Batman #94 Review

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Batman #94

Review By Paul Bowler.

Joker War looms on the horizon in Batman #94 following the fallout from the Designer’s grand scheme. The Dark Knight’s life is in ruins and the ambitious rebuilding of Gotham City has ground to a halt. New forces have risen to shape Gotham’s destiny — and there’s nothing Batman can do to prevent it. Lost, without Alfred or the Bat-Family by his side, and desperate to save the woman he loves Batman now stands alone as he faces the ascension of his greatest foe — the Joker! 

The finale of Their Dark Designs unfolds with a funeral-like dirge of thunder and storm clouds rumbling over Gotham as writer James Tynion IV brings Batman’s world crashing down around him. As the realisation for the Dark Knight, Catwoman and the entirety of Gotham’s rogues  gallery that they’ve all been played by the Joker begins to reverberate across the city, Tynion continues to excel, weaving an insightful flashback to the young Bruce Wayne’s early years of training before he became the Bat into the narrative and the Designer’s machinations to bring everything full circle with Bruce’s encounter with Cassander Wycliffe Baker – the worlds greatest detective.

From there Batman #94 goes into free-fall as the Dark Knight battles back from the brink. Lucius Fox might be on hand to assist after Deathstroke’s attack, but he can’t be the ally Bruce needs right now, especially if they are to have any chance against the Joker who has just seized control of the Wayne fortune. The emotional fallout is equally devastating for Bruce, something that’s powerfully highlighted by the phone conversation between the Bat and the Cat. It’s a heartrending, pivotal moment; and something that could very well strain their relationship to breaking point.

The artistic duties for this issue are shared between Guillem March and Rafael Albuquerque. Their distinct and individual styles complement each other nicely, seamlessly bookending scenes, whilst balance the grim tone and emotional beats of Tynion’s story perfectly, and the rich colors by David Baron bring vivid clarity and tone to every page. Everything from Bruce’s flashback, to the Dark Knight’s steely determination to reach Selina, with a chilling confrontation at the hospital, and the final scenes as Batman looks to the raging heavens above  Gotham for a sign all converge to make this one of the most visually impressive and compelling issues of Batman we’ve seen so far in this run.

All in all, I think James Tynion’s first story arc for Batman has turned out really well. Their Dark Designs has ushered in a powerful, innovative and thoughtful new era for the Dark Knight. Batman #94 is a resounding finale to this saga, it rounds everything off with an emotional rollercoaster ride that will leave the Bat broken by his own design, and brilliantly paves the way for the start of Joker War!

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: James Tynion IV / Art: Guillem March & Rafael Albuquerque

Colors: David Baron / Letters: Clayton Cowles

Cover: Tony S Daniel & Tommy Morey

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

 

Sci-Fi Jubilee My YouTube Channel The Last of Us Part 2

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Sci-Fi Jubilee My YouTube Channel The Last of Us Part 2

I’ve been playing The Last of Us Part 2 on PS4, the eagerly awaited sequel to critically acclaimed PS3 game The Last of Us (2013) from Naughty Dog. The Last of Us Part 2 is set five years after the original games story which features dangerous journey across a post-pandemic United States overrun by terrifying mutations, Ellie and Joel have now settled down in Jackson, Wyoming.

Ellie and Dina Run For Their Lives From A Horde of Infected!

Living with this thriving group of survivors  has brought a time of peace and stability into their lives, despite the ever present  threat of the infected mutations and dangerous groups of other survivors. However, following a violent incident, Ellie sets out on a dangerous journey to carry out justice and find sone sense of closure. But as she hunts down those responsible she must confront the untold horrors of this ravaged world and the terrible physical and emotional consequences of her actions.

Driving like crazy to escape a horde of infected

I’ve been really looking forward to The Last of Us Part 2,  the original game was fantastic, and I’m glad to say that the sequel is just as good. It combines survival horror elements, stealth, and great combat with a powerful storyline full of tension, action and emotion so I thought it would be a great game to feature in some videos on my YouTube Channel. It does still feels a bit strange playing yet another game about a pandemic while we are still coping with a real worldwide pandemic like COVID 19 right now, but I’ve still enjoyed having a new game to play nevertheless. 

I’ll post more gameplay videos on my YouTube Channel as I play through The Last of Us Part 2. Please feel free to like and subscribe if you enjoy the videos, and I’d also like to say a huge thank you for all your support of Sci-Fi Jubilee and my YouTube Channel. Cheers everyone, take care, and stay safe out there.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

 

Batman #93 review

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Batman #93

Review by Paul Bowler.

Batman squares off against the Designer in Batman #93 as Their Dark Designs reaches its thrilling conclusion! In the space of a year the Dark Knight has lost more than he could have ever thought possible, and now he faces a loss so shattering it will change his life beyond all recognition! But an even greater battle awaits. Joker War is on the horizon, and Gotham will never be the same again…

It’s safe to say there’s quite a lot riding on events in Batman #93, as winter Jame’s Tynion IV wraps up his first major story arc on the title, and effectively sets the stage for the imminent Joker War. So, is Batman #93 the culmination of a grand design, or does it completely miss the punchline?

