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  1. #46
    Fantastic Member KingsLeadHat's Avatar
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    I think the giving up of the heroic ideal says more about the naivete of the populace (i.e. artists in this context) than it does the heroic ideal itself. Corruption and shady politics has been around since the Sumerians! I think the idea that Watergate was the event that ushered in the age of cynicism to be a tad fatuous. If that really was the case, society must have been drugged for the previous 5000 years.

  2. #47
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goggindowner View Post
    I think the difference is that, overall, we aren't seeing the deconstruction of just the characters. We have seen the deconstruction of the entire concept of what a super hero is. And to the point the others have made, no one has really spent the time to put all those pieces back together and show the next generation that, in fact, these old ideals can still be relevant in a modern context.
    Deconstruction is about that very thing. It isn't about pulling things apart, it is about digging in, exploration of concept and character. We may be talking past each other about different things, but deconstruction has been the life blood of comics from the sixties onwards. Well except for when comics disappeared up their own proverbials in the nineties and largely didn't emerge until the 2010s.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goggindowner View Post
    Considering the state of the world, I think we need to be shown that these ideals are still viable now more than ever. Not every single title or every single character, but it needs to exist somewhere, and it needs to be put more at the center.

    We have also left the era of heroes fighting villains. Since 2006, we have had Civil War, Secret Invasion, Fear Itself, Schism, Avengers vs X-Men, Inhumans vs X-Men, Civil War 2, and now Secret Empire. All events that, in one way or another, showcased the idea of heroes fighting against heroes. In that same time period, we have seen a surge of villains being turned into anti-heroes, thinning out the pool of classic, marketable threats. Deadpool, Magneto, Dr Doom, etc.
    I think that is a little unfair. The big event books have been about these things not the mainstay of the Marvel Universe. The key deconstruction texts have been:

    Hickman on fantastic Four
    Gillen on Loki in JitM
    Aaron on Thor
    King on Vision
    Fraction on Hawkeye
    Ennis on Fury
    DeConnick on Captain Marvel
    Waid on Hulk
    Yost on Scarlet Spider
    Ellis/Wood/Bunn on Moon Knight
    Spencer on Ant-Man
    Spurrier on Cable in X-Force.

    These are modern classics in my view. These are the books I recommend. They are all deconstructions.
    Last edited by JKtheMac; 05-18-2017 at 06:00 AM.

  3. #48
    Dirt Wizard Goggindowner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    I REALLY don't see that as a good thing.

    Original Marvel first of all had lots of shifting, changing and growing for 40 years before Bendis and the post-Disassembled storylines scuttled actual growth. The ultimate universe changed, died, and shifted too much too fast. It was the ADHD version of what the traditional Marvel universe was.

    Ultimate Marvel? It had 9 mildly decent years. Between it's start in 2000 and Ultimatum in 2009. After that?? the only thing I've ever heard a positive thing about post 2009 was Miles Morales. Everything else that was new and edgy somehow turned to cannibalism and cheap deaths nobody cared about.

    9 years for an entire comic universe before it turns into a garbage fire? With only 2 real books that were open ended (Spider-man and X-men), the rest were just short mini series. The Ultimates were heraled as being pretty amazing when it started... It got two 13 issues limited series before it fell apart in Ultimate's 3... Which while spread out over 7 years, is only 2 years worth of stories...

    We're talking the longevity of Malibu or Valiant Comics. Lots of change without a solid foundation doesn't work. As DC is finding out with the rapid fire reboots...
    I think we basically agree about almost all of this.

    Marvel was at its best when the characters were developing and changing naturally. Peter Parker was aging and getting married. The X-Men were having children and training a new generation of mutants. The status quo was progressing. And then, as you say, Quesada and crew came in and all that started unraveling. They started pushing characters back to what they thought was best, never mind what anyone else thought or what kind of hurdles you had to clear to get there. progress came to a grinding halt and characters became stagnate.

    Then at the same time came Ultimate Marvel, where anything could happen. And it worked, but really it primarily worked because it didn't stand on its own. What the UU was could never have replaced the MU. It required that familiar status quo to exist so that the UU could buck those ideas and be different. It was, for the most part, way more interesting and entertaining. And then, yeah, Ultimatum killed it and all that good development just went off the rails. After that nothing was ever the same. I think some interesting stories came out after Ultimatum, but the world as a whole and the concept of the UU in general was on life support and you could feel it.

  4. #49
    Dirt Wizard Goggindowner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKtheMac View Post
    Deconstruction is about that very thing. It isn't about pulling things apart, it is about digging in, exploration of concept and character. We may be talking past each other about different things, but deconstruction has been the life blood of comics from the sixties onwards. Well except for when comics disappeared up their own proverbials in the nineties and largely didn't emerge until the 2010s.



    I think that is a little unfair. The big event books have been about these things not the mainstay of the Marvel Universe. The key deconstruction texts have been:

    Hickman on fantastic Four
    Gillen on Loki in JitM
    Aaron on Thor
    King on Vision
    Fraction on Hawkeye
    Ennis on Fury
    DeConnick on Captain Marvel
    Waid on Hulk
    Yost on Scarlet Spider
    Ellis/Wood/Bunn on Moon Knight
    Spencer on Ant-Man
    Spurrier on Cable in X-Force.

    These are modern classics in my view. These are the books I recommend. They are all deconstructions.
    I'm not necessarily talking about diving into one specific hero and seeing what makes them tick. I'm more talking about the general idea of what these characters are now.

    As for the hero v hero comments, that was really a separate topic from the deconstruction comment. Just one more way in which modern Marvel doesn't feel normal.

  5. #50
    Mighty Member phantom1592's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goggindowner View Post
    Then at the same time came Ultimate Marvel, where anything could happen. And it worked, but really it primarily worked because it didn't stand on its own. What the UU was could never have replaced the MU. It required that familiar status quo to exist so that the UU could buck those ideas and be different..
    YES!!

    It was never about 'What will Spider-man do next... it was 'Which of his villians were going to be Ultimatized next!' Ultimate Kingpin, Ultimate Venom, Ultimate Vulture... Look how much cooler and modern they are compared to the originals...

    It wasn't really unique, I'm hard pressed to think of any brand new original characters that were purely 'ultimate only' villains and such... Maybe Liz = Firestar... but that's still just a mish-mash.

    And I really did like Kitty and Peter dating. I thought that was great... but again, nothing that would have worked without the 616 groundwork laid out.

  6. #51
    Mighty Member WebLurker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    YES!!

    It was never about 'What will Spider-man do next... it was 'Which of his villians were going to be Ultimatized next!' Ultimate Kingpin, Ultimate Venom, Ultimate Vulture... Look how much cooler and modern they are compared to the originals...

    I don't know. As someone who started out with Spider-Man comics through Ultimate, I think the series managed to stand on its own without comparisons to 616 (although I did start reading them in back-issue trades, so maybe it was different during publishing). Also, for my money, what I really liked about Ultimate Spider-Man was how close it was to a lot of the classic set ups and characters.


    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    It wasn't really unique, I'm hard pressed to think of any brand new original characters that were purely 'ultimate only' villains and such... Maybe Liz = Firestar... but that's still just a mish-mash.
    Geldoff (from the Irresponsible story arc) and the unnamed Spider-Man imposter from Public Scrutiny. Also, Ultimate Scorpion and Chameleons might as well have been different characters.

    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    And I really did like Kitty and Peter dating. I thought that was great... but again, nothing that would have worked without the 616 groundwork laid out.
    Not a huge fan. I think it was handled fairly well (character-driven and all that), but I think what made it most notable was how it fell apart; it pushed the characters in a far more interesting way, esp. since on a re-read it's pretty obvious that it was never going to work out (beyond know that comics always snap back to normal).

