Monday, October 24, 2016

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 3 - Welcome To Earth

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


When President Olivia Marsdin is attacked following her offer of amnesty to aliens living in hiding in the United States, the DEO is put in charge of her personal security. As Alex and a NCPD Detective named Maggie Sawyer butt heads while investigating the attack, Kara goes chasing after the mysterious young man in the rocket from Krypton who is their prime suspect.


The Max Fleischer Superman cartoons (Supergirl shielding The President mirrors a similar scene of Superman protecting Lois Lane with his cape),  The Adventures of Superman TV series (the line about "strange visitor from another world" is mentioned), the 1977 Wonder Woman TV series (Kara does the famous Wonder Woman spin at one point) and the Supergirl comics of Sterling Gates.


How is Mon-El able to speak English?

Given how frequently J'onn calls Kara to task for less, it's surprising that he doesn't call Kara out on jumping to conclusions regarding Mon-El clearly being their assassin because he's a Daxamite.

The Alien Amnesty Act waiting to be signed bursts into flame before a fireball gets close to the President's podium.

You'd think Kara or Mon-El would comment upon their having similar (if not exact) last names?

Unlike previous episodes, which made use of established races and planets from the rich history of the DC Universe, this episode throws out a number of references to apparently original places and peoples, such as Roltikkons, Inferians and Delvarians. While there's noting wrong with this, it is a shocking departure from form.


Lynda Carter may not be playing Wonder Woman in this episode but damned if President Marsdin doesn't have the same grace and poise. Nearly forty years later, she's still a wonder.

Floriana Lima immediately establishes Maggie Sawyer as the same sort of no-nonsense cop with a troubled romantic life that she is in the comics.

Chyler Leigh is often stuck with the thankless role of being the back-up or the deliverer of exposition. Left to her own devices for most of the episode, she proves more than capable of carrying the load as Alex investigates the assassination attempt without Kara.

Finally, Melissa Benoist manages a neat trick with this episode, revealing an ugly side of Kara we haven't seen and managing to make it jarring but not instantly off-putting. Seeing Kara spouting bigoted attitudes (albeit it towards an alien race) is just so shockingly out of character that it puts another spin on the episode's key themes.


The sequence in which Kara swoops in and shields The President from a fireball.

The script does a surprisingly good job of drawing parallels between the real-world issues of amnesty for immigrants and amnesty for aliens from outer-space as well as the comparisons between how aliens are treated in the world of Supergirl and how immigrants and LGBT citizens are treated as second-class in American society.

It's also worth noting that Maggie Sawyer - in defiance of the usual lesbian cliches in popular entertainment - does not immediately begin hitting on Alex Danvers, despite taking her to a bar and buying her a drink.

Super Trivia

The episode's title - Welcome To Earth - may be a sly reference to a line of dialogue said in the movie Independence Day, by an American fighter pilot (played by Will Smith) before he starts beating up an alien invader.

Lynda Carter - the actress playing The President - was the star of the 1977 Wonder Woman TV series.

According to some of the press materials for this episode, The President's full name is Olivia Diana Marsdin.  Diana, of course, is Wonder Woman's first name.

The scene of Kara protecting The President from a fire with her cape mirrors a scene from one of the 1940s Max Flesicher Superman cartoons.

Maggie Sawyer first appeared in Superman #4 (April 1987). One of the first openly gay characters in comic-book history, Sawyer was in charge of the Metropolis Police Department's Special Crimes Unit - the team charged with dealing with rogue metahumans and other tasks ordinary patrolmen and detectives weren't equipped to handle. She later became part of the Gotham Police Department and became romantically involved with Kate Kane (a.k.a. Batwoman)

The DCTVU version of Maggie Sawyer is a Detective in the National City Police Department Science Division, which serves a similar function to the MPD SCU. She is also a lesbian and apparently has no problem with dating aliens. Unlike her comic-book counterpart, who is a blonde Caucasian, this Maggie Sawyer is Hispanic.

The password to the alien-friendly bar is "Dollywood" and Dolly Parton music is heard every time we cut to the bar. This is a nod to Dolly Parton's status as a gay icon and her work as an advocate for LGBT causes, which parallel the aliens as immigrants and outsiders themes that fill this episode.

