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Sunday, March 31, 2024

A To Z Blogging Challenge 2024 - Villains! A Is For Abomination

Found on the Villains Wiki. Fair use.

 Just letting you know, I’m only referring to MCU, as I haven’t read the comics.

Abomination is the super villain name of Emil Blonsky, a soldier who wanted to become like the Hulk and got his way, with a super soldier serum. He is, however, mainly a villain in his first MCU appearance in The Incredible Hulk. He is the antagonist to Bruce Banner in that film, when Banner is escaping from General Ross, the real villain. Ross has appeared in a number of MCU films(played by William Hurt, now being replaced by Harrison Ford).

In Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, he appears briefly in a fight club scene. Despite his huge, monstrous appearance, he doesn’t win, but after the fight we see him with Wong, the Sorcerer Supreme, who is giving him advice for next time, and the two travel through a magic portal to the city of Kamar-Taj, Wong’s home. In fact, we see him again with Wong, who likes organising fights for him, in TV mini series She Hulk.

By She Hulk, he really isn’t a villain at all any more. In fact, he has become a humorous, quite likable character.  In that series, Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner’s cousin, who is a lawyer, can only get work with a company that specialises in defending super heroes and villains. Her employers require her to defend Blonsky in his parole hearing. She is not happy about it, because he was her cousin’s enemy at one stage, which makes it a conflict of interest, as far as she is concerned, but Bruce doesn’t mind(he’s busy heading for Sakaar, a planet where he spent some time as the Hulk) and her employers want it. When the hearing begins, it turns out Abomination/Blonsky has a female fan club cheering for him from the gallery. 

Blonsky is freed on condition he agrees not to become Abomination any more. He has an ankle bracelet to stop it, and to enable monitoring. He sets up a therapy centre on his block of land. He even helps Jennifer, who is angry and frustrated about a nasty romantic disappointment. 

Of course, he does get into trouble again when he changes to Abomination, as we would expect, but Wong helps him out and he escapes his cell to return to Kamar-Taj.

He does make some appearances in some animated shows, which I haven’t seen yet, and I believe he was also in the original comics, created by Stan Lee. 

Still, he has an arc, from villain to comedy character. What’s not to like? 

Tomorrow, B for Baba Yaga! 

Friday, March 29, 2024

A To Z Blogging Challenge Reveal 2024

 I’ve been taking part in the A to Z Blogging Challenge for several years now. Every year I think I might sit it out and every year I come up with something after all. I have a hard time doing any blogging these days, due to family commitments, looking after my mother - and this year I have had to do that for over a month, as well as my regular three to four days a week. But I’m going to give it a go.

My original plan was to write about female SF/F writers - maybe next year. This morning I came up with another topic: villains! Fictional villains, of course. I really don’t want to get into arguments about real world nasties. It will be a mish mash - books, comics, films, mythology…whatever I’m in the mood for. I hope you will enjoy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Just Been To See…Dune 2


Poster. Fair use.

I’ve just been to see Dune 2. I was impressed with the first film, which was pretty faithful to the novel, though it ended, not on a cliffhanger but with “Let’s all go to the Fremen sietch!”

Have you read the novel? It took me quite a while to finish it, but I did, and consider it a classic piece of world building. I even got my copy signed by the author when he was in Melbourne after a convention in another state. We all went to Space Age Books (long gone, alas!) for a chat and some signing, crowding around his table and asking questions. I asked him if he was researching while writing or did all the research work first. I happen to be a pantser, myself, so not an unreasonable question. He said firmly that he had not written a word till he did all the other stuff. Which is probably why the world building is so good. Someone else asked who, if he was casting a film, he would choose for the role of Duke Leto Atreides, the hero’s father. He said Sean Connery, so now we know!

In case you aren’t familiar with this story, Dune is the first in a science fiction series. I’ve only read the first book. 

There is a huge Empire ruled by an Emperor and there are a number of planets ruled by Dukes. One of them, Leto Atreides, is ordered to leave his home world of Caladan and take over Arrakis, a desert world which has only one resource, but one vital for spaceflight, the spice, which is produced by the giant sand worms and doesn’t exist anywhere else. In the novel, it’s for the navigators, who don’t even look human any more, but that doesn’t happen in the films. However, for this reason, anyone who controls the spice is fabulously wealthy. It has, until recently, been controlled by the villain, Baron Harkonnen. But the Emperor has no interest in making the Atreides family rich. Not long after the family’s arrival, Leto is killed and his partner Lady Jessica and son Paul are on the run.

The local tribe, the Fremen, have learned to live with the desert. It’s so dry, if someone spits at you, it’s a compliment as they are sharing their body’s water. People who die are drained of their water, which goes into a massive pool. Paul and Jessica take refuge with them, and Paul is considered their messiah. 

The first film only went as far as the walk to the Fremen home, their “sietch”. The second picks up soon after and goes to the end of the novel, though some things are changed. For one thing, Chani, Paul’s Fremen girlfriend, is a lot tougher than in the book. I admit it has been a long time since I read the novel, but the film worked for me, and I accepted the producers’ explanation of the reasons for the changes. I can’t say more  without spoilers. It does end more or less where the novel did, though Chani’s reaction is…different.

It’s visually stunning and I will be very surprised if it doesn’t win some Oscars next year. The costuming is also beautiful. Hans Zimmer’s music fits in with the massive action scenes so well!

Of course, you do have to have seen the first film to be able to follow this one, but why wouldn’t you?

The film is well cast, but for anyone who has seen some Marvel and DC films it’s even more fun.

This film starts with Princess Irulan, the Emperor’s daughter, played by Florence Pugh, whom you may remember as Yelena Belova(in Black Widow and Hawkeye). Chani was played by Zendaya(Spider-Man’s girlfriend). Duke Leto was played by Oscar Isaac, who was so brilliant in Moon Knight. Jason Momoa(Aquaman and Game Of Thrones) and Josh Brolin(villain Thanos) as Duke Leto’s men Duncan Idaho and Gurney Halleck, he of the baliset instrument - Patrick Stewart played that role in the 1980s film. I first saw Josh Brolin as a teenager in The Goonies, one of my favourite films. The evil Baron Harkonnen was played by Stellan Skarsgard, whom you may have seen as Jane Foster’s mentor, Erik Selvig, in the Avengers movies. His sidekick, “Beast” Rabban, was a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy(Drax), Dave Bautista.

Of course, if you aren’t into superhero movies this may mean nothing to you, but the actors were excellent anyway. Timothee Chalamet hasn’t done a superhero movie, but I saw him as Henry V in The King, a film loosely based on Shakespeare - very loosely, as Falstaff is shown as a strong fighter and supporter of Henry. Also, he did Laurie in Little Women.

I have bought Dune 1 and will get this one too, as soon as available. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Just Finished Reading… Of Judgement Fallen by Steven Veerapen. Edinburgh: Polygon, 2023


This is the sequel to Of Blood Descended, in what I am guessing is the second of a duology, so… probably no more Anthony Blanke mysteries. Which would be a shame, but understandable as the hero works for Cardinal Wolsey and we know what happened to him, don’t we? A few years after the setting of this novel (1523), but there was plenty going on in the meantime. The afterword implies that he might write another one, but only “might”.

I have reviewed the first novel here: , but to give it a basic outline, the hero, a (fictional) son of historical figure John Blanke, one of Henry VIII’s “trumpets” - the musicians who used to do the fanfares at tournaments and feasts - is also a trumpet, but has resigned from Wolsey’s service, making his living as a music teacher. That’s until he’s called in to take part in a masque, to play as the Black Knight and, incidentally, dance with Anne Boleyn, who is not yet the king’s favourite.

A dead body turns up on the lawns of Wolsey’s palace the day he arrives. After he solves the mystery, he is persuaded to return to the Cardinal’s service by his friends Mark, a fellow trumpet, and Harry, who works for one of the Cardinal’s men. (Both appear in this novel and help Anthony.)

The current novel starts soon after. Again, a dead body turns up in Wolsey’s palace in the first couple of scenes, this time in the waiting room. The dead man was no friend of Wolsey’s, but the Cardinal didn’t kill him or order him killed. Once again, Wolsey  wants Anthony to find the killer, as he did so well in the last book. And he really has to do this, because he’s the top suspect in the case, as well as for other killings, and if he doesn’t find the real killer by Wednesday, about three days away, he is likely to be arrested and executed. Wolsey knows he is innocent, but his hands are tied. He does give him the chance to work with Thomas More on the case, but that doesn’t work out.

Of course, there isn’t a lot of time for our hero to play his trumpet; that tends to be the case with most amateur sleuths in whodunnits. 


I have to admit, there is a twist at the end; I wouldn’t have guessed whodunnit, but the author doesn’t cheat; if you read all the clues, carefully, you can probably work it out, as you would expect of a good murder mystery. 

The characters are believable and Mark, especially, is very likeable. I’d want a friend like him to help me if I was in trouble.

I do hope the author manages to squeeze in at least a couple more novels before Cardinal Wolsey gets into trouble with the king! Meanwhile, he does have another series, set in the time of Elizabeth I, so I’m going to look those up.

These two are available in both print and ebook from your favourite booksellers.