Nova: The Next Generation
The Shi’Ar Conflict
Written By: Timelord 9.13.09
Chapter Two: Quantum Realm Solace
As evening fell on Nu-Xandar, Sylvia could see Tranta’s last rays glancing off the Torus as she boarded the mag-lev train to the alien sector of Nu-Orienta City. As always when night fell, her gaze was drawn to the sky. The Orienta Shard shone as the brightest heavenly body. No matter how many times she visited the shard, she never grew tired of it. Soon it would be her new home for the foreseeable future. Sylvia closed her eyes and imagined it parked in its Libration Point between Nu-Xandar and Tranta, spinning slowly and keeping protective vigil over the fledgling planet, Nu-Xandar. The academy beckoned and tomorrow she would answer its call, take up residence on the Orienta Shard, and begin her new life as a Nova Cadet. Tonight though, was her last night of freedom and she planned to enjoy it to the fullest. Her father had been particularly tough on her over the past week and she needed time to relax and unwind.
She caught site of her reflection in the window of the mag-lev. Raven haired, dark brown eyes, shapely athletic body barely covered in her sexiest shear white micro-mini dress with a plunging neckline highlighting her perfect breasts; she was satisfied that she had made the right selection of attire for the night’s activities.
The mag-lev stopped at the station and Sylvia’s spirits rose upon seeing her cousin, Proculus, waiting for her with their mutual friends, Augustus and Celena. Proculus was tall with curly brown hair and brown eyes. He was clean shaven with an athletic body and handsome features inherited from his mother, Queen Adora. Augustus and Celena were black-skinned with dark eyes and curly black hair. They stood close and couldn’t keep their eyes off each other. Lately, they had become more than friends.
Smiling broadly, Sylvia was the first off the train, giving Proculus a quick kiss on the cheek in greeting and hugging Augustus and Celena. Some of the other passengers stared at Proculus and Sylvia as they passed by; recognizing two of Nu-Xandar’s celebrities, The Prince of Xandar and The Countess of Sura. Those that recognized them gave the sign of fealty. However, recognition was the last thing Sylvia wanted. Her only desire was for an evening of anonymous fun with her friends. She wanted to at least temporarily forget about her miserable day and the changes in her life that tomorrow would bring. The four friends blended into the crowd, joking and making small talk as they meandered toward their destination, the Mercurio Pleasure Club.
Nu-Xandar’s new Capital, Nu-Orienta City, was bustling and growing rapidly as Nu-Xandar’s influence and power grew throughout Andromeda. Business, industry, and residential districts were under construction everywhere. The layout of the city mirrored the traditional Xandarian model as exemplified by the Orienta Shard’s Orienta City. The Xandarians tended to keep to themselves; and the alien cultures formed their own district. The Xandarians mostly turned a blind eye to the activities in the so-called alien sector; though many visited the area for recreational opportunities officially frowned upon by proper Xandarian culture. Club Mercurio was officially frowned upon by proper Xandarian culture.
Club Mercurio was the newest, largest, and most popular of the pleasure clubs. Ten stories tall and gleaming in artificial illumination, it stood out in stark contrast to all the new construction surrounding it. It offered all the sensual delights of a galaxy class spa, able to provide services to please all known species which might partake of its amenities. As such, the line at the door was quite long.
Sylvia gave Proculus a questioning look. “Wasn’t your friend, Aristus, supposed to meet us here?”
Proculus nodded. “He’s already inside.”
Sylvia looked at the line. “We’ll be hours getting in if we have to wait in line and I have to be home by midnight. I know you don’t like to do this but what say for once we give up our futile attempt at anonymity and use our celebrity to get in quicker?”
Proculus grimaced in mock disapproval, then smiled. “All right. Just this once though and just because you’re going away tomorrow.”
They made their way to the celebrity entrance where they were immediately recognized as four members of Xandarian royal society and granted entrance into the club. The party atmosphere of the club was intoxicating – no doubt helped by the deafening music and the cloud of endorph vapor that constantly fell from above. The four friends were escorted to a VIP table where they ordered shots of synthahol and vials of concentrated endorph-vapor. Sylvia had not visited the club for several weeks and looked around to see what was new as the dÃ©cor was constantly changing and as new amenities were constantly being added. She spied Aristus leaving the dance floor and approaching their table. The handsome blonde-haired blue-eyed young man went straight to Proculus, greeting him with a passionate kiss. Aristus was Proculus’ newest lover. Sylvia smiled and wondered how long this “relationship” would last; as most of Proculus’ relationships lasted little more than a month.
The shots and vapors arrived; and Proculus stood, raising his glass to make a toast. “To my dearest cousin Sylvia, Countess of Sura – and tomorrow bearer of a new title: Nova Corps Cadet First Class. All Xandar takes pride in your accomplishment; and on a personal note – both we and all the regular patrons of this club will miss you terribly.” Everyone at the table laughed and downed their shots. Proculus waved for another round to be brought to their table before taking his seat next to Sylvia.
Sylvia turned and hugged Proculus. “I’m going to miss you more than anyone.”
Proculus’ eyes glistened. “I don’t think we’ve ever gone more than a few days without seeing each other since we were children. I don’t know if I can stand to be without my best friend for the eight months you’re precluded from having visitors.”
It was Sylvia’s turn to fight back tears. “Well, maybe you can make another exception to your rule about not using your Princely status to manipulate things and come see me. Maybe a surprise inspection of your troops would be in order?”
Proculus nodded. “Maybe it would. In any case, you may expect me to abuse my rank to get both myself and your parents front row seats at your graduation ceremony. But enough of this sadness I say. Let’s celebrate.” Popping the lid off his endorph-vapor vial, Proculus inhaled deeply before passing it to Aristus. Celena, Augustus, and Sylvia shared the other vial; and soon all sadness was replaced with euphoria.
The shots and vials continued to flow; with everyone becoming more relaxed and disinhibited. Removing their shirts, Proculus and Aristus went to the dance floor; and Celena and Augustus began to snuggle up. Despite the effects of all the nanite-bonded chemicals; Sylvia began to feel more and more like a fifth wheel. Like Proculus, her relationships tended to be short-lived; and she currently had no steady lover. She started as she looked out over the dance floor, catching site of Him.
Celena noticed Sylvia’s reaction. “What is it Syl?”
Sylvia shrugged. “Nothing. I just thought I saw Him again.”
Celena smirked. “Him again? The drop-dead handsome young man with the curly black hair that you get glimpses of, have dreams about, and get all wet about; and that none of the rest of us have ever caught sight of in all the time we’ve known you?”
Sylvia laughed. “Don’t start. I know what I saw and I think He was heading for The Maze.”
Augustus smiled salaciously as Sylvia got up from the table and steadied herself, still slightly dizzy from the vapors and shots. “Well, good hunting then.”
Sylvia made her way through the throngs of milling and dancing people; occasionally catching brief sight of her quarry, only to have Him disappear in the crowd. When she arrived at the entrance to The Maze, He was nowhere to be seen. She was determined to finally meet Him and, willing her clothes into her personal tesseract, strode headlong into The Maze. The Maze was literally a large, darkened, maze-like structure with an aphrodisiac-laced atmosphere. It was where people came to experience anonymous sensual pleasures with others; the extremely dim lighting making the identity of other participants difficult to ascertain. One entered The Maze unclothed and experienced the Maze through touch rather than sight.
The Maze was filled to capacity and pitch dark as usual. No problem for Sylvia as she could “see” in any spectrum she desired. She decided to hedge her bets and use her night vision to find Him in the crowd of bodies caressing and pleasuring each other. The aphrodisiac-laced atmosphere of The Maze began to affect her; slowing her progress as she willingly partook of the sensual pleasures surrounding her – caressing and being caressed; kissing and being kissed – though she eschewed all invitations for more intimate contact as she searched for Him. She spied Him – back turned to her so she couldn’t be sure; but he had the right body and the long, black, curled hair – it had to be Him. She approached Him and put her arms around Him. He turned. It was not Him. It was, however, a very handsome man; and Sylvia could no longer deny her aphrodisiac enhanced desires. She kissed him deeply. His mouth tasted of synthahol and his skin of salt from sexual heat. She burned with desire for the pleasures of his body as he held her against his rock hard chest. She felt a woman’s soft body press against her from behind and begin to caress her breasts. Twisting her head, she found herself in the embrace of a beautiful young blonde woman. She kissed the woman deeply as the man kissed and caressed her breasts, her abdomen, her thighs – and began intimate exploration with his tongue. Running her hands through his hair and pressing his head into her; her breathing became heavy and she moaned in pleasure with each stroke of his skilled tongue. Sylvia abandoned her night vision and surrendered herself to the anonymous sensual pleasures of the maze. The tensions of the day dissipated in erotic bliss as she and her two lovers melted together – each bringing the other to multiple heights of passion and release over the next few hours. Finally sexually satiated, they retreated to a corner of the maze where they could rest and recover in the comfort of each other’s arms.
Eyes at half-mast and feeling physically spent from the combined effects of the previous days of combat training and this night’s regimen of synthahol, endorph-vapor, aphrodisiacs, and sex; Sylvia found it hard to keep a smile off her face as she now felt more relaxed and carefree than she had in days. “Mmmmm – thanks you two. That was just what I needed.”
The woman smiled. “The pleasure was all ours Contessa.”
Sylvia smiled back wickedly as she realized she had been recognized. “Don’t you believe it.”
Taking her leave from The Maze, Sylvia made her way into the spa, intending to shower, rest a short time, then catch up with her friends to report that once again He had eluded her. As she passed by a large zero-g group sex room, she caught sight of Celena and Augustus preparing to enter along with about thirty other couples.
Celena waved from the crowd. “Come join us in here.”
Sylvia waved back. “I will as soon as I’ve showered and freshened up.”
Sylvia made her way to the shower room and stepped under the stinging spray, basking in the heat of the hot flowing water and letting it wash away the last of her week’s tensions. She closed her eyes and thought of Him, frustrated that she had once again failed to meet Him and thinking it strange how she longed for a man she had only glimpsed in dreams and crowds and shadows. As she indulged her deep longing for Him, she realized she could no longer hear or feel the shower; or hear the bustle and noise of the multitude of others enjoying the amenities of the club. Her eyes snapped open and she found herself in a white void.
He stood before her – a handsome young man with curly black hair and deep, black eyes wearing white form-fitting clothes that showed off a perfect body – just like in her dreams and her brief glimpses of Him. He was the most handsome man she had ever beheld and she immediately felt desire for Him. She also noticed for the first time that He bore a striking resemblance to a depiction she had seen before. She was dumbstruck into silence as she considered the implications.
He beheld her for a long minute before finally speaking. “You should not be here.”
She found her voice. “What? Who are you? Where is this?”
He shook His head. “You are not ready to be here. You must go back now.”
Sylvia was both un-nerved and irritated. “Fine. How do I do that?”
“The same way you arrived – by wanting it desperately enough. Now go. I will invite you to visit again when you are ready.” He turned his back on her and made to leave.
Sylvia was angry now and began to build a gravimetric pulse. “Don’t you give me curtly cryptic answers and turn your back on me you son of a schmaug! You will properly address my questions!”
He wheeled back around to face Sylvia, seething in anger, energy arcing across his body and flashing in his eyes. “Precocious child! Do not even think of summoning your power here! You know not what you do. The consequences could be devastating to all you hold dear!”
They paused a moment – eyes locked, each taking the measure of the other. They both stood down; but continued to stare at each other warily.
He shook his head, breaking the tension. “I had hoped you would not inherit your father’s stubbornness and obstinacy; but I see my hopes were in vain.”
Sylvia was surprised. “You know my father?”
He smiled. “Yes – I know him well and I love him dearly; though he does not know me.”
Sylvia was feeling irritated again. “Straight answers seem to elude you sir; so let me ask you directly once more – just who the fark are you? Why do I see you in my dreams? Why were you at the pleasure club tonight? Why have you brought me here?”
“You should not be here and it is too soon for you to know the answers to all those questions.” He broke eye contact and smirked as He looked her up and down. “And you are out of uniform.”
Sylvia had not noticed that she was still nude until he pointed it out. Refusing to be daunted, she set her jaw and clenched her fists, readying for a fight. “Are you going to answer my questions or not?”
He looked exasperated. “I don’t suppose you will leave without an altercation if I don’t answer your questions?”
She stared at Him in response.
He shook His head. “I thought not. Ask your questions.”
She considered her options. “The first logical question is: Where am I?”
He smirked. “You could use your powers to figure that out – but to answer your question; you are within what you would understand to be a pocket dimension or a tesseract – though I prefer the term quantum realm.”
She reached out tentatively with her powers to gather information. “This place resembles the Worldmind’s tesseract. How did I get here?”
He sighed. “By wanting to be here. Your innate powers allow your consciousness to travel to this realm.”
She was beginning to understand. “Are you a quantum entity like the Worldmind?”
He laughed. “Sweet Sylvia, I am the Xandarian Worldmind.”
It was Sylvia’s turn to smirk. “I’ve met the Worldmind; and you look, act, and talk nothing like him. Also, the Worldmind and my father are well-acquainted; but you claimed that my father does not know you. I have no idea how I got here; but I assure you I did not bring myself here. You sir, are a liar.”
He laughed, “Your impudence is most amusing – do keep it up,” He said as He morphed into the familiar figure of the Worldmind Avatar. With the Worldmind’s voice – albeit in a mocking tone – he said, “Nova Corps Cadet First Class Sylvia Rider-Dru, it is critical that you pay attention at this time.” Then keeping the appearance of the Worldmind Avatar, but switching back to His voice, “I have spoken nothing but the truth to you since you arrived in this realm.”
Sylvia had lingering doubts. “I remain unconvinced of your identity. If you are the Worldmind, you must comply with the lawful commands of a duly authorized corporeal Xandarian. As the Countess of Sura, I have repeatedly given you orders and you have demonstrated a level of independence exceeding that explicitly programmed into the Worldmind.”
He seemed to find Sylvia’s observation amusing. “The Worldmind you and the rest of Xandar know is but a small part of me – the part that can be accessed and controlled by your technology. I am so much greater than that. The part of the Worldmind you know must obey your lawful commands as it is linked to your technology. I am not so constrained. In fact, I purposely keep the Worldmind unaware of my existence. He is new to existence as a facet of the greater quantum entity. Given more time, he will come to learn what he is. As of now, he is constrained by his own childish ignorance – much like you.”
She let the insult slide and held her breath for a second before her next question. “You bear a striking resemblance to ancient depictions of the Xandarian God of War, Gamill. Are you Gamill? Are you a god?”
He seemed to ponder the question for a moment before deciding to answer it. He morphed back into the form of the handsome young man. “I am Gamill.” He morphed into the familiar form of the lovely black-skinned goddess of fortune, Frammi. “I am also Frammi.” He morphed into the familiar form of the red-headed goddess of love, Ishta. “I am Ishta.” He rapidly morphed into the entire Xandarian pantheon of gods and goddesses before coming full circle to the form of the Xandarian Worldmind and then, once again, Gamill. “I am all the rest. We are all facets of the greater quantum entity.”
She was stunned, having never truly believed in the existence of the gods. “So, you are a god.”
He shrugged. “What is a god? Is a god not merely a being with vastly greater mental and physical abilities than you possess yourself? Would not primitive beings believe you were a god?”
“If being tiresome and obtuse in answering simple questions are godly traits; I would say you are at least worthy of consideration of the title” Sylvia observed dryly. “Why appear to me in the form of Gamill?”
He responded to her sarcasm with a barb of His own. “At last – an intelligent question. The populace of Xandar sees the Worldmind with whom they are familiar as a formal, wizened old man as that is their subconscious conception of how a god should look and act. You, on the other hand, see me as a peer; as this is your subconscious conception of how your perfect peer should look and act. In fact, you see me as the War God, Gamill, as you are a true warrior. One day when your powers are fully developed we will be peers. Right now, you are no more than an adept.”
Sylvia was starting to be convinced. She felt solace here in this realm as if she belonged here; and as she used her powers to tentatively scan the physical properties of her surroundings, she realized that this entity was speaking truly. One question nagged at her consciousness. “Why have I seen you in my dreams and caught glimpses of you since I was a child? Why reveal yourself to me now?”
He nodded, appearing to be pleased with her question. “As a quantum entity, I am everywhere on Xandar at once. With your developing powers, you can see me anywhere you like if you concentrate. Though you don’t consciously realize it, you have attempted to contact me intermittently since the very moment of your conception. I have rebuffed each of your attempts as you are not ready to be here. You brought yourself here uninvited and have refused to leave despite my numerous reasonable requests. I did not ‘reveal’ myself to you. You intruded.”
She refused to let one nagging question remain unanswered. “Why not reveal yourself to all of Xandar?”
He frowned. “It is not yet time to do such a thing. One day, over the course of time, all Xandarians will be able to ascend to this realm to become part of the greater quantum entity. You are the beginning of that evolution of your species and you already know how some have reacted. You have experienced their fear of your unique gifts. Some would seek to accelerate the evolution of your species and some would seek to retard it if the outcome was widely known. Nothing must be done to influence the natural evolution of your species. So, for now, the gods must remain quaint and fanciful ideas in the minds of all Xandarians, revealing themselves only to those unique individuals with special gifts who may advance the evolution of your species in accordance with the plans of the greater quantum entity. You are such an individual as others have been over the millennia. Through you and your unique gifts, I have a physical gateway into your corporeal world that I otherwise would not have. I cannot directly intervene in your corporeal world except through you – and you cannot speak of my existence to anyone else. You now know why. It could adversely affect the evolution of your species.”
Sylvia smirked. “If I told anyone else I was conversing with the gods, they would think I was insane. You have nothing to fear. Your secret is safe with me.”
He seemed satisfied. “There is hope for you yet, sweet Sylvia.”
“So am I invited back here to learn from you how to wield my developing powers? Am I ready yet O wise one?” she asked with a hint of sarcasm. “By the way, what do you call yourself?”
He paused before answering. “I answer to many names as you now know – and I cannot stop you from returning any time you wish. However, you are welcome back in my realm; and I will help you learn to control your powers.”
She stopped to consider all she had learned. “I’m not comfortable referring to you as Gamill or any of the other gods – and clearly you are something over and above the Worldmind. How about if I call you ‘The Overmind?’ Would that be acceptable?”
He nodded. “Yes, but go now back to your pleasures of the flesh. You should enjoy them while you still can. Some day such pleasures will exist for you only as memories.”
Sylvia blinked and found herself back in the shower room; only a few seconds having passed since she ‘left.’ She quickly dried herself and made her way to the zero-gee room to find Augustus and Celena. Based on what she had learned of the Quantum Realm, she decided to heed the Overmind’s advice regarding enjoying the pleasures of the flesh while she still could. It would put her getting home past her mother’s midnight curfew; but she would deal with that later.
Come back next week for Part 3 of The Shi’ar Conflict to follow Sylvia on her first adventure as a Nova Corps Cadet.
Nova: The Next Generation
Written By: Timelord 9.3.09
Prologue: The Legacy
People stared. They always stared when she appeared in public. It made her uncomfortable; so she took pains to conceal her identity. Today she dressed in non-descript clothes – not her typical haute couture by any stretch of the imagination – just casual black slacks, black boots, and white blouse. She wore large, dark sunglasses so as to mask her face without drawing undue attention. Yet, she could not help but draw attention. People – especially men – stared at the shapely, raven-haired young woman.
Shifting uncomfortably in her seat as the mag-lev train made its way to the Nova Crista, she began to regret her decision to ride public transportation rather than just use her powers to fly there. She had thought use of the powers she was born with would draw undue attention and perhaps interfere with her goal for the trip.
Her powers – now at Centurion level – were a constant source of concern for her, her parents, and others. Some feared her natural ability to wield Nova Force. Rather than needing nano-tech mediators bestowed and controlled by the Worldmind, her powers were a consequence of her genetic heritage. Those that feared her whispered that she was what her father called a “genetic Eve” – the next step in Xandarian evolution – and a portent of extinction for all normal Xandarians. Those that feared her didn’t know her and they didn’t understand her genetic heritage of course – and even the most renowned Xandarian geneticists were at a loss to explain her abilities.
She sighed – understanding why some feared her and for an instant wishing she could be like all other Xandarians. It had been easy to hide the powers when she was younger. At first, during early childhood, her powers merely gave her the ability to absorb and discharge energy, the Worldmind-like ability to sense and analyze the physical world, and the ability to interface with all forms of artificial intelligence. As she grew older, she developed the abilities of flight, super strength, and invulnerability. Once her body reached physical maturity at the age of 16, she also developed a healing factor. No one knew how or even if she would continue to evolve. She was unique.
Her brooding was interrupted. Someone had recognized her. It always happened. She was, after all, the daughter of two of the most famous citizens of Nu-Xandar; not to mention a member of the royal family and a Countess in her own right. She was an honest to goodness celebrity on Nu-Xandar and it was inevitable that someone would see through her disguise. An older citizen had recognized her and had given the sign of fealty to the royal family by placing his right fist over his heart. The rest of the passengers on the train followed suit. As uncomfortable as she was with royal protocol, she adopted the poise of the Countess of Sura and nodded to each in acceptance of their signs of respect and fealty; relieved that the train was slowing as it entered the station at the mall of the Nova Crista.
When the doors of the train slid open, she stepped out into the bustling mall, relieved to feel Tranta’s heat against her skin and a light breeze blowing through her dark hair. Looking up, she saw the great dome of the Orienta Shard overhead; and beyond the dome, she could see Nu-Xandar rising in the east along the dome’s horizon – the great Torus anchored to the planet collecting Tranta’s energy and providing the gift of habitability for her people as they lived their lives on their new homeworld. She quickly hurried through the common area and made her way to the steps leading to the doors of the Great Hall of the Nova Crista – the headquarters of the Nova Corps – denoted by the great red 8-pointed star symbol of the Worldmind Hegemony emblazoned on the building. As she approached the secure area, she was greeted by two seamless metal bipedal silver sentry androids asking for identification. They moved with grace and fluidity as their bodies gleamed in the morning sunlight – never once taking her out of the sights of the projectile and energy weapons contained in their casings. Sighing, she presented her nano-tech wristband for scanning. Most Xandarians didn’t have to tolerate such hassles as their Nova Matrices instantly identified them. She didn’t possess a Nova Matrix like all other Xandarians. Her body just absorbed all nano-tech that was implanted and the Worldmind refused to allow her to use her natural ability to form a direct link to it due to the unknown nature of her still developing powers. She had to wear an external link to the Worldmind around her wrist for identification purposes. Of course, the inconvenience of not having a Nova Matrix for identification purposes paled in comparison to the most profound implication of not having a Nova Matrix – for not having a Nova Matrix also meant that she was more mortal than all other Xandarians. She could not be instantly downloaded into the Worldmind if she was suddenly killed – to live an afterlife in the cybernetic space of the Mindworld or be later resurrected via cloning.
The sentries accepted her identification and saluted her with the sign of fealty. Nodding to them, she walked through the doors into the Nova Crista.
The Nova Crista was truly impressive. Built millennia ago on the highest hill in Orienta City upon the site of an ancient observatory, the Nova Crista – meaning “Crest of New Stars” in the old Xandarian language – was the traditional headquarters of the Nova Corps. The Nova Prime’s office was in this building – and deep under the building was the Quantum Interface to the Worldmind’s tesseract. She had picked a day when she knew the Nova Prime was off-world on a mission for the Xandarian Federation as he would not approve of the business that brought her to the Nova Crista today. She took a moment to examine the Great Hall as it had been quite some time since she last visited. The Great Hall was massive. The floors were solid granite and the walls were dark wood. The ceiling arched high overhead. The Great Hall was the extent of most people’s contact with The Corps and was for all intents and purposes a museum celebrating the history of the Corps. Statues of renowned Novas were interspersed with display cases containing relics from the Corp’s history. Beyond the hall were more secure areas – access only being permitted to Corps personnel. She spied an open Worldmind interface just behind a statue of Centurion Gabriel Lan and quickly made her way to it. Touching her hand to the interface, she requested an audience with The Worldmind.
Her consciousness faded into the white void of the Worldmind’s tesseract and she found herself face-to-face with the avatar of the Xandarian Worldmind. The Worldmind Avatar, an aged Xandarian male dressed in a standard Nova Prime uniform, placed his fist over his heart and spoke with the consensus voice of the gestalt. “Greetings Countess. To what do I owe the honor of your visit today?”
She hesitated a moment – for the first time questioning her decision. Her parents were two of the greatest Novas who ever lived. She wielded the Nova Power as a birthright. She was part of the ruling family of Xandar. Becoming a Nova was her right and her responsibility to Xandar. Being a Nova was her legacy. “I am here to apply to the Nova Corps Academy.” With a thought, she contacted the AI within her wristband link to the Worldmind and submitted her application to the Worldmind Gestalt.
If the Worldmind was surprised, he didn’t show it. “You are younger than the typical age selected to join the Corps – and typically basic Star Corps Training as well as at least one year of service as a Star Corps regular is required before anyone is granted admission to the Nova Corps Academy.”
She set her jaw. “I am well aware of the rules and regulations. However, you know as well as I do that I already possess Centurion-level powers. I need the training and I desire to use my powers to serve Xandar and The Corps. Besides, others have joined the Corps without going through the typical admission requirements. Pyreus Kril is one example as are my own father and mother.”
The Worldmind nodded affirmatively. “That is true, but circumstances dictated those exceptions. Such circumstances do not apply in your case. In your case, the support of your parents is required and…”
She felt nervous for the first time since entering the building. Neither of her parents would attempt to interfere with her choice to join the military once she was of age. However, her father opposed early entrance to the Academy and wanted her to wait a little while longer; and her mother had also wanted her to consider attending Law School. She had made up her mind and did not want to discuss the matter with them any further. She just wanted to quietly join the Corps and begin formal training. Her royal rank gave her certain rights in regard to status in the military. She decided use of her rank was her only choice to avoid involving her parents. She interrupted the Worldmind, “That won’t be necessary. I am…”
The Worldmind held up his hand to silence her. “How like your father you are. Please let me finish. Your parents anticipated your decision and have already given their support. Your application is accepted. You will receive orders as to when to report to the Nova Crista for admission to The Nova Corps Academy. Welcome to The Nova Corps Cadet Sylvia Rider-Dru.”
Nova: The Next Generation
The Shi’ar Conflict
Chapter One: The Woman Called Nova
The bruises and cuts ached, but Sylvia Rider-Dru could not afford to let the pain distract her from completion of her scouting mission. She pushed it aside and entrusted her recovery to her healing factor as she sped through the disputed area of space attempting to evade her pursuers. Tactical indicated that a Superskrull was closing fast; as was a squadron of Annihilation fighter ships and a battle armored Veradinae Mercenary. She had already destroyed one of Lord Ravenous’ Annihilation battleships; but it had not been without cost. She was beginning to feel fatigued. All she wanted to do was make it back to the Xandarian fleet and bring her scouting mission to an end with the startling news that Xandar’s greatest enemies were amassing along the border of The Xandarian Federation in preparation for invasion.
Her tactical flashed a proximity alert and she dived to avoid a bolt of cosmic fire from the Superskrull; necessitating an immediate twist and course change as she also dodged a shot from the Veradinae. She knew they were trying to catch her in crossfire and that her options for escape were becoming limited as long range tactical now indicated the enemy was closing from nearly every direction. She dived to avoid another shot from the Veradinae; and landed directly in the line of fire from the Superskrull. She reeled from the strike of cosmic fire, feeling the heat penetrate her Nova uniform’s back and helmet armor; burning her skin. She recovered just in time to grapple with the skrull. This Superskrull had been given the combined powers of the Terran Fantastic Four, much like the legendary Kl’rt. He grabbed Sylvia with a massive fist modeled after ‘The Thing;’ and began to squeeze the life from her. She was having trouble controlling her new powers; and had fired a radiative aura gravimetric pulse only a few minutes earlier to destroy the Annihilation battleship; so it took all her will to fire another radiative aura pulse. The skrull’s fist exploded; freeing Sylvia. Quickly recovering; she wheeled and, summoning all her might, put her fist through the stunned skrull’s head, savoring the sight of one of her people’s ancient enemies convulsing and becoming still. She had little time to gloat as her proximity alert flashed again. She twisted to avoid the shot fired by the Veradinae, but miscalculated her trajectory and found herself directly in his flight path. The Veradinae was eight feet tall, bipedal, thickly muscled, and covered in biomantium battle armor hosting an array of projectile and energy weapons. Sylvia knew that underneath the powerful armor was a fierce reptilian soldier bio-engineered to be nothing but a savage killing machine. She had to evade the great dragon or kill him as quickly as possible. Otherwise, he would not stop until he had killed her. Sylvia changed course and attempted to twist away as the dragon closed the distance between them; but he compensated for her evasive maneuver and fired an energy weapon which momentarily stunned her. The dragon capitalized upon Sylvia’s disadvantage, moving in for the preferred method of killing for any Veradinae – up close and personal.
Sylvia screamed as the Veradinae Dragon’s biomantium-coated claws pierced her body’s natural phasic shielding and her uniform’s armor; sinking deep into her flesh, attempting to rend her in half. “Mother Farker!” she yelled in rage and pain as she twisted in his grasp and with all her might landed a massive blow to the side of his armored head, tearing away his faceplate. The dragon writhed in agony as his battle armor decompressed and as his body fluids began to be pulled through his skin into the vacuum of space; but he did not let go. Before she could recoil, he managed to sink his biomantium-coated teeth into her arm. She felt his venom enter her body and her will to fight began to ebb. Desperate now to be free as proximity alerts were continuous and as she was beginning to feel sick and sleepy from the venom; she looked into the dragons eyes and fired twin eye beams. The dragon’s mouth opened and his head and arms snapped back reflexively as his brain was fried. Freed from the clutches of the dragon, the nanites composing her uniform moved quickly to seal the breeches from the dragon’s claws and teeth. Her healing factor was working furiously to compensate for the effects of the venom and the wounds inflicted by the dragon; but she hadn’t the luxury to rest and let it totally heal her. The fighter ships were almost within range and a phalanx of superskrulls was closing fast. She shook her head to clear the effects of the venom; and grabbing the dragon’s body, sent it flying into the windshield of the lead fighter, destroying it upon contact. She dove, firing gravimetric pulses from each hand, destroying the other two fighters. Sluggish but recovering, she flipped and resumed course at full speed for the Xandarian fleet, the phalanx of superskrulls in hot pursuit.
Twisting and diving at maximum speed, she avoided the bolts of energy and the projectiles fired by her Skrull pursuers. Tactical indicated that the Xandarian fleet was dead ahead; and to her great relief, she could see four Centurions speeding to her rescue; lead by none other than her parents, Richard and Sevilica. Tactical indicated that her Skrull pursuers had fled at the sight of the approaching Nova Corps; so she slowed and happily flew into the embrace of her father’s open arms. She gasped in surprise as her father’s arms suddenly became elastic, wrapping her in a tight cocoon. Enraged and embarrassed at having been so easily duped; but unable to generate another radiative gravimetric pulse; she focused her will and extended her phasic shielding until she was able to break the hold of the superskrull. Her ‘mother,’ now transformed into her true Skrull identity, acted quickly and landed a blow to Sylvia’s head that sent her reeling back into her ‘father’s’ tender embrace once again where he applied a neural inhibitor to her neck. She became paralyzed and unable to control her powers.
Richard Rider was annoyed with his daughter. He snapped, “End simulation,” and watched as “space” faded away to be replaced by the cavernous interior of Nu-Xandar’s Nova Corps holographic Battle Simulation Arena. He reached to his belt for his helmet. Catching his reflection in the glass of the observation and control booth, Rich once again felt both surprise and amusement at how much he had come to resemble his father. Rich ran a hand over his recently grown goatee and smoothed back his “salt-and-pepper” colored hair before donning his helmet and nodding to his lovely wife, Sevilica Dru. Even after all the years of hardship and sacrifice as they together toiled to build Nu-Xandar from Xandar’s ashes; he still found himself hopelessly in love with the auburn-haired blue-eyed beauty. It didn’t hurt that she was just as shapely, sexy, and vivacious as when he first met her at the tender age of 17 during the Second Xandar-Skrull War. Sevilica was living proof that cloning did have its advantages; and as he caught site of his reflection again, he made a mental note to consider some cosmetic treatments for himself as time and near constant warfare had taken their toll on his 51 year old body. He also noted that Sevilica looked a little tired – the weight of helping govern Nu-Xandar seeming to rest more and more heavily upon her shoulders with each passing day. He knew they needed a vacation. Sevilica ran her fingers through her long auburn locks of hair and donned her helmet as they headed for the door.
Sylvia was relieved to have sensation return to her limbs; but watched in dismay as her mother and father emerged from the control room of the Nova Corps Battle Simulation Arena; mentally preparing herself for her father’s expected harsh criticism of her performance today. Lately, she and her father had been at odds for reasons she really did not understand. It seemed that they went out of their way to disagree with each other now; and nothing she did seemed to please him. Richard was dressed in the uniform of The Nova Prime and Sevilica wore a standard Centurion’s uniform, eschewing as usual any outward sign of her royal status as Duchess of Orienta. Sylvia steeled herself as Richard and Sevilica took flight to meet her at the top of the domed arena.
Sylvia tensed and stood at attention as Richard and Sevilica arrived; avoiding eye contact by staring straight ahead unflinchingly as Richard removed his helmet and focused on her, an irritated look on his face. “What the hell was that Syl? Where’s your focus? You made elementary mistakes that would have cost you your life in a real battle; and the lives of anyone under your command had you been accompanied. We’ve taught you better than that. Don’t trust your eyes when you’re fighting Skrulls! Use your powers to do an identity scan. Do you realize that if you’d made a mistake like that last one in a real battle situation that right now you’d be dead or worse – a prisoner of the Skrulls being readied for vivisection?”
Sylvia pressed her lips together tighter in reaction to her father’s rebuke; but exhibited no other reaction or outward sign of upset – though inwardly she was seething. He didn’t understand what she was feeling – the doubts and fears about starting a new life as a Nova Corps Cadet, leaving her childhood friends behind, and yes – leaving home. She didn’t want to be here today, her last free day before starting the academy. She was only here at her father’s insistence. She wanted to be with her friends one last time before departing for the Orienta Shard. She hoped her mother would render more supportive feedback; but it was not meant to be.
Sevilica shook her head. “This is truly disappointing Sylvia. Your father and I have been training you for years now and you’ve performed so much better than this in the past. Combat doesn’t wait until we are ready for it to fit into our schedule and combat doesn’t give second chances when we make mistakes. When you enter battle, you must push all distractions aside and keep your focus. One serious mistake and you’re dead. You need to think about this experience and decide what you would do differently should you ever face a similar situation in the future. I expect you to do better next time. Now, I know you want to get out of here. Dismissed. Oh, and Syl, on a personal note – I know you’re going to want to go out and celebrate your acceptance into the academy with your friends, but I want you back at Oban by midnight. Your father and I want to have some time with you in the morning before you leave for the Orienta Shard; and we want you rested and prepared for your first day of duty to The Corps. Understand?”
Sylvia nodded her understanding, remaining silent and avoiding eye contact with either of her parents – especially her father – and sulkily flew to the exit; dejectedly heading for Oban, House Dru’s ancestral palace.
Sevilica and Rich watched her go. When Sylvia had cleared the exit, Rich turned to Sevilica and made eye contact. Their eyes locked on each other for a moment before the seriousness broke and they both shared a small laugh. Rich smiled broadly. “She made some mistakes sure enough but that’s just due to lack of experience. With a little experience and discipline, she’s going to be hell on wheels! I tell you Sev, I’ve never been so proud. She was magnificent! Her powers have developed to the point where she now has more power than a Centurion. Did you see the way she took out that battleship and that dast superskrull? Incredible! She’s better than either of us were when we were about her age.”
Sevilica arched an eyebrow. “Well, you’re half right. Maybe if you’d had the opportunity at her age to train on Xandar instead of wasting time on Earth; you’d have been as good a Nova as both Syl and me.”
Rich grinned in response to Sevilica’s typical competitiveness. “Why’d you let her go so early? I was going to make her run through the simulation again.”
Sevilica rolled her eyes. “She has to have some fun sometimes too. If it was up to you, she’d be training all day every day. Her friends are taking her out to celebrate tonight. She starts the academy tomorrow and she won’t see them or us for the next eight months you know.”
Rich’s smile faded and sadness was reflected in his eyes. “I know. Our little girl’s growing up fast. Can’t blame me for being proud of her for being the youngest ever allowed to enter academy training. I just want her to be as ready as possible for all the dangers she’s about to face so she’ll be safe. That’s why I’ve been pushing her so hard.”
Sevilica floated up to Rich and kissed him. “I know and I’m proud too – of both her and you. I know how hard it’s been for you to let her go. Now my love, let’s go home.”
Rich grabbed Sev and pulled her close. “Not so fast. We have this facility reserved privately for the next hour. What say we put it to good use? I’m thinking the Veradinae seraglio program.”
Sevilica laughed. “Only if you play the role of the sex slave this time.”
Rich grinned wolfishly. “Deal.”
Read Part Two for the next chapter in the serial of The Woman Called Nova. Here’s a sneak preview:
Chapter Two: Quantum Realm Solace
As evening fell on Nu-Xandar, Sylvia could see Tranta’s last rays glancing off the Torus as she boarded the mag-lev train to the alien sector of Nu-Orienta City. As always when night fell, her gaze was drawn to the sky. The Orienta Shard shone as the brightest heavenly body in the sky. No matter how many times she visited the shard, she never grew tired of it. Soon it would be her new home for the foreseeable future. Sylvia closed her eyes and imagined it parked in its Libration Point between Nu-Xandar and Tranta, spinning slowly and keeping protective vigil over the fledgling Nu-Xandar. The academy beckoned and tomorrow she would answer its call and begin her new life as a Nova Cadet. Tonight though, was her last night of freedom and she planned to enjoy it to the fullest. Her father had been particularly tough on her this past week and she needed time to relax and unwind.
She caught site of her reflection in the window of the mag-lev. Raven haired, dark brown eyes, shapely athletic body barely covered in her sexiest shear white micro-mini dress with a plunging neckline highlighting her perfect breasts; she was satisfied that she had made the right selection of attire for the night’s activities.
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Andrew Devito
Colorist: Bruno Hang
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuna
Variant Cover: Mike Perkins
Warning: Contains Spoilers
DnA have done it again! Nova #28 is a masterstroke of superheroic military science-fiction. The Rich Rider from Annihilation is finally back and I say: “Long May He Reign!”
This issue picks up right where #27 left off. Rich gives Xenith a beating and captures her. The new Corpsmen step up to the plate as well; with Morrow and Irani putting the Imperial Guard in their place quite efficiently. Rich negotiates for the withdrawal of the Corps from Kree-Lar with Blastaar in a quite clever sequence; and the Corpsmen gather up their prisoners – along with the wounded Robbie Rider – and return to Nu-Xandar. Back at Nu-Xandar we learn that the Corps has been disbanded down to a small group including four of the original five new recruits (Morrow, Fraktur, Qubit, Irani) as well as the humans, Tre and Lindy. Wendell Vaughn is also present; but quickly takes his leave to learn more about both his new body and the mysterious fault in time and space caused by the explosion of the Inhumans’ echo weapon at the conclusion of War of Kings. Rich admits he was both right and wrong about reconstituting the Corps; deciding in the end to allow the remaining Corpsmen the opportunity to be the “core” of a new Corps which is to be rebuilt slowly over time. Robbie is invited to be part of the new Corps. It is learned that, unsurprisingly, Ego is recovering faster than expected; so the Corps will need to find a new home in the near future. In the meantime, they stargate to the fault to see what, if anything, can be done. Upon arrival, they are surprised to receive a Xandarian distress signal. Upon further investigation, they are shocked to discover a ship that Rich Rider thought he would never see again.
There’s so much to love about this issue, I don’t know where to start. So, I’ll begin at the beginning. I heartily enjoyed the opening sequence. As anyone who has read any of my columns before knows, I am no fan of Strontians. So, as you might imagine, I savored every panel of the opening fight where Rich opens up a can of whoop-ass on Xenith and gives the beeyotch the well deserved beating she’s been asking for throughout the course of War of Kings. My only disappointment is that he didn’t kill her. I think he may end up regretting that decision. I know I regret his decision. I want her and her cousin, Gladiator, dirt-napped ASAP. Nevertheless, his guile in defeating her is much appreciated; showing that Rich has finally graduated from the “brass-knuckled hot-headed street fighter unthinkingly flying in and slugging it out” mentality that has plagued the Nova character for far too long now; to the mentality of the seasoned, strategizing, battle-hardened veteran that he is and should continue to be from now on. No more characterization inconsistency please! Finally, I was also touched by the homage to Doug Smith’s Novaprimepage in this sequence where Rich refers to consulting the Novapedia. That’s a nice shout out from DnA to Doug and to the legions of other loyal uber-Nova-fans worldwide who have kept the Nova flame burning through thick and thin for the past 33 years; and we all appreciated it.
The Morrow and Irani scene was extremely well done; and I want to thank DnA for finally portraying the Corps as the competent and effective soldiers that they should be; rather than the “red shirts” portrayal of the Corps that has permeated Corps portrayals in recent era comics. Not since the Second Xandar-Skrull War (as seen in Fantastic Four #’s 204-214; and Rom #24) has the Corps been portrayed as the competent fighting force that made Xandar a power to be reckoned with during their days of Empire (as seen in Uncanny Origins #4). Issue #28 of Nova restored my hope that the Corps can regain their former glory.
For the next sequence, I need to stop, take a deep breath, and consider something for a moment. Rich Rider as diplomat. Wow! Who’d have ever expected that?! Home run DnA! The sequence where Rich, like Teddy Roosevelt, “speaks softly and carries a big stick” is flat out brilliant. Once again, it bespeaks that level of maturity and competence that Rich gained during Annihilation; but has inexplicably shown rarely and inconsistently throughout the first 28 issues of Nova. Rich’s calm confidence both in battle and at the diplomatic table in this issue of Nova is the proper demeanor for a leader of men; and is a welcome change from the tiresome adolescent cocky bravado of past characterizations.
The sequence on Nu-Xandar is quite well done. I was cheered by Rich’s decision to re-constitute the Corps. It’s about d’ast time. A recurring cast of interesting and exciting characters is exactly what this series needs; and this first batch of Corps recruits is just the ticket. Some of these characters (who are already building fan bases BTW) will no doubt be tragically lost as the Corps is rebuilt; bringing the series some much needed edgy drama. Speaking of edgy drama, I’m guessing there will once again be some conflict between Rich and Robbie now that Robbie will be sticking around as a Corpsman; as the sibling rivalry thing between Rich and Robbie will require further exploration. Further, I was pleased to learn that the Corps will soon need to abandon Ego for a more suitable home base. I want to lobby for something beginning here and now. Tranta is the traditional home base for Xandar and we know the Orienta Shard survived the Annihilation War. If you’re listening DnA, send the new Corps back to Tranta and make the Orienta Shard the permanent base for the new Nova Corps.
The final scene where the Nova Prime starship was discovered was totally unexpected. I have always admired the trippy design of that ship and was overjoyed to see its return. Is it just shading or did the ship look battle damaged? Is it the same ship we originally saw in The Man Called Nova #1 long assumed to have been destroyed by Nebula during the Second Fall of Xandar? Is it the M2 Universe Nova dropping in for a visit? Will Monark Starstalker be found aboard the ship? I guess we have to wait another month to find out. Whatever the mystery of the ship turns out to be, I want to lobby for something else now. Please DnA, keep the ship around! The Corps needs a flagship and I can’t think of a better one than Rhomann Dey’s starship. I hope the onboard PRIME computer is up and running as I enjoyed Rich’s interaction with it during the original run of the series.
Finally, there were a bunch of nuances I liked. First, the “Prime” nickname for Rich. I like that. I hope it’s a keeper. Secondly – the further revelations about gravimetric powers in the sequences with Morrow and Robbie. Morrow’s bounce-back of the Uncreated’s projectiles is an application that we haven’t seen before; and Rich’s talk with Robbie supports long held fan theories about Nova Force being related to graviton manipulation. Thirdly, the set up for Quasar’s return to the spaceways. It was great to see Wendell Vaughn back on the job as Protector of the Universe. I can’t wait for his Realm of Kings one-shot. Hopefully, we will be seeing a lot more of Wendell in the future as it is rumored that he will be joining the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy. Finally, I liked the rescue of Raza Longknife and hope to see him rejoin the Starjammers soon.
There was one thing I didn’t like. Ravenous’ portrayal was inconsistent with his portrayal in Annihilation. In Annihilation, Ravenous went toe-to-toe with Firelord, Silver Surfer, and Ronan. He was portrayed as a tough, arrogantly confident being with Herald strength powers. However, for the past two issues of Nova, he’s been portrayed as weak and cowardly. I don’t get it. Does he have Herald strength or not? I know some fans have attributed his seeming lack of Herald strength powers to the conspicuous absence of his Currs, the apparent method he uses to channel Opposing Force. Whatever the reason, Ravenous was out of character for the past two issues and this change in characterization was not adequately explained in the storyline.
Turning now to art and colors, I can only say once again that Divito’s depictions are magnificent to behold. I hope he stays on this book for the rest of the book’s run because no one does Nova better than Divito. Ditto for Hang as colorist. Acuna delivered another solid cover portraying the Corp in a military ground assault. This cover and the cover to #27 are among my top favorites for the series thus far. I was lucky enough to score one of Perkins’ Variant Edition covers and I must say his depiction of Nova is quite impressive. If Divito ever has to take a break, I wouldn’t mind seeing what Perkins could do with the art for the book.
In the off chance that it’s not obvious by the tone of this review, I heartily recommend that you buy this issue of Nova and add the series to your pull list each month. I think if DnA continue to take the character in the direction of issue #28, this series will have a bright future. I really hope Marvel will start to market the military science-fiction fans as I think the storyline and the covers to this and last issue would really pique their interest and raise sales. Quite simply, Nova consistently raises the bar for superheroic military science-fiction. Thirty days is too long to wait for next month’s installment!
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Brad Walker
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuna
Warning: Contains Spoilers
Itâ€™s like a Christmas morning experience once per month on the day Marvel releases each new issue of Guardians of the Galaxy. I canâ€™t wait to open each issue and savor the surprises contained within. No character is safe and anything can happen in this book â€“ as was proved over and over again in Issue #17.
To recap, Warlock receives Starlordâ€™s message from the future; but before he can act, the T-Bomb is detonated, tearing a hole in space-time which is quickly dubbed â€œThe Fault.â€ Gamora and Warlock depart to try to repair The Fault; while Rocket, Groot, and the rest of the team transport to Attitlan to make sure the Inhumans donâ€™t detonate any more T-Bombs. The Guardians arrive on Attitlan and the recriminations fly, leading to a scuffle; but the argument/scuffle are cut short when Attitlan is attacked by a large creature emerging from The Fault. The Inhumans and the Guardians join forces to stop the creature; but the Inhumans are also in a race against time to stop Attitlan from falling into The Fault. Maximus and Groot devise a plan to save the city. Their plan works and Martyr departs to aid Warlock and Gamora in their efforts to repair The Fault. Warlock succeeds in freezing the advance of The Fault. In a surprise move, Martyr then stabs him through the chest to fulfill her pact with Oblivion. Gamora kills Martyr in reprisal and rushes to assist Warlock. Warlock regains consciousness; but immediately transforms into The Magus! The Magus snaps Gamoraâ€™s neck and throws her into The Fault.
This is going to be a tough review because thereâ€™s nothing wrong with this issue of the series. I do want to mention several things I really liked. To begin with, the team has really come together as a powerful, effective, and well functioning strike force. Unfortunately, this occurs just in time for the team to be fractured into several units and for two founding members to be (apparently) killed. I do hope that the deaths of Martyr and Gamora will somehow be reversed by the conditions of The Fault; as Gamora is a favorite character (especially now that she is fully healed and has her hair back); and Martyr was just beginning to become interesting.
As usual, Rocket and Groot steal the show. Smart-assy hilarity spews from Rocket nearly every time he opens his mouth. The great thing about Rocket is that he is able to get away with all the humor without becoming a buffoonish character that nobody takes seriously. Rocket may be small in stature; but he is great in leadership â€“ and a fighter Iâ€™d be happy to have at my side in a serious scrape. DnA finally explain why Groot went from haughtily loquacious in past characterizations to the rapidly losing its humorous appeal single-phrased â€œI am Groot.â€ It turns out that Groot is not only still loquacious â€“ but also a towering genius at physics; and Maximus can understand all the nuances of meaning in what others hear as Groot merely repeating his name. It was nice to see Groot broken out of his role as the dumb lumbering powerhouse of the team â€“ and using his until now hidden great intellect to save the day rather than just smashing everything that crosses his path. I hope a method is found to better communicate with Groot as it would be fun to see this aspect of the character further developed.
That final sequence with Warlock transforming into The Magus was not entirely unexpected. Nevertheless, it adds a fine new twist to The Guardiansâ€™ storyline and I look forward to seeing where DnA take us next.
I heartily welcome Walkerâ€™s return to the fold as artist this month. Heâ€™s really made this book his own; and I hope he stays on as artist for a good long time. Ramosâ€™ colors are commendable as well. Acunaâ€™s cover art for Guardians of the Galaxy is quite good, but heâ€™s spoiled me with his more exciting cover art on the last three issues of Nova. Specifically, the action portrait shot of Warlock, Black Bolt, Gamora, and Medusa is technically well executed; but not particularly interesting, exciting, or an attention grabber. I just donâ€™t think itâ€™s going to motivate any first time reader to pick this book off the shelf to check it out.
In short, DnA deliver to us once again a nice hot cup of outstanding cosmic para-military action-adventure. The Guardians of the Galaxy are truly the â€œCosmic Avengersâ€ that many have been asking for over the past several years; and I donâ€™t understand why Avengers fans arenâ€™t flocking to this book. Add this one to your pull list folks. It deserves a prominent place there for the foreseeable future.
For the better part of two decades, voice over actor Larry Kenney has been associated with Lion-O, the leader of the Thundercats.
For the better part of two decades, voice over actor Larry Kenney has been associated with Lion-O, the leader of the Thundercats.
In Part One Kenney spoke with us about his career and the fun they had in the recording booth in the first part of the interview.
In Part Two, Kenney continues to talk about the show and the possibilities of a future movie.
CosmicBookNews: Well, considering the Thundercats were part of the 1980s, so was The Cosby Show…
LARRY KENNEY: [DOING A BILL COSBY IMPRESSION] Yes, it was very huge on the television and the children thought it was marvelous and the adults didn’t quite understand it.
CosmicBookNews: [LAUGHS] That’s beautiful!
LARRY KENNEY: [DOING A BILL COSBY IMPRESSION] Well, thank you very much!
CosmicBookNews: The gentleman who did the voice of Panthro…
LARRY KENNEY: Earl Hyman.
We had two Earl H’s. We had Earl Hammond who was Mumm-Ra and many other characters and Earl Hyman who is still with us was Panthro and he was Bill Cosby’s father on The Cosby Show.
CosmicBookNews: Did he ever share what it was like working on The Cosby Show?
LARRY KENNEY: Yeah, he often mentioned what a great guy Bill Cosby was and he loved doing his show.
But we really didn’t have that much time to swap stories because when we recorded The Thundercats we worked two days a month, we did two episodes each day, we would record four episodes a month.
People would often ask us, “Why would it take so long?”
Well, what the creators begin to do is write 13 scripts, because 13 that’s the standard minimum. You don’t know four or five weeks in, if it is a hit or if they are going to buy another 13 weeks. So unless you have lots of money in advance you can’t pay writers to write 13 more episodes and pay the animators to animate 13 more episodes.
It took almost two and half years to record 130 episodes because we would do it twice — usually on Thursday or Friday once a month, and we had two episodes each of those days and we would break for lunch.
CosmicBookNews: How did you get involved with the Thundercats?
LARRY KENNEY: There was a process involved in it.
My agent would call and say, for instance, “On Wednesday at 2 p.m. you are to go to 909 Third Avenue and up to the third floor, but stop by our office and pick some scripts the day before.”
My agent would normally say, “We would like for you read for this character this character or this character.”
The creators I would read for would show me pictures or give a brief description of what the show was about and vaguely what they would like for the character to sound like.
And you give them your idea what you think the voice should sound like and sometimes the producers or director would ask, “Can you do the character’s voice a little younger or a little older?”
So I read for the people from Rankin Bass, the people who were in charge of casting the show which included Mr. Rankin himself, and I had to read for him and Lee Donniker, who ended up directing all the shows.
They asked me to read for Lion-O, and I think I read for Tigra.
Someone, later, told me they auditioned 300 actors over a two week period. But about three weeks after I auditioned, my agent called and said, “You got the part of Lion-O on this new show.”
I said, “Great.”
And at the time it was wonderful because it was another job and it is also always nice to get another job.
CosmicBookNews: But it was a job that got you an action figure!
Did you get a chance to collect any of them?
LARRY KENNEY: You know I have one Lion-O figure in my desk drawer here…hang on a sec…[DESK DRAWERS OPEN UP AND CLOSE]
Lion-O, come out of there!
[IN LION-O’S VOICE] Let me out! [LAUGHS].
I have one Lion-O and a Jackalman who I also voiced.
[IN JACKALMAN’S VOICE] We must get the Thundercats, yes?
CosmicBookNews: Oh yes!
He was annoying. [LAUGHS]
LARRY KENNEY: He was a jackal. [LAUGHS]
[IN JACKALMAN’S VOICE Let’s sneak up behind their backs and slit their throats! [JACKALMAN’S LAUGH]
CosmicBookNews: That sound like Golem from 1970s cartoon The Hobbitt.
LARRY KENNEY: Are you suggesting here, Don, that I perhaps ripped off a voice?
CosmicBookNews: [LAUGHS] No! I am suggesting I can pick your inspirations.
LARRY KENNEY: Oh that’s a good one that’s a great response! I’m gonna have to remember that.
Golem isn’t that also the name from the Lord of the Rings?
In fact, Rankin Bass in the 1970s did an animated Hobbit movie, with director John Huston doing the voice of Gandalf.
LARRY KENNEY: No kidding.
CosmicBookNews: Yeah, the character of Golem, if you listen, and stay away from the recent film versions with Andy Serkis as Golem, sounds like Jackalman.
LARRY KENNEY: I didn’t see it. I will have to listen for it.
When you’re talking about animated things, it’s a cartoon and they give you the description he’s evil he’s a mutant and he’s called the Jackalman and because jackals are supposed to be sneaky they’re like coyotes.
I picture them with their backs slinking down and skulking and stalking their prey. The first thing that comes to an actor’s mind is that sound that [IN VOICE] Snidely Whiplash, “I’m going to get you my dear.”
The characters tend to sound the same.
But I will listen for it.
CosmicBookNews: Please take it as a compliment.
LARRY KENNEY: Oh, I will.
I was mostly kidding.
CosmicBookNews: Mostly kidding? [LAUGHS]
To shift gears, you said before the interview that Rankin Bass were trying to do something that was not so violent and more wholesome, but these days, wholesome has such a negative/syrupy connotation.
LARRY KENNEY: Yeah, I know.
CosmicBookNews: But you were telling me they were really trying not as violent as the other cartoons that were popular in the 1980s.
LARRY KENNEY: I don’t think that Rankin Bass ever did anything that wasn’t top notch. You go back to Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer which was from my childhood with Burl Ives as the narrator and something else with Fred Astaire, and they always did top notch productions.
CosmicBookNews: Dan Gilvazan, who voiced Bumblebee for The Transformers, said that some people criticized the cartoons for being half hour cartoons for toys. But he said it was the toy companies who provided the money for excellent creators to tell stories
LARRY KENNEY: Interesting. I like that.
I certainly like that and I agree with that thought. I certainly haven’t given much thought to asking, “Were we doing a half hour commercials for toys?”
You would have to ask the producers why they decided to do it to begin with I don’t think that’s why they decided to do it.
You certainly know that at a certain point it became obvious, I don’t know if it was in the 1960s or the 1970s when started, making these action figures that sell.
I think in my memory, not from any knowledge of the business I remember G.I. Joe commercials for the toy. I don’t remember any action figures for the cartoons before when I was kid.
You weren’t buying Zorro action figures with Guy Williams modeled for the toy.
LARRY KENNEY: Exactly, so I don’t think anyone can think and invest all this money to begin with to create episodes of a show that may never get on the air just so they could make a lot of money to make action figures.
But that aspect is there once you got a hit show the, toy companies come to you and buy the rights to make action figures.
What are you going to say, “No?”
LARRY KENNEY: It helps perpetuate and enhance the visibility of your own product. I remember taking my oldest daughter who is in her 30s, and there was like three rows of Thundercat figures at Toys R Us.
Even if you never had seen the show and you’re a kid and you go there and see these rows of toys, you will say, “I want to see that show.”
Speaking of the show, talk to me about the infamous out takes www.cheezey.org/thundercats/sounds/outtakes
Did you have any idea they would survive so long?
LARRY KENNEY: Not really.
We were adult actors and we had people with great senses of humor and ask any actors, you’re going to show off at any chance you get.
Anyway, you’re working and are serious about doing the show, but when you mess up, you are going to say, “You dumb [f-word]!”
You never think it is never going to be heard and this in 1983 and no internet. At least everyone in the world didn’t have a computer.
We had no idea these things were going to be everywhere.
Every actor who did a project like this knew the engineer or recording engineer and was probably going to tape something like that, that was said on tape.
The engineers probably kept those tapes, and maybe at his Christmas party for his friends he would say, “Listen to what the guys on the Thundercats say when they think no one is going to hear it.”
Now all of a sudden 25 years later, it is on the internet for everyone in the world to hear.
It was a little bit of a shock to us at first, “Oh god. If they hear this there goes the whole nice image people had regarding the Thundercats.”
I thought everybody’s going to say, “What foul mouths they had.”
And the exact opposite has happened. Everyone is saying, “Wow that’s funny.”
We were just actors having a good time.
It is what anybody else at their job would say when the boss’s back is turned and when you’re not talking to your client, you say to your friends or co-workers, “You hear what that dumbass said?”
But I was really worried at first that small kids would hear it and say, “Mommy, you hear what Lion-O said?”
But that’s not something to worry about.
CosmicBookNews: And obviously the actors were not being prima donnas about it.
LARRY KENNEY: As evidenced by the laughter you hear in the room afterwards.
When you watch a movie and they show the out takes at the end of comedies, you know one actor will say something to another and everyone laughs because they know they’re not serious.
When you are doing this sort of work, it may sound strange when you are reading the lines and you have to record it seriously.
[IN LION-O’S VOICE] “Cheetarah. Snarf. We’ve got to save these people!”
I’m an actor you want to convey that feeling and you feel that so, but every once in a while, you need to break the tension, so that’s one of the ways actors do it.
CosmicBookNews: Have you heard anything about any future Thundercats projects?
LARRY KENNEY: Every few years there’s a rumor on the internet the people are going to call me or e-mail about and tell me there’s going to be a new “Thundercats” show or movie.
So far they have never panned out.
But I don’t want to say I know this for a fact but the latest rumors I’ve heard, is that Warner Bros. are involved, which would make sense, since they’re the ones that put out the DVDs and who are putting out the DVDs of the episodes.
I don’t know, it would seem logical to me that if sales of this went well and if they are monitoring sales and if there is a market still out there for Thundercats, they might consider a live action or animated movie.
[NOTE: A CGI-related Thundercats movie was in the works, but as of Aug. 2, Thundercatslair.org, had confirmed it was shelved.]
CosmicBookNews: Would you mind if they reinvented the Thundercats like how Battlestar Galactica was reinvented or would you like to see them pick up where the show left off?
LARRY KENNEY: Uh…that would be a tough one.
I don’t even think that way. I don’t think like a producer. My biggest hope is they keep the sensitivity of the show, the over all feel to the show – the commitment to the Code of Thundera.
Like you said, wholesome has a negative connotation, but keep it wholesome.
You couldn’t just put the same old show back on the air – times have changed and animation has changed.
They would probably use the language that you heard on the out takes [LAUGHS] but if they do make changes the look of the characters, the mission, I do hope they would keep the good feeling of the show.
CosmicBookNews: Like Cheetarah is now some crack addicted prostitute.
LARRY KENNEY: Yeah!
Keep it so people would recognize it as Thundercats.
CosmicBookNews: One last question, was it ever explained why explained why Lion-O grew up and Wilykit and Wilykat had stunted growth?
LARRY KENNEY: [LAUGHS] You know, I never thought about it. I couldn’t even begin to answer you.
I’d have to go back and watch it again.
I think it may have been explained they were kept young, weren’t they in some kind of chamber?
CosmicBookNews: Yeah, they were in sleeping chambers.
LARRY KENNEY: I don’t know.
CosmicBookNews: Oh well.
Do you have any current projects people can look out for you in?
LARRY KENNEY: I was the announcer on “Best Week Ever” on VH-1. I’m the guy that said, “It’s everything you love! Everything you missed! Everything you want to see again!”
I can still be heard as Count Chockula, Sonny the Coo-Coo Bird.
I’m also the guy on the Skittles commercials that says, “Taste the rainbow” or “Feel the rainbow.”
CosmicBookNews: Would you like another cartoon series?
LARRY KENNEY: Yeah, sure.
That’s what I do for a living. I’d love to do another Thundercats type thing and contribute to its success.
CosmicBookNews: And we wish you success.
Thanks for talking with us, Larry.
LARRY KENNEY: Thank you. This was fun.
During the summer of 2009, movies based on two very popular 1980s properties hit the theaters. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra were based on the two Hasbro toy franchises.
During the summer of 2009, movies based on two very popular 1980s properties hit the theaters. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra were based on the two Hasbro toy franchises.
But one 1980s property is still waiting to see its big screen debut and considering the e-mail the star of the cartoon series gets, fans want to see it.
The story, of this franchise, is about a group of feline looking people who rocket to earth from a doomed planet and set up shop on Earth.
The Thundercats were a stable of just about every cartoon fan in the 1980s.
Pick up a stick, broom handle or anything that can be used as a sword, and the kid inside every comic book or science fiction fan will either make the noises of a lightsaber, write a “Z” in the air or do something “by the power of Grayskull.”
Still many children of the 1980s will shout what voiceover actor Larry Kenney made a career saying, “Thundercats, ho!”
For the better part of three decades, the New York City based, Kenney made a name for himself as the host of the local show Bowling for Dollars, a regular with radio star Don Imus and now Kenney’s voice can be heard announcing VH1’s Best Week Ever and Skittles candy, “Taste the rainbow.”
However, Kenney admits fond memories to playing Lion-O, the leader of a surviving band of were-cats from the doomed planet Thundera, stranded on Third-Earth where they defend the local inhabitants from the forces of evil.
Kenney spoke with CosmicBookNews.Com about his career and possibilities of a future Thundercats feature.
CosmicBookNews: It is common knowledge that your daughter is Kerri Kenney-Silver one of the stars and creators of Reno 911! on Comedy Central. She had a son in 2005, how is it being a grandfather?
LARRY KENNEY: He’s doing great thank you! I just got new pictures of him standing on a surf board with a wet suit and a year and five months old and he already has his own surf board.
They are out in Malibu and the rule is you have to have one [a surf board].
CosmicBookNews: Are you going to get him interested in the Thundercats?
LARRY KENNEY: We’ll see how that works out. I never push it on any of my kids. In fact I remember when my youngest son, Tanner, he’s now an adult, was 8 or 9 years old and he was going through some old video tapes and he found tape labeled Bowling for Dollars.
He comes over to me, “Dad! You hosted a game show on TV?” I said, “Well, yeah.”
And he said, “Why didn’t you tell me?” I said, “It never came up it was 20 years ago.” [LAUGHS].
A lot of people ask me, “When you read to your kids when you were little to do you all the voices?”
It is funny, because when I first started to read to my kids I would say, “And the big bad wolf said, [WITH A GROWL] ‘I’m going to eat you…” And the kids would say, “Dad, just read the story [LAUGH], “Don’t do the voices!”
“Get to the good part!”
LARRY KENNEY: Yeah!
Everyone else in the world says, “Do one of your voices for us!” and these kids just go “Dad, you’re embarrassing me!”
CosmicBookNews: Oh that’s funny!
I imagine your kids had easier time growing up with a celebrity, like you could come walking into a classroom and say, “I am here to pick up my kids” as opposed to some celebrity like Madonna.
LARRY KENNEY: Yeah! Yeah it’s true and I’ve often thought about that celebrity is nice and everything but that’s the part of it (paparazzi and such). Especially these days…um…some people recognize me from my “Imus” days but usually that is an older crowd.
I mean teenagers don’t tend to “Imus in the Morning” [now on 770 WABC in New York City].
The people from my generation that talk to me are people on the train or in the mall.
Some 50 year-old will come up and say, “I enjoy your work” and walk away they won’t tear your clothes off.
But when I was doing Bowling for Dollars when I was in New York, everywhere I went people would say, “Hey Larry! Bowling for Dollars how are ya?”
Being a celebrity was never a drain on me and I wasn’t a movie star, I was just a guy they saw on television every night. But from that, I came to think, “Imagine you were really the idols to people who wanted to tear your clothes off day and night! You would have to live with that!”
I don’t feel sorry for them, they chose that life, but I am glad I don’t have that. I like the “kind-of-being-known” without all the bad stuff that comes with it.
CosmicBookNews: And for readers of CosmicBookNews.Com, they know you from Thundercats.
So let me ask, “Are Thundercats on the move?”
Are the Thundercats lose?”
LARRY KENNEY: They’re always on the move, hence, their charm.
CosmicBookNews: [IN A MOCK PENSIVE TONE] Larry…
…do you feel the magic?
Do you hear the roar?
LARRY KENNEY: If I thought you were being serious I would hang up the phone right now. [Laughs]
I always hear the roar I wake up hearing it. I’m afraid of a Mumm-Ra. [IN MUMM-RA’S VOICE] “Ancient spirits of evil…”
CosmicBookNews: Who did the voice of Mumm-Ra originally?
LARRY KENNEY: It was Earl Hammond, who was the best by the way, I had the great pleasure on the Thundercats DVDs which came out from Warner Bros. DVD…[ANNOUNCER VOICE]…available in stores now!
LARRY KENNEY: Anyway, during the DVD extras they recorded I had the pleasure of re-creating the voice of Earl’s character Mumm-Ra and Jaga for an inner active game you play on the DVD as a special feature.
When I was asked to play the role, I really thought long and hard about it because I really didn’t know if I could maintain the standard Earl had set, but once I convinced myself I could do it, and I could carry it, it came out pretty well and I was proud of how it turned out.
CosmicBookNews: You must have had a different mindset when you did the voice of Lion-O for The Family Guy in 2005.
LARRY KENNEY: It was.
But during the recording I was alone. They would put me in a studio all by myself and the producers, on the show, were in Los Angeles over the telephone line and I didn’t meet anybody.
CosmicBookNews: Were you nervous about doing the show?
It seemed like the show, while tongue and cheek, was paying respect to the Thundercats.
LARRY KENNEY: Yeah!
CosmicBookNews: I mean using the Sword of Omens to see a girl in the restroom or locker room, what 13 year-old wouldn’t want of one those?
LARRY KENNEY: What man in his 60s wouldn’t want one of those? [LAUGHS]
Seriously, I had to think long and hard about doing the voice of Lion-O for Family Guy.
When my agent called, he said, “They would like you to do some thing on the Family Guy project.”
They sent me the script and I said, “Wait a minute! I can’t do that!”
So I started talking to other actors and people who worked on the Thundercats and I started talking to my own kids and they said, “Dad, you are not going to denigrate the legend or the Thundercats.”
They also said, “And 7 year-old kids don’t watch Family Guy and it is a hip show and everyone knows it is just fun.”
And they talked me into going ahead and doing it. For a while I wasn’t going to do it and I said, “You can’t have Lion-O looking at Cheetarah with the Sword of Omens in the bathroom and he says to Snarf, ‘Let’s get wasted’.” [LAUGHS].
CosmicBookNews: Right. [LAUGHS]
LARRY KENNEY: Though, I decided if it isn’t cool, and I won’t do the show.
CosmicBookNews: I was just happy to see them making a joke about a subject I was familiar with.
People must still tell you how much the Thundercats means to them.
LARRY KENNEY: Oh, I gotta tell ya, it’s still so heart warming.
It is incredible, because when we recorded the voices all those years ago, I never thought it would be the hit that it is.
And we knew after it aired it was a hit show, but we figured the kids would grow up and forget us, but I get e-mails from all walks of life who tell me what the show has meant to them. And it is really fulfilling.
CosmicBookNews: That is cool people still remember you.
LARRY KENNEY: To be honest, I have got some e-mails from grown ups said that as kids their childhoods were not great and I can tell they were saying. You can read between the lines and know abuse was part of it.
But today when I get the letters, they are from doctors, lawyers, and carpenters and it will say, “Mr. Kenney, I was abused, neglected or whatever and what saved me was going in my room and watching the Thundercats.”
They are writing you 25 years late to say thank you. You have no idea, what that feels like.
And I am very protective of the show which is why I was concerned about doing Family Guy.
When I saw the show, the over all effect of the Family Guy episode wasn’t “The Thundercats is stupid” or “Lion-O is a dumbass!”
It was with a wink to our old show.
I also noticed the creators behind the Family Guy didn’t try to do the original animation style of the Thundercats show. I think I might have been recalcitrant if they had tried to draw him just like our show or used original footage of Lion-O. I think that might have been too much.
CosmicBookNews: Were you afraid you would be “going back to the well” as so many actors who are associated with other roles do?
LARRY KENNEY: When my agent first called me I was familiar with the show but I was not a regular viewer and I had seen it a few times and I thought it was very funny and very well done.
When my agent first called I thought, “Why would they want me?”
And from my family on and everyone I mentioned it too said, “Oh that is the show everyone is dying to be on. Actors are calling them and saying, ‘Use my character’.”
It was kind of like The Simpsons became that show. Everyone from Paul McCartney down wanted to be on The Simpsons so I felt honored.
How could you say no?
CosmicBookNews: And on Seth Green’s Comedy Central show, Robot Chicken, they did a parody of the Thundercats, it should be noticed that you did not do the voice for. However, how does this make you feel to see creators doing parodies of Lion-O? However, how does this make you feel to see people do parodies of Lion-o?
LARRY KENNEY: I think it’s great. I guess it is more of an indication of how established Thundercats and the character is, in the cultural since.
I guess it is gratifying showing how established you are, when it has reached to a second and third generation.
CosmicBookNews: Speaking of reaching generations, I heard you refer to Lynn Lipton, the voice of Cheetarah, as the original “Thundercats Ho.”
LARRY KENNEY: [LAUGHS] When we, the voice actors and myself, were recording interviews for DVD extras, I said that jokingly and I think she was in the room when I said that. I mean, that’s the style of a joking around we did when we were together.
CosmicBookNews: It shows you had a great relationship.
LARRY KENNEY: Yeah, Lynne’s great! She’s so funny!
Read Part Two of CosmicBookNews.com’s interview with Larry Kenney!
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Wesley Craig
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Cover Artist: Pasqual Ferry
Warning: Contains Spoilers
Original Guardians of the Galaxy, contemporary Guardians of the Galaxy, Badoon, Celestials, Avengerâ€™s Mansion, Dr. Doomâ€™s Time Machine, and fan favorite Cosmo saving the day! Man â€“ Iâ€™m telling you â€“ this issue has it all in terms of story! DnA manage to once again amaze readers by deftly delivering an engaging and exciting tale built around an enormous and disparate cast of characters.
Picking up where last issue left off, Starhawk uses Dr. Doomâ€™s Time Machine to abduct Starlord, Cosmo, Mantis, Bug, and Jack Flag; spiriting them away to a time 1000 years into the future where the Badoon rule what is left of space-time â€“ an area the size of the solar system kept intact by an enormous engine composed of Celestials and built around the sun. Upon arrival, the original Guardians attack the contemporary Guardians for an interesting and fun throw down. When both teams call a time out, it is learned that the universe has collapsed due to Black Boltâ€™s detonation of a doomsday bomb during the WOK conflict. To save themselves, the Badoon used a Cosmic Cube to enslave the Celestials and keep the collapse of the universe at bay with the Celestialsâ€™ powers. The Guardians fight their way through Badoon resistance and destroy the Celestial engine, causing the last of space-time to collapse; but not before Cosmo gets a message through to Adam Warlock. The message is simple: Stop Black Bolt.
I want to compliment Pasqual Ferry. I really enjoyed his cover art featuring the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Unfortunately, the interior art leaves much to be desired. Craig is a good artist and his style was tolerable for issues #11 and #12 as they took place in an abstract realm of the universe. However, his style is just not right for this book at this time. It looks rushed and Saturday morning cartoon-ish. This style would be fine for some books; but frankly it detracts from GoTG and makes the action sequences and the overall reading experience less enjoyable. If I have one overall criticism of GoTG itâ€™s that the art has been inconsistent across the entire run of the series to date. This book needs a regular artist like Walker, Alves, or Devito. Hereâ€™s hoping that Walker is back soon and is hired to be the regular artist for this title.
DnA weave a fine tale for the first meeting of the entire original GoTG team with the contemporary team. They also up the stakes for the Guardianâ€™s involvement in WOK, making it critical that they intervene to stop the war before the war results in the collapse of space-time that Warlock has been warning about since issue #1. I was happy to see Cosmo playing a critical role in events for the first time in this series. He is one of the stand-out characters and really hasnâ€™t gotten enough face time in the series until this issue. The other little moments in the issue where the original characters get to know the contemporary characters were also nicely done.
GoTG is one of Marvelâ€™s best titles month after month. I really hope WOK gives it a much needed boost in sales so that it stays around a good long time.
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Andrew Devito
Colorist: Bruno Hang
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuna
Warning: Contains Spoilers
This issue is everything Nova should be – tightly paced, beautiful to behold from cover-to-cover, exciting, and fun. Rich is at his most effective since Annihilation; showing once and for all why he deserves to wear the uniform of The Nova Prime. DnA hit a home run with this issue guys!
Rich, Morrow, and Irani are in a race against time to rescue Robbie from the besieged Kree-Lar as Shi’ar and Negative Zone troops under Blastaar’s command decimate Ravenous’ defenders. Robbie has managed to capture Strontian; but is having a difficult time holding her down in a gravimetric field. Rich and company must fight their way through Blastaar’s troops and Ravenous’ defenders before Strontian breaks free and kills Robbie. The last page is a real cliff hanger.
First, I want to compliment the art. Devito’s rendering of the art for this issue is incredible to behold. Not since Annihilation in the modern era or the Buscema brothers work on Man Called Nova in the 70’s has Nova art been done so well. My hat is off to Devito’s work on this series. Long may he reign. I also loved Acuna’s cover art. The Corps power dive through AAA flak toward the surface of a planet is as exciting in execution as it is magnificent in scope. It is a masterpiece in military SF art that I would be proud to hang on my wall if Marvel ever turns it into a poster (shameless hint intended). Hang’s coloring perfectly complements Devito’s art for a completely satisfying comic art experience.
Speaking of completely satisfying, I am going to have a hard time finding anything to actually criticize about this issue. DnA delivered a fine military SF story – the sub-genre in which Nova works best in my humble opinion. The characterization of Rich Rider in this issue is exactly what it should be. There is no hesitation. There are no amateurish mistakes. He is at his most decisive, most effective, and deadliest best. He is a true military leader. This is the Rich Rider I expect to see now – a seasoned, battle-hardened military veteran doing his job – albeit with a personal stake this time as he must rescue his brother.
We didn’t see much of the Ko-Rel Worldmind this time out – so I’m still not sure how well she’s going to work. I know some fans are not liking her – and I’m a bit skeptical about having a bitchy (her words, not mine) Worldmind in RR’s head – but I’m going to reserve judgment a while longer until I see where DnA are taking this.
I hate Strontian almost as much as her cousin, Gladiator; and I hope she gets her ass handed to her next issue as I am constantly annoyed by their “belief-based” powers. Speaking of Strontian and her powers, I’m glad to see my opinions from columns and blogs past vindicated in this issue. It seems that gravity does indeed overcome “belief-based” power.
Marvel has a cosmic gem on their hands with this property and I hope they continue to push Nova in the direction of space-based military SF storylines. From advance solicits, it appears that the Corps is around to stay, so I’m happy to hear Nova will now have a recurring supporting cast of characters. All Rich needs now is a romantic interest to make this series complete.
From beginning to end, #27 will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you wish this issue had been double-sized this month. Pick this one up and tell all your friends that they need to be reading Nova every month.
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Brad Walker
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Cover Artist: Salvador Larroca
Warning: Contains Spoilers
Once again Abnett and Lanning show us why Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the best books Marvel puts on the shelves each month. I just canâ€™t understand why this book is only a mediocre seller. It really is much better than most of Marvelâ€™s top sellers.
The story picks up at the start of the melee that was set up at the end of issue #14 with the Guardians facing off against the Inhuman Royal Family and the Shiâ€™ar Imperial Guard. The Inhumans rescue Crystal from Phylaâ€™s attempt to use her as a hostage; but not before Starlord and Mantis reveal to Crystal the damage the War of Kings is doing to the space-time continuum. Lockjaw transports the Inhumans back to Hala; leaving the Imperial Guard and the Guardians locked in mortal combat. The Guardians use the diversion of the Inhumans departure to split into three smaller teams to more effectively engage the Imperial Guard. Gamora and Phyla are on one team while Starlord, Cosmo, Flagg, Bug, and Mantis are on another. Rocket, Groot, Drax and Captain Victory teleport in to make up the third team. Warlock goes solo to confront the Shiâ€™ar magic user. Meanwhile, Starhawk manipulates Moondragon into setting her free. Warlock once again transforms into The Magus persona and kills the Shiâ€™ar pursuing him. Starhawk abducts Starlordâ€™s team. The other Guardians teams defeat or evade their pursuers; and then converge on the Continuum Cortex to drive the Imperial Guard off of Knowhere. As the remaining Guardians debrief; they are disturbed by a totally unexpected event â€“ the severed head of the Celestial that is Knowhere suddenly comes back to life; and itâ€™s looking for Warlock.
I thoroughly enjoyed #15 and I was impressed by DnAâ€™s ability to tell such a fast-paced and engaging story using such a large and disparate cast of characters. It would be easy for some of these characters to get lost in the shuffle or for them to be given short shrift; but DnA gave each of them something important to do.
My favorite sequence in this issue is the first one where the Guardians are caught in the middle between the Inhumans and the Imperial Guard. My only complaint is that this sequence ended too quickly. I would have preferred to see some more action with all three teams fighting each other in a free for all. As it was, the Inhumans quit the field all too quickly.
Warlockâ€™s sequence was intriguing. His abrupt transformations into the murderously psychotic Magus are jarring. The question in my mind is: are DnA feeding us a red herring? Is it really The Magus weâ€™ve been dealing with since Annihilation? Who is in the cocoon being protected by the Universal Church of Truth?
Starhawkâ€™s abduction of Starlordâ€™s team is intriguing as well. Where did she take them? Interestingly, Cosmo was with them and Iâ€™m looking forward to hopefully seeing him in on the direct action.
The sequence where all the remaining Guardians converge on the Continuum Cortex and drive out the Imperial Guard was very satisfying. I always enjoy it when the Imperial Guard get their asses handed to them â€“ and they made it clear that they were humiliated by being defeated by the Guardians.
The final sequence where the Celestial came back to life was a real shocker. I didnâ€™t see that one coming and I canâ€™t wait to see what DnA have in store for us with this development next issue.
I am a fan of Walkerâ€™s art. He consistently scores a home run with all the complex scenes and different characters being portrayed in the typical action packed GoTG story. Ramosâ€™ colors perfectly complimented Walkerâ€™s art. I didnâ€™t find the Larroca cover very satisfying though â€“ and thatâ€™s disappointing because a cover featuring Cosmo and Rocket if done better would have been an instant favorite for me as I am so fond of those two characters.
I know this will come as a surprise to those of you who respond to my critiques in the forum, but try as I might, I really couldnâ€™t find much to nit-pick about this issue. The story was engaging and plausible, the action was exciting, and the interior art was good. Quite simply, GoTG #15 was a thoroughly satisfying read and it remains one of Marvelâ€™s consistently best offerings month after month. Hereâ€™s hoping GoTG has a long and glorious future.
Written By: Dan Abnett
Artist: Andrea DiVito
Colorist: Bruno Hang
Cover Artist: Daniel Acuna
Warning: Contains Spoilers
A Nova landmark was reached today. With the publication of issue #26, the current ongoing Nova series holds the distinction of being the longest running Nova series in the character’s 33 year history. It is a proud day for all Nova fans; and one I daresay many of us probably thought we might never see given the publication history of the previous three ongoing series, the longest running of which was The Man Called Nova which ran for 25 issues. I am happy to report that #26 is a satisfying issue that does the Nova legend proud.
Issue #26 begins with a Corps cohort surrounded, under Shi’ar fire, and desperately requesting emergency extraction. To the Cohort’s surprise, Nova Prime Rider shows up and saves the day by killing the attacking Imperial Guardsmen and destroying the attacking Shi’ar battleship. The cohort returns to Nu-Xandar where Rich announces that they are to be debriefed, de-powered, and discharged home. Some protest and Rich allows them to remain in the Corps – at least temporarily. Rich’s brother, Robbie, is MIA and his locator system has been disabled. Rich, accompanied by Irani and Morrow, leaves Nu-Xandar for Nil-Rast as Nil-Rast was Robbie’s last known location. Worldmind Ko-Rel reminds Rich that Nil-Rast was where she was murdered. Upon landing, Rich and company are attacked by the Inhuman Elite led by Triton. Ra-Venn is fighting along side the Inhumans, and, recognizing Rich, orders the Inhumans to stand down. Rich is taken to a gravely injured Qubit who cannot tell him Robbie’s fate. Triton then shows Rich thousands of Nova Corpsmen helmets – the evidence of Strontian’s war crimes. The story then shifts to the throne room of the besieged planet, Kree-Lar, where Ravenous is conferring with his Chancellor as the Shi’ar attack. The Annihilation forces are holding their own against the Shi’ar and are confident of a victory. Without warning, Strontian appears on a mission to kill Ravenous. She nearly completes her mission before she is pinned to the ground by gravimetric force. Robbie Rider has arrived to arrest Strontian for committing war crimes.
There’s a lot to like about #26. The first sequence where Rich rescues the Corps is my favorite sequence from this issue. In a matter of seconds he kills the attacking Imperial Guard and, almost as an afterthought, destroys a Shi’ar battleship – dramatically re-establishing himself as The Nova Prime through physical action as he says, “Hello you Shi’ar sons of schlags. Do I have your attention? Good. I am Richard Rider, The Nova Prime, and you have killed far, far too many of my Centurions.” When I read that sequence, I was jubilant – thinking to myself: It’s about damn time. Finally, the Rich Rider from Annihilation is back! In this sequence we saw Rich Rider calm, confident, mature, effective – a clear-headed, battle-hardened battlefield leader and warrior. This is the Annihilation Nova characterization that gained a new generation of fans and re-inspired us old geezers who’ve been fans since the original series began 33 years ago. This style of characterization of Nova has been seen only intermittently since Annihilation; and I fervently hope that we continue to see more of it.
The Nu-Xandar sequences were entertaining; but I was left with lots of questions. Why is Rich so determined to dismantle the Corps? Soldiers do die on the battlefield – but that’s no reason not to have an army. I agree that everyone who was unwillingly conscripted should be allowed to return to their home if they so desire; but what about those who continue to want to serve? It seems to me that they could be of tremendous help to Rich in terms of re-establishing order in the local group – especially in the aftermath of War of Kings. I also found it difficult to believe that the Worldmind couldn’t track down Robbie Rider. Finally, there’s Ko-Rel’s attitude. I mentioned in the review of #25 that, while the addition of Ko-Rel’s personality template for the Worldmind was a brilliant dramatic idea, it was unrealistic and perhaps even a dangerous solution given her mixed loyalties. In this issue she came across as….well….uh….bitchy. I’ll reserve judgment for now, but I’m hoping this is a plot device lifted from any Hugh Grant romantic comedy you care to name where the girl doesn’t like the guy at first but eventually discovers he’s not so bad and becomes more cordially disposed toward him. I don’t want to pay to see Rich become involved in the equivalent of a bad marriage. That just wouldn’t be fun or entertaining – and it would ruin the “buddy” adventure relationship with the Worldmind that has worked so well up to this point. I do derive some small comfort knowing that at least if the series embarks on a bad marriage sub-plot; Rich has an advantage the rest of us don’t have. When he’s had enough, he can just hit the re-boot button and select a new Worldmind personality while staying in the “relationship!”
The Nil-Rast sequence was really well done – but it did seem to me that there were perhaps some possible inconsistencies that need resolving. For instance, how is it that Centurions’ shields can stand up to Echo Weapons but not to Shi’ar battleship weapons? I would think the Echo Weapons would be more powerful. Rich’s growing cosmic reputation really paid off for him in this sequence, causing the Inhumans to stand down once they realized with whom they were dealing. Seeing the inner workings of Qubit was a highlight of this sequence as was Rich’s reaction when he learned of the atrocity committed against his Centurions by Strontian.
The final sequence with Strontian and Ravenous was entertaining; but again I thought there were some possible inconsistencies. I thought Ravenous was supposed to be as powerful as a Herald. If so, it seems to me he would have been able to hold his own against Strontian. I also want to see the last scene better explained. Did Robbie pin or capture Strontian with some sort of gravity trap? Is it like I’ve always said – he who controls gravitons wins? Will Strontian merely stand up and hand Robbie his ass next issue? How did Robbie get to Kree-Lar in the first place given that the Centurions at the beginning of this sequence could not generate stargates by themselves? For that matter, if it was that easy to pin Strontian, why didn’t Tarcel use the same technique on Gladiator?
Turning to art, Acuna’s cover art was enjoyable in that it expressed the spirit of this issue though it did not reflect the content of this issue. That is, Rich didn’t get to punch out Gladiator. I enjoyed this cover more than most of Acuna’s recent efforts. The 80’s “Dirty Dancing” variant cover was more pleasing artistically; though it neither reflected the content or the spirit of issue #26. DeVito’s interior art is magnificent as usual. The helmet stars are still not consistent though – with the Worlmind being portrayed with a six-point star; and Morrow with an 8 point star in one panel. Hang’s colors are outstanding as usual.
In short, #26 is record setting in Nova history; and it begins a new arc with Rich Rider hopefully re-gaining some of his Annihilation characterization for good. It is a fun read that ties in to War of Kings. Next issue, #27, looks to be gearing up for show down between Rich and Strontian. Now that’s a fight I don’t want to miss! If you’ve not read #26 yet, rush out and buy it. You’ll be glad you did.
COVER BY: RON WILSON
WRITER: ARNOLD DRAKE
PENCILS: GENE COLAN
COLORED BY: TOM SMITH
Collecting MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #18, MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4-5, GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS #5 and DEFENDERS #26-29.
Warning: Contains Spoilers
This hardcover is a collection of the first adventures of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, dating back to their very first appearance in Marvel Super-Heroes #18, beautifully rendered by Gene Colan in 1969. This story introduces Charlie-27, Martinex, Vance Astro, and Yondu, as they struggle against a Badoon-infested Earth in the year 3007. Banding together as the last members of their respective races, they vow that the Earth shall overcome the Badoon invaders!
In Marvel Two-in-One #4-5, Captain America, the Thing, and Sharon Carter travel to the world of Earth-691 to lend a hand in the struggle to free Earth. Joining up with the Guardians, they manage to liberate New York City from Badoon rule before returning to their own time.
In their next adventure, chronicled in Giant-Size Defenders #5, the Guardians travel to present-day Earth in search of a Badoon artifact (possibly waylaid by the Silver Surfer when he single-handedly repelled a Badoon invasion force) that could be the key to freeing their world. They team-up with the Defenders to combat Eelar, an innocent victim of Badoon treachery. And they also meet a very young version of Vance Astrovik for the first timeâ€¦!
Continuing directly after the conclusion of Giant-Size Defenders #5, Defenders #26-29 sees the Defenders join the Guardiansâ€™ cause and journey to Earth-691 to free mankind from the Badoon. We also see the first appearance of Starhawk and his family, and learn the history of Earth-691 and the ways in which it is divergent from main Marvel Earth: the Martian invasion of 2001 and Killravenâ€™s Freemen; the rise and fall of the Techno-Barons; the rebuilding of Earth and humanityâ€™s expansion throughout the solar system and beyond; and its conquest by the Brotherhood of Badoon. We also learn of the Sisterhood of Badoon and their bizarre interaction with the Brotherhood. With a big assist from Doctor Strange and the Defenders, the Guardians free the millions of human slaves from Badoon rule and are poised to liberate the Earth once and for all.
There are two dust jackets for this hardcover – one standard (with Starhawk) and one direct-market variant (with the cover of Marvel Super-Heroes #18).
NOTES: While some of the material is dated (especially in the Guardiansâ€™ first appearance, where a lot of the dialog is prefaced by space-this and hyper-that), itâ€™s a fun read that is reflective of the period in which it was written. Science fiction was an evolving genre in the 1970â€™s, and Gerberâ€™s storylines reflected this tone and feeling (especially in the form of the Guardiansâ€™ ship, the Captain America, and the technologies contained therein â€“ can we say poor-manâ€™s USS Enterprise?). Colanâ€™s and Buscemaâ€™s artwork is great as per usual, and while they are remembered for work on more popular books, for Guardians fans it doesnâ€™t get much better. The stories reprinted in this hardcover continued directly into the Guardiansâ€™ first run at their own series in Marvel Presents (1975) #3-12 (which will be collected in the Guardians of the Galaxy: Power of Starhawk hardcover, solicited for July 1, 2009), also written by Steve Gerber. It is definitely a good year for fans of the original Guardiansâ€¦!
It’s not too radical to think that within the next few hundred years, humanity probably will colonize the planets closest to Earth.
However, this not-so radical idea is appearing in Radical Comics’ comic book Shrapnel: Aristeia Rising with a radical twist. It seems that government, called the Earth Alliance wants the human residents of Venus to submit to their authority.
And the Venusians have instead turned to the former space marine, Samantha Vijaya, to help lead the revolt.
Shrapnel writer M. Zachary Sherman, a pretty radical guy in his own right, talked with Cosmic Book News about Samantha, the military, and working for another radical science fiction franchise “Star Wars.”
Not bad for Sherman a comic book writer/ Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) special effects wiz!
CosmicBookNews: You have an amazing visual effects resume.
You did effects for movies like Rocky , Eragon and “The Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, as well as The Nativity Story and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe .
Why branch out into comic books?
M. Zachary Sherman: Ever since I could walk, I had always wanted to be a part of the movie industry, the entertainment business and also I have always been a writer.
When I was in college, I was a creative writing major and journalism minor.
My father was a navy captain and on his very last duty station in Los Angeles, before he retired, he worked as a technical advisor for movies. So he advised when they made movies like The Hunt for Red October and Flight of the Intruder.
And while in L.A. and I got bitten by the movie bug and I pursued this, I got a lot of support from my parents to follow my dream. They said, “You can do whatever you want as long as you bust your ass to do it.”
And I agree with that sentiment and I give that piece of advice to everyone who asks me, “How do you make it in the world of comics?”
CosmicBookNews: On your IMDB.COM entry, it says you worked for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace .
Did you have anything to do with Jar Jar Binks?
M. Zachary Sherman: [LAUGHS] I only did the compositing, painting and rotoscoping for the movie.
I was a 2-D guy. Basically I had to figure out how they made the lightsabers move in the first trilogy without using a computer.
CosmicBookNews: How do you go from digital effects to comics?
M. Zachary Sherman: At WonderCon in 2002, I had the chance to meet DC Editor Bob Schreck and I leaned over and introduced myself and said, “I’m Zach Sherman and I am a big fan of the Batman universe and I think Nightwing and Chuck Dixon are great.”
And I said to him, “I am interested in writing comics.” And I am sure every editor wants to hear that [LAUGHS].
When you average 100 editors in the industry and everybody who attends the San Diego ComicCon has an idea for a comic…[LAUGHS].
So Bob rolled his eyes, but I told him I worked at ILM and that made him kind of look at me differently. He saw that I was not just anyone, but I had some professional experience and I had a career.
So he said to me, “Why don’t you write something on spec, and send it to me.” So I did.
About a month a half later, I got my script in the mail with red pen marks because he had edited my script. I almost melted.
There was a note that said, “Better than most I get. Keep it up.”
And so I did.
CosmicBookNews: And here you are writing Shrapnel for Radical Comics.
Can you talk to us about Samantha Vijaya, the star of Shrapnel?
M. Zachary Sherman: Well, first, the members of the enlisted corps, such as the privates through the sergeants, are Helots. The officers are all genetically engineered genotypes and they run the military and the fleets.
Samantha comes from a modest background – a middle class background. Her parents could not have her genetically altered at birth and Samantha did not have the luxuries that the genotypes had. She came from a poor medical class and she never finished and got the accolades and the genotypes received.
Because of this, Samantha is a Helot, but she is one of the few people to ever become a Marine Corps officer. She is infamous in some circles and in others she is super famous. The rank and file marines look at her and think, “Wow!”
And the fact Samantha has risen in the ranks means that she is one of most skilled tacticians ever devised.
M. Zachary Sherman: However, besides Samantha, the story is all about humanity, and that is something I try to capture in Shrapnel. That feeling that we’re all brothers and we need to find a common ground.
CosmicBookNews: It seemed there were a lot of echoes in Shrapnel to the real world and current events. Did you do that on purpose?
M. Zachary Sherman: When I worked on this project with Mark Long and Nick Sagan [the creators of Shrapnel ], we decided that this was not about making a political statement but good science fiction.
However, what good science fiction does is mirror the times. The best was Star Trek in the 1960s. The show talked about drugs, the Vietnam War and all kinds of things that were going on in the 1960s.
The only reason why the censors allowed them to get away with what they did was because they did in under the guise of science fiction.
As for Shrapnel , our story is about a governing body invading another country and it is hard not to make a comparison between the two, but it was never consciously something I was going for.
CosmicBookNews: You were in the United States Marines, and a lot of that comes out in Shrapnel .
M. Zachary Sherman: The original concept for this story belonged to Mark Long, the CEO of Zombie Studios and he and I had met a comic book convention, so we had gone way back.
CosmicBookNews: So how hard it is to write dialogue and keep things technical?
M. Zachary Sherman: I tried to and it is hard it is to mirror the way people talk, especially with military dialogue and technical expertise.
However, one interviewer called me the “Tom Clancy of Comics” and I took that as a major compliment.
I try very hard to keep technical jargon as correct as possible and I want those who are “in the know” in the military not to look at something I have written and have them say, “This is crap.”
CosmicBookNews: Did you have a technical advisor for any of your projects?
M. Zachary Sherman: Yeah for my comic SOCOM: Seal Team Seven for Image Comics, I had my father and a Master Chief who was embedded with the SEAL team in Beirut, and a couple of people who can’t be named go through it.
And it came in handy because during a San Diego Comic Book convention in 2008, this big brick house of a guy came to me and he said, “I bought this book and I saw there was an American launcher on this type of deck.”
“Did you read it all the way through yet?” I asked. He said he had not.
So I pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and I said, “The launcher will pay out in the long run. You come back here tomorrow and this bill will be waiting for you if it does not play out in the story it will be waiting.”
The next day he came in and slammed it down and said, “Sign this bitch!” It turned out he was a member of the real SEAL Team Seven.
CosmicBookNews: That is awesome!
M. Zachary Sherman: [LAUGHS] Yeah, it was!
CosmicBookNews: Hey, thanks so much for your time.
M. Zachary Sherman: Thank you.
Check out the latest projects M. Zachary Sherman is up to, visit him at www.mzacharysherman.com.
Look for “Shrapnel: Aristeia Rising” issues 1-4 out now with issue 5 out next month.
After Marvel’s intergalactic storyline, Annihilation, changed the cosmic landscape of their universe, Marvel Comics is following it up with War of Kings. And in that storyline, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” will play an integral roll as the alien races of Marvel are set to go to battle once more.
And what will it take to help bring that storyline to life? How about an artist from Batman and Superman comics – Brad Walker.
Walker is one of the hottest up and coming artists in the industry and Walker spoke with CosmicBookNews about how he got into the business and working with DC and Marvel Comics.
CosmicBookNews: First, thank you for taking time out to be interviewed!
Brad Walker: Anything to help me procrastinate!
CosmicBookNews: Can you give us a little bit on your background? Where did you grow up and how early of an age did you start to draw?
Brad Walker: My dad was in the Air Force, so I grew up all over the country. But I drew as far back as I can remember. Probably 3 or 4 years old. I lived in Chicago when I was little, and they used to show the old 60’s Spider-Man cartoon there, and I watched it religiously. So, that was one of the first things I learned to draw. I would draw him ALL the time.
CosmicBookNews: When did you decide you wanted to pursue comic books as a career? Did you take your portfolio to conventions to get noticed or go another route?
Brad Walker: I decided to pursue it probably sometime in middle school, when I started reading comics on a regular basis. After that, I never planned to do anything else. I’m “All-the-Eggs-in-One-Basket Brad.”
I see you went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Do they have a specific program or course for comic book artists?
Brad Walker: Yeah, they have a program for Sequential Art, which I was in. I don’t know about now, because I don’t keep up with such things, but at the time, it was the only college in the country with such a specific major. “School of Visual Arts” in New York has a cartooning major (as do a few others), but the Sequential Art major is specific to comic books and story boarding. They had a bunch of really great professors who I learned a lot from and with whom I’m still friends.
CosmicBookNews: Can you share with us a little of your experience studying there?
Brad Walker: It was a great time! I met the majority of the friends I have to this day, and I got to draw for four years straight. And they even gave me a Bachelor’s Degree! Suckers!
CosmicBookNews: A few years after graduating you did some work at DC. Can you explain how that came about?
Brad Walker: That actually came about as a result of going to SCAD (see kids! It works! Give them your money!). I was living in New York at the time, and one of my old professors got in touch and said he was going to be in town with the kids from his Summer Semester. They were going to be visiting DC, and he asked if I wanted to come along. We met up with the (then) Batman Group, and they liked my stuff. I kept talking to them (read: bugging them), and they eventually gave me work.
CosmicBookNews: What was your first published work for DC and how did it feel seeing it out on the stands?
Brad Walker: Two back-ups stories in Detective Comics #795 and 796. Greatest feeling in the world. Followed closely by my first cover on Action Comics #848.
CosmicBookNews: Regarding Action Comics, is this something you pursued or were you asked to do these? Must have felt pretty good being part of the Superman mythos. How was it working with Kurt Busiek?
Brad Walker: My editors on the Batman stuff, Matt Idelson and Nachie Castro moved to the Superman books, and were drunk enough to ask me. I freaked out when they mentioned it was with Kurt. He’s easily in my top five favorite comic writers ever, and a blast to work with! He’s probably the most creative guy I’ve ever talked to. His head just seems to have a constant flow of ideas! And I learned a lot from talking to him about the pages, because he’s got such a natural grasp of storytelling. I loved every minute of it!
CosmicBookNews: Also, with DC, you penciled some issues of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. What would you say was the difference between drawing the Superman titles compared to these Batman titles and which did you prefer? Was one more difficult than the other?
Brad Walker: That was the stuff I did immediately after the Detective back-ups. My first full length work. So, it was tainted by having very little idea what I was doing, but boosted by unbridled enthusiasm. I love Batman probably right behind Superman (from the DC side of things). It’s different tonally, but to be honest, I was working so hard back then not to screw up, and get it done fast, and trying to impress my editors that it probably wasn’t as thought out as much as it should’ve been. Maybe I’ll get to go back to Batman someday, when I’m a little more confident with my work…
CosmicBookNews: Overall, how would you rate your experience working with DC?
Brad Walker: I’d give it an 11! But I won’t tell you out of what… No, I’ve loved working for DC, and technically still do (I’m still half way through an unsolicited project). I’ve got lots of friends there, and I would always draw anything that Matt Idelson asked me to, because I owe him my career. But, to be honest, Marvel characters have always been slightly closer to my heart, so I’m looking forward to getting a little more comfortable over there!
CosmicBookNews: So how did you come to work for Marvel?
Brad Walker: I met Bill Rosemann in my accountant’s office, last year.
CosmicBookNews: How is it working under Editor Bill Rosemann?
Brad Walker: I love working for Bill!
He’s a great guy, and smart editor and every note he’s ever given me has been spot on. He’s really supportive, and he and I share the worst tastes in television in the entire comic industry.
And his assistant, Michael Horwitz has been fantastic, too. He just started on the book in the middle of issue 8, and from my perspective, he didn’t miss a beat.
CosmicBookNews: Currently, you are penciling Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. You just recently did your first two complete issues with them, issues eight and ten. The art was really great. Do you enjoy drawing these space type stories?
Brad Walker: I did all of issue 8, and [I penciled] 13 pages of issue 9. And I love drawing all the Marvel space stuff! It’s probably as exciting to me as Batman and Superman.
And thanks. I’m glad you liked it
CosmicBookNews: You said you only penciled part of issue 9, was there any particular reason why?
Brad Walker: I couldn’t do it in 12 days. Hey, 13 pages in that amount of time ain’t too bad!
CosmicBookNews: How many issues are you going to do?
Brad Walker: I did 8 through 10, and I’m working on 13 through 15, right now. I’m hoping to do up to (at least) issue 18, but we’ll have to see how the deadline looks at 15.
I’d draw it as long as they’d let me though, cause it’s so much fun.
CosmicBookNews: Does it bother you when the cover is done by someone else, do you prefer to do them or doesn’t it really matter?
Brad Walker: I don’t mind at all having somebody else do the covers. I like doing them, but they can be frustrating because so many other people need to sign off on them (understandably) than a regular page. And they can be much more time consuming.
CosmicBookNews: What about coloring? Obviously, penciling a 22 or more page book is quite time consuming, but if you had the time and option would you prefer to color your own work?
Brad Walker: No, I don’t really “see” in color. That’s the one step of the process I would probably never aspire to. And Wil Quintana – the artist that’s doing the colors on Guardians is a genius.
I couldn’t even imagine pages looking as nicely as he makes them actually look.
CosmicBookNews: Can you quickly take us through your process of penciling an issue of Guardians of the Galaxy? How much time, on average do you spend, on a page. Can you share with us what computer programs you like to use?
Brad Walker: I read through a script and sketch my first impression of each panel right there in the margins. Then, I draw out each page really loosely about 3 x 4 inches. Once I have everything placed where I want it, I enlarge that to 400 percent and trace it onto the boards. Then, I go through and draw it all with a real, live pencil.
I only use a computer when I need to scan stuff to show to [editors] Bill, Mike, Dan, and Andy.
I hate computers.
I spend about a day on each page. Some a little more, some a little less. It – kinda – evens out…
CosmicBookNews: They say an artist is never satisfied. Would you say that is true in regards to how you feel about your work?
And, regarding that topic, how many revisions do you make before you send it in?
Brad Walker: Yeah, I like my work for about a day after I finish it, then I hate it. I try not to get hung up in revisions.
You can really fall into a vortex, that way. If I notice something I did that I’m unsatisfied with, I just try to apply that lesson to the next page.
Sometimes, Bill will ask for something to be a little different for the sake of continuity, or to make something more clear, but it’s always been small, and it makes the page better.
CosmicBookNews: What about Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning? Are they real particular?
Brad Walker: Well, they’re amazing. So, there’s that.
And I couldn’t say they are particular, because I haven’t seen the need to stray from anything as written.
I can see everything they ask for, pretty much dead on, the first time I read through a new script.
They’re very vivid and they haven’t complained, so I can’t be that far off.
I think all this cosmic stuff they are doing is going to be remembered for a long time and I think it’s really stellar (yes, I said that) work.
CosmicBookNews: Were you a fan of the original Guardians of the Galaxy from 1990s? If so, any particular character a favorite?
Brad Walker: I didn’t read it, no. I think the characters are still cool looking, though. I know a lot of people probably think they’re corny looking, but I’d love to get a flashback sequence, or something with them. I think a good artist can make just about any character look cool without some fancy redesign. I thought Paul Pelletier made them look great in issue 7!
CosmicBookNews: I have to ask this question, are you a fan of Wendell Vaughn?
Brad Walker: Yeah, I love him. I liked that old series that Greg Capullo drew with him.
I just read the Nova issue of the “Annihilation series” today, where he died. I’m catching up on a lot of “Annihilation” stuff.
It’s too bad he would be impossible to bring back from the dead.
Seeing how we are on the topic of characters, which ones are your favorite?
Brad Walker: Okay, number one will always be Spider-Man. Always.
After that, here are the other contenders: The Thing, Superman, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Batman, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Green Arrow, Hercules (Marvel’s), and (Monica Rambeau) Captain Marvel.
There are tons I’m leaving out, but that’s a short list that comes to mind, right now.
CosmicBookNews: So Spider-Man is your favorite, which Spider-Man stories are your favorite and which artist?
Brad Walker: Yeah, far and away my favorite. I would go so far as to say that I don’t think there was a single, bad issue of Amazing until about 1994. Even when it was silly, it was still a good Spider-Man comic, and it was fun to see where Peter Parker was going. And I think the current stories are the best it’s been since 1994.
And yes, I’m aware that answer will have legions of Mary Jane lovers hating me.
Sorry – it’s fun, these days.
But, my favorite runs are the Lee/Ditko/Romita ones, the (enormous) Conway/Andru run, the Stern/Romita Jr. one, the DeFalco/Frenz stuff, and the Michelinie/McFarlane/Larsen/Bagley runs. Yeah, I know that’s almost the first 30 years.
For artists, I’m partial to the guys from those runs, plus I think Marcos Martin and Mike McKone are doing really great work, right now.
CosmicBookNews: So, I take it you wouldn’t mind be called upon to do Spider-Man?
Brad Walker: Yep. I’d be fine, about that.
CosmicBookNews: What artist influences you most?
Brad Walker: Uh. The Silver Age guys, I guess. I’m a big Kirby guy. As well as Ditko, Romita, Buscema, and Neal Adams. I love Walt Simonson, Alan Davis, Frank Quitely, Carlos Pacheco, Ivan Reis, Marcos Martin, and Ron Garney, for newer guys that spring to mind.
CosmicBookNews: What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Do you intentionally try to create your own “style?”
Brad Walker: Uh…. do something else??
Actually, I’d say don’t develop a “style”.
Draw everything, and draw it from life. Try to make it look real. Your comic book influences will come through regardless, so you might as well learn fundamentals. And as far as looking at comics. Look for the storytelling. Look at the old guys, cause anybody you like from the past 20 years is aping somebody from before that. You might as well learn from the source.
Oh, and be prepared to do it till your fingers hurt. Literally. If you don’t like it enough that that sounds appealing, then this isn’t the career for you. My hand is cramped up, as I type this.
[But as for style] I think of new ways to render sometimes, but that’s not to form a “style” as much as it’s a different attempt to get a point across. Like I said, before, your style will come through, whether you like it, or not. I really have no idea what my work looks like. In my head, it’s a photograph and any amount that it doesn’t turn out that way on the page is just due to the restrictions of my implements, my time, and my talent.
CosmicBookNews: How do you feel when you read those internet message boards in regards to someone remarking, good or bad, about your work?
Brad Walker: Well, I love hearing that people like our stuff. There’s no better feeling than knowing that you’ve pleased somebody who really loves a book, or a character.
And I’m pretty good about criticisms because artwork is completely subjective, and not everybody is going to be into your stuff.
I mean, name any artist, and I can go online and find somebody who hates them. So, you’ve gotta take that stuff in stride. But I really appreciate when people say specific things they’d like me to change.
After [Guardians of the Galaxy] issue 8 came out, somebody on a board somewhere wrote that Paul Pelletier drew a better Gamora. So, I went on and asked him what he liked better about Paul’s version, and he said that she’s supposed to have heels on her boots. So, in issue 10, I was able to fix that.
In that respect, the internet is a really great tool for comic artists! But, then there are the whiny babies on there who are venting about other things they’re missing in life. Like I do on my “Two and a Half Men” message boards.
What comics do you currently read?
Brad Walker: I love Spider-Man, right now. Green Lantern [from DC Comics]. Dan and Andy’s stuff and I’m not just saying that cause I’m involved.
I’ve just gotten into the Punisher Max trades, and I’m loving them. I’m enjoying Trinity, and everything that Ed Brubaker does. I’m really excited about the Dan Slott Mighty Avengers, and I loved the Superman books, up through New Krypton. We’ll have to see if it holds my interest without Supes in it, though.
CosmicBookNews: Is there anything you wish to plug?
Brad Walker: Just Guardians, and the War of Kings storyline in general. I’m going to be drawing my little heart out to try and make my chapters look great. So, hopefully that comes across.
And, on that note, I should get back to my page…
CosmicBookNews: Thanks for your time, Brad.
Brad Walker: No problem! Glad to do it!
Be sure to pick up Guardians of the Galaxy issues 8 through 10 on sale now, issue 13 hits stores April 15th and look for issues 14 and 15 soon, penciled by Brad Walker.
Folklorists and monster seekers have been hunting a creature called the Mothman that has been seen haunting the countryside of West Virginia.
In the recent comic book film, Watchmen, Canadian born Niall Matter ( Eureka and Stargate Atlantis ) filled the wings of a super hero, also named Mothman. This Mothman, who appeared in the Watchmen comic, was created by comic book greats Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. He served as part of a Justice Society of America type super hero group, called the Minutemen. However, the Mothman is confined to a mental asylum, where he is forced to deal with his alcoholism and paranoia.
Matter, whose career is beginning to break out, spoke with CosmicBookNews about the Watchmen movie, television and the Mothman legend in West Virginia.
CosmicBookNews: To start with, and just for the sheer heck of it, had you ever heard of the legendary Mothman in West Virginia? Some people say it is a Native American god, others say it might be an alien.
Niall Matter: When I got the roll in the Watchmen movie, I did a Google search for “Mothman” and I read up about [the West Virginian legend].
CosmicBookNews: Any thoughts on it?
Niall Matter: Yeah, I said, “That is crazy!”
CosmicBookNews: Speaking of crazy, it seems like the fans have really taken to Watchmen. Have you been surprised by how big it has been?
Niall Matter: I was not surprised, I knew how big the comic was.
CosmicBookNews: Were you familiar with the comic book?
Niall Matter: I wasn’t. Obviously I have heard people talk about the comic book for a long time, but I had never actually really read it before I was on this project.
However, when I had heard the Watchmen movie was being made, I looked into it and I ended up landing a little roll in it.
CosmicBookNews: Were you given any extra background information by creator Dave Gibbons who had been on set?
Niall Matter: Not really.
[Director] Zack [Snyder] taught me a little bit about the Mothman and he told me who the character really was. [Zack] gave me kind of an outline as to who the Mothman was and the issues he faced, like his drinking and such.
CosmicBookNews: Were you able to, if you pardon the expression, wing it when you needed too?
Niall Matter: Oh yeah. Absolutely. Zack told me, “Do what feels right to you.”
CosmicBookNews: It seems like you had a lot of fun with it. Did you play the Mothman, say the way a super hero was played back in the 1940s. You know a sort of “old time” way. Like the heroes say, “Gather around, kids. Listen to your parents and drink your milk.”
Niall Matter: Yeah!
Absolutely it was really fun to delve in too something different from what we are used to watching [in current super hero movies]. I was able to turn this into an old school, corny, semi-cheesy style of acting. [Laughs]
You have to look at this at the time Mothman and his fellow Minutemen actually were in. I mean I loved delving into the over the top body language that was used back then.
CosmicBookNews: Even the costume seemed “old school” – as you said. You didn’t have the body armor, say Nite Owl had, or even the armor Christian Bale had for The Dark Knight.
Niall Matter: The costume was just a cotton suit over the top of my body with the wings strapped over. I did not have anything else, say body armor, like Batman or Nite Owl had. I had to wear the cotton suit to stay true to the “times” and “era” that Mothman was in.
That was the style the super heroes were wearing back then.
CosmicBookNews: Because you are from Alberta, Canada, I have to ask this for the fun of it, who would win in a fight – Bret “The Hitman” Hart or Niall “The Mothman” Matter?
Niall Matter: [LAUGHS] Oh yeah! The Harts are formerly from Alberta. However, I would say, probably Bret “The Hitman” Hart would win, because those Hart boys are pretty big.
Actually, I grew up on a farm in Alberta and the Hart Brothers used to have a painting company and the Hart Brothers painted our huge barn. I’m a lot closer to the Hart brothers than you realize.
CosmicBookNews: [LAUGHS] So there was a chance to see the Hitman fight the Mothman?
Niall Matter: [LAUGHS] It could’ve have happened.
CosmicBookNews: We at CosmicBookNews are breaking it first – a fight between Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Niall “The Mothman” Matter – it could’ve happened !.
Niall Matter: Yeah! It could’ve.
CosmicBookNews: With that said, I know Bret Hart is a legend in Canada. But you are no slouch yourself with fans. All you have to do is take a look at the IMDB.Com message board under your entry.
Had you heard from any of them about you being in Watchmen?
Niall Matter: Yeah, many of the fans – who were fans of mine from the television shows I had been on [ Eureka and Stargate Atlantis ] had written me and said it was fun to see me on the big screen.
CosmicBookNews: Was there a difference from doing a television show to doing movie for you?
Niall Matter: The biggest difference was the amount of time I found myself on set and the type of set. When you are doing television, you are on the set more of the time – well at least compared to Watchmen.
However, when I got to the Watchmen set, you were blown away by the size of it because you basically were walking the streets of 1940. As I said, I was just blown away by the massive set and the scale of it.
CosmicBookNews: I was reading that your parents have a water transport company, were they able to bring of the water to the Watchmen set?
Niall Matter: [LAUGHS] No they are based in Alberta and that is the province next over from where the set was in British Columbia. They would have had to truck and over through the Rocky Mountains.
CosmicBookNews: Well, our web site can give them a plug anyway.
Matter Water Service – located in Leduc, Alberta – the best water in Canada!
Niall Matter: Thanks!
CosmicBookNews: Well jumping back to Watchmen and genre television, do you want to continue in the science fiction field or would you like to branch out?
Niall Matter: I think my career is getting ready for a transition from roles in science fiction to roles in comedies. Which is strange, because I feel the most comfortable doing drama even though I have not done as much in it.
I definitely want to get into to more drama and features in the future.
CosmicBookNews: Any type of roll in particular?
Niall Matter: Yeah. I would really love to tackle a darker roll. Think Edward Norton in American History X.
I want to do something that is both physically challenging where I have to hit the gym and transform in to that person physically as well as mentally.
CosmicBookNews: Well, either way, you’ll have fans watching.
Thanks so much for your time.
Niall Matter: Thank you.
For more information about Niall Matter, visit his web site www.niallmatter.net.
And a special note of thanks to Trina Allen for arranging the interview with Mr. Matter.
Annihilation Conquest Book 1 TP When your land is occupied, you have two choices: assimilation or resistance! The first salvo in the exciting sequel to Annihilation, this deluxe hardcover showcases many of Marvel’s most fondly remembered cosmic characters, updating them for a new generation of sci-fi starved readers! Still recovering from the Annihilus War, the …
On her blog she calls herself a writer, an actor, a raconteur and a bon vivant.
However, to many of her fans she will be remembered as Pearl Forrester, the villain in the final years of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3K).
Though it has been 10 years since the show was first canceled, many of the same players have returned in Cinematic Titanic (CT).
MST3K told the story of an orange jump-suited worker trapped on a satellite forced to watch terrible movies. With three robots to help keep his sanity, Joel Hogdson spent five years lampooning terrible movies and in 1993, Hodgson passed the lead to Mike Nelson.
And in the final two years of the show, Pehl played the blond haired Pearl who spent her time flying a rocket-propelled Volkswagen Bus across space and time chasing down Nelson.
The show first ran in 1988 locally in Minnesota’s KTMA but was picked up nationally on Comedy Central in 1991. And in 1997, the Sci-Fi Channel aired the show until it was canceled in 1999.
In 1992, Pehl joined as a writer, and in 1996 she was cast in the role of Pearl, the mother of the Mad Scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester who was played by writer/actor Trace Beaulieu. In 1997, Beulieu left the show and Pehl was given the roll of lead villain.
Pehl was kind enough to talk with Cosmic Book News about her time on the show and about her newest venture with MST3K alumni on CT which has been running since 2008.
COSMIC BOOK NEWS: On Mystery Science Theater 3000 you worked with crew members like Joel Hodgson [who played the role of human Joel Robinson], Trace Beaulieu [besides Dr. Forrester, he played the robot Crow], and Frank Coniff [who played Dr. Forrester’s sidekick TV’s Frank] on now you working with them on the Cinematic Titanic project.
I know you probably told this story thousands of times, but how did you come to work for Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in 1992?
MJP: As I’ve described in many interviews, I had done a lot of standup comedy and other sorts of shows with Joel Hogdson, Mike Nelson, Josh Elvis Weinstein, Bridget Jones, Trace Bealieu and Frank Coniff, so I knew them all from that scene.
I’d only heard of MST3K, however, I don’t think I owned a television set at the time, so it was pretty apocryphal to me!
But I’d heard they were looking for an additional writer, so I called Mike Nelson at home one evening (I can still remember my dot matrix printing just starting to print very loudly in my small apartment just as I started to talk to Mike. I was so nervous.)
He ended up asking me to come in for a trial run of two weeks. Nobody said anything one way or the other as the two weeks drew to a close. I was really disappointed, assuming they weren’t interested in keeping me on, so I went around thanking everyone for the opportunity.
Kevin Murphy, Trace, Joel and Mike all seemed kind of shocked, there was a closed door meeting and they gave me another two weeks.
Then I just stayed.
They were gonna have to bring in the National Guard to get me out of there!
CosmicBookNews: Joel’s last episode was on MST3K was the movie where you guys parodied the Joe Don Baker movie “Mitchell.” I read in the MST3K book that in real life Baker was unhappy with you guys.
Do you know if he still is?
MJP: I don’t know. We haven’t heard and he hasn’t kept us up-to-date on his grudge.
CosmicBookNews: Because of that movie, I walk around the house saying “Mitchell” every so often.
MJP: I know! Doing that is exciting!
CosmicBookNews: When you guys did MST3K: the Movie, why not “Highlander Two: The Quickening”?
I mean I saw many fans on the internet begging MST3K to trash it.
[WRITER’S NOTE: Myself included.]
CosmicBookNews: How did you guys choose “This Island Earth?”
MJP: I am sorry I have such a terrible memory and I know there were some other movies in contention. But I think we winnowed it down – it was difficult for the MST3K show to get rights to a lot of movies but it was even harder to get the rights for one to do a movie and I think that narrowed down our choices.
And we need to consider suitability for the big screen and a lot of other factors to make a movie suitable for MST3K.
We also felt it should be a color movie too and if memory serves and we were able to cut that movie without screwing it up too much. And that’s what it came down to.
CosmicBookNews: Do you still have your Interociter like they had in “This Island Earth” someplace?
MJP: [LAUGHS] No, I move around a lot and I travel light.
CosmicBookNews: Of course you did many of the background voices, and one of your earlier on screen appearances was that of the “Brain that Wouldn’t Die.” But do you remember when were you then asked to play the role of Pearl Forrester? And how did it feel to play the lead villain when the series moved to Sci-Fi Channel?
And where you nervous about going out in front of the camera?
MJP: I can’t recall exactly, but she’d been on the show here and there, and I know we threw around a lot of ideas. We felt we still had to continue the motivation behind Mike and the ‘bots having to watch the movie, and it just came down to that. I was extremely nervous.
I’d done a lot of stage work, acting stuff here and there, but this was new. And it was big shoes to fill… Oh! And there you bring it up in the next question!
CosmicBookNews: When Trace Beaulieu left the show, did you feel you had some tough shoes to fill in?
MJP: Oh, indeed. Trace wears size 12 Jimmy Choos, and not only are they tough to fill, they are notoriously uncomfortable.
CosmicBookNews: You once wrote that writing for the MST3K was one of the best experiences you ever had. Even in that last episode on the Sci-Fi Channel, one could see the emotion on Pearl’s face was not just sadness over Pearl Forrester’s time with Mike and the robots were coming to an end. It seemed much deeper.
How much of Mary Jo bled out of Pearl in that last episode of MST3K?
MJP: I have a hard time recollecting because it is going on 10 years but I do know I am not such an accomplished actor that I would have been able to separate the two [of Pearl and Mary Jo], so I am not surprised that perhaps I did come through.
You know I spent seven years and though it was the greatest job anyone could hope for. We watched television on big screen TVs. I got to watch wonderful awful old movies together with some of the funniest, smartest, coolest people I know and we got free popl and health insurance and it was a great place to be!
I think I thought it was time to move on and I think we were all getting kind of burned out, but I only will speak myself.
You can get burned out even in the best of jobs.
MJP: So yeah it did show and that doesn’t surprise me. I think we had one day after the wrap where we reviewed the movie and did ads and deletes but it was a huge chapter in my life coming to a close.
CosmicBookNews: Did people recognize you? I mean, are you glad that you are able to go the grocery store without being mobbed?
MJP: Of course! Trust me, that has never been an issue. If anyone recognized me as my Pearl Forrester character, I would be upset.
However, people do recognize my voice a lot, and sometimes my name.
CosmicBookNews: I imagine there is a Mid-Western American mentality to be respectful if you are a celebrity.
MJP: Yeah. It is kind of hard for me to describe living in Minneapolis, there is a certain isolation and we very much work independently of New York City and Hollywood.
So it is really kind of neat when you work on an obscure television show, so for the first couple of years I was really flabbergasted that people have even heard of it.
It is really weird when someone you have never met before says, “I loved you in this episode and can you explain to me why this happened in this episode?”
And it is not bad weird, but you are kind of unprepared for it.
In my head I was just doing my job – a great job and I was just going to work every day.
And I guess in my little pea-brain I forgot it got beamed out into the airwaves. Seriously, I would just report to work and do my thing at the best job in the world and it took me a while to go, “Oh right! Through technology other people are seeing this!” [LAUGHS].
CosmicBookNews: Well it seems your “celebrity status” got you into George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). What was “Jedi Central” like?
MJP: We’d been invited by ILM to do a private show which was more or less the launching of Cinematic Titanic.
I can’t even begin to describe it!
At every turn I was sure I might have an aneurysm because we’d be shown yet another really cool thing.
It was also kind of hilarious because our friends there [at ILM], Tom, Alex, Jennifer and Bonnie, for starters, were all just as geeky about us as we were about them!
It was tremendous!
CosmicBookNews: Jumping back to the movies you riffed on like “Mitchell,” do you find yourself asking, “Did they really make this movie?”
MJP: Yeah! We have said that about many movies.
CosmicBookNews: Speaking of bad movies, Patton Oswalt [on his album “Lollipops and Werewolves”] has this great bit about a movie called “Death Bed” – essentially it is a bed that eats people.
Oswalt talks about he has written many screenplays and he wonders if they are any good.
But then when a movie maker makes a movie like “Death Bed,” Oswalt said he is frightened that the movie makers actually wondered, “Is this any good? Should I keep making this movie?”
Do you think any of these movie makers really thought they were making the next “Star Wars” or were they doing just to give actors and movie makers something to do?
MJP: I think Patton is much more generous of spirit than I am. I don’t think many of these writers were especially tortured, thinking, “Oh my god! Who will see this vision through?”
I think they just wanted to get a movie made.
Who can blame them?
However, a lot of people have sense of humor about it such as director Rick Sloane, writer and director of “Hobgoblins.”
CosmicBookNews: Is there a personal favorite MST3K episode you did?
I am a child of the 1970s, so the movie resonated with me.
Also, “Space Mutiny” cracks me up, what with it’s eighties-ness.
CosmicBookNews: Can you guys actually watch television or a movie at home without making wisecracks?
MJP: It is pretty hard not too and even if you are watching a really good film, every so often you want to insert something, just to break the tension.
But it is hard and I think the world has gotten a lot more savvy not just about cinema but media in general and it is hard to take a lot of things that sound serious seriously.
CosmicBookNews: Since MST3K ended are there any movies or television shows you wanted to take a shot at?
MJP: Oh yeah!
People always ask me that question and I need to keep track of the movies I watch because I can never call it to mind when I need to mind.
For starters, “House.”
And I also want to start on books because lately I’ve read some huge blockbusters that I just think, “Wha…??!?!”
CosmicBookNews: As an aside, are there shows you do enjoy?
MJP: We don’t have cable and we only watch television with DVD movies, so I really don’t watch much television. But when I do, I love to watch “The Simpsons” and I loved “Arrested Development”. I cried myself to sleep when it went off the air.
I’m loving “Flight of the Conchords,” and loved “Extras.” I’m watching “Knowing You, Knowing Me.”
And – I’m not proud of this, I’m just telling it like it is – I have to willfully turn off “Rock Of Love,” and it’s so difficult, like trying to put down a box of chocolates that you’ve already plowed through three-quarters of and are already sick.
CosmicBookNews: [LAUGHS] Wow!
Now, I have heard sometimes it could be difficult for MST3K to get a particular movie. Does Cinematic Titanic have an easier time getting movies?
MJP: Frank and Joel are pretty much in charge of acquiring movies, but we are going after films that seem to be more accessible, that we know we might have a fighting chance with on our budget.
CosmicBookNews: So there are people who purposely make bad movies to air on show?
CosmicBookNews: It seems like there is something disingenuous about making a bad movie just to give it a second life on MST3K or CT or even RiffTrax, the Michael Nelson movie-riff endeavor you contributed to.
MJP: It is difficult to quantify but I think it has to do with intent. If the film maker sets out with the intent of making a bad movie, and then hopefully give it some sort of life if not on DVD or drive-ins, but with a mocking show, like RiffTrax or CT or MST3K, it just doesn’t work. The self-awareness and the pandering makes it almost impossible.
On the other hand, your Ed Woods, your Al Adamsons, your William Castles, were flying by the seat of their pants, however misguided, and that somehow makes the playing field what it is.
CosmicBookNews: That reminds me of the people on “American Idol” who come in to audition outlandishly and purposely sing off key.
MJP: Yeah, it’s a set up.
CosmicBookNews: How great is to be back with MST3K crew members like Hodgson, Trace, and Coniff] on CT after so many years apart?
MJP: Oh it’s great fun! It’s just really wonderful to be back in one’s element. I never actually riffed on the movies in MST3K, except for one segment. But it was my role as a writer to mock the movies, so it’s in my blood.
And to be able to do it live and do it with people who you think are tremendously funny and smart and raise the bar for you is terrific.
What’s not to like?
CosmicBookNews: Did you ever think you would be working with these again or were you hoping for some sort of MST3K reunion?
MJP: I don’t know if I was ever looking for a reunion and I think I am friends with most everybody from MST3K so that satisfied a lot of that for me.
CosmicBookNews: So it is not like a classmates from high school or college you will see once ever 10 years or so at some reunion of sorts.
MJP: Right. It was never like I was not gonna see them again. I never really thought about it.
Of course, I would be up for it if it ever happened. And then Joel and Frank and I had lunch when I was in Los Angeles a few summers ago, and voila!
CosmicBookNews: So working with these guys is like old times?
MJP: Yes, to a certain extent, having worked with everyone in the past on the show. Josh and I worked a lot together doing standup.
And yet, it’s all new because I’m riffing for one thing, and I’m a partner in the endeavor. And it continues to be a work in progress. We’re still figuring out how to do things and how to make the mechanics work.
CosmicBookNews: Before CT, you contributed to two anthologies, contributed to NPR, did a lot of shows and you have kept busy.
MJP: I have been freelancing for the most part and I have traveled.
That was my big dream after MST3K ended was to travel and I traveled on and off for about a year.
Then I moved to New York, which in itself is a job and that was quite an adventure. I moved back to Minneapolis, and moved to Austin, Texas.
Also, I contributed to several books but I only authored one. It’s no longer available, and believe me, it’s for the best. I’ll have a new book out later this year, and there will be an electronic version of a bunch of new stories available for iPhones at the Apple store in a few weeks.
CosmicBookNews: How do you “turn the switch” from book writer to television writer?
MJP: Well, the writing I do for Cinematic Titanic isn’t really conventional television writing, so I don’t feel like there’s much a switch to be flipped.
MST3K and Cinematic Titanic are pretty specific in terms of writing to a movie (host segments and interstitials not withstanding).
My stories and essays are much more rounded out, expanded, because I have the luxury of telling a story and not trying to fit in a quip between dialogue or make fun of an endless car chase.
CosmicBookNews: So it sounds like you kept busy.
MJP: Yeah, I have been doing a lot of acting, writing, and voice over work.
CosmicBookNews: I hear voice over work is extremely lucrative these days.
MJP: Well apparently I am not getting enough of it.
MJP: Put the word out! Anything to avoid a cube job.
CosmicBookNews: So what is next for you? Any new books or TV shows?
MJP: Yes, I’m working on a couple of new books; I’ll be editing and contributing to an anthology that I’m starting work on; I’ve always got a million projects in the hopper…now…if only one of them would come to fruition…
CosmicBookNews: Thank you, Mary Jo!
And visit Mary Jo Pehl’s web site at www.maryjopehl.com.
And also a big thank you to Mary Jo Pehl who answered many more “follow up questions.” But she was kind and gracious to do so!