July 20, 2018

Dreamcast20 #20: Omikron: The Nomad Soul

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

In the alien city of Omikron, the player assumes the role of a police detective investigating a string of serial killings. When that detective is killed, however, the player begins a string of reincarnations from body to body while uncovering a supernatural war running out of sight for thousands of years.

Released in 2000 to decidedly mixed reviews, Omikron: The Nomad Soul was an adventure game with varied gameplay - some action, some puzzle-solving - with the original wrinkle of reincarnating the player's character as a different person each time they die. The universe created for the game is imaginative, and for 2000 it seemed like a pretty imaginative one.

July 17, 2018

The Pull List: 27 June 2018, Part 1

It is genuinely odd, given the success of Black Panther in cinemas this year, that the response from Marvel Comics is not simply to relaunch the book with a new volume (sensible enough) but to relaunch it as a far future Star Wars-esque space opera with a whole new generation of namesake characters flying around in space fighters in battle with a galactic Wakandan Empire.

Of course it's a great and fresh take on the property, with a fast pace and a huge imagination in re-working old elements in new ways. This issue is dominated by a space dogfight, which could potential be a one-note bore. Instead writer Ta-Nehisi Coates uses it to express T'Challa's character and temperament.

The real star, however, is artist Daniel Acuña. His strong use of Afro-futurist imagery, and effective design, provides a rich enhancement to Coates' story. The book looks tremendous, and has a definite 'big budget' kind of blockbuster look to it. It's a strangely timed book, but absolutely a very welcome one. (4/5)

Black Panther #2. Marvel. Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Art and colours by Daniel Acuña.

Under the cut: a bumper crop of mini-reviews focused on Batgirl, Descender, Invader Zim, The Man of Steel, Mera: Queen of Atlantis, and Star Wars: Doctor Aphra.

July 13, 2018

The Pull List: 20 June 2018, Part 3

The second issue of Mark Waid's relaunched Doctor Strange feels a lot stronger than the first: with the slightly improbably set-up of Tony Stark sending Stephen Strange into space out of the way, the story can now move to developing a new setting, a supporting cast, and an exploration of what magic means in the Marvel Universe when you're surrounded by aliens, spaceships, and ray guns.

Waid always tends to have a strong handle on plot and character, and he's working much better now that he actually does that and not foreshadow his series via a narration-dominated prologue. New characters work well, and Strange reacts to his imprisonment on another planet in a manner that rings true. Jesus Saiz's artwork is excellent, and wonderfully detailed.

I swear you can feel the hand of Marvel Studios pulling the strings, though. With the huge runaway success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Infinity War in cinemas, this all feels like a dry run for Benedict Cumberbatch to take to the skies in future years for an intergalactic adventure. Based on this first proper issue, that hypothetical sequel just might work. (4/5)

Doctor Strange #2. Marvel. Written by Mark Waid. Art and colours by Jesus Saiz.

Under the cut: reviews of Batwoman, Delta 13, Punk's Not Dead, and The Wild Storm.

July 9, 2018

The Pull List: 20 June 2018, Part 2

With Aisha still in a coma, Medina makes the decision to return to the apartment block and uncover more information about the supernatural presence that lurks there. Meanwhile, Ethan and Reynolds discover the belongings of alleged occultist Arthur Quinn.

I have highlighted Infidel before, and with the release of its fourth issue it is well worth highlighting again. Pornsak Pichetshote is writing an effective and visceral horror story that drags in bigotry, religious faith, as well as a healthy serve of haunted house archetypes. Horror this good rarely makes it into the comic books.

One of the reasons that the horror works so well is Aaron Campbell's artwork. It is realistic, detailed, and atmospheric. It's all emphasised nicely by Jose Villarrubia's subdued colours.

I know it is a cliche to write 'they don't make them like this any more, but on the whole they really don't. There is an old-school DC Vertigo feel to this series that makes me think back on early issues of The Sandman or Hellblazer. It's great stuff. (4/5)

Infidel #4. Image. Written by Pornsak Pichetshote. Art by Aaron Campbell. Colours by Jose Villarrubia.

Under the cut: reviews of Aquaman, Daredevil, and Usagi Yojimbo.

July 8, 2018

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Looking for par'Mach in all the Wrong Places"

It is 14 October 1996, and time for another episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

When Quark's (Armin Shimerman) ex-wife Grilka arrives on the station, Worf (Michael Dorn) is immediately smitten - but due to his exiled status in Klingon society he has no means of courting her. When Quark shows a romantic interest instead, a reluctant Worf begins teaching him how to woo a Klingon woman - with the help of Dax (Terry Farrell).

Star Trek adapts Cyrano de Bergerac in the weird, faulty little romantic comedy that absolutely not be as entertaining as it is. A lot of its appeal comes down to Armin Shimerman's consistently wonderful performance as Quark. He spars well with everybody with whom he shares the screen, from an early scene with an eavesdropping Dr Bashir (Alexander Siddig) to his courting of Grilka (Mary Crosby) to his conversations with Worf and Dax. It's funny to think that Deep Space Nine started with the Ferengi being probably the most disliked alien civilization in Star Trek; by this stage of the franchise they're one of the most fleshed-out and entertaining. That's mostly down to Shimerman working his character so hard.

July 6, 2018

The Pull List: 20 June 2018, Part 1

In the last issue of Batman, the Joker tried to hold an entire church of worshippers hostage so that he could ask Batman where his wedding invite was. It was a superb single-scene issue, showcasing a conversation between hero and villain. This latest issue provides the second half: a bomb's gone off, Batman is unconscious, and Catwoman swings into action for a one-on-one all of her own.

It is truly superb: this two-part prologue to the forthcoming Bruce-Selina wedding is insightful, clever, beautifully thought-out, and emotionally powerful. While the last issue focused on Batman's direct relationship with the Joker, this issue focuses on the Joker's relationship with other other Gotham City villains - and what it means to be Batman's enemy.

Mikel Janin and June Chung's visuals make excellent work of what could be a visually limited story: two badly injured people talking with one another while both running risk of bleeding to death. Together I think they're the best storyline so far for Tim King's Batman. (5/5)

Batman #49. DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art by Mikel Janin. Colours by June Chung.

Under the cut: reviews of The Avengers, Justice League, The Man of Steel, and Star Wars: Poe Dameron.

July 3, 2018

The Pull List: 13 June 2018, Part 2

With the war against Apokolips reaching a cease-fire, Scott Free and Barda sit down to negotiate peace terms with Kalibak. The offer from Apokolips, however, may just be too high for Scott to accept.

Mister Miracle has been an absolute stand-out for DC Comics since it commenced nine months ago, combining a smart, complex script by Tom King with stunning and innovative art by Mitch Gerads. There is an insidious sort of underlying threat that has run beneath the entire book, and as the series marches towards its 12th and final issue the truth of what that threat actually is feels viscerally close. It is remarkable how tense everything is becoming.

Tom King is really demonstrating himself as DC's most valuable creative at the moment, with his intelligent and provocative work both here and in Batman. He's become one of those writers whose work you simply buy and read regardless of subject matter. This series has been pitch-perfect, and as it enters its final stretch it is difficult to imagine it's going to falter now. (5/5)

Mister Miracle #9. DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art and colours by Mitch Gerads.

Under the cut: reviews of Copperhead, Mech Cadet Yu, Oblivion Song, and Port of Earth.

July 2, 2018

The Angriest: June 2018 in review

Some fairly significant health issues (I have been diagnosed with MS) slowed down the rate of posting on The Angriest and FictionMachine, so thank you for reading what I did manage to get out over the past 30 days. The most popular post on The Angriest this past month was a review of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Tuvix" - it's my least favourite episode of the whole series, so it's nice to see something positive came out of it. Over at FictionMachine, it was the review of Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom that was the most-viewed new post (although the most-viewed overall continues to be the June 2016 essay on Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a post that just keeps on giving.

In June 2018, I reviewed five new or festival films, seven older films, five episodes of Star Trek, and 56 comic books. A complete list is included below for your convenience.