Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

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Friday, 30 September 2016

2000AD's Landmark Issue Two Thousand!!!


Venerable British anthology sci-fi sci-fi comic 2000AD published its 2,000th issue this week.

I can still remember reading the first issue, in 1977, in the back seat of my parents' car and so, even though I haven't been a particularly loyal follower for a very long time, I couldn't really miss out on this landmark issue.

Issue 2,000 came out on Wednesday, but I couldn't make it to the shops that day as I was puppy-sitting.

However, when I went out on Thursday every newsagent in Tonbridge that I visited had been picked clean of its copies (I suspect by scalpers looking to flip them on the secondary market).

So, I turned to eBay, found the copy for sale with the lowest mark-up and hit "buy it now". And kudos to the seller, not just for their friendly communications, but for getting the copy to my door this morning.

The issue is a veritable "greatest hits", leading off with a Judge Dredd/Strontium Dog team-up, some Nemesis The Warlock (one of my all-time favourite strips from 2000AD of old), Rogue Trooper, Judge Anderson, Sinister Dexter, and, finally, a new strip, Counterfeit Girl.

All this is interwoven with linking panels featuring the comic's fictional editor, Tharg, celebrating 2000AD's long, unbroken, run with cameos from many, many familiar faces that have appeared in the title over the last four decades.

You have to admire the fact that for 2,000 issues they've stuck with the idea of a fictional alien editor, who bandied around his own (made-up) phrases (such as "zarjaz" and "Squaxx dek Thargo"), that never caught on, never became part of the public psyche as I suspect they hoped.

It was a ridiculous conceit when it was introduced, even as a kid I found it kind of cringe-worthy, and I'm still not sold on the idea almost 40 years later.

But the team behind the title stood by Tharg (and his silly "alien" phrases) because they believed in what they were doing, had confidence in their product.

A less committed team would have ditched him after a few years as part of some marketing-driven corporate make-over, but - for better for worse - Tharg is as much a part of 2000AD's DNA as Judge Dredd.

Sure, the production values may have improved, and the stories have changed (although Dredd has been a weekly fixture since issue two), but the essence, the framework, of 2000AD remains the same as it did in 1977.

Think about that for a moment. Two thousand issues, straight form issue one to issue two thousand. No reboots, no renumbering. Sure it's a weekly title, rather than a monthly like mainstream American comics, but that's not really the point. 2000AD has never seen its high issue numbers as a barrier to entry, but rather a selling point, a sign of longevity.

Look at Marvel these days and they can barely get a comic run (with a few exceptions) into double digits without getting cold feet and relaunching it with a fresh issue one.

Even DC - which has finally gone back to its classic numbering for Detective Comics and Action Comics - has yet to prove that its Rebirth initiative, which has seen the welcome return of a lot of old school ideas and attitude, will be any better when it comes to numbering.

Luke Cage: Code Of The Streets


There I was talking about surprises to come in Luke Cage and the very next episode, Code Of The Streets sucker punched me with a shocking plot twist I did not see coming.

The primary focus of this episode was Luke and Pop's engineering a parlay between Cottonmouth and the last surviving member of the crew that stole his money during the arms deal (in Moment Of Truth).

There's a lot of well scripted ruminations, from players on both sides, about motivations and history, but ultimately this episode appears to have delivered the inciting incident that will finally see Luke step up and adopt - albeit reluctantly - the mantle of hero.

Crooked wheeler-dealer Turk (Rob Morgan), from Daredevil, has a small role to play in the proceedings of Code Of The Streets, having some dealing with Cottonmouth, but by the end of the episode decides that Hell's Kitchen is safer for him than Harlem.

We also learn about more about Misty Knight... and Luke discovers what her day job is.

When the idea of a Luke Cage series on Netflix was first mooted, my dream casting for the lead role was Terry Crews (of Bridesmaid and Brooklyn Nine-Nine), but now I can't picture anyone but Mike Colter as Luke. He totally owns the role.

Arrow Fights For His City And His Legacy...

Luke Cage: Moment Of Truth


After the events of Jessica Jones, and still mourning his late wife, Luke Cage has relocated to Harlem.

He's working two jobs: one sweeping the floor at Pop's, a barber shop run by a fellow ex-con (Banshee's Frankie Faison), and the other in the kitchen of a club run by violent gangster Cornell 'Cottonmouth' Stokes (Alphas' Mahershala Ali).

Trying to keep his head down, Luke just wants to be left alone, but he can't avoid being drawn into the fight for the soul of the neighbourhood, when kids he knows from Pop's get tangled up in a bloody attempt to rip off one of Stokes' arms deals.

We also get to meet Misty Knight (Simone Missick), who hooks up with Luke when he works the bar at Cornell's club one night, but - as yet - Luke doesn't know she's a police officer.

From this opening episode, it's clear that once again Netflix and Marvel have a hit on their hands.

Moment Of Truth
is peppered with Easter Eggs, from nods to Luke's comic book roots (for instance, Pop calls him 'Power Man' at one point) to allusions to the Avengers and the Battle Of New York (aka The Incident), with the street vendor flogging pirate DVDs of footage of the costumed heroes in action.


There's a definite The Wire vibe to the styling of Luke Cage, with its seemingly intricate criminal machinations, including Cornell's cousin, corrupt local councilwoman Mariah Stokes (Alfre Woodard), and a mysterious high-ranking gangster known only as Diamondback, whose representative Shades Alvarez (Theo Rossi) was in prison at the same time as Luke.

I was pleased to note that a lot of the more memorable scenes from the trailers for Luke Cage cropped up in this opening episode, meaning there'll be plenty of surprises down the line.

Torn From The Headlines: Coulrophobia II...


With clown hysteria being en vogue at the moment, some context can be gained from this recent Atlas Obscura article about similar scares at the end of last century.

With Rob Zombie's 31 and the new take on Stephen King's classic It on horror fans' radars, it looks as though our fear of clowns isn't going away anytime soon.

So to feed that fear, check out this infographic over on Dread Central that features "A Look at Some of TV and Film’s Scariest Clowns".

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Animated Adventures Of Indiana Jones...

Famous archaeologist Dr Indiana Jones is on a quest of a lifetime, but this time he is fully animated in this passion project by life long fan and artist Patrick Schoenmaker. Over the course of five years, he has crafted the opening sequence of what would be the TV series to make all other TV shows redundant: The Adventures of Indiana Jones!
Come on, Disney, give Patrick Schoenmaker a job - and the money - to make this cartoon!

Throwback Thursday: ABBA


At what age do we start developing our own tastes in music?

The earliest band I remember being obsessed with was ABBA. I was reminded of this by an ABBA documentary I caught the other night on the Sky Arts channel.

After they won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 (when I was seven), ABBA were everywhere. As well as their music, I got my hands on issues of the ABBA fan club magazine, a digest-sized publication that I guess was available in news agents, as well as an ABBA colouring book, posters etc

Agnetha became one of my earliest crushes, although as I grew older my loyalties shifted to Frida, but these days my tastes have swung back towards Agnetha again.

Agnetha Faltskog

I have to wonder if part of my youthful passion for ABBA was a subconscious rebellion against my parents' tastes, as they loved their rock'n'roll; mum was a massive Elvis fan, for instance.

I didn't truly grok their music until I was teenager and my tastes had broadened to include The Stranglers, Devo, The Very Things, The Clash, Tangerine Dream, Velvet Underground, and a diverse host of bands whose names now elude me.

My favourite ABBA tune? Eagle.

Supergirl And Superman Team-Up...


Seriously, Supergirl can't come back soon enough!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Luke Cage's Harlem...

Torn from The Headlines: Venus...


Elon Musk seems to have the colonisation of Mars all sussed out, but scientists are also looking at the challenges of terraforming Venus for eventual human habitation.

Check out this article on Futurism for an overview of some ideas, that could also inspire gaming ideas.

Heed The Ancient One: Not Everything Has To Make Sense, Doctor Strange...

Retro Comic Book Cover Gallery...

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tila Tequila

September's Picture Parade...

Monday, 26 September 2016

Torn From The Headlines: Coulrophobia...

Twisty from American Horror Story: Freak Show

With all the crazy shit happening in the world at the moment it's no surprise that the line between urban myth and reality is becoming increasingly blurred, especially in the United States.

This year has seen a sudden surge is the number of reported creepy clown sightings, which may - or may not - be simply “a kind of low-level hysteria, like Slender Man,” (to quote Stephen King on these events).

But, whatever the cause, the general sense of coulrophobia appears to be escalating (no doubt feeding upon itself), making it perfect fodder for gamesmasters looking to inject a degree of clown-shaped horror into their contemporary gaming scenarios.

Musical Monday: Wannabe (FEMM)

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Are Two Flashes Better Than One?

Intermission...


The Olympics are done and dusted, the Villains & Vigilantes 3.0: Mighty Protectors Kickstarter has finished (30 articles in 30 days!), season two of Mr Robot is in the bag, season 11 of Supernatural is all reviewed, and my 50th is looming ever closer.

So I'm thinking of easing up on the HeroPress accelerator for a bit, just to get my breath back, see what happens next with The Mighty Protectors, wrap up the Tuesday Knights' three-year Heroes & Other Worlds campaign, do some more bits and bobs for our next campaign (Knight City), read comics, catch up on a backlog of DVDs, tidy up the gamesroom etc

Dating App Disaster...

Dating in Japan gone horribly wrong! A translator app gone awry drives a wedge of misunderstanding between three would-be couples.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Bill Willingham's First Deadly Duo For Patreon Supporters...

King Rat

Bill Willingham's Patreon campaign is gathering momentum with the author and comic book legend producing the first of his promised villains for use with supers' RPGs (but particularly the new iteration of Villains & Vigilantes).

We've seen black and white sketches of all the members of the mercenary group known as The Vermin, but this week Bill gave us gorgeous colour illustrations for King Rat and Bedbug, along with plain text descriptions of their powers, backstory etc

Gaming statistics will come for these characters, and the other members of The Vermin, once Villains & Vigilantes 3.0: The Mighty Protectors is released later this year.

Although your mileage may vary, for me, the chance to get new Bill Willingham characters for Villains & Vigilantes - and eventually new adventures, plot hooks etc - is worth the price of admission to his Patreon campaign alone.

Bedbug

Shangi-Chi (2021) + Venom 2 (2021) + Eternals (2021) + The Batman (2022)


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