Friday, May 21, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Brightest Day #2

GOOD THING: The bulk of this issue deals with Martian Manhunter exploring an apparently hidden secret regarding how he came to Earth... and how it was apparently not the lab accident he believed it was.

BAD THING: The second-largest chunk of the book deals with Firestorm. And I really, really, really, REALLY want Ronnie Raymond: Frat Boy Douche to die. Horribly. Slowly. And in as much pain as possible.

The Final Verdict: Mostly a random mishmash of seemingly unrelated scenes. Most of them are interesting. One of them is annoying. And on the whole, I feel we'd be better served by new Aquaman, Martian Mahunter and Hawkman titles than by splicing all these storylines together into one book... unless this is all part of some convoluted plan to bring back the More Fun Comics anthology style book.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About War Of The Supermen #3

GOOD THING: Normally I deplore blatant Kirby fanboyism (Remember Final Crisis?), but it never really bothers me in a Superman comic. But even I have to admit that doing this with Jimmy Olsen and the shout out to one of Kirby's other concepts is a nice little tribute.

BAD THING: The montage of Earth's other heroes fighting the New Krypton invaders revealed something that is really bugging me now that I think about it: Power Girl hasn't been present in this storyline. And I have to wonder why - apart from her being more a part of JSA than the Superman books now - that is so.

Okay, granting that she is from a parallel universe, they did no less than two major arcs in three separate books since Infinite Crisis about how alone she feels now that her Superman - Kal-L - is dead. In JSA this lead to her trying to befriend a reality-displaced Kingdom Come Superman. So why wouldn't Power Girl have gone to New Krypton herself?

Sure, it might not be EXACTLY the same as the Krypton she grew up on but it would make for an interesting story for her to confront her own feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The Final Verdict: A by-the-numbers penultimate chapter. Nothing that great, but nothing that bad either.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5 - Episode 5: Flesh and Stone



Continuing from where we left off last time, we find that the Doctor's shooting the gravity globe allowed the local gravity of the spaceship to extend to the point that by jumping upward, the party was able to "fly" toward the spaceship and away from the Weeping Angels.

Moving into the ship and further into "the oxygen factory" (i.e. forest) contained within it, everyone continues to flee into the woods as the Angels start to penetrate the ship. It is then that things become even more complicated as a crack - identical to the one in Amy's wall - begins to open up in reality and time energy begins to flood the area. Energy that threatens to erase a person from reality completely so it is as if they never existed.

And as if this weren't enough, it turns out that by looking a Weeping Angel in the eye, Amy has "captured" one in her optical nerves and - similar to the video image that slowly allowed a Weeping Angel to be born - is causing another Weeping Angel to be born inside her head. Thankfully, closing her eyes cuts off the stimulus that is feeding the angel. Unfortunately, this leaves her totally defenseless to the other Weeping Angels already in the forest, as the soldiers begin to blink out of existence, one by one, with nobody but Amy remembering that they ever existed.

Thankfully, it all works out in the end as The Doctor comes up with a cunning plan mixed with a bad joke (gravity of the situation), The Angels are all sucked into the crack (which seals it) and River Song is taken back into custody by The Church having earned a few more brownie points toward parole. We learn that her crime involved her killing a good man - "the best man I ever knew" and she cryptically tells The Doctor that he will see her next "when the Pandorica opens".

The Doctor takes Amy home at her request, some five minutes after they left. She shows him her wedding dress and explains that she is supposed to get married in the morning before trying to seduce The Doctor - an act he will have no truck with. It is then, looking at her clock, that The Doctor makes a connection between some numbers he got while scanning the crack and Amy. The numbers he got were 26062010 or 26-06-2010 or 26th of June 2010 - the day of Amy's wedding.


* The story here is very well paced with a lot going on but everything moving well.

* The scene with The Doctor comforting Amy finally gave Eleven some heart... and it raised some more interesting questions. More on this below.

* The conceit of having a blind woman having to move around a group of Weeping Angels is brilliant!

* We finally get to see the statues move... and it is every bit as creepy as we could hope for.

* A few more details about River Song, which give us nothing but more questions but they are the good kind of questions that lead to fun geeky discussions. Such as who is the good man that she killed? (Okay, obviously we're MEANT to think it is The Doctor... but who is it really?)


* Why can't the angels hear The Doctor talking to Amy over the communicator? Are they deaf in statue form? This may explain why The Doctor explains that the statues turned to stone on reflex upon seeing Amy, because otherwise they should have known she couldn't see them when they moved in and they didn't change. Still seems a bit cheap though.

* For that matter, why don't the rules about Weeping Angels seeing one another triggering the stone reflex seem to apply anymore? The Doctor gets surrounded by angels at one point, which means those angels SHOULD have been frozen since they were on both sides of The Doctor at that point.

* The 'gravity of the situation' pun. Dear gods...


I really liked the scene where he comforts Amy and kisses her on the forehead. But I liked it more upon the second viewing when I noticed something odd I missed the first time.


