A Movie Entry – A Guide to the Superhero Movie Genre

I love superhero movies, as a genre. I am a comic book fan, so that’s not surprising. But I know a lot of people who aren’t comic book fans nor understand the appeal of the superhero movie genre. Many complain about the plethora of superhero movies and the dearth of other options, especially for summer blockbusters. So I’ve created this guide for the non-fan of the genre who might like to understand why these movies are currently so popular, and are wondering if it might be worth it to try this genre out [Warning - this a looooooong entry].

First, I’d like to say that I completely understand people who don’t like a particular genre of media. Genres have rules and narrative conventions, and sometimes those are just not to the taste of everyone. For example, in the horror genre, the villain/evil wins. That’s just the narrative convention. So that means, for example, in a movie with a chainsaw wielding maniac at a summer camp, at most only one of those kids and/or counselors is going to make it out alive. And no matter how obnoxious the kids and/or counselors, I just can’t cheer for the chainsaw wielding maniac. Therefore, no matter how well done within the genre of horror, I am not going to like that movie. If if the rule of the genre says the chainsaw wielding maniac is always going to win, I’m not going to like that genre.

Superhero Narrative Convention:
Superhero movies have certain narrative conventions as well. First and foremost, the battle between good and evil is generally pretty straightforward, except for Batman. Second of all, the hero will win and victory will generally be pretty complete, except for Batman. Superhero movies, in general, are fun and lighthearted and not Very Serious Business, except for Batman.

Okay, I’m pausing here a moment because otherwise almost every sentence will end with, “except for Batman.” Batman is technically a pulp hero, not a superhero. Batman is a thinly disguised rip-off of the Shadow with a touch of Zorro thrown in for good measure. The pulp genre is different from the superhero genre, and almost all the differences between most superhero movies and a Batman movie come down to this fundamental difference in the characterization. Batman is a pulp hero in a superhero world. Because of that, Batman movies are somewhat outside the superhero genre conventions.

Okay, resuming. The morality in superhero movies tends to be pretty straightforward. Good is good, evil is evil, and Captain America punches out Nazis. And that’s the reason the genre tends to be so black and white; the rise of superhero comic book coincided with WWII. The roots of the genre have remained, even while the world has gradually turned gray. On the reverse, the villains will tend to turn the strengths of a hero to weaknesses. So, while a hero wants to catch the villain, in general the hero will value life above all else, which is why villains tend to use human shields so often. Superheroes also tend to wear colorful and impractical costumes, as do the villains. Again, this is derived from an era when good and evil were distinct, and were made to look distinct (the equivalent of white and black cowboy hats). Superhero movies are trying to be family-friendly, which means PG-13 sanitized violence, sexual innuendo, but not a lot of gratitutious nudity, sex, or gore. I don’t think this means that the movies aren’t mature or adult, or deal with adult problems, although I think some people might view them that way. Then again, I’m on record as my favorite superhero movie being an animated “children’s” movie.

Blockbuster Convention:
In the comic books, superheroes very seldom kill any villains. Part of this is because it is exhausting always creating new ones, and part of this is the idea that a superhero shouldn’t resort to the same kind of tactics as a villain (i.e., the superhero values life and justice). However, Hollywood has decided that a movie won’t be satisfying to a movie-goer unless the villain dies. I’m not sure why since the goal of pretty much all superheroes is justice, and that is including Batman. So the movies often end not with the villain just being defeated, but being destroyed as well. This is becoming less true, and I for one am glad of that.

Also, Hollywood has decided that a satisfying movie experience that will garner big bucks in the summer months is ending with a splashy, high-stakes, CGI-heavy battle royale of some sort. The superhero genre lends itself very well to this kind of finale, and it is heavily exploited. This can cause the movies to feel somewhat the same, and that is a pity. Unfortunately, as superhero movies have become inexoribly tied to the summer blockbuster, I don’t see this changing.

A Brief Overview:
Superhero movies aren’t new; there have been various attempts for a few decades now. However, the ever-increasing use of CGI, and better CGI, and some brilliant marketing, has made the genre one of the big cash cows. But as with any movie, special effects only are not enough to make it good, or even watchable. The best superhero movies, like the best movies, are well-written, well-paced, well-acted, well-directed, and have appropriate use of special effects. Superhero movies also lend themselves to the franchise model of marketing, which can confuse and confound the non-fan. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the best example of this, and gets its own entry due to the extent of the grand plan. Most other superhero movies come in sets of two, three, or four. Marvel, to me, also best exemplifies the genre, and other studios I think make slight to significant missteps with their handling of the genre. Through the entire genre, a high suspension of disbelief will make them more enjoyable (which is not to say I give fridge or chomper logic a pass).

What Does All this Mean?
Well, if you are a person who doesn’t care for a story where good triumphs over evil in a pretty straightforward story, then superhero movies are probably not for you. If you are a person who prefers a lot more gray in their world, then superhero movies are probably not for you. But there are some exceptions, and some that are less black and white than others. I’m listing my recommendations in order, so those at the top are most highly recommended (i.e., 1-3). Again, this excludes the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which I will elaborate upon later (goodness knows this is already long enough).

1) The Incredibles – this is my favorite superhero movie, and I think one of the best. Since Pixar created these characters, there’s no cumbersome back story for non-fans to feel they’re missing out on. There are complex character dynamics, an overarching question of what good are superheroes, what motivates a villain, and some in-jokes and jabs at the genre (“No capes!”). The costumes are colorful, and there is a final fight, but it’s not the CGI spectacle that too many movies indulge in. It’s well-written, thoughtful, and an overall very good movie. Honestly, this is a really good introduction to what the superhero genre can be, although it might potentially set the bar too high for later entries.

2) Batmanof course Batman is the exception. As I said, Batman is a pulp hero, not a superhero. His victories come at a high cost, are never guaranteed, and are never final. The people he loves die or get hurt all the time, and the villains often get the upper hand. I recommend Tim Burton’s Batman and Nolan’s Batman trilogy, although I will say that for all the shades of gray, the sides of good and evil are pretty clearly illustrated. For non-fans, here is the story of a man struggling to become something more, and fearing what that could be. I should also note that The Dark Knight is the best of Nolan’s trilogy, but Batman Begins is pretty good and should be watched first. Unfortunately, The Dark Knight Rises is something of a let down. I think non-fans could probably skip it, frankly.

