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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Comics Explained: Steppenwolf

The new edition to the DCEU, Justice League, has recently been released and with it we have a new villain not yet seen outside of comics or animation: Steppenwolf. He was originally going to be in the theatrical release of Batman v. Superman but his cameo was cut making Justice League his first actual appearance. However, when he was announced to be the primary antagonist of Justice League many people, including comic fans, responded with, Who is Steppenwolf? Steppenwolf has made very few appearances in comics, Rob of the YouTube channel Comics Explained estimates that he was in only 70 comics, so many wondered why he was chosen as the antagonist over Brainiac or Darkseid. Today we're going to look at just exactly who Steppenwolf is.

New Gods #7
New Gods #7
Steppenwolf first appeared in Jack Kirby's New Gods #7 in 1972. Kirby was half of the dreamteam which made Marvel the success that it was, but he felt he wasn't getting the recognition that he rightly deserved (people mostly credited Stan Lee over Kirby) so amicably left to work for DC. There he made the New Gods which are a very inventive series of comics. Originally, the New Gods lived on two worlds existing outside the Multiverse in what has been named Kirby's 'Fourth World': the idyllic New Genesis ruled by Highfather, and the dystopian Apokolips ruled by Darkseid. As they existed out of the Multiverse the only way they could be reached, or come to the DC Universe, by portals named Boom Tubes. When Crisis on Infinite Earths destroyed the Multiverse the Fourth World was moved to existing inside the DC Universe, but they existed in a galaxy cut off from the rest of the universe only accessible via Boom Tube. The one last thing we need to discuss is the Source Wall. This 'Wall' exists at the edge of the Multiverse and separates the Multiverse from the Source: a collection of all knowledge and power in the Multiverse. If someone fails to get across the Source Wall they become part of the Wall itself.

Now we turn to Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf was the commander of Apokolips' military while Apokolips was under the rule of his sister Heggra, someone who had been ruling Apokolips since her husband, Yuga Khan, was claimed by the Source Wall. Later, when Heggra's son Uxas, (Darkseid), killed her he began serving his nephew. Steppenwolf was the enforcer for Apokolips; when Heggra or Darkseid wanted something done he would do it. This brings us to his first appearance in New Gods #7. Darkseid wanted his mother dead, (after all she had his wife, the only person he ever loved, executed), and wanted war with Apokolips' eternal enemy, New Genesis. So he sent Steppenwolf to assassinate Avia, the wife of New Genesis' ruler Izaya. This resulted in a bloody war which devastated both worlds. During the war Darkseid poisoned Heggra and Izaya smashes Steppenwolf killing him yelling: You'll never kill anyone again, Steppenwolf!
Steppenwolf's Death
During the war Izaya learned of the Source and devoted himself to peace renaming himself Highfather. He made a peace agreement with Darkseid where his son would be raised by Darkseid, while he would raise Darkseid's son Orion. While the sons were on their new worlds the peace would stand, so Darkseid had a torturer daily abuse Highfather's son so he would be compelled to escape the planet and end the non-aggression pact. Darkseid then showed his power and resurrected Steppenwolf putting him back in charge of Apokolips' military. Until the DC Universe was rebooted in the New 52 he was a background character with the only noteworthy thing that he did was dying at the hands of the Terror Titans; an inverse group of the Teen Titans.

New 52
Steppenwolf was reintroduced following the New 52 in Justice League Vol.2 #6. Again, he is in charge of Darkseid's army, however, he plays a minor role with Darkseid being the main villain. As the New 52 brought back the Multiverse the Fourth World was moved again to being outside the Multiverse. One of the 52 new universes was Earth-2 and Darkseid declared war on this reality. He sent Steppenwolf with an army of Parademons to wipe out the main threats of this reality before he invaded, clearly learning from his failed attempt at invading the mainstream universe. Steppenwolf destroyed entire countries and even destroyed Amazon Island causing the Olympian Gods to pray for humanity to fight through this. Batman infiltrated towers controlling the Parademons while Superman and Wonder Woman directly fought them. However, Steppenwolf impales Wonder Woman on his sword killing her and Superman is killed when Parademons overrun him. 
Steppenwolf kills Wonder Woman
Finally, Batman sacrifices himself destroying the towers, and with it the Parademons. Steppenwolf then is trapped on Earth where for five years with the remnants of his army he tried to establish his own kingdom in order to later conquer the rest of the planet. Steppenwolf had been using a clone of Superman, called Brutaal, to fight for him and had been indoctrinating him to worship Darkseid. However, this worked too well so when Steppenwolf decided to conquer the Earth for himself, and not Darkseid, Brutaal killed him. Sometime later Steppenwolf was resurrected again by Darkseid appearing in Justice League Vol. 2 #42.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. For future blog posts please see our Facebook or get me on Twitter @LewisTwiby.

Friday, 10 November 2017

World History: The Little Ice Age

Peter Breughel the Elder's Hunters in the Snow
When we think about history we often forget about the climate and environment, but it has been incredibly influential in shaping human history. The last time we looked properly at the climate as a part of World History it was our very first post describing the evolution of humanity; there changing global climate caused grasslands to encroach on forests and forced our ancestors to walk upright, (please see here). Climate has never stopped affecting human history and today I want to focus specifically on a period of climate history named the Little Ice Age, something which lasted from the mid-fifteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. First coined by Francois E. Matthes in 1939 historians now have taken note of the significance of the Little Ice Age and its impact on our history.

How do we know it happened?
Changing Global Temperature
Quite often historians have been criticized for making statements with the idea 'we weren't there so we can't be certain.' Although at times this is a valid criticism but for the Little Ice Age we do have evidence that it took place. Climatologists and meteorologists have used ice-cores and dendrochronology (looking at tree rings) which show us that from around 1300 the world's climate got much colder, reaching a peak in the seventeenth century, and then getting warmer in the 1800s. Geoffrey Parker in his article Crisis and Catastrophe has shown through a series of graphs how fewer sunspots were seen, temperatures were lower, and increased volcanic activity happened during this time period. Not only that, we have cultural evidence that global temperatures dropped during this time period. Pictured at the top of this post if Peter Breughel the Elder's Hunters in the Snow painted in 1565 depicting hunters walking through thick snow as people ice skate on a frozen ponds. A painting by Abraham Hondius in 1676 depicted hunters chasing a fox on the frozen Thames, and until the mid-nineteenth century carnivals on the frozen Thames were a regular occurrence. We have written records also of severe climate and weather conditions. In 1641 Enomoto Yazaemon wrote that on New Year's Day 'ice lay in the fields one foot deep. From that time, I observed seven snowfalls until the spring.' Chronicler Benedikt Kuen in the 1680s wrote about the glacier Vernagtferner moving south from the Alps:
in 1600. so our ancestors tell us, the big glacier behind Rofen after it had come into the valley according to its habit, broke out on the feast of St James [25 July], did great damage to the fields in the Ezthal, spoilt the roads and streets and carried away all the bridges. In the parish of Langenfeld the water flooded the ground from Rethlstain to Lener Kohlstatt.
In the 1640s governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony noted in his journal: 
The frost was so great and continual this winter that all the Bay was frozen over, so much and so long, as the like, by the Indians' relation, had not been so these forty years ... To the southward also the frost was as great and the snow as deep, and at Virginia itself the great [Chesapeake] bay was much of it frozen over, and all of their great rivers.
Volcanic eruptions, independent of global climate, added to global cooling periodically. 1816 was described by contemporaries as 'The Year Without a Summer' following the eruption of Mt. Tambora the year prior. We can even use wine harvests to provide evidence for the Little Ice Age; before 1469 wine was actually cultivated in England which ended through colder temperatures.
A Thames Frost Fair
How It was Explained
Today we know that the adverse climate was due to the Little Ice Age, but we have the benefit of hindsight and decades of scientific research on climate. Contemporaries did not have that benefit so looked at ways which they understood the world to explain the floods, hail, and storms. We'll look at two areas of the world and how they understood the causes: Europe and China.

We'll discuss China first. Throughout World History when we've discussed China one phrase has repeatedly cropped up, 'the Mandate of Heaven.' For those who are new to the term the Mandate of Heaven was the idea that the ruling dynasty only ruled thanks to a mandate directly from Heaven. However, if the ruling dynasty was seen as being corrupt or decadent, abusing its citizens, or just generally inept it was believed that the mandate would leave the ruling dynasty. Any new dynasty which ousted the old one could now claim that they have the Mandate of Heaven. Since the fourteenth century the Ming had ruled China and by the seventeenth century Chinese society had changed. Years of relative peace and prosperity had caused a population boom in the countryside putting pressure on the land, a thriving domestic (and a smaller external) trade had caused merchants to become wealthier than farmers, and inflation was rapidly rising through the importation of silver from the Americas and Japan. The floods, hail, storms, and cooler temperatures brought on by the Little Ice Age led to crop failures compounding the issue, and nothing causes a revolt quicker than starving people. To contemporaries it was clear that the Mandate of Heaven had left the Ming and they pointed to the weather as a sign of it. The violent weather was seen as a sign that the Ming were no longer protected by Heaven, and that this was a sign that the Ming should be replaced. In 1644 the Ming were overthrown and their successors, the Shun, were overthrown shortly after by the new Qing Dynasty.
A depiction of a witch burning from England in the 1640s
Europe did not point to their rulers as the cause of bad weather, hail and red suns but instead turned to the Bible. Wolfgang Behringer has linked the Little Ice Age to the spike in witch hunts. From 1560 to 1600 somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people were accused of witchcraft where 40,000 to 60,000 were executed. Before Pope Innocence VIII released his papal bull Summis desiderantus affectibus on 5 December 1484 the Church did not link witchcraft to the weather, and Innocence only did this at the request of Dominican friar Heinrich Kramer. Often the sins of the populace were blamed for the weather but smaller political entities were more susceptible to the idea of witches. A very severe thunderstorm hit central Europe on 3 August 1562 during a time of meteorological events which people in the Barony of Illeraichen blamed on witches which forced Count Hans von Rechberg to imprison several women who confessed to witchcraft under torture. Between 1562 and 1565 in Wiesensteig there was an attempt to eradicate 'the evil' in society where 63 women were burnt as witches. A chronicler in the Franconian town of Zeil in 1626 wrote:
Everything froze, something which had not happened as long as one could remember, causing a big rise in prices. […] As a result, pleading and begging began among the rabble, who questioned why the authorities continued to tolerate the witches. […] Thus the prince-bishop punished these crimes
Accusations were heavily gendered. Between 75 and 85 per cent of those accused were women, but in Northern Europe more men were accused than women. However, there were pushbacks against the idea of witches causing the bad weather. As mentioned many in the Church blamed the sins of the people and at times ridiculed the idea of witches. The idea of familiars was mocked with some clergy commenting if Satan really wanted to cause damage; wouldn't he become a dragon instead of a cat? Humanists looked to secular reasons and centers of secularization like Nuremburg and the Swiss and Italian-republics, despite ruling lots of rural land, saw little to no witch burnings. Scholar Albrecht Durer produced woodcuts presenting the subject as a way for people to portray beautiful women naked. Across Europe reaction to the Little Ice Age varied.

The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century
Historians Eric Hobsbawm and Hugh Trevor-Roper argued in the 1950s that the 1600s saw a 'Crisis' where the world was plunged into increased violence. Hobsbawm, a primarily European historian, argued this crisis was part of Europe's transition from feudalism to capitalism, whereas Trevor-Roper linked this to a political crisis where the modern political state started to emerge. The 1600s were a violent time in history: over a million took part in revolts in China, peasant revolts swept over Switzerland and Germany, rebellions hit Russia in 1648 and 1649, a series of revolts in Brazil, the overthrow of the Kongo Kingdom, the brutal collapse of the Ming, the Mughal Civil War, a spike in the amount of people made slaves for the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Fronde in France, a succession war in the Ottoman Empire, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the British Isles, and the Thirty Years' War are just some of the violence to strike the world. Geoffrey Parker reopened the debate but spoke of a global crisis, not just a European one. He went on to link this to the Little Ice Age. Although the Little Ice Age did not cause these conflicts and bouts of violence it helped contribute to them. Using the example of China the collapse of the Ming was down to poor harvests and other factors, and the Manchus who succeeded them, (excluding the brief Shun Dynasty), moved south to China as they believed that China would have better harvests than Manchuria. Parker himself can sum this idea best:
How, precisely, can historians link the harsh winters, cool summers, droughts, and floods of the 1640s […] with individual cases of state breakdown such as the revolts of Scotland, Ireland and England against Charles I, or the collapse of Ming rule in China? We must not paint bull’s-eyes around bullet holes and argue that since climatic aberrations seem to be the only factor capable of causing simultaneous upheavals around the globe, therefore those aberrations “must” have caused the upheavals.
Depiction of the Thirty Years' War
The Little Ice Age amplified causes for war and violence throughout the world. A two per cent drop in global temperatures can halve a rice harvest, which happened. This would help explain some of the origins of a revolt but not all of them. Despite rice or grain harvests becoming smaller taxes on land remained the same and often crops were sent to the cities instead of staying in the countryside. When more crops remained in the countryside riots broke out in cities as the price of food, like bread, rose. Furthermore, the various wars which swept the world added to these issues. Soldiers would pillage the countryside for food helping cause famines, and with less food your immune system is weaker so this helped spread disease. War, disease and famine during the Thirty Years' War caused a population decline of up to 40 per cent in the German states and in China the word binghuo (soldier calamity) was coined to describe the pillaging of the country by soldiers. 
Image of the Fronde
Before we conclude I just want to talk about the demographic shift thanks to the Little Ice Age. When people were tired of war, persecution and famine they moved. The 1600s saw the largest surge of colonists to the Americas and, unfortunately with it, slaves from Africa as well. A Chinese diaspora also began in the early 1600s with many settling in areas like Malaysia and the Philippines which would open up these areas for migration in the 1800s. At times when food was in short supply through bad harvests family sizes decreased and in some areas, like northern Europe, they largely remained small. We can see as well the difference in wealth as well. A general trend in Europe was that wealthy families, who could afford food, had larger families whereas less wealthy families had smaller families. There also began a trend of marrying later, and in Renaissance Europe quite often widows did not remarry. However, there were darker sides to this. In the 1680s the Qing passed a decree to prevent widow suicides indicating that it must have been an endemic problem and several European states, like France, passed strict laws against infanticide. Children who died under the age of five were sometimes checked to make sure they died naturally and were not murdered. 

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina
The Little Ice Age offers a prime example for us to learn from history. As I am writing we are faced with dramatic climate change caused by global warming. During the last hurricane season the United States was hit by several destructive hurricanes - Harvey, Irma and Maria to name just three - most likely as a result of climate change. Alongside these hurricanes we had intense wild fires in California and floods in Chad, India, Nepal and Nigeria. Geoffrey Parker put forward the Little Ice Age as one of the causes of the Crisis of the Seventeenth Century a few years after Hurricane Katrina and was deeply influenced by this. It is widely believed that the reason why the Little Ice Age ended was because of the Industrial Revolution which poured carbon dioxide in unprecedented numbers into the atmosphere causing global temperatures to rise. By looking at how the Little Ice Age affected communities of the past we can find ways to cope with the climate issues which we face today.

The sources I have used are as follows:
-Geoffrey Parker, 'Crisis and Catastrophe: The Global Crisis of the Seventeenth Century Reconsidered,' The American Historical Review, 113:4, (2008), pp. 1053-1079
-Wolfgang Behringer, 'Climate Change and Witch-Hunting: The Impact of the Little Ice Age on Mentalities,' Climate Change, 43:1, (1999), pp. 335-351
-Brian Fagan, The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850, (New York: Basic Books, 2000)
-Tom Bristow and Thomas H. Ford, (eds.), A Cultural History of Climate Change, (New York: Routledge, 2016)
-Wolfgang Behringer, A Cultural History of Climate, (London: Wiley, 2009)
-Jean M. Grove, The Little Ice Age, (London: Methuen, 1988)

Thank you for reading. Next time we'll be looking at one of the most significant events in European history which saw its 500th anniversary this October: the Reformation. For future blog updates we have a Facebook or you can get me on Twitter @LewisTwiby.

For other World History posts we have a collection of them here

Sunday, 5 November 2017

History in Focus: The October Revolution

Lenin during the October Revolution
As I am writing we are coming up to the centenary of possibly the most influential revolution in the history of the twentieth century. On November 7 1917, October 25 in Russian using the Julian calendar, the first successful revolution Marxist revolution took place which would go on to change world history. A deeply politicized aspect of history regardless of where you stand on the October Revolution it remains one of the most significant events to shape the world we live in. Before we look at the October Revolution, Lenin, Trotsky, and the Soviets we must first understand how this revolution came to pass.

Background to Revolution
The October Revolution was not the first revolution to hit Russia in 1917. In February (March) a revolution rocked the Russian Empire which we looked at in February, which I would suggest reading to better understand the October Revolution. As a result we shall only briefly discuss the long term origins of the October Revolution. Since the mid-nineteenth century Russia had hoped to 'catch up' to the states of western Europe - France, the UK, and Germany especially - starting with the reforms of Tsar Alexander II, including abolishing serfdom in 1861. Russia hoped to be an industrialized, capitalist power without the powerful democratic institutions which the UK and France had. Although they accepted some form of democracy, like the creation of the local governments called zemstvos, power was supposed to remain with the tsar. After the assassination of Alexander II by Narodnaya Volya (People's Will) in 1881 his successors opted for more autocracy than Alexander. Russian society had changed by this time. Industrialization had created a new class of people, universities had allowed left-wing ideas to flourish, and nationalism was slowly emerging in the multi-ethnic empire. Internationally Russia was seen as backward and autocratic with it facing a humiliation over the Russo-Japanese War which saw Russia defeated by Japan. This inspired the 1905 Revolution which actually saw Leon Trotsky arrive on the scene. Although defeated the 1905 Revolution led to the creation of a parliament, called the Duma, which was extremely weak. The tsar could, and did, dissolve it whenever he wished and the first prime minister, Pyotr Stolypin, was actually chosen because he crushed the rebellion in 1905.
Soldiers in Sarikamish
After years of dissatisfaction from several sectors of society the principal factor in causing the revolution was not in fact domestic in origin. Russia had been portraying itself as the guardian of the Slavic peoples and had created an alliance with Serbia. When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia following the assassination of heir to the throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand Russia was drawn into the war. Thus the First World War began. However, Russia was vastly unprepared. Initially the Russian populace was in favor of the war seeing Tsar Nicholas II in a positive light; all except the radical left-wingers of the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin. Like the Russo-Japanese War military setbacks caused the populace to turn against the war. Thousands were killed as they were caught in between advancing German artillery and the Russian army's scorched earth tactics. Between 5 and 10 million civilians 'voluntarily' left their homes. 

Marxism and Lenin
Karl Marx
In 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels released their seminal pamphlet The Communist Manifesto. Since 1848 the writings of Marx and Engels have influenced up to possibly millions around the world, and they expanded upon it with works such as Das Capital. To summarize Marxist ideology, it opposes capitalism and where private property, as a form of means of production, is communally owned. The writings of Marx and Engels spread across the world with future member of the Mensheviks, the less radical leftists, Vera Zasulich personally writing to Marx saying: You are not aware that your Capital enjoys great popularity in Russia. Although the edition has been confiscated, the few remaining copies are read and re-read by the mass of more or less educated people in our country. The October Revolution was not the first time there was an attempt to create a state inspired by Marxism. Following the collapse of the Second French Empire the Paris Commune was formed which was brutally suppressed by the French army; later Lenin would count to see if his communist state would outlast the Paris Commune. This brings us onto Lenin. Vladimir Lenin, born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, became involved in Marxism while in university, and his brother Aleksander was also a Marxist. Aleksander was later executed for his involvement in an assassination attempt of a tsar which may have caused Lenin's radicalization. In 1902 he had caused a stir with his booklet What is to be done? calling for a disciplined, centralized party to act as a vanguard of the working class which he elaborated on in 1905 stating that the Romanov monarchy should be abolished in favor of a 'provisional revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.' To achieve this rather paradoxical idea revolutionary terror, similar to that of the French Revolution, would be required. He would also expand upon Marx in 1917, in what is now described as Marxist-Leninism, stating that imperialism was the last stage of capitalism.

Lenin was not the only revolutionary in Russia. He was part of the Social Democratic Labour Party which was split between the Bolsheviks, Lenin and like-minded individuals, and the Mensheviks (Minoritarians). The Mensheviks called for a more decentralized party without the projected dictatorship. Meanwhile, there was also Viktor Chernov's Socialist Revolutionaries who disagreed with the Social Democrats in who the revolutionary class were. The Democrats viewed the urban proletariat as this class whereas the Revolutionaries viewed the peasantry holding this distinction. In 1897 Lenin and his family were exiled, and with a few exceptions spent most of his time in exile until 1917.

The February Revolution
The February Revolution
On March 8 (February 23) in Petrograd, (St. Petersburg), on International Women's Day the socialist Social Democrats issued leaflets to women waiting in food lines. These leaflets read:
The government is guilty; it started the war and cannot end it. It is destroying the country and your starving is their fault. The capitalists are guilty; for their profit the war goes on. It's about time to tell them loud: Enough! Down with the criminal government and all its gang of thieves and murderers. Long live peace!
Through this the women started protesting which in turn inspired factory workers in the Vyborg District and Putilov Factory. As protests escalated the troops Tsar Nicholas II sent to put down the protests mutinied and joined the protesters as mutineers in the navy threw their officers into the sea. In the 1905 workers' councils called soviets were formed to organize the working classes and they returned in the February Revolution. However, Lenin and Leon Trotsky were in political exile when they were formed. Two shadow governments were formed in Petrograd: the Provisional Government and Petrograd Soviet. The Provisional Government began arresting the tsar's ministers as a way to prop themselves up, and to protect them from the Soviet. Then with no option Nicholas II released this statement on March 15:
In agreement with the State Duna, we have thought it best to abdicate the throne of the Russian state and to lay down the supreme power. Not wishing to part with our beloved son, we hand down our inheritance to our brother, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich.
Grand Duke Michael, however, could not keep control and just after a day he abdicated ending four hundred years of Russian Tsardom. The Provisional Government took over under liberals, conservatives, businessmen, liberal nobles, and professionals under Prince Georgy Lvov. Only major socialist was part of this government, the Justice Minister Alexander Kerensky who the tsarina had even called for him to be hung. Inspired by Europe and the USA they established freedom of speech, and 'an immediate and complete amnesty in all cases of a political and religious nature, including terrorists acts, military revolts, and agrarian offences.' If there were these reforms why did the October Revolution happen?

Between Revolutions
Catherine Evtuhov and Richard Stites has described the Provisional Government as 'dual powerlessness.' The Government was intensely divided with it having moderate socialists like Kerensky, and former nobility like Prince Lvov. While the liberal Kadets wanted to keep the old tsarist administration whereas the socialists wished to grant non-Russian peoples increased autonomy, like in Ukraine. During the February Revolution the Soviets had become powerful but the Government became distant from the Soviets; in early June soviets around the country sent representatives to Petrograd to the First All-Russia Congress of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. Most importantly the Government had continued to fight the very unpopular war. Soldiers were executed for desertion, food was diverted from the starving population to the front, and Russia was still facing military setbacks. At the start of April Lenin presented his April Theses criticizing the apparent failures of the February Revolution and that power should lie with the soviets who should bring about socialism. Germany, wishing to disrupt Russia, smuggled Lenin into Russia via train from Switzerland as others returned from internal or external exile, including Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. In April workers and soldiers protested in Petrograd due to the continuation of the war, and following another protest in July the state chose to brutally crush it and blame the Bolsheviks. Many Bolsheviks were arrested and Lenin had to go into hiding. The people were dissatisfied and started turning to the Bolsheviks seeing the moderate socialists as betraying them. A former soldier in Moscow said:
You [The Provisional Government] have the audacity to say that freedom has come. But isn't your current power over the people that the bourgeoisie delivered to you, based on coercion?...The bourgeoisie is striving for democratic forms of governance because in them it sees the most convenient method of oppression and exploitation.
Following the July Days Kerensky took over the government but anger at the government remained. Unlike Lvov he was more eager to use violence against deserters and protesters, such as sending troops to suppress the 'Tsaritsyn Republic' declared by radicalized soldiers and Bolsheviks. Then the Kornilov Affair happened. Commander-in-Chief General Lavr Kornilov wished to end left-wing protests, and some of his followers wanted him to seize power. However, he just wanted to hang soviet members and see order return to Petrograd. When Kerensky asked Kornilov to come to Petrograd to help restore order in September the general opted to purge the government, so Kerensky released Bolsheviks, including Trotsky's Red Guard, to stop him. Soldiers deserted Kornilov when the Red Guard infiltrated his army, and workers and railway workers went on strike disrupting his supply lines. In the end Kornilov's coup failed and there was a drastic swing to the left in the soviets and army. Thus the stage was set for October.

Lenin speaking to soldiers during the Revolution
Following the July Days Lenin had been hiding in Finland where he had been advocating armed revolution. In October he returned, in secret, to Petrograd to plan a revolution. On October 23 the Bolshevik Central Committee voted 10-2 to oust Kerensky's government, and they formed a committee under Trotsky to organize the revolution itself. They were so confident that they didn't even bother concealing their plans so Kerensky actually knew some details of it! However, Kerensky's weak position and, the radicalization of the urban masses and army meant there was little he could do other than seize the Bolshevik press, which he soon lost control of. On October 25 armed forces occupied railway stations and military strongholds while at Kronstadt sailors announced their allegiance to the Bolsheviks. The next day the Provisional Government's headquarters, the Winter Palace, was seized and ten years later was mythologized in, what has been regarded as a cinematic epic, Sergei Einstein's October. Despite popular depictions the seizing of the Winter Palace was not actually violent; often the October Revolution has been described as a bloodless revolution. Thus history was made.

Although the Revolution itself was bloodless the aftermath was not. A bloody three-way civil war lasting several years broke out between the Bolsheviks, (the Reds), the peasant armies (Greens), and anti-Communists and foreign powers (Whites). Costing between seven and ten million lives the Russian Civil War was a brutal affair which devastated entire communities. The Bolshevik Revolution did inspire people all across the world. In Germany the Spartacists under Rose Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht tried to form a communist government without the revolutionary terror and dictatorship of Leninism until they were crushed in 1919; a similar attempt was made in Hungary under Bela Kun; mass movements across the globe from China to Argentina; and the rise of Communist Parties across the world. Regardless if they agreed with Lenin, like the newly formed Japanese Communist Party, or virulently disagreed with him, like Luxemburg, people across the world became inspired. There was also a right-wing backlash. Many countries including the USA, UK, Japan and France actually fought the Red Army during the Civil War, and at home anti-communism was rife. The First Red Scare hit the USA in the 1920s, the forged 'Zonviev letter' helped cause the British Labour Party to be defeated in the 1924 General Election, and when Japan enfranchised all men in the mid-1920s it came with a law suppressing radical politics. Left and Right were greatly influenced by the October Revolution.

The October Revolution is by far one of the most significant events of the twentieth century, and perhaps the most important political revolution since the French Revolution. To this day millions have been affected or inspired by the October Revolution. It made Marxism the most discussed ideology until the 1990s and recently Marxism has returned. I myself am a Marxist, although I am a Luxemburgist instead of a Marxist-Leninist, and I became one through reading the Menshevik-Bolshevik debates. Regardless of your political standing you cannot deny the significance of the October Revolution. Whether you believe it changed history for good or for ill it went on to shape the entire history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The events of 1917 affect our lives in 2017.

The sources I have used are as follows:
-A History of Russia since 1800: Peoples, Legends, Events, Forces by Catherine Evtuhov and Richard Stites
-The Penguin History of Russia: From Tsarism to the Twenty-First Century by Robert Service
-The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 by Richard Sakwa
-The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923. Vol. 1 by E.H. Carr
-Russia: People and Empire, 1552-1917 by Geoffrey Hosking
-A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924 by Orlando Figes
-The Age of Extremes, 1917-1991 by Eric Hobsbawm
-History of the Russian Revolution by Leon Trotsky
-Imperialism, The Highest State of Capitalism by Vladimir Lenin

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. For future blog updates please see our Facebook or get me on Twitter @LewisTwiby

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Comics Explained: Scarecrow

To finish off 2017's 'Month of Horror' I thought it would be good to end with a Batman villain considering one of the greatest comics to ever be written was Batman: The Long Halloween. I thought we should look at my personal favorite Batman villain who uses the shared weakness that we all have: fear. Scarecrow uses our primordial and irrational fears against us making him one of Batman's most endearing foes. Appearing in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy (played by Cillian Murphy) and the spectacular Batman: Arkham games Scarecrow is truly one of Batman's best foes.

Real World Origins
The Scarecrow was actually made by the same pair who made Batman, Bill Finger and Bob Kane. In 1941's World's Finest Comics #3 Batman first faced the Scarecrow but he was fairly different from his current version. Instead of using his famous fear gas to instill fear he instead used a gun. However, he was only seen twice during the Golden Age of Comics and he had to wait until 1967 to appear again. In Gardner Fox's Batman #189 in a story which also marked the debut of Scarecrow's fear toxin. During this story Scarecrow manages to use his toxin to make Batman and Robin scared of heights - later on his toxin would be changed so you see your own worst fears - and they manage to defeat him using his own fear: the fear of being caught. Unlike during the Golden Age Scarecrow made more regular appearances with him returning the following year in Batman #200 by Mike Friedrich. Here Scarecrow makes the Dynamic Duo scared of him so Alfred has to help them become resistant to Scarecrow's toxin, as well as making Scarecrow fearful of them. Since then although he hasn't appeared as regularly as the Penguin, Joker or Riddler he has remained a key figure in Batman's Rogue Gallery.

Batman #189
Scarecrow actually has three origin stories. Unlike Marvel - which has a sliding timescale - DC has rebooted its timeline twice. His first origin was explained in both World's Finest Comics #3 and Batman #189. Professor Jonathan Crane was a university professor teaching psychology with a particular emphasis on fear. He was disliked by his colleagues for his strange appearance, eccentric demeanor and shabby clothes because he spent all his money on books. To make a point about fear and drive it home to his class he shot a gun during one class which got him rightly fired. This enraged Crane and he decided to take revenge adopting the moniker of Scarecrow combing fear, (as scarecrows are used to scare away birds), and poverty. He would take revenge on his colleagues who fired him and would also commit a series of robberies using his gun, and later fear toxin, to scare guards/Batman into submission.
Batman/Scarecrow: Year One
Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths which rebooted the DC timeline Scarecrow gained a new origin story in 2005's Batman/Scarecrow: Year One - it was assumed by fans that he had the same origin story as his pre-Crisis incarnation until that point. Crane was abandoned by his parents leaving him with his emotionally manipulative and religiously fanatic grandmother who would abuse Crane. When she disapproved something that he did she would make him wear a suit dipped in a concoction which made crows go made, made him go into the family chapel, and then would be attacked by crows. His school life was equally traumatic. For his lanky and disheveled appearance he would be bullied, and unlike most bullies his bullies seemed to know literature nicknaming him 'Ichabod' after the protagonist of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Crane started dabbling in chemistry and psychology, and after being bullied after being declined by a popular girl he decided to take revenge. Using an adapted version of his grandmother's concoction, and while dressed as a scarecrow, he attacked the girl and the bullies. One bully is partially blinded by crows, the girl is killed, and one bully is paralyzed thanks to a car crash. This would inspire Crane to later on kill his own grandmother and frame it as an accident. Years later he would become a professor of psychology at Gotham University and like his previous incarnation he would be fired for firing a gun in class to teach fear. However, unlike his previous version who was fine with just stealing from those who wronged him, this version opted to murder them. He would then become head psychologist at Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane while working at a psychiatric clinic on the side. There he would torment patients under his moniker of Scarecrow. To his dismay Batman was investigating the university murders and stopped Crane.

The final incarnation is the currently canon origin which has actually partially inspired Scarecrow's appearance in the TV series Gotham. When the DC Universe was rebooted with the New 52 they decided to rewrite Scarecrow's origins, which were told in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol.2 #13. This version of the Scarecrow has Crane living with his father who is a scientist working on weaponizing fear for the US government. Unable to procure test subjects he used his own son as a guinea pig. To test fear Dr. Crane would lock the young Jonathan in a basement full of creepy objects like replica dead bodies. Except one day he died of a heart attack leaving Jonathan trapped and traumatized until the police found him after a few days. Growing up traumatized he decided to gain controls of his fears by trying to understand fear itself and he becomes a professor of psychology at Gotham University. Although he would do unethical experiments on patients during his psychology work resulting in the creation of his Fear Gas and one experiment got him fired. A coed suffered from arachnophobia so he decided to try and cure it with an extreme habituation by throwing a box of spiders on her. He later became a psychologist with a private practice where he continued his experiments until he killed a patient which made him properly become the Scarecrow.

To my dismay Scarecrow is often relegated to the sidelines so, unlike Joker or Two-Face, he does not have his own one-on-one story arcs with Batman. Instead he is often has a minor role so we'll go through a few of these today.

Batman: The Long Halloween
The Long Halloween
The first story that we shall talk about is his appearance in Jeph Loeb's fantastic The Long Halloween. Starting on Halloween Gotham's crime family is being killed off on holidays so Batman goes to see Calendar Man in Arkham to see if he has any clues on Mother's Day. There an inmate escapes and the terror in the voices of the guards indicate that it can only be Scarecrow. Head of one of Gotham's crime families, Carmine Falcone, and the Mad Hatter manage to break Scarcrow out of Arkham. When Batman goes to grab Crane it turns out to be a dummy loaded with his toxin which drives Batman so insane that he is resorted to crying while clinging hold to his mother's gravestone in an extremely powerful image drawn by Tim Sale. In this story Scarecrow is portrayed as deranged singing nursery rhymes constantly as he makes his toxin with Mad Hatter's help. We then find out Falcone freed Scarecrow so he and Hatter could rob the Gotham Bank Depository on Independence Day using the fireworks as a diversion, and Scarecrow's toxin to defeat the guards. However, Batman, and to an extent Catwoman, prevent the robbery.

The villain Bane wanted to break Batman mentally and physically, so he launched a raid on Arkham Asylum to free each of Batman's enemies so he would mentally exhaust himself tracking them down. Scarecrow was freed and he made an alliance with another villain: the Joker. Together they kidnap the mayor, after Joker's failed attempt to kidnap Commissioner Gordon, utilizing Scarecrow's toxin with the mayor's fear of snakes to bring Gotham to its knees. While they have him they make him cancel a request from the governor to get the National Guard to help keep Gotham safe, told the papers that Gordon's poor leadership caused the Arkham breakout, and told the president of the firefighters union that he plans to reduce wages. However, their disagreements over whether to destroy Gotham or Batman first allows Batman to easily defeat them. Later on when Azrael becomes Batman he tries to use hypnotized students to distribute his gas across Gotham until Azrael-Batman stops him.

Batman: Hush
Hush revolves around a new villain named Hush, I won't reveal his identity, uniting all of Gotham's villains against Batman. We find out that Crane was Hush's therapist but instead of helping him he made his condition worst. Working with Hush and Riddler he compiles a dossier of all of Gotham's villains exposing their weaknesses allowing the duo to control Batman's Rogue Gallery. He later uses his fear gas to turn Huntress and Catwoman against one another, but is eventually defeated by Jason Todd.

Blackest Night
Yellow Lantern Scarecrow
This is a Green Lantern story where a new Lantern Corps, the Black Lanterns, made up of the dead intend to wipe out all life. However, they see in emotions but due to years of neglect, trauma, and exposure to his own fear toxin Crane now lacks emotions. He can only feel fear but the only person who can make him scared is Batman. To combat the Black Lanterns each of the Lantern Corps make several people new members and Scarecrow is made into a Yellow Lantern: the Corps which utilizes fear. This is short lived as Lex Luthor wielding an orange ring of avarice steals Crane's ring from him. After the Blackest Night has ended Crane starts murdering LexCorp interns in revenge. Supergirl and Robin try and stop him only to find his fear toxin is powerful enough to work on a Kryptonian. Both managed to overcome the toxin and defeat him.

Other Media
Arkham Knight Scarecrow
Scarecrow has had several appearances in other media; most notably the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movies where he was played by Cillian Murphy. My personal favorite appearance is in the spectacular Batman: Arkham games. In Arkham Asylum he helps Joker create his Titan formula but is apparently eaten by Killer Croc near the end of the game, as well as featuring some of the most creative parts of the game. He later appeared in Arkham Knight as one of the two primary antagonists where it was revealed that he was mauled by Killer Croc and now wants revenge on Gotham/Batman. Scarecrow also made several appearances in Batman: The Animated Series as well as other animated DC shows. He has also appeared in the TV series Gotham where his New 52 origin has been partially adapted. Finally he appeared in the fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us as a background character in the Arkham Asylum stage, as well as the prequel comic where it was revealed that he helped make a toxin to make Superman hallucinate. He was a playable character in the sequel Injustice 2 where he was voiced by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you as well for reading 2017's Month of Horror. For future blog updates please see our Facebook or catch me on Twitter @LewisTwiby

Sunday, 22 October 2017

What is Cthulhu?

Today as apart of 2017's 'Month of Horror' we're looking at a being comprised solely of evil. In February 1928 in the pulp magazine Weird Tales a short story by a little known author called H.P. Lovecraft. In The Call of Cthulhu the world was introduced to a cosmic entity described as resembling a hybrid of an octopus, dragon, and human. Sleeping for centuries the anxiety which humans have is due to a general collective fear of when he wakes again; Lovecraft himself suffered from anxiety so this may be a way for him to cope with it. Out of all the entities to come from Lovecraft's mind Cthulhu has become the most famous inspiring or appearing in a whole range of media. Today we'll look at the being who to look upon causes insanity.

The Call of Cthulhu
We first shall look at the story which brought Cthulhu into the world. The Call of Cthulhu is told through a series of manuscripts of the recently deceased Francis Wayland Thurston, recounting the notes of his grand-uncle Professor George Gammell Angell. Angell had been killed in the winter of 1926-7 after being assaulted by a mysterious man. While looking through the notes of his grand-uncle Thurston discovers a clay, bas-relief of a crouching humanoid with an octopus head and wings of a dragon. Thurston discovers that a student at the Rode Island School of Design named Henry Anthony Wilcox, a student who had been experiencing horrific nightmares and deliriums. In these deliriums two words constantly crop up: Cthulhu and R'lyeh. Pouring through Angell's notes Thurston discovers that Wilcox's deliriums coincided with worldwide deliriums. People as far apart as London, Haiti, India, South America; a mob of 'hysterical Levantines' attacked the police and a mysterious Theosophist cult in California adopt white robs awaiting a 'glorious fulfillment.' 
A figurine
Looking through his grand-uncle's notes Thurston discovers that Angell had found the word Cthulhu almost twenty years prior. At a meeting of the American Archaeological Society in 1908 a police officer from New Orleans, John Raymond Legrasse, had wanted a bas-relief identified. A year prior he had raided a 'supposed voodoo meeting' in search of several women and children who had vanished from a squatter community. The cultists had been chanting 'Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'yleh wgah'nagl fhtagn.' Interrogating the cultists he found out about the cult:
They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never died [...] hidden in distant wastes and dark places all over the world until the time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in the mighty city of R'lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneath his sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would always be waiting to liberate him.
The phrase when translated meant: In his house at R'yleh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming. The leader of the cultists, Castro, leads the inspector to a passage in the insidious book the Necronomicon which reads: That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die. One of the archaeologists, William Channing Webb, declared that in 1860 he too had seen the cult, but in Greenland. After reading this Thurston decides to investigate the Cthulhu cult himself.

By chance he discovered an article in the Sydney Bulletin from April 18 1925. It detailed the story of Norwegian sailor Gustaf Johansen, the second-mate on the schooner Emma, which had been attacked by a yacht named the Alert. After killing the crew of the Alert they discover an uncharted island in the area of 47° 9' S, 126° 43' W. However, the entire crew bar Johansen is slaughtered. Thurston travels to Australia with a hunch which is confirmed when he sees what was recovered from the Alert: a Cthulhu statuette. Travelling to Oslo to speak with Johansen he finds out that the sailor had been murdered by two mysterious sailors, however, his widow hands him a manuscript written by Johansen. Reading the manuscript he learns of what the crew discovered on the island. The island itself was 'abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours.' Exploring a cavern they discover something horrific: Cthulhu has woken. Johansen is left virtually insane upon seeing the being and says that 'The Thing cannot be described.' He does attempt to do so saying it is 'the green sticky spawn of the stars' with 'flabby claws' and an 'awful squid-head with writhing feelers,' with it being the size of 'a mountain.' Only Johansen and one other shipmate manages to not immediately sent insane as Cthulhu sets off after them. On the yacht Johansen crashed the Alert into Cthulhu's head which starts reforming. 

Thurston ends his manuscript commenting that humanity has been briefly spared by Johansen. The beast will slumber some more as its head reforms giving humanity some time to breathe. However, he knows his time as come. Cthulhu in its 'Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men.' waiting to return and 'I know too much, and the cult still lives.' Like so many others the cult will be coming after him, and eventually Cthulhu will reawaken.
A sketch of Cthulhu by Lovecraft

Cthulhu History
The being known as Cthulhu was born eons ago. Before humans, before civilization, perhaps even before the Earth itself. Chtulhu was born on the distant planet Vhoorl descending from Yog-Sothoth, one of the cosmic entities known as the Outer Gods. Instead of being an Outer God Cthulhu is really a Great Old One (or perhaps a cousin of them), one of the malignant beings who once ruled over the Earth and were worshiped long before humans evolved. Cthulhu arrived on the Earth centuries ago, long before humans appeared, building a great city called R'yleh on the now lost continent of Mu. Here he was worshiped by various ancient races, quite possibly by the Mi-go from the planet Yuggoth. A great war erupted between the ancient beings and entities over the Earth which resulted in the Earth being divided between them. Eventually Mu was sunken and R'yleh vanished. Cthulhu went to sleep waiting to return but in the meantime his legacy would create a cult readying the world for his eventual return. Meanwhile, humanity would subconsciously fear his return. Our depressions, our anxieties, our unexplained anger are all because of Cthulhu. Humanity collectively fears Cthulhu waking up again.
A depiction of Yog-Sothoth

The Necronomicon
A fan version of the Necronomicon
There is a book named the Necronomicon, or as it was originally called the Kitab al Azif. Written in the eighth-century by Abdul Alhazred, 'The Mad Arab,' (Lovecraft was very racist) it details the horrors of time immemorial. Although the book doesn't actually exist you can get fan versions and some collections of Lovecraft's stories are collected under the title 'The Necronomicon.' Among the information contained in the Necronomicon includes how to summon Yog-Sothoth, information on the ancient beings who once inhabited Antarctica, and even a passage how to resurrect the dead. The chant of the Cthulhu Cult is written in the Necronomicon: That is not dead which can eternal lie.'
And with strange aeons even death may die. 

Thank you for reading. For future blog posts please see our Facebook page or follow me on Twitter @LewisTwiby. Also, those interested in history, classics and archaeology will be interested in the Retrospect Journal. This is the journal for the University of Edinburgh's History, Classics and Archaeology department which I am very privileged to be one of the editors for it. If you're interested in History, Classics and Archaeology, (or even writing for it), feel free to check it out. Thanks and next week will be the last week of 2017's Month of Horror.

Friday, 13 October 2017

13 Facts about the Friday the 13th series

Jason, star of the show
Finally a Month of Horror coincides with a Friday the Thirteenth. What better way to continue 2017's Month of Horror but by looking at one of the most famous horror movie franchises of all time. Jason Voorhees is easily one of the icons of not only the horror genre but also 1980s popular culture. Only perhaps Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street manages to have the same standing. Several years ago I did a piece of trivia for each entry in the film series, (here it is if you're interested), so today we're going to look at general trivia for the entire Friday the 13th franchise, 13 in fact. So let's look at the man behind the mask...

Warning- May contain spoilers

1- Alice Cooper made a song for the series
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is by far my favorite entry in the series and had a song made for it by one of my favorite artists. Alice Cooper is quintessential 1980s campy rock which made him perfect for Part VI. This entry was the first to stop taking itself seriously and just embraced the absurdity of a man giant zombie in a hockey mask hacking people to death. It made sense that the two should come together. Cooper recorded The Man Behind the Mask which featured in the movie. It was not even the only Alice Cooper song to be featured in the film. A further two songs were featured! One was Teenage Frankenstein which is a nod to how the Universal Frankenstein movies helped influence Part VI. The Man Behind the Mask also made a second appearance in the series. In a novel tie-in to the series released in 2005 characters are listening to the song.

2-There were going to be 13 entries into the series
As of writing there are twelve Friday the 13th movies. There are the ten original movies, the 2003 crossover where he fights Freddy Krueger and finally the 2009 remake. There were plans to make a sequel to the remake but poor reception, lackluster box office returns, and producer Michael Bay's anger over the remake caused plans for a sequel to be dropped. However, Paramount Pictures announced that they planned to make a new remake which would have been released on this exact day that I am writing this, (13 October 2017). It was going to be written by Aaron Guzikowski and it was going to be a quasi-origin story with it filling in the blanks of Jason's origins. Recently video game series have been having guest characters for cross promotion and Netherrealm studios had been very big on this. In Mortal Kombat X Jason, the Alien, the Predator and Leatherface (from Texas Chainsaw Massacre) all appeared and all have new movies, (Alien Covenant, Leatherface and a new Predator to be released in 2018). After the both financial and critical failure of Rings earlier this year it is likely that this is why the remake was cancelled before shooting began. The thirteenth Friday the 13th movie won't be happening for the foreseeable future. 

3- Friday the 13th TV series
The opening
Although we don't have a thirteenth movie we have a TV series. Despite having several people who worked or appeared in the movies working on the series, sharing the name, and the same font of the title it has nothing to do with the movies. Allegedly when it was released in the UK it went under the name Friday's Curse. Instead it revolved around some owners of an antique store hunting down cursed objects. There was a decision to have Jason's hockey mask to appear in the series but it was scrapped so the series could be independent. Also, there is a rumor that the final episode before the series was cut short was to focus around Jason's mask and possibly even confronting Jason. Despite being cut short people have spotted how it may have inspired Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The X-Files and the show Warehouse 13 has even been accused of plagiarizing this series!

4- Jason isn't the killer in every movie
Despite being one of the most famous horror movie character from the 1980s Jason is not the killer in two entries of the series. In the first movie it is actually his mother, Pamela Voorhees played by Betsy Palmer, who is the killer. Sent mad by her son drowning at Camp Crystal Lake when two camp counselors were busy having sex she decided to go on a killing spree when the camp reopened. Jason only appears at the end as a corpse, (in a possible dream sequence), dragging the last survivor underwater. The other entry is Part V. After being killed by Tommy Jarvis, (Corey Feldman), at the end of Part IV it is a copycat killer pretending to be Jason in perhaps the weakest entry in the series. Something which brings us to fact five...

5- Tommy Jarvis was supposed to be the new Jason
Tommy at the end
The fifth entry was entitled Friday the 13th: A New Beginning as that was the intention of it. Throughout the movie it had been hinting that after the events of Part IV that Tommy Jarvis had been driven to madness by Jason's murders and was now the copycat killer. However, we find out that instead a character who had about five minutes of screentime with no dialogue was actually the killer. At the end Tommy dons the infamous hockey mask and armed with a knife goes to attack one of the other survivors, (pictured above). Thanks to Jason coming back to life in Part VI this scene has been assumed to be a dream sequence but originally this was meant to make Tommy the new Jason. Tommy was meant to be the new murderer and the original opening was supposed to reaffirm this. Originally it was going to open with Tommy attacking hospital staff immediately after the events of the previous movie, fighting his way to the morgue where Jason wakes up, and then Tommy wakes up from a dream. Through poor reception from both fans and critics it is likely that Tommy becoming the new murderer was dropped in favor of resurrecting Jason.

6- Tom Savini made the first iconic effects
Savini working on Jason in the first movie
Tom Savini is well known among fans of horror movies as he is a special effects artist and actor. He became well renowned for his effects, as well as acting, in Dawn of the Dead which led him to being nominated for a Saturn Award for make-up. Although Dawn is by far his best work he has managed to create groundbreaking effects in everything that he has worked on. He has worked on two movies in the franchise: the first and the fourth. It is no coincidence that these two have some of the most graphic kills in the series. Savini is extremely good in creating realistic gore and he went full out on Friday the 13th. Not only making the gory kills he also made Jason himself. Above you can see the first steps in creating the rotting corpse of Jason which jumps from the lake at the end of the movie. 

7- The series was meant to end several times
Friday the 13th was never intended to have so many sequels. Initially it was meant to be a trilogy with Part III ending with Jason dying and staying dead at the end of the movie. However, Paramount was not content in having Part III being Jason's last killing spree, mostly because it made a profit of over $34 million. It was decided that the series should end with the fourth movie. It was even entitled The Final Chapter to signify that this was to be the last entry of the series. Due to Tommy looking disturbed staring into the distance it was left up to the audience to decide what this meant. With it making over $19 million it was decided that the audience needed a new entry. In 1993 it was decided to end the series with the ninth entry: Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. This movie literally ends with Jason going to Hell, (and another character dragging the last image of Jason with him), and that actually ended the series for six years until Jason X literally took Jason to space. 

8- Horror Crossovers
Freddy vs. Jason
We already know that Jason has met other horror icons with 2003's Freddy vs. Jason where he battles Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street. This was not the first time that Freddy met Jason though. As mentioned in the previous point another character dragged Jason's last image to Hell at the end of the ninth entry. The movie ends with Jason's mask in the desert where Freddy Krueger's hand burst from the sand and drags it to Hell. Part VI was even intended to be a battle between the two but it was cancelled when Paramount could not obtain Freddy's rights. The ninth entry also contains a reference to another film series. Almost an hour into the movie you can very visibly see the Necronomicon prop from the Evil Dead franchise. Based off of the Necronomicon from H.P. Lovecraft's famous mythos the Necronomicon brings the zombie like Deadites to life. Due to this cameo we got the comic book Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash where Freddy tries to get back at Jason from Freddy vs. Jason by using the Necronomicon in Jason's hut. Then Ash from The Evil Dead finds out and tries to stop them. One last thing is that another horror icon was meant to appear in Freddy vs. Jason but it was cancelled due to how expensive the rights were. Freddy and Jason were meant to be dragged to Hell where they become shackled by chains. Then Pinhead from Hellraiser would come out and say 'Gentlemen, what seems to be the problem?'

9- Video Game Easter Eggs
The game
Earlier this year a video game was released where you either play as a camp counselor trying to survive or play as Jason trying to massacre them. This game contains so many references to the movies. Many of the counselors are inspired by the characters from the movies, many of Jason's kills are directly from the movies, Jason's costumes are exactly like his film variants, and Jason even smashes through doors in a similar way to how he does it in Part VI. These are not the only references. The Higgins Haven map has a damaged bridge which is damaged in the exact same way in how the bridge was damaged in Part III. To kill Jason you have to combine several ways how Jason is killed in the movies. One of the female characters have to wear Pamela Voorhees' jumper and the Tommy Jarvis player has to deal the killing blow.

10- Many Actors
Kane Hodder
Ten people have played throughout the history of the movies. The first was Ari Lehman who portrayed Jason as a child in the first movie. Kane Hodder is the person to have played the character the most and is well regarded by fans. Hodder has played Jason in every entry of the series between Part VII and Jason X. There was a controversy with fans when Hodder wasn't cast as Jason in Freddy vs. Jason as director Ronny Yu wanted someone to tower over 5'10'' Robert Englund who was portraying Freddy Krueger. Yu wanted it to be a 'David v. Goliath' type match so Ken Kirzinger was cast instead. Recently Hodder has been recast as Jason with serving as the killer via motion capture with the new Friday the 13th Game.

11- Mortal Kombat Appearance
As earlier mentioned Jason has appeared in the hit fighting video game Mortal Kombat X, possibly as a way to advertise the now cancelled thirteenth movie. Jason was a DLC, (downloadable content), which the player would have to buy in order to play. There Jason would be able to fight Mortal Kombat's ninjas, gods and monsters. Or alternatively you could have Jason fight Jason. Jason was released at the same time as the Predator and later was joined by the Alien and Leatherface. Jason and Leatherface weren't the first horror characters to appear in Mortal Kombat. In the previous game, entitled Mortal Kombat but referred to as MK 9 by fans, Freddy Krueger was a possible playable character. Like with Jason his inclusion may have been a way to cross promote the then recent Nightmare on Elm Street remake.

12- The famous stalking noise
Those who have watched the movies will recognize the above noise. When Jason is stalking or about to murder someone this sound is played. There is actually some meaning behind it according to the original score composer Harry Manfredini. Normally people say that the sound is 'chi, chi. chi, ha, ha, ha' but instead it really is 'ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma'. Manfredini has said that in the first movie it is really representing Jason saying 'kill, kill, kill, mom, mom, mom' as Pamela believes that Jason is telling her to kill people. In the later films it is shown that Jason is killing seemingly on Pamela's orders. In Part V it is changed to 'ki, ki, ki, ta, ta, ta' if you listen carefully. This is a subtle nod to how it is now Jason telling Tommy to kill.

13- Possible fan theory
The original Friday the 13th is effectively a poor attempt to replicate the horror classic Halloween with a regular human committing the murders, and initially it was assumed that Jason dragging the last survivor into the lake was a dream. That is until Jason actually returns and kills the only two characters to survive the previous movie. Fans wondered how did Jason age up if he was a corpse child at the end of the first movie. Was he actually alive the entire time? A fan theory has cropped up based on the Necronomicon's cameo in Jason goes to Hell. There is a theory that Pamela Voorhees discovers the Necronomicon and decides to bring Jason back. The murders that she committed throughout the movie were then actually part of a blood ritual to bring Jason back which became complete when Pamela was beheaded. After his first appearance he rapidly ages to the age he would have been if he had not drowned. 

Thank you for reading. If you would like to keep up with the blog please see our Facebook or follow me on Twitter @LewisTwiby.