Monday, 31 December 2007
You can read the article by scrolling down my blog for ages, or better still click to it HERE
I didn't cover them in any of my Who posts, but you may be interested to know that the blue Stewards from series one belong to a species called Crespallions.
Well that's it for now till I find more gaps to fill - unless it's been delayed (again) there should be a new Legacy out soon for me to rabbit on about.
Thursday, 27 December 2007
He looks different in real life. The skin’s a little lighter and he’s not as big, but I the future’s not interested in details, just facts. For example he is standing on the edge of the roof with feet wide apart; he is wearing a bizarre red coat and the sword he appears to be holding is in fact floating just behind his hand – that’s the stuff that matters. An artist knows what symbols his work conveys and so I know what he is trying to tell me. The feet wide apart, edge of the rooftop stance shows his belief that he is a fearsome warrior. The coat is a taunt, you could follow it anywhere, but he does not fear the Police or the army or any of their metallic weapons so he is content for them to know where he is and tremble. The sword is to give a fool’s hope, that maybe he is just a man with a blade, and you don’t see the power holding his weapon until it’s too late.
Like I say, it’s all in the details. You’ve got to really study a picture to know what it’s about. You see the glint of the sun off a billboard, the angle of a crane, the position of birds in the sky. You have to take it all in to understand what the painting tells you. I see it all now, in more beautiful colour than I could ever paint, in motion that my easel could never capture. I see it all, and know to duck just in time.
My study rewards me, the blade flies over my head but, as I knew it would, flies round and returns to its owner. Twice more the blade flies out, but I’ve already seen how and where it’s going to come. It’s very tempting to just watch, to see my work flow out in real motion, but if I stood and got my head cut off then it wouldn’t be what I’d painted would it?
The painting said I’m unarmed and so I am, standing here trying to face down a monster with nothing but my fists. Thing is, I figured out quite quickly that he has control over metal, can make it do what he wants. Just as I think it he rips up a metal railing with a gesture as if to prove me right. This time I run, alarmed at the speed with which he can move such a heavy object. It crashes down just behind me, but I’ve gotten close enough to land the punch I knew I would. It’s even more satisfying than I thought it would be, knocking him to the floor with blood spattering from his mouth.
It leaves me distracted long enough for the next picture to be fulfilled. Paintings only convey things through sight, they don’t prepare you (to take an example) for the pain of a sword penetrating your body. I knew I couldn’t escape it, but I’d hoped it wouldn’t hurt this much. Well I guess this is what they call facing your destiny. I fall back, making those horrible gurgling sounds you hear in films. But I know this happened for a reason, people will know of my gift and it will save them.
A red coat is easy to follow, especially when you can see the future. I’ve painted it, the whole chase, where he tries to hide, the way he tries to fight back, and the plastic cased chemical weapons they use to bring him down. I donated my paintings to the police yesterday so they will know what to do. I can’t hold my head up any longer, but I can see the helicopter catching the sunlight, just like the picture.Minor Note: The Voyage of the Damned aliens will be discussed when series four starts as there weren't many species in the special, however the articles will resume when Torchwood starts in January
Saturday, 8 December 2007
The first "Hero" to be featured on the show, Isaac Mendez has a truly unusual gift that impacts all the other characters, though they seldom feel his influence. Isaac paints pictures, and what he paints comes true. At first he believes this to be influenced by drugs and so becomes dependent on them, driving away those close to him in his search for answers. This gift doesn't give him combat powers and so immediately struck as unusual for a superhero show and made Heroes interesting viewing.
The power of precognition brings an added element, that of destiny. The heroes aren't just going to get powered up, mask their identities and save the world just like that. There is a path to be taken, and glimpses of that path are shown in Mendez's paintings. However there is a certain paradoxical element in this as the Heroes accept their destiny, and yet their mission is to thwart what was laid out as a vision for the future. I think this is quite representitive of a modern mindset, we like the idea that we have a destiny and a purpose in life, but we also want the freedom to be able to change it as we see fit. People often speak about having a destiny but being able to change it, yet if you can change it then it wasn't destiny at all. This was displayed in Mendez's demise where he accept's his death at Sylar's hands, but at the same time is confident because he has revealed how to stop the bomb.
I stated in my nnouncement that I would refer to the Bible and I will do so here. I also have no intention of being politically correct and so will adress the word of God with the authority and superiority I believe it deserves. Precognition has it's roots in God, who is all seeing and all knowing and, since he created it, can see all of time and knows how and when everything will happen. God chose to reveal the future to his prophets, often in dreams or "visions", who then would pass it on to the people. People have a massive interest in the future so it's no wonder a superhero was given this gift.
Precognition often featured in mythology, the Oracle at Delphi being one posessor that springs to mind. In olf mythology the future was often set in stone, and though the hero might try and thwart what was written or spoken, his fate would always come about as said. Occasionally the hero's fate would be delivered through his efforts to avoid it, giving that extra bit of irony. Bringing it forward a bit various philosopher and thinkers have claimed to have knowledge of events to come, the most famous of who is Nostradamous who'se predictions are still being debated today. With Horoscopes and fortune telling a very popular industry even in a skeptical age it looks like seeing the future is a power many desire to posess.
Moving on to comic books and popular fiction now where precognition has not played such a dramatic role, but is still a presence. With comics being an ongoing and widly divurging medium having the future all mapped out probably isn't such a good idea, yet some characters like Madame Web of Spider-Man, Destiny from X-Men and the film incarnation of Elektra have had some for of precognition. Moving from comics to film and the most famous prognosticators are the Jedi and Sith from Star Wars. These enhanced beings can gain glimpses of events to come, but hold to a changeable destiny since "always in motion is the future." The most prolific use of precognitives I've seen in modern writing has been in the work of Philip K. Dick, the best known example being Minority Report where 'precogs' are used to prevent murder. Precogs feature in many of his writings using their powers for anything from stoping aliens to predicting market changes for businesses.
I started this idea with an eye to shooting down the Heroe's crew claims to be unlike anything else, but I have to commend the show on presenting the superpowers theme in a new way, something that seemed almost impossible. While seeing the future is a popular theme it is used well in the show, and since I don't personally know of any other character that uses painting to see what happens next I will have to hand that to them as an original creation.
Well that's it, I have a tie-in project in mind to do with this so hopefully you'll read more soon but for now, goodbye.
Monday, 3 December 2007
I really liked the Uvodni, the species had an eerie mix of insect reptile in the standard humanoid form. While filling in the role of traditional extra terrestrial menace the species was original enough to make it's mark. The story behind them, if a little underdeveloped, was far beyond the typical devious plot.
The Uvodni were a proud warrior race that became engaged in a long battle with another species called the Malakh in a prolonged series of engagements known as the Ghost Wars. They fought in powerful warships controlled by a computer system known as a "Mistress" that resembled a female Uvodni and distributed tactical orders to the crew which they obeyed without question. When the Uvodni began to lost the advantage some were sent to recruit other species into their war. One scheme, headed by General Uvlavad Kudlak used combat simulating games to determine which children could be suited for war, those that excelled at the game were taken to the warship. At some point an armistice was signed between the warring species, but Kudlak's "Mistress" refused to acknowledge this because her only purpose was war. Kudlak tired of recruiting but carried on until the truth was revealed. He released the children he had captured and returned home with a promise to find any other children forced into war.
I liked the Trickster, even though we know pretty much nothing about it. While my eager mind remains unsatisfied I have to say as a presence it was brilliant, and the episodes it featured in were high quality programming.
The Trickster, though that is not a confirmed name by any means, was a strange and powerful being that fed on chaos caused by the disruption of time. It could move backwards forwards and in and out of time, removing people from time and feeding on the alterations made to time. It chose one incident, the death of Sarah Jane's School friend Andrea and saw a way to get all the chaos it needed. It offered Andrea a chance at life, with Sarah Jane taking her place. But Sarah Jane had the capability to prevent an asteroid coliding with Earth and with her gone Earth would be destroyed feeding it's desire for destruction. It had two weaknesses, a memory box given to Sarah Jane nullified the effects on Maria so she remembered who Sarah Jane was, secondly it seemed bound by the consent of those it changed things for so when Andrea sacrificed herself the Earth was saved.
A species called the Graske also featured in this episode, but they have featured before and since I'm running out of time I'll leave them out.
Mr Smith was a great aly to Sarah Jane, and having the super computer in the attic was always a cool addition to the story. So to have that character suddenly betray Sarah Jane in an elaborate plot was a shocker I didn't see coming and I have to congratulate the writers on planning that out.
The Xylok are an intelligent crystalline race that crashed to Earth long ago and eventually were buried under the Earth's surface, completely unknown to manking until Krakatoa erupted, sending one piece of the crystal flying to the Earth's surface. The crystal fell into the hands of Sarah Jane who realised it was intelligent and communicating with her computer. Eventually the crystal said it would help her and designed the supercomputer that would be known as Mr Smith. But the crystal powering the computer had a plan and he used Sarah Jane and her friends to launch a plot to shatter the Earth's surface, thus freeing the trapped Xylok, but killing many humans in the process. He was stopped by a powerful virus which deleted his memory. His mind wiped he now continues to serve Sarah Jane and the rest of the Xylok remain where they are.
Well that's it until the Christmas special, hope you enjoy reading
Saturday, 24 November 2007
There should be a fair bit less to say in this so I'll just get it out and then move on to another topic.
With the Sith in power the galaxy is not a safe place for the Jedi who used to defend it. At the end of the war, the Sith and the Empire assaulted both the Jedi temple on Coruscant and the academy on Ossus. This brought the Jedi down to around half their strength and scattered them. The Sith hunt them as well as eager bounty hunters so their numbers have been reduced further and it is hard for them to fight back or make their presence known at all. We will look at some of the Jedi who have not survived the changing galaxy.
Position: Jedi Master, Council member
First Appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)
Kol was a leading member of the Jedi Council and heir to the Skywalker name, despite being proud of his heritage Kol did sometimes feel trapped by his anscestry, never more so than when he fell in love with an Imperial agent named Morrigan Corde, who bore him a son, Cade. Knowing the council disaproved Corde left when she was called for duty, leaving Kol to raise his son alone. Kol remained a leader among the Jedi until one of his ideas gave the Sith their opening. Showing the compassion of a true Jedi Kol devised a plan to let the Yuuzhan Vong become a part of galactic society, but the Sith sabotaged the project and when the Jedi tried to defend the Vong war broke out - and the Jedi lost. Kol fell battling Sith at the academy he called home, sacrificing himself to let the young padawans escape.
Position: Jedi Knight (maybe master)
First Appearance: Legacy #2 (Broken, part 2)
Little has been revealed about Rasi Tuum. He met reluctantly with Wolf Sazen of Daluuj to discus his plan of finding Cade Skywalker, Rasi believed Cade to be dead and wasn't sure of the plan. Soon afterwards he was attacked and killed during a Sith ambush, only Sazen and Vao survived.
Homeworld: Bothawui (?)
Position: Jedi healer
First Appearance: Legacy #2 (Broken, part 2)
Hosk is a Jedi healer who got caught up in unfortunate events in a darker galaxy. Hosk had managed, like many Jedi, to blend into society and escape the Sith for many years. But when he was in a safehouse Cade's crew of bounty hunters burst in after a mark. Thinking they were after him Hosk revealed his Jedi powers and tried to escape, but was brought down by the crew. Hosk was handed over to Rav, the former pirate who kept Cade and crew in his debt, who then turned him in to the Sith. He was tortured into revealing Cade's identity and was even forced to attempt to heal Darth Krayt due to his abilities, but he failed. Cade attempted to rescue him, but was himself captured and now Hosk remains in the hands of the Sith.
I've mentioned Cade enough times so I don't need to explain his situation again. We don't know much about the Jedi in this era, what with them being scattered and in hiding, but who knows more may appear some day.
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
My idea was initially based on the self promotion and self awe as shownb in the behind the scenes "Heroes Unmasked" shows where the cast and crew constantly praise the show on it's amazing originality. In terms of superpowers, most of the main cast have well established powers already familiar to the comic book community so i wanted to show them up, but since Heroes has turned out to be amazingly good and there are some truly out of the box featured in supporting characters I will do these articles in a more positive light.
They will no doubt regurgitate a lot of Wikipedia content, I would love to do more indepth research, but unless this blog becomes massively popular overnight or someone starts paying me to write this stuff (dream on!) then research will have to be fairly cursory.
I'm also gonna start tagging to try and increase readership, my first article will be out soon, along with another Legacy update and more things I've been meaning to write!
Friday, 16 November 2007
More of his story was revealed in this issue. After his defeat by Kenobi he became a bounty hunter, until he chased one prize to Korriban where he discovered the holocron of XoXaan one of the founders if the Sith order. He agreed to follow her teachings, but it was some time before he truly embraced the Sith ways. In present times he is following Cade's training, convinced that he will eventually fall to the dark side and heal him.
Darth Maladi and Nihl
These two continue to serve the dark lord, but grow suspicious of his plans for Skywalker and closer to each other. Nihl has been observing ancient Sith holocrons that differ from Krayt's teachings.
She is now Cade's instructor and has taught him combat and Sith history. She taught him passion, and to strengthen his connection to her and the dark side she slept with him. However she remains totally loyal to Krayt, and has expressed suspicions of Cade's loyalty. She revealed that her master, Ruyn, willingly accepted death to help her connect to the dark side.
Cade has been training with the Sith for around a month, he hasn't truly been converted to the teachings of the Sith, despite forming a close bond with Talon. But his feelings may not be as deeply hidden as he would like.
Cade's teachers remained in hiding on Ossus, escaping Sith patrols. But Darth Stryfe still suspects their presence and ordered the temple to be destroyed from orbit. Whether the Jedi and their Yuuzhan Vong allies survive.
Well that covers a good chunk of the action, but Cade's former crew and some unusual allies are plotting to rescue him and have already infiltrated the Sith temple to gain intel and are ready to make their move, whether Cade wants to be rescued or not.
That's it for now - another article coming soon
Friday, 9 November 2007
OK, so it's actually the Sarah Jane adventures but it's based in the same 'universe' so I'm quite happy to shove it under the same banner as it stops me having to make up new titles every time a spinoff comes around. For those of you unfamiliar with the series it is a show specifically aimed at children, rather than the "family" show Dr Who and "adult" Torchwood. Like Torchwood it is based on Earth along a linear timeline where the cast have to solve alien based mysteries with the help of a few alien gadgets. The characters are Sarah Jane, a former companion of the Doctor, her adopted son Luke, her neighbour the young Maria and her friend Clyde. Together they investigate and interact with the oftentimes dangerous visitors that come to our world.
So I will cover in two articles the new alien species encountered in this new series - which shows 5 o clock on Mondays on BBC 1 if you're interested.
I actually really like the Bane species, despite their obvious "we are the bad guys name" it was actually one of the most credible CG aliens I've seen in Doctor Who it seemed to have a real physical presence as well as a cool look. And despite enacting one of the great Sci-Fi crimes of "ooh we've defeated the enemies now the building we're in will blow up for no concievable reason" they still manage to be a respectable creation in my book.
The Bane were a dangerous species characterised by a mass of tentacles and one looming eye. Little is known about them other than that they came to Earth and tried to conquer it by somewhat unorthodox methods. Disguised as humans using technology that masked their larger bulk, but limited their abilities, such as mind reading, they set up a company called BubbleShock, marketing a new drink that soon became hugely popular. The drink in fact contained enzymes secreted by the Mother Bane and enormous specimin housed in a warehouse that later allowed them to manipulate the humans that drank it to do their bidding. They were susceptible to cellphone transmissions and when amplified by alien technology a phone signal was able to defeat the Bane and bring an end to their scheme. It is unkown if this group was representative of the whole species or just one Mother and her young.
Now known as Luke Smith, this boy was artificially created by the Bane to help them perfect their techniques in manipulating humans. He was combined from samples of thousands of humans, especially those who rejected Bubble Shock. While he is a human being he is notable for having a much greater intelligence, memory and rections than most people. He also has no belly button! While very intelligent he is still very inexperienced and finds it hard to adapt to the world.
A later adventure involved a Slitheen plot, but since Raxicoricofalibatoriands have previously appeared in Doctor Who I don't mention them here.
The Gorgons were ok as a species, I like the touch of removing the snake heads and putting that down to Greek embellishment. Otherwise I thought they were ok, but I wasn't particularly bowled over by them. I especially didn't like the whole mind control aspect of the Gorgon with the nuns as it came out of nowhere and the nuns, especially Helena gave a very convincing performance of someone dedicated to serving a more powerful being.
The Gorgons are a powerful parasitic species with deadly abilities. Three came to Earth several thousand years ago. They need a host body to survive on Earth, and need to move on to another after the host's life expires. Their deadliest weapon is to be able to turn a victim to stone simply by sight. They bided their time, waiting for the right moment to bring their entire species to Earth for conquest. But one was killed by the Greek warrior Perseus early after their arrival, another was felled by an archaeologist in the 1950s. The archaeologist's wife kept a hold of the talisman a device needed to open access from the gorgon world. Sarah Jane eventually foiled the plot and Maria halted the Gorgon by using a mirror to turn her to stone, the same technique perseus had used.
Well that's it from me, but SJA is well under way so expect more soon.
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Position: Jedi Master
First Appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)
One of the foremost leaders of the New Jedi Order, Wolf seeks to reunite the Jedi against the Sith, and he strongly believes this should be under the one remaining Skywalker - his former apprentice Cade. Trained by Kol Skywalker he became a Jedi Master and remained a close friend of Kol, fighting alongside him when Ossus fell. During the battle Wolf lost his arm and war brought to the brink of death, but was saved by Cade's extraordinary healing power. After his apprentice was lost Wolf went into hiding, but after seven years felt the call to find Skywalker and reunite the Jedi. He found Cade, but Cade has since fallen into the hands of the Sith.
Position: Jedi Knight
First Appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)
Shado is a dedicated Jedi Knight who has few equals in lightsaber combat. Formerly apprenticed to Kol Skywalker he has sinced gained his knighthood and now travels with Wolf Sazen, reluctantly aiding him in his quest to return Cade Skywalker to the Jedi Order. While unsure of Wolf's quest he is also sick of hiding and relishes opportunities to fight against the Sith.
Position: Senior Jedi Master
First Appearance: Jedi Council: Acts of War
K'Kruhk is a Master from the Old Times, serving the Jedi Order before the Old Republic fell. He served from a young age, playing a part in many conflicts. When the Clone Wars began he served, but had many doubts, though he saw the war through. Thought dead after Order 66 he actually survived and remained hidden for some time. Eventually he rejoined the Jedi Order but was again forced into exile as a Sith took control of the galaxy once again. He hid on his homeworld of Toola, but felt a calling in the force and returned to Ossus to find Cade Skywalker. Along with Wolf and Shado he helped retrain Cade, but expressed doubts. Somehow R2-D2 had fallen into his hands and he gave the droid to Cade as it was a "family posession." K'Kruhk agreed to remain on Ossus to safeguard what remained of the Jedi artifacts there.
In a dark galaxy few are willing to aid those wanted by the Sith. But the Jedi do have some allies, and they are unusual allies in general. Some are willing to offer passage or shelter, remembering what the Jedi have done as a force for good. But there is one group who are dedicated to helping them - formerly their bitterest enemies, the Yuuzhan Vong.
Species: Yuuzhan Vong
Homeworld: Zonama Sekot
Position: Master Shaper
First Appearance: Legacy#11 (Ghost, part 1)
Raised in a time of peace, but reminded of the time when her forefathers invaded and conquered a galaxy that still hated their race, Nei Rin gladly accepted an opportunity to bring peace between the galaxy and her kind. A skilled 'shaper' capable of manipulating life forms she was brought in to use her skills to change worlds devastated by war and other causes. She first changed Ossus, a world still reeling from a devastation several thousand years old. Ossus was transformed into a lush paradise and soon worlds were clamouring for the help of the Yuuzhan Vong. But the Sith sabotaged the project causing horrifict mutations on the inhabitants and the galaxy turned to war. Her homeworld, equipped with massive hyperdrive engines, fled- leaving her stranded. She sought evidence of what happened, but by the time she gathered it the Sith had destroyed the Jedi. She and her guardians went into hiding until Jedi returned to Ossus.
After the attack on Ossus it was estimated that half the Jedi still lived, though that will have dwindled since it still means that hundreds, if not thousands of Jedi remain in hiding, waiting for their time to fight back.
Well that'll do for now, like with the Sith I'll do another article about those who have fallen.
Saturday, 27 October 2007
Homeworld: Luxan Territories
Average Height: 5'6"-6'6"
Most of what I know about Luxans comes from D'Argo so I guess I'll be referring to him a lot. But everything about him, from his looks, his strength to his sword that doubles as a rifle this guy just screams originality and cool. What worked for the series too was that each of the characters was an exile and while exibiting traits of their species could not reliably be counted on as typical of them. Put simply you were interested in the character more than his race, which is a good thing. But of course it is nice to know where characters come from so I will detail the nature of the Luxan race. This will inevitably borrow heavily from the Farscape Wiki.
The Luxans are a proud warrior race. Their heads are adorned with armoured noses and heavy tentacles. They also have the ability to unleash a sting with their tongue, leaving them never without a defense. Lead by spiritual leaders called Oricans they have a deep sense of honour and will see a fight through and will never abandon an ally. They have been allies with the genetically similar Ilanics for a long time, aiding them in their war against the Scorvians. But a recent alliance with the Peacekeepers against the Scarrans may not be honoured by those they bargained with.
OK, I'm already copying enough as it is so I'll leave it there for now - I hope you got a sense of my respect for this race if not very much information on them!!
