Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Different Kind of James Bond

I've seen a lot of the James Bond movies, and while I can't say I'm a hardcore fan of them or anything, I certainly enjoy them. Somewhat stupid action movies are one of the simple pleasures in life. (So are really stupid action movies, but only in small doses, and that's a post for another time, I think.)

Anyway, my sister and I frequently joke about the inherent ridiculousness of James Bond. He's pretty much the least secret agent imaginable. He wanders around everywhere, repeating his name for all to hear: "Bond... James Bond..." just in case they didn't hear it the first time.

Assuming they actually intend each Bond to be the same guy (a la Doctor Who), he's also got to be, what, ninety or a hundred years old by now? (Exaggeration for comic effect... I think. Although Dr. No kind of implied he was an old hand already, which means maybe I'm not exaggerating? Sheesh, he makes all the comic book heroes look like youngsters.)

Not the point. Bond is about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Seriously, he waltzes right into the evil mastermind's peripheral base of operations (often a casino or other "pleasure business"), finds the guy, announces himself by name, beats the guy at cards or something, hits on his girlfriend, and then chugs about a gallon of some kind of alcoholic beverage. (All the old Bond movies seemed to have a casino, although maybe my memories of them blend together.)

Considering all the hard livin' Bond gets up to, plus the fighting, his advanced age, etc., it's not a wonder he's not subtle. All they'd have to do is take out his suavity, and it might actually make some sense.

To wit:


Scene: A high-rise office. A CEO is sitting at the desk, apparently hard at work.

Suddenly, the doors get kicked down. Doing the kicking is Brain-Damaged Bond (BD Bond for short). A manic, unsettling expression is on his face.

CEO: What-who?
BD Bond: Bond, James Bond!

BD Bond repeatedly shoots the CEO with a Beretta.

BD Bond: License to kill! Ha ha ha!

An attractive female secretary walks up. She sees the body and screams.

Secretary: Aaaaah! Oh, no! Security!
BD Bond: (approaching her) Pretty lady!

She backs to a wall, then seizes a fire extinguisher from its place and beans him with it.

Cut scene to: BD Bond is on a hospital bed. M and Q are standing there.

M: Shouldn't we euthanize him? I'm beginning to think he's too dangerous to let live.
Q: He's still mostly controllable, and he's a useful weapon, yet.

Cue sinister music or something.

Okay, that broke down into weird territory even for me. (shrugs)

-Signing off. (Can you tell I still don't have access to YouTube?)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sam Or Max

(With regards to my ongoing Flash Player woes, I discovered something on the site that is supposed to fix the problem I've been having. It doesn't work. Natch.)

My little brother had a friend over today to play around.

When my mother was talking with this friend's mother in preparation for the invitation (well, for a previous invitation my brother had to his house, but whatever), she refered to her son by the name "Sam."

This was rather odd; every time my brother mentions this child, he calls him "Max." My mother mentioned this after a little while.

There was a bit of confusion, followed by the other mother talking for a moment with her son. After a moment, she comes back and says, "Um, apparently he just goes by Max on the bus."

This kid can't be more than eight years old, and he's already leading a double life.

The thing that really makes me wonder is that his names are Sam and Max.

Sam & Max?


-Signing off.

Friday, March 27, 2009


It's been almost two weeks now, and YouTube still isn't working for me. (Seriously, do not go and download the new version of Flash if your player asks you to. Wait until your sites stop working.)


No ideas for today, so... if you were hoping for something interesting, I don't have anything today. (I do have some ideas, but they'd need proper access to YouTube.)

-Signing off.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

But Superman...

...blew him away with his puff.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Real Superhero Adventures: Teleporters

It shouldn't surprise people that the power of teleportation-the long-distance, instantaneous, and ultra-safe kind-would be immensely useful for many things.

What's really staggering is the idea of an "everywhere man" teleporter-one who can sense everywhere, or at least most places, and who doesn't move in linear fashion. One who doesn't actually have to fully appear somewhere to act on that place. (Less improbable than it sounds. If teleportation as a superhuman power were possible, it'd probably work as much or more like intangibility as like BAMFing.) And of course, it has been suggested that merely being an "everywhere man" would drive anyone totally insane.

Of course, everyone likes to focus on the horrible things teleporters could do. What about the perfectly legitimate things?

