Thursday, February 27, 2014

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 14 - Time Of Death

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


With Sara Lance now a part of Team Arrow and officially Ollie's girlfriend, Felicity has come down with a bad case of envy.  A new villain - dubbed The Clock King by the press - isn't helping her inferiority complex, proving to be a technical genius capable of matching Felicity note for note.  Will Felicity save the day?  Or has her time come and gone?

At the same time, Laurel continues to stew as Quentin attempts to rekindle his relationship with ex-wife Dinah and restore the broken bonds between all the members of his family. 

In the flashbacks, our heroes' plans to assault Ivo's boat are interrupted when a plane is shot down over the island.  With the pilot dying and their sudden hope of rescue lost, Sara will face a difficult request.


Green Arrow: Year One
(The Island sequences), Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch (possible inspiration for fight between Felicity and Clock King as well as Sara's relationship with Sin) and the film Batman and Robin (reference to MacGregor's Syndrome).


Dinah Lance says she never expected her daughter to come home.  This despite having been convinced (rightly, it turned out) that her daughter was alive and well somewhere back in Season One.


Once again, the entire ensemble rises to the occasion.  Even the characters who barely have cameos get their good moments.  Of particular note is Stephen Amell, who shatters any and all accusations that he is incapable of emoting strongly as he gives Laurel the dressing down she's needed all season.  Caity Lotz is also noteworthy for the sheer amount of variety and levels she displays throughout the episode in dealing with all of her relationships.  Finally, Emily Bett Rickards manages to play off what could have been an incredibly annoying plot turn (i.e. Felicity as jealous girl) with surprising subtlety.  


As usual, all the fight sequences are amazing.  But the sequence in which Ollie must flag down a bus to prevent it from running into a train is probably the best.


The first business The Clock King robs (and his former place of employment) is Kord Industries - a business familiar to long-time DC Comics fans as the company run by techie-superhero Blue Beetle (a..k.a. Ted Kord)

There are a number of villains who have used the name Clock King, but William Tockman was the first.  I recently wrote an article on the history of all the characters who have used the name Clock King that can be read here

The Arrow version of Clock King seems to be a combination of the original Clock King from the comics (same name and the motivation of needing money to take care of a sick sister before his own untimely death) as well as Temple Fugate - the Clock King created for the Batman: The Animated Series, with whom he shares an amazing gift for precision and efficiency.  He also borrows a number of Temple Fugate's time-related catch-phrases.

Unlike the comics, William Tockman's sickly sister is given a specific disease - Cystic Fibrosis. 

Clock King's adversarial relationship with Felicity resembles that between Oracle and The Calculator in Birds of Prey, particularly in the Perfect Pitch arc.

The bus Ollie flags down has a poster for a Blue Devil movie.  In the comics, The Blue Devil was a superhero.  Stunt-man/special effects expert named Daniel Patrick Cassidy built an full-body costume and super-strong exoskeleton to play the title role in a movie about a creature called "The Blue Devil".  One of his co-workers summoned a real demon (like you do) and the resulting magical backlash caused Daniel to become trapped in his suit.  His new look transforming him into something of a weirdness magnet, Daniel became a superhero.

Another reference to Gail Simone's Birds of Prey and the Perfect Pitch trade-paperback can be found in the relationship between Sin and Sara Lance.  In the comics, Dinah Lance adopted a young girl named Sin, who was being trained by the League of Assassins as their next great killer.  As in the show, Black Canary and Sin referred to each other as Little Sister/Big Sister.

The disease William Tockman is said to suffer from - MacGregor's Disease - is very close in name to MacGregor's Syndrome.  In the movie Batman and Robin, MacGregor's Syndrome is the fictional disease which Nora Fries suffered from, which inspired her husband Dr. Victor Fries to use experimental cryogenic technology to freeze her until he could find a cure.

More 52 references - William Tockman's address is 52 Nelson Way and he hides the tech that lets him destroy Team Arrow's computers in a Channel 52 news truck.

Sara says she used to tend bar at a placed called Oblivion.  This may be a reference to The Oblivion Bar from the comic Shadowpact.  However, it is unlikely to be the same bar as THAT Oblivion Bar existed in a pocket dimension and catered exclusively to magic users.

In the now infamous All-Star Batman and Robin comic, Black Canary was a bartender. 


The Clock King's medication is a fictional drug called Asmobarbitol.  This seems to be a common fake-drug name, as the same drug was apparently prescribed to Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica.  This is also close to Amobarbital - a real medication used for treating insomnia and anxiety disorders.

William Tockman suffers from MacGregor's Disease - a non-existent but real sounding fatal disease that causes a build-up of fluid in the lungs, oxygen deprivation and eventual multi-system organ failure.

Dialogue Triumphs

Not really dialogue, but you can catch a quick glimpse of Felicity clutching a bo-staff as if she's about to swing for Sara's head when Sara and Ollie kiss after working out together.

Clock King: The strongest of all warriors are these two - time and patience.
Clock King:
It's from War and Peace.  1440 pages.  It takes a while but it's worth the read.  Tolstoy knew that patience was the epitome of strength.  It takes fortitude to stand still.  Just as it is a sign of weakness or cowardice to move when you SHOULD NOT!

(At Sara's 'welcome back' party, Sin runs forward to hug Sara)
Thea: Uh... Sara, this is Sin.
Roy: (confused) Wait... do you two know each other?
Sara: Ahhhh... No.. we don't.
Sin: (catching on) Right.  Uh...I just love it when people come back from the dead, you know?  It juices my zombie fetish.
(There is a long pause)
Roy: (offers his hand to Sara) Roy.
Sara: (taking it) Sara.

Again, not really dialogue, but the awkward physical business between Ollie and Quentin after Quentin apologizes to Oliver for having treated him badly in the past is hilarious.

Ollie: I didn't think you'd be here.
Moira:  This is my house.  And if you don't want to pretend to be mother and son then don't throw parties in my home.

(As his minions break into a bank vault)
Clock King: Extract as much money as you can in 90 seconds.
(the two henchmen start filling their bags)
Clock King: Stop!  Get out.
Thug: But we still have 20 seconds!
Clock King: (tensely) No you don't.
(We see the monitor The Clock King is staring at intently - which shows The Arrow storming down the hallway toward the vault.)

Thea: (to Ollie) You're lucky your life does not revolve around lying.

Ollie: Hey!
Laurel: You are unbelievable!  You lectured me - on how I need to repair my relationship with Sara - when you're the one who messed it up in the first place.   By screwing her!  And now you're doing it again!
Ollie:  You're right.  This is all my fault.
Laurel: Yeah!  Yeah!  Yes, it is!
Ollie: And is you losing your job... doing drugs... being a drunk.  Is that my fault?  Is that your family's fault?  Or are you going to blame Tommy for dying?
Laurel: Screw you, Oliver!
Ollie:  I stood by you through everything!  The DUI?  Losing your job?  I was concerned about your well-being when you were trying to get my mother the death penatlty! 
Laurel: (sarcastic) Yeah, and you've been a real stand-up kind of guy...
Ollie:  Look, do you think you're the only one who is having a hard time?!  You think you're the only one with family issues?!  You have no idea what is going on with my family right now! (pause)  But I am still standing here!  And you are are still blaming everybody but yourself!
Laurel: (pause) Are you done?
Ollie: Yeah.  Yeah, I'm done.  I'm done taking the blame.  And I'm done caring.  You want a drink?  Get wasted.  Go.  Go to Verdant.  I'll pay for it.  (pause) I have loved you for half my life. But I am done running after you.


Despite having a number of other colorful injuries, Oliver has never taken damage from a grenade. 

William Tockman is an encryption engineer by trade and an ex-employee of Kord Industries.

