Monday, 28 February 2011

Battle: Los Angeles

We posted the trailer a while ago, I know, but here it is again:

Storyline goes:
For years, there have been documented cases of UFO sightings around the world – Buenos Aires, Seoul, France, Germany, China.  But in 2011, what were once just sightings will become a terrifying reality when Earth is attacked by unknown forces.  As people everywhere watch the world’s great cities fall, Los Angeles becomes the last stand for mankind in a battle no one expected. It’s up to a Marine staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) and his new platoon to draw a line in the sand as they take on an enemy unlike any they’ve ever encountered before. There are also a couple of rather tasty quad posters:

Everything kicks of March 11th!

Flesh Returns!

As high concepts go, Pat Mills's genius idea of having time-travelling cowboys harvesting dinosaur meat in prehistoric Earth for a hungry future populace must rank with the best of them!

After more than 30 years, one of very first strips to appear in 2000 AD is to return in bloodsplattering,
eon-spanning dinosaur-hunting glory.
Dino-terror classic Flesh is to return to the weekly comic with Prog 1724, out on 9 March.
Written by the series‟ original creator, Pat Mills, and drawn by James Mckay, the new series is the
long-awaited sequel to the much-loved original Flesh – part of the line-up in the very first issue of
2000 AD in 1977.

Penned by Mills and drawn by Spanish artist Boix, Flesh was a futuristic Western where timetravelling
ranchers farmed dinosaurs like cattle and sent their meat back to a hungry future.
The dinosaurs fought back and destroyed the Trans-Time base – the new series follows the survivors
as, stranded millions of years in the past, they are ordered to drive their herds across the prehistoric
American landscape to Texas – where another base promises safety ... and profit!
The new series will premiere with a stunning gatefold cover by Death’s Head II and Testament artist
Liam Sharp.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Drop Dead Gorgeous review

After reading Simmons’s previous novel (well, not exactly 'previous'… I shall explain later) Flu, I was looking forward to reading Drop Dead Gorgeous. Flu was the previous novel to this one, but this novel had been previously published and this edition is a slightly reworked reprint… so Flu is kind of the second novel, not this one… None of which matters at all, of course!
Like Flu, this novel also has a high concept idea behind it. With Flu it was a zombie apocalypse, whereas here Simmons has asked himself: what if 99% of the world population dropped dead one morning?

There are a number of surface similarities with Flu: the cast of disparate characters and the Belfast setting, but it is a very different book. The Belfast setting works a lot better in this book than it did in Flu. This is, I think, is because here Simmons is not afraid to use some big city landmarks- The Europa Hotel or The Victoria Centre for example, which instantly gives it a strong sense of place.
The characters are all well realized and not necessarily likable- in fact most of them are not. Even the one that could conceivably be called the main character- a tattooist called Star- is highly unlikeable at times. It’s nice to see characters in this sort of novel behaving like real people, and not transforming into some kind of super resourceful survivor overnight as they tend to do sometimes…
What I enjoyed most though, was that Simmons resists the urge to explain anything. Even when, in the final act of the book, 'Things' start to happen and the writer obviously knows what they are, he doesn’t bother to tell us. I’m sure there are some of you out there who want to see what’s behind the curtain- but I am not one of them.
As with Flu, Simmons has a lack of attachment to his characters that is admirable. No one is safe, and this makes for some genuinely shocking moments.
In my review of Flu on another site, I commented on some highly convenient coincidences with the characters. Well, there is just the one in this book, but it works brilliantly to provide an emotional coda to a character arc. And this is all veering dangerously close to spoiler territory for my liking, so I shall stop talking about specifics now.
All in all, this is a fast paced and bloody horror novel. I’m genuinely interested in reading what Simmons does next- I suspect he could be a major new talent.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is published by Snowbooks

Coming Soon: Viking Dead

The Viking Dead

They come to raid, pillage ... and devour!
They were feared throughout Europe as an unstoppable, bloodthirsty and merciless pestilence. But now the Vikings may have met their match – their own undead!
In the latest stand-alone tale from the acclaimed Tomes of the Dead series, it's Vikings versus zombies as Bjólf and his crew encounter terrifying draugr – undead berserkers who feed on the flesh of their kin. Bjólf has no choice but to overcome his own fear, fight his way through forests infested with axe-wielding zombies – and more terrible things – and reach a dark castle where he hopes to find the secret behind this accursed plague.
A blisteringly thrilling debut from the winner of the 2001 Keats-Shelley Memorial Prize, Venables has crafted a heart-stopping tale full of unexpected twists, brutal Dark Age violence, and chilling zombie action!

