Hasslein Blog: August 2013


Hasslein Blog

Friday, August 30, 2013

New Web Series Coming Your Way: Sweethearts of the Galaxy

...starring the adorable Kit Quinn. Looks like fun!

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Star Wars and Me: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

by Rich Handley

I've recently returned to a galaxy far, far away—one I frequented with great enthusiasm a long, long time ago—and it feels good to come home again.

When I was nine years old, the first Star Wars film arrived in theaters, and I was mesmerized. The amazing effects! The cool characters! The "whooosh" sounds made by the ships dashing through space! And that cantina scene with all those wonderful alien masks! Wow!

OK, folks, keep in mind that I was nine at the time.

As I grew older, my appreciation for the Star Wars universe grew as well. The Empire Strikes Back came out when I was 12, and it's no exaggeration to say that my mind was blown. Vader cut off Luke's hand? And he's all bald and pasty inside his helmet? And wait, he's Luke's father? And Han Solo is frozen in a giant domino, making him stick out the front with a look of pain on his face? And that little green gnome is a Jedi Master? And Leia loves Han, not Luke? And it's ending with Han still frozen??

My brain repeatedly screamed out "OMG!" while viewing TESB, long before anyone actually ever used that annoying expression (which I still don't, thank you very much).

By the time Return of the Jedi debuted, I was 15 years old and not overly receptive to seeing cute teddy bears somehow defeating the same Empire that had previously subjugated a galaxy, blown up an entire planet and forced the Rebel forces at Hoth into a frantic retreat. And yet, despite this, I still greatly enjoyed the film, as the scenes in Jabba's court and in the Emperor's throne room more than made up for the cutesiness factor of the Ewoks.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Matthew Sunrich Presents... Detective Comics #425

By Matthew Sunrich

What is the connection between Batman and Shakespeare?

Those possessing even a passing familiarity with the Bard's oeuvre know that his plays fall into three categories: tragedy, comedy, and history. Of these, his tragedies are arguably the most recognizable, having been performed thousands of times in theaters across the globe, appearing in numerous film adaptations, and profoundly impacting pop culture. Hamlet and Macbeth are his two most well-known tragedies, and considering that they were penned by the same author, it's remarkable just how little they have in common.

Hamlet, in some respects, paved the way for all the plays that were to come after it; despite its medieval setting, the writing has a timeless quality that transcends milieu and examines the genre of theatre itself while simultaneously probing the human mind and teasing madness from its convolutions. Hamlet's insanity stems from his cowardice and the belief that he has no control over his own destiny. In his famous soliloquy, he considers taking his own life but ultimately balks when he realizes that what might lie on the "other side" could potentially be worse than his current situation.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 021—The Daleks' Master Plan

By T. Scott Edwards

If I'm honest – and I always try to be – this is the point in this experiment that I was dreading. The Daleks' Master Plan is an epic, 12-episode marathon, and a lot of it is written by Terry Nation. I could fall out with this serial at the mere thought. At the suggestion of a friend, this update will be split into three sections – episodes 1-6, episode 7, and episodes 8-12. The reasoning behind that will hopefully be clear.

For years, my only experience of this serial was by way of the Target novelisations – which are superb – by John Peel, splitting the story up over two books. I intend to do the same thing with this blog entry, dividing it down the middle. Wish me luck...

Sadly, only 3 episodes from this almightily epic serial exist, with a few short clips from some of the other episodes. Fortunately, the audio, with Peter Purves' narration, do exist and allow an idea of how this must've appeared. Episode 1 picks up where The Myth Makers ended, with the Doctor and Katarina nursing the ailing Steven, suffering from blood poisoning and on the edge of death thanks to an injury sustained during the burning of Troy. The main focus, however, is upon Bret Vyon and Kurt Gantry on the surface of the planet Kembel. Vyon is played magnificently by Nicholas Courtney, better known for his recurring role as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. As with Marc Cory in Mission to the Unknown, both SSS operatives are cool and crisp, delivering their lines with brisk efficiency. What is beautiful is that at no point does the pair directly reference the Daleks by name – there is the mention of "those things" and "they", but the Daleks are not name-checked yet. Instead, the audience is forced to remember the one-off serial which aired 5 weeks earlier.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Matthew Sunrich Presents... The Demon #6

By Matthew Sunrich

The most popular and best-remembered episode of the 1970s The Incredible Hulk television series was probably the two-part story called "The First."

In it, David Banner discovers that he was not, in fact, the first person to incur the curse of the Hulk. Under the care of one Dr. Jeffery Clive, a sickly man named Dell Frye underwent experimental treatments using gamma radiation and found himself changed into a similar monster. Unlike Banner's Hulk, Frye's was a murderous creature that took the lives of several people before Clive managed to cure him.

Unlike Banner himself, Frye liked the power that the transformation gave him, power that he used to get revenge on the men who had bullied him all his life, and wants to regain it. Banner finds the long-dead Clive's notes and attempts to free himself of his alter ego, but Frye interferes and becomes a Hulk once again. The two Hulks, of course, wind up fighting each other, but Banner's Hulk is far stronger, and Frye succumbs and then meets his end by way of a bullet fired from the sheriff's rifle.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Force Unto Himself: A Passionate Interview With Italian Star Wars Artist Filippo Rossi

by Abel G. Peña

Recently, I've been putting my trilingualism to good use, translating numerous rare, foreign Star Wars comics. Earlier this year, I translated Ewoks and Droids comics from the 1980s published exclusively in Spain. (You can download those here, and read my related thoughts about the mercurial nature of translation here.) Now, StarWars.com has published a piece I wrote on another all-but-unknown Star Wars comic, Il Potere della Forza ("The Power of the Force"), published almost fifteen years ago in Italy by the toymaker Hasbro.

While that translation wasn't too difficult (the story was intended for children), the interview with the fascinating original artist, Filippo Rossi, was a little more intense. An accomplished illustrator, Rossi is an immensely passionate Star Wars fan with deep roots in the saga and its Italian fandom.

What follows is the full text of the interview, originally conducted in Italian, with this fascinating Star Wars creator who always shoots from the hip.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Why the Star Wars Sequels Should Probably Ignore the Expanded Universe

by Rich Handley

With news of the upcoming Star Wars sequels slowly beginning to emerge in dribs and drabs, I've been seeing online fans debate whether or not Episodes VII to IX should be faithful to or ignore the many hundreds of novels, comic books, short stories and sourcebooks comprising the Expanded Universe. I've been giving it a lot of thought, and—much as it pains me to admit it—I'm not convinced that working all of that backstory into the new trilogy would be a good thing.

Let me explain why.

I'm a lifelong Star Wars fan, and for many years, I read every novel and comic as it came out (in recent years, I've not had the time, money or post-prequel interest to do so, to be honest). I've also written a lot of material for the licensed Star Wars universe, including short fiction and a ton of magazine and online source articles. So tossing out all of that backstory—which includes material I helped to create—is not something I do lightly.

But I've given it a lot of thought, and I don't see how it can be avoided.

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Matthew Sunrich Presents... Detective Comics #437

By Matthew Sunrich

"Who wears the Deathmask conquers all…all but the final conqueror."

Whether real or imagined, the berserker is one of the most fascinating concepts in the history of warfare.

The idea of a seemingly unstoppable warrior of unbridled ferocity, cutting a swath of destruction through an opposing army is undeniably bizarre. He fights like a man possessed, pays no mind to the myriad blades penetrating his flesh, is impervious to fatigue. Those who encounter him and live to tell the tale insist that he must be something other than human.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Now You Can Shag the Doctor

Presenting the Doctor Who TARDIS rug.

You're welcome.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

GUEST BLOG: 5 Non-Comic Book TV Shows That Comic Book Fans Love

By Ben Smith

Every now and again, there's a TV series that seems to grab the hearts and minds of comic book fans everywhere. Though they aren't specifically derived from any comic book property, something about them attracts comic book fans like shambling zombies to a fresh bowl of brains (I don't know why there would be a bowl full of brains, but cut me some slack, I really wanted to have the word shambling in here somehow). From big hits to cult classics, these projects apparently scratch that comic itch so well, that most of the time they actually become comic books as well. So my, dare I say, epic goal is to talk about 5 shows that comic book fans seem to always find themselves drawn towards, like a child actor to narcotics.

For the purposes of this discussion, Star Wars and Star Trek are not being considered. To say comic book fans like these is a little obvious, because everyone likes those properties. Similarly, Doctor Who is off the list, as it is another quintessential "geek" (calm down, I use the word lovingly) show (plus I refuse to ever watch Doctor Who).

Also, Transformers and G.I. Joe don't count, as I'm pretty sure they both existed as comic books before they were cartoons (and as toys before both of them, but now you're just giving me a hard time).

Finally, Heroes and shows of that nature will be skipped as well. Though they may not technically be based on any specific property (unless you want to count how much Heroes ripped off from the X-Men) they are based pretty heavily and intentionally on the superhero genre of comic books. (Also, Heroes sucked. I don't care how much it costs, you have to have Peter and Sylar face off in a superpowered slugfest at least once.)

With all the disclaimers out of the way, let's get started!

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Friday the 13th, Part 13: Jason Takes Handouts

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Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 020—The Myth Makers

By T. Scott Edwards

I have listened to the audio track for The Myth Makers before, and whilst it was entertaining enough, it was never one of my favourites. Watching the series in order from the start, however, one sees just how groundbreaking it is – Donald Cotton's writing is magnificent, and it is almost impossible not to fall in love with the serial; indeed, it may well be one of my favourites from the Hartnell era now. I got hold of the soundtrack to this in the same way that I got hold of them all – a friend, James, sent me them, and I devoured the whole lot, not necessarily in order, but without paying a great deal of attention to some. Whilst Marco Polo soaked me in completely from the first 2 minutes, The Myth Makers was rather more background music than absorbed entertainment. I gave an occasional chuckle, but that was all.

Despite not existing save for scant telesnaps, the occasional brief moments of low quality 8mm footage and the audio track, it is an absolute pleasure to 'watch'. Interestingly, almost all existing footage is of Maureen O'Brien – it would appear that whoever took the time to record this clearly felt passionately about Vicki's character! The wonderful costumes and sets really help to sell the production, too – what we can see of them, of course – John Wood's realisation of the Trojan horse is particularly spectacular, and the costumes are exceptionally splendid, realised wonderfully by Daphne Dare and Tony Pearce.

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