Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Futura - Chapter 16

If the previous installment of the Futura Saga recommended safety glasses when reading then full-body armor is required for this one!

In the earlier chapter that introduced the Space Pirate Queen Yrina, I maintained that Futura and the pirate are not all that different and may have easily followed different paths in their respective struggles to survive in the wild and woolly space lanes. Planet Comics #58 (January 1949) is a good example of Futura making the kind of decision that would realistically land her on a Most Wanted Criminal list for a reason other than the current case of mistaken identity.

On the run and trapped within the black market arms bazaar Futura offers as a distraction to her pursuers the kind of destruction one would expect from the criminal Yrina and not a displaced executive secretary. In the 1994 film Clerks some of the characters discussed the film Star Wars. They posited the idea that it was doubtful that everyone who was killed on the Death Star was an enemy combatant and that thousands of poor, working schmoes also met their deaths when the ship exploded. A lot of the staff that died were just contracted techs and pump-jockeys who just wanted jobs and to feed their families.

A similar sitation occurs in Chapter 16 of the Futura Saga. In her desperation to escape from the bazaar Futura purposely razes the market to the ground and causes massive chaos on both the ground and in the sky. Her actions undoubtedly caused the death of scores of people, some of whom being slaves and captives like herself, were not evil death-merchants and undeservedly perished. Futura is no stranger to wide-scale annihilation though. In a bid for freedom she destroyed a planet and the native population upon it on a previous occasion. When the people of Pan-Cosmos were wiped out she was at best acting with good intentions that went awry. At worst Futura was using the rebellion for her own selfish means, sacrificing two races of sentient beings just to gain access to a space ship. It is interesting that the events leading up to her escape from Pan-Cosmos and the bazaar reaped similar results and that two of the most evil characters in the strip, Omma and Yrina, have in common enough traits with Futura that they all chose the same path for escape.

Futura may have crossed a moral line in this installment but this kind of characterization is a positive one and gives Futura more depth and motivation, something that was sorely missing in all but a few early comic book serials. Futura's decisions make her a bit less two-dimensional and far more interesting as her character evolves from the simple kidnapped secretary she once was into a person of resolute means. If Futura still has designs on returning home to Earth then they are undeclared and she may have changed too much to ever go back to being the sexily-clad girl in the Compu-Steno pool. A career in spaceship piracy seems ever more likely for Futura.

Click to...Look out! Run!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Accept no imitations

A cheerful Lev Gleason publication gleefully leads a crowd of competing comic books to their horrible watery deaths. From Crime Does Not Pay #66 (August 1948).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lesson learned

A horrible week dealing with food poisoning and I'm still recovering. Should have known better than to eat those brands of pre-wrapped salami sandwich and macaroni salad. Haven't been that sick since I ate that meat-thing on a stick from that street vendor in the Philippines back in 1986.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Visiting the Land of the Lost

Michael May's Adventureblog has just finished the third part of an unflinching three-part review of season one of the classic 70's show The Land of the Lost. I'm too biased towards the spirit of the show to ever give a fair review but he did a good job of it.

AAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Enter the portal to be whisked off to the Adventureblog!

Monday, January 18, 2010

UBER CHICLE

In the post Bibimbap is the shizznit a while back I posted about the unfortunate practice of 'affinity scams', where a member (or pretends to be) of an ethnic, religious or professional group takes advantage of perceived and expected trusts to defraud a member of the same group.

On a recent visit to one of the local Asian markets in San Diego I picked up one of the fliers for a particularly heinous scam that targets the Asian community using the social and cultural pressures inherent to an affinity scam. In this post is a real advertisement for a ridiculously expensive miracle rubber that the seller claims will cure whatever ails you. I changed the name of the product, the logos and removed the inventory numbers because I don't want some poor fool looking this quack garbage up and buying it through any leads I might provide.

"Uber Chicle" (as I call it) is basically the rubber of the kind you would find in any wetsuit. In fact, the seller even admits that a wetsuit manufacturer supplies their materials. From the samples I've seen the rubber is clearly mass-produced and bears the typical quality control issues one would find in long sheets of this material such as smeared cement on the edges, seams and frayed threads. While I find the rubber indistinguishable in any way from similar wetsuit material stock the seller claims the Uber Chicle is special in some way. The advertising materials make the usual unsubstantiated nonsense text-salad claims that the special rubber (made from rocks) enriches human cells and recycles the magnetic waves the human body emits (mostly in the infra-red range) all to enable the body to retain the natural biological rhythm. Whatever that means.

This is an example of a woo-woo claim that is clearly immoral if not criminal. These pieces of rubber are sold at high prices using questionable claims of efficacy and healing powers or functions that are nothing short of magical. I worry that people with real illnesses are spending money on this junk believing and hoping it will help cure them of their afflictions. This is a very real concern as sales tactics vary depending on the customer. I have experienced this first-hand. Sales reps will variously ignore, treat with hostility or suspicion or deflect any inquiries I have based on what I presume is my race and a few other factors. Without missing a beat the very same salesperson will pounce upon my wife with spiels about miracle cures and awesome magical properties of whatever device is being sold. Often, it happens while I am standing right beside her.

Keep in mind that the average price for neoprene sheeting is about $25 dollars a yard. There is no shortage of the gullible and desperate. If I was evil, I'd be rich.

Click the picture to mark up 1000%
Sadly, it is very difficult to shut predatory scams of this nature down. This a little fish kind of problem in a very big pond and often the most that would happen is that false advertising charges would be levied, a small fine would be paid and business as usual would continue even if under a different name. Caveat Emptor rules the marketplace. Administrations that should protect consumers often look the other way or are toothless in the face of huge profits and influential dollars flowing into political coffers. The few victims that realize they are scammed are reluctant to file complaints or eagerly go on to the next quack-cure convinced that the next one or the next or the next will work as promised. Attempts by private individuals and Governments to educate the public is a slow process and feels despairingly futile sometimes. Unfortunately for every rational warning there are 500 attention-whoring celebrities praising the magic healing power of a pill, book or magnetic shoe insert.

The fact is, if any of this crap worked as advertised the world if not our marketplace would not be recognizable as it is now. This special knowledge and technology, if it was real, could not be contained or controlled by a select, special or powerful few. As most of the advertising claims the knowledge is everywhere, part of everyone and can be manipulated and touched. It is natural and miraculous and cures all ills. There would be no need for specialists or sales reps as every person on Earth would be at their ultimate potential of health just by common everyday exposure to these natural fantastic elements. Medical science, Doctors and hospitals would exist only so far as to ensure each individual died without pain and with dignity, though a comfortable hospice with a bucket of crystals in each room would conceivably replace the function of the physician in regards to the transitioning soul also. Keeping what is claimed to be so reportedly fundamental out of the hands of the average layman would be like trying to control the secret of making fire 10,000 years after the first bonfire was built and used to cook Mammoth steaks.

Please. If you are sick, visit a Doctor. A real one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Take it home, Glen

As expected, I lost several subscribers in the hours after I posted my little opinion of Pat Robertson and his twisted, sick, hate-filled, bigoted and insane Cult of Suffering yesterday. I have no real idea who routinely drops in or when they stop doing so beyond the limited amount of tracking I do for the site, but I usually lose a number of the registered 'Followers' whenever I stray too far from the subject of comic books.

So?


Friday, January 15, 2010

When The Magic Goes Away

In the race to say something stupid about the disaster in Haiti it is Pat Robertson who is once again the clear winner, taking the gold medal. Almost as bad as Pat is his cohort in crime, that woman who sits on the couch next to him on the telecasts and who nods in sage acknowledgment to every insane and ridiculous statement this guy spews. I know it is her job, if not her actual calling, to play hostess but there should be a limit to what a person can stand.

I really can not think of any situation that is made better by adding in religion. It does nothing but allow self-limiting behavior that crushes human potential and deflects responsibility for both the good or ill that people do.

I'd like to think that organized religion is in it's death-throes and that all the attention and exposure is the reflexive actions of a twitching corpse before it finally dies. That is likely hopeful thinking on my part. What I hope is the last gasp of an irrelevant dying giant is probably been going on in some form for thousands of years, much the same as the Woo-Woos seeing signs of the Apocalypse occurring at any moment.

It would be so great though if Pat and the entire disgusting Cult of Suffering he is a part of was rendered irrelevant. Maybe another couple of decades will see some progress. I'd like to think my grandchild will live in a world where superstition is relegated to the fantasy of e-books and the cinema and not serve as an actual human impetus.

Think of how great the world would be if religion was looked back on as being as equally real as the cartoon adventures of Scooby-Doo.

NSFIQ Video (Not Safe For IQ)


Oooh, Burn!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Answers To Everyone's Questions

PSA advertisement from All-American Comics #38 (May 1948). It's like some comic book artist saw the future and designed this layout specifically for people in a distant era to screw around with.

C'mon! Who could hate Woodgod? One of the best things Stan Lee ever did for Marvel was hire hippies.

Boo-yeah!

Obvious, but true.

Blank here.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Futura - Chapter 15

Throughout her story, kidnapped earth-woman Marcia Reynolds aka Futura has never been content to just sit around and wait to be rescued. This is characterization that was unusual for the time period as even the most capable female enthusiastically handed over control to the first man/potential husband/father-figure that appeared in-panel.

Chapter 15 of the Futura Saga is another example of the creators being unique in ignoring the usual gender roles for the fiction of this era. It was a rare episode that Futura didn't take stock of a situation and then promptly proceed to bust some heads for the greater good even if on occasion the results was less than satisfactory, such as the "Magic Sword" story arc in which she freed a people from subjugation only to destroy them all by unnatural disaster.

Planet Comics #57 (November 1948) features the creators really hitting their pace in telling the Futura story. It is a fun episode and the art and script are great. The page depicting the alien slave market is worthy of a pin-up on its own and is reminiscent of later John Buscema establishing pages from various Conan the Barbarian stories. Gloriously, Futura opens up a gigantic can of whup-ass in this chapter and splashes the contents around with a frenzy. It is a testament to her ability to beat on her enemies that she received a full extra page of butt-kicking action beyond the number her story usually received each issue. The bad-guys still don't seem to communicate among themselves much because they continue to let Futura within arms reach of pointy things, guns and chairs. This is such a basic error in tactics when going up against Futura that one would speculate a galaxy-wide alert would be broadcast like a Kansas tornado warning just in case some pirate or corrupt government official happened to cross paths with her.

It is with this issue that the story seems to find direction and becomes larger in scope. Some of the old comic book science fiction tropes are discarded and the tale becomes something that could later be called Heinlein-esque. This is something of a shame because there are not that many entries left in the Futura Saga. The state of the comics industry would bring in a few short years a close to many of the classic comic book titles that had been in publication for decades.

Safety goggles recommended when reading. Enjoy!