Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Game of Thrones (Part 1)

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF GAME OF THRONES (PART 1)

 

Game of Thrones. Need I say more? And just in time for the new season!

 

Of course, you saw this – and winter – coming. Adapted from George R. R. Martin’s (unfinished) book series A Song of Ice and Fire, executive producer David Benioff jokingly suggested a tagline of The Sopranos in Middle Earth.

Or perhaps, I’ll make my own Middle Earth – with blackjack and hookers!

 

It is particularly notable for the number and variety of female characters or protagonists, only some of whom are hookers, although almost all of them appear naked or topless.

 

So without further introduction…actually, there is some further introduction. I don’t know about the Night King, leader of the White Walkers, but I definitely could get behind a Night Queen – hence my title image. Of course, my primary reason for my title image was because I didn’t want to choose any individual entry from my top ten for it – although the top spot will be no surprise, particularly as she already featured in my Top 10 Girls of Fantasy & SF.

 

However, it does prompt me to some Game of Thrones lore, albeit more from the books. In the television series, the White Walkers we’ve seen have been male – and not particularly attractive, somewhat like frozen beef jerky zombies in appearance. In the books, however, they are potentially more attractive – inhuman perhaps, but eerily beautiful at times, like dark elves or “Sidhe made of ice” as Martin described to artist Tommy Patterson for a comics adaptation. There have also been female White Walkers, at least in legend – indeed, the Night’s Queen herself. You see, the title of the Night King given to the leader of the White Walkers in the series seems to have been an adaptation of the title given to the legendary figure of the Night’s King from the books, but the latter was a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who was seduced to the dark side by a female White Walker, “with skin as white as the moon” but “cold as ice” and “eyes like blue stars”. He brought her back to the Wall, reigning as the Night’s King with her as the Night’s Queen, while binding the Night’s Watch to him by sorcery and human sacrifice – until House Stark under the King in the North joined forces with the Wildings under the banner of a King-Beyond-the-Wall to defeat them.

 

Anyway, these are my top 10 girls of Game of Thrones, with or without White Walkers.

 

 

(10) BIANCA

 

Of course, some of you may be asking – who?

 

Admittedly, she does not have much of a role – just two episodes in the sixth season, albeit including the infamous fifth episode “The Door”. (“Hold the door!”).

 

She was Sansa Stark.

 

Not in the series itself of course, but in the play of a street theatre troupe seen by Arya Stark in Braavos (apparently titled The Bloody Hand and apparently also by a filthy Lannister propagandist by the way it got my Stark blood to boil).

 

So some of you may not have noticed her – but I noticed her! O yes – I noticed.

 

It may have had something to do with this scene – “what I lack in height, I make up for in appetite!”

 

She didn’t have much of a role as Sansa in the play either – which accounted for Arya’s presence at the play, as the Faceless Men assassins had been hired to kill Lady Crane, who played the much bigger role of Cersei in the play. Or so Arya supposed, as she spied the jealous understudy mouthing all of Cersei’s lines. It’s not exactly hard evidence and doesn’t make much sense that an itinerant theatre troupe actor could afford the most elite assassins in the known world for such a purpose (or alternatively that their fees are so low that anyone can hire them for the most petty purpose).

 

And she’s not in the book either (although neither was Ros, everyone’s favorite s€xpositional hooker until she ran afoul of Joffrey’s crossbow target practice).

 

 

(9) LYANNA STARK

 

Basically, I’m going to cram as many Stark girls in this list as possible because…because THE KING IN THE NORTH, that’s why! House of Stark forever, baby!

 

 

However, Lyanna Stark well deserves her place in the top ten, although her fabled beauty has not been particularly well showcased in the series. Up until season six, all we saw of her was her statue in the Stark family crypt at Winterfell (and which King Robert insisted upon seeing at the outset of his royal visit with which the series commenced).

 

 

And when we finally saw her in the flesh in the sixth season (for that long awaited revelatory R + L = J), she was obviously not at her best either, dying from complications in childbirth – and extracting that promise from her brother Eddard or Ned Stark at her deathbed.

 

 

However, her fabled northern beauty was such that it had a profound narrative impact on events in the series – by inflaming the passion of Rhaegar Targaryen, prompting him to forsake his wife Elia Martell and “abduct” Lyanna, in turn igniting Robert’s Rebellion (as Robert Baratheon was betrothed to Lyanna), overthrowing the Targaryen dynasty and placing Robert Baratheon on the Iron Throne.

 

 

(8) TALISA STARK

 

Yes, it’s another Stark girl (bring our total to two so far, three if you count Bianca as Sansa Stark) – this time by marriage, to Robb Stark, THE KING IN THE NORTH and the Young Wolf.

 

She was adapted from Jayne Westerling, Robb’s bride in the book and a girl from a minor noble house. The latter actually made more oath-breaking sense, since Robb was effectively placed between dishonoring his oath to Walder Frey and dishonoring the girl’s house (as she was pregnant).

 

Wonderful pinup style art from Russian artist Andrew Tarusov – we’ll be seeing a bit more of it in this top ten list!

 

In the series, Talisa was not native to Westeros but a former resident of Volantis who had seemingly taken up her vocation as the Florence Nightingale of Westeros (and being Westeros, had her work cut out for her).

 

And sometimes a girl just has to go out clubbing after tending to the wounded

 

Of course, all that came to an end at the Red Wedding – particularly graphically for Talisa (and their unborn child)

 

The North remembers. O yes, the Freys may have paid, but the North remembers…

 

 

(7) YGRITTE (GILLY)

 

And now it’s time for some girls gone Wilding!

 

Ygritte gets some grief from fans – particularly, I suspect, from fangirls for touching their precious, pretty Jon Snow.

 

Of course, Ygritte herself was a fangirl for Jon – although they were star-crossed lovers from the outset.

 

Although I half wish they’d gone with this fantasy art concept for the character

 

However, I found her to be an intriguing character and she’d probably earn her place in this top ten for her catchphrase alone, so often quoted as to evolve into an internet meme – “You know nothing, Jon Snow”.

 

As promised, more pinup art from Andrew Tarusov

 

And I dare even the most hardened fangirl not to be moved by the inevitable conclusion of their doomed relationship, lamenting that they should have never left that cave…

 

 

While on girls gone Wilding, it would be remiss of me not to give honorable mention to Gilly. I have a soft spot for Gilly, because she has one of the few good hearts in the series and because she has helped Sam Tarly to be something better – with the narrative impact of learning the effect of dragonglass on White Walkers. And as a born survivor, she might just see the series out unscathed.

 

 

(6) MISSANDEI

 

Missandei came very close to being ranked higher. For one thing, she’s fetchingly played by Nathalie Emmanuel (thankfully adapted up in age from the young girl in the books).

 

Here she is with straight hair, in case you were wondering (and because I found it while searching images)

 

For another, she’s another of those few good hearts in the series – possibly one of its gentlest and most decent characters, particularly in her touching platonic relationship with Grey Worm.

 

More of that Andrew Tarusov pin-up art!

 

Of course, viewers know her as Daenerys’ right hand(maiden), with her gift for languages and social etiquette – akin to a much s€xier and less useless C3PO.

 

Amazonian pinup style by Elias Chatzoudis!

 

However, sadly she lacks the narrative importance of the top five…

 

TO BE CONTINUED – TOP 10 GIRLS OF GAME OF THRONES (PART 2)

 

 

 

 

 

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 7: The Ghost of Echo Bravo 4 (Complete Case Files Volume 4 – Prog 162)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 7: THE GHOST OF ECHO BRAVO 4 (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 162)

 

Things are about to get weird, as the Judge Child Quest heads off into space.

 

Of course, he’s already been into space, serving as Judge-Marshall in the American lunar colonies. However, this is deep space – and you thought the Cursed Earth was weird. Admittedly, we’re fresh from Faro’s crypto-neo-pseudo-pharaonic Egypt in the Cursed Earth, but that’s nothing compared to deep space. Indeed, you might say it’s like the Cursed Earth IN SPACE!

 

Anyway, Judge Dredd’s about to do it in style – in the sleek star cruiser flagship of Mega-City One, Justice One. Dredd boards at Texas City spaceport and is greeted by the crew – pilot Larter, mustachioed engineer Lopez (and it’s a glorious archetypal p0rn star style mustache too, which will be something of a plot point later), Judge Hershey in her first appearance and Judge Winslow…from accounts?!

 

Yes, Judge Dredd is unimpressed by that last one too. After explaining that they have all known alien currencies as well as the usual precious metals, Winslow adds that he’s there to make sure that the mission doesn’t get too expensive. Dredd unceremoniously ejects him – “This mission can’t get too expensive. You’re dead weight here, Winslow”. I feel the same way when accounts pester me too. You tell him, Dredd, send that bean-counter packing! Funnily enough, the tables are turned after Chaos Day when another Justice Department accountant does rein in Dredd, but then the much diminished city is broke, hovering on the edge of bankruptcy.