  7. #52
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goggindowner View Post
    I'm not necessarily talking about diving into one specific hero and seeing what makes them tick. I'm more talking about the general idea of what these characters are now.

    As for the hero v hero comments, that was really a separate topic from the deconstruction comment. Just one more way in which modern Marvel doesn't feel normal.
    But I am asserting that it is easy to make vague general statements about Marvel, but if you pick up any individual comic the content is a heart felt creation. Each book is telling a creative and interesting story. It has become recieved wisdom over the last month that Marvel has somehow turned down a dead end by focusing on swapping out characters and conflict. This doesn't hold up to analysis.

    There was no editorial direction or concerted movement, it is just a number of writers all exploring their own ideas and telling the stories that they want to tell. To me the argument sounds like the polished vestige of those crying foul over diversification. The final dying cry of the passive aggressive, latching onto an argument that has had the rough edges smoothed off and doesn't sound judgmental.

  8. #53
    Mighty Member phantom1592's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKtheMac View Post
    There was no editorial direction or concerted movement, it is just a number of writers all exploring their own ideas and telling the stories that they want to tell. To me the argument sounds like the polished vestige of those crying foul over diversification. The final dying cry of the passive aggressive, latching onto an argument that has had the rough edges smoothed off and doesn't sound judgmental.
    I don't see Diversification being the issue here. Not when the complaints are stretching back a decade BEFORE race/gender/sexuality swaps became the current lightning rod.

    This is thread is more a complaint about the storytelling ideas, the push for grim and gritty and the abandonment of established continuity...

    I think one of the issues they've had wasn't so much a number of writers... it was too FEW writers. For a while there it seemed like Bendis was king of all Marvel. He had a grip on Avengers, Ultimate Spider-man, Daredevil, and a few other titles that just seemed like he was steering the entire non-mutant ship. He was a big one for not caring about continuity and just writing whatever he felt like writing. Which, to be fair is what made Ultimate Spider-man so awesome... but he had no business in 616 and it opened a floodgate of decompressed, talking heads that didn't sound like the appropriate characters, and writing for TPBs... It really changed the face and feel of the Marvel Universe... and none of that has to do with diversity.

  9. #54
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    I don't see Diversification being the issue here. Not when the complaints are stretching back a decade BEFORE race/gender/sexuality swaps became the current lightning rod.

    This is thread is more a complaint about the storytelling ideas, the push for grim and gritty and the abandonment of established continuity...

    I think one of the issues they've had wasn't so much a number of writers... it was too FEW writers. For a while there it seemed like Bendis was king of all Marvel. He had a grip on Avengers, Ultimate Spider-man, Daredevil, and a few other titles that just seemed like he was steering the entire non-mutant ship. He was a big one for not caring about continuity and just writing whatever he felt like writing. Which, to be fair is what made Ultimate Spider-man so awesome... but he had no business in 616 and it opened a floodgate of decompressed, talking heads that didn't sound like the appropriate characters, and writing for TPBs... It really changed the face and feel of the Marvel Universe... and none of that has to do with diversity.
    Funny how these kinds of general negativity threads open up whenever the previous one dies a death, continually latching onto the latest recieved wisdom. Shifting the agenda from one attack to another in a cry of "everything was better in my day".

    It is patent nonsense to suggest Marvel have had decades of stagnation. They climbed out of bankruptcy by narrowing their focus on what sold, and recently, since Axel moved to Marvel they have been the biggest success story in comics.

    To even suggest that the era Marvel actually died a death and got bought out by a toy company, who had to tighten the belts right down to how many printer cartridges they used in order to keep going was somehow their best era. It was a calamitous period. And the comics were horrid.
    Last edited by JKtheMac; 05-19-2017 at 01:20 AM.

