You are complicit in terrorism in Tom King’s perfect The Omega Men debut

screen shot 2015-06-03 at 3.24.25 pm

Unlike almost any other form of media, comics force the consumer to take an active role in consumption. You dictate the pace. You can linger over panels, taking in detail after detail or you can run right through, turning each issue into a breakneck blockbuster. You know how characters sound and you think you know how they act. Maybe you have a headcanon for them. Maybe you ship characters. You’re a part of their world. You’re overseeing it. You’re an inactive God.

In the last few years, many creators have started to interrogate that relationship and in 2014 and 2015, readers have really been forced to confront their relationship with the comics they consume. More than almost any other book, Grant Morrison’s magnum opus, The Multiversity, is all about the act of creation and destruction that readers bring to every book they open and close. It’s about the life you give to characters in the books you read and the things they put in your head as a result. The Multiversity, however, is more of a thought exercise than anything else. It’s the meal you chew on all day. Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda’s The Omega Men is the gut punch that makes you throw up your lunch.

4557688-1

Drawing on his background in the CIA working with counter-terror operations, King places readers in an unfamiliar situation from the debut which almost acts as a counterpoint to Star Wars, Green Lantern or Guardians of the Galaxy. In The Omega Men #1, we don’t follow the scrappy rebels fighting an all-knowing empire. We’re with soldiers desperately trying to save lives from a terrorist group who has taken a hostage and plans to kill many more. Your relationship with the protagonist is complicated before they make their first appearance and that’s before you know their trump card, imprisoning upstanding former Green Lantern Kyle Rayner in their hold.

Omega-Men-1-002-1024x576

Everything that happens in The Omega Men #1 is intended to make you, the reader, feel ill at ease. Tigorr indiscriminately murders his way through a Citadel hit squad. Scrapps brutally guns down those in her way, sending as much of a message to her enemies as she does to the innocents who meet her gaze. More importantly, however, Bagenda utilizes a traditional nine-panel layout to evoke familiarity that is constantly disrupted by the protagonists.  Every panel is meant to make you feel comfortable, safe with the actions of the Citadel right up until the moment Tigorr enters the scene. It’s a turning point in that first issue and it asks an important and defining question of the reader: who do you sympathize with?

See, that question sits squarely at the center of The Omega Men #2 and it acts as something of a thesis statement for the relationship between Primus and Kyle but also about the relationship between the readers and the protagonists. Primus knows what he’s doing. He’s going to try to break the stranglehold the Citadel holds by any means necessary but he’s accustomed to fighting a war by inches and he harbors no illusions about what he and the Omega Men are capable of. He knows he’s not a hero and he’s realistic about what he has to accomplish to take the fight to the oppressors.

tumblr_nqtyg2KDeV1sicjr5o1_1280

King’s treatment of Kyle Rayner is some of the best since the New 52 launched and he uses that understanding to heartbreaking effect as a counterpoint to Primus objectivity. More than any of his fellow Lanterns, Kyle is a dreamer, someone who believes in the impossible and the best that every person is capable of. Making him a powerless hostage and bargaining chip in the Omega Men’s fight is the right way to take away agency from a character in an effective and illuminating way. Kyle wants to save people but, for now, he can’t and he realizes that he’s complicit in whatever Primus and the others do in pursuit of a better world. Kyle’s vastly in a similar position as the reader, powerless to impact what happens but, ultimately, forced to watch the death and destruction unfold around him.

