Book Review – Doctor Who: Official Secrets

  • Title: Official Secrets
  • 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: 01/28/2018

**Spoiler Alert** I really, really loved Official Secrets! Finally, a Ninth Doctor Titan Comics collection that really feels like Doctor Who. I’ve been collecting the Titan Comics Doctor Who graphic novels for awhile now, and while the first two Ninth Doctor volumes weren’t bad – they weren’t nearly as enjoyable or on point as, Official Secrets. The Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor graphic novel series from Titan were all more in character than the first two Ninth Doctor volumes. But this one is wonderful!

Official Secrets feels very much like a Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker Era UNIT story. It starts with a woman running through the woods and getting attacked by monsters – only to be rescued by the Doctor , Rose, and Capt. Jack. They are tracking the gargoyle accidentally sent back in time in the last volume. Before long UNIT arrives with Dr. Harry Sullivan in charge. UNIT is at odds with Albion a for-profit military group who want to discredit UNIT, take over from them as the UK government’s “monster squad”, and to even start wars to increase their own profits.

Albion has kidnapped Alex Yaxley, who had been part of an experiment to use astro-projection to create ghost soldiers to fight in wars. The Doctor realizes that the monsters plaguing the local area resemble the monsters in a Japanese monster film magazine. And, they eventually figure out it is Yaxley’s son who is causing the monsters to appear by accidentally psychically projecting his nightmares. The Brigadier, Dr. Sullivan, UNIT, – with the Doctor and Rose who goes undercover at Albion to save Alex and help him escape also put a stop to the monsters, without harming the boy or his father. A UNIT soldier who appeared to be going on a tell-all television news magazine to blow the whistle on UNIT – instead blows the whistle on Albion, blaming them for everything.

Tara joins the TARDIS crew, despite Rose’s jealousy and the Doctor takes everyone to Brazil in the past. There they meet a slaver, whom the Doctor stops from beating his slave. A mermaid, from space, and her water-creature partner are living in the nearby river. The Doctor recognizes their species as space-born slavers. But these two are different – they believe enslaving other races, and destroying primitive planets is wrong – so they fled their home. Unfortunately, they are tracked by others from their race. The Doctor manages to rescue the pair, and defeat the ship trailing them – but not before the human slaver is kidnapped (and forced to become a slave).

The artwork in Official Secrets leaps off the page. It’s truly fantastic – and the panels are drawn in a way to draw the eye to read them in the correct order. Page after page of the art in this book is truly, truly remarkable.

The storyline is just plain fun. Both stories could be grim – a man kidnapped and forced to think-up monsters? A boy who’s nightmares literally come true? A human slaver who gets his just desserts? A mermaid from space? But instead its a rollicking good time. This book is just plain fun. It gets the feel of the UNIT years and characters just right (poor Harry – still gets no respect) and finally the Doctor, Rose and Capt. Jack are in character and interact with everything just fine. I simply loved this book, and it gets my highest recommendation.


Batman (1966) Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Batman
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 34 (half-hour episodes)
  • Discs: 5 
  • Network: ABC (US)
  • Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, Alan Napier, Madge Blake, Neil Hamilton
  • Format: Standard, Technicolor, DVD, NTSC

Batman – in Color, and boy is it! The 1966 television series is filmed in Technicolor, and the colors are extremely bright – almost cartoonish. Oddly enough, this wasn’t part of the “camp” nature of the Batman television show – it was a result of the Technicolor process – which produced strong jewel-tone colors, especially in the bright California sun of Hollywood back lots, or under extremely bright studio lights. Everything about Batman is bright: the sets, the costumes, the occasional locations – it’s all very storybook, and the same you would see in other early Technicolor films (such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, or Singin’ in the Rain) and early American color television (everything from I Dream of Jeannie to The Wild Wild West, even Classic Star Trek). Once you realize that at the time that the show was made everything looked like that – the colors are a bit less garish.  However, it’s still jarring and takes awhile to get used to if you’ve been watching any modern television recently.

