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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: 2017-12-18T09:18:39.493-04:00


Watching Doctor Who the TARDIS Way


It's not uncommon for people to ask me in what order they should watch Doctor Who. Should they start with the new series, with the Moffat era, with An Unearthly Child, or the color era? All of the works. There is no "right" way to do it. I'm personally fond of starting with the new series, but dipping into each of the other Doctors' most beloved stories. If you find you like a Doctor/era, then dig in. If you don't, leave it for later or for never.

But there's another way to experience the vast Doctor Who canon, and that's to follow the currents and eddies of time as if by TARDIS. Essentially, the idea is to start somewhere, anywhere, but then let the references in that one story guide what you will watch next. Say we start with the new series opener, "Rose"...

Well Rose basically poaches the Auton invasion of the third Doctor's first story, Spearhead from Space. So let's watch that.

The Doctor stealing clothes from a hospital in his first adventure? The exact same thing happens in The Eleventh Hour!

The Eleventh Hour uses footage of all the other Doctors and a number of monsters, so you could really go anywhere after that. But let's fall into a crack in time instead. There was another one in fifth Doctor story The Awakening.

Watch the Awakening. Once the village church explodes, go right to The Daemons for another. Daemos is referenced in The Satan Pit, so off to The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. That voice... got it! Pyramids of Mars is next. Then to Capaldi in Empress of Mars. The War Games also features historical soldiers on another planet. The Doctor's Wife reuses the hypercube message from that story. That one deletes the TARDIS swimming pool, so head to The Invasion of Time for its first appearance. And on and on and on.

After each story, there are multiple paths to take. You can follow actors, characters, monsters, time periods, stray references, themes, and call backs. If a NuWhovian wanting to find out more, you could merely do this as side-steps, always alternating with a NuWho story: Rose matched with Spearhead, but then The End of the World with The Ark (Earth is destroyed), The Unquiet Dead with Image of the Fendahl (time crack confers psychic powers), and so on. Not sure WHERE to go? I recommend looking at the TARDIS Wiki (or even regular Wikipedia) under a story's notes on "continuity", etc. for ideas.

This year's Christmas special is obviously connected to The Tenth Planet, which is what got me into that frame of mind (Twice Upon a Time - The Tenth Planet - Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel - Inferno - The Christmas Invasion...) in the first place.

Try it out, where would YOU start, and where would it take you?

This Week in Geek (11-17/12/17)


Buys'n'GiftsEveryone's been saying I should read it, so I got Strange New Worlds: TOS vol.1, and off a Christmas sale, and since I was exploring cons and heists this month anyway, White Collar the Complete Collection (I've only seen Season 1). Annnnnd many thanks to friends (fans of the podcasts will recognize the names) who came through on our annual gift exchange. I am now the proud owner of Lone Wolf & Cub Omnibus vol.1 (Marty), Michael Chabon's Moonglow (Isabel), Monty Python Fluxx (Amelie), a print of one of Blake's poems (Nath), a mug of Shakespearean insults (Elyse), two wine glasses, one ginormous (a CougarTown joke, Amelie again), the other with a SHIELD logo cooked into it (Shotgun made various glasses with Marvel logos on them for the oHOTmu gang), and a custom t-shirt with a visual joke I won't try to explain today designed by Art-Girl herself (that's Josée). Wow, cool swag. Thanks again guys."Accomplishments"In theaters: The Disaster Artist is more about the strange and strained friendship between modern-day Ed Wood Tommy Wiseau and aspiring actor Greg Sestero than it is a tell-all about the making of the cult hit film The Room, but a good chunk of the movie is nevertheless devoted to it. It's a weird one, definitely aimed at fans of The Room, and indeed, if you've never seen this "worst film ever", you may well wonder why people in the theater are laughing at certain bits. And yet, there's comedy there that should work for everyone, James Franco's Wiseau, played as a tantrum-prone child, is such an extreme type, that the unwary audience member may well think it's complete invention (until the credits sequence allows them to compare this reproduction with the original). Dave Franco's Sestero is the one to watch, navigating some dangerous waters with his ever volatile friend. And though I don't particularly rate the impressions (the actors are too good to play bad ones, generally, and the wigs aren't good), there are some interesting parallels between the story and The Room's plot. Seth Rogan, as the truth-telling audience identification figure, really makes the film.Pixar's new tearjerker Coco is beautiful to look at, and from what all my friends of Mexican extraction tell me, very true to the culture. It's all about Miguel, a boy born in a family that hates music for ancestral reasons, who really wants to be a musician (and yet, it's not quite a musical; the song and dance numbers are simply part of the story). When he defies them, he gets into a bit of trouble and finds himself in the spectacular Land of the Dead and of the Many Gags That Can Be Done with Skeletons, where he must get a family member's blessing... but will it cost him a life of music? Coco doesn't pull punches, as it deals with death and loss honestly despite its fantastical trappings - even non-religious audience members will recognize the link between memory and existence - and by the end, if not by the middle, will probably wrench tears out of your eyes. Plus, some very fun Mexican celebrities make appearances on the other side.The Man Who Invented Christmas is part of one of my favorite movie genres, the author biopic that mirrors that author's work (Shakespeare in Love, Kafka), in a screenplay written by Susan Coyne (Slings & Arrows) who knows well how to do this. This time, Charles Dickens tries to write his early classic A Christmas Carol, while disturbed by his chaotic family life and haunted by his dark childhood. The movie makes parallels between many of his books and his life, and there's some fancy in his being visited by his characters, most importantly the malevolent Scrooge, who also stands in for his writer's insecurities (a great turn for Christopher Plummer). It's touching and unashamedly sincere - like perhaps the best Christmas movies are - but above all, it's FUNNY. Dan Stevens brings a light touch and dazzling energy to the role (on the spot, some of my friends said he could play the Doctor, if that means anything to you). All in all, and fun way to retell A Christmas Carol for the [...]

