Friday, 23 August 2013

Green Lanterns Have a Weakness for Yellow Lemon Trees

Every near invincible superhero has a weakness. Something which either disrupts or strips him or her of their powers. Occasionally writers want to bring the superhero down to a human level, to test their character and what makes them heroic. However, most times the superhero's weakness is just utterly ridiculous, like the writer was facing a deadline, had just finished a bottle of Jack, a couple lines of cocaine, and said, "Eh, this will do".

The most well-known example is Superman and kryptonite. It is so embedded in pop culture knowledge that kryptonite has become synonymous for someone's weakness. And honestly, kryptonite makes some sort of sense, it's radioactive pieces of his home-world which weaken Superman and strips of his powers. Which makes sense since it's radioactive to him. Radioactive stuff is bad. We all get that.

Kryptonite bites are bad too.

Of course, writers had to get 'creative' and introduce other types of kryptonite aside from the common green variety, like red kryptonite which turns Superman into a dick who likes blowing out the Olympic Torch or straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

"Straightening ancient architecture. I am so evil." 

Similarly, Batman also has a weakness. It's called Bruce Wayne. Whenever, Batman is out of his batsuit and just chilling as a playboy billionaire, you know that he's going to get the crap beat out him.

Just to clarify, that's Bruce under the rubble, out. His geriatric butler has to save him... because he was out of his batsuit.

Although, possibly the most you-must-be-joking-there's-no-way-that's-their-weakness is that of Power Girl's. Power Girl, in addition to having breasts no mere fabric can contain,

What you're missing? Look in a mirror, I think the answer will become apparent.

Also has a very specific weakness and that weakness is essentially anything. Anything natural and unprocessed, that is. Like a tree branch.

Yes. A branch. Not a special magic branch. Just a normal branch from a normal tree.

I don't want to elaborate on this further as it was covered in's brilliant The 6 Most Ridiculous Superhero Weaknesses, but it leads nicely to the weakness of one of the most powerful superheroes of all time who they did not mention in their article, Green Lantern.

Oh yeah. This guy.

The original Green Lantern, Alan Scott construct his ring and lantern following instructions from a mystical green flame, and his ring work more on the basis of magic than the pseudo-scientific rational of the Green Lanterns to follow, who were part of the Green Lantern Corps, the intergalactic police. But Alan Scott's ring had a weakness. Wood.

Well, maybe if he didn't have a weakness to wood, he wouldn't have.

Just to be clear, Scott can use his ring to create a shield that could protect him from bullets, fire, missiles, laser beams, and/or super-punches. But throw a stick at him and it passes right through his shield. Not only that but it makes him older. Since his ring keeps his body in a form of stasis, he doesn't age. However, his in addition to the fact his ring has no effect on wood, wood actually stops his ring from working, thus aging him.
Doesn't that happen to everyone?

When DC decided to revamp the character for what became the Silver Age of comics in the 1950s, they removed the magical elements of the original and replaced them with science fiction tropes. Thus, the new Green Lantern's (Hal Jordan) ring was technically, not magically, powered by the Guardians of the Universe's master power generator which his Lantern accessed. Oh, and they remove the weakness to wood because they realised that it was silly. Instead, his ring was useless against the colour yellow.

Of course, it doesn't. That doesn't change the fact you got taken out by a lamp. A lamp.

This weakness to the colour yellow is due to an impurity in the Guardian's master power generator. This is later found to be because yellow is the colour of fear as green is courage in the DC universe, and to overcome the weakness to yellow the Green Lantern has to accept and conquer his fears. However, this does not erase over 40 years of comics when stuff like this happen:

Dammit, it's yellow. My ring won't work on things that are yellow. I'll still zap green beams to look useful. 

Actually, there were a number of Green Lantern comics that revolved around the weapon/villain which was, for no discernible or logical reason, yellow.

Why is the pterodactyl yellow? No, seriously, I want to know. Why? 

And obviously, this weakness is one villains could easily exploit if they ever found out about it.

Yeah, Mister Mxyzptlk owned Green Lantern with a giant banana one time. And yes, that is Bat-Mite in the background. And I think Wonder Woman just had a DUI.

So, obviously the two generations of Green Lanterns' most fierce enemy would be an evil sentient yellow lemon tree.

They probably hate this song. Lemon trees everywhere.

Friday, 9 August 2013

"I'm a Loner, Data. A Rebel."

Star Trek is possible the most sacred of all nerd pop culture shows. Trekkers (Star Trek fans prefer to be known as rather than the derogatory 'Trekkies'), have been ostracized and stereotyped more than possibly any other fandom. Dismissed as social outcasts fixated on a sci-fi show filled with aliens with elf ears and phasers set to stun.

There is nothing to say. This guy kicks several different types of ass, most of them alien.

But honestly, I think it was because people were just jealous of all the attractive girls Trekkers get when they go out cosplaying.

She didn't even take her cellphone out to get his number, it just materialised in her hand by the power of sexy science.

However, with the latest reboot and its sequel by J.J. Abrams, Star Trek is all the rage now, which is good, because it is one of the best sci-fi franchises of all time. 

Made better with copious amounts of lens flare.

Star Trek has examined essentially every sci-fi trope possible, from what would happen if a man was confronted with an evil version of himself,

No! This is how you play Pat-a-cake!

To what would a man do if he had to sit down next to an evil version of himself during dinner,

"I see you favour the 'hands clasp together while staring with head slightly turned to one side' sitting pose.
I too, favour that pose."

To how to decide which one of the two is your captain and which one is the evil version of him.

Whichever one it is owes me a bubble bath and ear massage.

By the way, the answer is the one who starts screaming that he is the real one repeatedly to the point of incoherence with a crazed look in his eyes,

This will convince him.

When not dealing with evil versions of oneself, Star Trek has also pondered what it means to be human through characters such as Spock and Data. One is a half-Vulcan who cannot properly express emotions and wishes to be human, and one is an android who cannot properly express emotions and wishes to be human.

Can you spot the difference?

However, there is one character that serves to the answer the most important question ever asked by mankind: Wesley Crusher.

This guy.

Aside from somehow pulling off that jersey, Wesley is an incredibly intelligent child prodigy who essentially served to whine a bit and then save the day by seeing or understanding something that the other characters could not, no matter how amazingly they were acted by Patrick Stewart. That something was deus ex machina. Whenever there was a really complicated scientific problem like the warp drive acting up or the navigation system on the fritz, Wesley rock up and go, "Hey guys, what if we did this?" and save the day.

Repeatedly saving the day is the only justification for looking this smug.

Many fans have criticised the Wesley and hate the character, seeing him either as annoying or as a Mary Sue stand in for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (usually both). But this misses what an important character Wesley is, as his infinite potential and ability to conveniently solve any problem just because he can highlights a fundamental philosophic question, what would it be like to be a god yet trapped in a adolescent body?  

Terry Pratchett asked a similar question but with a god stuck in the form of a tortoise. So actually, much the same thing.

Additionally, Wesley's almost infinite knowledge of all things science and all-round nerdy social awkwardness appealed to certain members of the audience who liked being smart and nerdy. Because being smart and nerdy is cool. 

One fan declaring her devotion to the Almighty Crusher, Lord of Studiousness.

Also, Wesley was a loner, always setting off on his own to find adventure and get into crazy hijinks. Which is probably why Joel Watson of the webcomic Hijinks Ensue drew this loving portrait of the one true deity of nerdiness, quoting the immortal words of Peewee Herman,

I don't have to see 'Justice', Dottie ... I lived it.
The bow tie was added for referential effect. But also because bow ties are cool.

All hail, our Lord, Wesley!