Month: June 2016

The Devil’s Heir- Chapter 12

CHAPTER 12:  HOOK-HANDED COYBOY

A new recruit to Mabus’ army, fresh from some howling battlefield and now standing shivering and quaking in the presence of the king of New Gomorrah, being given the old “You stand in the belly of the beast…” speech would naturally have a great many questions.

What is this place?

Why am I here?

What should I do now?

Once the reality of his situation had sunk in, our new recruit would find himself beset by slightly more mundane questions;

Where can I find food?

Where shall I live?

Are there others like me in this city I can join for my own safety?

Can I survive here?

In time, all these questions would be answered, some more suddenly and brutally than others.

But perhaps the one question that would never be answered for most of the men and women conscripted into Mabus’ crusade was this:

What the hell is up with all the scorpions?

Why are there scorpion banners hanging from archways and nailed to walls? Why is there a scorpion on the back of every Gomorran talon? Why the Red, Blue, Black and Green Scorpions?   

The answer to this, Cole knew, was no great secret. It was simply not widely known.

The reason was that when Mabus’ father, Gedi, had needed to choose a totem to represent his house, he had chosen the scorpion. The House of Gedi had been one of the smaller houses in Babilu, but still wielded a considerable amount of wealth and influence. By choosing the scorpion as his symbol Gedi was displaying to his enemies an animal that was small, but could still be lethal to much larger creatures should they be foolish enough to anger it.  

To be the Golden Scorpion, Mabus had once explained to Cole, was to be the physical manifestation of the will of the House of Gedi. A shining, invincible, seemingly godlike avatar.

To be a Black Scorpion, on the other hand, meant something different entirely.

The Black Scorpions had, before their dissolution at least, acted as Mabus’ secret police. It had been their unenviable task to keep tabs on the innumerable guilds, secret societies, mobs, gangs and fraternities that had sprung up like weeds in the fertile soil of Mabus’ army. If any particular organisation seemed to be becoming a little too powerful, more often than not the leaders would be paid a visit in the night by a close friend who they had trusted implicitly, and never wake up.

But the Black Scorpions were gone now.

And it was time for something else to replace them.

“Wait here.” said Cole

Isabella looked around nervously, brushing the handle of a dagger with her thumb over and over.

The hallway, dank, dark and stinking, looked deserted. But then, in Gomorrah, it was the people you couldn’t see who were the ones to keep an eye out for. The fact that there didn’t seem to be anyone here did nothing to reassure her. Every step they had taken since leaving Mabus’ throne room to this ten storey tenement building just north of the Combat Tower, Isabella had been unable to shake the feeling that they were being followed. She glanced nervously to where Cole was dragging his finger lazily over a grimy, brown-stained wall.

“What are we doing here?” she asked, and it felt like the hundredth time.

“Ssshhh.” he whispered “Got ya.”

“What?” she turned to look at him, only to see that he had been talking to the wall, not to her.

With a low, dreary moan, the wall was sliding to one side, revealing a dark passageway.

“Let’s go.” said Cole.

They disappeared into the opening, and seconds later the wall slid shut again.

“What is this place?” Isabella whispered, her keen eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness of the room.

“Hang on. I gotta find the light switch.” said Cole, talking over his shoulder as he felt along the wall “Every tenth building in Gomorrah has one of these rooms. They’re safe houses, for any Black Scorpion who’s cover his blown and needs to lie low. He can hide out here, live off rations for weeks if he has to. There’s a weapons locker under the bed. A radio to call into the Blue Room for rescue, or just to listen in to see what’s going on outside. More importantly, only the engineers who built it, and the Scorpion assigned to it knows where his individual safe room is. And only one man in the entire city knows where all of them are.”

“Mabus?”

“If Mabus knew about this place, do you think we’d be hiding out here? Nah, I ordered these to be built, never told Mabus.”

“You knew you might need to hide from him?”

“No, actually. I just never told him. Mostly because I thought he wouldn’t care. He told me to build him a spy network, and I did it. He never really asked how. But we’ll be as safe here as anywhere. We can stay here while we look for Joriel. Then we are getting out of here, and we are not even stopping to shake the dust off our shoes. There you are…”

His hand touched the light switch and the room was thrown into a sickly green haze.

Cole turned and froze.

“Oh you’re smart Joe. Got it all planned out. But let me ask you this: How fast are you?”

Isabella’s eyes stared at him, terrified, over the arm that was wrapped across her face. The silver muzzle of a Colt single action Army was pressed to her neck.

And the eyes that stared at Cole over her shoulder were as pitiless as they were desperate.

Cole almost burst out laughing. Of all the safe houses in the city, he had chosen the one containing New Gomorrah’s most wanted citizen; Ezekiel Holtz, the man who had raised the riot with Thomas, and shot Mabus himself. For a mad second, Cole considered how capturing Holtz might just be enough to put himself back in Mabus’ good graces. But he dismissed the idea almost as soon as it came to him. They were getting out. That was the end of it. At least, they were if could convince Holtz to let Isabella go.

“Hi Holtz.” said Cole as nonchalantly as he could.

(more…)

The Devil’s Heir- Chapter 11

CHAPTER 11: THE CONQUEST OF MABUS

Groethuis was halfway through explaining exactly how the God-killer worked when Mabus raised his hand to silence him.

“Master?” said Groethuis, looking up from the schematics he had spread across the table like a treasure map.

“That will be all today, Doctor. You may finish tomorrow.”

“As you wish, Master.”

Can the weapon be fired?”

It is primed and ready.”

“Good. We may get precious little warning.”

Master, if I may ask…”

That will be all, Doctor.”

Sensing that Mabus was close to simply vanishing him out of the throne room with a thought, and without much consideration as to whether he reappeared on the ground or a hundred feet above it, Groethuis gathered up his papers and left without another word.

Mabus silently rested in his throne for a full two minutes.

Finally, he rose to his feet and opened the door to his private bedroom.

He already knew, indeed had known from the second he had raised his hand to silence Groethuis, what he would find there.

“Ave Mabus.” said the figure who was now sitting in his chair with his legs crossed nonchalantly over the table.

“What do you want?” Mabus asked.

“Why do you think I’m here?” the second Mabus asked.

Mabus studied his double. A horrific, skeletal figure draped in sack-like skin and with the barest, mist-thin wreathing of grey hair here and there. And those terrible, milky pale eyeballs, nestling in cavernous sockets like terrible pearls in some ancient shell. Since he had no memory of this meeting, this Mabus was from his future, not his past. But how far in the future? Impossible to say. Even back in the living world, Mabus had been aged as much as a person could be aged. He could not look older if he tried. And here in Hell, no one aged anyway, making it doubly pointless. This Mabus could be from ten seconds in the future, or ten million years.

“To warn me?” Mabus asked.

The second Mabus opened his mouth to let the pale lips slip over his teeth, the closest he could come to a grin.

“To give you a little helping hand.” he said “The hard part’s coming. I think you know to what I refer?”

“But I do win? We win?”

“Well that’s up to you, isn’t it?”

Am I truly this insufferably smug? Mabus asked himself.
“Yes.” said his double.

Walked into that one, I suppose, Mabus thought.

“Yes you did.” said the second Mabus, again with the awful skull grin.

“Get to the point.” Mabus snapped irritably “What do I have to do?”

“Here.” said the double, passing a roll of yellowing paper across the table to him.

“What is this?” Mabus asked him, unfurling it, his eyes adjusting to the script. Ancient Greek. He tried a few words as an appetiser, long disused parts of his brain flickering into life at the taste of them.

The Conquest of Mabus.” said his twin “It’s a poem, written by one of your soldiers. It commemorates your glorious victory.”

Why give it to me?”

Because it’ll tell you everything you need to do. And it’s good for your ego. Enjoy.”

Mabus simply nodded. He didn’t bother thanking himself. What was the point?

His double vanished, and Mabus unfurled the scroll and began to read.

(more…)

Catching up on the Devil’s Heir

Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Sorry.

Sorry. It’s taken a ridiculously long time for me to do this and I can only apologise. Anyway. Regular updates of new chapters of The Devil’s Heir will resume starting next Thursday and Chapter 11 is up now. In the meantime, here is a master list of all the chapters of the Hangman’s Daughter/Devil’s Heir just in case any one wants to get caught up or has forgotten where we were (and I could hardly blame you if you have).

The Hangman’s Daughter

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

The Devil’s Heir

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Huge thanks to my brother Eamonn for all his help. You’re a legend, dude.

 

exit from the eurozone: golden star fallen from a blue wall

We were conquered by these people how exactly?

IDIOTS.

Sorry, I was going to do a proper, well-reasoned, nuanced reaction to the Brexit vote with references to the increasing alienation of the British working class in an age of globalisation and blah blah blah yadda yadda.

NO.

FUCK THAT. I have been drinking, my country’s economy has just been thrown into very real jeopardy and you Little England cunts have now threatened my daughter’s future. No no. You’re getting the lash. (This, by the way, is not directed at the forty odd per cent of Britons who voted to Remain. You get a big hug, I am so, so, sorry).

