Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Season for Doctor Who

Just a quick couple of things on the latest season of DOCTOR WHO on BBC America.

Everybody who follows the show already knows that the Doctor's companions, Amy & Rory will shortly be exiting the program.  A new companion will quickly be put in place and we'll have to give her a chance.

The first two episodes of the season were great, as you can't go wrong with a Dalek episode and dinosaurs on a spaceship are pretty cool.  On the other hand, I was rather disappointed with the third episode (shown this past Saturday), "A Town Called Mercy". 

There were some nice elements but it just seemed like they needed something to show The Doctor has been under some strain and to reinforce the notion that he needs a companion(s) to keep him in check.  Both David Tennant and Matt Smith have shown that given too much time alone the Doctor can forget the 'humanity' and humility that he needs.  Besides those moments the episode was nothing special and had that 'haven't we seen this before' feel.  You could almost have put Kirk, Spock & McCoy down in the middle of Mercy and had pretty much the same show.  For me, it was probably the weakest DW episode of the past couple of seasons.

As there are only a couple of episodes left with the Ponds, I have my fingers crossed that things improve.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: The Jakarta Plot

Despite the fact that the Joe Bob Briggs site hasn’t posted a new review for well over a year, I’m still finishing up the books I have. There should be three more after this one, I believe, but at this point I think I may have lost track of which books JB sent me and those I’ve picked up at cons.

While I’m at it I want to apologize again for posting so seldom but I have listed the reasons before. Hope you will forgive me and drop by every so often to see if I have actually blogged.

The Jakarta plot – R. Karl Largent; published by Leisure Books
ISBN: 0843945680

When you read these books you have to wonder how many ex-CIA agents are running around. Also, why does it seem the Agency always has to bring them back in to perform actions the current crop can’t seem to accomplish? I’m just asking.

Largent’s book is quite good, even though his hero, former agent Gideon Stone does seem to question himself a bit more than necessary. Stone is likable and I’m assuming that Largent will be bringing him back, if he hasn’t already (as the book was published back in 2006). One of the weaker elements is that some of the secondary characters, and there are dozens, never seem to really have any back-story, or any that we learn. We feel sympathy for them when they are injured or killed, but that’s because of how it affects Stone and not because we genuinely care about them. An odd thing is that this is truer of members of Stone’s team than of individuals on the opposing side. For instance, we know more about a native crewmember on a barge, used in a later mission, than we do about several servicemen who accompany Stone on his first rescue attempt.

When a group of Communist terrorists capture and hold captive U.N. delegates of an international meeting on the island of Java, including the U.S. Vice-President, the CIA is asked to attempt a rescue, while not admitting it publicly. Led by the popular Bojoni Sawak, the Bandung rebels demand that the current leader of their country step down and recognize the Bandung as the legitimate government, otherwise, the hostages will be executed one by one. With Stone already in the area, working to recover some documents lost when a civilian airliner is blown up, it’s an easy move to have him head up the assignment. Since he is an expert diver and former black op, you know that the ultimate rescue will involve at least some of those skills. When the initial attempt goes badly wrong, leading to the death of two of the group and the VP still hostage, the stakes rise. Stone has to get his team into the terrorist base, perform his mission and get everybody out alive. Complicating matters is the threat by China that any overt American intervention would be considered a provocative action and might lead to that country becoming involved.

As is typical of this type of book, Largent brings in a lot of technical information on the equipment Stone and his team uses. Interesting to a point, but it does make this reader skim over paragraphs of this stuff in order to get to the main action. If you are more into this Tom Clancy sort of thing and especially if you are interested in deep-sea vehicles and helicopters you might want to tack a half-star onto this. Overall I give this a solid -

Three stars

Do they really need a reason? Marvel Now & the 'new' New 52

As if keeping the continuity in mainstream comics wasn't difficult enough, given the number of 'events' that occur on a semi-annual basis in the Big Two, both have decided that a total reboot of their "universes" are necessary.  To be honest, we all know it comes down to orders from Disney & Time/Warner that sales need a boost even when the licensed film franchises are raking in millions for each company.  The monthly titles are just not generating enough to hold up their end, so something needs to be done to get the suckers...er, fans/readers interested again.

Last year DC's "FLASHPOINT" event led into the New 52, where all the company's books were cancelled and fifty-two titles were put in their place.  A third of them seemed almost half-hearted jokes to appeal to a small segment of fans, while the rest were basically Batman/Superman/Justice League tie-ins that had a built in audience that was likely to continue or even grow.  Well, it seems not so much.  So, of course, we get all the books getting a new first issue (or #0) or something like that, with some books spinning off from those and others ending.  I've given up caring on all but a few titles and may let this be a great time to drop all my DC buys.  I have "Court of Owls" and whatever the Teen Titan/Legion Lost cross-over was called to thank for helping me cut just about everything from my pull-list. As much as I was enjoying the two LoS-H books and Synder's BATMAN, I didn't appreciate feeling like my arm was being twisted to pick up related titles I didn't care for to begin with.

I know next to nothing about the current Marvel universe, having dropped all those books about six issues into the 'Heroic Age' era/event.  I had hoped that it really was going to be a positive push after the heavy stuff at Marvel from CIVIL WAR onward.  Sadly, it was pretty much more of the same, with most titles seeming to be little more than hand-wringing over what had happened the previous couple of years and waiting for the next event to get things going.  Wasn't the Sentry supposed to come back or something like that?

Apparently somebody, mostly likely not even directly involved in actually creating comics, decided that another short-term sales boost was necessary and since a reboot had gotten press and sales for DC, why not try it at the "House of Limited Ideas".  All I know is what places like Bleeding Cool, and a few other sites have had leaked to them and nothing I've read makes me care a whole lot.

Right now I'm down to Veritgo's AMERICAN VAMPIRE (with assorted tie-ins) and the occasional Marvel Zombie mini-series when it comes to titles from what were once my favorite publishers.  Dark Horse, IDW and Image (believe it or not) are the companies that are getting the majority of my comics cash nowadays.  From what I am reading and hearing I don't see that changing any time soon.