Tag: mashups

this is why you shouldn’t let me near the internet.

Ricky Deckard
Ricky ‘Blades’ Deckard

When Ricky ‘Blades’ Deckard (Alden Ehrenreich, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES) dropped out of Tyrell University, he came back the next year… as a campus security guard. It’s all just another predictable dead-end job until the four freshmen from Nexus College arrive.The Nexus crew have created a trail of destruction – set Supervisor O’Ryan’s boat on fire, glitter-bombed Professor Tannhauser’s car and hung Security Guard Holden from a flagpole. Now they are somewhere on the campus… and their next target is the Dean.

Can Blades chase them down, before they find the Dean? But why is his former classmate acting so weird? And what secret is the Dean’s hot daughter Rachael (Amber Heard, DRIVE ANGRY) hiding?

 

Whatever happens, this summer you can expect Blades… to be running.

This year’s comedy blockbuster brought to you by Danner Leiner (DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR?). Also featuring Austin Butler (THE CARRIE DIARIES) as Roy, Anton Yelchin (STAR TREK) as Kowalski, Erica Christensen (PARENTHOOD) as Zhora and Molly Quinn (CASTLE) as Pris, with Terry O’Quinn as Dean Eldon and Pauly Shore as Professor ‘J-Dog’ Sebastian.

strap on those brass goggles

 “We’ll require a dozen men, split into three teams, and they’ll need to move quickly. The first group lets the primary tethers loose from the mooring mast. Don’t worry about the secondary ropes; you can easily cut those from the gondola’s balcony once you get some initial lift. The second group secures the main cabin. They’ll need to slowly vent air from the ballonets so that the hydrogen in the envelope can expand. Shift the levers slowly; the propellers don’t respond how you’d expect. Think of it like a boat, pushing through waves you can’t see.

You’ll need the final group in the engine room; two feeding the furnace, another one keeping the clockwork turning over. The gears aren’t much good to you later on, but a good kick-start now will inject the hydrogen where it needs to be and make your getaway all the faster. You can’t muffle the gears at this point, so keep a fourth man on look-out on those catwalks with a steam-rifle. That’s just in case any of the ‘ship’s crew is still on board. It sounds unlikely, sure, but many balloon-heisters have had their career come to an early end thanks to a light-sleeping Sikh holed up in the bosun’s cabin.

Once you’re in the air, redistribute ballast, then man the pumps on the fore and aft ballonets to stabilise the ‘ship. And like that, you’ll be gone, at cruising altitude in under an hour.”

Dirigible theft in London went down by 47% when Randall ‘Zeppelin’ Raines walked away from the balloon-life. But Zep Raines got dragged back into it all when his brother screwed up a deal for Robur, master-criminal and self-styled ‘Maître du monde’.

Robur sets an impossible task; steal 50 exotic airships and have them across the Channel to Franco-Bavarian airspace by 8AM Friday morning, or the Raines brothers are dead. And it’s already Monday, and Head Inspector Strock and his unit of bobby-golems are breathing down Zep’s neck.

With less than a week to pull off the biggest heist of his life, Zep assembles his old crew and attempts the impossible. Gone… in 60 minutes.  

Eternal night in Equestria

“BRING ETERNAL NIGHT TO EQUESTRIA!!” THIS IS THE COMMAND THAT HAS BEEN ISSUED AS THE BATTLE FOR PONYVILLE REACHES “CRITICAL MASS!!”

To momentarily continue the topic of Kirby, a handful of links.Stephen Bissette’s proposed a boycott of Marvel Comics and their films based on the continuing legal stoushes between Marvel and the Kirby heirs. James Sturm from Slate.com also decided to boycott Marvel Comics over Kirby’s treatment and you can read the article here. (I am, for interests of full disclosure, not boycotting the film myself, although it may be a little while before I see it due to newly found responsibilities of fatherhood!)

Strange but true: Kirby’s artwork – together with the CIA and Roger Zelazny – helped save Americans from Tehran in 1979, just prior to the Iranian hostage crisis that brought down the Carter administration. Wired ran an article on it some years back.

ComicsAlliance.com recently ran a feature on Kirby’s ‘next issue’ teasers that he designed for those early issues of Captain America that influenced a generation or more of professionals and fans alike. It’s great stuff, undiluted by pretension or knowingness.

Finally, ComicsAlliance also semi-regularly provides mashups of Great Comics That Never Happened. They are always wonderful ‘what if’ scenarios, such as what if Jack Kirby had written and designed My Little Pony?

The Stranger

Further away than you could imagine, circling a dying star, is the greatest library that ever existed. It had been a forest planet once. But, millennia ago, the trees were cut down and great halls rose in their place, covering the surface of the entire world. The darkness ruled it now. The archives were governed by the shadows, and the halls of scrolls had no witness save the dust and the silence. Except one.

