Great Wizards Who Aren’t So Great…

There’s no doubt that with the successes of books and films like Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings, wizards, witches and magical users in general are more familiar to readers of fantasy books than ever before. Being the geek that I am, now and again, the question of who might be the best, most powerful or prominent in these expansive worlds of fantasy tends to arise. That being the case, I have taken it upon myself to lay to rest that very question(In a manor that is as unbiased as is possible of me.), the question of who is the best wizard, witch, or all around magical user in general in all of the world of fantasy literature and film. I have combed through film, literature, and comic books to compile a list of individuals (In no particular order.) whose skill with the arcane arts exceeds the realms of awesome.

 

Merlin the Magician (TV’s Merlin)

This incarnation of Merlin has him as a young man who is the best friend/servant of prince-turned-king Arthur of  magic hating Camelot. Along with being a servant, he assists the court physician, Gaius in some of his duties. Merlin’s role is to along side Arthur, reunite all of the five kingdoms under the rule of Arthur and bring peace between the old religion and the new religion.

The case against him:

Though an actual historical figure.. of some sort, I’m choosing to stick to legend here. According to legend, Merlin was half human half demon, granting him the ability to wield magic and to a great extent. He’s even seen as one of the most powerful, if not thee most powerful sorcerer/wizard to have ever lived(Or not lived as the case may have it.) It is said that he had the power of prophecy, to peer into the past and future, shape-shift, the ability to speak to wild animals, to fly, the ability to conjure realistic and terrifying illusions and much much more

For being such a vastly powerful individual with knowledge of things past and things yet to come, you would think it would be a cinch to help a guy who’s already a king to unite 5 measly countries/kingdoms under one banner. Of course, in this case, you would be wrong. Most of his time is spent saving either Camelot or Arthur from facing one horrid end after another; whether it’s from an army of undieing soldiers, the usurped and tyrannical reign of Arthur’s illegitimate half-sister Morgana, or all the other people shunned, persecuted or worse due to their practice of the old religion(magic). Doing that’s a full time job in of itself, especially when the great and powerful Merlin the sorcerer is really the not soo great and not soo powerful Merlin the servant boy.

 

Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter)

Dumbledore is the headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and among the most powerful and gifted wizards in the Potterverse. He’s a kindly old man who brings to mind Santa.. if he wore long robes.  Behind those caring eyes lurks a man who can turn invisible, create objects out of thin air, read minds, shoot fire, disappearte, encase you in a sphere of water, use magic without a wand or without speech (Something not everyone in the Potterverse is capable of), and to read minds (To say the very least.) He’s pretty much the Potterverse’s equivalent of Merlin.

The case against him:
I’m sure that fans of the Harry Potter series have uttered the phrase “Where the hell is Dumbledore?”  during all the action. He seems to  conveniently find himself being away on business whenever Harry and friends are in imminent danger, have riddles with steaks of life and death to figure out, or single-handedly fight a basilisk, a giant troll, an army of spiders (Ranging from small to damn that’s big!!).

Consider if you will, Prisoner of Azkaban, where in order to save a dear friend he casually advises Hermione to use the “Time Turner” device, which lets you effortlessly go back in time and change any thing you want. The question of course is why the hell didn’t Dumbledore himself go back in time and just kill Voldemort when he was killing Harry’s parents??? He could have stopped it all from happening.. the rise to power of the wizarding world’s equivalent of the anti-christ, the death of Harry’s mother and father. So much death and bloodshed could have been avoided. Most of all, that mix of Freddy Krueger and the Avon lady who calls herself the Undersecretary of the Minister of Magic would never have had to set foot in Hogwarts. For a man who’s packing soo much power, Dumbledore surely left his A-game back at home. Hell, he couldn’t even stop himself from dieing. The kicker of course being that he knew it would happen.

