Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Horrors Of Blood Gulch

-Do you ever wonder why we're here?
-It seems to be one of life's great mysteries.

However,today we are here to talk about Blood Gulch.
Those of you,who are familiar with the Halo-games probably know,that it's the ideal location for a game of Capture The Flag;two bases in a boxed canyon in the middle of nowhere.
But we're not here for a multiplayer-match,instead we'll take a closer look at the dark events of The Blood Gulch Chronicles in Red vs Blue.
For those of you wondering if I just decided to let my crayons fight, Red vs. Blue is a Machinima-webseries,that started in 2003.
The events of season 1-5 took place mostly in Blood Gulch,so this story-arc is known as the aforementioned Blood Gulch Chronicles.
Even though this era of the show was mostly centered on humor,some of the events bring up some real nightmare fuel,when you examine them closer and take into account some information aquired in later seasons.
The first one is the whole premise itself: Two opposing armies fight in a galactic civil war. We first learn that all of this is bogus during the Blood Gulch Chronicles,when the Blood Gulch Crew learns,that red command and blue command are the same. Since the events shift our attention towards different matters by introducing new threads for them,we know there's something wrong, but have no idea,what's really going on. When the Recollection-Saga swings by later, we learn via Agent Washington that the Reds and Blues throughout the galaxy are actually a bunch of soldiers considered to be the worst of the worst,unfit for actual military service due to different reasons, so they got put into different scenarios that may or may not be encountered by the elite Freelancers (the scenarios are stated to be possible in-universe, but some of them are highly unlikely -time travel is concidered 'scenario three'-) for training purposes;basically they are all just cannon fodder.
Then we have the matter of the AI known as OMEGA, or O'Malley,as it calls itself.
In the Halo-verse,AI's are based on actual people, created by cloning their brains and then killing them off,until their brain patterns manifest as an AI. While in Halo the process is only allowed to be done with the brains of dead people, we never hear about such restrictions in Red vs Blue.
When Curch gets team-killed by Caboose in the beginning of the show, he soon returns as a ghost,shortly after the Blues radioed command,requesting a new team-member to even out the numbers. Due to no ble soldier being available on a short notice, command 'hires' a Freelancer named Tex. We soon learn that Tex is Church's girlfriend and that Freelancers have an AI,to help them in the field. Tex arrives in Blood Gulch and dishes out some damage toward the Reds,but quickly gets killed by a grenade. She also returns as a ghost,while her AI OMEGA possesses Caboose,making him more violent. Church and Tex now also have the ability to enter people's minds or to possess them,so they get O'Malley out of Caboose's head. The rogue AI jumps into the medic Doc,turning the pacifist into the main-villain for most of the Blood Gulch Chronicles.
The most horrible thing about this is that we on multiple occasions see Doc swap between himself and the O'Malley-persona instantly,so that actually three people are having a conversation,when there is only one other person around. During those moments, we also learn that Doc is still sentient the whole time,like sitting in the backseat of a car,which means the pacifistic medic has to watch his own hands trying to murder his own associates. 
The Reds and Blues on the other hand can't just decide to make their lifes easier by knocking Doc out and putting him into a cell,since O'Malley -as mentioned before,can easily switch his host.
Let me whip out my imaginary brush and paint you a picture: Just imagine you're having a fun night at a bar with a few friends. Suddenly, your old buddy Steve starts laughing like a maniac and declares he's going to kill you all and drink wine from your skull while conquering the world. You lean in to ask if he's allright, when he suddenly grabs the back of your head and smashes your face into the table. Your friend Diane helps you up,while five other people manage to subdue Steve and tie hhim up. Suddenly,Diane begins to laugh....
I don't know about you,but I would be more than horrified...
Of course,OMEGA isn't the only artifical intelligence we meet, there are also F.I.L.S.S., the Blues' smart-tank -who gets renamed Sheila- and Lopez, the Reds' robot soldier,who's voice module is broken and only allows him to speak spanish,Andy the bomb... and Gary,a computer who sends Church back in time in an attempt to fix things. Or at least that's what Church is made to believe. 
 The problem is,whatever Church tries,he actually ends up causing every problem that happened at Blood Gulch, from the death of the Blue Commander,to his own death and many mory things that went wrong,all seems to be his fault.
When another freelancer by the name Wyoming enters the scene, Church finally recognizes,that something's wrong about Gary and figures out his real identity: GAMMA, Wyoming's AI partner.
Gamma cooked up a bunch of simulated scenarios for Church to make him feel like everything that went wrong was his fault -in the Recollection-Saga and Project Freelancer we'll come back that,when we learn why GAMMA did that. But until he learns figures out the connection between Gary and Wyoming, Church is let to believe, everything that happened to him or his friends was the result of his own actions.
Wyoming himself has another role in this whole mess: he teams up with GAMMA and OMEGA to kidnap an alien baby and use it to enslave a whole alien-species.once he is finally defeated he reveals this plan to the Blues and Tex, stating that -opposite to Church's assumption of the plan being foiled- Tex will happily let OMEGA rejoin her and finish the job,now that she knows about it . Much to Church's horror, he's right and Tex begins broadcasting to lead OMEGA back to her,despite her her earlier eagerness to kill the AI once and for all.
Church's plan to confuse OMEGA by having the whole Blood Gulch-Crew broadcasting on an open channel gets foiled by Tex,who knocks out every single one of them,once OMEGA posses them and have each and every single soldier in Bood Gulch -except for Church,who doesn't really feel any difference- declare an urge for power and conquest. It's mostly played for humor,since every character keeps traces od his original personality, but again, if you think about it,it's incredibly frightening.  Church is once more the interesting case, stating he still feels the same, but for the time being,it was just assumed tha t he's such a mean asshole,that OMEGA didn't make a difference -again,we'll return to this,once we learn more during the Recollection-Saga.
Church tasks the Reds to disable Tex' ship,so she can't get away,in case he fails to stop her, but he quickly regrets the decision to put Sarge on the job, when Andy the bomb blows up aboard the leaving shuttle,leaving Church behind in the knowledge that -since didn't specify his order or find someone more competent for the job, he basically gave the order to kill the woman he loves.This mistake seems to break his spirit for the moment,so when Tucker asks him,what they're going to do now, he replies that he doesn't care and leaves,stating that he's going home.
While he's actually just returning to the blue base,this shock to him end the Blood Gulch-Chronicles after five years of humor disguising some pretty horrible themes.

