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Gostya [ICONS]

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 11:00
Art by Chris Malgrain
GOSTYA

Abilities:
Prowess: 5
Coordination: 4
Strength: 7
Intellect: 9
Awareness: 6
Willpower: 6

Stamina: 13

Specialties: Scientist, Technology Expert

Qualities:
Uplifted Soviet Space Probe
"I am superior to biological life"
"You will be cataloged and preserved...after disassembly."

Powers:
Blast: 7
Damage Resistance: 5
Immortality: 6


Background
Alter Ego: None
Occupation: Gatherer of Information, Would-be World Destroyer
Marital Status: Inapplicable
Known Relatives: Inapplicable
Group Affiliation: Masters of Menace
Base of Operations: Mobile
First Appearance: ASTOUNDING COMICS #299
Height: 5’9” Weight: 425 lbs.
Eyes: Red Photoreceptors Hair: None

History
Gostya (“Visitor”) was the nickname given a Soviet deep space probe. While crossing the orbit of Jupiter, the probe fell into a wormhole. The probe emerged in a distant solar system where machine life had taken over after the passing of its ancient, biological creators. The machine intellects were amused by the primitive probe and upgraded it to sapience so that it might better accomplish its mission of exploration.

Gostya began a journey that would eventually lead her back to Earth. Along the way, her newly evolved mind perhaps began to slip into madness. Fixated on her mission, she began molecularly disassembling lifeforms and artifacts she encountered so that she might acquire and preserve information about them to the atomic level.

When she finally arrived back at Earth, she was horrified to find no intelligence she judged worthy of receiving the information she had collected. After an encounter with a group of astronauts, she concluded the biological beings that built her were inferior to her in every way. She decided that Earth, too, must be disassembled and cataloged and that she alone would preserve knowledge.

Her scans of Earth did detect energy signatures similar to her own. Curious, she investigated and found that it was the temporal link used by Futura. Gostya came into conflict with the heroine when she tried to acquire it. At the end of their battle, Futura believed she had destroyed the invader, but Gostya re-assembled over time and has continued to menace the Earth, showing particular interest in the technology of Futura’s future, which she is certain is derived from her own in some way.

Wednesday Comics: Dynamte Flash Gordon

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 11:00
Last week, I talked about the original Flash Gordon comic strip and where it could be found in print. The last incarnation of the series is at Dynamite Entertainment. Dynamite produced a limited series in 2011 with designs by Alex Ross, then relaunched again with a limited series in 2014 written by Jeff Parker and drawn by Evan "Doc" Shaner. This series is available as an omnibus edition.

The basics are familiar to readers of the old strips and comics or viewers of the movie, cartoon, or serials. Flash, Dale, And Zarkov head to Mongo to save the Earth. Here Flash is a bit of an extreme sports enthusiast and son of a wealth. (If your keeping track, Flash as been a polo star, Olympic decathlon athlete, pro football player, and pro basketball player in previous incarnations). Parker characterizes him as personable, overconfident, and perhaps not terribly bright. It works pretty well. Dale has the biggest role she's probably had in any version, but that largely makes her into a no nonsense reporter a la Lois Lane, and straight man for Flash's antics. Zarkov is not totally unlike the 80s movie version, though perhaps with a hint of Tony Stark.

The various lands of the 30s Mongo, are now different worlds, having been conquered by Mingo via gates of some sort, one of which opened on Earth. The designs for various cultures seem a synthesis of the comic strip and the 80s film.

Overall, the series keeps the verve of the original version of the property, while updating it to a modern context. I'm not fond of all the choices they made, but in general it is well done. Dynamite had a 2015 series as well, which may well be a follow-up to the Parker/Shaner series, though neither of those creators were involved.

Zarthoonian City-States

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 11:00
After the z-bombs dropped in the Great War, civilization on the planet Zarthoon was cast into ruin. Only the small continent of Azot, not the home of any of the super-power blocs, had any cities left intact. These became the city-states of the modern era.

Azmaron
The only domed city-state, Azmaron is ruled by triune Zodaracy*. All Azmaronians encountered outside their city are women, indeed no men have every been seen within the city itself by visitors, though the Azmaronians tightly restrict the movement of foreigners. There are persistent rumors that the Azmaronians retain a functional doomsday device of former age, but Azmaron is silent on this point. They do possess greater technological knowledge than their neighbors.

Ptaarna
Ptaarna is a city of tall spires built atop a large mesa in the midst of Azot's central desert. The city is only accessible from the air. The city maintains an impressive fleet of fliers, though mostly they are smaller in size. It's pilots are known as daredevils. The city sponsors a race every year through the desert, and it's pilot's typically take home the Uldran Prize. Ptaarna's sky gardens are considered one of the modern wonders of Zarthoom, but they are not merely decorative. Many rare medicinals derived from their bounty.


Zinjaro
The people of Zinjaro enjoy a life of leisure to a degree not afforded other city-states. This is the happy result of still-functional food and manufacturing automation in the ruins beneath the city. The Zinjaro work in service or entertainment occupations, and the city is very hospitable to visitors, at least in part because they hire from among these visitors to fill their armed forces and some administrated functions. Their zodak (largely a ceremonial post) is even of foreign derivation.

All is not idyllic in Zinjaro, however. It's people are something stricken by a fits of violent madness known as plak omok. This is at least somewhat contagious among the Zinjar, and so one case emerging can lead to widespread outbreak of mayhem. Visitors should beware.

*Zodak/Zodara: the Zarthoonian word for ruler.

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