  10. #55
    Dirt Wizard Goggindowner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKtheMac View Post
    But I am asserting that it is easy to make vague general statements about Marvel, but if you pick up any individual comic the content is a heart felt creation. Each book is telling a creative and interesting story. It has become recieved wisdom over the last month that Marvel has somehow turned down a dead end by focusing on swapping out characters and conflict. This doesn't hold up to analysis.

    There was no editorial direction or concerted movement, it is just a number of writers all exploring their own ideas and telling the stories that they want to tell. To me the argument sounds like the polished vestige of those crying foul over diversification. The final dying cry of the passive aggressive, latching onto an argument that has had the rough edges smoothed off and doesn't sound judgmental.
    Whether the stories are creative or interesting is more a matter of opinion than anything, so I don't really want to get into the back and forth of arguing for or against any particular instance.

    Let me be as clear as I can in what it is that I am saying. I'll try my best to remove the generalizations.

    For decades, starting in the 80's, comic book creators have, in general, shifted into this dissection of character story type. It was fine and good when those stories existed as their own thing or were done as homages to certain characters or concepts. Obviously Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns are the most prevalent examples. But in both cases, those stories could do what they did, be ground breaking and show us corners of these characters that we hadn't seen before, but ultimately allow the overall franchises to continue unaffected. Dark Knight Returns was a Batman story, but it wasn't an "in continuity" Batman story. It was its own little micro-universe.

    And so things went until the early 2000's when the guard changed at Marvel. Suddenly, the company line was to dive into these characters and tell stories in the same vein as Watchmen and DKR. But this time, it wasn't limited series or alternate versions. It was the in continuity story and characters. And yeah, for a good while those stories were working. Because it was a new approach to what Marvel was. Motivations were called into question. The line between heroes and villains started to blur. It was all new and interesting.

    The problem is that once Marvel had broken apart their established teams, exposed their popular characters and torn down all those walls with interesting character examinations, they then had to take all those parts and make them work together in a shared universe. The steam of the concept kind of ran out and they didn't have anywhere to go. They had grayed over their villains, they had exposed the faults of their heroes, and were left in a world of gray. What do you do, ultimately, with a world of gray? And so then the hero v hero events start rolling out. The villains start becoming ambiguous characters that readers can sympathize with. And yeah, none of that on the surface is a problem, but when you are a comic book company that has to continue to live and breath in this world you are creating, it becomes a problem. And, IMO, we are seeing the reeping of what was sown now.

    I have never taken issue with the diversity. I liked Miles Morales as Spider Man. X-23 becoming Wolverine is fine with me. Sam Wilson as Captain America is no issue, although in that case it would be better if the original guy wasn't ALSO running around calling himself Captain America.

    The biggest issue I have with what Marvel has become is how little of it draws straight lines from where these characters came from. Up until, I think, around 2004 or 2005, you could trace a character's development back to the founding of the Marvel U and when that character was brought into it. Now, the continuity is a nightmare. The MU is unrecognizable compared to anything that it has been in the majority of its history. Part of it Marvel chasing after the movie concepts and adapting to look similar. But part of it, too, is having a gray light thrown across this world and then having to write stories about it. There is no feeling of good v evil in the MU anymore. Not to me, anyway. None of the heroes trust each other and a lot of the best villains are no longer really villains.

    It just doesn't really feel like Marvel comics anymore. Which is MY burden to bare, because I'm sure their are plenty of people out there who feel like the current version IS their Marvel. I'm not arguing for going backwards, but the point of this thread was to ask when the last time Marvel had a "normal" period. For me, Marvel's normal began to come to an end around 2000, but I didn't realize it until around 2006 or 2007.

  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantom1592 View Post
    I don't see Diversification being the issue here. Not when the complaints are stretching back a decade BEFORE race/gender/sexuality swaps became the current lightning rod.

