Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Week in Geek (22-28/02/10)

Buys

Three more Hong Kong spectaculars for the collection, including Tsui Hark's Zu Warriors, Chang Cheh's Five Element Ninjas (it's a Venom film, so bound to be hilariously homoerotic), and Dennis Law's Fatal Contact. To show I like western action films too, I got the Dirty Harry collection at a very good price. So that's Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact and The Dead Pool in the pipeline (in fact, I've already flipped one, see below).

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: Finished Hustle Series 4, the last of the series available on DVD at the moment. I thought things would get dodgy without Adrian Lester's Mickey Stone in the mix (he returns in Series 5), but it gave Marc Warren's Danny Blue a chance to take up the leadership and change the style of the cons a little bit. Rap star replacement Ashely Walters as Billy Bond grows on you, but tends to mumble his lines (once again, I point to the lack of subtitles on these DVDs). One of the best bits this series is that the cast goes to America (Hollywood and Vegas) which is a great place for them to be. The DVD has a fun making of concentrating on those two episodes.



What do you do when you wake up at 4 in the morning with insomnia? What we USED to do is watch whatever movie played on the local tv station. I recreated that this week by putting Dirty Harry, just the kind of movie that might have aired late at night, into the DVD player. I hadn't seen it in years, and probably never with the nudity. I was struck by it's B-movie, cinéma vérité style, plunging the viewer into near darkness for long stretches of time. To me it screams 70s cinema, even though it was made at the very start (1971). It holds up thanks to two performances: Clint Eastwood's defining role as Dirty Harry, of course, but also Andrew Robinson (who will always be Garak to me) as the nutsy Scorpio. The DVD features an insightful commentary by Clint Eastwood expert Richard Schickel and various documentaries and interviews, most of which feature material about the other Dirty Harry films (spoilery!). There are nice pieces on the influence the film and character have had and a retrospective on Clint's career, though some of these are more than 15 years old.

On Kung Fu Friday, we watched White Dragon, a wuxia comedy directed by Wilson Yip (who usually works with Donnie Yen). It's a very strange blend of House of Flying Daggers, Naked Gun and Amelie, and I'm not entirely sure it works. It can't decide if it's a touching melodrama or an Airplane-style comedy, and the protagonist (I find that we started Ladies' Month a week early) is unlikable for 80% of the picture. Somehow, it's the silly anachronisms that stuck with us, so we'll remember it as a parody more than an operatic drama. Thanks to Chalif for throwing it in the pot (he got for free anyway). It didn't meet our usual standards, but it still wasn't a Bruce Leespolitation film either.



Cloverfield... Blair Witch does Godzilla... I'd bought it as a Godzilla fan, and find it to be a Gojira for the post-9/11 age. After all, both films exist in the long shadow of a man-made disaster, and relevant disturbing images are found in each. I might be of another opinion had I nauseously seen it in theaters, but on a television, the handheld style didn't cause any queasies. On the contrary, I thought it was a very effective way to make the event seem real, to the point where I didn't know how some of the effects were achieved. The naturalistic acting also helped in this respect, and Hud was a pretty funny character. Director Matt Reeves doesn't skimp on the info in his commentary, and the DVD further includes a making of, deleted scenes and outtakes. Strangely, the trailer they keep talking about isn't included. Is it a TRULY GREAT film? Of course not. But it's more than a curiosity and isn't, to my mind, a "failed experiment". It's a fun and interesting disaster/horror film, that reminded me in a way of 28 Days Later.

Trades: I've been really remiss about reading/getting comics since Christmas, but I can still get into the occasional trade. Been following DMZ in that form, and just read volume 7, War Powers. Haven't read a DMZ in a least lah a year and I still know who each of the characters are, even those who appeared in a single story arc, so I know it's good stuff. In vol.7 (reprinting DMZ #35-41), Mattie seems to become a more active participant in political events, taking up arms and losing some of his journalistic objectivity in the process. Issue 41 has a great story about Zee, as well.




