Batman #37 Review

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Batman #37

Review by Paul Bowler

After defeating the members of the Justice League infected by the Joker’s new toxin, Batman resolves to find the Joker. Unable to glean any clear lead, the Dark Knight visit’s the one place he hates most of all, the Joker’s cell in the ruins of Arkham Asylum. Batman becomes trapped when the Joker, disguised as Mr Border, locks him in the cell and fills the room with a paralytic gas. With no antidote available to counteract this new strain of Joker toxin, Gotham is now in the grip of a terrifying Joker-apocalypse. Batman must confront horror and tragedy in his quest to save the city as the Joker’s insidious scheme takes a horrifying new direction…

The third part of Scott Snyders and Greg Capullos thrilling new epic, Endgame, continues in Batman #37 as the full horror of the Joker’s return begins to impact on Batman’s life and the city he is sworn to protect. With its ambiguous resolution to last issues cliff-hanger, Snyder and Capullo masterfully syncs our imaginations with Bruce’s paralysing descent into terror – with a scene that mirrors the chilling first page of Batman #15 – as he recovers from the anesthetic gas in the Batcave. The opening moments, where Bruce assesses the outbreak in Gotham with Alfred and Julia, quickly reveals just how deadly the new virus the Joker has unleashed really is. It’s resistant to every antidote Bruce has ever devised, and it seems the Joker has engineered his masterpiece to deliver the last laugh in possibly the most horrible way imaginable for the citizens of Gotham.

Batman #37 Cover

The dark shift in tone with Batman #37 is a marked contrast from the previous two issues where Batman was fighting the Justice League. Scott Snyder ramps up the tension and horror as he throws Batman headlong into a desperate race against time to return to city and locate Patient Zero in the Gotham Presbyterian Hospital. The phone conversation with Gordon is just one of many standout character driven moments in this issue. Gotham is going to hell, the military are on the verge of putting city into quarantine, and even Batman is taken aback when he witnesses Jim Gordon’s observations about the nastier aspects of the virus for himself. Indeed, the aptly chosen ring tone on Gordon’s mobile phone is the only light moment in this entire issue. Enjoy that wry smile you’ll have to yourself in that scene, because I assure you, from here on in Snyder is going to keep on pushing your buttons and ramping up the terror right up until the very last page!

Greg Capullo brings a chilling clarity to Snyder’s horrific vision of a Gotham plunged into chaos by the Joker’s virus. From the brooding atmosphere of the cave and Gordon’s boarded up apartment, to the hordes of infected massing the streets and stalking the halls of the Gotham Presbyterian Hospital, Capullo’s art galvanises everything Snyder has already cleverly seeded in our imagination about Gotham’s most haunted location. Danny Miki’s inks enhances the ominous atmosphere that pervades this issue even further, while FCO Plascencia’s outstanding colors ensure that Batman’s nightmarish search of the hospital and Gordon’s research into the past – with those frightening moments of realization half glimpsed in the shadows – will chill you to the very marrow of your bones.

Events culminate with the shocking discovery of Patient Zero’s identity and a twisted re-enactment of a pivotal moment from Batman’s past. These closing scenes will leave you pouring over these finale pages again and again, as the all encompassing horror of this issues game changing cliff-hanger finally hits home. If anything, this issue is all the more remarkable for how little we actually see of the Joker to begin with. His presence seems to linger over every page, with Snyder keeping us guessing every step of the way, so that when the Joker does actually appear the jolt of surprise heralds a deliciously macabre twist that few could have expected. The Joker is scarier than ever in Batman #37, and there are some genuinely unnerving moments that linger in the memory long after you’ve finished the issue.

The First Laugh turns out to be a very appropriate title for this issues backup story from James Tynion IV, featuring terrific art by Jon Mccrea, with colors by Michelle Madsen, this story follows the inmates who escaped from Arkham and were given the task of telling Doctor Zaheer their stories by the Joker. With Gotham in turmoil, Doctor Zaheer’s desperate mobile phone message for help is cut short when she is discovered by the inmate, Morton, and has to listen as he remembers the tale his teacher once told him about the first laugh in Gotham City. This nerve jangling story by Tynion is really creepy, the art captures the horrific tone perfectly, and the way everything blends seamlessly into Endgame’s storyline is really ingenious.

With its brilliant writing from Scott Snyder and Capullo’s art, Batman #37 takes Endgame to unparallel new heights of excellence, and challenges all our expectations about this issue. Hell, that haunting Joker cover by Capullo, Miki, and FCO is worth the price of admission alone! Take if from me, this issue of Batman is edge-of-the-seat stuff, and it’ll probably have you checking under the bed tonight as well. Plesant dreams everyone…

Doctor Who Last Christmas Official TV Trailer

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Doctor Who Last Christmas Official TV Trailer

Dr Who Last Christmas (1)

Check out the new Doctor Who Last Christmas Official TV Trailer!

Batman Eternal #35 Review

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Batman Eternal #35

Review by Paul Bowler

Events in Batman Eternal #35 introduce the new world order in Gotham. Batman confronted Hush and defeated him. However, it was far from a decisive victory for the Dark Knight. Wayne Enterprises and its subsidiaries have been seized because of their involvement with Batmans secret weapons caches. Bruce Wayne’s assets are frozen, Wayne Manor is being transformed into Arkham Manor, and now it seems that the GCPD have actually beaten Batman!

Batman Eternal #35 opens with a short flash forward to the action-packed final moments depicted on this issues cover, before detailing the events that have transpired following the fall of Hush. Out of Control begins the third act of Batman Eternal with a bang, in this fast paced story by writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with script also by James Tynion IV, and consulting writers Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins, and Tim Seeley, in which Lucius Fox sets out just how bad things really are for Bruce Wayne now that Wayne Enterprises has fallen and the remnants of Batman Incorporated have been raided by Commissioner Bard.

Batman Eternal #35

With Hush now confined in the Batcave and construction crews working on Arkham Manor, it falls to Julia Pennyworth to keep watch over their prisoner while ensuring the cave is secure until Bruce can establish a new base in the city. Meanwhile, Vicky Vale begins working on new story, one that leads her back to Bard’s old stomping ground in Detroit. In order to draw Batman out, Commissioner Bard orders the demolition of the Wayne housing restoration project. Thanks to a thinly veiled warning from Lucius Fox, Batman knows he will be driving into a trap, yet despite Julia’s warnings his attempt to force a confrontation may yet prove unfounded as Bard and the GCPD seem better prepared than the Dark Knight anticipated.

The art by Fenando Blanco, with its dynamic panel layouts, really brings across the intense tone of Batman Eternal #34, and the colors by Marcelo Maiolo also complements Blanco’s work perfectly. From Bruce’s initial meeting with Fox in the shadow of Wayne Tower, to the scenes in the Batcave, and the pedal to the metal excitement of the closing moments, Blanco’s richly detailed environments and Maiolo’s bold colors ensures this issue of Batman Eternal looks great and wrings every ounce of tension from the action-packed plot.

The big highlight of this issue sees Commissioner Bard doing a Batman Returns style hijack of the Batmobile, taunting the Dark Knight from the screen on the dashboard, while Batman struggles to regain control of the vehicle. Over the exciting final pages, the net slowly closes in on Batman as the Batmobile is sent flying – quite literally – through the heart of everything Bruce’s fortune and reputation stands for before culminating in one of this weekly series most thrilling cliff-hangers to date.

It is this moment, together with the startling revelations uncovered by Vicky Vale about Gotham’s new Police Commissioner, that kicks off this dark new chapter of Batman Eternal and keeps us guessing right up until the final page as Batman’s world gradually unravels around him. Batman Eternal #35 contains plenty of twists and turns in the plot to keep you hooked right from the first page, which together with its excellent artwork, makes this another thoroughly exciting and enjoyable issue of this weekly DC Comics series.

 

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer!

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer!

Star Wars The Force Awakens

Check out the awesome Star Wars Episode VII:

The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer!

Batman Eternal #34 Review

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Batman Eternal #34

Review by Paul Bowler

With marshal law declared in Gotham City and the destruction of Arkham Asylum, Batman and his allies have discovered that Commissioner Bard was in league with Hush all along. Now Hush is targeting Batman’s secret weapons caches all over the city. In order to prevent Hush detonating more sites Batman and Alfred’s daughter, Julia, must split up and disable the explosives at each location. After Julia is confronted by Hush at the Cicero weapons cache, the Dark Knight races to the rescue, and events soon draw Batman towards a fateful showdown with Hush that could very well spell the end of Wayne Enterprises itself…

Julia Pennyworth battles valiantly against Hush in Batman Eternal #34, which sets in motion a chain of events that result in the Dark Knight’s world being shaken to the core like never before. State of Truth is another action packed issue of this weekly DC Comics series, with its densely plotted storyline from writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, script by Kyle Higgins, and consulting writers Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seeley, providing us with a nail biting fight between Penny Two and Hush that really galvanises Julia’s role in Batman Eternal and elevates her standing as one of Batman’s newest, and perhaps most trusted of allies.

Batman Eternal #34 (Cover)

The aforementioned fight is blisteringly violent, with no quarter given and none taken, and the ensuing aftermath – with the heightened tension caused by Julia’s plight – sees Batman facing a race against time to save her from an explosive end. The outcome is ingeniously devised, and there are a couple of heart stopping moments that will keep you guessing too.

With Lucius Fox dealing with the backlash against Wayne Enterprises because of its involvement with Batman’s hidden weapon caches, the Mayor and Commissioner Bard continue to put pressure on Fox to deal with the situation. Meanwhile in the cave, Batman notices that Hush has accessed another cache in a location that holds a great significance for both of them, one that inexorably leads them towards a decisive confrontation.

Alvaro Martinez does a great job with the art for Batman Eternal #34, together with Raul Fernandez’s Inks, and colors by Brad Anderson, they maintain this weekly series high standard of art to deliver a stylishly crafted issue that seamlessly brings a distinct tone and style to each of the key locations featured throughout the story. The intensity of the fight between Hush and Julia is superb, its edge of the seat stuff, and you feel like you are right there with Batman as he frantically claws through the rubble to find her. The scenes at Wayne Enterprises and the Batcave set everything up for the brutal showdown between Batman and Hush; which unfolds over the final pages utilising impressive and dynamic panel layouts that really draw you into the heart of the action.

Batman Eternal #34 continues to impress with its diverse cast of characters, great story and art, and this issue in particular propels the main story-arc towards a startling turning point that few could have predicted. Everything the Dark Knight stands for is about to come crashing down around him. This is one of the best issues so far in this weekly series, tautly scripted and visually striking, Batman Eternal #34 holds dark portents for Gotham, Gordon, and even Bruce Wayne as the full scale of Hush’s grand design finally becomes clear!

 

Bullet Gal #6 Review

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Bullet Gal #6

Review by Paul Bowler

Bullet Gal #6 continues the prequel IF? Commix book series from Australian author Andrez Bergen, the writer of the acclaimed superhero noir-styled detective novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? , and IF? Commix series Tales to Admonish. Following the release of his graphic novel Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat and the new novel Depth Charging Planet Goth, Japan based writer and artist Andrez Bergen’s latest IF? Commix issue, Bullet Gal #6 will be published in print form in December 2014 in Australia.

Last issue featured the origin of the deadly French hit-girl Brigit, girlfriend and personal assassin of the powerful crime boss Sol, in a disturbing tale that explored the psychotic femme fatales squalid upbringing on the outskirts of Paris and charted her infamous blood-strewn rise to power in Heropa at Sol’s side. Bullet Gal #6 finds Mizi still reeling after her personal battle against crime in Heropa took a startling new twist. Having discovered that her murdered mentor, Lee, really had seven identical doppelgangers, Mizi was then approached by one of his remaining doubles who offered her a mask and the chance to become one of the Crime Crusaders Crew. It may be Christmas time in the sprawling metropolis of Heropa, but there will be little seasonal cheer for Mizi this year, ambushed by Brigit’s gun-totting henchmen, Bullet Gal’s battle for survival is taken to whole new level as the world around her suddenly becomes the greatest lie of all…

The Prolonged Adios follows on directly from Mizi’s encounter in the bar with the other version of Lee, the serious one as she calls him, after he reveals that “her” Lee’s body has been exhumed and stolen from the graveyard. The revelations continue as the new Lee quickly brings Mizi up to speed about the city of Heropa, divulging a secret that effectively turns her life, and world, upside down in space of a few distinctly sobering heartbeats.

Bullet Gal 006 COVER_Dec 2014_IF Commix

Inter-cutting flashbacks in the bar with the brutal opening moments after Bullet Gal has been shot, Andrez Bergen skilfully ramps up the tension, sending Mizi’s guilt-ridden memories on a delirious trip down the rabbit hole while her lifeblood drains away into the gutter – a crimson penance she almost seems to welcome as payment in kind for her past deeds and letting her guard down at this crucial juncture.

Bergens noir-infused art, with its striking use of painting, digitally enhanced photomontages, and bold symbolic imagery brings the hyper-stylised world of Heropa to life on the page with an intoxicating clarity that completely immerses you in the situations unfolding on the page. At some points it almost feels like you are there with Mizi: sharing her bewilderment at Lee’s statements, you will accompany her down that dark lonely street, her anger and resentment washing over you every step of the way, before you too are sent tumbling to the pavement and left questioning reality itself as you watch Mizi’s life gradually ebbing away. The psychedelic nature of what Mizi experiences as she teeters on the brink of death is another tour-de-force from Bergen, and it is this pixelated fusion of reality and fiction that masterfully engineers one of the most audacious plot twists we’ve seen so far over the course of this IF? Commix series.

Bullet Gal #6 also contains an intriguing Epilogue to the main story featuring the Cabal of Lee duplicates, and it seem that sinister plans are afoot following the disclosure that one of their number has been compromised. Then we have the IF? Commix Mini-Feature: The Milkcrate Man, there is a great Bullet Girl poster by artist Claudia Everest, and the issue rounds off with another fun edition of Dejavu at the Neon Bullpen.

With the news that Andrez Bergen has now completed issue 12 of Bullet Gal (scheduled to be published in June 2015) and that the entire 12 issue run of the series has been signed to North American publisher Underbelly, to be released as a 340 page Bullet Gal trade paperback – It’s Not You It’s Me – featuring cover art by edgy pop/pulp artist Niagara Detroit, there has never been a better time to become acquainted with the adventures of Bullet Gal. (Check Out the Under Belly presents If? Commix production Kickstarter they have recently launched for the project here  )

Bullet Gal #6 rounds off with a thrilling double-edged cliff-hanger as Mizi clings desperately to life, while somewhere behind the façade of an innocuous looking shop front, mademoiselle Brigit ruthlessly enforces her late “mere’s” sound advice to deal with a subordinates failure and bring Bullet Gal’s crime fighting days to an end. Bullet Gal #6 takes the series in an entirely new and unexpected direction, with its innovative story and art by Andrez Bergen, this outstanding pulp noir saga continues to impress on every front.

FIND OUT MORE FROM IF? COMMIX VIA THEIR SITE:

iffybizness.weebly.com

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

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