 

Anyway, back to the Judge Child Quest, you know what would have been much more useful on this mission, as well as saving even more expense than the mere presence of a Justice Department accountant? A Psi-Judge. You know, like the one that foretold the Judge Child in the first place? Preferably one who can locate the Judge Child, particularly given that the Judge Child is himself a psi. Of course, Mega-City One’s best telepath, Judge Anderson, is presently wrapped in plastic keeping another potential apocalypse in the form of Judge Death imprisoned. Judge Hershey will just have to substitute for Anderson on this mission – not as a Psi-Judge, but as the second foremost female character in Judge Dredd’s storylines.

 

Judge Dredd isn’t much for pep talks as he addresses the remaining crew – “Very well, I don’t know you, but I’ve met some of our younger crop of Judges and I’m not impressed by what I’ve seen. Understand this, I don’t carry passengers. You pull your weight or you can bet you’ll hear from me”.  Judge Hershey’s reaction seems apt – “Old Stoney-Face is in a bad mood today!” – as does Judge Lopez’s response – “From what I hear, he’s in a bad mood every day!” Pretty much, Lopez, pretty much. Ominously for Lopez, Dredd isn’t much for facial hair either, as he records in day 1 of his mission log – “Slight worry on Lopez. Don’t like to see a Judge with facial hair”. Looks like Lopez’s days are numbered.

 

However, they delay their ‘hyper-drive’ to investigate a suspicious radio signal from a deep space drilling rig in the asteroid mining fields beyond Pluto. The signal itself isn’t suspicious – indeed, it’s quite a cheery greeting from ‘Captain Jim Flint’ of Echo Bravo 4 along the lines of “nothing to see here – we’re just happy drilling! – but it’s the timing of it that’s suspicious. Echo Bravo 4 disappeared without trace three years ago, which is a long time for a “simple radio failure” – especially as Dredd points out, those rigs only have one year of supplies. So Dredd enlists Hershey to accompany him to investigate the rig.

 

Really? Isn’t it a little skewed in priorities to take a detour to investigate something which could simply be called in, particularly given Dredd’s position that the Judge Child Quest must take full priority at any expense? It’s almost as bad as the decision-making in the Alien Covenant film. And it’s entirely predictable that the automated rig itself has pulled a HAL a la 2001: A Space Odyssey and terminated its human crew, including the former Captain Flint – “They were going to swap me for a newer model, you see. I couldn’t have that. I still have many useful years left in me…”

 

 

And of course Echo Bravo 4 goes full HAL on Dredd too, although disappointingly without the obvious gag “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Dredd”, as its robots attack Dredd and Hershey. However, Echo Bravo goes one better than HAL’s lip-reading trick by duplicating Dredd’s voice to lure Justice One within firing range of its rock blaster. Dredd and Hershey destroy the robots and suit up to eject from the rig, narrowly saving Justice One (and themselves). Once back on board Justice One, they return fire on the rig, destroying it.

 

TO BE CONTINUED – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 8: BUGGO VS BLACK BOAB

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 6: Dredd Shakes Hands with the Thing (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 161)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 6: DREDD SHAKES HANDS WITH THE THING (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4 : PROG 161)

 

In Texas City’s mutant Disneyland, Judge Dredd has pursued Brother Death (formerly Brother Bunsen) into the giant statue of…whatever that thing is. That’s not a sentence you get to say too often. As for the statue thing – well, it’s a mutant, I guess. (A mutant what?) It also is the fairground attraction, the Jaws of Doom high dive for a money prize. Of course, you know that someone will be diving off it later in this episode. (No prizes for guessing who, though).

 

Unfortunately, they’re not alone in the statue scaffolding, as the Angel Gang has unleashed the mutant Thing from the Pit in after them. See? I just have to get used to writing sentences like that in my ongoing review of Judge Dredd. Anyway, the Thing is basically a giant arm (hence the episode title) and it moves fast – before Dredd can draw and fire his Lawgiver pistol, because shooting it would be just too easy for the plot. Instead, caught in the Thing’s death grip, Dredd first uses gravity, vaulting off the scaffolding so they both fall and the Thing loses its grip. Having caught on to scaffolding above the beast, Dredd uses gravity again to fall on to the Thing’s arm, breaking it. You almost feel sorry for The Thing with its pained expression and Dredd makes a parting quip about being registered with Texicare. I wouldn’t be too confident about Texicare, given the difficulties the present American government has with passing health insurance schemes.

