plays Lara and later played Supergirl's step-mother on TV;

I have been told that the actor who played a dying elderly woman conned by Lex Luthor at the beginning of Superman Returns had played Lana Lang in the 1950s;

I think I have missed one.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Dishonesty In Smallville

Smallville is about the destructive consequences of dishonesty.

Dishonest
Jonathan Kent
Clark Kent
Lionel Luthor
Lex Luthor
Lana Lang-Luthor
Oliver Queen

Honest
Martha Kent
Pete Ross
Chloe Sullivan
James Olsen

I am not sure about Lois Lane and various others.

The dishonesty involved in a secret identity is transformed into a tragedy of Greek proportions, motivating the conflict between Superman and Lex Luthor.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Superman Returns And Smallville Season 6

Watching dvds: 

Superman Returns almost gives us another Death of Superman. He has fallen to Earth and is unconscious in a Metropolitan hospital. We see a Daily Planet headline, "SUPERMAN IS DEAD," then, as the camera pulls back, we realize that it is one of two possible headlines prepared in advance. The other is "SUPERMAN LIVES!" An empty hospital bed is like the Empty Tomb.

Kevin Spacey continues Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor very well. Luthor continues his fascination with real estate. Perry White turns out to have a convenient nephew, Richard. Perry had one son, T.J., in the Superboy TV series and another, Jerry, in Superman comics.

This film is in the same continuity as the Christopher Reeve films but thematically is intermediate between them and the current film series.

In Smallville Season 6, Green Arrow has a mini-series within the series. Instead of a boxing glove arrow, he develops an electromagnetic pulse arrow that neutralizes nearby electrical systems and even dissipates an astral projection. In the Arrow TV series, Ollie has an embezzlement arrow. Striking a wall near a computer, it affects the computer and transfers funds out of a bank account. Both versions of Ollie go after corporate crime instead of street crime. Excelsior!

Raya could have been a version of Supergirl but died fighting a Zoner. In Season 7, Kara arrived.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Smallville Season 7

Viewing is interrupted because one disc is defective so the box has to be replaced. It is weird seeing yet another former Superman actor playing a completely different and, in this case villainous, role. Is Dean Cain's immortal villain related to Vandal Savage?

In an earlier season, Clark and Lana had a frustratingly off-off relationship whereas now they have a satisfyingly on-on relationship, especially when Lana is temporarily super-powered and their sexual activity causes seismic activity.

Zor-El was a traitor who tried to kill Jor-El? The Martian Manhunter cannot be lying so this must be true. The idea that Jor-El and the Manhunter cooperated in interstellar law enforcement is a total continuity change. The Manhunter is no longer just an alien stranded on Earth by teleportation.

Also, Kara just being called Kara Kent and living on the farm is a big change. When script-writers already know the relationships between the characters, they can change them around any way they want.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Smallville: Kara

Lana faked her death with her inanimate clone which she had stolen from Lex but why had Lex cloned Lana? And was her fake pregnancy ever explained?

Even with two hearing aids and the volume turned high, I am having trouble hearing much of the dialogue.

A premise throughout this series is that Clark cannot fly yet, although he has done so once or twice in emergencies, but this is contradicted by Kara flying without effort.

Krypton was in a civil war against Zod when Kara departed shortly after Kal-El. She has spent eighteen years in suspended animation and it is news to her that Krypton is no more.

Lois gets her job at the planet, sitting opposite Chloe.

The DCU equivalent of SHIELD got Kara's spaceship but lost it but have its crystal. The voice of Jor-El tells Clark that Zor-El did not have good motives and that he, Clark, must watch Kara.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Death

"'I think you look on death as your friend,' she murmured. 'That is a strange friend for a young man to have.'
"The only faithful friend in this world,' he said. 'Death is always sure to be at your side.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword (London, 1977), Chapter XXI, p. 153.

Because death defines its opposite, life, Neil Gaiman personifies Death (and see here) not as a hooded man with a scythe but as a perpetually young and beautiful woman. Gaiman also quotes this poem.

Death waits for us all and is always with us as Anderson's character, Skafloc, says. Skafloc and Anderson avoid using a personal pronoun but we need to persuade writers to follow Gaiman's example by calling Death "she." Dream's sister can permeate fiction as she permeates life.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Smallville: Fierce

I have trouble remembering what happened in the previous season and also understanding what is happening in the current episode. The characters speak very quickly in American accents and summarize information as much as possible. I did not understand the nature of the treasure sought by the three villainesses or why one of them murdered another one of them.

