Star Wars comics history-Phantom Menaces

In 1999, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace arrived, and of course Dark Horse got on board with their own adaptation. Written by Henry Gilroy-who would later work on the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon series. It was also inked by Al Williamson, giving it a sort of similar look to the ESB and ROTJ adaptations Williamson penciled in the 80’s

 

 

In additon to the adaptation, Dark Horse also published a series of one-shots focusing on four characters from the film: Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padme/Queen Amidalia. Obi-Wan’s story is mainly a ‘debriefing’ to Yoda, and is largely just a retelling of the film. The other one-shots mainly take place on Tatooine.

 

By far the largest spin-off for the film came out a year later with the Darth Maul miniseries. The popularity of the character would of course inspire future comic and novel series, and a ressurection in the Clone Wars comic series, as well as Rebels.

The Darth Maul series-one of many Star Wars comics illustrated by Jan Duuresama-has the Sith lord commanded to take down the criminal organization Black Sun. It also ties in with the Shadow Hunter novel as well.

It also notably has Maul face off with a “Nightsister”, a dark-side force witch (Although the Witches debuted in a 1994 novel, “The Courtship of Princess Leia”, many depictions of them post-1999 were based on concept art for Maul). In a funny twist, Maul was revealed to be from Dathomir himself in the Clone Wars series.

 

Darth Maul’s mother in particular was revealed to be one, based on the same concept art no less! Awkward…. (This following panel is from a later comic series, Son of Dathomir).

Although Mighella is of course, no longer canon, and Tamzin still is….

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Jurassic Park In Review: JP III part 3

The group head back to the plane wreckage to salvage what they can. Grant and Billy try to figure out what attacked them, with Grant concluding it was a Spinosaurus-and both note it wasn’t on Ingen’s “list” and wonder what Ingen was “really up to”. While this isn’t really explained too much, the fact that there are factions in Ingen that might be doing something sinister behind the backs of the more well-intentioned members of the company-like Hammond and Masareti-is explored in Jurassic World.

 

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They also make another discovery-Kirby, although still telling the truth about finding their son-is no billionaire, but in fact a middle-class paint, tile, and bathroom fixture salesman. At least in the first film,  Grant knew that Hammond was a rich guy and could help fund his dig,but he just took this guy at his word!

Moving on, they discover the ruins of the para-glider, a camcorder that proves Ben and Eric at least landed safely….and then they find out what’s left of Ben (although it’s kind of unclear how he died, as apart from being decayed-one of the more grisly sites in a JP film-he’s still just tangled up in the para-glider. Did he not cut himself loose and starve to death?). Amanda also didn’t really seem torn up by Ben’s death-she’s more freaked out by the skeleton than grieving over her boyfriend, but she’s worried about her son of course. She and Paul of course also discover some Raptor eggs, with Billy’s obvious hesitation in catching up with the group clearly implying he’s taken some.

 

Next we come to the Ingen compound. Although it looks vaguely similar to the TLW set, I think it’s pretty clear it’s a different building, going by a lot of the geography, the fact that there are less buildings around it and the general different shape of the structure itself.

After a brief look at some embroyos, we then get to the next big Dinosaur chase scene, as the Raptors emerge and start chasing Grant and co. Grant also seems to realize that they’re making some new form of vocalization: “Calling for help” as he puts it.

Although sometimes the Raptor CG is a bit rough in this film (as is most of the CG) I think Stan Winston’s team did a pretty good job with the Raptor animatronics. There’s one aspect of the movie that was slightly controversial-the Raptors having quills on their heads, a sort of compromise between the more reptilian look of the ‘classic’ look of dinosaurs, and the more bird-based modern reconstructions (of at least theropods/meat-eating Dinosaurs).

They’re also given slightly more variety here too. While the other Raptors are shown with purple and quills, we have their ‘leader’ here-the Alpha female-having a somewhat spooky white and black color scheme-and no quills.

 

The Raptors make a much better showing her than in TLW, actually working as a team as opposed to nipping each other and fighting among themselves in TLW. This is also the only JP movie where none of the Raptors are killed, making them more of a threat, although also sort of giving the film a kind of “that’s it?” ending (which I’ll cover later).

 

 

We get a brief scene of the group walking into a group of Hadrosaurs (The Parasaurlophus from the previous films as well as their cousins Corythosaurus)-and Grant and the rest of the group get separated.

 

We next see a pretty interesting scene of the Raptors killing Udesky-pretty graphically using their third claw to impale him (I think that’s pretty much one of the few times we’ve seen it used in the series-we didn’t see Ray’s death, they seemed to gnaw more on Muldoon, and the Ingen mercs were mainly jumped on) but leave his body twitching long enough for Amanda to make a stupid risk to try to save him.

While it’s not exactly as cool as TLW’s glass scene, it’s still kind of a decent thrill.

Grant meanwhile finds himself in a bit of a pickle. The shot of him surrounded by the Raptor pack was one of the main publicity photos from the film, and it’s still a pretty cool shot.

 

But thankfully Eric-clad in ferns and armed with tear gas cartridges-saves the day, in what’s pretty much this film’s kid saves the day moment. This actually feels a bit more natural and less tacked-on than the computer and gymnastics scenes in the other films. Unfortunately, Eric in the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to this moment.

 

Next: Family reunion, but also a reunion with the Spinosaurus, Grant gets mad at Billy, and the aviary scene-where we finally get Pteranodons!

James Bond in Review: Dr.No Part III

Recovering from his spider-attack, Bond gets the first sort-of Bond gadget-a Geiger counter to determine whether the samples Strangeways took were in fact, radioactive-catching Professor Dent in yet another obvious lie.

He also spots Miss Taro doing some spying, and asks her on a bit of a date. On the way to said date, we get the first Bond car chase (I don’t really count the taxi running away from Felix earlier as much of a chase) as Bond is pursued by the Three Blind Mice in their hearse.. Although the special effects are very dated-it’s obvious that Connery and the car are in front of a screen in close-up shots, it’s still pretty decent and doesn’t involve any oil slicks, headlight missiles/guns, ejector seats etc. that pop up in almost every car chase since.

Bond’s able to defeat them, and that’s pretty much Bond’s first human kill in the movie I think, although it’s more of an accident since the Hearse is unable to duck under a crane (Which Bond’s Alphine is able to do because it’s smaller) and spins out of control. We also get one of Bond’s death jokes: “I think they were on their way to a funeral.”

Zena Marshall in Dr. No, Miss Taro in Dr. No

Bond (unexpectedly for her) arrives at her house, but he’s fully aware he’s being played (Like Professor Dent, Taro isn’t very good at lying), and, after a romantic interlude where we once again see Connery’s charm at play, calls for a “Taxi” which in fact arrests her. She isn’t too happy.

 

Bond next waits for the arrival of Professor Dent, and we see Bond preparing his trap in a similar fashion to how he prepared the hotel room earlier, setting up his trap (and his gun), as well as grabbing a cigarette and playing some cards while he waits. He even listens to the song “Underneath the Mango tree” which is pretty much one of the film’s main musical themes outside of the Bond theme itself (It doesn’t really feature any lyrics relevant to Bond or the plot like other Bond songs, but it helps set the film’s tropical atmosphere. It also was sung by British actress Diana Coupland, who was the wife of Dr.No’s composer, Monty Norman, at the time) Dent of course wastes all his ammo on Bond’s pillow decoy, and a somewhat relaxed Bond explains how he figured things out from the pretty obvious mistakes Dent’s made-and he’s about to make his last….

….as he pulls the gun he had earlier to try to take out Bond, but it’s empty.

Bond then explains why:

“That’s a Smith and Wesson-and you’ve had your six.”

Bond then coldly kills Dent (Including one shot in the back!)-establishing that while Bond might be a light character at times-cracking jokes and romancing women-he can be quite ruthless too, much like the Bond of the novels is. It’s something that’s sometimes inconsistent with the movie Bond-it can be argued that as the films went on, Connery’s Bond was lightened up even further (Reaching it’s nadir in “Diamonds are Forever”, which many feel is a Roger Moore film without Roger Moore) and Moore’s run was largely defined by comedy and gadgets (with a few exceptions) as was Brosnan. There have been attempts to get back to the colder Bond-Timothy Dalton’s two films, and Daniel Craig both featured a colder spy-although Dalton’s-particularly “Living Daylights” still largely followed the Bond formula, and Craig’s films largely have been getting back to it over time…..

 

In the next part,  Bond leaves Jamacia for Crab Key, and meets Honey Rider, the first major Bond girl….

Doctor Who history-the master/Missy part two

 

The Master later resurfaces as he’s put on trial for the Daleks for his “evil crimes” (this is not elaborated on, really, as the Daleks aren’t exactly innocent either.) he’s then “exterminated” and his ashes are retrieved by the second Doctor, but this isn’t any ordinary urn-The Master has somehow preserved his essence in some slimy goo.-slimy goo which then escapes and sabotages the TARDIS console, causing the Doctor to go through a series of events that lead to another regeneration.

 

The Master’s slime form then escapes and posesses an EMT, Bruce.

 

However, the Master’s possession make’s Bruce’s eyes somewhat strange, and he has to cover up using sunglasses. He then enlists the help of a local youth-Chang Lee-and deceiving him, puts in motion a plan to steal the Doctor’s regenerations (once again using the eye of harmony), as the Bruce body is technically ‘dead’ and prone to decay.

 

When he finally captures the newly-regenerated Doctor, he dons a Time Lordish garb.

 

However, the Doctor is able to defeat the Master once again, and he falls into the Eye of Harmony where he apparentally dies….but this is the Master we’re talking about…

The Time War erupts-a huge conflict across space and time featuring the Time Lords battling the Daleks. The Doctor is forced to take drastic measures-regenerating into a new, harder incarnation-

….and the Master is also resurrected (and presumably given fresh regenerations), as the Time Lords feel his ruthless nature will make him the perfect warrior against the Daleks. However, when he witnesses the Daleks conquer something called the “Cruciform”, he panics, using the Chameleon arch to disguise his body as mind as human. It’s so perfect a disguise he has no knowledge of his former evil nature-but something does remain-His intelligence, and also the sound of drumming in his head. His essence remains in a fog watch.

“Yana” (Short for You Are Not Alone) eventually becomes an elderly, kindly scientist trying to help the last humans at the end of the universe escape to a rumored paradise-the so-called “Utopia”. However, the arrival of the Doctor and his companions tips him off to the watch, and soon “Yana”‘s true nature asserts itself as his memories come floating back from the watch.

 

Killing his scientist friend, and attempting to trap the Doctor and his friends, he also takes control of the TARDIS. However, he’s fatally shot by his assistant, causing him to regenerate into a more youthful state, not unlike the Doctor’s current incarnation.

 

Next: Harold Saxon, The End of Time, and “Who is Missy?”

Metal Gear Profiles-Vamp

Vamp is initially seen as a member of the group Dead Cell/Sons of Liberty, led by Solidus Snake, who capture the offshore “decontamination facility” Big Shell (In fact a cover for the development of the Arsenal Gear). He is first seen making short work of a SEAL team. Vamp, as the name indicates, has various Vampire-like abilities, including a taste for blood, and the ability to levitate, as well as superhuman reflexes.

 

He also has uncanny healing abilities, giving off a sort of immortality, not unlike a Vampire, and he encounters operative Raiden several times, including once with a Harriet Jet (Co-piloted by Solidus) . Although at least one bullet to the head leaves a permanent scar. He also shows extraordinary skill in knives, which he uses to fatally injure Otacon/Hal Emmerich’s stepsister, Emma Emmerich.

Which, while sad, at least gave us these badass moments afterward.

 

 

 

Although presumed finally dead at the end of MGS2, he shows up in the ending, shadowing Snake and Raiden in Manhattan (In front of the car there).

 

Vamp however later resurfaces as part of Liquid Ocelot’s Beauty and the Beast Unit 5 years later, where he is trying to keep Naomi Hunter detained. However, during their attempts to escape (In which Vamp also has a few “deaths”) he has an epic rematch with Raiden-which both survive, although with Raiden heavily damaged.

Once Naomi is ‘rescued’ she reveals Vamp’s unusual abilities are in fact, not supernatural, but artificial-the result of Nanomachines giving him superhuman abilities. Naomi seems to later rejoin Ocelot and betray Snake’s team.

However, Naomi provided Raiden and Snake with a way to defeat Vamp-by suppressing his nanomachines, weakening him enough for Raiden and Snake to defeat him. Finally, Naomi herself gave Vamp a more potent serum which eliminated all his nanomachines, finally killing the immortal. Naomi compared herself to Vamp, since her cancer had also been suppressed by nanomachines, and therefore like Vamp she was living on stolen time, and was sort of ‘undead’ herself, and then deactivated her own, killing her. Otacon grieved both for her, but also didn’t feel any better when Vamp died despite his role in his stepsister’s death.

 

It should be noted that Vamp is voiced by Phil Lamarr, who played Marvin in Pulp Fiction, but also has done many, many voice acting roles as well as several roles on the sketch comedy MadTV.

 

 

Films that inspired Metal Gear-Mad Max series

“My games were made with a lot of genes inherited from George Miller. You might say that because Miller existed, I exist….it’s not just the dialogue — the silhouettes, clothes, equipment, the way characters move, it’s all fantastic. These are all things I used for reference when making games.”-Hideo Kojima

Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima-sporting a Lord Humungus T-shirt-with Mad Max director George Miller.

 

Mad Max  is the Australian film series that features Max Rockansky-a former police officer who struggles to survive in a dystopian-and eventually post-apocalpytic-outback-first, for revenge, but later he’s able to help certain downtrodden people find their freedom from crazed raiders and warlords often out for their oil, gasoline, methane or water.

Of course, the main video game series that owes a great deal to Mad Max (outside of the recent Mad Max game). is of course, Bethsheaba’s “Fallout”.  But Metal Gear’s got a great deal of Mad Max tribute too.

Solid Snake’s portrait in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is obviously based on Mel Gibson, the actor who played Mad Max in the first three films (He was replaced by Tom Hardy in the fourth). Although in this case, it’s not Mad Max, but another popular Mel Gibson franchise character-Riggs from the Lethal Weapon series. The portrait of course was changed in later releases, better matching the look of the overall series, but also perhaps to avoid a lawsuit as well.

The most obvious nod is to Mad Max 2, The Road Warrior. Here, Max has a canine companion.

While this is not particularly 100% unique (Likewise, Fallout has dogs too) and neither is the fact that both Max and Venom Snake sport a leather jacket (although Snake’s pants are not leather).

However, perhaps the biggest similarity is not in visual similarities, but aural ones. Venom Snake is portrayed as a man of few words, as opposed to the somewhat more chatty, unnecessary question asking Big Boss he’s modeled after, or the later Snakes. Kojima has acknowledged he was inspired by Mad Max’s character in The Road Warrior; and also it’s partially why Kiefer Sutherland was cast as Big Boss and Venom-for the motion capture, Kojima wanted somebody with a wide facial range instead of talking a lot (This has been controversial since he replaced David Hayter, a fan favorite who voiced the English voice of Snake and Big Boss in the previous games).

 

 

Both Mad Max and Metal Gear have some really bizzare, unhinged, oddly dressed villains as well. Psycho Mantis, for example….

But the closest similarity of all is a bit of a coincidence: The recent Mad Max game (Which is reportedly very underrated) came out the same day as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain!

 

 

 

Metal Gear Profiles: George/Code Talker

A member of the Native American tribe known as the Navajo/Dine, George/Code Talker was born in the 1880s. Eventually attending a boarding school, he eventually became an expert in parasites by the early 1930s.

 

After the events of Operation Snake Eater, Code Talker examined the remains of the Cobra Unit members known as the End and The Pain-soldiers who seemed supernatural to Snake, but had somehow discovered a unique connection with parasites, allowing them to harness nature-The End uses photosynthesis to gain unnaturally long life, and the Pain, who was able to control insects.

Code Talker was able to reverse-engineer the abilities of the men during these autopsies, and gain similar abilities to not only sustain his long age-living past 100-but also to commune with the parasites. Unfortunately, Skull Face kidnapped Code Talker and twisted his research, using it to create thing dangerous strains-the vocal cord parasites, designed to target a specific language, and destroy their lungs:

The “One that covers” that created the deadly, zombie-like Skull Unit super soldiers….

and the corrosive Metallic Archaea, which Metal Gear Selanthropus in particular could use to create a corrosive effect on metallic objects such as tanks and helicopters.

 

Code Talker is eventually rescued by Venom Snake from a mansion in Africa, where he reveals many of Skull Face’s plans.

He is also able to cure several Diamond Dogs soldiers (although the treatment makes them sterile) who are suffering from the Vocal Cord parasites-although he is unable to contain a separate breakthrough that is created through the experiments of Huey Emmerich.

He’s also one of the few Quiet trusts with information that she is the vector for one of the strains of English vocal cord parasite.

Code Talker-being an unwilling hostage of XOF and Skull Face, is trusted far more than fellow defectors Quiet and Huey as well, forming an easy rapport with Venom Snake, Revolver Ocelot, and Kaz Miller.

He also becomes a one-man focus group for Kaz Miller’s side-business creating hamburgers on Mother Base.

Code Talker: Just a minute. You really think people would eat that? What is it you are planning? Are you using me? Your taste tester? A one-man focus group?

Miller: Well, actually… already started. I gotta place called…uh… Miller’s Maxi-Buns.

Code Talker: You are kidding me.

 

Ultimately, Code Talker’s fate is unknown, although it’s possible some of his work was later incorporated into the FOXDIE virus in the days of Solid Snake.