Thursday, May 5, 2011

Monsters and Spaceships

If you are a comic book geek and hang out at the comic book shop occasionally, you're bound to get into some interesting and very geeky discussions. The geekiest I've ever been in was whether you'd want to hire Jimmie Olsen or Peter Parker as your wedding photographer. (One is likely to be transformed into a strange creature during the wedding; the other might not show up because he's been delayed fighting Dr. Octopus.)

A more recent discussion was what monster from any source of fiction has the coolest design. I had a ready answer for that, of course. Ghidorah, the three-headed monster--one of Godzilla's arch-enemies, is my first pick.

This really is an imaginative design. Ghidorah was supposed to represent the ultimate threat in monsters, so powerful that he could take on any one or two of Earth's monsters and win. His three-head, twin-tail, lightning-spitting design made him look as if he really awesome enough do just that.

It was always nice to see Ghidorah (usually controlled by invading aliens) fly down from space in his latest attempt to destroy the Earth, only to be defeated by Godzilla and one or more of Earth's home-grown monsters.

Ghidorah was in three of the movies from the original series. When the Godzilla franchise was rebooted in 1985 and reintroduced the various monsters in a new continuity, Ghidorah gets turned into Mecha-King Ghidorah after being defeated by Godzilla.

I'm torn between whether I like him better as completely organic or with a robot head/neck replacing one of the originals. Both look pretty gosh-darn cool.

Some of the other people in the discussion had some pretty good nominations of their own; the Rancor from the Star Wars universe; the one-eyed giant Centaur from The Golden Voyage of Sinbad; the Medusa from the original Clash of the Titans.

All of these are cool monsters. But though I love Ray Harryhausen's movies and special effects more than I love the Japanese monster movies, I just think the design of King Ghidorah managed to hit just the right note in awesomeness and visual imagination to jump it up to the top spot on my list.

Though I do feel some guilt in jumping any monster over Ray Harryhausen's beautiful monster designs. Oh, well, sometimes the decisions a comic book/SF geek must make can't help but be painful.

Anyway, this discussion led to a brief discussion about which space ships are coolest. For me it's a tie between Han Solo's Millennium Falcon and the USS Reliant from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.
The beat-up but still functional look of the Millennium Falcon, along with the asymmetrical placement of the cockpit and the B-17 inspired gun turrets really do give it a unique and appealing look.

The Reliant is a neat variation of the standard Star Fleet design, helped along by the fact that it plays a key role in what is still by-far the best Star Trek feature film.


  1. odd, I don't remember the Reliant in Star Trek IV... LOL

  2. Phooey, I say!!!! The Save the Whales ST movie was fun, but Wrath of Khan is indisputably the best of the lot!!!!

    It's mathematically provable.

    Bogart/Karloff Coolness rating:

    Wrath of Khan: 9.7

    Voyage Home: 8.5

  3. You hang out in a cooler comics shop than I do, Tim. I find so few fans know or care about the old stuff (e.g., Jimmy Olsen comics and Godzilla movies). I may just try to spark such a discussion in my local shop someday and see what happens. Maybe I'll be delightfully surprised.

    Among the coolest spaceships I would have to add the Eagles from SPACE: 1999 and the ships of BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA, the title craft and the Cylon ships especially.

    I'll be a naysayer on STAR TREK IV and admit I rank it lower than STAR TREK V. Yes, if forced at phaser-point, I'd rather watch Kirk, Spock and McCoy munch on "marsh melons" and sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" than watch them save the whales and perform slapstick comedy on Earth circa 1986. I wince just recalling Spock nerve pinching the guy with the ghetto blaster on the bus. That's just not Trek.

    (Speaking of things Trek, a nod to actor William Campbell, so fun and memorable in "The Squire of Gothos" and "The Trouble with Tribbles," who died last week.)

    Gary in Omaha

  4. I hadn't heard the Campbell died.

    I saw him in a Combat episode recently, talking in a Brooklyn accent. I understand that was a lot closer to his normal manner of speaking than the prissiness he exuded as the Squire of Gothos.

    I can understand disliking Star Trek IV (I llke it, but I appreciate the "it's not Trek" viewpoint), but nothing can be realistically rated below Star Trek V. That whole movie forces a non-stop cringe from start to finish.

  5. I'd rate "Generations" well below ST V and VI. but mostly because it was so disappointing overall.

  6. At least the scene where the Enterprise's saucer section crash lands was fun to watch, but overall I agree that Generations was a wasted opportunity. The only Next Generation movie I thought was good was First Contact. Insurrection and Nemesis were both embarrassingly bad.


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