By W. W. Shols Cut off from the rest of the universe by the force field that gives us the title of this book, Perry Rhodan battles enemy forces and the environment of the primeval world that is (or was speculated to be in the early 1960s when this was written) Earth's sister planet. Frankly, not a whole lot happens other than pieces being moved around on the game board in this middle part of a short trilogy of novels within the broader Perry Rhodan saga. This volume of the series is notable more because here each book expands to include backup short stories, making it more truly a "magabook" or "bookazine" (the editor's terminology varied). If you're interested in reading more about it, head on over to my other blog. Cheers!
My wife and I went
to see the evening showing on Christmas Day. We both really enjoyed
it. It's a great adventure story most reminiscent of Raiders of
the Lost Ark. I have been aware of Tintin for a very long
time as a classic European comic book, but until very recently had
not read any of it, and even now have read only one of the couple dozen books
available in English, specifically The Cigars of the Pharaoh.
Even though I have such limited exposure to the original, I feel
compelled to risk offending the cognoscenti by endorsing
reviewer Stephen Schleicher's assessment at Major
Spoilers that here we have a rare example of an adaptation that
surpasses the source material. It's that good – not to say the
original comic stories are not excellent and deservedly considered
But this post is
about the movie. Besides a solid, non-stop story, the motion-capture
animation is excellent. (Note: We saw it in 2D.) In places, were
it not for exaggerated facial features it would be easy to forget
this is not live-action. It's much better in that respect than
Beowulf from a few years ago, even though if I recall
correctly most of the facial features were more normalistic there
than here. I particularly remember the eyes in Beowulf not looking quite right, as
well as some of the movement, especially walking. Neither of those
are issues in this movie. And even though the figures are overall
quite realistic, enough distinctive features are maintained to
duplicate Hergé's artistic style
quite well. Overall, it's a perfect blend of the cartoonish and
realistic. The contrast is put front and center early in the story
when a market artist sketches a picture of Tintin that looks just
like one of Hergé's drawings. I can't find a specific image of that
online, but the image at right illustrates the effect.
I really hope this
movie succeeds in the American box-office and inspires other such
adaptations of non-American products for American audiences. Lord
knows there's plenty out there, such as Perry
Rhodan (a subject we discussed at length a few weeks ago when
I guested on TheBook Cave podcast).
This post was directly inspired by something I read on Frank Weathers' great blog, Why I am Catholic, "Because Tradition Says December 25 is When Christ Was Born." When I read that, I immediately thought about what I've pretty much accepted all my adult life, that we don't really know at what time of the year Jesus was born, that the 25 December date is just tradition that owes more to the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia as well as the feast of the sun-god Mithras than anything specifically Christian. In that entry for 23 December, Weathers doesn't really give much in the way of argument, but does give some good links, one in particular dealing with just that question of pagan antecedents: In "The Dating of Christmas," his entry for 18 December, the blogger for Roma Locuta Est reports on some of Pope Benedict XVI's attempts to reinstill some of the cosmic significance to our understanding of the events of Our Lord's life and death and effectively refutes the idea. But it's the first Anonymous comment to that blog entry that I found particularly intriguing, that there is indeed Biblical evidence to support tradition and the customary date.
Consider the event of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to the priest Zechariah, foretelling the birth of John the Baptist:
"In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah.... Now while [Zechariah] was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. ... And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord...." (Luke 1:5, 8-9, 11 Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition).
"The division of Abijah" was one of 24 groups of priests entrusted with fulfilling temple duties according to a rotating schedule through the year, on a weekly basis from Sabbath to Sabbath. Each would serve twice a year according to a set schedule. (Three major festivals would round out the year.) The division of Abijah served during the eighth course, which because of the major festivals of Passover and Shavuot occurred during the tenth week of the Jewish year beginning round about the Spring Equinox. It would then come around again 24 weeks later. Remember that the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar depending on the nearest Sabbath to the Spring Equinox, so the specific dates vary in our modern calendar. In any case, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah sometime around June or December according to our modern calendar.
After receiving the message of the Archangel (and being rebuked for his hesitance in believing, but that's not important here),
"[W]hen [Zechariah's] time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived...." (Luke 1:23-24 RSV-CE).
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin ... and the virgin's name was Mary" (Luke 1:26-27 RSV-CE),
and announced the birth of Jesus.
