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Dance of the Puppets

Like a bat on a hot tin roof since August 2005

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spoiler resistant Dr Who Review: Angels Take Manhattan

Two seasons ago the Daleks took Manhattan, but they must have given it back because now the Weeping Angels have taken it.[1]

Steven Moffat's Who seems more continental than previous versions, if your idea of continental is New York and a couple of other places in the USA. I get that this is for the American audience, but surely part of Who's appeal to Americans is the fact that it isn't set in all the familiar places, like New York.[2] How about going to some truly exotic locales and setting an episode in Japan or Finland for a change?

This episode has some good bits and some astonishingly stupid bits. The stupid bits include the plot, and the idea that the Statue of Liberty is a Weeping Angel.[3] For the sake of a sight gag, our suspension of disbelief is required to accommodate the idea that a 151 foot tall statue can stroll through one of the busiest cities on the planet and nobody would bother to look at it. I mean I know New Yorkers are famously blasé, but you'd think a few might give it a second glance.[4]

Not as deadly dull as their previous appearance, but this episode does confirm my original view that the Weeping Angels were a fantastic one-off, but are terrible as ongoing characters. Ultimately we learn almost nothing more about them than we already knew, and the little that is added is stupid. They are still scary things that jump out at you in the dark, but that's all they are, and putting them in different settings so they can go boo somewhere else is not character development.

I'd add something about clunky plot devices and the way that once again the rules of time only appear to be unbreakable when it suits the story, but then it would be spoilerish.

Ultimately, it seems like Moffat is trying hard to wedge the Weeping Angels into the Who villain pantheon. But it's not going to work because they have no depth. I predict that they will disappear as soon as someone else takes over as showrunner and will not be seen again for at least ten years, when they will be viewed with nostalgia and reappear for one episode, and unless they are then reimagined with greater depth, everyone will realise why they only worked for the one episode and they'll be dropped again.



Notes
1. Seriously, you couldn't do better than reuse a title from two years ago?
2. Plus British actors doing American accents are often as laughable as American actors doing British accents.
3. Not really a spoiler. We find out before the title sequence.
4. Also how is the Statue of Liberty a Weeping Angel? Are they now able to animate ordinary statues? This is a major departure from the characters as previously seen, so it would have been an idea if someone had mentioned it in the story.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Zero tolerance

In comics traditionally issue #1 is the origin story, where we first get to meet our hero or heroes and learn how they become the characters we'll be following. This is the most important jumping on point, so it always bewilders me when the first issue is not used to introduce the character; it's the opposite of welcoming.

DC's big relaunch last year gave every title a new number #1, but in an absolute festival of missing the point, most writers didn't bother with an origin story. Some, notably Green Lantern, opted to ignore the entire event and continue with the story in progress from the previous series, apparently unaffected by the universe changing events that spawned the renumbering. Others commenced with a story to introduce the characters, but not an origin story.

Only a handful, and those mostly being the series that introduced entirely new characters, opened with an actual origin. And I think this may stem from DC's odd idea of taking a clean slate and then squeezing out all the possible freshness by burying it under five years of back story.

So a year later we are getting issue zero of everything. If issue #1 is traditionally the origin, then issue #0 is a tale of what happened before the hero became the hero. Of course when issue #1 opens five years into the story, then issue #0 can be any time before that. But at least in these days of glacially paced, writing for the trade decompression, the issue #0 at least tempts you with the prospect of a done in one single issue story, which is why I've taken another look at several titles I dropped early in the relaunch.

Birds of Prey actually has something closer to an origin than issue #1 had, giving us the first meeting of Black Canary, Batgirl, and Starling. And while it is a done in one, it is caked in plot hooks for other comics; the upcoming Team 7 book, the current BoP, the new slimline Amanda Waller, who I still didn't recognise without a label, and whatever book she's in now that I'm not reading. Even so, I enjoyed it enough to consider giving BoP another go, although the gratuitous underwear shot cooled my interest a little. How many issue zeros with male leads are going to show them in their boxers, I wonder?

Wonder Woman was a delight. A fun Silver Agey tale about Wonder Woman as a teen, writer Brian Azzarello having spotted that you don't need to overload the narrative with a bunch of story hooks to keep readers coming back, you just need to tell a good story.

