That out of the way, well those of you nostalgic for the days where my posts covered more than one chapter, you might get your wish. Because I know you guys are damn tired of me saying this all the time, but Nothing Happens! I'm not sure which Ellanjay trope is worse, the fact they stubbornly hate suspense and refuse to allow it in their stories or the fact that after they've laid out in exhausting detail everything that's going to happen and made it clear that there will be no deviations from the plan, because like I said, they hate suspense, they still pretend like this is all in doubt. I know I probably don't have to explain how stupid this is from a story-telling perspective, but since I like the sound of my own voice/writing, I'm going to anyway.
Like I said before, people who say things about James Bond movies or Superhero movies along the lines of, "Well, duh, the good guy's going to win," completely miss the point. The fans of those films know this. We know that in a James Bond movie, there will be a colorful bad guy threatening the world, 007 will be dispatched to deal with him, he'll get a tricked-out car, which he'll use in an epic car chase, he'll get ingenious little gadgets which he'll use to defeat the colorful bad guy. On the way, he'll sex up a few ladies and it'll all end happily. We know that's the general template for every Bond film. And we know that The Avengers, both in their solo pictures and their team-ups, will successfully kick bad guy ass and we'll get a suitably epic showdown.
The key to a good Superhero/Action flick is, "Do we care?" From what I heard, the reason DC Comics is embracing the grimdark! in their movies and stubbornly refuses to allow any levity, any moments of "Yeah, this is ridiculous, but admit it: It's freaking awesome!" into their films is because they feel that their Green Lantern movie underperformed because they :gasp: allowed humor and levity in it. Even though, in all likelihood the reason Green Lantern underperformed was because the hero spent most of the movie as a smirking douche and only later started to think "Hey, there is bigger stuff at stake here than just me," and because, like the Amazing Spider-Man films, they assumed that the battle was already won; they didn't have to create a well-crafted story and develop the hero beyond the basic template or explain anything because they were going to get plenty of sequels to do so. Basic rule of writing: All writers have the big moments, the big scenes they want to write, but if you don't put in the same amount of effort to develop and flesh out the little moments, your readers aren't going to stick around to see your big moments. The same is true of movies: no matter how epic the sequels you've planned may be, they aren't going to stick around for your sequels if the current movie doesn't grab their attention.
But anyway, the thing is that you can have unrealism out the yin-yang in Superhero/Action movies. Heck, The Avengers has a guy who flies by spinning his hammer around really fast and most of us just take it in stride. But you do have to do a few things with action/superhero films.
First of all, you do have to develop the characters enough that we can believe that, "Okay, this is a guy who genuinely wants to save the world and help people and not just because if the world's destroyed, it would really interfere with his plans to score with that one chick." Because the superhero gig is a rough one, requiring the hero take a lot of physical/psychological abuse and make sacrifices on a damn near daily basis. So yeah, we need to believe this character is willing to do that and is able to withstand the costs of doing so.
Of course, the hero doesn't have to be a bland do-gooder. I know you're tired of me gushing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but you have to shake your head and admire just what they did with Tony Stark. Because he could have very easily turned out like the titular hero of the Green Lantern movie, where you spent most of your time being like, "Of the some 7 billion humans on Earth alone, this is who you thought was most worthy of almost unlimited power?" Because Ryan Reynolds's Hal Jordan, in addition to being a douche, he was also boring and bland, with almost no charm at all. You go to superhero movies to see larger-than-life characters, not the same boring ordinary a-holes you encounter on a daily basis, only with superpowers.
Tony Stark is an arrogant ass, someone you'd find infuriating to have a long-term relationship with, but the way he's written and acted by Robert Downey, Jr., he's at least charming/charismatic enough that you understand why people would want to be around this guy. For all his faults, you do believe that Tony Stark genuinely wants to make the world a better place; he may screw up at it, but you do believe that he does have a genuine desire to do the right thing. Plus, he does have some talent to back up his ego and the fact he keeps people like Pepper and Rhodey on payroll does speak well of him. For all his ego, Tony Stark is aware that he is not perfect and he needs to surround himself with people unafraid to call him out when he's being an idiot. So I can still enjoy watching him. Heck, I enjoy Tony Stark even more, ever since one of Linkara's many awesome videos reveals that the whole idea behind the creation of Iron Man was that Marvel Comics wanted to create a character their readers wouldn't like, then make their readers like him.
Okay, so my long, rambling point is that while most superhero/action films will lay things out on the table going into the epic showdown, make sure you know what's at stake, like what happens if the bad guy wins, but they don't list all that will happen in exhaustive detail, all the punches that will be thrown and just which moves the good guy will use to lay them flat. If they do lay things out, when it comes time to implement the plan, something will happen to throw everything off.
A good example of that, again from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is Ant-Man where the hero is basically commissioned to perform a heist and as such, the mentor is like "Okay, these are the systems put in place to stop you and here's how to bypass them" and lays out the plan so the viewer goes in with some idea of what to expect/what the hero's up against. But when the big heist goes down, the director has things go wrong, forcing the hero to have to think on his feet, escape the bad guy's trap, and save the world. Ant-Man isn't my favorite of the MCU solo pics (Captain America 2: the Winter Soldier is), but it satisfyingly plotted and they utilize the titular hero's powers for some interesting fight scenes, so I still enjoyed it. Even, if I was like, when I heard it was proposed, "Seriously, Ant-Man?! Nobody likes Ant-Man! Not even Ant-Man likes Ant-Man!"
The point is, there's a difference between the principle known as Chekov's Gun and Ellanjay's approach. Chekov's Gun is where the hero talks about his years as a pearl-diver in Act One, how he developed the ability to dive to great depths with little if any equipment, then later uses this skill in the climax to save the day. This is the equivalent of a James Bond movie where rather than the viewer going in with "Bad Guy will be here and do X; Hero has to fight his way past Bad Guys' mooks and defeat Bad Guy before a specific time," Ellanjay prefer a Bond movie where they just flat-out say in detail how James Bond will defeat Goldfinger and once the big scene arrives, they do not deviate from the carefully laid-out plan at all, yet they still expect us to be in suspense about it. Though wait, that may not be entirely accurate. While James Bond is really more of a male power fantasy than a character, I'm fairly certain he does actually have to do stuff to be the hero, not take a job working for the bad guy and occasionally thinking disdainful thoughts in the bad guy's direction until TurboJesus kills the bad guy for him.
Anyway, sorry for all the rambling, but again, a whole lot of nothing. Just both sides, Judd and Vicki, Lionel and WhoTheHellReallyCares aka some member of the MCC, going all "Ooh" and "Aah" at gigantic laser cross, marveling at how all their injuries have been healed, and about how none of the Bad Guy's tech can hurt them, and I'm screaming at the top of my lungs, "SHUT THE FUCK UP! STOP PRETENDING LIKE SHIT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING, LIKE THE CHARACTERS WILL RECEIVE SO MUCH AS A BRUISE, LET ALONE BE IN ACTUAL DANGER!"
I suppose y'all are cheesed that I haven't quoted anything, but like I said, there isn't anything to quote. A good example of this section's badness can be summed up by this closing bit at the end:
“Stop, rebels!” someone yelled behind them.
Judd turned, catching a glimpse of a Unity Army patrol. They rode in an uncovered vehicle, and a soldier aimed a gun at them.
Judd shielded Vicki, and Ehud put up his hands. “You guys run,” Judd whispered.
The vehicle drove closer. “Don’t you remember our promise?” Vicki said. “We stick together.”
“I’m with you two,” Ehud said.
A soldier threw a cigarette on the ground and cursed. “Let’s kill them now and get it over with.”
“You know our orders,” another said.
“Yes, but who’s going to know?” the first said. “Just three more heads to chop off later.”
A tall man bounded from the vehicle and motioned to the others. “Load them up.”
“Where are you taking us?” Judd said as he jumped into the back of the vehicle.
“To the Temple Mount,” a soldier said. “You can watch the rest of the rebels die.”
As the vehicle pulled out, Judd looked at the pulsing cross in the sky. “Come, Lord Jesus,” he whispered.
I know I am in serious danger of being arrested for overuse of the F-bomb, but really I can't say anything except, "SHUT THE FUCK UP ALL OF YOU!" When it comes to this passage. Stop acting like you're really in danger, that you're totally great martyrs! Martyrs actually suffer; you guys were captured just a few chapters ago and didn't go through shit! You're not the heirs to Bonhoeffer! You and Bonhoeffer are so far apart that not only are you unworthy to lace his shoes, you're not even worthy of cleaning the skidmarks off of his underwear! YOU SUCK!
I suppose I could quibble more about the Bad Guys' actions, because "What exactly are your orders?" Given that TurboJesus comes back in literally the next chapter, why doesn't Nicky just say, "If you see any RTCs, just kill the motherfuckers and get back to work!" It is the bottom of the ninth here; he has no reason to hold back and make a show at being all Peacey McPeace-Peace, while conducting his show trials! JUST KILL THE BASTARDS!
So like I said, next chapter, TurboJesus finally gets off his ass and shows up. But there's some talk first. I suppose I should apologize for all the profanity I'm using, but apparently there's no such thing as "Justifiable Homicide in Defense of Good Art," so I gotta do something. Besides, science backs my love of profanity, which is kind of nice. Good that for once science supports a bad habit for a change.
Judd and Vicki's section at the beginning is short. Basically it turns out that the Bad Guys really are taking them to Temple Mount like they said and there's this.
Before Judd could answer, a woman behind them spoke. “That’s where they torture us, trying to get information about rebels inside the Temple.”
The woman, who did not have the mark of the believer, told them about the battles she’d been in and how valiantly the rebels had fought, even against overwhelming odds.
Vicki looked at Judd, and he winked at her. They were thinking the same thing. God had brought them here to reach out to people before the return of Christ.
I know I've screamed this before, but Nicky? YOUR COCKAMAMIE PLAN MAKES NO CONCIEVABLE SENSE! I thought Nicky's shtick was that he knew exactly what was going to happen and follow said plan to the letter even though the plan ends with TurboJesus punting him into hellfire for all eternity. Fine. I have a lot of quibbles with that plan and I've screamed about them before, so I won't do it again. But if that's your plan, again, WHY THE HELL ARE YOU TAKING PRISONERS AND TORTURING THEM EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE MINUTES LEFT ON THE CLOCK?!
Next section is Lionel watching as Chaim talks. Chaim is basically being Token Jew, because once someone surrenders their individuality to the Collective and becomes an RTC, they lose any distinguishable personality traits and you can switch them in and out without noticing a difference.
Anyway, here's Chaim's talk where he basically says, "We take the Bible literally but not literally."
“Now many have asked what is to happen when Antichrist comes against God’s chosen people and the Son intervenes. The Bible says he will slay our enemy with a weapon that comes from his mouth. Revelation 1:16 calls it ‘a sharp two-edged sword.’ Revelation 2:16 quotes him saying that he ‘will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.’ Revelation 19:15 says that ‘from his mouth came a sharp sword, and with it he struck down the nations.’ And Revelation 19:21 says the army ‘was killed by the sharp sword that came out of the mouth of the one riding the white horse.’
“Now let me clarify. I do not believe the Son of God is going to sit on his horse in the clouds with a gigantic sword hanging from his mouth. He is not going to shake his head and slay the millions of Armageddon troops with it. This is clearly a symbolic reference, and if you are a student of the Bible, you know what is meant by a sharp, double-edged sword.
“Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God ‘is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.’ “The weapon our Lord and Messiah will use to win the battle and slay the enemy? The Word of God itself! And while the reference to it as a sword may be symbolic, I hold that the description of the result of it is literal. The Word of God is sharp and powerful enough to slay the enemy, literally tearing them asunder.”
Because I am anal retentive, I will provide links so y'all can read the full passages Chaim is quote-mining. I'm just one of those weirdos who believes that context matters.
Revelation 1 and Relevation 2 consists of John writing letters to the seven churches. And though the seven churches are seven places that actually existed at the time John was writing his letters and he probably would have intended for those places to take his advice to heart, Ellanjay feel that the literal interpretation is that he's talking about the seven ages of the church over an indeterminate period, but definitely referring to citizens of a North American landmass that he probably didn't know existed yet.
Revelation 19 is basically Bad Guys get what's coming to them, coming on the tail of Revelation 18. But we all know Ellanjay don't see all the exhortations in Revelation 18, where John says repeatedly to come out of Babylon, so much as referring to walking away from a brutal empire that crushes and enslaves the majority of its subjects, so they may toil for a privileged elite? What are you, some kind of Commie?
But anyway, Revelation 19 talks about the defeat of the Beast and the False Prophet. For the record, this is how John describes the Beast in the opening of Revelation 13:
The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”
Reading this, tell me what part of this sounds like a polyglot Romanian politician who comes to power by being all Peacey McPeace-Peace rather than the "We must defend ourselves from those savages!" like too many other historical dictators? Also, how many of my readers are, like me, going "Why the hell are we not seeing that?!" Because my major objection to Ellanjay's literalism is not just that they are selective in their use of it, but how boring they are in their use of it! Because which sounds cooler, a Romanian Polyglot or some kind of leopard-bear-lion seven-headed, ten-horned monstrosity? Yeah, it would be stupid if Nicky looked like that, but it would be so damn stupid and metal that it would become actually kind of awesome! I could see why the world would worship that Beast, but not why it would worship Nicky!
I'm thinking of Linkara's reviews of Ultimatum. Ultimatum is the embodiment of everything people hate about Big Event comics (pointless deaths put in for shock value, none of anything that happens actually means anything no matter how much the characters chest thump about it, and just being relentlessly grimdark and edgy!), but in one issue, Thor and Captain America go to Valhalla to retrieve the soul of another character, Valkyrie, and run into Hel and have to battle her army of fallen warriors, and the whole moment is so damn cool, so damn awesome, and metal that it actually gets you enjoying the story for a bit. Unfortunately it's the Only Moment of Awesome in that story and like many others, it quickly goes back to sucking, but still.
Seriously, I'll tell Ellanjay something similar to what I keep trying to tell DC Comics: embrace the over-the-top ridiculously awesome spectacle of it all! No matter what you do, there's no way you can make any of this shit actually realistic so go for broke! Give us all the visceral visual thrills and just have fun! Have Nicky be the bizarre beast mentioned! Have TurboJesus kill everybody with a big-ass sword swinging from his mouth!
Oh and in the interest of being thorough, I also looked up Hebrews 4. Not going to talk as much about it, because it lacks the awesomely trippy visuals of Revelation, but anyone want to tell them that Hebrews is one of the books that though it is labeled as one of Paul's letters, in all likelihood, he didn't write it? It was a fairly common thing in the ancient world to put someone else's name to your works in hopes of getting other people to read it.
Anyway, they sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," then Nicky pulls up in a Humvee.
A Humvee pulled up a steep slope, and someone got out. A light flashed on the man who drew his sword and raised it above his head.
“That’s gotta be Carpathia,” Sam said.
Singing stopped and everyone looked down on the showy sight. The remnant reacted strongly when Nicolae said, “If there really is a God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and if he truly has a Son worthy of facing me in combat, I shall destroy him too!”
Nicolae challenged God, daring him to come against his army. It was insane, and yet Carpathia continued. “Be prepared to advance upon Petra on my command. Leave no man, woman, or child alive. The victory is mine, says your living lord and risen king!”
Have to say that I'm shocked that Ellanjay are having the eeevil Prince of Darkness getting around in a manly gas-guzzling Humvee, instead of a smaller, more efficient and, no doubt, more effete and European vehicle.
That and when they get to the part where everyone gasps, yeah, if you can picture that scene without a lot of monocles popping, you're a liar. But can you really blame them? I mean Satan, aka the guy traditionally depicted as the ultimate evil to God's ultimate good in their literature, is proclaiming that he hates God and will beat him in battle!
That and Nicky truly is a monster! He strives to brutally crush all dissent against him and slaughter all his enemies until the blood reaches the bridle on his horses! Which we all know is completely different from Jesus's plan which is...Oh yeah, HIS PLAN IS THE EXACT SAME AS SATAN'S ONLY WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE BEING BRUTALLY SLAUGHTERED FOR BELIEVING SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT THINGS FROM YOU!
Like I've said before, the only objection RTCs have to grotesque human rights abuses/war crimes is if they're being done for the wrong reasons. So Putin running roughshod over dissenters and committing God-only-knows-what crimes against his citizens and other neighboring nations is okay, because he's doing it in the name of unfettered Free Market Capitalism, not Communism like the Soviet Union Dictators. ISIS brutally murdering people who don't subscribe to their particular beliefs about Islam is wrong, because they're killing in the name of Allah, rather than Jesus.
Though given that the Saudi monarchy is every bit as repressive and Islamic as ISIS, it may be more about "whether they inherently recognize that Murika! is Right and Just and therefore we should give them everything they want!" rather than beliefs in particular. The Saudi Monarchy gets a pass, because they do a good thorough job of kissing the American government's asses, as does Putin, but ISIS doesn't kiss up to America; hence why we are appalled by their atrocities/human rights abuses, but not Saudi Arabia's or Putin's.
Anyway, stuff starts firing and finally TurboJesus shows up:
As heaven opened, a white horse appeared. On it sat Jesus, the Messiah, Creator of the universe, Son of God.
Vicki’s eyes were riveted on her Savior—right in front of her, his eyes flashing, his head held high. He wore a white robe that stretched to his feet. On the robe were the words: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Around his chest was a golden band. In his right hand were seven stars, and his face shone like the sun. People—a crowd so big it was impossible to count—followed him on white horses.
An angel stepped forward, held out its arms, and beckoned to the birds saying, “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. Come and eat the flesh of kings, captains, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.” Then Jesus spoke with a voice that shook the earth.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end.”
I've said it many times, but aunursa or somebody who knows this series inside and out, do they ever explain why Jesus is now "Exterminate all the Brutes!" instead of saying things like "Forgive me father, for they know not what they do," as his enemies hammer nails into him?
Some of this incoherence can be traced back to the source. The followers of Jesus were Jewish and believed that he was the Messiah proclaimed by their scriptures. But anyone with a laymen's knowledge of the Talmud could point out that Jesus didn't fulfill a lot of the stuff prophesized about the Messiah. As a gentile, I freely admit that my knowledge of Judaism is lacking, so I won't try to list every messianic prophecy, but the basic template is that the Messiah would defeat the enemies of the one True God, rescue his people, restore the line of David, convert everyone to Judaism, and bring forth a new era of never-ending peace and prosperity.
How many of that stuff did Jesus actually do? And when I'm talking about Jesus, I'm strictly limiting what is actually in the New Testament writings, not the weird mythos that has emerged over the subsequent 2000 years. The obvious answer is little to none. Whatever you believe about Jesus, like him or hate him or are indifferent, he died a horrible, painful death of a common criminal, and no matter how much you may twist Old Testament scriptures that wasn't something that was prophesized about the Messiah.
So pretty much all of New Testament scriptures and subsequent apologetics consist of Christians trying desperately to make sense of all this, answer the question of "If he was the prophesized Messiah, why didn't he do the stuff he was supposed to do?" It's one of the earliest attempts at an Author's Saving Throw in literature.
The answer they came up with was that he would come again to do that stuff later, much like what the Arthurian legends say that King Arthur will return to save his people. You can quibble with it--aunursa has basically said that according to Jewish scriptures, there aren't any do-overs--but that's what the Christian mythos basically says.
So we'll go with the return for now, mostly because my larger question is that do Ellanjay ever explain why Jesus preached about forgiveness and loving thy neighbor on his first trip out, but intends to slaughter his enemies the second time around? My best theories are that either he went out of his mind from the pain he suffered on the cross and when he returns, he won't be in the mood to save anyone, or he used this whole preaching continually of God's love and reaching the least and the lost strategy on his first trip, as a means of recruiting followers. Because people struggling under the rule of a brutal empire would really be more interested in that kind of talk, rather than all this stuff about Render Unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. You have more sympathy if it's the first one, because people tend to have more compassion for a broken man than a charlatan, but like I said, I want Ellanjay's explanation if anyone can find it.
Anyway, the chapter ends with TurboJesus walking around saying a lot of "I am the Blank of the Blank who blanks the blanks" statements, while proving his love by slaughtering the shit out of them so he can torture them forever. A sampling:
Lionel wanted to reach out and thank the Lord for restoring his arm, for hearing his prayers, for saving him from his sins, for his love and justice—for everything!
When Jesus spoke his first words, Lionel glanced at the Unity Army as thousands of soldiers fell like a sea of dominoes. At first, it looked like their bodies sank into the sand, but as Lionel looked closer he noticed bodies ripping open and blood pouring out.
“I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever!” Jesus said. “And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”
Dammit! I've made so many 1984 jokes already, but there's really no escaping them. Lionel's tears are definitely gin-scented as bravely watches TurboJesus Do it to Julia!
Again, I will provide links to how it should happen, how one should respond to overwhelming tyranny. I've got it in text form and in video form for those who don't feel like reading. Again, while I'm not a fan of Alan Moore and do feel that the Wachowskis muddled the message of V for Vendetta, even I can't deny that Valerie's Letter, in both the comic and film version, still has its emotional power. Because you must never lose that inch or sell it or give it away or let someone take it from you, no matter who they claim to be. There's stuff worth dying for!
Anyway, there really isn't much more to say. Just like I said, Jesus feeling the need to proclaim that "I am this" a lot. I scoured YouTube, obsessively looking for that one Simpsons' clip I was thinking of. It was from season thirteen, the episode called "Homer the Moe." It's the part where it turns out that the Chinese have been spying on The Simpsons, watching Bart obsessively dig a hole. I remain so disheartened that I couldn't find this one clip with this dialogue between the Chinese spies:
Spy: Those inscrutable Americans. What are they up to now?
Humungous: I will stop them. I am strong. I am the great Humungous.
General: We all know you're the great Humungous.
Humungous: Well, I'm just saying.
General: Oh, you're always just saying.
I'm just saying with Jesus making all these "I am" statements, I was so waiting for someone to go "We all know you're the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Amen— the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation," and yes, my head canon for this anonymous person has him sounding like the Jewish Old Man from The Simpsons. I make no apologies, because like I said, given that I've been watching the show since it premiered when I was five, it's safe to say that I am more Simpsons quotes than man now, twisted and evil. Sorry about that last part: also watched the original Star Wars trilogy so many times that saying I enjoyed Star Wars as a kid, is somewhat like saying "I enjoyed breathing as a kid." For the record, I did see and enjoy Episode VII, but I firmly believe that there were never any prequels; don't try to convince me otherwise, because Discontinuity is a beautiful thing, dammit!