Krypto #103: Remember the Watch Dog Joke?


From: New Adventures of Superboy #50 (February 1984), plus World's Finest Comics #285 (November 1982), The Superman Story (1983), and DC Comics Presents #67 (March 1984)

After his last back-up story in 1981, Krypto stops appearing in New Adventures of Superboy for the longest time, and next shows up near the end, in #50, to help fight a 30th-Century villain using a stolen H-Dial.
Krypto ends up eating the precious artifact (above, and also here).

In the intervening years, the Dog of Steel nevertheless made a smattering of appearances in the contemporary(ish) DCU. The TOR book The Superman Story reprints material from 1979's Action Comics #500, which features memories of Krypto. And in World's Finest Comics #285, Superman remembers playing with him as a boy.
Meager offerings. A month after New Adventures #50, DC Comics Presents #67 (Superman and Santa Claus) COULD have given us a Christmas treat, but instead, just another memory, this one even further back.
They sort of forgot about the poor pup. Good thing he's still got a couple issues of New Adventures in him...

One Panel #263: The Mighty Atom!


From Atom: "Action at the College Ball" by Bill O'Connor, Ben Flinton an Leonard Sansone, All-American Comics #20 (November 1940)

Al Pratt gets a costume in his second appearance, and though he's just a short boxer, the comic decided that was enough to give him improbable strength, as the above panel can attest! I wouldn't want to meet THIS guy in the ring!

Hey, maybe it's symbolic. He's not quite so insanely powerful one the narrator's done retelling his legend.

Speaking of legends... An anonymous tip on the last One Panel post sent me looking for Al Pratt's likely inspiration, famous strongman Joe Greenstein (1893-1977).At 5'4" - 3 inches taller than Al Pratt - Greenstein nevertheless made a name for himself as a diminutive circus strongman billed as "The Mighty Atom", and was apparently able to bend horseshoes and nails with his great strength. His interest in unlocking the mental powers associated with strength was sparked by an incident in which a Texan, obsessed with Greenstein's wife, shot him between the eyes at 30 feet. He somehow survived, the bullet flattened on his skull! He was still doing incredible feats of strength for audiences at age 84, when he finally succumbed to cancer. That's some JSA vitality right there!

Further parallels with the Golden Age Atom include the story of his seeing a "No dogs and Jews allowed" sign on a building, and having fled Poland exactly because of this kind of bullshit, went to get his baseball bat, and proceeded to knock it off. 20 Nazis rushed out and jumped him. They didn't fare well, several ending up in the hospital. He also taught the NYPD jujutsu.

And it runs in the family. Just a couple years ago, Greenstein's 93-year-old son appeared on American's Got Talent pulling a 3500-pound car with his teeth!

So wait, how many Justice Society members were real people?!

Dial H for He's Back!


The Silver Age event brought back Robby Reed, basically at the tail end of his House of Mystery adventures (the Thunderbolt Gang is still causing trouble), and before whatever you think is his proper future (the Plastic Man appearance or the Wizard/Master stuff from the Chris & Vicki stories, or somehow both). Secret Files and Origins acts as a prequel to the Dial H for Hero special; both are covered in this article.Case 68: Silver Age Secret Files #1 and Silver Age: Dial H For Hero #1 Dial Holder: Robby Reed / Suzy Shoemaker (who dialed once before in House of Mystery #169)Dial Type: The Big DialDialing: The Secret File on Robby confirms the 10 letters on the Dial as A-D-E-H-I-L-N-R-O-V; enough to spell HERO, VILLAIN amd HORROR, but not SPLIT (as per New Adventures of Superboy #49). Since that story happened at the very end of Robby's career, we will suggest he eventually finds an alt-key on the Dial to access other letters. Robby calls the alien (or extradimensional) letters "Interlac", and that he used the writing on an alien weapon Superman once disabled as a cipher. He says that the persona's name only "sometimes" pops into his head. Sometimes he can dial another identity immediately after the previous one, sometimes he has to wait; this is apparently as random as the identities themselves. Suzy reveals she feigned amnesia and wants to dial for hero again; when they both do, they become Silver Age heroes who, from their perspective, haven't been active yet - Supergirl (no doubt active, but still Superman's "secret weapon") and Tommy Tomorrow.When Robby becomes a giant, the Dial remains its normal size, making it difficult to dial again. While it is rare for an identity to show up twice, this marks the first (possibly only) time one is dialed for the third time, and that identity is Radar-Sonar Man (House of Mystery #157 and 167).Name: Twilight (no glittering vampires here, but DC owns a workable logo thanks to Howard Chaykin's space opera version of Watchmen)Costume: Black and dark gray with a cowl and cape that might remind some of Marvel's Shroud. The black shoulders resolve into an upside down triangle struck through with gray lines. Otherwise very basic.Powers: Twilight can project absolute darkness in various shapes and intensities. Its normal setting impairs vision, but he can also dissipate or redirect a laser beam (this seems to be based on particular shapes). He can also fly.Sighted: In Littleville, subduing members of the Thunderbolt Gang.Possibilities: Though he may want to trade on Batman's look, Twilight works best as a day time hero, and yet, doesn't have a power set with enough depth to work alone. He might be better suited to be a Dr. Mid-Nite or Shadow Lass to a contemporary team, like some iteration of the Teen Titans. Expanding his powers by taking a page from Marvel's Dark Dimension characters (Blackout, Darkstar, Cloak) might give him a shot as a dark, tortured and actually versatile hero, but not as is.Integration Quotient: 50% (too generic for more, but there's potential there)Name: Pyronic Man (that's... not what pyronic means)Costume: A traditional superhero costume, except that where the color switches from mustard yellow to brown (the boots, mid-arm, torso) is defined by a flame pattern. On his chest, a big brown "P" in that same pattern. His hands and cowled head are ablaze with flame. He appears to have a fleshy face despite saying he is "a creature of living flame".Powers: Flame projection. The flames can take on specific shapes, like a cage.Sighted: At Fort Masterson, fighting what appears to be a JLA gone bad.Possibilities: The one story I would write is a confrontation between him and the Cryonic Man. But as flame throwers are a dime a dozen, that novelty tale would probably be a one-off, and then again only tickle very specific fans of Batman and the Outsiders.Integration Quotient: 15% (it's all a little ridiculous, and yet, generic as hell)Name: The Giant (does not actu[...]

