Archive for the ‘Television’ Category




Photo from The Doctor Who Official Website

Photo from The Doctor Who Official Website

Photo from The Doctor Who Official Website

Welcome back to my semi-regular column about the stuff that caught my interest in the last week or two.

RANTS

I’ve been known to rant a bit and today is no exception. There are a number of things that irk me about blogs and message boards and one of the things that bugs me to no end is when a new writer is announced for a book how people start fretting about what he (or she) is going to do the character(s) in that book.

And this is months and months before a book is even printed mind you. Reams and reams of idle speculation is launched with all kinds of irrational ideas that they heard from someone or that a so-called “inside source” has leaked or whatever. Now I do realise that this is something that happens all the time but it does not mean that it is right. When I want to speculate I prefer to do so with at least some concrete factual information.

Take for example the speculation over what JMS would do with the Wonder Woman and Superman books, people worrying and getting inflamed with very little basis.  A whole thread on Bleeding Cool wandered about like a spastic dinosaur until JMS had to come on and quash stupid ideas like Superman wandering across America like Jack Kerouac or Kaine in the series Kung Fu. I’m going to reprint what JMS said on that thread just in case anyone didn’t get it.

“I wish to make several points very very clear.

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that I have at any time had any conversations at all with DC about Marc Guggenheim.

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that I insisted “that Superman only appear in the Superman book he’s writing.”

I have made every indication to DC that as and when Superman is needed during the time I am writing him, he will definitely be made available. You simply can’t keep a character as major as Superman out of every title for the length of my initial run. It’s impossible, and the idea that we could or would try is absurd.

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that Superman is “going to drop his Superman identity.”

It is absolutely and unequivocally untrue that he “not use his powers.”

So to those who have reacted (properly) to say that these are stupid ideas, you are absolutely right.

They are stupid.

Which is why we are not, have not been, and will not be doing any of them.

The only stupidity greater than those lay in the suggestion that we ever would.”

So there you go, from the horses mouth as it were. Speculation is fun, but please, it is better to do it where its based on facts.

…Except of course when it comes to Bendis, Loeb and Millar where its better to think the worst. The worst will probably happen but at least you’ll be prepared for it!

JMS on the other hand is a writer with more hits than misses so I think he’s worth the benefit of the doubt.

The DC Implosion

Back in the late 70’s DC canceled a couple of dozen of their poorer selling titles due to the bad economy of the time and other factors. This became known as the DC Implosion as it drastically reduced the amount of content that they were publishing.

Just in the last month DC have canceled the Red Circle titles, The Web and The Shield, they’ve canceled one of my favourite titles, The Warlord, and they’ve canceled The Great Ten (as of issue 9, so they are canceling a 10 issue series with one issue to go, great planning eh?)

It seems like its no coincidence that a new management and editorial team have come in and not long after a bunch of titles get canceled. So who’s going to be next then?

Based on the sales charts, titles like Magog, Wildcats, Authority, REBELS (keep spreading the word on this title!), Doom Patrol and Batman Confidential have cause to be worried. Johnny DC titles will be ok as they mainly sell at supermarkets and newsstands and most Vertigo titles should be ok as they do big business in the Trade Paperback market.

The DC Explosion

Another story that came out recently was that DC were looking to expand their range of output in order to compete equally with Marvel on the comics racks and to take market share off of Marvel. Word was put out that it was a good time for freelancers to approach DC for work as a rapid growth was foreseen.

So, considering my previous rant about the current DC mini-implosion, what exactly are DC going to publish in order to ramp up their market share. It looks as if anything they publish that’s quirky (Warlord, Doom Patrol) or non DCU-centric (Red Circle characters, possibly the First Wave characters) have weak sales potential.

What are your bets on what DC is going to do, will it be extra Batman (and surely there’s more than enough already!), more Superman, more Flash and we know that there is at least 1 more Green Lantern title on the way. Just what franchises can DC mine to increase their production? Personally I can’t see where long term growth is going to come from.

The Amazing Spectacular Amazing Spider-Man Price Increase

You didn’t think I was gonna go a whole column without laying into Marvel over something right? One thing I noticed from last months Marvel Previews magazine is that Amazing Spider-Man comic has gone up in price to $3.99.  They are gone up to 40 pages though with a 2 page Spidey Sunday story and a Kraven back up story but still, if you want to follow the main Spidey comic now you need to shell out 12 clams a month whereas just a couple of years ago you only needed to buy 1 issue of Amazing for $2.99 a month. Marvel seems to be out to exploit every segment of their fan base these days.

