Monday, June 18, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 23 - Battles Lost and Won

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.




Plot

With Reign reborn and free of Samantha's body, Supergirl and her allies must face their greatest challenge ever in a battle to save the Earth!


Influences

Superman: The Movie (Supergirl turning back time to saved a loved one), Star Wars (Kara quotes Han Solo to Brainiac-5 as they are beating down a tsunami wave.), Man of Steel (The Kryptonian witches plot to terraform Earth mirrors Zod's plan from this movie.), the film Ghost (the scene of the Kryptonian demons dragging Reign away resembles the shadowy things that come for bad people when they die in this film) and the Superman: New Krypton arc from the Superman comics. (Kryptonians who survived the destruction of their world attempt to conquer/destroy Earth.)


Goofs

How exactly does Thomas Coville know how to activate the distress signal on a Martian spaceship?

So... stabbing Reign with a sword violates Kara's "no killing" rule but dragging her into a mindscape and force-feeding her poisonous water that leaves her helpless as demons drag her away doesn't?


Performances

Honestly, the entire cast is on fire here and it's hard to single anyone out as especially great.


Artistry

You can tell they saved the special effects budget for this episode. There's some truly amazing visuals in the first part of the episode, particularly the sequence with Saturn Girl stopping a tsunami wave from hitting National City.  It is topped, however, between the final fight between Supergirl and Reign.

The sequence in which Reign loses control of her powers and dies is magnificently shot.


Super Trivia

When J'onn slaps a pair of Kryptonite-empowered handcuffs on one of the Daughters of Juru, he describes it as "a little piece of home."  A Little Piece Of Home was also the name of the episode of Superman: The Animated Series which introduced Kryptonite into the DC Animated Universe.

Kara's traveling back in time to redo her fight with Reign is a nod to Superman: The Movie, where Superman does the same thing in order to save Lois Lane.

Mon-El seems to mix up the Ancient Greek myths of Persephone, Orpheus and Hercules when trying to complement Kara. He talks about entering the underworld, slaying the three-headed monster and rescuing Persephone. As Kara points out, Persephone was the one who ate the pomegranate seeds and became trapped in Hades' realm. Hercules fought the three-headed dog Cerberus, but did not slay it. Orpheus went into the underworld to save his true love, but he ultimately failed because he looked back to make sure she was behind him.

Mon-El gives Kara a Legion ring of her own before returning to the future. In the comics, depending on the reality, Kara traveled to the future and worked with The Legion for a time, was declared an honorary Legion member and/or permanently settled in the 31st Century.


Technobabble

Alex's new body armor is revealed ti have the capacity to generate an electric blue force-field that can disintegrate small boulders before they can hit her.

The Legion Flight Rings allow the wearer to breathe in space.

Kara says she can use the electricity contained in the Harun-El to take her to the Fountain of Lillith if she can find a disruption in space-time.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Supergirl and Alura have just finished wearing down a wave that Saturn Girl was holding in check. Brainiac-5 is flying behind them in The Legion ship.)
Supergirl: You're all clear, kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home!
Brainiac-5: (testily) I assume that's some sort of film reference?
Supergirl (aghast): We never showed you Star Wars? Not a single Star War?

M'yrnn: I am sorry I could not give you the rest.
J'onn: (tearing up) Don't apologize... don't...
M'yrnn: (smiles) I had a good life.
J'onn: I'm not ready.
M'yrnn: You are. You looked into the flame and you had no fear!
J'onn: (sighs) That's because you were with me.
(M'yrnn places a hand on J'onn's shoulder.)
M'yrnn: That will never change, J'onn. Never.

(J'onn slaps a pair of Kryptonian power-dampening cuffs on one of the Daughters of Juru.)
Witch: What is this devilry?!
J'onn: A little piece of home.

(Reign is strangling Supergirl.)
Reign: You cannot win. There is no prison you can build that can contain me. There is no one on this planet of equal power that can kill me!
(We pan over to see Samantha, now holding The Sword of Juru.)
Samantha: What's what you think.
(Samantha stabs Reign in the back.)

Kara: Before we went to Argo, I just had this thought. I... could be Kara Zor-El, Ordinary Citizen. (laughs) That I would feel like I was home. But when we were fighting Reign and the witches, I...had this moment... this realization that ...Argo City isn't my home anymore. National City is. Earth is. And my mission is to protect it. I mean, my whole life is here.
Mon-El: Yeah.
Kara: Messy. Complex. Balancing Kara and being a hero... (sighs) That's who I am.


Continuity

A TV report briefly mentions that Superman is dealing with the damage in Madagascar, which was mentioned in passing in 322.

J'onn receives one final memory from his father - an image of the first Martian priestess to receive the sacred scrolls at the dawn of The Martian Race. They were given to her by a being with glowing eyes whose face erupted from the Martian soil.

James reveals his face to a woman whose son he saves from a burning building.

Brainiac-5 has not seen Star Wars.

M'yrnn merges himself with the Earth to counter the destruction wrought by The Daughters of Juru.

Saturn Girl claims to have gotten a message from Mon-El's time beacon. Mon-El said, in 322. that the Time Beacon broke but was later revealed to have been lying. When confronted about this, he says that it must have had a fail-safe so that it would send a message even if it powered down.

Thomas Coville - presumed dead in the last episode - is revealed to be barely alive in The Fortress of Sanctuary.

Saturn Girl says that she realized - during her separation from Mon-El - that their marriage was never what it should have been and she should have realized that when she lied about the real reason they traveled back to the past.

Samantha has visions of her adoptive mother apologizing to her for abandoning her.  Sam does not believe she is real at first, but the figure is later revealed to be "all that remains of Patricia Arias and her lover for Samantha."

Brainiac-5 reveals that millions of people were saved by The Blight never coming into existence, thanks to the death of Pestilence in the 21st century... including a distant relative of his, who has developed a viral plague to wipe out all other artificial intelligences. This means that Brainiac-5 must remain in the past until someone else cures the plague.

Brainiac-5 reveals that Winn's design for his force-field belt goes on to lay the foundation for some of the most advanced technology of the 31st century. To that end, he asks for Winn to go to the future to replace him on The Legion of Superheroes and combat the AI Plague. He claims that the piece of paper on which Winn scribbled his design while trying to explain it to Demos is now a treasured historical artifact in the National Archives in the future.

Brainiac-5 also says that the future needs heroes and leaders and pleads for Mon-El to return to the future.

Thomas Coville activates a distress beacon in J'onn's ship to signal the DEO as to the location of The Fortress of Sanctuary.

James refers to 320 and how Lena figured out she could kill Reign with a lethal dose of Kryptonite. Kara refuses to consider this as an option at first, but finally relents after Alura and J'onn say there may be no other option.

When Samantha awakens, she has full Kryptonian powers.

Samantha stabs Reign and Kara throws her into The Daughters of Juru's cauldron. This leads to Samantha and Alura being killed by Reign's heat vision. Mon-El also dies taking a heat-vision blast trying to save J'onn.

As Kara flies back in time she remembers things that were said to her in the past about Alex thinking Kara Danvers saved her more than Supergirl and J'onn saying that Kara saved his life and her mother saying that she would go on to do great things. (301)

In the new timeline, Kara stops Sam from stabbing Reign and instead uses the Harun-El to shock herself, Samantha and Reign into The Valley of Juru. From there, they force-feed Reign the weakening waters of the Fountain of Lillith and she is dragged away by Kryptonian demons.

Mon-El decides that he has to go back to the future because he is needed there.

Mon-El gives Kara a Legion ring of her own.

Samantha is 100% human following the latest round of tests by Lena.

Winn decides to return to the future with Mon-El.

James reveals himself to the world as The Guardian.

Alex tries to resign from the DEO so she can start a family.

J'onn refuses, saying he wants to promote Alex, placing her in charge of the DEO. 

J'onn steps down as DEO director so he can  go out and focus on helping others directly in the Martian tradition rather than hiding behind walls.

Alura plans to return to Argo City, taking Selena and the other Daughters of Juru with her so they can stand trial for their crimes.

Lena gives Alura a case full of Harun-El that she synthesized as well as the recipe to make more.

Winn leaves Braniac-5 his original sketch of his design for the force-field belt, along with a note saying it is guaranteed to appreciate in value more than a jar of dirt, in reference to his gift of future dirt from 318.

There is no pizza on Argo.

Lena is revealed to have kept some of the Harun-El and is experimenting on it with Eve Teschmacher.

Kara's use of the Harun-El to stop Reign seems to have created a clone of Kara in Russia.


Location

Wherever J'onn and M'yrrn go so M'yrnn can merge with the Earth.

The Fortress of Sanctuary

The Siberian Border.


Untelevised Adventures

Superman is said to be dealing with the natural disasters threatening to rip the world apart in Madagascar.


The Bottom Line


Far more than the sum of its parts. Part of me wants to scream bloody murder about the sheer insanity of the Valley of the Juru, the mixing of science and fantasy and the logistics of human ghosts going to a quasi-Kryptonian after-life/dreamscape. The other part of me says "Screw it. We give Sam closure and Betty Buckley gets another paycheck."

Lots of big changes in this episode, yet the pace is quite leisurely and the epic battle is almost an after thought. We already have Jeremy Jordan and Chris Wood confirmed as leaving the series and only coming back as guest stars, if at all. I hope the same isn't true of David Harewood, who is one of the rocks of this show. James revealing himself to the world as Guardian is... well, as muted as everything else relating to Guardian this season.

Still, the low-key conclusion seems oddly appropriate and after the breakneck conclusions of Arrow and The Flash that failed to be thrilling, it's kind of nice that this episode ends with Kara and Alex having a sisters' night in. Can't wait for Season Four!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Batman: Prelude To The Wedding, Part Three - Batgirl Vs. The Riddler - A Review

Having not been reading Tim King's Batman on a regular basis, I had been planning on giving the whole Prelude To A Wedding storyline a miss. Then I found out there was going to be an issue pitting Batgirl against my favorite Batman villain and... well, I had to see how it played out, having the real greatest detective in the Bat Family (by Bruce's own admission) go against Edward Nygma.


