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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (IDW, 2009) #1-3 (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins and other interesting objects. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Due to bad timing, the Star Trek comic book license was between publishers when Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was released into cinemas in 1982. As the license transitioned between Marvel and DC, the movie adaptation got lost in the shuffle. As a result, the film was the only classic Star Trek film without a contemporary comic book adaptation. It remained that way for over a quarter of a century.

However, on the release of JJ Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek, current license holder IDW decided to release an omnibus of the classic movie adaptations as a tie-in. In doing so, they discovered a Wrath-of-Khan-sized hole in the collection, and so set about filling it with a three-issue miniseries that could be included in the omnibus for completeness’ sake.

Stationary orbit...

Stationary orbit…

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Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Vengeance on Varos originally aired in 1985.

It’s a question of re-imprinting their identities, of establishing again who they are.

– Colin Baker spots the problems with the Colin Baker era

Vengeance on Varos is a serious contender for the best Colin Baker Doctor Who story. Not that there’s too much competition. It’s either this or Revelation of the Daleks. I’m also reasonably fond of The Two Doctors, but I’ll accept that I’m in the minority on that one. Colin Baker’s first season is an absolute mess. It has a scattering of half-decent ideas (paired with some atrocious ones, to be fair) executed in a rather slapdash manner.

The season is obsessed with violence and politics and power and the Doctor’s strange ability to accrue large body counts while nominally remaining a pacifist. Like the last year of Peter Davison’s tenure, there’s a sense that the show doesn’t really like its protagonist. Attack of the Cybermen seems willing to trade him for a murderous sociopath. Still, there’s the nugget of an interesting idea there; it’s telling that the revived series would explore some of these ideas in a more insightful and intelligent manner.

However, Vengeance on Varos and Revelation of the Daleks stand apart from the rest of the season because they explore these issues with nuance and sophistication. Vengeance on Varos is wicked social satire that still stings today, an indictment of reality television that was broadcast almost two decades before the format took over television.

It's okay, the audience seems to actually like this one...

It’s okay, the audience seems to actually like this one…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Battle Lines (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

Battle Lines is, quite frankly, not a very good piece of television. Like a few of the episodes scattered throughout the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it feels like it was pulled from a list of rejected scripts for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ironically, it feels more like a reheated left-over than the next episode, The Storyteller, which was actually a recycled script from the first season of The Next Generation. Were it not for the involvement of Kai Opaka and a few hints about Bajoran spirituality, Battle Lines would feel almost as generic as The Passenger.

The concept is fascinating, and it represents another long-term shift in Deep Space Nine, but the script from Hilary J. Bader feels too functional and broad to do the episode justice. Instead, it feels fairly bland, which is a bit disappointing for an episode where Sisko accidentally gets the pope caught up in the universe’s most deadly game of laser tag.

Taking a stab at bringing peace...

Taking a stab at bringing peace…

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Infinite Crisis: Day of Vengeance (Review)

This month I’m taking a look at DC’s massive “Infinite Crisis” Event. Although it was all published in one massive omnibus, I’ll be breaking down the lead-in to the series to tackle each thread individually, culminating in a review of the event itself. Check back for more.

It seems like, within the last decade or so, DC has had a great deal of difficulty organising its “magic and mystic” books. DC generally provided a nice home for books like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing or John Ostrander’s Spectre, but it seemed like there wasn’t really an abundance of successful magic-themed books in the early part of the new millennium. DC would consciously attempt to remedy this with their “dark” line as part of the “new 52” relaunch, but Day of Vengeance feels like something of an awkward earlier attempt to streamline that corner of the shared universe and to prepare it for some sort of creative relaunch.

One for sorrow, two for joy… What for a few dozen?

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Acts of Vengeance: Uncanny X-Men – Wolverine, Jubilee & Psylocke vs. The Mandarin (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

In celebration of the release of The Avengers, this weekend we’re taking a look at the massive 1989-90 crossover “Acts of Vengeance”, which pitted various villains against some unlikely heroes. I’ll be looking at some of the most fun match-ups. This arc is collected in the companion omnibus.

I know that a lot of people would argue that Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men sort of lost the plot a bit after Inferno, when he first sent the team to live in the Outback and then sent them through the Siege Perilous, essentially disintegrating the iconic superhero team and scattering its members to the wind with little idea of who or what they are. I, for the record, actually quite liked that period of Uncanny X-Men history, if only because it was so breathtakingly ambitious and completely unlike anything I ever expected in a superhero team book.

Detractors would, not unreasonably, suggest that there was a very good reason that Claremont’s approach was completely distinct from anything ever tried in a superhero team book. However, most of those who decry that era of Uncanny X-Men will concede that there were some highlights to be found. The Acts of Vengeance tie-ins, featuring the wonderful artwork of Jim Lee, are among the more widely-praised of Claremont’s work in this era, and I find it quite tough to disagree.

Big Trouble in Big China…

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Acts of Vengeance Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

As The Avengers is getting its U.S. theatrical release this weekend, I thought I’d celebrate by taking a look at a gigantic crossover. I’ll be reviewing individual tie-ins over the weekend, so check back!

Truth be told, I would have been quite disappointed if I made it all the way to the end of the month without taking a look at one of those token “big, dumb” crossovers featuring Marvel’s iconic characters. Truth be told, Acts of Vengeance just looked kinda fun. Although it spread to Marvel’s whole line, it was directed by writer and artist John Byrne, who was behind Avengers and West Coast Avengers at the time, so I’m totally counting it as an Avengers crossover. It’s one of those incredibly silly concepts that could only ever work in the context of superhero comic books. Basically, tired of being soundly defeated by their heroes, a bunch of supervillains decide to band together and exchange partners. Hilarity ensues as the line struggles to maintain editorial consistency.

Shattered heroes…

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The Sequel Dilemma: What Does It Take to Convince You To See a Sequel to a Really Bad Movie?

I can’t help it. I am kinda excited to see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. I know the first Ghost Rider was terrible. I sat through it. However, there’s still a little part of me that’s yearning to get a look at what Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have done to the series. After all, the pair helmed Crank, perhaps the quintessential “very silly, very exciting” action movie. And, to be fair, there have been any number of movie franchises that have recovered from a near catastrophic instalment to offer something new and exciting and engaging.

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