Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Few Birds in Stone

I just had what could be considered a Rarebit Dream last night. It was a typical dream that started out with relative normalcy, that eventually ballooned to horrofic proportions. But first, a little explaination about the setting should be in order.

In the bathroom, there were small tiles on the floor with cracked plaster. These were the results of years of gradual erosion combined with spilled water between the cracks. Some of these tiles became so loose that they were only held to the ground by gravity. The cracked plaster didn't just occur to the surface, but also to the foundation undernath. There were chunks so large that they produced deep holes on the bathroom floor. Every day, I would dislodge another piece of loose plaster using wet toilet paper and an unwound paper clip. This wasn't an archeological dig, but I tried to be as careful as possible. One wrong move, and a piece could fall between the cracks and be impossible to take out. I wanted these pieces removed to make sure it would have a better foundation.

Finally, a second layer of cement was placed on top of these crumbling tiles. When the job was finished, I wasn't satisfied with the results, because it didn't feel natural under my feet. There were none of the comforting grooves between the cracks anymore. I was reassured that these would fade away with time, but I wasn't confident.

Sure enough, despite my greatest fears, the plaster coating gradually wore down and started feeling like what I was more used to. However, this meant that for a long time, the bathroom was full of tiny pieces of pebbles that were forever breaking off and bothering me underfoot. As someone who suffers from "Princess & the Pea" sensitivity, this can be very annoying. I started wetting the floor with cloth rags and wiping it constantly so these flecks would stop bothering me all the time. Though I suspect that I might've wiped too hard, because small similar cracks between the tiles have started showing up again. None of the tiles have broken loose, but it's probably just a matter of time.

With that setup out of the way, let's continue onto my dream.

There was a bunch of earlier stuff involving surrealistic desks in the basement, and a VHS library video I bought that I didn't know was pornographic (which made showing it around rather embarassing). Feeling a little flustered, I decided to take refuge into my personal sanctum - the bathroom. I sat down and started reading as normal. (I'm a little unusual in that I can't use the faculties properly unless I have something to read) I can't remember what I was reading, but I noticed that the hole on the floor was a little larger than usual. I leaned down from my position, and started brushing aside the loose concrete when my hand brushed something that seemed to be alive. I was surprised when it turned out to be a tiny hummingbird no bigger than my fingernail. I had no idea where this had come from. Had it been living in the concrete all this time? (Apparently, my subconsious wasn't able to handle living bugs, so it revealed itself as a bird instead)

However, I paid the miniture bird no need, and proceeded to sit on the toilet and do my business. As I continued to read and causually pick at the floor, I noticed that there were more hummingbirds than I thought. They were crawling about in the dirt making high-pitched sounds (I think they were making noise. I wasn't wearing my hearing aids, so I have no idea)

Eventually, in addition to the hummingbirds, larger birds started to appear. There were robins and doves, all of whom could fit in the palm of my hand. I tried to focus on my book, but the number of birds below me was becoming very distracting.

Soon, the hole on the bathroom floor began to develop crater-like dimensions and started to resemble a minature construction site. There were dozens of large birds flopping around in the dirt now. The number of birds increased the bigger the hole became. And some of these birds were also larger than they had every right to be. There were now birds bigger than my arm, and their snapping motion near my feet started to alarm me.

By the time I crushed a puffin's neck underneath my foot, I hightailed it out of there. After slamming the bathroom door shut, I considered putting up a sign up saying "Beware of Birds!", but was worried it might be laughed at. I envisioned a scene similar to what happened to Melanie Daniels at the climax of The Birds. I didn't want any victims to be caught up in a scene of escalation, and had no idea what might happen behind closed doors. I went downstairs to see if anybody was still up, not expecting to see anybody at this late hour. Fortunately, I found my parents watching TV.

My mom turned away from the news report and was surprised to see me. She saw the expression on my face, and asked what was wrong. I started to tell her... and that's when I woke up. The prospect of telling my mother what happened was scarier than what I'd just gone through. I was worried about what her reaction would be, and whether touching the plaster too much would be considered my fault.

