My Stark Naked Xmas

collecting_seasons-Tumblr

 

MY STARK NAKED XMAS

 

Yesterday I gave myself a Christmas present and saw Star Wars The Force Awakens, tonight I’m having a Stark Naked Christmas Eve and tomorrow will be Christmas – so have a Merry Xmas from Stark After Dark and I will resume counting down the top three finalists in my top 10 fantasy books that rocked my world from Boxing Day!

 

 

MerryChristmas_2014

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Comics: Redux

ImagineFX 53 Cover by AdamHughes

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS: REDUX

In the week before Christmas, I recap my countdown for the top ten girls of comics. However, it’s not just a simple replay, it’s also to revise some entries to include close runners-up – Pantha and the Blood Red Queen of Hearts for Vampirella, and more notably, Mystique and Psylocke for Emma Frost.

 

Of course, that’s not the end of my Fantasy Girls feature on Fridays – it’s not even the end of the girls of comics (what with potentially the Top 10 Girls of Batman and Top 10 X-Women). More immediately, there’s my top 10 honorable mentions, who just narrowly missed out on inclusion in the top 10 itself (and which effectively makes a top 20 girls of comics). Did my top 10 miss one of your favorites? You might find them in my honorable mentions…we’ll start the new countdown after Christmas.

 

Now to recap my countdown of my top ten girls of the comics:

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS

(10) EMPOWERED (OCELOTINA)

(9) LADY DEATH (PURGATORI)

(8) VAMPIRELLA (PANTHA & BLOOD RED QUEEN OF HEARTS)

 

Close-runners up are Vampirella ally and adversary respectively, Pantha and Blood Red Queen of Hearts.

 

pantha2

 

Pantha is – what else? – a semi-divine immortal were-panther from – where else? – ancient Egypt (although this was retconned from her initial origin as an alien shapeshifter). She originally started in a somewhat adversarial relationship with Vampirella, not surprisingly given her more feral and violent nature, but then became an occasional ally. Even more – ah – curvaceous than Vampirella, Pantha is perhaps the only character with her body measurements actually quoted in the narrative – because comics!

 

vampirella.02263efbd23472fe770d7e9ad365400f

 

On the other hand, the Blood Red Queen of Hearts has consistently been an adversary of Vampirella – a recurring, immortal body-hopping villainess. Originally the Whore of Babylon and high priestess of the Cult of Chaos, her spirit was infused into a Queen of Hearts playing card, which magically possesses any woman who touches it and transforms her into the Blood Red Queen of Hearts (until her mortal body is completely worn out), hell-bent on collecting hearts for Chaos. (What do you expect in a story of a vampire alien girl from Drakulon fighting supernatural evil on Earth in her swimwear…?)

 

(7) WITCHBLADE (ANGELUS)

(6) RED SONJA

(5) EMMA FROST / WHITE QUEEN (MYSTIQUE & PSYLOCKE)

 

Close X-women runners-up are Mystique and Psylocke.

 

mystique_by_warrenlouw-d60s02v

The bad girls win out in both the comics and movies, with blue bad girl Mystique (or Raven Darkholme in the comics) essentially replacing Emma Frost as favorite bad girl in the cinematic franchise. Blue-skinned shape-changing Mystique stole the show in the movie franchise (and just missed out on this spot). Who doesn’t have a thing for naked blue girls, particularly as memorably played by Rebecca Romjin and Jennifer Lawrence in little more than blue body paint? It also doesn’t hurt that she can change shape to take the appearance of any other woman – as in her shape-shifting serpentine temptation of Wolverine in the first movie. (Except, um, I understand that she can shape-change her body, but where do the clothes come from?). And in something of a reversal from the norm, she actually wears clothes in the comics.

psylocke.917b1106043ae2af46d364e8786c45db

Psylocke is a somewhat confusing but always intriguing character, with changing bodies – her mind apparently swapping between her original British body Betsy Braddock and that of a Japanese ninja assassin, because Marvel Comics! – and changing powers – telepathy, manipulation of psionic or psychic energy (particularly into blades), telekinesis. She is soon to see cinematic incarnation by Olivia Munn in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse

(4) SUE STORM / INVISIBLE WOMAN

(3) LOIS LANE & MARY JANE

(2) CATWOMAN (POISON IVY & HARLEY QUINN)

(1) WONDER WOMAN

Cult, Pulp & Kink: Jeremy Leven – Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure 1982

Devil_boss_Thumb

 

CULT, PULP & KINK: JEREMY LEVEN – SATAN: HIS PSYCHOTHERAPY AND CURE BY THE UNFORTUNATE DR KASSLER J.S.P.S  (1982)

 

A fantasy book that is perhaps somewhat loosely a fantasy. Indeed, it is one of my top ten fantasy books that I would recommend to non-fantasy readers, as it is primarily black comedy and satire – a black comedy of life itself and a satire of religion. Of course, the central narrative premise is fantasy, with the Adversary himself or Satan, embodied in a computer (through implanting dreams of Einstein in physicist Leo Szylyck, providing the technical directions to Szylyck).