Straight Outta Gallifrey: Time and the Rani


The 7th Doctor is my favorite Doctor, but the era I really love kicks in midway through Sylvester McCoy's time in the part. Still, what about his very first appearance? Well, it just so happens the Rani's in it, and she's a Time Lady. That means Ashford calls the troops together (that would be me, in this context) to talk about the serial. So, Time and the Rani, yay or nay? Listen and find out!

That's all at Straight Outta Gallifrey, under Episode 61: Time and the Rani

Thanks for listening!

One Panel #261-262: Introducing the Atom! (Also, Some Whip Action)


From "Introducing The Mighty Atom" by Bill O'Connor and Ben Flinton, All-American Comics #19 (October 1940)

Al Pratt makes his debut in All-American #19, but not yet in costume. After being treated a bit like "Mac", the scrawny weakling who gets sand kicked in his face and later becomes the Hero of the Beach in all those Charles Atlas regimen ads, he trains under boxer Joe Morgan (who will eventually be credited for training Wildcat as well). Despite his size, he goes back to the villains and kicks their asses, leaving "The Atom"'s calling card. You gotta get some better threads, there, Al!

From The Whip: "The Orphanage Benefit Part 2" by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff, Flash Comics #10 (October 1940)

The Whip versus a look-alike, which has nothing to do with the Atom, but I did want to finish up the books that were on the stands in August of 1940. And I do so like the Whip. The action is definitely more fun than that of the Flash or Hawkman at this point.

First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.29: Starman #6


Starman helps with the relief effort before going home in this Invasion Aftermath extra, which guest stars, among others, one Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Earth. Well, that just seems like the perfect pretext to talk about Green Lanterns in our second segment! Bass and Siskoid continue their coverage only at the Fire and Water Podcast Network!Listen to Episode 29 (the usual filthy filthy 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 (38 MB).Or subscribe to First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast on iTunes!Highlights from Starman 16, by Roger Stern, Tom Lyle and Bob Smith:Will Payton gets some help and encouragement from Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and Power Girl's mullet.Oh, and from the Atom too!Meanwhile, the Power Elite is torturing a Durlan who pulls a neat gross-out trick:Starman vs. bus full of supervillains:More color in our gene bomb explosions?Credits:Relevant teaser clip from "Starman" by David Bowie.Bonus clips: "Green Lantern" by Martin Campbell, starring Ryan Reynolds; "Deadpool" by Tim Miller, starring Ryan Reynolds.End theme music from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" score by Bernard HerrmannThanks for leaving a comment![...]

One Panel #258-260: Quality's Great Splash Panels


Quality Comics really did offer quality. Just look at the splash/title panels on some of their strips...
From The Ray: "Cadava the Crumbler" by Lou Fine (as E.Lectron), Smash Comics #15 (October 1940)

I don't think I even have to say anything, except that the Quality artists really did put in extra effort, and were given little credit (just look at the pseudonyms in each of these).

From Doll Man: "The Laughing Puppeteer" by Lou Fine (as William Erwin Maxwell), Feature Comics #37 (October 1940)

Lou Fine again. Do we sense a pattern emerging?

From Sally O'Neil, Policewoman: "Barry Gilmore Returns" by Toni Blum and Chuck Mazoujian (as Frank Kearns), National Comics #4 (October 1940)

I could almost have done a Freedom Fighters theme, but Mazoujian out-Eisners Will Eisner in this issue. Eisner's Uncle Sam splash is ordinary, while the way Mazoujian creates the Sally O'Neill's logo seems almost taken out of The Spirit (who had recently started appearing in newspapers, though I don't know enough about it to say if Eisner was already doing the cool logo work).

Straight Outta Gallifrey: The Curse of Fatal Death


Straight Outta Gallifrey turns 2 years old today! As a way to celebrate, its gracious host Ashford Wright decided to invite me on to talk about an off-canon, but very influential, episode of Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death by one Stephen Moffat! It's a timey-wimey gender bender camp but not too camp adventure starring a lot of big names!

That's all at Straight Outta Gallifrey, under Bonus Episode: The Curse of Fatal Death

Thanks for listening!