The shadows, the Vashta Nerada, had no voice except for those that they could steal. If they could talk, the shadows would have praised and pitied in equal measure. If the darkness could name, it would have been Stranger. Or, perhaps Witness, Changer, Trickster or Saviour. The language of the lightless was imprecise and defied translation.

He had been there for centuries, trapped in the countless pathways. An ancient pact – the shadowkin couldn’t remember why, whether it was born from fear or respect, scorn or some twisted mercy – held that no Vashta Nerada would ever devour the stranger.

He had lived in the library for lifetimes. The stranger’s kind, it was said, were near-to-immortal, and could reknit flesh, body and bone to recover from grievous injury. Even as the body regenerated, though, the stranger’s mind waned. The fire that had driven him for centuries had dipped low, wanly guttering like a candle’s flame. Each subsequent regeneration became instead a degeneration. Eventually, without that spark of intelligence, the physical form had begun to follow the mind’s atavistic descent. He was now but a shambling creature, showing no sign of the grace or intellect that had saved and damned so many.

The stranger could barely remember his former life. Words would come to him now – Skaro, Gallifrey, Tardis – but they were rendered meaningless without context. He knew the library and his den, a blue box that was bigger on the inside. He was too far gone to even contemplate the paradox.

MOON, the Nth-level intelligence that orbited the forest-planet, would talk to the stranger. It had originally been a protection and countermeasure system, designed to protect the long-faded artificial intelligences that powered the library. Now it comforted the stranger at night, calming the beast during its occasional, terrifying moments of lucidity. MOON would sing the Goodbye Song to the creature, farewelling each melancholic remembering. Such times were thankfully brief, and growing ever further apart.

The shadows could not speak, so the stranger hallucinated others like him. Companions, to keep him company. He found a primal joy in naming things – Pip, Pop, Tree-Low, Tutter – when his own name had been lost so long ago. Sometimes, at night, he wonders if he had ever even known it. He’d cast it aside centuries before. Now, he was just like a bear, a bear in a blue house.

be glad i didn’t write this

I made a shuddering, abortive attempt at another mash-up the other day. Faithful readers may recall my efforts in merging Candace Bushnell’s Sex And The City with China Mieville’s The City & The City. I caught a brief glimpse of a Sandra Bullock / Ryan Reynolds rom-com with all the usual tropes – fish out of water, humorous misunderstandings, uptight city gals, protagonists finding that their initial hatred of each other is blooming into love , etc. – but the setting was, oddly enough, the small Alaskan town of Sitka. All that I know of Sitka comes from a rather good alternative-Jewish-history-noir-suspense novel by Michael Chabon (I half-expected it had been made up, from whole cloth, for the story). So, my mind instantly started whirring about adding Sandra Bullock into a chapter of The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, or alternatively transplanting tough-as-nails Detective Landsman into a romantic comedy setting. There’s something enticing about a mash-up, about seeing the familiar become unfamiliar and new again. I ran through a series of scenarios in my head but my efforts were, unsurprisingly, doomed to fail. Scenes where Margaret, Sandra Bullock’s headstrong police chief takes on a gang of Jewish paramilitary cultists failed to write themselves. Perhaps for the best: the world may not be ready for the Yiddish Policeman’s Proposal.

What’s the matter with mash-ups?

The mash-up is a curious meal indeed. Done well, the elements combine into something either superior or perhaps at least as compelling as the initial ‘ingredients’. The sum isn’t necessarily greater than the whole, but can provides the reader with a new insight into what makes the individual components interesting and compelling. Done poorly, the whole thing is a mess that drags down multiple intellectual properties into a turgid mess.

Or sometimes, just sometimes, it’s an excuse to give a kitten a Matt Smith fringe & bowtie combination BECAUSE THATS WHAT MAKES THE INTERNET AWESOME.

 

But I’m not here to talk about Doctor Who Cat – it is very hard to resist, I assure you – but instead about Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

The initial premise of LOEG is, quite simply, wonderful. Mr Hyde, Mina Harker, Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain & the Invisible Man – all literary protagonists from roughly the same era of Victorian/turn-of-the-century literature – band together and Stuff Happens. Every page is dripping with dozens of allusions to other works of the same era, but you don’t need to know those references to appreciate the rip-roaring story. Moore displays both intelligence & brazen wit when combining these various independent literary worlds into one vast mash-up – but, he also shows some small amount of respect (although admittedly this isn’t necessarily true of the entire piece; some creations are treated more roughly than others). It is intelligence & wit that were so profoundly lacking from the movie adaptation, for those that remember ‘LXG’ (as the tag-line went). That movie is, I believe, a cautionary tale of the dark side of the mash-up, showing us that stories of this kind can so quickly drift perilously close to terrible, hackneyed pastiche.

