I, Momentus

If you’ve been listening to Stars End Episode 7 you know that this comic, Superman #355 (January 1981) came up during our Asimov Trivia segment. It looked pretty interesting and so we spared no expense to obtain a copy and bring it to you.

In it, Asa Ezaak, a thinly veiled parody of Issac Asimov, struts around arrogantly and eventually uses his scientific genius to turn himself into a muck monster of some sort. Scratch that. He becomes the self-titled “Momentus, Master of the Moon!” That’s exactly the sort of name someone who refers to himself as “a person of note, sane and rational, fearless and intrepid, witty and forceful, and above all devilishly handsome” might choose for himself. Also there are werewolves. Don’t know what’s up with that

We’ll probably come back to this one and spend more time with it, giving you a better overview of the story once I’ve, well read it. And we’ll ponder the origins and the inspirations for the story. Is it a fair portrayal? And why a muck monst… er, excuse me “Moon Master?” *Cough.* That will appear here and on our podcast website StarEndPodcast.Wordpress.com.

In the meantime, here’s a short unboxing video to whet your appetite.

If a podcast about the Foundation Series and other things Asimovian sounds interesting to you, check out our show below.

Watching Loki: S1E6 For All Time. Always.

Spoiler warning, obviously.


But first, a bit of space.

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I had some good conversations after episode 5, so I’m going into this episode with a bit of headcanon. It seems clear to me after “Journey into Mystery” that the person behind the TVA must be a Loki; it’s the logical extension of what they built up there. My preferred outcome is that Mobius is actually the Son of Loki and Sylvie and he’s been the driving force behind the TVA from the start with the goal of bringing about the circumstances of his own birth. That’s not very likely because it doesn’t fit into the larger MCU narrative and because this is more about alternate realities than time travel. If you haven’t, you should read “By His Bootstraps” and “…All You Zombies” by Robert Heinlein and while you’re at it, watch Predestination. In that order.
But onto the episode.

It’s interesting seeing Loki and Sylvie on the cusp of realizing their goals become hesitant before they enter the suspiciously gothic castle.


The two statues we see as they enter are reminiscent of Sylvie when we first saw her. Their faces are clocks which is a cool juxtaposition.

Miss Minutes is clearly Satan.

Actually, to borrow a line from The West Wing, Miss Minutes is the guy who runs into the 7-11 to get Satan a pack of cigarettes.

“He who Remains.” Hurm. Could still be a Loki I suppose. So far, pretty cagey. Nice office though. Very Sanctum Sanctorum.

B-15’s scene in 2018 is a nice development, showing the other Hunters Ravonna’s pre-variant self, a high school principal(?) in Ohio. The diploma on the wall says “Rebecca Tourminet.” That’s an alias that the comic book Ravonna used when she was hiding in 1905 in the “Terminatrix Objective.” Checking the source material those do not look good. It was in the middle of the Cross-Time Kang storyline which I remember being tedious. This is a still stronger reference to Kang the Conqueror though.

Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective (1993). Own ‘em. Probably read ‘em. No memories whatsoever.

“I already know what’s going to happen” is a standard time-travel trope. Here it’s a pale reflection of Doctor Who’s “Blink.

He Who Remains is Kang, (really Immortus as he appears here). It was always the most obvious answer but that doesn’t mean it will be bad. Here he’s laying out the Cross-Time Kang storyline; I hope they can do that better. That story led to the Council of Reeds which I thought was pretentious but THAT led to the Council of Ricks which is great.

Quick aside: I’ve mentioned Hiddleston and Wilson before but Sophia Di Martino and Jonathan Majors and a bunch of others are terrific. This is a strong cast from top to bottom.

“Why would you give up being in control?” is a very Loki question. Sylvie wouldn’t ask that which is part of the reason they could work as a team.

Shades of Doctor Manhattan. “The threshold” is crossed and the time master no longer knows what will happen. That must be a standard part of that trope but I can’t think of another example, although Asimov’s “The Dead Past” has a similar device in the other temporal direction. Never mind. “By His Bootstraps” again. Right there at the end but in a much more organic way.

