A new group of enemies turn up, but the plot is still mostly concerned with the conflict between Pack and Ontonguard. At this point the biggest problem for the series is that Ukiah isn’t that interesting anymore. Some long running series with crime or action heroes manages to keep interest in the main character going by piling up more and more personal problems mixed with other stuff going on. Ukiah, on the other hand, doesn’t have many problems. He’s rich, he’s nearly indestructible, he got the babe. Really, the book, like the previous one, is an easy read, but not very exiting. Spencers tries, but so far the first book was the best and rest is just a pale imitation.
The second part of the Ukiah Oregon series was less interesting than part one. The writing was as good, but since Spencer already played the most powerful cards in the first one, this feels more like something written to keep the series going, instead of having a cool story to tell. Ukiah already found his love, found out his true nature and got answers to most of the questions plaguing him. So instead of trying to provide new enemies or moving the plot forward in interesting ways, Spencer wrote something that felt like a mop-up operation. Some good bits and pieces, but on the whole not really interesting. The Ontonguard turns up to make more trouble; Ukiah and his friend stop them.
In the context of her whole oeuvre, I say Spencer tries to conform to the model of writing series when successfully with one book, but who isn’t really interested or at her best when she does it. Unlike other writers, who can write one good book after another without changing the formula or trying something new, Spencer’s best work is when she does something new or at least changes the formula.
Marshal Law is superhero satire cranked to the max. Subtlety isn’t part of the program. Instead there’s blood and gore en masse. Yet despite the heavy amount of violence, it never becomes unbearable. It’s so over the top that you either laugh about it or get grossed out, but it doesn’t really affect you on a deeper level. That is both a weakness and a strength.
As far as humor goes, it’s not the most smart comic, but as far as funny goes (if you like the more violent shades of funny), it’s pretty effective. Kingdom of the Blind is a one-shot that features a very distorted version of Batman squaring off against Marshal Law. Like always in this series, even if you’re initially disgusted by Marshal Law, after some revelations about the true nature of the superhero (in this case the Batman lookalike), you’ll begin to root for Law taking him out.
This 8-part comic series by John Ridley and Georges Jeanty felt like a gentler version of Watchmen. What do I mean with that? While Watchmen wasn’t an especially brutal deconstruction of superheroes – only a very realistic take (as much as such a thing could be realistic) – American Way felt like something similar but written by someone who actually was fond of superheroes, despite the silliness of the concept.
It’s very similar in that it goes for a realistic take on superheroes infused by real world politics of the past from an American perspective. Instead of the cold war, like Watchmen, American Way concentrates on race issues. Also similar if not the quite the same as in Watchmen the biggest problem of heroes is that there aren’t any true villains, apart from one psychopath.
While I liked the series, I thought one thing was pretty disgusting. The series used the old kill-the-female-superhero to drive the tension up. It’s a pretty assholish way of manipulating the reader into a certain reaction. Also the ending was a bit disappointing. Not in the way that Watchmen ended, with an overly stupid plot device, but that the big villain was so typical for the less realistic takes on superheroes that it felt completely out of place there.
Saw the first episode of the new Doctor Who (The Eleventh Hour). It was enjoyable in the typical ways of Doctor Who. It’s a show that has embraced its trashy roots and has elevated them to an art. Production value-wise I don’t think it’s actually that trashy anymore, but the show doesn’t try for the same sort of realism that pervades even SF/Fantasy-shows from the US. It’s all about quite absurd, low-probability futures, unrealistic aliens and adventure. I mean, alien spaceships that have hovering human eyes at their core, sporting a global wide warning that doesn’t give anyone a chance to react. It’s pure nonsense, but it does work if you don’t try to take it at face value. It’s fun.