3) Spider-man – so there are two dueling trilogies for Spider-man, one complete, and one filming. Without getting into the nuances of character that a non-fan probably doesn’t care about, I’ll try to parse the differences and my recommendations:

a) Raimi’s Trilogy – I like this much, much better. I think it does more justice to the character of Peter Parker and is in general a better set of movies. But Raimi was drawing inspiration from the Silver Age of comics, and some non-fans may find the movies cheesy and quirky. I personally think that’s part of the charm. Also, they are good movies in general (well-written and all that) even if the CGI is already a little dated. I recommend Spider-man and Spider-man 2 (in that order) but not the third one. There were a lot of problems with it and even fans could probably skip it.

b) Sony Reboot – I don’t like this set at all. Here Peter Parker is an Emo Hipster Skater Kid and doesn’t take responsibility for a damn thing. Also, the CGI is splashier, although this is probably just a result of the advances in the technology between the two. However, these movies are trying to be Very Serious Business, and are not cheesy, or, to me, charming. But many people have sung the praises of the first one, so perhaps this is exactly the kind of movie the non-fan will enjoy. The Amazing Spider-man was better than Amazing Spider-man 2, which buckled under the weight of its own cast of characters and having a lack of a clear story to tell; instead it was a series of hasty (and rather cheesy Silver Age in tone) introductions to characters who will appear in Amazing Spider-man 3: The Sinister Six. I personally find that choice odd since non-fans are probably more likely to be put off by that kind of jumbled mess of characters that are thrown at them with little to no back story because unlike fans, they have no outside knowledge to draw on to fill in the significant gaps.

4) The Hulk – now, this movie is firmly in the middle on whether a non-fan will enjoy it. Fans didn’t like it very much because of the dark tone, but I can where the director was trying to go. This is, above all else, the story of a very disturbed individual and the damage he inflicts on his son. This movie could be titled, “Sins of the Father” and be equally appropriate. There is a lot of angst, anger, and betrayal. There is not a lot of the Hulk in this movie, which is good since the CGI is a bit lacking. The scenes are also shot somewhat like a comic book, which some cuts and transitions that otherwise don’t make sense. There is a battle royale at the end, but it’s short and somewhat confused. Still, this is fundamentally the personal journey of a troubled man to find out exactly how troubled he is.

5) X-men – the X-men movies stripped the X-men of a lot of the comic book cosmetics. I personally don’t think this was a good choice, but I’m a fan of the superhero genre as is. People who think the costumes are silly or absurd probably won’t mind. The world hates and fears mutants, and they are outlaws who commit a lot of actions that are technically criminal. This is as about as gray a world the non-fan will find outside of Batman (which, again, I think isn’t that gray on the whole). Xavier and Magneto have a complex relationship that highlights the weaknesses of both their principled stances. X-men, X-men 2: X-men United, X-men: First Class, and X-men: Days of Future Past are the ones to watch.
Warning – These are all related. The first movie is stand-alone (even if the plot is somewhat silly), the second is a direct sequel (and quite good), the third is awful and you shouldn’t watch it, “First Class” is a prequel (and decent), and “Days of Future Past” is a prequel-reboot-sequel (and pretty good). If all of that sounds way too confusing, first, that’s pretty much par for the X-men in any genre, and second, start with the first two and see how that suits you and then maybe move to the others. Part of my guide is to both warn non-fans of the pitfalls of the genre and try to recommend an easy place to start. This set of movies (not to mention the Wolverine spin-offs [seriously, don't mention them]) probably isn’t an easy place to start, but this set of movies has a darker tone with grayer morality than some of the others I’ve listed.

Next are the movies that I don’t think non-fans will care for. I could be wrong, so I’ll include a description and why I think they are lacking. The ones at the bottom are the ones I would least recommend to someone who isn’t a fan of the superhero genre.

1) Blade Trinity – the trinity, not the name of the last movie. These movies feel somewhat less like superheroes movies than they did before “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Blade, who is a hybrid human/vampire, fights evil vampires. It gets kind of gory, but the tone never quite says “superhero.” It’s more urban fantasy or horror, I guess. So I’m not sure by recommeding this set if I’m actually recommending a proper superhero movie rather than a supernatural action flick. And with what seems to be the problem with many trilogies, the third movie isn’t even worth watching.

2) Fantastic Four – the two movies have all the narrative conventions of a superhero movie, but somehow the whole doesn’t come together. There are colorful costumes, science-defying powers, and an egomanical villain who wants to do…something… Yeah. Unfortunately with a weak villain the movie couldn’t be very strong. And while the heroes are decently represented, they have no worthy foe. The second movie is slightly better, actually, because the villain is more villainous, but I just think overall a non-fan would find them kind of silly and not very good. Hell, I’m a fan and I thought they were kind of silly and not very good.

3) Ghost Rider – quite unfortunately, the Ghost Rider movies manage to combine the lack of traditional superhero conventions of the Blade Trilogy with the poor construction and silliness of the Fantastic Four movies. There was a kernal of something that could have been dark, brooding, edgy, and interesting in the original and sequel, but that was never properly realized. That said, the Ghost Rider (who is not on-screen enough) looks damn cool. Still, good CGI does not a movie make.

4) Superman – if you are not a fan of the superhero genre, then movies about Superman are probably not the ones you will like. Superman is a god who acts like a dork and really, truly tries to save everyone. He wears a bright, colorful costume, he is an array of scientifically-impossible powers, and is fundamentally one of the nicest people in the world. He is honest. He is genuine. He is not dark. He is not brooding. He saves the day. That’s what he does. That said, if a non-fan really wants to go all in, I’d actually recommend starting with Superman 2. That presents what has become a more typical superhero plot, but also has more action than the first one, and is a much more even movie. The original Superman is kind of a psychological movie, which is good, but it’s an A+ movie with a F ending tacked on to it. As for the other two of the original set of four, well, the less said the better. And for the reboots? Superman Returns was kind of slow-paced and possibly too cerebral, and as for Man of Steel? My thoughts on that have been made quite clear. I think it’s a terrible example of the superhero genre.

Conclusion – Like most people, I just want others to like the things I like. I want others to share in my joy. So when I try to share my joy at watching the awesomeness that is Rocket Raccoon (not technically a raccoon) and I receive a blank stare, I feel compelled to explain why I like what I like, and why I think they might like what I like. So here is that whole long entry in a nutshell – Why I think a non-fan might like what I like. So try it and maybe you’ll like it too.

A Movie Entry – 10 Things I Learned from Guardians of the Galaxy

No spoilers, promise.

1) I heart Rocket Raccoon.
2) Rocket Raccoon is not actually a raccoon.
3) Giving a movie a definite date of reference does not date the movie.
4) Destruction doesn’t have to be destruction porn.
5) The Only Sane Man is, in fact, Rocket.
6) Superhero movies don’t have to be Very Serious Business to be enjoyable.
7) I need to watch this again with the ability to freeze the scene to really take inventory of what’s in the background.
8) Gamora is unfortunately not the deadliest woman in the universe.
9) Mix tapes are awesome.
10) Peter Quill is an adorkable dude-bro.  I marvel at how that contradiction manages to work out.

It’s fun, it’s splashy, it’s a bit formuliac, but a good time, and the overall story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is building up.  Stay all the way through the credits to the final scene.  And, to paraphrase Mel Brooks, “God willing we’ll all meet up again in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.”  Also, I really hope they bring in Cosmo!

A TV/Movie Entry – I Heart Monty Python

So as part of my shameless self-promotion, I occasionally reflect on pop culture and the particular entries that have influenced my writing.  In case it’s not obvious, I’m kind of weird.  A lot of entries are about cartoons, or comic books, or comic book movies.  I tend to like comedy more than tragedy because real life seems tragic enough already.  But I out of all the things I like and that have influenced my sense of humor and writing, Monty Python may be the weirdest.  May be.  Jury’s still out.

As I find myself increasingly surrounded by ever-younger co-workers (get off my lawn you dang whippersnappers) I realize that the pop cultural touchstones I take for granted are not as universal as I believe.  I had to, for example, explain to a young co-worker that Paul Newman was not “the salad dressing guy.”  So I’m not going to asssume everyone reading this is familiar with Monty Python, although you may have heard of them.

Briefly:
In the late ’60s, five British guys and one American formed a sketch comedy troupe that was called “Monty Python,” which was pretty much appropos of nothing.  They got a show on BBC that was called, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” also appropos of nothing.  I would be remiss in not mentioning the one woman of the group.  She has been with them from the beginning, but was only utilized in roles when the writing called for an actual woman as opposed to a man in drag; she took it with good humor.  There were four seasons before the group decided they were done with the show.  Also, like with most great ensembles, individual members wanted to part ways and do their own thing.  But they released a few albums here and there (so many, in fact, that in part of a documentary I watched, Steve Martin said he thought they were a musical group), and four movies.  They also did a lot of live shows with a decent degree of success, although they never really got back together for any length of time.  In 1989, one of the founding members died.  The members got together a few times after, including this latest and probably last round of live shows of the full remaining group (the poor guys and gal are in their ’70s).

Monty Python’s Flying Circus:
This was a weird, weird show.  Many of the skits were making fun of the state of Britain at the time, so those jokes are completely missed (I am absolutely not the target demographic).  Many had at the core some absurd premise played more or less straight (the “Dead Parrot” sketch), some relied on one line and a sight gag (“The Queen Victoria Races”), and many were just plain weird (the “Fish-slapping Dance”).  The lone American supplied mostly very, very strange cartoons that also made fun of Britain at the time or were completely insane (but no one should be surprised).  Some of the humor was so weird that I often got the sense I was missing something because I wasn’t the target demographic, but I think maybe the humor was just that weird.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
Their first movie, which was shot on a shoestring budget in a very short amount of time and was by all accounts a miserable experience.  It lampoons the story of King Arthur searching for the Holy Grail and contains some biting satire, some slapstick and sight gags, and some plain absurdity.  The movie is immeniently quotable, and many of my friends can quote most of it with very little prompting.  It was so popular it was even turned into a highly successful musical, which I have also seen and is pretty funny.  I even own “Monty Python Fluxx,” which is a variant of Fluxx based on this movie.
Dennis the Peasant – “Help, help, I’m being repressed!”

Life of Brian:
The second movie, which was by all accounts a much better movie-making experience.  This is the story of a man who is mistakely worshipped as the Messiah.  This also contains some biting satire, some slapstick and sight gags, and less absurdity.  Also, it’s probably pretty blasphemous.  It’s actually a better movie than the first and more cohesive.  The ending is, well, what happens to Messiahs but accompanied by a light-hearted musical number.
Victim – “Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke it’s true…”

The Meaning of Life:
The third movie, which is kind of a series of sketches that goes through the stages of life, with a twist, of course.  It has more musical numbers than the other two movies, including a rather memorable one regarding the Catholic Church and its views on procreation.  But it’s not as cohesive just by the nature of the structure and doesn’t hold together quite as well.  Some of the sketches are really good, but that makes the less good ones just stand out more.
Obstetrician 2 – “And get the machine that goes ‘ping!'”

And Now for Something Completely Different:
This is a flat-out clip show from “Flying Circus.”  If you’d like to find out what this group is all about, I’d recommend finding this movie.  It features what are generally considered the classic and best sketches and some cartoons and leaves out most of the topical stuff and really weird stuff.
Irate Customer – “Pining for the fjords?!”

Live Shows:
There still are some copies of the live shows available.  Most are just compliations of the best/most popular “Flying Circus” sketches although there is sometimes new stuff.  The latest version had some new musical numbers and a guy in kangaroo costume randomly appearing in sketches.  No idea why since no one reacted to him except once.  So, there’s still the touch of the absurd present.
Irate Customer – “This parrot has gone to meeet Dr. Chapman!”

Lasting Influence:
The lasting influence on me is an appreciation of the absurd, and how funny contradiction can be.  For example, of the skits that made me laugh out loud was the philosophers’ soccer match.  A team of historical German philosophers facing off against the ancient Greeks in a modern soccer match is a funny concept to me, and the execution of it is brilliant.  The “Dead Parrot” sketch and the “Cheese Shop” are two examples of something ridiculous taken seriously.  And despite the fact the guys are not good singers, the songs are pretty funny.  My favorites are “The Philosopher’s Song,” the “Universe Song,” and of course, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”  And I also learned to beware the cute, innocent looking rabbit.

A Writing Entry – Fairy Tale

I’m posting this a day early because otherwise I can’t post until Friday, and that’s just too late.  This was published in the August 2011 issue of Pagan Edge and the theme was fairies, fire, and creativity.  My naming choices are deliberate and probably not very subtle (although more subtle than in this story).  This could also be thought of as a prototype “Nevermorestory.

Fairy Tale –   

Bridgette pulled into the garage after a long day at work.  She opened the door into the entryway  and heard a crash, as though a dish had just fallen to the floor.  She sighed and walked into the kitchen.
The kitchen was unoccupied but the mess was obvious.  At least three dishes had met their demise on the tile floor.  A box of spaghetti had been spilled all over the central island.  Every cupboard door was open.  A bag of oranges was on the floor.  A burner was on but there was nothing on top of it.  She switched off the burner and wondered what the rest of the house looked like.  “Kelly?”
Her teenage daughter was in her room, busily flipping through her Book of Shadows.  She uttered words every parent dreads to hear – “Mom, don’t worry, I can fix this.”
“Fix what, Kelly?” Bridgette asked.
Before the answer came, Bridgette heard a strange, high-pitched laugh.  Then the cat came tearing out of the bedroom, skittered on the tile floor, and dove down the stairs to the basement.  The source of its fright was a small, sparkling orb of light about the size of a snowglobe.  It was clinging to the cat’s tail laughing impishly.
Bridgette took a deep breath.  “Kelly, why in the name of the gods did you summon a faerie into this house?”
“Well, Melissa’s coven did it a few weeks ago, and I thought I could, so she finally gave me the spell and I didn’t know it was going to be so much trouble,” she replied in one breath, scanning her book.  She only had one summoning spell, which had summoned the faerie, and didn’t have any banishing spells.
“So you thought you’d try this by yourself before I got home?”
“I had it handled,” she snapped, switching to some of her reference books.
The faerie flew back upstairs, apparently having lost interest in the cat, and went into the dining room and started to pluck the petals off of the vase of flowers.
“What exactly did you summon?”
“A faerie,” she sighed.
“What kind of faerie?” Bridgette asked with more patience than she felt.
“I don’t know.  Does it matter?”
“Kelly, go outside.”
“Why?”
“So I can fix this.”
“I can do this, Mom!”
“Kelly, now!”
The teenage girl slammed her book shut and stomped outside.
Bridgette took a deep breath and went to her room to get some supplies.
Kelly angrily paced back and forth.  Half and hour passed and finally her mother called her back into the house.
“I banished it,” Bridgette said.
“How?”
“Kelly, sit down.  We need to talk.”
She slumped into a chair.
“You know you made a mistake.”
“Yes,” she said sullenly.
“And you’re going to clean up the house and pay for the things that got broken.”
“Figures.”
“Why did you do this?”
“I thought I could handle it,” Kelly said.
“There are reasons I haven’t taught you how to summon spirits.  This is one of those reasons.  If you don’t set the right kind of boundaries, they can run wild.”
“I’m sorry about the stuff.”
“I’m grateful you aren’t hurt.  These things can be dangerous.  The next time you want to do something like this, please ask me first.  I may not give you permission, but I will try to make sure you understand why,” Bridgette said.
“Fine.”
“Now, sweep up the broken dishes so I can start on dinner.”
She fetched the broom grateful she didn’t get grounded, and she resolved to be more careful with spirits in the future.

Storytelling Failures – Justice League: War

or, “Justice League of Jerks”

So my friend D decided he wanted to watch the animated movie adaptation of the New 52 Justice League comic.  This is an abridged version of the first story arc and the movie was titled “Justice League: War.”  I don’t care for the New 52, and I was sad that the DCAU was going to be all New 52 all the time.  I was especially concerned when Bruce Timm left the company.  D got about 20 minutes in to this movie and decided it was too much for him to go it alone.  With the promise of plenty of alcohol to numb my pain, and knowing he’d have to re-watch the first 20 minutes (ha ha, sucker!), I figured together we could riff our way through it with a minimum of damage.

So that was pretty stupid of me.  I really wish I had bothered to refresh my memory on why I avoided the New 52, and the Justice League, before watching the movie adaptation.  Briefly, the Justice League book had a lot of problems.  It was, at best, a fairly controversial book with some staunch supporters, and at worst everything wrong with the New 52.  The movie manages to adapt and exaggerate the worst traits of the six-part story arc (also, it switches out Aquaman for Shazam [formerly Captain Marvel]).  In other words, it sucked, and it took a lot of patience and screaming and beer to get through it.

Even if this hadn’t been DC Comics, the movie was just a mess.  Ignoring the problems with characterization (for now), it was more of a CG slugfest than a proper storytelling vehicle.  The characters had no depth, no dimension, no back story, and in some cases, almost no dialogue at all.  If I want to see an empty CG slugfest, well, there are a lot better options out there.  So, let’s break it down.

1) Characters.  The characterization has two levels – to introduce an audience of newbies to these characters, and to be represent the characters fans are already familiar with.  I actually manage to fall into both categories – I am familiar with pre-New 52 but a newbie to the New 52.  I probably have the worst of both worlds as this movie fails on both levels.
a) Newbie – So what does a newbie learn about these characters?
i) Cyborg – Cyborg (Victor Stone) was the most sympathetic character and got the most character development as this movie presented his origin story.  He’s the high school football star with a father who doesn’t respect his athletic pursuits and is enough of a jerk himself to tell his own son that.  Cyborg feels he’s turned into a monster and while he overcomes this long enough to save the world, it is clear this will be a lifelong struggle.

ii) Flash – So his name is Barry Allen and he works in a police station doing something.  He’s friends with Green Lantern, a fan of Batman, and got his lunch stolen by a co-worker.  He seems nice.  And he thinks Wonder Woman is hot.

iii) Shazam – He’s a kid name Billy who is an orphan with two foster siblings.  Also, he’s a con artist, a thief, and really pretty bratty although his hero-worship of Victor Stone is slightly endearing.  He’s probably about 12 given that he thinks Wonder Woman is hot.

iv) Green Lantern – his name is Hal Jordan, his secret identity is a pilot of some kind, he’s a space cop, and a thoroughly unlikeable [expletive].  And he thinks Wonder Woman is hot.

v) Wonder Woman – Her name is Diana and she’s a Princess of Paradise Island, whatever/wherever that is.  She has a sword that she likes to swing around for no good reason when she’s not in combat.  She doesn’t seem very bright but she’s good at stabbing things.  Oh, and she thinks Superman is hot.

vi) Batman – his name is Bruce Wayne and his parents were murdered when he was 10.  People think the Batman is a made up story.  He’s kind of a jerk.

vii) Superman – His name is Clark.  According to Batman, he doesn’t kill, but there’s very little in the movie to support this thesis.  He’s also kind of a jerk.  And he thinks Wonder Woman is hot.

viii) Darkseid – So he’s the ruler of an alien planet called Apokalips and wants to conquer Earth for… reasons…  He has super-devestating eye beams and likes to punch things.

I’m not trying to summarize for the sake of humor or exaggeration.  This is all you learn about these characters.  And if you think it’s oddly specific to have Batman’s origin in there, it is but that will come up later.  Otherwise, except for Cyborg, there’s no hint as to the origin of these characters.  They show up as they are and that’s all you get.

b) Previously Aware of these Characters - What does someone who knows the Pre-New 52 learn about these characters?
i) Cyborg – A complete story.  That works.

ii) Flash – That’s it?

iii) Shazam –  Since when is Billy Batson a brat, thief, and con-artist?  What is going on here?

iv) Green Lantern – he was so obnoxious I thought the writers had secretly switched out Hal Jordan with Guy Gardener.  Then I realized even Guy Gardener is not that stupid nor obnoxious.

v) Wonder Woman – Oh, by Hera where do I even start with this?  Wonder Woman comes across as this kind of mentally unstable person who apparently got off the boat from Paradise Island an hour ago.  She’s just randomly waving her sword around like she doesn’t begin to understand this is a thing that might freak people the hell out although the presence of Steve Trevor and the protest that introduces her indicates she’s been around at least a few days, probably closer to a month or more, so shouldn’t she know better?  She’s also pretty upfront about her love of stabbing the hell out of bad things.  I’d cry, “Pants to be darkened!” except she doesn’t seem malicious.  She’s just utterly clueless that she’s completely terrifying.  Also, she swoons for Superman the moment she lays eyes on him.

vi) Batman – All I need to say is this – there’s this unnecessary fight between Batman, Green Lantern, and Superman which ended up causing a lot of property damage and could have potentially killed a lot of people that Batman could have stopped with one sentence at any time.  Obviously the best time would have been before the fight really started.  But he didn’t.  He allowed the fight to happen.  For reasons… what the hell, hero?

vii) Supeman – What a jerk.  That stupid unnecessary fight I mentioned between Batman, GL, and Superman features Superman just smashing Batman into a brick wall without even asking what’s going on.  Granted, GL was stupid and had just attacked him for no reason, but Superman just smashed first and asked later.  He killed parademons without a second thought and straight up murders Desaad.  Also, he’ll totally catch Wonder Woman before she smashes into the ground but forget those other guys; they aren’t bangable so who cares if they splat against the street.  So much for saving everyone.  Just save the people you like, when you get around to it, if you feel like it…

viii) Darkseid – it was pretty ambitious to bring in Darkseid as the New 52’s Justice League’s first villain.  I mean, this is huge.  It would be like starting the Avengers off with Kang the Conqueror or Thanos.  Darkseid is the undisputed ruler of Apokalips and his arrogance is rivaled only by his power.  You will bow before Darkseid.  Or, you know, he could just be a brainless brute that has maybe three lines of dialogue.  I’ve said before a superhero movie relies on a good villain, and this was one of the worst portrayals of Darkseid I have ever seen.

2) Plot – The plot is super simple: Darkseid invades Earth, the individual heroes come together to beat him and save the Earth.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as a simple plot should leave room for lots of character development and snappy dialogue.  Except there wasn’t any of that.  And the thin plot had some big holes in it.

a) See, the parademons had to set up a bunch of motherboxes to open boom tubes to invade Earth, which begs the question of how the parademons got there in the first place.  One could posit the parademons had been brought in secretly by a conventional spaceship and that would be fine except they were kidnapping people and clearly teleporting back to Apokalips them prior to setting up the motherboxes.  This in turn begs the question of why did they need the motherboxes in the first place?

b) Cyborg could tap into the motherboxes and close the portals.  Why didn’t he do this in the first place and leave the others to fight Darkseid?

c) Cyborg could also apparently just open the portals and free all the human prisoners, even though they were in cells on Apokalips.  This comes way out of left field, as though caring about the lives of all the innocent bystanders was just an afterthought.

d) So 5/7th of the group is left to fight Darkseid (see b above) who is laying waste to the city with his super-devestating eyebeams.  Their brilliant plan?  Poke his eyeballs out.  I’m not even kidding.  Wonder Woman gets one and Flash of all people gets the other.  Huzzah.

3) Setting – you know, I have no idea what city the final battle is taking place in.  In theory, the parademons were setting up the motherboxes in many cities.  I guess this is probably the one Victor Stone lives in (and apparently Billy Batson), but I can’t recall the name at all.  And honestly, it didn’t matter.  The setting served only as a fodder for destruction porn, much of which was caused by the heroes of this thing.

4) Narrative structure – technically it had all the pieces, but this thing was a mess.
a) There’s barely any character development.  No one undergoes any change except Cyborg.

b) They aren’t a team.  Even at the end, everyone except Shazam is quick to say they aren’t a team, no sir, no way, not again unless they absolutely have to.  Isn’t the point of introducing a team to have them stay a team?  That’s like watching the Avengers and it ending with Tony Stark saying, “Well, that was the lamest thing ever.  Don’t call me, I’ll call you, by which I mean I won’t call you,” and flying off, and the others agreeing!

c) Scenes that come out of nowhere.  The most glaring example was a point where Green Lantern is going to run off and do something stupid so in order to talk sense into him, Batman just pulls down the cowel and exposits his origin story so they can bond over being just two dudes with awesome technology and no lame inherent superpowers like the others.  What?  Same thing when Cyborg can suddenly just rescue everyone, just like that.  What?

Conclusion – this movie was, at best, animated action schlock.  There’s a lot of fighting that accomplishes little but collateral damage and presumbly the loss of thousands of lives.  It completely fails to tell a story, which is how the Justice League came to be.  There were approximately three witty lines in the whole damn movie and exactly one engaging main character.  Some of the scenes just come out of nowhere and really have no bearing on the plot.  The movie entirely missed the point of a team-up, which is to end up with a team!  There is a huge gaping plot hole in the already thin plot.  The voice acting is ‘meh,’ the sudden tonal shifts are made really obvious by the sudden music shifts (which is a thing I should not notice if the music is done right), and overall this is just poorly done.

And this is my introduction to the modern pantheon of DC heroes and argubly one of the greatest villains ever created?  One person I like (Cyborg), one person who’s barely there (Flash), a literal man-child (Shazam), a ditz with a sword (Wonder Woman), the slightly sympathetic tool (Batman), a complete tool (Green Lantern), and a more powerful complete tool (Superman), and a generic alien invader (Darkseid).  The Justice League of Jerks don’t just not come together as a team, but decide that’s a totally stupid idea.  If they had walked off the stage at the end of the movie, I would not have been surprised.  This movie was made of fail.

Congrats, movie, and source comic, for making me weep for the future of a genre I used to love so much.

A Writing Entry – Cat Napping

This was published in September 2011 in Pagan Edge for the theme of balance. This one is actually somewhat based in real-life, in that I often feel work takes precedent over everything else in my life. I also, I come from a family of cat people and currently share space with two black cats. No, I’m not superstitious, although after a period of quite bad luck, a friend of mine pointed out to me that I constantly had a black cat crossing my path. I had to concede he had a point, but the bad luck passed and I am still fond of black cats.

Cat Napping

Michael laid on his couch thoroughly annoyed with himself. He had a huge project due in a week and now he had come down with some kind of flu bug. He’d gone to work Monday and Tuesday despite feeling like death warmed over. Every single one of his co-workers told him he looked awful and he should stay home, but he had to finish his project. He just couldn’t make the drive today and it annoyed him. He checked his company cell phone constantly for his email.
“Get down, Boots,” he snapped.
The black cat with white feet hopped off his lap and washed a paw.
He set the phone down. No email. Then he sneezed several times.
Boots crouched down behind the footstool.
The medicine was starting to make Michael feel sleepy and slow. He found himself watching Boots as the cat crouched down, wiggled his tail, and fixed his green eyes on Saddles, a mostly white cat with a distinctive black spot that had given him his name. Saddles was heading into the kitchen to get some food. Then Saddles seemed to catch the movement of Boots’ tail and he stopped and stared directly at the smaller cat.
“He can see you, you stupid cat,” Michael said to Boots, who of course didn’t pay attention.
Boots charged Saddles, then abruptly came up short and dashed into the kitchen. That was apparently the signal to play, and Saddles chased after him.
Michael reflected he hadn’t been home much as he watched his cats romp through the apartment. Now Boots was chasing Saddles through the kitchen. He winced as heard small pellets bounce off the tile and realized one of the cats had slid into the food bowl and tipped it “You two stop that!” he yelled. The cats paid no attention to him. He sighed and returned to checking his email.
Boots bounded into his lap, off the back of the couch, and continued for another round.
He let out an “oof” and a string of curse words. “Stop it!” he yelled again.
In half an hour, the cats calmed down. Saddles leapt on the foot of the couch and hunkered down between Michael’s feet for a nap. In a few minutes, Boots hopped up and laid down next to the bigger cat. He yawned and put his head down.
“Don’t do that,” Michael said, yawning in return. “Just because I’m sick doesn’t mean I can afford to slack off.”
The cats started to purr. It was a relaxing sound.
Michael sneezed several times.
The cats at the foot of the couch hadn’t moved.
“I wish I could sleep like that,” he said. “Completely relaxed and not a care in the world. You don’t have some sort of flu. You don’t have a huge project due in a week that you aren’t working on.”
Saddles sighed contentedly and Boots started to snore.
Michael smiled. “Maybe I could learn from you guys,” he thought. He yawned again, feeling quite drowsy. “I’ve let work take over my life instead of finding a balance. I’m too sick to go into the office, so even if I do get an email, there’s not a lot I can do about it. Maybe I can just pretend I don’t have a care in the world. Maybe I can sleep like a cat,” he thought. He reached down and turned off his cell phone, adjusted the pillow behind his head, and tried to relax. Very soon, his own snores mingled with those of Boots.

Fifteen-minute TV Series – Sailor Moon S

Are you sad you have to wait another week for the introduction of the totally  awesome (and my favorite) Sailor Mars?  Me too.  So I present to you the next  series of the classic Sailor Moon anime, using again the subtitled versions rather  than the dubbed.  This is absolutely my favorite series.  I can’t quite articulate why this is my favorite, but it is.  And the Outer Senshi’s transformation music is my favorite too.  Also, this will be last one for a bit because I really, really disliked “Super S” and it’s going to take discipline to go back to that one.  But “S” is awesome!

Hikawa Shrine:
[[Rei experiences a terrible vision of the end of the world; it will be destroyed  by silence and only three stars and the Messiah can save the world]]

Usagi – Wow, Rei, you seem really down today.  What’s up?

Rei – Oh, bad dreams.  It’s nothing; I’m sure it’s nothing.

Daimon – Guess what!  I want your pure heart crystal!

Others – What the hell is going on?

[[The new monster of the day attacks Rei and the others are not strong enough to  help; in fact, Usagi's transformation brooch is broken, which un-transforms her!   To Rei's credit, she holds out a long time before the monster draws out a  sparkling crystal, which seems to be soon-fatal wound]]

Others – Noooooo!!!

[[vague energy smashes into the monster; the crystal flies away and the monster is  destroyed; two silohuettes that are obviously sailor senshi appear to examine the  crystal and then send it back to the others, who are crying over Rei; she revives  once the crystal is put back in her body]]

Rei – Oh, so I was wrong.  I mean right.  Yeah, I’ve been having prophetic dreams  of the end of the world.  So much for peace.

Mysterious man in a lab coat and glasses – Bwahahahahahaha!!!

Tokyo:
Mamoru – I’m sorry your brooch is broken.  I’m sure we’ll be able to fix it.

Usagi – I hope so too, especially if there are any more of those monsters around.

[[There is, and it attacks]]

Usagi – Dang it.

[[The other four fight it as best they can, but they are outmatched and the daimon  takes the crystal and is wounded by the mysterious senshi, who toss the crystal  back but do not finish off the monster]]

Tuxedo Kamen – Usagi, get out of here!  We’ll protect the innocent victim of the  day!  Don’t stay and get hurt!

Usagi – I’m not leaving!  I’ll figure out a way to help somehow!  [[And by the  power of their miracle romance, the brooch changes, she gets a new transformation  sequence, a new weapon, and a new attack!]]  Yay, love!  But who are those  mysterious senshi?  Luna, Artemis?

Luna/Artemis – We’ll do some research.

Tokyo, the Arcade:
Minako – I am awesome at this game!

Mysterious “boy” – I’m better.  Want to race?

Minako – Absolutely!  [[Minako gets smoked]]  But-but-but…well, we should maybe  get together…

Mysterious girl – Haruka, are you showing off again?

Haruka – Yeah, I know better, Michiru.  We’ve got to go.  Keep trying!

Minako – Okay, so he’s got a girlfriend.  No problem!

Usagi – Minako!  Honestly.  And this is coming from me!

Minako – What?

[[Usagi and Minako stalk Haruka and Michiru to a repair shop, and the daimon  targets the mechanic next; Usagi and Minako transform and go after it]]

Sailor Moon – Hey!  Hey stop it!  I am still so bad at this sometimes!

[[The daimon is stopped by the sudden appearance of the two mysterious senshi]]

Daimon/Sailor Moon/Sailor Venus – Who are you?

Mysterious senshi who looks exactly like Haruka – Sailor Uranus!

Mysterious senshi who looks exactly like Michiru – Sailor Neptune!

Sailor Moon/Sailor Venus – What?!?!  More senshi?!

Sailor Uranus – Give us the crystal!

Daimon – Um, no?

[[Sailors Uranus and Neptune blast the living @#$% out of the monster and take the  crystal]]

Sailor Moon – Hey, what are you doing?  We need to give that back so the guy  doesn’t die!

Sailor Uranus – You know nothing!

Sailor Neptune – It doesn’t have a talisman anyway.  Let it go.

[[Sailor Uranus huffily tosses the crystal back while Sailor Moon is left to  finish off the monster]]

Sailor Venus – That was rude.  What talismans?  What are they talking about?  Oh,  and what happened to Haruka?  I hope he’s not hurt!

[[they reconvene at the arcade to discuss their adventures]]

Luna – I kind of remember something about other senshi that protect the solar  system from threats from the outside…

Ami – Are there any more?

Artemis – Let’s see – Mercury, Venus, Earth’s Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus,  Neptune, Pluto… that’s all the planets accounted for, right?  Eight total  planets before Pluto got demoted to “dwarf planet.” Yep, that should be the lot.

Usagi – They were really powerful, but rude and didn’t want to help us at all.

Minako – And I lost track of that gorgeous boy Haruka.

Haruka – Did someone say my name?

Rei/Makoto – Where’s a gorgeous boy?  I just see this girl in a guy’s school  uniform.

Minako – Um… that’s the boy.

Haruka – You’re silly.  I never said I was a boy.  Come on, Michiru.

Michiru – ‘Bye, girls.

Usagi – So if Haruka is a girl, is Michiru still her girlfriend?

Rei – Not if you believe the American dub.  But I think the animation is really  quite clear; they are totally together.

[[And so Uranus and Neptune are standoff-ish at best but the gang does make  friends with Haruka and Michiru, who are just one year older and attend the  private Mugen Academy; Haruka and Michiru seem to have more information on what's  going on and are determined to get the talismans even if the owner of the heart  crystal dies; it also seems Neptune has psychic powers as well]]

Naru – Usagi!

Usagi – Naru!  Wow, so you’re in this series.  And dating Umino?  Okay, that’s  cool

Naru – Yeah, I just hope I’m not here to have my energy drained again.

Daimon – Not exactly!  [[daimon attacks Naru and Umino]]

Usagi – Oh for crying out loud!  [[transforms and defeats monster]]

Haruka – Michiru, I think that Makoto girl might be targeted next.  I’m going to  follow her.

Michiru – And then what?

Haruka – Let the Daimon take her pure heart crystal to see if it’s a talisman, of  course.

Michiru – That is cold.

Haruka – Yeah, but you’re not actually objecting to this plan, so what does that  say about you?

Michiru – Fair point.

[[Luckily Makoto does not have a talisman and Sailor Uranus decides to help Sailor  Moon defeat the monster although Makoto realizes that Sailor Uranus just let her  get attacked and thus has beef with her and rightfully so]]

Ami – First Rei, then Makoto.  Oh, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.  [[and sure  enough, she's attacked too]]

Minako – Well, clearly I’m next, right?  I mean, my heart is as pure as everyone  else’s, right?

Kaolinite – Yeah, no, I was thinking of the genius girl Michiru instead.

[[But first Haruka and Usagi end up stuck together dealing with other problems]]

Usagi (thinking) – Wow, being held by Haruka as she tries to protect me is just  like being held by a man.  Except for the breasts in my face.  Yeah, those are  definitely lady-parts.

[[Haruka does successful protect Usagi, and they split up and transform, only to  re-unite and get chained together so comic hijinks can ensue!]]

Sailor Moon – I don’t know much about what’s going on, but I know if you don’t  return those pure heart crystals to their owners, then those owners will die.

Sailor Uranus – It doesn’t matter!  We need the talismans to save the world.   We’re talking about sacrificing three lives to save everyone!

Sailor Moon – I believe we can save everyone if we work together and no one will  have to be sacrificed!

Sailor Uranus – You’re a stupid little girl.  What would you know about saving the  world and not sacrificing anyone to do it, huh?

Sailor Moon – Actually, quite a bit.  And where the hell were you guys when me and  my friends were doing all that, huh?

Sailor Uranus – Let’s just focus on saving Michiru.

[[they do and Sailor Moon is even more determined than before to somehow befriend  Sailors Uranus and Neptune]]

Minako – So it’s time to try to steal my pure heart crystal, right?  Right?

Kaolinite – Um, no, actually, I was thinking of that Usagi girl.  Oh, hey, and  she’s apparently Sailor Moon.  I will just steal the transformation brooch.   Learning her identity will surely not end with my untimely death.

Mamoru – Happy birthday, now that you told me when it is, Usagi.  I got you these  fancy fairytale shoes.

Usagi – Yay, I’m fifteen now.  That’s totally cool, right?  Oooo, so shiny.

[[And so cursed!  A daimon pops out to try to take Usagi's pure heart crystal, and  it is the shiniest, sparkliest, brightest one so far]]

Sailor Uranus – That is the shiniest, sparkliest, brightest crystal so far.  How  can it not have a talisman in it?

[[But it doesn't, and Kaorinite kidnaps Tuxedo Kamen, so there's a final showdown  that ends when Usagi gets her compact back and Kaorinite is destroyed]]

Usagi – So what next?

Chibiusa (who now appears to be eight years old) – Hi everyone!

Usagi – What are you doing here?

Chibiusa – Mom sent me back to train to be a sailor senshi and make friends!  I  can even transform now and have an attack, see?

Usagi – Yeah, that’s great.

Tokyo, Later:
Setsuna – Small Lady, don’t tell anyone you saw me here in the past.

Chibiusa – Um, okay.  So we’re not friends?

Setsuna – We are, but I believe the queen wanted you to make friends your own age.

Chibiusa – Oh, okay.  That shouldn’t be too hard.

Minako – Seriously, doesn’t anyone want my pure heart crystal?

Prof. Tomoe (mysterious man in lab coat and glasses, possessed leader of the Death  Busters {although I actually like ‘Heart Snatchers’ better}) – Well, you did kill  off my main minion you know.  Where I am going to find more disposable bad guys?   Oh, right, the Witches 5.  That should last for a little while.  Eudial, you’re  on.

Eudial – Excellent!  Alright, so which main character hasn’t been threatened yet?

Minako – Ooo, me!  Me!

Eudial – Rock on.

Tokyo, Later Still:
[[So Minako's finally attacked but in a twist runs off with her own pure heart  crystal which leaves Usagi and Co. and Haruka and Michiru to run after her]]

Makoto – What do we do?  We can’t save Minako if we don’t transform, and we can’t  transform if Haruka and Michiru are here!

Usagi – We transform anyway.  We’ve got to save Minako!  [[they do so]]

Haruka – What do we do?  We can’t get that crystal if we don’t transform, and we  can’t transform if Usagi and Co. are here!

Michiru – We transform anyway.  You know we need that crystal!  [[they do so]]

Sailor Moon – …  So, this is awkward…

Daimon – I am so @#$%ed.

[[it is and in case there was any lingering doubt as to anyone's identities, even  Minako manages to transform]]

Sailor Moon – I’m sure we can be friends…

[[Sailors Uranus and Neptune take off in a huff]]

Witches 5 HQ:
Eudial – I know!  I’ll just use a computer program to figure out who has the  talismans.  I’m a genius.

Mimete – You’re a loser and you’ll fail.

Eudial – Shut up!  Hey, I’ve got two hits.  I don’t even need a Daimon!  I built  this gun to remove pure heart crystals.  Watch and learn, loser!

[[Eudial lures Haruka and Michiru to some random island with a chapel with a  rabbit-stained glass window {this is less than obvious foreshadowing as to the  identify of the Messiah Sailors Uranus and Neptune are looking for} to take their  pure heart crystals; they transform to try to save themselves; it doesn't work;  Sailor Neptune ends up taking a shot for Sailor Uranus and losing her crystal,  which turns into the Deep Aqua Mirror; also, it is important to note that Eudial  has just learned all their identities...]]

Sailor Moon – We’ll save you!  Er, somehow!  Why won’t this mirror go back?  Go  back, mirror, or Michiru will die!

Sailor Uranus – No, it’s fine.  We talked a lot about sacrifice, and now it comes  to this.  I’m a lot of things, but I’m no hypocrite. [[fires Eudial's gun at  herself; her crystal turns into the Space Sword]]  Give the Holy Grail to the  Messiah who can save us all from the silence.  [[seems to die]]

Eudial – Alright, that’s two talismans down and one to go.  And I got an awesome  flamethrower to finish you off while I find the remaining talisman holder.   [[Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Chibi Moon save them from death by fire and they tear  off in pursuit]]  Yep, should be easy to find that last talisman holder.

Setsuan – She’s right here.  [[Transforms into Sailor Pluto; takes the Orb off the top of the Garnet Rod  and through the power of being awesome extracts the pure heart crystals from the  talismans, returns them to Sailors Uranus and Neptune, which revives them, and the  three talismans create the Holy Grail]]

Eudial – Dibs!

Sailor Moon – No way!  [[she wins the fight to get the Grail and transforms into  Super Sailor Moon and casually tosses Eudial out of a window without half-trying or needing her new finishing move]]

Sailor Uranus – Is she the Messiah who will save everyone?  [[Super Sailor Moon  faints and loses the transformation]] Clearly not.  We need to find the real  Messiah.  [[They let her keep the Grail anyway...for reasons...]]

Eudial – I’ll be back!  [[no, no she won't since Mimete cut her brakes; now I  guess they're down to Witches 4]]

Chibiusa – I thought making friends would be easy.  Hey, a hat!  Is this yours,  frail mystery girl?

Frail Mystery Girl (she’s about 12) – Yes.  My name is Hotaru.

Chibiusa – I’m Chibiusa!  Let’s be friends.  Where do you go to school?

Hotaru – The Mugen Academy, but the kids think I’m weird.

Chibiusa – Luckily I have a very high threshold for weird.  I think this is the  beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Outer Senshi – So, Tuxedo Kamen, we can’t team up with the Inner Senshi because  they’re too weak to save the world.

Tuxedo Kamen – And that’s it?

Outer Senshi – Pretty much.  Individually, we are way stronger.  [[they are,  actually, including Sailor Pluto's attack]]

Tuxedo Kamen – And where the hell were you the last two times they saved the whole  danged world?

Outer Senshi – Sorry, we can’t hear you through our contempt of the obviously weak  Inner Senshi.

Professor Tomoe’s House:
Prof. Tomoe – Mistress, how do I wake you up fully?

Mistress 9 – I need more pure heart crystals.

[[Chibiusa reluctantly takes Usagi to meet her new friend]]

Usagi – GAH!  The maid looks exactly like Kaolinite!  But she was killed!

Prof. Tomoe – I don’t know what you’re talking about.  This is my assistant,  Kaori.

Usagi – Okay, well, this is weird as all get out.  But she doesn’t seem to  remember being dead, so I guess it’s okay…maybe…

[[No, no it's not; Prof. Tomoe has a new way to make more powerful daimons and  Hotaru's house is as creepy as all get out; Hotaru doesn't like Kaori and she's  obviously got a lot of issues...  Later episodes show that Hotaru is quite  powerful even if she doesn't seem to know what's going on; Chibiusa tries to get  her out of her shell]]

Planetarium:
Chibiusa – Planetariums are fun, and nice and quiet for you, Hotaru.

Hotaru – It’s so nice the way you try to protect me.

[[Unfortunately, there's a daimon at the planetarium and poor Hotaru ends up in  the way; the sign of Saturn appears on her forehead and she single-handedly  destroys the *upgraded* diamon]]

Sailor Mercury – Saturn!  Oh, good grief, how could we have missed the planet  Saturn!

Outer Senshi – Kill her!  [[they attempt to do so, but Super Sailor Moon saves  her]]

Super Sailor Moon – What the hell?  She’s clearly one of us!

Sailor Uranus – She’s the Sailor of Silence, Ruin, and Rebirth.  She’s the  planet-killer!  She’s even more dangerous than the Mistress of Silence.  She’ll  destroy everything!

Super Sailor Moon – She’s a nice girl and I’m not going to let you hurt her!

Outer Senshi – Oh, okay, that’s a totally convincing argument apparently.  At  least for now.  If she starts to awaken as Sailor Saturn again, we’re going to  kill her.

[[the situation devolves rapidly as Mimete is destroyed and replaced by Telulu, who is very  quickly replaced by Viluy, who is immediately replaced by Cyprine & Ptilol (well, Sailor Mercury uses Shabon Spray again), and the  senshi figure out all the weirdness is centered on the Mugen Academy (which is why  Haruka and Michiru joined in the first place); Chibiusa is abducted by Kaorinite  and her pure heart crystal awakens Mistress 9 and she fully possess Hotaru's body;  Chibiusa is rescued, kind of, and kept alive, somehow, by Mamoru while Mistress 9  puts up a giant energy shield around the Academy that is slowly growing]]

Sailor Jupiter – What do we do now?  My Jupiter lock-pick can’t crack it!

[[And Sailor Moon is abducted since she has the Holy Grail]]

Sailor Mars – Damn it!  Well, we have to hold back the destruction of everything  and have faith Sailor Moon is the true Messiah!  [[they do so]]

Sailor Uranus – Forget that!  We’ll fly into the star-shaped hole on top with a  helicopter!

Prof. Tomoe (still possessed) – Forget that! [[fires a missile to blow up the  helicopter]]

Sailor Neptune – Wait, why aren’t we dead?

Sailor Pluto – I’ve stopped time so you can escape the blast.

Sailor Uranus – Are you allowed to do that?

Sailor Pluto – No, absolutely not, but I am, so you better get going and win this  thing.

[[they head inside, free Prof. Tomoe from his possession, and Sailor Moon allows  them to get captured]]

Sailor Neptune – Do something!

Sailor Moon – Okay, how about I hand over the Holy Grail to Mistress 9 to save  your lives?

Sailor Uranus – That is not what we had in mind.  Did you miss the part where we  made it clear we are ready to die for this cause?

Sailor Moon – I’ll save everyone, somehow.

Prof. Tomoe – Hotaru, I’m so sorry I did this to you!  I just wanted to save your  life!  [[this seems to break Mistress 9's hold on Hotaru's body]]

Sailor Neptune – Will you just kill her already?

Sailor Moon – I will save everyone!

Mistress 9 – I just need the Holy Grail to heal.  This is in no way a trick.   [[Sailor Moon hands over the Holy Grail]]  That was totally a trick.  Thanks  muchly.  Now I can summon Pharoh 90 to destroy everything!  [[does so; this at  least explains the star-shaped hole in the shield]]  So what now?  You’d need a  heart crystal of a purity to surpass the Holy Grail if you want to do something.

Sailor Uranus – Thanks for nothing, you idiot!

[[Pharoh 90 decides it doesn't need Mistress 9 anymore and tries to destroy her;  Sailor Moon takes the blast for Mistress 9 and Prof. Tomoe; the other Inner Seshi  are overwhelmed]]

Sailor Moon – Ouch.

[[Prof. Tomoe's love for Hotaru and her love for Chibiusa cause Hotaru to regain  control of her body]]

Sailor Uranus – You’e awakened Sailor Saturn!  This is not better!

Sailor Saturn – No, it’s fine.  [[she saves Chibiusa]]  Thank you for protecting  my body long enough for me to awaken.  You can’t destroy Pharoh 90 without the  Grail, but I can, even though it will kill me. [[takes her Silence Glaive and  jumps into the evil to destroy it]]

Sailor Moon – Nooooo!!  I won’t lose anyone!  I will save her!!  [[and with a  little help from all the other senshi, including the Outers, she uses her own pure  heart crystal to transform into Super Sailor Moon and save Sailor Saturn, whom she  rescues as a tiny baby]]

Luna – It occurs to me there’s a reason she’s called the Sailor of Rebirth, among  other titles.

Sailor Uranus – Just because you saved the world and no one died, we still don’t  believe you’re worthy to be our queen, so you have to fight us.

Sailor Moon – What, seriously?  Fine.  [[she wins]]

Sailor Neptune – You have our loyalty.  We’re heading into the sunset now to  protect the solar system from more outside invaders.

Chibiusa – And I’m going back to the future for a little while to think about what  I’ve learned.

Prof. Tomoe – And I’m an amnesaic who only remembers I have a baby daughter, so  I’m going to raise her the best I can.

-up next, ugh, my least favorite series by far…-

The Raging Fanboy

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