Earlier in the episode, one of the Weeping Angels was able to get close enough to grab his coat. He left it behind and was without it for the rest of the episode... except during the scene where he goes away with River and then seems to come back right away to comfort Amy.

The operative word being "seems".

Unless there was one big whopping continuity error while they were filming this, it looks like The Doctor - either through deliberate travel or a wrinkle in time later - came back to comfort Amy at a time when she very much needed someone but he couldn't really spare the time to do so.

Either way, that's kinda cool. And it says a lot about how The Doctor feels about Amy given that he was willing to violate one of the bigger rules of crossing your own timeline just to give her some comfort. Of course if it turns out this IS just a continuity error, all bets are off. But if I'm right, this would seem to fit my theory regarding how the regeneration shapes the personality of each incarnation. Everything we've seen paints a portrait of Eleven being a much gruffer and less expressive man than Ten but still caring deep down.

This seems to have been confirmed with the scene at the end where... oh good lord... Amy tries to have her way with The Doctor. And he is appropriately horrified by her behavior, further driving a wedge between him and his previous incarnation - the man who snogged Madame Du Pompadour, fell in love with a shopgirl from London and probably deflowered The Virgin Queen.

The Final Verdict: A strong conclusion to a relatively slow starting first part. Fast-paced and exciting, even if it does raise more questions than it answers. The Doctor is starting to grow on me and I no longer mind him so much though I still miss David Tenant in the role. And Amy continues to be awesome beyond even the dimensions that Scottish redheads in short skirts are awesome in general.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About War Of The Supermen #2

GOOD THING: The nice little character moments between Supergirl and Superman continue to add a human element to the middle of what could be just another event comic.

BAD THING: Eduardo Pansica is no Kevin Maguire when it comes to facial expressions. And what could be an epic effort to actually add some humanity to - of all characters - General Zod, is ruined by an expression that looks more goofy than sad.

The Final Verdict: Lots of good character moments and a final page cliffhanger worthy of Doctor Who at its' best, offset by some rather odd artwork. Still worth reading, though.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Booster Gold #32

I don't usually get this book, but it was recommended to me most highly.

GOOD THING: After the disappointment of Justice League: Generation Lost, I needed a bit of the Giffen/DeMatteis magic... and damned if this book doesn't give it to us in spades, while still being a damn good action-yarn in its own right, like all the best Dan Jurgens Booster Gold stories.

BAD THING: The last page doesn't really gel too well with the events of Brightest Day and how Maxwell Lord was revealed to the world.

The Final Verdict: Easily The Best Hero Whose Book I Haven't Been Reading! Maybe it's time I changed that...

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Birds of Prey #1

GOOD THING: Oh, Dinah... I've MISSED seeing you being written this well.

BAD THING: The Hawk and Dove scenes stick out like a sore thumb. Granting that we do need some kind of introduction for those who haven't been reading Brightest Day so far, they do seem a bit like they were added in as an afterthought to an already completed Birds of Prey reunion script.

The Final Verdict: Almost a flawless return. But for all the picture-perfect moments in this book... and all the shout-outs to long-neglected characters... the inclusion of Hawk and Dove seems to be a bit too much... like icing on a sweet cake that doesn't need it. Still... The Birds Are Back!

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Justice League: Generation Lost

BAD THING: Judd Winick has done the impossible and sucked all the humor out of a JLI book.

Okay - I know JLI hasn't always been a funny book. And I know that trying to go back to that sort of thing after everything Maxwell Lord did without some massive Superboy Prime wall-punching would be nigh unto impossible. But the tone of the interview Giffen and Winick gave a few months ago regarding this series suggested that it was going to be a comedy series.

However, rather than take the easy way out and complain about false-advertising and the fact that this book isn't what I was expecting, I would like to point out one thing... This book is completely unnecessary if you read Brightest Day #0!

Seriously! The entire book is build up to a scene we've already seen and a set-up we've already been briefed on!

GOOD THING: The back of the comic does feature a preview of Green Arrow #1. And it looks like my optimism was well-founded, so far.

The Final Verdict: Beware, JLI fans! This book is not what you think it is. Go read this week's Booster Gold for your weekly helping of Vitamin BWAHAHAHAHAHA! At least it had a Green Arrow #1 preview in the back as an antidote.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5 - Episode 4: The Time of Angels



While showing off in a museum by pointing out everything that is mislabeled or just plain wrong to Amy ("It's how you keep score, isn't it?"), The Doctor stumbles across an alien black box with words inscribed on it in the ancient Time Lord language. Figuring out that the message was left by River Song (a companion from The Doctor's future he hadn't met yet, whom first appeared in the Steven Moffat story Silence in The Library and whom knew far more about the Time Lords and The Doctor himself than The Doctor ever thought he'd tell anyone willingly), The Doctor uses the black box recording to track down just where and when River was and get a message of her saying a list of TARDIS coordinates. He arrives just in the nick of time to save her from being lost in space after she blows the airlock of the ship.

