The battered wooden door was hesitantly opened, and a man stepped out. He had an elegant, curious face, with eyes that darted around his surroundings. And at the moment he was frowning a dangerous frown. He wore the sombre black tailcoat of an Edwardian gentleman under a heavy cape, with a Keble College scarf thrown over one shoulder. He would have merited hardly a glance on the streets of Edwardian London, but he looked somewhat out of place in the twenty-first century. This was the adventurer in time and space known only as the Doctor. Although he looked human enough, he was actually an alien from a far-off world. Among the many strange and wonderful things about his alien nature was his ability to regenerate, to replace a worn out or fatally injured body with a new one, which brought with it a whole new personality and oudook on life. It was something all his people, the Time Lords, could do. This form was his ninth.

Scream Of The Shalka, released in February 2004, is the last ever Doctor Who novelisation

While the Eighth Doctor Adventures had taken over the Doctor Who name and character, the Virgin New Adventures series hadn’t given up. In fact, freed from being a Doctor Who series, at least in name, it had something of a late flourishing.

The stories instead followed the character of Bernice Summerfield

There are two very different ways of looking at the character of the Doctor — two mutually-contradictory views of the character that have usually remained unspoken but which have fuelled decades of fan arguments, many of which have been proxies for one or other view.

The first is that the Doctor is not, in himself, a particularly special person.

One of the things that people who want to defend the Doctor Who produced in the sixteen years the show was off the air often say is that it was hugely influential on the programme once it returned to TV.

Sometimes this is clearly not the case

By 1991, Virgin Books (who had bought up Target some years previously) were rapidly coming to the end of the TV stories they could novelise, and there was no likelihood of a new TV series coming out any time soon. There was only one thing for it.

They’d have to hire people to write some new, original Doctor Who stories.

SILENCE! podcast #11

April 18th, 2012

You can now subscribe from the itunes store. Search the podcasts section for “mindlessones” then you can subscribe, rate and review!!! Then promptly cancel as why would you want anything to do with this guff?


IN TODAY’S EAR-SCALDING INSTALLMENT: The Beast finds his life has taken on lashings of fully painted Euro-sauce, while Lactus drags his cosmic chassis from the sofa to the table!!! The Beast debuts his paean to internet fuckwittery ‘Steve Dave is Online’. SILENCE! News comes and goes like a ship in the night, but not before the Greatest Jingle of All Time makes an appearance.

Finally the pusillanimous pairsome get onto the important business of comics. They discuss America’s Got Powers from top British TV man, and all round alpha-nerd Jonathan Ross, SAGA no.2 from BKV and Fiona Staples. Lactus talks about Avengers Assemble and Avenging Spiderman and Avenging Avenginators vs X-Avengers (one of those is a fake, eagle-eyes!). Mark Millar and Dave ‘The Rave’ Gibbons’ new spy tale the Secret Service is chewed and digested; Frankenstein Agent of SHADE is a thing, Casey & Fox’s Haunt is too. Saucer County and the Shade – these are the things that little boys are made of… Lactus has a less yellow experience with Fantastic Four and then the Beast tackles the baffling but kinda brilliant Glamourpuss from Dave Sim in You Should Have Known Better.

All this and the second coming of Tupac Shakur? Surely not (don’t call me Shirley) I didn’t I said ‘surely’ (Oh. my mistake) That’s okay Shirley.

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Don’t forget to click below for the SILENCE! gallery…
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Kicking off this latest round of rambling grumbles and incomprehensible cross talk is Amy Poodle who has a thing or two to say about Paul Cornell’s work, predominantly Action Comics.  Flanked by the cracked team of opinionizers, The Beast Must Die, Zom, Gary Lactus and Bobsy.

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Knight and Squire #1 review

October 18th, 2010

knight-squire-iPaul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton

As a British fan of Morrison’s bat-run I was always going to pick this up, and on the whole I’m glad I did. Much has been made of the over-abundance of British cultural references and idiomatic turns of phrase by my American chums, which comes as no surprise given that Cornell’s attempts to paint DC-UK as exotic even forced me to stop and think about some of the dialogue, and that’s despite the glossary at the back of the book. To some extent I feel for those who struggled, this self-evidently isn’t a comic for everyone. If you’re not an anglophile or a Brit who’s prepared to weather what could reasonably described as Cornell’s heavy handed approach to British cultural representation then this isn’t the comic for you. This first issue also isn’t a book for those who want a lot in the way of plot, and what little there is it at least as concerned with servicing Cornell’s primary aim, introducing a milieu, as it is with moving the Knight and Squire’s story forward.

With the above caveats in mind, it’s as an exercise in world building that the book worked for me. I liked the pub where Britain’s super-community meet, as a concept I think it has the scope to stretch out beyond its soapy roots (the British pub sits at the heart of the UK’s two favourite soaps, EastEnders and Coronation Street), and in this issue it served both as an efficient means of condensing the DC-UK fictional landscape and setting the light-hearted tone. I enjoyed the humorous character introductions even if I thought they lacked the creative electricity that a Moore or a Morrison would have imbued them with. Captain Cornwall made me chuckle (the very idea), and I particularly liked the Milk Man, who as a concept managed to straddle the line between being silly, cosily familiar and a bit weird in a satisfyingly pythonesque way (an adjective which could start to wear thin if we’re still trotting it out in two issues time, I grant you). I was also happy to see that Cornell, like Moore before him, is capable of using the more trainspottery elements to bolster his efforts. To have Jarvis Poker ‘the [Great] British Joker’ speak briefly in Polari brought the character to life in one panel thanks to the strong association between comedy, that opaque language of 50s gay culture and the shade of Kenneth Williams.

Broxton’s art, while failing to clearly communicate the mayhem and action towards the end of the book was articulate enough to convey everything that Cornell needed to get across, and managed to be just cartoony enough to reinforce the book’s general feeling of warmth. It’s tricky to do a bar-room brawl and it’s tricky to design and draw a comic that’s heaving at the gutters with new characters. If that sounds like I’m damning him with faint praise that because to some extent I am, but I’m also prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt at this very early stage. As I’ve noted above, this wasn’t a remotely plot heavy issue, and was mainly built from panels introducing new characters and concepts, as a consequence we’ll see how Broxton fairs when he needs to push the story uphill rather than link up a bunch of largely disparate elements in an anarchic pub.

If I have any big worries for this book they’re around the idea that “moderation” is a concept on which to build a superhero comic. Cornell goes to great pains to set-up this idea: the very notion that supervillains and superheroes would share the same drinking establishment requires it*, as does the woolly subplot where a young turk has to choose which side of the hero/villain divide he will stand, as if he were choosing between apples and oranges. While I think moderation has its virtues, and I can see why someone might want to sell it to an American audience (sorry, Americans), moderation isn’t the bedrock of entertaining popular fiction, quite the opposite, and as a guiding principle it runs the risk of feeling very forced. This first issue could afford to be quite self-aware, in fact it benefitted from it, but the same approach might become more of a problem down the road, especially if the plot is unduly effected by such meta-texual concerns, and particularly if those concerns are antithetical to drama.

*At least it does in so far as Cornell’s vision for the pub goes.

I hereby award this comic three brains out of five

The very late review

August 4th, 2009

We’re gonna be doing this every Tuesday from now on, Kids. Capsule reviews in the dying light of the comics week.

Mindless slack is officially over

detective855coverDetective Comics #855
Published by DC Comics
Story – Greg Rucka
Art – J.H. Williams III, Dave Stewart

This time around Batwoman goes toe to toe with Alice, high priestess of crime. In other words, not much happens, but that doesn’t stop this from being one of the richest, most complex superhero reads on the racks. If it were a wine it would would be… well, actually I don’t know anything about wine but it would definitely be red, full bodied and possessed of the jammiest of noses. Williams conjures iconography and atmosphere from the very gutters and, just like the characters, sets them in pitched battle, and it’s a truly marvellous thing to behold. Add to that a well realised and entertaining back-up strip, with just enough story to satisfy, and what you have here is a nigh-on perfect package.

More reviews after the jump