September 25, 2017

Doctor Who: "The Pandorica Opens"

 It is 19 June 2010, and time for another episode of Doctor Who.

A message bounces from person to person through time and space until it finally reaches the Doctor (Matt Smith), and directs him to AD 102 England where he discovers River Song (Alex Kingston), Stonehenge, and the Pandorica - a fabled prison for the most dangerous criminal in the universe.

As showrunner of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat clearly had a different attitude to story arcs than his predecessor Russell T Davies. For Davies it was largely sufficient to develop a buzzword or catchphrase ("bad wolf", "Torchwood", "Mr Saxon") and then lead the audience along until the meaning of the phrase was used in the season finale. With Season 5 Moffat took a much more active approach. The crack in Amy Pond's (Karen Gillen) bedroom wall, the growing silence falling across the universe, the revelation that the TARDIS will explode in the future, and the teasing of the mysterious Pandorica by River Song back in "Flesh and Stone" all come together in one two-part finale - not to mention cameo appearances in the cold open by Vincent Van Gogh, Elizabeth X and Winston Churchill. I'm honestly not sure any season climax has previously felt so deliberately climactic.

September 22, 2017

The Pull List: 13 September 2017, Part 3

Nolan is a mercenary working in a post-apocalyptic United States. After one contract ends in bloodshed, Nolan picks up another: escorting four scientists across the country and ensuring they don't get murdered or eaten along the way.

The Realm is a standard kind of post-apocalyptic adventure with one key twist: while the circumstances remain unexplained, the marauding hordes threatening humanity are not zombies for once but rather fantasy animals. It is as if a Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual has been unleashed upon the Earth, spilling out orcs, drakes, dragons and who knows what else. It is a neat change that helps lift an otherwise very predictable storyline. I suspect how future issues explore and expand this fantasy setting will dictate the long-term quality of the book.

Also lifting the book's game is Jeremy Haun's extremely detailed and boldly inked artwork. It gives the book a level of style and prestige that does paper over the story weaknesses quite a bit. (3/5)

The Realm #1. Image. Written by Seth M. Peck. Art by Jeremy Haun. Colours by Nick Filardi.

Under the cut: reviews of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Ms Marvel, Ninjak and Sacred Creatures.

Colditz: "Chameleon"

It is 18 March 1974 and time for another episode of Colditz.

While the Kommandant (Bernard Hepton) is away, Major Mohn (Anthony Valentine) is left in charge of Colditz. When he learns via a lover that the German effort is close to defeat, and that his close connections to the Nazi government may see him executed for war crimes, he goes into a panic and tries ingratiating himself with the camp's prisoners.

"Chameleon" is an episode that has been a long time coming, ever since the deeply odious and unlikeable Horst Mohn joined the cast at the beginning of the season. He has constantly over-stepped his authority, broken the Geneva Convention, and pushed hard for the treatment of the prisoners to be harsher and more punitive than his superior has allowed. The swing in this episode is sudden and remarkable: he begins the episode at his most powerful to date, and ends it at his very lowest and most desperate.

September 21, 2017

The Pull List: 13 September 2017, Part 2

Runaways is a Marvel title about which I have heard a world of praise, and yet circumstance has resulted in me never actually reading the book myself. I figured I would correct that in a small part by sampling Marvel's new relaunch, which returns to a group of friends who bonded together when they discovered that their respective parents were all super-villains.

It's clear from the outset that this relaunch assumes prior knowledge of the characters, because while it explains the basics of the spell-caster Nico Minoru and the time-travelling Chase it never really pauses to properly re-introduce them. That put me at something of a disadvantage when reading issue #1: it tells a tense, very well written scene, but because I am not invested in its participants it does not have the intended effect. I suspect pre-existing fans will get a lot more value for money.

Kris Anka's artwork is reasonable, but it is lifted to a new level by Matthew Wilson's colours. This issue is a really good example of just how important and useful good colouring can be. (4/5)

Runaways #1. Marvel. Written by Rainbow Rowell. Art by Kris Anka. Colours by Matthew Wilson.

Under the cut: reviews of Hulk, Mech Cadet Yu, Mister Miracle and Spy Seal.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Inheritance"

It is 22 November 1993, and time for another episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Enterprise hosts two scientists who are attempting to repair a planet whose magma is inexplicably cooling. One of the scientists, Dr Juliana Tainer (Fionnula Flanagan), reveals herself to be the former wife Dr Noonien Soong - the cyberneticist who created Data (Brent Spiner).

So after meeting a brother in Season 1, and a father in Season 4, Data finally completes his family set by meeting his de facto "mother". "Inheritance" is a weirdly flat and lifeless episode. The science fiction plot is so weirdly arbitrary and unimportant that it is barely worth noting. The development of Data and Dr Tainer's relationship is a meritable idea, but the execution is inexplicably dull. This is an easily skipped, readily forgotten episode.

September 20, 2017

The Pull List: 13 September 2017, Part 1

Dark Nights: Metal is a ridiculous miniseries: completely over-the-top, garishly silly, packed with DC Universe characters to the point of overload, and just wonderfully enjoyable to read.

It is a work that ties up plot strands that run back nine years to the climax of Grant Morrison's Final Crisis, and picks up elements from Scott Snyder's multi-year run on Batman along the way. It is essentially tailor-made for DC's hardcore fan base; I honestly don't know whether the casual reader will get confused by the various references and cameos or simply gloss over them. As one of the hardcore, I was delighted.

Snyder is really employing an 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach, providing superhero action and team-ups, surprise cameos and continuity reference, inter-dimensional horror, and numerous twists and turns. The sudden appearance of The Sandman's Dream at the end of issue #1 is almost hand-waved away here. It's a smart approach that softens the jarring effect that it had then, but still opening the character up to return later in the series.

It's all wrapped up in Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion's fabulous artwork, that is just exaggerated enough and just detailed enough to hit that perfect superhero comic sweet spot. Metal isn't going to be for everyone, but for those for whom it is for, it's pretty much perfection. (5/5)

Dark Nights: Metal #2. DC Comics. Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion. Colours by FCO Plascencia.

Under the cut: reviews of Action Comics, Detective Comics, and Teen Titans.

September 19, 2017

Doctor Who: "The Lodger"

It is 12 June 2010, and time for another episode of Doctor Who.

Amy (Karen Gillen) is trapped in the TARDIS after it ejects the Doctor (Matt Smith) and gets caught by an unexplained force. Stuck in modern-day Colchester, the Doctor is forced to rent a room and become the housemate of the unsuspecting Craig Owens (James Corden) until he can work out what it is that is preventing the TARDIS from landing.

 "The Lodger" is a strange little episode of Doctor Who that largely sees the Doctor trapped in present-day England and forced to pretend to be a normal human being for several weeks. The episode does have a science fiction plot at its core, but it is almost an arbitrary one. The bulk of the episode consists of Matt Smith trying - and failing - to look and act ordinary and not arouse any suspicions. It is messy, but also likeable.

September 17, 2017

The Pull List: 6 September 2017, Part 3

As a virulent virus spreads around the world, two first year college students begin their first day in a new dormitory. Lazaretto is a new five-issue miniseries from Clay McLeod Chapman and Jay Levang, that basically plays out a viral outbreak with its characters trapped inside a quarantine area.

This first issue is pretty much set-up of story and establishing characters, so it is a little difficult to fully judge the series at this stage. As a set-up it works perfectly well: we know the protagonists well enough, and we see them thrown into an extreme and potentially lethal situation. Is there enough to convince a reader to jump onboard for another four issues? That likely depends on how much that reader is willing to put their trust in the creative team I guess. I'm still on the fence.

I am also a little ambivalent about Jay Levang's artwork. The pencils and inks are rather scrappy and messy, I suspect intentionally so, and I am not sure it was the best visual style for the story that Chapman is attempting to tell. It looks a lot more like a fully independent kind of art style that you would usually see from a mid-level commercial publisher like Boom. I find myself very ambivalent about this book. It's good, but it's also not quite good enough. (3/5)

Lazaretto #1. Boom Studios. Written by Clay McLeod Chapman. Art and colours by Jay Levang.

Under the cut: reviews of Batman, Captain Phasma, Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor, Seven to Eternity, Spider-Man and Star Wars Adventures.

September 14, 2017

The Pull List: 6 September 2017, Part 2

Is there a comic book equivalent to cinema's "mumblecore" movement? The sort of shoe-gazing, low key conversational works that do not feel a need to have an urgent plot, and spend more time on introspection that traditional storytelling? Whatever that term is - and we may as well borrow mumblecore for convenience's sake - it applies very firmly to Sophie Yanow's What is a Glacier?

This autobiographical one-shot depicts a vacation to Iceland with a friend, and a bad romantic break-up. Yanow's artwork is almost gestural. Everything conforms to a simple six-panel grid in black and white. Detailed art is not the focus here, however. Instead it is a simple tool to express a rather effective exploration of anxiety.

The narrative is not clearly structured. As I alluded to above, it really is an introspective meander across a story rather than a tightly plotted drama. It is curiously effective: a simple way Yanow has drawn a line here, a description of being heartbroken there.

This is not the greatest comic of its type, but it is a good and effective one. Fans of this kind of comic - and you can probably work out if that's you from the cover art alone - will get a bunch out of this. Superhero book lovers may find it a challenge. (4/5)

What is a Glacier? Retrofit/Big Planet Comics. Story and art by Sophie Yanow.

Under the cut: reviews of Doom Patrol, 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, Superman, Usagi Yojimbo and The Wicked + the Divine.

Colditz: "Very Important Person"

It is 11 March 1974, and time for another episode of Colditz.

With the tide of war firmly turned against Germany, orders are dispatched that the Waffen-SS will be placed in charge of all prisoners of war. All famous or well-connect prisoners, known as the Prominente, are to be transferred to Berlin to be used as hostages in the event that the war turns ever more against the Germans. When one of the American officers in Colditz is revealed to be the son of an ambassador, he is scheduled for transportation - leading to a tense stand-off between the prisoners and the guards.

There is a sudden and stark shift in Colditz with this episode. The end of the war is suddenly in sight, leading to desperate measures by the Germans and the sudden realisation by the British and American prisoners that they may all wind up murdered by the SS before the war concludes. It plays out in the series' well-established understated style, and that makes the climactic stand-off all the more confrontational and tense.

September 13, 2017

The Pull List: 6 September 2017, Part 1

Penniless treasure hunter Luvander sets out from the city in search of hidden treasure and adventure, in this charmingly written and illustrated high fantasy comic. While Scales & Scoundrels will have its worked cut out for it to stand out among the growing number of fantasy comics on the market, writer Sebastian Girner and artist Galaad are off to a pretty sensational start.

The book benefits enormously from its whimsical tone, one that gives the story and characterisation a nice lift and also soaks through the wonderfully simple but evocative art and design. There's a sense of Boom's successful all-ages book Lumberjanes in the air that suits the material well and gives it a fresh and hugely entertaining new angle.

This is a book that is playing with genre stereotypes, but it does so energetically and knowingly. It's the latter that makes the difference. It also benefits from a great protagonist in Luvander, whose spiky, cynical wit is already establishing her as a great character. The plot of this first issue perhaps falls just a little bit short of fully satisfying - it is a little too open and unresolved - but as a complete package this looks like another great Image title to watch. (4/5)

Scales & Scoundrels #1. Image. Written by Sebastian Girner. Art and colours by Galaad.

Under the cut: reviews of Daredevil, Darth Vader, Giant Days, Green Arrow and Swordquest.

September 12, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Parallels"

It is 29 November 1993, and time for another episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Reality begins to shift around Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn). At first it is only small changes: a painting jumps from wall to wall, and the flavour of a birthday cake changes. Then bigger jumps occur: Worf finds himself in a world where Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) has died, and then one where he and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) are married. Is he losing his mind, or has something gone terrible wrong with reality?

"Parallels" is a deeply silly trip through a bunch of parallel universes, one packed with nonsensical technobabble, unexpected cameos (welcome back Wesley Crusher after almost two years), and 'what if?' fan-pleasing scenarios. Thankfully it is all anchored by Michael Dorn's spectacularly funny performance as Worf, whose deadpan delivery makes it all seem hugely entertaining.

September 10, 2017

The Pull List: 30 August 2017, Part 2

With Seth Abbott's story winding to a close, and with three more issues left to go, Brian Wood's historical comic Rebels now shifts over to a trio of self-contained short stories. These short works often present Wood at his very best - as seen not only the previous volume of Rebels but also the likes of The Massive and Northlanders.