Apparently the number 2 google search in Britain right now is “What is the EU?”

Alice Facepalm

So let me explain. The EU was an utterly unique political union of 28 sovereign nations working together to promote free trade, democracy and human rights on the European continent that spent most of its fifty year history kissing your goddamn arse. You didn’t want to be part of Schengen? You didn’t have to be part of Schengen. Didn’t want  to adopt the Charter of Fundamental Rights? No problem, rude of us to even ask. You thought a single currency was a stupid idea? Well, you were right about that one in hindsight but the rest of us didn’t force you.

You had it all, you dumb fucks. You had the best possible deal. Now if Greece says they want out? That’s understandable. But you guys? What exactly about the absurdly preferential treatment you got was not to your liking? Were the handjobs not suitably vigorous, WHAT?!

Oh you’re having second thoughts? You didn’t really think your vote would matter? You’re starting to realise that the man leading the Leave campaign is a racist, lying ferret in a man-suit?

LET ME LICK YOUR FUCKING TEARS. OH! OH! THEY TASTE SO GOOD!

(more…)

Fritz

Fritz the Cat (1972)

“Heeey everyone.”

“Heeey everyone.”

“Oh look guys, it’s Spouse of Mouse!”

“Oh look guys, it’s Spouse of Mouse!”

250px-Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001

“Heeey everyone. I was just hoping we could have a little chat before Mouse starts the review. Just us.”

“Heeey everyone. I was just hoping we could have a little chat before Mouse starts the review. Just us.”

“I know you all think it’s really funny that you got Mouse to review Fritz the Cat. I’m sure you’re all having a big laugh. “Ha” you might say, and also “Ha.”

“I know you all think it’s really funny that you got Mouse to review Fritz the Cat. I’m sure you’re all having a big laugh. “Ha” you might say, and also “Ha.”

“But here’s the thing. This movie messed him up so badly that I don’t know if he’ll ever recover. And I’m a simple mouse who lives by a simple rule. You hurt the ones I love?”

“But here’s the thing. This movie messed him up so badly that I don’t know if he’ll ever recover. And I’m a simple mouse who lives by a simple rule: You hurt the ones I love?”

"I WILL FUCK YOUR FUCKING SHIT RIGHT THE FUCK UP."

“I WILL FUCK YOUR FUCKING SHIT RIGHT THE FUCK UP. IF YOU EVER PULL ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN I WILL TRACK YOU DOWN THERE IS NOWHERE YOU CAN HIDE. PAIN? I WILL MAKE YOU LONG FOR SOMETHING AS SWEET AS PAIN.”

“’Kay? Enjoy the review.”

“’Kay? Enjoy the review.”

***

 Do you know what it’s like to review Fritz the Cat? To sit in the dark watching that cat fuck everything that moves, to feel your brain slowly coming apart from the constant assault of surreal, messed up, toked out, crazy shit? No. You don’t. Because you’ve never been out there, man. Out in the real deep shit. This movie man. You don’t know, man. It’s like, you think you have a handle on things, man, like life and art and truth and beauty man like they’re all just packaged and sold in these neat little Styrofoam boxes, man, and then this movie comes along and it’s like, you know man? Like, what does it all mean, man? I…I…I shouldn’t be doing this man, I should be a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas, man…
“Mouse, relax. You’re going crazy over there, man.”

“Mouse, relax. You’re going crazy over there, man.”

"YOU WERENT THERE MAN!"

“YOU WEREN’T THERE, MAN!”

 Sorry. Sorry. I’m alright. Okay. Let’s do this.
For as long as there have been comics there have been “underground” comics, the kind of comics that aren’t read in a newspaper at the breakfast table on a lazy Sunday morning but are more usually read at night. Under the covers. With a flashlight.
Jerkin’ it.
Pornographic comic books or “Tijuana Bibles” were especially popular in the Great Depression and usually featured well known comic book characters or public figures engaging in what scripture calls “the hard fuckin’”. No one was safe. Popeye, Betty Boop, Superman you name it, someone drew them doin’ it.
Trust me, just be glad it’s Minnie and not Pluto.

Trust me, just be glad it’s Minnie and not Pluto.