Sara knows how to do blood analysis.

Sara now has her own bike to ride around town with as Canary.  We see her and Ollie using separate bikes throughout the episode. 

Quentin Lance's specialty in the kitchen is Chicken Cacciatore.  He is, however, somewhat out of practice at cooking and admits to not having had a proper kitchen in six years.

Dinah Lance is a professor of Greek and Medieval History at Central City University.  She has apparently entered into a relationship with someone else and has no interest in rekindling her relationship with Quentin.

By episode's end, Sara is now employed at Verdant as a bartender.

Sara used to tend bar back in college at a sleazy place called Oblivion. 

Laurel attends her first group therapy meeting with Quentin.

Sin is revealed to be the pilot's daughter, whom he asked Sara to seek out and look after. 

The Fridge Factor

Too much of this episode is dependent on Felicity becoming uncharacteristically territorial and catty regarding another woman being in The Arrow Cave.  It's a cliche that shouldn't work as well as it does and it is a credit to both Emily Bett Rickards and Caity Lotz that they manage to make it work at all, much less as well as they do.

The Winick Factor

Ollie goes from being smart enough to realize he and Sara should hide their relationship in public at the start of the episode to attending a family-only dinner with her for no apparent reason.  Even a drunken, strung-out Laurel is able to put two and two together.  A bigger problem is just how long Ollie can expect to keep his identity hidden from Quentin Lance, if Arrow and Canary keep showing up at the same time Ollie and Sara disappear together.

The Bottom Line

An excellent episode in most regards.  The cast does a great job with what material they have to work with and there's a lot of good character moments in the script.  That being said, a lot of the drama is built around the cliches of women not being as territorial as cats, which really doesn't ring true when one of the women involved is Felicity Smoak  Still, it looks like Laurel is finally getting her act together and The Clock King is a worthy addition to the show's gallery of rogues.  Hopefully we'll see more of him in the future, assuming the character isn't really living on borrowed time.  . 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Many Faces Of The Contemptible Clock King!

Tonight's episode of Arrow brings with it the premier of their take on the classic Green Arrow villain The Clock King.  As such, I thought this might be a good time (no pun intended) to look at the long history of the many men to use the name.  Surprisingly, there IS a long history of time-themed villains in the DC Universe and various tie-in media.

The first Clock King was a man named William Tockman, who first appeared in World's Finest Comics #111 (August 1960).  Originally, Tockman was a decent man who doted on his sickly sister.  Until one day when, after a routine physical, Tockman's doctor informed him that he had a rare disease and that he had only six months to live.

Worried about what would happen to his sister once he was gone, Tockman planned a bank heist to secure enough money to see his sister taken care of for the rest of her life.  Since he was living on borrowed time and his plans hinged upon his knowledge of the unique timing mechanism installed in the bank's vault, Tockman dubbed himself The Clock King and donned an incredibly tacky clock-themed costume.

Tockman was captured by Green Arrow and imprisoned, where he found out that his doctor had accidentally switched his test results with those of another patient and that he wasn't going to do die after all.  Tockman's sister died shortly thereafter and Tockman swore revenge on Green Arrow.

Unsurprisingly, given his complete lack of training, Tockman was a complete wash-out as a super-villain.  He eventually joined up with the version of villainous Injustice League that reformed into Justice League Antarctica.  When that didn't work out, he formed his own villain team with a group of even more pathetic villains.  Eventually he was enlisted into The Suicide Squad, where he was finally (some would say mercifully) killed in the line of duty.

There was also a Clock King on the classic 1960s Batman TV Show.  Played by Walter Slezak, this Clock King was named Morris Tetch and made used of time-piece based weaponry and death-traps while trying to steal items relating to time and clocks.  Recently, the Batman '66 comic confirmed a long-held fan theory that Morris Tetch was the brother of Jervis Tetch, a.k.a. The Mad Hatter.   

