Tag: Doctor Who

Brainiac On Banjo: He’ll Save Every One Of Us!

Just a man with a man’s courage. You know he’s nothing but a man, and he can never fail. No one but the pure at heart may find the Golden Grail! – “Flash” written by Brian May.

He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!!!

No, I’m not talking about the return of Chickenman, although that would be welcome. Lucky for us, Rich Koz went on to bigger things. I’m taking about the man who was not comics’ first great space hero, but he was by far the best. Certainly the best drawn, with the best villain ever, anywhere. Born 90 years ago next January 7th, he was the creation of master comics artist Alex Raymond, and for over three decades, he ruled the worlds of heroic fantasy.

Flash Gordon was created as a newspaper comic strip. I assume you’ve read about newspapers online somewhere; comic strips were a feature in most of them except for the New York Times, who were too cheap to buy color presses back in the 1890s so they got all snooty about it and made it a thing. These comics told their stories on a daily basis. We still have newspaper comic strips but only four still tell continued stories, five if you count the brilliant Prince Valiant weekly. The rest are all about the tiresome adventures of misanthropomorphized two-dimensional talking animals. All newspaper extant have pretty much the same selection of funnies, as they were once known back in the days of newspaper competition. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: He’ll Save Every One Of Us!”

Brainiac On Banjo: The Real Clown Prince of Crime!

Brainiac On Banjo: The Real Clown Prince of Crime!

Why do you want him? Why do you want him? Why do you want him? Why do you want him? — “Why Do You Want Him?,” written by Billie Joe Armstrong, John Kiffmeyer, and Mike Dirnt.

No doubt you’ve heard about this “internet” thing. It’s a place where we all go to show everybody else just how clever we are. For example, I’m doing that right now.

My guess is you have seen the Trump “Batman Villain” memes that have popped up all over the internet within minutes of the former Bastard-In-Chief getting fingerprinted and mug-shotted in a toilet of a Georgia jail a couple days ago. I understand the shock of this killed Harley Quinn, and that really sucks. But it’s understandable.

Legendary writer Mindy Newell and I got into a conversation about all this, and I took the position that The Joker is a better person than Trump and, for that matter, The Joker wears less makeup. Somehow that discussion boiled down to the best Trump meme would have him look like Davros, the classic Doctor Who villain who created the Daleks — and, to make a long story short, became one. I think he went to the Stanislavsky School of Villainy.

Be that as it may, the true winner of this debate is the rock group Green Day. They created, according to their Instagram post,

“the ultimate Nimrod shirt is available for 72 hours only. Limited edition shirt proceeds will be donated to T̶h̶e̶ ̶G̶i̶u̶l̶i̶a̶n̶i̶ ̶L̶e̶g̶a̶l̶ ̶D̶e̶f̶e̶n̶s̶e̶ ̶F̶u̶n̶d̶ @greatergoodmusiccharity, which brings food to those affected by the Maui wildfires.”

That meets my definition of humanity’s greatest ability, the know-how to be given shit and to turn it into a shit soufflé. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Real Clown Prince of Crime!”

Brainiac On Banjo: The Birds of Clay

Brainiac On Banjo: The Birds of Clay

A pretty little raven at the bird bandstand taught him how to do the bop and it was grand. They started goin’ steady and bless my soul, he out-bopped the buzzard and the oriole! — Rockin’ Robin, written by Leon René.

Proliferate: increase rapidly in numbers; multiply: the science fiction magazines that proliferated in the 1920s. (Apple Dictionary)

Make Room, Make Room: Harry Harrison’s 1966 novel about the overpopulation of Earth so massive that people had to live in stairwells. The story was set in 1999. The book was made into a movie titled “Soylent Green” after the artificial food substance manufactured to feed the teaming masses. Spoiler Alert: “Soylent Green is people.”

If you chart the growth of Robins in the DC universe, it won’t be long before there are more of those obnoxious little buggers than there are Elvis impersonators. Indeed, the way things have been going lately there will be more Robins on Earth than there are Green Lanterns in the universe.

This is not a good thing.

Mind you, even as a kid long, long ago, I disliked Robin. He was, at best, unnecessary. The idea of a child that young being trained as a superhero was not a good example of child-rearing. I mean, sure, take a kid whose mind and body was not nearly developed, put him barelegged in tight shorts and a yellow cape and toss him into action against The Joker. Hell, at that time I was barely allowed to cross the street. Even Bruce Wayne’s megabucks wouldn’t protect him from Child Protective Services. It barely protected Batman and Robin from Dr. Frederic Wertham. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Birds of Clay”

Brainiac On Banjo: Should Hope Reign In Burbank?

Brainiac On Banjo: Should Hope Reign In Burbank?

Hope for the best, expect the worst! Some drink champagne, some die of thirst. No way of knowing which way it’s going. — Mel Brooks, Hope For The Best (Expect The Worst)

When Warner Bros Discovery revealed James Gunn and Peter Safran would be running their all-new DC Studios (as if there’s more than one), many of us lifted their faces out of our own puke in the hope it was the dawning of a new day. Well, with luck, it will be… although you can’t really blame us for taking a wait-and-see attitude.

I certainly appreciate and trust James Gunn. I love his work on the Guardians of the Galaxy and Peacemaker, and his The Suicide Squad was great fun. Better still, he treated my oldest friend and honored collaborator John Ostrander right, and that means so much to me I’d throw Gunn’s bail.

What I do not trust is, in order: 1) The “Hollywood” bureaucracy. 2) Warner-anything merging with anybody, be it Time Inc, America Online, AT&T or Discovery. Each merger made things worse for creators and end-users alike. 3) Warner Brothers Discovery in particular, and particularly how they turned the ridiculously overpriced HBOMax into a ridiculously overpriced, frustrating, mindless, and ultimately useless turd rapidly floating downstream into the sewer. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Should Hope Reign In Burbank?”

Brainiac On Banjo #106: “Be Original?”

Brainiac On Banjo #106: “Be Original?”

Having spent the better part of my life in the comic book field – define “better” as you wish – one might think that I wouldn’t be so hung up on originality. After all, when it comes to those companies big enough to hoist a catalog, for 60 years now the orders of the day have been “reboot, relaunch, revise, and retread.”

Those are my words and not those of any marketing whiz. I am reminded of one of the medium’s great intellectual property redevelopers, editor Julius Schwartz. His nickname was “B.O. Schwartz.” The “B.O.” part stood for “Be Original.”

But, for the purpose of this treatise, let’s put aside four-color history and, instead, let’s talk about television. Or streaming. Or whatever we’ll wind up calling what’s been flickering between those programming arms on either side of the big glass teat.

Take a good look at some of the new fodder that’s been appearing on the boob tube the past decade and what’s in the pipeline for the immediate future, and you’ll see the orders of the day are now “reboot, relaunch, revise, and retread.” Why? Because it’s worked so well for comics?

Nudging aside my sarcasm (no easy feat), look at some of the recent programming options we have been given in the fantasy drama field. We find the reassembled return of Walker, Hawaii 5-0, MacGyver, Star Trek The Red Shirt Years, Doctor Who, Battlestar: Galactica, Superman, and many others that walk in the shoes of others. If it was once extremely popular and it wasn’t a western set in the old west, chances are it’s been or about to be rebooted, relaunched, revised, and retreaded. A new coat of paint and you’ve got yourself a franchise.

So, what do we have in that ever-widening pipeline right now? Law and Order SUV Mach II. The return of Criminal Minds. Yellowstone The Prequel. CSI (OG). Even Frasier. One might quibble that the upcoming return of Sex and the City is not drama per se. I don’t have a fully informed opinion about that, but to the extent that I am aware that program has been dramatic and certainly quite fantasy-oriented.

I could offer the argument, one that was standard in the comics field until maybe the early 1970s, that there’s an audience turnover and thus, for today’s viewers, these revivals are something new. Except they are not. Television has been swimming in reruns since Ampex invented videotape recording in the 1950s. Just about everything broadcast on network television since their videotape recorder was first installed has been broadcast and rebroadcast ad infinitum ever since. DVDs gave all that another platform, digital television, and the decimal television stations have expanded that, and now streaming has turned such accessibility into an ocean of nostalgia.

(A digression: the history of Ampex, which heavily involves Bing Crosby, Les Paul, and Ray Dolby, is quite interesting to those so inclined, as well as to those who have worked for ABC-TV during the past 60 years.)

Ampex-AVR-2-Quad-TVR

I’m not suggesting that all these reboots suck, or even most of them. But there’s no catharsis in “been there, done that.” It used to be each market had between three and five television outlets; today the only restraints are bandwidth and speed (both are increasing) and the consumer’s willingness to subscribe. That creates a lot of opportunity for all sorts of stuff, and there is more good stuff on “television” than one could have been imagined back when FCC commissioner Newton Minow called the medium a “vast wasteland” in 1961.

Nonetheless, Julie Schwartz’s admonition to “be original” is just as valid today as it was back in the day. If watching images float rapidly as viewed between our toes continues to be a thing, it is impossible to offer enough originality.

Sorry, Stabler. I’d rather see a bit more innovation.

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in January 2020

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in January 2020

Welcome back to new year of New Number Ones!!

This is where we give our readers a preview of the exciting new comic book series debuting each month. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you some more about the new comics in question.

There are not a whole lot of new series of interest starting in January. There are a few new series from licenced properties coming out. Most publishers have more new releases queued up for February, but there is a decent list below.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. We will bring you reviews of most of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in January 2020”

Brainiac On Banjo #059: Four-Color Audio!