 

And at the outset, Satan narrates that he is not the evil being (nor is hell the inferno) of mythology:

 

The-truth-of-the-matter

 

And it is in the form of a computer, that Satan seeks out the titular psychotherapy and cure from Dr Sy Kassler J.S.P.S – or Just Some Poor Schmuck. Indeed, this is an apt description for the hapless psychoanalyst. Much of the black comedy (and quite a few titillating sex scenes) come from Kassler’s train wreck of a life, as well as the various characters he and Satan encounter on their mutual journey towards each other – a journey that parallels Dante’s descent into hell in the Inferno (which is referenced by name a few times, including the name of a sex club). Although Satan dismisses the accuracy of the specialization of sinners in Dante’s Inferno – “sinners tend to be general practitioners”.

 

Although it is devilishly funny in its entirety, the centerpiece of the book is undoubtedly the seven psychotherapy sessions with Kassler, agreed by the latter in a literal deal with the devil in exchange for Satan’s revelation of the Great Secret of Life. These sessions resemble a verbal (or theological) duel, in which, as you’d imagine, Satan generally has the upper hand:

 

If-I-wanted-orthodox

However, Kassler does on occasions hold his own:

 

You-could-ask-Gods

 

And in the end, of course, he does find the cure for Satan – and Satan indeed repays him with the Great Secret of Life, although it is not quite to his liking…

 

I and my sense of religion were never the same after reading this book (which in some ways might be compared to a theological Catch 22) – and Satan forever changed for me from a supernatural figure of childhood Catholic fear to a more mythic figure of the human condition, as forlorn and lost as any of us.

 

RATING: IT’S A RAVE – 5 STARS*****

 

 

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Comics: (1) Wonder Woman

wonder_woman1

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS: (1) WONDER WOMAN

 

Could there be any doubt? There can be only one – Wonder Woman. The top position has to go to THE most famous, THE most iconic and THE most durable superheroine in comics – with a story drawn from classical mythology and in publication since her 1941 debut as a classic comics ‘good girl’.

wonder-woman-17132-1294014983-47

Visually striking – blue-eyed, raven-haired and voluptuous in her patriotic star-spangled lingerie, with her golden lariat of truth and her bullet-deflecting bracelets – the Amazon Princess Diana of Themyscira (to use her formal title) has loomed large in popular culture. She was created by American psychologist William Moulton Marston, who also invented the polygraph lie detector – something which was also manifested in Wonder Woman’s lariat of truth, although it goes one step further by compelling those it lassoed to tell the truth.

wonder-woman-with-lasso-of-truth

Her lasso also originated in Marston’s keen interest in – ah – bondage, which also manifested itself in the recurring bondage theme of his Wonder Woman comics. Perhaps not the most auspicious theme for a character who was to prove a symbol of female empowerment and a feminist icon – but it was more than counterbalanced by Marston’s ideal for the character, as a “feminine character with all the strength of Superman, plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman” (not to mention the influence of Marston’s female collaborators, his wife Elizabeth and Olivia Byrne).

wonder-woman-600-greg-horn

So she is as powerful a superhero as Superman, and to be quite frank, less of a pacifist pussy about it – and much more of a badass when it comes to doing what it takes to get the job done (and saving Superman’s ass). Whereas Superman professes to be overwhelmingly concerned with being “good” or “truth, justice and the American way”, in practice this simply amounts to mincing around like a useless pansy with a code against killing (which is total crap by the way, because he – like Batman – does break it, except, you know, someone like the Joker or Lex Luthor). When the villain Maxwell Lord was mind-controlling Superman into trying to kill Batman and then Wonder Woman herself, she showed her true strength of character – first by being beyond Lord’s mind control in the first place, and secondly by doing everything possible to stop Lord some other way, until Lord himself revealed under compulsion from her lariat of truth that the only way to stop his mind-control of Superman was to kill him. So she did. The end, or it should have been, as it put her at odds with both Batman and Superman, who saw her as a cold-blooded killer – well you can take your Justice League boys club and shove it, as she just saved your asses, Supes and Bats.

ww3665237-7863058764-3f3ce

Anyway, along with Catwoman, she was my other earliest childhood crush, and she loomed even larger in popular culture by her television incarnation, famously played by the statuesque Lynda Carter: (the absence of a film incarnation merely shows the cultural bankruptcy of Hollywood):

“Wonder Woman! Wonder Woman!