This Week in Geek (4-10/12/17)


BuysRealized I hadn't read a Paul Auster book in a long time, so got myself 1 2 3 4 (though I'll probably only read it next summer)."Accomplishments"In theaters: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri uses heavy dramatic subject matter, and through dry humor and grace, manages to make it funny an not at all depressing. Frances McDormand plays Mildred Hays, a force of nature whose daughter was raped and killed some 7 months before and from her perspective, the cops (Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell) in her small town have done nothing. She rents three billboards in the middle of nowhere with a savage message pointed in their direction, and it flips the town upside down (cleverly, the police chief sends his own messages at the mid-point to make the whole story pivot once more). There's a lot to this picture, up to and including a satirical portrait of small town law enforcement as apathetic, corrupt and incompetent, but as the film navigates various points of view, the truth is always something more complex. In the end, grace comes from unusual sources without the film losing its hold on reality. Funny, but not farcical. Touching, but not sappy. Angry, but not unforgiving. Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) hands in another unique, entertaining story.At home: Confidence is very much a prototypical con man movie - there's a crew, plans within plans, you aren't meant to be sure if you can trust what you're seeing or who the characters are actually playing to, and bad people deserving of to be cheated - and it works as an intellectual puzzle. And that's often enough (whether you smugly guess the truth or get caught be surprise). But it doesn't really work emotionally. The villains are more interesting than the heroes, for one thing, and only Rachel Weisz truly ellicits any sympathy. I don't know who thought Ed Burns was an engaging lead, but he's the cookiest cookie-cutter character of them all. And while I liked the convolutions of the grift itself and the slick direction, Weisz's character is too often the victim of rampant misogyny and objectification, not all of it necessary to the story. Made my skin crawl, especially early on.In 1978, Michael Crichton adapted his novel, The Great Train Robbery, into a film. A novel that took its cues from an actual train robbery in 1855. It's a fun one, with Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland playing witty rascals planning an impossible gold robbery on a moving train, and executing that plan with some flair, and no small number of improvisations along the way. A lot of time is in fact spent on figuring out how to do the heist and on acquiring the keys necessary to get the safes open. By the time the train pulls out of the station, you're salivating for a resolution. All the way through, there's sufficient humor to keep the film from becoming too much of a procedural, with Connery is especial form. They should make more capers that take place in historical settings, whether true stories or not.Spike Lee's Inside Man concerns a bank robbery that isn't really one, in which a disgraced police detective (Denzel Washington) goes head to head with a mastermind (Clive Owen) with plenty of recognizable faces besides. Right away, the title creates suspicion and paranoia, and hostage/suspect interviews edited into the narrative helps the notion along. The solutions are pretty clever and never talk down to the audience. That this takes place in Lee's multi-ethnic New York adds another layer to this chess game. That and his documentary-style camera work grounds the film in the real world, and yet he allows himself some directorial flair which doesn't detract from the mood, but rather enhances it. Great music cues too. This one keeps you guessing and entertains all the way through. Loved it.1941's The Lady Eve stars [...]

Year 11


Eleven years ago, I sat down with Blogger and started this adventure. For most of that time, 2 posts a day in addition to any other projects I might have had. It's kind of like having discipline, but I kind of see it as another way of goofing off. In that time, I've posted 7869 times. You've probably not read that number of posts, but whether this is you 7869th time on the blog, or the first, I'm using my bloggerversary to thank you all for your patronage. You bastiches are keeping me in the game.Down to a single post a dayTaking stock of the last year, 2017 was when I cut down to rarely more than one post a day. Back in late February, I was facing increase pressure at work and decided to drop my DCAU reviews. Doing daily reviews is why there were two posts a day, more or less to prevent the blog from being (originally) Trek-centric, or (later) Who-centric, X-Files-centric, etc. When those pressures let up, I found I preferred the one-a-day schedule. If reviews of long-running franchises is your thing, they're still around, just a slower pace. We're getting new Trek now, and of course, Doctor Who is heading for a big shake-up next year (which I've been calling for for YEARS now, this blog is full of proof, including this past year's The Companion Is the Time Lord feature that cast a lot of actresses as the Doctor).Year 11 HighlightsIn the real world, 2017 was even worse than the terrible 2016. Meanwhile, on the blog:-In addition to a sizable chunk of the DCAU, I also regularly reviewed Doctor Who, Star Trek Discovery, and Class.-On the podcast front, I kept up my end of the bargain with the Fire and Water Podcast Network, and guested on a fair few others. Recently, I've been blessed by the Wright On Network, invited to take part in many episodes of Straight Outta Gallifrey. Seeing as I don't have a Doctor Who show of my own, it's a great place to drop some Whovian knowledge and opinion!-Movies, movies, movies! Perhaps one of the things made possible by dropping daily reviews is that I've been able to watch a lot more movies. They turn up as capsule reviews (much more manageable) every Sunday. Indeed, I've run (and in some cases, am still running) a number of "movie marathons" to guide my cinematic path - Movies I really ought to have seen by now, Movies with Doctor Who titles, and December's Cons & Heists.-Krypto's just finished his second year as a regular Saturday feature (following in the foot steps of Superman and Jimmy Olsen) and he won't survive a third. We're in the 80s now, Crisis is on the horizon, and grumpy old John Byrne didn't want ANYTHING but Superman to survive Krypton's explosion, so not as many opportunities for the Dog of Steel in the next few decades. What next for Saturdays after that? Keep your cape on, kid, that's a LONG ways away.-I've revived a couple of comics indexing features, specifically Dial H for Hero which I'd dropped sometime in the New Adventures of Superboy era. Racing towards contemporary day now, and should hit the 2000s' H-E-R-O series soon.-Some might remember my New Year's resolution to play more board games, then review them. Seems to have dropped off my radar in the second part of the year, but hey, t'was fun while it lasted.-One type of text that recurred several times falls under the heading of "Geeks Anonymous", sharing stories and anecdotes about what makes a capital-G Geek. 2017 was the year of exploring exactly what that meant.-The most ridiculous thing to happen to me this year, geek-wise, was a petition started by one my sillier friends to make get me cast as the new Doctor. I'm much happier with the choice they actually made.So, what's next?In addition to what I've already mentioned, you can expect new-ish features to see more action - RPG Licensing Fun, Who's Who in the[...]

