March 28, 2015
An explosion rips through the Earth embassy on Vulcan, killing dozens of people including Archer's close friend Admiral Forrest. While Trip and Phlox lead the investigation on the Enterprise, Archer (Scott Bakula) and T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) head out into the Vulcan desert to apprehend the religious cult suspected of undertaking the attack.
This season seems to be all about answering questions the audience probably was never asking. The season premiere was an answer to 'can we see more of that interminable temporal cold war?'. The subsequent three-parter was an answer to 'what was Noonien Soong like, and can we see more of Khan's people?'. This episode, which kicks off a second three-part story, appears to be answering the question 'why are the Vulcans in Enterprise such assholes?'. I assumed the answer was 'bad writing', but apparently it's something more than that.
March 27, 2015
Issue #40 concludes the "Super" storyline, in which a resurrected Damian Wayne has come back to life with the powers of flight and superhuman strength. It also concludes this volume: this is the final issue of Batman and Robin. In June, Damian Wayne returns in Robin: Son of Batman #1 with Patrick Gleason both writing and illustrating the book. I'll be picking that book up like a shot, but I'm actually rather sad. This book has sort of crept up on me. I talk a lot about how great Snyder and Capullo's Batman is, or how entertaining Batgirl has become, and in the background Batman and Robin has kept ticking away, providing month after month of near-flawless superhero adventure on an uninterrupted monthly schedule.
As a final issue this is great: it wraps up the "Super" arc neatly and effectively, and presents a really strong, warm bond between Bruce and Damian. I mentioned this while reviewing the last issue, but I really hope somebody at DC picks up on the amazing chemistry between Damian Wayne and Shazam: it has the makings of an all-new "world's finest" pairing and it'd be a shame not to exploit that with a miniseries or story arc somewhere.
So thanks to Tomasi, Gleason and Gray for an outstanding three-and-a-half years of superhero action, father-and-son bonding and wonderfully heartfelt emotion. It's been great reading it. (5/5)
DC Comics. Written by Peter J. Tomasi. Art by Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray. Colours by John Kalisz.
Under the cut: more comic reviews from this week including The Autumnlands, Batman Eternal, Daredevil, The Fuse, Gotham Academy, He-Man, The Multiversity and The Wicked + the Divine.
March 25, 2015
I have to be honest: I haven't watched a single episode of Jem since the 1980s. As a child I remember it being one of the better cartoons on the TV, and it strikes me as a particularly cool concept to revisit as a comic book. What could be cooler than action-adventure starring a pop group?
The key here is reinvention. Writer Kelly Thompson and artist Sophie Campbell haven't simply reproduced the design and style of the cartoon on the page. They've taken the basic concept and the characters and developed them for a contemporary audience. The story is reasonably good, although not a great deal happens in this first issue. The art and design work, however, is fantastic. There's diversity in race and body shape, cool costuming and outrageous hair. It's hard to say whether or not this book will have narrative legs, but visually it's a brilliant start. If, like me, you have fond memories of the original cartoon, or if you're looking for an entertaining comic starring a group of women, this could be the new comic for you. (4/5)
IDW. Written by Kelly Thompson. Story by Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell. Art by Sophie Campbell. Colours by M. Victoria Robado.
With many thanks to IDW Publishing, I'm now receiving review copies of their titles each week. As a result I'm breaking The Pull List into multiple posts for the future. This is for two reasons: firstly, I now have access to a lot more books that I can review each week and I don't want to stack them all into one massively long post. Secondly, it means I can get the IDW reviews out on their day of release, along with anything I manage to read on the day I buy it, and you can read some of these short reviews a bit more promptly.
Under the cut: reviews of (deep breath) Aquaman, Darth Vader, Doctor Who, Miami Vice Remix and Transformers.
It all sounds tremendously promising when written down like that. The truth is that Mission: Impossible II is a terrible film. No, more than terrible: it's an actively offensive film. Hollywood regularly makes films that are sexist, and that sideline or objectify its female characters - or in some cases exclude women from their narratives altogether. M:I2 goes one step further than that. Based purely on on-screen evidence, I'm pretty sure those in control of this film actively hate women.
March 24, 2015
After saving Cold Station 12 from a massive pathogen leak, Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) is back on the trail of the augments and their stolen Bird of Prey. Dr Soong (Brent Spiner) has finally realised how uncontrollable his 'children' are once Malik (Alec Newman) decides to seed the atmosphere of a Klingon colony with stolen pathogens in order to spark a Klingon-Earth war.
This is the episode where the stretched narrative of the first two parts strikes home, since there's precious little here for anybody to do. Sure the Enterprise pursues the Bird of Prey, and there's a bit of a fight, but there's nothing to the episode that couldn't have been compacted into the earlier episodes. This episode is, all things considered, remarkably dull.
The Liberator arrives at a distant, long-dead planet, whose populations appears to be have been wiped out in a terrible war. The ship's power reserves are exhausted from constantly fleeing Space Commander Travis and his squadron of pursuit fighters. When Travis launches a fresh ambush, the situation looks grim - until the powerful survivors of the planet below intervene. Now Blake (Gareth Thomas) and Travis (Stephen Greif) find themselves in a dense forest, where they must kill each other in hand-to-hand combat - or learn not to fight at all.
"Duel" is the strongest episode of Blake's 7 so far. It succeeds because Terry Nation has managed to write a well-structured, strongly characterised script, but more so it succeeds because of its director, Douglas Camfield. Doctor Who fans know Camfield well as one that series' finest directors. He had an inventive eye for shot composition and timing, and pushed the technical limitations of the BBC to their limits. His Doctor Who serials included "The Crusade", "The Daleks' Masterplan", "The Invasion", "Inferno", and "The Seeds of Doom". Sadly this was the only episode of Blake's 7 Camfield directed, but at least in his one attempt he pulls off something really special.
March 23, 2015
It all makes Tom Cruise's ongoing performance as super-spy Ethan Hunt rather surprising. If we ignore the nostalgic "many years later" sequels like Never Say Never Again or Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, then we can see that Harrison Ford played Indiana Jones for eight years, and Sean Connery played James Bond for nine. Tom Cruise has played Hunt for nineteen years. To start beating that kind of franchise longevity you have to start looking at Japanese franchises like Tora-San (still the world record-holder with 48 films in 26 years, all starring Kiyoshi Atsumi as Torajiro Kuruma), although I note that next year's X-Men: Apocalypse will bring Hugh Jackman into his 16th year as Wolverine. It's actually quite a shock to re-watch Mission: Impossible after a break of some years. Tom Cruise seems so young.
Dr Arik Soong (Brent Spiner) leads the augments to Cold Station 12, the highly secure asteroid facility where Earth and Denobula keep their most dangerous pathogens. It also contains 1,800 augment embryos that have been kept on ice since the Eugenics Wars. Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) and the Enterprise remain in hot pursuit.
"Cold Station 12" feels like a much more focused episode than "Borderland". The latter seemed to get a little derailed halfway through with an Orion slave traders storyline. The focus of this episode is entirely on the augments, as they take control of Cold Station 12 and begin torturing and murdering the scientists there to get what they want. It's a highly dramatic episode, with some great action sequences, the debut of an oft-mentioned character and a strong moral challenge for Arik Soong.