Archive for September, 2008
Filed Under atlantis
Every time I watch a documentary on Atlantis I see clips from the same movie. Usually it’s footage of the city being destroyed by a volcano and the waves crashing down on it. Once they included a shot of Neptune rising from the deep with his trident. TCM recently showed that movie, Atlantis: The Lost Continent, so of course I had to watch it.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be available on DVD. It’s not a great movie, but it is wonderfully cheesy. I don’t know that I’d want to watch it again, but it would be nice to have in the library to show my friends who appreciate fine cheese.
It’s the story of a young fisherman named Demetrios who one day rescues a woman who’s been stranded on a drifting raft in the sea. We never do learn why she was on that raft, but never mind. The story takes place in ancient Greece before Plato, so when the women claims to be Princess Antillia from Atlantis, Demetrios has never heard of the place. At first, he doesn’t believe her stories of a land beyond the Pillars of Hercules, but eventually she talks him into taking her home, so off they go. Along the way they meet Neptune (sort of) and a fish-shaped submarine that happens to be filled with Atlanteans. Once Antillia gets home, she’s shocked to find her father no longer in control and his right-hand man Zaren calling all the shots.
Zaren, who wants Antillia for himself, has Demetrios imprisoned with all the other sailors who’ve ever been unfortunate enough to run across Atlantis. They all work in the crystal mines now, when they’re not being transformed into animal men by Zaren’s lead scientist. Zaren, meanwhile, is developing a giant laser that he wants to use to conquer the rest of the world.
There are some big problems with the movie. I won’t go into detail on the cheesy effects because really they’re part of the charm. The biggest problem is with Antillia and Demetrios who are thoroughly unconvincing as lovers.
Antillia is arrogant and abusive when Demetrios first rescues her. She sneers at his hospitality and says that she’s untempted by the meal he prepares for her. Eventually she seems to warm up to him, until he refuses to take her beyond the Pillars into open sea. Then she threatens to cozy up to some other guy in the village who she’s sure will be happy to take her. Rather than telling her to take a hike though, Demetrios caves to the threat and says he’ll risk his life to take her home on one condition. If they don’t make it to Atlantis in a certain amount of time, Demetrios gets to turn back and Antillia has to marry him. In the business world, my friends, we call that a Lose-Lose.
Neptune is also disappointing for spoilery reasons that I won’t go into, but beyond that, Atlantis: The Lost Continent is big, dumb fun. It’s popcorn retro cinema. Sort of Planet of the Apes, but with fish-submarines, laser cannons, beast-men, and slaves chanting goofy-ass Atlantean work-songs. Also, segregated escape ships (because this was the ’60s) and an arena fight to the death between Demetrios and some guy who’s supposed to be menacing, but really looks like Dom Deluise. Also also, the Chief from Get Smart as the Atlantean High Priest. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Three out of five minotaurs.
Filed Under legion of super heroes, saturn girl
Another superheroine I want to go back and learn more about is Saturn Girl. She’s never been my favorite member of the Legion of Super Heroes (that would be Shadow Lass), but she’s the highest profile girl on the team and I love the slightly creepy way they portrayed her in the Legion of Super Heroes cartoon.
Saturn Girl has been around since the first appearance of the Legion in Adventure Comics #247. I don’t know if DC knew what a hit they were going to have when they published the story. It’s a fairly disposable adventure if you don’t know what a monster it was spawning.
It begins in Smallville, where some teenagers Superboy’s never seen before let him know that they’re in on his secret identity.
They don’t leave him hanging for too long though and soon reveal that they’re superheroes from the future, part of a club of teen superheroes, and that they want to offer membership to Superboy.
Apparently, at some point in the future, Superman’s secret identity becomes public knowledge because everyone in the 30th century knows that he’s Clark Kent. The teens take him into the future where the Kent home is an historical landmark and teachers use Superboy Robots to demonstrate his various powers.
After a quick tour of Future-Smallville, Cosmic Boy – who does most of the talking for the Legionnaires – explains that before Superboy can become a member, he has to defeat each of the three heroes in a contest. The contests are made up of heroic rescues, so whoever makes the rescue first wins.
Cosmic Boy explains that the first contest is to bring up a valuable, giant statue that sank in the ocean. He then introduces Superboy to his opponent: Saturn Girl.