Following the crashed ship, The Doctor finds out that River was trying to get his attention because of what was inside the ship - a dormant Weeping Angel (aka the quantum assassin monsters from the Steven Moffat story Blink) - and that she is working for The Church (now a much more militant body than on 21st Century Earth) to destroy the creature. The Doctor, having suffered at the hands of a Weeping Angel before, is all too eager to help despite his own dislike/aversion to River, who is just as eager to flaunt everything she knows that other people don't as he is.

Amy just barely survives an attack by the Weeping Angel, after it is discovered that any image of a Weeping Angel - drawings, photographs, video captures - can become a Weeping Angel. The encounter obviously had some kind of an effect on Amy, who hands sand pouring out of her eyes at one point and later hallucinates that her hand has turned to stone.

Going into the caverns underneath the crashed space-ship, The Doctor and Company find a series of catacombs filled with primitive statues. It is not until he is they are well inside the cavern that The Doctor recalls something disturbing - the inhabitants of this planet were two-headed and yet all the statues they see only have one head. A quick flick of the lights confirms The Doctor's fears - the statues around them are all severely deformed Weeping Angels, made weak and indistinct by centuries without food... and the radiation from the crashed starship has given them power enough to wake up. Trapped between a literal rock and a hard-place, The Doctor asks his companions if they trust him, takes a gun from the leader of The Church soldiers, and shoots out one of the gravity globes in the base of the ship.


* There's just too much going on here. Between an expansion of the lore regarding what little we know about the Weeping Angels, the drama between THIS Doctor and River Song, the subplot regarding just why River is working for the church and why she was in prison at one point in the past, Amy's continued adjustment to the general weirdness around her and the central thrust with The Doctor and company going on a bug-hunt ("Game over, man! Game Over!"), it's a little hard to follow everything even if you know the characters. I can only imagine how confusing this episode must be for any newbies who HAVEN'T seen Series 3 and Series 4.

* Quite honestly, the mysteries and subplots of the supporting cast (River Song's past, what is up with Amy after her encounter with the angel) and what we learn about the Weeping Angels are much more interesting than The Doctor and the main plot.

* The Doctor continues to be an unlikeable dick. More on this later.


* The opening scene with River Song IS a glorious spy-epic tribute that plays really well.

* Amy continues to impress, managing to save herself - well, mostly - from the Weeping Angel by pausing the video during a skip in the recording of the Weeping Angel.

* The Weeping Angel coming through the video screen scene is pretty damned effective. Not quite as scary as Blink but it does answer some longed-joked about questions regarding how Weeping Angels reproduce - they just wait for some idiot to come along and do their portrait. :)


He's not just a dick in general. He's a dick who goes out of his way to push people's buttons.

He seems to hate River - not just because she used him to get out of a tight spot - but because she does seem to be smarter than he is. He goes out of his way to stick it to the Bishop and his men, to the point of acting like a kid poking an anthill with a stick. In fact, he's so obnoxious that I actually cheered at the end when the Weeping Angel (speaking through a simulation of the soldier it just killed) mocks The Doctor for allowing other people to die while he is showing off.

The Final Verdict: The action in the background is more interesting than the main story. That's a problem when you're bringing back the most feared monsters of the current series. As it is, there's just way too much going on to focus on anything what with the return of River Song, the hint of her secret past, the loathing between The Doctor and River AND the return of the Weeping Angels. Even the ending is anti-climactic.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Doctor Who: The Greater Regeneration/Personality Adaptation Theory

In my reviews of Series 5/Season 31, I made reference to my theory regarding The Eleventh Doctor's personality in the wake of his regeneration from Doctor Number Ten to Doctor Number Eleven and said, in grand Doctor Who fashion, that I would explain later.

It is now later.

A quick catch-up for those who are new to the party. Regeneration is a Time Lord super-power that... well, why not let The Ninth Doctor explain it?

"See, Time Lords have this little trick, it's sort of a way of cheating death. Except... it means I'm going to change. And you're not going to see me again... Not like this. Not with this daft old face."

That's it in a nutshell. Any time a Time Lord suffers several physical trauma, they can regenerate their body. But this has the dual side-effects of changing the Time Lord's appearance AND personality.

In reality, this is a very clever way of allowing the show to continue with a new Doctor every time the current actor playing The Doctor retires from the role. But it has never been explained in the reality of the show (or at least, not in any of the episodes or books I've seen) just WHY a Time Lord's personality and appearance has to change whenever they regenerate and how the nature of death might influence their next incarnation.

The popular theory which I subscribe to is that a Time Lord's thoughts and emotions during regeneration will influence the base personality of their next incarnation. This is hardly a new theory, I found out, but I cannot remember where I first read the idea after I proposed it to my friends following the regeneration of Nine into Ten. I haven't seen all of the episodes of the old series involving The Doctor regenerating but I have seen enough of them to think there's some merit to the idea. Of the ones which I have seen...

