Rob Watches Star Trek: Klingons and Gene L. Coon

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek

EPISODE: S1.E26 “Errand of Mercy”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy
GUEST-STARRING: John Colicos, John Abbott

WRITER: Gene L. Coon
DIRECTOR: John Newland
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: March 23, 1967
SYNOPSIS: Kirk and Spock work to convince a peaceful world to fight back against occupation by the war-hungry Klingons.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

There’s a beautifully hysterical moment in “Errand of Mercy” where the lead Klingon asks Kirk about the Federation Starfleet. Kirk, with the most sarcastically pleasant expression you’ve ever seen, simply says, “Go climb a tree.” (It’s at 29:14 on the Netflix version.)

You just know they wanted to write something like, “Go f#$k yourself.” It’s even got the same number of syllables. But somehow, William Shatner makes “Go climb a tree” work. You might call him a bad actor. But in that moment he was a goddamn genius in my book.

In this episode we meet the Klingons, whose presence in the Star Trek Universe has allowed them to transcend the show and gain a place in the collective pop cultural consciousness. Not bad, considering they started out as dudes covered in bronzer with vaguely racist facial hair. What’s more, based on wardrobe, it looks like they opted to invade a planet that looks a little bit like a Renaissance Fair on Ugg Boot Appreciation Day. But who am I to judge?

When I watched this episode, I noticed a name that’s continued to pop up over the course of “Rob Watches Star Trek”: Gene L. Coon, who has also been known by the pseudonym Lee Cronin. Thus far, we’ve seen him involved in the writing on episodes that brought us the Prime Directive, the famous episode about racism, Khan, the epic piece of camp glory that is the Gorn, and now the Klingons. These are all elements indelibly woven into the fabric of Star Trek. So while Gene Roddenberry may have created the show, Coon played a pivotal role in making it great. Much like an Irvin Kershner or Lawrence Kasdan did for the Star Wars universe.

As it turns out, Coon wasn’t just a writer on the show. He served as the showrunner for the first season and much of the second. He would ultimately leave the show over the direction of an episode called “Bread and Circuses,” which we’ll get to at the end of season two.

As for the Klingons themselves, they were conveniently created as a war-hungry authoritarian culture. One doesn’t need to jump through a lot of plot hoops to put them against Kirk and the Enterprise. I confess it’s somewhat unsettling to see them with, as Coon called them, “oriental” features, i.e. their facial hair. Supposedly they were a metaphor for the Japanese during World War II. Though I don’t think we can discount that the Vietnam War was happening at this time…

There’s a bit of deliciously twisted irony toward the end of this episode. Obviously “Errand of Mercy” is all about violence and war. We’ve got the peaceful Organians who are impossibly placid and neutral, caught in the middle of this war between the Federation and the Klingons.

Though they’re bound and determined to destroy one another, the two sides do end up coming together for a common cause: When the Organians use mysticism to prevent them from fighting, Kirk and the Klingon Governor Kor both insist they have the right to wage war on each other. Think about that. They’re standing up for their right to kill each other.

C’mon, Kirk. I’d have expected that from a Klingon. But you? Captain, I’m surprised at you. You’re better than that.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Negan Lives, Ghostbusters, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So can we all just stop with this “The Walking Dead comics are over” thing?

Negan Lives!, Robert Kirkman’s commendable attempt to drive readers back into comic shops came out this week. The Walking Dead #173, the “final” issue of the series, came out almost a year ago to the day. So they barely made it through another 12 months before coming back to the well. Mind you, no one could have predicted COVID-19. But my point still stands: The Walking Dead is not done. There’s too much money on the table, there’s still fan interest, and most importantly, the creators clearly still love doing it.

It might not come back as a monthly series. There might be years at a time where we don’t see it. But mark my words, The Walking Dead will rise again.

For the record, that’s not a bad thing. It’s a very, very good thing.

TITLE: Negan Lives!
AUTHOR: Robert Kirkman
ARTISTS: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn (Gray Tones), Rus Wooton (Letterer).
RELEASED: July 1, 2020

Negan Lives! is pretty much what you want it to be: A return to the Negan character, with the door left open for more stories. It’s a fun time, but nothing shocking enough to wake the dead.

For better or worse, this return to form did make me realize how much I miss The Walking Dead. All the more reason to cut the BS and bring it back, already.

TITLE: Ghostbusters: Year One #4
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
ARTIST:
Dan Shoening, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Neil Uyetake (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 1, 2020

This issue gave me the warm fuzzies for Harold Ramis. I suspect that sentimental factor is partially why they saved Egon for last.

Ghostbusters: Year One ends on an open-ended note related to Egon. As this book is meant to be a prelude of sorts to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I’m wondering if this leads into something in the movie. On the other hand, it could be another Burnham/Schoening comic. Either way, the fans win.

