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Preview: Siskoid's Blog of Geekery

Siskoid's Blog of Geekery

Is there any geek trash I won't touch? Not sure. Comics, cult movies, toys, RPGS, CCGs, gaming, SF, blogs and other obscura? Yeah, I'm in deep.

Updated: 2018-03-20T12:43:44.925-03:00


FW Team-Up: Spider-Man and Captain Britain


It's a patented FW Team-Up between Canada's Siskoid and the United Kingdom's Martin Gray! Together they tackle Marvel Team-Up #65 and 66 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the North American introduction of Captain Britain! It's a story with a strong legacy and the heroes of two shores. Truly, it was a classic in the making!Listen to the Spidey-Captain Britain FW Team-Up by clicking HERE!Or you can right-click “download”, choose “Save Target/Link As”, and select a location on your computer to save the file (35 MB).Or subscribe to FW Team-Up on iTunes!Highlights from Marvel Team-Up #65-66 by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Dave Hunt:The story features the very first appearance of Arcade!The meeting of two heroes in the Marvel Universe: Later, they must cooperate if they're to escape Murderworld. Hey, who's supposed to have the better agility score?Each hero must now face their own challenges. Friendly farewell?Martin also sent me some of the alternate/bonus pages from the UK edition:  And here is the Captain Britain mask made available with the first issue of Captain Britain's series:Oh, and that "fresh egg" print:Credits:Theme: "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" by Andy Sturmer.Bonus clips from: "God Save the Queen" (instrumental); "Knights and Lords" by Audiomachine; "Lego Marvel Super Heroes" video game, featuring JB Blanc.Thanks for leaving a comment![...]

Movies: How Will the Future Compare?


Last year, my friend Marty started a tradition. On New Year's, he watches one or more films that depict the year that's about to begin. A sort of mangled prophecy, if you will. Time will tell if 2018 will really be like Brick Mansions or Terminator Salvation (yes on both counts), but futurism is a fun mental exercise regardless. So here's an idea for a movie marathon you might like to undertake. Below are science-fiction movies that TAKE PLACE over the past 50 years, but were for the most part imagined SOME TIME BEFORE. In trying to get at least one flick per year starting with 1969, I did sometimes compromise, and either put in a futurist film made AFTER (in brackets) or DURING the target year. In a few cases, I failed completely. Maybe you have suggestions.So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is watch one or more films from each year, and compare to your experience of that year. Was it all post-apocalypse or did you score a rocket pack? Did movies imagine the Internet or is the future distinctly retro? Find out, one movie at a time.1969: Stereo1970: Frankenstein 1970, Project Moonbase, Privilege19711972: Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes1973: Escape from the Planet of the Apes, It! The Terror from Beyond Space1974: Seven Days in May, Aelita Queen of Mars1975: (High-Rise)1976: (The Martian Chronicles, episode 1)1977: The Omega Man, (Lazer Team)1978: The Time Machine (1978)1979: Gorath, Damnation Alley1980: The Final Countdown, The Phantom Planet, Just Imagine19811982: Firefox, Virus, Tron1983: Westworld, (Beyond the Black Rainbow)1984: 1984, The Philadelphia Experiment, The Terminator, Class of 19841985: Back to the Future, Futureworld, Queen of Outer Space, Trancers, First Spaceship on Venus1986: Star Trek IV The Voyage Home, Invaders from Mars1987: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (pilot), Maximum Overdrive1988: The War in Space, The Time Guardian1989: Red Dawn, Kamikaze 1989, Way...Way Out1990: RoboCop, 1990 The Bronx Warriors (later, Escape from the Bronx)1991: Alien Nation, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, RoboCop 21992: Parasite1993: Captain America, (The Plague)1994: Mad Max, The Apple, The Atlantis Interceptors1995: Terminator 2 Judgment Day, Dead End Drive-In, Heartbeeps1996: Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man1997: Escape from New York, The Road Warrior, The Noah's Ark Principle, Crimes of the Future, Predator 21998: Americathon, Creepozoids1999: Strange Days, The Martian Chronicles ep.2, Class of 1999, Class of 1999 II The Substitute, Destroy All Monsters, Doctor Who TV Movie, Malevil, Omega Cop, Patlabor The Movie, Until the End of the World2000: Deep Impact, Death Race 2000, 1. April 2000, Hardware, The Oldest Profession, Space Probe Taurus2001: 2001 A Space Odyssey, The Martian Chronicles ep.3, Battle for the Planet of the Apes2002: The Lathe of Heaven, Mr In-Between, Patlabor 2 The Movie2003: Death Machine2004: Time Cop, Max Headroom, The Dat After Tomorrow, Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines2005: Bicentennial Man, Rollerball, Transformers The Movie2006: Any Day Now2007: Double Dragon, Adrenalin Fear the Rush, On the Beach, Paycheck2008: Deterrence, Southland Tales2009: Cloverfield, Freejack, I Am Legend2010: 2010, District 9, The Butterfly Effect, District 13, Thunderbirds2011: Radioactive Dreams, Battle Los Angeles2012: The Ultimate Warrior, 2012, 2012 Supernova, Death Race, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Paprika2013: Escape from L.A., The Postman, A Scanner Darkly2014: Moon Child2015: Back to the Future Part II, The 6th Day, Firebird 2015 AD, Memory Run, Shank2016: Hell2017: Barb Wire, Cherry 2000, Fortress, Terminator Genesys, The Running Man2018: Brick Mansions, Iron Sky, Mad Max Fury Road, Terminator SalvationAnd now that you're all caught up, here what you can expect to be watching in the years to come...2019: Akira, Blade Runner, 2019 After the Fall of New York, Daybreakers, The New Barbarians, The Road, Steel Frontier, The Island, Tron Legacy2020: Mission to Mars, Edge of Tomorrow, G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra, Real Steel, Stealth, Voyage to the P[...]

This Week in Geek (12-18/03/18)


BuysGot three Doctor Who RPG volumes (in print and pdf): The Black Archive, Paternoster Investigations, and the GameMaster's Companion."Accomplishments"In theaters: Red Sparrow could have been a Black Widow movie, or an "Atomic Blonde"-type vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence, but it's all a bit too straightforward for that. On the longish side, the post-Cold War Cold War thriller about a broken ballerina who becomes trained as a seductress-spy might well have benefited from a less linear structure, and certainly avoided scenes where the nevertheless solid and watchable - if expressionless - J-Law is forced to tell people the back story we all saw. Once the double-dealing starts and it's less obvious who she's working for, the movie gets more interesting, and I think comes to a satisfying conclusion. I call it straightforward, but it's also a straight take, the brutal violence never over the top, and humor almost absent. It's only very rarely a FUN flick (Mary-Louise Parker's character is about it), the sexual violence makes sure of that without necessarily making you feel it viscerally. It's a tale told adequately, but rarely stylishly. I liked it for what it was and several of its characters (the women mostly).At home: I came to the ITV Manchester-based cop drama Scott & Bailey because its two leads once appeared on Doctor Who (Lesley Sharp in "Midnight" and Suranne Jones in "The Doctor's Wife"), but I'm not gonna lie, it's Amelia Bullmore as their superior officer who's the series' MVP, straight up as important as they are. Sort of the UK's answer to Cagney & Lacey, Scott is a level-headed detective and master interviewer, while Bailey leads a messy life that bleeds into her work. All the characters are complex and interesting, and the show manages to make you care about an extended cast over its 5 series and 33 episodes. One of the show's most interesting aspects is how it delivers procedural elements without repeating itself, giving us researched glimpses into this aspect of police work (including the careerism of it) or that, depending on the episode. There's also a lot of variety as far as structure and editing, which is pleasant. The mysteries are well built, and the solves predicated both on Sherlockian leaps and deftly catching suspects in a lie. I gotta tell you though, I gotta stop binging on crime dramas for a while because I'm having too many vivid dreams/nightmares where I'm arresting people.Joel Potrykus' Buzzard is rightly compared to Office Space, but its humor is darker, and there are shades of horror, though a mundane kind of horror. The monster creates himself, but isn't so much evil as he is clueless. The film concerns Marty, a slacker and small-time scam artist, whose life starts to spiral out of control when he gets too big for his britches. Thing is, he does wrong without really knowing why not, and what the consequences might be. His strange Millennial innocence is at once endearing, or at least pitiable, and irritating. Made on the very cheap, the film presents a portrait of disaffected youth that needs no bells and whistles, but still manages a couple of jarring images, and may get a wry laugh from you if you're willing to like the unlikable. The DVD includes a trip to a film festival and some outtakes.Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days is a minute-in-the-future cyberpunk (Dec.31 1999, but 4-5 years in the production's future) where, sort of as a sequel to Brainstorm, experience-recording technology exists, and you can get the tapes on the black market. Ralph Fiennes plays a tape dealer and ex-cop who gets embroiled in a web of murder and snuff "films", but it's a nice surprise that Angela Bassett is actually the one to get all the great badass action. Bigelow knows how to do kinetic and visually-appealing action, so when the movie rocks, it really does, but it is somewhat hampered by James Cameron's script's structure. There's too much world-building up front (and really, how much does the time gap require?), so our protagonists get involve[...]

Straight Outta Gallifrey: The End of Time


Straight Outta Gallifrey's Ashford Wright invited me and the Sutherlands to talk about The End of Time, the absolute late RTD era story we swear and the almost last Tenth Doctor story, a two-parter that sees the return of the Master and Gallifrey, along with a lot of guest stars.

That's all at Straight Outta Gallifrey, under Episode 72: The End of Time

Thanks for listening!

Krypto #116: Eradicator's Dog


From: Eradicator #3 (October 1996)

Krypto never really took to Superboy, did he? But what if he'd been handed to one of the other Supermen? Who would be the best owner? Not the Cyborg, of course, but you'd think... Steel? I don't think we know whether the puppy terror would have played nice with John Henry Irons, but we do know he liked the Eradicator quite a lot!
It's pretty surprising. Anything to doggy-humiliate Kon-El, I guess!

Dial H for Here, You Do It


The Brave and the Bold revival featured two Dial H stories with Robby Reed, and though they could be set in the past, they still pretty much wiped away the H-E-R-O series' take. I guess the Infinite Crisis happened between the two appearances. Anyway, very different writers on each tale. B&B #9 is by Mark Waid, one of my favorite superhero writers, the other by Michael J. Straczynski, one of my least favorite. Indeed, the first is a fun Silver Age vignette where one of the Metal Men gets a shot at the Dial. The other is a speech-heavy Batman story in which Robby lets one of the Joker's henchmen steal the Dial because he foresaw the next user would die and he's a coward.Case 78: Brave and the Bold (v3) #9 and #27Dial Holders: Robby Reed, Tin, Travers MiltonDial Type: The Big DialDialing: The alien symbols on the Dial are specifically said to be Interlac. A robot can use the Dial; the identity turns out to have some robotic features, but human ones as well. In the case of Travers Milton, he doesn't need to read Interlac, he feels compelled to dial the right letters. He feels similarly compelled to act heroically (so the Dials seen to date in the 2000s - Push-button and alt-design Big - are no doubt the aberrations). Oddly, his dialed identity has his fingerprints.Name: The Bruiser (it's just okay, if that's his name)Costume: The red and yellow luchadore mask and hairy chest with X-straps gives him a strong wrestler's look. He has dark blue pants, red knee pads, and red and yellow boots and gloves. His yellow belt features a large, round, red buckle. Oh, and he's several stories tall.Powers: This giant is strong and invulnerable, and probably has some good pro wrestling moves.Sighted: Fighting Megistus' robot dinosaur across the United States, from Colorado to New York.Possibilities: A luchadore-inspired comic where the lead fights kaiju-level threats? I'm not made of stone, here! At the very least should be part of a traveling hero's hook-ups when he visits Mexico. Leading to a quirky mini-series, then nothing, but fans keep bringing it up. Shame about the name, which needs a little Spanish flavor.Integration Quotient: 70% (name aside, the concept has weird and wacky legs)Name: Manbot the Mighty (that's a mouthful)Costume: Looking for all the world like a cyborg Lightray (the red shape on his chest is reversed so as to look like a fat mechano "M"), Manbot wears blue and silver "armor" that seems grafted to a young human face with blond hair flowing up the top.Powers: Strength, invulnerability and flight. Whatever powers his body, it glows green and is sufficient to destroy a giant robot with one blow.Sighted: In New York, destroying Megistus and kissing Platinum.Possibilities: Manbot's resemblance to Lightray is too uncanny. Maybe the forces of Apokolips built him as an answer to the New God, but then it rebelled and turned on its masters, a lover not a fighter. Now he races around the DCU looking for romance with robot and cyborg ladies (or guys), sort of like a non-emo Red Tornado, hoping against hope he's not alone in the universe.Integration Quotient: 50% (even I can tell my "possibilities" are extremely convoluted)Name: Mental Man (a perfectly fine name, if old-fashioned)Costume: A cultist's robe with optional hood. It has wide sleeves, brownish boots and belt, and a shield-shaped buckle with an ornate "M" on it. The most distinctive thing about his appearance, however, is his enlarged cranium and glowing red eyes.Powers: Dubbed "The Greatest Psychic Who Ever Lived", Mental Man's powers seem limited to seeing into the future. His name might suggest more psychic/psionic abilities, but they are never shown.Sighted: In a Gotham City hotel room, gazing into the future.Possibilities: In appearance, a member of DC's mystical class, he's someone who might do well in combination with others like Shadowpact or Justice League Dark. Inevitably, he'd probably become the Dr. Druid of the bunc[...]