Krypto #102: The Dog Detective of Smallville


From: New Adventures of Superboy #22 (October 1981)This is the last Skippy story, I think. After this, Krypto goes back to support player and doesn't need the secret identity. So let's enjoy it while we can.This adventure starts with some stick-throwing shenanigans, and then Krypto notices a possible canine injustice. A German shepherd jumps Chief Parker and almost gets shot by a deputy. Superboy to the rescue, but Krypto has his own concerns!Krypto saves the dog long enough for S-boy to intervene with WORDS and tell the cops the animal should be checked out by Dr. Shatt. The bloodthirsty deputy really really wants him to be put to sleep though. Krypto thinks "Without a fair trial? Dogs have rights, too!" Not really, Krypto. Not really.INTERLUDE: At the Kent farm, Ma Kent is upset her boys are feeding Skippy from the table.You know, guys, if you're going to talk about what the dog eats in outer space anyway, maybe it doesn't matter if you let the name "Krypto" slip out. Digestion brings mistrust. Can a human vet REALLY understand what's wrong with a DOG? So Krypto slips out, and frees the German shepherd.The "mutt" leads him to the malefactors behind the attack, two crooks who got some third party to turn a stray German shepherd into an attack dog they could use in crimes (specifically, revenge against Chief Parker). Now the dog's back, so is he gonna attack THEM? Rather than take the change, they shoot it. Well, not if Krypto has anything to say about it.Don't worry about Krypto's lead spit, he's not actually aiming for them. He and the attack dog just run after the two wiseguys and corral them to Chief Parker's house. In fear for their lives, they surrender to him.He recognizes them from 12 years earlier, as told in Superboy #19? Is Bob Rozakis REALLY dropping a decades' old reference by bringing back these two numbnuts?! Well, no, they mean New Adventures of Superboy #19 which, only three months earlier, featured a Superbaby back-up. Oh well. A shame, really.So that's a doggie salute to the Chief, but also to the Krypto/Skippy back-ups in New Adventures.[...]

Dial H for H-U-S-K


After DC vs. Marvel (or during, I should say), the Big Two were combined into the Amalgam Universe for a month (and it happened again a year later), a world filled with characters and concepts that merged characters and concepts from each comics universe into one. I loved this. Dial H for Hero was thus amalgamated with Generation X's Husk, a mutant who would "shed her skin" and gain new powers with each transformation. A natural combo.So in this reality, Paige Guthrie finds a mysterious Dial in a cave in the Appalachians, found a way to dial H-U-S-K on it, and presto changeo, it focused her latent mutant powers. Now she hangs with the X-Patrol...Case 67: X-Patrol #1 and Exciting X-Patrol #1Dial Holder: Paige Guthrie AKA H.U.S.K.Dial Type: The Big Dial (Amalgam Universe)Dialing: The Dial has a slightly different appearance in this universe - it is sleeker and seems to have a triangular pattern (like a ray beam?) on the top instead of a red circle. There are no discernible finger holes or letters on it. When Paige dials H-U-S-K (which begs the question why anyone would spell out this particular word), it focuses her latent mutant ability and release her super-powered "inner selves". When turning into a new character, skin explodes off her like energy. She instinctively knows the name and powers of each persona, but doesn't know whether it's an aspect of herself or a mask under which the real Paige hides. Each persona has its own distinct personality. She can dial straight from one identity to another without reverting to her true self. She wears the Dial as a belt buckle for easy access. Unusually, her very first identity looks just like Paige (albeit in costume).Name: Wonder-Girl (combines Wonder Girl with Wonder Man, but comes out sounding just like the former)Costume: A starfield sleeveless leotard (pinched from Troia), with a stripy belt, a big "W across the chest, and goggles (taken from Marvel's Wonder Man). Presumably, those accessories are red, as per both amalgamated characters' color schemes. It's possible she has jets attached to her belt, though her right side is missing the pod.Powers: Unknown. Presumably, great strength and invulnerability. Possibly jet-assisted flight.Sighted: Coming out of an Appalachian cave.Possibilities: Obviously, Amazon scientists created her out of pure ion energy so she could infiltrate the X-Patrol (sorry, that's where the Titans got Amalgamated, not very satisfying). She died, but was resurrected soon enough to become part of the team. As Donna Williams, she has a satisfying career as a movie stills photographer in Hollywood.Integration Quotient: 90% (looks good, and the Titans really did get the shaft in Amalgam, so a Wonder Girl, hyphenated or not, is a no-brainer)Name: Polaris, Mistress of Magnetism (combines the X-Men's Polaris and DC's Dr. Polaris)Costume: A buxom female version of Dr. Polaris, in purple and blue, with a silly magnet emblem, and a helmet with radio antennae. Rather silly.Powers: Magnetic control.Sighted: In Latveria, fighting Doctor Doomsday.Possibilities: She seems to wear too much tech to be a mutant, so let's say that like H-U-S-K herself, the powers are latent until unleashed by her armor. Which she developed herself to fight crime. But definitely a utility player on some B-team, like the Thundersquad, or the Great Primal Avengers.Integration Quotient: 15% (sorry, that costume holds no attraction)Name: Mary Marvel Girl (this clunky moniker combines Mary Marvel and Marvel Girl)Costume: In dark blueish grays with yellow accents, this redhead sports a short cape, cleavage that turns into a lightning bolt, a flared and lined collar, a short cape, and a pointy domino mask. It looks good, if muted and cold.Powers:[...]

