Science Fiction

macho_man_deathclaw

It was inevitable.  After the Macho Man Randy Savage Skyrim mod that replaced all the dragons with the classy Slim Jim spokesperson we now have a mod that represents the greatest threat to the post-apocalyptic universe.  All deathclaws in the game have been replaced with our beloved gogo booted, cowboy hat havin’, sequin wearing professional athlete.

Even if you don’t play Fallout, give it a watch.  I was entertained.

Let’s get some biases out of the way. I’ve spent the last few months hate watching Arrow. I’m a little reluctant to blame the show itself for my distaste. I expect I am being a fuddy duddy and am trying to project my long held understanding of the character onto Stephen Amell.

I’m not generally insistent that fantasy shows have any sort of basis in reality, but characters in Arrow consistently pull 180 degree morality turns.  Kill or not killers, I love you today, hate you tomorrow and love you again during the next story arc. The whole thing feels very frustrating.

The Flash shares some of these problems, but I find that enjoyable. I don’t think it went as far as it needed to in the first season, but now that the main arc is finished they may be able to explore some some of the more gonzo story lines, which is where the show excels.  That may be part of the problem with Arrow, because the show is trying to be grounded it may not be capturing my attention.  Moody, unshaven angst bores me while a telepathic, genetically modified gorilla causes me to cheer.

I have high hopes for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, you can see their version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl above.  Hawkman looks a little like Batmanuel, but having more Tick in the world is never a bad thing.  LoT is a time travel show and I have long maintained that the only way to do a time travel show properly is to go full gonzo. A series of insane, confusing, logically suspect “I am my own grandpa” style of stories.  Doctor Who does this well, and LoT needs to follow suit.

I’m grateful to the Arrow for giving us these shows, but wish it could become more like them.  Maybe the CW will skip ahead a few years in the plot and do aging, on-armed, cantankerous Green Arrow from The Dark Knight Returns.  Now that would be good television.

Source: First Look at Hawkgirl & Hawkman’s “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Costumes – Comic Book Resources

star_wars_disco

No, not an official video, but I wish it was. The dark side needs new fodder. The dark side has thumping bass, 80s accented lighting and leather, but very few dance skills. Will you join them?

Makes me want to break out some LEDs and come up with a projection unit attached to my ankles.

Star-Wars-Rogue-One

Some may be suggesting we will approach peak Star Wars in the next couple of years, but not me. If we can maintain consistent quality, increase the richness and scope of the lore then there will be forgiveness for episodes 1-3. I’m hoping for a good movie that happens to be in the Star Wars universe.

Be kind, I’m experimenting with video for the first time.  Check out the photo in the clip below.

WESTWORLD, WESTWORLD US 1973

When Westworld rolled onto UHF television movie channels sometime in the late seventies it completely captured my attention. Yul Brynner’s deadpan performance, the surprise exist of a main character and the prisoner who was not what she seemed. It may seem quaint compared to the special effects of today, but something about it resonated with my young mind.  It wasn’t really about the direct plot, but the implications for humanity. 

Seems like HBO is very willing to revisit that uncomfortable line sometime in 2016. Check out the trailer here.

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Takumi continues to be awesome, delving into Mad Max: Fury Road with his take on a young Immortan Joe. This just makes me yearn for the Blu Ray to come out.  He better not lean forward though or else he will get skewered on that pointy belt buckle.

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Part of the melancholy of being a Super Robot fan is that some of the coolest stuff will never been seen in the United States. I guess this is how the rest of the world feels.

Check out one of the latest entries in the Super Robot Wars series, Super Robot Wars Z3. The Super Robot Wars series has been running since 1991, spanning multiple game systems. We have only seen a couple of official translations hit our shores notably the Original Generation games that feature no licensed characters. The complications in getting all the licenses worked out the US is difficult so we will probably never see these games here.  Click on the video below to see what you are missing.

Super Robot Taisen Z3

I’m sneaking in a little more Force Five with the original Japanese intro of Danguard Ace. With luck quite a few of you will be humming along with familiarity. If you are not familiar or want to get really deep into this giant robot thing, you can click here.

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What will the Spider-Man costume look like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? No one really knows who is not connected to the production. The Mary Sue is reporting on the rumor that the Latino Review (which gets a lot of things right) is suggesting that the custume will look very much like a high-schooler pieced it together which fits very much in the canonical story, but has never really seemed that way in the movies.

I am very much in support of this.  Not official, but the source of the rumor pointed to DeviantArt user SpikeSDM’s concept above.  

Source: If This Really Is What the New Movie Spider-Man Costume Looks Like, It’s Awesome | The Mary Sue

This has been a Force Five heavy week here at the Robot and I don’t think a lot of people will mind.  CollectionDX keeps tabs on the best toys and they have images of the new UFO Spazer for the Ex Gokin Grendizer. The unit will not be available until November, but Grendizer who is sold separately is available now.  Click the below link for a full set of images.

