Top 10 Heroes of Comics

 

TOP 10 HEROES OF COMICS

 

I’ve revamped my Top 10 Heroes of Comics, which mostly meant making some tough choices in my previously tied entries (no more tied entries in the top tens themselves, as opposed to honorable or special mentions). Of course, the longer version can be accessed through the link or page menu, but here’s the TL; DR version:

 

(10) Hellboy

(9) Doctor Strange

(8) Iron Man

(7) X-men – Wolverine

(6) Captain America

(5) Hulk

(4) Judge Dredd

(3) Spiderman

(2) Batman

(1) Superman

 

Saints of Pagan Catholicism – Science Fiction

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM – SCIENCE FICTION

 

Following on from yesterday’s apostles of the goddess in science fiction, these are the genre’s saints of pagan catholicism

 

FEAST DAY SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM

 

ST. H.G. WELLS OF MORLOCKS & MARTIANS (FEAST DAY 21 SEPTEMBER)

 

My world of science fiction is still mostly Morlocks and Martians – and so is the world of science fiction in general, due to St. Wells. Just as St. J. R. R. Tolkien defined modern literary fantasy, St. H.G. Wells defined science fiction – but even more definitively. St. Wells gave science fiction its most archetypal themes and tropes, notably time travel and alien invasion (not to mention steampunk) – and he did so in just two short novels, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, which are arguably the still beating mythic heart of science fiction.

 

Bonus points for also giving science fiction its dark apocalypse of evolution and entropy – with humanity between the devil and deep black infinity.

 

 

ST. DOUGLAS ADAMS OF THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE (FEAST DAY – TOWEL DAY 25 MAY)

 

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people very unhappy and has widely been regarded as a bad move”.

 

St. Douglas Adams gave us The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a series of books (and other things) that is my latter-day Bible. (Well, one of them, anyway). After all, the Bible could well do with the same practical advice in large and friendly letters on the cover – Don’t Panic!

 

The Bible could also do with comic absurdity with which The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy leavens, well, Life, the Universe and Everything. (The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is of course 42). Not to mention God’s Final Message to His Creation, written in thirty-foot high letters of fire on a distant planet – “We apologize for the inconvenience”.

 

St. Douglas Adams played with religion throughout his works with his characteristic “devout atheism”, embodying the playful spirit of pagan catholicism.

 

Bonus points for the electric monk in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – a labor-saving device that believes things for you, “thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.”

 

ST. CHARLES STROSS (FEAST DAY – 18 OCTOBER)

 

St. Charles Stross is another characteristically humanistic writer of science fiction and hence prime candidate for canonization as one of my saints of pagan catholicism.

 

In particular, however, he earns his canonization as a follower of St. H.P. Lovecraft of the Cthulhu Mythos, updating that Mythos to twenty-first century bureaucracy. I’ve always held that religion is simply organized magic (in the same sense as organized crime) – and in St. Stross’ Laundry series, magic is simply higher mathematics, which applied in certain circumstances can open gates to other dimensions.

 

Bonus points for putting a dark Mythos spin on the apocalypse and rapture, if by rapture you mean something coming to suck out our souls – with increasing computational power and mathematical applications of the modern world (and of human minds) amongst other things (such as the position of our world in space), our world will inevitably be align or opened up to other dimensions (“when the stars are right” in the parlance of the Mythos). God is a hole in the heart of the world – and He’s hungry. (Omnipotent, omniscient, omnivorous). Of course, the British occult secret service plans to go down swinging – CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and all that.

 

ST. ROBERT SILVERBERG (FEAST DAY – 15 JANUARY)

 

St. Robert Silverberg earns his canonization as a prolific writer of fantasy and science fiction – at his most prolific, writing a million words a year (holy crap!), a miracle worthy of canonization in itself.

 

A recurring theme in his work is of mystical transcendence, which lends itself to his canonization – as does his Majipoor mythos, a religion in which I sometimes believe, particularly its Lady of Dreams.

 

However, I have a soft spot for posthumous fantasy (particularly that set in heaven or hell) and it typically earns its writers canonization as saints of pagan catholicism. In this case, it is Silverberg’s To the Land of the Living, which evolved from his story “Gilgamesh in the Outback”, his contribution to the posthumous fantasy anthology series, Heroes in Hell. Everyone who has ever lived and died throughout humanity’s history – and prehistory – finds themselves reborn in the afterlife, neither hell nor heaven, but more akin to a mysterious and vague limbo. Bonus points for its hero and protagonist, none other than Gilgamesh (of the Sumerian epic), who sets out on a quest to return to the land of the living itself, mirroring the quest of his mythic epic to find eternal life.

 

ST. LARRY NIVEN & JERRY POURNELLE (FEAST DAY – ST. NIVEN 30 APRIL & ST. POURNELLE 7 AUGUST)

 

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle might well be canonized for their achievements in fantasy and science fiction. However, I tend to canonize any writer for posthumous fantasy – particularly this case when their posthumous fantasy is Dante’s Inferno, or as Norman Spinrad put it, “quite literally a cakewalk through hell”, literally updated in all its infernal glory of its nine circles of hell (and their various subdivisions), from the perspective of SF author John Carpentier (or Carpenter), who dies and finds himself in it, playing the role of Dante uncomfortably close to all its detail. Fortunately, he is somewhat familiar with Dante’s poem from studies at college, and even more fortunately has a guide to play the role of Virgil – with their quixotic quest to find a way out of hell. And perhaps preach a better gospel of salvation than any other version of Hell I’ve read. Bonus points for miracles, even in hell. (After all, they’ll need it).

 

SAINTS OF PAGAN CATHOLICISM

 

ST. MICK FARREN

 

St. Mick Farren is canonized for his novel The Adventures of Jim Morrison in the Afterlife. Yes, that Jim Morrison. Need I say more? The title alone is enough to earn canonization – and the novel does indeed live up to the title, in which  the Afterlife “is practically anything you wanted it to be…an environment out of our previous realities and fantasies”.

 

Bonus points for heroine Semple, one of the s€xiest female characters in science fiction – even more so as she is one half of former (and historical) evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. Bonus points also – the Beeman Cometh.

 

 

 

Apostles of the Goddess – SF

 

APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS – SF

 

It’s time to canonize my apostles of the goddess and saints of pagan catholicism from the writers of my Top 10 Books of SF. Tonight, we’ll canonize the two apostles of the goddess – with the balance of saints of pagan catholicism to follow tomorrow.

 

Of course, all poets and writers of fantasy – and I regard writers of science fiction as a bit of both – are by their nature saints of my pagan catholicism, but some more so than others (and writers of science fiction do tend to be more at the humanistic end of my spectrum of pagan catholicism).

 

 

APOSTLES OF THE GODDESS

 

ST. ROBERT SHEA & ROBERT ANTON WILSON OF ILLUMINATUS

(FEAST DAYS – WILSON 14 JANUARY / SHEA 18 FEBRUARY)

 

St. Robert Shea and St. Robert Wilson would be canonized for their Illuminatus Trilogy alone, but beyond that they are true apostles of the goddess for their role in the trilogy’s precursor, the Principia Discordia (subtitled “How I Found Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her”), and the Discordian ‘religion’ that permeates the trilogy itself.

 

 

Both were involved in the actual Discordian Society, a parody religion (or is it the ultimate cosmic truth disguised as a joke?) based on the worship of everyone’s favorite goddess of chaos and true supreme being of the cosmos – Eris or Discordia.

 

Hail Eris!

 

 

ST. PHILIP JOSE FARMER OF RIVERWORLD (FEAST DAY 26 JANUARY)

 

St. Philip Jose Farmer brought the kink to my science fiction and to science fiction in general, which would be more than enough to canonize him – or as literary critic Leslie Fiedler characterized it, Farmer’s distinctively “odd blending of theology, p0rnography and adventure” (or alternatively,  a “gargantuan lust to swallow down the whole cosmos, past, present and to come, and to spew it out again”)

 

Not to mention incarnating Jesus on Mars, as well as on Riverworld (where he is disillusioned that humanity does indeed know what it’s doing) – Riverworld being his posthumous fantasy series of an afterlife on the eponymous planet. Posthumous fantasy, particularly set in heaven (boring) or hell (much more interesting), automatically qualifies a writer for canonization.

 

What reveals him as an apostle of the goddess is his novel Flesh – in which astronauts return to a future Earth to find the post-apocalyptic “matriarchal, orgiastic society of the future” reconstructed along the lines of Robert Graves’ The White Goddess, with the neo-pagan cult of the Goddess and Her Horned Consort reigning supreme. (Planet of the Babes, perhaps?).

 

She is the goddess and this is her body – o yes!

