Star Wars the Comics history part 2

After the Empire adaptation was finished, the first post-EMPIRE story had Luke Skywalker facing off against a probe droid, a piece of Imperial technology introduced in that film. This probe droid is considerably larger and more lethal than it’s movie counterpart, which simply sell destructed.

 

The next few issues are a bit off-beat and experimental, with a rotating focus on the different heroes; with Lando and Chewbacca searching for Han Solo but encountering an illusionary  city built by a psychic rebel deserter, Leia facing Darth Vader on a banking world, and R2-D2 and C-3PO on a world of Droids.

Archie Goodwin left the title with issue #50, a story illustrated by his artist on the Star Wars newspaper comic strips, Al Williamson. The story-in which the search for Han Solo becomes side-tracked, and would remain so for many issues (They kind of had to do that, considering Return of the Jedi wouldn’t come out for another two years) dealt with a strange jewel that made Luke fall into a catatonic state, and featured a mental battle against Darth Vader, with the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, while the other heroes search for a cure-one linked to the past, in one of Han and Chewie’s adventures.

 

David Micheline (Known for his Iron Man and Spider-Man work) took over writing duties with issue #51, and wrote the two-part “Tarkin” storyline, with the Empire building a new, Death Star-style weapon named after the deceased Grand Moff/Death Star Commander.

 

In a few ways, the story predicts elements of Return of The Jedi. Like that film, there’s a second weapon capable of destroying a planet, and a strike team composed of Luke and co. (sans Han)  infiltrate the installation by posing as a technical crew. Of course, there’s major differences-no Ewoks here, and the strike force is actually on the ship itself, not on the planet/moon below. The story also dealt with Imperial commanders plotting to overthrow Darth Vader, and almost featured a rematch between Luke and Vader.

The next few issues-after a somewhat bizarre story involving Leia in a John Carter of Mars type setting (apparently it actually was a John Carter comic story, but it was hastily rewritten and redrawn to accommodate Star Wars)- had the Rebels establish a new base on Aarba. They also befriend the native species, the Hoojibs, with Micehline once again anticipating an element of Return of the Jedi: Cute aliens helping our heroes fight the Empire. In this case, instead of teddy bears, they’re bunnies called Hoojibs.

 

 

The story-line also introduces Shira Brie, a fellow X-wing pilot and force-sensitive, as well as a love interest for Luke, helping Luke and Lando free Cloud City on Bespin from Imperial occupation. However, she is in fact, an Imperial spy working directly for Darth Vader. (A similar, red-headed, force-sensitive Imperial spy with a thing for Luke would eventually be introduced in the novels-Mara Jade-but that’s another story)

During a mission to destroy a new Imperial weapon, a group of rebel pilots led by Luke and Shira use captured TIE fighters in order to infiltrate the fleet and cause confusion. However, during the battle, Luke gets a little confused himself, and using the force to sense the difference between friendlies and bogies, he shoots Brie’s TIE fighter, killing her and resulting in him being court-martialed by the alliance.

However, evidence soon comes to light that Shira was an Imperial spy-provided by none other than a hologram of Darth Vader himself, and corroborated by Imperial records. While Luke is exonerated, it’s actually revealed that Shira is alive-barely-and recovering in a bacta tank.

 

 

So Shira’s story doesn’t end here-she’s to play a large part in the comics later on, and an even larger role in a novel series, Legacy Of The Force, down the line….

 

 

 

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Metal Gear profiles-Benedict Kazuhira Miller

A new series of Metal Gear articles that will focus on single characters of the Metal Gear saga. First, we’ll focus on Benedict Kazuhira Miller. This article will unfold in chronological order, although Miller first makes his appearance in the second MSX title, we start with his first chronological appearence in Peace Walker. The perpetually sunglasses wearing (Due to photo-sensitivity) supporting character is important to the Big Boss saga

Kaz is born shortly after World War II, the son of a Japanese woman and an American soldier stationed there. Intrigued by his absentee father, he eventually goes to America and gets an Ivy League education, before returning to Japan and enrolling in the JSDF. He eventually left, and after the death of both of his parents, started to work as a mercenary, training rebels in Columbia. It’s here that he eventually meets Big Boss, a mercenary working on behalf of the government. After eliminating his unit, Big Boss invites Miller to join his Mercenary unit, the Militaries San Frontieras, or MSF. It takes some convincing-and some trials by combat-but eventually Miller joins and becomes Big Boss’s second-in-command.

Unbeknownst to Snake, Miller enters into a business deal with Snake’s rival, Major Zero and his CIPHER/The Patriots organization, hoping that by doing so, he can expand MSF and perhaps have Big Boss rejoin the organization. To that end, Miller aids Big Boss in combating the Peace Walker project, and developing Metal Gear ZEKE, which is eventually almost stolen by CIPHER double agent Paz Ortega (Paz and Kaz’s names both mean Peace, a subtle joke in the game). In the game, he’s largely portrayed as a confident soldier, friend, and adviser, but perhaps a bit naive on some things, including a flirtation with French adviser Cecille Cosmidas which goes nowhere, making her think of him as uncivilized.

He eventually confesses this to Big Boss, revealing he didn’t intend for things to get quite out of control, and that he helped build MSF into a major business, leading the way for Big Boss’s dream of Outer Heaven, a place for mercenary soldiers. However, he and Big Boss also note that they’ve attracted some unwanted attention due to the Peace Walker incident.

He’s right-Major Zero loses control of one branch of Cipher, XOF-a task force once dedicated to cleaning up after Snake’s original unit the FOX unit-to commander Skull Face. Skull Face captures Paz and young MSF soldier Chico, causing Big Boss to go on a rescue mission to locate them. However, while this happens, XOF stages a fake inspection of MSF’s mother base HQ, in fact destroying it. Big Boss only makes it back in time to rescue a few soldiers and Miller. Miller, visibly upset, declaring:

Then comes the helicopter explosion which kills Chico, Paz, and the pilot, but leaves Kaz, Big Boss and a medic injured. While Big Boss and the medic remain in comas for nine years, Kaz recovers very quickly, and sets about rebuilding MSF as “Diamond Dogs” with a new mother base in the Seychelles island chain. He also searches for the man he believe betrayed MSF, scientist Huey Emmerich.

Close on Huey’s trail-as the scientist is now employed by MSF to develop a new Metal Gear, he is attacked and loses an arm and leg to MSF’s super-powered”skull unit”. Eventually, he’s rescued by Venom Snake and returned to Diamond Dogs.

However, by this point, due to the destruction of the original Mother Base and the loss of his limbs, Miller has become severely bitter and somewhat paranoid. Along with Big Boss’s old friend Ocelot, they command Diamond Dogs and serve as advisers to Venom Snake, and helps him take on XOF and Skull Face. However, he remains extremely hostile toward former XOF sniper Quiet, and especially against Huey once he joins Diamond Dogs. When it becomes clear that Huey is not only behind the incident, and also a virus outbreak at the base, Kaz wishes to have the immoral scientist executed, but Venom Snake shows mercy and sends him away on a raft.  He also often disagrees with Ocelot. Despite all this, he strikes up a friendship with a scientist forced to work for XOF, Code Talker, and asks Code Talker to test Hamburgers he is developing as a side business (Miller’s Maxibuns)-so a little bit of the original, more optimistic and lighthearted Miller still remains. Miller’s style also changes. Although he continues to wear the sunglasses, he adopts a more messy hairstyle and stubble, a beret, jacket, suit and tie, as opposed to his more casual look before, which had a scarf. He also rejects cybernetic prosthetic limbs, instead using a simple leg prosthetic and a cruch for his arm.

