zaterdag 27 juli 2013

The Truth about the Rise and Fall of Krypton

By: L. Lane, Z. Mark, M. Hamilton
From: The Daily Planet, 2004 (Editor C. Kent)

Not many people know about the planet Krypton or the culture of the Kryptonians, no one can even start speculating. Their histories started with the death of the first star of the universe, and thus have evolved beyond comprehension of the other species in the universe. Some suspect that perhaps only the Guardians of the Galaxy might have specific knowledge about the progression of the Kryptonians[1], though they refuse to the discuss the matter of death civilizations in favor of policing presently living ones. Therefore it seemed that knowledge about one of the oldest civilizations of the universe would forever been lost.

The past sense in the previous sentence is used accordingly – recently, with help of Metropolis own Man of Tomorrow, scientists and journalist have uncovered many details about the Kryptonian society. The Kryptonians used crystals as a form of data-preservation, and from birth the hero known as Superman has always carried half a dozen of them. During his twenties Superman went into isolation in a location not specified[2], which was custom build to extract and read the information from the crystals. However, most of this information are advance physics, math, chemistry, astrology, martial art, spirituality and even Earth’s philosophies and spiritualism. None of this however, is directly history. Initially it would seem that the father of Superman (Jor-El, making the true name of Superman Kal-El) had some sort of adversary against history or that it simply wasn’t high regarded in Kryptonian culture.

However, I can argue that not only was history not frowned upon in their culture, but it was very high regarded! So high in fact, that it stopped being a thing of its own and instead broke through in other academics. Combining philosophy with martial arts, spirituality, and even astrology, we can at least guess a time line of events that lead from Krypton’s rise to its inevitable demise, and even reveal a huge misunderstanding most people have about Krypton. During the rest of this essay I will not yet reveal how each element helped form Kryptons history, since even explaining kryptionian breathing methods will fill a book. Perhaps in future papers, we shall take a closer look into these aspects. But for now:


Krypton is called one of the universe oldest civilizations. Some of the intergalactic policeforce even joke that by the time Krypton started, the Gaurdians of the Galaxy still had dark hair. However, what we do know is that prehistoric Krypton was a place of savagery. The strongest ruled, but there was never one strongest. It was a planet of violence and viciousness, and proto-Kryptonians worked hard to take over the top, and eliminating much of their own race to survive. However having so much vicious enemies together also meant the Kryptonians had no other way to evolve than vicious killerbeast themselves.

And then their sun did something odd, perhaps it ejected a solar flare or absorbed a meteor. We cannot say exactly what the sun did that killed 70% of is inhabitants and gained the respect of the proto-Kryptonians. Afterwards the sun was worshipped fiercely, dubbed Rao or something similar. While their natural predators had been mostly eliminated, a persistent worldwide winter broke out and the ancient Kryptonians believed that Rao has been engaged in a war against Cythonna, the Goddess of Ice and Venominous creatures.
This is what most probable accelerated the evolution of Kryptonians, with astrology, chemistry and martial art playing an important role in their daily lives. The Martial art was a precursor to Torquasm-Vo and Torquasm-Rao, stressing the importance of controlling the body but also focusing primitive savage rage in tactical situations.

As we know, evolution is a constant change of state to adapt to a certain setting. After the Kryptonians had adapted themselves into using tools to survive the cold and gather food, they suddenly had to adapt themselves to their own technology. We will soon revisit this to explain how Kryptonians look exactly like humans, but for now its important to know that about this age, the Kryptonians have reached a civilization comparable to 19th century Europe. Violence and authority was still a big part of Kryptonian nature, and added here was pride and arrogance.

But then everything changed with the arrival of two people. The first was a discipline of Rao who is sometimes used in spirituality as the personification of the sun. Compare him to Mozes, Jesus and Buddha, preaching people about a new, rational way of living[3]. However, all his efforts might have been in vain if it wasn’t for a man he never met before and even lived on the other side of the globe. Guided by an (surprisingly enough, his name is known) alien scientist called Bertron . Krypton’s first tube-son was created. While his fathers didn’t live long enough to give him a name, he is known all over the galaxy as the Slayer God, the mighty devourer, the Punisher, Doomsday or even Deathmachine. Two-third of the planet missed the arrival of a new age for Krypton. Raoism.


The trauma that Doomsday brought upon Krypton, the loss of two third of Kryptons inhabitants gave the survivors a sense of mortality and intimacy among each other. The Kryptonians grew tighter with each other, and embraced the teachings of Rao – by whom we mean the untitled philosopher which in latter times was woven together with their god. Instead of building a religious institution, as common on Earth and many planets, the Kryptonians embraced a mindset of rationality, transcendent and optimism. Using science, they studied more closely their environment and the possibility of a spiritual realm within scientific theories. They formulated equations establishing the existence of the Many Worlds Theory using a more advance form of calculus and the Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe formula.

Using strict observation they concluded a strong connection between the physical self and their surroundings, as well the mental self and what they describe as “the mental self of the surrounding”. Akin to Japanese Shinto belief, the Kryptonians concluded that there existed a level of consciousness within dead and undead material, and that the sum of these materials could render a whole new side of the universe. It probable took a couple of thousands years to achieve, but eventually they mastered their inner-consciousness, and used it to tread into a whole new dimension. And eventually, I hypothesize, seized appearing in the plane of existence we do.

This all might look as a bunch of bad science fiction, but then again everything from such an advance race as the Kryptonians would in our eyes. I have the persistent understanding that one day these theories will seem less fantastical and we too can take exploration in a different step.

