Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #10

art by John Buscema and George Tuska (from Avengers #51 1968)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Outcasts (Episode 8)

It took a while but I finally got around to watching the last episode of
Outcasts. Knowing that another series was not on the cards and that the end
did not wrap everything up, I was in no great rush to see this final
episode. Still, I have to say that, now I have watched it, it was actually
very good and probably one of the best of the 8 episodes.After confirming the existence of Carpathia's "host force" last week, the
invisible aliens decided (for reasons we'll never find out) to infect a few
of the inhabitants of Forthaven with another 'halo' virus, which the medical
team unimaginatively dubbed CT24. DJ Tipper Malone was the first to be
infected - thankfully this time the writers didn't bring in some new
character for just one episode.Meanwhile, using the emergence of the new virus to stir up trouble against
the ACs, Berger made his move against Tate, determined to take control
before the arrival of the next transport ship. And, just to add to their
troubles, Berger also got an message from the arriving ship about Fleur and
Project Omega - a new breed of AC. Seems Fleur was a new type of clone, one
with an enhanced brain, though I'm not sure what extra abilities she was
supposed to have (and, I guess, we'll never find out). Later, it's also
hinted that some of Tate's DNA might have been used to create her.Eventually, the Forthaven crew realised the four letter sequence they
detected earlier related to human DNA (took them long enough!) and was
causing the virus and so they set up some sort of ultrasonic shield
thingymabob. But not before Tate relinquished control over to Jack, of all
people! not to worry though as Tate was a good chess player (loved that bit
about Tate using individuals as pieces to ensure the best for everyone) and
Jack actually came to his senses and joined the Good Guys. The shield went
up, the virus was stopped and this also prevented the transport ship
communicating with Berger. Instead, it landed just outside Forthaven... ...and that was pretty much it (well, kind of).In a way, it's a pity we won't see the story of Outcasts continuing,
especially after a decent, engaging, reasonably thrilling last episode.
We'll never know what that "host force" or the transport ship were all
about. Nor get the dozens of other questions answered. Though we did get a
sort of answer as to why the people of Forthaven never ventured much beyond
their city walls. This was due to Tate's overprotective, slightly
suffocating rule, something that Berger wanted to address. That was nice. But, it was too little too late. If Outcasts had been this good from the
first episode, and not so depressingly dull, perhaps it wouldn't have lost
as many viewers and been shifted to a late night Sunday slot. It had a
decent cast and impressive vistas, but it really needed to hit the ground
running and not build up our involvement in the story over 8 long hours.Other than Doctor Who (and its spin-offs) one wonders whether the BBC has
been put off and will not bother to commission another sci-fi series in the
near future. Let's hope this isn't the case and that we'll still see more
space adventures soon!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fishy Friday


Strength: 5
Toughness: 5
Special Powers: 3
Status: 5

Originally part of Alpha Flight, drawn and created by the great John Byrne, she also became an honourary member of the Avengers (then again, who isn't in the Marvelverse?). Unlike most of the other Marvel aquatic heroes who were Atlantean, Marrina was one of the Plodex, an alien species. This meant when she became pregnant with Namor's child, she turned into a huge, savage monster. Just like normal women then (I kid!).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day

Torchwood. Back on (US) TV at the beginning of July and, I suspect, here in the UK not much later.


(Naff ad though)

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #9

art by John Buscema (from Avengers #49 1968)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dr Nose

Short skirts and wibbly levers!

Dr Who's best Comic Relief episode yet. Just ... brilliant!

(goodness knows whether those links work - silly ipod app)

Fishy Friday


Strength: 5
Toughness: 6
Special Powers: 8
Status: 7

As with many of DC's heroes, Aquaman had a sidekick, Aqualad, whose power just seemed to be able to swim really well. After hanging around with the Teen Titans for a while, Garth grew out of his little swimming shorts and changed his name to Tempest. He also gained mystical powers to manipulate water, change its temperature, fire blasts from his eyes, and more which actually makes him more powerful than his mentor. Poor Aquaman

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I never encountered any hot elf chicks during my role-playing games!

Heropress' and The Underdark Gazette's Old School Renaissance tabletop gaming posts got me thinking about the RPGs I used to play, back in the day. I've reminisced about the internet and films before, so time for a short post about RPGs (not sure about "old school" though).

Sure, like everyone else D&D was probably the first game I knew existed, but the first game I actually played was ICE's MERP (Middle Earth Role Playing). Probably this was due to how much my friends liked Tolkien's books. It's a great little game, based on rolling d100s against tables of results and adding/subtracting the relevant skill/penalty. With the critical tables, it was also potentially quite lethal where single hits could kill a person no matter how many hit points they had. Plus MERP's spells were generally less powerful and certainly less flashy than those in D&D; more in keeping with the magic seen in LotR books, I guess.

I'm not sure my best mate took it too seriously though. He had a Dunedain fighter who, when faced with attacking orcs, would hide under the nearest table. Not very valiant nor in keeping with these "High" Men.

Next came Games Workshop's Golden Heroes, my first superhero RPG. To be honest, I spent far more time rolling up characters (it uses a random stat and power generation system) than actually playing the game. Compared with many modern day systems, it was refreshingly lightweight. It has since been reborn as Squadron UK, which rules that appear to be unchanged from the original.

At university, the system I played the most was ICE's Rolemaster (1st and 2nd editions), which was MERP's big brother. We played a huge, drawn-out campaign weekly for a couple of years only diversifying occasionally to play the odd game of Chill, Paranoia, Warhammer FRP, Tales from the Floating Vagabond and others. When I think back, I still don't think we completed that campaign created by our GM, Skippy. All I remember now is that I first played a young trainee mage - Ewart Caradoc - who luckily got hold of a powerful (though evil) shortsword, and then a Beastmaster - Qassam something-or-other - a nomadic, southern warrior who was great to play.

Rolemaster is still one of my favourite fantasy systems and I went on the play a number of RM PBeM games once I left Uni. I love it's complexity, the long lists of skills, and the combat tables (a different one for each weapon!).

Weirdly, I think the only time I played AD&D (2nd ed) was when I was around 30. Unfortunately, that was with a group who didn't take it seriously and just joked around. Characters would often die every other session, we'd go up 2 or 3 levels between sessions, the DM would try to kill us off in the most amusing way possible, that sort of thing. It was entertaining to begin with, I suppose, but I soon grew bored. I actually found PBeMs (or similar) and their writing elements more to my liking.

So, since then, I tended to play superhero PBeMs - first using the Aberrant system, then the HERO System (which I love), and briefly Silver Age Sentinels (SAS) and Mutants & Masterminds (M&M). Though I did play one long, epic fantasy PBeM which started using the AD&D 2nd edition rules and then moved onto Pathfinder.

Sadly though I no longer play tabletop RPGs as I don't seem to have the time nor the people with whom to enjoy them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #8

art by George Tuska (from Avengers #48 1968)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Being Human: The Wolf-Shaped Bullet

Somehow I felt that the rug was pulled from under my feet during this finale.

Last week's set-up of the potential outing of vampires was quickly defused by Herrick's "rescue" of Mitchell from the police cell. I suppose all the dead bodies with double puncture wounds to the neck wouldn't be a clue? And Nina's near death was conveniently and abruptly reversed by a returning Annie later in the epsiode. Two of the bigger cliffhangers from last week wrapped up a little too quickly.

Whilst Herrick took Mitchell from the police station to the cage-fighting set (they got their money's worth out of that, eh?) for a heart-to-heart, Annie heard about Nina's hospitalisation and rushed to the emergency room. The best bit of the episode came as Lia contacted Annie using a dead police officer's bloody body and then Annie had to step through someone elses door to Purgatory once again.

There it soon became clear that, indeed, Lia was a liar (as predicted back in episode 1) and she'd just made up the wolf-shaped bullet prophecy to make Mitchell twitchy around George and Nina. However, Annie convinced her that her vengeance wouldn't solve anything but would instead mean that Mitchell would continue to claim other victims - including George, Nina and their unborn baby. Quite how Lia was able to roam around Purgatory and exact her revenge when none of Mitchell's other victims have done so wasn't made clear. Also, I thought in previous series that the afterlife was desperate to get Annie and yet here it is, happy for her to return to the world of the living - just in time to save Nina and baby.

