Friday, 28 October 2016

Full review on Starburst.

Fast approaching its fortieth anniversary, 2000 AD is an iconic part of the British comics industry and has launched the careers of many incredible writers. But unlike writing for the screen, which has been dissected over and over, the work of these comics writers is relatively unstudied. The 2000 AD Script Book aims to remedy that, reprinting instalments from various recent strips alongside their original scripts.

This approach allows for much insight into the creative processes behind the works of many popular writers, from longstanding 2000 AD legends like John Wagner and Pat Mills to the stars of today like Al Ewing and Robbie Morrison. It’s particularly interesting – perhaps more so than reading film scripts – because the comics industry has no set format or style, and so each script varies from the next, and so studying all the styles involved will help budding writers find their own style – and reassure them that they’re not doing it ‘wrong’!

As well as enthusiastic writers, this book is also a great read for 2000 AD fans to dip in and out of, in order to learn more about how their favorite series came to be. There's a great range of characters covered – from Judge Dredd to Sláine via Durham Red, Bad Company, Brass Sun, and much more.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

On 25.10.16 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments

Full review on Starburst.

Anyone who’s visited one of the many comic-cons held across Britain in recent years will know that there’s a hell of a lot of independent comic book creators on the scene, and so it’s difficult for readers to know where to start. The second volume of British Showcase Anthology, from publisher Markosia and editor Adam Cheal, aims to help out with this problem by sampling the works of many such creators.

There are twelve strips of around six pages each, all from different writers and artists. What immediately stands out is the sheer variety on offer, in terms of both stories told and art styles. Plus, the volume is careful to put bios of every creator in front of their strip, so that the reader can seek out more work from those behind their favourites.

As with any collection, there are inevitably a couple of stories that don’t match the quality of the others. However, as the purpose of the book is to celebrate and promote indie creators, we’d like to spend the rest of this review highlighting the ones we liked most.

Red Apple, from award-winning illustrator Simo, is a quirky tale of an elderly scavenger searching for his identity, with a sad twist but a happier ending. It’s remarkable for Simo’s distinctive and evocative art style, also seen on the cover of the volume.

The Heathen Masses, from writer Chris Tresson, artist Paul Moore, colourist Adam Brown and letterer Rob Jones, follows a young guy who joins up to the goat-worshipping Cult of Azazel, after hearing about them on the Internet. It’s a horror comedy with witty dialogue and a wicked twist.

And (Secret) Identity, from writer Chris Sides, artist Kier Gill, colourist Aljoša Tomić and letterer Ken Reynolds, is a twisted take on the superhero genre, with the Superman-esque figure not as heroic as he first seems. The art wouldn’t look out of place in a Marvel publication, and the story feels like it could easily be expanded into a full series.

And that’s a common feeling with many of the strips in this anthology – they’re a teaser for these creators’ work, and there’s so much more from them to be enjoyed. We’ve singled out these three stories but could easily praise many more – sure, there are a couple of weak links, but the very high overall quality of British Showcase Anthology – Volume 2 proves there’s a lot of talent in the indie comics scene.

Friday, 21 October 2016

The latest issue of Starburst Magazine is out now, featuring Universal Monsters, Fantastic Beasts, and impeccable spelling.

Amongst its pages, you'll also find my Doctor Who news column, Outside the Box, as well as my reviews of Matinee and Bowfinger, both out now on Blu-ray.

Buy it in stores or online.

Monday, 17 October 2016

On 17.10.16 by KieronMoore in , , , ,    No comments

Full review on Starburst.

The latest in Big Finish’s Early Adventures range, Philip Lawrence’s The Fifth Traveller begins in medias res, with the Doctor and his companions being chased through an alien city by some rather narked-off soldiers. It’s an unconventionally active beginning for a First Doctor story, albeit one that gives way to a more traditional set-up once the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, Vicki and Jospa, having escaped in the TARDIS, land on the jungle planet of the Arunde.

What we have from this point onwards is, in large part, a good attempt to mimic First Doctor alien planet stories like The Web Planet and The Savages, with the team splitting up, exploring the jungle, and dealing with obstacles. 

There’s also a sub-plot about a device which will potentially give the Doctor control of the TARDIS’s destinations, which allows for an interesting exploration of his companions – Ian and Barbara would love to return home, which upsets the orphaned Vicki, who sees her fellow travellers as the only family she has. There’s some nice bonding between her and Jospa, who (as we all know) is an orphan too and so can emphathise with her.