This is why I prefer to solve problems on my own.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Makeup of a Smurfette

While browsing around, I recently came across an earlier translation of The Smurfette. There are notable differences from the Papercutz version, such as bluer Smurfs, lopsided text that's not always centered, and handwritten sound effects. (This was before computers made it easier to recreate fonts) Even so, it’s interesting to note what both got right, and what they got wrong.

For starters, both had a rather boring cover, despite the original being written in cursive. Maybe they thought audiences wouldn’t be able to read the fancy writing?

In addition to the Gothic text for the recipe, there’s also a different amount of ingredients used in creating a Rule 63 Smurf. I suppose it determines on which handbook you’re reading. For example, one element asks for “A dash of lying tissue, transparent of course...” while the other book has “Half a pack of lies, white of course...” Makes a big difference doesn’t it?

What’s also amusing is that while the latter was criticized as being too harsh on women, the former has a footnote for the authors not claiming responsibility for the text, under the MCPW (Male Chauvinist Pig Wizards) Inc.

Once Smurfette 1.0 gets accepted into the village, she goes around, snooping everywhere and generally annoying everybody with her presence. One early example is when she finds (and continues to find) a Smurf sleeping on the job. Only, the first discovery is different depending on which version you’re reading. In the first, she sounds more mildly shocked, but in the second, it sounds more like she’s had her preconceptions ruined. She was expecting to find tools, but only found a lazy runabout.

Later, when the Smurfs have had enough of Smurfette’s running around and spoiling their fun with her “girly” stuff, they decide to go to Jokey Smurf for advice. For as annoying as Jokey is with his repetitive pranks, he’s certainly the master of psychological warfare when it counts. Then again, given that everybody keeps forgetting that he hands out explosive gifts on a regular basis, the competitive intellectual level isn’t very high.

So wherever Smurfette goes around, she hears the residents making veiled comments about how fat she’s getting. For the most part, most of what is said is pretty much the same, though there are two minor differences. Can you guess which ones I prefer?

When Smurfette goes to check out the rigged scales, there are different amounts of weight, depending on which measurement unit you’re familiar with. Half an ounce sounds like a lot to me, but as someone raised on metric, I laughed more at the second one.

After being mercilessly teased by everyone, Papa Smurf finds Smurfette crying in bed with suicidal thoughts, and he feels that the best way to boost her self-esteem is to give her plastic surgery. The process isn’t shown, though the ordeal takes three days. By the time Smurfette exits the laboratory, it’s akin to a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, and suddenly, every Smurf who found her annoying suddenly finds her every action charming, even though she hasn’t changed at all.

While the Smurfs are on their way to work, they do some heart carving on trees and picking daisies. The scene passes by so quickly that unless you’re paying attention, you’re likely to miss it. The Papercutz version simplifies the text while explaining nothing, while the earlier version makes it clearer what’s going on.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer Grouchy Smurf’s use of double-negatives.

You might’ve noticed at this point that even the songs are changed. When Smurfette starts singing with her screechy voice, her lyrics are different in each. Here’s one short example where I prefer Papercutz’s version, even if the poetic lyrics are oddly slanted with parenthesis.

When Smurfette sweet-talks Poet Smurf into intentionally open the floodgates just to see the gushing water, Papa Smurf goes to all lengths to stop it from flooding the village. Continuing on even after suffering from near drowning, and being harnessed towards the open spigot to physically close it when no one else would dare come close (badass), he asks for further assistance by asking for a hammer to wrench it tight.

After Papa Smurf surveys the damage done to the village and determining that Smurfette was responsible, she decides she’s had enough of their attitude and proclaims she’s going home to Gargamel’s. At this piece of news, all the Smurfs in the village are shocked, and have her locked up so she can be put on trial, even though most everybody is willing to proclaim her innocent simply because she’s so beautiful. This is another example of being too faithful to the French text. Unless you’re a fungi expert, you’d have to go online to find any reference to it.