It is during the End of the Raoism age that five clans prominently rose in power and influence, even defining Krypton in the eyes of outsiders many years after their demise. They were: the Us-clan, the Thol-clan, the Rozan, the Starks and the house of El. While not being a democracy, a monarchy or perhaps any leader-driven society, the Kryptonians developed a way of working together and bringing out the fullest out of any potential. At the end of the age, the Kryptonians lost the need or desire for sexual intercourse and developed  a birthing matrix to spawn children[4]. Their genetics were closely monitored to ensure their mind and body would hold great capacity and potential in growth. Using this system, no child of a certain clan, house or family were genetically related to each other. This also means a zero percentage of related genes mixing up (with humans, there is a great chance that your partner is somehow related to you genetically). A child would be assigned to a clan, family or house by need or desire from the parents, and possibility of treading in the same profession. Say that a child has been generated with genes that promise strong bone structure and muscle growth. A family of say, spiritualist or warrior class would be assigned to care for that child (if they desire to do so) and the child would carry their surname. If the child would somehow stray from its predicted trajectory, it would be embraced and stimulated.

In the Kryptonian society people cared little in how well you conformed to a standard – they strived to propel beyond a known understanding of such subject. Even the clan of warriors sought to improve their sacred art with every generation.

Combine this with their discovery and exploration of many layers of world and dimensions, the Kryptonian had superseded their earlier reputation of “deadliest planet” to “most cultured and rational civilization ever”. Though, even with all their accomplishments, the Kryptonians had flaws – some of which actively contributed to their demise in present days.


First of all, lets bring Superman – our only known surviving Kryptonian – in mind. First, lets note his fasionstyle: Derived from his people, he wears bride primary colours and a big shield on his chest with his family crest (slightly modified to display a Earth-S letter) and a long cape. His suit is tight and presents his evolved muscles greatly, yet gracefully hiding certain parts of his autonomy. From this we can learn that Kryptonians were a very flamboyand and proud species. They dressed in bright and extravagant colours and designs to be distinct. They had capes to indicate a sense of authority or perhaps grace, since authority was not regarded highly in their culture. They also wore the crest of their family proudly on their chest, for all to see. Family bond was regarded much much higher. While not even having the tools or conditions to work out like human body builders do, Superman looks ripped and his costume shows every single bit of that. This can be likened to the ancient Greeks and Romans, proudly showing off the maximum of human potential[5].
 But aside from fashion, something else seems odd about Superman. Perhaps it’s that this alien lived among us for 30 years in a first world country – a life filled with nosy institutions and regular doctor’s checkups and examination. Despite stemming from a race preceding even the existence of our sun, he is identical to us in any way. His nails and hair grows like ours, his skin structure matches Caucasians (except the sun won’t burn him orange) and from childhood he has gone through a battery of vaccinations and tests and consumption of products without affecting him negatively. In fact, the only thing hurting him are relics from his own planet, and energy that stems from the same space that his species supposedly mastered. Yet, for the most part his skin cannot be broken, his eyes detect different spectrums, same as his ears and other senses. Plus, he can fly and has greater strength and speed than any human on Earth (the Crimson Crusader from Central City disregarded). His powers seem fictional and in any way incongruent to reality. How so?

A video[6] posted online captures one of the earliest appearances of Superman, even before donning his iconic costume. On an burning oil rig, the Man of Steel earned his nickname by holding an enflamed tower erect long enough for the rescue time to grab he survivors and get out of there. However, conforming to the laws of physics, the collapsing tower should have simply bended above the points he held it and crush the rescue team. But it didn’t. During the infamous Shuttle malfunction during his first appearance he once again achieved a physical impossibility. While the shuttle crashed into the football station, he grabbed the vehicle by the nose and stopped it from crashing into the audience. However, according to the mass and speed of the object, and him as a single immovable point, the shuttle should have ripped between his fingers and gone through him. However, spectators noted almost a ripple[7] going through the shuttle as Superman stopped it. 

This made me thinking.

Earlier, I wrote that during the peak of the Enlightening Age, the Kryptonians discovered a way to transcend in a higher plane and might have even lost their physical bodies in the process. What if, from their very origin, he Kryptonians didn’t look like humans at all? And that even Superman doesn’t look like a human in reality, but that we simply perceive him as one by our senses. Perhaps, unwillingly, he himself fixed that image after being raised in such mindset, so other species in the universe won’t view him in their likeness. Superman also noted that as a child he did not have superstrenght or any other powers, but gradually received them upon growing up – flying be the last. This could be an implication of Superman’s spirituality. While undeveloped as a child, with growing up he devised his own teachings resembling Kryptonian and Earthling philosophies, and thus became aware of his potential. The fact that we have a yellow sun might have also affected his growth. The origin of his species flowered upon a yellow sun, and in their dying years lived under a red dwarf. The yellow sun itself might somehow affect his spiritual body and “flow” out through his physical one. Perhaps inaccurate, lets name them with earth terminology. While flying, Superman is not using physics but rather moving his spiritual body, unaffected by gravity. His physical body following suit. And grabbing a plane or building without it breaking on its stresspoint might be his aura stretching out and keeping the construct intact. Viewing of different light spectrums and even x-ray vision could be him using millennia of genetically enhanced senses capable of detecting other planes of reality[8].

So then, with all these amazing powers, a very important question rises. How can a species so intelligent and so profound possible be extinct? Among the science community the most favorite speculations involve either their sun or their planet exploding. They would assume the arrogance of the Kryptonians would keep them from evacuating the planet. Others say that the Kryptonians believed they could not escape their planet without dying (a theory supported after discovering a planet in the same solarsystem that has a religion driving on space-phobia). The Donner and Snyder theories might differ from each other in what exactly blew up, but both attribute the demise actively on Krypton’s leaders being stubborn old men refusing to believe they were in any danger[9]. My favorite theory is the Millar-Origin[10], once part of the Philosopher Four community consisting of Millar, Morrison, Waid and Peyer, which speculated Superman is a time-traveling immigrant from our distant future. While not fully agreeing with the origin itself, I enjoyed the socio-political influence detailed in his work.

But lets first tackle the stubborn old men theory: Like I concluded earlier, the Kryptonians had no leader and perhaps not even a council. Plus, their whole society was about constantly improving themselves and being rational. Even if one man would have concluded something would blow up, certainly a dozen of clans would pop up, each holding fifty men or so, calculating and testing the possibilities of such prediction. Ergo, Kal-El’s father would have a lot of support if he was right, or would be terribly wrong and unnecessarily exposed his child to danger while Krypton lived. Though, we are sure that Krypton is gone, and so are all his inhabitants (save one). Superman himself has privately shown a hologram of his parents with their last words, and their environment seemed to be in a state of imminent destruction. Secondly, in the aftermath of a scam by unknown terrorist organizations involving letting people believe kryptionans intended on colonizing Earth, Luthercorp released a series of videos generated on a now destroyed device, displaying Krypton in a short span before its destruction. The videos from the terrorists, which strangely coincidence with the videos of Luthercorp, show the Kryptonians going into war and having a wide array of weapons and war machines. It was later discovered that those images stem from a time not too short from the planet’s demise, of something alien attacking the planet and leveling a big city. Some while after that, a civil War ignited stemming from the trauma of the alien invasion urging to an establishment of an authority. However, the peaceful nature and disgust for authority from most of the Kryptonians resisted the call for fascism and the lead perpetrators were in some way banished. But in the final images of their world falling apart, even the smartest man on Earth could not conclude whether it was the sun, the planet or something else exploding.
It seemed that whatever caught the Kryptonians, did it suddenly. And the craft which Kal El escaped with might have been made some while ago.  And that the event, whatever it was, captured the Kryptonians too fast to evacuate the whole planet, yet not too fast to prevent Jor-El and his wife to send their son on a trip to 

This will be my final hypothesis:

If your environment has a conscience, large enough to generate a whole new dimension, then could it be that somehow it could revolt against that which it deems harmful? Krypton is known for originally being a vicious planet, where everything could kill you in the blink of an eye. The Kryptonian people rose to being on top, exploiting their environment to ensure their survival and state of being, and even rising to another dimensional plane. What if the sum of the conscience from every material ever, detected them, shunned them for being different, and then evaporated them all? It would be as if everything around them was falling apart and turning against them. An Earth viewer would have no idea whats happening to these people in another plane of existence, and merely see it as “things getting destroyed”. It got to them all, conquering them all, and perhaps in a desperate final act, the Kryptonians destroyed their own planet. It might have even been Jor-El himself. His son existing on a different plane of existence, his wife could have extracted their DNA and formed a child based on random genetic mixing, a first in thousands of years. But still, while partially severed from the dimension of his parents, he would still have been visible from the conscience of the vengeful planet Krypton, wherever he’d go. So then, Jor-El, who had been chief science officer and former best friend of the greatest War General of Krypton, deployed a spiritual/physical bomb to free his son from the burden of the past. So he’d live a life on a new world, take upon a new family and name and take that world as his own. Learning from the world and giving something back. Teaching the people to avoid the path of violence and exploitation so that one day, we might live in peace with the collective conscience of our planet.


[1] source: Guy Gardner, Green Lantern
[2]  Lois Lane, Interview with Superman
[3] Morrison, Supergods
[4] Byrne, a four issue essay “The Man of Steel” (also see, Snyder)
[5] Siegel and Shuster  first came up during the first appearance of Superman.
[6] Discussed by Snyder.
[7] The Singer-notation, by Bryan Singer.
[8] Examples by the short lived Philosopher’s Four brain-tank. (G.Morrison, M.Waid, Peyer, and M. Millar).
[9] The Donner-solution
[10] Superman Red Son, M. Millar

zondag 24 maart 2013

Why Batman is my Role Model

Why Batman is my rolemodel.
Those who know me either intimately or platonically know I harbor a deep affinity for superheroes and most especially for Batman. Sometimes this affinity borders to the edge of obsession from which many are, understandably, creep out. What sane person of my age would dive so deeply into the legend of the Dark Knight? – There are so many important things out there, like politics, economics and even social events. The most likely answer would be that the state of such business depresses me so much I flee into escapism fiction to avoid dealing with those matters. Well, that is partially true, but there is much more behind it. With this short, uhm, essay I will allow you a glimmer in my mind – and I’ll try to avoid such pretentious words like I just did. I will show you why I love Batman so much, and why these reasons differ from many other Bat-lover who have watched the same animated series, movies, comics and whatnot like me. So, why does Batman affect me, Zerachiel van Mark, in such an intimate way that differs from other people?

Let’s first start with some background information. I will ignore the stuff everyone probable knows or are unnecessary in my explanation later on. Let’s start with young Bruce Wayne who goes out one night with his parents to the movies/play. Either after the movie/play is over, or during it, the family leaves the building and is gunned down on the street – leaving Bruce as sole survivor. Now there are several origins, and all show the parents death in flashbacks while incorporating the exact events in the main story. In the Frank Miller origin, Year One, the death of his parents leads Bruce to travel the world to strengthen him to fight crime. After coming back, he fails his first mission and while in a wounded state and half delirious, sees a bat crashing through his windows. This makes him realize that physical strength is not enough, but he has to play into the emotions of criminals. The origin of the Tim Burton movies and latter two following movies state it was a trauma Bruce endured as a kid with a bat that made him decide make his personal fear into the fear of all Gotham’s crime. The Christopher Nolan movies have the ingenuity of mixing several of these elements together.  Young Bruce endures the trauma, and his parents get killed when they exited the ballerina play early on his request. This gives Bruce survivors guilt about causing his parents death – his traveling around the world was less a mission to fight crime than it was to escape from himself. Eventually, in the cult of The League of Assassins, he learns to face and embrace his fears. He also gets a sense of patriotism towards his city, and will do everything he can to fight the corruption inside. The idea of Batman comes to him spontaneously, in a realization that one man can be killed, corrupted and even broken – but a symbol lasts forever. One to inspire people, to become a supernatural force that cannot be shot or bought.  As a note, I will also bring up the movie “Mask of Phantasm” which gave Bruce an escape clause to his oath to his parents. A love interest that gives him a chance to leave Batman behind before it even started, and to instead start a family. But once again the corruption within Gotham strikes and she is driven away, and later into another of the city pawns. The idea of Gotham City being a living demon entity will also be addressed later on. Most importantly in the animated movie, we see the love interest, Andrea, being turned into a creature of the night not unlike Batman. And thus we are shown WHY Batman is special, even among his peers of costumed vigilantes.
I feel like I should also talk about the Bat-family, since in a way they are also essential to my point. I do consider the Bat-family, consisting of the various Robins, Nightwing, Oracle, Batgirl, Batwoman, The Bat, Huntress and Oracle, on the same league as Batman rogues like Joker, Two-Face, Riddler etc. Let’s compare them to the Tarot cards: We have the Higher Arcana consisting of Gotham City, Arkham Asylum, The Bat Signal, the Cave, the Butler, the Death and the Awakening. And next we have the inhabitants of these grand scenarios and environments: the Lower Arcana who are fragmented pieces of Batman himself.  The rogues however are fragmented pieces more akin to the Joker, who can be considered the flipside of the coin that is Batman.
Now, I can write another whole essay about this Deck of cards, which I have only barely begun scratching the surface within a short paragraph, but my understanding and analysis of the deck has not even been completed. When it is, if it will ever be, I can assure only few will lay eyes on it.

