Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The New WENN Frontier

It's probably just as well I didn't have too many plans for today. It was hot, sunny, humid, and windless, as unlike September as any weather could be. I stayed up late last night to post The Little Mer-Betty on my website and didn't get up until past 9:30.

Ate a very quick breakfast while watching Moon Madness, the last item on that home-made DVD. This extremely peculiar French animated fantasy takes us to the world of famous liar Baron Munchausen. He and his odd band of mismatched friends are headed to the moon in a pirate ship, searching for the Selenites and their secret of eternal life. The Selenites are quite friendly (far more than they would be in the live-action movie later in the 80's) and even invite the Baron and his buddies to participate in their local sports competitions. When their adversaries the Green Means show up, looking for that secret, it's the Baron and his buddies to the rescue!

Ok, this is weird. Very, very weird. The animation is cheap and jerky, Munchausen and his boys barely have characterization, and there is really very little suspense until the Green Means appear in the last 20 minutes or so. Even so, this movie really does create its own odd world, especially in the impressive design of the monsters on the moon and the Selenites' home. I'm also fond of the catchy theme song for the dubbed version, "The Secret of the Selenites." This isn't easy to find nowadays, but it's worth a look if you ever run into the 80's video.

Headed out to run a few errands around 12:30. First stop was the Oaklyn Library. Thanks to the heat and humidity, they were pretty dead. I did look at the DVDs, but I mostly worked on organizing the kids' area. There were books to shelve, and all of the shelves needed at least to be looked over. I wasn't out until quarter after 1.

The House of Fun is a few blocks from the library, so I headed there after I left. They still didn't have the new Sailor Moon Season 2 DVD. I settled for one I've eyed for a while, Justice League: The New Frontier, a DC animated movie on how the Justice League may have been formed in the very paranoid mid-50's.

Made a quick run to Family Dollar for floss (I finally ran out two days ago), then went across the street to WaWa to pick up a small turkey hoagie and Frozen Vanilla Chai for lunch. I ate them at one of the picnic benches on West Clinton. There was a little too much mayo on the hoagie, and the Chai definitely wasn't as spicy as the iced version.

Viola's Deli, which had taken over the Dorias' old store, just opened today. I briefly checked them out. They were a revamped, somewhat nicer version of the Doria's, with a retro black-and-white checked floor and soft blue-gray walls. They don't have a lot right now besides drinks, a couple of shelves of food items, and deli meats, cheeses, and salads, but they are brand new. Since I already had a hoagie, I settled on a can of Diet Dr. Pepper.

Spent the rest of the hot afternoon inside, starting my next WENN fanfiction. Once Upon a Time In the Land of WENN is the big fantasy story I've been working on in my head for over a month now. The wrap-around sequence is set in the early fourth season, between "And If I Die Before I Sleep" and "Hilary's Agent." A new sponsor wants Betty to write her a fantasy show. But not just any fantasy show - one that's as big and bold as her previous "When In Rome" was, just in shorter installments.

Betty's all for it. Despite the problems with its broadcast, "When In Rome" fired her desire to put something richer and longer on the air than the typical WENN soap operas and action shows. A hopeful Scott shows up - evidently, he knows the sponsor. Victor was supposed to have been there, but as usual, he's in Washington.

Betty's frustrated. Scott is supposed to be the dark bad boy who steals and lies and only cares for himself, and Victor is supposed to be the noble stoic who goes undercover against the Evil Empire. Scott's loyalty to her and Victor's approval of his schemes and his constantly ignoring her desires, not to mention how friendly they are when Victor's around, has made her rethink her opinions on them, and light and darkness and evil....

Which leads us into the fantasy. Elizabeth Roberts is an ordinary peasant girl living in Pittsburgh Village. She's an apprentice to a gruff but kind bookmaker (Gertie). She once worked in Wennaria Castle, but left when the prince regent was found to be a fraud. She's worried that the evil King of Darkness will worm his way into Wennaria and take over.

For now, she's on her way into the dark forest to pick berries for ink. But there's evil beings lurking in that forest, creatures belonging to the all-devouring Shadow Realm...as well as one man who dwells in the shadows and wants nothing more than to come to her rescue...

I'm really excited about this. I have ideas going out of my ears. This will probably end up being another novel-length story ala The Adventures of the Crimson Blade that I did earlier in the spring. Here, I'm going to be playing with fairy tale, action, and fantasy conventions rather than swashbuckler. How excited am I? I currently have 33 mostly-full mini-notebook pages of notes I've jotted down during work for the past month and a half, and I imagine I'll come up with more this week.

I broke for Tex-Mex Bean Dip (which wound up more like soup) for dinner and Justice League: The New Frontier around 6. Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz) is a test pilot and Korean War vet who wants nothing more than to join the space race. While he tries to get off the ground, other superheroes are having bigger problems in the conformity-obsessed mid-50's. Superman tries to work with the government, but Wonder Woman is fed up with them. Batman stays outside of authority, as he always has, but starts to question just how frightening he is. The Flash drops out all together rather than join the government. Martian Manhunter, also known as police detective John Jones, is tired of trying to blend in. When a sentient island called The Center sends huge dinosaurs and starts to take over people's minds, Jordan realizes that superheroes do have a place in a brave new world of science and technology...and that thanks to a certain green ring, he can be pretty darn super, too.

I absolutely loved this. I'm not even normally a fan of the Green Lantern (Rose was always more into him), but I really got into it. Silver Age (50's-60's) comics that have fun with science and technology and get really bizarre are apparently "in" right now. I especially loved the wonderful mid-20th-century "look" of the whole thing, like it was filmed in Wildwood before half the hotels were knocked down.

Major warning - there's a reason this is rated PG-13. There's a lot of blood, some smoking, a little bad language, and a great deal of mature subject matter, including frank discussions of government paranoia and war crimes. You'll want to lead younger kids to Justice League or the older Super Friends cartoons before getting anywhere near here. For young teens onwards, especially if they're already big comic book fans, this is one of the more interesting of the DC Animated Universe movies and is highly recommended.

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