Friday, July 2, 2010

Torchwood Magazine Yearbook (2008)

Titan, the company that publishes Torchwood Magazine, is pretty smart. The magazine market is pretty crowded, so I don't imagine a lot of places carry the actual magazine; by reprinting several articles into a hardover Torchwood Magazine Yearbook, however, the company is able to reach bookstores all over the world and have it available for gift-giving around the holidays. Finally, throw in several new short stories to lure in the people who do regularly read the magazine, and who wouldn't buy the Yearbook?!?! (in theory there could be people who neither like Torchwood nor know anyone who does, buy why concern ourselves with such extravagant hypotheticals?)

The Yearbook consists of six reprinted articles and five new (very) short stories. Everything is centered around the season two incarnation of the team. The articles reprinted are: "Meet the Team", "Inside the Hub", "O Captain, My Captain" (interviews with Barrowman and Marsters), "Series Two Episode Guide", "Aging Agyeman" (aging make-up), and "Forever Hold Your Rhys" (behind the scenes at the big wedding episode). The episode guide is probably the best of the lot, as there's a lot of fun little trivia. The interview with James Marsters, about playing Captain John, is also interesting--I get the sense from it and others I've read with the actor that he's one of the few Buffy alums who isn't a fan of Joss Whedon like everyone else seems to be; that he feels Joss really watered down Spike and maybe that the director plays favorites with the cast.

As I said, the short stories are pretty short--five or six pages each.

"Black Water" by Steven Savile has an intriguing plot, as a mysterious ship covered in a strange black oil sails into Cardiff Bay. It ends much too quickly, however, though it does give Tosh a chance to shine.

David Llewellyn's "Mrs. Acres" works really well as an example of the sort of sadder, darker story that Torchwood is able to tell (the mood here is similar to the episode Adrift). There's no happy endings when Gwen goes to question old Mrs. Acres about missing animals.

"The Beauty of Our Weapons" by Andy Lane is another one I wish would have been longer--it has a set-up that could easily have driven one of the Torchwood novels. During an inventory of the Hub's archives, Ianto realizes that a piece is missing from storage--and has been for over fifty years. Although thought to be a piece of alien artwork, the massive translucent sphere has a much more malign purpose. Good stuff, and an interesting hint that there's an underground tunnel that runs from the Hub all the way to Glasgow and (presumably) Torchwood Two.

"Plant Life" by Trevor Baxendale is Ianto-focussed and pretty predictable. Note to self: do not adopt strange alien plants, as they could be hazardous to one's health.

Last up is Joseph Lidster's "Monster", set during the period when Owen was among the walking undead. The story is told from the point of view of a guy named Paul Talbot, who wakes up one day to realize he's pretty much craving human flesh--and the only person he has no interest in eating is Owen.

The whole package weighs in at just 94 pages, which is actually shorter than the 100-page issues that Torchwood Magazine sometimes comes out with. I love the art design, as each page has some cool backgrounds that fit with the subject matter in the text. On the whole, though, I'd say this was a nice addition to a collection but not really essential.

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