Hey Kids, Comics! #65 - Comics That Go Bump in the Night

The groan of a creaking door and a wicked laugh are punctuated by peals of thunder as your hosts brave the dark, the macabre, and the down right scary world of horror and suspense comics.  Do you dare to ply your way through the Gothic crypts, gloomy chambers, haunted houses, ancient labyrinths, and  fog-shrouded graveyards to be found in the pages of both pre-Code and contemporary comics?   

Join Andrew “Phantom of the Catacombs” Farmer and Cole “The Cackling Creeper” Houston as they delve into the frightful corners of graphic fiction.  But they are not having to go it alone!  Colleen "Queen of the Night" Medina joins this journey into mystery.  Just imagine them with the lights turned off and flashlights shining under their chins to set the mood for this look at the creepy, crawly, spooky, and scary.

Special thanks to Bobby Blakey for the incredible "spooky" flavor art for this issue! 

JCU Sunday Funnies #29

Want to see Bobby Blakey's art and his own humor including the newly relaunched Last Stop?  Check out six years of the strip plus new material every week right here!

Return of the Jedi(Cole Universe Forums)!

Last year a forum page was created for The JediCole Universe but received little to no activity.  In the last few months I have noticed that the old announcement for said forums has seen the odd hit here and there.  Unfortunately the link to the forums is a dead end as they lapsed due to inactivity.

However, it has long been my intention to relaunch the forums to give the readers and listeners who frequent this site a place to interact with me, my ever-growing membership of JediCole Universe Podcasting Network colleagues, and each other.  To that end I have reestablished the forums page and will busy myself recreating individual forums for each of the podcasts and recurring features on this site as well as other topics of interest to those who frequent the JCU.   There will also be forums specific to your favorite podcasters in this new incarnation!  

A formal announcement will be made no later than the first part of November when the Forum site goes live again!

- JediCole

The JCU Wants to Hear From You!

On behalf of everyone who contributes to The JediCole Universe I would like to say that we all endeavor to bring you a wide variety of entertaining and informative podcasts, feature articles, and cartoons.  We all really enjoy what we do here and would love to hear from our listeners and readers.  Any feedback, requests, complaints, or praise are welcome.  

Many of the podcasts produced for this site have guest voices joining the fun and some require a guest to even produce a new show.  If you have enjoyed these shows in the past and thought you might like to be a guest we would love to hear from you!

Please direct all email to:  jcumail@yahoo.com

Include JCU, JediCole Universe, or the title of the article or podcast you are writing about in the subject line so I will know that it is a listener or reader email. 

Thank you,
Cole "JediCole" Houston

Hey Kids, Comics! #64 - Deconstructing Comics: All in the Family

Every family has its quirks, its problems, its joys, and its struggles.   When one or more members of the family unit are super-heroes, however, the dynamic changes drastically.  Just where do parents, siblings, and extended family fit in to the mix when saving the world is your vocation?

Andrew “Little Brother” Farmer and Cole “Big Brother” Houston get to know the close relations of favorite super-heroes with an in-depth look at the effects of having a super child or sibling.  From the traditional Kents to the often dysfunctional Royal Families of Atillin, Apokalips, and Atlantis, all manner of kinship will be examined.  And what of the family bonds that transcend blood and heraldry?  The “family of friends” will also be explored.

Answer for yourself the question...which is the most dysfunctional family in comics?

JCU Sunday Funnies #28

Want to see Bobby Blakey's art and his own humor including the newly relaunched Last Stop?  Check out six years of the strip plus new material every week right here!

Something You Should See!

Have you heard me talk up Now Hiring on Hey Kids, Comics! once or twice (or more)?   Of course you have.  

The Mighty Placeholder Meets Average Joe

And apart from it being "that movie that JediCole went to San Antonio to be a part of" you haven't had much else to go on, have you?  Of course you haven't.  

Until now!

Check out the first ever teaser trailer for the upcoming super-hero romantic comedy Now Hiring...

Then check back in the coming weeks for a feature article on my experience with this production (nothing short of amazing, by the way) and, with luck, a little something more to help spread the word about this great upcoming film!

The Rantcor Pit 1: A Long Time Ago

Welcome to the return of The Rantcor Pit in its new and improved format!  

