content by

Keith DeCandido

Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Ragnarok and Roll (Excerpt)

, || Cassie Zukav has always been a bit of a weirdness magnet. Strange things always happened to her, even before she came to Key West for vacation and never left. She's dealt with sea monsters and nixies and dragons, and shares her room with the ghost of an old wrecker captain, whom only she can see and hear. Now she spends her days leading scuba diving jaunts and her nights at Mayor Fred's Saloon watching the house band, 1812, rock the joint. But when 1812 takes a break, they're replaced by Jötunheim, a band everyone but Cassie loves. Their lead singer is Loki, the Norse trickster god, who is trying to bring about Ragnarok-the end of all that is. Cassie learns that she's a Dís, a fate goddess, from Odin himself, the Allfather of the Norse gods. She's the only one who can stop Loki from destroying the world. And then things get really weird...

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “The Savage Curtain”

“The Savage Curtain”
Written by Gene Roddenberry and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by Herschel Daughtery
Season 3, Episode 22
Production episode 60043-77
Original air date: March 7, 1969
Stardate: 5906.4

Captain’s log. The Enterprise is in orbit of a planet that is covered in molten lava and cannot support life—yet sensor readings are giving indications of life and a high level of civilization, which matches some legends about the world. But they can’t beam down to investigate further due to the conditions on the planet, so Kirk says that they’re moving on to their next assignment. (Why it never occurs to anyone to go down in a shuttlecraft to investigate is left as an exercise for the viewer.)

Just as they’re about to break orbit, the Enterprise is scanned so thoroughly it makes the lights dim, and then Abraham Lincoln appears on the viewer.

[There is nothing good in war except its ending.]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Holy Rewatch Batman! “King Tut’s Coup” / “Batman’s Waterloo”

“King Tut’s Coup” / “Batman’s Waterloo”
Written by Leo & Pauline Townsend and Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by James B. Clark
Season 2, Episodes 53 and 54
Production code 9755
Original air dates: March 8 and 9, 1967

The Bat-signal: At Yale University, a professor of Egyptology is talking to two students who ask about his past as the criminal King Tut. The professor sighs and with a muttered grumble about the damn school newspaper, explains his suffering from a case of amnesia and identity transference. Since it’s prompted by cranial trauma, he wears a bowler hat with heavy lining. He shows that lining to the students just as a klutzy window washer knocks three potted plants off a ledge. Two hit the students, one hits Tut, and we suddenly not only have Tut back, but he’s got two lackeys who pledge allegiance to him.

[Friends, Egyptians, henchmen, lend me your ears…]

Series: Holy Rewatch Batman!

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “Requiem for Methuselah”

“Requiem for Methuselah”
Written by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Murray Golden
Season 3, Episode 21
Production episode 60043-76
Original air date: February 14, 1969
Stardate: 5843.7

Captain’s log. The Enterprise is in the grips of an epidemic of Rigellian fever. Three crew members have died (they don’t get named, of course, so they’re not anybody important or anything…) and twenty-three more are ill. They’re in orbit of a small uninhabited planet that has tons of pure ryetalin, the only substance that can cure the fever (which makes you wonder why they don’t stock any on the ship…). Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to collect the ryetalin, but it turns out the uninhabited planet is not so uninhabited as all that. There’s an old human named Flint, who says this world is his retreat and that the landing party is trespassing. He refuses to allow them to collect ryetalin, and if they don’t leave, he’ll kill them. He’s got a big ol’ robot with a powerful ray beam (and very bad aim) at his disposal to back it up.


Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

How the MCU Changed Luke Cage from the Comics

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has done a remarkable job of adapting seven-plus decades’ worth of comics into a cohesive storyline that has encompassed more than a dozen movies and more than a hundred hours of television. Even so, they have to take a lot of stuff and condense it. The stories cherrypick various aspects of the comics and makes the best possible use of them. Sometimes this results in unexpected alterations from the comics canon—e.g., Jasper Sitwell, a fiercely loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the comics, and a Hydra mole in the MCU; or the MCU friendship between Karen Page and Frank Castle, who’ve never actually met in the comics.