Most superhero fans today are most familiar with the Clock King from Batman: The Animated Series.  This Clock King -  a lawyer and efficiency expert named Temple Fugate (a play on the Latin phrase tempus fugit - "time flies") - blamed Gotham City Mayor Hamilton Hill for having ruined his career.  Fugate had no super-powers but was a brilliant analyst who was able to match Batman in a fight after studying footage of Batman fighting and calculating how far in advance he would have to move to dodge Batman's attacks.  Fugate was later recruited for Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad in Justice League Unlimited and plotted the team's heist on the Justice League Watchtower.

Curiously, Temple Fuget's skill-set resembles that of a Golden Age villain called The Clock, who first appeared in Star Spangled Comics #70 (July 1947) fighting Robin. 

Like Temple Fugate, The Clock was also a master-planner and strategist. He even fought Robin on top of a giant clock!

The Batman: The Brave And The Bold cartoon introduced another Clock King.  This Clock King had a German accent and dressed in a kingly take on the original William Tockman costume, with a crown and ermine cape along with the traditional clock face mask.

There was yet another Clock King, who was never given a proper name or secret identity.  He was introduced during Sean McKeever's run on Teen Titans.  This Clock King was a master strategist but also possessed a weak form of precognition that allowed him to see four seconds into the future and react accordingly.

Recently, the New 52 Green Arrow comic has introduced a crime boss named Billy TockmanTockman rules the underworld of Seattle along with two other crime bosses, personally overseeing Seattle's waterfront.  He has yet to be addressed as The Clock King in the series but the lineage is clear enough.

Played by actor Robert Knepper, the Arrow version of Clock King appears to be a mix of the two most famous incarnations of the character.  He is named William Tockman but appears to be a master strategist and planner akin to Temple Fugate.  With the previews suggesting this Clock King was created as a foil for Team Arrow tech-expert Felicity Smoak, there is also a faint resemblance between the rivalry between the hacker heroine Oracle and the super-villain The Calculator, who filled a similar role offering strategy for a price to other criminals.

What will tonight's Arrow episode and the future hold in store for the Clock King?  Time will tell

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Two #4 - A Review

Unlike previous issues of Injustice, this fourth issue doesn't have any world-shaking moments.  There's no big splash panels of horrific deaths or shocking fight scenes.  Instead this issue collects a number of vignettes that subtly expand the world and the characters.  We learn that the Tower of Fate does get cell phone reception, that Amazons are not above talking to the gods to ask for a life to be saved when medicine fails to get the job done and that Barbara Gordon is indeed Oracle in this reality.  Small things, to be sure, but they do answer questions the readers might not realize they had about the nuts and bolts of the reality of Injustice.

This sort of thing is author Tom Taylor's bread and butter.  Yet he also manages to get in a fair bit of social commentary, as Barry Allen and Hal Jordan take it upon themselves to do the impossible - get the United States Congress to do their jobs and knock it off with the gridlock and grandstanding!  Leave it to an Australian to perfectly capture the absurdity of the American political system and to do it in a way that would make Dennis O'Neil proud. 

The art team continue to do a stellar job on the artwork.  Bruno Redondo's designs for the characters are clear and distinct.  I particularly like how his Hal Jordan resembles Nathan Fillion.  Julien Hugonnard-Bert goes surprisingly light on the inks, with much of the actual shading of the book being accomplished through highlights added into the colors by colorist Rex Lokus.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Red Sonja #7 - A Review

I would like to open this review by saying a few words about the fantastic artwork of Walter Geovani.  I would like to do that but I won't.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words but for what my words are worth that would seriously short-change Geovani's work.  As such, I shall merely say I enjoy his work and let you look at the scans below to see why.

As for the writing, if there were any doubts that Gail Simone would bring about big changes for Red Sonja, this issue eliminated them.  In fact, Red Sonja #7 does more than eliminate said doubts.  It beheads said doubts and places their heads on spikes before burning what is left of the doubts' corpses.

