Tag Archives: Star Trek
This was an exciting weekend for me. I helped some guy move. (Don’t worry, he was a friend not some random guy I saw lugging a couch down a flight of stairs by himself.) I also saw a panel featuring the majority of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (I’ll tell you about it if I have time.) Finally, Marvel announced that they were releasing 700 comics for free on their digital APP. Unfortunately, they’re only free until tonight. (Well, that was the case, but because of some server issues that has changed.)
Let me get my grumbling out of the way. Firstly, on the iPhone and Android tablet versions of the app the 700 issues were not organized in the best way. There was no easy way to see all of them at once. They were divided into groups, but some issues weren’t available unless you went digging for them. And some, from what I could see, weren’t available on the app at all. I sort of get this, as they want you to be tempted to try other stuff that you see. But, I buy a ton of Marvel comics and I was most interested in trying stuff that I haven’t read before, so I had to dig for a good long time to find some gems. Now, I didn’t mind that aspect of it too much as I love digging through long boxes and this reminded me of that. To a newbie though, this was probably pretty frustrating. If you want to see what Marvel has to offer, you should be able to access the free samples as easily as possible.
The other big problem was that the server couldn’t handle all of the interest that this promotion generated. Sometimes I couldn’t log in. Other times it would crash as I was trying to load a particular category of issues. They tried to fix this on the fly, but it didn’t help much. They’ve pressed the pause button on this, so today isn’t the last day after all. Keep your eye out on the app, and I’m sure they’ll restart it soon.
All that being said, I did download over 350 new comics, and it’s hard to grumble too much about that. There are some obvious things that you should download, like any issues of House of M or Civil War that you can get your hands on. But, there are also some buried treasures in there. Things that you might miss after downloading yet another Deadpool special. Here are some of the most interesting ones I found in my hunt:
- Any Marvel Vault issue: I didn’t know that these even existed, but they’re fascinating. These are old fill-in issues that were never needed. So, they were retouched years after they were produced and released into the world. I can’t wait to check these out. The Hulk/Human Torch team-up even has Steve Ditko art!
- Age Of Apocalypse Alpha and Omega: This was one of the greatest crossovers in comics history. At least, that’s what I think. It turned all of the X-Men books on their heads and captivated my imagination and the imaginations of my friends. These two issues are the beginning and end of that series. You can also find the first issues of a bunch of the series that take place in-between.
- Deadpool Killustrated: This series is nuts. Well, at least this issue was. Deadpool is tired of killing the Marvel universe and has decided to slip into novels and kill the characters in those. It’s very metafictional, but you do get to see Deadpool kill a giant whale. So, there is that.
All right, so those are the three that I’ve come across so far. But, there are also a bunch of one-shots, graphic novels, and first issues that are worth your time. If you come across something I should check out, let me know!
Graham Becksted will tell you about the Star Trek panel some other time. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 76th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
There aren’t many creative personalities that I can honestly say I’ve been following most of my life. I guess Patrick Stewart would be on that list between Star Trek and X-Men. I guess the cast of the Simpsons, since they’re almost as old as I am. But the most consistent one that I can think of is Peter David.
Most of you probably have no idea who that is, but he has had a surprisingly big impact on the geek world. The thing is though, his biggest impact has been on the under used corners of any geek-verse. For instance, his biggest claim to fame is a twelve year run as the writer of the Incredible Hulk. As big a name as The Hulk is, especially after his great appearance in The Avengers, he’s never quite equaled his Stan and Jack Merry Marvel Siblings. He’s no Spider-Man or X-Men. He’s more on the level of Daredevil. He needs a particular vision to make him really work, and David’s run on the book is legendary. Some of the most memorable Hulk stories are his, and they helped launch a young artist and famous ball enthusiast named Todd MacFarlane.
He also has had extensive and memorable runs on X-Factor, an X-Men sister-title. Speaking of sister-titles, he also has quite a cult following for his Supergirl stories. And, I can’t think of a more niche mainstream superhero than Aquaman, and yet Peter David did some pretty cool stuff with him.
One of the hallmarks of his stories is his sense of humour. Even in the darkest stories, he manages to slip in a joke or a sly reference to lighten the mood just a little. That’s really what keeps me coming back to his work. It’s always fun. The stories aren’t always great, but I never put it down feeling like I’ve wasted my time.
As evidence for this, I present Babylon 5. I watched 4 seasons of this show, and barely remember it. It’s Star Trek Lite. The writing, acting, sets, and effects pale in comparison to a show that it was in direct competition with. But, Peter David wrote two episodes and I think those episodes are the best of the series. Or at least, the best that I saw. They weren’t overly serious, or trying to make grand commentary on the universe. They were just tasty nuggets of what that world could be.
He also co-created his own TV series. It was called Space Cases and it was like Lost In Space meets Captain Planet. A group of kids from all different species get, well, lost in space and they have to learn to work together. It didn’t last very long, but I think anyone who grew up with it remembers it fondly. It also has a ton of geek cred- The other co-creator is Billy Mumy, Will Robinson from Lost In Space; it stars Walter Emanuel Jones, the original black Power Ranger; it also stars a young Jewel Staite, from Firefly and Stargate Atlantis; and it guest starred Mark Hamill and George Takei.
Lastly, I want to talk about his novels. Somehow, between all the comics and TV shows, he’s managed to crack out a bunch of novels. Some original ideas, and a lot of work for hire. He’s written some of the best known Star Trek novles including Imzadi, a bunch of Q books, and the New Frontier series, which has hit over 20 books.
The reason I bring all of this up is that Peter David has had a stroke. He’s in rough shape, but is slowly improving. But, because he lives in America, his health care has been expensive. Based on that laundry list of stuff I’ve listed above, David must have touched some corner of the geek world that means something to you. And, if he has, I humbly suggest you check out his website and purchase something by him. There are more details here – http://www.peterdavid.net/2013/01/04/here-is-how-you-can-help-peter/
Graham Becksted hopes Peter David gets well soon. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 72nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Another week, another tough time deciding what to write about. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any big controversy this week that I care to talk about. And, I’ve been pretty busy with real life, so I haven’t had much time to worry about pop culture stuff. But, I have managed to see several trailers for upcoming films and I guess I can try and discuss them… So, come with me as I attempt to make commercials sound interesting!
Star Trek Into Darkness
This trailer came in two sizes – One minute and six seconds, and one minute and 18 seconds. And if you ever wondered what difference twelve seconds could make, you’ve never seen geeks puzzle over the meaning of two man hands separated by a piece of glass before! But, yes, that was the biggest deal to come out of this sliver of ecstasy. Two hands, one seemingly Kirk’s and one seemingly Spock’s pressed on opposite sides of a piece of glass. (Or, more likely, a piece of transparent aluminum…) Now, normally, I’d snark my ass off about this, but I literally gasped when I saw it. Yes, I am that much of a Trekkie.
For the uninitiated out there, this is very reminiscent of Spock’s death in the OG Star Trek 2. It’s a tender moment that brings tears to the eyes of the hardest men out there. And makes hard the teariest men out there. The frustrating thing about this teaser is that it lives up to it’s name so well! It teased me like nobody’s business. They’ve kept the villain’s identity a secret and while he does talk in this, we still don’t know who he is. A picture was released recently that identifies him as John Harrison, but what the F does that mean? If he’s some random, why all the secrecy? He better be Khan or Gary Mitchell or something, or I’m going to lose my mind.
Man Of Steel
Better known as the new Superman movie, this trailer was only just released today. I haven’t had as much time to digest this one. I have to admit, I was a little leery when I heard that Zack Snyder was going to be directing it. Don’t get me wrong, I like most of his work. The Dawn Of The Dead Remake, 300, Watchmen are all good to great. Sucker Punch sucked and Legend Of The Guardians literally put me to sleep. But, what really concerned me was his seeming overreliance on computer graphics and green screens.
Okay, so obviously I understand that a movie about a man who flies and punches holes in mountains is going to need some CG. But, Superman is supposed to be one of those down homey, boy scouty heroes at heart. I mean, his first villains were mobsters and corrupt politicians. He needs a hefty dose of reality to make him seem truly special. And, if this trailer is any indication, I’m cautiously optimistic.
The latest M. Night Shyamalan opus also had it’s trailer debut online today. It stars Will and Jaden Smith and seems to be about two space dudes kicking ass on a wild Earth. Yeah, apparently Earth was abandoned, or some such and they crash there and nature has taken over and it’s scary. And stuff. I can’t say it looks terribly interesting, but hey maybe there’ll be some twist that will redeem the whole thing. Pff, what am I saying? “Maybe”? Who am I kidding?
Graham Becksted also watched the trailer for Oblivion. It looks like Wall-E if Tom Cruise played the title character. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 70th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Once again, this week I’m having a hard time coming up with 600 words worth writing. Some might say that I have yet to accomplish that feat in the entirety of my time on this column, but those people are cruel and should not be acknowledged. They’re more afraid of me than I am of them. Etc.
Yet again, I am turning to that old standby source of inspiration, Matt Jones. In his post yesterday, he asked his readers to pick the best female protagonist in geek media. The problem is I’m actually having a hard time narrowing it down.
First off, I’m going to eliminate any and all video game characters. In most cases, video game characters owe a lot to your choices and to what you bring to the character. I’m sure there will be people you can make convincing arguments for Lara Croft, Joanna Dark, and Fem Shep, I’m just not one of them.
That just leaves us with movies, novels, TV shows, and comic books. Easy answers are Xena, Ripley and Scully, but I’m not a huge fan of Xena, the Alien franchise, or X-Files so those are out. I love me some Battlestar and I seriously considered Six or Starbuck, but their character arcs get a little wonky as the show goes on. (Trying to avoid spoilers…) I think of all the women on BSG, Laura Roslin has the strongest case for being a great female protagonist. She is a strong leader, she bravely deals with cancer, and is incredibly compassionate. I would vote for her in a heartbeat.
Everyone knows my love of Star Trek, so you might think I’d turn to the Federation for my pick. Unfortunately, there aren’t a heck of a lot of good female characters on those shows. Captain Janeway is probably the first one that comes to mind, but she was on that franchise killer Voyager so it disqualifies her immediately. Same goes for Seven of Nine, B’Elanna Torres, and Kes. I’m also extending the disqualifications to Enterprise, so T’Pol and Hoshi. Finally, anyone who thinks Uhura and Nurse Chapel from the original series still qualify as strong female protagonists needs to get their warp core breached.
That leaves The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Troi ended up being a decent character, but she started off pretty weak sauce. Dr. Crusher is fine, but doesn’t have much going on. Major Kira, I think, is the only one who stands a chance against the other women on this blog. She has a really interesting back story, she’s tough, and she has a great progression throughout the series. But, she still doesn’t quite make the top of the list.
Comic books are probably the first place that you expected me to turn to for strong female protagonists. Not because the medium is known for them, but because that’s what my columns are usually about. And, there are certainly some great female leads in superhero books – Wonder Woman, Storm, Batwoman, The Invisible Woman, Power Girl, and The Black Widow to name a few. But, because of the ever changing creative teams of comic books it’s often hard to pin a character down. Wonder Woman in particular is an ever changing character. Every creative team seems to have a whole new take on her. So, I guess I’m excluding comics too.
Well, superhero comics anyway. The character I’ve decided to go with does have her own comic book. But, she’s probably best known for her TV series – Buffy: The Vamprie Slayer. I know, not exactly a bold choice. The thing is, she is too great a character not to pick her. She’s funny, and strong, and very relatable. But, she also fights weird shit like zombies, demons and, obviously, vampires. She has a great collection of friends and enemies that come together and make her an even stronger character. I don’t know how anyone could consistently watch the show and not love her.
Anyway Matt, that’s my pick. She could kick your pick’s ass.
Graham Becksted likes the ladies. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 71st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
All right, as promised – MORE STAR TREK!
But first! A quick recap. In my column of a couple of weeks ago, I introduced the notion of intra-Trek fanbase fighting. For example, someone who ranks Enterprise as the weakest is probably not going to get along well with someone who ranks it the highest. In many ways it’s like the Civil War. Except nobody dies, and there are five sides. Also, unlike the Civil War, it’s not tarnished by a lame Voyager episode where they ruin the Q by having the Continuum fight a civil war.
As promised, I will now go through my ranking and explain my reasoning. Reader be warned – some of these opinions by frighten or offend you. Or possibly bore you. Hopefully, though, they sway you to giving Trek a chance.
1.) Star Trek: The Next Generation
The original series is definitely the source from which all Star Trek is birthed. But, most modern Trek, and most modern Sci-Fi TV series owe a lot more to Next Generation. It took the basic concept of a ship in space and made it respectable. It’s the original space-procedural. Every episode a problem arises and one or more member of the crew has to solve it. The characters, while lovable and interesting they’re kind of shallow. They all had episodes that focused on them but, like CSI or Law and Order, what really kept you coming back was the weekly problems. And, I think it’s that reliance on simple weekly formula that got it the highest ratings of any Trek series.
But enough about why it was popular. The reason I like it is because that simple formula lead to some great episodes that explored really interesting ideas. The captain of the ship is captured and is essentially brainwashed into becoming one of their greatest enemies. How does the crew deal with having to fight a man that they respect and adore? Luckily, it’s neatly wrapped up in two episodes, so you get to see it all unfold pretty promptly! Not only is it neatly wrapped up, it’s barely ever mentioned again. (Unless you count that one movie.)