This issue does not disappoint. It focuses on a young George Washington leading a group of soldiers on a reconnaissance mission. When he stumbles upon an English fort that has been taken by the French, he disobeys orders and decides to retake it by force.

The George Washington presented here is not the noble founder of the United States that we usually see. Here we see an arrogant young military leader with a poor respect for command, a lack of interest in his men's safety, and a casual disregard to any arrangement or promise made to indigenous peoples in the Virginia area. Andrea Mutti's artwork is beautifully composed and illustrated, but it is Lauren Affe's colours that richly bring the story to life.

As a one-short story you can easily just pick up this issue and ignore the rest of the series. It's well worth the purchase, and hopefully may drive some more readers to Rebels and offer Dark Horse a chance to keep its richly textured historical stories going. (5/5)

Rebels #6. Dark Horse. Written by Brian Wood. Art by Andrea Mutti. Colours by Lauren Affe.

Under the cut: reviews of All-Star Batman, Ghostbusters 101 and Rapture.

Doctor Who: "Inferno"

It is 6 February 1965, and time for another episode of Doctor Who.

Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) races to escape Nero's court. Ian (William Russell) fights to escape the Roman Colosseum. The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) fight to avoid being murdered and to get back to the villa in the country. Nero fiddles. Rome burns.

"The Romans" comes to its blazing conclusion in "Inferno", as the historical events of Rome's burning finally occur, and the four TARDIS occupants manage to make their way back to their villa before anybody notices anybody else was away. It's a successful return to the unusual blend of action, drama and comedy that made the first two episodes of the serial so good, with less of the English farce elements that dragged down the third.

September 8, 2017

Izetta: The Last Witch: "The Battle of Sognefjord"

It is 12 November 2016, and time for another episode of Izetta: The Last Witch.

To demonstrate Izetta's power to the allied nations, Finé pledges to destroy the Drachenfels - a newly built and immensely powerful Germanian aircraft carrier. On the ship itself, however, an ace Germanian captain prepares to defend the Drachenfels from the air, and Berkmann waits in the shadows to learn more of Izetta's powers.

We're up to episode 7 of Izetta: The Last Witch, and that is definitely long enough to get a firm understanding of the series' plot, tone and style. It is pretty clear at this stage that it's a series of two halves, one of which works exceptionally well and the other of which grates terribly on the nerves. What's a viewer to do?

September 7, 2017

The Pull List: 30 August 2017, Part 1

It is time for Titan's annual Doctor Who crossover. This year, instead of taking place as a separate miniseries, the crossover is going the regular title route. Following this opening chapter, the remainder is playing out across the monthly books for the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors.

There is no rush to hunt those books down, however, because truth be told The Lost Dimension is off to a horrifying start. The script by George Mann and Cavan Scott seems less interested in telling a dramatic story and more interested in packing in as many continuity references and cameos as possible, from the obvious (UNIT shows up, as does Jack Harkness) to the remarkably obscure (a bowship from "State of Decay"). In between these jarring cameos are momentary flashes of humour and charm, but they're utterly buried.

Then there is the return of the Doctor's cloned 'daughter' Jenny, last seen on television flying off to have adventures of her own in 2009's "The Doctor's Daughter". She was a gratingly irritating character on screen, and she is no more entertaining in print. The book even shoe-horns a way for her to briefly meet Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor with a cry of 'Dad!'; actress Georgia Moffett, who played Jenny on TV, is Davison's actual daughter.

This is the very worst kind of tie-in fiction. It is the sort of comic that gives all comics based on TV shows and films a bad reputation. I strongly recommend giving The Lost Dimension a miss. (1/5)

Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension #1. Titan Comics. Written by George Mann and Cavan Scott. Art by Rachael Stott with Cris Bolson, Pasquale Qualano, Elton Thomasi, Klebbs Jr and JB Bastos. Colours by Rod Fernandes.

Under the cut: reviews of Aquaman, Planetoid: Praxis and Saga.

September 5, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Force of Nature"

It is 15 November 1993, and time for another episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

While the Enterprise is tracking a missing Starfleet vessel, the ship is brought to a standstill by the sabotage of a brother-and-sister team whose research suggests that warp travel may be fundamentally damaging space.

You can see the intent behind "Force of Nature", and it is a fairly noble one. Star Trek has always run a fairly strong line in social commentary, thinly veiled behind a science fiction cover. Here the series tries to take a look at environmental issues, but manages to fall flat on its face. Not only is the story relatively trite and dull, it is oddly short. That leaves an awful lot of time to be filled with a fairly silly and inconsequential B-plot.

September 4, 2017

The Pull List: 23 August 2017, Part 2

We're eight months through the year, and it's looking increasingly likely that my favourite book of 2017 is going to be Heathen. This independent book by writer/artist Natasha Alterici is just a wonderful read. The writing is striking and well characterised. The artwork is absolutely beautiful. As a combined package, with each issue coming in a beautiful matte finish cardstock cover, it's been a hard act to top.

Issue #5 sees Aldis setting out on her own again to secure passage north to the mysterious land of Heimdall. To do that she needs to convince the ship captain Makeda that it isn't a suicide mission, and that means one thing: mermaids.

The use of Norse mythology and fantasy creatures is beautifully done here, as is the very strong range of female characters throughout. Aldis herself was exiled from her own village for being a lesbian, and the book treats themes of female sexuality with heart and respect. Above all else this is simply a phenomenally readable book. It comes too slowly: at the end of every issue I desperately wish to read the next. (5/5)

Heathen #5. Vault Comics. Story and art by Natasha Alterici.

Under the cut: reviews of Batgirl, Doctor Aphra, War Mother and X-O Manowar.

September 3, 2017

The Angriest: August 2017 in review

All roads led to Rome in August; at least, the most popular post on The Angriest did. The review of Part 2 of the 1965 Doctor Who serial "The Romans" topped all other pieces for the month. You can read it here if you missed it. Other popular posts this month included comic reviews for 26 July (link), and a review from "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (link).

Altogether in August 2017, I conducted one interview, 12 films in theatres (thanks mainly to the Melbourne International Film Festival), 7 older films, 9 TV episodes, one anime episode, and 62 comic books. A full list of my reviews and posts from The Angriest, FictionMachine and FilmInk for the month is included below. Thanks for reading.

Doctor Who: "Conspiracy"

It is 30 January 1965, and time for another episode of Doctor Who.

The Doctor (William Hartnell) is requested to play the lyre for Emperor Nero (Derek Francis). Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) earns the ire of Empress Poppaea (Kay Patrick), who tries to have her poisoned. Ian (William Russell) is recaptured and sent to become a gladiator.

The most remarkable part of that plot summary is that it all plays out as the broadest of comedies. To an extent there is a method to writer Dennis Spooner's madness: there is a surprising amount of rather callous bloodshed and murder in Nero's court, and playing such events straight would clearly make the episode unsuitable for children. By playing the same events for laughs it superficially softens the blows while actually making it even more unsettling after the fact.

September 1, 2017

The Pull List: 23 August 2017, Part 1

Boom Studios have a real knack for publishing fun and inventive miniseries, usually taking something very familiar and then giving it a distinctive twist or creative take. They're at it again with Hi-Fi Fight Club, which essentially blends mediocre 1990s cult film Empire Records with another element revealed in the first issue's final page (it's not a fight club).

The characters are all very familiar, but are presented in a generally upbeat and enjoyable way. The artwork is very appealing, enhancing the very warm and optimistic tone of the book. The big challenge facing Hi-Fi Fight Club going forward is how to keep that very likeable tone but find fresh and original material to sustain it in the longer term.

If you are after a funny, very light-hearted book with a strong cast of female characters, this is definitely worth a look. It's another solid entry for Boom's growing range of similar titles. (3/5)

Hi-Fi Fight Club #1. Boom Studios. Written by Carly Usdin. Art by Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores. Colours by Rebecca Nalty.

Under the cut: reviews of Action Comics, Daredevil, Detective Comics and The Power of the Dark Crystal.

August 31, 2017

Colditz: "Senior American Officer"

It is 4 March 1974, and time for another episode of Colditz.

Three high-ranking American prisoners are delivered to Colditz, including now-Major Phil Carrington (Robert Wagner) - who had escaped with Pat Grant at the end of Season 1. Rather than be placed with the British prisoners, the Americans are kept in isolation. They receive special privileges. Suspicions grow that at least one of them may be working for the Germans.

"Senior American Officer" is a neat little exercise in paranoia. It does not take long to discover the purpose behind the American's special treatment - the Gestapo has been attempting to get the names of the Hungarian resistance contacts with whom Carrington and his fellow officers met prior to their capture. This leads the British officers on a mole hunt: someone is clearly feeding information to the Germans - but who?

August 29, 2017

The Pull List: 16 August 2017, Part 3

Abram is a cosmonaut who experienced something indescribable in deep space, and who has now returned to Earth as a seemingly all-powerful and inscrutable superhuman. The character starred in three exceptional miniseries over recent years, the most recent of which saw the entire world transformed into an alternate reality where the Soviet Union ruled the planet.

That crisis has been averted, and this special prologue issue sees Abram re-acquainting himself with the various Valiant heroes and finding his niche among them.

The writing is a little dry and narration-heavy, but then it is just a prologue issue and not the start of Divinity proper.

The real star here is Renato Guedes, whose beautiful painted panels and characters have such a wonderful richness and depth. It really is stunning artwork. This issue feels a little unnecessary - it teases rather than kicks off - but it's certainly great to look at. (4/5)

Divinity #0. Valiant. Written by Matt Kindt. Art and colours by Renato Guedes.

Under the cut: reviews of Batwoman, Descender, Kill the Minotaur, Poe Dameron, and Secret Weapons.

Doctor Who: "All Roads Lead to Rome"

It is 23 January 1965, and time for another episode of Doctor Who.

The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) come face to face with the Roman Emperor Nero (Derek Francis). Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) is sold as a slave into Nero's household. Ian (William Russell) is bound to a slave galley on the open ocean. Will the four travellers ever reunite with one another?

"All Roads Lead to Rome" is a superb balancing act, managing to not only juggle three separate storylines with equal attention and entertainment value but to also juggle three distinctive tones. Barbara's experience getting sold through a slave market is straight-up drama, Ian's galley adventures are the stuff of a classic adventure story, while the Doctor and Vicki's Roman encounters play out like comedy. That it all weaves together as smoothly as it does it really quite admirable.

August 28, 2017

The Pull List: 16 August 2017, Part 2

I am just going to guess that writer/artist Rich Tommaso likes European comics, particularly ones involving anthropomorphic animals like those of Lewis Trondheim. Spy Seal is pretty much exactly what it purports to be: a comic book about the exploits of a spy - who also happens to be a seal.

It is all there: the high panel count, the thin-line art style, the pastel colouring. It almost nails the entire aesthetic, yet feels just a little bit separate at the same time. The art is not quite as well developed, and some of the dialogue feels a trifle too long and stiff. As an opening attempt, however, it is amusing enough and certainly has plenty of character and personality.

In the end it's the charm that wins you over. It is a relatively predictable story, but it's also a comic book about a polo-neck wearing seal being invited to join MI:6 in fighting Russians - all told with anthropomorphic animals. That's rather cool. (3/5)

Spy Seal #1. Image. Story and art by Rich Tommaso.

Under the cut: reviews of Cloudia & Rex, Green Arrow, Rat Queens, Silver Surfer and Superman.

August 25, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Attached"

It is 8 November 1993, and time for another episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Enterprise arrives at the planet Kesprytt to negotiate an unprecedented situation. One civilization on the planet, the Kes, want to join the Federation. The other, the Prytt, are a xenophobic isolationist regime who want nothing to do with their the Kes or the Federation. When Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Crusher (Gates McFadden) attempt to beam down to begin negotiations, they are hijacked by the Prytt and imprisoned. When they attempt to escape, they discover they have been implanted with devices that enable them to read each other's thoughts.

'Jean-Luc, there's something I've been meaning to tell you.' Ever since "Encounter at Farpoint" the relationship between Picard and Crusher has dangled over the series like a Sword of Damocles, always threatening to crash down and change their friendship forever but always simply hanging there. With the series in its final year, The Next Generation finally tackles the Picard-Crusher romance head-on - with mixed results.

August 23, 2017

The Pull List: 16 August 2017, Part 1

Talk about a mixed bag. Dark Nights: Metal has been teased and prologued by DC Comics for months - years, if you believe writer Scott Snyder - and now that it is here I am almost incapable of describing how I feel about it. It certainly represents Snyder at his most gleefully unbridled. No idea, it seems, is too 'out there' or off-the-wall for this miniseries.

The series introduces an alien invasion from the 'dark multiverse', one thousands of years in the planning and always intended to use Batman as its way through into the DC Universe (calculate that one yourself). It incorporates the Justice League turning into, well essentially Voltron, as well as returning characters like Red Tornado, a wingless Hawkgirl, and the Sandman.

No, no that Sandman. The 1940s superhero might actually have made sense. No, this first issue caps off its insanity with Batman confronted by Daniel of the Endless, protagonist of Neil Gaiman's widely acclaimed fantasy series The Sandman. DC has already dragged Watchmen into its big over-arching line-wide story arc; now it seems no Vertigo characters are safe. I for one can't wait for the arrival of Jesse Custer, King Mob and V by the time this whole crazy escapade is complete.

There are bit in this issue I adored. There are bits that made me want to scream. How do you review a comic book like that? (3/5)

Dark Nights: Metal #1. Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion. Colours by FCO Plascencia.

Under the cut: reviews of Batman, Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor, Spider-Men and Uncle Scrooge.

August 21, 2017

Atom: The Beginning: "Birth of the Mighty Atom"

It is 15 April 2017, and time for the first episode of Atom: The Beginning.

College students Hiroshi Ochanomizo and Ummataro Temma work together in the attempt to create a fully self-aware robot. Their latest attempt gets an unexpected road test when a fire breaks out at a street parade.

To me, and I suspect to more than a few others, Osamu Tezuka's Astroboy is one of the cornerstones of Japanese animation. It was hugely influential, internationally popular and has been periodically revisited over the decades with various remakes. Its historical significance puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on any new iteration of the story, since there is a weight of history and reputation with which original anime productions do not have to cope. Sadly, from this first episode at least, Atom: The Beginning buckles under the pressure.

August 20, 2017

The Pull List: 9 August 2017, Part 2

For those who came in late: every 90 years a group of young humans suddenly manifest supernatural powers and are reincarnated as Gods. This "Pantheon" then shines brilliantly for two years before they all die. The only constant element appears to be Ananke, an immortal and hugely powerful figure who turned out to have been murdering the Pantheon every cycle to avoid "the great darkness". This time around the Pantheon got there first, Ananke is dead, and now what the great darkness is is rapidly approaching. No one can agree on what to do, one of the Pantheon - Sakhmet - has murdered a bunch of people, and is hiding out from her fellow gods with Persephone, who was a fan of the Pantheon before being reincarnated as one of them.

Sure it sounds a little confusing, but that's what you get if you come in at issue #30. If you have never read The Wicked + the Divine before, go hunt down the first few trades: it's a regular four-to-five star comic book and is a worthy read.

This issue is dominated by Dionysus and Morrigan having a conversation in the dark. It sounds a little dull but it's an important conversation. This really all feels like a calm before a storm, and with the characters all getting developed up to a critical point it suggests that the next few issues are going to be pretty apocalyptic. I do think we're reaching a point where, after 30 serialised issues, it's becoming difficult to keep the characters and the storyline all set in my head with month-long gaps between instalments. A re-read of earlier arcs may be in order before long. (4/5)

The Wicked + the Divine #20. Image. Written by Kieron Gillen. Art by Jamie McKelvie. Colours by Matthew Wilson.

Under the cut: reviews of Action Comics, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Harbinger Renegade, Hulk and Ms Marvel.

August 17, 2017

The Pull List: 9 August 2017, Part 1

Mister Miracle of the New Gods returns to the DC Universe in a new 12-issue maxiseries. That is always cause for celebration, since Scott Free and his wife Big Barda have always been two great and underrated characters for DC. Every few years they pop up, delight me with their adventures, and then drop back into second-string obscurity again.

What makes this particular relaunch so exciting is the creative team: writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads, whose DC Vertigo book The Sheriff of Babylon was my favourite comic series of 2016. Seeing them reunited is a promise of great things to come.

Based on this first issue they seem pretty likely to satisfy their readers. This is an inventive and slightly off-kilter premiere, using a deliberately limited colour palette, deliberately mis-aligned artwork and many visual artefacts to create a genuine sense that the world has gone wrong. The same thing appears to be going on in King's script, in which Scott appears to be slowly going unhinged - or the universe around him is. Actually, I suspect the latter. It's a brilliant hook, beautifully packaged, and pretty much the number one must-read superhero book this month. (5/5)

Mister Miracle #1. DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art by Mitch Gerads.

Under the cut: reviews of Detective Comics, Doctor Aphra, Freeway Fighter, Rogue One: Cassian and K-2SO Special, and Sacred Creatures.

August 15, 2017

Doctor Who: "The Slave Traders"

It is 16 January 1965, and time for another episode of Doctor Who.

A month after the TARDIS makes a crash landing in Ancient Rome, the Doctor (William Hartnell) and his companions relax in a nearby villa. When the Doctor and Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) head off to visit Rome, the Doctor finds himself mistaken for a murdered musician. Back at the villa Ian (William Russell) and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) are ambushed and captured by slave traders.

There is something genuinely delightful about "The Slave Traders", the first episode of Dennis Spooner's historical serial "The Romans". A lot of the appeal comes from seeing the regular characters actually getting to stop for a while and relax. They have rampaged from one adventure to the next for a series and a half at this stage, and have more than earnest a rest. That rest comes with a huge boost in warm humour: it seems clear at this stage that Ian and Barbara are actively enjoying their travels with the Doctor. New companion Vicki has slipped comfortably into her new routine. The one-month jump in time actually benefits her introduction enormously because she is now happily familiar with her new friends. It is a great narrative shortcut.

August 14, 2017

The Pull List: 2 August 2017, Part 3

It started with a resentful drug-addicted police detective flying out to a distant spaceship to conduct a murder investigation. It ends, eight issues later, with two people huddled together with no oxygen or warmth left with which to survive. A hell of a lot happened in between.

Hadrian's Wall has been a tremendous miniseries. A smart murder-mystery in space that segued into a sort of siege thriller, with well-crafted characters and intelligence science fiction detail. Rod Reis was the icing on the cake, creating stunning painterly artwork that echoed some of the best production design of 1980s science fiction cinema. It is a blueprint for a cult film that never got made; who knows, with the series complete perhaps an enterprising studio will be tempted to take a chance on it.

A collection edition is coming soon. I really hope that it finds a strong readership on top of those who have already discovered it. This is the sort of SF work that deserves a big audience. (5/5)

Hadrian's Wall #8. Image. Written by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel. Art and colours by Rod Reis with Eduardo Ferigato.

Under the cut: reviews of Extremity, Giant Days and Seven to Eternity.

Doctor Who: "Desperate Measures"

It is 9 January 1965 and time for another episode of Doctor Who.

The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Ian (William Russell) make their way past the ancient traps of the Didonians. Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) get to know one another onboard the crashed starship. When the Doctor finally joins them, he gets to the bottom of the mysterious identity of the alien Koquillion.

"Desperate Measures" is a deceptively brilliant episode of Doctor Who. It throws in some great character-building scenes, properly integrates Vicki in the TARDIS crew, and climaxes with a tremendously atmospheric and dramatic reveal in an underground temple. This may be, at two episodes, one of the briefest of William Hartnell's Doctor Who serials, but it makes great and efficient use of its time.

August 11, 2017

The Pull List: 2 August 2017, Part 2

What if all of the famous people who vanished over history did not simply get murdered or die in obscurity somewhere, but actually found themselves transported to another universe? That is the basic premise of Elsewhere, a new fantasy series by writer Jay Faerber (Copperhead), artist Sumeyye Kesgin and publisher Image Comics.

To begin with, the series introduces us to Amelia Earhart, famous American long-distance pilot whose plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean in July 1937. After being rescued from a tree by a pair of goblin-like rebels on the run from their totalitarian government, she goes looking for her co-pilot Fred.

Kesgin's artwork has a quite traditional sort of look: clean, bold and immediately readable. Faerber's script is where the book staggers a little: it's relatively early, so the story could go either way, but there really is not a huge amount of plot here and nothing really leaps out to feel inventive or especially attention-grabbing. The basic premise is a cool one, but the execution really does let it down just a little. (3/5)

Elsewhere #1. Image. Written by Jay Faerber. Art by Sumeyye Kesgin. Colours by Ron Riley.

Under the cut: reviews of Robotech, Spider-Man and Swordquest.

Doctor Who: "The Powerful Enemy"

It is 2 January 1965, and time for another episode of Doctor Who.

While the Doctor (William Hartnell) mourns the loss of Susan, the TARDIS arrives on the planet Dido and Ian (William Russell) and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) go exploring a mountain-side network of caves. In the valley below, the two survivors of a crashed human starship - Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) and Bennett (Ray Barrett) - live under the tyrannical control of the alien reptile Koquillion.

It is good that Susan's departure at the end of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" was not ignored or quickly shuffled away. The early scenes of "The Powerful Enemy" see the Doctor visibly worn by the loss. He sleeps through a TARDIS landing for the first time. He seems very keen to send Ian and Barbara off to give him time alone. At one key moment he asks Susan to open the TARDIS door, then pauses, with a mixture of sadness and embarrassment. Barbara gently asks the Doctor to show her how to do it. It's a perfect small moment between the two characters: a little bit of healing for the Doctor, and the acknowledgement for Barbara that she and the old man really have become good friends.

August 10, 2017

The Pull List: 2 August 2017, Part 1

Stanford Yu works as a young janitor at an elite academy for giant robot pilots. On the appointed day, when three alien giant robots are supposed to descend and accept their pilots, one fails to show up. When Stanford finds it damaged a few miles down the road it does the unimaginable and accepts him as its pilot instead.

Mech Cadet Yu is a four-issue miniseries from writer Greg Pak and artist Takeshi Miyazawa. It pays tribute to Japanese pop culture, particularly all of the giant robot anime productions that have been produced since the late 1970s.

The pedigree of its creatives is pretty high for anybody who's been reading Marvel comics: Pak did a sensational extended run on The Incredible Hulk, while Miyazawa has done superb work illustrating Ms Marvel in recent years. If anything it unfairly raises expectations. This is a pleasantly enjoyable first issue, but so far there is nothing that leaps off the page or makes the most significant impression. It's simply an enjoyable giant robot story; and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. (3/5)

Mech Cadet Yu #1. Boom Studios. Written by Greg Pak. Art by Takeshi Miyazawa. Colours by Triona Farrell.

Under the cut: reviews of Batman, Darth Vader, Green Arrow and Superman.

August 8, 2017

The Pull List: 26 July, Part 3

Usagi Yojimbo and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have always had a fairly close relationship: both independent black and white comic books of the 1980s, they crossed over fairly quickly and Usagi has been an intermittent presence in the Turtles comics and television cartoons ever since (right up to an appearance in the current series a few weeks ago).

This new one-shot is a real gem: written and drawn by Usagi creator Stan Sakai, with absolutely beautiful soft colouring by Tom Luth. The story itself is relatively straight-forward, but as is often the case with Sakai it is told in a very simple and elegant fashion with some absolutely beautiful art.

I feel the market does not give Usagi Yojimbo the respect it is due: it is rarely sensationalised or attention-grabbing, but Sakai does a flawless job with every issue he creates. It has a warm, likeable tone, a strong sense of Japanese history and culture, and a cartoon-like sensibility that is much harder to produce than it looks. It is such a pleasant read every time. Hopefully this crossover might bring a few new readers to Sakai's work. He deserves them all. (4/5)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Usagi Yojimbo. Story and art by Stan Sakai. Colours by Tom Luth.

Under the cut: reviews of All-Star Batman, Doctor Aphra and Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor.

Doctor Who: "Flashpoint"

It is 26 December 1964, and time for the final episode of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth".

While the Daleks work to detonate their bomb inside the Earth's core, the Doctor (William Hartnell), Ian (William Russell), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Susan (Carole Ann Ford) finally reunite in Bedfordshire to stop the Dalek invasion once and for all.

