Is Marvel Creatively Bankrupt?

I must admit, my true love are really independent comics, but being the incorrigible tart I really am, I can’t stay away from my first love; mainstream comics, specifically, the Big Two. I will forever be enthralled and take great comfort from the epic, glossy offerings of these two behemoths and as long as they keep producing, I will always stick my nose over the fence and take a gander.

However, of late, I have developed something of a bad taste in my mouth regarding these publications, specifically toward Marvel.

While dubious at first regarding DC's New 52 relaunch, I was also enormously impressed with the sheer BALLS of their decision to relaunch the whole line and even though there have been as many hits as misses, I think the notion of bringing in new readers and expanding their universe was something, ultimately, to be applauded.

On the other side of the fence, however, Marvel seem to have missed the mark with their Marvel Now relaunch and in the process, have revealed something about themselves they might have wished otherwise;

They’re out of ideas.

That’s right, the house of ideas is out of them. Creatively bankrupt. Inspirationally down the pooper.

Need proof? Sure. Here ya go, disbeliever!

CYCLOPS

Whilst never the most popular of characters, Scott Summers always had something a lot of characters didn’t; Respect. He was a solid character who held true to his beliefs and in his own way, to those who cared to see it, Cyclops was just as great a hero as Captain America and his ilk. So what does Marvel do? They make him a villain. That’s right, they completely subvert his character and turn him into something he quite simply is not. If you had previously been a fan or admirer of his character, you were suddenly left with nothing to hold onto of the original and if you were a new reader, you were left confused as to his motives, reasons, history and his dorky new outfit, which must make driving impossibility! Clumsily handled and incredibly laboured, Cyclops has become a confused character; indicative of the universe he now exists in.

But wait, there’s MORE!

Not content to do this to one of the long term classics, Marvel then decide to give new meaning to the word ‘convoluted’ and using the old Deus Ex of time travel, bring back the ORIGINAL Cyclops from the past!

But, but, if you wanted the original all along Marvel, WHY DID YOU F#$K WITH THE ORIGINAL IN THE FIRST PLACE!?!?

It seems like a big show down is imminent between the original and the bastardized versions of the character, but the big question is; why bother? It just reeks of bad writing to me and it just feels like Marvel can’t be arsed making up any new characters when they can just take a monumental s#$t on our collectives pasts by unnecessarily tinkering with their established characters.

Which brings me nicely to…

NOVA

Richard Rider worked. As a character he was solid. He had a history, fan support and was well loved and popular, especially during the Annihilation epic and it’s subsequent storylines.

So what do Marvel do?

Replace him with some unknown little squirt.

Why change something that is working? Why screw your fans like that?

Again, it just sounds like an easier option than actual good writing. Instead, Marvel have opted for an initial run of good sales on a new launch which will inevitably run out of steam and then get axed when a relaunched Richard Ryder Nova could do the same thing, but have a better chance of lasting due to a loyal and already committed fan base.

It is just bad business.

CREATORS

Okay, so Jonathan Hickman did a great job on Fantastic Four and Rick Remender’s X Force was pretty awesome, but have any of the ‘Marvel Architects’ done anything to earn their vaunted positions, besides acting as a mutual masturbation society? Jason Aaron’s Hulk was a disaster, Bendis’ vastly over rated Avengers run just should have been issue after issue containing drawings of the bottom of a barrel being scraped and Brubaker's Captain America has long become stale and confused. Matt Fraction, on the other hand, gets off the hook as he has always and consistently been crap.

Hats off to you , sir.

Now, wanting to inject some much needed vitality into their comics, Marvel have done the unthinkable; they’ve kept all the same creators. I know, I know, but to appear like they’re actually doing something, they’ve just swapped them all onto different titles!

Hey, you rmemeber those old classic stories where the Masters Of Evil would come up with the ‘master plan’ of switching heroes to fight as this would INEVITABLY end in victory?

Remember how much those stories sucked?

Yeah. It’s like that.

MARVEL NOW

Don’t be fooled. There is actually nothing new here.

Go through the list of titles launched and besides Morbius, they are essentially all the same titles they were releasing previously, only with different adjectives before the title and the content is now faaaaar more convoluted.

Does anyone really need a Red She Hulk comic? Does anyone really want to see young Avengers get killed? Does anyone really need to see X Men and Avengers on the same team? Wasn’t Wolverine’s awkward shoe horning into the Avengers enough pain for everyone!?!?!

Speaking of which….

WOLVERINE.

Don’t even get me f$#king started.

There are more, many more reasons, but I digress. I know many will disagree with me, but in all fairness… YOU'RE WRONG!!! :)

I hate to see such a potentially exciting and great company, as it has been in the past, reduced to such laziness and confusion. Comics are in a flux right now, sales dropping, medium changing, but that should, hopefully, encourage companies to expand their borders, not limit them.

It feels like Marvel is eating it’s own tail and only one thing can save it.

More Wolverine series.

Nah, just kidding.

The real answer is great stories that move forward, not piss on the past. Take what’s great about these characters and give them to writers who truly love them and want the m to shine.

Failing that, give them to me and I’ll do for Marvel what Stan Lee did for Marvel.

Yes, that’s right, I’ve been taken my modesty pills.

EXCELSIOR! (or something).

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How I Would Fix Marvel.

I hate Marvel.

This is no secret.

Yet, it hasn’t always been this way. In the 80's, i loved what they did, their stories being the most exciting out there and their universe being the most expansive and well tended playgrounds in comics. Over time, though it seems that Marvel have lost touch with their fan base and have strayed into a realm of business and callousness, their ideas becoming convoluted and straining the average comic buyers patience. Marvel Now might be a good start to Marvel polishing up their current image, but let me share with you some other things I think they should do;

Diversify

Do you like, spandex wearing crime fighters of an either street or cosmic level? Good, because you don’t get much else at Marvel.

Where DC have branched out with Vertigo and Image have diversified in the types of stories they choose to publish, it seems that Marvel have committed to a very narrow form of story telling and, perhaps in diversification, there may be more to offer readers.

The Max line was a good start, but really offered little more than a more violent version of existing characters. I think that the appeal of this is pretty limited and a poor substitute for more mature and intriguing writing, such as presented by Vertigo’s takes on existing characters. The Ultimate line is essentially the same as the normal 616 Marvel universe, except that Nick Fury’s black , Spider Man is dead and Jeph Loeb was a dick (Blob eats Wasp!?! REALLY!?!?).

With the massive array of characters at Marvels’ disposal, branching out into a wider variety of story telling would surely not be too much of a stretch. Satanna? Brother Voodoo? An ongoing Dr Strange series in the style of Brian Vaughan’s brilliant, The Oath run? There are a plethora of characters that would lend themselves to a Vertigo-style imprint. Sci fi comics? Does Marvel not have the most epic cosmic settings in all comicdom? Surely there would be a market for some hard sci fi based comics based on some of these properties? Westerns? Human dramas? As The New 52 proved, you don’t necessarily have to rely on imprints, but can simply release and increasingly diversified line up and, it seems, good comics do, fo the most part, attract interested readers.

And what about one of the biggest untapped markets in comics; books for the little ones?

Cater To The Li’l ‘Uns

As a parent who spends a lot of time with other parents and their kids, I know how much of a demand there is for comics that cater to younger sensibilities. Now, I know that these comics are made by Marvel, but what I find with my fellow parents is that they find them impossible to find. The average parent won’t go into a comic shop, but will buy comics from the local newsagent or supermarket.

You know how there are always comments in the Vine regarding people wondering how the hell Archie is still going strong after all these years? Well, I know why; they’ve no competition. I always see Archie and Sonic The Hedgehog comics at my local newsagent, but if I want to find a youngsters comic published by Marvel (DC, et al) then I’m s@#t out of luck. Marvels’ distribution of youngster comics out and out sucks and is a market they could surely excel in, especially with the recent buying of the company by Disney.

I can only assume that Marvel/Disney are simply biding their time before releasing a line of quality Disney Comics for kids (using Marvels’ talent stable) because, frankly, they would be mad not to.

Kids are the comic book buyers of tomorrow and there is going to be a huge slump in the market when our generation passes on if there’s no one there to pick up the torch. Comics for kiddies is a great place to start and utilize a market going unheeded presently. Accesibility and availability. Those are the keys here.

Reduce And Refine

As it has been proven time and time again, ol’ Frank Castle can’t carry a title of his own. Sure, he was big in the 90’s, but then, any ultra-violent, fascist comic character was. The rest of the time, he has coasted on big name talent, but let’s face it, The Punisher was always more effective on the fringes of the Marvel Universe and it was when he dwelled there that he really gained his fame and notoriety. So I say, put him back there. Remember Civil War? It was the psycho in the shadows Punisher that stood out the most.

I think the key to this point is as follows; reduce and refine.

Instead of expanding out the roster of comics being printed every month, why not focus these characters back into strong stories and making the Marvel Universe an actual universe again instead of a thinly spread sales ploy? Remember when the X-Men were in their glory days of massive sales due to the fact that their universe was so full and so exciting? There were so many characters to play with and such a huge universe to do it in. Then they started giving every mutant that showed up their own spin off series, some with multiple and the franchise has been diluted and confused now to the point where no one knows what to buy and why they’re buying it. I think things need to be funnelled so that the comics are fun and full again, continuity being a huge part of this.

It befuddles my tired brain why Marvel have, seemingly discarded the use of continuity when, firstly, it is important to their readers and, secondly, it actually improves sales. Continuity isn’t just a fan-boy nightmare inflicted on editors, but a through-line from one title and one character to the next. Continuity is important, it shows diligence and respect to the fans and the properties the company creates.

Let’s streamline these books. You know why Avengers doesn’t sell as much as it used to? Because the name doesn’t mean anything because there are about seven different teams at one time. To be an Avenger was something amazing (in comics that is) but now I think it’s pretty amazing if a character hasn’t been a member of the Avengers and they are so prevalent, i start to wonder if I've been a member of the Avengers.

And the X-Men used to be a team of outsiders, but now there are even more outsider X-Men teams and even more behind them. It’s like a sulking contest.

I think that Marvel need to start rewarding their readers with a better, more focused universe which will provide better storylines.

Which brings me to my next point…

Reward The Monthly Fan

Last year, the WWE found that the ratings were dropping on their weekly shows and made changes. The reasons were that nothing major was happening on the weekly shows anymore and all the big title changes/fights and stuff were being kept for the pay-per-views where people would have to pay to see any real action. This, quite obviously pissed fans off and they started to lose interest.

Well… guess who else does that to their fans?

It seems, reading Marvel comics for the past decade that nothing much happens in a lot of the headline comics but lead-ins to crossovers, crossovers themselves and then the inevitable fall out from the crossovers. To fully appreciate these you had to, at least triple your pull list for a couple of months and if you didn’t you got a lean, rather weak and badly paced story with a completely unsatisfying and rushed conclusion (Hello!!! Siege!!!!).

When Roy Thomas, Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, Peter David, etc wrote monthlies, you got epic… all the time. You didn’t feel like you were being fleeced monthly into buying the upcoming mega-disappointment, but you felt like you were really being taken into something excited that mattered to that particular title. This, of course, also made you feel like the creators gave a shit about what they were doing whereas, today, there is a general air of disdain and superiority from a lot of Marvel creators; towards the fans and toward the characters.

The comic book fan should be rewarded with great stories. Monthly.

The industry does not exist without them.

Stop looking for quick money making schemes, Marvel and start looking to the big picture. Long term sales; a healthy industry; a cultivated fan base; consistent quality of product.

Have a think about it, Marvel and when you’re ready to give me the keys to the kingdom, just let me know ;P

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HORROR INC: Alien Empire Pt. 7

Mikey paced frantically around his cell, his hands over his face in frustration.

Helpless, he watched as the creature on top of me began thrashing its great, skewered tail around and scratching its nails down my startled face. Its jaws were dripping what I only hoped was saliva into my own gaping maw and I could see the smaller, sharper set of teeth from within its black heart retracting, ready to strike. Norris stood crying. Laura lay on the floor, womb-like and screaming. And me?

I broke.

I felt the anger, the hatred and fear rise up in me as I saw reflected in the obsidian skull of that monster the face of my father, the face of Colonel Steerman as his life was torn from him, the faces of Norris and Laura and even Mikey, held captive by the fear generated by these creatures. Worst of all, I saw my own face, ashen, streaked with pain as they told me that that terrible power, that terrible power that had been unleashed in that moment I saw Steerman die had killed my father.

I had killed my father.

And in that moment I unleashed the full expression of my rage. Mikey dived to the ground, arms over his head as the glass to his cell shattered inward, the shards shattering in decrements until they hit his quivering body as nothing more than sand. My eyes blazed as the veins along my entire body formed tracks, rose up and channeled my energies out through a scream that scraped the bottom of my soul and bent the world around me. The wave of energy focused itself on the monster and gripped it causing the creature to squeal and lunge its snapping jaws at me, its arms held tight by its side. It whipped its tail at me but it was too late.

He was beyond me now.

No fate. No God. No intervention could save it now and I stared deep into the eyeless visage and spoke my piece to God.

“You have no home here.”

Then I eviscerated him. I closed my eyes and pulled the monster apart. I let my mind reach out and tear it to pieces; atom from atom, molecule from molecule until nothing remained. A small, hazy cloud fell where it had hung in the air, singeing the ground beneath it as it landed.

Then I fell into darkness, my body crashing against the floor in a state of complete shutdown. I was certain that I had fallen into the lands of the dead.

And in my heart, I knew there was no God on the other side.

* * *

PREVIOUS: Alien Empire Pt. 6

NEXT: Conclusion...

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Why The New 52 DOESN'T Work.

To begin with, let me just that I am not a hater of DC’s much touted New 52 relaunch. I think that in a time of declining sales and a transitional market, someone had to do something. DC should be applauded for taking the proverbial bull by the horns and trying something as radical as a company wide relaunch.

Mogo: Actual testicle size unverified.

Kudos to you DC. You’ve got balls as big as Mogo’s.

During this brave and unprecedented move, there have been some universal successes (Batman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Justice League Dark, Demon Knights) and some absolute stinkers (Hawk And Dove, Mr. Terrific, Justice League International, Hawkman) yet, in general, the revitalization of DC has been a success. Sales are up, media interest has been at a premium and a genuine enthusiasm has been instilled into comic fans and creators alike (the occasional dummy spit from creators such as Rob Liefeld and Greg Rucka notwithstanding).

Yet, through this success, there is an overwhelming feeling, from the pits of comic book fans stomachs, that the New 52 simply doesn’t work. Sure, it’s great that new readers have been brought in and many heroes have been given the chance to shine again, unfettered by decades of convoluted back story, yet there is one failing that over rides the entire line and it is this which, ultimately, might be the undoing of the entire project.

History.

Comic books and their characters are modern mythology. The worlds of DC and Marvel in particular are just as powerful and far reaching as those of the Norse, Greek or Roman pantheons and, in the future, will be just as ingrained in the psyche of society and culture as those images and ideas of Zeus, Thor, Loki and Hercules. Yet, what truly gives those ancient mythologies their power is their timelessness, or to be more specific, the amount of time they have existed.

Batman: Now first began his career the same year the Simpsons movie came out.

There is something truly magical about the history that is entwined in the tales of Asgard, or in the time span of the Argonauts, an almost mythic sense of the history itself. These stories are eternal and they reach back to a time we no longer understand, and in that is part of their intrigue. These tales have been adapted and re-adapted for each subsequent generation, their stories updated and revised, only to be taken back to their roots and the whole process started again. This is the same power that DC have always had, more than any other company as they have the unequalled history of comicdoms’ first hero, Superman, closely followed by Batman. Is there any richer mythology to draw from that that of these two heroes? Created in 1932, first published in 1938, Superman alone has over 70 years of history to play with and when I read one of his books, I get a sense of that history, that heritage and it informs every word and action.

Comics are unique in that way. No other medium has had the blessing to be able to continually follow a character on a regular basis over the course of seven decades. It is a unique privilege for comic book readers to be able to access that history every single time they pick up a Superman book.

Yet, the New 52 has denied access to that history.

By stating that it never happened, DC has denied their comics the very thing which gave them their true power.

A sense of history.

1938? What are you, high? Superman was created five years ago in the New 52!

Now, when I read Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman or The Justice League, I am constantly distracted by the fact that they have, supposedly, only been around for five years. It leaves me with a hollowness, a buzzing in my head which tells me that I can no longer access that mythology in the same way and that now, Superman is not an icon, is not the first hero, but is just a guy with powers, much like any other. Dick Grayson has always been one of my favourite characters, a big part of this comes from his service under Batman (as it were) for so many years and then going on and becoming his own person with the persona of Nightwing. Now that the whole process has been compressed to Dick only being Robin for a few years, closely followed by Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne, it devalues the character and his importance in the Bat-Mythology.

I no longer feel the same resonance with these characters and as great as some of the new stories are in the New 52, they ultimately feel empty and devoid of real weight.

I have waited to post this to see if that feeling might change. It hasn’t.

What’s the answer?

I certainly don’t think going backwards and reverting everything to what it was I the way to go. DC have committed to this path and I think it would be weak revert to a 'safe' status quo.

Swamp Thing: One of the success stories of The New 52

What I think needs to happen is that editors and writers need to really commit themselves to re-creating these characters with truly great new stories, truly great writing. Make us care about Superman again now that he is without that epic history. Give us a Batman that truly excites. Make the Justice League great again. We have seen some of this with Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder’s work on Animal Man and Swamp Thing, the Swamp Thing title being a particularly tough gig, what with the ever present of Alan Moore’s run hanging over the character. Yet the series is a resounding success and proof that great things can come from this.

If history is truly to be discarded (or severely condensed) in the new DC, then let’s hope that they start building a truly great new one.

Only time will tell if they're up to the task.

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ASPECT: Wonder Woman Pt. 1

Tiberis cried in pain as the whip cracked against his back.

How many blows had it been? The crowd of onlookers wondered on how many more he could withstand and as the blood spilled from the great wounds in his back onto the floor of the camp it felt that he might die before relenting. The Arch Sayer, Pantheon stood above him, the great whip of Attrition gripped tight in his hand, blood flowing down its handle and onto his great, calloused knuckles.

“Will you yield, Tiberis?” bellowed the Arch Sayer, his voice wearied and sick from the task at hand, “Do not make me continue this terrible deed, my Liege. Simply… yield.”

Pantheon was asking of Tiberis to give his loyalty, unbroken and unquestioned to the Goddess Gaia, ruler of the first kingdom. This, of course, was not in Tiberis’ power to do. Not because he was physically unable, but because his pride would not allow him. For his entire life, Tiberis and his kin had lived under the rule of the Goddess Gaea, she who saw over all Pangaea, the great land of the Celtic Tribes and had permeated all that she touched with her presence. As Tiberis had come of age he had become unsettled with this presence, the very air itself seeming to him to be permeated with a scent, the sickly smell of woman. He beseeched his father, the King of the people of Brigantes to open his senses to the wrongness all around them and to see that a terrible mistake had been made. His father, stubborn as all mules would not listen and when he passed, Tiberis’ gladly took his place as King. Immediately, he turned his attentions to the Great Council Of Brigantes and told them of his views, of his belief that Gaea, that woman was not meant to rule over men such as they and that it were time for them to take back their rightful position as rulers.

Blasphemy, cried the council and the Arch Sayer, the mighty Pantheon warned Tiberis of such heresy. Long had the Arch Sayers stood as ambassadors for Gaea in all her lands and none amongst them were more feared than Pantheon. He told Tiberis of the fate that would befall him if he continued upon such a path of heresy and Tiberis knew that the Arch Sayer was not a man of idle threat. Yet still this fire burned in Tiberis’ chest. Still a voice cried to him and in the darkest moments of night, he would seek its council, so soothing was its’ rage so wise were its’ words. It told him of the lies that Gaea had built her kingdom upon, of how she were not the first of the Gods to rise from Chaos and lay claim to the world of Pangaea. The voice told that there had been figures before her, figures of Man and that it were their right to rule, their right to lay claim to all before them, not Gaeas’. Tiberis knew that as long as the eyes of men were blinded by the words of Gaea they would never know freedom, so he set upon the terrible task of burning her from his world.

He set ablaze the churches of Gaea in his kingdom, followed by a band of zealots, he put fire to her beliefs and when his kingdom awoke the next day to see what had occurred, they thought their King lost to madness. The Arch Sayers soldiers dragged the King and his followers to the great podium at the centre of their empire and one by one, Pantheon cleft the followers heads from their bodies with his mighty sword, Tartarus. Of course, such a fate was not befitting of a King and having forced the King to his knees, his tunic ripped from his torso, Pantheon proceeded with the whip of Attrition. It was unseemly for a King to die with madness upon his lips and, if there were no option but to execute Tiberis, then the Sayer knew he needed to draw a retraction from him for his actions, lest the people of Brigantes be unsatisfied and seek satisfaction in other ways.

Lash after lash rained down upon the young Kings back, yet, speak constantly did Tiberis, question his torturer did he, his voice droning on and on with reason and steel certainty that what he believed was true. Out into the ears of the onlookers did it reach, each word strong and undeniable, broken only by the sickening gulps of air that would be forced from his tattered body by the falling of Attrition and the thud of whip upon bone.

For many an hour did the torture proceed, sweat seeping from Pantheons’ brow as blood seeped from Tiberis’ wounds. Yet still did he talk, still did he argue his position and finally realizing the futility of his actions, Pantheon dropped the whip of Attrition and put his hand to the hilt of Tartarus, the blade of death.

“Having failed to repent for your sins, Tiberis,” Bellowed Pantheon, to the ragged form below him, “I have no choice but to end your reign as King, as surely as I must end your life. Such s the power bestowed to me by the Goddess, our ruler, Gaea!”

Sick of heart at the task at hand, Pantheon drew the great blade and raised it above his head, intent on removing his Kings head in one fell motion. It was then that the Arch Sayer became aware of a stirring in the crowd, a dull hum at first that rose up, louder, into a voice of dissent. The people had begun to surge toward the podium, their faces angered, their voices as one in their disapproval, not only at the Arch Sayer, but also at her Mistress, the goddess Gaea. Tiberis’ words had been powerful and their conviction had found their way into the hearts and souls of his people. They believed their King and not just content to die for him and his cause, they were also prepared to kill any who would harm him.

Taken aback by what was occurring, Pantheon swung Tartarus about him, its’ mighty sweep sending the crowd scurrying back before it.

Infidels!” He screamed, “Have you lost your reason to the same madness that has taken your King!?”

The crowd paused a moment, their eyes transfixed by the sight before them. For what Pantheon could not see was the sight of the tattered and wounded King Tiberis rising behind him, his sword drawn and a great, bloodied smile carved across his face.

“Let those who brand others as mad,” He spat as he flashed his blade through the air and lopped off the sword hand of the Arch Sayer, “Be made aware that they live in a world of madness.”

Pantheon fell to his knees, blood flowing freely from his terrible wound, his face locked in agony. Tiberis stood above him, his face like steel, his body warped and twisted by its injuries.

“This road ends in Hell, Tiberis?” The Arch Sayer seethed, his skin growing pale and gaunt. “Gaea will not allow this.”

“Then we shall kill her, Pantheon.” Tiberis thrust his blade through the Arch Sayers’ neck, ending his life instantly, “And we shall bathe, free in the blood of her abdication.”

* * *

NEXT - ASPECT: Wonder Woman Pt. 2

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ASPECT: Silver Surfer Pt. 6 (FINAL)

We stood in the ruins of what was once the temple of Kaan. The fires had long since died down and we saw now the cavernous pit which had laid below the grounds, the pit which had held all the energies of my world. Besides me stood the Silver Surfer, his wounds having healed over the previous weeks since our encounter with Galactus, his spirit still very much wounded.

“The temple was built as a reservoir, a dam, my friend.” He said, his voice now stripped of power. “It was the Pious who had deprived you of your peoples birthright, of the land around you. They sought to first control you and then to destroy you, as is the way with such things.”

“Our gods can be very cruel can’t they?” I remarked jokingly. The Surfer shot a pained smile back at me.

“Yes. They can.”

We fumbled through the remaining debris, looking for any remaining trinkets or items of value. All members of The Pious had been committed to the most hideous task known to their kind; farm work and it was they who now fought daily to bring life from the earth. Yet, the earth now was good, plump with life and it seemed strange that, in some part, it was due to the machinations of a dark god. I eyed the Surfer for a moment and spoke out loud, the question all had feared to ask.

“Is he dead, Surfer? Is Galactus truly dead.”

The surfer did not react, as if he had been expecting it.

“With beings such as those, who can really say, my friend. All I do know for certain is that when creatures like Galactus are destroyed, something, else rushes in to fill the space. I think all we can hope for is that we truly enjoy the moments in between.”

Satisfied with his answer, a silence hung between us for a moment, before, sensing my opportunity, I asked of him the questions which had swirled in my head for weeks.

“My friend, what was it that you remembered when freed from the chains of Galactus? Who are you?”

For a moment I thought I had offended him as he walked away toward the remains of the great temple door. Then he paused and looked over his shoulder, tilting his head in a gesture to follow, which I did, out into the brilliant sun of morning.

“I have done many terrible deeds in my life… More than I have a right to proclaim and though a great many things were through the machinations of Galactus… I am not sure which I should feel responsible for. My friend… I do not know if I am truly ready to say who I am.”

We walked through the square and out through the gates into the great fields of lush, vibrant green which laid beyond.

“Well…” I said absently, “You might still have a name though, yes? I mean, even gods have names, don’t they?”

The Silver Surfer smiled for a moment before stopping and stretching out his hand.

“Norrin Radd.” He said, “My name is Norrin Radd.”

“Turra.” I replied, taking his glistening hand firmly in my own, “My name is, Turra.”

Then we walked on into the endless meadows of Iguaam and I smiled, a deep resonant smile of peace.

For he knew my name.

A god knew my name.

End.

PREVIOUS - ASPECT: Silver Surfer Pt. 5

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ASPECT: Silver Surfer Pt. 5

We stared upwards, the silver one and I, our eyes wide as the very sky itself turned to flame and a great roar fanned its flames. Behind it we could see the mighty shadow of the one the stranger called Galactus descending into our atmosphere, his size dwarfing my imaginings. I turned from the terrible image to my beloved Learre, finally free of the deathly fever which had gripped her. She stood amongst my people, now huddled together, frozen in fear as they too gawped up towards the nightmare which approached.

Yet, did I feel fear? Where was the terror that surely should have filled my bones, making me impotent of purpose? I felt not its grasp upon me and instead, I found myself filled with an insatiable sense of intent. It could not end like this, we would not, having traversed so much, go back into the dirt, into the earth on the whims of anyone, not even a god. I would not see my beloved Learre taken from me after regaining her touch and I grabbed at the Sstranger before me and shook him. I screamed in defiant rage at him to tell me how to stop this Galactus, how to save my people. Yet, the stranger only smiled, a smile filled with complete sadness, a palpable pity.

“You cannot stop him, Turra. I am so sorry… your people are doomed.”

I would not accept this and shaking his form with all my might I screamed this at the silver one. I spoke as if possessed, the quickly approaching form above forging me into an instrument of determination and gripped by this fevered state I spoke with a voice I barely recognized.

“Listen to me, Silver One. You have freed my people, whilst in the same gesture, you have brought them certain doom. Yet, all is not lost. You brought something from us, stranger, through your power you brought something from within my people, something which you then directed into the heavens. What was it that you brought from us? What was it that you were sending to your dark master?”

The Silver Stranger paused a moment, his mind racing, breaking through his fear,

“It was your life force. It is my purpose. I was created by Galactus to harvest the life force of any living thing I could find. I am the word of Galactus and that word is life… His life. His sustenance. I drain the life force piece by piece, feeding the dark god as long as possible until all are dead. Then again, we move on.”

I could hear the roar grow ever louder as the smoke and flames parted above us.

“Yet you spared us, strange one. You helped us to be free. I believe we touched something in you, some shred of decency and you helped us, unwittingly or not. Now fulfill that purpose. Tell me if that energy can be used to destroy a god. Tell me that you can use us as instruments of his demise.”

“I… I do not know… I am so weak…”

“We will be your strength! Now tell me, can you do it!?”

Slowly pulling himself to his feet, the stranger let out a scream of pain as his burned and charred body struggled to stay upright. He looked up at the figure descending and then at the huddled mass of my people, their eyes on him, pleas of hopelessness.

“It is… possible. Yet, I do not know if there is enough power within your people for the task at hand. They have been weak for so long.”

I looked to my brothers and sisters with eyes of steel, and still burning in the fires of intent, I spoke, as much to the dark god and his Silver Serf as to my people.

“We, are the tribes of Iguaam; the children of Kaan! Long have we fought this land, long have we struggled to simply stand in the light of life, but no more! No more will we fight for our god given right to existence. We are here. WE ARE HERE! And though we stand now in the shadows of… of something we could never have imagined, we shall not go quietly into that good earth. We are reborn, reconnected to the land and through this prophet, through this stranger who came to us on beams of light, this… this Silver Surfer, we shall make our rebirth complete. Long has life had to fight for its right to exist and we are no different. My people, my brothers and sisters, here is where we give our all, our lives to know that we truly existed. Here is where we truly become the children of Kaan!”

And though there was no cheer, no resounding, empty gesture of solidarity, there was a change. It began in their eyes, years of slavery having made the spirit behind them broken, I now saw a strength return, a steel long since thought destroyed by the Pious. I saw as my people moved into the centre of the square and with no direction, began chanting; a fierce, bloodied chant or righteous anger. I saw the tribes of Iguaam in all their glory and turning to the Silver Surfer, and then I saw him smile.

“A leader, indeed.”

He said, as he rose above us, glowing with our chant as our words seemed to become solid with power, a power unlike any we had conjured before. It was reinforced, galvanized by our faith, by our freedom and as it reached the Surfer he bellowed in joy and shouted to the looming figure above him.

“I welcome you my former lord! I welcome you and I bring you a gift. I give you the gift of freedom!”

And using our words, our spirit as his fuel, he unleashed the soul of a people, a great conflagration of power at the dread god Galactus. We felt our spirits drain, an unimaginable pain spread throughout our entire being, as if death were pulling on us and in that moment I grabbed Learres’ hand as she grabbed that of her neighbour and I bellowed into the face of death.

“We shall not be taken this way! We shall not be broken upon these rocks! Our spirits scorch the sky! Our souls reap the earth! We are our own gods now! WE ARE THE GODS!”

The Surfer yawped above us, a great and defiant cry of joy as our power flowed anew through him, unlike any he had experienced and he channeled it toward the form of his former master. Yet, for a moment, we were stilled, as through the parting of the great flames which burned the sky, through the tendrils of sheer power which emanated from the Surfer, we saw him…

Galactus.

It was only for a moment but there, suspended in space, writhed a dark god of unimaginable power. His form was mercurial, ever shifting between bodies of angels, demons, armour clad space gods and images too grotesque to conceive. It was as if he had no true form of his own, an ever changing mirror of the universe around him, of all those he had consumed, yet one thing remained unchanged; the look of fervent rage which burned through his eyes. It was as if he was outraged beyond reason that these few miserable creatures would dare defy him, and more so, that with the help of his own slave, they were succeeding. Our momentary fear passing at his image, we felt renewed, his outrage giving us fuel, our victory becoming assured and with one mighty push, we passed a pulse of energy through the Surfer which ripped Galactus from our atmosphere, his body shredding into the universe beyond, decimated… destroyed.

We listened as his unholy scream of outrage disappeared for the cosmos and we watched as his remains drifted from our view, cast to the furthest reaches of the universe and beyond.

My people… My people fell to the ground, exhausted… joyous in their exhaustion. I fell into the arms of my Learre and we held each other. The simplest of gestures and the greatest of joys. From her arms I watched as the Silver Surfer lowered himself to the ground some distance from us; himself exhausted, stretched beyond his limits. He sat upon the steps and rested his head within his palms. I thought that I should go and speak with him. Thank him for what he had done for me… for my people. Then I felt Learres’ skin against my mine, her breath upon my neck and I thought… not yet.

Not just yet.

PREVIOUS - ASPECT: Silver Surfer Pt. 4

NEXT - Conclusion

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ASPECT: Silver Surfer Pt. 4

Learre had been unable to attend the meetings since the first. She had not the strength to rise after that, though the calling was so strong she had tried each time. I had been able to calm her and return her to her bed whilst I, enthralled in the call song as all of my people were, went to kneel and pray to a God I could not even comprehend. Now, Learre rode upon my back, her legs too weak to carry her frame, her mind flitting in and out of fevered delirium as we approached the great temple of Kaan. My people, the tribes of Iguaam were already there, unburdened as they were, on their knees, awaiting the beginning of the prayer that would send the power of our collective faith into the heavens above. Yet, as we entered the great square that stood before the mighty spire, I instantly sensed unease, a disturbance rippling through the crowd. As my eyes rested on my people before me, I saw their eyes averted to the steps that led to the temple doors, the place from which the Silver one had conducted his great sermons. Gathered on those great stone steps were the Pious, their black drapes billowing around them, their aged, weak bodies hunched from the burdens of bureaucracy. Yet, to my amazement, there stood the Silver one, his arms crossed, his ears being barraged by the insidious reasoning of the Pious.

Learre had become increasingly heavy upon my back as I made my way through the restless crowd toward the front, yet as I grew closer I saw clearly the face of the stranger, his brow furrowed first in confusion and then, in flashes of furious anger. If the Pious had any inkling of this, they showed no sign for then, just as I reached the front of the crowds, I saw the stranger explode in a gesture of complete rage.

“ENOUGH!” He bellowed, the crowd around me recoiling in terror from the power of his words, the Pious sent tumbling down the steps, yelps of cowardice squealing from their mouths, “YOU WOULD DARE TO BARTER WITH THE GODS!?”

His whole body crackled with energy as he slowly began to step toward the black shapes of the Pious before him, their tortured frames wrapped in the finery of their position as they crawled and whimpered from him.

“In your greed and your immorality, you would seek to barter with one such as I? You would seek to gain monetary gain for a gift from the gods? Does your wickedness know no bounds?”

I gently lowered Learre to the ground and cradled her fevered body in my arms. Fear gripped me, absolute and complete as I watched the Silver stranger rise into the air before us, his rage unabated and his entire body glowing with a furious brilliance. I watched as he rose above the great temple of Kaan and hovered in terrible silence before reaching out his hand and pointing a finger of divine power at the Pious laid below him.

“You, who would think yourselves worthy of ruling over a people, of depriving them of their gods and of their lands! You, who would seek to gain from that which you cannot understand, now you will see the harvest from your sins. Now, you will see the true power of your gods!!!”

And I saw, we all did as he turned, his form engulfed in pure energy, his hands raised toward Kaans’ great temple itself and in that moment I realized… I realized why that great temple had been constructed and if I had known what was to come next, perhaps I would have bellowed a warning to the Silver one. Instead, I watched, helpless as great bolts of energy, pure cosmic energy flew from his body and crashed into the temple, its masonry exploding all around us, while it crumbled as if made from clay.

Yet, then I saw the strangers face falter as massive explosions came from within the crumbling form of the temple itself. Without warning, great plumes of flame flew upwards into the heavens from the falling rubble and caught unawares, the Silver One suddenly found himself caught in a great coil of energy. It rushed upward from the temple at speeds unknown and unable to move in time , the stranger found himself caught within its asperity, held within the grasp of a great leviathan. It held him there for what must have seemed a lifetime, a scream emanating from him which still echoes to this day, the smell of burning flesh filling the air and then, without warning, it released him and he fell. The energy then rose above us all, spreading itself out to the horizons, the screams and wails of the Pious being the only sound as it suddenly dissipated and fell, softly, almost gracefully to the ground around us. As far as the mind could travel, all across our barren lands the energy fell and where it did, the land started to shift and crack beneath it. Water suddenly flowed from long dry ground and a silent fan of green began to spread before our very eyes. My people watched from the gates of the city of Kaan as wherever the falling energy touched, life returned. Trees bore fruit, produce sprouted from the ground and in my arms, my dear, beloved Learre opened her eyes and smiled. She sat upwards, her fever broken and with complete innocence asked of me what had transpired.

Not knowing what to answer, I left her there a moment as, trembling, I approached the fallen form of the Silver One. His body laid recumbent upon what remained of the temple steps, the area surrounded by rubble and smouldering fire. As I approached I saw no movement and fearing the worst, I knelt and cradled him in my arms. No apprehension did I feel in touching him now, only a joy, an eternal gratitude. Yet, what I saw in his face when I looked down shocked me to my very soul. Never had I seen such fear. Never had I seen such unholy fear as I saw in his face that day. I then realized that he had not been lying still but had been struck with fear to such a degree that his body lay rigid. I asked him what was wrong and yet, he could nbot answer me, his tongue stilled by whatever lay in his mind, behind his eyes. Beginning to feel the ruminations of fear myself I grew frustrated and raising my voice I asked of him what was wrongs and, finally, he turned his eyes to mine.

“I… I remember everything… All I have done… All that had been blocked from my mind for so long… I remember everything… The chains around my mind have finally been freed.”

I held him firm and tried to speak, though his terror stil permeated my senses. I told him of how this was joyous news, of how grateful we were for having saved us from the dread tyranny of the Pious. Yet he grabbed at me, grabbed at me hard and in his fear, spoke in tears.

“YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND! I have not saved you! I have saved none of you! All I have brought you is death, for you and all your people. Your entire planet is doomed! Don’t you understand? I have been freed of His chains and He knows this! He will come for you now! There is no stopping Him! There is no stopping the coming of Galactus!”

Then the heavens roared above us and it was surely the sound of death approaching.

PREVIOUS - ASPECT: Silver Surfer Pt. 3

NEXT - GALACTUS!

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AVENGERS MOVIE HIGHLIGHTS (spoilers)

Alright, so i'm pretty much behind the rest of the world most of the time anyway, so, the fact that i've even seen the Avengers movie before 2056 is an astounding feat in itself. I'm assuming you've all seen it and, like me, you laughed, you cried and a little bit of geek wee leaked out at the best bits.

And what were the best bits, i hear you ask you impetuous fools!?! Well... Here goes;

1. THE SHIELD HELICARRIER TAKING OFF.

I mean, it’s always been such a far out idea to begin with but to see it come to life, you have to wonder what the brainstorming session for that one went like at SHIELD HQ;

“So, Nick, I’ve rented some offices downtown for us to start our new spy business in.”

“Hmm, well, office space coooould be the way to go, but seeing as how I’ve just been smoking this crack pipe for the last hour and have suddenly come into possession of a battleship and four freakin’ huge fans, do you think we can come up with something else?”

2. HARRY DEAN STANTON!

Harry Dean Fricken’ Stanton! You know the security guard that finds Bruce Banner after he’s Hulked down with no pants? Harry Dean Fricken’ Stanton! If you don’t know who he is, Harry is one of the finest character actors in independent film (though he nearly always plays Harry Dean Stanton and does a fantastic job of it too, I might add). He’s been in films such as Repo Man, Pretty In Pink, The Pledge, Wild At Heart, Escape From New York and, of course, Paris, Texas. I love this man and was absolutely THRILLED (and slightly bemused) to see his very human appearance turn up in the midst of such a monster film.

3. “That’s my secret, Cap. I’m always angry.”

Doesn’t make a lick of sense but DAMMIT if it didn’t sound COOL!

4. AGENT COULSON.

The secret weapon of The Avengers film and the set ups in all the preceding movies. A very gentle but affecting human touch. Stop with your flood of mutant titles Marvel and give Coulson his own series. I’d buy it, dead or not.

5. HAWKEYES’ AWESOME QUIVER

What happens when an archer and Ikea get together and down a couple of tequilas? Hawkeyes' quiver, that's what. Like a Lazy Susan for a Robin Hood Psycopath, the Hawkeye quiver provides all your eye piercing pleasures at once.

I want one, but instead of the rotating arrow heads and arrow shafts, I want twigs and rotating marshmallows of differing colours.

6. LOKI

He was great in Thor and he's brilliant in Avengers. Sure, he fades out toward the end of the film and becomes something of a comical, non threat, but I love the gleeful wickedness of this version.

Besides that, I have a MASSIVE man crush on Tom Hiddleston, so there.

7. CAPTAIN AMERICAS’ NEW DUDS.

Proving to the world that even the most buffed of heroes can look like an absolute dork in ill fitting head gear.

8. THE HULK

After two so-so movie trys it seems that the big screen has finally got it right.

Mark Ruffalo is a great Bruce, all nervous energy and smarts and the Hulk is a truly terrifying creature when he finally appears.

9. TONY STARKS BLACK SABBATH T-SHIRT.

Seems that the world must have fallen into peril on washing day for Tony, as for the majority of the film (Iron Suit not counted) Stark seems to live in this Black Sabbath T-Shirt.

Love how they still manage to cram in the AC/DC and Black Sabbath ‘Iron Man’ references, even with so much else going on.

10. JOSS WHEDON

I have always loved Joss’ work but I admit that I had major doubts that he could pull off such a MASSIVE project. I have to admit though, that even though it is admittedly a flawed film, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a mind numbing, blast at the movies since True Romance first came out (yes, I’m THAT old). A fun, engaging script, a good handle on the characters (except possibly Thor who didn’t really seem to have much to do at certain points in the story) and an epic scope… well done, Mr Whedon. I salute you.

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