All the world is waiting for you and the power you possess

In your satin tights, fighting for your rights

And the old red, white and blue!”

The absence of a film incarnation merely showed the cultural bankruptcy of Hollywood – until finally, after oh, seventy years or so, she will be played by Gal Gadot on the big screen, even if she still has to share it with Batman and Superman in the upcoming Batman vs Superman…

ww.k4R5KUV

 

FANTASY GIRLS GIRLS OF COMICS

TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS

TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS (SPECIAL MENTION)

TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS (HONORABLE MENTION)

 

Bare-Assed and Half-Baked Ideas: Animal Nightclub 2 (I Forgot the Flamingos!)

James's Flamingo

 

BARE-ASSED AND HALF-BAKED IDEAS: ANIMAL NIGHTCLUB (I FORGOT THE FLAMINGOS!)

 

In my last post on my animal nightclub, I forgot the flamingos!

How could I forget the flamingos? Also the penguins, hummingbirds, swans, owls and eagles. Also a big shout out to the brightly colored parrots of the world. Let’s face it – birds probably have a higher ratio of animal nightclub flamboyance and fabulousness than any other species. It’s all bright plumage, song and dances for them. Not unlike an actual nightclub, I suppose, except more graceful and with more elaborate mating displays or dances – typically by the males, strutting straight to the dance floor to vie for the most impressive visual displays. I wonder how the average human male would fare if he had to rely on the visual display of his dancing skill to be an alpha male?  Of course, there are your drab and plain birds – sparrows, pigeons and so on – but they obviously wouldn’t be getting into my animal nightclub, let alone your carrion-feeding vultures. (After all, as I delight in telling my young nieces, vultures have no feathers on their neck and head to make it easier to shove their head up some dead animal’s ass to eat its guts – “and they still eat more tidily than you!” I conclude).

You can see how addictive a mental game this can become. After all, your average cow or chicken isn’t getting into the nightclub unless it’s bringing something to the party – this club is only for animals that are cool, exotic or funky. (Funky – as in possessed of funk, baby). Wolves and coyotes (because they’re cool). Giraffes (because they have spots and are funky). Most antelope or deer – love those impala and springboks. Hyena (because I love any animal that laughs – and because I resent The Lion King for its anti-hyena agenda). Bats (because they’re Batman!). Polar bears, pandas, lemurs, any monkey with a prehensile tail – indeed, most monkeys (except those big-assed baboons). Chameleons. Frogs and salamanders (but not toads. Because they’re toads). Sufficiently sexy rabbits.

 

This was going to be a Playboy bunny, but this pic is funnier

This was going to be a Playboy bunny, but this pic is funnier

 

And most importantly of all – I FORGOT A WHOLE ANIMAL NIGHTCLUB! You see – we actually need FOUR animal nightclubs for the sheer variety of animals on this big, beautiful and bouncy planet of ours. I’ve already mentioned the standard animal nightclub for land vertebrate animals (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians). I’ve also mentioned the aquatic animal nightclub (although arguably two aquatic clubs, fresh and salt) – for fish, aquatic mammals (such as dolphin and orca!), molluscs (octopi and squid – because tentacles are sexy), crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates. And there’s the third nightclub, the mini-animal nightclub for land invertebrate animals – insects (I forgot dragonflies! How could I forget dragonflies?) and other invertebrates that are the overwhelming majority of life on our planet. However, I forgot the largest animal club of all – THE EXTINCT ANIMAL NIGHTCLUB. Jurassic Club, as it were – for trilobites, saber-tooth tigers and woolly mammoths (and all those other funky animals sucked into tar pits). And of course, the star of every Jurassic Park movie ever (no matter how much they try to push those pussy raptors on us) – the coolest animal ever, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, or to his fans, T-Rex.

 

Jurassic-Park-T-Rex-Wallpaper-6

 

ANIMAL NIGHTCLUB

ANIMAL NIGHTCLUB 2 (I FORGOT THE FLAMINGOS)

READ MORE BARE-ASSED AND HALF-BAKED IDEAS

Bare-Assed and Half-Baked Ideas: Animal Nightclub

animal.party

 

BARE-ASSED AND HALF-BAKED IDEAS: ANIMAL NIGHTCLUB

 

It’s time for another random stream of consciousness post from my bare-assed and half-baked ideas – the animal nightclub.

 

No – I’m not talking about an actual nightclub for animals (although that could work for pets and their owners, especially cats – it just writes itself, with all those laser lights and catnip), or a nightclub with animals (although that’s not a bad idea, albeit more as an occasional zoo or aquarium party) or a nightclub with an animal theme (also not a bad idea, but maybe that’s just me and my fetish for animal print)…

 

Rowr! Pictured - the blogger's bed. Or not really - I do have my leopard lounge, with lava-lamp lighting of course.

Rowr! Pictured – the blogger’s bed. Or not really – I do have my leopard lounge, with lava-lamp lighting of course.

 

I’m talking about a way of thinking about animals as if you were admitting them into your hypothetical nightclub. You know the ones, at least from movies or television – the ones with bouncers as fashion or style police, screening entry to the club on their assessment of whether the potential entrant looks cool (or hot) enough (or are on the proverbial list). Like the rest of my bare-assed and half-baked ideas, I don’t know how or where that idea bubbled into my head (possibly from a combination of my love of animal documentaries and my experience with nightclubs). But I’ll bet that once it’s there in your head, you can’t pop that bubble and from then on, you can’t look at animals without at least some small part of you thinking – is that animal funky enough to get into my nightclub? It’s not about the character or utility of the animal. It is purely and superficially about their aesthetic appeal or visual style, or whether they have the necessary funk for your nightclub – or to put it in different terms, to sashay down your fashion catwalk.

 

Everybody in the club! All eyes on us!

Everybody in the club! All eyes on us!

 

Speaking of cats, big cats are the apex funksters of the animal nightclub – sleek, svelte and immaculately styled by nature. Although as much as I like golden lions, I give first place to tigers and leopards (also cheetahs, jaguars and ocelots). As you can tell, I have a soft spot for spots and stripes. I wish we had spots or stripes. (I also wish we still had tails – albeit admittedly only prehensile tails. O why did we give up our tails, while keeping such useless things as the appendix? Evolution, you suck!).

 

"I can't let you in - in that shirt!"

“I can’t let you in – in that shirt!”

 

You get the idea – although individual tastes will vary. I prefer my sleek and svelte – also ideally spots and stripes, but any brightly colored fur, hide, plumage or scales (although I also like jet black or other uniform shades). Which mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are funky enough for your nightclub? Zebras, foxes, cobras (snakes in general – apologies to my ophidiophobic mother), peacocks (it’s called peacocking for a reason!), birds of paradise, tree frogs…

 

Worlds-Most-Beautiful-Fish

 

Although when you think about it, you’ll realize that you’ll also need an aquatic nightclub for funky fish and other aquatic animals (essentially any coral reef will do) – not many of those deep-sea weirdoes though. You’ll also need as well as a mini-animal nightclub for insects (social butterflies, mantises, and so on) and all other invertebrate animals. But again, when you think about the latter, there already is a mini-animal nightclub for insects and other invertebrates, which we’ve just happened to gatecrash – our planet. It’s their planet – we just live on it. They were here before us and even now greatly outnumber us (and outweigh us in biomass) – and as one of my heroes, David Attenborough, pointed out in his Life in the Undergrowth, they would barely be affected if we (and every other vertebrate animal) suddenly vanished, while we could not survive without them.

 

_77705751_ant-v-human-index

 

 

ANIMAL NIGHTCLUB

ANIMAL NIGHTCLUB 2 (I FORGOT THE FLAMINGOS)

READ MORE BARE-ASSED AND HALF-BAKED IDEAS

Mega-City Law – 10 Reasons Why Judge Dredd is the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic: (10) The Tao of Dredd (Plato’s Republic and Hobbes’ Leviathan)

JudgeDreddCLASSICS_01CVR_FCBD-1

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – 10 REASONS WHY JUDGE DREDD IS THE GALAXY’S GREATEST COMIC: (10) THE TAO OF DREDD (PLATO’S REPUBLIC AND HOBBES’ LEVIATHAN)

 

For our final entry, it’s time to get philosophical. Not too philosophical of course – Judge Dredd is primarily driven by its nature (and the action of its narrative) as a futuristic Dirty Harry in a dystopian or post-apocalyptic SF satire.

 

"Have some philosophy, creep!"

“Have some philosophy, creep!”

 

 

However, like most (if not all) substantial works of fiction, Judge Dredd does have its philosophical underpinnings – the Tao of Dredd as it were, which not surprisingly tends towards political philosophy, Plato’s Republic and Hobbes’ Leviathan. I’m not saying that Judge Dredd is deliberately modelled or directly influenced by Plato’s Republic, but Plato and his Republic are hugely influential in Western culture and politics. Since Plato’s Republic has its central premise as the meaning of justice (and hence the just or ideal society), it is all too apt that Judge Dredd has a distinct flavor of Plato’s Republic about it. Indeed, just as Star Wars was essentially Plato’s Republic in space, with the Jedi as its philosopher-kings or guardians and the Force as the Platonic Forms of the true spiritual reality (superior to the material reality of our untrained perception or senses), then so too Mega-City One is essentially Plato’s Republic in twenty-second century America, with the Judges as its philosopher-kings or guardians and the Law as its Forms. Indeed, the Judges are strikingly similar to the guardian class of Plato’s Republic – male and female (Plato’s Republic was at least progressive on that point), trained from childhood to govern in the interests of the polity (by physical regimen and the four virtues of wisdom, justice, courage and temperance) and bound by stricter rules (such as the absence of family or relationships and personal wealth) than the rest of the populace.

