Favorite Female DC Heroes

The Mary Sue website recently published a list of The Ten Most Powerful Female Villains of the DC universe, then challenged readers to list their favorite female DC heroes. So here we go.

1 – Birds of Prey

The Birds of Prey are not a single hero, but a group. Specifically, they are a team of female superheroes. First created by Chuck Dixon in the 1990s. The original group included Oracle (Barbara Gordon who also gets a place on this list herself), Black Canary (yes, she also gets her own listing), Huntress, and others. The team was rebooted in the New 52 and again in Rebirth. The membership of the team tends to rotate, but Barbara Gordon, Dinah Lance, and Helena are usually members. The series has been written and drawn by women as well.

2 – Zatanna

Originally a “joke” character who appeared in Justice League International and cast spells by speaking backward, Zatanna has emerged as one of the most powerful magic users in the entire DC Universe. At one point in New 52 – John Constantine describes her as the most powerful magician on Earth because she can bend reality itself. This after John discovers she cast a spell on him to make him a better person. Zatanna has been a member of the Justice League and Justice League Dark. She’s also one of the main characters in the animated series Young Justice and a supporting character in Justice League Unlimited. Zatanna is also one of the main characters in the recent mini-series Mystic U.

3 – Barbara Gordon (Oracle, Batgirl)

My favorite version of Barbara is Oracle. After she was shot by the Joker in Alan Moore’s famous The Killing Joke, Barbara doesn’t curl up and die. She doesn’t become bitter and decide to be a villain. Barbara goes through intense physical therapy, learns to use a wheelchair, returns to grad school and gets her MLS – Master’s of Library Science, and gets a job at the Gotham City Library. All of that would make her an admirable character, and representative of a very under-represented group: those with physical disabilities. It is not easy to get a master’s degree. It is not easy to get a good job when one has physical disabilities – discrimination is alive and well. But for Barbara, this isn’t enough, she uses her computer skills and becomes Oracle – running the Birds of Prey single-handedly (for much of Birds of Prey the other Birds don’t even know who the “voice in their ear” is), she also became knowledge gatherer for Batman and his allies, especially Nightwing. Barbara is strong and admirable for all that. New 52 retconned her back to Batgirl, and personally, I felt that was a step back for the character. There are plenty of tough female superheroes, how many superheroes in a wheelchair can you name? Rebirth has Barbara as Batgirl, but back in charge of the Birds of Prey, and keeps her computer skills, so that’s something.

4 – Black Canary

Black Canary is more than the girlfriend/wife/ex-wife of Green Arrow. She has been a member of the Justice Society of America (back in the 1940s), then Justice League International, Justice League, and the Birds of Prey. Her main power is her Sonic Cry, which is strong enough to kill someone. She also is a gifted martial artist, and at times has lived in the dojo where she teaches self-defense to at-risk women. Dinah is strong in more ways than one, and she remains one of my favorite characters.

5 – Jessica Cruz, Green Lantern

Jessica Cruz is one of the newest female DC heroes on this list, as she was introduced in the Rebirth book, Green Lanterns, with her partner, Simon Baz (a Muslim man). Jessica is Latina and suffered such severe acrophobia that she didn’t leave her apartment for two years. This is the woman who gets a power ring for overcoming great fear. Although Jessica is at first unsure of herself, she grows and becomes the hero her ring knows she can be. She and her partner, Simon, have a great relationship that is entirely platonic, a refreshing change for a story essentially about two cops. Jessica also is, by default, a member of the Green Lantern Corps and the Justice League, meaning she also goes on missions in space, and world-saving missions, as well as her “normal” work as Earth’s Green Lantern.

6 – Batwoman

Kate Kane is Bruce Wayne’s cousin, a lesbian, and a kick-ass superhero. Raised in a military family, when she was young and the family abroad, she, her sister and their mother, were kidnapped. Her mother and sister were killed, and Kate was raised by her father. As a young adult, she enrolls in West Point – and is kicked out when it’s discovered she’s a lesbian. She goes wild for a year but then returns to Gotham as Batwoman. For much of Rebirth, Kate has been the leader of the Batfamily in Detective Comics, but after a few serious arguments with Bruce (lets just say Kate is more pragmatic than Bruce, and she doesn’t feel as strongly about his “no kill” rule as he does), she’s currently on her own. Kate is a strong fighter, has the intelligence common in Batfamily members, has military contacts through her father, and has her mother’s money. She’s basically Batman but a woman, which makes her awesome.

7 – Huntress

There are two versions of Huntress, and I really like them both. The Earth 2 version is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. (Bruce and Selina both grow older, retire from their respective “night ” jobs, and then marry.) The newer version is the daughter of a mob boss, who gets disgusted by her family’s violence, especially after her boyfriend is killed. She seeks revenge by killing mobsters. Bruce decides to bring her into the fold and gets her to agree to non-lethal ways of curbing the mob in Gotham. Both versions of Huntress have the first name, Helena, with the Earth 2 version being Helena Wayne and the modern version Helena Bertinelli. Helena is usually in a purple costume (sometimes black), and has strong fighting abilities, intelligence, and loyalty. As mentioned above, she’s frequently a member of the Birds of Prey.

8 – Fire and 9 – Ice

Fire was a Brazilian woman who had green fire powers. Ice was a Nordic Ice goddess. Both were characters in Justice League International. Both really need to be brought back!

10 – Wonder Woman

What new can one say about Wonder Woman? Diana is an Amazon princess, originally she brought American airman Steve Trevor back to America during World War II (which was contemporary with the times of her comic which was first published in 1940), where she stayed to fight Nazis, evil, and supervillains. She has the strength of Superman and the intelligence of Batman. Diana is part of DC’s Trinity of superheroes (the other’s being Superman and Batman) and is a member of the Justice League.

ANZAC Girls Review

  • Title: ANZAC Girls (mini-series)
  • Episodes: 6
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: ABC (Austrailia Broadcasting Corp.)
  • Cast: Georgia Flood, Antonia Prebble, Laura Brent, Anna McGahan, Caroline Craig, Honey Debelle
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

ANZAC Girls is based on a historical book about real nurses from Australia and New Zealand in World War I. As the final episode tells you: these are real women, who made a difference in the most trying of circumstances. ANZAC refers to the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps in the First World War, and the “girls” are the nurses, specifically of the Australia Army Nurses Corps. Some New Zealand women joined with the Australian nurses before the New Zealand nurses organization was formed. As Army nurses, they must have three years of prior experience – and be unmarried. This becomes quite the crux of the miniseries – because, for many of these very young women, they end up having to choose between love and duty and many choose love.

The first episode introduces the main characters: young women who want a little adventure, some who want to find love, and all who are very devoted to their duty as nurses. The nurses arrive in Cairo, and very quickly the disastrous Gallipoli campaign happens. Some of the nurses volunteer for duty on Lemnos, a Greek island that is home to the Australian hospital. But when they arrive with their matron, Grace Wilson, they find they have no quarters, and they must sleep on the open ground. There are no showers, no bathing facilities, and the latrines are disgusting. The women soldier on, despite an army colonel who believes “nurses have no bearing” on the survival of patients. Olive is a dedicated nurse who starts to fall for Pat Dooley, a medical orderly, but she chooses duty over love and is even cruel to him (because Olive, like the rest of the nurses, knows she will be forced to resign if she marries). Lemnos receives the worse cases from Gallipoli.

Meanwhile, back in Cairo, the nurses left behind think they face the worse cases, and the most pain and death. One nurse, Elsie, is mostly there to find her husband, who happens to be the son of the former Australian prime minister. She is discovered to be married, but the forward theater is so desperate for medical personnel she gets special consideration. Her husband is shot in the leg, and Elsie nurses him to health – he’s wounded again, and Elsie gets permission to transfer to the British hospital where he’s convalescing. He’s sent back to the war, and Elsie returns to Cairo and then goes with the rest of the nurses to France after the close of the Gallipoli campaign. When her husband is wounded again, she goes with him back to Australia and is forced to resign from the Australian Army Nursing Corps because: rules. She joins the Red Cross volunteer nurses and returns to France.

Olive and the rest return to Cairo briefly, then go on to France. For a few weeks, the nurses serve at a British hospital where they face the scorn of the British nurses. Matron Grace Wilson, to her credit, doesn’t let her nurses be mistreated, stands up for them, and gets them transferred to the Australian Hospital as soon as possible. The next three episodes take place in France, near the Somme. First Olive goes to the Casualty Clearing Station near the front lines. She returns and two of the other nurses go there. At the CCS, during an air raid, Alice comes into her own, helping wounded in one of the wards that are hit by German bombs. She’s awarded a military medal.

Another nurse, during extraordinary circumstances, has to administer anesthesia for a surgery when the anesthesiologist passes out from exhaustion. The surgeon talks her through it, and the patient recovers. She and two other Australian nurses are put forth for a nurse-anesthesiologist training program. She makes it with flying colors and a perfect score. Day by day she works in surgery, administering local and general anesthetic. That is until the Australian Army gets wind of the program and decides it’s not a suitable job for a woman. After receiving the news (which comes on the same day that Alice finds out her finance’s been killed), she returns to the wards and gets into a conversation with a New Zealand soldier. The two talk about being from New Zealand – and the lightbulb goes off: she’s a New Zealander! She goes to talk to the matron in charge, discovers her matron, Grace Wilson has just returned, and says that as a New Zealander she’s not subject to the new rule. She returns to life as a surgical nurse.

ANZAC Girls is a good program, but it could have been a great program! I felt that the program was a little cold – we didn’t really know what motivated these women, as they dealt with an awful lot: blood, death, horrific injuries, being bombed, disease (including typhoid and dysentery), long hours, mud, and unsanitary conditions, especially for nursing. Instead, the miniseries focuses more on their loves, the losses of those loves, and finding new love. The final episode, which features the Armistice, did make me cry, as it told of the remainder of these extraordinary women’s lives (many also served in World War II). But somehow, although I thought this series was good, I expected more. I wanted to see less of women falling in love and more about how they came to and served in a difficult profession in extraordinary circumstances.

Still, ANZAC Girls is definitely worth watching and recommended.


Book Review – A Long Day in Lychford

  • Title: A Long Day in Lychford
  • Author: Paul Cornell
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/22/2018

**Spoiler Alert** The third volume in Paul Cornell’s Lychford series starts out as a discussion of Brexit, and ends with our three female heroes renewing their friendship and purpose by going through adversity. So Brexit happens, and Autumn feels very alone and threatened. It turns out Autumn is a Person of Color, and as such, Brexit is a direct threat to her and her shop. Autumn is now subjected to open racism and is verbally assaulted one night at the pub. When she leaves to avoid more trouble, Rory Holt follows her and continues to yell obscenities at her because of the color of her skin. Autumn unconsciously uses her powers to push him back and stumbles home, only to be woken by PC Shaun who is asking her some very pointed questions, since Rory’s gone missing.

But that’s not the only bothersome occurrence in Autumn’s life – she and Judith are feuding, especially since the Vote. And Lizzie very busy with church business and not able to bring balance between Judith and Autumn.
But Rory isn’t the only one to go missing – a Polish truck driver has also disappeared. And mysterious rave music from the woods underlies everything.

But Autumn, Lizzie, and Judith manage to unite anyway, they look into Lychford’s borders – which are knotted up, and they walk the borders. The three are quickly separated, and each much in her own way, do what they can to solve the supernatural mystery and bring back the Status Quo.

Lizzie finds the Rave, trapped in a moment in time – she’s able to get the young people free. Autumn finds the Polish truck driver, trapped in his flipped over vehicle. She gets him out of the truck, and they manage to find Judith and Rory, and with Lizzie’s help – they all get free and do what they can to fix the borders so supernatural entities cannot enter the world.

I liked this story – the three women are all strong in their own ways, and they are stronger together than apart. A Long Day in Lychford, in particular, speaks to how the three must unite in order to protect their town as well as the other realms. The novelette also seems to suggest there will be a sequel, but I don’t think there is one. Recommended.

Book Review – Sapphire and Steel: The Lighthouse

  • Title: The Lighthouse
  • Series: Sapphire and Steel
  • Discs: 1 CD
  • Author: Nigel Fairs
  • Director: John Ainsworth
  • Characters: Sapphire, Steel
  • Cast: Susannah Harker, David Warner
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/25/2018

**Spoiler Alert** When I listened to the trailer for The Lighthouse on All Fall Down I realised that I had listened to this audio play before, however, I did just listen to it again – twice. I still feel that The Lighthouse is one of the more violent and depressing Big Finish Sapphire and Steel stories that I’ve listened to, but the story is also complex and multi-layered, which makes it successful, if a bit violent.

Often, in a Sapphire and Steel story, the titular characters arrive and try to find the trigger which time is using to break out. However, in this story, they basically arrive late, and in the middle of events. A young couple visits the Lighthouse with their architect, in hopes of converting it into a home. But Nicholas and Adrian seem to know each other. Meanwhile, a young boy is horribly abused by his father. And an old man pretends to be an artist, but really he is luring young homosexual men to their deaths. And another man kills his wife. How are these events connected? All take place in the Lighthouse, but first Sapphire and then Steel are caught up in events – unable to influence or stop them. A Time Storm is coming and there seems to be no way to stop it.

Sapphire realises the young boy, the husband – who first visits the Lighthouse with his wife, Susie, and later kills her, and the old man who is luring young men to their deaths at his hands – are the same person. Nicholas has made a bargain with Time, but he cannot change things, he can only repeat the same loop – over and over again. First, Sapphire is drawn into the loop as Susie accuses her of having an affair with her husband, Nicholas. Then, Steel is drawn in. Finally, the two are pushed out of Time altogether.

Being pushed out of time gives the two a little clarity, and they realise they need to find the trigger, or rather, triggers – three of them. Sapphire finds one trigger. Steel finds another. And then Steel forces a change in time that breaks the loop and stops the breakout. Sapphire realises that Time was even able to use her, her sympathy, her disgust at the waste of life, and her horror at all the death.

The Lighthouse is about cycles of violence, and how men abused as children often become child abusers themselves. It’s also about homophobia – and has some very rough language, so be warned. This also means it’s not a story for everyone – it’s violent and rough. But it is also complex, and although it has a downbeat ending, it is a well-told tale. If the listener can handle the violence and rough language, I do recommend it, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

This CD includes a trailer for the next CD in the range: “Dead Man Walking”. There is also a trailer for “The Tomorrow People”.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com.

Sadly, it looks like the Sapphire and Steel range is no longer available from the Big Finish website. But be sure to check out their other audio ranges.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Jane the Virgin Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Jane the Virgin
  • Season: Season 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll, Justin Baldoni, Brett Dier, Jaime Camil, Yael Grobglas, Anthony Mendez
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

~ Spoilers, obvi! ~

The first episode of Season 2 quickly resolves the cliff-hanger from last season, and baby Mateo is rescued from his kidnappers. Michael turns over some police evidence to get Mateo back. But what Season 2 is really about is going after one’s dreams. Jane has dreams of being a writer – and she’s taking practical steps towards that end – she takes Summer courses to make up some credits and then enrolls in grad school in a very competitive writing program. Xiomara is now actively pursuing her singing career. Jane’s father, Rogelio, has dreams of becoming an actor – and now he’s a successful telenovela star. He suffers some setbacks this season, but that also lets the audience discover how he had to work at being an actor and becoming a success – against his father’s disapproval. Even Alba has dreams of being with an old lover of hers.

But the season also simply follows the ups and downs of Jane’s life. She’s no longer with Rafael romantically, but she and Rafael are successfully co-parenting. And we see them occasionally struggling with their co-parenting, even at times arguing, and finally going to a mediator. But they also both have the ability to be adults and to do the best they can for baby Mateo. Jane, meanwhile, tries dating other people, even the hottie professor, Chavez, before Jane and Michael get back together. The season ends with their wedding and the first night of their honeymoon. However, as has become standard with this show – there is a cliff-hanger!

Season two develops the other characters as well. We find out more about Rogelio’s background and meet his parents. Petra uses Rafael’s sperm sample that she “obtained” last season to inseminate herself, and ends up pregnant with twins. She has a hard time during her pregnancy – with severe morning sickness and nausea and even has a miscarriage scare. But she successfully delivers twin girls – Elsa and Anna. She then develops post-partum depression. Shortly thereafter her long-lost twin sister arrives. Meanwhile, Rafael is still in love with Jane, but he is also determined to not stand in the way of her happiness. Alba, Jane’s grandmother decides to pursue her green card and to also pursue love, or rather, an old love (the romance doesn’t end well).

Overall, I love this show! It’s rare to see a show where the leads are all women, and the three generations of Villanueva women are very strong. They are also capable, and each has their own views on life. The enhanced reality scenes in this season vary from Jane’s hallucinating whole scenes to small hearts – but they always add to the story. The characters are more developed and well-rounded. And the main characters, even Petra, are all likable. I really enjoyed watching Season 2, and yes, I’d sit down to watch one episode and with the cliffhangers, I’d just have to hit the next button, sometimes watching three episodes in a single night.

Highly recommended!

Read my Jane the Virgin Season 1 Review.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Sin Eaters

  • Title: Sin Eaters
  • Author: Cavan Scott
  • Artists: Adriana Melo, Cris Bolson, Marco Lesko, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 9th Doctor
  • Characters: Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Captain Jack Harkness
  • Collection Date: 2017
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/21/2018

**Spoiler Alert** Sin Eaters is the fourth volume in Titan Comics Ninth Doctor series. The novel opens with the head of The Hesguard Institute in the 53rd Century learning that an Earth Examiner is on the way. The examiner is Rose, who is there to check on patient 280, otherwise known as the Doctor. The Doctor is being given a new experimental treatment to remove his negative impulses and transfer them into an “inert” Sin Eater automaton. However, when the transfer occurs, the Sin Eater goes berserk and starts killing the staff and patients at the Institute. The Doctor, it seems, is undercover. He knows that the process used by the Hesguard Institute doesn’t cure patients, it just makes them worse and more violent. Furthermore, he cites as examples, incidents from the future. Also, because he is a telepath, having his emotions and feelings transferred to one of the Sin Eaters makes it alive but only a creature devoted to anger. The Doctor, Rose, and Tara escape and the Institute is destroyed.

The second story is about Capt. Jack Harkness and his experiences as a Time Agent. Jack liked his job until he was sent to assassinate Zlov Volh, someone he discovers isn’t the dictator and murderer he thinks but actually an inventor who would invent “free time travel” for all. That still seems dangerous, but Jack starts to question his life. He tries to stop himself from shooting Volh but then he is hit by an eradicator – a device that moves someone out of time entirely. However, the Doctor and Rose, using a memsphere, find out Jack wasn’t removed from time – he was kidnapped by transmat.

The Doctor explains to Rose and Tara that the latest 53rd century “social media” outlet is memgram, where users can share memories using a memsphere. They begin to experience Jack’s memories and realise that someone is selling them as “premium content”. The person behind the plot is Addison Delamar, the owner of Memgram Inc. Yet behind her scam to reel in Jack and con him is a worse plot: to sell the Doctor’s memories of the Time War to the highest bidder. Several bidders are involved, including the Cybermen, who take over and attack. One of the Doctor’s memories is of the Time Lords releasing the Great Vampires whom they think will be an ally against the Daleks. The Cybermen infect Delamar with a Cybermat, turning her into a partial Cyberperson. This starts a war on the planet between the space fleets and the Cybermen. Jack, Rose, and Tara use the memspheres to turn the tables and get the various space fleets to attack each other instead of the planet. The Doctor’s memories, of grief and suffering, are released through the memsphere and everyone backs off. Finally, Jack gives Delamar a memsphere of his own memories letting her think it’s the Doctor’s and she leaves. Tara decides to stay behind on the suffering war-torn planet where her skills as a nurse can be used to help others.

This novel also didn’t quite hit the Ninth Doctor Era – too many social media in-jokes. I also found Rose and Jack a little out of character. Still, the artwork is beautiful, and even though the story is confusing it is a good story. Recommended.

Please also read my reviews of previous volumes of Ninth Doctor graphic novels from Titan Comics.

My review of Doctor Who: Weapons of Past Destruction (Ninth Doctor Vol. 1).

My Review of Doctor Who: Doctormania (Ninth Doctor Vol. 2).

My Review of Doctor Who: Official Secrets (Ninth Doctor Vol. 3).

Book Review – Sapphire and Steel: All Fall Down

  • Title: All Fall Down
  • Series: Sapphire and Steel
  • Discs: 2 CDs
  • Author: David Bishop
  • Director: Nigel Fairs
  • Characters: Sapphire, Steel, Silver
  • Cast: Susannah Harker, David Warner, David Collings
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/20/2018

**Spoiler Alert** Sapphire and Steel was a British television series on the ITV (Independent Television) network, starring Joanna Lumley as Sapphire and David McCallum as Steel with David Collings as Silver. The series was about, well, it’s somewhat difficult to explain – we don’t know exactly what Sapphire, Silver, and Steel are – just that they are elements, sent to stop time from breaking out because it would be disastrous. Like the original classic Doctor Who series, the individual stories consisted of several half-hour parts and each complete story could be of varying length. For Sapphire and Steel, this could be 4, 6, or even 8 parts. The show was creepy, imaginative, thought-provoking and, also like Doctor Who, low budget.

Big Finish’s audio series of original Sapphire and Steel stories really is quite brilliant and it’s one of my very favorite non-Doctor Who-related series from the company. The series re-casts Sapphire and Steel with Susannah Harker and David Warner, respectively, but this volume has David Collings return as Silver. And it is a full-cast audio play with music, sound effects, and acting. It is not a straight audiobook.

This play, “All Fall Down”, begins with Sapphire and Steel arriving outside the archives of the City of London Corporation. It’s an old building that has been condemned, and inside a small group of archivists and students are trying to rescue the collection stored within. They are scanning or otherwise preserving the artifacts, such as rescuing audio recordings from old wax cylinders and uploading them via FTP to the Internet for access by researchers worldwide. Similarly, old papers and books are being scanned, enhanced, and uploaded. Steel flips out a bit when he hears about this, as old objects are often used as triggers by Time to try to break out, which would be disastrous.

Sapphire and Steel enter the building, meet Dr. Fleming, the head archivist and find out that Silver was sent to the building first and is already investigating. Dr. Fleming introduces them to her student, Mary, and Dr. Webber a forensic archaeologist. Dr. Webber is studying a collection of documents, objects, and bones from a nearby plague pit (burial pit filled with victims of the Bubonic Plague in 1665). Dr. Webber is, however, already acting suspiciously. Mary says he’s over-protective of a plague journal he found in the pit. He won’t let her even look at it, which is odd since it’s her job to scan, enhance, and upload documents and sound recordings. Later, he’s observed to be talking to a match flame outside, but when asked he says he was listening.

As Sapphire, Silver, and Steel try to pinpoint the source of the breakout and encounter more and more echoes of the past – children singing “Ring a Ring of Roses”, a nursery rhyme that refers to the Bubonic Plague, and voices chanting, “Lord, have mercy on us”, another plague reference. Other references are to Bedlam Asylum, especially in the late Victorian Age. Steel and Dr. Fleming start to show signs of plague, and Steel collapses.

On disc two, Sapphire and Silver work together. Webber has taken Mary and escaped into the past. Even though they know it’s dangerous, Sapphire convinces Silver she must create another tunnel to the past, using the same technique that Webber used – burning a blank page of the plague journal. Silver develops a machine to broadcast a homing signal down the tunnel so Sapphire can find her way back. Sapphire heads down the tunnel to 1665 and meets Webber. At first, Webber tries to convince her that he’s been reincarnated over and over by his imaginary friend, Maldeb, who has gained some form of substance. However, Webber is a projection from the past and not real. The creature caught in the time trap is Maldeb. She had been trapped before in the plague journal, but now she was trying to break out. Maldeb is the time disturbance. The various Webbers, including Anton Weber the German inventor, and the Victorian “gentleman” bringing his ward to see the mad at Bedlam Asylum in the late Victorian Age, and the modern Dr. Webber, are mere echoes, ghosts, projections from the past. Maldeb wants to escape it’s prison and plans to have Sapphire take her place.

Meanwhile, Silver succeeds in communicating with Mary. He uses the homing device to bring her back. But just before he succeeds in bringing back Mary, communication with Sapphire is cut off by Maldeb. Silver and Mary then realize that to bring Sapphire back they need to destroy the journal. They burn the journal, Maldeb is destroyed and Sapphire returns to the present. She, Silver, and a now-healed Steel stand outside the Archives building. The breakout has been stopped. Like Steel, once Maldeb was destroyed and time returned to normal, Dr. Fleming was cured of her plague symptoms – because she never had the plague. Sapphire and Steel say goodbye to Silver and they all disappear.

I’ve always liked the television program Sapphire and Steel but it is far too short with only six stories (although some are quite long). This series of audio plays successfully re-creates the mood of the original series, while presenting intriguing original stories. The stories, such as “All Fall Down”, which I have listened to before, are also very easy to listen to again and are still enjoyable. David Warner is perfect as Steel, and Susannah Harker is excellent as Sapphire. The rest of the cast also does an excellent job in their performances. This play and the series are highly recommended.

The CD includes a trailer for the next play in the series, “The Lighthouse”.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com.

Sadly, it looks like the Sapphire and Steel range is no longer available from the Big Finish website. But be sure to check out their other audio ranges.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Wonder Woman – Season 2 Review

  • Title:  Wonder Woman
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 4 (Double-sided)
  • Original Network:  ABC
  • Distribution Network:  Warner Brothers
  • Cast:  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD, NTSC

The second season of Wonder Woman feels almost like three different seasons. The first ten episodes or so feature an animated opening sequence, though the pilot brings the series into “the present day”. The “present” is 1977. Season 1 was filmed in 1976-1977 and set in 1942, 34 years earlier. Since it is currently 2018, which is 41 years after 1977 – the “present-day” episodes of Wonder Woman feel almost as historic as the episodes from World War II. This means that there are some incongruities of watching an older program: everyone uses payphones, though towards the very end of the season a few car phones show up; cars are rear-wheel drive, long, and handle very badly (there’s a scene with a police car where it fishtails unbelievably – and it isn’t even snowing); and as was common in the 1970s even though the show is technically set in or at least based in Washington, DC, most of the stories take place in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. During the first ten or so episodes Steve and Diana report to Joe Atkinson and receive orders from an unseen voice. It’s all very Charlie’s Angels. After a few transition episodes, where we barely see Steve, Joe retires (or is promoted out of the show) and Steve takes his job. For the middle run of the season, Steve sends Diana Prince, his top agent on various assignments. Finally, at the end of the season, Steve and Diana seem to be taking their assignments from IRAC, a talking computer. At the very least, IRAC will be consulted at least once per episode. IRAC is a talking box of lights, not very impressive looking, and totally unrealistic as a computer. Oh, and my smartphone probably has more computing power. Welcome to the 1970s!

Most of the episodes in the second season of Wonder Woman are very formulaic. Diana and Steve are given an assignment by Joe’s unseen boss, or Steve gives Diana her assignment once he’s promoted, Diana travels to wherever her assignment is – usually California, Diana investigates and finds clues, and at least twice per episode, she spins into Wonder Woman. Diana is kind, courteous, sweet, and gets along well with children and animals. The series has forgotten about her mimic power, but she seems to have the ability to mentally speak to animals, especially horses. Steve is much less sexist in his treatment of Diana – but she runs into sexist attitudes while doing her job as a government intelligence agent. Diana’s reaction is to grin and bear it – which was very common in the 1970s and 1980s.

My favorite episode of the entire season was “The Queen and the Thief”, which is absolutely delightful. Diana is awakened in her apartment early in the morning and spins into Wonder Woman basically to get to work on time for an emergency meeting. When she arrives, she, Joe, and Steve are told notorious jewel thief Evan Robley (David Hedison) has arrived and he’s after the crown jewels of a small country no one has heard of. The country’s new Queen (Juliet Mills) was an American citizen who married the country’s prince and when he died, she became Queen. (Never mind that monarchy doesn’t actually work like that. She’d be a princess by marriage, later a consort to the King (possibly with the title of “queen” but only out of courtesy) and only her children would be in the line of succession, not herself.) Anyway, if the jewels are stolen she will lose her position as Queen and the counts or something will take over. Steve and Diana are despatched immediately undercover to help the Queen and prevent the theft. Steve is almost immediately captured, and Wonder Woman explains to the Queen he’s “safer where he is” and leaves him there. Diana and the Queen then have to ensure the jewels are not stolen, only to discover they’ve been stolen – but the ones that were stolen were paste (fake). Then things get really interesting as the theft, Diana, and the Queen work together to recover the real jewels and expose the Queen’s ambassador (Played to perfection by John Colicos) as the person behind a plot to steal the jewels, expose the Queen, and place his own traditionally-minded puppet on the throne. It sounds like a typical plot for the show, but it’s played with an incredibly light touch, and the Queen and the Theif are excellent guest stars (they need their own show). John Colicos is brilliant as always as the bad guy. And Diana’s involvement is pretty much talking to the Queen to convince her she and Diana Prince, have her interests at heart – and a brilliant jewel-heist scene which takes place in a set that looks like it was borrowed from The Avengers, that’s the British TV series starring Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg. The episode has a light touch, great costumes and sets, and a brilliant cast. It felt like it should have been a movie with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (and in some respects was probably inspired by To Catch a Thief). And it was glorious!

Here and there, other episodes of season 2 of Wonder Woman are at least enjoyable, escapist entertainment, largely due to Lynda Carter’s excellent performance as Diana Prince and Wonder Woman. Lyle Waggoner’s Steve Trevor definitely takes a back seat, which is a shame – he has pretty good chemistry with Diana, especially when they are friends and colleagues, and since Diana needs someone to talk to – she’s usually paired with the guest star of the week, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Unlike season 1, in which the show featured well-known guest stars, season 2 features familiar-looking actors of the 70s and 80s (especially if you watched The Rockford Files), but few “big stars”. And for some reason, a lot of children. No, seriously, several episodes revolve around young kids – which works if the kid can act.

Overall, I enjoyed season 2, but I also found it gets repetitive quickly. I’m going to hold off on watching season 3, but I will watch it at some point. Still recommended, if only for Lynda Carter.

Please also read my Wonder Woman Season 1 Review.

Book Review – The Lost Child of Lychford

  • Title: The Lost Child of Lychford
  • Author: Paul Cornell
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/14/2018

**Spoiler Alert** I first starting reading this book months ago – and literally misplaced it. I recently found the book, started from the beginning and started to read – that was three days ago. I absolutely loved the book and finished it quickly. The Lost Child of Lychford is a sequel to Witches of Lychford and the second book in a trilogy. Lizzie, the Reverand Elizabeth Blakemore is getting ready for her first Christmas as Vicar of St. Martin’s in Lychford. She is under considerable stress and not in the Christmas spirit at all – and when she sees a young child in her church, at first she isn’t quite sure the child is even there. She talks to Autumn and Judith about it and realizes that she has seen a ghost.

Meanwhile, Judith is working in Autumn’s shop – but she isn’t the best person to be working in customer service. Judith is also hiding a big secret from her friends.

Lizzie finds the real toddler whom her ghost resembles, a young boy named Jaime, who has two loving parents and a stable home. It’s unclear why the only message the ghost gives Lizzie is “no hurt”.

Meanwhile, Autumn receives an email from Finn of the fairies, she opens it and he appears in her rooms and warns her something is wrong with the magical boundary around Lychford.

Judith, Lizzie, and Autumn start to investigate these two mysteries. But nothing seems to go to plan. When they visit the old tree stump, Judith can tell something is wrong – but she can’t vocalize what it is. Lizzie is so busy with various dinners, carol services, children’s pageants, and a wedding she doesn’t have much time to investigate. Lizzie even leaves as soon as Judith finishes her reading at the tree.

Judith takes Autumn out to the local pub in Lychford, for a night of “divination in beer”. Autumn plays along but clearly doesn’t understand what Judith is trying to do. That night, Autumn meets a man in the pub and goes home with him. Judith goes home as well and has an interesting experience with the ghost of her husband. Within moments – Judith is pulled inside her husband and trapped. Autumn wakes up with a naked man in her bed but scares him off with her intensity.

Lizzie meets with the couple who want to marry on Christmas Eve, and can’t quite put her finger on what is so unusual about the couple’s odd requests. As Lizzie falls deeper into a trance – Autumn becomes obsessed with her one night stand, and Judith disappears.

Autumn goes to visit Lizzie and finds her trying to harm her hands. The ghost insists, “Don’t hurt”. And Autumn realizes her need for her one-night lover is way too intense. Autumn casts an anti-love potion on herself to break the spell (after she and Lizzie visit the young man, Luke, to safely obtain some of his blood for the spell). The spell works and Autumn comes to her senses. They walk to Judith’s house and figure out she’s missing – informing her son, a local police officer. Autumn falls into the same trap as Judith, but Lizzie rescues her.

Lizzie gets back to the church and starts the rehearsal for the wedding. She doesn’t seem to find it odd that the couple has brought strange statuary into her church, nor that the best man is a shadow and the bridesmaids have glowing eyes. She doesn’t even object when she is told to use a ceremonial knife to stab a plastic baby doll. All along, though the ghost tells her – don’t hurt. Lizzie invites the ghost into her rooms, but this doesn’t make the ghost more communicative.

Autumn meanwhile thinks Lizzie is just fine and creates a potion to transfer power to the ghost. Then the young toddler, Jaime goes missing.

Everything comes to a head at Lizzie’s church, where Autumn interrupts a very odd wedding. Lizzie finally breaks free of her conditioned responses. She and Autumn chase after the couple who have Jaime hostage. They inform the police and head to the boundary. The two women confront the spirits, who intend on breaking the boundary, turning it inside out – and stopping time in Lychford. Autumn takes some risks and is able to get help from Finn and Judith. But it is Lizzie who stops the decapitation of Emma by Fairy troops, even though she’s some sort of supernatural creature, who prevents the breakage of the boundary. Judith is freed and the boundary is as before. The three women rescue Jaime and return him to the police and his parents.

This book was a quick read. It develops the three female characters from the previous book and introduces more intrigue in Lychford. I enjoyed it very much and will look forward to reading the final volume.

Highly recommended.

Book Review – The Hellblazer vol. 2: The Smokeless Fire

  • Title: The Hellblazer vol. 2: The Smokeless Fire
  • Author: Simon Oliver
  • Artist: Davide Fabbri, Philip Tan, José Marzán Jr., Karl Kesel, Carrie Strachan, Elmer Santos, Tony Aviña, Sal Cipriano
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: John Constantine, Mercury
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/14/2018

John Constantine and Mercury head to Paris to locate the journal of Jacque Henry, in order to find out more about the D’Jinn. This entire graphic novel is pretty much the search for the McGuffin of Henry’s journal. The flashbacks tell the story of Henry’s journey in the Arabian desert where he encountered the D’Jinn and saw the aftermath of the D’Jinn killing his mate on the same journey. Constantine and Mercury follow leads, fall into traps, and escape while getting closer and closer to the journal. The journal, it turns out, is being guarded by Dante who is guardian to his young sister, Samantha. The D’Jinn go after Dante, but he escapes with Sam and they also go on the run.

Constantine and Mercury eventually meet up with Dante and Sam, but they are followed and confronted by a D’Jinn. Constantine sacrifices himself so Mercury can take the journal, and escape with Dante and Sam. And, of course, Constantine isn’t actually killed by the D’Jinn – he somehow manages to escape, happy to no longer be on the trail of the journal.

Although the summary seems pretty simple, Constantine The Hellblazer is a great book, and this volume, part of DC’s Rebirth line is no exception. I read this story twice and really enjoyed it. I look forward to the next volume.

Please also read my review of The Hellblazer vol. 1: The Poison Truth.