Enjoying some spin-offs...

I am usually pretty cynical about spin-offs of movies, shows, books or comics I like but there are a couple recently that I have been enjoying and are well worth a mention.

TV: Torchwood - Children of Earth

If you missed this five-part story arc that aired last week on the BBC then you should pick it up as soon as it appears on itunes or DVD (and good news for anyone from the US reading this before Monday as it airs on BBC America all next week starting on the 20th of July). Now strictly speaking my cynicism regarding Torchwood had already waned a little after two enjoyable seasons of light sci-fi drama, but this five episode 'event' is probably better than anything Russell T Davis has managed with Dr Who since its resurrection. It's dark, well paced considering its five hour length, and by and large well acted (as is a common trait with Who/Torchwood the military characters come across as shallow stereotypes) but most importantly it tells it's story superbly well.

No spoilers here...just watch it! It's well worth it if you have even a passing interest in the series.

Comics: House of Mystery

Not just a spin-off * but a remake as well, or rather as is the in thing these days, a re-imagining. So I think I forgave myself a little skepticism when I picked up the trade-paperback editions of the new run recently. DC have cleverly leveraged Matthew Sturges and Bill Willinghams (of Fables fame) presence on this reworking of their classic series

The fact I am a fan of Fables won out over any skepticism about a setting in the Sandman universe, which Vertigo have struggled to do justice with since Gaiman's original run ended, and I have to admit I hadn't really read any of the originals so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. What you get is a pretty interesting set of characters and some (so far) intriguing story-lines split between the seeds of what will presumably be an ongoing arc, and episodic tales that vary in quality from pleasant diversions to excellent little tales (in the kind of strange, bizarre, excellent way of the Sandman universe), I especially liked the tale of the ancient war between cats and birds, which would not have been out of place in the original Sandman run, or any Fables issue.

The titular House of Mystery is a half-way house of sorts for lost souls (which may or may not be in The Dreaming for those familiar with the universe) , where storytelling isn't just encouraged - its expected. It's well written and Luca Rossi does a great job with the art, well worth checking out!

* yes, technically I know that Cain appeared in the original comics and was one of the characters sort of conscripted as it were by Gaiman for Sandman many years later, but the new run does feel like a Sandman spin-off enough for me to think of it that way, if any of you out there want to just see it as a remake of the original that's fine too!