Yes, fans.  You read that correctly!  Gone is Sonja's infamous oath of chastity, save to any man who can best her in single combat!  And as someone who has written a fair bit and a bit more about the problems with Sonja's oath and her status as a feminist heroine, I for one could not be happier.  But there's more.  Not only is Red Sonja not beholden to an oath of chastity but she's also confirmed to be bisexual.   

Honestly, this has little bearing upon anything, save to change aspects of the character that are rarely touched upon anyway.  Regardless of her oath or who she would like to bed down with, Sonja is still the same grog-swilling, ass-kicking she-devil she's always been.  And in the end, that is all that matters.

The plot of this issue - and apparently the upcoming story arc - is a standard fantasy fetch-quest. Sonja is recruited by a dying noble to track down six great artisans to help him throw the most epic going-away party ever.  Naturally, Sonja is reluctant to sign on for such a frivolous adventure, agreeing to help only after the noble says he will free all his slaves if she can deliver all the artisans within one month.  This leads Sonja to track down the world's greatest chef - currently the captive of the Hyborian equivalent of the family from Deliverance.

Simone's script is hilarious, as one might expect.  Seeing Sonja openly speaking about being randy - a change that might throw off some long-time fans of the character - is thrown into sharp relief as Sonja confronts an enemy that sees her shapely body and thinks of hungers that have nothing to do with the usual urges inspired by a shapely redhead.  Yet there is one sour note in the script that will offend scholars of  Hyborian culture - the concept of Cimmerian Ale.

As any Robert E. Howard purist will tell you, it was established in The Phoenix On The Sword that Cimmerian is a land without alcohol.  As Conan's general Prospero once told Conan, "You laugh greatly, drink deep and bellow good songs; though I never saw another Cimmerian who drank aught but water, or who ever laughed, or ever sang save to chant dismal dirges."

Personally, I think it matters little.  Sonja herself was born of the pastiche - brought forth into the world of Conan by Roy Thomas, based on a heroine from one of Robert E. Howard's historical novels.  And the idea of there being many Sonjas across the whole of reality was suggested by no less than Frank Thorne and Wendy Pini.  So if the idea of a bisexual Sonja, a horny Sonja or Cimmerians who brew beer offend you, consider this tale a view upon another universe and leave the rest of us to enjoy this one.   

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Batgirl #28 - A Review

The New 52 volume of Batgirl has seen Gail Simone create many new villains for Barbara Gordon to contend with.  This issue introduces another one, who is both an interesting character and a subversive satire of Batman himself.  Meet Mr. Uchida - a.k.a. Silver.  Silver is a Gotham billionaire with an interest in fighting evil and a loyal butler who assists his nightly quest to take back Gotham.  The twist?  Silver is a vampire hunter, who thinks Batman and his comrades are vampires!

Simone hangs a lampshade on the concept of Batman itself, pointing out how phenomenally bad it would be for a mentally unstable man with more money than sense to act on his heroic impulses.  But Simone is more than a dark comedian, showing her command of drama and ethos as well.  The scenes involving Barbara and the heroine Strix (who is hunting a missing girl) are quite touching and may be of interest to fans of the Cassandra Cain Batgirl.  I don't want to suggest that Strix is a substitute for Cass (though both women are mute, warped by a violent upbringing and have similar costumes) but the relationship between Barbara and Strix is becoming something similar to what Barbara and Cass shared.

Fernando Pasarin and Jonathan Glapion are back in fine form.  Ask me to name the most underrated and consistently excellent artists in the industry and I would include them among them.  Pasarin's pencils are detailed without being cluttered and Glapion manages to shroud the page in darkness without going overboard.  New colorist Blond also enhances the artwork by using highlights to outline the blacks and greys that dominate the color scheme.  In short, this book looks as good as it reads. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Red Sonja: Berserker - A Review

Red Sonja: Berserker is proof that a work of fiction can be enjoyable while still being predictable.  Canny readers will quickly recognize the classic tale that this story it is based on.  However, they will enjoy this comic in spite of that because of what writer Nancy A. Collins adds to the mix to turn it into a legend of Red Sonja.

