Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #23

art by George Perez and Pablo Marcos (from Avengers Annual #8 1978)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When is Miracle Day?

Very quickly, it looks like we have a confirmed date when the BBC is going to show Torchwood: Miracle Day. The first episode will be on Thursday 14th July (3 days after my birthday). Hoorah!

Also, the Daily Blam has an 11 minute behind-the-scenes featurette.

That is all.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Green Lantern


The spring/summer of superhero movies is well and truly underway. First there was Thor (which I missed), then X-Men: First Class (which was excellent) and now DC try to muscle in with Green Lantern, before Marvel can hit back with Captain America. Unfortunately it looks like Marvel has won this round.

Not that Green Lantern was bad. It was an entertaining, colourful film with some very impressive outer space CGI effects - if somewhat in-your-face and reminiscent of video game cut-scenes. Many of the cast were decent too - Ryan Reynolds does a fine Hal Jordan, I really liked Blake Lively as Carol Ferris and Mark Strong gave an excellent performance as (the somewhat underused) Sinestro.

It's just that, this felt like an average American superhero movie: introduce hero and supporting cast, hero gets powers, hero learns about powers, then he learns about threat, hero stops threat even though he has little experience. Other than the SFX, there was nothing to elevate this above - or bring it up to the level of - other action films out there. Iron Man (f'instance) had the wonderful Robert Downey Jnr as Tony Stark as well as the set up for the forthcoming Avengers film. X-Men: First Class tied in with the earlier X-Men films, exploring the fascinating relationship between Prof X and Magneto whilst utilising a sort of 60s James Bond theme as a backdrop. This just had pretty SFX.

Even the various aliens in the Green Lantern Corp weren't really examined much. Tomar Re was pretty much just a narrator there to introduce Hal (and the viewer) to the whole GL Corps thing, Kilowog was used to give us a very brief and slightly disappointing training exercise, and Abin Sur made a quick discovery of the threat and then crashed on Earth in the beginning third of the film. The only other alien we were introduced to was Sinestro who, coming across as the overly tough, uncompromising, strict, stuck-up leader, was merely there to set up the villain in the sequel. Probably a good idea - the last thing this introductory film needed was another villain on top of Hector Hammond and Parallax - but it did mean that Sinestro didn't get much to do other than preach about how perfect "his" Green Lantern Corp was.

I do wonder whether those not familiar with the comic books wondered what the point of the newly-created yellow ring was. There was a reasonable amount of time spent creating the thing and then nothing (other than a post-credits scene, which I missed!).

I liked the scene on the balcony with Carol seeing through Hal's flimsy disguise - because, seriously, a little domino mask around the eyes is going to do nothing to hide one's identity - and it was good to see that Green Lantern created objects (such as boxing gloves, ramps, and the like) with his ring rather than just blasting at things with green lasers.

Not sure about the use of Amanda Waller in the film though. For starters, she was far too slim but also she appeared to have been killed in the battle with Hector Hammond. Or maybe not? Seems a shame to get rid of her so lets hope she somehow recovered. It would be interesting if she appeared in all of the forthcoming DC movies, doing things behind the scenes, and perhaps setting up a Suicide Squad film sometime in the future.

All in all though, Green Lantern was an average film - not great but far from terrible - which should set things up nicely for a half decent sequel with Sinestro as the bad guy. Going off Mark Strong's performance, that should be pretty interesting!

Monster Monday

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fishy Friday



Amphibian

Strength: 7
Toughness: 7
Special Powers: 4
Status: 3

Amphibian is Marvel's Squadron Supreme version of Aquaman, just as Hyperion and Power Princess are the Marvel version's of Superman and Wonder Woman, respectively. However, although originally a man the character was brought back as a woman in the Supreme Power series. Note the ironic similarities between Amphibian's and Aquaman's secret identities - Kingsley Rice and Arthur Curry ("King Arthur" and "Curry and Rice").