While Luke Cage’s history “only” goes back to 1972, there’s still quite a bit of it, and a lot of it was put into a blender and adjusted for the MCU, both here and in Jessica Jones. Here’s a look at ten changes Netflix’s Luke Cage made to the comics characters. Spoilers for season 1 of the show ahead.


Holy Rewatch Batman! “A Piece of the Action” / “Batman’s Satisfaction”

“A Piece of the Action” / “Batman’s Satisfaction”
Written by Charles Hoffman
Directed by Oscar Rudolph
Season 2, Episodes 51 and 52
Production code 9751
Original air dates: March 1 and 2, 1967

The Bat-signal: The Green Hornet and Kato arrive at midnight at the Pink Chip Stamp Factory. The factory foreman, Colonel Gumm, is having a midnight snack of alphabet soup, which is interrupted by their arrival, and fisticuffs briefly ensue before the masked men depart. Kato questions their early departure, but the Hornet says they have what they need—this is definitely the counterfeit stamp ring they’ve been looking for, and they can wrap it up tomorrow.

In the morning, the factory’s owner, Pinky Pinkston—who has pink hair and a pink dog—calls Gordon to report the break-in by the Hornet and Kato (against Gumm’s better judgment). Gordon immediately calls Batman, interrupting Bruce, Dick, and Harriet messing with Bruce’s stamp collection. As Bruce goes to the study to answer the Bat-phone, Britt Reid, the Hornet’s secret ID, calls Wayne Manor’s main phone and speaks to Harriet. He wants to get together with Bruce while he’s in town for the newspaper publisher’s convention. Harriet sends Alfred to tell Bruce, and Bruce tells Alfred to say he’ll call Reid back.

[From a pink factory with a green intruder, we go to brick-colored stately Wayne Manor and a red Bat-phone.]

Series: Holy Rewatch Batman!

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “The Way to Eden”

“The Way to Eden”
Written by Michael Richards and Arthur Heinemann
Directed by David Alexander
Season 3, Episode 20
Production episode 60043-75
Original air date: February 21, 1969
Stardate: 5832.3

Captain’s log. The Enterprise is pursuing the Aurora, which was stolen and is heading for Romulan space. Sulu puts them in a tractor beam, but the ship resists the beam, overheating their engines. Scotty beams them out before the Aurora goes boom, and they’re all dressed in loose, exposed clothes, holding their hands up in a circle.


[“Herbert was a minor official, notorious for his rigid and limited patterns of thought.” “Well I shall try to be less rigid in my thinking.”]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “The Cloud Minders”

“The Cloud Minders”
Written by David Gerrold and Oliver Crawford and Margaret Armen
Directed by Jud Taylor
Season 3, Episode 19
Production episode 60043-74
Original air date: February 28, 1969
Stardate: 5818.4

Captain’s log. The Enterprise has arrived at Ardana at top speed to nab a shipment of zenite, which is the only substance that can cure a botanical plague on Merak II. High Advisor Plasus requests an audience in Stratos, Ardana’s cloud city—it literally floats in a cloud—but Kirk doesn’t have time to waste on diplomacy, and instead beams directly to the mine entrance. But the zenite isn’t there—however, a bunch of Troglytes are. The Troglytes are the ones who mine the zenite, and a quartet of them ambush the landing party, led by a woman named Vanna. Kirk and Spock fight back, and then Plasus and two guards beam down from Stratos and scare off the Troglytes.

Plasus explains that a group called the disruptors have been agitating. They lied and said the zenite shipment would be waiting, hoping to get valuable hostages. Plasus sends his sentinels to search for the zenite shipment and invites Kirk and Spock to Stratos.

[It’s hard to believe something which is neither seen nor felt can do so much harm.]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Holy Rewatch Batman! “Catwoman Goes to College” / “Batman Displays His Knowledge”

“Catwoman Goes to College” / “Batman Displays His Knowledge”
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross
Directed by Robert Sparr
Season 2, Episodes 49 and 50
Production code 9747
Original air dates: February 22 and 23, 1967

The Bat-signal: Catwoman, currently incarcerated at Gotham State Penitentiary (and still in costume, albeit with her prisoner number on a sticker over her heart), is brought to Warden Crichton’s office to meet with the warden and Bruce to be informed that she’s been granted parole on the condition that Bruce be her parole officer. She then declares that she owes her career as a criminal to her being a dropout, so she enrolls in Gotham City University.

Not long after she matriculates, three guys steal the life-size statue of Batman that’s on campus. Gordon wouldn’t normally bother Batman with what’s probably a prank, but given that it’s the Caped Crusader’s graven image, they call, and he answers.

[Just a second while I retrieve my beanie, my hair, my tweezers, and my notes.]

Series: Holy Rewatch Batman!

A Brief History of Luke Cage in the Comics

The early 1970s was the era of Soul Train on television and the rise of the Blaxploitation movement in the movie theatre, as well as the time of Ike & Tina Turner, Billy Preston, and Diana Ross, and a ton more. Marvel Comics, having supplanted the older DC as the most popular game in comic-book town, was trying to stay on top. With the rise of Blaxploitation, they decided to capitalize by providing a superhero who was in the same mold as Shaft and Sweetback and Super Fly and Cleopatra Jones.

And so Luke Cage, Hero for Hire debuted, the first ever comic book series to solely star a black character. Written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by George Tuska (both white guys), it showed a side of New York rarely seen in the grand battles of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, or even the street-level adventures of Spider-Man and Daredevil (this was before Frank Miller took DD to darker places). Cage’s New York was the grimy streets of Times Square, before Disney got its mitts on the place—home of prostitution and drugs and thievery and gangs, the New York that suffered a major fiscal crisis and high crime rates, the New York that was refused federal aid by President Gerald Ford, prompting the famous headline “FORD TO NEW YORK: DROP DEAD.”

It was that New York, the New York of the 1970s, that birthed Luke Cage.

[Sweet Christmas!]

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “The Lights of Zetar”

“The Lights of Zetar”
Written by Jeremy Tarcher & Shari Lewis
Directed by Herb Kenwith
Season 3, Episode 18
Production episode 60043-73
Original air date: January 31, 1969
Stardate: 5725.3

Captain’s log. The Enterprise arrives at Memory Alpha, a planetoid completely converted to being a storage library for all information regarding members of the Federation. They are providing new storage equipment, which is being supplied by Lieutenant Mira Romaine, with whom Scotty is completely smitten. Memory Alpha is Romaine’s first deep-space assignment.

Sulu detects a swirly thing in their path. Spock reads it as a storm, but it’s moving at greater than warp two, so it can’t be a natural phenomenon. Kirk raises shields and the swirly thing collides with the Enterprise. As it does so, Kirk and Sulu both lose their voice, Chekov loses his sight, Uhura’s hands are paralyzed—and Romaine is practically hypnotized by the thing.

[Well, this is an Enterprise first: Dr. McCoy, Mr. Spock, and Engineer Scott find themselves in complete agreement. Can I stand the strain?!]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Holy Rewatch Batman! “The Joker’s Last Laugh” / “The Joker’s Epitaph”

“The Joker’s Last Laugh” / “The Joker’s Epitaph”
Written by Peter Rabe and Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Directed by Oscar Rudolph
Season 2, Episodes 47 and 48
Production code 9747
Original air dates: February 15 and 16, 1967

The Bat-signal: The Gotham City bank is providing counterfeit $100 bills for withdrawal, which results in law-abiding citizens passing fake money. The bills are perfect on one side, but blank on the other. Haunted by the insanity of the crime—and Joker’s laughter, which is echoing in Gordon’s office from an indeterminate source—Gordon and O’Hara call Batman, which interrupts Dick’s economics homework, to the boy’s delight and Bruce’s chagrin. (Bruce waxes rhapsodic about how awesome the subject of economics is, a diatribe that could only come from someone independently wealthy…)

[Alert your anti-lunatic squad!]

Series: Holy Rewatch Batman!

Star Trek The Original Series: “The Mark of Gideon”

“The Mark of Gideon”
Written by George F. Slavin and Stanley Adams
Directed by Jud Taylor
Season 3, Episode 17
Production episode 60043-72
Original air date: January 17, 1969
Stardate: 5423.4

Captain’s log. The Enterprise has arrived at Gideon, a planet whose entry into the Federation has been delayed by the natives’ refusal to allow any delegations to the planet, nor any sensor surveys (which makes you wonder why they’re being considered in the first place). They’ve finally agreed to a delegation of one: the captain of the Enterprise, requested specifically.

Spock beams Kirk to coordinates provided by Gideon and relayed to Spock by Uhura. Kirk dematerializes and rematerializes on the transporter platform—but the room is empty. As is the rest of the ship. According to the viewscreen, the ship is still in orbit of Gideon, but the other 400+ people are gone. He also has a bruised arm that he doesn’t know how he got, and based on the Enterprise chronometer, he’s missing nine minutes.

[“You’re mad!” “No, we are desperate.”]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Holy Rewatch Batman! “Batman’s Anniversary” / “A Riddling Controversy”

“Batman’s Anniversary” / “A Riddling Controversy”
Written by William P. D’Angelo
Directed by James B. Clark
Season 2, Episodes 45 and 46
Production code 9745
Original air dates: February 8 and 9, 1967

The Bat-signal: Bruce is helping Dick with geometry homework involving cutting up a pie, but it’s interrupted by the Bat-phone. Gordon’s news is so bad he won’t even discuss it over the phone—or in his office. He insists they meet at the Gotham Plaza Hotel—which turns out to be a surprise anniversary party for Batman.

Mayor Linseed says that the proceeds for this luncheon will be given to Batman’s favorite charity, which is placed in a golden calf and presented on a tray. However, green gas explodes in the room, and several firefighters show up instantly to put out the nonexistent fire—it’s all a cover, of course, for the Riddler, who steals the golden calf full of money earmarked for charity and makes his escape in a fire department van.

[Let go of me, you blue-coated baboon!]

Series: Holy Rewatch Batman!

Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “Whom Gods Destroy”

“Whom Gods Destroy”
Written by Lee Erwin and Jerry Sohl
Directed by Herb Wallerstein
Season 3, Episode 16
Production episode 60043-71
Original air date: January 3, 1969
Stardate: 5718.3

Captain’s log. The Enterprise is bringing a new medicine to the insane asylum on Elba II, a planet with a poisonous atmosphere. The medicine is supposed to eliminate mental illness for all time—the last fifteen remaining mentally ill people in the entire Federation are interred on Elba.

Kirk and Spock beam down to deliver the medicine to Dr. Donald Cory, the colony governor, who is skeptical about the efficacy of the new medicine. (The beam-down procedure requires that the force field protecting the asylum be temporary lowered.) Cory brings the landing party to see Elba’s newest inmate, Garth of Izar, a former fleet captain in Starfleet, whose exploits were required reading at the Academy. Kirk considers him one of his heroes, and he’s disappointed that he’s gone all cluck cluck, gibber gibber, my old man’s a mushroom, etc..

[Letting yourself be hit on the head—and I presume you let yourself be hit on the head—is not exactly a method King Solomon would have approved.]

Series: Star Trek: The Original Series Rewatch

Holy Rewatch Batman! “Penguin is a Girl’s Best Friend” / “Penguin Sets a Trend” / “Penguin’s Disastrous End”

“Penguin is a Girl’s Best Friend” / “Penguin Sets a Trend” / “Penguin’s Disastrous End”
Written by Stanford Sherman
Directed by James B. Clark
Season 2, Episodes 42, 43, and 44
Production code 9741
Original air dates: January 26 and February 1 and 2, 1967

The Bat-signal: Batman and Robin are on their way to a lecture on crime prevention when they discover Penguin directing an armed robbery. Except it turns out he’s literally directing it—he’s actually directing a movie. The Dynamic Duo showed up and beat the crap out of the “thieves” while totally missing the camera crew that was filming the whole thing. (Those masks really need to provide better peripheral vision…)

Penguin even has a permit, which O’Hara provides, and he intends to sue the police and have Batman and Robin arrested. However, Penguin is willing to forego the suit and pressing charges if Batman and Robin are willing to sign a contract to be in his picture.

[The brave fool!]

Series: Holy Rewatch Batman!