Saturday, 26 April 2008

Heroes returns!

You could be excused for no knowing that big hit US drama series Heroes had returned to BBC2 on Thursday. It was only a chance look at a magazine that alerted me to the fact that the series would be returning that same night! The story follows the characters four months on from the events of the finale of series 1 - with the exception of Hiro who has found himself transported to feudal Japan.

There's probably a chance to catch up so I won't say more, this uis just to alert any readers to the fact that Heroes is back, though this has reminded me of my Power Trip idea which is collecting dust at the moment.

Enjoy the show, I'll get back to you soon folks!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Doctor Who - New Series, new species part 12

Ok, so we're back to the big one, the fourth new series of Doctor Who has come to our screens. Donna Noble's reappearance has been a controversial subject, but she seems to be doing alright so far. But anyway, I'll leave the comments on the series for a clever bunch of who fans who've set up their own fan based "Podcast of Impossible Things" providing DVD style episode commentaries and other comments and anecdotes. As for myself I'll get on and discuss those aliens shall I, starting with one from the Christmas Special.


I quite liked Bannakaffalata and his race, visually interesting and with quite a good backstory revealed over the episode. The element of him being a secret cyborg was an interesting twist and created a believable setting for such an extraordinary creature. Time has fogged my memory so I'll move on to species description.

The Zocci were a small race hailing from the world of Sto where they lived alongside other species. Though diminutive and sometimes frowned upon by larger species they seemed to be accepted and respected by other races. In the late 20th century cyborgs were reviled and outlawed and it was a shame to be part machine. However early in the 21st century the laws began to change, though the word was slow in getting around. One Zocci, Bannakaffalata, accepted himself and even used his cybernetics to defeat an enemy at the cost of his own life, making him no only accepted, but a hero.

Unknown Near-Human Race

While I quite liked the characters I wasn't too keen on a bunch of people from an Alien planet who look and behave pretty much exactly the same as us lot. Humans are obviously used a lot in Who, but they're usually from the future or past and on Earth, but this group from the unknown world of Sto came with virtually no explanation or logic to their existance so though they were good characters as a species I found them quite poor.

This unknown race were nearly identical to humans in almost every respect, though a lot of them remained quite ignorant of human culture and some were even fascinated by the mysterious world called Earth. On Sto, the planet they hailed from, cyborgs were reviled and this promted one of the species, Max Capricorn to set up a devious plan using one of his luxury liners to wreak devastation on Earth to leave his former company in disgrace and retire quietly, fortunately he was stopped and though most on board were killed a few were able to return safely and one even stayed on Earth to see more.


Though some weren't too keen on the cuddly nature of the aliens on Doctor Who's premier episode I mus admit to taking a liking to them myself. While they were a threat to humans in terms of their arrival and nature in and of themselves they were harmless which made the issue a little more complex than usual. I also liked the angle that the Adipose were actually beneficial to humans but the aggresive manipulation of their Matron made them a threat.

Adipose are an important and influential race, but who have a complex birthing process, much more complicated than other races. Evidently they needed the right conditions and material to birth a new Adipose. For some time they controlled a breeding planet which sufficed for this duty, but when this world was destroyed a new method was needed and the Adipose resorted to darker methods. Setting up a facility on Earth through an outside agent, the Adipose used human fat, from unsuspecting volunteers, to birth the new generation of Adipose. When the plan became dangerous and the Doctor intervened, the Adipose came to collect their children


I must confess to having a number of niggles with this race, cool as they were in appearance and concept. The first is the name, the obvious use of "pyro" in the name completely made the naming of the creature underwhelming and disapointing and it's not the first species to have it's name be more or less a description of itself. The second was the look, a bit too similar to a roman soldier if you ask me - it works well thematically, but makes no sense in practice. nonetheless they were impressive and a convincing piece of CG monstery.