Twitter: On a similar subject, I was using my Twitter account for short (but hopefully sweet) comic book reviews. So no surprise that I hadn't written a single thing in two months. Then I thought, what the hell, let's just use it like everybody uses it. It's all geekery mind you, but it's as much about gaming, movies and tv as it is about comics. I'm a full-on Twit now.

RPGs: Next week is our Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Kickoff Week. Three sessions in 5 days to get a story arc underway. In preparation, our lovable pal St-Pierre has made a Mickey-type character (to be played by Simon Pegg) that due to his tech abilities might go from recurring guest character to TARDIS crew quicker than anticipated (especially since our Time Lord isn't tech-oriented). Which reminds me, the Time Lord still needs tweaking if we're to be ready Tuesday. I've got a player to catch.

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: Only 1, but I'm still reeling from the last couple weeks' murderousness. Taking a few days off this coming week, so should get back on track.

Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
Act I Scene 3 according to Zeffirelli

Star Trek 1178: Deep Space Nine Companion

1178. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion

PUBLICATION: Pocket Books, August 2000

CREATORS: Terry J. Erdmann

STARDATE: Covers DS9's 7 seasons.

TOPIC: An episode guide that covers every episode of Deep Space Nine, plus information on the genesis of the show and the issues associated with each season. Each episode has a list of characters and the actors who play them, a synopsis and interviews with cast and crew that give an insider's look into the production. Black and white photography is supplied for each, and many also feature production design sketches, models and other illustrations of interest. Ideas that unfold across multiple episodes (Rom's role, Vic Fontaine's genesis, the title sequence, etc.) get their own pieces.

CONTINUITY: Each episode gets a medium-sized synopsis. We get a closer look at various design elements, from the map of Bajor used by series makers to the children's books read by Molly.

DIVERGENCES: Alternate dialogue is sometimes given to show how a script might have evolved. It's the closest we'll ever get to seeing deleted/alternate scenes for DS9. Unused designs for the Founder homeworld and other places and objects could also be considered divergences.

ILLUSTRATION OF THE WEEK - The all-Star Trek issue of Incredible Tales (Far Beyond the Stars).
REVIEW: The best of the Companions, to be sure. DS9's production story is told through interviews with everyone and anyone connected to the show, and if it takes more than 700 pages to do so, so be it. Trek nerds may miss the attention to trivia the other Companions had, but other books (the Encyclopedia, for example) can give them what they need. This book is more like a huge DVD extra in which you get the information from the horse's mouth, a look at design sketches, and even deleted scenes (printing unused dialog) The Star Trek DVDs are uniformly overpriced and under-extra-ed, and could have taken their cue from work like this. Compared to previous efforts, the DS9C is printed on glossier paper, and though it's still in black and white, it more than makes up for it with loads of sketches, mostly by John Eaves, and briefly seen design elements. It's a great resource about the show, at once an episode guide and a "tell-all".

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What if... Doctor Doom Had Become a Hero?

We've had a number of Phoenix Forced characters on What If?, but for the first time in issue #22, we get the opposite. What if a villain had become a hero? Why did it take so long? Are we perhaps more ready to accept corruption as a force for evil than redemption? Heroes are born good, but can be corrupted, while villains are born evil and tend to remain so? Once you go bad, you never come back? Whatever the answer, What If? #22 dares to say that Victor Von Doom was not always evil and that circumstances made him a villain. Even Fantastic Four writers have been split on the issue, so you'll have to decide for yourself. Here then, is a case for the defense...