1. Three to Four - The Third Doctor was a very much the man-of-action and the closest The Doctor ever came to being a James Bond hero. Exiled to the planet Earth for most of his "life", the Third Doctor worked with the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (U.N.I.T.) as a scientific adviser, protecting the Earth from various alien and supernatural threats.

Shortly before his regeneration into The Fourth Doctor, The Doctor was granted the privilege of a working TARDIS and was able to explore Time and Space freely again. He still worked with UNIT during this time but it was apparent he was coming to resent being tied down to a military organization though he did still wish to help protect Earth.

When his death came about because of a mutual need to "confront his fear" and to prevent a disaster he was directly responsible for causing, it is easy to see how The Doctor might come to be frustrated about his responsibilities and at having "died" so soon after finally getting a chance to explore the universe once again.

The Fourth Doctor was probably the most anti-authoritarian incarnation The Doctor had. He also had the strongest sense of wanderlust. As soon as he had recovered, he was very quick to hop in the TARDIS and try and get away from Earth. He was reluctantly dragged into helping UNIT fight a corrupt group of scientists attempting to take over The Earth with an indestructible robot and left to explore the universe again at the earliest opportunity. And only the promise of a chance to stop the Daleks once and for all could get him to submit to the authority and commands of the Time Lords.

2. Four to Five - When the Fourth Doctor died, disabling a doomsday device that arch-enemy The Master was using to ransom the universe (say what you will about The Master: he never thought small), his final thoughts were of his many companions as he lay surrounded by his current companions. His final words were a reassurance that he was fine and that he had been prepared for this moment.

The Fifth Doctor was a much more protective and loving man than his previous incarnation. Not that The Fourth Doctor didn't value those he traveled with but with the Fifth Doctor the relationship was more paternal... more protective.

3. Eight To Nine - We don't know anything about exactly how The Eight Doctor became The Ninth Doctor, save that it was definitely a result of the end of The Time War, when The Doctor sealed both The Time Lords AND The Daleks away from the rest of the universe for all time.

Forged in war, The Ninth Doctor was a harder, more violent man than any other Doctor before. He was quick to seek violent solutions to problems, thinking nothing of - in his first appearance - blowing up a department store in order to disable an alien transmitter device when he could have probably could have disabled it with less fuss.

4. Nine To Ten - The first on-screen regeneration in the new series, The Ninth Doctor sacrificed himself to save his companion Rose's life after she - in turn - risked her life in order to save him as he faced down a revived Dalek army.

Looking into the heart of his TARDIS, Rose had absorbed a dangerous amount of Time Vortex energy that temporarily gave her god-like powers over time and space. Rose spoke about being able to perceive everything that had happened or would happen all at once - a sensation The Doctor had described to her before when trying to convince her of his alien nature. Taking her hands, he said "I think you need a Doctor," before kissing her and absorbing the excess energy into himself, thus saving her life at the cost of his own.

A lot of fans were upset by this - the idea of The Doctor expressing his love of a companion in such a dramatic fashion much less the suggestion of the alien Doctor being able to feel attraction for a human female. However, I think it made a certain amount of sense precisely because The Ninth Doctor WASN'T that comfortable with expressing emotions and he probably felt - in that moment - that they were both likely to die anyway. He was the last of his kind in the universe and had made himself hard in order to cope. When Rose met him, he was saving the Earth more out of habit than out of any honest love of the place. And it was Rose who got him to start coming out of his shell - to start seeing the people he was saving as individuals and not as a faceless mass that needed protection.

It was only in this final moment - when he realized the depth of Rose's feelings and what she was willing to do to save him - that he realized his own feelings for her and what she had done to heal his heart. And it was in this moment that he was able to express himself.

So what does this have to do with The Tenth Doctor?

While the Ninth Doctor did loosen up a fair bit in his travels with Rose, he still wasn't a good fit for her. For one thing, people kept saying he looked too old for her. (If they only knew, eh?) So what better way - now that he realized his feelings - than to regenerate into a younger-looking, more empathic man who could more easily express his emotions?

Not that this totally freed him up to express himself openly. And the whole "I'll still look the same once you are dead and buried" thing was still an issue for him throughout Season Two. But by the time of Doomsday, it seemed that he and Rose had achieved some measure of understanding. And while saying "I love you" might have been a bit beyond him, he certainly showed his feelings in other, smaller ways. But there was no doubt to his feelings once the end of Series Four came around.

5. Ten To Eleven - Toward the end of his life, Ten wound up causing a lot or problems for himself due to his ability to emotionally attach to his companions in specific and people in general. He wound up damaging the Timeline due to his efforts to save the life of one woman he was fond of in The Waters of Mars and he ultimately died to save the life of one man - his companion, Wilf - after risking his life to save all of reality from the Time Lords and somehow surviving what he expected to be his certain death.