TITLE: Devil’s Highway #1
AUTHOR: Benjamin Percy
ARTISTS:
Brent Schoonover, Nick Filardi (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 1, 2020

Like Dead Body Road last week, the success of Devil’s Highway largely hinges on the likability of its female protagonist. In that sense, it’s successful. But thus far the book doesn’t have much else going for it in terms of uniqueness. It’s a standard horror story, with art that’s not particularly memorable.

I’ve been a fan of much of what AWA Studios – Upshot has been putting out lately. But I can’t say Devil’s Highway will be a high priority for me going forward.

TITLE: I Can Sell You A Body #4
AUTHOR: Ryan Ferrier
ARTISTS:
George Kambadais, Ferrier (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 1, 2020

I’m not sure how I expected this book to end. But I enjoyed what they did. Denny and Henrietta don’t get a textbook happy ending. But they don’t get a tragic one either. They wind up in a fun middle-ground.

All in all, I’d call this book an overachiever. It managed to be both intriguing and funny. Moreover, it’s memorable. It stays with you after you close an issue. I’ll be keeping an eye out for both Ferrier and Kambadais going forward.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #7
AUTHOR: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS:
Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer). Cover by James Harren.
RELEASED:
July 2, 2020

This one is a mixed bag. I appreciated the different sort of way Azrael was introduced, the way Catwoman was involved, and that they let him have his original costume before putting him in the Knightfall Batman suit. But I’m not so much a fan of how the suit is created in the DCAU. It’s almost done as an afterthought. Or worse, something they did just to sell toys.

And in all fairness, maybe that’s why they did do it.

TITLE: That Texas Blood #1
AUTHOR: Chris Condon
ARTIST:
Jacob Phillips
RELEASED:
June 24, 2020

Think Criminal meets early Southern Bastards. Then you’ve got a decent idea of what That Texas Blood is all about. At least at this juncture.

Solicited as a “neo-Western crime series,” the issue has a certain southern-fried charm to it. Case in point, our main character, 70-year-old Sheriff Joe Coates, is trying to retrieve his wife’s casserole dish when he stumbles into trouble. Coates has a simple likability that should balance well with the violence that’s sure to ensue in the coming pages.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Toy Chest Theater: Hawkeye by ssn_ryan

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

What’s it like to look out the window at night and see a superhero? We have the answer now, thanks to ssn_ryan and this shot of Hawkeye/Ronin.

I love that the moon is our only light source. In that sense, it makes the image both dark and bright at the same time. Clint’s visage is so subdued that it’s actually easy to look right past him. Which of course, is the idea when you’re an avenger (literally an Avenger) of the night.

This concept would actually work really well for Batman. Food for thought…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Toy Chest Theater: Fishing with Namor

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I have a lot of respect for anyone that can do comedy in this medium. It’s not just a matter of putting toys in funny poses. You’ve got to have a good premise, the posing and “timing” of the shot has to be precise. It’s a lot of the same rules you find in cinema.

When I came across this image from petemenocal on Instagram, I got an immediate chuckle out of it. Like so many great shots do, it projects an entire moment or scene into your brain. In this case, a very cartoony few seconds in which you’ve got someone fishing in largely tranquil waters. Then suddenly Namor dives upward, only to quickly dive back down again. And the tranquility returns, with no explanation as to what’s happening underwater. It’s all left to the imagination.

It’s such a simple image. Yet it does so much. That’s one of the hallmarks of a great toy photographer.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

George Lucas on Star Wars: Staying Together

***Think what you will about George Lucas, but in terms of Star Wars, it can all be traced back to him. That’s why I always find it so interesting to listen to him talk about it. His creative process, the reason certain decisions were made, and how these movies became pop cultural staples. This space is dedicated to just that. This is “George Lucas on Star Wars.”***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Scene: Like the various groups throughout the Star Wars saga, the heroes of The Phantom Menace are a diverse lot. We have two Jedi, a young queen, a gungan fool, a liberated slave, among others.

George Lucas Says: “One of the difficulties in writing a script with lots and lots of characters is you have to be able to rationalize why everybody is along. If you have a film like Dirty Dozen, where you sort of establish they’re all going out on a mission together, and you gather them all up and they go, it’s pretty easy. But when you have a situation like this where there isn’t any mandate that they stay together, and they’re there for transitory reasons that are constantly having to be renewed as the plot progresses, it becomes much more difficult to be able to get all the characters in on the act and take them along…”

I Say: I can appreciate what he’s saying here, and I appreciate its value. But I’m only half joking when I say it still doesn’t explain why Qui-Gon brought eight-year-old Anakin into a war zone.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Power Rangers Spotlight: Wild Force Animated

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

“Forever Red” and “Reinforcements From the Future” notwithstanding, Wild Force doesn’t get a lot of love from the Power Rangers die-hards. It’s easy to understand why, as Wild Force skewed younger than other seasons. But let’s not pretend the show doesn’t have bright points.

This piece by Robert Amaya represents the best of Wild Force. It’s unabashedly bright, and if you’ll pardon the pun, sunny. It’s actually quite reminiscent of the old Super Friends cartoon. That’s damn good company to be in.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Toy Chest Theater: The Vulcan Cut

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

You don’t necessarily see a lot of Star Trek in the toy photography community. At least I don’t. So when I stumbled across “The Vulcan Cut” from Chris, a.k.a. thecreativechip, it was practically a no-brainer.

In watching the original series for the first time for “Rob Watches Star Trek,” I’ve learned a lot about the Trek universe in a fairly short period of time. So with that in mind, I ask this: What was it about the bowl cut that the Vulcans found to be the most logical haircut? I mean, this is sci-fi. So any species that doesn’t look like an average human has to all have the same haircut, right? So why the bowl cut? Does that ever get answered?

In any event, I’d encourage any toy photography enthusiasts to check out this behind-the-scenes video. It looks like Chris actually made Spock’s black haircut smock. That makes sense, I suppose. If it came with the toy, that would truly defy logic…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Catwoman 100-Page Super Spectacular Deep Dive – Aliens and Feminism

TITLE: Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular
AUTHORS: Paul Dini, Ann Nocenti, Tom King, Mindy Newell, Jeff Parker, Liam Sharpe, Mindy Newell, Chuck Dixon, Will Pfiefer, Ram V, Ed Brubaker.
ARTISTS: Emanuela Lupaccino, Robson Rocha, Mikel Janin, Jonathan Case, Sharpe, Lee Garbett, Kelley Jones, Pia Guerra, Fernando Blanco, Cameron Stewart. 1940s variant cover by Adam Hughes.
INKERS: Mick Gray, Daniel Henriques, Danny Miki
COLORISTS:
Laura Allred, Alejandro Sanchez, Jordie Bellaire, Alex Sinclair, Steve Oliff, FCD Plascencia
LETTERERS:
Wes Abbott, Saida Temofonte, Clayton Cowles, Tom Napolitano, Tom Orzechowski, Gabriela Downe
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $9.99
RELEASED: June 3, 2020

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

She’s undoubtedly the hottest 80-year-old woman you’ll ever see.

That’s right, folks. Like several other pillar characters in the DC Universe, Catwoman turns 80 this year. So like those characters, she got her own 100-page celebration. I can’t say she doesn’t deserve it. In terms of feminist icons, there are some who would place her in Wonder Woman’s orbit. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but one simply can’t dispute how iconic she is. Thus, DC assembled a brilliant assortment of talent for her big birthday celebration.

We kick things off with Paul Dini, who is always welcome in the Batman universe. Though I can’t say this is one of his most memorable outings. He uses his eight pages to introduce is to a villain called the Taxidermist. That, as Selina herself says in the story, is very “Gotham.” The Taxidermist seems like the kind of idea that was good on paper, but in actual execution…meh. I wouldn’t expect to see him on a best villains list anytime soon.

On the plus side, what little the Taxidermist offers looks absolutely gorgeous. Emanuela Lupaccino, Mick Gray, and Laura Allred give us something truly worthy of Catwoman’s 80th. It’s funny, I wondered why I was so reminded of Mike Allred, despite him not being credited. Once Laura Allred’s name popped up, it was all quite clear.

We dive into Batman Returns territory for “Now You See Me,” as Robson Rocha quite obviously draws Selina in her stitched black leather costume. We even get a brief appearance from the Penguin. Thankfully it all looks pretty. Though the story itself, about Catwoman duking it out with a dirty security guard, is pretty forgettable.

Much less forgettable is Tom King’s follow-up to his “Some of These Days” story from Batman Annual #2. It presents a scenario where a (presumably) married Selina and Bruce Wayne get pregnant and have a baby. Ironically, Selina once had a canonical daughter, though not with Bruce. Poor kid got retconned out of existence by the New 52.

It’s a pretty story that puts King back with Mikel Janin. That chemistry between Bruce and Selina was always his greatest strength during his Batman run. That two-issue “Rooftops” story from issues #13 and #14 will go down as one of the best Batman/Catwoman stories ever published.

My only complaint? We get at least one night of a pregnant Catwoman fighting crime with Batman, costume and all. Ladies? If you happen to be expecting, please don’t try this at home. (As if you needed me to tell you that…)

Our old Batman ’66 friends Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case return for a story about Catwoman and…aliens? I’m sure it’s happened before. But it’s still such an odd match-up. Which, of course, is the point.

Parker and Case take full advantage of the absurd premise, giving us absurd aliens with absurd names and looks that could easily have come from the original Star Trek series. Not to mention the absurdity that the world gets saved by a villainess. Because wouldn’t ya know it, aliens just happened to land when Batman was out of town. Don’t cha hate when that happens?

Things get surprisingly bloody for “A Cat of Nine Tales,” written and drawn by Liam Sharpe. Once again, we have Catwoman and a security guard. When confronted, Selina proceeds to tell the poor guy about nine ways this scenario can end. Most of which involve somebody dying.

I’m not sure the Selina Kyle of 2020 would be this chatty. But I can’t find it in my heart to sling too much mud at this. Aside from Wes Abbott on the lettering, what we see here is all Sharpe. And he manages to tell a coherent story in only three pages. So while by no means perfect, this story is still an achievement.

“Little Bird” is written by Mindy Newell and drawn by…LEE GARBETT!!!! When was the last time he was in Gotham? I’ve still got such fond memories of his work on the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series from…what was it, a decade ago?!? And the man hasn’t lost a step since, as he turns in some fine work here. He and colorist Alex Sinclair do a fine job channeling Batman: Year One. We get a scene where Selina is in similar…er, we’ll call “escort gear” as we see in that story. They also do a hell of a job on the gray David Mazzucchelli Catwoman costume, tail and all.

I was, however, initially confused. The story involves Selina stealing an old mezuzah that belonged to a woman who cared for her as a child. It took me a moment or two to figure out what a mezuzah is, and the identity of this elderly woman in a nursing home. I initially thought we might have jumped into another alternate future for Selina…

Still, they stick the landing. The story speaks to the idea that underneath all the theft and crime, Catwoman has a heart of gold. A great destination, even if the road to get there was a little rocky.

Chuck Dixon, one of the unsung heroes of modern Batman lore, returns alongside Kelley Jones for a Clayface story. Though I hate to say it, this isn’t one of his better outings. Not much to this one. I assume they went with Clayface to suit Jones’ horror strengths. Catwoman finds him, a confrontation ensues, rinse and repeat. I get the sense the only real purpose for this story was to have Selina be in the purple costume from the ’90s.

I know Kelley Jones has his crowd. I’ve just never really been one of them. I will say, though, that his Catwoman is very expressive here. I was pleasantly surprised to see that from him.

Things get downright meta for author Will Pfiefer’s return to the book, as he takes Selina to a comic book convention. He creates a world where the characters themselves are the autograph-signing, question-answering celebrities.

As someone who’s been to a number of these conventions, I found this story charming. Once I got the hang of it, that is. I initially found it difficult to get my bearings. But its a nice little anniversary story, and Pia Guerra’s art is very accessible.

I confess budget constraints caused me to fall off the monthly Catwoman series, so I’m not sure if her sister Maggie has been a regular or not. I have to assume she is, as “Addicted to Trouble” is about the sisters road tripping back to Gotham from Villa Hermosa. Naturally, it’s got a cool car in it. Hijinks ensue.

Thanks to the actions of Black Mask in an early 2000s story by Ed Brubaker and Cameron Stewart (who oddly enough are on the next story), Maggie is unable to speak. But she still makes a nice road-trip buddy for Selina, and we even focus a little bit on that inability. I wish they would have at least mentioned Black Mask in passing, as he wound up being one of Catwoman’s most-hated rivals.

Brubaker and Stewart evoke memories of 2000s Catwoman the same way Kelley Jones does 90s Batman. So their closing story, “The Art of Picking a Lock,” is an automatic sentimental favorite for yours truly. This book wasn’t cheap, but seeing Stewart draw Selina, Holly, and Slam Bradley again is almost worth the price of admission by itself. And as you’d expect, Brubaker’s pulpy writing style is right at home in Gotham City. God damn I miss him being on a Bat-book.

I wouldn’t call this collection memorable. But it’s a nice little tribute to Catwoman with some A-listers contributing, and a couple of nice nostalgia trips to boot. If nothing else, it should make Selina’s fans smile. I certainly did.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

YouTube Spotlight: “I’ll Make A Jedi Out of You” by the Clarkson Twins

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This has been stuck in my head for about a week now. NOT the Mulan song, mind you. This Star Wars parody by the Clarkson twins, featuring Black Gryph0n. I’ve literally been walking around singing “Only theeeeeeeen, will you beeeeeee, a Jediiiiiiiiii!” in Yoda’s voice.

So now you get to have it stuck in your head too. Congratulations!

I wish I could say something snappier or wittier than that. But it’s really that simple.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.