Batman #36 Review

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Batman #36

Review by Paul Bowler

The Justice League has been infected by a new strain of the Joker’s toxin. Using his armoured Justice Buster suit, the Dark Knight fought back and defeated them. Now the Dark Knight must face Superman, but can even Batman’s skill and ingenuity be enough to defeat this maniacal version of the Man of Steel? The Joker has returned for one final game and Batman will need his closest allies during this darkest hour; as his quest to uncover the Joker’s plans leads the Dark Knight to a shadowy corner of the past infested with terror and madness…

Batman Endgame continues in Batman #36, the second instalment of Scott Snyders and Greg Capullos major story event for Batmans 75th anniversary, and if your thought last issues smack down with the Justice League was epic, then you haven’t seen anything yet! Seconds out, this is round two, and its not just the fan boy dream showdown between Batman and Superman, its Batman vs. Superman by Snyder and Capullo firing on all cylinders in an issue that delivers waves of action-packed spectacle and dark anarchic horror that constantly wrong foots and defies any and all preconceptions that you might have had about this issue.

Yes, it’s a no holds barred, red knuckled free for all of a fight between Batman and Superman! The resolution of this titanic battle is, needless to say, ingeniously devised by Snyder and certainly gives us plenty to chew over for the next time we all have that inevitable discussion about who would win a fight between… Oh boy, the marketing possibilities here are mouth watering! Anyway, back to business Bat-Fans! With the Justice League out of action for the forcible, while the antitoxin Bruce devised to counteract this particularly nasty strain of Joker toxin takes effect, Alfred’s daughter, Julia, pledges to stay on and help as Penny Two. Her scenes with Bruce afford Snyder the chance to bring us further insight into the Joker’s warped psyche – but it is Alfred, still recovering from what happened to him in Batman Eternal, who gets the most rousing line of all as the Dark Knight prepares to assess the situation and deal with the Joker’s return.

Batman #36 (Cover)

Greg Capullo’s art for Batman #36 captures the frantic intensity of every moment in the ground-shaking confrontation between Batman and the Jokerized Man of Steel. You can almost feel the pages trembling as every thunderous punch shakes Gotham’s streets while the Justice Buster suit dukes it out with Superman. The suit still has one or two tricks up its sleeve; despite the pounding it’s taken. Superman’s heat vision also becomes a fearsome weapon, fuelled by the effects of the Joker toxin; it’s used here with devastating effect. Danny Miki’s inks really bring the kinetic fury of this battle to life, with buildings smashing apart, and your have a real sense of being at the heart of the battle. FCO Plascencias colors bring a vividly clarity to Batman’s crimson hued countermeasure, before we explode into daylight and the carnage thunders towards its surprise conclusion.

Right from the opening page, with its throwback to the nightmarish hallucinogenic trip Batman was enduring thanks to Scarecrow’s fear toxin that he was recovering from last issue, there is a hint that something far more horrific awaits the Dark Knight as Part 2 of Batman Endgame begins to unfold. It is perhaps fitting then that Snyder and Capullo take us to the one place in all of Gotham that could survive being dragged back to Hell, Arkham Asylum, now in ruins after the collapse, where Batman looks for some kind of answer into what, for him, is a place that holds a significance that rivals even that of Crime Alley in Batman’s legacy. These scenes in the Asylum are hauntingly ominous, steeped in menacing shadows, and it spins a web of mystery that entwines us with a joke more twisted and dark than anything we could’ve possible imagined.

The inevitable reveal of the Joker and his confrontation with Batman is masterfully handled here, with Snyder piling on the tension, right up to that startling final reveal, were Capullo, Miki, and FCO collectively ensure that this sublime moment of shock and terror will become one of Endgame’s defining moments. Hell, yeah, we’ve missed you Joker and it damn good to see you back!

Batman #36 also features the terrific backup story, Saved, written by James Tynion IV, with art by Graham Nolan, and colors by Gregory Wright, that continues the tale of the five escaped inmates from Arkham that have kidnapped Doctor Zaheer. The inmates have been tasked with telling Doctor Zaheer their stories by the Joker, this time it’s Cordellia’s turn to recount her story as they all take refuge in a restaurant, and it’s an disturbingly macabre tale that belies its everyday setting to become an unflinchingly dark and monstrous descent into madness. The way that this backup story links into the Joker-apocalypse being set up in the main arc of Endgame is brilliantly handled, and poses some really chilling possibilities for future issues.

We’re only into the second part of Endgame but I’m absolutely hooked already. Snyder and Capullo make the Joker so evil and menacing. The fight with the Justice League was just the prelude to the main event, now the real game begins, and this time the Joker is playing for keeps. Batman #36 is a riveting issue from beginning to end, expect the unexpected and then double it, because Endgame is shaping up to be one of the best Batman stories ever!

Doctor Who Death In Heaven Review

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Death In Heaven

Review by Paul Bowler

[Contains Spoilers]

Dark Water (1)

In 24 hours the human race will cease to exist. The Cybermen have invaded London, a new indestructible army built from humanity’s dead. Missy has been revealed as the Doctor’s arch nemesis, the Master! With Danny deceased, trapped in the Nethersphere, an impossible decision looms for Clara as the Cybermen close in. As the Cyber-Invasion spreads around the world, the Doctor joins forces with old friends, but can even the might of UNIT help the Doctor defeat this terrifying alliance between the Master and the Cybermen? The Doctor must his face the greatest challenge of all and difficult sacrifices will have to be made to save the world…

Death in Heaven concludes the exciting two-part series eight finale, as the Cyber-Invasion continues in this special hour-long episode, written by show runner Steven Moffat, and directed by Rachael Talalay. Now that the secret of the “Promised Land” and Missy’s true identity has been revealed, the dark and ominous tone of this this action packed season finale kicks into high gear as Steven Moffat engineers the mother all showdowns for the Doctor and his UNIT allies as they battle the combined menace of Missy and the Cybermen.

