Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson #2 - A Review

Once Nick Wilson was the world's most powerful superhero. Now he can't even pay the rent without doing children's birthday parties pretending to be a Nick Wilson impersonator. But is Nick so desperate for a job that he'll accept a proposal from his arch-enemy - billionaire inventor Clive Morganfield - to establish a Nick Wilson museum with himself as the star attraction?

While the clear conceit of the second issue of The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson is the idea of Clark Kent being forced to work for Lex Luthor, the script by Marc Andreyko and Eddie Gordoetsky goes far beyond that simple set-up. While this issue is slower-paced than the first, it is still an enjoyable read. This is primarily because Nick is established as an honestly good person fallen on hard times rather than the cliche screw-up this sort of deconstructive superhero tale usually depicts  It also helps that the artwork is by former Starman artist Stephen Sadowski, who is equally capable of depicting classic superheroic action as well the simpler scenes of people having a conversation. There's also some fantastic color art by Hi-Fi at play here.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. A step down from last month, but still good.

Aquaman #33 - A Review

With Mera's life in the balance, Arthur leads what few forces The Resistance can muster to bring down The Wall Of Thorns. Can they stand against the combined forces of The Silent School of Atlantis' mages, who stand loyal to the usurper King Rath?



Politics takes a back seat to action in this issue of Aquaman, but Dan Abnett proves as skilled at writing exciting action stories as he is political thrillers. The artwork astounds, as always, with Riccardo Federici and Rick Leonardi's art featuring a depth as vast as the ocean itself and Sunny Gho's color art glowing upon the page. This is one of DC Comics' most underrated series.

The Final Analysis: 9/10.

Wonder Woman/Conan #6 - A Review

Diana has returned home to Themyscira, but she cannot help but feel guilt for leaving the warrior Conan behind to fight the battle she helped to start. Still, Conan is armed with The Lasso of Hestia, but will even that enable him to face an army of darkness alone and save a single city? And will he truly have to fight alone?


Wonder Woman/Conan #6 proves a perfect conclusion to one of the most enjoyable mini-series in recent memory. There's little for me to say about the series beyond this without sounding like a broken record. Great art. Great story. And if The Powers That Be at Marvel Comics have a damn lick of sense, they'll recruit Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti to helm their new Conan book in 2019.

The Final Analysis: 9/10. 

Injustice 2 #46 - A Review

As two teams of heroes face the newest Amazo, The Atom attempts to bring the killer android down from the inside. Meanwhile, Ra's Al Ghul's superhero allies begin to question their allegiance... including the mysterious new Batman!



Again, I can't really discuss the particulars of this issue beyond some big and important things to the overall storyline occurring. As usual, Tom Taylor focuses on the relationships between characters over the action of the big battle, which is largely kept to the background of this issue. This plays to Taylor's strengths as a writer, because while he can write a darn fine action scene, it's his command of dialogue and character that make this book so marvelous. The artwork is equally impressive, with Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran, Rex Lokus and Wes Abbott each delivering their usual excellent performance. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you should be reading this series.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. A solid issue, though the "twist" ending is a bit obvious.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Legends Of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 11 - Here I Go Again

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



Plot

Zari finds herself as the only member of the team unaffected when a time loop causes The Waverider to be blown up over and over and over again.


Influences

The 1993 film Groundhog Day and the Cause and Effect episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Performances

The whole ensemble is on fire, but Tala Ashe steals the show as Zari is given some much-needed definition and a chance to better define her relationships with the team.


Artistry

The script is full of witty dialogue and for once the reference humor doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.


Trivia Of Tomorrow

The title of the episode, Here I Go Again, is a reference to the song Mamma Mia by ABBA. The opening line of the song, which is quoted by Zari the second time she runs through the time loop, is "Mamma Mia! Here I go again!" 

Here I Go Again is also the title of a song by British rock band Whitesnake. First released in 1982, the band rerecorded the song in a power-ballad style for a 1987 album of the same name. The song details the desire of the singer, a self-described loner, to find a place to belong. This seems a fitting description of Zari, who is the focal character of the episode's story.

The song which Mick Rory refers to despairingly, Waterloo, was performed by the group ABBA in 1974. The song was the winning entry for Sweden in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. The song was later voted the best Eurovision song of all time at the event's 50th anniversary in 2005.

The song Waterloo is not literally about the battle where Napoleon's efforts to conquer Europe were thwarted, despite the first line of the song being "My, my, at Waterloo Napoleon did surrender." Instead, the song uses the Battle of Waterloo as a metaphor for how a woman's plans to resist falling in love with a man she should know better than to get involved with have failed. The song also foreshadows the plot of the episode, with the end of its first chorus being, "The history book on the shelf/ is always repeating itself."

The basic plot of the episode is taken from the movie Groundhog Day, which Nate refers to when Zari tells him what is happening. The plot sees a weatherman forced to repeat the events of the same day (which happens to be the American holiday Groundhog Day) over and over until be learns to become a better person.

Zari's "fun" montage is also a nod to Groundhog Day. Bill Murray takes advantage of the loop to learn how to play the piano and does other silly thing to relieve the tedium of the repeating day. He even tries committing suicide in a number of creative ways.

The plot is also similar to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called Cause and Effect, which sees the crew of the Enterprise stuck in a time-loop that ends with their ship exploding. Ray, being the science-fiction geek that he is, makes reference to the episode.


Technobabble

Zari attempts to install a synchronous multi-module simulation program onto Gideon's neural core. The purpose of the program is to detect exploitable loopholes in history that The Legends can exploit.

Zari's program diverts 1.12 terawatts of power directly into Gideon's CPU. Gideon suggests that her calculations do not adequately stabilize the surge.

Zari lies to Sara about needing to reinitialize Gideon's alpha drives.

Zari's actions fry Gideon's neural core.

The doors to The Waverider's bay cannot open if Gideon is off-line.  Likewise, the Jump-Ships cannot be used if Gideon is off-line.

Mick uses the memory eraser to try and get the song Waterloo out of his head.

Gary established the time-loop with a chrono-repeater in an effort to save The Legends.

A Temporal Standard Time is used to measure the relative time outside of the time stream.

Gary tracked the temporal signature of the bomb to 1975.

The "time sludge" that Zari was sprayed with is Bosonic hyper-fluid - a highly volatile substance which helps power the ship through time. Gideon informs her she's quite lucky to be alive after being exposed to it.

Gideon was able to upload Zari's subconscious into her systems via the neuro-monitor. This allowed Gideon to run Zari through her simulator program.


Dialogue Triumphs

Mick: (mockingly)"Waterloo." Who writes a song about losing a war, huh?

Sara: We are in the fixing anachronisms business. Not the hacking history business. Now please, go fix Gideon.
Zari: Hey, maybe if you would stop bossing me around for a second, you would see this is a good idea.
Sara: I said please. And even if I didn't, bossing you around is part of my job as Captain.
Zari: Yeah, and it's really easy to take you seriously in that outfit.
Sara: You know this whole "apathetic cool girl" thing is not as cute as you think. If you want to be a member of this team-
Zari: Member-ish. This was always a temporary arrangement. I was never planning on sticking around for long. 
Sara: Then so long as you are on this ship, I am your Captain and if you don't like it you can stop sticking around.
Zari: (fake-gasping and saluting) Aye-aye.
(Zari turns around and starts to walk off.)
Sara: (to herself) I'm going to kill her.
(Sara starts to move after Zari.)
Ray: Wait! Sara! Don't!
(Ray rushes forward but trips over his platform shoes. The two women look down at him before Sara turns back to Zari.)
Sara: Just fix the ship.

Sara: Well as long as you are on this ship, I am your Captain and if you don't like it you can stop sticking around.
(Zari blinks in confusion.)
Sara: Are you going to say something?
Zari: Yeah... what the-?

Sara: What is wrong with you?
Zari: Uh, nothing, I think. Didn't we just have this conversation?
Sara: Yeah! Because you keep making me repeat myself!
Zari: (stammering) No, that's not what I meant.
(Zari begins to walk off. A clearly angry Sara begins to follow after her.) 
Ray: Sara! Don't get mad! I'm sure Zari can fix-
(Ray trips over his platform shoes again. Both Zari and Sara stop to look at him for a moment as Sara turns back to Zari.)
Sara: Just fix the ship.

(Zari knocks on Mick's door. He opens it.)
Mick:
I'm busy.
Zari: Right...You've done a lot of time-traveling. Have you ever had deja vu?
Mick: What's that?
Zari: Oh, uh - it's French for "already seen".
Mick: I hate the French.
(Mick closes the door.)

Zari: Mamma Mia! Here I go again!

Mick: I can't get this damn song out of my head!
Amaya: Which one? Waterloo?
Mick: Ah! Don't mention it!
(Mick puts down his laundry basket and removes the Time Bureau memory eraser from it. He aims it into his own eyes and activates it.)
Amaya: Did it work?
Mick: Did what work?  Why am I holding the thingy in my hand?

(Zari looks disgusted as she hears Amaya and Nick's rather vigorous love-play through the door. In fact, Zari nearly throws up.)
Zari:
Kill me now.
(A now familiar explosion is heard in the distance and Zari actually smiles with relief as the fire washes over her and time resets again.)

Nate: Mick's writing a sci-fi romance novel.
Zari: (quietly) Yeah.
Nate: Well, that's the last thing I thought I'd see before I die.
(An explosion is heard in the distance.)
Zari: (deadpan)
Oh. Funny you should say that...

(Zari and Nate explain the situation to Ray and that they think someone on the ship is responsible for blowing it up.)
Ray: Mick!
Nate: He's clean.
Zari: Unlike his literary erotica.
Ray: Excuse me, what?
Nate: Long story. Like, literally a long story.
Zari: So weird...
Nate: 1,000 pages.

Zari: You sure she can't see us?
Ray: No. Not when we're in stealth mode. Which really just means library voices and no sudden movements.

(When Mick suggests setting the bomb on fire.)
Nate: That would just blow it up! You know, for a guy who loves fire, you have no idea how it works!

Zari: So, the interactions... the things I learned about the team? They were all fake?
Gideon: Everything you experienced was extrapolated from my current knowledge of The Legends. While not real, what you saw was true.
(The two turn to where Amaya and Nate are hugging and kissing.)
Gideon: It doesn't take a super computer to predict that those two would wind up dinky-tickling once Amaya returned to the team.
(The two teleport and are suddenly in Mick's room, where he is typing away at his typewriter.)
Zari: Uh - this one seems less plausible.
Gideon: You'll have to ask Mr. Rory.
Zari: I am terrified and in awe of you, Gideon. Who knew you were such an evil genius? And a bit of a perv.
Gideon: You never bothered to ask!

Mick: (reading out-loud) "Buck wrapped his glistening biceps around his busty alien queen. He'd lost his planet, but found his home."
(Mick drinks his beer as he ponders this new ending.)
Mick: Hmm... not bad.

(We see a shrine outside a Chinese temple.)
Voice: I am calm. I am present.
(We zoom in to see Wally West, sitting in an outdoor shrine, eyes closed as he sits in a meditative pose.)
Wally: I am centered.
(There is a knocking on one of the pillars of the shrine. Wally opens one eye and sees a man in a suit.)
Rip Hunter: Wally West? You're not an easy man to find.
Wally: No. That's the point of meditation. Who are you?
Rip Hunter: My name is Rip Hunter. I am... trying to save the universe. And I need your help.


Continuity

Nate and Amaya apparently missed their cue when their band was performing. It is later confirmed they were having sex.

Sara makes reference to Zari putting Helen of Troy back someplace besides Troy in 306 and attempting to prevent Martin's death in 309.

Ray spends the entire episode in dire fear of Sara losing her temper. This is a reference to the warning John Constantine gave Ray in 310 about Mallus taking control of Sara.

The first time through the loop, Zari is splashed with some kind of liquid in Gideon's core before the ship blows up.

The second time through the loop, Zari does not get splashed with the liquid in Gideon's core and overhears Nate and Amaya talking about what happened during their concert.

Ray refers to Nate's psychedelic root stash from 303.

The third time through the loop, Sara injures Zari's wrist and Ray sedates her, with Zari going under as the ship explodes.

The fourth time through the loop, Zari tries to warn the crew about the danger, is carried to the med-bay by Mick and sedated by Ray, who thinks she's suffering from cabin fever.

The fifth time through the loop, the same thing happens as the fourth time, but Ray thinks Zari is suffering from Space Madness.

The sixth time through the loop is much the same, but Ray blames acute entropic dementia.

The seventh time through the loop, Ray blams too many donuts, but admits it could be anything. It is at this point that Zari seems to acquire a tolerance to the sedative and she is able to tell Nate what is going on. He tells her to say the words "Groundhog Day" to him the next time she goes through the loop.

Nate consider Zari a friend, much to her surprise.

The eighth time, Zari goes to Nate after getting away from Sara, but gets the name of the movie wrong, calling it "Hedgehog Day." Nate figures out what she means, however. Nate starts trying to help her, but gets distracted by Amaya after she talks him into using the memory eraser to forget that they just had sex... and decide to have it one more time since they're blanking their memories anyway.

Zari lies to Ray about his saying "Happy Captain, Happy Ship" catching on in The Future.

Amaya's nickname for Nate is "Tiger."

The ninth time, Zari and Nate go to Mick's room to see why he was doing laundry. Nate gets his foot caught in a bear trap that Mick leaves on the floor of his bedroom.

The tenth time, Zari trips the bear trap before Nate scan step in it, but Nate gets electrocuted by some kind of trap on the box in Mick's room.

The eleventh time that we see (Zari makes reference to never having made it this far before), Zari and Nate get the box open only to get sprayed in the face with an ink pack. They then discover that the box is protecting a typewriter, which contains a page of a science-fiction romance novel that Mick is writing.

The twelfth time that we see Zari pass through the loop (again, there seem to be a few instances skipped here), Zari tells Nate that Mick and Amaya are not involved in the explosion so they should start by spying on Ray. This time, they recruit Ray to help them spy on Sara, who they discover is talking privately with Agent Ava Sharpe, who us crushing so hard on Sara that even Ray can spot it. Zari and Ray are both squashed by Sara's rolled-up crossword puzzle book when she hears them talking and thinks they are flies.

Nate says that he considers Ray his best friend.

Ray has a signature tea blend of chamomile, lavender and rose.

Sara does crossword puzzles.

The thirteenth time that we see, Zari is visibly tired and seems to have lost count of how many times she has passed through the loop. It is here that Nate suggests she have some fun with it to relax.

It is unclear how many times Zari passes through the loop here or if some of her pranks occur in the same reality. For the purposes of continuity, we will treat each scene as a unique instance.

The fourteenth time, Nate and Zari pig out and eat several cans of canned whipped cream straight from the can.

The fifteenth time, Zari is seen trying on a Roman soldiers costume in The Waverider's wardrobe room.

The sixteenth time, Zari starts a snowball fight and attacks Mick in the kitchen.

The seventeenth time, Zari is seen playing with Mick's flamethrower while wearing his goggles.

The eighteenth time, discovers a Stradivarius violin in one of The Waverider storage rooms.

The nineteenth time, Zari is seen trying on Nate's Steel costume.

The twentieth time, Zari is seen eating a cheeseburger while reading some type-written pages.

The twenty-first time, Zari is wearing Hawkgirl's old helmet.

The twenty-second time, Zari is seen practicing the violin.

The twenty-third time, Zari walks past Sara as the loop begins and dramatically catches Ray before he falls.

The twenty-fourth time, Zari is seen playing the violin with more skill.

The twenty-fifth time, Zari finishes reading the pages and says that Mick's story isn't bad.

The twenty-sixth time, Zari walks up behind Ray and Mick as they are arguing in the laundry room, holding up cue-cards of their conversation behind their backs.

The twenty-seventh time, Zari attempts suicide in front of Sara, which gets Sara to believe her about the time loop. This time, as the team is discussing a plan, they discover that the trash compactor is backed-up, which leads to their discovery of Gary Green.

Gary Green appears for the first time since 303.

Gary explains that he learned The Waverider was due to explode at 4:20 Temporal Standard Time.

The bomb was hidden inside the eight-track tape, apparently planted by Damien Darhk.

Zari's simulator activated when Zari asked it how to find a way to avert her family from dying in 2042. The conclusion was that the only way to find a loophole was to keep working with The Legends but that she would leave the team following her fight with Sara unless she developed an immediate bond with the team. It also concluded that without Zari, the team would have no way of defeating Mallus or averting the future of 2042.

Gideon appears "in the flesh" to Zari - the first time she's done so since 213.

Gideon denies having run Zari through a simulation when she wakes up. Zari does prove that her knowledge is accurate, however, by telling Ray to tell Sara what John Constantine told him in 310.

Ray tells Sara that John told him to kill her if Mallus took control of her again.

Zari tells Sara that she knows Sara is afraid of loopholes because she's afraid it will make her destroy time trying to save her sister.

Sara agrees to help Zari try and save her family since Sara thinks the future is an open book and Zari's past is her future.

Zari tells Nate and Amaya that she knows about them using the mind-blanker to forget about their having sex and that they should really talk about their feelings.

Zari tells Mick that his novel is good, but he should rework the ending.

Zari is now able to play the violin like an expert.

Sara is seen to be laughing while talking to Ava Sharpe on the phone in the jump-ship.

Rip Hunter finds Wally West meditating at a temple in Yunnan Province, China in 2018.

Rip Hunter appears for the first time since 305.

Wally West was last seen in S308 at Barry Allen and Iris West's wedding.


Location

The Temporal Zone.
Yunnan Province, China - 2018


Untelevised Adventures

All of the team, except for Zari, have an off-camera adventure which involves them having to ensure the battle of Waterloo occurs as planned after Napoleon Bonaparte gets a hold of an eight-track tape of the song "Waterloo" by ABBA after winding up in 1975. This requires Nate, Amaya, Sara and Ray to disguise themselves as a disco band while Mick retrieved the tape and apparently punched Napoleon.

There appear to be a few passes Zari made through the time loop between attempt ten and attempt eleven where she encountered other traps on the box holding Mick Rory's typewriter.

We don't know precisely how many times Zari passed through the time loop, but she spent enough time repeating the same hour to learn how to play the violin.


The Bottom Line

A great episode. One of the five best in the series history, at least.