“Toby Venables wields his pen all sword-like and delivers quirky flashes of fearless text.”
Toby Venables is a writer and lecturer in Cambridge, England. He developed a liking for horror early, watching old Universal movies when his parents thought he was asleep. He has written for various media and in 2001 won the Keats-Shelley Memorial Prize (and spent the proceeds on a Fender Telecaster). He now lives in a secure location with his wife, where he is preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse. The Viking Dead is his debut novel.

14 April 2011 • £7.99 (UK)
ISBN 978-1-907519-68-0
12 April 2011 $9.99/$12.99 (US & CAN)
ISBN 978-1-907519-69-7
Also Available as an eBook

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes review pt4

At last we reach the final part of the Audio Go Lost Episodes review!

We finish with The Savages.

And so this lovely collection comes to a close with this tale. We’ve had a monster story with The Dalek’s Masterplan, an historical with The Massacre and something else entirely with The Celestial Toymaker- so it’s nice that this final story is ticking the sci-fi story box.

There is a great sci-fi idea at the heart of this story. And as we have seen with other Who ideas (The Ark in Space/Alien and a computer virtual world called The Matrix, for example), this one has turned up- albeit in a slightly different form- in a blockbuster sci-fi movie many years later, but to tell you either the idea here or even the movie would be too big a spoiler.
As with the rest of this box set, the linking narrations by Peter Purvis are excellent and go a long way towards bringing this to life. However, I think this is the only one from this set where I did find myself hankering for some visuals whiles listening to it, but I think this was because the narration was so vivid, rather than it lacking in any way.

I would like to mention my favourite idea from the story, but again, I feel I’d be spoilering it too much to do so, but I will say that it does produce some excellent performances from Hartnell and Frederick Jaeger, who plays Jano, the human leader.
I do fear that the casual listener will go through this set and assume that all early Who tales were as strong and/or thought provoking as the ones included here- be warned they are not.
So, this is a strong story with some fine performances. In the end though, I’m not sure if I’m disappointed or proud of the programme makers for not hammering home the point behind the title…

And finally- there is an extra disc in the set which has an hour long documentary which was first broadcast in 2009 on Radio 4. It is an illuminating show, explaining how these audios came about and includes interviews with Peter Purvis and some of the team of dedicated fans and professionals around the world who make it their mission to track down the remaining missing Who episodes.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Attention Gamers- discount code!

Just a quick note for all the PC gamers out there.

Ubisoft are doing a big promotion on PC download titles on the Ubishop (Preorders excluded) – 40% off!  It will end on the Monday 28th of Feb at midnight, and is only for the UK.

The discount code you need to use is: ACB18MARCH

Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes review pt3

Audio Go have just released a boxed set of Lost Episodes on CD. These are stories from the early days of Who where the video has been lost, but the audio track still remains. There are a few stories included in it, so rather than post one big review, I’ll be breaking it down and reviewing each story individually.

Today we'll be looking at The Celestial Toymaker.

Listening to this story, I could not help but imagine what would happen if it was pitched to a television executive today.
This story is so downright bonkers, out there and disturbing that I’m convinced there is no way it would ever be commissioned today.
Briefly- the TARDIS is pulled out of Space and Time by the titular Toymaker, and the inhabitants forced to take part in various strange games – the prize being their lives! As with The Massacre, this adventure also has The Doctor missing from the middle two episodes, but this time the rather delightful reason behind this (as told in the liner notes) is that Hartnell took a fortnights holiday.

So in the middle two episodes, the Doctor is nothing but a disembodied hand as he moves the pieces on the ‘trilogic’ board game he is playing for his life! Meanwhile, companions Steven and Dodo are encountering a series of strange characters. The best among them being the Billy Bunter ‘inspired’ Cyril. He is deliciously played by Peter Stephens, who positively oozes threat and menace, even in the most innocent of lines.
Meanwhile, Michael Gough sparks off Hartnell superbly in the rols of the Toymaker.

While I had been aware of this story, I had never read the it, so came into this blind, and I have to say, the construction of the piece- using Peter Purvis to provide descriptive narration for the action sequences- works perfectly.
This is crazy stuff. It is well worth seeking out and is a worthy addition to your Who library.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes review pt2

(I forgot to post this last night- sorry!)

Audio Go have just released a boxed set of Lost Episodes on CD. These are stories from the early days of Who where the video has been lost, but the audio track still remains. There are a few stories included in it, so rather than post one big review, I’ll be breaking it down and reviewing each story individually.

Next up is The Massacre

This is one of the more serious of the early Who historicals. And with good reason. The real historical incident it revolves around is a terrible one. And one that, as a bit of a history buff, I was amazed that I had not heard of before I first encountered this story in the Target novelisation some years ago. But then- part of the remit of Doctor Who at the beginning was to educate- so job done there, I say!
One of the things that I didn’t get with this story was why the Doctor all but disappears for a couple of the episodes, but the perfectly logical and practical reasoning for this is explained nicely in the concise liner notes to the disc.
And if you really want to know- it was because it was technically very difficult, if not impossible, for Hartnell to play two roles in the show because it was filmed ‘as live’.

Yes, two roles. As well as the Doctor, Hartnell also takes on the role of the scheming Abbot, and plays it with some relish. One gets the feeling he was glad to be able to demonstrate his skill outside the persona of the Doctor for a change.
Peter Purvis takes centre stage for most of this story, and he does it very well, and is ably assisted by a strong supporting cast and some solid writing that conveys the time and place with great skill.
This is a particularly dark tale, with the ending reminding the viewer (or listener in this case) of the Doctor’s alien outlook on us humans in a stark and even a shocking way. There is also a hint of the scheming, all knowing Doctor Who would appear again in the Seventh Doctor era. Again I can’t help be amazed by just how brilliant and complex and scary a character The Doctor is.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Nicholas Courtney RIP

Being big Who fans here at HiEx, the news this morning that the wonderful Nicholas Courtney- Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart has dies has come as a bit of a blow.

We've nothing much to add to THIS wonderful piece, other than to say he will be missed.
Great chap- all of him.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes review pt1

Audio Go have just released a boxed set of Lost Episodes on CD. These are stories from the early days of Who where the video has been lost, but the audio track still remains. There are a few stories included in it, so rather than post one big review, I’ll be breaking it down and reviewing each story individually.

First up is The Dalek’s Masterplan.
This is a hefty set, comprising of five discs in total. The first disc is an oddity, in that it features Mission into the Unknown- an episode of Doctor Who in which none of the regulars appear. It works well as a prologue and is a nice set up for the story to come. The rest of disc one is an interview with Peter Purvis, who played the Doctor’s companion Steven in the adventures in this set, and who also provides the linking narration between scenes. It’s an interesting interview, and Purvis’s opinions are refreshingly honest. Be warned though- if you haven’t yet heard The Dalek’s Masterplan, don’t listen to this first, as it spoilers the story to quite a degree!

Now, on to the main event. This is a very long tale- weighing in at twelve episodes. At this length it is probably too long, and there are a couple of episodes that are pure padding- however things still seem to go at quite a lick and one of these episodes, The Feast of Steven, provides one of the unexpected highlights. This is a Christmas caper were we see The Doctor and his companions visiting a police station and then a Hollywood film set and become embroiled in some film making shenanigans- including starring in a Keystone Cops film (no, I’m not making that up). However, it is the last line that makes it a classic, when Hartnell goes (I suspect) widely off script and wishes the viewers at home a Happy Christmas!

As for the rest of the tale. It is the standard Terry Nation Dalek plot if we want to be honest about it. The Daleks have the ludicrous and meaningless plan to invade the universe. Actually, the plan starts off as invading the galaxy (starting with Earth in ‘The Solar System’), but after a few episodes this expands to destroying the Galaxy and invading the universe. One cannot fault their ambition.
And when they are well written, Daleks are always worth it. So for every time they inexplicably don’t murder someone we get a scene of them debating whether white mice are a threat or not. For every clunky piece of exposition when they explain their plan to each other we get a wonderful line like “You make your incompetence sound like an achievement.”
Hartnell is great, and somehow his fluffed lines add to the charm and even the believability of his Doctor rather than detract from it.  
Some of the other acting is… variable. Purvis is superb. For those of us who grew up with him as a Blue Peter presenter, it may come as a surprise to discover he is actually a very fine actor. This is balanced out by Kevin Stoney, who plays Mavic Chen. His acting is quite woeful for most of the story. Nobody seems to have let him know that he’s not on stage or performing in a pantomime.
Apart from that though (or even because of it!), this is well worth a few hours of your time.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

King Evil

This is a nice little book, written and drawn by Curt Sibling.
The first thing you notice is the dialogue, which is written in a faux- medieval fashion. Which is all very appropriate given the faux-medieval setting!
The main plot is basically a retelling of a classic old fable, but is written and retold remarkably well. There is also a short tale at the end of the book that serves as a bit of world-building, as well as being darkly humourous.
The art is rather good too- reminding me of early Steve Pugh in places.

But don't take our word for it! You can see for yourself, because the comic is free- yes FREE to download on LULU or you can order a hard copy), and will be available to buy at the QMU Comic Fair in Glasgow on the 26th February!

Fallen Heroes interview: Barry Nugent

As promised, after our review of the comic and an interview with script writer Martin Conaghan, we are delighted to present to you the creator of Fallen Heroes, Mr Barry Nugent.

Fallen Heroes started off as a novel, but did you always harbour a desire to see it as a comic?

What I wanted to do with Fallen Heroes was to try and create a modern day pulp adventure but I'll leave it up to the reader to decide how close I came to that goal. It's a globe-hopping, supernatural action adventure with elements of political intrigue, espionage and horror. The novel has similarities to shows like Heroes and Lost in that it contains numerous and seemingly unconnected characters but running in the background is a single story thread that unites them all. The main portion of the novel is about a band of heroes and anti-heroes coming together to derail the plans of a cult which has existed since the first crusade. Although Fallen Heroes is a self contained story this is the first part of a trilogy and I'm currently working on the second book 'Forgotten Warriors'.

I have to admit I harbored no secret desire for it to be a comic for me. It was a huge personal achievement to write the novel and I was happy with that. I also never believed anyone would want to adapt it as a comic so the idea never really occurred to me until I was first approached by Nic Wilkinson. In fact, I'm pretty sure I thought she was joking when she first asked me! 

Why didn't you write the comic yourself and why did you pick Martin to write the adaption?

That's a question I keep being asked both of this adaptation and now the spin offs. The short answer is  I'm not a comic writer.  I have a lot of respect for comic writers as it's a skill I can't seem to wrap my head around, it's like sorcery.  I think if I had worked on the comic myself there would have been a danger of me deciding every plot point, every character was important and must be in the comic, no matter what. I think by having someone different tackle your work they can look at with a much more clinical and less emotional eye which is what I think you need when there's so much material which will need to cut out. It's not an easy thing to do but so long as you keep yourself involved with the process, are willing to speak up if you're happy and the adaptation team is willing to listen then it should be a relatively painless process.

Martin was orginally suggested to me by Nic, when she was creative director at Insomina and it was a good fit from the beginning.  For me the most important thing was for Martin to read the book and be passionate about the project rather than doing it because he had no other projects on the go or would look good on his CV. Technical ability and experience (both of which Martin has) in anything is great but you add passion for whatever it is you're doing into the mix and you're onto a winner. Martin and I talked at length via email about the project but honestly I knew he was right for the role after we finally met at a comic convention. We talked for hours about the adaptation and I could tell he understood the characters, the story and would do both justice. From then on I was sold.

