The Genesis of “Dan the Destructor” & the “Barbarians of the Storm” Book Series

Part I: From Idea to Comic Script to Book

*Originally posted on the Talking Pulp Press – Substack.

The final version of Dan the Destructor is very different from what it was originally intended to be and with that, the Barbarians of the Storm series is a bigger and much more refined vision of what I initially set out to do.

For those who have already read the book and know the characters, the original story that I had in my head revolved around Frank Murdock. There wasn’t a Dan, and Fenrik only came into it about halfway through, as an ally that was actually a king and married to a warrior queen (Vasilia).

For those who haven’t read the book, Frank is an important but fairly minor character in it. He’s also a decade or two older than what he would’ve been in my original idea. Although, a much closer version to that original idea is in the pipeline, as I am planning either a short story anthology or a separate series that will focus specifically on Frank’s time between his arrival in this strange world and the events of Dan the Destructor. Let me get back on topic, though.

The original concept came from my love of Italian rip-offs of the Mad Max and Conan the Barbarian movies. I was high one night, having a marathon of these sort of films, when a friend and I started discussing their origins and how we both thought it would’ve been neat if the Italians had combined the two things together in a sort of Mad Max meets Conan flick. It would have been a strange blend of those worlds but they are very similar, apart from some technological differences. However, both are barbarous, take place in a desert expanse and feature a badass hero, against all odds, doing battle with an enemy force that is much larger than himself.

The idea became something that I wanted to do in a comic book style. Initially, I wanted a four-issue miniseries, drawn in a late ‘70s/early ‘80s style and printed on newsprint, unlike comic books these days. I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this, as I wouldn’t be the artist, but I started to bullet point out what the script would be.

I sat on this idea for about a year but new things popped into my head and I ended up having more focus on Fenrik and a new character, Dan. I didn’t even know what to call Dan but I like alliteration and wanted something that worked with “Destroyer”, which itself was an homage to 1984’s Conan the Destroyer, a movie I adored as a kid.

When the COVID shit kicked off and I had a lot more free time on my hands, I cranked out the script for what was then called Dan the Destroyer. In the time since I started that script and got the final book out, though, another novel had come out with that title, so I switched it to Dan the Destructor. I actually have some press proofs of the book with the original title on them.

Getting back to the comic book script, I figured that I’d write it out as a four-issue miniseries of traditional floppy comics. I was also toying with the idea of doing it as a graphic novel, as it was my first attempt at a comic book project professionally and that seemed like a lot less of a headache.

The problem came when I was trying to find the right artist and nothing materialized and the few artists that did respond, fell off the face of the Earth or had such shitty correspondence that I knew that I didn’t want to work with them.

So, I sat on the script for another year and I’d periodically re-read it. However, each time I did, I got new ideas and I realized that it would serve the story better to flesh out some sequences, get a lot more action heavy and to speed up the pace of the storytelling. And really, this got me thinking of the pulp novels I loved as a kid, whether they were all the cool Conan and Tarzan paperbacks I’d check out at the library because of their badass covers or those Louis L’Amour western novels (also with badass covers) that my grandfather would let me read from his collection.

Through that lens, Dan the Destructor came to life for me in a way that it hadn’t before and I decided that it would be best for the story if it were written as a short, fast-paced, action-packed, buddy adventure that stayed focused on the main plot.

However, many of my ideas grew beyond just this story, so some minor world building had to be worked in. I didn’t want that to overpower or dilute the story, and based off of feedback I’ve gotten, I think I succeeded in that. Most people who have discussed the book with me, are already pretty eager to see where certain things are going to go. Honestly, as a writer, that makes me happy, as I obviously want people to enjoy the book and be left wanting more.

So this is how everything came together in regards to reaching what became the book, but I do plan to write more about this, as I wanted to discuss other influences I’ve had over the years that also contributed to what became Dan the Destructor. I figured I’d address this part of the book’s creation process, though, as it’s the question I seem to get the most.

Part II: Discussing Influences – Television & Film

*Originally posted on the Talking Pulp Press – Substack.

Just as I was turning 5 years-old, there was one thing that was released upon the world that was bigger than everything else combined. That thing was the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon. To say that it captivated me, is the understatement of the century.

I watched the show constantly and I wanted every single toy, which wasn’t possible on my mother’s budget. However, she did buy me a lot more Masters of the Universe merchandise than she could probably afford.

So, while I already discussed how I came up with the concept for what became Dan the Destructor, I can’t dismiss all the other things that had a large enough effect on me to actually influence and seep into the creative process of developing and writing the book and its future sequels.

Masters of the Universe was huge for me, and even though I moved on to G.I. JoeTransformersStar Wars, and other franchise that weren’t too close to the sword & sorcery aesthetic, it still served as the foundation to a lot of what I would like in entertainment, going forward.

Other animated shows that I loved, that were also very fantasy based, were the Dungeons & Dragons animated series and ThunderCats. Additionally, He-Man had a spinoff featuring his sister called She-Ra: Princess of Power, and even though that was geared more towards girls in how the toy line differed, I still loved the show and I also had some of those dolls “action figures”.

As I got older, though, I was completely engrossed by the badass action films of the time. I discovered Conan the BarbarianThe Road WarriorBeastmaster, and so many others that blew my little kid mind. Many of them I probably shouldn’t have seen at the age that I was, but the ‘80s were a different time and for a parent to deny their ‘80s kids these cultural landmarks would’ve exposed them to the other kids as “pussies”, “dorks” and “dweebs”.

Besides, we always found ways to watch the things our parents didn’t want us to. For me, I had my friend Brian, a few doors down, and when I was staying with my dad, there was Greg, across the street, whose father dubbed every movie the video store had.

By the late ‘80s, my dad was pretty cool about letting me watch a lot of R-rated action flicks. This is when I discovered the greatness of the Cannon Films library from the American Ninja movies, the Ninja trilogy of films, all the Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme epics, and so many others. My dad also showed me cooler, hipper and funnier action flicks like the Lethal WeaponBeverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs. franchises.

While action films like these might not seem like they influenced Dan the Destructor on the surface of what they appear to be, it was their fast-paced style, witty dialogue, and in the case of the ‘80s buddy cop action/comedies, it was that buddy element that worked its way into the relationship between Dan and Fenrik and how it evolves over the story.

I also have to talk about my general love of adventure stories and how spoiled I was with those in the ‘80s from the Indiana Jones movies, their many knockoffs, and also a lot of the cheaper sword & sorcery flicks that were pretty prevalent and not just the ones from Italy, Spain and Argentina. Some of this influence also came from my mom, as she loved watching things like Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile.

This probably all seems like a lot, but as I wrote the book and these things subconsciously worked their way in, I wasn’t initially aware of it. It wasn’t until I started proofreading the book, as a full body of work, that I could see these specific influences and where they were coming from, which I found to be kind of neat.

I initially set out to make a mash up of Italian Conan and Mad Max rip-offs. What I ended up creating was a smorgasbord of a lot of my influences, but I do like how it all came together. It wasn’t what I intended to do, it just kind of happened. At the same time, I don’t think that Dan the Destructor is overly derivative or overstuffed by pulling bits and pieces from so many very different things.

The reason I even share all of this, is that I want to be transparent about where my ideas and influences come from. I think it’s important and writers should probably share these things with other writers (and their fans), especially for those who are younger and who really want to take a crack at creating their own worlds.

Plus, I always hate when successful writers pretend that everything comes from them when it’s clear that something specific inspired them at some point. Plus, our influences should be celebrated because they are the foundation we pull our inspiration from. They’re the things that shaped us into the creators that we are.

Part III: Discussing Influences – Comics & Books

*Originally posted on the Talking Pulp Press – Substack.

While I have already pointed out how the initial concept for Dan the Destructor came from the idea of what it’d be like to see Italian rip-offs of Conan and Mad Max blended together, there are a lot of other things that have helped influence me over the years.

I talked about the movies and television shows that inspired parts of the book (and budding series), but I also wanted to continue to give credit where credit is due in regards to other forms of entertainment that did their part. In this installment, I wanted to discuss comics and books.

Similarly to how the Frank Frazetta book covers for ConanTarzan, and the Pellucidar series blew my little mind when I saw them on bookshelves, so did the painted covers for the comic book magazine The Savage Sword of Conan. In fact, it blew my mind so much that I own about half of the comic’s 235 issue run from 1974 to 1995.

While I also dug the hell out of the regular Conan the Barbarian and King Conan comics, it was Savage Sword that really spoke to me because of the painted covers and how it was also much more adult in content and boasted exceptional black and white art inside. I especially loved the issues done by Barry Windsor-Smith.

When I was writing Dan the Destructor and decided that I needed to beef the story up with a few more monster battles, I found myself flipping through my issues of The Savage Sword of Conan, where I found inspiration. In fact, many issues gave me some ideas for encounters in the next few books.

Beyond my adoration for Savage Sword, I also loved the Solomon Kane and Red Sonja comics that Marvel put out in their original runs. The Solomon Kane material that was printed in black and white magazine format is incredible and frankly, some of the best stuff that Marvel Comics ever produced, especially outside of their standard superhero material.

As for Red Sonja, more than seeing her in a chainmail bikini, I always loved her spirit and how badass she was. There was something believable in her ability to fight bigger men, bigger beasts and find ways to survive through her drive, fierceness, savagery and cunning. Even at about seven years-old, I’m pretty sure I was saying to myself, “Damn, that’s wifey material, bruh.”

There are other comics that used to peak my interest in a similar way as well. I liked whenever Marvel did their Weirdworld stuff, and I wish that they would’ve explored that territory more. I also liked those ‘80s Dungeons & Dragons and Dragonlance comics.

One specific character that captivated the hell out of me is Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. Magik of the New Mutants. My love for her was born out of the cover of the fourth issue of her original miniseries, Storm and Illyana: Magik.

The story and art in that miniseries was just so cool and I reread the four-issue miniseries almost quarterly for several years. My love of Magik and all the things hellish that were tied to her character, propelled me into being a massive New Mutants fan. I also loved everything that led into and was tied to the X-Men mega crossover event, Inferno. Illyana’s influence will probably be felt greatly in a character that is debuting in my second book.

Moving beyond comics, if I wasn’t reading Find Your Fate books for G.I. Joe and Indiana Jones, I was reading a lot of fantasy. In many cases, these books were the sword & sorcery novels that featured Frazetta art, be they books by Robert E. Howard or novels from a plethora of other authors.

It was always Frazetta’s art that sold me on books, though, as I honestly was too young to really know how much of the art I saw was from one guy. Anything that kind of captured that same sort of energy, usually meant that I was going to give it a shot, though.

It was this kind of art that inspired me to pickup a Kull book for the first time, and even though it was written by Howard and featured a character that one could easily mistake for Conan, Kull was very different and it made me realize that not all “barbarian” characters had to be the same. One thing that I wanted to make sure with my barbarian character, Fenrik, is that he wasn’t a carbon copy of Conan or what people assume is a somewhat generic archetype.

In more recent years, I’ve found myself influenced by authors who themselves were influenced by Robert E. Howard. Yet these are writers that produced very different heroes and with that, inspired me as well. These are authors like Michael Moorcock, Charles R. Saunders, Karl Edward Wagner and Fritz Leiber.

I should also point out that I was greatly influenced by other writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft, Andre Norton, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Jules Verne. I’m pretty sure all of them have already influenced things that have come out of my brain and made it into print.

Part IV: Discussing Influences – Pinball & Video Games

Growing up when I did, it’d be hard to not be lured in by the flashing lights and cool electronic noises of the pinball machines and video games of the time. Whenever my mum went shopping at the mall, I was in the video arcade spending her money, one quarter at a time. However, I made a pretty good friend in the arcade manager and he used to give me quarters after I ran out. While he probably wasn’t the best manager because of that, he’s had half a lifetime’s worth of appreciation from me, whenever I look back on his kind and awesome deeds.

Honestly, though, I think he knew that my mum didn’t have a lot of money and he was a bit smitten with her. But whatever, he was cool and he constantly gave me great movie recommendations, as well. I hope he’s still alive, well and happy.

There were three pinball machines that I remembered playing all the time, and funnily enough, they were adorned with badass sword & sorcery style art, which is what drew me to them in the first place. They were GorgarLost World, and Catacomb. The only one I’ve played in recent years is Gorgar, but I would actually like to own all three machines if I’m ever financially able to. Plus, I need a house but the current real estate market in Florida is making that exceptionally difficult, right now.

I think that Gorgar had the biggest effect on me, though, as it has given me inspiration in the book I’m writing now. Plus, I own a replica of the scoreboard, which sits next to me at work, along with the scoreboard from the Creature From the Black Lagoon pinball machine.

Beyond pinball, I played video games and I leaned more into them as I got older and they got better.

When it came to arcade games, there were truly awesome ones like the Golden Axe series, the Gauntlet series, Altered Beast, and this bizarre fantasy fighting game I liked called Hippodrome. Man, I sucked ass at Hippodrome.

As far as console games at home, I was captivated by the first two Legend of Zelda games. However, it was the Dragon Warrior series that consumed most of my time, overall. And there are definitely things about the Dragon Warrior games that stuck with me, especially in regards to long, epic adventures and monsters.

These are just a few of the fantasy games that I played but they’re the ones that stand out the most and that I still think about. When I started writing the chapter that featured the dragon-men in Dan the Destructor, in my head, they resembled the dragon form that the player can take in Altered Beast. And since my brain settled on that physical look, it’s kind of hard to shake. Although, I did give them golden scales like King Ghidorah from the Godzilla franchise, so they are an amalgamation of those two things.

Part V: Conclusion

In the end, I honestly don’t mind sharing what my influences are and I wish more authors would do the same, instead of just acting like it all just came from them or in some cases, flat out denying that they borrowed from something obvious. It’s impossible not to be influenced by things you love, especially when writing pulpy fiction.

I think that the real magic of writing is how these things are processed and eventually come out on the page in a way that works. Besides, if things create wonder in your mind and your spirit, why wouldn’t you want to let it inspire you and hopefully others through your work?

Talking Pulp: Some of the Social Media Marketing for “Dan the Destructor” – Phase Two

*Originally posted on the Talking Pulp Press – Substack.

I figured that I’d post some of the GIFs and posts I’ve made to promote the first book in the Barbarians of the Storm series. Mainly, because those here, probably don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

So with that, BEHOLD!

Talking Pulp: Some of the Social Media Marketing for “Dan the Destructor” – Phase One

*Originally posted on the Talking Pulp Press – Substack.

I figured that I’d post some of the GIFs and posts I’ve made to promote the first book in the Barbarians of the Storm series. Mainly, because those here, probably don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

So with that, BEHOLD!

Talking Pulp: The Quest for Art in the “Barbarians of the Storm” Book Series

*Originally posted on the Talking Pulp Press – Substack.

I have been struggling with the art for the Barbarians of the Storm series.

Ideally, I want the book covers to reflect the energy and style of the books that made me fall in love with pulp paperbacks when I was a kid in the ‘80s. Those books were predominantly sword & sorcery reprints from the ‘70s that featured Frank Frazetta art or the art of other great fantasy artists that just knew how to capture, for lack of a better word, epicness.

This is what I would like for my book covers and I’d actually like to have an artist that I can work with for a long time, as I plan to do a lot of books in this series. There will be the main series and its dozen or more books, several character specific short story anthologies, and spinoffs that explore this universe in different times and places. I want all of the book covers to be consistent in style and quality.

Leading up to the publishing of the first book, Dan the Destructor, I had two different artists, whose work I liked, but they flaked out on me. Because I had my own deadlines set, I had to come up with my own cover on a whim. Good thing I’m an artist too, otherwise I would’ve been screwed and incredibly delayed.

The thing is, I’m not the type of artist that I actually need and while I’m okay with Dan the Destructor’s cover, it still isn’t what I ultimately want. However, if I don’t find someone before the next book is ready to go to print, I’m probably going to do the covers myself and keep the same sort of aesthetic because for obvious reasons, I want branding to be consistent.

Even though I’m a creative director, as my day job, finding the right type of artists can be a real bitch. Especially, when you’re looking for art in a style that’s kind of dead. When I give examples and explain the type of art I’m looking for, I am immediately bombarded with sales pitches on social media with art that is pretty much the antithesis of what I’m looking for: low-tier Tumblr cartoonish manga mixed with those Homies toys that come from gumball machines. The fact that they pitch me this kind of art with added cockiness is baffling to me, considering that they were oblivious to the actual art examples I gave in the first place.

Beyond the covers, though, I also need maps for the books. So I’m looking for someone with some cartography skills. I have chicken scratch maps already drawn in my notebook, but I really want something much better than what I can do, which means I need someone with experience in this realm.

Additionally, I also need someone that can do simple character and conceptual sketches, as these are things I’d like to use for reference, promotion, visual aid on Substack and social media, as well as for the eventual wiki-style website where I plan to have organized character profiles, info, etc.

But wait, there’s more! I have a lot of ideas for different types of merchandise that I want to develop that ties to the series. Granted, I need to get the series rolling and the books in front of people first. This is more of a long-term objective but I’m already thinking of some shirts to make, at the very least.

In a perfect world, it’d be great to find someone that can do all of these things. I’m looking at the work of a few artists, but I haven’t made a decision, as my real job has been kicking my ass and the rest of my time has been devoted to getting the second book going.

However, if you do fit what I’m looking for, hit me up. Worst-case scenario, I may just take another creative director friend of mine’s advice and try out a couple people on Fiverr.

Talking Pulp Update (2/16/2022): Talking Pulp Press Is Live!

My new book, the first in a long series, is now out (buy it here) and my focus has switched to promoting that and working on its first sequel, as well as a short story anthology.

This has begun to monopolize my time. Also, my annoyance over WordPress shenanigans has my attention away from this blog and more focused on developing and growing what I hope is a new publishing imprint that can create and distribute a lot of stories I love.

I’ve launched Talking Pulp Press, which is currently where I’m at on Substack. It’s main purpose, for now, is to chronicle the creation of my Barbarians of the Storm book series, as well as some future anthologies featuring other genre fiction writers.

I’m also planning on releasing books with some of my writing on film, most of which has been featured on this site.

For now, you can find me here on Substack.

As far as this blog goes, I don’t plan on nuking it. In fact, when things are moving at a normal pace and I have some balance and more free time, I think that this blog will get rolling again. I just don’t know when that will be.

Comic Review: Daredevil – Epic Collection: Heart of Darkness

Published: September 20th, 2017
Written by: Ann Nocenti, Mike Baron, Gerry Conway, Gregory Wright
Art by: John Romita Jr., Mark Bagley, Cam Kennedy, Rick Leonardi

Marvel Comics, 482 Pages

Review:

This covers a big chunk of the Ann Nocenti run, which ends about midway through the Daredevil – Epic Collection volume after this one.

I liked this about the same as I did the previous one, which kicked off the Nocenti era.

This collection of stories is a departure from what’s typical for the Daredevil character but I like that a lot, as it makes this era stand out with the character facing off against fantastical threats and also generally being outside of Hell’s Kitchen and New York City.

The big arc at the end of this stretch brings back Blackheart, in his second story, as well as his father, the more famous and more dangerous, Mephisto. I like the whole Daredevil vs. Mephisto thing, as it is just a cool test for the hero and there’s obvious similarities.

Overall, this was a great read and it reminds me of why I fell in love with this comic, in this era.

Rating: 9/10

Film Review: The Green Knight (2021)

Release Date: July 29th, 2021 (Switzerland, Germany, Israel)
Directed by: David Lowery
Written by: David Lowery
Based on: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by anonymous
Music by: Daniel Hart
Cast: Dev Patel, Ralph Ineson, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Erin Kellyman, Patrick Duffy (voice)

Sailor Bear, BRON Studios, A24, 130 Minutes

Review:

“[as the Queen’s voice overlaps with the Green Knight’s while she reads his letter] Oh, greatest of kings, indulge me in this friendly Christmas game. Let whichever of your knights is boldest of blood and wildest of hearts step forth, take up arms and try with honor to land a blow against me. Whomsoever nicks me shall lay claim to this my arm. Its glory and riches shall be thine. But… thy champ must bind himself to this: should he land a blow, then one year and Yuletide hence, he must seek me out yonder to the Green Chapel six nights to the north. He shall find me there and bend a knee and let me strike him in return, be it a scratch on the cheek or a cut in the throat. I will return what was given me, and then in trust and friendship, we shall part. Who, then, who is willing to engage with me?” – Green Knight; Queen

I went into this without expectation and that’s probably the best way to see this.

This is a live-action adaptation of the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It’s a story I always enjoyed, which I first discovered when I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of it. There are other translations but it was the Tolkien one that I first discovered and experienced and it’s probably the only version I’ll ever revisit, unless someone can sell me on another one.

This is also the first adaptation of the poem in decades, at least that I am aware of. I saw the one with Sean Connery, years ago, and thought it was pretty weak. This version, was far superior to that one and what I just experienced is one of the best traditional fantasy motion pictures that I’ve seen in quite some time.

Dev Patel plays Sir Gawain and I thought he was fantastic. He’s also one hell of a strikingly good looking man. With that, he has the sort of regal and manly visage that made him look like he belonged at the table with King Arthur. In the story, he even gets to wield Excalibur for his first confrontation with the mythic Green Knight.

Patel truly carries this film on his back. Granted, he is backed up by a pretty talented cast. I especially liked Sean Harris as Arthur.

The film is very melodic and dreamlike. I wouldn’t say that it moves slow, it just enchants you, puts you in a strange trance and then pulls you along on this adventure. It works well and I liked the somewhat relaxed pacing, as you kind of need to marinate in the different sequences and take in the dialogue, the emotion and also the visually captivating cinematography.

The Green Knight feels otherworldly but it also feels familiar. As for Arthurian legends, it feels truly authentic and frankly, it’s one of the best King Arthur-related movies that I’ve ever seen.

Rating: 9/10

TV Review: Chucky (2021- )

Original Run: October 12th, 2021 – current
Created by: Don Mancini
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: characters by Don Mancini
Music by: Joseph LoDuca
Cast: Zackary Arthur, Björgvin Arnarson, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Teo Briones, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Lexa Doig, Devon Sawa, Barbara Alyn Woods, Michael Therriault

Pheidippides, David Kirschner Productions, Eat the Cat, Universal, Syfy, USA Network, 8 Episodes (so far), 45 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I’ve been a fan of every Child’s Play/Chucky film that’s ever come out and featured the Brad Dourif version of the character. All the stuff that Don Mancini has done with his franchise has been solid and entertaining. I’ve loved seeing this evolve over almost thirty-five years now.

So I was a lot more enthused about this than I was the Child’s Play remake from a few years ago, despite my love of Aubrey Plaza. But like I said in that review, the doll and the concept were different enough that they shouldn’t have made it a Chucky movie, it should’ve been its own thing. And had it been, they could’ve done a killer doll crossover at some point. Hollywood is out of ideas, though. But at least someone in that town greenlit this series, regardless of the remake and how it sort of came and went then fizzled out. Are they even doing a sequel to that one? I have no idea.

Anyway, this television series picks up after the events of Cult of Chucky. With that, we revisit the interesting concepts and developments that film introduced. Making this a television series, instead of another 90 minute movie, was the best thing they could’ve done, as it gives the story enough time to explore its new creative avenues.

Just about all the characters from the past come back, as well, as that was something that Mancini started two movies ago.

The main characters in this series, however, are a group of middle school aged kids. They have their middle school aged problems and Chucky capitalizes on that in an effort to coach a kid into killing. The reason being, is that this will allow Chucky to use a new sort of voodoo magic that I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil too much of the show.

Ultimately, this is really fucking entertaining in the way that you’d expect but it also exceeded my expectations and subverted some, as well.

Obviously, you have to suspend disbelief quite a bit but if you’re able to, this is just a fun, ridiculous show with a beloved psycho.

Rating: 7.5/10

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the White Witch’ by Martin Caidin

Martin Caidin’s previous Indiana Jones book wasn’t very good and I said as much in my review of it. This one is at least a bit better but it’s still much weaker than the earliest books in the series.

This one deals with Indy teaming up with a female archeologist (nothing new there) and a Wiccan priestess. They’re hunting treasure (no surprise there) and this ties back to some of the Merlin stuff from earlier books.

In this, Merlin’s sword is one of the MacGuffins. But hey, unlike the last book, at least there are MacGuffins and Indy isn’t pretending to be James Bond fighting a cheap knockoff of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

The real problem with this, though, is that it’s dreadfully boring for the most part. These books don’t need to be over 300 pages. Frankly, they should be 150-200 page pulp novels. The reason being, the story is full of unnecessary bloat, as if the author is too in love with his own work.

I’m glad that Caidin only wrote two of these books and that this one is the last of them. He doesn’t understand the Indiana Jones franchise, the character and how the plots of these stories should be structured.

I read these books because I love the character and the movie formula so much. This offers nothing in that regard.

Rating: 5/10

TV Review: Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Era (2014-2017)

Original Run: August 23rd, 2014 – December 25th, 2017
Created by: Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, Donald Wilson
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Murray Gold
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Alex Kingston, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Maisie Williams

BBC, 40 Episodes, 45-90 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

When Peter Capaldi was originally announced as the new Doctor on a television special, I was really optimistic and pretty damned pleased with the casting.

However, despite him being great and also being a pretty perfect Doctor, his material severely lacked when compared to what Matt Smith, David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston had to work with, before him.

Initially, I liked Clara a lot. However, she got terribly annoying by the end of her run as the Doctor’s companion. She started being a know-it-all and bossing the Doctor around, teaching him lessons. It got ridiculous and frankly, killed the show and everything that was once great about it. When she left after staying incredibly too long, I thought we’d get a cool, new companion.

In came Bill, a lesbian that you knew was a lesbian from the get go, that had to play up the lesbian thing so much, it’s all you really knew about her one note character. I thought that the actress, Pearl Mackie was okay, she was just given shit for material. I don’t care that she’s a lesbian and really, most people don’t. But when that is all your character is, you’re a shitty, basic character.

In the end, Bill actually got a compelling story but by then, it was too little, too late and she was gone.

There were also only a few really good episodes in this stretch. Most of them were either awful, boring or both. Usually, it was both.

You could tell that the budget was either cut or that the showrunners just didn’t want to put in much effort anymore, as many episodes were just characters trapped on a ship, or in a base or in some other basic facility with lots of hallways and control rooms of some sort.

There were some decent concepts and characters that popped in. I liked how the epic, long-running River Song story wrapped up. I also liked everything associated with Maisie Williams’ recurring character. However, these high spots were too far and few between and most of Capaldi’s run felt like monotonous filler.

However, things would only get exponentially worse once he left and we got the next Doctor.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: The Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors’ runs.