I do wonder whether Moffat is setting up the Doctor for something of a hard awaking. The whole angle of catching a companion right before her wedding and coming too late for some years reeks of trying to make a point about the limits of time travel. In the end, after a season or two, Amy will leave and chose a normal life, going back right to the moment the Doctor got her away. Even if this time it’ll be the Doctor who falls for someone. Despite his powers he missed her for 12+2 years, and he can’t right that without destroying all those things that will have happened until then. All merely speculation, but maybe it’s going in that direction.
This two-part series from 1999 has the first stand-alone appearance of Santa Claus airhead daughter Jingle Belle. Trying to have some fun she manages to release an arch-enemy of her dad while trying to follow in her fathers footsteps. The black and white art is very cartoony, the story itself pretty simple (first JB initiates all the chaos, later she tries to help and makes amends). At the end she even manages to learn something and the whole morale feels convincing without clashing with the more anarchistic aspects of the story. It’s not deep or smart or anything, but fun nonetheless.
After the inspiring foreword by Ellis I was expecting something more interesting than this generic mini-space opera with a motley crew of misfit saving the human race. As much as I like Star Trek, a mean or bizarre twist of the material could have been fun, but Warren Ellis really missed the boat on this one. The link to Star Trek is tenuous at best.
Instead of an orderly and correct captain we have a typical Ellis-bastard character who’s really not that much different from a Captain Picard or Sisko, apart from his swearing. Overall the story/plot/setting is so typical for written space opera that in comparison the Star Trek universe feels much more fresh and original than this. Like most stuff written by Ellis it’s fun, but apart from that not very memorable or original. Even as a joke inspired by Star Trek it comes off as a rather sad attempt.
Lovely comic that manages to spin a fresh story out of old material. It’s a world of superheroes seen from the eyes of everyday people. It’s no intended as a realistic take ala Watchmen, but merely about normal people getting entangled with superhero stuff and trying to live their normal life (work, love and stuff). What I fell in love with from the first page is the art style, which is sparse and cartoony, yet completely manages to convey the whole range of human emotions. Watson manages to pin down characters with only a few brush strokes.
Despite its theme the comic isn’t interested in analyzing superheros too much, its merely an approach to mix superheroes with a neat love story. There’s not much superhero deconstruction going on, instead you get the feeling that the writer is really a big comic nerd himself, putting in references to stuff like the Crisis of Infinite World.
But the best thing about the comic is that you don’t need to have read any superhero comics to appreciate it. The characters and their story works just as well if you haven’t read any superhero stuff before. It’s just a bit more fun if you did.
A five-part mini-series that retells the origin of Thunderbold Jaxon, a superhero who first appeared in a 1949 comic. The 2006-series was written by Dave Gibbons. It’s competently written and the art is good, but the comic itself is nothing more than a nice read. There’s nothing there that would make you want to read further adventures of the guy.
None of the characters stand out much and the origin isn’t too memorable either (three kids find the artifacts of power of the norse god, reawaken Thor and bring about (via a Christian Deus Ex Machina (what a pun)) the end of the remaining Norse gods who lived so long powerless but immortal among humans). My overall reaction was lukewarm. Maybe if Gibbons had found a more interesting angle to approach the whole thing or written the characters more distinct and not like some generic kids and some generic Norse gods, it might have worked better.
There was one good scene that I really liked, when the young girl told Odin that he was an idiot for doing the same old stuff for centuries, when he could have done so much else, but the rest of the series seriously lacked anything approaching that level.
The first title were you could play Zero for a few moments. The rest is pretty much like Mega Man X1 and X2. Eight robots masters to defeat, a final boss who, it turns out, is merely a pawn for the true enemy (yeah, Sigma again). The game also uses, like X2, some wireframe effects, and like in the former game it still feels too much like a gimmick. But the game has solid gameplay and is fun like most Mega Man games. Typical for the X-series, I find the initial eight robot masters not as memorable as the robot masters in the NES-series were, but that may be just me. The gameplay is top-notch, even if its lack true innovations. It’s the same old, but fun nonetheless.