Well, fortunately Tynion succeeds in brining together the numerous tangled plot threads In Their Dark Designs Part 8 to deliver a relatively satisfying finale to the story. There is the usual sparing between villain and Dark Knight as the grand scheme is unpicked and revealed, and their showdown is as deliciously theatrical as it is theatric. We also get to learn a lot more about the mysterious Underbroker and his organisation as he assists Catwoman in completing the greatest heist Gotham has ever seen, while Harley Quinn and the Joker’s new partner, Punchline, face off in spectacular fashion.

I have to say I wasn’t all that impressed with Punchline’s much touted debut last issue. Tynion goes some way to bringing more depth to the character in Batman #93, and her scrap here with Harley Quinn positively crackles with snappy dialogue and razor sharp action. While I still think Punchline comes across like some kind of vamped up version of Gogo from Kill Bill VOL I, her motivations for being with the Joker do at least have some credence to them. I still don’t understand  why there’s been so much hype about Punchline, it all seems a bit gimmicky to me, but hey, who knows, maybe Joker War will see the character continue to evolve and really get a chance to shine?

Batman #93 features some great work  from artists Guillem March and Javier Fernandez, along with colors by Tomeu Morey and David Baron, to ensure that this closing chapter of Their Dark Designs captures the sombre, brooding tone of Tynion’s script perfectly. There’s a wonderful montage of pages that collectively flashback and forwards over events, each one highlighting  a myriad of crucial aspects, narrative threads and potential outcomes. The fight between Batman and the Designer is also equally impressive, as are the highly atmospheric scenes between the Underwriter and Catwoman as Harley Quinn’s and Punchline’s anarchic dance of violence plays out with truly shocking results.

On the whole then, James Tynion IV brings Their Dark Designs to a powerful and surprising end. Batman #93 is an exciting, action-packed issue, it goes for broke, in more ways than one, and I’ve a feeling that by the time Joker War hits the Dark Knight’s world is genuinely going to be turned upside down on all fronts.

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: James Tynion IV / Artists: Guillem March & Javier Fernandez

Colors: Tomeu Morey & David Baron / Letters: Clayton Cowles

Cover: Tony S. Daniel & Tomeu Morey

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Dark Knights Death Metal #1 Review

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Dark Knights Death Metal #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

DC Comics major, world changing event of the year kicks off in Dark Knights Death Metal #1, reuniting the all-star creative team behind Dark Knights: Metal and Batman Last Knight on Earth, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, for an epic encore that is sure to rock your world and the DCU to the core!

Following in the wake of Year of the Villain and Scott Snyder’s run on Justice League, Dark Knights Death Metal #1 plunges us straight into the heart of a dark new DC Universe.  The Earth has been enveloped by the Dark Multiverse, Perpetua is cutting a swathe of carnage across the multiverse, and the Justice League are now almost completely at the mercy of the Batman Who Laughs. Humanity clings on, battling to survive in a hellish, twisted world, while Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman have become separated and continue to fight on against the terrifying horrors of this new reality.

Dark Knights Death Metal #1 rocks right from the outset, quite literally in fact. Scott Snyder weaves an engrossing narrative peppered with intricate exposition that effortlessly draws you into this warped new reality. Wonder Woman is now Queen of the Underworld, the realm which had formally been Themyscira is now a fiery gulag, with cages and pits for those unfortunate enough to have been condemned to its depths by the Batman Who Laughs. Its great to see Diana take centre stage, the banter with her loyal ally — a rather emaciated  Swamp Thing –  is also brilliantly written by Snyder, and the build up to Wonder Woman’s eventual face off with the Batman Who Laughs leaves you in no doubt that Snyder’s firing on all cylinders here. Of course the one, true Dark Knight is waiting in the wings for his moment to strike, and believe me when Batman makes his move everyone sits up and takes notice.

Needless to say artist Greg Capullo brings every aspect of Snyder’s head-banging action-packed script to life in the most amazing ways imaginable. Capullo’s depiction of the Earth, along with its heroes and villains, warped almost beyond all recognition by the Dark Multiverse is an awe inspiring sight. You will find yourself flicking backwards and forwards through the pages as you try and process the sheer scope and scale of everything Capullo has achieved here, together with the inks by Jonathan Glapion and colors by FCO Plascencia, as Wonder Woman challenges a furious dinobot Bat-Rex, Robin’s lurk like grinning gargoyles on the rooftops, the charge of Batman’s undead strike team will blow your mind, and the Batman Who Laughs sinister delight in the chaos he has unleashed is so palpable it almost seeps from the page. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking this all sounds a bit overwhelming, because you’d be right. It is a little. Fear not though, for, if like me you don’t tend to read big comic book events all that often these days, Dark Knights Death Metal #1 does feature an in-depth recap of sorts around the mid-way point, so even if you’ve not read anything leading up to this event, you will be able to jump right in and enjoy it without too much trouble as Snyder has done a superb job in ensuring the big reveal of the new prisoner in the pit provides you with all the backstory you’ll need to bring you up to speed.

