Interlude Chapter Finale

As they exited the remains of Garrick’s apartment building, they emerged onto a street that he didn’t recognize: bodies lay wherever they had fallen in their flight for their lives, pockmarked holes littered the streets where rounds from the weapons had impacted, cars were either scorched or turned over for cover and filled with small holes where the aliens’ guns had shot through them. There was a thick smoke that filled the air with the pungent smell of burning plastic and flesh. Julia took the lead and wound them through the obstacle course of destruction that Garrick’s neighbourhood had become. They met up with the other people Julia had been scouting with, a young Latina woman named Mariana came over to Garrick and examined him, she told him she had been the one to find him on the floor before running to get Julia to try and help. Mariana was paired with an older man who Garrick found out was her father Joseph, Garrick thanked both of them for their help and they introduced him to the rest of the party: There was John, a mechanic who had owned his own shop before it was destroyed in a battle between the army and the aliens; Natalie, a school teacher who had worked just three blocks from Garrick’s apartment; Thomas, a former criminal who had been paroled not two days before the invasion had happened and Marie a cardiologist from the hospital in his town. They all huddled behind an overturned truck and ran through everything they had found on their scouting raid. Canned goods, batteries, medical supplies, and ammunition were the main focuses, but some of them also found luxuries like alcohol and cigarettes. “Alright, we have as much as we can carry and we even found an extra man, let’s head back to the camp and drop what we have, the Colonel will want to meet Garrick” Mariana said to the party.

“The Colonel?” Garrick asked Mariana, sounding a little scared, “Who’s the colonel?”

“You’ll met them when we get back to camp. Don’t worry, she’s not overly mean” Mariana replied with a smirk as the rest of the party stifled a small giggle. The walked between two completely burned out houses down a small alleyway that Garrick guessed children used to get to the school Natalie worked at. They emerged onto a street in a small cul-de-sac and hurried over to a large van that was parked in one of the driveways on the street. It, along with every other vehicle they had passed on their way there, was riddled with holes from either bullets or those alien weapons. They loaded up the gear and climbed in on top of it, Garrick sat with his back to the driver’s seat facing the back of the van. Julia started the van, but Garrick couldn’t hear anything.

“Did she even star….” he began to ask before Joseph shot him a warning glare and held a finger up to his mouth indicating for silence. Garrick nodded his agreement and they drove in silence to the camp. He kept his eyes down the whole time they drove. As he drifted in and out of consciousness, he realized how exhausted he was but sleep, true restful sleep, not exhaustion, wouldn’t come. He tried to sleep but he kept seeing the faces of his neighbours in the stairwell every time he closed his eyes. He resolved the try and count the turns and time the trip to approximate how far they had gone and in which direction, his attempt was futile. With Julia having to weave around battlegrounds and debris it was impossible to tell when they were actually turning or just maneuvering around an obstacle. After what felt like an eternity the van stopped and everyone began moving towards the door in silence. They all exited the van grabbing the supplies they acquired in silence and moved around the far side of the van. As far as Garrick could tell it was just a mall, one he didn’t even recognize which meant they were in a completely different neighbourhood from his own. They walked past several abandoned cars and through doors missing several panes of glass. They entered the mall and it, like the streets they had traveled down, looked like a battlefield.

Crater’s covered the floor accompanied by scorch marks and, what Garrick could only surmise, was dried blood. The party veered right down a maintenance hallway between a sporting goods store and a photography shop. They pushed the door open hard and ventured through. As they went into the maintenance hallway Garrick looked behind the door and noticed a lot of bedding and sleeping bags that had been placed behind the door to stop it from making noise. The door slid shut but was stopped by several small bean bags on the ground at the side of the door frame, again to stop it’s sound. Julia took the lead and walked briskly down the hallway while the rest followed in silence, down the hall, right turn, left at the next intersection then another left and another right. Finally, they came to a steel door with a keypad, Julia keyed in a code and the light above the panel switched from red to green. The door opened to reveal two heavily armoured marines with their weapons pointed at the door. Julia walked right by them as did the rest of the party. Garrick was followed by Joseph as they moved past the marines and down the stairs they were guarding. They went down what felt like 4 stories and came to another door, Julia entered another code and this door, rather than opening outward as with the previous door guarded by the Marines, slid to the side to reveal a small room. They all squeezed into the room with their gear and the door slid shut behind them. It closed with a faint hiss and then there was the sound of air escaping from a cylinder. The massive light above the door on the opposite side from the one they entered switched from red to green and the door beneath slid open to reveal an underground bunker.

The bunker looked like a cross between a large corporate facility and a military installation. There was a long hallway that led to a large atrium with doors and various hallways on its sides. along the floor were multi coloured lines mapping the way to various crucial areas like the mess and hospital wing. There were several desks lining the hallway staffed by a hodge podge of different people. some military some obviously not. The lighting gave off the weird yellow glow to simulate sunlight even though everyone in the bunker knew it wasn’t.

As they moved into the bunker they were met by a group of kids who ran up to Natalie and started gushing about their school projects they were working on. Natalie stopped and bent down to look the kids in the eye, she smiled and told them to give her a minute to unload the supplies and then she would have something to show them. The kids let out a chorus of cheers as Natalie stood upright and began walking again.

As Natalie went by their attention was turned on to Joseph, “Papa Joseph! Do you have any candy?” they asked him as they surrounded him like a pack of small wolves. Joseph chuckled to himself as he reached into his pocket and pulled out some caramel candies. He gave one to each of the kids and told them to run along, which they did. As the party continued to move down the hallway towards a door to the right side of the large atrium, people started to notice Garrick. There were whispers and stares as Garrick moved with Julia helping her to carry the supplies. They arrived at the door with a small sign that marked ‘Briefing Room’ and Julia turned the knob, opening the door. They all filed into the room and put their supplies on the tables that were set up on the far side of the room. Once they had unloaded their stuff, they took seats along the side of the room, some on the chairs provided and some opting to sit on the floor. They waited for maybe 30 seconds before the door opened and a young woman wearing a camouflage military uniform entered the room.

“Welcome back” she said as she entered the room. She closed the door quickly and managed a fast glance at the supplies on the table, She smirked and then turned back to the group of them; “Excellent work guys, this stuff will really help. Who’s this?” she asked as her gaze came to rest on Garrick.

“Hi, I’m Garrick,” he said as he stood up and shook the young woman’s hand, “your party found me in my apartment and patched me up.”

“Well, welcome to the Resistance, Garrick” She added as she shook his hand. “If you don’t mind me asking, what did you do before the attack?”

“I was a lawyer” Garrick replied, “I worked in Corporate mostly” he added.

“A Corporate lawyer? We got ourselves a big wig here!” she said as she looked around the room and was met with a couple of snickers from the rest of the party. “ah, I’m sorry for the bad joke Garrick, but someone has to try and keep the morale up. I am Lieutenant Banks, Earth Air Force”.

“No she’s not, she’s the colonel!” Mariana said from the back of the room. The group all began laughing, including Lt. Banks. Garrick stared around awkwardly as the laughing died down waiting for someone to explain the joke, nobody did.

“Well Garrick, this is the resistance. It’s not much, but somebody has to make sure that the Drift don’t end humanity, and that’s us. We don’t care about your past or what you may have done, we care about skills and what you can bring to help us because frankly, there aren’t many of us left and we can’t afford to be picky.” Banks said as she gestured for the party to follow her out of the room. She opened the door and proceeded into the atrium, clipboard in hand. “This bunker was built in 2029 as a secret VIP bunker during the second Cold War, we re-purposed it as soon as the first attack came. It’s been a rough 12 hours, people have been coming in all night. Some areas were hit harder than others, your neighbourhood was the middle of the pack, several survivors but not many. I know you just got here and it looks like you got hit a bit”, she gestured to his bandage on his shoulder, “but Recon team #2 is down a man so we could move you there, or if you would rather stay with these folks we can arrange that too. I am curious as to what happened though.” By this time they had walked across the atrium to a small security table where Banks had handed in the clipboard.

“I woke up to the sounds of my neighbours dying in the street and I got attacked by two of them, what did you call them? The Drift?” the security staff, also dressed in air force camouflage, began listening intently. “I didn’t do much, they mostly did it to themselves.” Garrick admitted. “They shot my faucet so water was spraying everywhere, I used a water jug I had frozen in my freezer as a club and a kitchen knife. One of them fell into the water and basically dissolved. The other didn’t go down as easy, ended up tackling it to the ground and stabbing it, a lot, then it dissolved too.”

“Wait, they dissolved?” Banks asked.

“Ya, in the water. They writhed and smoked up, it smelled like rotten eggs a bit and then they just dissolved.” Garrick added. Banks looked the security workers and they nodded as they both picked up a headset and began relaying the information to someone on the other end.

“That’s great Garrick, we had our suspicions but we weren’t sure. Julia will show you to your bunk area, where you can catch some rest. It’s not much, but it’s better than the surface. I’ll just go ahead and add you to her team, and move Dustin from facilities to team #2. Get some rest, you’re going out again in 6 hours.” Banks said as she turned her back to the party, signalling for their dismissal. Garrick turned away from the Lieutenant to see only Julia standing there, the rest had disappeared rather quickly. Julia took him to a small room that Garrick suspected had been a janitor’s closet but somehow had a cot with a pillow and blanket shoved into it along with a small barrack box.

“Get some rest Garrick, I don’t want that wound opening up on our next run. I saved your ass once, I don’t want to have to do it again so soon!” Julia said as she left him in his small room.

The next few days were a blur.

They saved people. They saved a lot of people. They lost some too. Joseph died saving a family from a crumbling building. He got the last of the children out but the supports couldn’t handle the weight of the rubble. The whole building collapsed on him before he could get out himself. Mariana was a wreck, she was trying to dig the debris away herself. She had stripped her fingers raw and bloody before John convinced her to stop. A small service was held for Joseph, a candle was lit and his photo was added to a wall of the known deceased. The world spun on.

They raided a small military outpost for ammunition and supplies. They made off with a lot of gear and supplies but when they went back the next day there was a large crater where the outpost had been.

The next week when they went out, they were ambushed. The aliens were waiting for them. They barely made it out, but the other crew that had come with them was decimated. Banks suspended all operations until further notice. They mourned their dead, but didn’t have the luxury of stopping, the people needed them.

Banks lifted the ban on the raids when a bout of the common cold spread through the bunker, every team was tasked with finding medication and other supplies. They found the supplies, but began finding fewer and fewer survivors.

The ambushes became more and more frequent. But the need for supplies outweighed the potential risks, until it didn’t. The ambushes were moving closer and closer to their base, Banks theorized that the aliens were trying to locate their base to root them out. Garrick thought she was right, but when some of the children who had the cold began getting really sick, he and the other members of the raiding party didn’t care. They left in a torrential downpour to get more medication, thinking the rain would give them protection. They got maybe three blocks from the mall, and they were ambushed. The vehicle was destroyed and the run back to base while firing blindly behind them hoping to hit something was nerve wracking.

As they sat in the small room, Banks entered looking very shaken. “The other teams didn’t make it. You’re the only raiding party we have left. “

BOOM!

Dust fell from the ceiling and landed on Garrick’s pack and rifle he had adopted as his own since joining the Resistance. His head shot up, he knew that sound all too well. It would appear that the Drift had found their location at last.

“Forward Security, report in!” Banks called into the headset that she wore everywhere, Nothing came through. Another resounding boom could be heard. Screams from the rest of the people, the young and old fearing for their lives. Banks left the room and they could hear her yelling for calm. The screaming stopped and angry shouting was being made at the Lieutenant. Garrick couldn’t make out what was being said, but it didn’t sound nice. She came back into the room, her face a bright red, Garrick couldn’t tell if it was anger or embarrassment. She took three quick breaths and looked at them, “Alright soldiers, it’s time to defend the bunker. I need you to get out there and help divide up the citizens into defense teams. They’re coming in and we don’t have time to argue. They need us.” She held up a drawing done by one of the kids in Natalie’s class, it showed them all as heroes, complete with the capes and tights. “These people need heroes and right now, you’re it.”

“We are not soldiers! And we’re definitely not heroes…” Garrick said, his voice quiet.

“I know! But right now, with everything going on, those people out there, they need someone… something to believe in, right now..they need heroes. Now, you can sit here and pity yourselves, or you can stand with me and be the heroes those people need. That’s the choice I leave to you.” She turned and left the small meeting room closing the door behind her.

“Let’s go” Julia said as she stood up, picking up her pack, medical bag and her rifle she always carried on their raids out onto the surface. “Those things are coming in here, and I will not be caught cowering in a room hoping they pass us by while the others outside fight and die for us. I wanted to help people, that’s why I became a paramedic. I will fight to protect these people because that’s what I can do. I couldn’t help Joseph, I couldn’t help those kids we lost, but I can help defend these people. So I’m going out there and I’m going to fight. The rest of you can hide here, but that’s not me.” She strode over to the door and opened it. Without even thinking, Garrick and the rest followed her out into the atrium, their defacto leader.

As they strode out and took positions behind Banks, the people gathered in the atrium silenced their objections. Banks moved fast, dividing up the people and assigning them to a member of Julia’s party. Each party member was responsible for a group of people to arrange and set up however they saw fit to defend the door. The defenses were set up in silence, not because they needed to be quiet now, because everyone knew this was it. There was no way out of this bunker except through the Drift, and that was a fight they probably wouldn’t win.

BOOM!

They took their positions, weapons trained on the door, waiting.

BOOM!

More dust falls making a slight cloud that hangs in the air, the lasers from the rifles visible as they shine against the dust. “You were a lawyer right? Before all this happened?” one of the recruits that was assigned to Garrick asked him as they watched the door.

“Uh, ya. But that was a long time ago” he replied.

“So you must be good at giving speeches? Care to give us a rousing speech?” He asked as his eyes slid over to focus on Garrick while his head remained facing the door.

“You want a speech?” Garrick asked as he looked at the young man.

“Ya, let’s see what you’ve got.”

“I’m not giving a speech.” Garrick replied.

BOOM!

There was a crackle over the PA system and Banks voice came through echoing throughout the bunker, “This is it. This is our final stand. I would like to thank you all for everything you’ve done in the past few weeks to help turn this old dust filled bunker into our home..” She trailed off before coming back stronger, “.. this our line in the sand. We can’t go back so we are going forward. We will push them back and we will get these people out of this bunker. We are their only hope! Through Blood and Sand!”

“Through Blood and Sand!” they all echoed back. As their voices died, there was an eerie silence that filled the bunker, broken only by the coughing of one of the children hiding in a room off the atrium.

BANG!

The door burst open and the first two teams, headed by Julia and Mariana, opened up. When they emptied their magazines, they ducked to reload and the next two teams emptied their mags. They leapfrogged like that all the way back until everyone had emptied one magazine and reloaded. The only thing was, they weren’t being shot at. “Cease Fire!” Banks called out. The silence came back with deafening force. Then he heard it, the faint metallic clink, like a dime on a stone floor. There was a loud “Whoosh”, and all the electronics in the bunker died; the lights, lasers and ammo readouts on the rifles disappeared. Then it started. The screams.

Julia’s team went down first, then Mariana’s. Back and back the screams came, until John’s group in front of Garrick’s went down. Through the smoke he could barely make out a large hulking shape cutting through the resistance members.

He looked up and fired at the exposed sprinkler head that was part of the fire suppression system in the bunker. The sprinkler head broke and water began raining down. There was a sizzling sound coming from in front of Garrick’s group and they began firing. Small bursts at first and then turning into fully automatic. The young man that had asked for the speech was grabbed by a long tendril that looked like a demon of saome sort from the depths of an abyss. He was pulled into the darkness in front of Garrick and his scream echoed through the bunker. “Keep firing!” Garrick shouted without realizing he was the only one left from his group. The tendril came back for him. It grabbed his shoulder that had barely healed. Garrick let out a scream of pain as he was lifted off his feet by his newly healed shoulder and into the darkness.

The one that held him was bigger, much bigger than the ones that had come into his apartment. While it had large tendrils for gripping, there were many more extending out of it’s back with several of the weapons he had seen attached to them. It pulled him close to it’s body and just stared at him as its tendrils streaked out towards the remaining defenders. Screams of pain and fear accompanied every dash of the tendril and eventually Garrick heard Banks shout to fall back. A red flare was ignited behind him which provided some light as the red glow illuminated the creature holding Garrick. The weapons all pointed towards the defenders and began firing. there were no screams this time, just the sounds of bodies falling and rifles clattering on the ground.

The alien’s weapons stopped firing and it held Garrick for a moment. It let out a deafening shriek, the sizzling could still be heard from the water falling onto the creature. One of the weapons on a tendril began glowing white pulsing in a strange succession, then the rest began glowing white in the same pattern. Garrick was dropped roughly to the ground. As he scrambled for a rifle, the creature just stood there, the weapons glowed brighter and brighter. As Garrick grasped the handle of a rifle, he hefted it and pointed at the target. There was a blinding white light.

….

Far away on a Drift ship orbiting the planet, a view screen showed hundreds of bright lights all over the world. The drift operating the console reached forward and swiped through the display, the picture of the Earth vanished to show several smaller ships entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Movie Reboots – Hollywood Needs New Ideas

Hollywood has run out of ideas, it’s no big secret. Gone are the days of inventive new passion projects and now we are in the age of blockbusters. Whether it’s giant robots, epic space operas or one of a dozen superhero films to come out in a year, they are all massive blockbuster events. To compliment this massive blockbuster trend, studios are now doing something even worse, the diverse reboot of a beloved movie/the sequel to an 80’s film that’s 20-30 years too late. The worst thing is that these reboots rarely work, The Mummy, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Terminator Salvation, Superman Returns, Ocean’s 8, What Men Want and now Hellboy (2019); these are all attempted reboots and/diversification recasts of classic films that flopped. There are plenty more examples but these one are the most prominent in my mind, well those and Josh Trank’s Fant4stic… ugh. This week I’m going to look at some failed reboots and Hollywood’s incessant need to try and re-animate dead franchises.

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

Original theatrical release poster

Oh boy, I had such fond memories of the classic Indiana Jones trilogy, and this one just ruined it… I remember being 7 years old and my buddy Malcolm and I watching The Last Crusade while eating chips and drinking pop out of shot glasses because we thought it made us look cool, I stand by our decision! I digress… The Last Crusade which was the final film in the original trilogy was released on May 24, 1989 and ended the original arc perfectly. Flash forward to 2008, when this trash heap of a film was released. It, like the previous trilogy were directed by Spielberg, but I feel like this one screamed of the studio wanting another film and Spielberg finally caving and giving them what they wanted so they would leave him alone. I’m not sure on this but that’s what I hope is true, otherwise I have no way to justify the film… It follows Jones and a young man named “Mutt” as they journey to Peru and the Amazon in search of the lost City of Akator and the fabled Crystal Skulls. Instead of the Nazis challenging Jones and his compatriots, as in the original films, this one takes place in the 80’s and thus the Soviets are the villains to constantly vex the heroes. It ends with them finding the city and placing the skull on one of 13 giant crystallized bodies. These bodies reanimate and then reveal themselves to be aliens, the aliens pull some fancy light show magic and disappear in their flying saucer, no joke. That’s how it ends.

Normally you can justify a film being bad because the script writing was terrible, or the CGI was overused and bad, the acting was terrible or even the final plot twist made no sense. Most movies have one to three of these issues, but this one… it hit all four right on their heads. Harrison Ford delivered a phoned in performance of Indiana Jones that showed he was just there for the pay cheque, much like his appearance in The Force Awakens. The rest of the cast was okay, Shia LeBeouf was over the top as always and Cate Blanchett just looked wierd as fuck as a Soviet with terrible bangs.. The dialogue was terrible and stilted, the CGI monkeys and scenery looks like they were ripped from a straight to video B-list action film, and aliens? really? Fantasy has a large place in the Indiana Jones films, I admit that, but aliens? In a world with the Ark of the Covenant as an example of divine power, and the Holy Grail being able to cure any wounds, why did you feel the need to include aliens? It just felt very out of place and once again screamed of Spielberg caving to studio pressure and pumping out a terrible film.

THE MUMMY

Original theatrical movie poster

No, I’m not talking about the classic 1999 Mummy movie starring the vastly underrated Brendan Fraser; I am referring to the shit show that was supposed to start the whole “Dark Universe” for Universal Studios. The Dark Universe was Universal Studios’ idea to try and compete with the gargantuan MCU and the floundering DCEU. Universal owns the rights to all the classic movie monsters and resolved to bring them all into a singular shared universe and then have some sort of a team up film? however that would work. Originally it was supposed to start off with 2014’s Dracula Untold which starred Luke Evans in the title role. Due to Dracula’s lackluster performance at the box office and it’s impression on the critics and fans they decided to start again fresh with The Mummy. Prior to the release of the movie Universal went ahead and cast every member of their Dark Universe to help strengthen their position as “having it all figured out”. Russel Crowe was cast as Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde, Javier bardem was cast as Frankenstein’s Monster, Johnny Depp was cast as the Invisible Man, and these characters would join Sofia Boutella who was cast as the Mummy. The glue to hold this universe together was going to be Tom Cruise who was cast as a man named Nick Morton, he first appeared in The Mummy film as the main protagonist but would act as the common thread that would tie the whole thing together.

Dark Universe cast announcement photo

The movie itself wasn’t as terrible as it was made out to be. The cast did well with what they were given, but the story just didn’t work. Not to mention the weird inclusion of Dr. Jekyll who has been hunting monsters and cataloging them throughout history? It did exactly the same thing as Batman V Superman and Justice League did, it tried to hard to build an entire connected universe right off the bat instead of letting it happen organically as they did with the MCU. Sofia Boutella delivered a good performance with the tools she was given but she acted far more like a demonic creature than a reanimated princess. Tom Cruise gave a varied performance where some it was authentic and real and other parts were corny and hamish. There were some nice Easter eggs to the 1999 film including the Book of the Dead in Jekyll’s library and the mummy making her face appear at the forefront of the sandstorm. The finale of the film provided Tom Cruise with the Godly powers of the Egyptian God Set and set him loose on the world. He resurrects his dead friend that he started the whole ordeal with and they start off on a new adventure in the deserts of the Middle East. Ultimately the film failed to deliver on its core premise of being an action thriller film and became more of a 2 hour long power point presentation to set up the universe as a whole.

HELLBOY

Hellboy (2019) theatrical poster

11%. The new Hellboy film by Lionsgate starring David Harbour in the title role has a whopping 11% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 33 different reviews. I am not one to put faith in Rotten Tomatoes as a whole, just because of how biased it can be, but this does not bode well for the reboot of Guillermo Del Toro’s great duology starring Ron Perlman. The film hasn’t released to the public yet so details on the plot are sparse, we do know that it centers on a Celtic witch played by Mila Jovovich and her attempts to gain power. Hellboy and the BPRD (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) are tasked with stopping her. Many of the critics have sighted the incomprehensible story and the shoddy pacing as core reasons of the film’s lackluster performance. The studio went for an R rating and ramped up the gore, probably in an attempt to cash in on the success of Deadpool and Logan. Harbour’s performance has been praised by many but even his take on the character isn’t enough to save the film. This film was marred in controversy back in the casting stage when they cast Ed Skrein as Ben Daimio a rugged military member of the BPRD. When the character’s ethnicity was brought to light, the character being a Japanese-American, the film and casting team were slapped with a whitewashing tag. Within two days of the character’s ethnhicity coming to public knowledge, Skrein withdrew from the role and posted this statement on his Instagram and Twitter accounts:

Last week it was announced that I would be playing Major Ben Daimio in the upcoming HELLBOY reboot. I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage. There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement and I must do what I feel is right.
It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the Arts. I feel it is important to honour and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.
Representation of ethnic diversity is important, especially to me as I have a mixed heritage family. It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity. It is my hope that one day these discussions will become less necessary and that we can help make equal representation in the Arts a reality.
I am sad to leave HELLBOY but if this decision brings us closer to that day, it is worth it. I hope it makes a difference.

With love and hope,

Ed Skrein

This move was praised by many for allowing someone of Asian heritage to portray the character in the film, a role that eventually went to Daniel Dae Kim (of Lost and Hawaii Five-O). Will this controversy contribute to it’s lackluster performance? Potentially. But more than likely, the reason behind it’s potential performance is that the target audience still feels robbed of the third film in De Toro’s trilogy that was scrapped in favour of the reboot. I know that I did really enjoy Del Toro’s films, even if the first time I saw the Golden Army in theatres I fell asleep… I had just got off a double shift at the base and was in a cold dark theatre in a comfy chair, sue me!

When I did see the whole thing through, it was very apparent that a third movie would be needed to round out the story and finish it on a great note. I, like many others, were super excited when a third Hellboy film was announced thinking it to be the great end to Perlman and Del Toro’s run, only to have our hopes dashed with the giant “Reboot” stamp slapped over it.

Like I said at the beginning, Hollywood has run out of ideas, like really run out. To the point that they’re going as far as to release the exact same movies as before just with the gender roles reversed. There’s so many things wrong with this approach that I can’t even begin to identify them all, but the main one is that they aren’t even giving women their own original stories. They’re just slapping a gender reverse on a movie they know did well in the past with a male lead just so they can say “we released a female led movie!” It’s insulting and shallow for studios to shove that crap down our throats rather than giving us meaningful new creative stories. Stop trying to cash in on popular 80’s film and TV shows and come up with some new ideas! Reboots and re-hashes are the bane of any movie goer’s existence. We’ve had 3 Hulks, 3 Spider-Men, 6 Batmen and 2 Supermen all in various reboots and re hashes of the same character. Honestly, how hard is it to come up with an original story? Not very. Hollywood needs to wake up and stop peddling the same shit over and over again. End of rant.

See you next week!

Self Sacrifice And It’s Role In Comic Media

Tragic backstories, incredible feats, super powers and self sacrifice, those are the things needed to create any superhero. Whether they’re male or female, black or white or any shade in between, super powered people need those qualities to really be considered heroes. Which is something that I find kind of absurd, and I’ll tell you why, self sacrifice? Why is that on the list? Look at any superhero and at one point or another they have sacrificed themselves for the greater good, every single one. The really sad part is that some of them did it in terrible runs (Civil War II) or it didn’t really have any effect (Spider-Man). This also flies in the face of the death problem in comics. How someone can die and you just have to wait about a year before they’re back in printing. Everyone has done it, at one point or another. This week I’m going to take a look at some of the pointless sacrifices in modern comics and highlight some that I believe to be rightfully deserved.

Let’s start with the bad…

*This post will be photo heavy. I apologize in advance*

CIVIL WAR II

Let’s run down the body count of the heroes involved in Civil War II and what it meant:

War Machine: He sided with Captain Marvel and had his spine punched out of his body THROUGH his armour by Thanos. He died to give Tony and Carol a reason to fight.

Bruce Banner: Died by Clint Barton firing a specifically designed arrow through his head. He died to increase the stakes on both sides as Clint sided with Tony and She Hulk (Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner’s cousin) sided with Carol.

Tony Stark: Died to allow Riri Williams to take up his position and add more diversity to the Avengers. He isn’t technically dead, just in a coma.

Rhodey’s Death at the hands of Thanos

Rhodey and Bruce’s deaths served no actually purpose except for to antagonize the sides against each other. In the original Civil War, Goliath (Bill Foster) was killed by the rogue Thor clone, Ragnarok, and both sides immediately stopped fighting. They held a funeral for him so they could pay their respects and refused to fight on the day of his funeral. Bruce was killed and the only thing that happened was Hawkeye went on trial for it, a trial in which he was acquitted.

Tony’s death served to introduce us to Riri and allow her the space to take up his mantle. Instead of Jarvis or Friday, she has a Tony Stark AI imbedded in her armour, which can also project a 3D model, that helps her with her tasks. Tony’s was the only death that served an actual purpose and like I said before, he isn’t actually dead.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN/ SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN

This one might confuse some, but I did like the Superior Spider-Man run. That being said, I also recognize that it was a completely ridiculous death and we all knew it wasn’t permanent. In Amazing Spider-Man #700, Otto Octavius succeeded in switching his and Peter’s consciousnesses. Otto was left in Peter’s superpowered younger body, and Peter was stuck in Otto’s older dying body. Before he passed, Peter instilled in Otto his sense of responsibility and his memories, swapping his place in the memories for Otto’s. Otto realizes the error of his villainous ways and vows that Peter is not leaving the City and it’s people in the hands of a villain. Throughout the beginning of the run you are led to believe that this change is permanent and that we are going to have to get used to this new Spider-Man, but that’s not the case. At the end of one of the earliest issues, we are shown a spectral Peter alive and fighting in Otto’s subconscious so that he might regain control of his body. While the whole run was great and gave us some great Spider-Man moments, for me, it felt like there was a giant ticking clock on every issue counting down until Peter regains control. Not really spoiler alert at all… he does, and Otto makes the final sacrifice to let Peter retain his body and duties as Spider-Man.

Peter instilling his values and beliefs on Otto Octavius prior to his death

Peter’s death appeared to be permanent, for all intents and purposes he was gone and he wasn’t coming back. I do believe that Marvel received a LOT of flack for this decision which is what prompted the return so quickly. I cannot say for sure, but normally someone isn’t returned to life so quickly after a run, it takes some time. Wolverine’s recent resurrection via the Space Stone, is a prime example of this.

SUPERMAN

The Death of Superman… What. A. PUBLICITY STUNT! I was a whopping 2 years old when DC Comics pulled this event out of their ass to sell more copies of their Action Comics title, over six million copies to be exact. It was ranked as the top selling comic in 1992 from any single publisher. Superman comic sales had been on the decline for several years following some very lackluster arcs and more interesting characters getting their time in the spotlight. The original idea was for Superman to marry Lois lane, but when the television show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman produced an arc of the same type, the writing team wanted to do something different. They decided to kill the big blue boy scout which was completely unheard of at the time; this arc also marks the first inclusion of Doomsday into Superman mythology. DC Comics gave the writers and artists the go ahead and the death of one of their flagship characters was crafted. It involves Clark’s first encounter with Doomsday and his sacrifice to stop the monster. After going blow for blow across the majority of the United States, the fight ended up in Metropolis where the final few punches were thrown.

Superman’s Death

The arc ended with Superman and Doomsday both delivering a fatal blow to the other and the Man of Steel falling to his enemy. A funeral was held for him, his adoptive father suffered a fatal heart attack at the news, and he was buried under a massive monument to him. Thing is, he wasn’t dead. He was in a coma, where he remained until one of the imposter Supermen, claiming to be him reborn, stole his body and hid it in the Fortress of Solitude. This is also where we were given the Black suit fans were clamoring for in Justice League, as well as that God awful mullet that he sported for nearly a decade…but we just won’t talk about that. This death, like the others I’ve mentioned was just a pointless publicity stunt. There was NO WAY that DC Comics was going to kill one of their Trinity, and even if they did, not leave him dead. Before the end of the run, Superman is back to life and kicking ass with his Tennessee Tophat (mullet) in tow.

DESERVED SACRIFICES

JOHNNY STORM aka HUMAN TORCH

I will say, I’ve never really been a fan of the Fantastic Four. It has nothing to do with me disliking them or their powers, I just never got into their stories as a kid. I have seen all the movies… ugh. But when I heard of Johnny Storm’s death at the conclusion of the Three storyline, I was intrigued as to the circumstances and how it was handled. The basic rundown of the arc is that there were three events that the Fantastic Four needed to stop, due to these events happening simultaneously, they split the team. Reed and Sue were off doing their own mission and Johnny and Ben were left to deal with the Cult of the Negative Zone. The Cult had infiltrated the Baxter Building and opened a portal to the negative zone unleashing an Annihilation Wave through the portal at Johnny, Ben (currently de-powered) and the children of the future foundation. Franklin Richards managed to use his powers to kill the insectoids that had come through and with the help of the other children, they deduced the only way to close the portal was to do it from the Negative Zone side. Whoever wen through with that would never come back. Ben began to step through the portal saying he would be able to hold them off long enough to close the portal and for the kids to say bye to Reed and Sue for him. Johnny grabbed Ben and threw him back into the building, stepping through the portal and hitting the over ride to close the portal. As the portal closed the last thing the kids and Ben saw was Johnny igniting himself and declaring that he wasn’t scared of the million to one odds.

Johnny accepting the odds

Like I said, I was not as familiar with the Fantastic Four as i am with other heroes, but this is something that sticks. Johnny sacrificed himself to save his best friend, his niece, nephew, and a bunch of other children. Not to mention the whole universe! The Annihilation Wave numbered in the billions and would not be able to be stopped easily. Respect to the writers for this, it really helped to show that underneath his brash exterior johnny cares deeply. Johnny obviously didn’t stay dead, but his death lasted for a while.
*Following the reading of Johnny’s Last Will and Testament, wherein he asked Spider-Man to take his place on the team, Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four and received his future foundation suit.*

Johnny’s final stand

BARRY ALLEN aka THE FLASH

Barry Allen is the fastest man alive, and it’s his speed that earned him one of the most memorable deaths in comics. During the storyline for Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry was retired from being the Flash and living in the 30th century with his wife. As the Anti-Monitor began his attack on the multiverse, a series of natural disasters began occurring in the future. Barry returned to the 20th century to warn his friends that something was wrong because despite the futuristic technology created to stop them, the natural disasters continued to occur. As he arrived and was about to warn Batman, Barry was pulled into the Antimatter Universe by the Anti-Monitor. Barry was tortured by Psycho Pirate and forced to watch as the Antimatter cannon was prepared to fire at his universe. Barry managed to break free by using Psycho Pirate to turn the Anti-monitor’s servants against him. He began to run around the canon so fast that he was able to strip the outer casing off destroying the canon. Barry needed to run so incredibly fast to accomplish this feat, that he disintegrated and absorbed into the Speed Force. Barry’s sacrifice single handedly allowed for the heroes to triumph over the Anti-Monitor and win the battle. Due to him being absorbed by the Speed Force, there were no remains to bury. A funeral was held in his honour with a gravestone placed in new York City. Barry’s sacrifice was known the world over and served as the catalyst for Wally West (Kid Flash at the time) to take up his mentor’s mantle and become the new Flash.

Barry beginning to unravel the Anti-Monitor’s canon

Barry’s sacrifice is probably the most influential death in comics as a whole. His willingness to sacrifice himself to protect not only his friends and family but the entire multiverse is what cements Barry as one of the best heroes ever created.

Barry destroys the canon and dissolves into the Speed Force

*Following Barry’s death, he was absorbed into the Speed Force and became a bolt of Speed Force Lightning. This bolt traveled back in time and was the same one that struck Barry all those years ago giving him his powers. Yes. Barry gave himself his Flash powers.*

GREEN ARROW aka OLIVER QUEEN

Oliver Queen/Green Arrow has sky-rocketed into popularity with the show Arrow starring Stephen Amell in the title role. Most people don’t know how massively different the television Oliver and the comics Oliver are form each other. Television Oliver is much more of a Batman style, Dark and Brooding and very little humour. Comic book Oliver is much more outspoken, humourous and political. Ollie’s death may not have been the most glamorous or the most impactful but it still shows us a death done right. Oliver was recruited by the NSA and asked to infiltrate and eco-terrorist cell known as Eden Corps. After he earned their trust, he began a romantic relationship with the group’s leader Hyrax. Through his connections Ollie learned that Hyrax was loading abomb onto a plane bound for Metropolis. The yield of the bomb was large enough to destroy the City itself and everyone in it. Ollie boarded the plane and through a nasty firefight and battle with another undercover agent, Ollie was the only one alive. He attempted to disarm the bomb, but his arm became trapped in the device. Superman arrived on the plane and tried to help, but Ollie had triggered a fail-safe which would detonate the device if his arm was removed. As the plane neared Metropolis the only option appeared for Superman to dismember Ollie by ripping his arm off. Not wanting to become an amputee Ollie told him know and removed his hand from the device triggering the explosion. Superman was largely unharmed by the explosion but Oliver was completely vaporized. With nothing left to bury, a small ceremony was held in his honour with his son Connor firing an arrow into the air, where it landed marking Oliver’s final resting place. Connor decided to take up his father’s crusade and become the new Green Arrow.

Oliver refuses to let Superman rip his arm off

Oliver’s death was one of the events that didn’t affect many, but those it did, it hit hard. Hal Jordan, specifically, was hit very hard by Oliver’s death. So much so that when Hal went crazy and became Parallax, he used his power to bring Oliver back from the dead. This new Oliver lacked his soul, which was still in heaven and became very political in his vigilantism. Oliver may not be the most liked but he is by far one of the most left leaning heroes. His adventures had started becoming more and more about defending the disenfranchised and the downtrodden like Robin Hood, the character he was modeled after.

Death in comics is not permanent, or rarely is. Certain characters have remained dead for years, but most of them find their way back in one way or another, whether it’s a complete universe reset, Alien shapeshifters that kidnapped them years before, time travel or magic our Heroes tend to not stay dead for very long. I don’t mind when heroes bite the bullet and fall in their pursuit, I think it actually makes them more realistic. It shows that they aren’t invincible Gods that can shrug off any damage and keep going. That being said, if you’re going to kill of a character, do it for the right reasons and by God… DO IT WELL!

See you next week!

Story – One Thing You Should Never Skimp On

For this week I decided to take all of my interests and try and condense it into a topic that covers everything, Story. A good story obviously has a lot of elements to engage the consumer and maintain their interest no matter the cost. I’m going to look at examples of my favourite entertainment mediums and highlight when stories have worked and when they’ve flopped. There are obviously exceptions to every rule but as a general stance, story is something you should never ever compromise. I’m going to highlight one failure and one major success for each category, let’s dive in…

GAMING

Oh gaming… I could write a full post about games that were supposed to be great and dropped the ball *cough* Anthem *cough*, but I’m going to focus on two games that I’ve played extensively, Witcher 3 and Destiny. First let’s look at the one that botched the story, Destiny.

DESTINY

The inaugural piece and focal point of Bungie’s deal with Activision/Blizzard (a deal that has since fallen through), really shit the bed on the whole story telling front. While you would play missions through the game, unless you were paying attention to the barely audible dialogue of your ghost (your companion), you missed everything. I know some players who played over 40 hours in the game and still can’t tell you what the main focus of the story was. It appeared that you were fighting the Fallen (aliens), only to switch and fight the Cabal (more aliens), then switch to the Hive (even more aliens) and finally end up killing a Vex God (another race of aliens). What made it worse was that the majority of the story and the background lore was only accessible through Grimoire Cards. You earned these cards by playing the game but had to go to the Destiny website to actually read them. Ya, you had to do homework to understand the story of the game… Not only did they botch the story, but the best part of it, the fact your Ghost was voiced by Peter Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame), was removed in their first update! They took out Dinklage, due to scheduling conflicts with Game of Thrones, and brought in Nolan North! I mean, respect to Nolan North, he does some great work, but you don’t replace Dinklage with him. They also replaced Nathan Fillion with him as well! Fillion voiced Cayde-6 (one of the Vanguard Guardians, and my favourite character) and provided most of the humour for the game. In Destiny 2 he was replaced by North and then they just straight up killed him! I am not a happy camper about that…

Ghost from Destiny

WITCHER

It’s no big secret that I love the Witcher games. They’re expansive, lore filled, and actually follow a comprehensible story. From the first game that was released on the PC way back in 2007 to the Wild Hunt which was released in 2015 (now holding the most awards for any single game at 251) the story has continued to captivate audiences since its release. The main protagonist is Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher (Monster Hunter) and focuses on his various adventures detailing his exploits and his training and protection of Ciri, the daughter of the Emperor. Each game delivers a new and exciting story to the Witcher mythos and entices consumers to expand their knowledge on the subject by buying the graphic novels and original works by Andrzej Sapkowski. I remember seeing the trailer for Witcher II: Assassins of Kings, in a Gamestop with couple of friends during a trip to Kingston. As the TVs show a rotation of current and upcoming trailers, the trailer for Assassins of Kings came on and everyone stopped to watch. I do mean everyone. Myself and my friends, the employees, and the other patrons all stood stock still watching this trailer. I have never seen anything like that until the explosion of the MCU and their genius marketing campaigns. Here’s the trailer for your enjoyment:

FILM

Films are actually notorious for skimping on story for some big blockbuster action sequences. Films like the Michael Bay Transformers franchise beat this practice to death… Not all film franchises do this, but there are quite a few that fall into this practice.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

Justice League… oh what could’ve been if not for studio interference… I know I have praised this film before on this blog, but the nostalgia glasses were pulled off my eyes long ago and I have seen the light of truth… it’s a bad movie. Do I still like it? Yes, because liking something and it being considered “good” are not mutually exclusive. I LOVE the Marvel Ghost Rider films, are they bad? Obviously! But because of my love for the character I can look past it, the same thing can be said in the most part for Justice League. Here’s the problem with Justice League, the story makes no sense! Literally none. When WB got wind of Zack Snyder’s plan and his vision they got scared because of the lackluster performance of Batman V. Superman, and frankly, can you blame them? Zack was eventually removed from the project, whether by his own volition or the studio and him parting ways and Joss Whedon was brought in to revitalize the movie. People give Whedon a lot of flack for the film, and some of it is rightly placed, but he didn’t really alter the story at all. He added pretty much ALL the humour in the movie and added some more character interactions to make the League appear as more than just wooden and emotionless demi-gods. I have long said that WB and DC comics make movies for comic fans whereas Marvel makes comic movies for everyone. The main issue with not only Justice league, but Suicide Squad and Batman V. Superman is that DC assumed everybody knew the characters. Which a lot of people didn’t. The core characters obviously, but not the secondary and background ones that influence the plot. They assumed you knew the motivations and back story of all the characters and only chose to highlight the ones they deemed important. These large assumptions meant that the story was gutted and replaced with more action which is one of the MANY reasons the movie failed.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS

This is Peter Jackson’s crown jewel. The theatrical cut makes perfect sense and the extended cuts for the purists deliver all the extra content in spades. This is the ONE book to movie adaptation that nobody has any complaints about.

Perfection.

Enough said.

COMICS

CIVIL WAR II

Civil War II Issue #1 cover

I’ve already done an entire post on this run so I’m not going to dive to far into it. To be frank, it was really ridiculous and unnecessary. Marvel Comics and DC Comics seem to have this idea that there needs to be some sort of “event” or “crisis” every year to keep readers interested. I understand their thinking, but when you have so many events that you have to start putting “II” after it because you ran out of original ideas, it’s time to just take a bit of a break. The story line involves an Inhuman named Ulysses that can see the future. Nobody is sure how reliable his visions are but Captain Marvel and her side think that Ulysses’ visions are enough to warrant arrests and pre-emptive attacks; whereas Iron Man and his team want to test the reliability of the visions first and think the crime needs to be committed before the punishment can be dealt out. Captain America said it best in Captain America: Winter Soldier “I thought the punishment came after the crime?”Not only was it ridiculous, but the story line seemed to be there just to remove certain characters from continuity to make room for a more diverse line up. The original Civil War was probably Marvel’s best event and its ramifications can still be felt in the comics. This second one though, it was just a cheap sequel to try and cash in on the success of the first massive hit.

BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN

This masterpiece by comic legend, Jeph Leob, was released in 1996-1997 and still remains as one of the best Batman stories ever written. It starts on Halloween night and continues through all the major holidays as Batman races to solve the mystery before more people die. It introduces us to great characters like Calendar Man, and long time favourites like Catwoman, Joker, Harvey Dent and Jim Gordon. The iconic art style really helps to complete the story as told by Leob and immerse the reader in the tale. The story is not predictable and throws you for twists and turns as the victim pool grows. We are shown some iconic images from the Batman mythos and the descent of certain characters into madness. All in all it’s a gripping story that grabs your attention right away and refuses to let go. I found myself unable to put it down. I read the entire thing, all 13 issues, in a matter of hours and was floored by the ending. First and foremost, this is a mob story. The main characters are those of the Gotham crime families with Batman, the GCPD and other masked individuals scrambling to either pick up the pieces or get out of the way of the inevitable gang war. Leob weaves an intricate tale of deception and double crossing to deliver one of the most commercially and critically successful Batman stories of all time.

Batman: The Long Halloween massive print Paperback

Story is THE most integral part of any type of media. Movies, games, comics, even music; all tell a story and when you sacrifice that for some more flashy elements, your creation suffers. I wish some companies would realize this and stop putting out garbage products which serve no purpose other than to try and make them money. They can’t be proud of what they produce and as a fan I can probably say, the fans really aren’t either.

Until next week!

Office of Naval Intelligence – Halo’s CIA

This morning as I was drinking my piping hot cup of “Canadian As F*ck, eh?” courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company, I stumbled across a video by the Youtuber, HiddenXperia, on his coverage of ONI’s betrayal of the Master Chief. As an avid fan of the entire Halo series, like bought Xbox over Playstation specifically for Halo, this is something that I had never heard of. I always knew that ONI were a shady bunch of people, but this ranks up there with Umbrella Corporation and their experiments on workers without their consent. This week is going to be devoted to some of the more “shady shit” ONI has done within the Halo universe and how they’re basically the CIA with a whole universe to play with.

OFFICE BREAKDOWN

The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is broken down in various sections which each handle different matters.

Section Zero – Internal Affairs and Investigations (private police force within the UNSC)
Section One – Military Intelligence
Section Two – Propaganda and Information (Spin doctors to keep/distort public perception)
Section Three – Special Projects (SPARTAN Programs, Blacklist Prisons, Experimentations)

This article will primarily be focused on ONI Section Three and some of its nefarious dealings.

SPARTAN PROGRAMS

It’s no secret that the Spartan II project, is the first foray of ONI’s begin into shady practices (technically it was first Project ORION but we’ll stick with the SPARTAN II). I’ll give a brief rundown of their involvement in the Spartan II initiative.

Master Chief after he crash lands on Alpha Halo

As Dr. Halsey built on the Carver Findings and proposed her own potential outcome to the scenario, she petitioned ONI section three to allow her funding and free reign to create the next wave of super soldiers. ONI had conducted it’s own analysis of the Carver Findings (hypotheses presented by Dr. Elias Carver on the breakout of Insurrection) and come to roughly the same conclusion that Dr. Halsey had. They therefore agreed to fund her program and to maintain the secrecy, they utilized all four branches of ONI to mask the project. As the project began it’s earliest stages, Dr. Halsey declared that child recruits are easiest to indoctrinate and to undergo the radical surgeries required. ONI attached Lieutenant Keyes to Dr. Halsey as she moved around human controlled space selecting recruits. When the project finally began, ONI operatives abducted each of the children and replaced them with a rapid grown flash clone. All of these clones would die within the year making the recruits to the program effectively ghosts.

Not only did ONI directly create the Spartan IIs, but they also “acquired” several of them for specific purposes. One of these purposes was the formation of Black Team. This was a small squad of Spartan IIs outfitted with modified armour that carried out black ops missions directly for ONI high command. They carried out assassination missions and asset acquirement missions for ONI against humans/covenant/flood/ and prometheans. On their final mission to obtain a Forerunner artifact, all contact with Black Team was lost. Black Team was found by Blue team and noted as “Missing in Action” on Installation 03. All Spartans are noted as “Missing in Action” instead of “Killed in Action” to keep up the appearance that Spartans never die (this was a practice implemented by ONI).

Spartan Black Team

In addition to Black Team, ONI also acquired 3 other Spartan IIs which they formed into Gray Team. Gray Team was meant for one purpose, to infiltrate far behind enemy lines and cause whatever havoc they could without support from any friendly units. This led to extensively long missions in small quarters which is why the team was limited to the three “most independent and individualistic” of the Spartan II recruits.

ONI also “acquired” Spartan 051 Kurt when he was recovered from deep space following a malfunction by his EVA pack. He was officially listed as MIA but was recovered by Colonel Ackerson of ONI. He was given the surname of Ambrose promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was tasked with training the Spartan III recruits on the planet Onyx. Kurt sacrificed himself to hold back the covenant invasion force and allow Blue Team and Team Katana to escape into the Forerunner Shield World at the core of Onyx. He detonated 2 Fenris nuclear Warheads which vaporized the covenant invading force and the rest of the planet that was not guarded by the shield world.

KILO FIVE

Kilo Five is one of the more secretive things that ONI has done. Kilo Five is a secret Blacks Ops team that is run by a former Spartan II and serves a guerilla hit and run squad. It’s field commander is a Spartan II and the rest of the squad is made up of 3 ODST Troops, Professor Evan Phillips and a Smart AI known as Black Box. The main purpose of Kilo Five was the start an insurrection amongst the various Sangheili (Elite) factions following the Schism (when the Elites and various other Covenant allied with Humanity against the brutes and their forces). Kilo Five answered directly to Margaret Parangosky, the Commander in Chief of ONI. They operated with complete impunity using whatever means necessary to accomplish their missions.

Kilo Five

Now that we’ve covered most of the stuff the people know about ONI let’s talk about the things they don’t know…

NIGHTFALL

In Halo: Nightfall, Jameson Locke and his ONI Remote Tactical Strike Team stopped a Sangheili bio weapon attack on the colony of Sedra, with minimal casualties. As they completed this mission, they noticed a rare element which was the base of the bio weapon. The element was completely unique to a single shard of the Alpha Halo which was destroyed by the Master Chief at the end of Halo: Combat Evolved. Locke and the remaining uninfected members of his team, partnered with Sedran Colonial command and their leader Colonel Randall Aiken to venture to the shard and obtain a sample of the element to manufacture a cure. The expedition was attacked by a large colony of Lekgolo worms (drone organisms that make up the Hunters in the Halo game series) which are attracted to electrical signals. As the expedition forces dwindle, Locke and private Macer managed to make it to a small 2 seater craft called a “tug” and managed to escape the shard. The rest of the team were killed either by infighting or by the worm colony with colonel Aiken sacrificing himself using a HAVOK nuclear warhead to destroy the Alpha Shard and the Lekgolo colony. When Locke and Macer return to Sedra and manufactured the cure, ONI whisked them away “for immediate debriefing”. Nothing is known about what happened to Macer, however following the mission,Locke left ONI and enlisted in the now declassified Spartan program.

Nightfall release poster

Nightfall wasn’t that bad of a covert mission, except that ONI completely covered up the bio weapon attack, citing Boren’s syndrome as the cause of the sicknesses, disavowed those who died on the shard and whisked Macer away to Black Site facility to never be heard from again.

BENJAMIN GIRAUD

Benjamin Giraud was a civilian contractor working with ONI and their section two office. He was a field reporter that worked with the UNSC to provide front line news about the war effort to the folks back home. After he witnessed the Master Chief “Save Humanity” during the battle of Mombassa in 2552 (Halo 2 campaign), he decided to discover the truth behind the Chief so that people would be able to know their hero. He worked tirelessly to arrange interviews with various individuals to get the story on the Chief in the year of 2558. As he went through the list of contacts provided by ONI and the ones he found himself, he discovered that all of the ONI contacts were plants meant to muddle up the information and hide the truth. As he discovered the cover up, ONI threatened that they would ruin him if he pursued this story. Deciding that the people needed to know the truth about their saviour, he went against ONI and continued the investigation on his own. He discovered that the Master Chief and the other Spartans were nothing more than children who had been abducted by ONI retrieval teams and indoctrinated by the UNSC. Appalled at what he discovered, he decided to expose the cover up and show the people of Earth Space what ONI had done. He arranged an interview on a talkshow on the ECB News channel hosted by Charles Kesler where he would reveal the entire story to humanity so that ONI would lose it’s support. Unknown to Giraud, ONI (through their Section two office) controlled the news channel. Prior to Giraud’s interview, ONI arranged for witnesses to be aired refuting every single point and fact of proof that Giraud had. When he came on the air and delivered his evidence, he was seen as a crack pot conspiracy theorist and completely discredited. Following the interview, he was apprehended by an ONI security team from section zero, and taken to their Midnight facility (a top secret high security black site prison hidden in the Asteroid belt). Giraud was sentenced to solitary confinement in Cube B-349 (cell B-349) where his mind slowly began to unravel due to the isolation and not having any human contact for weeks on end. He would punch the walls of his cell until his hands were bloody, rub his head along the wall until it bled and smear it around the walls. The last mention of Giraud states that he is still in his cell at the Midnight facility and the use of knockout gas is frequently required to stop his self harm.

ONI FLOOD EXPERIMENTS

This is the crème of the low for ONI. They condoned experiments with the Flood on human prisoners and covenant prisoners of war. ONI backed a crazy scientist, Major John Smith, who deliberately infected several human prisoners and infected Elite prisoners. He was infecting the prisoners to attempt to find a cure for the disease and to try and weaponize the Flood virus for use in a theater of war. The containment was broken and the entire ship, The Mona Lisa, became infected with the exception of Smith and the elite, that had been nicknamed by the Marine retrieval team, Henry. As the team enacts the “Cole Protocol” (scrub all Navigational data and if possible either make a blind slipspace jump away from Earth or scuttle the ship) they are notified they have 20 minutes before a nearby UNSC ship, the Foulcault, will deliberately destroy the ship to prevent the spread of the infection. Smith hijacks the pelican the retrieval team arrived on and leaves the ship to save himself. Seargent Lopez, her remaining crew and Henry destroy the NAV data and damage the engines to stop the ship from going anywhere. As they attempt to evac they are attacked by the flood infected prisoners. the rest of the team fall to the infection with the exception of Lopez, Henry and MacGraw. MacGraw takes one of the two escape pods and flees the ship leaving Lopez and Henry to fight over the last one as their time runs out and the UNSC Foulcault scuttles the ship. It is later revealed that the Foulcault was operating under direct orders from ONI high command to scuttle the ship and leave no trace of their experiments.

Lopez v. Henry

These are just a few examples of the “shady shit” that ONI pulled throughout it’s tenure. They are also responsible for the creation of the MJOLNIR power armour and several advanced weapons utilized by the UNSC. Mostly though, it’s obvious that for every thing they admit to doing or being involved with, there is probably another 100 that they swept under the rug and eliminated all trace of.

That’s it for this week’s post! it’s pretty short compared to some of the other ones I’ve posted but there isn’t much info on ONI and their nefarious dealings… I wonder why… See you next week!

“Whatever It Takes” – Avengers Endgame

I spent a large portion of the week waffling over two separate ideas for this week’s post and then my oldest friend Malcolm sent me a golden nugget that I could use… the new Avengers Trailer! Now for those who haven’t seen it, this isn’t a regular teaser like the last one they published, with all the heroes looking defeated, this is a full blown trailer! Check it out below:

Oh boy! So many goodies! Let’s dive in!

THE TRAILER

This one like the previous teaser starts with an exposition by Tony as he drifts through space following the defeat of the Avengers on Titan. He reminisces about how everything started with him 10 years ago (which we now know is false, thanks Captain Marvel) and how it’s going to end with him alone in space. He expands on how he has let Pepper down and hoped he would be able to pull one last amazing surprise out of the bag for her (implying his evading certain death on multiple occasions), but this time he sadly won’t.

While this exposition is going on we are shown black and white shots of Tony after he crashed during his initial escape from the Ten Rings in Iron Man from 2008. The interesting thing is that despite the rest of the shot being black and white, every instance of red is vibrant to show a great contrast.

Black Widow and Ronin/Hawkeye

We switch perspectives to see Steve’s beginnings with Peggy Carter voicing over saying ” The World has changed… none of us can go back. All we can do is our best… and sometimes the best we can do is to start over”. We are then shown shots of Steve in a support group for survivors of the snappening and a nice wholesome shot of Clint Barton (Hawkeye/Ronin) teaching his daughter how to shoot an arrow like him. This is a great shot that further highlights Clint as a family man and a nice Easter Egg to female Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) in the current Marvel comics. The final shot of Steve’s sequence comes from Peggy’s funeral where he was a pallbearer. Again, with keeping in the theme of Tony’s exposition, it’s in all black and white except for the colour red on the flag draped over Peggy’s casket.

Hawkeye training his daughter

Thor’s exposition comes accompanying black and white shots of Asgard, his father and him, and him watching as the other heroes disintegrate following the snappening. The colour red is again amplified in the bleak black and white frames.

We shift back to Steve saying that he has been telling everyone they should move on, but then he finishes with saying “…some do, but not us”. The colour returns to the trailer to show him sitting at a table in Avengers HQ with Black Widow and Bruce Banner. We see Scott Lang standing in front of his ex wife’s/ daughter’s home which looks like it hasn’t been touched in a while and staring at some missing flyers posted to the telephone pole.

Widow delivers a great line saying ” Even if there’s a small chance, we owe this to everyone who is not in this room, to try.” We are shown some various scenes of the heroes looking angered and resolved that they are going to try to set things right.

Steve responds by saying “We will. Whatever it takes”; which is echoed by Widow, Hawkeye, and Tony voicing over shots of them each individually. The Avengers theme blares through the trailer as we finally see the Avengers walking through the hangar at the Avengers HQ wearing their white Quantum suits. Cue the title card! The purple Avengers symbol is now being put together as the title ‘Endgame’ appears in a flash of purple light.

The final shot of the trailer shows Thor walking up behind Captain Marvel, her turning around and standing her ground as he calls Stormbreaker to him. When she smirks at him as he stands there resting on his hammer he looks up to the others in the room and says “I like this one”.

MY THOUGHTS AND PREDICTIONS

Oh boy. This trailer gets me super excited to see this movie! Although, for the first time in a LONG time, I will not be able to see it opening night. I’m going to have to wait a full 4 days before I’ll be able to see it! I digress…

First thing that’s very evident from this and the previous teaser is that despite having lost everything the Avengers are not going to let this slide. That should be evident, because they’re the Avengers, but this shows that while they may accept that they finally lost a fight, the war is far from over.

Captain America in his Quantum suit with Nebula in background

It’s sad to think that this is going to be the last time we see the original Avengers on screen together. We know all of their contracts have officially run out. There may have been some back room extensions on certain contracts (Scar Jo and her Widow solo film), but Chris Evans has stated that he is officially done as Captain America. RDJ is amazing as Tony Stark but let’s be honest, Marvel can’t afford to keep him around much longer. We have Captain Marvel and Black Panther set to take over as the leaders of the team following the departure of the founding members. They will be joined by newcomers: Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Scarlett Witch, Ant-Man, Vision and maybe Hulk will stick around.

One theme that is running throughout the Marvel comics is the belief that the Avengers are invincible. This belief is held by the population of Earth and even some of the Avengers themselves, that no matter what happened they will pull through because of who they are. The MCU has taken this concept and incorporated it into their version of the team.

Infinity War showed us that while they may be Gods among humankind, they are far from infallible. Thor’s hubris led to Loki’s invasion of Earth, Tony’s narcissism created Ultron and despite their best efforts, they could not stop Thanos from getting all the stones and causing the snappening. As I’ve said before, they may be down, but they are far from out.

Tony said it best in Avengers from 2012, ” You’re missing the point. There is no throne. There is no version of this where you come out on top. Maybe your army comes and maybe it’s too much for us, but it’s all on you. Because if we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damn well sure we’ll avenge it.

BONUS

Rocket and War Machine

My new favourite power couple from this trailer is Rocket and War Machine! I don’t know what they’re looking at in this scene, but if Rocket is smiling it’s either really really good or really really bad, there is no in between…

Avengers:Endgame is released on April 26, 2019. See you next week!

Gender Disparity In Comics – Why We Need More Female Characters

With the release of Captain Marvel this week, I thought it would be a good time to discuss a topic that has been a hot button issue for many fans over the years, female inclusion in comics. Both Marvel and DC have some great female characters that have become mainstays in their franchises; Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, Captain Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Jessica Cruz Green Lantern and Thor (yes, Thor is a woman now) are all amazing female characters that have not really received their time in the spotlight. Wonder Woman received a phenomenal film directed by Patty Jenkins starring Gal Gadot; Harley Quinn was in the Suicide Squad portrayed by the amazing Margot Robbie; and now Captain Marvel is making her big screen debut starring Brie Larson. The only problem is that all of these films are very recent, as in within the past 6 years, which is a huge issue. There have been female led comic book movies in the past but they were few and far between and most were not well received. Women have been present in comics for decades and they’re only now being recognized as equal members of their respective universes? Why? I can’t answer for the past, but their modern inclusion has a lot to do with the movement of society to recognize women as equals. Which goes in part with the second (and probably the the bigger deciding factor, for studios at least) female heroes are becoming more and more popular, which in turn… means more money. And everyone loves money…

Captain Marvel – Carol Danvers

This week I’m going to dive into the evident lack of female characters and how that’s changing in big ways.

THE OLD DAYS

It’s not a secret as to what exactly female characters were used for in comics before the modern push of equality. With the exception of a few, like Wonder Woman or Susan Storm, they were mostly relegated into one of either two camps: 1. Eye candy for the male readers or 2. Love interests for the male superheroes. Let’s take a look at the DC Superheroine Power Girl as an example of the first camp.

Power Girl is a Kryptonian from an alternate reality. She is the cousin to Superman and goes by the name of Kara Zor-L. She is for all intents and purposes the alternate version of the main Earth Supergirl. She is known for having a busty figure along with a very skin tight, long sleeved unitard with a gaping hole on her chest. She first appeared in 1976 and was drawn by artist Wally Wood. When he first began work on her title, Wood was not happy with being relegated from a position he really wanted to work on Power Girl. He noticed that most of the editors weren’t even paying attention to the things he submitted, so he began to draw Power Girl with increasing cleavage size each issue to see how long it would take to get noticed. Power Girl grew in popularity and it took about 8 issues before someone finally commented on the size of her chest, at which point Wood stopped expanding her assets. She remained as her busty well known version for many years and became a sort of hallmark for female figures in comics. Eventually, in 1992 in an issue of Justice League Europe, Power Girl explains why she chose her revealing costume (the skin tight unitard with the “boob window”); she actually responded with a very body positive and progressive response “[It] shows what I am: female, healthy. If men want to degrade themselves by staring, that’s their problem, I’m not going to apologize for it. ” Despite some artists changing her costume and trying to draw her in more realistic proportions, the changes never seem to pan out. These changes are always met with criticism by fans and she’s always restored to her large chested unitard wearing self.

Power Girl – Classic costume

Any good story has a love interest, it’s a fact. The Godfather, Inception, Departed, Star Wars, Big Lebowski, even The Lion King all have love stories as apart of their overall narratives. Romance can help to serve as a resonant point for fans and allow them to connect to the material through either personal experiences or personal desires. The only issue with including romances in the likes of comics is that for a LONG time, most of the main characters were males. This didn’t automatically mean that all female characters have to be relegated to love interests, but looking at the demographic of the readers, they were. There are a lot of female comic fans, but the male readers far outweigh them and as such, the Publishers cater to the largest fan base. This meant having women with unrealistic body proportions relegated to love interests and damsels in distress. There is no one company that did this, Image, DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse are all guilty of the same thing. Sue Storm, Mary Jane Watson, Janet Van Dyne, Star Fire, Carol Ferris, even Lois Lane were all secondary characters that were meant to be love interests for their male hero counterparts despite being some of the smartest and strongest women in comics. Hell, Carol Ferris literally became a supervillain because of her love interest, Hal Jordan Green Lantern, and their on again off again romance. I’m all for a good love story if it’s done properly, but I’m not a fan of taking either established female heroes/characters or making new ones specifically to be a love interest. It’s 2019, come on.

LACK OF FEMALE CHARACTERS

Harley Quinn main title run

This goes hand in hand with the previous point of love interests. There was/is a disturbing lack of female characters in mainstream comics. For years, the only female member of the Justice League was Wonder Woman until they added Black Canary in 1969. Janet Van Dyne/Wasp was included in the initial roster of the Avengers but she was relegated to secondary fiddle to her husband, Hank Pym/Ant-Man. Now I will say that the Avengers did always include at least one if not two female members, but again, they VERY RARELY ever took center stage and were normally always tied up in some sort of love plot. One of the most popular female characters in modern comics, Harley Quinn, started as a sidekick/love interest to the Joker in the Batman Animated Series. Since her introduction in the show, she has grown massively in popularity and has her own comic line. As a former psychologist, her comics lean heavy into her battle with her own mental issues, her acknowledgement of these issues and her working to make herself healthy.

One of the major pushes in the last few years to bring gender equality into comics actually came from Marvel with their introduction of a female Thor. Thor Odinson, as an Asgardian, is veritably ageless, so the only way to have him stop being The God of Thunder was to kill him or have him lose his power. Marvel didn’t want to kill off one of their more powerful and popular characters, so they did what I think was the best thing, and had him lose his power. The inscription on his hammer reads “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor”, and in support of the modern feminist movement had Jane Foster, Thor’s former lover and terminal cancer patient, pick the hammer up and assume the title of Thor God of Thunder. Thor has gone on to have some great adventures, was asked to join the Avengers, and even made the ultimate sacrifice to protect Midgard. She was since brought back by Unworthy Thor and Odin because they felt she deserved another chance.

Female Thor a.k.a. Jane Foster

As I said, there has been a large influx of prominent female characters in comics but they’re not all being given their own titles. Sure we have the staples like Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Spider-Gwen; but most are still just background characters. In the MarvelNOW! publications, they had an amnesiac named Tamara Devoux assume the title of Captain Universe when the unipower made it’s way to her and chose her as its avatar. She had been in a coma for 10 years and had no memory of how she came to be in that state before becoming the embodiment of the universe itself. She became one of the most powerful forces in Marvel Comics and she wasn’t given her own title? Really? Come on…

BIG CHANGES

In recent years, major and independent comic companies alike have made a huge push for gender equality in their published works. While the top individual comic sales are predominantly male centered titles like: Batman, Action Comics, Amazing Spider-Man, Venom, and Return of Wolverine; the top 10 most purchased graphic novels and collections of 2018 feature a large amount of female led titles. Of the top 10 graphic novels in 2018, 5 of them featured women in lead roles. Saga, which earned itself 3 spots in the list is an epic space fantasy series published by Image Comics. In fact, all of the top graphic novels of 2018 are published from the same company, Image comics. Saga is the story of two characters on opposite sides of a galactic war that find love and risk all odds to raise a child that could end the conflict. It has received amazing reviews with Comixology giving it a 5/5 as well as Comicbook Roundup giving it a 9/10. It won a total of 13 awards from 2013 to 2018 with several others going to Fiona Staples for her artwork and to Brian K. Vaughan for his writing.

Saga vol. 1

Not only are we seeing more female led comic titles, but there are more and more female creators being added to existing titles as well. Creators like Kelly Thompson, Gail Simone, Seanan McGuire & Joëlle Jones are all making huge strides in the industry and delivering some great content that fans love. Margaret Stohl has been working on Captain Marvel since 2016 and her work has been regarded as some of the best the character has seen since G. Willow Wilson created her. Wilson is actually currently heading up the run of Wonder Woman for DC Comics and has been killing it with her stories in their Rebirth initiative.

For those who might not be interested in the print form, we are also seeing a large influx of female led movies and female created movies. Wonder Woman by Patty Jenkins was one of the best comic book movies in the past 10 years and her highly anticipated sequel should garner just as much praise. We are finally getting a Captain Marvel movie which releases tonight across North America starring Brie Larson who made news recently by calling for more equality in the interviewer selections by the press for their exclusive film interviews. We are also getting another addition to the DC Comics movie universe with Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) which just finished principal photography and is going into full production mode very shortly.

New 52 Wonder Woman

Despite the strides studios have made recently, we are still a far way away from true equality in comics and comic media. We need to purchase more female led/created content so that the studios realize that that type of material is not only wanted, but highly sought after. Hopefully soon, we can get the studios to update their some of their archaic thinking and move towards the elimination of gender disparity in comics.

That’s all for this week! See you next week!