A “bazillion boogymen” sounds much better in a British accent.

Sylvie and Loki’s debate is authoritarianism vs. anarchy again. Until it isn’t.

I kind of love that Kang thinks this is all funny even to his death.

Tom Hiddleston is a good actor even when he’s just sitting there.

That’s a chilling moment at the end when Mobius doesn’t remember Loki and then worse when we see the fiction of the Time Keepers replaced with a version of He Who Remains looking much more Kang-Like than Immortus.

And Loki’s made the switch from being a budding authoritarian to being a revolutionary. Season 1’s Sylvie may foreshadow season 2’s Loki. Assuming that all this isn’t resolved in Doctor Strange: The Multiverse of Madness.

This is a great end to an excellent season.

Episode:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Season:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E5: Journey into Mystery

Spoiler Alert!

Nice title. “Journey into Mystery” was Thor’s original comic; that’s especially nice with Richard E. Grant playing Classic Loki.

Ravonna is a skilled liar.

I love that the Alligator with the horns is also a Loki. I approve of making things just a little more surreal.

Also, I had been hoping that the guy with the hammer was a Thor but he’s a Loki too. I’m now convinced that Sylvie really is a Loki herself.

I guess that the Thanos Copter is the big Easter egg that everybody was excited about. Yawn. But we do get a glimpse of Mjolnir and Frog Thor. Better.

Sylvie’s self-pruning is a gutsy move; trusting Ravonna even in that was risky.

Classic Loki’s story involves being captured by the TVA and “pruned” after ending a self-imposed exile. God of Outcasts. But he inspires Main Loki to confront Alioth.

We get Sylvie in the void. And a better look at Alioth. I hope it’s Mobius in that car. And it is. Nice.

I’m pretty sure Alligator Loki is the best character. Classic Loki’s reflections are interesting. “We’re broken. Every version of us.”

Sylvie and Loki have some synergy themselves. They both independently decide to confront Alioth.

I had to look this up but the Eldridge is the ship from the Philadelphia Experiment. Real ship, probably fake experiment though.

Sylvie keeps getting better as a character.

Nice exchange between Classic Loki, Kid Loki, and Mobius. “It’s never too late to change.” That’s a nice setup for the Loki and Sylvie conversation.

The battle with Alioth is a good action sequence and Classic Loki gets his moment in the sun turning the tide. Recreating Asgard is a big distraction and visually stunning. And the music, strongly evocative of Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries is a nice touch. “I think we’re stronger than we realize.”

Classic Loki brings himself full circle, ending another exile by sacrificing himself. A pivotal character.

Everything is tinged green befitting the Lokis’ victory over Alioth and we see the episode title wasn’t just a nice nostalgic reference. Loki and Sylvie get to travel beyond the void to confront whoever is behind the TVA. The Journey into Mystery continues.

We’re perfectly set up for the finale.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Episode:

100th “Issue” Special!

It’s been almost three short years, and here we are at the 100th post on Comics, The Universe and Everything! I hope you’ve been enjoying the ride!

Anniversary Issues have become a big deal in the comics world, a universe where very few comics last long enough to have 100 issues. Indeed, some of the all-time most important series — All-Star Comics comes to mind — never made that milestone. And so we get big comics with epic stories and a plethora of guest stars or returning favorites. The Fantastic Four faced off against virtually all their foes! Spider-man became more spidery by growing 4 extra arms! I don’t remember what happened in Avengers 100 but the cover promises “the mightiest 100th issue of all!!” Also ten-damn-dollars for Amazing Spider-Man #800, but that’s another conversation.