 

Gandalf the White (Lord of the Rings)

Batting for the good guys of Middle-earth, Gandalf the White, formerly known as Gandalf the Grey. One of the few non-mortal sorcerers/wizards on this list, Gandalf is Maiar; a lower and less powerful form of Valar. Basically they’re all spirits, ascended beings… if you will. Gandalf is among the wisest of his people. In the Lord of the Rings series, he takes mortal form to better aid in his helping the people of Middle-earth stand against the evils of Sauron, the dark lord of Mordor. He’s an individual of great magical skill and prowess. He has the ability to create a concussive blast strong enough to knock back a whole host of enemies and kill them by simply stamping his staff to the ground. On one occasion he’s been known to go toe to toe with a Balrog.. an ancient, evil, and huge being of fire. As well as create concussive blasts, Gandalf is able to shield himself from all manor of attack, be it magical or physical. If Dumbledore is the Potterverse’s equivalent of Merlin, then surely Gandalf is such for Lord of the Rings.

The case against him:

According to the books, Gandalf is a being of extraordinary magical prowess and if that’s not enough, he’s immortal.  He also has the ability to  disappear at will, is impervious to permanent injury, can conjure and control fire, can make lightning strike down on you, has limitless knowledge of spells, potions, and sorcery. It’s almost fair to say that he has no equal.

In the films, however, we see him mostly speaking ominously whenever a Hobbit does something they know they shouldn’t be doing, and shooting light from his staff to drive back Orcs and Ring Wraiths alike. As if out of nowhere, warning, he’ll do something amazing, like fight a Balrog all on his own. The Balrog being something out of the league of all the other groups members combined.

Being that the fate of all of Middle-earth is in the balance, it seems confusing that he would limit himself to a few light shows and sword play.. no matter how much butt he may kick with a sword. In all fairness, I actually know the reason behind that, but it doesn’t stop me from being miffed when I see the film. Pick up your staff and shoot some fireballs once in a while, let some lightning hit a few Orcs or Wraiths and see if they don’t leave you alone for a bit.

 

The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull (He-Man)

The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull is known as the most powerful magic-wielder in all of Eternia (The world in which she resides.).  She’s known to be able to look into both the past and the future, teleport herself and others across great distances, create life, project images, create magical shields, the ability to fly and shape-shift as well as other things. She is most noted for granting prince Adam the powers to become He-Man, the mightiest hero of Eternia and sworn enemy of Skeletor.

The case against her:

Despite being a being of tremendous mystical abilities and knowledge, the Sorceress of Castle Grayskull employs others to do what she could easily accomplish herself. The vast strength and power that He-Man possesses are basically given to him from her, through Castle Grayskull, which would mean that she has the strength and might to do what needs to be done. Somehow she allowed herself to be captured by Skeletor (In the film Masters of the Universe. ). I fail to see how such a thing could happen, being that she is as I have stated, the most magic-wielder in all of Eternia. Skeletor, though not originally from Eternia is still an inhabitant of the planet, technically making the Sorceress his superior.. magically speaking. I just fail to see how with the powers of Castle Grayskull and her own magical powers combined, she fails to do what He-Man who has only the powers of Grayskull can do and on a daily basis.

 

Skeletor (He-Man

Skeletor is the main rival and enemy of He-Man’s in the Masters of the Universe TV show, comics and films. Basically, Skeletor is a non Eternian native with aspirations of gaining power at any means necessary. Once a man with an actual face, he’s now devoid of all facial tissue, due to an incident involving  battle against “Captain Randor” and a deflected vile of acid in the face. He is a highly-skilled sorcerer who wields one half of the “Power Sword.” He-Man has the other half, and whoever unites the two would become.. the master of the universe. (See, I got the title of the show in there.)

The case against him:

Though he manages now and again to capture He-Man in one way or another, time and time again, He-Man manages to slip through his grasp. Most of their battles end in He-Man tricking Skeletor or just all together overpowering him. Even while dueling with their swords of power, He-Man would manage to cut a rope here or there that would drop a chandelier or something on top of Skeletor, leaving him cursing He-Man and vowing revenge. As accomplished and skilled a sorcerer as he’s supposed to be, one would think he would have managed to have finished He-Man off by now. With all of the wonderful evil at his disposal, he hasn’t even managed to put much of a dent in He-Man. What’s more is that though they do clash mano a mano or in this case mano a skullo from time to time, most of the fighting is done between his subordinates and He-Man & friends. Not only does he fail to bring home the bacon on his own, but with the help of his subordinates as well; one of which is a magic user like him. So, that’s two magic users. Not to mention the fact that He-Man is secretly the less than fearsome prince Adam of Eternia. For all his might and magic, Skeletor can’t defeat a little boy.

All of these sorcerers and the Sorceress are purely awesome, but their awesomeness can’t help but be overshadowed by their sheer lack thereof. For all of their great deeds and feats, their failures and inadequacies hang around their necks like an albatross; a big giant albatross.

Thanks to Google.com for all the pictures & images I use in my blog posts.
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Of Piracy and Liberty

For more than a decade,  Wikipedia (the free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.) has spent millions of hours painstakingly building what has to be the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, Congress is considering legislation that could all but kill free and open Internet.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in December, and the powers of the Internet—web based companies that innovate and users who populate internet—joined forces to defend the idea of a free and open ’net. Some websites have even joined in blacking out in response to SOPA and PIPA. Because of all the controversy (more than 700,000 tweets and a million emails…give or take), there may no longer be the legislative desire in the House to pass it, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, one of the bill’s most vocal opponents.

Despite that fact, bills often come in pairs, and SOPA’s twin in the Senate is the Protect IP Act, or PIPA as it is commonly referred to. Both bills threaten to rip apart the very fabric of the Internet, compromise the world’s digital security and open the doors for censorship the likes of which have been most recently seen in China. While SOPA may be damaged, PIPA has yet to attract the same levels of negative attention. It’s scheduled for a Senate floor vote on Jan. 24 and could easily weasel its way through, under the radar. It’s quite clear that PIPA is the new SOPA, making it the next logical target.

It’s understandable that the entertainment industry is sick of sitting by while its films, records and software are being stolen by large-scale online file-sharing operations based overseas, known as “rogue sites.” But, in the name of “intellectual-property rights”, media companies have enlisted a bipartisan chunk of Congress to pass anti-piracy legislation weighted irrationally and unfairly in their favor. Copyright holders want to give themselves and the U.S. Department of Justice the power to block any and all websites accused of “infringement”. They seem to want to force Internet service providers to create a wall between their customers and these websites. To force banks and payment services like PayPal to cut off these websites’ money. They want the websites removed from search results and to ban people from linking to them. And all of that, without any kind of formal hearing.

That won’t stop people from infringing on copyrights. So long as there are people out there, information’ll find a way around the walls the entertainment industry wants built. That’s just the nature of information.

An alternative bill for possible consideration is  the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN, which like SOPA, also has a twin in the Senate, introduced by Senators Ron Wyden, Jerry Moran and Maria Cantwell. OPEN would place rogue sites under the purview of the International Trade Commission, which already oversees patent infringement. The ITC would be given the authority to block the flow of all money and advertising to these sites, but nothing more.

I’m not sure about you, but to me that seems ridiculous. If anything, PIPA might just cause a surge in pirating information. Tell someone they can’t do something and that’s as good a reason as any for them to do just that. And get enough people who aren’t allowed to do something and you’ve got the same thing that happened during the prohibition. Sure, I realize there’s a difference between pirating information and bootlegging information… it’s a small difference, but the comparison stands valid.

This blog post has been spawned from an amalgamation of online information. If a bill such as PIPA were to pass, who’s to say I would have been able to gather the information I’ve posted.?. Who’s to say I would have been able to post it.?.