Back in the cage, it appears George had already guessed that Mitchell was the Box Tunnel murderer and so this little news doesn't faze him. But knowing that Herrick might have killed Nina does throw him over the edge. Hmm, but wasn't Mitchell originally all for killing Herrick and it was Nina who decided to keep the vampire time-bomb in the attic? Anyway, love and grief are never rational, so we got a wonderfully tense scene which culminates in Tom, McNair's son, rushing in dusting a vamp bodyguard on the way (what happened to Tom after this though?).

I felt that the forward shift in time about two-thirds through this episode was somewhat sudden. George, Annie and a fully healed Nina (and bump) were back at Honolulu Heights - wasn't that cordoned off by the police? Weren't they still sweeping the place for evidence? Has someone cleaned up all the blood? Meanwhile, Mitchell was in a car watching the sunrise with Herrick. After discovering that a vamp cannot be resurrected from a stake to the heart (but not exactly learning how Herrick managed his comeback), Mitchell deals with his old mentor.

The final 20 minutes or so, when a deeply troubled Mitchell came back and wanted George to kill him, was dragged out a little too much for my liking. All the tears and hand-wringing felt a bit forced to me. Was the point that Mitchell could never be redeemed, that he would always feel the hunger and go on to kill again? Yes, George and Annie loved him - and he loved them back - but it seemed a bit of a shitty ending for him (if we're to assume vamps = drug addicts then the only resolution is for them is to die?!?).

Then there was the introduction of the Old Ones. Brilliantly played, but kinda out of nowhere really. They seemed to wrap things up too easily whilst introducing the threat for season 4, if they decide to make another series. But without Mitchell, would another series really work? I'm not sure it would, but I'd be happy to be proved wrong.

So, an entertaining final episode which I enjoyed immensely but which, strangely, also disappointed me. I felt last week's episode was stronger and more thrilling; this seemed to drag things through the ringer for far too long. Still, a decent end to the series I guess and, perhaps, to the show as a whole.

Next week - it looks like the Becoming Human mini webisodes are being collected together and shown on BBC3. Good call. Plus, we'll finally discover who the heck killed Matt.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Just After Sunset (by Stephen King)

Second only to the various fantasy tropes (high, low, urban, modern, etc), the horror genre has featured highly in the many books I've read. A lot of the stories have leant more towards human, psychological or non-supernatural horror rather than classic monster tales containing rivers of blood and gore. Some of them would be classed more as thrillers, especially some of the later books by Dean Koontz, though I've also read one or two darker, gruesome supernatural stories by the likes of Clive Barker and James Herbert.

Stephen King is the favoured writer of many of the horror books I've read - though that may be because he's written so damned many of 'em!

Of his books, I tend to prefer his collections of short stories which tend to leave out some of the superfluous padding. Just After Sunset is one such collection. It contains 13 of King's short stories, many of which have been previously published in various magazines, and they're a mixed bunch. The quality does vary and none really stand out. It's probably one of his weaker efforts, though still darkly entertaining.

Stories such as N. (a paranoid Lovecraftian tale of OCD) and A Very Tight Place (a stomach-churning account of a man stuck in a Portaloo) stand out as a couple of the better ones, whereas The Cat from Hell is just plain silly.

One of the slight niggles with nearly all of these short stories - as well as many of his novel-length books - is that they feature American towns and places known to King. Thus, they all tend to take place in Maine or (as seems to be case with his later books) southern Florida. You can just tell that King and family head down to the Sunshine State when things get cold in the winter months up in Maine. It's this, and other, rampant Americanism in King's books that makes it a little difficult for a Brit like myself to really feel a kinship with his stories.

Just After Sunset
is a quick and entertaining read (one might say 'a real page turner') but not as good as some of his other shorter story collections, like Everything's Eventual and Four Past Midnight. Good enough if you like King, but not a must read.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fishy Friday


Strength: 6
Toughness: 6
Special Powers: 6
Status: 6

Kinda like a younger version of Namora - in fact she's Namora's clone - Namorita was a member of the New Warriors until she was killed in the Civil War blast at Stamford. As well as the usual undersea powers of strength and swimming, apparently she can also "secrete burning acid or a paralytic toxin and become transparent". Nice...