Eventually, Miller learns the truth about Venom Snake-that he is, not, in fact, the real Big Boss, but the Helicopter Medic given plastic surgery and hypnosis to act as a body double. Upset by this, and believing his dreams for a future mercenary business dashed. he starts to switch sides, vowing he’ll aid Big Boss’s son-the man eventually known as Solid Snake-to send Big Boss and Ocelot to hell, although for now he’ll play his role.

Eventually in the 90s Miller leaves Diamond Dogs and joins Big Boss’s special forces unit FOXHOUND as a survival expert, hoping to train David/Solid Snake so he can take out his father’s Outer Heaven. (It’s unclear if he had any further interaction with the real Big Boss). Although he doesn’t do much in the Outer Heaven uprising-which results in the death of Venom Snake at Solid’s hand-he does help out during Snake’s second mission in Zanzibar Land, where he encounters Big Boss for real.

Appearing in Metal Gear II Solid Snake, Miller has a somewhat different appearance.

However for future releases of the game which removed the obvious celebrity likenesses he is given an appearance more closely matching that of his Metal Gear Solid non-appearance (More on that soon).

Miller’s advice proves vital to the defeat of Big Boss, as he tells Snake to improve a flamethrower that will immolate Big Boss (At this point in the game Snake has unfortunately lost all his weapons). This leaves Big Boss in another coma and badly injured for several years.

Miller then “sort of” appears in Metal Gear Solid, advising Snake about Arctic wildlife and certain skills, and also airing suspicions about the motive of Snake’s other advisers-mostly Colonel Campbell and Naomi Hunter. However, as it turns out, “Miller” is in fact Liquid Snake, Snake’s brother, disguising his appearance and voice-the real Miller, in fact, is dead, presumably killed by his former comrade Ocelot  . This version of Miller-although not the real Miller-would influence the ‘earlier’ portrayals of the character as blond and with sunglasses, including the re-release of Metal Gear II.

Doctor Who History-Flesh and Crossbones

The Doctor, Amy and Rory’s next adventure takes them to a 17th century pirate ship, commanded by the legendary-but vanished-Captain Avery. The ship appears to be under siege by a mysterious Siren, who places a black spot on her victims before lulling them and disintegrating them.

However, she is in fact teleporting them to a spaceship sickbay, to take care of their maladies-including Avery’s son-who has a fever-and Rory, who almost drowns. Able to free Rory from her, Avery and the ship’s crew take the spaceship to parts unknown.

In the next adventure, the Doctor is sent some unusual ‘mail’ in the TARDIS-A Time Lord cube, from his old friend the Corsair. The Doctor realizes that it means that apart from himself and the Master, it’s possible one or more other time lords survived the Time War, and are hiding in a bubble outside the known universe.

The Doctor lands on the planet, but unexpectedly the TARDIS’s AI is drained, and sent into the body of a young woman, Idris, a resident of the planet. The planet (Known as “House”), in fact, only holds four residents (Idris, “Auntie” “Uncle” and an Ood), and not a colony of timelords-and House is also sentient, and a TARDIS-eater-it’s killed the time lords there and lured others to feed on the TARDIses, and uses Idris as a suppository for their ‘minds’. He’s also used the remains of the time lords as repair material for Auntie and Uncle, to the Doctor’s horror.

Amy and Rory are soon trapped in the now powerless TARDIS-now possessed by the planet- and the Doctor must team up with Idris, who possesses the TARDIS’s heart and refers to the Doctor as her ‘thief’ (as he stole her way back). Working with his spaceship in the body of the woman, the Doctor and Idris are able to cobble together a makeshift TARDIS out of the remains of the other TARDISes, and go to rescue Amy and Rory.

Able to get onboard her ‘shell’, Idris gives up her mortal form and resumes life as the Doctor’s TARDIS, overriding and destroying House. She bids a tearful ‘goodbye’ as she once again becomes the ship’s AI.

