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September 2015

Marvel announces 4 new series!

Silver Surfer 

Creative Team: Dan Slott and Mike Allred

My Thoughts: Heard good things about their original run, but the character doesn’t interest me, so I won’t be picking up this series. I’m happy fans of this character still get to enjoy the series though.

 


 

Moon Knight

Creative Team: Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood

My Thoughts: I have never read a comic book with Moon Knight, but this creative team has piqued my interest. Lemire is a fantastic writer. Smallwood has a wonderfully gritty style which I think is perfect for this character. Depending on how much money I’ve got at the time, I may try this, but it’s not a ‘must-buy’ for me.


 

X-Men ’92

Creative Team: Chris Sims, Chad Bowers an Alti Firmansyah

My Thoughts: Whilst I completely love the X-Men animated series from the 90s, this title doesn’t interest me. This may change if it isn’t in the Infinite Comic platform it’s currently in, which I totally hate. The characters are fantastic, but I can’t see past that format. Hopefully, the announcement of another X-Men series will stop all the conspiracies that Marvel are trying to get rid of mutants in favour of Inhumans.


 

Mockingbird

Creative Team: Chelsea Cain and an unannounced artist

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the recent Mockingbird one-shot, written by Chelsea Cain. I’m also really loving the new exposure Bobbi has been getting thanks to her being on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I expect the success of both of these things led to Marvel giving Bobbi a new series, and I’m totally cool with that.

I love Mockingbird, so I’m going to be buying this when it comes out some time next year.

Review: Doctor Who: The Witch’s Familiar 

The Doctor and Davros in the midst of a serious conversation (@bbcdoctorwho) 

Tonight’s Doctor Who has achieved a fantastic and rare feat by having an episode that was even better than the near perfection of the series premiere last week.

This week’s episode wasn’t all about The Doctor and Clara running around frantically trying to save the day, this was much more of a slow, but brilliant, burn. Much of the episode followed a one on one conversation between The Doctor and Davros, with some very serious moments, such as Davros asking The Doctor “Am I a good man?”. Whilst this scenario alone was a joy to watch, largely due to the perfect acting of Peter Capaldi and Julian Bleach, I particularly loved how it was laced with dramatic irony. We knew all along that Davros was manipulating The Doctor’s biggest weakness; his compassion. This was a very clever way to evoke emotion from the viewer, as I was literally yelling at The Doctor not to fall for the trap.

I am beginning to sound like a broken record but can’t say anymore about this episode without saying, again, how fantastic Michelle Gomez was as Missy. Whilst she still showcased her wicked and dry sense of humour, she also gave us a handy reminder that Missy still isn’t good. She turned the dial all the way to crazy when she tried to manipulate The Doctor into killing a Dalek, which she knew had Clara inside. Pure evil, Missy. Pure evil.

Missy also dropped an interesting bit of news by oh so casually revealing to Clara that she has a daughter by saying “The Doctor gave it to me when my daughter…” and was then cut off. I wonder if this daughter is going to appear anytime soon, perhaps in the shape of Maisie Williams? If this ends up being true, then I am a total genius.

Oh, remember last week when I said that I hoped we would get some explanation as to how Missy survived the series 8 finale? We get that explanation, albeit briefly, during this episode. As many had guessed, it was a form of teleportation; which also happened to be the way her and Clara survived last week’s episode.

Also, this part wasn’t essential to the plot or anything really, but I really loved it when The Doctor, in Davros’ chair, was sipping a cup of tea and says; “Question: How did I get this cup of tea? Answer: I’m The Doctor, don’t question it”. I feel like this quote accurately symbolises Moffat’s reign as showrunner. Don’t bother with the intricacies, just strap yourself in and enjoy the ride into the mad world of The Doctor.

I genuinely don’t have any complaints about this episode; it was 45 minutes of pure Doctor Who excellence. Humour, character moments and crazy storylines are all things synonymous with Doctor Who and they were all used to perfection in The Witch’s Familiar. If the first two episodes are anything to go by, we’re in for one hell of a ride this series.

Why You Should Be Excited For: Black Panther 

Creative Team: Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze

Publisher: Marvel

Premise: The first arc in said to be a “yearlong storyline,” and is titled “A Nation Under Our Feet,” a deliberate reference to the 2003 Steven Hahn book of the same name. The Marvel story is said to “find the hero dealing with a violent uprising in his country set off by a superhuman terrorist group called the People.” (According to ComicBookResources.com)

Why You Should Be Excited: Coates is inexperienced with writing comic books, which may scare some readers off, but his clear love for comic books, and in particular Black Panther makes me believe that this book is in safe hands.

Another reason why you should be excited for this book is because of the art of Brain Stelfreeze. He is undoubtedly one of my favourite artists in the industry, and it is rare to see him on such a high-profile project, so this is very exciting.

Even the writer of Marvel’s biggest new hero, Ms Marvel, G. Willow Wilson is clearly excited for this book too:

I’ve done a lot of posts about why you should be excited for other upcoming comic books; and whilst I am very excited for Daredevil, or Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, they pale in comparison to my excitement for this series. I truly believe this run will be legendary. I think anyone not reading this book when in debuts next spring will be making a horrible mistake.

Review: Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice 

The Doctor playing the guitar
The Doctor playing the guitar

There will be spoilers here so watch out if you haven’t yet seen the episode!

It feels like it has been so long since I last saw an episode of Doctor Who, despite the fact that the last episode was only broadcast at Christmas! This emphasises just how much I’ve missed watching brand new episodes of Doctor Who on Saturday evenings. This anticipation for the new series meant that show runner Moffat had to deliver a knockout episode to truly quench my Doctor Who thirst. Did he do that? Hell yes he did that!

The beginning act is slow, but that was necessary to set all of the relevant characters back into action. Even though it was slow, it was definitely still enjoyable.One scene I particularly enjoyed was the reintroduction to The Doctor playing the guitar at his three week long party; and for him to then spot Clara and Missy in the crowd and begin playing Pretty Woman was the stuff of the finest fan-fictions.

Did you notice that I just mentioned Missy? Yep, she’s back and still brilliant. Oh, you want to know how she’s back after her apparent death in Death in Heaven? Yeah, well so do I! The only explanation we get is from Missy herself, and it hardly explains much; “Not dead. Back. Big Surprise. Never Mind”. Whilst this was funny, and perfectly in-sync with Missy’s character, I would like a further explanation about how she survived by the end of the series.

The very first scene of the episode also reveals a lot about the storied relationship between The Doctor and his mortal enemy, Davros. This was an excellent idea, and I loved how Moffat made this scene split into two, with it bookending the episode, making the audience wonder exactly what happened between young Davros and The Doctor.

Here comes a massive spoiler (and in turn my only critique about the season opener): During the final act, the Daleks kill both Missy and Clara, as well as destroying the TARDIS. This was the only part of the episode that I wasn’t overly keen on, and that’s just because I believe Moffat was perhaps too overzealous with the killings. I think that getting rid of the three biggest things in The Doctor’s life made the whole story unbelievable, because now we know that The Doctor is going to save the day because there’s no way the BBC would allow Doctor Who to lose all three commodities in one fell sweep. I know that we all know that The Doctor will save the day eventually, but I wanted to really believe he wouldn’t, so it’d feel even better when he does. I feel like killing off just Missy, just Clara, or just the TARDIS would’ve still hurt The Doctor massively, but would’ve made the whole storyline more believable. I’m not too sure how well that came across in writing, but I know what I’m trying to say!

All in all, this was an exceptional comeback for Doctor Who, with a series opener which wouldn’t go amiss as a series finale. Here’s to hoping the standard remains this high all series!

Smartest Doctor Who fan-bait ever?

 
Jonathan Holmes over at the Radio Times has posted a brilliant breakdown of a new Doctor Who teaser, and it is well worth a look!

It is a parody of The Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road cover but with some very clever hits to the fate of companion, Clara Oswald.

I’m not going to mention what he figures out here because that would be blatant plagiarism. If you want to see it (which all Whovians should!) then follow this handy link:

http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-09-19/doctor-who-does-the-beatles–but-does-this-picture-prove-clara-oswald-will-die

Also, I should have my review of the first episode of the series up within the next 48 hours. I was hoping to put it up today, but I’ve got an essay to complete, so it’ll have to wait a bit longer.