The first season of Batman actually is very, very formulaic. Most episodes start with a crime committed by a supervillain such as the Riddler, the Joker, the Penguin, or in this season one time villains (some of which would return in subsequent seasons), Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara discuss the villain and the crime (mostly stating that the case is too difficult for the police) and they then use the red hot line phone to call Batman. The phone is answered by Alfred, who alerts Bruce Wayne, who makes an excuse to Aunt Harriet. Bruce, in his Batman voice, answers the phone and he and Dick rush to the Bat Poles, then to the Batmobile and the Commissioner’s office. They get an update, and start to investigate clues (either provided by the villain himself or going to the scene of the crime etc.). There’s almost always a fist fight between Batman and the villain and his goons, but the villain himself gets away. Part 1 ends with the caped crusader and the boy wonder in a elaborate death trap. Sometimes Robin only is taken by the villain and is in a death trap by himself. Part II – opens by resolving the cliffhanger, additional crimes and clues, a huge fist fight with the villain and his lackies, and Batman defeating everyone and having the villain taken to jail by the police. Many episodes had the villain have a female underling used as a distraction – and the coda of the episode would show her getting help to reform from the Wayne Foundation.

In nearly every episode, Batman would also deliver some sort of positive civics lesson, or safety message, or even encouragement in education to Dick Grayson (and the show’s audience). So if Dick were to complain that he couldn’t learn Latin or Italian, Batman (or Bruce Wayne) would answer how important it was to learn other languages to understand different people and other cultures. Other lessons were on rarer occasions taught more practically, such as Batman using geometry to triangulate the position of a radio signal. Or Batman figuring out a clue by his knowledge of French, Spanish, Italian, Spanish, etc.

However, the only time we see a gag that later became famous, a famous person sticking there head out the window as Batman and Robin climb the wall is in a episode towards the end of the season. The celebrity is Jerry Lewis – but that is the only time the gag is used in the entire season.

One story I did find interesting and a bit different (though it followed the format described above) was, “The Joker Goes to School”/”He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul”. Joker buys a vending machine and novelty company, and places the machines in Dick’s high school. But the machines are rigged – put in a dime for milk, get a fistful of silver dollars (like a slot machine paying off). The Joker’s female assistant is the high school head cheerleader, and his plan is to lure the high schoolers into dropping out of school and living the “easy high life” from the machines. Yes, it makes no sense. But we also get to both see Dick at high school, and see him try to go undercover to find out more about the high school gang. Dick in his black leather jacket, calling the girls “babe” and even attempting to smoke a cigarette is both fun and a little outside the norm for this show (we rarely see either Dick or Bruce undercover, though Bruce uses his position as a “famous millionaire” to occasional pick up information or set traps for the villain.

The Batmobile is stolen by a villain four times in this series. You’d think Batman would learn – though he always gets it back, and stealing the Batmobile is a pretty good way to get caught. This series also features as regulars: Commissioner Gordon, Chief O’Hara (played with a very offensive “Leprechaun” Irish accent), Alfred, and Aunt Harriet (apparently she’s Dick’s Aunt – and this being a 60s show, she’s there to cook and clean for Bruce and Dick. Poor Alfred, meanwhile, seems to only be there to answer the Batphone – though he does occasionally get involved in Batman’s work.) Bruce Wayne (Not Batman) is kidnapped once, with the villain demanding Batman deliver the ransom. Bruce cleverly rescues himself. Dick’s kidnapped once, and as mentioned above, Robin is kidnapped often.

Overall, though, even though it’s much different than the more serious Batman adventures we are used to now (even Batman: The Animated Series for the most part takes the character much more seriously than this series). West and Ward actually play their roles pretty straight. And it’s got a 60s vibe that brings to mind other series from the roughly same time period: The Avengers (the British series with Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg – no relation to Marvel Comics), The Prisoner, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Wild Wild West. Overall, I enjoyed it and will probably at some point purchase the next two seasons.

Book Review – Doctor Who Ninth Doctor vol. 2: Doctormania

  • Title: Doctormania
  • Author: Cavan Scott
  • Artists: Adriana Melo, Cris Bolson, Matheus Lopes, Marco Lesko, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 9th Doctor
  • Characters: Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Captain Jack Harkness
  • Collection Date: 2016
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/10/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Doctormania is the second volume in Titan Comics Ninth Doctor graphic novel series – it was also a bit confusing and I ended-up reading it three times before reviewing. But then, I also kept not having time to review it. The graphic novel consists of several stories.

