Showing posts with label Tony Lee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tony Lee. Show all posts

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Messenger: The Legend of Joan of Arc by Tony Lee, Sam Hart

Rating: WARTY!

This was a very disappointing graphic novel which I got from my wonderful local library about the woman the French know as La Pucelle d'Orléans. I think a woman like Jeanne d'Arc deserves a better memorial than this one because, deluded as she was, she did make her mark on history. This novel doesn't. It basically tells the same tale as everyone else does, so what's the point? The illustrations are indifferent and there was really nothing there to inspire me, which is sad given that Jeanne was said to have inspired an army to win a war!

Rising from an obscure childhood to become and legend and now, one of the nine secondary saints of France is quite an achievement, although it took five hundred years, all told. The problem is that the authors don't offer anything other than what you can read in Wikipedia - which for all I know might well be where they took their 'plot'. But apart from purely fictional and very trite conversations, they offer nothing more - just a by-rote, pedantic retelling of the facts, including several information dumps and much folklore unverified as fact.

I'll give just one example of how pathetic the invented dialog is. At one point the English drop a rock on Jeanne's head. She's in process of storming their castle when it happens. This evidently was a real event and she survived it. I suspect the real rock was a lot smaller than the one depicted in this novel, but in this story, evidently rather peeved, she says, "They throw stones at a girl? Show them what you think of that! To arms!" which is as pathetic as you can get and makes her look like a moron.

She's dressed as a soldier. She has short hair and she's waging war on the English dressed as a regular male warrior, and now she thinks she should be entitled to special treatment because she's a girl? I'm sorry but that line alone makes this novel total trash. The writer should be ashamed of himself for even thinking of writing it. I seriously doubt the real Jeanne said anything like that.

Michael, who is a Jewish archangel who supposedly communicates with her, is depicted as a long-haired muscular blond with white wings! In short, not a Judaic angel, but more like a Norse god named Thor. Pathetic. For this reason and others, this story doesn't seem organic. It doesn't seem life-like. It's more like reading a history book than ever it is a work which gives us the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate a living, thriving person exhibiting bravery you can rarely find in modern YA stories, and offering inspiration, and adventure.

That said it would be hard to repeat her story in any age (or in these days nation) other than one bogged down in religious strait-jackets and blind belief in ridiculous fairy tales. Only in such a world could someone so totally fool others in to believing they had a direct line to a god!

This would have made a much better tale had it been explored with a new light - that of a young deluded girl being elevated by men into a figure of inspiration when it served them, and discarding her callously when she was no longer of use, but that tale has yet to be told in this format, to my knowledge. I think this version cruelly under-serves her.

Another approach would have been to have shown how useless God is: in that he cannot do a thing for himself, always having to rely on mere mortal, weak humans to do his work for him, and then failing them repeatedly. I mean, is he an all-powerful god or merely another insane being no better than the Devil, whispering things in people's ears to make them do his absurd and contradictory bidding purely for his own entertainment?

I'm not a believer at all, but let's just pretend there is a god who for reasons unknown, wishes half a century later to reverse Agincourt, where the English soundly beat the French on their home turf, and who now wants the French to beat the English on that same turf. There's actually a whole other story right there about a schizophrenic god who doesn't know what he wants, but I don't want to pursue that here.

Set aside any quibbles about why this god even cares who owns France, when he's always been the "God of Israel," not anywhere else, and then not even the God of all of Israel, but a mountain god - a god of the hill tribes. Instead let's pretend he actually cares. If it's that important, then why pick an obscure girl from nowheresville? Why not pick the pope?

Better yet, why not do his dirty work himself, and de-materialize the English army? Instead, we're expected to believe that this purportedly all-powerful god cannot do the job and is forced to pick an illiterate and highly superstitious child, and force her to try and change history before abandoning her to misery and suffering. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and in effect means that this god murdered that child.

And for what? The war did not end with her. France did not become whole immediately because of her. Indeed, even after it became whole, it later fell to the English after Napoleon's depredations. Where was this god then? Where was his messenger then? France again fell to the Nazis, and in the worst way. Where was this god then? Where was the messenger then? What was the point? Why only one messenger in a suspiciously superstitious and ignorant time and then no more? Does this god not take a long view?! Or is the real story not that he's so petty and short-sighted, but that there really is no god other than what we sad and ignorant humans invent to delude ourselves with, and to satisfy our own petty needs of the moment?

It makes even less sense that he would then allow his savior to be burned, but he does have a history of throwing his Messiahs to the wolves, doesn't he? Even if he is real, he's not a god I want anything to do with. There's a far better story to be told about Jeanne than ever we've been given by those blinkered people who merely retell the historical plot points without any feeling or heart and add nothing new in the telling. I can't recommend this one at all.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Doctor Who The Forgotten by Tony Lee

Rating: WORTHY!

Pia Guerra, Nick Roche, and Kelly Yates's art work was good here, except in trying to depict the seventh Doctor, who looked nothing like him! The framework for this is the tenth Doctor (David Ten-nant in the TV show) traveling with Martha Jones (Freema Agyemon) to a museum which seems to be aimed at The Doctor and no one and nothing else. The Doctor suddenly loses his memory and so we get a chance to enjoy a short story with each of the Doctor's incarnations in turn and in order, beginning with William Hartnell's first Doctor back in 1963. The first two incarnations are even depicted in gray-scale since their shows were transmitted in black and white. This story can only be done in this way (in print or in anime) now that so many of the original characters have grown old and died in many cases.

As the tenth Doctor tries to recover his memory, Martha brings to him in turn the walking stick from the first Doctor, and the descant recorder from the second Doctor (Patrick Troughton). In Hartnell's adventure, he's in ancient Egypt with his original companions, Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill), Susan Foreman, his granddaughter (Carole Ann Ford), and Ian Chesterton (William Russell). Two of those four are no longer alive. The Doctor and his group manage to escape captivity when pharaoh Menkaure is attacked - an assassination attempt thwarted by the Doctor's walking stick!

Troughton appears with his companions Jamie McCrimmon (Fraser Hines, the only male companion not to wear trousers...), and Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury) fighting against the sentient snakes on a space station (evidently). The third Doctor is triggered by a set of car keys, and appears with his companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning, the only companion to appear nude with a Dalek to my knowledge!), and with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney). He also gets to ride Bessie once more (that's not what you might think!) as they flee dog-people riding mechanical spiders!

The fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) arrives with the scent of Jelly Babies, and appears with a time lord companion Romana (Lalla Ward), who he married in real life. She's now married to Richard Dawkins. Their (that is the Doctor and Romana's) quest is to escape the labyrinth - of tunnels under Paris. The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) arrives with Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding), and Vislor Turlough (Mark Strickson) and is triggered by not by celery, but by a cricket ball which he use it in a subtle sleight-of-hand to ward off the Judoon. The sixth (Colin Baker - no relation) is depicted rescuing Perpugilliam "Peri" Brown (Nicola Bryant who arrive on the show wearing less than Amy Pond was!) form a murder charge by employing his unexpected expertise in exotic firearms.

The seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) appears with companion Dorothy Gale McShane, aka "Ace" (Sophie Aldred), on another war-torn planet where some irresponsible Time Lord has given a virus to one side to use on the other. The Doctor corrects this by administering a restorative hidden in his brolly, which the tenth doctor makes use of to recover from a weak spell.

Held in prison, the eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) can hardly appear with his only companion Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook) so we get to see him with Chan-Tir, no doubt in some way related to Chan-Tho of the Utopia episode. They escape and bring the Doctor to his previous incarnation (Christopher Eccleston) and his companion Rose (Billie Piper). To defeat his own evil self, however, inexplicably requires all ten Doctors. Finally, he gets to hug his granddaughter Susan.

Despite a few flaws, this was a great retrospective and visitation with all ten doctors (minus the so-called war Doctor), and a lovely bit of nostaglia. I recommend it.

Doctor Who Vol 3 Final Sacrifice by Various Authors

Rating: WORTHY!

There were several stories in this one volume. Old Friend and Final sacrifice were written by Tony Lee with art by Matthew Dow Smith. Ground Control was by Jonathan L Davis with art by Kelly Yates. The Big Blue Box was by Matthew Dow Smith, and To Sleep Perchance to Scream was by Al Davison.

Old Friend

This is (combined with the separately titled part two) the longest story by far and occupies most of this graphic novel. It begins with The Doctor and his purely-in-print companion visiting a dying man in a retirement home. From there we quickly end-up several solar systems away with some Victorian adventurers, on a devastated planet fighting a bloody war between two factions, neither of whom knows when to give up. The planet, it turns out, was supposed to be terraformed, but the war has been going on so long that no one has a clue where they came from or how things got to be where they were. It's very reminiscent of the tenth Doctor and Martha's adventure in the TV ep. The Doctor's Daughter.

Final sacrifice

Is part two of Old Friend.

Ground Control

If you've ever been chased by a giant panda militia, you'll know exactly what's going on here, but that's just the introduction. The real problem comes when the Doctor is effectively pulled over by a speed cop and given the third degree.

The Big Blue Box

Borrows from Victory of the Daleks wherein the Daleks have left a robot human in London which they plan on detonating but which fails. This story doesn't involve Daleks, but otherwise is pretty much the same idea.

To Sleep Perchance to Scream

What does the Doctor dream about when he finally sleeps, and who helps him out when he has a bad dream?

I liked this in general. It wasn't spectacular, but parts of it were really good. I wasn't too keen on the sexism exhibited by The Doctor when he snidely remarks about a man and a woman:"I just knew them as the 'annoying woman'...and the one in the dress". Later he repeats this kind of insult referring to 'screaming like a girl". That aside this was, on balance, a worthy read.