Thursday, February 2, 2012
The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions)
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
Al Bruno III
The three of them ran across Route d'Abbaye, and after a moment’s pause they jumped the fence. The first landed with quiet cat-like grace. The second moved slowly, quietly and deliberately.
The third caught his pant leg on the top of the fence and fell hitting the ground with a cry and a crash...
“Why do we keep ending up like this?” Lorelei, like her friends, had her hands bound behind her back and Runes of Enfeeblement had been painted on her forehead.
“Because of him, its always because of him,” Zeth said as they were half-shoved, half dragged down the stairway by women with crazy eyes and short skirts, “I swear he gets us captured on purpose.”
“Zeth! I’m hurt, well and truly hurt,” Jason Magwier’s mouth was set in a frown but his eyes were twinkling, “now don’t ether of you worry. We’ll be fine as long as I play it low key.”
The cellar they were goaded into was a makeshift temple. Banners and graffiti extolling the virtues of the great god Thor covered each wall. At one end of the room was a worn anvil. Near the anvil was a high backed wooden chair, a hulking figure sat upon it.
“Does every bloodthirsty cult have the same decorator or something?” Lorelei mused as she and her companions were forced to their knees.
Magwier agreed, “And why are they always in a basement of some sort or another? Why not an upper floor suite for once? Maybe a nice bungalow?”
“Silence!” the figure on the throne shouted.
“Although you can’t fault the acoustics can you?”
The tall man stepped from the throne and approached them. He had a silver plated war-hammer slung over one shoulder. He was shirtless with long blonde hair and muscles that were just beginning to go soft with age, “You have dared to desecrate our holy temple.”
“It was an accident. We didn’t even know-” Zeth tried to explain only to be silenced by a slap from one of the women.
Magwier’s eyes blazed with anger, “Now you stop this Stan Maxwell. We aren’t looking for trouble.”
The tall man frowned, “You know me?”
“Of course. You were the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings until you were tragically sidelined by a spinal injury.”
Lorelei sighed, “A jock and a bloodthirsty cultist? Just great.”
“I was chosen,” Stan explained, “that injury was Thor’s will.”
The four women cheered a hearty, “Hail Thor!”
Magwier stood, “As my friend tried to explain this was all a terrible misunderstanding. If you’ll just let us leave I’m sure-”
“No. You must pay for your crimes...” the tall man said, “...with your lives.”
“Our lives? Doesn’t anyone get punished with community service anymore?”
Two of the women hustled Jason Magwier to the altar, it had an indentation perfect to cradle a human head. They held him down, pushing his cheek against the dried blood and slivers of skull.
“Please tell me this is part of a plan...” a quiver of worry crept into Lorelei’s voice.
Zeth snorted, “Since when does he have a plan?”
“Mighty Thor, lord of thunder...” Stan raised the war-hammer from his shoulder.
“Hail Thor!” The women cheered again.
“...Accept these sacrifices to sate your appetite for the great battle of Ragnarok.”
Jason Magwier began to laugh, a high pitched mocking cackle.
“Silence!” Stan lowered the hammer and then raised it again. The four women looked at each other in confusion, they’d never had a sacrifice do this before.
“I’m sorry,” Magwier snickered, “I know it’s disrespectful but... You mean to kill me with a mallet?”
“Mallet? This is the Hammer of Thor!”
And the women shouted, “Hail Thor!”
Jason Magwier smiled, “You should realize that it’s not going to even leave a bruise on me.”
Stan leaned forward, “Magic will not protect you.”
“Oh yes. The runes. Very impressive but there’s more to me than that,” Magwier laughed again. “I’ve lived in the future so I can’t very well die in the past can I?”
“You make no sense.”
“I suppose to your limited intellect it seems that way, but never mind. Smash away my good man. Smash away.”
Stan raised the silver plated war-hammer again, holding it over his head instead of his shoulder.
“But- you getter get it right the first time,” Magwier said, “or you’re going to ruin a perfectly good mallet.”
“It’s not a mallet!” Stan’s face was turning purple with rage, “It is the Hammer of Thor!”
And the women shouted “Hail Thor!”
“Shut up!” Stan screamed at them, then he turned back to his prisoner, “And you! I will pound you into dust with a single blow!”
Jason Magwier nodded condescendingly, “Sure you will.”
Bellowing with rage Stan Maxwell raised himself to his full height and hefted the hammer as far back as his muscles would allow.
There was a soft crack and Stan froze in place.
“Oh dear,” Magwier said, “sounds like someone just aggravated an old spinal injury...”
The priest of Thor whimpered and toppled over. The four women ran to him babbling with worry. They were so busy fretting over Stan that they didn’t even realize Jason Magwier had freed himself from the ropes.
Wiping and smearing the Runes of Enfeeblement from their faces they walked back out onto the street. Jason Magwier was carrying the priest of Thor’s weapon in his arms, he handed it over to his friend with a smirk, “Maxwell’s silver hammer. Take it for me would you?”
Zeth slung the cumbersome weapon over his shoulder and shook his head, “You took an awful chance back there.”
“Nonsense. I knew what to do the very moment I realized they were Thor-worshippers.”
“And what was that?” Lorelei asked.
“Just like I said earlier,” Magwier smiled, “I played it low-key... or should I say Loki?”
Zeth chuckled. Lorelei rolled her eyes, “I can’t believe I’m sleeping with you.”
... an unseen war plays out between the angelic Storytellers, who bring us pleasant dreams while we sleep, and the evil Incubi, who terrorise us with nightmares. It's a battle that has gone on for eternity, it seems, while the rest of us have all been tucked up in bed. Then, one night, a grotesque, gargoyle-like figure named Ink arrives at the foot of Emma's bed, and in spite of the Storytellers' fighting skills, manages to spirit her away to another plane of reality.
There are so many possible influences in Ink's story and aesthetic that it's difficult to know where to begin. At times, its exotic visuals look like a Terry Gilliam movie. Its fights are like a more rough-and-ready version of The Matrix. Its stark use of light and shade recalls Dark City. There are moments that play out like a fairytale, while others resemble a comic-book brought to life.
Whatever Ink's influences may be, it's an often stunning-looking film, shot and edited with a skill that far outweighs its tiny budget. Its antagonists, the Incubi, are weird and perfectly unsettling. Its music (also written by Winans) is subtle and effective...
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
And they are only $12.99!
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
DC Comics announced that when Captain Marvel joins the DCnU later this year, he will actually be The Superhero Formerly Known as Captain Marvel. DC is officially changing his name to Shazam, so they no longer have to worry about all the trademark infringement insanity of having a character named after your main industry rival...
I can understand why DC is doing this... but does that mean that the hero formerly known as Captain Marvel can't say is own name anymore?
And when will Marvel comics create a 'Captain Marvel' character that doesn't suck?