    This is thread is more a complaint about the storytelling ideas, the push for grim and gritty and the abandonment of established continuity...
    A closer look at the actual books will say that there is no push for grim and gritty as most books don't even come close to that description. And established continuity is fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by JKtheMac View Post
    Funny how these kinds of general negativity threads open up whenever the previous one dies a death, continually latching onto the latest recieved wisdom. Shifting the agenda from one attack to another in a cry of "everything was better in my day".
    Yes. As fans get older and the landscape of the MU changes, as it always does, each generation that starts hitting their 30s and 40s and so on begins to feel threatened that it isn't "their" Marvel anymore and that things need to get back to "normal." But there's never a true normal, only what a reader was used to when they started reading. If someone started reading in the '90s, that was "their" Marvel but for many older fans at the time, the company had completely gone off the rails.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goggindowner View Post
    The biggest issue I have with what Marvel has become is how little of it draws straight lines from where these characters came from. Up until, I think, around 2004 or 2005, you could trace a character's development back to the founding of the Marvel U and when that character was brought into it. Now, the continuity is a nightmare. The MU is unrecognizable compared to anything that it has been in the majority of its history. Part of it Marvel chasing after the movie concepts and adapting to look similar. But part of it, too, is having a gray light thrown across this world and then having to write stories about it. There is no feeling of good v evil in the MU anymore. Not to me, anyway. None of the heroes trust each other and a lot of the best villains are no longer really villains.
    Marvel never had a "normal period", unless you want to say it ended when Stan stopped being the primary writer. You could make a viable case for that. But as most of the people complaining on this thread were likely not even born when Stan stepped away from books like the FF and ASM, they've never known that so-called "normal" Marvel first hand to begin with.

    Continuity is not a "nightmare." Continuity has never been perfect and it only gets harder to maintain as years go on (even back when Kurt Busiek was doing his Iron Man run, Tony had no longer become IM during Vietnam - a change to his origin that wasn't explained but was just accepted that, with Vietnam now being so far in the past, Tony couldn't be shown to be that old) but the lines for these characters still connect.

    And when people complain that the comics are chasing after movie concepts, it's such an easily refuted argument, I don't know why anyone bothers to make it.

    Movie Iron Man: Tony Stark. Comic book Iron Man: Riri Williams, Victor Von Doom. Tony in a coma and only present as an A.I.

    Movie Captain America: Steve Rogers. Comic book Captain America: Hydra Cap and Sam Wilson.

    Movie Thor: Odinson. Comic book Thor: Jane Foster.

    The comics are not "chasing the movies." Are there some overall and similarities? Sure. As there should be. But it's not even close to lining up across the board.

    And "none of the heroes trust each other"? Putting aside the fact that there's been disagreements and dissension between Marvel heroes since Day 1, a look at current Marvel titles shows heroes trusting and depending on each other all the time. Secret Empire #2 is largely about heroes working together. Natasha goes rogue to deal with things her own way but no one doesn't trust her. There's never been a time at Marvel where the heroes simply just got along. There's always been acrimony and tension. It's part of why the MU was interesting - because there was real conflict. It's no different today.
    Last edited by Prof. Warren; 05-19-2017 at 06:17 AM.

  12. #57
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    I think the biggest simplification in comics is that Moore and Miller somehow did something new. That wasn't what happened at all. They were building upon what had gone before. Deconstruction is a phenomenon from sixties literary criticism. It was super cool to be a student in the early seventies with your leather jacket and a Derrida text book under one arm. And comic books started heading into the territory in the mid to late seventies. It has been argued that Hergé was deconstructing Tintin back in 1960, before the term was even coined. I believe we could probably find examples in the golden age of US comics, but the Silver Age was awash with it.

    If anything Alan Moore was railing against a new trend in comics to stop telling self reflective and challenging stories and start doing the whole "illusion of change" thing. That movement, away from telling proper dramatic stories that challenged characters went away in the nineties entirely and didn't come back for mainstream superheroes until really quite recently.

    Go and read Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, which was Moore overtly telling DC they should give up on the crazy notion of keeping the heroes the same and being slavish to continuity. That wink at the end is straight to the young and young at heart that knew comics were about crazy stories where not everything had to make sense or be set in amber. A story about editors just getting it wrong. A warning that listening to the direct market was a problem because comics should not take themselves so seriously that they kill the goose that laid the golden eggs. The old Tolkein warning that it is dangerous to ask too many questions of the stories, lest the gates be shut and the keys be lost. Just tell your story and don't overthink what it means for Batman as a concept, and how he represents darkness or any of that meaningless oversimplification that the nineties loved so much.

    While Marvel were clawing their way out of their bankruptcy they forced themselves to focus on their core characters and concepts. That process became a game of permutations and combinations of their big names. That wasn't deconstruction or undermining character, that was desperation. Right up until around 2012 events were artificially thrown together with no real concept of an ongoing narrative across continuity. Nearly everything had a reset button, or could be ignored a few months later. Even Civil War, which incidentally was probably the most successful Marvel comics have been, was designed to have a reset. The "why are we fighting" ending, but the metaplot was beginning to form. Stories started to grow out of big events as writers found them useful.

    Along the way the writers started to question the logic of stasis and meaningless permutations. They started to ask for actual changes that held, and they started to want things like Civil War to still mean something. I would contest that the big events from AvX onwards have carried a lot more meaning and had real effects. But bear in mind these big events are only AvX, Secret Wars, Civil War II and Secret Empire. Everything else has been smaller, and I would even contest CWII was smaller than it looks because many of the tie-ins were thematic in nature and not really related to the big plot.
    Last edited by JKtheMac; 05-19-2017 at 10:37 AM.

  13. #58
    Fantastic Member Gaastra's Avatar
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    The famous example is Spider-Man's "Brand New Day," which was an old-fashioned, back-to-basics run in most ways, even bringing back thought balloons. I liked it overall, but many people didn't like it because it regressed Spider-Man, literally erasing all his character development since the '80s - and that's a legitimate reaction. But it just shows that bringing a character or franchise "back to normal" can seem like the exact opposite.
    It's wasn't back to basics it was the fact that peter sold his soul in one of the dumbest stories marvel ever wrote! Oh and dr stange the world greatest dr and best at magic can't take out one lousy bullet!


    As for marvel not copying the movies tell that sandman who marvel flushed 10 years worth of history just to cash in on one of the worst Spider-Man films and make him a bad guy again. They couldn't even do that without mind controlling him by the wizard to do it! Worst part is the thing has the cure in his closet! Some friend.


    As for the dark heroes this says it best.

    "comics used to be a place we wanted to escape into--not escape from!"

    Last edited by Gaastra; 05-19-2017 at 11:26 AM.

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaastra View Post
    As for marvel not copying the movies tell that sandman who marvel flushed 10 years worth of history just to cash in on one of the worst Spider-Man films and make him a bad guy again. They couldn't even do that without mind controlling him by the wizard to do it! Worst part is the thing has the cure in his closet! Some friend.
    Was making Sandman a villain again a big deal to anyone? Personally I'd rather have him as a villain. He's one of the classic rogues. Let's keep him that way. And even now he's not flat-out evil, just a guy who traffics on the wrong side of the law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaastra View Post
    As for the dark heroes this says it best.

    "comics used to be a place we wanted to escape into--not escape from!"
    The Marvel universe has always been a darker place, right from the start.

  15. #60
    Astonishing Member JKtheMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prof. Warren View Post
    The Marvel universe has always been a darker place, right from the start.
    Indeed. Plus escapism is not supposed to be about safe fluffy clouds, it is about engaging and involving characters in grand stories with human feelings and tangible stakes. Lee wanted Marvel to be Shakespeare, Kirby wanted it to be serious science fiction and mythology. That combination is not somewhere we would want to actually live, but it is certainly where I want to spend plenty of time.
    Last edited by JKtheMac; 05-19-2017 at 11:24 AM.

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