Erstwhile Muse

May 4, 2005

From Batman to the end of the world...

God how I love the Wikipedia.

So I had it in my head tonight that I would like to start doing a little Photoshop work again, get back in the practice of using my computer for something other than City of Heroes and generalized piracy. Figuring that I wouldn't mind working a little Illustrator practice in there as well—I'm only slightly familiar with that program, and could use some more exposure to it—my original idea was to work up my own little version of the Riddler, something in the way of a tribute to Batman:The Animated Series. Why the Riddler you ask? Fucked if I know, but there he was, sneaking about the back of my of my consciousness like an obsessive compulsive John Steed, waiting to come out, so off I went to do a little research. Being familiar only with the version from the animated series—well, the animated series from the mid 90's anyway, not this seemingly hideous abberation—I wanted to find out a little more about the origins of the character and his past depictions, the horrible Jim Carrey fiasco not withstanding, even though I now know there is a precedent for it. *shudder*

Which is how I inevitably ended up at the Wikipedia, probably where I should have started in the first place. I should have known better than to assume I could find useful information on a rather obscure facet of popular culture through a regular web search and not have results inundated with the inevitable deluge of merchandising, including waaaaaaaay to many shots of Carey in that damnable green bodysuit. That damn spandex stocking was what I was trying to avoid after all, even though it appears that is the outfit in which the Riddler first appears. His appearance seems to be rather flexible between the two outfits though, the hideous green pajamas and the suit with bowler, neither seeming to have established a dominance in Batman canon, so I feel fully justified in going for the more refined, genteel look as I continue with this little project.

Now the reason that I love the Wikipedia, aside from it's general usefullness, is the fact that it is one of the few places on the internet anymore where I can allow my natural powers of perusal come into full force, the other big one being Everything². This is something I used to be able to do on a fairly regular basis, with a suitable seed word acting as a random chaos generator that Hotbot, then Google would turn into strange, illumniating journeys into the collective psyche. I find this increasingly hard to do, mostly due to the aforementioned emphasis on, and saturation of commerce. Don't believe the lies kiddies, all that web-commerce crap that inflated the stock market at the end of the 90's is still out there, and now it's been splintered and flung far and wide, to choke out truly useful information from all directions—but I digress. The Wikipedia article on the Riddler quite naturally had a link to their entry for B:TAS—yes, I'm going to start abrreviating at this point, deal with it. I took a little while to read through that, which led to Gargoyles, another animated series from that time period I was also rather fond of, and one of the last things I can remember that Disney animation studios—and I mean the actual traditional Disney studios, not Pixar—had a part in that didn't suck huge sweaty donkey balls. Then of course the massive fucktard that is otherwise known as Michael Eisner canned the lot, pretty much fucking for eternity the Disney animation tradition, and any hope that it might one day produce gloriously wonderful things like Fantasia. But I digress yet again...

One of the things that made Gargoyles particularly appealing was the rather sopisticated writing—well, sophisticated for an animated show produced for an American audience, which, given this nation's rather annoying insistence in believing that all things animated must inherently be intended for children...*grrr*. Like all truly succesful artists, espescially pop culture artists, they borrowed quite liberally from previous mythologies to populate their world, rather succesfully for the most part, which gave us a world in which the Arthurian legend intersects with the court of Oberon and Titania, as well as Norse and Aztec pantheons. Sprinkle liberally with some cyborg enhanced mercenaries, techno-magic zombie-gargoyles and genetically altered mutant abberations, fold in insidious plots by the Illumnati to taste. Tie it all together with mystical creatures from Scotland, hire lots of good voice actors—including one unfortunate bastard that I will never be able to hear and not think of Goliath, devise a pleasing visual style, then bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

Random cooking metaphors aside, the sheer amount of pre-existing influences that went into that show ensure that the Wikipedia entry is chock full o' hyperlinked goodness. Firmly ensconced in informational grazing mode at this point, my earlier Photoshop project planning set well enough on the back burner for now, I began to wind my way through the various twisting and reciprocal passageways afforded me by the links involved. One of these, discussing the Fisher King led to entries on the Holy Lance, a.k.a the Lance of Longinus, and by extension, Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is where our first brush with the world's demise resides, as well as being the third animated series to come under scrutiny. Now in the Gargoyles continuity, the Fisher King is none other than Sir Percival—not, from what I can recall, the axe-weilding gladiator clad psycho version—who also happens to be the leader of the Illuminati. The Illuminati article, itself resplendant in tasty linkages, lead of course to the Illuminatus! trilogy,and fnords not withstanding, eschatology, a topic I used to have quite a fascination with, a strange artifact of my holy roller days back in high school.

Now at the top of the entry for eschatology, there is a link to a particular book of a similar title, much in the same way that the Illuminatus! trilogy is listed at the beginning of the Illuminati article. The book, simply titled Eschatology, was written by one Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Hmmm, where have I heard that name recetly—oh that's right, he appears to be the newest Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate (Primate?)of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God, a.k.a. the Pope. I'm not sure which disturbs me more, the fact that Pope Benedict XVI has written a book discussing the end of the world and it's theological implications, or the fact that the PR department of the Holy See decided that this was a good photo to use as a promotional image for the new Pontif. I mean c'mon, that's a little creepy there with the sunken eyes and thin lipped, toothless rictus grin...

Benedictus XVI
Joseph Ratzinger

Uhhhhm, yeah...looks like someone else could stand to do a little more Photoshop work...

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