A courier service, for instance. I can't imagine a more secure and efficient way of ensuring a package arrived on time and untampered with than if an everywhere man picked it up and dropped it off in the same moment. And a "true" everywhere man could run this courier service without any "conventional" advertising, as he or she could drop off business cards to people that he or she knew were wishing for such a service because they were always hiring shady guys to sneak around packages or upset about e-mails or public mail being too public. The scary part would be that you'd never see the courier-in fact, I imagine it'd be possible for a smart everywhere man to run a business like this under the radar without ever being discovered.

And an everywhere man would, of course, be a highly effective law enforcement official. Too good, in fact-if Big Brother was watching you, it'd be a specific person. (I list it under legitimate jobs because you know every government in the world wants something like this.)

And then there's the bodyguard potential. Aside from being able to snatch people out of the way of gunshots or get them away from exploding bombs, an everywhere bodyguard might be able to do the following:

Guy: Can we go now?
Bodyguard: Wait just one minute. (mutters something into the phone)
(There are sounds outside, a brief flurry of automatic gunfire among them.)
Bodyguard: Now we can go.

So, yeah, that'd be pretty scary too.

Here's a counterintuitive one: Exterminators. (Or even general animal control, for that matter.) Even if all an everywhere exterminator could do was pluck ants, termites, rats, and other pests out of someone's home or building and put them somewhere less troublesome, it'd be the quickest, most efficient, and cleanest way to take care of this problem that I can imagine.

Repair jobs. Teleport out a bad part and teleport in a good one.

Surgery. See above, creepy as it sounds.

And of course, if a true everywhere man existed, and didn't need to sleep, s/he could probably do all of these jobs simultaneously.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Writing Techniques: The Mary Sue

(It would appear that this article has all my tags that start with "f." Funny.)

Recently, my sister has been discussing this subject on the Comic Dish forums. Or rather, "What makes a Mary Sue?"

In case you're not familiar with the terminology, a "Mary Sue" is a character, usually (but not invariably) associated with fanfiction, who generally plays out the fantasies of the author, is excessively powerful, and loved/hated intensely by all, presented as the greatest person ever, etc.

Lots of people have their own ideas on what makes a Mary Sue. (Hereafter referred to simply as a Sue for convenience. Not that I have anything against women named Sue; I have a very nice aunt named Sue. It's just the shortest and most-agreed upon abbreviation of the term.)

I tend to think that the identifying features of a Sue aren't quantitative, but qualitative. Thus, "litmus tests" don't work very well, in and of themselves. They count characteristics, and if someone has enough of these (some of these tests are actually made so that real people can theoretically be subjected to them), that person's a Sue, no ifs, ands, or buts.

The qualities of a Sue, in my own mind, are as follows.
1. The author clearly thinks the character is very awesome.
2. The reader doesn't.

Part of the process of "Sue creation" is telegraphing. When an author, particularly an inexperienced one, writes, a bias appears. Consciously or no, the bias tips off the reader that the author thinks the character is really great. Thus, the reader hopes to see the character be awesome, and when the character proves not to be so much, the reader says "Sue."

Generally, "Suisms" are the result of sloppy and inexperienced, occasionally lazy writing. The author tries too hard to make the reader like the character, and isn't that good at the methodologies of making the character likeable. (For instance, many Sues are infamously morally ambiguous, or sometimes downright evil, yet they are treated as if they're wonderful people.)

Another common characteristic of Sues listed on litmus tests is "unusualness." If a character isn't unusual, though, what's the point?

As I sometimes do, I'll use an example from my own writing. No fiction involving the character herself is actually written yet, but she's an excellent example of someone who would score extremely high on the typical litmus test for reasons completely beyond her own control. (I'm using her partly because I have a ready and convenient reference for her, and her existence has been established on the ol' internets.)

(I would embed the picture from DeviantArt, but you'll just have to be satisfied with clicking a link because embedding isn't enabled.)

Lheabi here is one of the wildest characters, certainly in terms of appearance, that I've ever come up with.

And, of course, she has an unusual name, one of the first things that Sue litmus tests attack. I'll be frank: I don't remember where it came from. I think I keyboard-mashed it into existence, but I could be wrong. Whether or not you can consider it unusual and meaningful depends on whether or not you consider random keyboard-mashing to have meaning.

