Posted in Comics n Stuff, Films

Defending the DCEU Part 2 – Batman vs Superman – Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition

After the flawed but promising start of Man of Steel, Zack Snyder followed it up with Batman vs Superman in an attempt to jump-start a MCU style shared universe. It.. didn’t work out like that.

Starring Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck as Superman and Batman 🦇 respectively with supporting roles by Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg and Gal Gadot as Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman and is a film bristling with ambition.

The plot is that in the wake of the Kryptonian attack, the world doesn’t really know what to do with Superman. Many fear what he can do and just as many see him as the symbol of hope he can be and he is equally bereft as his rescue of Lois (now his girlfriend) has become this juggernaut of unforeseen consequences. This is both helped and complicated by Lex Luthor who sees Superman as another in a line of abusive authority/father figures and an aging Batman who recognises the threat that Kryptonians pose and can only see Superman as something to get rid of, unable to see the man in the Superman.

Herein lies the films big problem. Its not the different version of Lex Luthor played her as a scares little boy version of Mark Zuckerberg, or ‘Batfleck’ being not what the fan boys wanted. These are interpretations that for the most part work. No, the biggest problem is that this film doesn’t get Superman. They play the isolation of this strange visitor and how people have their doubts about him well enough. But at heart Superman is a well meaning guy who doe the right thing because it’s the right thing and that is oddly missing from this film. It suffers an oft encountered problem with the character which in an inability to find the core idea of humanity’s big brother who wants everyone to be okay and doesn’t need to elevate himself. Whenever you see him silently floating overhead you are missing the point of him and that shot happens a lot.

But this is not Denouncing the DCEU, so I need to point out the positives. The film’s reliance on talking head clips is actually a useful narrative device to show how the world is reacting to Superman and quite a lot of it rings true. Amy Adams gives a degree of weight to the often unlikeable character of Lois Lane without trying to make her more likeable. She’s hardnosed and determined and these are shown as reasons to respect her rather than reasons to like her. It’s the most believable iteration of Lois I can think of, this is a successful reporter for a reason. The visuals are also quite striking, this version of Superman doesn’t hold true but it is beautifully rendered. There’s also a lot of moments that work, Clark Kent investigating the Batman is an interesting look into the Superman movies we could have gotten, his crusading journalist mode being a real person rather than a disguise and Cavill pulls it off, without pulling off the playing different characters thing. Also the scene were Lois has a gun to her head and is scared for her life, becoming calm and relaxed as soon as Superman shows up. This added to the very well executed action set-pieces (including Batfleck’s star turn in the warehouse scene) make this an exciting and engaging film to watch, despite the bum-numbing 3 hours run time (seriously had to split this over 3 nights so that SuperSam could watch it with me) and at time bizarre plot points.

As part of the attempt to do a Marvel, this film includes introductions to Aquaman, Cyborg, Flash and Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman herself appears periodically throughout the first two hours before arriving in the 3rd act to just walk away with the rest of the film as a woman who doesn’t seek to fight, but enjoys the hell out of it when it arrives. Gal Gadot’s smile as she is knocked on her ass is a joy to behold and her blasé remark of “I’ve killed things from another world before.” just shows how overqualified she was as a guest star in this film. Something that can also be said of Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth who is the best live action version of this character I’ve seen to date.

So yes, this film fails to accurately capture the spirit of the title character(s) and fails in it’s goal of launching a successful and coherent shared film universe and this ultimate edition is long. All of these are true and fair criticisms of this film, but it’s well put together, has stakes and ultimate is fun, even when it’s taking itself far to seriously.

It’s a solid 3/5 with some of the wrong lessons learned from Man of Steel, but I was glad to have watched it and am more committed to doing this rewatch than before.

Next Time: Wonder Woman

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Posted in TV Stuff

Calling for a Doctor: William Hartnell part 2 of 2

This week I have finished my watching of the first Doctor’s DVD releases. Excepting stories with missing episodes or even completely missing stories I have finished watching this entire character’s journey and I have thoughts.

The series very much falls into three distinct phases which mostly coincides with the different seasons, each showing either different sides of the Doctor, or differing styles in direction and production.

Season 1

Stories : An Unearthly Child, The Daleks, Edge of Destruction, The Keys of Marinus, The Aztecs, The Sensorites and The Reign of Terror.

Starting with the Unearthly Child, this season was about two unwelcome travellers trapped in the time/space ship of a strange and unfriendly soul who didn’t want them there. The heroes of the story were often the teachers Ian Chesterton & Barbara Wright who were teaching Susan Foreman and tried to investigate her living situation. Then they travel to prehistoric Earth, far future Skaro, the hostile planet Marinus, pre-columbian South America, another alien planet and revolutionary era France. This is not what you think of as Doctor Who, despite most of the perennial elements of Who being there. We have the companions pulled from their regular life, we have the Doctor and his blue box. But here the Doctor is not particularly heroic, to the extent that he considers killing his prisoner to give him and his granddaughter time to get back to his Tardis. Often it’s Ian Chesterton being the hero and dragging the Doctor into it, often quite reluctantly. Most of this season’s plot is the vain attempt to return Ian and Barbara to their original time in the 1960s. By the time the season comes to an end in the French Revolution, this is now more of a ‘traditional’ Doctor Who programme and the formula for how this show could be done is established.

High points include the first episode of An Unearthly Child, the Daleks and the Keys of Marius, which showcases the versatility of the show and the cast by being several mini-stories in service to a larger arc.

Season 2: Planet of Giants, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Rescue, The Romans, The Web Planet, The Space Museum, The Chase, and The Time Meddler.

This is the for me William Hartnell’s best season, It is also the season that shows more variety in story type, length and even tone. We get a return of the Daleks to the show, but an earlier version of the Daleks who are still trying to conquer the galaxy. We get a look at the Earth’s bleak future and the first loss in the cast. We say goodbye to Susan who remains on Earth in 2150 to help rebuild. Then we get Vicky, who is a girl from the further future who the crew rescue from an alien world and reinforces the Doctor’s paternal and nurturing side as he pretty much adopts this teenage girl. We get a comedy story with the Romans as the Tardis crashlands in Nero’s Rome and the crew decide to take a month off. We then get kidnapping, slavery, political assassination and the burning of Rome. After that the Tardis leaves again and we get a couple of more spacey stories before we get the Chase. I think the Chase cements the Daleks as the arch-enemy of the Doctor and ups their threat as they crack time travel and are able to go after the Doctor, no matter where he goes. The Chase has it’s ups, downs and comedy moments before we get to say goodbye to Ian and Barbara who use the Daleks’ time machine to go back to Earth. They miss by a couple of years, landing in 1965, but since they’d been on the show for 2 years, that sort of makes sense. They destroy the Dalek’s time machine and go back to the regular lives, but the story also introduces Steven Taylor, a space pilot who survived alone on an alien world for years and accidentally hitches a ride on the Tardis. The Time Meddler then pits these three relative strangers against the Monk, who is a member of the same race as the Doctor, proved by his owning his own Tardis and trying to alter things as he sees it, not putting things right, but accelerating the development of Great Britain’s history. The Doctor defeats him and we get to see how different a person with the Doctor’s talent and equipment could be. The season ends on a high and to be honest, all of these stories (with the possible exception of the Web Planet) are highlights in my eyes and it solidified that this rewatch was a good idea and encouraged me to carry on with it.

Season 3: Galaxy 4, Mission to the Unknown, The Ark, The Gunfighters, The War Machines and the Tenth Planet.

If season two was the zenith, then 3 is the nadir. Galaxy 4 is an interesting idea that suffers from being reconstructed and very poorly paced making the whole thing a bit boring. Mission to the Unknown did not involve the main cast as was a set up to a story that isn’t all there, the big problem with season 3 is the sheer number of missing stories and the version of Mission to the Unknown I watched was a reconstruction by some University students uploaded to YouTube. The Ark is a good idea that struggles to keep it’s pacing on point and in a missing story we have lost Vicky to ancient Troy and now have Dodo Chaplet a teen girl from the mid 1960’s who is a bit of a shot in the arm for the show as her and Steven bounce off one another well and Steven increases his bristling against the Doctor’s authority. Behind the scenes, things weren’t going well, the who production staff had changed and William Hartnell’s health had begun to decline and whilst he was often difficult, now he was struggling to maintain the schedule and remember his lines. More and more the companions had to do more of the heavy lifting and relegate the Doctor to second fiddle in his own show, which made the actor more irascible. After the amusing Gunfighters, Steven left the show and halfway through the War Machines, so did Dodo, who never really fulfilled the promise she showed in the Ark. The team would try again to inject youth and more of it’s time characters with Ben and Polly who started in the War Machines and left with the Doctor for his final adventure.

The Tenth Planet was memorable for two important reasons, one was the introduction of the Cybermen who did the whole dehumanising cyborg thing 20+ years before Star Trek gave us the Borg. As bargain basement as they looked, they were a body horror delightad in what they represented, a humanity devoid of everything we think of as humanity and only interested in consumption and survival. There’s a reason that they have survived each iteration of the Doctor. The other reason it’s important is that it’s where Hartnell left the show. Health and personal issues were wreaking havoc with the show and it could survive as long as someone else took the starring role. Being an alien, they could just come up with a reason to change the actor, which they did. The Doctor’s body wore out and it changed into the new guy, same name new face, well new everything.

Patrick Troughton came in and he had big shoes to fill and a lot of work to do, but the character and the show had regenerated and possibly the best was yet to come.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Films

Defending the DCEU – Part 1: Man of Steel

I have decided internet people that 2023 is the year I start being positive. Instead of constantly looking at a half empty glass, I will try to view things from a more rose-tinted lens. This came into severe focus yesterday morning as my son SuperSam was failing to find his school tie. Whilst it’s disappearance (and later discovery) brought up some issues to discuss later as a family, I tried to cool him down from getting in a flap with the following 3 questions.

1: But did you die?

2: Was anyone severely hurt?

3: Did you s**t your pants?

Since all three was a no, it wasn’t worth getting so upset.

Now that’s easier said than done, but it showed me that I could look at things in a different way than I used to and that became even clearer when the other night we started watching 2013’s Man of Steel.

Now I have been less than kind to DC’s movie output over the last decade or so as they’ve tried to replicate the success of Disney’s multi-media powerhouse franchise the MCU. Sadly DC haven’t done the work that Marvel did for the first 4 years of it’s existence and so it’s been a series of mixed bags, rather than a shared movie universe full of interconnectivity and multi-layered storytelling.

So lets ignore than comparison, let’s leave the MCU juggernaut to one side and look at DC’s efforts as their own thing. Are the films good? Do they get the spirit of the characters? I thought this is something to look at and decided to start with Man of Steel.

This film had a story by Christopher Nolan and script by David Goyer and the whole thing was directed by Zack Snyder and featured Michael Shannon as Zod, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/ Superman.

Rather than take the 1978 movie’s pattern and show the story of Superman in order, the origin of Clark’s life on Earth is given in flashback. The story opens with the destruction of Krypton and the efforts of scientific cassandra Jor-El to save his son and preserve something of his race, his world and culture. We see Clark living on the road, constantly moving as he often uses powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men to save lives. During this part of the film we also see the difficulties in his early life and how his desire to hide was informed by his father, who wanted his son to do good and be great, but recognised the flaws in this world. Eventually he learns of his origins, encounters a villain (Zod) and does everything he can to save this world that adopted him.

Now there are several complaints about the film that whilst valid are understandable and easily explained and they became clearer to me as I watched it this time. Now I’m going to spoil this ten year old film, so be warned and stuff.

The main complaints I see online and from people I know seem threefold:

1: Superman kills Zod. Now for me this was an easy thing to accept. The version of Superman I am most fond of and familiar with is the Post Crisis/John Byrne version. There was a famous story where he had to execute Zod and two other Kryptonians to prevent further atrocities and genocides from just these three. This messes him up for years of stories to come and the audience learns why he has such a code against killing.

2: The massive amount of damage and body count that the Kryptonians cause. Again, this makes sense, when you have a big budget film you need big budget stakes and consequences. These are people with years of combat experience up against a guy raised as a farmhand during his first day fighting anyone. Honestly, I think he did okay.

3: The take on the character and story. Now this is two separate things. Yes the film does have a dour and grim tone. The fear that permeates it does go against the cheerfulness and optimism that the character is based on. Maybe its the times we live in and fear and suspicion would be a much stronger element in this story that it would have been in what we often think of as ‘simpler’ times. That is true. This is a valid and completely understandable criticism. But then we look at the character of Superman himself. He’s a guy who instinctively does the right thing as he is travelling the world trying to stay under the radar. When he learns about his past it’s a lovely moment. He also has a fun and loving relationship with his mother and he puts his faith in humanity in the hopes that it will work out. I mean it doesn’t, they throw him under the bus almost immediately. But he still does the right thing. Trying to keep everyone out of the line of fire, saving lives and when the 3rd act kicks off, he tries to save the world, despite the high level of risk to him. The fact that where he needs to be will drain him of his strength, putting him at risk of death is pointed out to him and his response is simply “I can’t let that stop me trying.” Well at that point, Superman was in the film. His battle with Zod is skill versus determination as the stronger and more skilled fighter is held at bay by a man fighting for the world that has adopted him.

The film ends with a bit of a standoff between Superman and the US Army and establishing the identity of Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter. This is a springboard for a more traditional Superman franchise that acknowledges we don’t live in 1978 anymore but this is a very recognisable Superman. No matter what people think of what happened next, this was a solid story that was let down by some stylistic choices and an uneven tone.

I genuinely enjoyed this film and it’s worth a bit of a reappraisal.

Next Time: Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice – the extended edition.

