Greetings from the Odinson,
Do you remember the first time you ever read a book? Or, the first time you picked up a comic book? Listened to music? Or, watched a movie? All these mediums are gateways to worlds undreamed of, places that stimulate the imagination and excite the synapses of your mind. These are worlds of high adventure, passionate romance, and lurking danger. These are the Worlds of Imagination. Places like Wonderland where a young girls escalating journey through unbelievable landscapes and interactions with insanely mischievous characters leave her and the reader in stunned contemplation. How about the Land of Oz, where a lost child searching for a way home can befriend a brainless scarecrow, a heartless tin woodsman, and a cowardly lion? And who could possibly forget the wonder and danger of Middle-Earth, a land of might and magic where trees walk and even the smallest person can make a difference.
It’s now Christmas time in the world and the Holiday Season is a time of joy and happiness. As most people take vacation, television shows are on hiatus, and most of your Christmas shopping is behind you, it is also a time when some may find themselves with a lot of quiet time to fill. Whether with a book, comic, or DVD, this is the perfect time to visit a World of Imagination.
The Odinson’s Top 10 Worlds of Imagination: Part 1
10 – The View Askewniverse – Kevin Smith is a modern day renaissance man. As a writer, director, producer, public speaker, husband and father, Smith has lived the fanboy dream. He made a world for fanboys inhabited by fanboys, and that magical little kingdom is lovingly referred to as the View Askewniverse. It’s in this landscape that Generation X really gets a chance to shine. Here Clerks sit around clock-watching and debate the moral and deadly consequences of an independent contractor’s decision to work on the uncompleted Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Mallrats plot to topple a local villain and his terrible rip off game show. A bleeding heart comic book artist spends his days and nights Chasing Amy. Two rogue angels threaten the very foundation of religious Dogma. And, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. If you’re in the mood for witty, funny dialogue, relatable characters, and a world that is not that far removed from our own, then pay a visit to New Jersey and enjoy the 18-year old and older hijinks of the View Askewniverse.
09 – G.I. Joe/Transformers – Enter a world where things are more than meets the eye. A world where a group of brave elite soldiers fight for truth, justice and the American way against a diabolical terrorist organization determined to rule the world. The centuries old war of the Transformers, giant shape-changing robots from a far off world, has spilled over and planet Earth has become the frontlines. Mighty Optimus Prime, leader of the brave Autobots, struggles to stop the tyrannical Megatron and his vile militaristic Decepticons from draining Earth’s resources and destroying mankind. Meanwhile, General Hawk, Duke, Snake Eyes and the rest of GI Joe struggle to keep democracy free against the side-winding tactics of Cobra Commander, Destro, Major Bludd and the villains of Cobra. It’s GI Joe vs. Cobra, the Autobots vs. the Decepticons, and the winners in it all are the fanboys and girls. Yo, Joe!
08 – The Worlds of Blizzard – This is a realm where you can pick your poison. In the fantasy setting of World of Warcraft, choose a race – human, orc, elf, dwarf, or gnome – and explore the ever expanding world of Azeroth. Here you can help defend the realm from the invading hordes of the Burning Legion, topple the mighty Lich King, and try to survive the Cataclysmic return of the great wyrm – Deathwing the Destroyer. Or, rocket into outer space and join the three-way struggle for universal dominance in Starcraft. As the human terran race, use your armored space marines, tactical command centers and mighty mech to defend mankind against the Swarm. The Swarm, or zerg, is a vast hive mind insect-like race of monsters that spreads out across the galaxy and infests the landscape and fauna with their essence, assimilating all in their path. The zerg are a cross between the Xenomorphs from Aliens and the Arachnids of Starship Troopers. Very scary. Then there are the religious fanatics, the Protoss. The Toss, with their super technology, mighty war machines, and psychic powers, are a true force to be reckoned with and they will stop at nothing to wipe the zerg from the universe, even if it means eradicating all terran life to do it. It’s a three-way brawl for universal survival and you have a front row seat.
07 – The Hyborian Age – “… between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of…Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.” – Robert E. Howard, "The Phoenix on the Sword"
Before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, there was Conan. Robert E. Howard, the godfather of modern fantasy, created a vivid world of danger, romance, and high adventure. His greatest creation was the barbaric hero Conan (described above far better than I could ever dare try). Conan traveled this ancient world of myth and magic from one coast to the other on his long journey to becoming a king by his own hand. Conan is the mightiest warrior of this genre and to this day his legendary exploits are cheered. Within this ancient realm there are other heroes from different time periods – Red Sonja, Kull of Atlantis, Bran Mak Morn – but none shine as bright or swing the sword quite like Robert E. Howard’s mighty Cimmerian. Whether it’s battling pirates, monsters, demon-gods, or sinister sorcerers, Conan conquers all who stand in his way. It is Howard’s world of Hyboria (along with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) that set the stage for Dungeons and Dragons to follow.
06 – The Forgotten Realms – Set in the magical world of Dungeons and Dragons, the Forgotten Realms made its triumphant debut in 1987 and has only grown bigger and better everyday since. From Calimport up the Sword Coast to Luskan the City of Sails, from Icewind Dale to Waterdeep the City of Splendors, the Realms is a place where anything can happen, and does. There was a Time of Troubles when gods fell from the heavens and walked the earth and magic flared out of control. There’s Elminster, a seemingly immortal old sage that roams the Realms and aids heroes and travelers along their paths. Baldur’s Gate 1&2, set in the Forgotten Realms in the aftermath of the Time of Troubles, are, to this day, my all time favorite fantasy computer games. And The Pool of Radiance brings back nostalgic memories of my Commodore 64.
The Forgotten Realms also just so happens to be the home of the Odinson’s all time favorite fantasy hero – Drizzt Do’Urden. Drizzt is an anomaly. Born a dark elf, a race of malevolent evildoers, this noble warrior shed the evil ways of his treacherous kin and left the Underdark behind to reside in the surface world. Here though he deals with the prejudice of those that fear and hate him simply for the color of his skin. He has fought long and hard and is now actually considered across Faerun to be one of the Realms’ greatest heroes. With his whirling twin scimitars, his celestial black panther and the Companions of Mithral Hall at his side, there is no foe Drizzt cannot conquer. Created by R.A. Salvatore, Drizzt made his debut in The Crystal Shard, the Odinson’s all time favorite book, and has gone on to star in more than twenty novels, a comic series and made memorable cameos in the Baldur’s Gate computer games. How this character has not been turned into a movie yet is beyond me.
So during the down time of this Holiday Season, be sure to visit your favorite Worlds of Imagination and be sure to check back in next week when the Odinson rounds out his list with a trek through the final frontier, a town on top of a Hellmouth, a galaxy far, far away, the original comics universe, and the House of Ideas.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell