Robotechin', or The Harlem Globetrotters on Macross Island

Robotech never aired regularly in Bangor, Maine, in the 80s. I remember seeing the toys in stores and thinking they looked pretty cool, but without any sort of context I never really had much interest in them. Years later, I'd catch a few episodes on Siffy back when it was still The Sci-Fi Channel and they actually showed something other than wrestling and ghost shows, but the continuity was so tight it wasn't really the sort of thing you could jump on mid-stream, maybe even more so than that other staple of 90s Sci-Fi Channel morning programming, Dark Shadows. I know it had its fans, though, and I always remained curious.

The other day I saw that it was available on Netflix Instant Watch, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Seven episodes in, I'm now well and truly hooked.

It's probably better that I'm coming to this now, though. With all the relationships and angst, it's soapy as all hell, and at the age of 9 or 10, I'd probably have complained that there weren't enough transforming robot planes (even though as it stands, it's pretty much lousy with transforming robot planes). I dig the hell out of it now, though... it's like Battlestar Galactica without the fake profanity, religious metaphor, and octagonal playing cards. I think it's similar to how I couldn't get into 80s X-Men at the time, but love it now. I find it easier to deal with histrionics at an age where I'm not constantly enduring my own.

And yes, I know that Robotech is made up of three different, originally unrelated series, edited together and rewritten in a manner that some find awkward and inferior to the source material. I really don't care about any of that. Maybe someday I'll go back and give the originals a shot, but for now I'm enjoying Robotech as it is. Maybe it's not the way the shows were initially intended, but it's a fun viewing experience in this form all the same.

Man, I'm already tired of Minmei, though. A little of her goes a long way. And considering she's 15 as the show begins, that fan service shower scene back in the third or fourth episode was super creepy. Our boy Rick Hunter needs to develop better taste in women.

(And yes, I know who he finally ends up with Lisa, but I sure as hell hope she lightens up over time, because she's seriously in cold fish territory right now.)

RIP Elisabeth Sladen

The BBC confirmed it: Elisabeth Sladen has died. Sladen was best known for portraying Sarah Jane Smith on both the original and current Doctor Who and in two(!) different official spin-off projects, the pilot/special K9 and Company and the series The Sarah Jane Adventures, as well as her own range of audio adventures from Big Finish Productions. Sarah Jane, of course, is the gold standard of the Doctor's companions, the yardstick by which all others are measured by, female and male alike. It wasn't just that she was lovely, though she was, and continued to be into her 60s, but that she had such personality, drive, and humor. Good writing only helps so much there, though, and it's clear a lot of what made Sarah Jane special came from Sladen herself, and though I never met her myself, the various fan stories I've heard all confirm that she was as wonderful in person as on screen.

First Nicholas Courtney, now Lis Sladen. Man, it feels like my childhood keeps getting kicked out from under me.

Anyway, my thoughts are with her family and friends, and all my fellow fans. Thanks for the hours and hours of entertainment, Ms. Sladen. You will definitely be missed.

Pretty Sketchy: Save Ferrous!

It's doomed Legionnaire, un-handsome man about the galaxy, and the star of Jim Shooter's first big Legion of Super-Heroes storyline, Ferro Lad, as depicted in sketch card form by Rhode Island's own Dan Capitumini, who also drew this Mario card which is sitting framed and proud on my kiddo's bureau. Thanks, Dan!

Friday Favorites: Ahsoka Tano - Almost Assuredly Doomed Jedi

Watching the third season finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it struck me how far along Anakin Skywalker's headstrong padawan learner has come since the premiere movie. Though I took a liking to the character right away (she had a Kitty Pryde-like quality I always enjoy in my nerd culture heroines), a lot of people thought she was pushy and whiny. And, yeah, they were right, but then again, so was her master (not to mention her master's eventual son), so Ahsoka made the perfect apprentice for Anakin. In attempt to curb her worst instincts, he might be able to curb his own.

Well, we know that he doesn't when it's all said and done, but at least he's a lot more likable on the show than in any of the prequel movies.

But clearly something about their relationship was working, because as we see in the finale two-parter, she's becoming quite the capable Jedi, and already seems more capable of handling her emotions and powers than her master. It's impressive to see such character development in a franchise that - and as much as we may love it, we have to admit this - isn't really known for good character development.

Of course, I fear for Ahsoka Tano. She's certainly not anywhere to be seen in Revenge of the Sith, and failing to prevent her demise could be another thing that sends Anakin along the path to becoming Darth Vader. But I'm hoping she can somehow avoid the fate we're all expecting. Or at the very least go out heroic as all hell.

Draw a Bird Day (Observed)

I was busy and away for most of the weekend, so I missed Draw a Bird Day, but it's a fun event with a legitimately heart-tugging story (that you all should read at the link back there) that I couldn't let it go by completely.

Readin'

Quick, potentially spoiler-filled reactions to recently read comics and such. Read on, but be wary.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec Vol. 1: Pterror Over Paris & The Eiffel Tower Demon – I read the first story of Jaques Tardi’s adventuress in back issues of Dark Horse’s BeDe anthology Cheval Noir and just couldn’t get into it. There was a kernel of something there I enjoyed, but it was mostly impenetrable. I hoped it was just the ink-heavy black & white reprinting of the art and took a chance on Fantagraphics’ oversized volume, and I’m incredibly glad I did. In color and in the proper European album size, these comics just sing. The plots, what with all the double and triple crosses, get a little convoluted, but they move at a good clip and mix the action, intrigue, and humor quite well. Tardi’s Adele is a great heroine, capable without seeming superhuman, vulnerable without seeming weak or wishy-washy, and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. And now that I can actually see it, I can appreciate the art a lot more: it’s definitely evocative of the stories’ time period, but wonderfully modern and expressionist in that way that only European cartoonists can seem to pull off. I’m looking forward to reading Adele’s future adventures, and I hope that Luc Besson’s film adaptation gets a proper U.S. release sometime soon.


Marvel Must Haves: Uncanny X-Force – Wolverine aside, I’ve never been a big fan of the more “stabby” members of the X-universe, and even Wolverine I can only take in small doses outside of the normal X-Men setting. But enough people I trust were saying that this latest iteration of the badass X-Men offshoot was actually pretty good, so when Marvel released this quickie compilation of the first 3 issues, I figured it was worth a shot. I don’t think Rick Remender is exactly reinventing the wheel here, throwing a more hardcore team up against the latest rebirth of Apocalypse, but I admit he’s not reinventing the wheel pretty well. The team make-up alone makes this worth checking out – we probably didn’t need yet another book starring both Wolverine and Deadpool, but they’re both used quite well (especially, and surprisingly, Deadpool), and when I heard that Fantomex (my very favorite character to come out of Morrison’s New X-Men) was involved, well, I had to check that out. Throw in Angel’s struggles to keep his darker side in check (not as trite as it sounds) and three entire issues without Psylocke ever once mentioning “the focused totality of [her] psychic energy,” and you’ve got a pretty interesting dynamic here. I was skeptical, but I’m curious to see where this goes.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Vol. 1: The Long Way Home - Now, I really enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer back when it was on TV, but by the time it had ended, I was ready to see it go. It had a great run, but a lot of what made the first few seasons awesome had sort of gone away by the end. There were still lots of great moments, sure, but the series as a whole had lost some charm, so it was a good time go out while there was still some charm to be remembered. But the comics mentality of "Stories... must... go... on... FOREVER!" infects a lot of fandom these days, so Buffy got continued as a comic book. I finally gave the first story arc a shot and... yeah, I'm still happy for the series to be a thing of the past. Still lots of decent moments, the characters hit all the right beats, the dialogue even sounds right enough that you can hear the actors saying it in the back of your brainpan, but... the shine's still mostly off the apple, and as many new concepts and familiar faces they present, that ain't gonna change.

Batman doesn't go in for the gag thing as much as he used to in the Fifties, but he's not completely humorless.

It's April Fools' Day. Don't believe anything you read online. And don't be mean, okay? Practical jokes are pretty douchey.