Outcast: 'A Darkness Surrounds Him' Review

Robert Kirkman's latest show gets off to a flawed start.

Confirmed: John Boyega to Star in 'Pacific Rim 2'

Boyega joins the sequel hot off the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Box Office: Ninja Turtles 2 Suffers in Anti-Sequel Summer

TMNT 2 is the latest sequel to bring in some disappointing numbers.

Review: Eye in the Sky

Gavin Hood's military drama is an impressive achievement.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Better Call Saul: Episode 1 "Uno" Review - A Rocky Start?

I recently finished watching the first episode of Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul on Netflix, and I find myself with mixed feelings. On the one hand parts of the show seemed to show that the Vince Gilligan magic that made the original show such a smash-hit is still burning brightly, but on the other I couldn't help but feel that this show seems like an inferior and somewhat unnecessary addition to the Breaking Bad mythology.

At it's core, Better Call Saul is a very different show to Breaking Bad and so perhaps it's unfair to compare the two - but that's what I'm doing, so get over it. The first episode of Breaking Bad set up a plot that left you on the edge of your seat, introduced us to a large group of characters that were all interesting in their own ways, and even told a relatively self-contained story in the process. In this sense, Better Call Saul is the vastly inferior show. To start with, after watching the pilot episode it feels like the plot of this show is really all over the place. While the beating heart of Breaking Bad was a relatively simple story - of a desperate man getting involved in crime, and the effect that has on his loved ones - here it feels like there's simply too many moving parts. The show sees Saul teach some local youths how to scam people, attempt to win some dodgy legal cases, take care of his sick brother and also explores Saul's life after the events of Breaking Bad. That is too many plot threads!

The effect this has is that it takes a very long time for this episode to gain any momentum or sense of direction. As a result, I would argue that the first half an hour of this show is actually pretty bland and dull with the final twenty minutes serving as a saving grace and providing a great hook for the next episode. These final twenty minutes are where the show really lives up to it's potential - why? Because it's focused on one plot thread. In the last twenty minutes of this episode there isn't much more jumping around, the show becomes focused purely on the story of Saul and his two apprentices attempting to scam a customer. It is here that the energy present in the best episodes of Breaking Bad can be found, the scenes in this final act left me on the edge of my seat and I hope that this is the direction that they go in with the rest of the series.

Unfortunately, as good as the final twenty minutes of the episode are this première is still bogged down by that tedious opening thirty. Additionally, I was disappointed by the lack of any real supporting characters established here. In the first episode of Breaking Bad Walt's entire family had won my heart and cemented themselves as a fantastic supporting cast. In the first episode of Better Call Saul, you have only one supporting character developed in any depth - that's Saul's brother - but even he isn't particularly memorable. Meanwhile, the character of Mike Ehrmantraut is thrown in there for one scene but doesn't have anything fun to do, and the two hooligans Saul begins to tutor show promise but they lack the depth that the characters of Skylar, Walter Jr, Hank and Marie showed in the first episode of Breaking Bad. If there's one thing that this show improves upon in it's second episode, it should be the supporting characters. The reason for this is because a good supporting cast will add an element of unpredictability to the show. We know that nothing too bad will happen to Mike and Saul, and we know that by the time Better Call Saul wraps up they'll have changed their names and moved to New Mexico. These two facts will suck all the tension out of the show, unless the writers can throw in some characters and plot points that we as an audience can really sink our teeth into.

As for the performances in this episode, Bob Odenkirk and Michael McKean are both solid in their roles but to be frank, no one else stands out as requiring praise. As I say, there simply aren't any great supporting characters to come out of this first episode, and as a result the supporting actors are equally forgettable.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

TEN Comic Book Awards 2014: The Winners

Later than they should have been, the winners of our comic-book awards have finally been decided. Thanks to all of the creators who helped spread the word about our little awards show, you're the reason this medium is so great! All those creators who totally ignored us, we understand and we still like you too! Now without further ado, here are the winners of the TEN Comic Book Awards 2014:

Reader's Choice Award: Best Series

Winner: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
2nd Place: Grayson by Tim Seeley, Tom King and Mikel Janin
3rd Place: Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Best Writer:

Winner: Greg Rucka (Lazarus)

This is a very smart comic-book, featuring interesting social commentary and tons of back-material that leaves you getting plenty of bang for your buck. A must read!

Ales Kot (Secret Avengers)
Tom King & Tim Seeley (Grayson)
Nick Spencer (Superior Foes of Spider-Man)
Rick Remender (Deadly Class)
Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar, Armor Hunters)

Best Artist:

Winner: Steve Lieber (Superior Foes of Spider-Man)

Superior Foes of Spider-Man was an excellent, criminally overlooked book. Steve Lieber's art was one of the reasons it was so great, with many awesome panels and some fantastic comedic skill on show!

Clayton Crain (Rai)
James Stokoe (100th Anniversary: Avengers)
Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers)
Phil Noto (Black Widow)
Wes Craig (Deadly Class)

Best Cover Artist:

Winner: Darwyn Cooke (Various 'New 52' Variants)

With these variant covers, Darwyn Cooke showed us a side of the New 52 we haven't seen much recently; the fun side! They looked phenomenal and we'd happily frame each one and hang them on our wall! Excellent work.

Andrea Sorrentino (Green Arrow)
J.H Williams III (Sandman: Overture)
Kevin Wada (She-Hulk)
Marco Rudy (Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier)
Mike Del Mundo (Elektra)

Best Colourist:

Winner: Lee Loughridge (Deadly Class)

Lee Loughridge's colours have given Deadly Class a distinctive and very stylish look since it began, and his work on the title deserves more recognition. Deadly Class is a fantastic book all-round, but Loughridge's colours remain one of the most impressive aspects of the series.

Jeromy Cox (Grayson)
Matthew Wilson (Secret Avengers, The Wicked + The Divine)
Muntsa Vicente (She-Hulk)
Rachelle Rosenberg (Superior Foes of Spider-Man)
Santi Arcas (Lazarus)

Best Break-Out Creator:

Winner: Genevieve Valentine (Catwoman)

Valentine has brought DC's Catwoman series back from the brink of utter terribleness, and has turned it into something that we are once again excited to read. Her plot is complex, dark and utterly enthralling. Read it!

Benjamin Dewey (The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw)
Brian Ruckley (Rogue Trooper)
G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel)
Joe Infurnari (The Bunker)
Karl Kershchl (Gotham Academy)

Best Series:

Winner: Superior Foes of Spider-Man
Deadly Class
Secret Avengers
X-O Manowar

Most Anticipated New Series of 2015:

Winner: Hit 1957 (Boom Studios)

The first Hit series, Hit: 1955 as it's known now was truly excellent and left us wanting more! Late last year we found out that's exactly what we'd be getting, and now we can't wait to see where the team of Bryce Carlson and Vanesa R. Del Ray take these characters next!

Bloodshot: Reborn (Valiant)
Howard the Duck (Marvel)
Ivar, Timewalker (Valiant)
The Fix (Image)
Star Wars (Marvel)

Best Publisher:

Winner: Marvel
IDW Publishing
ONI Press

Best Comic-Book Website:

Winner: Comic Book Round-Up

While Comic Book Round-Up doesn't post editorial, it's still one of the most useful comic-book websites on the Internet. Serving as a review aggregator for comic-books from all publishers, it's a great tool to decide what comics to pick up each and every week. Check it out if you haven't already!

Bleeding Cool
Comic Book Resources
Multiversity Comics

Best Comic-Book Adaptation:

Winner: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Flash
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Performance in a Comic-Book Property:

Winner: Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy)
Chloe Bennett (Skye in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak in Arrow/The Flash)
Ming Na-Wen (Melinda May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury in Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

Most Anticipated Adaptation of 2015:

Winner: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Agent Carter
A.K.A Jessica Jones
Ant Man
Fantastic Four

TEN Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to Comics:

Winner: Steve Gerber
Alan Moore
Jim Shooter
Mark Waid
Stan Lee
Terry Moore

Thanks again to everyone who supported this year's awards, and all the awesome people who voted in our reader's choice award! Hope you'll all be back for the next awards!