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epic 2018 preview the movies, TV, books and comics THAT’LL DEFINE YOUR YEAR



No.1 sci-fi magazine


jodie whittaker Introducing doctor 13

24-page doctor who special

time’s up!

“He isn’t dying. The Doctor is carrying on” Steven Moffat in the definitive exit interview

Peter Capaldi on the end of an era David Bradley on being The First Doctor All you need to know about Jodie Whittaker’s Time Lord


Red Alert Jan 2018


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James Wan directed the first Insidious, before helming The Conjuring, Fast And Furious 8 and the upcoming Aquaman.

The new panto got up close and personal.


HAUNTED BY THE PAST Director Adam Robitel spills on Insidious: The Last Key “Elise Rainer is a superhero,” suggests director Adam Robitel. “She has this superhero ability wrapped in a sweet old lady form. It’s a fascinating character.” He’s referring to Lin Shaye’s demon-bustin’ clairvoyant and hero of the paranormal jump-fest that is the Insidious franchise. In new fourth instalment The Last Key, things take a personal turn when Robitel sends Elise on her most terrifying case yet, one that will reopen old wounds and take her deeper into the ghostly realm of The Further. “We pick up about a month or two after

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chapter three,” Robitel tells Red Alert. “Elise gets a call from her hometown and her very dark past. She certainly doesn’t want to take the call and go back to these powerfully painful memories but of course she’s always there to help, so against her better judgement she takes the job and heads back to New Mexico ultimately to help a man who’s being haunted.” With Elise reluctantly returning to her childhood haunts, it’s not long before she discovers this new evil runs a little deeper than anything she’s previously encountered. “Her father was very abusive,” says Robitel on Elise’s

troubled past. “He was a correctional officer at a massive prison and he was a God-fearing man. Elise exhibited gifts early in her life and those psychic abilities really scared her father. At a very early age there was this rift.” All this negative energy certainly doesn’t go unnoticed by a new spirit that puts Elise’s supernatural superpowers to the test. “If the Lipstick Demon and the Bride in Black are minor demons, this is a major demon,” says Robitel, stacking The Last Key’s threat against Elise’s previous adversaries. “It’s got abilities that some of the other entities may not have

Red Alert Jan 2018


had,” he adds, before hinting it may have also played a pivotal role during Elise’s formative years. “There’s an atrocity that this particular demon commits and it’s really the crystallisation of the Elise we know in the present. From rocky beginnings comes this person who will spend the rest of her life helping others who are less fortunate.” To defeat this new evil, Elise will have to once again delve into the haunted afterlife world of The Further. “We kept coming back to this idea of a prison, keys and locks,” says Robitel of scripting the movie with screenwriter and series creator Leigh Whannell. “That became the idea behind this version of The Further. It’s a little deeper than we’ve gone before and it’s a metaphor for limbo. We’re imprisoned by ideas, we’re imprisoned by our secret desires and we’re imprisoned by The Further. At its core, the movie is about self-acceptance and empowerment, even in the face of a hatred from somebody who loves you.” As for whether Elise will live to solve another case? “Well I couldn’t imagine an Insidious movie without Lin Shaye so I’ll just say that,” he smiles, “Lin’s character is so beloved that people just want to go on journeys with her – and death is not the end as we know it in the Insidious movies...” Fingers crossed.

aerial assault SCI-FI TV ROUND UP

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Rupert Grint

FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK There’s a book called Rant by Chuck Palahniuk – he’s the guy who wrote Fight Club and I really like his writing. It’s just disturbing in so many different ways. Rant is kind of an oral biography about this guy who’s quite hard to describe because there’s just so many elements to him. There’s this element of him where he leaves his hometown and goes to this kind of dystopia where the lower class are only allowed to come out at night and there’s curfews for day and night people. They do this thing called “Party Crashing” where they have these deliberate car crashes and travel through time. It sounds quite complicated but it’s an incredible book. It’s very layered in so many ways. It’s brilliant. SF/FANTASY GUILTY PLEASURE I used to like Red Dwarf, I was really into that. Just having that kind of setting for the comedy and those characters, it’s just so weird and I loved that kind of throwback to the old sci-fi programmes throughout the ’70s where the sets and the props are all really shit and stuff. I’ve always had a fascination with space travel and the planets as well, so it was something I’ve always kind of remembered. It’s a very nostalgic show. FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BINGE WATCH So many. Stuff like Stranger Things I really loved. It’s kind of the future really with the stuff that’s happening. TV’s an exciting place to be. I love film but you don’t really get an opportunity to carve out a real journey with a character. TV allows you to do that throughout. getty (2)

Marvel movies boss Kevin Feige doesn’t understand the Marvel v DC fan feud.

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Harry’s best pal reveals his genre faves...

don’t quote me

“I think it’s ridiculous... just go see cool movies. What are you fighting about?”




“What bright and shiny teeth you have!”


Insidious: The Last Key is released on 5 January.


First, some good news: Disney is developing a new Star Wars liveaction series to debut in 2019. The bad: it’ll air exclusively on Disney’s own streaming service, meaning you’ll have to take out yet another subscription. And because it’s the month for bringing massive franchises to TV streaming services, Amazon has greenlit a mega-budget series set in Middle-earth. It’ll be set before the events of The Lord Of The Rings – so that means either pre-Hobbit, or between The Hobbit and LOTR. Could this be Silmarillion: The Series? Get Out director Jordan Peele is working on a Twilight Zone reboot for CBS All Access, the home of Star Trek: Discovery. Red Dwarf creator Doug Naylor says chances of series XIII are “high to certain”, with Craig Charles adding, “We’d like to do as many as we possibly could.” A stage show is also on the cards.

Rupert Grint stars in Snatch, airing Thursdays on AMC on BT TV.

January 2018 | sfx magazine |


Jan 2018

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Nick Setchfield’s

development hell

Your monthly glimpse into Hollywood’s hoped-for future

Word up! SHAZAM!

The major players are coming together for the big screen adaptation of DC’s very own Captain Marvel (not that we can call him Captain Marvel anymore, of course – not since an ancient wizard uttered the magic word “Litigation!”). Chuck star Zachary Levi – Asgardian warrior Fandral

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in the last couple of Thor flicks – will play the hero alternately known as The World’s Mightiest Mortal and The Big Red Cheese. Asher Angel from the Disney Channel’s Andi Mack is Billy Batson, the kid with the power to transform into his caped alter-ego by yelling “Shazam!” – actually a magical acronym invoking the immortal powers of Solomon,

Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Marjorie Proops. Kingsman’s Mark Strong is on supervillain duty as the deeply sinister Dr Sivana, who’s been a mainstay of the comic books since 1940.

No, No, Seven! BOND 25

Blade Runner 2049’s Denis Villeneuve won’t be bringing the

next Bond caper to the screen. He’s too busy prepping the script for his take on Frank Herbert’s sand-blown, worm-riddled opus Dune to be recruited into Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But never shay never again, as a wise Scotsman once said. “I would love to work with Daniel and a Bond movie for me would be a treat,” Villeneuve tells The Playlist. “It’s a

Jan 2018

Illustration by Paul Cemmick

Mummy issues! DARK UNIVERSE

Is this how a universe ends – not with a bang but an embarrassed cough? After the disappointment of The Mummy producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have stepped down from their franchise-runner positions at Universal. They were chief architects of the ambitious Dark Universe initiative, set to corral the studio’s pantheon of horror icons into a Marvel-style shared cinematic reality. Despite pre-emptively announcing an entire slate of projects – Johnny Depp is the Invisible Man! (he’s not); Dwayne Johnson is the Wolfman! (he’s not); Javier Bardem is Frankenstein’s Monster! (oh, you get it) – it’s said the offices on the studio lot are now as empty and echoing as Dracula’s crypt, only red-eyed rats remaining to nibble on abandoned copies of Variety… No word on whether the studio will retool the entire concept but Bill Condon’s remake of The Bride Of Frankenstein – currently undergoing rewrites – is believed to have shed all connective tissue to the Dark Universe.