What If Vol.1 #22 (August 1980)
Based on: Fantastic Four #5/Annual #2
The true history: When they were university students, Reed Richards tried to warn Victor Von Doom that his calculations were wrong. Doom didn't listen and went ahead with an astral projection experiment designed to find his mother's soul in the afterlife. It exploded. He was scarred for life. Bitter and full of vengeance, he wandered the Earth, and was taught sorcery by Tibetan monks who forged his armor. He went home to conquer Latveria and plague Richards and the Fantastic Four again and again.
Turning point: What if Doom listened to Reed Richards?
Story type: Side of the Angels
Watcher's mood: Baked couch potato
Altered history: On this Earth, Doom listened to Richards' warnings and asked him to help revise his calculations. His experiment is a success and he learns his mother's soul in hell's grasp. As a bonus, Richards manages to shut down the machine before it blows up and destroys Doom's face. He still leaves university, looking for a way to spring his mother's soul from the netherworld. Once again, he reaches the monks, but this time, he is a good man, not filled with bitterness and hate at humanity and Reed Richards. They make him a golden armor more fitting to his outlook.
Doom is born. Yes, because "Doctor" was the word filled with evil connotations in his original moniker. His first order of business is practising a ritual that saves his mom's soul (he seems to have found the answer during his travels, perhaps thanks to a prettier face and friendlier attitude). Armed with both science and magic, he then flies to Latveria to depose the evil Prince Rudolfo who put his mother to death in the first place.
Wounded, the Prince doesn't accept Doom's mercy, and Victor becomes Latveria's new ruler. He immediately busts the gypsies out of the dungeon, including his beloved Valeria, who has no reason to turn away from him. Wedding plans start being made, while Doom also creates a better life for the relatively primitive Latverians.
Unemployment? What unemployment? However, Mephisto isn't too happy about having lost Doom's mom down there, so he threatens to take all Latverian souls unless Doom either gives up his own life OR that of the love of his life.
Tragedy only really requires one ingredient: Hubris. Doom figures the world cannot suffer the loss of a brilliant mind such as his, so he let's Mephisto have Valeria. But from then on, Doom locks himself away to find a way to get her back from the devil's clutches. Once a year, at midsummer, there's an opportunity, but each year he fails. How many more, asks the Watcher. How many more?
Books canceled as a result: None, and had Mephisto not intervened, Doom might have ADDED a series to the early Marvel.
These things happen: John Byrne attempted to make Doom at least a little bit noble, in his way, as he continued to try to free his mother's soul from hell. Mark Waid upended that by having him murder Valeria and sell his soul to the devil. She had it coming on both worlds, I guess.

Next week: What if the Hulk had become a barbarian?
My guess: An axe the size of Texas

Star Trek 1177: Remembrance

1177. Remembrance / Rules of Behavior

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #31, Malibu Comics, December 1995

CREATORS: Leonard Kirk / Jason Levine (writers), Leonard Kirk / Scott Sava (artists)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows Rules of Diplomacy #1)

PLOT: In Remembrance, Dax goes back to the Klingon homeworld to take part in a ceremony to honor the fallen Kang and Koloth. Soon after she arrives, Kor is poisoned by the Albino's granddaughter, but Dax saves him. Toral of the Duras then ropes the granddaughter into planting bombs at the ceremony site so as to kill both their enemies. Dax and Kor are on the look-out, however, and stop the assassination plot before going ahead with the ceremony. In Rules of Behavior, Dax learns from her old boyfriend that an alien sect obsessed with the purity of body is on a joined Trill killing spree. She has a holographic version of herself give a speech at a conference and it is attacked. She and Gwyn then run down the cultists and Dax hopes their people, provisional members of the Federation, will not release them.

CONTINUITY: Kor appears for the first time since Blood Oath (in flashback, we also see Curzon's blood oath and of course, the Albino was in that same episode, as is the reference to his discarded wife). Toral of the Duras is here seen between Redemption and The Sword of Kahless. Gowron and Kahless (Rightful Heir) host the ceremony. Marc Okrand (Klingon Dictionary) provides a page of translations. Dax's old boyfriend and his Klingon partner were first and last seen in DS9 #18.

DIVERGENCES: Jadzia says she doesn't like blood wine.

