PREDATOR VS. JUDGE DREDD VS. ALIENS Review: A Drokkin’ Good Time

Tom Speelman:

First proper Dredd story I’ve ever reviewed and it is rad.

Originally posted on Another Castle:

After Superman and Batman, probably the easiest comics character to drop into random crossovers is Judge Dredd. The Judge–an iconic British creation who officially patrols as judge, jury and executioner on the streets of the dystopian futurescape Mega-City One, for the unfamiliar–is a pretty basic character. He never removes his helmet, carries a ludicrous amount of guns and ammo and has a gigantic badge with his own name. He’s a hyperbolic caricature of militarized law enforcement taken completely seriously…well, most of the time.

Although IDW currently has the US rights to the character and have been reprinting the archives as well as publishing new comics, it’s Dark Horse who gives us the brand new Predator VS. Judge Dredd Vs. Aliens: Incubus and Other Stories hardcover, as they own the comics rights to the other two franchises. This collection brings together the 2003 miniseries Judge Dredd vs. Aliens: Incubus and the…

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Star Trek Saturdays #40

It’s time for Star Trek Saturdays #40!

292px-TOS_head

This week’s episode is “The Deadly Years” and it takes a comedic premise and makes it deadly serious, in a good way.

We open with the Enterprise on a routine mission to resupply the experimental colony on Gamma Hydra IV. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Chekov, Scotty and a Lt. Galway beam down to the planet to deliver the supplies. They find no one around, which Kirk finds strange because he had spoken with colony scientist Robert Johnson not a half hour before. Chekov goes into a building to investigate it, finds a dead body and promptly flips out. Screaming, he leads the others back to the body.

This is even more confusing. McCoy says the man died of old age. Spock finds this impossible because there’s not a colony member over 30, according to the records. To complicate things even further, more old people show up and claim to be Robert Johnson–29–and his 27-year old wife, Elaine.

Elaine and Robert Johnson.jpg

The party beams them up to the ship, where Elaine dies quickly and so does Robert. Kirk tries to get information out of him before then, but Robert is senile and unresponsive. In the briefing room, Kirk informs the two special guests on the Enterprise, Commodore Stocker (Charles Drake),  who they’re transporting to his new command at Starbase 10 and Dr. Janet Wallace (Sarah Marshall), an expert endocrinologist.

Stocker is anxious to get to Starbase 10, but he agrees to Kirk’s suggestion that the ship remain in orbit around the planet until they’ve sorted out this problem. Wallace agrees and also turns out to be an old flame of Kirk’s. After everyone else leaves, they quietly recall their old life together.

On the bridge, Kirk orders Sulu to maintain orbit. Spock informs him that it turns out a rogue comet passed by the planet some time ago, but it’s uncertain whether it has had any effect. Kirk tells him to look into it anyway. Stocker tries again to convince Kirk to head for Starbase 10, as the instruments there would be more effective. Kirk replies that there’s nothing a starbase can do that a starship can’t and leaves the bridge, again telling Sulu to maintain orbit. Both Sulu and Spock are very confused by this.

Meanwhile, Lt. Galway (Beverly Washburn) visits sickbay complaining of hearing loss. McCoy tells her it’s nothing to worry about. In his quarters, Kirk calls Spock on the bridge and tells him to investigate the comet. Spock replies that he is doing so already per Kirk’s earlier orders, leaving the captain confused. Suddenly, his shoulder begins paining him, so he goes to sickbay.

McCoy examines him and finds that he has arthritis in his shoulder that’s rapidly advancing. Kirk doesn’t believe him and orders that he be examined again. “It would still come up the exact same thing,” McCoy replies. Scotty then calls in, asking if he can meet McCoy. “All you need is vitamins, Mr. Scott, but yes,” McCoy replies.

Scotty comes in and, to the shock of the others, he’s paled, wrinkled and gray-haired.

 

 

Via thecia.com.au

Further investigation reveals that every member of the landing party is aging rapidly, all except Chekov. Why? How did this happen? And how can they stop it before they’re all dead?

This is an episode that, very easily, could’ve been played for comedy (and no doubt it would’ve been on, say, Enterprise). But to episode writer David P. Harmon’s credit, he plays it completely straight. Let’s face it, aging before one’s time would be hurtful for anyone and Harmon sells that. While there’s the occasional melodramatic nod here and there, overall, he gives us a nice thriller that deals with a very existential enemy.

