October 17, 2017

Colditz: "Liberation"

It is 1 April 1974, and time for the final episode of Colditz.

The American and Russian armies are both storming through Germany, as the prisoners-of-war in Colditz Castle wait to discover what happens first: rescue or execution at the hands of the SS. The Kommandant (Bernard Hepton) recognises that, regardless of which army reaches the castle first, his time in command is over, and begins arrangements to transfer control to Colonel Preston (Jack Hedley) and Colonel Dodd (Dan O'Herlihy).

After 28 episodes and two seasons, Colditz comes to a conclusion with this straight-forward and hugely dignified final act. Truth be told, there is not a huge amount of suspense to be found here. We know from history that Colditz was liberated, and that its prisoners were successfully rescued by the United States Army. The focus here is not the 'how' of the story, but rather on the effect the events have on the characters we have been watching for the past two seasons.

October 16, 2017

The Pull List: 4 October 2017

In the aftermath of the battle between the Paznina and Roto clans, Thea and Rollo find themselves lost in the so-called "Ancient Dark", where they find a community of humans in the last place they expected to find them.

Daniel Warren Johnson's post-apocalyptic Extremity returns for its second and final story arc, bringing with it strong and well-developed characters and absolutely stunning art and design. This is one of the best new comics of 2017 - if not the best - and it has lost none of its impact or style during its brief hiatus. Johnson picks up the story threads across the entire cast and points them all towards what I fear will be a devastating climax in the issues to come.

The detail of the artwork is incredible, particularly in one particularly impactful double-splash page where Thea gets her first glimpse of the mysterious "Essene". This is a wonderful comic book, and knowing that it has been planned as a limited 12-issue series from the outset just makes each issue feel a little more precious. (5/5)

Extremity #7. Image. Story and art by Daniel Warren Johnson. Colours by Mike Spicer.

Under the cut: reviews of All-Star Batman, Batman, Darth Vader, Giant Days, Green Arrow, Shadowman, Spider-Man, Superman and Usagi Yojimbo.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Homeward"

It is 17 January 1994, and time for another episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Enterprise comes to the planet Boraal II to rescue Nikolai Rozhenko (Paul Sorvino), a noted Federation anthropologist and Worf's adoptive brother. Boraal II is suffering a total atmospheric collapse, killing the primitive population entirely - but Worf is shocked to discover his brother has broken the Prime Directive and saved an entire village from destruction.

Another episode of Season 7 that deals with family: this time introducing the son of Worf's adoptive human parents the Rozhenkos. It illuminates Worf's back story a little more, as well as provides a strong personal link to the ethical and moral quandaries raised by the episode. This is not an out-and-out classic episode, but it's one that definitely provides an interesting story with some proper issues to discuss.

October 14, 2017

The Pull List: 27 September 2017, Part 3

At an unexpected intersection between global finance and supernatural horror sits Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker's The Black Monday Murders. The series tells a story of rival, magically powerful houses controlling the world through its financial markets and a homicide detective trying to find out what they are doing. Hickman does this not just through the comic narrative but also through various documents - e-mails, press releases, newspaper clippings - interspersed between scenes of the main storyline. It's beautifully illustrated by Tomm Coker and hugely atmospheric, but it's also a stunning work of graphic design and layout.

It also gets dark - sometimes very dark - and this seventh issue is not only the darkest to date it's also certainly the very best. The story takes what feels like a significant step forwards here, as Detective Theodore Dumas and academic Tyler Gaddis buy their way into a meeting with the god Mammon - and the price is terrifyingly steep. It's a meeting that finally shifts the book from dark and creepy urban fantasy into full-blown horror, and the book is all the better for it.

Hickman is an uncompromising writer, and his creator-owned work rarely wastes time handing the story to his audience on a plate, but if you like intelligent and complex genre works in a comic book format he's genuinely tough to beat. The Black Monday Murders is incredible. (5/5)

The Black Monday Murders #7. Image. Written by Jonathan Hickman. Art by Tomm Coker. Colours by Michael Garland.

Under the cut: reviews of Generations: The Spiders, The Infinite Loop, and Rat Queens.

October 11, 2017

The Pull List: 27 September 2017, Part 2

In the past year or so UK publisher Titan Comics has expanded into publishing 'bandes desinees', French comics that sit somewhere between American-style floppy issues and trade collections. The page counts are generally higher per installment than their US-counterparts. In France they are usually handsomely packaged in hardcover editions. Here they're just repackaged as thick comic books, but it still affords readers a chance to experience stories that were previously unavailable in English.

The Beautiful Death, by writer/artist Mathieu Bablet, follows a group of young scavengers working their way through a massive dead city. After more than three years on the run every other human is long dead, and they are rapidly running out of supplies. They are being pursued by giant insectoid creatures intent on killing them, and the stress is beginning to tear them apart.

As a scenario it isn't strikingly fresh, but it is excellently developed and beautifully illustrated. The extra page length is a godsend here - you could honestly see the same plot get squeezed by an American creator into 20 pages. Instead the real loneliness and hopelessness of the situation has time to fully sink in. Bablet's art has a nice distinctive style to it, reminding me a little of Noelle Stevenson's Nimona in its aesthetic. Bablet's colouring work is masterful. (4/5)

The Beautiful Death #1. Statix Press/Titan Comics. Story and art by Mathieu Bablet.

Under the cut: reviews of Batgirl, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, Saga and War Mother.

October 10, 2017

Colditz: :"Death Sentence"

It is 25 March 1974, and time for the penultimate episode of Colditz.

Major Mohn may have departed from Colditz Castle, but Major Carrington still remains under a death sentence for threatening to kill him. As he execution approaches, Colonel Preston (Jack Hedley) impresses on the Kommandant (Bernard Hepton) that such a killing would amount to a war crime. As the American tanks approach, tensions within Colditz reach an all-time high.

The oddest aspect of "Death Sentence" is that while the plot is primarily focused on Phil Carrington, the character - played by Robert Wagner - does not actually appear. It creates a weird sort of Waiting for Godot vibe throughout the episode; you keep expecting Carrington to turn up, and he never actually does. There is probably a behind-the-scenes explanation for his absence, but it sure does make this episode weirder than it was likely intended to be.

October 8, 2017

The Pull List: 27 September 2017, Part 1

So Mr Oz, the mysterious hooded figure who has been trapping heroes and villains of various persuasions and monitoring Superman's ever move has revealed himself to be Jor-El of Krypton - Superman's presumed-dead father now living in hiding with a face full of kryptonite fragment.

Never judge a story before it's done. That said, DC and writer Dan Jurgens are doing their level best to make me judge this particular story as soon as possible. I really hate the idea. I cringe at the re-imagining of Jor-El as some kind of selfish villain intent to removing his son from the Earth and letting the planet destroy itself. It's not noble. It's not dignified. It flies in the face of everything we know of Jor-El from decades of comic book lore. I am still half-convinced that it's all a ruse, and a shock twist in a fortnight or two will unmask the real Mr Oz. Or perhaps I'm just hoping that's going to be the case.

Ryan Sook's artwork is strong and boldly coloured. Jurgen's script is solid enough, although its reliance on narrated flashbacks makes it all feel unnecessary static and uninvolved. After such a long build-up, I'm not so much feeling disappointed as angry. Please be a ruse... please be a ruse... (2/5)

Action Comics #988. DC Comics. Written by Dan Jurgens. Art by Ryan Sook.

Under the cut: reviews of Detective Comics, Hi-Fi Fight Club, The Power of the Dark CrystalRebels and X-O Manowar.

October 7, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation: "The Pegasus"

It is 10 January 1994, and time for another episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Enterprise is co-opted for a secret mission by Admiral Erik Pressman (Terry O'Quinn), the former captain of the USS Pegasus - where Riker (Jonathan Frankes) was first posted. When it is revealed that the wreckage of the presumed-destroyed Pegasus may have been found, and that its destruction coincided with an unprecedented mutiny against Pressman, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) finds himself pitted against his own first officer to uncover the truth.

"The Pegasus" is a great little episode that takes the pristine, whiter-than-white image of Starfleet in The Next Generation, and then kicks a pretty firm dent in it. That's an enormous step for the series, and will be followed by several more in sister series Deep Space Nine. Watched now - particularly in the wake of CBS' new series Star Trek: Discovery - and it may seem a little tame. In 1994 it was pretty shocking stuff for the Star Trek universe.

October 5, 2017

The Pull List: 20 September 2017, Part 3

Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt are back with the second six-issue arc of The Wild Storm. It's wonderful to have it back.

This series takes the various characters of Jim Lee's Wildstorm Universe, long since subsumed by DC Comics, and re-works and re-imagines them into a contemporary science fiction story. I'm not sure if 'post-superhero' is a term, but it should be so that I can use it to describe this book. It has all the hallmarks of a superhero title, but instead it's a story of billionaire tech industry CEOs, black ops crews, and rival secret services ruling both Earth and the space around it.

Davis-Hunt's artwork is clean and expressive, and gently coloured by Steve Buccellato. Ellis' script is smart, well-plotted and does a remarkably great job of bringing new readers (and readers like me with bad memories) an excellent summary of the first six issues to brings everything back up to speed. This is a long game story that Ellis is telling; DC announced from the outset that it's a 24 issue story. So far it's pretty much brilliant, and a must-read for fans of Ellis and that blurry space between costumed heroes and near-future SF. (4/5)

The Wild Storm #7. DC Comics. Written by Warren Ellis. Art by Jon Davis-Hunt. Colours by Steve Buccellato.

Under the cut: reviews of Doctor Strange, Green Arrow, Kill the Minotaur, Nightwing, Secret Weapons and Star Trek: Boldly Go.

October 4, 2017

Riverdale: "A Touch of Evil"

Riverdale still reels from the death of rich teenager Jason Blossom, and the mystery over who murdered him. Archie (K.J. Apa) struggles over whether or not to tell the authorities what he knows of Jason's death. Meanwhile Betty (Lili Reinhart) stops talking to Veronica (Camila Mendes) over her kissing Archie at a party.

Riverdale
is an odd beast. It has a lot of positive elements: notably some great actors and a very well-defined mise-en-scene. At the same time it seems to want to be two different TV shows at the same time. My problem is that I am not really sure that either of the series Riverdale wants to be is one that I particularly care about watching.

October 1, 2017

The Angriest: September 2017 in review

Lieutenant Worf's crazy journey through an array of parallel universes in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Parallels" was a pretty fun episode to review, and it became the most-read post on The Angriest in September. You can read the review here. Also popular with readers were reviews of the Doctor Who episode "The Pandorica Opens" (link) and the Colditz episode "Chameleon" (link).

Altogether, in September 2017, I wrote one full-length film essay, two new films in cinemas, five older films, 10 TV episodes, one anime review, and short reviews of 51 comic books. A full list of posts with links is included below the cut. Thanks for reading The Angriest this past month.

The Pull List: 20 September 2017, Part 2

When God told Noah to build an ark and save all the animals of the natural world, it turns that Lucifer told a man named Shrae to build a second ark and save all the animals of the unnatural world. It's a neat little premise, and suggests a rather inventive story, but sadly Cullen Bunn and Juan Doe's Dark Ark stumbles badly out of the gate.

This new book from Aftershock simply feels dull. The concept works but the execution is sloppy. Bunn does not - in this issue at any rate - find an interesting enough story to build up his hook. There's some moping, and argumentative monsters, but no real indication on precisely where the story is supposed to go or why the readers should care. Juan Doe's artwork focuses a little too much on close-ups and head shots, without giving anything a particularly interesting background or sense of action. Then again, what sort of backgrounds can there be? The entire issue takes place on a ship in a storm.

A more interesting take might have focused on Shrae's journey to become the master of this 'dark ark'. Instead the most interesting parts of his story appear to have already happened.

Dark Ark #1. Aftershock. Written by Cullen Bunn. Art and colours by Juan Doe.

Under the cut: reviews of Cloudia & Rex, Generations: The Marvels, Invader Zim, and Superman.