I enjoyed half of Batman #0, with it's origin of the Bat-Signal and the effect that light in the sky has on several members, or future members of the Bat-family. Yes, it was continuity-heavy, but still a nice mood piece. The other half was a story set immediately before Bruce thought of dressing up like a bat, which featured Red Hood, who is now a gang, the leader of which has the original Silver Age Red Hood dome, but misses the point of having it completely covering his head by having it only go down to nose level. It's kinda stupid. Is it still the Joker? I don't care.

Green Lantern followed its course of ignoring the rules that everyone else has to follow by continuing the story currently in progress. This did involve giving an origin to yet another male, Earth Green Lantern (seriously, that's five now. Are women constitutionally incapable of "overcoming great fear" or are the rings just sexist?), but only because it had reached that point in the story. And issue zeros have never been associated with origin stories particularly, anyway. This is issue twelve and a half to all intents and purposes.

Supergirl was kind of the first part of the story that we met in the middle at the beginning of issue #1. It might even have been better placed as issue #1, since it introduces us to the character and gives us some background, which the actual issue #1 failed so badly at, being basically a fight scene between someone you didn't know and some other people you didn't know. If this had been issue #1 then at least you might have had some investment in one of the characters when they got to the big fight scene.


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Friday, September 14, 2012

Hunger Games Barbie

If you ever want to know the definition of inappropriate, it is this: Hunger Games Barbie.

A Barbie in an anorak, armed with a bow with which to murder other dolls.

I can't decide if it's more of an oxymoron than Elektra Barbie. I think it has the edge because despite being an amoral, murdering antithesis of all things Barbie, Elektra, as a female comic character, at least has the requisite body shape, whereas Katniss isn't supposed to even be able to walk in heels.

Of course I want one now.

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Superhero Twitter

Hellonearth2 Mom dead :( :( :( On the + side new BFF yay!!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Just another Dalek horde

So anyway, one of the things you notice about the Daleks in the latest episode is that there is a fuck of a lot of them. Which is interesting, since the entire species was seemingly destroyed about three years ago, with only a couple escaping (and possibly Davros) to World War 2 to usher in the ugly rainbow Daleks.

And those were only created by Davros from his own genetic material, and presumably a lot of scrap metal. Not an easy task when you have only one good arm and one mad Dalek to help. And he was only around because mad Dalek Sek Caan rescued him from the Time War, which killed all the previous Daleks. Except, you know, the ones that ran a satellite TV channel, back in the first season.

So what I'm thinking is that when the Dalek horde claims to be all the Daleks there are, what they mean is they are all the Daleks in this part of the galaxy, and there are lots more Dalek hordes elsewhere.

At the very least I think they must have some automated assembly line cranking out little Dalek shells as needed. I see it as some massive spaceship, slowly travelling through space swallowing ore-rich asteroids and stripping out everything it needs to build more Daleks, just waiting for Davros, or the Dalek Supreme, or whoever is in charge of any given horde, to send in an order for five million Daleks to be dispatched to the front lines.

And another thing; given that the Daleks are supposed to be the most formidable force in the universe, when was the last time we actually saw a planet they'd conquered? I guess it's just possible they mine them for parts and move on, except for the ones they fit motors to and pilot around the galaxy for shits and giggles, and maybe play conkers with them, but I'd still like to see that side of them. It would be a nice change to see Daleks that aren't either front line troops or upper management.

EDIT: It occurs to me that the Daleks shown in Asylum of the Daleks were described as the Parliament of the Daleks, and while skipping past the notion of the Daleks having anything like a democratic society, I am left thinking if all those thousands of Daleks are only representatives of many more Daleks, then my theory of multiple hordes seems to be borne out by the show.

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Saturday, September 01, 2012

Spoiler resistant Dr Who review: Asylum of the Daleks

So, Asylum of the Daleks.


 
Not bad. Hugely self-indulgent, obviously. Given that, I was a bit disappointed that they didn't spend a bit more time on Daleks through the ages, which seemed to be the whole point of the exercise. And how exactly were the mad Daleks different from the regular kind, apart from being all old and worn out?

As for the big twist, I guessed it might be something like that in the first ten minutes, so not a huge surprise. 

Still better than most of last season, though.

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