PANEL OF THE DAY - EXTERMINATE!
REVIEW: From the outside, it looks like Malibu's DS9 license was running out at this point, so they started throwing in every story they'd paid for. This issue is #31 and double-sized, as will be the final #32, and the back pages announce both an Annual and Worf Special coming out the same month. To start with, Remembrance is a fine story, full of characters we know and love, a link to a past episode, and great art from Leonard Kirk. Dax/Kor stories are always good, and this one's no difference, with a real Klingon feel to the locations, rituals and language. As for Rules of Behavior, also a Dax solo tale, I'm less enthusiastic. Interesting colored pencil art by Scott Sava, but there's not a big reason to bring back Gwyn and the tale seems to end flatly. I think the alien cult is an interesting lot with intriguing beliefs, but they won't be explored beyond this, and hardly are at that. It's ok, but by this point, you'd like to see some of the other characters in the cast.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kung Fu Fridays in March: Ladies' Month

I've been preparing this for a while, but never had four movies on the shelf I knew to be female action star vehicles at the same time. So My Young Auntie was worked into another month, and I'm sorry to say Michelle Yeoh isn't represented. Sigh. So all my picks for March seem to be swordplay pictures, not that there's anything wrong with that. People invited at to the apartment this month will be able to enjoy...

Chocolate - I haven't seen a Thai action movie by Tony Jaa's crew that hasn't been absolutely kickass. She's sweet but deadly!

Legend of the Black Scorpion - Zhang Ziyi stars and so gets featured on my poster for March's films. The epic is inspired by Hamlet, so might it show up in my other blog?

The Legend of the Shadowless Sword - It feels like I'm doing another Asian Tour, what with this one being from Korea. I don't know anything about ancient Korea, but I bet it's pretty cool. Anyway, I have a real weakness for anything "shadowless" since Iron Monkey.

Come Drink With Me - We end with a classic Shaw Bros. film, one of the first in the genre, featuring a young Cheng Pei-pei you might recognize as the evil Fox in Crouching Tiger.

So let's look forward to the last month of winter and to some truly kickass martial arts heroines!

Movie Marquee Friday: There's a Comic Book Feel

A scream of attack, a block of violence...
The period isn't hockey, it is of only...

Trade a period for a two, twice the boredom and the humiliation...

Top secret files unlocked for our benefit...

One is white, the other is black...

The hot Chinese desert makes me thirsty...

The Nazis are planting their standards...

We live in a world of ghosts...

Star Trek 1176: The Rules of Diplomacy

1176. The Rules of Diplomacy

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Celebrity Series - Rules of Diplomacy #1, Malibu Comics, May 1995

CREATORS: Aron Eisenberg & Mark Paniccia (writers), Leonard Kirk (artist)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows issue #30)

PLOT: As part of his Starfleet entry tests, Nog is sent to Ferenginar with the son of a Klingon officer as a guide and diplomat. Nog keeps the Klingon out of trouble, though he's less naive than he seems. They return to Deep Space 9 good friends.

CONTINUITY: This story features Nog strongly. Nog knocked over some quadrotriticale (The Trouble with Tribbles). One Ferengi is selling weapons from Capella IV (Friday's Child).

DIVERGENCES: None.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Whiny Ferengi combat training.
REVIEW: Great fun! Though essentially a series of set pieces set on Ferenginar (which it's nice to see more of), what holds them together is a well-written Nog using his wits to help the young Klingon not get fleeced, while also making him give the Ferengi a good report. Eisenberg knows his character well and makes him shine (prefiguring his role as a super-cadet on the show), and both he and Paniccia tackle the subject with a sense of humor without ever having it devolve into farce. One of the better DS9 comics I've read.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Human Target: It's a Comic Too!

No Human Target this week, but last week was "Lockdown", which was more Game of Death/Die Hard than Prison Break (as I had surmised from the preview clip).As usual, I'm happy if there are fun stunts and fight scenes. Chance enters a high security building from the top and must escape with the engineering nerd he's been assigned to rescue from the evil corp who wants to use his genius for war.
Cool fights: Close quarters fighting is still the order of the day. On this episode, elevators!
Crazy stunts: Chance parachutes onto a specific ledge on top of a specific building.
Crazy Guerrero: Can't stay in cuffs for long, not even as a ruse, even while in FBI custody.

