Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Star Trek the Next Generation/Doctor Who Assimilation 2 vol 1 review

Star Trek the Next Generation/Doctor Who Assimilation 2 vol 1

IDW

2012

104 pages $17

I have stated before that I do not generally like licensed books.  They rarely managed to capture the certain special something about the franchise that you liked in the first place.  I think it is as much in the reader’s knowledge of the property as anything.  Sometimes it is our preconceived ideas about the characters and how they “should” behave that ruins these books.  This is one of the reasons to me that John Byrne’s Star Trek stuff for IDW and Peter David’s New Frontier series have worked so well.  Much of it deals with characters on the edge of the franchise that we can come to them fresh.  That cannot possibly be the case in ST:TNG/Dr. Who Assimilation2.  (Wow that’s a long name) as this is a book that jumps in feet first and uses all the characters it can.

Written by Tony Lee, Scott Tipton and David Tipton and drawn/painted by Gordon Purcell, The Sharp Brothers and JK Woodward, this book’s pedigree is certainly impressive and these creators do not disappoint.  This first volume of the series does good fan service and represents both franchises well.  At C2E2 this year, I had a chance to speak with Woodward and see some of the completed pages he was displaying.  They were fabulous and he was clearly thrilled to be working on the book.  The final product shows this.  Books like this involve a lot of photo reference and need a lot to look right.  In all the right places, Woodward has used the perfect look of a character and they fit the appearance that the reader expects.  The failing of books like this as far as the art goes is that the characters too often look so different from the expectation of the reader that we are pulled right out of the story.  That does not happen in the Woodward pages.  When a tight close up is not used, the shot is more loose and iconic, giving the clear impression of the character without trying to be an exact look-alike.   The pages by the other artists do not fare quite as well, but to be fair it is a harder trick to pull off in solid line art.  Those pages change in art fits the flashback nature of those pages exceptionally well and the surprise treat(assuming you had not seen the spoiler on the cover of the individual issues) for fans of both franchises is a nice touch in the story.

Speaking of the story, this one is a lot of fun.  Both franchises feel at home in this book and the quirks of both shine through.  Anyone that knows The Doctor from before the 2005 resurrection will likely be aware that the Borg from ST:TNG owe a HUGE debt to the Cybermen.  Created decades earlier, the silver cyborgs from The Doctor’s adventures were scary and threatening long before even Captain Kirk’s earliest adventures.  Putting them together in the same story is inspired and goes exactly as you would expect.  One faction ruthless, cold and emotionless, and yet constantly duplicitous and conniving, the other cold, logical and somehow based on fear and loss, and their interaction is interesting and surprising.  The Doctor and his companions are in fine form here and the TNG crew is just as I remember them.  The intersection of the two universes is handled in a very TNG style, with Guinan and the Doctor being the only ones with any idea at all what is happening, and Picard a bit dubious of this fellow in the blue box.  There is really no point in the story where something pulled me out as can often happen in these kinds of mashup.

I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did.  I really wanted it to be great and it was much to my surprise.  As a fan of both franchises since the late 70’s, this book was a treat that I don’t expect to see matched for a very long time.

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Doctor Who

I have been a fan of the show since the late 1970’s and have liked all of the Doctors to one degree or another.  The era I enjoyed the most of the classic series was Peter Davison’s time in the box.  I liked the innocence he seems to experience.. As if it was all new to this Doctor.  He was finally beginning to become a character rather than the caricature that he had started to become in Tom Baker’s last season.  I should say at this point, I am a fan of Mr Baker’s version, I just felt that his last season didn’t work very well.

With the new revived series in 2005, we were treated to a slightly darker Doctor, but not in the way that modern revisions of classic properties generally go.  This darkness was earned, not just imposed.  This Doctor cared about those around him, but carried in himself a coldness and distance from everybody.  With David Tennant the Doctor relaxed and began to enjoy his life in a way we have never seen before.

And now there is Matt Smith.  He so effectively mixes the past eccentricities of the other versions, that for the first time in the series history, we really feel the Doctor’s age.  Never mind we still don’t really know how old he is.  Even in the new series, they have been giving us contradictory info.  He is an old soul finally, but we see him gain a sense of utter joy and wonder at everything around him.  That combined with a growing awareness that he is getting older, nothing explicitly stated in the show, just my own impression of the character.  That is one of the things that Smith has done.  A performance so deeply nuanced that everyone watching brings something with them that seems to be directed to just them.