Source: EX Gokin Spazer and TFO for Grendizer | CollectionDX

From the recently held Wonder Festival in Japan we have some amazing shots of prototype garage kits for Mazinger. (Tranzor Z for the American robot fans) I’ve lost track of all of the manga and anime variations of Mazinger, but the products linked below are gorgeous modern representations of the character regardless of how they fit into the continuity.  

Great Mazinger was also part of the North American Shogun Warriors line if that rings any bells.  I’m linking the English dubbed anime opening to spark your memories.

Source: Sen-Ti-Nel at Summer WonFes 2015 | CollectionDX

ultra_mom

I not making a claim that this vacuum advertisement doesn’t cling to ancient stereotypes. Out of all the mothers I have known in my life I don’t think there is a single one who would say “Gee, if I had the evil fighting powers of a giant robot it would just be dandy if that came with a vacuum hand”. Yet, I still find this weirdly adorable.  You can judge for yourself.

Video lovingly submitted by drmomentum

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Just getting back from vacation now, so I am still oiling my robot parts to talk about the geeky and/or obscure.  Ghostbusters isn’t obscure but it does inspire geek feelings even in the most starched, polo shirted of us and plenty of news and images have been rolling in.

This deserves a full blog post because we have all the women together at once in the new jumpsuits. It isn’t an official promo image so no posing or action shots, still I am thrilled with every bit of news I am seeing out of the production so far.  It feels like Ghostbusters with the bonus that it has been filming in Everett, MA. Take that New York, it’s our turn!

Ghostbusters is directed by Paul Feig, stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon and should be released next summer.

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Sometimes the world feels pretty gross.  Bad things happen to good people and sometimes people say some terrible things in response to the bad things that happen.  It can be pretty exhausting.  

I am acutely aware of the tragic nature of life, it is easy to get caught up in it. I need reminding that there are better things in the world aside from negativity and cynicism. Fiction seems to be where the optimism gathers.  If writers don’t like the world they experience they have the opportunity to craft one better.  These are not rose colored glasses covering the truth, but they tend to be worlds that represent the best of us, what we can become in our shining moments.    

When Rod Serling became frustrated working in traditional media he created the Twilight Zone, widely regarded as being some of the most challenging television material of the period. Concepts considered too intellectual or too controversial within the bounds of typical narrative became easier to digest within a world of distorted pig faced aliens or gremlins on the wings of planes torturing a lone man.

Humans (myself included) tend to not react well when confronted with change or concepts that are foreign.  This is the benefit of animation as a medium.  The simplified, illustrated humanoid form is abstract enough to experience the emotional content without awareness of confrontation. Note that I am speaking from personal experience rather than gathered data, I’ll let experts talk to the reality and numbers.

After what feels like decades of dark, gritty animation or shows that consisted of pure absurdity it feels like we have a block of shows now that speak to the concepts I mention above, optimism, hope and the struggle to maintain your innocence despite external circumstances.

There are multiple shows that fit this criteria, Adventure Time, Bee and Puppycat, anything that Lauren Faust has created in the past few years and anime like Girls und Panzer, lately I’ve been focused on Steven Universe.

From the promos Steven Universe looks like every other Cartoon Network program.  I would not be shocked if people just passed it by like I did thinking it was standard animation fodder. I finally decided to watch it because of the continued noise from social media regarding the show.

It was the second episode that made me a fan, I felt like I understood exactly what show creator Rebecca Sugar was trying to accomplish. 

Steven Universe has a simple fantasy structure.  A boy of limited ability living with three super powered caretakers going on a hero’s journey to achieve his destiny.  That setup could be any number of fantasy novels or movies in the past few decades, but Rebecca Sugar has turned this on its head by having our protagonist Steven ask questions and perform actions that any human can relate to.  

Where Adventure Time was a television show that celebrated play and childhood, Steven Universe is about the actual experience of growing up, of doubt and discovering that adults are just really taller children with a bit more time under their belt.  Every character here is deeply flawed without being discouraging and overwhelming. The battle is uphill but you know in your bones that they will succeed.  The skill in the writing is that you don’t really know how the character will get there, but you know that they will.  The characters come in every shape, size and temperament and there is bound to be one that your child and you as an adult can connect with.

Despite the outrageous framework Steven is a very real child, arguably one of the most realistic children on television and this has been compelling to children and adults alike.  Steven Universe is a my prime example for how television has changed and overcome the eighties and nineties toy driven properties that had little impact outside of amusement.

In a tweet the other day, I had said that Steven Universe was more grounded than most prime time television and I meant this wholeheartedly.  Just like Rod Serling did decades ago with difficult moral choices and warnings against losing your humanity Steven Universe does with hope, optimism and making childhood a little less frightening.

In this case I’m giving the same advice that I normally give to parents about video games. Invest in challenging media for your children and engage with them.  Watch cartoons, perform a role, get nerdy about speculating about plot points and connections, write your own stories about the characters. In essence play just like your children are playing.  

I think parents often complain about the declining attention spans and television being vapid, but the kids who sat in front of a blue glow with a bowl of sugary cereal on Saturday mornings have grown up to create some important stories.  At first glance you may not be able to recognize them as such, but I promise, you will be rewarded.

robolad

Oh Robolad (or Robolar, I can never tell) you taught me so may things.  If I consume only candy bars I may wake up dressed in a glittery jump suit. You taught me that the Mars space program is so poorly funded that their spacecraft is constructed from cardboard boxes and poster paint.  I now know that the denizens of Mars have a Boston accent.  

Hundreds of times in the eighties I heard that earth fruit is “Yummy and not bad”, so much so that every word of your important message is burned in to my brain and I can repeat it today.

I will never forget you Robolad, or Robolar…whatever your name is.

GameraNEB

 

One of the communal benefits of being a geek culture enthusiast is enjoying conventions.  In a room filled with other obsessives it almost feels like home.  I love seeing celebrities and love seeing the gaming and pop culture shops that collect at these types of events.  

 

The best part of a convention isn’t the big names, it is walking around the convention at the edges finding the person who is not famous but is working their darndest because they love what they do.  Frankie Washington (Facebook) exemplifies this, he loves giant robots, he loves giant monsters and has dedicated his art to them.

 

I talk about things I love, but they are often somewhat frivolous or obscure. If I can do any good in these articles it will be highlighting the hard working local creator and give as much exposure as this medium allows.

 

Above you see his work for the upcoming art book Gamera vs. Zine-Ra, a celebration of one of our greatest kaiju heroes and Creature Double Feature star.  

 

Frankie’s work reminds me of classic manga, gonzo trading cards like Mars Attacks and Dinosaurs Attack! and a healthy measure of Mike Ploog.  

 

Here are a few other examples, I hope you enjoy:

 

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Colossal Kaiju Combat trading card game.  Washington does the artwork based on feedback from the community forum.

 

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The Last Daughter of Lilith cover design, book by J.L. Metcalf

 

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The Secret Lives of Villains webcomic, written by Matthew Blair and lettered by Rebecca Currell

 

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Reckless Sidekick Productions’ Kid Switch Comic anthology

 

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Mech: Age of Steel anthology by Ragnarok Publishing

 

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When discussing yesterday’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer I mentioned to a few folks that there were a lot of adults who shed a tear or at the very least got goosebumps when they watched it for the first time.

When people ask me to define the word ‘geek’, I tell them that geeks are people who are unapologetic about the things that they love.  What they love isn’t important, it can be anything.  What is important about the things they love is that they are inspired by them and it causes them to experience joy. Just like all humans, if it makes us feel something good we then pursue it.  Star Wars is an almost universal example of this for a couple of generations.  The trailer yesterday turned us all into six year olds watching Luke Skywalker battle evil for the first time.  It reduced us to the raw emotions we felt on that day and everything else melted away.

Below we have your average American male, Matthew McConaughey, viewing yesterday’s trailer for the first time.  I think it is fair to saythat a lot of us recognize every single emotion that washes over his face.  Celebrity or not, some things make us all six years old inside.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=PYHdQUyOunA?w=640

 

I won’t go into much detail because you just need to watch it. The first trailer was not impressive, this one turned me into a bumbling nostalgic idiot. Enjoy.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=JsC1XSroHwY?w=640

After Guardians of the Galaxy came out and surprised everyone by being wildly successful Saturday Night Live did a sketch about how Marvel could sell anything, including a movie starring spinning office chairs. The aging comedy show was correct. At this point Marvel could do anything and do it well.

On paper Ant-Man is one of those ridiculous Silver Age concepts that shouldn’t work in live action. It should barely work in the comics because it seems like a gimmick, how many stories and opportunities can a hero take advantage of while being the size of an ant?

The full trailer is out now and indeed it works. They made Ant-Man awesome with just the right amount of humor as a nod to the insanity of the idea.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=pWdKf3MneyI?w=640

jurassic_world

I don’t have a lot of doubts about Jurassic World, but I may be starting to feel some now.

Chris Pratt is a very likable actor.  Every interview and at every appearance he comes off as charming, interesting and generous.  The writers must have worked really hard then to have him appear as a sexist schlub in the below clip.  I think the intent was to portray the character of Claire Dearing as an oppressive, uptight foil to Chris’ fun-loving party guy who knows how to get things done when it is on the line.  Instead Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard is the reasonable one and she should be an inch away from filing a sexual harassment suit against the Chris’ Owen Grady character.

I won’t judge the whole movie based on the clip and they do have water based dinosaurs, so I have to see it.  I am just hoping Pratt goes through some pretty massive character development in the first few minutes of the movie.  If not, I think I would rather see him devoured by his velociraptor gang.

Jurassic World releases on June 12th, 2015

https://youtube.com/watch?v=4EY4qZO4vC4?w=640