Comics I have read and enjoyed: Part 1 of an ongoing series (probably)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 19, 2012 by watsonprime

So, I’ve not updated in a year, sorry, I’ve been busy.

But I’m going to make an effort now to get back into things and, as a self imposed writing exercise, I’m going to write about the some of the comics I’ve read recently and just how fantastic or unfantastic they’ve been.

First off, Scott Snyder’s Batman – By far the best book of The New 52 (the huge relaunch of the entire DC line that was pretty much the biggest thing in comics) is already one of my favourite comics ever, and it’s only on issue 6. I was aware of Scott Snyder before I had started the series, but I hadn’t actually read any of his work apart from Gates Of Gotham which I loved, I have since then read Batman: The Black Mirror, which has won a huge amount of critical acclaim for it’s beautifully told crime/horror story, and have put American Vampire on my must read list.

Anyway, for those unaware, Snyder’s Batman features the Caped Crusader investigating a shadowy organisation that have ties to the foundations of Gotham City. As Batman’s investigation progresses, he faces some of his most difficult challenges yet – both physically and mentally. You may be thinking this sounds very similar to Grant Morrison’s story Batman R.I.P. which features Batman investigating the Black Glove organisation – but it’s very different. Firstly, unlike Morrison’s Batman, who was painted as the ultimate human being (which is in no way a bad thing – I’m a big fan of Morrison’s entire run on Batman) Snyder’s Batman is fallible, at first he doesn’t believe the Court Of Owls exists, believing them to be nothing more than a myth, it takes some time before he realises they’re a credible threat. One thematic similarity between Morrison and Snyder’s work is the way that they utilise the comic medium in a way that other media can’t – for example, Morrison subtly used a recurring red and black pattern throughout his story, placing panels in a checkerboard style that provided clues to the plot. Snyder, to emphasise Batman losing his mind starts placing the pages upside down, forcing the reader to physically rotate the comic. It’s a technique I don’t see very often, and would probably become cliche very quickly if repeated, but it certainly helps raise the comic above other releases.

The story itself is marvellous, with fantastic action sequences and fight scenes, but with an incredibly creepy undertone that reveals more and more upon repeated readings. This is enhanced by Greg Capullo’s artwork, which works best in more recent issues as Batman gets beaten and drugged. A standout of the book has to be the way Batman’s costume is treated, covered in rips and blood, and most interesting visually – a broken lens on his cowl, revealing one incredibly emotive eye which helps make Batman look that much more vulnerable.

It’s an absolutely first-class comic, and I’m so glad it’s one of the first New 52 titles to be collected into a hardback.

Keeping with the New 52 theme, another comic I’ve enjoyed has been the controversial Red Hood And The Outlaws, while the first issue got a lot of negative press for it’s portrayal of Starfire, the series has quickly developed and become one of my favourites. Maybe because I’m a fan of all the Robins, and the idea of a rogue Robin is interesting to me, but the series has a unique spin on what could happen to sidekicks who go off the rails (although Starfire was never a sidekick, she’s never been a ‘big name’ super hero in my opinion). Plus I really like Jason Todd’s costume, I was never a big fan of the superhero style get up he wore early on in Morrison’s Batman and Robin, but I do like the whole jacket over a costume look. Plus the fact he’s nwo wearing a batsymbol is pretty cool, referencing his ties to Batman, but also making a visual statement that he is quite far removed from his former mentor.

It’s a really 90s style comic that’s a lot of fun, and surprisingly a heart to it. There are a few quite emotional scenes that sneak up on you, in particular one flashback scene in which Bruce Wayne actually behaves like the father he should have been. Touching stuff.

Moving onto Marvel, what might have been my favourite comic of the past year is Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, the much talked about introduction of the African American/Latino Spider-Man Miles Morales. I had heard a lot of good things about Bendis’ entire run on Ultimate Spider-Man, but I only started reading during Peter Parker’s last days, so I went into the rebooted story not sure what to expect. What I found was one of the most touching and well written comics I have ever read. First off, Miles Morales is not Peter Parker, and while they both gained their powers from a spider bite, that is where the similarities end. When we first meet Miles, he’s just won a place at a prestigious school, but instead of being happy, he instead feels guilty for filling a slot that another child could have deserved more. It’s a nice way of introducing a character, and it immediately shows that this is a kid who’s smart, but not sure of himself, while being sensitive and empathetic and it helps the audience empathise with him when he encounters what happens next. See, Miles also has an uncle he’s close to, like Peter, but instead of the saint like Uncle Ben, Miles’s uncle is a career criminal who we see robbing Oscorp, and picking up a certain arachnid along the way. This leads to Miles being bitten by a similar spider to the one that bit Peter Parker, and gaining super-powers. But instead of finding joy in his new powers (which differ slightly from Peter’s) he despairs, this is after all, a world where super powered teenagers are figures of hate and scorn, and Miles believing himself to be a mutant, isn’t best pleased with his situation. It’s a bit of a slow burner, it takes some time for Miles to get used to his powers, and it isn’t until the 6th (I think, I can’t remember) issue that we see him accept that he is the new Spider-Man and put on the cool black and red suit that’s on the covers.

This is a book that literally anyone can enjoy, even non-superhero fans. I can’t recommend it enough.

There have been some other fantastic books that I’ll write about later, like Peter Panzerfaust, The Strange Talent Of Luther Strode and a whole bunch more, but I’ve already written, like, a billion words (to the closest billion).

Update

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2011 by watsonprime

So, i’ve just realised that I haven’t updated in what seems like months! While I’ve been too busy to keep up to date with reviews and stuff, I have been doing some design work which will be uploaded to the website once I talk to my webteam (i.e. my girlfriend).

I plan on posting a few reviews or something soon.

I promise.

Eric

Captain America Trailer

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9, 2011 by watsonprime

So it seems like i was one of the few people in the western world who didn’t watch the superbowl, but what I was most annoyed about missing was not the handegg tournament, but the Captain America teaser. Fortunately, by the time I woke the next morning, the video was on every single page of the internet. So I’ve decided to write down my thoughts on a 30 second video that everyone saw two days ago.

First off, how did they get Chris Evans to look so skinny? It reminds me of that scene in Spiderman where Peter Parker looks at himself in the mirror before getting his powers, and I think for that scene they filmed him before and after working out. But Chris Evans was never that thin, so I suspect some CGI trickery, and after finding out that the twins in the Social Network were played by the same guy, I now know that someones face can be put on someone else’s body and you’d never know. So it’s probably just some really skinny guy with Chris Evan’s face pasted over him, and not Evans pulling a Christian Bale.

How did I not know that Tommy Lee Jones is in this film? Cool.

Topless Chris Evans has increased ticket sales to this film and we’re only halfway through the trailer. He is totally going on my man crush list.

There’s a weird shot of Captain America jumping to grab a crane or something hanging from the ceiling. I realise that they’re only showing him mid flight for a second but it seems a bit weird, for some reason it reminds me of that bit in Space Jam when Michael Jordan scores the final points for the game by defying physics.

They are really hammering home the whole “Avengers” thing. While I never understood why a superhero team was called The Avengers, I guess it kind of makes sense with Captain America, after all surely he’s avenging the world, but it just seems like they’re crowbarring the word in where it’s not necessary. I assume that The Avengers as a team are less familiar to the public eye than say, the Fantastic Four or the Justice League, and they need to make sure people connect this film with the Avengers movie.

The Red Skull looks awesome, I was worried that a man who has a red skull for a face would look ridiculous, but somehow, somehow, they’ve made him look cool. I read somewhere that they’re downplaying the whole Nazi thing and replacing it with Hydra, which I’m sure will upset some people, but doesn’t bother me too much. After all, the basic premise of changing a man into a six foot, blonde ubermensch so that he can fight Nazi’s and all that they stand for, seems a bit weak.

We’re treated to the standard trailer ending with someone asking a question only to be answered with something cool that would look good quoted in a screen name. I imagine the shield being developed will be a major part of the story, and hopefully they’ll explain what it was doing in Tony Starks workshop.

Overall the film looks pretty awesome, plenty of fights scenes, explosions, topless Chris Evans and a decent looking Captain America uniform. Obviously it’s hard to gain a real idea of what the film will be like given less than 30 seconds of footage, but considering they’ve made both Captain America and The Red Skull look badass in a live action setting, i’m sold.

