Sunday, July 8, 2018

Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #2 - A Review

The Doctor, Ace and their friends in the Counter-Measures Group are still investigating the apparent crash of an alien spacecraft in the Australian Outback. Sabotage has delayed their efforts, but who is responsible? And could the alien menace they fear has come to Earth already be among them?


Christopher Jones continues to prove himself the consummate Doctor Who comic artist. His work on Titan Comics' Third Doctor mini-series was phenomenal and his work here is of equal quality. He perfectly captures the appearances of the actors from the classic television series and draws some fantastically imaginative visuals.

The story, I'm sad to say, will not be everyone's cup of tea. Unsurprisingly, Andrew Cartmel perfectly emulates the tone of a Seventh Doctor story. The problem is that what comes off well on film does not always work in a comic book.

While I personally love the sly Seventh Doctor and how he cunningly manipulated events while seemingly doing nothing at all, the pay-off in many Seventh Doctor stories usually came at the end when the conjurer's trick was revealed. I have no doubt we'll get a smashing reveal in the next issue but this issue comes off a little flat, with two page sequences of coded messages being silently translated and The Doctor not doing much beyond facilitating a high-speed escape.

Again, this is typical of the McCoy era, and fans of the Seventh Doctor will love it. Everyone else, sadly, will not see the point. In this, the comic perfectly captures the spirit of the era, though it does make it a bit inaccessible to new fans.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. It's perfectly captures the feel of a Seventh Doctor television episode. For good and for ill. 


Injustice 2 #64 & #65 - A Review

The Red Lanterns' siege of Oa continues in Injustice #64. The Red Lanterns' still have Starro The Conqueror on their side, and through it control of a Guardian and many Green Lanterns. Can Hal Jordan find it in himself to be a leader again?  If he can, will The Green Lanterns follow him despite his past crimes?



An unexpected arrival turns the tide of the battle in Injustice 2 #65. But the new arrival is not there to save Oa or to defeat the Red Lanterns. They have come for Conner Kent, the new Superman!




I regret that my Tuesdays of late have been so busy as to not find the time to discuss this book in a more timely manner. If pressed to pick a single favorite comic book right now, I dare say this might be it. Tom Taylor's command of these characters - many of whom no longer exist in the regular DC Comics universe (or, at least, are heavily sidelined) - is astonishing and I still say that when the current creative teams are done with their runs we need Tom Taylor writing a Green Lantern book.

As far as the artwork goes, it is ever fantastic. I have a slight preference for Bruno Redondo's clearer lines and Gabe Eltaeb's delicate inks over the grittier aesthetic preferred by Xermanico, but that is only because I think it generally fits the tone of Taylor's stories better. Generally, this is true, but Xermanico proves the perfect artist to draw the darker-toned Injustice 2 #65. The colors by both Juan Albarran and J. Nankan are spectacular and Wes Abbott is, as always, wonderful about using his balloon placement to enhance the action rather than obscuring it.

Bottom Line: There are both great issues. This is a fantastic series and it should be an obvious pick-up for anyone who loves the DC Universe.

The Final Analysis: 10/10 for both issues.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 - A Review

The time-traveling hunter known as Eson Duul has set his sights on the Greystone family. Now, Red Sonja and Tarzan are in a literal race against time. Fortunately, The Greystroke family is far from defenseless, as the son of John Clayton is known to the great apes as Korak - their word for killer! And he does not stand alone in the battle against Duul and his forces, even without his father and the She-Devil With A Sword!


Red Sonja/Tarzan #3 is surprisingly free of either of its title characters. It is not lacking in action, however, with most of the issue focused on the exploits of Korak, Son of Tarzan, and Windia - an African woman warrior who could give any member of the Dora Milaje a run for their money.

Those who have enjoyed this series so far will find the third issue contains more of the same spirited writing and action-packed artwork.The only real flaw, and I admit this is a nitpicky one, is that I expect to see more of Red Sonja and Tarzan in a book called Red Sonja/Tarzan. Thankfully, the final pages promise that in plenty next month.

The Final Analysis: 7 out of 10. Old-fashioned pulp action, marred only by our title characters being largely absent from this issue.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark #1 - A Review

You know her as Elvira: Mistress of the Dark - star of stage, screen, games... and comic books! Yet nothing you've seen can prepare you for the terror that awaits you, as Elvira falls through a time-traveling coffin and into horror history! Her first stop - a wild weekend with Mary Shelley and a real vampire in search of new brides.



Fans of the horror hostess with the mostess are sure to get a kick out of this book.Writer David Avallone perfectly captures the humor and voice of Cassandra Peterson, with all the puns and innuendo you'd expect of Elvira. The animated artwork of Dave Acosta and Andrew Covalt proves a good match for the story, ironically presenting a colorful view of a character so normally associated with black and white. People who don't get the joke will have a miserable time, but fans of Deadpool and the writing of Gail Simone will laugh themselves silly.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. If you like cheesy jokes and cheesy horror, this is a must read.

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 to 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!