Sunday 31 December 2017

EAT SHIT, 2017

Hasn't been a great year, and I'm topping it off with a bout of whatever seasonal bug is doing the rounds, but I take some small solace from the fact that in 2018, Trump and May will just sort of continue in place without consequence for the whole year while the good old BBC cheers them on from the sidelines while running stories about Labour injecting AIDS-infected blood into babyfood jars or something similar "because Guido Fawkes and the Telegraph are talking about it so it is technically news", while the internet cracks down on alternative news sources much as Twitter and Facebook are already deleting and censoring millions of accounts critical of Israel, so the gains of the left will be undone in the coming year or so and we can all look forward to the last couple of years of social and political upheaval having been for fuck all.
On the actual for-real bright side, I got to do a serialised spy comic set in the 1960s this year for the 29th volume of David Lloyd's Aces Weekly digital anthology.  I made the female lead a non-white non-Christian and no-one complained about it being political correctness going mad, so  maybe there's hope for us all yet.  (/reads yet another evangelical defense of The Last Jedi)  Actually, never mind WE ARE CLEARLY DOOMED.
Still, next year can only be better, so may Allah bless you, your family, and all your endeavors in the coming year and beyond.

Monday 25 December 2017

People just don't behave like that - not even Germans

Been unwell, bit better now, writing a post while I wait to go to the pub.
MURRY KRISMAS ALL - enjoy it while you still can before those liberals and socialists that occupy all the positions of power and influence in the West outlaw Christianity, heterosexuality and being a white man AKA The Only Truly Oppressed Minority.  They won't be happy until we have Sharia Law, outlawed music, schools free from guns, and adequate medical coverage as a basic human right.
Nowt much has happened during my blogging absence, apart from some sort of collective delusion that The Last Jedi was a good film. It was a fine Stargate SG1 season finale circa seasons 7-10 (especially loved the expanded budget paying for superfluous space battles alongside the pointless B-plots padding out the running time until everyone retreats into a mountain to fend off the swarm of Apophis' army and/or his latest laser-based superweapon that can cut through the gate shield before one of those God-people with superpowers shows up to Deus Ex everything away), but it was not a good film objectively, flawed as it is in basic logic, lacking in consistent characters or arcs, as obsessed as The Force Awakens with rehashing the past with flashier visuals, and - hilariously - introducing as a late-in-the-day theme the idea that one should let go of the past and move forward.  Yes, that's right, a film that is the ninth in a series and which is mercilessly marketed towards people by appealing to their inner 9 year old to the extent it recycles entire scenes from the previous 8 not just expects this to work as a theme, but it has the notion delivered to the audience via the giggling puppet version of Yoda that has not been seen since the first half of a film made in 1980 because the writer/director has decided to ignore everything that happened in the canon since then - including the second half of that same film - and use the version of the character that he remembers best.
And the politics - oh sweet Allah the centrist dad politics!  Suffice it to say if you're still harping on about Clinton being robbed instead of admitting she was a horrible candidate because centrism was the problem with rather than the solution to running against a populist demagogue, then The Last Jedi is probably realpolitik incarnate, but if you're a snarky wanker who prefers the idea that when faced with populist demagogues you don't bitch on the sidelines about not having a political party pure enough to vote for once every four years and should just pick a fucking side and go down swinging, you're probably just going "WELP of course someone is profiteering from The Star Wars, they're called Walt Disney LOL."  NOTE TO SELF - ADD PRO BERNIE SANDERS REF HERE TO ANNOY PASSING CLINTS
The Last Jedi is a car crash of a film, but so expensive-looking and symbiotically/parasitically interwoven with the nostalgia - whether it be real or acquired through cultural osmosis - of its intended audience that it gets the benefit of the doubt that was denied the Prequels and Rogue One, and in this holiday season - or what's left of a holiday before the liberal socialist justice cucktard cultural Marxists purge anyone who isn't sufficiently pure - it's nice to see that people can come together and spread positivity and think well of such a bauble.  A shame they can't seem to do it without railing at mostly-imagined "Star Wars gatekeepers" out to Grinch Christmas for everyone (because THIS they get off their asses to get angry about), but then you can't have everything.


Wednesday 29 November 2017

My affliction is a result of a warped adulthood and an insatiable desire to be friendly