Also, I realized afterwards that I had watched episode 3 of Season 7, thinking that it was episode 2 so no wonder I did not understand how Clark and Kara were now acquainted.

Both Chloe and Lana now know Clark's secret. That makes life easier and should have happened a long time ago. Lex is still investigating mysteries surrounding the Kents but this time has seen Kara using her powers although she denies it. He is still encountering dishonesty from the Kents.

Was Lana's spurious pregnancy at the end of Season 6 ever explained?

It seems that there is an Agent Carter both in the Marvel Movieverse and in the Smallville TV series.

Monday, 27 June 2016

V








Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation:

When Vogg names Hrolf Kraki, Hrolf rewards Vogg with two gold arm rings. Vogg responds by promising to avenge Hrolf. His promise proves prophetic.

In Norse mythology, Vali avenges Baldr and Vidar avenges Odin.

In Alan Moore's and David Lloyd's V For Vendetta:

the vendetta-waging title character is code-named V;
the title of every installment begins with "V";
(so what is the last installment? Clue: Norse mythology);
"the way, the truth and the life" is quoted in French, thus "la voie, la verite, la vie."

So there is something about the letter "V."

Where Have All The Fairies Gone?

"In those days the Faerie folk still dwelt upon earth..."
-Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword (London, 1977), p. 21.

"As for what became of those who were still alive at the end of the book, and the sword, and Faerie itself - which obviously no longer exists on Earth - that is another tale, which may someday be told."
-Anderson, The Broken Sword, Foreword, p. 12.

Morpheus/Dream to his sister, Death:

"A delegation of Faerie came to me, last night. They are talking about abandoning this plane for ever."
-Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: The Doll's House (New York, 1995), p. 117.

Dream to Auberon:

"During your stay on this Earth the faerie have afforded me much diversion, and entertainment.
"Now you have left, for your own haunts."
-Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Dream Country (New York, 1991), p. 83.

So Anderson and Gaiman agree that the fairies have left Earth. Two works of fantasy confirm what we can verify from our own experience!

I will be in London and away from a computer from Thursday 30 June until Monday 4 July.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Smallville: Bizarro

I am starting to watch Season 7. There is a lot that I do not understand in Bizarro but I think that that is because most of it has not been explained yet:

Who carried Lionel away?
How come Kara is around?
How come Lana is alive in disguise in China while Lex is arrested for her murder?
Does Chloe know about her meteor power of healing or how it works?

Lex seems to be going back to the side of Good as against Evil because he believes that he was rescued by an angel. It is a good idea to end an episode with a song. This episode is dramatic like much of the series. There is always a sense of important events occurring at the end of one Smallville season and the beginning of the next. The series has come a long way from Smallville.

For some discussion of a prose sf writer who was at Lancaster Comics Day, see here.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Superman III

I did not post about this film immediately after rewatching it so my memories of it are not fresh.

(i) Red Kryptonite in all but color.

(ii) A change from Luthor as villain.

(iii) The absurdity of weather forecasting satellites that can suddenly be used to control the weather.

(iv) A good scene of Supes fighting himself.

(v) Anything else?

Friday, 17 June 2016

Superman IV

(i) Great opening when Supes rescues Comrade Sinatra: comedy; tragedy; international cooperation; Superman to the rescue. As a counterpoint, Lex's fellow prisoners nickname him "Mozart."

(ii) Supes addressing the UN prefigures Alan Moore's Miracle Family, Warpsmiths and Firedrake addressing the UN. The Warpsmith announces that all the WMD's have already been teleported into the Sun.

(iii) A superbeing is created fully clothed, of course.

(iv) Does Supes kill the Nuclear Man at the end?

(v) The Christopher Reeve films hold up well as a series with recognizable continuing characters and settings.

(vi) In Interview With The Vampire, the vampire sees a sunset in a Superman film.

(vii) My daughter, Aileen, found it shocking when such a comedic film included Superman saying near the end that the world is still on the brink.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Lancaster Comics Day

Last year at Lancaster Comics Day, I bought Snapshot by Andy Diggle, a "Comics" work. This year, I bought The Casebook Of Sam Spalluci by AS Chambers, a "Lancaster" work.

The Day:

panels on humor comics, superheroes, prose fantasy and sf and the Doctor Who Magazine;

great panelists;

lots of stalls;

superhero-themed cakes;

gaming instead of poker in a back room;

John Freeman's excellent, genial organization of the whole event;

Stan Lee wondering in at the end (or someone that looked like him);

perfect setting in Lancaster Library and Market Sq;

the event has already become an annual institution.

Monday, 30 May 2016

The Dark Arrow

The Batman was always a masked avenger. Green Arrow was a costumed adventurer. However, in the Arrow TV series, it seems that Ollie returns from the island with something to avenge.

There is an archetypal contrast between the island where he learned survival skills and the city where he applies those skills to more than survival.

His first targets are not muggers, dealers or bank robbers but corrupt businessmen protected by the police. Thus, like Frank Miller's Batman, he goes straight into conflict with the law. Mike Grell's Green Arrow went from masked with a secret identity to unmasked without a secret identity. The TV Arrow is unmasked but hooded with a secret identity.

Unlike Wayne and, I think, earlier versions of Oliver Queen, this TV version shares his mansion with other surviving members of his family. There is a major on-going story line to the entire series. The first episode is confusing but I watched it with a friend already familiar with this and related series.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Small Screen Superhero Series

I have Smallville Seasons 1-6 but otherwise am ignorant of small screen superheroes. Today, we watched:

Arrow, episode 1;
Daredevil, trailer;
Lucifer, trailer.

I realize that I have a long way to go and that the screen versions are reproducing comics crossover complexities.

In Arrow, apparently following a more recent comics version, the origin is changed so that, instead of Ollie falling off a yacht, the yacht is shipwrecked and everyone else dies although in different ways. A character is named after a GA writer, Diggle! There is a very high tech embezzlement arrow.

I am looking back at Mike Carey's Lucifer. See here and here.

What more is there to say? A lot more but that is all for now.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Samael

Samael is the ruler of Hell in Elliot S Maggin's Superman novel, Miracle Monday, and was the angelic name of Neil Gaiman and Mike Carey's Lucifer Morningstar.

A mythological Samael is mated with Lilith whereas the Gaiman/Carey version is mated with a daughter of Lilith. These comics are deeply embedded in Biblical and other Jewish mythology.

Read comics and the Bible! - including Judge Dredd and the Book of Judges. The latter includes a strong man with a fatal weakness, Samson.
 

Link To Miracle Monday

Miracle Monday

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Last Son Of Krypton

This novel involves Albert Einstein in Superman's origin story but otherwise reflects the comics continuity of the late 70's:

the Kents were elderly when they found Kal-El;
they retired from farming to run a shop and died when Clark was a teenager;
he was Superbaby and Superboy before Superman;
Lana's mother edited the Smallville newspaper;
Jules and Arlene Luthor, their teenage son, Lex, and their infant daughter, Lena, moved into a house on Merrillees Lane, Smallville, in the week when Superboy revealed himself;
Galaxy Communications has bought the Daily Planet which now operates from the sixth floor of the Galaxy building;
Morgan Edge, president of Galaxy Communications, has made Clark Kent a TV news reader and editor;
Steve Lombard is a sports broadcaster;
Lex Luthor regularly alternates between prison and a penthouse hideout;
Clark simulates incompetence;
Superman has FTL interstellar capacity;
the galaxy is full of both humanoids and alien ET's;
Superman can press coal into diamond;
Krypton's sun is Antares;
it is not called "Rao";
the Guardians of the Universe have deprived one of their number of immortality.

Superman

From the start, Superman proliferated through every available medium and has continued to do so.

Print
comic books
newspaper comic strips
prose fiction
advertisements

Drama
radio
a stage musical
cinema serials
animation
live action TV series
feature films
role-playing games

Merchandise
garments
accessories

Some Important Dates
1938  Action Comics, no 1
1978  Superman: Last Son Of Krypton, a novel by Elliot S Maggin
          the first Christopher Reeve film
1986  the "last Superman story" by Alan Moore
          a new Superman by John Byrne
         The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
2001- Smallville TV series
2011
2016  Batman v. Superman: The Dawn Of Justice

This is my list of high points. I have skipped over:

many comics;
Maggin's second novel;
five other feature films;
three other live action TV series;
etc.

The 2016 film is a:

sequel;
crossover;
Justice League prequel;
Death of Superman story -

- and the second installment of the second Superman feature film series. In it, the first cinematic Wonder Woman meets the second cinematic Superman and the third cinematic Batman.