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #22

art by George Perez and Pablo Marcos (from Avengers #170 1978)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fishy Friday



Shark-Man

Strength: 7
Toughness: 6
Special Powers: 3
Status: 1

As well as the excellent Stingray, Shark-Man is one of the very few other aquatic heroes who wears a super-suit to give him superstrength, partial invulnerability and the ability to fly.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Although I missed Thor at the cinema (I'll catch it on DVD later in the year), last night I managed to get to see X-Men: First Class whilst here in Glasgow. And, in summary, it was very good. I wouldn't say I was absolutely wowed by it but it was certainly an excellent story, had great SFX, was well-acted and fit in well with the other X-Men films (even X-Men 3: The Last Stand though not so much with Wolverine - which was probably a wise choice).

Telling the early tale of Erik/Magneto and Prof Xavier, this film concentrated on showing us how the two of them came together and how they subsequently fell apart. Both were played extremely effectively by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy - for me, McAvoy was the standout as the affable, empathic professor who has a way of displaying a little dry humour.

What was refreshing about this film was that it didn't try to overload the viewer with the back histories and 'origins' of all the characters. It was only really Magneto's and Prof X's backgrounds that were revealed - with a little of Sebastian Shaw's and Mystique's, I guess - but someone like Emma Frost was simply introduced with hints that she'd had a bit of a history with Shaw. Heck, I think poor old Riptide didn't even get to say anything, let alone an origin!

Thankfully, Azazel (supposedly Nightcrawler's father from the Draco storyline) was kept as a background lackey and a generic mutant with very little to say.

There were also some very amusing cameos in there as well!

Of course, things weren't perfect. Shaw's power was played a little loosely for my liking - he could absorb any energy and seemed to be able to release that energy in a variety of ways (small balls of energy, slamming a foot into the ground, etc). Though one wonders why couldn't absorb the kinetic energy of a moving coin near the end? Why would a CIA agent hire a young, very recent Oxford graduate in genetics as an expert on 'mutants' and not, say, his lecturers or some scientist in America (or is Xavier supposed to be the only genetics expert there is?). Also, I assume Xavier is English, and that his family's mansion-like home is in England - does this mean he starts his first school for mutants in England? The CIA let Hank/Beast construct these wonderful inventions (including a VTOL Blackbird) but, I assume, didn't keep the designs for them?

Anyway these were tiny, minor issues in an otherwise very enjoyable film - and one that, in many ways, is actually better than it's predecessors.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #21

art by George Perez and Pablo Marcos (from Avengers #167 1978)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Doctor Who: A Good Man Goes To War

I'm back - and of course one of the first things I did after getting back off holiday (other than putting on a load of washing) was to watch the midseason cliffhanger to Doctor Who. Better late than ever! And, wow, was it a good one.

Right from the brilliant pre-title sequence with a very authoritive Rory and the re-introduction of the Cybermen, this was a rollercoaster ride with the Doctor - plus a few helpful aides - at war with those who took Amy and her baby. There were some fantastic Star Wars -esque effects with spaceships docking during this beginning sequence but it was a pity we didn't see more of the Cybermen. Bit of a wasted opportunity there.

In fact, because there seemed to be so much packed into this episode, there was much that was just glossed over. It was chock full of genius ideas but some characters were introduced and then far too quickly killed off. For most, it didn't really matter but it's a pity we won't see any more of Sontaran nurse Commander Strax. Newcomer Madame Vastra and sidekick Jenny seem to have gone down well with the fans though (and quite right too). Loved the little nod to Thunderbirds with her coachman Parker - "Yes, m'lady".

The revelation Of River Song's identity wasn't too surprising once we'd learnt the name of Amy's baby although for a moment I was flummoxed when River supposedly revealed all to the Doctor and yet it didn't seem clear to the viewer. I wondered whether I had missed something - I just had to be a little patient.

I thought Moffat wanted a break in the series to give us a wonderful cliffhanger to fret over but, I have to say, this wasn't much of a cliffhanger. The one at the end of the last episode was better.

Also I wonder how the eye-patch woman knew Amy was pregnant before she kidnapped her at a point before the beginning of this series? No-one else knew at that point. And why were the Clerics the bad guys here but the good guys in the Time of the Angels?

So, little Melody was taken to Earth where she was brought up in a spacesuit by the Silence until she escaped and may (or may not) have killed an older Doctor and then went on to regenerate. How do the Silence fit in with eye-patch woman? How is Melody/River supposed to help fight against the Doctor (I suppose if she was the one in the spacesuit that killed the Doctor then I guess she did the job)? How does this all fit in with the TARDIS exploding?

So, great episode but still lots of questions. And complex but in a good way (although both my wife and 9year old daughter were confused by what was happening during this episode). The next episode after the break sounds pretty awesome though - "Lets Kill Hitler".

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fishy Friday



The Pirana

Strength: 3
Toughness: 2
Special Powers: 2
Status: 1

Apparently published by Harvey Comics, goodness knows who this guy is. He never even got his own title. But he could communicate with his two "piranapets" called Bara and Cuda. Brilliant!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #20

art by George Perez and Pablo Marcos (from Avengers #161 1977)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Holiday!

It's time for another family holiday - this time to sunny Menorca! Mind you, the weather here in England looks better than over there right now.

Anyway, I'll be back in a week (when the first thing I'll do is watch the midseason cliffhanger of Doctor Who). Hasta la vista!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Fishy Friday

The Fin

Strength: 4
Toughness: 4
Special Powers: 3
Status: 2

Okay, now we're starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. I have no idea who this guy is but apparently he's a golden age hero and an ally of Marvel's Invaders. Of course, he has the usual list of aquatic powers (strong, tough, swims fast, can breathe underwater, yawn) plus a magic cutlass!

Aviator #5: "By the Hoary Hosts...!"

Walking the long way back home from his first day as an official librarian, albeit a trainee assistant librarian, Rob was puzzled. Not by his new job, which he'd finally obtained after rescheduling his interview with Dr Armitage at the Lovecraft Library. And not by the state of Alyson Rosenberg's health, because she had bounced back quite admirably. No, his puzzlement was due to an email he'd received just before he'd left.

It had been from a friend of his, Ryan Marston, who still worked at Knight City Pharmaceuticals - the place where Rob used to work. He'd asked Ryan to run an analysis of the liquid he'd found at the warehouse, back when he'd encountered Feuerkraft. Doing it in his spare time, it had taken his old work colleague a few days to get around to it, but finally he'd emailed him the results. They had been somewhat intriguing.

At first pass the compound appeared to be a derivative of methamphetamine but there was an additional component that Ryan couldn't recognise. Rob did though; it was very similar to the chemical he'd been working on just before he'd been sacked from his old job. It was the chemical that had been due to be shipped to something called KRAKEN. It was also the chemical that had somehow given him superpowers.

The weird thing was that Ryan had run the analysis three times and each time that experimental chemical appeared to change composition. Ryan thought it was unstable or perhaps a glitch in the analysis software. Whereas to Rob it appeared like the formula was mutating.

Whatever it was, it puzzled Rob to distraction. So much so that, as he walked by an alleyway, he almost collided with someone.

Rob looked up to apologise and continue on his way. But then he realised that he recognised the rather scruffy person in front of him. It was the bag lady he'd saved from the collapsing building right at the start of his adventures.

"Oh, erm, sorry..." he began, but the old woman stopped him by waving a wrinkled hand in front of his face.

"Y' don't have t'be sorry, 'Aviator'. Was meant to be. I need t'ave a chat wit' ya", she said, moving into the shadows of the alleyway and beckoning Rob to follow her with a gnarly finger.

"Aviator? I don't know who you mean..." he began, stepping into the alley after the woman.

"I knows who y'are, 'Aviator'. I wuz there, remember? Ya saved me. I woz a bit… fuzzy at the time but it were you. It's important ya listen to wot I 'ave to say. Ya 'ave to help stop 'em!" she implored.

It seemed to Rob there was no point in arguing; she was adamant he was Aviator. So instead he took a moment to study this old woman who seemed to know him. His gaze gained him little in the dim light though. She wore a long, scruffy, patchwork coat that covered most of her short body. On her head, a stained headscarf covered her long silver-white hair and shaded her weathered features which, as Rob watched, appeared to flow and subtly alter. Intrigued, Rob walked a little further into the gloomy depths of the alley.

"Stop who?" he asked, trying to keep his voice low.

"Doesn't matter who”, the strange woman replied. “Call 'em the Black Sun. Yeah, it's as good as any. Y'see it's 'bout that book that was stolen. The one by Baum. That an' other thingies".

"The one from the library?" Rob asked incredulously. "What about it? And what other things?"

“Shuush!” The old woman held a finger to her lips whilst raising her other withered hand. This she moved above her head in a complicated gesture and then quietly incanted some unusual, complicated words. Suddenly, the noise from beyond the entrance of the alleyway cut off whilst the shadows surrounding them appeared to thicken. 

“That’s betta”, the woman spoke into the strange silence that now loomed around them. She gazed towards Rob with a withering look in her cloudy eyes.

"Ya don't follow the news much, does ya? That's not the only things' been stolen recently. There were that wardrobe shipped o’er from England and some gateway to the stars in Egypt, t’ name but two. They're pathways to the other places. The book itself were 'bout twisters to other planes and Baum's theories concernin' 'em".

"I'm sorry but who are you?" Rod asked, after a moment of puzzlement.

"Ya can call me Bag Lady. On account that I 'ave a bag, see? And I'm gifted. Able to see wha' others can't and lift veils t’other places. And it's comin', ya hear. Darkness. But before then, they need t'understand".

"I'm sorry but I don't know who 'they' are and I don't understand," pleaded Rob, taking a step back, wondering what this old woman was going on about. She was obviously somewhat crazy or perhaps still drunk (though Rob could not smell alcohol on her breath this time). However, as Rob moved backwards he felt resistance behind him.

"The Black Sun. Kraken. They're studying t’ hieroglyphics on cave walls in Rhudjistan and in pyramid tombs in Egypt. They've a plan t’ merge all the worlds, force ‘em into one. And in the chaos, they'll bring forth t'eternal Reich an’ rule over us all".

At the mention of Kraken, Rob's interest rose. He leaned closer.

"Kraken! You mentioned Kraken" he exclaimed. Perhaps this woman wasn't truly mad after all. "They, or he, were receiving some chemicals from..."

"I know. That'd be the Elixir", Bag Lady interrupted. "T' strengthen 'n' stabilise their legions during the crisis. It holds great power, y'see? 'Course ya do, it's in ya veins. That’s why they haveta be stopped. And you’ve gotta help stop 'em, Aviator".

Rob squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed his head. This all seemed somewhat surreal to him.

"Stop them? How?"

"They'll be afta the cross-time configurator next. It’s sorta like a pocket watch. It's... somewhere else right now. But I'll find it, don’tya worry. It’ll jus’ take me a day or two an’ then I’ll be back in touch. First tho’ ya 'ave to deal wit something closer ta home".

The old woman could see that Rob looked confused. She tutted, shook her head, and sighed.

"Like I said, ya don't follows the news much, d'ya? Here..."

The old woman plunged her thin arm into the large, patchwork bag that hung from her shoulder. Scrabbling around she eventually pulled out an old and creased copy of the Herald and threw it at Rob's feet. He looked down and stared at it.

On the front page were three photographs, side by side. The first was what appeared to be a picture of Kathleen Pendergast, his current roommate and lover, whilst next to this was an image of a man and another woman Rob didn't recognise. In the dim light of the alley the man’s features and neck looked oddly-shaped whilst the other woman looked, well, crazy. Turning back to the photograph of Kath, Rob noticed that it didn't do her justice at all. In fact, it made her look very unwell and almost ghostly.

Above the photographs were thick, black words claiming "CRIMINALS ESCAPE DUNWICH". Below this Rob could read the sub-heading that read "Fallen Angel, The Human Snake and Dizz-E Elude Police".

Bending down, Rob hesitantly picked up the paper and read the first few sentences of the article. His hands began to shake by the time he’d finished the second paragraph and realisation began to hit him.

"Dear God, no!" he whispered to himself.

TO BE CONTINUED

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Winsome Wasp's Wardrobe #19

art by George Tuska and Vince Colletta (from Avengers #137 1975)