She's attractive, which my sister (the artist) wags on a bit in her description. This certainly would score her points on any litmus test. I'll let you in on a secret which isn't technically spoilery: She's had a bit of work done. (Technically speaking, that's unusual for the setting in general, but not the subset of it which she comes from. Well, it is unusual for that subset, but it's complex. The rules weren't written to suit her, though; she evolved from the rules.)

She's ethnically mixed (in the fantasy setting sense). She's a wild mix of elf (oh, no, not a part-elf! 300 litmus test points!), y'cag (a race I made up, with blue or red skin and horns), bentang (another race I invented that is basically just multicolored humans, and the probable source of her hair and at least part of her skin coloration), and zzzyxan (guaranteed to be alphabetically last every time-known for being very strong and pseudo-albinos [and yes, I made them up-I make up a lot]). Oh, no, four races that aren't typical-stock human? (Fantasy races follow very different rules, obviously. On a scientific level, it'd be more correct to call them human subspecies, which is why I make the "typical-stock human" distinction.) Well, for me personally, it isn't much of a stretch. She's got four grandparents, doesn't she? The peculiar society she comes from encourages equality among the races (including interbreeding), so it isn't that strange. She retains some of the characteristics of these various races (her ears aren't as pointed as most elves, and not mobile, as most of my sister's elf ears are; she is probably older than she appears, but less so than if she was a full-blooded elf [my elves from this particular setting have very long lifespans]; she's quite strong, but proportionately less so than a full-blooded zzzyxan; and her horns are unusually big considering her low proportion of y'cag heritage, but she may have tweaked that, and as I said she's older than she looks [y'cag horns grow continuously throughout life]), but in limited measures.

She also has characteristics unusual even for what she is. (You may have noted that not one of the races listed had "six arms" or extra eyes [it's a bit subtle, as it doesn't look "normal," but there's one on her forehead] as a characteristic. She may be a fantasy character, but she's still a tetrapod, for crying out loud!) Well, this is fully explicable. The peculiar society of which she is a part has much in the way of advanced "technology," the most sophisticated of which are their surgical and related techniques. This includes extensions of the skeleton, added muscles, and other organs. It is not at all uncommon for these people to have many additional eyes, limbs, and even internal organs. (In fact, Lheabi has a specialized artificial internal organ that actually will do the "work" for this kind of thing. It's how-er, never mind, getting a bit deep in the story there. Let's just say that she probably was asking for enough modifications that the guys who were doing the work figured it'd be easier to let her have one of those so she'd leave them alone.) And of course, technically, it's how most of the other "work" Lheabi's had done was achieved.

That maid outfit? Totally a random fancy of my sister's. Just so you know. (She does that. In fact, the entire picture was a random fancy of hers that turned out particularly nicely.)

Anyway, personality is important, too. Generally speaking, Lheabi is relatively shy and quiet. (No, seriously.) She only "opens up" around her friends, most of whom originally are members of a sort of counterculture group in the society she was born into. Rebels without a cause-even hippies, you might say. What do these people do together? Um, things their society wouldn't approve of. (Actually, none of it would be considered illegal, or even particularly questionable, in the United States by most parties.) She is extremely affectionate, and doesn't generally like violence. She will, on the other hand, defend herself vigorously if she thinks she stands a chance. She's also insecure, which is part of which drove her to... um, have as much work done as she did.

But here's the thing. As much thought as I've put into the character (or into the factors that resulted in me creating her on a whim), and as much as I like her, she's not actually that important a character. Other characters' reactions to her are determined by how they react to an attractive (albeit strange-looking) woman, not this quadri-racial, six-armed, devil-horned, and slightly loopy mass of vaguely Suishness. She doesn't have a grand mission, a great destiny, or unique or special powers. And if she ever does anything totally crazy, the other characters will certainly tell her so. (Except her friend Gorce. But that's another story.)

Is she Sue? I don't think so. Some readers might. It'll be up to how well I pull off writing her (when I get around to it) that will really determine how people feel about her.

-Signing off.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Good Webcomics...

...that don't have gigantic archives to slog through.

All joking aside, while I really like Schlock Mercenary (nominated for a Hugo recently!), I'm well aware that it's a very intimidating comic to try to read from the beginning (it's starting its tenth book). Heck, it took me a couple of weeks to slog through it myself (completely worth it, but maybe it's just me), and it's been a couple of years. Even significantly shorter comics like The Law of Purple (850+ pages, by my sister) can be difficult to sift through.

So in the interest of introducing the reader to webcomics that are young and good, I'll mention a few that I've recently picked up that are still in their infancy.

Alien Revenant: Once again by my sister. What can I say? (Well, this, actually, but it's not like I can talk about it too much, is it?) While The Law of Purple has been a learning experience for her, here she hit her stride at the beginning as an artist, and she's pushing herself even further. (Backgrounds are difficult for her, but she's made some beautiful ones here.) It's also full of her quirky sense of humor. And at under forty pages, it's still young enough to get through quickly. Updates M-W-F most of the time.

Lovecraft is Missing: For the fan of Lovecraft. Creepily funny, and at least as cryptic as Lovecraft himself. It's been mostly quiet so far, but I suspect, with the current page (which should be pretty darned obvious) that things are about to get nutty for a few pages. Under fifty pages. Updates W-F.

Runners: It started as an award-winning small-press print comic, and now it's a free webcomic. If you've never heard of it, now's the time to jump on the bandwagon. It's about some smugglers in a Star Wars-like setting (and not a bunch of athletes). Artistically speaking, really sharp and finished. Less than twenty pages up, although you can buy the entire first volume, already published. Updates M-T-W-R-F.

Afterlife Blues: The creators of Afterlife Blues previously created another now-complete webcomic, A Miracle of Science, in the words of the author "435 pages of mad science, space battles, robots, and true love." (I can say of AMoS that the robots, particularly the Pindars, are awesome.) Afterlife Blues is somewhere between scifi western and a mystery story, and thus has very different foibles. The art is occasionally a bit rough in terms of figure-drawing (and frankly, the least-finished looking of the art of any of these), but the backgrounds and setting designs are good. Currently under seventy pages. Updates M-R, slightly irregularly.

(Incidentally, my use of the "greatly belated book reviews" tag is for purposes of clustering these together tagwise with my other review-type stuff. The use of the "self promotion" tag has similar reasoning behind it.)

-Signing off.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nothing For Tonight

I think I'm suffering from YouTube withdrawal. Darned non-reverse compatible Flash Player updates.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Truth In Advertising

A lot of people have complained that comic book covers show cool scenes that don't actually happen in the comic itself. In older comics, this apparently was less of a problem. Case in point: This cover...

...leads to this opening splash page...

...and this internal panel.

Oh, that we all could be so honest.

(Thanks to Mike Sterling for mentioning this offhandedly, and the blog that provided the images.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Transformers Mosaic

I talk somewhat frequently about Transformers, but I haven't mentioned that the large, active fan community has embarked on a project called Transformers Mosaic. It features fan artists and writers creating small pieces exploring characters and moments in the Transformers multiverse (warning-site currently down).

Why wait until now?

Because my sister's Mosaic, "Conquest," went up today.

Conquest by ~Transformers-Mosaic on deviantART

A few people have expressed confusion (on comments pages where it was posted) as to the time period and continuity of the piece, so I think I'll provide a bit of commentary.

Yes, that's more-or-less G1 Megatron. It's kinda mixed continuity. See, in various continuities, Megatron is a gladiator. In other (similar but unrelated) continuities, early Cybertron was ruled by the Quintessons (the tentacle thing, although most Quints don't look like that), and they had Transformers fight in gladatorial combat for their own (and here, their paying customers') amusement.

This is not set in post-Beast Machines continuity. The Mechannibal (the huge demonic thing) in the crowd is a G1 creature, and the three crowd members who resemble Beast Machines protagonists are actually just crowd fillers, used because Sis wanted something easy to draw that would amuse people and fit in a bit. (Note that the one that resembles Black Arachnia is actually wearing clothes which aren't part of the original character model.) The others are mostly just random alienish things. There is an exception, if you look closely. (The one in the middle at the bottom of the second panel.)

And Megs is "holding tentacles" with the Quint because it's the referee, and is declaring him the winner. Because he totally just killed some guys.

(And once again, I put "self-promotion" in the tags, even though this isn't mine, though I was credited as "consultant." Funny how I do that.)

-Signing off.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Greatly Belated Book Reviews: The Evolution & Extinction Of The Dinosaurs

(Incidentally, I can't use YouTube right now. I downloaded the latest Adobe Flash Player update, and apparently it isn't reverse compatible. Take heed. My little brother was really upset when he found out he couldn't play any Flash games.)

