The long-delayed return of stuff that rules!
12 episodes of immaculately animated action. It felt a lot like some of the arcs in Ennis' Hitman comic in terms of the level of violence and ridiculousness it delivers with a deadpan face. Treasure hunting neo-nazis, war criminal maids, crazy boat vs. helicopter gunship fights, nuns with guns, scarred ex-Spetznatz Russian Mafia-types (actually that's more like Ellis – there was period in the nineties where he seemed obsessed with Spetznatz…). Anyway, there's a lot to love here in terms of slightly OTT action thrillers. And it's nice to have a show that is an office worker's fantasy rather than the adolescent fantasies most anime shows serve.
Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO – Mantra Of Love
Acid Mothers Temple have always been a band lurking on the outskirts of my radar, taunting me to listen to them. And really considering I have album of 60s and 70s Japanese psychedelia, I really should give the modern equivalent a try. So why not start with one that only has 2 tracks. One of which is a thirty minute version of a traditional tune that only contains 3 syllables. It is, needless to say, awesome.
I've written enough here already about how great this show is. The first 3 episodes have been fansubbed now, so go watch it already.
That Mitchell And Webb Look
OK, I'm putting the fact that there was a totally unnecessary second Numberwang sketch down to the first episode seemingly being a pilot episode. The second episode seemed to be mainly new material, whereas the first was culled almost entirely from the radio show. That minor quibble aside, this is looking to be first great UK sketch show since Jam. Hopefully it will be a great success and we can see the death of catchphrases and rewriting the same sketch again and again as a way of producing sketch comedy.
After the pilot episode that was too reverent to the original BBC show, I dismissed the US version of The Office. But on hearing good things about the second series, I thought I'd give it a try again this season. And it is great. Now it's deviated enough from the source material and found it's own voice it is wonderful. It's played broader than the original, but it works well. And the introduction of Ed Helms' character Andy is great idea, both as the character itself, as a contrast to Dwight character and the jokes it got out of acknowledging the presence of the camera (a gag which also was played out elsewhere in the episode). I really do suggest giving it a second try if you were put off by the first series. It's certainly better than Extras.
Can we stop pretending that it was a better idea than making more Office episodes? Getting “stars” to portray exageratted versions of themselves is an one-note gag, and getting Ketih Chegwin to say bigotted things isn't deep or edgy, it's the equivalent of Dick and Dom In Da Bungalow's “Bogies” game. A snickering childish “look how shocking we are!” type move that has no deeper meaning. It's not like Borat tricking real people into joining in with racism, it's a script Gervais has written that is entirely reliant on who he could find to say it in order to make it funny. Because without the shock value of who is saying it, it is just racism and homophobia.
ALSO: THE RETURN OF THINGS THAT A WANT A PUNCH IN THE FACE
Firstly a defence of Millar's poor characterisation. The people he is writing the worst are Reed Richards and Tony Stark, two characters of that a lot of writers have struggled to find the voice of. Stark is particularly hard and it's arguable no one has found a voice that works since the Micheline/Layton run. In fact it probably would have been wiser to permanently put someone else in the suit after they left as it's unlikely that they can be matched. So I'm willing to let their general jerkiness and poor characterisation slide.
And the cloned Thor, as bad an idea as that is and as contradictory to past Iron Man stories as it is (Starks hate magic, remember?), is not the problem either.
Nor is the mini series contradicting stuff going on in ongoing titles, that's a more a criticism of Marvel editorial than the comic itself.
HOWEVER what is godawful about this comic is the actual internal logic of this issue. Tony is feeling bad about Goliath biting it when Cloned Thor gets out of control. So what's his next plan of action to handle the rogue heroes? Send supervilains after them! And not just any supervillains, ones who are known murderers. Honestly, what sort of idiot sends Bullseye on a mission to capture people?
The reveal only serves to be a reveal, it doesn't actually fit in with what has been said by people on the previous pages. Millar's tricks work in The Ultimates because he's the stories less condensed and there isn't 40+ years of continuity to contradict him and hold him back. Here it just feels like he's working to story beats, with little in the way of characterisation or plot to link them together.
I wouldn't say it's an out and out bad comic, as McNiven has some great art here, but it's not working as the spine of a massive crossover company event, and it also isn't working as a stand alone mini series either, both due to poor plot and characterisation issues raised here and due to some plot elements being resolved in other comics. Where inevitably contradications start to arise. It's a shame as the core idea is good, just poorly executed.