I’ve just voted Green in the General Election

My postal vote arrived this morning for the General Election next month. I’ve voted Green and it felt good in the knowledge that I may have not just got rid of the hopeless Lib Dem MP for Bristol West, Stephen Williams, but helped the Greens get their second MP in the shape of Dominic Hill, and the Progressive Alliance of SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens get another MP on their side to barter with what looks like a minority Labour government.

At this moment in time I’m positive of the right, not to mention the best result for not only the people of Bristol but of the UK. For too long people have been let down and they need good local MP’s like I hope Hill will be. It might shake people out of their complacency and it might get them up off their arses to actually engage with politics as the people of Scotland are rather than just sitting back taking it.

We’ve got a prime chance of something potentially very good in three weeks. Choose wisely, but at least vote because the next five years can’t be Tory, but they can’t be a pure Labour government either. Both would be disastrous so make your choice very wisely indeed!

What I thought of Archie versus Predator #1

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I never liked Archie Comics. They were always too American for me, too sweet, too cloying. Too bloody nice. Sure, I liked the work of Dan DeCarlo but after things like Cherry Poptart, Archie Comics were easy to dismiss and parody. In recent years Archie Comics have tried to drag themselves kicking and screaming into the modern age with some success, and now they’ve got Archie and his pals fighting Predator. Yes, The Predator.

Writer Alex De Campi and artist Fernando Ruiz have been tasked to bringing this idea that was obviously dreamed out at 4am over a few lines and after dropping some pills, and it really should be terrible. It really should make one sick. It doesn’t because although its insanely stupid an idea, De Campi just about squeezes the idea into a workable script. that takes its cue for the gang going on holiday in Costa Rica thanks to Jughead and this gives excuse for some silly foreshadowing, but some equally silly but fun dialogue.

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The Archie gang haven’t ever changed really. Jughead still eats all the time, Archie fancies Veronica but it’s Betty that’d be better for him and on, but this is updated and of course, the Predator is knocking around.

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And there’s gore. In an Archie Comic!

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This is simply mental. Every single page shouldn’t work. It shouldn’t, but I enjoyed this thoroughly and that is something of a surprise to say the least. The fact this is a four issue mini series makes it even more insane as they have to keep this going for three more issues!

What I thought of Crossed: Badlands #75

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Crossed is a concept that shouldn’t have lasted as it should have, but with Alan Moore’s Crossed +100 set in the future of the Crossed and now this arc by Keiron Gillen partly set in humanity’s prehistory it shows there’s some legs on the idea.

Here’s the synopsis from Avatar.

Superstar writer Kieron Gillen (Uber, Wicked & Devine) is launching a new story arc that will take the horrors of the Crossed back to the ancient past! 75,000 years ago was the closest humanity has ever came to being purged from the Earth. There were as few as 2000 humans remaining. This is historical fact. Why it came to this is generally blamed on super-volcano Toba causing a minor ice-age. But that’s not the full story. That is not the history of the Homo Tortor, i.e. Man The Toturer. This empire before the beginning of time, that sends raiding parties gathering other Homo species and enormous mega-fauna, invented cruelty, refined domination, perfected killing. And they think their power will last forever. Join the hunt for historical answers with this issue that kicks off C-Day events worldwide as fans celebrate the grueling world of Crossed at comic shops everywhere. There is no help, there is no hope. There is only the Crossed.

It’s a nice idea, and how Gillen frames it is with a survivor of the modern day Crossed outbreak trying to find a college professor who had some radical ideas.

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So this story takes place in three time periods: the present day, just before the outbreak and 70,000 years ago. It’s a pretty daring bit of storytelling on display here as he details how Professor Nelson manages to have not only successfully worked out what happened in the past, but predicts the future. Sadly, nobody believes him.

Then the Crossed outbreak happens and the student that dismissed him, Washington, leads a team to find what information Nelson actually knew.

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The story then flashes back 70,000 years to tell the story of Lion, a young man trying to kill a prehistoric alligator so he can impress Sun, a young girl in the tribe.

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Unluckily for Lion, the ‘Blood Men’ (prehistoric Crossed) have attacked his village, killed Sun, and are now going to do the same to him.

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But The Blood Men don’t kill him, they have something far more terrible for Lion on board their vast ships of the sea.

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This issue is a sort of mirror to Alan Moore’s future of the Crossed, and it’s just a fantastic bit of horror. The fact that so much is going on doesn’t hold Gillen back and he and his artist Rafa Ortiz do a marvelous job in telling something so depressingly horrible in such a good way without being as exploitative as possible, something this series is extraordinary guilty of.

