Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No Arrow Episode Guide Entry Until Thursday

Due to my working tonight and heading out to a Halloween event immediately after, I shan't be able to watch Arrow and update the episode guide until tomorrow night.

Until then, have a safe and sane All Hallows Eve!

And a special congratulations to Danielle DeLisle & Nathan Webb, who are getting married today!

Arrow #4 (Web Comic) - A Review

Arrow #4 offers us a look at the past of Oliver Queen's bodyguard, John Diggle.  Despite being one of the more interesting supporting characters in the series so far, we don't know much about the background of "Digg".  In fact, beyond his being a soldier and having a brother who was in the security business as well, we don't know anything about the man save that he takes his job very seriously.

The story presented here by series executive producers Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheimn offers us a dual insight into both Diggle's past and personality.  The action centers upon Diggle and his men being ambushed  after Diggle - against orders - stops their convoy to check on a young girl who appears to be injured and distressed.  Diggle proves to be an true soldier - a man of ideals who sees his uniform as a symbol of honor and acts accordingly.  He follows the spirit of the law, not the word itself.  I'm not much for military-style comics in general, but the script here is engaging and the action well-paced.

The art by Eric Nguyen manages to excite, despite being rendered in the dull greys and browns appropriate to the setting.  Nguyen dodges the trap many modern war comic artists fall into, avoiding excessive posing in his figures.  Everything here has a sense of motion to it, even the scenes that are clearly meant to be still and quiet. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Doctor Who Day 2012 At The British Emporium

I'm still going to be busy with photo editing from this weekend for a few days.  But I wanted to write a quick note about what I did today to steel myself before sequestering myself away for a time and mention a wonderful little shop in downtown/historical region of Grapevine, Texas.

The British Emporium carries a wide variety of British foodstuffs, souvenirs  and - our main point of interest - Doctor Who swag.  You have to love any shop that has a K-9 mascot and I have to pay tribute to them as the only place in DFW one can purchase Jelly Babies - a must have for any Fourth Doctor cosplayer.

They also organize an annual Doctor Who Day, with screenings, quizzes, costume contests and such.  I wish I had taken more pictures but I spent more time talking to people and posing for pictures than I did playing photographer.  It was a fun time and if you're an Anglophile in need of a certain special something, you might check their website to see about a mail order.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Out For A Few Days

Due to my computer at home having hard drive issues and my laptop having issues with connecting to my scanner and home Internet, I won't be posting any comic reviews for a few days.

Not that it matters since I'll be ludicrously busy this weekend, what with my shadowcast doing three shows in two nights.

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and would like to get in on the Halloween fun a little early, visit  to purchase tickets for either our Friday Rocky Horror performance or our Saturday Night Double Feature of Rocky Horror & Repo! The Genetic Opera.  There will be a Rocky-Themed Costume Contest on Friday and TWO Costume Contests on Saturday for general costumes and Repo! Themed costumes.  Even if you don't win a prize, everyone in costume gets free candy!

Blood and Thunder, Have The Gods Gone Mad?

SOURCE: Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Going To Play Conan The Barbarian Again

Okay.  Flawed though last year's Conan The Barbarian starring Jason Monoma might have been, was there anyone who understood that Conan existed as a character before 1980 seriously thought "What this movie needs is more Schwarzenegger?"

Apparently so.  Because they are now planning a movie based around Conan's days as King of Aquilonia, starring Schwarzenegger for as Summer 2014 release.

Why do I think this is a bad idea?  Two main reasons.

1. Let me be blunt.  Arnold is showing his age and is nowhere near in the shape he was in 10 years ago, let alone 30 years ago.  He may be able to get whipped into shape before then but...

2. I'm a little concerned that the people in charge haven't seem to have put much thought into the story past "Conan's last battle". I'm also concerned about there being no nod at all to the original Howard mythos which - apart from the plot involving a magic mask that Cimmerian's had a hand in guarding the shards of - the 2011 film was fairly faithful to.
Oh well.  They've been talking about a Conan The King movie for years.  Hopefully it will continue to remain in the same development hell as the  Rose McGowan Red Sonja movie.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Arrow Reviews: Season 1, Episode 3 - Lone Gunmen

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


While confronting a businessman whose company stocked the local slums with faulty smoke detectors, Ollie is surprised to have his current target taken out from a distance as he himself is shot with a poisoned bullet.  His investigation leads him to an infamous assassin, known only as Deadshot.  Meanwhile, Tommy tries to rekindle his relationship with Laurel.  And on the home front, Thea continues to rebel against Ollie's attempts to make her clean up her act.  But Ollie finds an unexpected ally in that battle and quickly realizes that in order to cope with catching Deadshot, whose next target includes his family, he may need to make some alliances in his other life. 


Green Arrow: Year One (the island sequences), Hamlet (it's even referenced this time directly with Walter Steele and Moira Queen being called Claudius and Gertrude), Robinson Crusoe (Ollie's rescue at the hands of a native he can't understand) and the Robin Hood legends where Robin earns Little John's loyalty after saving his life.


Ollie says that Curare is an incredibly rare poison.  While the form used by Deadshot may be unique or rare, the genus mentioned - Strychnos toxifera.- includes about 190 species of trees and lianas distributed around the world's tropics.  

Why does Deadshot tattoo his victim's names onto himself?  This seems like a remarkably stupid thing for an assassin who depends on anonymity to do.  For that matter, how can he manage to hold the needle that steadily while tattooing himself?


With this episode, Colin Donnell has finally grown on me as Tommy Merlyn.  Until now, Tommy has seemed to be nothing more than the shallow manipulator Oliver Queen used to be.  But this episode reveals some hidden depths to Tommy's character, as he proves bold enough to try and back Ollie up in a fight, even though he knows he's going to get his butt kicked.  He also seems honestly sorry about sleeping with Laurel Lance when he thought Ollie was dead.  Not bad enough to not try and rekindle the relationship, of course... but one can have depths and still be a bit of a jerk.

Susanna Thompson also gets a chance to add some layers onto Moira Queen this time around, appearing for the first time to actually care about her children as something more than well-groomed accessories and actually acting like a mother rather than a distant ice queen.


A note of praise to the writing staff this time, for dodging all of the obvious cliches with the character of Detective Quintin Lance. He is an over-protective father but he is portrayed as being realistic in his relationship with his daughter.  He doesn't like The Queen/Steele family - or most of the other idle rich of Starling City - but he doesn't let that intefer with his job apart from a few snarky comments.  He is concerned about "The Hood" operating in his town, but doesn't let his hatred of a vigilante working in his town blind him to the obvious fact that Deadshot's killings do not involve The Hood.  This kind of intelligence in father figures and cops is unusual in both television and comic book writing.  Bravo!


Reference is made to The Glades - the slums of Star City in the original comics.  Apparently it's the same in Starling City.  Oliver's hideaway is in The Glades.

The poison Deadshot uses on his bullets is Strychnos Toxifera a.k.a. Curare.  Curare is a general term for any of the various plants used by South American native tribes to coat their arrows.  The word "Curare" literally means "arrow poison".

Deadshot is said to have killed people in "Chicago, Markovia and Corto Maltese."  Markovia is a fictional European country in the DC Universe, homeland of the superheroes Terra and Geo Force.  Corto Maltese is a fictional island off the South American coast in the DC Universe, first mentioned in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and named in honor of the Italian action comics series Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt.

One of the names among Deadshot's tattooed victim list is Joe Cray.  This is also the name of a Senator, whom Deadshot killed in the pages of Suicide Squad.  (Thanks to Debi L, who originally spotted this!)   

Oliver asks to see a man in the local Russian Mafia named Alexi Leonov.  This may be an alias, as Alexey Leonov was the name of a famous Russian cosmonaut and the first man to conduct an EVA a.k.a. Space-Walk.

The local Russian mob boss says that a man named
Anatoly Knyazev speaks well of Oliver.  Oliver says that he should, given that Oliver saved his life.  Anatoly Knyazev is the real name of KG Beast - a Russian super-soldier/assassin and frequent Batman villain back in the 1980s.

Ollie ditches Diggle once again, abandoning him when his name is not on "the list" as he and Tommy go clubbing.

Diggle takes Ollie and Tommy go to a restaurant called Big Belly Burger.  In the DC Universe, this is the name of a popular fast-food franchise.  The Big Belly Burger we see here appears to be more of a burger-bar style restaurant.

Deadshot's real name, as in the comics is Floyd Lawton.  His portrayal here is little like the original character in the comics, who does not tattoo the names of his victims onto himself.  He does, however, seen to have a similar attitude of professionalism regarding his work, assuming Arrow is another assassin and asking for a little professional courtesy. 