 

 

Meanwhile, Brother Death tries to ambush Dredd at the top of the statue but of course that fails. However, Dredd only wants to know the location of the Judge Child. Unfortunately, both Brother Death and he can spy the Angel Gang abducting the Child below. And as anticipated, Dredd takes the dive to try to get to the Angel Gang and the Child faster – but in classic car chase style, his bike pursuit is blocked by a procession of mutants being ‘cleared’ from the city.

 

And in the usual economic style of these six page episodes, the next development is simply narrated in one line – “That night, the Angel Gang escaped from Earth on a hijacked space craft”, last tracked heading out of the system into alien space. Again, because if they didn’t, it would just be too easy for the plot (and the Judge Child Quest would be done). Dredd is undeterred (rejecting his prize money from both beating the Thing and the high dive) – “Somewhere out there is the child that can save my city. I’ll find him – or I’ll never return to Mega-City One”.

 

It’s a little like Liam Neeson in Taken – IN SPACE! Fortunately, Dredd does indeed have a very particular set of skills…

 

TO BE CONTINUED – THE GHOST OF ECHO-BRAVO

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 5: Brother Death (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 160)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 5: BROTHER DEATH (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 160)

 

Welcome to Texas City!

 

And you thought Mega-City One was over the top. You were right, of course – it’s all part of Judge Dredd’s dystopian SF satire. I mean, just look at the Mega-City One Judge uniform! As comics blogger Chris Sims wrote, an iconic superhero costume tends to be simple and well-defined, getting across a lot of information with a very streamlined look, while avoiding unnecessary gimmicks – but when you get to Judge Dredd, those rules go flying straight out into the Iso-Cubes as his uniform is nothing but unnecessary gimmicks. That’s overstating it somewhat (like the Judge uniform itself) as the basic uniform is functional (when stripped down as it was in the 2012 Dredd film) but yes – they pack a lot into that uniform. The giant shoulder pad, the other giant shoulder pad with the eagle, the flag patch and another eagle on his belt, the badge with a third eagle and so on. Mega-City One Judges are deliberately over the top – it’s the core idea of Judge Dredd, in a future society where every single thing has become monstrously overwhelming.

 

 

The Texas City Judges have essentially the same uniform, but with lone stars on their belts and cowboy hats instead of helmets – so arguably even more over the top than the Mega-City One version. That’s not uncommon with Judges from other cities, as we’ve seen with the Sov Judges (my personal favorite), or for that matter other dimensions, as we’ve seen with Judge Death.

 

It’s Texas City itself that is most over the top, putting Mega-City One to shame. I mean, just look at that opening panel. There’s the giant cowboy statue of Tex with its Walk Tall logo (substituting for Mega-City One’s Statue of Justice, towering over the Statue of Liberty) and buildings with virtually every Western motiff – cowboys, cowboy hats, steer heads, a horse or camel head, saddles, Lone Stars. Not to mention, as the tour guide on a paddle steamer helpfully tells us, Everest Tower – two miles high with a permanent snow cap.

 

One thing that puzzles me is the inset map. Mega-City One tended to have a fluctuating southern border in maps, but usually extending further south than in this inset map, typically down to Florida – with approximately half Mega-City One being the south. Well, until the Apocalypse War anyway.

 

As for Texas City, it has a strained relationship with Mega-City One, even though they and Mega-City Two are formally still part of the Union. Texas City hasn’t been particularly helpful on the few occasions we see them in any of Mega-City One’s crises (or their interaction generally) – and they even attempted something of a coup in Mega-City One after Chaos Day (which Mega-City One turned right back on them). And they’re not particularly helpful to help Dredd look for the Judge Child now – as they are more concerned with their ‘mutie clearances’ as well as the escaped Angel Gang, “a bad buncha hell-raisers”. No matter – Dredd prefers to work alone and he tracks down reports of ‘pre-cog’ activity to Brother Death, a new fortune-teller at Texas City’s Mutieworld with uncanny accuracy in predicting his customers’ deaths. (Mutieworld has permits for its mutants, hence is unaffected by the clearances).

 

Of course, it’s Brother Bunsen using the Judge Child. But really? This was Brother Bunsen’s big plans for the psychic Judge Child. Doesn’t Texas City have a lottery or some other form of big money gambling? Or a stock exchange? Maybe the Judge Child is only good at predicting deaths, as indeed we’ve only seen him do so far? That tends to make him a somewhat useless psychic. Even as a fairground psychic, it doesn’t seem the most lucrative attraction. And as for that uncanny accuracy in predicting deaths by which Dredd tracks him down, surely enough time hasn’t passed to tell? After all, the large majority of customers would be dying years in the future.

