Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Piss Poor Lock-Ups

Been watching Super-Girl this week (just glad that for once they actually got the whole super-person character right for once) and have been enjoying it, thankful that they are avoiding a great deal of the laws that have always made Super-Man an uninteresting character. However, there was one great flaw in the series that is a common flaw in general fiction.

So many sci-fi/fantasy prisons just do not work and are so poorly conceived, they become insulting.

In Super-Girl, the Kryptonians are so enlightened that have do not have the death penalty. Instead they have a far worse, less humane way to deal with unwanted individuals. They put the criminals in a place called Fort Rozz, which is in the Phantom Zone.  Time does not pass in the Phantom Zone. And we are given the impression that all trips to Fort Rozz are life sentences  with no hope of parole. This basically means the prisoners are held in a place where they are outside of time, not aging, forever. No surprise at all that when the prisoners finally get free, they are pissed off and wanting revenge. Nothing about the Fort Rozz concept works. The dangerous criminals get to stay young, and spend their lives being tortured by captivity on a truly inhumane level. There is nothing enlightening about that concept.

Same goes for the Phantom Zone in the 80s Super-man movie. General Zod and his crew were trapped in a real confined space and shot into the Phantom Zone, which they escape from and were even more dangerous than before, in no small part due to their anger over being treated so inhumanly.

There is no doubt that death would be far more humane than being imprisoned in the Phantom Zone.

Yet this idea of being enlightened and not having the Death Penalty pops up a lot and creates stupid form of imprisonment. One we see often is the idea of suspended animation.  The perfect example of this is the movie Demolition Man. Both our hero and villain are frozen as their punishment (will ignore the fact that the hero was frozen over testimony from the villain and nothing more.) Once unfrozen neither of them have experienced time. The villain basically got a long nap for being a mass murderer, and is fully rested when awoken. When the punishment deprives the criminal of any sense of being punished, it really just goes against the whole purpose of a punishment. There is no chance at all of rehabilitation. Being forced to take a nap will not give the bad guy any time to reflect on his/her actions. Any time-based sentence in suspended animation is really just a waste of time, and any life sentence to such is just silly.

Then we have Azkaban. No matter how much you might enjoy the world of Harry Potter, any thinking person has to admit it has a good deal of poorly thought-out concepts, and it is fair to say that Azkaban is at the top of that list. Azkaban is a truly horrible place where people are sent to be tortured in a manner that is beyond inhumane. This is from the Harry Potter Wiki: "Most of the prisoners inside its walls died of despair, having lost the will to live. This is due to the presence of Dementor guards on the island. Dementors drain people of all happiness and leave them with their worst memories, long-term exposure can also lead to insanity." To make this all the more deranged, we know that individuals are sent there for just being suspected of committing crimes. You hope there are other less dramatic prisons in that world for those found guilty of minor crimes, but we never get the sense of that. The logic of sending criminals to a place that will either kill them from sever mental torture or drive them dangerously mad just does not work on any level in any manner of an even mildly humane society. With that kind of thinking running the magical world, it should be highly surprising that they are not producing Voldemorts every day.

I am not sure where the idea of such poorly conceived prison concepts come from. Those concepts are a weakness in so many fictional worlds and could easily be avoided with a little thought. In all the examples I have given here, death would be a truly more humane choice, so the claim of being enlightened falls flat in all these cases.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

At The Edge of Disappointment

A few years ago Marvel comics did a huge Spider-man event called Spiderverse. As a huge fan of Spider-Man I was excited for it and found it very enjoyable, loving all the ideas of alternate versions of Spider-man as well as making use of all the versions we had seen before in unique, creative ways. I wrote a few posts on it at the time.

As a follow up event, Marvel is right now doing Venomverse, which was being promoted to look a lot like Spiderverse. I started regularly reading and collecting Spider-Man right before Venom was introduced, so I have been there since the beginning with him. And while there were aspects I liked of the character, it took them a while to give him real growth, most of the time he was at his best when he was breaking away from the crazed killer mentality, fighting with his duel nature. In recent years they did some drastic changes with the character, curing the alien symbiote of its madness, creating a heroic version of the character called Venom Space Knight, with a real purpose for once.

With no explanation given, Marvel comics took Venom back to his original character on just about all levels, seeming to ignore the past decade of its history.

With the Spiderverse event, it all started with the Edge of Spiderverse, where we got to see various takes of Spider-man, each was unique and different, with Spider-Gwen (Where Gwen Stacy ended up getting bit instead of Peter Parker) taking off as and receiving her own regular comic. The regular Spider-Man comics also had extra stories introducing other new concepts, each one being its own character with a new take on Spider-Man (A young Aunt May as the Steam Punk Spider-man). And then they all came together with their uniqueness and each having their own place in the story. As some o the version were darker takes on the character, that created conflict and opened up the story to possibilities.

With Venomverse they did an Edge of Venomverse. With EoV they took two version of Wolverine, two versions of Deadpool and Ghost Rider and gave them an alien symbiote. So you now have already dark characters each becoming more like the generic Venom, with the basic madness. They all felt to me like almost the same character. All of them were Venom, just now with extra super powers. There really was nothing at all inspiring or interesting it these new versions of the character. Four of those stories ended with a Venom Captain America recruiting the new Venoms to fight a war.

Everything about Venomverse already comes off as lacking in all the areas that matter. I really have  no desire to read a story where they have half a dozen versions of the same character, at its least interesting, teaming up for some reason that I'm not sure I care about due to having no sympathy or interest in the characters. After reading Edge of Venomverse, I really don't care about the characters or their stories. I am a little beyond the sixth grade mentality that these characters seem to be trying to appeal to.

While the initial concept intrigued me and I had so hoped they would follow what worked with Spiderverse, while making it into its own story (Which was possible). It looks like I will be skipping this event and invest my efforts elsewhere.