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 Hobbits and Dwarves

 

The much awaited trailer to The Hobbit (The cinematic version of the prequel to J R R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings) is finally among us; seeming to have aroused a great deal of online interest. One viewer of the film’s trailer from Badass Digest states ” You Can Go Straight To Mordor If You Don’t Like This THE HOBBIT Trailer.” Another viewer from /Film stated “Though I first saw The Hobbit trailer almost two weeks ago, the best part of watching it again is that new Shore score. Wowzers.” Yet another vewer from Hollywood.com had this to say: “Look, I’m just scared to revisit something I love. Blame Star Wars. Blame Crystal Skull. Blame Tron.”  And his sentiment is totally understandable in the wake of the films listed. As a fan of the The book of which this film is an adaptation, I would hate to see what looks to be a promising and entertaining film turn out to be the bastardization of something I care about. I too have seen this happen with films such as “The Last Airbender”, “Disturbia”, &  “Queen of the Damned”; to name a few.

After having seen the trailer for this film I can only say that I have high hopes and expectations of this film in its entirety. Given director Peter Jackson’s previous successes with the three Lord of the Rings films, one can only hope that he presents The Hobbit on a level equal to the aforementioned films or on a level surpassing them.

The one thing I’m left with is excitement. The trailer  its viewers with the familiar through means of Gandalf, Bilbo, the other hobbits, and the Shire. We’re also presented with the not soo familiar.. cinematically speaking in the form of the dwarves, Mirkwood, and the appearance of something of a relationship between the characters of Gandalf and Galadriel. One thing for me personally that got my attention in the trailer is the dwarves singing in Bilbo’s home. The song they sing is shortened din the trailer, but it still rings familiar to me none the less.

My opinions aside, I leave you with the trailer to the film located at the bottom of this blog post. Make your own opinions, and if you like to.. let me know what you think.

The Gay Geek

The word geek can be defined as a slang term noting a person as “One who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc.” … or a person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest. From oxforddictionaries.com it’s asked “Is being a geek something to be proud of?” I personally say yes, yes it is. The site goes on to say that “a few decades ago the answer would almost certainly have been no: the word was a cruel and critical label attached to clever, but socially awkward, people: train-spotters, computer geeks, and unpopular college students. Then in the 1990s everything changed. The computer industry helped many geeks to achieve great success, and the wider perception of geeks began to shift. Being a geek was suddenly a positive thing, suggesting an admirable level of knowledge, expertise, and passion: geeks could do ‘cool stuff’. It’s now common for people to be self-proclaimed or self-confessed geeks, with geekiness no longer confined to the world of science and technology ( a music geek with an awesome vinyl collection, the kind of film that every true movie geek would give five stars). Nerds have undergone a similar change of image but to a lesser extent, with some negative terms such as boring and pathetic still commonly attached to the word”

I’m greatly inclined to agree with oxforddictionaries.com’s take on geekdom. Thanks to the computer being a thing that’s widely used worldwide and in countless homes across the globe, people who show an incredible interest in it are no longer shunned as being strange, or weird simply for their interest. These days a geek is not simply someone with technical know how and an interest in the electronic. A person can be a geek for sci-fi movies and novels, fantasy, video games, music, film in general, anime or any number of things. I myself saw the light of geekdom at an early age when I watched my first episode of Star Trek, though it was expressed even earlier with my love of Star Wars merch. As an adult I consider myself an all around geek, or the equivalent of a “jack of all trades” sort of geek. As well as being a geek, I’m gay.. and a+b equaling c would make me a gay geek.. even a gaymer as some would say.

The Sci-fi genre has seen its share of gay and or bi-sexual characters since I’ve grown up. There’s the lesbian character of Willow from TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, (TV & comics), Parthenon, aka Dan Williams from “Who Wants To Be a Superhero?”; The Sci Fi Channel, Ianto Jones from “Torchwood“; BBC America, Northstar, aka Jean-Paul Beaubier from “The Uncanny X-Men“; comics, The Midnighter, aka Lucas Trent from “The Authority“; comics, and Captain Jack Harkness from “Torchwood“; BBC America to name a few and plenty of Gay actors out there; most notable are Ian McKellen (Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and Magneto from X-Men (Film) Zachary Quinto (Sylar from Heroes and Spock from Star Trek the movie), & George Takei (Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu from the original Star Trek, Captain Sulu in an episode of Star Trek Voyager, Kaito Nakamura from TV’s Heroes). Any geek; gay, bi, or straight worth his salt could tell you who at least one of those characters is.

That all being said,the influx of gay characters in the sci-fi, comic book, fantasy, and cinematic world has also seen a rise in gay geeks in the last few years or so. You can’t go to an anime convention or Trek convention without coming across at least a small handful of gay men who share your passion for things geeky in nature. Despite this influx of awesome, the dating pool if you will, for a gay geek stills seems as small as it has ever been. Where are all the men who appreciate a well-timed Star Wars reference? Where are the men who can understand my fascination with Doctor Who…when they’re not at the cons looking resplendent in their geeky costumery? Where’s Waldo? I obviously don’t know the answer to any of those questions; otherwise I wouldn’t ask, but I wish I did.

Even if Mr. Geeky “Right” eludes me, I’m happy to know that geekdom has a foothold in the gay community and visa versa. I’m also happy that I have a community…. communities in which I am welcome as I am.