Death in Heaven (5)

While Clara tries to deceive the Cybermen that she’s really the Doctor, the Cybermen hidden in the Dark Water tanks at the 3W Institute begin to emerge onto the streets of London, where the Doctor, still reeling from discovering that Missy is his old enemy, the Master, can only look on helplessly as the Cybermen march past St Paul’s Cathedral towards the unsuspecting civilians. Missy encourages people to take selfies with the Cybermen, giving the concealed UNIT forces time make their move, but even though they capture Missy the dome of St Paul’s cathedral opens and 91 Cybermen take to the air – except for one that remains and explodes over London to unleash a deadly cloud of Cyber-Pollen. Missy gleefully informs the Doctor, Kate Stewart, and Osgood the Cybermen will target the other key areas of significant population density in the UK to spread the Cyber-Pollen – something the Cybermen are now doing simultaneously on a global scale in every town and city around the world. As the dark clouds gather over graveyards, funeral homes, and mortuaries, the rain starts to fall and the Cyber-Pollen begins its heinous work – infusing the corpses of the dead and reanimating them as Cybermen.

Steven Moffat rounds off series eight of Doctor Who in fine style with Death in Heaven, building on the deeply unsettling premise established in Dark Water (Where all of Earth’s dead had been transformed into a Cyber-Army, their minds stored in the Nethersphere – a Gallifreyan Hard Drive – were their emotions are subsequently deleted before transplantation back into the Cybermen), to provide a harrowing and emotional roller coaster ride for the Doctor and Clara that will test their friendship to the limit.

Dark Water (10)

Needless to say, Peter Capaldi is superb as the 12th Doctor in Death in Heaven. Here we see just how dark and uncompromising this incarnation can be, and Capaldi delivers an absolutely magnificent performance that will have you on the edge of your seat. Jenna Coleman is also brilliant as Clara Oswald, whose character has constantly evolved over the course of series eight, and the culmination of the events and decisions Clara ultimately makes in Death in Heaven makes this arguably one of Coleman’s best episodes to date.

Death in Heaven also marks the welcome return of UNIT to help the Doctor fight the Cybermen and Missy. Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor has constantly voiced his dislike of the military since his regeneration, which creates a really interesting dynamic here as he’s forced to work alongside the Brigadier’s daughter, Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), together with Ossgood (Ingrid Oliver), now sporting an 11th Doctor style bow tie instead of the 4th Doctor scarf she wore in The Day of the Doctor (2013), and Colonel Ahmed (Sanjeev Bhaskar). The Time Lord takes to the skies as the newly appointed President of Earth, where he is given control of the worlds military forces and is expected to coordinate their retaliation against to the Cyber-Invasion.

Death in Heaven (4)

Its good to see Jemma Redgrave return as UNIT’s chief scientific advisor Kate Stewart, she gets some really powerful scenes alongside the Doctor, even confronting the Cybermen in London where she throws the head of an Invasion style Cybermen – that originally featured in The Invasion (1968) – at the feet of their new counterparts to make her point. When Kate brings the Doctor, the TARDIS, and the captured Missy to a special UNIT aircraft that serves as its secret mobile headquarters (just like her father Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart used in The Invasion), there’s a great scene where the Doctor notices a portrait of Kate’s late father – its a fleeting moment; and one which resonates poignantly with events later in the episode.

Samuel Anderson gives a particularly moving performance in Death in Heaven as Clara’s boyfriend, Danny Pink, the former soldier turned Maths teacher, sent to the Nethersphere after he died, where Missy’s conniving assistant, Seb, sinisterly played by Capaldis The Thick of it co-star Chris Addison, now explains to Danny that he – along with the other minds of the recently deceased stored in this Gallifreyian data cloud – are about to be sent back from what they believed was the afterlife with an added upgrade…

Death in Heaven (8)

Transformed into a Cyberman, the moment where Danny awakens in the Chaplet Funeral Home is genuinely chilling. He saves Clara from the Cybermen at the 3W Institute and takes her to a graveyard, where Danny’s role becomes even more vital, and the groundwork already established earlier in the series really comes to the fore. The traumatic event that caused Danny to leave the army, when he accidentally killed a young boy (Antonio Bourouphael), continues to haunt him in Death in Heaven while his love for Clara remains undiminished, despite her lies, and she becomes his guiding light as he later confronts the most heartrending decision of all.

The army of Cybermen created from the remains of every human being that ever died, is a deeply unsettling concept, and one from which Steven Moffat skilfully wrings every ounce of horror from as we witness Clara stumbling through a graveyard just as the Cybermen begin to rise from the graves. Danny’s Cyber-resurrection in the mortuary is another scary scene that’s sure to send a few chills down the spine before the realisation of who he actually is begins to sink in. The Cyber-Pollen is perhaps the most grotesque use of cyber-technology that we’ve ever seen in Doctor Who, used to weaponise the dead, the Cybermen have created the ultimate form of Cyber-Conversion, and the way its implemented in this episode is truly horrific. These Cybermen also have a new ability, the power of flight, and their chest units emit a scanning beam to try and validate Clara’s identity when she tries to buy herself more time by pretending to be the Doctor – a witty subterfuge that cleverly spills over into the opening titles of the episode to keep us guessing.

Death in Heaven (11)

It doesn’t take Missy long to orchestrate her escape, she ruthlessly kills Osgood, and summons the Cybermen to attack the plane mid-air. I was really surprised when Osgood was killed, and the senseless nature of her sudden death left us with no doubt just how evil and manipulative Missy can be. When the Doctor confronts Missy he’s horrified by what she’s done to Osgood, but when the Doctor receives a call via the TARDIS from Clara whose just discovered that Danny is a now a Cyberman, Missy finally reveals that she was the one that originally gave Clara the phone number to the Doctor’s TARDIS in The Bells of St John (2013), and she also put advert in the paper in Deep Breath (2014). Missy is the person who brought the Doctor and Clara together, the control freak and the man that should never be controlled, and the irony of her grand design to keep them together really hits home as the Cybermen tear into the fuselage, sending Kate Stewart plummeting to her doom before Missy teleports away and the plane explodes. The special effects used to bring us the Cybermen’s attack on the plane are stunning, the action doesn’t let up for a single moment, and the aftermath of the aircrafts destruction throws the Doctor into a nail biting freefall towards the TARDIS.

The gender reassignment for the Doctor’s old enemy, the Master, has given the renegade Time Lord a whole new lease of life as the gloriously twisted Mary Poppins-like incarnation known as Missy – the woman that we’ve seen welcoming the recently deceased in series eight after they’ve arrived in the faux afterlife of the Nethersphere. Michelle Gomez gives a wonderfully villainous performance as Missy, successfully channelling the sinister charm and menace of the Master with a mischievous twinkle in her eye as she revels in her evil scheme. The scene where she kills Osgood, initially taunting her, and then crushing her glasses underfoot after killing her is really cold. Missy’s scenes with the Doctor are the real highlight of Death in Heaven, especially when she taunts him about killing his friends and teases him with her claims that she actually knows the location of Gallifrey. The chemistry between Michelle Gomez and Peter Capaldi is positively electric, their verbal sparing perfectly captures the essence of the classic rivalry between these two characters, and it certainly makes for a fittingly epic confrontation between the 12th Doctor and this new version of the Master.

Death in Heaven (12)

After using the TARDIS to reach the graveyard, where Clara is trying to activate Danny’s emotional inhibitor to end his suffering because even though he’s a Cybermen he has still retained his emotions, the Doctor is reluctant to help as he fears Danny will try and kill Clara after his emotions are deleted. The Doctor also needs to know what the rumbling storm clouds of Cyber-Pollen will do next, however, Danny informs him that in order to access the Cybermen’s hive mind his emotional inhibitor will have to be switched on. The Doctor reluctantly agrees and Clara tearfully says goodbye to Danny before using the sonic screwdriver to switch on the inhibitor. Danny reveals that a second rainfall is imminent, and this time all humanity will die and rise again as Cybermen. Missy teleports to the graveyard and offers the Doctor control of the Cyber-Army as a twisted birthday present for the Time Lord, so he can use them however he wants to save the universe from tyranny. Aghast that anyone should have such power, the Doctor rejects the offer, giving the control bracelet to Danny, whereby the former soldier takes command of the Cyber-Army and orders them to fly into the skies where they explode and destroy the Cyber-Pollen clouds.

These riveting final moments of the battle conclude with a furious Clara threatening to kill Missy with her own weapon, and she’s angry that the Doctor hasn’t done so before. The Doctor intervenes, saying he will kill Missy for her, but before he can act a lone Cyberman suddenly fires at Missy and vaporises her. The Doctor and Clara discover Kate Stewart unconscious on the ground nearby, she’s still alive, and was saved by the Cyberman. The moment when it suddenly dawns on the Doctor that the Cyberman that saved Kate is her father, the Brigadier, also resurrected by the Cyber-Pollen, is both haunting and deeply moving, and the Doctor’s farewell salute to his old friend before the Cyberman soars into the sky makes this beautifully poignant scene even more special.

Death inHeaven (2)

Death in Heaven really shows what the Doctor and Clara are made of. We’ve seen over the course of series eight how both of them have been capable of making difficult choices that haven’t always necessarily rested easily with them, secrets and lies have also shaped and defined their adventures, so it is perhaps fitting that this series finale concludes with the Doctor and Clara not being entirely honest with each other. The coda that unfolds two weeks later as Clara meets with the Doctor to end her travels with him and say goodbye is tinged with sadness and deceit for both of them.

We know Danny found enough power in Missy’s bracelet to return to the living world, but Clara doesn’t tell the Doctor that Danny chose instead to send the young boy he accidentally killed when he was a soldier back in his place – sacrificing his last chance of being reunited with Clara – knowing she will help him put things right. Likewise, we see the Doctor take the TARDIS to the coordinates that Missy said were for Gallifrey – having claimed the planet had actually returned to its original location – only to find an empty region of space, where he flies into a furious rage inside the TARDIS at being given this glimmer of hope by his old enemy only to have it cruelly snatched away. After saying their farewells, unaware of the others lies, the Doctor’s solitary travels in the TARDIS are suddenly interrupted by a very unexpected and special Christmassy visitor…

Death in Heaven (14)

I really liked how Dark Water and Death in Heaven were not quite as time twistingly complex as some of the previous season finales, instead we had the focus placed firmly on making it a more straightforward action-adventure, and I think that made these episodes all the more enjoyable. Sure, it’s not 100% perfect, few season finales ever are. The resolution to the cliff-hanger was initially a little stilted, with civilians taking selfies with the Cybermen, and I was really sad to see Oswin get killed. However, overall I thought Missy was an excellent foil for the Doctor, and the Cybermen were used effectively by the story and were really creepy in the graveyard scenes. Steven Moffat’s tense and exciting storyline was fast paced and skilfully brought all the elements of series eight together, and Rachel Talalay’s confident direction made this two-part series finale gripping viewing.

Death in Heaven was a great way to bring Peter Capaldi’s impressive first season as the 12th Doctor to a close. I’ve really enjoyed series eight, there’s been a great mix of stories, and the performances by Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as the Doctor and Clara have been excellent. Samuel Anderson has also been exceptionally good as Danny Pink, and Michelle Gomez was superb as Missy. Peter Capaldi has completely won me over as the 12th Doctor, he’s proved to be a perfect choice for the role, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Christmas Special!

Images Belong BBC

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Official Main Trailer

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Official Main Trailer

Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies Poster

Check out the awesome new official main trailer for

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies!

Doctor Who Dark Water Review

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Dark Water

Review by Paul Bowler

[Contains Spoilers]

Dark Water (14)

The finale begins… Somewhere, in the mysterious realm of the Nethersphere, a sinister plan has been devised. When the secret organisation known as 3W promises “death is not an end”, the Doctor and Clara must face the darkest day of all. Missy is about to meet the Doctor at last, soon an impossible choice has to be made, and it is during this blackest hour the Time Lord will confront his old enemies – the Cybermen!

Dark Water moves the action to the Nethersphere for the start of this two-part season finale, with a story written by show runner Steven Moffat, and directed by Rachel Talalay. This deeply unsettling and dark episode doesn’t pull any punches as Moffat’s grand design for series eight begins to fall into place, tackling concepts of heaven and the afterlife as the mystery of the “Promised Land” is revealed – delving with unflinching clarity into the chilling life-after-death experiences that await in Dark Water when someone dies.

