George RR Martin gets top billing — as an editor

Lowball (Wild Cards, #22)Lowball by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not sure what number this is in the Wild Cards series … 22? 23? Over twenty anyhow. I’ve read most of them. They seem to come out in trilogies so I suspect this is the start of another threesome featuring the same group of central characters. Which isn’t to say it’s altogether free of prehistory.

I certainly remember DB (Drummer Boy), Curveball, Earth Witch, Rustbelt, Ghost and a couple of others from the unfortunate sequence based on Survivor or some such. Almost turned me off Wild Cards. Do seriously get tired of giggly, yet somehow ever so sensitive (melodramatic?, sanctimonious?) millennials giving each other hugs and kisses, spouting OMG every third sentence and basically being indistinguishable from one another, nor any of their other equally shallow, hollowed-out “friends”.

Fortunately that doesn’t happen as often as it did in the last threesome. Indeed, it mostly sticks to Carrie Vaughn’s bottom of the foot contribution.

Yes. it’s another ensemble piece in the form of a mosaic novel. Has contributions from at least six different writers, none of them named George RR Martin despite his top billing on the cover. Second billing goes to his longtime co-editor Melina Snodgrass, who does contribute a sequence that’s copyright by Lumina Enterprises LLC.

Presumably they get together, draw up story ark then bring in Wild Card writers to flesh it out according to preset parameters. I’m guessing that it falls to Snodgrass to oversee the project, tying it together and filling in the inevitable gaps with her contribution to the whole enterprise, the ten-part “Galahad in Blue”.

There’s a great deal of yawn-inducing soap opera in this book. That may pass as character development these days but most of it just seems perfunctory, uninspired and not particularly relevant to the storyline. The Ghost character, for example, hardly does anything but what she does do, well …

It’s a shame about Ghost really. She only appears in one sequence, and then only as a secondary character, but she has lots of potential. How can you not be intrigued with a psychopathic preteen with nifty abilities and a thing for sharp blades.

Hers is arguably the best story in a not bad batch. One hopes Ian Tregillis, a writer I’ve appreciated previously, is holding out for a great whack of an upcoming installment featuring her. Too bad Rustbucket isn’t the best lead, though he did good work in an earlier Wild Cards book, set in Africa, where-in he met and ending adopting Ghost.

Overall a bit of a police procedural set in Jokertown. Typically, in addition to incompent copes and their idiotic supervisors, that means guns, lots of them. Some of the writers come up with a few nicely grotesque Jokers with some decent ancillary talents. The pacing is lively and variations of a couple of the chase sequences will probably appear in the next Captain America or Batman movie.

Seems to me the Aces are mostly recycled, though. We’ve seen teleporters before, almost everywhere we go in the grim-dark, fantasy sub-genre these days. Plus, the shape-shifting, paranoiac Sleeper, Croyd Crenson, does a couple of cameos as a presumed tribute to Jack Kirby’s Thing from Marvel’s Fantastic Four. (Which for many started the whole superhero/supervillain bandwagon  that my own Phantacea Mythos jumped on in 1977.)

Have to say I’m looking forward to what I assume will be two more books in this threesome. There’s something very familiar about one of the unnamed characters who survives Lowball and if it’s who I think it is I may have to go to the library for some some early Wild Card books as my collection has suffered from two many moves and trade-ins at the secondhand bookstore.

Three out five stars but nevertheless recommended if only for its promise of what’s to come.

View all my reviews

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“Infantilize”, “infantilized” and “infantilizing” are words, apparently

How do I know that? From the National Post, Canada’s argument against freedom of the press. See, to put its title succintly: “Infantilized” nature of genre fiction

I looked up “infantilize” on the Free Dictionary and got this:


(ĭn′fən-tl-īz′, ĭn-făn′-)

tr.v. in·fan·til·ized, in·fan·til·iz·ing, in·fan·til·iz·es

1. To treat or condescend to as if still a young child: The Victorian physician infantilized his patient” (Judith Moore).
2. To reduce to an infantile state or condition: “It creates a crisis that infantilizes them—causes grown men to squabble like kids about trivial things” (New Yorker).

in·fan′til·i·za′tion (-ĭ-zā′shən) n.
Logo reads Phantacea Anheroic Fantasy Illustrated

Anheroic Fantasy Illustrated – Phantacea logo

The article that inspired such simply scintillating research is actually, if awkwardly, entitled:

Simon Pegg is right, geeky genre fiction usually IS childish, even when it’s also something more

While I’ll admit to having heard his name before, I’d have to resort to Google to find out what movies Pegg’s appeared in. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of the article’s author, Daniel Kaszor, though.