For our 100th post spectacular, we’ll revive the “First Comics” column. I’ve written about my first comic as a collector (Action Comics # 425) and my first issue of Fantastic Four (#126). Today we’ll look at my First 100th issue, Justice League of America #100, August 1972. Ironically, #99 had been a double-sized issue. DC had tried to make their entire line of comics 52 pages for 25 cents but that experiment ended and issue 100 returned to the more modest size and price of 20 cents. A SPECIAL REGULAR-SIZED ISSUE!!

It was probably on the stands 49 years ago today as I write this and the next issue box from JLA #99 ramped up expectations!

This is about a year before, with all the seriousness a nine-year-old can muster, I decided I was a “comic book collector.” I only owned a handful of comics at this point but I knew I liked team books with lots of heroes and this one promised to fit the bill.

So let’s revisit the actual comic. It’s surprising how little happens in this issue.

It begins with some JLAers arriving at the team’s dusty, cobwebbed former headquarters ready to celebrate their hundredth meeting. That’s a bit on point, but okay. Green Arrow must have a dustbuster arrow or some nonsense that will help them clean up. Also, I have no idea why they’re holding this celebration in what looks like a cave while they have a perfectly good multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art satellite headquarters. Nostalgia, I suppose.

Their satellite, by the way, is in geosynchronous orbit which is 22,300 miles above the Earth’s surface and THAT is a fact that I learned from reading comics.

Everybody wants to attend the party. There are more than 2 pages of characters getting ready to go to, starting to go to, arriving at the cave, or bemoaning the fact that they can’t attend the party. DC takes the opportunity to pad the list of guest-stars that they hyped in the last issue. Just saying, Adam Strange — one panel, Martian Manhunter — one panel, Snapper Carr — one panel. At least we see why Batman is too good to help clean up the cave; two low-level thugs need apprehending. Also, Diana Prince needs a lift. Doesn’t she have an invisible plane?

And there’s a cake with a big numeral on the top. Even at eight, I knew that was lame. Also, would someone please slap the crap out of Green Arrow?

Suddenly… as they say in the comics biz, everyone in the cave is teleported to Earth Two and we’re introduced to The Justice Society of America. America Two? I really like the JSA and for as long as I can remember I’ve liked them better than their Earth One counterparts. When I came back to comics in the 80s, I mostly read Marvel books before Crisis on Infinite Earths. Two of the exceptions were All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. Because of the JSA connections.

That’s what makes this a personal key for me. As near as I can figure this was my introduction to the JSA as a group although I’d seen some reprints of their solo stories. Still, look at this! Cool gas mask, cool hood, cool goggles, cool helmet. Also, Wildcat has literal whiskers! Great stuff! And for me way more interesting than the everyday leaguers.

And here the book gets positively Asimovian. The JSA explains that their Earth is being gripped by a huge hand which has something to do with a villain called the Iron Hand. Clearly, Len Wein had been watching Star Trek.

With Zatanna’s help, Dr. Fate conjures an oracle who keeps on with all the long-winded explanations. The key to saving Earth Two from the Hand? Turns out it’s the Seven Soldiers of Victory (Well, eight really, but let’s say that’s about keeping the name alliterative and not about the fact that Wing was Asian). Anyhow, the 7SofV? Also pretty cool. But Stripsey? Bwah-haha! Oh, the 1940s, you can be so silly!

The last adventure of the Seven Soldiers had them encounter a menace called the Nebula Man who is somehow similar to that hand thing. We get an extended flashback. The 7SofV built a whatchamacallit to defeat the Nebula Man and that same thingamabob just might do the trick here. Luckily for their publicist, they’re victorious, although one of the soldiers sacrifices his life and the rest are taken out of time so they no longer exist. The contemporary Earth 2 heroes can’t really remember them.

Something almost happens; in an homage to the great JSA stories from All-Star Comics, everyone has to break into teams to retrieve the time-lost Seven Soldiers. In another homage, the Earth 1 Wonder Woman gets left behind to “brief anyone else who might arrive.” We get another flashback and now the coincidences are multiplying faster than the spiders in Miss Havisham’s wedding cake. That Iron Hand guy? He used to be known as merely “the Hand” and he was responsible for them becoming a team in the first place. We learn his early history with the team, which is ultimately their origin story.