So what am I gonna do without Human Target on tv this week? How about dig out the Human Target's first Action Comics back-up? Sorry to say, I don't have his very first appearance from 1958's Gangbusters #61, but 1972's Action Comics #419 is a lot easier to come by. At any rate, Action 419 is the first appearance of "Christopher Chance". Let's call Chance the Earth-1 Human Target, shall we? And interestingly for fans of the new show's pilot, it ALSO features a high speed train heading to San Francisco.
That's what happens when when Chance pulls on the emergency break while the assassin is running on top of the wagons. So that's another similarity between TV Human Target and comic book Human Target. They're both baaaaaaad mo-fos.
CONFIRMED!

Star Trek 1175: Sole Asylum, Part Two

1175. Sole Asylum, Part Two / Enemies & Allies, Part Two

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #30, Malibu Comics, November 1995

CREATORS: Mark Paniccia / Mark Paniccia and Tim Russ (writers), Rod Whigham and Terry Pallot / Rob Davis and Aubrey Bradford (artists)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: A Cardassian scientist takes pity on Tom Riker and tells him he's an individual and that using the transporter cloning technique to create duplicate soldiers would be wrong. She is overheard by another, but that scientist agrees with her. The Cardassians don't want to trade Riker for Sisko's offer of a mineral-rich planet, an offer that makes them think there IS a secret to this Riker. The scientist invents a story about him being from an alternate universe instead (which may well be true, after all), confirmed by her unknown ally. Sisko knows he can't win, so he leaves. All this makes the Cardassians think Riker ISN'T special after all, and they stop experimenting on him, sending him to a labor camp instead. In the back-up, the data chip under Mirror Tuvok's skin is extracted and consulted, but it only contains lies and a virus that immobilizes the Klingon ship. Tuvok and Bashir escape with the help of some Klingons who think their corrupt Alliance is about to die.

CONTINUITY: See previous issue (Thomas Riker, Mirror Universe).

DIVERGENCES: See previous issue (Thomas Riker).

PANEL OF THE DAY - Some Cardassian fauna and flora.
REVIEW: Part II of Sole Asylum is disappointing. It takes more than 10 pages before anything new happens as various characters tell different character what they were told last issue, and recaps of relevant episodes abound. The end is good and doesn't disrupt any television stories that might have yet to be written (they never were), but it's a bit of an anti-climax. Should have been told in a single issue. The back-up story is rather talky, but more active than the the previous installment. I saw the Trojan horse a mile away, but the final twist of Klingons rebelling against a decaying Empire reminded me of Mirror, Mirror, which is an interesting way for it to go. So one story goes south, but the other goes... uhm... north.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cat of the Geek #50: Félix

Name: Félix Albert
Stomping Grounds: My youth
Side: Evil
Breed: American shorthair
Cat Powers: Razor-sharp claws. Not afraid to run after you if you try to escape. Can cross town to return to old stomping grounds.
Skills: Eat 7, Sleep 7, Mischief 6, Wit 5, Munch on Firestorm comics 6
Cat Weaknesses: Adverse to purring. Never even tried to attack the Chinese food delivery boy (a big hello to Rob Tam). Renal failure, sadly.

Star Trek 1174: Sole Asylum, Part One

1174. Sole Asylum, Part One / Enemies & Allies, Part One

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #29, Malibu Comics, October 1995

CREATORS: Mark Paniccia / Mark Paniccia and Tim Russ (writers), Rod Whigham and Terry Pallot / Rob Davis and Aubrey Bradford (artists)

STARDATE: 48979.1 / Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: Thomas Riker is being experimented on by his Cardassian captors to learn the secret of transporter cloning a man. Sisko is sent to Cardassia Prime to negotiate his release before they manage to create cloned armies. But a Cardassian scientist wants to stop the experiments too... In the back-up, Mirror Tuvok and Bashir are captured by Klingon forces who want the data chip hidden under Tuvok's skin...

CONTINUITY: Thomas Riker (Second Chances) was captured by the Cardassians in Defiant. Mirror Tuvok appeared in Through the Looking Glass. Mirror Bashir also appears.