Collins writes a great Sonja and her script is notable in that it seems to answer a question than some fans have speculated on since Gail Simone's recent revamp of the Red Sonja series - did Sonja, in this reality, take an oath of chastity to a goddess in exchange for her amazing fighting skills?

Simone's take on Sonja's childhood suggested she was a capable fighter without such an oath and did not depict any vision of any goddess as she retold the story of how Sonja's family was killed.  Likewise, Collins presents us with a Sonja who speaks openly of drinking dry the first tavern she comes to, "...And the same goes for the first man who takes my fancy."  So much for the famous oath of chastity, save to men who can best her in combat. 

Of course Sonja is still a lady of standards and reacts badly to any man who calls her a whore, much less tries to hire her as one!  That leads us to the one thing about this book that I didn't enjoy.  Sonja gets called a harlot or some variant of that word so frequently that it is comical.  Given enough friends, you could drink a tavern dry if you made a drinking game out of doing a shot every time someone in this comic calls Sonja a whore, treats her like one or otherwise suggests she is a loose woman of negotiable affection. 

Artist Fritz Casas is an old hand at drawing Red Sonja stories, having previously worked on Queen Sonja.  His Sonja is somewhat inconsistent facially, with her nose changing somewhat between panels.  Still, any artist who depicts Sonja as dressing sensibly in cold climates cannot be wholly without merit.  Casas does a fine job of depicting the action and his story-flow from panel to panel is quite good.

Bottom Line: This is an enjoyable comic and a must-read for all Red Sonja fans.  The story is a bit predictable and the artwork a bit odd at times.  Yet the final product is more than the sum of its part.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Batman #28 - A Review

I fear this review of Batman #28 may seem like a broken record to my regular readers.  And this is odd, because while I've made the same complaints I am about to make in regards to other DC Comics series of late, this is the first time I've had to say these things in relation to Scott Snyder's Batman.

In the same way that the on-going storyline of Batgirl was subverted for a month to bring us a tie-in to the Gothtopia storyline, this month sees Scott Snyder's Zero Year put on hold to bring us what the cover calls "a secret glimpse into Batman: Eternal".  So what is Batman: Eternal?  I have no idea, apart from the fact that it depicts a Gotham - possibly an Elseworlds or possibly a not-too-distant future - where Snyder's creation Harper Row is now a vigilante called Bliebird, who fights alongside Batman in a world where one "Kingpin of Crime" (not Wilson Fisk) is ruling the entire Gotham underworld. 

I should note that this isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination.  Snyder and co-author James Tynion IV do their usual fine jobs on the script.  The problem is that I don't want to read the first chapter of Batman: Eternal.  I want to read Scott Snyder's Batman - just a regular Batman book that doesn't require me to be reading any other titles besides Batman.  Alas, that is becoming increasingly impossible across every DC Comics line, especially in the Bat-family, where everything is a crossover with something else.

And yet, I can forgive everything simply because of how this issue ended.  Normally, I'd avoid giving you all a major spoiler.  But Snyder has beaten me in revealing the biggest spoiler of them all...

The art team of Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridoles prove able replacements for the book's usual penciler and inker.  Nguyen's style is more streamlined than Greg Capullo's, with thinner, more angular characters.  This, coupled with Fridoles' light inks gives the book a Mangaesque quality that makes for an interesting change of pace.

In the end, this book is definitely worth checking out.  The story is engaging, the art is excellent and the ending will excite a lot of fans.  Just don't expect this story to continue on next month.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Two #3 - A Review

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Two #3 is light on action, existing primarily for two reasons.  The first is to establish that The Guardians of the Universe are aware of recent events on Earth and taking steps to investigate them.  The other is to show how these events are starting to take their toll on Green Lantern Hal Jordan.  

Tom Taylor's command of these characters is as excellent as ever.  Fans of Geoff Johns' take on The Green Lantern Corps will find his take on Hal, Guy Gardner, The Guardians and Carol Ferris to be familiar and welcoming.  Taylor has a great gift for dialogue but also knows when to let the art tell the story, such as when the fearless Hal Jordan - who makes a point of pride of never flying a plane with his ring on - is shown holding his hand up, not saying a word when asked how his plane survived certain doom intact.

Bruno Redondo's artwork seems to improve with every passing chapter.  His designs for each character are unique and his panel layout pushes the story forward naturally and easily, with the dialogue having plenty of room to be read without obscuring the backgrounds.  The inks of Julien Hugonnard-Bert further define Redondo's figures, perfectly shading the final artwork.

Earth 2 #20 - A Review

I heard about the controversy regarding Earth 2 #20 long before I got a chance to read it.  The problem stemmed from the revelation that The Red Arrow - a hero who had gone unnamed and largely undefined apart from a snarky personality - was named Connor Hawke.

For those who don't know, Connor Hawke was the name of Oliver Queen's illegitimate son and the second Green Arrow in the pre-New 52 DC Universe.  He was also of mixed-heritage, his mother being half-African/half-Korean.  Unfortunately, many artists and colorists did not bother to portray this and Connor was frequently depicted as a light-skinned, clean-shaven clone of his father despite being meant to be quite different physically and in terms of personality.

Some are bothered that Connor Hawke would be revived looking more like Roy Harper - with white skin and red hair - than as he appeared before.  I understand that and agree with it to a point.  However, I'm reluctant to label this as a case of "white-washing" given the nature of the Earth 2 series and the personal track record of the creator involved.

The world of Earth 2 has taken many characters and combined them, creating new characters that may seem familiar while offering new twists on classic formula.  For instance, multiple versions of The Atom have been condensed into one character with the name of the original Atom (Al Pratt) and the size-changing powers of his successor (Al Rothstein).  Taking Oliver Queen's two sons and combining them in a similar fashion honors both.

Would I have preferred a visibly mixed-race Connor Hawke?  I think so, yes.  But I'm reluctant to scream racism at a series that has done so much to give us a more diverse DC Universe.  So far, this series has given us a Hispanic Hawkgirl, an Arabian Doctor Fate, an Indian World Army commander, a gay Green Lantern, a senior-citizen Batman and - if the end of this issue is any indication - a black Superman.  To complain about one character going from mixed to Caucasian in the face of all that seems short-sighted to me, particularly when we know so little about the character and his background so far.  And it's ludicrous to call Tom Taylor a racist when the independent comic series he's created and is currently developing into an animated series is based around the adventures of a mixed-race family of super-scientists.

Ignoring all the controversy, this is a damn fine issue.  Taylor is a great writer of dialogue and he has a great grasp on the classic characters of the DC Universe.  The best moments in this book involve Lois Lane - now inhabiting a robot body - attempting to comfort a young Kryptonian named Val who is agoraphobic thanks to his having spent virtually his entire life either trapped inside his Kryptonian birthing matrix or locked inside a government facility.  These scenes offer a glimpse at a Lois Lane long absent from the most recent Superman books - the Lois Lane with an iron will and nerves of steel who was as strong as Superman in all the ways that matter.

The artwork by Barry Kitson is a match for Taylor's script.  Kitson is a skillful artist and inker and a tremendous visual storyteller, who gives a certain sense of emotional power to alll of the scenes in this issue where people are just talking.  Robson Rocha and Oclair Albert are less skilled in depicting the issue's lone action scenes, in which the villain Brutale orders all the holy sites on Earth destroyed in the name of Darkseid, but the work here is competent if not as fine as Kitson's.