The Omega Men #2 climaxes with a moment of abject despair which serves to crystalize the relationship between Kyle and the reader as both watch helplessly as the Omega Men leave hundreds of people to die. In any other comic, it’s a moment where the superheroes would swoop in, lay their lives on the line to save the unjustly imprisoned. In The Omega Men, it’s a toll in blood Primus more than willingly pays so he can steal a space ship. You watch, unable to act, unable to move and hoping only to hold onto what’s important as those with the most power do the least good.

tumblr_nr3syeJueG1rxsczro1_1280

On the final page of The Omega Men #2 (showcased above), Kyle tries to hold onto the only morality he thinks he can, blending blood from a recent wound onto his captors’ symbol to form a source of comfort he no longer knows if he has earned. It’s a scene that shows the book’s themes in microcosm. How long can you hold on to what you value when you fail to act? Is it enough for the righteous to simply play witness to atrocity? There’s no easy answer in Kyle’s action and readers should be left to ponder the answers for themselves but it’s certainly some of the headiest questions asked by a comic this year. Let’s hope that this is a book that can keep asking these kind of tough questions for a long time to come.

Advertisements

“There is no problem that can’t be solved” – The road to SECRET WARS begins here

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.58.35 PM

“Everything dies.”

It’s a mantra that’s popped up for the last two years, spoken by Reed Richards to the Illuminati in Jonathan Hickman’s “New Avengers.” The slow dissolution of multiverse has been the impetus for widespread destruction and the desperation that seems to be the crux of the ongoing “Time Runs Out” storyline which seems to form the basis for this summer’s “Secret Wars” event. Marvel has been pushing Secret Wars as the event where everything changes for months now, first with an impressive array of alternate universe one-pagers and with a barrage of information on creator and editor’s social media pages.

Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has said the genesis for Secret Wars is in Hickman’s much vaunted Fantastic Four run and within the series’ large scale cosmic focus lies a series of hidden clues and hints about the direction of the Marvel Universe and the seeds of this summer’s upcoming event.

With that in mInd, it’s time to go back where it all started with a look back at Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four, what it has set up, the occasional hints in SHIELD and Secret Warriors, his Avengers and New Avengers run, the beginnings of creation in Infinity and how everything could lead to Battleworld. In this installment, it’s time to take a look at Hickman’s first major Marvel work, the “Fantastic Four: Dark Reign” miniseries.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 8.21.35 PM

Let’s go back to the end of 2008. In the wake of Brian Michael Bendis’ less than stellar Secret Invasion, the seemingly reformed Norman Osborne had won the respect of New York and the president by fending off the invasion of the Skrull Queen and been crowned head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unable to resist the man he has always been, Osborne assembles The Cabal, a group of villains who will aid him in controlling national policy. While he attempts to keep his new peacekeeping agency, H.A.M.M.E.R., on the straight and narrow, Osborne secretly harbors a hit-list of heroes he wants dead and buried and with the backing of the world, he’s ready to do it.

Osborne’s motivations and actions will change throughout Dark Reign and will eventually bring him to disaster in Siege but for now, he’s unbeatable. In the beginning of Fantastic Four: Dark Reign, he’s moving on the Baxter Building, ready to preemptively take Reed Richards out of the picture. Unfortunately, Reed has already started on a path of self-obsession and discovery which will change the Marvel Universe and define his character moving forward. And it all starts with the Bridge.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 8.32.45 PM

The Bridge, like the Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill before it, becomes the defining artifact of Reed Richards as Hickman’s run carries on but for now, it’s almost solely a plot device. It’s worth noting that Reed’s newest invention is little more than a manifestation of his own guilt at this point. After tampering with the world for so long, Reed wants to know if the machinations of the Illuminati, their meddling with the Beyonder and the group’s dealings with the Skrulls which lead to Secret Invasion could have been prevented and if so, were they handled differently on another Earth.

