17 Jan 2011

Review - Misfits Season 2

Misfits is a comedy/drama about a group of young offenders who are forced to perform community service when they are granted superpowers after a freak electrical storm.

By the end of Season 1, the five super-antiheroes settle their personal differences and form a bond close enough to be confused with friendship, forged through fighting against others who use their new found powers for their own dark ends.

Season 2 picks up more or less straight after Season 1, and each episode introduces a "super mystery benefactor called Super Hoodie, and how each character manages to overcome the limitations of their powers. The identity of Super Hoodie is revealed with a 'Bwah?!' moment that is both awesome and unexpected.

The characters are very well developed, and you can see their progression as the series goes on. Particularly with regards to Alisha and Simon, their changing relationships with people and their overcoming of their personal demons is well presented. Nathan, Curtis and Kelly remain pretty much the same as they were in Season 1, with the exception of one episode a piece that gives them some revelation (which they promptly seem to forget and go back to their old selves). The main strength of Misfits is that all of the characters are flawed. There is no real sense of good and evil, nor of justice. The main characters need to survive with each other as well as against the rest of the world, and so there is no time for morality.

The superpowers of the main characters as well as the villains are varied and unconventional since they all tend to focus on some character flaw with the character e.g. a man who was addicted to a Grand Theft Auto style video game is given the ability to enact scenarios within the game and gains powers associated with that game (no need for sleep or food, large amount of weapon ammo etc.) The entire mythos surrounding the show is very British and so, with the exception of the visual spectacle of seeing these superpowers in action, a lot of it may be lost on non-UK viewers. This is also one of those shows that I don't think would translate well were the US to remake it, even with a new set of characters and image. It is deeply ingrained in a British subculture and so it may not be to everyone's tastes. With an abundance of cursing, drug use, violence and sex, Misfits may be a little extreme for some, although it correctly satirizes the the stereotype of British youth culture today.

There is one plot hole at the finale (but, since it involves time travel, it can be forgiven - just), but aside from that, season 2 of Misfits surpasses the first and goes from strength to strength. I can't recommend it highly enough for UK viewers, or those familiar with British culture and television. Everyone else, well, give it a shot and you might be pleasantly surprised. Season 2 is available to purchase on DVD now [UK Only].

Also, I received the 'Welsh Star' award at the HollywoodSpy Awards (a.k.a. The Dezzies) yesterday! Whoo! Thanks to Dezmond for the awards, and for a great ceremony too!

10 Jan 2011

Review - Druids: The Ogham Sacrifice (Dalen Books)

Druids: The Ogham Sacrifice by Jean-Luc Istin, Thierry Jigourel and Jacques Lamontagne
Published by Dalen Books
Graphic Novel - 96 pages
Published September 2009
Copy loaned from library

There is turmoil in the 5th century Celtic periphery of Europe - an age of change at the end of the Roman Empire and an age of conflict between peoples and religions. Oppressed by Saxons to the east, many of the Celts of Britain have colonised Armorica in Gaul. Gwynlan, the last of the Druids, is caught in a mysterious battle for survival against the monks of the church. Accusations of depravity, murder, sacrifice and sorcery are rife, but the old gods are at hand to assist the righteous. 

The Ogham Sacrifice shows the waning of Druidic culture in favour of the gradual Christianisation of Roman Britain, and it effectively ties in a murder mystery with an overcoat of mythology and folklore. When a number of Christian monks are found decapitated and with a spike of wood through their heart, the Druids are blamed.  Druid Gwynlan and his assistant Taran are called upon to uncover the murderer, but they soon find themselves played as pawns in someone else's game.

The illustration by Lamontagne throughout the graphic novel is superb, with only a few panels looking sub par (when this happens, it happens to background characters). Action is clearly rendered and it is easy to follow the flow of the plot through the layout. The distinctive Celtic look, both in the characters and in the environment, are illustrated very well.

It is clear from the start who the antagonist is, which is a little detracting considering the murder mystery side of the story. However, this person is also a pawn, so the overall mystery is kept alive. The characterisation of Gwynlan is well put, since through his eyes you can see the pain of the recession of the Druid faith along with the xenophobia and prejudice that came with it. Istin also does a great job of peppering the story with Celtic mythology (with opposing views from the Christian monks who travel with them).

The Ogham Sacrifice is a great start to the Druids series, and it is a perfect fit for anyone interested in Celtic life and mythology, or anyone who enjoys historical graphic novels. This was one I had my eye on for a long while, but only recently I found a version in English (the original, rightly so, is written entirely in Welsh, which I can't help but think would add a little something extra when reading the story). Highly recommended if you can find it.