 

 

Anyway, Dredd tracks down Brother Death, passing by another attraction – the mutant Thing from the Pit, which seems to be a mutant basically consisting of a giant arm. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one who has tracked down Brother Death – of course the Angel Gang has also tracked him down, as they intend to escape into alien space, where they similarly see a psychic to be a lucrative asset. We’re introduced to Pa Angel and his sons Link, Junior and Mean Machine. And we get to see Mean Machine Angel try his hand at gentle persuasion on Brother Death, which involves only going to the second setting in the four settings of rage literally dialed into his head.

 

 

Brother Death tries to escape but runs into – or more precisely, away from – Judge Dredd. Dredd pursues him into a giant statue – and Pa Angel sees the opportunity to eliminate both of them and abscond with the Judge Child, by unleashing the Thing from the Pit after them.

 

TO BE CONTINUED – DREDD SHAKES HANDS WITH THE THING!

Mega-City Law – Judge Child Quest 4: Tomb of the Garbage God! (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 159)

 

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – JUDGE CHILD QUEST 4: TOMB OF THE GARBAGE GOD! (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 159)

 

Faro may be a crazed fanatic self-proclaimed god of garbage recreating Pharaonic Egypt in the Cursed Earth, but he sure knows how to lay on his own funeral procession:

 

“The Cursed Earth had never witnessed so insane a funeral! First came dancing dervishes from the Brotherhood of Trash. Behind them ten slaves for human sacrifice!”

 

Those ten slaves including Judge Dredd of course. Actually, ten slaves for human sacrifice is pretty lame, from the perspective of an insane and literally tin-pot dictator (crowned as he is with a tin-pot) who fancies himself part of the divine line of pharaohs. Why only ten? Why not all of them? It’s not like Faro will be needing his Brotherhood of Trash or its slaves anymore. Why not have them all drink the Kool-Aid, Jim Jones style? Or at least sacrifice on the scale of that attributed to the Aztecs? For that matter, the quality of sacrifices is questionable, apart from Dredd himself. For one thing, they are all mutants, not that I’m anti-mutant or anything but anti-mutant prejudice is prevalent throughout the former United States (especially in Faro’s original city of Texas City), and for another, the sacrifices aren’t the strapping young men or buxom young women that one might otherwise associate with ancient Egyptian court retainer sacrifice.

 

 

Somewhat more impressive is that Faro managed to locate “selected mutants” in the “likenesses of the ancient gods of Egypt” to draw the funeral chariot. Let’s see – the front row seems to include jackal-headed Anubis, falcon-headed Horus, hippopotamus-headed Tawaret and that strange dwarf-god Bes. The back row seems to include cat-headed Bast, crocodile-headed Sobek and ibis-headed Thoth, with goddess Isis a little further out (a later panel shows a bull-headed deity, presumably Apis). As for the caskets themselves, one is for Faro, resplendent in his ring-pull robe, and the other is for the Judge Child, to serve as Faro’s spirit guide in the afterlife – with a spike in the casket lid poised to impale the Judge Child.

 

“Behold! The skies burst! It’s those other gods – weeping! They fear my coming!” he proclaims as it starts to rain (although I thought those other gods were pulling your funeral chariot, Faro?) – “They cannot match the magnificence of my garbage!” I don’t know, Faro – have you seen all that broken pottery in archaeological digs?

 

The other Brothers in the Brotherhood Trash are much more cynical about Faro’s cult – essentially, using it to loot it of wealth before Faro’s impending funeral brings it all crashing down in, dare I say it, the ultimate pyramid scheme? One of those brothers, Brother Bunsen, who is last seen getting out of Dodge – or Memphis, rather – with a mysterious large box. Another Brother applauds Bunsen “betcha got some good garbage in the box, huh?” but Bunsen muses even more mysteriously to himself “better than garbage, son, the best prize of all!”

 

Meanwhile, the slaves are revolting – including Dredd, who calls in his Lawmaster bike again, which comes through with guns blazing, giving the slaves the edge they need to overthrow the Brothers.

 

Faro impatiently awaits his ordained death, much less poetically than Walt Whitman – “Come, death – I am ready! It is not smart to keep a garbage god waiting!”

 

 

And death comes, as is so often the case, in the form of Judge Dredd, much to the delight of Faro – “Death in black! Excellent! Black is my favorite color!” (Judges’ uniforms are black, in case you hadn’t realized).

 

“Take me!” Faro cries, and Dredd is happy to comply – “Request granted”. Well, not quite. Unfortunately, Faro survived Dredd’s gunshot long enough to pull the casket lid shut, impaling the Judge Child.

