Halloween is just upon us and what better way to celebrate than by honoring Batman’s frightful rouge’s gallery. One could certainly make the case that Batman has the best villains of any superhero. Think of how many you could name off the top of your head if you’re an average fan. Now think of how many you could name if you were slightly more hardcore.

Now try to name as many Daredevil villains… Not to bash or diminish Daredevil in any way. Just an example of how deep Batman’s rouge gallery goes.  Here’s a quick peek at some of my favorite stories for some of The Dark Knight’s most formidable adversaries.

Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot


He’s come a long way from his campy beginnings. Often dismissed in the past as one of Batman’s more ” nonthreatening” foes by many. That’s not really the case anymore. At a certain point Penguin took a turn as a more sinister and brutal villain. Sometimes portrayed as an intellectual mobster and other times as a misunderstood monster. All of which work well with the character. Like many of Batman’s villain’s, he’s almost sympathetic. Perhaps a victim of cruelty in a cruel world. An obvious parallel to Batman himself. Did Penguin turn out this way because he is inherently evil or did society make him so? Currently, Penguin plays one of the central antagonists on “Gotham”. For some great Penguin stories check out these recommendations.

Joker’s Asylum: Penguin ( one shot) By: Jason Arron & Jason Pearson



This is my personal favorite Penguin story of all time and it’s only a single issue! Written by fan FAvorite Jason Aaron during a time when he was still a relative newbie to the comic scene. To me, it perfectly encapsulates everything he’s about. He’s portrayed as a respected man who holds a great deal of power, and yet he still remains insecure about his appearance. This leads to a very important lesson for a few in this story… Don’t embarrass the Penguin. Both parts chilling and heartbreaking. Sort of like Tony Soprano without the imposing physical stature.


Other recommended readings include…

  • Batman Annual # 11  by Max Allan Collins & Norm Breyfogle

  • Penguin: Pain & Prejudice 1 – 5  by Gregg Hurwitz & Szymon Kudranski

  • Secret Origins Special # 1 by Alan Grant, penciled and inked by Sam Kieth

Two-Face/ Harvey Dent


If you like your villains with pathos, look no further than Two-Face. Harvey Dent is another classic Batman villain that succumbed to the evil and temptation of the outside world. Gotham’s favorite son that lost everything and crossed a line he never thought he would. The character has had a number of interesting portrayal’s. The Dark Knight film treated him more as a good man pushed to insanity. The accident that scars his face is simply the last straw. Some comics, and even Batman T.A.S. play on the fact that Harvey had always had a violent multiple personality and that the accident simply brought it out permanently. There have been a number of tweaks here or there in Two-Face’s history. One such case happens to be my favorite Two-Face story of all time.

Batman Annual# 14 – Eye Of The Beholder by Andrew Helfer & Chris Sprouse


An excellent story that delves deep into Harvey Dent’s tortured past. It manages to bring a different idea to what made Harvey Dent become Two-Face. The multiple personality angle is there, but this time we learn the reason when and why it began. Parts of this story inspired the famous Long Halloween comic series. We find out that Harvey’s father was quite abusive to him in his childhood. The psychological ramifications of that abuse come out in full force throughout this story. The edgy and dark artwork by veteran Chris Sprouse really adds to the already fantastic script. A risky story for DC to put out back then but a keeper for sure.

Other recommended readings include…

  • Batman: Faces by Matt Wagner

  • Gotham Central #6- #10 : Half A Life by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark

  • Batman: Black & White – Two Of A Kind by Bruce Timm

  • Two-Face ( One Shot) Crime & Punishment by J.M. DeMatteis & Scott McDaniel


Ra’s Al Ghul



Translated to English, his name means the demon’s head. One of Batman’s most powerful enemies by a long shot. His reach extends throughout the globe with an army of assassins behind him. It doesn’t help that, thanks to his Lazarus pits, he is immortal.  A complex villain that seeks to help humanity by destroying it first. An idealist of an extreme sort. Throw in a romance between Talia( Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter) & Batman and you get just how complex Ra’s Al Ghul can get. Ra’s has always been a fan favorite for Bat fans but his stock rose to new levels thanks to The Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. He’s even manged to transcend the Bat-world to make it on the TV show Arrow.  Here are some of my picks for his best stories.


Batman: Death & The Maidens 1 – 9 by Greg Rucka & Klaus Janson



A fantastic story written by one of my favorites: Greg Rucka. It shows just how far Ra’s Al Ghul has gone and is willing to go for his mission. The story also speaks to the importance family. Particularly for Batman. In a rather interesting twist of fate, Ra’s asks Batman for help against a mysterious woman, hellbent on killing him. What would Batman get in return for his assistance? How about a chance for Batman to speak one more time with his dead parents? An offer that may well tempt the dark knight. It’s a delight to read an to look at. Penciled and inked by the underrated Klaus Janson.


Other recommended readings include…

  • Batman: Birth Of The Demon by Dennis O’Neil & Norm Breyfogle

  • Batman: The Saga OF Ra’s Al Ghul 1- 4 by Dennis O’Neil & Neil Adams

  • Son Of The Demon by Mike W. Barr & Jerry Bingham

  • Trinity by Matt Wagner


Riddler/ Edward Nigma



Easily one of Batman’s most recognizable villains, from a pop culture standpoint. He has a great look to him and an intriguing shtick. Of course, said shtick can and did get tiresome by the late seventies. Batman Forver didn’t exactly help his cause either. Since then, he’s now been reinvented and reinvigorated, thanks to the New 52 reboot in 2012.  Personally my favorite portrayal would have to be ” Batman T.A.S.  Edward Nigma was portrayed as a man who was smarter than everyone who should be at the top. His quest to prove that at all costs led to some, criminal dealings of sorts. These dealings eventually always lead him to Batman. Time and again, Riddler is defeated by the only man smarter than him. Of course , The Riddler refuses to accept this and therefore, does his best to outwit the DArk Knight. That’s the general take on him that I loved on the Animated TV show. Nevertheless, there are some great reads out there.

Batman; Zero Year # 21- 27 & #29-33 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo



Scott Snyder has been making his mark on Batman and his world. no character more than the Riddler. Jeph Loeb’s Hush did a good job at showing why never to underestimate The Riddleer. Snyder went a step further and made him extremely formidable. The Zero year story was a remarkably fresh take on Batman’s origin. It boldly gave Riddler real relevance by making him one of his first major villains. The whole story unfolds in epic fashion and Riddler is deservingly at the forefront of it.  He’s written mucher colder than I can ever remember. Just different enough to be interesting but also familiar enough not to offend.