Despite all the subtle differences, the end result is still the same. Even after being given a not Guilty verdict, Smurfette still feels responsible for casting the village into disorder over her very presence, and decides to leave of her own accord (not going back to Gargamel’s), until the village isn’t driven so crazy over her. Just how she manages to survive on her own is something that’s never touched on. Meanwhile, Gargamel slinks off, muttering vows of revenge over his persistent garden gnomes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stardust Vs. the World

Several years ago, a comic site posted one of the most bizarre comics that’d ever been seen. It didn’t follow the ritualistic formula of conventional S-hero comics, where a hero faces off a dastardly villain, only to be setback on their first encounter, then succeed in the next meeting with a resounding punch to the jaw. No, these stories had villains who would devise elaborate plans to take over the world by assassinating presidents, growing mutant birds, or stopping all gravity on Earth. These plans would succeed very well until Stardust would come flashing in and implement horrible bizarre punishments on these bad guys until the artist ran out of pages. The unusual Mary Stu protagonists and repetitive use of stiff poses and photoreferenced drawings made Fletcher Hanks something of a postmortem celebrity.

This led to an ambitious project by a fan who was impressed by the off-the-wall quality of these short comics and went on a personal crusade to find more stories done in his inimitable style. When compiled, comparisions to being the Ed Wood of the comics world were not far off. It’s not just that they were bad, they were remarkably bad.

The first book had a lower page count than the second, because Paul Karasik wanted to save the best stuff for last, and was worried there might not be enough material left. He needn’t have worried, since there were more pages of Hank’s hackwork, not counting the stuff that’d been redrawn to replace his stiff faces with goofier-looking protagonists, while still telling the same story.

The popularity of the Hanks characters such as Stardust, Fantomah and Space Smith (I never quite got into Big Red McLane) led to the creation of a fansite where various artists would try their hand at doing their own interpretations. Since they’d never been licensed, and any copyrights would’ve expired with the creator’s death, their images could be taken without fear of infringement. However, despite the promise of more fan tributes to come, there were never any further updates. This was a shame since the spoofed material was of varying quality and just as capturing the essence of a typical Hanks comic, which despite its formulaic premise, isn’t as easy as you think.

Of the six contributors, only T. Allen Spetnagel, Jason Axtell and Elgin Braden, are still available for online viewing via their prospective pages. M!a Paluzz!'s and Stanton Broadway's contributions are still missing. This would be one of these instances where having people compulsively save comics they read would benefit us in the long term. I’m regretting not saving the comic that gave Fantomah the jungle skull-woman a backstory with Anime-influenced art when I had the chance. I opted instead to save what I considered to be the funniest and most sadistic of the Stardust tributes.

In Andrew Greenstone’s version, Stardust is less a lone vigilante residing in a laboratory where he views crime taking place galaxies away, so he can give crooks a fighting chance to carry out their nefarious deeds before he catches up to them. Here, he’s more of a Silver Surfer archetype with an all-powerful master whose physical appearance, save for two large unblinking feminine eyes, defies all description.

Despite the similar setup, Stardust doesn't bother going into time-wasting Shakespearean monologues over how much he despises his orders, but goes straight into doing the job. Now that's work ethics! The results of which are... well, I'll let the remainder of the comics do the explaining for me.

I especially like how all the bad guys on Earth don't so much object to Stardust's genocide of the entire human race, as they do over how he beat them all to the punch first.

For some reason, I'm reminded of Calvin's fantasies where he'd play with his toys and have progressively worse and worse disasters befall his victims. That's what this feels like.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mad Mad World of Sports

For a blog about Sunday comics, I haven’t talked much about other obscure Sunday comics that haven’t been reprinted. The reasons for this are twofold. Firstly, most of the comics I wanted to talk about, I already gave special mention to and gave them the attention they deserved. The second reason ties into the first, which is that the remainder are comics that weren’t very popular to begin with.

The following is a joint creation between Christian and Yvon Tremblay. (Later YC Tremblay & Blez) I’ve been unable to find any reference to either of them online, which suggests that this was a failed attempt. Not all comics are able to survive the cutthroat world of newspaper comics, even without the legacy strips cluttering up the pages, and these samples show us why.

Each strip follows the same single-panel layout. An animal is placed in an absurd situation for their chosen sports profession. Some of these seem rather obvious (a penguin playing hockey) while others seem totally random. (A fox going skiing?) It’s not even an artic fox, but a regular red fox with the typical bushy tail.