So in the final hours - during which he found time to help all his old companions out one lsat time - it probably occurred to The Tenth Doctor that had he been more concerned with his duties than his friends he might have avoided hubris. And had he been a harder man, willing to let an old soldier die a heroic death instead of taking it upon himself so that that man might be spared - that he might have lived a longer life. Of course such ideas are unthinkable to somebody as noble and sacrificing as The Tenth Doctor and it probably scared him that he could think such things. But in the end, his final words said it all: "I don't want to go."

So where does this leave the Eleventh Doctor?

Thus far, of the three episodes, I've seen - he certainly seems to be a much harder man then Ten. Less empathic. More cerebral. Very Sherlock Holmes like. More focused upon his duties as the last of the Time Lords than he is upon impressing his companions or meeting interesting people around the whole of Space and Time.

It's a bit too early to say but I THINK that is how this is playing out with Eleven.

What do you all think? Any other Doctor fans out there have any light to shed on the regenerations I didn't cover?

Friday, May 7, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Brightest Day #1

GOOD THING: For the first time in a long while, somebody realizes just how awesome Aquaman SHOULD be. Between his timely choice of targets (Somali pirates/slavers), the fact that he is teamed up with Mera as a partner in this fight and that fact that Johns/Tomasi actually acknowledge just how dangerous Aquaman SHOULD be (able to swim anywhere at any pressure = enhanced strength, endurance and bullet-proof skin)... yeah.

When this is over, I want Johns/Tomasi/Reis on an Aquaman book.

BAD THING: Apart from the scene with Martian Manhunter, nothing else in the issue is as interesting - much less as awesome - as the scenes with Aquaman and Mera. Even that Hawkman/Hawkgirl scenes are sort of anti-climactic in comparison to the revelation at the end of the Aquaman story.

And what is worst of all... before, I was indifferent to Ronnie Raymond, but now I actively want to see this idiot die. Again. Not only does he have the poor taste to show up at a funeral of someone he killed (indirectly, but still) in jeans and a T-shirt... NOW he has the nerve to complain about just wanting to hang out with his friends to the guy whose girlfriend he killed AND the guy who was trying to make an honest go of being a superhero before this.

The Final Verdict: The book starts out awesome and quickly goes downhill from there. Most of the scenes are not bad but the book just can't maintain the momentum established by the awesome opening with Aquaman and Mera. And Ronnie Raymond needs to die. Horribly. Again. Soon.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Brave And The Bold #33

Yes, I know this came out a few weeks ago. But my shop just now got it in.

GOOD THING: There are a lot of cute character moments throughout and the idea of three heroines having a night on the town is something that hasn't been explored this well in... well, I can't think of ANY comic involving heroines going out on the town that has ever been handled well.

BAD THING: The whole basic concept of this story seems at odds with the ideals of the DC Universe in general and the superhero genre in specific.

To accept this story, you have to believe that somehow Zatanna is unable to use her gifts as an oracle and a magician to stop The Joker from attacking Barbara Gordon during the events of The Killing Joke ... and yet she can gleefully use her magic to mind-control a lot of other people so that Barbara will have a great memory of what it was like to dance and feel sexy for one night after the incident that paralyzes her for life. You also have to believe that Diana will go along with this and that neither one of them is going to make any effort to STOP this from happening.

I could accept this if there had been some sign that Zatanna knew what Barbara would become and that for all the evil Joker did, this action would inspire Barbara to greater good. But there is no such assurance. Indeed, Zatanna says that you can't fight fate and that there is nothing she and Diana can do to avert what is to happen... which is totally at odds with the "never say die" attitude that is the core of the superhero.

The Final Verdict: A well-written character study which functions well so long as you don't think about the power-levels of the characters involved and are ready to accept the idea that everything is pre-determined and that heroes cannot fight destiny. If, like me, you have trouble with doing that you are likely to be sorely annoyed by this comic even as you acknowledge how well-written it is, technically speaking.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Secret Six #21

GOOD THING: I've reread this book three times and I'm still not sure if Ragdoll's shock at being called Black Alice's "boyfriend" is due to his no-longer technically being a boy or more honest shock that Alice's feelings for him weren't platonic.

BAD THING: The brief scene with Bane's new team almost seems like an after-thought compared to the scenes with our established cast. It takes up all of two pages, Giganta and Lady Vic barely get any dialogue and as hard as it was for me to care about Bane and his plans before... it's even harder now with all the really cool stuff happening elsewhere in the comic.

The Final Verdict: A solid issue, whose only flaw is giving short-shrift to the new recruits as we focus upon the long-time protagonists.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Warlord #14

GOOD THING: Well... the Mike Grell cover art is nice.

BAD THING: The rest of the artwork looks unfinished at times, with the same areas being over-inked or under-inked depending on which inker is working on which page.

The Final Verdict: This book is ending in two issues and it feels like they are rushing to a conclusion of sorts. The artwork certainly feels rushed. Also, I can't say I'm crazy about the idea that the secret of the Atlantean technology scattered about Skartaris is supposedly due to alien involvement. Still, we'll see where Grell is going with this...

