Thursday, December 22, 2016

Star Trek: Wolf in the Fold

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On this edition of 'Treks & Voyages' I re-watched the original series episode 'Wolf in the Fold' which aired on December 22, 1967 (so perfect choice!) and here I am to give my opinion on a few details of the episode!


Hello Dwellers and Welcome to the Basement…

Something that I realized earlier today, when you look at the air dates of every Star Trek episodes among all the series there has only been a handful that aired within a few days before December 25th… and one of those episodes premiered on this very day of December 22 way back in 1967

The episode in question: Wolf in the Fold, which was the 14th episode of season two for the Original Series. Because this episode is nearly 50 years, this isn’t going to be a total recap of it, just a review of certain things that I found interesting after doing a re-watch of it, much like how I go over episode of Doctor Who.

The stardate is 3614.9, and Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy have brought Scotty to a hedonistic planet called Argelius, because he suffered a major concussion due to an explosion that was caused by a woman, and in the aftermath Scotty has shown resentment to women…. Keep in mind, that this is Dr. McCoy’s idea as treatment for Scotty to make sure he’s not resenting women any more…. And I’ll address this in a bit... Scotty ends up hitting it off with a dance name Kara and leaves the club with her, seemingly over with what was ailing him… Kirk and McCoy leave to go to a cafe where the women are so… ah yes you know the place, and as they go there they here a scream find Kara laying dead on the fog covered street and loopy Scotty standing nearby with a blood covered knife…

And with just the first few minutes before the opening credits, everything about this episode is established as a ‘Did He Do It?’ story, considering everything is focused on Scotty, and there is of course plenty of reasonable doubt to make the viewers think Scotty did it, with only one clue early on telegraphing who is the real culprit. You see the real culprit is Hengist an administrator on the planet and the only clue viewers get to him being the villain is when he’s leaving the Prefect’s home to bring other possible suspects there, Hengist stops and lingers to see Lt. Tracy beaming down, gives a smile and continues on his way. Add onto this the original murder weapon turning up missing from where it was and back in Scotty’s hands for when Lt. Tracy is killed, the revelation there was another way into the room where she and Scotty were and there being no way to tell if the lock was picked or not… and it’s real obvious Hengist is the killer… but with how the story is laid out, you don’t think about Hengist being the killer until it’s revealed that one of the words Sybo says ‘Beratis’ comes from Rigel IV, where Hengist says he’s from early in the episode and only then does the pieces fall in to place.

Switching gears, let me smack down the regressive left who hate this episode: the handling of the female characters. This episode a murder-mystery with a serial killer on the loose who strikes certain kinds of victims, everything works in sequence with the story, it just happens to be all women that are killed. But because this is ‘Star Trek’ and it’s supposed to be ‘beyond’ objectifying genders to stereotypes, this episode ends up getting a bad reputation for being ‘Star Treks Women in Refrigerators Blunder’ which I think is totally unjustified, particularly when this was the first episode a female member of the Enterprise crew is ‘seen’ killed in the line of duty since Dr. Dehner in Where No Man Has Gone Before, the 2nd series pilot. Not to mention look at how the deaths were used, Kara’s was to introduce the plot, Tracy’s to put further suspicion on Scotty, and Sybo’s was just as she was giving vital information about the true danger, none of these character deaths were pointless in anyway.

Now the other the issue of the therapeutic shore leave for Scotty I think in a way is bit of forward thinking, considering they say up front that the explosion that sent him into a bulkhead was caused by a woman and he was expressing resentment towards all women… so what we’re seeing is the aftermath of that as Scotty is not showing any signs of resentment. But when the story happens, McCoy and Kirk are obviously concerned maybe Scotty has relapsed in a dangerous manner so this help for the drama of the episode. So the question is Argelius the right place to take him, probably not, but considering at this point on the Star Trek timeline, they didn’t have federation facilities all over the place and it was probably the best choice out of what was close-by, and sure the planet had an apparently loose ‘code’ of conduct, with the law of the land being ‘love’ is questionable… but hey it worked for the plot of the story and danger at hand, with the Hengist being a proverbial wolf among sheep as Spock pointed out. 