Hickman’s focus in this five-issue miniseries is somewhat split. He’s writing Valeria and Franklin as something of comic relief characters. While the First Family is away, the siblings dress up and goof off, initially oblivious to the arrival of H.A.M.M.E.R. before stepping up later. In the series B-Plot, Sue, Ben and Johnny hop through alternate realities and pick up members of the family from across dimensions as they’re dragged along by The Bridge. It’s all fun and funnier than it has any right to be.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 10.00.32 PM

The real meat of Dark Reign: Fantastic Four, and really the only characterization important going forward is Reed’s actions. Becoming more and more exasperated as he sees the commonalities across dimensions, Reed becomes obsessed with his own place in the dimensional order. Across the surveyed realities, he sees that he alone is the common denominator when searching for peace and he’s ready to discover how and why. By series end, when Osborne has been sent packing after taking a bullet from a trigger happy Franklin, Reed refuses to break down The Bridge and rebuilds it in a secret room of his lab. It’s a defining moment moving forward and certainly one open for debate. How much does Sue know about Reed’s obsession with what he has been across dimensions and what he can do? Reed’s narcissism and focus on himself is a recurring trope in the series and one that will appear time and time again, particularly in the form of those soon to be revealed glowing figures just on the other side of the screen.

Next Up: Who exactly are those people appearing in the Bridge? What do they want and what are they doing? It’s time to jump into Fantastic Four #570.

The First Annual Vulcan Quiche Awards: Part 3

tumblr_m957mw3vCa1qij8o7o1_1280

With the Big Two focused on massive crossovers and building up their revamped universes, the fine tradition of the mini-series or one-shot seemed to be forgotten in 2012, Luckily, there were still some fine writers and artists to give those quick, powerful stories more than their due.

The Shorties  – Saluting excellence in a limited series or one-shot.

Fifth PlaceAxeCop_16Axe Cop: President of the World

The Axe Cop stories have always been a gleeful celebration of what comics can be. There’s little devotion to story, characterization or coherence but the pure spectacle and reckless creative abandon are always a joy to behold.

Fourth Placetumblr_m7fe1hTz1c1qky2i3o1_1280Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre

Amanda Conner and Darwyn Cooke paired the exoticism, drug culture and empty philosophies of the ’60s with the painful mother/daughter dynamic that defined the Spectre to create one of the best books of the controversial series. It’s a book more open to experimentation than any of the other Before Watchmen titles and more importantly, strayed far enough from the source material to give an important new look at defining a life through pain, crime and failure.

Third PlacehappyHappy

Grant Morrison seemed to be going in a bizarre new direction in his story about a hitman who suddenly starts seeing and talking to a blue cartoon horse but it’s still filled with the same sort of bizarre metatextuality the writer brings to much of his work. It’s a bloody, violent, occasionally revolting piece of entertainment but it never makes readers forget about the genius who’s pulling the strings.

Second Placexlarge_d7e937b38e36dd9b2e1b39aaf536375dSpaceman

Film noir meets “Waterworld” meets “A Clockwork Orange” and so much more in Brian Azzarello and Edward Risso’s excellent meditation on the future, reality television, identity, guilt and celebrity culture. Risso’s exceptional cartoony, expressive art sets a dingy tone for a world that reached for the stars only to be burned upon arrival. Spaceman is about how the hopes of an individual are crushed by reality in a story which watches as the past and the present are ground down by the choices we’re forced into.

And the Shorty goes to…leagueLeague of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Century: 2009

What does it mean to fail? What does it mean to be a hero when the world has long since passed you by? Who are you when the people you loved are gone? Alan Moore’s brilliant final chapter of the League’s adventures asks all of these questions of its three protagonists, the immortal gender swapping Orlando, the sectioned vampire Mina Harker and the heroin addicted homeless adventurer Alan Quartermain. The final chapter sees the heroes at their lowest as Prospero asks them to avert the Apocalypse that they’ve already failed to stop. The end is coming. There’s nothing left to do. It’s in that condition that Orlando, Mina and eventually Alan’s actions shine all the brighter as the League has one last chance to keep the darkness at bay and maybe be the heroes the world has always wanted them to be.

Next Up: We’re getting to the biggest awards of the year. Star crossed lovers, mercenaries, killers, companies, schools and scientists are all competing for the title of best series of the year.

Episode 38 – “Journey to Babel” and all the hobgoblins are bleeding green

“Journey to Babel” is an episode that’s considerably more interesting when looking at it as a piece of the Star Trek universe than as an individual episode in its own right. There’s some neat world building here, with hints of the Federation’s policy on accepting new planets, but the big gain is the introduction of Sarek, one of the Federation’s greatest heroes and a legend on Vulcan.

Also, he’s Spock’s dad.

The episode really blows that load a little early with an attempt at raising tension when Sarek and Amanda enter the Enterprise and we never really get much of a sense as to why Spock and his father are at odds. Sarek makes a reference to his son’s refusal to enter the Vulcan Science Academy but he’s working as an Ambassador for Vulcan and a valued member of the Federation. It doesn’t seem like he’s done too much to differentiate himself either.

In all honesty, the plot is pretty inconsequential and aimless. On a mission of diplomacy for a planet that wishes to join the Federation, one of the ambassadors is murdered and all evidence points to Sarek. Strangely, everyone pretty much forgets about this fact when the Vulcan diplomat has a really convenient heart attack and the episode suddenly becomes about a really trite situation where Spock may have to let his father die.

It all feels a bit too much like a mix between an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” and an afterschool special. We all know that Spock is going to be able to save his dad and somehow the ship will be able to defeat the Andorian ship but it just feels like we’re just waiting for Spock to go under the knife. I feel like this is the sort of episode that The Next Generation would have handled much better, milking the distrust between ambassadors for more tension than the drama between father and son.

This isn’t a bad episode but it is a dull and pretty dry one. The interesting parts are all skimmed by in order to give some overly touchy-feely exposition about Spock. If it weren’t for the host of colorful characters in the meeting room early on, this is an episode that would disappear from my memory in a week’s time.

Random Thoughts

I like that McCoy is given a lot to do in this episode. He’s operating, making sure that Kirk, Spock and Sarek all stay under his watchful eye and, what’s better, does it all with a smile. He even gets a fairly funny final joke to cap the episode off with.

Sulu’s nowhere to be seen. Instead, Chekov gets to say “wessel” several times.

In the scene where Kirk fights Teleth, he pretty clearly is stabbed in the lower back, right above the left side of his hip. Why then, does he continually touch around his nipples when indicating he is in pain? Also, the bandage is wrapped really high up on his torso.

So, Sarek’s kind of a huge dick to his wife, right?

Next Up: “Friday’s Child” draws the Enterprise into only their second meeting with the Klingons and I’ll get a song stuck in my head. Wait, which song were you thinking of?

Episode 32: “Mirror, Mirror” and the birth of a new genre convention.

I spent most of my write-up of “The Enemy Within” talking about the duality of man. It’s inevitable, an episode about Kirk facing down a character that both makes him who he is and also reflects the man he could, but hopes he will never be forces viewers to take a character an examine him from another angle. I wrote about that episode as someone who was just starting to write about television would. It’s overly dry and contains no jokes about bowel movements and not a single Veronica Mars/Caroline in the City reference. So, I guess I really have to do duality justice this time.

Oh yes, it's this one.

I guarantee you already knew the big twist of “Mirror, Mirror.” It’s the one where Spock has a beard. Before jumping in on this one, that’s all I knew about it and I kind of just assumed that it was about all this episode had to offer. There’s a mirror universe where everything is the opposite as how it originally is. Everyone sort of knows how this one goes, but I figured there was no real plot. Instead, “Mirror, Mirror” is the darkest that the original series has gotten and creates a brand new world that the larger Star Trek universe will return to again and again.

It's not quite "Live long and prosper."

While negotiating to mine dilithium crystals from Halkan, Kirk comes up against a leader who refuses any interference from the federation. Kirk relents, and the Halkan leader knows that he planet cannot withstand an attack from the federation and respects the captain’s decision to leave his planet in peace. As an ion storm grows, Kirk orders that Spock beam up the landing party of Scotty, McCoy and Uhura so that they can pull out of orbit. As they start to arrive in their Enterprise, they flicker before appearing in a darker, subtly more authoritarian Enterprise, led by a bearded commanding Spock.

One of the few scene's where Kirk's smarmy do-gooder actually felt appropriate.

Sure, the big moments are really noticeable, like the holy-shit-Spock-has-a-beard one and the holy-shit-Spock-is-torturing-a-guy but the little things were what struck me powerfully and immediately. The whole Enterprise is so much darker, both aesthetically and actual lighting wise. While there were once bright lights complimenting the colored uniforms, but the low lighting and more decorated but muted tones of the costumes as well as the general décor around the ship help set up a world where honor and action aren’t valued for themselves but are valued solely for their opportunity to provide people with another chance to move up in the world. This is explored before a single line of dialogue is uttered or the mirror universe is explored.

Kirk is so dangerous he doesn't need sleeves.

Exploring the mirror universe is done perfectly as well by just tossing our characters into the fray with no real help. The moment where Kirk and company are in the medical bay are great because no one is on stable footing, They know they are in over their heads and they have to figure out what is best. There’s no good answer and they know that they pretty much just have to go with what they have. It makes viewers feel as lost as the characters are and its good for a change. When characters are in danger and we not only feel that danger but understand why it’s happening, it’s a moment that viewers can actually connect to.

The team decides that the best they can do is blend into the crew as much as they can and try to figure out what has happened to them and how they can get back to their Enterprise. Kirk finds himself facing down the cutthroat efforts of his crew and the way that punishment is meted out on the ship he doesn’t know that he wants to run. Meanwhile, Uhura is finding herself hit on by the much more powerful Sulu, now the security captain as well as apparently still the helmsman. McCoy and Scotty team up to figure out what’s going on in the engine room and see if they can figure out what had happened to get them here while coming up against Sulu’s restrictions on the ship.

The fact that Chekov's wig makes him look crazy actually helps in this episode.

It’s a bit much at times and it’s pretty ambitious for the show to have so many things happening at once and at times it feels a little bloated, with the aside at the Enterprise slowing things down at some point, but for the most part keeping all the balls up in the air. The plot starts to congeal when Kirk denies the Empire’s request to attack Halkan while giving them an ultimatum that he knows that the leaders won’t answer. He’s biding his time and it’s Chekov’s attack on him that starts to drive the more delicate plot of the episode home. Kirk knows that Spock is gunning for him just as much as everyone else and he’s learning that there’s not a lot of time to figure out what he needs to do.

In the mirror universe, Sulu actually wants this.

Just as McCoy and Scotty start to figure things out, Kirk has to deal with what appears to be his confidante, Marlena Moreau, who seems to be using him to keep her moving up in the ranks as well as someone who knows the secrets. Her hunt for power makes her compelling and her use of the Tantalus Field appears to be one of the ways that Kirk has managed to stay ahead of all the assassinations that have been coming his way since he has become one of the finest commanders in the Empire. She’s dangerous and it seems that Kirk fears what she would do to him if he fails. Meanwhile, Spock calls up the Captain to warn him of an ultimatum from command, ordering him to assassinate his commanding officer if an example is not made out of Halkan. To complicate matters even a little further, the rest of the landing party has figured out that they have almost no time to get off the ship before the rift caused by the ion storm will permanently tear the parallel universes from their brief contact.

When I think of girls who Kirk would like, this immediately springs to mind.

Kirk and his crew decide they need to take command of the transporter and they should be able to make the jump over to their Enterprise while transporting their mirror counterparts over to their universe. Uhura tries to seduce Sulu while McCoy and Scotty start to make moves to switch the transporter. Sulu misses the security transmission and eventually Uhura pushes him away drawing her knife and rushes out. Kirk fixes the transporter, but is caught by Spock and he takes Kirk to the Medical Bay to interrogate the rest of the original universe party. They start fighting and eventually they knock Spock out, putting him on the slab. Kirk struggles to leave the half-Vulcan behind and he allows McCoy to heal him. Moreau watches everything from the Tantalus Field and realizing that the man that she loves is a different man. When Sulu busts in to the room to take out both men and advance to the Captain’s chair, Moreau wipes out his men so Kirk can escape.

