August 31, 2012

Popular Posts: August 2012

So what were the most popular posts on this blog for the month of August? They're linked below - for some reason that Pale Rider review is insanely popular.
  • Pale Rider (link)
  • Secret of Mana (link)
  • Judging the New 52 #12: Batgirl (link)
  • On Wonder Woman's Costume (link)
  • The Pull List: 1 August 2012 (link)
As for posts actually published in August, the five most popular were:
  • Judging the New 52 #12: Batgirl (link)
  • The Pull List: 1 August 2012 (link)
  • The Dungeon Masters (link)
  • Random Comic: Mister Miracle #3 (link)
  • The Pull List: 15 August 2012 (link)

The Pull List: 29 August 2012

Of course the "big news" issue of this week is Justice League #12, in which Superman and Wonder Woman hook up as a romantic item. This got reported throughout the American entertainment press, and from a quick flick-through at the comic shop appears to be the kick-off for DC's massive Trinity War storyline coming in 2013. That's about the extent of my knowledge on this matter, however, and actually a bit beyond my level of interest as well.

If there's one thing DC has demonstrated in recent years, it's that their fixation on their own past inevitably leads them to restoring Silver Age status quos. Hal Jordan is ultimately going to be Green Lantern. Barry Allen must be the Flash. Barbara Gordon will be Batgirl. By the same token, Superman will always be in love with Lois Lane. It's hard to see this new liaison as anything beyond what it superficially seems to be: a canny stunt designed to drum up interest a year into the New 52.

So what else came out this week? Under the cut: Aquaman, Debris, Detective Comics, The Flash, National Comics: Looker, Prophet and X-treme X-Men.

August 30, 2012

Free Enterprise #12: "Dear Doctor"

Dr Phlox narrates a letter to his counterpart in the inter-species medical exchange while investigating a mysterious virus that is decimating a pre-warp drive civilization. When his analysis determines that the species' extinction is a natural phenomenon, he finds himself at odds with Captain Archer over how to deal with its future.

"Dear Doctor" takes a strong lead (including its title) from the acclaimed series of "Dear Dad" episodes in the legendary American comedy M*A*S*H. In those episodes Captain Hawkeye Pierce would narrate the episode in the form of a letter drafted to his father. The narration allowed an insight into the character that would be impossible through traditional narrative means, and that insight is copied here in Enterprise. We get to learn exactly how Dr Phlox is finding his tenure onboard the Enterprise because the narration allows him to directly tell us of his experience.

And what an experience. There are so many interesting elements and layers to this episode that I'm not sure where to start.

August 29, 2012

Babble On #19: "Legacies"

A Minbari battle cruiser arrives at Babylon 5 as part of a lengthy tour displaying the dead body of one of their greatest war heroes - but when the body goes missing, the situation rapidly turns ugly. Meanwhile an orphan hiding in the station's lower levels begins to exhibit telepathic powers - putting Ivanova and Talia Winters into conflict over the girl's future.

Oh thank goodness, a decent episode. "Legacies" is a wonderful palette cleanser after the tedious cliches of "Eyes" and "Grail". It draws on several of the series' ongoing plot threads and teases out a little more clarity and information on each. It's all still a little too broadly drawn for my liking, but it's certainly a massive improvement.

August 28, 2012

Blog Space Nine #10: "The Alternate"

Odo receives a visit from Dr Mora, the Bajoran scientist who first examined him. Mora thinks he has located a planet in the Gamma Quadrant with similar lifeforms to Odo, so together they embark on an away mission to test Mora's theory. The mission ends in a medical emergency, leading to a mysterious and violent shapeshifter lurking in DS9's ventilation system.

Odo receives a key piece of backstory here with the introduction of Dr Mora. He's a nicely ambivalent character, so full of affection for Odo however it's a form of affection that leads us to think he considers Odo more of a pet or scientific experiment than a sentient being. Odo's opinion of Mora is similarly conflicted: he resents the doctor for treating him like an experiment, yet at the same time Mora is the closest thing Odo has to a parent. It's fertile ground for drama.

August 27, 2012

Judging the New 52 #14: The Savage Hawkman

I am a big fan of Hawkman, irrationally so, and so when DC announced one of their New 52 launch titles would be The Savage Hawkman I got pretty excited. The character had suffered over the previous 30 years from reboot after reboot, each of which seemed to complicate his origin and backstory more than you'd think was possible. Was he simply an archaeologist with a cool costume? A reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian? An alien from the planet Thanagar? The answer seemed to simultaneously be yes, no, maybe, sometimes and a mixture of all three. The line-wide reboot seemed a great opportunity to finally clean the character up, pick one origin and stick to it, and return to telling great stories of fighting crime with wings and a really big mace.

Unfortunately the published comic left a great deal to be desired. The origin still seemed unclear to me, Philip Tan's art didn't seem to be a great fit for the character and the storyline seemed confused and unsure, as if editorial mandates were changing every month as the sales continued to plummet. Tony Daniel was the writer, and as I mentioned last time when discussing Detective Comics I don't think writing is his strongest suit. At issue #9 a new creative team was dropped in, with Rob Liefeld plotting and co-writing with Mark Poulton and Joe Bennett providing the art. Unsurprisingly it took three issues for Liefeld to introduce a Deadpool clone, which I find hilarious since Deadpool is a noted Deathstroke clone and Liefeld has been writing and drawing Deathstroke as well. Joe Bennett's artwork has been great, however, and gone a long way to making the title about as enjoyable as its been since it debuted last September.

So how badly have the sales been on The Savage Hawkman? To what extent did Rob Liefeld's much-heralded appointment save the comic?

August 26, 2012

Babble On #18: "Eyes"

Garibaldi and Lennier rebuild a 20th century motorcycle. Commander Sinclair falls under internal investigation by an Earth Alliance Colonel, who's arrived on the station with a PsiCorp operative in tow, but who may have a personal vendetta of his own...

And he would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for those pesky kids. "Eyes" is woefully simplistic and trite, with cardboard cut-out characterisation and tediously cliched conflict. It's the sort of episode I used to point to after the first time I watched this series; that hideous blend of po-faced gravitas and Scooby Doo-level plots. A series that can't help itself from shouting from the rooftops how important and groundbreaking it is, all the while serving up something that would be a below-average episode of Star Trek. Or worse. Now I'm finding during this rewatch some episodes of Babylon 5 really are very good. Just not this episode.

August 24, 2012

Trust me, buy the Jaws blu-ray

As part of their 100th anniversary celebrations Universal Pictures has released to blu-ray what is arguably one of the best films the studio ever produced: Steven Spielberg's Jaws. This isn't a review of the film itself; rather, it's just a quick note to strongly recommend you buy it.

Blu-ray hasn't felt particularly amazing when I've watched recent movies - let's say anything made post-1990. I'm sure the picture and sound quality of these later films is exceptional, but being completely honest I've never actually noticed it. Watch anything over 30 years old and the difference is remarkable. Fine details you never had the chance to notice before are suddenly apparent. The sound is vivid. As a filmgoing experience these older movies are giving me more than I've received watching some of them off 35mm in a cinema.

Jaws is truly something. It was already one of my favourite films, and technically speaking it's still one of Spielberg's best - hell, anyone's best. This new release however is so visually crisp and audibly clear that it's been like watching it for the time all over again.

The disc comes with a bunch of special features which I haven't sampled yet, including the documentary The Shark is Still Working, so I can't comment on those. For the film alone, however, this is a must-buy. If you own a blu-ray player, this is the sort of film you should be purchasing.

Judging the New 52 #13: Detective Comics

Of all the DC comics to get renumbered at issue #1, the only one that hurt me on a base emotional fanboy level was Detective Comics. I mean, it's Detective Comics. This is the title that DC Comics is named after, for goodness sake. It was up to issue #881 when the New 52 hit. Next March it would have celebrated its 900th issue. I suppose it still will, but it won't feel like it counts because DC renumbered it.

Even sadder is that just before it was rebooted, Detective (or 'Tec, as some fans seem to call it) was firing on all creative cylinders with scripts by Scott Snyder and art by Jock. Anyone who hasn't read that final set of comics should absolutely track down the Batman: The Black Mirror collected edition and have a read. The reputation Snyder built up with that storyline has absolutely paid off over on Batman, where he's been largely responsible for making it the highest-selling book of the New 52. Back at Detective Comics, we've had Tony Daniel providing both scripting and art for the last 12 months.

August 23, 2012

Random Comic: Hawkman #6 (1987)

There's a beautiful piece of narration at the beginning of Hawkman #6, first published in January 1987 and part of the second volume for the perennial DC Comics superhero. It's written by Tony Isabella, and it's worth quoting in full:
"It's a jungle out there!" Those were the last words of Phil Kansy, a goodnatured cop with a knack for helping his fellow police officers laugh through the fear that could kill him. The thing called Lionmane had turned the Midway City Zoo into an alien jungle, complete with monstrous beasts that were already making short work of the zoo's usual fauna. Sure the cops were scared - so Kansy made a dumb joke and they all laughed.
Then something that looked like a vacuum cleaner hose with teeth clamped itself around Kansy's face and ate him from the inside out in six seconds flat. All of a sudden, nobody was laughing any more.
Thankfully this narration is accompanied by a splash page of an angry, magically-powered anthropomorphic lion and not, as the narration might suggest, a man getting eaten from the inside by a demonic tooth snake.

Free Enterprise #11: "Silent Enemy"

Some episodes of Enterprise have really surprised me with how exciting and dramatic they've been. "Cold Front", for example, had time travel, secret agents sneaking around the ship and a really dark, menacing tone. "The Andorian Incident" had shootouts, espionage and high-stakes drama. "Silent Enemy" has Hoshi trying to find out what Lt. Reed's favourite food is.

I'm not joking about this. Half of the episode is spent with Captain Archer using the new subspace communications technology to grill Reed's parents on his favourite food, and Hoshi subsequently gives the system a workout interrogating Reed's sister, friends and former colleagues. She even convinces Dr Phlox to violate doctor-patient confidentiality in her hunt for the answer. Apparently it didn't occur to anyone among the 83 crew members of the Enterprise to walk up to Reed and ask "Hey man, what's your favourite food?"

Here's a hint: it's pineapple.

August 22, 2012

The Pull List: 22 August 2012

Reviews of the comics I purchased this week are under the cut, as always, but first up I wanted to draw your attention to a trade paperback coming out this week. The first six issues of the revived Prophet have been collected together in a specially priced trade - US$9.95 or your local equivalent. This is an exceptional price for six comic books, even more so because Prophet is one of the best new series of the year.

It's actually an old Rob Liefeld comic, but don't let that put you off. It has been re-envisaged by writer Brandon Graham into a surreal science fiction epic. Fans of French science fiction of the likes of Jean "Moebius" Giraud should run to their local comic shop to buy this. It's strange, eerie and absolutely beautiful to look at. Science fiction fans take note: I expect to see this on the Hugo Awards ballot in 2013 for best Graphic Story alongside Vaughn and Staples' Saga.

Reviewed this week: All-Star Western, Batman Incorporated, The Flash, Planetoid.

Dragonquest (2009)

I was sick yesterday, and at home away from work. When you're sick you sometimes do weird things. I often undertake binge viewing of Friends, for example. Yesterday, however, I found myself watching the fantasy film Dragonquest. I knew it was going to be cheap and awful going in. I knew I had hundreds of films on the shelf that I could have watched that would have been better made, better performed and written with some vague semblance of competence. What can I say? When you're sick, you sometimes do weird things.

Dragonquest is a 2009 direct-to-DVD fantasy film, directed by Mark Atkins and produced by the Asylum. The Asylum are a very odd production house whose output primarily consists of vaguely disguised rip-offs of big budget Hollywood blockbusters. They move from development to release in the space of four months, spending less than a million dollars per film. They make absolute trash, but occasionally watchable trash. Dragonquest definitely falls into the "watchable trash" category, but don't be under any illusions if you follow my lead and watch this: this is not a good movie.

August 21, 2012

The Dungeon Masters (2008)

Scott Corum is a frustrated wannabe author seemingly trapped in a loveless marriage. Richard Meeks is an army reservist and nudist. Elizabeth Reesman is a World of Warcraft addict who likes to put on black make-up and a white wig and pretend to be a dark elf. All three are role-playing game enthusiasts, and all three form the subject matter of The Dungeon Masters.

The Dungeon Masters, from director Kevin McAlester, is a very difficult film to review. On the one hand it feels exploitative, because it grabs three enthused gamers and arguably makes a mockery of their lives. On the other hand, as the film progresses we can't help but become engaged in their personal affairs and hoping that all three will find happiness and fulfilment in their endeavours. In the end I find myself disliking the film but liking its subject matter - I'm not sure if that makes it worth a recommendation or not.

August 20, 2012

American Widow, by Alissa Torres and Sungyoon Choi (2008)

On 11 September 2011 Colombian immigrant Luis Eduardo Torres heads off for his second day of work at New York's World Trade Center. He doesn't come home. What follows is a deeply emotional story as his widow, seven-months-pregnant Alissa Torres, negotiates the devastated, frustrated and painful aftermath without him.

American Widow is an exceptional graphic novel. It is a memoir by 9/11 widow Alissa Torres, whose deeply moving experience is illustrated sensitively and artfully by Sungyoon Choi. At times it almost feels like the reader is intruding: Torres is fearless in her expressions of sadness at her husband's death, frustration with the compensation and support that she is owed but does not receive, and anger at Eduardo (as she calls him) for failing to come home on 11 September leaving Alissa to raise their child on her own. I spent most of my comic-reading time on stories of costumed vigilantes or super-powered mutants - occasionally reading a graphic novel like this reminds me of how versatile and effective the graphic storytelling medium can be.

August 17, 2012

The Pull List: 15 August 2012

Before getting onto the comics I did buy this week, I do want to give a shout out to the most idiotic book published by a comics company this month. It's something that, with one tweak, I would have purchased without hesitation. As it stands, it's driving me up the wall.

I'm talking about DC's publication of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles in hardcover format. In one volume. That's right, 59 issues of the comic - the complete three-volume run - in one volume. More than 1,500 pages. How am I supposed to read that book? It's the size of a church Bible. You can't read it easily in bed, lying on the couch, on a train- I'm not sure you can read it anywhere other than at a desk or table like it's an university textbook.

I can't stand these ridiculous 1,000+ page omnibus editions that DC and Marvel keep releasing. They're too heavy, too unweildy, they look terrifyingly close to snapping their spines every time they're opened, and they look ridiculous on the shelf.

I'd buy a hardcover edition of The Invisibles if the 59 issues were split across, say, five volumes. I'm buy the absolute hell out of those books. You could put one of each of the five main characters on each cover. It would look great. The omnibus edition just looks ridiculous and unreadable. It's on sale from next Wednesday if you're completely insane.

Under the cut: Batman Beyond, Batwoman, Daredevil, Legion of Super-Heroes, The Massive, Pathfinder, Revival, Saga, The Shade, Wander: Olive Hopkins and the Ninth Kingdom and Wonder Woman.

August 15, 2012

Daredevil, Fox and Marvel: Is This a Good Thing?

In recent months 20th Century Fox has been in a bit of a race to get production started on a new Daredevil film. They already produced one take on the Marvel comics character back in 2002, directed by Mark Steven Johnson and starring Ben Affleck. While that version wasn't particularly well liked, and didn't set the global box office on fire, it did succeed enough to inspire a spin-off starring Jennifer Garner (Elektra) and a decade-long sort of vague intention on Fox's part to revisit the character and give him another shot.

The problem Fox has is that the time to give Daredevil another shot is rapidly running out. Marvel Studios, who since selling Fox the rights have become a fully fledged mini-studio within Walt Disney Pictures, refuse to extend Fox's option. This makes sense: since launching their own film franchises Marvel have struck box office gold with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor and this year's mega-hit The Avengers. Why give away a popular character, and its likely box office revenue, to one of your competitors? If Fox don't commence shooting on a Daredevil sequel or reboot by the start of October, they lose the ability to make Daredevil at all. There have been a few hurried attempts to kickstart a new Daredevil project, most recently involving director Joe Carnahan (Narc, The A-Team) and promising a deliberately gritty, 1970s-styled take on the character. Today Carnahan's noted on his own Twitter that his project is almost certainly dead in the water.

So come October it's relatively certain that Fox will be letting their option lapse and Daredevil is heading back to Marvel. Great news for Marvel and Walt Disney, and great news for comic book fans worldwide, right?


The Quatermass Experiment (1953)

On 2 June 1953 Queen Elizabeth II was coronated in a formal ceremony at Westminster Abbey. The coronation was a cultural milestone in Great Britain, not simply because of the crowning of a new monarch but also because of the dramatic increase in the number of television sets owned across the country. It was the first coronation to be televised, a decision made by the young Queen in defiance of government recommendations to the contrary. British families desperate to "join in" on the event purchased televisions by the thousands.

In August 1952, just ten months earlier, the total television viewing audience in Britain was approximately four million people. At 11:00am on 2 June 1953, 20.4 million people crowded around small television sets across the country. Television in Great Britain was no longer an arts-orientated experiment, confined to a small viewing audience in London. Television had broken into the mainstream.

August 14, 2012

Judging the New 52 #12: Batgirl

When DC made their big line-wide reboot, the one title I was quite upset to be losing was Batgirl. In the two years leading up to the New 52, DC had introduced an all-new Batgirl in the form of Stephanie Brown, and it was a marvellous superhero comic. Funny, dramatic, well written and engagingly drawn, it found a new direction for the Batgirl persona in that way DC used to be so good at.

The core appeal for the DC Universe used to be its sense of legacy. The same character wouldn't stay as a superhero forever. Jay Garrick was the Flash, sure, but he eventually gave way to Barry Allen, and subsequently Barry gave way to Wally West. There had been five in-continuity Robins (including Stephanie). There have been three Batmen. Multiple Blue Beetles, Supergirls and Green Lanterns.

Through this process of character evolution and legacy-building, the Silver Age Batgirl Barbara Gordon found herself shot through the spine by the Joker and rendered a paraplegic. While the initial storyline ("The Killing Joke") was a classic case of "women in refrigerators" (look it up), she was subsequently transformed into the awesome Oracle, a computer hacker working as an intelligence source for the world's superheroes. She wasn't the comic book industry's most famous disabled character (for some reason people keep overlooking Daredevil), but she was easily a solid second.

August 13, 2012

Cool World: Hidden Agenda

I don't understand people who dismiss Hong Kong. I've been involved in many conversations - more than I can count, actually - where someone mentions they went to Hong Kong, and someone else asks them what it was like, and the first person sort of sniffs and says something along the lines of 'Oh, it's OK, if you like that sort of thing. It's all air-conditioned shopping malls, really. Totally soulless.' Then they usually recommend some sort of hipster-ish holiday destination they think is much better. And this saddens me every time, because it means the first person failed to find the real Hong Kong beyond the touristy veneer, and it means the second person has probably been discouraged from ever trying.

Hong Kong is an awesome city, and it's only getting more awesome over time. In recent years, for example, there has been a positive explosion of independent music in the city that defies its image of clean-cut idol singers and manufactured girl groups. One of the epicentres of this musical scene seems to be the live music venue Hidden Agenda.

Random Comic: The Spectre #20 (1988)

The Spectre is a DC character with which I don't have a lot of experience. He's one of their older heroes, making his debut in 1940's All Fun Comics as the resurrected spirit of murdered cop Jim Corrigan and continuing in one form or another ever since. What I have read of the Spectre has been fairly recent stuff, where he seems less of a superhero and more of an inexplicable force of nature (Day of Vengeance, for example). I also read some of that dreadful period where Corrigan went AWOL and Hal Jordan became the Spectre for a while.

Seriously, is there a period in the character's history in which Hal Jordan is notcompletely tedious and unlikeable. He is easily my least favourite Green Lantern. I would choose a Green Lantern comic starring that sentient planet that Alan Moore cooked up over another issue starring Jordan. I'm a Kyle Rayner fan. He always seemed a likeable guy that I could relate to.

Sorry, this is supposed to be a review of The Spectre.

August 10, 2012

Random Comic: Little Shop of Horrors #1 (1987)

This one is quite frankly bizarre. Tie-in comics were a big thing in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, with each Hollywood blockbuster accompanied by an obligatory comic book adaptation. By the 1980s these adaptations were pretty much the dominion of Marvel and DC. I remember reading quite a lot of them as a kid - back then it was one of the easiest ways to re-experience your favourite film.

This, however, is a really odd one. It's an adaptation of the comedy musical starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin, except of course being a comic book it can't be a musical. The film relied a lot on its cast to generate the humour, and without the performances Little Shop of Horrors becomes less funny and more horrific. It's essentially played straight, and that makes for one bizarre adaptation. If anything it's more like those 1950s EC comics that got Fredric Wertham so hot under the collar.

Babble On #17: "Grail"

A mysterious stranger comes to Babylon 5. This one is, depending on your point of view, a travelling human monk on an endless quest through the galaxy to find the Holy Grail (yes, the actual holy grail), or a homeless wandering eccentric. 'Isn't this guy awesome?' ask Delenn and Lennier, who clearly have a long-held cultural love for homeless wandering eccentrics, and promptly demand that Commander Sinclair personally welcome Sir Wanders-a-Lot to the station. Meanwhile J.F. Sebastian from Blade Runner has apparently teamed up with Ambassador Kosh to suck the brains of anybody who might lead to him being arrested for racketeering and drug dealing. Or something.

Oh my me, this season is really beginning to feel like a trial. I was previously critical of J. Michael Straczynski's abilities as a writer, but I'm developing a newfound respect for the man's work by watching this string of Babylon 5 episodes written by other people. This one is by Christy Marx, and it may very well be the least enjoyable episode so far.

August 9, 2012

The Pull List: 8 August 2012

Another week of DC's sprawling Before Watchmen prequels (Ozymandias #2 for those keeping track), and another week where I simply don't care about them. I don't begrudge DC for publishing them, I don't begrudge Alan Moore for wishing they wouldn't, and I certainly don't begrudge the writers and artists who are producing them (I've seen at least one individual online label them "scabs", which is more than a little harsh and actually very insulting). I just don't care. Watchmen is a perfectly constructed 12 issue maxi-series with a beginning, middle and end. I don't care what happened before it, and before DC get any ideas I definitely don't care what happens after it. I'm happy with the collected trade paperback I have and don't need further backstory.

I was going to buy and review The Massive #3 this week, but the shipment to my local comic shop was damaged so I'll have to wait on that one. Whatever week it arrives, I'll try to review it. Based on the first two issues though it's definitely a comic you should consider picking up, particularly if you liked previous titles by Brian Wood such as DMZ.

Under the cut: Batgirl, Batman, Batman and Robin, Demon Knights, Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE, It Girl and the Atomics, Spider-Men.

August 8, 2012

Babble On #16: "TKO"

Rabbi Koslov, a close personal friend of the Ivanova family (what's left of it - Susan's parents and brother are all dead), arrives on the station to convince Susan to sit shiva for her father (see "Born to the Purple"). Meanwhile an old friend of Garibaldi's also arrives, intent on competing in the mutai, a vicious alien martial arts tournament that often maims or kills its competitors.

Welcome to "Alien Kung Fu Rocky", also known as "TKO". This is commonly cited as one of Babylon 5's worst-ever episodes, although to be honest I've already sad through more than one that was worse since starting this re-watch. I wouldn't call this episode dreadful, but it's certainly an oddly breezy and cheerfully incompetent hour of television.

August 7, 2012

Judging the New 52 #11: Grifter

With the vast back catalogue of characters and teams available to DC Comics, it always beggared belief that they'd devote one of their 52 relaunch titles to Grifter. I don't think the character had ever had a solo comic before, and had instead been just one of several leads characters in Jim Lee's WildCATS. With the New 52 the character was completely rebooted and re-envisioned, and is now an ex-Special Forces soldier fighting an alien invasion.

I haven't read much of Grifter beyond flicking through the odd issue in the comic shop, so I'm not really qualified to properly review it. What I can say is that what I've seen has absolutely not piqued my interest in the slightest.

After lacklustre sales the reins were handed over to writer Rob Liefeld, whose work interests me even less than Grifter does, so I haven't followed it at all in the last few months.

August 6, 2012

Cool World: Bruce Lee and the Avenue of the Stars

Running along the foreshore of Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, there's a tourist attraction known as "the Avenue of the Stars". It's basically Hong Kong's own version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with numerous cement sections of the pavement containing actors' signatures and handprints.

There are handprints by the world-famous (Jackie Chan, Jet Li), as well as many by actors probably not well known outside of Asia. It's a mild diversion in itself (Jet Li has astonishingly small hands), but it does feature two very cool highlights. Firstly there's the view of Hong Kong itself, which looks fantastic all lit up at night. Secondly, there's this fabulous bronze statue of Hong Kong's most famous screen icon, the late Bruce Lee.

Random Comic: Mister Miracle #3 (1996)

Mister Miracle was originally the longest-running of Jack Kirby's now-legendary New Gods comic books, published from April 1971. Escape artist Mister Miracle was secretly Scott Free, super-powered God of the Fourth World. In an attempt to bolster its sales, Mister Miracle shifted away from pop art mythology to more conventional superheroics, but sales didn't pick up and it was cancelled after 18 issues. Like most superheroes, however, Scott Free hung around, joined the Justice League of America and eventually picked up a second monthly series that ran from 1989 to 1991.

This third volume of Mister Miracle was written by DC editor Kevin Dooley, whose editorial work had included both Legends of the Dark Knight and Green Lantern. The art was provided by Steve Crespo (pencils) and Marcio Morais (inks), and the comic was published with vivid colours on nice high-quality, glossy paper. It only lasted for seven issues, at which point all New Gods-related titles were cancelled in favour of the Jack Kirby's Fourth World comic (which itself lasted 20 issues). The character was later re-developed by Grant Morrison as part of his Seven Soldiers set of miniseries.

August 5, 2012

Blog Space Nine #9: "Rivals"

A charismatic con artist (Chris Sarandon) comes into possession of a strange electronic game, and manages to spin it out into a rival entertainment business to Quark's. Meanwhile, Chief O'Brien has constructed a racquetball court on the station, and has challenged Dr Bashir to a game.

This is usually remembered, in the style of Friends, as "The One With Chris Sarandon". He's a gifted comic talent, having previously appeared in The Princess Bride, Fright Night and The Nightmare Before Christmas (his voice did, at any rate). He brings a lot to the table in this episode as the El-Aurian con artist Martus. There seems to be a requirement with El-Aurians to be played by famous actors. Sarandon plays one, Whoopi Goldberg played another, Malcolm McDowell played a third. While Goldberg got a lot of great stuff to work with over the years as Guinan, McDowell had to put up with a fairly tedious movie script and Sarandon hasn't fared much better.

August 4, 2012

Random Comic: Doctor Strange #56 (1982)

Dr Stephen Strange, master of the mystic arts, unexpectedly allows a TV camera crew into his house to recount his entry into the world of the occult. The camera crew are not what they seem to be however - but Dr Strange is still one step ahead.

I've been going comic book crazy lately, not only continuing to buy new titles each week but scouring local comic shops and the Internet for trade paperbacks and individual back issues that strike my fancy. Trade paperbacks may be easier to stick on a shelf and loan to friends, and they're certainly much more durable, but there's still something nice about a 20-24 page magazine-format comic that you can flip through and enjoy. For one thing there's rarely a spine to accidentally crack.

The Pull List: 1 August 2012

Right now I'm reading a hell of a lot of comic books, and while I co-host an excellent comic book podcast that I'm certain you all listen to, I usually only talk about maybe two or three books every two to three weeks. So if I can keep up, I'm going to start blogging short, snappy reviews of all the books I've been reading each week. Let's start this week, with 10 comics published in the week of 1 August 2012.

Under the cut: Action Comics, Animal Man, Batwing, Daredevil, Detective Comics, Hawkeye, Monster Dinosaur, Stormwatch, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and Worlds' Finest.

August 3, 2012

Free Enterprise #10: "Cold Front"

Remember that huge open plot thread that Enterprise opened way back in its pilot episode? Temporal cold war, the Suliban, mysterious shadowy figures manipulating... something. It's finally back, arguably quite a bit late for me to fully care as much as I should.

While the Enterprise encounters a travelling group of pilgrims waiting for a stellar flare, one of Archer's crew reveals he's from 900 years into the future and has been working undercover on the ship for the past few months to fight in a 'temporal cold war'. At the same time the Suliban operative Silik has infiltrated the ship, and is on the hunt for the temporal agent.

August 2, 2012

Blog Space Nine #8: "Sanctuary"

A damaged spacecraft comes through the wormhole, bringing with it representatives of an exiled civilization. Before long the station is overrun with refugees, who have fixed Bajor in their sights as their final destination.

One of the strengths of the original Star Trek was its use of science fiction adventure stories to tell allegories about real-world social issues. It's something that became less significant as Star Trek moved on, and the franchise for the most part replaced allegory with character and continuing narratives. "Sanctuary" is a surprising step backwards: it's a story about refugees, and what to do with them, and how the selfishness of a government can be to everyone's detriment. Had it not been produced in the USA in November 1993 I would have sworn it was a thinly veiled swipe at Australia's refugee policy. That's the beauty of a good allegory - it can be many things to many people.

August 1, 2012

Popular Posts: July 2012

What were the most popular blog posts on The Angriest in July 2012? They're all linked below!
  1. Pale Rider review. (link)
  2. On Wonder Woman's costume. (link)
  3. Secret of Mana review (link)
  4. Whither Batman? The Future of the Dark Knight on screen (link)
  5. Comic Shop Book Club #1: Captain Marvel (link)

Free Enterprise #9: "Fortunate Son"

The Enterprise comes to the rescue of the Fortunate, a human cargo vessel under attack by Nausicaan pirates. By the time the Enteprise arrives the pirates are gone and the crew are stubbornly refusing assistance. The reason is being kept hidden from Captain Archer: a Nausicaan prisoner in one of the cargo holds, being repeatedly tortured for intelligence to get the Fortunate's crew their revenge.

"Fortunate Son" is a tightly produced, slick commercial hour of television. It's not exceptionally enlightening, nor is it particularly original, but it's solidly constructed and breezes by in an entertaining fashion. You could fault it for this: it's hard not to fail if you're deliberately unambitious, after all. So whether or not you enjoy this episode is probably going to be down to what you're expecting from it. I went in hoping for an entertaining TV episode, and certainly got it.