Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vastra, Jenny, and Strax

An inter-species lesbian couple and a psychotic potato dwarf walk into a Victorian pub…

Seriously though, lets talk about Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. A lesbian couple, one reptilian (Silurian specifically) and one human, and a genetically engineered alien soldier (Sontaran) have formed an interesting investigative team in Victorian London. They fist appear together in the Doctor Who episode, A Good Man Goes to War. Their first appearance as a team in London was the online minisode, Vastra Investigates, which is a prequel of to their appearance in the Doctor Who Christmas special, The Snowmen.

Madame Vastra (Neve McIntoch) and Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) are smart, capable, lethal, and in love. In this fictional world Vastra is the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes with Jenny being her Watson.

Strax is…

Strax (Dan Starkey) is a good soldier, well versed in combat strategy, a little trigger happy, and not entirely intact mentally since he died and was brought back to life by Jenny and Vastra. He is the butler who provides good comic relief and soldiering in a small round package.

This odd team is begging for it’s own series. Now that the other Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood, will likely not come back for a fourth season, there is an entertainment vacuum of sorts. And where Torchwood had a more serious tone than Doctor Who, a show with Vastra, Jenny, and Strax seems like it would have more of the lighter and often comedic tone of Doctor Who. But of course it also has the potential to handle the darker tones, seriousness, and intensity of Doctor Who as well. The show would provide Victorian class, danger, mysteries, swordplay, and the occasional explosions and lasers thanks to Strax.

Captain Jack got Torchwood, Sarah Jane got the Sarah Jane Adventures, and even K-9 got his/it's own spin off series. So is a series for these three really out of the question? I hope not.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The road to Apocalypse?

There have been rumors that the villain in the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past will be Apocalypse. I doubt it because Apocalypse had nothing to do with the original story and it was very good without him. It would be better to keep Apocalypse for another movie. But that does not mean Apocalypse will not appear in the future.

In an interview with Bleeding Cool, the films director, Bryan Singer, apparently could not give a solid “no” to the Apocalypse question. “This is how it gets started, when somebody starts piecing the little bits together…” Again, not exactly confirmation that Apocalypse is the villain. But not exactly a denial either. I think that it could most likely mean that he will make some sort of brief cameo in some fashion or there will be clues to his existence. Something like recent casting news that actress Bingbing Fan will be portraying Blink, a purple skinned teleporter.

The Blink character didn’t exist until thirteen years after the original story appeared in The Uncanny X-Men issues #141 and #142 back in 1981. What is interesting is that in the comics, she is hinted to be a direct descendent of Apocalypse. It still isn’t solid proof. But why have Blink in the first place? If a teleporter is needed for the story, why not just bring back fan favorite, Nightcrawler. It's one of those things that just keeps the rumors going. For instance, one of Apocalypse's Four Horsemen is one of the original X-Men and he was already introduced in X-Men: The Last Stand.

Fans will know what he becomes at the hands of Apocalypse.

I know I want to see Archangel. Don’t you? No. this isn't even a rumor. It's just a nice thought.

It’s a tough call to see where exactly Fox will take the X-Men. But it is hard to ignore the success of The Avengers and the films leading up to it. If Fox follows that formula, Apocalypse provides one of, if not the most logical villain for the X-Men to face after a few films of build up. At this point, we can only hope.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Orson Scott Card vs. Gay Marriage

What to do with Orson Scott Card?

It’s a funny thing to admire a person’s work and then find this person to be disappointing in the real world. Is it ironic that a man who wrote such a great story of how when two species did not understand each other it caused the near genocide of one of them? The Ender books that Orson Scott Card wrote also deal with people who were born different. Different by birth and not by choice. These books are not just great works of science fiction, but of fiction in general. It is surprising then that a man who wrote about how species that are alien to each other and must understand one another to survive is also an advocate of condemning and denying the rights of members of own own species who’s only difference is who they are attracted to and who they love.

The books themselves are not homophobic. Homosexuality is never mentioned in the books. It’s just not an issue or topic that comes up. It’s the man who wrote them that has campaigned to keep marriage "sacred." Not that heterosexual people keep it any more sacred than a gay person would. Card has in the past called for homosexual acts to remain outlawed (when those laws existed). He has even advocated the overthrow of a government that supports gay marriage saying, “I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.” So... Yeah.

So how shall I reconcile my love of the books while being completely disappointed in the person who wrote them? Will I never read them again? Not likely. Those books will remain in my collection as examples of great science fiction. Will I refuse to see the movie Ender’s Game? Again, doubtful. To ban that movie would also punish the actors and crew who worked hard to give us something many of us have been waiting a long time to see. I also doubt the fact that Card is homophobic was a well-known fact to them. I certainly did not know until recently.

 So what is there to do? It's not likely that I'll be buying any more of his books. Having read the original four books dealing with Ender and the four concerning Bean, I think the stories have run enough of their courses to have satisfying endings for me. It all comes down to your personal feelings. I won't blame anyone for outright refusing anything Card created. Personally, I will keep enjoying the books and pity the man. It is obvious that the tides of society are turning to the acceptance of gay marriage. I doubt one science fiction author can do much to stop the flow of progress. It's such a shame that a brilliant man can be so close-minded.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Is Marvel setting up the Infinity Gauntlet?

There is now an official “no” to the Planet Hulk story. As official as a “no” can be in Hollywood before a movie starts filming. But for the near future, the Hulk will not be the subject of Phase 2 and 3 of the Marvel film universe. So where is all this leading? We know from credits in The Avengers that Thanos will factor in somewhere.

But even before Thanos made his cameo in The Avengers, there was a hint at something hugely possible in Thor. In Odin’s armory there were several powerful weapons. The nerd savvy could identify them. One, which didn’t appear on screen, was the Infinity Gauntlet.

The promotional pictures of the items in the armory confirmed its presence. It even appeared in a glass case at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010.

But before we go further, if you had not read the miniseries of the same name, you might be wondering “What is the Infinity Gauntlet?” Basically, it is a glove adorned with the Infinity Gems. Six stones that together turn someone into a god. The stones are Space, Mind, Soul, Reality, Time, Power.

So does the existence of the Gauntlet confirm that Marvel will look to that miniseries, which was a massive crossover event that included and affected the entire Marvel universe, as the next big conflict? Not by itself. But lets look at the evidence. The premise of The Infinity Gauntlet was that Thanos gathered the gems to become a god in order to impress and court Mistress Death. She is a female character who is the embodiment of death in the Marvel universe. He is in love with and obsessed with her. In The Avengers, Thanos smiles when he is told that to attack humans “is to court death.” So was the smile because he is crazy or because Death is going to be a character in the Marvel film universe? He is crazy either way, but was that just a statement or a major name drop?

There are other hints to this cosmic war. The Guardians Of The Galaxy roster contains two characters that play a major role in Thanos comic back-story, Gamora and Drax. These two were charged with keeping the Time and Power gems safe as members of a team called the Infinity Watch. Which reminds me, if the leader of that team, Adam Warlock, ever appears or is mentioned in the upcoming films that will be another clue. There is also the fact that Marvel either has, or is still trying to get the film rights to Galactus and the Silver Surfer. Both play key roles in the Infinity Gauntlet story.

It takes an army to defeat Thanos. We have The Avengers, The Guardians of the Galaxy, a possible hint of the Nova Corps, and maybe Galactus. Do all roads lead to The Infinity Gauntlet?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Video Pick: Beastie Boys - Intergalactic

Until we get to see Pacific Rim, here is something else with a giant robot vs. a giant monster.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Star Wars and The Hunger Games

 I had mentioned in a previous article how the ending to Catching Fire the book had similarities to The Empire Strikes Back. I am not claiming that the books somehow follow the template of the original Star Wars trilogy. Both just follow similar storytelling themes and archetypes. I’m not going to get into an academic discussion with this, just google it. But I do want to compare the trilogies all in good fun.

(Oh, Obligatory SPOILER ALERT for whoever it is that has never seen Star Wars or read The Hunger Games.)

Lets take a look at  the characters.

Katniss and Peeta do kind of fall into a Luke and Leia kinda template. You could even throw Gale in there for the Han Solo triangle. Han is way cooler and smoother though. Katniss story is very similar to Luke in that she grew up blue collar and rural. And both chose to step up when their worlds came crashing down. Peeta and Gale have a mix of the Leia and Han themes. Gale’s resourcefulness is more Han like than Peeta, but Peeta has more of Han’s Charisma and charm. Then there is that whole hint of incest thing. To be fair, Luke and Leia didn’t know that were brother and sister before they kissed. And Katniss and Gale are cousins for PR purposes only.

 We also have the wise old mentor in Haymitch and Obi Wan. No real comparison for Chewie unless you count Prim’s cat.

Effie is definitely C-3PO, shiny, neurotic, and always reminding you of the proper way to do things. 

Cinna in a way could be R2-D2. He just does things despite the personal risk. He isn’t flashy, but he is very good at what he does. He is also Katniss' first friend in this brave new world much like R2 was Luke's first friend from a different world.

I think a solid argument can be made that Finnick and Lando share some smoothness qualities.

As for the stories themselves?

The Hunger Games and A New Hope both have young protagonists who are uniquely qualified for the adventures ahead. Luke has the Force and Katniss' skill as a hunter are what keep them alive. And neither was at fault for how they got into these adventures to begin with. Catching Fire parallels with Empire in that the tale gets darker and more serious. Han and Peeta are captured and both are tortured. Although we can all agree that Peeta got it way worse. An injured Luke is rescued by the Millennium Falcon. An injured Katniss is rescued by a hovercraft. It’s all out war in Mockingjay and in Return Of The Jedi. Luke and Katniss are no longer so young and innocent and both are better trained for the conflict ahead. Like has a new Lightsaber and Katniss has a new bow. You can even argue that Mockingjay has two emperors.

So there it is. These are my thoughts on how both trilogies are similar. Any additional thought or observations are welcomed.


President Snow and Emperor Palpatine

Both used dark methods to rise to power and both their bodies paid the price. Palpatine outwardly looks like who he really is and Snow must hide the physical sickness he suffers from that came from his methods. Both are also intelligent, patient, and know how to manipulate.