Over at Polite Dissent (previously mentioned here), one of the regular features is titled "Your Moment of Psychic Nosebleed Zen". In it, intrepid physician and medicine-in-comics blogger Scott writes about instances of a very common trope in comics and science fiction. To quote the TV Tropes Wiki:
Purely mental battles are hard to show with special effects. Therefore, when a character with psychic powers pushes them to the limit, or when a character is under mental attack, often you'll see a thin trickle of blood oozing from their nose.
Recently, Scott posed a question to his readers: what was the first appearance of the psychic nosebleed, in comics, literature, or film?
Last Tuesday after our intensive German class, The Wife and I headed over to Elliot Bay Books. We were hunting a copy of Dzur, the latest novel in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series. Having just been released that day, it wasn't out on the shelves yet, we were told. "We'll wait," we replied, and so we did until we had a copy in our hot little hands. (Capsule review: Good, but now I want another one. For a full review, try here.)
Now, at this point you may be asking yourself, "Just who is this Steven Brust character?"—and you'd be right to do so. For the answer to your question, let's turn our attention to the pages of Marvel Comics...
Every so often, I get worried that the original inspiration for this blog—linguistics in science fiction, in case you've lost track—is too specialized to interest more than a tiny minority of specialists. Whenever I start to think that way, though, I always seem to stumble on a blog based around an even more improbable idea. Case in point: Polite Dissent, a blog focused on the field of medicine as it's represented in comic books. The author regularly puts up "Picture Quiz" posts (like this one), where he includes a page from a comic book portraying a medical scene, asks how many mistakes his readers can find, and later posts the answers (like these). They're great fun to read, even if, like me, you don't know much about doctorin' and such-like.
Having read some pretty positive reviews, I picked up the trade paperback of Warren Ellis's science fiction comic Ocean last week. It sounded like an interesting read—it's not a hybrid superhero/SF book like Adam Strange, it's straight-up science fiction—but unfortunately, the science in the science fiction was bad, bad, bad. I'm willing to play along and suspend my disbelief, and I'm even willing to adjust my suspenders of disbelief to the genre (e.g. I don't complain about the non-silent space ships in Star Wars), but the mistakes in Ocean were so egregious I wanted to throw the book against the wall. Worse, several of them were linguistic, including linguists' favorite misconception: the number of Eskimo words for snow.
[Warning: spoilers after the jump. I'm not going to spoil every detail of the story, but I am going to mention the Big Surprise in order to make fun of it.]
In an article in Slate, Dana Stevens laments:
If only it were possible to monitor all the channels at once from a wall-size bank of television monitors, like a crazy millionaire in the movies!
Hmm, the image of an evil genius watching a wall of TVs is really familiar. Where's it from?
On my about page I mention comic books as one of my interests, but I haven't written anything substantial about comics yet. Here's the first tidbit, an eerily prescient quote from Uncanny X-Men #189, "Two Girls Out To Have Fun!", originally published in January 1985 and now available again in the (black-and-white) trade paperback Essential X-Men Vol. 5.