Dark Water (6)

When Clara decides to phone Danny while he’s on his way to her flat, tragedy strikes, and Danny is struck by a car and killed. Some time later, while Clara’s Gran (Sheila Reid) is visiting her flat, the Doctor finally answers Clara’s telephone call. Hiding her grief, Clara deceives the Doctor to get the TARDIS to a volcanic world, before attempting to force the Doctor to help her change what happened and save Danny – throwing the TARDIS keys into the lava each time he refuses to comply. However, the sleep patches Clara believes she’d managed to subdue the Doctor with have actually been used by the Time Lord to send her into a dream-like state, one that allowed Clara’s grief stricken scenario to play out – albeit harmlessly inside the TARDIS console room – so the Doctor could see how exactly far she was prepared to go to save Danny.

Dark Water gets this two-part series finale off to a cracking start, with its harrowing opening scenes testing the Doctor’s and Clara’s friendship to breaking point. Peter Capaldi is magnificent as the 12th Doctor in this episode, he dominates every scene he’s in, and the sheer gravitas that Capaldi bring to his performance is utterly compelling. Jenna Coleman is also superb in Dark Water as Clara Oswald, whose role has now become so integral to the ongoing narrative of this eighth season, and this episode really rewards us with some major turning points for her character.

Dark Water (12)

Samuel Anderson also returns as Danny Pink in Dark Water, and his sudden demise in the opening moments initially leave you wondering if that’s his lot. Danny soon himself being welcomed to the unsettling realm of the Nethersphere, just like so many before him this series. Samuel Anderson gives his strongest performance yet as Danny Pink, his anguish at discovering he’s apparently dead, is heartrending to watch, and over the course of this episode we also discover the terrible tragedy that caused him to leave the army. Chris Addison (Peter Capaldi’s co-star from The Thick of it) is also excellent as Seb, a being who exists inside the Nethersphere as Missy’s assistant, and there are some terrific scenes between Seb and Danny as the real nature of this otherworldly realm is gradually revealed.

In a brilliantly scripted moment between the Doctor and Clara by Steven Moffat, were even treachery and betrayal fails to diminish their timeless bond of friendship, the Doctor resolves to help Clara bring Danny back from whatever hereafter might exist. With the navcom offline, the Doctor has Clara use the telepathic interface to locate Danny (just like she did in the episode Listen), which brings the TARDIS to a foreboding mausoleum, where the individual tombs contain seated skeletal corpses immersed in a clear fluid.

Dark Water (3)

On closer inspection, the Doctor and Clara discover the mausoleum is the 3W Institute, and following their initial encounter with Missy (Michelle Gomez), who pretends to be a multi-function interactive welcome-droid, they encounter Dr Chang (Andrew Leung) – using the psychic paper to establish the Doctor’s credentials in a way that humorously references Capaldi’s former well known role as the foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of it – who offers Clara the chance to talk to Danny Pink, via signals the institutes founder, Dr Skarosa, discovered in broadcast white noise signals that are believed to be telepathic messages from the recently departed. The horrific nature of Dr Chang’s and Seb’s claims, that the dead remain conscious and fully aware of everything that’s happening to them, provides a ghoulishly disturbing afterthought that takes this episode into some of the darkest territory that has been explored so far over this course of this series.

The Cybermen make a dramatic return in Dark Water. Ever since they made their first appearance in the 1st Doctor’s final story, The Tenth Planet (1966), the Cybermen have become one of the Time Lord’s deadliest enemies. The Cybermen have undergone several upgrades over the years. This latest version of the Cybermen, which debuted in Nightmare in Silver (2013), are sleek, fast, and have the ability to quickly adapt and repair themselves. In Dark Water the Cybermen are in league with Missy, and this time they have ingeniously hidden in plain sight. The skeletal bodies, which Dr Chang explained to the Doctor and Clara as being held in a support exoskeleton and suspended in a “Dark Water” solution that makes the exoskeleton invisible, are really the Cybermen – their metal bodies hidden because inorganic material cannot be seen in the liquid.

Dark Water (13)

Dark Water illustrates just how inhuman the Cybermen really are, perhaps more so than ever before, revealing how little organic mater actually remains within them to make the prospect of Cyber-Conversion seem even more grotesque, transcending the horrific loss of emotions and individuality, and taking the concept of body horror to the ultimate extreme as we realise how completely their victims humanity is stripped away.

The tombs seen in the 3W Institute are reminiscent of the Cybermen’s frozen tombs in the 2nd Doctor’s adventure, Tomb of the Cybermen (1967), and when the Cybermen are unleashed in Dark Water, director Rachel Talalay portrays a Cyber-Invasion that re-creates one of Doctor Who’s most iconic scenes from the 1968 story The Invasion, were the Cybermen also invaded London and marched past St Paul’s Cathedral. Impressive set designs, especially the doors and offices in both the Nethersphere and the 3W Institute, also carry subtle hints of Cyber-Design. Along with the chilling scenes with the skeletons in the tanks, the impressive visual effects also give us our first glimpse inside the Nethersphere itself as Danny contemplates the afterlife.

Dark Water (8)

Having established contact with the Nethersphere the Doctor leaves Clara to talk to Danny in the 3W Institutes office, having prompted her to question Danny to make sure that its really him she’s speaking too, while he goes with Dr Chang to investigate the tombs and finds that Missy is waiting for them. While a distraught Danny faces a fateful decision, one that will delete his pain and thereby all his emotions, Missy kills Chang and gives the command to drain the tanks and release the Cybermen. The Nethersphere is revealed to be a Gallifreyan Hard Drive that is actually contained within the 3W Institute itself, where the memories of the dead have been stored so their emotions can be removed before they are transplanted into the Cybermen in the tanks. The Doctor races outside where he is shocked to find himself standing outside St Paul’s Cathedral in present-day London. The Time Lord desperately tries to warn the civilians to flee the area as the Cybermen emerge, but there is one more surprise in store for the Doctor as Missy finally reveals her true identity…

Michelle Gomez gives a mesmerising performance as the villain known as Missy, or perhaps we should say Mistress… Yes, the big reveal of the identity of this mysterious Mary Poppin’s like character that has been welcoming the recently deceased to the Promised Land (one of the many names the Nethersphere is known by) over the course of this season, finally happens in Dark Water. Missy is The Master, the renegade Time Lord and arch enemy of the Doctor! Now the Master is back, as a new female version of the classic villain, having forged a frightening alliance with the Cybermen that will take advantage of mankind’s biggest weakness – the fact that the dead outnumber the living – to strike against humanity in the most horrific way imaginable. The Master’s love of disguises is also utilised in this story, when Missy pretends to be a multi-function interactive welcome-droid, and she even kisses the Doctor at one point!

Dark Water (7)

Michelle Gomez and Peter Capaldi both give incredible performances in Dark Water, the chemistry between them is brilliant, and this episodes cliff-hanger sets up a fittingly epic confrontation between the Time Lord and Time Lady that is sure to keep us on the edge of our seats. With its dark themes, excellent performances all round, great story by Steven Moffat, and taut direction by Rachel Talalay, the first instalment of this two-part series finale is an exciting and thought provoking episode. Dark Water certainly lives up to all the hype, it was great to see the Cybermen return to the series in a more prominent role as well, and I look forward to discovering the full extent of the Master’s grand plan in the concluding part of the series eight finale: Death in Heaven.

Images Belong BBC

Special Look At Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron

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Special Look At Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron Clip & List of Marvel’s Phase 3 Films

Avengers Age of Ultron Iron Man & Cap

Marvel certainly know how to make an impact, with the announcement on Tuesday of Chadwick Boseman’s casting as the Black Panther and the new films that will feature in Marvel’s Phase 3. The list of films and their release dates are: Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016), Doctor Strange (Nov4, 2016), Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5,2017), Thor: Ragnarok (July 28, 2017), Black Panther (Nov 3, 2017), Avengers: Infinity Wars Part 1 (May 4,2018), Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018), Inhumans (Nov 2, 2018), Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 (May3, 2019). Along with all that awesome news, during the new episode of Agents of SHIELD on ABC, Marvel also released an exclusive scene from Avengers Age Of Ultron!

Check out the Special Look at Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron 1st Clip as the Avengers try to prove their worth!

Marvel Phase 3

Doctor Who In the Forest of the Night Review

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In the Forest of the Night

Review by Paul Bowler

(Contains Spoilers)

In the Forest of the Night (1)

As a new day begins in London, in every city and town around the world, humanity awakens to find the planet in the grip of the strangest invasion yet. Trees have moved back to reclaim the planet, forests have miraculously grown overnight, appearing all over the word, engulfing every city and every land across the globe. The Doctor, Clara, and Danny must take charge of pupils from a Coal Hill School trip to a museum as they venture into the mysterious forest that has engulfed the capitol, encountering wolves and tigers in their attempt to reach safety. The Doctor has never experienced an invasion like this before, even his vast intellect and technology is of little use against such a natural catastrophe, and this could indeed be the end of humanity…

In the Forest of the Night, the tenth episode of series eight is an enchanting story by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, the acclaimed children’s author, screenwriter, and writer of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. This delightfully paced episode, with its poetic references, allusions to William Blake’s The Tiger, and ecological themes is beautifully told and vividly brought to life by Director by Sheree Folkson.

The trees have moved back in and London has been transformed into a forest. When lost Coal Hill School student Maebh finds the TARDIS, she asks the Doctor for help, and the Time Lord soon realises why the TARDIS won’t start when he finds he’s landed in Trafalgar Square which is now overgrown with dense vegetation. The forests that have suddenly appeared from nowhere look set to become mankind’s nightmare, and soon all of civilisation is seemingly under threat from this bizarre ecological invasion that has mysteriously enveloped the world. Clara and Danny Pink are also trapped in London with their Year Eight “Gifted and Talented Group” of pupils, following a Coal Hill School sleepover in a museum. Clara phones the Doctor and leans that Maebh is with him, concerned that Maebh hasn’t had her medication (which she takes to alleviate the voices she’s been hearing since her sister, Annabel, went missing a year ago), Clara, together with Danny and the students, set off through the forest to Trafalgar Square to reach the TARDIS.

In the Forest of the Night (b)

Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor is as magnificent as ever during this episode. In the Forest of the Night shows that the Doctor is at just as much of a disadvantage here as Clara, Danny, and the Coal Hill School pupils – he’s not exactly used to dealing with overgrown forests, wolves, and tigers. The sonic screwdriver isn’t much use to him in this situation either; as it can’t affect wood. In many respects the Earth is also the Doctor’s home, but this bizarre ecological catastrophe has essentially rendered him powerless. The Time Lord is baffled by the inexplicable forests that have suddenly grown worldwide in a day, throw in the added threat of the deadly solar flare racing towards Earth as well, and it’s fascinating to see him faced with such an unusual dilemma.

When Maebh becomes distressed and runs off into the forest again, seemingly because she hasn’t had her medication, the Doctor and Clara have to find her, but the vegetation is overwhelming Nelson’s Column, making it dangerously unstable, government service teams attempting to burn down sections of the forest find the trees are completely resistant to their flamethrowers, and the wildlife which the Doctor believes has escaped from London Zoo is now stalking them all through the forest. Fortunately Danny and the other students are on hand to offer assistance when the Doctor, Clara, and Maebh find themselves corned by a Tiger, so when they all eventually catch up with Maebh it becomes clear the Doctor was right about the voices in her mind and finds that she does indeed have some connection to the source at the heart of the forest.

In the Forest of the Night is another great episode for Jenna Coleman, there are some excellent scene for Clara, and it’s good to see Samuel Anderson return as Danny Pink for another adventure. This story provides some great moments for Clara and Danny, their relationship continues to flourish, although things do hit a bit of a snag when Danny rumbles that Clara went off to phone the Doctor instead of the school and the parents – and later, after Danny finds Maebh’s school book in the TARDIS, he begins to realise that Clara hasn’t been entirely honest with him about finishing her time travelling adventures with the Doctor either.

In the Forest of the Night (a)

Clara’s troubled pupil Maebh Arden (played by the excellent Abigail Eames), also has an important role to play during this episode, she has some wonderful scenes with the 12th Doctor, along with her fellow Coal Hill pupils – a great group of young actors – and they all have to find a way to work together in order to survive their adventure in forest. There are flashbacks to their lessons at Coal Hill School as well, and these fun scenes really help to define their characters. I also like how Clara’s group of gifted and talented students manage to overcome their individual problems and differences over the course of this story, they all have own unique attributes and personalities that makes them special to her, and its lovely how Clara explains to the Doctor how she believes that these traits are all superpowers in her eyes if they can be used properly. It’s also fun to see how the children seem almost completely unfazed by the TARDIS interior, before virtually taking over the Console Room as they rush around to explore, with the incredulous 12th Doctor completely out of his depth with all these kids suddenly charging around in the TARDIS.

The pictures the Doctor sees Maebh has drawn in her school book are remarkably similar to the impending solar flare threatening the Earth. It seems that Maebh also believes she created the forest following a dream she had after her sister went missing, but when they are close to the source in the heart of the forest, the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to reveal a swarm of tiny glowing energy creatures surrounding her. They speak using her voice, explaining they have existed throughout time, and were summoned by Maebh’s dream to create the forest as they have apparently done many time before in the past.

In the Forest of the Night features some amazing special effects. The panoramic scenes of London, with its famous landmarks overgrown with vegetation, are spectacular, and really engrain the stories premise in your imagination. The way the global effects of this crisis are relayed by a series of television broadcasts are also handled very effectively. There are some good scenes with Maebh’s mother (Siwan Morris) as she sets out to look for her daughter, that also effectively show the vast scale of the forests impact on the capitol. We get to see some very impressive wildlife as well, wolves lurk in the shadows, and a tiger also makes a spectacular appearance.

In the Forest of the Night (e)

When it seems there is no hope of saving the world from the solar flare, Clara’s initial suggestion to use the TARDIS as a lifeboat is just a ruse to get the Doctor to save himself, knowing the children would never want to be separated from their parents, even if the world is ending. Clara doesn’t want to be saved either and become the last of her kind like the Doctor. The Time Lord departs in the TARDIS but inspiration strikes as he monitors the solar flare, he returns for Clara, Danny, and the children, explaining how the trees have saved Earth before. The Doctor refers to events in Tunguska, 1908, and the mysterious blast that struck the Siberian region of Russia. He also mentions Curuca, another suspected asteroid impact, this time in Brazil, 1930, and he’s convinced the forests have appeared again; this time to save Earth from the solar flare.

The conclusion of In the Forest of the Night sees the children’s class project to save the Earth become a global broadcast, where Maebh calls on the nations of the world to stop using defoliating agents on the trees so they can protect the planet from the solar flare. She also includes a message for her sister, asking for her to return. Knowing the world will be safe, and having also reached an understanding with Danny, Clara decides to accompany the Doctor in the TARDIS and observe the solar flare from orbit as it strikes the Earth, watching in awe as the trees protect the entire surface of the planet from the effects of the fiery impact.

The ending does feel a little rushed, with the world being saved by the trees and the return of Maebh’s sister feeling perhaps less poignant moments than they should have been, although the intriguing, though brief, interlude with Missy (Michelle Gomez) does give us plenty to ponder over as she watches these events unfold. However, the moment where the Doctor and Clara watch from the balcony of her flat as the trees miraculously disperse, were the Time Lord states that humanities superpower to forget will make these events fade away just like the other natural catastrophes in Earth’s history – to become fables and fairytales – does stretch credibility as it wraps everything up using an evergreen reset switch of epic proportions.

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In the Forest of the Night is markedly lighter in tone, the majority of episodes in series eight have been much darker, and as a result this episode does feel slightly at odds with what has gone before. The story by Frank Cottrell-Boyce makes for an engaging and poetic episode, and while its doesn’t quite realise the full potential of its intriguing premise, the excellent characterisation and the solid Direction by Sheree Folkson ensures In the Forest of the Night remains an exciting and entertaining adventure. There’s still lots to enjoy here, and the thrilling next time trailer sets the scene perfectly for an incredible looking series eight finale.

Images Belong BBC

Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron Official Teaser Trailer

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Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron Official Teaser Trailer & Poster!

Age Of Ultron Poster

Check out the first official teaser trailer & new poster for Avengers Age of Ultron!

Batman Eternal #29 Review

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Batman Eternal #29

Review by Paul Bowler

Gotham is gripped by chaos, marshal law has been declared, and Commissioner Bard is in league with Hush. Now that Batman and his allies know the truth about Bard’s alliance with Hush, and with Catwoman, the daughter of the Lion, determined to reassert the natural order of crime in Gotham, all Hell is about to break loose in Arkham Asylum. The spirit of Deacon Blackfire has possessed Maxi Zeus, the Deacon and his supernatural forces now control Arkham. Batwing and Jim Corrigan are trapped. The power of the Spectre is all that can help them now, but the Deacon has other ideas, one that will unleash Hell on Gotham City itself!

The pieces of Hush’s grand design begin to fall into place in Batman Eternal #29, as the Dark Knight evaluates the full extent of the corruption within the GCP, Bard’s betrayal, and the nano-swarm in the Narrows. The City of Shadow and Doubt also brings Arkham’s role in events to the fore, in this dark storyline by writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with script by Ray Fawkes, and consulting writers Tim Seeley, and Kyle Higgins, as Batwing and Jim Corrigan face the supernatural resurrection of Deacon Blackfire in Arkham Asylum.

Batman Eternal #29 (Cover)

Batman Eternal #29 picks up this supernatural subplot with ghoulish relish, the sight of Alfred alone, raving in a cell, driven out of his mind after Hush injected fear toxin directly into his brain, is enough to send chills down the spine. There are some disturbing interludes with the Joker’s daughter, Hush is also stalking the streets of Gotham, implementing another stage in his plan, and Batwing has to claw his way back through Arkham after becoming separated from Jim Corrigan – who is now at the mercy of Deacon Blackfire.

Batwing’s struggle to escape from the phantoms beneath Arkham, trapped underwater, with his air supply running out, is another highlight of this issue. Its good to see how Batwing manages to cope with his predicament, especially with so many of his suits systems offline, he’s able to fight back against the supernatural forces and re-establish his com-link with Batman. This leads to a great scene, were Alfred’s daughter, Julia, now acting as Penny Two, is able to coordinate their efforts from the cave, and work together to attempt to decipher the cryptic code from the Riddler’s cell that Batwing’s suit has been analysing.

The art by Simon Coleby really helps to build the dark and sinister tone of this issue. The exterior scenes in Gotham, especially those featuring Hush and the Joker’s daughter, bring us right down to street level, while Batman takes to the air to tackle the GCPD’s heavy handed approach to the civil unrest in Gotham. Coleby’s art brings a dark, gritty tone to a variety of locations and characters, each superbly defined and illustrated, which, together with Romulo Fajardo JR’s intricate colors and subtle tones, really enhances the brooding atmosphere of impending dread that permeates every aspect of this issue as events unfold in Arkham.

Batman Eternal #29, with its diverse plot, extensive cast of characters, and spellbinding action, is the culmination of several plot threads that have been developing for a while now over the course of this weekly series. This issue builds to a nerve jangling climax; as Batwing races to save Jim Corrigan from Deacon Blackfire’s power, and the paranormal shocks and twists continue right up until the final page. Batman Eternal #29 continues to impress on every level, with its great story and art, this excellent issue sets the stage for some significant developments at Arkham Asylum just in time for Halloween!

 

Bullet Gal #5 Review

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Bullet Gal #5

Review by Paul Bowler

Since Mizi’s arrival in Heropa, her personal vendetta against organised crime has made her many enemies. Bullet Gal #5 is the new issue of the IF? Commix book series by Australian author Andrez Bergen, writer of the noir-inspired detective novel Who is Killing the Grat Capes of Heropa? , IF? Commix book series Tales to Admonish, and his new novel Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth and the graphic novel Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat. Now in Bullet Gal #5 we discover the origin of Mizi’s latest adversary, the psychotic French hit-girl Brigit, who also happens to be the girlfriend and personal assassin of the powerful crime boss Sol.

Following the shocking events of last issue, where Bullet Gal was unable to prevent Lee’s death, Mizi was approached by one of Lee’s seven remaining doppelgangers who offered her a mask and a chance to join the Crime Crusaders Crew, Bullet Gal #5 takes a break from the adventures of our series heroine Mizi as the spotlight shifts to the underworlds voluptuous French assassin Brigit. Bullet Gal #5 charts Brigit’s origins from the poverty stricken backstreets of Paris to the gleaming metropolis of Heropa, where the blond bombshell consolidated her reputation at Sol’s side to become one of the most feared and dangerous women in Heropa.

From her impoverished upbringing on the outskirts of Paris, Brigit’s origin in Bullet Gal #5 reveals how her mother killed her father and quickly won over the Gendarme investigating the case, leading to a hastily arranged marriage – the second of many that would follow. Brigit’s school life was a torturous experience for her, fuelling her ruthless nature while her mother went on to marry five more times, each time to wealthy men who all shared remarkably short lifespans. As Brigit reached adulthood her mother’s accumulated wealth became too tantalising for her to resist, murder and faux tears ensued, and soon Brigit was on a clipper plane with a several million francs in her luggage and a new life ready for the taking in a brand new city called Heropa.

Bullet Gal 005_Nov 2014_IF Commix_COVER

Birgit met the love of her life, Sol, in Heropa on the day the crime lord’s driver rear-ended the derriere of her prized Jaguar E type, earning him the wrath of her blade. Sol hired Brigit immediately, soon she’d established her reputation as Heropa’s deadliest assassin, dealing with Sol’s rivals, and ensuring the successful expansion of his business empire. Everything was going so well, until the arrival of “La Competition”, Bullet Gal!

Bullet Gal #5 provides a fascinating insight into Brigit’s character, who has been covertly observing Mizi’s every move for some time now, as she recollects moments from her past while preparing for her impending showdown with Bullet Gal. We learn the events that shaped her life, the darkness that twisted her soul, why she despises any rendition of ‘La Marseillaise’ – and discover how patient and fastidious she’s become at practicing her murderous trade. The story and art by Andrez Bergen effortlessly blends the events in this IF? Commix prequel series with flashbacks to Brigit’s past, offering an entirely new perspective on this bona fide femme fatale and her unpredictable psychotic tendencies as Brigit takes centre stage for this special issue.

Bergen’s striking art, with its noir-inspired visuals, a beautiful fusion of painting, digital enhancement, and enticingly stylised photomontage imagery, weaves a compelling, and dark tapestry from the defining moments of Brigit’s life. Bullet Gal #5 is a near perfect symbiotic fusion of story and art, one filled with a dark, disturbing, and almost sensual depiction of Brigit’s unflinching dedication to the work that she does so well. The scene where Brigit plans her strategy while examining her tried and trusted weapons of choice in the most private of moments, is as unnerving as is enticing, and the context of this scene in reflection of what has gone before sublimely entwines the twisted psyche of Heropa’s most famed assassin in our imagination.

Bullet Gal #5 also features an intriguing back-up story, featuring a bizarre exhumation in the twilight hours at Heropa General Cemetery, then we have a stunning pin-up of Brigit by artist Zamurai, and other fun edition of Dejavu at the Neon Bullpen. With its razor sharp characterisation, imaginatively conceived noir inspired world, and nods to Will Eisner and Brigitte Bardot, this issue of Bullet Gal is a gloriously dark and innovative addition to this excellent series.

Bullet Gal #5, is published in print form in October 2014 in Australia, along with the digital version, and available direct from the IF? Commix website.

FIND OUT MORE FROM IF? COMMIX VIA THEIR SITE:

iffybizness.weebly.com

 

Doctor Who Flatline Review

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Flatline

Review by Paul Bowler

[Contains Spoilers]

Flatline (4)

Strange alien creatures from another dimension, unknown even to the Doctor, are stalking a Bristol council estate and horrifically flattening their victims into the walls. When the TARDIS begins to shrink, trapping the Doctor inside, Clara must continue investigating without him. Separated from the Doctor, Clara uncovers a terrifying menace from a 2D dimension, entities that are breaking through into our reality. But how can you hide from a multi-dimensional enemy when even the walls cannot protect you? With people depending on her and the Doctor trapped, Clara must face a horror that exists beyond all human perception…

Flatline, the ninth episode of series eight, is written by Jamie Matheson (who also wrote Mummy on the Orient Express) and Directed by Line of Duty’s Douglas Mackinnon (Listen & Time Heist). This dark, menacing, and visually imaginative episode sees the Doctor and Clara confronted with the most uncanny aliens they’ve ever faced. Flatline really challenges the Doctor, he’s never encountered anything like this before, while Clara must take charge of the situation and find a way to deal with the multi-dimensional entities terrorising the estate – and the Doctor’s dimensionally transcendental predicament means he can’t help her.

Flatline (5)

Instead of returning Clara home the Doctor finds the TARDIS has materialised in Bristol. When forces begin leaching at external dimensions of the TARDIS, causing the time machine to shrink with the Doctor still inside, Clara has to take over. Using a special earpiece so the Doctor can follow events via her optic nerve, Clara essentially becomes the Doctor’s eyes and ears, with the TARDIS in her handbag, the psychic paper, and the sonic screwdriver at her disposal. Clara befriends graffiti artist Rigsy (Big School’s Joivan Wade), who is doing community service in the area, and learns about the mural in a pedestrian tunnel for the people that have gone missing.

Peter Capaldi is on fine form as the 12th Doctor in Flatline. It always makes for an interesting story when the Doctor is slightly in the dark about what’s going on, and with the Time Lord stuck inside the TARDIS for the majority of the episode he becomes completely reliant on Clara’s “Doctor Oswald” – which leads to some great banter between them when their roles effectively become reversed for the duration of this adventure. Jenna Coleman is also excellent in this episode as Clara, who is teamed with Joivan Wade‘s graffiti artist Rigsy in Flatline, and they both prove their worth against the dimensionally transcendental foes.

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In a brilliantly spooky scene, Clara and Rigsy visit the home of Mr Heath, the first reported disappearance, where PC Forest (Jessica Hayles) becomes the entities next victim. Trapped in the same room where PC Forest’s nervous system is now imprinted on the wall, things are complicated even further when Clara receives an impromptu phone call from Danny (Samuel Anderson) as she’s trying to escape with Rigsy before the creatures can reach them. It also become apparent to the Doctor that Clara has been lying to him about Danny being ok with her continued adventures in the TARDIS, something the Time Lord is quick to point out to her.

The Doctor believes the forces dragging people into the walls are conducting experiments on their victims, testing, and dissecting them in order to better understand the three dimensions of our reality. When the entities start emerging from the mural in the pedestrian tunnel, wearing grotesque images of the people they’ve killed as camouflage, Clara, Rigsy, and the survivors from the council work party, Fenton (Auf Wiedersehen, Pet star Christopher Fairbank), Al (former Casualty actor Matt Bardock), and George (Raj Bajaj), flee to a train repair yard where the Doctor attempts to communicate with the aliens, but they are attacked again and forced to use the old disused Brunswick Line to escape.

Flatline (2)

This isn’t the first time the TARDIS has been affected by strange dimensional forces. In the 1964 story, Planet of the Giants, the 1st Doctor and his companions, along with the TARDIS, were all miniaturised to the size of an inch. The 2nd Doctor and Jamie had to evacuate the TARDIS in The Wheel in Space (1968) when a malfunction in the fluid link forced the Doctor to remove the Time Vector Generator, a special rod that makes the TARDIS dimensionally transcendental, which then caused the TARDIS interior to shrink rapidly. Mirroring the 12th Doctor’s predicament in Flatline, the TARDIS also shrank with the 4th Doctor still inside it in Logopolis (1981), when the calculations to fix the Chameleon Circuit were maliciously altered by the Master.

Flatline (10)

The monsters in Flatline are the Boneless, creatures that exist beyond the normal range of human perception, they are also able to shrink the exterior dimensions of the TARDIS and drain the time machines energy supplies. These bizarre multi-dimensional beings, so strange they even confuse the TARDIS, exist in the walls and can turn somehow humans into static two dimensional images, which they then use to emerge into our reality as horrifying three dimensional caricatures of their victims. I thought the special effects used here for the Boneless were utterly superb, the way the creatures moved was so inhuman, and I really liked how the story didn’t reveal everything about them – ensuring they remain chillingly mysterious and unexplained.

Finding their escape routes in the train tunnels have been flattened into two dimensions, things don’t look good for Clara and the others, especially when the creatures become three dimensional beings and begin hunting them down. The Doctor manages to provide Clara and her companions with a device to restore dimensions to get past one of the flattened doors, but in the confusion the miniature TARDIS gets accidentally knocked down a shaft, where it lands on another railway line. Using a brilliant “Adams Family” style plan to get the TARDIS clear of the oncoming train, the Doctor places the TARDIS into siege mode. After stopping the train and using it to ram the entities to buy them some more time, Clara and her friends, now joined by train driver Bill (James Quinn), must find a way to defeat this intangible menace. But with the Boneless closing in and life support failing inside the TARDIS, time is running out for them and the Doctor.

Flatline (11)

I really liked how Clara devised a plan with Rigsy to strike back at the Boneless by using his artwork, she manages to turn their enemies energies against them while also providing the TARDIS the energy it needs to return to its normal size. Peter Capaldi is superb during the final confrontation between the Doctor and the Boneless, Capaldi’s speech as he deals with these monsters is absolutely riveting, and sends shivers down the spine.

Flatline is another great story from Jamie Matheson, and he creates a really intriguing and highly original menace for this exciting episode. Even though Flatline is a Doctor-lite episode, Matheson has cleverly structured the plot around this, and the result, with Clara taking on the Doctor’s role, works really well. There are some very intense and scary scenes in Flatline, especially when the killer graffiti comes to life, and the impeccable Direction by Douglas Mackinnon keeps the action and suspense building at a cracking pace. With his innovative style, excellent pacing, and superb use of special effects, Douglas Mackinnon’s work on this eighth series of Doctor Who has been exceptional, and I sincerely hope he Directs more episodes in the future.

Flatline (12)

Flatline was a really, tense, and exciting episode. Featuring excellent performances from Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, together with a good supporting cast of characters, and frightening monsters, Flatline is a real highlight of the eighth series. The stories conclusion was a little bit rushed, but overall I found Flatline to be a highly enjoyable adventure, and the coda with the mysterious Missy (Michelle Gomez) hinted that she’s has been keeping a very close eye on Clara indeed…

Images Belong BBC

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