Midnight Ep.19: Bernie Wrightson Tribute


Midnight...The Podcasting Hour celebrates the work of horror master Bernie Wrightson one year after his passing. First, PJ Frightful recalls Wrightson's first published work for DC Comics, "The Man Who Murdered Himself" from House of Mystery #179. After that Ryan Daly welcomes guest hosts Sean Ross to discuss "The Secret of the Egyptian Cat" from House of Mystery #186, Jimmy McGlinchey for "All in the Family" from House of Mystery #204, and Siskoid (that's me!) for Swamp Thing #3.

Listen to it at Midnight 19: Bernie Wrightson Tribute.

Turn down the lights at your peril!

The X-Files #293: Plus One


"You're all dried up. Not even half a woman."ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Insane twins play hangman together, and if they guess your name, your double shows up to kill you.REVIEW: The first true-blue, non-Mytharc, episode of the season, and not a moment too soon. It's a bit uneven, but it's what the X-Files do best - a creepy one-off supernatural mystery with an ironic ending that leaves the leads without full answers. In this case, there's the idea of dark doubles of people appearing out of nowhere and causing strange "suicides" (road accidents, hangings, falls from a great height, but weirder ones too) in a small town. Initially pegged as a contagious mass hysteria, Mulder and Scully soon meet an institutionalized woman who telepathically plays hangman with her twin brother (a prison trustee), the names they guess acting as a kind of sympathetic magic/psychic voodoo that creates the lethal apparitions. You get some natural suspense and creepiness from this, of course, especially once they decide to target the FBI agents. In the end, they get angry at one another and summon up each other's doubles, which puts a fatal end to their rampage. So pretty fun. "FBI! Put down the pencil!" indeed.If the episode isn't entirely successful, it's that the acting is so variable. Karin Konoval is great as the sister, sometimes sweet, sometimes angry and evil, but as the brother - I had to double-check because she's unrecognizable, but yes, she plays her male twin - is comically over the top. I just don't believe "Chucky" as a character, and the show seems to know it, layering his scenes with twinkly music as if to say, yes we know this is ridiculous. It creates a tonal problem. But I also have problems with the gun nut, sword-collecting lawyer also overacted (by Ben Wilkinson), a sort of parody figure who doesn't really make sense in the story. If he's a small town lawyer, and Arkie is an example of his clientele, how does he afford dozens of katanas, antique samurai armor, and a barrelful of assault rifles? There are comedy episodes, and there are serious episodes, but the mix can be a little awkward unless it's very dark indeed, or comes naturally from the leads' normal dynamic. Though even here, the bit where Mulder keeps spooking Scully by standing over her bed (did he knock at all?) feels just a touch forced. Pick a tone and stick with it, guys.There does seem to be a missed opportunity in Plus One regarding the dark doubles of Mulder and Scully, though perhaps none of the suicides/murders we see necessarily tell us something about the victim. Still, with all the talk about one's own demons, and self-destructive impulses, you'd think Fox and Dana's specific dark sides would have been explored. They're not. Their doubles are merely sinister presences, once of which is dispelled by a placebo (so Scully's own resolve?), while the other shoots (blanks?) at Mulder and bashes his against a wall until the twins stop playing that particular game. There's still some character development, with Scully wondering if she's old, and what will happen to them once they retire (or are fired as part of Trumpian cut-backs). We've seen hotel room shenanigans with these two before - the classic series was all about the will-they, won't-they - but at this point, it's almost silly, and one wonders what their retirement plan actually is. Can they only be a couple once they're out of the FBI? Well, life is too short. By the end of Plus One (the title does double duty), it's safe to say they're an item, or at least, lovers. How this ties into the theme of self-destruction isn't clear and makes me think the production didn't really understand the theme.REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Entertaining, but thematically and tonally muddled at times.[...]

RPG Talk: The GameMaster as Detective


The GameMaster is many things: Referee, setting expert, storyteller, day player... but one thing I never hear mention is that he's also a detective.

Think about it.

One of the key aspects of detective work is noticing details. Be they clues or inconsistencies, details are the bread and butter of the good detective. I dare say it's also an important arrow in the GM's quiver. And not just remembering setting/adventure details that he himself (or the game designers) put into the game, but "clues" dropped by the PLAYERS.

When a player does something, mentions something, throws away a bit of back story, the perceptive GM will either note it, remember it, or otherwise pick up on it, and could use it at some later point. Therein lies the difference between being railroaded through a set scenario and an adventure that grows organically and becomes personal to the party.

The GM is often playing catch-up, juggling entirely too many things in any given game while the players happily mind their one character sheet and throw curve balls. Unavoidably, mistakes are made, inconsistencies crop up, someone will call the GM out on it. Again, puzzling these problems out like a detective would, our struggling GM has to make the pieces fit, find a reasonable explanation why what just happened COULD happen. It can take the game into a new and surprising direction. The players might be intrigued by something you never thought important. How is the mistake not a mistake? Is it a sinister glitch? Does it mean more than anyone thought?

Because players will totally do that. Obsess over the importance of something you only accidentally gave meaning to. If you sweep it under the carpet, they'll think you're hiding something. They're crazy. But if it's turned them into detectives, so should it do you. If they expect a mystery and a resolution, you'll need to provide one. If they're to solve it, you'll have to drop more clues, clues that make sense. So even if you're the mystery's author, it takes a detective's mind to craft it, to see links between the elements already on the table. Just like in the game, you are omniscient and yet not.

And it all comes down to the ability to notice and remember details, to connect them in a greater story, to ferret out the hidden meaning behind innocuous words and actions. For the GM, there's a lot of joy to be had BETWEEN games coming up with Eureka moments that will hopefully lead the players to their own in-game.

Break out your magnifying glasses, it's gonna be a long night...

oHOTmu or NOT Ep.32: Eel to Electro


A slippery villain. Bigger-than-life Kurt Russell. A bunch of old dudes. A real shocker, but not THE Shocker. The Girls know what's up and will decide which are Hot, and which are Not. You've been warned!Featuring permanent panelists Elyse, Isabel, Nathalie, Josée, and Amélie.Listen to Episode 32 (the usual mature language warnings apply) by clicking HERE!Or you can right-click “download”, choose “Save Target/Link As”, and select a location on your computer to save the file (30 MB).Or subscribe to oHOTmu OR NOT? on iTunes!You can follow along! Here are the characters we cover in this episode.    Credits:"Can You Dig It?" (Theme for oHOTmu or NOT?) by Brian Tyler.Bonus clips from: "Electric Feel" by MGMT; "Guardians of the Galacy Vol.2" by James Gunn, starring Chris Pratt, Kurt Russell, Dave Bautista, and Zoe Saldana; "Doctor Who" starring Matt Smith and David Tennant; "Electro The Human Lightning Bolt" from "Spider-Man", starring Tom Harvey, Paul Soles and Paul Kligman; "ER Theme" by James Newton Howard; "Planet of the Apes" by Franklin J. Schaffner, starring Charlton Heston.Thanks for leaving a comment![...]

One Panel #293: That Classic Pose


From Batman: "Professor Strange's Fear Dust" by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos, Detective Comics #46 (December 1940)

Batman, in a warehouse, looking down petty crooks from the top of a crate or platform, cocky or spooky, is a much reprised image of the Darknight Detective. I don't even know if this is the first clear iteration of it. It probably isn't. But when you think of Batman, some version of the scene may well come to mind. It's like Superman breaking his chains or Green Arrow walking off angrily.

Do you have a favorite Batman mise en scène?

This Week in Geek (5-11/03/18)


BuysSnagged a DVD copy of the Chinese film Cold War."Accomplishments"In theaters: Game Night certainly starts very cleverly, and keeps the twists and turns coming, throwing real people into a thriller scenario, and sending up the genre's tropes as it does. It is most overtly a spoof of David Fincher's The Game, but even with that movie in mind, it still charmed and surprised me. All the characters get a chance to be funny, and even work out some of their issues, which kind of makes Game Night a close (but foul-mouthed) cousin to the latest Jumanji film. And that's not a bad place to start from. Even better, it knows how to shoot and cut for comedy, shades of Edgar Wright. The one thing I found unbelievable amid the crazy comedy-action is that these veteran gamers only every played mainstream Parker Brothers fare. I mean, come on. Not even Cataan?! Probably a product placement thing, but still one that feels antiquated. I'm not actually saying this is a problem. It's part of the fun. Just an observation.At home: Silk Stockings, the musical remake of Ninotchka with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, is a product of its time insofar as gender politics go. Contemporary eyes will find Astaire's movie producer really kind of slimy and cheer on Charisse's Soviet robot resisting his aggressive advances. Having forgiven 1957 its attitudes, the movie is a very funny Cold War comedy, painting the Soviet regime in an amusing light, a parody of knowing parody of its brand of fascism. I've never laughed so hard or so long at systemic censorship, I swear. As a musical, it is uneven. It can go a little too long before a musical number, but then it has these wonderful dance numbers that express the characters' interior life. Its love themes are cheesy and old-fashioned, but the comedy songs are fun and memorable. You might just want to check it out for latter-day Peter Lorre in one of his weirdest roles (and that's saying something).Wallander, the BBC series, presents three feature-length mysteries per season (à la Sherlock) for four seasons set across 8 years. Though a British production, it doesn't do away with the original novels' Swedish location, which is a nice surprise. It helps make the show stand out, and Sweden's bleak, wet landscapes are perfect for the tone of the story. Kurt Wallander's distinction, as a noir copper character, is that he feels things too intensely. Every murder weighs on him, he can't get the images of dead bodies out of his head, and it's already taken its toll on him in the very first story. Because we're so used to Kenneth Branagh playing period pieces/Shakespeare, his naturalistic performance here is all the more amazing. I'd say the first season is a little clunky and any mystery that smacks of a conspiracy less interesting that straight up murders, but overall, this is a strong, albeit depressing, drama about the end days of a veteran - but not hardened - investigator.Doctor Who Titles: Before Hitchcock was Hitchcock, he made a number of silent films. Judging by The Lodger (1927), he was still Hitchcock. The story (remade a couple times) has a family start to wonder if the odd gentleman they've taken as a lodger is really the Ripper-like murderer roaming the foggy streets at night. And so is his interest in their daughter sincerely romantic or something more sinister? The techniques may be primitive, but Hitchcock still manages a number of inventive shots, and uses text cards in interesting ways. In contrast to the big budget affairs of Eisenstein and Lang, he's managing a lot of atmosphere and suspense with a restricted budget and very few sets. Great stuff, and for cinema buffs, it's prototypical Hitchcock in tone and subject matter. It's interesting to see how early his fascinations developed.#The TARDIS la[...]

Krypto #115: Kingdom Come Krypto


From: Kingdom Come #1 (May 1996)

Taking a break from our reality, we take a peek at what will become Earth-22, Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come. The present is 90s/Image-inspired, but the past is a mix pre- and post-Crisis Earth (and maybe a little Super-Friends too). Among the pre-Crisis elements, we find Krypto the Super-Dog as he used to be (and Comet too). And look at that patch:
He's specifically disguised as Skippy, as per issues of The New Adventures of Superboy! I mean, unless this is just a dog that LOOKS like that Krypto. It's not like we see him in action or anything. But let me DREAM!

Dial H for Half Time


JSA Classified #25 completely ignores the H-E-R-O series (was it all a dream?), but doesn't QUITE restore the Big Dial to its former self, and this story too will end up being ignored by the time we see the Dial again. I'm starting to think the various Crises created anomalous Dials (and Robby Reeds) whose histories deviate from one another some time after the Silver Age. In this tale, the Dial looks slightly different and is in the possession of S.H.A.D.E. until it is stolen. Green Lantern Alan Scott is tasked with recruiting an old villain of his, Johnny Mimic, the ultimate profiler who can duplicate any crime by tapping into the original criminal's mind. One thing I did find interesting is that Mimic's dialed identities are weird and grotesque, foreshadowing China Miéville's Dial H series in the New52.Case 77: JSA Classified #25Dial Holder: An unnamed S.H.A.D.E. scientist, and Jonathan Waddill AKA Johnny MimicDial Type: The Big Dial (or is it?)Dialing: This version of the Dial has the letters H-E-R-O along the same edge instead of the classic's alien symbols, with "Dial H for" written in the center. S.H.A.D.E. killed the previous owner, which may or may not be a reference to Robby Reed. It works as the Push-Button Dial did, with a flash of light and smoke, and apparently no moral drive to be a hero. One of Mimic's dialed identities has his face (and first name), and another is the perfect ironic counterpoint to Father Time; whether this is because of an interaction with Mimic's powers is unclear. Green Lantern's ring is able to damage it to the point where it is unusable, and returns the user to their normal identity. Its destruction and subsequent return in future comics, along with its slightly different look, might indicate this is not Robby's Dial after all, but an inferior copy.Name: Time Man (unnamed, entirely based on powers and chest emblem; Mimic calls him Time-Bandit, which wouldn't match the latter)Costume: In yellow and red, a simple spandex suit with goggles, and big, cartoony letters ("TM") on his chest.Powers: The ability to travel in time, but not space. If the physical space is changed between times, he is liable to materialize in solid matter, which is lethal.Sighted: In S.H.A.D.E. HQ, popping to the future (and his death) after stealing the Dial.Possibilities: Time Man probably wouldn't last long with those limitations, so make him a bit of a comedy character. A mini-series (after which he is never seen again) sees him bumble through figuring out how his powers work and getting into all sorts of trouble while never really leaving a small radius from his apartment.Integration Quotient: 10% (even if I write a story for him, it wouldn't allow him to interact much with the DCU, or not for long anyway)Name: Johnny Fireplug (that's a crazy name)Costume: A dark-colored fireman's uniform, with a red fireman's hat and a fire hydrant cover on his chest. His face shows a grisled beard, and his arms are long fire hoses.Powers: Johnny shoots powerful jets of water from his stretchy hose arms.Sighted: At S.H.A.D.E. HQ, fighting Green Lantern and S.H.A.D.E. agents.Possibilities: A weird cyborg team called First Responders might include this veteran firefighter.Integration Quotient: 25% (too strange not to need a lot of set-up)Name: Grandfather Clock (fits the bill, and would fight Father Time frequently)Look: A grandfather clock with arms and legs, large whirring gears at his joints and inside his torso. His moon-like face is where the clock face would be, its hands forming a makeshift mustache.Powers: This clockwork character can fire whirring gears at targets, use the ones fixed to and inside its body to grind foes at close range, and is made of wood, which helps[...]

One Panel #290-292: The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall


From "The Giants of Professor Zee" by Jerry Siegel, Paul Cassidy and Wayne Boring, Superman #8 (January 1941)

Is that a giant Lex Luthor? Oh wait, no, Lex isn't bald yet. So it's the Ultra-Humanite, right? No? Nope. This is one of a couple of synthetic giants created by mad scientist du jour, Professor Zee, who dies crushed under the heel of one of his monsters. And they all fall off a mountain and die. Aw.

From Superman: "The Preston Gambling Racket" by Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley, Action Comics #32 (January 1941)

Speaking of falling, sometimes you gotta catch them before they hit the ground...

From Captain Marvel: "The Engine of Doom" by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck, Whiz Comics #12 (January 1941)

...and sometimes, you have to provoke the fall. Heh. "Gnatzis". Nice.

The X-Files #292: This


"The FBI finally found out what it's like to be looked upon as a little spooky."ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A call from long-dead Langly exposes the existence of the Conspiracy running an immortality simulation.REVIEW: "This" feels like it comes out of nowhere, and so leaves one rather emotionally disconnected from what should have been at least an affable comedy, and at most a weepy reunion with the 16-year-dead (or are they?) Lone Gunmen. I think part of the problem is that Mulder and Scully take some crazy stuff at face value, while you're going, "what?! that's believable to you?!", in particular in regards to the virtual reality set up to send digitized humans to the  stars (if that's what the Syndicate really wants to do), or else use their minds as slaves for computing just how to make the trip. Yes, an old episode of the show, a pretty terrible one written by Ian Gibson, used a VR world as a premise. But you sort of need to namecheck that 16 years on for it not to seem out of place.And the way the weirdness piles up, especially given that the episode starts and ends with the leads sleeping on the couch, it sets you up for a Dickian twist where we're in the VR all along, and these versions of Mulder and Scully are merely copies, perhaps destroying the virtual world from the inside. If it had happened, I would have cried foul, because Doctor Who JUST did an episode like that, but still, it would have explained some of the unexplained insanity here: Russians attacking the house as if this were a Cold War scenario, the impossible-to-set-up puzzle in the cemetery, the bit where the background drops out in the diner and Mulder and Scully are visually treated just as Langly is, the way the bad guys pop up just about anywhere, kids punching Scully on the bus (what is the point of that?), Mulder not getting caught making faces while playing prisoner (one guy's back is turned, but not the other), Skinner's delay in explaining things (but that's pretty usual), even the way some of the rooms are shot. You keep trying to spot some glitch that reveals they're in the Matrix, but it never happens.Instead, this is all adjunct to the Mytharc (grown), part of that faction that wants to stop Cancerman's plague, and wants the elite to go to space. If that can be believed. They're also working with Russian security contractors because this is most definitely Trump's America (Skinner mentions the FBI isn't in the White House's good graces too). These guys shoot up Mulder's house, wipe key records from the now-digital X-Files (but Langly has back-ups in what seems like a porn file, which is a nice detail), and try to recruit Mulder (again). Skinner seems untrustworthy. Langly has a girlfriend who was ready to spent VR eternity with him, and who dies in a hail of bullets, never to be mentioned again. And at the end, there's this insane notion that turning off a computer corrupts all its data, and anyway, the machine is uprooted and stolen cuz no one was able to keep an eye on it between the denouement and the epilogue. Then the dead assassin shows up in VR as a final, unfunny punchline... Feels like everyone decided to give about 50% that day.THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: How DID Langly know where he'd be buried so a crucial clue could be left 3 tombs down on Deep Throat's grave? No easy answers. His girlfriend (or some other co-conspirator) could have put the chip on the grave indicated, but it's Deep Throat's by coincidence. That's the only thing that makes sense... unless the Lone Gunmen are still alive and had the tombstone changed after the fact. Or something.REWATCHABILITY: Low - Mytharc-adjacent, which puts my teeth on edge, but mo[...]

Gimme That Star Trek Ep.19: The Borg


Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated! Siskoid and Kraptonite's Ryan Blake go deep into one of Trek's most enduring antagonist race - the Borg! Where they came from, what they mean, how did they evolve, what impact did they have on the Trek universe, and what are their greatest moments and stories. It's all here in Gimme's first villain profile!

Listen to Episode 19 by clicking HERE!

Or you can right-click “download”, choose “Save Target/Link As”, and select a location on your computer to save the file (46 MB).

Or subscribe to Gimme That Star Trek on iTunes!

"Star Trek Theme" by Alexander Courage, with the Irredeemable Shagg on vocals. End theme: "Deep Space Nine Theme" by Dennis McCarthy.

Bonus clips from: Star Trek The Next Generation's "Q Who?", featuring Rob Bowman, Maurice Hurley, an Tim Trella;  "Star Trek: First Contact", starring Alice Krige and Brent Spiner; and Star Trek Voyager's "Revulsion", starring Jeri Ryan.

Thanks for leaving a comment!

Oscar Night Results


I've lost count of how many "Oscar Parties" I've hosted. I know the first one was sometime between 2001 and 2004, and if I skipped any years, it can't be more than one or two, but the event has definitely evolved over time. The most lasting effect of the night is the "Oscar Pool", because whoever wins it, gets the pile of DVDs (many of them terrible films, and you'll realize why in a second) assembled by the guests for the occasion. And for my part, whatever I win, I promise to watch and review on this here blog before the next year's Oscars. I win about half the time, even when I don't try (you get a feeling for this sort of thing), so they love to plonk down the very worst and cheapest dreck they can find (though some are just trading out DVDs they got on BluRay, and so on, it's not all crap). Even if I don't win, the winner passes down the crap THEY put in, and anything they already have, to the next in line. Four or five people can legitimately expect to go home with something.This year, I had my work cut out for me. For the first time, I invited my new downstairs neighbor Mathieu Lewis, a big movie watcher, and for the few years I've known him, he's always matched or bettered my score. But he and the other usual frontrunners scored the lowest they EVER have, while I ended with 18 correct answers to win it by a wide margin. I mean, I was under the impression the winners would be pretty cut and dry this year, and relative to my picks, they were. My only big surprises were in the two documentary categories, where I SHOULD have voted for those I liked best and didn't. And I do think Baby Driver deserved editing and sound mixing, but Dunkirk's not a bad pick either.So I won, but had put the lion's share of movies in the Oscar Pile, so the runner-up (hi Amélie!) got a treasure trove of both good and bad films. And I got... Grease 2, Life Is Beautiful, three frontier movies from the Love Comes Softly Series (says here the boxed set is vol.2), and oh boy, a Hallmark movie 5-pack headlined by Melissa Gilbert in Thicker Than Water. It's gonna be a rough year getting through this small pile...And then there are the Oscar Food Puns. Bit of a late night pot luck, and guests are invited to bring something either named after a nominated film (any category), or else bring food featured in a movie (like say, hard-boiled eggs from The Shape of Water). For my part, I made a fruit plate entitled War for the Planet of the Grapes:But we also had The Shape of Watermelon, Coco-nut Chocolate Skulls, Get Take-Out, Three Layers Outside Ebbing Mint-souri, Three CHEESEBOARDS Outside Ebbing Misouri, Call Me By Your Name Peach Cobbler Surprise, Spicy I,Tuna Rolls, Get Oat-meal Cookies, Breadwieners, Boss Baby Duck Sparkling Wine (and Baby Duck Driver Sparkling, second bottle), and Brownie Squares. So... is this post too long to get a jet ski?[...]

This Week in Geek (26/02-04/03/18)


BuysGot some oHOTmu or NOT swag, just a few shirts and a travel mug. Love 'em."Accomplishments"In theaters: Annihilation is, on the face of it, similar to Arrival - a female lead (in this case, a female ensemble), a hard sci-fi mystery (though not as procedural a result), unknowable aliens, a flashback structure, and powerful atonal music. In the story, a team of scientists enters a "shimmering" field in which DNA from one organism seems to infect organisms around it, and through by-turns beautiful and horrific encounters, hopes to make it to the center of the anomaly. The film's subtext is how we change throughout our lives, in particular how was are transformed by trauma. Different characters in the piece react differently, whether it's by facing, rejecting, denying, or embracing who they've become. Trauma and loss are at the forefront, so the cancer motif is not surprising. Director Alex Garland does not seek to explain things beyond the metaphorical grounding, and simply leaves what is unknowable as a sensory experience, and lets ambiguity do what it does best - make the audience ask questions and give the film a life of its own once the lights have come up. As with Arrival, I was intellectually engaged, but it kept me at a distance emotionally.At home: Deborah Ellis' The Breadwinner comes to animated life in the Oscar-nominated film about a young girl in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan who must dress up as a boy if her family is to survive after her father is jailed by the authorities. It's an important portrait of Muslim women from that part of the world, sensitively portrayed, one that uses its protagonist's two lives to show crushing disparity between the sexes. One feels that Parvana having tasted male freedom, it wouldn't be so easy for her to go back. One element I sometimes find lacking in animated films but present here is that the emotions projected by the various characters are complex, like live action performances. Nothing needs be over-explained. And thanks to the mytho-personal story Parvana tells - in fun cut-out puppet animation style - The Breadwinner is not devoid of humor despite its heavy subject matter.I've worked in a contemporary art gallery, and The Square, though its featured museum has a much higher profile, represents the self-importance of the culture very well. Just on that level, and as a wry satirical comedy, I was quite happy with it. But there's a lot more happening. The title's Square, a work of art creating a utopian safe space, is barely in it, but it throws the rest of the universe into contrast, a world where people are essentially shitty to one another. I.e OUR world. The protagonist at least tries to follow the Square's message, but he fumbles at best, and the film asks whether class, human nature, etc. can sincerely be overcome by a purer morality. At the same time, it is playful about the divide between art and not-art, performance and behavior, even fiction and documentary. The context in which we see something can turn the real, the mundane, the reprehensible into art, but where do we see the line, or frame? Pretty clever, but also subtly honest with its protagonist, and with itself as a piece of art. It's visually striking as well, which is a must for a film set in the world of fine art. In Swedish with a some bits in English thanks English-speaking actors like Elizabeth Moss (who is a hoot) and Dominic West.Hungary's entry in this year's Oscar competition, On Body and Soul, hooks you in with its fabulistic premise - two co-workers share the same dreams where they are a pair of mated deer, [...]

Straight Outta Gallifrey: Journey's End


I recently joined Ashford Wright on Straight Outta Gallifrey to talk about The Stolen Earth/Journey's End, the Doctor-Donna, Doctor Blue, and the pseudo end of the RTD era. Oh, and we might also discuss the new Doctor Who logo and our favorite TARDIS crews. Probably by accident. ;-)

That's all at Straight Outta Gallifrey, under Episode 71: Journey's End

Thanks for listening!

Krypto #114: More Post-Crisis Krypto


From: Superboy (v4) #19, 21, 23 and 25 (July 1995 to March 1996)

By Superboy #19, Krypto has been fully integrated into the household. Watch as he gets cuddled by Roxy on the beach!
Fights Chameleon Boy!
Hangs out with bathing beauties (and Dubbilex)!
And poses for fun pin-ups!
Is there no end to Krypto's adventures?

Dial H for Heeeeere's Robby!


H-E-R-O's last storyline runs through 8 issues, but it'd been brewing long before that, with regular appearances by an adult Robby Reed, in prison and exhibiting all sorts of powers. Seeing reports of one-shot heroes in America's Rust Belt, he recognized the H-Dial's influence and escaped. His goal is to get the Dial back, even though it's stopped working for him, to prevent it from getting into the hands of a psychotic killer, something he knows about thanks to a past identity that had traveled to the future and seen his deeds first-hand. The Dial then stops working, and he drops back into the cave where he found it, but he starts to develop powers without it, and in trying to prevent the course of history is thought of as a madman, and incarcerated. So of course, the Dial DOES get into the wrong hands, leading to the villainous hero trying to kill past Dial holders, just as Robby tries to assemble them into a team to fight this monster.As the series ends, I can say I thought the stories it told were interesting as well done, but the way heroic identities were treated was mostly disappointing. Rarely any code names, very generic powers... they were an afterthought, a means to an end, which was telling stories of how the Dial might be used if it were real, and how it might upend a person's life. There's nothing wrong with that, but I long for different times.Case 76: H-E-R-O #15-22Dial Holder: Robby Reed, "Brown", Tony Finch, Andrea Allen (one each, in order below)Dial Type: Push-button DialDialing: Retcon Alert! Robby Reed is now a redhead, and his original Big Dial IS (and was always) the Push-button Dial. His story is much the same as before, but ends differently, never becoming the Master. How Vicki and Chris got their Dials much have changed after Zero Hour (the last continuity-changing event), but they still got them, as they have appeared in post-Zero Hour comics. Possibly, he simply took it back from Nick. Robby here says his Dial has no morality, allowing anyone to use the dialed powers anyway they want. In his opinion, his heroic identities were more imaginative than the latest crop of users', suggesting the identities are tied to the user's imagination in some way. He also says that on very rare instances, a Superman-level identity is summoned. Somewhat consistent with what happened to Chris and Vicki, it appears a long-time user of the Dial has the ability to invoke some of the powers they once had, though these come back slowly over time, or require a moment of great stress. In Jerry Feldon's case, he eventually becomes the old identities for a moment. His child also exhibits powers, transferred genetically. The Dial completely stopped working for Robby at some point, he doesn't know why (perhaps there's a limit to the number of identities one can summon in one's lifetime). While one cannot dial for another person, one can use the person's hand, even if not attached to the body, to do so. When a splitting hero is dialed out, his copies remain alive and in the world for some reason (with his personality); they cannot dial themselves out of existence. As pure beings of the Dial, they can sense and track past Dialers. In the end, the Dial is sent back in time and lands in prehistory, a story we've already told. So it seems the Dial is part of a paradoxical time loop and has no origin point.Name: Future Boy (would that Legionnaire sound redundant?)Costume: Stolen and modified from Blue Beetle's closet, this blue superhero suit shows a clock at 3 o'c[...]