Maggie makes reference to being from Blue Springs, Nebraska.  This is a real-world town with a population of 331 people.

The young man in the rocket that Kara and J'onn found is identified in this episode as Mon-El. Also known as Valor, M'Onel and Lar Gand, he first appeared in Superboy #89 (June 1961).

A native of the alien world Daxam, Lar was an explorer who landed on Krypton shortly before it was due to explode. Luckily, Lar was found by Jor-El, who gave him directions to Earth. However, his ship was delayed in arriving and he arrived after Kal-El and developed amnesia during the long voyage. This - coupled with his developing powers under Earth's Yellow Sun - led a young Superboy concluding Lar must be his younger brother and calling him Mon-El.

The truth was tragically uncovered when Mon-El proved immune to Kryptonite. Believing he was part of some treacherous scheme, Superboy tried to trick Mon-El with a fake piece of Kryptonite made out of lead. It turned out that lead had an effect on Daxamites similar to Kryptonite, removing their superpowers permanently as well as lethally poisoning them. In guilt, Superboy sent Mon-El into The Phantom Zone until such time as a cure could be found. Later, in the 30th Century, Mon-El was cured of his condition by Brainiac Five and became a full member of The Legion of Superheroes.

In the DCTVU, Daxam is a sister-world of Krypton, orbiting the same red star. Kara claims that a war was fought between Krypton and Daxam, fought a bloody war to a stalemate hundreds of years earlier. The reason for the war (which Kara says Daxam started) was that Daxam was a monarchy of hoodlums and Krypton was a democracy made up of philosophers, scientists and explorers.

In the original DC Comics Universe, the world of Daxam orbited a red star but it was different than the star Rao, which Krypton orbited. The world was colonized by a group of Kryptonian explorers, led by an explorer named Dax-Am.  The colonists interbred with the original humanoid race that inhabited Daxam, abandoning their Kryptonian roots and naming themselves Daxamites. The Daxamite culture that developed was intensely xenophobic.

The President's speech regarding the Alien Amnesty Act has a line about how "No longer will our alien visitors be strangers."This is likely a reference to the opening narration of the classic The Adventures of Superman TV series, which described Superman as a "strange visitor from another world."

While not identified by name or alien species in the episode, and pre-production materials identify the alien assassin played by actress Nadine Crocker by the name Scorcher.

There are several DC Comics villains who have used the name Scorcher, but none of them were aliens and only one of them resembled the character we see on the show physically.  This Scorcher - the second one - was a red-haired metahuman named Cynthia Brand, who was an enemy of the monster-themed superhero team/rock-band Scare Tactics.

In terms of personality and powers, Scorcher is reminiscent of Volcana - an original villain created for Superman: The Animated Series. While not an alien, she maintained the same cynical atttitude and fire creation/manipulation powers as the DCTVU version of Scorcher and was ultimately defeated in the same way - by depriving her of the oxygen that she needed to breathe and to power her flames.

Supergirl does a deliberate super-fast spin to beat out the flames that have engulfed her body. This may be a nod to the classic Wonder Woman TV series, where Diana Prince would transform into Wonder Woman by doing a super-fast turn that ended with her wearing her costume.

When Supergirl talks about how cool it was to see Air Force One, The President says that Supergirl should see her other jet.  This is a wink and nod joke to Wonder Woman's famous Invisible Jet.

Miss Martian first appeared in Teen Titans #37 (August 2006). Born to the Martian name M'gann M'orzz, Miss Martian claimed to have been sent to the Vega system in a rocket by her parents during the war between the White Martian and Green Martian species in order to save her. This story was true with one fine detail ommitted - M'gann was a White Martian posing as a Green Martian, due to the White Martian's war-like nature and negative attitudes towards them on Earth. M'gann, however, rejected her racial heritage and worked to protect her adopted home.

The DCTVU version of M'gann M'orzz works as a bartender at the alien-friendly bar in National City. It is unknown at this point if she is truly a Green Martian or a masquerading White Martian.


The burn pattern on the bodies of the dead Secret Service agents is consistent with the signature of a heat-vision blast.