Of course, we don't know how long "after these days" Elizabeth conceived, but the sense is that it wasn't very long. I imagine that, long childless plus having already been rebuked by the angel, Zechariah would set about getting things in motion pretty quickly.... So, more than likely, Zechariah's encounter with the angel was about six months before Mary's. We know that by the time Mary has gone "with haste" (verse 39) to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth, she already carries Our Lord in her womb (verses 42-43).
John the Baptist was then born three months later, Jesus six months after that.
We therefore have two possible time-lines:
(A) June: Gabriel appears to Zechariah December: Gabriel appears to Mary March: Birth of John the Baptist September: Birth of Jesus Christ
(B) December: Gabriel appears to Zechariah June: Gabriel appears to Mary September: Birth of John the Baptist March: Birth of Jesus Christ
Huh-- Wha--? (B) is not what Parson presents as his second possibility, rather jumping directly to ancient tradition that John the Baptist was conceived just after Zechariah's temple service at Yom Kippur -- for which he gives excellent references, which ultimately results in the timeline given as (C) below. But Yom Kippur is on the tenth day of the Jewish month Tishri -- usually September! -- not during the 34th week from the Spring Equinox, which would place it as I do above more like December. (This seems to be a common error -- see these articles/blogs: "Christmas, Pagan Romans, and Frodo Baggins" by Fr. Dwight Longenecker and "Was Jesus Really Born on December 25th," by Dr. Taylor Marshall, and "Swade's" comment to the latter.) How are we to reconcile this inconsistency? Would Zechariah possibly have been serving during Yom Kippur?
Well, as best I can figure based on what I find in another article ("The Biblical Case for a Late December Christmas," by one "Dr. Billy"), Parsons conflates the initial counting of the priestly courses, established during the age of the First Temple, with the reality of what was the practice during the age of the Second Temple, assuming that there had been uninterrupted courses from the beginning. There had, however, been the major interruption of the Babylonian Captivity.
During the summer of 586 BC, on the 9th day of Av (late July), the First Temple was destroyed and the priestly courses ended. When they were reestablished about seventy years later in the rebuilt Second Temple, the courses seem to have been restarted from that date -- 9 Av -- to commemorate that catastrophe. So the cycle assumed above would be offset by about three months.
This accords with evidence presented by the Jewish historian Josephus that when the Second Temple was itself destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 -- on 9 Av again! -- this second destruction occurred during the service of the first course of priests. Therefore, it is likely that during the first century BC/AD, Zechariah's division of Abijah would indeed have seen service in September -- coinciding with Yom Kippur -- and again in March.
Which gives us two more possible timelines: (C) September: Gabriel appears to Zechariah March: Gabriel appears to Mary June: Birth of John the Baptist December: Birth of Jesus Christ
(D) March: Gabriel appears to Zechariah September: Gabriel appears to Mary December: Birth of John the Baptist June: Birth of Jesus Christ I know of no sure way to prefer any one of these possibilities over another, outside of tradition which clearly favors (C). But I think that traditional timeline linked to Yom Kippur is also supported by what Zechariah was doing during his temple service:
"[I]t fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. ... And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense" (Luke 1:9, 11 RSV-CE).
It's my understanding that the Jewish priests would enter the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum of the Temple considered the dwelling place of the Most High, only on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. If that is what is being described here, that would indeed be the time, generally in late September, when Zechariah would have been fulfilling his temple service. And what time would be more appropriate for the proximate events leading up (over thirty-odd years) to the greatest Atonement of all to be set into motion?
Now, I'm not a specialist in any of these matters and I'm making assumptions that what I'm finding on the Internet is valid (a dubious scholarly method, but this is a blog, not a formal publication). For me at least, however, this little exercise has brought a new understanding of how the Church's most ancient traditions that are in recent years often dismissed as being no more than that have truly deep foundations and indeed support in scripture. Cheers -- Merry Christmas! -- and remember that this is just the first of twelve days of Christmas ... not the end!
(And this post, which began when it was indeed still 25 December, has grown overlong as it has turned into the early hours of 26 December. I'm tired, and I'm going to bed.)
Mark Eidemiller (available for free download here)
way, this could have served as a perfect ending for this series.
Luckily, it's not – there are at least two more tales, one of which
has been published, another said to be in the works. But in this
story, the major unresolved issue hanging over Doc Savage from his
reawakening in Bronze Refined as Silver
after Doc mysteriously disappeared in 1949, the activities of his
“Crime College” were exposed – and were framed as gross
violations of the civil rights of the criminals whom Doc had
surgically rehabilitated … against their wills. Press exposés
and congressional hearings destroyed his team and sullied his legacy,
branding him a criminal comparable to the likes of Josef Mengele.
Now, most of a decade after beginning his new life as “Clark Dent,”
the birth of his children – triplets – inspires Doc to do a great
deal of soul-searching, and on their first birthday he announces his
intention to come clean, face the public, and the law. Not at all
coincidentally, this happens just as the very criminal who had
trapped Doc in suspended animation – and survived to the present by
the same means – determines to finish the job of destroying Doc's
reputation with the aim of driving him to utter despair and suicide.
He doesn't count on either Doc's new circle of agents and friends,
and the fact that Doc has found new peace and strength through Jesus
nice reading Eidemiller's Doc
again – as much as I liked #7 Bronze-Tempered Steel on its own merits, it just wasn't the same. I think it may be that
Barry Ottey tried just a bit too hard to duplicate Eidemiller's
style, and it came off feeling somewhat forced. There's just a
natural flow in this and Eidemiller's own stories that is missing
In any case, that just-previous tale is definitively incorporated as
part of the saga when we find Kal and Lois still in Doc's world, having remained long enough to help establish the journalism department at
Clark Savage Institute and witness the birth of Doc's and Bonnie's
children before returning to their own universe. Of course, their existence as more than fictional characters, unknown to the wider world,
gives Monk the perfect opportunity to get in a slyly ironic put-down
on the overly aggressive DA questioning him regarding Doc's
activities in the Crime College. I guffawed right along with him at
continues to widen the world of The
to encompass other figures from popular culture as well as our
reality – including a very familiar head of the New York City Crime
Lab, the ancestor of one of Dr. McCoy's 23rd-century associates in
the Sickbay of the Enterprise,
and the First Family of the United States. The elder Bush in fact
knows Doc from way back. I could well have missed some such
crossovers – but I don't consider the familiar name of the New York
City Police Commissioner to be quite the same thing even though New
York is sometimes called “Gotham” ….
in all, this was another enjoyable read. I'm already a bit
disappointed that at this point I have only one more installment in
“The Christian Adventures of Doc Savage” left to read. I hope
the tenth, listed as “Bronze
Shaped as Clay”
on the story download page linked at the top of this post, isn't too
long in coming. And in the meantime, once I've read #9 Bronze
there is Eidemiller's first professionally published book, As Iron Sharpens Iron, which has
been sitting in my Kindle library for months now.
I think I'm going
to be doing more and more of these “catch-all” comics entries....
of Super-Heroes #1 and #2 of 6 (IDW, Oct-Nov 2011)
Two of my favorite
all-time franchises together for the first time! How could I not
buy into this? Unfortunately, as good as Chris Roberson is in
nailing the characters from both worlds, as of the end of issue #2 he
hasn't yet brought them together! I mean, that's what we all
want to see, right?
Legion Abstract's review for #1. I'm a bit disappointed that I
received Gabriel Rodriguez's alternate cover from my mail order source
rather than Phil Jimenez's main cover. So I'm departing from my
usual practice and posting what I wish I'd gotten rather than
what I did get.
his review for #2. At least this second issue does bring the two
sets of characters into close proximity to one another.
Really, there's not
a whole lot I can add to what's in those review/commentaries. I
think it's going to end up being an enjoyable story that has little
relevance for the main Legion continuity (whatever that is!).
Origin #1 and #2 of 6 (Dec 2011-Jan 2012)
Well, it's another
retelling of the origin of the Legion. We all know the story, right?
How three 31st-century youths travelling to Earth on a starliner thwart a plot to
assassinate wealthy industrialist R. J. Brande, who sees the
potential that exists in their unique (sort of) abilities to create a
force for good in the universe. They take as their inspiration/model that of Superboy a thousand years in the past, during the earlier "Age of Heroes." Of course, we're going to find out
that there is more to it than that. Behind the scenes political
machinations by a mysterious triumvirate who have a mysterious
relationship to Brande ….
to say about #1, “From the Wreckage,” and this
to say about #2, “Target.”
Levitz. It's Legion. It's good. 'Nuff said. Well, not quite. I
do have some nit-picks. I wish they'd left the original
Legionnaires' costumes as they originally were – particularly
Lightning Lad's. It was just so goofy. What was that poofy belt, anyway? Sure, this one's sleeker,
but.... And Saturn Girl's – bring back the skirt! I hope that by
the end of this series we'll have a definite answer as to how (if?)
Superboy/man and Supergirl fit into the newest Legion continuity.
That is probably the single biggest question that can, in my opinion,
make or break a version of the Legion. Supposedly there is some kind
of connection, per comments by Grant Morrison (and allegedly to be
seen early in the new Action Comics).
What's going to be Levitz's spin on it?
Marvel's foray into
neopulp comes to an end, at least for now. It's been very good. In
this final issue we see some of the hell that The Operative went
through as the son of The General, and their final confrontation once
The Operative has gathered the group back together for one last
chance to save the kidnapped children from being sacrificed. Sadly,
among those they save they do not find the Lindbergh baby. Also
sadly, taking down Nox takes all the energy that Achilles had
collected, holding nothing back for himself. There is strong hint
that the four surviving Mystery Men – The Operative, The Revenant,
The Aviatrix, and The Surgeon (who clutches Achilles' power-giving
amulet behind his back) – are to continue their fight. Unbeknownst
to them, Nox in human form does return his child to Charles Lindbergh
– but that must remain secret. It is enough to buy his support for
her allies … in Germany … in the person of Baron Zemo …. “The
End?” I hope not.
I continue to enjoy this telling of the story of a hundred thousand years in the past of
John Carter's Mars. Pieces continue to fall into place to create the
world that we know from Burroughs' books. Like most middle issues of
a series, it's more setup than anything else, but good. See a review
I have got to start
streamlining these blog entries. And the fact is that I'm so far
behind that there are usually multiple excellent synopses/reviews
already out there – sometimes for a couple months before I ever get
around to it. So I'm going to just start linking to those and adding
a couple of comments of my own.
An excellent site
for commentary and analysis of everything Legion is LegionAbstract by one Matthew E[lmsley, I believe]. His write-up
of this issue can be found here.
I really don't have
much to add. Another excellent issue in the series that seems to be
least affected by the Relaunch. Good story, excellent art. I do
like how, rather than a pin-up style cover, we actually get a
different angle on a scene directly from the issue – and by the
interior artist, Francis Portela, to boot.
From Flashpoint #5 and this issue
Story-wise, we continue
to get direct reference to the Flashpoint Event in these pages, and
coming in close conjunction with the “new” character of Glorith,
I don't think it's any coincidence that she looks very similar to the
DC New 52 Mystery Woman that appeared in Flashpoint #5 and all
of the New 52 #1's. (Thatspeculation is not original to me, by the way.) Shady seems
truly heartbroken over Earth Man's demise, which is touched on again
here. Must be some continuing plot point to be drawn out from this.
It's what Levitz does best – multiple threads weaving in and out of
a magnificent tapestry. Earth Man's holo-tombstone sums him up: “A
Life of Contradiction. A Hero's Death.”
A good review is
here: SimplySuperman-Batman. Dick finds out he's inheriting Haly's Circus
from the dying owner – and in short order has a fling with one of
his new employees, a red-head (reminds him of who?) that he grew up
with in the circus. Like mentor, like … mentee? More gratuitous
sex in Gotham. We also find out that the dying Mr. Haly had long ago
recognized little Dick Grayson in the Boy Wonder's moves … but by
issue's end he has spilled the beans on Dick's identity to the
villain (under torture, to be sure), and used his last breath to tell Dick that it's all about some secret “in the
heart” of the circus. Higgins cowrote Gates of Gotham with
Scott Snyder, and also continues to base his stories on the history of these characters and their world(s). I like it. “Next Issue: On the Road Again.”
“In the Dark,
part two: Dark Matter”
See here for a good
review: ComicBook and Movie Reviews. This continues to be a beautiful book.
I am amazed by the art – and the fact that I've never heard of
Mikel Janin before now. His style fits so well. The story's good
too, continuing to mix the growing threat of the Enchantress with
deep character moments – such as really getting at how creepy
Deadman's power plus his natural desire to consummate his new-found
love with Dawn really is! And the end was a twist that I didn't see
coming – the threat of the Enchantress seems to really be
instigated by none other than Madame Xanadu! “Next: Things Get
Worse.” I bet they do.
Christmas break. The semester ended last week. Unfortunately, this
“break” is always busy in and of itself, so I'm not sure how much
blogging I'll get done. I'm so far behind where I'm actually reading
I don't know if I'll ever catch up. All I can do is start
“I could say that
I'll sleep better, but that's a lie”
Selina goes from
her … liaison … with Batman directly to steal a Russian
painting, solely to maneuver the mobster whom she beat and performed
an “oculectomy” on last issue – she didn't kill him – into a
situation where rival gangs would finish the job of killing him for
her. Unfortunately, in so doing, she has drawn attention to
herself on the part of one Louis Ferryman, “some call me Bone” –
who now finds the “irritating woman who dresses like a cat and
steals from [him]” and has her beat pretty thoroughly –
right after she finds her fence Lola tied to a chair with a bullet
through her head. “Next: Caught!”
I've got to say,
the image of barely-clad Selina draped across an all-but-shirtless
but still-cowled Batman – whose trousers clearly are pushed down
around his hips – that's an image I could do without in a
mainstream DC Bat-title. I mean, come on. Yes, it's clearly rated
“T+” on the cover, but it's a Batman title. Call me an
old prude, but I think it's a bit inappropriate. Also call me a bit
of a hypocrite, because I'm continuing to buy this title – I'm well
of age and an obsessive-compulsive completist when it comes to
Batman, but there is a definite streak of sex and violence
pervading much of the New 52 to the point of being over the top, with
this title being a prime example.
“Trouble in Mind”
We meet the New 52
Katana. I don't know enough about the previous incarnation to be
able to tell how much of a change we have here. “Psycho Sword
Chick” is how Starling terms her. We get some clues about how the
guy's head blew up at the end of #2 – in a prototype stroke
medication that works to reconnect neural pathways “in tandem with
certain words and phrases” which undoubtedly were delivered to him
via the cell-phone he answered right before the big bang. Canary,
Starling, and Katana investigate a lab that may be targeted for theft
of a supply of the drug – and run into the high-tech armored thugs
they previously confronted.
Starling captures one, then Poison Ivy
shows up, dressed quite fetchingly in what looks to be her fall
colors. Starling seems to have a hostile history with this “freaking
monster,” and is surprised for the second time this issue at the
new teammates Canary has called into the new Birds. “Next: Primed
I have to say –
for a brand new character, Starling has sprung into being so fully
developed that it's like she's an old character. I like! I
think I commented last time that she carries over a good bit of the
sass factor that used to be filled by the sadly missing Lady
Blackhawk. I really really really want to know more about her
After a couple
pages' glimpse at the new Mount Olympus, as a very queenly and very
put-out Hera along with a very punky-looking Strife observe Diana,
the new girl, and a gravely injured Hermes in a skrying bowl, we go
to the latter arriving at Paradise Island and meeting a blonde
Queen Hippolyta. This is a deep call-back to the Silver Age –
the queen has been raven-haired like her daughter ever since the
post-Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot by George Perez. As
Hippolyta warns her daughter of the dire consequences that might
attend her “sid[ing] with Zeus rather than his wife scorned”
(which Diana doesn't see in those terms anyway), Hermes tells the new
girl the legend of Diana's creation – the traditional fashioning
from clay. “Wonder Woman is the perfect Amazon – no male
seed created her.” Well, by issue's end we find that may not be
true. Pretty soon thereafter, as Diana and one Aleka (who seems to
be the New 52 version of Artemis) spar, a giant-sized Strife attacks
Paradise Island. Chaos ensues as she inspires the Amazons to fight
among themselves. But she declares, “I COME IN PEACE. … ALL I
WISH FOR IS TO EMBRACE MY LITTLE SISTER.” “You assume the
mortal carries a girl child?” Diana retorts. “HA... I HAVE NO
IDEA WHAT FATHER HAS LEFT CRAWLING IN HER WOMB. … NO,
WONDER WOMAN... I SPEAK OF YOU.” And Hera doesn't look at
all pleased. Looks like Diana's big enemy in this new series won't
be Ares – or maybe it still will be. Fraternal and filial peace
and brotherhood weren't really all that much a theme of the Greek
myths anyway. “Next: Ancient and Untrue.”
Why do the gods
keep referring to her as “Wonder Woman”? Seems to me they would
refer to her by her given name – Roman though it might be when they
are all called by Greek names. The revelation of what may be her
true parentage caused quite a stir on the Internet when this issue
was released. Assuming it's the case, I can't say it's an unwelcome
change to me. I think it carries all kinds of story possibilities –
not that they would be original, but intrinsically more interesting
than her origin as a lump of clay. Just my opinion.