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Average Height: 8'6"
The Sangheili are incredibly well designed as opponents. They have the general humanoid frame, though large enough to make you duck for cover. What's good is that the designers stopped at this, they didn't make them just human with different facial features they created an original look. The Sangheili's jaw is split into four prongs that expand out and retract with eating and expressing emotion. I think that just this alone makes them a cool and original race.
The Sangheili are a proud warrior race, intelligent and cunning and technologically advanced. At some point in their early history they became part of the Covenant, a fanatically religious union of species bent on conquest. Their might and cunning put them in first place in this Covenant, the prominent force of the military, commanding the weaker Unggoy (Grunts), the stealthy Kig-Yar (Jackals) and the powerful but slow Lekoglo (Hunters). They even took the role of honour guard for the Prophets who lead the Covenant of their quest.
The Covenant encountered the Humans, who had colonised many planets, and waged a brutal war that nearly drove humanity into extinction. The Sangheili did think that the humans should have been invited into the Covenant, but as loyal members they continued to fight humanity and devastate their worlds. But things changed for all the species involved when the human colony of Reach was destroyed, one ship the Pillar of Autumn escaped and crashed on a mysterious structure - a ring shaped artificial world. This, it seemed, was the object of the Covenant's religious quest so they did everything to capture it and rid it of the humans that had been stranded on it. But, lead by a SPARTAN 2 super soldier known as the Master Chief (or Demon to the Covenant) the humans discovered that the installation housed the Flood, a super powerful parasite that consumed life. Worse if the Covenant activated the installation, all life in the universe would die.
Humanity succeeded in destroying the installation, and the Sangheili race were cast into disgrace and replaced by the Jiralhanae (Brutes) - one leader was demoted, but given the role of Arbiter, acting for the prophets and acting on the most suicidal missions. The Sangheili were not content with their treatment and began to see through the Prophets and their misguided teachings. A Heretic movement was formed, which the Arbiter tried to quell. But eventually the race as a whole turned their back on the Prophets and allied themselves with the humans. They helped to turn the tide of the battle and gave humanity a chance for survival. The Covenant and the Flood were eventually driven back and an uneasy peace with many hard memories was established between the Sangheili and Humanity.
Saturday, 13 October 2007
First Appearance: Legacy #2 (Broken part 2)
Darth Ruyn was an aged teacher who trained many of the Sith of Darth Krayt's new order. The best that he had trained was Darth Talon who became Darth Krayt's hand. He and Talon were close and Talon admitted to caring about him yet when ordered to kill her master she decapitated him without hesitation, completing her training and bringing the career of Darth Ruyn to a close.
Homeworld: Mon Calamari?
Position: Appointed leader - 407th legion
First Apperance: Legacy#4 - Noob
Darth Maleval was a ruthless leader in the Sith Order who delighted in inflicting pain on enemies in a variety of ways. He was sent to lead a legion of stormtrooper against another legion that was trying to defect and had been stranded on Borosk. He launched himself into the attack, not seeming to care about the risk of harming his own men and delighting in the use of both his lightsaber and an electrified whip. He demanded absolute loyalty from his troops and pushed them to breaking point when he ordered the lieutenant in charge to execute his own brother who had defected then killed them both when he refused. This enraged the squad who was with him and he was gunned down from behind by one of the troopers.
First Appearance: Legacy: 13 (Ready to Die)
This brutal dark lord was totally dedicated to the Sith Order and completely willing to face death to further the cause. Kruhl organised the Empire aquisition of Munto Codru by manipulating the tribal leaders and eliminating resistance. Next he was given the assignment of infiltrating Imperial stronghold Bastion and assasinating former Emperor Roan Fel. Fel bested him with tactics as well as skill, but the attempt served an alternative goal of making Fel complacent. Whether Kruhl new this or not he was still willing to give his life for a chance to bring down opposition to the Sith.
Position: Adept and Sith Agent
First Appearance: Legacy #9 (Trust Issues part 1)
Jor Torlin was trained to be Sith on Korriban, but never had a great enough connection to the force to join the ranks of the Sith. Instead he was trained as an agent, working for Sith Intelligence and Assasination with his latent force powers giving him an edge over other agents. Torlin was given the task of tracking Cade Skywalker and found him on the wheel where he also bumped into Imperial Agent Morrigan Corde who coerced him into working with her to break up an alliance between Fel and the Galactic Alliance. Torlin pursued Skywalker to Ossus then turned on Corde, mistrustful of her, but Corde had alreanty implanted him with toxins which she released - quickly killing him.
Darth Wyrrlok the 1st and 2nd
Not much is known about this particular order other than all the members are Chagrians from the same family and are given the role of loremaster and advisor to Darth Krayt - his most trusted counsil. A thirs Wyyrlok is currently serving and a fourth is in training.
Darth Krayt's Hand
Before Talon could be trained Darth Krayt's "hand" died. Darth Nihl had been intended for the position of "Fist" - in charge of the military forces of the Sith, but this change meant Nihl became a Hand even though Krayt doesn't fully trust him.
Many more Sith have fallen at the hands of Jedi and others, but the Sith are still strong and a great number. But it is important to remember the fallen and they can teach us as much about the group as those who still serve it.
Friday, 14 September 2007
First of all some news on the Legacy front. Obviously the new issue is out, if you're behind on Legacy you probably won't get much of what goes on, but there is a flashback which features Obi-Wan Kenobi in the time after Order 66 so that might interest you and the rest will give you a taste of the world of Legacy. If you want more of a taster then Legacy 0.5 will be released this december - it is an updated edition of the guidebook released at the start of the series with info on all the characters ships and organizations on this new series. Lastly a series named Vector has been anounced, starting next year and crossing all four Star Wars comic titles - it is planned as a jumping on point for new readers and will take you through a vast Star Wars timeline, culminating in the Legacy era.
OK, updates - here we go. Obviously there are SPOILERS
Sith: Active Personell
Darth Krayt - Lord Krayt revealed that after Order 66 he returned to Tatooine and became a warlord of the Tusken Raiders, taking back the land that had been claimed by settlers in a conquest of vengeance until he reached the Lars farm where he met Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kenobi ordered him to stop his crusade, he refused and they fought until Obi-Wan bested him. Shamed and mutilated, his people abandoned him and he followed Obi-Wan's order to leave the planet and never return. How he turned to the path of the Sith has yet to be revealed.
Darth Stryfe made his first appearance, he is in orbit over Ossus where he believes some Jedi may be in hiding.
Cade Skywalker - After hearing Krayt's story and demonstrating his own power Cade has decided to begin training in the Sith Order.
Darth Talon - She recieved a dire beating from Cade, who demonstrated how he could use his healing power to maim. After demonstrating how a Sith never asks for mercy she has now been given the role of his teacher.
Well those updates pretty much cover the story other than the intro in which Morrigan Corde accepts the mission of breaking Skywalker out of the Sith temple on behalf of the disgruntled Imperial Moffs who want him for their own power. She meets Cade's former crew, covertly inviting another crew that have unfinished business with them. She then reveals her identity as Cade's mother and sets her plan to free him in motion.
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
Cardassians hail from the planet Cardassia in the Alpha Quadrant, and have formed their own empire known as the 'Cardassian Union'. It is unsure how expansive this empire is or what other species are members of it, aside from the once captive Bajorans. Its is speculated that the size of the Cardassian union is roughly a third of the size of the Federation making it vast and likely including many planets and potentially as many species. While the Bajoran's are the only species documented as 'conquered' by the Cardassians their well equipped military and experienced espionage and intelligence division, the Obsidian Order, would hint at a past of war and conquering considering their imperialistic nature. At the same time, they have good relations with a number of neutral species though never had any formal relations with the other major powers of the quadrant save for non agression treaties along the neutral zone. With no solid relations it would suggest they are indeed a powerful group to be able to deter any possible attacks from the Klingon and Romulan empires. At the end of the Dominion war, while their military was drastically reduced it is believed they are still a major power and certainly have the capacity to rebuild.
The species themselves are humanoid in appearence with thick leathery skin and scales and have raised ridges along their eyelines and centre forhead . They are a cold blooded reptilian species favouring arid climates. They are a very proud and well educated race, largley as a result of the strict upbringing and education system within the Union, and while being more than capable warriors seem to also have a natural gift for using words as weapons. They are quite aristrocratic and seem to share a preference for upper class luxuries and goods again reflective of their proud nature. Their intelligence network is second to none in the alpha quadrant, rivalled only by the Tal Shiar of the Romulan empire. Their adeptness in this field is greatly enhanced by two main factors the species have, all Cardassians have a nearly or completley photographic memory and are naturally resistent to all but the strongest of mental, empathic and telepathic probes. Their memory allows them to adapt quickly to situations and pick out an opponent's flaws with little difficulty.
However, their memory has also been a great weakness on occassion. Relying too much on recalled information than trying something new a number of Cardassian captains have come out of a fray on the losing side, particularily when opposing humans who also adapt quickly though rely far less on memory and more on imagination. Another major weakness of the species is thier inability to cope in cold climates, as the low temperatures slow their metabolism.
The species has a great deal of untapped potential and unexplored regions of their 'Union' making them prime candidates for future novels and comics of the Star Trek expanded universe.
Monday, 10 September 2007
Average Height: 7-7.5 feet
As I freely admit I have not seen any of the Predator films for sufficient length to claim to be a fan or any kind of expert of this species. But I know one when I see one and I know they have made their mark on Science Fiction and so more than deserve their place here. And so I commence covering them in one brief article with one last remark - an alien with dreadlocks?! That could never fail!!
The Yautja, also known as Hish-qu-Ten and more commonly referred to as Predators travel from an unkown homeworld in search of beings to hunt. In terms of stature they largely resemble humans that are larger and stockier and with their battle masks on they could at a distance pass for a human to those unfamiliar with them. When the mask is taken away it reveals a drastically different countenance with mottled skin and four mandibles surrounding a tooth filled maw. Physically they are highly resistant to injury of all kinds with only the most deadly attacks able to even slow them down.
A Predator unmasked
Their culture seems to revolve around hunting. They will go out and seek dangerous and worthy prey to hunt. They are known to even breed the highly deadly Xenomorphs (often known simply as Aliens ) in order to hunt them in honour rites and such. Little else of their culture has been seen other than when they descend to hunt their chosen prey, which is always a deadly and capable race. They have attacked humans on occasion, but only on a small scale and only those they deem worthy enough to hunt. It seems to be part of their honour code to only hunt those who can fight back and to leave the weak and defenceless unharmed - perhaps why they prefer Xenomorphs as they are all born deadly. With powerful skills and some of the best weapons technology ever seen, the Yatuja are likely to be able to continue their hunts on many worlds for many years to come.
Thursday, 30 August 2007
OK, I've finally gotten around to doing this, a set of articles covering the galaxy in the Star Wars Legacy comic series, set over 130 years after the first Death Star was destroyed. A full century after the Yuuzhan Vong war (see Species of the week 1) the galaxy has changed, though still impacted by it. The Jedi (now in their thousands) led an effort to reintegrate the Vong by using their biotech to restore barren worlds. This was sabotaged and plunged the Galaxy into war, leaving one side victorious - the Sith. This article discusses the individuals of the New Sith Order still active as of the latest Legacy issue (#15) and I'll seek to update any changes as issues are released.
Position: Dark Lord of the Sith
First Appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)
Darth Krayt, undisputed leader of the New Sith Order has had a long and painful history. Born A'Sharad Hett, son of a great Jedi and raised among the Tusken Raiders of Tatooine until his father was killed and he took up Jedi training. Soon after the Clone Wars broke out, quickly followed by Order 66, leaving Hett an exile on Tattoine. He survived the Jedi purge and eventually saw it as his duty to return the Sith to power, though he evidently did not want to join Sidious in this. The Vong war left it's mark on him, leaving him covered in living armour that threatens to consume him. Eventually he made his way to Korriban and there, in secret, founded a New Sith Order, made from many thousands of Sith all devoted to his vision, working as one. Through the Empire Krayt came to be ruler of the entire galaxy and strives to bring it under his rule and vision.
Homeworld: Devaron or Korriban(?)
Position: Head of Sith Intelligence and Assasination
First appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)
Darth Maladi is cold and dark, an expert in torture and death she is also very active in directing the forces of the Empire in Krayt's commands. It was by her the Sith approached the Empire with an alliance and indeed it was her sabotage that caused the war in the first place!! She has a large laboratory in the Sith temple where she tortures captives, such as Jedi Hosk Trey'lis, and bends them to her will. She also has assumed leadership of Imperial Intelligence, though officially it is still run by Moff Calixte, and all agents ultimately report to her. She is an avid schemer and happily uses the lives of others in her own schemes, such as when she sent Darth Kruhl to assasinate Roan Fel, knowing there was a good chance he'd die.
First appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)
Darth Nihl knew power and dominion before he joined the ranks of the Sith. Deep in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy he was a feared warlord. At some point he was found by the Sith and joined them, swearing loyalty to Darth Krayt and becoming Darth Nihl. He was intended to be the Fist of the Sith, their military leader, but instead became a Hand to Krayt when the previous hand died prematurely. As hand he served on the most vital of missions and proved his loyalty to the Sith Lord. He proved himself in combat when he lead the assault on the Jedi academy, maiming Wolf Sazen and killing Kol Skywalker as well as many more. He continued to serve his Lord on many more missions, though he has begun to found that because he was not born Sith his master doesn't always fully trust him. Notable about him are the fact he doesn't bear Red sith tatoos and that he uses a cane like lightsaber in combat.
First Appearance: Legacy #2 (Broken, part 2)
Darth Talon was born and raised among Sith, she has known no other life, thus she is utterly loyal, highly trained and a very powerful asset to her lord Darth Krayt. She is formidable in both combat and force techniques and ready to use them for whatever purpose her lord wishes. She proved her loyalty when Darth Krayt ordered her to kill her trainer, Darth Ruyn, and she did without hesitation. Darth Krayt then sent her to track down the daughter of original Emperor Roan Fel, she failed to capture the princess, but gained valuable information for her lord and eventually captured a bigger prize - Cade Skywalker. Krayt knows he has her complete loyalty and continues to entrust in her the most vital of assignments.
Darth Wyrrlok the third
Position: Lore Master
First appearance: Legacy #1 (Broken, part 1)
The third Sith to take on the name of Wyyrlok, he is Darth Krayt's most truested advisor and friend. Krayt confides in him more than any other Sith and Wyrrlok is his advisor in seeking help with his ailment. Wyrrlok guards his lord while he is in stasis or healing and gives his complete loyalty to Krayt. Wyrrlok is the Sith who is most knowledgable in the force, studying ancient techniques and collecting Sith artifacts, making him very wise and also very powerful. He continues to serve diligently at his master's side, seeking a way to preserve his life and keep his vision for the galaxy alive.
This Dark Lord is a human male who is one big ball of Sith empowered rage ready to explode at his master's will. He has yet to be seen in galactic events, but no doubt he will have an impact when he does.
Darth Wyyrlok the fourth
Though she has yet to assume that title it is intended that Wyyrlok's daughter will fill his place when he is gone, she is currently in training on Korriban.
He has not joined their ranks, but Cade has been captured and is held at the Sith temple on Coruscant and judging from the cover of an upcoming issue he may at least join them temporarily, though his motives remain unclear. Cade has a place in many other articles and is Legacy's central character so expect to hear much more about him.
The ranks of the Sith number in their thousands and include acolytes and field agents with minimal force powers. Several Sith have fallen and the dead say as much about the group as the living so the next article will cover the inactive personell of the Sith Order.
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Average Height: Varies on an individual basis
I can't claim to be a long time Transformers fan and readily confess that my enthusiasm for this species comes almost solely from the new film. The notion of a living species with mechanical components instead of organs is a fascinating one and gave the film a strength that carried over from the former cartoon series and popular toy. The transformers have a diverse and wildly varying continuity which I'm going to mostly skirt around, though I will try and avoid making direct claims based on the film as they may differ from older continuity and inevtiably annoy someone.
The Transformers are a living mechanoid species from the planet Cybertron. How they came to be is a mystery even to the species themselves as it is long shrouded in their past. Some believe they were formed from a natural interworking of cogs and levers, eventually developing into full mechanoids. Others believe that they were created by God like beings to serve in their battles, still other that the life giving Allspark provided them with life. However it happened the Transformers are most definitely alive.
They are gifted with the most incredible abilities. They processors can handle information at incredible rates and their weapons far surpass the most advanced of Earth's technology. Their most amazing ability is to change shape to attack or disguise themselves. All they need is an image of a construct (say a car) vaguely similar to themselves and instantly transform into an exact replica of it, perfectly disguised. When not in this they reside in "protoforms" often vaguely humanoid, but still clearly mechanical and clearly alien.
The history of Cybertron and it's inhabitants is a long and tortured one with multiple accounts and histories branching far and wide. But the central core of their lives for many millenia has been the two factions of the Autobots, led by the benevolent Optimus Prime and the Decepticons, led by the power hungry Megatron. This war has ravaged their world, flung them accross space and eventually lead them to Earth where they have often carried out their war hidden among the humans, this war has defined Transformers for a long time and will for years to come.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
Sam, I'm not exactly sure of the answer since I can't remember the incident exactly, but I'll try my best to answer. In general it seems that seeing yourself, or anyone who you shouldn't really see, doesn't actually mess about with the timeline too much. If you remember Rose was able to see her younger self and family, it was only when she touched them and changed their story that things got messed up. I think that because seeing something only impacts one of you it doesn't distort the timeline - if you see yourself in the past then that doesn't affect you in the past only you in the present, the only thing it changes is that you now know what you looked like in the past. However if you had a conversation with yourself that would really mess things up because it would then mean that you should already know about that conversation because you'd heard it in the past - which would really mess things up. Time travel is generally messy and probably shouldn't be attempted under any circumstances, but a general rule would be "look but don't touch" and that would seem to keep you alive and stop you destroying the universe in most cases. Anyway - back to the matter at hand eh?
Oh by the way if you're a bit behind on Star Wars literature there are major spoilers here!!
Average Height: 1.9 metres
I guess a sensible thing to do would be to pick a species that appeared in the Star Wars films and that everyone would know about and could relate to - however this is my blog and this blog is about getting downright geeky so if you've never heard of this species prepare to learn!! The Yuuzhan Vong were the main focus of the groundbreaking New Jedi Order book series. With the Empire defeated and now at peace with the New Republic and superweapons, rogue Imperials and dark Jedi becoming old news, something new was needed to shake the Star Wars galaxy up - that something was the Yuuzhan Vong. As a species this race had more impact on the galaxy than any other, with the possible exeption of humans! As worlds fell, along with troops, ships and even Jedi, the galaxy suddenly became a whole lot darker.
Yuuzhan Vong was a strange alien name that soon burned itself permanantly into the minds of all galactic citizens. This terrifying race from another galaxy stormed across the galaxy wiping out everything in it's path. The 'Vong (an abbreviation that was in fact highly offensive to the species) were a species that in general frame were not too different from humans. They were taller and bulkier with sloping foreheads that had bony ridges - they also had sacks under their eyes and were generally terrifying to behold. They also pierced and mutliated themselves as part of a religion of pain and they clothed themselves in armour that was in fact a living creature known as a Vonduun crab. In fact all of their "equipment", from clothing to starships, was living in some way or other. Because of this they despised the artificial technologies that populated the galaxy they sought to conquer - nothing more so than droids, a mockery of life in their eyes.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about them was that they were completely absent from the force all that could be sensed of them was an absence. This coupled with the fact that their armour and weapons were resistant to lightsabers gave them and edge of their most fearome opnonents - what they termed as Jeedai. Many Jedi fell to the Yuuzhan Vong and many of the galaxy's inhabitants turned on the Jedi in the hope that they would be spared. The invasion carried itself all the way to Coruscant, erradicating whole worlds such as Ithor that stood in it's way. They devastated Coruscant and remodeled it after their former homeworld and began to push further outward to secure the galaxy as their own. But, regrouping at Mon Calamari and securing alliances with Hapes and the Empire, the New Republic reformed into the Galactic Alliance and started to strike back. While they did Luke Skywalker led a mission to find an alternative solution to the war - the sentient world of Zonama Sekot who was connected to the Yuuzhan Vong's ancient homeworld, which was also a living world. After defeating the Yuuzhan Vong forces in orbit of Coruscant with a final push the Vong who surrendered were relocated to this mysterious world where they began the slow process of learning to live in peace.
OK, you may have caught up on the NJO, but if you haven't read the Star Wars Legacy comics you'll still find spoilers here.
Even a century after the invasion, the Vong were still not ready for reintergration, though they did make a valiant effort that might eventually have succeeded had it not been for the Sith. They mostly remained in seclusion, but a few were brought to the new Jedi Academy on Ossus, where they were accepted despite the painful memories still harbored by Jedi. They began work on a project to use the biotechnology of the vong to reinvigorate barren worlds. This was eagerly approved by the galaxy, but sabotage produced terrible results, causing the galaxy to despise the Vong once more and ultimately plunged the galaxy again into war, with the Sith and Empire coming out as victors.
Well there we go - more to come I hope, I'm getting quite excited by the new program Heroes (BBC2 Wednesdays @ 9pm) it certainly looks promising though I haven't quite made up my mind yet. Anyhow - enough from me for now i think.
Friday, 27 July 2007
Multi-purpose Borg combat vessel
Manufacturer: Borg Collective
Length: 28 kilometers
Speed: Transwarp capable
Weaponry: Tropedoes and cutting beams
Affiliation: Borg Collective
Captain: Borg Collective
The simplicity of the design for this ship is a remarkable feat in my opinion, before we even meet the borg, the fact that their ships are designed to look like simple geometric shapes says a lot about them. Of course the workings of the cube are much more intricate then it's general shape, but to see the design tells you the owners of this ship don't care about aesthetics, a need to create a tactical superiority or any need to try and prove to you that they are stronger - and that is what makes them scary. Whenever a cube shows up it is always an impressive sight - not least because they are absolutely huge - completely dwarfing pretty much any other ship in Star Trek, with a design as cold and frightening as their merciless inhabitants.
Cubes were the primary vessels of the Borg Collective, serving as bases, warships and centres from bringing new species for assimilation. Their basic design was signature borg, all their ships had simple designs from spheres to rectangular scout ships - even the Borg Queen's ship was a basic diamond. Aside from the sprawling technological masses of their larger bases, such as Unimatrix One, the Borg kept thing simple and always functional. Cubes were always a terrifying sight for any species that shared the Delta Quadrant with them or were subject to their further raids. One cube was sufficient to combat several of the warships of other species - at the battle of Wolf359 only 1 of the 40 Federation ships there survived against a cube. The Cube's strenth was the same strength as the species - assimilation. A Borg vessel could quickly understand the technology of other species and adapt it, and even steal it in the midst of a battle, and the capture of one valuable member would endow the Borg with enough tactical knowledge to hold off most assaults. It took all the combat power and ingenuity of other species just to hold them off.
It is unclear what the primary function of the cubes were - the presence of "Tactial Cubes" with greater armour and firepower suggests that they were not primarily combat vessels, though the Borg certainly used them as such. It is more likely that the cube's main function was to assimilate species and technology, and it was generally assumed that a cube could get past any defences stopping their way. Above all Cubes and thei crew lived to serve the collective and, despite their strength, were considered expendable as demonstrated when the Borg Queen detonated several cubes just to erradicate a small number of disconnected drones aboard them. Very few ships were able to survive multiple encounters with the Borg and escape assimilation - the most notable being the USS Voyager who'se crew proved remarkable adaptable to Borg techniques and successfuly survived attacks and even managed to take the fight to the Borg and win on several occasions. Before returning home Voyager was able to criple Unimatrix One and the Borg Transwarp hub, severely damaging the Collective and killing the queen - but it's unlikely the galaxy has seen the last of a borg cube.
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Unique design transport aircraft
Manufacturer: Tracy family
Length: 76 metres
Speed: 5000 mph
Weaponry: None, mutliple rescue equipment
Affiliation: International Rescue
Captain: Virgil Tracy
While Thunderbird 1 has the coolest look, a fast ultrapowered rocket ship, I think that Thunderbird 2 is, when you think about it, the coolest ship and the powerhorse of Thunderbirds. It is slower than T1, but still faster than most other man made machines and of course is the delivery mechanism for International Rescue's myriad machines designed for almost every eventuality - i mean who else would design a series of automated trucks designed to carry a plane that had damaged landing gear?!! Thunderbird two was cool in that its design as a carrier meant detatching a significant portion of it's mass, and it was always exciting to see the vehicles that would come out of the "pods" including the Mole, Firefly and of course Thunderbird 4. This coupled with it's own gadgets and liftof procedure (who can forget the collapsing palm trees?) made this a most memorable vehicle and well deserving of it's place in this humble collection of reviews.
All the Thunderbirds were of unique design, from the mind of Interbational Rescue's resident genius Brains. Constructed with the wealth of Jeff Tracy and using parts aquired from his connections as a former astronaut these custom built machines superceded almost all other human technology. Most of Earth's civilizations recognized their use as vehicles of peace and aid, but the superior technology of the Thunderbirds also earned International Rescue some enemies along the way.
Thunderbird 2 was the primary support vehicle for International Rescue. In most missions Thunderbird 5 would first recieve the information on what the situation was, then Thunderbird 1 would go straight to the scene, liaise with local officials and set up a local base of operation. Then Thunderbird 2, loaded with whatever specialist vehicle suited the occasion, would follow and provide support, dumping it's pod and then lifting off to allow the specialist vehicle to assist in the situation. But Thunderbird 2 was much more than a cargo ship, it's larger frame and bulk made it very useful for lifting operation or stabilising structures long enough to get people out. Of all the ships it was the most versatile and always the most involved in saving the day.
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Manufacturer: The Builders
Speed: Hech drive, Starbust capable
Captain: Ka D'argo
Moya is the lead ship of a daring new Sci-Fi series that was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Everything about this ship was cool - it's design, the intriguing "Starburst" transportation and of course the fact that it was alive!! I've been out of touch with Farscape for quite a while so I will try my best to do justice to this excellent show and cool ship in this article.
Leviathans were a unique class of ships produced by a mysterious God-like race known as The Builders. Completely organic, they were also sentient beings capable of communicating with the beings they carried on board. They bond with another, almost humanoid, life form known only as Pilots (which accurately describes their role on the ship) who help control things and relay the thoughts of the ship to the crew. The race is able even to produce offspring, though producing warship offspring is frowned upon the the Builders, who regard their creations as emmisaries of peace. Leviathans live an average of 300 cycles (years?) and when they die they go to a Leviathan graveyard in a hidden corner of space.
Moya was a prison transport until it was overrun by its prisoners and fell under their command. The arrival and capture of John Chrichton propelled the ship into somewhat unwanted significance as powerful forces such as the Peacekeepers searched for the wormhole technology hidden in Chrichton's mind. Moya and it's pilot eventually bonded (though not so literally) with it's crew and lead through conflicts with the deadly Scarrans as well as many other dangerous races and individuals even more weird than the ship's own crew. Despite suffering personal injury on many occasions the ship remained loyal and was probably the most loyal of the crew! Moya gave birth to a son, named Talyn, who was engineered by the Peacekeepers to be a warship, much to the dislike to Moya's creators. Talyn had a troubled life and eventually died to protect Moya and her crew and was taken to the Leviathan graveyard. Moya continued to serve Crichton and his company through the Peacekeeper Wars.
Well that was a trip down memory lane - I hope I've remembered enough to be accurate, if a little skimpy on the details. more to come soon I hope!!
Saturday, 14 July 2007
If anyone doubted the answer to that question was "yes", then the opening story Smith and Jones swiftly laid those doubts to rest, with an assured and action-packed tale that introduced Martha Jones to the Doctor when the hospital she was working in was transported to the moon by a platoon of Judoon. New girl Martha proved to be a warm and likeable character, different from Rose but still very much in the 21st century girl explorer mould. We also got a couple of mentions of some guy called "Mr Saxon"...
This was swiftly followed by The Shakespeare Code, a witty script teaming up the Doctor and Shakespeare against the witch-like Carrionites, who use the power of words for their nefarious ends. The alien invasion by having a small group of villains open up a portal for their army is rather unoriginal even by Doctor Who's promiscuous standards, with stories such as The Unquiet Dead and series 2 finale Army of Ghosts having recently covered similar ground. But it's good to see an historical setting so spectacularly realised, and the whole yarn is told with such style and gusto that it's still massively entertaining despite these elements of unoriginality.
Off to the year 5 billion next for a return visit to New New York, for one of the oddest and most charming Doctor Who stories yet attempted. What other show could have a 20 year long traffic jam, a giant head in a jar, cat nuns, Macra and hymns, and tell a good story with it all? While Russell T Davies freely acknowledges sources like Mega City One from Judge Dread, here it's all remixed into an original and touching meditation on faith and hope. With giant crabs.
Off then back to old New York in the Doctor's latest encounter with the Daleks. Daleks in Manhatten may not have been to everyone's taste story-wise, but few can deny that it looked amazing, with a small amount of filming in New York helping to create spectacular shots of the city in the 1930s. Personally, I loved this two-parter. It was great to see the Daleks scheming and plotting away rather than just blasting in as an army, and I loved the dissent among the Cult of Skaro, with their independent thought and personalities. Yes, some of the science was a bit dodgy, but for a show based around a time-travelling police box, I can suspend my disbelief.
The Lazarus Experiment and 42 took two sci-fi tropes, the mad scientist, and an alien nasty loose on a spaceship, and did them fairly well, too, but coming back to back couldn't escape the feeling of being somewhat generic runarounds. They were lifted by some effective moments, such as the showdown with Professor Lazarus in the cathedral, and the Doctor's fear at being possessed by the alien sun, but up to this point, series 3 was "only" consistently very good, rather than reaching the dizzy heights of excellence achieved by, say, The Girl in the Fireplace. But that was all to change with Human Nature and Blink.
I picked up a copy of the novel Human Nature at Hay-on-Wye a few years ago, and it deservedly has a reputation as one of the best of the original Doctor Who novels published while the show was off the air. It's a simple idea: the Doctor become human. It's the story of the incarnation, or Superman II. From the classy period setting to the delightfully malevolent Family of Blood and their scarecrow servants, it's a great story, and gives the Doctor a very human love story as he falls in love with Joan. The contrast between the humanity of John Smith and the Time Lord nature of the Doctor is fascinating, and the story also examines questions of war and how to respond to evil. The way the Doctor deals with the Family of Blood in the end is brimming with righteous rage and Old Testament fury, both very scary and very cool. The Doctor is good, but don't ever mistake that for nice.
The next episode also didn't have much of the actual Doctor in it, for different reasons. Since Doctor Who started having Christmas specials, there hasn't been enough time in filming for the Doctor and his companion to film 14 episodes-worth of material, and so there's one episode a year in which they only appear briefly on-screen. Last year's "Doctor-lite" episode, Love & Monsters, is the Marmite of Doctor Who stories, with many either loving it or hating it. Personally, I really enjoyed L&M, but Steven Moffat's Blink made a virtue of a smaller budget and a largely absent David Tennant to deliver a brilliantly creepy tale of weeping angels that was on another level entirely. It managed the impressive feat of not seeming disappointing after Paul Cornell's superlative two-parter. Carey Mulligan carried the episode well as Sally Sparrow (and was very cute), putting her at the top of many fans' wish-list for new companions.
Series 3 managed to better disguise its penny-pinching towards the end of the series than series 2, where we ended up with two cheap contemporary Earth stories back-to-back before the Cybermen vs Dalek epic finale. Utopia takes us to an alien planet at the end of the universe, distracting us from the cheap, old-school filming in a quarry by making it a pivotal "event" episode and giving us some cracking performances from regulars and the supporting cast. The first big hook was the return of Captain Jack, but he wasn't the only time-traveller from the Doctor's past making a reappearance. Although the episode probably didn't make enough of its end of the universe setting, it crackled into life in the final quarter of an hour with the return of the Master. Derek Jacobi masterfully manages the transition from kindly human Professor Yana to evil Time Lord, and John Simm is just electric as the regenerated Master in the final scenes.
The series finale goes bigger than ever before, with the Master actually succeeding in outsmarting the Doctor and taking over the world, and ready to start his takeover of the rest of the universe. Some fans seem to want a serious Master more like Jacobi, or Roger Delgado who first played the role, but I love John Simm's manic mirror-image of the Doctor, casually taking over the country and murdering the cabinet, stealing many of the best lines from the Doctor. It's a pity that after starting by defying supervillain convention by refusing to tell the Doctor all his plans so the Doctor can work out how to defeat him, the Master then falls into the trap of keeping all his opponents alive so that he can gloat. It's just a pity that the production team didn't stick to their guns and kill him off without the Flash Gordon-style "The End... or is it?!?" scene of someone (Lucy Saxon?) picking up his ring from the funeral pyre.
The "one year later" conceit allows for a refreshingly different post-apocalyptic setting for the final episode, though it makes it rather inevitable that Russell was going to hit the reset button by the end of the story. But he actually makes it work: the Paradox Device is set up in advance, and the characters have to struggle through a year of hell to put things back to normal. This is no easy victory.
And while the world is saved, there are consequences for all the characters: the death of the Master, the Doctor's loss both of his old enemy and Martha Jones as she leaves him, Martha taking charge of her life and giving up on her unrequited love for the Doctor, and her family needing to face up to what they've all been through. While it doesn't quite manage to pack the same punch as the Ninth Doctor's regeneration or Rose's departure, it finishes off the series in fine style.
Now that's my episode-by-episode analysis, but what of the themes of the series? One of the big themes of the revived Doctor Who is the question of "what does it mean to be human?", which was explored more in this series than ever before. It crops us for the first time in Smith and Jones with the Judoon cataloguing people as human or not human. The Doctor describes Shakespeare as "the most human human who ever lived", while Professor Lazarus set out to "change what it means to be human" with disastrous consequences.
Daleks in Manhatten has Dalek Sec attempting to create Dalek/human hybrids, leading to a discussion of what defines humanity - is it our compassion, creativity and the like, or our aggression, our propensity for self-destruction and war? Human Nature faces the Doctor with the choice - the life of a Time Lord, a wandering lonely god, or the life of a human, to have a wife and family, and to grow old and die. This is one of the things the show does best - by showing us all these monsters and aliens, casting a fresh light on our own nature as humans.
This series also saw the development of the Doctor as a messiah-figure. From the Doctor's own incarnation as a human being and his heart-wrenching choice to end his life as a human to save the world in Human Nature, to Martha walking the world spreading the Gospel of the Doctor in Last of the Time Lords, the Christ-like parallels have rarely been more blatantly drawn. Is this just to give a bit of extra mythic zing to the show, or is something more going on?
Russell T Davies seems to be deliberately giving Christian imagery a humanist spin. The whole world saying "Doctor" in the finale was very prayer-like, but it inverted the Christian idea of prayer, where power comes from the one being prayed to, God. Here, power came from those "praying", from humanity's combined psychic power, which the Doctor attunes himself to using the Master's telepathic field. It's a homage to the power and potential of humanity, to hope as a source of strength in itself.
Arguably, however, the show gives a lopsided view of humanity, showing its potential for great good, which is undoubtedly true and one of the real strength of the show, but without dealing honestly with our corresponding capacity for great evil. Although the show's monsters are often warnings of what humanity could become, it would be interesting to see the show pick up on the idea in The Christmas Invasion where the Doctor says he ought to have warned the Sycorax to "Run and hide because the monsters are coming: the human race." But overall, Doctor Who's broad humanism is one of the great things about it, and Russell T Davies resists the temptation to make it an explicitly and exclusively secular humanism.
To return to the original question, they didn't just keep up the quality of Doctor Who in series 3, but surpassed it. There's some concern over the casting of Catherine Tate as the new companion, but from only really seeing her in the Christmas special, I'm inclined to think it could be a lot of fun, as long as Donna is developed as a character. She seems unlikely to fall in love with the Doctor, which would get a bit repetitive a third time around. But if the last three series are anything to go by, series 4 of Doctor Who will continue to surprise and delight.