It’s only one arc Gillen is doing but I’m sold on it. I’ll be back next issue to find out wait horrible fate awaits poor Lion….

What I thought of Crossed +100 #4

Thoughts about #1#2 and #3.

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This issue starts with a concise history of the world from the Crossed outbreak to the present day of the comic. It’s a pretty fascinating thing to see Moore extrapolate what Garth Ennis set out into something still the same, but vastly different in that Moore is trying to take it further to a point where humanity has found a foothold on the planet again. Moore’s vision is more hopeful than Ennis’s bleak vision of the end of the world.

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There’s also an interesting use of Islam here as religion still exists in this world, but it’s become a vastly different strain to the type of Islam practised in all its forms today. It’s good to see Moore taking religion on as apart from Ennis, you rarely see anyone touching upon religion in Crossed as it gets in the way of bad writers hacking out some gore and rape.

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And then Moore does a pretty explicit sex scene between two people that care for each other, which is rare for a Crossed comic as normally sex is either purely titillating or it descends into rape. This is a nice little scene that adds to the character of Future Taylor. Moore also comes up with the best name for an arse ever…

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I am going to use the term ‘bottom boobies’ all the time now.

Anyhow Future gets some answers to the mysteries she’s found so far in this series, but these also open up more questions.

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Moore also reveals Judaism and Christianity didn’t adapt to a post-Crossed world, but Islam did, and it’s things like this that raise this run of Crossed above the normal issues which are at best pretty poor when not written by Garth Ennis.

The Crossed only pop up in the video tape found in an earlier issue, and they’re acting very strange indeed, but the main priority is sweeping areas of Crossed so the communities building up linking up with each other can be free of Crossed.

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Moore’s built up the horror is dribs and drabs. Most of this series has been about building up a future of the planet infected by the Crossed, but all the time there’s a feeling that something is coming and its going to be horrendous.

A quick word about Herb Trimpe

Two years ago today I started this blog. One of the very first blogs I wrote was about trying to get American comics in Glasgow during the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and in that blog I mentioned that the very first American comic I bought with my own money was a Herb Trimpe dawn issue of The Incredible Hulk.

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I loved that comic, but for reasons I don’t need to go into now I no longer have it. For the last couple of years I’ve been meaning to search it down to add to my collection, but I’ve never actually done it. Tonight I heard that Herb Trimpe died at the age of 75, and I’m gutted.

Trimpe never got the plaudits he should have, but for people of a certain age his portrayal of The Hulk is the definitive one, even more so than Jack Kirby’s. He drew The Hulk for what seemed forever, but I never tired of his work. Sure, he’d sometimes have some awful inkers, scripts and turn in the odd duff page, but as a superhero comics artist he was immense.  He’s also famous for being the co-creator of Wolverine.

For me, his best work after his run on The Hulk was a four-issue Machine Man mini series inked by Barry Smith published by Marvel Comics in the 1980’s, but he did so much that has mainly sailed into history. He also co-created Captain Britain in a mainly terrible run, and he drew Marvel’s Godzilla comic they published in the 70’s and 80’s, not to mention what is probably dozens, if not hundreds of fill in issues on dozens of Marvel’s comics.

So thanks for all the fun over the years. I hope now he gets the just credit for helping form the Marvel Universe that he should.

What I thought of Daredevil episodes 10-13

After the last set of episodes I was pretty excited for the final four episodes and on the whole they don’t really disappoint but although there’s more positives than negatives, these episodes are wonderful but exceptionally annoying at times. Before I get stuck in again, as usual, huge massive spoilers ahead.

After the end of episode nine, Daredevil has been given the beating of his life, plus his partner, Foggy, has unmasked him revealing his secret identity; something Foggy doesn’t especially like as he now realises the scale of the lies Matt’s been telling him for as long as he’s known him. In this episode we get a lot of flashbacks to Matt and Foggy meeting at university, becoming friends, drinking, chatting up girls (including a massive line dropped that shows Elektra is definitely on the programme’s agenda)  and deciding eventually to go into partnership to fight for the little guy in Hell’s Kitchen.

It’s a decent episode though Foggy’s anger at Matt is just a wee bit too contrived for it to really convince but the actors do as good a job as they can, though the script doesn’t quite work in this episode. This basically sets up the final episodes with a separate main trio of Karen, Matt and Foggy all trying to work out what to do next as Wilson Fisk consolidates his grip on Hell’s Kitchen. Unfortunately for Fisk at a reception he hosts for the great and good of New York, it turns out someone has poisoned the drinks and that Vanessa, Fisk’s girlfriend has drunk the poison and passed out.

