Comics // Review // We Stand On Guard #2

Concise //

What on the surface looks like a science fiction romp with an extraordinarily high concept at it’s core (the US invades Canada) is actually a philosophical meditation on the nature and politics of the war on terror and how humans treat one another when they’re told they’re the enemy. It’s not without it’s problems, in both plot and philosophy, but it is an interesting read nonetheless and the subject matter is a rarity on comic book shelves. This is a worthwhile book that has been professionally put together, give it a look if you fancy something a little different with an interesting message.

We Stand on Guard #2 Cover

Spoilerful //

It is not possible to read this book as anything other than a damning indictment of American foreign policy over the past decade and a half. There is no question that this is a well written book: structurally everything is sound with a powerful flashback to Amber’s past opening the book and giving way to the events of the issue, some of which are surprising and well executed, and distinct characters are beginning to emerge organically (even as sufficient doubt is left regarding Amber’s true motives). However, the success of the entire thing hinges on its political message.

This book essentially transplants the real-world tragedy of the 9/11 attacks and subsequent war on terror from the Middle East to a future North America as the US invades, demolishes, and occupies Canada in response to an unprovoked attack on the White House. I suppose the idea here is that it will be more shocking to see American soldiers treat their Canadian neighbours with minimum respect and maximum prejudice than it would be to see them doing it to, say, a Middle Eastern country. American troops aggressively storm innocent family homes and take prisoners on unreasonable ground; they impose martial law on a sovereign state; they perform terrifying surgery on their own soldiers and the implication is that they torture their captives, and it is all in the name of protecting against a threat that has yet to be fully explained.

What this fails to take into account though is that this behaviour can’t be more shocking than it already is in the real world. Just because the victims of it are white and speak English it doesn’t make it worse. There is no excuse for this in any conflict, which I suppose is the point of the book, but we could strip away the scifi trappings and plot gimmickry (what if American invaded Canada?! And they used giant ROBOTS?!) and it would probably be a more powerful statement (but maybe the problem with that is a commercial one, would people want to read about the genuine horrors of the war on terror unless it features impossible politics and giant robots). Changing the targets of American ire to people who look and sound just like them also removes what is arguably an important factor behind the abhorrent actions of some people during war – institutional racism and dehumanisation of ‘the other’. Afghanis and Iraqis don’t look like most Americans, and they don’t sound like them either – that ‘foreignness’ can create an artificial distance, the idea that they are somehow lesser humans, that becomes an excuse to do inexcusable things at both a governmental and personal level. This is a huge issue, a frame of mind that needs to be talked about to prevent it from taking insidious root, and the closest the book comes to tackling it is the US troops use of pejoratives like ‘Nuck’ – a strong and believable detail, but only scratching at the surface of this terrible truth and sinister power of this narrative of ‘otherness’.

The nature of the instigating attack on US soil is yet to be explained, nor are we given any idea why Canada did it or how the US knew it was a Canadian strike. This obfuscation of the political background offers a direct commentary on the events that followed 9/11 and the confusion at the highest levels of government that led to a weak and ill-judged case for war – the justification for invading Afghanistan and Iraq was so vaguely positioned and ultimately flimsy that it might as well not have existed. The difficulty this approach poses in the book is that we have no way of knowing if the Canada is a dangerous terror state and thus may justifiably need to be countered to preserve the security of America. Maybe that’s the point – is there any action the Canadian state could have taken that would warrant the merciless persecution of innocent civilians in their homes. But perhaps it also undermines the military aspects of the book: the American’s are shown to be policing the Canadian wilderness and in each military encounter they give the resistance fighters a chance to lay down their arms peaceably. So are they tyrannical oppressors or guardians of American security who fight honourably? Despite these ambiguities the Canadian resistance is clearly positioned as the ‘good’ side in this war, with the actions and tactics of the Americans military being demonstrably heavy handed (just look at the clear U.S. boot print smashing violently through a door on the first page – no diplomacy, tact, or understanding, just pure blunt force). Maybe the plot will pivot and we’ll see the more sympathetic side of the US occupancy, but so far it feels like that whilst the Americans have certainly done some bad stuff, we’re supposed to believe that the resistance are the good guys just because we’ve been told that they’re the good guys.

A particular scene that felt forced to me was when Amber, understandably excitedly, rushes to take a shower at the resistance base. There is a large panel of Amber naked and showering before realising she is being watched. The voyeur turns out to be both gay and watching her for a legitimate purpose (to see if she has any American survelliance implants). This just be a smart scene that emphasises she’s not part of this team yet and sows doubt about Amber’s allegiance (“for a gal who’s supposedly been fending for herself all this time, you don’t got much wear and tear on you“), but also feels like a retroactive excuse to include a big page of female nudity. Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive, but it definitely stood out as a curious choice to me to have a two page scene with Amber in a bath towel in a book that is supposed to be about a bitter struggle against tyrannical forces. Another point that probably just comes down to taste, but I’m not keen on the robot designs. I guess the idea is that they look just as massive and ugly as their actions are devastating and oppressive, but to me they just look outsized and ludicrously impractical (mention was made of sound dampeners that last issue allowed one of them to suddenly appear next to our heroes unheard, but that requires a lot of suspended disbelief). When the team arrive in their base having tied an entire robot monstrosity to the roof of their vehicle it looked laughably stupid – how have 6 people achieved this when the robot is 3 stories tall?

This is an interesting comic book, one that raises powerful questions that are not being tackled that frequently in the medium. The storytelling, art, and character work is all expertly delivered; this is a good read. But it really is the political and philosophical weight of the book that will stick with you; casting recent history as a science fiction parable has it’s risks (do cool robots obscure the message beneath) but I think that this book, so far at least, is a success in this regard. The reader is constantly being asked to consider how a nation ought to behave in a war and how almost any action can be justified by a war for survival, but perhaps more importantly the book is going to great lengths to stress that both sides in a conflict are populated by real people. Proud, strong people willing to sacrifice everything to defend their homeland. Whether that is an unpalatable political message for you as a reader is of course something only you can answer, but at least this book makes you ask the question.

We Stand On Guard #2 Panel

We Stand on Guard #2 // Writer – Brian K. Vaughan / Artist – Steve Skroce / Colourist – Matt Hollingsworth // Image

Notes //

–  It is still not clear who the title refers to: is it the Americans or the Canadians who stand on guard?

–  Pedantry warning: Am I the only one who thinks it’s strange that the high level operative/interrogator is given a message by a random soldier in the cell – think about this for a second, she is a holographic projection in that room so is actually somewhere else all together, yet the colonel gets in touch with a random prison guard to ask her to give him a visit in a third room somewhere else. Wouldn’t he give her (or her PA) a call directly where she actually was, not where her hologram was?

–  Any one have a good guess on where that secret base is located?

We Stand on Guard Logo

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Comics // Review // E is for Extinction #3 / Secret Wars

Concise //

Writers Chris Burnham and Dennis Culver continue to deliver a crazy, fast-paced, and inventive revival of classic Grant Morrison era X-Men stories, characters, and concepts. No stone is left unturned in this consistently surprising book with fresh twists on everything alongside roller-coaster plotting. If you are a fan of the New X-Men book, or even just of spontaneous and mad-cap action then this is a great read!

E is for Extinction #3 Variant Cover

Spoilerful //

It is hard to really describe this book, events keep threatening to overcome the central characters at such a brisk pace that is sometimes hard to understand who the central characters even are. Concepts are introduced, given a chance to burn brightly, and are then ushered off as the next page brings something completely different. It could be a mess, but it is that breathless pace and sense of unpredictability that are actually the book’s strengths. Revisiting a classic story presents the dangers of boring rehash or sycophantic homage, but E is for Extinction is the perfect blend of the comfortably familiar (the core cast of the Morrison run, the same villains, some of the same plot points) and the wildly unfamiliar (wholesale and brilliant reimaginings of entire story arcs). There are also some strong moments of comedy, pathos, and surprise in these pages which just goes to further demonstrate just how great this book is.

The reworking of the Sublime/Beast villain into an army of Hank McCoy’s in contemporary timeline (rather than the dark future of Here Comes Tomorrow) presents a great challenge for the X-Men to face and even if the idea of an army of geniuses is never fully capitalised on (they basically just want to fight) there are some really great moments (not least the fact that future Beast is just one of the Sublime’s rather than an actual leader). Like much of the brilliance of this book the idea that Emma and the Cuckoo’s would work together to create an unstoppable psychic being, the six-in-one, is such an amazing and obvious evolution of the Morrison concept that I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before, and it yields an incredible set of pages as they turn off the mind of each Beast one by one. That ‘our’ Hank had been unconsidered in this plan is a great reveal and it plays on the trusting nature of the X-Men for their own. This Hank’s murder of Esme is a neat alteration of the events of New X-Men (where Sophie died and Esme became Magneto’s lover) and a powerful moment regardless. Things like this are what makes the book so much fun; new ideas are constantly being thrown at the page, some of them so original and perfect that is surprising they have only just arrived. Truly, this book has more innovations in it than the last thirty-five issues of Uncanny X-Men combined!

Ramon Villalobos’ art is a great fit for this story and there is an ever so slight hint of Frank Quietly in the uneven line-work and chunky physicality of the characters. But NAME is not content to sit in the shadow of the original run, instead bringing an energy and creativity all his own. The army of Beasts is a wonder with all of it’s variety, drawing on other designs, but staying true to the New X-Men look (personal favourites include the human-Beast carrying a knife and gun and the cat-Beast who turned up to the fight in his waistcoat!). Similarly the use of the Quietly uniforms for characters like Dust is a great touch. The panels of action are hectic, violent, and impactful, but there is still time to take in the motion due to some great layouts within the panels, and the characters look equal parts beautiful and menacing.

E is for Extinction wouldn’t make sense as an ongoing book; there is just so much going on in it that it never gives the characters time to decompress or fully absorb everything happening to them – they bounce from crisis to crisis (it is essentially a massively conflated exploration of the entire New X-Men run, touching on each major arc in a beautiful jumble of plots). But that’s OK, in fact it’s better than OK; this is a mini-series set in the midst of a line wide multiverse-ending comics event, and it’s remit is squarely intent on revisiting the wealth of incredible concepts that Grant Morrison introduced in his unforgettable New X-Men stories. The whole point of the book is to go on a non-stop flight of fancy. It has clearly been crafted with such a love for the era, and for the characters and ideas that Morrison played with, that it would be a joy to read even if it weren’t so damn creative in its own right. But it really is creative: every idea that is revisited, every moment relived or resurrected, is done so with a unique and unimaginably inventive new spin, and yet this still feels like an off-shot of New X-Men through and through. The story may be constantly evolving and changing, but each page brings echoes of the past and mirrored moments of that ‘true’ history. This aspect gives this comic another purpose, to act as a contrast to what we read in the original pages of New X-Men, and to pose the question of what might have been if Morrison’s world continued past his run instead of being deconstructed almost immediately.

The pleasure in reading this book is two-fold, we get to see those classic Morrisonian X-Men characters again, and then we get to see what unthought-of/brilliant/mad idea will turn up next to assault them next. To say that this is simply a revival is to sell it short, writers Chris Burnham and Dennis Culver and have really made this world their own and it is one hell of a place to visit!

E is for Extinction #3 Panel

E is for Extinction #3 // Writers – Chris Burnham & Dennis Culver / Art – Ramon Villalobos / Colours – Ian Herring // Marvel

Notes //

–  Beak picks his family’s weapon of choice for the fight against the Beasts, a baseball bat, much like he used to beat Beast whilst under Cassandra Nova’s influence in the original run. His grandson Tito would also wield a baseball bat in homage to Beak.

–  Great to see Ugly John make a reappearance.

– It’s interesting to see Ernst is in the fight; in Morrison’s run it was clear that Ernst was in fact the re-educated Cassandra Nova in the body of S.T.U.F.F, but in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men Ernst and Nova were completely unrelated beings. As this is a repurposing of Morrison’s run I wouldn’t have expected Ernst to exist (in this world Nova was killed whilst ‘in’ the professor’s mind and before she could have been trapped in S.T.U.F.F)

– The professor inhabiting the body of Quentin Quire whilst Cassandra Nova possesses the Phoenix is one hell of an ending!

Comics // Quick Review // Silk #6

This is the darkest issue yet of a series that, despite its roots in tragedy (Cindy was locked away alone for a decade after all), has been a consistent source of fun and humour. Cindy’s clearly been suffering from some form of PTSD since leaving the bunker and it has led to an increasing disregard for her own safety as she investigates her missing family and takes on the Black Cat on her home turf. Having been captured by the Repairman last issue Cindy is incapacitated for much of this one, strapped to an operating table and waiting for this villain to ‘extract’ her meta-human value for sale to the highest bidder. This is pretty bleak stuff, and Thompson goes one further by adding in a melancholic flashback to Cindy and her mother discussing the plan to hide in the bunker. The Repairman has even gone to the trouble of sealing off Cindy’s fingers so that she can’t spin any webs. The tone is dark, but Cindy is resourceful and calm under pressure, so of course succeeds in freeing herself, which speaks to her continued development as a superhero – in previous issues she has been plagued by self-doubt and insecurity, but when it’s most important she steps up (trying to save a bad-guys innocent kid last issue and effecting her own escape here) no matter the cost to herself.

Cindy receives back-up from Spider-Man and Black Cat herself and this is where the issue runs aground a little. Spider-Man is present at the start of the search for Silk, but then disappears until the end of the book for some unexplained reason; this is to give Silk and Black Cat some one vs one time and we certainly don’t want Spider-Man saving the day all the time, but this is an arbitrary way to avoid it. It is also somewhat unclear what motivates Black Cat here, until now she has been equipping street thugs and effectively putting out bounties on Silk, but all of a sudden she is friends with Spidey again and desperate to find and save her. Whilst this is a confusing development it does at least give an excuse for some truly excellent art from Stacy Lee and colouring from Ian Herring. The action scene between Silk and Black Cat is great stuff and features a lot of smart moments (Cindy bandages her dislocated hand with webbing, uses a rapid horizontal web-pull to get out of the way of a collapsing roof, and uses Black Cat and a fire escape to slow her own fall). The panels where we see the webbing stretch taut stopping Silk hitting the ground and then the elasticity bungee-ing Cindy back up to confront Black Cat in the air are really simple, great moments that use the physics of this world and the power-set we are familiar with in unfamiliar and interesting ways.

Stacey Lee’s art really does remain perfectly attuned to the evolving style and tone of this book managing to evoke Cindy’s current emotional state. Even simple things like the weather have been called upon to illustrate the mood of the issue, when Silk has been feeling good and winning fights it has been deep beautiful orange sunsets, but now that she is feeling the emotional and physical strain the city is pelted by oppressive rain.

The issue ends with a few interesting moments: Spider-Man is intensely self-involved and more interested in whether Cindy considers him a good guy than what she needs; Cindy returns to the bunker to declare war on the people who have her family and have been watching her all along; Cindy finally accepts that she may be suffering severe mental trauma and decides to seek out help; and the end of the multiverse makes its first appearance (leading into the Last Days of Silk next issue prior to Doom’s Secret Wars activities). With Stacey Lee’s art bringing everything to life this book is on great form; Cindy’s story is unusually complex and emotionally rich and the mysteries surrounding her lost years continue to make for compelling reading.

Silk Logo

Silk #6 // Writer Robbie Thompson / Artist – Stacey Lee / Colouring – Ian Herring // Marvel

Television // Review // Killjoys / Season One

Concise //

Killjoys is the story of three bounty hunters operating in a dangerous corner of the galaxy whose lives become ever more entangled in local politics and their own dark secrets. Although the show isn’t perfect it is a heck of a lot of fun owning to a well crafted season long arc that has been put together with clear consideration and love. The show works wonders through, amongst other things, judicious use of a presumably tight budget, a genuine attempt to develop a unique visual palette and look, lively & characterful dialogue, and a surprisingly fresh approach to many traditional scifi tropes. The core cast bring their best to every scene, giving performances that are believable and charismatic (even when the dialogue occasionally gets clunky) and it is a testament to their talents that Dutch, John, and D’Avin often seem like they are having a tonne of fun living in this world. Another bonus is the strong bench of quality guest and recurring actors and the effort from the writing staff to imbue their characters with their own diverse stories is well worthwhile. The writing team deserve further credit for the inventive and satisfying storylines that they weave through this entire season; plenty of familiar science fiction plots are used, but more often than not there is a clever twist or an innovative climax that takes the viewer by surprise.

I decided to watch this show because I liked the (admittedly generic) premise, but I kept watching because there was an obvious dedication to making an original and inventive show; despite that, it wasn’t until a few episodes in that I discovered that this could be much smarter than I’d given it credit for and by the time I reached the final arc I was fully invested in the lives of these killjoys and the mythos of The Quad. This is fun space adventure done just right and I for one hope Syfy bring the show back for a second season.

Killjoys Team Still 1

Spoilerful //

Following the exploits of team leader Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), tech wizard John (Aaron Ashmore), and former soldier D’Avin (Luke Macfarlane) Killjoys is a show that takes it’s budget, characters, plotting and traditional science fiction elements and does absolutely everything it can to make sure every ounce of value is on the screen. The killjoys are essentially bounty hunters and they spend their time having action adventure fun catching villains of every stripe, but as the politics of their home, The Quad, grow more complex and dark figures from their own pasts reemerge things might not stay fun forever. The shows setting is well realised through both production design and dialogue and the cast are given plenty of fun dialogue to banter back and forth as they go about moving through the various plots, but where some shows are content to deliver a weekly blast of procedural by the numbers thrills Killjoys has more ambitious plans. Initially I was unsure about the show; despite some slick ads and an interesting visual look the nature of the show seemed to be focused on the smugness of unbelievably good looking and capable bounty hunter types blowing stuff up (not necessarily a bad thing, but not essential viewing either). I was pleasantly surprised then when the characters quickly began demonstrating much more depth than I had anticipated and the show’s adventures took on increasingly sophisticated subject matter and complex structures. This show may not go on to be a timeless classic, but it was quickly apparent that it is one of the most enjoyable and compelling genre shows on right now.

The show is consistently surprising in a number of ways; firstly there is a conscious and well planned effort to develop the mythology of the Killjoys universe. Concepts like the RAC (Reclamation Apprehension Coalition), the political dynasty’s of Qresh, scar-back priests, and unkillable-space-assassins all could have been introduced and left pretty much how they were when they first showed up. In fact the show’s initial quartet of episodes would have you believe that that is exactly what will happen as the dynamics of the team are quickly established and then random space adventures ensue. Fortunately the show is more committed to it’s world than that and elements of those adventures go on to form the basis of a much grander story arc revolving around the economics and politics of The Quad, the nature of the RAC, the history of our leads, and the plight of the downtrodden. The second source of regular surprise is the smartness of the plotting throughout episodes and across the season as a whole. Characters and concepts that are introduced and serve a purpose in a given episode return organically in later episodes with new information to offer or obstacles to overcome, and the writers aren’t afraid to go against expectations in order to deliver surprises (take for instance D’Avin’s actions on Dr Yaeger’s orders or the deaths of supporting characters like Jenny, Turin, or Carleen). A stand out early episode is A Glitch in the System (episode 5) which deploys traditional science fiction and horror tropes (seen even as recently as the week before on the same network) to establish a tone and expectation for the episode that is suddenly proved entirely misleading at the midway point. Sure, the episode ultimately still features some familiar elements in it’s resolution, but the confidence in the writing and the conviction with which the cast (in particular D’Avin’s Luke Macfarlane and guest-star Richard Clarkin) play their parts raises the quality of the entire enterprise. The fact that red-herrings and maguffins from episodes such as this one also go on to play a role in the wider mythology of the show is an other reason that the arc of the series feels so satisfying – we are being given information all the time, but it is only when the missing clues are provided that it becomes clear what we have been seeing.