Outcasts (Episode 7)

Let's compare the penultimate episodes of Outcasts with Being Human, shall we?

Whereas Being Human was full of intriguing and shocking twists that built up to a huge cliffhanger, Outcasts sort of just plodded along with an average episode. It was the sort of thing you might get during the middle of the series, a potential character piece that keeps the big series-wide storyline in the background whilst concentrating on one or two central characters. Other than Berger's TV spot at the end, calling for the residents of Forthaven to rebel against Tate, there was no build up, no tension, and no cliffhanger to whet our appetite for the big finale.

I also have to say that Outcasts' next episode previews are a bit naff as well. A dozen quick images accompanied by what sounds like the Eastenders drumbeat doesn't really excite me and make me desperate to watch next week. If anything, the final episode just looks like more of the same!

The beginning of this episode started well. We had Rudi, leader of the ACs, appearing to chat to the invisible "aliens" (are they a disembodied intelligence or, as Tate and Stella kept calling them, host entities?). Then Tate came face-to-face with one that looked just like him (or is Tate just imagining it all?). I did note that the "alien" didn't actually answer Tate's question about whether it would kill the humans; it just said that the same fact would befall them as happened to the fossilised hominids.

That was mostly it for the interesting stuff.

Instead, the show switched to Cass receiving an anonymous note indicating that someone knew his secret identity. Of course, in response he decided to get blind drunk and sleep with a strange woman. As you do. After he catches Faith (who is actually called Carla) rifling through his things, he assumes she's the one who sent the note and attacks her. She runs off and much of the rest of the show turns into a hunt for the woman whilst Cass tries to cover up his involvement.

Meanwhile, Tate decides it would be a good idea if he sneaks out of Forthaven to go and speak with Rudi, the guy who swore he'd kill him. Turns out that the "aliens" only have it in for the 70 inhabitants (sorry, 70,000 inhabitants) of the city and not the ACs. So Tate returns to his dimly lit office empty-handed and with a potential riot on the cards.

In the end, it turns out the woman was being abused by her husband and, eventually, Cass is cleared. But not before his relationship with the gorgeous Fleur has seriously soured. She finds some meaningless solace in the arms of wily Jack who, after some egging on by Berger, had earlier hanged their AC prisoner.

Oh and there was some dreadful stuff with Lily stealing money from the bar in order to get Stella to notice her. Or something. I thought the two had reconciled? All this seemed to serve was to allow Berger to 'comfort' Stella and thus show us how he's trying to bring people onto his side. And that was just a prelude to inciting the populace against the returning Tate.

After small improvements week after week, it looks like Outcasts had already reached it's peak last week. Instead of giving us a thrilling lead up to the final episode, we got something decidedly average - helped only by the wonderful Daniel Mays as Cass. Heck, we didn't even get to find out what it was Cass - a.k.a. Tom Starling - did in the past that was so awful! And with so many questions and plot threads still to be answered, it looks like the final episode this weekend might be a bit of a disappointment.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When Who?

Bleeding Cool has posted a banner image indicating that BBC America will start showing the new series of Doctor Who on the 23rd April (Easter Saturday). Which is probably a good guess for when it will start in the UK.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #7

art by Don Heck and Vince Colletta (from Avengers #45 1967)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Bend In Time

Dashing around the corner, the mysterious traveller ducked his head under the low pipe and carried on running down the industrial corridor. He glanced back at the rusty pipe, his eyes narrowed.

"What do you mean 'immutable'?" his attractive, headstrong companion cried out, just a step behind him with her head lowered so as to pass under the pipe. They'd been running for so long she was beginning to tire. Hopefully they'd stop soon.

For a moment, the traveller kept his gaze on the corridor behind them before turning toward his plucky companion.

"Unchangeable. The past. It cannot be changed", he replied offhandedly, as if this explained everything. They continued to charge down the corridor past one locked door after another, their footsteps echoing as they went.

The oddly attired gentleman studied the walls and the passing doors as they careened along the familiar looking corridor. Even though he was hurtling along as fast as his legs could carry him, he still took a strange sort of interest in his surroundings as if searching for something in particular.

"But you've gone back in time before. Many times! I've been there with you", his companion argued as she ran next to him, slim arms pumping whilst her long hair streamed out behind her. "And you've meddled and changed things", she added.