There are some heavy questions in this universe. Like, what does it all mean? Why are we here? And, perhaps most crucially, what exactly goes on inside the mind of a sewer-skulking psycho-demon

Rian will do amazing also things with blank burning the canvas of this new trilogy Lupita Nyong’o joining Australian zombie comedy Little Monsters… Sam Mendes dropping out of Disney’s live action Pinocchio… Shawn Levy in talks to direct lunar colony tale Crater… Wonder Woman 2 moves to 1 November 2019… Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown orbiting The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair… Olivia Thirlby starring in Shadow Girl, directed by Claudia Myers… Sam Claflin and Chloë Grace Moretz voicing indie animation Red Shoes & The 7 Dwarfs… Jon Hamm joining tundra-set supernatural thriller Off Season… Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer directing the Pet Sematary remake… Eli Roth producing indie horror Haunt… Hilary Swank starring in post-apocalyptic SF thriller I Am Mother… Millennium Media developing a new Red Sonja movie… Charles Dance aboard fantasy mystery The Book Of Vision… Tom Hanks joining robot tale Bios… Ben Mendelsohn may be the villain in Captain Marvel… Sophie Okonedo signed for Neil Marshall’s Hellboy reboot… Jason Statham v giant shark flick Meg now retitled The Meg…

clown? Pennywise actor Bill Skarsgård hopes that the sequel to this year blockbuster King adaptation will address at least one of these bogglers. “[It] might be worth exploring the psychological aspects of horror, but also maybe the sort of cosmological existence of this being,” he tells IGN. “It could be almost a surrealistic sort of psychedelic trip if you go into the mind of Pennywise. And if you’ve read the novel you know that they do actually go into his mind. Or they go into this transdimensional place, and they sort of beat him in this place.” Maybe this is the way to finally defeat the red-nosed terror of Derry. Light the jossies, spin the Syd, smoke the banana. Feel the power of mellow vibes, clown!

Vamping it up! MORBIUS

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matter of timing, I guess.” Also out: SPECTRE’s Christoph Waltz, revealing he won’t be returning as arch nemesis Blofeld for 007’s 25th mission. “I’m really sad,” he says, doubtlessly already pining for the executive perks of electrified chairs and piranha pools. “That’s the tradition, that there is a new name.” Blofeld’s been recast before, of course, but we fancy Waltz is referring to the more general tradition of casting a new name as the main antagonist. With a director, a title and sinister, silky mastermind still TBC, the next Bond movie has 8 November 2019 in its cross-hairs.

Sony continues to weave its dedicated Spider-Man movie universe. The latest supporting player plucked from the webslinger’s chorus line and shot into the big time is Morbius, the Living Vampire. First seen in The Amazing Spider-Man #101, way back in 1971, he’s a scientist whose experimental cure for a rare blood disease infects him with a strain of vampirism that grants superhuman strength and the power of flight, as well as an anti-social thirst for human blood. The screenplay’s by Power Rangers pair Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama, no strangers to the undead given they also have a credit on Dracula Untold, more commonly known as Dracula Unwatched. The Morbius movie joins fellow Sony Spidey-projects Venom and Silver And Black, set

to unite Black Cat and Silver Sable. J Jonah Jameson: Rise To Glory is surely only a matter of time.

Bakula the future? QUANTUM LEAP

Oh, boy… Veteran TV showrunner Donald P Bellisario is aiming to resurrect his high-concept hit from the early ’90s. “I just finished writing a Quantum Leap feature,” he tells Entertainment Weekly, while peering at a stranger’s face in the mirror. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with it, but I did write it. I write things exactly the same way. I just start writing and I let them take me wherever it’s going to take me. I’m entertained the same way the audience is. So I just put Scott [Bakula] and Dean [Stockwell] in my head, kind of rebooted them, and went from there.” Running for just under 100 episodes between 1989 and 1993, Quantum Leap saw its time-lost hero Dr Sam Beckett flung into different bodies on a weekly basis, frequently at crucial historical moments. Just imagine the moment he finds himself tweeting on the Presidential account…

Expanding galaxy! STAR WARS

Just how much Star Wars can reality handle before exploding into a billion Yoda Pez dispensers? We may be about to find out. The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has inked a deal with Lucasfilm to develop a brand new trilogy of adventures, one that will exist beyond the core nine-movie saga of the Skywalker clan. He’ll write and direct at least the first of the new movies, set to “explore a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.” And given just how much Star Wars lore is out there, that’s a pretty courageous mission statement… “We all loved working with Rian on The Last Jedi,” says High Priestess of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy. “He’s a creative force, and watching him craft The Last Jedi from start to finish was one of the great joys of my career. Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy.” January 2018 | sfx magazine |


the unmissable 2018 preview Kitty’s got claws! Black Panther goes up against Erik Killmonger.

Here they come! Josh Winning beholds the ten must-see films looming on the blockbuster horizon Fighting tooth and claw... “Just because a person was elected doesn’t mean everybody agrees with the things he’s FeB going to do,” muses Chadwick Boseman, hinting that his solo outing as Black Panther could result in the most timely Marvel movie yet. After debuting in Captain America: Civil War, Panther’s getting his own movie, which is set in his home nation of Wakanda, where he’s just taken the throne – but it’s far from happily ever after. With a world war on the horizon, Panther must learn what it takes to become a leader while uniting with all-female strike force the Dora Milaje against maniacal insurgent Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan).


Labour of love A fairytale horror story that’s also a response to Trump’s “Make America Great” campaign, FeB Guillermo del Toro’s latest has earned raves on the festival circuit, where it’s been lauded as his best since Pan’s Labyrinth. Sally Hawkins stars as the mute janitor at a research centre, where she befriends an amphibious humanoid (Doug Jones) who’s being held captive. Cue what could be one of the year’s most affecting love stories. “It’s important that we choose love over fear, because love is the answer,” says del Toro. Get ready for wall-to-wall emotion.


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Sally Hawkins falls for a fish in The Shape Of Water.

Michael Shannon plays the cruel Colonel Richard Strickland.

the unmissable 2018 preview

From ballerina to crocodile dentist, Natalie Portman has great range. The VR headset turned out to just be a blindfold.

dreamgirls “Very weird and very beautiful” is how Oscar Isaac describes this sci-fi adaptation from FeB director/writer Alex Garland, with whom he previously teamed on Ex Machina. No kidding. Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel (the first in the Southern Reach trilogy), Annihilation follows a group of four female scientists – Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez – as they head into an “environmental disaster zone” to find out what happened to the husband of Portman’s character. “[They find] a very strange, dream-like, surrealist landscape,” reveals Garland, while VanderMeer has likened the story to the weirder aspects of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Where do we sign up?


Back to the future! Better brush up on your ’80s trivia before submerging yourself in Steven Spielberg’s mar action-packed ode to popular culture. Based on Ernest Cline’s bestseller, Ready Player One stars Tye Sheridan as a teen living in 2045, where virtual reality is now used for everything from entertainment to teaching. He teams up with Olivia Cooke’s Art3mis for a treasure hunt set by the head of the VR company’s deceased genius (Mark Rylance), and the ensuing adventure is bursting with cameos from the likes of Freddy Krueger, the DeLorean and the Iron Giant. “I hope the movie returns all of us to the awesomeness of the ’80s,” Spielberg has said. Us too.


january 2018 | sfx magazine |


doctor who steven moffat

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It’s the end – and a new beginning – but the moment has been prepared for... Delivering three Doctors for Christmas Day, a departing Steven Moffat talks past, present and future with Nick Setchfield the three doctors | sfx magazine |


doctor who david bradley

David Bradley returns to First principles as the Doctor – the original, you might say. “This is for the fans,” he tells Nick Setchfield How surprised are you to find yourself back in Doctor Who?

I’d already been sounded out about a year ago. They were wondering if I’d be onboard and I just said, “Yeah, start writing now, I’m ready!” I was onboard without seeing a script, as I was with An Adventure In Space And Time. I couldn’t wait. Even after An Adventure In Space And Time I couldn’t count myself in the pantheon of Doctor Whos. But I’m assured that now I can. And I’ve got a figurine on the way to prove it! Last time you were David Bradley playing William Hartnell playing the First Doctor. Are you now just David Bradley playing the First Doctor?

It’s me playing the Doctor but armed with the experience of playing Bill Hartnell. I’m sure the lines blur somewhere and it all feeds into it. It’s helped an enormous amount on this Christmas episode – it was so embossed on my brain box that it came back quite easily. But last time I felt I had to get it right for his family. This one is for the fans. Did you rewatch the original Hartnell episodes or did you have a muscle memory of playing him?

Did the costume help you?

Oh yes. I brought along my own hat from An Adventure In Space And Time. They made a replica hat and gave it to me at the end. You’ve got to be careful where you wear it because people say, “There’s that sad geezer who thinks he’s Doctor Who…” (laughs). So no, I don’t wear it to the football. Is it a challenge to put your own stamp on such an iconic role?

Bill Hartnell created the stamp in the first place. He created the template for all the other Doctors that followed. I had to remind myself he wasn’t just a grumpy old grandad. He had a childlike sense of wonder, hence his curiosity about everything in the universe. Who hasn’t daydreamed about going back to Roman times or the Stone Age? We all do that, don’t we? He remains young because of that. He’s got so much to do in so little time that he’s always on the go. Occasionally it gets him into trouble and he gets it wrong, and that makes him vulnerable and makes him human. I like all those different aspects. We’re meeting the First Doctor in his final days. Was there any resonance for you with William Hartnell’s own story?

Yes, I had a memory of it, but occasionally Yes, there’s bound to be. He found it so if I was rehearsing I’d feel “I’ve lost him, difficult letting go, as we know, and the I’ve lost the Doctor” – the way I The First Doctor was reading it or perceiving it, it gets reacquainted felt like I’d slipped back into just with the TARDIS. being me. So I would bung on something on YouTube or DVD. I’d play a clip, just to remind myself of the way he was, physically and vocally. It would take a minute or so just to remind myself of his essence.

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Doctor’s having a similar crisis. And then he meets this other guy in the snow who says he’s the Doctor… A lot of the comic energy of the piece is between the two of them deciding who’s legit! If you’d been offered the role back in the day, what would your own Doctor have been like?

I’m not sure I would have been confident enough or experienced enough to play it at the time. I jump at things now I would have shied away from then. Just do it and ask questions later. I like to think I’d have been a jokey prankster of some kind. Eccentric and funny. Someone asked me what my ideal costume would be. I jokingly said, “Jockstrap and gladiator boots!” And so this appears on social media and you think, “Oh god… A little more discretion next time, Dave!” You can’t say, “I was only kidding!” You worked with Chris Chibnall on Broadchurch. What do you think he’s going to bring to Doctor Who?

He’s got form. Not only Broadchurch, because of course he’s written Doctor Who before. He’s chosen Jodie and he knows what she’s capable of. Well, we all do. I wouldn’t say she’s got a channel to her emotions – it’s more like a three-lane motorway! She’s capable of such great feelings. That heartbreaking stuff she had to do in Broadchurch when her child went missing. I can’t imagine anyone viewing that performance dispassionately. Not only has she got emotional depth and range but she’s also got this great sense of fun and she’s great to hang around with. She’s always a laugh. And I do hope she plays it Yorkshire! [laughs]

doctor who david bradley

the three doctors | sfx magazine |


The League Of Gentlemen

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The League Of Gentlemen

The League Of Gentlemen are coming home for Christmas. Steve O’Brien hitches a lift to Royston Vasey. And never leaves‌

january 2018 | sfx magazine |


Close Encounters face to face with the biggest stars

James Marsters The Buffy icon enters the Marvel Universe in Runaways Words by Tara Bennett /// Photography by Paul Archuleta

Like Buffy, Runaways is a series about the teen experience with a superhero metaphor driving it. As an adult actor in both, how did you connect to that? A great privilege of being an actor is you get to think about the themes you are enacting. With Buffy it was, “Do you care and engage with the world, or have you given up?” When you are working on a show that is delving into that question constantly, it begs you to be honest with yourself. Runaways is having me examine, “Have I been the kind of parent that I thought I was? How have I failed?” Of course, it’s all regret for me now because my kids are in college. They tell me I did okay. Not perfect, but okay. [Laughs] Victor Stein has some serious smarts but he’s clearly flawed. What’s intriguing about playing that? The thing that excites me about Victor is that he’s right. He’s a man trying to save the world by revolutionising energy production and transportation. He knows unless he succeeds in doing that the world is going to burn. It may not burn in his lifetime but it will start in his son’s lifetime and it will be in cinders by the time of any grandchildren. He sees himself as humanity’s hope in that way. He’s come to feel the ends justify the means and if he has to sacrifice his own morality, and flush his soul down the drain to save the world, so be it. There’s something strangely heroic in that.

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Both his wife and son have rejected him to a degree. Does he actually care? I think he has great love for his son and his wife, so it hurts. But he’s also not someone who second-guesses himself much. I remember having a conversation with Josh [Schwartz] early on saying Victor is a lot like Macbeth. One of the things that keeps Macbeth watchable for the audience is that Macbeth takes a long time to decide to murder the king, but once he does he does not look back. Then the murders go on and on and he’s marching through a lake of blood. He’s not spending time regretting it. You were a hardcore theatre guy but TV is where you have focused a lot of your career. Why? I think television in the last 20 years has come of its own. It’s really where adults are getting their entertainment more than the cinema. I remember telling Joss (Whedon), “If I had a choice between playing Hamlet and Spike, I would pick Spike.” Shakespeare was really good, probably better than Joss, but he only had three hours to explore his character. We had 22 episodes for seven years where [Joss] would just rip me open and put me back together. Spike had an incredible journey even Hamlet didn’t get. This year was the 20th anniversary for Buffy and you reunited with your former cast. What was that like? The thing I was struck with as we were all taking our photographs and talking was the amount of gratitude that we all had to have been a part of it. The truth is that it was a very difficult show to film. We worked 12 to 20 hours a day. You get to a point of fatigue on that where you don’t really remember what you did. We’d play a game on Buffy of, “What did we shoot in the morning?” [Laughs] So it was really nice that we’re all rested. What a ride and at the end of the day we got to be part of something that mattered. Do you think it’s time for it to be, er, resurrected? I think it would be fabulous if Joss Whedon rebooted Buffy. He’s the special sauce on the burger so if he is ever involved in the reboot, then it probably will be amazing. If he’s not involved, I would have no interest whatsoever. How would you feel about Spike being recast? I would hope they find another unknown actor who has some experience acting but people aren’t so familiar with. That would be refreshing. And I would hope they also find another poor actor who needed the money and the food because they come in hungry and loaded for beer. [Laughs]

Biodata Occupation Actor Born 20 August 1962 From Greenville, California Greatest hits Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Torchwood, Caprica, Witches Of East End Random fact Masters fronts the band Ghost Of The Robot, which also includes his son, Sullivan.

Runaways is on Hulu in the US. UK broadcast TBC.

/ Follow SFX on Twitter –

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ames Marsters has a knack for embodying cerebral baddies. From his spin on Professor Milton Fine, aka Brainiac, on Smallville to his punk vampire Spike on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, he has a penchant for leaving audiences just a little besotted with his no-good characters. So it’s no wonder that Runaways showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage lured him back into a TV series to play the brilliant yet darkly complicated engineer, Victor Stein. In the Marvel comic book and the series, Stein is a fantastic inventor but painfully estranged from both his wife (Ever Carradine) and his son, Chase (Gregg Sulkin). Breakfasts are tense, expectations run high, and Stein clearly has issues with anger management. However, as always when Marsters gets his hands on a role, we find there’s more simmering beneath the seemingly menacing exterior...

close encounterS james marsters

“Joss ripped me open and put me back together�

january 2018 | sfx magazine |


the comic strips present part two: the 1970s

age! From the screen to the p t In the second instalmen of a major three-part retrospective, Alistair McGown celebrates the comic strip tie-ins that defined a decade...

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the comic strips present part two: the 1970s

he UK comics industry had wholeheartedly embraced small screen spin-offs in the 1960s, with the coming of the first TV generation. For SF fans that meant the likes of Doctor Who and The Avengers now appearing in the pages of TV Comic, though the big deal in TV tie-in publishing had been TV21, a legendary weekly promoting Gerry Anderson’s futuristic puppet heroes. By 1970 the comic was limping on but faced dwindling sales. It was TV21, Jim, but not as we knew it, determined to carry on without Anderson, TV-related strips Land Of The Giants and The Saint now nestling with scuba divers and Glaswegian footballers. Chief draw was Star Trek, then running on BBC1 for the first time. Ex-TV21 illustrator Mike Noble provided glorious covers plus interior colour spreads, pearls among swine in the otherwise tatty comic. Nigglingly, Kirk wore a mortality-baiting red shirt but then virtually nobody at home had a colour TV and would know any better. Noble found lucrative employment elsewhere, as we’ll see later, and was briefly replaced by ex-Daleks artist Ron Turner, then various lesser scribblers. New owners IPC eventually merged TV21 into the war heroes

january 2018 | sfx magazine |


time machine planet of the apes tv

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time machine planet of the apes tv

of the

the tv show

th e st or y be hi nd th fa ntas y of ye st ere sf an d ye ar

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After conquering the big screen they came for your televisions... Sean Egan recalls the short-lived simian spin-off y the mid-’70s, Planet of The Apes was a phenomenon that seemed past its sell-by date. Four sequels had followed the 1968 movie adaptation of the novel by Frenchman Pierre Boulle, which posited a distant planet where apes were the dominant species and humans their slaves. By the time of fifth movie Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973), the shamelessness with which the franchise’s success had been milked was being widely mocked. Some felt like it was a blessing that a TV series planned by franchise production head Arthur P Jacobs was derailed by his death. The perception of the casket having run dry, however, was altered in 1973, when the first television broadcasts of the Planet Of The Apes movies brought spectacular viewing figures for CBS. The American network promptly revived the idea of transferring the property to the small screen. Certainly, the opening titles of the first episode of Planet Of The Apes – screened on September 13, 1974 – augured well. Lalo Schifrin’s alarming, discordant theme music was married to a shot of a monstrous horsebacked gorilla with its rifle held aloft against the sun. The effect was chilling. Unfortunately, the action on the show itself never got quite as good as that.

The services of The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling were engaged at the outset but – as with the original movie – the SF TV legend’s ideas were cherry-picked rather than used wholesale. With Anthony Wilson serving as series developer, Art Wallace ended up scripting the first two agenda-setting episodes. In opener “Escape From Tomorrow”, humans are shown not as the pelt-swathed mutes of the 1968 film but living in primitive

housing, wearing sewn clothing and able to speak. Their role is analogous to medieval peasants, confined to settlements by the ruling apes and only permitted to be labourers, farmers and servants. As in the films, the ape planet is not a foreign orb. Crash-landed astronauts Alan Virdon (Ron Harper) and Pete Burke (James Naughton) realise from perusing books that this world is their own more than a thousand years from their launch date.

Roddy McDowall would spend up to three hours in make-up.

january 2018 | sfx magazine |



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JUSTICE LEAGUE Heroic attempt released OUT NOW!

12A | 120 minutes Director Zack Snyder Cast Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller, Amy Adams, Jason Momoa

There’s a single visual in Justice League that says everything. It’s not some epic moment, artfully composed and straining for iconic impact. And it’s not one of the countless times a character enters the frame in approved movie superhero style, head-to-the-chest and fist-to-thefloor. No, it’s the briefest glimpse of a broken, homeless man, panhandling on the street. There’s a tattered cardboard sign next to him. It says, simply, “I tried”. These two words shadow every second of the latest DCEU entry. It’s simultaneously a mea culpa for the missteps of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and an eager, puppy-faced attempt to make amends, shifting that movie’s doomy, dispiriting world into a brighter, shinier orbit, building on everything that this summer’s Wonder Woman got so right. “Our darkness was deep and seemed to swallow all hope,” acknowledges one particularly self-flagellating line of dialogue.

It may well be ripped verbatim from the Warner Bros annual internal report. Locked into production even as the studio realised they needed a major creative gear change, Justice League lost its original helmer when Zack Snyder stepped down mid-shoot due to a family tragedy. The title credits state, bullishly, that this is “A Zack Snyder Film”, and the studio insists that around 80% of his material remains. A thousand movie blogs will doubtlessly dissect the truth of that. Mop-up director/ screenwriter Joss Whedon’s input certainly screams out in the pop-culture riffs (“Not, like, in a Pet Sematary way?”), meta-zingers (“I’m not the one who brought a pitchfork…”) and general vibe of Hall H self-awareness that teeters on the point of self-parody (“Wow, it’s like a cave! Like a… BatCave!”). Gone is the desaturated grading that swallowed all colour from the world, let alone hope – Superman’s red, blue and gold pop on the screen as they should (spoiler: he lives. Of course he lives). There are moments where the action freezes into godlike tableaux and you sense Snyder’s overwrought, awe-chasing touch, but overall the gloomy, bombastic

Diana was in the market for a bigger sword.

80 | sfx magazine | january 2018

The midnight fire drills sucked. visuals of Batman V Superman are history. The story is thuddingly simple. There are these boxes, right? Weird, crazy boxes. Put the boxes together and bad stuff happens. Bad man wants bad stuff to happen. Good guys don’t. That’s it. There are Silver Age issues of Justice League Of America with more rigorous plotting. There are pages of Silver Age issues of Justice League Of America with more rigorous plotting. The film mines the cosmic lore of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World comic books but, like its CG-augmented blank of a

There’s no emotional context to make you feel invested villain, Steppenwolf, it’s empty plundering that relies on the audience’s knowledge of the source material to achieve any kind of resonance. The stakes are vast but strangely empty.

Reviews League Division Two

Lesser Leaguers waiting for the big time...


C  hippy, shadeswearing Detroit street gang member Paco Ramone brought his seismic vibrational powers to the League in the mid-’80s. Has also been known to improve any party.


T  he original Red Tornado was bucket-headed comic relief (secret identity: Ma Hunkel). This sleeker, cooler android incarnation whipped up cyclone-force winds by twisting his body at mind-boggling speed.


Introduced in 1987, just as Glasnost was melting the Cold War, Rocket Red was Dmitri Pushkin, part of an elite brigade of armoured heroes wrangled by the Soviet government. “Mechaempathy” allowed him to control any computer.


Of course, it’s all a means to line up our heroes like so many tie-in tumblers in a Happy Meal display. Ben Affleck’s sturdy Bruce Wayne gets to be Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven, growling, “I’m putting together a team”. Of the new recruits, Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa bring military-grade screen presence: Miller’s Flash is a jittery, wide-eyed indie kid, Momoa’s Aquaman a whiskeyswigging metalhead. Ray Fisher brings something quieter and deeper to Cyborg, while Gal Gadot may not have a chance to shine as she did in her solo movie, but

remains the key empathic linchpin of this screen universe, warrior and Earth mother conjoined. It’s a charming cast, and their quip-loaded, Whedon-powered interplay is solidly entertaining. But ultimately so much of this movie is numbing, a wearying orgy of every weightless, hyper-real cliché of superhero physics. You’ll soon lose track of the number of people flung against walls. And when it aims for Peter Jackson epicness – hordes of horsebacked Amazons charge against Steppenwolf’s cannon-fodder army of Parademons – there’s no

genuine emotional context to make you feel invested. Hidden among the cosplay carnage is a scene that works beautifully. In a Kansas cornfield, a resurrected Clark Kent tells Lois Lane, “I’m back now, and I’m going to make things right.” It’s simple and real, a human moment among the metahuman. If DC’s cinematic universe has a future beyond endlessly bankable Wonder Woman sequels then this is where it needs to begin. Nick Setchfield Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen in the Reeve Super-movies) plays a guard seen when Barry visits his dad in prison.

U  nlike Marvel’s Angel, this celestial Justice Leaguer was a genuine member of the Heavenly host. Wielded a flaming sword and had the power to part water, Moses style.


J  ungle adventurer Congo Bill found his consciousness transferred into the body of Africa’s legendary Golden Gorilla, courtesy of a magic ring gifted by a dying witch doctor. Ya big ape!

january 2018 | sfx magazine |



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