One Panel #256-257: Use What You Got


From Bulletman: "Sabotage At the State Fair" by Bill Parker and Jon Smalle, Nickel Comics #8 (August 1940)

The great 5¢ experiment ends after four months, but no worries, Bulletman finds a new home in Master Comics. As you can see here, hitting things with his head is only ONE of his skills.

From Captain Marvel: "The Fantastic Crimes of Dr. Durgan" by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck, Whiz Comics #9 (October 1940)

Captain Marvel upends a tank of milk on a blazing fire. That's gonna leave a mess. Trust me on this.

Film & Water: Star Trek VI


To mark Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country's 26th anniversary, Rob Kelly invited David "Ace" Gutierrez and me to do a full-length commentary track for STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, the final voyage of the original crew of the Starship Enterprise.

Check it out at the Fire and Water Podcast Network page: Film & Water #121 - Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Audio Commentary

Have you seen it? What did you think? Leave us comments on the FW Network page!

Gimme That Star Trek Ep.16: The Wilderness Years


Between The Original Series and The Next Generation, how did you express your Star Trek fandom? Siskoid meets with Rob Kelly to talk about the Trek Gap of the 70s and early 80s, a wilderness, but not quite a wasteland. And perhaps, fertile ground for fandom to grow anyway. Plus, Siskoid continues his Trek reviews by covering The Animated Series and the original cast movies, with a little help from his friends!

Listen to Episode 16 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 (66 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: 1976 MEGO Star Trek figures commercial; "Batman: The Animated Series" starring Mark Hamill; "Highly Illogical" by Leonard Nimoy; episodes of Stat Trek: The Animated Series, starring William Shatner, James Doohan, Keith Sutherland, Nichelle Nichols, Ed Bishop, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Roger C. Carmel, Leonard Nimoy, and Lou Scheimer; "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" by Robert Wise, starring Leonard Nimoy; "Star Trek: The Motion Picture Theme" by Jerry Goldsmith; "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" by Nicholas Meyer, starring William Shatner; Star Trek II themes by James Horner; "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" by Leonard Nimoy, starring Christopher Lloyd; "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" by Leonard Nimoy, starring Nimoy and Mark Lenard; "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" by William Shatner, starring James Doohan and Shatner; and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" by Nicholas Meyer, starring Grace Lee Whitney, George Takei, and Leonard Nimoy.

Thanks for leaving a comment!

Straight Outta Gallifrey: Terror of the Vervoids / The Ultimate Foe


The Trial of a Time Lord ends, the Master returns, Mel premieres, and the Valeyard is revealed in not one, but TWO serial discussions focusing on the Sixth Doctor's last series. Ashford Wright and Joe Dredd once again let me sit in on Straight Outta Gallifrey to drop the knowledge bombs (or are they opinion grenades?). Join in the fun!
Find all the action at Straight Outta Gallifrey, under Episode 60: Terror of the Vervoids / The Ultimate Foe

Thanks for listening!

One Panel #253-255: Magic vs. SF


Being a collection of panels where DC's mystical heroes tangle with science fiction concepts...
From The Spectre: "The Curse of Kulak" by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey, All-Star Comics #2 (September 1940)

Before All-Star Comics featured the Justice Society of America (from the next issue), it simply showcased DC's big stars in solo stories, unencumbered by non-superhero stars. #2's Spectre story nevertheless introduces Kulak, one of the comparatively few Golden Age villains who got a Who's Who entry (albeit, half a page). Here he confronts the Spectre in outer space, racing around the rings of Saturn (I guess; you can see Earth from there).

From Dr. Fate: "The People from Outer Space" by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman, More Fun Comics #59 (September 1940)

Dr. Fate, meanwhile, was fighting aliens - ALIENS! - in the pages of More Fun Comics.

From The Spectre: "The Menace of Xnon" by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey, More Fun Comics #60 (October 1940)

And in the next issue of More Fun (which was physically on the stands the same month), the Spectre follows an alien criminal home and blows up his entire planet. I kid you not.

Mystical superheroes? Should they be getting involved in this kind of stuff?