Then something finally happens! We get to see the first team retrieve the first soldier from the depths of the past.

And as suddenly as the action began, it ends, because the pages have been successfully filled. We end with a couple of panels where the Iron Hand gives a typical over-the-top supervillain rant and vows that all these foolish heroes will not foil his plans. The next issue is hyped with a title that is almost a pun and the issue is over.

Overall this issue is mediocre; I poke fun but enjoyed revisiting the issue. The story, bringing two teams together to welcome a Golden Age group back into continuity is worthy of a 100th issue. But the pacing is a bit off and I wonder if this was planned for a double-sized issue and had to be reconfigured in a hurry when they decided to make all the titles regular-sized again. The JLA warranted a larger anniversary issue. Another hundred issues on they got one, a “Super-sized, star-studded 200th” issue if the cover is to be believed.

The story continues into JLA 101 and concludes in 102. It’s more of the same; the other groups of heroes rescue the remaining Soldiers of Victory and we get a lot of patent DC Weirdness along the way. We learn which soldier sacrificed his life and Diana, without any powers, gets to take down the Iron Hand. The weapon that the 7SofV built is recreated and this saga ends in a way parallel to the 7SofV’s last story; one of the JSA sacrifices his life to deploy the device and save Earth Two.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Watching Loki S1E4: The Nexus Event

A lot is going on in this episode and there are a lot of reveals that I’ll try to be somewhat vague about. Still… spoiler warning. Less speculation this time. Probably.

If that little girl is Silvie, that makes it all the more dubious that she’s a Loki. But she’s Asgardian so maybe…. I have to wonder how much variation from the “sacred timeline” is allowable or even possible. This seems inconsistent with previous episodes.

I don’t believe the thing about C-20. But I don’t think we’re supposed to.

The destruction of Lamentis, by the way, is spectacular.

Seeing Sif was a nice surprise. This might fast-forward some character development for Loki.

It is clear Ravonna is up to something and that something is up with B-15.

Again Wilson and Hiddleston are spectacular together. Good subtle performances.

Ravonna is still acting suspiciously. She seems to have a strong connection to Mobius. It makes me wonder, what if Mobius ends up being Kang? That’s not a casting choice I see them making, but it would be interesting.

It was pretty obvious what was up with B-15 but we get confirmation at Roxxcart. And Mobius ties all that together with the lie about C-20.

One of the Time Keepers has a Mark Gruenwald mustache. That’s a nice touch. Also, Time Keepers. Called it.

Wow. Did not see that coming! Watch the episode.

Big reveal after the credits. Maybe Sylvie’s a Loki after all. There’s a nice nod to Journey into Mystery that might tell us something about Richard E. Grant’s character and also perhaps something that will drive the white supremacists crazy.

I’m on the edge of my seat metaphorically.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E3: Lamentis

Spoiler Warning!

This is about 10 minutes shorter than the first two episodes.

We rush straight into TVA headquarters: the Variant does not kid around, and she takes down a crowd of guards with no magic and no mercy.

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The Variant’s headgear is interesting; one of the horns is broken. So she’s a Loki but broken or different. Distinctly different; that much was already clear.

“Don’t call me Loki! Don’t call me Variant!” She’s Sylvie. That will cut down on the confusion. She and Loki are evenly matched, but far more different from other Lokis than I think we’ve seen in the comics. She’s far more direct and much more of an anarchist than Loki who, ultimately is a megalomaniac.

These two are different enough that I have to wonder if they really are versions of the same individual. If they are that calls into question the whole notion of a sacred timeline. The flawed headgear could be telling us that they’re not the same; her story is broken.

There’s a Sylvie in the comics, but she’s an Earth teenager given Asgardian powers by Loki. A later version of the Enchantress. That may or may not be a clue.