Doctor Who 27/05/96 – The TV Movie

Posted in Doctor Who on January 17, 2011 by watsonprime

There has never in the entire history of mankind been a topic that has caused as much debate as the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie starring Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor. Concieved as a way of introducing Doctor Who to American audiences, as well as rebooting the series, the movie, made by FOX is something that has caused a great deal of controversy amongst fans of the original series. The movie shows us a newly regenerated Doctor fighting the Master on the eve of the Millenium.

There are a lot of good things about The Movie, and there are a lot of bad things so I’ve decided to split up the review.

BAD THINGS

• Straight away, we are treated to a narration by the 8th Doctor, telling of how, on the planet Skaro, the Daleks put the Master on trial for his various crimes, and not only that, but they offered him one last request, which was for the Doctor to bring his remains to Skaro. This raises several questions straight away, such as, why on earth are the Daleks putting the Master on trial? Why, would they grant him a last request? How would they contact the Doctor? How could they contact the Doctor and not try to kill him? Why would the Doctor agree to a request from the Daleks and The Master combined? Why do the Daleks have such high pitched voices? Why include the Daleks at all in this film?

As this was an attempt at reaching people who had never seen Doctor Who before, it seems sensible to include some things that audiences might recognise, hence the inclusion of the Daleks, the Daleks much like the TARDIS are instantly recognisable to most people, even if they’ve never heard of a sonic screwdriver or what Gallifrey is, and including them might help people form a link with the plot. But we never actually see them, and their voices are unrecognisable, so any connection that could have been made is lost. Not only that, but we find that they are in the practice of putting their enemies on trial, instead of, y’know, exterminating them, which is pretty much what they’re famous for.

• The Seventh Doctor’s death is one of the most dissapointing things in the movie, considering that this was supposed to be the most manipulative and prepared incarnations of the Doctor, it seems incredibly out of character for him to just walk out of the TARDIS into a gunfight. While it’s not the worst death The Doctor has ever had (that honour goes to the poor 6th Doctor banging his head on the TARDIS console) considering that this may be the first time new audiences see The Doctor it’s not the best introduction the character could have had.

• No umbrella. Considering the many references to previous Doctors, the fact that we see the 7th Doctor without his trusty question mark umbrella is criminal.

• It is revealed The Doctor is half human, which is clearly an attempt to remind American audiences of that other long running sci-fi show Star Trek. The whole half-human debacle makes no sense in the grand scheme of things, apart from helping people feel less disgusted when they remember that The Doctor and Grace are an entirely different species. Later Doctor Who stories have tried to retcon this, but nevertheless, it doesn’t fit into the plot and seems a rather pointless change to the character.

• The Master while possesing a human body can spit acid which can either paralyze you or put you under The Master’s control, this makes literally no sense, is never explained, and doesn’t fit with any previous continuity. I can accept that The Master’s will to live is so strong that he can turn into some sort of psychic snake and that he is incredibly charismatic and hypnotic, but he mentions several times that the body he is using is human, so where does the acid spit come from?

• Apparently the only way to open the Eye of Harmony is to have a human eye look into it. Wait, what? Why on Gallifrey would the Time Lords build something that could only be opened by humans? It’s not like the Time Lords were particularly chummy with humans.

• I’m still not 100% sure how Grace and Chang Li come back to life, it’s something to do with going back in time and the Eye of Harmony closing. I think.

GOOD THINGS

• Paul McGann, obviously, is fantastic. Much has been said about how wasted he was in the plot and how much of a shame it is that he never got to be The Doctor for longer (in a visual medium at least). There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said, but it really is a fantastic performance and one that seems to have set a template for the next Doctors.

• The TARDIS interior is probably my favourite thing about the whole movie, while all the previous redesigns were just variations on the original 1963 design, the movie’s TARDIS is magnificent. It’s huge and gothic, with candles and clocks all over the place. The central console looks amazing too, and still requires a sharp knock every now and then to keep it going.

• Considering that Sylvester McCoy era Doctor Who had quite possibly the worst opening credits out of all the various versions of the theme, it is refreshing to see (and hear) that the movie theme is an orchestral interpretation set to an opening credits sequence reminiscent of Tom Baker’s era. While it’s a bit of a departure from the electronic sounds of previous themes, I feel that it’s an appropriate start to the movie and immediately adds a cinematic touch to the whole thing.

• While casting Eric Roberts as the Master seems like an odd choice, I think he did rather well. While he is probably the worst of the Masters, he is by no means terrible. The Master is supposed to be charismatic to the point of hypnotic, which I think Roberts pulls off pretty well in the scene where he entices Chang Li to the “Dark Side”. But the main character trait of The Master is that he is (possibly unwillingly) ridiculously camp, something that Roberts manages to succeed in being without going over the top. His little flourish when he emerges wearing his Time Lord robes is pure Master, evil – but looking good.

• Ultimately the best part about the movie is that without it, we wouldn’t have the Doctor Who we have today. From the majestic orchestral opening credits with a TARDIS flying through a time tunnel, to the grand, architecturally impressive console room, to the romantic hook, it is fairly safe to say that had the movie not laid down the groundwork for the new-Who, we would have a very different interpretation of the character today.

Overall, I like it, while the property could have been handled better, it was still a valiant effort, and considering the BBC had fallen out of love with Doctor Who, I’m glad that somebody at least tried something new with it.

Misfits Season 2 Christmas Special Review

Posted in Misfits reviews on January 13, 2011 by watsonprime

Merry Chrismisfits!

On Sunday the 19th of December 2010 was the season finale/Christmas special of Misfits Season 2, and what a fantastic series it has been. I can think of few programs that are as well put together and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The Christmas Special finds the gang three months after the last episode, trying to make it in the world after having finished their community service, Simon is in training to becoming Superhoodie and is in a relationship with Alisha, who is working in a pub with Curtis, Kelly is picking up litter, and Nathan is handing out leaflets while dressed as Father Christmas. Everyone’s pretty fed up with the best days of their life behind them, but of course, things don’t stay so boring for long, and pretty quickly everything gets shaken up.

One important new figure introduced this episode is the mysterious Power Dealer who has the ability to take peoples powers and redistribute them, while he only appears in a few scenes, he has the potential to change a lot of things for the gang. He also helps introduce the villain for the episode – a priest who loses his faith, buys a bunch of powers and starts conning people into thinking he is Jesus reborn. While “Jesus” is slowly gathering a band of disciples, the Misfits decide that they can make some money by selling their powers, of course this leads to a terrible situation that the gang are unable to help, which results in them buying some powers back.

As always with Misfits, the episode is an absolute cracker (no christmas pun intended), plus there was the added bonus of having Nikki’s purpose being revealed. The series needed a main character to kill off in the Christmas special in order to show the gang how important their powers are, but of course none of the original gang could or should be written out, so a character was introduced with the implication that she was important and given time for the audience to get used to her, which makes her death dramatic and important and sad and stuff. Fortunately, I never like the character, so while I recognise that it was a sad moment, I was ultimately relieved.

Another big change that occurred for the characters was Nathan’s new role as a dad after falling in love and starting a relationship with a heavily pregnant girl. While it seems a bit odd at first for the usually selfish Nathan to suddenly accept a whole heap of responsibility, it was shown in the first season that he has some connection with babies, plus there is a more thematic link with his association with death and rebirth being replaced with a link to new life. But maybe I’m reading too far into it, and the writers perhaps just wanted Nathan to have some more responsibility and stop being such a dick.

This was yet another flawless episode, which ended on a fantastic cliffhanger as the gang decided to get entirely new powers, which I’m sure will open up a whole world of possibility for season 3. Much like the last episode of season 1 introduced Superhoodie, we are introduced to a mysterious man who can give and take peoples’ powers. This has been a truly fantastic series without a dud episode out of the 7, and I really, really can’t wait for series 3.

Also, check out my website at http://www.watsonprime.co.uk

News and things

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13, 2011 by watsonprime

So I haven’t posted anything in a very long time, and I really have no excuse, but I promise to try harder.

The big news is that I finally have my website up and running, it has my advertising portfolio, as well as my cv and other good stuff (including this blog) so please check it out at http://www.watsonprime.co.uk

I’d like to thank my fantastic girlfriend Amy for working so hard on all the technical stuff, I’m pretty limited when it comes to anything to do with coding and other related computery things.

Thanks for stopping by

Update

Posted in Uncategorized on December 22, 2010 by watsonprime

I know I’m due a Misfits review and some more stuff, but I’ve been working in a mailroom for the past couple of weeks and I haven’t had time to do any writing. I’ll post some stuff soon.

 

‘Night

Doctor Who 06/09/89 – Battlefield

Posted in 7th Doctor, Doctor Who on December 18, 2010 by watsonprime

While a lot of people think Curse of Fenric is the best Sylvester McCoy serial, my favourite story featuring the 7th Doctor is probably Battlefield. Battlefield finds the Doctor teaming up once again with the Brigadier to fight invaders from a parallel dimension. Filled with references to previous series without being too indulgent, the story deftly mixes old myths and legends with Doctor Who continuity, as well as showing more of the darker side to the Seventh Doctor that would be explored throughout McCoy’s run.

As well as showing the darker side of The Doctor, we also see the consequences of some of his unseen travels, as the group of interdimensional invaders, based on Arthurian legend believe him to be the wizard Merlin, suggesting a parallel universe Doctor, or perhaps or the one we’re familiar with using a pseudonym. A lot of this is referenced by Steven Moffat in the most recent series, particularly River Song’s claim that most wizards in stories usually turn out to be The Doctor, as well as the The Doctor going back in time to assist himself.

The appearance of The Doctor at a UNIT site requires Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to be called out of retirement, where he quickly (after a lengthy helicopter ride) finds himself face to face with the main villain of the story – Morgaine. However, unlike the shoot first, ask later Brig we all know and love, he appears to have grown a bit wiser in his old age and has a discussion with the witchqueen, in which we find out that while she may be an evil witch, she still has her morals and her honour. Compared to the more traditional villains that The Doctor has faced, Morgaine is possibly one of the most interesting he has ever encountered, offering to cure a barmaids blindness in payment of her son’s large bar tab, while still being happy to kill anyone in her way.

The Seventh Doctor is known for being the most manipulative incarnation of the Time Lord, and in Battlefield this is very apparent, outthinking his enemies and even a possible version of himself. Not only is he manipulative, he shows the ability to perform a Jedi Mind Trick and hypnotise people into going against their will. We also see more of Sylvester McCoy’s serious face when he threatens to decapitate an enemy soldier, although the threat is quickly retracted, this is Doctor Who after all.

While the Brigadier has returned, he doesn’t really add anything to the story, apart from being a more violent counterpart to The Doctor. Although he does make a great return to form in the last episode when he tricks The Doctor in order to risk his own life saving the world. The Brig returning isn’t the only reference to the 3rd Doctor, Bessie makes a brief cameo, as well as a quick nod to Liz Shaw.

There are several great moments in this serial such as the relationship between the new Brigadier Bambera (a black woman which suggests that there is finally some diversity in the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) and the lone knight Ancelyn sent to fight Morgaine’s forces. Sylvester McCoy’s performance is also one of his best, effortlessly switching from threatening to carefree to remorseful without seeming forced. I also consider Morgaine to be one of my favourite villains from the whole of Doctor Who history.

Battlefield is a fantastic example of the direction that Doctor Who was heading in towards the end of the 80s and while it is sad that it ended only a few months later, the new series starring the 11th Doctor shows plenty of similarities to this serial, especially with references to The Doctor being a mythical being.

Misfits Season 2 Episode 6 Review

Posted in Misfits reviews on December 18, 2010 by watsonprime

Only Misfits can take a guy who can control milk with his mind and make him a genuinely scary villain. In this weeks episode, the shit hits the fan when people with superpowers are revealed to the press, which of course lands the gang in a whole heap of trouble. As per usual there is a new character with a superpower and a hidden agenda, some laugh out loud moments, and points of genuine drama and tension.

The creators of Misfits said that they would reveal a character with the most bizarre power ever seen, and they weren’t lying. In order to impress a girl, a young man reveals his power of “Lactokinesis” which immediately causes a media circus, which lands the Misfits in trouble when their probation worker rats them out after finding out that they are also superpowered. Unfortunately for the Milk Guy, his power is a bit rubbish when compared with time travel and immortality, and so he begins his rampage of murder and mayhem that ends in tragedy for all. But what can a guy who can move milk with his mind do to hurt somebody? Well, it turns out he can cause the yogurt you had for breakfast to sit in your throat until you choke to death, or he can take the cheese you had on your pizza and wrap it round your brain, or he can just stab you. Overall, he turns out to be a pretty compelling villain and while some people might think his defeat had a touch of deus ex machina about it, it was incredibly foreshadowed throughout the episode.

The real highlight of the episode was as usual, Simon, and unlike the rest of the group, he decides to avoid the media frenzy and go it alone, only to find out that it was hard and ends up staying in Nathan’s hotel room. Which allows him to eavesdrop on a conversation about himself between Nathan and Alisha, which leads to Simon finding out about his time-travelling future self. While Simon finding out that he becomes a real superhero is an important part of the episode, the most important part of the episode for Simon was showing just how he could become a superhero. As we all know, Simon is incredibly protective of his friends, and when they are threatened by the Milk Guy, he shows he is willing to sacrifice himself in order to save the one guy who can fix any problem, Curtis.

While the whole, “reverse time so the whole episode never happened” ending does seem a bit cheap, it doesn’t matter, what is important is that we were incredibly entertained, and we also know that Simon really did enjoy his time in community service, and also that the teleporting girl is a completely pointless character.

Overall, it was another fantastic episode (to be honest have there been any than less than amazing episodes?) which showed us that anything can happen in the Misfits universe, and that maybe we should eat less dairy? It was also good to see Curtis do something besides look confused, which seemed to happen with alarming regularity.

While this was technically the season finale, the Christmas special airs tomorrow, so hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to find out how future Simon can do the things that he does.

Doctor Who 25/12/08 – The Next Doctor

Posted in 10th Doctor, Doctor Who on December 16, 2010 by watsonprime

“I’m The Doctor, simply The Doctor. The one, the only and the best”

Oh Russell T Davies, you magnificent troll! I have a love/hate relationship with RTD, it’s hard to hate the person who brought back Doctor Who and made it what it is today (which is awesome), but there are moments when his sentimental fanwankery and “Doctor > Jesus” writing style reaches points of utter ridiculousness (and not in a good way). My feelings on the topic  have never been in greater conflict than when watching “The Next Doctor”. First aired on Christmas 2008, it was the first of the specials that saw David Tennant end his time as The Doctor. There was much speculation as to whether or not we would see the 11th Doctor, at that point Matt Smith hadn’t been announced, and David Morrisey was being presented as “The Next Doctor”. In this episode we learn that the man who could have been Doctor Number 11, was in fact an ordinary man who had been brainwashed into thinking he was the Time Lord, and that we probably wouldn’t see 11 until a year later.

Now, I can probably say that David Morrisey is my favourite Doctor. While he was only “The Doctor” very briefly, the small time he had in the role showed an interpretation of the character that I haven’t seen, sort of like a mixture between the 9th and 6th, and I was incredibly disappointed when it was revealed that he was just an ordinary man. His first line is one of the greatest things The Doctor has ever said, and would make a far better catchphrase than “What? What? WHAT?”. The way he introduces himself with such confidence is similar to Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor calling the Atraxi back to Earth only to verbally bitchslap them and send them running.

If the rest of the episode had been the David Morrisey Doctor maintaining that confidence, I would be happy, but sadly once he finds out his true identity the plot descends into a fairly average Cyberman plot, which climaxes in a ridiculous scene with a giant Cyberman stomping around victorian London like a steampunk megazord. While the plot is pretty unremarkable, there are some other good parts besides David Morriseys performance, the confirmation of the 1996 TV Movie as canon was a nice touch, as well as, um, the hot air balloon?

Anyway, I guess it was an ok Christmas watch, but it’s a shame that it wasn’t better considering this was the beginning of the end for the 10th Doctor. Also, it would have been much more memorable as well as groundbreaking to see the new doctor on screen before we see the previous one regenerate, but alas, this is Russel T Davies, and while the man can make one hell of a cliff hanger, the resolutions almost always fall flat.