Negan Lives Review.

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I know this comic came out a few weeks ago so this isn’t a fresh review. I wasn’t able to make it to my local shop before this issue sold out but my good friend Brock was nice enough to get a copy for it and it arrived bag, board, and flat. All of the things we obsessed comic book collectors love.

The Walking Dead ended suddenly a year ago this month. The adventures continue in other formats but all has been quiet from comic books. During the pandemic and shut down, Robert Kirkman wanted to find a way to help comic stores. So every shop received the same amount of this comic as they were ordering for TWD, for free.

When the series ended it was implied that Negan is still alive and has lived in exile for many years as society rebuilt. Atoning for his sins. Too scared…

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Asterix Omnibus #2 Advanced Review.

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A review copy of the second story in this Omnibus, Asterix and the Banquet, was provided for review by NetGalley.

by René Goscinny (Author), Albert Uderzo (Illustrator). Published by Papercutz

For those that aren’t aware, Asterix is no where near as popular in America as he is in Europe. In fact, I’m in my forties and this is the first Asterix story I’ve ever read. As a life long comic book geek I’m aware of him but I would be willing to bet 95% of the country has never heard of him. Which is a shame. This was an eye opener to some of the best comic work I’ve ever read. While American readers have become familiar with British writers and 2000 AD the rest of the continent hasn’t grabbed hold across the pond. There is also an American issue of “comics are for kids”. On the one hand many…

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Middle Earth Challenge: Durin’s Bane

Middle Earth Challenge

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The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. “—Gandalf to Durin’s Bane on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm , The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring

Durin’s Bane is a Balrog. Balrogs, also known as the Valaraukar, were Maiar that were seduced and corrupted by Melkor(Morgoth) into his service. But this Balrog was named Valarauko “Demon of Might”, later named Durin’s Bane by the Dwarves. The Balrog killed King Durin VI when the Dwarves were mining for mithril deep inside Moria and awoke him.

Durin’s Bane is oddly enough a Maiar spirit which existed before the Middle Earth was created. That being said, This Balrog is the same as Gandalf and Saruman, who descended into Arda with the Valar. I believe I’ve touched base on this over the last couple of post of the Middle Earth Challenge. But the Balrog was corrupted by Morgoth in the first age of Middle Earth. Durin’s Bane fought in a number of battle notably most of the War of the Jewels tot he vary end of the battle of War of the Wrath. Where Durnin’s Bane managed to escape to the Misty Mountains. Deep, Deep underground that would be Khazad-dûm.

All through out the second age of Middle Earth, more than five thousand. Till the third age came about and the Dwarves mined to to deep in their greed for meithril. Woke the Balrog and it killed Durin VI and then his son Náin I after a number of fail attempts to the Balrog. Later the Durin’s Folk left Khazad-dûm and renamed it Moria. Now we all know the big fight be Durin’s Bane and Gandalf that started at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.

Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings

The Balrog appeared in Raph Bakshi’s Animated Lord of the Rings. Is appears as a giant Humanoid with a lion’s head and wings. Gandalf is the only one that seems to recognize it, and it does not appear until The Fellowship reaches the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.

 

Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring

The Balrog was also portrayed in Peter Jackson’s live-action film trilogy, as a giant, black creature covered in flame. Although Tolkien described it as being taller than a man but not huge, Durin’s Bane in the film is at least twenty feet tall. Rather than having a voice of any kind, when it roared, it sounded similar to an erupting volcano – the vaporous presence of heat emanating as its breath (the Balrog’s roar was created by pulling a cinderblock across a plywood board and then digitally shifting the pitch of the resulting sound.) Unlike previous adaptations, the goblins are terrified, and run as it comes closer to The Fellowship. Its weapons, rather than physical in nature, were completely comprised of flame, taking the form of a sword first and a whip second. Its own flames were its key weapon of choice against Gandalf. Their duel progress closely to how it does in the book: Gandalf shatters the Balrog’s fiery sword (using a magical shield formed around himself in conjunction with Glamdring), and then strikes bridge of Khazad-dûm, breaking it in half, and causing the Balrog to fall into the abyss. As the Balrog falls, its whip latches onto Gandalf’s legs and drags him off of the bridge.

Aside from this, the Balrog had been briefly seen in a book owned by Saruman, beforehand, as the latter taunted Gandalf telepathically of the choice of the Fellowship taking the route of Moria, implying that Saruman was aware that it had awoken and brought woe to the Dwarves there.

The Two Towers

The Balrog appears in a few flashbacks in The Two Towers. The first flashback shows the events that take place following Gandalf’s plunge into the abyss of Khazad-dûm: Gandalf hurtles down the chasm after the Balrog, recovering his sword Glamdring in midair and catching up to the Balrog. He and the Balrog attempt to kill each other as they continue to fall down the abyss, with Gandalf managing to land several blows on the Balrog while it makes constant attempts to strike at Gandalf with its fists and claws. They fall for a few minutes, until they at last crash violently into the underground lake, temporarily extinguishing the Balrog’s flames.

The second flashback shows Gandalf and the Balrog now dueling atop Mount Zirakzigil during a great storm, in which Gandalf manages to imbue his sword with electricity from a lightning strike and stabs the Balrog through the heart, mortally wounding it and causing it to fall from the peak and crash onto the mountain side, its flames extinguished.

Middle Earth Challenge: The Return of the Shadow

Middle Earth Challenge

15351In this sixth volume of The History of Middle-earth the story reaches The Lord of the Rings. In The Return of the Shadow (an abandoned title for the first volume) Christopher Tolkien describes, with full citation of the earliest notes, outline plans, and narrative drafts, the intricate evolution of The Fellowship of the Ring and the gradual emergence of the conceptions that transformed what J.R.R. Tolkien for long believed would be a far shorter book, ‘a sequel to The Hobbit’. The enlargement of Bilbo’s ‘magic ring’ into the supremely potent and dangerous Ruling Ring of the Dark Lord is traced and the precise moment is seen when, in an astonishing and unforeseen leap in the earliest narrative, a Black Rider first rode into the Shire, his significance still unknown. The character of the hobbit called Trotter (afterwards Strider or Aragorn) is developed while his indentity remains an absolute puzzle, and the suspicion only very slowly becomes certainty that he must after all be a Man. The hobbits, Frodo’s companions, undergo intricate permutations of name and personality, and other major figures appear in strange modes: a sinister Treebeard, in league with the Enemy, a ferocious and malevolent Farmer Maggot.

The story in this book ends at the point where J.R.R. Tolkien halted in the story for a long time, as the Company of the Ring, still lacking Legolas and Gimli, stood before the tomb of Balin in the Mines of Moria. The Return of the Shadow is illustrated with reproductions of the first maps and notable pages from the earliest manuscripts.

The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One

(The History of Middle-Earth #6)

by J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (Editor)

I now I would admit when I first got this book (that was in high school, so…..18-19 years ago.. ewwww), I was MASSIVELY  disappointed. At the time I was coming off LOTR and wanted more Tolkien. Not realizing what this book actually was and that was basically a history book of Middle Earth and the early drafts into LOTR. Fast forward to today, I have a much more appreciation for the book, well the series over all.

It was interesting to see the evolution of the characters, notably Aragorn! The earliest unpublished versions of LOTR, Aragorn was called Trotter rather than Strider and was a Hobbit instead of Man. The name was derived from his wooden feet. Yes… Wooden feet.. Trotter/Aragorn got them after being tortured in Mordor. There is a great deal more information of Trotter and is explained in The History of Middle-earth, volume IX, Sauron Defeated.

HobbitWhile this book & series did help with my understanding of Middle Earth and in the Challenge. They are rather boring at times, and come off as special edition Christopher Tolkien commentary of his father’s work. Dare I say almost a cash grab??? I really think where Christopher really shined was in the first age with The Great Tales. Those being The Children of Húrin in 2007, Beren and Lúthien in 2017, and The Fall of Gondolin in 2018. I really enjoyed those novels and I am glad Christopher went a head and wrote out The Fall of Gondolin.  He wasn’t originally going to do that. But at any rate, if you are a big Tolkien fan I would say you should check these works. If not, stay away from them hahaha.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring