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Dave Robbins

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Dave Robbins grew up in the suburbs of New York looking south to the possibilities of The City, later finding potential throughout America. In addition to his contributions here, he is a fiction writer. His stories travel those nexuses where menace and wonder thrive in equal proportions and his pop culture interests live along those same paths. He is convinced that nights in the woods are scary, that little virtue is found saloons and that nothing good ever happens after midnight. These days he can be found wearing some of the same flannel shirts he wore in the pre-grunge era.

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 8 “The Lie of the Land” Review

Now that the Monks have control of the Earth, those who see the real truth are jailed for memory crimes. It also appears that the Doctor is their chief of propaganda. When Nardole shows up at Bill’s apartment, they go off together to get to the bottom of things. This is the best we’ve seen of both characters so far.

Bill’s heartbreak and confusion are immense, pushing her to the breaking point, and ultimately convincing her to shoot the Doctor. In the moment where he starts to regenerate I almost believed it, but of course, it was only an elaborate test to prove that Bill had shaken the influence of the Monk induced mind control.

In this season the social commentary has been loud and clear. The Doctor is a hero and has always been humanity’s champion, but now because of a crisis of their own creation, the citizens of Earth must be brave enough to solve their own problems. Bill represents all of Humanity and does just that.

Missy tells us that “good” is “vain, arrogant and sentimental.” Maybe it is, but as she finds out in her tearful recollection of all those she has killed, good comes with a price.

9
Score
Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 8 “The Lie of the Land”
The Bottom Line
The Doctor scolds that “Humanity is doomed to never learn from its mistakes.” Let’s hope he’s wrong.
Yes!
A taught dystopian episode that is timely without being overly preachy. We know the reversal is coming, but it works anyway.
No...
A little too on the nose at times, but forgivable.

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5 Review

Russ Tamblyn in a still from Twin Peaks. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

Part 5 is the most conventional episode of Twin Peaks: The Return so far. The supernatural elements are still there, but less emphasized. We are given more character development and introduction. We are allowed to see many of the plot elements move forward. All of this successfully grounds the often insane storyline into something easier to connect to.

Good Coop is still suffering the consequences of being stuck in the Black Lodge for twenty-five years, but he recognizes and enjoys coffee, so that’s a good sign. His affliction is starting to get stale though. If it lasts much longer (say maybe two episodes), I think that will be too much.

We get confirmation that BOB still inhabits Bad Coop, and there is some connection to Jeffries in Buenos Aires and Major Briggs, but I have no idea where that is going to end up but that’s fine with me.

The best part of the episode, bordering on fan service, is the check in with many of the beloved characters from the original series. I loved how Russ Tamblyn’s Dr. Jacoby (now Dr. Amp)’s golden shovels connect the more absurd characters and how the more relatable ones like Shelly (Mädchen Amick) and Norma (Peggy Lipton) are still as caring and sympathetic as ever.

The introduction of Becky (Amanda Seyfreid) leads me to think that she may be following in Laura’s footsteps, and is sure to end in tragedy.

8.5
Score
Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5
The Bottom Line
The concept of an eighteen-hour movie seems to be panning out. We have character development, rising action and a depth of story that should hold up in the long-term.
Yes!
Balancing the new with the old, the familiar with the odd, and all aspects of Lynchian oeuvre.
No...
Can crazy awesome be sustained?

Class Season 1 Episode 8 “The Lost” Season Finale Review

There is so much packed into this episode and most of it is awful. There is the indiscriminate killing of ill-defined characters, a surprise pregnancy, a ten-minute transformation into a martial arts expert and a ridiculous conspiracy hidden in a secret room that’s bigger on the inside.

In its half century Doctor Who can explain away nonsense with the claim that the Doctor lies, or that alternate timelines exist, etc., but Class does not have that luxury. Coal Hill has had at least two Doctors and five companions, yet none of them have ever noticed any suspicious activities by the Board of Governors? The “refurbishment” from school to academy doesn’t work as enough of an excuse.

Whoever the B.O.G might be, they come from nowhere and “manage time” and wait for the “arrival” and set up a cliffhanger that will likely never be resolved. Word is that the creator/showrunner has quit, so season two has become even more unlikely.

5
Score
Class Season 1 Episode 8 “The Lost” Season Finale
The Bottom Line
Potential is squandered in this episode and in the series over all. As yet it has not be announced that there will be a second season. We’re probably better off without it.
Yes!
Quill. From beginning to end Katherine Kelly has been the best thing about this show. The perfect combination of style, snark and kick-ass, I would very much like to see what she could do in a better show.
No...
Unbalanced and messy. Disappointing in execution though promising in theory.

Destroyer #1 Review

 

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was first published in 1818. From this tale of hatred and fear, LaValle derives a 21st Century parable knowing full well that the monster created by Dr. Frankenstein was never the Boris Karloff version at all. Instead, it was a creation that demanded accountability and could not be escaped. LaValle recognizes and honors this novel that is often considered to be the first science fiction novel, and like he did with The Ballad of Black Tom ( http://thebrazenbull.com/books/ballad-black-tom-victor-lavalle/) and the Lovecraft legacy, he takes a story we think we knew and makes it relevant to the here and now.

In Destroyer, the opening image is of the Monster sitting at the top of an iceberg as if he were on a throne sets a provocative tone. What is often presumed to be a threat, in reality, has agency and nobility that cannot be ignored. Motives and intentions should not be dismissed out of hand. What we might consider a familiar story is not, once we bother to look beneath the surface.

LaValle’s revisiting of the Frankenstein legacy is astounding on two levels. It transcends the sanitized Universal Pictures version of the creature and still feels original. The monster may be a hero, but he is a hero that is appropriately feared. If he is angry there is a reason.

Smith and Lafuente combine bold colors and sharp lines in a hyper-realistic tableau that allows the reader to relate to the story at hand while being repelled at the horror. Chilling and graphic, the art matches the words to flesh out the powerful unease of the narrative.

9
Score
Destroyer #1
The Bottom Line
LaValle’s reanimation of a classic tale is skillfully presented with a new perspective and greater depth. It borrows its intensity and conflict more from the gothic literary source material that the film history which makes for a stronger story. The legend is modernized and the story is intense. We’ve only just been introduced to the players, but it looks to be an exciting and original as it continues.
Yes!
Packed with action, suspense and context. Perfect pacing.
No...
Can’t complain so far.

Spencer & Locke #2 Review

David Pepose’s noir procedural concept is not only sustained in this second installment but strengthened. With tight narrative and nearly non-stop action, he has put forth a detective that is a force to be reckoned with in a world that’s almost plausible. Locke is haunted and tortured by demons past and present that may justify his elaborate delusions. He’s not evil, necessarily, but he is certainly no innocent, though perhaps he wishes he still was. He may yet find redemption if not peace, but only if he manages to capture the killer of his lady love.

Spencer and Locke is a deliberately strange story that is exciting and stands firmly on its crime story merits. It continues to draw the reader into this bare-knuckle world of thugs, strippers, and the otherwise depraved. The “what if” aspect of a surrogate grown up Calvin, works with amazing precision despite odds stacked against it. The imagination of an isolated child is mixed with some early trauma to produce a sociopathic police detective who inspires fear and sympathy. What could have been just a gimmick is the very thing that makes me enjoy this story more than I thought I would. It is this unique twist that makes this story so good.

Spencer & Locke succeeds where it has no right to do so. This issue delves deeper into the mystery adding more violence and betrayal and is more awesome for the effort. Not only has Pepose pulled off an amazing stunt, Santiago is right there with him seamlessly weaving the real and the unreal, the Sunday Funnies and the grotesque pulp fiction to produce something outstanding.

9.5
Score
Spencer & Locke #2
The Bottom Line
Quirky and highly unusual, Spencer & Locke tugs at the heartstrings while upending childhood innocence and destroying sentimentality.
Yes!
Crazy, violent and unrepentant, this is just the thing for the budding sociopath in all of us.
No...
If you were expecting a kid’s book, you should know by now you’ve come to the wrong place.

Monstress #12 Review

Takeda’s phenomenal artwork sets the stage for a truly epic story. The battle with the Blood Fox on the Isle of Bones is rendered in such a way that it looks and feels multi-dimensional. Maika and Zinn are heroic, broken and untrustworthy all at the same time, a combination that sets the tension high all the way through. Maika’s ultimate desires weigh heavy on her and the story, but it is her journey through, and where she comes to terms with her heritage that remain fascinating and exciting.

There is a vibrant action that commands attention, yet the art and words within provide a sense of meaning and portent to it all.

In a market where novels and comics splash sorcery and demon fighting everywhere like so much dishwater, Monstress truly ups the game. Liu creates complex psychology, history and mythos rolled into a pure fantasy world that holds together within its own logic and manages to be emotionally satisfying as well. This is crafty storytelling populated by fascinating characters, each issue adding to the overarching story but never overwhelmed by it. Soft and contemplative when it needs to be and explosive when required— this is extremely well done.

9
Score
Monstress #12
The Bottom Line
Ambitious and epic, one of the most sophisticated and detailed stories around. Rich in lore and color in every sense.
Yes!
Great Artwork, great storytelling, partnered in the kind of epic that others should strive to be.
No...
A lot is going on from panel to panel and it does tend to get confusing especially in flashback.

Paklis #1 Review

Image gives us another artist-writer-creator controlled anthology, this time with three stories. The first one called “Mushroom Bodies” is a stomach churning psychological horror story that explores a soon to be married young man’s fears and insecurities and is mostly successful with it.

The second “Sagittarius A” is a short introduction of a space opera of some kind. Hotshot pilot/war hero, mysterious accident in a science lab, but not much else to go on. I would have liked to see a lot more of this story, at least enough to gauge if it was any good. The third “Amnia Cycle” is also science fiction with maybe an extra-dimensional/time travel twist to it. Of the three, the horror story is self-contained and appropriately creepy. The others are intriguing, but still too early to tell.

By and large, I have no objection to this multiple story format, but that two of these are ongoing they have the unintended consequence of competing against each other. To work, they would all have to be extremely strong so as not to blend together into a bland noise. Unfortunately, Paklis would have worked better to concentrate on one story as a standalone.

7
Score
The Bottom Line
A nice taste of some decent science fiction melodrama. The artwork exceeds the writing by a fair bit making the overall impression unbalanced.
Yes!
The first story is the best of the bunch with gruesome enough body horror and twisted psychological and emotional notes throughout.
No...
Characters are somewhat two dimensional, maybe as the chapters unfold they will become more fleshed out.

American Gods Season 1 Episode 5 “Lemon Scented You” Review

A conversation with the reanimated corpse of his unfaithful wife does not surprise Shadow Moon very much. She is smart, matter of fact, articulate and not exactly remorseful, the same as she was in life, except for the dead part. In Shadow’s interaction with his naked autopsy scarred ex, what comes through is not fear as one would expect, but rather love, loss, and heartbreak. When he walks away from her, it is, of course, the right thing for him to do, but it is equally certain is that this is not the last he will see of Laura.

A few drinks with his patron Mr. Wednesday seems like a good idea, but nothing is that easy. The police interrupt their plans for a little while. The arrest, as he finds out, is part of the larger plot that Shadow has accepted, but still knows little about.

Gillian Anderson returns as Media embodying David Bowie in a lecture to the always annoying Technical Boy (Bruce Langley). Later she channels Marilyn Monroe in an effort to recruit Mr. Wednesday to a “merger” with the smarmy Mr. World (Crispin Glover). As brilliant as her performances are to watch neither of her targets succumb to her charms.

Each episode expands the politics and dangers of the hidden world and builds the suspense. We know only slightly more than Shadow and identify with him at every step. He is the mostly unlikely hero, but we root for him anyway.

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 7 “The Pyramid at the End of the World” Review

This season has shaped up to be rather ‘grown-up’ in approach. In a collection of stories with serious takes on timely topics, this episode examines the value of freedom versus security. The Doctor, who is literally blind, must navigate his way through this dilemma, and for once, leans on the side of violence. He is swaggering and bold and continues to lie to Bill about his eyes.

Bill is wholly human, honestly compassionate, and is again representative of the audience as well as the voice of reason. The threat to Earth comes from the mysterious and technologically advanced Monks who threaten to take over the world by being asked to save it. Meanwhile, an unlikely series of events prompts the creation of an unrelenting biological disaster.

So far this has been the most consistent run of episodes since the reboot. Capaldi maintains the grumpiness and distance of his version of the Doctor, yet he has become a more endearing character in these flaws. Bill has done a great deal to balance him out and though I am becoming resolved to his departure I really hope she doesn’t leave at the end of the season along with him.

Class Season 1 Episode 7 “The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did” Review

In the penultimate episode, Quill finally gets a chance to shine, and seriously, it is about time. I can’t get enough of her. Her badass-ery is fully formed and entirely earned. From the beginning, she has been the most interesting character, full of conflict and passion. She also gets the best lines. That we’ve been subject to teenage angst with no resolution has been a bit of a sludge to wade through, but now we seem to have some high stakes.

The Head Teacher has agreed to get the thing out of Quill’s head, but it involves transporters, alien body parts, a goddess (Spencer Wilding), and a shapeshifting surgeon (Chiké Okonkwo). It is pretty suspicious how this all came about, I must say. The Board of Governors of Coal Academy sure has access to some powerful alien tech, and the lack of attention given to them is disturbing. Not that anyone ever trusted the Head Teacher, but that fact that no know authority in the Whoniverse is keeping an eye on the B.O.G makes me certain that they are not working in the best interest of humanity.

Next week it all ends, maybe permanently as there is no indication that the BBC has picked up a second season.

General-DC Comics

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