Things seem to go well at first, except that one of the classroom Superboy Robots goes crazy and escapes. Superboy takes the time to stop it, thinking that Saturn Girl’s telepathy won’t do her any good in raising a huge statue.
Yes! Sea monster! I like Saturn Girl already.
She then taunts Superboy, which honestly sort of makes me like her even more.
“You can be a gentleman if you want and carry it for me.” That’s rich.
The other two contests go about the same. Superboy’s distracted from the contest by a more serious threat, he stops it, but meanwhile Cosmic Boy and Lightning Boy (he’ll become “Lad” later) finish the contest with unexpected applications of their powers. Since Superboy loses all three matches, the Legionnaires tell him he’s not wanted.
No, wait. Yes, he is. Turns out that the Legionnaires are pretty much jerks who cheated in order to distract Superboy so that they could each win their contests. Saturn Girl explains how she pulled it off.
Apparently her telepathy also works on AI. Pretty cool.
Of course, Superboy should’ve known that the Legionnaires had a cruel streak after that stunt they pulled at the beginning with knowing his secret identity. But really, Superboy’s such a smug little brat himself that you can’t blame the Legion for wanting to have some fun with him.
He gets back at them though by completing one, final rescue, but imitating their powers to do it. Sort of. He uses a magnetic meteor to mimic Cosmic Boy’s power and creates a lightning storm to copy Lightning Boy’s. His duplication of Saturn Girl’s powers is pretty iffy though.
They’re all a bunch of square nerds, so the Legion congratulates Superboy on a jolly good joke and welcomes him to the club. Naturally, its the girl who presents the medal.
And that’s the end except for one last panel in which we learn the moral of the story: Superboy is so cool that he’ll be remembered 1000 years from now.
That’s why I said the story was fairly disposable. Like every other Superboy story, its main purpose was to show how awesome Superboy is. There’s no hint in the story that DC expected to ever do anything more with the Legion.
But kids in 1958 really liked the idea of a futuristic team of teen-aged superheroes, so Saturn Girl and the others would return over a year later with all new costumes and a new name for Lightning Boy in Adventure Comics #267.
Filed Under cephalopods, deep sea divers, spies, submarines
Golden Age Comic Book Stories has an old Will Eisner/Bob Powell tale about spies and a missing sub. That’s not awesome enough by itself though, so they threw in a deep sea diver knife fight…
…and an octopus attack. It’s a short story, so go read.
Filed Under wonder woman
Wonder Woman #24 starts a new storyline in the series, so I figure it’s a good spot to starting talking about what’s going on in the comic. I keep raving about Gail Simone’s work on it, so I might as well show you part of what I’m talking about.
I mentioned before that Wonder Woman has a new boyfriend and this issue opens with the two of them taking the next step in their relationship: going to meet Mother. It’s a cool scene and Wonder Woman reminds Nemesis once again that if they’re going to date, it’s all about the “absolute truth.” That’s true (if you don’t mind my using that word again) in any relationship, but it’s especially true when you’re dating the avatar of Truth. And as I mentioned before, it’s going to be especially difficult for Nemesis – a guy who makes his living deceiving people as a spy and a master of disguise.
But he holds up pretty well meeting Queen Hippolyta, all things considered.
There’s more, but I won’t spoil it. It’s going to be very interesting though exploring the meaning and value of Truth in this series. The concept of Truth is fascinating, especially as it relates to our post-modern society. I hope Simone fully commits to diving into it.
Next, the story turns to what was teased on the cover. Hollywood’s making a Wonder Woman movie, so Diana goes to visit the film-makers. Because she’s awesome, she takes along a small entourage.
This part is also clever and funny. At least at first. The Hollywood execs do their best to reassure Wonder Woman that they want her blessing on the film and will try to make it something she can be proud of.
The producer explains that it would hurt the movie for Wonder Woman to denounce it, so they want to cooperate with her. Wonder Woman asks her associates what they think.
The humor’s offset with a serious bit about the studio’s lawyer and her objection to Wonder Woman’s setting herself up as a role model. Wonder Woman starts to defend herself, but quickly sees that the lawyer’s real problem is something else. We’re not told what (or maybe I wasn’t quick enough to pick it up on my own), so I expect that’ll be made clear next issue.