Floyd Lawton's hotel room number is 52 - once the official number of parallel universes in the DC Multiverse.  Also the number of monthly comics published during DC Comics recent company-wide revamp, widely known as The New 52.

Ollie takes Deadshot's damaged laptop to a Queen Enterprises tech named Felicity Smoak.  This is also the name of a software company manager in the Firestorm comics, who filed a lawsuit against the hero for destroying her company's property.  By coincidence, she started dating the father of Ronnie Raymond (one of the two people who merged to become Firestorm) and eventually became his step-mother. 


Deadshot's signature bullets are 7.62 mm, coated in Strychnos toxifera.

Dialogue Triumphs

Diggle: So how was your evening, sir?
Ollie: You mean after I said I had to to go to the bathroom at dinner and never came back?

Diggle: (beat) I guess from now on I'll be watching you pee.

Tommy: Look, man.  About Laurel... I was going to tell you.  I was just trying to figure out the right way...
Ollie: .. to tell somebody that you slept with their girlfriend after they went missing and were then presumed dead.  What, there's no greeting card for that?

Ollie: Digg?  Got your eyes open?
Diggle: That's what I'm here for, sir.  That and answering patronizing questions.

Dialogue Disasters

Ollie: I was in my coffee shop, surfing the web, and I spilled a latte on it.
Felicity Smoak: Really?
Ollie: Uh-huh.
Felicity Smoak: Cause these look like bullet holes.
Ollie: My coffee shop is in a bad neighborhood.

Continuity: Ollie was shot through the shoulder with an arrow on the island.  He knows how to treat a bullet wound and poisoning, keeping some kind of antidote in his trunk.  Thea Queen was brought home once after being picked up for public intoxication and in this episode is brought home after she and some friends break into a store.  Ollie's teenage years were apparently as turbulent as Thea's and Ollie takes his mother to task over this, saying he needed parenting more than space.  The cops refer to Oliver as "The Hood".  Ollie once slept with the fiance of a club owner named Max Fuller at the rehearsal dinner for his wedding.  One of Oliver's tattoos identifies him as a Captain in the Russian Mafia.  Tommy, despite being horribly outclassed in a fight, is still ready to try and defend Ollie in a 3 on 1 fight against a group of bouncers.  Laurel took self-defense classes at her father's request and is capable of easily dropping a larger man in a one-on-one fight.  Diggle has a sister-in-law named Carla who works at a Big Belly Burger.  Diggle's brother Andy apparently worked in security as well and died on the job.  One of Deadshot's victim-name tattoos is of "Andrew Diggle". Ollie is capable of performing intricate forensic analysis and identifying a poison but isn't computer savvy enough to pull the data from a damaged computer.  Ollie is a good enough shot to shoot a man through the eye.  The island Ollie was trapped on was populated by a group of killers who laid out booby-traps including net-snares.  By episode's end, John Diggle is aware of Ollie's secret identity.      

The Fridge Factor

Averted, as Laurel comes to Ollie and Tommy's rescue after they are pulled into a backroom by the bouncers working for a club owner, whom Ollie cuckolded in the past. 

The Winick Factor

Considering everything we've seen Ollie prove capable of so far in the series, it's a little surprising that he isn't tech-savvy enough to pull information off of a damaged laptop.  It's also a little unbelievable that Ollie will trust to a strange employee keeping quiet about his asking questions about a laptop that obviously isn't his enough to question her as himself.

The Bottom Line

This episode was somewhat of a disappointment though that may just be the Deadshot fan in me moaning since I'd hoped he'd be a recurring villain, given the history between Green Arrow and Deadshot in the original comics.  And the scene with Felciity Smoak, whose actress tries way too hard to be a delightfully quirky manic pixie dream girl during her brief time on screen, is painful to watch even if you ignore Ollie's stupidity in approaching someone about his computer problem in his secret identity.  Despite this, the ensemble cast manages to salvage everything as the strength of their characters and the well-written script soldiers on  The paired scenes are particular effective, with Ollie/Digg, Laurel/Tommy and Thea/Moira playing particularly well off each other.  It's good, but not great.

Arrow #3 (Web Comic) - A Review

Arrow #3 represents a serious step-down in quality from the previous two issues.  Written by Beth Schwartz, it tells us the back-story of Chien Na Wei  a.k.a. China White - the Triad assassin we saw pitted against Ollie in the second episode of the Arrow TV series.  Sadly, this tale does little to develop her beyond being a stereotypical Dragon Lady.

The hardened drug-dealer created by Andy Diggle for Green Arrow: Year One is nowhere to be found.  Instead we have an abused girl, who was spared by the assassin who killed her parents and then watched for several years.  He then offers to train her as an assassin after young Na Wei injures the hand of one of the girls who bullies herThe script is packed full of cliches and if I never read another story where an Asian female protagonist is abused by her parents and recruited to join an assassin's guild, I'll be a happy fanboy.

The art by Jorge Jimenez is somewhat better than the script, continuing Arrow's tradition of using Grell-like artists with heavy shadows and dark color palettes.  Appropriately, most of his character designs and style reflect an Eastern-influence but some of the details being obscured by the inks do cause some confusion.  It is hard to tell in the above scan, for instance, whether China White has abandoned her Barbie Doll or whether she killed the blonde mean girl who made fun of her.

Conan: Queen Of The Black Coast Motion Comic!

I usually don't like motion comics, but by Crom this is good!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Green Lantern: New Guardians #13 - A Review

With this issue, Tony Bedard has exhausted my patience as well as what little credit I was able to extend to him.  Bedard's writing has missed with me more than it has hit but I was willing to give the man his due since his Green Lantern writing was largely good up until The New 52 relaunch.  Plus, he was the only writer working with Green Arrow (albeit it briefly, through Birds of Prey) who acknowledged that Oliver Queen was a rape victum that he had never cheated on Dinah Lance until after his return from the grave..

So why now?  Why has New Guardians #13 accomplished what an entire year of completely pointless meandering didn't and made me drop this title?    Because this issue, released over a year since we should have received a full backstory for Kyle Rayner, reveals that the only part of Kyle's backstory that has remained constant is the one part that honestly could have - no, should have been changed.  I speak, of course, of the incident that coined the phrase "Women in Refrigerators" - the death of Kyle's girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt.

I've written before about Alex as a character and the ramifications of her death, so I won't repeat those arguments here.  I will say that given that most of Kyle's previous love life is now impossible since three of his four ex-girlfriends never existed in the New 52 universe (Donna Troy, Jenny-Lynn Hayden-Scott and Soranik Natu, for those keeping track), it really adds nothing to Kyle's character to have Alex exist in this new reality only for her to die horribly again.  It's particularly vexing here since Major Force - the villain responsible for the death in the original universe - no longer exists in the New 52 universe and the flashback we see here just has Kyle refer to non-specific enemies that came with his job being responsible for Alex dying.

It may be unfair of me to blame Bedard for the decision to bring Alex back only to have her die again.  The decision may have been handed down by DC Editorial.  But I can blame Bedard for the poor execution of this story.  Say what you will about Ron Marz but while he freely admitted to creating Alex only so that she could be killed off, at least he spent a few issues building her as a character so that you cared when she was taken away. 

Bedard fails to do that and fails to make this issue, which apparently follows after the most recent issue of Red Lanterns, stand on its' own merits as a story on any level.  What is meant to be the first hard lesson Kyle learned as a hero and his defining tragedy is reduced to a footnote, revealed in the middle of a training montage as Acrocitus of the Red Lanterns tries to teach Kyle how to harness the power of Rage without a Red Lantern ring. 

You wouldn't think the artwork could possibly make this mess of a story any worse.  Somehow, Andrei Bressan and Amilcar Pinna manage it.  In reviewing the last issue, I compared Bressan's artwork to that of Frank Quietly, noting the similar detail-oriented styles while also noting that Bressarn was a poor visual storyteller.  Those problems continue throughout this issue, as well with the pages I think were drawn by Amilcar Pinna, which  resemble nothing less than a poor parody of Rob Liefeld, with tiny eyes and consantly gritted teeth. 

Do not buy this book.  Do not even read it in the shop.  Go spend your money on Green Lanterns Corps and leave this one to die.

Supergirl #13 - A Review

Supergirl #13 mingles elements both old and new.  It was written by one writer, Mike Johnson - now working solo after co-writing this book for the previous year with Michael Green.  It has a new artist - Sam Basri - most recently seen working on Voodoo.  And it brings us the return of the series' first original villain - Simon Tycho. Tycho is a billionaire collector of alien artifacts who, thanks to the injuries earned after he foolishly tried to add Supergirl to his collection, had what was left of his body grafted onto "a transluscent alien jelly-man".

Johnson does a good job setting Tycho up as a character and keeping the action flowing.  Unfortunately, despite Tycho's new powers solving the largest problem with his character concept (i.e. he's basically Lex Luthor with hair and OCD) he still doesn't seem to be much of a threat.  For all the build-up the character receives, Kara is able to defeat him fairly easily.

That being said, I do like how Kara is able to neutralize him in a fairly clever way that doesn't involve her punching her way to a solution.  The end of the issue also sets-up a wonderful new status quo for the book as Kara gains her own Fortress of Solitude.  She also finds a way to keep in touch with the outside world without being overwhelmed by it. 

Sami Basri's style differs greatly from this book's previous artist.  Basri's art possesses a feeling reminiscent of modern manga, with thin lines and light inks.  It's an effective look for the most part, though some of the character expressions seem muted and dull. 

Despite the changes, this book is still a good read.  Indeed, despite it basically being a cliff-hanger resolution for Issue #12, it still manages to be accessible to new readers who might be jumping on after Zero Month.  We can only hope the book remains as accessible and self-contained during the upcoming H'El On Earth crossover. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dallas Fan Days - Day Three - Part Three

I call this set of pictures, Old Friends & New.

 Taffeta Darling (Two Face above) and some friends formed a group of cross-played Batman villains. 

 Jeremy and I met the day before in the line for Felicia Day autographs.  Then, he was dressed as Buddy Christ from Dogma.  Today, he was Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  He took most of the pictures you see below that I am in.

 I ran into Krystal here when Jeremy spotted her from afar in the middle of a crowd.  Naturally, we had to pose a bit together for the teaming masses.  Turned out we had some mutual friends in the local costuming community yet somehow didn't know each other.  Small world, eh?.

"Look, Ollie!  I'm just like you now!"

 Artemis: Do you want the mustache on or off?
Green Arrow: Uh.. off, please.
Too bad!

 Me and Alan Tudyk, who voices Green Arrow on Young Justice.

I kept my promise to Felicia Day and let her see both costumes.  She still preferred Hobo Ollie Queen.

Dallas Fan Days - Day Three - Part Two

It was a good day for costume fun. Got some good pictures of some people I knew and I made some new friends. I'll tell those tales later. To start, let's look at some superheroes.

Wonder Woman 
Power Girl 
Black Widow & a Cross-Play Link. 
(Incidentally, anyone else notice a lot of Black Widows lately?) 
Captain America 
 Sailor Moon 
Sailor Venus & Wonder Woman 
Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner's Terra 
Vic Sage - The Question 
The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing! 
Of course you get costumes besides superheroes, even at a ComicCon.

Dr. Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation
Scorpion & Rain from Mortal Kombat

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dallas Fan Days - Day Three - Part One

I took a lot of pictures today.  And I posed for even more as Green Arrow.

I'll likely be posting these a little at a time over the next few days, as people mail me pics I posed for.

In the mean time, check out the sites of these very cool people I met for the first time this year.

Wild For Wednesdays

Dastardly Cromwell - Villain Rules Inc

144 Creations

Lotus Comics Press

Mental Diversions

SciFiFX - News & Podcast

The Brothers Gromm Present Hootybee

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dallas Fan Days - Day Two

Sadly, I had to work this Saturday, so I wasn't able to make it out to the Con until 5 pm.  But that didn't stop me from getting a few pictures and a few autographs as things were dying down.


 Wonder Woman

 Psylocke, Domino & Wolverine

Mad Moxxi &Axton from the Borderlands games.

 Tony Stark, on break between drinks and groupies.

 Codex  from The Guild.

The Riddler

Black Cat, Ms. Marvel & Black Widow

Cowgirl Wonder Woman, Black Widow & Cowgirl Supergirl

Me as Homeless Green Arrow.  Oh, and FELICIA DAY! (singing angels)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dallas Fan Days - Day One, Part Two

And now for something completely the same... more cosplay pictures!

 I wasn't the only longcoat-wearing Brit transplant in attendance.  He is known by many names.  The Laughing Magus.  The Hellblazer.  John Constantine.  But mostly THAT BASTARD!

A nice classic Robin, The Boy Wonder.

 Cowboy Joker.  Yee-Haw-Ha-HA-HA-HA!

Red Robin & Black Bat.

The Little Mermaid

I don't know who she's supposed to be, but the gun is awesome.

Cross-play Loki.

Invisible Woman & Batman

Robin & Harley Quinn.  I was afraid to ask about the blood.

Harley Quinn and me.  She's the one on the left.

THIS IS SPARTA... armor.