Other Recommended stories include…

  • Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee

  • Batman: Dark Knight Dark City by Peter Milligan & Kieron Dwyer

  • Riddler ( One Shot) The Riddle Factory by Matt Wagner & Dave Taylor

  • Batman: Run Riddler Run by Gerard Jones & Mark Badger

Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!

Chapter V – Transmission Received

The marine was fighting his way across a city block, Imps and Hell Knights attacked from the centre of a three-way intersection, Cacodemons floated above. He confidently marched towards them, neatly dodging their projectile attacks. Ka-Boom. The Imp’s spiked arm was blown off at the elbow, after dodging a blob of plasma he fired his twin barrelled shotgun into the face of one of the Hell Knights, it went down with a thud. The Lost Souls screeched toward him and the cacodemons descended, he ducked as they swooped in and he shattered several with a single shot from the shotgun. The marine turned and kicked another Imp in the chest, sending it crashing into rubble. The furious Hell Knights roared and stomped toward him, he continued firing, the bloated Cacodemons were sent reeling under the force of the marines attack. He popped the cap on an HE grenade and ran to the other side of the block. He tossed the grenade in a wide arc toward the remaining Hell Knights. They roared and tried to swat the bomb away but was instantly consumed in a large implosion of unstable plasma. He had made his way to safety when a call came over his radio unit. The frantic call came from an Army Commander, Naomi Thompson, she was leading a group of survivors. They found an ultra frequency transmitter in an abandoned military vehicle from which they managed the call. They were in need of evacuation, the marine explained that he was close by a spaceport terminal. Thompson asked him to take her high security command codes and use them to access the largest ship he could find there. He agreed to make the rescue.

The marine made his way to a service station where he found an unlocked mack-truck with the keys on the seat, a couple of the power chargers were still working. He charged the plasma cells. A couple of former humans stumbled out of the station’s store and staggered weakly toward the marine. He casually shot one and ignored the other, he hung up the nozzle and walked over to the cabin of the truck. The former human, following behind, it slammed into the trucks door just as the marine pulled it shut, fell over as the truck rolled away. It tried to get up but was struck by the trucks tire, its head was crushed under the wheel. He sped off in the truck toward the spaceport, crushing demons as he went.

Kronos was in his office reading the report from the recent accident. Despite his eccentricities, he respected Dr. White and hoped the situation would resolve itself. The test chamber was still being sterilized from the last experiment. He continued to read the stream of reports from across the colony, the usual stuff like advancements to the plasma cells, bio-force energy units and the slow accumulation of information about the aliens and the ancient Mars Civilization. He was reading an article about a recently discovered artifact, though not as impressive as the relics that have already been found, it was still endlessly fascinating. The computer voice interrupted.
“Test chamber alpha is ready to resume testing, doctor” it said.
He touched the holographic symbol for program Charlie and fed new orders into the chain of command within the simulation. The test subject was lounging in the stations cafeteria, enjoying a simulated soda. The stations P.A. System issued the orders for the marine to report to the hangar bay. He tossed out the soda can and made his way to the monorail. The Doctor watched as he boarded the train and then left the office. He traveled the spotless hallway and stepped into the room.
“Status?” Kronos asked.
“Simulation will terminate in approximately one hundred and seventy-six seconds, subject’s condition is well within testing parameters” Dr Campbell said.

Dr. Mason was busy monitoring the containment field generators for the tiniest chink in it’s armour. Despite recent accidents, Kronos trusted Mason. The floor panels parted and another capsule ascended, it opened revealing another space marine in the same white reflective armour. The hardware detached from the test subject and slipped under the floor.
“Thirty seconds, sir” Campbell says.
The lead researcher watched Dr. Campbell’s terminal from behind.
“Fifteen… ten seconds… three, two, one”
The marine promptly came to life and began casually walking through the replica.
“Another excellent transfer, Doctor” said Kronos dryly.
Campbell, smiling, nodded his thanks. Kronos stood with a straight posture as he stared down at the test subject.
“Mason, localize level two portal traffic” Kronos says casually. Mason turned and smiled devilishly as he acknowledged, punching in the sequence without looking at his terminal. The test subject was much like the one previously experimented on, just a bit more experienced in combat.

The teleport energy danced through the air, the symbols drew themselves on the floor and whispering was heard before several Imps teleported into the room. Swiftly, the marine drew his pistol and began firing into their skulls. He stepped to the right dropping one demon at a time with precise aim. The marine inched toward the security locker, demons continued to appear from thin air. He roundhouse kicked a large-jawed demon and it collapsed to the floor. Still firing, he passed his suits ID chip over the lockers scanning pad; The locker recognized his ID and swiftly opened with a quiet whoosh.

The smoking pistol fell to the ground, he grabbed the plasma rifle. He spun and shot a diagonal line of plasma into the bodies of close-by Imps, he fired again and then rolled for cover, more monsters appeared from the green portals. He held the trigger and let a flood of plasma burn them to a crisp. Smoke was building within the replica. A Hell Knight appeared and roared fiercely, the marine shot its big head to ashes. More Imps appeared, tossing fireballs. Another Hell Knight appeared and got caught in the cross-fire of Imp fireballs. The enraged Hell Knight threw green energy at the Imps, one of them caught the green energy in the chest, it grotesquely melted on impact. The marine was blasting monsters from the rapidly opening portals, the Hell Knight grabbed a large-jawed demon and tore it’s head off and hurled toward the marine, he shot it out of the air.

“Decrease rate of fire by twenty-five percent” said Kronos. The marine was behind a column of cables, reloading the rifle. He popped out to make a quick attack, the rifle sputtered slower fire. “What the…?” The marine cried. He continued burning Imps and Demons but they drew closer with the slight advantage. The marine delivered another kick to an Imp, it fell to the ground as he continued firing plasma in wide arcs. Smoke fogged up the hangar from the demons plasma-burnt flesh.
“Decrease space by thirty percent” ordered Kronos. Mason nodded and entered the command into his terminal. Within the replica hangar, steel sheets slammed into the floor from the ceiling, blocking off portions of the area.
“Holy Jesus” the marine cried.
“Level four” commanded Kronos. The portals began opening with more frequency, Cacodemons suddenly appeared, spitting balls of lightning. As the marine jumped out of the way, the aliens inched closer. He emptied the rest of the rifles magazine, burning the Cacodemon to smoking chunks, then spun wildly and punched an Imp and round housed a demon. He went to change his magazine, but a demon sank it’s teeth into the marine’s upper left arm and tore it off.

The demon gnawed the detached member savagely. The marine screamed, the shock forced him to squeeze the trigger, sending streams of plasma harmlessly into the walls. His wound sprayed blood, painting the hangar in red. A fireball hit him in the visor. A Cacodemon hovered silently from behind and bit off the marine’s head. His neck splashed blood as he sank to his knees and collapsed, a big red puddle of blood spilled onto the floor. The aliens feasted on his disgraced remains. The gruesome noises echoed through the replica.

I’ve been reading Mr. Larson for a while now & the one thing I have to state is that I’m really glad I haven’t given up on him.  Some of his earlier books were a bit hard to get through and while they had elements that were interesting they didn’t necessarily live up to the promise – this was probably most evident in Swarm (reviewed here) as it started out so well, but just got gradually more and more annoying and tiresome.  The Undying Mercenaries series though seems to be a showing of his true potential and as long as he doesn’t flog a dead horse past its expiration date, I have really high hopes for it!

In a similar vein to the Legion series’ of books – Book 1 Marine Cadet (by Tim C Taylor) reviewed here – Earth has been contacted by the “Galactics” and given an ultimatum if they want to stay alive.  In Legion, Earth had to give up millions of its own children to become fodder in the Galactics wars and battles.  Here it’s slightly different.  Every planet has to provide at least one trade good that is unique to their world, something that cannot be copied or stolen by another world in that sector.  The solution to this request was similar … Earth was going to be supplying mercenaries.  Soldiers that the other planets could use in their own internal struggles at a price.

Sad as it is, the theme seems to be fairly constant amongst SciFi authors that one of the things Humans do best is fight.  This is something I remember reading for decades in books like The Man Kzin Wars and others of a similar vein.  While I’d like to believe that we can offer more, I can understand this assumption, especially if we are the ones being contacted!  One would rightly assume that the people doing the contacting have more available to them in terms of technology and knowledge than we do! However, I think you’d agree that humanity as a group being only suitable for soldiers is somewhat depressing!

Anyways, with the above being said, this is actually a very engaging and enjoyable story.  Similar to pulp SciFi it still has a hard and gritty realism to it that is quite enthralling.  Jame McGill is our primary protagonist although there are quite a few other characters that you’ll grow to know throughout the book also – Carlos, Natasha, Graves and Harris to name but a few – and unlike other series of a similar nature, you really can invest yourself in these characters as Humanity made a very smart purchase with its initial fund of Galactic Credits.  See the reason this series is called – Undying Mercenaries – is because they initially purchased a machine that can literally recreate a copy of someone.  These are not clones but are rather new bodies with all of the memories and abilities of the originals.  Restricted (by Galactic Law) to a single copy at a time, the mercenaries are able to constantly replenish their forces and while they may at times get wiped out, they tend to never lose!

Overall the weapons and technology at play in this series are believable and realistic and make sense.  While the Galactic Empire possess faster that light travel, that is written more as a “black box” without too much detail of wormholes or anything of the like.  Guns are guns and armor is armor.  The biggest technological marvel at play in the book is the ability of the mercenaries to return from the dead and that is given just the right amount of detail.

Steel World tells the story of James’ first missions as a mercenary and his acceptance into Legion Varus.  Exposed to a planet ruled by Dinosaurs is nothing if not intimidating and it was really refreshing to see that “modern” technology was not automatically superior to mass.  While the eventual outcome was never really in doubt, some of the twists and turns along the way were quite interesting and really well written.  You could almost feel the Dino’s rushing the wall in preparation of a new tasty mercenary snack! As the story progresses you can definitely see James grow into a more interesting character and change from a callow youth into a man.  While he’s still a bit of a womanizer, it’s obvious that he actually cares about the people he’s around and tries to always do the best he can for them.

This season is all about the two parters and continuations and this episode is no exception.  Continuing on from the less than excellent Under the Lake, we’ve got part two – Before the Flood.  Now this one has some definite elements that are quite interesting.  Ones that absolutely make you think, and perhaps the first is the Doctor’s own discourse at the start of the episode when he talks about the “Bootstrap Paradox“, however that’s not the only thing that’s cool with this one – you also get … The Fisher King.  An awesome new villain that they definitely spent some budget $’s on (unlike the pretty pathetic space-ship truth be told) he is absolutely chilling and malevolent and a character that not only knows about Time Lords, but one that seemingly scoffs at their power and prestige.  You can’t really ask for more in terms of an enemy!

Lets talk a bit about the Bootstrap Paradox in the Doctor’s own words shall we?

The Doctor: So there’s this man, he has a time machine. Up and down history he goes, zip, zip, zip, zip, zip, getting into scrapes. Another thing he has is a a passion for the works of Ludwig van Beethoven. And one day he thinks, ‘What’s the point of a time machine if you don’t get to meet your heroes?’ So off he goes to 18th century Germany, but he can’t find Beethoven anywhere. No one’s heard of him. Not even his family have any idea who the time traveller is talking about. Beethoven literally doesn’t exist. This didn’t happen by the way. I’ve met Beethoven. Nice chap, very intense

[holds up a bust of Beethoven and strikes a similar expression]

The Doctor: Loved an arm wrestle. No, this is called the ‘bootstrap paradox‘. Google it. The time traveller panics. He can’t bear the thought of a world without the music of beethoven. Luckily he brought all of his Beethoven sheet music for Lugwig to sign. So he copies out all the concertos and the symphonies, and he gets them published. He becomes Beethoven. And history continues with barely a feather ruffled. But my question is this – who put those notes and phrases together? Who really composed Beethoven’s 5th?

[plays the first notes of Beethoven’s 5th on his electric guitar]

See this has always been the problem with the Doctor.  His own influence and knowledge of history has had him making changes to it many times – sometimes in small and subtle ways (Vincent and the Doctor) and at others in more significant ways (The Shakespeare Code).  While there have been so-called “fixed points in time” that he can supposedly NOT influence, many times this been nothing more than a talking point and not really reality so I’m very glad to see him address it here himself. It’s actually really quite refreshing!

The story itself picks up right where we left off the last episode with Clara trapped in the underwater base by the ghost of the Doctor and the Doctor himself now back in time at the same site, but before it was flooded.  He needs to find out where the ship came from and where its crew are and also who put the message in the ship that causes the dead to come back.

However when he initially explores the ship – the message isn’t there.  It seems he’s arrived before it was placed and while there was another very interesting conversation with O’Donnell that gave us some more interesting titbits to the future of this season –

O’Donnell: What year are we in?

The Doctor: [checking the wind direction] 1980.

O’Donnell: So, pre-Harold Saxton, pre-the Minister of War, pre-the moon exploding and a big bat coming out.

The Doctor: The Minister of War?

O’Donnell: Yeah…

The Doctor: [cutting her off] No. Never mind, I expect I’ll find out soon enough.

We still don’t know who or what placed the message in the ship.  We do however find out fairly quickly who the first ghost we saw is.  The Tivolians are a race that has been conquered.  Conquered in fact so many times that they now take pride in this status!  I hope I don’t cause any conflict but I suspect they are similar to the Polish people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries here as their land was at a strategic crossroad and needed to be invaded.  Now while that might have made sense on Earth – I don’t necessarily understand the same argument in Space, but putting that aside, the first ghost was the Undertaker, a being that has taken the last rulers of the planet to a desolate corner of the galaxy (Earth) for burial.

When confronted by the Doctor and his companions for this episode, much hilarity ensues (some of it I must admit quite forced!) but there are some good scenes.  We learn however that the occupant of the vessel – supposedly deceased – is called the Fisher King and while he was brought here for burial, he’s perhaps not as dead as he’s led everyone to believe.  The truth in fact is significantly more evil – the Fisher King it seems is able to use the electromagnetic signals of the dead to revive himself and his people.  By creating a host of “ghosts” through the message he carves into the side of the ship, he plans for the long term and an eventual return.

The Fisher King – I can’t really speak any more highly of this character than I have already.  They are not your typical villains from Doctor Who by any means.  They seem to know who they are and what they are capable of to a very great degree and if there is one thing you know … its that they hate the Time Lords!

Time Lords… cowardly, vain curators who suddenly remembered they had teeth and became the most war-like race in the galaxy.

His short time on screen and his confrontation with the Doctor is quite interesting for what it reveals about the larger Universe’s view of the Time Lords, or at least what the Fisher King’s view is. Interestingly, the Fisher King can tell immediately that the Doctor is a Time Lord, and the contempt in which he holds the Doctor’s people and the Doctor himself is palpable, and of course that’s only to be expected, as the Time War’s effects reached far beyond Gallifrey and the Daleks. One wonders the reaction when Gallifrey truly does return, and one suspects it will be far worse than we have been shown so far.  The Fisher King himself however is only on screen for a very short time and while the conversation between him and the Doctor isn’t at the same level as the one between the Doctor and Davros it is still quite excellent.  Tricked by the Doctor fairly easily, the group is not unscathed as he has managed to remove O’Donnell from the equation.

Meanwhile in the Doctor’s own future, Clara, Lunn and Cass are struggling to survive when O’Donnell’s own ghost comes onto the scene also and releases the other ghosts that had previously been trapped.  Now this in all honesty is somewhat confusing … I can understand that they are portraying it in a linear fashion – i.e. her ghost can’t exist until she dies in the past, but considering that the Undertaker’s ghost was present when we initially saw him, it doesn’t really work.  You can’t have one part of the story work linearly and another part not.  I think this should have been done differently to be honest – perhaps in some ways like Interstellar where the timelines were literally all mixed up – as this definitely didn’t work for me.

However cleverly the Doctor had realized that even though there was a threat of him dying (his ghost) he had an out and he programmed a hologram to look/act like his ghost.  This hologram was able to trap the remaining ghosts within the faraday chamber again and now that the Doctor knew what had happened and why he was able to ensure that they were properly destroyed (by UNIT) without endangering the Earth

As some may or may not know, Frank Miller’s Dark Knight trilogy comes to an end in Dark Knight 3: The master Race. a number of artists will be providing variant covers for the first issue due out in November. One of those artists is British legend, Brian Bolland. I thought, why not honor a legendary artist who may have fallen  by the wayside in the last few years.  Here is his most recent cover for said Batman story.

If you study at his art, you’ll notice that he has an incredible amount of subtle detail. His line work and his inking are nearly perfect. Some might say, too perfect. Almost machine like.

Regardless, every piece that he does is dynamic and meticulously thought out.  He can make any cover pop. So much so , that he’s, pretty much made a career out of doing exclusively covers. I would hazard to say that he is one of the best comic book cover artists of all time.I don’t think he’s done any interior work since Batman: Black & White.

Of course he wasn’t always an exclusive cover artist. He made a name for himself quickly while working on 2000 A.D.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Brian Bolland an number of years ago.  He was kind enough to sign a few comics I brought in at no charge. The real treat was getting to see him draw. He was doing a commission for another fan. Bolland himself  has said that a big reason he doesn’t take many interior projects is due to his ” slowness”. Having seen him in action, I can see why. As I said before, he’s meticulous and certainly a perfectionist. As we know, perfection takes time. But the end result is always a sight to behold. Here are a few projects to look into if you’re curios to see Brian Bolland at his best.

Judge Dredd – The Judge Death saga and others.


I think Bolland really made a name for himself working on the popular Judge Dredd strip. His realistic take became( for me) the definitive look for the character. When I think of Dredd’s face, I think of Brian Bolland’s version. His trademark scowl and large chin done to perfection. Bolland also helped to create Judge Death. Dredd’s ultimate nemesis. Track down these stories and take them in. The originals are a bit of a search but the stories themselves have been reprinted numerous times. I’ll never forget this classic panel below.


Animal Man

The above cover is one of my favorites of his lengthy run. While he didn’t do any of the actual interior work on the title, he did do a whopping 63 covers on it. This certainly elevated a character many considered “lame” at the time. His realism added a feeling of importance to the character that made it difficult for any reader to, at least, pick up the comic and take a look.  Being on the title as long as he was also gave the series a constant look and standard. Having Grant Morrison writing the title for a number of years didn’t hurt either.

Camelot 3000


Another risk was working on the ambitious Camelot 3000. This is notable because it’s the longest run of interior work Bolland’s ever done. I think this is where Bolland really thought twice about doing interior work. Particularly on a monthly series because deadlines were not his specialty. It was a moderate failure at the time. Not in any part due to Bolland’s artwork but more toward a subpar story line. Not terrible, but not excellent either. I’d say this is a must have for Bolland completionists.

Batman: The Killing Joke


A Batman comic that needs no introduction to Bat-fans. Arguably the definitive Joker story of all time. This is Brian Bollands best work ever in my opinion. Brian Bolland was actually the one that pushed Alan Moore and DC to make this story happened. After months of hounding him, Alan Moore finally relented and delivered a fantastic script. Brian Bolland ran with it and gave art worthy of that script and more.

Every panel is like a cover to be studied. There are countless moments and images in this comic that have become iconic. The cover itself is an example of that. In typical Bolland fashioned, he took his time, but the reward is plain for all to see. It’s controversy as a story, has grown over the years, but the art still shines through regardless. In terms of the comic book medium,  it’s definitely one of the most referenced stories of all time.  Even the Dark knight film did an homage to this classic sequence.


Not exactly the same but when you watch the scene, you’ll know. I urge you to track down some of his work and enjoy for yourselves!

This review was one that I wasn’t actually planning on doing, as I’ll be honest, I didn’t think that the book was worth it.  This impression lasted for probably the first quarter to almost half of the book unfortunately as it seemed to be such an effort.  I’m actually really not to sure why this was, as the early chapters introduced a galaxy spanning conspiracy that would have normally captured my attention quite quickly.  For Renegade, though it just didn’t seem to work though and it really felt like I was plodding through it without any enjoyment and I have to admit that more than once I planned on giving it up as a lost cause.

Fortunately for me I didn’t!  The pace of the book and the overall story itself picked up dramatically in the latter half of the book with the characters themselves being a lot more engaging and interesting.  While I’m pleased to say that this book stayed away from the normal caricatures that I’ve seen (and reported on) in other books, they were still dull and uninteresting in the early pages.  When they started to take on a life of their own though – they really started to shine and while the two key characters (LC Eric Debogande & Major Trace Thakur) definitely owned the latter half of the book, quite a few of the supporting characters made a definite impact on me also.

Quick Summary

Without going into too much detail, Earth was destroyed by another species and humanity itself was on the brink of extinction.  While there were only a tenth of us left though, another species came to our aid and helped us to rebuild and recover.  After Humanity took their revenge on the species that attacked and destroyed Earth (not covered in this book) – removing them from the cosmos – we had access to all of their planets and were no longer at risk of extinction.  However the patrons of that species were still around so Humanity along with their benefactors and yet another species attacked them and after 150 years of war (again not covered) managed to defeat them too.  This is where the book actually starts – at the end of a massive war and with Humanity seemingly on the verge of peace.  However – not everything is as as it seems!

Humanity itself is divided into two distinct factions – the Spacers and the Worlders.  The Worlders are the ones that provide the bulk of the workforce and drive the economy but they are generally focused inward on the planet that they live on. The Spacers – about 10% of the population – are the fighters and manage and run the Navy.  While they have a much smaller population they own the orbitals and the common feeling is that if the Worlders were in charge, then Humanity would have lost the war as they wouldn’t have focused on what is happening outside their own planetary body.  The Spacers decide overall policy but with the end of the Triumverate war, many people are expecting some significant changes to happen.

It is into this politically focused conflict, that the book delves.  While there are elements of combat, they occur primarily in the latter half of the book (the part I enjoyed) and the earlier parts of the book are focused more on the search for answers.  In some cases answers to questions we didn’t even know we were asking ourselves!  One key question though is why was the Captain of the most famous battle carrier in Humanities fleet – Captain Pantillo – court-martialed and then killed before he was even brought to trial and why was LC Eric Debogande framed for this murder?!


I think I’ve mentioned it a couple of times now, but the biggest negative for me was the story they didn’t tell and the overall pace of the book.  Some of the battles that could have been covered would have been excellent to read as the ship to ship combat when it did occur in this book was just awesome.  The hand-to-hand combat too was extremely well done and I almost wish that this book was number 4 or 5 in a series as by that point we’d have covered Humanities return to the stars and their battles and this exploration of a more internal – civil – matter could have occurred.

The writing style itself I can’t really fault.  It wasn’t too technical and while Jump Drives are more of a black box than anything else, the other weaponry on the ships was covered really well.  Marine technology is understandable and reasonable & I particularly liked the Hack Saws – rogue AIs that all species in the Galaxy attack on site.

I’d definitely be interested in seeing where this series goes in the future and I really hope that now they’ve kicked off the action the pace keeps up as I’d really be disappointed if things slowed down again.

Chapter IV – Former Humans

Dr. White and a colleague walked down a corridor, the sound of their footfalls echoed off the walls.
“Skip simulations when you recalibrate the plasma stream, theres a 3.1 variance in T-wave frequency and when you get back to your lab make sure you review the new drivers for the containment field generators” the senior level researcher explains.
“I understand” said White knowingly as he stared down at his data sheet.
“I know that the proton-flux array has been functioning exceptionally but theres a few more parameters you need to familiarize yourself with. I’ll be waiting for your report” said White’s superior as he turned a corner and walked away.

White continued along to a set of doors with an input panel in the wall, he looked into a slot and his retina was scanned for authorization, the doors then slid open. The lab was a large room dominated by a huge arrangement of black metal plating. After he consulted his terminal for a while he activated a command that made the metal plating move apart, revealing an intricate array of sensors with an artifact in the centre, the soul-sphere. The scanning equipment came to life and radiated a dull purple energy and made a pulsating, humming sound. The sphere was blue with swirling white energy that streaked across its surface, occasionally a ghostly face would emerge from the churning orb. It’s something thought to have been left over from the lost civilization on Mars, found in the lower chambers of a stone temple on the surface of the red planet. The awesome power of the scanning array had yet to reveal its ancient purpose, but progress was being made. The scanning radiation shut down and the terminal displayed the results of the scan.

Dr. White sighed as he looked at the perplexing data, he still had no idea how the artifact was made or why and the data he received seemed more convoluted each time he tried a different scanning technique. He had been brought in on the project after several other researchers had the same issues. He uploaded the data to the projects computer files and then wrote and sent his report to Central. They wont be impressed with it but it was thorough enough to save him from any serious hot water. He placed the soul sphere back in its shielded containment and headed back to his lab.

He ran into his colleague once again along his way.
“Any luck with the artifact?” he was asked.
“I don’t think so, I’m going to send a specialist to realign the array again” said White.
“Don’t worry, we’ll crack this one soon enough”
“I haven’t run out of ideas yet, sir” said White.
“Good man, I’ll talk to you again after the next cycle”
They parted ways and White returned to his lab. His lab was quiet, he walked over to the containment cell. He touched a panel and examined a readout of the cells energy field emitters, he made a minute adjustment to the emitters and then opened another program. The former humans shook their heads wildly as they fought against their bonds.
“Mortal”! They cried at him, despite the nature of one-way mirrored glass. White did his best to ignore their taunts.
“I smell fear…” they said in a hollow tone, their pupils were pure red and as large as could be.

The doctor guided a mechanical arm that was fitted with several sterilized syringes. He extracted blood samples from each of the subjects, their constant thrashing always made the process more messy than necessary. He carefully guided the syringes into their arms and extracted the sample.

“You die” they said, thrashing in increasing intensity, fiercely they tore at the straitjackets, the metal arms holding them in place rocked harmlessly. Dr. White enjoyed a quiet laugh at their expense.

The Doctor activated a taser in the metal arms holding the former humans, he tried to get them under control but only served to further agitate them. The straitjackets tore loose one at a time in great rips, they then grabbed the mechanical arms attached to collars around their necks. “Die!” it roared, as it tore the mechanical arm from its fixture.
The enraged former humans were soon both free and beating on the window with their fists, screaming and drooling. They balled their fists, lifted their heads and roared defiantly. Dr. White was still chuckling at them while he regarded a data sheet, he stopped laughing when he saw the green dancing energy inside the cell. He hit a near-by emergency button.
“Emergency, containment field failure” said the station computer as a green flash shot out, blinding the researcher.

He stumbled backward, shielding his eyes with his arm as large-jawed demons appeared inside the cell. They paced the cell briefly, then more monsters teleported into the cramped room. The force of rapidly opening portals tore the demons to dripping, bloody pieces, splattering the walls and briefly sloshed against the hydrophobic glass. Chaos soon ensued within the cell, new portals opening each second and spewed blood and limbs soup. The chaos grew and the structure began to fail. The glow of rapidly appearing portals and blood surged in rising intensity, the structure began to resemble an inflating balloon. Just before it reached its breaking point, a Hell Baron appeared inside and caused the failing structure to burst violently. Dr. White was shielded inside a reinforced capsule when the cell exploded sending metal and body parts flying into the lab.The portals continued to open sporadically as the baron and imps attacked the capsule.

In the hallway beyond, a team of space-marines were running to the laboratory. They stopped at the secured doors and the squad leader tapped a near-by security panel, he punched in a couple quick commands to begin sterilization procedures.
“Procedure initiated… Conditional alarm, sterilization reservoir is currently twenty five percent below required level for full cycle” came the voice of the station computer. A holo-terminal displayed the interior of the lab, the aliens roared frantically as they sank into the acid that was being flooded into the room. More portals continued to open, while many Cacodemons and lost souls floated in the air safe from the pools of acid. The squad leader activated a pair of turrets in the lab, they sprang to life and began firing at the airborne monsters. He waited until the turrets began taking damage and ordered his men to take aim at the laboratory’s doors. He opened the doors.

“Fire!” he cried and the marines sprayed the doorway with glowing plasma, the Cacodemons were focused on the turrets and were taken by surprise and fell to the ground with half of its bloated body burned off, others had holes burned right through them. The Lost Souls and Cacodemon began amassing in front of the small doorway. The squad leader’s BFG 9000 was already charging when he ordered the team to hold fire, half a second after they stopped the BFG round traveled straight through the door and exploded against the mob of demons.
“Roll!” he ordered, and barrels of explosive chemicals were rolled down the hall, the leader held the doors open as they rolled through. “Flood team! Go!” he called. A group of workers in environment suits stormed into the lab and began flooding the area with DESO-radiation.

Sorry for the delay on these – been a busy time!

Right lets get started, shall we?  I’m not too sure what it is with the Doctor and monsters related to water – I mean it’s almost like he’s TRYING to scare us isn’t it! 🙂  Let’s be honest – this episode and its partner while not as frightening as the David Tennant helmed Waters of Mars was still enough to send my kids scurrying upstairs leaving me all alone in the dark.  However the ghosts were not what they seemed so without further ado – lets get into the recap.

When the Doctor and Clara bland on yet another seemingly deserted station they don’t really realize that they are trapped underwater. Exploring they come across a derelict and seemingly far advanced spaceship which has some strange writing on the inside that the TARDIS translation engine is unable to read. After the Doctor and Clara both look at it – and it seemingly gets imprinted on their eyes – they continue their investigations of the station. Almost immediately they come across a ghost – something that the Doctor does not believe should exist. When they find the remainder of the crew they explain that the ghost is actually their old commander who was killed, seemingly randomly by the derelict spaceship while they were investigating it.

The Doctor – as mentioned previously – refuses to believe in the existence of the ghost stating that in all of his travels he has never yet come across such entities however as more and more facts seemingly lineup he is forced to agree with this despite his earlier arguments to the contrary. Realizing that the only way they can stay alive is by trapping the ghosts they come up with a plan to get them into a faraday cage where they will be unable to escape.

Managing to trap the ghosts the Doctor and Clara get separated when the emergency protocols activate on the station flooding the hallways with seawater to shutdown an overheating reactor. The Doctor realizes the only way he can figure out what is really going on, is to travel back in time to when the ship itself was discovered Before the Flood (see what I did there?)

Telling Clara that he will come back for her, the Doctor departs in the TARDIS however shortly thereafter Clara sees a new ghost floating outside the window – this time it’s the Doctor.


Not one of the best episodes I’ll be honest.  There were some elements that were interesting but the ship itself was just too cardboard and didn’t have any realism. While I know that Doctor Who is not necessarily about the special-effects they generally seem to at least make an effort and in this case I felt that they hadn’t bothered.

Clara herself however seems to really be making an effort perhaps too large of a one has she seems to be setting herself up for failure. While I know that Clara is leaving the way she’s been acting almost makes me wish she was gone already as more and more it seems that the Doctor is her companion versus the other way around. While Clara has never been my favorite companion, I’ve not actively disliked one and unfortunately that is very much the way I’m starting to feel about her now.  I know – I’m probably just setting myself up here as I’m sure that they’re writing her this way for a specific reason and she’ll turn out to be some god or something that has to sacrifice herself to save the universe, but right now … I don’t like her!

The ghost themselves are interesting I guess, and having them able to manipulate physical objects was a nice twist and something that I was not initially expecting. The timing of this episode was extra good in terms of real life events of course as it was only recently reported that water had been discovered on Mars which tied back to the excellent Waters of Mars episode and had a good correlation to this one.

Chapter III – Questionable Ethics

Within the simulation was the quiet halls of the science station. The researchers and security personnel went about their business, most were artificially intelligent software. The test subjects that were in stasis blended in with the A.I. security force flawlessly. A voice came over the public address system that ordered a member of Marine Security to the hangar bay. He handed over his station and took the monorail to his assigned post, Mars hung ominously in the sky. From the outside world, Kronos watched his movements. After a while he dimmed his terminal and left his office to return to the testing area. As Kronos entered the lab, Dr. Mason looked over at him. “Sterilization process is complete, sir”, he said. “We have been authorized to begin level five testing, check your terminals for instruction” Kronos commands.

On the other side of the base another researcher, Dr. White, studied the recently possessed humans. The specimens were caged inside a small reinforced cell that was situated at a secluded side of the lab. The doctor was busy with a gruesome surgery of a still live former human. It was strapped to an operating table with its flesh splayed open and pinned. The doctor used a long instrument to blast glowing radiation on the apparent mutations. The subject screamed wildly as it fought against the restraints. The doctor eventually aborted the subject by throwing it into a disposal unit and quietly went about writing his report. He walked over to the cell and activated a terminal. The former humans were strapped in stray jackets and secured by metal arms fastened to the back wall. Dr. White smiled pleasantly as one of the subjects was shoved into an adjacent chamber to be prepped for examination. The possessed human was sterilized and fitted onto a cart, wearing a reflective straitjacket. Another specimen was neatly lifted into the the cell, the mechanical arms shifted along their track to accept another in the chain. The doctor wheeled the former human to an Automated Surgical Station and placed the subject inside. Mechanical arms cut away part it’s scalp and was fitted with neural implants to partially control its brain functions during the procedure, the subjects were known to be immune to all attempts to render them unconscious.

Marine Security monitored most of the experiments that occurred on the colony from bulky cameras placed in the corners of the labs. Most of the time when an accident occurs the marines can contain the threat with conventional UAC weaponry and bombard the area with DESO-radiation to stop the portals from appearing, in the few times when something goes wrong, Administration will self-destruct the entire facility from the comfort of their headquarters.

Elsewhere a Facility housed the only teleporter on site. Master Corporal Revok watched over a steady deployment of the colony’s dwindling population through it in a last ditch effort to claim ground in their inter-dimensional war. Five man teams were sent through at a time, it was all the UAC technology could handle. They were wearing environment suits and large packs, wielding plasma rifles and BFG 9000s. They approached the massive energy coils of the teleporter and the hardware came to life with a mighty flash of pulsating light. The “volunteers” were swallowed up by the magnificent light. The campaign was a lost cause, but the UAC officials always had ways of drumming up the last of the human race for xeno-missions.

Back in Kronos’ lab they were ready to start the next round of tests. Kronos and the other scientists were at their terminals, he entered the final command in the sequence. A set of panels, flush with the floor, slid apart and a coffin-sized capsule rose up from beneath. Thick hoses snapped off it as it opened and vented steam revealing the space-marine. He was outfitted in standard, white mega-armor with reflective patches. He was suspended from the capsule and he was placed, standing in the room. The capsule disappeared under the closing floor panels. The monorail in the simulation arrived at its station and the marine approached the large air-lock door of the hangar bay, he scanned the panel with the ID chip in his armor. ‘Klang-Wrrrrrr’, The door loudly slid upward and the marine stepped inside.

“Bring him out, Doctor” Kronos said to Campbell. Dr Campbell began a complicated cybernetic procedure to lower the intensity of the sensory input from the simulated environment and matched it with the perspective from the marine in the room while monitoring his brain-wave patterns for signs of pre-cognition. The marine made his transition without any notice at all, Kronos was monitoring Campbell’s terminal.
“Another flawless ejection, Doctor” he said. Campbell, clearly exerted from the task, bowed minutely in acknowledgment.

The hangar bay was perfectly silent. A set of two wide windows had a view of an adjoining part of the building as well as rocks, craters and Mars huge in the sky. There were four central columns in the central area, to the left was a staircase leading to a viewing tower flanked by two columns that supports the wired conduits for electronic commands, the interconnected system was spread through the many structures of the science station. In front of him was a short hall, leading to the door to the Aerospace Control Centre. Beyond that was a path stretching over hazard pits of chemical waste, which led to a non-functional airlock door to the shuttles. Just to his side was a glass security locker containing a plasma rifle and power-cell magazines. Kronos stood silently, arms at his back watching the puzzled marine walk about the replica. He turned to Mason, his face was that of stone, his glasses brightly reflected the light of the room.
“Open a level two, doctor” he commanded.
“Yes, sir” Mason hissed. He dramatically manipulated his terminal, then swung his chair around and stood to see the experiment commence. The marine was walking slowly toward the security cabinet. His ears perked up as a sudden vibration filled the room, strange whispering followed. “Whats going on?” he shouts, then before his eyes ribbons of energy danced in the air above the glowing symbol of pentagrams.

A green flash shot throughout the room. He was gripped in fear as Imps and large jawed demons appeared in all corners of the area, hissing and snarling in anger. The aliens looked upon him and attacked. The Imps threw their fireballs, he ran and dove behind a column. He drew his pistol and fired on the monstrous aliens. His hands were trembling as he emptied the magazine. The Imps dodged some of the shots, the ones that were hit continued to attack, barely fazed. He frowned and looked down at his firearm, then looked over at the security locker. Monsters were that way, too. He marched toward it, shooting furiously. He heard a gruesome sound, he turned his head and saw a hell knight stomping closer, fury burned in its eyes.

The Knight stopped and clawed at the air and the marine felt his mind being touched. In the secure observation room an alert notification came from Dr. Campbell’s terminal, the subjects brain-scans were showing disturbing signs.
“Subject exhibiting initial signs of neural intrusion” he said, unenthusiastically.
The marine stopped at the locker, turned to fire point blank into two Imps, splattering brains and blood all over his armour and the walls. He held his ID chip to the sensor plate and the locker slid open, he frantically grabbed for the the rifle, the armours magnetic belt-pack handled the task of stocking the magazines. He swung around and fired blobs of plasma at the nearby Imps, a demon flanked him and closed it’s jaws on his left arm, the marine blasted its head to ashes. The marine went running across the room, the hell Knight made another psychic attack against the marine, groping the air in a seductive, yet frightening fashion as it roared deeply.

The marine looked over at the Hell Knight as he went to level his eyes on the sights of the rifle. The hell Knight’s hypnotizing gestures captivated the marine. His head jerked back and forth, then fell to one knee, shaking. Campbell’s terminal registered the symptoms of alien possession, the Doctor frowned inwardly as he looked down at the data. He said nothing as he continued to watch with his colleagues. There was no need stating the obvious, the disturbing affliction was easily recognizable. The Imps and Demons continued to appear from green portals, they attacked the recently possessed human. It weakly handled the plasma rifle and fired at the hoards, striking the hell Knight, who became agitated. The former human turned a few more demons to smoking chunks before the stomping hell knight approached it and grabbed it by the back of its head. The former human’s head cracked in the alien’s grip. It screamed in a high pitch. The hell knight tore off its head, then an arm and a leg. They broke off with sickening, wet-sounding snaps, sending blood splashing into the air, painting the room. The hell knight roared in defiance, locking it’s eyes with those of the UAC researchers. It threw the mangled torso of the test subject at the observation room windows. The researchers were unmoved as they watched the experiment reach its bloody conclusion. The torso slid slowly down the hydrophobic glass, fell to the floor and was noisily eaten by the demons below. The lead researcher stood motionless watching the slaughter.
“Sterilize” he said as he continued to watch.

OK, bit of a mixed bag this week as the impressive season opener did not really carry through in my opinion into week two.  While there was still quite a bit going on in this episode, the team was somewhat fractured dealing with all of the different responsibilities and goals that they needed to address. The first and perhaps most important was a straight continuation from last weeks attack on the Monolith by Fitz. Stopped by the rest of the group just before the Monolith decides to try and eat him, they realize that wherever it has taken Simmons, it has not just destroyed her as there is some dust left on Fitz’s face from a different planet. Coulson realizing that there is now some hope of recovering her has everyone get on deck to solve the problem of her disappearance.

Invoking the assistance of the Asgardian we’ve seen earlier – Dr. Randolph – who has been around for thousands of years and does not want to be sent back to Asgard. As such he has hunted high and low for all portals and should have information that they could use.  Once they find him, they determine that the Monolith was at one point in an English castle. It seems that over the ages people have discovered and analyzed this monolith to try and determine how it works and what it does and over the course of centuries some scientists have managed to create a way to activate the Monolith on demand (which in my opinion is quite impressive for individuals from the Renaissance/Medieval era!).

Fitz realizes immediately what they’ve discovered and they have Mac bring the Monolith to them so that they can try to rescue Simmons. Utilizing the tech from the middle ages Daisy (I’m going to have trouble with this name change and while I realize and can understand her justification for doing it and even applaud her for embracing her past, I’ve gotten used to Skye and I know her.  Daisy – well she’s still a bit of an unknown to me and someone I’m not as comfortable with) is able to open the Monolith by vibrating it at a certain frequency, although this obviously causes her quite a bit of pain.  While their initial intent is to send a probe through to see if they can find any sign of Simmons, Fitz decides to take the bull by the horns and leaps through the portal onto the  surface of another planet and in the middle of what looks to be a vicious sandstorm.  Struggling through the vicious storm, Fitz manages to locate Simmons and while at times he looks like he will lose his grip on her, they are able to make it back through the portal before it is destroyed due to the interference and effects of Daisy’s powers.  Yay!!!  Fitz and Simmons are back together!!

Now it must be stated that this is idiotic and while I understand that Fitz would do anything for Simmons he’d also check and see if there was breathable atmosphere wouldn’t he?!  He is a (brilliant) scientist & while he might be (is) still a bit messed up because of what Ward did, and while I’d agree and admit he’s conflicted, I didn’t like this at all!  I suspect the sandstorm/windstorm that he was subjected to on the other side was due to the portal being kept open and it effects on the local environment, but I would have expected to see some blowback on the Earth side of that gate which didn’t occur.

While all all of this is going on we finally have the reappearance of Ward and Hydra. Ward has transformed the organization into one that is significantly more violent and deadly than anything we have seen before and the members of this resurgent force seem willing to risk and do anything for his pleasure and approval. When he takes his forces and captures a playboy dilettante off of a yacht in the Mediterranean for the stated intention of obtaining his funds, it seems a little bit Micky Mouse, but this playboy is absolutely not what he seems.  As the son of the previous leader of Hydra, he’s not afraid of getting his hands dirty himself and quickly defeats Wards designated lieutenant – exactly as Ward had intended.  Ward wanted to see what he was made off and whether or not he would work with him in restoring Hydra and he’s gotten the answer he was looking for.

So as mentioned stuff has happened however we haven’t seen the reappearance of Lash – seemingly unstoppable based on what we saw last week or the team that Coulson was tangling with.  There is a very brief mention of secret warriors by May’s husband in a seemingly off the cuff remark and with all the other rumours out there, this is bound to come to fruition fairly soon.  May herself makes a very brief appearance as the perfect daughter which by itself is almost enough to make you shake your head in disbelief!

Simmons, even though she has now returned I’m sure there has to be some impact of her travels on the other side of the Monolith (PTSD is I’m sure the smallest part of it and it would be quite interesting to see her transform in some way also due to her exposure or something like that).  In all honesty the whole destruction of the Monolith itself was somewhat anti-climactic as it didn’t really do anything. Well I’m glad to see Ward back on our screens I’m actually starting to get a little bit frightened of him as he always seems to be multiple steps ahead of everyone else and this capability could lead to him becoming something quite horrifying in the future. May and Hunter are going to try and hunt him down, but the Ward that we’re seeing now – well my prediction is that, he’s not someone they will have an easy time with!