Thursday, January 5, 2012


I have recently reaffirmed why Walt Simonson is my favorite comic book writer.  I was lucky enough to have been given Volumes 1 & 2 of his collected run on Thor in the 80’s.  (I already had volumes 3, 4 & 5.)  In Volume 2 is an issue where Thor is battling Surtur (or Surtr if you wish) on the shatter Rainbow Bridge and he saves Heimdall, guardian or said bridge, from falling into space.  Laying his wounded fellow god down, Thor says “You will be as safe here as in the arms of your mothers.”  Some people would think that is a typo, but not those versed in Norse Lore, where it is stated that Heimdall has 9 mothers, all of them sisters.  (Don’t try and wrap your head around that, its religion and thus does not necessarily conform to logic at all time.)  This is a throw-away line in the issue where the focus is stopping the fire giant from getting into Asgard, but it is there and there isn’t a 50 page explanation of it.  It’s a subtle tip of the hat to those that know the lore or, for people like me, an impetus to pick up a book and learn more about the subject.

In another issue, contained in the same volume, a god in mortal guise visits the office of one Doctor Donald Blake.  For those of you not in the know, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Dr. Blake as Thor’s mortal alter-ego in the 60’s and one of the first things that Simonson did was to get rid of him.  Obviously there would be repercussions from a doctor suddenly disappearing, so it gets wrapped up by a scene where members of the office staff are lamenting not seeing their boss in months and how all the patients have been referred to other physicians.  Enter Fandral, one of the Warriors Three, who informs the staff that Dr. Blake has been called upon by the government and will not be returning.  He gives them a bag of gold as severance pay and each also gets a token to remember the good doctor by.  It is with this token that Simonson again shows his knowledge of the lore and his subtle way on injecting very relevant items.  The staff each gets a golden necklace with a hammer amulet on it.  The same hammer amulet, I might add, that the worshipers, both ancient and modern, of the Norse Gods wear, much like a Christian cross or a Star of David.  Again, it is not explained or gone into at all; it’s shown and left for the reader to figure out.

It is this kind of writing that seems to be lacking in entertainment today.  Most things, be they movies, books, TV shows, what have you, seem to want to beat you over the head with an idea rather than trust that audience has more than two brain cells.  I was involved in an argument along these lines when we made our first Star Trek Fan Episode.  (Don’t give me that look.  You knew I was a geek when you started reading this blog.)  We were talking about the Engineer’s Log Entry voiceover that ran at the end of the episode.  This VO referred to something that wasn’t explicitly shown on screen and there were some individuals that didn’t think we should have that.  My argument was, and still it, that the audience doesn’t need to be shown every little thing in a show.  Implied scenes are fine, as long as there isn’t something that needs exposition.  You don’t need to see Jack, Janet and Chrissie* get changed and drive to the beach to make the connection between a scene where they are talking about going to the beach and them actually being there.  George Clooney made the same point when asked why he left ER.  He said that in the 1st season you could see a guy wheeled by with a knife sticking out of his skull and that would be the end of it.  By the time he left, that would have been an entire story arc.

I, for one, would like to see a return to treating the audience like they have intelligence.  Of course, we live in the era of Survivor, Wipe Out & whatever pap TLC is running currently, so I doubt that this will happen.  Heck, even the “historic” drama, like The Tudors, are so rife with chronological errors in the name of making it more attractive that they are practically unwatchable.  Now there are shows out there are “get it”, such as NCIS, Big Bang Theory and Doctor Who, but they are the diamonds in the rough, IMHO.  Then again, I also watch World’s Dumbest every week, so I know that there is a need to turn your brain off every now and again, but it shouldn’t be the majority of entertainment.  Now that I’m done being very un-subtle about being subtle, I’m off to read some more of Mr. Simonson’s inspired works.

* Believe it or not (in my best Jack Palance voice) that was actually the first show reference to come to mind when I was writing this.  Scary, isn’t it?


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