Naturally, the plot involves The Riddler setting up a test for Batgirl which involves murder and mayhem if she fails to answer his questions. The twist Tim Seeley sets up for why he is doing this is rather brilliant and I shan't say another word about it. Suffice it to say it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to The Riddler and this issue did not disappoint. While the endgame is obvious the execution is masterful.

Better than the story, though, is the art. This is the second special I've seen Minkyu Jung work on (the last one being Titans Annual #1) and the second time I wished he was working regularly on a series I read. Jung's grasp of composition and framing is fantastic and the action of the story flows smoothly throughout. Would that we could see Jung paired with Jose Marzan Jr. on Batgirl, as they prove to have a real flair for working with the character and each other here. The colors of Jordie Bellaire are sweet icing on a very rich cake and Dave Sharpe's letter-work is as astounding as ever.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. A one-shot special that lives up to its name.

Detective Comics #982 - A Review

Trapped in the darkest tunnels under Gotham City, Batman seeks a missing homeless man. What he finds is a conspiracy organized by a frightening new cult and an old enemy... older than Gotham itself.
Detective Comics #982 seems less like a Batman comic and more like a Hellboy story that was hurriedly adapted into something Batman-themed. Doubtlessly this may be because of the artwork by Sebastian Fiumara, best known for his work on Lobster Johnson and Abe Sapien. Yet with a supernatural villain at its heart, this story still seems atypical for the sort of serious, mystery-based tales we usually see in Detective Comics.

That being said, this is far from a bad book. Indeed, this is perhaps the most noteworthy use of Deacon Blackfire I've ever seen in any story, though that is damning with faint praise as I've always found the character less than compelling. Yet Michael Moreci's script makes him compelling and the artwork by Sebaastian Fiumara and Dave Stewart drives the story at full tilt into the deepest, darkest parts of Gotham. There's also some great font work by Clem Robins, who crafts text that seems to cut at the balloons that contain it.

The Final Analysis: 10/10. All in all this is a solid one-shot Batman story. 

X-Men: Red #5 - A Belated Review

Unbeknownst to Jean Grey, an old enemy of the X-Men is twisting the minds of various world leaders to hasten the anti-Mutant initiatives that are gaining popularity, at the same time a new breed of Sentinel is using social media to turn ordinary people into the puppets of hate groups and mutants into self-loathing suicide bombers. Thankfully, Jean and her new team of X-Men are not without resources or allies, but they still have a long battle ahead of them - one that will start with an effort to save mutant refugees from an advancing army.


I missed out on the fireworks when this issue originally came out and various forces held it up as a prime example of how the social justice warrior agenda is ruining Marvel Comics. Ignoring that Marvel Comics has a long history of doing this sort of thing (and indeed was build upon the work of several Veterans who specifically used their art to make political points) to say that an X-Men comic is not meant to be political seems incredibly ignorant.

For the sake of argument, let's consider this story as an action epic, free from Tom Taylor's drawing parallels between the social-media Sentinels that reprogram people's brains to turn them into anti-Mutant activists and the use of fake news in modern society. Does this comic still hold up?  Yes. Taylor writes a fantastic action sequence and the battle in which we see the X-Men placing themselves between an army and a group of refugees is a thrilling one.

All of this is ably illustrated by Mahmud Asrar, whose shadowy, heavily-outlined style is a good fit for the grim world that Taylor's script reveals. The colors are largely dull, save for the colors of the X-Men in their costumes - a brilliant conceit by colorist Rain Beredo that makes our heroes stand out like the beacons of hope they should be in a dark world. The letters by Cory Petit are well done, with a wide variety of texts in the caption boxes, the news scrolls and the action balloons.

Let the broflakes cry. This is X-Men done right, modernized for the 21st century - as political and powerful as it should be.

The Final Analysis: 9/10. The best X-Men book in years!

Red Sonja/Tarzan #2 - A Belated Review

United across time and space by an enemy who seems to have the power to breach those same boundaries, The Lord of The Jungle and The She-Devil With A Sword form an uneasy alliance... though this is not the first time the two have crossed paths, though neither remembers the first time they met and came to blows...


Again, real life had gotten in the way of my reviewing this wonderful little mini-series, sure to appeal to fans of both Red Sonja and Tarzan. Gail Simone's script captures the essence of both characters perfectly. This is unsurprising, given Simone's long association with Sonja after 18 issues of the monthly comic and the Swords of Sorrow event, which gave her ample opportunity to indulge her obvious love of pulp fiction. Hopefully we'll get to see Jane in action by this series' end as well.

Walter Geovani proves the perfect partner in this. Again, this is unsurprising, given Geovani's long history of drawing Red Sonja and other pulp works for Dynamite Entertainment. Attention must also be paid to the colors of Adriano Augusto and the letters of Simon Bowland, which are equally amazing. Again, I say it - this is a wonderful series, sure to appeal to fans of both Red Sonja and Tarzan as well as anyone who enjoys a ripping yarn.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that is their loss.