Events in Dark Knights Death Metal #1 also build to a thrilling, jaw dropping showdown and cliffhanger that’s so ingeniously orchestrated it will rip your synapses to shreds as it sets the stage for the conflict to come.

The hype and expectation surrounding Death Metal has been phenomenal. Some might argue the Perpetua, Dark Multiverse and Batman Who Laughs storylines have now been milked for all their worth. For me though Dark Knights Death Metal #1 delivers the goods on every level, Snyder and Capullo are on great form, it more than lives up to the hype, and looks set to change the landscape of the DC Universe by the time it concludes next year.

As we begin to take our first cautious steps out of the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown here in the UK its has been nice to enjoy some new comics again. I have to say as well that DC Comics are really knocking it out of the park right now and leading the way with some fantastic new issues and events as the comic book industry begins to restart after the shutdown. Dark Knights Death Metal #1 gets this comic book event off to a fantastic start, and it has all the ingredients that will make it a sure-fire-hit!

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Scott Snyder / Artist: Greg Capullo

Inks: Jonathan Glapion / Colors: FCO Plascencia / Letters: Tom Napolitano

Cover: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, and FCO Plascencia

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

 

Sci-Fi Jubilee My YouTube Channel Resident Evil 3 Remake

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Sci-Fi Jubilee My YouTube Channel Resident Evil 3 Remake

The Resident Evil 3 remake from Capcom is finally here! I’ve been really looking forward to this remake of 1999’s Resident Evil 3 Nemesis, and thought it would be a great chance to feature some new gameplay videos on my YouTube Channel for you.

Resident Evil 3 is set in Raccoon City amidst the nightmarish outbreak of the T-Virus created by the Umbrella Corporation. The game features S.T.A.R.S member Jill Valentine and soldier Carlos Oliveira. As if being thrown into the midst of a zombie apocalypse wasn’t enough, Jill must also confront the towering Nemesis, a hulking humanoid Bo weapon that’s armed to the teeth and powerful enough to crush anything that gets in his way!

Check out the Opening Nemesis Chase!

Set during the events leading up to and after the acclaimed Resident Evil 2 remake, Resident Evil 3 is a tense survival horror game that features intense combat, puzzles, and encounters with numerous characters as Jill battles her way across Raccoon City with the seemingly unstoppable Nemesis relentlessly hunting her at ever turn. As well as the single player game there’s also Resident Evil Resistance, an online multiplayer addition that sets a team of players against a mastermind working behind the scenes to eliminate the survivors.

I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve played of the Resident Evil 3 remake so far. There are lots of nice nods to the original Resident Evil 3 to enjoy, the storyline is really good, its plays well, looks great, and they’ve done a fantastic job with how the fearsome Nemesis chases you through the game – he’s still as scary as ever, and then some!

The Nemesis Flamethrower Fight!

It does feel a bit strange playing a game like Resident Evil 3 with everything going on in the world right now and being in lockdown here in the UK because of the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s a worrying time for sure, but on a positive note, its given me more time to spend with my family, loads more time to write, I can also box set binge myself silly to my hearts content, and now thanks to the Resident Evil 3 remake I also get more time to play games on the PS4!

I’ll post more gameplay videos on my YouTube Channel as I work my way through the game. I might do some live streams as well, so please feel free to like and subscribe if you enjoy, and I’d also like to say a big thank you for your continued support of Sci-Fi Jubilee and my YouTube Channel. Cheers everyone, take care, and stay safe.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Transformers Vs Terminator #1 Review

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Transformers Vs Terminator #1

Review by Paul Bowle

Skynet Vs Cyberton in Transformers Vs Terminator #1, an epic new crossover from IDW Publishing and Dark Horse Comics, where a lone Terminator is sent to 1984 to save Earth from a terrifying future!

This new mini-comic book series sees the Terminator going head to head with the Decepticons, to escape annihilation in the future, and potentially team up with Sarah Conner and the Autobots in the first part of Enemy of my Enemy. The creative writing talents of David Mariotte, Tom Waltz and John Barber have ingeniously spliced established legacies with a time-twisting storyline that effectively turns both franchises on their heads.

From the ravaged future of Los Angeles 2029, its clear Skynet and the Autobots have fallen before the might of the Decepticons. Fortunately Skynet (now the final remnants of the resistance), has managed to locate the last vat grown epidermal T-800 and sent him back in time to 1984. It doesn’t take long for the T-800’s path to cross Sara Conner’s, where the young waitress quickly becomes embroiled in his mission to reach Mount ST. Hilary, and alter future events by terminating the Cybertronians that have crash landed there.

The narrative and pacing were sound enough to make this first issue of Transformers Vs Terminator engaging enough. Some might baulk at the characterisation and depiction of Sarah Conner in this issue though. Her role and purpose may have been deemed irrelevant by Skynet, but there are still glimmers of the powerful warrior she was originally destined to become, and I have a feeling we will still see Sarah Conner become a force to be reckoned with as this mini-series progresses. The T-800 here is a bit of an oddity, he’s coldly logical one moment, and grinning with glee the next. Lots of familiar Easter eggs from the Terminator franchise pepper the narrative too. However, I found the scenes in the future far more engrossing than the somewhat pedestrian plotting as events unfolded in the present, and the issue felt a little disjointed in that respect as a result.

Alex Milne’s artwork is very good, along with the colors by David Garcia Cruz, and there’s some impressively staged sequences that positively leap out at you. Lots of familiar Autobot characters now litter the war torn battlefield of the future, and Skynets last stand in their stronghold against the advancing Decepticons is also brilliantly realised. I would have loved to seen more of the giant T-8000 in action here against the Decepticons, so it was a shame we only got a fleeting glimpse of it lumbering into battle. The Terminators have a mix of the Genisys / Dark Fate design of the T-800 Endoskeleton about them, which also looks really good. Some of the scenes set in 1984 do look a little rough around the edges in places, although I think that’s more to the choices of panel layout here, the rendition of the waitress Sarah Conner is spot on though, and the contrast between the future versions of the Decepticons and the more classic Transformers seen in this issue are also especially striking.

IDW Publishing and Dark Horse Comics uniting to bring their unique takes on the Transformers and Terminator franchises together is a clear no-brainer, in fact it makes you wonder why its taken so long for them to get around to it. I’ve always been a big fan of Dark Horse’s Terminator comics and IDW’s Transformers, so it’s great to finally see them team-up like this. The creative team has a long association with Transformers comics, but they’ve also cleverly incorporated the Terminator saga to weave a story where the T-800 travels back in time to wipe out the Cybertornians before they can jeopardise the future, whilst skilfully splicing the mythos of both properties in the process. Although Transformers Vs Terminator #1 wasn’t quite the mind-blowing start that I’d hoped for with the mini-series, the intriguing premise has me hooked, and if – like me – you are a fan of either franchise you’ll still find plenty to enjoy here as this epic clash between Skynet and Cybertron gets underway!

Publisher: IDW

Story By: David Mariotte, Tom Waltz, John Barber

Written by: David Mariotte and John Barber

Art: Alex Milne, Colors: David Garcia Cruz

Letters & Design: Jake M. Wood, Cover A: Gavin Fullerton

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Batman #91 Review

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Batman #91

Review by Paul Bowler

The Dark Knight squares off against Deathstroke in Batman #91 as the mysterious Designer’s grand plan begins to overwhelm Gotham. In order to help Batman save the city Catwoman will have to undertake the greatest heist in Gotham’s history. However, with Joker, Penguin and Riddler involved, and with a team of assassins on the loose Catwoman must reluctantly team-up with Harley Quinn while Batman confronts Deathstroke alone…

Writer James Tynion IV gathers numerous plot threads together in Their Dark Designs Part 6, as the pieces of the Designer’s scheme woven from the betrayal of the major players of Gotham’s nefarious Rogues Gallery of villains begins to unfold. Batman #91 starts chillingly enough. Joker has a tale to tell, one where he’s naturally the star of the show of course. It’s a glorious retelling of the Joker’s, Riddler’s, Pernguin’s, and Catwoman’s past encounter with the Designer from last issues flashback to events at Tartarus House, and its frighteningly relayed to the Joker’s captive audience. Add an intriguing phone call, together with the fact that the Joker War storyline is rapidly approaching, and this interlude with Joker clearly lays the groundwork for even darker things to come.

After reigning in Harley Quinn following her brief stint on drone duty, the primary focus of the issue is Batman’s high-octane chase and showdown with Deathstroke, Once again Tynion’s brings some superb characterisation to the fore here as Batman confronts Deathstroke with the Nightclimber, highlighting some striking parallels between them as Batman strives to make his case for saving Gotham City. Likewise, Catwoman and Harley Quinn are thrown together again and have to fight their way out of trouble. There’s a great dynamic between them too which leads to some hilarious asides and observations from Harley Quinn on the whole Bat-Cat relationship!

Batman #91’s artwork is shared between Rafael Albuquerque, Jorge Jimenez, and Carlo Pagulayan. Each of their distinctive artistic styles is perfectly suited to the trio of plot lines they’ve been allotted to render. The varying styles overlap nicely and don’t jar as a result, action sequences flow seamlessly alongside the more character driven moments, and the colors by Tomeu Morey accentuates the dark, brooding atmosphere of the issue perfectly.

Following Batman’s unexpected alliance with a deadly foe, everything builds to an exciting cliff-hanger as another player steps into the fray to take their turn in the Designer’s game. Although the story is starting to feel a little conventional with yet another mysterious villain seemingly knowing the Dark Knight’s every move, Tynion’s excellent writing keeps things engaging enough, the art is also very good, and the action-adventure tone ensures this is another exciting issue.

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer James Tynion IV /

Art: Rafael Albuquerque, Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan, and Danny Miki

Colors: Tomeu Morey / Letters: Clayton Cowles

Cover: Jimenez and Morey

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

X-Men #8 Review

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X-Men #8

Review by Paul Bowler

A deadly threat crashes to Earth in X-Men #8, brining peril to the Mutant nation of Krakoa from the farthest reaches of Shi’ar space. The New Mutants have returned from their intergalactic adventures, unwittingly brining trouble home with them, sparking conflict involving the Brood, the Shi’ar Empire, the Starjammers, and the Imperial Guard!

From the dawn of a new day on the island of Krakoa, to the chilling scenes on the fringe of Shi’ar space, and Cyclops and Havoc finding their brother Vulcan has been partying a little too hard at their lunar homestead writer Jonathan Hickman implements a slight gear shift in the overall narrative of this new X-Men series to propel the New Mutants and the X-Men into a cosmic spanning saga. With the defence of Krakoa at stake as the Brood attack, searching for the King Egg the New Mutants brought back to Earth, the Summers brothers hatch a plan to use the said egg to lead the oncoming Brood horde away into space via a Shi’ar stargate.

The action is frenetic and well rendered by Mahmud Asrar, especially the opening moments where the parasitic Brood are depicted swarming in space, initial scenes with Cyclops and Magik coordinating the defence of Krakoa are also excitingly dynamic, and colorist Leinil Francis employs a rich palette of tones and hues that nicely accentuates the action.

Considering how dramatically the Dawn of X relaunch of the X-Men range has evolved in recent issues, with the new Mutant nation of Krakoa developing its own rituals and customs, resurrection protocols, the brutality of the Crucible, and the X-Men’s plan to prevent the creation of the super Mutant killing robot, Nimrod, on the Orchis space station orbiting the sun, along with Professor X’s rather unsettling demeanour (especially the coercive manipulation of Mystique in their attempt to achieve this goal), X-Men #8 feels like a distraction – albeit an exciting one – from the core narrative Jonathan Hickman has built since the game changing events of House of X and Power of X.

For me Jonathan Hickman’s flagship X-Men book remains the pinnacle in terms of quality and good storytelling. Hickman may be acting as a kind of show runner for the entire range of X-Men comics now, but few of the other X-titles that Marvel has been churning out have really grabbed me, save for X-Force and Wolverine by Benjamin Percy. So, if you only have time for one X-Book, I’d make it Hickman’s X-Men, it was bit of a slow burn at first, but has proved well worth sticking with. The X-Men don’t necessarily feel like heroes anymore either, they are now one united Mutant nation on the living island of Krakoa, and the X-Men are certainly making the rest of the world sit up and take notice in a way that’s never happened before in the history of the X-Men. Sure, I miss the days where the X-Men felt more like a crazy mutant soap opera, but I really like how Hickman is doing something so fresh, different and innovative with X-Men right now.

In closing, X-Men #8 juggles a number of plot lines, with the Cyclops, Havok and Vulcan jetting off into space, the Starjamers runing into trouble with a Kree Accuser, and Gladiator and the Imperial Guard finding a new target to hunt. Jonathan Hickman continues to deliver engaging storylines and strong characterisation on every level, the Broods return and epic scale of the issue is impressively realised by Mahmud Asrar’s artwork, and the overall tone of the issue energetically paced. X-Men #8 might leave us chomping at the bit as wider issues are put to one side momentarily, but this unexpected jaunt into space makes for an action-packed diversion nevertheless, and the return of the Brood always provides a challenging threat for the X-Men to contend with.

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Jonathan Hickman / Artist Mahmud Asrar

Colorist: Leinil Francis Yu / Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

 

Superman #21 Review

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Superman #21

Review by Paul Bowler

Mongul Vs the Man of Steel in Superman #21 as the fate of the United Planets hangs in the balance! Supeman faces a devastating showdown with Mongul as the greatest powers of the galaxy look on, Mongul has already fractured their alliance, and if Superman fails to stop him now the United Planets will be over before its even begun…

Superman #21 features a battle royal of sorts as The Truth Part 4 gets underway. On the distant planet Gorfo, Superman confronts Mongul while the forces of the United Planets turn against each other – which has been Mongul’s plan all along! The conflict is truly epic in scope, writer Brian Michael Bendis diligently juggles the big action set-pieces as Superman and Mongul slug it out, while back on Earth the fallout from Superman revealing his secret identity as Clark Kent to the whole world and his presumption to speak for Earth in matters concerning the United Planets continues to sow some potentially far reaching repercussions for the Man of Steel. A fact which is brought sharply into focus where, back on Earth, Lois is confronted by Bethany Snow about her husband’s recent off-world announcement to the United Planets that has subsequently been spun by the media as Superman naming himself as the self proclaimed King of Earth.