Invaders #2 - A Review

Invaders #2 backtracks a little bit before returning to the action from its first issue.  We learn how Captain America and The Winter Soldier became aware of the Kree soldiers that were moving after the original Human Torch.  A flashback goes on to reveal a secret the rest of The Invaders kept from Captain America - a secret involving a weapon that once endangered the whole world and could easily do so again!

Writer James Robinson's knowledge and love of Golden Age heroes comes through in every page of this book.  His script for this issue is heavy with the exposition, yet he manages to deliver it smoothly through the dialogue without it seeming like an information dump.  He also offers up some good, if brief, character moments for Jim Hammond - the character comic readers are least likely to be familiar with. 

Steve Pugh's artwork continues to impress.  His layouts are clear and his action well-choreographed.  He also does a good job of inking the book in such a way as to enhance the natural pencils through efficient shadowing.  Praise must also be given to Guru-FX, whose striking palettes make the final artwork jump off the page at the reader.

Green Arrow #28 - A Review

Green Arrow #28 is primarily concerned with explaining the secret history of Oliver Queen's time while shipwrecked and how it was no accident that he was left stranded and forced to learn the way of the bow.  This is highly welcome, since - despite this title being around for nearly two and a half years - nobody has bothered to give us a full background for the new version of Green Arrow.  We also get caught up on what's going on in Seattle, the first modern appearance of the New 52 version of John Diggle and more insight into the internal workings of the group known as The Outsiders.

Jeff Lemire's script has been slow in developing these details but the work has proven worth the wait.  More than any other writer working at DC Comics today, Lemire has pushed the limits of the New 52 setting to offer something truly unique and different.  While most writers have been content to tell stories in the standard mold of what has come before, Lemire has created a whole new mythology for Green Arrow and it is glorious! 

Lemire's script is matched in quality and innovation by the artwork of Andrea Sorrentino.  Sorrentino's style defies easy description, being detail-oriented without being cluttered.  Sorrentino also does amazing things with white space and page layouts, with a number of two-page spreads that are eye-catching.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dallas Sci-Fi Expo 2014 - Sunday, Part Three

As for the rest of Sunday... here's all the evidence.

Artemis from Young Justice.

Get the #1 show on The CW while I get killed off in my first New 52 appearance? I don't think so, Queen!

Wonder Woman!

Wonder Woman knocking out Superwoman, her evil counterpart from Earth 3.
Superwoman portrayed by Giant Girl Adventures creator Sabrina Pandora.

Fourth Doctor and Seventh Doctor from Doctor Who.

Catwoman and Ms. Marvel, the later of whom runs a comic book shop on-line.


Melfina and some of the other crew running the table for GeekLurv - a new dating/social site for geeks.

The Arrow.

Speedy from Teen Titans.

The World's Finest Team: monocosplay as Power Girl & Huntress.

Amy Pond from Dr. Who.

Dr. Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation

  Not sure who these ladies are, but I like their burlesque take on Batman, Robin, Joker and Harley Quinn.

Comely though you wenches are, your attempts at seduction - skillful as they are - are wasted upon one with the iron will and dark powers of Alan Moore! Avaunt, Hellish temptresses! I have no need of thee this day!

Dallas Sci-Fi Expo 2014 - Sunday, Part Two

While I had plans to take as many cosplay pics as possible, there were two groups I was determined to catch on Sunday.  One was a group which included Reese of Reese's Pieces and The Taffeta Darling - who were dressed as the Sugar Rush racers from the movie Wreck-It Ralph.

The other group - whom I mentioned in Part One of my Sunday Con Report - was attempting to recreate Adam Hughes' classic Women of DC print.

I wound up missing the final shoot when the whole group was assembled but I did catch Deadpool trying to infiltrate part of the group... badly.

I did catch most of the group individually, though.  In fact, apart from Power Girl, I didn't miss a one!

I'm rather proud of this last shot, featuring Chelphie Cosplay as Poison Ivy, Enansi Volz as Harley Quinn and The Uncanny Gamma Kitten as Catwoman.