By the 1960s the underground comics (or “comix”) scene had merged with the broader counter culture movement. In contrast to mainstream comics which had to abide by the Comics Code Authority, comix were uncensored and didn’t abide by jack shit. These books were absolutely steeped in sixties drug and music culture, often politically radical and transgressive and extreme in their depictions of sex and violence. They also, it must be said, frequently had a streak of misogyny a mile wide. But at its best, the comix scene produced some of the finest American sequential art of the twentieth century (Art Spiegelman, for example, honed his craft in indie magazines in the seventies).
The one creator who is probably more associated with the comix scene than any other is Robert Crumb and his most famous creation is almost certainly Fritz the Cat, an anthropomorphised cat who’s kinda like Felix crossed with Roosh V. The Fritz strips first appeared in the magazine Help! where the editors famously responded to his submission with a letter saying; “Dear R. Crumb, we think the little pussycat drawings you sent us were just great. Question is, how do we print them without going to jail?” The comic became a genuine breakout hit and was read by many a long-haired hippie degenerate, one of whom was our old friend Ralph Bakshi.
Bakshi had set up his own animation studio and was looking to create animation for adults. He came across one of Crumb’s books and bought the rights to the strip. Warner Bros originally were going to fund it but then they saw Bakshi’s early shoots.
Vapors
Instead, the movie ended up being funded by Cinemation Industries, purveyor of such highbrow classics as The Black Godfather, Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song and The Eighteen Year Old Cheerleaders.
It’s important to remember that there was a weird period from the late sixties to around the mid-eighties where porn was pretty much mainstream, and you could just go to the cinema and watch a big budget porno made and financed by a large studio as opposed to some dude with a camera and a couch. Fritz the Cat is very much a part of that. It’s not solely a porno but it’s got relatives who are pornos if you catch me. So before we get into this review please take note that this is a movie with sex and nudity, pretty grotesque ethnic caricatures, frequent homophobic and racial slurs and some generally fucked up shit.
What I’m trying to say is…
“This review ain’t NSFW for nothin’ baby.”

“This review ain’t NSFW for nothin’ baby.”

(more…)

Those wacky Sharpson boys.

Happy Father’s Day everybody!

As some of you may know, my brothers John and Donal are both regulars on the Facts series on YouTube. For Father’s day they brought my Dad onto the show (thanks for showing me up guys, I just got him a frickin’ book) and not to brag or anything but my old man just killed it. Here’s the video.

the_avengers_final_poster_by_stephencanlas-d4xiffm

“We’re sort of like a team. “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” type thing.”

Superhero teams have been around for almost as long as there have been superhero comics, with the first, the Justice Society of America, debuting in 1940. Since then they’ve been a staple of the genre and for good reason. They give editors a place to test out new characters that can be spun off into their own books if readers take a liking to them and there’s simply more stories you can tell with a large group than you can when you’re focused on a single hero. One character’s not working out? Simply kill him off and replace him and the book carries on unaffected, much like the earth will keep turning inexorably after your inevitable death (wow, where did that come from, Mouse?). In fact, it’s pretty much a cast-iron rule that where you have superheroes, you will have superhero teams. My point is, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did many ground-breaking, ingenious and innovative things with the comic book medium during their partnership in the sixties, but inventing the Avengers was not one of them. Once they had created a certain number of superheroes, putting them all in the one book was about as inevitable as the tides. And to be honest…that kinda shows. When you read those old comics you can tell when Stan and Jack were really invested and bringing their A-game to a book (Fantastic Four, Thor, Silver Surfer) and when they were kinda phoning it in (Daredevil, X-Men and the Avengers). Even the name is half-assed. The first issue literally ends with the heroes standing around and saying “What should we call ourselves?” “The…avengers?” “Sure, let’s go with that.” Like, they literally just went with the generic place-holder superhero team name.

If the creation of the Avengers comic book was unremarkable and by-the -numbers, though, the movie was anything but. In fact, I’m pretty sure future movie historians will be looking back at this as the start of something entirely new. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen but regardless, this movie is a big effing deal. For the first time, audiences were expected to go to a movie that shared continuity, characters and plot with four separate pre-existing series of movies. This was something on a scale that the film industry had simply never seen before.

And, be honest, you kinda thought it would suck. Didn’t you?

Didn’t you?

C’mon. Be honest. You thought it was going to suck. You can say it.

"Yeah..."

“Yeah…”

"SEIZE HER!"

“SEIZE HER!”

Seriously though, the reaction to this movie was damn near euphoric but part of that just had to have been due to the fact that Marvel had even pulled it off. The fact that it was simply something you could point to and say “Yup, that’s a movie.” was in and of itself something to Marvel at (I ain’t ashamed). Four years later, though, when every studio and their mother is trying to ape Marvel’s shared universe concept, does it still hold up as anything other than a well-executed gimmick? Is it even a good movie in its own right? Does it have what noted film-maker Jackie Treehorn called the “little extras”?

 

"Story? Productions value? Feelings?"

“Story? Production values? Feelings?”

Let’s take a look.

Ad 3

(more…)