The Circus Master: Journey To The Centre of Evil: Part 9: The Death of the Rysteians

 

The Strange Boy couldn’t control his violent urges any longer. The Vampire had spent several life times fighting the Demon within him, but now thanks to the Kardons influence and the danger to his friends, he finally gave in.

Ashlei tried to hold the Vampire back, but it was no use. The Strange boy reached out to the nearest Rysteian that had cornered the two time travellers against a wall, and sunk his fangs into its neck.

The Rysteian tried to pull away, but when he did, he lost a massive chunk of flesh from his neck. The Rysteian collapsed dead in front of the terrified crowd who all backed away in fear.

The Strange Boy however leapt from Ashlei’s arms and stood in front of the crowd, snarling, roaring and spitting blood.

Keptis meanwhile after struggling free from the Rysteans who were holding him back, instantly froze when he saw the Strange Boy standing before the crowd.

The Martian much like the rest of the Circus Folk, knew virtually nothing about who the Strange Boy really was. How could he when the Vampire child never even spoke. Still even Keptis could see that it wasn’t the Strange Boy anymore. There was nothing but bloodlust and rage on the Demon child’s face.

The Strange Boy grabbed a nearby female Rysteian’s hand and sunk his fangs into her flesh. He bit so hard his teeth went straight through her bone, before tearing a massive amount of flesh and bone off.

The female collapsed from the bloodloss into her husbands arms. As several more Rysteians prepared to circle the Strange Boy however, the room suddenly began to shake.

Carlene meanwhile pushed the rubble off, and jumped to her feet, with the Rysteians who had surrounded her having been distracted by the commotion with the Strange Boy. Carlene quickly jumped over her former attackers to Keptis and grabbed the Martian, before jumping to the Strange Boy was.

Carlene and Keptis both tried to restrain the child, but it tossed them to either side before renewing its attack on the frightened Rysteians.

Kile meanwhile pushed her way past the other Rysteans and started to shoot at the Strange Boy. She was consumed with hatred for the Circus Folk to the point where she didn’t care about anything but making them pay. Even the Kardons hadn’t inspired such raw hatred in the Rysteian soldier as these strange visitors.

Kile fired relentlessly at the Vampire child, but it simply hopped towards her on both feet and slashed her gun in two. It then grabbed her by the arm, and before she could react hurled Kile to the floor. The Jiang Shi then jumped on Kile, pinning her to the ground and sunk its fangs deep into her throat. Carlene, aided by several more Rysteans was able to pull the young Vampire off of Kile. Again Carlene tried to restrain the Demon child, but he jumped out of her grasp and hopped across the room, with Keptis in pursuit.

Carlene meanwhile tended to Kile. Her wounds were fatal, but Carlene hoped she could make her last few moments comfortable. Even in her death throes however, Kile refused any help from the Circus Folk.

“I’m not falling for your tricks.” Kile said as she coughed up her own blood. “You’re disgusting, evil monsters” she managed to say before spitting her blood in Carlene’s face in a final act of spite.

Carlene froze for a second. The sensation of fresh blood, even of these creatures on her face was almost too much to bare, but she managed to compose herself and wipe the blood from her face.

She looked round at the other Rysteians, all of whom looked at her more in confusion than hatred or fear.

“Please” she said. “Don’t make te same mistake that Kile did, we’re all in this.” A gigantic tentacle suddenly came smashing through the wall and crushed several Rysteians. Carlene instantly ran to their aid, but the tentacle, almost sensing there was something special about Carlene wrapped itself around her. More tentacles came bursting through the floors and walls of the base, impaling and crushing more Rysteans along the way.

Carlene tried to break free, but the tentacle wrapped itself around her arms and started to tighten like a snake. The force it was applying would have been enough to snap a human body in half several times over.

Outside The Circus Master and Denika’s pod had been ensnared by one of the gigantic Demonic, Octopus like creatures mere seconds after leaving the base. Denika tried to blast it away with her magic, but the Demon was too strong and it started to crush the ship slowly.

As the walls and floor began to close in, Denika tried to push them back with her magic. The Circus Master tried to push them back with his strength too, but he soon realised that it would do no good and instead started to tear a hole in the floor.

The Circus Master swam underneath the ship and round onto the Octopus’ back, which he dug his talons into. The monster didn’t even flinch at first, but eventually it couldn’t take it anymore, as the Circus Master continued to slash and slash at the beast, tearing massive chunks out of its back in the process. The monster hurled the sub across the water and turned to face the tiny Vandal behind it. Its tentacles opened wide, completely surrounding the Circus Master. Fortunately however Denika quickly rammed the sub into the back of the Octopus creature, sending it hurling into the base.

The Circus Master then swam back into the ship, but just as Denika prepared to take it away, hordes of Ishica started to appear. Denika still plowed through them, using her magics to blast any of the unholy monsters that tried to grab onto the pod.

Just as she got free of the Ishica, several more Octopus like creatures started to emerge from the depths.

Denika froze in terror for a moment, with not even the Circus Master knowing what to do at first, Without any other options, Denika plowed into the Octopus that was advancing towards the two time travellers.

Denika’s gambit paid off as the Demon was caught completely off guard, and using the pod Denika smashed one of the giants into the one behind.

As the pod pulled clear however it was stopped in its tracks. Denika tried to move it with her magics, but the Circus Master knew it was pointless. All of the Demons outside had stopped, and that could mean only one thing.

Both the Circus Master and Denika looked up to see the hideous face of one of the Kardons that had caught their miniscule pod in its grasp.

On the inside of the base meanwhile several Ishica had broken their way in through the holes created by the giant Octopus creature. The Demons were hoping to snatch any last Rysteians they could before the Kardons arrived.

Keptis did his best to try and hold them off, as did other Rysteian men and women, but the monsters were too numerous, and even Keptis had no real means of holding them off.

The Strange Boy was at least initially more focused on attacking the Rysteians, but he soon got into a tussle with one of the Ishica that tried to restrain the child Vampire.

Ashlei meanwhile came to Carlene’s aid. She stabbed a large sharp piece of rubble through the tentacle that was wrapped around Carlene causing it to release her. Carlene then pulled several silver knives out of her beehive and hurled them at the 6 Ishica’s in the room’s hearts, killing them stone dead. She then pulled another piece of enchanted paper from her beehive to use against the Strange Boy. With Keptis and several more Rysteians help she was able to place it on the boy’s forehead, stopping him in his tracks.

Ashlei and several more Rysteians meanwhile tried to hold off the Demonic tentacles as best they could, but several more Rysteans were impaled and Ashlei herself was nearly struck down until Keptis managed to push her out of the way to safety.

“This changes nothing do you understand.” Keptis said coldly to Ashlei.

“I know.”

By this stage Florence’s face had repaired itself and she was able to use her voice to calm the frantic crowd, whilst Carlene, Keptis and Ashlei continued to try and hold off the tentacles together.

“We can’t get out this way, there are too many Demons. Is there another exit” Florence asked the terrified crowd.

“No”. Mascia said.”These are the only escape pods. We are finished.”

Just then the entire building began to shake and the roof was ripped open, revealing the all too familiar and gruesome sight of the Kardons above. The Kardons started to turn several of the Rysteians below into Ishica.

As Mascia began to turn he grabbed onto Carlene and begged her to help.

“Please, please don’t let me become one of those things.”

“The only thing I can do is kill you.” Carlene said.

“Then do it, do it now.” Mascia pleaded.

Carlene pulled another silver knife from her beehive and prepared to strike, but before she could another one of the tentacles grabbed her and pulled her up to the Kardons. Carlene tried to throw her knife down at the Mascia’s heart, but she was too late.

Mascia had already turned and the first thing he did was attack a young female Rysteian whose throat he tore out.

The rest of the Ishica surrounded the Circus Folk and brought them to their Kardon masters.

“It was always going to end like this.” One of the Kardons taunted. “You strangers thought you could seal us into the hell we created. Now you will suffer.”

The Kardons brought the Circus folk to face their leader, Garishikar who had arrived just outside the base, surrounded by a sea of hundreds of thousands of hideous Demons.

“Interesting.” The gigantic Demon king said.

“I can detect all kinds of magics and enchantments from other worlds, galaxies, even dimensions all over this band of freaks. They are not of this world or time. Some of their magics are unfamiliar even for me. Fascinating. Still I’ll have time to figure out what they are after they have freed us. If they can get in, they can get us out.”

“We might have had our differences recently, but I think I speak for all of the Circus Folk when I say that we will never help you escape.”

“You have no ideas the agonies I can dream up for you.”

“Believe me I do. I know all about what your kind are capable of. Which is why I’ll never let you loose into the world.”

“What about the Rysteians? The race you condemned to suffer with us? What if I torture them in front of you, one by one. Will you really just sit back.”

“You’ll torture them anyway, what difference does it make?”

“What about one of your friends.” The Demon said as Ashlei was pulled closer to the beast.

“What if I slowly burn her, and keep her alive right the way through the fire until the end, then I’ll bring her back and keep doing it again and again. Will you just sit back and watch?.”

“Please” Carlene shouted out.

“Like I said, it doesn’t make a difference.” The Circus Master said over Carlene’s pleas. As soon as Ashlei started to scream however, the Circus Master instantly gave in.

“Okay, okay I’ll take you to our craft.” The Circus Master said.

“What a pathetic waste of time. You’re spineless, all of you.” Garishikar taunted.

Whilst Garishikar left with the Circus Folk, the rest of the Kardons and their Demonic minions descended on the Rysteians palace. They would not kill them all as the Rysteians were their only form of amusement.

Sadly for the Rysteans the Kardons could not use them to escape. The technology that Mascia had built had taken years to aquire, and it would take even longer to replicate it.

For now it seemed the Kardons were trapped, and as a result the Rysteians were in for a much darker hell than ever before. The Kardons would be taking their frustrations out on them rather than simply their boredom.

It didn’t take Garishikar long to sense the presence of the tent. He was a little perplexed by it. It looked so weak and fragile, but he could sense among the most powerful magics he had ever experienced deep within.

“How will this free us.”

“I didn’t say it would free you. It will free us.”

“You would dare.”

“Yes I would. You said you can sense the magics inside of us? What else can you sense. Go on.”

Garishikar had felt the presence of the father of the Kardon’s Khastran among the Circus Folk from the start, but he refused to believe it. He couldn’t. He was as scared of Khastran as the Rysteians were of him!

He was sure that they couldn’t be in any way related to Khastran as the Circus Master and Carlene had both shown concern for Ashlei. Still now that the Circus Master was drawing it to his attention and demanding he acknowledge it, Garishikar’s nerve was beginning to break.

“What do you think Khastran will do when he finds you treating his children that way? Oh he doesn’t really care about us, but he’ll be angry at the idea of anyone daring to hurt his creations. Your hell will be much greater than even the Rysteians.”

Garishikar didn’t say anything.

“Well aren’t you going to torture me? What are you waiting for? I thought you could dream up agonies we couldn’t imagine?”

The Circus Master signalled to Denika and then called out to the other Circus Folk.

“Cover your eyes.”

Denika fired a quick magic blast of light. It obviously didn’t hurt Garishikar, but the light distracted him for just a few seconds. Denika, used her magic to clear a path through the blinding light for the Circus Folk, allowing them to make it to the Tent. Carlene carried both Ashlei who was weak after the torture, and the Strange Boy

Once inside the Circus Master prepared to take off.

“We can’t just leave them.” Ashlei protested.

“If you want to go out there and fight the Kardons be my guest. I’m sure no one here will stop you apart from Carlene. I’m getting us out now before that monster can use this ship to escape.”

Just as the tent prepared to take off however, Garishikar grabbed it with both hands. He actually managed to hold it in place, while the power from the vortex itself pulled and pulled.

The inside of the ship began to break apart and catch fire.

“That fool” The Circus Master screamed.

“He’ll rip a hole in the fabric of time.” The Circus Master started to use the emergency supplies, whilst Denika fired as much magic as she could into the machine’s console.

“You will not escape.” Garishikar screamed. “I have waited too long. No one, not even Khastran will keep me here.”

Within a matter of seconds however the Tent exploded into a ball of fire. Garishikar was completely unfazed by the flames that quickly vanished into smoke.

He wasn’t sure if the time travellers had escape or simply burned up. It seemed far more likely the latter.

Either way the Demon had lost his only chance at escape. It was all because of his cowardice. Had he not let his fear of Khastran cloud his judgement, then they would never have escaped.

He would have to live with his weakness in this dank hell forever now. How long would it be before his followers would realise how weak he was. In many ways his future was just as bleak as the Rysteians.

                                                                     The End

Next Story

                                                       The Curse of the Robots

 

Happy Christmas from Burrunjor

I would like to wish all of my regular readers a Happy Christmas.

This year has definitely been a lot smoother for me personally. Whilst I have still suffered from some bouts of depression, overall my mental health has been a lot more stable.

There has been more content produced on this blog in 2019, than during the last two years combined! Having said that however my schedule has been somewhat haphazard during the last few months of this year. For 2020 I have decided to draw up a new schedule for my three ongoing series, Doctor Who, Professor Fang and The Circus Master as well as two new series.

Starting in late January 2020, I will produce one episode each of Professor Fang and The Circus Master one week, and one episode each of my two new series the next, and one episode of Doctor Who the week after.

I think this will be easier than trying to crowbar three stories into one week. Two is more managable, and the three week gap also gives me time to work on each part of a story properly.

I appreciate regular readers being patient during the gaps between the parts of the latest Circus Master and Professor Fang stories, both of which will conclude this week.

Have a marvellous Christmas and holiday season ahead.

 

My Favourite Heroes: Batman: Part 2: The History of Batman

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Batman has a long and varied history spread out across multiple different mediums and universes. There has never been just one Batman per se, even within the continuity of DC. He’s been rebooted, (both in and out of universe) killed off, replaced with alternate counterparts, as well as his children and even in one instance his deceased father.

Across his many iterations, the Batman has been everything from a gritty crime fighter, to a gothic anti hero, to a sci fi superhero, to a loving father.

Both in universe and from a real world perspective the history of the Caped Crusader is a fascinating and somewhat tragic story. Whilst the modern image of Batman may be one of the most beloved fictional characters, that image was the work of many great artists and writers over the course of several decades, many of whom’s contributions have sadly been overlooked.

Creation and Controversy

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Bob Kane with Bill Fingers Batman.

For decades the official story about Batman’s origins was that he was created by cartoonist Bob Kane in 1939 for National Comics (later known as DC.) Kane was the only person ever to be credited on any form of Batman media for the first 70 or so years of the characters history. In the majority of interviews throughout his life, Kane would only ever credit himself with creating Batman and his supporting characters and enemies like the Joker and Catwoman.

In recent decades however it has been revealed that writer Bill Finger contributed far more to the Batman character and mythos than Kane ever did.

Kane came up with the name Batman, but his initial sketch bore little resemblance to the Batman we know today. Kane’s Batman had no cape, a dominos mask and dressed in red.

See here.

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It was Bill Finger who not only came up with the Caped Crusaders look, but much of his character too. Finger suggested that Kane give Batman a cowl with bat ears, that he change the wings to a cape, and that he make Batman’s eyes white to suggest an air of mystery. He also suggested giving the Batman a grey and black colour scheme too.

Finger also came up with Gotham city, Commisioner Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth and the Batman’s civilian identity of the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. (He apparently named Bruce Wayne after the famous Scottish king Robert the Bruce.) Finger also came up with Batman’s tragic origins of being motivated to fight crime by the death of his parents.

Finger also created, or co-created most of Batman’s famous enemies including the Joker, Catwoman, the Riddler, the Scarecrow and the Penguin. Other artists and writers also contributed to the creation of many of Batman’s iconic rogues and supporting characters too, such as Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang and Gardner Fox.

In all fairness to Kane back in the 40s the standard policy was for one person’s name to be stamped on the cover. The likes of Finger and Robinson were also hired as ghost artists and writers too. It wouldn’t be until the 60s when Marvel pioneered crediting all involved in the comic, with the famous Marvel bull pen.

Disputes over who created an iconic character are also common in the comic book and television mediums, where unlike a novel several people are always involved in a characters creation.

Stan Lee though pioneering the bull pen method, still always argued that he was the sole creator of the likes of Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, as he came up with the initial concepts for all characters.

The difference between Lee and Kane however, was that Lee always credited the likes of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko with designing the characters, and always said that the characters would not have been successful without the artists contributions. Lee was also always happy for his artists to refer to themselves as co-creators too.

Kane however not only took credit for things we now know he didn’t do, like Batman’s final design, but he also tried to silence Bill Fingers claims to helping create the Batman.

In the 1960s when Bill Finger mentioned his contributions to the Batman character at one of the first comic conventions, Bob Kane was quick to discredit him in a Batman fan magazine.

See here.

Now, Biljo, I’d like to emphatically set the record straight, once and for all, about the many “myths” and “conjectures” that I read about myself and my creation, “Batman,” in your “Fanzine” and other publications. I can only call all the stories I read about myself “conjectures,” because most of them are written without my advice or consent, and, therefore, cannot be entirely the truth, because how can an article about me or the Batman be the true story, when I am not consulted or interviewed?

Here, for the first time, straight from the “horse’s mouth” is the real inside story about myself and “Batman,” with no holds barred, and I intend to explode the myths about myself and get down to the real truth about the legend that is “Batman,” so, fasten your seat belts, Batmanians, as the fireworks begin.

We can call this story, “Inside Bob Kane,” or will the real creator of “Batman” sign in, please!

The Myth: Bob Kane is not the sole creator of “Batman.” (I’ve heard this a thousand times in my lifetime), that “Batman” was really created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Carmine Infantino, Jack Schiff, Julie Schwartz, my publisher, etc., etc., and my housekeeper!

The Truth: All hogwash! I, Bob Kane, am the sole creator of “Batman.” I created “Batman” in 1939, and it appeared, if memory serves me correctly, in Detective Comics as a six or eight page story, and I signed the first strip, “Robert Kane.”

I read your article that you sent to me, “If the Truth be Known,” ”A Finger in Every Plot,” and it seemed to me that Bill Finger has given out the impression that he and not myself created the ”Batman”,  as well as Robin and all the other leading villains and characters. This statement is fraudulent and entirely untrue. That is ”myth” and I quote an excerpt from the article written by Jerry G. Bails, “The Cowl and Cape, the utility belt and gauntlets were all Bill’s contribution.”

Also, further down in the article and again I quote , “Bill also created Robin, of course, but also Commissioner Gordon, (who appeared in the first Batman story), Alfred the Penguin, The Catwoman, etc., etc.

I challenge Bill to repeat those statements in front of me. I am sorry that I was absent from the comicdom’s convention so that I could have answered him. The truth is that Bill Finger is taking credit for much more than he deserves, and I refute much of his statements here in print The fact is that I conceived the ”Batman`’ figure and costume entirely by myself’ even before I called Bill in to help me write the “Batman.” I created the title, masthead, the format and concept, as well as the Batman figure and costume. Robin, the boy wonder, was also my idea, . . . not Bill’s.

The only proof I need to back my statement is that if Bill co-authored and conceived the idea, either with me or before me, then he would most certainly have a by-line on the strip along with my name, the same as Siegel and Schuster had as creators of Superman. However, it remains obvious that my name appears on the strip alone, proving that I created the idea first and then called Bill in later, after my publisher okayed my original creation.

Now, Biljo, in all fairness to Bill, I will admit he was influential in aiding me in shaping up the strip, and there are certain characters Bill created, aside from my main characters’ and many other characters that I created, including the Batmobile. It’s been 25 years now, and truthfully, time sometimes blurs the memory and it is difficult to separate, at times, the myth from the truth, so that I cannot blame Bill too much if at times his memory “clouds.”

Aside to Jerry G. Bails: I ought to sue you for misrepresentation and distortion of the truth about your “Finger Article” that blatantly intimates that Bill Finger was the true creator behind Batman, and not Bob Kane. Your article is completely misleading, loaded with untruths fed to you by Finger’s hallucinations of grandeur.

May I say to you, Mr . Bails, that before you wrote so smugly and assuredly about Bill Finger being the real creator and ”tour de force” behind the Batman for publication, don’t you think that you should have double-checked your information back to me, so that I could verify and clarify Bill Finger’s comments? After all, I was involved with the Batman, don’t you think? But, of course, you minimized my part in the creation and maximized Bill Finger’s part, only because you listened to one side of the story – Finger’ s side. I am sure that you have heard that there are “two sides to every story”? At any rate, now you’ve heard my side. Are you still convinced about Finger’s immortality?

I am sick and tired of opinionated people, like yourself, who throughout the years have written distorted and untrue stories about how Batman was created and by whom, receiving their information from unreliable sources, when it would have been much easier to get the true story simply by contacting me, the one and only creator of Batman, that could be proven so easily by merely asking my publisher or simply by looking at the lone by-line of “Bob Kane” on the strip.

I’d also like to state here, Mr. Bails, that although Bill Finger literally typed the scripts in the early days, that he wrote the scripts from ideas that we mutually collaborated on and that many of the unique concepts and story twists also came from my own fertile imagination and that I was not just a puppet cartoonist alone, following a writer’s script and contributing nothing more than the art work.

Finger never received the credit he was due during his lifetime as a result, and died in both obscurity and poverty in the 1970s. Contrary to popular belief he was not buried in an unmarked potters grave. He was cremated, with his only son Fred Finger scattering his ashes in the shape of a Bat on a beach in Oregon, as per his wishes.

Bob Kane would later express regret for the way he had treated Bill Finger. In 1989 after the release of the first Batman film starring Michael Keaton, Kane said.

In those days it was one artist and he had his name over it [the comic strip] — the policy of DC in the comic books was, if you can’t write it, obtain other writers, but their names would never appear on the comic book in the finished version. So Bill never asked me for it [the byline] and I never volunteered — I guess my ego at that time. And I felt badly, really, when he [Finger] died

Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero … I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I would like to say. ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.

However many saw this as too little, too late, and argued that Kane was only recounting now that Finger had passed away and could not recieve any royalties. It would not be until 2015, following a campaign by author Marc Tyler Nobleman and Fingers grand daughter Athena, that Finger would be officially credited as the co-creator of Batman, beginning with the film Batman vs Superman and the television series Gotham.

Kane’s reputation has naturally dropped considerably as a result. Many others in the industry have come forward with less than favourable stories about Bob Kane in recent years, with arguably the most infamous being comic book author Jim Steranko’s near physical confrontation with Kane, who Steranko derided as both a coward, and back stabber who took advantage of Finger.

Its ironic in a way, as now I feel that people perhaps don’t give Kane the credit he deserves.

Kane did play a vital role in the creation of Batman and various other important characters in the Batman canon. One thing people often overlook about Kane’s initial drawing of Batman is that even there, the character lacks superpowers. Kane’s Batman couldn’t fly like Superman. He had artificial wings instead which he had designed to help him fly.

This would ultimately prove to be a vital component in Batman’s character, that he has to rely on gadgets rather than super powers and it was there in Kane’s initial concept.

Bob Kane also did play a role in the creation of the Joker, Catwoman, the Scarecrow and the Penguin too. Jerry Robinson, who spoke very unfavourably of Kane’s treatment of Bill Finger, (going as far as to say he never forgave him for it) nevertheless said that Kane can be considered a co-creator of the Joker. It is also known that Kane played a key role in fleshing out the Catwoman’s character. He apparently based much of Catwoman’s personality on his cousin Ruth Steel.

The real Catwoman.

Kane also created the final design for the Penguin and was the sole creator of Two Face, one of Batman’s most iconic foes. Finally it was also Kane who personally assembled the original team of artists and writers on the Batman comics, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson.

Had Kane not been so desperate to hoover up all the credit, he would be revered as the man who helped kick off, and flesh out the Batman mythos. The lesson here is to never try and take too much credit or else when the truth comes out, people will be loathe to give you any credit at all, as seen with Kane.

Whilst its tragic that Finger was never given the credit he was due, at the very least his reputation among fans and critics is considerably stronger today than Kane’s.

The Early Years

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Batman first appeared in Detective Comics 27. In his first few appearances Batman was depicted as being willing to murder his enemies and use guns. It was also a policy of earlier comics to make sure that none of Batman’s enemies would recur, so as not to undermine his status as a hero. Despite this however there were two recurring enemies in Batman’s earliest days with Detective Comics, The Mad Monk, a hypnotic Vampire, and Doctor Death, a mad scientist. Death’s origins of having his face scarred in an accident and developing a grudge against Batman as a result, would later be reused for the Joker.

Whilst Bruce Wayne was best friends with Commissioner James Gordon in the earlier stories, the police still viewed Batman as a dangerous psychopath who needed to be put down. Bruce Wayne also had a fiance too in the early years, Julie Madison, who has been seldom seen in most adaptations.

Whilst featuring many larger than life concepts from death rays, to robot Dinosaurs to Vampires, the earliest Batman comics still took the stories and character very seriously, and were very dark in tone.

During Batman’s first year with Detective Comics, several key elements of the Batman mythos would be established, such as the characters tragic origins in Detective Comics 33, his utility belt in issue 29, and his famous Batarang as well as the first ever Bat themed vehicle, the Bat plane in issue 31.

Finally in Detective Comics 38, Batman’s sidekick Robin was introduced. Created by Jerry Robinson, Robin, whose real name was Dick Grayson, was a young boy whose parents had been murdered just like Batman. Robin’s popularity would lead to a surge in similar kid sidekicks. Robin has remained a somewhat controversial figure in the decades since, with many feeling that he made Batman too light a character. Robin has nevertheless remained one of the most enduring icons of the Batman mythos.

Batman proved to be such a big hit that he would soon get his own series, whilst continuing to star in Detective Comics. The first ever solo issue of Batman saw the character face both the Joker and the Catwoman (then just referred to as simply the Cat.)

The Joker in his first appearance was depicted as a true monster clown, murdering his victims in gruesome ways simply because he thought it was funny. His origins were shrouded in complete mystery. Whilst more details have been revealed about the Jokers past in the ensuing decades, to this day the villains identity and real name have never been revealed.

From the start the Joker was depicted as Batman’s most dangerous and evil adversary, being ten steps ahead of the Batman and the police, and in a stark contrast to his later appearances; he was even depicted as being able to best the Caped Crusader in a fight.

Catwoman, whose real name was Selina Kyle, meanwhile was depicted initially as more of a manipulative villain who was no match for the Batman physically, and was far more unsympathetic than later depictions. From the start however the two were shown to have a romantic interest in one another, though this would become more prominent after Julie Madison was written out.

The Penguin meanwhile would be introduced in 1942. Though initially a more comical villain than the Joke, The Penguin would go on to be one of Batman’s most recognisable and recurring foes. Over the decades the Penguin’s character would be fleshed out more, and he would go from a campy supervillain obsessed with birds, to a gritty and brutal crime lord.

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The King and Queen of crime?!

The first appearances of the Penguin and the Catwoman, two of Batman’s main enemies. The papa spank line isn’t one of the Caped Crusaders finest moments.

Another major enemy of Batman introduced during the early years was Doctor Hugo Strange. Originally intended to be Batman’s archenemy, Strange was more of a match for Batman in terms of intellect than his other enemies, being a genius scientist in his own right. Ultimately however the more colourful Joker, Penguin and Catwoman would soon eclipse Strange, though Strange would continue to recur over the decades, and has even appeared in many adaptations such as the recent tv series Gotham.

The Joker was originally to have been killed off in his second appearance, but a last minute decision by editor Whitney Ellisworth ultimately spared the character, and the Joker would quickly cement himself as Batman’s arch foe, appearing in 6 out of the first 9 Batman issues.

The first appearance of what would quickly become Batman’s greatest enemy, the Joker.

Ellsworth would also make another major contribution to Batman’s character, deciding after an issue of Detective Comics which featured the caped crusader murdering mutated giants with a machine gun, that Batman would never use a gun or kill his enemies again.

This has gone on to be a vital aspect of Batman’s character ever since, not just in the comics, but in most other adaptations too. In universe the reason Batman hates guns it would be established is obviously because they were used in the brutal murder of his parents. Some versions of Batman however, such as Michael Keaton’s in the first two Burton Batman movies have returned to using weapons and lethal force, but generally speaking, most versions of Batman have stuck to Ellsworth’s policy.

In addition to starring in his own series and Detective Comics, Batman would go on to appear regularly in World’s Finest in 1940, a series which featured stories starring both Batman and Superman, DC’s other most popular character. It would not be until 1952 however that World’s Finest would bring both characters together in the same story. Batman and Superman would quickly be established as being best friends, and would remain so until the modern age, when the darker Batman’s methods often clashed with Superman.

Batman would also be established as an honorary member of the first ever superhero team, The Justice Society of America early into his career. First appearing in All Star Comics 3 in 1941, Batman and Superman however unlike with the later Justice League were not allowed to appear in with the Justice Society in a regular basis, as they already had their own titles, unlike most of the other members. Still one of the Justice Society’s base of operations was in Gotham City.

Batman would remain one of DC’s best selling characters throughout the 40s, though as the decade waned on, Batman would be made into a much lighter character, and more of a traditional father figure to Robin.

The End of the Original Batman

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From an in universe perspective the original Batman’s adventures would come to an end in the 50s. DC would later establish in the early 60s, that all of their stories from the 1930s to the mid 50s took place in another universe to those from the mid 50s to the then present.