DIVERGENCES: Thomas Riker's story is different in Imzadi II.

PANEL OF THE DAY - So Star Trek Online is kind of a flop, eh?
REVIEW: I'm stoked about seeing a Tom Riker story. Everyone wonders what happened to him after the events of Defiant and this answers some of the questions. That the Cardassians would try to use him to further their own ends is perfectly natural, as is that a beautiful lady Cardassian would leap to a Riker's defense. Good art too, showing us different vistas for Cardassia Prime. The back-up is pretty insubstantial at this point, but is notable for Tim Russ' participation. That and the good-looking art. But that's it really.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Live and Let Die: d10

Being the fourth profile on the polyhedral life our favorite dice. This week: The d10.d10 isn't like the other dice. While it can serve the function of hit die and damage as well as any other, it can also complete itself by being rolled with a twin. As soon as RuneQuest came out with percentile-based skills, d10 achieved its true destiny.

Real name: Pentagonal trapezohedron AKA deltohedron AKA decahedron
Nickname: Percentile dice. To prevent players from cheating by "switching" the color of their tens and singles, manufacturers offer true percentile pairs:
Uses: Rolling Fighter hit points. Longsword damage. Skills in RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, etc. DCHeroes/MEGS' main engine. World of Darkness. Cyborg Commando's d10x. 7th Sea/Lot5R's Roll and Keep. White Wolf. I.C.E.'s many many many tables (and a shout-out to MERP fans!).
Beloved because: Legend of the 5 Rings' exploding 10. The baddest doubles in DCH. Easy to spin. Required for when you want to roll on a huge number of possible outcomes or very specific odds.
Hated because: The ominous "0" that represents the number 10. I.C.E.'s many many many tables. Dice sets that don't have two d10s of different colors.
Biggest rival: Zocchihedron, the so-called 100-sided dice.

Star Trek 1173: Friend and Foe Alike

1173. Friend and Foe Alike

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #28, Malibu Comics, September 1995

CREATORS: Dan Mishkin (writer), Leonard Kirk and Terry Pallot (artists)

STARDATE: Unknown (between The Adversary and The Way of the Warrior)

PLOT: Gul Endor comes to DS9 for peace talks and is promptly shot by the Maquis. Ro Laren is seen fleeing so it is assumed she did it. O'Brien hunts her down while Bashir tries to save the life of the Gul. She explains she's there to stop a more radical member from assassinating the Gul and blowing up Deep Space 9. Ro and O'Brien team up and stop the Maquis, and then Ro escapes.

CONTINUITY: Ro Laren would last have been seen in Preemptive Strike. Dukat appears.

DIVERGENCES: This encounter with Ro is never mentioned in the DS9 sequel novels.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Staking out the head.
REVIEW: I'm a huge Ro Laren fan, you know that. Is this issue worthy of her? Meh. On the one hand, I do like how she is still trapped between Starfleet and Maquis values, seen to be untrustworthy by both sides. The more things change... On the other, there's not a whole lot of meat to this story. O'Brien tries to find her, then does, and then they go looking for a third person... There's no real excitement, even when there could be, such as when Ro escapes in a small ship while two Galor-class ships are right outside! And when there's an (attempted) assassination in Ops, it doesn't make the cast look good at all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Doctor Who RPG: Suicide Squad Campaign

I was looking at a paragraph in the DWAITAS rule books about playing aliens and that you can't play a "good" Dalek, but what about an evil one? Then it hit me: Doctor Who Suicide Squad!In this new campaign idea for the Doctor Who role-playing game, your players take on the roles of various criminals and rogues from the Doctor Who universe, forced to take part in missions by their wardens. These bosses could be anything from pre-Time War Time Lords or the Shadow Proclamation (someone can play the hardass Judoon captain in charge of the sorry lot), and part of the fun, just like in the Suicide Squad comics, would be trying to get the better of them. How can your manipulative Sabalom Glitz further his own agenda while also surviving the bosses' mission?

Doctor Who has lots of established villains you could pull out of history to serve a sentence as a Player Character, but I can hear you asking: Aren't most of them dead? It's the Whoniverse, so time travel has got to be a part of the equation. Have the Celestial Intervention Agency or whoever pull them out of time just before they are killed, and then return them (or a facsimile body) a frame later! Or create Your Own Characters(TM) thanks to the many evil, nameless, faceless creatures from across space and time. A dalek is a dalek is a dalek, and the same can be said of Cybermen, Sontarans, Zygons, et al. And it's not like their personalities differ much anyway.

An example Whovian Suicide Squad? How about...
A Judoon captain to keep the others in line (let's call him Ro Flo in honor of Rick Flag)
Count Grendel
Eldrad (must live)
Sharaz Jek (we need a loony)
And a Dalek (you know, for the diplomacy stuff...)

What would be your team of Whovian villains?

Star Trek 1172: Blood & Honor

1172. Blood & Honor

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Celebrity Series - Blood & Honor #1, Malibu Comics, May 1995

CREATORS: Mark Lenard (writer), Leonard Kirk, Ken Penders, Terry Pallot, Scott Reed and Larry Welch (artists)

STARDATE: Unknown (between Through the Looking Glass and Improbable Cause)

PLOT: Romulan ambassador Jannek is on DS9 for talks with the Bajorans when a mysterious artifact is brought back from the Gamma Quadrant by Dax and Ensign Jamie Samantha Kirk and people start being knocked into comas near it, though some suspect Romulan attacks. A cell of the Circle steals it and Jannek, to show the Romulans aren't behind the theft, follows the crew to Bajor to retrieve it. The artifact knocks out the cultists and then releases the last Organian. His time in our universe is about to end, and he wants to commit the Federation and Romulans to peace, as once he did with the Feds and Klingons. Jannek had been sent visions of this. He asks for Ensign Kirk to become liaison to the Romulans so he can forge that peace as the Organian fades away.

CONTINUITY: Dax mentions the events of Blood Oath (Curzon also knew Jannek). Jannek is the descendant of the Romulan Commander in Balance of Terror. Jamie Samantha Kirk is likely descended from one of James Kirk's nephews (sons of George). The Circle is once again risen (last time was in DS9 #17). Ayelborne of the Organians first appeared in Errand of Mercy. And watch for that Morn cameo!

DIVERGENCES: None.

PANEL OF THE DAY - Oh Doctor Bashir, I bet you say that to all the girls.
REVIEW: Allowing Star Trek actors to write specials is a marketable idea, but the results could be iffy. Case in point Mark Lenard's Blood & Honor. There's a lot going on here - characters descended from one of the characters he played in TOS and Kirk, the Circle, a strange artifact, something of a "murder mystery" - but it's too much for anything to feel anything was truly resolved. Why is an Organian in a Gamma Quadrant artifact? Whatever happened to Jannek and Kirk and that new peace? Why doesn't the Organian put a spell of peace on the two powers like in Errand of Mercy? Why does the Circle change gears and go from attacking the Romulans to going all culty on the artifact? What was that business with the bad gagh? Where did Dax sneak off to after the promise of a Curzon/Jannek reunion? And so on. Too many ideas for one issue, and the ties to the past just seem plugged in. It's not bad by any means, but it feels unfinished.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Week in Geek (15-21/02/10)

Buys

A couple more films to add to my Asian cinema collection. There's Dragon Tiger Gate. Because Donnie Yen, that's why. It's all I ever need, really. And "The Godfather with a Hing Kong flavor!" (oh quotes from critics about Asian films, will you never learn?) Triad Election. Replace Donnie Yen with Simon Yam in the previous reasoning and you've got an accurate idea of my frame of mind.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: Fell sick in the middle of Murder Week (PURRRR-FECT! GRRRR!), so I crashed on the couch, slept some, but also got through Hustle Series 3. If the quality of stories went up between 1 and 2, it stayed more or less the same from 2 to 3. Which isn't a bad thing. 2 and3 might as well be the same "season". Perhaps a little less kick in its series premiere than 2 or even 1, but the rest is quite good. More fantasy bits - silent film, Bollywood - and that's welcome. The DVD also includes 18 minutes of bubbly interviews with the cast. Fun, if largely insubstantial. I do wish these DVDs had more to offer in the way of extras (or as I said last week, subtitles).



