Damien – Will We Love Him? Hate Him? Or Love to Hate Him?

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Last year I saw reports that Lifetime had a new horror series entitled Damien, based on the classic 1976 film The Omen, starring Lee Remick and Gregory Peck (with Patrick Troughton from Doctor Who as the impaled priest, because you know, all roads lead back…). But when the series failed to materialize in early 2015, as reported, I didn’t know if I should be upset or relieved.

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An intense Patrick Troughton as Father Brennan in “The Omen” (1976).

Omen II (1978) starring William Holden, Lee Grant and Robert Foxworth, saw Damien reluctantly (though not too reluctant) accept the mantle of Antichrist, and Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), starring a then lesser-known Sam Neill, saw Damien’s rise to power.

The new series Damien, which somehow landed on A&E, would seem to fit in the timeline between the second and third films, whilst ignoring the remake (starring Liev Schreiber and Julia Styles) entirely. From what I understand, Damien draws heavily from the original 1976 film (not sure where this leaves the 1978 film Omen II) and follows an adult Damien Thorn (as a photojournalist, not a politician) apparently unaware of his destiny, definitely setting the stage for some great drama and suspense.

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Harvey Stephens as young Damien Thorn in “The Omen” (1976).

Given the popularity of Bates Motel, it seems fitting that A&E, instead of Lifetime, has picked up the series. Created by Walking Dead producer Glen Mazzara, one hopes for something that honors the original film’s chilling tone. Certainly Mazzara is no stranger to pushing the horror envelope.

I feared Lifetime would err on the side of “camping things up”, ala The Witches of East End (which is a guilty pleasure I admit to, in the vein of Charmed, so no angry letters, please). But for Damien, I want something else. I want to see his journey – his evolution. If there’s anything human in him, I want to see how deeply conflicted he is as he is tempted toward the dark side – “Yes, Damien, he is your father.”

This will require an actor with skill, someone who can be likable and charismatic, as well as haunted and dark. Enter fan favorite Bradley James (Merlin, iZombie). An IMDB search to see what James had been up to led me to this little tidbit, and I was immediately intrigued, and dare I say it, excited.

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Bradley James as Prince Arthur Pendragon in the BBC Series “Merlin”.

With his leading man good looks, James was cast as the heroic young Arthur Pendragon in Merlin (2008-2012), and more recently, as the funny, charming and lovable musician Lowell Tracey in iZombie (he quickly endeared himself to audiences as Liv’s ill-fated zombie lover – a sentence I thought I’d never write, and will probably never write again).

To keep audiences hooked he’ll have to walk a fine line between sympathetic/tortured and downright evil, as we know what Damien is destined to become. We know Norman Bates’ fate and the fates of those around him in Bates Motel, given the source material Psycho, still we find sympathy for Norman as he battles against a severe mental illness and hallucinations that compel him to kill.

Unlike Norman, whom we meet as a teen under the thumb of his controlling (still alive), neurotic (possibly borderline personality) mother Norma, Damien (as portrayed by Bradley James) is a grown man. He may not be so easily manipulated and he will likely be aware of his actions.

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Norman Bates as portrayed by Freddie Highmore in the A&E series “Bates Motel” and Anthony Perkins in the 1960 film “Psycho”.

As we saw briefly in Omen II, Damien initially has reservations about his future as Prince of the Underworld and overlord to humanity, but he turns too quickly for my taste, killing his cousin and best friend Mark, when Mark rejects him upon learning the truth. This is where he seems to turn towards the Dark Side, never to return. However, in Omen III the tables are turned, and it is his humanity and feelings for a woman that becomes his undoing. (Sorry for the spoilers, folks, but the films have been out for over 30 years). Again, this felt forced. I wanted to see a more remorseful, conflicted Damien. Perhaps now I’ll get my wish.

Let’s face it, we love our reformed bad boys, don’t we? Complex, brooding, bad, but with a softer side. We certainly love our tortured supernatural beings – starting with the first repentant vampire Barnabas Collins (Dark Shadows), inspiring characters like Nick Knight (Forever Knight), Angel (Angel), Methos (Highlander), and more recently, Damon Salvatore (Vampire Diaries) and Klaus Mikaelson (The Originals).

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Bradley James as Damien v. 5.0 (If you count all the films).

It will be interesting to see Damien’s development over time, and if like Klaus in The Originals, if he will walk that tightrope between villain and sympathetic anti-hero; someone who loves deeply, and is fiercely protective and loyal, only to doom those closest to him, due to his nature and the beast within (in Klaus’ case, his vampiric/hybrid nature, in Damien’s, his demonic birthright). Is Damien damned? Does he have a choice? Or was his fate sealed before he was even born?

I’m intrigued, not to mention, more than mildly interested in seeing more of the devilishly handsome (see what I did there?) Bradley James (hopefully in various states of undress… but I digress, as I often do…) and definitely looking forward to seeing him as Damien Thorn.

Damien airs Monday, March 7th, 2016 at 10pm EST on A&E after the season premiere of Bates Motel.

For more, check out this trailer for Damien.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Review

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Cover by Steve Morris

They say two’s company and three’s a crowd. This is especially true when you have the Mr. and the Ex tagging along. Complicated further by unresolved feelings, sexual tensions, and old rivalries, and you’ve got yourself a classic lover’s triangle. But like anything else in the Buffyverse, amp that up by ten. Let’s not forget, Buffy is no ordinary gal, and her suitors are both supernatural creatures of the night.

So awkward doesn’t begin to describe the encounter when Angel (Buffy’s former love) arrives to aid The Scoobies and face the news that Buffy’s current flame is none other than frenemy Spike (aka William the Bloody when Angel and he used to pal around, committing heinous acts and leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake). Throw in some fangs and sharp implements of death and destruction and you’ve got a perfect recipe for disaster – never mind a lively “ex-boyfriend barbecue”.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Panel

TEAM SLAYERS…

Still, the team must put their differences aside, along with that time Angel killed Giles (good times), among other fond memories, to band together, bringing their collective mojo to defeat the evil Archaeus, a demon which has been attempting to control soulful vamps, and rivals for Buffy’s affections, Angel and Spike.

Of course, evil-doers must be fought, minions dispatched, and quips exchanged, in good ole’ Buffy fashion. What is actually more terrifying and surprising, is the fact that Andrew imparts some seriously thought-provoking words of wisdom, which had me waxing all philosophical. But I digress… as I often do…

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Variant Cover by Rebekah Isaacs

HANGING OFF A CLIFF…

What happens next will leave you on the edge of your seats, as any good crossover event should do, with a cliffhanger that will have you crying “Noooooo!!!!” to rival Shatner’s “Khaaaaaaan!” in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. Ok, maybe that’s a little bit over-dramatic, but I got your attention, didn’t I?

Once again, the team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs (love her variant cover for this issue, btw) deliver, along with Steve Morris’ cover art, suitable for framing. I really need to collect these as prints. (Steve, help a nerd gal out, will ya?)

If you’ve been staying with Season 10 of Buffy, don’t turn back now, pick up Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Issue 17, out today, at a comic book store near you!

For more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics, check out my reviews at Skeletonpete.com.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Review

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Cover by Steve Morris


A Bridge Between Worlds…

I’ve always loved a good crossover. That’s just something the nerd in me can’t resist. I would become super excited as a kid whenever The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman would have a crossover event. An episode would start on one show and end on the other. It’s still true now, I geek out whenever The Flash makes an appearance on Arrow (and vice versa).  And it always worked for Buffy and Angel, even when they were on different networks, just like it did for that other super-couple Jamie Sommers and Steve Austin.

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Bionic duo and former lovers Steve Austin aka the Six Million Dollar (Lee Majors) and Jamie Sommers aka the Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner).

When Angel (repentant vamp and Buffy’s former love) left Sunnydale all those years ago, we knew he’d be back, and likewise, Buffy wouldn’t (couldn’t) stay away from him either. With dark slayer Faith (portrayed in the series by Eliza Dushku) traveling back and forth between both shows, there was always a bridge, and always a chance for a crossover event. Angel even shows up briefly during the Buffy finale.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Panel


When Worlds Collide…

Is it any wonder then that the writers of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith comics have teamed up to create a season that allows each series its’ own arc, while still letting one be part of the other’s story as well.

We all know that whenever Angel turns up in Buffy’s world, it means angst and complications. Having your first love show up while you’re involved with your current love is hardly a simple matter (read messy and awkward). I call this the “ex-boyfriend barbecue”… and I’ve been there myself… but I digress, as I often do…

Ever since the “Love Dares You” arc, starting with this season’s eleventh issue, Buffy and Spike have reconnected romantically, and after many long years of waiting, fans let out a sigh of relief (myself included). Of course,  hi-jinx must ensue when Angel is called, by none other than Spike (Buffy’s other on again/off again/currently on again beau) to aid in their latest fight against Archaeus, an ancient demon who has been tormenting both Angel and Spike. There is way too much history between these three, going back to when Spike was sired (turned into a vampire for the newbie) by Drusilla (who was sired by none other than Angel). There was a whole lot of siring going on back then. Oh, those wacky vamps!

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Variant by Rebekah Isaacs

Suck Up and Deal…

Of course, there’s no time to wallow in hurt feelings and awkward silences when there are demons to slay, and the old team bands together to do just that, in their own unique fashion. Equipped with banter aplenty and sharp and pointy implements of death and destruction – not to mention a whole lot of hacking and slashing – they get to the task at hand. However, it’s just the beginning for our Scoobies, and the big bad for this season has yet to be dispatched.  After all, what would a crossover event be without a cliffhanger?

As always, the team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs aim to please and do not disappoint, and Steve Morris’ cover art always impresses.

While each series can stand on its own, do yourself a favor and pick up both Buffy and Angel & Faith Season 10 books. They’re even more fun together.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Issue 16 is due out tomorrow, June 17, 2015! Get it at a comic book store near you!

For more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics, check out my reviews at Skeletonpete.com.

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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REVIEW: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 10 #11 PART 1: DARE TO LOVE

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Buffy Season 10 Issue #11 Cover by Steve Morris

A THORNY PATH…

They say the path of true love never doth run smooth and roses have their thorns… Cliche, but true, and quite the understatement for Buffy and her friends. Relationships are complicated at best, and romantic relationships are probably the hardest thing to get right, for anyone… For vampire slayers and demon hunters, this is doubly true.

Complications abound and hi-jinx ensue when Buffy and the Scoobies find a little down time to examine their feelings and their broken relationships. With the rules of magic being re-written (with Willow’s help) and the world more aware of its presence, you’d think it’d make life a little easier, right? Of course, no episode (or issue) of Buffy can be completely angst-free, and at some point, this issue’s big bads have to surface. For once, I’d say they’re almost welcome.

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Buffy Season 10 Issue #11 Variant Cover by Rebekah Isaacs

Meanwhile, a Harry Potter-like, 12-year-old Rupert Giles continues to struggle with his second adolescence. Painful enough for any pre-teen, but never mind a pre-teen with a middle-aged man’s memories… Memories of a full life and lost loves. A second childhood might be welcome to some, but not for him. Poor Giles hasn’t had much luck in the romance department either, and when an old flame shows up, things go from bad to mortifying. How many ways can we spell awkward?

However, the script seems to flip for our resident uber-geek and reformed super-villain, Andrew Wells (portrayed in the series by Tom Lenk). When did he get a life? I must have blinked and missed something.

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Andrew Wells (Tom Lenk) during his “super-villain” phase (note the Death Star on the van).

LOVE AND MONSTERS…

Issue 11 is classic Buffy fun (Christos Gage masters the Whedon/Buffyverse voice), with more than a few moments that are reminiscent of some real life dating horror stories I’ve heard friends recount. Including the indignity of speed dating (which I can gladly say I’ve never had to endure). I’ve only ever heard it work out for one couple I know (ah bless). Of course, the ending, though not surprising, will be satisfying for most fans (including me), however, with Part 2 (and Valentine’s Day) on the horizon, I can’t allow myself to be lulled into a false sense of security. This is the Buffyverse, after all.

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Buffy Season 10 Issue #11 Birthday Variant by George Jeanty and Tariq Hassan

FINAL THOUGHTS…

I love Steve Morris’ cover art, as always, so much so, I’ve often considered them suitable for framing. But papering my walls with Buffy comics might seem a bit much, no? Maybe if I was 12 again (it would be the coolest room ever), but I digress, as I often do…

For this installment, artist Megan Levens replaces Rebekah Isaacs (who provides the Issue 11 variant cover), and Megan does a great job picking up where Rebekah left off.

For more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics, check out my reviews at Skeletonpete.com.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Issue 11 is due out tomorrow, Jan 21, 2015! Get it at a comic book store near you!

Buffy Season 10, Issue 8: Return to Sunnydale Part 1 (Halloween Issue) Review

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Buffy Season 10 Issue 8 Cover by Steve Morris from Dark Horse Comics


WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T GO HOME?

17 years have passed since Sarah Michelle Gellar first burst onto our TV screens, staking vamps and slaying other fiends, as the feisty, wise-cracking valley-girl Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s been more than a decade since Buffy and friends left Sunnydale, and our TV screens, for good. The former home of our beloved Slayer and fellow Scoobies, sucked into the Hellmouth – gone forever. The gang settled in Santa Rosita and vowed never to return…

This year, Dark Horse Comics debuted Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 with Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs crossing over from the Angel and Faith series (also from Dark Horse), to take the helm for Joss Whedon’s and Dark Horse’s flagship book. Written by Gage, and beautifully illustrated by Isaacs, the Scooby Gang are back and better than ever.

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Buffy Season 10 Issue 8 Variant Cover by Rebekah Isaacs from Dark Horse Comics

In this latest installment, Buffy and company must return to Sunnydale. And in a world where the rules of magic are being re-written, there is no telling what consequences spell-casting will have, especially that close to the Hellmouth, the epicenter of evil.

Even worse, the playbook Buffy has been using since first becoming a Slayer is missing. The Vampyr book, first given to her by her mentor and Watcher Rupert Giles (played in the series by Anthony Stewart Head), has been taken. By what, or whom, is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile, has anyone seen Andrew?

But that’s not all, folks…

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Buffy Season 10 Issue 8 Preview Panel

MYTHICAL MONSTERS, FISTICUFFS AND FUN

There’s a new – yet ancient – enemy to fight, more innocents to save (though you might wonder why), more banter, and still more cauldron-sized trouble brewing. Just remember, the road to hell was paved with… well, you know how it goes. That’s all I’ll say…

Issue 8 features guest artist Richard Corben, known for his comics in Heavy Metal magazine, and a variant cover by Rebekah Isaacs. It is also just in time for Halloween – which most us of know – is the time when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest… Something to consider…

Issue 8 is an entertaining, quick read and left me wanting more… A must for Buffy fans, both old and new. I’m sure there’s a hell of a pay off, so stay tuned for the next issue.

For more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics, check out my reviews at Skeletonpete.com.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Issue 8 is due out tomorrow, October 22, 2014! Get it at a comic book store near you!

Celebrity Sci-Fi Hotties Take The ALS Challenge!

Social media is buzzing with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The goal is to raise awareness and money for research into Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). ALS is a devastating illness, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. There is no cure for the disease. Truthfully, I knew very little about it myself, that is until I heard about this campaign.

FAN FAVORITES TAKE THE PLUNGE

Thanks to celebrities like Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Robert Downey Jr. (The Avengers), subjecting themselves to buckets of ice water poured over their heads, news is spreading like wildfire, and donations are literally pouring in.

Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Serenity, Castle) then went on to challenge Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers, Thor). Stephen Amell (Arrow) challenged co-star John Barrowan (Arrow, Torchwood, Doctor Who), to take the plunge (insert evil laughter here).

It’s brilliant to watch some of my favorites take up the cause. Not to mention, it’s a great opportunity to see them in wet t-shirts… but I digress…

TAG! YOU’RE IT! 

Then Hiddleston went on to challenge Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness), Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter, Dark Shadows) and Luke Evans (The Hobbit).

Next up, Barrowman challenged co-star Colton Haynes (Arrow, Teen Wolf), Misha Collins (Castiel in Supernatural) and David Tennant (The 10th Doctor – Doctor Who). I knew that was coming! I can’t wait to see Tennant’s reaction.

This is getting interesting…

RECOMMENDED LINKS

So far, the campaign has raised more than $15.6 million to raise awareness about this disease and it is building even more momentum – exactly as it was designed to do.

To learn more about ALS and The Ice Bucket Challenge  please visit The ALS Association Website. 

To follow the campaign on social media type in the hashtag #icebucketchallenge.