Saturday, August 14, 2010

Skele-Tor, Eternian Witchdoctor! (Art + Story)

Superhero Costume Coalition put out the call a few weeks ago to redesign Skeletor, He-Man's iconic archenemy. I'm not nearly the artist as the other contributors, but I decided to try my hand. I give you...

Skele-Tor, Eternian Witchdoctor!

Transported through time from the dim past, this tribal witchdoctor brings with him the primal dark, black magic so potent that it requires King Randor and his council to summon an ancient warrior spirit - via a magical sword - to wage bloody combat for Eternia's very survival!

I so enjoyed the concept, that I decided to write a prose piece on it....

"The Bone-Man"

The watch commander looked out over the purple Eternian twilight. Night had once more struck the land, though it hardly mattered. On of three moons already rode high, its surface full of the twinkling lights of industry. When the second crested the horizon, the bare darkness of early evening would fade to a dream.

There were no threats beyond the royal palace walls, or the city gates or the endless miles of agroplots. Orbital-1 had communicated no skirmishes for months; the mutants were quiet, their irregular empire concerned with a threat on the other side of the galaxy.

Terrestrial rebellions continued to crop up on the planet's far side, though, frustrating the King's new general. Though only a few dozen men or robots strong, truly a policing nuisance, it marred the image of Eternia as the Peaceful Realm, the Kingdom Beyond Strife. The Randorian Concord, forged over two centuries ago by the first of the King's line, held the nobles together in common bonds of defense, economy and prosperity.

What could there possibly be to rebel against in such a utopia?

Unstrapping his monocular, the commander swept through squares and neighborhoods and rooftops in the vicinity of the palace. Several score watch-guards patrolled the streets and more kept vigil on the wall with him. Lounged, really. He had not drawn his pistol in service once - ten years. The charge was still good, and his ceremonial short sword poked over his right shoulder.

But who could use a sword any more, or have need of it. With expanding wristguard electro-shields able to block the full body, it would take a heavy rifle volley to hit a half-way decent soldier.

"Aye there, scout, eyes up." He strolled over to his nearest runner and lightly rapped his chest. "What if I need you to dart inward to Chambers?"

Smiling, the scout stood straighter. "Should you want a report sent to the king on your recent losing streak at runes, I will happily trot off."

"Insubordination. Insubordination!" Both men laughed. It was true, but rank held little effect for soldiers without war or enemy. "I'll send you to the Fist if you keep that up-"

A shrieking stole the words from his mouth and all eyes on the wall turned to the inner courtyard and the blazing light erupting from between the paving stones. The air shimmered with intense heat and the ground began to melt outward, sinking to a white-hot pit.

"Call the marshall of the fireguard and notify him." The scout ran across the wall to a distant tower. "You three, come with me." The watch commander hustled over to a staircase and the four quickly made it as close as possible. The heat was incredible.

With an almightly bang, the light surged one last time and spiral of blue flame spun in the air a the center of the maelstrom. And then it stopped. Smoke obscured the put, but the glowing stones cooled as if smothered by ice water.

The commander approached, fumbling his pistol out and cursing the embarrasment. He slipped a little, the burned stones crumbling to ash under his boots.

One of his soldiers spoke up. "Sir, I think I see something in the midst of the smoke."

"Carefully, lads. It could be a mutant trick. Some burrowing robot or worse, a bomb."

Distant voices - the fireguard, no doubt - rose behind them. Each step was filled with dread. Quiet so long, the mutant may be making another try for the King's head. Some thought it was only his presence, and the legacy he instilled, the kept the younger nobility from seeking greater privilege and status over the commoners.

A great wind picked up the smoke and scattered it into the night. The courtyard cleared and at the center of a ten-foot-wide pit, there curled a half-naked man. He clutched a tube or club in one hand. His skin was pale, dirtied by ash, but unburnt.

"Gannus, summon the gate tower medic and notify the Watch-captains to tighten patrols. And you, Orlan?, to the Kingwatch. Let them know of this oddity." The young men ran off on their errands.

"Who is he, Commander?" It was not his old bunkmate Tir speaking, but a bewildered subordinate. A lesser, looking for guidance.

The commander knelt down and rolled the man onto his back. There were strange markings about his face and torso, paint or tattoos. A necklace of bird feathers hung limply, and was that an eye pierced and dangled from around his neck? It was as big as a fist. He had no shirt, pants, boots or gloves, just a thick fur belt and a flaps - with more stiched-in eyes at the bottom - of leather concealing his person. Bunched feathers wrapped his shins and....

"Bones...," the commander said. "There are bones littered all about him. He looks like a-a caveman witchdoctor."

Tir grunted. "Or a carnival dancer." He opened his mouth to say more...but then had no mouth or head. It vanished in a burst of fire, leaving his corpse to fall headless, smoking trailing.