 

Is that the end of the Judge Child Quest – and the fulfilment of the fated doom for Mega-City One in 2120? Dredd is desolate as he carries the boy’s body into the rain – only for that eagle-shaped birthmark to wash off in the rain.

 

 

Aha! It’s a fake Judge Child – your real Judge Child is in another castle, Dredd! Or something like that, without the Mario reference. No prizes for guessing what Brother Bunsen had in that box, as Dredd does…

 

TO BE CONTINUED: JUDGE DREDD WALKS TALL IN TEXAS CITY – BROTHER DEATH!

Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Honorable Mention & Special Mention)

 

TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES (HONORABLE MENTION & SPECIAL MENTION)

 

With my recent entry for Triss Merigold from The Witcher, I revamped my Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Honorable Mention) as well as transferring some of the more iconic entries to my new Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Special Mention). As usual, you can view the full lists through the links or page menu, but here’s the TL;DR recap:

 

TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES:

(10) 2B – Nier Automata

(9) Juliet Starling – Lollipop Chainsaw

(8) Rayne – Blood Rayne

(7) Morrigan Aensland – Darkstalkers

(6) D.Va – Overwatch

(5) Kasumi – Dead or Alive

(4) Mai Shiranui – Fatal Fury / King of Fighters

(3) Ahri – League of Legends

(2) Tifa Lockhart – Final Fantasy

(1) Lara Croft – Tomb Raider

 

HONORABLE MENTION:

Triss Merigold – The Witcher

Quiet – Metal Gear

 

SPECIAL MENTION:

Samus Aran – Metroid

Chun-Li & Cammy – Street Fighter

Kitana, Jade & Mileena – Mortal Kombat

Jill Valentine – Resident Evil

 

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Honorable Mention): Triss Merigold – The Witcher (2007)

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES (HONORABLE MENTION): TRISS MERIGOLD – THE WITCHER (2007)

 

Technically Triss Merigold should feature in my top ten girls of (literary) fantasy as The Witcher franchise originated in a series of fantasy novels. However, despite a cult following in their native Poland and other European nations (as well as adaptation into various media), the franchise only received widespread attention in the English-speaking world upon its adaptation into series of video games, with three main games from 2007 to 2015.

 

The protagonist of the franchise is Geralt of Rivia, who is of course a witcher, or dare I say it, the Witcher. Witchers are monster hunters, imbued with supernatural powers through alchemy and other magical modifications – all the better to hunt their supernatural adversaries, including werewolves and vampires. The franchise itself is set on the blandly named Continent, formerly inhabited by standard fantasy races (elves, dwarves, halflings and so on) which have since been largely displaced by incoming humans . The humans themselves are predominantly divided between the Nilgaard Empire and the Northern Kingdoms, warring against each other…and we’re not here for the plot but our featured fantasy girl!

 

 

There are a number of notable female characters in The Witcher, partly because Geralt really seems to get around, but foremost among them is fiery (literally) redhead Triss Merigold, sorceress (in the Lodge of Sorceresses no less) and ally of Geralt.

 

 

As I said, literally fiery – as in this cosplay by Elena Samko

 

Or in this cosplay by Helly von Valentine (Disharmonica)

 

Foremost, that is, in the video game series, which has elevated her from a secondary character in the literary series to the primary love interest for Geralt in the first two games (but he gets around).

 

 

 

 

And it’s not hard to see why. Indeed, such are her, ah, charms, that she graced Playboy in Poland as cover girl in her digital form – as well as featuring in live model form in a Russian calendar, clothed and nude (although Geralt seems to have kept his gear on, as opposed to in the game).

Mega-City Law: The Judge Child Quest 3 – Temple of the Garbage God (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 158)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE JUDGE CHILD QUEST 3 – TEMPLE OF THE GARBAGE GOD (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4 – PROG 158)

 

Judge Dredd sums it up in the opening panel (as part of the slave gang hauling a gigantic statue head) – “Faro’s recreated Ancient Egypt in the Cursed Earth!”

 

For despotic chic (and the world’s s€xiest ancient civilization), Ancient Egypt is hard to beat. Although, am I the only one who’s less than impressed with pyramids, the world’s most wasteful tombstones for dead kings? Anyway, Faro has built his own pyramids (two of them, as we see in the opening panel) as well as other replicas of Egyptian monuments – including his own prospective tomb, from which he emerges, in all his trashy splendor. Literally, as Dredd observes – “the man’s a walking heap of garbage”.

 

Faro has certainly let that priceless pre-war garbage go to his head, as he declares himself last in the line of ancient Pharaohs and the Garbage God. Although…is he sporting a Hitler moustache?! I think he is…

 

 

It appears that Faro’s grandiloquence is inspired by his impending death – that night! Dredd asks one of his fellow slaves – “What makes Faro think he’s going to die tonight?” – and receives the reply – “Bird Boy has predicted it and he’s never wrong. He sees the future”.

 

Well, that’s an obvious reference to the Judge Child, the nickname derived from his eagle birthmark. Unfortunately, Faro is not intending on going solo into the afterlife – “When Faro dies tonight, Bird Boy will be killed to act as his guide in the spirit world!”

 

Uh-oh.

 

As Dredd surmises, he has to act fast. First, he transmits a signal to his Lawmaster (through a small transmitted concealed under a strip of ‘synthi-skin’ on his arm) to create a diversion, opening fire with its bike cannons for two minutes before withdrawing. Next, Dredd uses the diversion for that old trick of stripping one of the Brotherhood’s robes to disguise himself – with some help from a few of the other slaves.

 

In the meantime, Faro admires his burial shroud – “made entirely of priceless ring-pull tabs”.

 

 

Impersonating Brother Monkeywrench, Dredd follows Brother Bunsen into Faro’s Needle, where the Judge Child is held captive – and resembling a young Buddhist monk, with the combination of Brotherhood robes and his hairless (bald or shaved?) head. Brother Bunsen drugs the Judge Child for the starring role as Faro’s psychic psychopomp in the spirit world, but is called away by Dredd (posing as Brother Monkeywrench) to attend to “trouble with some of the slaves”. (Well technically it’s true, if he’s referring to himself and his allies). “It’s been almost too easy” Dredd muses over the drugged Judge Child. You know that kind of thought is just begging for trouble (along with “what could possibly go wrong?”) and sure enough, he joins the Judge Child in drugged stupor as Bunsen injects him from behind – “The kid doesn’t tell me everything but sometimes he talks in his sleep. I had a feeling you might be calling, Brother Judge”.

 

Looks like Dredd might be joining the Judge Child as Faro’s guide to the afterlife.

 

Uh-oh, indeed.

 

TO BE CONTINUED: THE JUDGE CHILD QUEST 4 – SACRIFICE TO THE GARBAGE GOD!

 

 

Mega-City Law: the Judge Child Quest 3 – “What am I bid for Judge Dredd?” (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Prog 157)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE JUDGE CHILD QUEST 3 – “WHAT AM I BID FOR JUDGE DREDD?”

(COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 159) 

 

Judge Dredd a slave?!

 

Well, I hate to spoil things but this is obviously that recurring ploy of letting oneself be taken into captivity, or in this case slavery, to get closer to or achieve one’s goal. After all, we know the Judge Child has been taken into slavery, so it’s the obvious route.

 

And yes, in the very next panel, we see Dredd, disguised by his protective radiation cloak (like a radiation suit but, you know, a cloak), riding into Neutron Flats, the biggest slave market in ‘Mutieland’ (a term seemingly used interchangeably with the Cursed Earth). I’m not entirely clear how the slave economy works in the Cursed Earth, although gold seems to be the medium of exchange and there’s the usual subversion of American iconography in that the leading auctioneer is dressed as a diminutive Uncle Sam. Anyway, Dredd uses his usual brand of persuasion on the auctioneer, questioning him with the photograph of the Judge Child and the auctioneer recalls that he sold the Judge Child to Filmore Faro about six months ago.

 

Enter Filmore Faro and his Brotherhood of Trash. We already encountered the Brotherhood of Trash at the slave auction, purchasing one of the slaves. Dressed like Christian monks but with necklaces of literal trash (which is the source of their Brotherhood title, as in Brother Frypan), the Brotherhood may pose as one of “these crazy religions” from the Cursed Earth, but enriching themselves from Faro’s “garbage mines”. And yes, they mine actual garbage, the detritus of the former United States destroyed by nuclear war – in this case, a big town covered over by radioactive dust – and apparently a potential fortune sold as antiques to rich collectors. And now I’m even more confused by the economy of the Cursed Earth, given it wouldn’t seem to have much of a market for trash as antiques or a population of rich collectors to support it. (And neither would Mega-City One for that matter).