You have a spin off one shot in the works by Cy Dethan- how did that come about?

I consider Cy a good friend and as a writer he's one of the guys I look up to. His gift for storytelling, dialogue and creating believable characters is fantastic.  Cy had read the novel way before any kind of comic adaptation was mentioned and we talked at length about the book as well as chatting about each others future projects. He often said he would love to tackle one of the characters from the book. Once again we were having that same conversation earlier this week and after Nic knocked our heads together I asked him formally if he wanted to do it and he said yes. I think if you've read the novel and read anything that Cy has done then you will know that the character he has chosen to tackle in the one shot is a fantastic fit. I could not be happier.

Are there any more spin-offs planned?

There is definitely one more comic spin off being planned at the moment. I plan to announce that one at the Fallen Heroes panel at the Cardiff International Comic Expo where the comic is launching. All I'll say for now is that it's another great fit for both the character and the writer. Again it was another writer who loved the book and when he heard I was doing a spin-off with Cy got in touch and asked if there were any other spin-offs in the making and by the end of the day there was. I'm hoping that if these go well to do more. 

I would love to expand the Fallen Heroes universe even more and to that end I am now in talks to expand the Fallen Heroes into the world of audio dramas. I can't say anymore at the moment as it's early days and it's still very much in the air and may comt to nothing.

Where can we buy this fine book (comic and novel!)?

Well the comic is being launched at the Cardiff International Comic Expo with myself and the Fallen Heroes artist Steve Penfold signing copies and taking part in a panel being hosted by the awesome sidekickcast to talk about the project. 

We're a nearly at our limit for pre-ordering the limited edition first printing but if you head here you can grab some of the last copies. We are currently investigating the possibility of a second printing. Also GOSH Comics in London will be selling some issues soon, watch the Fallen Heroes Comic websitefor news for that. There is also a digital version of issue #1 coming to the Apple store soon and we are hoping to have more ways to make this comic available to people in the coming weeks.

Thanks to Barry for taking the time to answer our questions. You can catch up with him regularly by dropping by the Geek Syndicate.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Fallen Heroes interview: Martin Conaghan

As you know, we reviewed the first issue of the comic adaption of Fallen Heroes recently.
Today and tomorrow, we'll be presenting a couple of interviews about the book, first up is one with the comic writer Martin Conaghan. Come back tomorrow for the interview with creator Barry Nugent.

How did you get involved in this project?

After I had finished work on Burke & Hare for Insomnia Publications, Nic Wilkinson - who was working as creative director - approached me and asked if I would be interested in taking a look at a novel that the company had secured an adaptation agreement for. I didn't agree to do anything until I had read the book - and when I did, I knew I wanted to work on the graphic novel adaptation of Fallen Heroes. Of course, it's fairly well-documented that Insomnia Publications went to the wall, and Barry was keen to continue with the project, since I had already written 44 pages of script and several pages of art had already been produced by Steve Penfold and coloured by Gat Melvin. So, we decided to approach a few publishers, but after waiting around on decisions rom many of them, we took the step to publish it under our own steam as individual issues before compiling it in collected volumes.

Had you read the novel before coming on board?

I hadn't read it, but I had heard of it - and I was intruiged by the concept. It's not normally the kind of fiction that draws me in - but it has elements from lots of genres that I like; science-fiction, action/adventure, political intrigue and suspense. So, it was a fairly easy decision for me to want to work on it.

How different was it adapting a novel as opposed to writing your own story, or even an historically factual book (Like Burke and Hare)?

With Burke and Hare, there was a conscious effort to get to the heart of the true story, to present the facts and to dispel all the myths and rumours that had been perpetuated about the subject matter. So, in a lot of ways, Burke and Hare wasn't at all like writing a graphic novel - it was more like creating a documentary for television or radio. With Fallen Heroes, it's pure story - the narrative strands are all there on the page. So, I sat down, read the book and I loved it. It's brimming with hoards of well-rounded characters, full of mystery
and subtle plot twists. In terms of adapting it, I have to be honest and say there's not a lot to it - I just note down all the parts that I like, and I try to structure them into a narrative that works well in comic format. Often, it's simply a case of taking Barry's original text and working my way through it - removing the prose that doesn't work in a comic, but which can serve well as panel descriptions for the artist. After that, I break it down into smaller chunks that flow easily, and make sure the reader's experience is in line with anyother comic on the market, with page-turns and split narratives.