"But the Vanished Gods!" The commander stumbled back from the bone-man, the witchdoctor, and activated his shield. A metal bracket sprang out from his gauntlet and expanded to a two-foot diameter circle of yellowish, crackling energy.

"Stay down, murderer!" He pointed his pistol from behind the shield. The bone-man's eyes were fixed on him - had they been open this whole time? - and thickly-tattooed lips began moving in murmur and chant.

Sparks danced along the bone-man's arm to the club in his hand. No, not a club - a massive legbone with ram's skull tied at the end. The skull's eyes took in the sparks. The bone-man rose and with a gesture sent a gout of light into the shield, overloading it.

No fool, the commander loosed a dozen shots from his pistol as he retreated toward a mass of astonished onlookers. Not one laser bolt hit. They pitted the ground around the bone-man's feet, kicking up puffs of ash.

The bone-man was please with this, and he waved the skull-club around, twirling the ash into grey column tall as his shoulder. With his free hand, the man from the pit grasped the ash and threw it like a spear at the watch commander.

What could he expect, this soldier of high science and technology. He flew to home at night in a car powered by fused atoms. Food came from hydropod farms on the third moon. In his hand was a gun that fired focused light with devestating effect.

The ash spear hit- and disintegrated around him, covering him in a layer of burned stone. Nothing happened, he thought, it was an illusion.

But then his skin started to itch and his clothes grew hot. Groaning, his thin plates of armor began to expand as if heated....

The watch commander burst into flame and ran towards the gate, screaming and screaming. He must've been dead already, the energy to move powered by residual fear so powerful it could animate a corpse.

The body collapsed and the remaining watch-guards and fireguard stood as stone, eyes moving between their dead comrades and the figure standing amidst the ruined courtyard.

The bone-man started to laugh at them. He whooped and swung his skull-club about him and stomped hard on the ash and bones at his feet, again and again until the skittered of their own accord and rose up in the air to form an archway.

Cackling now the bone-man paused long enough to spit through the arch of bone and ash. The air buckled inside and rippled with blue-fire. He stepped into it-

And was gone. The bones fell to the ground. The ash drifted. The courtyard was quiet.

The watch commander had been right. There were no threats beyond the agroplots or city gates, or beyond the high walls of the royal palace. But there had been, long ago.

And one was back.


Here are some other early versions and abandoned concepts (The Skel, a street tough; Byron "The Amazing Skeletor" Keldor, a stage magician):


Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lost Se6 Ep 5 - Sundown

[There was no Ep4 review-let; the needs of the baby outweigh the needs of the show.]

It's all about Sayid, and the darkness within.

Click to follow, but here there be spoilers galore!


I think we might finally start getting some answers soon, though I still feel like there are too many questions for LOST.

I hate seeing Sayid go the way he did. I like it when he tries to be a good man. I don’t like seeing his bad side. Maybe he genuinely went crazy; maybe there is a cure - for him and Claire.

But it was his story that made me wonder if the plane-didn’t-crash scenario is the version of their lives that FLocke will cause, or can. They aren’t any happier, or better people. Most in fact, become worse people. I guess that’s where the old saying “be careful what you wish for” is really proven true.

What was Kate doing there at the end? Was she just following everyone else? Or was she, along with most of the crowd, hypnotized? Her name and Claire’s were not among those in the cave.... I wonder what this means. Is it because only men can be candidates? Does it have something to do with the fact that women can’t conceive and survive giving birth while on the island?

I’m going to miss the show when it’s gone, but I can’t wait to get all the answers about what's going on!


Lost Se6 Ep 3 - The Substitute

Lost Se6 Ep 2 - What Kate Does

Lost Se6 Ep 1 - LA X (The Final Season Begins!)



Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lost Se6 Ep 3 - The Substitute

This week it's all about Locke: Alterna-Locke, FLocke, crab-food Locke...

Click to follow, but here there be spoilers galore!


This week’s episode was way better than last week’s, so maybe we’re back on track. And we had a big question answered this week: the numbers.

Anyone notice how Kate’s name was not on the list of candidates? I do wonder why. Maybe because in present island time and future and past flashes she’s never done a thing that didn’t help her in some way. At the moment I can’t recall a single unselfish act. But she is the female lead and there is something we like about her all the same.

Locke’s character is the only one whose life off the island is better than on it. He has the beloved girlfriend back, starts a new job and has the contact information of the best spinal surgeon in the area.

Anyone else wondering what happened with Ben when Locke met him teaching? Why was he there, and seemingly Locke’s friend? Despite all this, Locke still isn’t happy, though maybe after the talk with Helen, he will be. I wonder, if he had a choice, which path he would choose.

I have to wonder what Sawyer committed himself to when he told FLocke he wanted to go home. Or why he decided to follow Flock, 'cause if I had seen Richard Alpert as scared as he was running from him, I would have followed Alpert. Curiosity killed the cat, and that may be what this season of LOST has in mind for Sawyer. I really hope not, but I think someone in the love triangle has to die, and I think it'll be Sawyer.

Speaking of the love trio, I was a "Skater" fan until this season. Now I think Sawyer has become a better man and changed in such a way that he’s no longer right for Kate. I am drifting over to the "Jater" side.

Any ideas who the kid is? And why FLocke seemed to forget him the moment he met back up with Sawyer? Are there 2 FLockes? Why are we still getting questions in the last season, shouldn’t we be getting answers?

I still liked this episode, but come on - answer without causing more questions!


Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lost Se6 Ep 2 - What Kate Does

Kate is the main focus here, as we split between alterna-LA and the Island, with Claire and Sawyer important secondaries. And what's up with the resurrection?

Click to follow, but here there be spoilers galore!


I was so into the end of the episode and Claire going all Rousseau on us, that I kinda didn’t pay attention to the fact that when Jin sees Claire that was the last scene of the show. I blinked and missed the Bad Robot. It was only when the next show started that I realized Lost was over.

I have to say that for the last season, I feel like the episodes should be jam packed with answering our questions, but this one didn’t do a whole lot. I don’t feel like we really got anywhere until Claire shows up at the end. Frankly I was a bit disappointed with this episode.

Right now, Sayid does not appear to be Jacob, though I am not completely convinced. The people of the Temple (the other Others) seem to think he will have what I call a “case of the crazies,” like Rousseau’s people. Or the Temple people call infected.

If you have a child on the island, does the “crazies” not affect you the same way? Both Rousseau and Claire just went native, if you will. And paranoid. But after what Claire went through, I don’t blame her for being paranoid. And she seemed to only vaguely recognize Jin. I can’t wait to hear her story. Do you think next week will touch on Claire at all?

Kate in her plane-not-crashing scenario does perhaps the first non-selfish thing in her life. I find these flashes interesting, and I like the parallel lives of the characters.

I wonder if it all meets at the end with a big bang. Or will the characters get to choose which lives they would rather live? Are Jack and Sawyer the next Jacob and FLocke (fake Locke, for lack of anything else to call him)? I’m getting ahead of myself with these questions, but this episode didn’t move a whole lot until the end, when we see Claire.


Episode 1: LA X (Parts 1 & 2)

Read on, faithful few!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Political Hoedown still exists!

Now that I have a little more free time and/or the inclination to get into the political debate again, I've started posting at the Political Hoedown again.

A few recent musings, covering the Mass. Senate upset, Obama's politicking, his State of the Union, deficit spending and wordplay:

NPR or Administration: Who's flashing their bias?

Monopoly Money

SOTU for you!


Interpreting Mass.


Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lost Se6 Ep 1 - LA X (The Final Season Begins!)

Providing LOST commentary, we have my (Erik's) own wife, Mandy.

Click to follow, but here there be spoilers galore!


The beginning of the end. The biggest night in television so far this year. The reason Obama moved his State of the Union speech (he’s gotta be a LOST fan).

So Sayed…alive, dead, alive dead, who knows? My guess is Sayed is dead; the person who woke up there at the end is Jacob, possessing Sayed’s body. The Others who drowned him, were just as surprised to see him alive as his friends were. Obviously other people they have drowned (i.e. Ben) wake up in the given time frame, or they are truly dead.

Moving on, why does Jacob only seem to appear to Hurly while on the island? Is it because Hurly’s the purest of the survivors? The one most likely to believe, or the most gullible? He was able to see the cabin Jacob was in when no one else could. Jacob appears to him the most. Why? I love Hurly, but why him? Hurly said “I’m the luckiest guy alive” in the what-if-the-plane-didn’t-crash scenario. I can’t help but think this means something relating to Hurly being so special.

What does Locke/man in black mean when he says “I just want to go home?” Erik immediately assumed it meant he was the devil. I am not so sure, though many could argue for that. You have the Bible names throughout the series…John, Jacob, James, Daniel…the list goes on.

And when we are introduced to this man he is in all black, Jacob is in white. Of course we assume he’s the bad guy! But the devil on a time traveling island that seems like a twisted Garden of Eden? I don’t know; that’s too easy of a solution.

Let’s discuss the what-happens-when-the-plane-doesn’t-crash part. Most of them take a turn for the worse, so it’s looking. Do you think they’ll know this by then end of the series as what would have happened? Is this happening parallel to them being on the island? Are they living two futures at once? Are those that died (Boone, Charlie) alive in the alternate future?

And what the heck was Desmond doing on the plane?! Somewhere along the way, someone (Daniel maybe?) said he was a key. Seeing Desmond there threw me for a loop.

And lastly, Juliet. Could we have expected any other ending for someone with the name Juliet?


Read on, faithful few!