Episode eleven and twelve outline how Vanessa recovers but for a couple of episodes Fisk is just sitting around useless in a hospital waiting room as people around him scheme his downfall. His Chinese allies have their operation stopped by Daredevil (in a fight scene well directed by former Doctor Who director Euros Lyn), while Karen and journalist Ben Urich have tracked down Fisk’s mother in a nursing home but as she’s suffering from dementia, she doesn’t provide any useful information apart from telling them that Wilson murdered his father. Unluckily for Karen, Fisk’s mother manages to tell Wesley, Fisk’s assistant, that she was visited by Karen and Ben. Leaving Fisk without telling him where he’s going, Wesley kidnaps Karen,points a gun at her and offers her a job. Foolishly for him, he leaves the gun on the table thinking that even if Karen picks up the gun, she’ll never use it. She does. Wesley is shot dead, and Karen legs it after cleaning up fingerprints and throws the gun in the river.

Meanwhile Matt has tracked down Fisk’s tailor, Melvin Potter (AKA The Gladiator) and after a small fight discovers Melvin is being blackmailed by Fisk, but he promises to help him if Melvin makes him a special suit. More of that in a moment…

A lot happens in episodes eleven and twelve. Vanessa is poisoned, recovers and moves in with Fisk having now fully embraced who and what he is. Major supporting characters are killed:Wesley by Karen and Ben Urich by Fisk. Matt’s secrets are found out by Foggy and he eventually tries to come to terms with who and what Matt is.  Basically, there’s an awful lot of plot and characters become big broad strokes at times but as we reach the final episode things don’t look good.

The last episode starts with Urich’s funeral. An event that eventually brings the trio of Matt, Foggy and Karen back together in order to bring down Fisk before he becomes too powerful to stop. Luckily one of the crooked policemen from the first half of the series still lives and is being protected by Fisk’s accountant Leland, who is keeping him alive as collateral against Fisk as Leland is stealing from Fisk. He also poisoned Vanessa. Thinking he’s got the upper hand Leland tries to leave New York, but Fisk kills him. Before Fisk’s men kills the corrupt policeman who’s evidence would bring Fisk down, Daredevil turns up to save him. He tells him to turn himself into one of his friends in the police he can trust, and Nelson and Murdock will represent him in court.

This unleashes the authorities to arrest  everyone connected to Fisk, or at least all the people they know about but they manage to nick Fisk though not before he’s given Vanessa instructions.

As Matt, Foggy and Karen celebrate in Josies, their local bar, they find out that Fisk’s police escort has been intercepted by Fisk’s troops and that they’re trying to free him, and whisk him out of the city. Matt sets out to stop this happening but not before he picks up that suit from Melvin..

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It’s not a bad version of Wally Wood’s classic design, but that mask annoys me. It does look better on the screen, but it’s decent enough, but I hope they tweak a few things before we see it again.

Daredevil manages to stop Fisk’s truck, and the pair have a massive climatic fight in a dark alley, and Daredevil manages this time to reverse the result of last time the pair fought and he beats Fisk, in every sense. As the series ends Fisk is in prison, Matt, Foggy and Karen are back as friends and are trying to make Hell’s Kitchen better, and Daredevil is finally accepted as a hero by the people of the city. It’s a great ending setting up more Daredevil in the future

So what of the series as a whole? Well, the first six episodes are fantastic and although the rest of the series is of a high standard, it’s not of the same quality as the first half of the series. As a whole it is fantastic and Marvel’s insistence on casting good actors pays off big time here, though the scripts need tightening up so that it decides if it’s grim crime drama or superheroics, rather than trying to straddle the pair. Also, for a programme based around lawyers there needs to be more of Nelson and Murdock defending people in court using the system to protect them. Then there’s the costume that needs a bit sorting out here and there, but really it’s minor stuff. Daredevil is a fine attempt to bring Bill Everett and Stan Lee’s creation to life, not to mention it bodes well for the future Netlfix Marvel series, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and then all four combine in The Defenders.

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I’d highly recommend this. It’s got me sucked into Netflix as well so now I’m going to finally see what the fuss is around Breaking Bad, a programme I’ve not seen a second of….

 

What I thought of Daredevil episodes 7-9

I’ve managed to get through the first six episodes fairly quickly but sadly real life is intruding on watching all of the Netflix adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil, but I will see it before its ruined for me! As I don’t fancy spoiling this for anyone, as usual, big massive spoilers ahead….

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After the end of episode six Matt has seen Fisk wipe out the Russians with help from his Chinese mobster allies, plus Matt now realises that vast parts of the media and police are in the control of Wilson Fisk. As episode seven opens we’re introduced to Stick (grumpily played by Scott Glen), the Frank Miller created character that trained Matt in how to use his powers and become a kick arse ninja superhero. This allows a bit of flashback action à la Arrow and it’s not quite as effective as some of that series due to the fact the plot set in the present day is more interesting than the past, but that aside it’s a chance to offset Matt’s moral centre with Stick’s.

This is due to the fact that he’s returned to stop some villainous weapon called The Black Sky obtained by Fisk’s Yakuza allies to do something very unpleasant to Hell’s Kitchen. After a fight scene (there’s a lot of those this episode) Daredevil discovers The Black Sky is a child and Stick intends killing him; something he stops but instead of sorting things out he stomps off in a giant flounce enabling the script to kill the child off camera and therefore reducing the impact a tad of how terrible a weapon (and this is the first real major hint of superpowers beyond Matt’s abilities in the programme so far) The Black Sky is. It’s an odd choice considering the brutal violence a few episodes earlier and in the following episode. There’s also a massive bit of foreshadowing about Matt being trained as a warrior in a ‘Great War’ still to come, for readers of Frank Miller’s run in the 80’s they’ll know right away this is The Hand.

The next episode is a Wilson Fisk focused episode dealing with his childhood in 1970’s New York. On the whole this is a far better episode after the patchy previous episode as it paints a simply dismal picture of Fisk’s life as a child as an abused child suffering under the fist of his abusive father, though his mother tries to protect him she ends up being beaten too. We learn Fisk’s father Bill, tried running for the local council but failed to be elected owing money to a local mobster. One night things turn out for the worst as Fisk’s father beats his mother so severely that Wilson grabs a claw hammer and beats his father to death in a pretty nasty scene. To lay on the grand guignol his mother tells Wilson to fetch the saw so she can cut his father up and dump in the river. It’s a brutal, if possibly cliched story of how a young boy became a monster but it’s effectively done. By the end of the episode we feel sorry for the child Fisk but as the adult Fisk finally reveals himself to the city as a millionaire philanthropist rather than the monster we know he is, there’s little hope that Daredevil can fight this man, something emphasised in the next episode.

Episode nine is yet another episode where Daredevil takes a total kicking; this time at the hands of Nobu (like the restaurant) the leader of Fisk’s Yakuza allies who happens to be a kick arse ninja.  Fisk decides enough is enough, and a trap is laid as the kindly old Hispanic woman Matt, Foggy and Karen have been helping in her problems with her slum landlord is murdered by a junkie hired by Fisk.The junkie only tells Daredevil where he’s supposed to be and although he doesn’t go into the deserted warehouse where a trap is obviously being set all guns blazing, he does quickly get the living shite kicked out of him by Nobu who he only manages to stop by killing him, breaking Matt’s one big rule.

At this point a lesser drama would leave it here, but the makers of Daredevil pile it on as Wilson Fisk, his assistant Wesley and a heavy turn up to confront a badly beaten and serious bleeding Daredevil. After an attempt to fight Fisk, Daredevil is beaten to a pulp, and left to be executed by Wesley and the heavy, but Matt manages to jump out the window into the river and escapes. At the same time Foggy is trying to see if Matt’s in his apartment after drinking with Karen, but there’s no answer at Matt’s door, but Foggy can hear strange noises inside so he manages to get in and finds Daredevil in a bloody heap on Matt’s floor. Foggy unmasks Daredevil to find out he’s really Matt Murdock and there ends episode nine.

These episodes are really the most ”comic booky” of the series so far with superpowered child weapons, ninjas and mysterious powers everywhere, not to mention that classic superhero cliche, the unmasking by a friend/partner/relative. On the whole it’s all done so well that you don’t notice the creaks in some of the dialogue at times (especially in Stick) or the odd duff performance (the injured corrupt policeman could have been played by 13 stone of mince and nobody could notice the difference)  because the entire thing just cracks along.

I did mention previously that the makers have decided not to credit Wally Wood, the creator of the famous red outfit and the double DD logo, but they could do worse than crediting Will Eisner as at times it feels less like a Daredevil story and a story of The Spirit, one of the big influences of Frank Miller whose run this draws heavily from and who’s DNA runs deep in this type of superhero. It’s not a huge thing as Miller has always credited Eisner at every opportunity but it’d be nice in this age of a supposed new ‘creator friendly’ Marvel Comics that people got their due.

But that’s an aside. I seriously recommend this series but I’d have though after the 17th time Matt takes a kicking he’d actually be in the red suit by episode nine!

Next time, I’ll do a rundown of however many episodes I get through tonight…