 

Judge Dredd. He is the Forms!

Judge Dredd. He is the Forms!

 

It has been argued that Plato’s Republic was indeed, like Judge Dredd, a dystopian satire rather than a utopian ideal, but it is difficult not to see it intended as the latter – or worse, Plato’s distaste for his own democratic Athens (which after all, executed his beloved teacher and philosophical mouthpiece Socrates) and idealization of a philosophical version of Athens rival, Sparta. And so we are still fighting the Peloponnesian War against Plato’s totalitarian Spartanism as it has recurred throughout Western political ideology – the General Will of Rousseau, the dictatorship of the proletariat and its revolutionary vanguard in Marxism or communism, the fuhrerprinzip of fascism or Nazism.

 

And yet for all my general opposition to Plato’s Republic in all its forms, Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One is one of the few forms of Plato’s Republic I can believe in, or at least see a nuanced appeal. This is perhaps because it also echoes another descendant of Plato’s Republic, one that is more blunt and therefore persuasive than most – Hobbes’ Leviathan. Just as Dredd’s Mega-City One is Plato’s Republic in the twenty-second century, so too is its Department of Justice Hobbes’ Leviathan made flesh. (Judge Dredd is prominently among the entries for the trope Hobbes was Right in TV Tropes). Hobbes’ Leviathan is essentially his proposal of necessary political sovereign power, born of “social contract” to avoid the state of (human) nature, with its constant war of all against all – in which life is, as famously quoted, “poor, nasty, brutish and short”. And to be honest, that does seem to sum up life in the twenty-second century – indeed, it is potentially a lot more nasty, brutish and short in a world of aliens, mutants, robots and weapons of mass destruction.

 

So when Dredd declares that he is the Law, he is also declaring that he is the Leviathan and the Forms.

 

dreddpose_1024

 

MEGA-CITY LAW WILL NOW FEATURE AS A REGULAR WEEKEND FEATURE, REVIEWING PAST DREDD FROM THE COLLECTED COMPLETE CRIME FILES AND PRESENT DREDD FROM 2000 AD…

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – 10 REASONS WHY JUDGE DREDD IS THE GALAXY’S GREATEST COMIC (AND DESERVES ITS OWN SCREEN UNIVERSE):

(1) APOCALYPSE WOW!

(2) SCI FI FANTASY KITCHEN SINK

(3) REAL WORLD SATIRE (OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE SEXUAL OLYMPICS)

(4) FUTURISTIC DIRTY HARRY (OR DO YOU FEEL LUCKY, PUNK?)

(5) MORAL COMPLEXITY (OR JUDGE DREDD DIED FOR YOUR SINS)

(6) THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY AND THE WEIRD

(7) THERE WERE 800 MILLION STORIES IN THE MEGA-CITY

(8) ROGUES GALLERY

(9) DIVERSITY OF GENRE AND TONE (OR HOW THE DAY OF CHAOS TORE MY HEART OUT)

(10) THE TAO OF DREDD (PLATO’S REPUBLIC AND HOBBES’ LEVIATHAN)

 

 

 

Mega-City Law – 10 Reasons Why Judge Dredd is the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic: (9) Diversity of Genre and Tone (Or How The Day of Chaos Tore My Heart Out)

2799941-judge_death

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – TOP 10 REASONS WHY JUDGE DREDD IS THE GALAXY’S GREATEST COMIC: (9) DIVERSITY OF GENRE AND TONE (OR HOW THE DAY OF CHAOS TORE MY HEART OUT)

 

As a sci-fi fantasy kitchen sink, Judge Dredd extends to a diverse range of genres, albeit obviously not pure or high fantasy – and admittedly not particularly hard SF either. Indeed it’s pretty soft on the Mohs scale of SF hardness, what with psi powers and outright fantasy elements – arguably it ranks near the lowest part of the scale, along with other typically comedic or comic greats such as Futurama, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the DC and Marvel Universes, Star Wars and Warhammer 40,000. Of course, it is not primarily science fiction or fantasy – it’s primarily a dystopian satire or black comedy in a science fiction setting.

