Monday, 24 October 2016

The Demon Book 1: Hell's Hitman (#40, #42-49, The Demon Annual #2) PART TWO

"About to take my name in vain?  That'll bring you extra pain" - Etrigan

So, where were we?  This is the second half of my look at the first collected volume of Garth Ennis and John McCrea's run on The Demon, which took place during the 1990's.  The Demon in question is Etrigan, a "rhymer" from high up in hell's hierarchy who over a thousand years ago had his soul hitched to that of a morose fellow called Jason Blood by Merlin because reasons.  Blood has never aged since, the pay off is merely having his entire existence made a misery by Etrigan who he switches places with by saying the words "Gone, gone O form of Man. Rise the Demon Etrigan" (or varations thereof).  This allows Etrigan access to the mortal realm to deal with various villianous devils, monsters, ghouls and other evil paranormal shenanigans which he does for his own amusement.  Although in the current arc, the two angels running hell at this point in time (see The Sandman arc "Seasons Of Mist" for why) have appointed him "Hell's Hitman" giving Etrigan more legitimacy (as if he cared about that!).  He's currently teamed up with Tommy Monaghan, a human hitman with x-ray vision and telepathy and are taking on a demon called Asteroth who has just summoned Gotham's city demon, "the Gothodaemon".  This post completes that arc, then Ennis can't resist going back to his first love, which is military stuff.  How does that involve the paranormal?  You'll see (it's genius though).  And we wrap up this volume with the birth of Etrigan's child down in hell which seems to be part of another plan to ruin Jason Blood's life that has included "interfering" with Jason and his now ex-girlfriend Glenda's safe sex and getting her pregnant too.  Now we're all caught up, we can begin.

The gigantic Gothodaemon is now striding about downtown Gotham and no one notices, it fits right in.  Oh I'm being silly, mass panic ensues as well as more murder, multilation and suicide than normal as it affects everyone within range, "it holds a city full of hate inside, and everyone it touches feels a vile, persuading whisper...As some say YES."
Etrigan and Tommy
Etrigan and Tommy observe the Gothodaemon from the top of the cemetary hill.  Etrigan explains to Tommy how it is born from all the hate and fear in Gotham over the years, turning it into a city that taints the ground it's on. Tommy laconically notes:

Tommy: "Kinda interesting how much it looks like a bat, huh?"

Etrigan: "That's the kind of awkward question most folk would rather you not mention..."

Then Etrigan makes a beeline for where Asteroth is as Tommy deals with the gangsters and holy warriors he has protecting him.

Exhausted by the ritual, Asteroth staggers out of the church he was summoning in. The Gothodaemon is still wandering about, the police car that first catches up with it is told to just follow and observe.  Glenda is also following because despite everything she still loves Jason and wants to make sure he's alright as she knows he'll be mixed up in all this.
Asteroth in trouble.
Etrigan chases Asteroth back inside and Asteroth starts bricking it because he has no power left to put up a fight.  Etrigan gloats about how much fun he's going to have torturing Asteroth.  He has to bring him back down to Hell now he's the official Hitman for it, but at least he can stretch the ride out so he can have more fun and then punches him in the throat and kicks him in the balls to get started.

Etrigan stands over Asteroth's prone body and laughs, which is cut short by the Gothodaemon breaking through the roof and grabbing him.  Tommy sees this can thinks, "guess I can kiss my fifty-thou goodbye".  But he carries on wasting Asteroth's minions.  One of the warrior priests thinking Tommy is demonic too sprays him with holy water. This of course does nothing except annoy Tommy because the shirt was clean on that morning and he unloads on them.  The police arrive and the gangster coningent attack them, and get a similar, ballistic response back.

The Gothodaemon demands to know if Etrigan is trying to stop it.  Etrigan just wants to know what the Gothodaemon wants with him, that Etrigan has not yet done anything to it.  The Gothodaemon says for someone who feasts on evil and bathes in hatred, Etrigan is a "delicacy".

The Gothodaemon: "Five hundred years ago a man built his house here.  He was the first citizen of Gotham.  His wife was second.  That night he drank to celebrate and strangled her to death.  And I was born".

It says that every night the evil carried out in Gotham City trickles down to it and it bathes in it, a half millenia of hatred.  And Etrigan is "nothing" compared to that, which is an unwise thing to say to put it mildly.
Etrigan takes down the Gothodaemon.
We then get a lengthy rant by Etrigan as to why this is not the case.  Etrigan's been alive a lot longer than that, "a hundred-thousand years or more - I've not felt the need to keep score".  He was there when humans lived in caves, and has always hated those who sought salvation.

Etrigan: "In God's sweet love men can rejoice - but I ne'er heard his Blessed Voice, speak out and offer me the choice to drink his Blessed Wine... For that's my place within His game, to be cast out and get the blame, for all these mortal acts of shame.  You know what I say?  Fine."

He then unleashes his flaming breath while explaining to the Gothodaemon as it begins to disintegrate under the searing attack that he not the Gothodaemon is the "King of Hate!"  The Gothodaemon shrinks and disperses and Etrigan returns to Asteroth still lying on the church floor.  Etrigan gleefully tells him the Gothodaemon wasn't much of an opponent and now he's going to torture Asteroth all night before he returns him to hell.

Tommy has also finished off the mobsters and holy warriors, the police have arrived on the scene at this point so he shoots the guns out of their hands and makes his escape.  Dum and Dee think with Asteroth and his mob gone they can take over the Gotham crime scene, but when they bump into the police arrivals that rather puts paid to that idea.  Glenda has also found the place, she calls "Jason?" outside the church front door.  But only hears "No" from Etrigan as a response and she sadly leaves.
Asteroth humbled.
Down in hell a naked Asteroth is kneeling before Remiel and Duma.  His head is lowered, he mumbles that whatever they want to do to him, "it could never be as bad as what Etrigan did."   Remiel says that they aren't going to torture, Asteroth is an arch-fiend and belongs in hell.  But he is going to have to deal with a change in stature and start working off his sins again.  Duma hands Asteroth a mop and bucket and he shuffles off to start cleaning hell's lavatories.  Grim.

Etrigan is sitting on a rooftop talking to himself.  He expresses his joy that Glenda's pregancy is going to result in pain for her, and send Jason insane.  He then revels in his new job:

Etrigan: "It's not just Gotham now you see -  there's  whole wide world out there for me - Where I can hunt and slaughter demon strays. If there's a body count as I'm about it - even better! Come! Let's shout it! Etrigan the Demon's here to stay!" 

And that rounds off the "Hell's Hitman" arc.  Now let's move on to "Haunted Glory" which is Ennis's way of slyly getting a military story into a series about demons and magic.  It stars one of those wonderfully zany Silver Age creations, a Haunted Tank.  No really, the Haunted Tank was a WW2 Allied forces tank linked to the ghost of a Confederate general called Jeb Stuart, who Alexander the Great (!) sent to be a guardian of his two namesakes  Lieutenant Jeb Stuart and the tank he commanded, the M3 Stuart.  The comic was called G.I Combat and the Haunted Tank first appeared in it in 1961.  The comic was cancelled in 1987 and it fell into comics limbo (the General being a Confederate might have explained why people weren't in a rush to feature it) but it has had some notable appearences since then, this three part tale being one of them.

This first chapter is drawn by fill-in artists, Denis Rodier and Wayne Faucher. A quick introduction to the Haunted Tank then we join two Germans.  A younger one called Bergen and an older one called Von Raddel.  He'd been a drooling vegetable since WW2 when he was hit in the head by a bullet from a Russian soldier during a battle outside Kursk where he and his platoon of men had been ambushed and massacred.  Bergen had revived his memory and self by showing him a swastika.

Now they are going to revive Hitler's dream, although they have plenty of fascist support already in Europe, Bergen's organisation "Wotan's Fist".  Now he wants muscle that Von Raddel can supply. Von Raddel takes out a necklace with a pendant on it and suddenly the dead Nazi soldiers rise up from their battlefield graves.
Nazi zombies.
We then cut to Jeb Stuart meeting his wartime buddies in a pub near Amarillo, Texas.  They are Rick Parsons, Arch Stanton and Slim Kilkenny.  The reminisce that although their tank chalked up a huge number of kills, the ghost only spoke to Jeb and the rest of them have a hard time believing the tank was haunted.  Then Jason Blood appears and tells them he needs them.

In Limbo, General Jeb Stuart is reliving his Civil War glories to himself when Etrigan appears and tells him to come with him and "fight the war that never ends."  The revival of all the Nazi soldiers has "torn down the walls that keep Earth safe from what's below", and because magick has bought them back, magick will be needed to fight them.  The General says he knows his duty, "the haunted tank shall rise again".  And it drives itself out of the yard it had been left to rot in.

Back with Jason Blood, he tells Jeb and friends that they are needed to crew the Haunted Tank one last time.  It arrives outside much to their surprise and Jeb looks pleased to see it.  Back with the Nazi's, the zombies have been loaded into a aeroplane and they are heading for America.
The Haunted Tank and crew reunited.
Von Raddel tells Bergen how the undead Nazis were made.  They took the "brand of the Triskele - the three legged swastika - and they would be immortal".  Then they were all massacred at Kursk and Von Raddel was rendered unable to summon them back to undead life.  Bergen says "now you can build your better world."

Returning to the Haunted Tank, Jeb sees the General who vouches for Jason. They agree to crew it again, despite Jason's misgivings as to Etrigan's motives.  The Nazi plane flies into a US army base in Texas, it came in under the radar and the Americans scramble to be ready for when it lands.  It disgorges hundreds of zombies and they find their weapons useless against them.  They are massacred and Von Raddel and Bergen find tanks and lots of them.

The next chapter begins at the American Fort Cahaill.  The last of the soldiers have been killed and the Nazi zombies are crewing the tanks under Von Raddel's control. While the Haunted Tank's crew get inside, no mean feat when one is fat and the other a paraplegic, Jason demands to know from Etrigan what he wants with, "four geriatrics and an obselete tank." Etrigan says you need magic to fight magic and he can't destroy the Nazi zombies on his own.  Angrily Jason says the words and Etrigan manifests. 
Jason is unhappy as usual.
Back at Fort Cahill, Von Raddel lays out his plans after Bergen tells him of the support he has in Europe.  The plan is to take out the Americans so they won't intervene when they rise up and take control of Europe.  They will travel to Washington DC, and turn it into rubble.  With Washington DC razed, the US will become isolationist and "will not heed Europe's call for help."  He puts on a headset which connects him to all the vehicles and tells them to start moving.

Etrigan is waiting for the fuel trucks which are traveling by road while the tanks roll across the desert.

Etrigan: "' Deutchsland uber alles' eh?  We'll find out if that's true today! This might wreck their well-laid plan. This demon fights for Uncle Sam."

He sees off an attack by some of the zombies following on foot. Then we join Jeb and the gang in the Haunted Tank rattling across the desert.

They come across Etrigan and are freaked out, but The General says Etrigan is on their side.  Etrigan points out the fuel tanks to them and so they will target them first.   Between the shelling from the Haunted Tank and Etrigan's fire breath, the fuel tanks don't stand a chance and explode.

Bergen and Von Raddel are waiting at the refueling rendevous point and Von Raddel looks for them with a telescope and sees their smoking remains.  He finds a town close by they can refuel at, and also kill everyone living there because he's in a bad mood.  He spots Etrigan laughing his head off and says he can deal with him, he summons the devil folk of "infernal valhalla" and the ground opens up under Etrigan and he is pulled down. The Haunted Tank crew are on their own and only they can save the town.  "Mount up" says Jeb.
Dragged to Nazi Hell.
The General says he'll go and get Etrigan back, while they take on the Nazi zombies.  Etrigan is nailed to a giant swastika in a special "Nazi hell!".  The "Aryan Inferno" ruled by those who "preach the Gospel of Hate."  They protect those who fight under the swastika.

Back on Earth the zombie crewed tanks fire upon the Haunted Tank but all miss.   They are lined up in a neat row, and approaching them under cover of all the smoke, the Haunted Tank drives up a ledge and her crew drive it over the Nazi tanks with Jeb dropping grenades inside each one as they go blasting them apart from the inside.

Von Raddel screams at the zombies to destroy it and they fire but hit each other because zombies are pretty stupid.  Bergen stays out of the way next to the truck that is full of napalm, saying to himself "this is a nightmare."  The Haunted Tank keeps jinking and the Nazis keep missing it.
Unconventional tanktics.
Down in Nazi hell, the leader wants to know why Etrigan wars on them. They split humanity apart and make them blame each other for their weaknesses, "for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world... and then have no one to spit upon."  Etrigan just tells them to "credit me with some bloody taste" than to ally with them.  Then the General comes to the rescue.

He fights the Nazi demons as Etrigan pulls himself free of the nails holding him. Etrigan punches they leader then grabs him by the neck and nails exactly how pathetic they are, he says they are not the Kings of Hate, because:

Etrigan: "This is the thrust behind thy ranting: 'He's brown! She's red! His eyes are slanting!' 'Thank god we're better off than her! Those foreigners are worse than curs!' ' My life's become a pile of crap  - it's that guy's fault for being black!' ' They come over here and take out jobs!' 'Of course they do you lazy slobs!' Let Etrigan show you the light:  That isn't hate... it's naught but spite".

And he rips the demon leader's head right off. Then he climbs onto the back of The General's horse and they depart Nazi hell back to the war going on in a Texas desert.
The General to the rescue.
Von Raddel spots Etrigan's back and has a tank fire on him.  Etrigan survives of course although partly torn in half.  He climbs into the napalm truck, and kicks Bergen out so hard he takes the door with him. Then he drives it into the remaining tanks and they all explode with an earth shattering kaboom.

The Haunted Tank has become stuck and the crew are staring to bail, but one is stuck and the other needs someone to carry him.  Von Raddel in the last tank bears down on them, they only have one shot, but they make it count and Von Raddel's tank is destroyed although Von Raddel is thrown clear, which allows Jeb to finish him off with the machine gun.
'Tis but a fleshwound.
They then get out of the tank at their leisure and meet up with Etrigan who congratulates them on sending the Nazi's back to hell, "and though 'tis time to end our story.  I'll never forget our haunted glory".  He tells them to hold their heads up high and they leave the Haunted Tank in the desert quickly covered up in drifting sand so no one can claim it for scrap:

Narrator: "She is old now.  She is old, torn and beaten, and she lies beneath the desert skies a thousand miles away from home.  She carried four young men to war, and all they asked of her was that she'd bring them through... and everytime she did.  Her time will come again".

Damn, it says something about Ennis's writing that he can hit me in the feels over a bloody tank!  The final chapter in the collection is a done-in-one story told in voiceover by a P.I called Joseph D. Gunn (this also is drawn by a fill-in artist called Neil Dobbyn).  He's composing a letter to someone called "Pete".  He has the "craziest" story to tell, and it started that night when he was tracking down and threatening someone for non-payment of debts.  He then spots the weird, goofy pink thing (which does seem to be actually called "Thing") going into an off-licence. 

He follows and sees it buy a couple of cigars and a bottle of Jack Daniels.  When it leaves Joe asks the person manning the counter to tell him about it and doesn't he find it odd.  The man says it's nothing compared to all the superheroes and aliens and huge demons kicking about Gotham.  Joe then follows Thing back to Jason Blood's flat.
Harry the cushion spills the beans to Joe.
He lurks outside listening and looking through the keyhole.  He hears Harry the cushion mocking Jason's moodiness and when Jason leaves to go into another room, Joe breaks in and threatens Harry into spilling everything he knows about Jason.  When he hears about the power Jason has he thinks he could make use of them somehow.

He peeks in at what Jason is doing.  There is a pentangle on the floor and Jason is looking through a magic mirror.  He sighs at the image of a pregnant Glenda and laments he can't protect her from Etrigan.  He then uses a little of his blood to bring a small imp to life. It climbs up on his shoulder and Jason commands it to follow Etrigan who is currently in hell and spy on him.  The pentangle on the floor will act as a gateway.

Joe then barges in pointing his gun at Jason.  He says Jason will work for him now which makes Jason smile in pity.  Joe advances on him saying if he doesn't he'll shoot Jason.  He is standing in the middle of the pentangle and Jason says "gate".  And it starts sucking Joe downwards, he fires a wild shot and destroys the imp on Jason's shoulder, before falling into hell proper.

He comes face-to-face with Baytor the demon of madness.  Etrigan arrives via a horned beast and is told the birth of his son is imminent but the mother, the Lady Smegma is dying.  Etrigan doesn't care about her, she was a means to an end, getting a son.  Joe follows him and hides behind a curtain in the delivery room.  Smegma says the baby is too big, she can't push it out. 
Etrigan's son is born.
Etrigan flashes his claws and threatens a demonic caesarean section.  It's not made clear if he does do that or Smegma is frightened to finally push it out, but Etrigan's son is born and Etrigan says what great pleasure he'll get from unleashing him on Earth.  He holds it up, and off panel, we don't get to see it.  Joe, unfortunately for him, does.

Joe: "It was a nightmare.  It was every disgusting thing you could imagine.  And it was changing itself all the time.   Shifting and warping, unfolding more and more gross bits from inside itself...BUt worst of all was its face ... it's awful,  terrible face... when it turned round and looked right at me."

Then suddenly Joe is transported back to Jason's flat via the pentangle.  In shock he yells at Jason "do you know what that bastard thing's done?"  Jason beseeches him to tell what he saw, but Joe just runs back to his office.

We join him as he finishes his letter to Pete.  He writes that the idea of that thing coming to Earth is more than he can take.  Etrigan is bad enough news, but his son would make life not worth living.  He signs off, takes his pistol, puts it in his mouth and blows his brains out.  The End.  And on that somewhat depressing note we come to the end of this collection.
Joe can't live with what he saw.
I'm so pleased The Demon is getting released (there's another volume to come), it's been a good year to be a Garth Ennis fan what with this coming out and the omnibus editions of The Punisher Max putting that superb series back into print.  John McCrea remains the perfect artist for rendering such grotesqueries, the two fill-in artists are OK, but it's notable how they render Etrigan as a yellow human with bat ears.  John McCrea however really makes Etrigan twisted and beastlike and a true demon to be feared.  Of course this is not a "for mature readers" so his most appalling acts have to be done off-panel and alluded to like his epic torture of Asteroth and the possible ripping of his son out of Smegma's womb and her subsequent death.  The Haunted Tank story is quite a serious treatment of a whimsical concept, Nazi zombies are definitely one type of zombie you'd never tire of killing.  Tommy continues to make his mark with his takedown of most of Asteroth's protective detail.  I have covered the series that he starred in a while ago on this blog and I mourned it's untimely death then, so getting new "Hitman" material is a real treat.  Now Etrigan has a son, is that going to be linked somehow to Jason and Glenda's kid?  And will we ever get a proper look at it?  I actually like the Lovecraftian touch of having it described without us getting to see what it is leaving us to imagine something truly appalling, especially as it's enough to drive a man to suicide when he laid eyes on him.  Anyway,  I'm looking forward to the next volume which I hope to find in my stocking this Christmas, at any rate expect a look at it early next year.


  1. Ha, that Haunted a Tank story. You were quite correct; it's right up my street. Reminds me so much of the sort of thing that used to appear in 1970s boys war comics like Battle. I understand Ennis was a fan of that genre too, so I can see why he'd like to resurrect it, and from your account he really captures what made those sort of stories so good.

    I had a little Google. I was curious about the Confederate connection and how that was treated. Apparently a major feature of the original tank was that it had the Confederate Flag on it. Apparently there's a more recent revival where the ghost takes over a tank in the gulf war. But the new tank commander is a black guy. It sounds quite interesting because the premise is all just about how they (don't) get on.


  3. Thought the Haunted Tank would appeal (also have you checked out my look at the first collection of Ennis's "War Stories" those are pure military tales).

    I didn't know there has been a more recent Haunted Tank story, I love that page you linked!

  4. Just finished your War Stories review. Wow. Yes loved it. They seem like a love letter to the old Commando stories. In fact that one about the destroyer might as well have been a Commando tale. That's exactly how they were. (I used to buy Commando magazines for 8p from a stall in the market and you could then trade them back for 4p off another one. Now the reprints are like 25 quid a pop. Thanks Obama!)

    But they had all the elements. Fantastic artwork. You know my thing for 'real' looking art. I think that's especially important for a project like this. Stylised art seems a bit disrespectful. But excellent choice of artists here (especially Lloyd, some of the ship stuff is practically fine art). Telling the bigger picture through the eyes of the ordinary Tommy/grunt/jack tar. And tjat attention to detail and historical accuracy.

    Speaking of which, the Turpitz wasn't a U boat. It was a pocket battleship identical to her sister the Bismarck. She was ultimately 'sunk' by 617 Squadron (the Dambusters). The Royal Navy though refused to clarify her as sunk because she didn't go entirely underwater. The Germans had been building up an earth bank underneath her for precisely that reason. They planned to use her as a last redoubt like the Fuhrerbunker.

    Heh, sorry about geeking out there but Ennis has given me a real nerdgasm :-)

  5. More nerding:

    Although famous for the Dambusters raid, 617's subsequent history is even more interesting, they did amazing stuff. But there's never been a mass market book or film.

    Here's the thing though. 617's motto is (in English) "After the Deluge"

    Why has nobody snapped that up as a ready made title?!

  6. I remember those little square war comics as well. I bought loads of them but when I was doing a slim down of my comics collection in the 90's I passed them all on to a friend. You definitely got a lot of reading for your money though.

    A quick Amazon search shows that there are five volumes of War Stories by Ennis out now which is more than I thought he had done. I'll have to bag them next year before they go out of print again, so expect to see more.

    Ennis's stuff is always superbly researched, sometimes overwhelmingly so. I keep putting his miniseries about Nick Fury ("My War Gone By") and his involvement in the CIA shenanigans behind French Indochina, Vietnam and the Iran/Contra unpleasantness on my schedule, then taking it off again because I'm not sure I can do it justice!

  7. Hmm, do you need to be familiar with all the background to appreciate the story? I do like it when there are little 'easter egg' bonuses if you do know a bit about it, but isn't it the author's job to sell the tale?

    Of course there can be issues if something supposedly based on fact is inaccurate, especially if there's a motive behind that.

    Interesting topic actually. Maybe you could do a post on that? I'd be very interested in what you'd have to say.

    It's a bit like the "300" controversy. But what I found amusing about tjat is, even within the story it's a tale being told specifically *for* propaganda purposes, so of course it's going to be ridiculously distorted. I actually think that adds to the enjoyment. I sort of watch that film with a raised eyebrow, like I'm one of the guys hearing it.

    So I wouldn't be too concerned. I'm sure you'll do it justice. I'd like to hear about it anyway. Is Oliver North in it? He was just *poured* into that uniform.

    (I'll have to knock off geek points if you don't get tjat reference)

  8. I guess I could approach it by concentrating on the human relationship storyline that runs along side Fury's ever increasing disillusionment with the military inteference he's being forced to partake in and keep the specifics of that part more in the background. I know enough to know he's pretty much got his facts right as I understand it. It's more that it's such a powerful piece of work, with so much to say about loyalty, service and duty across it's twelve issues that I freak out a bit when thinking how to tackle it.

    No Oliver North in it, I did have to google reference because, believe it or not, I really don't like The Simpsons. Sorry, massive geek point lost there :P

    Anyway Imma stop being a wuss and have bunged onto the schedule for March at the latest. I INISIST you hold me to it now!

  9. Yeah, that would be a good approach. Ultimately it's characters' reactions to circumstances that's interesting, not necessarily the circumstances themselves. It can be interesting seeing how a fictional character copes with real world events (although sometimes awkward, more below) but theoretically it could be a purely fictional stimuli. Ill avoid going more into the good people having to do bad things and tjat whole 'my country right or wrong?' trope, otherwise it'll be another Sandbaggers apologetics exercise again (watched on YouTube today just to ensure I didn't have the rose coloured specs on. Nope, it's brilliant)

    I think it's tricky for comics to explore real world issues (unless it's something like Maus). That's especially true in the 'superhero' genre. I know Fury doesn't have special powers as such, but he's still a comic hook hero with all tjat implies. No matter how gritty and 'adult' he's still ultimately a product of fantasy and adolescent wish fulfillment. I'm certainly no moral guardian but I think it is necessary to tread a fine line, especially with topics like this. Those events had terrible consequences for a lot of people that are still being felt today. How might someone from one of the countries affected feel about their experiences being used as a jumping off point for what ultimately is disposable entertainment?

    Those war stories were excellent because although the characters were fictional they were 'real'. Imagine if you stuck captain America into them?

    It's not necessarily a problem. I love seeing wonder woman beat up Nazis. But that's in some generic WW2 setting, you wouldn't want her turning up at Dachau.

  10. Oh and don't worry about the Simpsons. There were like a few funny lines back in the 90s, and then it was all downhill. Haven't seen it in decades.

  11. Heh and we all know how Ennis feels about Captain America...

    Actually it works with Nick Fury because he's in the same universe as The Punisher MAX. No SHIELD, no superheroes, no fantasy elements the only "fantastical" thing about him is he doesn't age post-WW2 and this adds to his tragedy as those he loves grow old and die and he's left alone questioning his relevance in the modern world. It's a real heartbreaker. To be honest the story could have worked without Nick Fury (and Frank Castle in the Vietnam bits) but it gives the miniseries a hook it wouldn't have had otherwise so I can't hold it against Ennis.

    OK, it's in the February schedule now. The story must be told *is resolute*

  12. Heh, *you* might know. I just assimilate what you write and hope I'll get cool by osmosis.

    I get confused with all these universes and continuities. I tried looking it up on tvtropes but that just made it worse. I like the Futurama approach.

    "Wow, how many parallel universes are there professor?"

    "Just this one" (It's pretty much the same as ours but everyone wears cowboy hats)

    But yes, in the words of that weird kids programme back in the day "I'm the story teller, and my story must be told", so gird your loins* and get on with it.

    (* I literally have no idea what that actually means; sounds a bit uncomfortable really)

  13. The Marvel MAX line was designed I believe to ape DC's Vertigo one which is to tell adult stories seperate from the main shared universes. Vertigo though encompasses more stuff than just adult takes on pre-established characters, with self contained series like "DMZ" and "Ex Machina" which I intend to look at next year.

    Marvel just destroyed all its alternate universes while DC bought theirs back. It is confusing. I'll probably end up writing up Fury MAX in december, I've rather got ahead of myself with stocked up posts.

  14. This reminds me of a discussion on Gallifrey Base.

    "I love Torchwood" generally meant you were in your mid teens and "I love Sarah Jane Adventures" was clear giveaway you were at least 40 :-)

  15. Heh. I must admit, I quit Torchwood early on after the awful Cyberwoman episode (although I caught the odd episode after) and because of a lack of TV service never watch the SJA although they sounded good. Maybe now I have hit my 40's I should give 'em a go!

    Anyway, when it comes to comics I like the daft stuff as much as the older skewed stuff. I've got some right silly stuff lined up for next month. It'll be a treat for anyone who is nostalgic for the Golden and Silver Ages.

  16. You suggesting high heels *aren't* an essential feature in a cyborg?

    SJA was fantastic. It was more 'Doctor Who' than the actual main series in s way (although I remember exactly when the new series just became a continuation of the original one, that Sontaran two parter, that could have been from the 70s)

    Lizard Sladen was wonderful. Such a shame. And the kids were surprisingly non-punchable. There was an annoying one in the pilot but they got shut of her. The quality of the writing was spectacular. It was the same production team as the main series anyway, but it was like they really upped their game for that show. Some brilliant bits of dialogue. One favourite (just because of the delivery) was when the alien villain caught one of the kids (Maria) who was being a bit sassy.

    "Keep that up and you'll be finding out how *we* solve a problem like Maria"

    And K-9!!! (eventually)

    Stick a Sevateem warrior woman in there and I'd never have left the house.

  17. I'll defnitely give it a go then, Lis Sladen is always great and a real loss too. I'll keep my eye out when doing a dvd trawl for them.

  18. I think you'll enjoy it. Ironically it almost was time travel; I really felt I was back in my childhood watching it. Especially when you see people like this in it (not Matt Smith obviously, he's new; but he was great in it too)

  19. And I'm so glad that we got to see this chap turn up.

  20. To get back to media analysis for a bit, thinking about it there are some almost 'meta' references with Sarah Jane. Within the stories she's not very keen on Torchwood the organisation, but listening to the dialogue it could just as easily be RTD having a subtle dig at the show itself.

    Oh, and in regards to representation etc there's a great character called Clyde. The cool black kid thing could be such a cringeworthy cliche, but it's pitched perfectly in the show (he's also not quite as cool as he thinks he is). There's also this nice little exchange that came in handy a few times on Gallifrey Base when *that* conversation came up.

    CLYDE: Even your eyes are different. It's weird, cos I thought the eyes would stay the same. Can you change colour or are you always white?
    DOCTOR: I could be anything.

    Funnily enough I never saw the issue about a black doctor. That's not me being 'right on' or anything. Just that as a kid you know you do that thing when you imagine who would make a good doctor? I always thought Don Warrington. There's something really 'Time Lordy' about him. It's that slight otherworldly disdain, like someone on a different level of intelligence mildly teasing us lesser mortals for his own amusement (but ultimately nice). I got that vibe from him with Rigsby in Rising Damp and that's was confirmed in his Red Dwarf appearance. I still hold out hope.

    (I'm good at predicting doctors, I had Sylverster McCoy pegged from when he was the professor on Vision On)

    Of course the obvious choice for the next doctor is Noel Clarke.

    (When we do get a black doctor I want him (or her) to have red hair just so the first post regeneration scene can involve looking in a mirror and saying "About time!")

  21. Oof sorry about the delayed response, after my family left yesterday I ended up going back to bed and paying off a large sleep debt.

    You've really got me interested in the SJA now, you're costing me money lol. After Xmas when I potter round CEX I'll keep an eye out for them on video.

    As for a black Doctor, I've always been behind that idea, though Idris Elba would have been my choice. Boring and obvious I know but I love "The Wire" and he is amazing in it.

    Actually though honestly I'd prefer an Asian Doctor first, maybe because I spent so much time living in Bristol and Manchester's Asian quarters but I think it'd be awesome to have an Indian/Pakistani actor playing the Doctor. I can't think of any actors off the top of my head though.

    An Iranian Doctor might be fun, he could legitimately have red hair and green eyes and it's make the fanboys whine from here to eternity!

    Did you see artist Steve Dillon died? 2016 has SUCKED for awesome people dying off. I'm having a reread of "Preacher" in his memory.

  22. I get kickbacks from CEX :-)

    I know Idris Elba is in the frame for the part but, to me, he doesn't quite have that time lordy vibe. Mind you, i haven't seen too much of his stuff so I'm probably talking out my arse. My choice (if
    FW and NC aren't up for the gig) would be Chitejwel Ejifor. He's a great actor anyway, but I saw him in that Serenity thing and at times it was like he was channeling Don Warrington.

    And speaking of that circle of British actors who had to go to the U.S. to get work, what about the chap who played Adebesi in Oz? He often gets typecast as big scary black dude but I've seen him in some stuff where he's had to opportunity to show of his range of acting and he's really good.

    I think Lenny Henry could cut it too. There's an old sketch from his comedy show where he plays the doctor. It's funny in its own right but you do get the impression he was perhaps angling for the part in real life.

    An whilst it probably wouldn't happen now I'd love to see Gina Yashere if not as the Doctor then at least as a time lord. I want to see someone call the Daleks wankers and tell them just to fuck off.

    But to blow my own trumpet, remember I said I had a knack for spotting time lords? Well I googled Don Warington just to see how old he was (like I say, i still hope). Guess who plays Rassilon in the Big Finsh audios!

    Told you!

    Hmm, an Asian doctor. There's obviously no reason why not, but who? I'll have a think about that. (I think I need to go on one of those courses because I'm now thinking about a character called The Pharmacist. Shame on me. Although I'm also now thinking about emailing the Goodness Gracuous Me team.)

    That's really sad about Steve Dillon. I really liked his stuff, especially on Doctor Who magazine.

    Oh and like I say, no obligations on response time, so no need for apologies. I especially empathise with the sleep part. I'm fantasising about my bed right now.

  23. OMG, someone who has seen Oz! I loved when Channel 4 first showed it even when I had to chase it round the schedules at 0400. I have it all on DVD and did a big marathon rewatch of it only this year. It's my fave HBO drama beating out "The Sopranos" (which I also own) and "The Wire" (ditto). Trouble is I can never persaude anyone to watch it as it's just become known as "that show with loads of prison rape". I've tried selling it as "the show with loads of sexy naked men" but nobody in the family will bite. Feh. Anyway Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was an incredible charismatic villian and left a real hole when he died, you're right, he could make a really imposing Doctor.

    As for Asian's who could play the Doctor, I've always thought Alexander Siddig from DS9 now he has a few years on him would make a great one, there must be more out there fed up with being typecast as terrorists....

    Steve Dillon's loss has hit me quite hard because he was pretty young and also hits the trifecta for me, DWM, 2000AD and then being one of Garth Ennis's regular creative partners on Hellblazer, The Punisher and Preacher. When I am a bit more awake I'm going to reread Preacher in tribute.

  24. I enjoyed OZ. Well the first few series anyway. I think it did start to drift a bit towards the end. But it's hard to maintain that quality of writing for so long without repeating yourself or havering to get more outrageous (Ageing drugs? Really?)

    It was almost Shakespearean at times. I loved the little narrative asides to the audience. It was very well crafted.

    "Prisoner 09011968 Robertshaw, Alan. Waffling with intent. Sentence: 5 years. Up for parole in 3"

    Alexander Siddig is a great actor. He crops up in all sorts of unexpected places. Often he's barely recognisable. Trouble then is you spend 10 minutes going "is that the bloke out of Star Trek?" Then "Oh, did we just miss the bit where they explained what this film was about"

    I think I'll try to dig out that first Abslom Daak story in line somewhere.

    (I'll be honest, guilty secret. I really fancied the Princess)

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. (OK try that again with fewer mistakes lol)

    I did think it dipped a bit after Adebesi was killed at the halfway mark of season 4, season 4 ran to 16 episodes rather than the usual 8 and I think they realised it was better with shorter seasons and the quality picked up again in seasons 5 and 6 (the infamous ageing drugs was part of the second half of season 4).

    I always enjoyed how many of the actors in it played cops in various other TV shows like the Law and Order series. Funny you should say it is Shakespearean. I have described it to people as very "operatic". It's a tough show to boil down to an essence. In someways it's a story of a grand love/hate triangle by the end between Tobias/Chris/Schillenger too.

    I always thought it was amazing that they never went on location apart from the flashbacks to the crimes which meant the focus really was on pure characterisation. Ah such a good show, might have to watch it again now when I am done with "Jessica Jones".

    Ah Abslom Daak, I must admit a need to start collecting the trade paperbacks of the DWM strips as mostly all I can remember of him was he looked really cool and had a chainsword (that I wonder might have influenced the Gears Of War "gun with chainsaw attached") which I just found to be awesome. Details of the actual stories keep getting mashed up with his awful appearance in one of the early New Adventures (where I think he turns out to be a clone anyway), not good.

  27. Heh, don't worry about mistakes. Most of my posts look like a partially decrypted ENIGMA intercept.

    I'll defer to your expertise on exotic weapons, but I'm not convinced a chainsaw would be eminently practical. I've nearly hacked limbs off a few times just using them for their intended jobs, let alone trashing daleks or zombies. They scare the crap out of me.

    There were some great characters in Oz, especially at the start. And some very interesting relationships and character development. I'd never thought of it a love/hate story but yeah, you're quite right. It is very operatic though. I'm sure that's deliberate. I can we'll see the writers sitting with their copies of all the dramatic classics like Faust and Parsifal and saying "ok, let's do this but with more shagging"

    And much as I'm not a big fan of the c word, that rant from tobias to the judge who sentenced him is wondrous.

    I think where Oz suffers now is that it was one of the first 'billions of characters'/'brutal realism'/'no heroes' shows in mainstream. That set the tone for HBO but they set the new standard so it almost looks cliched now.

    Of course, I think HBO should have just stuckk with being the "Hey, Beastmaster's On!" Channel. Love that film

  28. I love the idea behind the GoW "Lancer" gun. How do we make an assault rifle cooler? Just add chainsaw! To be fair the battles are fought at pretty close range and so they do work as bayonets in a pinch as ammo can be tough to find in some areas. But yeah I wouldn't like to try using a chainsaw in real life, there was a CSI episode where some doofus managed to cut his own arm off with one, I couldn't trust myself not to do the same.

    I think what's most notable about Oz is it was the series that really showed that shorter seasons would attract a far higher quality of actor than normal TV series that ran for 20+ episodes (in the US of course, us Brits worked this out ages ago!). Now not just HBO but a lot of other cable series run for around 12 episodes and have stronger casts and tighter writing because of it.

  29. In my roadie days I once got a gig just do do some sound recording work for a tool hire company. They were making a video on how to use the stuff safely. One of the guys told me that the worst thing that cropped up was when someone was late bringing a chainsaw back. That usually meant there was a dismembered body in a field somewhere.

    Bayonets etc are a funny thing. I once wrote a paper for the MOD that featured them peripherally ("their psychological effect far outweighs their utility as a killing tool") but it is amazing how even in an era of drones and cyber attacks battles are still fought with what is effectively an assegai. To be honest, if someone came at me with a chainsaw mounted in an M-16 I'd probably do a runner.

    Yeah, British brevity. So true though. Especially in comedies, but also generally. Quality not quantity eh?

    Right, just going to head home (been stuck in office) but I'll check in later. No obligations to post anything. Maybe just a short 2000 word piece on why K-9 and Leela were the best companions ever.

    (Heh, I've just emailed my friend to say I can't make Halloween and Ive managed to annoy everyone on Mammoth (again) so your blog is probably my only 'safe space' on the internet at the moment :-) )

  30. I like the Gears Of War games because they are based on a sci-fi conflict I find shooters based on modern or WW2 era stuff to feel I dunno.. tasteless. With Gears battle is gritty, dirty and encompasses everything from assault rifles with bladed bayonets to orbital lasers. Rack up the difficulty and play with a friend watching your six and it's damn good fun. I looked at one of the comics set in the same universe ages ago, there have been more comics but I refuse to read them because the writer made up a load of shit that was immediately Jossed out of canon with GoW 3 (it was bullshit about women not serving because they had all been put in rape camps to breed more soldiers, ARGLEBARGLE!!!111).

    Britis Brevity is exactly the trope. Even though for some reason my net won't connect me to Tv Tropes atm which is truly annoying.

    Glad this is a safe space, truly I am too laid back to get into online fights anymore. I generally like WHTM but some people are a bit too spikey and abrasive for my liking. I do enjoy all the kitty pics though.

    I'm replaying Fallout 3 right now. You'll be pleased to know I make a special effort to collect every single "Unique" weapon in the game xD

  31. I completely understand that viewpoint. It resonates a bit with that thing about putting characters in the real world. It's too soon to be using such events as springboards for frivolous entertainment. Real people died in those places within living memory so it seems a bit disrespectful to use them as NPCs.

    Fantasy and Sci fi backdrops are fine though, even I think if they're modelled on historical parallels.

    Im not into computer games myself these days. I enjoyed the classic point and click adventures. They were a great source of group enjoyment.(we'd either get together or all have our own copies and spend all our time on the phone saying "have you sussed how to get the sasquatch costume yet?")

    The last game I played was Beneath a steel sky. After that they seemed to change (and I'd switched to an operating system that you couldn't really play games on anyway)

    Yeah, pity about Mammoth. I do enjoy some of the discussions there. But I get what you mean about spiky. Having said that, the people that I particularly enjoy chatting with have all found me on Facebook anyway (and I'm really glad to have established contact with you, so I might cut the cord. If you can manage tvtropes withdrawal I'm sure I can do without Mammoth.

    I'm really glad you're doing so well in Fallout. Obviously I have no idea what that involves, but I'm glad you're indulging your weapons skills.

    Ugh on the breeding camp idea indeed. Says a lot about attitudes and representation in comics. There ought to be a blog about that :-)

  32. The breeding camp idea was written by a woman too, awful stuff that the makers of the game basically "FUCK NO" to with the third game which had multiple female soldiers serving including one you can play as. Hmm now I am rich (hah) I could pick up the offending comic and have a good rant... yes hmm indeed.

    Fallout 3 is my goto game when I need distractions, I'm sure when I get an Xbox One next year Fallout 4 will be a similar thief of time!

    I'm going through TV Tropes withdrawl and I don't wanna, my computer won't connect to it. Tried different browsers the lot. Hope it's just temporary, I love that site.

  33. I just tried tvtropes on two different devices. Something isn't quite right about it. Initially got diverted to those dodgy spam sites "your device is infected. Hit ok to clean up" sort of thing. It seems to be working normally now but it may be your browsers are/were picking up that the sites been hacked?

    Ironically I've just now used tropes to read up on Fallout. I like that 'transistor punk' idea. I'm a bit intrigued/overwhelmed by this 'open sandbox' thing. I like the idea of just being able to explore at your own pace but because I have no real idea of what modern computers can do in terms of games I can't really comprehend how big those worlds are. I just have no grasp of the scale. You know, I thought monkey island was big, but I suspect things have grown exponentially now.

    It's also a bit funny to me the idea of video games having a 'canon'. I do though like some of the other media offshoots of video games. I wonder how my experience differs because I'm not familiar with the underlying source material. For example I've enjoyed those resident evil films. To me they're a fun 90 minutes of guilty pleasure action flick. But I'm aware that some people who enjoy the games think they're heresy. Same with the Doom movie. Now I am vaguely famialr with doom the game. A mate was really into it. (And I'd played the Wolfenstein precursor). I know they changed the premise a lot in the film but I still quite liked it. And I did sort of internally cheer when that shooting spree that looked like the game came on.

    Now I've just reminded myself that there's a film shot entirely like that. Apparently it's not very good but I liked the trailer so I'll have to check out out sometime. Was called 'hardcore' originally but think they might have changed that.

    And yeah, I'd like to see you review that comic. You know my thing about combative women. Hmm, one day I'd like to do something about all those women and fighting tropes. You know like waif-fu and fighting in heels. Examine the practicalities. There's a rather interesting thing (don't know how to classify it. Art project/photoshoot/article?) where there's a lass doing krav in haute cuture. Kicking ass in givency sort of thing.

    Yeah, There's definitely something to be written there. How plausible are those fighting scenes.

    (You won't be surprised to know that my view is women are just as capable as blokes and all that 'she wouldn't be able to do that in real life' applies equally. Generally films that have impossible skills for women have them for the men too.)

    I can see it now "Sucker Punch: How flashing your pants evolved in combat"

  34. I don't know why I can't connect to TV Tropes, it just times the connection out. I was going to try it from my mum's place today, but got distracted and forgot.

    Sandbox games are brills, they'll have a skeleton of a story to follow, but basically once you've done the tutorial bits the game will let go of your hand, pat you on the bum and say "off yah go, have fun exploring!". Bethesda who are responsible for the current Fallout series also do the sword and sorcery based "The Elder Scrolls" games which are some insanely huge I don't know what witchery allows them to have it all on one dvd. Fallout 3 is my fave though, I have replayed it so many times and racked up hundreds of hours making and levelling up new characters and still I'll come across things I have never seen before. Can't wait to play Fallout 4 now. The premise behind Fallout is culurally the USA stagnated in the fifties, so as you roam through the radiation blasted twilight with your faithful pet dog, the radio plays "The Inkspots", Cole Porter, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald amongst other gorgeous old choons.

    I might review that Gears comic now, whats so UTTERLY stupid was that it was supposed to "explain" the lack of female controllable characters, even though you friggin' commadning officer was a woman. When they very pointedly added playable women in game three, the comic was quietly prodded out of canon. Also in Gears of War all the human characters wear power armour which pretty much levels the playing field. The women are no weaker than the men anyway.

    You may laugh but one Japanese fighting game I have actually has one of the girls with a special move that involves flashing her knickers. The Japanese are shameless, heh.

  35. a haunted tank, lmao! if they ever put etrigan in a dcu film or tv show they should have the haunted tank as well :D

    Fallout 4 is amazing, you won't need another game to play for ages when you finally get it :)

  36. I'd love to see a proper CGI Etrigan done like this version, all spikes and sinew. DC need to do a Zatanna film I think with all the magic characters in it like Etrigan, The Phantom Stranger, The Spectre, John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Doctor Fate and so on. Be more interesting than Batman for the millionth billitionth time.