Archive | February, 2009

Brainiac versus the Toyman

Here’s a piece of both comic-book trivia and IP trivia that I didn’t previously know: the DC character Brainiac – humanoid computer and frequent Superman antagonist – originally was just some green alien guy Brainiacand (despite his computer-sounding name) not a computer at all. But when the prior inventor of a toy computer likewise named Brainiac raised legal objections to the use of the name, DC and the inventor reached an imaginative win-win compromise: DC made their Brainiac more (rather than less) like the original they were accused of infringing – i.e., made him a computer – thus turning the character into an ad for the toy and so obviating the toymaker’s objections. The issue of Superman that inaugurated this compromise even parodied the rights dispute on its cover by having Brainiac and Lex Luthor debating which of them has a better right to kill Superman. Details here.

Conan the Avenger?

Behold, a script review of the new Conan movie. (Conical hat tip to AICN.) The reviewer seems to like it, but it doesn’t sound promising at all to me.

SPOILER ALERT: Because of a prophecy that a king will rise from the Cimmerians, the bad guys wipe out the entire Cimmerian people, leaving Conan as the sole surviving Cimmerian to track down the killers one by one for revenge. So it’s basically Kill Bill meets the Massacre of the Innocents.

Needless to say, this bears no resemblance to anything Robert E. Howard wrote; in the books Conan is happy to take revenge here and there for various things, but his main story arc is not one of revenge; and since Howard’s Cimmerians are supposed to be the ancestors of the historical Cimmerians, it makes no sense for them all to be wiped out.

In any case, the archetypal Conan image is not of the hero clanging his sword down on some fellow thug’s head as these screenwriters seem to think; it’s of the hero sneaking into an ancient, mysterious, exotic, ruined, vine-covered, demon-haunted temple to rob it. The whole lush atmosphere of Howard’s stories – the “shining kingdoms … spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars … Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery … Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold …” and “Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west” – has never come close to being captured in any movie version (whether for budgetary reasons, lack of imagination, or both), and this new script promises no improvement.

Savage Sword of Conan

The reviewer also expresses disdain for the comic-book versions of Conan; but actually most of those have been pretty good (the high points being Marvel’s 1970s series Savage Sword of Conan and the recent Dark Horse series), and far more faithful to the original than this forthcoming mish-mash.

Everybody Must Get Druidstoned

The Druid StoneDid you know that when there’s gloom in the gloaming, that’s when doom goes a-roaming? I recently dug up five chapters of a planned, but mercifully uncompleted, fantasy novel I was writing in high school. It was hopelessly derivative (my ringwraiths were called, um, ringlords), but hey, I was fifteen or thereabouts.

Feast your eyes on the deathless literary milestone that is Druidstone Quest: The Sword of the Highlands! 😮

Spectral Analysis

I bet newcomers to will be baffled as to why this piece (which excoriates Hollywood for its pro-communist propaganda, denounces left-wing thuggery, and soft-pedals right-wing thuggery) and this one (which excoriates Hollywood for its anti-communist propaganda, denounces right-wing thuggery, and soft-pedals left-wing thuggery) are both featured favourably on LRC today.

Well, you see, kiddies, once upon a time there was a man named Murray Rothbard ….

Higher Criticism

67 years ago today, the Japanese naval air force launched a bombing attack against Darwin. I guess Japan’s creationists are even more fervent than ours.

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