Beside... If this episode was done in the TNG era, Scotty would be sent to Troi for her useless psycho-babble and then be shipped off to some starbase where we’d never see him again.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on this episode, but what did you think of Wolf in the Fold, leave your opinions in the comments section below. If you have suggestions for the next topic for Treks & Voyages, leave them in the comments section as well… subscribe to my channel, follow me on twitter… all that good stuff…. And what’s coming up in the Basement… well… tomorrow on my birthday it’s Tales from the TARDIS with part 2 of the Web Planet… and Talking Anime with episode 13 of Blue Seed… so till then my friends and you are my friends, have a good one!

The Life of Christ: The Christmas Story (Comic Book Review)

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A few months ago, I came across this comic 'The Life of Christ: The Christmas Story' as I was searching for things to review for the Holiday Season, and I figure it would be interesting to see how much of the original story Marvel was able to adapt to a 32-page comic. 


Hello Dwellers and Welcome to the Basement...

Christmas is just a few days away... and today we’ll be talking about a Christmas comic that is about putting the ‘Christ’ in Christmas...

I am going to Hell, Michigan for that aren’t I?

Anyway, I promise this episode will not get too involved in the religious aspect of things, because I’m sure as hell not qualified to tackle such manners, however I will be reviewing this comic: The Life of Christ: The Christmas Story’ published by Marvel Comics with the cover date of February 1993, but was probably released in December of 1992.

Before we dive into it, I have to say that Jesus has seen a lot of use in comics over the years... if I’m to trust Comic Vine, his first comic book appearance was in Santa Claus Funnies #1 in 1942 and while a good portion of the stuff he’s been featured in such as today’s comic choice is an adaptation of a story from the Bible... there have been times where Jesus has been used a bit more... colorfully... from Alterna’s Jesus Hates Zombies where Jesus battles zombies in search for a church that houses the last remaining bits of humanity and teaming up with a time-traveling Abraham Lincoln.... and in a manga called Saint Young Men, he and Buddha are roommates living in Tokyo...

Yeah I know, I’m adding these to my reading list for 2017!

But that aside, let’s get down to business... The Life of Christ: The Christmas Story is indeed just that, a straight up adaption of the story of Jesus’s birth told in a straight forward style.

The writer tasked with the tale was Louise Simonson whose worked history actually included another ‘Life of Christ’ story in 1990, ‘The Easter Story’ so got to give Marvel credit for going with someone who was up to the task of staying on course with the source material while giving it enough slightly different wording to make it work for a comic book. Her other credits include work on Power Pack, New Mutants, Red Sonja, Sensational She-Hulk Superman: The Man of Steel, Steel, New Titans... to say she has ‘comic book street cred’ is an understatement.

Which come to think of it, since that was published in 1990... that makes this comic a prequel. Now as for why the comic was made, well other than it being for the Christmas season and wanting to present something other than Santa, I don’t have a flipping clue, but this was published under Tom DeFalco’s run as Editor in Chief at Marvel, a period of time that saw Marvel so a 500% rise in net profits, so okay’ing a book like this probably seemed like a safe call to make.

So that all said, let’s get to the story of this comic.

 The cover is about as symbolic as possible, clearly it the stable just after the Baby Jesus was born in Mary’s arms with Joseph kneeling nearby as light is shining through a window. It’s nice, simple and basic. The only nitpick where ‘The Christmas Story’ is written, as I think it would look better under the comic title in a small font in one line so it does take away from the image. 

Now how much of the story actually got adapated for the comic... this is gonna be a lot of summarizing folks....The comic itself opens in the hills of Judea, Zechariah is on his way to light incense at the temple, and reflecting on how for many years he and his wife Elizabeth wanted to have a child. He is visited by an angel, Gabriel, telling him that he and his wife will have son and that he will be named John and is destined for many great things. Zachariah has doubts, so Gabriel says he won’t be able to speak until everything he said came to pass.

Jump forward six months to the town of Nazareth in the district of Galilee, Mary is working to finish some cloth she wants to use for a cloak for her husband to be, that being Joseph. She is visited by Gabriel who tells her that she will have a son and will name him Jesus and everything he is destined for. Mary has some big concerns, one being that she isn’t married yet... but Gabriel informs her that because of God that her relative Elizabeth is 3 months away from giving birth... and Mary rushes off to tell her mother and Joseph the great news. Joseph doesn’t quite believer her, figuring that angels appears and miracles happen in stories and history but not to ordinary people and finds himself totally conflicted about marrying her... however Gabriel drops by to tell Joseph to take Mary as his wife and the nature of the child to be... and thus Joseph and Mary are quickly and happily wed

At the same time in Persia, three wise masters are watching the night sky and see a new star appearing in the east, it’s a star that means that ‘he is nearly come’ and they must go to him. They have been waiting for the sign of the birth of the King of Kings. Before they head out they get gifts for him, Gold, a symbol of the Wealth of Kings, Frankincense, a sweet smelling powder that is burned to the glory of kings, and Myrrh, and incense used in the burial of kings. So if you ever wondered what Myrrh is now you know. They have an associated with them named Terah who questions bringing a baby a symbol of death, but death is inherent in his birth... all things are born, all things live... all things die

Back in Judea, Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son is born and they name him John... there is some question about it since John apparently isn’t a family name, but then Zechariah speaks for the first time in 9 months to reinforce the fact that his son will be named son, declaring him to be a prophet of god to take the word to the people

Several months later in Nazareth, a Roman solider nails a decree on a post, saying that Caesar has ordered for a census to be taken so that a fair tax can be levied, and everyone must return to where their ancestors came from to be counted... which means Joseph and Mary are off to Bethlehem where his ancestor King David was from... but their is a problem, the journey would take four days and Mary is very pregnant. Mary tells him not to worry, that she is simply going ot have a baby and they’ll be back in Nazareth before she gives birth

Back with the three wise men, they arrive in Jerusalem and brought before Kin Herod with news of a newborn king... and of course Herod doesn’t take this too well, after meeting with the wisemen he asks them to tell him of where the ‘true king’ is so he can worship him.

Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem but there is a problem there are no rooms left with all the people arriving for the census, the town is packed, and with Mary being pregnant and both being tired from the journey things appear hopeless. A girl named Rifka notices the situation and much to her brother’s dismay, she tells them they can stay in the stable... and that night Jesus is born... and up in the hills Gabriel is out to bring to news with a chorus of other angels to a few shepherds who along with there flock head on down to search for the new born king, they meet up with the three wise men and they of course find the stable where Joseph, Mary and the Baby are staying.

The gifts are presented and Jesus gets a royal welcoming, with Terah giving his flute to the babe as symbol of giving all of his treasure to him, Rifka witnesses this and wants to give a gift herself. Which turns out to be two turtle doves. The Three Wise men and Terah depart, getting a vision grom Gabriel not to head back to King Herod, Jesus is circumcised and a month later Joseph Mary and their baby prepare to head back home, along the way Gabriel drops in warning them that King Herod is looking for the baby and intends to kill him and to flee to Egypt, but when Herod is dead, Gabriel gives them the okay to then head back to home.

Verdict: As you can tell with the summary, the story is basically taken verbatim from the Bible with all the major plot elements that the story of Jesus’s birth being touched on in some way with the 32 pages. Even with no advertisements, that’s still not a lot of room to try and get everything in there. One thing that works to the comic’s advantage is the use of thought balloons, particularly with Joseph early on and the doubts he has when he hears the news from Mary. The artwork is clear cut and basic, perfectly filling in the details of the story visually. Since there are very few text boxes other than to detail how much time has passed or where a part of the story is taken place.

This comic is what it states, it is the Christmas Story in comic book form and is certainly a nice piece for my collection, even though I’m not religious. And since I’m now away of the Easter comic, I think I’ll track that down for the week of Easter Sunday.

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