Loki is a great place to start, because he’s a perfect example of a villain who isn’t really all that impressive on paper. Oh sure, he’s got some nifty tricks up his sleeve – notably his talents as an illusionist – but on his home turf of Asgard, a world populated entirely with godlike denizens, Loki’s powers barely set him apart from the pack. As a warrior, he’s no Thor; heck, he can’t even compete with his brother’s merry band of cookie-cutter sidekicks. His schemes aren’t all that subtle, either. He does manage to manipulate his brother pretty effectively, but let’s face it – that takes about as much cunning as convincing your golden retriever to chase the stick you didn’t really throw.
There’s something about the idea of walking somewhere that no one else ever has which connects to why I fell in love with sci-fi as a kid. The idea of walking alien soil, taking in bizarre vegetation and unknown, inexplicable wildlife appealed to me far more than the epic space battles or the jetpack and robot futurescapes. That moment of arrival; that sense of what have you got for me today, universe? Exploration for its own sake is at the heart of my sci-fi.
So No Man’s Sky is at the heart of my sci-fi.
If the recent and successful relaunch of Archie Comics is any indication, it appears that the age of youthful cynicism is dead. While punk had a rebellious spirit, it was the grunge movement that solidified the apathetic and bleak outlook of the 90s MTV Generation X-ers, which might have faded before now had it not been swept up in the chain of catastrophes in the noughties. Optimism had no place in the world of 9/11, the War on Terror, natural disasters, climate change and financial crises instead fatalism and malaise carried on the grunge spirit of the previous decade.
What makes a great villain?
It’s a question I’ve been pondering a lot lately. Prompted, as these things usually are, by something quite mundane: the realization that I was steadily losing interest in a show I’d previously been enjoying.
Imagine if it had been William Shakespeare, England’s greatest playwright, who had discovered the truth about the Great Old Ones and the cosmic entity we know as Cthulhu, rather than the American horror writer H P Lovecraft. Imagine if Stratford’s favourite son had been the one to learn of the dangers of seeking after forbidden knowledge and of the war waged between the Elder Gods in the Outer Darkness, and had passed on that message, to those with eyes to see it, through his plays and poetry… Welcome to the world of Shakespeare vs Cthulhu!
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On the horizon: there's more from Kuzhali, Stark, Selena, Molly, Becky, Silvia, Jamie and the One Comic team, our DGLA reviews, some very special guest posts, some super-nerdy data stuff and the start of a brand new feature series.
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Nostalgia hits us in various ways this show, as we take a look at issue six of Paper Girls, written by Brian K Vaughan with art by Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson, which tells the story of characters from 1988 brought forward into the present. (And some others coming back from the future. Possibly. Exactly what’s going on remains tantalisingly intriguing.)
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[Updated April 2017]