In its original incarnation this show was a solo podcast featuring me, JediCole, effectively ranting about something Star Wars related.  This lasted for all of two episodes before various other projects got in the way.  After a several months without a new edition and failing to ever articulate a rant on the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm, I determined to let The Rantcor Pit simply fade into obscurity.  

Naturally that was not going to be quite so simple.  In fact the title of this feature alone was too good to let go, though the presentation was in desperate need of an overhaul.  The last edition of this feature was published on my birthday last year, so just over a year ago as you read this.  In the mean time Andrew Farmer's incredible comic book-themed podcast Hey Kids, Comics! had become the most actively produced feature on this site.  As the first anniversary of that show was looming it occurred to me that a two voice talk show on the subject of Star Wars would be far more engaging (and rewarding) than the "one man rant" that had started this feature.  

There is simply too much ground to cover when it comes to the cultural phenomenon that gives this website its name to be limited to infrequent diatribes on my part.  The change in format for this podcast was then, inevitable, but where to start?  That question will be answered in this first episode where I reveal how I arrived at asking Dallas-based artist Eddie Medina to be my co-host on what I hope will be a podcast favorite among Star Wars fans.  That we are wading into a pool already well peopled and replete with giants who have been at this for a decade or more is not lost on me, but then what would The Rantcor Pit be without facing down seemingly impossible odds?  

So sit back, give a listen, and never tell me the odds as Eddie and JediCole take you back to 1977 with a very personal tale that started a long time ago...

Look for new episodes of The Rantcor Pit every other week right here as part of the ever-expanding JediCole Podcasting Network.  The new format will be accompanied by a new logo that premieres with the next episode on November 1, 2013!

As promised, click here to read the United States of Geekdom article mentioned on this podcast.

If you are at all curious about the original incarnation of this show, check out the first two editions:

The Rantcor Pit #1 (September 15, 2012)
The Rantcor Pit #2 (October 12, 2012) 

Hey Kids, Comics! #63 - Deconstructing Comics: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Love interests.

Hollywood certainly can’t let a super-hero live without them!  But how do they fit in to the lives of the super-hero (and sometimes super-villain)?  That is the prevailing question as the middle portion of the journey known as “Deconstructing Comics” unfolds.

Your hosts, Andrew Farmer and Cole Houston, with special guest Catherine "Mrs. JediCole" Houston, take a look at the heartthrobs, flings, lovers, and spouses of comics.  It takes a very special person to love someone who puts his or her life on the line every day.  What are the exaggerated stresses placed on companionship when one or both partners have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men?  Not to mention long distance relationships that can span galaxies or even dimensions!  Loved ones are a vital part of the super-hero comic and the dynamics thereof will be explored in depth in this special issue.

Whadjathink? - Gravity

The Fright Stuff

Welcome back to Whadjathink?, the movie review show that teams Catherine "Mrs. JediCole Houston with movie and television reviewer extraordinaire Bobby Blakey!  Join this pair as they welcome special guest Connie O'Rourke to share in the kind of discussion of a film you have on the way home from the theater.  This time it is all about the minimally cast orbital epic Gravity!

For the unfamiliar, Whadjathink? pulls no punches in its coverage so it is naturally spoiler rich.  Please bear that in mind if you have not seen the movie as we advise listening to this show only if you are prepared to hear about nearly every aspect of what transpires on screen.


If you enjoyed this episode of Whadjathink? and want to hear more, check out the previous episodes right here on the JCU!

JCU Sunday Funnies #27

Want to see Bobby Blakey's art and his own humor including the newly relaunched Last Stop?  Check out six years of the strip plus new material every week right here!

Jedi Justifications #6 - Imperial Amblin'

I was never really all that bothered by the AT-ATs that made their debut in The Empire Strikes Back.  This was due in no small part to their coolness factor.  On the big screen these ponderous juggernauts could not have been more exciting to behold.  Despite their tenuous gait they epitomized the might of the Galactic Empire.  Trudging through snow, picking off Snowspeeders and Rebel soldiers alike, and generally wreaking havoc on the icebound Hoth base, the seemingly indestructible AT-AT was the ground assault version of the Star Destroyer.  So why should these technological terrors find their way, if one slow step at a time, into the latest Jedi Justifications?  Because, simply put, a friend of mine was bothered by another form of vehicular combat showcased in Revenge of the Sith.

