Ramblings (Blog)

Batman v. Superman. It’s not a great title, is it? In fact, it doesn’t get a hell of a lot better when you add the subtitle Dawn of Justice. Nevertheless, I find the idea of Bats versus Supes interesting. Oh, not in how it plays out on the big screen. Every crossover comic ever has a scene where the two main characters duke it out for a bit, and then realise that they’re really on the same side. Daredevil/Batman? Check. Punisher/Batman? Check. JLA/Avengers? Yarp. If there’s a winner, it’s normally a foregone conclusion (Hulk vs. Iron man in Avengers: Age of Ultron, anyone?) so there’s never any real dramatic tension to be had. Without drama, you’re really just judging one fight scene against another, and such fight scenes almost always feel disconnected from the rest of the story because, by their nature, they’re contrived as hell. No, the Bats versus Supes idea I’m interested in is the one that plays out in the real world. Batman and Superman are two of DC’s ‘Trinity’ (the third member being the oft-overlooked Wonder Woman). It’s a grouping that’s served DC well for decades, even to the point that Marvel had a crack at […]
Last week, I posted on Facebook about the release of Frostgrave: Tales from the Frozen City – a short story anthology to which I contributed. I also mentioned that it contained a story by a writing hero of mine, David A. McIntee. He’s a writer who’s turned his hand to plenty of different works over the years, but I know him through his entries in the Missing Adventures and New Adventures lines of Doctor Who novels. ‘Writing hero’ isn’t an accolade I wave around much. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m a grumpy bastard, and see the flaws much more readily than I acknowledge the shiny. I reckon it’s therefore worth explaining why I make an exception here. Hard to believe now, but there was a time when Doctor Who wasn’t popular. By the end of the eighties, after years of steadily decreasing budgets (I remember reading that by the time Sylvester McCoy’s final season rolled around, one episode of Red Dwarf had a bigger budget than an entire fourteen episode series of Doctor Who. I can’t verify that claim, but I believe it.) and other woes too numerous to list  here, the BBC finally cancelled the series.  In […]
I didn’t read many superhero comics as a kid – you just couldn’t get hold of them where I lived. My comics were the Beano, the Dandy, and the occasional Whizzer & Chips. My only written brush with Up, Up and Away came from the weekly adventures of Bananaman, who was, so far as I can tell, never a member of the Justice League or the Avengers (although, that’s something I could see Grant Morrison changing, if ever he has the chance). Like most folk my age, my superheroes were on TV. Cartoons like Spider-man and his Amazing Friends and The Incredible Hulk. The live action Adam West Batman. And, of course, the Christopher Reeve Superman films. By the time I finally got into comics in a big way, at around the age of twenty, it was as much nostalgia and glimpses of half-remembered characters that drove me onwards. Why am I drivelling away about this? Well, for years and years after being bitten by the comic bug, I found myself having to repeat the same mantra to disbelieving family and friends: Superheroes aren’t just for kids. And it’s true. There’s a lot of darkness and emotional weight beneath the […]
Those of you who follow me on Facebook (so, three out of the four people reading this blog) will know that I was lucky enough to have a peek around some of the disused and backstairs areas of Charing Cross station this weekend just gone. I can’t claim special privilege. All told, upwards of a thousand people will have seen what I saw. Every so often, the London Transport Museum (well worth a visit in its own right) organises guided tours around abandoned/curious bits of the Underground. This time, it was Charing Cross; this time last year, it was Aldwych. The Tube’s always had a bit of a quiet fascination for me – blame the classic Doctor Who serial Web of Fear for that – so I find poking around abandoned platforms and ventilation shafts far more entertaining than I should. The timing of this trip proved particularly serendipitous, as I closed out a draft of my current novel project, Coldharbour, last Friday. Coldharbour is set in present day London – our London, not some pandimensional duplicate – which means accuracy’s important. For me, the whole point of using a familiar or iconic setting is to use it as it […]
So, End Times: Archaon is out. This post therefore contains mild spoilers. You have been warned. Archaon’s an odd book to talk about, not least because it serves as a capstone for a couple of things. First of all, well, the series is called the End Times – you do the nihilism. Secondly, Archaon was my last book for Games Workshop. (Well, the narrative half was, anyway – I haven’t written rules for ages.) Destroying the world, well, it wasn’t easy. Ulthuan, Bretonnia, Athel Loren, the Empire… They, and the world they belonged to, have been part of my life for twenty-five years, ever since I picked up a copy of Warhammer’s 3rd Edition. I’m not sure how I felt when I typed the last few words. Guilty? Possibly. It helped, of course, that it was always going to end this way – if I hadn’t written it, then someone else would have finished the story, and almost certainly in a way I wouldn’t have (writers are like that). Relieved? Definitely. I’m not really one for taking joy in watching something take shape over time. I like to see the final, tangible product of my efforts. It’s the main reason […]
Reviews for From Software’s Bloodborne are starting to pop up on the internet, and with them, an interesting pattern is emerging. Games journos are heaping praise on it like sand on a fire. Meanwhile, watchers from the sidelines are asking awkward questions like ‘But didn’t you say it’s excrutiatingly hard? How can it be a good game if the difficulty’s as well thought out as a chocolate welding mask?’ I haven’t played Bloodborne yet, and most likely won’t unless it makes the leap across to PC, but I still find it fascinating. The ‘souls’ games (Demon Souls, Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2) of which Bloodborne is a spiritual heir, are an intriguing phenomenon. On the one hand, they’re beautifully realised worlds, in a gaming genre all of their own. They offer a sense of achievement that goes beyond almost anything else I’ve played. However… They’re also glitchy as hell, full of questionable design decisions, and don’t explain themselves at all well, making death not so much a learning experience, but more of a ‘what the bloody hell did I do wrong this time?’ Where From have succeeded, intentionally or not, is by selling these failings as part of the […]
I realised this morning that I’m waaaay overdue a blog that isn’t entirely about promoting my books. No sooner did I resolve to fix this when, lo and behold, a juicy topic falls into my lap: Marvel have finally admitted they’re rebooting their comics universe later this year. For the uninitiated, this is a big deal. DC comics like to hit the reset button every five years or so – the most recent example being the New 52 range – but Marvel haven’t done this before, not really. Thing is, I’m not really going to talk about. I was going to, sure, but then I realised that I don’t have anything to say that you won’t find on a hundred other blogs at the moment. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really do well with change, and if I’m presented with it I tend to zero in on all the reasons why it’s bad – just like most of the internet. In an effort to avoid this, I’m going to go with what’s become my standard response when a big company hurls itself into remodelling a beloved IP: Better make it good, because you’ve a hell of a legacy to […]