Review: BBC One’s An Inspector Calls

I recall studying J.B.Priestley’s An Inspector Calls scrupulously for my English GCSE exam almost 2 years ago, and being one of the few people in my class who actually enjoyed reading through it. I loved how the themes were so easily applicable even today. Young vs Old, Rich vs Poor, Responsibility and Class are all still subjects heavily focused on in today’s society. All of these rich themes, then elegantly mixed in with the supernatural element of Inspector Goole made this play something for anyone to enjoy. Whilst studying this play, I remember how our English teacher showed us a black and white version of Priestley’s play, and it was surprisingly enjoyable. He said that we could watch it in black and white and it’d be good, or we could watch it in colour and it’d be bad. The choice was pretty simple. He was of course saying that because there had been no worthwhile renditions of An Inspector Calls produced in colour; well, now I believe that has changed.

BBC One’s new adaption of Priestley’s play is, in short, excellent. However, I must admit that if you are not a fan of the source material then you will probably not enjoy this. You would have probably seen this as socialist drivel. Whilst I cannot disagree with the socialist aspect, as it is undoubtedly a key theme of the piece, I would wholeheartedly disagree that this adaption is drivel.

This new rendition is brilliantly performed by an excellent cast, spearheaded by David Thewlis playing the mysterious Inspector Goole. Thewlis played Goole exactly how I had imagined him when reading the play; enigmatic, commanding, and unforgiving. Although my favourite performance has to come from Miranda Richardson, who played the cold-hearted, smug Mrs Birling to perfection. Another standout performance for me was Finn Cole as young Eric Birling. His performance, from start to finish, was captivating, especially during the scene in which the Inspector is questioning him.

I particularly enjoyed how writer Helen Edmundson used flashbacks to show how the Birling family interacted with their collective victim, Eva Smith. This I believe was a positive and appealing change from Priestley’s original play. It can be tedious to watch all the action take place in one dining room, so it was pleasant to see other settings.

To conclude, I believe the BBC’s An Inspector Calls is a resounding success due to exceptional performances from the cast, and because of how well they stuck to Priestley’s (in my opinion) timeless play, and didn’t shy away from any of the important themes.

Gwenpool is coming!

‘Who the hell is Gwenpool?’ I hear you ask! Well, let me inform you!

Gwenpool is Gwen Stacy from an alternate universe, where she just happens to be Deadpool. And just in case you were wondering; No, this is not the same alternate universe where new Marvel mega-hit Spider-Gwen comes from. Apparently Marvel can never get enough of Gwen Stacy!

Anyway, Gwenpool will arrive in main Marvel continuity following the events of Secret Wars, which seems to have also left other fragments of different universes lying about (see Weirdworld or Squadron Supreme).

Her debut will take place as a back-up story in Howard the Duck #1 and will be written by Christopher Hastings and drawn by Danilo Beyruth. Following after that will be a festive one-shot, ‘Gwenpool Special‘ in December; which will also feature Ms Marvel, She-Hulk, Deadpool and Clint Barton Hawkeye and Kate Bishop Hawkeye.

As wacky as this sounds, I’m totally in! This is a pretty lazy idea and is clearly just Marvel trying to capitalise on some of its more trendy characters, but I’m a sucker for a holiday story. Plus, I will read just about anything with Ms Marvel in it!

Bring on December!

Review: Me and Earl and The Dying Girl

Before you read this review, I think it is important that you remember that I am not a professional reviewer (you could probably guess that by the quality of my other posts!) so don’t expect a full, in-depth review. I always feel like most movie reviews I read are always too complicated for the standard moviegoer to understand, when in reality all the majority of people reading just want to know whether or not they should go and see the movie; so I aim to write a review that is simple and direct enough for everyone to get the answers they want. I think it is also important to note that everything that I will mention in the review below is purely my opinion. If you disagree, please feel free to write in the comments; I would love to get someone else’s views on the movie.

Oh, and finally, there will be spoilers ahead, so if you don’t want anything spoiled then don’t bother reading!

Okay, all in all, I really enjoyed Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, yet I find it frustrating because I feel like the movie had so much potential to be a true classic, but just missed the mark a few times for me.

Let’s talk about the actors first. Thomas Mann stars as Greg, the ‘Me’ from the title, RJ Cyler as Earl, and Olivia Cooke as Rachel (otherwise known as ‘The Dying Girl’). Mann played the confused, lost, but too-afraid-to-show-it Greg absolutely perfectly; he made the character indefinitely relatable. Yet, I would consider the true star of this movie to be Olivia Cooke. Her portrayal of quite simply a ‘normal’ teenage girl is completely engulfing. Cooke makes Rachel seem like someone you would only notice was at your school if you saw her, but that’s it, she’s nobody you’d remember. Rachel isn’t a cheerleader, isn’t a hipster, isn’t incredibly smart, she is just an average teenager, looking forward to the future; heck, Greg even says that he just categorises Rachel as part of “Boring Jewish Senior Girls Subgroup 2-A”, showing just how unnoticeable Rachel was. The best part of that however, is that Rachel likes that, she’s so comfortable with who she is. That was until she got leukaemia. Cooke makes Rachel the most tragic character by beautifully portraying how cancer doesn’t only destroy your body, it destroys every part of your being. However, Cooke expertly exhibits how Rachel is still wonderfully strong even when she has decided to stop getting treatment in a scene that gave me chills.

Whilst talking about the acting, I feel like I would be committing a horrible crime by not mentioning Molly Shannon, who gives an acting masterclass showing a mother coming apart at the seams due to the looming reality of losing her daughter. It is genuinely heart-breaking to watch.

One thing I adore about Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is that this is not a romance movie. The relationship between Greg and Rachel isn’t romantic. They are just unlikely friends; they hang out, watch spoof movies made by Greg and Earl (my personal favourite being Senior Citizen Kane), and get ice-creams. This certainly increases my enjoyment of the movie because it isn’t the clichéd love story of a guy falling madly in love only to have his heart broken by the inevitable death of his love.

My main concern with this movie in fact is that the titular characters don’t seem to actually spend very much screen time together, leaving me feeling a little bit cold when Greg somewhat falls apart after Rachel’s death. At times, I struggle to connect with their relationship because Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the director, doesn’t show much interaction between the trio, except the situations mentioned in the previous paragraph. I feel like this dampened the emotional impact of Rachel’s death because the characters were well characterised individually, yet as a group they barely interacted. Meaning that I struggled to believe Greg and Earl’s reactions to her death, and therefore couldn’t feel the sadness that I would’ve had a little more time been put into showcasing the trio further.

Even with that I mind I would definitely watch this movie again just for the sheer enjoyment of seeing a good coming-of-age film that is not all about romance. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is a hard-hitting story about friendship, maturity and loss and is without question going to go down as a cult classic.

Rating: 4/5

Why You Should Be Excited For: Weirdworld 

Creative Team: Sam Humphries and Mike Del Mundo

Publisher: Marvel

Premise: The series will follow Becca, a 16 year old who accidently found herself on Weirdworld and desperately wants to get home (as you would when you find yourself on Weirdworld). She will be joined on her journey by an old wizard called Ogeode, a 7-feet tall barbarian called Goleta, and someone called Catbeast.

In an interview on Marvel.com, Humphries had the following to say about the terrain Becca will have to face on Weirdworld:

“Weirdworld is a place where anything can happen. Weirdworld is a place inside the Marvel Universe. Weirdworld is a place where the lost can be found. But only if you are strong enough… Weirdworld is a place that is ever changing, always chaotic, and a place of infinite discovery. Its essential nature is so mysterious that no complete map can ever be created. It is a polyglot of fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and other weird things dug up from the brains of myself and [artist] Mike Del Mundo.”

Why You Should Be Excited: Mainly because Mike Del Mundo is still on art duties; which in itself makes this title a must-buy. His work on the Secret Wars Weirdworld is some of the best art you’ll ever see on the printed page. Each individual page is a work of art that could be sold for so much more.

You should also be excited because the Weirdworld itself is sticking around; the storyline opportunities are infinite. As described above by Humphries, this really is like nothing Marvel has done for a very long time.

For me, this is the positive kind of diversity within the product line which Marvel should be doing more of. This isn’t a superhero story, this is a story of survival.

Can Becca survive Weirdworld? I suggest you find out when this title hits the shelves in December!

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