But, now to answer the question in bold, why do I love Batman? Simply because I am Batman.
As you know, the key of a profitable product (which make no mistake, Batman is without doubt the ACE of capitalism) within a franchise of fiction is that the main character should be likeable. He should be relatable to kids in a way they can imagine being him. The more he is in their thoughts, the more they’ll bug their parents to buy Batman toys and Batmobils and whatnot.  Batman is a shallow device to attract money for his owner. He is a prostitute rather than a role model, and not even the kind the Queen of Paramaribo  used to be. A corporate sellout that takes a more kid friendly appearance during the Silver Age of comics and adopt a cute 5th dimensional creature (Batmite)like was the trend for cartoons of that time, just to appease children.  The reason he became a darker creature of the night in the comic world during the seventies was that the sales were failing and editors were desperate to try ANYTHING to restore the sales. And not two years ago editors were desperate again and rebooted his whole universe, making him younger – because old guys are ewwww to tweens – and cramming the existence of four Robins (because they were popular) in a mere five years.  But I’m not here to rage about that. I’ve made points to show why I should hate him. But I don’t, and why is that?
Because fuck DC comics Batman. The Batman that was formed in my mind has grown his own life, like he has done into the minds of many others. We all have a personal reason we love Batman – one we keep secret because it’s too damn childish. All these goofy stuff worked perfectly in putting Batman in our minds, but within our minds we have molded him – this corporate piece of plastic – into something living.  Based on our selves, so yeah, in our mind we are all Batman in some extent. But I’m not here to tell you why you are Batman; I’m here to tell you why I am Batman.
Tell me, how many friends did Batman have during his childhood? Answer: not many. In fact, before the murder of his parents he didn’t seem to have any friends, save Thomas Elliot who later became the villain Hush, but this was a retcon so let’s leave him out. Bruce was a loner during his childhood, pre and post Death. This has left him disconnected with other people. Sure he can blend in, act goofy and sleep with women like a total player. But even within his world his environment sees it as him acting out on witnessing his parent’s murder as a child. Like Bruce, I can act to blend in. I can say hi to people and inform to their wellbeing – but do I actually care? Well not always. I certainly don’t wish everyone ill who I see. Just like Bruce has in various degrees people he can talk to and trust, just like him I have those kind of people I care about. I have the ability to care about other people, but it seems like I can’t really connect to any at all. Even those whom I trust more and care more about, seem emotionally appalled from me.  Just like Batman has his loneliness, I have my loneliness.
But how can anyone say Batman is lonely with all his freaking Bat-family? He’s a member of the Justice League, founder of the Outsiders, CEO of Batman Inc. has three adoptive sons and one biological, a network of geniuses for stationed assistance during his missions, a friend/enemy with benefits, and a father figure. He seems far from a lonely avenger!
Well, lets compare this to Ed, a fictional kid from Facebook who has 1000 Friends online, all of whom can provide him with money, entertainment, food and even virtual sex. Great friendships…but who does Ed have in real life? Does he go out and talk to new people? Does he have a job that enables him contact with people? An actual girlfriend? No he doesn’t, he is alone within himself. There is an haiku about being alone within a crowd, and I believe Batman is a crowd in his loneliness. His bat-family is an extension of himself.  He is not alone, but in some way with all these people around he is never leaving his comfort zone and meeting people unlike himself.
Second: while Superman is considered the Sun God meant to expose the hidden snake (Lex Luthor) within the Golden City (Metropolis), Batman is considered a knight who trained himself to see the shining stars and give them a chance to shine bright within a dark city that seems to be alive and malicious. How about this for a contrast? I promised to talk about Gotham, and now I will. The nature and certain aspects of Gotham were added gradually during the run of early and latter Batman stories. Slowly, the city became much more than a knock-off to New York / Chicago, and more into a monster itself. It became the ultimate villain that lies dormant, a machine that produces more monsters with every step. In the beginning it was the mafia that terrorized the city, soaked the alleyways with murders and chopped off fingers. It orphaned a young boy, turning him into a monster himself. But this monster tried to fight the mob within the city, but when succeeded, the city threw something worse at him. Something on his on level: the Joker, the Riddler, Two face, etc etc. All normal humans who in some way got twisted into horrors that stalk the night and spill gallons of blood on the main streets of Gotham. In recent development, it was shown that through its own ancient infrastructure and history, Gotham was an evil entity. Still Batman continues the fight against the city, recognizing the people worth saving inside. Realizing if a monster like him can fight for good, everyone has the potential to do so. He doesn’t kill criminals, because everyone deserves a chance to proof right – and because he’s afraid that if he removes one such servant of the city, Gotham will throw something worse back at him.
So how in hell do I relate to that? In every sense. As an anarchist, I believe Gotham is the world. The human world at least. With its corrupt institutes like governments, churches and schools meant only to take the newborn people of the this earth and turn them into their servants. Blind, obedient to their cause only. This world-city is a chaos himself. It’s never only one big baddie in charge here, it’s always small fractions (governments) who either work independently or together to suppress people. Do I intend to fight them? Is this where my note turns into a dark foreshadowing of another school-shooting or a terror-attack?
Well re-reading my note now, even I see it going in that direction. But let’s make this clear: I have no intention of physically attacking the world. I don’t want to wear a mask and shoot at things in a hope to make it better. This is Corporate Batman way of doing things, and considering he’s been fighting crime for more than 80 years now I don’t believe his way actually works. I think I made it pretty clear I’m not supportive of real-live Superheroes or vigilantes. This is not my way of fighting.
I am thematically inspired by Batman, using the own fear of criminals to destroy themselves. Governments will, as William Godwin intended, destroy themselves – though not due to a self-realization of its own failings and altruism. At this moment governments are running on the fear of people, they exist solely to play into the fears of the people. They are the big daddy holding the hands of the people and comforting them, never letting their child grow up or too far out of range. If we can eliminate this fear out of the people, make them grow up as a global society, the needs for a government – ANY kind will be unnecessary. But I’m not here to talk about this yet. Why in fact, I’m still too uneducated to talk even more about it.
So this brings me back to Batman. The difference between Batman and all the so called Real Life Superheroes? Batman trained himself for years. DC might’ve had this crazy idea of making Batman as young as possible to connect to the masses of kids, but in my mind Batman must already have hit 30 when he took on the cowl. If he ran away from home at 17 or 19, then he’d have spent more than 10 years educating in law, science and martial arts. Sure he pushed his body and mind like no other, and had an incredible dedication, but even the best martial artist know it’s not how hard you train in a short time, but how consistent you train that will achieve better result.
And same here. I’m not exactly dropping my family and school to dive into anarchism and think of ways to make the world better, I’m following a plan. Every day I learn new stuff about anarchism, and the great thing about education is that it never ends. There is no regulated timing or graduations involved in real education. I have years ahead of me (hopefully) and sure, I could die tomorrow and all my plans are up in smoke. I don’t care. The city will produce someone else, hopefully someone more driven. How bad things might get, there will always be a light. It balances it own it own. I wasn’t born with a job description: be a janitor, be an accountant, be Batman…I was born as any human, totally pointless. I do as I wish, and I wish to be educated. I drive to better the world, in one way or another.
And when, at some point I think I have educated myself well enough, I’ll come back to the city and hopefully teach people to follow a better path. And I hope that by that time, I’ll have both my family and my allies to assist and support me. 

donderdag 3 januari 2013

Wonder Woman: Love and Murder

I’ve been sitting on this for a week now. Time by time postponing the review because dammit, this is too hard. But let’s start at the beginning.
By some means (not illegal, trust me) I came in possession of a gift card of fifty euro. While strolling through the bookstore a philosophical problem came upon me. Shouldn’t I spend my hard earned money on a book I really like, and a book of uhm meh quality with money I got? So after 3 hours of indecisiveness I finally stumbled upon this Wonder Woman comic. In the literature fiction section. A DC comic just randomly stuck with other prose novels.
Yeah my country is odd.
So, back to this horrible horrible comic. Lets first see the cover.

Yeah, that’s a very very big author’s title there. JODI PICOULT. In fact, its bigger than anything else on the comic, just a bit smaller than Wonder Woman there, who is making an uninteresting pose. Yeah, that really catches my attention. A black background and a pose. We can’t have a scene in the comic to hint what it might be about, because hahahaha people might be interested in this. On the upside that is a well drawn wonder woman. Yeah, boobs and buts accentuated sides unnatural thin. That looks like every woman I’ve seen, and all the girls who don’t look like that should hunger themselves out to fit the ideal.
Yeah I went there, no its not nitpicking.
So anyways, Jodi Picoult, henceforth named JP, starts this soft cover TPB with an introduction about her experiences. This is little extra content, but I’m happy with it. I’m less happy here to see that JP claims it was her idea to resurrect both Wondie’s mother, Hypothelia and the sorceress Circe. She claims she wants to “explore” the mother daughter relationship while also pitting Wondie to a villain that matches her. Odd. When writers want to explore relationships, they sometimes create characters who in some way connect to the main character. Like in the Cassandra Cain solo Batgirl series she gained a friend at a local shop while also a possible love interest at a rock party.  And with the narrative thoughts and interactions with others we can see how she feels and acts when the topic of parents are brought up (her dad is a murderer and her mother an assassin). Wondie’s mother has been dead for quite a while, and in this issue, Love and Murder, we see her resurrection by the hand of the villainess Circe.

Who was also deceased.

Okay. A little interruption with backstory about the writer. Jodi Picoult is already well known for her prose novels Nineteen Minutes, Change of Hearts and many others. She’s an acclaimed writer and this book is her premier to comics (and if I did my research adequately, her last endeavor into the medium). So…this is definitely a writer who can write well.

So how did this turd happen?

Well before I recap the story, let’s go a bit in the background of WW.
Pre-crisis Wonder Woman (pre-crisis indicates the comics before Crisis on Infinitive Earths where reality god rebooted) was an Amazonian from the island Themyscira, living till adulthood exclusively around women. She ventured into “Man’s world” to learn more from the outside world and teach them about equality and stuff. Also, bondage. Lots and lots of bondage. But that’s the implicit stuff. After the famous asshole psychiatrist exampled Wondie as a negative example for girls (being strong, fighting and social roles not fitting for a woman) writers bonded her down for a while, making her as helpless and useless as any female character at that time. Well of course there was a time pre-crisis where the comic world matured a bit, and more social relevant stories were written. Wondie regained her original personality and had a many good time adventures, writers blissfully ignoring the many continuity errors plaguing comics at that time. Is it weird to team up with your teenage and baby self from previous timelines? Don’t tell Wondie.

Then the Crisis struck. During crisis, Earth 1 Wonder Woman got hit and apparently killed, turning back into the clay she was originally formed. Earth 2 Wonder Woman saw her world wiped out, alongside many of her friends. The Greek Gods invited residence among themselves, and so the original Diana of Themyscira ascended to Olympus. Of course, Crisis on Infinitive Earths was a structural strategy to sort the DC universe world and make things less complicating…by making it more complicating. See, the CoIE could’ve worked perfectly if writers weren’t so hung up to EXACTLY KEEP CONTINUITY AS IT WAS. For example: both Dick Grayson and Jason Todd were to be Batman’s Robin, but since the characters were too similar, they changed Jason to be annoying and unlikable. This resulted in his death. Meanwhile Frank Miller got the note to reinvent Batman’s origins, which he did. But then introduced lt. Gordon as a starting family guy with a baby son. And no daughter. But writers liked the daughter and didn’t know what to do with the son, so for the next twenty years they made complicated stories to shove the son out of Gordon’s life and introduced Babs as a step-daughter-cousin or something. But I digress. With the Wondie they wanted to keep the feminism part alive, and also the mythological part. So her story was that her mother formed her out of clay and the various God’s bestowed her life and abilities. She lived and trained with the Amazonian warriors, until she ventured out to Man’s world to learn more and teach compassion.

There were a lot of hit and miss stories, but between the periods of CoIE and Infinite Crisis (the sequel) Wonder Woman had proven time and time again to be a strong and confident character. She spends as much time among the people as she did the heroes, and even developed many friends and relationships. She helped bridge her home-island Themyscira with the outside world, and was thus appointed Ambassador. Both worlds prospered with the exchange of magic and technology. She wrote a damn philosophy book. So what changed?

Just before the events of Infinite Crisis Superman and Batman were captured and almost killed by former-friend-now-foe Maxwell Lord. To save Superman’s life Wonder Woman was forced to snap his neck – though this got recorded and streamed worldwide, making everyone afraid of Wonder Woman and paranoid of other “ruthless” Amazonians. Which makes no sense. Superman knows what happened, he might’ve not forgiven her for saving his LIFE in expense of Lord, but at least he could’ve floated down to Earth and explained what happened. He might’ve not approved of Wondie’s deed, but it did SAVE him and he OWES her to clarify things to the people. They saw those images out of context, and thus had only one opinion about it. Sigh but I digress (noticed I didn’t even start talking about the comic yet).

All right so IC happened, day was saved, Superman forgave WW yabayabayaba. STILL the people are paranoid of Amazonians and afraid of Wondie. In Love & Murder we even see WW’s toys getting cancelled and replaced, among WW losing her image as a hero. In fact, in her secret identity (I will address that in a minute) she is even ordered to bring Wonder Woman in!
Well quick info about her secret identity. During an previous run on WW, the writer had an ingenious idea to give this ONE superhero who didn’t need a secret identity, a secret identity. Because she needed to be “closer” to the people she saved daily. So she could “feel to be human.” Dude didn’t realize that Wondie IS human, albeit super powered, but she lived among people her whole life and the outside world for the past ten to fifteen years? (DC comics is like an top model; they refuse to accept the passing of age). All right, I’ll give ya the benefit of the doubt. Tell me, genius writer, what job will bring her closer to the life of a normal human?

Secret fucking agent.

Wait, don’t misread that. I mean she’s a spy. A secret agent going on dangerous mission all over the world. Please lets agree to visit the writer’s house and force a facepalm on him. So that’s where this comic starts. Jodi Picoult writing WW in her secret identity as secret agent, ordered to bring herself as WW in.

She has a partner called Tom Trevor, who is a shapeshifter. Do you like shapeshifters? You better cuz this comic is plagued by them. Admittedly there is some fun characterization here. A bit of chemistry between Tom, showing his playful sides when he’s alone or with Wondie, but a strict side when he’s working. There is humor, a few laughs, and some heart touching stuff.

