Thursday, 29 September 2011

Steps Reunion: A Blast From The Past

I'm old. I didn't realise quite how old I had become until last when I watched Living's latest show "Steps Reunion". It's been 10 years since Steps broke up! I cannot begin to explain how much of a soundtrack to my youth Steps music was, but here are a couple of examples. Last Thing On My Mind came out as I was exploring my sexuality and falling from crush to crush at an amazing rate. Stomp was THE song that defined my relationship with my first boyfriend. I cannot listen to it without thinking of him and the fun we had. When Steps broke up I was very sad. A few days later I ran away to Europe. Coincidence? I think so. But still... I loved them deeply. I thought Living's show would be rubbish, really fake and all just a thinly disguised lead into them on stage performing a few songs. I was wrong. Of course it is somewhat "fake" but I found it gripping viewing. This first episode was basically about discussing what led to the break up (some internal jealousy, Claire and H being diva-ish and H having a rather unprofessional relationship with the band manager) and checking up on what the five members have gotten up to since. The footage of their last concert, occuring mere minutes after Lisa, Lee and Faye found out the band was no more, was really engrossing as what may have been seen as tears of joy at the time became somewhat more significant and touching. The idea that they finished the concert, left and never saw each other again was pretty mindblowing. Such a major and successful band just falling apart in the space of hours. Amazing. I'm looking forward to next week's episode when the five members begin to discuss what happened. Drama ahead I suspect!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Terra Nova: My Impressions

My most anticipated media event of 2011 has finally arrived! Terra Nova hit US television last night with a "two hour" (i.e. an hour and a half) opening episode.

So what did I think?

The overarching themes are a bit tired.

1) Future humans found new colony. Earth 2, Outcasts etc have all been there before. This shows going to need to be top quality going forward to overcome the rather tired premise.
2) The same old family format. Estranged father. Check. Rebellious teen boy. Check. Relationship struggling after a long separation. Check. Teen girl going all doe-y eyed over an older guy in uniform. Check. Rebellious teen boy following hot girl into dangerous situation against father's advice then needing to be rescued by said father. Check. I could write this stuff myself!
3) Paradise having a dark side. Please God, we've done this one since Genesis! (which is the name of this opening two parter).

So yes, the show has a lot of baggage to get past long term. As an episode, this was enjoyable. Relatively well-paced, and if you ignore the clichéd themes there was some decent writing. The character of Skye seems a bit more layered than the usual rogue girl  leading leading character astray stereotype. I'm interested in what the rebellious off-shoot group the Sixers are up to and just what the actual reason for Terra Nova's existence is. However, the CGI could've been done better. I've seen better in Primeval. The brachiosaurs looked good, the carnotaurs were okay, but the main dino-villians the Slashers were extremely poorly done. In the end there were dinosaurs so that's a huge plus point in my book. 

If they can break free of the clichés and bring a fresh take to the story, the family relationships and the paradise lost motif it might just be an excellent show. But if the writers just play the same old tired tunes, I won't be keeping up with it. It's 2011. I want more than just by-the-numbers sci-fi drama. 

Saturday, 24 September 2011

And This Week In Comics....

Batman #1 

Awesome. I'm not a Batfan. I get my dark, stern crime-fighter fix from Judge Dredd. But I must admit that this New 52 opening issue really hit the ground running. Excellent art, and brilliant cliff-hanger. I remain pleasantly surprised by the quality and freshness of these new DC books. Definitely my pick of the week (against my better judgement...)

Supergirl #1 

I plan to becoming a Superfan. I really like the ethos of the Superbooks, and I have a secret soft spot for Supergirl as I am that one person who has fond memories of the movie. Don't hate me. This was a good opening issue but not sure about bringing Superman into the story at the end. Thought it would've been better to let Kara established her own story before bringing them together. But I'll stick with this.

Ultimate Comics: X-Men #1

Wow. If Batman hadn't ended the way it had ended, this would be my pick of the week. Absolutely excellent. Last week's Ultimate Comics: Spiderman #1 was my first ever furore into the Ultimate universe, and this X-Men book makes me glad I've left it to now. Wonderful opening book, with a fantastic cliffhanger. I cannot wait for the next issue!

Catwoman #1

I wasn't going to read this book, I just didn't have the urge. But the controversy that has been spawned sort of forced me to get it. It was okay. And sure Catwoman was full on sexy throughout the issue, and yes she had sex with Batman, but I think the whole controversy has been over done. But I won't be likely to get #2.

Nightwing #1 

Bizarrely Nightwing is my one Batverse guilty pleasure. I've had a crush on Nightwing since I first discovered him. And this comic was really enjoyable, a great entry point for new readers with Dick Grayson's return to the circus where his parents died and an excellent ending with both a "hero in peril" cliffhanger and a question over just what his assailant meant when he said Dick was "the fiercest killer in all of Gotham". Linked into that Batman cliffhanger perhaps?

Green Lantern Corps #1 

I've always regarded Green Lantern comics as for real DC geeks. And this issue hasn't changed my opinions. I thought the characterisation was good, but the overall story? Dull, unaffecting, and considering the story is genocide I have to say that's pretty poor. This is on my "On probation" pull list.

Wonder Woman #1

I have never read anything with Wonder Woman in it. Of all of DC's characters, I know the least about her. My only experience of Wonder Woman is the classic TV series, which I guess hardly does her justice. I was pleasantly surprised with this issue which might have made pick of the week status if it wasn't for some of the godawful, pointless internal monologues. I'll stick with it though as the story is interesting, the art divine and the overall feel was fresh and new.

Birds of Prey #1 

Given I'm not a Batverse fan, this is yet another Batbook. Perhaps I doth protest too much. An average book this one, but okay enough to make me buy #2.

Captain Atom #1 

Given the freshness of most of DC's New 52 (well those I've read) this felt like a totally by the numbers 1980s superhero comic. A volcano. In New York. Whilst his powers are possibly failing. Oh no! The peril. Probably won't be picking this one up again...

I still have Beyond The Fringe, Star Trek #1 and Orbit (about Stephen King) to read but am pretty much all comic'd out. All I will say is DC's New 52 has been remarkable enough to get me 1) back into comics and 2) off my Marvel obsession. Well done DC!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A Marvel Boy's Look At DC's New 52

My name's Jae and I'm a Marvelholic. I've been one since the age of 11 when I discovered the X-Men and I've never looked back. I've flirted with harder stuff, Dark Horse and Image, and with lighter stuff like IDW and had full-blown affairs with 2000AD but Marvel comics have always formed the centre of my comic obsession. DC, of all the big comic publishers, has rarely featured at all. Sure I own the hardcover Killing Joke, the collected 52 and some other Batman stuff. But ultimately the complexity of the DC universe and it's unfamiliar characters has kept me at arms length.

All that appears to have changed with the New 52, DC's latest reboot. I decided to give DC a fair go... and I'm liking what I'm seeing. Here's some reviews of the stuff I've read: 

Justice League #1

Whilst Justice League is completely alien to me, Batman, Green Lantern and Superman are at least characters I know and thus I found myself enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would. Green Lantern is young and impulsive, Batman is intelligent and experienced and Superman... well he just seems pissed off (and hot!). The art is excellent and I'm definitely going to be picking up issue #2 next month. This just felt so accessible that I thought... let's try some more!

Action Comics #1

I really enjoyed this introduction to Superman, still learning of the true extent of his powers and a little too cocky. The ending definitely has me wanting more but... the art was middling. This is meant to be a young, immature Superman but sometimes he looked like he might be in his forties. I just didn't feel the art complimented the story at all. Alas... I'll still be getting #2. 

Stormwatch #1 

Intriguing. This is the first book populated by characters I don't know. This did make me feel slightly disconnected from it but I want to know more... who is the Midnighter? What is the giant eye in the Moon? I'll get #2 but I think this is my first book on temporary probation whilst I try to get a proper feel for it. 

Batwoman #1

I know her, she was in 52! And she was my favourite character from that collection too... The art. Well, what can you say? It was exquisite. Beautiful. Mmmm... And the story was just vague enough to make me feel like buying #2 to find out a little more. 

Demon Knights #1

I have no idea of the history of any of these characters, nor of the time period it's set in. But I know one thing... I bloody loved this. Dragons that look like dinosaurs. Characters will a bit of verve. A story that took shape pretty quickly. LOVED. 

Superboy #1

Excellent modern feeling art, complimented by a totally new beginning for a character even a Marvelboy has heard of. I was absolutely besotted by this one. Yet another one for the pull list. This is tiring... 

Legion Lost #1

The art got better as the story went along. That's the best I can say. And the story... was alright. There were too many panels with too much text and I felt it was all a bit of a mess. I might give it the benefit of the doubt (I'm a forgiving completist when it comes to comics) but probably won't be pursuing this one.

Overall... I've been very impressed. 6 out of 7 comics were excellent and definitely grabbed me. Marvel's comic output is becoming a bit of a mess right now, and I think with this new relaunch DC stand a good chance of grabbing a good deal of my attention for the foreseeable future. Very, very good stuff indeed.