Now, I’ve certainly had some issues with the changes Bendis made when he took over writing Superman, namely how he all but reconted virtually everything built up during Peter Tomasi’s excellent run (especially the move that aged Jon Kent up to a teenager during the early days of Bendis’ current tenure), so much so that I quickly stopped reading Superman and Action Comics a while back, however the crossover with Supergirl and the launch of the new Legion of Superheroes got me reading Superman again. I enjoyed this storyline, mainly because it brought the Legion back into the DCU again. But when Bendis went on to have Superman reveal his secret identity as Clark Kent I wasn’t overly impressed. Superman’s life as Clark Kent is an intrinsic, key aspect to the legacy of Superman, and to throw it away in such a banal manner felt almost derogatory to the character – although I suppose one could also argue that in this modern era of comic books the concept of superheroes realistically having and maintaining secret identities is perhaps almost a superfluous concept itself now as well?

In terms of its artwork, though, this issue cannot be faulted in any way. Superman #21 is a blockbusting visual spectacle, with pencils by Ivan Reis, inks by Joe Prado and Oclair Albert and colors by Alex Sinclair. The sheer scale of Superman’s battle with Mongul unfolds via a breathtaking montage of two-page spreads. Their combat is a brutal, no holds barred, earth shattering smack down, and the art team have certainly pulled out all the stops to make this a truly spectacular looking issue of Superman from DC Comics.

As the issue winds down at a surprisingly rapid pace the aftermath of the battle gives everyone concerned some much needed time to ponder over recent events. With the Justice League on hand to help with the clean up, Superman heads home to face the “hurricane” media storm he’s created back on Earth, but the dual cliff-hanger shows there’s something nasty waiting in orbit for Superman and Lois Lane’s day is about to go from bad to worse!

Superman #21 is about as action packed an issue as you could wish for. Seeing the Man of Steel squaring off against Mongul is always a great event. However, it all feels a bit overshadowed by how Bendis undermines the plot with niggling inconsistencies, and emotional beats that fall flat. The way the fledgling United Planets will apparently carry on regardless does seem a tad contrived, especially considering the discourse Mongul’s attack instigated, Clark’s self-righteous view of himself as Earth’s only representative for the United Planets also makes me a little uncomfortable, and the ambush journalism Lois endures in this issue seems little more than a curious afterthought by Bendis at this stage.

Whilst I came back to this title for the relaunch of the Legion of Superheroes, I was willing to give Bendis’ run on Superman another go despite previously finding it to be very hit and miss, but this and the previous few issues of The Truth storyline have seriously tried my patience. Superman #21 is an adequate issue at best. Art wise, Superman is still a great looking book, no question about it, but story wise, unless you are a die hard fan of Bendis’ work there’s sadly little I can find to recommend about reading Superman anymore these days.

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Pencils: Ivan Reis

Inks: Joe Prado and Oclair Albert

Colors: Alex Sinclair / Letters: Dave Sharpe

Cover / Ivan Reis, Jo Prado, Alex Sinclair

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

 

Doctor Who The Timeless Children Review

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Doctor Who The Timeless Children

Review by Paul Bowler.

The Cyber-Army is on the march in the emotional and epic Doctor Who series finale, The Timeless Children. With the last few survivors of the human race being mercilessly hunted down by the Cybermen, Graham, Yaz and Ryan must fight to survive the horror and carnage unfolding around them. Some civilisations will fall, while other with rise, new and reborn! Secrets, lies and unexpected truths will be revealed as battles rage. Even the Master has returned to wreak chaos! The Doctor is trapped, alone, and in the aftermath of the trials still to come nothing will ever be quite the same again for the Time Lord and her companions…

The Timeless Children, written by Doctor Who show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by James Magnus Stone, provides a stellar conclusion to this two-part series finale as events in Series 12 are brought full circle.

Following an upbeat, if somewhat underwhelming first series in 2018, Jodie Whittaker’s era of Doctor Who has really come into its own during Series 12, brining a wealth of exciting adventures and unexpected plot twists – with the brilliant reveal of Sacha Dhawan as the Master, a surprise return for fan-favourite Captain Jack Harkness (John Barroman), the resurgence of the Cybermen, and even a new incarnation of the Doctor played by Jo Martin. Some episodes have still been a bit preachy on occasion, but overall Series 12 has seen a big improvement in the quality of the stories and characterisation – with emphasis on a more mysterious, darker tone.

Ascension of the Cybermen saw the Cybermen back in force and hell bent on wiping out the last remnants of humanity. Now in the Timeless Children the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) must confront the Master (Sacha Dhawan) in the ruins of Gallifrey, while Ryan (Tosin Coyle) and Ethan (Steve Toussaint) form a strategy with Ko Shamus (Ian McElhinney) to fight the Cyber-Death-Squads sent to hunt them down on the planet where the threshold of the boundary leading to Gallifrey resides, as Yaz (Mandip Gill), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ravio (Julie Graham) and the surviving human refugees face the Lone Cyberman’s, Ashad (Patrick OKane), newly awakened army of unstoppable Cyber Warriors back on board the Cyber-War Carrier.

The Timeless Children is an epic and emotional 65 minute finale that draws together several key narrative threads, most notably the mystery of the Timeless Child – first mentioned way back in The Ghost Monument (2018) – which is finally revealed, the significance of the flashbacks to 20th century Ireland involving the seemingly immortal Brendan (Evan McCabe) also gradually becomes clear, and even Jo Martin’s role as the hitherto previously unknown version of the Doctor provides yet more mystery waiting in the wings to be revealed over the course of this episode.

One of the biggest highlights in The Timeless Children through is the powerful confrontations between the Doctor and her arch nemesis, The Master. Jodie Whittaker and Sacha Dhawan are magnificent in these scenes, especially once the Master sets about challenging the Doctor while she’s simultaneously trapped inside a paralysing field in the Citadel of Gallifrey and the Matrix, where the shocking reality that everything the Doctor has ever believe in gets torn down before her eyes and exposed as a lie – and the shocking truth the Doctor is forced to acknowledge will shake the legacy of Time Lords to the core! It seems the Master is also set on forming an alliance – albeit an uneasy one – with the Lone Cyberman as well, inviting them to land on Gallifrey, leading to some fantastic moments featuring this seasons two most maniacal villains.

So, who, or what exactly is the Timeless Child? Well, as the Master gleefully reveals long ago, a scientist and explorer called Tecteun (Seylon Baxter) from Gallifrey’s indigenous race, the Shobrgans, found a child from beyond a gateway to another universe on a distant planet. She brought this child to Gallifrey, where in a fatal accident the child miraculously regenerated. Tecteun dedicated herself to studying the child to discover its secret of seemingly unlimited regeneration, until it could be bestowed in a limited capacity of twelve regenerations to the elite of the society that became the Time Lords who would also go on to discover the secret of time travel – the foundling child ultimately becoming the founder of Gallifreyian civilisation itself.

Yes, the Doctor is indeed the Timeless Child! Incarnations before the 1st Doctor (William Hartnell) or any of the Time Lords later incarnations, including the unknown Doctors briefly glimpsed in The Brain of Morbius (1976), are, it seems, most definitely a thing now! Needless to say, this is something of a continuity busting revelation. It recons virtually everything that has ever been established throughout the long history of Doctor Who and turns it on its head. There’s also insight into the origins of the Time Lords non intervention policy in The Timeless Children, but intriguingly some details are missing from the Matrix. Even the Master hasn’t been able to reconstruct them, only lost memories remain, some link to events in 20th century Ireland, while others seem to proffer a clue, possibly from a parent, and the burning question concerning how many lives the Doctor has actually lived has now become an insurmountable fact that’s potentially ad infinitum in scale to a degree that’s almost mind blowing to contemplate.

We have seen the Doctor’s companions struggling at times to balance their lives on Earth and their adventures with the Doctor over the course this series. Now in The Timeless Children the full impact of these events on their personal lives and their friendships with each other are brought into even sharper focus. Ryan must find his own path after he is separated from the Doctor on the planet, ever resourceful, he ends up fighting the Cybermen alongside Ethan and Ko Shamus, while Yaz and Graham have a moving heart to heart, and together with the human refugees they adopt an ingenuous disguise to escape the Cybermen on the Cyber War Carrier.

Tosin Coyle, Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh all give emotionally charged performances in their roles as the Time Lords companions, events challenge the Doctor’s friends and reinforce their faith in the Doctor like never before, and Yaz leads the way as they cross the boundary with Ko Shamus and the refugees to reach Gallifrey and rescue the Doctor.

