May 22, 2013
Allegories are great in science fiction - at least they are most of the time. They enable a writer to discuss and pull apart social issues or sensitive topics, and do so under a slight abstraction so that the bitter pill of social comment can be swallowed via the sugar coating of laser beams and starships. Of course I noted that allegories are great most of the time. The time when they're not necessarily great is when the writer creates an allegory, and then has his or her characters explain to the audience what it's an allegory of. This is the case with "Confessions and Lamentations", in which characters compare the plague that's killing the Markabs with the AIDS epidemic and the Black Death - and Straczynski even gets his details wrong when it comes to that medieval pandemic. It's rather sad because aside from the obvious and regularly trite dialogue this is one hell of an episode.
May 20, 2013
There is a constant problem with Doctor Who, a problem that has plagued the series since its revival in 2005 and continues to plague it after seven full seasons. It's an issue that has pretty much single-handedly ensured that while I continue to adore the original series that ran from 1963 to 1989 I only really enjoy the second series post-2005.
The issue is this: modern Doctor Who is remarkably good at making emotional sense. A lot of time is given over to how the characters feel, and react, and develop. In terms of depth and nuance it is light years ahead of the original series. On the other hand, and this is the problem, the series is not very good at making logical sense. Put simply: the plots are nonsensical. Too much goes unexplained, or gets hand-waved away, and episodes are more prone to wrapping up thanks to some emotional "clap-your-hands" mumbo-jumbo than they are to the Doctor coming up with a clever plan and outwitting his opponents.
"The Name of the Doctor" is a classic example of this. Emotionally speaking, it's close to perfect. Narratively speaking, it's a bunch of old cobblers. Who knows what was actually going on? I don't. I'm going to hazard a guess that you don't. Maybe head writer and executive producer Steven Moffat does, but to be completely honest I doubt that he does. This isn't a show that thinks any more - it's a show that feels.
Doctor Who is an international television phenomenon now, with massive audiences in the UK, USA, Australia and all around the world. Jump back 10 years, however, and it was a long-dead children's drama, obsessed over by a small community of hardcore fans but fondly and vaguely remembered by an entire generation of adults. It used to be that if Doctor Who came up at a party, and my excessive fondness for the show became known, I'd be asked one of three questions. 1. "Do you remember the one with that creepy walking hand?" 2. "Do you remember that one with the big spiders?" 3. "Do you remember the one with the giant maggots?"
The giant maggots. They're possibly one of the grossest monsters Doctor Who ever had; after all, who on Earth actually likes maggots? They're disgusting. They sort of pulsate. They squirm over rotting things. Just the thought of them make most people involuntarily shudder. I suppose it's no surprise that they, and "The Green Death", are among the most fondly and distinctively remembered elements of the original series.
May 19, 2013
The first step was getting the big two superhero publishers to start publishing more female characters and I think they are doing it - the next step is to actually get people reading them. Red She-Hulk was cancelled this week as well, and Captain Marvel is looking relatively shaky. I'm wondering: is the problem that readers (still primarily male) aren't interested, or is it that publisher's aren't highlighting these characters as well as they should? All I know is that I'll be looking to replace my cancelled titles with something similar - if it's available.
Reviewed this week: Age of Ultron, Batgirl, Batwoman, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, It Girl and the Atomics, Legion of Super-Heroes, Sesame Street, Sword of Sorcery, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and Wonder Woman.
May 17, 2013
Ask any Doctor Who fan, and the answer to this question is obvious: clearly, after seven seasons it's Tom Baker. The problem is this: how do we measure the length of a particular Doctor's tenure? We could, for example, do it the easy way with the number of televised seasons each actor starred in as the Doctor.
There we go. Done and dusted. Or is it?
There we go. Done and dusted. Or is it?
May 15, 2013
The latest fear seems to be that ratings under Steven Moffat have nosedived, and that things were so much more popular under previous producer Russell T Davies. I figured it was worth taking a quick look at those stats and see if this was true.
May 14, 2013
It's such a silly title. It doesn't even have a colon: it's not Star Trek: Into Darkness. There is no sub-title here, it's just one sentence, like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Star Trek Into Darkness. It makes me think they just need to turn the lights on. Then again, it's yet another Hollywood film retro-fitted into 3D, so given the dimming effect of those polarised 3D glasses, Star Trek Into Darkness is weirdly appropriate.
This is a mostly great film dragged back by a few elements of monumental stupidity. The stupid bits aren't easy to discuss without revealing key elements of the plot, so we'll put the rest of this review under a cut.
May 13, 2013
Demon Knights, Dial H and Threshold all reach their final issues in August, but I was surprised to see Legion of Super-Heroes is ending as well. I was even more surprised to see that both Stormwatch and Batwing have been given temporary reprieves. I know both books have recently received soft reboots (okay, in the case of Jim Starlin's take on Stormwatch it's a ridiculously hard reboot) but they haven't really affected sales enough to justify their continued publication.
Of course four cancellations means four potential new titles. Perhaps it's time to look over DC's back catalogue of properties to work out what might be getting dusted off next. Booster Gold? Kamandi? A Demon solo book? A Robin solo book? Of course for that last one they'll need a new Robin.