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About War Of The Supermen #1

BAD THING: I had hoped that James Robinson might go a LITTLE longer before breaking his promise regarding stories where a lot of civilians and supporting cast are killed off just to create drama for the protagonists. And it's harder to top senseless death by doing anything other than BLOWING UP NEW KRYPTON!

GOOD THING: That being said, the multi-page scene where Clark searches for Kara among the debris of New Krypton and comforts her is very effective. There is no dialogue or sound at all - which makes sense given that they are in the vacuum of space - and yet Jamal Igle's art says everything we need to know. Very effective use of the graphic novel format. And this is the first time in a long while I've read anything that made Kara seem like a real teenager.

The Final Verdict: While I'm somewhat disappointed that we got such a big whammy in this first issue, I can't help but wonder how they're going to try and "top" this in the coming issues. I can't help but foresee something akin to the end of Superman: The Animated Series at this point. Still, as over-the-top as the attack in this book is, there are a lot of very effective character moments - some told entirely without dialogue through the art - that save the issue. I'm willing to give Issue #2 a shot at this point.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern Corps #47

BAD THING: Guy's exposition here is really clunky and could have been better broken up across several panels.

GOOD THING: If I can only choose one, I have to go with the scene where Guardian concierge Salaak - the last person you'd ever expect it from - gives The Guardians a good telling-off.

The Final Verdict: Easily the best book of the week. Peter Tomasi has made this the best ensemble book on the market.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Wonder Woman #43

GOOD THING: Very nice action scenes throughout, as Diana finds herself the only superhero present and accounted for in a battle with space amazons. No. Really. And this is nowhere near as goofy as it sounds.

BAD THING: Much as I do like the flashback here and as well written as the scene is, I'm not sure the Wonder Woman mythos can support yet another version of where the inspiration for Wonder Woman's uniform came from.

The Final Verdict: I am really going to miss Gail writing this book. The perfect mixture of action and drama with a wee bit of humor on the side.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About War Of The Supermen #0

GOOD THING: Whatever else may be said about this book (one of my Free Comic Book Day picks, it cannot be denied that it is a brilliant introduction to current status quo in the Superman books for those - like me - who have never really cared much for Superman as a character and haven't been keeping up on things in the past few years.

BAD THING: While the opening story by manages the neat trick of providing exposition and giving us some decent fight scenes, the closing story with Lois Lane going over her notes reads like... well, a bunch of bullet points rather than a proper story. Sure, we get the run down on who Superman is, who Supergirl is, how the heck there's a bunch of Kryptonians on Earth all of a sudden, how they got their own planet and why they're now ready to destroy the Earth... but there's no plot or action to speak of. Even the revelation at the end that Jimmy Olsen isn't really dead (I didn't even know he was suspected of being dead!) fails to deliver on the excitement of the earlier story.

The Final Verdict: A bit too expository at times but not as bad as some event-introducing comments. And the opening story with Superman fighting Zod and his war council is an effective introduction is brutally effective and grabbing your interest and explaining how things are in the Superman books right now. I wasn't planning on getting this series before. Now I think I have to.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About The Guild #2

GOOD THING: This comic is a pretty good introduction to the characters and the base concept of the series for those who haven't seen the show but is also a wonderful prequel for those who are fans.

BAD THING: I freely admit that this is a personal thing but I've never found humor based around an indifferent psychiatrist to be all that funny. And granting that one of Codex's biggest problems is being a walking doormat (especially this early in the series) I find it hard to believe that anyone would pay money to be abused like this. At least not without someone in leather underwear being involved...

The Final Verdict: Probably only of interest to fans of the on-line series or that small percentage of MMORPG-playing comic fans who aren't already familiar with The Guild, but well worth picking up if you're a Felicia Day fan. You might give it a try if you're a fan of dark comedy and geek humor.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Conan The Cimmerian #20

GOOD THING: I like the fact that Truman writes Conan as the cunning man-of-wit that Robert Howard described rather than the muscle-bound fool that he is all-too-often portrayed as. He isn't much for fancy book learning, true, but it is a matter of record that Conan did spend some time listening to philosophers and priests argue in his days as a thief and he has always had a certain eloquence with spoken words. Particularly veiled insults, as we see here.

BAD THING: The flashback device showing a defeated Conan thinking on how he came to his current sorry state - despite being included at the end of the book this time - is still tired. Thankfully, the end of the issue seems to suggest that this is the last time we will see it.

The Final Verdict: It's the highest selling sword-and-sorcery comic on the market. This is one of the issues that shows why. Truman respects the legacy and characters of Robert Howard like few other have and does an admirable job of telling unique stories and filling in the cracks between Howard's own works.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Doctor Who #10

BAD THING: This may be the single worst book cover I've ever seen in my life. And no, this scene doesn't take place in the comic.