The Cybermen begin their reign of terror in earnest in this episode. With the Lone Cybermen unleashing his new look legions of Cyber-Warriors to wreak havoc, prospects certainly looks bleak for the Doctor, her friends and the human refugees. The Cyber-Warriors are a ruthless, unstoppable war machine, and are a worthy addition to the pantheon of the Cyber-Race. Their leader, the deranged Lone Cyberman, Ashad, is as malevolent as ever. Welder of the Cyberium, possessing the entire knowledge of the Cyber-Race, and the feared Death Particle capable of destroying all organic life on a world, Ashad’s character plays a pivotal role in the action. He is unwavering in his quest, and we also gain more insight into this ghoulish creature’s motivations. He’s especially menacing in the scenes where he searches for Graham and Yaz on the Cyber-War Carrier – leading to some genuinely nerve jangling moments – although his ultimate goal to purge the entire Cyber-Race of all organic components does seems like a rather narrow-minded quest for perfection to me…

However, the Lone Cyberman’s alliance with the Master is short lived as the renegade Time Lord uses his favourite weapon – the tissue compression eliminator – to turn the tables on Ashad and seize the power of the Cyberium for himself. The Master hasn’t just destroyed the Time Lords, he kept the bodies as well, and now with the power of the Cyberium and the technology of the Cyber-Race at his command the Master creates a new race of Cybermen, the Cyber-Masters, invincible new Cybermen that also have the ability to regenerate!

To say that Chris Chibnall’s ambitious script has a heavy amount of plot and exposition to convey during this episode is something of an understatement, however, Chibnall just about manages to keep everything on track, and the resolution is handled satisfyingly enough. It was intriguing to see the Doctor having another meeting with Jo Martin’s incarnation of the Doctor, this time inside the Matrix. The role of Joe Martin’s Doctor still remains somewhat vague, but she’s instrumental in helping the Doctor escape the Matrix and embrace the new status-quo established by the revelations about her origins. The scene where the 13th Doctor gathers her memories is a cinematic masterpiece in itself, featuring a glorious montage from every aspect of the series’ history, and with the inclusion of the ‘Morbius Doctors’ Chris Chibnall effectively blows the bloody doors off decades of hotly debated continuity as well!

The final showdown between the Doctor, the Master and the Cyber-Masters positively crackles with tension and suspense, before Ko Shamus (the man responsible for sending the Cyberium back through time where it became entangled in the events of The Haunting of Villa Diodati) intervenes when the Doctor cannot bring herself to sink to the Master‘s level, and unleashes the Death Particle to defeat the Master and the Cybermen. Its in the aftermath where the plot contrivances get a bit tangled and strain credibility to the limit, as Chibnal throws in a TARDIS here and there to get the Doctor’s companions and the human refugees safely returned to present day Earth, while the Doctor takes a similar journey to reunite with her own TARDIS, where she suddenly gets arrested by the Judoon and sentenced to life imprisonment somewhere in deep space!

The Timeless Children is a superb showcase for the regular cast, with Jodie Whittaker giving a magnificent performance as the Doctor, the action sequences with the Cybermen are superb, and everything is all impressively directed by James Magnus Stone. It was thrilling to see the Cybermen invade Gallifrey and become the Cyber-Masters in this episode, and Sacha Dhawan totally knocked it out the park with another scenery chewing turn as the Master. This episode certainly gives us lots to process. The Timeless Children was an exciting finale for sure, game changing even, and that cliffhanger ending is sure to keep us all guessing until Doctor Who returns for the upcoming festive season in the episode entitled: “Revolution of the Daleks”. But, are the major retcons of the Doctor’s origins and the legacy of the Time Lords a stroke of genius, or a step too far by show runner Chris Chibnall?

Well, I for one don’t think it really changes all that much to be honest. I’m sure many will disagree with me. I’m no big fan of Chibnall as show runner, Series 11 wasn’t that good at all, but I do feel he’s learned from that and gone some way to restructuring the show significantly for the better in Series 12. Jodie Whittaker and the regular cast have all been great this season too. As for the potentially limitless number of incarnations the Doctor now apparently has available given the revelations of The Timeless Children… well, so what eh? As far as I see it makes very little or no difference, whether we acknowledge it or not, everything we knew is still there, and these developments just bring a new perspective to what we already have. Doctor Who has always been about change, and it always will. If the changes made during this episode doesn’t bring some much needed mystery back into modern Doctor Who and a wealth of exciting possibilities to explore then I don’t know what will, do you? I like “new Who”, I have since it returned in 2005, but for me “Classic Doctor Who” will always be my favourite version of the show. The Timeless Children won’t change anything for me one way or the other in that respect, although I’m sure some will hail this tampering with the history of Doctor Who as the beginning of the end and that Chris Chibnall has killed Doctor Who.

Well, time will tell won’t it? Viewing figures for Series 12 haven‘t exactly been out of this world, so maybe somewhere the tea really is getting cold again? Who knows? Personally I’ve quite enjoyed Series 12, and thought Ascension of the Cybermen and the Timeless Children brought this season of Doctor Who to a really exciting close. I must admit I did have some trepidation towards Series 12, as after Series 11 it did feel like modern Who had runs its course to me, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well this new series actually turned out to be. Just think, for the first time in ages we don’t quite know who the Doctor is anymore, there’s scope for a wealth of new adventures on an unimaginable scale still waiting to be discovered. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty exciting place for Doctor Who to be in to me…

Images Belong BBC.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook