Now With Less!

 There's a ... Thing, in the comic book industry, occasionally, where they do a SPECIAL EDITION! of a comic book - there's a word they use but I can't remember, like PURE or something - where it's just the linework, no colours. So that you can Truly Appreciate the Craftsmanship of the Artist. I've always been a bit nonplussed by that. I know how hard colouring is, what it adds to the page, the context and texture. Mood, emotion, environment. Take a look at this page, for example. Each row of panels is intentionally similar; the third panel is - not quite identical, there's a tiny amount of different hatching on the door but - basically the same. The inker hasn't blocked out Alfred's face or added shading. The line work is, structurally, the same. But the lighting is different! It's happening at a different time of day, it's dark out, Alfred's lit from inside. Without the colours you wouldn't get that so starkly. (There is some dark sky in

The Long Road

"Do you ever feel like ... I don't know, like we've got a raw deal?" asked Melanie Labtek. Her legs dangled from the balcony overlooking the hydroponic forest. Below her, the trees stretched off into the distance until they disappeared around the curve of the ship's surface. Above, the stars were visible through the impenetrable plexiglass screen, continuing their imperceptible migration from prow to stern.   "Raw deal like what?" said Angela Cleaning, perched next to her on the balcony.   "Like, I don't know. Trapped on this ship, our whole lives. I mean, we didn't get a choice in it, you know? Neither did our parents and neither will our children."   "We do important work," Angela insisted earnestly.   "Do we? Just running maintenance, keeping things ticking over until we reach Colony One? They reach. Because it won't be us. We'll be long gone. Our descendants get to be conquering heroes, and the people who laun

Dark Nights: Death Metal: Future State: Infinite Horizon: A Final Ultimate Crisis Tie-In!!!

 I'm a DC comics fan, and I have no idea what's going on with DC right now. A year or so ago, Scott Snyder was doing his epic Justice League plot - Justice vs Doom - and I was very much enjoying it! This story then left the JL comic to be its own thing, Dark Nights: Death Metal, and I kinda lost interest. Partly because it heavily featured Snyder's clunkily-named favourite character, The Batman Who Laughs, who is kind of What If Batman Was Also The Joker, but also somehow the most powerful force for evil in all the universes. I've been studiously ignoring all of his comics because I find him to be dumb. He wears a slab of metal over his eyes covered with spikes. I have no time for him. I was planning to pick the thing up in a collection, on sale, some time down the line. The Justice League comic went back to telling disconnected, stock JLA stories, and I felt somewhat vindicated in my decision, though also frustrated by not yet knowing *how* this status quo was restored

The Outcast

We've been rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation recently, and we've reached The Outcast, an episode which I'm sure has been discussed in more depth by more qualified people than I. Nonetheless, here is my Hot Take. On the face of it, The Outcast is about a member of a gender-neutral alien race who expresses a gender identity, and deals with the consequences - persecution, potential abuse, and a "cure" for their condition. Which is all fine and interesting as far as it goes; it sounds like a startlingly prescient subject for a network show from the early 90s, boldly tackling such topics as gender-neutral pronouns ("it doesn't really translate," they say, and diligently avoid them throughout). Here's the thing though: I'm pretty sure it's not actually about gender. In the context of the period, gender dysphoria was not a thing that was being discussed in any sort of a way. From the language and imagery used, from the "bashing&

The Justice League

The air in the Hall of Justice rippled horizontally, like water down a sheet of glass, and two figures stepped through as if from Nowhere.   "--was a difficult one," Danu was finishing as she appeared, "I don't want to make a habit of coming here."   "That's okay," said Dane, looking around at their grand surroundings through the red tint of his goggles. "If we get the thing, that shouldn't be a problem."   "Alright, your world, your rules," Danu shrugged. "Now are you going to tell me how we steal this?"   "Oh, we're not," said Dane with a faint smirk. "Don't even try. No, I'm pretty sure they already know we're here - my plan is to --"   A bow string released with a snap. Dane whipped out a hand and a blast of force surged out to deflect the arrow before it reached Danu - it hit a wall and exploded into a tangle of nets.   As Danu stepped back through her portal, Dane tur

Fic: At the Gates of the Underworld

Thor frowned at the flowers on the path, at the cryptic inscription, and at his fellows, each disappearing in turn through the forbidding gates.   They'd explained the way in, yes; eat the poison flower, die. Or something. But there'd been talk about the meaning of the second verse, an antidote to allow your return to the living. Those who'd understood it had gone on ahead and the solution had not been passed back to the group with any great clarity.   He was not afraid of death, he'd demonstrated that enough. Nor was he afraid of what lay ahead within the underworld, though surely many of the denizens of Hel's realm would bear him a grudge. However ... it was not his wish to be separated from his love, so soon after finding her, for the want of a flower or a whimsical rhyme.   Looking back on the path, he saw one other - the skald, Scheherazade, standing proud and alone with a golden arrow tucked in the folds of her cloak.   "I shall remain to protect the

Fic: Identity

James wrapped his hand around the hammer's handle, and his world exploded. "Thumper," said Officer Haynes, and James' sullen demeanour was split by a reflexive grin. Almost nobody used his real name, these days, bar the few local coppers who'd got to know him in their professional capacity, Haynes among them. It was always an obscure pleasure, but the thrill only lasted a moment before his frown returned. Smiling made his bruised eye ache.   Haynes crouched down outside his patrol car to address the fourteen-year-old ragamuffin in the back seat. "What was it this time?" he asked.   "They said I wasn't real," James replied sulkily. "They said I didn't have a mum."   Haynes clicked his tongue and looked over at the other boys, being tended by his partner and a first-aider. Between the four of them they had something like a decade and four hundred pounds on James, but they'd somehow still come off worse. Picking on a kid