Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 9 - The Book Of Little Black Lies

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


As tensions build between Jefferson and Gambi in the wake of the revelations of Gambi's role in the death of Alvin Pierce, Jefferson keeps trying to work to clear Black Lightning's name and train Anissa only to discover that Jennifer has begun to manifest super powers as well.


The Black Lightning comics of Tony Isabella.


Some of the dialogue in this episode is extraordinary clunky in its exposition. ("Have you forgotten your father, Black Lightning, is being framed for a crime he didn't commit?')

It really doesn't help Black Lightning's case that he's innocent of murder if he's threatening to kill a prominent corporate lawyer with a lightning ball if he doesn't get help.


China Anne McClain manages to make Jennifer's fears over her powers relatable without making her seem like a self-absorbed brat. This is surprisingly realistic and her concerns over what her powers mean - like if she'll be able to have children like she wants to - explore a side of superheroes that is rarely explored.


The final five minutes and the action sequence of Thunder and Black Lightning taking down the Green Light lab is probably the best the series has had yet.


Jennifer makes a reference to Vixen - a DC Comics superheroine who draws her power from a necklace that lets her replicate the abilities of any animal. Two different versions of Vixen have been depicted in The DCTVU. It is unclear if Vixen exists on the same Earth as Black Lightning as a fictional character or if she is a real superheroine.  The same is true of Supergirl, whom Lynn makes reference to.


Gambi looks for the manufacturer of a directed energy weapon that could mimic Black Lightning's powers.

Black Mamba venom is refereed to as the kiss of death. It is a fast-acting poison.

Dialogue Triumphs

Black Lightning: Yo... yo, you strike me as a good man. A good man who knows that a lot of the men he's working with ain't.
Inspector Henderson: You know, it's so easy for someone like you. There's no rules. No one to answer to.
Black Lightning: Yeah, well.. it ain't always easy, Brother. But neither one of us signed up for easy.

Lynn: I know exactly what you're going through.
(Jennifer rolls her eyes, sighs and sits up.)
Jennifer: Well, not unless you came in here to tell me you're Vixen.

Jennifer: Anissa, I don't want to be like this.
Anissa: This is who you are, Jennifer. This is who we are. And, listen, you can think of this as a burden. Or you can think of it as a gift, a blessing from God. Choice is yours. We are who we are.
Jennifer: But that's the point! The choice is not ours! We don't have a choice! Doesn't that piss you off, just a little bit?
Anissa: Not as much as the thought of a woman getting raped or beaten down because Thunder wasn't there to protect her.

Doctor: I'm not a bad guy! I'm a doctor! I just-
Black Lightning: Kill thousands of people every day with this poison you're making?


Black Lightning refers to the destruction of the evidence that could have cleared him, which occurred in 108.

Jennifer smokes marijuana.

Anissa refers to how she broke her sink in 101.

Anissa refers to herself by the codename Thunder for the first time.

Anissa tells Jennifer that Jefferson is Black Lightning.

Alvin Pierce's file on the vaccine also contained references to a bribery case involving a local politician - Tobias Whale - along with the research regarding the vaccine.

Lynn makes reference to Vixen and Supergirl, like Grace did in 103. It is still unclear if these heroines exist in the same world as Black Lightning as real superheroes or as fictional characters.

There was a check to Alvin Pierce from BendsCORP in his files.

Alvin Pierce would say GTC instead of Gotcha.

The man Gambi shakes down for information about the weapons emulating Black Lighting's powers was named Thomas Hildago.

Anissa tells Jennifer about her physical fight with their father in 106.

Thunder has more fans on-line than Black Lightning.

The weapons dealer who has the special energy weapons is named Caleb Scott. He lives at 1245 Goff Avenue.

Gambi tells Anissa about his past with the ASA, though he does not identify them by name. He tells her about the lab he broke into and how he saw the bodies of some of the young people he helped to hunt down 30 years earlier.

Gambi gives Anissa the super suit he made for her.

Lynn confirms that she left Jefferson because of his being Black Lightning.

Anissa knows how to read lips.

The last time Jefferson and Jennifer watched a movie together was when she had the flu.

The Bottom Line

Another solid episode. It's a bit jarring not seeing Tobias Whale given his prominence in the early episodes, but the tight focus on The Pierce Family only helps to sell the drama. Despite this, the episode's final segment, in which father and daughter team up in the field for the first time as Thunder and Black Lightning is the best action sequence the series has seen yet.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 15 - Necromancing The Stone

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


When Mallus takes control of Sara and she takes up The Death Totem, Mick will have to overcome his dark side to save the rest of The Legends. Meanwhile, Ava recruits John Constantine to free Sara from Mallus' influence once and for all.


The Constantine: The Hellblazer comics series (John Constantine living in New York City, performing odd-jobs involving magic to make ends meet.), Swamp Thing #37 (John's line about being a nasty piece of work) and Hellblazer #41 (John's line about walking his path alone.)


Nice as it is for Wally to finally get a scene where his relationship with Jesse Quick isn't treated like an afterthought relative to everything else on The Flash, the whole scene where Wally makes his peace when confronted by a hallucination of Jesse that he knows is a hallucination is just lazy writing that serves no purpose other than taking Wally out of play so he can't tie up the possessed Sara in two seconds.

It is worth noting that most D&D players do not dress up in costume to play the game.


Caity Lotz does a great job playing against her self, as she is tempted by the Death Totem.

Matt Ryan is once again amazing as John Constantine.

Jes Macallan does a fantastic job playing off of both Matt Ryan and Caity Lotz in this episode as Ava Sharpe.


The production team did a great job establishing a spooky atmosphere on the Waverider set.

Trivia Of Tomorrow

The title of the episode is a riff on the 1984 action/romance/comedy Romancing The Stone.

Wally and Nate are sent on a mission to rescue a dog named Laika and return her to the Soviet Space Program. This is a reference to Laika - the first animal to orbit the Earth and prove that it was safe and possible for life to survive while traveling at the speeds necessary to achieve orbit.

When Zari and Amaya return from recovering The Mona Lisa, they say that they confirmed that The Mona Lisa was a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci in drag. This is an actual theory proposed by real world art historians.

Ava's profile of John Constantine fits firmly in-line with John's background in the comics. John does have an older sister named Cheryl. Both of his parents are dead - his mother having died in childbirth and his father having been killed by a serial killer called The Family Man. Reference is also made to The Newcastle Crew and John's accidentally condemning a girl named Astra to Hell, as depicted in the Constantine TV series.

It is unclear if the DCTVU version of John Constantine's sister is named Cheryl or if his parents died in the same ways as in the comics.

When Ava tracks down John, he is living in an apartment in New York City which he claims to have won in a duel and helping a woman perform a ritual to find her son a wife. This seems similar to the setup of the comic Constantine, The Hellblazer, where John briefly lived in New York City and performed freelance works of magic to help people when he wasn't busy tending to more vital work.

John makes reference to being heavily under the influence of Ayahuasca. Also known as iowaska or yagé, Ayahuasca is an potent drink used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon jungle basin. Those who partake of it often report spiritual revelations regarding their purpose on earth, the true nature of the universe as well as deep insight into how to be the best person they possibly can. (Perhaps not coincidentally, John's first published adventure in the comics involved him taking a trip to the Amazon Jungle with Swamp Thing.) 

John using psychedelic substances as part of his magic is a frequent occurrence in the comics.

The episode does make several references to the more recent editions of Dungeons and Dragons. These include referring to Constantine as a Warlock, which - in D&D - are magicians who work their magic by bargaining with mystical beings.There are also references to Wally West being a monk (warrior built around fast strikes and movement), Amaya being a druid (warrior/wizard who draws power from a bond with nature), Mick being a half-orc thief (half orcs are known for being crude and slow witted but powerful and quick to anger), Nate being a bard (warrior/wizard whose strength comes from their knowledge of history and lore) and Ray being a cheerful gnome who is also a mighty wizard. Zari is referred to as a sorceress - a magic user with a natural talent who typically draws power from their birthright.

Gary refers to his D&D campaign being centered around the search for six artifacts called The Swords of Sorrow. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was the name of a mini-series edited by writer Gail Simone (whose take on Black Canary informed most of Sara Lance's personality) and written by a number of female comic writers that saw various pulp heroines whose rights were held by Dynamite Comics (including Red Sonja, Dejah Thoris, Vampirella and many more) teaming up to recover the titular swords and fight an evil prince who drew power from the submission of strong women.

Several of John's lines in his conversation with Sara are taken directly from the comics. in Swamp Thing #37, he described himself as "a nasty piece of work" and in Hellblazer #41 he talked about walking his path alone.

The final scene of John playing D&D with Gary and his friends may be a nod to The Dresden Files - a series of novels based around a wizard/detective in much the same mold as John Constantine, who is also a old-school RPG gamer when he isn't busy fighting wicked faeries, vampires and demons.


Ray suffered a collapsed lung, three broken ribs and a shattered femur among other injuries after being attacked by Sara.

The Nostromo Sequence is a command programmed into Gideon and The Waverider which seals it off from the outside world and locks all the doors within it.

When Gary and Ava find John, he is chasing a live chicken around his apartment. This was apparently part of a ritual to help a woman find a wife for her son.

Zari can decouple the Jumpship from Gideon's mainframe so they can use it to escape The Waverider.

Normally when John Constantine draws a demon out of a possessed person, he has to use himself as a receptacle. Thankfully, John already has a direct spiritual connection to Sara's soul since they were lovers. This allows John to perform a ritual that calls upon Aken, the Ancient Egyptian ferryman of the dead, to take him to Sara in Mallus' realm. Ava is also able to make the journey since she and Sara are lovers.

John is able to track The Death Totem through time and space using a spell that requires a severed foot, a vile full of mothers' tears and his ruination stones.

Dialogue Triumphs

Amaya: With all these new anachronisms, the time tears are getting worse.
Zari: Yeah, I thought we were calling them "time cracks"?
Wally: What happens if we don't repair history?
Ray: Working theory? Time is frapped together like a smoothie. So instead of just dealing with Julius Ceasar in Aruba, we have to fight off Genghis Khan, a herd of woolly mammoths and a swarm of locusts from The Old Testament.
Nate: And Mallus is freed from Time Jail so he can rule over this giant mess.
Wally: Huh. So... worse than Flashpoint?
Ray: Is that what we're calling that thing that Barry did?
Wally: Mmm-hmm.
Ray: Uh - I think it's something similar.

(Sara hands out everyone's assignments.)
Sara: (tired)
All right. That's it. No snazzy send-off. Mama's got a headache.
(Everyone leaves. Zari gives Sara a reassuring pat on the shoulder as she walks past. Nate does the same.)
Nate: Even when you don't try, you've still got it.

(Sara opens the lock box containing The Death Totem.)
Canary: It calls to you, doesn't it? The Death Totem chose you.
(Sara looks up at the voice. She sees herself in her costume as The Canary.)
Sara: You're...
Canary: You. After you died.
Sara: ...This is the Death Totem.
Canary: It yearns for a new bearer. Imagine all you could do with dominion over the dead. You could banish that little girl from your dreams.... bring back your sister.
(Sara looks down into the box but shakes her head.)
Sara: I'm no totem barer.
(Suddenly, The Canary is standing by Sara's side.)
Canary: You've conquered your demons. You're strong enough to wield it. Pick up the totem, Sara. It's the only way to defeat Mallus. The six totems need six totem bearers. Who else on your team was born to wield Death?
(Sara looks at The Death Totem in the open box... her hand slowly moving towards it...)

(The Legends have been locked in the med-bay by the possessed Sara.)
Mick: I'm going to kill that witch!
Amaya: If you kill her, then Sara dies too.
Mick: Better her than me!
Nate: Dude! How can you say that?
Mick: By moving my lips!

John: Are you guys from the housing co-op? Because it's perfectly legal to win an apartment in a duel.
Ava: We're here about Sara Lance.
John: Ah. (John takes the chicken from Gary and hands it to the woman) Right. Well, ah, Mrs. Veras, we will have to continue the ritual tomorrow, but not to worry, love. We'll have your son married in no time!
Mrs. Veras: Gracias, Senor Constantine!
(John closes the door and chuckles in a somewhat embarrassed manner to Ava.)
John: It's a gig economy. I have to take the work where I can find it, you know?

Ava: What do you mean you already have a link to Sara's soul?
John: Well, let's just say our souls have been one. Leaves a metaphysical connection, love.
Ava: Don't call me "love".
John: Oh, pardon me, pet.
Ava: Sara and I also share a very, very strong metaphysical connection, so...
(John ahs and nods silently.) 
Gary: Wait... I can't believe.... you both slept with Captain Lance?!
Ava: Gary!
John: (slyly) Did we now? Well then, we both have excellent taste in damaged women.
Ava: Sara's not damaged!
John: Yeah, and I'm the bloody Pope.

John: There isn't exactly a paint-by-numbers spell for locating a spaceship floating in a temporal stream. My business card says "Master Of The Dark Arts." Not "Doctor Ruddy What's His Face."
Ava: Who?
Gary: Who?
John: Exactly.

Ava: Okay, so you have a foot, but you don't have a phone?! I - I just ... I really don't understand how Sara could have...
John: What? Shagged me in a mental institution?
Ava: Oh my God!
John: Oh, you have nothing to be jealous about.
Ava: I am not jealous! I'm just...
(Ava makes a gesture like she wants to strangle John, growls then sits down.)
Ava: Okay. Maybe I'm a little bit jealous.
John: Oh, we were just trying to find some calm in the storm.
Ava: I don't understand! Who sleeps with a warlock and then turns around and starts calling me her girlfriend?
Gary: She called you her girlfriend?
Ava: Yeah. And I really want to believe her...
Gary: ... but?
Ava: But I don't really think that Sara is a one-woman woman.
John: Well, if the price of admission is looking like a fool or getting your heart broken, then... well, I'd say Ms. Lance is pretty well worth it.
Ava: ... huh.

Gary: The Legends remind me of my D&D group. Don't laugh.
John: Too late.

(Sara takes the repaired Fire Totem from the nuclear reactor chamber.)
Amaya: This totem wasn't meant for me. You have to use it.
Mick: Forget it.
Amaya: You spent your entire life obsessed with fire and heat. What if this is the reason why?
Mick: How many times do I have to tell you?! I'm not a hero! Sara's a hero. And look what The Death Totem did to her.
Amaya: That was the work of Mallus. Most people who have seen what you've seen would have succumbed to darkness, but you didn't. You chose to become a Legend. You may try to hide it, Mick, but you're a good man.
Mick: What if you're wrong?
Amaya: (offers him the Fire Totem) There's only one way to find out.

Sara: (To Ava) You saved me again.
Ava: (glancing back to John and Mick) I had a little help.
(John throws a glance to Mick, who is still holding a fireball in his hand, transfixed by the flame.)
John: Well, while we're here... (coughs) A light?
(John puts a cigarette into his mouth and leans over the fire to light it.)