One thing that bothers me though…

THIS IS NOT WONDER WOMAN. That…woman that calls herself Diana Prince and claims to be WW, just isn’t her. WW lived among the outside world for YEARS. She knows how use money – she wrote a philosophy book! She knows what coffee is – She wrote a damn Book! – She knows HOW to refuel a damn car – SHE WROTE A DAMN BOOK. This characterization would work if it was someone else, ANYONE else. Someone new from Themyscira even. But no, Wondie is a total dumb-ass here. She doesn’t feel like she’s human – which she clearly is! –and doesn’t know how to use basic mechanics in society. This is like Superman suddenly not knowing how trains work, or complaining how he feels detached from society. Hell even in All-Star Superman when his mind and body was ascending to a higher level he felt closer to humans and his loved ones than ever.

But the writers weren’t planning on telling a WW story – no no, they wanted a fish out of the water WW story. Didn’t want to check continuity or actually read some good WW stories to see how WW works from the inside. Jodi Picoult who is known for doing precarious research before she writes, plainly writes WW as the most dullest and Hollywood-cliché character, relying on the contrast of WW being alien to the society to tell a story rather than live in WW as she’s supposed to.

This review is way too long.

To sum this up: Wondie and Tom are tasked to find WW and bring her in. Tom gets kidnapped by a now-returned Circe and Wondie goes saving him. After trying to find shelter and info about Circe, Wondie walks into a trap and is captured by her own agency. Circe returns to Themyscira and resurrects Wondie’s mother, telling her her daughter was kidnapped by the USA. Meanwhile Wondie gets tortured and interrogated about “Amazonian weapon technology”. Tom Trevor uses his shapeshifting abilities to free Wondie, and the two escaped from the base.

That is part one, and the best part of the comic. But trust me, good it isn’t. But part two is even worse. Especially since to what it will lead to..

So Wondie and Tom are free, but they are in Washington DC and they see some parts are ravaged. Wondering what’s going on, they find out the DC heroes fighting against Amazonians. After some very confusing dialogue we learn that the Amazonians under guidance of Wondie’s mum have attacked Washington DC. The funniest subtext is them smashing an obelisk (hi hi). Well there is some chatting and oh hey they meet Circe again, who for some reason is holding a box with “deadly Amazonian weapon technology”. After a fight Circe is killed…by WW’s mom. Another fight breaks out and Tom gets the box in possession, but accidently opens it. And it reveals…the most deadliest Amazonian Weapon!


My god.

Dumbasses of the USA, please feel free to use these “deadly Amazonian weapons” to your advantage. Oh wait they do, Tom gets stung and is mere “hours” away from dying. So then our comic ends with Wondie facing her mother challenging to choose between her disillusioned ethics or her daughter’s life.
For those who have not read the comic and are unaware, Wondie’s mum is INSANE.

I hate this comic. I’m happy I didn’t pay a single cent for it and I’m happy no one else paid to get this copy. This comic does two things right: it blatantly disregards Wonder Woman as an unique and iconic character and her whole of continuity, and makes her dumb and dull. And it also targets her mother, and all of the Amazonians just for the sake of story.

Second: it’s an offensive attempt for allegory (the Amazon/Washington war satirizing the Iraq war) where they turn an island of independent free-thinking feminist into shallow misogynist. Many times we’ll see the Amazon’s killing without thought or compassion, just because the enemy is from Man’s world. Many times they regard to the outside world as a lower species that needs to be exterminated or ruled. DC comics turned the Queen of the Amazon’s into the stereotype of the “angry feminist” who always rants about injustice towards women and men being the cause of all evil.  DC thinks that Wondie killing Maxwell Lord is the issue that makes her unpopular in her world, but the real issue is them insulting feminist all over the world using one of the most popular female characters ever.

I may have omitted this in my anger, but the events of Love and Murder lead directly into the company wide event “Amazon Attacked” a series so utterly criticized people actually mailed back their copies of it to DC. It is an event full of needless padding, dumb characters and offensive violence just to make a buck.

And this comic lead to it all. *punches comic*.

1/5 stars (art is adequate though unrealistic).


maandag 17 december 2012

Ultimate Spiderman Vol 14: Warriors (#79-#85)

Ultimate Spiderman Vol 14: Warriors (#79-#85)

I don’t think I need to recap much about the Ultimate Line. In 2000 Marvel decided to refresh their characters by recreating them in the Ultimate world, giving them a modern origin-story and more realistic versions of previous plots. Ultimate Spider-man was the first (Micheal Brain Bendis and Mark Bagley) and with the success of the series followed as acclaimed long-term serials like Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimate X-men and the summer blockbuster comics The Ultimates vol 1 to 3. But let’s first focus on Ultimate Spider-man Vol 14, the Warriors arc.
Why this specifically? Well I feel this being one of the weaker arcs (not the strongest, but there are definitely so weak arcs in USM) where we go in-depth on Peter Parker, his relationship (or the rather the lack of) with Mary-Jane and the introduction of Ultimatized (heheh) characters like Iron Fist, Shang-Shi, Hammerhead and of course Moon Knight (who wears white to a superhero fight? – Spidey). I feel that this arc had a lot of potential and was certainly epic, but stripped down to characters and plot something lacking and juggling. So lets get to it.

Peter and Mary-Jane broke up, because Peter believes MJ brings herself unnecessary into danger during his superheroing. In an annual issue, Peter meets Kitty Pride of the X-men and the two start dating. Kitty doesn’t appear during this arc though, she seems to be grounded. Meanwhile because of Spidey’s previous actions, the Kingpin had been forced to lay low for a while and the mafia-head Hammerhead (hehe, I’m cracking it up today) aspires to take Fisk’s place as the new Kingpin.
We meet the big baddy Hammerhead while he converts the Kingpin’s old crew – the Enforcers – to his own, and then orders the building to be burned. All about sending a message. Spidey sees the fire and goes to help potential people trapped inside, but he is suddenly assaulted by Moon Knight who suspects him of working with Hammerhead. After a bit of fighting and mocking (who wears white at a superhero fight??) The two split as police enters the scene.
So then we start at Peter in class while he’s contemplating why he broke up with MJ. After getting sick of the teacher, he insults him and walks away to do some Spidey work. He proclaims that as Peter he feels useless but as Spider-Man he is actually doing something for the city, and would rather crawl in his Spider world for good.
Meanwhile, Shang-Shi and Iron Fist meet in a Chinese restaurant, the latter just released from prison. But their conversation is stopped when Hammerhead and his crew comes in the restaurant and claims it as his territory, seizing protection money. SS and IF fight through the crew, and even Spidey shows up to knock Hammerhead down….with a broken hand instantly realizing why he’s called Hammerhead.  But then Black Cat shows up and a very annoyed Hammerhead throws a grenade. Black Cat saved Spidey from the grenade and fled to a rooftop. After a bit of talking (Felicia’s father was murdered by William Fisk the Kingpin, and vowed revenge under the name Black Cat) BC makes out with Spidey by only opening up the mouth part of his mask.
Later on, Spidey investigates Fisk’s building but is greeted by Elektra who invites him in. Surprisingly Spidey follows and after a funny scene in the elevator he is brought to Fisk. The Kingpin gives him the address of Hammerhead’s lair and asks him to take him out. Because Hammerhead is much much crueler than Fisk, and should rather be stopped now than when becomes the new Kingpin. Even Spidey’s ally, the police detective Jeanne DeWolfe encourages him to follow Fisk’s advice.

-insert montage scene of Shang-Shi and Iron fist getting into costumed and pumped up, while playboy billionaire Marc Spector (Wait a darn sec-) sees the sun going down and gets in costume – 

Spidey visits the address the Kingpin gave him, but catches Black Cat sneaking around. She says she wants to help Hammerhead rise to power so he can overthrow Fisk and she can have her revenge. Afterwards she’ll help Spidey bring down Hammerhead too, she promises. After another kiss, they hear noises in the building and barge in.

Cue the most epic thing you’ll ever see in a comic gang war.
We have Hammerhead with his goons pulling their guns on Iron Fist and Shang-Shi while Elektra has her weapons raised against Hammerhead and Moonknight lurking on the ceiling. And Spidey and BC just jumped in the middle of this all.

favorite quote:
- Hammerhead

So the next issue starts off with Hammerhead calling a pause to the situation. He immediately buys Elektra from Fisk, and then even Black Cat volunteers to work for him – much to Spidey’s dismay. So then the fight starts and literally everyone throws a punch or kick to everyone, seeing how no one knew each other’s motivation or side. But after some spectacular but jumbled pages, Spidey gets sick of this all and rage-webs everyone tight to their place. The fight is just frozen as everyone is stuck in the webs, and Spidey casually picks up a phone to call the police to sort this all out. This is definitely the one of the funniest thing’s I’ve read. All of the characters are in some way insulting or scolding Spidey and we see him just getting annoyed by this all. But while the police is underway, Elektra manages to get herself free and throws her Sai to spidey, scarcely missing him. More characters use their knives and sharp claws to get free, and Hammerhead finds his gun empty. As the fight continues Elektra smashes Spidey through the window and he’s dropped on an arriving police car. Moon Knight is stabbed by Elektra and after Hammerhead blurs he won’t be able to pay her, she beats him up and throws him out of the window too. Black Cat and her battle, but before she can kill Black Cat, a moon-shaped boomerang (Moonerang?) is thrown in the back of her head.
Well, in the end all the heroes escape and BC and Spidey flee to another rooftop. BC claims she was stupid to use Hammerheads as a means to get to Fisk, and promises Spidey to be more responsible. And then, with the promise of sex, the about 25 year old Black Cat removes Spidey’s mask to see a fifteen year old face.

She barfs on his costume and flees.

So what did I think of this arc? Well its not bad in my eyes, and one of my favorites. Especially because it has some epically comical scenes, and Moon Knight. From all the Ultimate supporting characters, Moon Knight was fleshed out the most – though its not much. We see he has four personalities inside him, two grown men, a little girl and Moon Knight himself. We know that Iron Fist was a prisoner once who couldn’t control his rage but is all right now, and Shiang-Shi…owns a restaurant or something. So the characters are not what really drive this story. Plot wise it seemed okay aside from Fisk asking Spidey to take care of Hammerhead while he knows Spidey doesn’t do this kind of stuff, and then also sending Elektra to kill him off.  Also, during the last chapter when Moon Knight is wounded, Hammerhead manages to pull off his mask and make a picture of his face, mumbling with still his mouth webbed, “I own you!” but this plot point gets no where as HH is thrown out of a window later. Second, there is a difference between a 25 year old body and a 15 year old. How did BC not notice that? She kissed him without mask, wouldn’t she notice something? Even in the new Spider-man movie you can’t really believe that’s a 17 year old playing spidey, but rather a 19 year old at most (the actor is in his twenties). But aside from this the comic had some great gags and epic moments. I like to see a Spider-man movie that associates with the mob just like TDK did; I think the realism would do a grounded character like Spidey good. Less of a CGI villain at the end and more a moral dilemma.
The art is classic Bagley and does very well to convey emotion while also having some pretty rad action scenes.
Check it out for yourself.

Three out of Five stars