It used to be great back when you could buy 1 Avengers Comic, 1 X-Men comic, 1 Spidey comic and you didn’t need to buy 4 or 5 of each a month. No wonder smaller titles can’t get an audience now…

How does your nose get so brown?

Well if you shove it this far up Jeph Loeb’s arse your nose would be brown too, just take a look at this video (oh and keep the sick bucket near by in case you upchuck).

COMICS CAPSULE REVIEWS

Milestone Forever #2

I’d love to say that this comic got better with the second issue but I just can’t. As with the first issue the cover is horrible and the packaging and design is terrible, I can’t believe that Rian Hughes designed this thing. I did figure out what made me uneasy about the first issue though and it was that these two books felt more like shout-outs to old Milestone fans rather than something that could bring new readers into the fold.

After 2 expensive prestige format issues, I still don’t really know who Icon, Hardware, Static and the rest are, what their powers are or anything about their personalities. That’s a pretty bad indictment for any book. Regarding the art, Jean Paul Leon doing the framing sequence was good again and Denys Cowan and ChrisCross both did decent jobs on their sequences.

Brave and the Bold #32

After sledging a comic I like to follow up with a book I like, it freshens the soul or something, I dunno. Anyhoo, B&B 32 features Aquaman and The Demon teaming up against some underwater demons from hell…or thereabouts. After a Joker/Atom team-up that rather misfired this comic was satisfying on a number of notes. JMS had a handle on both characters, so much so that I’d like to seem him do solo books for either character….or at least backup features in either of his new books. Aquaman does much of the work carrying this issue with the Demon mostly standing around spouting rhyming couplets until the ending where he KABLAMMO’S the invading demon.

Jesus Saiz does another beautiful job on this issue, he’s rapidly becoming one of my favourite artists, he has sort of a Ryan Sook mixed with John Buscema quality, there’s a lovely sequence of Aquaman fighting a shark/demon on page 9 that works so well in its power and movement. Also the splash page of Aquaman backed up by thousands of whales, sharks and every other type of sea creature took my breath away. One of the best books of the month easily.

JLA #43

This is the tie in to the Rise and Fall of Arsenal that documents the post Cry for Justice JLA continuity. It was ok, certainly an improvement on the direness of the Blackest Night issues. Mark Bagley’s art is certainly better, especially pages that seem to be inked by Norm Rapmund. The main problem with this is too-many-character-itis , I count at least 14 members which means that no-one gets any face time, except for Ollie who we learn likes curry, no not Arthur Curry, the Indian chicken tikka sort of curry.

One thing that does really annoy me about DC though… and this sounds like a contradiction of the last point I made….but DC editors obviously tell writers they can use characters and then 2 issues they take the fucking characters away because they’re in another book. This completely ruined McDuffie’s run and its affecting Robinsons already. This issue Starfire zoomed off to join the REBELS, why couldn’t she just be in the 2 books, who the fuck cares much about continuity that a character can‘t be in 2 fucking books?

ZVR Aventure #1 and #2

Another Zombie book? Well yes it is but it’s the continuation of Ashley Wood’s Zombies versus Robots world, this time in the form of a 4 issue anthology book.  Each issue has 3 eight page stories which continue from one issue to the next. Ashley Wood does the (amazing) covers and Chris Ryall writes all the stories.

The first adventure has Sgt Davis organising resistance to the zombie horde in a New York-esque city, the art is by Menton Matthews III and is a strange heavily photoshopped type of art. The second story is about a remote testing facility where the cook is the only person left alive and pilots an early Iron Man type costume/robot while trying to survive another horde, the art by Paul McCaffrey which is reminiscent of Juan Gimenez’s style. The last story has art by Gabriel Hernandez which shows voodoo Zombies fighting normal zombies in Haiti. This is a great book for horror/aventure fans and considering the card cover and heavy quality paper its probably worth the $3.99

Echo #20

I never hear this book mentioned anywhere but it’s a consistently enjoyable tale by Terry Moore. The main story is about a young woman called Julie who unexpectedly encounters a disastrous military test and gets part of her body covered by a strange living metal. She is forced to go on the run from the government and the company behind the making of the living metal who send various assassins and maniacs after her. The black and white art by Moore is detailed yet simple and elegant and the characterisation as one would expect is top notch. What I didn’t expect is the constant tension because you feel none of these characters is safe.

Superman: Last Stand on New Krypton #1

The New Krypton arc that’s dominated the Superman books for over a year is coming to an end, but this is a bit of a confusing mess. Brainiac invades New Krypton in a stupid looking gigantic robot head, cue thousands of killer robots invading New Krypton and we get page after page of Kryptonians fighting robots….yada yada yada. The art from Pete Woods looks rushed, some of the writing just makes no sense like Zod arresting the Legion of Superheroes who are trying to help, perhaps this is a double bluff by Zod but it just seems like brain-numbingly stupid writing to me. This book isn’t terrible but I wouldn’t heartily recommend it either.

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #1

Lets end the reviews on a high note,  the Pet Avengers was one of the best unexpected surprise hits of last year and I’m happy to say that this first issue of the new mini series carries on the charm of last years series. The Hairball/Ms. Lion duo is hilarious again and the art by Ig Guara and the colours by Sotomayor and Roberts is beautiful, really great work. This issue sets up the series when the rest of the Pet Avengers discover that Frog Thor is missing from Central Park.

BACK ISSUE BIN

Vlad the Impaler #1-3 (Topps comics, 1993)

This is a 3 issue mini-series from Topps short-lived foray into comics. Topps were more known for baseball cards but decided to get in on the act during the comics boom of the early 90’s. Unfortunately for them they got their strategy wrong, they decided to put out well written and drawn comics when what the market was looking for was badly written and appallingly drawn crap like Youngblood.  Vlad the Impaler was an excellent little 3 issue mini-series detailing the savage life of Prince Vlad Tepes of Transylvania and his eventual turning into Vlad Dracula.

Roy Thomas wrote it and did a great job worthy of his best Savage Sword of Conan work, and the art by Esteban Maroto is truly stunning. Even after 17 years this is a comic that I still cherish, it just reeks of quality.  The lettering by John Costanza adds greatly to the atmosphere and the colouring by Paul Mounts is sumptuous adding to the sense of baroque horror. I’ve checked online and these issues can be found for $2 each, an incredible bargain and certainly better than most comics out now.

BLOG RECOMMENDATIONS

Dark Roasted Blend
http://www.darkroastedblend.com/

This is a blog that I’ve been visiting for years, there is always something there to occupy the mind or the eyes whether it is hallucinatory architecture or sperm-racing. It also feeds my love for retro-futurism.

PostRock Xchange
http://www.postrockxchange.com/

This is another blog I visit heavily. Post Rock is a form of instrumental rock music that generally doesn’t conform to the normal rock music song structures. In general its more mellow but it can’t be incredibly intense also. This blog has LOTS of great music, some of my current favourites are Mooncake and 65daysofstatic.

TV

It was Christina Hendricks’ birthday this week so what better way to celebrate than with a video in honour of her!

So, I have only been watching Doctor Who on a regular basis for the last few years but I am really enjoying the new season and it seems like some of our CCW regulars are too. Because of this Doctor Who will be getting a weekly thread through the end of the series (season) as long long as we have enough people participating. Should be fun.

J.

Photo from The Doctor Who Official Website

So, I have only been watching Doctor Who on a regular basis for the last few years but I am really enjoying the new season and it seems like some of our CCW regulars are too. Because of this Doctor Who will be getting a weekly thread through the end of the series (season) as long long as we have enough people participating. Should be fun.

J.

Photo from The Doctor Who Official Website

So, I have only been watching Doctor Who on a regular basis for the last few years but I am really enjoying the new season and it seems like some of our CCW regulars are too. Because of this Doctor Who will be getting a weekly thread through the end of the series (season) as long long as we have enough people participating. Should be fun.

J.

Photo from The Doctor Who Official Website

Hi folks, it’s me again with another shellacking of my opinions from the last couple of weeks or so and of the comics I’ve read and other things. This has ended up being way later than it should have been, I came down with the flu last week and its taken longer than I thought to recover.

RANTS

1. Last week started with the news of the death of John Hicklenton, a ground breaking artist mainly published in 2000ad and Judge Dredd: the Megazine. I guess he wouldn’t be that well known in the USA which is a real pity. He broke through into comics at the age of 19 by drawing a Neil Gaiman “future-shock” story for 2000ad which garnered him the notice of writer Pat Mills who immediately commissioned him to write 2 books for his long running character Nemesis: The Warlock. This was one of the most popular 2000ad characters which had artists of the calibre of Kev O’Neill and Bryan Talbot work on it before Hicklenton which I think shows how stunning his art was for a 19 year old to take over from those masters.

Its hard to understate how much of an impact Hicklenton’s art had, readers either loved or hated it but over the course of a couple of years many more loved than hated the organic sinister subversiveness of his creativity. Imagine if HR Giger (designer of Alien) had drawn comics then you might get a handle on where Hicklenton’s imagination lived, he could draw disturbing characters and visceral action. He passed away 2 weeks ago at the age of 42 from multiple sclerosis. There are some clips of him from the award winning 2008 documentary about him

2. Then as if the week couldn’t get any cheerier I heard of the death of Dick Giordano. He was a lot older than JH but still its disturbing to hear that death of one of the greats. Dick Giordano is most famous I suppose for the innumerable inking jobs he did, especially on Neal Adams work and for many Batman titles over the years. He was also a great pencilled with a beautiful delicate line, I recall only a few years ago he did some fantastic work on Devin Graysons Gotham Knights title.

He was also hugely significant as editor in chief and an executive for DC during a very successful time during the 80’s and early 90’s including encouraging the “British Invasion” of new artists and writers, regenerating the Teen Titans franchise, the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmen, Dark Knight, the beginnings of Vertigo. The only failing you could say perhaps was letting Alan Moore get disenchanted with DC but then Alan Moore always seems to fall out with everyone eventually.

I’ve seen on Marvels June solicits that the Dracula story he did with Roy Thomas is being reissued, I’d recommend that anyone who enjoys a great story and beautiful art pick it up.

3. In comparison to the first two sections the other stuff like who’s artist on what pales into insignificance in the order of things but still we should talk about the normal stuff in our hobby as well as the heavy stuff, its all part of the tapestry of life and the world keeps moving on and its ok to talk about the stuff that’s important to us at the time…speaking of which…

4. No more Batwoman – Three words even more devastating that Wanda’s “No more Mutants”, the news that Greg Rucka has quit all DC’s projects and will be concentrating on his creator owned stuff. This is fine, I’m sure I’ll be checking out Queen and Country and whatever else he has planned but it is somewhat sickening that the single best mainstream comic of the last year is no more. The Rucka/J.H.Williams III Batwoman stories in Detective Comics were pretty damn amazing, great writing, outstanding art, fine colouring, just a complete package.

The proposed Batwoman title which was forecast for this summer could have been great but now we’ll never know as I don’t think a replacement writer would have as sympathetic take on Kate Kane, they’d probably get some hack like Winick to do it. Rucka has been very nice to DC in his announcement about it but I can’t help a nagging feeling that someone in management at DC poured some cold water on a “lesbian title”, I hope that’s not the case. (Editor’s note: It was announced today that J.H. Williams III will be co-writing and drawing the new Batwoman series beginning later this year)

5. No more PhonogramThis interview from Comics Alliance puts some things in a fairly poor perspective in my point of view. The fact that a great series like Phonogram couldn’t sell as much as C list Marvel and DC comics shows how fucked up the comics business is now. The writing was smart, the art was appealing yet it couldn’t sell much more than 4000 copies, that’s just a disgrace, some fucking piece of shit like Rulk can sell 60000 copies yet Phonogram can’t even sell enough to pay the artist electricity bill??? That just shows how fucked up the comics market is now. Maybe if the characters had all worn costumes and punched and stabbed each other to death, maybe that would have made it more appealing to the masses?

The comic had the reputation of being “elitist”, but for me it was one of the most joyous books of the last year and the comics world is all the poorer if it loses books like this. Hands up who needs more Deadpool books?

6. Youtube – For fucks sake, why in hell did they have to change it? Now the comments section is all fucked up and its lost all sense of narrative. And the info section is all over the place, none of the links or options are in as handy places as they used to be, youtube you fucked up, you bastards!

COMICS MINI-REVIEWS

Battlefields #4
I love this comic, Garth Ennis is such a good writer when he’s doing war stories, he can treat the subject seriously yet still leavens it all with the black humour of the ordinary tommies, yanks and fritzies. In it Sergeant Stiles commands a Sherman Firefly and leads his men in search of fearsome King Tiger tank. Its full of set piece action, good characterisation (even for the Germans who are far from the evil cardboard cut out characters as usually portrayed in TV and movie) and excellent art from Carlos Ezquerra. I’d love to see Jose and Elliot review this one actually.

Air Fighters #1 (Moonstone)
From the sublime to the ridiculous as it were. This was half price on dcbs and since I love war books, especially aviation books I figured it would be worth a chance….boy was I wrong. The cover by Tom Grindberg is very nice but after that it goes all kinds of wrong.

It’s a 72 page anthology based on characters from the Golden age of comics and most of the stories are hokey and just plain stupid. I prefer my war stories with a good realistic base and these are fantastical and make little sense. And as for the artwork….I’m not going to name any names because the art is so awful, its embarrassingly bad, some of it looks like a monkey doodled on the page or something. Some of them didn’t even bother to do some simple reference work, one story portrays a kette of Ju87 Stukas doing a combat air patrol complete with twin 37mm cannons when anyone who would have an interest in this book would know that’s ludicrous beyond belief and just shows how little the writer and artist cared about the whole charade.

Solomon Kane: Deaths Black Riders 2 & 3 (Dark Horse)
Ahhhhh back to something good, 2 issues of Robert E Howard’s puritan antihero and his encounter with some evil demons (are there any other kind?) in the black forest of southern Germany. It reads like a modern version of a classic Hammer Horror film or EC comic, I had to switch off the computer and read this in silence so as to give it my full concentration, so I could absorb every eerie word of Scott Allie’s script and drink in every line of Mario Guevara’s atmospheric artwork which draws you completely into the story so much as that you feel that you are in that dank forest surrounded by bloodthirsty demons with just a pistol and a trusty sword to protect you.

Power Girl 9 (DC)
This comic is such a joy to read, Gray and Palmiotti subvert the normal superhero clichés on almost every page and deliver a quality story every time. This issue sees PG up against Satanna and her “gun-toting Animal men and PG gets thwacked around with a big hammer for most of the issue until that other Amanda Conner favourite Terra turns up to save the day. It’s a real pity that Amanda Conner is quitting as this is a title she was born to draw, can’t wait to see what she works on next.

King City #5 (Image)
Another comic I fell in love with instantly, you can’t help but like Brandon Grahams Ameri-manga art style which has hints of Adam Warren but a more looser, expressive style. The story is about Joe and his Cat who steal things to order and the dramas that they get into. The humour in this title is definitely of the black cynical variety but that makes it no less funny. Its also black and white which shows the linework to its best advantage and its bigger than the normal comic book size so it fits more in, it’s a winner on both counts.

JLA #41 (DC)
Jose asked if anyone is reading JLA at the moment, I don’t remember if anyone answered and I couldn’t blame them. I started reading the book at #38 and the Blackest Night issues were horrible, just really awful writing and art, especially the Dr Light vs. Dr Light battle which got into misogynistic areas. I actually enjoyed #41 though, it felt like those old Avengers issues where Cap or Iron Man would put a new team together, of course this is JLA so it was Donna Troy putting the team together. Perhaps I took a liking to it because I loved the New Teen Titans so seeing Dick, Donna, Cyborg and Starfire on the same team again brought back good memories. Even Mark Bagley’s art seemed tighter and less rushed in this issue.

BACK ISSUE BIN

DC Action 1-6 (London Editions Magazines)
This is a title which came out in 1990 from LEM who specialized in DC reprints for the British and Irish market. I had already been reading their Batman and Superman/JLI reprints when they came out with this oversized 68 page magazine with a cardstock cover featuring the classic Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans, the Grant Morrison Animal Man title and a third strip which changed every 2 issues. In 1-2 was the Creeper, in 3-4 was the history of Paul Kirk and the Manhunters and in 5-6 was the start of the Perez History of the DC Universe.

This book introduced me to the wider DC Universe back when Marvel Comics were by far and away my favourite company. Unfortunately it only lasted 6 issues, the book had production values that have still not been equalled by any American or British comic in my opinion but that was its downfall as at £1.75 ($3.50) an issue in 1990 it was by far the most expensive comic on the newsstands but still it has fond memories for me. If you are ever in the UK you might be able to track it down in some second hand shops or at car boot sales.

BLOG RECOMMENDATIONS

Monster Blog
http://monsterblog.oneroom.org/
This is an old favourite which has loads of scanned Monster comics from the Lee/Kirby pre-Marvel superheroes era including “I was face to face with the Creature from Planet X!” and “Invasion from Outer Space!”, its full of those fun goofy stories from the King!

Here in Duckberg
http://texcap.wordpress.com/
This is a cool little blog focusing on comics mostly but some game stuff as well and it seems to mostly feature stuff I like which is great lol. Its straightforward and informative without being confrontational and controversial like the CCW blog. Blogger Texcap has a friendly open style and a good eye for his layout which is easy on the eye.

Paleofuture
http://www.paleofuture.com/
This blog takes a look at the sci-fi and comics genres predictions of the future, in its own words it’s “a look into the future that never was”. I just love all the retro-future stuff, especially from the 50’s and 60’s when the world was going to be so bright and modern complete with Domed Cities and flying cars…..I want my flying car now dammit!

TV
One of my favourite recent TV shows is Newswipe with Charlie Brooker which was broadcast on BBC2 in February/March. It is a topical news show presented by comedian Charlie Brooker who dissects news organisations and politicians with savage satire, sort of like Stephen Colbert but with less joshing and more vicious wit. There’s also a philosophical side amongst the funny asides, don’t trust the news media, there’s always an agenda, make up your own mind.