Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Concise Response To Anyone Who Thinks Rape Threats Are An Appropriate Response To Anything


SOURCE: IN YOUR FACE JAM: Anatomy Of A Bad Reaction 

SOURCE: Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment 


I have little time and even less patience to deal with this issue.  I think Brett White and Andy Khouri did a fine job discussing this issue and the most recent scandal in the above-linked articles.  But because dealing with this problem is the responsibility of all men of conscience, I decided I should offer my own thoughts, however briefly.

Here then is my statement to anyone who thinks that a disagreement over anything - much less comic books - is justification for a rape threat.


GO FORNICATE WITH YOURSELF, YOU STUNTED MOUTH-BREATHING MAN-CHILD!


Thank you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 19 - The Man Under The Hood

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



Plot

What remains of Team Arrow launches a daring midnight raid to destroy Queen Consolidated's Applied Science building.  It's a small victory and a Pyrrhic one, as Deathstroke seeks other means to create his army of Mirakuru-infused soldiers from a STAR Labs holding facility.  At the same time, Ollie tries to make amends with Thea - not only to save their relationship but what remains of the Queen family fortune.  And all the while Laurel Lance weighs the knowledge she has been given and ponders what she will do know that she knows Oliver Queen is The Arrow.

In the flashbacks, Ivo bargains for a quick death as he offers Ollie what he wants most - a cure for Mirakuru.


Influences

Green Arrow: Year One (the island sequences), Dennis O'Neil's Justice League of America #75 (the idea of Ollie losing his company and fortune to a corrupt business partner), Green Arrow: Into The Woods (Isbela Rochev taking over Oliver Queen's company and her motivations for doing so) and countless Batman comics where Commission Gordon is given a chance to learn Batman's secret identity but refuses to do so.


Goofs

Something occurred to me with this episode - where is Walter Steele in all of this?  Granting that he's now working for a bank instead of Queen Consolidated, you'd think he'd be involved in trying to stop Isabel Rochev's takeover and help save the Queen Trust Fund if only for the sake of his step-kids.  There may not be much he can do but you'd think he'd merit a mention!

Felicity and Diggle say they went to Roy's apartment and found it cleaned out.  What happened to the house Roy was living in back in Season One?  (Possibly destroyed during the Earthquake and he moved into an apartment afterward?)

Ivo claims he was able to create a cure for the effects of Mirakuru... despite never having access to the original formula.

Kate Spencer says it best when she warns Laurel to be careful in her continued attempts to blackmail her "because it will not always be this easy."  Laurel should not have any leverage over her father's case, much less any leverage period as a rookie assistant D.A. with only a few months experience with most of that under a recently fired/disgraced assistant D.A. who willingly withheld evidence from the defense during a major murder trial!  That's ignoring the completely legitimate issues that caused Laurel to be fired only a few months earlier regarding her substance abuse problems and her discredited claims that a popular Mayoral candidate was a murderer.  It should be ludicrously easy for Kate Spencer to paint Laurel as a classic disgruntled employee attempting to abuse her position at best and a drug-crazed lunatic at worst.


Performances

Willa Holland knocks it out of the park with her speech about how betrayed she feels.

Summer Glau is genuinely creepy as Isabel Rochev here, letting her mask crack for a moment as she reveals the obsessive woman who is determined to take everything she thought her "true love" wanted her to have.  The whole scene prompts memories of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

And yet it is Paul Blackthorne who steals the show with his brief turn delivering "The Commissioner Gordon speech" about why he doesn't want to know who The Arrow is and his importance as a symbol.


Artistry

The opening heist scene as Team Arrow blows up Queen Consolidated's Applied Sciences building is well-played on all fronts.  Ditto Deathstroke's assault on the Arrow Cave before the first commercial break.

The lighting/make-up during the flashback scenes with Ollie talking to Ivo leave him looking like The Starling City vigilante from Season One.

The music as Ollie goes to stop Slade from giving his blood to his minions is particularly haunting, sounding like a combination of broken machinery and an out-of-sync heartbeat.