The stories from Matt’s first season were uneven, the new season so far, even more so.  But this season in particular hits high notes so powerful, that even the non arc episodes end up with moments to love.  Being a Neil Gaiman fan, I was so pleased that the story he contributed to this season was good, I was almost giddy.  Adding to that was the huge helping of fan service, making the most geeky fun the series has been since it’s return.  The very old (the messaging devices from The War Games) to the much newer (the Eccleston/Tennant control room) made this a great geek-gasm.  It is interesting to me that in all the chatter about the most recent episode The Rebel Flesh, that no one has made mention of the obvious possibility that this story has a connection to the opening story of the season and it’s still unresolved death scene.  Don’t worry, no spoilers.

I have not offered anything new to the huge wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing that is Doctor Who, I just wanted to spend a few minutes appreciating something that fills me with the same feeling it did 30+ years ago.  Better even than that really, because now the show allows me the warm glow of nostalgia, something I didn’t feel a lot of in my teen years.

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My Day at C2E2 part two

Let’s see now, where was I?  Oh yes, left of with Skeletor.

I will try not to be quite so wordy but I had a great time in even just the one day, so I’m feeling a little bubbly.

One of the things that the wife and I were particularly looking forward to was the chance to meet Danielle Corsetto, creator of the webcomic Girls with Slingshots.  We were a little scared when we failed to find her booth right off, and wandered about for a bit looking for them.  Despair soon started to fall as we still failed to find her.  For those not in the know, GWS is a spectacularly funny webcomic she and I discovered a few weeks ago when we were looking through the C2E2 guest list.  I had been hoping mt favorites would be there again this year (Wondermark and Questionable Content–links on the home page) and finding that they were not, was looking for other things that might be fun.  Faye, that’s the wife as a reminder, saw the strip first and quickly got me into it as well.  The adventures of Hazel, Jaimie McPedro (the talking cactus!) and the legion of odd kitties they have has been one of the most fun strips I have ever read.  Started in 2004, the strip has been going strong ever since and has been Danielle’s full-time gig for quite some time.  As things were really looking bleak, we saw the booth.  There was nobody in the way at that moment and we pounced!  She was an absolute delight to speak to.  We each got McPedro plushies, and she did up word balloons to go with them.  Since we are both dirty minded, we asked for something dirty in the balloons and she happily obliged.  The less dirty of the 2 is below…

The drunken hero of our story...

She was a blast.  I also got the kitties poster which she added a ghost kitty sketch to, and a Special K mouse pad which she drew on as well.  Then she posed for a picture holding one of our McPedros with another in the foreground.

We all have photos like this in our past.

The big mission for Faye had been completed, and to be honest, meeting the creator of something I am currently very into was a lot of fun.  Most of what I do at these cons is talk to the older creators that were influencing my more formative years, so to have something current be as much fun as GWS is made this all the more special.

Then we moved on and found one of the collectibles booths that specialized in the more rare and, to be fair, pricey stuff.  I was not going to be able to pay the kind of money being asked for this beautifully crafted shield, but the guy selling it was more than willing to let me get a picture with it if we went over to the booth next door and donated $5 to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Awareness folks that were there.  With the donation happily made I got my hero moment.

Not quite the Cap I remember

This thing was magnificent, and if I had $450 to spend on something that would sit on a shelf  (except for those times when the wife is out and I can stalk bravely around the house with it on my arm) I would have bought it in a heartbeat.

No comic and sci-fi convention would be complete without a little Doctor Who stuff, and in the booth that featured Mr. McNiece, mentioned last time was a great “Ironside” Dalek from the episode Victory of the Daleks.  I was surprised at how good it looked and didn’t think to ask if it was something that the store running the booth had created or if it was a genuine prop, or just a great replica.

Then we went back into Artist’s Alley for a while.  I have found that I need to do the alley in multiple trips through.  Partly due to the lines that may cause me to shy away until later, but also because I get a little overwhelmed.  You can very quickly become blinded to what you see and not remember any of it.  I try hard to hit a specific list of creators that I want to be sure not to miss.  I like to get them done and be sure I don’t miss the things I specifically came for.  I like the con sketchbooks a lot and I usually bring one item for each of them to be signed.  This year Gail Simone, Adam Hughes, Kevin MaGuire, Jill Thompson, Terry Moore and Dexter Vines were just a few of them and I managed to catch all of the above and most of the others on my list.  I will go into more about the people and the art next time.  Here I want to continue with the fans and the fun sites that you always see at these cons.

Among the many amazing costumes this year were a few more mid level characters represented.  Every cons sees lots of Wonder Womans and Batmen, not that many get graced as effectively by Booster Gold and Arnold J Rimmer from Red Dwarf!  As these two shots below show, you can do basic costumes well and if you really want to much more difficult costumes well if you are willing to make the effort to do it right.

Toodle-pipskie

The greatest hero you've never heard of.

There was lots of Marvel costumes too.  Some of the best were the Age of Apokolips versions of Wolverine, Rouge and Magneto.  At I think that’s where they are from since I didn’t read that series.

So what do you think? Taco Bell or Fishy Joe's?

I will wrap up this post with the last few of the very best pictures my wife Faye so ably took.  The next post will cover the stuff I brought back with me.  Well some of the stuff.  It is very easy to spend yourself into the poorhouse at these things just buying only the coolest stuff and leaving the just kind of cool for someone else.

The captions for theses following pictures say it all really…

A Star Wars family

No con is complete without Slave Leia

Good costumes for the MOS and the DK

The Dread Pirate Wesley

And no group of con pictures would be complete without hearing from the lovely ladies.  With these, I will leave you till next time when I wrap up my coverage of C2E2 2.0!

"I'm sorry Messrs Allen and West, DC Comics will not longer be needing your services."

An Adam Hughes drawing come to life!

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My day at C2E2! Part one

OK, the first thing I have to say is, next year I will go for 2 days or maybe the whole 3 day extravaganza!  Last year I didn’t feel rushed, this year I just didn’t manage to see anything like all I wanted to do.  Next year at least 2 days.  The reason I did just the one day this year and last was, I am not a crowds person.  Friday is the least crowded, so there.  Next year I will just have to deal.

The littlest Amazon Princess!

This little powerhouse was the first and one of the best costumes we saw all day.  I should mention at this point my lovely wife Faye took all of these pictures, and they all look great!

It turned out to be a very nice sunny and more or less warm day for mid March.  We took the train into Chicago and walked a few blocks to the Artists Cafe on Michigan Avenue downtown.  After a very good breakfast, we hopped the bus and got to the con way earlier that I had intended.  I like getting there early just not 2 and a half hours early.  But that put us only 30 or 40 people from the front of the line, so that’s OK then.  As always at these kind of things, you can find people you have never met and have a perfectly nice chat while waiting in line.  Never mind they are total strangers and you will never see them again, even at the con.  These are people who are “one of us” so it’s OK.  I did actually see a few of my line buddies through the day.

A stylin Black Adam, Wolverine and Oh my GOD!!

More of the people who give these conventions their flavor.  This was the scene just outside the con floor while people were beginning to mill around.  I didn’t see all that many good costumes on Friday last year.  This year they were everywhere!  Many were very elaborate and most were really very good.  there were a few stupid looking one and there is alway some fool that puts no real thought into it at all and just wears some crappy store-bought plastic mask with a string holding it on.  But for the most part, this was a great and creative bunch.

Then, as the 501st div of Star Wars guys ushered the waiting line of fans in, I failed completely to be a grown up and be nice as the pictures below demonstrate.  In the first one I can just be seen sneaking up on the Stormtrooper, next all you see is me being a bit of a weenie and showing that even an adult can act like a doofus.

Yes, I am an immature nerd!

Then the con silliness and fun really got going with me meeting a giant Uglydoll…

This is the kind of fun that I largely missed out on last year but that I caught this time around.  While seeing more of the color and fun this year was great, it is absolutely why I didn’t manage to get as much of the other stuff into my experience this year.  Last year I was all about Artist’s Alley, and to be fair, that was most of the goal this year.  This year what changed was having the wife along.  I invited her because last year was SO much fun and there were so many things that I knew she would enjoy.  I wanted to even things out a bit this year since I knew deep down that the alley would not be as interesting to her as she really has only a cursory knowledge of comics and the people who make them.  That is why it will be a 2 day adventure next year.  This day was just too rushed.  Next is a friend of ours, Kurt Wood.  He is also my dealer as he provides me

with a large dose of comics at the shop he runs in Milwaukee.  ( see the link for Collector’s Edge Comics on the sidebar of the homepage)  He is also a great and really fun artist.  His stuff can be seen at his homepage on the links section.

I'm not ugly, you ugly!

Then it was deeper into the alley.  Like every year, I have a list of ones that I want to make a point to get to.  I usually manage 3/4 of that list or a little better.  Longer than expected lines, or a change in their schedules causes me to miss some each time, so that is just the way these things are.

One of my favorites for the last 20 years or so is the wonderful Jill Thompson.  Her art has Graced the pages of Sandman (including the fabulous Lil’ Endless Storybook), Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing and

I have the power!

her creator owned Scary Godmother series of books.  I have been to see her 3 or 4 times now and have managed to get stuff signed and have enjoyable and informative chats every time.  She is always very generous with the fans.

Jill Thompson and I.

Meeting different artists and writers has always been fun for me.  It is always exciting to tell people that they improve my day with their life’s work and they almost always are appreciative and grateful that you like what they do.  They sit at these uncomfortable tables for hours and they rarely lose the ability to make each fan feel like they and they alone are the reason they do what they do.  Jill is no exception.

I didn’t get pictures of everyone I saw.  In some cases it was because Cameraperson Faye was distracted elsewhere, but more often it was because I am such a helpless fanboy that I forget.

One I didn’t forget was Stephane Roux.  He is one of the best cover artists in the industry today, most know for the great covers he is doing for DC books like Zatanna.

Stephane Roux

He and Jill were both on their second year at C2E2, and seeing them, like many of the others that returned for the second year of this con gives me great hope for the continued existence of this new show.  Stephane is always eager to meet the fans.  Not every artist is as comfortable as he is.  It takes real skill as an artist and real people skills to work on a commission sketch at the same time you are speaking to and making eye contact with the fans.  Many very experienced and talented people just have never mastered it.  Doug Mahnke is another artist we saw this year.  As talented as they come, he is most recently known for his run on the Green Lantern books.  While Doug is a really fine artist, he is lees comfortable with the fans, I think.  Another favorite of mine that has to specifically and deliberately split things up between time for drawing for fans and time for meeting with them more directly is Adam Hughes.  There are few that seem to attend as many cons as he and his wonderful wife and equally talented artist Alison Sohn.  But it is clear that he wants to work on the commissioned sketches and set aside specific and limited times to sign and devote direct attention to the fans.  To be fair, even the superstar artists like Adam make a sizeable portion of their income from the commissions done at these shows, and while there are fans that begrudge them the lack of attention paid to fans at times, the shows can a big deal to these guys.  Adam does not ignore people when they come up while he is drawing, far from it as he can be very talkative, but when he is working Alison tends to be the one you spend time talking to.  She is a very fun and witty person and she believes passionately in what she says.  this year she was pushing hard to get donations for Japanese earthquake relief.  When the signing times that Adam has set aside arrive, he pays great attention to the fans and clearly enjoys the time spent getting to know them.

Me and Christian Alamy

Next up we take a moment to mention 2 real fun moments for me.

Christian Alamy is another artist on the Green Lantern books with Doug Mahnke.  They were seated next to each other in the alley.  I had a hardcover for him and Doug to sign and then broke out something that he clearly had not seen in a long time, a copy of The Endless Gallery.  That is the floppy open on the table in front of him here.  He was so excited to see it, he interrupted Doug in his meet and greet next to him to show him the page he had done years ago in this pin-up book.  He thanked me very warmly and was a real treat.  The next one was later in the day outside of the alley in the exhibitor’s section.  Specifically at the Dr Who Store booth.  A guest in the booth was the grand and glorious Ian McNiece.  He was there as he made appearances in the 5th series of Doctor Who as Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  Signing and posing for pictures with the fans, he is clearly a fine and likeable man.  While I am a Doctor Who fan of several decades, I was not here to talk about his excellent turn as the PM.  No, I wanted to thank him for one of my favorite films, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but came down a Mountain.  When I mentioned that and another old film of his, A Life Less Ordinary, he leaned back in his chair and howled with laughter and clapped his hands.  He loved being reminded of something that he had done so long ago and we chatted about the films briefly.  As far as I am concerned, both films are better for his presence and The Englishman is funny almost entire because of his performance.  He is fabulous as the much stressed elder surveyor to Hugh Grant’s leading-man character.  It was a highlight of the con for me to so delight 2 people with examples of the far-reaching and lasting effects of their work.

I will end this first part of my experiences at C2E2 2011 with another silly and fun example of the costumes the fans were wearing.  Even the Mighty Skeletor wants to get autographs of his favorite artists!

Taking a break from getting his ass kicked by He Man.

I hope you enjoyed this first look at C2E2 2.0 in Chicago.  I will be back with what will likely be 2 more posts about the day in the next few days as I continue to marshal my thoughts about the day.  See you soon.

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