Hulu's Marvel's Runaways, based on the  teen superhero comic of the same name, has dropped three episodes.
One thing that the bafflingly-enduring but perpetually low-selling comic series did well in its original incarnation was its page-turn reveals, pre-title scenes and cliffhangers (yes I know this is three things shut up), but there's none of that in the show, nor does the show utilise archetypes as well as the original comics.  Also missing - aside from a synth score nicked from Stranger Things - is the original comics' ahead of it's time stripmining 1980s and 1990s popular culture for references and plots, which is incredibly common in tv shows right now, but back in the heady days of the early 2000s when the original comics landed, not so much.  I can only really think of Smallville as ploughing that furrow as determinedly and within the same genre as Runaways, though to be honest, when characters on that show were announcing that someone had "gone Thelma And Louise with the Creature From The Black Lagoon", it felt like maybe this trope was a bit over... and then it went on to become the media norm, showing how much I know.
The cast is mostly good, though the characters don't seem very interesting.  The parents are inevitably fleshed out with unnecessary backstories and rote interpersonal dramas, where the original comics painted the characters with an admirable focus and economy that amounted to "bad guys, but good parents" to the point I feel they worked better as archetypes, if only because the show's idea of elaborating on Japanese characters is to have them go out for sushi, or elaborating on black characters by exploring their guilt that they left "the hood" behind for the "white man's world" - and yes, I am quoting these terms directly from the show itself.
Of the kids, Karolina is duller than she is in the comics, and just to be clear what an un-achievement this is, Karolina Dean is one of the dullest characters in comics.  Molly Hayes has been aged upwards to a teenager from the original comics' tween so there isn't any distinction between her and any of the other kids anymore, while her parents have been written out of the story (two less characters keeps the cast salary lower, I guess), arguably making her entirely redundant as a character to the point there's a bit where she goes climbing out a window to escape someone she doesn't need to be escaping and all I could think of was that Seventh Doctor episode of the original Doctor Who where the end of the episode is getting near so he just climbs down a cliff for no reason and just dangles there while the credits kick in, like someone had said "right, put a cliffhanger at that bit" to the scriptwriter and had been taken entirely literally.  Alex looks like his comic book counterpart, but occasionally this just means he looks vaguely silly, while Nico looks nothing like her comics counterpart - by which I mean she looks Japanese HA HA I MADE A JOKE ABOUT ARTISTS NOT TAKING CARE TO ACCURATELY RENDER ETHNIC AND RACIAL IDENTITY.
Anyway, I was balls drunk for the first episode so I really liked the synth score and atmosphere of the piece, which reminded me of John Carpenter movies, but as the episodes progressed, it felt like they were slowing down, if that makes sense as an observation.  Where the original comics tore through their plots, the show doesn't feel like it's capitalising on the in-built acceptance in this kind of teen-friendly media for recycling pretty much anything from anywhere to pad out the running time, though this also gives it a feeling of commitment to being a standalone drama with its own identity rather than something which just stripmines the work of other creators and hangs a lampshade on its thievery like this excuses laziness and creative bankruptcy rather than simply being an extension of both.  The comics often failed to stay on the good side of creative recycling, but again, were fairly unique in their approach at the time, series creator Bryan K Vaughan being one of the first post-Mark Millar comics writers to really nail down the misanthropy/soundbites/cliffhangers approach to US comics writing that's since become ubiquitous.  That approach is entirely unremarkable in teen programming at the moment - The CW's slate of interchangeable cookie-cutter superhero shows being a prime example - but in the early 2000s was not really that common, so by reaching backwards towards when teen dramas were instead a bit more focused on their core themes and ideas, Runaways the tv show might find itself seeming similarly uncommon in 2017.  I suppose we shall see.

Sunday 19 November 2017

You and I need to be alone in the woods so I can download all this man knowledge

I really wish I'd seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets back when it was doing the rounds in the cinemas, as the last couple of weeks have kind of put a damper on the material.  Where - a mere four weeks ago - I might have chalked up the lead's aggressive overtures towards his female colleague as the actions of a letch with misplaced enthusiasm, these days Valerian can be viewed as nothing less than a persistent sex pest and serial molester.  A string of female co-workers is plastered along the walls of his and Laureline's starship seemingly as a joke about his womanising ways, but it's plain from the off that his mating patois is severely lacking and that when it fails him, he is quick to resort to physical aggression towards women, leading the mind to ponder on what kind of horrors have gone on in this isolated starship far from any witnesses, and why these countless women have disappeared from Valerian's workplace never to be seen again after he has "conquered" them.  I know there's a trend out there in that there social medias for dark takes on seemingly bright and colourful material, like, I dunno, "what if the computer in Jem And The Holograms is actually Jerrica Benton's dead mother trapped in a digital purgatory by Satan to tempt Jerrica into a rock 'n' roll life of sin while being doomed to dispassionately view her descent - or worse, to actively seek to cause it that she might bargain a way out of her own torment at the cost of her only child's immortal soul?" but trust me, there's not a lot of mental gymnastics involved in getting to the dark take here, Valerian is one creepy motherfucker right from the first moments we meet him, and through the lens of the film, we are supposed to see Valerian as he sees himself - heroic and determined, rather than seedy and unthinking.
The rest of the film isn't that great, either - some good setpieces, but a lot of the FX are surprisingly poor - well, as "poor" as they can be when they still clearly look like several million bucks' worth of effort - especially a blue blob-like alien that seems to be voiced and intermittently played by some American lady who I suspect I am supposed to recognise and who probably ends up with more screen time than any other character apart from the two leads despite... let us say "less acting ability than those who surround her" in a very even and non-judgmental manner, if only because I am now worried that she might be some sort of Make A Wish winner who got to star in the film as a last request.
I do recall trying out the Valerian and Laureline books a few years ago, and can't really say my memory of them aligns much with what I saw here, the pacing seems really slow for something so episodic and which covers so much ground, and it's flashy and bang-y and sees a welcome return to the fantasy end of the sci-fi spectrum, but ultimately, it's just an expensive-looking curiosity with the odd memorable moment and a wildly inconsistent tone.  Mainly, though, it's just hampered by how much of its creepy lead's behavior you may or may not be willing to look past in order to enjoy the rest of the film.

Monday 13 November 2017

There were plenty of other people who could have helped that guy back into his wheelchair

 The Dark Tower - Yeah, I don't know what that was.
It starts well by quoting the opening narration of the 1984 Masters Of The Universe movie - "there is a tower at the center of the universe" and so on - but then goes all meta by saying "the mind of a child can bring it down", which after watching the film I take to mean that The Dark Tower is so flimsy that even a child can poke holes in it until it collapses - which is exactly what happens over the course of the film, as kids are used to literally poke holes in The Dark Tower.
Is it fantasy?  Science fiction?  What is the motivation of the villain?  Why does it look so cheap?  He's a sorcerer but his big plan is a science laser?  Why doesn't he just use magic?  We clearly see him blowing chunks off the Tower, so why doesn't he just keep doing that until it falls down rather than looking for an extra powerful battery to make an even bigger laser bullet that will kill the tower in one shot?  Where is this science coming from?  We only ever see ruined post-civilised worlds, so where is he getting his technology and scientists?  None of this makes any sense.
It reminds me of Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and how it was repackaged as Robotech in America: SDFM had a McGuffin called "Protoculture", which was the concept of non-terrestrial civilisation predating humanity and which was cited as a conceptual barometer of the human species' capacity for higher technological and philosophical states (can we achieve the same level as protoculture?" type of thing), but in the rewritten US version of the show, Protoculture was a power source a bit like Energon Cubes that could be used to make lasers and "control the universe".  That kind of pigshit-thick interpretation of the source material is basically what I think I'm looking at in The Dark Tower, which is so remarkably lacking in any interesting characters or ideas that I am now convinced that the studio started the race-swapping debate about the casting of Dris as The Gunslinger just to obscure what a load of shite this film is - you know, like they did with the Ghostbusters remake, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Yes, all these race/gender-swapping furores around products from the same studio - that's a bit of a coincidence, isn't it?  And a studio we already know from an infamous hack to be institutionally racist and misogynistic at the highest levels, making their sudden turn as posterboys for multiculturalism and gender diversity more than a little unconvincing.
I'll credit them that baiting racists in order to use them as a pretext to dismiss criticism of a boring and glaringly flawed film was actually a clever marketing strategy and probably the best thing about The Dark Tower, but perhaps emboldening racists and further bringing racism back into the mainstream might not be something we should do.  Maybe instead of upping our deflecting criticism game we should make better art?  Just floating that out there, Sony.

Friday 3 November 2017

All our problems are solved apart from food, money, and somewhere to sleep

Welcome to what is apparently now my blog dedicated to posts about canceled comics from the 1980s, as today I am speaking about Marvel's Power Pack #63, a tie-in to whatever "Legacy" is - maybe it's a crossover, maybe it's a one-off event where Marvel drag their limbo properties out of the drawer to publish a copyright/trademark-affirming issue so they don't get sniped like Marvel sniped DC Comics on the Captain Marvel brand, who can really say?  I wasn't planning to buy this one as I've been repeatedly burned by the underwhelming modern appearances of the various characters, but my brother, bless his little cotton socks, took matters into his own hands and bought a copy for me, kind of like if an elderly relative hears you like Batman and buys you "that Hush comic", in that the sentiment is greatly appreciated regardless of the quality of the gift.
Power Pack, should you be unaware, are a kid superhero team pretty unique to Western comics in that they experienced largely straight-faced adventures in the dour and grimy Manhattan of the 1980s before Rudolf Guilliani cleaned the place up (not that this cleanup would stop the likes of Daredevil living in this specific time and place well into the 2000s), and weren't the bubbly, self-aware iconoclastic superhero youths we're more used to seeing in popular culture via the anime-inspired Teen Titans, the Franco-riffic Ladybug, or even other Marvel titles like Ms Marvel or Gwenpool: Power Pack were grim-faced poverty-line protagonists right out of a Steinbeck novel, though they were viewed with some bemusement by the comics-buying public of the time, who - unlike the tolerant, racially and gender-diverse open-minded metrosexual comic book readership of 2017 - were older straight white males who were a bit entitled about their hobby and didn't like characters who weren't straight white males, and preferably teenagers.  No, I don't understand that last bit, either.
Anyway, Power Pack weren't really a priority for a relaunch after their title folded with its 62nd issue, especially with their paltry hundred thousand readers (yes, I know), so apart from a miniseries in the early 2000s that was ignored by almost everyone (especially Marvel writers) they languished in comics limbo before the inevitable death blow for any comic book superteam: having the characters split off into co-starring/backing cast roles in other team books like New Warriors, Runaways, Loners, Fantastic Four, and Future Foundation.  This is a blow that comic book superteams can rarely recover from because now the characters are off acquiring continuity baggage that most editors and fans psychopathically resist disregarding, so if there's ever a reunion story down the line, all that baggage has to be incorporated or acknowledged and God help the poor comics writer who considers such things a trifling matter and not important in the greater scheme of telling an interesting or entertaining story - this is comics continuity, dammit and...
Ah, who am I kidding?  The dang thing has a big old #63 on the flipping cover, it's not like anyone can pretend continuity isn't an anchor dragging on this endevour and the story has any kind of mandate to hold up objectively AND YET... for some reason, the framing makes it clear that this is the doomed intention of writer Devin Greyson, here crafting an admittedly neat getaround for the continuity mess she's been saddled with by making the story an unreliable flashback related by Katie Power, one of the only characters from the original comic whose timeline isn't now a car crash of half-assed never-finished ideas and aimless sexual objectification.
As a fan of the comic, I of course realise that Katie is unreliable almost immediately through my encyclopedic knowledge of Power Pack, but mainly because a character in the story explicitly states she is an unreliable narrator.  Continuity-wise, she's unreliable because she seems to look up to her older brother Alex as a good superhero rather than one of the worst and most ineffective superheroes in the history of comics to the extent that his finest comics moment was when Doctor Doom backhand-slapped him until he bawled like a child, which was very, very funny to read, but, you know, probably not something you put in the scrapbook.
As an objective exercise in storytelling, I felt it suffered from none of the characters being distinctive, and even if you allow that this is because it's a tale told by a single character from their POV, we never actually establish what that narrator's character is.  What we get here is essentially an above-average inventory strip expanded to a full issue, and while there's plenty to recommend it between Marika Cresta's crisp art and Devin Greyson keeping things straight-faced and largely devoid of winks to the audience (though the aforementioned character talking about unreliable narrators briefly brings things into lampshade-hanging territory), I was ultimately disappointed in it as an addition to the characters' ongoing saga more than as a standalone.  In Greyson's defence, I totally rambled on about continuity for a few paragraphs for a reason: you need to have read a couple of dozen books just to have the full background on what's happening in this one ("Alex hasn't been seen since the reformation of the multiverse" is an actual line of exposition in this), and Marvel needed to have some confidence that someone with Greyson's experience could have told a tale worth reading that featured all the characters and could have springboarded the property into an ongoing series.
As it is, this feels like filler, and though if they ever get to a full reboot I am totally there, this has probably exhausted any lingering curiosity I might have had about where a contemporary take on the property might have gone.

Monday 23 October 2017

If you want it to blink, I'm gonna need another weasel

There's really only 2000ad left to fly the banner for straight-faced comic tales in the UK, though how successful it is remains a bit of a grey area as publishers Rebellion don't give out sales figures - we don't know if the book turns a profit, much as we don't know if it's popular outside an aging readership, or if it's just being published as an IP farm by a relatively small media company that seems to have filled its IP catalogue in the last few years via fire sales of redundant UK comics properties.  Whatever the case may be, 2000ad is essentially "it" in the UK.
The House Of Tharg is a prolific publishing endevour overseen by a totalitarian extraterrestrial sociopath, but it's also one with a "house style", which I say with no value judgement attached: it is neither good nor bad that all which flows from the House is clearly identifiable as the output of one publisher in particular, this simply is what it is.
And so we come to 2000ad Presents, or to give it its full, unwieldy and admirably optimistic title,  2000ad Presents Scream! and Misty, or to give it a more accurate title 2000ad Presents some IP from Scream! and puts the Misty logo on there too because sure why not?
They needn't have bothered sticking the Misty brand on this at all is what I am implying, as there's only one story from that title and it's not terribly similar to the source anyway.  The whole thing feels like a 2000ad special more than a Scream! or Misty outing, which obviously it would do given the creative talent draws from The Only Show In Town, but also because it actually is a 2000ad special and even has the 2000ad logo on the front and everything, so... you know, there's that.
Anyway, I don't know why I bothered with a lengthy intro to what is essentially a bullet-point review of this comic, but the general thrust of the above was that this comic feels very 2000ad-y more than anything.  I got there in the end.

Of the strips themselves, John Stokes draws the living shit out of the 13th Floor, and while you can't go wrong with Frazier Irving, I would have preferred John Stokes do the whole strip for the sake of consistency as much for the simple pleasure of seeing him further channel Ortiz for the nightmarish 13th Floor sequences.  Guy Adams does a good job and further distances himself from That Deadpool Type Thing In 2000ad That I Hate - though that hate has more to do with my fiery dislike for Deadpool and anything remotely like it than Mr Adams' writing.  I mean, Alan Moore did an issue of Spawn once, you guys - sometimes you just have to play the hand fate deals you, and you can't blame a man for selling his ass to pay them bills.

I maybe would have tried to play down mentions of high rise fires, but the script does a good job of hitting the necessary beats even if the eventual fates of the antagonists lacked any ironic satisfaction like - for example - happy-slapping bullies perpetually chasing "more views" by uploading footage of the brutalising of their victims perhaps becoming viral video stars when footage of them crying like babies at imagined demons is uploaded onto their video channel, though there's an admirable simplicity to characters experiencing brutal and uncomplicated fates such as being rendered comatose after being terrorised like they terrorised others.  Apart from the inclusion of social media bullying, this story is remarkably similar to an existing 13th Floor storyline, though I have noticed one glaring omission from this homage to the original, in that the strip doesn't acknowledge the finest era of The 13th Floor: when Max ran a supermarket and was also a spy for HMG.  Just me, then?  FINE.

The Dracula File - Dracula was an entirely different character from what he was in the original strip and the story had nothing to do with the original strip and was not like it in any way, but apart from that, this was exactly the same as the old Dracula File.  I really liked the use of thought bubbles, a technique mostly maligned by comics purists who insist that Spider-Man feels much more mature when his thought bubbles are turned into rectangles, and the look of Bat-Dracula on the last page also reminds me of Mike Mignola's work on the adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, but this whole setup and backstory is clearly a shameless steal of Dr Acula from SCRUBS.  The diversity in the cast of characters is also welcome, what with Britain being a multicultural society and all, but mainly it's welcome because it annoys arseholes.  Annoyed that a comic has a South Asian female lead?  Sorry to break it to you, buddy, but you are most likely an arsehole.  I mean, you'd probably need a second opinion to be sure, but in 99 percent of cases, hating a story because one of the characters is brown and/or a woman strongly indicates arseholedom.
The good news is that it's curable and rarely terminal - you just have to stop being an arsehole.

Death Man - This is a bizarre strip for all the wrong reasons, but mostly for its similarities to the plot of Zenith, and the plot of Albion, and the plot of Secret Wars 3, and the plot of the Dark Tower novels.  Maybe I'm being harsh and the world needs more superheros coming out of comics limbo to fight reality-threatening menaces, though - like Dan Abnett's Guardians of the Galaxy did, or the third season of Ultimate Spider-Man did, or the fourth season of the 90s Spider-Man did, or the fourth season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did.  Okay I'll stop now.
Despite a 2-page infodump on the characters, none of them seemed interesting in their own right within the 6 pages of actual comic story, not to mention changing them from what they were originally into stock superhero team archetypes just seems like it would negate the one selling point this strip had: nostalgia.  I mean, Blake Edwards alone, you'd have half of America's comics writers under 40 take your bloody arm off to write a comic about a billionaire extreme sports star with a face like Eddy out of Iron Maiden who disguises himself as a mummy to fight werewolves, so why didn't they just give him his own strip instead of having him show up at the end and just stand there like a lemon?  Even the main character doesn't seem to do anything in this.  I guess because this story started in a different 2000ad special from last year (no, really) and nothing is resolved here, it means we're definitely getting more of this strip whether we want it or not, so I suppose my opinion of it is irrelevant.  Oh well.

Black Max - Me likey.  A lot to work with here, especially liking the quips building up the main character's false bravado, punctuated by the wailing self-doubt into the mirror in the closing panel that seems like it could be an ending right out of a 1980s girls' comic, though Simon Coleby's renderings of kids are incredibly creepy-looking, which is more in keeping with the sensibilities of boys' comics by the likes of Eric Bradbury.  I personally liked the sense of a shared universe off in the background that the appearance of the Sentinels brought to things a lot more than the in-your-face League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen sensibility of Death Man, and that instead of the logic and storytelling of a teen drama from The CW that seems to be a common thread through the other strips, Black Max just goes full-on with its batshit-crazy premise of a tween girl wearing her grandad's WW1 trophies to go skateboarding during a blood moon and getting chased through Limbo by the ghosts of bat-people.  It's the most willfully outrageous of the strips, but also the only one that seems to fully work on its own terms, and as an addition to the canon of the comics whose logos adorn the cover.

Return Of The Sentinels - This one felt like it was the most 2000ad-ish of all the properties featured, and the one with the most obvious potential to be developed in other media, but the current ubiquitousness of an alternate Britain where the Nazis won has diminished the novelty of the central premise, and given the Man In The High Castle trope has been done to death in comics and tv lately, this should ideally have been more than a retread of the Black Max story with a generic teen lead - though I appreciate that the similarities with Black Max weren't intentional and these creators probably worked with minimal or zero interaction.  Given I just complained about similarities to Black Max, I probably sound like a bigger tit than usual for suggesting that Return of the Sentinels should have taken more from BM's playbook and skewed its lead characters much younger in keeping with the original strip, as the teen girl protagonist that looks like she's in her twenties is kind of old hat now. Some of the lettering placement is pretty confusing, and the protagonist is one of those typical YA heroines who's just an average girl until they have to be a master of all forms of combat (to beat up Nazi stormtroopers with her bare hands, of course), but it's not like this is actually terrible or anything, it just doesn't seem to stand out and I have no strong feelings about the material.

Fate of the Fairy Hunter - would have preferred more JK Rowling bashing, but that's just in general.  Feels like it blows its story load a page before the end, but the main gripe is that for something that's supposed to be channeling Misty, it has far too happy an ending for its unlikable characters - maybe I am imagining that they would have gotten a comeuppance in older UK comics and it's a creation of the modern era that awful characters tend to escape karmic slapdowns.  This, more than anything else in the special, feels more like a one-off from 2000ad - not bad, just out of place.

All in all, some high points, but not much of a return to the glory days of Scream! or Misty.  It's a serviceable 2000ad special, though possibly suffers from almost all the stories feeling like pilot episodes.  Would have preferred it skewed a little younger, but it's hard to say if that's because I'd have liked younger readers to pick it up, or just because that would have made it more like the source material.  Probably a bit of both.

Thursday 19 October 2017

I hate to sound all lovey-dovey, but you're giving me a boner

I used to watch films with actual wolfses in them - usually werewolfses - but then I joined Twitter to promote a graphic novel and talk shit about b-movies and five years later I'm a communist and every film I watch - even if it has giant robots in it - is some critique of its age instead of just some amusing stuff that happens while I drink beer in a mostly futile attempt to stave off the terrors that come with my dreams, so maybe that's why The Wolf Of Wall Street strikes me as a critique of late-stage capitalism masquerading as a catalogue of the excesses that unearned affluence can bestow to those of minimal skill and/or an inflated sense of self-worth.  One thing it is not is a sequel to that Jack Nicholson film where he is a werewolf or possibly he actually wasn't and it was just a mid life crisis or something - I wasn't woke at the time I saw it and just liked that he pulled someone's fingers off and then peed on a man's trousers.
The Wolf Of Wall Street's masterstroke is that for all the close-ups of drug-addled characters writhing in their own fluids and crippled by irrational paranoia, the vulgarity of the nouveau riche is catalogued seemingly uncritically, and the only clue as to Scorcese's true intent is when the camera pans slowly back to reveal line after line of complete fucking rubes lining up to learn how to extract unearned wealth from an unapologetic alpha male prick who makes no bones about the fact he's fleecing each and every person in the room and to a man and woman they're too thick to comprehend it.

Lady Bloodfight is basically Bloodsport, but with attractive ladies.  Some knowing winks at Western kung-fu cliches hide behind corny dialogue and occasionally-ropy delivery, while the script buries a potential antagonism between the blonde lead and a goth street thug in favor of exploring sympathetic rivalries among the fighters, which is not terribly common to the death sport genre - on account of the whole "death" part - and so has novelty on its side, though it does rob the film of a firm central arc.  There are some traditional antagonists in play, but they're not pivotal enough to the story to become narrative lynchpins, and I would argue they feel tacked-on to give a coming of age plot more appeal to the traditional action b-movie crowd, much as the left field appearance of a Force Ghost in the final stretch objectively seems out of place to all but avid watchers of head-punching cinema like myself.
I couldn't for the life of me remember where I'd seen the lead actor before, but The Internet thankfully provided the answer: she is stuntwoman/cosplayer Amy Johnson, AKA "the live action version of Harley Quinn you can watch without wanting to peel your eyes out and stab yourself in the ears" though her day job is also to make Scarlett Johannson look good - by which I mean that she is Scarlett Johannson's fight double in the Marvel movies, and not that she fabricates stories in the media to make it seem like Scarlett Johannson actually gives two fucks about Palestinian rights or international law.
I was lucky to see this as it was intended to be viewed (while quite drunk), though, so narrative shortcomings didn't bug me as much as not seeing more slow-motion kicks to the face.  Ultimately, I enjoyed it plenty. 

Friday 13 October 2017

Basically I broke my vagina

I don't suppose we'll ever crack the DaVinci Code that explains why Youtube doesn't aggressively pursue copyright infringement claims against large channels that bring them lots of money with the same vigor they do smaller channels that bring them little or no money, but while it continues to somehow use large chunks of films, cartoons and tv shows as fodder for its unfunny running commentaries, CinemaSins is lazy, cheap and destructive to modern entertainment.
If you don't know CinemaSins, you've been quite fortunate - or unfortunate, as you missed a brief moment years ago when it was approaching being good - but in a nutshell its business model is to repackage the work of others and profit from it while claiming to be exempt from copyright protection laws on the basis that what they do is "parody", and bad enough that it profits from distributing other people's work, but its whole schtick is to cite a series of nitpicks which it calls "sins" in a running commentary alongside actual footage from the work (so you know, they can shit on something while profiting from it) that in reality would be little more than continuity errors even if they weren't mostly just the result of the CinemaSins narrator/scriptwriter failing to observe or pay attention to the work, meaning that CinemaSins has basically found a way to monetise that guy in the movie theater who thinks he's funny and won't shut the fuck up.
This format means that they are not simply reproducing and distributing other people's work, but they are also defaming it while presenting it as factual or academic critique.  "It's just a joke!" Its fans will no doubt offer as a defence, and if that's the extent to which they think about how media works there's nothing I can do about that and I wish them well as I am obviously not going to sway them with arguments about how viral memes on social media have substituted myth for fact and how this has now damaged our society so actual art has little chance of emerging somehow unscathed from the same crucible, how artists should be compensated for their work even when it is reinterpreted and used to demean their endeavors, or even just difficult rocket scientist concepts like fairness.  If that's you, you can stop reading and leave now.
No really, clear off.  Go laugh at someone who's fallen out of a wheelchair or whatever it is you do with that moral compass of yours.

And now no-one is left reading my blog post because the only people who came here were those who got an alert on their phone and thought a new CinemaSins video had been uploaded - but that's okay because I've already had a pageview from them!  LOL DO YOU SEE?  I have used CinemaSins' own tactic to generate web traffic!  It's what they would have wanted, I am sure.  I mean, they're good guys, really, it's not like they respond to criticism of their channel or videos in a really poor and petulant way that betrays they don't have a sense of humor and their video scripts are little more than comments trawled from the web, though on the offchance they're offended by any of the above: IT'S JUST A JOKE YOU GUYS DON'T TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.

Monday 24 July 2017

You're going to make some girl born in the mid-90s very happy

Aces Weekly stands alongside The Phoenix as a UK weekly you've likely never heard of because it's not clogging up the shelves of your local Smiths, as they've circumvented the supermarkets' protection racket on magazine placement that killed the UK comics industry and have used alternate circulation methods based on subscription and digital distribution, and to cut a long story short, my longtime writing donkey Lee Robson probably has compromising pictures of Aces Weekly publisher and proprietor David Lloyd and has used them to strongarm him into putting us in the book.

This is quite fortuitous, as Chuck Norris' lawyers are insistent that I do this instead of that graphic novel I was planning, so in a nutshell, Velicity Jones: The Devil's Breath is a 1960s-set pulp caper in the style of  Lew Grade's ITC shows, which is not even remotely the smallest niche I've produced comics within - heck, it's not even the smallest niche in UK-based spy comics with a female protagonist I've produced comics within - and will for some reason be appearing in a title that until now has featured comics royalty.
I have literally no idea how this has happened, but here we are.

If you fancy throwing a drowning man a rope, you can buy a subscription to the current volume (28) of Aces Weekly for £6.99 HERE to read on your laptop, smart tv, tablet, phone, pc, etc.  Me and Lee will be appearing in Volume 29, should you wish to support us.

Friday 14 July 2017

I'll go unlock the kids and make us all breakfast

Currently putting the finishing touches on The Declassified Chuck Norris, an unauthorised graphic novel biography of the flamboyant self-hating homosexual icon and renowned head-puncher whose contribution to the Cold War can finally be revealed across 80 full-colour pages.
When not working on my next lawsuit, however, I am watching the enjoyably terrible Prison Break.  There's a bit in one of his stage interview dvd things where Kevin Smith describes first reading the Superman Lives script and asking if they could get back the money they paid to the writer, and that kept coming back to me while watching Prison Break, as there are a lot of moments in this where I thought that it felt like the writer just threw some stuff together, called it a day and cashed his check.  It tries to be tense and clever, but it's mostly just ludicrous and lazy, with arcs sometimes petering out before never being explored again, stories changing tack for no discernible reason, and at least one character who gets on the bus because the writers have literally no idea what to do with him that won't cost them outraged viewers, but put in a nutshell, he is a black man who is screwed by US healthcare to the point his child nearly dies and he's forced into suicide.  The writers, brainwashed as they are by the demands of US television's Calvinistic disdain of any criticism of capitalism, are forced to simply make the character go away without any real resolution, despite his being a main character for the past two years of the series.  "Didn't he take two women hostage?  Don't Rico laws make him complicit in several murders and rapes?  Didn't he attempt to steal five million dollars and admit as much in front of the pregnant cop he kidnapped?" are all very good questions you can ask to your heart's content, but this show ain't answering.
Away from the horrible mistake of trying to make sense of what I as a viewer am presented with as supposedly being internal logic, season 3 didn't seem to up the game much - not unless you count the knuckle-biting levels of racist stereotyping in its depiction of South Americans as some sort of positive - while season four is so far a show that does not feature prisons or escapes from prisons, but might feature a break (in) of some sort down the line, after we get past this sort of sub-Mission Impossible caper show it seems to have become now.  I have burned through this quite quickly, and apparently there's been another season recently made after a ten year break in production, so I'll probably burn through that, too, but so far I have to say that this show is utter bunkum, though it's nice seeing Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell (both of whom I only know from the DCTVU shows like The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow) doing something other than pantomime camp.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Look in the mirror, man - you're good looking, but you COULD be beautiful

Hey youse guys I have a totally good excuse for not updating the blog these last few weeks, and it's not the obvious reasons you're thinking of - I'm lazy, have a drinking problem, and finally twigged that no-one is reading it anyway - I have been actual for-reals busy on a thing.  For someone
That you might see.  Sometime.
No it's not anything that will see print - it makes me happy and sad that you have more faith in me than I do - and nor have I been fortunate to sucker someone into letting me contribute concept art to their movie again, but nearer the time, assuming there isn't some catastrophe that prevents it coming to pass, I will Let You Know that The Thing has officially Happened.  In the meantime, it's nearly the anniversary of me putting the first bits of North online here on the blog under the assumption that it would later be useful to have previously-aired material to use as an archive when I finally figured out the technobabble necessary to put my own webcomic site together to run the rest of the strip (long story short: I never got enough money in my Paypal account to pay for the site because no-one on eBay wants to buy PS2 games or titty comics - which are literally all I have in my home that I can't eat, and don't think I haven't tried), but I should probably pull the trigger on more of that or just abandon it like I did Frank.  Anyway, come July, I guess we'll see if I follow up on that threat and start spamming your feed on a daily basis again.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Maybe you haven't noticed, but it isn't exactly raining black women around here

 This is a very short review, but Sausage Party is a really great film.
I mean, I guess it must be, but I tapped out during the opening musical number where the German sausages show up and say they're going to "kill all the Jews" because there was no possible way the film could top a really funny and well-constructed joke like this, so I owed it to the people who made the film to remember it at its best.  Yes, that's probably it.
Plus I pulled a muscle in my side, you guys, and if I laugh too much it really hurts, I just couldn't take that risk.

Thursday 11 May 2017

I miss the days when you could just walk outside and your biggest fear was getting stabbed in the neck

Someone somewhere is masturbating at the plight of assault victims on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and I mention this not as a scenario that is playing out solely because of statistical inevitability, but because our popular culture has evolved to the point that we put rape front and center as the main attraction in our entertainment, and everything is a fetish to someone so we must assume the grimly inevitable truth that for a (currently) small number of people, SVU is a masturbatory aid.
Shows like Charlie's Angels and Hawaii Five-0 with their impossibly glamorous assault survivors are but the harbingers of what is to come, and speaking of grim inevitability, here's my opinions on a WWE movie: The Condemned, a film about 10 convicts forced to fight each other to the death in front of a live audience.