I wish that Wonder Woman had had more time to talk about her status as a role model, but that probably would’ve sounded preachy. As it is, she just mentions that her uniform has meaning for her and that she’s not ashamed of her body. She doesn’t get into what the uniform means or address the lawyer’s concerns about solving problems with violence. I’m curious to see if she gets into that in future issues. Next issue’s cover shows two, little girls showing off their muscles in front of a large Wonder Woman poster, so I suspect so.
I won’t spoil the end, but things get hairy when Wonder Woman goes on a tour of the set and sees some of the changes they’re making to her story, including having Hercules – who once raped Hippolyta – as the love interest in a romantic triangle with her and her mom. She objects, the studio objects to her objection, and there’s a battle.
That’s right. It’s Wonder Woman versus Hollywood, but with real fists flying and the way it’s set up, I wouldn’t bet on Hollywood to lose. But we won’t find out for sure until next month.
Filed Under mary marvel, wonder woman
More on that awesome Wonder Woman costume
Holy Crap! When Comic by Comic talked about that awesome, fan-made Wonder Woman poster from earlier in the month, one of their commenters pointed out a couple of other shots of the same costume. I hope the film-makers are paying attention, because this is now the standard they’re going to have to beat.
Wonder Woman movie update
Speaking of Wonder Woman film-makers, MTV ran an interview not too long ago with producer Willaim Goldberg. While the headline (and just about everyone who linked to the story) focused on Goldberg’s casual mention of the Wachowski Bros. as former candidates for the writing and directing roles, the actually interesting part of the piece is where Goldberg talks about how he’d like to see the movie made.
Dismissing the idea of trying to hire another writer/director (like Joss Whedon), Goldberg says, “When we have a script to present to directors, we’ll sit down with them and see who has a take that blows us away.” He then goes on to talk about what kind of script he’d like to see:
I would like it to be more current. I hope that we don’t finally wind up doing the same story again: Steve Trevor flying, and his plane crashes onto the island. He’s supposed to be executed, and she saves his life. Perhaps we’ll do that in a very abbreviated fashion up front, and then come up with a story that no one has seen yet.
I don’t know. Sure, Wonder Woman’s origin is familiar, but it’s not like it’s been filmed as often as, say, Superman’s. Or even Batman’s. And it would be good to clearly define what she’s trying to achieve in the world. Of course, you can define her without the origin and it would be pretty cool to see them pull that off.
Goldberg also talks about how much he expects to play up Wonder Woman’s sexiness.
…a friend of mine sent me the initial copy of Ms. Magazine. On the cover was Wonder Woman, which got me to thinking about what an iconic figure she was for women. So I don’t see any reason to (sex her up). That separates her from Catwoman.
Anything that separates her from Catwoman is a great idea.
Goldberg also says that he’d like to cast an unknown in the role. “People are not, in my opinion, going to come for the actress, ” he said. “They’re going to come for Wonder Woman.”
Unknown Wonder Woman
Photo taken at DragonCon by this guy.
No DCU Elementary?
Now that my son and I are twelve kinds of excited about the possibility of a comic called DCU Elementary, Rich Johnston (who originally leaked the art) says that it’s not on the schedule and that “there’s no sign of it being so.” Crap.
As long as I’m cranky…
I’ve got a lot of RSS feeds to read
every day whenever I find the time. One of the hassles of keeping up with news about sea-related adventure stories is all the posts you have to filter out about Stargate Atlantis and The Little Mermaid. I’m sick of hearing about Pirate Bay’s troubles and the fire at Dubai’s Atlantis casino. And for a while there after the Republican Convention, I was sick of skimming past post after post proclaiming Sarah Palin as Wonder Woman.
Now, this isn’t a political blog and I should also mention that I was even more frustrated by all the Hillary-as-Wonder-Woman posts from earlier in the year. At least Palin bears a passing resemblence to Lynda Carter as Diana Prince (if by “passing resemblence” you mean that they both have dark hair and wear glasses).
I wasn’t going to mention this except that Lynda Carter herself finally came out and said something about the Palin comparisons. I’m glad she did that for a couple of reasons. The more petty of the two is that my Google Reader has pretty much shut up about the topic now that Wonder Woman herself has ended the conversation. But the better reason is that it gave Lisa Fortuner a reason to make an observation that was really helpful to me.
I admit I’m annoyed to hear her compared to Diana, and I understand that’s the limitation of having just one such notable female hero in the culture. Every notable woman gets referred to as a “Wonder Woman” when being praised. It’s not like everyone who gets told they’re Batman or a Superman matches the personality of Clark or Bruce, so I know this is just a figure of speech. My annoyance is just a side effect of being a rabid comic book fan.
I’ve mentioned before that I find it frustrating whenever any successful woman is immediately compared to Wonder Woman. It’s sort of liberating to know that’s mostly my geek getting poked. I’m not at all irritated when a guy is referred to as “Superman,” but that’s because I don’t like Superman all that much. I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard someone called a “Batman.”
Anyway, it helps me to remember that people who call Sarah Palin “Wonder Woman” don’t actually mean that she’s anything remotely like the superhero character.
Unknown Mary Marvel
Okay, I feel less cranky now. Thanks, Flickr.
(No, I don’t know what Mary’s doing here in the Wonder Woman post either. They’re both butt-kicking heroines with powers given to them by the gods though. Does that help?)
Another Wonder Woman outfit
But this one you can actually wear on the street. Very cool.
I want Candy
Paul Arrand Rodgers features Wonder Woman sidekick Etta Candy in his “Awful DC Comics Characters” feature. In spite of the feature’s name, he rightly seems to appreciate the sassy, fat girl. I’ve only read a few of Etta’s adventures, but she’s awesome and I’ll be talking more about her later.
What’s Wrong with Wonder Woman
So a while back I was defending Wonder Woman and talking about how I wish that her critics would be more reasonable in their discussion about her. Along comes Mike Gold who cites Wonder Woman’s numerous “revisions, reboots, reinterpretations, and make-overs” as evidence that she’s been broken. I think that’s totally fair.
When I first started talking about Wonder Woman here, I had to start with a three-part post outlining what I thought her essential qualities were. I never would’ve had to do that with Batman and Superman. Gold says the problem is that “she became an icon and too many of her creators treat her as such. Gingerly.”
He goes on to say that somewhere along the way, Wonder Woman became more goddess than superhero and that interfered with readers’ (and writers’) ability to relate to her. “Whereas Greek mythology is central to her origin,” Gold writes, “it is no more significant than, say, Krypton is to the Man of Steel or the Vietnam War is to Iron Man. It’s the backstory, not the real story.”
He’s dead on and that’s one of the reasons that Gail Simone is getting the character right. It’s obvious that Simone has a ton of respect for Wonder Woman, but she’s also well in touch with the character’s pulp adventure roots.
Filed Under pirates
Yoicks! And away!
Yeah, yeah, that title’s a Robin Hood joke. It’s still what I thought of when I saw this cool picture by Emily Tetri.
If you leave right now, you can just make the lecture on the history of pirate fashion at The Franklin Institute.
Build yer own pirate cannon
Instructables shows you how.
Have a pirate vacation
Avast Me Hearties tells you how.
Seriously, I’ve been wanting to visit Ocracoke on vacation for a few years now and this post points out some other cool Eastern Seaboard pirate locales to add to the tour. I’ve been to Williamsburg (where Blackbeard’s crew was tried and executed), but I can’t believe I grew up in Florida and never once visited Saint Augustine.
The joke that never gets old
See also: “What movies do pirates like best?” (Ones that are rated “Arrrr.”) and “What’s a pirate’s favorite restaraunt?” (Arrrrbies.) Gimme your best ones in the comments.
Blackbeard: The Musical
I don’t think that Captain Teach would approve.
Filed Under pirates, ships
I may never be satisfied with another pirate ship again.
By Sidney Sime.
Filed Under giant robots
Honestly, the only way they could’ve made this thing any scarier would’ve been to put hair on it. Good show, British people!
Filed Under frankenstein, horror, mystery
It’s been hard, but I’ve been doing pretty good about staying on-topic since limiting the blog’s subject matter. Frankenstein’s a trump card though, so interesting Monster news will sneak in from time to time. Like Warren Ellis’ posting the cover to a graphic novella called Frankenstein’s Womb coming this winter.
Or the announcement that Guillermo del Toro’s planning a new Frankenstein movie. It sounds waaaay off in the future, but also perfect for del Toro. First though, he has to make The Hobbit, it’s likely sequel, and an adaptation of Dan Simmons’ Drood.
Simmons’ novel is a fictionalized account of Charles Dickens’ final years. I suspect and hope it offers an intriguing theory about the inspiration behind Dickens’ unfinished, last novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood.