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Tag Archive: Darth Vader


Larry Hagman as Jr Ewing

With last night’s episode of the TV series Dallas on TNT, “The Furious and the Fast,” J.R. Ewing was shot while talking to his son on the telephone.  Shot again, that is.  And with the real-life passing of Larry Hagman eerily timed with this season’s wrap-up of J.R., there’s no bringing back J.R. this time around.  Viewers who watched Hagman play J.R. and Major Anthony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie among other series and movies, will say a final goodbye to both Hagman and J.R. with the funeral of J.R. in next Monday’s episode, “J.R.’s Masterpiece.”  The mayor of the city of Dallas, in real life, has declared next Monday “Larry Hagman Day.”

The reboot of Dallas has brought back many original actors from the 1978-1991 series, the most interesting of which is spin-off Knot’s Landing star Ted Shackleford returning as brother Gary Ewing in last night’s episode.  But along with Shackleford we’ve seen Patrick Duffy return as Bobby Ewing along with Linda Gray as Sue Ellen Ewing and Brenda Strong as Ann Ewing, all as series leads.  Then they added the classic series’ antagonist Cliff Barnes, played by Ken Kercheval, as a major plot twist, and even Charlene Tilton returning as Lucy Ewing and Steve Kanaly as Ray Krebbs.  What other series could you do something like this with and actually pull it off? Magnum, P.I.?

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By C.J. Bunce

We highlight them all the time here at borg.com.  But some of them don’t naturally come to mind when you think of cybernetically enhanced organisms–cyborgs, or borgs for short.  What makes a borg?  An organism, human, alien, or animal, who has been modified by technology or uses technology as part of or in place of another biological function.  We use this broadly, encompassing not only a long-accepted group of borgs that are more metal than man, but also robots or androids modified with biology or biomatter, although taken to the extreme this would seem to include the bioneural starship USS Voyager from Star Trek Voyager.

Regardless of how you define it, meet our borg.com Hall of Fame, always ready for new honorees…

With Marvel’s big premiere of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, we’ll begin with Tony Stark’s Iron Man.  Tony Stark is not advertised as a borg, but if your power source involves techno-gadgetry via an arc reactor and you have his fully integrated armor, we think that makes you a borg.  Whedon is very familiar with borgs, having created the character Adam, the nasty, almost unstoppable foe of the Scooby Gang in Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If Iron Man is a borg, should one of the oldest creatures of science fiction be considered a borg as well–Frankenstein’s monster?  How integral are those bolts and attachments to his survival anyway?  Does an external power source make a borg?  Did he ever have to regenerate?

And if Frankenstein’s monster makes the cut, maybe this spin-off fellow should, too:

Yes, Frankenberry, the only cereal mascot borg?  Are those pressure gauges on his head?  What functions do they serve?  Before we move forward very far in time, we also think we need to at least consider Maria’s doppelganger from Fritz Lang’s sci-fi film classic Metropolis as a possible borg.com honoree–a robot admittedly, but somehow transformed into a humanoid creation with flesh, used to replace the real Maria and wreak havoc across Metropolis:

From one of the biggest science fantasy franchises, Star Wars, Darth Vader began as Anakin Skywalker, but through his own rise to evil and subsequent downfall he became more machine than man:

He even caused his son to require borg technology by slicing off his arm and hand with his lightsaber, making Luke Skywalker a borg as well:

With Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we met an interesting new villain, General Grievous, a four-lightsaber wielding almost lobster-like biological creature made up of techno-armor and, in close-up are those reptilian eyes?  His apparent disfigurement and breathing problems hint at a back story that must be not unlike Vader’s.

In The Empire Strikes Back we also briefly met Lando Calrissian’s majordomo who possessed some type of brain adapter technology–we learn from action figures, trading cards and comics his name is Lobot:

And probably the very first cyborg to be referred to specifically as a “borg” (by Luke Skywalker, even), Valance was a cyborg bounty hunter in the early pages of Star Wars, the Marvel Comics series:

Some borgs are more cybernetic than organism, at least at first appearance.  This would include Doctor Who’s Cybermen:

and we’d learn even the Daleks were cybernetic organisms:

and the Terminators from the Terminator movie and Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series, very much more machine with a bit of organics (and even Arnold’s character called himself a “cybernetic organism”):

In Star Trek: First Contact the Borg Queen alters the android Lieutenant Commander Data in such a way so as to make Pinocchio a real boy:

giving real organic material to Data, (like Maria’s double above from Metropolis?) bringing him briefly into the realm of borg status, like Isaac Asimov’s Bicentennial Man:

and this even suggests the Tin Man from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz may be a rudimentary variant borg being along the lines of Frankenstein’s monster:

All humanoids or aliens modified to become The Borg of the Star Trek franchise clearly are good examples of cyborg beings, the most famous of which are probably Patrick Stewart’s Locutus:

the seemingly innocent Hugh:

and Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager:

On Earth we encounter humans all the time with bodies improved by borg technology.  Because of the OSI Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers were rescued from near death with enhanced biology and appendages to become the Bionic Man and Bionic Woman:

The British agent James Bond had to take on Doctor No, an evil scientist who took on his own technological enhancements because of medical maladies, bringing James Bond into the fold of genre franchises investigating a borg character:

Featured in a 1980s movie series and soon to be the subject of a new movie, Robocop:

showed us a variant on Austin and Sommers, and a bit like Iron Man, we have the government creating technology to make super-humans, and here, a superhuman police officer.  This is taken even further, making three animals into borgs for military use in the Eisner-nominated comic book mini-series WE3:

 …a far darker take on the classic cartoon character Dynomutt from Scooby Doo:

Inspector Gadget:

and Doctor Octopus (Doc Ock) in Spider-man 2:

 

both were borgs that made it into big-screen films.

In the DC Comics universe we have a newer Justice League featured member Cyborg, a football player/student who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, when his father’s lab goes up in flames and his father uses his own research to save his son from death:

Before that, Frank Miller envisioned a disfigured future world Green Arrow who would need his own prosthetic cybernetic arm in The Dark Knight Returns:

Mr. Freeze was an early borg villain in the Batman series:

In Marvel Comics Rich Buckler created Deathlok the Demolisher, another cyborg creation, and one of the earliest borgs in comics:

Add to that Marvel characters like Ultron, the “living” automaton:

Ultron’s own creation, named Vision, the “synthezoid”–

and the borg called Cable:

In the 1990s Jim Lee created the Russian borg in the pages of X-Men called Omega Red:

Long before these Marvel characters the cyborgs Robotman and Robotdog graced the pages of DC Comics in the 1940s, and yes, they were not just robots:

The modern Cylons from the reboot Battlestar Galactica TV series are borgs in the Terminator sense, robots made to look and pass for human.  And there were a bunch, not just background, but named characters, the most famous of which was the seductive Number Six:

  

Years before, Philip K. Dick would create more than one borg character in his novels and short stories, revealed to us the best as the Replicants in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner:

Several replicants appeared in the film:

 

…all indistinguishable from humans to the naked eye.

In the horror realm we have Ash, from Evil Dead and Army of Darkness, his arm a functioning chainsaw, and at least in the comic book, like the Star Trek borgs he has an interchangeable arm like a mega Swiss Army knife:

If we include Ash do we also need to include Cherry Darling from Planet Terror, since she has a rifle as a leg like Ash’s arm attachment?

Heck, even horrific camp troller Jason became a borg eventually in Jason X:

Todd MacFarlane’s Spawn comics had both the borg assassin Overtkill:

and the cybernetic gorilla Cy-Gor:

Speaking of borg beasties, even Japanese monster movies embraced borgs, having their hero Godzilla encounter Mechagodzilla:

and Gigan:

In the world of manga and anime we have Ghost in the Machine’s own borg girl Motoko Kusanagi:

leader of a group of borgs, and the villain Cell from Dragon Ball: 

Cowboy Bebop had the borg character Jet Black, which seems influenced by the design of Seven of Nine:

Akira had Tetsuo Shima:

And we have a new one to add to the list because of the film Prometheus, the creepy borg, David 8:

But he’s certainly not the first in Ridley Scott’s Alien universe.  Don’t forget Ian Holm’s Ash in Alien:

Lance Henrikson’s Bishop from Aliens:

and Winona Ryder’s Annalee Call from Alien: Resurrection:

But these are just the biggest examples of borgs in popular genre works.  Countless books, comics and short stories have introduced other borg beings, not to mention every other new video game.   What will be the next borg to enter the mainstream, with a new TV show or movie?

Should we add an Honorable Mention list to the borg.com Borg Hall of Fame, for beings resulting from the merging of humans with cyberspace?  Think of characters like Tron and Flynn from Tron and Tron: Legacy?  Or Neo and Trinity & Co. from the Matrix movies?  You can argue some of the above in or out of the list, but we’ll be visiting most of them here now and then.

We’ll update this list from time to time and feature it as its own page on the borg.com home page.

Marketed as a flip book for ages 8 and up, the newly released Star Wars: Darth Vader: A 3-D Reconstruction Log offers a high level overview of the internal make-up of the Empire’s #1 weapon of destruction, from his internal cybernetics to his “exoskeletal” integrated body armor.

As a 24-page board book, this newest look at Vader offers some fun insights, and is cleverly written from an in-world perspective.  The text provides that “The text of this record was salvaged from the memory logs of the two droids that performed the majority of Darth Vader’s procedures…”

Surprisingly, Darth Vader is not the optimal cyborg we might have expected, for certain practical reasons: “if not for the constraints imposed on the surgical team by the Empire’s budgetary issues, the results could have been even more impressive.”  Humorously, the book is sprinkled with excuses and shortcuts taken in the development of Vader’s final form.

The nicely designed book looks at main features behind Vader’s helmet, mask, chest armor, gloves, boots, belt, chest box, bodysuit, prosthetic limbs, implants, organic components, skeleton, nerves, and cape.  Text is accompanied by a stacked layering of each component, seen from the cover all together as the complete “lord of the sith.”

Some interesting tidbits from the book:

Vader’s waste processor is actually a recycling system similar to those employed by long-haul asteroid miners.

Vader has (had) his original lungs, but a breathing regulator replaced this function, and he uses an entirely artificial heart.

As revealed in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Vader’s right arm is entirely cybernetic, but unlike the rest of his cybernetics, it is of a Jedi medicine design.

Vader is a bit of a superhero, as his suit incorporates a body-weave that repels blasts and distributes energy across the suit, a bit like a cross of Batman and Superman.

Also like modern superheroes, the cape isn’t just for looks, as it helps filter contaminants into his breathing apparatus.

Star Wars: Darth Vader: A 3-D Reconstruction Log will appeal to the 6-12 year old Star Wars fan, and the writing is not dumbed down for that age level, adding a benefit to incorporate some expanded vocabularly to this reading group.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Why borg.com?

As you might already know, borg is the short version of cyborg, itself a shortened combination of the term “cybernetic organism.”  At its core a cybernetic organism is the juxtaposition between the present and the future—the evolved organic meets future technology, usually technology meant to enhance, improve or replace a biological function.  Today people with loss of limbs or other functions benefit from cybernetic improvements that didn’t exist just decades ago.  The seemingly unlimited boundaries and implications of these technologies have been pursued throughout popular fiction for years.

My first encounter with the concept of a cybernetic organism is like many peoples’—Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man.  In fact, the original working title of SMDM was “Cyborg.” Back in the 1970s one of my favorite toys and the first of many large action figures was this astronaut from the TV series.  He was the perfect archetype and a great introduction to the borg concept for kids back then. He explored both the good and the bad of mixing technology with biology, usually through the struggle he and his friend Jaime Sommers “The Bionic Woman” experienced adapting to these new enhancements.  Ultimately in science fiction a lot of time is spent focused on the pitfalls of this mix—Terminators dehumanize us.  Robocop and Darth Vader ultimately lose their human selves.  But let’s face it, the benefits can be amazing.

When I was ten years old I got my first pair of eyeglasses.  I remember reading my first comic books and thinking about the old “what if?” question:  If you could have any special power, what would it be?  The ability to fly like Superman?  The ability to move fast like the Flash?  To climb walls like Spiderman?  For me the answer was easy—I wanted perfect vision.  Steve Austin, the astronaut played by Lee Majors, crashed in a test flight, and because “we can rebuild him” because “we have the technology,” Steve got not only superior vision but superior physical strength and other powers, too.  Through my Six Million Dollar Man action figure I could literally see (through a window in the back of his head) Steve’s super vision.  But this was science fiction, right?  And who has six million bucks anyway?

 

Flash forward to the 21st century.  Science fiction meets reality, and not for six million dollars but more like six thousand dollars comes LASIK.  I found myself in an eye doctor’s laboratory with eye tests that looked like something out of 1950s sci fi TV serials—with flashing lights and lasers measuring the surface of my eye to the actual (gulp) restructuring of my eyes with a real-life laser beam.  Back in the 1970s I would have thought it possible, just not likely, that I could have my wish come true.  And the days of lesser technologies…eyeglasses and contact lenses…were a thing of the past for me.  Did I get to benefit from actual cybernetic technologies?  You bet!  Do I consider myself a bit of a borg?  I’m not telling, but I’ve been known to refer to my new sight as laser vision—a concept straight out of Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics.

I also just like “borg” over “cyborg” and “cybernetic organism”.  It’s less formal and I hope to drop all formality with this website.  My own first encounter with the word “borg” was in my favorite comic book series as a kid—the Star Wars adaptation and Marvel’s ongoing original comic series that started as a retelling of the Seven Samurai.  In issue 16 we were introduced to the menacing bounty hunter Valance, who hunts robots, only to be revealed to us in the last panel that half of his body was replaced with cybernetic parts—he was a borg.  Who knew one day I would have a website called the same thing?

I also have to mention other borg:  Doctor Who’s Cybermen and even the Daleks, General Grievous and Luke Skywalker, the human Cylons from the Battlestar Gallactica reboot series, Philip K. Dick’s replicants we saw on the big screen in Blade Runner, and last but not least the species in Star Trek that assimilates all species and cultures, “The Borg”—I hope here, too, to pull together all science fiction, fantasy, entertainment–all pop culture–in one place. 

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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