GOOD THING: A brilliant old-school Doctor Who story, mixing elements of science-fiction and real history, as we learn about the secret life of Queen Elizabeth's counselor/court magician John Dee and his dealings with alien invaders.

The Final Verdict: Not even the presence of Martha Jones can dampen my enthusiasm for this series right now. Great artwork once you get past the cover combined with a brilliant plotline equals a great book worthy of the Who brand.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5 - Episode 3: Victory of the Daleks



Answering the call from Winston Churchill, The Doctor arrives one month late. It seems Churchill originally wanted to have The Doctor inspect the new "Ironsides" weapon that one of the British scientists created - a robot with highly advanced weaponry. Now he is content to brag about the new devices which will enable them to win the war easily.

The Doctor is quick to identify the "Ironsides" as Daleks and will not let the subject drop, going as so far as to keep hitting one of the Daleks with a wrench until it confesses, all the while shouting that they are Daleks and he is The Doctor. This leads to the scientist who created the Ironsides being exposed as a Dalek-built android and the Daleks themselves having .. a cunning plan.

The Daleks uncovered a device containing pure Dalek DNA - these Daleks presumably being some of the ones left over from Journey's End who were made from Davros's DNA and thus not Pure Daleks. The device wouldn't recognize their request to start making new Daleks until they got conformation from an outside source (i.e. their worst enemy, The Doctor) identifying them as Daleks. Not that this stops the pure-bred Daleks from destroying the impure Daleks once they are cloned, mind you...

With The Daleks using a device to force the lights in London to stay on, making the whole city an inviting target for an approaching fleet of German bombers, it falls to Amy and Winston to persuade the Dalek android to make use of some other ideas he "had" and put them to work, enabling a squadron of Spitfires to enter orbit and do battle with the Dalek flying saucer, thus disabling the uber-light-switch.

They are successful, but the Daleks have one card left to play - a bomb capable of destroying the Earth built into the android. The Doctor lets the Daleks flee rather than risk the Earth but - naturally - the Daleks power on the bomb anyway. The Doctor tries to disarm the bomb by getting the android to recall memories of his human life but it is Amy who actually gets the bomb to shut down by making the android recall a woman he was in love with once.

The Doctor and Amy leave, with Winston cursing the Doctor's refusal to help them win the war and Amy's noticing his trying to pickpocket the TARDIS key. Still, he and The Doctor part as friends, Amy comments on The Doctor's ability to make enemies so easily and as the TARDIS fades out... we see another glowing crack in the wall...


The short version is that this episode raises a whole lot of questions and none of them are particularly nice ones or questions that can be neatly answered. The long version is... well...

1. Only The End Of The World Again - We all know it's inevitable that sooner or later, The Daleks WILL return somehow, so long as there is still a Doctor to fight them. Still, would it have hurt them to have waited a LITTLE while longer before bringing them back?

2. Why does Winston Churchill have The Doctor's phone number? - Given that The Doctor never saw fit to give that information to most of his old companions, it seems a bit unbelievable that he'd give it to someone that important - much less someone who is actively trying to get him to change the course of history.

3. Why doesn't Amy's outfit raise more eyebrows? - A leggy redhead in a denim mini-skirt is going to get a lot of attention today. I can't imagine what the response would be in a 1940s British military bunker. I wouldn't expect a lot of "Oh, I say!" talk and sputtering with tea being spit out in shock... but I'd expect at least some staring or a comment upon the "revealing garment".

4. The Dalek's Plan - Okay. So let's just ignore that the Daleks are back. Again. After having been destroyed for all time. Again. And that the one ship that survived just happened to wind up in the vicinity of Earth. Again.

Ignoring ALL of that, consider this. Their entire plan to get The Doctor's testimony that they are real Daleks depends upon...

a) The Doctor just happening along to World War II England.
b) The Doctor taking issue with the "Ironsides" on the grounds that they are Daleks and not that The British Forces using them in the first place because of the obvious anachronism this causes.
c) The Doctor declaring loudly, in front of them, that he is The Doctor and they are Daleks.

I can grant the third point since most of The Doctor's incarnations DO love to make speeches about why various people suck. And I'll even spot you the second point that The Doctor would attack the Dalek problem from the viewpoint of "worst enemy" rather than trying to convince Churchill that using this technology could damage the timeline. But actively taking part in a Terran conflict on the odd chance that The Doctor might show up... yeah.

5. So does this mean that Steve Jobs is Davros? - Apparently I wasn't the first one to comment on this but I did crack wise about this while watching the episode with my friends. The Daleks - much like Apple Computers - are now available in a wide variety of colors.


I realize that this is apparently meant to be a tribute to old Doctor Who movies with Peter Cushing and the Original Series tradition of a Dalek's casing color equating to what faction they were a part of or what their main function was. That doesn't stop a bright yellow Dalek from looking any less "off".

6. The Ator Factor - The title for this section may require some explanation if you aren't a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or - more specifically - their screening of the movie Cave Dwellers.