The specific vehicle in question is known as the A6 Juggernaut or “Turbo Tank”.  For this fellow Star Wars fan the inclusion in that universe of a wheeled vehicle was unworkable.  The nagging question was why would a culture with the technology for hovercrafts like the ATT and Landspeeder need any form of conveyance requiring something as relatively primitive as the wheel?  The tripedal AT-AP and individual-sized AT-RT walkers utilized on Kashyyyk and the massive AT-TE from the battle of Geonosis, all of them relying on two or more mechanical legs and precursors to the AT-AT, did not seem at all troublesome to him despite being far less efficient than the wheeled ordinance.    As a result I have been inspired to seek justification for two modes of transport that might seem out of place to the overly analytical in the context of a universe where anti-gravity technology appears to be the universal standard.

Roll Out

With the inspiration for this justification being the Juggernaut employed by the Republic in defense of the Wookies I will address the issue of wheels in a galaxy of repulorlifts.  At first pass wheels can seem wildly out of place, even decades before the events in the original Star Wars Trilogy.  Why would anyone deploy a mobile weapon that did not avail itself of the pinnacle of available technology?  The answer is rather simple, though only implicit in what is conveyed on screen.  With Episode I the structure of the Republic, a cooperative of dozens of sovereign worlds, is expressed through glimpses at the inner workings of the Senate.  Furthermore, the Jedi Order is established as the principle peace keeping and law enforcement organization within said government.  While the Jedi play a role in maintaining peace, they are not a standing army.  In fact it is suggested that on a whole there is no such force at the disposal of the Republic. 

Prior to the advent of a grossly misappropriated legion of Clone Troopers the Republic would have had to call on the martial resources of member planets to field any appreciable combat force against threats internal and external.  When Darth Sideous’ shrewdly selective Separatist Movement arose, its member systems were major players in business and industry and posed a challenge to an under-supplied Republic.  As a result, any and all available weaponry was brought to bear, regardless of its vintage or source.  While some worlds could offer hovering vehicles, others might only have wheeled or treaded, tank-like ordinance.  And, of course, there were ambulatory weapons platforms that moved about on mechanical legs of varied numbers.

The Need For Speed

In the  case of the so-called Turbo Tanks utilized on Kashyyyk, rapid deployment of Republic forces was of the upmost importance.  The Wookies were fighting a losing battle pitting bowcasters and blasters against an implacable droid army.  The massive, and many, wheels of the A6 Juggernaught would have made it an ideal choice to convey Clone troops to the battlefield from whatever landing site may have been available to transport ships.  The broad footprint of the vehicle’s wheels also made it ideal for any terrain.  Kicking up clouds of sand on the beachhead would have been a tremendous detriment to the brave Wookie forces were hovercraft type vehicles involved.

Furthermore, with timing quite literally being everything, the snail’s pace of larger armored transports which have lift technology would have turned the mission from one of reinforcement to one of avenging a massacre.  The Droid Army’s slow-moving ATTs illustrate the trade off between the ability to hover above the ground and move quickly over space.  In the end it becomes a terribly inefficient system.  While Landspeeders and Speeder Bikes can race from Point A to Point B with alarming speed, this rapidity of movement is relative to their size and weight.  Magnifying the mass of Luke Skywalker’s speeder exponentially to match that bulk of an ATT results in a tremendous loss of efficiency in forward movement.  Given a choice, good old fashioned wheels are the order of the day, hence their unlikely appearance in one of the final battles of the Clone Wars.

No Need For Speed

But what of the plodding AT-ATs deployed against the Rebel base at Hoth?  How does this techno tortoise beat the hare that is the Juggernaut when a well established Galactic Empire goes into battle against its enemies?  Can speed be a justification in one instance and lethargy in another?  When it comes to Star Wars, yes it can!  And the Death Star makes it all possible.

So how does “the ultimate power in the universe” serve to explain away one of the most inefficient war machines ever to do service in battle?  It really comes down to a single line from Darth Vader that has a much deeper meaning that underscores one of the tenents of Imperial philosophy.  Cautioning Admiral Motti not to be, “too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed”, Vader capture the essence of how Emperor Palpatine rules – through terror.  After inexplicably selling the entire Senate on the concept that the Jedi were in rebellion despite all evidence to the contrary, the Emperor ruled with an iron first with a doctrine of force and fear.  The Death Stars played into this quite well, as do the AT-ATs. 

Essentially the AT-AT is the ultimate terror weapon.  Impervious to blaster fire it sends a chilling message to anyone against whom it is deployed – “We don’t have to be in a rush to destroy you!”  A combination of ridiculous scale, relaxed pace, and powerful laser weaponry, the AT-AT is an ideal morale destroyer.  Alone or in groups, these ponderous colossi ply their slow way toward enemy emplacements with a determination that conveys the intractable nature of the ruling Empire.  Beyond the fear-invoking presence of these terror machines, their massive size affords them the ability to wreak further havoc once they have reached their destination.  What structures may remain after their laser cannon have rained down long distance destruction would be as nothing under the crushing feet of the AT-AT. 

While a viable means of transporting troops for the ultimate ground assault, their primary purpose is to soften up enemy resistance, mentally as well as physically, before engaging on a more intimate basis.  The frightful scale of these decidedly non-stealthy walking tanks further make them an ideal choice for deployment on occupied worlds.  This is illustrated by the presence of one of these in the vicinity of the Empire’s shield generator station on the Endor moon.  While the Ewoks posed a minimal threat to operations (see the very first Jedi Justifications here), stationing an AT-AT near the base would be an advisable way to insure that the pesky indigenous population kept its distance.  The compliment of supporting AT-ST walkers provided more direct assault capability as their larger counterpart was merely a constant reminder that might makes right.

Getting There

The question naturally arises in regard to the torturously slow approach of General Veers’ landing party as to why a linear ground assault was launched in the first place.  Certainly Vader’s fleet was well equipped with fleets of TIE Fighters and other such air/space craft.  That these fighters can traverse the atmospheric barrier of planets effectively would be illustrated later in The Empire Strikes Back when two of them are shown in pursuit of the Millennium Falcon below Cloud City.  Why not simply send a flight of fighters to swoop down on the Rebel base and make short work of their shield generator?  Because it simply can’t be done.

Precedent for the shield generator the Rebels employed would not come until premiere of The Phantom Menace.  Since Senator Amidala’s death could easily have acted as a catalyst for a budding rebellion, it is not a tremendous leap to suggest that Naboo was a contributing system to its efforts.  What better place than the birthplace of the hated Emperor for the Rebel Alliance to find support if not its origins.  As such, the shield generation technologies of the Gungans would have been an ideal resource for the Alliance.  In fact the multi-pod generator unit they utilized at their Hoth System base is not dissimilar to the Fambaa mounted unites employed by Boss Nass’ army.

In Episode I, despite having an aerial assault capability, the Trade Federation fielded a frontal ground assault that, with minimal effort, pushed through the protective barrier of the Gungan shields.  What this suggests is that such a shield can deflect laser blasts and even repel attacks from aircraft, but is easily pierced at its base, the weakest point.  With that in mind, the Imperial forces chose to stroll into direct combat with the Rebels rather than waste time and resources with a pointless attack from above.  Certainly the AT-ATs and their companion AT-STs could breach the base of the shield and convey their compliment of Snowtroopers right to the front door of the Rebel compound unscathed.  The presence of the trenches surrounding the vicinity of their shield generator illustrates that the Rebels anticipated a ground force, they were just surprised by the way in which it arrived.  There is a strong suggestion in this that the AT-AT had not seen practical combat use prior to this operation. 

The Unthinkable

With trademark faith in their technological and martial superiority, the Imperial forces strode comfortably into the Rebels’ territory with impunity.  Armored as they are, the crews and soldiers within the AT-ATs had nothing to fear from the insignificant force pitted against them on the snowy expanse.  They lumbered forward like so many painfully obvious Trojan Horses without a care in the world.  That is until one of their number succumbed to an alternative plan of attack suggested by the ever resourceful Luke Skywalker. 

Whether by his own intuition or his strong connection to the Force, Luke defied conventional wisdom and attacked the Empire at its weakest point, it’s own hubris.  Thinking the AT-AT’s invulnerable, Imperial engineers failed to account for the power of a simple approach to fouling the weapon while focusing on the more obvious larger threats of laser cannon.  Much like the Death Star, the AT-AT is designed to fend off large scale threats and is unmindful of the potential of simple physics.  Tangling the legs of these meandering dreadnaughts is a major determent when stubborn pilots realize only too late  that their vehicle is no longer in their control and find the frigid plains of Hoth racing up at them through the windshield shortly before impact and ultimate destruction. 

Another unexpected variable was a lone soldier assaulting the gigantic machine from below.  Easy access to vital components via maintenance hatches and portals is ideal when servicing the armored titans, but it does lend a tactical vulnerability to the weapon when a thermal detonator is lobbed into the engine platform from below.  Vital components and pivotal connections are instantly damaged and creating a destructive chain reaction that explodes the cockpit from within.  Such an approach to disabling or even destroying the AT-AT would never have been considered as these devices were intended to inspire enemy troops to beat a path in a direction counter to that of its own travel. 

Walking It Off

While the AT-AT may have been a touch out of place in a galaxy full of hovering surface craft and more spacefacing vessels than  you can shake a stick at, ultimately such a machine makes no less sense than maintaining beasts of burden like Taun Tauns.  As a weapon of the Empire the AT-AT need not be so much practical as a manifestation of the might of the Emperor.  The most laggard weapon of the Imperial arsenal is also the most awe-inspiring.  As it makes its sluggish way across the battlefield the enemies initial surprise at facing such a machine quickly turns to thoughts of self-preservation as it proves itself to be impervious to harm and relentless in its approach.  Those not spiritually crushed by its obvious power stand the chance of finding themselves physically so under its titanic foot pods.  Replacing the efficiency of the wheel or the technological advancement of the hover lift with a quartet of slow moving legs is perfectly reasonable when creating a conveyance that is more about raw power than it is about practicality. 

Wheels, legs, and other seemingly primitive forms of locomotion have their place in the Star Wars universe despite a cornucopia of examples of technological superiority to what we enjoy in the real world.  The wheel is no more obsolete in a galaxy that sports Landspeeders than the sail in our own era of combustion and nuclear engines for seafaring vessels.  Someone somewhere will have cause to utilize yesterday’s technology in spite of far superior choices at their disposal.  So I encourage the embracing of the A6 Juggernaught as a viable and sensible aspect of the Saga.  After all, the genesis of this military vehicle dates back to preproduction of The Empire Strikes Back, giving it a kinship to the AT-AT itself!

Hey Kids, Comics #62 - Deconstructing Comics: Stand By Me

A comic book hero’s adventures are little more than a series of fist fights without a good supporting cast.  It is the ordinary, and even extraordinary, people in the wings that add flavor, anxiety, and a touch of the real world to the life of the super-hero.

In the fourth installment of this arc super-friends Andy and Cole hang out with the folks who hang out with their favorite super-heroes.  And Frank Anderson, Jr. joins the fun!  Not the love interests or significant others, but rather their friends, co-workers, confidants, and assistants who are the subject of this episode.  From famous butlers to traveling companions, friends keep a super-hero grounded, focused, and sometimes even sane.  

Plus our special guest is none other than our good friend Frank Anderson, Jr. who stopped by JediCole's studio to share a mic and get in on the comic book super friend action.

Whadjathink? - Don Jon

Porn To Be Wild

It's time again for Mrs. JediCole's movie review show!  This time she and her co-host Bobby Blakey talk up Joseph Gordon Levitt's exploration of modern sexuality, Don Jon.  This week Bobby's wife Drusilla joins the discussion of this romantic comedy in another spoiler-rich episode.


JCU Sunday Funnies #26

A brand new cartoon will be joining You Are Here most Sundays, Open Season.  Launched to facilitate cartoons written by others than myself (and sometimes, though not always drawn by others than Bobby), this new cartoon will appear as part of JCU Sunday Funnies whenever a new cartoon is available for publication.  Bobby Blakey premieres the series with this great cartoon...

Want to see Bobby Blakey's art and his own humor including the newly relaunched Last Stop?  Check out six years of the strip plus new material every week right here!

Hey Kids, Comics! #61 - Deconstructing Comics: To Prove a Villain

What better way to launch the second part of “Deconstructing Comics” than to quote the Bard?  Much akin to Shakespeare’s most sinister characters, the super-villain is often possessed of ambition that robs all nobility in the pursuit of personal gain.  The villain is the focus of this issue of the arc.

Andrew Farmer and Cole Houston enter the lion’s den as the in-depth exploration of the super-hero genre continues.  The driving forces behind the evil machinations of comic book villains are as varied as the costumed criminals themselves.  Be it fortune, revenge, world domination, or insanity, what moves men and women to embrace a life of crime will be questioned, debated, and examined in this wicked issue of Hey Kids, Comics! 

Prepare to gaze into the abyss!

And find out what this guy has to do with the subject, too...

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