A New Pet for an Old Bear

Following up from my post about the Scourgestalker Hunter armor (black recolor), what pet goes well with the Bear In Black?

According to Elynea, an obsidian kitty from the Molten Front.

The what to the who now? Ain’t that the place with a hundred different spiders, all sharing one thing in common… they’re spiders, as in ew?

I may have to turn in my Hunter card, but I haven’t been spending all that much time hunting rare pets this expansion. I have my Devilsaur, I got Barry the blue Triceratops from the Isle of Giants, I tamed a really pretty rare tiger in Jade Forest that required some fun tracking/stalking skills… yeah, that’s about it.

My pets are like my friends, I tend to hang out with the same ones forever.

So. Challenge mode pets from Molten Front.

I’ll admit, I went and did a few of the challenge spiders when they were first added in the Molten Front, but I stopped that once Pandaria came out. It didn’t seem quite as sporting, and I don’t like spiders. Also, Pandaria had awesome tracking challenge pets for hunters, so cool.

I must have been too hasty. Obsidian challenge kitty in Molten Front? Totally missed that one.

A quick scan of Petopia revealed that a black gem cat, a rare named Skarr, could indeed be found in the Molten Front.

Kinda pretty. Okay, sure. Let’s do it.

We’re sifting the final embers of a dying expansion now, I’m sure I’ll be able to just pop over to the Molten Front and snag it up. He’ll just be lying there like a diamond on a black sandy beach. Anybody that ever wanted a rare already has them by now, right? RIGHT?

I know tone of voice doesn’t come through very well, so let me explain. That was sarcasm. This too. Hmm, okay, most of this holy shit my entire writing style is sarcasm WTF.

It all started as a whim.

From such flimsy threads are spun the steel cables of obsession.

First, where is Skarr normally found, and how do I get there?

The Molten Front, my lad, where adventure and fortune await! Also, endless dailies to get satchels for chances at pets, let’s not go there.


The route to Skarr is simple indeed. Step through the portal found in Mount Hyjal, gaze upon the lush flame of the rock and flame and see all the flaming flame. And rock. Then head straight across the Alliance staging grounds for the big fields of flowing fire called the Furnace.

Fortunately, I’ve already completely unlocked the Molten Front on my Hunter, bought all the rewards and became bestest of buddies with them. I can just bop right on in, wave hi in passing and ride up the gentle grade of the Furnace.

Ow! Ow! Shit, that’s hot, DAMNIT I’M DEAD.

I guess fire still hurts, don’t it. Screw you and your percentage-based damage mechanics.

Okay, so how to SAFELY get past the fire of the Furnace? I can death run/rez past it, but repair bills are a thing. I’m cheap.

To get safely past the fires of the Furnace, all you need to do is complete the initial four daily quests, turn them in, and then go to General Taldris Moonfall who will offer you two follow up quests; The Molten Spire, and Into the Fire.

Into the Fire is a quest you can take that allows you to escort a druid who will slowly walk up the Furnace, putting out the flames as he goes. Just be patient and follow him from a few paces behind.

Voila! You don’t even have to turn it in, the flames are now suppressed and you can run around the Furnace all day long with impunity. Impunity. It’s like impish exuberance and annoying attitude, but with fewer letters.

Or, you know, you can just deathcharge it and eat the repair bill, whatever.

So there you are, facing the very simple parkour jumping challenge of the amazing disappearing/reappearing floaty rocks.

Yeah, so I died the first time, sue me.

There are two places Skarr can spawn, both of them marked in gold dots of the above map, courtesy of Wowhead. Both of these places are best accessed after you jump up to that floating island on the Northwest labeled Fireplume Peak.

As you can see from the following picture, Skarr appears on floating platforms just like this one.


Skarr also shares this spawn point with a rare gem-pattern crab named Karkin. I’m glad he does, because I was able to test the taming process out on Karkin, who spawned long before I ever saw a Skarr.

So, you see where I’m standing? You see the player out there on the floating rocky bit?


What I found, much to my profound shock, was that Molten Front is cross-server, and the farming for Skarr is still fierce. Annoyingly, trollingly so.

It was a rare stretch of time when there wasn’t at least one other hunter somewhere in sight while I stood there waiting for a spawn. I’d stand there for a few hours, and hunters would pop in and out checking, run past, ride past, jump onto the platforms and sit, stand on top of me, fire their traps onto the platform (including fire and snake traps), flag PvP on the rocky bit, you name it.

Totally amazing.

Something about all of this took what was an idle whim and forged within me a strong desire to stick with it. I spent many hours over the last few days standing there with NPC Scan waiting to tell me when Skarr appeared. About all I did since my last post, really.

Fortunately NPC Scan has a honking loud klaxon to warn you when it sees a rare, so I could read my book while waiting.

Silly. I must have told myself a dozen times I didn’t really care that much about the pet. I never heard of it before this week, is it really going to kill me to go hunt for a cool spirit wolf like Skoll or Karoma?

I even followed up on that, telling myself that this time was really and truly the last time, by Elune I am leaving Molten Front and this time I’m not coming back, I’m going to go to The Storm Peaks and wait until Skoll appears. If that many hunters are all desperate for the kitty, they can have him!

Apparently, the perversity is strong with this one. I kept slinking back. “Just a few more hours can’t hurt. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky.”

I got so annoying about camping for this pet, that while I ran out to do chores Cassie would sit at my desk prepared to tame him should he happen to spawn in those scant few minutes I was away from my keyboard.

I even found myself getting up super early before work to spawn in and see if he was there. Nope, just other hunters hanging around, hoping for rare lightning to strike.

Whether it be Skarr or Karkin who appears, they seem to have about a three to seven hour timer. Not sure if cross-server affects that at all.

I know I saw three Karkins while I was out there waiting for a Skarr to appear. So random is random.

Of course, patience does pay off sometimes. Also, blind crazy luck.

Saturday evening, we were all tired after a fun day out and about, so I offered to run out for Taco Bell.  Cassie, darling enabler of obsession that she is, offered to watch the computer for me, but I told her to just log off. If Skarr appears it’s not like someone deserving won’t get it, right? Just as long as it’s a hunter that tames the rare it’s all good.

Just please, not another Rogue killing the rares just to piss of the hunters, which yes, I was privileged to witness during my vigil, accompanied by the broadcast howls of outrage.

I got back with a sack of tacos, only to find that she had spent the entire time watching for Skarr.

No, the kitty didn’t spawn.

I left Beartrap standing there while we went upstairs to eat. I figured even if I missed Skarr, at least NPC Scan would tell me he appeared so I could relax for at least three hours as the timer reset. Right? Maybe I could take a catnap, come back and camp the rest of the night.

HAH I’m too old for that.

I could get up really early before work though.

After about 5 minutes munching on tacos, I darted downstairs to hit the spacebar, make Beartrap hop about so he didn’t go afk.

I saw the klaxon had gone off.

Sure as hell, Skarr had appeared in those few minutes of my eating tacos.

For want of a taco, a rare cat was lost.


Of course, I look closer, and there was someone sitting out there on the platform, someone… looking closer… is that a gnome?

A gnome that looked like a metal cat?

Wait, what the f*&)? HE’S STILL THERE?

There Skarr was, still sitting there and staring right at me, as if taunting me to tame him. Or to show me that I could have had him, but I was a second too slow as some other hunter is taming him right now any second move move move omigod where is the Tame button oh shit where did I move it why the bloody hell did I move it on my bar oh right I put it next to the Counter Shot button HOLY SHIT COUNTER SHOT.

Not that my sudden buck fever was warranted. For what I swear was the first time in three days, there wasn’t another hunter in sight. Anywhere.

Now, there is a trick to taming Skarr, although the Glyph of Tame Beast is a massive help.

You don’t have to be standing on the same platform he is to tame him, you can do it at range. He won’t chase after you.

What he WILL do is cast fireballs at you, and will usually start with a long cast time spell called Fieroclast Barrage. If he gets it off, it stuns you, interrupting your tame, and also every time he gets any spell off, whether it’s Fieroclast or a regular fireball, he gets a 10% cast speed haste buff.

You want to have your Counter Shot ready to interrupt the Fieroclast… but dear god make sure you’ve got it bound on a macro with a /stopcasting on it, or after you interrupt you’ll autoshot him and could easily kill him.

I can’t even imagine the sad, salty tears if a poor hunter interrupted the cast and ended up killing him with an autoshot.

I WAS prepared, oh yes I was, and with shaking hands I began the tame, properly interrupted the Fieroclast Barrage and began taming again, finally catching him.

Lucky, oh so lucky.

Every time a rare spawns, someone has to be the lucky player to be there at just the right time, and this time that lucky player was me.

Allow me to introduce you to my little friend.