This book (best I can do for a reference is this page) is a textbook. (I suppose I should abbreviate it: E&EotD. There we go.) Thus, it's kind of a funny thing to review.

The version of it in my possession was purchased for a college class on dinosaurs. (Fun class. Only one of that prof's classes I never fell asleep in-whoops, did I type that out?) It turned out that it was not a required book for the class, but none of the notation stuff actually mentioned that-it was described as a required book. (The prof provided a CD ROM and notes based on his lectures. No books at all.) Darnit, there goes fifty bucks or so.

Anyway, it was only recently that I cracked the darned thing. And this may simply be a function of me liking dinosaurs and science, but I really enjoyed it.

Yes, this is one of the best textbooks I've ever seen. I've never picked up some of my old college textbooks again (I've considered burning a few, because they're just that evil), but this one, it turns out, is not only focused on a fascinating subject, but well-written, easy to read, and actually enjoyable.

On the subject matter itself, I should note-my edition is some twelve or thirteen years old. It's way outta date. My computer that age isn't this bad, in some respects. But the general material is mostly sound, and if you've had your head between your legs for thirty years or more over dinosaur information (or even just have learned it from Jurassic Park), this book can set you straight to understand modern discoveries in a better, more comprehensible light.

The book's focus is quite narrow-while periodically mentioning non-dinosaurs, it mostly ignores them, and certainly does not analyze their coevolution with the dinosaurs. It actually discusses birds, since technically birds are theropods, though it should be noted that bird fossils as such are bloody rare and hardly ever in good condition. (If it weren't for a large and tranquil prehistoric lake, we would have had no idea that Archaeopteryx was a bird at all.)

The book reminds the reader that all information in its pages is subject to later revision, as new discoveries of seemingly minor import can have huge implications. It points out that, out of "dinosaurs" as such, we may have discovered perhaps as much as 25% of dinosaur species-but possibly as little as 8%. Thus, we may discover two or three specimens in the next twelve years that cause us to reevaluate modern positions on dinosaur life as much as we have in the last twelve.

It also reminds the reader that everything considering dinosaurs is almost entirely speculation, something many of us forget.

Anyway, its holistic approach to discussing evolution is very helpful for a more general understanding of the subject, and it's actually inspired me to explore it in a fictional setting. (A book I may review on another occasion, The Future Is Wild, explores evolution on purely theoretical grounds. The main difference in what I'm considering is that it'd be an Earthlike but alien ecosystem. Rarely do you see such in fiction considered from a full evolutionary standpoint. So many extraterrestrial ecosystems we see might as well be dodosaur ecosystems, equipped with "evolutionary" tools because the writers felt like it.)

And the book makes no assumptions of the reader beyond "college level reader." It avoids excessive terminology where it can, and explains itself clearly when it can't, and generally is a very effective book at what it does.

More than I can say on a lot of the textbooks I've read. (And I've read a lot-I used to read them for fun back in high school. No, seriously. My high school and junior high both had these really thin science textbooks that we'd only get for a couple of weeks before switching out for new ones, and I'd read the parts I didn't have to for kicks. I can be kinda weird.)

-Signing off.

Monday, March 16, 2009


...will imprison you and rule the earth.

-Signing off.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What To Do, What To Do?

So I'm sitting here, wondering what I'll blog about, and I look through the folder of images I've prepared for this blog on my computer and suddenly noticed two I never uploaded. Huh.

These are both taken from the Robotix cartoon (mentioned in a number of posts in the past-just use the labels to find it).

The first is of the Robotix character Boltar.

Boltar is the most brutish and primitive of the good Robotix. Basically, he's a Robotix Dinobot. He even looks a little bit like one... if you squint.

And here is a shot of the terrain on... that planet Robotix takes place on. Pretty, isn't it?

Meh. I do have some ideas for next week, so hopefully it'll be a bit more coherent.

-Signing off.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Moment Of Reflection

Since I started this blog, I have dipped in and out of comic book discussion.

Rarely have I touched too deeply before I get distracted by, say, giant robots. And that's likely the way it'll stay.

Today I spent a bit of time going through the comics of the Flashback Universe and El Gorgo!. (The exclamation point is part of the title, hence the non-standard usage.) In my totally unprofessional amateur opinion, these (along with Dr. McNinja, of course) are probably the future of the "superhero" genre-webcomics that package themselves in some degree of the superhero tradition. (They're a lot of fun, and they're free if you're strapped for cash. Sounds like a good bet to me.)

Not weighed down by the complex legal issues or endlessly ponderous history of the "mainstream" comics, these comics are light and good fun, every bit as smart as their print cousins without the ugly baggage and stagnation, mostly because the writers care and it shows.

But enough about that.

Lots of people talk rather derisively about "comics of the '90s." Nearly my entire experience with these comics as such, their height, so to speak, comes from two or three comics that I got for Christmas one year. (An issue of Supreme, which was hilarious. This alongside the Silver Surfer graphic novel, some totally incomprehensible thing I barely remember which was also from the '90s, and... something I've totally forgotten at this point.)

These comics have a penchant for, among other things, particularly exaggerated anatomy, excessively large firearms, shoulder pads, pouches, drool, and other things that a lot of comic book readers hate. (They also like to use terminology like "extreme," although they usually spell it "X-treme" to tell you just how extreme it really is, which is something else a lot of comic book readers hate. If you use "X-treme" somewhere and you're not being tongue in cheek, I think you're doing it wrong.) Ironically, the cartoons of the same time period tended not to share in the same visual language very much (granted, the X-Men cartoon had Bishop, Cable, and the '90s lineup and costumes, but it was kind of required to because it was meant to attract readers to the curent comics-its storylines were all based on much older stuff).

Here, then, is the '90s comic-iest of all '90s cartoons, which even has that one guy who seems to show up in every '90s comic who has his hair sticking out of a no-skin costume and a quarterstaff/bo weapon.


-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cartoon Profiles: Sgt. Savage And The Screaming Eagles

I've talked (rather ponderously) in the past about GIJoe and its history. In passing, I've mentioned one of the various abortive attempts to rebuild the line from the '90s, Sgt. Savage and The Screaming Eagles.

I recently watched the Sgt. Savage cartoon, which can be found, as with so many things, in its entirety on YouTube. Let's take a look at a few (laboriously added, thanks to Blogger's horrible image stuff and HTML tools) screenshots, which will be accompanied by carefully considered commentary, AKA making fun of it.

Um, yes. This is, technically, a screen from the cartoon; you see, there's only one episode, and this is the commercial at the beginning of it. And it is of course ultimately an advertisement itself.

Let's start from the actual beginning, then.

Sergeant Robert Stephen Savage, "Savage" for short, is a famous and well-decorated soldier in the European theater of WWII.

That's right, he personally received a medal from freakin' FDR.

Anyway, he mysteriously disappears, and then it cuts to the present. We see some guys from GIJoe (including General Hawk and an extremely off-model Lady Jaye).

And with pretty much no explanation whatsoever, they see a mysterious figure breaking into someplace where they're all chilling.

Ooooh, a robot! How mysterious!

Lady Jaye takes off its head with basically no effort at all, but this barely slows it down, because, well, robot. It's strangling Hawk when...

...somebody it was trying to kill rips it in half by punching clean through it with both hands and then simply moving his hands apart.

Who is this towering...

...and apparently barely clothed figure?

It's Sergeant Robert Stephen Savage, reporting for duty, sir, that's who!

It turns out that, for nebulous (and poorly considered) reasons, Savage was captured towards the end of the war, and was subjected to much evil Nazi science. So much so...

...that his eyes glow with the evil energy, and he has occasional bursts of insane strength.

Which are often followed by embarrassment.

Within literally thirty seconds of being resuscitated and informed that it's fifty freakin' years later (the year was 1995, for reference), he sees a face which horribly upsets him. The face of some stinkin' traitor.

The face of...


According to Savage, the face of this man, Dr. Garrett Stromm, is also the face of a man who betrayed Savage's unit to the Nazis, leading to their ambush, most of their deaths, and Savage's capture.

Of course, because those stinking Nazis couldn't have defeated them even in a treacherous ambush, especially thanks to Savage's moar dakka quotient (he carries a freaking gatling cannon, for crying out loud!), they are subject to an ambush by Nazi superweapons!

Holy-! Is that Iron Man's Mark I armor? Seriously?

Anyway, in a series of flashbacks and dreams, we see these iron suits and the evil Krieger defeat Savage's unit and overwhelm them. And because this is fiction, of course Krieger took down Savage personally...

...with his bare-er, hands?

Um, Krieger was a cyborg? Really?

Oh, snap. You don't see it here, but he was wearing a glove over a hand that was a reasonable replica of a human hand, which retracted so this could extend.

Um, are we sure we're dealing with technology here?

I'm gonna file that as a "probably not really."

But anyway, that doesn't mean that Dr. Stromm is Krieger, anyway. He could be a distant relative, or a lookalike, right? He's probably not evil...

Just because he's got fascist tastes in clothing-wait a minute, who is that he has on the phone?

Ah. Never mind.

So, with Stromm being established as some evil and long-lived dude, let's talk some more about Savage himself.

Something I should mention about this cartoon-everyone is freaking huge. Aside from Savage's gigantic meaty paw here, Savage is average-sized. Hawk, to be true, is a little bit smaller, but when Savage is presented to a batch of smart but unruly screwups (their unruliness is represented by very mild disrespect, and the fact that they just won't stop playing basketball-ooooooh), most of them are his size, and there's one guy who's at least twice as big as he is.

Of course, he totally trashes all of them, playing as a team, against them in a weird variant of basketball...

...which happens to involve punching and tackling.

And then...

...he gets rough on the ball. Yeah, I'm gonna say they probably don't know the rules.

It's really quite funny, by the way, knowing how WWII soldiers talked, to hear Savage talk. (If you don't know, the terms "SNAFU" and "FUBAR" originated in the battlefields of WWII, and the "F"s don't stand for fudge.)

Anyway, so Savage knows, he knows, darnit, that Stromm is Krieger, and he demands to be involved in the security on the space launch thingy that he doesn't understand and which Stromm is in charge of. But Hawk says no, GIJoe is in charge of security there and they'll take care of it, and that's that.

Or maybe not.

He has his really big soldier, the tech expert, pick through the severed head of the robot that attacked him. Wait, wait, wait-nobody did that yet?! What the heck?

Okay, that aside, they find out that the satellite's plans are for some reason in the robot's head (WHAT) and that it's meant to do something evil instead of what it's supposed to do, and it was, guess what, made by Stromm. (Why would Stromm be crazy enough to leave that much information in some stupid attack robot's head? The world may never know...)

Anyway, so of course, Savage and the Screaming Eagles (which is the operating name of his new unit, just like the old one) take off to stop the launch, rather than making a call or something.

And they do it in the craziest way possible.

That is one fast P-51 Mustang.

Anyway, they successfully stop the launch, despite an army of those Iron Man Mark I suits and Krieger, who actually, aside from his tentacles and pinchers, can now transform into an Iron Man Mark V or so, and is able to fly and stuff.

And then, if this was real life, they would all have been court-martialed, and at best would have spent the rest of their natural lives paying for it.

As it is, of course, they get rewarded.

This cartoon may take the title of "worst GIJoe cartoon ever." Then again, the idea of cyborg supersoldier (and possibly occult) Nazis fighting guys on souped up WWII fighting vehicles actually sounds like a great idea, and it almost carries it anyway. (The award for high concept in a GIJoe cartoon still has to go to the DiC episode where Spanish conquistador ghosts possessed Overkill and the BATs and allied with Cobra Commander to capture the city of El Dorado, but maybe that's just me.)

-Signing off.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Super Robot Profiles: Daitetsujin 17

Daitetsujin 17 (pronounced "one seven," or perhaps more properly, "one sevuuuuun," in case you've never been told how the Japanese pronounce Arabic numerals) is something I've rarely discussed-a live-action super robot.

Not related in any way to Tetsujin 28. Really. All they have in common is blueness and super-robotness.

Anyway, Daitetsujin 17 was dubbed as "Brain 17." How you translate "giant iron being" into "brain," I don't know, but somehow they did it.

I suppose they might have done it because the robot is occasionally controlled through the helmet the kid wears, but whatever.

The reason I like what little I've seen of Daitetsujin 17 is because it has such a distinct visual style from other tokusatsu (live action with special effects from Japan-i.e. like Godzilla movies with a bit lower budget) programs I've seen. (There used to be a music video with a nice remix of its theme and the coolest footage from the series, but it apparently doesn't exist anymore. Ah, well.) It's also kind of scary to watch DTJ 17 take out that steamroller robot-I have no idea what he was doing to him, but it looked like it hurt.

-Signing off.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Just A Quick One

Reminds me of the jokes about all of the out-of-work little people who get excited when there's word of a Star Wars movie coming out.

-Signing off.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

East Vs. West: Visual Style

Lots of people "debate" the relative virtues and aspects of Japanese versus American styles of animation and comics.

A lot of people are going to take some offense at what I'll say, but ah well: The "differences" between styles being represented as a cultural difference between two cultures is an artificial distinction invented by foolish people who have enough credentials to be taken seriously, and perpetuated primarily by those who don't know any better.

Cultures are unique to a given region or country only until that region or country has exchanges of information with some other region or country. As soon as that happens, these "unique" features start to diffuse, and will eventually find their way to any region or country that has exchanges with either.

Sooner or later, there will not be true distinctions whatsoever. But it should be noted that the anime/manga "styles" are drawn, at their root, from early Western animation, which itself was heavily influenced by the styles of numerous Western comic strips in its inception, and which itself has since been significantly influenced by Western comic books, which were influenced by pulp fiction and are probably its most obvious literary descendant, and which themselves have come to be influenced by and to influence anime and manga.

Things such as the anime stock footage attack, generally considered an anime trope, are time-fillers and money-savers equivalent to the Filmation stock footage (if you've ever seen three or four Filmation cartoon episodes animated in the same time period, you know what I'm talking about), and are merely a different solution to the same real-world problem. The difference is that the anime stock footage attack is actually visually interesting, especially to youngsters, and so it became much more heavily used, and retained to push up the effective budget of what would otherwise be a cheaply animated piece of schlock. (It instead gets to be a more nicely animated piece of schlock.) For that matter, Filmation, whether independently or by exchange, also picked up the stock transformation idea so common in anime, and used it for the same purposes.

Hmph. Ran out of steam. This isn't worth that much of my time.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


...rocketed down into the earth.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

East Vs. West: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If, like me, you grew up in the late '80s and early '90s, chances are you recognize these guys.

If you do remember them (who could forget, really?-I once knew a girl who could sing the entire theme song word for word at the same pace as the intro who was a senior in high school [I was a year younger]), and remember them fondly, but haven't looked around too intensively on the internet for them... Well, brace yourself for a bit of a shock.

Hoom hoom hoom! SUPAH TURTLES!

The scary thing is, I remember seing commercials for toys of these guys...

...although obviously those ads weren't in Japanese.

Anyway, I'll just briefly point out that sudden mutations were not quite original to this. They first appeared...

...in the series intro...

...as we can see here.

It wasn't even the only time we see the Turtles more or less magically change back and forth from normal to bigger and stronger forms...

...but it is the first time the Ninja Turtles ever had noses. Also...

..."Saint Turtle?" What?! (Not that the design is bad... I actually really like those wings...)

And here is Dark Mu, the semi-obligatory anime babe with black wings and great legs. Who is so evil that she snuffs out stars by waking up. I kid you not.

I think we can just chalk this one up to the fact that Japan is hilarious and call it a day.

-Signing off.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Professor X: Master of Psychoanalysis

I was looking at the Professor X page on Wikipedia as I prepared to write this, and noticed the information on his "dark side." Let me tell you what, his "nice side" isn't always so pleasant either. (The clip I want you to look at is from about 1:11 to 2:22.)

So what we have here is the good Professor probing someone's mind without consent. Never mind that it's the royally screwed up Sabretooth whose mind he's probing. Never mind that he intends to help.
This is distinctly unethical. Against Sabretooth's will, he is entering his mind and trying to find things that Sabretooth has sealed away. (Also, never mind that it turned out Sabretooth was actually working for Magneto and was intended to take the place over.) The ethics of characters with telepathy in fiction have nearly always been kinda... unpleasant, and this was in a kid's cartoon.

And then, later in the same episode, he chases away Magneto, formerly his friend, by making him think of bad, painful thoughts. Freezing a bunch of people in their tracks is one thing. Making them relive their nightmares is another. (Of course, it was self defense-Magneto was intending to crush him to death. But that's not the point-this kind of act is often called mindrape or worse for good reason.)

And then there was the time in Secret Wars where he wiped Spider-Man's mind to keep him from relating that the X-Men were about to betray the Avengers faction and join Magneto. He commented later that "I may have overstepped my boundaries." Gee, really?

-Signing off.