Maggie Sawyer deduces that the blasts that killed the Secret Service agents either came from a Kryptonian or a Inferian.  Both species have heat-vision.

Alex makes use of the special DEO ID card that can camouflage itself as other forms of Federal ID - in this case, The Secret Service.

L-Corp has developed and is planning to mass-market a hand-held device that can determine whether or not a person is human through a simple touch-pad skin-test.

Winn is able to track Mon-El by reactivating the tracker on his DEO-issued medical bracelet.

Roltikkons are a humanoid alien species capable of making telepathic connections by making physical contact with the dorsum of the tongue. This can allow them to learn new languages.

Winn catalogs the Seven Lost Tomes of the Delvarian homeworld.

Dialogue Triumphs

People in this world don't have much tolerance for others who look different. I say that as an alien and someone who has worn the face of a Black man for 15 years.

(Supergirl lands next to a girl in the crowd waiting for The President. The girl is awestruck.)
Supergirl: (pointing to Air Force One) It's pretty awesome, right?
Girl: Do you know her?
Supergirl: (flustered) Uh, no. No. Not yet. I'm pretty sure we'll be cool.  You know?

President: I'm surprised now that your true identity is known to the world you don't live openly as your Martian self.
J'onn: I find looking human makes people feel more comfortable.
President: Hopefully my Alien Amnesty Act will change that, for you and everyone else from beyond the stars that have made Earth their home. I know the DEO's mission is to hunt renegade aliens but that mission is going to have to adapt. You disagree, Director?
J'onn: I do, Madam President. There are aliens out there - killers who wouldn't understand the concept of the very rights you're offering them. Evil creatures who could take advantage of your good will.
President: I imagine the very same thing was once said about you, J'onn J'onzz. But someone gave you the benefit of the doubt. Isn't it time we payed that forward? I can think of no better time than the present to extend our hand in friendship.
J'onn: Even if that hand might get bitten off?
President: One has to have hope.
J'onn: What if it's false hope?
President: False hope? It's hope, J'onn.  How can it be false?

(A waitress brings Alex and Maggie two beers. The waitress takes a long look and Alex and then turns to Maggie.)
Waitress: You moved on quick.
(The waitress walks away as Alex turns to stare at her.)
Alex: That waitress?  Is she Roltikkon?
Maggie: Yes. She is.
Alex: I've read Roltikkon can form telepathic connections by making physical contact with the dorsum of the tongue.
Maggie: How do you think she learned English? She's my ex.
(Alex's jaw drops as she finally gets the waitress's remark from earlier.)
Maggie: I don't strictly date aliens for the record. Though I do like them more than most humans.
Alex: Why?
Maggie: I can relate to them, I guess. Growing up a non-white, non-straight girl in Blue Springs, Nebraska? I might as well have been from Mars. I was an outcast and I felt like it. Our alien neighbors? They're no different. Most of them are hard-working immigrants or refugees just trying to get by. They have to hide who they are in order to survive. I can sympathize with that.

Kara: We had a saying on Krypton for Daxamites - "May tex kolar Daxam."
Alex: And that means?
Kara: ... nothing i can repeat in English.

President: My fellow Americans. Over a century ago, this nation erected a monument in New York Harbor - a Statue of Liberty. That statue looked down on Ellis Island, where thousands of immigrants came to seek refuge from a home country that didn't want them and wouldn't have them. But America took them in. That is our story. The American people today stand as one with history. No longer will our alien visitors be strangers, committed to the shadows, forced to the fringes of a hostile and unwelcoming world. They will be granted the full rights and privileges of American Citizens. The Statue of Liberty will stand for aliens too!

Dialogue Disasters

Kara: Why did you send a broadcast to Daxam?
Mon-El: It was a distress call.
Kara: Why were you sending a distress call?
Mon-El: Because I'm in distress!

(Supergirl talks about how cool it was to see Air Force One.)
President: If you think that's cool, you ought see my other jet.


Mon-El likes Zakkarian ale.

Daxam was destroyed when Krypton blew up.

As she walks away from the DEO, The President's face turns red and her eyes glow slightly blue, indicating that she is an alien of some kind.

J'onn discovers that he is apparently not the last Green Martian after all.

