Pass the Comics: Stay, Galaxus! Stay!

The Moon Monster

[Atomic Surgery]

Galaxus: The Thing from Outer Space

[I.T.C.H.]

Mighty Samson at the Battle of N’Yark Bay

[Gold Key Comics!]

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Land of the Lost: Season Three (Episode Five: Medusa)

Season One: Part One, Two, and Three.
Season Two: Part One and Two.
Season Three: Part One, Two, Three, and Four.

Episode 5: “Medusa”

This episode provides more evidence for the Alternate Reality Theory, while also letting us know that some things are still the same between the two versions of the Land of the Lost. Holly and Will have built an outrigger to take them and Cha-Ka down the river, hoping it will help them find a way home. Obviously, the first season episode “Downstream” never occurred for them. At least, not in the way it happened for the other Marshalls, but more on that later. On the other hand, Will plans to do some fishing on the trip and recalls his unpleasant experience fishing with Cha-Ka in Season Two’s “Nice Day.”

While Will and Cha-Ka cut fishing poles, Holly sits in the boat and is accidentally carried downstream by a sudden increase in the current. The reason for the change is that a green-skinned, snake-haired Gorgon in a toga has opened a hole in a small dam downriver. We don’t yet know why, but we do get a demonstration of her powers when she turns a praying mantis to stone for “daring to offend Medusa” by crawling over her foot.

Will and Cha-Ka hear Holly’s distress cries, but choose to run and get Jack instead of immediately helping her. It’s a stupid, disappointing choice meant simply to keep the plot moving.

After the break: Holly meets Medusa and sees an old friend from Season One.

Downriver, Medusa – in harmless, human form now – rescues Holly. She gently instructs Holly to be more careful in the future, saying that King Neptune is very strict with those who use his waters. She introduces herself as Meddie and insists that Holly come home with her. It’s going to be dark soon and she refuses to let Holly wander alone through the jungle at night. She’s very nice about it and explains that if they leave the boat on the bank, then Holly’s family can track her to Meddie’s home from there when they come looking for her. That makes sense to Holly and she agrees.

Meddie’s place is a fenced garden in the middle of the jungle. It’s filled with statues and sentient plants. Meddie tells Holly that she can explore all she likes, but should stay on the paths to avoid being attacked by the vegetation. She then excuses herself to freshen up, which she does in a weird way. She has a little vanity table in another part of the garden and talks to herself in the mirror as she puts on perfume and has a glass of wine. We learn that her motivation for destroying the dam was to bring Holly downstream for the specific purpose of turning her to stone and adding her to the garden. She’s delighted though that she’ll also get to add Jack, Will, and Cha-Ka when they arrive.

Which raises the question of who Medusa really is and what she’s doing here. Is her reference to Neptune a religious belief or does he really exist? Medusa was Neptune’s lover in Greek mythology, so it seems more than coincidental that she brings him up. He’s never mentioned again in the episode though, so we can’t know for sure. The most reasonable explanation is that she and the other Greek gods exist, but that she was pulled alone into the Land of the Lost. That leaves a big question about what really happened between her and Perseus in our world, but figuring that out is an exercise for another day.

More interesting is the matter of all those statues, most of which are human-shaped. With all the random time portals opening in the Valley, you’d think that there’d be more captives here. Some of them, like the Revolutionary War soldier from Season One’s “Follow That Dinosaur,” probably died through lack of survival skills, but Medusa’s a good explanation for the rest. Especially since she actively seeks out people to trap. It’s curious why she’s just now attacking the Marshalls, but maybe she’s had her eye on them for a while and finally saw her chance when they built the outrigger.

Holly enjoys Meddie’s hospitality at first, but starts to suspect something’s wrong when she sees the stone form of a triceratops in the same spot where she was frightened by a live one earlier. She explores some more and finds a statue of a Civil War soldier with a cannon.

When Meddie finds her looking at it, Holly explains that it reminds her of another soldier she used to know who was always making noise, “shooting off cannons and shouting orders.” That sounds like Jefferson Davis Collie from “Downstream,” but that’s impossible because if “Downstream” happened in this reality, why don’t the Marshalls already know that the river loops around on itself? The only explanation is that Collie did exist in this reality, but the Marshalls met him in a different way. And obviously, Medusa eventually met him as well.

