The Good, the Pulp, and the Superversive – J.R.R. Tolkien

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

I introduced this new, intermittent series here at Every Day Should Be Tuesday in this post and attempted to define both “pulp” and “superversive.”  In this post I will try to flesh out what I mean by those terms by applying them to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.  My focus is on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s best known works by a wide margin.

In his own words, Tolkien explained that, in writing The Lord of the Rings, “[t]he prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them.”  Thus he had both pulp and superversive aspirations.

In the end, Tolkien wrote stories that are extraordinarily good, extraordinarily superversive, and perhaps more pulp than you may suspect.  In…

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The Good, the Pulp, and the Superversive – Introduction

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

Today I introduce a new, intermittent series here at Every Day Should Be Tuesday: The Good, the Pulp, and the Superversive.  With each post I will look at the work of a particular author or at a particular series and discuss how good it is, how pulp it is, and how superversive it is.

There is a basic human tendency, when you come across a label you find very useful, to start slapping it willy-nilly on everything you like.  The terms “pulp” and “superversive” get thrown around a lot by a lot of people who run in the same circles.  But, at the same time, they are distinct aspects of storytelling with a certain amount of tension between each other.  So I think it is useful to both attempt to define them and to attempt to distinguish between them.

A story can be good but be neither superversive nor pulp. …

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A Plethora of Things

michael-fassbenderThings have been pretty busy lately – mostly with my “real” job. I’m in the process of taking several classes related to it and they’ve been seriously cutting into my writing time. Despite that, I’ve done a bit of work lately on two different projects – one of which is an idea from my old pal Jim Beard and the other is a superhero story featuring several characters that have appeared in my Reese Unlimited universe. Neither is very far along but I’ve tried to add a little bit here and there as time permits.

I recently finished reading King Kong vs. Tarzan by Will Murray. I’d give it 3 stars out of 5. First off, this is not written from a pulpy mindset so if you’re expecting a lot of action like in Will Murray’s Doc Savage novels, you’re in for a surprise. Tarzan is mentioned frequently but doesn’t physically appear until about page 262 (the story is 455 pages). Most of the book is centered around the travel over the ocean with Kong in the hold of the ship – ever wondered how the crew managed to keep Kong in line, keep him fed and deal with his bowel movements? This book will explain it all to you. Characterizations are solid but the story could have been twice as good if it had been half as long. I would recommend this to hardcore Kong fans or Tarzan completionists but not any others.

Something very cool will be coming your way in about a week’s time so hang in there. Ye Old Marketing Machine is about to go into overdrive. You have been warned!

Getting Lucky: Domino (Marvel, 2018)

Domino is my favorite series right now – I’d never really taken a shine to the character before but Gail Simone has made me a real fan. This article gives a great overview of the first two issues of her current series. Definitely check it out!

In One Ear...

Domino_Promo_ArtDomino , created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld as part of X-Force in the 90’s, Domino was a mercenary with the power to effect probability…or…more simply, she is really lucky. The only survivor of a government experiment, Neena Thurman has chalk white skin and a black oval tattooed on her left eye.

She has been a mainstay in the X-Universe.  Now she is in her own series, written by Comics Legend Gail Simone.

The first issue introduces us to her new team…Domino, the super strong Outlaw and Diamondback.

After a botched mission, the three return back to Domino’s place to find that there is a surprise Birthday Party for Domino.  It is a who’s who of peripheral X-Characters. And, personally, I will never, ever complain about an appearance by Dazzler.

Domino_DazzlerDomino_Issue_001But then her fun is interrupted by a strange old man and his Nurse.  The Nurse is revealed to…

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Signs That You Watch Too Much Star Trek

Biff Sock Pow

Starship Enterprise #1

I caught myself saying something the other day and it made me realize that perhaps I watch too much Star Trek, and in particular The Next Generation.  After thinking about it for a bit, it struck me how much of my vernacular has its roots in ST:TNG.  So here is my handy guide to let you know if you’re suffering from Trek-inosis.  Feel free to add your own in the comments.  Give yourself one point for each one of these you are guilty of.

  1. You are about to leave your abode.  You pause and look down at your pet, who is staring up at you wide eyed and mildly curious.  You say to them them, “You have the bridge, Number One” and depart purposefully.
  2. Someone closes the door to the dishwasher after loading it.  They pause and ask you if you have anything else to put in it, or should…

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6 Obscure Superhero Kids Taking Over the Family Business

Henchman-4-Hire

The Incredibles 2 comes out this weekend and I am very, very excited! The first movie is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies and the sequel is long in coming. Me being the pop culture friendly blogger I am, I knew I needed to make a list that would coincide with the movie. How about famous comic book families? Just like the Incredibles!

Yeah, nah, that list would be comprised of the Fantastic Four and all the other famous comic book families that everybody already knows.

Incredibles Kids List 01 Not enough super teams having matching uniforms

I could make a list full of characters and superhero families that everybody already knows, but where is the fun in that? I want some deeper cuts! Then Marvel announced the new Asgardians of the Galaxy comic, which features a character I barely knew about, but is a son taking up his father’s legacy. Boom! There’s…

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Who is… Babylon?

Coming sometime in 2018 is THE SECOND BOOK OF BABYLON, a novel that stars the cosmic spirit of retribution – Babylon! Eagle-eyed readers have noticed several references to Babylon on my timeline that’s often published on this blog… but who is he? The following essay will run in THE SECOND BOOK OF BABYLON and gives you an overview of the hero – it will appear at the beginning of the book and leads directly into what the novel is all about.

If any of this sounds somewhat… familiar… then you’ll receive a No-Prize in the mail at some point. Babylon’s real-world origins are quite a tale in and of themselves – someday, I just might tell you about it.

WHO IS BABYLON?

Gideon, born in the 18th century, was the slave to a devil-worshipping plantation owner named Abraham Black, who had his own name added to each of his slaves’ names to show his ownership of them. Gideon Black fell in love with the daughter of the plantation owner – a stunning beauty named Magdalena – and the two carried on a secret affair that came to a terrible conclusion when the she gave birth to Gideon’s son. Abraham was outraged at this and had his daughter tied to a post in the center of the front yard, intending to have her burned at the stake for cavorting with a black man and tainting the family line. Gideon was beaten and tied up in the storm cellar of the plantation house, where his own fate would be decided after the murder of his beloved.

Magdalena had learned much of her father’s teachings, however – with her dying breath, she summoned the Furies of myth to take revenge on her father. The entities slew nearly everyone on the plantation and were about to exact their own awful justice upon Abraham when the occultist made a pact of his own: he summoned Lucifer himself and offered a deal – the souls of both Gideon and the spawn of Gideon’s relationship with Magdalena. Lucifer accepted this offer and empowered Gideon with armor forged in the depths of Hell. Gideon became Babylon, the cosmic spirit of dark vengeance, and successfully banished The Furies.

Learning of his father’s crimes and that the dark lord had taken his son’s soul, Gideon committed suicide. When Lucifer went to claim Gideon’s soul, an archangel appeared and demanded that Gideon be spared. A compromise was reached: Gideon’s soul would be bonded to the infernal armor and could be summoned by his descendants in future years. Thus, he would serve both Heaven and Hell, claimed by neither.

Through the years, many of Gideon’s family line served their time as Babylon, offering up retribution for the spilling of innocent blood. In the late 1930s, a man named Daniel Higgins became Babylon after he and his sister Stella stumbled upon a mob hit taking place in the Sovereign City Cemetery. The killers feared that the couple might be able to identify them and the mob boss ordered them killed. While fleeing, Stella was shot in the head, entering a coma and eventually dying. Daniel stumbled upon a strange suit of armor – when he touched it, the metal seemed to flow over his skin and transformed him into Babylon.

Babylon’s personality was quite different from the quiet and unassuming Daniel but over the years, their personas began to blend. The Babylon entity lacked memories of his true origins for years and it was not until the latter part of the 20th century that he finally uncovered his history as Gideon Black. During this time, Daniel was kept young by the power of the Babylon armor, making him the longest tenured host of Gideon’s spirit. Daniel and Gideon fought the forces of evil through the Second World War and far beyond, crossing paths with Daniel’s Johnny Galahad, a private eye that specialized in the occult, and Jennifer Black, a sorceress that was descended from a line of Atlantean mages.

The role of Babylon was as much a curse as anything else. Serving as the cosmic spirit of vengeance put friends and loved ones in constant peril and Daniel was forced to watch as many of them were killed by his enemies – even those that escaped a violent end grew old and passed away, while he himself stayed young. Daniel eventually began traveling the world, afraid of settling down in one place for too long since his foes would inevitably find him. Amongst his most persistent enemies were Lucifer; Damien, the devil’s son; the vampire known as Bloodshot and the serial-murderer Straw Man.

Eventually, Babylon journeyed into Hell itself to unlock the truth about his past. He succeeded, revealing that the spirit within the armor was Gideon Black and that both Johnny Galahad and Jennifer Black were descendants of his. At the climax of the adventure, Daniel was killed at long lost and Gideon Black became ruler of Hell alongside Johnny Galahad’s deceased wife Roxanne, who had been revived as a demonic entity known as Delilah.

Shortly thereafter, a confused Babylon reappeared on Earth, running amok. He was seemingly restored to normalcy after Daniel reappeared and the two merged again. How Daniel was still alive was left unanswered at that time…

Another Rave Review for Lazarus Gray!

José Rivera posted a 5-Star review of the seventh volume in the Lazarus Gray series. Let’s take a look at what he said:

Another amazing volume of Lazarus Gray comes out and as always, it’s an occasion to be celebrated. This time we get a novel-length adventure involving The King in Yellow, a terrifying villain with an unsettling influence on people. Even better, we get the return of Princess Femi, a character I’ve loved since the first volume. But the fun doesn’t stop there! Reese has included as many previous members of Assistance Unlimited as possible, each getting their moments to shine. It’s always good seeing Eidolon and Abby and given how their relationship is going, can’t wait to see where that goes.

With the way I’m describing this story, you’d think this was the finale of the series–It even seems like it with the final words. But thankfully it’s not. You come for the adventure, you stay for the characters and when its all said and done, you leave with a sense of hope knowing the people of Sovereign are in good hands and there’s more adventures down the line.

Also…the description of Carcosa is creepy as hell!

Thanks, Jose! I think that volume 7 was one of my best so I’m glad you agree. As for the ending, you never know what will happen in life so I try whenever possible to leave each volume in a position where if it ended up being the final book, readers would feel satisfied.