Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 from Dark Horse Comics – Review

Ok, folks, apologies for the radio silence.  My muse decided to take a little vacation without me, as she often does… but we’re back… I think… Thanks for coming back. As always, it’s much appreciated. 

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Secret societies, mythical creatures and a strong female protagonist with a dark, mysterious past. Sign me up, please! Drew Johnson (Wonder Woman) brings his first creator-owned series to Dark Horse with Midnight Society: The Black Lake!

Something immediately drew me to the title. Midnight Society conjured up images of the monsters, witches and other things that go bump in the night, and the cover art, featuring secret agent Matilda Finn, made me think instantly “this woman is our hero”. I was intrigued. I had to learn more. I wasn’t disappointed.

The artwork, also by Drew Johnson (and colorist Lizzy John), is dark and foreboding, but very well rendered, the characters well-drawn.

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While reading it, I could definitely see this playing out as a film or TV series. Something creepy and fantastical… that’s kinda my bag. In fact, I found myself thinking of the BBC Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood, and kept hoping some version of Captain Jack Harkness might pop up somewhere. Who knows, he still might. After all, all roads lead back…

Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 is not a origin story, as we’re already plunged right into the action, but we are definitely left wondering more about Matilda. This description gets your head spinning – who or what is Matilda Finn?

“They transformed her into a monster killer, but she was already something else!

Forty years ago, England’s greatest adventurers cast aside their friendship, making a choice that would come to haunt humanity. Now, secret agent Matilda Finn will face the consequences of that choice as she aids in a frantic rescue operation at Scotland’s Loch Ness, where something terrible is waiting to draw her into the fight of her life!”

 

What kind of monster is she? 40 years ago? She looks like she can’t be more than in her 30s. Is Matilda a mythical creature herself? I ran through quite an exhaustive list of possibilities. We don’t get an answer just yet. We’ll just have to stay tuned.

So visit Loch Ness, and follow Matilda Finn and The Midnight Society’s exploits starting tomorrow, June 10th. Pick up Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 from Dark Horse Comics, at a comic book store near you.

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DI Alec Hardy and DI Miller Are Back in Broadchurch Series 2!

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Series 1 Cast of Broadchurch (ITV, UK)

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

It’s been nearly two years since the premiere of the hit UK drama Broadchurch starring the brilliant David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Olivia Colman. Having only discovered it after Series 1 had ended, while watching its US counterpart Gracepoint at the same time, it’s still very fresh in my mind.

When I learned Series 2 would come on the heels of Gracepoint’s unfortunate demise, I was relieved to learn the story wasn’t over yet.

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Series 1 Cast of Gracepoint (Fox TV, US)

For those who are unfamiliar, both Broadchurch and Gracepoint center around the death of 11-year-old Danny Lattimer (Danny Solano in the US version), and the lives torn apart during the course of the murder investigation led by Hardy (Detective Emmett Carver in the US version – both played by David Tennant).

Written and produced by Chris Chibnall (Torchwood), the murder mystery keeps you guessing until the very last minute, all the while drawing you into the personal lives of all the key players living in the sleepy seaside community. Underneath the idyllic exterior, deep, dark secrets are unearthed, and by the end, no one is left unscathed.

When Danny’s murderer is finally discovered, I’m sure most audience members felt saddened and disturbed. We knew the killer would be someone close to home, but like real life, it’s never someone you’d expect – rarely some stranger, instead it’s someone you’d trust with your own children. It leaves you with an uneasy feeling. Hardly resolved. There’s no real sense of closure. There’s no sense of peace as Danny’s and Ellie’s (Olivia Colman in the UK Version and played by Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn in the US Version) families are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. But how can they?

This is where Series 2 of Broadchurch begins.

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Series 2 Cast of Broadchurch (ITV, UK)

Joining the cast for Series 2 alongside Series 1 regulars David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who), Jonathan Bailey (Doctor Who)Jodie Whittaker, and Andrew Buchan, are Eve Myles (Gwen from Torchwood, Doctor Who) as Claire, Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Sharon, Charlotte Rampling as Jocelyn, and James D’Arcy as Lee.

Series 2 finally sheds some light on the events that brought a disgraced (and haunted) Alec Hardy to Broadchurch after the Sandbrook murders, as Danny’s murder trial begins.

Mysteries and courtroom dramas fascinate me, but you get so much more with Broadchurch. The cast is brilliant, and you believe Beth and Ellie’s heartache, you believe Alec’s obsession… you believe… You feel every moment, and I couldn’t help but have physical reactions as events unfolded. Tennant is so good at what he does I found myself both disliking Alec Hardy and finding him sympathetic at the same time, forgetting that underneath that scruffy beard was the Time Lord we all love.

Broadchurch Series 2 has just ended its run in the UK on ITV and premieres tonight March 4th, 2015 at 10/9c on BBC America in the US.

If you haven’t seen the series yet, I urge you to catch up with Series 1 of Broadchurch on Netflix.

For more, watch the Series 2 Trailer of Broadchurch below.

Attention Female Sci-Fi Writers: Doctor Who Needs YOU!

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Sandman and Doctor Who writer Neil Gaiman

Recently, Sandman and Neverwhere author Neil Gaiman, commented on the lack of female writers in Doctor Who.  He would know, having penned two stories himself (The Doctor’s Wife, Nightmare in Silver) for the current series.

But that can’t be right, can it? I thought long and hard to myself, and truthfully, while I can recall female directors and producers (after all, the series was birthed by the late Verity Lambert and producer Julie Gardner was instrumental in helping Russell T. Davies bring back Doctor Who in 2005), I can’t – off the top of my head – recall female writers for the series. This really gnawed at me.

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Verity Lambert and Russell T. Davies

FROM FANDOM TO CALLING THE SHOTS

Often, I cite Paul Cornell as one of my top writers for the current series. Paul writes compelling science fiction and drama, as evidenced in The 10th Doctor story (originally written for 7th Doctor Sylvester McCoyHuman Nature and Father’s Day (for 9th Doctor Christopher Eccleston). Even upon repeated watchings, I am always moved to tears by these episodes.

Back in the day, it was Robert Holmes who wrote some of the best stories for the classic era, including The Deadly Assassin and Talons of Weng-Chiang (for 4th Doctor Tom Baker) and Caves of Androzani (for 5th Doctor Peter Davison). Surely, my favorite sci-fi show of all time had just as many female writers, right? Right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I owe Doctor Who for inspiring my love of science fiction and desire for self-expression. I was one of those fanfic and fanzine writers who felt compelled to expand on The Doctor’s universe. Yep, I was one of the ones people snickered at. We found refuge at conventions and dared not share our creations with the uninitiated. They wouldn’t understand… They just wouldn’t get it. 

Times have changed, and some of those same con-geeks and nerds are among some of the most successful writers and producers in film and television today. Fanboys Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings), Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Queer as Folk), Mark Gatiss (Doctor Who, Sherlock) and of course, Steven Moffat (Coupling, Doctor Who, Sherlock), all started as fellow nerds and Whovians. But that’s a rather testosteroneladen list.

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Buffy, BSG and Torchwood writer Jane Espenson

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE

What about the rest of us? Geek girls, fangirls, nerd girls – whatever label you choose. We’re out here, ready to produce the next Doctor Who, Star Trek or Star Wars, given the opportunity. And yet, my short list is, well, rather… short. This shouldn’t be so hard…

Maybe Buffy and Battlestar Galactica alum Jane Espenson (she also wrote for the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood starring Arrow’s John Barrowman) should have a go as head writer/show runner for Doctor Who? She’s written for just about every sci-fi/fantasy series in recent history (the ones I care about anyway), including Game of Thrones and Firefly.

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“Outlander” author Diana Gabaldon with her two Jamies

Perhaps Outlander author, Diana Gabaldon, should try her hand at writing for our favorite Time Lord? Considering Outlander’s connection to Doctor Who it wouldn’t be a stretch. I wouldn’t mind a return to purely historical Doctor Who stories like The Aztecs, The Crusades and Marco Polo (from the William Hartnell/First Doctor era).

Fellow Whovians, which female writers would you like to see pen a Doctor Who script?

NEXT UP

Series 8 continues… Stay tuned for tonight’s episode of Doctor WhoFlatline.

Airing Saturday, October 18th at 9pm on BBC America.

Peter Capaldi and Katy Manning Recreate Some Special Doctor Who Memories


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Earlier this week, former Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) companion Katy Manning, known to fans as UNIT agent Jo Grant, visited the set of Doctor Who. She and current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, had a blast re-enacting some scenes from her time with the series. The 67-year old actress truly enjoyed her time with the 12th Doctor, and it showed, calling him “one of the most charming men I’ve ever met.”

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Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

I can’t believe how happy these pictures made me feel. It struck me how right they looked together – Doctor and companion – together again. Thus proving that Peter Capaldi is the man for the job.

Katy loved returning to her old (if renovated) home, the TARDIS, and getting treated to a sneak peek of the upcoming Christmas special. “I know is going to be the best Xmas DW special!” She said.

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Days Gone By…

My only regret, these pictures weren’t part of an on-screen adventure with the 12th Doctor. I miss the late Lis Sladen (former companion Sarah Jane Smith) terribly and the last time we saw Katy in the “Whoniverse” was when she reprised her role as Jo Grant alongside Lis and 11th Doctor Matt Smith in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode Death of the Doctor. I’m still holding out hope for a classic companion to return to the series… A girl can dream. I wonder what ever did happen to Jo Grant and her son…? But I digress… as I often do…

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And as The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) says to The 5th (Peter Davison) in  Time Crash, “all my love to long ago…” We sincerely hope to see Katy on board the TARDIS again soon.

NEXT UP…

In the meantime, Series 8 continues. Stay tuned for tonight’s episode of Doctor WhoThe Caretaker.

Airing tonight on BBC One at 8:30pm and at 9pm on BBC America.

Into the Heart of Doctor Who: Into the Dalek

Apologies for the late, post Labor Day check-in, fellow Whovians, but here are my thoughts on last week’s episode of Doctor Who: Into the Dalek – just in under the wire – written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat.

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Not Just for Kids…
Many fans of the series, like myself, grew up with Doctor Who (we’re loyal to the last). Things that frightened us (or made us hide behind the couch) as children, no longer scare us. Suspending our disbelief was a lot easier when we were young. And while it’s true, kids are more sophisticated now, and special effects have evolved, there are certain truths that reach deep inside and take hold of us all… shaking us to the core.

There has been some debate whether or not Doctor Who is a kid’s show. From the outset, Doctor Who was designed to be, and still is, a family show – meant to appeal to both children and adults for different reasons. It is meant to entertain us, frighten us, and move us… meant to make us feel… whether we want to or not. I doubt there was anyone who didn’t shed a tear when Adric died (Earthshock), even if you had mixed feelings about him. That last shot of his shattered Badge for Mathematical Excellence lying on the ground, as silent credits roll by, still stirs strong feelings in me years later.

I grew up during the Philip Hinchcliffe era and was introduced to Doctor Who via episodes like The Talons of Weng Chiang and The Brain of Morbius. With an overdeveloped fondness for Hammer films, I am particularly predisposed to enjoy the darker, more horrific side of the Whoniverse.

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That being said, Doctor Who always finds a way to get me, even now… because at its core, it wrestles with moral dilemmas we all wrestle with. It moves us deeply on an emotional level. Doctor Who can hit you hard, usually when you least expect it.

In spite of The Doctor’s vast age, Death is always at his shoulder, his constant companion. As we got older, we started to realize our hero is a rather complex man with demons and secrets (beyond his birth name) of his own. He lives more in the gray than we’d like to admit, and with a darkness in his hearts even he would rather not look too closely at. Perhaps that’s why he is always running…

Nature vs. Nurture…
Into the Dalek resonates for me on an emotional level and harkens back to earlier episodes of Doctor Who. Reminiscent of the themes presented in Genesis of the Daleks (Tom Baker – The 4th Doctor), Resurrection of the Daleks (Peter Davison – The 5th Doctor) and Dalek (Chris Eccleston – The 9th Doctor), and the moral dilemmas therein.

The Doctor struggles in all three stories with his hatred of the Daleks, and with the right course of action take. Whichever way he turns, even the audience is uncertain. Should he have aborted the development of the Daleks in Genesis, or killed Davros in Resurrection? He chose the to take the moral high ground in both those stories, only to be faced with a surviving Dalek after the Time War in Dalek. He had to have wondered then if his inability to take action on those previous occasions could have prevented that fateful day, leading to the Fall of Arcadia on Gallifrey, and the destruction of his world.

These themes come up again in Into the Dalek. The Doctor is forced to help an injured enemy, and in doing so, it challenges him look into to the depths of his own soul. Is there such a thing as absolute evil? Is everyone, even a Dalek, capable of redemption? Can there be such a thing as good Dalek? Or, no matter how much it changes, at its core, does it remain the same – a hate-filled killing machine, bent on destruction? When it comes down to it, the real question seems to be – is The Doctor a good man? He wonders himself and that question troubles him. Even his dear friend and carer, Clara, is not certain…

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Samuel Anderson as Coal Hill School teacher Danny Pink

Not the Tin Dog!
I like Clara feisty. No longer the fawning girl with a crush, she puts The Doctor in his place when he gets out of hand. She isn’t afraid to slap some sense into him, much like former companion Donna Noble (played by the indomitable Catherine Tate). Clara is more than his carer, she’s become his moral compass. Because as Donna once observed, The Doctor shouldn’t travel alone – he needs someone – someone to keep him grounded, someone to hold onto, and keep him from slipping deeper into the void.

Our brief introduction to Danny Pink (played by Samuel Anderson) was promising. A fellow teacher at Coal Hill School (the same school Susan, The Doctor’s granddaughter, attended on Earth) working with Clara, Danny is definitely likable.  There is a mutual attraction between Danny and Clara, but male love interests tend to take a backseat to The Doctor. Hopefully he won’t suffer the fate of previous companions Rory (Arthur Darvill) and Mickey (Noel Clarke) – chasing after women who appeared to love The Doctor more.

Given what little we know of Danny’s past, he was in the military and he suffered a great loss. It is likely, knowing how The Doctor feels about soldiers, there’ll be friction when they finally meet. However, there was friction with The Brigadier (played by the late, great Nicholas Courtney) too, and he went on to become one of The Doctor’s greatest friends and allies.

Perhaps Danny will take on the more traditional role some early companions filled (like Ian, Steven, Ben and Jamie). Once The Doctor(s) started growing younger, male companions started to to become somewhat obsolete, often sidelined, landing themselves in dungeons (like Mark Strickson’s Vislor Turlough, whom I quite liked), or dead (like Matthew Waterhouse’s Adric). As a side note, I would be fascinated to see a companion like C’Rizz (portrayed by Conrad Westmaas in the 8th Doctor Big Finish Audios) on screen.

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Zawe Ashton as Journey Blue

Clearly, there is a traumatic event in Danny’s military career that he doesn’t want to talk about, something that still haunts him, and we’ll learn more as his story comes to light. The chemistry between Danny and Clara seemed a bit rushed and I couldn’t help but get a Coupling vibe from their interaction – after all, Moffat and his wife, Sue Virtue, produced Coupling (which reminds me, I still want to see Richard Coyle on Doctor Who, but I digress).

Even though I quite liked Danny, I think it would have been interesting to see a female soldier like Journey Blue (portrayed by Zawe Ashton) on board the TARDIS to challenge The Doctor at every turn. For some reason, I can’t help but recall Brigadier Winifred Bambera from Battlefield – the first female soldier to make a noteworthy appearance in the Whoniverse. I wonder what she’s up these days? But I digress… as I often do…

The Mysterious Missy…
There have been so many theories about her identity at this point, I’d almost rather not venture a guess. I’ve heard everything from The Master to The Rani (I would like to see her return), to Romana (another character I’d welcome from the Classic era) to an embodiment of the TARDIS herself, but with Doctor Who anything is possible, so I won’t lay odds just yet. Keeping my cards close to the vest, but let’s just say I feel like we’ve been in that Garden before…

Final Thoughts…
I’ve observed that Capaldi exudes the irritability of Harntell, with the alien madness of Tom Baker. Truth is, I see shades of all the Doctors – as it should be – and Capaldi, as a fan of the series himself, clearly embodies the spirit of all that has gone before.

As he was quoted as saying in an interview during the recent Doctor Who World Tour:

“I think this show’s kind of in my DNA. I think it’s sort of part of me. So I think I can recognize when it’s right and when it’s not right.” – Peter Capaldi

That being said, I rather enjoyed Into the Dalek. It was a good follow up to the season opener. We gained more insight into The Doctor’s personality post-regeneration and the demons dwelling within him. I’m eager to learn more as future episodes unfold.

NEXT UP: This week The Doctor meets the legendary Robin Hood (Or does he?) in Robots of Sherwood, guest starring Tom Riley from Da Vinci’s Demons. I can’t wait for this one.

Doctor Who airs Saturdays on BBC America 9pm/8c.

Here is the trailer for Robots of Sherwood.

Outlander Meets Doctor Who

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“The Two Jamies”

I promise, I won’t say “all roads lead back to…” Ooops!

But here is a great photo of Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser in Outlander), author Diana Gabaldon (the lucky lady pictured in the middle) and Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon in Doctor Who). Frazer Hines was Diana’s inspiration for her book Outlander.

Frazer will be appearing in Episode 15 of Outlander as Sir Fletcher Gordon, governor of Wentworth Prison. Can’t wait to see him grace our screens again.

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Taking In Doctor Who: Deep Breath

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“He’s the doctor. He has walked this Universe for centuries untold. He has seen stars fall to dust… You might as well FLIRT with a mountain range.” – Madame Vastra

Before diving into the Doctor Who Series 8 opener Deep Breathlet me get this declaration out of the way — Peter Capaldi IS The Doctor and I will tell you why.

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FAMILIAR FACES

Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax all make their welcome return in Deep Breath, Peter Capladi’s debut episode as the 12th (or is it 13th?) Doctor, to help ease companion Clara (and the fans) through The Doctor’s transition from The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith). As many of us remember, The Doctor in a regeneration crisis can be quite a predicament.

WHERE’S A ZERO ROOM WHEN YOU NEED ONE?

I can’t recall even one time when The Doctor had an easy time of it post-regeneration (unlike Romana in Destiny of the Daleks). It takes time for him to stabilize both mentally and physically. As the Fifth Doctor  (Peter Davison) tells his companions, it takes a little time for his “dendrites to heal”. And of course, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is no exception. He struggles with everything — his memories of his friends, how they look, how they speak, their appalling accents! That’s right… because apparently, not only do most planets have a North, but they have a Scotland too (picture me saying it with a Scottish accent, far more amusing that way).

“You’ve redecorated… I don’t like it…” – Clara Oswald

Even though a regeneration can be seen as a renewal, poor, traumatized Clara (Jenna Coleman) seems quite skeptical this is her Doctor (in spite of meeting his earlier incarnations – including John Hurt’s War Doctor). Her assumption is, The Doctor should start out young. Had she met the first four Doctors, she wouldn’t have been in such shock (but then she had met them, when she was splintered across time and couldn’t remember those encounters).

As Madame Vastra (played by Neve McIntosh) points out, The Doctor is not a young man. He’s lived for centuries, millennia, in fact.  The Gallifreyan is over 2,000 years old (if he even remembers his age correctly by this point) by the time we see him in Deep Breath. He has lived many lives and has worn many faces. It is fair to say The Doctor is far from young.

Still, Clara needs convincing… but that’s not The Doctor’s only problem…
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