The two ‘main’ stories of LOEG, all written & illustrated by Moore and O’Neill, have been collected into two volumes. Years passed before the third volume, the curious Black Dossier, saw print. LOEG: BD is a strange beast, and one that takes several reads to begin to appreciate. The learning curve is a little steeper, the references a little more obscure. The League has aged and changed; it’s now the 1950s, half a century on from their initial adventures. The cultural allusions have shifted, the mash-ups now centred around a new decade – now we have Bertie Wooster and James Bond existing in the world of 1984‘s Airstrip One… and that’s not to mention lost Shakespearian plays, short stories, a postcard collection, assembly-line porn and 3D golliwogs.

Century is the latest incarnation of the League, being a wide-ranging story published in several (presumably three) parts that stretches from 1910, to 1969, and onward to a yet-to-be-published volume set in 2011. 1969 has recently been released to positive if confused reviews. As the timeline wanders ever-nearer to the present day, it seems that the mash-up of cultural references has gotten more obscure, more strained, with attention to the minutiae overwhelming the story itself. If the first sin of the mash-up is to do it poorly or in such a way that the source material is too greatly disrespected, the second sin is to throw too much at it, to show a lack of restraint.

Restraint doesn’t seem to have been front and centre of Moore’s mind on this one. As one reviewer pointed out, “we’ve got an 80-page comic that has about 30 pages of actual story and around 50 of playing “who’s that guy?'”‘  Because 1969 does have, in some form or another, the Rolling Stones, the Rutles (a Beatles parody band created by Eric Idle, amongst others), Patrick Troughton, Alfred Hitchcock, Steptoe & Son, Michael Moorcock, On the Buses, Thunderbirds, and a lot, lot more. In fact, that’s just a few panels.

So, the jury is probably out on whether this particular mash-up works or not. If you are happy to read spoilers, I’d encourage you to look at either the ComicsAlliance review linked above or give Colin Smith’s review a go. Smith’s Too Busy Thinking About Comics is a rather wonderful blog that I’ve linked to before; his take is that it’s a “cracking good read… a profoundly well-crafted, compassionate and smart comic book.” Whilst I don’t necessarily agree with every essay, on balance I think he’s onto something there.

To close off the matter of mash-ups, I thought it best to end with an LOEG-inspired painting by Alex Ross…

sex & the city & the city

I could not see the street or much of the estate. We were enclosed in a glass and concrete canyon, windows out of which leaned men and women with morning hair and mugs of drink, eating breakfast and watching us.
‘Bradshaw.’ I nodded at whomever that was. Someone offered a coffee but I shook my head and looked at the man I had come to see.
He lay near the skate ramps. Nothing is still like the dead are still. The wind moves their hair, as it moved his, and they don’t respond at all. He was in an ugly pose, his face to the ground. Even from this distance I could recognise him.
It was a couple of hours since the body had been discovered. I held my breath and bent down toward the dirt, to look at his face. His eyes were closed, as if sleeping.
‘Where’s Jones?’
‘Not here yet, Inspector…’
‘Tell me when she gets here.’ No one was allowed to touch the body until Jones, the patho, had arrived. I had other things I could do in the meantime. I lit a Marlboro and took the smoke deep into my lungs, as if it were oxygen to a drowner.
There was a wet mattress nearby, its belly torn and frayed, exposing rusty wire innards.
‘That was on him.’  The constable who spoke was Charlotte York, innocent enough that she wouldn’t have been my first choice for this scene but still a smart young woman.
‘Odd place for a body. Still, not the worst crime I’ve seen in this neighbourhood.’
‘I figured you’d been here before. The Valley of The Twenty-Something?’
‘Yeah.’ It had been an early assignment for me, for all of us at the Extreme Crimes Unit. It had gotten messy.
Jones had arrived with her assistant. I looked at my watch. Jones ignored me. When she bent over to the body she wheezed. She certified death, making observations while the assistant wrote them down.
‘Time?’ I said.
‘Twelve hours-ish, and you can’t smoke here,’ Jones said. I ignored her, but flicked my cigarette ash behind me, away from the body.
Jones pressed down on one of the man’s limbs. He rocked; in rigour, on unstable ground, he’d assumed the position of his death lying on other contours.
‘He wasn’t killed here. Do we have an ID?’
‘No need,’ I answered. ‘I know him.’
Jones and York both looked at me. ‘Why didn’t you mention this earlier?’
‘His name is Petrovsky.’
‘Russian?’
‘By birth, yes. An artist. Upper East Side. Nice apartment. Makes his coffee a little strong for my tastes. ’
‘He’s your ex.’ A statement, not a question. I nodded, taking a final drag of the Marlboro and stubbing the smouldering butt into the dirt with my heel.
‘I thought after years of odd men, God had finally thrown you a bone. Instead, he threw you a stiff,’ muttered Jones. ‘This love stuff is a motherfucker.’

(with profound apologies to both Mieville & Bushnell)