Thursday, 28 December 2017

Grandville: Force Majeure

I was very pleased to get this, the last book in the Grandville series, for Christmas - and my Young Man had also managed to get me a signed copy, from Forbidden Planet.
This is a graphic novel series about a badger who is an Inspector at Scotland Yard - the characters are all anthropomorphic animals, like Rupert the Bear, or the Blacksad graphic novels. It's also rather Steampunk in design, with steam carriages and Victorian-style costuming. And big guns.
My Young Man had very carefully read up to the anti-spoiler wrapper around the last 50 pages (so browsers couldn't flick to the back to see how the story ended), so he was very keen to find out what happened next. I had restrained myself when the parcel arrived, until Christmas morning.
I settled down in a comfy chair, with a bottle of good beer (Wiper and True Plum Pudding, since it was Christmas), and took my time over the book, savouring every panel. There are lots of jokes and puns hidden in the background, including characters from old British comics. The book is dedicated to Les Baxendale, comic artist, and Bryan Talbot has used some of his old characters, like Korky the Cat.
There's plenty of room in this book to tell a more complex story - it's twice the length of the previous Grandville books - so we get LeBrock's backstory as he tells Billie about his mentor at Scotland Yard (a thinly disguised Sherlock Holmes) and some of the cases they worked on together, as well as how he rose through the ranks to be an Inspector despite his working class background.
And on top of that, another part of LeBrock's past is catching up with him and Billie, in the shape of crime boss Tiberius Koenig, who is out for revenge for what LeBrock did to his brother in a previous story.
And then there's an Italian badger called Tasso, fresh off the ship from a long voyage....
This will be the last of the Grandville books - they're very time consuming to produce (the art work is gorgeous), and it wraps up all the loose ends from previous stories very nicely.
And now I'm going to binge read all five of them again.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

The Shannara Chronicles - end of the season

Okay, so the fairly subtle hints of a previous age of technology on the world of Shannara turned into a fully fledged ruined city and a civilisation probably destroyed by nuclear war - presumably the races of elves, gnomes, trolls etc. began as mutated humans.
And our heroes stumble upon a place called Utopia, where humans are preserving what they can of ancient technology, such as the ability to produce electricity. The scene where they showed film clips of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was hilarious! Of course, any place like that, seemingly so perfect on the surface, must be hiding a Dark Secret.... (I was reminded of that vacation planet at the beginning of the original Battlestar Galactica, for instance).
On the whole, the series was fun, with a twist I wasn't expecting at the end, and with a few loose ends left should they ever want to do a second season.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The Shannara Chronicles

I paused in my epic rewatch of the Avengers - there's only so much early 1960s TV I can take in one go - to have a look at the Shannara Chronicles series that my Young Man brought down for me to watch.
I'd heard that it was being made, but I never really got into the books, so was only mildly interested to hear that a TV series was being made.
So far, I'm quite enjoying it. It helps that two of the older characters are played by really good actors - John Rhys-Davies is the Elven King, and Manu Bennett (who was Slade Wilson in Arrow) is the Druid.
The younger characters are quite fun - there's a scene by a river where Wil (last of the Shannara family, so nominally the hero of the series) is about to go swimming, so strips off to reveal his manly chest (in fact, he reveals his manly chest quite a lot as the series goes on). Noticing the Elven princess watching him, he says: "Hey, what happened to 'eyes up here'?"
However, I'm now at about the mid-point of the series, and the Elven princess has almost been raped twice (once by the leader of the Reivers, who we're supposed to be rooting for later on) - rescued both times before it gets too 18-rated (though the box set is rated 15, with "strong violence, injury detail, sex").
Several of the characters seem to have met with Certain Death in the last episode I watched - so it'll be interesting to see which of them survive to complete the quest (which is to do with getting the seed of a magical tree to a certain place before the old tree dies and releases an army of demons onto the world).
The world of Shannara Chronicles is a bit more interesting than I remember from the books, as well - there are relics of a technological past in the background all over the place - an old fridge when Wil dives into the river, an ancient truck, a children's playground in the woods. So I'm assuming that this is a post-apocalypse world, which also explains the poison gas area they run into at one point.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

My New Christmas Fairy!

Here's Emmeline, my new suffragette Christmas fairy, who will be sharing the place of honour with my little Christmas policeman, who I bought in Harrods in the 1980s (he's looking pretty good for his age, I think) and for a while was the "fairy" on the top of the Christmas tree at the Metropolitan Police Reference Library in New Scotland Yard.
The suffragette came in a little pack from the Amnesty International Christmas Catalogue, and I just couldn't resist her. Also in the pack are sheets of paper in green, purple, and white with slogans, to make up an old fashioned paperchain (I fastened them together with a stapler) and a sheet of 6 cardboard baubles to cut out. The slogans include "Shoulder to Shoulder" and "Sister Suffragette" as well as "Jolly Holiday" and "Peace on Earth", and the baubles have words like "Equality", "Rebel" and "Sorority". I coloured her in with the suffragette colours of purple and green, with silver stars and a gold hat (since it does look a little like a halo).