One Panel #289: Birth of the JSA!


As we start on comics on the stands in November of 1940, I'm going to break the rule of "one panel" to celebrate the birth of the superhero team as a concept.From "The First Meeting of the Justice Society of America" by Gardner Fox and Everett E. Hibbard, All-Star Comics #3 (December 1940)All-Star Comics #3 indeed features the first meeting of the Justice Society of America, but at this point, being a "team" means little more than showing up at the club house and recounting your solo stories to the other members. And doing it through your usual creative teams, no less. The "team" then, is just a framing tale (and a slightly meta one as well, as the heroes keep mentioning the comics they appear in) to give a "superheroes-only" anthology book some structure.It's still a landmark moment in comics, and I think the various artists do some of their better work on these short stories. Here then are out-of-context panels from each member's tales:Johnny Thunder by Gardner Fox and Everett E. HibbardThe Flash by Gardner Fox and Everett E. HibbardHawkman by Gardner Fox and Sheldon MoldoffThe Spectre by Jerry Siegel and Bernard BaileyBonus: First appearance of Oom, who Roy Thomas would include in his version of the Monster Society of Evil in All-Star Squadron.Hourman by Ken Fitch and Bernard BaileyRed Tornado by Sheldon MeyerThough she never reappears in a Golden Age JSA story, Ma Hunkel is indeed invited to the meeting, as were no-shows Superman, Batman and Robin. Maybe she was too embarassed to ever return, here leaving after ripping the seat of her pants off when climbing through the window.Sandman by Gardner Fox and Chad GrothkopfDoctor Fate by Gardner Fox and Howard ShermanThe Atom by Bill O'Connor and Ben FlintonGreen Lantern by Gardner Fox and Martin NodellFeaturing little remembered Lantern interrogation techniques!So who was YOUR favorite charter member of the Justice Society?[...]

The X-Files #291: My Struggle III


"Civilization a joke, and my plan merely the punchline."ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Scully is receiving visions of the coming plague from her son, and Mulder goes out looking for the Cigarette-Smoking Man.REVIEW: Ugh. Who else is sick of the constantly retconned Mytharc? I sure am. At least if they're all going to be called "My Struggle" (Chris Carter's?) now, it'll be easy to avoid them on subsequent rewatches. It's been two years since the previous season, so even knows what they're talking about anymore? The Season 11 opener uses a lot of voice-over (from two characters, messy) and flashbacks that go back to the original series in an effort to get the audience up to speed, but I can't imagine anyone but hardcore fans making heads or tails of most of it. I'll call that OUR Struggle. All that's really necessary to understand, I guess, is that the Cigarette-Smoking Man (Cancerman for short) wants Scully's son William so he can release a plague (probably because his blood holds the cure), and another faction does too, not to prevent the apocalypse but to control who gets to survive (Mulder doesn't believe in their secret space program, just like I don't want to believe Cancerman faking the Moon landing). And in the final twist, Cancerman reveals William is HIS son, not Mulder's, though it was all done with science, no worries, it's not as icky as it could have been, we swear.A lot of information is dumped on us through Scully getting psychic visions remotely from William, which is still a damn sight better than Mulder driving around with narration that doesn't really tell us anything new. Whether because they don't want Scully to find her son, or what, assassination attempts are made on Scully's life, which resolves into Mulder cutting a guy's throat with a scalpel as oppose to, you know, shooting him with a gun. It's very odd. Throw in an irritating fake-out played as if Mulder finds Cancerman (how he finds the house is not clear), but his silhouette and Reyes' turn out to be look-alikes, and some lame car action including a tepid chase and no less than two car accidents, and you have a very clunky opener indeed. No wonder the aliens have given up on us.That last bit, of course, is almost ripped from the headlines. Trump's America is one where the environment is damned, natural resources are too low for the planet to be worth anything, the population can cry fake news at anything out of the ordinary, and Cancerman can justify the culling. It's all a bit on the nose, but consistent. Characters are more prone to believe in conspiracies than in the original series (Scully's doctor believes in psychic phenomena), and even we, as the audience, don't know who to trust anymore. For example, Eistein and Miller, surely groomed to take over the franchise one day, are the ones who find Scully post-accident, so we immediately start to mistrust this coincidence. On the other hand, I have a hard time believing Skinner actually made a deal with the Cancerman in good faith (indeed, I also expect Reyes to turn on him), but Mulder's got to jump to conclusions at the slightest whiff of cigarette smoke. And then Skinner must deny even having the meeting, just so he looks more guilty. Haven't we been down this road with him before?Given everything that happens, it's hard to believe Mulder and Scully can just "go back to work", but I accept it just so I can get the Mytharc behind me and watch some good ol' one-off mysteries.TH[...]

FW Team-Up: Batman and Captain America


FW Team-Up tackles its first DC-Marvel crossover duo with John Byrne's Elseworlds, Batman & Captain America! And to do so, Siskoid welcomes oHOTmu or NOT's Amelie Montour who is a huge fan of Captain America's buns. Among other attributes. Listen... or Else! (Get it? See what we did there?)Listen to the Batman-Cap FW Team-Up by clicking HERE!Or you can right-click “download”, choose “Save Target/Link As”, and select a location on your computer to save the file (19 MB).Or subscribe to FW Team-Up on iTunes!Highlights from Batman & Captain America by John Byrne:       Credits:Theme: "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" by Andy Sturmer.Bonus clips from: "Gunfight in the Ruins" from Medal of Honor: Airborne, music by Mike Giacchino; "Captain America: The First Avenger", score by Alan Silvestri; and "Spider-Man: Homecoming" by Jon Watts, featuring Chris Evans.Thanks for leaving a comment![...]