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" ends with a finale that, while never particularly surprising, manages to bring this epic storyline to a strong and hugely entertaining close. It has been a success on a number of levels. Firstly this has easily been the most ambitious production of the series thus far, and with a few mishaps (the unfortunate-looking Slyther for one) the production team has pulled it off with tremendous skill. Secondly it has taken the Daleks and elevated them from one-off monsters to the series' first recurring villains. They will appear a third time to plague the Doctor before the second series is out.

August 4, 2017

The Pull List: 26 July, Part 2

John Abbott has designed and built the ships that won America its naval war against the British, but an act of mutiny to win a battle now sees him imprisoned for treason. An infection has cost him an arm. With peace settled, Nicholson travels to the White House to beg for John's freedom.

These Free and Independent States has been an exceptional miniseries, using the historical background of early American history to tell the story of a difficult man living in a difficult time. Brian Wood has developed a subtle and deeply affecting character in John Abbott, whose obvious autism in an age that knows nothing of the condition constantly disrupts and damages his life.

There is a gentle quality to this issue. It is there is Wood's carefully paced story, and certainly in Andrea Mutti's matter-of-fact, beautifully composed pencils and inks. It is particularly evident in Lauren Affe's colours: all muted and subtle, allowing the narrative to unfold without distraction but with beautiful enhancement.

This appears to mark the end of John Abbott's story, but Rebels continues in August with a self-contained issue focused on George Washington. I love that Wood and Mutti take the opportunity to explore these side stories. They did the same thing with the original Rebels series too. (5/5)

Rebels: These Free and Independent States #5. Written by Brian Wood. Art by Andrea Mutti. Colours by Lauren Affe.

Under the cut: reviews of Ghostbusters 101, The Power of the Dark Crystal, and Saga.

August 3, 2017

Colditz: "The Gambler"

It is 25 February 1974, and time for another episode of Colditz.

Flight Lieutenant Jack Collins (Ray Barrett) arrives at the castle, immediately setting up a regular card game with some of the other British prisoners. He cons and cheats Captain Brent (Paul Chapman) out of his entire life savings - including his family house - and does the same to a German guard as part of an independent escape attempt.

Colditz has had its fair share of characters, both decent and unpleasant. For some reason Jack Collins seems particularly unlikeable, to the point where he is my least favourite character across the entire series to date. He is a card player that cheats and takes advantage, he is wilfully against cooperating with others, and is disrespectful and insulting towards his fellow British officers. It is rather strange: I would actually argue that he is so completely unpleasant as a character that he effectively destroys his own episode.

August 2, 2017

The Pull List: 26 July 2017, Part 1

After a short hiatus, Gerard Way's loving and nostalgic tribute to Morrison-era Doom Patrol continues. This issue comes illustrated by Michael and Laura Allred who are, let's be honest, the best possible art team a Doom Patrol comic could have.

Niles Caulder is back, fully prepared to take control of the Doom Patrol once again - except his team are very reluctant to let him anywhere close to their lives and abilities ever again. This is a wonderful surreal and absurd issue that is largely self-contained - although obviously a familiarity with Caulder and the Doom Patrol's back story will add a huge amount of value here. If plaid-wearing invisible aliens from another dimension creating honey out of human bad ideas sounds like your kind of thing, then this is definitely the comic book of the week for you.

The Allreds' artwork is exactly what those familiar with their work might expect: beautifully proportioned work with a wonderful simplicity to the designs and the art. It's immediately engaging, bright and light-hearted. Sadly they're only here for the one issue, but it's an outstanding one. (5/5)

Doom Patrol #7. DC Comics. Written by Gerard Way. Art by Michael Allred. Colours by Laura Allred.

Under the cut: reviews of Action Comics, Batgirl and Detective Comics.

Doctor Who: "The Waking Ally"

It is 19 December 1964, and time for the fifth part of the Doctor Who serial "The Dalek Invasion of Earth".

Ian (William Russell) and Larry (Graham Rigby) infiltrate the Dalek's mine in Bedfordshire. Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Jenny (Ann Davies) arrive there soon afterwards, after they are captured by the Daleks. Romance swells between Susan (Carole Ann Ford) and David (Peter Fraser) as they continue their trek out of London with the Doctor (William Hartnell).

Terry Nation certainly demonstrates how to plot a six-episode serial here. Every episode of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" has pushed the plot forward one key step, which gives each instalment a sense of purpose and avoids the middle parts feeling like a bunch of characters running around in circles. The bleak, despairing tone of the earlier episodes continues here as well: not only is this one of the best Doctor Who serials so far it is also certainly the darkest in tone.

August 1, 2017

The Angriest: July 2017 in review

When Richard Curtis agreed to write an episode of Doctor Who, he did not hold back in unleashing his talents. "Vincent and the Doctor" is a remarkable hour of television, presenting the reality of depression to a family audience with enormous sensitivity and effectiveness. I rewatched the episode in July, and my review was the most popular post on The Angriest for the entire month.

In July 2017, across The Angriest, FictionMachine and FilmInk, I wrote one interview, four new film reviews, 20 reviews of older films, 7 TV episode reviews, as well as short reviews of 52 comic books. A full index of my July blog posts is included below.

The Pull List: 19 July 2017, Part 3

Michael Cray, the world's best professional killer, is given an offer he really can't refuse. Angela Spica, who ran away from her employer IO with a highly advanced nano-technology super-suit, is reunited with the elusive billionaire whose life she saved. Perhaps most importantly, some things get explained and the set-up phase of The Wild Storm is completed.

Six issues initially seems an intolerable length of time in which to set up a comic series, but it's important to realise that Warren Ellis is playing a long game. The Wild Storm was conceived as a serialised 24-issue narrative, so this really is essentially the end of the first act. The cast has been introduced, the conflict revealed, and a huge amount of cool science fiction and technology concepts thrown up in the air. The issue's other great asset is artist Jon Davis-Hunt, who has managed to give it all a detailed and engaging look via his artwork.

Truth be told, the story will probably be more readable once collected into trade paperback form; there is an abrupt and arbitrary nature in the way the book simply stops at the end of each issue rather than hit a proper conclusion or cliffhanger. This issue ends more neatly than most; an indication, perhaps, that the first six issues will be collected together before long. (4/5)

The Wild Storm #6. DC Comics. Written by Warren Ellis. Art by Jon Davis-Hunt. Colours by Steve Buccellato and John Kalisz.

Under the cut: reviews of Britannia, Descender, Invader Zim, Kill the Minotaur, Rapture, Secret Weapons and Time & Vine.

July 28, 2017

The Pull List: 19 July 2017, Part 2

Poe and fellow X-Wing pilot Snap head off to track down the traitorous Oddy Muva. Meanwhile Suralinda and Jess are sent in an old Y-Wing to undertake reconnaissance for the Resistance's propaganda war against the First Order. At the same time Commander Malarus resolves to hunt Poe down and stop his interference with First Order business once and for all.

There is a sense of story threads pulling together in this issue, which makes me wonder if Poe Dameron is streaking towards a conclusion some time in the next few months. It makes a lot of sense: The Last Jedi debuts in cinemas in December, bringing with it not only more on-screen action for Poe Dameron but also opening up further possibilities for tie-in comic books.

That sense of building towards a climax helps this issue a lot. It's an engaging read that juggles quite a lot of characters, and pushes them towards conflict in the next issue. Angel Unzueta's artwork is strong, and nicely coloured by Arif Prianto. This has been a relatively uneven series, but it does seem to be improving as it goes. (4/5)

Poe Dameron #17. Marvel. Written by Charles Soule. Art by Angel Unzueta. Colours by Arif Prianto.

Under the cut: reviews of Daredevil, Doctor Strange and Ms Marvel.

July 27, 2017

The Pull List: 19 July 2017, Part 1

The king is dead - or so the villainous Corum Rath believes. Instead the deposed King Arthur hides out in the depths of Atlantis, defending the city's poorest and most vulnerable from Rath's soldiers. Meanwhile Mera bombards the city from above in an attempt to break inside and rescue her lover.

This second issue of the now-monthly Aquaman comic is great. Sejic's artwork makes it a visually beautiful read, and Abnett's story has gracefully repositioned the series as a sort of underwater high fantasy. After making her post-Flashpoint debut last month, Dolphin gets a proper re-introduction. She seems a hugely promising character.

It is great to see Aquaman stretch into a fresh style and direction, particularly with such strong artwork on it at the moment. It deserves to be a huge success. (4/5)

Aquaman #26. DC Comics. Written by Dan Abnett. Art and colours by Stjepan Sejic.

Under the cut: reviews of Batman, Batwoman, Green Arrow and Superman.

July 25, 2017

Doctor Who: "The End of Tomorrow"

It is 12 December 1964, and time for the fourth part of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth".

Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Jenny (Ann Davies) attempt to flee London in a truck. Susan (Carole Ann Ford) and David (Peter Fraser) attempt the same, using the city's sewers as an escape route. In Bedfordshire, Ian (William Russell) and Larry (Graham Rigby) are trying to go back in the opposite direction, but have not counted on the monstrous Slyther that stands in their way.

To a large extent "The End of Tomorrow" is a typical mid-serial episode of Doctor Who, in which everybody is effectively running from one place to another. The episode cross-cuts between three storylines, all about escape and a hope to reunite as soon as possible. Thankfully there is more to see than just running around; there is plenty of solid character work to be found as well.

July 24, 2017

The Pull List: 12 July 2017, Part 2

It has been several years, but Marvel has finally made good on the promise at the end of their miniseries Spider-Men and finally started publishing the sequel. The original series featured Peter Parker following the villain Mysterio to an alternate universe where he was dead and teenager Miles Morales had taken his place. Now both Peter and Miles live in the same re-ordered reality, but the portal that opened for Peter has now opened once again.

This is top-notch superhero entertainment, with a witty, well-paced script by Brian Michael Bendis that adds ominous foreshadowing through flash-forwarding and which uses the earlier miniseries as a starting point without disenfranchising readers who didn't read it. At the same time Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor are doing some of the best art they have ever done with a Spider-Man book; for both it feels like they are charting into new stylistic territory. It looks phenomenal.

It is absolutely wonderful seeing the two Spider-Men interacting with one another and working together. This series is off to a great start. (5/5)

Spider-Men II. Marvel. Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Sara Pichelli. Colours by Justin Ponsor.

Under the cut: reviews of Action Comics, Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra, and Hulk.

July 22, 2017

Doctor Who: "Vincent and the Doctor"

It is 5 June 2010, and time for another episode of Doctor Who.

When the Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy (Karen Gillan) spy the image of a monster hiding in a Van Gogh painting, they travel back in time to 1890 Artes to question the man himself. They find Vincent Van Gogh (Tony Curran) living in fear of a creature that only he can see - and which is murdering the villagers each night.

When Steven Moffat assumed control of Doctor Who in 2010, one of the bigger surprises was in the names of some of the writers hired to contribute to Season 5. One was Simon Nye, creator of the sitcom Men Behaving Badly, who wrote the excellent "Amy's Choice". The other was Richard Curtis, then a popular screenwriter of romantic comedy films including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually. Curtis seemed an odd choice for a science fiction drama; indeed seven years after the fact he still does. The biggest surprise, however, is just how outstanding his one script for the series is.

July 21, 2017

The Pull List: 12 July 2017, Part 1

Batman's quest draws him closer to the mysterious metal that may hold the secret to the entire existence of superheroes. Back in the Batcave, Duke Thomas and Hal Jordan confront the Joker - who has been held captive there without anybody's knowledge.

This second prologue issue to the upcoming miniseries Metal is nowhere near as effective as the first. Where the first felt provocative and foreboding, the second feels off-base and awkward. The various artists jamming together also feel a lot more discordant this time around, suggest perhaps the labour would have been divided better giving each artist their own issue instead of getting them to each one all together.

There is some big and provocative hints thrown around regarding the origins of DC's pantheon of superheroes as well, with an admittedly quite clever new take on the concept of 'metahumans'. It even shows off its roots back in Scott Snyder's hugely successful Batman run. Altogether it's adding into something that is certainly ambitious in places but could quite easily collapse into hideous and self-indulgent mess. I have my fingers crossed that once Metal commences in August it will also settle down and prove a large-scale entertaining epic. (2/5)

Dark Days: The Casting #1. DC Comics. Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Art by Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, John Romita Jr, Scott Williams, Klaus Janson and Danny Miki. Colours by Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper.

Under the cut: reviews of Detective Comics, Dread Gods and Freeway Fighter.