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Star Trek: Voyager – Jetrel (Review)

This September and October, we’re taking a look at the jam-packed 1994 to 1995 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

Jetrel is an interesting episode for a number of reasons. It’s another example of how the first season of Star Trek: Voyager seems anchored in the aftermath of the Second World War. The episode exists primarily as a meditation on guilt over the use of atomic weapon, with the Metreon Cascade attack on Rinax standing in for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Negaska in 1945. Jetrel aired three months shy of the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing, and amid a national period of reflection about the morality of Harry S. Truman’s actions.

Whatever the context of Jetrel in 1995, it serves as another example of how Voyager seems like a relic from a bygone age, a snapshot of atomic age science-fiction. Cathexis was the show doing Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Faces was an old-fashioned monster movie. Jetrel wasn’t even the first time that the first season had traded in atomic imagery. The aftermath of the polaric detonation in Time and Again was very clearly designed to evoke the aftermath of an atomic blast.

The devil in the pale moonlight...

The devil in the pale moonlight…

Even without all this baggage, Jetrel still feels like a mess of an episode. The heart of the story finds a member of the ensemble confronting a former war criminal while dealing with issues of war guilt and responsibility – a structure that evokes Duet the penultimate episode of the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. While that episode worked brilliantly, there’s a sense that Jetrel is burdened a little bit trying to offer a two-hander about guilt while tackling the issue of the atomic bomb.

The problem is compounded by a somewhat messy final act that eschews all the episode’s heavy character-based drama in favour of a contrived techno-babble climax that involves a lot of characters spouting nonsense while playing with light-emitting diodes. Jetrel begins as the strongest and boldest episode of the show’s first season, but ends as one of the prime examples of Voyager‘s preference for techno-babble over character work.

Burn with me...

Burn with me…

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Batman: Ego (and Other Tails) (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

“It’s at times like this…. In the cold… in the dark… I feel that I’m losing my way.”

– Batman’s opening monologue, Ego

Few modern comic book artists and writers are as respected as Darwyn Cooke. The illustrator began his career on Batman: The Animated Series, and then expanded out into the comic books that inspired it. He’s worked on any number of iconic projects, including the miniseries New Frontier and the adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker books. This summer, he’s a major part of DC’s Before Watchmen initiative, writing Silk Spectre and writing and illustrating The Minutemen. Batman: Ego and Other Tails collects the bulk of the writer/illustrator’s work on the Caped Crusader, with Selina’s Big Score included for good measure. In his introduction, the writer confesses that the story was”an earnest yet flawed first effort”, and it seems like he’s being remarkably fair.

He’s created a monster!

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Absolute New Frontier (Review/Retrospective)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. This is a comic book review of the graphic novel which inspired the animated movie Justice League: New Frontier

Today some would say that those struggles are all over– that the horizons have been explored– that all the battles have been won– that there is no longer an American frontier.

The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won– and we stand today on the edge of a new frontier– the frontier of the 1960s– a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils– a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.

– John F. Kennedy, 1960

It’s a Kennedy-era superhero saga, capturing a lot of the spirit of the sixties, the era that really saw DC comics – and comic books as a whole – massively reinvent themselves.

Green Lantern's light...

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Non-Review Review: Justice League – New Frontier

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. This is one of the “stand-alone” animated movies produced by the creative team that gave us the television shows. 

Justice League: New Frontier is probably the best of the animated direct-to-DVD feature produced by Warner Brothers. It’s an adaptation of Darwyn Cooke’s superb New Frontier, a look at the gap between the Golden Age and the Silver Age of comic book superheroes, an attempt to offer an in-universe explanation for the shift in tone and content in the medium between the forties and the sixties. It’s also a damn good exploration of the shift in American public culture and consciousness, exploring the difference in America’s attitude towards the government, the attempt to reach the stars and the fall of McCarthy-ism. It’s also a damn fine bit of animation.

Some sort of League... possibly for Justice...

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