This character dynamic allows our heroes’ story to feel well paced, which makes it a shame when the story cuts away to the ape-like Arunde; their story is a rather typical power struggle, and given that it takes until part three for any of them to properly meet any of the travellers, does drag on a bit. 

Of course, there is another element at play – you may have guessed from the title and the new companion being treated as if he’s been around for a while that something’s up with this Jospa character. Needless to say, the truth behind the fifth traveller is revealed over the course of the story – we won’t spoil the twists, but it’s a mystery that Lawrence weaves neatly into the plot.

Full review on Starburst.

The latest release in Big Finish’s monthly Doctor Who range makes a change from the usual four-part serial format and instead gives us an anthology of four short plays, each featuring Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor travelling with Mark Strickson’s Turlough.

The first story, The Memory Bank, is written by Big Finish newcomer Chris Chapman. The two travellers arrive on a planet where people who are forgotten cease to exist; Turlough unwittingly becomes the new ‘Memory Archivist’ while the Doctor runs around trying to uncover the mystery behind this society. It deals with its big sci-fi concept well, with some thoughtful things to say about the kinds of people who are undeservedly forgotten.

Next up is Paul Magrs’ The Last Fairy Tale, in which the Doctor is mistaken for a fabled Storyteller when visiting a village in medieval Europe. It’s a small scale but charming adventure which may initially seem like a simple fairy tale pastiche but actually has a very interesting message about the nature of stories we tell and those we represent within them.

In Repeat Offender by Eddie Robson, the Doctor and Turlough answer a distress call from 22nd century Reykjavik and find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery with an alien twist. It’s set entirely in one flat, but Robson’s sharp and witty dialogue prevents it from feeling slow, with a strong dynamic of mistrust between the Doctor, the flat’s resident, and the police inspector.

Finally, in Ian Potter’s The Becoming, the travellers explore a planet’s woodland and meet an alien girl on a quest to complete her ‘Becoming’ ceremony and thus determine her position within her town. It’s perhaps the more traditional story of the lot, with a twist you’ll see coming, but there’s nevertheless an interesting coming-of-age story with some reflection on finding your identity in life.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

My latest article for Creative Screenwriting is all about the villains. The strength of a film's antagonist can make or break a film, and I'd noticed that, in too many recent blockbusters, the villains were breaking it. The utter vacuousness of Krall in Star Trek Beyond pushed me over the edge, and I just had to do something about this. So hopefully Hollywood will all read this and then do better. If not, you could read it, at least.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

On 11.10.16 by KieronMoore in , , ,    No comments

Full review on Starburst.

Let’s be honest – continuity in Doctor Who is an omnishambles. Were the UNIT stories set in the '70s or '80s? Which Cybermen are from Mondas, and which from the parallel Earth? And how exactly was the universe changed by the Time War?

So enthusiastic is the show to shrug these questions off and run along to the next story that any book aiming to provide a complete history of the Who universe – or the, ahem, Whoniverse – has a monumental task ahead of it. But that’s just what George Mann and Justin Richards have set out to do.

Firstly, I must enthuse about how bloody gorgeous this book is; a big hardback tome with lushly padded cover, it looks awesome on any coffee table. As the book is set in-universe, it avoids using episode screenshots, which may take away from the immersion, and instead features new and stunning illustrations.

Onto the actual content… Mann and Richards mainly focus on the history of Earth, occasionally going off on tangents to discuss the Cybermen, Daleks, Time Lords and the Time War. Though the way they've assembled all points of human history has clearly had extensive work put into it, the downside is that it often comes across as a chronological list of TV Who stories – for example, summarising the 1651-set The Woman Who Lived followed by the 1666-set The Visitation without adding anything to the stories, making any meaningful link, or justifying why either would be seen as relevant to an in-universe history of Earth. Consequently, large portions of the book do seem a wasted opportunity, particularly in the age of wikis when all this can be looked up anyway.

The book does improve in the final chapter, which details the Time War – as this has never been fully chronicled on screen, Mann and Richards are able to take more creative licence, and provide as coherent and entertaining a history of said conflict as has ever been published, bringing in elements from Mann’s novel Engines of War as well as some original ideas.