 

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Video Games: (10) 2B – Nier Automata (2017)

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES: (10) 2B – NIER AUTOMATA (2017)

 

That’s right – I’ve revised my Top 10 Girls of Video Games to include my newest tenth place entry, for a game that had a spectacular debut in 2017, at least in terms of art and cosplay – Nier: Automata (or as it is stylized, NieR: Automata).

 

The game is apparently a sequel to post-apocalyptic game Nier – and things are even more post-apocalyptic. Post-post-apocalyptic, perhaps? It is the far future (11495 AD). Humanity, which wasn’t doing too well in Nier, is doing even worse in Nier: Automata. For centuries, humanity has been locked in a seemingly endless war against an alien invasion and its armies of machine lifeforms. The last remnants of humanity have fled to the Moon, deploying combat androids to liberate Earth for them. Actually, both humanity AND the aliens are conspicuously absent from their machine proxy wars – something which is explained in-game.

 

Anyway, the combat androids, dubbed YoRHA, are dispatched from an orbital base called the Bunker. The main protagonist is YoRHA No 2 Model B, or 2B for short – a female model android.

 

 

And what a female model! A white-haired pretty girl that has taken the world of art and cosplay by storm with her elegant steampunk appearance and long-legged look in a dangerously short skirt or her white leotard underneath it.

 

I’m not entirely sure why a female combat android model (and interestingly all the combat android models appear to be female) would wear what appears to be an elegant black lace dress – with thigh-high high-heeled stiletto boots and thigh-higher stockings (leading to the thigh gap dubbed zettai ryouiki). She also wears a combat visor, which resembles a blindfold (for extra appeal).

 

 

 

Or for that matter why our most advanced military technology (in 11495 AD) seems to consist of…swords. In fairness, the androids do seem to have ranged weaponry and combat drones or pods to assist them, but they like getting up close and personal. Of course, the two things – combined into the proverbial hot girl with a sword – may just happen to be related to the fact that it is a video game (with the sword offering more in the way of gameplay).

 

 

 

Also in fairness, 2B seems marginally more practical than the A2 model, which resembles her in appearance but with longer hair and what appears to be a corset with suspenders.

 

 

 

There is also a male reconnaissance or intelligence model android – No 9 Model S or 9S – accompanying them, but he seems pretty useless and certainly not as fun.

 

Cosplay by disharmonica

 

“Emotions are prohibited.”

Well, for 2B perhaps, but she certainly has aroused a few emotions for game-players and cosplayers alike…

 

 

Mega-City Law – Boing and Plasteen (Complete Case Files Volume 3 Progs 133-139)

 

 

MEGA-CITY LAW – BOING AND PLASTEEN (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 3 PROGS 133-139)

 

These next few episodes don’t so much introduce notable plots or characters, but the little things that prove to be recurring features of Mega-City One – particularly plastic, because Mega-City One is a city made of plastic! In this case, boing and plasteen. Well not so much the former, but certainly the latter.

 

 

In prog 133, we say hello and goodbye to the Great Muldoon, one of those old-school death-defying high-divers who jump from great heights into water. His particular twenty-second century stunt is diving through a sheet of steel, using a particle converter to convert himself to waves to pass through the steel. Needless to say, it doesn’t work. More interestingly, we are introduced to the Judges’ “birdie” (as in a little birdie told me) – the new hand-held lie detector, which Dredd uses to call a perp’s bluff about a bomb.

 

 

Progs 134-135 involve a self-styled Invisible Man holding Mega-City One to ransom. Again, it’s the little things that are of interest. The Judges attempt to use riot foam to trap the Invisible Man at a drop-off point for ransom – confirming that the hardened foam is indeed porous to allow the trapped people to breathe. I’m a sucker for riot foam whenever they use it – I love the stuff. I’m also a sucker for whenever the Judges name-drop legislation – in this case, Section 32 of the Anti-Crime Code, which is not set out in detail but obviously allows the Judges to use riot foam against their citizens (as Judge Dredd uses it to shut up a protesting citizen as the latter is being cut from the foam). They also introduce spontaneous confessors, more nuisance to the Judges than anything else – a surprisingly prevalent category of citizen who have a compulsion or otherwise get off on confessing to crimes they didn’t commit. We also see advertisements for Umpty Candy, something we’ll learn more about later. As for the Invisible Man himself, he is committing his crimes with a time warp device – time travel and warp devices being things that will play a significant if infrequent role in future plots.

 

 

Prog 136 introduces the miracle plastic boing – which of course Mega-City citizens use for novelty purposes. Boing allows people to be literally wrapped in plastic – or perhaps more precisely sprayed and sealed in breathable plastic bubbles, which tends to see most use for entertainment as human pinballs in supervised amusement parks or facilities. Of course, Mega-City citizens being the idiots that they are, also tend to use it as illegal boingers or for illegal boings, phrases unique to Judge Dredd comics – essentially like freebase jumping but with boing instead of a parachute. Needless to say, such illegal boings are highly dangerous to other citizens and themselves. In this case, three illegal boingers going for the “big boing” end up worse for wear – one electrocutes himself on overhead wires, another is shot down by Judge Dredd using incendiary bullets and the third bounces right out of the city into the Cursed Earth. The episode ends with the Judges introducing a penalty of 20 years imprisonment for improper use of boing, a penalty displayed on every spray can. However, boing – and boingers – will remain a recurring feature in Mega-City One (and indeed boing will come in useful in this very volume of Complete Case Files for a very dangerous adversary).

 

 

Prog 137 sums up crime in Mega-City One – “Mega-City One, giant metropolis of the future, bred many strange law-breakers – the evil, the cunning…and the just plain bored”. The case in point for the last is the self-styled Hellfire Club – three males who seem to be reveling in criminal idiocy. Unfortunately, one of their number guns down a female Judge, Judge Harkness, which enrages her male partner Judge Bryce. It seems that they were more than just ‘partners’ on the streets – Judge Bryce stands poised to sentence the perp to death and Dredd has to warn him to put down the gun. Bryce declares that he loved her and Dredd is forced to shoot first. This episode hints at the celibacy that is standard for Judges (as it is for Jedi) – “There can only be one love in a Judge’s life…the Law!”

 

Prog 138 involves a rogue Klegg from The Day the Law Died loose in the city in The Night of the Hellbeast.

 

Finally, Prog 139 reveals Mega-City One as a city made of plastic or more precisely plasteen in The Great Plasteen Disaster. Almost everything is made of plasteen – cheap and versatile, capable of being as hard as rock and as soft as tissue paper. Unfortunately, all of it crumbles away as some alien plasteen-eating bacteria are brought in by space-liner, resulting in city-wide disaster. A chemical that kills the bacteria is introduced – but it has to be in the plasteen to start with so it’s more damage control for next time. Interestingly, we learn that there is more law than the Law in Mega-City One. Dredd seeks to hold billionaire owner of the inter-space company accountable, but is first held at bay by the billionaire’s lawyer – Dredd may be the law but he is the lawyer? – and then by a mob of people attempting to serve their own writs on the billionaire. The billionaire does not survive – the mob tear open his isolation tent, after surgery for replacing his defective natural heart with an artificial one.

 

Made of plasteen.

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED – DREDD GETS SPIDER-RIFFIC IN THE BLACK PLAGUE

Top 10 Villains of Fantasy & SF

 

TOP 10 VILLAINS OF FANTASY & SF

 

I’ve compiled my Top 10 Villains of Fantasy & SF into a page, revamped to include my latest new entry for the White Walkers and the Night King. As usual, you can see it in more detail through the link or my page menu, but here’s the TL;DR version:

 

(10) White Walkers – Night King

(9) Pennywise

(8) Illuminati

(7) Sauron

(6) Wolves & Witches

(5) Morlocks & Martians

(4) Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

(3) Frankenstein

(2) Dracula

(1) Cthulhu

 

 

Top 10 Heroes of Fantasy & SF

 

TOP 10 HEROES OF FANTASY & SF

 

I’ve collected my Top 10 Heroes of Fantasy & SF into a page and added a few new entries, particularly to reflect recent screen adaptations from literary fantasy. You can see it all in full detail (including eldritch abomination body count and underworld bonus points) on the page through the link or page menu, but here’s the TL;DR version:

 

(10) Shadow Moon

(9) Jon Snow – House Stark

(8) Roland Deschain (Jack Sawyer)

(7) Sam Gamgee (Gandalf & Aragorn)

(6) The Time Traveller

(5) Abraham Van Helsing

(4) Aladdin (Sinbad)

(3) Peter Pan

(2) Conan

(1) Tarzan

Top 10 Animated TV Series (Special Mention)

 

 

TOP 10 ANIMATED TV SERIES (SPECIAL MENTION)

 

Don’t have a cow, man! In case you were wondering why about certain series that were conspicuously absent from my Top 10 Animated TV Series, it’s because they rank among my Top 10 Animated TV Series (Special Mentions). You can check them out in detail through the link or page menu, but here’s the TL;DR version:

 

TOP 10 ANIMATED TV SERIES (SPECIAL MENTIONS)

Looney Tunes / Merry Melodies

The Simpsons

South Park

Futurama

Family Guy / American Dad

Top 10 Animated Films

 

TOP 10 ANIMATED FILMS 

 

Here are my Top 10 Animated Films, complete with special mentions as well as my ongoing roll call of cult & pulp favorites (which can be viewed in more detail through my page menu):

 

(10) Moana

(9) Kubo & the Two Strings

(8) Zootopia

(7) Inside Out

(6) Wreck-It Ralph

(5) Megamind

(4) The Incredibles

(3) Kung Fu Panda

(2) Shrek

(1) Toy Story

 

SPECIAL MENTION – DISNEY:

The Lion King

Lilo & Stitch

 

CULT & PULP

Coraline (Mirrormask)

How to Train Your Dragon

Big Hero 6

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Honorable Mention): Quiet – Metal Gear Solid V (2015)

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES (HONORABLE MENTION): QUIET – METAL GEAR SOLID V (2015)

 

And then there’s the Metal Gear franchise, spanning three decades or so from its debut in 1987 (and apparently in development for a live-action film) – the franchise that was the origin of the stealth-based game genre where avoiding your enemies is the theme (born out of original programming necessity that couldn’t show more than a few enemies at a time). You know – spy or special operations stuff.

 

 

In the words of TV Tropes “the plot is far too complicated (and occasionally batsh!t crazy) to write here in any detail”. It was confusing just reading the plot synopsis. It seems to revolve around special operations (or ‘black-ops’) during the Cold War and afterwards, fighting the usual secret global conspiracy that rules the world and following the adventures of outlandishly codenamed figures, notably various protagonists codenamed Snake – Solid Snake (the primary protagonist of the series), Naked Snake (which sounds naughtily euphemistic), Liquid Snake, Venom Snake.

 

So it’s not too surprising to find a female character like Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – or that she gained a certain notoriety with the game’s debut in 2015. Astute viewers noticed that there was certain something missing from this mute female sniper.

 

Hint: Her clothing

 

You know, as opposed to what one might expect in an ordinary female sniper

 

 

Or indeed, as opposed to what one gets with the game’s male snipers.

 

Who says there’s a double standard in video games?

 

Actually, the backstory for that last image, Snake or Big Boss reimagined with a bit of Quiet in his life by artist Anne Pogoda, is a hoot – “The old battle armors were stiff and clumsy and did not really give enough freedom for all the complex moves that Big “Quiet” Boss is going to be making while snaking through the Desert”

 

But I digress – there’s a totally valid reason for Quiet’s lack of clothing, other than being a female in a video game. She has been treated by “parasite therapy” after a chemical fire attack that effectively destroyed her lungs – organisms, presumably genetically engineered or something, that give various enhancements or superpowers, but in this case, also give her the ability to breathe through her skin, requiring her to wear as little clothes as possible as covering her skin would suffocate her.

 

So you see – parasites! Of course, breathing through her skin would suffocate her in any event – one reason insects, that DO breathe through their skin (or more precisely openings in their skin called spiracles) are limited in size, is because their respiratory system can only breathe enough at smaller sizes. Of course, they don’t walk around in bikini and fishnets either. And I’m not sure that explains various scenes like the rain or shower scenes, although I understand that she may drink through her skin as well.

 

 

Parasites also explain why she earns the codename Quiet because of her muteness or silence – she apparently was also infected with an English language strain of vocal chord parasites. So she can talk but deliberately does not to stop the spread of the parasites. Now I just need someone to explain that explanation (as in what exactly are an “English language strain of vocal chord parasites” that apparently spread if you speak English?). Also, so the game designers deliberately designed a female character who has to wear as little clothes as possible AND doesn’t speak because…parasites?

 

 

Anyway, the character herself is modelled on her motion capture and voice actress, Stefanie Joosten, a Dutch-born model resident in Japan. (Voice actress, you say? Well the character doesn’t speak, but she does make non-verbal noises and hum).

 

 

Again not surprisingly, the non-player character generated some controversy for her appearance – but players and cosplayer loved her.