The original 30s-50s stories took place on Earth 2, whilst the then modern stories from the mid 50s-present took place on Earth 1.

DC did this to explain away the major continuity issues that had emerged over the decades, chiefly concerning the Justice League and the Justice Society, which had each featured their own version of the Flash, Jay Garrick and Barry Allen, whilst Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman had been members of both teams. (Barry and Jay had been established as the only versions of the Flash in their own titles leading to some confusion.)

The multiverse idea was introduced in the story Flash of Two Earth’s which saw Barry Allen, the modern Flash travel to Earth Two where he met Jay Garrick the original Flash (who had visibly aged since we last saw him.)

The meant however that the then current Batman of the 60s was not the same character as the original from the 30s-mid 50s. It was never made clear when the adventures of the original Batman had come to an end, and the adventures of the new Batman began, as the multiverse was a retcon, but it would later be established in universe that the Earth Two Batman had retired at some point in the 50s.

The original Earth Two Batman’s final fate would be revealed in the late 70s. At some point in the mid 50s, Batman married a reformed Catwoman, and the two soon had a daughter, Helena Wayne. Years later however Catwoman would be blackmailed into carrying out another crime, and Batman would inadvertantly cause her death.

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The marriage of Batman and Catwoman.

Vowing to never don the cape and cowl again, Bruce was left a broken man by his wife’s death, but his daughter Helena Wayne would later become a masked crime fighter, The Huntress who would bring the criminal who had blackmailed her mother to justice.

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Helena Wayne vows to avenge her mothers death.

The Huntress would go on to become a popular character throughout the 70s, continuing her father’s legacy on Earth 2, joining the Justice Society, and later crossing over to Earth One where she’d work with its version of her father.

The Earth Two Bruce Wayne meanwhile despite his vow would later become Batman one last time to battle the Wizard, Frederick Faust which resulted in his death.

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Following Batman’s death ironically the Joker would take it hardest of all. Furious that he had beaten his long time enemy, simply by outliving him, the Joker refused to believe Batman was gone and would go on a massive rampage to try and draw The Batman out. An older Dick Grayson would be forced to pretend to be Batman in order to convince the Joker that his foe was still alive. Happy that Batman was not dead, the Joker willingly surrendered, and continued to plot his final duel with the Batman that would ultimately never come.

This classic scene from Batman the animated series where the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) believes Batman has been killed and grieves, not over Batman, but simply of being deprived of his revenge; was inspired by the original Earth Two Joker’s reaction to his Batman’s death.

Whilst some critics felt the multiverse format was needlessly complicated, personally I think that it was a brilliant formula that ultimately allowed DC to finish their characters stories, whilst not having to stop producing Batman stories altogether. In contrast Marvel, whose characters all live in one floating timeline’s stories can never end, or even develop in any meaningful way that upsets the status quo. Take a look at Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s wedding for instance that had to be retconned in the most ridiculous way, to restore Spidey to being single. The original Batman and Catwoman’s marriage meanwhile remained final and even produced another superhero, the Huntress.

Personally I enjoy reading the earliest Batman comics knowing that he and Catwoman one day end up getting married, and that their legacy continues on through the Huntress, who is one of my favourite heroes.

Ultimately whatever your opinion on the multiverse, its important to remember that your Batman is NOT your grandfathers Batman. The Batman we read about in any story from his introduction to the mid 50s died decades ago, and has been replaced since by three alternate universe counterparts.

50s: Sci Fi Hijinks

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From a real world perspective the 50s would mark a radical change in Batman’s character. Batman had been completely watered down by this stage from his darker past into being a totally family friendly hero, but as the decade rolled on the character would be turned into more of a sci fi hero. The 50s would see Batman regularly travel to other worlds, travel through time, battle aliens, giant robots, and other atomic age monsters and strange creatures.

Sci Fi had been a vital component in Batman’s character from the very beginning. His gadgets and Batcave were often presented as being far in advance of contemporary technology. (One of the most famous and longstanding trophies in the Batcave is a gigantic robot Tyrannosaurus Rex.)

Added to that many of Batman’s most iconic enemies such as Doctor Hugo Strange were firmly rooted in sci fi too. The 50s however ultimately took it too far and had Batman spend more time in outerspace, or the future or on other worlds, than in Gotham.

As a result the 50s is often seen as a low point in the characters history. Nevertheless there would be a few important developments during this decade. The Jokers origins would be finally be revealed in the story The Man Behind The Red Hood.

Originally the Joker had been a criminal known as the Red Hood who planned to steal a million pounds and then retire, but during his final robbery of the Monarch Card company, Batman accidentally knocked the Red Hood into a vat of chemicals, which bleached his skin chalk white, dyed his hair green and distorted his mouth into a permanent hideous grin, driving him insane in the process

Whilst presented as a light hearted story at the time, this development ended up having major repurcussions on the Batman/Joker dynamic. Now Batman was made responsible for creating the Joker, and was therefore accountable for all of his crimes. By this stage however the Joker had been turned into more of a harmless prankster, carrying out wild, over the top schemes, but rarely ever killing anyone. It would not be until the 70s, when the Joker was restored to his old murderous persona that writers would explore the ramifications of Batman’s role in the Joker’s origin, as well as his role in the creation of his other major villains too.

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The 1950s also saw the introduction fo Mr Freeze, then referred to as Mr Zero. Freeze would go on to be one of Batman’s most famous foes in popular culture, thanks to his appearances in the 60s Adam West series and the 90s Batman the Animated series.

Justice League of America

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In 1960 Batman, along with Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Aquaman would form one of the first superhero teams, The Justice League in The Brave and the Bold issue 28.

Initially however Batman and Superman would be relegated to more minor roles in the strip with DC not wanting to overexpose their two most famous characters, though the two heroes did still go on several adventures with the league, and even played key roles in saving the day in some of the earlier strips. Eventually Batman and Superman would be allowed to play more major roles in the Justice League.

Batman despite having no superpowers of his own, would still be able to keep up with his allies in the league through his gadgets and fighting skills. (Batman had already been shown to tackle super powered and paranormal threats on his own, such as Manbat, and Mr Freeze.)

Batman would often end up being the key to many of the Justice League’s success’ as his scientific genius would enable him to disarm the villains weapons, or rewire their technology in a way that the other heroes couldn’t, whilst his deduction skills would often allow him to figure out the villains weaknesses, hideouts, or their plans when the other members of the League could not.

An example of Batman’s usefulness to the rest of the League despite his lack of powers.

In spite of this Batman’s history with the league has not always been smooth. In the 2000 miniseries, Towel of Bable, Batman’s archenemy, Ra’s Al Ghul steals files Batman as gathered on the rest of the League in case they ever went rogue and uses them to very nearly kill the League.

Though Ra’s plan is stopped, Batman is forced to leave the League afterwards, with Wonder Woman, Plastique Man and Aquaman being unable to trust Batman afterwards.

Batman has often clashed with other members of the League due to his secretive and somewhat paranoid personality. Still he has nevertheless always remained a prominent member of the team, and in many versions has even helped found the League.

The Bat-Family

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Towards the end of the 50s and the early 60s, two more sidekicks would be introduced for the Caped Crusader. Kathy Kane aka Batwoman, and her niece Bette Kane who became the first ever Batgirl. Both were introduced as love interests of Batman and Robin respectively. In addition to this Batman would also inherit a trusty hound known as Ace during this period, and another sidekick in the form of Batmite.

Batmite was an imp from the 5th dimension, similar to Superman foe Mr Mxylptzlik, though Batmite in contrast was shown to idolise Batman and would frequently help him out.

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By the mid 60s the Bat family would be phased out, with editors feeling that there were too many characters detracting from Batman. Kathy Kane would nevertheless be revived many decades later as Kate Kane, whilst the concept of Batgirl would similarly be revived towards the end of the 60s.

Many critics and comic historians have argued that Batwoman and Batgirl were introduced simply to offset complaints that Batman and Robin were gay lovers. Ironically the later version of Kate Kane would be depicted as one of the first openly lesbian heroes in comics.

The Silly Years

Batman’s sales declined rapidly throughout the 60s to the point were there was talk of cancellation. Ultimately however the character would reach new heights of popularity during the later half of the decade thanks to the live action Batman television series starring Adam West.

Premiering in 1966, Batman was a comedy series that spoofed the characters. Though undoubtedly one of the greatest comedy series of all time, the show did change the pubic perception of Batman to being a campy, silly character which made it difficult for later more serious film pitch’s for the Dark Knight to be taken seriously.

Still overall the 60s show had a positive impact on the franchise. Bob Kane himself credited the show with saving the comic, with the 66 Batman helping to kick off a craze that would become known as Batmania. The 60s show would also elevate the characters of the Riddler and Mr Freeze into being among Batman’s most iconic enemies. Prior to the 60s serise Mr Freeze had appeared just once, whilst The Riddler had made only a handful of appearances.

The 60s series would also be responsible for the creation of the second Batgirl. This version of the character named Barbara Gordon was the daughter of Commissioner Gordon, and generally worked on her own. The new Batgirl proved to be very popular with readers and would go on to become one of the most successful female heroes for DC comics.

In order to emulate the success of the 60s show, the Batman comics would start to adopt a campier, more light hearted tone, but after the show came to an end attempts would be made by writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams to take Batman back to his darker roots.

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Classic examples of campier Batman stories of the 60s.

The Night of the Stalker

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Throughout the 70s Batman would be depicted as a much darker character. Now operating alone, with Robin having since grown up and established himself as a hero in his own right. The Batman of the 70s still retained many of the lighter elements that had been developed in the decades since his introduction. The 70s Batman still had a sense of humour, was friendly to those closest to him, and genuinely enjoyed his life.

Still the stories took themselves more seriously than ever before, and explored much darker content.

A classic example of the more mature and sophisticated stories of the 70s, can be seen in the strip “The Night of the Stalker.” Here Batman witnesses the murder a couple in front of their child by common criminals who he then pursues through the woods of Gotham. Batman is absolutely vicious in dispatching the criminals, as he is forced to relive the horror of his parents death yet again. Night of the Stalker was widely praised by fans and critics alike for its depiction of Batman as a dark, ruthless anti hero, whilst at the same time touching on the tragic elements of his character in a moving way.

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Image result for night of the stalker batman

Batman’s enemies would similarly be given a makeover during this era. The Joker having been portrayed as a silly prankster throughout the last two decades, would be returned to being a vicious, sadistic, mass murderer in O’Neil’s “Joker’s 5 Way Revenge”. This story saw the villain murder his former henchmen in gruesome ways, with Batman only managing to rescue the last, who the Joker attempts to feed to a shark!

This version of the Joker however was different to the original in that he was still comical, and his plans still more outlandish, but the humour was instead very dark. Unlike later depictions of the Clown Prince of Crime, the 70s, early 80s Joker also still despised the Batman and genuinely wished to kill him. Later versions of the Joker would instead enjoy fighting with Batman, viewing him as the straight man in their double act. The 70s Joker however had a more traditional hero/villain relationship with Batman.

 

Classic examples of the Jokers sick sense of humour from the 70s-early 80s.

The 70s would also see the introduction of the only villain to ever challenge the Jokers claim as Batman’s archfoe. Ra’s Al Ghul. Ghul was a warlord who had been kept young for several hundred years, through the Lazarus pits.

Leader of the league of assassins, Ghul had countless resources all over the world to use against the Batman. He was also Batman’s equal in terms of intellect and physical prowess, and was able to deduce Batman’s secret identity when he first met him. Ghul initially saw Batman as his heir to the position of the Demon’s head, but the two would soon come into conflict which would be made all the more personal by Batman’s feelings for Ghul’s daughter, Talia.

The 70s would also see Batman work with many other DC heroes to a far greater extent than ever before through The Brave and the Bold which saw Batman work with a different DC hero every issue.

The Brave and the Bold was originally conceived as an anthology series, before becoming a team up series.

From issue 50 however The Brave and the Bold came to revolve entirely around Batman working with a different hero each week. This decision was made to cash in on the popularity of the Batman series, but the strip would remain a Batman team up series, even after the show had been cancelled. Throughout the 70s The Brave and the Bold would become the most popular Batman title.

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The series helped to put Batman into more fantastical and outlandish settings, but unlike in the 50’s comics it didn’t stop the Batman from going on more traditional crime stories in the main title. The Brave and the Bold also helped to examine Batman’s greater role in the DC universe and flesh out his relationships with other DC characters to a far greater extent than ever before. We got to see Batman’s strange friendship with Deadman, his partnership with Wild Cat (which unlike with Robin was on a more equal footing) and his rivalry with Green Arrow. One strip even saw the Caped Crusader trapped in a love triangle with Wonder Woman and Batgirl!

Wonder Woman Love Batman

Batgirl Loves Batman

One of the most ridiculous stories ever written.

For me the late 60s to the early 80s represents the best period of Batman’s history. There is a much wider variety of stories during that decade than any other. The silly, light hearted approach is not entirely jettisoned as seen above, but at the same time there are darker, more serious stories such as Night of the Stalker. The 70s still saw Batman battle ordinary criminals in his own series, yet through the Brave and the Bold it saw the character go on sci fi and fantasy adventures too. The 70s also featured more Batman team ups than any other decade. Brave and the Bold would come to an end in 1982, and when it was revived in 2007 it would be restored to a team up series, rather than a Batman comic.

Batman in my opinion is a better fit for team ups than any other hero. His lack of powers means that he can be vulnerable to any other heroes enemies, whilst his gadgets and deduction skills enables him to be of use to even the most powerful super heroes too. In contrast Superman or Wonder Woman or even The Flash are all too powerful to help out a hero like say Wild Cat, as they’d deal with his problem in a matter of minutes. Its a shame that no other decade would make use of Batman’s adaptability in working with other heroes as well as the 70s did.

For me the 70s best shows off all of the different sides to Batman’s character and it has gone on to be widely praised as a golden age by many critics and comics historians. The 70s would go on to have a large influence on Batman the Animated Series in particular. Sadly however despite its popularity with fans, Batman sales would actually decline greatly throughout the 70s.

End of the Earth One Batman’s adventures

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In 1985 DC would produce a multi crossover story called Crisis on Infinite Earth’s which saw a vastly powerful and evil cosmic entity known as the Anti Monitor destroy every universe, with only one universe, New Earth, created from the ruins of the last 5 universes surviving.

As a result of this the Earth One Batman’s adventures came to an end, and all main DC stories from 1985-2011 would take place on New Earth.

The Huntress, daughter of the Earth 2 Batman’s life would come to a tragic end too. Though she survived the erasure of her own world, she would later be murdered by minions of the Anti Monitor during a final stand against the Anti Monitor’s minions. The Huntress would die a heroesdeath saving some children from falling rubble. The Huntress was one of many heroes to die during the Crisis, alongside Barry Allen (who would be succeeded by Wally West) and Supergirl.

Crisis on Infinite Earth’s had been designed solely to wipe the Multiverse from canon. DC felt that the Multiverse, which had since expanded to include hundreds of earths aside from earth’s 1 and 2 was too overly complicated and in danger of putting new readers off. Therefore New Earth was designed to serve as a single timeline that readers could easily follow.

Ultimately the multiverse would be brought back gradually over the next few decades. The 2005 crossover Infinite Crisis saw one of the final survivors of the multiverse, a heroic alternate version of Lex Luthor, create 52 new universes, whilst a 2015 crossover event called Convergence erased the events of Crisis on Infinite Earth’s restoring the multiverse.

Still from 1985 to 2011, it would be the adventures of the Batman of New Earth that readers would follow.

The Dark Knight Returns

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Batman sales declined in the early 80s, but the character would be given a major boost through a number of much darker, more violent works which fully helped to restore Batman’s reputation as an anti hero.

The first of these was Frank Millers mini series The Dark Knight Returns which depicted an aging and bitter Bruce Wayne come out of retirement. Set outside of the New Earth continuity, The Dark Knight Returns was most notable for featuring Batman and Superman clashing with one another, and its final brutal showdown between Batman and the Joker.

The Dark Knight Returns proved to be a massive success and finally helped Batman shake off the campy image from the Adam West series. The levels of violence in the story far exceeded those of previous Batman adventures. According to Frank Miller, Bob Kane himself hated the miniseries, feeling that it was too nasty. Still The Dark Knight Returns made an immeasurably huge impact on the industry, and similar darker Batman stories followed.

The 1988 graphic novel, The Killing Joke written by Alan Moore and with art by Brian Bolland, expanded on the Jokers origins, whilst taking the feud between the Clown Prince of Crime and the Dark Knight to a whole new level.

The Killing Joke reveals that the Joker was original a failed comedian, who attempted to rob the Ace chemicals plant to support his pregnant wife. On the night of the robbery however, the Jokers wife is killed in a freak accident. The criminals then force him into helping to carry out the robbery, during which the Joker falls into a vat of chemicals, finally pushing him over the edge.

In the present the Joker attempts to prove that one bad day can drive anyone to lunacy. He targets Commisoner Gordon and shoots his daughter Barbara through the spine and then tortures the Commisoner by showing him pictures of Barbara’s bleeding, naked body!

The Jokers origins and his heinous crimes against Jim and Barbara Gordon from the 2016 adaptation of The Killing Joke, starring Mark Hamil as the Joker.

Barbara Gordon who had earlier retired as Batgirl would be permanently crippled as a result. Originally Alan Moore had intended the Killing Joke to be a one off, outside of DC canon, but DC would incorporate it into the New Earth timeline nonetheless. Barbara Gordon would still continue to appear regularly however, as the character of Oracle, a computer expert and skilled hacker. Ironically as Oracle Barbara would go on to have greater significance than she ever did as Batgirl.

Later that same year the Joker would be responsible for another tragedy in Batman’s life in the mini series Death in the Family. Here the Joker murdered the second Robin, Jason Todd in cold blood. Todd had replaced Dick Grayson in 1983. Though popular at first, the character’s more aggressive personality quickly caused readers to turn on him, so much so that in the final panels of Death in the Family, readers were given a choice to vote on Robin’s death or survival, with readers ultimately choosing to kill him.

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The Joker’s murder of Jason Todd, the Second Robin, as voted for by contemporary readers.

These stories, combined with the 1989 Batman movie, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as Batman, and Jack Nicholson as the Joker; helped to cement the darker portrayal of Batman in popular culture.

From this point on Batman would always be depicted as a darker, more violent, tortured anti hero, paranoid, untrustworthy and in some ways as disturbed as many of the villains he faces.

The Modern Age

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Throughout the 90s Batman would continue to enjoy new levels of popularity. Burton’s Batman film had been a record breaking success and a bigger cultural phenomenon than even the 66 series. The character would go on to enjoy greater success in animation with the classic Batman the Animated Series which would kick off the entire DC Animated Universe. Much like the Burton movie, the DCAU would treated the source material seriously. The DCAU would also influence the comics themselves, just like the 66 Batman series.

The character of Harley Quinn, Jokers sidekick and lover who first appeared in Batman the Animated series would later be incorporated into the comic books, becoming one of Batman’s most recognisable enemies in popular culture. Another character from the DCAU who would later be incorporated into the comics would be Terry McGinness, the second Batman.

McGinness was introduced in the series Batman Beyond, which was set 50 years into the future. McGinness was originally a street hoodlum who would stumble upon the Batcave after Bruce Wayne helped save him from the Jokerz Gang. Terry would later steal the Bat suit to avenge his fathers murder, and though Bruce disapproved of his actions at first, Bruce would later take Terry on as his protege, training him to be the new Batman proper.

It would later be revealed that Terry McGiness was in fact Bruce Wayne’s biological son.

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The second Batman, Terry McGiness. Despite his popularity, Terry would not be incorporated into the mainstream comics until 2014 with the new 52 crossover series.

In 1993 one of Batman’s most iconic enemies, Bane would be introduced in the Nightfall arc. Bane would be responsible for breaking the Dark Knights back. For the first time someone other than Bruce Wayne, Jean Paul Valley would be forced to don the suit until Bruce Wayne was able to recover.

Batman would continue to enjoy further acclaim with the No Man’s Land and Hush story arcs, both of which would go on to influence further stories and adaptations.

21st century

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Throughout the first decade of the 21st century Batman would continue to enjoy mainstream success due to the Christopher Nolan trilogy, which reached its peak with The Dark Knight, the second entry in the series. The Nolan trilogy presented audiences with a more realistic, gritty interpretation of the Caped Crusader than any before.

Despite Batman’s popularity however, DC would seemingly kill the New Earth version of Batman in 2008 in the major crossover story Infinite Crisis. Batman seemingly died in action against Superman’s enemy Darkseid, with Dick Grayson taking his place as the new Batman, and Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son taking over as the new Robin.

It would later be revealed however that Batman had simply been sent backwards in time by Darkseid’s Omega beams, and Bruce Wayne would make his return in 2010. Just over a year later however the New Earth Batman’s adventures would come to an end in 2011 when DC rebooted its titles with the New 52 crossover series.

Since 2011 DC has followed the Batman of Prime Earth’s adventures, though as the full multiverse has been restored then the Batmen of Earth One, and New Earth now both still exist, as does the Huntress of Earth 2.

As of the writing of this article Batman still maintains a large presence in popular culture, and with no signs of slowing down its doubtless that we will continue to see more adventures from the Batman of Earth Prime and dozens of other universes for decades to come.

In the next entry of the series we will examine the influences on Batman and the influence the character has had on popular culture.

 

 

My Favourite Heroes: Batman: Part 1: Why Do We Love Batman

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Batman is arguably the most popular superhero of all time. Originally created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939 for National Comics (later known as DC Comics.) Batman is a masked crime fighter who operates in Gotham, a city rife with corruption and crime.

Batman’s civlian identity is billionaire Bruce Wayne, who uses his vast wealth to fund his crime fighting career. He has no actual super powers of his own and instead relies on his gadgets, and fighting and deduction skills to tackle criminals.

Bruce Wayne is motivated to fight crime by a personal tragedy from his past. At the age of 8, Bruce’s parents were gunned down in front of him by a mugger. Vowing to never let the same thing happen again to anyone else, Bruce honed his body and mind to become the perfect crime fighter. He adopted the mantel of the bat to strike fear into the hearts of “cowardly and superstitious” criminals.

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Over the decades Batman has amassed a large array of colorful villains and supporting characters. The most notable of his enemies is the evil, psycopathic clown, the Joker, whilst his most famous sidekick is Robin, the Boy Wonder. Much like Batman, the various versions of Robin over the years have often been inspired to fight crime due to the loss of their parents.

Over the decades Batman has been adapted to film, television, animation, video games and even a broadway musical. He has managed to conquer just about all mediums and is alongside Superman one of the two quintessential comic book characters, though recent decades have seen him arguably eclipse even the Man of Steel in popularity.

In spite of the recent record breaking success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no individual Marvel character can match Batman’s dominance in popular culture either. The only Marvel movies that have been able to match or eclipse the most successful Batman films, such at the Burton Batman, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises in terms of commercial success and cultural impact are the Avengers movies; which feature multiple Marvel heroes (practically an entire universe’s worth in Endgame.)

There are many reasons for Batman’s enduring popularity which we will explore in this article as we look at why we love the Caped Crusader.

First and foremost Batman has one of the most effective designs of any hero. He has a strong outline that is instantly recognisable, even in a crude drawing.

Batman’s design also in comparison to other heroes such as Superman and Spider-Man has a more menacing and dangerous aspect that instantly draws you in. Spider-Man’s costume is just to conceal his identity, whilst Batman’s is designed to strike fear into his enemies hearts, which lets you know more about the man underneath.

At times Batman can look even more frightening than the criminals he catches. This can best be seen in the opening to the classic Batman the animated series where the Dark Knight drops from the sky like a Demon and pounces on several helpless criminals.

At the same time however Batman’s design is not without its colourful and appealing aspects too. With a little readjusting, some versions of Batman can look as friendly and as colourful as your average superhero.

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As a result Batman can still be a character kids can dress up as, can still be slapped on lunch boxes and turned into a toy. His design is the perfect balance of being inherently more fearsome than the average superhero look, but not actively monstrous so that children are too scared to even look at him.

Batman despite his status as a millionare was also somewhat more of an underdog than other super heroes. Whilst the likes of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and even Superman regularly face enemies that are more powerful than they are, Batman in a way is always vulnerable due to his lack of super powers.

Even when facing ordinary muggers, though the Batman can often easily take them down, there is still a chance that he can be killed. (One issue of The Brave and the Bold does see Batman get shot and killed by an ordinary crime lord, only to be revived by the Atom who literally runs around his body fast enough to revive his brain stem!)

Batman’s motivation for fighting crime was also perhaps somewhat more flawed, yet more human than many of his contemporary superheroes, all of whom fought crime simply because it was the right thing to do. Batman in contrast arguably fought crime more because he wanted revenge. He does still ultimately want to see justice carried out, but there are times where you wonder if Batman cares more about doing what’s right, or simply getting back at the criminals who took his parents.

In these respects, Batman’s more flawed personality and greater vulnerability compared to the rest of DC’s rooster made him more of a precursor to the later Marvel heroes than any other DC character.

Batman’s tragic origins also give him a tremendous edge over other comic book or even genre characters. Sadly comic books even with the popularity of the MCU are still somewhat looked down as childish and silly. Obviously I am not going to deny that a lot of comic book stories are primarily aimed at children. Still ultimately comic books are a medium, not a genre, and there is no reason they can’t be used to tell adult stories, or even just stories that can be enjoyed by adults as well as children.

Characters like Superman, Spider-Man, or the X-Men are no more ridiculous or fanciful than characters like Robin Hood, King Arthur or Hercules. If the likes of Hercules and Robin Hood can appear in both childish and more mature stories then so can any classic comic book hero like Wonder Woman or Iron Man. Its just complete snobbery to suggest otherwise.

Sadly however the stigma does exist, but Batman was perhaps always able to overcome it to some extent, by having one of the most tragic origins of any popular hero. Its not just a question of Batman loses his parents. He sees them die right in front of him, when he is utterly helpless as a child, and in the most brutal way possible.

Even the most skeptical critic of comic books has to acknowledge the potential for drama in Batman’s origins. Superman in contrast loses his entire planet, which though effective, is not something that anyone can really imagine. To those who aren’t sci fi fans and used to larger than life stories and concepts, it might come off as being too fanciful. (Superman also never knew anything about his planet either having been sent away as an infant.)

Wonder Woman’s origin’s from an island where women have isolated themselves from men meanwhile can come over extremely goofy if not handled delicately. Other superheroes origins tend to be linked to larger than life scenarios of being caught in an accident and gaining superpowers, like the Hulk or the Fantastic Four, or the Flash. Again to those who aren’t interested in sci fi, it might be easy to dismiss these origin stories as being too over the top.

Spider-Man does have an element of tragedy in his origin through the death of his Uncle Ben (which he is partly resonsible for), but even then Uncle Ben’s death is not quite as brutal and up front as Batman. Spider-Man at least doesn’t actually see his Uncle Ben’s murder happen before him, and he is a lot older and can process it better. When you’re a child your entire world revolves around your parents.

Even most other folk heroes don’t have quite the same level of tragedy to their origins as Batman. Sherlock Holmes for instance is just a lovable eccentric. Robin Hood in most versions is just a skilled archer. The Doctor meanwhile in Classic Who was an eccentric scientist who wanted to explore, whilst New Who attempted to give him a tragic origin of his planet being destroyed, which again is too large a tragedy for viewers to comprehend.

With Batman everyone can imagine themselves in his position to some extent. Sadly those who have lost parents or loved ones as a child can relate to the feelings of loss Bruce experiences, whilst even those who haven’t can still imagine the horror of losing people so important to them. Finally Batman’s origins aren’t linked to aliens, or monsters or super powers. Its a very real human tragedy that befalls Bruce, and the monster responsible is an ordinary human too.

These scenes alone destroy the myth that comic books can never be used to tell stories with more depth to them, as the tragic origins for Batman were present in the very earliest Batman strips.

Another key reason for Batman’s enduring popularity is his massive rogues gallery.

Batman’s most iconic enemies are not just colorful and exciting characters in their own right. Many of of his most prominent villains present Batman with a unique kind of challenge, and as whole they span different genres which in turn gives Batman a broader appeal.

The Joker, Batman’s archnemesis is essentially a horror movie character. He was based visually on the title character from a classic horror movie “The Man Who Laughs”. (This character Gwynplaine was ironically not evil. He was a tragic character whose mouth had been cut into the shape of a grin as a boy. Still his terrifying visage would prove an inspiration to the Joker.)

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Whilst some versions of the Joker attempted to downplay the horror aspects of the character (out of fear of frightening children.) Others have positively revelled in it, and given the Joker a much more gruesome and terrifying appearance.

Examples of this include the Heath Ledger version of the character who had a Glasgow smile carved into his face, or the proto Joker, Jerome Valeska from Gotham whose face was cut off and then later stapled back on, only to be punched off by Commissioner Gordon!

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The Joker is the precursor to all monster clowns from popular culture such as Pennywise.

No matter what the version, the Joker is always depicted as a thoroughly iredeemable character. In some interpretations the Joker is given a more sympathetic backstory such as the Killing Joke, whilst others such as the Tim Burton movie, and the DCAU depict him as having always been a ruthless mobster who was simply pushed further into madness. Some depict him as a mysterious character whose origins are shrouded in mystery which in some ways makes him more frightening.

Whatever his reason for going insane, the Joker always presents Batman with the biggest challenge simply because of how evil he is. There is no low the villain won’t stoop too and Batman is often pushed to his limits not just by the threat of the Joker, but in whether or not he will have to actually commit murder to stop him.

One of the Jokers most heinous crimes, the crippling of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in front of her father Commissioner Gordon who he later attempts to drive insane by showing pictures of Barbara’s bleeding, naked body.

Its no surprise that the Joker is the villain Batman and Robin have killed the most in other adaptations. Examples include in Batman 1989, where Batman throws the villain to his death from a building, an Elseworlds comic called The Nail, where Batman beats the Joker to death after the Joker uses stolen alien technology to flay Batgirl and Robin alive right in front of a captive Batman.

Finally in Batman Beyond Return of the Joker, Robin shoots the villain through the heart (after enduring months of torture at the Jokers hands until he was driven insane and turned into the Jokers twisted idea of a son, Little J.)

Even more surprising is that Batman and Robin have almost always killed the Joker not in self defence, but out of revenge! Whilst the earliest comics did feature Batman killing his enemies, this aspect of his character was dropped very early on, (though a few versions have returned to it.) Generally speaking Batman never kills, and if he does its almost always in self defence.

The Joker is the only villain that can push almost any version of Batman to murder out of sheer rage. For this reason confronations between Batman and the Joker are always the more exciting than those with any of his other foes. I’d actually go as far as to argue that Batman and the Joker have the most intense and exciting feud of any two characters.

Almost any combination of Batman and the Joker is guaranteed to be exciting. We have seen the Joker confront Bruce Wayne as an ordinary civilian, Batman encounter a pre Joker, Jack Napier in the Burton movie, Batman and the Joker fight each other as the only two non super powered beings in a team full of aliens, gods and metahumans in Justice League. We’ve also seen the two face each other as old men in Frank Millers The Dark Knight Returns, and finally even as teenagers in Gotham, via Bruce Wayne and Jerome.

Any variation of these two characters is a winning combination as their core personalities are so strong they shine through at any age and in any situation.

The two have also been depicted as everything from warring brothers in Gotham, to love rivals in the 89 Batman, (in the Jokers twisted mind) to father figures battling it out over a son in Batman Beyond Return of the Joker (again in the Jokers mind) to representatives of two warring ideaologies in The Dark Knight.

There’s no other villain/hero combination that can be cast into quite as many different combinations and be just as effective each time. Holmes and Moriarty for instance could not be recast as teenagers, neither could the Doctor or the Master. The original Green Goblin, Norman Osborne, meanwhile could never be made the same age as Peter Parker. He only works as a middle aged or older man, whilst the Harry Osborne version similarly has to be younger like Spider-Man.

Superman and Luthor do work in many different roles too, but even then they lack quite the same viciousness that the Joker and Batman do in most of their confrontations. There have been some classic Luthor/Superman showdowns, and in one instance in the Justice League animated series Superman was even driven to kill Lex in an alternate universe. Still generally speaking we won’t see as many gritty confrontations between the two where Superman cuts out Luthors eye, or punches his face off!

Batman and the Joker are perhaps the greatest example of the archenemy trope, and the Joker overall has to stand as one of the most nightmarish and frightening villains of all time.

In complete contrast to the Joker is Mr Freeze. Freeze is more of a sci fi character than the Joker. He is a classic mad scientist, who is mutated in a lab accident and turned into an ice man. Whilst originally introduced as nothing more than a goofy B-movie character, the animated series gave him a tragic origin which was later incorporated into the comics.

Here Freeze was depicted as a loving husband who simply sought revenge against Ferris Boyle, a ruthless businessman who was responsible for the accident that not only turned Freeze into a monster, but also seemingly killed his beloved wife Norah.

Unlike with his other enemies, Batman can actually empathise with Freeze. Both lost people they cared about, and both initially sought to kill the monster responsible. However whilst Batman never went as far as Freeze who was willing to hurt innocent people, ultimately Batman lost less. Freeze didn’t just lose his wife, but his ability to ever have a normal life as well. In this respect Batman doesn’t judge Freeze the way he would his other enemies and feels genuinely sorry for him.

Ra’s Al Ghul, often regarded as Batman’s archenemy after the Joker is a totally different type of villain yet again. Ghul is a fantasy character. He is a warlord who has been kept alive by exposure to magic pits, known as the Lazarus Pits for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. He and his League of Assassins have helped shape human history, and the character is the biggest threat of all of Batman’s enemies. His endgame is often to use the Lazarus pits to destroy most of human civilisation and then rebuild it from scratch.

Ra’s is also a match for Batman in every way. He is as skilled a detective (and is able to deduce Batman’s secret identity before he even meets him) and he can match him in physical combat as well, unlike most of Batman’s other enemies.

Despite all of this however Ra’s is somewhat more sympathetic than say the Joker. Though he is a far bigger threat, Ra’s does at least have a code of honour, and genuinely respects and admires Batman.

A classic example of the key differences between Ra’s and the Joker can be seen in the animated movie, Under the Red Hood. Here Ra’s hires the Joker to distract Batman. The Joker however naturally goes too far and brutally tortures Robin to death with a crowbarr. Ra’s is so overwhelmed with guilt, that he engineers Robin’s resurrection with the Lazarus Pit and vows to never cause trouble for Batman or Gotham again to make amends for his role in the boys death.

Ra’s reveals his shame to Batman at having caused the pointless death of an innocent child through working with the Joker.

Ra’s Al Ghul gave Batman a new type of enemy in every way. He brought in magic and the supernatural to the franchise to a greater extent than ever before. He was an enemy that on the one hand was a global threat (and even regularly took Batman out of Gotham) yet on the other was actually capable of showing clemency and even respect to the Batman.

Two Face meanwhile represents another totally different type of enemy. Two Face is a more low level gangster, but has a deeper personal connection to Batman. In all versions Two Face was once a close friend of Batman, before being horribly scarred down one side of his face.

Batman has more of a vested interest in rehabilitating Two Face and carries a tremendous sense of guilt at not being able to help his friend.

 

The Scarecrow presents yet another type of challenge to the Batman. The Scarecrow’s main weapon, a special kind of gas that makes people see their worst fears gives us a deeeper insight into Batman’s personality than any of his interactions with other villains.

The Scarecrow’s fear gas makes Batman see his worst nightmare.

The Scarecrow was able to attack Batman in a more psychological way than any of his other enemies.

The Riddler presents a more comical enemy for the Batman. Though some portrayals have been darker such as in Gotham, the Riddler is generally depicted in a more humorous way. His entire gimmick and persona is ripe for comedy.

Here we have a man so insecure about his own intelligence that he has to prove his superiority to Batman by giving away vital clues to his crimes, which he could probably carry out otherwise successfully. There’s plenty of humour that can be exploited from his ridiculous Riddles, his stupidity in giving away clues, and his own neurosis at proving he is smarter than Batman (which always blows up in his face in humiliating ways.)

The Penguin meanwhile as an enemy is a return to Batman’s roots as a crime fighter. He is an ordinary gangster overall. No super powers, no plans for world domination, no desire to prove his genius to Batman or Gotham. He is a much more practical villain and one who can be used, despite his flamboyant nature, for grittier more down to earth stories.

Penguin stories have involved wars between crime families, and corruption in high places. The 60s series and Gotham both featured the Penguin running for Mayor. (As did Batman Returns which featured a more monstrous version of the character.) The character is also often depicted as presenting himself as an honest night club owner, who uses his wealth to cover his tracks. Batman often isn’t able to simply arrest the Penguin as easily as his other enemies.

Once again the Penguin not only represents a different challenge to Batman, of a villain who can cover his tracks, rather than flaunts them, but he covers a different genre too; with the Penguin allowing Batman to star in more traditional crime stories.

Bane on the other hand represents yet another type of challenge to Batman. Bane is able to bring Batman to his knees. Ra’s Al Ghul was a match for the Batman, but Bane completely dominates the dark knight and humiliates him in combat. We aren’t used to seeing Batman in such a vulnerable position physically. Despite his lack of powers, Batman is usually able to thrash his enemies in combat easily. Most of Batman’s enemies don’t even try to fight him one on one because they know it would be pointless.

Bane on the other hand laughs at Batman’s attempts to frighten him before delivering the most humilating and painful curbstomp to the Dark Knight.

Its a testament to how strong a character Bane was that he could emerge in such a well established rogues gallery and become so prominent in such a short space of time.

Finally the Catwoman represents yet another type of enemy with a completely different relationship with Batman. Catwoman is in love with Batman and therefore takes the Batman universe into the realm of romantic fiction. Batman and Catwoman are undoubtly one of the most famous modern love stories.

Catwoman is also the only one of Batman’s enemies who is not evil at all. In fact in many stories Catwoman has even helped Batman take on a greater threat, such as in The Dark Knight Rises, where Catwoman actually kills Bane just as he is about to finish the Batman and helps the Caped Crusader save Gotham.

Still most of the time Catwoman is on the wrong side of the law. Whilst her crimes are less vicious than say the Joker or Penguin, she is ironically a greater match for Batman physically than most other villains. She can also ironically hurt Batman in some ways more because she is closer to him.

An example of this can be seen in The Dark Knight Rises when Catwoman betrays Batman to Bane, or in Batman Returns when Bruce is devastated to discover that the same woman he has fallen in love with, also helped to frame him for murder!

Over the decades Batman and Catwoman’s relationship has gone through many significant changes, from enemies, to frenemies, to lovers, to finally even husband and wife.

The earth 2 versions of Batman and Catwoman (who were the original versions) got married in the 70s, and even had a child, Helena Wayne.

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Batman and Catwoman’s getting married.

Helena Wayne would later become the heroine known as The Huntress following her mothers death.

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Its sad how little known the Huntress, an engaging hero in her own right, and the daughter of two of the most famous fictional characters of all time is. I guess having famous parents isn’t always a guarantee for fame.

Catwoman has certainly shown us a different side to the Batman than villains like The Penguin ever possibly could. Through his relationship with the Catwoman we have not only seen a more romantic side to the Batman, but we’ve also seen him question his devotion to the law, suffer heartache, become a devoted husband and later a loving father!

When you look at the major villains from most other heroes rogues galleries you won’t find as much variety in terms of genres or the different type of threats they pose to the hero.

Take Spider-Man for instance. Spider-Man has one of the greatest rogues galleries of any hero, but ultimately most of Spidey’s enemies are rooted in sci fi as opposed to Batman’s who cover everything from horror, to sci fi, to crime, to romance, to psychological thrillers, to spy and espionage stories. Many of Spidey’s enemies are also experiments gone wrong, such as the Lizard, Morbius, Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, etc. Others are ordinary men with access to hi tech weapons or a super powered suit like the Hobgoblin, The Vulture, Mysterio, Chamelion, Shocker, Rhino, Scorpion etc.

There are some villains who don’t fit the mould. Kingpin is not a sci fi villain, nor is Kraven the Hunter. Still ultimately the villains all mostly threaten Spider-Man in the same way. The Scorpion, Rhino, Doc Ock, Carnage, Shocker, Electro, Hobgoblin are all a danger to him from a purely physical point of view. In contrast, very few of Batman’s enemies like the Joker, the Penguin or the Scarecrow can threaten Batman physically. Instead they all have to find their own unique ways to threaten the Batman.

Spider-Man’s relationship with his various enemies are for the most part straight forward. He tends to view the likes of Kingpin, Shocker, Electro, Hobgoblin etc as just villains. There are no villains who respect him like Ra’s Al Ghul, who he feels sorry for like Mr Freeze, who he is love with like Catwoman etc. (Black Cat who has often been compared to Catwoman is not an enemy of Spider-Man’s)

There are a few of Spider-Man’s enemies who find unique ways to challenge him and have a more unique dynamic. Venom knows more about the wall crawler than anyone else, Harry Osborne much like Two Face was once one of his friends, whilst Norman is the father of his best friend. Carnage meanwhile much like the Joker pushes Spider-Man to his limits because of how evil he is.

Still overall Spider-Man’s enemies to tend to fit into a pattern, and cover similar themes more than the Batman’s enemies do.

Similarly most of Superman’s enemies are rooted in sci fi and most of them are simply his enemies too. Luthor who in some interpretations is his former friend aside, there are no villains like Mr Freeze or Ra’s Al Ghul in Superman’s rogues gallery that he can genuinely respect and even have empathy for.

The Doctor meanwhile similarly though having one of the greatest rogues galleries, his enemies tend to fit a pattern more than Batman’s too. The Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, and the Ice Warriors, though all unique characters, still all fit the role of alien invaders, all dedicated to their cause above their own individual lives; whilst his single enemies such as Davros, the Master etc, tend to be megolamaniacal would be conquerors.

The Doctor similarly views all of his enemies with contempt. There are no villains that he could be said to have affection or sympathy for. (The 21st century version of Doctor Who did try and have the Doctor develop affection for the Master, but it was very clumsily handled and ended up making the Doctor look like a total hypocrite. The Master historically is a totally ireedemable villain on a par with the Joker, so to have the Doctor who normally kills his enemies go easy on him undermined both characters. I’d go as far as to say how the revival handled the Master was arguably the single weakest aspect of the revival.)

Ultimately there is more variety among Batman’s enemies in terms of the genres they touch upon, the type of threat they pose to the Dark Knight, and their relationships with the hero which range from respect, to neurotic obsession, to empathy, to love, to seething hatred.

The large variety of Batman’s enemies ultimately represents what I feel is the single most important aspect of Batman’s enduring popularity. His versatility.

Batman can be incorporated into a larger variety of stories than any other superhero. In fact I’d argue that Batman can be incorporated into a larger variety of different stories than any other hero, save the Doctor and Xena (who we’ll be examining in later editions of this series.)

Batman can flourish in both drama and comedy. His tragic origins as we have seen can give the character a real sense of gravitas and dramatic integrity.

At the same time however Batman’s ultra serious nature, coupled with his larger than life qualities make him just as ideal for comedy. All superheroes if not handled right can seem silly. (They are by their very nature very over the top.)

Still Spider-Man and many other Marvel heroes have a sense of humour, which gives them a greater self awareness when placed into comedic situations.

Batman on the other hand is totally serious. Whilst some versions may have a more sarcastic streak, generally speaking Batman takes everything completely seriously, which makes it all the more hilarious when he is placed into a ridiculous situation.

This was the key to the Adam West Batman’s massive success. West played his part seriously. At no point did he ever acknowledge how ridiculous he looked, even when he was being pelted with fish by the Joker, or using Shark repellent Bat spray!West always made sure the character had no self awareness.

How many characters could star in two such radically different scenes and remain largely unchanged? West’s Batman at his core is ultimately the same character in that he is just as devoted to fighting crime, takes his job just as seriously, and in his own universe is just as competent.

The comedy in Batman also has a very broad range too. Some of the comedy can be very camp as seen with West whilst a lot of the comedy can also be very dark.

Black comedy has actually always been one of Batman’s strengths. Growing up the Joker was always one of my favourite characters because he could do the most horrible things and make me laugh at them.

This scene from an 80s comic called “Dreadful Birthday Dear Joker” I think demonstrates the strength of the black comedy in Batman better than any other.

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Your favourite characters 1314015_original

Jack Nicholson himself said that the Jokers sick humour more was what attracted him to the role, and indeed it ended up becoming the defining and most praised aspect of his performance.

Its not just with the Joker however that there is potential for black comedy.

The Penguin, the Riddler, even more obscure Batman villains such as the Professor Pyg can all be amusing and vicious at the same time.

As Batman and his villains are such extreme characters then the comedy involved with all characters can be as outrageous as it wants.

Arguably the real key to Batman’s versatility is his lack of super powers. Batman can be placed into almost any type of perilious situation because he can be vulnerable enough when need be, yet thanks to his gadgets and fighting skills Batman can still keep up with actual super heroes.

Batman can star in gritty crime stories. He has a real motivation to deal with ordinary, street level threats, and unlike Wonder Woman or Superman, or even Spider-Man who can all deal with criminals in a second. Batman is always still vulnerable to ordinary criminals to an extent.

One of the best Batman stories of all time is Night of the Stalker. This comic sees the Caped Crusader track a group of ordinary muggers who murder a young boys parents in front of him, through the woods outside Gotham.

The story shows Batman at his most vicious in his relentless pursuit of the crooks. In certain moments you wonder if Batman is actually going to kill the criminals. The papers even refer to him as “savage Batman” the next day. Batman is also drawn to be much more menacing and forboding in this story too.

At the same time however we also see Batman at his most vulnerable in this story too. For all his years of crime figthting and trying to make Gotham a better place, Batman ultimately fails to stop another young boy from enduring the same tragedy he swore no one else would ever have to go through and it almost breaks him. We even see Batman cry during two parts of the story.

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You simply could not do Night of the Stalker with Superman, or even Spider-Man. They’d take care of the crooks in 5 seconds with their powers. Neither would have quite the emotional gravitas when dealing with just simple criminals either.

At the same time however there are elements of sci fi in Batman’s character. Batman’s famous Batcave alone features advanced technology that strays into science fiction territory. One of Batman’s most famous trophies is a gigantic robot Tyrannosaurus Rex!

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Many of Batman’s most iconic enemies are sci fi characters. Mr Freeze, Manbat, Clayface, The Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Doctor Hugo Strange etc. Some of his supporting cast are sci fi characters too. The Huntress, Batman’s daughter comes from an alternate universe, Earth 2 where he married Catwoman. His other child, Terry McGuiness, who becomes the second Batman (and is mentored by an elderly Bruce) comes from the far future and lives in a complete sci fi environment of robots, hover cars, mutants and aliens!

Some of the most celebrated Batman stories are rooted in sci fi such as Heart of Ice, or Batman Beyond Return of the Joker.

Batman has also become a prominent sci fi character through his association with the Justice League, one of the first superhero teams. As a member of the Justice League Batman has helped to battle alien invaders, travelled to other universes, and faced gigantic killed robots!

At a first glance Batman who lacks any kind of superpowers may seem like a bad fit for the Justice League, a team that consists of the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, the Martian Manhunter etc. Batman however again is able to overcompensate through his scientific genius and deduction skills. He is often able to work out the villains plan, key weakness or hideout first, he supplies the League with their technology, and his gadgets and fighting skills can allow him to go toe to toe with super powered characters. (Which he does regularly in Gotham with characters like Mr Freeze or Manbat.)

A classic example of this can be seen in the Justice League cartoons where Batman is the one who brings down the alien invaders known as the Imperium. The Imperium’s technology is able to cancel out the Leagues super powers, but Batman is able to deduce their weakness, sunlight, and reprograms their machine that blocks out the sun.

Horror and fantasy meanwhile are just as important a part of Batman’s character. Visually Batman drew from classic horror characters like Dracula, whilst Gotham itself always had a gothic look of large forboding cathedrals, creepy looking gargoyles.

The original two Tim Burton Batman movies play out more like old classic, Universal horror movies than anything else, just as much as the Nolan movies embrace the gritty crime fighter elements, and Return of the Joker embraces the sci fi elements.

From the very beginning Batman faced supernatural creatures. One of his earliest recurring enemies was the Mad Monk, a hypnotic Vampire who attempted to sire Batman’s then fiance Julie Madison. Ra’s Al Ghul of course would later bring fantasy straight into the heart of the Batman mythos for all time. Another of Batman’s major enemies with a supernatural twist is Solomon Grundy, a Zombie of a gangster dumped in a mystical swamp outside of Gotham.

Various other Batman stories and adaptations have dealt with the dead being brought back to life such as Gotham and Under the Red Hood.

Batman can also be used for great love stories too. The fact that he is such a closed off, tortured character allows his love stories to be somewhat more intense and tragic. Unlike Spider-Man or Superman, Batman doesn’t want a normal life. He doesn’t want to juggle having a wife and kids with fighting criminals (earlier stories did give him a fiance, but she was quickly written out and the character has remained single more or less since. Whilst he’s had his love interests, there has never been a constant figure in his life like Mary Jane or Lois Lane.)

Batman wants to only focus fighting crime, so if he meets someone who might actually take his mind off his mission then things are going to be more complicated for Batman than they’d be for your average hero in love.

This scene from the Mask of the Phantasm shows Bruce Wayne who has recently fallen in love apologise to his dead parents for taking his mind off of his mission to avenge them. The tragic irony is that they would both have rather their son move on and have a happy life instead.

Batman’s love stories will almost always end in tragedy in some way due to his reluctance to give up on his duties. Even the earth 2 version of Catwoman sadly met a grissly end, though this trend was seemingly broken at the end of The Dark Knight Rises which featured Bruce Wayne and Catwoman eloping to Europe to (hopefully) live a happy life together.

Batman as a character is extremely adaptable overall.

Most superheroes can’t star in gritty crime stories like Night of the Stalker, whilst at the same time most heroes without super powers can’t go on the fantastical adventures Batman does.

Robin Hood can’t stop an alien invasion. Sherlock Holmes similarly can’t star in an adventure where he travels to another universe and stops his evil counterpart from destroying every universe.

Batman meanwhile did in Justice League on Two Earths, which features Owlman, an evil version of Batman who travels to the original world that all universes sprung from. Owlman attempts eliminate all of creation by destroying earth prime, believing it to be the only decision that would matter, as all other decisions have been played out in the multiverse, only for Batman to face him in a one on one duel for the sake of every universe!

And Batman thought the Joker was crazy!

Even other comic book characters without powers such as Green Arrow are not quite as adaptable as Batman. Green Arrow does not possess the scientific genius Batman does, and his gadgets are not quite as advanced as Batman’s. Its one thing to have some fancy arrows, its another to have a cave full of fighter jets, and robot T-Rex’s. Sci fi and fantasy generally don’t have as much of a place in Green Arrow’s world. When Arrow, the live action version of Green Arrow attempted to bring in magic and have the character take on a global threat it was met with a negative response. Many fans and critics felt that it was straying too far from the purpose of the show, and so later versions brought the character down to earth.

Daredevil similarly can only fight street level thugs. You couldn’t imagine Daredevil single handedly bringing down an alien invasion like Batman either.

Batman’s lack of powers, coupled with his scientific genius and gadgets allow him to star in the widest range of stories from crime noir, to sci fi, to horror, to fantasy. For this reason Batman naturally appeals to much wider audiences than almost any other superhero. There’s everything you could want in a Batman’s story comedy, drama, horror, even romance and that among other reasons is why Batman is so beloved.

In the next article we will be taking a look at the history of Batman.

 

Why Doctor Omega Should Be Adapted As A TV Series

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Doctor Omega is a 1903 science fiction novel by the French author Arnould Calopin. It revolves around a mysterious alien professor who goes under the alias of Doctor Omega. The Doctors real name and identity are never revealed throughout the book and not much of his backstory is given either. All we do know is that Doctor Omega and his grand daughter Suzane are in exile from their people. Though very few details about Doctor Omega’s race are given in the story, we do know that they have discovered and mastered time travel.

Doctor Omega (who is often just referred to as the Doctor) settles in France where he attempts to build a new type of time machine from a strange type of metal called Stellite. His experiments soon draw the attention of his neighbour, the creative and sensitive Denis Borel.

Omega is only too happy to let Denis in on his experiments, and after the time vessel which the Doctor christens “The Cosmos” is built. He invites Denis and a large hulking man named Fred to join him on an adventure into the past.

The three travel to Mars thousands of years before its destruction, landing straight in the middle of the Martian ocean. There they encounter gigantic whale like monsters and a race of hostile, reptillian Mermen. They soon reach the land where they encounter giant, Elephantine monsters, hostile gnome like aliens and intelligent, but poisonous plant life.

Travelling further inward they encounter a valley full of giant snake monsters and large bat like humanoids. Eventually the trio reach an advanced city of gnome like creatures who abduct the Doctor and his companions. The Gnomes, who are at war with a similar race, discover that the Stellite used to build the Cosmos is capable of deflecting their enemies weapons and cannibalise the ship to create shields to win the war.

Omega and the others are kept prisoner even after the war by the victorious Martian race, but with help from a friendly Martian named Tiziraou; Omega is able to contact his grand daughter Suzane, using a space time telegraph. Suzane in turn is able to contact another renegade of their people, Professor Helvetius who subsequently rescues the three time travellers from Mars in a craft similar to the Cosmos.

The ending of the story sees Doctor Omega build another space time machine to go on more adventures with Denis, Fred and Tiziraou who they take on as a companion.

When it was first released Doctor Omega proved to be a huge hit, but it quickly fell into obscurity for 100 years. Eventually in 2003 the book would be rediscovered, re-released and translated into English for the first time for Doctor Who’s 40th anniversary. This edition included more direct references to Doctor Who (including Sonic Screwdrivers.) As well as a foreward by Terrance Dicks, a former Doctor Who script editor.

Doctor Omega would develop something of a small cult following and more stories featuring the character would be released for Black Coated Press. These stories which featured the good Doctor meeting other famous fictional characters would eventually be collected as an anthology book called Doctor Omega and the Shadowmen.

Naturally many fans and critics have considered Doctor Omega as a possible influence on Doctor Who. The similarities are quite staggering. Even physically Doctor Omega resembles the first Doctor, as played by William Hartnell. Both have long flowing white hair, a stick, wear a long flowing cape etc.

Ultimately however Doctor Omega has never been mentioned as an influence on Doctor Who by anyone involved in the creation of the series and the book was never released outside of France prior to 2003, so it seems most likely the similarities between the two characters is coincidental.

Nevertheless Doctor Omega can be seen as Doctor Who’s literary predecessor regardless and as a result I think people have tended to overlook the character of Doctor Omega. Naturally when people think of writing about a time travelling alien, then its Doctor Who they go to. Still there is value in the Doctor Omega story in its own right and now I think the time is better than ever for the character to step out of the shadows, as now Doctor Omega can fill the void left by the absence of true Doctor Who.

For the past few years Doctor Who has gone down a very bad path. From the Peter Capaldi era onwards it began to pander to the regressive left. Now I myself would identify as left wing. I support the Welfare state, the NHS, legalising cannabis, I’m pro choice and I support gay marriage and gay couples rights to adopt children.

That said however I feel the modern day left has been taken over by upper middle class career socialists who simply want to use left wing politics to further their own careers, or foster their own prejudices against white men, and white people in general.

I’m all for stronger roles for women and minorities, but the regressive left it seems care more about attacking or replacing roles for men than they do in building women up.

If you are interested I have written many articles which cover the sad decline of the revival of Doctor Who due to pandering to the regressive left on this blog, but I don’t want to get bogged down in this argument again. If you disgaree with me, please take it to the articles I have written on the subject.

Whilst the Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker eras represent the nadir of the entire franchise. If we’re being honest the 21st century version of Doctor Who was never the same show as the original, 1963-1989 version.

The original classic era Doctor Who was primarily a sci fi adventure show, with a focus on horror, monsters, high sci fi concepts, and derring do. The revival was always more of a soap opera series with a focus on romance, shipping, and making its audience cry at sad moments.

There hasn’t been a series in the style of the original since it finished in 1989. Some critics and so called Doctor Who fans would say that Classic Who is dated and therefore couldn’t be made for modern audiences.

Personally I think that is utter nonsense. Classic Who looks dated only because of its low budget effects and sets. Many of the ideas and concepts in the Classic series were actually decades ahead of their time, such as the Matrix in The Deadly Assassin, or the Cybermen who were complete precursors to the Borg.

The Classic era still holds up and always has. In 2017, Classic Doctor Who was the best selling science fiction series on DVD and Blue Ray in the world. (It was also the third best selling cult series on DVD and Blue Ray.)

Classic Who outsells New Who

If a series done in the style of Classic Who were released on a streaming service (which could allow for the stories to be longer) and had a decent budget then I think would be a hit. It would fill a void for both mainstream horror (which classic who often did) and sci fi.

Now ideally I’d love for this series to be Doctor Who, but sadly in the current climate that is not going to happen.  During the 90s when the show was off the air, Doctor Who was taken over by a fandom clique, who are often referred to as the Fitzroy Crowd (as they all used to congregate at the Fitzroy club.) The Fitzroy crowd includes the likes of Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, Chris Chibnall, Nicholas Briggs and Paul Cornell.

Almost all of the most prominent Doctor Who fiction of the past 20 years has been produced or at least overseen by members of the Fitzroy Crowd. Whenever one of the clique steps down from producing the main series, they make sure to hand it over to another member of the clique (as can be seen with the likes of Russell T Davies handing the show over to Steven Moffat, who then handed it over to Chris Chibnall.) All of the spin off material is also produced and written by this fandom incrowd too. The books, the comics and the audios etc.

The Fitzroy crowd have made it clear in the past that they have contempt for the style of the original. Though they do have a nostalgic affection for the classic series from when they were children, ultimately they don’t want to produce a similar series.

Examples of the Fitzroy crowd’s “love” for the original series.

At the same time the identitarians who hold the Doctor Who franchise in an iron grip, have no real love for the Classic era either. Take a look at the reviews from the new Time Team in Doctor Who magazine made up of notorious SJWs like Claudia Boleyn and Christel Dee. They regularly slag off the original series for supposedly being sexist, dated and gimmicky (which it never was.) All they care about is in turning the show into a propaganda piece for their own agendas.

Since these people hold all the sway at the BBC, don’t expect to see anything even resembling Classic Who for a long while.

Doctor Omega meanwhile is a public domain character. He is thankfully not in the shackles of the BBC or the Fitzroy crowd and you could do all the same types of adventures with Doctor Omega as you could with the classic era Doctor.

Omega has a machine that can travel to any planet at any point in time. Omega is a mysterious alien with a love of exploration. Omega can be caring and morally righteous, yet also quite ruthless too. He is both a level headed, practical, grandfatherly figure; and a fool hardy, reckless adventurer. All you’d have to change would be the name from the Doctor to Doctor Omega. (Even then Omega is often referred to as just the Doctor too.)

The Doctor Omega tv series would be to Doctor Who what The Orville was to Star Trek. The Star Trek franchise went through a similar bad patch to Doctor Who in the late 00s-late 10s. Like DW the focus of the Trek franchise was changed in an ill guided attempt to pander to modern audiences.

The original Trek series were always more philosophical, thoughtful and nuanced, whilst the J J Abrams trilogy of films were just generic action movies. (J J Abrams much like the Fitzroy Crowd expressed a contempt for the original Star Trek series, finding it slow and boring.)

Star Trek Discovery meanwhile, the most recent Trek television series was taken over by the same cancerous ideology as the Moffat and Chibnall era’s of Doctor Who. They also showed the same level of disrespect for established canon and beloved characters. (Just look at what Discovery and Moffat era Who did to the Master and Spock for instance.)

Fortunately however Seth McFarlane, the creator of Family Guy would produce (and star) in a series called The Orville, which was far closer to the original Star Trek series in tone and style. The Orville featured the same more thoughtful and nuanced stories of the original Star Trek series, as well as characters and concepts that were closer to the original Star Trek series.

The Orville is not a Star Trek series, but it has a similar premise of a future where humanity has become part of a galactic federation of planets, and a crew of humans and aliens go exploring on a ship through the universe.

Whilst critics were slow to warm to The Orville. It proved a huge hit with viewers and Star Trek fans and has recently been renewed for a third series.

The Orville has not only filled the Star Trek shaped hole in the television landscape. It has also shown that the Trek formula can be updated for modern audiences. You don’t need to dumb Star Trek down to being a generic action blockbuster like Abrams did. With a decent budget and good scripts you don’t even have to change the look of the show, let alone the type of series it actually is.

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Much like with Doctor Who, there was no way the current idealogues in charge of the actual Star Trek brand were ever going to produce a show or film similar to proper Star Trek. The Orville was the only way we were ever going to see proper Star Trek. Furthermore its success will now show potential future producers and holders of the Trek brand that a profit can be made from actually updating the original, as opposed to tossing everything about the original out and just cashing in on the name.

Doctor Omega, the series could do the same for Doctor Who. Give us a chance to see proper Classic Who style adventures, whilst showing people that the old style, if updated in practical ways can work which might end the Fitzroy Crowd’s strangle hold over the series.

Doctor Omega would actually be an easier sell than The Orville which was accused of being derivative of Star Trek at first. No one could accuse Doctor Omega of ripping off Doctor Who as he debuted about 60 years earlier!

Of course I wouldn’t want Doctor Omega to remake any classic era stories. It would be new adventures just in a similar style. You could invent a rogues gallery for Doctor Omega similar to the Doctors, the same way that the Krill in The Orville fill a similar role to the Klingons and the Romulans in Star Trek as well, but again you’d give them their own backstories and characteristics.

Personally I think it might be interesting to adapt monsters from other Classic sci fi stories in the public domain and have them fill the role of the Doctors colourful rogues gallery. Doctor Omega has been used for crossover stories in the past, so it would be continuing the tradition. Just as Doctor Omega was the predecessor for Doctor Who, then so were many classic literary monsters predecessors for the Doctor’s enemies.

For instance the Martians from H.G. Wells War of the Worlds could take the place of the Daleks in the Doctor Omega series.

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The Martians who invade the earth in Wells classic novel were one of many key inspirations on the Daleks. Both are hideous Octopus monsters who house themselves inside tank like robots. Both speak in electronic, but hysterical voices. Both are pitiless conquerors devoid of any concept of pity or remorse and both come from a dying, barren world.

The Daleks and Wells Martians also serve as metaphors for xenophobia and race hatred, chemical warfare, man’s desturctive effect on the environment, and technology moving inward and turning people into machine like creatures.

The Martians could also have quite a close personal connection to the Doctor too. The first Doctor Omega book, (which presumably would be adapted as the first story.) Sees the Doctor and his companions reluctantly help a ruthless race of Martians defeat their enemies. The Martians are described by one of their own, Tiziarou as a dying race who have become so dependent on technology they could never cope without it.

The series would reveal that the Martians Omega helped would eventually become Wells Martians. Thanks to his help they would only defeat their enemies, but all other races on Mars, devastating the planet before moving to earth.

In a later story of the series (perhaps the first season finale?) Omega would return to earth where he would discover that the monsters had invaded in his absence and devastated the planet before being defeated by bacteria.

The Doctor and his companions would then be captured by the forces of earth who would force him to build a war ship to use against the Martians, before they could launch a counter strike.

This story would be an adaptation of both War of the Worlds (which would unfold via flashback) and Edison’s Conquest of Mars. Edison’s Conquest of Mars was an unofficial sequel novel to the original War of the Worlds which saw Thomas Edison build a war ship from the ruins of the Martian technology left over after their invasion, to launch an attack on the Martians.

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The novel sadly doesn’t hold up that well to contemporary audiences. It has some inspired ideas, but overall it reads as nothing more than a puff piece for Edison.

Replacing Edison with an Omega who is reluctantly forced to lead a war could make the story more interesting and the conflict more tense. The ending of “Omega’s Conquest of Mars” would see the last of the Martians flee to another world (perhaps Mor-Tax in honour of the War of the Worlds tv series.) Where they would build up their forces, eventually becoming a major galactic power similar to the Daleks.

From there you could use the Martians in all of the same ways you could the Daleks. You could do stories involving the monsters conquering other planets, mastering time travel, trying to invade the earth again etc. You could even incoporate elements of later adaptations of War of the Worlds too into the monsters characters and design as they alter their bodies and technology throughout history.

Doctor Omega would always feel tremendous guilt every time he met the Martians, knowing that it was his own innocent trip to the past which caused the monsters to become among the dominant life forms in the universe, making their confrontations more interesting.

For the Silurians and the Sea Devils meanwhile, the Newts from Karel Capek’s classic novel could take their place.

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War with the Newts is a classic sci fi novel that sees mankind discover a race of ocean dwelling reptile like creatures who they enslave and exploit, but who eventually turn the tables on humanity. The creatures bare a slight similarity to the Sea Devils from Doctor Who, in that both are lizard like humanoids who are unable to share the planet with humanity and both serve as a metaphor for xenophobia and race hatred. At one point the Newts are even referred to as “Sea Devils!”

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The Newts could easily fulfil the Sea Devils and Silurians role of frightening looking reptile men, who are actually sympathetic, intelligent creatures who have a right to live on our planet too.

The Great Intelligence’s place could be taken by The Mad Mind. The Mad Mind is an unseen monster from The City and the Stars by Arthur C Clarke. The Mad Mind is a disembodied intellect created to rule the galaxy, that eventually devastates it. The creature is imprisoned, but could easily escape to wreak more havoc in a Doctor Omega series.

The creature could possess people and serve as a more distant, alien enemy that the Doctor couldn’t fight, or even defeat as it has no form just like the Great Intelligence. An adaptation of The City and the Stars would also be an excellent adventure too. Another bonus about using these monsters is that it could bring more attention to obscurer sci fi stories and novels.

The Cybermen could be replaced by the robots from Karel Capek’s R.U.R play. The robots in this play though not greatly resembling the Cybermen follow a similar theme of mans own technology turning in on him. The robots themselves could also fulfil the role of being giant robotic creatures.

Of course it would be hard to incorporate War of the Worlds, War of the Newts and R.U.R into one timeline, but it could be done.

War of the Newts would take place after War of the Worlds. Humanity might ironically use the Martians technology to overthrow the Newts and enslave them. The humans would then overthrow the Newts after they rebelled and took us over (which happens in the book) with the robots from R.U.R who would then overthrow humanity, forcing the humans into an alliance with the Newts to reclaim the planet. The last of the robots would then be forced to flee into space where they would settle on a far away planet and build up an empire from there. (This could serve as a problem in future stories for when humanity meets other races, as humanity would perhaps be known and hated all over the galaxy for creating a monster race that went on to slaughter hundreds of worlds.)

For the Master meanwhile, Doctor Omega’s friend Professor Helvetius could take his place. Helvetius could serve as an ally for the Doctor in several stories who we gradually see descend into darkness and who the Doctor is forced to fight, leading to their feud.

The iconic British comic book character, Dan Dare meanwhile could serve as a Brigadier type character for Doctor Omega. He has a similar, stiff upper lip attitude and even a similar look. Dan’s time would have to come after the Newts and humanity reclaimed the planet and would be depicted as a golden age for mankind. The inclusion of Dan Dare would also bring in his enemies such as the famous Mekon and the Treens.

Image result for dan dareImage result for the brigadier doctor who

Captain Dan, Digby, Professor Peabody and Spacefleet could easily be Doctor Omega’s version of the Brigadier, Benton, Liz Shaw and UNIT.

Finally Doctor Omega could even be made to change his face too. I think it would be better to have it be something that only Omega can do however. You could have it that on an advanced planet Omega found a machinea that can allow you to live forever, as whenever you get too old it rebuilds your body into a younger form, but changes your appearance.

Doctor Omega would have stolen it, as he felt that one lifetime wouldn’t be enough for him to explore the wonders of even one galaxy. Every time the Doctor got old or was wounded he would use the machine to rebuild himself and from a real world perspective change actor.

With these ideas you could essentially produce a Doctor Who expy series, except that the characters and ideas in this series came before Doctor Who! You could utilise all the great things about the brand whilst being free of the tyranny of the BBC, the Fitzroy Crowd and the Regressive left.

Of course ultimately I wouldn’t want Doctor Omega to replace Doctor Who completely. In a few decades time a proper version of Doctor Who could easily return, but until then Doctor Omega could give us a proper Doctor Who series. Doctor Omega would also be the only way to ensure that the classic style is updated as currently the people in charge of the brand have no interest in reviving the true series.

As for who I would cast? My choices would be the same as they would for a proper Doctor Who series.

Julian Richings, a British actor best known for playing Death in Supernatural would be a perfect choice for Doctor Omega. He looks somewhat like the character and would have the necessary authority and gravitas to pull it off.

Dana Delorenzo of course would be a perfect choice for Suzane. Personally I’d replace Fred with Suzane as Doctor Omega’s first companion. Fred doesn’t really have any personality, and again I’m for having more roles for women as long as it’s not designed just to take a role away from a man. Suzane is already a character in the novel, and ultimately Fred is just an ordinary man with no backstory, whilst Suzane has a greater link to Omega and a mysterious origin of her own which could make for a better dynamic. Dana could bring a lot to the character and make her a stronger, more proactive character than the Susan of Classic Who.

Finally Wentworth Miller I think would be good for Denis. Miller is a charismatic actor best known for his starring roles in Prison Break and Legends of Tomorrow. I think Miller would be a good choice for Denis as in real life, Miller is somewhat more sensitive and thoughtful than a lot of the characters he plays. Denis could give him a chance to show that side off more, yet at the same time Miller could make the character less of a wimp like the literary Denis and more of a vulnerable hero.

The first incarnation of Doctor Omega.

and his two companions

the more aggressive Suzane

and the sensitive and creative Denis Borel

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think below.

Why The Left Are Hypocrites For Not Supporting Tulsi Gabbard

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A short article but one I feel needs to be written. Tulsi Gabbard is a Democratic senator who is running for President in 2020.

Tulsi if elected would in my opinion be the best President since World War 2. Tulsi is a staunch anti war candidate. She supports genuine left wing ideas such as free healthcare and welfare, she is critical of the US’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and unlike Bernie Sanders (who said that white people don’t know what its like to be poor.) She does not divide people by race or gender, or focus on infantile identity politics.

Sadly as a result of this both the establishment right and left have attempted to sabotage Tulsi in various ways.

Whilst this is to be expected from the war hawks on the right, I think we can see quite an interesting bit of hypocrisy from the left here.

In 2016 many on the left declared their support for Hillary Clinton because if elected she would have been the first female President. Personally I don’t think having a female President matters one bit. As long as a woman can be President, then what difference does it make who is first? Elect people based on their ideas, not their gender. I personally didn’t want Hillary Clinton to win because she was a war hawk who would have been more dangerous than Trump.

See here.

Still I and many other critics of Hillary were called sexists for not wanting a woman to be President regardless of her appalling record. Flash forward to 2020 however and these same people on the left are not pushing for Tulsi the same way they were Clinton?

Surely if having a woman President is the most important thing, then shouldn’t all of these people, like Caitlin Moran, entertainers like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga be every bit as supportive of Tulsi (who is more of an underdog and thus could actually use their support.)

I would have thought that this woman here.

Was a better role model for young girls, than this crooked, corrupt, blood stained war mongering psychopath here?

Yet bizarrely enough virtually NONE of the high profile Hillary supporters in the mainstream media have got behind Tulsi.

Of course again not that I’m saying I want people to only vote for Tulsi because she is a woman. Vote for her because she is a fantastic candidate. Still going by those on the left, who not only pledged their support for Hillary, but for Obama for being the first black President’s way of thinking; shouldn’t they all automatically be behind Tulsi, a non white woman?

Ultimately I think this goes to show that those on the left are phonies who use representation to manipulate and bully those around them into silence. Hillary and her supporters didn’t actually care about having a woman as the President, but it was an easy way of dismissing any of her critics as “being sexists for not wanting a woman in a position of power.”

We see a similar thing happen in the entertainment industry too. I have been called a sexist by people like the youtubers Samuel Davis, and Mr Tardis for not liking the new female Doctor Who, played by Jodie Whittaker. Apparently that means I can’t stand dirty women in strong roles. Meanwhile I have used my platform to promote Tulsi, a woman, for the highest and most important position on earth, whilst they both probably don’t even know who Tulsi is!

The reason is because again they don’t actually care about female representation. They simply claim they do either so they can smear critics of a particular woman, or so they can jump on a bandwagon that might suit them. It was trendy for people like Mr Tardis to make out how much they hated Trump and supported Hillary for instance, but its not for Tulsi who is a genuine underdog and who the dominant political class don’t like.

So Tulsi despite being an immeasurably better choice for the first female President gets a millionth of the support Hillary does.

Now I don’t mean to tar all of those who would idnetify as being on the left. I personally don’t identify with either the left or the right, but I’m sure there are some people on the left who did support Hillary and now want Tulsi to be the first female President.

Still there are not nearly enough, and next time those on the left try and make out that they care more about female representation than anyone else, that actually its just a ploy to silence critics.

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The Horse Shoe Effect: Part 1: Freedom of Speech

Image result for tommy robinsonImage result for julian assange

Two brave men who sadly have been made shining examples of the left and the rights contempt for freedom of speech. 

For the first article in the Horse Shoe Effect series we will be taking a look at how both the left and the right despise freedom of speech. I didn’t intend to cover this subject first. I wanted to start with more low key issues such as the left and the right’s impact on the entertainment industry before moving onto how their tribalism impacts greater society as a whole.

The recent arrest of Julian Assange however motivated me to cover this now. I feel that anyone who claims to care about freedom of the press needs to stand with Assange, regardless of how small their platform is. Every bit of support matters. (This article will not just cover Assange, but he will still be a major focus of the article.)

McCarthyism vs Feminists

The left and the right have both shown throughout their history that they can’t stand even the slightest contrary opinion. They will tar even the mildest centrist as a Communist or a Nazi and try and shut them down.

We can see this clearly in the right’s case with Joseph McCarthy and in the left’s with third wave feminism.

Joseph McCarthy was a US senator in the 1950s who helped to kick off the second red scare policy where those accused of being communists or communist sympathizers were fired from their jobs, blacklisted and in some cases even imprisoned.

Most of those McCarthyism labelled as communists were completely innocent. As Humphry Bogart said. “They’ll nail anyone who ever scratched their ass during the national anthem.”

Now you might be thinking well why bring up McCarthyism? It happened 60 years ago? The point is that McCarthy shows how the right are capable of shutting people down, slandering people based on no evidence and ruining people’s lives over nothing.

How The Red Scare Destroyed A Small Town Teacher

7 Artists Almost Ruined By McCarthyism

Remembering McCarthyism

McCarthyism Victims

The Injustice of McCarthy

Threat of McCarthy

Its not even as though the modern right disavows McCarthy. Sargon of Akkad has outright said that McCarthy never did anything wrong, whilst Stefan Molyneux has tried to reassess McCarthy as a hero.

See here.

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With this in mind I can’t help but feel that if the right regained the social power the left currently has, they would return to shutting down “Evil commies” and smearing anyone with even the mildest left wing views as “evil socialist, commie bastards.”

The left meanwhile has its own version of McCarthyism. Third wave feminism. Often if you disagree with, or offend a feminist online the first thing they will do is ask to speak to your employer.

I’m not saying that all feminists are willing to ruin someone’s life over a joke. Still feminism certainly has the power to shut people down and ruin their livelihoods. Much like religion many decades ago; feminism in modern society is seen as untouchable. If you have any objections to third wave feminism you must be a sexist, same way if you weren’t a Christian years ago then you must not have a moral code.

Sadly however many modern day feminists are only too happy to abuse the privileged and powerful position feminism has in modern society.

Here are some examples of feminists getting people fired for simply disagreeing with them.

Feminists not only have the power to get people fired, but much like McCarthy they have the power to get them blacklisted to the point were they’ll never work again. One such example was Tim Hunt a noble prize winning scientist who was fired and in his own words left hung out to dry, after making some lame jokes that feminists deemed too offensive.

Tim Hunt: The Guardian

The most extreme example of leftist McCarthyism in the 21st century however is the trial and conviction of Scottish comedian Mark Meechan.

Meechan (who is better known by his youtube moniker Count Dankula) is fairly left leaning. He supports both the NHS and the Welfare State as well as gay marriage.

Here.

Count Dankula on Twitter

Count Dankula NHS

In 2016 Mark Meechan was arrested after he posted a video where he made his girlfriends pug perform a Nazi salute. Dankula made it clear in the video that he hates the Nazis. He explicitly says that he is sick of his girlfriend going on about how cute the Dog is, so he wanted to make it do the most horrible thing he could think of to annoy her; which is imitate the Nazis!

Still Meechan was accused of promoting Nazism. He was fired from his job, unable to get a job anywhere else and was routinely slandered by the mainstream media as a hate preacher.

The charge against Meechan hung over his head for two years until he was finally charged in early 2018 and forced to pay a fine, (which he has refused to.)

Man Arrested After Teaching Dog To Perform Nazi Salute

Man Guilty of Hate Crime For Dog Video

Much like McCarthy, its disgusting and terrifying that modern day leftist ideologues are able to ruin a man’s life over something so trivial and inconsequential as a joke to wind up his girlfriend!

Just as McCarthy would nail anyone who scratched their ass during the national anthem. Then so will the leftists nail anyone who makes at worst a tedious joke they can’t stand.

Fidel Castro vs Agusto Pinochet

When Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died in 2016 the left almost all lined up to cannonize him as a great man and a fighter for justice.

In all fairness Castro did free his country from the rule of what were essentially US backed criminals before him. It also cannot be denied that Castro improved the life expectancy of Cubans.

When the Mob Owned Cuba

The Rise of Castro

Castro Derails The Mob’s Plans in Cuba

How Cubans Live As Long As Americans At A Tenth the Cost

10 Facts About Life Expectancy In Cuba

Whilst its true that Cuba has suffered extreme poverty since Castro’s rise to power. This is arguably more down the blockades placed around what is a small country by the US, than Castro himself.

See here.

The Impact of US Sanctions

Cuba is Poor But Who Is To Blame

The Effect of US Embargo on Cuba.

These facts are often ignored by Castro’s critics on the right such as Sargon of Akkad.

Still whilst there are some legitimate arguments in defense of Castro it cannot be denied that he was a dictator who subjected homosexuals to brutal treatment.

See here.

This Is How Castro Persecuted Gay People

Castro Takes Blame For Homosexual Persecution

With this in mind its completely inappropriate for those on the left who see themselves as champions of LGBT rights to overlook Castro’s record on gay rights.

Those on the right such as Sargon of Akkad and Dave Cullen were quick to attack Castro’s defenders on the left for praising a dictator and overlooking Castro’s victims.

At the same time however many on the right, including Sargon himself have been rank apologists for Pinochet.

Agusto Pinochet was Chilean Capitalist dictator who overthrew the democratically elected leader Salvadore Allende. His dictatorship not only drove the Chilean economy into the ground, but it was also notorious for its horrific sadism.

They Were Taking It In Turns To Electrocute Us

Victims of Pinochet Reveal Torture

How I Survived Torture Under Pinochet

Excavations of Pinochet Torture Site

Pinochet Coup Victims Recall Horrors

In spite of all of this Sargon, who did an entire video trashing Castro’s supporters claimed that Pinochet only killed 400 communists and that he was good for his economy.

See here.

I think he killed more than 400 people Sargon. A LOT more. Also mr free speech, are you saying it would have been okay for Pinochet to torture and slaughter people, just because they follow an ideology you don’t like?

Chile Identifies 35000 Pinnochet Victims

Sargon is far from the only right winger who defends Pinochet. There are even memes of Pinochet killing his victims by dropping them out of helicopters. Go on just about any video documenting Pinochet’s heinous crimes and you will see a comment like this.

“Big deal some Commies got free helicopter rides.”

Its hilarious that in their defense of Pinochet, the right are guilty all of the things they accused the left of when they defended Castro.

They too are happy to see a dictator remain in power and they are happy to disgrace the victims of said dictator, as long he follows their ideology. I actually think that the right in this case are worse than the left. Not only was Pinochet far more brutal than Castro, but Pinochet overthrew a previously democratically elected leader.

Furthermore whilst Castro did improve the life expectancy of the Cubans. Pinochet’s policies did nothing but harm for the Chilean economy.

See here.

How Pinochet Destroy The Economy

Chile’s Failed Economic Laboratory

Now fair enough in some cases it can actually be worse to remove a dictator from power. Personally I don’t want Bashir Al Asaad removed from power because it would destablise Syria. Similarly I thought the same about removing Sadam Hussein from Iraq (and I was proven right.) However I would never dream of describing Asaad as a hero, or disgracing his victims as getting what they deserved as both the left and the right do about Pinochet and Castro’s victims.

Ultimately in both cases we can see how the left and the right’s tribalism supercedes their actual principles and beliefs. The left may claim to care about LGBT rights, whilst the right may claim to care about the right to freedom of speech. They may even believe they do, but when its someone who is seen to represent their tribe that violates those rights they will still defend them no matter what.

Tommy Robinson vs Julian Assange

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Tommy Robinson and Julian Assange are both brave men who have helped to shed light on some of the greatest injustices in, or perpetrated by the west for the past 30 years. Sadly as a result both have been demonised by the crooked and cowardly mainstream media and subjected to persecution and even torture by the government.

Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon is the former founder of the EDL and a journalist. (The only reason he changed his name was because of threats to his family.)

Tommy Robinson is an outspoken critic of Islam. He is not contrary to what the mainstream media tries to paint him as. A white supremacist. Tommy Robinson is actually a supporter of multiculturalism and a staunch critic of race realism.

He also does not tar all Muslims as being the same. In fact Tommy Robinson recently presented a more favourable view of the Muslim community than the mainstream media in regards to a proposed statue of Lee Rigby. The mainstream media claimed that a statue to Rigby (slain in the middle of the streets by extremist Muslims.) Would offend the Muslim community, whilst Tommy Robinson took to the streets to actually interview Muslims and found out that they wouldn’t mind a statue to Rigby in the slightest.

Ironically with this in mind it was actually the mainstream media who were in danger of whipping up tensions between Muslims and non Muslims by assuming that the Muslim community would object to a tribute to a young man killed by extremists, until Tommy put people straight.

All Tommy Robinson has ever done is attack the ideology of Islam. Tommy Robinson has simply argued that Islam is a dangerous religion that needs reformed, and its influence limited in the west for the following reasons.

Islam’s holy books, the Quran and the Hadith command all Muslims to either slaughter or subjugate all non Muslims. It also commands that all homosexuals be executed, that all black people are inferior to white people, and that all women are vastly inferior to men.

10 reasons Islam is not a religion of peace

Now it is true that there is horrific violence in the Old Testament. From a practical point of view however the Old Testament is less dangerous than the Quran. The Old Testament is too contradictory to live your life by. It is also not presented as the definitive word of god so there is some room for interpretation. The Jewish religion is also a more loose and tribal religion over all, with a vaguer concept of the afterlife. Finally the Jewish religion has been amended and reformed over the centuries too.

The Christian’s holy book, the New Testament meanwhile though containing some dodgy passages still ultimately tells its followers not to murder their enemies. Jesus is also presented as a martyr who forgives those who tortured him to death.

Islam’s holy book meanwhile is not contradictory. Muhammad does tell his followers to live in peace with non believers, but that is ultimately superceded by his later violent commands. The Quran is also presented as the definitive word of god, so there is no room for interpretation. Everything in it must be taken literally. Finally Islam has had no reformation throughout its entire history.

Now this does not mean that all Muslims living in the west live by Muhammad’s violent teachings. Many Muslims abandon the violent parts of the Quran and simply use their religion as a way of keeping their community together, or as a form of comfort for the hardships of life. Still those who are raised on what Muhammad actually says at the very least hold bigoted views towards Jewish people, homosexuals and women.

In countries that follow Islamic law homosexuality is illegal or even punishable by death. Even in the UK over 50 percent of British Muslims think homosexuality should be criminalised.

See here.

Over 50 Percent of British Muslims Think Homosexuality Should Be Illegal

Islamic Hatred of Gays and Lesbians

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Women fare little better in Islamic countries as well, whilst even in western countries, grooming gangs and female genital mutilation are statistically much higher among the Muslim communities.

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To say that all religions are equally bad is not only dishonest. Its moral cowardice. There are very specific problems with Islam that need to be resolved. All Tommy Robinson has ever wanted is for these issues to be talked about. Not once has he ever said to ban all Muslims from the country.

Tommy Robinson has simply advocated for a reformation of the Islamic faith in the west, a limit (not a ban) on Islamic immigration, and for Islam to be as scrutinised as much as other religions and ideologies such as Christianity and Scientology.

Sadly however the mainstream media has tarred Robinson as a white supremacist. I’m not saying that Tommy Robinson is perfect or that all of his methods are right. I don’t think street protests that Tommy regularly uses are a good way of raising awareness to the problems caused by Islam.

Street protests are easy to demonise. They also can in all fairness appear intimidating to moderate Muslims and scare them away, and they are not always easy to control either.

Still whilst Tommy Robinson has made mistakes. His arguments about Islam are ultimately right. (Even if Tommy was a closet racist who actually did just hate all brown people then it wouldn’t matter in regards to his arguments about Islam, which are still based on facts and evidence.)

Sadly however the mainstream media and the government hate Tommy Robinson because he exposes them for the cowards they are.

The mainstream media and the government are scared to criticise Islam for many reasons. First and foremost there is the violent retaliation from extremists. No one wants to end up like Charlie Hebdo. Second there is also the social stigma attached too.

As Islam is a religion practised by predominantly dark skinned people, then criticism of Islam is often misinterpreted as racist by the left.

Ironically this itself comes across as racist, as essentially those on the left are not holding dark skinned people to the same high moral standards that they would white people. Compare say Scientology, an ideology practised by mostly white skinned people that the left has no problem insulting.

Still the leftist stigma helps Islam to be a protected faith almost as much as the violent retaliation from Islamic extremists.

As a result the victims of Islam are left out in the cold, as are Muslim reformers, whilst tensions between Muslims and non Muslims have risen dramatically.

See here.

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Tommy however is not afraid to call Islam out for the problems it causes, and so the mainstream media tries to slime him as a Nazi to stop people realising how they have been betrayed by those in power.

All of Tommy’s platforms on social media have been either shut down or severly limited. His facebook and twitter pages have been deleted. (Even mentioning Tommy’s name on facebook will get you a strike for hate crimes.)

Youtube unpersons Tommy Robinson

Facebook Unpersons Tommy Robinson

Tommy Robinson’s high profile arrest in 2018 meanwhile for supposedly sabotaging the trial of several Muslim men found guilty of sexual abuse was completely bogus.

The mainstream media claimed that Tommy Robinson had violated the reporting restrictions, even though he only reported what a newspaper had previously printed.

See here for further details.

The Injustice Against Tommy Robinson

It was an obvious pretense to jail Robinson and during his three months in prison Robinson was subject to solitary confinement. Worse he was moved from a prison with a low Muslim population to one with among the highest, simply so that he could be forced into solitary confinement. His cell was even placed right next to the prison’s Mosque. As a result Muslim prisoners were able to throw feces through his windows which forced him to board them up, leaving Tommy in perpetual darkness for 3 months. Robinson described the experience as mental torture. One only has to look at the physical effects his time inside had on him.

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Tommy both before and after his time in prison.

This is not the first time Tommy’s life has been put in danger. In 2012 Robinson was again sentenced to 5 months in solitary confinement for spurious reasons which caused him to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (something the authorities were well aware of when he was imprisoned again in 2018.)

Tommy Robinson also recently exposed the BBC’s attempts to smear his name in their documentary series Panorama. Here the BBC were shown to actually try and bribe former associates of Tommy Robinson into writing smear articles about him. They also did so little research into his past, that they used a fabricated story about Tommy (that he himself had put forward to see if they would take the bait.) In a further effort to smear him.

See here.

Regardless of whether you support or dislike Tommy Robinson, I don’t think it can be denied that he has been persecuted by both the state and the elite simply for being critical of Islam. He has been smeared as a Nazi, arrested, subject to mental and physical torture in prison, and been wiped from every major platform online. The leftist elite want to not only silence Tommy Robinson, but remove all trace of him from social media simply because he exposes the truth about Islam. Islam is the most conservative ideology on the planet, and the left have ironically made it untouchable simply because of their soft bigotry of low expectations towards dark skinned people.

On the other side of the spectrum however are Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. Julian Assange has been subject to the right’s fascism and much like Tommy Robinson has been unpersoned, smeared and subject to torture.

Assange founded Wikileaks in 2006, an international publishing organisation known for publishing leaks about human rights violations. They came to widespread attention in 2010 however when Chelsea Manning published a series of leaks detailing American war crimes in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Since then the American government has attempted to silence Assange and Manning through any means necessary.

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In 2010 Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, following allegations of sexual misconduct. He denied the charges, claiming that they were simply an excuse for the Swedish government to extradite him to America, where he could face the death penalty.

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Assange would eventually seek asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy where he would remain for 7 years, until Ecuador’s new President Lenin Moreno, finally ended his asylum.

Chelsea Manning in the meantime was arrested in 2010 and initially sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, before Obama shortened her sentence to 7 years. She was arrested again in 2019 however for refusing to testify against Assange.

In prison Manning much like Robinson was subject to solitary confinement and poor conditions.

Torture of Chelsea Manning

The US government under both Obama and Trump have continued to persecute both Assange and Manning. Trump during his Presidential campaign expressed great admiration for Wikileaks, but recently claimed that he knew nothing about Assange and that his arrest didn’t interest him.

This sadly proves once and for all that not only is the President a puppet for those around him, but that people only care about freedom of speech when it affects them.

Hence why when Wikileaks are attacking his enemies, Trump loves them, whilst at other times he has apparently never heard of them? Similarly Sargon will champion Count Dankula’s freedom of speech, whilst being an apologist for those who persecute communists like Pinochet and McCarthy, whilst the same left who lived through McCarthyism will think nothing of Tommy Robinson being unpersoned and arrested for his beliefs.

Freedom of speech must ultimately apply for all political groups. As soon as you get into the mindset of “well communists or Islamophobes are too dangerous to be allowed to spread their harmful ideas.” Then you end up becoming the very thing you hate. If ideas are truly terrible, then they will exposed as such when brought to the public’s attention.

 

The Evil Dead vs Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Recently I’ve noticed some strong similarities between two of my favourite horror franchises. The Evil Dead and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I’d go as far as to say that they are more comparable to each other than to any other franchise in terms of style, tone and premise as we will soon see.

Overview of Both Series

The Evil Dead franchise began with a low budget independent horror movie, called Within the Woods, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss.

The film revolved around a group of twenty somethings stumbling upon an old cabin in the woods, built next to an Indian grave yard. The spirits from the grave however soon possess one of the group, Bruce (played by Campbell), who goes on to pick off the others one by one. Though Ellen (played by Sandweiss), Bruce’s girlfriend is able to slay Bruce. The ending of the film shows that the spirits have survived and leaves her fate open as one of her possessed friends advances on her from behind.

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The film proved to an unexpected success after being shown as a b-movie before a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A few years later in 1982. Raimi would produce a remake, titled The Evil Dead which followed the same premise. Rather than being spirits from an Indian graveyard however. The monsters were Demons from hell, summoned by a book called the Necronomicon.

Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss also played brother and sister rather than lovers, and switched roles. Ellen’s character was now possessed by the Demons, whilst Bruce’s character, renamed Ash, became the final survivor.

The ending of Evil Dead similarly saw the last survivor, Ash, being attacked by the Demons after he believed he had banished them, leaving his fate open.

The film was a huge success, though it also proved to be extremely controversial due to its excessive gore. It was even banned in the United Kingdom.

A sequel would be produced in the late 80s, Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, which has often been mistaken for a remake as it opens with Ash and his girlfriend Linda from the first movie arriving at the cabin and reading from the book. Linda is also played by a new actress. However it is still intended to be a sequel. Raimi and Campbell had intended to open Evil Dead 2 with a recap of the first film, but they couldn’t get the rights as it was owned by a different company. Instead they were forced to reshoot a recap of the first film.

5 minutes into the second film, the Demons are shown to grab Ash just like the ending of the first Evil Dead. Everything from there on can be considered a sequel (and would later be by the series Ash Vs Evil Dead.)

Evil Dead 2 sees the owner of the cabin Raymond Knowby’s daughter, Annie arrive at the house. Though initially believing Ash killed her parents, she later discovers the truth when her demon possessed mother Henrietta returns. Ash and Annie are able to send the Demons back to hell using the Necronomicon, though sadly Annie is killed before she can close the portal and Ash is also sucked through.

The ending reveals that the portal actually sent both the Demons and Ash to the medevil era.

Several years later another sequel would be released titled Army of Darkness which would see Ash battle the forces of the Necronomicon in the 12th century. At the end of the film Ash, after defeating the Demons is given a magic potion that will send him back to his home era.

From here there are two endings. The original intended ending from Sam Raimi, and the more family friendly ending for the theatrical cut. (Though interestingly enough neither of these endings would be regarded as canonical by subsequent entries in the series.)

Original ending.

Theatrical ending.

Over the course of the next two decades. Ash would return in various comic books and video games, including several crossover series which would see Ash encounter such characters as Xena the Warrior Princess,  Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger and even several Marvel superheroes.

There was also a remake of Evil Dead in 2013, featuring a new female hero. The remake though successful, was more of a serious horror movie like the original, than the later entries which tended to blend humour and horror.

Two years later in 2015, Bruce Campbell finally made a full return to the role in the series Ash vs Evil Dead. This series saw Ash come out of retirement (after accidentally unleashing the Deadites again) and be forced to work with two new Demon slayers, Kelly Maxwell (played by Dana Delorenzo), and Pablo (played by Ray Santiago). The series also expanded on the Demon lore, revealing who created the Necronimcon and introduced the character of Ruby, played by Lucy Lawless (best known for her role as Xena the Warrior Princess.)

Running for 3 series, Ash vs Evil Dead proved to be a huge critical success and brought even greater attention to the franchise. Sadly however after its conclusion in 2018, Bruce Campbell announced that he intended to retire the character of Ash, seemingly bringing an end to the franchise for good.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer originally began as a film in 1992, starring Kristy Swanson as Buffy. Its premise revolved around one girl in every generation, known as the Slayer being granted the strength and power to hunt Vampires. The latest Slayer, Buffy Summers, is approached by Merrick, a member of an organisation known as the Watchers, to combat the ancient Vampire king Lothos (played by Rutger Hauer.)

Merrick is killed by Lothos, who later launches an attack on Buffy’s school. Ultimately however unlike all of the Slayers before her. Buffy is able to slay Lothos by going against the rules of the Watchers and doing things her own way.

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The Buffy movie was a moderate success, though Joss Whedon was reportedly unhappy with it. He felt that they toned down the horror aspects, and theme of female empowerment from his original script too much.

5 years later Whedon would revive the project as a series. The series, which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, was a loose sequel to the original film. It takes place several months later and shows Buffy moving to Sunnydale, desperate to move on with her life, only to be approached by another Watcher, Rupert Giles (played by Anthony Stewart Head.)

Buffy at first refuses to continue on as the slayer after the events of the first film, only to be forced into action when her new friends Willow (played by Alyson Hannigan) and Xander (played by Nicholas Brendon) are attacked by Vampires. Buffy later discovers that Sunnydale is built over a portal to a hell dimension which makes it a magnet for not only Vampires, but Demons, Werewolves, Witches and other supernatural creatures.

Buffy’s main adversary was initially The Master, an ancient Vampire king, buried below Sunnydale who sought to open the Hellmouth and allow the Demons trapped within to emerge back into our world and conquer humanity.

Over the course of the series Buffy would go on to battle various other monsters, such as Demons, Ghosts, Werewolves, Zombies, Witches, Gods, Robots and even Aliens from outer space! The core cast would also expand over the course of the series too.

Arguably the two most significant supporting character in the series, outside of Buffy’s original three friends, were Buffy’s two love interests. The Vampires, Angel and Spike (played by David Boreanaz and James Marsters.)

Angel was introduced in the shows first series initially as a mystery man who gave Buffy cryptic advice on Vampires. Part way through season 1 however Angel was revealed to be a Vampire, cursed with a human soul, and therefore capable of feeling remorse. Angel and Buffy would fall in love in season 2, though later that year Angel would lose his soul. Reverting to the evil Angelus he had been before. Angelus would serve as the main antagonist for the shows second season. After gaining his soul back at the end of season 2, Angel would later gain his own spin off series, simply titled Angel that would run for 5 seasons and become a major and influential cult hit in its own right.

Spike meanwhile initially began as an enemy of Buffy’s in season two and would continue to recur as a villain until season 4 when he was kidnapped by The Initiative. An organisation devoted to tracking down and experimenting on supernatural creatures. The Initiative implanted a chip in Spike’s brain that caused him pain every time he attempted to hurt someone, but not Demons, resulting in Spike becoming an unlikely ally of Buffy’s.

In season 5 Spike falls in love with Buffy, which leads to a destructive and abusive relationship between the Vampire and the Slayer, culminating in Spike’s attempt to rape her in season 6. Following this Spike would later win himself a soul and find redemption by sacrificing himself in the season finale of Buffy, before being resurrected as a regular for the final season of Angel.

The series was initially conceived as a “High School is hell” metaphor, but later series would depict Buffy in college and as a young adult. Outside of her battles with the undead, the series also saw Buffy cope with everyday personal problems such as her mother dying and subsequently being forced to raise her little sister Dawn.

At the end of the series. Buffy, much like in the original film, goes against the Slayer rules, and has Willow (who over the course of the series becomes a powerful Witch) cast a massive spell which turns every potential Slayer into a Slayer.

Buffy finished in 2003 after 7 season, whilst Angel finished the following year in 2004. 3 years later however, both Buffy and Angel’s stories were continued via two comic book series which are still going as of the writing of this article.

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The official comic book continuation of Buffy and Angel which is said to be canon according to Buffy creator Joss Whedon. 

In 2018, Joss Whedon announced that he would be remaking Buffy, 15 years after the original finished its run. No details are known about the casting or plot at present.

Both Buffy and Evil Dead would go onto be very influential on subsequent horror films and television series, with the characters of Ash and Buffy being among the most iconic horror characters. Edgar Wright, the director of Shaun of the Dead has cited Evil Dead 2 as one of his biggest influences, as has Eric Kripke, the creator of Supernatural. The makers of both Charmed and the 21st century version of Doctor Who meanwhile have both credited Buffy with inspiring and paving the way for them.

The stars of both franchises such as James Marsters, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi and Eliza Dushku have also gone on to land major and leading roles in various other cult series and films as a result of both franchises popularity.

Evil Dead’s Influence on Buffy

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Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy and Angel is a fan of the Evil Dead franchise, having cited it as a big influence.

There have even been a few direct references to Evil Dead in Buffy, such as the First Evil shouting “DEAD BY SUNRISE!” in an homage to “DEAD BY DAWN” the tagline of Evil Dead 2, and a phrase that is frequently shouted by the Demons of the series. In the episode Crush, Xander also refers to Spike as “The Evil Dead.”

Whedon’s later horror movie, Cabin in the Woods followed the same basic premise as Evil Dead. It sees a group of twenty somethings become lost in a cabin in the woods, and after reading from a book, they end up unleashing ancient Lovecraftian Demons into the world. There is even a reference to the Deadites, the main villains from the Evil Dead franchise too.

With this in mind it is likely that at least some of the similarities between both franchises were intentional. There’s nothing wrong with this. All works of fiction take from others (including Evil Dead which borrowed from everything from The Three Stooges to HP Lovecraft.) Nothing is truly original, but still I think its fair to say that the Evil Dead in many ways was a predecessor to Buffy.

Interestingly enough however Bruce Campbell is a huge Buffy fan and has included a few references to it in his work too. In My Name is Bruce, Campbell’s fictionalized version of himself, who is called in to fight a Demon by one of his fans. Says after the Demon is seemingly slain.  “Next time there is a Demon. Call that Buffy chick.”

Finally the season 2 episode of Ash vs Evil Dead called Delusion, where a Demon attempts to trick Ash into believing that the supernatural are all figments of his imagination, was inspired by the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, Normal Again, which featured a similar plot.

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Similarities

Both Revolve Around A Reluctant Chosen One

Both Evil Dead and Buffy revolve around a hero who is chosen by the forces of good to fight Demons and monsters. Both are even regularly referred to as the chosen one.

Ironically however in both cases the chosen one is, on the surface at least. Not anybody’s ideal idea of a hero and is extremely reluctant to be a hero too.

Ash is shallow, lazy, unmotivated, arrogant, egocentric, and at times, somewhat lecherous.

Buffy meanwhile though not nearly as unsympathetic or unlikable as Ash, is still, in the original movie at least. Initially shown to be quite shallow, spoiled and vapid.

Both Buffy and Ash regularly quit being the chosen one for long periods at a time, such as at the end of season 1 of Ash vs Evil Dead, and the end of season 2 of Buffy. It would be unthinkable for another Vampire hunter character like Blade or Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing to quit.

Both Buffy and Ash also regularly screw things up, such as when Ash says the wrong words to release the Necronomicon in Army of Darkness, or when Buffy leads dozens of young girls to their deaths at the hands of Caleb.

Both are even responsible for unleashing a lot of the monsters they face. Ash unleashes the Demons in season 1 of Ash vs Evil Dead when he reads from the book to try and impress a girl, (whilst he’s stoned.) Buffy meanwhile is responsible for letting the Master go free in Prophecy Girl when she blunders head first into his base. In season 2, Buffy also inadvertently causes Angel to lose his soul. To be fair to Buffy in regards to Angelus, unlike Ash’s many screw up, she had absolutely no idea that Angel would lose his soul. Still to have the hero be responsible for letting the villain be free in any way is again not something that you could imagine with most other heroes.

Buffy and Ash’s flaws do sometimes make them come over as unsympathetic and selfish, but at other times they can make both characters seem more human, which is why both have such an enduring popularity.

Who wouldn’t react the way Buffy and Ash do a lot of the time? Imagine being told that you will have to spend the rest of your life fighting the most hideous, evil, bloodthirsty monsters. That you’ll never be able to have a family, or any kind of normal life again, and that the rest of your life will probably be very short. You’d have a right to be pissed off and ask why does all of this have to fall on your shoulders?

Unlike Blade or Peter Cushing who make it a mission to hunt the forces of darkness, Ash and Buffy are thrown into it unprepared.

Buffy and Ash in both cases later gather together a group of misfits, and unconventional heroes to help them battle the paranormal. The Ghost Beaters in Ash’s case, and the Scooby Gang in Buffys.

Buffy and Ash’s unconventional status as heroes is regularly used as a source of comedy and tragedy in both series, which leads to my next point.

They Both Mix Horror and Comedy

Evil Dead and Buffy are not the only examples of the horror and comedy genres being merged together.

However I think its fair to say that they represent arguably the most extreme examples. Most other horror comedies tend to settle on being largely one over the other.

Scary Movie for instance is totally a comedy with a horror movie setting, whilst An American Werewolf in London might have humorous, and witty moments, but it is still largely a horror movie.

With Buffy and Evil Dead however the comedy is so severe that it is more or less a complete parody, whilst the horror in both franchises represent some of the most extreme and gruesome in the history of the genre in either film or television.

The jump from comedy to horror is so large as you can see from the two clips above, if you were to watch both clips in isolation you probably wouldn’t believe they were from the same show!

Both Buffy and Evil Dead are able to merge both genres together so well because they make everything so extreme. The monsters are so over the top, even just in terms of appearance that the viewers are able to accept the horror and comedy being so over the top as a result.

Buffy Vampires vs The Deadites

The main villains of both franchises possess many strong similarities with one another in the following ways.

Origins

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The gigantic, Lovecraftian, tentacled creators of the Vampires and the Deadites.

In both the Buffy and Evil Dead mythology, gigantic god like Demons were said to have ruled the earth many thousands of years before recorded history began. They made the earth a hell before being banished to another dimension, allowing the age of man to begin.

In Evil Dead’s case these Demons were referred to as the Dark Ones, whilst in Buffy they were referred to as the Old Ones. Both are based on the Old Ones from HP Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos.

The Dark Ones were banished by one of their own, Ruby, through a book called the Necronomicon, which she hoped to use to control them. Ruby however was later stripped of her powers. In Buffy it is not known who banished the Old Ones, but the Demons were cast through a portal to hell, located beneath Sunnydale (which is referred to as the Hellmouth.)

The Vampires and the Deadites meanwhile are lesser creatures created by the Dark Ones/Old Ones to help them escape. The Deadites are released through the Necronomicon, and their goal in all three films, and the tv series, is to use the book to release the Dark Ones to overthrow humanity and bring hell on earth.

In Buffy meanwhile the Vampires were created when one of the Old Ones fed on a human and infected him, turning him into a Demon/human hybrid. He then went on to infect another and another, creating the Vampire race. Vampires main aim in Buffy is similar to the Deadites, as they hope to open the Hellmouth and release the Old Ones to overthrow humanity and bring about hell on earth.

They’re Both Demon/Human Hybrids

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The Deadites and the Vampires are not people at all. They are Demons who inhabit the corpses of humans. They absorb the memories of the human bodies they take over, and even some negative personality traits, but they are still not the people whose bodies they take over in the slightest. In some cases they even refer to their predecessors in the third person.

In both franchises we see a few instances of the Demon inside of Deadites and Vampires outside of a human body and it is depicted as nothing more than a savage animal. Therefore the entire Vampire or Deadites personality comes from the memories of the host it takes over. The Demon that possesses Deadites is referred to as a Kandarian Demon, whilst the Demon that possesses Vampires is referred to as a Van-Tal.

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The Van-Tal Demon left, and the Kandarian Demon right, without human bodies to inhabit. Vampires and Deadites only refer to the combination of these Demons in a human body.

Both Demons will often use their hosts memories to trick and torment their loved ones.

Examples of this include in Evil Dead 2 where the Demonic version of Henrietta attempts to trick her daughter Annie into releasing her by singing a lullaby the real Henrietta used to sing to Annie when she was a little girl, or in Ash Vs Evil Dead when Kelly’s mom is possessed and the Demon uses her memories to repeatedly torment Kelly.

First the Demon lets Kelly think her mother is alive, (after she was killed in a freak accident 6 months earlier.) It lies to Kelly and claims that she was injured and suffered amnesia for 6 months, before it murders her father. Even after killing her father however. The Demon manages to trick Kelly again, making Kelly believe that her mother is merely possessed and that she can fight it with Kelly’s help. Worst of all the Demon later lies to Kelly that her mother wasn’t killed in an accident, but that she in fact killed herself to escape her failure of a daughter!

Spike’s mother similarly after she is turned into a Vampire enjoys tormenting her son, by claiming that she never loved him, always regarded him as a failure, and worse that she had a sexual attraction to him!

In both cases we know that neither Spike nor Kelly’s mother viewed their children that way. Sadly however from Spike and Kelly’s point of view, there would always be a tiny grain of doubt, as the Demon has access to their memories and inner thoughts. This tiny grain of doubt is shown to torment Spike and Kelly for practically the rest of their lives.

At the same time however whilst the Demons are able to use their hosts memories to torment or trick people, ironically there are some instances where their hosts memories can affect them to some extent. The Demons can even end up having a fleeting affection for their hosts loved ones.

Examples of this include the Demonic version of Henrietta who is shown to become visibly moved when the real Henrietta’s daughter Annie sings (ironically the lullaby the Demon had attempted to trick Annie with earlier) purely due to Henrietta’s memories. This ultimately allows Ash enough time to slay the beast.

Similarly in Buffy both Spike and Drusilla, even as Vampires still love their parents. Spike even goes as far as to turn his mother into a Vampire, whilst Drusilla later takes a pleasure in torturing Angel as revenge for killing her loved ones.  Even though technically Drusilla is a Demon, merely inhabiting the corpse of the young woman whose actual loved ones Angelus killed. Once again the hosts memories are enough to trick Drusilla into caring about their deaths, just like Henrietta and Annie.

Whilst not humans, the Deadites and the Vampires do draw a fine line between Demon and human. They also explore the idea of our memories really defining who we are more than anything else to the point where an evil Demon from hell can still feel affection and love, simply due to inheriting our memories.

They Are Both Completely Evil

The Buffy Vampires and Deadites are both evil, sadistic monsters who enjoy not only killing, but torturing their victims. Despite the very rare, fleeting moments of affection from some Demons and Vampires. There are virtually no shades of grey to either.

They are all colossal perverts who frequently sexually abuse their victims too, or are at least shown to derive a perverse pleasure from torture.

Examples of this include Angelus who was shown to frequently rape his female victims, Marcus a Vampire who enjoyed torturing, raping and killing children, and even Spike who mentioned doing horrible things to girls Dawn’s age.

In the Evil Dead meanwhile Ruby’s Demon children similarly mention a desire to gang rape Kelly, whilst another female Deadite tears a man’s penis off whilst giving him a blow job. Then there is the notorious tree rape scene from the first Evil Dead.

With this in mind, coupled with the fact that they aren’t people at all, just Demons inhabiting, and therefore really desecrating human corpses. There is absolutely no moral ambiguity in killing Deadites or Vampires at all. The main heroes, Buffy and Ash can kill them in the most gruesome and over the top ways, and not once does any other character, or the viewers question if they are doing the right thing. If anything its extremely satisfying watching the Vampires and the Deadites suffer the most gruesome deaths.

In both cases however they’re both such perverts that they often enjoy being beaten up and tortured to an extent.

The Vampires and the Deadites ridiculous cruelty is often what allows both Buffy and Evil Dead to frequently switch between such overt comedy and such visceral horror. Sometimes their cruelty can be used in a more petty, comical way, with the Vampires and the Deadites being portrayed as homicidal trolls, or just jerks, whilst in other instances they can be portrayed as horrifying, sexual predators.

They Both Look Similar

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Vampires and Deadites can appear human, but when they attack they revert to their true Demon form. Their Demon forms look somewhat similar. They both have large, bumpy foreheads, yellow eyes (in some cases) slightly paler skin, and sharp teeth.

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Joss Whedon himself even said that he preferred the more overt Vampire make up for the creatures in the earlier seasons, because it reminded him of the creatures in old horror films like Evil Dead.

Finally as if those similarities weren’t enough, both the Deadites and the Buffy Vampires main enemies are a reluctant hero, who is picked by the forces of good to do battle against them, and is referred to as The Chosen One.

They Both Span Multiple Mediums

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Buffy and Evil Dead have had a greater success across several different mediums than most other horror franchises.

Big tv hits like Supernatural, Charmed, Being Human, Hex etc, have not crossed over into film or comic books or video games as frequently as Evil Dead and Buffy. Charmed did produce a sequel comic book series, but only one very basic mobile video game and never (to date) a film. Similarly many horror film franchises like Alien, Halloween, and Friday the 13th have not crossed over into television, whilst those who have such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream have not crossed over into the video game medium with as much success.

Meanwhile I think its safe to say that not many horror franchises have spawned musicals!

It’s even more incredible when you consider that Buffy and Evil Dead have largely been produced by the same people over the decades. The 92 movie may have deviated from Joss’ original idea, but it was still his script.

There are many reasons as to why these two franchises have been able to cross over across so many different mediums more than others.

The fact that they lend themselves to parody more than other franchises is what allowed both to have musical instalments.

At the same time the fact that they do treat their horror seriously, and are even willing to go the extra mile in terms of gore and visceral content (up to and including showing people be skinned alive on screen!) Means that both can just as easily be adapted into terrifying, shocking horror movies too.

The fact that both have such wide universes and mythology, allows them to be adapted as television series, comic books and video games. The fact that they both star such dynamic and over the top action heroes also makes them both a natural fit for video games and comic books too. Even Supernatural and Charmed though having a wide enough universe, both of their leading heroes are more toned down compared to Buffy and Ash. Sam and Dean are ordinary humans (most of the time) who have to rely on spells, and weapons and don’t tend to do as much over the top physical fighting as Buffy, whilst similarly, the Charmed Ones tend to rely on spells and potions to destroy Demons.

Buffy meanwhile has super strength, stabs her enemies, cuts their heads off,  and burns and beats them to death. Ash similarly has a chainsaw hand, hacks his enemies to pieces and gets involved in the most over the top surreal fights scenes.

You can see how both characters could easily translate into the comic books and video game mediums.

Conclusion

As you can see there are a number of similarities between Buffy and Evil Dead. Both feature more human, flawed, reluctant heroes, both merge extreme horror and comedy together, and both feature main antagonists who are the lesser minions of Lovecraftian Demon Gods, whose main goal is to free their masters and cause as much havoc as possible.

Finally due to their larger than life nature and dynamic, action leads, both have been able to conquer just about every medium.

The key difference between the two franchises is that The Evil Dead is aimed more at guys, whilst Buffy the Vampire Slayer is aimed more at women.

Both franchises are hugely popular among both genders, and there are plenty of strong, heroic and villainous roles for both genders in both franchises.

However that said I do think that Evil Dead is aimed primarily more at men simply because it is more of an action series. It focuses solely on the horror, the gore, the monsters. There is some romance in it, but its usually very fleeting. Most of Ash’s love interests are either killed such as Linda and Amanda, or forgotten about. Similarly Kelly and Pablo’s will they, won’t they romance, is largely in the background throughout most of the series.

Buffy meanwhile, whilst having a healthy dose of action and horror too, tends to focus a lot more on the soap opera elements than Evil Dead. We see more of her home life, and later seasons, such as most notably season 6 focus almost entirely on Buffy’s love life, as well as the love lives of her friends like Xander and Willow, with the monsters being pushed into the background.

I’m not saying that you don’t get plenty of women who love horror and gore and action, and plenty of men who enjoy romance stories. Overall though I think its fair to say that women tend to enjoy romance more, whilst men tend to enjoy action more.

Buffy and Evil Dead are similar to this respect in Supernatural and Charmed, in that Supernatural and Charmed also represent a similar idea told from a different genders perspective.

With this in mind, and considering the good will there is between the makers of both franchises. I’m amazed that there has never been a crossover between Buffy and The Evil Dead.

Ash has crossed over with Xena, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, but none of them in my opinion are as good a fit as Buffy would be.

I’d love to see a story where the Deadites posses Willow and make her start skinning people at random, like she did to Warren.

Deadite Willow would be the most horrifying villain in either franchise!

The Deadites could easily exist in Buffy’s universe, and the Buffy Demons could easily exist in Evil Dead’s. We know that there are hundreds of species of Demons in both franchises.

Furthermore as the lore is so similar, then they could easily fit together, unlike say Buffy and Supernatural, which has a totally different origin for Demons and Vampires.

If anything Evil Dead could explain who banished the Old Ones in Buffy. We never found out who did banish the Old Ones in Buffy? Maybe it was Ruby, who banished the Demons she couldn’t control through the hellmouth, and the ones she did hope to control into the Necronomicon. The Dark Ones and the Old Ones could easily be the same creatures. They more or less are. All you’d have to explain would be that some people call them the Old Ones, and others call them the Dark Ones.

Maybe with this in mind the Vampires and the Deadites are cousin races. Both created by the Dark/Old Ones, to free them from hell?

Whilst it will never happen in live action, I’d love to see a comic series that brings Evil Dead and Buffy together, and sees the Ghost Beaters and the Scoobies team up to take on some ancient Vampires and Deadites who plan to free the Old/Dark Ones from hell.

Thanks for reading.

SJWs Don’t Like Female Heroes

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They both probably think the woman below is Wonder Woman .

This is a point I’ve raised many times before, but its one that I feel needs emphasised and explored in greater detail.

For the last few years I have criticised the regressive left’s negative influence on the sci fi and fantasy genres.

I am not by any stretch of the imagination right wing. I have written articles trashing those on the right in the past, such as the following.

5 Worst Right Wingers On Youtube

In terms of liking female heroes and female created forms of entertainment meanwhile, I have written ten thousand word articles on characters from Xena and put forward ideas for tv shows starring female heroes and casting suggestions (that have been rewteeted by popular genre actresses.)  I have also tried to bring attention to more obscure female singers like V.V. Brown and written articles about Amy Winehouse, that her own mother enjoyed (and even started following me on twitter as a result!)

See here.

10 Reason To Admire Amy Winehouse

Ingrid Oliver: Best Tweet I Have Ever Received

Dana Delorenzo: Means More To Me Than You Know

Cult Villains 1: Callisto

In spite of this however I have been accused many times of not being able to stand female led shows, strong women, or female dominated forms of entertainment by SJWs on sites like Gallifrey Base and by people like Mr Tardis and Samuel Davis, simply because I am critical of the regressive left’s influence on the genre.

Interestingly enough however when you look at the SJWs who are so quick to hurl accusations of “not being able to stand female heroes” at others own history. You can see that they often don’t seem to care about female heroes.

In this article we are going to explore famous examples of SJWs not caring about female heroes and ultimately why both male and female SJWs don’t care about female heroes. I feel this is the most important point to raise against SJWs, as they always like to paint themselves as modern day Gene Roddenberry’s; fighting for representation against the evil bigots, when ironically nothing could be further from the truth.

Also from a personal point of view it is very annoying to get told constantly from people with 0 knowledge of female heroes that I need to get used to seeing strong women on tv. I did. Back in the fucking 90s when I was 3!

Famous Examples

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Obviously I can’t accuse every SJW of being like this. I am sure there are some SJWs who do genuinely like female heroes, but for the majority I have come across that is not the case.

At the very least the most prominent, influential and high profile SJWs, (who have in some cases had an impact on franchises.) Have 0 interest in female led film and television series.

Mr Tardis Reviews is one such example. For those unfamiliar with him, Mr Tardis is a youtuber who as his name would suggest specialises in reviewing Doctor Who. At one point he also did work as a professional critic.

Mr Tardis is a staunch defender of Jodie Whittakers casting as the Doctor. Now normally this wouldn’t be enough to make me dislike someone, but Mr Tardis has resorted to slandering all of her critics as sexists, homophobes, racists, and bigots who just can’t stand women in leading roles.

A prime example of this was when he claimed that Jeremy Clarkson, a UK television presenter, was a holocaust denier simply because Clarkson was critical of series 11 of Doctor Who.

Clarkson in truth said that he doesn’t think holocaust denial is a serious issue as only a fringe group of nutters, who are never going to hold any sway actually think the holocaust never happened. He compared holocaust deniers to flat earthers and people who think the earth is only 1000 years old in this respect. Now you may not agree with Clarkson and feel that it is a more widespread issue, but that’s hardly the same as Clarkson being a holocaust denier himself.

Mr Tardis has also targeted smaller channels and twitter users and encouraged and sent his fans to attack them as sexists such as the following.

 

Finally Mr Tardis has also been accused of gatekeeping such as when he famously declared to critics of series 11. “I DON’T CARE IF YOUR FEELINGS ARE HURT BECAUSE THERE ARE MORE WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOUR IN LEADING ROLES WATCH IT OR DON’T BUT GET THE FUCK OUT OF THIS FANDOM.”

The great irony is that Mr Tardis himself has 0 interest in female led films or television series. I’ve brought this up to him many times on twitter (before he blocked me.) Each time he tried to come up with a different excuse for his apparent lack of interest in female heroes, all of which fell flat.

First of all he said that there have been no prominent female led films or television series since Buffy ended 16 years ago for him to review. He has continued to make this point against others.

See here. Buffy Ended 16 Years Ago

Ironically all Mr Tardis does with this kind of argument is not only show off his ignorance of female led series, but insult them too.

Since Buffy there have been dozens of female led series. Once Upon A Time which started in 2011 ran for 7 years and featured a woman, Emma Swan as its main protagonist for 6 years. Regina, the Evil Queen, played by Lana Parilla meanwhile was by far and away the most popular character in the series among the fans and the writers and served as both its main antagonist/anti hero.

See here.

In addition to this there has also been Charmed, which though starting just before Buffy finished, ran past it by several years (and ultimately had a longer run too.) I Zombie, Ghost Whisperer, Nikita, Sleepy Hollow, Legends of Tomorrow, Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Underworld film series, Resident Evil film series, Hunger Games film series, X-Men Prequel film series (where the main hero is arguably Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique) Promethius, Sabrina remake, Charmed remake, Scream tv series, Bionic Woman remake, Tru Calling, Battlestar Gallactica remake, Dark Angel, Dollhouse, The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Being Human etc, have all also emerged since Buffy finished.

Not all of these series have had a long run, but the same is true for most male led genre series too. Genre series in general sadly, apart from a few exceptions like Doctor Who, Buffy, Xena and the later Star Trek sequels often don’t get a long run on tv. Randall and Hopkirk Deceased, Ultra Violet, Torchwood, Lost in Space, Firefly, even the original Star Trek, are all iconic male led series that all only lasted 4 series at the most.

In addition to this there have been strong roles for women in every single male led series of the past several decades. From Killer Frost in The Flash, to Kelly Maxwell in Ash Vs Evil Dead, to Leela in Futurama, to the various companions in New Who. In fact ironically in various male led series like Red Dwarf and Futurama the strongest, bravest, and smartest role has been taken by a woman, Kochanski, Leela etc.

See here.

Dana Delorenzo Wins Artemis Action Next Wave Award Winner

So again for Mr Tardis to try and pretend that Buffy was a flash in the pan for women in the industry (just to cover his own lack of interest in female led series) is incredibly insulting to women like Lana Parrilla and Dana Delorenzo.

Mr Tardis has also said that he hasn’t reviewed these female led series such as Once Upon A Time because they are not the type of thing he normally reviews. This is a pretty lame argument. There is nothing to stop him devoting a section of his channel to looking at genre tv, or if he doesn’t have the time to do a video, setting up a wordpress site such as this.

Finally Mr Tardis, several months after I’d first accused him of not liking any female led series did try and claim to me that he has reviewed female led films and ran through various films that he has reviewed.

The only problem with this list was that the films to start with where recent films that he had been forced to review as a professional critic (or simply to stay relevant on youtube.) They weren’t even films he particularly liked. Even then such was his desperation to get together a decent list of female led films he’d reviewed, he was forced to include both Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey among them!

50 Shades of Grey is definitely more empowering for women than Xena Trilbee!

If only I’d watched 50 Shades of Grey instead of Xena. Then I’d have really learned to accept strong women like Mr Tardis. 

Ultimately Mr Tardis has not tracked down any female led tv series to review on his own. If a female led show is even remotely niche like Once Upon A Time then it will pass him by. He has never commented on the impact any female heroes have made on the genre. He has never looked at the careers of prominent women within the genre. He has never supported or at least given a shout out to more overlooked women in the genre. He doesn’t even follow any prominent women within the genre like Lucy Lawless, Dana Delorenzo, Lana Parrilla, etc on social media.

Now I am not saying Mr Tardis’ lack of interest in female led series means that he is a sexist. (Though that would be no more ridiculous than his accusations against people like Bowlestrek and Nerdrotic being sexist for not liking one female led show.)

Still in all fairness Trilbee just might not have an interest in modern day genre series? However it is ironic that Mr Tardis is willing to paint himself as being the only sane man in sci fi fandom, desperate to see strong women in the genre, such as here.

Women Are Allowed As Lead Roles In Genre Series

When in truth he is the one who is behind most of the rest of sci fi fandom. He’s the one who couldn’t tell a Lucy Lawless from a Gina Torres. He is the one who would draw a blank at a picture of Lana Parrilla and couldn’t tell you who Emma Swan, Prue Halliwell, Callisto, or Kelly Maxwell were.

Another prominent example of an SJW desperate for female heroes, yet bizarrely never watching them is Youtuber/musician Claudia Boleyn. Claudia Boleyn was a high profile critic of the Steven Moffat era of Doctor Who, accusing it of sexism and homophobia.

She became quite a prominent figure in Doctor Who fandom and later got a job working at Doctor Who magazine, as part of their new time team.

Now I don’t have anything against Claudia Boleyn personally, unlike Mr Tardis who has acted in a disgraceful way to critics of series 11.

I freely admit to having been greatly frustrated with some of Claudia’s opinions and statements in the past. Nevertheless in all fairness to her, Claudia has never attacked smaller channels, sent her fans to attack someone, slandered all fans who disagree with her as sexist, or lied about people the way Mr Tardis did about Jeremy Clarkson being a holocaust denier.

See here for an example of Claudia being more mature and respectful to her critics like ShoeOnHead than Mr “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FANDOM”.

ShoeOnHead on Twitter: “Claudia Boleyn The Feminist I Responded To In My Video Is A Sweetheart”

I myself had a reasonably friendly and regular interaction with Claudia via twitter and youtube until 2018 when she blocked me on twitter.

Now I don’t hold any ill will towards Claudia for blocking me. I think she just got fed up of me constantly questioning her opinions on things, which is fair enough. You can be open minded, but also fed up of having to constantly defend your position on everything all the time.

Still whilst Claudia may have behaved in a much more respectful way than Mr Tardis. Ultimately I think Claudia sadly still falls under the same criticism, of not practising what she preaches in regards to accepting female heroes.

Claudia Boleyn likes fewer female heroes than Mr Tardis (if such a thing were possible!) I have never seen her even mention Xena, Buffy, Charmed, The Heroic Trio, The Bride with White Hair, Once Upon A Time, Nikita, Ghost Whisperer etc. She doesn’t follow any prominent women within the genre on social media. (Once again, if you were to ask her who Lucy Lawless, Gina Torres, Eliza Dushku, or Summer Glau were, she’d probably draw a blank.)

Furthermore a lot of the male led shows she has reviewed and is a fan of, ironically have female counterparts that she doesn’t bother with. Its not even like she can say “this show isn’t the type of thing I don’t watch.” (Which wouldn’t hold any water anyway considering Claudia claims the most important thing about a series is good representation.)

Merlin one of her favourite series is for all intents and purposes a British expy of Xena.

Xena and Merlin are both pseudo historical series that merge surreal, camp comedy with quite dark, gritty and violent content. Both merge different historical periods together and revel in the historical inaccuracies as a source of humour. Finally both also update old myths and legends in a modern way.

Take a look at the two main villains from Xena and compare them to two of the main villains of Merlin. One is a cocky, egotistical guy, dressed in black leather with long hair, who thinks he’s god’s gift and who initially holds all the power. The other is a much more evil, intense, psychotic, blonde, who plays on his vanity and later turns the tables on and absolutely humiliates him.

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So the question is, why does Claudia not prefer Xena? If what she says is true that she has to see bisexual women like her on tv, then shouldn’t Xena that stars two bisexual women interest her more than Merlin, which stars two white, straight men?

Similarly look at Supernatural and Charmed. Claudia loves Supernatural, but I have never seen her mention Charmed. Both revolve around siblings fighting Demons, who come from a long line of Demon killers. Both feature Angels, who are not entirely sympathetic and are portrayed more as petty civil servants, too hung up on maintaining traditions at the cost of human life. In both instances, an older sibling develops an intense relationship with one of the Angels, who goes rogue, whilst the youngest develops a romantic relationship with a Demon; who the siblings eventually end up having to kill. Both shows even feature Death who is played by a sinister, but charming and affable English man. Death in both series holds a special interest in the main siblings, simply because they keep escaping him. Both shows even feature a finale called All Hell Breaks Loose, where one of the siblings dies and a deal is made to revive them, which ends very badly for the older sibling.

Yet once again Claudia loves Supernatural, the one starring MALE siblings and has 0 interest in Charmed starring female siblings.

Finally Class another male led show Claudia loves is basically just a British expy of Buffy. Both revolve around a group of misfit teenagers who have to guard over a portal beneath a school where monsters from other universes and worlds emerge.

So again why does Claudia not care about any of these female led series?

Whovian Feminism (a blogger whose real name is Alyssa Franke) is another famous example of not caring about female heroes, despite promoting herself as fighting for representation for women against the evil, toxic, white male side of fandom.

I have never seen Whovian Feminism even mention any female led series or films, bar the 2017 Wonder Woman that was in the cinemas.

Once again just like Mr Tardis, Whovian Feminism has never tracked down female led series on her own and tried to bring them to other people’s attention. She’s never supported or given a shout out to overlooked women in the genre. All she has done is attack prominent men within the genre and demand that male led series be more feminised.

Similarly the youtuber Samuel Davis is quick to dismiss all critics of Jodie’s Doctor as sexist gammons (including yours truly.) A quick look at Davis’ channel however shows once again that he doesn’t practice what he preaches.

There are NO reviews of female led series, like Once Upon A Time, Nikita, Xena etc on his channel. He doesn’t even have any knowledge of female led shows in the slightest. Once again Samuel Davis wouldn’t know a Renee O’Connor from a Maggie Q. Samuel Davies ironically probably likes fewer female heroes or female led, or created forms of entertainment than Claudia Boleyn herself!

Paul Cornell, a comic book writer, who has also written for Doctor Who, is perhaps the poster boy for SJW sell outs meanwhile. He has regularly slammed all critics of Jodie era Doctor, Ghostbusters and Captain Marvel as sexist, homophobic, racist MRAs.

In fact Paul even tweeted this cartoon depicting critics of Whittaker as wife beaters.

I’m sure posting cartoons where people who represent you shag the wives of people not happy with Jodie Whittakers era will get them watching again Paul. There’s a reason Claudia Boleyn is the only one people don’t hate. It is sad though that Claudia, someone in her early 20s was able to make a much more mature and even handed response to a critic, than Paul Cornell, someone in his early 50s! Also nice for feminist Paul Cornell to trivialise domestic abuse by comparing it to a disagreement about Doctor Who.

Ironically once again Paul has very little interest in female heroes. He has written some stories for Vampirella, but other than that the overwhelming majority of Paul’s favourite series and his own fiction star men. Look at his blog and you won’t find reviews of Buffy, Xena, Once Upon A Time, Nikita etc. He doesn’t follow the likes of Lucy Lawless, Sarah Michelle Gellar, or Lana Parrilla on social media, or ever give them a shout out either.

Cornell much like Trillbee knows NOTHING about women in the genre, yet constantly lords it over people with legit criticisms of female led films like Ghostbusters as though he is the only one who has ever watched a female led film.

So the real question is? Why do these people who claim to care so much about female heroes and are so quick to slander others as everything from misogynists, to wife beaters, to holocaust deniers have such little interest in and knowledge of female led series? Well there are 4 main reasons in my opinion.

4/ They Only Care About Making Themselves Look Good

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This more applies to male SJWs like Paul Cornell, Mr Tardis and Samuel Davis. Basically these guys want to lord it over other fans. They want to present themselves as more tolerant, forward thinking and on the right side of history, compared to the sad, smelly, basement dwelling Gammons.  Its all about their own ego rather than in actually building women up, so they have 0 actual interest in women in the genre.

In many cases they are also desperate to promote themselves professionally and so will pander to the dominant political ideology in the entertainment industry (which currently is leftist politics.)

Mr Tardis is an example of this. He mentioned in his video arguing that there is no political bias in Doctor Who, that he has worked freelance for the BBC before in an effort to claim that the BBC have no biases against hiring white men.

Jump to roughly 31 mins 30 secs in to see him admit he has frequently worked freelance for the BBC.

Trilbee’s claim that there is no bias against white men at the BBC is of course demonstrably not true. See here.

The Unspoken Bigotry of BBC’s Diversity Quotas

BBC Autumnwatch Presenter Sidelined For Being Too White

BBC Presenter Jon Homes Fired For Being Too White

BBC Chief Admits Monty Python Wouldn’t Be Hired For Being Too White And Male

Many have accused Mr Tardis of being a shill for the BBC as a result of lies like this. Whether he is actually being paid by them or not, I don’t think it can be denied that he is trying to get in with the BBC regardless.

In about 20 years time when right wing tribalism replaces left wing tribalism. (Generation Z are according to polls, the most right wing generation since world war 2.) These same people like Mr Tardis will most likely be sucking up to the right wingers who will take over the industry instead.

All they care about is making themselves look good or getting ahead. They currently think they can do that by making out that critics of controversial changes to characters like the Doctor hate all women, and that they are the modern day Gene Roddenberry’s standing up for the little people in fandom.

The great irony is that they end up using all of the tactics they accuse “toxic fandom” of using. Gaslighting, humiliation, dogpiling on people, misrepresentation of people’s opinions etc, but again they don’t care as they’d actually have to have principles for that.

3/ They Don’t Like Sci Fi or Fantasy

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The sad fact is that many SJWs don’t actually like Sci Fi and Fantasy. The likes of Claudia Boleyn and Whovian Feminism for instance are not actual sci fi fans. (This is not about gender before people accuse me of going on about fake geek girls. There are just as many male fans that this also applies too, such as Claudia Boleyn’s brother.)

These people will like just a few sci fi or fantasy franchises that are popular, but will ultimately not have any real knowledge of the genre. They won’t seek out sci fi, horror or fantasy books, films, television series or comic books on their own. They won’t even bother with the franchises they like now in a few years time when the franchises popularity fades somewhat. Of the franchises they do like, they won’t even like them for their sci fi or fantastical elements. Instead they’ll only care about things like shipping, representation, costumes they can wear to comic con etc.

Claudia Boleyn is a prime example of this. Claudia Boleyn does not like sci fi or fantasy in general. Look at her twitter page and you will find constant tweets about Coronation Street and Emmerdale Farm, two soap operas. She won’t bother with any sci fi or fantasy series that is not current. She won’t track down the old classics like Xena, Buffy, Blake’s 7, Lost in Space, Charmed, Red Dwarf etc.

Similarly if a current series is even remotely niche like Once Upon A Time or Ash Vs Evil Dead it will completely pass these people by. They will only know about a franchise if its current and mainstream.

I’m not saying this makes these people stupid or shallow. They just don’t have a vested interest in sci fi as a whole, but as a result of this they genuinely won’t know the likes of Kelly Maxwell, Callisto, or Regina even exist, as most sci fi and fantasy, regardless of whether its male or female led is niche.

I’d also argue that a lot of SJWs actually look down on sci fi and fantasy.

There is absolutely an element of class snobbery in their disdain for the genre. Many SJWs come from upper middle class backgrounds, where sci fi and its fans are seen as stupid and childish. Take a look at this memorable quote from Whovian Feminism about the people who don’t want a female Doctor.

“Supposedly well meaning observers always like to come in and say that hardcore fans won’t accept a woman portraying the Doctor. This attitude does both the show and our fandom a disservice. While there’s always a smattering of assholes to prove this type of attitude does exist, they aren’t even close to the majority. And even if that were true, we should not let the direction of the show be dictated by the worst of its fans. If a misogynistic jerk who disparagingly refers to a woman Doctor as The Nurse says he’ll quit watching the show, then he is exactly the type of fan we should be proud to piss off. I promise, plenty of new fans, (especially ones with disposable income) are waiting in the wings to take his place.”

We definitely don’t want any riff raff or plebs watching Doctor Who right Alyssa?

The real question is why are people like Claudia Boleyn and Whovian Feminism being treated as experts of the genre? Why do people listen to them when they complain about how sexist the genre is? About how there aren’t enough women role models? How they fuck would they know?

Similarly why are they more or less being allowed to decide the future of the genre, with producers seeing people like Claudia and Whovian Feminism as their target audience and pandering to them above all else?

The answer is because anyone who disagrees with the ideology these people represent is seen as a woman hater. Still ultimately these are people with 0 interest in the genre, making sweeping statements about it and its fans because it suits their agenda.

2/ Misplaced Guilt and Projection

A lot of SJWs who claim to be desperate to see more female led films and tv series, yet have 0 interest in any existing female led properties, I feel are perhaps projecting when they accuse others of needing to get used to female heroes.

These people (particularly if they are men.) Actually feel guilty for not preferring Xena and Buffy to Doctor Who and Star Trek. Its stupid for them to feel that way of course.

They might just prefer Doctor Who or Star Trek because they prefer the writing, acting, and characters. Also even if they did prefer the Doctor, a male hero, because they are male, by the SJWs logic what’s wrong with that? Feminists such as Claudia Boleyn constantly go on about how they prefer female heroes because they are female. (Despite never actually watching female led series.) The Doctor had to actually be changed from male to female so that Claudia and others could enjoy the character more. With this in mind what’s wrong with a male viewer preferring a male hero because he relates to him more?

Still whatever the case because these people are so obsessed with gender politics they actually do feel guilty for preferring a male hero to female hero.

See here for a classic example. Steve Shives, a notorious feminist youtuber who actually is made to feel guilty by his wife for preferring Angel as a series, not even as a character, to Buffy!

You can see how with this in mind a lot of these men are actually projecting when they rant about fandoms not accepting female heroes. Deep down they worry that applies to them for the stupidest of reasons.

1/ Anti Men Bigotry

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The regressive left have a very strong anti men bias. They essentially view all white men as being privileged shit lords who need taken down a peg or two.

See here for examples of the regressive left’s hatred of white men.

Man Free Festival Guilty of Discrimination

Why Sex Ed Classes Are Anti Men

Youtube Stops Hiring White Men As Part of Diversity

Cinemas Sued For Women Only Wonder Woman Screenings

NUS Gay Men Are Not Oppressed Enough

As a result of this, the regressive left naturally want to tear down forms of entertainment that men enjoy more, (which sci fi is perceived to be) and destroy any strong roles for men in entertainment that they can.

This is undoubtedly a large part of why the likes of Claudia Boleyn, Whovian Feminism, Christel Dee etc, are more interested in changing male characters into women, or replacing them with women, like the Doctor, Wolverine, Iron Man, Thor etc; than in original female heroes.

Xena, Buffy, Regina, Kelly Maxwell, Ripley, Nikita, do not take anything away from men. None of those characters ever make comments about men being inferior, nor have the actresses playing them even insulted their male viewers. Those characters are solely about building women up, which is why the likes of Claudia Boleyn and Whovian Feminism have 0 interest in them. Evidently building women up is less important to SJWs than tearing men down.

Feminists first of all want just about every sci fi or fantasy series to include digs against men. We can see this in SJW themed series such as the notorious CW version of Supergirl and later seasons of the 21st century version of Doctor Who.

See here.

In addition to this feminists want to turn as many male heroes into women, not because they want to see more female heroes, but because they want to take role models away from little boys.

Don’t give me the “but a female Doctor can still be a role model to little boys just as much.” If that’s the case, then why can’t a male Doctor not be a role model to little girls?

Ultimately you don’t have to take a role model away from either. You can create more female counterparts to male heroes, or more totally original female heroes. In Doctor Who’s case there already was a time lady character named Romana, who could have been brought back to the revival and then given her own show, allowing both little boys and little girls to have role models of their own.

The feminists and the SJWs don’t want that however. They want little boys to lose role models, because they perceive them as all being privileged and having had it too good for too long.

Peter Davison, who played the Fifth Doctor was slandered as a sexist and eventually chased off of social media by feminists, for daring to say that he was unhappy at boys losing a role model in the Doctor.

Peter Davison Quits Twitter Over Toxic Who Fandom

How dare Peter Davison say he’s sad for little boys to lose a hero. Fucking bastard Gammon!

If the SJWs can’t take a role away from male audiences then they will insist on the character being emasculated or weakened.

Examples of this include Luke Skywalker who was famously undermined in Star Wars The Last Jedi, or the original William Hartnell incarnation of the Doctor who was brought back in the first episode to feature Jodie Whittaker, and rewritten into a sexist, homophobic moron.

All of these petty little digs against white men are clearly far more important to the SJWs than actual female empowerment.

The irony is that their constant digs against men are why the majority of both men and women in fandoms HATE SJWs. Men don’t like seeing iconic characters like Luke and the Doctor be made into self loathing males, whilst the majority of women outside of the SJWs little elitist bubble don’t like seeing men get insulted. Most men and women actually like each other. I’d never watch a show where strong female characters like Xena and Buffy were constantly insulted or undermined the way the men are in Supergirl, or the 21st century version of Doctor Who.

Its got nothing to do with people not being able to accept female heroes. Ironically the SJWs are the people who want to systematically attack the representation of one gender, but like all bullies they present themselves as the victims and accuse people of what they are guilty of, IE attacking all postive and strong representations of one gender.

Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that the likes of Claudia Boleyn, Christel Dee, or even Whovian Feminism are psychopathic, man hating feminazis who would never be friends with a man.

I think that they are all young people who have fallen under the influence of a very toxic ideology. One which does at least foster bitterness and resentfulness against men.

This is not about women taking over franchises. Ironically about 95 percent of the people who have brought this SJW nonsense into sci fi and fantasy series are men! Either self loathing men like Steven Moffat or people who don’t really believe it, but think it can make them popular, like Paul Cornell. Many of the most outspoken critics of identity politics meanwhile have been women.

Ultimately this is about a corrosive ideology (that is pushed by just as many men as women.) Having too strong an influence on the entertainment industry.

Its an ideology that harms both men and women in the genre. Not only does it pit them against each other, but it also tears down or replaces all strong roles for men, like Luke Skywalker, the Doctor etc, whilst ironically ensuring that strong roles for women like Xena and Kelly Maxwell are ignored.

We need to therefore always challenge SJWs about what it is they really want. Make them question why if they actually care about representation, they don’t bother watching any female led shows that are out there? That question should always be asked of the likes of Whovian Feminism, Claudia Boleyn and Samuel Davis.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who Season 18 Review

Image result for Tom Baker season 18

(This article is from a friend of mine named Laurence Buxton. I have decided to showcase some of his writing here. Let me know what you think, and enjoy.)

DOCTOR WHO. SEASON 18 REVIEW. By Laurence Buxton 2019.

Season Credits : –

Produced by John Nathan-Turner

Executive Produced by Barry Letts

Scripts edited by Christopher Hamilton Bidmead

THE LEISURE HIVE

Written by David Fisher. Directed by Lovett Bickford

Plot

The Doctor and Romana cut short a less-than-successful holiday on Brighton beach and decide to head to the famous Leisure Hive on the post-apocalyptic planet Argolis. They soon find themselves caught in a political powderkeg, where the natives are at risk of being manipulated to sell the Hive by a breakaway group of their mortal enemies the Foamasi. Meanwhile a militant young Argolin, Pangol, is looking to use the power of the Hive’s Generator, tweaked by the Earth scientist Hardin, to form an army of doppelgangers to destroy the Foamasi. The Doctor must not only convince the suspicious Argolins he is not behind a sudden murder in the Hive, but find a way to reverse his accidental rapid ageing and to prevent all-out war breaking out between the Argolin and the Foamasi…

‘The Time Lord’s looking his age all of a sudden – is the party over for Doctor Who?’

Review

Following the popular, if shortened and rather frivolous season 17 ( after shooting of the troubled Shada production was finally abandoned ) few could have expected the massive changes that Doctor Who, under the stewardship of JNT and Christopher Bidmead, would incur. With the departure of producer Graham Williams and script editor Douglas Adams the undergraduate humour that had begun to slip in during s16 was firmly vewtoed, and so when the series reappeared there would be very little, apart from the continuing presence ( for now ) of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward on board the TARDIS, to link it to what had gone before.

Not since season 7, with the introduction of Jon Pertwee, colour TV and UNIT, had there been quite as many fundamental changes to the on-screen realisation of Dr Who. Gone was the time tunnel sequence that had been a staple of Tom Baker’s time on the show; gone too was the ghostly howl of the theme tune, to be replaced by a ‘travelling through the stars’ opening segment and a more haunting, phased and up-tempo ( often referred to as the ‘disco’ ) arrangement by Peter Howell. Both seemed to be aimed at dragging the series into the 1980s, and it only took a brief look at the sets and special effects in the trailers to realise that the standards of both had done the same.

Even more changes are clearly signified by the opening scene, ones which give a chilling notice of intent for a gloom-laden future for the season, and for the Doctor personally, especially when compared to the previous year’s. The knockabout first moments of season 17 (Destiny Of The Daleks) on board the TARDIS had seen a coughing K9 being teased by the Doctor about having ‘laryngitis’, whilst Romana casually tried on a succession of new ‘bodies’ and ‘styles of dress’ – the latter including Baker’s – with the Doctor sniffily passing judgment on each. In The Leisure Hive, the opening titles to part 1 are followed by a plaintive and wistful synthesiser score accompanying a very lengthy pan across a notably out-of-season, windswept Brighton beach – all flapping deckchairs and abandoned beach tents. The camera finally alights on the Doctor, alone, wearing a vampire-like variation of his famous outfit, and slumped as if dead with his hat over his face. Even the apparent attempts to inject humour into this startlingly forlorn scene with the arrival of Romana and K9 sit disconcertingly with the viewer (the Doctor’s apparent narcolepsy, K9’s ill-advisedly going into the sea to ‘fetch’ a ball for Romana, and exploding) and with their referencing of decay and death seem to bode ill for both the titular hero and his trusty metal dog in series 18. More of which in future reviews…

The Leisure Hive, a story rumoured to make wry comment on the declining status of the British tourist industry, is nothing if not convincingly brought to the screen, with a gloss and sheen that was then new to the production, with evocative shots of the planet’s surface. The directing and camerawork from Bickford is certainly distinctive, and with the use of editing the Foamasi come across as an effective menace, when depicted as shadows, claws etc. This effectively increases the tension levels through the opening episodes, where a breakaway group of the Foamasi (originally envisaged as a kind of alien Mafia) are breaking their way into The Hive. They are also, unfortunately, rather too portly when viewed properly to convince as being able to disguise themselves as humans (as with Julian Glover’s head being the ‘disguise’ for the Jagaroth in series 17’s City Of Death). Hence the close-ups and single-camera work used here by Bickford, who unfortunately ran over budget and was not asked to return to the program.

There are also a certain amount of pacing problems with The Leisure Hive, notably in the first half, where events such as the landing of Mena’s spaceship, and the aforementioned pan along the beach are perhaps allowed to run on for rather too long and test the viewer’s attention span before the story, let alone the season, has really got going. Another oversight is the moment where Hardin’s shifty financier, Stimson, is fleeing from a Foamasi and leaves his glasses on the floor which are promptly stepped on and crushed by the alien – whilst a suitable conveyor of the ill fate which is about to befall him. However the likelihood of him either not noticing or at least trying to retrieve them stretches credibility, and a more convincingly edited sequence would at least have shown why he did not try to get them back. Apart from what is shown from the later shots of the Foamasi, however, the costuming and casting in The

Leisure Hive are generally strong, and the political scene on Argolis is well-realised through the many conversations by the major players in the boardroom. The theme of characters such as Morix and Mena displaying their mortality ( through the ‘buds’ dropping off their heads and visibly dying as this happens ) links in well with the grim themes of entropy and decay not only in the Argolin world but season 18 generally, themes that set the season a league away from what had gone before in light-hearted stories like The Horns Of Nimon and The Creature From The Pit.

Other aspects of the production are more hard to fault. Peter Howell does the incidental music for The Leisure Hive, and he does a good job at initiating a very different, austere synth soundtrack for the season, a clear step away from what had previously been heard on the show. Howell also went on to score the likes of Meglos and though obviously varying from story to story, the haunting style of this background music adds much to stories such as State of Decay, Warrior’s Gate and particularly Paddy Kingsland-scored Logopolis. There is a balancing during the suspenseful and serious scenes of high-pitched drone and lower, clanking ominous sounds. The opening pan along Brighton beach is perhaps the most distinguished moment, however, the aforementioned mournful melodies finally lightening with the ironic burst of “Oh I Do Like To Be Before The Seaside” upon the glimpse of the Doctor. Nonetheless the underpinning of the action with pensive, minor-key synthesized motifs will form another navel-gazing element of a downbeat season.

It is noticeable that this more serious atmosphere is partly induced by the changes in the dialogue, which are certainly noticeable in this story – as well as the removal of Baker’s physical pratfalls of series 17 there are noticeably fewer wisecracks made between the Doctor and Romana, and the concentration is now on not only political but scientific wording : discussions hinge here on the likes of tachyon recreation generators, anti-baryon shields, and so on. This would gain the show criticism by some long-term reviewers for being rather distant and clinical, and for fans of David Tennant’s more recent portrayal of the Doctor there are no vague ‘timey-wimey’ style explanations here.

Not as accessible to a casual viewer as in the past, perhaps, but there are at least strong and more serious performances from most of the guest cast. David Haig, well-known now for playing comic supporting roles alongside Hugh Grant in the likes of Four Weddings And A Funeral and Two Weeks’ Notice, shines as the increasingly militant and deranged Pangol, convincingly developing the character from apparently good-humoured tour guide to hate-filled fanatic, and making his ultimate defeat suitably poetic. Adrienne Corri also puts in good work as the dignified and wise Mena, and Laurence Payne, who would go on to appear as the ambitious scientist Dastari in the Colin Baker story The Two Doctors , plays the short-lived Chairman Of The Board, Morix, who desperately wants to finish the negotiations over the Hive before his imminent demise. Nigel Lambert also has plenty to do as Hardin, and forms a trusting bond with Baker’s Doctor. There are also great cliffhangers to part 1 ( where the Doctor is apparently dismembered by the Generator ) and part 2 ( where the Doctor emerges from the machine prematurely aged ).

Following on from the notorious ‘commentaries’ which accompany the DVD releases, much has been made of the tensions between Tom Baker and other cast members this season, which, coupled with the apparent after-effects of an illness that he caught in Australia, bring a world-weariness to his performances that had been totally lacking in previous years. Coupled with the need for him to play an aged version of his character, complete with long beard and sad eyes, Baker suddenly seems far more subdued, less comic ( even the ‘arrest the scarf’ comment he makes on being accused of Stimson’s murder is glossed over ) and even when not aged by the machine his portrayal here comes across much more consciously autumnal – when K9 ‘dies’ from going in the water at the beginning he continues to snooze, remains seated during his conversation with Romana and falls asleep again before she has finished. The more mature, less garish and more stylised black and burgundy version of his ‘costume’, which Baker allegedly did not approve of, arguably adds to this sense of decline, as well as his occasionally gaunt appearance, broody demeanour and slightly greyer hair. On the issue of his superbly-realised ‘aged’ appearance after entering the Generator special mention should go to make-up artist Dorka Nieradzik, and Baker’s increasingly drained, wistful and desperate performance has garnished great praise, for all the rumours of bad behaviour on the set.

Then of course there’s poor old K9, with his original voicer John Leeson back in the fold. With his indisputable logic and lethal lasers, the ‘metal dog’ had been such a useful ally to the Doctor and Romana in the past, particularly in season 17, but here he’s pretty much sidelined in scene one after his dip in the Channel – a deliberate ploy from the new production team that would become a regularity until the character was written out later in the season. The character had been seen as too easy a way for the heroes to escape from potentially difficult situations, hence lessening the danger and heightening the humour, and so spends much of s18 being mistreated, repaired or generally being out of action. If there were such a thing as the ‘Royal Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Droids’, then they would have had a field day with the majority of stories in s18.

The Leisure Hive represents a dour new direction for Who under JNT and, more temporarily, Bidmead. Technobabble takes over from titters, longeurs from laughs, and the fact that the show struggled for viewing figures up against the more light-hearted sci-fi of Buck Rogers is perhaps not so surprising in hindsight. In fairness however the serial, whilst containing one or two costuming and plotting issues, and whilst rarely remembered as either a fun romp likeCity Of Death or a gothic masterpiece like Talons Of Weng-Chiang, did at least allow the show to develop

greatly away from the sometimes farcical tone of the previous show. It also establishes the themes that would, in some form or another, encompass the entire season.

MEGLOS

Written by John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch. Directed by Terence Dudley

Plot

An old friend of the Doctor’s, Zastor, requests that he visit his planet of Tigella (one of two planets in the Prion star system, the other being Zolfa-Thura) to help investigate why the Dodecahedron (the source of their power) is fluctuating. The problem is compounded by the fact that their society is split into two tribes – the Savants, who have used its power scientifically, and the Deons, who believe that the Dodecahedron has been passed down from the god Ti. However, the TARDIS is trapped within a time loop by the last remaining Zolfa-Thuran, a cactus-like Meglos who has enlisted the help of some Gaztak mercenaries, led by the grumpy General Grugger and the impulsive Brotadac, and forces an Earthling to merge with him to enable him to take the Doctor’s identity. The Doctor needs to free himself and Romana from the time loop, stop Lexa and the rest of the Deons from launching a coup, prevent his own execution at Lexa’s hands and stop Meglos and the gaztaks making off with the dodecahedron.

‘A talking cactus, a devilish Doctor doppelganger – is Douglas Adams back on board?’

Review

After the serious introduction to the new season with the dramatically different The Leisure Hive, Meglos appears on paper to be a surprisingly quick return to the more whimsical, not to say fantastical style of storytelling of s16 and particularly s17. A talking cactus with aspirations to steal an immensely-powerful device and disguising itself as a diabolical double of the Doctor, whilst enlisting the help of a semi-comic selection of blundering space pirates. On the face of it, a return to the light-hearted entertainment of the show’s then recent past.

However Meglos touches on themes which had always been central to Doctor Who, in particular the battle between science and religion – here represented by the scientific Savants, led by Deedrix and the fanatical religious figures of the Deons, led by Lexa. This is slightly at odds with what could have been an unusually knockabout and daft adventure in the gloomy season 18. Inevitably the Deons are shown to be stubborn and struggle to listen to reason, though like the Savants ultimately their intentions are noble, and whereas in the past a race of scientists has not always managed to co-exist with others – note the strained ‘union’ between the Sevateem and the Tesh in the season 14 story, “The Face Of Evil” – at least there is a genuine chance of co-operation after the heroic death of Lexa and the destruction of the Dodecahedron.

Typical to the season, however, there are also themes of society being in decay and needing a revolution or change, and the attempted sacrifice of the Doctor by the increasingly powerful Lexa links back to rituals in stories such as The Power Of Kroll, where not only is such barbarism is shown as primitive, xenophobic and closed-minded, but the Dexans’ increasing dominance actually allows the pirates to make off with the Dodecahedron. Once again the Doctor arrives at the correct time, as unbeknown to the Tigellans Meglos is launching a plan that will take advantage of the Time Lords’ friendship with Zastor, and curiously it is Meglos’ abuse of the Doctor’s privileged position that, having threatened his life, allows him to bring down the threat to the fractured society and help it develop.

In fairness the suspicion of the Doctor is on this occasion understandable, due to the very convincing impersonation by the human-melded Meglos, even though it is never really explained why the villains needed to go to all the trouble of obtaining an apparently random human earthling was needed for this rather than a local Tigellan. It is also not convincingly explained how Meglos performs many of his actions in this serial, from the shrinking of the dodecahedron to the piloting of the spaceship, to the sealing the doors shut to prevent the Gaztaks from looting the ship, to the notorious ‘Chronic Hysteresis’. not to mention how the character is able to give the appreciative Brotadac the Doctor’s coat for good keeping.

On the subject of the titular villain, Tom Baker surpasses himself in the role of his own adversary, contrasting nicely even with his now more subdued – and occasionally grouchy, note the opening scene in the TARDIS – Doctor. Having already proven his ability to play an ‘evil’ version of the Doctor by briefly doubling as his robot imposter in “The Android Invasion”, Baker is asked here to play both the Doctor and the main villain for most of the story, and in doing so provides it with its ‘draw’. Baker steals the show every time he is on-screen as the villain, whether roaring “I am Meglos!” at Karris, shouting “Patience!” at the excitable but dim-witted Brotadac or coldly stating, “We mustn’t disappoint the Tigellans” to his co-conspirators, upon first appearing to them and the viewers in the Doctor’s guise. The actor’s excellence keep the strange premise grounded, and provides the unusual but excellent cliffhanger to episode 1.

Baker is great too at subtly enhancing the Doctor’s softer, warmer qualities when he pretends to be the disguised Meglos in return. The spiky green make-up for the actor as Meglos fights against the Earthling trying to exert his independence from him is excellent, and as on the Leisure Hive the production values are strong, including the scenes toward the stories’ climax where the Doctor and Meglos are locked away together as there is not the usual superimposing problem of having the same actor on screen twice. Indeed the two characters are immediately personally distinct in every way, which again stands as a compliment to Baker’s ability, even it renders the obvious subterfuge on the viewer less convincing than expected – there’s rarely a moment of doubt as to which ’version’ of the Doctor is which. Still, whatever criticisms Baker had of the changes made to Doctor Who for his last season, the first two stories in particular give him a great chance to play outside the normal constraints of the Time Lord’s character.

Unsurprisingly then it’s the lead actor’s show, but there are other strong performances. Lalla Ward is given plenty to do as Romana – note her curious reaction in the opening scene in the TARDIS when Baker states “First things first – but not necessarily in that order”, and it’s good to see K9 get a serious run-out after his ‘cameo’ in the opening scene of The Leisure Hive, though the metal dog is no sooner repaired than he runs out of power and is demeaningly kicked by Grugger. Stand-out among the guest cast is the surprise return of former Who star Jacqueline Hill (a rare case of an actor/actress who had portrayed a former companion, in her case Barbara Wright, returning in a guest role), giving a three-dimensional performance and instilling some genuine debating skills into the character rather than portraying her as just a two-dimensional ranting religious zealot – she even heroically lays down her life for Romana. Crawford Logan and Christopher Owen are also committed as Deedrix and the ‘possessed’ Earthling respectively, although Bill Fraser’s role as the grumpy, blustering Grugger is something he had by now been rather typecast in, after similar roles in comic films alongside the likes of Frankie Howerd. Though intended as mostly comic relief, Frederick Treves is mostly as annoying to the audience as the coat-obsessed Brotadac as he is to his fellow schemers, whilst Edward Underdown’s Zastor sadly fails to convince as any kind of leader even before his attempted deposing by Lexa.

Again the production values are more convincing than in then recent years : Meglos’ spaceship is clinical but convincingly high-tech, and the contrast between the white of the Savants and the red attire with black headgear of the Deons is simple, but striking. Perhaps for budgetary reasons the dodecahedron is shielded from the audiences’ view whilst still in its larger form, however, and its underwhelming ‘detonation’ at the end, to the chagrin of the squabbling villains, is a rather throwaway ending to the serial. There is also a fairly unconvincing sequence at the end of episode 2, where Romana is chased and apprehended by the Gaztaks, led by a shrill and rather unthreatening Brotadac, and once again the production team’s attempts to convincingly recreate the surface of a vegetative world look over ambitious, although it is still far from the worst ever seen on the show.

Peter Howell handles the incidental music for the story, and for the most part does very well at supplying apt atmospheric touches to different occasions and situations – the eerie rattle musical cue for Meglos immediately grabs the audience’s attention whenever he appears, which combined with Baker’s unblinking and stern-faced portrayal is the highlight of the serial. There is also the use of stately music in the early Debating Chamber sequences establishes the society well, and the increasingly fast-tempo use of ‘chanting’ vocoders in the sequence where Lexa is attempting to sacrifice the Doctor builds to a tense climax as the rope burns away.

There are also welcome touches of humour peppered throughout the tale, surprisingly for this more austere season, although fan reaction to these is often exaggerated due to the notable absence of comedy in the other stories. Furthermore, unlike the latter stages of the Williams era some of them actually seem to have been in the script originally, and those that do appear more improvised and natural are a little more tightly-edited and not allowed to get out of hand. That said, there are more unguarded moments that appear to have been allowed through – the previously mentioned one from Lalla Ward in the opening TARDIS scene, where she clearly winces, and one from a giggling Baker in the initial scene of the ‘time loop’. Other jokes, where Zastor chides Deedrix for being argumentative or during the Chronic Hysteris – which was itself widely criticised as being part of padding to increase the story from 3 to 4 parts – where K9 addresses the Doctor as Mistress, are dealt with in a more deadpan fashion that would have been the case in the past. The previously mentioned long-running joke about Brotadac’s obsession with Meglos’ discarded coat which he ends up wearing also works as a metaphor of changed identity, along with Meglos’ adoption of the Fourth Doctor’s persona, the fight for control of the Earthling and the spooky moment where the Doctor ends up facing his doppelganger. That comes immediately after the belly-laugh moment where the Doctor witnesses Meglos being winded and apprehended, opining “Ooh nasty – that could have been me!” before exactly the same fate happens to him seconds later. “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?” states Baker upon facing his double, a sequence that briefly harks back to the ready wit and fun of the previous season.

But whilst not nearly as bleak as other season 18 stories such as The Leisure Hive, Warriors Gate or particularly Logopolis, Meglos also continues the former story’s theme of society stagnating, and the impasse between the Savants and the Deons in the opening debate being mirrored by the TARDIS crew being trapped by the Chronic Hysteris. The famous, endlessly-looping short sequence of comic events (the Doctor tripping over, Romana’s casual exasperation), which the crew escape by deliberately performing it out of turn, is regularly remarked on as a comment on the show’s former failings under the Williams era. It’s possible to imagine JNT and Bidmead saying Romana’s repeatedly circling opening groan of “Oh blast – here we go again!” to the previous season’s similar frolics, but here the sombre incidental music, and the way that Baker and Ward’s previously lightheartedness changes to real concern at the possibility of being stuck in it forever, makes the threat more unsettling than comic. This feeling is reinforced when a serious-faced and malevolent Baker subsequently appears as the transformed Meglos has been criticised for having a lightweight conclusion, and the comments are valid. Overall, though, is still a very enjoyable adventure in the classic Doctor Who mould, with generally strong acting and with its less downbeat mood it breaks up the more weighty stories that make up season 18, and one featuring a very impressive dual role from the still impressive Tom Baker. The next three stories, making up the E-Space trilogy, would see a return to a more thematically-rich style of storytelling.

E-SPACE TRILOGY

FULL CIRCLE

Written by Andrew Smith. Directed by Peter Grimwade

Plot

The Doctor tries to take the reluctant Romana back to Gallifrey, but pass through a Charged Vacuum Emboitment. Despite the scanner showing that they are on their home planet, they have actually landed on Alzerius, containing people whose origins are from another planet, Terradon. There is a schism between the crew who wish to take off in the Starliner (led by Three Deciders) to return to Terradon and a band of outcasts who reject the oligarchy of the Deciders. When the Mistfall descends, strange Marshmen start to emerge from the swamps, and spider-like creatures start to hatch from eggs that have come from the Riverfruit that make up part of the colonists’ diet, and the outcasts take refuge on board the Starliner which puts the crew at further risk. As well as trying to prevent Romana from devolving when she is bitten by a spider the Time Lord tries to discover what the connection is between the the spiders, the Marshmen and the crew, and just how long they have been preparing to leave Alzerius…

‘The Doctor and Romana immediately regret entering E-Space – and on top of Adric there are Marshmen for them to deal with, too…

Review.

It’s off into E-Space we go with the Doctor, for a trilogy of very different adventures : an evolutionary tale, a Hammer horror homage and an experimental mind-bender. Full Circle, the first of the trio, harks back in some ways to the ‘sympathetic monsters’ and moral dilemmas of early Pertwee-era Who, despite the higher production values and extra sheen. Furthermore it adds an extra twist to the genre as well as another element of variety to an already varied season, with the revelation that the Marshmen, and the Marshspiders before them, are ultimately the same race as the crew – and the circle of life will continue unabated unless drastic change is made.

Full Circle is the first story by the then 18-year old Andrew Smith, and it has to be adjudged a success, never gaining cheap criticism over the years in the manner of either the ‘derivative’ vampire tale State Of Decay or the ‘overly-complicated’ or ‘baffling’ Warriors’ Gate, with Smith’s scripts proving remarkably multi-layered and mature for the author’s age. The story also succeeds in introducing the unlikely ( and unpopular ) future companion of Adric in a subplot, where the adolescent fruitlessly endeavours to prove himself to his brother Varsh and his friends in much the way that the Starliners’ crew try to prove to themselves that they are not trapped on Alzerius. This determination to gain respect would be a characteristic that, whatever one thinks of the character and Matthew Waterhouse’s performance, would define the character through to his surprise exit in the Davison years.

The atmosphere is definitely murkier than the more ‘straight-ahead story’ of the preceding Meglos. The idea of Mistfall clearly fills the locals with a sense of dread, and the spooky music during part 1, including electronic drums and pan-pipe style synths as well as the usual minor-key motifs, enhances the menace of the bubbling swamps. Moreover the Doctor himself is fairly slow to get to the scene, too late to save Decider Draith who is chillingly dragged into the swamp whilst accosting Adric. The idea of being locked away on the sterile Starliner for up to ten years is shown as being almost as much of a punishment as being left outside during the Mistfall, and the irony that the crew have never learnt to fly the fully active Starliner seemingly condemns them to their needless fate, the same as befell the previous 40 000 or so generations.

There are strong central performances to enhance the clever concept, too. Baker shows charming little flashes of humour: when he meets the Marsh Child “How odd – I usually get on terribly well with children!” or flashing the now-rare grin when the Deciders introduce themselves to him, “And I’m the Doctor!”, quiet inquisitiveness in the opening two episodes, his usual unpredictable reactions to events, one amusing telling-off of Adric upon a crowd of Alzerians emerging from the TARDIS, “What is this, Noah’s ark!?” and finally roaring his dismissal of the Deciders’ flimsy moral self-defence after the Marshchild’s death, “Not an alibi – Deciders!” make this another strong outing for his portrayal of the Time Lord. But it’s Lalla Ward who gets the plaudits this time, coming into her own away from Baker’s Doctor. Here we see Ward able to play a more assertive yet nuanced version of Romana – witness her cheerful admonishment of Adric for asking her to touch his wounded knee – acting despondently upon hearing that she is wanted back on Gallifrey, during the quietly intimate scene with Baker in her quarters on the TARDIS, or the scene where, with the help of Adric, she disarms Varsh and points the knife at him before calmly handing it back. But the piece de resistance is the moment where she gets possessed by the spider – just as Baker got to play against the preconceptions of the audience in previous adventures, here it is Ward’s turn, and she rises to the occasion.

One of the accusations always levelled at the classic series of Doctor Who is that it contains wobbly sets and rubbery monsters, but here the season again defies this – if only to a point. The Marshmen arising from the swamp represent a dramatic (if unfortunately curtailed) climax to part 1, and the Marshchild comes across as a genuinely innocent and sympathetic character whom the audience immediately feels sorry for. As a contrast, however, the scuttling spiders are far less realistic, and Romana’s initial dismissal of them seems a more appropriate reaction than her subsequent terror. However the interiors of the Starliner are minimalist but effective, and the Inquisition chamber beautifully balances the black and grey décor with the gold of the Deciders, whilst the make-up for Romana’s ‘possession’ is also a winner.

One aspect of the production that becomes apparent from here on in, and would become an even more noticeable problem during Davison’s tenure as the Doctor, however, is the ‘costuming’ of some of the regulars. Whilst Romana here appears in a strikingly different red gold and white apparel as opposed to her ‘sailor’ outfit of the first two transmitted tales, the Doctor’s attire, though stylish, distinctive and more urbane than his previous ‘random collection’ of clothes, is by now seeming to be as much a ‘uniform’ as clothes of choice. Whilst Davison’s Doctor’s inflexible cricket garb and Colin Baker’s notorious multi-coloured coat when playing the role are worse intruders in this sense than the 4th Doctor’s’ burgundy outfit, JNT’s stating that this was for merchandising reasons only half-convinces, and has given rise to speculation that this was also an attempt to ensure that Baker played the Doctor as a dramatic part and not simply as an extension of the more comic side of his real-life personality. In any case, considering how many times the Doctor lands on a planet or spacecraft and is instantly threatened or ‘tried’ for a crime by suspicious individuals, coupled with the amount of clothing that we have seen on several occasions within the TARDIS, it makes little sense that he would now ensure that he or his companions would look even more out of place than usual, and therefore place themselves in immediate danger and hinder his investigations. In the near future, Adric’s off-yellow and grey ‘pyjama’ outfit becomes a particularly hideous example of this once he stows away on board the TARDIS, in this adventure.

On the subject of Adric, Matthew Waterhouse gets a great deal of bad press for his performance here as Adric, and his general attempts in the future at trying to display the character’s often contradictory qualities of intelligence and well-meaning kindness whilst being naïve and desperate to impress. Actually his performance in Full Circle is not too bad, displaying a pragmatic side (when he advises that Romana look outside the door rather than look for technological ways of surveying the surface of the planet), brief moments of burgeoning sexuality (the aforementioned scene with Romana), bravery (when he helps Romana fight off the River people), and ironically reacting more calmly and naturally to the Doctor than in later adventures. He still finds himself on the receiving end of a fair few Baker broadsides throughout the adventure, however, as does Romana, and commentaries on the E-Space trilogy box-set have proved rather candid on the deteriorating communications on-set at the time – such as Baker allegedly not looking at his co-stars during takes if riled. Perhaps more pertinently during his time on the show, the character’s occasional sulks or ill-considered wilfulness, such as one which indirectly leads to Decider Draith’s death, hindered his would-be allies and greatly alienated viewers, right up to the character’s final story.

Of the rest of the cast, Richard Willis impressed many as the more headstrong Varsh, by some way the best of the actors playing the Outlers and unfortunately casting a shadow over the appointment of Adric as companion, and the death of his brother saving his life would be rather glossed over for much of the mathematician’s time on board the TARDIS. George Baker is probably the best of the Deciders, although Leonard Maguire impresses as the ill-fated Draith. The musical accompaniment, like many this season, is of a high standard, particularly the Church organ-style music during the ‘Decider’ scenes on board the Starliner.

The subject of resistance to change, or an (in)ability to adapt is a key theme to Full Circle. The Marshmen are observed by Romana as adapting to their new environment quickly when she admonishes Varsh and the others; in contrast are the inhabitants of the Starliner, who in some cases show a struggle to develop without the Doctor’s assistance – take the scene where the three Deciders each expect the others to come up with a solution to the Marshmen invasion. There is a neat moment where the Doctor remarks to Adric that “we’ve come full circle”, which his new companion remarks is what the scientists have observed – which can be compared with the Chronic Hysteris sequence in Meglos . Ultimately the two remaining Deciders are forced to make a decision on whether the Starliner stays and their race continues to go full circle or leaves, and evolves, and the fact that they depart Alzerius – albeit with a little prodding from the Doctor – provides the positive resolution to the story. Apathy is defeated, though the theme of stagnation and disinterest would again surface during the E-Space trilogy (Warriors’ Gate).

Full Circle is another strong story, well-directed by debutant Peter Grimwade and with plenty of opportunity for both Baker’s Doctor and Ward’s Romana to shine in a well-written script that disproves the addage that first-time or ‘fan’ writers cannot come up with the goods. The addition of Adric’s ‘boy genius’ to the TARDIS crew would allegedly cause ructions on-set, but the theme of change prevalent in the tale is particularly apt here – with the arrival of Adric, the process of change had begun of the crew themselves. By the end of the season the Doctor, Romana and K9 would all, like the crew of the Starliner, be gone…

E-SPACE TRILOGY

STATE OF DECAY. Written By Terrance Dicks. Directed by Peter Moffatt

Plot

Still trapped in E-Space The Doctor, Romana, K9 and the stowed-away Adric arrive on an unnamed planet. They are surprised to find that it is almost feudal, and note that the villagers are in fear of the ‘Three Who Rule’: elusive beings who dwell in a nearby Tower, and with the help of their guards, the Habris, seem to be behind the annual disappearance of a number of the younger villagers. Threatened by the Lords’ guards and the mysterious ‘Wasting’, the adventurers look to investigate the reason why the corpses of the missing villagers are drained of blood, whether the Three Who Rule and the Tower itself are linked to a spaceship which once landed there, and whether a long-standing enemy of the Time Lords could be behind the current state of decay…

‘It isn’t just the young stowaway on the TARDIS who’s’ proving a pain in the neck…’

Review.

“It’ll be dark soon” notes Romana towards the end of the first episode, and this observation highlights not only the ethos of the gloomy march to oblivion of season 18 of Doctor Who but more specifically the phobia of creatures that fear the sunlight. And the fact that State Of Decay is the title is something of an irony, as not only is the story about a society that has become something of a regression but the story itself is something of a throwback, being as it is a rewrite of an adventure initially intended to take place in the Gothic days of s15.

During the earlier days of the Tom Baker era classic monsters from film and literature had been the subject of homage successfully. His very first story (Robot ) was a tip of the hat to King Kong, and another of his earlier adventures (The Brain Of Morbius) was clearly inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. So why not take the vampire legend and put that unique Doctor Who spin on it too?

Of course Gothic Horror such as The Brain Of Morbius had been successfully done during the Hinchcliffe era, and even when not featuring any kind of horror genre-related villain, it had been a defining feel of early Tom Baker stories such as series 12, 13 and 14. Indeed, an early form of the serial had been submitted by Terrance Dicks back in 1977 during the Hinchcliffe era called The Witch Lords, and was intended to open series 15, but due to a clash with a BBC adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula the claustrophobic, lighthouse-based story Horror Of Fang Rock (which was perhaps even more horror-inspired) was commissioned instead. With hindsight, then, one can see such a story fitting in well to that period of Tom Baker’s tenure.

The title and theme of State Of Decay slot more appropriately into this entropy-obsessed season, however, and encapsulate the general theme of societies in decay, decline and regression. The Doctor’s conversation with Camilla and Zargo in the second episode highlights this, as does his subsequent chat with Romana where he deduces that the vampires are the original crew of Hydrax, and that the ‘throne room’ was once the spaceship’s control booth. The planet is clearly in a state of devolution, obvious from the scene where the Doctor talks of ‘consonantal shift’ explaining the changing of the Three That Rule’s names over a great period of time and the fact that the control room is now a throne room, and from the moment the villagers produce communicators and other hi-tech devices yet, as in Full Circle, are unable to explain what ‘the Wasting’ actually is. Once again, such self-destructive traditions and fears are questioned by the Doctor upon his arrival, and by doing so he prevents a society from stagnating – ironically causing the literal ‘wasting away’ of the Three That rule when he slays the Great Vampire.

Another theme that rears its head is the easiness of waiting for things to improve rather than taking risks to ensure that they do. The scene where Tarak, Kalmar and the others argue in the dwelling highlights a theme that was particularly noticeable in the previous story, Full Circle, where the crew of the Starliner showed an unwillingness to learn how to launch a perfectly functional Starship, actually sabotaging it to avoid doing so. Kalmar admits he is prepared to put off any revolution for several generations if necessary, and apart from Tarak the others agree that it is ‘too soon’. The acquisition of knowledge is seen as the greatest power in a society like theirs, as Camilla remarks to Zargo, and this is backed up by Tarak’s remarks to the others about the importance of the Doctor. It is no coincidence that Aukon comes across as the most knowledgeable of the vampires and is also effectively their leader.

The planet is realised onscreen as largely a plush and convincing environment, and the ‘covering up’ of high-tech equipment among apparently mediaeval settings is convincingly done, enhanced by the sometimes occasionally archaic incidental music, whilst accentuating the spooky threat of the vampires. The use of location filming during the first episode gives the chance for a surprisingly relaxed-looking Doctor and Romana to stroll through genuine flora at dusk, and the moment where the bats (aka ‘The Wasting’) bite the Doctor and fly over them could be straight out of a classic Hammer film. The superimposing of a bat over Aukon during episode 1 shows a stylised touch which previous Who had rarely attempted, and is a memorable image which removes the need for stilted information dumps. Clothing-wise the more stylised, two-tone black and burgundy Baker fits in perfectly here, of course, despite seeming a little more chipper than at certain other times this season. There is an ominous moment the moment we first see the Doctor in the TARDIS, however, where Romana is concerned at his pained expression, which seemingly doesn’t bode well long-term for this incarnation of the Time Lord. Baker’s Doctor had always been famous for almost cheerfully enduring physical pain in early stories like Arc In Space, or dealing with being menaced by monsters in tales like Nightmare Of Eden in farcical fashion – not any more.

Adric has a rather strange adventure here, however, showing ‘Artful Dodger’-style cheekiness (which was originally how the character was envisaged), but his inward and easily malleable nature makes him less than sympathetic. Within moments of being caught entering the villagers’ dwelling he is helping himself to their food and their son’s coat, though with hindsight it’s a shame that he didn’t continue to wear this more natural looking garment during his time on the show instead of his horrendous yellow ‘pyjama’ outfit. Furthermore the Alzerian later displays turncoat-style behaviour in apparently acquiescing to become like the Lords, and gives an unconvincing explanation to Romana about fooling them into a false sense of security. Whether due to Waterhouse’s performance or a conflicting script, Adric’s behaviour during this adventure never convincingly comes across as anything other than self-serving, even though he does eventually attempt to slay Zargo towards the end of the tale as the Time Lord and Lady are threatened. This portrayal of the character contrasts with the more plausible attempts he made to help the Doctor and Romana in his debut story Full Circle. K9 finally gets to have a less battering adventure of his own here, a rare event this season, and delivers a cutting summary of Adric in the TARDIS upon discovering the stowaway – “Immature humanoid – non-hostile.”

Characterisation is generally inconsistent in this story, sadly. Ivo, head of the village, shows equally unfathomable motives throughout, going from acceptance of any uprising to betraying it. This is unfortunate when the humans are clearly shown to be the oppressed and disadvantaged peoples of the planet, ruthlessly preyed on by the Lords. More appealing by far is Arthur Hewlett as Kalmar, with his quiet subversion evoking memories of Timothy Bateson as Binro the Heretic in the Key To Time adventure The Ribos Operation, and Thane Bettany as Tarak, who in contrast to his peers shows the charisma and the bravery to defy both the Three Who Rule and the once loyal villagers who now serve under Habris and his guards. On the subject of the Lords, Emrys James is imposing and entertaining as the dominant Aukon, though his dominant performance does reduce Rachel Davies’ Camilla and William Lindsay’s Zargo to the role of hissing, bickering sidekicks whenever he is present.

There are other quite noticeable flaws. The on-screen realisation of the Great Vampire is a disappointment almost on the scale of the Skarasen in Terror Of The Zygons, and the rocket going straight up and then straight back down to pierce its heart, is poetic but truly corny. The use of blood as ‘fuel’ over such a long period of the time raises the simple question of why has it not evaporated or gone bad, being organic, not to mention the fact that the planet’s population now seems extremely meagre for them to continue plundering. Considering how the peasants’ society has regressed over time it is surprisingly easy for the Doctor to get them up-to-speed with the high-tech equipment, and it is equally surprising they have not destroyed or thrown it out once it became useless to them. It is also difficult to work out what the ‘perks’ of becoming a guard are, as the Three That Rule still threaten to feed them to the great one upon the slightest failing, and show no concern when informed that they are dying.

State Of Decay is not perfect and with its use of hypnotism, mind-reading and other vampire cliches, seems a little out of place in a season heavy on science, but it remains a stylish story even today, for sure, and though criticised for being something of a derivative horror story given the Doctor Who treatment, it is nonetheless watchable and reinforces the themes of the season as directly as any of the stories without being too heavy-going. Those who criticised the story for perhaps lacking much under the surface or for being too simple would soon see the flip-side of the coin…

E-SPACE TRILOGY

WARRIOR’S GATE

Written by Stephen Gallagher. Directed by Paul Joyce ( assisted by Graham Harper )

Plot

At the point where N-Space and E-Space meet, a time-sensitive Tharil named Biroc escapes from a slaver cargo vessel holding others of his kind, and hijacks the TARDIS which, like the slave vessel, has become trapped there, near a gateway. He warns them that the slavers are following him and that they cannot be trusted. The Commander of the slaver ship, Rorvik, is determined to recapture Biroc who has been navigating them, and is becoming increasingly irritated at both the entrapment of his ship and the rest of his crew’s apparent disinterest in escaping. The Doctor will need all of his wits to investigate a mysterious gateway and an abandoned banquet hall nearby, utilise a number of mirrors which provide passage for time-sensitive aliens, avoid the threat of the malfunctioning Gundan robotic knights, rescue the captured Romana from Rorvik who believes her to be time-sensitive too and intends her to replace Biroc, and prevent both the slave ship from diminishing the Gateway into nothingness and its captain from misjudging the power of the mirrors and destroying everyone…

‘Who knew E-Space could get so complicated’?

Review.

One of the fascinations of Doctor Who, particularly in its’ ‘classic’ days, was the sheer range of its types of storytelling, and s18 had already encompassed this – a sly satire on the culture and holiday business ( The Leisure Hive ); a fantastical ‘villain with delusions of grandeur’ tale ( Meglos ); a pacifistic and environmentally-aware precautionary tale of evolution ( Full Circle ) and a homage to the horror genre ( State Of Decay ). With the 5th story to be released chronologically, however, season 18 went one stage further, with a bizarre tale of time-travelling reformed aliens, cruel and listless humans, mysterious mirrors and mystical castles, which showed influences from sources as diverse as Jean Cocteau, Stanley Kubrick, C S Lewis and Mervyn Peake.

Warrior’s Gate , though utterly distinct from either, ranks with The Mind Robber during the Patrick Troughton era and Ghost Light during the McCoy era as one of the most experimental serials in the show’s history, featuring concepts that would baffle any first-time viewer. Furthermore, faced with the need to convincingly wrap up the E-Space trilogy (which had had little bearing on the previous adventure other than the Vampires had fled there to hide from the Time Lords), return the Doctor to N-Space and plot the departures of both Romana and the now long-suffering K9, it would need to include a convincing reason why they would choose this moment to depart. Not only did the writer succeed in doing this, and expanding on the themes of season 18 as a whole, but they managed to create a world like no other in the Doctor Who canon – the Tharils, the mirrors, the gateway, the abandoned hall, the shrinking dimensions and the time winds are all strikingly original, to an almost daunting degree when all are presented at once.

Once again the Doctor finds himself faced by a pseudo-tyrant, in the form of the blustering and impatient human Commander Rorvik, “We’re back in nowhere” mutter the crew near the beginning of the story, and this sums up the quandary they find themselves in, and Rorvik’s desperation to escape. In typical series 18 fashion it is not so much the prospect of death but that of being trapped or regressing which seems to breed even greater apathy and fear of action in both the time-sensitive Tharils (represented most strongly by the noble yet enigmatic Biroc), who are clearly being mistreated and even killed, and their new masters the privateer crew. The theme of devolution is present in the Tharils once being masters but now being slaves, and that of apathy is evident not only in their failure to rebel until the Doctor and Romana arrive, but also in the crew who show little urgency to escape E-Space, although their inertia is not wholly condemned by the fact that as the Doctor says to Biroc, “sometimes it’s best to do nothing, if it’s the right sort of nothing.”

In many ways it should be possible to have sympathy for the crew for the literal and metaphorical limbo they find themselves in, despite the casual cruelties they inflict on their former masters. “Nowhere to go and no way of getting there” remarks Rorvik sourly to the crew at one point, and they say nothing. In many ways the void the crew are in, trapped between N Space and E Space, reflects their state of mind. This sense of aimlessness then ensures that they remain trapped, their lack of personal progression being displayed in their concern with maximising their bonuses rather than escaping the void. Following on from the theme shown in the likes of Meglos of individuals failing to evolve and going round in circles (the Chronic Hysteresis), and the same thing happening to societies in The Leisure Hive, Full Circle and State Of Decay, Warriors’ Gate takes the extra idea of the oppressors becoming the oppressed – with the Tharils having been defeated by their then ‘inferiors’ rising up and defeating them with the aid of the Gundans. The decay of the Tharil civilisation after that revolution ties in with the idea presented in State Of Decay, where the fortunes of the oppressed are actually declining the longer they allow the current state of affairs to continue.

“It’s always darkest before the storm” says the Doctor, linking to Romana’s comment about night being about to fall in the previous story, and though the murky huts, darkened ‘tower’ and gloomy wood of the previous story are stylistically completely opposite to the well-lit spaceship, white void and fantastical castle behind the Gateway, there is a similar underlying bleakness about this story. The Doctor himself seems to have developed something of a death wish, where he nearly pushes a button that would have destroyed the TARDIS in the first episode and recognises that chance is in itself not an explanation for what he could have done. When he faces apparent decapitation by the Gundans he seems, at times, strangely resigned to his fate, albeit cheerful when he is not ultimately killed. In fact this story could be seen as the ultimate encapsulation of the Doctor succeeding by being ‘passive’ – such as his aforementioned comment to Biroc, his tolerance of Biroc and acceptance of a logic which is alien to him and finally his opposing of Rorvik’s rashness in trying to escape E-Space, even though it is something the Doctor himself wishes to do.

Lalla Ward, generally considered to have steadily improved as an actress since her initial Doctor Who appearance as Princess Astra in The Armageddon Factor, puts in one of her finest performances, and so whilst her departure at the end to stay with Rorvik in E-Space has been signposted – both by her comment in Full Circle to the Doctor and her earlier remark to Adric that she and the Doctor may soon be going their separate ways – it is a curiously rushed scene when she and K9 depart, with the Doctor’s comment, “You were the noblest Romana of them all” standing in sharp contrast to the increasing discord that Baker and Ward’s relationship was going through at the time. As for poor K9, after his more dignified treatment in State Of Decay he’s back to being abused with a vengeance here: overheating, running out of power, getting kicked and thrown away all in the same story. To literally add insult to injury he is even belittled by Adric! It’s difficult not to see this constant belittling of the character as being alienating to the children who were intended to be his fanbase, and for the character’s sake it is good to see his suffering end as the Doctor orders him to stay with Romana and the Tharils.

Surprisingly in such a ‘puzzle within a puzzle’ story, characters such as Aldo and Royce provide effective and accessible humour, and the two succeed in grounding what could have been a grim and incomprehensible story with some down-to-earth observations and their general laissez-faire attitude, and their cowardice only goes further to ensure that they will not escape from the gateway. Kenneth Cope puts in as reliable a performance as ever as the more level-headed, no-nonsense Packard, the perfect foil to Clifford Rose’s irascible Rorvik. Even Rorvik himself is not a stereotypical villain, however, as his frustration is understandable when surrounded by the apathy and counter-productive attitude of the crew, and the fact that he causes his crew’s death by the hot-headed action in trying to blast away is an irony in a season where inaction is often seen as the worst thing to do. As he himself remarks caustically to the Doctor “I’m finally getting something done!” It is a bleak conclusion to a tale where all the humans

are apparently killed in the inevitable blastback, regardless of whether they agree with Rorvik’s rash but understandable action.

Warrior’s Gate is undeniably complex. Whilst well-made with remarkable effects and brimming with intriguing ideas its mixture of mind-bending science, surreal fantasy, satirical comment and comments on self-destruction, slavery and cycles of oppression make it unlikely to top a fan’s favourite poll, and it is certainly a story that requires more than one viewing due to its density. It is also not only the end of the E-Space trilogy but the end of another era for the Fourth Doctor with the departure of long-standing companion Romana and the even longer-standing K9, and with Adric now the sole companion on board the TARDIS the Doctor prepares to return to N-Space – where an old enemy awaits…

THE KEEPER OF TRAKEN. Written by Johnny Byrne. Directed by John Black

Plot

The Doctor and Adric return to N-Space and are visited on the TARDIS by the aged and infirm Keeper Of Traken, who states that he has perceived a great evil within his potential successor Tremas and his family – wife Kassia and daughter Nyssa. Although Traken is a planet where decency is paramount, the arrival of an evil life form, calcified on arrival by the essential ‘goodness’ of the planet and now known as the Melkur, leads to the mysterious deaths of a number of citizens which are blamed on the Doctor and Adric. The Melkur has also taken control of Kassia by means of a collar, and is manipulating her in order to become Keeper himself and gain access to the source. Who is the Melkur, and why do they wish for control of the source?

‘Anthony Ainley makes his Doctor Who debut – and there’s barely a cackle in sight…’

Review

With Tom Baker’s time on board the TARDIS now drawing towards an end (it was during the filming of this serial that it was announced on the BBC that the Liverpool-born legend would be leaving the show), Season 18 continues its remarkable range of different adventures with the almost Biblically-themed Keeper Of Traken. And for the role of the snake in the garden of Eden, there can be only one long-standing adversary of the Doctor to fit the bill – the Master.

The tale of Traken is ultimately especially grim, of course, as the Master – the real force behind the evil, calcified Melkur – manipulates the people of the ‘utopia’ of Traken to not only ascend to the throne but to steal the body of the wise and open-minded Tremas, who seemed to represent a better, more astute future for Traken, and ultimately to lead to its destruction in the following episode. The corruption and destruction of the planet by the satanic Master (note the number of references to not looking into the Melkur’s or the possessed Kassia’s eyes) would of course go on to form part of a similar plot of the David Tennant story, “Utopia”, carried over into the following two episodes which concluded season 3 of the new series. Here, however, his ultimate aim is to obtain a new, healthy body, the audience being deliberately misled to think that his aim is universal domination and Jacobean-style revenge on the Doctor – though with the now more malevolent than ever Master, neither of those motives are far away either.

The season’s themes of entropy and decline cast a shadow over Traken from the beginning of the story, in the image of the dying Keeper in the TARDIS, the initially unexplained death of the old man in the grove, the notion of the Melkur immediately being pinpointed as an all-pervading evil corrupting the ‘absolute goodness’ of Traken; the still hideously-wizened figure of the Master, skulking in the Melkur and reaching out to seize the body of Tremas (an anagram of Master) in the very final scene, and the ominous fact that the clock’s hands on the Master’s newly-disguised TARDIS in that scene are at five to midnight, boding ill for the final story in the series. Curiously there is also the theme of rebirth and change after a low period, as evidenced by both Traken and the Master’s restorations by the end of the story – a theme which becomes evidenced again in Logopolis through the Doctor’s own fate.

Whilst the behind-the-scenes documentaries have often pointed the finger at Tom Baker being less than satisfied in s18, he seems calm here, and at times quite warm towards Waterhouse. In the opening scene he discusses the wonders of N-Space to Adric and even puts his arm around the young Alzerian, and shows the full array of the 4th Doctor’s emotions – humour, bafflement, empathy, grace, brief indignation, a tendency to ramble and absent-mindedness, along with a greater awareness of his incarnation’s limited timespan. “I know that feeling” states the Doctor when the aged Keeper makes a remark about feeling his age. Although Baker is clearly looking older he puts in a lively performance here, getting his famous humour into his performance when captured. “I wonder what we’ve done this time”, he whispers to Adric, and ponders aloud to his captors if they are the welcoming committee and knocks two of his opponent’s heads together with the obvious but effective quip, “two heads are better than one”. Yet he also enhances the threat of Melkur where he admonishes Tremas for wanting to keep his honour intact rather than give him the master plans so he can help save Traken.

Intriguingly the other more recent theme that had come up in Season 18 : that of changing one’s course of action rather than simply keeping the status quo not always being for the better (in Warrior’s Gate) is again referenced here, with the consul’s willing adoption of Kassia as the new Keeper proving as ill-thought out as Rorvik’s suicidal decision to try and blast free of the Gateway in the previous story. Unfortunately the combination of the apparently ‘nice to each other’ Traken peoples being generally extremely suspicious of outsiders and willing to pass death sentences on even each other quickly may try the patience of those who are supposed to sympathise, whereas in Warriors Gate, of course, the ship’s crew were led by the stories’ main villain, Rorvik. One also has to wonder why the Traken people are so convinced of the Doctor and Adric’s ‘ultimate evil’ when unlike the Melkur they have not calcified upon arriving in the grove.

Anthony Ainley, who became so maligned for his occasionally OTT performances as the Master during the Davison era, has been uniformly praised for his rounded portrayal of Tremas in The Keeper Of Traken. His compassion, knowledge of science and shrewd good judgement helps him form an immediate empathy with the Doctor, and his decency is reflected in the warmth of his daughter Nyssa (played by Sarah Sutton) whose pure-heartedness contrasts greatly with the weak-willed desperation of Kassia, who has fallen under the thrall of the Melkur. Nyssa, who would soon become a surprise long-term companion on the TARDIS, has greater character development here and in Logopolis than in many of her subsequent stories with Davison’s Doctor, due to the more obviously personal effect that the Master/Melkur’s machinations have on her. Roland Oliver’s performance as the pragmatic Proctor Neman, looking at monetary gain for himself until his shock execution, is also impressive, though it is another indictment of Traken’s supposedly virtuous society that such a corrupt character has become so prominent. John Woodnutt is as entertaining here as the self-assured and seemingly politically-astute Seron he was in dual role of Forgay/Broton in Terror Of The Zygons , and even adds a touch more fruitiness to the role this time around, and proves his good intentions as he begs Kassia to reject the evil within her.

Even Adric’s many detractors confirm that Waterhouse is on good form here, too – forming an effective double-act with future co-companion Nyssa which mirrors the Doctor-Tremas partnership. Sheila Ruskin’s Kassia is more hit-and-miss, however. She is overly histrionic in the scene where following the Keeper’s death she denounces the Doctor and Adric as the culprits for the recent evils on Traken, even considering the Shakespearian tragedy that the character is central to – her love for her husband and wish for him not to suffer and playing into the Master’s hands. Geoffrey Beevers makes up for this, however, as the silkily-evil and Iago-like Master/Melkur, although as a downside the untreated voice of the Master lacks the echoing resonance of the Melkur’s, and is less effective as a result.

To complement the well-thought out society of Traken there is an appropriately-stagey (but well-realised) combination of Elizabethan-style sets from Tony Burroughs, with the right array of lighting to denote the time of day when outside, and though the grove does not look like anything other a set in itself, it is attractive and imaginatively designed, with the off-white form of the Melkur proving a strong, contrasting image. Roger Limb’s soundtrack, though not perhaps the best of the season, is steady and stately without being too intrusive, and the costumes etc, in a range of subdued reds, blues and greys, provide a society into which the Doctor’s flowing burgundy garb fits in well, though the same can hardly be said of Adric’s attire.

The Keeper Of Traken is one of the more consistently-highly rated stories from season 18, a dark scientific fairy tale with tragic overtones but without the tone of utter gloominess that pervades the following Logopolis. Though looking a little wearied Baker is back to his energetic, more spirited and humorous self, but the arising of the Master, the time on his TARDIS’ clock-face and the mentions of “time running out” during the story are an ominous portent for what is about to happen…

LOGOPOLIS. Written by Christopher Hamilton Bidmead. Directed by Peter Grimwade

Plot

The Doctor, alerted to oncoming danger by the ringing of the Cloister Bell in the TARDIS, decides to head to Earth to measure an original police box as part of a scheme to fix his chameleon circuit with the help of the peoples of Logopolis. However the Master has materialised his TARDIS on board the Doctor’s, and due to his psychotic tendencies the deaths of a number of Logopolitans, whose chanting of a series of complex numbers keeps the entire universe in check, interrupts the process and threatens the whole of creation with entropy. Robbed of several of its workers Logopolis decays dramatically, followed by the Traken Union, and the Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and accidental new companion Tegan Jovanka join forces with the Master to prevent universal annihilation. Can the Doctor’s old nemesis be trusted even now, however, and who is the strange ghost-like figure that keeps appearing?

‘A ghostly grim-reaper and a black-clad blackheart – is time almost up for the Doctor?’

Review

The curtain finally comes down on the Fourth incarnation of the Doctor after seven hugely successful years, in what is unquestionably one of the gloomiest stories in the canon of the series. As season 18 is not exactly a barrel of laughs even at the best of times, Baker’s forlorn face, the ultimate encapsulation of the entropy theme and the utterly desolate feel all make Logopolis seem a fitting season finale, if not necessarily a wholly-satisfying end to a once so jocular incarnation of the character.

It is Tom Baker’s performance that naturally takes centre-stage here, and Matthew Waterhouse’s constant questioning and repeating his phrases in the TARDIS during the earlier scenes has to be endured as a minor distraction. As in The Keeper Of Traken there is an initially warmer rapport between the two now Romana and K9 are no longer on the scene yet Baker looks tired, drawn and fearful throughout, in a manner never seen before even in this more sombre season, and before long he is snapping his impatience with Pertwee-like fierceness. Ironically one of the rare moments he smiles (apart from the brief flash of those familiar teeth as he suggests a tour to Earth to measure a police box) is as he lies ‘dying’ at the bottom of the Pharos research Tower. Thus even in death he achieves victory – even as the Master has achieved one of his aims (the destruction of the Doctor) the Doctor succeeds heroically in foiling the Master’s opportunistic attempt to seize control of the Universe. It also allows Baker to depart in a manner appropriate to his often larger-than-life legendary portrayal, after a season where the theme of decay seems to have had a quietening effect on his character too.

The idea of entropy comes to a head here, both explicitly – Baker directly addresses this in his first scene in the grove, noting the decay of the TARDIS, as does Adric to Nyssa, and entropy is openly discussed as Logopolis visibly decays, coupled with the more subtle but noticeable ‘decay’ of Tegan’s car – looking battered and getting a flat without the means to replace the tyre (the spare is flat too) – drawing parallels with the now inadequate nature of the TARDIS. Of course the universe’s peril from the Master’s ultimate plan seems to indicate the decay and destruction of everything, and the shrinking of the TARDIS in part 3, with the Doctor still inside, also foreshadows the ‘shrinking’ of the universe, as does the miniaturisation of the Master’s victims with his Tissue Compression Eliminator. This ties in with the downsizing of the Gateway in Warriors Gate, along with the shrinking power of the respective sources inMeglos and The Keeper Of Traken, and the forthcoming ‘death’ of the Doctor is cleverly referenced during the ‘mini-TARDIS’ scene as, trapped inside, he sees his companions looking down at him, desperately calling his name.

Logopolis has a wary standing amongst long-term fans, however, many of whom criticise certain plot holes, notably when the Doctor is in the TARDIS and debates ‘flushing out’ the Master in his own TARDIS, and the ending of the story at the Pharos Research tower, where the Doctor and the Master are supposed to be working together to prevent the utter destruction of what is left of the universe. Adric’s bafflement at block transfer computation, and at why the Doctor needs to go to Earth to find a police box in the first place, is understandable, too. The decision by the Doctor to flood the TARDIS has also been particularly condemned in such a science-heavy season as being deeply improbable, although it does fit in with the title character’s apparent death-wish, previously seen in Warriors’ Gate. The fetching of Nyssa from Traken is another such issue, as is the fact that the police immediately deduce that Vanessa and the policeman are dead, even though the only ‘evidence’ of this are two tiny doll-like figures – and one has to wonder who called the authorities in the first place. Finally there are the logistics of the Master’s deranged plan to hold the universe to ransom from on board the research tower, which bearing in mind that the authorities are still a factor is flawed in the extreme – one suggestion put forward by reviewers is that the Master might have been playing a cruel practical joke on the Doctor, which is made to look unlikely by his subsequent concern and panic when the Doctor goes outside to disconnect the cable.

Anthony Ainley’s performance here is a curious one, too, the actor following up his superb portrayal of the kindly, reasonable and honourable Tremas with a Master who, though bearing a general resemblance to that of Delgado’s, is altogether more psychotic and malevolent, and whose schemes are far less rationally-based. This is not Delgado’s ruthless yet oddly gentlemanly crook, nor is it the wizened, wraith-like figure of Pratt/Beevers, desperately clinging to the remnants of life and gleefully inching closer to rejuvenation. This is a character who as well as taking that extra silver of pleasure from the suffering of others, that Pratt and Beevers displayed, seems to have an almost impulsive, ever-cackling evil, one which if left unchecked would not only threaten his own life but the decay of the entire universe. If that weren’t enough, the Master then cannot help but threaten to continue the destruction of all life unless they subject to his will, and his giggling near-collapse at the delight of holding such power suggests total psychosis and a more unfocused megalomania than ever seen before from the character. The Doctor’s subsequent astonishment at this unhinged behaviour (famously exclaiming “You’re utterly mad!” when his nemesis makes his latest plan clear) is rather contradicted by his earlier comment to Adric. “He’s a Time Lord. In many ways we have the same mind.”

Davison’s initial trio of companions are all together by now, with the loud-mouthed Tegan becoming an occasionally reluctant and complaining presence on board the TARDIS. Janet Fielding’s portrayal of the character is notably at odds with the good grace of previous passengers, and the first scene where she screeches at Tom Baker for an explanation (and his pained expression as she does so) is a moment of surprise humour in a doom-laden tale. Despite the fact the character went on to become, like Adric, one of the more criticised companions in the show’s history, and despite the fact that her dialogue with Aunt Vanessa is rather clumsily geared at making sure the audience know she is a flight attendant – her emotional reactions to events – whether berating the crew of the TARDIS, talking openly to the Monitor about the joyless lives of the Logolopitans or learning of the death of Aunt Vanessa – provide some genuine, believability and humanity to a miserable and sterile story, though her costume is no better than Adric’s. Matthew Waterhouse’s performance, however, is sadly not as strong here as in the previous story, hectoring Baker’s Doctor repeatedly in the opening stages and his OTT greetings of Nyssa seem forced – almost suggesting a potential attraction from the former towards the latter, though any potential relationship which could have humanised the characters never did come to pass. On a positive note, John Fraser provides gravitas as the welcoming, dignified and ultimately terrified Monitor, conveying the scale of doom in part 3 as entropy overwhelms Logopolis.

The sets are again of a high standard. The Master’s TARDIS is a clever variation on the traditional model, with a devilish red tinge to the outer panels, and the cold, sterile sets for Logopolis, described by the Master as “a cold, high place overlooking the universe”, are well-lit and suitable for an austere story such as this. Paddy Kingsland creates an ethereal, haunting score, notably during the scenes where the Doctor first sees the Watcher across the road and later on the bridge overlooking the Thames, and this sets the mood for the gloomy adventure ahead along with the dignified incidental music when the Doctor first arrives on Logopolis. The chicken-guitar funk music where the Doctor, the Master and the companions are attempting to get into the Pharos tower is a little less successful, however, rather breaking the consistent mood of the story even bearing in mind that something more up-tempo was needed for the chase scene.

Finally, after the Doctor’s ‘life flashing before the eyes’ moment clinging for dear life to the tower, and seeing his old enemies – the Master, a Dalek, the Pirate Captain from The Pirate Planet, a Cyberman, Davros, a Sontaran, a Zygon and the Black Guardian – comes the regeneration scene on the ground beneath. There is a similar ‘run-through’ of his companions – Sarah-Jane, Harry, Brigadier, Leela, K9, and the two Romanas – looking down at him and calling his name as well as the present and correct trio, and an effective use of special effects (unlike the moment where the Doctor is supposed to be hanging from the tower, and the badly choreographed reactions of the companions who ‘watch’ him fall) where the Watcher, now revealed to be a transitional stage between the 4th and 5th incarnations of the Doctor, merges with him in a flash of green and then white light. “It’s the end – but the moment has been prepared for” gasps Baker, with a triumphant expression at odds with the Master’s apparent ‘slaying’ of him, before the fresh-faced Peter Davison sits up wordlessly in his place. The theme of change referenced here in the constant ‘regeneration’ of the Master’s TARDIS (and the Doctor’s attempt to do the same to his ), and the clearing of the decks (the jettisoning of Romana’s room) is complete, with the once-inconceivable changing of the lead actor.

Logopolis, then, gives Baker a memorable (if not always for the right reasons) send off. It is a sombre, doom-laden final goodbye for an actor in the part of the Doctor, who will probably always be remembered as its most popular. It does well in bringing the themes of entropy and decay which had seeped through all the stories of season 18 to the forefront and to a conclusion, and with the regeneration of the Master to compliment that of the Doctor (whose own instability would not be cured until the end of Davison’s first transmitted story Castrovalva), hinted at the show’s future, where the two’s fates would be as interlinked as they were in Pertwee’s day. Whether one approves of all the changes Nathan-Turner had made during the season, there was little doubt that the show which concluded with Davison now in the role of the Doctor had completely evolved to enter the 1980s.

THE END