In the future, people are using “Gangers”-quickly grown clones built out of a gooey substance.-through mind control to help dispose of acid, and keeping their regular bodies out of harm’s way. However, a freak electrical storm causes the ganger duplicates to gain sentience, as well as a duplicate of their host’s minds. The gangers then rebel against their flesh and blood hosts. The Doctor, stepping into the conflict, attempts to barter a peace, but factions on both sides aren’t having it. Especially one called Jennifer, who kills her original.

Even worse, the Doctor himself gets  a ganger.

However, the Doctor’s double proves to be as honorable as his original, despite Amy’s initial distrust, and both Doctors are eventually able to broker a limited trust between the two, although not after a few deaths, including that of his ganger duplicate, who sacrifices himself to stop Jennifer’s rampage.

Back in the TARDIS, Amy is having pain. The Doctor says she’s having contractions, although she’s not visibly pregnant. The Doctor then tells Rory that the Amy that’s been with them the last few months, is in fact, a Ganger duplicate (although connected to the real Amy’s mind)an attempt to throw off the Doctor. He then disintegrates the Ganger duplicate.

The real Amy then wakes up in a white room, looked over by a sinister-looking woman with an eye-patch (That Amy has been spotting here and there with no explanation in past episodes). She’s also visibly pregnant, and about to give birth!

Doctor Who history: Death and Timey-wimey

Two months have passed-Amy and Rory are enjoying their marriage, on a break from travelling with the Doctor. Eventually, they, as well as River Song, are sent letters-in TARDIS blue envelopes-summoning them to Utah. The group enjoys a picnic at a nearby lake, when suddenly, a strange astronaut arises from the water.

And shoots the Doctor dead.

A man then arrives with gasoline, telling them that the Doctor is definitely dead, and they give him a Viking style funeral. Canton says they’ll meet again, although he personally won’t…

Amy, River and Rory convene in a local diner, only to be incredibly shocked when the Doctor emerges from the restroom. Initially thinking he faked his death, they then realize that this is a younger Doctor, from a time before he got shot.

Turns out he got an envelope too, from his future self, but the companions choose not to reveal that he’s going to die in the future. The group decide to go back to 1969 and meet a younger Delaware, who is in the FBI and working with President Nixon. Turns out Nixon has been receiving phone calls from a frightened young girl. Working with Nixon and Delaware, the group locate the signal.

However, meanwhile Amy, using the restroom, encounters a strange alien being called the Silence, which have the ability to make people forget about them if they’re not looking directly at them, and who are also able to create post-hypnotic suggestions.

Eventually reaching a warehouse, they discover a TARDIS style ship similar to the one above Craig’s apartment from last season. They also encounter the Astronaut again, with the face revealing a young girl. Also Amy tells the Doctor she’s pregnant.

Escaping the warehouse, the group then begin to track the silence and the girl, using gadgets and marking their skin to tally the amount of times they’ve encountered the aliens. She also tells the Doctor that she’s not really pregnant. Amy and Canton are able to link her to a local mostly abandoned orphanage, where she is being kept by the Silence. At the orphanage, among the girl’s photos, is a picture of Amy with a baby. Amy is then captured by the Silence.

However, the Doctor, Rory and River are able to rescue Amy, and also defeat the Silence by turning their own post-hypnotic message against them embedded in the moon landing, as a captured Silence stated that they should be all killed on site. The astronaut girl is able to escape. Bidding farewell to Nixon, and returning River Song to her prison, The Doctor wonders about Amy being pregnant. He does a passive scan of her, and the results are very confusing, as they’re reading both positive and negative.

Meanwhile, back in the 60s, the astronaut girl, now sick and dying, shows up in New York. However, she doesn’t die…but begins a regeneration.

Jurassic Park Novel/Movie differences-The Dinosaurs

In the last two posts on Jurassic Park, I detailed the multiple differences between the human characters of the film and their original novel counterparts. Now, I’ll deal with some not so human characters; the dinosaurs. It’s worth noting that the Park in the novel is far more finished, and the Dinosaurs appear more regularly on the tour, before things go bad.