Big Finish Doctor Who audios: Robert Ross' Pier Pressure is an odd little audio play that, I suppose, is more interesting to those who Max Miller is. The Brighton comedy legend is no one to a North American like me (Roy Hudd is apparently famous for impersonating him). Wiki further informs me that the young actor called Billy who gets a scene in the play is meant to be William Hartnell. Again, lost on me. But the reason I find it odd is that it's initially far more concerned with the 1930s entertainment scene than it is with its evil god possession plot, so much so that I kept expecting the whole thing to be a hoax. Though the audios let you imagine practically any visual, Pier Pressure is the equivalent of a cheap episode. Everything seems hokey and melodramatic, so my imagination couldn't conjure up more than cheap sets and effects. Enjoyable, with some clever dialogue, but I doubt I'll remember it in a few weeks time.

Time Works by Steve Lyons has a great idea behind it - a world where time is a religion, and the clockwork men work between seconds to keep everyone in check. There's a fun bit about Charley and C'rizz trying to prevent the 8th Doctor from being killed while they're trapped in a moment in time, and the clock vocabulary of the citizenry is quite clever. One of the best 8th Doc audios in a while, I dare say.






Books: The first book I ever edited just came out last Friday. It's not gonna be of any interest to readers of this blog, of course, but I'm extremely proud of the author, the oft-named Carolynn, and her History of the student federation I work for. I had first edit on this 150-page page turner (no really, it's extremely compelling to people who've studied in Moncton over the last 40 years, the history really does come alive, I'm not just spouting clichés), and the cover is based on a quick design I did, though a professional graphic designer put it together better than I could for the final. The first of many publications for Carolynn, but as for me, it kinda gave me the "bug". I wanted to be an editor at one point, but never really pursued it. But I think it's something I'd like to do some day. Or write. The experience certainly taught me about the process, from research to finished product, and that it's doable. Soon as I quit my job, soon as I quit my job...

Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
Act I Scene 3 according to the BBC (Derek Jacobi)

Star Trek 1171: Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion

1171. Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion

PUBLICATION: 2nd ed., Pocket Books, May 1995

CREATORS: Larry Nemecek

STARDATE: Covers TNG's 7 seasons and Generations (the 3rd ed. adds all movies through Nemesis; the 1st stops before Season 7)

TOPIC: An episode guide that covers every episode starring the TNG cast plus Generations (and all films eventually), plus information on the genesis of the show and the issues associated with each season. Each episode has a list of characters and the actors who play them, a black and white picture or two, a synopsis, stories about its production, and links to the broader continuity. At the end of the book, an index of writers and actors.

CONTINUITY: Each episode and film gets a short synopsis.

DIVERGENCES: Rick Berman is quoted as saying that Voyager will not be the "one trip to the well too many".

PICTURE OF THE WEEK - Hot Worf
REVIEW: Following in the footsteps of the Star Trek Compendium, the TNG Companion is a much better product. In fact, I bought it twice (1st and 2nd ed.) though the info on the last movies wasn't particularly impressive, so I didn't spring for another. Why is it better? For one thing, it's more complete. The Compendium listed characters' appearances, but the Companion tells you who played them. Each season's production team is likewise given credit. Design-wise, the synopses and behind-the-scenes info is clearly delineated, and there's more of the latter. There's some critical review there, but it's so slim as to be non-existent. Instead, we get differences from script to screen, opinions of production team members and cast, and lots of cross-referencing between episodes. Unlike the Compendium's "this is what everyone remembers and you should too" approach, we have a book that's at once more trivia-oriented, chattier and that makes good, concise use of interviews. So it tends to have more surprises. Even a lame episode like Sub Rosa, for example, has twice the background info The City on the Edge of Forever did.