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Three Story-Telling Media

Hearing and sight are our main senses for learning and communicating. Metaphorically, we hear the word and see the light. Literally, we hear spoken words and see written words and pictures although, in Braille, written words are felt. Extra speakers and actions transformed heard narrative into seen and heard drama although radio drama is merely heard. Although one picture can sometimes tell a story, a sequence of pictures can tell a longer story. Therefore, extra pictures transformed representational art into sequential art. The three story-telling media are:

narrative - sung/chanted/spoken or written/printed;
drama - stage, street, screen, radio/audio;
sequential art - mainly comic strips.

A story is narrated, enacted or depicted;
characters are described, performed or drawn;
a novel tells readers what to imagine;
a film script tells actors what to say and do and instructs cameramen;
a comic script tells a penciller what to draw, a letterer what to write and a colorist how to color - the pencilled page shows the inker what to ink.

The complete synthesis might be a screened comic strip in which some panels can be animated with sound. The audience would see static and moving pictures and read and hear words, thus fully engaging both senses.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Batman-Superman SPOILERS

What's not to like?

There is good continuity from The Man Of Steel.

Supes sees Bats as a vigilante and Bats, like Luthor, sees Supes as an alien threat.

We see what it would be like to be in Metropolis during a superhero fight - like being in New York on 9/11. Buildings collapse. Something fast flies past.

Luthor:

starts rich with hair but winds up bald in prison;
researchs methumans;
creates Doomsday from his and Zod's DNA;
gets Superman's attention by pushing Lois off a building;
knows of an approaching interstellar threat - who?

Zod makes a difference even when dead.

These are only first impressions.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Boys

It is impossible to appreciate Garth Ennis' The Boys fully on a single reading. I am currently rereading all the collections from cover to cover. I have learned the answers to these questions:

What is the Female's surname?
Which James Bond villain is referenced?
Who does the Legend look like?

But not:

Why is Hughie such a prat towards Annie?

For more comments on The Boys, see here.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Superman II

Absurdities:

people speaking in a vacuum;
no time lag for Earth-Moon radio contact;
Kryptonese heard as English;
coincidences on a cosmic scale;
never-before-heard-of Kryptonian powers;
a kiss inducing selective amnesia;
no explanation of the terrorists' demands.

Comments:

we recognize characters and settings from the previous film, thus establishing that we are watching a series;

the Zod Squad are not seen again in this series;

the first installment of the second Superman film series ends with Supes killing Zod;

this film ad shows them fighting above New York.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Watchmen And The Dark Knight II

See here.

And here is another parallel. Dark Knight implies that a large supernatural bat haunts the Cave and possesses Wayne. In Dan Dreiberg's basement workshop, the Nite Owl costume, standing upright in an open closet, seems to watch Dreiberg, who says that he feels like something is watching his every move.

It as if the costumed adventurer identity, manifested in the costume, watches and waits for Dan to resume adventuring. Of course, this identity is not in the costume but is inside Dreiberg himself, like the Bat possessing Wayne. Dan's feeling of being watched reflects the gradual reawakening of his adventurer identity which becomes fully awake when he re-dons the costume.

The Owl waits in the basement as the Bat waits in the Cave.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Superman: The Movie (More)

(vii) It is good to start with the Zod Squad, knowing that they will return.

(viii) Rao is red. Right.

(viii) The legend of Superman shines through any new version of the story.

(ix) Three actors for Supes, corresponding to Superbaby, Superboy and Superman. So it is not just Christopher Reeve. The teenage Clark is good - a forerunner of Smallville.

(x) The Fortress of Solitude is not built by Kal-El but grown from a Kryptonian crystal.

(xi) Luthor's sidekicks provide comic relief.

(xii) Starting with a comic book specially written for the film was a good idea.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Superman: The Movie

We are watching the first five Superman films on dvd.

In the first film:

(i) Luthor is still a criminal mastermind with a secret hideout, not a corrupt billionaire with an L-shaped skyscraper. At the end, he goes to prison, not back to his penthouse.

(ii) The Kents are still elderly when they find Clark. Jonathan dies before Clark begins his costumed identity.

(iii) The costume and the "S" symbol are Kryptonian in origin, not designed by Martha. The "S" and "Superman" are a coincidence.

(iv) Several absurdities must be accepted for their period charm but should not be repeated in later films. The absurdities are not as obtrusive as I had feared.

(v) We instantly recognize Supes, Kent, Lane and Luthor in the poster. Kent looks dated with his hat.

(vi) This is the beginning of Luthor's interest in real estate.