This Week in Geek (27/11-03/12/17)


"Accomplishments"In theaters: There's a lot to unpack in Greta Gerwig's solo directing debut. The semi-autobiographical Lady Bird is a sensitive and truthful coming of age movie that digs deep into mother-daughter relationships, but it's also about coming from a small town and wanting to leave ASAP. It's a drama where you might recognize yourself, but it's a wry comedy too, with a lot of knowing smiles and laughs. Gerwig gives even the smallest character a nice moment. If there's a theme here, it's that no matter how much you rebel against it, you can't really deny where you came from. Saoirse Ronan's character has renamed herself "Lady Bird", has problems with her mother (a great performance from Laurie Metcalf), can't wait to leave Sacramento for college, etc. But through a novelistic accumulation of evidence, we're meant to understand that these rejections are futile, and that you can't exactly reinvent yourself from scratch. Thoughtful, funny, sad, and beautiful.At home: Fronted by Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw and Dominic West, The Hour is a BBC show about a hard-hitting news show in the late 1950s, tonally somewhere between Mad Men and The Newsroom. Each of the its two 6-episode series feels and looks very different, with Cold War concerns represented in the first by muted colors and spy thriller elements, the second instead concentrating on gangland, vice, corruption and scandal, and looking slick and colorful in comparison (Peter Capaldi also joins the cast, so there was that to look forward to). Well-acted, directed and plotted, with an eye towards at once accurately representing the bygone era of television and commenting on today. My one complaint is that the show feels the need to also cater to the "lives and loves" of its characters, producing soapy drama that, while it does tie into the action, still takes away from the more engaging journalistic procedural and thriller elements.Before anyone thinks I've gone mad (or madder), I didn't actually watch four seasons of the CW superhero shows this week. I've been hacking away at them for a few weeks, using the suggested order, flipping between one and the other. So naturally, I finished the 2016-2017 season of each show around the same time.Flash Season 3 starts with Flashpoint (urg), the fruit of the show's hare-brained ideas about time travel that will come to haunt the entire season, and inject some of the 14-year-old angst that frustrates me about the CW superhero shows (urg again). That said, the "save the cheerleader" plot is an interesting outgrowth of those events, and manages a few surprises (some you might guess, some not) towards the very end. The season has a musical episode that's kind of fun, and a lot of Killer Frost stuff that isn't. I hope that Savitar will be the last "evil speedster" Barry needs to fight and that future seasons will find a different Big Bad for its seasonal arc. As for the convolutions required to keep Tom Cavanagh on the show, I half hope they'll pick one and stick with it, and half wish they go even crazier with it in the future. The DVD includes deleted scenes, the usual Comic-Con panel, a gag reel, a short taped conversation with Kevin Smith (who directed another episode), a full suite of featurettes on the musical episode and the regular scoring of the show (involved and interesting), and bits on the Rogues, the Invasion event, and time travel. One thing I'll say is that the choice of comics images in the featurettes is absolutely AWFUL, and rarely pictures what's actually being discussed. Not a problem on the other [...]

Krypto #101: Skippy at the Vet


From: New Adventures of Superboy #17 (May 1981)Okay, so last we saw Krypto in New Adventures of Superboy, he made a big mess to turn himself into "Skippy", the Kents' mild-mannered, ordinary dog, but they can't just let him tip over a can of lacquer every time he needs to show his muzzle. So Superboy rigs that quick-disguise system for him in the basement (above). But how is he going to get his shots from vet-dogcatcher combo Howard Shatt? Clark has an answer because obviously, he's been living a double life for a while, but Krypto has no interest in doing the smart thing.I know super-intelligence is part of the Kryptonian power package, but trusting the dog's plan seems kind of crazy to me. But we're locked into the dog's plan and Martha goes into the vet's office blind, playing coy about where "Skippy" actually came from.Just before Krypto is to get his shot, armed men burst into the offices of Howard Shatt and kidnap him, interrupting the procedure AND Krypto's plan.Though he tries to stop the crooks by melting their tires from the reception area, they just steal another car. He and Martha are trapped, all the office's patrons and their pets held hostage by the gunman who stayed behind. Well, since we've already established in this story that heat vision is invisible, there are things Krypto can doThat's not suspicious at all. Krypto races back to the farm, gets out of character, and tracks Shatt to stables where the crooks want to force him to boost a race horse. That's quite the racket they have going there. Krypto springs into action.And then it's back to the vet's before Shatt can return and the plan is back on track:Well played, pup. Well played.[...]

Dial H for Helios (Among Others)


Finishing up Lori Morning's run with the H Dial over in the Legion books... Put your seat belts on, this is spread over a number of comics. (At some point, Lori joins Workforce, so there may be many adventures and identities with that team we're just not told about.)Case 66: Legionnaires #58-60, Adventure Comics 80-Page Giant #1, Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #105, Legionnaires #69, Legionnaires #81, and Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #125Dial Holder: Lori MorningDial Type: The Big DialDialing: Lori tries to dial the same hero twice, but the attempt is waylaid by Proty who struggles to take the dial away from her, leading to a monstrous transformation that seems to come from Proty's sense of aesthetics rather than Lori's. She mentions a one-hour limit, which is new for the Big Dial (and not entirely consistent with the way it's used even in the Legion era). It is revealed that the Time Trapper gave her the Dial during the visit to the Space Museum, though the entity considers the Dial a "child's toy". It turns out to have more power than he expected. While temporarily aged to adulthood by the Trapper, the Dial gives Lori a child's identity (even younger than she is meant to be), but her wish to dial somebody "cosmic" does work. When integrated into Brainiac 5's force field tech, it evolves it to create a self-propelled bubble that saves his and Lori's lives, but it temporarily(?) shorts out the Dial. Neither Lori nor the Dial are seen again after this.Name: Ink (at least she spells it normally, not like that Batman Beyond villain)Look: Appears to be made of an oily black substance that squirts around at the limbs and hair. Only the simplest of features show on her face, in white.Powers: Produces an tar-like substances that can be used to entangle foe and swing herself like Spider-Man. It appears that Ink is entirely made of this substance, or at least that her arms are, as they are seen to liquefy to extend her reach.Sighted: In 30th-Century Paris, helping the Legion capture a criminal Durlan. Triad tells her she should apply for Legion membership.Possibilities: Sometimes, you get a tattoo from a place that's not entirely legit and you get super powers. I think that's more fun than falling in a vat of irradiated crude, at any rate. With her simple 90s code name and powers, Ink is a utility player who would fit any number of superhero teams, including the Legion.Integration Quotient: 70% (an echo of Inque that people could point to as a "legacy")Name: Blobetta (no name actually given, this is what one fan site calls this identity at any rate)Look: A large, amorphous, transparent alien creature with starry eyes, rudimentary arms, and lots of multi-colored organs floating inside her. A humanish brain is recognizable, the rest are not. Her back has short spins coming out of it.Powers: Unclear (pun not intended). Presumably, "Blobetta" can absorb things like D&D's gelatinous cube. Her uncertain shape may indicate a limited form of polymorphism. She has trouble moving around, which perhaps means she's from a liquid environment.Sighted: In Legion HQ, arguing with Proty who thinks this form is pretty.Possibilities: The Reboot Legion's answer to Tellus (if you don't already consider Sensor to fill that niche). While she needs a better name (Cell Girl? Paramecia?), she could work as a proper alien within the group, if (and perhaps it's a big if) she can show something special at the try-outs.Integration Quotient: 25% (from what little we know, Legion Reject status inco[...]