Trust me, this rambling and potentially triggering opening kind of connects with the broad theme of the review, though I probably lack the skill to integrate everything into a coherent narrative, so hopefully drawing attention to that like I'm doing now will allow me to pass it off as self-awarenes rather than poor writing.
By objective standards, The Condemned is a rote straight-to-rental b-movie action flick which has a central bread-and-circuses commentary hinging upon the potential excesses that will result from the inevitable escalation of shock and awe programming, but what makes it interesting is that it is co-financed by WWE Films and stars "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, a wife-beating drug addict whose career was built upon his constantly upping the ante in a violent televised carny act for children.  That shareholders of WWE Films could make a movie about the destabilising influence upon society of violent televised entertainment created by greedy corporate sociopaths is a frightening enough symmetry even before you get to the fact that one of that small cadre - Linda McMahon - would later go on to be handed a job in the Presidential cabinet of Donald Trump (née Drumph) for which she was unqualified and in a position to wreak terrible harm upon the country - she even has an avatar within the film whose final words to the audience are devoid of any pretense of a fourth wall or nuance of language as she looks directly into the camera and declares that any society which victimises its most vulnerable members is truly condemned.
What's that?  You think that's not very subtle?  Yes, well, perhaps you have a point that this B-movie whose plot is recycled from multiple B and Z-movie sources and which stars Vinnie Jones as ahahaha - I nearly wrote "stars Vinnie Jones as a primary antagonist" but talk about redundant qualification: IT STARS VINNIE JONES - and geez I don't know what to tell you, guys, this was never going to be subtle - and was always highly unlikely to be objectively good - I'm just more surprised that it's moral.  Traditionally with b-movie schlock like this, there's a tacit agreement between film and audience that one won't bother the other too much about the details but The Condemned is really, really earnest about you understanding that even though you are deliberately watching people who "deserve it" get mown down for your entertainment, violence is really bad and even society's wretched dregs have a right to some form of - holy shit - dignity.
The condemned convicts start out as one-note antagonists for the unlikable and violent lead, but over time, tiny flecks of humanity show through, with the only healthy and loving relationship being that of a male and female convict, their counterparts behind the cameras in "normal" society portrayed as the usual array of stereotypical misanthropes who believe rudeness to be synonymous with wit.  The primary physical antagonist of the film revealing a history of sexual abuse that he has knowingly perpetuated is a leftfield reveal that is either a twist of the knife if you like the idea of him suffering for his transgressions by any means, or it robs his eventual comeuppance of the cheap emotional release that these kinds of films thrive upon in its suggestion that precisely the kind of entertainment you are currently watching has contributed to the violent downward spiral of lives that it portrays.

Well, that whole review thing didn't come together as well as I hoped it would.  We can take some small solace from the fact that I don't get paid for this and I'm dreadfully ill at the moment so this is as painful a chore for me to write as it has been for you to read.
I could have watched The Year Of The Sex Olympics instead of this.  That probably tells you a lot about me.

Friday 5 May 2017

Well, if there's not gonna be any guys here I'm gonna go smoke a jay and do my jigsaw

My HOT TAKE on The Handmaid's Tale is less "Well I love dystopian sci-fi so this is a no-brainer" and more "oh fuck not more misery porn".  A whole series of this?  Really?
I don't know why live-action misery porn gets me down so much.  I mean, the removal of a protagonist's agency is storytelling 101, and was more or less the foundation of every comic story published in the UK during the 1960s-1980s period that I personally love a great deal, so what sets this television series apart from something appearing in the likes of Misty or Jinty?  I mean, obviously there are stylistic differences in the dystopias envisaged by comics creators in the 1970s and those working in the television industry of the late 2010s, but if I had to guess... yeah, it's probably the rape.  Once again it's rape o'clock on tv just to let you know how gnarly and For The Realz the story is and I don't know - this is just so tiring.  And I say that as someone who has had the good fortune to have been born comfortable in the gender which doesn't get to be pelted with depictions of weaponised sexual assault upon it like every day.
Well, whatever.  As a card-carrying owner of a functioning penis, perhaps I just don't understand the appeal of watching dramas that explore what would happen if one of my greatest fears was something turned into a non-consensual ritual by Donald Trump's administration, but Lady types on that there internet seem to be lapping this horrible nightmare up, so I'm willing to just let this one go as I don't feel intellectually equipped to tackle this bizarre crossroads of love and hate for the subject matter.  Fuckin America - what is up with you lately?

Friday 21 April 2017

we thought the DJ was just getting it started but it turns out the roof really was on fire

I'm using this old blog page which used to host my impression of 13 Reasons Why (capsule version of my review: I am no longer under 20 years old so I don't get it) as a portfolio showcase, so the contents will change over time, and hopefully I can figure out how to rearrange the layout of the pages so it's not just a long vertical line of single images.  Blogger do not make this easy for ham-fisted simpletons like myself.

Anyway, there should be a good mix of stuff I've done, and I'll even throw in some stuff I don't think is even remotely my best, but does at least show that I will try anything.  If I've used any work we collaborated on together and you'd rather it wasn't shown in public, just let me know and I'll be happy to remove it - plenty more where that came from.