Lamentian society as commentary lacks subtlety. It smacks you in the face with class privilege. Traveling to an arc so you can escape the destruction of your planet isn’t the time or place for luxury.

More differences: Sylvie doesn’t know her mother. That’s kind of chilling since that small nascent spark of decency in Loki mostly came from Frigga. Assuming she’s really a Loki. The broken horn would fit a missing parent symbolically though.

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Meanwhile, their plan to use the Arc to recharge the TemPad and escape Lamentis is extremely cold-blooded, even if everybody on board is fated to die anyway.

We get more clues that the TVA or at least the Time Keepers aren’t on the up-and-up.

A lot of this episode felt like an homage to the new Doctor Who that didn’t quite land but the episode was necessary; we needed to learn about Sylvie and we did. And the sense that nothing is as it seems has intensified somewhat. I’m still fully engaged.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Next Episode:

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E2: The Variant

Spoiler Warning.

I’ve been to Oshkosh. It doesn’t look anything like this. And I’m immediately reminded of Sheldon dressed as Spock at the Renaissance Fair.

“I Need a Hero” playing over the first scene is out of place unless it’s setting up a twist. An interesting thing about this show is that it isn’t clear who are actually the good guys.

Main-Loki goes into action with the TVA. His jacket begs the question: to which version is the title referring? Probably all of them. Loki’s fascinating on this mission; it’s clear he’s playing games even before they tell us.

I’m struck that the Time-Keepers may be an elaborate hoax. Looking it up, that’s not consistent with the comics. But they’re building up a sense of mystery about them. It will be interesting one way or the other.

I loved watching Loki’s face fall as Mobius perfectly laid out his plan. The dialogue in this scene is terrific; Wilson and Hiddleston together are a joy to watch.

Another image of Loki being tiny in his surroundings, this time with the Time-Keepers in the foreground. The look of the TVA is even more impressive this time, all vastness and grandeur.

That idea with hiding in the apocalypses is inspired.

It’s low-rent philosophizing, but I really enjoyed the conversation about mythologies and how ridiculous they all are. Also, now we’re discussing the Time-Keepers as mythology.

The name Ravonna just clicked. That’s the princess Kang the Conqueror was in love with during some of his early appearances (See Avengers (1963) #23). Of course, Kang/Immortus has links to the Time-Keepers. Unravel the threads far enough and we find Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the name “Nathaniel Richards.”

There’s lots of use of the term “Superior Loki.” Loki uses that term when there is a picture of Spider-Man in his black suit prominently in the background. A combined reference to two instances where Peter’s mind was somehow compromised, namely the Superior Spider-Man and the Symbiote. Clue? Misdirect?

I suspect the big reveal is why people love this episode and it’s pretty good but not particularly earth-shattering when we consider what we know about Loki from the comics.

But alternative Loki is demonstrated to be a badass. And when we see the TVA starting to react to the Variant’s attack, it’s the first time the surroundings seem cramped and mundane.

I’m psyched for episode 3.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next Episode:

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E1: Glorious Purpose

Spoiler Warning.

The first new image of the series is a bug, reflected in a drop of water. Hmmm…

Loki arrives in the Gobi Desert

It’s a nice touch that they took the long shot of #Loki’s arrival; we see he’s tiny in this context. His landing is reminiscent of Iron Man 1.

We jump into action right away. I remember the Time Variance Authority (TVA) from the comics but only vaguely. Looking them up, there’s some good stuff (She-Hulk) and some egregious nonsense that I really didn’t care for. That might have been it’s precursor, the Dimensional Development Court which originated in MarvelUK’s Captain Britain stories.

There’s a cat. I hope we get more of the cat.

The informational video has the feel of a 1950s cold war propaganda video. In fact the whole TVA has a Twilight Zone vibe.

A less frenetic Owen Wilson is new but welcome.

As he traverses the TVA bureaucracy it becomes clear to us. Loki is like the bug we first saw; a distorted reflection with no ability to affect anything.

I suppose the sacred timeline must be the single one where the Avengers were able to beat Thanos. Maybe?

I did kind of enjoy it when Loki got the upper hand on Hunter B-15. In retrospect. When it was clear she survived.

The denouement of the episode is Loki gaining some self-awareness and realizing he’s the bug in this scenario. “I don’t enjoy hurting people… it’s part of the illusion. It’s the cruel, elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear.” Maybe. You really never can tell with this guy.

But he’s about to get some agency by joining an agency. Stay tuned.

So far not as weighty as #FalconAndWinterSoldier, not as emotionally resonant as #WandaVision but good solid entertainment. Strong performances all around.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Next Episode:

Election Day Reruns

“If you haven’t read it, it’s new to you” to paraphrase an old NBC slogan that really seemed to piss people off at the time.

I hope you’re enjoying Election Day, especially geeking out on the politics if that’s your thing.

While I finish up my last projection and final prediction, here are some old election related blog posts you might like. They’re pretty good if I do say so myself. I really wanted to update “Vote Anyway” for 2020 but sadly, time got away from me.

Enjoy!

Votes for Wonder Women

3x5 19th Amendment Victory Flag Women's Suffrage Right to ...

It’s now the 100th Anniversary of the day that Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, and the United States officially recognized women’s right to vote. We’re once again flying a “19th Amendment Victory Flag” to mark the occasion. I wrote about this flag last year. It’s based on the flag of the National Women’s Party, a gold, white and purple tri-color with 36 stars added for the thirty-six states that approved the amendment. The story about how the amendment passed is great. It’s also amazing that something that seems so unequivocally the right-thing-to-do by modern sensibilities came down to a single vote. You can find that story in last year’s article, 19th Amendment Victory Flag.

A turning point in that story involved a political cartoon where Carrie Chapman Catt, the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, was sweeping the letters “RAT” toward the letters “IFICATION,” symbolizing the campaign to support the amendment. When I was thinking about what to write this year, I spent some time looking for that political cartoon. If you’ve read this blog, you know I like to write about comics and I like to write about history and flags. History and flags are part of the “The Universe and Everything” part. Anyway, at some point I put “Carrie Chapman Catt” and “Cartoon” into duckduckgo.com and I stumbled upon something in the nice triple intersection of the Venn diagram that’s implied above. Ha! Math! There’s another thing!

I’ve always considered DC Comics to be the more conservative of the two major comic book companies. They were static for a long time while Marvel was innovating and they were so dedicated their own house style that they had other artists redraw Jack Kirby’s pictures of Superman when he was working on Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. I get that those are small-c conservative, but you have to admit that’s pretty conservative. It’s like putting pants on Michelangelo’s David.

But there were pockets of progressive-ism as pointed out by Tim Hanley on his blog, The 1940s Justice Society Of America Were A Surprisingly Progressive Bunch. That’s well worth a read as is his post on Wonder Woman’s place in the JSA.

So, what was in that intersection mentioned above? “Wonder Women of History” a back-up feature that ran in Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman for twelve years starting with Wonder Woman #1 in 1942. Each issue featured a short biography of 1 to 5 pages, full of cheesiness and hyperbole. These included the stories of figures like Abigail Adams, Joan of Arc, and Marie Curie. Among the women featured were two important leaders of the suffrage movement taking us from the Seneca Falls Convention to the passage of the 19th Amendment.

And in honor of the Centennial that Amendment, here is the biography of Susan B. Anthony from Wonder Woman #5 (June-July 1943).

We also present the reason for the search result; Comic Vine tells me that Carrie Chapman Catt is a comic book character in Wonder Woman #26 (November-December 1947). That has the incongruous title of “Speed Maniacs from Mercury.” Luckily, that’s not the story in which Mrs. Catt appears.

Eventually, Wonder Woman of History was replaced with makeup tips and advice on landing a husband because DC is so progressive. But the Wonder Women of History were fun while it lasted. If you like these, there are a lot more here. It was nice when comics tried to educate as well as entertain.

References: