Monday, January 20, 2020

The Watchmen Companion (2019)

The third Watchmen related product to come out in the same week is The Watchmen Companion.

Arguably the least controversial of the Watchmen spinoffs*. (Seriously, if read one more article about the Watchmen TV series or Doomsday Clock that calls it an unauthorised sequel... I get the murkiness but under the letter of the contract DC holds the rights).

The Companion is split into three parts: The Watchmen Roleplaying modules “Watching the Watchmen”, “Taking Out the Trash”, and “The Watchmen Sourcebook”; Various Watchmen promotional pieces and articles done by Moore and Gibbons; and The Question #17.

 The Question issue was okay. Vic Sage reads Watchmen and tries to act more like Rorschach, finishing with the Question declaring that “Rorschach sucks”. As we all know The Question was the inspiration for Rorschach – as I’ve pointed out that hasn’t stopped creators trying to watchmen-ify the Charlton heroes in stories like The LAW Living Assault Weapon and Pax Americana.

The promotional pieces are interesting and informative especially in hindsight. In an illustration for an article in Amazing Heroes shows The Minutemen’s character sketches and we see an alternate name for Hooded Justice, Brother Night. Fans of the TV series would be going “oh,” (I had a quick flick through Gibbon’s Watching The Watchmen and that detail doesn’t seem to be in there).

But the gold mine here is the RPG modules, which make up the majority of the book. Alan Moore worked with the writers to turn out these two prequel adventures and the source book. Reading the modules is challenging in the same way that reading a script is. It just takes some adjustment.

 “Watching the Watchmen” confirmed my theory that Captain Metropolis is a little bit dodgy. “Taking out the Trash” explains how Nixon ultimately became Vice President in the Watchmen world. The Sourcebook is an expanded version of the back matter of the graphic novel, it confirms that Rolf Muller is Hooded Justice and states that the Comedian killed him. 

*Saturday Morning Watchmen or Dave Gibbons “Watching the Watchmen” would also be in the running. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Doomsday Clock (12 issue maxi series) written by Geoff Johns and art by Gary Frank

After the Before Watchmen collection of miniseries, I was less than keen for a new comic set in the world of Watchmen. But this was a sequel, and I’d long been intrigued by seeing where the world went next. Intended to finish at the end of 2018, this book ran over time and by a quirk of synergy the final issue came out the same week as the final episode of the TV series and the Watchmen Companion.

The story starts in 1992, Veidt’s deception has been discovered and the world immediately begins firing nuclear missiles. The world’s only hope is to track down Dr Manhattan. Not a bad start, Veidt is joined by the second Rorschach and the criminal duo of Mime and Marionette.

 I’m intrigued by the new characters. Who is the new Rorschach? Johns does a great job with this mystery giving us a character who is only hinted at in one panel of the Watchmen comic, (yep I was sent scurrying to the comic to see if it was legit. It was)

The problem is that the majority of the series is set in the DC Universe so we have to focus on the considerably larger cast of DC characters. Batman and Rorschach interact as do Adrian and Lex Luthor and any ambiguity if Veidt is a villain or a hero is out the window. There is a final confrontation between Superman and Dr Manhattan (the briefer Manhattan/Captain Atom clash was a disappointment)

There is a notion going through the DC Universe of the Superman Theory – America has the majority of superheroes because they are deliberately being created by the US government. It’s an interesting idea and I wonder would it have would have worked better without the Watchmen stuff. We discover that Dr Manhattan was responsible for the New 52 universe and his interference prevented the formation of the Justice Society and Legion of Superheroes.

Ultimately, I didn’t care. The crisis of infinite reboots that is DC makes me ask is, will this story still count/matter after the next round of retcons? I did like the idea that the Watchmen characters end up back in their own universe and their experiences in the DC Universe have injected some hope into their world. Ultimately is this a satisfying story? Yes. Is it what I would have liked to have seen? Not really, seeing the Watchmen characters in the DCU wasn’t something I’d hoped to see – we already had the Charlton heroes in there and writers have tried several times to make them into their Watchmen counterparts, The L.A.W. miniseries and the Pax Americana chapter of Multiversity come to mind. The artwork is really good and seems to have been the hold up with the stories. There were several articles that announced that the art for issue 12 was now done. The delays really hurt this series as it went longer and longer I presume that more people would have dropped the book or forgotten about it – some of the revelations and returns to continuity that should have debuted here had been preempted in other titles.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Watchmen: the comic. Alan Moore (story) Dave Gibbons (art)

Holy smokes!  I realised that I hadn't transferred my old Watchmen related reviews over from Opera so I'll be inter spersing the new reviews with the old

  What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this graphic novel? Well one aspect I think has been overlooked is the pulp/serial vigilante influence on Watchmen.

Let’s look at the pulp references in Watchmen. The obvious point to begin is with Hollis Mason, The original Nite Owl – whilst not strictly a pulp reference but when we first meet him on page nine of chapter 1 we see that he has a copy of Phillip Wylie’s Gladiator, a novel considered by many to have been an influence on the creation of Superman. Later in the “excerpts’ from Under The Hood, we see that Mason was a fan of the Pulps referencing The Shadow and Doc Savage (Chapter 1; PP4-5*) While Superman is also cited as an influence it is The Shadow that Mason references in the second excerpt from Under The Hood (Chapter 2; p7) in designing his outfit. Hollis Mason is the only Golden Age character we are privy to the full reasoning why and how they adopted a costumed identity and it seems that he is a fan of the pulps.

It is appropriate the second Nite Owl – Dan Dreiberg is also a fan. Dreiberg wrote Mason to get permission to become the new Nite Owl and Dreiberg spends his time with Mason reminiscing about the past. Dreiberg also owned a Silk Spectre Tijuana Bible when he was younger.

Much has been made of the comic book influences on the characters of Watchmen but there is a pulp/serial vigilante influence. Now in some cases it may be a stretch and I certainly don’t suggest that there is the simple correlation that Watchmen shares with the Charlton characters.

 The most obvious is Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt)– like Doc Savage he travelled the world gaining knowledge becoming the physical and mental peak of human ability – both Savage and Veidt have remote polar bases.

 Rorschach - His simple outfit of trench coat and fedora calls to mind Pulp private eyes like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and also Pulp heroes like The Shadow, The Spider (as seen on the covers), and The Whisperer. Rorschach’s journal calls to mind the war journals of the Executioner and the recordings of The Assassin Robert Briganti. (I would mention the Punisher but he’s a comic book character)

 The Silk Spectre (I & II) - The original Silk Spectre like The Domino Lady uses sex appeal to fight crime.

 The Nite Owl (I & II) –There is a similarity with The Black Bat as well as The Black Hood. The Black Hood is fairly unique in making the leap from comics to the pulps. The second Nite Owl invokes the wealthy crime-fighting playboy trope seen in many pulp heroes.

 The Comedian – Certainly Johnston McCulley’s The Crimson Clown invokes a similar naming convention, but I’ve long thought that The Comedian’s original costume resembled that of The Avenger especially as depicted on the covers of the 1970’s Warner books reprint and revival novels.

 Captain Metropolis- Many pulp heroes have a military background like Captain Metropolis such as Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Spider

Dollar Bill- The Corporate superhero as far as I can tell has no precedent in the pulps but several serial vigilantes, Hawker and The Expeditor come to mind, are sponsored by millionaire backers.

Mothman- This character had a fairly insignificant role in Watchmen but if we look at some versions of the penny dreadful character Spring-heeled Jack there is a slight resemblance in that both use mechanical aides to fight crime one flying the other leaping

Hooded Justice – His appearance is that of an executioner – possibly an allusion to Mack Bolan’s crime fighting persona.

Silhouette – Dressed all in black, a silhouette is a type of shadow, perhaps she was intended as a distaff version of The Shadow.

Like I said earlier these are very thin but it appears that the Minute Men are very much in the pulp/mystery men mould with the Shadow and Doc Savage as a partial inspiration for at least one of the members. The second generation of heroes – The Crimebusters (Watchmen in the movie version) with the exception of Doctor Manhattan would seem to borrow from the serial vigilante tradition as well as that of comic book characters.

Watchmen can be seen as a metaphor for the Superhero (Doctor Manhattan) replacing and superseding the non powered mystery men/pulp hero (every other hero mentioned above. We see this especially with Doctor Manhattan and Hollis Mason Nite-Owl I. One of the reasons Mason retires is the appearance of Doctor Manhattan which made Mason feel redundant. Mason plans on becoming a mechanic. Ironically, one of Manhattan’s inventions, an electrical car, quickly renders his new career equally redundant.

 Doctor Manhattan’s role in Vietnam meant that in this alternate reality, the events of that War most likely would not have caused the burst of vigilantes we saw in fiction in our world.

 * The page numbers are from the “pages” from Under The Hood.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Watchmen Season 1 starring Don Johnson, Regina King

Well what a show. Nine episodes and a complete story. Sure there were some dropped threads but generally speaking all the big questions were answered. There are going to be spoilers, don't say I didn't warn you.

We open in 1921 with the Tulsa race riots. America like Australia has moments in history that they should not be proud of. The Tulsa massacre was a real event but we don't find out the significance of it until later, several commentators have pointed out that the Tulsa massacre is in effect the destruction of Krypton. And serves as the traumatic origin of at least one character.

But that was not readily apparent and took several episodes to tie it all together. I didn't mind but it did create a little confusion as we jump to nearly a century later in the present day and I was trying to find the link. But I was rewarded but staying with the show – the sixth episode focussed on the first of the costumed adventurers Hooded Justice.

And the show succeeded in sending me back to the graphic novel to see if the revelation of who Hooded Justice was under the mask was plausible. Truth be told I have a couple of doubts. Fistly in Under the Hood, Hollis Mason says that he heard Hooded Justice openly support Hitler – not something that I would expect from the African-American Will Reeves. There is a hint that the German propaganda Will’s father brought back from World War I might account for this.

Next the actor they choose for 1930s Will Reeves seemed a little small to be Hooded Justice who shares a build with circus strongman Rolf Moller. I could make explanations that Mason was deliberately obscuring Hooded Justice's identity but that feels like I have to do too much damage to the Graphic novel.

Also Will is a man with a wife and child (and we need the child as we discover that Hooded Justice is main character Angela Abar's grandfather.) He is in a homosexual relationship with Captain Metropolis and as a beard for that he's swanning around with Sally Jupiter the original Silk Spectre on his arm. It's too much but for the TV series to work with the comic but for Will Reeves as Hooded Justice to work we need all three to happen. The latter two being what we knew from the graphic novel which the creators assured us was canon. (The TV series wisely doesn’t bring Sally Jupiter as a beard into the episode)

Another thing that bothered me as reread the graphic novel, the similarity of Hooded Justice’s origin to the first Nite Owl, both were cops in the same city at the same time, both read Superman comics and were inspired to put on costumes and fight crime. Now similar origins in comics aren’t unusual (Batman and Johnston McCulley’s The Bat – both of whom created their crime-fighting identity after a bat flew through their window). So it’s not impossible for it to play out that way but it doesn’t help my suspension of disbelief.

(given the racial politics of the show surely Hooded Justice’s original of nearly being hung and wearing the noose home has to be a reference to Jussie Smollett’s faked racially motivated attack)

 Ultimately, when watching the episode it seemed plausible enough and I am being really nit picky. I have to admit I loved the whole show.. The show has multiple callbacks to the graphic novel.

 The official tie-in Petey-pedia allows from interesting expansions to the lore of the world. Interestingly, with the Sister Night centred episode – Angela Abar took her name from a movie of the same name. Agent Petey’s memo about the movie expands about the origin of the movie and how it falls in the “Black Mask” genre which is a hybrid of Blaxploitation and Superhero movies. Now Angela’s surname Abar was niggling at the back of my mind I was sure I’d heard it before in a similar context and Agent Petey mentions Sister Night (1977), The Black Superman, Tarantula and Batman. The latter birthing a legion of click bait articles “Batman exists in Watchmen” It was the Black Superman that finally reminded where I’d heard her name. There is a real 1977 Blaxploitation movie called “Abar, the First Black Superman” (renamed “In Your Face” for VHS release in 1990). I’d presume that this was the source of Det. Abar’s surname.

Rereading Watchmen the graphic novel, while watching the TV series was equally rewarding. In Adrian Veidt’s interview in the back matter of issue 11 Adrian mentions the Seventh Cavalry. The context is completely different from the one seen in the show but one wonders if that was the source of the name (equally did Veidt form the 7th Kavalry to help discredit Rorschach )

I should mention the new characters primarily introduced though the Defence of Police Act. After the Seventh Kalvary attacks on police officers this act was introduced to allow police to wear masks and conceal their identities. The regular beat cops wear a yellow mask on their lower faces and detectives are allowed to create their own identities – the series focuses on Det Angela Abar’s Sister Night and Looking Glass, the latter’s origin tied to the ending of the Graphic novel. Red Scare, Pirate Jenny and Panda all appear but are background characters if there is to be a second season a focus on these characters would be welcome.

The TV series is a worthy continuation of the world of the graphic novel. If this all we get I can’t complain .

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Super Australians (2019) edited and conceived Chris Sequeira

Where to start? This book is a cleverly themed anthology to create an Australian super team ala Justice League or the Avengers. Chris’ idea harkens back to the classic Justice Society books – where the heroes get to together and recount their separate adventures with Wonder Woman as secretary.

I am certainly not aware of every Australian comic but most that I’m aware of are single character books – The Phantom Ranger, Crimson Comet, etc. I can only think of two or three team books Forerunners, that had a single title in the 90s, Southern Squadron from the 80s and 90s and the current revival of the characters of Cyclone Comics as Cyclone Force. (we’ll talk about Cyclone a little later) The story has 12 chapters with an prologue, interlude and epilogue written by Sequeira and drawn by Adam Yusoff with a character named Epoch. We don’t learn much about Epoch but he seems bent on dominating humanity. He sends out 12 energy lances in the prologue. It’s good premise to build the book around – the energy lances connect the tales.

Our first story is Paul Mason and Amanda Bacchi’s The Soldier Legacy story “...A Rock and a Hard Place”. The Solider Legacy is Paul’s original character and has appeared in several issues of his own title and in a couple of anthologies. Not surprisingly The Soldier Legacy is a legacy character with a focus on the latest bearer of the name and a parallel story with his ancestor in World War 2. This story opens in WW2 with that Solider Legacy going to the rescue of several soldiers trapped by Japanese masks. The present story has the current Soldier Legacy fighting against a right wing domestic terrorist group lead by The Gold Ghost. Each page alternates between the two stories with a speech by the golden age Soldier Legacy running over the current story and a lovely splash page of the World War 2 Soldier Legacy punching out Japanese troops on one side paired with the present day punching out The Gold Ghost. The story ends in the present day with the bad guys arrested and the police seizing one of the energy lances. I love Solider Legacy and I’m mates with both Paul and Amanda. I liked this story and wished it had of been longer. The Gold Ghost could make a fascinating villain for The Soldier Legacy – if the Soldier Legacy represents the best of Australia, the Gold Ghost could be a dark reflection of him. There are any number of incidents throughout Australian history that show the worst of Australia. The Lambing Flat massacre of Chinese miners during the Australian Gold Rush could be the beginning to the negative legacy of the Gold Ghost.

The second story “Djiniri” by Julie Ditrich and Marcello Baez. Djiniri is a new character, An ancient being “1200 years from home” her prison, what appears to be a jewellery box, is opened and she is released. There is a hint that this may be the effects of Epoch’s energy lance or it may be the presence of a ghoul or Ghul. Julie and I both had stories in “Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not” and had met at Melbourne Supanova promoting that book. I liked this story and how Julie weaved some of the mythology of genies and ghouls into the story. Baez does a really good job on the art. I am very curious how her prison jewellery box got from Arabia to the Pinnacles in Western Australia.

The next story Soundstrike, written by Komala Singh and art by Michel Gerencir features the titular character the child of a human and an insectoid alien. This gives him very sensitive hearing and “some sort of space magic”. I really liked his costume it had a real Power Ranger/Beetleborg vibe to it. The villain of the story is a collection of nanobots that calls itself Nan-a. Interestingly Nan-a communicates with Epoch. Singh really drops a lot of information and gives several hints to what is happening in this story. I really want to see where is goes.

Lyrebird is next. Written by Chris Sequeira and art by W. Chew Chan. Lyrebird had previously appeared in the Lyrebird Special way back in the nineties (you know I’m certain I’ve read a Lyrebird story before but I cannot find where it was) This is an interesting story and Chris has picked an Australian territory that I, and most likely other people, had no idea about the sub cable protection zone, which is Australian waters around the internet cable under the sea. The story is set during an upgrade to the cable and the superpowered mercenary Dynamica Tungsten is on site providing protection. But not as it seems and the Lyrebird mentions that Sonex technology has some bad side effects. There’s a fight and Tungsten is revealed to be murderer. Another solid story that makes me want to try to track down the Lyrebird special and find out more.

The Australian Antarctic Territory is the setting for the next story featuring Aethyric Man. Aethryic Man is tracking his brother Mister Erebus and we come in the middle of the story. Mister Erebus has attacked Mawson station and killed several of the dogs and one of the researchers when the story opens. Aethyric Man is talking to the Mawson staff and tells them that Mr Erebus isn’t evil just on a different level of humanity. Aethryic Man tracks his brother, there’s what I think is a one panel flashback, the brother’s fight. Mr Erebus goes “Oh my God brother you were right.” And the fight ends. There’s a bit at the end where we discover that Mr Erebus has one of Epoch’s lances. This is probably the weakest of the stories in the collection. Jules Farber’s style is radically different to the other artists and feels closer to Garfield than Superman. It’s not bad per se but it has a different feel to it which took me out of the story. Bruce Mutard’s script didn’t help me either. In the story itself we never find out Aethryic Man’s name – not his secret identity but that he is called Aethryic Man. I had to look at the index. I have no idea why he has a giant yellow Y on his costume. This story didn’t let me in and give me something to latch onto. With the other stories when they raised questions I wanted to know the answers this one didn’t.

Next is Princess in “Beauty is a Beast.” Written by Jason Franks and art by J. Scherpenhuizen. This one opens with a press conference with Lisa Mambray CEO of the Mambray group opening a new facility when superpowered eco terrorist Brother Nature attacks. We discover that Lisa has a Hulk like alter-ego Princess. They fight and in the confusion one of Mambray’s security grabs Epoch’s rods. I’d definitely be curious to see more about how Lisa and Brother Nature got their powers.

The seventh story is Rogue Host written by Jonathon Saunders and art by Ana Maria Mendez Salgado. The idea is that our hero Christopher Stevens was accidentally given a military parasite. He believes his girlfriend has been attacked and he tries to save her. I’d be interested to see where this one goes, Saunders gives us enough background to let us know what is going on. Salgado’s art is very stylised but I liked it.

Dragonblade by Ian Gould and Christian Roux, was probably one of my favourite stories in this collection. It introduces the heroic Dragonblade and the villainous Stonefish with quick origins and gets right to the battle. The characters are quite funny. Would love to see more of these characters.

Next up is Longcoat written by Gregory Stewart and art by Matt Lin. Longcoat appears to be a werewolf or something similar and he works with ASIS which appears to have an “X Files” type of team where he works with Agent Cullinjarra on what appears to be a freelance basis. Epoch’s powerlance has gained the attention of the Darragan, demonic type creatures. I liked this story Stewart dishes enough to make speculate about Longcoat and his history and Lin’s art has a nice roughness to it.

Cosmosia by Naomi Hatchman and art by Queenie Chan. This feels like it’s set, say, fifty years in the future with a manned Australian geosynchronous satellite. Cosmosia is a robot on the station and she battles a hacker named Cryptus who is using Epoch’s rod to hack the satellite. The futuristic setting threw me a little but there is nothing to say all these stories take place now. Ultimately I liked this story.

Gary Chaloner’s The Jackaroo gets a story written by Cefn Ridout and art by J. Scherpenhuizen. The Jackaroo was a character who has been around since the 1980s and he’s a jackaroo who wears a mask and fights crime. I was so excited to see a new Jackaroo adventure and it’s an older Jackaroo taking his son, Jake, to MONA in Hobart. Epoch’s rod creates a new villain Kai Mera who sucks the life force out of people. I especially liked the line after Jake has stolen the staff Kai Mera says “Return it or I will drain your father’s life.” Jake’s report “Na, me Mum’s beaten you to it.” Just had me laughing. Top stuff this. Reminds me to get more classic Jackaroo stories.

Which brings us to the last story “The Public Servant” written by Karen Beilharz and art by Anthony Calvert. I quite liked Calvert’s art on this but the story had me a little lost as a nameless Canberra public servant of Asian heritage tackles a racist politician named Natter. Natter has one of Epoch’s power rods and it turns him into a lizard person called Vox Populist while the Public Servant becomes a giant glowing energy being . it’s implied in the text that the rod affected her to make her grow but the art doesn’t reflect that.

 Overall, I think this was a winner of an anthology with a couple of stories I wasn’t feeling. Look every anthology is going to have stories that may not work for you. There are 12 distinct art styles in this book and to have only one that I didn’t really like was pretty impressive. If I had one complaint each of the stories were too short I wanted more. I think some of the stories would have benefited from some more space, most I was being greedy and I wanted more. I’m keen to see where Super Australians 2 may go. Epoch was making villainous noises at the end of the book. Could we see the heroes interact with each other? (The Soldier Legacy and The Jackaroo, pretty please with a cherry on top). A villain swap maybe? A villain team up? Brother Nature and Stonefish had similar agendas.   

Monday, October 7, 2019

Girl Factory #3 The Man Made Woman by Robert Franklin Murphy

So I have previously reviewed Book ! and Book 2 in this series.

Back when I was researching book series for Serial Vigilantes of Paperback Fiction (avaialbel from Amazon as hard copy and e-book)  a decade ago, part of my goal to to provide complete series lists for Serial Vigilante series.  Finding these lists not as easy as you would think.  The books would sometimes have ads  and series lists in either the front or the back of the books but they weren't complete.  Making things ever more difficult is that different editons ( such as the United Kingdom) may changed the series order or give the book  a new title .

There are very few reference books to help and the internet wasn't always as helpful.  One of the reference books that was invaluable to me was John E Simkin's The Whole Story:  3000 years of Sequels and Sequences.  But it wasn't perfect.  It listed The Girl Factory series as 2 books 1 The Girl Factory (The Man Made Woman) and 2 King's Mate.

I had the British edition of book 1 The Girl Factory and presumed that the American editorn was called The Man-Made Woman.  All good.  I also had the UK edition for King's Mate.I couldn't find anything to contradict that on line or anywhere else.  So I figured I had the complete series.

In 2014., I post the review for The Girl Factory, I get a comment from Tom Johnson asking about The Man Made Woman.

I decide to double check, as I joke if it's not on the internet come back in six months,  and I find the entry for Su-Lin Kelly on the Spy Guys and Glas website and The Man Made Woman is the third book in the series.  So off I go questing to find the thrd book.  Finally I find a copy for sale this year and it is reasonably priced.

I admit I had a couple of reservations about this book.  The first book revealed that Su-Lin was a clone.  The second has Su-Lin die and be cloned again.  my worry was that the cloning would be a major part of the series.

The cover did not ecourge me:

With Six different Su-Lin Kellys on the cover 

 The back cover blurb seemed to indicate that this was the case

Hands Off!  What do you do if you're a man an women just won't stop chasing you? If they just can't keep their hands off you? Give in? Or try to kill them off, one by one , after savouring each first?  DO you plunge your knife in, shoot your gun, prick tehm with a poison tip, or blow them up? And what do you do when you end up with as many as you started with? Do you accept it and say you're irresistable, they keep coming back for more? Or do you admit you have problem - one so big no single man or government can get a hold on it? What do you do when you are dealing science's greatest creation since man .. the clone, the bionic - the man- made woman."

Umm, I'm not sure what book the copy writer read becasue that is nothing like the actual book.  I have to admit that I am intrigued by that book.  (just for the record Su-Lin is not bionic)

No this book has a villian with trained sex snakes who act as his bodyguard. I repeat SEX SNAKES.

The story revolves around teh Chinese annexation of Tibet, where the Shan-Tal closter is located.  The Chinese are finding that parts of Tbet are not as easy to take over as they thought.  The villiage of Lhatse has the Dham D'hab Lama and is a hold out against Chinese rule.  Lhatse is close to the Shan Tal Cloister and allows the clositer to remain independant.

Wu Cho acting on behalf of the Chinese government is trying to kidnap or kill the Dham D'hab.  Wu Cho has the bodyguard sex snakes,  He is assisted by a beautiful woman.

American intellegence, in a leap of deduction, figure that Su-Lin Kelly is a beautiful woman who comes from Tibet so she must be helping Wu Cho even though she has worked for America in the past.  The secret intellenge agency The Nest, who have wored with Su Lin in the past try to presuade them otherwise.

The story then has Su-Lin and her team working to save the Dham D'hab and discover that Cho's female assistant is Le Kahn.   Le Kahn grew up with Su Lin in the Shan Tal Cloister.  And we discover that Le  Kahn is the clone of Su-Lin's sister, who died in the womb when the original Su-Lin and her family were all murdered at the hands of bandits.

I really enjoyed this book - Wu Cho is an interesting villian helping the Chinese for vast sums of money.  Le Kahn makes for a  good match for Su-Lin as the two women know each other so well.

I'm glad that there was another Girl Factory book to read.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Prodigy (2019) written by Mark Millar art by Rafaael Albuquerque

Mark Millar is a prolific writer, he's written for Marvel and DC before he branched off to his own creator owned studio, Millarworld. 

He created Wanted, that was basis for the Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy movie (okay very thin basis), Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, and Kingsman (or as the comic was known The Secret Service).

I liked those properties both as movies and comics so I keep an eye on Millar stuff - I collected CLINT magazine which printed Kick- Ass 2 and Hit-Girl miniseries as well as The Secret Service and Supercrooks.

As a general rule, I prefer low to no powers in my comic stories (I'm a pulpy guy),  so some of his Millarworld stuff I can take or leave.  

Then I saw a review of issue 1 of Prodigy, the second series from Millarworld after it was bought by Netflix.  The reviewer said that this was Millar riffing on Buckaroo Banzai.  

Millar does Buckaroo Banzai - I'm down for that story.

I read each issue as it came out and finished this the first arc just last week..  I then went back and reread the whole series.  

This series was a blast and a half - Edison Crane the Prodigy of the title is worthy to stand alongside Buckaroo Banzai, Doc Savage, The Destroyer, The Pretender, Sherlock Holmes,  Dillon and the Nekton Family from The Deep.

If you know me at all that's pretty high praise.

Ethan is a genius with a total recall, he owns a business and serves an unofficial troubleshooter. Like Banzai , he's off in a million directions at once - playing 18 simultanious games of chess, writing compositions, planning stunts, written three plays, created a new telecommunication system and a new cling wrap that keeps things fresh for a century. All before breakfast.

He's bored and decides to investigate unusual events in Australia. While there he;s approached by a CIA agent who explains that these events are part of a larger conspiracy.  Crane goes full Sherlock Holmes on her.  making deductions left,  right and centre.

Before you know it Crane and CIA agent Rachel Straks are globehopping looking for an ancient text that might be the key to it all.  

The fitth issues ends with a twist that plays out nicely in the final installment.  I did not see it coming but I feel that Millar didn't play fair with the reader, Crane saw the twist coming because he had knowledge that we, the reader, weren't privvy to.  

But damn if I didn't care because it was worth it see Crane bring down the bad guys.  because he is a dozen steps ahead of our villains - it was almost a reverse Watchmen.  Crane discovers the plot and goes yeah I figured it out thrity five minutes ago and made adjustments to foil your plot.  Oh and here's your handcuffs back.

I can't say more without spoiling it.

Give Prodigy a try if you like Doc Savage or Buckaroo Banzai and I look forward to the inevitable Netflix adaptation.