 

JUDGEDREDD.CRY-OF-WEREWOLF

 

That said, Judge Dredd does dip into a diverse range of genres, predominantly within science fiction but also within fantasy. As highlighted in this list, Judge Dredd predominantly falls within a post-apocalyptic or dystopian SF setting – but also at times has elements of cyberpunk (as well as other literary ‘punk’ subgenres), military science fiction, space opera (notably in its forays into deep space, such as the Judge Child Quest) and time travel or alternative history fiction amongst others. It remains too embedded in its future world setting to venture too far into fantasy, but even so at times has had elements of dark fantasy or horror (particularly in more ‘psi’ episodes and especially those involving the Dark Judges), urban fantasy (what else given its predominantly urban setting?) and Weird West (typically in the Cursed Earth). For that matter, it has shared elements of genres beyond science fiction or fantasy, albeit in the usual suspects for its central premise – crime or heist fiction, espionage or war fiction, and police drama.

 

judge-dredd-strontium-dog-wizard-of-oz

 

True to its roots in black comedy and satire, Judge Dredd frequently plays with other works of science fiction (or fantasy), generally to the detriment of the latter as they encounter the full force of Mega-City Law. It also has had more substantial crossovers, particularly with other 2000 AD stories (although not always to the benefit of consistent continuity), but also with other publishers – sometimes played for laughs (Mars Attacks Judge Dredd?!), but others played more seriously (Judge Dredd vs Aliens works surprisingly well with the scenario of a xenomorph infestation as a terrorist attack on Mega-City). And of course there was Judge Dredd vs Batman – the ultimate lawman vs the ultimate vigilante. Double the awesome!

 

batman_judge_dredd_2_cover1

 

And then there is the diversity of tone. Predominantly its tone is that of tongue-in-cheek black comedy or satire. Primarily, Judge Dredd is funny or comic, in contrast to what might otherwise be an unbearably tragic post-apocalyptic setting. As noted before in this list, the best post-apocalyptic fiction is absurdist at heart. Yet even here it can vary, particularly as Mega-City, its Judges and its citizens have engaged more depth of emotional reaction – from comic to dramatic (even with a sense of suspense or horror) and indeed to tragic.

 

americamcngn

 

The tragic stories could be heartbreaking or heartrending – they typically involved stories of individuals crushed by life in Mega-City One, often not so much by deliberate cruelty but by the vast impersonal carelessness of the city, and some so that even Dredd was moved by their tragedy. And then the whole city was overwhelmed by tragedy in the recent Day of Chaos storyline. Previous apocalyptic crises for Mega-City had tended to be somewhat absurdist, but there was little absurdist or comic about the Day of Chaos. Even in the Apocalypse War, when half the city was destroyed, it was a little hard to take seriously, perhaps it was on such an unbelievably large scale and we don’t really see it. The Apocalypse War (and for that matter The Day the Law Died before it, equally or even more absurdist as Caligula replayed in the twenty-second century) also set the pattern of future crises, in which Judge Dredd would typically lead a small force to turn the tide and save the city. So that’s what we anticipate in the recent Day of Chaos storyline, waiting expectantly as the Judge battle to save the city from a terrorist biological weapon. Except…they fail.

 

chaos

 

The Chaos Bug spreads through the city beyond any hope of containment, infecting all it touches with fatal rabid madness. As the poet wrote – “things fall apart, the center cannot hold”. And so the Judges enact their desperate, heartbreaking last resort – city-wide triage, evacuating a small uninfected remnant (only 50 million out of a population of 400 million) to safe blocks, poignantly symbolized by Dredd escorting his niece Vienna to a safe block as the city dies around them. Gruddamn you, 2000 AD – you tore my heart out with that story!

 

Gruddamnit 2000 AD - I said you tore my heart out!

Gruddamnit 2000 AD – I said you tore my heart out!

 

Perhaps most poignantly in the tragedy is the sense amongst the Judges, not least Dredd himself, that they reaped the harvest that they had sown, in their destruction of Sov city East-Meg One and the distrust of their own population. The city has bounced back, its population rising to 72 million through the return of expatriates, immigration, the acceptance of refugees and most ironically, the formerly second-class citizens of its mutant townships. Yet it remains a shadow of its former superpower self – depopulated and mostly in dangerous ruins, bankrupt and with uncertain future, embattled for its very survival.

 

Enough already!

Enough already!

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – 10 REASONS WHY JUDGE DREDD IS THE GALAXY’S GREATEST COMIC (AND DESERVES ITS OWN SCREEN UNIVERSE):

(1) APOCALYPSE WOW!

(2) SCI FI FANTASY KITCHEN SINK

(3) REAL WORLD SATIRE (OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE SEXUAL OLYMPICS)

(4) FUTURISTIC DIRTY HARRY (OR DO YOU FEEL LUCKY, PUNK?)