Untelevised Adventures

Kara talks to Alex about talking to The President after saving her life, but we don't get to see it happen. (A scene cut for time?)

The Kryptonite Factor

Given J'onn's frequent paranoia, it seems unlikely that he wouldn't have investigated other avenues of inquiry despite their bringing a Daxamite into custody.

The Bottom Line

Certainly the most ambitious episode of Supergirl to date in terms of politics and story structure, with numerous parallels between the story and real world event. It's a shame then that the villain is so under-developed and undefined and Kara's bigotry - despite being well-played by Melissa Benoist - still seems hastily forced into the story. The episode also overdoes it on the Wonder Woman gags in the end but the cast manages to keep things from getting too cheesy or preachy. Now if only they could find something for James Olsen to do besides look like an idiot at work...

Starman Plays Monkey Island 2 Special Edition - Part 1

In which we begin our hunt for The Treasure of Big Whoop (TM). But first we have to start a flashback, lose the treasure we have now and harass the humble merchants of Woodtick Village with our stupid questions.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Aquaman #9 - A Review

The living weapon launched by the sinister organization N.E.M.O. has torn its way through Atlantis. Now it moves upon Arthur Curry's childhood hometown of Amnesty Bay. Not even the full might of the Atlantean Navy was able to stop the creature - what hope does one lone man have against such power?

Comparisons between this storyline and The Death of Superman are inevitable and doubtlessly intentional. Yet the stakes are much higher, with Aquaman having to stand alone not because he is the only one capable of fighting a monster but because of how events contrived to make him the only one able to fight the monster. Dan Abnett has done a masterful job of building the drama in this series since the first issue and that drama is perfectly presented through the artwork of Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher and Gabe Eltaeb.  If you aren't reading Aquaman, you're missing out on a great comic!

Lucifer #11 - A Review

There is much to admire about this issue, but - if asked to choose only one page to hook you all as I have been hooked - I would have to choose the image below. In it, The Guardian of Hedgehogs explains the history of Lucifer's life. I should perhaps mention that one of the characters in this series is a goddess whose only job is watching out over hedgehogs. If that fact doesn't make you want to read this book, I don't know what will.

I'm increasingly afraid that I won't be able to review Lucifer. It's a shame because I love this book. Holly Black has continued the original stories by Neil Gaiman and Mike Carey perfectly and the artwork by Lee Garbet and Antonio Fabela is some of the best to come out of Vertigo Comics in years.

So why can't I review it?  Because the enormity of this series is so grand and intricate that my simple reviews cannot do them justice. There is no way for me to easily much less eloquently summarize the multiple subplots and story-lines this series contains.  Lucifer is no more comic book - this is a legend.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #13 - A Review

A self-duplicator dubbed Enigmo has taken over the world by cunningly splitting himself into millions of clones and slowly working his way into several key positions. Trapped in the wilds of Canada without a decent wi-fi signal, Squirrel Girl is powerless to do anything.  The good news is that Brain Drain (Squirrel Girl's appointed substitute hero while she was on vacation) has brought her reinforcements.  The bad news is that the reinforcements are Scott Lang sans Ant Man costume and he's a little cheesed about being dragged to the wilds of Canada on account of the whole "convicted felon not allowed to leave the country" thing.

Ryan North is one of the greatest humorist working in modern comics. There are multiple levels to the comedy in this issue and it's impressive how he manages to keep all the gags moving like a master plate-spinner. From the idea of a villain taking over the world through hard work and showing up to the animosity between Doreen and Scott (she has objections to mind-controlling animals, he thinks she's nuts for actually talking to squirrels) and the well-meaning incompetence of Brain Drain whose purely logical perspective leads to totally illogical actions, this series has a lot to keep you laughing.

Erica Henderson matches Ryan North quite well. Her animated style perfectly presents the comedic timing North's scripts require and colorist Rico Renzi does a fantastic job finishing the artwork. Yet attention must also be paid to guest artists Anthony Clark and Hannah Blumenreich, who provide the artwork for one of the series' best running gags - 'Deadpool's Guide To Super-Villains' Information Cards. Get Marvel's Marketing wing on making that product a reality!