December Movie Marathon: Cons and Heists


I love movies about grifters (con men, in North American parlance). I just do. There's something of the lovable rogue archetype to it, of course, but it also appeals to my puzzle-solving side, crafting the perfect plan, seeing it fall apart, improvising over the bad spots. And I generally like films that deftly lie to you (because your POV is limited, not because the movie cheats), then reveal what was really happening. I love shows like Hustle and Leverage (and Mission: Impossible because, come on, that's about con jobs more than it is about spies). I've seen David Mamet's entire oeuvre, and plenty more besides. Con stories and heists too, which I consider to be part of the con genre. So many, I wondered if I would be able to finds 31 con films of good quality for my now-annual December Movie Marathon(2014's, 2015's, 2016's).After accidentally managing to watch a horror flick a day in October, I thought maybe I didn't need to marathon in December at all, but I can't help myself. I did all this research into cinematic cons and heists, I've got to go through with it.So here then is my list of thematically relevant movies, in seven broad categories.Fridays: HEISTSLe Cercle RougeHeistThe Italian Job (2003)The ScoreThunderbolt and LightfootSaturdays: ROMANCE GETS IN THE WAYThe Bank JobDuplicityI Love You Phillip MorrisQuick ChangeThe Thomas Crown Affair (1999)Sundays: CONSConfidenceNine QueensPaper MoonSix Degrees of SeparationSmoke and MirrorsMondays: TRAINS (and Christmas)Deidra and Laney Rob a TrainThe First Great Train RobberyThe Great Train Robbery 2-part mini-seriesBad Santa (on Christmas day)Tuesdays: SCOUNDREL VERSUS SCOUNDRELThe GriftersInside ManThe LookoutRocknRollaWednesdays: CLASSICSThe KillingThe Lady EveThe Long, Hot SummerRififiThursdays: GAMBLESDiggstownRevolverRotten Dirty ScoundrelsWhite Men Can't JumpI do have back-ups if some of these turn out to be unavailable, like Purple Noon, Boiler Room and The Hoax. Maybe you have other suggestions, and maybe I haven't seen them yet.Catch the action on Twitter and on each subsequent Sunday.Which isn't to say I've abandoned my Doctor Who Movie Titles project, that's going on too. And oHOTmu or NOT's DJ Nath marathons holiday-themed films every December, so I'm likely to catch a few of those as well.[...]

One Panel #251-252: In the Mood for Violence


From Batman: "The Case of the City of Terror" by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos, Detective Comics #43 (September 1940)

Sometimes a guy doesn't want to tell you what he just ate and you gotta take matters into your own fists to get the evidence out. (Any Yanks having Thanksgiving flashbacks right now?)

Now, MORE violence!
From Sandman: "Case of the Kidnapped Heiress" by Gardner Fox and Creig Flessel, Adventure Comics #54 (September 1940)

Yeah, my thirst for blood is satiated. That DID do it.

oHOTmu or NOT Ep.28: Destiny to Doc Samson


A mutant with foresight. A race of uglies. A super alchemist. A Serpent who turned to good. And a superstrong psychiatrist. Which are Hot, and which are Not? Only one way to find out, and that's to get it straight from the Girls' own voices.Featuring permanent panelists Elyse, Isabel, Nathalie, Josée, Amélie and Shotgun.Listen to Episode 28 (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 (37 MB).Or subscribe to oHOTmu OR NOT? on iTunes!You can follow along! Here are the characters we cover in this episode.Halloween costumes right out of OHOTMU - Amelie as Death, Shotgun as the Black Cat:Credits:"Can You Dig It?" (Theme for oHOTmu or NOT?) by Brian Tyler.Bonus clips from: "My Destiny" by Alton McClain & Destiny; "We've Got To Break Up" by Jonathan Mann and Ivory; "The Arsenic Cake Song" from Asterix & Cleopatra 1968 animated feature (English dub); "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" from Moulin Rouge!, starring John Leguizamo, Nicole Kidman, Richard Roxburgh and Jim Broadbent; Frasier's "Maris Returns", starring Kelsey Grammer and Missi Pyle; Celine Dion's "The Power Of Love" interpreted by Amelie Montour.Thanks for leaving a comment![...]