On top of that, while the whole “special lady officer on the Enterprise was of course involved with Kirk” thing can be a little silly, Wallace doesn’t feel that way. While her dress–reportedly made from drapes–is rather silly, the way the character is written hints at an intriguing and interesting backstory.

This is also the first time in a long time that the Romulans return. Unfortunately, it’s through stock footage of Birds of Prey. The main reason the Klingons became the more common TOS foe is that Romulan makeup was very time-consuming and expensive. Not so the Klingons; of curse, that would change following 1979’s The Motion Picture.

Joseph Pevney is in the director’s chair once again and no surprise, he’s great. This is a pretty confined episode, with the action set almost entirely aboard the ship. But Pevney gets great performances out of his actors as he bounces them off against each other.

The acting is top-notch. Every cast member who rapidly ages plays the whole thing through with dignity. They each take care to demonstrate the rigors of aging, from merely forgetting things to walking slower than normal. Combined with the makeup, it works wonders…even if Kirk’s old-man combover is a little severe.

Drake, a well-regarded character actor, is great as the impatient Commodore. When the time comes for him to step up, he really drives home what his character does. As Wallace, Marshall is, I’m fairly certain, the first guest star with a British accent. It adds a nice layer of intrigue to the character and more than makes up for that silly dress.

I should also add that there’re some really funny Chekov lines here. As the only landing party member not afflicted, he’s subjected to all sorts of tests. “If this keeps going on, I’ll run out of samples,” he grouses. It’s really fun.

This is a well-done episode that cogently examines a real fear that people have. On top of that, it’s a great dramatic showcase for all involved. Recommended.

Thanks to Memory Alpha, the official Star Trek wiki for the pics and episode information, as well as Amazon Instant for hosting the show. We’ll see you next time and until then, live long and prosper.

GRAVITY FALLS Season 2, Episode 4 Review: Sock Opera

Tom Speelman:

Looks like I’m doing these regularly now. Lucky for me, this show never stops being great!

Originally posted on Another Castle:

The close of the Gravity Falls season premiere, “Scary-Oke,” basically inverted the show’s entire status quo. Grunkle Stan revealed to Dipper and Mabel that he does in fact know about all the supernatural weirdness of the town. In theory, this gives him a more active role in explicitly solving mysteries, rather than being the puppet-master behind some of them (although his crossed fingers as he promises not to hide any more secrets betrays that somewhat).

It’s telling, then, that “Sock Opera” doesn’t even involve Stan in the slightest. He only has a few lines and the first one of them echos throughout the rest of the episode. Walking in on the rest of the Mystery Shack crew making a variety of sock puppets for Mabel’s latest endeavor, he simply says, “Nope. Not even dealing with this.” It’s a deadpan joke, yeah, but it effectively says that Stan, usually a instigator…

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PROMETHEUS: FIRE AND STONE #1 Review: Rocky Start to an Intriguing Crossover

Tom Speelman:

Intriguing and I definitely think the whole idea will be interesting and I hope the crossover will be good. But this first issue left me a little cold.

Originally posted on Another Castle:

To say the 2012 film Prometheus was divisive is an understatement. On the one hand, many were excited that Ridley Scott was returning to helm the Alien prequel after basically abandoning the franchise after the 1979 original. On the other, many were angry and annoyed at the involvement of Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof–no stranger to controversy–and what they saw as massive plot holes in the story.

Regardless, the back story Prometheus offered up is now ripe for the picking, adding a whole new era to the Alien mythology. Dark Horse intends to capitalize on that with the new ongoing Prometheus/Alien/Predator crossover, Fire & Stone. The first chapter of the four-issue Prometheus miniseries, also called Fire & Stone, is available now. With beautiful artwork shorted by a script that stumbles for half the issue before righting itself, the crossover kick-off starts a bit shaky.

The Story

Written by Paul…

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WAYWARD #1 (Review)–The Best Anime Not On TV

Source: Image Comics

A couple months ago, when the big hype machine was worming its way around, I preordered the first issue of the new Batgirl run from Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr that begins in October. It was the first time I’d ever explicitly called a store and placed a preorder, and I did it mostly because I want this run to succeed for a lot of reasons (which I’ll discuss when my actual review goes up).

That was all I was planning to preorder, but then I read the preview of the first issue of Wayward, a new creator-owned series from Image by Jim Zub (Samurai Jack, Skullkickers) and Steve Cummings (Flash, Deadshot) and I was intrigued by what I read. Intrigued enough to order that too.

I arrived back in Michigan last Saturday–the first issue came out last Wednesday–and after getting settled into my apartment, I went down to my comic shop and picked up. I wasn’t disappointed; having read it through twice, I can honestly say Wayward is a great new series and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

The story, like the headline says, reads like it came straight from an anime fan’s mind. Half-Irish, half-Japanese high schooler Rori Lane, sick of living with her Irish dad, moves to Tokyo for the first time to be with her mother. Besides the usual cultural adjustment, Rori suddenly begins seeing red pathways pop up that no one else can that tell her where she needs to go. And things get even weirder when she discovers that there are monsters walking the streets of Tokyo.

One thing I can say about this first issue is that it gets to the point. While a whole opening arc could be built out of Rori adjusting to life in Japan, Zub and Cummings get right down to business. It’s refreshing and very gripping. Zub is very good at taking these characters we’ve seen a ton of times–teenager in a foreign place, workaholic mom and so on–and really making them worth knowing.

Cummings is not an artist whose work I’ve seen before, and that’s a shame because he’s great. It’s very easy to imagine his designs popping up in an anime and his work is crisp and clear. John Rauch’s coloring  further enhances the book’s appealing nature. It’s lovely stuff and it’s a good touchstone to turn manga fans onto American comics.

Even cooler is that the two men–of whom Cummings actually lives in Yokohama, Japan–have enlisted the help of Japanese scholar and translator Zack Davisson to write a series of essays about “Weird Japan,” exploring the country’s deep supernatural lore, and encyclopedia entries on all the monsters Rori seems to encounter. The entry here is on kappas, and it’s thought-provoking stuff that further adds to the series’ appeal.

Bottom line: if you know someone who prefers manga over Western comics, have them check this out. It’s a great bridging point between the two styles, and it’s wonderful stuff all on its own. Image has been promoting this book by saying it’s for Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans and while I don’t fully get the comparison, I get the spirit of it and I would agree in that respect. I’ll be sticking with this for as long as it’s out there.

 

JAYBIRD Review: A Deceptive and Haunting Book

Tom Speelman:

This is a great little book and is the first of many book reviews I hope to be doing. Definitely worth checking out.

Originally posted on Another Castle:

The back cover of Dark Horse Comics’ translation of Jaybird by writer Jaakko Ahonen and his artist brother Lauri describes it as “Disney Meets Kafka.” That description of the original graphic novel–first published in Finland in 2012–is true enough. Like Disney, the characters are anthropomorphized animals with varying degrees of visual appeal. Like Kafka, the story and main character’s mindset are claustrophobic; the entire book takes place inside a single house. But judging the book by those two extremes doesn’t quite do it justice.

These are animals, but they aren’t “funny animals,” at least as comics know them. These animals are realistic-looking, highly textured and somewhat grotesque. The effect’s less Disney and more Laika, incorporating the minute details of that studio’s creations while also showcasing their spooky, unsettling tone.

The Kafka comparison is harder to beat. Most of the story is inside the main character’s thoughts.  Fear of spiders…

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5 Manga Series That Deserve Better Anime

Tom Speelman:

So this went up last night. I’m pretty happy with it but Reddit is supposedly eating it alive. Still, I stand by my opinions here.

Originally posted on Another Castle:

Manga and anime fans tend to be spoiled for quality these days. With the huge, immensely profitable otaku audience in both America and Japan demanding it, studios and publishers are more careful than ever to have an anime line-up exactly with the manga it’s adapting. But it wasn’t always that way.

Before the Internet, you sort of had to take what you could get in a page-to-screen translation. Sometimes a story might be condensed, drastically changed or ballooned out past the breaking point. Beloved characters might not be around at all. The visual design could totally ignore the style of the original manga, which would confuse fans. Worst of all, the tone of the original that made the property so hot in the first place could be entirely ignored.

Here, then, are six manga that got turned into anime that had something missing. Like Sailor Moon Crystal, going a…

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