After the Collie statue, Holly suspects enough to know that she needs to leave. She tries to excuse herself just as Jack, Will, and Cha-Ka show up, having tracked her there as Medusa planned. Before they can announce themselves to Holly though, Medusa’s plants attack them. They escape, but not before Meddie spots them and ushers Holly to another part of the garden, saying that her family is likely already on its way to come get her. Free of the attack plants, Cha-Ka scouts ahead of Jack and Will to find out where Meddie and Holly went.

Meddie leaves Holly alone long enough for her and Cha-Ka to have a conversation when he finds her. Holly tells him her suspicion about Meddie’s powers and Cha-Ka returns to warn Jack and Will. Holly, Cha-Ka later explains to the others, is afraid to move or Meddie will turn her to stone.

Jack puts Meddie’s name with the description of her powers to figure out who she really is. He also realizes that they have to destroy her or risk her coming after them later. He volunteers to distract Medusa while Will and Cha-Ka rescue Holly, but Will and Cha-Ka jump the gun and Medusa traps them and Holly before Jack can get into place. While she’s threatening them, Jack discovers the vanity table and steals the mirror. He knocks over a glass jar in the process and reveals himself, so while Medusa goes to investigate, the kids escape.

Unfortunately, Jack doesn’t do the full Perseus and cut off Medusa’s head. Instead – probably to avoid scarring Holly for life – he uses the mirror to reflect Medusa’s power back at her, turning her to stone. On their way home, Holly pauses to make a lame, non sequitur observation about the perils of vanity.

My Favorite Board Game: Fury of Dracula

This week’s item from Calvin’s list comes with a caveat: My favorite board game is always the last one I got. That said, I’m a huge fan of strategy games and my previous favorites are Betrayal at House on the Hill, Pirate’s Cove, and Mwahahaha (though that’s more of a complicated card game than a true board game). Right now though, it’s all about Fury of Dracula.

I understand that it plays similarly to Scotland Yard, though I’ve never played that game. One player is Dracula and the others are vampire-hunters from the novel: Lord Godalming, Doctor Seward, Van Helsing, and Mina Harker.

The object for the Dracula character is to collect points while eluding the hunters, moving in secret around a map of Europe. He gets points for creating new vampires, defeating the hunters in combat, and just surviving the day. Once he reaches a certain number, he wins. The players work as a team to find Dracula and destroy him before he gets all his points. If they succeed, they win as a team.

I’ve only played a few times, but it’s a much more balanced game than it first appears. Every time I play with a new group of people there’s some distrust that things are easier for Dracula than for the players. That only lasts for a while though and the hunters are usually able to locate him after several turns. Once that happens, it’s much more difficult – but not impossible – for Dracula to disappear again. It takes a lot of skill and strategy to play either side.

One of the things I love most about it is that it doesn’t matter how many people play or who plays which hunter. All four hunters are used regardless of if there’s one person playing them all or several people working as a team. The game tells you that you can’t have more than five players (one for Dracula and each hunter), but that’s not true. You can have an unlimited number of folks on the hunters’ side, putting their heads together to come up with the best strategy. And if someone has to leave the game – it does take a few hours to play – it’s not a disruption to either bring in a replacement player or just have one of the other, current players take over that character in addition to her own. That flexibility is unique among strategy games. It’s also a good training game for kids who are attracted to strategy games, but not that good at them yet (so long as the adult members of the team are patient and willing to teach).

Elsewhere… adventure never looked so good

Fanta

Last weekend’s Five for Friday assignment was to Name Five Favorite Projects/Books From Fantagraphics Not By Charles Schulz, Los Bros, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes Or Peter Bagge. I’m always glad to poke holes in the perception that Fantagraphics publishes nothing but impenetrably artsy comics for snobs. It’s just not true. Here’s my pick of five great adventure comics they’ve put out (after forgetting that they also used to publish Usagi Yojimbo).

1. Delphine, Richard Sala
2. Interiorae, Gabriella Giandelli
3. Black Hole, Charles Burns
4. Almost Silent, Jason
5. Castle Waiting, Linda Medley

Death-Day

And speaking of artful adventure comics, this week’s Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs was about Sam Hiti’s latest graphic novel, Death-Day, Part One.