The show is not without its silly moments or oversights (security cells are not closely monitored, henchmen are all terrible at their jobs, highly secure facilities are easy to access, etc.), but the majority of these feel like concessions to plot efficiency or budgetary restrictions rather than genuine mistakes or an attempt to get one over on the audience. In fact the show seems to go out of its way to drop in smart one liners that justify earlier character choices and plot developments. A particular favourite of mine in this regard is the very reason that nefarious assassin Khlyen (Rob Stewart) has made a reappearance in Dutch’s life – usually these things are passed of as coincidence (take for instance Lex getting out of prison the same day Superman gets back from Krypton in Superman Returns, or, Peter Parker and Norman Osborne getting their powers in the same week in Spider-Man), but here the elegant explanation is that Khlyen has been waiting for Dutch to ‘graduate’ to a kill warrant as proof she is ready for further training, proof that comes when Johnny takes the kill warrant for his brother D’Avin in her name so that they can save him. This all rather neatly ties together the introduction of D’Avin, the reappearance of Khlyen, Dutch’s continuing unwillingness to take on kill warrants, and the subsequent change in the team make-up that signals a new chapter and our jumping on point in their story.

The show has clearly set out with a remit to create a visual palette akin to some of the most popular current science fiction. Fortunately, in trying to replicate the likes of the Guardians of the Galaxy production and Star Trek (2009) lighting design Killjoys actually comes off as a more interestingly filmed show than many of it’s televisual ancestors (or contemporaries). The most recent genre show with a similarly stylised approach to lighting, for example, was probably Battlestar Galactica, but outside of that it is hard to recall a science fiction TV show that wasn’t shot with just a ‘point all the lights at the centre of the room’ kind of feel. Much of the production has been designed to create the feel of a rich and detailed universe; the various core sets have a certain Firefly quality (itself a show angling for a Star Wars (by way of the wild west) flavour in its production design) and seem suitably well-lived in. Lucy, the Royale, and Old Town in general all have the feel of a well thumbed book, whilst some welcome visual variety is offered by the various bespoke locations in each episode (deserts, abandoned starships, bureaucratic space stations, religious training grounds, etc.). Alongside the costume design (mostly functional contemporary gear with the odd sarong or curiously cut jacket to scifi it all up a bit) the production does very well to overcome the budgetary limitations that plague most scifi shows and actually make this into a believable environment (as opposed to, say, Killjoys Syfy stable-mate Dark Matter which, perhaps due to a larger core cast, looks far less ‘realistic’ with larger empty sets that lack character and are occupied only by convenient obstacles to use in fights). It’s also worth noting that amongst the many action scenes in the show there are some well choreographed and well executed fights with those variously between John-Kamen, Macfarlane, and Stewart being particularly good.

Killjoys Team Still 2

Throughout the season the show performs admirably when it comes to creating interesting character dynamics, even with those of secondary and one off characters, with a healthy mixture of neatly resolved and ambiguously open arcs by the finale’s close. Dutch and Johnny have a strong friendship and platonic love that whilst complicated by D’Avin is mercifully free of jealously or unrequited love; it is refreshing to see a male and female relationship in a show like this that is built on mutual respect and admiration and doesn’t necessarily mutate into lust or love. The romances that do spring up (D’Avin/Pawter, D’Avin/Dutch) have some complexity beyond the simple off/on drama with questions like Pawter’s medical ethics, the emotional consequences of mind control, and the ability of adults to reconcile after a relationship ends for reasons out of their control all making things messier and more believable. Similarly the sibling bond between estranged brothers John and D’Avin yields some subtle drama (dealing with abandonment) and some not so subtle stuff (getting stabbed by a loved one who is being controlled like a robot) and there is plenty more in their chemistry that is left to explore. It is also very nice to see plenty of satisfying moments for background & supporting characters across the season. This is especially prevalent in the season finale, as Pree, Pawter, and even Hills get interesting and touching scenes to wrap up key parts of their personal stories, and what’s more the show delivers a few genuinely touching moments with characters introduced in that very last episode as the Rat King and his people are shown to be the only real kind hearted citizens of Westerley ultimately paying the price for the merciless politicking of their ‘betters’.

The show climaxed with a bold, but pleasantly surprising, decision to destroy the majority of the regular season one locations like the Royale bar in Old Town (that is assuming that Old Town was completely destroyed in the bombing). There is still plenty of visual continuity for season two with Lucy remaining intact (as well as Leith Bazaar and the RAC) so this presents a great opportunity for the writers to grow The Quad and take us to interesting and refreshing new locales. There are also plenty of story lines still in play following the events of the finale, each offering many interesting avenues for the characters to go down. Perhaps the one that stands out as most interesting for me is not D’Avin’s fate but rather his brother Johnny’s (we now D’Avin must ultimately rejoin the team after all). There has been some subtle work throughout the season to edge John closer to the scar-back cause and his blood-rite recantation in the finale just serves to evidence that he may have become more indoctrinated than even he thought. Add to that the potential guilt he might feel for Carleen’s death (if he hadn’t stolen that computer-water would she be dead?) and we could see him take solace in religion which may put him in direct conflict with the RAC.

The first season of Killjoys played a smart long game, taking the time to introduce characters and build its world, before leading the audience into a well orchestrated and highly serialised arc for the back half. This structure has really paid off with characters given plenty of time to shine and grow as engaging and sophisticated beings, whilst the various plot strands have been brought together in a way that is not overwhelming, but that does offer rewards to the keen-eyed viewer. Everything that takes place in the finale, and every character caught up in those events, has been well developed across the season ensuring that each arc ends with a satisfying and well deserved conclusion. I wouldn’t have believed it back when I first watched episode one, but Killjoys became appointment viewing for me over the course of the season and I am eager to know where these characters and their story goes next. Let’s just hope that the Syfy channel makes the right choice and commission a well deserved season two.

Killjoys Dutch Still 1

Notes //

–  I’m a big fan of the tightly edited previously at the start of each episode, I especially like the quick cut dialogue free sequence that precedes the plot stuff.

– Characters, particularly our fearless killjoys, often get hurt doing their jobs and boy does it look like it! Kudos to the actors and make-up crew for making the frequent fights seem like they have consequences.

– There are a few instances of cool future tech being a key plot element (notably the genetic bomb, but also things like the crawling-spider-bomb-necklace and the neat floating target ball from episode 7) so I’d love to see more of this kind of thing in season two.

– The weakest moment in the season finale was the fight with a level 6 killjoy – first off, level 6’s have always been a rumour and no evidence of their existence has ever been found, but as soon as Khlyen admit’s he is one they just start showing up on regular missions and admitting to anyone what they are?! Secondly, I have no idea at all why Johnny is the one to save the day here – the entire season has clearly established the roles of Dutch (close combat), Johnny (tech support), and D’Avin (strategy and gunplay) so why was there a sudden need for Dutch to become (albeit briefly) a damsel in distress? She has kicked ass all season so this felt a little forced to me.

– Season Two predictions: There is a great deal more to Alvis than it appears; taking out that guard was some merciless stuff and I’d be surprised if we don’t learn more about his dark past before he became a monk // Pree ought to set up a bar in Lucy’s hanger bay so he is on hand for wisdom and consolation 24hrs a day // Pawter and Johnny have to get together, right? And if they do how will Lucy take it?!

Killjoys Titlecard

Comics // Review // Black Canary #3

Concise //

Opening with an outstanding, mostly wordless, set piece this issue also finds time to drop in weighty revelations and hard-earned character development. This is easily the strongest issue yet of an already great book where the art, writing, characters, and setting all begin to click in exactly the right way – if you aren’t reading this yet then now is the perfect time to get involved.

Black Canary #3 Cover - Annie Wu

Continue reading Comics // Review // Black Canary #3