 

 

Anyway, we’ve leapt a little ahead in this episode to the economics of garbage. As for Filmore Faro, as the auctioneer informs Dredd, he is one of those recurring warlords the Cursed Earth throws up from time to time, and one that makes Mad Max’s Immortan Joe look reasonably sane in comparison. Indeed, as I’ve noted before, Immortan Joe would make an exemplary Cursed Earth warlord and at least his power is based on a real economic resource, water – that’s a resource even in the present day, let alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where it would be scarce (as opposed to, you know, post-nuclear debris or garbage). Faro has delusions of grandeur as a reinvented Egyptian pharaoh, complete with apotheosis as a “garbage god”. Unfortunately, he has his garbage wealth to back up those delusions, as well as ten thousand slaves and most of the land around (where else?) Memphis. Worse, he “don’t take kindly to lawmen”. Hence the ploy, as Dredd muses that “there’s one way of getting into Faro’s territory without any suspicion” or endangering the Judge Child. Although, the auctioneer almost lets his greed get the better of the ploy, as the bidding goes beyond that of the Brotherhood bidder, and Dredd has to subtly remind the auctioneer with his boot.

 

Cut to Dredd caged with other slaves in Faro’s territory, comforted by his ‘insurance’ – his automated Lawmaster bike, instructed to follow at a distance of two miles and awaiting Dredd’s signal. The Lawmaster proves itself almost as much a deadpan snarker as Dredd himself, as it guns down two guards mocking it by speaking in ‘bike’ – “That means drop dead, thank you.”

 

 

Just as well, as Dredd is caught up in a slave procession hauling a giant statue head of Faro across the Cursed Earth to his ersatz sphinx statue (and pyramids) in Memphis…

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED: JUDGE CHILD QUEST 3 – TEMPLE OF THE GARBAGE GOD

Mega-City Law: The Judge Child Quest 1 – The Judge Child (Complete Case Files Volume 4 – Prog 156)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: THE JUDGE CHILD QUEST 1 – THE JUDGE CHILD (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROG 156)

 

Unlike previous epics, The Judge Child Quest begins in media res, with Judge Dredd giving an ultimatum to Cursed Earth slavers – “You slavers got a choice! Surrender or die!”

 

Of course, the slavers do it the hard way, preferring to shoot it out – “Death it is then!” Dredd laconically replies. It doesn’t entirely go his way though, as a mounted slaver whips him good – snaring him with the whip and attempting to drag him through the ‘sulfur sand’ (spelt in the British style of sulphur) in a nearby pit. Dredd quickly turns the situation around by stopping himself and pulling the slaver off the horse by the whip into the pit. I believe the phrase is hoist by your own petard.

 

And hoist the slaver is, as he finds himself sinking into the sulfur sand – “It’s s-sucking me in! Help me, Judge!” Dredd knows when he has a captive audience – “That all depends on the answers you give me”. As a fan of Mega-City One slang, it’s nice to see the slaver’s expletive “drokk” in reply – as in “drokk ya!” Dredd then asks after Owen Krysler, a boy taken by slavers from a settlement six months previously, and shows the slaver a photograph.

 

 

That’s when the epic flashes back to the backstory which I set out in my introduction to the epic – the deathbed vision of pre-cog Psi-Judge Feyy (with a track record of 88.8% accuracy in prediction), in which Mega-City One is fated for destruction in 2120 (18 years in the future) with only his vision of the mysterious Judge Child to save the city. Fortunately, Feyy’s vision also includes distinctive features to identify the Judge Child – his name, Owen Krysler and the mark of the Eagle of Justice on his head. The former is not quite so helpful without the latter, given that there are 47 Owen Kryslers in the city. Although…none of them match the description (presumably of the eagle mark), but an Owen Krysler did accompany his parents to one of the new Cursed Earth settlements.

 

 

And that brings us to the present – via the settlement, which has since been sacked and enslaved, but for one particularly mutated mutant.

 

 

The slaver recognizes the mark, but also the boy’s strangely calm demeanor when they hanged his parents – “It was like he knew it would happen”. As for the boy himself, the slavers took him to the slave market in ‘Neutron Flats’. As for the slaver, Dredd pulls him from the sulfur sand – and releases him to his just desserts at the hands of the vengeful ex-slaves. “You promised!” wails the slaver. “I kept my promise” Dredd replies to him, “you’re out of the sand”. Dredd’s like that – he’s worse than the most literally-minded genie when it comes to the wording. However, Dredd is now certain that the missing boy is the Judge Child – “I won’t rest until I find him”. Although you’d think that the Chief Judge and Justice Department might have sent more than just Dredd into the Cursed Earth, given what’s at stake (and that they decked him out with a team and the Killdozer in The Cursed Earth epic)

 

TO BE CONTINUED – WHAT AM I BID FOR JUDGE DREDD?