It features the most dangerous knob in the universe.

The episode climaxes at the transporter room with Spock catching the rest of the crew. Kirk gives him the chance to change everything, admitting that while one man can’t change history, he can set the wheels in motion to change the Empire. It’s clear that this is the turn of the episode that has always been beneath the Machiavellian surface of the episode. This mirror universe isn’t one where people are innately different than the people that exist in the universe we are familiar with; it’s one where the choices of other men have dominated lives. Spock, being a character that has to logically act within the limits of the Empire, has become a brutal leader that knows what he has to do to survive on the Enterprise. Now, his contact with Kirk has given him a chance to see the bigger picture and the way that the Empire’s action may not work as logically as it should. When he says, “I will consider it,” we know that it is something that will happen. This is something that Spock has to do and he will do his best. Like most of the rest of the episode, we don’t know what’s going to happen to him or what will happen in the future, but we know there is a chance for greatness.

On the bridge of our Enterprise, Spock speaks on how the crew detected their mirror universe counterparts and how the other sides was a whole different experience for the rest of the crew, and of course, because we always need a sort of bizarre comic relief moment on the bridge, this universe’s Moreau walks in as a new science officer and Kirk immediately hits on her. It’s hilarious.

But really, “Mirror, Mirror” is one of the most legitimately exciting and fun episodes of the series. That moment where Moreau watches over the crew treating Spock and fingers the Tantalus Device, I audibly let out an “Oh, no,” like I was watching Breaking Bad. The rest of the episode has characters walking on razor’s edge and we can feel it, even on a show that has always had a sort of Saturday Morning-cartoon version of characters floating through space. This is one of the first episodes that shows that this is something much more than a philosophical kid’s show, but can be the face that launches a thousand space ships.

Random Thoughts

“I’m a doctor, not an engineer!”

“I submit to you that your Empire is illogical because it cannot endure. I submit that you are illogical to be a willing part of it.”

I adore that it took turning Sulu into a secret service agent is what it took to give George Takei a showcase. And he 100 percent rocks it.

“I’m not sure, but I think we’ve been insulted.” “I’m sure.”

Next Up: “The Apple” and it’s an allegory episode and I’m sure it’s going to be no good.

Episode 28- “Operation – Anihilate!” and coming full circle

Episode 28- “Operation – Annihilate!” and coming full circle

Since this project started almost a year ago, I’ve gotten into other corners of the science fiction universe. I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, jumped into the remake of Dr. Who, nearly finished Battlestar Galactica and continue watching and rewatching The X-Files until there is quite literally nothing new left to explore. Delving into cult shows is a thrill, it’s both exciting and difficult, having to adapt to different rhythms and figure out the voice that the showrunners are trying to portray. Many cult shows, Star Trek included, get off to a rough start and that’s what we love about them. It feels like those who persevere are the only ones that are privy to the light at the end of the tunnel.

So, it’s a little fitting that we complete the journey with “Operation – Annihilate!” If the first season of Star Trek were made today, “The City on the Edge of Forever” would have almost certainly been the season finale, but instead we get a tossed off monster of the week episode, for lack of a better word. That being said, it’s kind of fun, but to me this is an episode that demonstrates perfectly what it’s like to become a devotee to a show that I would never have cared about one year ago.

The Enterprise approaches the planet of Deneva and after failing to make contact with the planet’s inhabitants, Kirk grows concerned. His brother, Sam, and his family is on the planet but before he can start with the rash decision making he enjoys so much, Spock informs him of a rash of space insanity that has been crossing through the area and seems to have the planet in it’s path. Suddenly a ship flies by and before Kirk can intercept it, the craft flies into the sun, leaving behind only cryptic words on how it’s pilot is finally free.

Kirk decides to investigate and organizes a landing party to check out the planet. After being attacked by those who are infected with the space madness, they eventually find Kirk’s brother. Because the producer’s thought we wouldn’t apparently buy into Jim’s brother not looking exactly the same, he is played by Shatner wearing a fake moustache. I wish I were joking.

Sam’s dead and Aurelan, his wife, is in great pain. She explains to Kirk that something has been trying to get into the barricaded room and has already attacked her. She explains that these creatures are ordering everyone they sting to help them to build a space ship so they can leave the planet and continue to infect other systems with their space madness. She dies and the rest of the landing party searches the area to find the creatures, eventually locating them in an abandoned hanger. Made of what appears to be coagulated Jell-O and pancake batter, the aliens hang from the ceiling, buzz, and take extremely high amounts of phaser fire before acknowledging that they feel pain. The team collects a sample and leave, but Spock is stung by one of the creatures.

Lunch meat. Maybe lunch meat.

From here, it’s a pretty typical sci-fi story that I feel like the show has done in some manner before. McCoy figures out that the sting of the creatures implants some sort of impulse in the host, making them want to help out in the building and infecting them with RAGE. Spock breaks out of the sick bay and tries to take the ship back down to Deneva and after he is denied, he tries to procure a way down in the transporter. On Kirk’s orders, he’s stopped but when the captain shows up, Spock tells him that he is going down to collect samples. Since he’s already infected, Kirk says something along the lines of “hey, what’s the worst that could happen?”

So Spock goes back down to the planet and comes to the realization that the space goops are all essentially operating as a hive mind, all serving the greater purpose of space ship building and space madness effecting. Kirk thinks it all makes sense and so that’s just how it goes. McCoy’s efforts in the lab to kill the creatures continue to fail because no one puts two and two together with the whole ship flying into the sun thing, partially because they’ve got a whole hour to fucking kill.

Really, that’s the problem with the whole episode. We’ve got a situation that seems really odd and complicated but by just throwing all the clues together, one realizes that the sun is the key. Of course, it takes the crew a hell of a lot longer to figure that out, and by the time they test it out on Spock, they end up blinding him with ultraviolet light.

It's not a great episode, but we could have had to deal with this.

This leads to the McCoy and Spock moment you may or may not be waiting for. As the Enterprise starts putting up satellites to ray ultraviolet light on the planet and kill the rest of the aliens, Bones mourns his mistakes, saying that Spock was the best first officer that the ship could have had and wishing that he would have treated the Vulcan better, especially when he realizes that the test could have been conducted without blinding his partner.

Ultimately the creatures die, everyone stands around the bridge and Spock’s sight is cured because that’s what happens on this show. There’s some bit about Spock forgetting he had another set of eyelids or something which seems really cheap, but whatever. This has never been a show that inflicts episode-to-episode pain on its characters. They all smile, joke about how McCoy cared about Spock all along and plot a course to next season.

So, it’s a decent enough episode. The threat is pretty campy and the special effects with the monsters on strings are laughable at best, but it’s a lot of fun. I’ve said before that what makes Star Trek work isn’t the monsters or even the story. It’s the earnestness with which it is delivered. No one doubts that this all looks pretty terrible or that the two emotional punches of Kirk’s nephew or Spock going blind isn’t overkill but they just go with it. At this point, you either care about the characters enough to hang on or you don’t.

For me, that’s what’s made the whole show work. There’s an infinite universe and for all the audience cares, there’s just one ship floating around it, checking out all the strangest oddities the galaxy has to offer. It’s a universe built as needed and it works. Coming into Star Trek and looking for the coherency that has built a legion of fans is folly, because it was a universe that was constantly being built in. This wasn’t a show with a bible or a built in finale, but one where the audience was discovering it as the showrunners were. It’s a rare thrill on television and it is something that still connects with a jaded television viewer like myself.

So then, this is the end of the first season. When I originally started, I figured this would be where it all came to a close. Of course, I then ended up buying the rest of the series, all the movies on Blu-Ray, and the J.J. Abrams reboot. So, well, let’s keep going. I’m going to go straight on to season 2 and maybe take a short break for The Motion Picture and Wrath of Khan and try to fit the reboot in somewhere over the summer.

Something Different

I know there hasn’t been any Trek coverage for a while. It’s coming. In the mean time, I’ve been harassed for a while about putting some award nominated poetry up. Here you go, hungry masses.

 

Death And Other Distractions

Pull down your lower lip and look at your teeth.

It’s like a sideways curtain, opening to show a

row of kerosene dipped cotton balls, stained from

a cup of coffee in the morning and Diet Coke and

whiskey at night in front of the television.

The plaque is especially noticeable on your lower

canines, a half golden ring of shame.

Smile with your mouth half closed, expose your

crooked incisors to the apathetic movie attendant.

A pity you couldn’t have cared a little more.

And you’re only 20 fucking years old.

 

Take off your shirt and look at your navel,

The last outpost of your belly atop the hill

of stored fat that steeply declines to your hips.

Look at those six stretch marks, six pink

and purple roads, the product of Starbursts,

growing from squat to tall. From fat and

awkward to average and unassuming. Reason

not to swim, a reason not to work out.

And you’re only 20 fucking years old.

 

Take off your pants and look at your pubes.

Look at the humanity’s last line of defense

from shame, a veritable wall of dark trees,

an evolution of Adam’s leaf. Think of how

you see two on the bed after you fuck her,

the way the tail is gray and white and know

it’s a shame because she is not your girlfriend

or the girl in the library with the almond eyes

and know that you are already forgotten.

And you’re only 20 fucking years old.

 

Apartment Complex

The morning bells go off like

bullets breaking glass

 

spitting fear as the radio made of teeth alerts me

to news of cultural sodomy and that at 8,

the doctor and the animal will play the Friday Morning Fart Song.

 

The door is like ice, whistling as it

shatters and splinters into my hand.

Rooms smell like waste, incense and saffron,

neighbors want Asian, but don’t realize it

all just tastes like sand.

 

My bones feel like eating Cheerios sounds

and I crunch as the knob turns.

 

The top floor is Staraya, Russia by way of

Homer, I wade through

the snow and shattered shields to the stairs.

 

No, the sand. It’s all just fucking sand.

 

Doo do do do do doo do do do do do

do do do do doo whoododo

Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side,

I said hey sugar, take a walk on the wild side.

 

Words reverberate through the halls

spat by the bantery couple who argue everyday.

He’s easy to ignore for me

and his girlfriend, who sleeps

with my leper roommate,

 

whose arm falls off during sex

because he’s not wearing a condom.

 

On a fuzzy screen, a broadcaster, says

“Live TV is like sex, almost better

when everything goes wrong.”

 

Her smoky words of indifference

make my lungs sting and my heart hurt

 

like my sister, born in a Canton abortion clinic.

 

I sink through cracks in the floor, my body folds

Into the slivers of entropy and

I reassemble in front of a door,

 

Because Jack has no other choice

 

and I am ready to watch the cannibal girl sit in the kitchen while her parents will

masturbate in separate rooms,

until the moon changes to steel.

 

She eats nothing but meaty Skittles and weeps

 

Because she knows that everyone’s first

when all the line’s leaders are last.

 

As she laughs, I retreat

zum Ausgang, wo die Könige weinen Regel

and the door asks Are you ready?

There is nothing for you there.

Head shakes no,

Handle twists and

 

I step outside into the morning

where the moon is shining metallic.