Apart from not quite grasping the audience’s attention, the jokes themselves (the major selling point of any comic) aren’t very funny. It’s notoriously difficult to do single-panel comics that’ll convey everything in one humourous situation, and these examples show how not to create a comic. They have all the semblance of a joke, the drawing of a joke, but it isn’t a good joke. There are bad comics that’re funny because they’re awful, and then there’s bad comics that’re just plain awful.

For the most part, they’re more baffling than funny. Like the Monty Python special that collected all of Terry Gilliam’s animations in one short. They’re better seen in small doses than absorbed in one large draft. The problem is that even in small amounts, they’re still largely unsatisfying.

I also suspect that the reason for this strip's obscurity isn't just because of it's subject material, but also because it might've not originated in this country. Take the baseball player rubbing his head. While other comic onomonopia would have him “scratching”, he’s “croushing” instead. Obviously, English isn’t his first language.

While reoccurring animals were rare, there was a common theme between the ones who showed up more than once. Apparently it was decided it’d be funnier just to focus on large animals who were bigger than the people they were around. Before my newspaper canceled this, only Rhinoot, Basely, King-Boskin (later shortened to Boskin), and Wresly were making regular and frequent appearances.

Another reason for not showing these was because the original newspaper print quality for the strips ruined the colourization for many of these comics. The lousy colouring and superimposed double text (making a bad comic harder to understand), would cause epileptic seizures or make people think there was something wrong with their eyes. (Don't worry, it's not just you) I'm wondering if there even is an audience for this kind of stuff. I'm sure there's a surefire formula for displaying cartoonish sports figures in wacky situations, but this isn't it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sazan Closes its Eyes

One of the longest and most ambitious Scanlation projects just recently finished this week; the legendary 3x3 Eyes, better known as Sazan Eyes. The tricky nature of the name could be part of why it was so difficult for this long-running series to find an audience here - readers wouldn't know what to call it. Would they ask store clerks to order Three Times Three Eyes, like it says on the box? Would it be filled under Number, for "3", "T" for Three or "S" for Sazan?

It's been a bumpy journey to reach the end, with translations being wiped out by computer glitches, translators being absent for ages, or real life concerns. The translation effort's taken almost as long as the publication of the actual itself, which seems somewhat fitting. There were a lot of starts and stops along the way. Releases would range anywhere from small chapters to large chunks at a time, with long hiatuses in between giving casual audiences doubt over whether the project would ever be finished. Chances are that most online readers never gave it a try, being too intimidated by its length and were put off with the knowledge it wasn't finished yet.

I only got better acquainted with 3x3 Eyes when the scanlation had gone up as far as the 36th volume. I figured at that point, I could read what little was available, and since it was only four volumes from the end, it wouldn't be that much of a dealbreaker if I didn't enjoy it that much. What I read in the beginning was as typical as I expected. Then the later volumes became more imaginative in terms of action and story. By the time I reached the cliffhanger of the 36th volume, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I felt like I'd gone through a Harry Potter Marrathon with the rest of the climax in the 7th book yet to be written.

So apart from its confusing name, what is 3x3 Eyes about? Well, it has roots in Hindu mythology, which is a refreshing change of pace from a country that mainly focuses on Japanese monsters. It's about a 300-year old 3-eyed humanoid female with a split personality who wants to become human. She comes from a civilization of Saiyanjins that's now nearly exinct because of the actions of Kaiyanwang, a rogue Saiyanjin who became power-hungry and caused the near-exinction of their people before being sealed away. The problem with sealing evil beings is that such seals don't last for long, and it creates a power vacuum over the subjects under his control. Various monsters are running amok without a leader to rule over them, and for that reason, there are multiple factions who're conspiring to bring Kaiyanwang back.

This young-looking Saiyanjin lady named Pai (or Parvati, depending on the personality) finds Yakumo, an Asian-looking guy working part-time at a crossdressing cafe. Apparently, Yakumo's father, an anthropologist professor got involved with this triclops and promised to make her human. As is typical with traveling absent parents, his father passes on his duties onto his son. Naturally, Yakumo is resistant to helping her out, but is distracted at how cute Pai is. Then things are complicated when Pai's familiar, a man-bird monster accidentally tears him apart. Upon seeing her only link to becoming a human die in front of her eyes, she sucks up his soul, turning him into a "Wu", an immortal zombie who can recover from any damage, no matter how life-threatening. since Sanjiyans can only convert one soul in their life, Pai's alternate personality considers this a waste, since Yakumo isn't much of a guardian. But that suits him fine, since the combined soul of a Sanjiyan and chosen subject share the same fate. When Pai becomes human, Yakumo will be human too. This is a common factor for ordinary people getting special abilities in Manga - the story ends when the main character loses their powers.

Shortly after, they discover that a triple-body statue called the Ningen (Humanity statue) somehow has a key role in making Saiyanjins human. However, before they can even meet their goal, they're delayed by undercover monsters who want to prevent that from happening. It isn't until the 10th volume that the humanization ritual is revealed. It's more complicated than merely touching it, which should satisfy anyone annoyed at Pai being denied the chance to get close to it.

This unrequited romance between an undead manservant and his multiple-personality subversive/dominant girl could easily appeal to the Twilight crowd. However, unlike Twilight, both the male and female leads are quite capable in their abilities. Especially Parvati when her third eye is open. She's usually dormant and asleep, but When she's active, watch out.

Sadly, despite being saved from cancellation not once, not twice, but thrice, first by Innovation, and later by Dark horse in pamphlet form and in Super Manga Blast. However, the slow pace of the issues kinda ruined any real enjoyment of the Manga, which demanded to be read at a rapid pace, and some chapters were dropped in order to speed things up near the end.

In a way, the Manga being continued via scanlation probably helped spread its popularity better. Frankly speaking, I wasn't quite captivated by it from the get-go. I felt that the series was too mundane and simplistic in its goal, which would always be just slightly out of reach. In fact, many of the early stories are pretty short, usually consisting of five-six chapters. Not to mention how much the tone changes, especially early on when Yakumo undergoes training offscreen, and Pai loses her memory.

Personally, the Manga didn't start to gain its reputation until the 17th volume. For comparision's sake, that's shorter than it normally takes for One Piece to gain fans among American readers, usually around volume 33-34, the start of the Water Seven / Ennis Lobby arc. Compared to the collection of short stories that are predictable in their length and can be timed with a stopwatch, later volumes have longer story arcs that continue with ever-increasing rising action in search of a climax. You'd think it'd be impossible to maintain that amount of intensity for such a long time, but Yuzo Takada somehow manages to make it work.

A slight warning - 1/3 through the 19th volume, the pages are flipped during the climax, so you better be prepared to read the other way if you don't want to be confused. Some warning would've been nice, and I'm sorry I didn't notice until much later. Apart from some double-page spreads not being pieced together, everything else is acceptable. Other than most of the minor characters in the first third of the Manga are mostly irrelevant or redundant in the last half.

Also, for every time that Yakumo finds something that'll increase his power, he'll either lose it later, or have it handicap him somehow. There's a lot of improvisation that happens in any given situation, which is a refreshing change from other Shonen formulas. What really sets this Manga apart from the competition is that later chapters will continue from the last with no summary of what just happened. While the lack of recap can make the story telling more dynamic, it also makes it difficult to recall certain people when they show up after a long absence. The Beast Attack names (summoned monsters) are often called without much fanfare or introduction. For ease of access, here's a partial list of some of the most used monsters early on:

  • Tou-Chao (Earth/Ground Claw) - tears up the ground
  • Kuan-Yaa (Shining Fang) - a dragon in the form of light
  • Shou-Rin (Running Scale) - mainly used as a skateboard
  • Chin-Kuu (Mirror Tick) - can reflect magic and shoot thick silk
  • Shiva's Claw - a wrist protector that can repress the dominant Saiyanjin's personality
  • Fei-Oh (Flying Jaws) - a flying creature with its eye in its mouth
And then, there's Benares...

Benares is Kaiyanwang's devoted manservant who's trying to find a way to unleash his master back into the world at any cost. Just as Yakumo's life is inexorably tied together with Pai's Benares' life is threatened since he's bound to Kaiyanwang's. Even though he's trapped in sealed confinement, Kaiyanwang is wasting away in his prison, and Benares wants to prevent that from happening at all costs. Sure, Benares could undo the seal anytime he wanted to, but that wouldn't bring his master back into power and full health, and the Humanization ritual has something to do with it.

In many ways, he's more interesting than the master he serves. Though you'd never think that judging by his first appearance. When I first saw Benares, I wasn't very impressed. I had no idea why Yakumo & Pai saw him as such a threat. In his very first appearance, Yakumo readied his attack, and rather than match him head on, Benares just dodged, saying there was no point in two immortal Wu's fighting each other. Were this any other Shonen series, we would've been treated to a dazzling display of power to let us know just how high the stakes were. But we got none of that - Benares kept his cards close to his chest - for volumes to come.

Every time he did reveal his powers, they never quite felt very threatening. It wasn't until the epic fight on the Moon that I finally got a sense of how overpowered the opponent was. There aren't many series around that'll make the Dragon sound like a 2nd-hand Villain Sue (everybody talks about how awesome / terrifying he is without that bad guy actually doing anything) and then turn around and actually deliver on their promise.

What surprises me the most about Benares is that he can be surprised. He's an immortal who's lived years, gained tons of experience, done and seen things beyond imagination. And the actions of his opponents can still leave him shock. And he's no dummy either. We're talking about someone who can see through a magic trick like it was glass and sense someone's intentions before they make their move. All this makes him more interesting than the typical All-Powerful Boss who smugly sees his opponents as mere pawns in the palm of his hand. (I'm looking at you Naraku)

Like any good Manga, 3x3 Eyes is influenced by a Tezuka Manga, The Three-Eyed One. (They didn't call him the God of Manga for nothing) Sharaku is normally a docile schoolkid who's untalented and easily bullied. But if the X-shaped bandage is removed, his third eye opens, and he becomes a malicious person capable of telekenetics, magic and great charisma. He always wants to conquer the world and make the subjects of Earth his willing slaves. Only Wato, an older woman who he constantly wants to claim as his wife is able to stand up against Sharaku and put the bandaid back on his forehead. Think of him as the Japanese equivalent of Hot Stuff, the baby devil in diapers.

So far, Sharaku's mostly showed up in Tezuka's other Mangas as a docile boy, particularly in Buddha. The evil side only appeared in the Gameboy Advance game Astro Boy: Omega Factor. After you reach the last level and fight the strongest robots (Mont-Blanc, Hercules and Gerhardt aren't even fought against, and Denkou doesn't count) and defeat Pluto, a floating robotic head named Death Mask declares death sentence on all robots for causing so much destruction on Earth, Astro included. Only after the credits of the BAD END stop does Phoenix bring Astro back to life. Any game that has cameos of both Phoenix AND Black Jack was enough to get my attention. You have to play through everything twice with slightly different storylines the second time around, but its worth it to see a philosophical argument between Dr. Tenma and Black Jack. Especially fitting since Black Jack's been described as the anti-Astro Boy.

Despite its childish-looking graphics, AB:OF surprisingly difficult, even on Easy mode. Fortunately, everything is revealed, no matter what challenge level you choose. Hard mode is for sadists and completists only.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Endless Archie

Archie as Dream
“I’m not asleep, I’m just resting my eyes."
Archie as Lord Morpheus wouldn’t seem like the most likely candidate, since the two could not be more different. Archie is a typical teenage boy with delusions of grandeur. Morpheus is a brooding entity totally focussed on his job. Archie is constantly getting into trouble, even though he means well. Morpheus indirectly causes damage to the dreaming world by his absence alone. Archie is a very outspoken young boy who taks in an earnest rapid-fire manner. Morpheus talks in a slow melodramatic tone of speech in an inverted black balloon.

The other main reason for casting Archie as Dream is that they’re both the main character, despite (or because of) their lack of personality. If it weren’t for the situations they keep getting themselves into, we wouldn’t bother paying any attention to them. The other common factor is that they’re constantly in trouble with the opposite sex. Archie keeps going on multiple dates with women (sometimes simultaneously), even though it never turns out well for him later. Morpheus gets interested in any female that strikes his fancy until they vow horrible vengeance on his person for whatever wrongs he’s done to them. And those are his good dates.

Also, their wardrobe is dependent on what era they’re seen in. Early stories had Archie with a trademark bow tie & an “A” shirt. Morpheus’ appearance changes every century or so. Likewise, their appearance changes depending on who’s looking at him.

Jughead as Destiny
“Fortune says you will soon reach the end of this sentence.”
Just as Destiny is blind, Jughead also rarely opens his eyes. He’s quite capable of touring the countryscape without ever expending the energy of batting an eyelid. Likewise, he has intricate inside knowledge about just anything that’ll happen before people’ll notice. All this despite the fact he hardly seems capable of getting off his duff and actually doing something.

Just as Destiny hardly bothers to change out of his dusty rags, Jughead sees little point in changing his trademark clothes of comfortable slacks, a cut-off fedora hat, and his purple shirt with a mysterious “S” on it. His other main function is to constantly warn Archie about dating women, since they always end in disaster. Sound advice that Archie routinely ignores.

“You should stay away from that one. She’ll rip your heart out and feast upon your soul for the rest of your life.”
“But I’d still get to sleep with her, right?”
“...Yes, but -”
“Great! That’s all I needed to know pal! Bye!”

Being omniscient doesn’t necessarily mean anybody’ll bother to listen. If Destiny were a bigger food critic, and not just restricted to the fruit in his garden, the parallels between the two would be even more obvious.

Veronica as Death
“I’m going to kill you! And you are going to like it!”
Veronica embodies the bad-girl allure that’s hazardous to your health, even as she opens up new experiences you never knew existed. Even though she’s quite capable of breaking your heart, your mind and your bank account. Mess with her for too long, and you’ll be facing the wrong side of a coffin sooner than you think. Veronica’s also the most attractive one of the bunch, and it doesn’t help that she enjoys playing her role a little too much.

Even though contact with this woman should be high up on the list of things you should avoid, people will wind up seeing her no matter what they decide. Just as smokers ignore the warning label of cigarette cartons, living people will abandon their common sense once in the presence of this goddess. Flirtation and sexy poses will wipe away short-term memories of any previous sufferings. Past sins will be forgiven, mild transgression will be laughed off, and betrayal will be forgotten. It won’t matter what you did in life, since Death is the final equalizer.

Death is slightly less evil though.

Likewise, just as Death gets to experience being a human every century so she’ll understand the pain of life, so too does Veronica attend a regular High School rather than a private school since her father wants her to understand life among normal civilians and not be limited to the lifestyles of the Rich & Famous. This doesn’t stop her from displaying her superior attitude towards everyone she meets, though.

Reggie as Desire
“You handsome devil, you!”
This one’s a no-brainer, really. For all his superior skills, Reggie is self-absorbed to the point of narcism. Any love interests he picks up will pale in comparision to his most devoted companion - his mirror. Having him appreciate anybody that’s not Reggie is like having autistics think about anybody besides themselves. Other than their special interests, they’re likely to put themselves first, since they’re the most interesting people they know. The name comes from the Latin which means “self”.

Like Desire, Reggie also enjoys playing pranks on Archie, no matter how immature or cruel the joke. Especially if they involve dates with women that’ll turn out to be natural disasters on a public relations level. Anything that makes Archie look bad and Reggie look greater is okay in his book. Considering that Desire planned a convoluted overcomplicated plot to kill Dream, one wonders what levels Reggie would stoop to if he weren’t bound by the levels of the Comic Book Code and society.

The only difference between the two of them is that Reggie isn’t androgynous enough to attract members of the same sex. There’s no actual proof that he “swings that way”, but chances are Reggie would pay more attention to guys if they had facial surgery done so they closely resembled his mirror image.

Moose as Destruction
“Violence - the cause and solution to all the world’s problems.”
Like Destruction, Moose is a hurly figure who’s stronger than he looks and has a friendly manner about him. Moose is capable of great sensitivity and philosophy that few people get a chance to see.

But that’s where the similarities end. While Destruction finds alternate ways to deal with problems, Moose’s first, second and last resorts are almost always violence. Despite his name, Destruction is a bastion of charm and self-restraint. Moose has to physically confine himself to prevent further damage. Destruction was willing to throw away his entire realm to pursue other interests. Sharing Midge? Only if you want a one-way trip to the hospital.

Actually, now that I think of it, apart from their size and friendly matter, they’re nothing alike. The only real common factor is that Reggie doesn’t like Moose, while Desire always loathed Destruction. Of course, the only reason Reggie gets Moose’s goat is because he’s interested in Midge. Otherwise, there’d be no problem between the two of them.

Betty as Delirium
“Who asdfkj in the what now?”
This was the inspiration that started off the whole theme, thanks to MightyGodKing’s interpretation of just how crazy Betty Cooper was. From there, it was just a simple matter of finding attributes of the rest of the gang that would apply.

Betty’s similarities to Delirium are pretty close in that they change hairstyles and clothes fairly frequently. Especially since Archie considers Betty to be more of a sister than a girlfriend, which fits Dream and Delirium’s relationship perfectly. Betty started out as the nice neighborhood girl, while Delirium used to be Delight. The rotating writers and artists could explain how sometimes, she’s a wonderful cook who can whip up recipes of grandeur, and other times, she can’t boil water properly.

Likewise, when her interest is betrayed or spurned, Delirium/Betty will not hesitate to exact horrible horrible vengeance upon whoever done her wrong, until she’s rightfully recompensated. Sadly, having her be happy for you is just as dangerous as pissing her off, so you lose either way.

Even Lum, the Manga equivalent of Betty Cooper, a green-haired tiger-stripped bikini-wearing Alien who routinely zaps her love interest with lightning bolts is considered normal compared to the rest of the cast. And she’s supposed to be Ataru’s true love. (According to Tvtropes, Takahashi originally intended the couple to be Ataru/Shinobu, until the public made their preferences known, which is why Lum didn’t show up in the second Manga chapter - she didn’t become a regular until later)

This also leads to the last and least popular of the Endless...

Betty as Despair
“I’m in despair! This unfair categorization has left me in despair!”
This was the most difficult of the seven Endless to correctly fit to any one character. My first initial thought was Midge, since she’s often suffering from the brunt of her boyfriend’s affection, and has no chance to explore any of her other interests. However, Midge’s constantly fighting for more rights and equality from her jealous boyfriend, so the resulting conflict hasn’t been resolved with, but it’s currently being modified. Mr. Lodge would’ve been a perfect fit, with his silver hair and constant exasperation whenever Archie comes over. Of course, there’s the whole dilemma of him being a man, which rules him out. For similar reasons, Mr. Weatherbee is excluded as well. Suffering doesn’t count if it’s only between certain hours of the day.

I then thought about the other teachers at Riverdale High, and none of them really fit either. Mrs. Grundy would’ve been an obvious choice, were it not that she’s more strict than depressed. She’s also mellowed out in her early years to be more sociable and friendly with her students. The rarely seen Mrs. Hagley is more ditzy than authoritarian. Mrs. Beasley is a tough old bat who won’t take any gruff from anyone.

For someone in the same age bracket as the other Endless, that would require going outside the regular cast for other minor characters. Big Ethel has eyes only for Jughead, and despite her ugly looks and threatening demeanor, is too positively giddy to ever be depressed. When it comes to indirect suffering, Jinx Malloy would be the perfect fit, but like Mr. Lodge & Weatherbee, he’s hindered by the fact that he’s male. (Curse the luck!) And Cheryl Blossom doesn’t fit the profile at all.

So that left the only character who’s regularly undergoes bout of rock-bottom depression. This might be seen as cheating, applying two different Endlesses to the same person, but the divide between bliss and grief is very mutable. As Destruction said: “Despair defines happiness, and the two work in tandem with each other.” By the same token, Betty can be simultaneously gleeful and in the dumps at any moment depending on how the dice falls.

It's also canonical since despite her namesake, Delirium is prone to black moods when she doesn't get her way. Since Betty is bound to bouts of deep funks whenever she’s not with Archie, since he’s more attracted to the willful charms of Veronica, that sets off a vicious cycle of suffering that can only be broken when the pattern veers off its tracks. To make events more problematic, Veronica is very good at getting attention, and will stop at nothing to getting Betty back on the mobius strip of mental agony. Given the schizophrenic nature of bouncing between two extremes, is it any wonder why Betty is as messed up as she is?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Herman Movie Summaries


The Great Escape



The Birds

The Wrong Man

Robin Hood

And just for a change of pace, something a little more recent with something really old:

The King's Speech