Sunday, 29 November 2015

Droid World!

Droid World! is an unusual Star Wars story, because it features C3PO and R2D2 as the main characters in a way that is rarely seen after the original Star Wars film. It also uses the technique of starting the story in media res, not often seen in Star Wars comics, with C3PO and R2D2 being chased and shot at by pewpewpew guns on the very first page.

Three pages in they find themselves in a literal cliffhanger situation, and then the story goes back to explain how they got into the dangerous predicament they began in.

They are on a mission for the Rebel Alliance to Droid World, where only droids are allowed, and they find themselves in the middle of a civil war between Kligson, ruler of Droid World, and the baddy ZX3, who is a droid who works for the Evil Empire.

After killing Kligson, ZX3 sends his friends to chase C3PO and R2D2 and they wind up back in the position they started the story in. This time they are rescued by Kligson, who is not dead. He is not a cat, he is more like a good Borad (from Doctor Who's Timelash).

There is a big fight between Kligson's friends and ZX3's friends, and the good droids win at much cost and Kligson is left feeling sad.

C3PO and R2D2 leave and Droid World flies away, and that is the end of the story.

Droid World! is very imaginative, with great designs for many of the droids and Droid World itself, although ZX3 is not a very impressive or scary baddy because he just looks like a pink Stormtrooper. I certainly didn't need Scary Cat's help to not be scared this time!

There is good use made of both C3PO and R2D2's characters, and overall this is an enjoyable, if slight (it had time to tell the part where the droids were being chased twice, after all) story.

There was another version of the Droid World story, one with less pictures but with voice acting and sound effects to create a different experience. The art style is very different even if some of the scenes depicted are almost identical - Kligson looks different and ZX3 is red rather than pink. It tells the same story even if some of the details and dialogue differ.

Here it is on the internets:

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Doctor Who Night 2015: The Daleks Are Here!

The theme for this year's Doctor Who Night was: Daleks!

We started by watching Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. which I have already reviewed here. It was unusual to watch a film on Doctor Who Night instead of the TV series, but if we had watched the TV version of the Daleks Invasion of Earth then we may not have had the time to watch two more stories yesterday.

This time I noticed that the character of David Campbell from the TV version seemed to have his characteristics spread across three characters in the film: Tom Campbell got his surname, David got his first name, and Wyler got his Scottishness.

The second story of the Night was Day of the Daleks.

This is a great story even though the Daleks are not actually in it that much, leaving most of their work to Ogrons and the Controller's mannys, but you are never in doubt that they are the real baddys behind it all. The scene where the Controller stands up to them, redeeming himself before he is exterminated, is one of the best in all of Doctor Who.

I have seen Day of the Daleks before but only on a VHS video where the four parts of the story were edited together to make a film-like continuous version. This was the first time watching it on DVD as a four-part serial, and it felt strange because I had come to see the video version as the normal version, even though it would have originally been shown on TV as four parts.

The last story of the night was chosen to be Genesis of the Daleks, which I have already reviewed in six parts here, here, here, here, here and here, so I don't have much to add now. Mew.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Dreams of Cody Sunn-Childe!

The first Star Wars story to properly star Lando Calrissian (the coolest and best character in all of Star Wars) has a level of complexity and philosophical sophistication absent from most Star Wars stories, using its space opera setting to allegorically dicuss the rights and wrongs of pacifism.

It also features giant monsters fighting Star Destroyers, so there is something for everybody to be found here.

Lando is in space being handsome and helping Chewbacca look for Han Solo when they get lost and crash land the Millennium Falcon on a space island near a city. Chewbacca says
to which Lando replies
What are you talking about? I thought it was a perfect landing!

Chewbacca gets attacked by "a blood-eyed beast" and Lando bravely tries to help him.
It is most likely that, given time to ponder, Lando Calrissian would not have jumped so immediately into the fray...
But it's a bit late for regrets now!

Lando is not as brave (or as handsome) as Scary Cat, but he is brave (and handsome) for a manny. The "creature" is about to beat both Chewbacca and Lando when they are rescued by a strange alien.

Lando recognises the stranger as "Cody Sunn-Childe" and thinks he is a friend, but even though he rescued them he may not be a friend really, as we can tell from Lando's sore expression at the bottom of the page when Cody grabs his arm.

Cody takes them to the city where they meet his friends and he tells them they are "in another dimension" and deduces that the Millennium Falcon took them there by mistaik.

Meanwhile in space the real baddys of the story enter. They are Captain Plikk and Lieutenent Nizzon, and their Star Destroyers have found the "rent in the very dimensional fabric" that allows them to follow the Millennium Falcon through to the other dimension.

At the city Cody tells Lando his backstory, how he was once a rebel who learned magic powers, then became a pacifist and took his followers to the other dimension where they would not have to fight any more baddys.

Lando, like Ian Chesterton with the Thals, tries to persuade Cody not to be a pacifist, but then Cody tells him his dark secret - that the beasts, like the one that attacked Lando and Chewbacca, are
...The repressed horrors of my own soul!

This story is well-placed as the first featuring Lando after The Empire Strikes Back, as it shows his character development over a few lines of dialogue with Cody:
You've got as much violence in you as any of us. Probably more.

Yes! And I strive to keep mine at bay! That is the difference between us!

No-- the difference is that you've given up while -- after years of self-serving -- I've finally found something worth fighting for.

Unknown to Cody and Lando, the baddys are about to attack the city, on a page where the panels alternate between them.

"Slow to space normal speed! We've either stumbled upon a secret rebel base or a pocket of civilization uncrushed by the Empire's heel! They must be made to fear us -- attack!

"Space normal speed" is a term that Terry Nation would be proud of.

Lando's last speech to Cody before the baddy pewpewpew guns start firing at the city are ironic:
Hmmm. I wonder how long your "truth" would hold up if the war you ran away from came knocking on your front...


Lando and Chewbacca take off in the Millennium Falcon to attack the Star Destroyers all by themselves. They are being very brave, but everyone knows they cannot win.

Cody hesitates when faced with the dilemma: to use his magic powers for violence, or to leave Lando and Chewbacca to die. Although he does not make his decision until the next page, you can see his choice already made in his eyes in the last panel.

Cody sends giant monsters to attack the Star Destroyers, but only for a moment. He calls back his monsters and says to his friends
My friends -- long have I preached about "shining examples." Today I learned that -- unless tested by adversity -- an example has no meaning. I must prove the dream of peace worth living... by dying for it.

The Star Destroyers fire all their pewpewpew guns at the city at maximum power and destroy it.

Lando is very sad, he even cries in the third panel of the last page. He and Chewbacca escape from the other dimension in the Millennium Falcon and leave the Star Destroyers behind, trapped when the "dimensional doorway" closes.

This story wouldn't work with any other Star Wars character than Lando as the main character. His backstory, as told in The Empire Strikes Back, is complex enough that he can argue with Cody Sunn-Childe and grow as a character from it. The writer cleverly allows both Lando and Cody to be vindicated in their respective philosophical positions, but it is Cody who has to die to prove his point while Lando has to live.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Death Probe

Death Probe is the first Star Wars comic set after The Empire Strikes Back. Because it is not based on a Star Wars film, the art is much more comic-like in this story, although that may also be because t was done by a different artist from the The Empire Strikes Back comics (here the artist is Carmine Infantino, while the The Empire Strikes Back artists were Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon).

Death Probe's action really gets going on its second page, as the Death Probe of the title attacks a Rebel spaceship, and there is a large picture of it taking up most of the second and third pages as a Rebel says
An Imperial Probe Droid!
in large, friendly letters.

For a page it looks as though the protagonist of this story will be the Rebel "Rad Torlent" as he tries to warn the other Rebels about the Death Probe, but then it catches him and Rad Torlent goes
Only then does the real protagonist enter the story, and it is Luke Skywalker.

There is a page spent on recapping the events of The Empire Strikes Back for the benefit of any cats who may have forgotten what happened. It also highlights the difference in art styles between the different artists since for once they have been drawing the same events but in their own ways.

Luke and R2D2 are in a spaceship that is attacked by the Death Probe, which has taken over the other Rebel spaceship so they don't know it is a baddy until too late. They escape onto the baddy's spaceship where the Death Probe tries to kill them. The writer cleverly shown both Luke's Jedi powers and R2D2's robot powers being used to escape from the Death Probe's traps.

They come face to face with the Death Probe and then R2D2 uses his computer hacking skills to find out the Death Probe's plan - to crash this spaceship into the Rebel Alliance's fleet of spaceships and destroy them.

Luke has a plan, and there is another reference back to The Empire Strikes Back as he says
Yoda said it, Artoo: there is no try...!
Only do... or do not! And I mean to do!

The Death Probe knocks him out with an electric "power overload" but it also recognises the name "Luke Skywalker" and this accidentally saves the day, because it has been programmed by Darth Vader to capture Luke and this order supercedes its current mission. The spaceship turns around and flies back towards the Star Destroyer that sent it.

Luke tricks the Death Probe into allowing him and R2D2 to escape in a life pod. Admiral Krell, the baddy in charge of the Death Probe's mission, is happy because he thinks he is about to capture Luke, but he doesn't realise the spaceship is still programmed to explode until too late...

... so it blows up his Star Destroyer instead of the Rebel fleet.

This is a good story that manages to be exciting and has clever and well-executed twists. It has a small number of characters and they are all used well - pairing R2D2 with Luke was an appropriate choice because he is like a good version of the Death Probe so there is a thematic contrast there.

The final panel promises that the next story will have Lando and Chewbacca in it!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

The play's the thing

There was a play on TV yesterday. It was The Dresser on BBC2, and instead of being a play by Shakespeare, it was a play about a play by Shakespeare. It starred Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins, who at one point blacked up in an obvious reference to the BBC's 1981 version of Othello, in which he blacked up to play Othello.

I don't think I got all the references, but I know I got some so I am a clever cat!