I call him Facet.




As you can see, the Eye of Eternity was no match for a talented kitty like Facet.

Elynea was right. Facet really does fit that armor style well.

Also, have I mentioned how much I love the Scourgestalker shoulders on a male panda? It’s so nice to have shoulders that make a panda look muscular instead of tubby.

Thank you for the suggestion on the pet, Elynea. And I totally blame you for the hours I spent obsessing over it. Blame!

Hunting Something New

Tonight I’ve checked off another desire from the expansion… I’ve finally replaced the outfit my Hunter has sported from Cataclysm with something new to take into the Warlords era.

It may not be new, but it’s new to me.


I mentioned on a blog post quite some time ago that I liked my Firelands outfit, but I’d love to gather together the black Scourgestalker pieces from Ulduar 10.

I just never did anything about it, because busy. So, so busy.

I’m really glad I did it though, you know? I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Along the way, I learned a lot of things about Ulduar while romping around in the playground of the Titans.

There is a big difference between soloing something and raiding with a team; time on site.

When you’re with a team, the focus is always on moving your ass as quickly as possible to the next fight, and once AT the fight, in killing the boss as quickly and cleanly as possible. It’s all about time management and efficiency. Nobody wants to be that one person that drags the whole team down.

When you’re by yourself, you have all the time you care to take to get screenshots, drive around, mess with different vehicles, poke your nose into all the nooks and crannies and generally be a pain in the ass to the Titans.

Take Flame Leviathan on ten player mode and the trash on the run up.

It is accurate to say the reason Ulduar wasn’t on my roflstomp list was the trash and Flame Leviathan. The few times I’d gone in solo, without any research, the trash took so long that once I got to FL I wasn’t all that interested in figuring out what’s what. Also, I’d always drive a tank, and when you kill the last defender in front of the gates, Flame Leviathan instantly breaks through, aggros on you, the energy barrier springs up trapping you in with him, and you either kill him RIGHT NOW when you’re already wounded or you die before you ever get started.

It’s annoying, and helped convince me to go do something else the few times I tried.

Well, if you bother to do a little light reading on WoWhead, you find out that Flame Leviathan with the towers crushed is easily soloable. Only problem is wading through a half hour of trash to bloody well GET there.

On ten player, if you talk to Brann first to activate easy mode, then get in a tank and set forth to crush all the trash and topple the towers, it’s a long slog to get to the big bad tank boss. It’s really the only hard part, staying awake while slowly crushing trash.

Ah, how nice it would be if your tank SPEED also scaled with your iLevel the way your health and DPS does.

Anyway, I always took a tank to kill trash and topple towers. In a group, that meant other people in turret, or trying to race to each tower and wave of trash.

Running it solo, I found out that when you’re in the driver seat of a tank, you can click on the turret position on the vehicle icon on your screen, and you will instantly move up there. You don’t have to leave the vehicle first!

My biggest annoyance had always been having to chase all them little dwarves in the tank to crush them under my treads. You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but those little legs can move!

Now I know I can drive the tank up to a tower, smash it, then pop into the turret and rocket the hell out of all the scurrying mobs. Saves time all around.

Bonus points, the turret rockets do MASSIVE damage to all the big wandering giants!

So once I learned that, I had an answer for getting killed by Flame Leviathan at the start of the fight, too. Just drive the tank to extreme range (outside the area the energy barrier springs up) and use the turret rockets to aggro and kill the last gate defenders! Boom, they die, Flame Leviathan breaks through the gate, and I can safely drive my tank away to reset.

Beartrap no go boom. The sheer novelty of it.

So, what else?

To solo Flame Leviathan on ten man mode, all you have to do is get in a Devastator (one of those catapult thingies), drive it just inside the gate area, then hop out and get in the other, drive up and park right next to the first. You get two in 10 man mode, and they have a purple barrle catapult mode that does massive damage to FL. You just start shooting Flame Leviathan with purple barrels from the first Devastator until you run out, then jump out of that Devastator, run over to the second one, hop in and finish him off.

My hunter is only flex geared, and I was able to destroy Flame Leviathan with only one Devastator before running out of purple goo to shoot, so the second one is really just a “I missed a few shots” backup. It’s really that easy.

Suddenly, a whole new world of soloing awesomeness was opened unto me. With the Flame Leviathan barrier become nothing more than tissue beneath my feet, there is a whole raid to wander around in like a lost cub looking for honey.

And all the bosses were easily soloed, right up until Thorim. But more on that in a bit.

I took my time wandering around, and I did no research at all on the bosses. Hard modes? Just do what feels good!

Like killing each of the Iron Council one at a time, and damn that little dwarf I left for last is a baddass little prick, grrr, THERE! Oh, there was an achieve for killing him last, okay.

Or Hodir. You kill him without ever stopping and you’ll get an achievement for not getting all frosty, JUST like when killing the last boss in the Nexus. Plus kill him quick enough and there is bonus loot. Who doesn’t like bonus loot?

The most fun was getting to Mimiron and hitting that gorgeous, big honking red button. OMG that red button, who can resist it’s siren song, it’s sensuous allure. I want to do bad things with that button.

I learned three very, very important things soloing Mimiron after getting up close and dirty with his button.

First, self-healing abilities are awesome. Instead of Iron Hawk, going with Spirit Bond for the constant self-healing is overpowered and makes a huge difference.

Second, you have to spread your DPS on phase four across all three units so they die within 10 seconds of each other. Somehow, over the years I’d forgotten that fact.

Third… don’t kill the little fire extinguisher bot dudes. They’re just trying to help in their little halon way. If you DO go kill-crazy and shoot them as fast as they appear… well, don’t bitch about all the fire covering the floor, it’s your own damn fault.

On the subject of Mimiron… the tram! Oh my, that tram! I’d never actually taken the tram before, I’d just teleported straight to Mimiron’s launching point. That was a place to explore all on it’s own. So cool!

So much of Ulduar is just… well, neat. And pretty.

Thorim is the only real pain in the ass, because while a SKILLED Hunter can apparently solo Thorim, I found it to be too damn tricky to run back and forth from arena to tunnel trash and back, trying to keep from resetting the attack and dying to a ball of bloated boom boom lightning. Also I’m too lazy to buy or make speed pots, apparently.

The thing with him is, someone has to stay in the main arena room while someone else opens the gate and runs the tunnel gauntlet to get up there behind Thorim and push him over the edge. Kinda hard to do that solo. It can be done! Just tricky. That whole skill thing.

So if you really need to kill Thorim, the General and Yogg-Saron in Ulduar, you’re gonna want a buddy. I’ve been really lucky in having friends come join me for that last bit while I was in there, so it was easy to finish it up.

Me, I really needed to kill Yogg each time. I wanted his pants!

Last night, we killed Yogg, I stole his pants and I put them on immediately. They may have been dripping in green ooze, a bit smelly and tinged with crazy evil, but darling they look FABULOUS.

I can see making Ulduar a regular thing. Just gonna need to find a friend so we can always kill Yogg. I’m sure he’s got other goodies we can wear (after wiping away the goo).

I’ve wanted to complete that Hunter set for transmog a long time now, and there is something about it that feels perfectly balanced to me. The Firelands set makes a dramatic statement, but the shoulders are very narrow compared to my big bear belly. I look at it, and I look… fat. Which is a totally acceptable look for a bear, really!

The Scourgestalker set, on the other hand, has imposing shoulders that make the whole thing very… solid. Those padded shoulders, they have such a slimming effect, don’t you think?

Omg I rediscovered 80s fashion! First padded shoulders, what next, a power tie? Big bow for the hair?

Plus, that eyepatch looks really sweet with it, it comes from a quest chain in Blades Edge Mountains, and of course the Wolfslayer’s Sniper Rifle adds authority.

Now I have the hardest decision of all to make.

What pet can I tame that will look awesome with this set? I can’t run around with a big flame-red Devilsaur! That’s like wearing white leather after Noblegarden, it’s just not done.

I suggested finding a big black wolf, and my son said I couldn’t do that. The wolf would keep eyeing my rifle, and feeling sad.

What pet can I find to accessorize with my new black metal armor?

Oh geez, and even worse, I have to figure out new ground and flying mounts to color coordinate!

I need swatches. Someone get me swatches, this is serious!


So Long Old Friend – the Dead Authenticator Blues

Last night, I lost a good friend. A true friend.

A friend that has been there for me for six years, keeping me safe, always looking out for me, protecting me from the evil that lurks in the dark corners of the world.



My Blizzard Authenticator finally died.

I feel cold and alone, now. I log in and wonder, have they found me? Is this the moment when they sense my weakness and attack again?

Will I find my character standing there, naked, wearing only a cock ring?

I purchased my authenticator in the very first wave when they were released, shortly after the original Blizzard announcement in June of 2008.

In all that time, my little Authenticator remained faithful and true, and served me well, granting me safe access to a world of wonder.

Keep in mind, I am one of the many who have had their accounts hacked in the past. Oh my, yes. Such a lovely little Christmas present THAT was.

Since today brought the announcement of the Warcraft 10th Anniversary and we’re all being invited to take a trip down memory lane, I invite you to click that link to an old post of mine from 2007, wherein I regale you with the drama from my account dickery hackery lock on Christmas Eve, 2006. You might detect a touch of vitriol as I discuss in extremely accurate (and profane) terms my Blizzard customer service experience circa 2006.

Blizzard, you’ve come a long way. But let’s be honest, you had a long way to go.

Love ya. /mucha smoocha

Oh damn, was I pissed. PISSED.

That was then and this is now, and my happiness is brought to you by the letter AUTHENTICATOR BITCHES.

Wait, that ain’t a letter, except by the editor.

I still remember the day the postman rang once, and brought me my little bundle of joy.

That moment is one that can still bring tears of joy to my eyes. Such strong, true feelings.

Okay, so the feelings are mostly FUCK YOU HACKERS DIE PRICKS MUA HA HA HA HAAAAAA. Ha. Ahem.

They’re still feels.

Fortunately, my period of vulnerability will be a short one.

Replacement authenticators are available on the Blizzard store for only $6.50, in stock, free shipping. Yes please and thank you.

You might prefer the totally free mobile authenticator app, maybe you think you don’t need any but hell, free Core Hound pup, why the heck not.

Me, I like the tangibility of my security solution.

I like to have that physical embodiment of solid protection, like a Paladin bubble protecting my account from all the little hacker pricks the world over.

Holding the Authenticator in my hand feels like… victory.

My PSA to you, if you’ve been using an authenticator as long as I have, think about replacing it soon, and ABSOLUTELY make sure you enable SMS protect on your cell phone of choice with Texting plan, it makes updating your account, changing passwords and removing dead authenticators absolutely hassle free. Word up.

Firelands – Now With Improved Shiny!


So, there’s this thing. It’s a staff, and its freaking legendary.

You can get it by running the Firelands raid for, well, for like forever. And then a little after that.

You may or may not know that I’ve been running Firelands every single week on Monday night with battletag friends, proving I have an understanding of the meaning of work.

If you don’t know, the formula for work is the amount of force you exert times the distance the thingie traveled in the direction you wanted it to go.

In other words, if you use all your strength to push on a rock all day long and it doesn’t move so much as a single inch, you didn’t do any work.

By that definition, I don’t get any work done at my job. Ever. That fucking boulder goes nowhere.

I’m getting lots of work done in Firelands, though. Every week we move that rock just a little closer to my goal.

I honestly believe that I will be done with the legendary quest, oh, about a week before the pre-expansion patch comes out. We’ll see if I did the math right.

You’d think I know Firelands pretty well, right? I mean, we kill all the bosses in Firelands-10 heroic mode every single week. Sometimes with six or seven of us, sometimes with just two or three.

You’d think, right?


Last night we were doing a special style of Firelands, we ran it in normal mode and focused on getting Elynea through the Delegation questline for the Legendary, gathering and charging the fragments from the first four bosses.

We completed the collecting and killed the special bonus boss, but it might have taken us a few tries to get all the stones we needed from Alysrazor.

Because reasons.

See, here’s the thing. No, really, it wasn’t my fault, I can explain everything.

The first time we tried Alysrazor, we were all set and Elynea was raring to get her pyreshell fragments from the eggs. It seemed like the easiest boss of all to complete, because all you needed to do was grab three of those fragments, and one dropped from each egg. There are two eggs per phase, so logically we only have to do two phases of fragment gathering before setting the thing and letting it eat an explosion.

Well, Elynea might have been a tad bit too eager. Maybe. Last boss and all, you know how it is. She was very… eggcited.

There she is, standing in the middle of the area waiting for eggs to fall from the sky, and when they do she is RIGHT on top of them, reaching for the fragments.

Couldn’t actually gather the fragments, though, because there were these damn hatchlings trying to eat her, chasing her all over the place, and she couldn’t lose aggro and my was she getting frustrated at those darn tanks.

Get some aggro tanks, what the heck, amiright?

Except, ha, the hatchlings focus on whoever is the first person they see/closest person to them. They fixate on you, and think you’re the mama. Or want to eat you, whatever.

By the time we realized Elynea was spending her time running around the whole area being pecked to death by big bird, the fragments despawned.

No problem, carry on, right?

Second pass with the hatchlings, everyone but the tanks stand well the heck away from the center, and she gets her two fragments. Only one more to go!

Third pass with the hatchlings, she gets her last fragment, gets all set, waits for Alysrazor to explode… and waits… and waits… and we took too long.

Bird never did blow up.

Apparently, you gotta close escrow on the fire crow before the end of the third cycle.

Too bad we found that out after she combined the fragments and dropped it. So we have to do the whole thing over including gathering three more fragments. And wipe, too, since there ain’t no enrage timer on the big bad bird.

We die creatively (and in some cases exhaustingly), run back in, and there we are waiting to get things started.

As I’m standing there, I’m exploring my surroundings as a bear is wont to do. I’m just lookin’ around at the ground.


I see something shiny there on the ground. It’s so pretty. So shiny.

I move closer to get a better look.

Sitting there on the ground is one of Alysrazor’s feathers!


I mean, look at it. It looks really cool, right?

I look at it, and my thought process goes exactly like this.

“Wow, that’s a molten feather.”
“It’s still sitting there on the ground.”
“It must not have despawned after the wipe.”
“I wonder if I can pick it up and run fast while we wait to start the fight.”
“I like to run fast.”
“What’s the worst that can happen?”

So, just so you know, and I’m saying this in the interests of performing a valuable public service, clicking on that feather is how you start the fight after a wipe.

Go figure, huh?

Who woulda thunk it.

Yeah… I suppose that does make more sense than that a molten feather just happened to still be lying there after the wipe.

Since some people (like Elynea) didn’t happen to be in range when I clicked on that pretty little feather, maybe we might possibly had to run like hell from Alysrazor all the way to the exit of the raid and run out.

Bonus points, who here knew the hatchlings would chase you all the way to the exit portal? Pretty cool, huh?


At least Elynea completed her Delegation quest and can now begin the glory that is gathering all those damn embers.

See, doesn’t that story just make you want to join me every Monday night at 7 central time? Don’t you just wanna LEAP into action?

Oh yeah, in a heartbeat. Sign my butt RIGHT up.

Grats, Elynea! You succeeded despite my very best efforts.

Movie Discussion – Guardians of the Galaxy (SPOILERS)

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy last Saturday night, and as of this writing the vast majority of media reviews I’ve seen, and the gushing of all my friends, seem to indicate that everyone else loved the movie as a fantastic, wonderful thing, best Marvel movie ever.

One thing I’ve heard said about it is that this is the ‘Star Wars’ for our generation.

I didn’t have quite that same reaction, and I’d like to talk about it because I actually know and enjoyed the source material, and I’m curious how that is tainting my viewing of the movie.

This is a discussion where I’m going to totally geek out. I loved the source comics for Guardians of the Galaxy, the Annihilation storyline.

Weaving that into normal Marvel comics would be hard enough, and for what they’re doing, I think they did a great job. Mostly.

I really liked the movie, don’t get me wrong. For an origin tale with tons of necessary exposition to introduce you to the characters, settings and motivations it did very well.

They have already announced there WILL be a Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and I’m glad of that. I think the second movie, dealing with established characters and setting, will have even more room to go nuts and have fun.

But still. No movie is perfect, and since this is based on some extremely good comics that I love, it left me wondering why they made some of the changes they did, because they definitely detracted from my enjoyment of parts of the movie.

SPOILERS below this point.

It should come as no surprise that every character was modified from the comics to fit as part of their new team movie.

Drax deviated the most from the comics, and not necessarily for the better, but Drax as a character in the comics had an insanely complex and in some cases WTF backstory with Thanos. I can certainly appreciate someone looking at all that and saying, “Oh, hell no.”

Every character was changed. The appearances were the same, the style, but even Peter Quill was very different.
That’s okay, the movie was strong and it came off very well.

If there was one thing I carried with me leaving the theater that left a bitter aftertaste, it would be the treatment of Gamora in the film. And such a small thing, but even after a couple days I’m still irritated.

The universe of the movie is organic and funky.

It’s the Jurassic Park writ large, life will find a way, and it has, packed in every nook and cranny that could support it.

Space is filled with ancient planets that have gone through ups and downs, and in our modern age younger races stand on the shoulders of giants, in many cases scavenging a living by picking the bones left by the decaying elder races.