"I do not meddle", admonished her guide before continuing, "But yes, any point in time can be accessed and explored. However you can't go back and change things because, relative to the present, the past has already happened. It's in the past so, ergo, it must have already happened. See?"

In the distance they could see that the corridor they were rushing along was leading towards another corner. With a renewed effort, the traveller increased his speed towards it and his companion hastened after.

"Does that mean everything is fixed?" she asked, a little confused. "That we have no control over what happens or what we do?"

"Oh no. No, not at all. We choose what to do, what planet or time period to go to next, who to save, whether to get involved in the first place, whether to stand and fight or just run. Run towards or run away, it generally amounts to the same thing in my experience. Anyway, we choose and we try to make a difference. That's important!"

"But that doesn't make sense! So you're saying that we can change the past?" the assistant gasped as her breath was ripped from her lungs by the air rushing by.

They were now just a few feet from the approaching corner. The young woman stumbled slightly and almost tripped. The man slowed for a moment to help steady her and then together they continued to sprint onwards whilst he answered her question.

"No, because it's in the past. It all makes perfect sense. Time always does. The future is just the present waiting to happen and the present is happening everywhere and everywhen, right now. And the past has already happened so if you modify it, that alteration already occurred so you can’t have changed anything. It's fixed with respect to the present, for a given definition of 'present', of course. And every point in time is the 'present' for someone... or something".

At this, the curious man almost gave a furtive glance back down the corridor but stopped himself. What was behind them was not as important as what was ahead. And what was ahead was another corner. 

"Time is immutable", the man exclaimed as he turned and then added, "Duck!"

Dashing around the corner, the mysterious traveller ducked his head under the low pipe and carried on running down the industrial corridor. He glanced back at the rusty pipe, his eyes narrowed, suspicious.

"What do you mean 'immutable'?" his attractive, headstrong companion cried out, just a step behind him with her head lowered so as to pass under the pipe. They'd been running for so long she was beginning to tire.

Hopefully they'd stop soon.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Being Human: Though the Heavens Fall

(Love the title of this week's episode)

Herrick's back and the brown stuff hits the rotating thingy!

By which I mean the old, immoral, police uniform-wearing Herrick returns to terrorise the gang. And McNair and son are back too. And Nancy, the policewoman investigating the Box Tunnel massacre, she's back too! It's all getting very busy at the Honolulu Heights B&B.

After a so-so episode last week, Being Human is back on tracks, delivering a cracking episode which ramps up the suspense to a cliffhanger ending. It also brings together a number of threads crashing together, specifically the McNairs and Herrick, and finally resolves the massacre from the end of the last series.

Not only that but this episode is full of shocks, from the pre-titles flashback when we discover Herrick was responsible for the cage fights and McNair Snr's 'condition' to the very end when Mitchell is caught by the police and photographed. All via two even bigger shocks - the death of McNair and poor Nina's stabbing!

But there were more surprises in between...

Nancy is still doggedly determined to find enough evidence to arrest Mitchell, helped (of sorts) by Annie who, as Nina comments, has taken up fighting crime. She believes Mitchell's story that Daisy was responsible for all those the deaths on the train but starts to have doubts when Mitchell begins to dodge the subject under Nancy's re-examination.

Meanwhile McNair, nursing a wound, learns that Herrick is living in the B&B's attic and, after revealing that he's already killed Daisy (the attractive Scottish one) pounces on the amnesic Herrick. But Herrick defends himself with the knife Mitchell left behind and, amazingly, ends up the victor!

I have to say that, considering how tough they've made McNair out to be, he seemed a bit too easy to kill. Herrick didn't even look slightly injured.

Nancy's questioning has an ulterior motive though - to get Mitchell's fingerprints. Then another little shock when a police officer on the case reveals the results to her - and promptly punches her in the face! Turns out he's a vampire in disguise but thankfully Annie is around to save her and stake the vamp.

But, now with the evidence revealed, Annie has finally realised that Mitchell was involved in the Box Tunnel murders. Cue a brilliantly protrayed emotional confrontation between the two of them.

Although it seems Nancy has avoided turning into a blood-sucking creature of the night, she's just put off the inevitable. After heading back to Barry, she (and a bunch of armed officers) arrest Mitchell after Annie pleads with him to give himself up. Reluctantly he's dragged away, even though it will probably reveal the existence of vampires to everyone. Meanwhile, Nancy makes the mistake of investigating the attic and is sucked dry by Herrick, who finally understands who and what he is.

And if the police thought the Box Tunnel murders were bad, wait until they see the pile of dead officers in the B&B's living room! Not to mention the dead naked guy in the attic.

Nina and George come back after some worries about the size of Nina's bump (it seems werewolf babies develop quicker than human ones). George heads off to assist Mitchell (not sure what happened to Annie - we didn't see her at the police station nor in the B&B) whilst Nina goes inside where she painfully learns that the old Herrick is back, in a scene that is very similar to one from the old Marvelman comics. So is that the end of poor Nina? Is the baby lost? Will the truth about vampires come out?

A fantastic, bloodthirsty episode - probably the best this series - and I can't wait until next week's shocking conclusion.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Fishy Friday


Strength: 6
Toughness: 5
Special Powers: 6
Status: 4

Of course, if there was any doubt as to which company had the greatest undersea superheroes, this guy would seal the deal. Not sure why I like him so much - mainly it's his red and white costume with those large manta-ray cape wings - but I do. He's also one of the few battlesuited heroes who operates underwater (and pretty much only underwater) though he can also sort of fly/glide with those big wings.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


Nothing to do with anything happening today but I thought I'd just take a short trip down memory lane. Because.

Nineteen seventy-seven was the Queen's Silver Jubilee year, the year when the first personal computer - and the Atari 2600, my first (and probably still the "best") video games console - were introduced, the year when the comic 2000AD started, the year when I won a family bet on the Grand National (Red Rum won for the third time), and apparently the year when snow fell in Miami for the only time in its history. :-/

But it was also a good year for films.

I turned 7 years old in 1977 and, up until then, I don't really remember going to see films at the cinema. I'm sure I had done before then but, given the fact that my sister is 3 years younger than me, I doubt we had been going for long. And when we did we would have gone only to see Disney animations and the like.

But in 1977 quite a few big films came out and these are the first I remember (I realise I may have seen some, or all, of these films in 1978 and not '77 because it took a few months for them to appear in UK cinemas).

Star Wars: A New Hope was probably the biggest of these. I think it is the earliest space-based film I saw and certainly the most fondly remembered. For years after I would collect several hundred Star Wars figures and toys whilst desperately looking forward to the sequels (I had to wait an even longer time to see the slightly disappointing prequels). The one thing I remember - mainly because my Dad would always reminds us - is that just as the film was starting my sister needed to go to the toilet. I remained behind and so, for many years, I was the only one in my family to see that spectacular opening sequence.

I also remember being slightly disturbed and somewhat bemused by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To be honest, it's not really a film for young kids. I think I liked it, especially the iconic (and colourful) musical greeting, and I certainly remember it. For years after I would shape my mashed potato into a flat-topped mountain.

Those two films, together with Superman a year later (a film I neck-achingly watched whilst sitting right at the front of the cinema. Watch out for that falling helicopter!), kick started the sci-fi movie craze with both me and the general cinema-going public.

Then there was Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger which was probably my introduction to Harryhausen's wonderful stop-motion effects. At heart, I've actually always been a bigger fan of fantasy than sci-fi, and I like this genre more than my Dad, so this was a great treat for me. A pity then that fantasy films didn't get the same interest that sci-fi films did - not until Lord of the Rings anyway.

Of course, there were some kids films I enjoyed during this year - such as Pete's Dragon and the Rescuers (the latter, together with the aforementioned Superman, may have been one of only two or three films I saw with my Mum). The Spy Who Loved Me may also have been the first Bond movie I saw, though I probably only watched that when it appeared on TV years later.

All in all, 1977 was certainly an interesting year.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Outcasts (Episode 6)

I spent far too much time during this week's late night edition of Outcasts wondering why Forthaven did not have windows and only one generator powering the whole place. And why it appeared to take them so long to repair/switch on that one generator. Also, was that a prayer room we saw Stella in? I thought Forthaven was anti-religion?

You see, this week Rudi - leader of the ACs - decided to send a couple of his men to sneak into Forthaven (if the past is anything to go by, they could've just used the front entrance), cause a blackout and kill Jack, leader of the XPs. What did Rudi have against Jack? I thought he didn't like Tate who, let's remember, is an older, weaponless man with no guards to protect him. Did Rudi somehow hear about Jack's secret mission (instigated by the wily Julius) to send three of his XPs to kill him? Perhaps.

Unfortunately, something happened to those three XPs and they've been missing for 2 days. After a wild goose chase following flares (what was all that about anyway?), Josie Hunter - one of the XPs - turns up cut, bruised, dehydrated, and with a nasty limp after apparently being attacked by some ACs. Instead of being sent straight to the medical bay, everyone in Forthaven - all two dozen of them - give her a round of applause. Without even getting new bandages, she heads to her children who soon start to notice that something isn't quite right with mummy. Maybe the fact that she's been attacked, cut up and then wandered the wilderness for two days might have something to do with it?

Eventually another one of the missing XPs is found and he has a different story to tell. It wasn't the ACs that attacked them but Josie herself who turned on the other two. And so the PAS officers (i.e. Cass and Fleur) arrest Josie and lock her up. It's a pity they didn't have some sort of mind-reading device that could help determine the truth of the matter. Oh, they do? Well, perhaps the DBV was being used at the time to help Stella or Tipper go on little memory 'trips'?

Meanwhile, the wife of one of the missing XPs has gone into labour and is about to give birth to what might be the last child born in Forthaven for a while. There are complications with the birth so they have to perform a C-section (I'm guessing that, unlike space travel, tech and medical procedures haven't improved much?). And that's when the sneaky ACs attack and the lights go out.

Of course, there's no back-up generator in the medical bay where what turns out to be a very long caesarian is taking place. And the locks on the cells disengage when the power's lost (someone should sack the design engineer!). Josie gets out but, thankfully?, the attacking ACs are prevented from killing Jack.

By morning it appears Josie's taken her kids and can't be found. The generator still hasn't been switched back on either so it's dark everywhere inside Forthaven, which is still causing problems in the medical bay. Puzzlingly though, Josie then turns up at the entrance to Forthaven, bruised, battered and claiming not to know what's happened.

It would have been interesting if they'd not shown the second Josie at the end of this episode. They could have left us uncertain as to whether there were actually two Josie's or just that the pressure of the job and the stress of the attack had fractured her mind and split her personality. Yes, there were already hints to there being two Josies - Stella hearing Josie Number 2's radio message whilst Josie Number 1 was still in her cell and the viewer seeing Josie Number 2 lying in the wilderness when Cass and Fleur (them two again!) went to look for her. However, I sure these could have been glossed over. Instead, it's now obvious that there's some sort of presence on the planet that can manifest itself as people. Which is certainly intriguing in other ways and a pity we didn't get this little bombshell in episode 1 or 2.

The ending was a bit silly though. Why didn't Cass of Jack or someone try to scramble up the rocks to get to the other Josie? Why not a bigger reaction from those that knew, such as Tate or Stella? Why did they just brush it off and "keep it to themselves"? My wife pointed out that they do a lot of that in this series. Everyone does it and it can get a little annoying.

I have been somewhat harsh in what I've written for this episode. Actually I found that it was quite good; not perfect but it did have a fair amount of action and intrigue. There wasn't too much gloom either - both mother and baby lived at the end (although the father, the third missing XP, died). A few plot holes aside, this series is shaping up to be reasonably decent, sort of like Lost set on another planet. So it's a pity we'll probably not see a second series and (no doubt) be left with a few mysteries still unresolved. I also quite like how the show is episodic whilst still having a number of major plotlines running through the series. Each episode tells an individual story whilst significantly advancing the overall plot. Yes, some characters you only see in one episode and never again, but otherwise it generally works well.

So, Outcasts continues to slowly improve. It's just unfortunate the first episode wasn't more like this one.

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #6

art by Don Heck and Frank Giacoia (from Avengers #31 1966)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Captain Britain?

From Bleeding Cool here's a fascinatingly different version of Captain Britain from Dez Skinn (there's more at that Bleeding Cool link).