The Pyroviles were an ancient and powerful race, some of whom crash landed on Earth during Roman times in the city of Pompeii. An influencial species theyr were able to contact and manipulate local soothsayer, giving their premonitions incredible accuracy and slowly turning them to stone, making them a first step in a new race of Pyroviles on Earth. The pyroviles seemed comprisev of stone and magma, able to fire blasts of heat, though water could sting or even kill them in sufficient amounts. The Doctor was able to halt their takeover, but at great cost triggering the famour Pompeii eruption killing almost all in the town.

And that's it - a lot more information on the Ood was released in the thirs episode, but they are a returning species and I have made it my policy only to discuss brand new species, besides - this article has gone on long enough I think!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The Matrix Online: State of Affairs

I think it's high time I did a bit of plugging for an online game I've been playing for most of it's three year run now. This game gives the continuing story of the Matrix following on from when the truce between man and Machine was made at the end of Matrix Revolutions. It's not the biggest of online games nor the most popular, but it is a great game and if you're a fan of the movie trilogy and fancy getting a bit more involved in the world you see on screen then this game might be worth a shot.

I've decided to plug it as best I can by detailing the things you can enjoy in-game, but first I think I should let you catch up on the storyline of the game. This is no simple task as there is a lot of story to catch up on, and there's no way that I can hope to get it all, but I'll give a brief overview along with my thoughts and links to more detailed review pages which will help you get caught up if you want to join the story - of course this info will contain SPOILERS and I'll post up warnings for a bit, but heck if you're three years behind it's not exactly doing you any harm is it?!!

OK I don't have time to cover one of the chapters now, so what I'll do is briefly set the scene following on from the movies and leading up to the game, most of it will be fairly obvious, but it will give you some idea of what to expect if by some leap of chance I've persuaded you to get on board.

By defeating Smith Neo won peace for humanity at the cost of his own life, though many doubted and some still doubt whether he died at all. Given relief from Machine attacks Zion were able rebuild and a significant amount of new redpills were freed from the simulation, unhindered under the loose terms of the truce. Transport Hovercraft were reserviced to house these new additions and newer "Hoverbarge" transports were commisioned to house large numbers of redpills before they found a crew.

A vast new array of combat programs were created allowing redpills and exiles to experience new abilities. However the amount of new humans made them short in supply, so a training system was created so that humans could specialize in one or two ability types, and change them at will. Various hand to hand and weapons combat techniques were available and refined but new and more varying abilities became available. Hackers could launch dangerous viral programs to damage or disable enemy targets or restorations programs to heal friendly members. Coders could craft items from weaponry to clothing out of the code of the Matrix or launch attacks and even intelligent defense programs known as "simulacra."

Perhaps the most significant development for humans was the Emergency Jackout Protocol.It was developed by Danielle Wright, a former Zion operative who had seperated from the city because of differing ideals and set up a company in the Matrix called Wright Research, which employed many bluepills and worked on special projects. The EJP allowed redpill to instantaneously jackout upon "death" in the Matrix, saving their lives though they remain weak for some time. Most redpills will probably owe their lives to this development, which is very hard to get around for those who want to permanantly neutralize a human target.

The influx of new humans made new possibilities for others too. The Machines and the Merovingian began recruiting the awakened into their folds and soon this developed into three political factions for humanity, each watching the others closely, wondering when chaos might strike between them...they wouldn't have to wait long.

I think that should do it for now, I'll try and get back soon with some more info, hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Star Wars Legacy #20-21: Updates and Review

With Legacy 22 being released today and soon to be in my hands I thought it best to get on and review the two-part series "Indomitable." The series runs concurrently with the events of issues 18-19 and features a battle between the Empire and the Galactic Alliance remnant so not a lot to do with previously discussed elements but I'll quickly review these issues and touch on the new characters introduced briefly.

Sith Updates

Darth Azard

The second Quarren Sith to take centre stage in a Legacy storyline, interesting considering the political changeover the Sith enforced of Mon Calamari, putting the Quarrens in command over the Mon Cals. Azard came to enforce the will of Darth Krayt in the Outer Rim Third Fleet, tasked with hunting down Galactic Alliance Admiral Gar Stazi. He executed Sha Dun, the Admiral leading the fleet and placed Dru Valan, an Admiral who had a score to settle with Stazi, in charge of continuing to hunt the GA forces. Another interesting thing to note about him was that he carried a double bladed and curved lightsaber, which is not of a coral design that a lot of Sith seem to carry.

No references to the Jedi or Cade exist so I'll get on and give a quick summary of the issues.

Tasked with hunting Gar Stazi admiral Valan allows him to get word of a new larger and more powerful Star Destroyer, named Imperious, being constructed at the Mon Calamari shipyards. Stazi anticipated the Empire's involvement but went ahead with the plan, putting in measures to secure that Star Destroyer for his fleet. They went ahead with the plan, disabling the defenses and overpowering the crew of the Star Destroyer, but at the last minute Valan's mean recaptured the Star Destroyer and reactivated the defenses before jumping in his own fleet.

Outnumbered and outgunned, Stazi chose to fight, concentrating firepower on Valan's ship. Valan activated the planetary defenses, but they too fired on his ships as Stazi had found a way to redirect control. A commando team, disuised as Imperial crew, had once again gained control of the ship and took it out of the dock. Enraged, Valan focused on Stazi and a furious battle began until Stazi revealed his true game plan. Stazi did not consider himself a great figurehead as Valan thought he did, and prepared to ram his flagship into the shipyards, his true target. At the last minute his captain, Jaius Yorub, had him knocked out and performed the deed himself. Stazi recovered and took command of the Imperious leading the fleet as they prepared for the inevitable Sith retribution. Valan left his command in disgrace.

This story was cool as it introduced Rogue Squadron, piloting the controversial new GA fighter "Crossfire" we saw Hondo Karr, a former stormtrooper, on the decks of the Indomitable and some background references also to how the GA lost the war in the first place, all in all a great part of the Legacy story and with Darth Krayt's "Retribution" next issue this is gonna be a great side story before we return to the travels and adventure of Cade Skywalker in issue 23.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Cloverfield: American monster?

It's been a fair while since the film was released, so reviewing it will be fairly fruitless, but I thought I might discuss the monster itself while the urge takes me. J.J. Abrams, the man behind the project has stated that he created the project after seeing Godzilla and King Kong toys in Japan, and he wanted America to have a monster to call it's own. I figured I'd discuss whether he achieved that or not - to be honest I'm still not decided, but I'll keep hitting those keys and see if a conclusion comes out.

It's a cracking monster that's to be sure, freaky, scary and unpredictable, hitting all the right spots to get your heart pumping as the film moves on. It's big enough and powerful enough to take a beating from man's arsenal and fight back as it rampages through New York City. It's got a big body that can tower over buildings and a heck of a scary face that comes at ya from nowhere. So yeah, it definitely works as a monster.

It's original too. While borrowing many story elements from earlier monsters, we've all seen the buildings smashed and the bullets bouncing off, it as a creature and a dynamic is quite new and refreshing. It has a refreshingly new shape to it, rather than an overgrown monkey or dinosaur it is a long, sniewy mass, trailing limbs awkwardly (see preproduction sketch below.) While not modelling any creature, it has a distinctly biological feel to it, it looks like a creature, not a mutant or an alien (though I guess those are still possibilities) but a very believable animal that just happens to be huge and scary. There's a moment when you look into it's face and you see a curious almost cautious look, not the semi-intelligent sympathy of King Kong, but more like a dog analysing something.

There are also parasites, falling from it that are deadly to humans. I thought this was a clever device to bring the fight to the people but not in an unrealistic way 'cause there's no way a group of partygoers could do anything against something that big, and since they haven't chucked any expert scientists into the mix all they can do is run, which they wisely do a lot of. But the monster carries more than just a poweful body creatures latching onto it fall to the city and attack humans with deadly effect - again original so you don't have to spend half the film watching helicopters and tanks to get in on the action.

So yeah, Cloverfield is an all new and great creature, but is it America's monster - I'm still unconvinced. Part of the film's genius is it only shows you what's recorded on the camera by the group of friends so realistically detailed images of the creature are used sparingly. While this works well as a film dynamic, I think it's actually detrimental to stamping Cloverfield as a monster for America. While Cloverfield may be more believable than previous films, the dramatic and thematic nature of those creatures, though simplistic at times is what stamps them on the minds of the viewers. Cloverfield is barely seen at all and it's a tough job to get decent images of the beastie even some time after the film's release - is we can't remember what it looks like how are Americans supposed to identify it as "their monster?" Since a sequel is likely we may get to know the creature more - I hope they will because while the film will be remembered for some time, the monster is actually easier to forget, despite it's awesomeness.

I guess the DVD will give us more images of the beast and that may help, along with the figure coming out later this year. But more will have to be done to cement this remarkable creature in our minds for the years to come.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Doctor Who - New Series, new species part 11

OK well Doctor Who has returned to our screens, but just before it came the finale of Torchwood, which was a dramatic and powerful ending to a much improved series. Should the whim take me I may discuss the series as a whole, but for now I'll just get on and discuss the various creatures Jack and his team encountered in the final episodes.

The Night Travellers

The Night Travellers were interesting, and a reflection of how Torchwood seeks to express the unexplained as much as the tangible. These weren't the first species capable of existence outside the corporeal world nor will they be the last I'd imagine. Much remains unexplained, such as how they were able to come into being in the first place if they were so dependant on human knowledge for existance and why they have such a desire for water - but nonetheless they were fascinating villains and it was cool to see them taken down in true Doctor Who fashion when Jack taped over them!!

The Night Travellers were an intriguing race, appearing human they banded together to form a travelling show that enticed humans so they could suck away the moisture and contain it for their own purposes. Where they came from is uncertain, as is how or why they came to Earth, but the fact that they were dangerous is certain. They existed in rumour, but few visited the show and ever returned, but the prospect of a travelling show was always enough to draw crowds and victims. During the heyday of the travelling shows Jack Harkness joined another show to investigate the travellers, but was unable to track them down, though he learned a lot about them. The group were fixated with water, esoecially one names=d Pearl who immersed herself in water and always thirsted. They took moisture from victims and also held their "last breath," keeping the victims in a semi-dead state so they always had an audience. Eventually the travelling shows lost their popularity and so the Night Travellers faded from existance as no one came to see the shows - all that remained of them were images captured on film, but that was enough. Many years later a film clip was shown containing images of the Travellers, having an audience once again the ringleader, known as Ghostmaker, was able to reenter the world along with Pearl, collecting more "breaths" and eventually freeing the rest of his band. The Torchwood team fought back and though most of the human lives collected by the Travellers were lost they saved one, and were able to defeat the creatures by sealing their images on film once more and then destroying the film. The team had won, but Jack warned there might be more footage out there somewhere.

Alien Parasite

This was a brief encounter showing more of Owen's past and how he obtained his cynical and selfish atitude towards relationships and encountered alien life, bringing him to Torchwood. The idea was good and well executed, though it woul have been nice to know more.

This species latched onto a host body and grew inside it. One has been encountered in a human brain, though it may not necessarily need brain tissue to survive. The effect on the mind it inhabits is similar to Alzheimer's 'causing memory loss and disorientation. If threatened or exposed, for example by a group of surgeons trying to extract what they thought was a tumor, it released a cloud of toxic gas, deadly to all in close range. One of these creatures inhabited the brain of the fiancee of Owen Harper, prior to his membership of Torchwood - it is unknown what happened to the creature after, presumable it was extraced and destroyed.


This species appeared as part of the Torchwood Alternate Reality Game "Torchwood Needs You" in which viewers could log on to become a freelance member of Torchwood and help take down an alien threat, running parallel with the show's storyline. The game was well executed and while it has yet to be able to compete with the staggeringly good ARGs of Lost and otherbig hit American shows it is a good effort and it is great to see Torchwood pushing the medium into British TV. The aliens were great too, not truly revealing themselves until the very end.

Virulents are a species of DNA based aliens able to infect and control other forms of life. Several members of the species came to Cardiff, possibly through the rift, and set about starting an invasion at the molecular level. Controlling key members of New Eden research foundation, Venus cosmetic clinic and Dark Talk pirate radio show they set out a plan to bring their species to Cardiff. First more of their alien DNA was created at New Eden, then it was implanted into cosmetic surgery patients at Venus, lying in wait until the right moment. But some of the Venus patients activated too early and died, causing an investigation that caught Torchwood's attention. Through freelance agents they tracked down the DNA and discovered that it would be activated by an ultrasonic signal sent through Dark Talk's transmitter. They went to investigate Dark Talk, which frequently mentioned them and speculated on their activities, and discovered that Abigail Crowe, the host was the leader and planned to start the invasion immediately. Thanks to a signal jammer activated by the Freelancers the invasion was stopped and the active virulents captured or killed and Cardiff was saved once again.

The following species are ones mentioned in Owen Harper's list of Torchwood vault occupants, they haven't appeared in series, but i will briefly mention them here.

Silicate Beast

Along with another creature named Lyle this beast was retained from the old cryogenics system. Owen expressed concerns that it might be regenerating.

Invincible Vampire

Presumably blood sucking creature that could reconstitute itself no matter how many times it was destroyed. It was frozen in the vaults as a means of stopping it, and no one has since explored further means of termination.

Intelligent Bear

Found in Snowdon, no explanation for it's intelligence or location has been found.

Blobby Thing

Dumped in the vaults by Torchwood One in the 80s, Owen was keen to be rif of it.

And that, my friends, is it for Torchwood. But a new set of Doctor Who reviews will be on their way before too long so hang tight for now. Apologies for lack of images by the way, left it a bit too late for the ARG pictures.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Star Wars Legacy - Cade Skywalker

SPOILER WARNING - if you haven't been reading my other articles be warned that this will reveal most of the Legacy storyline so if you want to know what happens for youself avoid this post and buy the first two graphic novels available now from amazon and other retailers.

A review on Legacy issues 20-21 is forthcoming, but I thought I should give you some thoughts on the Skywalker featuring prominently in this era of Star Wars continuity. So far I've discussed the Jedi and the Sith but Cade is someone who has danced to both tunes, is highly desired by both sides, but not sure he wants to be associated with either. So here's a brief look at the guy who carries on a famous name but iften wishes it wasn't his - Cade Skywalker

Early Years - Jedi Apprentice

Cade grew up in the Jedi Temple on Ossus under his father's wing and among an order that admired him as owning the name of their founder. Unknown to him his mother was Imperial Agent Morrigan Corde, also known as Moff Nyne Calixte and he was raised by his father alone amongst the Jedi Order. When he was old enough he took up training under his fathers former apprentice Wolf Sazen and became friends with Twi'lek apprentice Shado Vao with whom he would often sneak out of the temple into the undercity. Though often reckless he was accepted because of his name and because he was skilled in the force.

Massacre at Ossus - Bounty Hunter

But Cade's life was turned upside down when the Sith and Empire invaded the Jedi temple. Eager to fight on the front line he was sent away by his father who simply meant to buy time for the others to escape. Rescuing his master Cade felt the agony of his father's death and in this moment of despair found his true potential, tapping into the dark side he healed his master brom the brink of death. And far away, on his new throne Darth Krayt sensed this power and resolved to find it and use it for himself. Then he took his fighter to attack the Sith but was shot down, ending his time as a Jedi. He was captured by and later apprenticed to the pirate Rav who had come to pillage the temple. Hiding his identity as a Jedi Cade befriended Jariah Syn, a young crewmember and eventually struck out with him and a Zeltron named Deliah Blue in a ship of their own the Mynock. They were succesful as bounty hunter though heavy expenses and Cade's deathstick addiction kept them indebted to Rav. Then one bounty pushed Cade into a series of events that would change his life. Unintentionally they caught a Jedi and Cade turned him in so as not to expose his identity, but he would regret it for some time.

Vendaxa - Skirmish with the Sith.

After dropping off his bounty Cade took on board two passenger fleeing from the Sith. He guessed correctly that it was Marasiah Fel, princess of the Empire in exile and resolved to get a reward or a bounty for picking her up. When they dropped her off on the agreed meeting point of Vendaxa they encountered two Jedi, Cade's former master and Shado Vao who had come to pick up his sister, Marasiah's companion. Soon after an attack by the Sith followed, with Imperial Knights throwing themselves into the mix. To save himself and his friends Cade had to pick up his force powers and his lightsaber to fend of the Sith attacks and once again used his extraordinary powers to save Marasiah who had been wounded saving him from the Sith. The day had been saved, but his powers and identity were exposed and with Jariah mistrustful of Jedi Cade decided to walk his own path, dropping off the Jedi on the way.

Return to Ossus - Jedi training

After a bried stay on space station the Wheel, Cade moved on and decided to visit Ossus where he took a dangerous dose of deathsticks, but was healed by K'kruhk and met his Jedi friends who had followed him there. Reluctantly accepting their presence he decided to take up Jedi training to protect himself from the Sith who would doubtless try to track him down. He spent a few weeks in the company of friends and quickly took to the abilities he had left behind. He finally came to terms with what had happened at Ossus, but a vision left him with a new and dangerous purpose - he had a debt to settle.

Back to the Temple - Sith Apprentice

Cade returned to Coruscant to rescue the Jedi he had turned in. He found the Jedi, but was captured by the Sith. Darth Krayt forced him to demonstrate his power by healing his captured crewmates. Cade agreed to stay at the temple is his friends were released - Lord Krayt agreed. Cade trained at the temple for a long time, listening to Krayt's story and vision and learning to use new powers and thoughts. He even developed a close relationship with his teacher Darth Talon. However his compliance was a lie, his only true purpose was to rescue Hosk and absolve his conscience - Krayt knew if his deception, but let him continue, confident he would fall anyway. Eventually he called Cade out, and killed Hosk. Cade fought back, defeating both of Krayt's "hands" and holding off the Sith lord himself until his friends came to rescue him. Fleeing the temple he was reunited with his former crew and enjoys a safety which is sure to be too short.

Well that's it - Cade's extraordinary powers and his name have made him a target for both boog and evil force users. He has repeatedly stated he wants nothing to do with either side, but no one seems to listen and it looks like before too long Cade will have to face up to his destiny and take up the fight, but knowing him he'll find some way out of it!!

So that's it - Cade Skywalker, yeah you could have read it all on Wookiepedia, but I'm not here to give the details I'm here to introduce you to a fab set of characters from a great comic series so stay tuned for more coming your way. Next time: The Imperial Knights!!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008


Alright, I'll leave the graphic novel for you to do, Aled. I'm not that cruel, but i bring news of the upcoming movie!
The plot will be very close to book, as Dave Gibbons is assisting. I don't know about Alan Moore, he tends to hate film adaptations of his works. It will be released on the 6th of march next year.
I have always loved this graphic novel and i cannot wait until the film is released. The characters' costumes have been changed radically, save for Rorschach's - which you can see below.
The rest of the images from the film can be seen Here.