(5) MORAL COMPLEXITY (OR JUDGE DREDD DIED FOR YOUR SINS)

(6) THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY AND THE WEIRD

(7) THERE WERE 800 MILLION STORIES IN THE MEGA-CITY

(8) ROGUES GALLERY

(9) DIVERSITY OF GENRE AND TONE (OR HOW THE DAY OF CHAOS TORE MY HEART OUT)

(10) THE TAO OF DREDD (PLATO’S REPUBLIC AND HOBBES’ LEVIATHAN)

 

 

 

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Comics: (2) Catwoman (Poison Ivy & Harley Quinn)

catwoman.500271-product-feature1

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS: (2) CATWOMAN (POISON IVY & HARLEY QUINN)

 

No surprises here – Batman’s feline fatale Selina Kyle or Catwoman is one of the original bad girls of comics. Catwoman has been one of Batman’s more titillating adversaries, with her nine lives of costume changes and accessories, most notably her whip or cat-o’nine tails – indeed, Catwoman has had a dazzlingly diverse array of costumes since her debut in 1940.

The nine lives of Catwoman...

The nine lives of Catwoman…

Her criminal tastes limited to upmarket cat-burglary, she has oscillated between hero and villain, but is sadly yet to substitute for Robin. Perhaps most memorably clad in a shimmering skin-tight black catsuit, she was even more memorable in her film and television incarnations (as well as one of my earliest childhood crushes), most notably by Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt in the camp television series, and by Michelle Pfeiffer (albeit in an uncharacteristically blonde Catwoman moment) and Anne Hathaway in the cinematic versions. She is Catwoman, hear her roar – Meow!

catwoman_pj009_by_raffaelemarinetti-d5td8p9

Close runners-up are fellow Gotham girls, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn – indeed, I could (and will) do a top 10 girls of Batman. Since her debut in 1966, Poison Ivy (originally Pamela Isley in the present incarnation of the character) has been one of Batman’s most enduring adversaries in his rogues gallery – and one of the most powerful, as one of the few with actual superpowers.

poisonivy.2

Poison Ivy is not so much a straightforward villain, as a well-intentioned extremist – she is depicted as one of the world’s most notorious eco-terrorists and her criminal activities revolve around the protection of the natural environment, reflecting her love or obsession with plants, botany and environmentalism. Her powers also revolve botanical – or biochemical – themes, such as toxins and mind-control pheromones, typically through her touch – or kiss. The latter has led to her as a love interest or source of romantic tension for Batman. Her powers also extend to manipulation of plants to an extremely powerful degree – manipulating their growth and abilities or modifying their traits, even animating, hybridising or mutating them. Indeed, she even embodies them – her skin tinted green with chlorophyll and plant toxins (although she can consciously control its extent when required), with some versions even having her almost more plant than human, breathing carbon dioxide or needing sunlight. She even has been identified with an elemental mystical component, part of the force identified as the Green or as the May Queen.

poisonivy.large

And then there is the pin-up girl for crazed co-dependency, Harley Quinn (formerly – and conveniently for her alias – Dr Harleen Quinzel). She actually originated in the Batman animated television series (Batman: The Animated Series) in 1992 as the Joker’s accomplice and girlfriend (both of which are of course distinctly hazardous to health), but then proved so popular she was imported into the comics. (And of course, she has become more well known to the general public with her cinematic incarnation in the pending Suicide Squad, played by Margot Robbie).

harley-quinn

Like Catwoman before her, Harley Quinn has had a dazzlingly diverse range of costumes in various media – comics, television, video games and now film.

And that's not all of them...

And that’s not all of them…

Harley Quinn originated as a psychiatric intern at Arkham Asylum, who became fascinated (and falls madly in love) with its most infamous inpatient, the Joker. Although the Joker does seem to have some feelings for her, this relationship is as abusive and unhealthy as one might expect with the insane Clown Prince of Crime. She has a much more healthy relationship, ironically enough, with Poison Ivy, one of the latter’s few enduring human relationships. (Ivy genuinely cares for Harley, particularly because of the latter’s abusive relationship with the Joker). Whatever her relationships, Harley Quinn has proved an endearing and enduring character in Batman. After all, who else could get away with calling the Joker “Pudding” and live…?

hq.507dd2928acee6f8e066e5b93a0becdb

FANTASY GIRLS GIRLS OF COMICS

TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS

TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS (SPECIAL MENTION)

TOP 10 GIRLS OF COMICS (HONORABLE MENTION)

Mega-City Law – 10 Reasons Why Judge Dredd is the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic: (8) Rogues Gallery

JudgeDredd.On Top of All Odds

 

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – 10 REASONS WHY JUDGE DREDD IS THE GALAXY’S GREATEST COMIC: (8) ROGUES GALLERY

 

Of course, a superhero is nothing without his supervillains – his nemeses, ideally a whole rogue’s gallery of them. Batman might be cool (because how is a billionaire vigilante who dresses up as a bat not cool?), but he wouldn’t quite be as cool without his rogue’s gallery of villains, as striking and theatrical as him. (Even if it seems somewhat ridiculous for real-life vigilantes or criminals – I tend to see comics as a modern Commedia dell’Arte).