In the first story, the Doctor takes Rose and Jack to the Eye of Orion. Jack is surprised by the giant ziggurat on the planet’s surface – and the Doctor knows it and the famous hanging gardens of Slarvia shouldn’t be there. They quickly discover the location has been hacked by the Geohacker Taggani. Geohackers hack planets, rearranging the surface as they see fit, or to make a point. The Doctor, it turns out, was quite a fan of Taggani – until one of his “hacks” killed the entire population of a planet. The Doctor turns Taggani over to the Shadow Proclamation but not before Jack’s face ends up on the planet’s moon.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor, Rose, and Jack receive a message from Jack, dressed in a Time Agent uniform, a message that Jack doesn’t remember sending. The TARDIS crew realises it may be from before Jack’s memories were wiped. The TARDIS follows the signal to Gharusa, only to find the planet strangely welcoming. The minute they step out of the TARDIS, they are greeted by an enthusiastic fan who talks about how much she loves “Doctor Who?” minisode series. The Doctor has even written a book about his experiences. They are attacked by “Chumblies”, though the Doctor insists they aren’t Chumblies. The fan jumps between the Doctor and the Chumblies attack but isn’t seriously hurt.

The “Doctor” arrives in a flying car that resembles the Third Doctor’s Whomobile and destroys the Chumblies with EMP mines. Meanwhile the young female fan squees at being in the middle of everything, and the gathering crowd asks for selfies and autographs. The local police arrest the Doctor for identity theft. However, this actually makes things easier – Rose sneaks in to the holo-vid studios by pretending to be a reporter for the Daily Planet (or maybe the Daily Bugle – she isn’t sure herself) to interview the Doctor’s companion, Penny. She discovers the fake Doctor is in fact a Slitheen. The Doctor easily convinces the police he is who he says he is by letting them do a body scan. The Slitheen, Penny, is accidentally killed by the fan who is trying to protect the real Doctor, which, of course, makes him very angry. Rose is kidnapped by the Doctor and taken to the home planetary system of the Slitheen. Jack and the Doctor follow in the TARDIS. The Doctor (the Slitheen one) accepts an offer to speak at the peace conference for the warring planets (four at least) of the system that is home to the Slitheen for a large fee. Rose exposes her. This causes the other planets to unite against the Slitheen family – whose crimes are even beyond their own standards. However, the weather control station on Clix is basically hacked and a storm of acid rain burns (and eventually kills those without shelter) anyone out in the open. Jack and the Doctor, though, has used Slitheen skin suits to investigate the planet un-noticed. They put Rose’s “friend” the Doctor in one to protect her and to preserve the evidence. They discover the plot, reveal it to the entire system, and back it up with the living evidence. As they are leaving the Doctor receives a phone call from Mickey.

The TARDIS lands in San Francisco, where the Doctor meets Mickey – but Mickey wants him to leave, as he wanted “the other one” – and to avoid a paradox. In San Francisco, people are suddenly gaining super powers, such as flight. But soon gargoyles are attacking and those with super powers are disappearing. As you may suspect, these events are connected. San Francisco is also experiencing the Northern Lights, which is not in any, way, shape, or form, normal. The Doctor and Mickey discover the super-powered people are only the first stage – and they eventually turn in to gargoyles – but not before Rose discovers the power of flight. The Doctor realizes the Northern Lights are actually a wormhole – a punchway, an extremely destructive type of hyperspace travel. He goes to the terminus of the line to stop it. But it’s Rose who ultimately stops the punchway and saves everyone.

Meanwhile the few gargoyles are sent back in time to be dealt with by UNIT including Dr. Harry Sullivan.

Doctormania was a bit too meta for me. The second story with the Doctor Who? fan girl was uncomfortable to read, and felt like the author was biting the hand (eg fans) that feed him. The second part of that story though, was interesting in that the internal politics of the various planets in the “Slitheen” system (the graphic novel does not forget that “Slitheen” is a family name and the people are a different species) are actually pretty interesting. Seeing the Slitheen burned by acid rain is both horrifying and empathy-provoking. The Taggani story is a bit weird. The final story I actually liked. But throughout the book, it was, I don’t know – strange. The book quotes famous bits of Ninth Doctor dialogue either directly or stylistically but that was the problem. It felt artificial. Like someone had watched a couple of episodes of Ninth Doctor Doctor Who or even just read memes and quote pages -without really absorbing the characters. Rose seems, well, not exactly dumb, but rude – and dismissive of things she doesn’t understand. Jack is egotistical and more concerned with looking good than helping others, especially the Doctor and Rose. It all seems rather flat. Most of the art is actually very good, and hopefully the writing style will improve. I’d like to see the Titan Comics Ninth Doctor Series go more in the direction of the other series, especially the Tenth Doctor series which has become it’s own, original thing. I’d give this book 3.5 stars – it’s still Recommended, but with reservations.