 

The main bad guys of both the book and the film are the Velociraptors. However, we only see five in the film-the one killed in the opening sequence, the hatchling Raptor, and the three others who menace our heroes.

Much has been made about how the film velociraptors don’t resemble real ones at all-whereas the movie features massive, 6-foot tall Raptors, the actual Velociraptor-and it’s novel counterpart-were actually about four feet tall (But still very dangerous in the novel) and possessed a longer snout.

 

A 90’s era reconstruction of a Velociraptor, contemporary with the writing of the novel. It’s generally agreed that they had feathers, now.

 

The Tyrannosaurus is largely the same, with a few differences-there are two, the larger one which chases our heroes around, and a younger one that’s not quite as active. There are a few extra scenes involving the Rex, including a scene where it attacks Grant, Tim and Lex on a raft, and also near a waterfall. Both scenes were later adapted in the Jurassic Park film sequels, although Jurassic Park III substituted the Rex with a Spinosaurus.

 

In the film, the tour group comes across an ailing Triceratops, with Ellie attempting to find the cause of the creature’s sickness. While Triceratops do appear in the novel, the role of the sick Dinosaur is instead given to a Stegosaurus, who eventually do appear in the film’s sequel, The Lost World, as well as the last two films.

In the novel, Grant and the kids stumble upon an aviary containing flying reptiles, Cearadactyls. This sequence doesn’t appear in the film, but is semi-adapted in Jurassic Park III.

In The Lost World, Jurassic Park III,  and Jurassic World,these reptiles are instead represented by the more popular Pterandon.

In the novel, the creature Procompsonathus makes many appearances. These small Dinosaurs injure a young girl on the mainland in the novel (a scene later used to open The Lost World)-prompting in part an investigation into the island’s security by Hammond’s investors (and also confusing Grant and Ellie as to how such a creature could still exist until they get to the park)also cause trouble in several villages, and eventually kill an injured Hammond.

The Compsonathus is introduced movie-wise in The Lost World, where it does many of the same things, although instead of Hammond, they eat Roland Tembo’s second-in-command, Dieter Stark.

The Brachiosaur in the film is pretty much the first major reveal of the Dinosaurs in the park. The majestic animal shocks the tour group, and many people in the audience watching the film. It (as well as a lot of the film’s other effects) still largely is impressive today, despite over twenty years of advances in special effects.

 

In the novel, the Dinosaur Grant and the crew first encounter is an Apatosaurus, sort of also known as Brontosaurus (It’s a long, long story). 

The Apatosaurus would sit out the films until Jurassic World, where it’s part of a memorable scene where Owen and Claire counsel the dying animal (injured by the Indominus Rex on it’s rampage) in it’s final moments.

 

Doctor Who: Christmas Carol 2.0

It’s Amy and Rory’s honeymoon-and they’re on a ship that’s spinning out of control towards a planet with a controlled weather system, where Sharks and fish are able to fly in the very unusual atmosphere. The Doctor is able to land on the planet, but discovers the man controlling the weather is a miser of sorts, the very Scrooge-like Kazran Sardick. Without Kazran’s permission-as the weather controls are locked to him-he can’t bring his friends to safety.

The Actor on the left, Michael Chabon, might look familiar-he’s another face Doctor Who shares with the Harry Potter franchise. Chabon played Dumbledore in the remaining 6 films after the death of Richard Harris.

The Doctor, inspired by Charles Dicken’s the Christmas Carol, decides he’ll become Sardick’s very own Ghost of Christmas Past, visiting the younger Kazan at several points in his past during Christmas. The Doctor discovers Kazran was once a kind boy, but his father’s mean-spirited nature led to him becoming more of a bitter old man, much like his father. To cheer the young boy up, the Doctor introduces him a woman who is in cryogenic suspension as one of his father’s “insurance policies”-a young woman named Abigail, but she can be only be let out once a year on Christmas Eve.

Eventually, through both the Doctor and Abigail’s visits,  Kazran and Abigail fall in love. However, she also reveals that she has a fatal illness, and only has one more day she can be let of the cryogenic freeze to be with Kazran. Kazran, fearful and sad, asks the Doctor to stop visiting and free Abigail-and events pretty much transpire the same way, with the older Kazran still very bitter and unwilling to help the Doctor save his friends.

The Doctor also briefly marries Marilyn Monroe in this story, hence his look here…

The Doctor tries one more last ditch solution-he brings the young Kazran to the present, and Kazran realizes how far he’s fallen, and become like his domineering father. With the help of Abigail-who has one more Christmas left in her-and the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, they’re able to safely guide Amy and Rory’s ship to safety. The Doctor returns the young Kazran to his own time, and Abigail and Kazran share one last sleigh ride together.

….with a shark driving the sleigh.

Doctor Who history-Big bang 2.0

Things aren’t looking good for the Doctor and his friends. The Doctor is sealed in the pandorica. River’s trapped in an exploding TARDIS that is also destroying the universe except for Earth. Amy has been shot by an Auton version of her fiancée, Rory Williams. Rory-who believed he was the real Rory-is cradling her, and it seems there’s no hope.

And then, the Doctor appears. Holding a fez and a mop.

Turns out that this is the Doctor from some point in the future, who has escaped the pandorica somehow. How? Well, he hands Rory his sonic screwdriver before vanishing, which is then able to free the ‘present’ Doctor (as the Pandorica was designed so that people couldn’t escape, but it’s fairly easy for somebody to get in). The Doctor and Rory then put Amy in the pandorica, which will heal her injuries.

The Doctor uses River’s time-travel device (Similar to the one Captain Jack used) to jump to our present, which, due to the stars being destroyed, is somewhat different. The Doctor once again meets the younger Amy, and they reunite with her older version and Rory-who has been guarding the Pandorica-and Amy-for millenia (As an Auton, he’s ageless) at a museum.

They also free River, who has been stuck in a time loop in the exploding TARDIS, which has been acting as Earth’s sun since all the other stars are gone. The Doctor then uses the manipulator to jump into the past, to give Rory the screwdriver to free himself.

Unfortunately, a stone Dalek-reactivated by the Pandorica-causes some trouble for our heroes, zapping the Doctor before being destroyed by River. The Doctor then goes into the Pandorica, theorizing he can heal the universe by taking the remnants of the original Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS. This will also seal the cracks in time and restore what’s been lost.

The Doctor goes backward in his own timeline, repairing the cracks. He stops by at two points to tell Amy to remember him, before stepping into a crack himself, possibly erasing himself from existence.

Amy’s wedding day. Rory (now human again) and Amy attend but they both can’t shake the feeling they’ve forgotten something.

At the wedding, Amy’s memory of the Doctor begins to surface-and she summons him by doing so (as the cracks don’t totally erase people 100%).

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”.

The TARDIS then materializes at the wedding, complete with the Doctor and his ship fully restored-and in a hat and suit.

At the reception, the Doctor congratulates the happy couple, but he’s still bothered by certain unanswered questions. River stops by, and he’s still not sure as to her exact identity, and where she fits in his life. Perhaps more disturbing-the “Silence Will Fall” voice which started the whole mess in the first place, and which destroyed the TARDIS.

The newlyweds and the Doctor then board the TARDIS for future adventures, with the Doctor answering a phone call about a mummy on the Orient Express.

“Hello? Oh, hello! I’m sorry this is a very bad line. No no no. But that’s not possible. She was sealed into the Seventh Obelisk. I was at the Prayer Meeting. Well no, I get that it’s important. An Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express. Yes, your Majesty. We’re on our way”.