However, a couple of his lines struck me as apropos considering some past pHantaBlog posts, notably here, here and here.

Flyer prepared for April 2014 launch of "Cataclysm Catalyst", the second Phantacea Revisited graphic novel

Flyer prepared for April 2014 launch of “Cataclysm Catalyst”, the second Phantacea Revisited graphic novel

One that stuck out, since it seems to apply directly to the National Post’s living saint, the Tar Party’s Chief Blue Nasty, is as follows:

“… in the superhero genre … characters are very explicitly given almost god-like powers. It’s a very simple fantasy to want to just be able to punch the world better.”
Which isn’t to say the article’s about Canada’s current and, sadly, stunningly long-serving Prime Minister. It’s (nominally) about the fantasy genre, if not explicitly the grimdark aspect of it.
covers for Damnation Brigade graphic novel

Front and back covers for the upcoming Damnation Brigade graphic novel; artwork by Ian Bateson, 2012; touch-up by Chris Chuckry, 2012; prepared by Jim McPherson, 2013

And that derives almost entirely from the celebrity celery pandered to by today’s mainstream media, genre television, video games and society’s seemingly resultant need for instant gratification to go along with a severely reduced attention span.

Here’s the Pegg quote that tops the article:
“I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science-fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and thinks we’ve been infantilized by our own taste.” — Simon Pegg
And here’s the writer’s gravy atop the article’s meat and potatoes:

“… more modern fans of genre fiction want to read … “realistic” heroes through a childish mindset.

“And that’s part of what Simon Pegg was griping about — even when presented in an adult manner, genre has a way of being pre-chewed and regurgitated back in such a way that renders much of the nuance moot — signifiers such as brutal violence and grey morals reinterpreted as being cool instead of troubling — making the end product even more childish than the sanitized basic version.”

Poster to accompany Helios on the Moon press release; utilizes cover from both Phantacea Revisited graphic novels and the three full-length novels making up the Launch 1980 story cycle, prepared by Jim McPherson, 2014

Poster to accompany Helios on the Moon press release; utilizes cover from both Phantacea Revisited graphic novels and the three full-length novels making up the Launch 1980 story cycle

Which echoes Point #4 in the pre-Mithramas Mistletoe Miscellanea posting, the reference being to two of the Gun Porn TV shows made in Vancouver that have since been renewed:

“As to using arrows as implements of torture, using arrows for anything except killing and target practise, there are such things as arteries. Pierce a Captain Boomerang where Arrow hit him, evidently just because he deserved it, and, sorry Flash, it’s not a joking matter.”

So, go to any of the lynx highlighted in blue above and spend some quiet, unhurried, but satisfying time having a read or re-read.

Ian Bateson's full colour, wraparound cover for The War of the Apocalyptics, 2009

Ian Bateson’s full colour, wraparound cover for The War of the Apocalyptics, 2009

Just don’t doubt for a minute that Jim McPherson is above infantilizing his characters, if hopefully not his readers:

In the midst of the mad, the dead, and the dying squatted Mars Bellona. His mentality reduced to that of a low-grade simpleton, the presumption of immortality manifestly did not preclude the onset of insanity. The once tremendously powerful Apocalyptic was playing toy samurai with an even more demented Lord Tornado.
“So sorry, Bellona‑sama. I killed your man first.”
“Seppuku-fie yourself, Tornado-san. I killed you before you killed me.”

… from “The War of the Apocalyptics“, 2009

Welcoming portal for pH-Webworld as of Spring 2015

Entry port for pH-Webworld, first appeared in the 2015 Spring update

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Mollycoddling Millennials

Herewith carrying on from previous pHantaBlog submission(s) by Jim McPherson, creator/writer of the Phantacea Mythos.

Don’t call him cynical; he’s just sensitive about the unimaginative deterioration of his chosen genre. Perhaps if he played video games or went to the movies more often he might sound more approving.

As a public service, the Free Dictionary defines millennial as “a member of the generation born from the early 1980s to late 1990s, especially in the United States and Canada; a member of Generation Y.”

And if you’re wondering who or what Generation X is, well, from the same source comes this very disturbing definition:

1. (Sociology) members of the generation of people born between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s who are highly educated and underemployed, reject consumer culture, and have little hope for the future

The Free Dictionary has no definition for grimdark but ‘Know your meme’ does (too bad it doesn’t say what ‘meme’ means):

Grimdark is an adjective used to describe a setting or situation in a fictional work that is considered dark, depressive, violent or edgy” presents a lengthy entry on ‘grimdark’ whereas Wikipedia’s entry is only slightly shorter.  One of the definitions found therein brings to mind Freespirit Nihila and the pHanta-pHavourite term ‘anheroic‘.

“Liz Bourke considered grimdark’s defining characteristic to be “a retreat … into a kind of nihilism that portrays right action (…) as either impossible or futile”. This … has the effect of absolving the protagonists as well as the reader from moral responsibility.”

All in all, very discouraging. At least, as a kind of happy news counterweight, Queen Elizabeth just turned 89.

Too bad, since clearly she’s actually a lizard, Lizzy’s ever so appropriately named.

The Queen of England is secretly a lizard according to Fortean Times in 1999

Slightly altered cover from Fortean Times #129; more covers are here:


Millennial Checklist for Super Grimdark Fantasy TV

  1. OMG variations: minimum 3 times per episode;
  2. Hugs: minimum twice per episode, preferably more; always after a massacre;
  3. Smiles: guys only smile to appear goofy; gals only smile when they greet their guys;

    3 comic book covers incorporated in ad for Phantacea Publications

    Covers for pH-2 (Gordon Parker), pH-3 (Richard Sandoval), and 4-Ever&40 (Ian Fry, Ian Bateson), all of which figure in “Helios on the Moon”

  4. Embrace the stereotype; series can be cancelled at any time so why waste authorial brain cells seeking to rise above the tried and true;
  5. Recall consequential importance of cookie-cutter characters; gals who look good in tight dresses should be interchangeable between action series;
  6. Since scolds are mandatory in suchlike invariably deadly serious affairs, scowls and frowns must be practised endlessly in mirrors; it’s called acting because, OMG knows, the only other thing that counts besides good looks is an ability to give good grunts;
  7. Shirts off: buff men once an episode, fit women as often as possible; bras uplifting, cleavage-enhancing, coloured, but opaque, and reinforced (presumably with Kevlar, given short lifespan of girlfriends in most series), the better for nipple-suppression; suck in those abs, guys, flex them biceps; emphasize the tattoos, the brighter the better;
  8. Heart-to-heart talks essential, at least twice an episode; that’s what motherly and fatherly characters are for, but only if they’re hot; recall, they’re likely to be killed earlier rather than later for purposes melodramatic, as well as budgetary, so make the most of them while you’ve got them;

    Black and white promo ad for The War of the Apocalyptics as part one of the Launch 1980 story cycle

    Black and white promo ad for “The War of the Apocalyptics” as the opening entry in the Launch 1980 story cycle

  9. Best friends can be boy and girl – really (super TV is Fantasyland after all); as such they’re allowed to heart-to-heart, usually after one says to other: “Want to Talk about It?” (hopefully not while texting);
  10. No matter how frequent, heart-to-hearts must be kept short — or not, dependent on budget (despite how lousy they sometimes look, SFX are expensive);
  11. Heart-to-hearts act as important breathers between action sequences, allow opportunity to maintain hugs quota and either aren’t readily available in video games or else get in the way of the next kill-for-points moment; be sure to end with: “I’m always here for you”;
  12. Humour not allowed in actioneers; if attempted, make sure it’s American-style, which by definition isn’t funny anymore (and probably hasn’t been since before Reagan, whoever that was);
  13. Laughter frowned upon, literally — see above point re practising in mirrors; laughing not cool, though occasional chortle permissible; almost always attempts at making jokes must be dismissively deemed as “Lame”;
  14. Kill, yes; best with NRA-approved weaponry; but don’t gloat — only villains gloat (when they’re not sneering, snorting or, OMG-forbid, scorning the good guys guff-awfully); unless it’s after a keyboard-battle, that is, see next point;

    Collage and covers indicative of action recounted in "Nuclear Dragons"

    Mr No Name collage prepared by Jim McPherson, 2014; pH-7 cover, incomplete, by Ian Bateson, 1980; pHz1 #1 cover, the Mighty Eye-Mouth in the Sky by Ian Bateson, 1985

  15. Cell phones, yes; tablets, yes; computers, of course, but concentrate on how fast fingers flash across keyboards; never show what’s on screen because numbers are boring;
  16. Hacking’s dead easy – but any yob can hack, N Korea proved that, so don’t overdo it;
  17. When fighting by electronic proxy, ball fists and pump often; say “Yes” & “Gotcha” a lot; when win, stand up, point trigger finger at screen and spout “You lose, dirt bag!” like big macho bully you are when it comes to ’puters;
  18. Use sparingly, though, as even ad-target Millennials find keyboard battles, when filmed, tedious; never forget: in real world keyboards are meant to be played; they’re not shot, let alone used to write anything (men and, occasionally, women of action never write anything anyhow; don’t read, either, unless it’s about “celebrity celery”);
  19. Sex, good; pregnancy, impossible; condoms, who needs ’em? – hence why “dirt bag” always preferred to “scum bag”; bare backs, sexy; only for Millennials, though; over thirties having sex is yucky, over forties positively obscene, cause for cancellation;
  20. Ridiculousness never ridiculed, given whole situation is likely ridiculous to start;

    Covers and/or splash panels reflecting action recounted in "Helios on the Moon"

    Front covers for pH-2 and pH- 4Ever&40 graphic novel bracketing splash panel from pH3; artwork by Gordon Parker, 1978; Peter Lynde, 1978; and the two Ians, Fry and Bateson, 1990

  21. “America!”, must be said with pride, chest-thumping optional, once or twice an episode (lest anyone think show’s filmed anywhere else, even if it is); never the US or the States; only use USA lightly, as in “good old U S of A”;
  22. Never acknowledge Canada or Mexico, implicitly they’re part of America!; when not entry points for drug dealers, super villains or terrorists, that is;
  23. Secondary characters are cannon fodder; don’t get too attached to them; minorities die first, that’s what they’re there for; blacks get done away with straightaway but don’t single them out overly much, plenty of Hispanics and Asians available; native Indians not allowed, except as supplemental bad guys;
  24. Heroes never real heroes until after first kill; always make a big deal about not wanting to kill but, you know, sometimes it can’t be avoided since heroes never walk away from a fight for fear of having their series cancelled too quickly;
  25. For heroes, killing should appear to be in self-defence, me or them, didn’t have a choice — but that’s mostly so you don’t have to agonize about it for too many minutes, let alone episodes, afterwards;
  26. Heroes can never be brought to justice because they are just that, Justice; anyone can get away with murder so long as they’re recurring characters; villains should always be referred to not as evil (too religious?), but by that truly offensive Americanism ‘the bad guys’;
  27. Just to be doubly confirmatory, make sure that’s how they’re depicted: as unequivocally, over-the-top, irredeemable;
  28. Recall, the only time the US wins a war on anything is on TV, in the movies or in the occasional book (which Millennials don’t read anyhow, perhaps due to writers using too many syllables), so don’t disappoint.

    Phantacea Publications logo utilizing a Sun-Moon wooden Carving spotted and shot by Jim McPherson, 2014

    Phantacea Publications logo utilizing a Sun-Moon wood carving spotted and shot by Jim McPherson, 2014; taken to represent the Dual Entities during happy times

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PVR Perversions — Grimdark Supercreeps

pHantaBlog NOTE: Jim McPherson, the creator/writer of the Phantacea Mythos, doesn’t do confessionals. He does McPhersonals. Sometimes they’re rants. Fortunately those are few and far between. That said, here’s another one.


Grimdark – NRA-approved Fantasy Genre

Some months ago (November 2014), I prepared a piece for pHantaBlog entitled “All-American Gun Porn – Shot in Vancouver”. (Revisited late last December in Mistletoe Miscellanea.)

In the original I mostly raged on about three ‘superhero’ or ‘fantastical’, albeit not particularly fantastic, TV shows filmed in Vancouver: “Arrow”, “The Flash” and “The 100”.

I’m only moderately surprised to note they’ve been renewed for another season. (Have to say that, given the grimdark death toll in the last specious specimen in particular, it might have to be renamed “The 20”.)

Phantacea Publications logo utilizing a Sun-Moon wooden Carving spotted and shot by Jim McPherson, 2014

Phantacea Publications logo utilizing a Sun-Moon wood carving spotted and shot by Jim McPherson, 2014; taken to represent the Dual Entities during happy times

Also renewed, according to the Web, are two others I mentioned in the same essay: “Gotham” and “Grimm”. They’re gun porn, too. Except their ‘heroes’ are, for the most part, policemen.

The police, in Canada and the USA anyhow, are allowed to carry guns as well as use them; television-typically with deadly force. Unless of course the recipient of said riveting attention might be needed for subsequent episodes.

Or, in the TV-titular case of both Arrow and Flash, who seem to get shot or otherwise incapacitated a lot, albeit without much in the way of repercussions, they’re either immune to lead poisoning or supranormally gifted with a Wolverine-like knack for extremely quick recoveries.

In that regard, without recourse to the Resurrection Pit Arrow even survived Ra’s al Ghul driving a sword though his chest, and out the other side, missing both heart and spine, since the last time I wrote about the show. The explanation, besides ratings, seems to have something to do with cold air and frozen ground.

Good thing al Ghul had the common courtesy to pull out the sword before dropping him onto a cliff’s edge only a few dozen feet down from where he ‘killed’ him. (Dropped him undamaged any more than he already was, I should add. No cracking bones or snapping neck for our hero; not even a mild concussion.)

Whereupon Ra’s left him exposed to kindly elements and Himalayan vultures; ones that turned out to be human good Samaritans who just happened to be in the vicinity. (One of whom had also been thousands of miles away in Vancouver, er Starling City, in the previous scene.)

Be that as it may, back to Grimm and Gotham. According to the lazy logic of television fantasies, cops not only can get away with killing, the shows are set up such that their be-badged protagonists can do just that, get away with what amounts to murder in sensible conversations.

Killing is part of their job description, don’t you know. And, as mentioned in the previous article(s), super — not to mention invariably supercilious — villains in television are best dealt with both deservedly and biblically. (With the same proviso re subsequent episodes.)

Poster to accompany Helios on the Moon press release; utilizes cover from both Phantacea Revisited graphic novels and the three full-length novels making up the Launch 1980 story cycle, prepared by Jim McPherson, 2014

Poster to accompany Helios on the Moon press release; utilizes cover from both Phantacea Revisited graphic novels and the three full-length novels making up the Launch 1980 story cycle

I was prepared to let “Gotham” escape the dreaded (or not), NRA-approved, gun-porn denigration if only because I reckoned there was a lot of Chester Gould’s quirky “Dick Tracy” about it. After all, Tracy got shot a lot too, albeit usually in the left shoulder.

(As recorded in a Wikipedia article, Mad Magazine once counted up 47 times that Gould’s Dick Tracy had been shot in that very same, supposedly non-lethal place.

(In a similar vein, ha, ha, Al Capp famously ventilated Fearless Fosdick, his parody of Tracy in the Li’l Abner strip, much more, um, holistically – as in holey – on a regular basis.)

Rather, Gotham started out that way. Nowadays it seems more about lesser, as in secondary, characters and a few others invented solely for the series (as opposed to those taken from the comics).

Which is understandable given the likes of Jim Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth, Harvey thus-far-only-One-Face Dent, Detective also-Harvey Bullock, Selena Kyle, Penguin, Riddler, Poison Ivy, et al, have to live long enough to meet Batman once he gets all brave and bold big enough to don the cape and cowl.

Still, they’re a dull lot. Wouldn’t have made the DC Universe in the first place. Or wouldn’t have lasted long if they had.

BTW, Bruce Wayne appears to be 12 or 13 whereas Selena, the future Catwoman, and Ivy look to be in their slightly later teens, albeit no more than 14 or 15. The expectations, therefore, are obviously for a long series.

Good luck with that. Unless its producers, show-runners and, especially, its writers come up with some much better, as in far more original and intriguingly villainous, cannon fodder, it’ll be gone by Christmas.

The colour side of a postcard Jim McPherson prepared in 2012 as a handout; artwork taken from cover of "Goddess Gambit"; artwork by Verne Andru

The colour side of a postcard Jim McPherson prepared in 2012 as a handout; artwork taken from cover of “Goddess Gambit”; artwork by Verne Andru

(That they made 14 or 15-year old Selena a wanton killer in a recent episode should mean its renewal is cancelled with immediate effect. Should also mean, as a consequence, that its producers are put in jail for deliberate child abuse via role model perversion.

(Too bad neither is very likely to happen. Where’s the Comic Code guy – Fredric Wertham – when we need him?)

In addition to gun porn, these series sadly share what strikes me as a distinct lack of inspired storytelling. When bullets solve everything, that’s to be expected.

Cops are as craven as they are corrupt. (In both Arrow and Gotham lunatic jerks swagger imperiously into cop-shops, pull out their penile pistols, shoot the place up and simply walk away unscathed.) Except when they’re tenacious, that is.

The same batch of boys in blue who cower underneath tables when the really bad guys are popping off, bullets-wise, suddenly gain cojones in Arrow once the overarching plot demands they go after our grimdark hero for being an, um, lawless vigilante. This for the second time in the series.

(And, talk about unimaginative, in a recent Flash chest-zapping CPR is applied not once but twice in the same 40-odd minute episode. Same producer, same stories, I guess. Not hiring creative talent does save on the overhead.)

Overarching plot is Grimm’s saving grace; that, plus some genuinely interesting characters, ones who don’t just use their guns to kill monsters, though they do that too, once in a while. Grimm also has some decent makeup, this despite not much in the way of a special effects budget. Which, in its own way, is a saving grace.

Launch 1980 promo for "Helios on the Moon", artwork by Ricardo Sandoval, 2014

Promo using the cover for the print version of “Helios on the Moon” as digitally tweaked by Jim McPherson, 2014; artwork by Ricardo Sandoval, 2014; based on front cover for pH-3; that’s All of Incain (Ginny the Gynosphinx) beside Helios and Lord Order sneaking up on him from behind;

Contrast that with another superhero-type series I PVR: “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”. It does have a decent budget, apparently, and it’s Marvel-inspired, not DC, which should make for more imaginative fare.

And for the most part it does. Plus, Joss Whedon, the guy behind Buffy, is behind SHIELD as well as the related Avengers’ movies. Yet it hasn’t been renewed for some reason.

Not enough guns and guts (spilled) perhaps? Or maybe it hasn’t got the NRA’s stamp (or stomp) of approval.

Shall have more to say re the relatively recently proclaimed Grimdark Fantasy genre in a future instalment of pHantaBlog.

In the meantime, in terms of my very own Phantacea Mythos anyhow, it doesn’t get much grimmer and darker than “Goddess Gambit”, where it could be (and has been, albeit not by me) argued that the impression’s left no one survives. (Until “Helios on the Moon“, that is.).

Doubt it’d get a stomp of approval, let alone a 21-gun salute. from gun owners, though. That’s due to the pHanta-pHact they’re given the treatment they deserve.

Which is mostly mockery.

8 collages against the back drop of the Louvre's Dual Entities

The Dual Entities are two thousand years old. The ‘Launch 1980’ collages were prepared in 2014.

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All-American Gun Porn – Shot in Vancouver

pHantaBlog NOTE: Jim McPherson, the creator/writer of the Phantacea Mythos, doesn’t do confessionals. He does McPhersonals. Sometimes they’re rants. Fortunately those are few and far between.
That said, here’s another:


 Screen Psychos Purportedly of the Superhero Persuasion

Have to admit that, with the exception of a few Green Lantern collections, it’s going on a quarter century since I last bought a superhero comic book. Sooth additionally said, though I’ve produced a couple of my own latterly, albeit of the anheroic variety and not always supranormally populated, I’ve purchased only a couple of dozen, if that, graphic novels in that time and them mostly to give away as presents.

I still love the comic book medium, do most of my shows at comicons, and spend most of my fiction-reading time immersed in the fantasy genre. However, like most folks, I get the majority of my superhero fix watching television. And most of that is on what we in Canada know as the CW network, a couple of which also show up on MuchMusic, SPACE and Showcase.

CW combines the first letters of CBS and Warner in its logo; they’re the network’s corporate backers. I gather it targets a mostly male audience, though its predecessors, WB and UPN, did manage to produce Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek: Voyager, which weren’t just for nerdy men IMHO.

I first came across CW because it showed Smallville and Supernatural. Since both series were made in and around Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, I got an extra visceral kick out of identifying the locales of various scenes. I gave up on Supernatural once it got religion a number of years ago, but have often started watching a series just because it shot locally.

Some didn’t last, mostly because they weren’t very good. (No names please, we’re Canadian.) Then again some did last despite the fact they weren’t very good. (Ditto.) To my mind a few successes or semi-successes that came and went include the aforementioned Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Sanctuary, Continuum and the various Stargate incarnations.

Three that are with us today are Arrow, The Flash and The 100. Ask me, each and every one of these last are gun porn.

So the Arrow has turned over a new leaf. He’s not going to kill anymore. Rather, he’s not going to kill anyone anymore with arrows. Send him to some Caribbean hot spot — more opportunities for even more skin — and he’ll happily kill with a gun, though, and by the dozen.

He jokes(?) about it: “I never said I couldn’t use guns, just that I didn’t.” Then, since today’s heroes have to be NRA-approved killers at heart, there are flashback sequences wherein he’s some sort of assassin working for the Suicide Squad’s head honcho, unless it’s honchess.

Over in The Flash, Weather Wizard and Multiple Man get shot dead, both casualties of lazy writing. How else can you end a TV show featuring superheroes except biblically? Can’t put them in jail on account of they’re so awfully powerful they’ll just escape and that would never do.

And I do mean awfully, as in awful. Captain Cold is a heartless, mass murderous, career criminal. He seemingly uses regular guns, as well as a gadget gun, for no other reason that super-villains in the USA have to be, you know, irredeemably evil in order to qualify for our hero’s invariably reluctant attention.

Heat-Wave, or whatever his name is going to be, is no doubt on the way. Maybe he won’t use a gun but, boy, I bet you can CGI some truly gruesome burns these days. My only hope is he melts bullets so the producers will have to come up with a better way to dispose of him.

A flash flood, perhaps, ha-ha. Make that a tsunami. Should provide a super-spectacular, season (if maybe not series) ending finale. Look out, Downtown Vancouver. You may have survived the end of Arrow’s first season – or was that Chinatown? – but The Flash promises to fix you up good and proper this time.

Hopefully it’ll cost him a couple of his (not so) terrific team members. But, hey, that’s what’s bound to happen to loyal, howsoever good-looking, not to mention goody-two-shoes, cannon fodder. There’s always more where they came from; ones cut from the same mould, too, from the looks of them.

Got to find work for a few visible minorities in this enlightened day and age don’t you know.

Speaking of a second Great Flood, how about The 100? True, its ending was nuclear, not watery; rather, its beginning was nuclear. But its setting is post Apocalypse. So is that of Falling Skies, which is also shot in Vancouver: post-apocalyptic, though its end-beginning is/was alien invasion.

Their characters – if that isn’t a misnomer – aren’t superheroes per se, at least not yet, but their antics are definitely intended to be super-heroic. Plus, there’s a superfluity of gun porn common to both … and gratuitous torture … and untrustworthy adults, baby baby-boomers for the most part … and beautifully buff, young people who wear tatters very stylishly.

Over-wear tatters, put better, since their underwear always appears very well, um, maintained; not to mention uplifting, designed to flatter. Very impressive in the mud and blood, tats and persistent scarring departments, too. Quality makeup, if nothing else.

Which is also what they are character-wise — nothing else, least of all interesting. Or, to be less dismissive, how about wooden, humourless, and oh, ever so sincere. Which means they hug a lot, either before of after they go on a killing spree, fancy weaponry blazing loud and rapidly.

Good thing there’s no more shortage of ammunition in post-apocalyptic times than there is of supportive smalls, to use a strange George RR Martin word I’d never come across before Game of Thrones. Must make the NRA as happy as End-of-Days Evangelicals.

No time to get going on Hellraiser or Dominion or Gotham or Grimm, though the latter two are still on my PVR list. They’re not shot in Vancouver but that won’t stop me from rave, rage, ranting about them at some other time should the urge hit.

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