Teen Titans Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Teen Titans
  • Season: 2
  • Date:  2004
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 2
  • Cast: Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Ashley Johnson, Ron Perlman
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers Animation

The second season of Teen Titans consists of two discs that have very different attitudes to the story presentation. Disc 1 has the characters one at a time dealing with typical teenaged stuff: fitting in with others, being themselves, teenaged bodily changes, finding time for friends, etc. Killer Moth even threatens the Teen Titans unless Robin brings his bratty daughter, Kitten, to her Junior Prom (only for everyone to discover the spider-headed villain the Titans were fighting at the beginning of the episode is her boyfriend). The style of these episodes is also very much like traditional cartoons, rather than realistic animation – when characters are surprised their eyes literally bug out, a character in love has hearts in his eyes, confused characters have question marks over their heads, etc. And every episode has a major fight scene.

The second disc is done in a more realistic animation style, and in general the stories are more serious, or not focused on teen issues for the most part. The series introduces Terra, the ill-fated teen hero who can manipulate the Earth. When she arrives Terra is not in control of her powers, however, the Titans aren’t quick enough to offer to help her – and she leaves. Terra falls under the influence of Deathstroke who teaches her to control her powers. When Terra returns she quickly becomes friends with the Titans – especially Beast Boy who falls in love with her. In the season finale, though, she proves to be working with Deathstroke and gets the Titans to separate (they go after various villains who have appeared before and whom she and Deathstroke released) so she can defeat them. The Titans know Deathstroke is controlling Terra but in a bit of a double-standard, only Beast Boy believes they should help her anyway, after all the same thing happened to Robin the previous year. The rest of the Titans feel too betrayed to trust Terra and to try to help her.

In the end, the Titans work together to defeat Deathstroke. They convince Terra to come back to them. But as the fight in Deathstroke’s underground liar has stirred up a volcano – Terra stays behind to stop it. She’s turned into a stone statute. The Titans vow to find a way to release her from her stone prison and lay a stone at her feet calling her a true Titan and a true friend.

The scenes of Deathstroke controlling Terra are actually truly terrible though: he offers her something she truly wants – to learn to control her powers. But he also continuously tells her she has no friends, that no one cares about her, that she’s alone – and only Deathstroke would even dare to work with her. His manipulation is very abusive. He also constantly tells her the Titans aren’t her friends and don’t care about her. Deathstroke isolates Terra – then tells her no one wants her. He’s the classic abusive “boyfriend”. And he uses her power for his own gains. Deathstroke even electronically controls her “Slade suit” and has her wear an earpiece to be in her ear and her head all the time. The manipulation and abuse is terrifying.

Overall, even with the inconsistencies, Teen Titans Season 2 is pretty good. There are some interesting concepts and episodes (I loved the green, alien, talking dog). Recommended.

Please read my Teen Titans Season 1 Review.

iZombie Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: iZombie
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

Below are many spoilers for the third season of iZombie.

The third season of iZombie is very short, thus there is no time for simple placeholder murder mysteries that remind the viewer of the general plot. However, unlike the previous two seasons, there also is no A leads to B, B leads to C plot of uncovering a larger mystery either – so even though the season is short, it also feels a bit unfocused.

Picking up from where Season 2 left off, Fillmore-Graves is shown to be a zombie company – everyone who works there, from upper management to soldiers, even children at the company school are zombies. The female CEO explains to Liv and Major that not only does Fillmore-Graves employ only zombies, they own an island, and they are working on the infrastructure – she hopes to move all zombies to this island before D-Day or “Discovery Day”. Major is soon employed as a Fillmore-Graves soldier.

Meanwhile Don E has started a zombie-only underground club called, “The Scratching Post”. He and Blaine’s father steal all of Blaine’s customers that were getting brains from Blaine at the funeral home. We also discover that Blaine’s father is an abusive son-of-a-bitch – and he was responsible for Blaine’s mother’s death and his grandfather being put away in a nursing home. Blaine’s father truly cares for no one – especially his son, and takes every opportunity he can to hurt others, especially Blaine.

Blaine, meanwhile, turns out to be faking his amnesia – the cure works, and the memory loss is only for a few days. Major takes the cure before they find this out though. He heads home to Walla Walla, Washington, then returns to Seattle. When his colleagues at Fillmore-Graves find out he’s human, he’s fired. Major begins a relationship with a woman who claims to believe he’s not the Chaos Killer, but unbeknownst to him – she’s a reporter for a tabloid. He also gives a dose of the cure to Natalie, the zombie call girl from season 2 that he rescued from suicide.

Don E gets sick of being abused and pushed around by Blaine’s father. Blaine is nearly killed (more than once) but turned back in to a zombie. Blaine and Don E team up again. Blaine dumps his father in a well, and feeds him brains to survive.

Meanwhile – the first case of the season is the death of a young boy and his entire family. It turns out Clive had known the boy and his mother (they lived nearby in his apartment building) but hadn’t seen them in awhile. Clive is devastated at the loss, especially after being reunited with the boy, Willie, at Fillmore-Graves. Because he’s close to the case, he isn’t allowed to investigate and it’s assigned to another homicide detective. Clive and Liv investigate anyway, throughout the season.

Liv and Clive discover Willie and his family were killed because they were zombies. The find a neighbor who’s part of a hate group, posts to message board filled with theories about how zombies are real – and even outs the family as zombies (or “brain eaters” as they put it) and publishes their address. This doxing led to the family’s death. The hate group is supported by a local radio personality – who uses the idea of “zombies being real” to stoke hate, to encourage physical violence, and, of course, to stir-up anti-government feeling – blaming “Big Government” for zombies, when it was the Corporation Max Rager who created and released the zombie virus in the first place. In the last episode, however, Liv learns that it wasn’t the zombie-hater who lived next to Willie and his family who killed them. They planned to, but were outside the residence when they were killed. Although Liv and Clive don’t know who did it – it’s implied to be someone from the Fillmore-Graves Corporation.

Three episodes in to the season, the female CEO at Fillmore-Graves is killed. She’s replaced by a more militant leader. He’s also the one who fires Major for being human – and rehires him when Major tells him he wants to be a zombie again.

In the last two episodes of season 3 of iZombie, as has become traditional for this show – everything changes. With the moderate head of Fillmore-Graves dead, the militant side of Fillmore-Graves takes over. They do not believe they can simply separate themselves from humans and live quietly. So they hatch a plot – the Aluesian Flu is released on a flight from Paris to Seattle. As more and more people get sick and even die from the deadly flu – a vaccination program is ordered. The Fillmore Graves zombies then infiltrate the storage sites for the vaccine and inject zombie blood into the vials of vaccine. Soon, the vaccinated Seattle natives turn in to Zombies. Liv is manipulated to breaking in to news anchor Johnny Frost’s broadcast to give the truth about zombies. And the head of the Fillmore-Graves military, Chase Graves, plays a video. He explains that a large portion of Seattle’s inhabitants are now zombies – but that they are normal other than their unusual dietary requirements. He says that Fillmore-Graves will provide brain mush tubes to Seattle’s zombies (they had already developed the technology for a side-effect free brain mush compound – and it was fed to all personnel and soldiers at the corporation). Stating that “a fed zombie is a happy zombie” he vows that no zombie will feed on the living, that all the zombies in Seattle can be properly fed if just 1 in 10 brains from natural deaths in other areas of the country are sent to Seattle. Chase Graves also remarks that Fillmore-Graves Corporation will establish zombie police and courts to deal with zombie-on-zombie crime. Some humans flee, but no doubt others will stay. The ending montage shows Fillmore-Graves soldiers, including Major, handing out brain tubes, and turning humans who are mortally sick with the flu into zombies.

Ravi also claims to discover a vaccine to prevent zombie-ism, which he puts on a sugar cube (like the polio vaccine) and eats. He then has Liv scratch him to test it.

So the season is a bit weird. In the first episode, there are two victims, a father and his teenaged daughter – so Liv has the brains of the father and Major the brains of the daughter. Watching Major on “teenaged girl brains” is hilarious! It made me appreciate the actor a lot more and added to his character – it was a shame this only happens once, as the rest of the time, Major eats the Fillmore-Graves Corporation-provided brain tubes and has no personality changes or visions. And as horrible as the military-arm of Fillmore-Graves’ plot is – the first CEO’s plan of “Zombie Island” probably wouldn’t have worked – no doubt radical, prejudiced people would have destroyed the entire island. But, on the other hand, turning most of the population of Seattle into zombies, many without their knowledge or consent, has just created a “larger island” – and it will be interesting to see if that plot point is picked up in season four or not. And Fillmore-Grave is implied to have been behind the deaths of the CEO and her secretary and helicopter pilot, Willie and his family, and several Fillmore-Graves soldiers both throughout the season and at Major’s “going away” party. So, they aren’t exactly to be trusted when they are willing to kill their own people to get what they want.

Meanwhile, Blaine has become one of the most complicated and interesting characters on the show. Lounge singer “cuddly Blaine” who has an affair with Payton, I actually quite liked. I felt bad for him when Payton rejected him, especially as by then we know about his past and the physical, mental, verbal, and other abuse inflicted on him by his father and the world’s worst nanny.

Don E also has grown up a bit – running The Scratching Post is clearly all he wants. He has no desire to franchise out, or expand (like both Blaine’s father and Blaine himself would like to do). Don E is happy being a big fish in a small pond, which is an admirable trait. He also shows a strange sense of loyalty – to Blaine, to Liv and Major (covering for Major when he enters the zombie-only club as a human).

Overall, I found iZombie Season 3 to be a quick watch (I finished it last Saturday, 12/9/2017, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to type up a review). Although there were parts of season 3 that were very uncomfortible (the racist anti-zombie humans, the portrayal of Fillmore-Graves as “zombie saviors” even though they had killed several zombies to get in to power, including Willie and his family, etc.), overall the show is still very, very good, and I will certainly purchase season 4 next year.

Read my Review of Season 1 of iZombie.

Read my Review of Season 2 of iZombie.

iZombie Season 2 Review (Spoilers)

  • Series Title: iZombie
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 19
  • Discs: 4 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka, Steven Weber, Leanne Lapp, Greg Finley
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

Many spoilers below for the second season of iZombie.

iZombie Season 2 opens with a couple episodes designed to remind the audience of the plot. Additionally, the first two brains that Liv consumes are of “asshole victims” – so the audience has no sympathy for them. Liv Moore is a Zombie, having been scratched by a Zombie at the world’s worst boat party. She now works in the morgue, for access to brains, with Ravi – the only person at the start of the season who knows she’s a zombie. Liv also works with Clive Babineaux, a Seattle PD detective who thinks her insights to his cases come from psychic visions. Since eating brains allows Liv to absorb the personality of the brain she’s just consumed and to experience visions of what the person experienced, Clive is somewhat correct about the visions part. The first few episodes of the season fall in to a regular pattern – Clive is called to a homicide, Liv and Ravi respond as well, the body’s taken to the morgue, there’s a curiously yummy montage of Liv preparing the brain to eat (these are surprisingly yummy – substitute beef, chicken, or tofu for the brains and Liv’s recipes would probably be *good*) and Liv uses her visions and personality changes to help Clive solve the murder. But about episode 9 or 10 the series focuses more and more on the continuing storyline and how each character fits in and changes.

About episode 9 or 10 – Payton returns. Payton is Liv’s old roommate who found out at the end of the first season that Liv was a Zombie – she freaked out and left Seattle. Back in town, Payton is now a District Attorney, who is trying to make a case against Mr. Boss – the kingpin of Seattle’s mafia. Very quickly Blaine becomes her star witness and the two also become involved. Payton lives with Ravi and Major for awhile, briefly gets her own apartment, then moves back in with Liv.

Blaine, last year’s “Big Bad” is now running Shady Plots funeral home – mostly as a front to get brains to sell to Seattle’s zombies, and as a front for selling Utopium. That is, until Mr. Boss gets wind of his trying to muscle in on the lucrative Utopium trade. Blaine has two lackies, a mute, giant zombie, called “Chief”, – and Don E – a ambitious low-level drug dealer who eventually is turned into a zombie (by his own choice). Blaine also has a very difficult relationship with his abusive father. Blaine walks in to Payton’s office one day and offers to give her all the inside information she could ever want to make a case against Mr. Boss. Blaine’s mostly doing this to get rid of the competition. Blaine’s life (he’s also now cured of his zombie-ism) is going fine – his cover as a “businessman” running Shady Plots is working. Payton’s office will give him immunity for any old crimes, mostly related to drugs, in return for his information and testimony, and Blaine is making money from selling Utopium and brains. However, Ravi discovers the zombie cure is temporary – eventually it will wear off, and be followed by death. Ravi makes a second cure, but, again, is unable to fully test it before giving a syringe of it to Blaine. Later, after first reverting to zombie-form, Blaine becomes convinced he’s dying. He takes the cure and becomes a total amnesiac.

Major Lilywhite also is human again, thanks to Liv giving him the cure. He’s in the same position as Blaine, though, he will eventually become a zombie again. He gets some work as a personal trainer, but is also hired by Max Rager – there, he is blackmailed into tracking down zombies and killing them. Vaughn, the head of the Max Rager company has a list of 322 suspected zombies. He blackmails Major into killing the zombies, or Liv will die. At first, Major kills the people he finds out were actual zombies (he can now literally sense a nearby zombie). However, Major’s conscious kicks in, so he starts telling Vaughn that the suspects aren’t zombies. When that doesn’t work – Major knocks out the zombies with drugs, then drops them in a freezer. Later, Major also reverts to being a zombie.

Clive, besides working on the weekly murders, gets a new partner, a female FBI agent who is looking in to the “Chaos Killer” serial murders. Major’s crimes have not gone unnoticed, and as the case is thought to involve kidnappings – the FBI starts to investigate. Clive also very gradually starts to fall for the FBI agent.

At the beginning of the season Liv and Major get back together romantically, but as they cannot have sex without Major becoming a zombie – Liv eventually sets him free. Liv also has a roommate briefly, before Payton returns – but Rita is actually a Max Rager executive who is keeping tabs on her. Rita also has a brief affair with Major who later dumps her. And Rita turns out to be Vaughn’s daughter.

Much of the season has Ravi trying to find a cure – first he needs a sample of the tainted Utopium that caused zombism in the first place. He briefly gets a sample from Blaine – but it’s destroyed. Once he gets a new sample – it causes severe issues. Given to a zombie it kills them, turning the zombie to dust. Batch two causes the newly-human former zombie to be a complete amnesiac. Also, Ravi and Liz seem to think it was only the tainted Utopium that caused people to become zombies, forgetting about the Max Rager energy drink being part of the equation (or it’s never really mentioned).

After giving up Major, Liv starts dating Drake, one of Blaine’s lackies – but he’s also working for Mr. Boss – but he’s also an undercover vice cop. Unfortunately, Liv had dumped him when she found out he worked for Mr. Boss, before discovering he was a cop from the Drake’s mother. Major, meanwhile, sees his name on the list, and knocks him out and freezes him.

The conclusion of the season is, wow – but very violent. In a season where more and more and more people find out that Liv is a zombie, and more people in general find out that zombies exist in Seattle, it seems for awhile that Det. Clive Babineaux is the only one who doesn’t know what is going on. He finds out in the penultimate episode. Major is arrested for the the “chaos killer” murders – creating a extremely dangerous situation because he’s trapped in jail without proper food so to speak. Clive, after discovering Liv is a zombie, scuttles the case against Major, getting him released (and destroying his relationship with the FBI agent). Liv, Major, and Clive resolve to break in to the secret lab at Max Rager to release Liv’s zombie boyfriend, Drake, and all the others that have been taken from Major’s storage facility. It does not go well.

The final episode is utter, bloody chaos. Zombies escape the lab, attacking the Max Rager employees locked in to a prison-themed “Super Max” party. Meanwhile, Vaughn has sold his company, including the secret lab and all the zombie research within to a private military contractor. Vaughn’s daughter, Rita, is also turned into a zombie – and Vaughn imprisons her in the basement, which makes her very angry indeed. Although Drake dies – many of the intelligent zombies are released, while the more violent “romeros” are killed off (it’s a bloody episode). Major ends up trapped in a room of recovering intelligent zombies who remember him as the guy who knocked them out and froze them. Liv discovers the woman running the military contracting company is a zombie who plans to make Seattle the capital of Zombie Nation.

The second season of iZombie is as good if not better than the first. The first few episodes remind viewers very effectively of the plot and actually even create a good starting point if the viewer hadn’t seen season 1. Although the first few episodes seem to be heading in a formulaic direction, about episode 9 or 10 the series focuses more on the continuing storyline and less on weekly murder-of-the-week procedural stories. This draws in the viewer. Each of the characters experiences a great deal of change. And Clive finally is told the truth. I like this series a lot and I highly recommend it.

Plead read my iZombie Season 1 Review as well.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Breakfast at Tyranny’s

  • Title: Breakfast at Tyranny’s
  • Author: Nick Abadzis
  • Artists: Giorgia Sposito, Valeria Favoccia, Arianna Florean, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  Tenth Doctor (Year 3 – “Facing Fate”, Vol. 1)
  • Characters: Tenth Doctor, Gabby Gonzales, Cindy Wu, Anubis (“Noobis”)
  • Collection Date: 2017
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/08/2017

I absolutely love the title of this volume of Titan Comics Doctor Who original graphic novel adventure for the Tenth Doctor (as played on the BBC series by David Tennant), Breakfast at Tyranny’s, however the title really has little to do with the actual stories. Still, it’s a great title. This is the opening volume of the Third Year of Titan’s Tenth Doctor series, yet they have changed the numbering so rather than having it officially as Volume 8 as it should be, it’s “Facing Fate vol. 1”, which, I’m guessing will be the theme for Year Three.

The story opens with the main characters back in their old lives. Gabby is working as a waitress at her family’s restaurant, where she experiences the daily abuse of being in customer service. Cindy and her “dog”, Anubis, are also back home where Cleo starts a relationship with her that revolves around a lot of shopping. And the Doctor wakes homeless and alone on the streets, with no companions and no TARDIS. It’s Cindy who discovers the mysterious “department store” is the center of this cruel illusion and wakes up. With mental encouragement from Anubis (“Noobis”) she wakes in an Axon-like spaceship and breaks free of the loop where she is being held captive and drained of her energy. She returns to the illusion to break out Cindy, Anubis, and the Doctor. Although they break free of the illusion then escape the strange, organic spaceship, when they return to Anubis’s home, they learn from the Seekers they were only gone a few moments. The organic spaceship, which looks like a Red Tardis escapes, grabbing Cindy with a Lovecraftian tentacle.

The Doctor, Gabby, and Cindy follow in the Doctor’s TARDIS, and after an accidental Time Ram they land in Ancient China. But the alien Red Jade General landed months earlier. Arriving after a devastating flood, he offers to build a wall to prevent the river from causing such destruction again. Unfortunately for the people, they do not realize the high cost of trusting this General. When the Doctor and company arrive, a dam has been built to hold back the river, the town is behind the wall but isolated from the rest of the country, meaning friends and relatives from the next town over can’t see their friends and family any more. The dam is also guarded by personifications of elemental forces.

The Doctor and his companions meet Master Wu and his son. Much of the second story is framed as a story that Master Wu Wei tells his son. Master Wu recognizes the Doctor, and before long they have organized the families of the people in the village to attack the Guardians. Anubis assists Gabby who uses her ability to create block transfer butterflies to enter the isolated town. The villagers, with the Doctor’s help, defeat the Guardians. Gabby finds a building and searches for Cindy. She finds hundreds of Cindy Clones, whom she stirs up in rebellion. Eventually she finds “the original”, “mother”, Cindy.

By this time, the Doctor also gets in after Gabby opens the door, and the Doctor and company confront the Red Jade General. It turns out that the Red Jade General is from a Nestene Conscience-type race, who can manipulate organic matter rather than plastic. Unfortunately, it used the residents of the town as raw material to create the Cindy clones. The Doctor is able to defeat the Red Jade General and destroy it’s fake TARDIS, then he and his companions leave in the TARDIS.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel volume, especially the second story set in Ancient China. The artwork for both stories was wonderful, especially the washed, scroll-like pages for the second story. I highly recommend “Breakfast at Tyranny’s”, and will look forward to future volumes.