Tuesday, 3 March 2015

All the Doctors, All the Masters

In 2013 the BBC released this image as part of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebrations.

They have yet to update it with Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor, and they have yet to do a similar image for The Masters. I got tired of waiting and made one myself.

If you're wondering why Julius from the Thick of It is in there, it's because Alex MacQueen plays The Master opposite Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor in Big Finish's Dark Eyes series, and he's bloody brilliant. Since McGann name dropped his Big Finish companions in Night of the Doctor (including Molly O'Sullivan, his companion in Dark Eyes) we know that Big Finish is canon, so MacQueen totally counts. 

So there.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Fantastic Four Trailer: My Reaction

I'm a pretty huge Fantastic Four fan....

Decades worth of  FF comics looking surprisingly small when piled together.


As a result I've been looking forward to the new Fantastic Four film in a very big way. A lot of fans seemed to have written the film off already for the usual reasons: "These plot fragments that are emerging with no context sound slightly different to the comic!" etc. There's also been some bloody daft moaning about Michael B. Jordan playing Johnny Storm. (Needless to say, Johnny Storm is hot-headed, impulsive, vain, loyal, heroic and enjoys fast cars and teasing the Thing, and being portrayed by a black actor doesn't change any of these traits.)

Despite the barrage of online negativity I've remained optimistic, and after seeing the trailer today my optimism has turned to full blown excitement. Here's a few things that excited me about the trailer....

1. The Stars!

A few seconds into the trailer and we've already flown over literal "new horizons" and turned our gaze up towards the stars. This film is looking in the right direction.

2. L'il Reed & Ben!

Is this Reed as a kid, trying out some dangerous experiment while a young Ben Grimm looks on? It would seem likely. Ok, so they were best friends from college onward in the comic, but I have no problem with that being extended back to childhood. As long as Reed & Ben are best friends, that's the important thing, and it's looking like that's what we'll see in this film.

3. Reed is passionate about science and discovery!

This bit conveys that beautifully. He looks utterly content and at home surrounded by this complex machinery.

4. Johnny's fixing up a fast car!

Just this one small thing, that harks back to the character's first appearance, is enough to convey that yes, this guy IS Johnny Storm!

5. Astronauts!

Ok, so it doesn't look like a space mission (hope it's something to do with the Negative Zone though) but nevertheless they've certainly got "the right stuff". Four friends risking their life to brave the unknown. (Or in this case, five. I imagine that's Doom with them.)

6. A Thing egg?

Is this Ben's transformation? It looks awesome! To paraphrase '80s Fantastic Four writer/artist John Byrne, the Thing is not Fozzie Bear, he's a monster. He should look like a monster. It sucks being the Thing, that's why he's such a likeable but tragic character. Whatever's going on here looks weird and creepy and monstrous, and that's good.

7. New Frontiers!

Not much to go on here, it could just be a volcano, but is this the Negative Zone? If it is, will we see Annihilus? Hope so!

8. Reed & Vic

Looks like Reed and Victor Von Doom have some kind of bond here. This bodes well. The great thing about Reed & Doom is that they could both so easily become the other. Without his family Reed is pretty much one bad day from becoming Doctor Doom and there have been occasional flashes of nobility from Doom over the years, in between all the evil. Doom seems to be warning Reed here, or he could almost be advising him. Reed and Doom should always be enemies, but at the same time they should also be a bit too close to each other for comfort.

9. A family braving the unknown together!

Not only does this bit look cool, but it also raises some interesting questions. Is this the Negative Zone? Is that a plane in that big shaft of light? Is the Thing not wearing any pants?

Ok, so I could have done with a bit more Sue, bit all in all, this trailer looks great. Judging from the characters' youth, the set up of their power-granting experiment, the presence of Doom and what looks like Johnny & Sue's father at the experiment, and the possible involvement of the Negative Zone, this looks like it's based heavily on Ultimate Fantastic Four. This is fine with me as I really like those comics, especially the Warren Ellis stuff.

Obviously this film isn't going to be to everybody's tastes, and yes, it could still be rubbish, but there's one comment that's kept popping up online today that really, really irks me, so I figured I'd finish this article by disputing it. It's the wrongest thing that's ever been said about the Fantastic Four, and everybody seems to be saying it.

Let's get something straight. The Incredibles is not "Fantastic Four done right". In fact, beyond a few superficial similarities, the Incredibles are nothing like the Fantastic Four.

They're both a family. They both have members who are strong, who can turn invisible, and who can stretch. THAT'S IT!!!

The Fantastic Four is a comic about an occasionally dysfunctional family of sci-fi explorers and adventurers who do what they do because of their love of adventure, their thirst for discovery, and their loyalty to each other. The Incredibles is an animated film about a family of superheroes who go into hiding because of the public's fear and distrust of them and find themselves struggling to deal with anonymity and a "normal" life. It is entertaining enough but, as my pal Madeley has observed many times, it is also a staggeringly right wing, Randian wank-fantasy where superior beings triumph over us ordinary slobs and our attempts to drag them down to our puny level. "If everybody's special, nobody is" etc. And, hey, if that's your politics, more power to ya, but it's not, in any way "the Fantastic Four done right."

This new film however, certainly looks like it might be!


Thursday, 25 December 2014

Have a WONDERful Christmas!!!

My girlfriend got me the first five collections of Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang's Wonder Woman (the sixth & final book is out in a few months) so my Xmas has been full of warring gods and headless horses this year. Perfect!

Merry Christmas internet pals! Hope you've had a great year. xxxxx

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Norm Breyfogle Medical Stroke Fund

Over the past 75 years many great artists have drawn Batman, but none have been greater (in my opinion) than Norm Breyfogle. Unfortunately Breyfogle has recently suffered a stroke. His family have set up a fundraising page for his medical bills. If you've ever enjoyed his work, please consider donating something.


For those unfamiliar with his work, Breyfogle drew Batman comics from 1987 to 1993. Along with writer Alan Grant he co-created many memorable characters, including The Ventriloquist, Zsasz and Anarky and drew the first in-costume appearance of Tim Drake, the third Robin. As far as I'm concerned he is the best Batman artist ever. Better than Bob Kane, Dick Sprang, Jim Aparo, Neal Adams or Frank Quitely. That's seventy five years of artists and in my opinion he is the best one of the whole damn lot.

Breyfogle has an amazing knack for drawing any kind of Batman the story requires. He can draw a Batman flushed with pride at his new Robin, a Batman reflecting in quiet sadness at the plight of homeless children or a Batman pumped full of Scarecrow fear toxins and crapping his pants, all within pages of each other. One of the things that I feel sums up Breyfogle's versatility as an artist is the way he draws Batman's utility belt. Now this may seem like a minor detail but when I first encountered Breyfogle's work as a child it was the first time I had ever seen Batman's belt drawn as if it could conceivably hold Batman's entire arsenal. It's bright yellow and chunky with capsules and pouches hanging off it, a proper superhero gadget belt. And yet in the very next panel the belt is only barely glimpsed as Batman fades into the shadows and the gadget loving superhero becomes a dark creature of the night. I could write pages and pages of lengthy prose describing Breyfogle's greatness but I'll just let his work speak for itself.

For those who've never known the delights of Breyfogle's Batman see if you can find the following back issues.

John Wagner, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle’s run on Detective Comics (1988-1990)
(Detective Comics #583-594; 601-621)

The iconic run in which Breyfogle, along with writers Alan Grant and John Wagner created a vast array of villains that straddled the line between the ridiculous and the terrifying, including The Corrosive Man, The Ventriloquist and Scarface, The Ratcatcher, Anarky, The Obeah Man and Cornelius Stirk. They were also equally adept at handling established villains. One memorable story involved a team comprised of every version of Clayface while another involved Batman teaming up with and then battling Jack Kirby’s Demon.

Batman #455-457

Tim Drake saves Batman's ass from the Scarecrow and then debuts his new costume.

Shadow of the Bat #1-4 

Grant and Breyfogle take inspiration from Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum and give us the first appearances of Jeremiah Arkham and Zsasz.

Batman: Holy Terror

A chilling Elseworld tale in which Batman exists in an America governed by an evil theocracy.

I've never met the man, but I'm such a fan of his work I wanted to draw some attention to this cause. I hope he recovers quickly and that he and his family are okay.



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