Review by C.J. Bunce
How did the Empire power all those Star Destroyers anyway?
The new, Disney era of Star Wars story continuity begins today with the release of the novel Star Wars: A New Dawn. Fans of the Star Wars tie-in novels shouldn’t be disappointed with this new story and completely new characters living in that galaxy, far, far away between the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Its primary draw for those fans willing to give the new Star Wars a chance is the introduction of a trained Jedi named Kanan Jarrus and a mysterious Twi’lek named Hera. But its best success is in author John Jackson Miller’s world building (or galaxy building)–one with more lead female characters than male.
In the galaxy that George Lucas built, the rarest creature to be found was a woman, whether a human, a rebel, an Imperial, or an alien. Miller does not skip a beat to redefine Star Wars from chapter one. We meet a black female captain of a Star Destroyer named Captain Rae Sloane, a character who could be on her way to be the next Mara Jade. She’s young but smart, and exactly the kind of leader a government led by Emperor Palpatine would need to conquer so many systems. Unlike even the original trilogy, including its often bumbling stormtroopers and officers that fail to follow their Dark Lord’s orders, the personnel building the Empire in A New Dawn don’t make the same mistakes.
Sloane works for a typical Star Wars villain, Count Demetrius Vidian, a cyborg like Darth Vader and General Grievous, which would lend us all to believe a defining piece of Star Wars is a dark cloaked bad guy who has already been blown apart a few times. The word survivor does fit Vidian. He is a decisive imperialist, precise, unyielding and villainous–everything you want from your Star Wars bad guy.
Review by C.J. Bunce
With the historic reboot of Doctor Who in 2006 and all of Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat’s world building since then with Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and their five companion voyagers– what if the creators have been holding back? What if we haven’t seen nothin’ yet, if all these great science fiction episodes were all leading up to the real payoff with the 12th Doctor? I got that feeling last night with only the second Doctor Who episode of the season. This new Doctor is here to stay, and the writers are driving full steam ahead, plunging Clara (Jenna Coleman) and the Doctor straight into the darkness without giving us a chance to breathe.
We’ve heard it before: Resistance is futile. But this time the phrase is not about Star Trek and the futility isn’t about we humans, as the new Doctor stumbles into his latest encounter with one of his most hated borg nemeses: The Daleks. With “Into the Dalek” Steven Moffat has created what I am sure we’ll look back on as an episode up there with the David Tennant episodes “Waters of Mars” and “Silence in the Library” or Matt Smith’s “Cold War.”In only his second outing as the Doctor, Peter Capaldi is already comfortable in the role he was destined to play since his days sending fan letters to the BBC as a young boy. With last week’s season opener “Deep Breath,” we were introduced to Capaldi’s Doctor in a typical Doctor Who post-regeneration episode–part with the Doctor learning to “love the skin he’s in” while also getting a taste of how his companion is going to adapt, wrapped in a Tanagra/El-Adrel IV story.
WELCOME TO EARTH-4
A Weekly Column with J. Torrey McClain
I just finished my third book written by Cormac McCarthy. The first was Blood Meridian, the second was No Country for Old Men, and the third was The Road. Reading McCarthy is unlike any other literary journey I’ve taken. What will I remember from reading The Road? Bleakness. Emptiness. How man can become a monster. Not that different from the others I suppose, but it led me to a question – where does hope come from?
In all fantasy, science fiction and apocalyptic tales generally a hero emerges. A man or a being similar to man steps to the fore and as a reader I can pin my hopes upon him (or rarely her as even coming up with female sidekicks was a chore in the series that popped off the top of my mind. Amy Pond. Leia. Gamora. Uhura.) Superman. Wonder Woman. The Doctor. Sheriff Rick Grimes. Tasslehoff Burrfoot (or the more heroic but less fun Tanis Half-Elven.) Frodo Baggins. Luke Skywalker. Rick Deckard. Groot. Mr. Spock.
Through these characters and many more like them we can find the possibility of averting crises. We can see a proverbial light at the end of the darkening and constricting tunnel. Survival, though bleak, has a chance.
I think McCarthy likes to explore the world where there are no heroes. There is only survival and to survive, horrendous choices must be made because after the apocalypse, scarcity rules. A person cannot go back in time. A person cannot till the earth by himself, trying to bring non-irradiated soil to the surface. A ring, a starship, a building or an artifact cannot be destroyed through the hero’s quest. There is only the earth. There are only Homo sapiens. If something happens, powerful heroes won’t emerge, instead it will just be the basest urges within us all that come forth.
Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?
What’s better than when all the new TV series line up just right? This coming Fall the networks have at least one great genre series every day of the week returning, including several new supernatural crime dramas: the CW’s Flash, ABC’s Forever, BBC America’s Intruders, Fox’s Gotham, and NBC’s Constantine. Well, the networks have at least one genre show per day except Thursdays, so it’s not exactly “just right.” But we could use a day off from TV anyway. And isn’t that what DVRs are for? Strangely enough, nearly all of these series have a supernatural crime element of some sort, with plenty of superheroes and time travel, too. Interesting.
Below we have the best of the Fall line-up with trailers for all but NBC’s Grimm.
Haven, Season 5 and its 26 brand new episodes begin Sunday, September 11, 2014, on the Syfy Channel. Here is a preview of the new season:
Sleepy Hollow, Season Two, begins Monday, September 22, 2014, on Fox, following the new Gotham series. Here’s a trailer for the new season of Sleepy Hollow:
We have a variety of previews today, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite Comics. New series include a monthly based on the TV series, Bob’s Burgers. Another features a tie-in to the Alien universe, with Prometheus: Fire and Stone. A third series based on NBC’s Grimm begins this week with Grimm: Portland, Wu. And Matt Wagner’s anti-hero Grendel finds his way to 1930s New York in Grendel vs The Shadow.
Tomorrow, Dynamite is publishing the first Bob’s Burgers comic book series. Based on the animated show, it will be written by Rachel Hastings, Mike Olsen, Justin Hook, and Jeff Drake, with art by Frank Forte, Brad Rader, Bernard Derriman, and Tony Gennaro. And Grimm: Portland, Wu is a one-shot written by Marc Gaffen and Kyle McVey, with art by Daniel Govar.
From Dark Horse, Grendel vs. The Shadow features a story and art by Matt Wagner. Grendel will find its way to store shelves September 3, 2014. Also from Dark Horse, Prometheus: Fire and Stone, with a story by Paul Tobin and art by Juan Ferreyra, hits comic book stores September 10, 2014.
Check out the four previews, after the break.
Review by C.J. Bunce
Somewhere around the halfway mark of the new movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a fun action flick comes together. If you can get to that point without falling asleep. With the modern special effects this movie should not have needed to have been compared to the original 1990 film version. Unfortunately the slow start and less-than-appealing villains keep this one from the top tier of this summer’s would-be franchise blockbusters.
So what’s worth the admission price? First off, Megan Fox. Not for a second does she flinch from a strong portrayal of April, the well-known friend of the Turtles. She delivers even the silliest lines as if she’s playing serious drama. And the film is better for it. Although the perpetually young looking actress may be typecasting herself with films like the original Transformers and this similar action genre entry, she may also be simply carving out a niche she’s darned good at.
The biggest failing of Iron Man 2 was the “annoying guy” played over and over in movies by Sam Rockwell. That same caricature is in TMNT, but played by Will Arnett, who I have not seen before simply because I don’t watch his admittedly popular series including 30 Rock and Arrested Development. Here he offers what seems like an impersonation of the Night Shift and Batman era Michael Keaton, and it’s some funny stuff.
Antonio Banderas is not someone you might think of as star of sci-fi or futuristic tales, but evidently this is one he’s had in play for a while. He’s producing and starring in his next feature film–taking inspiration from Isaac Asimov short stories his new Automata looks a bit like Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence meets Elysium or District 9.
Something about the variety of low-end tech robots and independent film vibe might show some promise, but it also may reflect a low production quality film, too. It’s hard to say whether this is a poorly conceived trailer or reflective of what we’re going to see in the theaters. We’ll be waiting for early reviews before jumping in to see this one.
Automata also stars Dylan McDermott, Melanie Griffith, and the great Robert Forster. Gabe Ibáñez directs.
Here’s the trailer for Automata:
Battlestar Galactica in 1880? As a graphic steampunk story? Steampunk Cylons? You bet. Today, Dynamite Comics launches its new series Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880, taking an alternate universe look at the popular 1978 and 2004 sci-fi television series characters. And for even more sci-fi fun, our favorite borg is back this month in a new issue of The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six–with some familiar “faces”.
If classic pulp noir reads are your thing, you’ll want to check out our preview of the new Dynamite Comics series Justice, Inc. The Shadow is back, this time with The Avenger and Doc Savage.
After the break, take a look at previews for each of these new books, courtesy of Dynamite Comics, available at comic book shops everywhere today.
Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880, Issue #1, features a story by Tony Lee with art by Aneke. The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six, Issue #5, is written by James Kuhoric and art by Juan Antonio Ramirez. Justice, Inc., Issue #1, has a story by Michael Uslan and artwork by Giovanni Timpano.