Trivia

The Robert Queen/Isabel Rochev affair mirrors Green Arrow: Into The Woods.  In that story, Isabel Rochev was a slave in a Siberian diamond mind owned by Queen Industries, who caught the eye of Robert Queen while on a business trip.  Somehow, she got it into her head that Robert Queen loved her and intended to leave his wife and son to make her "his queen".

Caitlin and Cisco - the two STAR Lab employees doing inventory when Deathstroke raids their warehouse - are Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon - two characters who will be reoccurring figures on the upcoming The Flash TV series.  Their names correspond to the secret identities of the super-villain Killer Frost and the superhero Vibe.  Indeed, Cisco actually asks if Caitlin is "getting a bad vibe" off of something at one point.

As Caitlin and Cisco are fleeing Slade, Caitlin unlocks the cage containing equipment that used to belong to a Dr. Arthur Light, whom she describes as "a psycho" who was fired from STAR Labs two years earlier.  This is a reference to the supervillain Dr. Light, who used light-based technology to commit his crimes.  Like Deathstroke, Dr. Light was a frequent foe of both the Teen Titans and Green Arrow.

Cisco attacks Deathstroke with a gun that seems to unleash some kind of sonic blast.  This could be the catalyst for his own future superpowers.

Reference is made to an Iris who has been visiting Barry Allen while he was in his coma.  This is a reference to Iris West - Barry Allen's on-again/off-again girlfriend in the comics and future wife in some stories.

The director of STAR Labs is Dr. Harrison Wells.  This is close to Garrison Slate - the founder of STAR Labs in the comics.   

Another reference to Bludhaven - apparently Roy went there after leaving Starling City.



Technobabble

Felicity makes use of William Tockman's Skeleton Key.

Slade steals an experimental bio-transfuser from STAR Labs.  It can deliver blood from one single subject into multiple subjects at once.  It requires a massive amount of power, making it possible to track it by looking for an appropriate power spike.  

Ollie uses an explosive arrow in his fight with Slade.

Ivo says he was never able to replicate the formula for Mirakuru but he was able to create a "cure" to counteract and reverse the physiological effects of the drug.


Dialogue Triumphs

Anatoli: They say living well is the best revenge. *chuckles*  I prefer torture.

Thea: I tried to kiss my half-brother before my real father killed him!  That's how screwed up I am!  And you know the sad part?  I was actually starting to be in a good place.  I had the club.  I had Roy.  I had a brother who wasn't lying to me.  And for the first time in my crazy life, everything didn't seem so completely and totally messed up.  I thought I was going to be okay... I'm so stupid!
Ollie: You're not stupid...
Thea: No, what I am is the daughter of two mass-murderers.  Not one, but two!  So let's face it, Ollie... I was never going to be okay.  It's not in my genes.

Quentin:  There was a time I would have thrown in my badge to find out his name.  You know that.  But then I realized I didn't care who he was.  In fact, I didn't even want to know who he was.
Laurel: Why not?!
Quentin: Because I knew if I knew who he really was that he would become a person.  Maybe he's got family.  Friends.  People that care about him.  Some other life.  And then he couldn't be what I needed to him to be. What this city needs him to be.  See, The Arrow... the man...The man under the hood isn't important.  Can you imagine what it's like to be him?  What he has to live with day in, day out?  What that's got to be like?  The least I can do is sit here and do a little bit of time for him.

Ollie: Thea, whatever dad's faults were... he loved us.  All of us.  Because we were his family.  You were his daughter and some stupid blood test wasn't going to change that.  He chose us.  He chose you.  He made a decision to be your father even though he didn't have to be.  So what does that tell you?
Thea: It tells me that he was a liar.  Just like both of you.


Dialogue Disasters

The first scene in the Arrow Cave features some of the most painfully rendered exposition in the history of the show, as Ollie, Felicity, Sara and Diggle all tell each other precisely why they just did what they did in the opening scene.

Kate Spencer
: How's your father?
Laurel: He'll be better once you drop all charges and sign his release papers.
Kate Spencer: He is facing eighteen months!
Laurel: Yes, but he is not going to stay here another day unless you want me to resign and embark on an exciting new career as a criminal defense attorney, whose sole ambition will be to sue the district attorney's office for wrongful arrest and reckless endangerment!
Kate Spencer: Your father will be released on his own recognizance within the hour.  And reinstated tomorrow.


Continuity

Felicity makes reference to William Tockman from 214.  She also makes use of one of his devices to break into the Queen Consolidated Applied Sciences building.

Felicity notes the Queen Consolidated Applied Science Building is the same building where they met Barry Allen in 208.

The doctor who treats Sara at the hospital following Slade's attack notes the last time he saw someone with that many scars, he was examining an Iraq war veteran.

Thea makes reference to how she almost kissed Tommy Merlyn while drunk in 106.

Felicity knows Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon as Barry Allen was moved to STAR Labs in Central City after his condition deteriorated.

Reference is made to Barry's semi-girlfriend, Iris West.  Felicity was not aware of Iris' existence.

Isbael Rochev was trained in combat by Slade Wilson.

Isabel Rochev confirms that she had an affair with Robert Queen but claims to have been his soul-mate.  She further claims that the only thing that stopped him from running away with her was Thea breaking her arm after falling off a horse the day they were going to fly off together.  The incident apparently changed Robert Queen's mind and he fired Rochev the next day and never spoke to her again.

Rochev also confirms that Robert Queen knew about Moira's affair with Malcolm Merlyn and that Thea was not his daughter but he ultimately decided it didn't matter.

Quentin Lance is attacked in prison by a convict he helped collar.  Laurel is able to parley with the D.A. to get the charges against him dismissed and arrange for him to be reinstated to the SCPD.

Roy Harper's fate is revealed.  Slade and Rochev captured him at a shelter in Bludhaven and used him to start transfusing Mirakuru-infused blood to his soldiers.  He is saved by Ollie and Diggle but is left incredibly weak.

Slade is fast enough to parry arrows with a katana.

Diggle shows up in time to save Ollie from being shot by Rochev, downing her with his own gun.  This leads Slade to give Rochev a transfusion of his own Mirakuru-infused blood at the episode's end.

Ollie steals a Mirakuru vial from Slade to use to create Ivo's cure for Roy.  He confesses to the rest of Team Arrow that he didn't mention the cure before because he was ashamed to admit it existed because he chose to kill Slade rather than try to cure him five years earlier.

On the island, Ollie killed Ivo so that Sara didn't have to.

Felicity takes the Mirakuru sample to Cisco and Caitlin.  


The Fridge Factor

Laurel's extrapolating Sara's secret identity after all this time does little but make her look like an even bigger idiot than she's been all season since it took a doctor telling Laurel about all her sister's scars to let her put two and two together, even after being told Ollie's secret identity.


The Bottom Line

The episode starts strongly and then limps towards the finish line.  The action sequences are strong but Laurel's subplot drains the episode of much of its momentum.  Every time things with Slade and Rochev start to heat up, we cut back to Laurel very slowly figuring things out or very slowly figuring out what she's going to do.  The introduction of Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow also distracts away from what should be a gripping climax heading into the season finale.  In the end, this episode attempts too much and succeeds at too little.    

Arrow - Season 2, Episode 19 - The Man Under The Hood - Live Tweet Commentary

A live-tweet commentary on The Man Under the Hood before writing the latest entry for the Arrow Episode Guide.

Word of warning - this DOES have SPOILERS! So don't read this until you've seen the episode!


0:03 - Oh damn... everyone in the field and in action. Nice start!

0:06 - Nothing like starting the episode off with a bang.

0:10 - Ah. So they ARE sticking to Rochev's origin from the comics.

0:11 - DAMN good fight scene!

0:17 - Dunno if Laurel just doesn't believe it or she's getting evidence. Either way, I really don't care.

0:18 - Nice performance here by Willa Holland.

0:21 - Cisco... is that Vibe?

0:23 - what the.... WHY WAS LAUREL SITTING THERE?!?!

0:24 - So... lab tech named Caitlin... Fairchild?

0:31 - ... how can you make a cure for something you never had the chance to study in the first place?

0:33 - Okay... Summer Glau is going full-blown Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction here.

0:36 - Ugh.  If she kisses him, I am going to wretch.

0:42 - ... how the hell is Laurel able to make threats like that? She has no leverage! Seriously! NONE!

0:45 - Oh hell... didn't see that coming!

0:46 - Great performance from Paul Blackthorne, delivering the Commission Gordon speech. Bravo!

0:51 - Explosive Arrow FTW!

0:55 -Okay... so why didn't you mention this cure earlier when Roy was going crazy? Ollie, you freaking JACKASS!

0:59 - Well... that happened.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Batman Eternal #1 - A Review

I will say this for the writing team of Batman Eternal - they do not do things by halves.  There was a hint of this in the preview for this series, which depicted Harper Row (a supporting character from Scott Snyder's Batman) as a masked crime-fighter working alongside Batman, Selina Kyle as the new kingpin of the Gotham underworld and - in a shocking twist that saw fans across the Internet cheering - Stephanie Brown as The Spoiler.  And then we have this first issue, which opens with Gotham City in flames and Bruce Wayne all but crucified on the broken remains of the Bat-Signal.


Okay, book.  You have my attention.

We move past this scene set in a vague future, heading back to "Now".  It is here that we are introduced to Jason Bard - a good cop hired into Gotham by Commissioner Jim Gordon, who is unable to meet Bard for his first day at work as he is busily chasing down the mad scientist Professor Pyg alongside the Batman.  The action sequences there are thrilling but the true focus of the story is upon Bard, who is quickly introduced to just how bad Gotham City is and why Jim Gordon was so anxious to get an honest man like Bard into a command position in the GCPD.  By issue's end, we see a major change to the status quo of things in Gotham City and our first sign that someone is out to bring down Batman, one ally at a time.


Jason Fabok's artwork is as enthralling as the script.  I greatly enjoyed his work on Batman Annual #1 and the pencils and inks here are of similar high quality.  The figures are all clear and uniquely designed, with even the scenes of characters just talking to one another being well-blocked and far from static scenes of talking heads.

This book is a promising first issue.  I'm not sure yet if I'll stick around for the whole year-long saga, but it has my attention.  For now.

Batgirl #30 - A Review

By all rights, I should not have enjoyed Batgirl #30 as much as I did.  It isn't a superhero story but a horror story - probably my least favorite genre in all of fiction.  It's a diversion from the on-going story of this series, doing nothing to move any of the subplots forward.  Much of Batgirl's internal monologue is focused upon her feelings regarding Dick Grayson's apparent death in a recent crossover event I care nothing about.  And this version of Barbara Gordon - while undeniably sounding like Barbara Gordon throughout - nevertheless thinks about a lot of things I can't imagine Barbara Gordon ever thinking about, such as why she might be jealous of the Robins' having a closer relationship to Batman than she does.


And yet, somehow, Marguerite Bennett's script works.  This issue is a distraction, yes, but it is an entertaining one.  The story is a horror movie on paper - with Batgirl stepping in to rescue a group of college students who accidentally summoned the Gotham equivalent of Bloody Mary - but Barbara recognizes it as such and defies the conventions, remaining confident and poised throughout.  You don't question for a moment that while Barbara is loathe to believe in the supernatural, she still read something about evil spirits at some point and remembers what herbs in a standard spice rack could be used to banish a ghost... just in case.


The artwork by guest artist Robert Gill is similarly different from that of the usual creative team but equally enjoyable.  Gill has a clear, bright style that seems at odds with the dark world of Gotham City. Yet that clarity only serves to emphasize the darkness of the Midnight Man and the swarms of bats, bugs and other vermin that fall under his command as the issue progresses.  Gill proves that you don't have to drown a page in ink to evoke a horrific aura.

Bottom Line - this book is different from what I expect in a Batgirl comic, but it isn't bad by a long-shot!