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

2022 What a s**tshow – Finale

To describe this year as challenging would be something of an understatement to the level of calling the grand canyon a bit of a ditch. I have come close to cracking more than once and joy and calm have been things that were seldom found. That said, I am trying to look at things in a more positive light and can look back at the year with a more cheerful disposition and look at the good things that 2022 have brought.

So it has been a strange and emotional year, so much of it tied to the house and our continuing drama regarding the living situation. I’ve spent my life so far living in other people’s homes, from my parents’ house to being a tenant and for the longest time that was okay, but a few years ago when our landlord passed away suddenly and all of the certainties and plans that we had disappeared. We had to start looking for a more permanent solution, which we couldn’t really get started on until we knew what was happening with what we had thought of as home. It was a stark reminder that although it was our home, it was not our house.

This has been a hard thing. Not knowing for the first time where I would be living in 6 months and maybe having to say goodbye to the only home that my son remembers was a hard thing. It took a toll on our lives on several levels almost to breaking point in some places. But this year was were it all changed. I write this at my new desk in a new room in a new house. In front of me is my collectibles and stuff to my back and left is a display case with mdidore stuff in it. Things have worked out.

For the entirety of 2022 I have worked in a Gisele free office. My old manager made much of my working life miserable and it’s only been this year that her impact on the job has faded away. Now I am part of a 5 man team with me, Disney Princess and Lil Jem under Posh Spice (I didn’t give him that nickname) and Donna and this has been the easiest December in work in a very long time. I have had problems, but these have mostly been overlap from home stuff. As soon as we closed on the house, things got better. We may be a 4 person team next year for a while after we got the news that Disney Princess is expecting, but knowing how things are now, we will cope and I can only wish her well.

Another great positive was SuperSam. As his final jnr school year came to an end, it was more clear that he needed out of there. Problems with bullying, balls ups from every non teaching part of the school and some friction with his teacher for that year we were glad it was his last one. We learned in spring that he got into a school nearby which does focus on sport and science. Given his love of science and being active this was not unwelcome news and we were only more impressed with the open day and the couple of testing days he did over the summer. With clear anti-bullying procedures and a higher degree of communication it was somewhere we were glad for him to go. Then came the scary part of his going to school alone. With google maps and a couple of test runs we had the logistics sorted, but the parents among you internet people can attest to how that doesn’t blunt the fear in any way and for the non-parents, well you wouldn’t understand anymore that I would have in my 20s and that’s okay. But precautions were taken and off he went into the next great adventure.

We needn’t have worried. He has thrived with this new semi-autonomy. And in the first month in this new school, he had more good days that he had in the previous school year. Its a bittersweet thing watching him group up so much, he’s gone from the little boy who needed you for everything to being able to go to school alone, come back alone, wash dishes, iron his uniform and at times cook a simple meal or two. I miss being needed so much, but as so proud that I’m not. It’s not been perfect, but I am so proud of him. So being a dad this year has been a tremendous positive.

Am also on my diet thing, as well as having lost nearly 40lbs in weight (wow that sounds impressive when you put it like that) I have also lost 4litres of visceral fat from my internal organs. That’s the same as two big bottles of fizzy drinks. I have dropped a shoe size, a shirt size and depending on the pants I wear two sizes in trousers. I am a 36″ waist for the first time since I was 36 years old. The battle isn’t won, but I have less of a belly than in years and feel better about myself because of that.

The last three years has been an exercise in surviving. But since the end of October its become about living again. I am hoping to be doing more writing, although what form that takes is as yet unclear, maybe it’ll be here, maybe the book I’ve been working on since…… yeah that’s been a long time. It’s time to use this fresh start and enjoy things again. The feeling of working together on the house, talking more, having fun together and such is what we went on holiday to enhance and it seems that this is all possible here. We even have a hot tub again. Maybe we should have moved years ago, but it felt like giving up on our home and we’re not people who do that. I drilled into my son the idea that the only time you fail, I mean the only time is when you give up. Every thing else is a setback. But we needed to fight for something other than bricks and mortar. Home is the people in your life, not the four walls they inhabit with you.

So this year has been something of a fresh start and a launchpad for betters years ahead. I get to leave a house with my name on it every day, pass several trees and go this is mine. I don’t know what the future holds, but honestly I’m optimistic. Wow, am optimistic, when did that start happening?

So 2022 what a s**tshow may not be accurate. Maybe it’s more we turned it around. I am wishing for a better year this year, not because I can’t do another year like the previous, but because I genuinely thing this will be better.

Come on 2023, lets see what fun we can get up to.

See you soon internet people, be good to yourselves, so you can be good to eachother.

Posted in Miscellaneous, TV Stuff

2022 What a s**tshow – Part 3

To describe this year as challenging would be something of an understatement to the level of calling the grand canyon a bit of a ditch. I have come close to cracking more than once and joy and calm have been things that were seldom found. That said, I am trying to look at things in a more positive light and can look back at the year with a more cheerful disposition and look at the good things that 2022 have brought.

Sandman

I have enjoyed this year the audio adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s famous Sandman comics, in fact I have been listening to the 3rd volume this week. However I was even more pleased to see it come to television as well. Well cast and well realised this was faithful enough to the comic, but different enough to justify it’s existence as its own thing. Mostly telling the first half dozen stories as one thing it tells the story of Dream, one of the Endless entities (including personifications of Desire, Delirium, Destiny, Despair and Death) who is held captive for over 100 years and must free himself and reclaim both his post as lord of the Dreaming and his power. It’s not light by any stretch of the imagination and the themes and events are for the adults in the audience, but it’s well worth trying.

Wednesday

This was suggested by the MIGHTY Rosie and I will be honest, I wasn’t keen to try and yet we did. This was so much fun. Moments of drama, humour and horror blended so well that you laughed and took a breath several times without the tone being disjointed. The cast was perfect and the story kept you guessing and had a couple of red herrings that made you suspect how it would play out, but still managed to surprise you. It was fun and for the most part the whole family could enjoy it.

Book of Boba Fett

This was at first a hard sit. It was slow and ponderous with an over-reliance on flashbacks to give the story shape. I mean the cast was good, no one is questioning that, but I’m not too sure that this was a story dying to be told and it looks like the makers of the show realised it too because the last two episodes seemed to change from being the 1st series of Book of Boba Fett and became the 3rd series of Mandalorian. At that point, the series became more action packed and above all fun, It’s a hard sit for the 1st 4 or 5, but it does end with a bang. I don’t know if all of these Star Wars shows aren’t a waste of time, but at least this was fun.

Spriggan

I read Spriggan stories years ago as part of some Manga anthology years ago. This was high concept sci-fi stuff with modern man finding artefacts from a pre-historic era that ended with mass destruction. The only message from this older time was a warning to not make the same mistakes again. A group called ARCAM use enhanced operatives to find and hide away these things that have the capacity to destroy the world.

Doctor Who

As part of SuperSam’s cultural education, myself and the MIGHTY Rosie have introduced him to the post reboot Doctor Who and over the last week or two have finished watching the first season, bringing and end to the Christopher Eccleston run and in the new year we will start with David Tennant’s tenure (the MIGHTY Rosie’s favourite) and hope to talk more about that as we go along.

In closing TV has been pretty solid this year, but not too much in newly produced stuff I must admit as looking back at TV we enjoyed before, or watching older stuff that we didn’t see at the time seem to be how things are going forward, but still there was some good stuff there.

Next Time: But what about everything else?

Posted in Miscellaneous

2022 – What a s**tshow – Part 2

To describe this year as challenging would be something of an understatement to the level of calling the grand canyon a bit of a ditch. I have come close to cracking more than once and joy and calm have been things that were seldom found. That said, I am trying to look at things in a more positive light and can look back at the year with a more cheerful disposition and look at the good things that 2022 have brought.

The Batman

I will be honest, I was somewhat surprised at how good this film was. Being told that a Batman film which was near 3 hours long and featured the guys who played Gollum and the vampire from Twilight should have left me with a no thanks attitude. But after some good reviews from different people and with the knowledge that much of it was filmed here in Liverpool gave me reasons to give it a try.

Damn it’s worth a try. From the visual design of a city in decay to the brutal action sequences and the haunted a obsessive portrayal of Batman this was a really enjoyable Batman story that whilst offering very little new to the franchise was a great film in and of itself rather than a way of launching new films.

Black Adam

With this film having Hawkman and the JSA in it, there was no way I wasn’t going to see this film. I would like to say this didn’t disappoint, I still would.

The negatives here are that the JSA in this is for the most part superfluous and this seems to offer them up as a potential spin-off idea, rather than vital and essential characters. There’s an odd pacing and a mix of tone and there’s a lot of padding in the last third that could’ve been removed.

The positives are that we got to see a Hawkman, Pierce Brosnan is amazing as Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate and despite what was expected, Dwayne Johnson pulled off a more serious performance as the grim humourless Teth Adam. He plays the anti-hero well and rather than be the film’s achilles heel as I expected, he was instead one of the strongest elements. We may not get more of this as the ongoing media drama from Warner continues, but I am glad we got to see this.

Bohemian Rhapsody

I managed to catch this on Netflix, rather than get an early night one day this month. A bio-pic about Queen, it showed the band from it’s beginnings in the 70s to Live Aid. I imagine much of this was a bit on the fictionalised side of things, but the film really rose and fell on the performance of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. From voice to looks and mannerisms, he nailed the character and breathed new life into the legend. As well as a great rags to riches cautionary tale, this film had the excellent soundtrack one would expect.

Doctor Strange & the Multiverse of Madness

I watched this as part of a MCU/Spider-movie rewatch with SuperSam and the MIGHTY Rosie as I hadn’t gone to the pictures to see this. To be honest I haven’t gone to the pictures to see a MCU film since Endgame and I honestly don’t see myself changing that anytime soon. This was fun. We had the whole multiverse thing, a resolution of Wanda’s story lots of cool visuals and concepts well realised on screen. The stand out moment for me was the Illuminati with Captain Carter and (a proper costumed) Black Bolt as well as a Monica Rambeau Captain Marvel (unpopular opinion: a better and more interesting version than Carol Danvers) Professor X and the fandom wished for John Krazinski as Reed Richards looking and playing the part so well that I had the desire to punch him the second he came on screen. It was a lot better than the Iron Man retread that was the first film. It was also nice to see Bruce Campbell again.

Thor: Love & Thunder

I have enjoyed many Thor comics over the years from the wonder of Kirby, to the epic glory of Simonson and the scope and drama of Aaron, there have been lots to love. Thor himself however, is a bit boring as a character. The first two Thor films were quite faithful to the character and despite Chris Hemsworth doing his best with what he had, the films were less than the successes the others were. Somewhere during Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hemsworth’s portrayal changed and became a lot more interesting and funny. I don’t remember where I read/heard it, but it was pointed out to me that he wasn’t playing Thor as much as he was Marvel’s Hercules. Fun-loving, a bit goofy and prone to drink his worries away he became more relatable a character and allowed more humour to come into the story and we all benefitted from that and a new director in the form of Taika Waititi. This more humorous tone was thrust into Thor: Love and Thunder and it ….worked?

The action scenes were good, the overall story seemed to work and the concept of heroes rather than gods was handled well, but at times I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be a comedy or not. But one thing I did like the most about it was that it was a nice line under Thor. If they did nothing else with him it was a strong finish. He went from overly serious an irresponsible to a strong and responsible hero who didn’t take himself so seriously. I would probably watch another Thor film, but honestly if they left it here, they did a great job.

So that was my year in films, a couple of cinema visits and some streaming releases and more and more it looks like quality over quantity.

Next Time: TV

Posted in TV Stuff

Calling for a Doctor: Christopher Eccleston

Whilst as a personal project, I have been watching Doctor Who from the beginning and am currently on the home strait for William Hartnell, as a family I, the MIGHTY Rosie and SuperSam have started watching NuWho from it’s first episode Rose which first aired in 2005.

This was something of a risk in the TV landscape of 2005, Sci-fi on TV was not at it’s height and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still a few years off, so this had to be something of a passion project or the showrunner Russell T Davies. He brought it back, but had to do things a little different.

The first thing he did was with the writing push the companion more into a starring role. Instead of the old exposition prompt and damsel in distress he made the companions more like friends who were being shown cool stuff rather than the props that some of them had been,

He also changed the aesthetic, gone was the victorian dressing and posh Doctor who tried to avoid any trace of accent. In it’s place was Eccleston sounded like a northerner because he was. They even hung a lantern on it with the exchange “If you’re an alien,, howcome you sound like you’re from the north.” “Lots of planets have a north.”

With that fresh take, we got more fun and more humanity to this alien wanderer. Eccleston’s Doctor was the last of his kind, lone survivor a war across time. The Last Great Time War. He is haunted, angry and in need of something or someone to bring him out of it. Then came Rose who was looking to escape her life of shopwork, chips and her safe relationship. Two people who needed one another and who were both equally changed despite the 880 year age gap. This was sort of a love story and the story of redemption.

Despite only getting 13 episodes, you saw this Doctor go from dismissive and angry to caring and actually quite sweet. He gives up his chance to escape his most feared and hated enemy to save Rose and gives up his chance at vengeance to save the population of a future Earth. In the end he finds peace and then is glad to become someone else because of this human.

I don’t know if he is ‘my doctor’ or if I even have one, but he brought Doctor Who back to where it had been 20 years earlier which was must see TV. He brought the madman in the blue box back and restarted his hearts. My son was enthralled by the series and was sad when the Doctor ‘died’ after the words “You were fantastic and you know what, so was I.” Yes you were Chris.

Without this Doctor, we wouldn’t have the Doctor back and the new start it gave the next guy wouldn’t be there. Building on that, the best was yet to come.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Miscellaneous

2022 – What a s**tshow – Part 1

To describe this year as challenging would be something of an understatement to the level of calling the grand canyon a bit of a ditch. I have come close to cracking more than once and joy and calm have been things that were seldom found. That said, I am trying to look at things in a more positive light and can look back at the year with a more cheerful disposition and look at the good things that 2022 have brought.

I made a little challenge for myself to see how many comics I would read in 2022. This would have the benefit of showing what I was reading and pushing me to read more and enjoy more. Just scant days before the end of the year I crossed the threshold of 2,500 and my question becomes do I try and top that in 2023?

This was another year where I didn’t actually buy any new comics. Now I bought comics (how else would I feed the addiction) but none of those comics were ones that were produced in 2022. So in a section that is about the new comics I read in a year, what do I put in this post?

Milestone

I missed out on Milestone when it launched as a DC imprint in the 90’s. I recently read the first trades of both Icon and Hardware. At first glance they seem to be a superficial black version of established characters, but were actually interesting ideas that used analogues of established heroes to great effect.

Independents

From the tongue in cheek Moneyshot to the tense Shadecraft to the epic mystery of Ordinary Gods and the dark fantasy of Die, I have tried to give a few more independent comics a try and for the most part this has been a great success and has left me with the desire to try more new comics next year, or at least new to me.

Licensed comics

From the less than amazing Robocop: Dead or Alive to the spin off of the Jack Campbell series I have enjoyed Lost Fleet: Corsair to the 1980s UK Transformers comics and the surprisingly good Doctor Who comics from Titan it’s been a good year for spin-off material. Often tie in material is lack-lustre or a cheap cash grab but there’s a lot of interesting stories that play in someone else’s sandbox.

Collected editions

I made the shift years ago to digital comics. I still own many (many many many) comics and trades, but I check the deals and sales on Comixology and this year I used these to add some trades and epic collections to my reading pile and collection. I’ve added classic X-Factor, a number of Spider-Man collections as well as some 90’s Avengers and 90s X-Men as well as an almost complete run of the Mark Waid Flash run that cemented Wally West as a fan favourite.

The 90s

It has definitely come to my attention over the last year that my favourite era was in fact the 90s. I know that the 90s were a time of excesses, creative and editorial mistakes and more than a few trends that should never have been. But I enjoyed comics the most during that period between 1989-2009 and whilst I have read some amazing comics produced before and after, that was the time that I liked best.

So that’s my year in comics, less bought, less new, but more read and I’m pretty happy about that. It’s about finding your joy and I think I have done just that.

Next Time: Movies Did I even go the cinema this year?

Posted in Comics n Stuff

5 Alternate Comic Universes

There is a great appeal to the idea of parallel earths or alternate timelines. The world being different or wrong with characters in different roles to show how nurture helps build us, or show that they are the same person anyway showing that a heroic nature can always shine through, no matter where we are.

Here are 5 worlds that may not have lasted, but shine brightly nonetheless.

Amalgam

This was a 5th week/skip week event in the mid 90’s that leapt from the pages of the 90’s excess fest that was Marvel vs DC/Dc vs Marvel. It was briefly created when the DC and Marvel Earth’s merged and so did some of the characters. Superman and Captain America became Super Soldier, Superboy and Spider-Man became Spider-Boy, Avengers and X-Men became JLX and things like that. A couple of dozen comics were made and whilst not all great, all had interesting ideas and were lots of fun.

Heroes Reborn

From around the same time as Amalgam, Marvel were enduring some difficult financial situation and sales on some of their oldest titles were getting very soft. What Marvel did was to go to Image comics founders Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld and let them produce four of their titles. Captain America and the Avengers went to Rob Liefeld, whilst Iron Man and the Fantastic Four went to Jim Lee and they were given a year to do whatever they wanted.

This didn’t really go to plan, but we got 52 issues of comics from Image studios that took the struggling core heroes into new and different places and whilst not all ideas were golden, some stuff took such as S.H.I.E.L.D. being more of a presence regarding the Avengers and Iron Man being more a story of redemption than before.

Ultimately this was reversed and the heroes returned, but that return led to some great comics too and was a massive shot in the arm to these heroes who for the most part didn’t fall back into the depths they were in before.

Forever Yesterday (New Warriors)

This was a three part story starting in issue 13 of New Warriors in March 1991 by the usual writer/artist duo for that book Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley. It was based around the Sphinx (an old Nova villain) or at least a new version of her, re-writing reality so that Egypt was the cultural and political centre of the world. The Avengers were more Egyptian themed with Captain Assyria rather than Captain America and Horus rather than Thor. The New Warriors were as we remembered them, but in different places in their lives. Nova was a junior member of the Avengers, Marvel Boy and Firestar were rebels and Night Thrasher went through his origin again, but with different people killing his parents. It was a great self contained story that examined these heroes in new places, exactly what alternate history stories should do. If redone now, it’d be 20 or 30 issues with tie ins and fancy trade dress, but this was a great 3 parter.

JLA: A Midsummer Nightmare

Back in 1996, DC were planning to restart their flagship Justice League title with JLA under superstar writer Grant Morrison. Rather than a mix of A and B list heroes (with the odd C-lister) this was going to be all A-List. To give that series an extra 3 months of lead time and showcase this magnificent 7 approach. Mark Waid and Fabian Nicieza along with artists Jeff Johnson and Darick Robertson gave us a 3 part story reintroducing that team.

This was a world were there was no Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash or Aquaman. With their costumed lives seemingly erased we got reporter Clark Kent, philanthropist Bruce Wayne, school headmistress Diana Prince, artist Kyle Rayner, school teacher Wally West and fishing company executive Arthur Curry. The rest of the world was getting super powers instead. There was a mystery to solve and one by one, the leaguers remembered who they were and then found J’onn J’onnz who was living his life on Mars with his lost family who were killed again. Now reunited, they battled the architect of this plot to produce a world of super heroes, a man called Know Man. The heroes won the day of course and the world was put right, but Know Man warned them there was a threat coming and if not a world of heroes, then the 7 of them would have to be face it alone. This mini reformed the heart of the league, giving something for Grant Morrison to build a great title around.

Age of Apocalypse

In December 1994, Marvel suspended 9 comics from their X-Men line and relaunched them as part of a 4 month event known as the Age of Apocalypse. If you are familiar with it, then I need say no more, if not, I am currently in the middle of looking at it, on another blog which you can find here.

It was an ambitious and to my mind successful effort to tell an alternate universe story in a way that gave each element room to breathe and allow different writers a way to change the tone and feel of the story without affecting the whole of it in a negative way. When the four months were up, the 9 replaced titles simply returned, but there were repercussions that lasted for years after this.

So that’s my 5, what was your favourite of these? Did I miss a glaringly obvious one?

Posted in Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

New address, new habits and a new future.

Hello there internet people.

After a few shaky months, some things have started to happen and weirdly these are good things. I know, I was surprised too and it’s taken some getting used to.

Shortly after my breakdown, myself SuperSam and the MIGHTY Rosie moved into a house, renting, but the landlord was on a family friend and the terms were really good. Three years ago, before covid and a hundred other things, he sadly passed away. There are details, but this is not my tale to tell, so I won’t. His properties went to his next of kin and there was a lot of legal bits and bobs that needed doing, so we have spent most of the time since in limbo. Things got worse when the house went on the market and we had to deal with people viewing the house, several times over several months. But then we had hope, another landlord we knew was trying to offload a property.

There was so much more back and forth and issues regarding buying the house, the mortgage and so on and so forth and to be honest I could write a book on this part of it alone, but after 3 years of limbo, effecting every element of my life in negative ways. Now the worry and uncertainty was replaced with the deadline of moving. Fortunately we didn’t have a dog full of anxiety and a child in his first year of secondary school to deal with as well…..oh yeah, we did. But still, for the first three weeks of October we moved everything we could, books, bookcases, dvds, blu-rays and my longboxes as well as most of our clothes, boardgames and other bric a brac. Still on Friday, the big stuff went too, white goods, beds and the like, leaving the living room with only half a now busted couch and the TV and on Friday night we moved.

We fit the TV in the back of the car and then added a scared dog (can you see where this is going yet?) and when I tried to set all the entertainment up, the TV lit up only enough to show the cracks. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we could immediately see 3 or 4 ways it could be avoided. We had the TV replaced the next day and also a couch, so alls well and such.

So here I am in a new place, but this one is mine. I have trees, my own space and a renewed sense of optimism. For the first time in a few years, I feel I can move forward. I’m not trying to put back together the pieces of my life and restore anything, it’s more about building something new and using pieces of the past to get it. There’s so much to do, so many things to put right and yet for the first time in a long time I feel like I can do it.

I am now an hour from home by foot, meaning I can’t walk home during lunch, so I am able to do other stuff at lunch, you may get more of my meandering rubbish on here, you never know. But I am getting more exercise and am enjoying the de-stressing walk and podcast/audiobook time that I am getting without losing time with my family. The family who are all happier where we are.

I drifted too far from shore, before I realised and I became lost. Pieces of me over time fell away till I wasn’t someone I recognised, nor did anyone else. But now, I feel like I have constructed a sail. I don’t know where I am going yet, or who I will be when I get there, but it’s definitely better than where I am right now.