And I mean that literally.

You don’t get a sense of light years separating each world from the other.

It’s more immediate, everything is in your face, the teeming billions of the galaxy are in an inner-city ghetto of world tenements, each stacked right next door to it’s neighbor. Close enough to pop over for a cup of sugar or to loot some artifacts from a temple and crack your skulls.

That’s a good thing. Organic is good.

Making the universe feel funky? Outstanding.

Totally stands out, anything can happen here, and probably is in some far off corner.

And there ain’t a thing you as a person in this universe can do about it. Chaos is happening, the universe is too big, too unknown, too unknowable, too wild, and all you can do in this galactic shitstorm is the best you can to get by in your little part of it.

You can’t CONTROL it. There’s too much shit you can’t comprehend.

Seeing how all of these characters and others deal with this kind of universe is so much fun, offers so much potential.

So, Gamora.

In the Annihilation comics, Gamora is the female Riddick.

Think about that. Picture in your mind everything you know about Riddick as played by Vin Diesel. That is Gamora.

Except if anything, Gamora is much scarier, because she actively seeks out excuses to kill people. If she isn’t getting paid for it, she’ll kill you for fun, or because she’s bored, or so people won’t forget her reputation. Cold, ruthless, absolutely fearless.

In a universe filled with scary things possessing cosmic power, she is a cause for terror if you’re on her list.

Overall, they did a very nice job with her in the story.

My problem comes from the scene in the Kyln prison.

Remember, spoilers. PLEASE don’t read if you haven’t watched the movie yet.

There comes a point where Peter Quill, Rocket and Groot are sent as fresh prisoners to the Kyln prison. They are loosely allied with each other, and Gamora is with them but an outsider.

Gamora was just there to take the macguffin from Peter, and hasn’t had a special moment with anyone yet.

On the shuttle to the Kyln, Rocket makes it clear he has escaped from 22 previous prisons, and sees absolutely no reason why the Kyln should be any different. You want to break free of the Kyln, he’s gonna be the raccoon with the plan. Stick with him, he’s going places.

Once in the prison, Peter Quill has a scene where someone BIG makes it clear he’s about to make Peter his bitch. Rocket and Groot step in and face everyone down, it’s pretty cool.

Gamora has a scene where it’s shown how universally hated and feared she is, and Rocket points out she really does have a galaxy-wide rep as a badass assassin. It’s pretty clear the other prisoners intend to kill her first chance they get.

Peter Quill is being set up in the story as a bumbling young Han Solo. This is a good thing, he’s a rogue, he’s charming, but he’s inexperienced and relies on luck and improvisation rather than experience and planning. And he’s got a gooey center, it’s cute.

Cool so far?

So here is the problem.

Late at night, Gamora is shown being dragged through corridors of the prison by a small group of like 3 or 4 dirtbags, who clearly plan on killing her in some dark corner.

They drag her past a crowded room of sleeping prisoners, except for Peter who is wide awake and having a tender moment. He sees the fair damsel being dragged off to her doom, and decides to leap to the rescue.

Gamora is set up as a helpless damsel in distress for Peter Quill to save.

There is no explanation for how two or three pissant dirtbags managed to overpower the deadliest assassin in the known galaxy. One moment you see her stoic in her cell watching the door, the next she’s being manhandled down a corridor by a small group of thugs from central casting.

Now, don’t get all ‘oh shit another feminist for Gods sake shut up’ with me. Hear me out.

Picture in your head for one moment Vin Diesel as Riddick being hauled through that corridor by three or four meatsacks.

It’s okay, right? It’s like one of Riddick’s defining things. He gets taken by a group of scum, and he’s all right with it because he knows that he can kill ALL of them whenever he feels like it. You may think he needs rescuing, but the truth is he doesn’t. If he’s in chains heading somewhere, it’s because they’re saving him the effort of stealing a ship and flying it there himself.

Sure it may look dire, right up until the point that he shows everyone he’s just messing with them, before freeing himself and killing everyone in incredibly awesome ways.

That should have been Gamora. That is who the character in the comics is. Even if she was overpowered and hauled off by a crowd of dirtbags, it would have been part of a larger plan. Or because she’s bored and looking forward to turning the tables on them and seeing the look in their eyes when arrogance turns to fear.

As a fan of the comics, when I realized she really was overpowered and being dragged to her death, it was a big ‘bullshit’ moment.

The actual rescue and Peter Quill and Rocket and Drax stuff was good, don’t get me wrong. They used it to set the stage for Drax becoming a part of the group, and as they did it I can see it being fine with most people, but it felt totally unnecessary.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean, I’ll lay out an alternative way to reach the same result without using the damsel in distress bit.

Exact same everything as before, and we leave Gamora alone in her cell, Peter Quill and the others in their room with all the other male prisoners, and Drax having seen Gamora and clearly interested in watching her.

But here is where we deviate.

Gamora has no friends, she’s been dragged into prison with these idiots, and she was close enough to the rest of them in the shuttle to hear Rocket talk about his previous escapes and his intention to break out.

She is in the same group, and sees Peter Quill get told what a pretty little boy he is, and she sees Rocket and Groot face the other prisoners down.

Gamora knows people well enough to know that a scared prisoner isn’t going to fight you face to face if they can stab you in the back later when you’re asleep. She also knows people hold grudges, especially prisoners faced down in front of their peers. Everyone has to sleep sometime. And she could use an ally to get her off the Kyln.

She has reason to want to get into Rocket’s good graces, and she has seen Rocket is soft on Peter Quill.

Gamora knows something is coming. She watches and bides her time.
She has no problems with the other inmates. Someone may mouth off, but she tears him a new asshole, and everyone else backs off, reminded how she got her reputation. You don’t fuck with Gamora or you’ll get bloody and sore.

Late at night, as everyone is asleep, Peter Quill is grabbed by big ugly and a few cronies, who gag him and drag him out of the sleeping chamber. Sure as hell they’re pissed off for being embarassed in front of everyone earlier, and it’s time to make someone pay. But they’re afraid of Rocket and Groot, so they’re gonna take it out on Peter Quill. Fresh meat needs to be taught a lesson, they need to get some face back.

This is what Gamora was waiting for.

Gamora shadows Peter Quill and his captors, and when they’re getting all ugly and Peter is getting panicked, she leaps in and takes them down in Riddick-style moves that reinforce the core concept – you don’t fuck with Gamora.

Rocket shows up attracted by the noise, sees Gamora save Peter, now she’s got in ‘an’ with Rocket. Now she can get into their group and take part in their escape plan.

In this scenario, Gamora stays true to her character and reinforces being a total badass. She cynically analyzed the situation, determined a course of action that would get her what she wanted, and took action. No sentiment, just the appearance of sentiment.

There is still plenty of opportunity for character growth later, when she explains to everyone else why she betrayed Thanos and Ronin, and to have her steel heart warmed a teeny, tiny bit when the others put their lives on the line for what she believes in, and try and save Xandar. Which is what happens in the actual movie.

So what about Drax?

The scene introducing Drax was decent, but it would have worked just as well if he was stalking Gamora, followed her, was in time to witness her saving Peter, and then overheard her tell Rocket and Peter that she was betraying Ronin and was trying to get to something that Ronin wanted, and stop him from destroying the planet Xandar.

This puts Drax in the same spot as in the movie, but with more cunning and patience to achieve his true goal, killing Thanos (adjusted for the movie to include Ronin and anyone associated with Ronin).

Give Drax just the slightest amount of cunning to think through a plan, and he could have held off on revealing himself at all until the rest of the group started their prison break. Then he could use it to his advantage… kill Gamora, steal the macguffin, or choose a moment to save the team and earn his way into their escape.

Why help? Because this group was already pissing off Ronin and they were sure to be chased by Ronin if they fled. Also, she wants to save the innocents on Xandar which would resonate with Drax.

This gives the movie a chance to really focus on Drax unexpectedly stepping in and being a badass, saving the mission. You get a chance to see he’s valuable, not just a kill crazy psycho on an uncertain leash.

My only problem with the whole film is that one moment when the story took Gamora in that tired direction and it didn’t need to.

Putting Gamora in the position of a damsel in distress needing to be rescued cheapens her character, and is totally unnecessary to the story.

She’s not the damsel, she’s the ruthless killer. She isn’t a soft center needing to grow a hard shell, she’s hard all the way through, cynical and brutal, and her character development is that she is finally, just the smallest bit, by the barest fraction learning to feel something for someone other than herself, and putting herself out there for someone else is the risky move.

That one moment really disappointed me.

I really liked the movie overall, but because of how well the rest of the film played that one moment stood out for me even more.

Did you see the film without reading the comics? What was your take on it?