Our hero is Ator - a fantasy hero who was half-Conan and half-MacGuvyer. The plot centers upon Ator being summoned by the daughter of his scientist mentor, to rescue her father from the warlord who holds him captive. The first two-thirds of the movie is pretty standard Beastmaster/Xena territory up until the part where Ator gets to his former mentor's home and needs to create a distraction. This leads to a scene where... well, thank goodness for YouTube, because I don't think I have the words to describe this.

Amusing, I hope you'll agree. But what does this have to do with Doctor Who and this episode in particular?

Because a barbarian suddenly building a working hang-glider and bombs with no resources is only slightly less ridiculous than the Dalek's android scientist...

a) building a working receiver that lets them listen-in on the Dalek's transmissions...
b) actualizing his sketched-out concepts for laser-cannons on Spitfires and a "gravity bubble" that can allow terrestrial aircraft to survive in outer space.
c) getting all of this built and installed on several planes
d) getting those planes into orbit where they can disable the Dalek device that is forcing all the lights in London on.
e) doing all of this in the less than ten minutes that they have before the incoming German bombers reach London.

It might have been fine if he'd said he was already working on this technology and it was all in the prototype phase. But they outright said that they didn't have any of this built yet when the news came in that the lights were on and The Germans were in the air.

And this is all ignoring how much take-off and prep-time you'd need to get a Spitfire ready and up in the air... even if you did have some kind of gravity-powered device that could presumably propel it way from the Earth safely at a faster than usual rate.

7. The Power Of Love Can Stop A Bomb - So The Daleks build themselves a realistic human android that believes it is a scientist who invented the Daleks. Fine. I can believe that. Very plausible.

And it turns out that this android has a doomsday device planted in him that will destroy the whole planet. I can believe that as well. That's a paranoid, plotting ahead, Dalekish thing to do.

And the doomsday device countdown can be dialed back and eventually reset by causing the robot to feel emotions.


This is a Dalek machine we're talking about. The Daleks are cold, mechanical killers without a speck of emotion in them. Well, apart from Hatred For Everything That Isn't A Dalek and Fear Of The Doctor, of course. It's inconceivable that they'd have the capacity to build a robot that can feel real emotions in the first place, much less that they'd allow for the capacity that the robot feeling emotions would alter how the doomsday device inside it functioned.

8. Amelia Pond - Defender of The Earth - It just occurred to me that since the first episode of this Season, Amy has done a lot more to save The Earth than The Doctor has. Last episode, it was Amy who realized that The Beast Below was sentient enough to protect children which led to her taking the actions that freed The Beast and prevented the destruction of the Great Britain spaceship. This episode, she is the one who realizes that shouting at a robot to feel something is a poor way to inspire emotion and it is she who started asking it about specific people rather than things it remembers as The Doctor does. Hell, she spots Winston Churchill attempting a bit of slight-of-hand that The Doctor misses when Sir Winston tries to steal the TARDIS Key.

9. Great Idea, Bad Execution. - In the end, I find myself more interested in how The Doctor met Winston Churchill the first time and how they became good friends than I was in this story. And when the idea behind a story is more interesting than the story itself, you have a serious problem.


* The actor playing Winston Churchill is brilliant in the part and picture-perfect to boot.

* The idea that Amy doesn't remember the Dalek's abduction of Earth (i.e. The Season Four finale Stolen Earth/Journey's End) is an intriguing bit of mystery.

* The Doctor bluffing the Daleks with a Jammy Dodger he claims is a weapon of mass destruction. Now THAT'S The Doctor we know and love in action!

* Amy continues to appeal more and more as a companion. In fact, she's in serious danger of eclipsing The Doctor as the main hero of the show. More on this in a bit.

* As much as I hated the ham-fisted way in which they were brought about... I do actually like the idea of how we now have some real Daleks again. Not the manipulated humanoid or Davros-cloned ones the Ninth and Tenth Doctor dealt with... but some REAL pure-bred Daleks.


At the end of the last episode, I thought he was a bit of a dick.

At the end of this episode, I thought he was a bit of a dick AND an idiot savant. And I'm not sure about the savant.

As I noted above, Amy has saved the day twice now by being a lot more emphatically aware than The Doctor. While this does fit in very nicely with my theory vis-à-vis his emotional state and thoughts while dying influencing the personality of his next incarnation, it does little to endear me to Matt Smith's take on The Doctor. Not when he's blundering into traps The Tenth Doctor would have seen from a mile away and not reacting in the least to some strange woman crying over bad news.

The Final Verdict: Oh look! The Daleks are back. Again. And nothing will ever be the same again. Again. The new Doctor continues to fail to impress, though Amy is growing on me as a companion. The idea of Winston Churchill meeting The Doctor proves to be far more interesting than his actually working with The Doctor this time. And a host of plot holes and big questions distract away from the novel concept when the plot proves to be too weak to hold our interest.