 

This is actually a thing. Double the awesome!

This is actually a thing. Double the awesome!

 

Judge Dredd certainly fits this superhero rule, with a rogue’s gallery of villains to rival – or even surpass – that of Batman. Judge Dredd started off reasonably small (not unlike Batman), with the common criminals or ‘perps’ (for perpetrators) of Mega-City One, although his very first perp (in his debut episode in 2000 AD) ‘Whitey’ was a little more exceptional than most as a Judge-killer. To a large extent, as an (or THE) officer of law enforcement in Mega-City One, his primary antagonists continue to be common perps – and indeed Dredd has mused that it will be a lucky hit from one of these perps that will see him off.

 

But then in a world including aliens, mutants, robots, cyborgs and psi powers, Dredd’s antagonists can be highly dangerous or formidable – even the ‘common’ perps, with the future technology or bizarre social fashions of Mega-City, can be a handful, and terrorist organizations like Total War are downright terrifying . My favorite Dredd antagonists tend to be any alien or mutant incursion, particularly from the Cursed Earth – Satanus the Cursed Earth Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Gila Munja, the Black Plague, Father Earth…

 

Of course, most of Judge Dredd’s antagonists tend not to be recurring, as Dredd either kills them or sends them to the iso-cubes – unlike Batman, who just sends his antagonists to Arkham Asylum, where they stay until they feel like escaping. However, some of Dredd’s more popular (and my own favorite) villains are recurring. One is P.J. Maybe, Mega-City’s most successful psychopath and serial killer (although perhaps most of Mega-City’s population is psychopathic or sociopathic to some degree). The other is the notoriously violent Angel Gang, particularly in its surviving member of Mean Machine Angel. As a boy, he was good-natured and showed none of the family’s violent tendencies. Obviously the Angel Gang patriarch, Pa Angel, decided that this would simply not do, and arranged surgery to transform him into a murderous cyborg, with four ‘settings’ of rage literally dialled into his head – with his basic default setting merely as the lowest level of anger.

 

"I'm going up to 4 on ya, Dredd!"

“I’m going up to 4 on ya, Dredd!”

 

 

Ultimately however, the most dangerous adversaries in Judge Dredd are other Judges. The first epic adversary in Judge Dredd (and city-level threat) was Judge Cal, who succeeded to the position of Chief Judge in “The Day the Law Died”, essentially as a replay of Caligula in Mega-City One. Dredd’s most iconic recurring adversary – the Joker to his Batman (and similarly his evil counterpart) – is essentially an omnicidal figure of dark fantasy and supernatural power, Judge Death. He and his fellow Dark Judges (Mortis, Fear and Fire) – essentially Judge Dredd’s Four Horseman of the Apocalypse – come from a world in another dimension in which they killed the entire population – their reasoning being that since crime is only committed by the living, that life itself is the crime.

 

Can't argue with that logic!

Can’t argue with that logic!

 

Although when you come right down to it, despite their supernatural power, the Dark Judges are simply not as effective villains as human Judges from our own world – the Sov Judges, who between the Apocalypse War and the Chaos Bug, almost wiped out Mega-City One. Of course, that’s what happens when, like the Dark Judges, you insist on killing everyone by hand – but then, justice is personal for the Dark Judges…

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – 10 REASONS WHY JUDGE DREDD IS THE GALAXY’S GREATEST COMIC (AND DESERVES ITS OWN SCREEN UNIVERSE):

(1) APOCALYPSE WOW!

(2) SCI FI FANTASY KITCHEN SINK

(3) REAL WORLD SATIRE (OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE SEXUAL OLYMPICS)

(4) FUTURISTIC DIRTY HARRY (OR DO YOU FEEL LUCKY, PUNK?)

(5) MORAL COMPLEXITY (OR JUDGE DREDD DIED FOR YOUR SINS)

(6) THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY AND THE WEIRD

(7) THERE WERE 800 MILLION STORIES IN THE MEGA-CITY

(8) ROGUES GALLERY

(9) DIVERSITY OF GENRE AND TONE (OR HOW THE DAY OF CHAOS TORE MY HEART OUT)

(10) THE TAO OF DREDD (PLATO’S REPUBLIC AND HOBBES’ LEVIATHAN)