For many years, the show was in near constant reruns. You couldn’t avoid it, and because of that I sort of took it for granted. Now that it’s been a few years and I’m actually trying to find episodes, I appreciate it so much more.
2.) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The first spin-off of Next Generation, this show took everything that you thought about Star Trek and turned it on its head. Instead of a ship zipping across the galaxy, this was a (relatively) stationary space station. Everything was dirty and broken down, instead of shiny and new. There were story arcs that lasted seasons, and characters grew and changed. They talked about things that the other shows avoided, like religion and government corruption.
It’s a great series that predates a lot of the arc based shows that were popular a few years ago, like Battlestar Galactica and Lost. It took concepts like the fight between the Cardassians and Bajorans (something that was briefly touched on in TNG) and fleshed it out into something deep and interesting. That story played out over the course of the whole series.
There were shades of grey to everything, which is something you can’t typically say about Star Trek. It’s definitely the most mature of the Treks.
3.) Star Trek
Now mature is something the original series oftentimes was not. It was often silly and only sometimes intentionally. I’m sure you’ve heard how ahead of its time it was, and all of that is true. But, the show was also very much of its time. For every Khan Noonian Singh and Edith Keeler episode you got one or two evil Space Hippy episode, or Kirk switching minds with a woman and William Shatner being super sexist.
That is part of the show’s charm, though. No matter how ridiculous a concept was, everyone always seemed to take it seriously and try their best to make it work.
4.) Star Trek: Voyager
Remember how I said that DS9 took TNG concepts and fleshed them out and made them better? Voyager took TNG concepts and absolutely destroyed them. They’re goal seemed to be to humanize everything. And that’s fine, except their idea of “human” seems to be generically nice.
The concept is that the USS Voyager gets lost in space tracking down a Maquis ship. The Maquis are violent rebels who don’t like how the Federation deals with the Cardassians. So, when both ships get lost in space and have to learn to work together, you wouldn’t be out of line in expecting sparks to fly. They don’t. The Maquis integrate pretty smoothly and became as nice and generic as the rest of the crew.
That’s the first in a long line of missteps that the show made. They turned the Borg from an amazing, unknowable, unstoppable force of nature into people that could be turned and bargained with. They made the lovable, immortal space imp Q into a guy who wants to have babies and settle down.
It did so much damage to great Trek concepts that for the next series they couldn’t continue the series forward in time.
The series that wanted to be cool so badly that they dropped Star Trek from the title. Despite that, the first episode had an Enterprise, references to the eighth movie, and Klingons. It really couldn’t have been more Star Trek. Well, it could have also been good.
Now, my knowledge of this show is admittedly sparse, but that’s only because I gave up on it. I’ve seen a handful of episodes and it just doesn’t hold up. There aren’t cool storylines, just convoluted ones. Take, for example, the “Temporal Cold War,” a concept so dense that even typing it’s name is boring.
The last episode is a prime example of where the series went wrong. The entire episode serves as an hour long pep talk to Commander Riker as he prepares for a difficult decision in an episode of TNG. The whole thing so desperately wants to fit into Trek lore that they’ll drag stuff from the other series in entirely needlessly.
Anyway, that’s about all I can muster on this topic for now. Seriously, if you want to change my mind about any of this tell me some episodes I should watch. I love talking Trek even if it is with someone who violently disagrees with me.
Graham Becksted hopes you live long and prosper. Unless you like Enterprise. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 64th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Sci-fi and fantasy fans have traditionally been marginalized by society. Outcasts and nerds – mocked in TV and high school. Eventually, they started conventions and message boards where they could gather and marginalize each other.
Now, not only are nerds not marginalized, they run the show. Who would have thought that, other than a romantic comedy about a sinking ship, all of the top grossing films in the world are nerd centric. They feature aliens, robots, pirates, witches, wonderlands, and Batman. As mentioned above, though, we can’t all just get along.
There’s no more iconic a nerd division than the idea that there are Star Wars fans and Star Trek fans and that’s that. If you like one, you can’t possibly like the other. In fact, you have to hate the other. And, at first glance, I can understand why. Star Wars features a galaxy where everything is dirty, and mismatched, and the bad guys are a crisp, regimented government. Star Trek is about guys who work in a crisp, clean government who try to bring order to various gritty dirty aliens. But, just like it’s possible to like baseball and hockey, it’s pretty easy to like both. (For one thing, in this day and age, who doesn’t like Star Wars?) Where you can actually find some serious, blood thirsty, extra crispy divisions is within Trek fandom.
A brief history lesson – Gene Roddenberry begat Star Trek, and it was good. Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew traveled from planet to planet meeting babes, fighting Klingons, and dealing with metaphors for all of the problems from the sixties. There was a short-lived animated series, the less said about it the better. After a break of a decade or so, we were introduced to The Next Generation who had a weak start, but ended up providing some of the greatest hours of sci-fi on television. Spinning out of that came something unique in Star Trek lore, a serialized space-opera set on the space station Deep Space Nine. Next, we joined the first lady captain who took us on a long slog through the Delta Quadrant. And, finally, they Quantum Leaped us back in time to the very first ship with the name Enterprise.
How these five (six) shows are ranked determines whether one Trekkie will get along with another. To the layperson, this must seem very silly. I mean, they are all so closely tied together that three of them feature ships named Enterprise. Even when the show doesn’t have an Enterprise, there’s some sort of Enterprise cameo. (DS9 literally had the Enterprise-D appear in it, and Voyager had appearances by Geordi, Troi, Riker and Barclay from Next Generation and Sulu and Janice Rand from The Original Series.) But, unless you really watch them, you can’t appreciate just how different they all are.
Now, I’d love to say something like, “Why can’t we all just get along!?” But, I can’t do it. Like a true Trekkie, I have my own ranking. I’m a little trepidatious to actually reveal it, because I don’t want to alienate any Trekkie readers I might have who feel differently, but here goes.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Star Trek
- Star Trek: Voyager
I’ll get into the reasons in the next week or two, but I will say this – I haven’t seen that much of Enterprise. I tried to get into it when it started, and I just couldn’t do it. So, if you think there are some episodes that I should watch to change these rankings, post them in the comments.
Graham Becksted has been watching a lot of Star Trek lately and he’s got a lot to say. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 62nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
What draws people to comic book/sci-fi/anime/horror/whatever conventions? Is it the deals? The cosplay? The meeting people who are just like you? The body odour? Or, is it the celebrities?
Personally, I go mainly for deals on comic books, and the selection. I mean, when one place has all the comic book stores in the city it’s a lot easier to check them out there than subwaying around looking for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #42 at six different locations. But, I know other people who go to cons for camaraderie and seeing friends they don’t otherwise get to see. I have to admit, I sort of envy them and the sense of community they get from it. I mean, they have paid for the privilege of that feeling, but on the other hand I paid for the opportunity to dig through hundreds of dusty, dirty, smelly long boxes which is a significantly more solitary endeavour. For instance, while they discuss what’s new in the world of Anime the most I say to anyone is an annoyed grunt as a bypass a box that’s already occupied.
What really makes me curious, though, are the people who go for the chance to meet their favorite stars. I consider that a nice bonus, but there are very few people who I would go to a con for. Sure, I’ve shaken hands with Darth Vader and The Incredible Hulk. I’ve had comic books signed by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, and Tim Sale. I’ve said hello to Adam West, brushed past Michael Dorn, and cast chaste but meaningful glances at Morena Baccarin. But, those were never things that drove me to the con. On the other hand, I’ve given up on a line to meet an artist when I realize that the guy in front of me has a stack of 75 individual comics that he wants signed.
How much does an autograph really affect something? To be honest, I don’t even know why I bothered getting the autographs that I did. I guess it was just an excuse to spend a bit more time chatting with them. That’s really the more meaningful interaction. Talking to a person and telling them how much you appreciate their work seems to me to be a more powerful gesture.
Okay, now my exceptions. A couple of paragraphs ago I mentioned that there are very few people I would go to a con for. One of them is Stan Lee. He is the founder of the Marvel Universe as we know it. He was involved in the creation of some of the most iconic comic books of all time. He is a living legend who had a powerful impact on a medium that I am quite fond of. I was willing to shell out big bucks for a meet and greet with him when he came to Toronto a few years ago but those tickets sold out faster than I could pull out my credit card. I did go to a Q n’ A that he did, and that alone had me as giddy as McLovin at the Playboy mansion.
Another exception that is taunting me is coming up in a couple of weeks. It’s an onstage reunion of the principal cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. That show is almost single handedly responsible for my all consuming nerdiness. I’ve seen every episode multiple times and it propelled me into a vast world of sci-fi and fantasy. I would love to go and watch them banter onstage for an hour or two as they bask in the adulation of me and a few hundred others. The only thing holding me back is that it’s in Calgary. For the non-Canadians reading, that’s on the other side of the country. Canada being the second biggest country in the world, that’s not exactly a daytrip (although, I’m sure the more wealthy amongst us have done it). But, I am seriously thinking about going. It’s burning a hold in my brain.
If you happen to be a benevolent millionaire and would like to make Graham Becksted happy he will do many unseemly things for airfare and a decent hotel. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 51st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.