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The English Assassin

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Posts posted by The English Assassin

  1. I've always like the notion, borrowed from Tim Powers' Last Call, that John's magic powers, such as they are, are gifted or charged-up by his acting in a way that conforms with the Fool/Trickster archetype.


    There is, of course, bugger all to support this idea, but it always struck me as a neat and fairly literate device for explaining magic stuff in a fictional setting.

  2. Ooh, this is a fun idea:


    William Hartnell: Best -The Dalek Invasion of Earth / Worst - The Web Planet

    Patrick Troughton: The Mind Robber / The Krotons

    Jon Pertwee: The Daemons / The Monster of Peladon

    Tom Baker: Pyramids of Mars / Logopolis

    Peter Davison: The Caves of Androzani / Resurrection of the Daleks

    Colin Baker: Revelation of the Daleks / All of his other stories, but in particular Attack of the Cybermen

    Sylvester McCoy: Ghost Light / Paradise Towers

    Christopher Eccleston: The Empty Child + The Doctor Dances / Aliens Of London + World War III

    David Tennant: Human Nature + The Family of Blood / Love and Monsters


    It is, I cannot help but feel, highly significant that I found it a struggle to confine myself to a single favourite story from Jon Pertwee's and Tom Baker's eras, and likewise difficult to pick out just one worst story from Peter Davison's, Colin Baker's or Sylv's.

  3. Rich the Punk got my vote because he actually hurt a superb run in Jenkins.

    Manor was just more of a big pile of shit on top of your giant pile of shit.

    That's quite a fair point, though I'm of the opinion that the Manor storyline (Ashes and Dust in the City of Angles) managed to drag Azzarello's run further into the mire of nonsensical pish than it was to begin with. Rich the Punk, on the other hand, though he was irritating enough to spoil parts of Jenkins' run for me (and is often a focus for criticism of said run), might have been less annoying had he appeared less frequently and to more purpose. He's not, for instance, quite so profoundly irritating in Critical Mass, where he at least serves a bit of a dramatic purpose, as he is in the several stories he spends following John around looking stupid.

  4. Even in a field as strong as this, S.W. Manor succeeds in standing out. Not only did he fulfil no discernible dramatic purpose, I never even worked out what Azz was trying to achieve with him. Even the First (for whom I retain an inexplicable fondness, despite his nigh-unforgivable dim-wittedness) and Papa Midnite were written well at times (i.e. by Carey and Delano respectively), and served a narrative purpose. Manor, however, managed (like Azz's run, in my not-so-humble opinion) to be pointlessly cack from start to finish.


    And no, I didn't like Nigel much either. Defend Ennis as I might, crassly one-dimensional supporting characters (see also Header) remain the element of his Hellblazer run (and, indeed, his style in general) that most disappointed me.

  5. Regarding the First of the Fallen, I've got the impression that much of the dislike expressed towards the character originated in the fact that he wasn't half as cool or interesting as Neil Gaiman's Lucifer. I've always felt that that was to some extent Ennis' intention; he wanted to present an inversion of the suave Mephistophelian archetype of the devil in the same way Alan Moore had with that of the urbane, educated magician. That could, of course, just be wishful thinking on my part, and Garth may have just thought the devil should be a simplistic thug in a loud shirt. At least he didn't make him Oirish.

  6. I'm not much of a Star Wars buff, but, having read a friend's copies, I'd repeat the recommendation for Republic. Not only is it fairly literate by Star Wars' standards, but, in the characters of Masters Vos and Tholme, features Jedi far cooler than those who actually appeared in the films.

  7. But he's Africa in the Americas! You racist.
    I'm not sure whether that remark was made in jest or not. I feel my credentials as an angsty liberal have been well-enough established for me to be able to criticize a black character for being the protagonist of a nonsensically crappy mini-series, thank you very much. I thought that Header, who was never portrayed as anything other than an unapologetically violent thug, was a crappy character too, but that doesn't mean I hate the Scots.


    Speaking of stereotypes, can I nominate Biker Frank, for looking rather more like a member of the Village People than the Hell's Angel he was meant to be? And no, I don't hate gays. Or Hell's Angels. Or people called Frank. I just think the way the character was drawn looks rather daft and dated, and fails to convey what Alan Moore had in mind. Unless, of course, he really wanted Rob Halford to be one of John's mates.

  8. Like Rak, I never understood the antipathy expressed towards The Kindly Ones at the time. I only began reading the Sandman about half-way through the series, but it was only after the first few issues of The Kindly Ones that I really began to appreciate how good The Sandman actually was, not merely for being a clever, literate comic book, but as a compelling and involving narrative in its own right. Mark is, however, right to point out that it doesn't stand on its own in the way most of the other volumes do. Perhaps I should have picked The Wake instead.


    As for the short stories, I find it very hard to come to a definite opinion. They're probably the elements of the series I enjoyed the least at the time, but I can't help but feel the series as a whole would have been the poorer without them.

  9. It's so hard to pick just one favourite, but it's got to be the Kindly Ones, narrowly ahead of Season of Mists and The Wake.


    For my least favourite, I feel obliged to pick the rather directionless Preludes and Nocturnes. The book still has quite a few good moments, but it's a bit trite in places, the art and colouring have aged badly, and it's painfully obvious that Gaiman was still developing his style (and Sandman's) as he was writing it.

  10. I'd never even noticed that before! The lorry's not very authentically British either, is it? Back in the days of Ridgeway or Dillon it would have been an Eddie Stobart. At least the steering wheel was on the right side of the cab anyway.


    I shall have to be more attentive in the future.

  11. ... when I say continuity I am mostly bothered by cars on the wrong side of the road and London geography that belongs in Disney's Mary Poppins.)

    For the benefit of the unobservant, which issues were you thinking of there?

  12. It's the same or worse here in the UK, Christian. History in secondary schools doesn't involve much more than studying world wars one and two over and over again. I took two degrees in the subect and I'm still embarssed by my lack of knowledge of anything outside the periods I've studied in detail.


    I certainly couldn't name Britain's first four prime ministers, in fact I struggled to think of four in the whole of the eighteenth century (Walpole, Lord North and both Pitts).

  13. I wonder whether it wil be set in Chas' rather grim present or in his more light-hearted past. If it's to be about his gaining the aforesaid "knowledge", I presume the latter.


    Is "Sandman Presents" still a going concern? I don't recall having seen any Sandman spin-offs in the last year or so.

  14. They did a whole sequence of one-shots under the Vertigo Visions label: The Stranger, Dr. Fate, Dr. Thirteen, Prez, The Geek, possibly some others. They were mostly worth reading, though I'm unsure quite what Vertigo were aiming to do with them; none of them led on to series, so far as I'm aware.


    I would not take it upon myself to denigrate your powers of observation, Lou, but Vertigo's Deadman has just reached #12.

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