Sara: If you thought Mallus really would have freed Astra, you would have traded me, wouldn't you?
John: In a heartbeat. (pauses) Well, what can I say? I'm a nasty piece of work.
Sara: So am I.
John: But you survived, love.
Sara: For now.
John: You know, there's a reason why I prefer to walk this path alone. It's uh.. so I don't have to share with anyone how lost I really am. But you're not alone, are you, Sara?
Sara: Maybe I should be.
John: She's a good one. Try not to hurt her.
Sara: (quietly) That's what I'm afraid of.
John: Hmm.
Gary: So the question is... are you prepared to join us on this mission most deadly?
(Gary reaches across the table and opens his hand to reveal a twenty-sided dice.  We pull back to see John Constantine sitting across the table from Gary. He takes the twenty-sided dice.)
John: Well tonight, squire... I'm all yours.


Sara called out the name John in her sleep.

Sara tells Ava about how she slept with John Constantine but only sees him as a friend.  This happened three weeks before she became serious about Ava.

Sara refers to Ava as her girlfriend.

The cracks/tears in the fabric of time in the temporal zone are getting worse.

Ray refers to the events of 301.

Wally refers to Barry Allen's alteration of the timeline, which resulted in the divergent dimension he called Flashipoint, in F301.

Mick sleeps in the nude.

Sara plans to go on a solo mission to save Einstein, who is stranded in The Ice Age.

For some reason, Mick refuses a mission to "rescue a Ruskie pooch."

Ray refers to 313 and the events that led to him retrieving the secret of cold fusion to repair The Fire Totem.

John Constantine does not currently (i.e. Spring 2018) own a phone.

Gideon is incapable of feeling rage.

Zari is claustrophobic.

While possessed by Mallus, Sara has the powers of telekinesis and teleportation.

The possessed Sara takes out Wally using the anti-speedster gun, first seen in 208.

John Constantine is 36 years old. He has an older sister and both of his parents are listed as deceased. His profile with The Time Bureau lists him as part of "The Newcastle Crew" and describes how he accidentally summoned a demon that dragged a girl named Astra Logue into Hell.

John is described as a true Warlock.

Gary Green plays a Level 9 Warlock in Dungeons and Dragons.

John Constantine now has an apartment in New York City which he won in a duel.

John learned what happened to the sixth lost tribe of Zambesi while heavily under the influence of Ayahuasca. (This seems similar to the tea made of the Lyoga Root from 303 used to enter the Zambesi Ancestral Realm.)

According to John, the sixth "lost" tribe of Zambesi were charged with stewardship over the realm of Death. They allied themselves with Mallus as the other five tribes moved to imprison him.

While not totally certain on this point, John believes that the sixth tribe's betrayal may have caused The Death Totem to have been corrupted by Mallus. He confirms that The Death Totem is inextricably linked to the demon now. 

Zari used to read to her younger brother. His favorite story was "The Prince of Timbuktu".

Gary has an aunt named Stacy.

Gary likes Beebo.

Doctor Who exists in The DCTVU.

John kisses Gary, who does not seem at all repulsed by it.

The girl from Sara's nightmares is revealed to be the daughter of a man she killed while she was part of The League of Assassins.

Nathaniel is tormented with a vision of his grandfather, who refers to the events of 214.

Zari loves cats.

Ray was successful in repairing the Fire Totem.

Mallus impersonates Astra's voice in a bit to make John back-off of his exorcism ritual.

Sara offers John a bed on The Waverider. He says he's tempted to take it but reminds her that he prefers to work alone.

Sara theorizes that Mallus can attack a person by making them see their worst fears. In this case, Sara was tormented with the idea that she could never move beyond being a killer, Wally was confronted with the loss of the strongest love he had ever known, Zari was tormented by the brother whose death drives her and Nate was called a disappointment by the grandfather who was his inspiration.

Wally says he liked Sara with silver hair.

Sara breaks up with Ava, saying she doesn't deserve her.

The final scene depicts John playing Dungeons and Dragons with Gary and his friends.


The Temporal Zone
New York City - 2018.

Untelevised Adventures

Zari and Amaya are sent on a mission to Billings, Montana in 1997 to recover The Mona Lisa before it winds up on an episode of Antique's Roadshow.

Wally and Nate go on a mission to rescue a dog named Laika and return her to the Soviet Space Program.

John learned the lost lore of Zambesi and the sixth tribe that was erased from oral legend while under the influence of Ayahuasca.

Once, while on a massive bender, John Constantine cast a spell on a Beebo toy to make it talk. The things it said made even his toes curl.

The Fridge Factor

Unfortunately, this episode brings back everyone's least favorite subplot - the idea that Sara has some kind of inherent darkness that has ruled her for her entire life - and runs with it to let Sara angst over how she doesn't deserve to be loved by a good person like Ava. While it is refreshing to see this sort of storyline with a female protagonist (usually only male superheroes are allowed to play the "I don't deserve you" card), it's still annoying that the writers can't think of any other way to develop Sara's character. At least we're spared hearing about how "Laurel had a light."

The Bottom Line

You know it's a great episode when they can bring back the idiotic idea of Sara having some inner darkness that can't be dispelled and it actually works. Chalk that up to some great acting from Caity Lotz, as Matt Ryan and Jess Macallan run riot over each other. The new Constantine series can't come fast enough and, a bonus, this episode came out the day it was confirmed that Legends of Tomorrow is getting a fourth season with Matt Ryan as a regular cast member. The only downside is that now I want to stat all the Legends characters for D&D.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Titans #21 - A Review

Roy Harper is convinced he has uncovered a super-villain conspiracy but Donna Troy fears he may be back on heroine and hallucinating. When Dick Grayson and Wally West go to confront their friend and former teammate, who will emerge victorious in the fight that follows?

Usually whenever you have a comic where the heroes are fighting other heroes, it is lazy padding. Granting I may be biased as a Roy Harper fan who is thrilled to see a story that remembers that Arsenal is a master strategist and no mean detective, Dan Abnett still writes a fantastic issue full of pathos, ethos and action.  The artwork is top-notch, with Paul Pelletier giving every panel a sense of active motion - even the simple scenes of characters talking on the phone. The finishes by Andrew Hennessy and Adriano Lucas are also excellent.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10.

Batgirl And The Birds of Prey #20 - A Review

In the wake of Gus Yale's death, the secrets of The Birds of Prey have been lain bare and the team is all but broken. Black Canary hid the fact that her powers were still overclocked from a previous encounter.  Batgirl hid that she was using intelligence stolen from The Calculator to influence their activities. And Huntress... well, she's been visiting her crime-boss mother in prison and has been called to act as a character witness at her parole hearing. Despite the tension between them, the three heroines must come together again and soon, as the robotic assassin Burnrate begins to arrange a different sort of union...

Unfortunately, this series is coming to a close and I'll be sad to see it go. The Benson Sisters' stories have been nothing short of phenomenal and I've greatly enjoyed how they revitalized the classic Birds of Prey line-up for the reality of Rebirth. I just wish they'd had an art team worthy of their work. While not as bad as they've been in earlier issues, Roge Antonio's pencils are still incredibly uneven (particularly during the action scenes) and while Marcelo Maiolo's lighting effects are decently applied this month, this is still a very rough-looking comic.

The Final Analysis: 6 out of 10.

Injustice 2 #49 - A Review

Amazo has been defeated, but the followers of Ra's Al Ghul who helped to bring about his defeat now face a difficult battle to escape from Gorilla City with their lives. Meanwhile, two teams must begin to rebuild and tend to the wounded - those wounded physically and those whose pain lies in their hearts and minds.

The better portion of this issue is devoted toward some rather intensive action sequences. Despite this, Tom Taylor still finds plenty of time to devote to quieter character moments - both serious and comedic. The quality of his writing is equaled only by the fantastic artwork by Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran, Rex Lokus and Wes Abbott. This continues to be one of my favorite comics.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10.