How did you decided what stayed and what was left out?

This is ultimately the biggest challenge, because the book is quite lengthy for a first-time novel - so, I've had to drop whole segments that don't serve the comic format too well. Sometimes, there's sections of the book that can be summarised quite succinctly, either with some voice-over style narrative, or by using little Watchmen-esque back-matter pages that fill in the gaps in the reader's knowledge. That's something I'm planning to use a lot of as I write more chapters - photos, articles, newspaper clippings etc. that help the reader fill in the blanks that are expanded on at length in the novel.

Did Barry have a lot of input into your decisions?

Barry has left it entirely to me to decide what to keep in and leave out. We've actually never had any conversations beyond discussing what stuff we both like about the story and the characters. I think Barry
very much views it akin to handing his project over to a television production company, or a movie studio - as long as the essence of his original work is intact, he's happy. Similarly, he seems to enjoy the parts where I've taken a specific scene and produce my own take on it. The important thing with any adaptation is to try and stay true to the original work, but not to do a literal interpretation - we've all seen how that turned out with the Watchmen movie. Prose, comics and movies all have different narrative structures, and it's crazy to try and transplant one from the other and hope it will work in the same way and provide the same experience.

How long have you been working on this project (what I'm wondering is how does it compare, time-wise, to an original book- more or less time?)?

It's definitely much quicker to work on than starting from scratch - because all the material is there, waiting for me to chip away at it and pat it into a comic-book format. I think I said before that I see myself very much as a construction manager or a carpenter - where I take the very detailed plans drafted by an architect and figure out how to build his structure. It's my job to put the foundations in place, pour in the concrete and start assembling the basic structure - so that it starts taking on the shape of a house, with doors, windows

and rooms with walls and ceilings. Steve and Gat then work their magic- plastering the walls, laying floors, wiring up the electricity and plumbing - and decorating the place so that it's fit for habitation.

What are you writing next?

I'm working on a short story for the Bayou Arcana anthology, plus I'm still writing a sci-fi series called Historika for Markosia which should really start taking shape over the coming months, after a few false starts. I'm also considering going back to writing something historical, despite swearing never to do it again after the amount of work required on Burke and Hare.

Thanks to Martin for taking the time to answer our questions.
Don't forget that you can order it into any branch of Waterstones. It's also available on Amazon in both paperback and on the kindle and it's also available on the apple ibooks store

New from Commando this month

Commando 4367


 “Hey, Bluey!”
   — The length and breadth of the China Seas that’s all he was called — Bluey. Gold-smuggling, gun-running, he was a tough guy who took all kinds of chances in his fast old converted MTB to make a quick dollar.
   When the Australian Navy had a tough job to do and needed a guy who knew the China Seas backwards, had smuggling contacts on nearly every island, could handle a gun and take a chance in a thousand — did they look among their own officers? Did they blazes!
   “Hey, Bluey!”

Story: Spence
Inside Art: Cecil Rigby
Cover: Lopez Espi
Originally No 234 from 1966

Commando 4368


Mighty Mike Mansell, top fighter ace, was the guy chosen as test pilot for the fastest aircraft produced for the RAF. The plane was so top secret that it didn’t even have a name as Mike put it through its paces over the remote north of Scotland.
   Yet, despite all the security, the Nazis believed they could get their hands on the plane…and no wonder they were confident. Flying for the Luftwaffe was Mike’s identical twin brother…

Story: Cyril Walker
Inside Art: Cam Kennedy
Cover: Ken Barr
Originally No 417 from 1970, re-issued as No 1355 in 1979

Commando 4369

Swastika Squadron

A bunch of RAF men fighting in planes with swastikas? Traitors, surely, flying German kites?
   Well, no. they were a group of Blenheim crews for whom a ferry flight turned into a fight for survival in planes carrying the sign of the crooked cross.

Story: Norman Adams
Inside Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

Commando 4370


They were a mongrel crew all right. Half-a-dozen men lumped together in a Mitchell bomber for the wrong reason — a propaganda stunt. Though each had a score to settle with the enemy, they were not really expected to fight.
   But, when push came to shove, the mongrels would show they had a bite to match any pedigree hound.

Story: Mac Macdonald
Inside Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Carlos Pino

The big story to go with these issues is not the cracking art and tales from some legends of Commando’s past, but the official release of our apps and digital subscription which will secure the Commando’s future. 

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Crimes of Thomas Brewster

The Big Finish audios have done a lot of good things for Doctor Who. Keeping the series alive during the prolonged period off air was just one of their major contributions to the show. The other is the rehabilitation of the Sixth Doctor.
As any Who fans out there will know, the show was not served well during this era, with massive budget cuts, being shifted around the schedules by a company who (then) had no interest in it and culminating in the ignominious dumping of Colin Baker as the Doctor.
But Baker’s Doctor, who showed flashes of potential on screen, has been allowed to flourish in the Big Finish audios, and this one is no exception.
This story, set on contemporary Earth, also features one of the most interesting companions the Doctor has ever had- Evelyn Smythe. She is a middle aged history teacher and a world away from the screaming teenagers that this ancient alien usually hangs around with. Yes, yes, I know he hangs around with them for audience demographic reasons, but let’s just ignore that, eh?
Anyway- I’ve talked a lot here and not yet said much about the story.
Well, it’s a very clever one- in that it is both a sequel and a prequel to a number of audio adventures that have gone before. Such is the joy of time travel.
The cast are excellent- I didn’t recognise David Troughton at all and only knew it was him when listening to the extras.
As I have said about many of these before, this is absolutely crammed with plot. And by that I don’t mean it is overly complicated , slow and hard to follow, I mean that every second is given over to something important. There is no flab in this tale at all and it covers a hell of a lot of ground from when it literally hits the ground running in the opening scene to the unexpected final one.

Thor trailer!

Wooooo! How good does this look!?
Hey- remember when movies used to be fun? Remember that? Well it looks like Thor is going to be heading in that direction- which is, of course, A Good Thing.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Fallen Heroes review

You may have heard of this already. Originally a novel by Barry Nugent of Geek Syndicate fame, this is an all new comic adaptation by Burke and Hare author Martin Conaghan.
The comic itself has had a slightly convoluted history that we won’t go into here- but if you want to know, keep checking the blog, as we’ll be running interviews with both Barry and Martin over the weekend. </ commercial break>
But onto the comic. First off- lovely cover, and I appreciated the short text intro in the inside, too.
The strip itself starts with a bang- dropping the reader into the middle of an incredibly strange situation with no explanation at all of what’s happening to this characters. If you’re wondering- this is a Good Thing. Both the character and the book itself are instantly interesting as the reader asks the obvious question: what the hell is going on?

We’re then introduced to another character, and this one could not be more different- the high-octane Mission:Impossible style action that fills the rest of the book is great fun. Conaghan writes the characters well and with minimal dialogue.
I’m also a sucker for silent comics- to me (if I may get pretentious for a moment) they are the purest form of the medium, so I was delighted by the many silent passages in this issue.

While the writing it tight, the art is variable. True, it never drops below what I would consider to be a professional standard, but there are a few panels where I felt the artist, Steve Penfold, didn’t quite get where he was reaching for- but the fact that he reached at all is commendation enough. And I have to say that conveying action scenes in a dynamic and kinetic way is a very difficult thing, but Penfold manages to do so here with no trouble at all. And the art being in that slightly loose style I adore helps things along too.
All in all, this is a very good first issue, and I cannot imagine anyone reading this and not wanting to pick up the next one.
So, y’know, read it!

You can buy Fallen Heroes at any branch of Waterstones. It's also available on Amazon in both paperback and on the kindle and it's also available on the apple ibooks store