Brainiac On Banjo #059: Four-Color Audio!

In certain circles, I am known as a radio drama fanatic… and, of course, in certain pentagrams as well. Not just the old stuff whose echoes faded as television became a thing, but the new efforts as well. Even more so.

Full-cast audio means exactly what it’s labelled. Gather up a bunch of perfectly-selected actors, give them a well-written script, an awesome array of appropriate sound effects, a digital recording facility with more computing power than the Mars Rover, a director to beat the band and a producer whose pen ever runs out of ink, and together they tell fantastic stories into the microphones.

The listener provides the visuals. As such, the crew is ripping your sense of wonder out of your very soul and encouraging you to paint all those pictures within the comfort of your very own brainpan. As such, this is a perfect medium in which to grow heroic fantasy. Here, all the work percolates in your head and you become such a vital part of the production team that, really, you should ask for royalties. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #059: Four-Color Audio!”

Brainiac On Banjo #034: Niles Caulder’s Doppelgängers

Brainiac On Banjo #034: Niles Caulder’s Doppelgängers

When it comes to the DC Universe streaming series Doom Patrol, the world can be divided up into three groups: those who have never seen it, those who have seen it and hate it, and those who have seen it and love it.

It’s exceptionally weird and based (self-referentially) more upon Grant Morrison’s work on the comics series than the original Arnold Drake / Bob Haney / Bruno Premiani creation. Why not? We’ve got plenty of straight-forward superhero dramas on television. On streaming. Whatever. It is clear to me that everybody gets paid by the number of times Brendan Fraser utters a curse word, and that might upset the uptights. After the pilot episode, there isn’t much nudity or on-screen sex. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #034: Niles Caulder’s Doppelgängers”

Working Title #004: The Doctor and the Judge

Working Title #004: The Doctor and the Judge

Two big events occurred last weekend: Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court judge and the first woman to play Doctor Who (Jodie Whitaker) debuted. One event delighted me and the other appalled me. Can you guess which was which?

There is something that connects the two. Bear with me.

I’m a LONG time fan of the British SF show and this weekend the new season debuted on BBC America (and, indeed, around the globe). Lots of new things – new companions, new composer, new showrunner and chief writer (Chris Chibnall) and, most importantly, a new Doctor. Now, for those of you benighted souls who may not be aware, the show has had a very long run because of a very clever concept. The main character, the Doctor, is an alien, and every so often the Doctor’s body regenerates into a wholly new one with a completely different persona and this has kept the show fresh. This time, the Doctor also changed sex and became a woman, played delightfully by Jodie Whittaker.

Capsule review: I was very pleased. The show had mystery, suspense, humor, darkness, death and a sense of freshness. Mr. Chibnall’s script had a different feel than former showrunner Stephen Moffat that was very welcome and Ms. Whitaker makes a wonderful Doctor.

Not everyone will agree. How do I know? Because some fans were opposed from the moment she was announced, some going so far as to say they will never watch it. This is not altogether unusual; every time someone new steps into the TARDIS, a certain percentage of the fans voice their displeasure and/or anger and vow never to watch it again (their loss).

There was an undercurrent, however, to Ms. Whitaker’s selection and sometimes that current was not so under. It came down to her gender. A certain percentage of that certain percentage of fans said that the Doctor couldn’t be a GIRL. Eeeeuuuhhh!  Continue reading “Working Title #004: The Doctor and the Judge”

Brainiac On Banjo #015: Doctor Who – Without A Punny Headline!

Brainiac On Banjo #015: Doctor Who – Without A Punny Headline!

The Doctor: Why are you calling me Madam?
Yasmin Khan: Because… you’re a woman?
The Doctor: Am I? Does it suit me?
Yasmin Khan: What?
The Doctor: Oh yeah, I remember! Sorry, half an hour ago I was a white-haired Scots man.


Jodie Whittaker/Doctor Who
at Comic Con 2018 Photographed by Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock for Variety

We don’t know how to handle pronouns these days. That’s a transitional process as we evolve our language to more inclusive and less presumptuous forms. In the case of Doctor Who, that’s not as much of a problem. There have been 13 Doctors thus far — give or take — and the new one is the first to be a woman, at least as a matter of outside packaging. We really don’t know how Gallifreyan genders work, and their men and women alike are mostly brilliant and largely insufferable.

Yesterday, Jodie Whittaker debuted as our current Doctor, and did so pretty much all over the world, at pretty much the same time. Now that’s the way to launch a series. OK, I’m a fanboy and I’ve been watching the show since it first crossed the Atlantic. I haven’t seen an actor turn in a less-than-great performance in the lead role, even in spite of some less-than-great stories. More to the point, I haven’t seen a transitional episode where one Doctor regenerates into another that was less than entertaining by the standards of its time. In these two considerations, Whittaker fits in perfectly.

Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #015: Doctor Who – Without A Punny Headline!”