Culture Gecko 2019

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CULTURE GECKO.©2019

SDCC 2019 Reveals I Wish Were Announced

     By Ezekiel McAdams

           July 21 2019

*This article has since been edited from it's original form, to reflect the news of Comic Con. July 21 2019*    

 

  Every year, I get excited about what's going to be revealed, at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), undoubtedly, the world's largest comic con. While this year, we had news and trailers of Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU) Phase 4, Terminator: Dark Fate, which returns James Cameron (as producer only) and original stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and original John Connor, Edward Furlong, to the franchise. Even Kevin Smith is back on the revival train, hyping the return of his signature characters, Jay and Silent Bob in the aptly named, Jay and Silent Bob: Reboot

 

  Most of the announcements and reveals we get every year are pretty standard, there's panels for Marvel, Star Wars, upcoming summer blockbusters, which is why, every year, I hope for the unexpected, news or announcements of properties you wouldn't expect.  Here's what I would have liked to see.

BUCKY O' HARE

   Bucky O'Hare seemed to appear at the height of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles popularity, following other properties such as Toxic Crusaders, Biker Mice from Mars and Street Sharks.

   Bucky, however even predates the Ninja Turtles themselves. Created by Larry Hama, in 1989, while working as an editor for DC Comics.

           

   Bucky O'Hare, was an anthropomorphic green hare, from another universe, the Aninverse. Captain of the space ship, the Righteous Indignation. Bucky was brave, stalwart and a master tactician. Bucky and his crew, which included,  Jenny a cat with psychic abilities, Deadeye Duck, a curmudgeon, trigger happy gunner, Blinky, an android, Bruiser, the Berserker Baboon who acts as brunt force and security chief and finally, Willy DuWitt, a human who traveled from our universe and acted as ship's engineer. Bucky and his crew were trying to stop KOMPLEX, a rogue A.I. who commandeered the Toad Empire into a totalitarian threat.

   First introduced in the comic series, Echo of Futurepast in 1984, Bucky was then given his own animated series in 1991, Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars, which he is most remembered from. The series only lasted thirteen episodes, but has amassed a cult fan base over it's almost thirty year history.

           

  Recently, Boss Fight Studio, has released two waves of Bucky O'Hare figures, you can find out more here https://boss-fight-studio-the-store.myshopify.com/collections/bucky-ohare

   When the Guardians of the Galaxy film adaptation premiered Aug 1 2014 and was a critical and audience hit, the time for Bucky's return couldn't be more imminent. Bucky O'Hare was a mix of Star Wars, space opera, anthropomorphic animals, high stakes, ongoing story arcs and interesting, well developed characters. This is a story with an engrossing and enveloping rich tapestry, a universe populated with an assortment of heroes, villains and rogues, a world ripe for continuation. Whether it's a film, cartoon series, comic series or video game, I think it's time to see Bucky O'hare and the Aniverse return.     

EARTHWORM JIM

   Earthworm Jim, first appeared as the titular videogame for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo consoles in 1994. Created by Doug TenNapel for Shiny Entertainment it stood out by being an absurdist action platform romp populated with wild characters such as Queen Slug For A Butt, Major Mucus, Psy-Crow and Bob the Goldfish. The plot was simple, save Princess What's- Her-Name, from the clutches of her evil sister, the Queen. The series spawned a sequel and a short lived cartoon series that premiered on Kids WB in September of 1995 and lasted two seasons that totaled  twenty three episodes.

           

  While Earthworm Jim has never strayed too far from public consciousness, it had a HD remaster in 2010, it never seemed to regain its hold from the mid 90's.   

           

   Recently, Earthworm Jim has made somewhat of a resurgence, a new comic and video game. The game would help launch Intellivion's upcoming console, Amico, that plans to be out by Oct 10 2020. Not much is known so far other than TenNapel and some original team members are returning.   https://www.polygon.com/2019/5/1/18525333/new-earthworm-jim-game-platform-intellivision

 

  The comic is hoping to get crowdfunded https://earthwormjimcomic.com/ with TenNapel writing and doing the art with Katherine Garner as illustrator.

  Now, I will freely admit when it comes to this character and franchise, I'm colored with biased, I would put Earthworm Jim as pivotal creative influences in my childhood along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, the LucasArts roster of adventure games most notably The Secret of Monkey Island, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders and Sam & Max Hit The Road.

 

  While I didn't the feel the same charm with the sequel or the animated series, Earthworm Jim to me, was a fine line between this absurd world and it's menagerie of colorful characters but taken completely serious in the world it inhabited. Earthworm Jim is special, it's absurdity and whimsical nature beautifully interweaves into its action adventure genre. This is a property that could only deepen by having a live action or hopefully a CGI or motion capture feature film and another animated series iteration. I think we are ready for more Earthworm Jim!       

DINO-RIDERS

  The 80s were synonymous with fantastic toy lines such as G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and ThunderCats to name a few but there were many that were almost remembered as a dream, such as the anthropomorphic food action figures, Food Fighters or Dino-Riders.

            Dino-Riders was created by Tyco as the next big toy line, featuring a war between humans and reptilian aliens, the Rulons. battling each other on dinosaurs. Dinosaurs with guns, battle armor and lazers. The idea was classic good vs. evil trope. Humans and aliens go back in time and use dinosaurs to continue to wage their battle. The Rulons used mind control devices, called the brain box to enslave the creatures, while the human group, the Valorians, used telepathy crystals to communicate and befriend them. Questar, the leader of the Valorians, had a Diplodocus, while Krulos, the Rulon leader, had a T-Rex. 

  Sadly, the idea was not the hit the toy executives wanted but it certainly left a mark on some in the pop culture landscape.

           

   The franchise spawned a short-lived syndicated animated series of thirteen episodes in 1988, as well as a single episode released on VHS in 1990, that hoped to propel toy sales for a new wave of figures that never made it past the development stage.

           

   Dino-Riders have been mostly dormant since then, there were rumors in 2015, that Mattel, who now owns the rights had wanted to commission a feature film, but there have been no news since then.   https://www.slashfilm.com/dino-riders-movie/

           

   Dino-Riders were one of my favourite memories being a young child in the late 80s, and I find it baffling with all the adaptations of toys, comics, video games, that Dino-Riders have never made a comeback. I've always likened it to Jurassic Park meets Star Wars. An epic battle featuring dinosaurs with futuristic weapons and heavy artillery. I'm surprised it hasn't been done by Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams or Guillermo Del Toro where the idea and sensibility would fit in their collective wheelhouse.

 

  It's a great idea that would be perfect for developing as a animated series, and expanding on the world building or live action/CGI feature film.  

LANTERN CITY

   Lantern City was initially created as a proposed television series as well as a multimedia franchise. Set in the steampunk genre, it focused on the planet, Hetra, after a hundred year war with the Grey Empire, building a wall around Lantern City. A young worker, Sander Jovre, gets thrust into a rebellion when his brother in law accidentally kills a guard.   

           

   Created by Trevor Crafts and co-created by Matthew Daly and Bruce Boxleitner  the series was going to be cinematic and focus heavily on the steampunk aesthetic, unfortunately when it was shopped around every network and streaming service, including the then fledgling, Netflix, passed.

           

   Not letting rejection deter them, the trio took the idea to comic publisher Boom! Studios who published twelve issues, that can now be collected as graphic novels.

           

   I interviewed Crafts and Daley, in 2015 for The Mary Sue https://www.themarysue.com/interview-lantern-city-to-bring-steampunk-and-female-empowerment-to-comics-and-television/ and while they were still optimistic of the chances of a tv series, nothing has come to fruition since.

 

   The website  https://www.lanterncitytv.com/ is still active, but no further updates since 2016.

           

   In this age of studios, network and streaming services trying to find the next Game of Thrones, Lantern City could be a worthy successor, a cinematic world filled with politics, rebellion, intrigue, interesting, well developed characters set against a steampunk aesthetic.

CAPTAIN POWER

   Captain Power was a franchise that many heralded ahead of its time, for two reasons, it was the first television series that was designed to directly engage with the children watching by allowing their figures to correspond to sensor's in the CGI animation, but it was also the first television series to use entirely CGI created characters.

           

   Both the toy line by Mattel and the tv series, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future arrived in 1987, with the tv series premiering in syndication, Sept 20 1987. The plot was set in a post apocalyptic war zone, where men battled machines, and the machines won. There were two factions, Captain Power and his soldiers, and Lord Dredd, who had become part machine and vowed to change the world into a new world order.

           

   The series ended up being popular with adults, because of adult themes such as romance and darker themes, not typically shown in children's series. The writers for the series included  J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame and Christy Marx, creator of Jem and the Holograms. Plans for a second series were underway but with declining toy sales and low viewership, it never transpired.

   In 2015, plans were announced for a follow-up series, Captain Power: Phoenix Rising, spearheaded by original creator, Gary Goddard and husband and wife writer team, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.

  A teaser trailer was even unveiled at San Diego Comic Con in 2016. As of now, the site is still active  https://www.phoenixrising.tv/ but no new updates have been made. One of the reasons, things may have stalled, is in 2017, Goddard was accused by several actors of sexual abuse allegations  https://variety.com/2017/film/news/gary-goddard-accused-molestation-child-actors-1202646170/

           

   Captain Power was an interesting concept that I think would only improve in today's tv landscape of serialized story arcs, binging and strong developed characters. Especially if the propert wanted to reinvent itself by appearing on streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, YouTube Premium, Facebook Watch, Apple TV+,  HBO Max  or NBC Universal's untitled streaming service. It's unlikely with Disney+'s family branded mandate, they would want a darker series, if that is however, still their approach.

 

  All of these services are not only competing for subscribers but for being part of the conversation on social media and zeitgeist as Game of Thrones had become. Captain Power has always had the potential to be more, maybe in the streaming wars, it could be.     

FUTURE OF LUCASRTS AND THEIR IP'S

LucasArts was always known for two things, it's adventure games and it's Star Wars games, the company was acquired by Disney in 2012, when George Lucas sold off LucasFilm to the Walt Disney Company including the LucasArts division.

 

  Many including myself, speculated if Disney would do anything with the IP's they had acquired, which included the popular Monkey Island series, Maniac Mansion series, Sam & Max, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango  but also underappreciated gems such as Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, The Dig and Loom.

   Loom was created by Brian Moriarty, and was initially conceived as a Trilogy. Loom followed Bobbin Threadbare, a weaver, from the Guild of Weavers on Loom Island who travels the world to other searching for his missing guild that had been turned into swans. The game focused on Bobbin's identity and parentage and the various guilds that he intersected with.

 

  Loom was a unique game in LucasArt's adventure game stable, as it had no inventory but relied on spells and musical notes to progress in the game. Bobbin eventually has to stop Chaos itself, which leads to the world being divided and the game ending on a dour and incomplete note.

           

   Moriarty, after the game's release, moved on to other projects, leaving the remaining two entries, which he had titled, Forge and Fleece in limbo. The subsequent sequels would have focused on the characters, Rusty Nailbender, of the Guild of Blacksmiths and Fleece of the Guild of Shepherds trying to stop Chaos. https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2015-04-26-the-twin-tales-of-forge-looms-forgotten-and-fan-made-sequel and https://www.pcgamer.com/the-secret-history-of-lucasarts/2/. Moriarty even gave a talk at the GDC about the game and his vision, which you can watch below.

             

  

   As much as I was enamored with the Monkey Island series, and wanting sequels to Zak McKracken, Sam & Max and Full Throttle, it has always been Loom that I needed a continuation to.  It was the first fantasy, that I fell in love with. It had great world building, an interesting story and characters. Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the game, and it would be fitting to finally get the conclusion we've been waiting for.      

AMPHIBIA TOYS

   It's no secret that Amphibia has not only become one of my favourite television series of 2019, but probably in the last decade.  The only thing missing to complete my obsession is the toys. The world building by Matt Braly and team is incredible. The world is so populated with interesting characters, they lend themselves incredibly well to merchandise. Not only have we got interesting characters such as

Anne Boonchoy

Sprig

Hop Pop

Polly

the supporting characters of Amphibia and Wartwood

Mayor Toadstool

Leopold Loggle

Ivy Sundew

Captain Grime and his toad soldiers, Bog, Fens and Mire

Not to mention all the creatures that Anne and the Planter family have met along the way.

The Green and Red Mantis

Swamp Lake Serpent

Domino 2

Doom Tree

I would love to have action figures as well as playsets of Wartwood, Toad Tower, and the Planter House. I mean who wouldn't want an action figure of Bessie the Snail?