Return next time,when we move on to the Recollection-Saga,when we learn more about Church,AI's and freelancers and realise that Blood Gulch was only the beginning. 

~Kirby Out

Friday, October 23, 2015

Anouncement: Upcoming theme-month

Since I feel like being less lazy and turn more active instead,I decided to turn November into a theme-month.
Let's see if that helps :3
And since Red vs Blue recently finished it's 13th seaon, I hereby declare November 2015 to be RvB-Month.
 Cooming soon.

~Kirby Out 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

No More Unnecessary Deaths,Please

A recent  Facebook-post by my pal The Amazing Abdi got me thinking.
Sometimes, people die. It's not nice,it's not pleasing,but it's a fact.
And sometimes, our favourite fictional characters die,too. But do they have to?
Yes,sometimes they do. We may not like it, ut a constant plot-armor for everyone would make their story unsatisfying.
Hold on,I'm not trying to say,I enjoy to see the hero failing. 
But why do characters in escapist fiction have flaws? It's so we can relate to them. Could you relate to an immortal, unfailing demi-god? Well,maybe if you're an incredibly arrogant prick,but then you wouldn't need escapist fiction begin with, now would you? After all,YOU DA MAN,right? 
Why do need (or prefer ) heroes or characters,we can relate to? Because they still save worlds,defeat villains,find love or whatever the story is about - or if it's supporting character, they can help the hero in their chrisis to overcome a big obstacle preventing them from reaching their goal. Even if they don't save the world themselves, they are an important part of it and it wouldn't have been possible without them.
But they still are far from perfect, sometimes they lose and sometimes they die.
I'm a fan of superhero-stories,so I'll mostly look at them for now. There was a time,when superheroes didn't die and normally didn't fail to save their loved ones. After all,they were the hero.
But in 70's Marvel-Comics did the unthinkable: Spider-Man's longtime girlfriend Gwen Stacey died. The villain Green Goblin threw her of a bridge,Spider-Man used his web to catch her,whiplash broke her neck. She was dead.
This was a game changer,suddenly no one was save anymore. It marked the end of the silver age and made even important characters mortal ,even out of origin stories. Editorial motives aside (rumors are,part of the reason for killing Gwen off was to prevent the relationship to go to the next level, namely marriage or at least Spider-Man revealing his identity to her), this was a big shock,since it just hadn't happened before  but now since the plot-armor was off,super-villains got more menacing,more deadly,more dangerous. Other characters followed,but over the years,stories kept getting darker and sometimes characters got wasted.
During DC's Infinite Chrisis,Superboy-Prime alone kills a whole bunch of Titans,just to establish him as a villain.
Countdown killed a complete universe by a misterous plague,that mostly occured to have reason to bring Ray Palmer back (who vanished after another story gone wrong,but I'm not gonna talk about Identity Crisis today, though it will eventually get it's time).
Over the years,characters died,but every now and then,they were brought back to life by one way or another. 
And as much as I love some of them,that kind of bugs me.
Remember how I mentioned the importance of relatability in the beginning? 
How many people do you know,who came back from the dead (I'm nottalking about CPR after a short moment,but actual return long after their burial)?
Sure,I can believe,that in a world filled with super-human beings there might a magical way to raise someone from death (Like the Lazarus-Pit brought back Jason Todd), but if every other dead person is brought back,it starts feeling cheap and death start becoming just an inconvenience;sacrifices become meaningless. 
So dear writers,please think if you really told all stories you wanted to tell with a character before you let him die.
Also:please no more needless killing jusst for shock-moments. If a character dies,it should be a huge impact on everybody involved.
Spider-Man almost broke is code and came dangerously close to pounding Green Goblin to death after he lost Gwen.
Batman considered to finally take out Joker for Good after Jason died.
All of New York mourned Peter Parker's death in the Ultimate Universe (which -even though Miles Morales became his successor also got undone recently,in my opinion demeaning his sacrifice).
Another important point: if it's a hero who dies,make it important,let them go out swinging.
When The Flash perished in Crisis on Infinite Earths, he gave his life to destroy the Anti-Monitors weapon threatening all of reality.
When Supergirl died (also in Crisis On Infinite Earths) she probably did more damage to the Anti-Monitor than the whole Justice League combined up to this point,pounding him into the ground and just got taken out by one lucky antimatter blast.
In the animated show Young Justice Flash (Barry Allen) and Impulse  (Bart Allen) are circling a device to syphon off it's energy,so it won't reach critical mass and destroy the earth's magnetic field. When they are not generating enough kinetic energy to do the job,Kid Flash  (Wally West) teleports in to add his share of kinetic energy,even though his top speed is way slower than Flash's and Impulse's.This in turn makes him a catalyst for the energy,leading to him get hit by it multiple times,causing him to vanish.
Damian Wayne ignored his father's orders to stay in the Batcave,when his mother attacked Gotham City and rushed into action to help the Bat-Family and Batman Inc.,saved many lives, and finally fought a fully grown, genetically enhanced clone of himself,while his mother's troops kept shooting Arrow's at him,before he got impaled on a sword.
When Ultimate Peter Parker died, he had been previously shot when he pushed Captain America out of the way of a bullet (who then left the unconscious, bleeding teenager behind, because he's a jerk like that), and still took on the remaining five of the Sinister Six (Goblin had recently murdered Octavius,because he wanted out and just return to being a scientist),taken down Vulture,Electro,Kraven and Sandman and finally faced off against a Green Goblin,who had just absorbed The Human Torch's powers in addition to his own,was barely able to stand,but got a second wind,when Goblin threatened to kill everyone he knew and loved and beat Goblin up with a truck,before he finally succumbed to his injuries,dying peacefully with the knowledge that he saved his aunt.
THAT is how you let a hero die.
But does a death really count,if whoever died just comes back?
I'm fine with DC's Brightest Day,since there was a complete storyline dealing with a dozen heroes and villains returning from the grave after the Blackest Night,so there was actually some thought put into it -plus,not everyone stayed revived,be it due to failing their mission or by their own choice-;Barry Allen literally outrunning death to the end of time and back seems somewhat acceptable,especially since it took about two decades till us readers got reunited with him;but Ultimate Peter Parker being declared immortal due to the OZ seems cheap to me,it reduces his heroic death to a shock moment with little more consequences than a couple of broken bones -aside from traumatizing those close to him.

And here we are at the final issue:DON'T KILL JUST FOR SHOCK!
The probably biggest offender of this is -once more - DC Comics.
In their incredibly bad miniseries Cry For Justice (which also will get it's own criticism sooner or later), some JLA-members decide to get proactive due to some of them having been killed lately. Without telling much more now,I jump directly to one of the worst moments of comicbook-history (aside from Peter Parker selling his marriage to the devil...NO,I will never let that one go): A couple of bombs need to be defused,the JLA does their best to stop them,but one of the devices goes off,causing an earthquake. One of the destroyed buildings was home to Red Arrow Roy Harper. 
Like him or not,you can't deny,that Green Arrow's former sidekick had a pretty unique status in the superhero-community. Not only was he a former drug addict,who overcame his addiction with the help of his mentor (even though this fact gives a bitter irony to his original alias 'Speedy'), he also fathered a child with the assassin Cheshire, and raised the little Lee-Ann Harper as a single dad (you probably see where this is going).
When DC misinterpreted the meaning of 'character development ', they decided to turn Roy's life into a misery,not only having him lose an arm during Cry For Justice, but also his daughter.
To make it clear:in order to have Roy Harper become an addict again and give him a 'reason' to irrationally leash out at his friends,who tried to support him -and he wasn't acting like a mourning father,but like an irrational asshole-,DC decided to kill of the innocent, walking,talking ball of adorable that was Lee-Ann; just so they could throw Roy into Rise Of Arsenal,where he would get high and talk to a zombie-ghost hallucination of her.
I might sound biased,praising mortality as part of what makes characters relatable,but condemning the death of a child, since they sadly happen,too.
But this different. This is wrong. This is killing of a unique supporting character, just for shock. This is the equivalent of me pushing someone in front of a train,just to remind people to be careful at the station.
Even to someone with my lax morals,that's just wrong.

So,dear publishers,PLEASE give the idea some thought,before you kill off a character. If you do,let them go out swinging. If they do,honour their legacy,don't bring them back about a year later.
please don't kill children just for shock value.

~Kirby Out