Saturday, 28 December 2013

Robin Laid An Egg (It Was Served Well Done)

Batman is often talked about as a loner, a solitary dark crusader who eschews company instead surrounding himself in shadow and participating in gravel eating contests. 

"CRIMINALS EVERYWHERE WILL FEAR MY GRAVELLY VOICE..." - "I don't know, I swear to God." - SWEARTOME!" - "Sorry, what?" - "DAMMIT."

However, this perception of Batman totally neglects the fact Batman has rarely ever been alone in his history and has a whole extended Bat-family. 

Everyone forgets Ace the Bat-Hound.

From 1940 onwards, Batman has fought crime as a member of the Dynamic Duo with his ward, Robin the Boy Wonder. 

In the 1940s it was totally cool to make a young child swear an undying oath to fight crime and corruption.

Dressed up in bright primary colours of red and green, and sporting ever fashionable pixie boots, Robin serves as a lively counterpart to the brooding Dark Knight. Additionally, because of his bright plumage and acrobatic skill, he is useful as a target for criminals to distract them from the Batman's attacks, bouncing about in tactically eye-catching attire. 

Wouldn't you be at least mildly distracted if this boy was prancing about all around you?

However, Robin is not only an effective means of distracting his enemies for Batman, he is also often the one that makes sure that the Dark Knight doesn't go too, well, dark, and lose himself totally in the fight against crime, possibly crossing his moral code and becoming that which he hates. Essentially, Robin acts to mellow Batman out through levity and humour while serving as his moral compass.

Sometimes a moral compass that points a little south.

There have been several different Robins over time, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown and Damian Wayne, 

Collectively known as the Rockin' Robins.

All of whom have brought something different to compliment the World's Greatest Detective, from Grayson's jovial nature,


To Jason's death,
"Just more guilt to add to my crippling inability to cope with the violent death of a loved one in any other way than by donning a bat costume and fighting crime."

Tim's detective skill and empathy, figuring out who Batman was and realising he needs a Robin to act as his moral centre,

Coincidentally, Batman gets schooled by Alfred here.

Stephanie's enthusiasm,

And look at her go, the spry little thing.

And the total lack of fucks Damian has to give,
"Whatevz, I'm gonna steal your motorbike too, BTW."

Regardless of which Robin is currently sporting the green and red plumage, Robin is Batman's crime-fighting partner, united in their quest to end corruption and vanguish evil, as well as their mutual hatred of Christmas carols. 

Those kids had it coming.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Wonder Woman Is Really Into Tying People Up

One of the great icons of super-heroism, one third of the World's Finest Trinity with Superman and Batman, and an Amazonian Princess, Wonder Woman has saved the world time and time again from the forces of evil.

Not the most humble of heroes though...

However, the Amazon Maiden has a dark secret  (and no, it is not that she doesn't realise we can see her in her invisible plane).

"Don't worry. They'll never see us." 

Although, to be fair, it does seem slightly less conspicuous than her other means of transportation...

"Oh, not much. And I see you brought a Pegasus..." 

Regardless which mode of transportation she uses to travel, most of which she doesn't actually need since she can, you know, fly and stuff, Wonder Woman always carries the Lasso of Truth with her. Strong as truth itself and infinitely long, Wonder Woman's Lasso makes it impossible for anyone caught in it to lie or break free of its grasp. 

"I have a lasso and I am not afraid to use it."

Serving to totally subject the victim to Wonder Woman's whims, the Lasso forces them into a submissive position while Wonder Woman is able to dominate them. But Wonder Woman seems to enjoy tying her opponents into bondage a bit too much for it to be purely a practical method of detaining evil-doers.

Judging by the look on Wonder Woman's face, I'm sure they play many 'safe' binding games. I bet they bind each other really hard.

Yes, for although it may initially appear that the Amazing Amazon is a naive and innocent warrior princess, in reality she gets her kicks from bondage and some kinky S&M in her everyday superheroing. She basically is a dominatrix in red boots and a gold tiara.

Wow, they got the cat o' nine tails out and everything. She even has her dom-voice on.

Not that Wonder Woman didn't mind occasionally swapping roles and playing sub every now and then:

Nothing to see here, just some light bondage!
"She's bringing out the tape? Oooh, goody."

However, there was a significant issue whenever Wonder Woman decided to sub which is probably why she didn't swap roles all that often, rather preferring to dominate.

Yeah... She loses her Amazon strength. When shackled by a man. Because blatant patriarchal metaphor.

Wonder Woman loses her Amazon strength when bound by a man, a metaphor for how even the strongest woman is 'shackled' by the power of patriarchal society (which is a valid, albeit sad, comment on the sexism inherent in society), and explains why she prefers nights at the BDSM bar when Catwoman was in town. 

It took every ounce of willpower in my body to avoid a cat related pun in regards to this sex kitten.


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Friday, 15 November 2013

I Think the Hulk Gets Aquamarine With Envy

The Hulk is one of the most recognizable superheroes of all time, despite the fact he doesn't dress in tights and a cape or have an iconic insignia like Superman and Batman. He does, however, have memorable, and classic, catchphrases, such as "You won't like me when I am angry" and "HULK SMASH!".

It took a couple of edits to get right.

The Hulk isn't really a superhero though, often unable to control the destructive impulses and terrible power he wields, he routinely becomes the villain of his own comic as he is chased by various military authorities or occasionally other superheroes. 

Sometimes this doesn't go down too well for the other superhero.

Rather, the Hulk is essentially a superhero version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a means of exploring the suppressed rage and primal nature of man which must be kept in check by his rational and moral side at all times or risk causing destruction and violence. 


Writers have also used the Hulk as a metaphor to explore the crippling psychological damage caused by childhood abuse, basically as a manifestation of the anger created by feelings of powerlessness and guilt... because why not.

Oooh, psychoanalysis and pseudo-science! Truly, this is the best of both worlds.

Although oft forgotten, The Hulk has other incarnations than the well-known Savage Hulk that likes smashing things, and these different incarnations highlight different aspects of Bruce Banner's personality. One such incarnation is Joe Fixit, a grey Hulk that could talk without referring to himself in the third person, who expressed Bruce Banner's repressed manipulative tendencies and his secret desire to be a gangster like those guys in The Godfather.

Also, to be surrounded by scantily clad women and gold coins. Gold coins are where it's at.

But there is also the World Breaker Hulk which emerged after the Hulk was exiled from Earth and forced to battle like a gladiator on the planet Sakaar (eventually becoming ruler of the planet because that's what happens when you win at gladiatoring) and then comes back to Earth for revenge.

As you can see, he is far more articulate than Savage Hulk and has a ridiculously tiny head in proportion to the rest of his body.

But despite beating up the X-Men and nearly destroying New York and stuff, the World Breaker Hulk is able to pinpoint the true lesson that the Hulk teaches throughout his various incarnations, the power of friendship. 

And friendship is magic.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

This is Halloween But It's Also About Christmas

Countless generations over the years have ponder the eternal question of why, if he is the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington isn't a Jack O' Lantern?

I am Jack's Creepy Pumpkin Face.

However, this seemingly unsolvable puzzle actually has a simple answer once it becomes clear that the Pumpkin King is in fact Jack's title and is not at all linked to his anatomy or his species of monstrosity. In fact, it is not only his title but also his costume for Halloween. For Jack is a master of disguise.

Both of those costumes are totally inconspicuous.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a rare film that is aesthetically a Halloween movie, set in Halloween Town with a Gothic look, but that is also simultaneously thematically about Christmas.

It features all the tropes of a Christmas move, such as snow, Santa, and how the meaning of Christmas has jack-all to do with the birth of the Messiah of Christian religion 2000 years ago but rather is about presents and goodwill to mankind. 

Pictured: Christmas! Note the lack of babies in mangers.

However, despite having the greatest song about Halloween ever...

And teaching us the meaning of Christmas...

Presents. The meaning is always presents.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is actually about something more real and serious than two of the biggest holidays of the year, namely midlife crisis. Specifically, Jack's. 

Sad Jack is sad.

The movie is all about Jack's sense of dissatisfaction with his life and job because he feels as though he is stuck in a rut. In fact, every action Jack takes in the course of the movie following the opening song is an attempt to spice up his life and bring back some sense of excitement, which explains the way he totally loses his shit when he sees snow in Christmas Town.  

What's this, what's this? Something to distract me from my growing sense of disillusionment?

Rather than buying an expensive sports car or having an affair with a younger woman, Jack focuses all his attention, and uses all his influence as the Pumpkin King, to essentially hijack Christmas as way to deal with the growing monotony he feels in his life and work.   

This is totally not an image of a man desperately searching for meaning in the world.

In dressing up and acting like Santa Claus, Jack is adopting a new identity in order to shred the traces of his previous alter ego, the Pumpkin King, and subdue the sense of of lack he felt in that role. 

He also enforced slave labour just like Santa. For authenticity.

However, by the end of the movie, after he has been blown up by missiles and landing in a graveyard with his Santa suit in tatters, Jack realises that although it didn't work out, he did his best and haters are gonna hate. Furthermore, he comes to understand that he cannot deny who he is and with this revelation in mind, he goes on to save Sally from Oogie Boogie the Boogeyman.

And that is how Jack got his groove back.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

If Sonic was a Pokémon, Would Doctor Eggman Be Team Rocket or an Egg Shaped Snorlax?

When considering Sonic, it becomes clear that rather than simply being an anthropomorphic hedgehog, the spiked speedster can in fact be seen to be a new type of Pokémon, heretofore undiscovered by man.

I am the very best like no one ever was.

While Sonic appears to be a mouse Pokémon, it is unclear exactly what type he belongs to, being distinct from the well-known types of Fire, Grass and Water. From our initial observations, he does seem to quite close to the Normal-type in abilities and powers, and could possibly be some sort of mutation of that type. That said, his spiked appearance is quite similar in appearance to that of Sandslash, a fellow mouse Pokémon but a Ground-type.

If Sonic is related to Sandslash, family reunions must get quite prickly.
(It is unclear at this stage whether Sonic has the ability to induce bad puns, although research suggests some correlation.)

Regardless of the exact type, this discovery explains the many variations of the Sonic creature seen over the years, which now can be seen to be its different evolutions rather than desperate attempts to seem hip and relevant as previously thought.


In this manner we can see that Sonic is a rare breed of Pokémon which often evolves in small, incremental steps rather than a full-blown stages like other Pokémon.

Sonic's first evolution, note the potbelly and lack of buckles.

Thus, the simple additional of buckles to his shoes and a change of eye colour from black to green seems to indicate the second stage of evolution for Sonic.

Buckles maketh the Pokémon.

Also, like Eevee, Sonic appears to be able to evolve into different types and does not have a set path of evolution. This accounts for the vast disparity in different variations of Sonic seen. From the ferocious Werehog,

The spikes on his back are replaced with spikes on his shoes. Spikes are an evolutionary constant.

To the invincible Super Sonic which gains the ability to fly and pulsate a yellow psychic energy shield to protect itself against attack.

Super Saiyan... um, Super Sonic.

But Sonic is not the only new Pokémon discovered in recent years. Sonic often is found in groups of three with a Tails and a Knuckles. Like Sonic, these types of these two Pokémon are hard to classify, although Tails seems to be Normal/Flying type whilst Knuckles seems to be a Normal/Ground hybrid.

Together, they offer a three-ponged attack of spikey speed, fluffy flight and horned strength. 

Here are all three in their pre-evolved states:

How did they all fit in one Pokéball? Seriously, so much adorableness could not be contained by anything less than a Masterball.

Hopefully, we will one day be able to fully understand and classify what type Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are but with this remarkable discovery, we have begun to unlock the magic and mystery of that most wondrous place: the incredible world of Pokémon.


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Friday, 4 October 2013

The Difference Between Magic and Science in Star Wars

The Stars Wars Saga simultaneously encompasses one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time and one of the most disappointing.

The original trilogy is popular culture touchstone beloved by millions and introduced so many good things into the world such as blasters, the Millennium Falcon, lightsabers, the Force, Han Solo, lightsabers, Darth Vader, Jedi, and lightsabers. Oh, and it also featured a memorable intro...

Rolling text roamed the universe in search of plot narration.

They are not without their flaws though, such as this Stormtrooper hitting his head on the door:

The finest trooper in the Empire.

The prequel trilogy, on the other hand, is comprised of some of the most reviled movies of all time. Films so disappointing and infuriating that they known to incite fanboys into murderous blood-thirsty rage at the mere mention of Jar Jar Binks.

Me'sa just wants'a hug. 
There are many things wrong with the prequels. Many many things. From thinking that what was really missing from the originals was boring political debates...

And yes, Jar Jar Binks is a member of the Galactic Senate, because fuck it.

And tedious meetings of the Jedi counsel...

Half of whom were died of boredom and came back as ghosts.

To just generally shitting all over the original films' continuity in ways that served no purpose other than to shoehorn some of the beloved (and most marketable) characters from the first trilogy into the prequels.

Darth Vader built C3PO as a child. This is cannon. 

Oh, and R2D2 was Anakin's astrotech robot in the Clone Wars, because of course he was.

"Come on, R2. Let's bounce."

Aside from raising a host of questions like 'how come Darth Vader didn't recognise that the pair of robots hanging around Luke, Leia and Han looked surprisingly similar to the pair of robots he used to hang with before he got hit with the asthma?', this just makes the Star Wars universe seem a lot smaller when all the important stuff in this huge rich universe of a million different alien species happens to a group of like 10 people and these two robots.

However, these (and many other) problems have been discussed and critiqued in great depth elsewhere on the interwebs. But few people have discussed magic. 

Not quite the magic I meant.

In the original films there is a real sense of magic and fun, in the prequels this is replaced by pseudo-science and utmost seriousness (politics and trade embargoes). Compare how Obi-Wan first tells Luke, and by extension, everyone, about the Force. The Force is described by Obi-Wan as what gives a Jedi his powers, an intangible energy force that flows through the universe and binds all living things. 

Alec Guinness (Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) in Star Wars -  Episode IV (1977)
"It's invisible but you can feel it. In your heart."- Not actual quote.

In the prequels however, when Qui-Gon Jin tells Anakin about the Force and all of a sudden it is about the midichlorian count in your bloodstream. And what are midichlorians, you ask? 

"Midichlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells". 

Qui-Gon must be trolling him. He must be. Look at that smirk.

Okay... and how does this relate to the Force again? 

"Without the midichlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you'll hear them speaking to you."

"Yeah... sure thing, crazy bearded man."

This answers a question that nobody asked with an answer nobody wanted. And nobody asked the question because the fact the Force is a type of energy that moves through all living things is enough. That makes it something mystical and cool. Essentially the Force is magic and it didn't need to be explained because "look how awesome it is that he can use it to move things!" But in the prequels, George Lucas for whatever reason decided to replace the magic and wonder in the originals by pointlessly and terribly trying to explain everything with horrible pseudo-science.

When Obi Wan asks Han if the Millennium Falcon is a fast ship, Han replies, "It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs." No one knows what the Kessel Run is or what a parsec is. All we get from this is that the Millennium Falcon is fast because it sounds badass that it made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs and that's all we need to know.

When this man tells you something in a vague badass manner, you know it is true. Don't question it.

If this exchange had happened in the prequels, Han would have spouted off some babble how it actually isn't the fastest ship but rather has the best navigational system and therefore can plot the best and most efficient course in hyperspace. Because that explanation is totally hardcore and not at all lame.

But then again, lightsabers!