Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 15 - Nanda Parbat

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


Malcolm Merlyn has been captured by the League of Assassins and Oliver is ready to storm the League of Assassin's headquarters at Nanda Parbat to rescue him, though Thea is content to leave her father to face their rough justice. And Ray Palmer readies his ATOM suit for battle, despite Felicity's objections.

Five years ago, Ollie and The Yamashiros are cleared by the US Army to leave Hong Kong. But Amanda Waller doesn't let her pawns go so easily...


The Fall of Green Arrow (Ollie loses the respect of his family and colleagues due to his lying) and the Batman comics of Dennis O'Neil (Ra's Al Ghul looking for a worthy heir to replace him).


While it is high time that somebody took Ollie to task for his manipulative ways, Laurel is absolutely the last person who should be giving anyone lip about lying to someone for their own good. Instead of knocking Oliver down a peg, her confrontation with Oliver only serves to make Laurel look like a complete hypocrite considering her disgraceful behavior towards her father. Frankly, it seems like this scene was added because they needed to give Laurel something else to do in this episode besides fail to ambush Merlyn.  It's the one weak spot in an otherwise strong script.

Nanda Parbat is said to be in the Hindu-Kush mountains, which are located in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet previous episodes have said Nanda Parbat was in Tibet (Possibly the previous information was a ruse?)


David Ramsey steals every damn scene he's in.  From his subtly telling off Merlyn to his calling Ollie his brother and asking him to be his best man.

Katrina Law plays Nyssa Al'Ghul with just the right combination of menace and sympathy.

Colton Haynes doesn't get much to do as Roy Harper this time around, but his interplay with Willa Holland is wonderful and the scenes where he tries to comfort Thea by showing how he's coping with the blood on his hands are well-played.

Like last week, Willa Holland rocks her brief appearance, truly selling Thea's anguish regarding what she has done.

Finally, Matt Nable perfectly captures the grace and poise of Ra's Al Ghul.


The action scenes of Oliver and Diggle fighting the League of Assassins, as well as the flashback sequences of Ollie and the Yamashiros fighting ARGUS are excellent even by the standards of this show's fight scenes.

The scene in which Ray Palmer first dons the ATOM armor and uses it to fly is well-shot and thematically everything comic books (and their adaptations) should be.


Ray Palmer wears a red and blue plaid shirt when we first see him in this episode.  Red and Blue are the primary colors of The Atom's costume in the comics.

Roy refers to Mission Impossible when examining the ARGUS-designed security system Diggle installed in Verdant and the laser-grid on the club floor.

Diggle makes reference to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as he and Oliver face down The League of Assassins.  The movie ended with the titular heroes in a stand-off with no way out.


At the start of the episode, Ray is having trouble getting the gauntlet modulator to interface with the helmet system of the ATOM suit.

Ray uses a subsonic ionizer in building the ATOM suit.  Felicity notes that if you try to use it on quad-band circuitry (as Ray nearly does) it could result in a catalytic reaction that could destroy an entire building.

Dialogue Triumphs

You've spent years preparing to bring a bow and arrow to a sword fight.

Malcolm: John.
Diggle: My friends call me Digg. (beat) You shouldn't even speak to me.

Roy: You know last year when I kinda went off the rails for a bit?
Thea: Yeah?
Roy: I was also under the influence of something. And just like you, I killed someone. A cop.
Thea: Roy...
Roy: They didn't tell me either... and when I found out-
Thea: -you wished that you didn't know?
Roy: Look, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that the feeling ever goes away. But I can tell you that it gets easier, Thea.
Thea: You don't see that cop's family nearly every single day. I can't imagine that it's going to get any easier. And I don't think it should.

Ollie: I told you not to tell anyone!
Thea: I guess I'm just not as good at keeping secrets as you are.

Laurel: No. Oliver...Merlyn murdered my sister and corrupted yours and now you want to save him?!
Ollie: I'm trying to save Thea's soul.
Laurel: You are out of your mind.
Ollie: And you don't need to be here.

Look, I may not agree with it, but I understand what you're trying to say. You don't want Thea to live with the guilt of getting her own father killed. But how is getting her brother killed any better?
Ollie: I don't plan on dying.
Felicity: (angrily) That's what you said the last time you want to face Ra's and how did that turn out for you?!

Felicity: You have two options, Ray.  Option One: You can find a way to break through the encryption I used to lock up your server, which, by my calculations, will take you roughly 6.25 hours. Or you can use that time to eat a proper meal, take a shower and get no less than five hours of sleep at  the completion of which I will give you the password.
Ray: I see.
Felicity: It's your choice but I highly recommend Option Two.  Because... this whole situation has gone from endearingly eccentric to creepily not okay.
Ray: If I had the energy, I think I'd be getting angry right now. But instead... I'll just take Option Two.
Felicity: That's a wise choice. After your dinner and a shower, I am taking you straight to bed. (look of shock) Putting you. (whispering to herself) Why do I do that?

Ollie: I can't ask you to come with me, Diggle.
John: You didn't ask me, Oliver.  Besides, you don't own a jet anymore.

Ra's Al Ghul (To Malcolm) In 1854, I encountered an illusionist in Vienna. He was dazzling. Magnificent. Powerful.  And then, nearly half a century later, I stumbled upon this man again. He was withered. Broken. Dying. You see, a magician can cheat many things... except one.

Ra's Al Ghul: Al-Saher, face your death with honor. Or at least dignity.

Ollie: Surprise is our own advantage.
(Suddenly, several flaming arrows hit the ground at his and Diggle's feet)
John: I'd say they spotted us.

Ollie: You know, every time I close my eyes, all that I can see...all that I can hear, feel is... just The Fall. I couldn't live like that.  Couldn't live knowing that... there was someone out there that beat me.
John: Yeah.  That makes sense.
Ollie: No!  It's egotistical and insane!
John: So is putting on a mask and jumping off rooftops, Oliver.

Thea: (To Nyssa) There's something that I need to tell you. I can't live without you knowing. The guilt is far worse than anything you can do to me. I lied to you. And you believed it. When I told you that Malcolm killed Sara. He wanted her dead. To put certain things in motion. But I am the one that fired those arrows into her chest. And when I made the deal to give up Malcolm, I promised you your vengeance.
(Thea unlocks Nyssa's cell and holds out a sword)
Thea: So take it.

Ra's Al Ghul: You tasted death. And you wanted more. The truth is... everyone and everything must come to an end. Even for one such as me.
Ollie: Kill me. But spare John Diggle's life. Let him go. I will beg for it.
Ra's Al Ghul: You have shown tremendous strength. Fortitude. Power. No, Mr. Queen.  I don't want to kill you.  I want you to take my place.  I want you to become the next Ra's Al Ghul.

Dialogue Disasters

Laurel: How do you do that?
Ollie: Do what?
Laurel: Lie. Right to my face.


Roy Harper refers to how he went "off the rails" for a little bit last year (A220) and tells Thea of how he came to kill a police officer.  He also reveals how he, Diggle and Felicity knew about Thea killing Sara.

Ray refers to Brick's men taking control of part of the city, as seen in A311.

Laurel finds out that Thea killed Sara.

Oliver refers to Laurel's attempts to kill both Malcolm Merlyn (A304) and Simon LaCrois (A302) when explaining why he hid the fact that Thea killed Sara from Laurel.

Ray Palmer has an extensive classic art collection which he cycles between his apartment and the Starling Museum.

Oliver refers to the events of A309 and his defeat by Ra's Al Ghul and how he has nightmares of falling off the mountain.

Roy Harper has been giving financial support to the widow and son of the cop he killed, giving them money and groceries anonymously and even buying the boy a Boba Fett toy at Christmas.


Nanda Parbat, under the Hindu-Kush mountains.

The Fridge Factor

Laurel continues to prove incompetent and terrible in every respect.  Bad enough that she's back to being a total hypocrite regarding Ollie's manipulative behavior but her attempt to kill Merlyn is poorly-planned and idiotic.  The most groan-worthy aspect of this is Laurel's attempt to fight Merlyn hand-to-hand despite having a gun.

It's hard to believe Felicity would ever use "password" as a password, even as a joke.

The Bottom Line

A step down from last week but overall a strong episode. While slow to start, it becomes more thrilling as it progresses and the final ten minutes are some of the best the series has ever offered. And we're left with not one but two cliffhangers!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Three #22 - A Review

The battle between The Regime and The Resistance continues, though the battle is beginning to take a toll on reality.  Between the magic being tossed around by Trigon and Dr. Fate. Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing's connection to The Green, the odd 5th Dimensional Magic used by Mister Mxyzptlk and the presence of two Sinestro Corps members, there is a lot of energy being tossed around.  And if action isn't taken quickly, everything is going to go to Hell.  Literally.

One thing you can say about Brian Buccellato is that he does not play for small stakes. The last few issues have been steadily building the action of this battle to an almost (pardon the pun) comic level, as heavy-hitter after heavy-hitter has been brought in.  Buccellato has balanced this manic display with the skill and energy of a plate-spinner on espresso and it has been a joy to read.

The art team does their usual stellar job, easily equaling Buccellato's script.  Mike S. Miller perfectly captures the action of the story, with even the static shots of characters talking having a wild energy about them.  J. Nanjan's inks enhance Miller's pencils without obscuring them.  And Wes Abbott's colors leave everything looking amazing.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Flash: Season Zero #13 - A Review

The Flash has King Shark!  Or does King Shark have The Flash? It's a bit hard to say but it may fall to Cisco Ramon to be a fast thinker before they have to test if Barry's quick-healing powers can let him grow back an arm!

This issue is exciting and yet something of a disappointment at the same time.  The action is well played out and some hints are dropped about Cisco's eventually taking up the role of a hero himself (You know which one!). But it's a bit of a downer that - unlike the comics - King Shark was once a human cancer patient undergoing radical treatment at the time of the Particle Accelerator Explosion rather than a shark who evolved into a semi-intelligent being. I guess the writing team would rather not explain why there aren't more of these meta-animals running around if the energy released affected non-humans.  But c'mon - it's not like evolved sharks are any more implausible than dark matter interacting with a drug made of Shark DNA to create a wereshark!

I've commented before that Phil Hester wouldn't be my first choice of artist for a Flash comic but his work here is quite effective, catering as it does to his talents for horror.  There's none of the forced poses or odd angles that marred previous issues.  Even Eric Gapstur's inks don't seem to be as randomly applied this time around.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Red Sonja #100 - A Review

The trouble with anthology books is you can never be certain of the quality of all of the book's contents.  That certainly proves the case with Red Sonja #100.  While this issue boasts stories by some of the finest scribes to write tales about Red Sonja since her resurgence at Dynamite Entertainment, it appears that less care went into procuring artists of a similar temper.

Thankfully that doesn't prove to be true of the book's first tale, "The Snare".  The story by Eric Trautmann pits Sonja against a beguiling evil as she flees from Hyborean slavers.  The artwork by Chastity artist Dave Acosta proves a fair match to the weird horror roots of Trautmann's script.

Sadly, the artwork of Pablo Marcos proves to be a little too weird in the next chapter, Tresses.  This story by Roy Thomas comes closest to capturing the feeling of a classic Red Sonja comic and   Marcos's artwork has a hand in establishing that aura.  Marcos does a grand job depicting the Lovecraftian beast at the heart of Thomas' story but his human figures are oddly distorted, with Sonja's neck stretching to odd lengths in some panels only to disappear completely in others!

The middle chapter - Sticks and Stones - is definitely the weakest in the collection.  The story by Michael Avon Oeming is built around that most overplayed of sword-and-sorcery cliches - the hero fighting for their freedom in an arena. The cartoonish artwork of Taki Soma proves worse, however, delivering a Sonja whom looks more like Codex from The Guild than a seasoned warrior woman.

The penultimate chapter - The Torch - proves the strongest in the anthology, no doubt due to the pairing of current Red Sonja writer Gail Simone and experienced Red Sonja artist Noah Salonga.  This epic story (which features some epic poetry worthy of Robert E. Howard himself!) centers upon Sonja's chance meeting with a warrior woman who inspired her as a girl and Sonja being given a chance to bring a measure of peace to her idol.

The book's final chapter - Three Wishes - proves to be the most erratic.  The artwork by Injustice artist Sergio Fernandez Davila is all over the place in terms of proportions and appearances.  The story by Luke Liberman is serviceable but the action - centering around a wizard who has found a seemingly endless steam of wishes - is resolved far too quickly, though it ends sweetly enough.

All in all, Red Sonja fans will find much to enjoy in this centennial issue.  It is not without its flaws but the good far outweighs the bad.  And even the bad is not truly that bad.

Bitch Planet #3 - A Review

Whereas the first two issues of Bitch Planet were devoted to establishing the setting and the theme, Bitch Planet #3 is a character study.  The focus here is upon Penelope "Penny" Rolle - a.k.a. the overweight hell-raiser who had been seen in the background of the first two issues but was never the focus of the action... until now!

Kelly Sue DeConnick has done great character analyses in other series and that talent is on full display here.  We get a good look at Penny's formative years and see how she's been triply-cursed, being a woman, not White and overweight in a society that shuns BBWs. Ironically, this personally focused story does a better job of displaying the culture of Bitch Planet than the first two issues or at least in showcasing the problems such a world poses for non-compliant women.

Robert Wilson IV handles the artwork this time around and proves a capable substitute for Valentine De Landro.  Wilson's style is reminiscent of Mike Allred's, but with a gritty edge that does not diminish its clarity in the least.  All in all, the artwork is once again a match for DeConnick's writing and this series continues to be one of the best comics in existence.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #7 - A Review

The Doctor and his newest companion - aspiring artist Gabby Gonzales - find themselves trapped in the chaos of WWI.  With the TARDIS seemingly blown up in the middle of No Man's Land and the sonic screwdriver now in the hands of the British Army, it will take all their cunning to avoid being shot as spies.  And then there's the problem of the army of Weeping Angels, who have found the front-lines of WWI to be a most agreeable feeding ground.

Author Robbie Morrison turns what might have been yet another siege story where The Doctor butts heads with oblivious military minds into a truly ripping yarn.  There are a number of lines here that will bring David Tennant's voice into the reader's head unbidden. Morrison even offers up a explanation of The Weeping Angels on the off chance there's someone reading this comic who has yet to be exposed to them on the show... unlikely though that may be.

The artwork by Daniel Indro is rough yet serviceable.  Indro's gritty style is a good fit for the story, which does not shy away from depicting the horrors of war or the terrible fates awaiting some of the time-lost soldiers.  However, his inks get a bit heavy at times and obscure the original pencils.

Batgirl #39 - A Review

I was taken to task by several people over my review of Batgirl #38.  This surprised me, because while I was rather vocal about not liking the portrayal of Barbara Gordon and was contemplating whether or not I'd continue picking this title up because of it, I never said it was a bad comic.  But looking over the review, I realize that neither did I say that Brendan Fletcher and Cameron Stewart had written a good script.  And they did.

Batgirl #38 had a good story. I just thought it would be more appropriate to the Stephanie Brown incarnation of Batgirl than Barbara Gordon.  And in hindsight, I could have been clearer in articulating that point.  Not all critics make that distinction, after all - that there is a difference between something good I don't enjoy and something that is bad.  And Batgirl #38 was not bad.

Still, I was persuaded by several people - including my pal David Tai and Sporadatak of Gone Catawampus - to pick up Batgirl #39. And boy, am I glad they did! Because this... this is the issue where everything starts coming together.

The book's opening sees Barbara starting to think - really think - about what Dinah said in the last issue and start analyzing her behavior for any incongruities.  Then someone puts a bounty on Batgirl's head to the tune of 20 million dollars. The Birds reunite to deal with that crisis and Barbara comes to a starling revelation about just who - or what - might be out to ruin her life.

I can't say much more about this issue beyond that for fear of spoilers. What I can say is that Babs Tarr's artwork is as amazing as ever.  The character designs are distinctive and the action is well depicted.

Suffice it to say that my concerns over Barbara's character are being addressed and appear to be the lead in to something big.  So if you quit Batgirl because Babs didn't seem to be Babs anymore, I'd urge you to give it one more chance for at least two more issues. You can trust me - I'm the guy who called the upcoming Black Canary comic, after all. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 14 - The Return

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


Oliver and Thea travel to Lian Yu to begin training to defeat Ra's Al Ghul.  Unfortunately, Slade Wilson is out of his cell.. and out for revenge!

In the flashback, Oliver and Maseo travel to Starling City in search of Chien Na Wei.  And despite Waller's orders to the contrary, Ollie checks up on his family and friends.


The Count of Monte Cristo
(a man who was wrongfully imprisoned returns home, wanting to know what happened to his friends and family while he was away), Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (Slade's line about leaving Ollie the same way Ollie left him), Green Arrow: Year One (Ollie fighting for survival on an island) and various Green Arrow comics by both Judd Winick (Ollie returning to the island he was stranded with loved ones to learn new skills and Slade's threat to fake Ollie and Thea's deaths) and Dennis O'Neil (Quentin Lance's "fat-cat" speech).


It's a hard choice what is more infuriating - Maseo's belief that a multinational corporation would never remove the finger-print records of a dead employee from the database that governs access to their private computer records or his belief that Ollie attempting to access Queen Consolidate's records with his own identity when they are supposed to be hiding the fact that Oliver Queen is alive isn't a stupid idea.


Manu Bennett, as always, proves a real treat as Slade Wilson, however briefly he appears.

Ditto Colin Donnel as Tommy Merlyn.  If Lazarus Pits become a reality in the DCTVU, I want Tommy Merlyn in line right behind Sara Lance.when they start bringing back beloved characters.

Paul Blackthorne's performance here makes you realize how underutilized he's been during Season Three and his turn as a younger, drunker and more easily irritated Quentin Lance proves a welcome reminder of the character from Season One and serves as an interesting set-up for the powerful scene in which he tells Laurel off in the present.

Finally, Willa Holland rocks every bit of material she is given in this episode, including some lines that almost, ALMOST don't work (i.e. most of Thea's break-down moments).  And then we get that final speech to Merlyn... and all is forgiven.


The three-way fight scene between Ollie, Slade and Thea.


Ollie says Lian Yu reminds him of who he is.  This is similar to comments Oliver made in the comics, where he would revisit the island where he was stranded for a few days each year.  He also took frequent camping trips to hone his skills in the wild.

The company that Laurel took a job with in San Francisco is Wethersby Posner.  This is one name away from the firm of Wethersby, Posner & Klein - the law-firm from Eli Stone.  Eli Stone was a show that Arrow Executive Producers Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti both created together before Arrow.

When chewing Laurel out for taking a job with a big law-firm, Quentin Lance makes reference to "fat cats getting fatter".  This was a frequent phrase in Oliver Queen's rants about corporate corruption in the Green Arrow comics of Dennis O'Neil.

In the comics, Lt. Matthew Shrieve is an United States Army officer associated with a group called Project M or Project Monster.  Shrieve was the commander of a sub-group of Project M known as The Creature Commandos - a group of monsters that fought the Nazis during WWII.


SHACAL-4 Encryption protests the computers in Queen Consolidated's offices.  This encryption is unhackable, at least by Maseo.

The computers at Queen Consolidated are protected by biometic encryption i.e. finger-print scanners.

Oliver is given a crawler that will search all of Peter Yang's network trafficking.

The ARGUS facility on Lian Yu is a former Chinese prison complex retrofitted by eight ARGUS technicians.

Dialogue Triumphs

(While dueling with Thea)
Did he teach you to cheat?
Thea: There's no such thing. There's only survival and death.

Tommy: You shouldn't grow up too fast.
Thea: Yeah, well you're not my brother!
Tommy: You're right. No, I'm not. But I think about him every single day. And for the first time I'm glad he's gone. Because seeing you like this would break his heart.
Thea: Funny how Ollie seems to care about me more now that he's dead than when he was alive.

Slade: I'm going to leave you, kid, the same way you left me - alone in Purgatory.

Felicity: (to a picture of Ollie) You're cute. Too bad you're, you know, dead. Which is obviously a lot worse for you than it is for me. (sighs) I really need to learn to stop talking to myself.

John: Nothing like a rich kid's party to remind me of what I miss about being shot at in Afghanistan.

Quentin: You spoiled billionaires sure know how to throw yourselves a party. You've got underage girls. You've got drug dealers. You've even got dead drug dealers!

Maseo: What were you thinking!  Anyone at that party could have seen you!
Ollie: Yeah... I pulled the hoodie down to cover my face.
Maseo: That disguise wouldn't work even if you smeared greasepaint over your face!

Maseo: Oliver, if you want redemption, start with all the lives Chien Na Wei's bio-weapon could end.
Ollie: Those people are strangers to me.  These people... they're my friends and my family.
Maseo: And they will be ashamed of this selfish choice you are making.
Ollie: They're already ashamed of me.

Thea: This whole thing with Lian Yu...This is ridiculous! What the hell are we even doing here?!
(Slade comes up behind Thea and puts a gun to her temple)
Slade: I ask myself that very same question... over... and over...

Robert Queen: You can right my wrongs. You can be better than I was. You can save this city.

(After stepping in to save Maseo from a firefight)
Ollie: I'm sorry I'm late.
Maseo: Actually, you were right on time.

(Thea is holding a gun on a helpless Slade)
Ollie: You're not a killer!
Thea: Tell that to Sara!
Ollie: What happened to Sara is not on you! What happens to him is! All this is what Malcolm wanted! He freed Slade to prove that we're killers because he wants you to be just like him. You've got to prove to him that you're not!

Slade: How many people can Oliver Queen lose before there is no more Oliver Queen?

Quentin: The reason why I want to open up this bottle and want to crawl inside is because of what you did to us. I loved your sister. I loved your mom. So much like each other, and, you know, these wild spirits. But you and I, we had something more than that. 'Cause we were the ones that were alike. And we had a trust. And we had a bond. And you broke it. And - I don't know... how you could do that to us. Look, I'm going to survive this. I mean, I've got to. It's my baby girl. But what you've done... I don't know how I'm going to live through this.
Laurel: Daddy, I think we should go to a meeting...
Quentin: Yeah.  I'll to go the one on Broxton.  You go to the one on Fourth.

Thea: (to Merlyn) I will work with you to stop Ra's, because that's what my brother says we need to do. So I will be your student. I will be your partner. Even if I have to, I will be your soldier. But never again will I be your daughter!

Dialogue Disasters

Laurel: Hey! Do you remember when I was going to take that corporate job in San Francisco? Do you remember what you said to me? You were mad because I wasn't choosing a life where I was going to help people. It's like you knew. Already even then. You knew that my life was always heading towards that mask.


Starling City celebrated its centennial in 2010.

Ollie refers to his returning to Lian Yu between Season One and Season Two.

Thea refers to Laurel telling her about Sara's death (A309).

Ollie says Sara's name in his sleep.

Oliver buried a gun with his father's body on Lian Yu.

Slade refers to the murder of Moira Queen (A220) and Ollie's lying to Slade about how Shado died (A209).

We get our first look at Andy Diggle and find out the first job he got John working security after he left the US Army was as security for Tommy Merlyn.

Laurel originally planned to work for as a lawyer for a corporation in San Francisco before a drunken rant by her father made her reconsider her desire to "save the world in Starling City".

Oliver kills the drug-dealer who sold to Thea by snapping his neck after the dealer recognized him.

Ollie makes reference to the one other inmate of the Lian Yu ARGUS jail - Captain Boomerang - who has been imprisoned since A308.

We finally see the message Oliver's father left him regarding The List, first mentioned in A111.

General Matthew Shrieve is Amanda Waller's superior.

In 2010, Laurel gave up the job in San Francisco to take a job with CNRI.

Quentin calls Laurel by the name Black Canary.


Lian Yu.  Starling City five years earlier, in the flashbacks.

The Bottom Line

A wonderful return to form after last week, with nearly every element of the show rocking on eight cylinders.  We don't get nearly as much Slade Wilson as we might have wanted and it's a little disappointing that Merlyn engineered his escape rather than Slade escaping on his own.  Still, the flashbacks are fun in how they play against the events of the present and Ollie and Thea finally lose the final layers of secrets between them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Three #21 - A Review

If you're like me, and I know I am, one question has been in the back of your head throughout the entirety of Injustice: Gods Among Us - where the frell is Poison Ivy?  We've had a lot of good moments with Harley Quinn, but where has Harleen's best gal pal been all this time?  Worry not, bad girl fans!  For Pamela Lillian Isley joins the battle in this issue, after being given a ride on the Bat-Wing courtesy of Dick Grayson a.k.a. The new Deadman.

Most of this issue is devoted towards the continuing battle between Superman and Batman's respective teams. The script by Brian Buccellato is packed with action worthy of the video game that inspired this comic.  However, the best moments of this book - as per usual - occur when the characters just talk with one another, as when Dick Grayson - through Billy Batson - tells Bruce Wayne what he never could say in life.

The art team for this issue bring their A-game to the table.  Bruno Redondo and Juan Albarran place an amazing amount of fine detail into every panel.  And the colors by Rex Lokus are vibrant and well chosen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 14 - Fallout

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


The Quantum Splicer is a success and Ronnie Raymond is successfully separated from Professor Martin Stein.  Unfortunately, General Wade Eiling has learned of The Firestorm Matrix.  And he thinks it would be a wonderful addition to his secret project to create metahuman soldiers.

Meanwhile, a colleague begins goading Iris into using her friendships to dig into what's really going on in STAR Labs as Joe tells Barry what he and Cisco discovered about how Barry might someday be able to travel in time.


The Flash: Rebirth
by Geoff Johns and the Firestorm comics of Gerry Conway.


Ignoring the problems with a covert military team attacking a crowded coffee shop full of civilians in the middle of an urban area unnoticed, why the heck didn't General Eiling block the roads off?


Victor Garber does a fine job portraying Martin Stein as a socially awkward academic who nevertheless is trying to make the best of a strange situation.  The interplay between Garber and Robbie Amell is brilliant, as is the chemistry between Amell and Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow.

Clancy Brown is wonderful as always and it's a shame that the end of the episode suggests this will be the last we see of General Eiling.


The reveal of "the properly merged" Firestorm is quite good, as is the action scene in which Stein and Raymond achieve balance.

Flash Facts

Time Travel is a frequent high-end super-power for heroes with super-speed in the DC Universe.  In the Silver Age, Barry Allen was only able to time travel through the use of a device called The Cosmic Treadmill.  Wally West, the third Flash, was able to time travel without the use of an external device though the did need a focus (the love of his wife, Linda) to act as a beacon so he could return home afterward.

The telepathic bond between Ronnie and Professor Stein is something new added to The Flash TV series.  In the comics, Ronnie forced the connection to transform into Firestorm early on, leaving Professor Stein confused as to what was happening while he was blacked out.  Ronnie eventually convinced the Professor as to the truth of what was happening.  It was then that the two merged into a hive mind with Ronnie controlling the body and the Professor offering advice that was the most familiar incarnation of Firestorm in the comics and cartoons for many years.

Caitlin, Barry and Joe tell Iris that Ronnie is Caitlin's cousin Sam from Coast City.  In the comics, Coast City is the home of Hal Jordan a.k.a. Green Lantern and is roughly analogous to San Diego or Los Angeles.

Professor Stein paraphrases Shakespeare's Henry V - "Once more into the breach, dear friend!" - when he and Ronnie merge together willingly.  In the original quote, the word "friends" is used.

As in the comics, there is a running gag about Ronnie hating his given first name Ronald and Professor Stein refusing to use the nickname "Ronnie".

Later, Caitlin says that Sam went home to Midway City.  In the comics, Midway City is the home of the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman.  Depending on the writer, it was roughly analogous to Chicago, Illinois or Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

General Eiling's dialogue at the end suggests that DCTVU version of Grodd only speaks through telepathy.  In the comics, Grodd is a powerful telepath but is also capable of human speech.


Barry's suit has a built-in Geiger counter for measuring radiation.

Less than one millirad is normal background radiation.

Post-separation, Dr. Stein and Ronnie run a temperature of 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wells says that time travel is possible yet problematic.

The Novikov Principle of Self Consistency states that if you travel back in time to change something, you will become the causal factor of the event you are trying to change.

Another theory is that time is mutable and any changes to the continuum create an alternate timeline.

Stein believes that space-time is a free-flowing highway that intersects the physical world and that humanity lives in the moments between the on and off ramps of the freeway. Theoretically, one would need to find a way onto the highway to travel into the past or future.

Stein theorizes that it would be possible for Barry to time travel if the kinetic energy build up of his speed smashed a hole in the space-time continuum.

General Eiling utilizes a special shrapnel grenade to disable The Flash, which releases micro-fragments attracted to kinetic energy.

All of Ronnie and Prof. Stein's brain waves -Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta - are perfectly in-sync.

Cisco suggests that the Quantum Splicer could be used to keep Ronnie from rebonding with Stein.  It does indeed seem to control the fusion process more effectively, with Ronnie now controlling his own body and Stein acting as a second set of eyes who gives Ronnie his knowledge.

Wells notes that The Firestorm Matrix is building towards a proximity reemergence and that the closer Stein and Ronnie get together, the more likely it is they will merge again.

Barry is hit with some kind of weaponized phosphorous - a burning chemical that cannot be extinguished by foam or water.  Barry is able to neutralize the chemical by running fast enough in a circle to generate a vacuum around himself.

Eiling makes use of an ion grenade which bombards Firestorm's cellular structure with enough ions to destabilize The Firestorm Matrix.

Dialogue Triumphs

(As Caitlin and Ronnie are kissing passionately at Ground Zero)
Professor Stein:
Uh, pardon me. But obviously I need a change of clothes.

Dr. Wells: Assuming you could create the conditions necessary to take that journey, well that journey would be fraught with potential pitfalls. The Novikov Principle of Self Consistency, for example.
Joe: Wait - the what now?
Barry: If you travel back in time to change something, then you end up being the causal factor of that event.
Cisco: Like Terminator.
Joe: Ah!
Dr. Wells: Or is time plastic?  Is it mutable, whereby any changes to the continuum create an alternate timeline?
Cisco: Back To The Future.
Joe: Ah.  I saw that one too.
Dr. Wells: (in a Doc Brown voice) Doc Brown!  Tremendous picture.

(looking at a digital read out)
Professor Stein: I'm still inside Ronald.
Cisco: There HAS to be a  better way to phrase that.

Caitlin: The chances of that happening are next to impossible.
Barry: Impossible's just another Tuesday for us, remember?
Cisco: Yeah, but this is like some Twilight Zone level stuff. And I say that knowing full-well that we have a guy locked up in our basement who can turn himself into poison gas.
Ronnie: Wait, really?!
Cisco: Dude, that was like week three!

General Eiling: I joined the military when I was 20 years old, Professor. My father had me convinced that our greatest threat was the Soviets. Our greatest fear - nuclear war. Then came terrorism. Ebola. And now it's the age of Firestorm. Soldiers enhanced by your project, Professor Soldiers who can generate energy blasts with their bare hands. Soldiers who can fly.
Professor Stein: I would gladly die before I see my life's work perverted in this way.
General Eiling: Good. Because you will die, Professor.  How soon I let that happen though is entirely up to you.

Ronnie: Cait, Barry was right. The world's different now. I thought we could get away. Start a new life. A normal life together. But there is no normal life for us. You will always risk your life to try and help people. And I will always be the guy that runs into that pipeline for you.

Caitlin: It's okay. I understand.  You have to go.
Ronnie: How did you know?
Caitlin: I'm connected to you too.

Professor Stein: (To Barry) I believe in second chances. You'll get yours.  Give it time.

Professor Stein: Ready, Ronald?
Ronnie: Please stop calling me that!

(As The Reverse Flash unmasks himself after dragging General Eiling into a sewer)
General Eiling: Harrison!  You're one of them! A metahuman!
Dr. Wells: Yes, I am. And I protect my own.
(growling is heard from behind Eiling)
General Eiling: What was that?
Dr. Wells: Now, THAT... is an old friend of ours.
Grodd: General...
General Eiling: That voice...It's in my head!  Dear God!
Grodd: Not God.  Grodd!


Barry is proven to be fast enough to outrun the blast wave of a nuclear explosion... if just barely.

Mason Bridge, the reporter asked to mentor Isis, is seen for the first time since F111.

Dr. Stein also conducted studies into the theory of time travel.

Stein's chosen destination for a time travel trip would be the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, so that he could argue with Nikola Tesla.

Caitlin refers to the events of F108 and Cisco's accident while testing one of Captain Boomerang's weapons.

Ronnie Raymond and Professor Stein share some kind of telepathic/empathic bond that enables Stein to feel it when Ronnie is hit with a sedative dart and his feelings of fear.  Likewise, Ronnie is able to feel it when Stein is slipped a drugged drink by Dr. Wells. Their connection is also somewhat physical, with a message that Ronnie carves into his arm appearing on Stein's arm.

Caitlin refers to her meeting with Jason Rusch back in F110 and how The Army took all of Stein's research.

Cisco refers to The Mist, who was indeed fought on "week three" (i.e. F103)

General Eiling knows Barry Allen's secret identity.  He was able to get a clear view of Barry's unmasked face back in F105 when Barry removed his mask as Plastique was dying.

Wells sells Stein out to Eiling.

As Eiling shocks Stein with a cattle prod, he notes the last time he did this was to a gorilla, in reference to the flashback scenes from F105.
Professor Stein knows Morse Code.

Stein is being kept at Facility 27 - an officially closed down Army base 300 miles away from Central City.

Stein and Ronnie leave for Pittsburgh at the episode's end, to meet with a colleague of Stein's he thinks may be able to help them learn about their powers.

Iris makes a connection between "The Burning Man" and STAR Labs.

We see Dr. Wells wearing the Reverse Flash costume for the first time.

At the end of the episode, General Eiling is apparently killed by Gorilla Grodd, whom Dr. Wells is working with.

The Fridge Factor

It's somewhat vexing that Iris' whole motivation in investigating the weirdness at STAR Labs is born of a male colleague telling her what to do.

The Bottom Line

A solid episode and a good back-door pilot for a Firestorm series.  As usual, the only aspect of the show that really doesn't work involves Iris and her reporting job.  It wouldn't be so bad if she were going after STAR Labs of her own volition and not because of the ideas planted by her sleazy co-worker.  And Barry is given surprisingly little to do but mope about how it's already predestined for him to fail in saving his mother.  Still, the episode works well for the most part. And the cliff-hanger may be the strongest one yet!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Arrow: Season 2.5 #13 - A Review

As the Suicide Squad return home from their mission and debrief, Oliver Queen and Roy Harper leave on a new mission.  Brother Blood has captured Felicity Smoak and he demands a high price for her safe return - The Arrow himself!

I have mixed feelings about the script for this issue.  On the one hand, it's nice to see Roy Harper indulging in some of the snark so common to his comic-book counterpart.  On the other hand, I'm not sure that Felicity - even with her increased confidence post-Season One - would be quite so free about heckling Brother Blood as she is here.  There's a lot of good comedy here but I'm not sure it really fits Felicity's scared mode.

While I may quibble with the dialogue in this issue, I have no qualms about the artwork.  Joe Bennett and Craid Yeung continue to do a fine job on the main Arrow comic.  And Szymon Kudranski proves as impressive as always on the back-up Suicide Squad story.

Conan/Red Sonja #2 - A Review

It has been six years since Conan of Cimmeria and Red Sonja of Hyrkania crossed paths and much has changed in that time. Now, Conan answers to the name Amra the Lion and sails the sea alongside the pirate queen Belit as Sonja sails against slavers with Black Annisia - her cell-mate in the gladiatorial slave pits of Zamora. And fate has thrown these four adventurers together at an auspicious time, for the evil that once united Sonja and Conan has risen again on a deserted island...

The script by Gail Simone and Jim Zub is a strong one that fully takes advantage of the Hyborian setting as well as past tales of Conan and Red Sonja.  Indeed, this story is notable in that it adds some much-needed definition to the character of Black Annisia, whose past with Sonja remained something of a mystery during Simone's run on Red Sonja. And it is telling that Sonja and Conan seem to share a true heroic impulse that their respective soul-mates lack.

The artwork by Dan Panosian and Dave Stewart is truly epic.  Panosian adopts a rough, visceral style worthy of the setting.  And Stewart's color choices are, to pardon the pun, picture perfect, with various levels being used to depict differing levels of light in subtle fashion.

Justice League United #9 - A Review

Pro Tip: When you have so many characters in your comic that you can't name them all on a single page and indeed can barely fit their headshots onto a single page, that might be a sign that you have too many damn characters in your comic.

I don't mean to keep harping on this point but that's really all I can say about Justice League United at the moment.  Literally nothing has happened for the past few issues except that more Legionaries keep being sent to the past to fight this one cosmic villain. And the whole affair is mind-blowingly dull in the way that only the most truly awful of LoSH stories (i.e. most of them) can be dull.

The artwork continues to be the high point of this book.  You may not have any idea who any of these characters are or what they can do but by gum they look good doing it!

What happened, Jeff Lemire?  Did Paul Levitz insist on taking over JLU and ghost-writing it now that all the Legion books have been canceled?  Do the have your family?  Is your true opinion of this crossover hidden in Sardath's dialogue about there being too many characters to keep track of?

Just blink twice if you need help!  We are ready to rescue you!

Star Wars: Darth Vader #1

It is a time of great turmoil for The Galactic Empire. Attacking from a remote moon of the Yavin system, rebel scum have destroyed The Death Star. Darth Vader somehow survived the disaster but will he survive the wrath of his master, The Emperor Palpatine, when there is no one else left alive to take the blame?

The dialogue in this book is awkward to put it mildly.  There are a number of odd word choices throughout, with the Death Star being described in the opening scrawl as "The Empire's ultimate peacekeeping force" rather than "ultimate weapon" and Vader describing a Rebel attack by saying "They had... a certain success." rather than "They were successful." among others.  My colleague Roy Buckingham of  the Cult Film Fanatics podcast said it best - this entire comic reads like it was written by Tommy Wiseau of The Room.

At least the book looks good.  Artist Salvador Larroca does a fine job capturing the appearances of the characters from the movies and in depicting the backgrounds of the various worlds well.  And color artist Edgar Delgado manages some truly impressive lighting effects with the coloration.

Secret Six #2 - A Review

Six special souls, trapped together thanks to something called Project: Mockingbird. With one minute to choose one of their own to die, they make a bold choice.  They decide to fight and escape!

It's all but impossible to describe the action of Secret Six #2 without giving away the whole game, so I won't.  Suffice it to say that Gail Simone has surpassed our expectations and surprised us once again.  The story here has little resemblance to the previous Secret Six title. There is less overt comedy and little in the way of costumed action. This book is decidedly more creepy, being closer in execution to a modern horror comic than a superhero title and that is to its benefit.

The artwork itself is born of this same horrific aesthetic.  The visuals here are dark and gritty, masterfully drawn by Ken Lashley with assistance on the inks by Drew Geraci. The color palette chosen by Jason Wright is chosen well, leaving everything looking muted and mysterious.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ant Man #2 - A Review

Having just blown off a multi-million dollar job offer from Tony Stark so that he could be close to his daughter, Scott Lang is in need of a job.  Sure, he may save lives as Ant Man but he does need to pay the rent somehow.  Well, he WOULD need to pay rent if his current domicile weren't an Iron Man action-figure play set, but that's besides the point.  The point is that Scott has a plan to get the money he needs to start his own business.  Now if only he can survive the bank-loan application process, fighting a Nazi robot and a chance encounter with a furry-suited super-villain who mistook him for a different Ant Man.

The script for this issue is a perfect blend of action, drama and comedy. Nick Spencer is a funny guy (his Jimmy Olsen one-shot is one of my all-time favorites) but he doesn't make fun of Scott Lang or his powers as much as he mocks the complications of life in the Marvel Universe. Such as how difficult it is to rebuild your life after you've been declared legally dead and got resurrected by a cosmic event. Yet there are still moments of ethos and pathos, where the former thief finds himself tested by temptation.

The artwork by Ramon Rosanas proves a perfect match for Spencer's scripts.  Rosana has a great sense of visual storytelling and the panel flow of each page is quite good. The action sequences are also well-played and look great.

Superman #38 - A Review

Despite the best efforts of Superman and Ulysses, the fourth-dimensional planet known as The Great World has been destroyed.  Now an enraged Ulysses has turned upon Superman.  And in order to save his adopted home-world, Superman must do the impossible and fight his former friend!

Geoff Johns is one of the best writers in the business and his love for Superman and the mythos of Superman has been clear throughout this arc.  Ulysses' story comes to a satisfying conclusion and Johns has a lot of fun with the idea of a new Super-power that Batman dubs "The Super Flare".  Yet the best parts of this issue are the little character moments, such as Clark Kent's hanging out with Jimmy Olsen and Alfred the butler's fretting over his inability to clean Kryptonian fabric.

John Romita Jr. is also considered to be one of the best artists in the American comic book industry and this issue shows why. There is a grittiness to JRJ's work that seems an odd fit for Superman yet somehow it works.  Why it works is unquantifiable but it does work.

Star Wars #2 (Marvel 2015) - A Review

The second issue of the new Star Wars book starts right where the first one left off, as our heroes attempt to blow up an Imperial weapons factory and escape with their lives.  There's just one thing standing in their way - Darth Vader! And to say that he is not amused would be putting it mildly.

Jason Aaron's script perfectly captures the feel of the films, for good and for ill.  Some of the dialogue is awkward but in a way that seems fitting to the characters (i.e. some of Darth Vader's grandiose speeches).  Still, there are enough good character touches to make up for it, such as Han's still refusing to believe in The Force even as Vader is taking apart the AT-AT Walker Han is piloting...with one hand!

The artwork is still top notch with John Cassaday doing a fine job of capturing the established characters and blocking the action.  Laura Martin's colors keep things vibrant, despite the dull, mechanical setting of the story. And Chris Eliopoulos makes even the letters and fonts of this book visually interesting!

Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle #2 - A Review

The Son of Set - Sutekh the Unclean - has risen!  Now an army of the undead parades before a north-bound army of the conquered Southern nations of Hyboria, hell-bent on enslaving the free nations and spilling enough blood to free Set from his celestial prison.  Their next target?  A school that trains young women to become warriors, run by a woman warrior long retired to the role of Sensei. But for the sake of the world, Red Sonja must fight once more!

A remarkable thing about Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle #2 is that it recaps the action of the first issue as part of its narration.  It is rare to see that done these days in a monthly series, let alone a mini-series such as this.  It's a nice touch and the script by Nancy A. Collins and Luke Leiberman handles it naturally. It also reveals a number of interesting details about Sonja's life before this and how she found love with another unconventional figure - a male medic who preferred healing to swordplay. One wishes we could see more stories set in this continuity in the future, as it's such a novel change from the usual Red Sonja tale.

Of course no Red Sonja tale would be complete without a little action and this issue does contain that!  The fight scenes by Fritz Casas are well-depicted and well-blocked. The only real flaw in the artwork is that many of the smaller panels lack the vivid detail that Casas packs into his full-page spreads.  Thankfully, the line-work is never busy despite that detailing.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2 - A Review

Did you know that squirrels are natural astronomers?  Because they totally are!  And a good thing too!  Because the squirrels of Earth are the only beings who have noticed the approach of Galactus - Eater of Worlds, Wielder Of The Power Cosmic and Baker of Fine Banana Bread. (That last title isn't used as much.)  And now it is the responsibility of Doreen Green - The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl - to save the Earth!  But will she still have time to sign up for the college Anime Club?!
Words cannot describe how much I love this title.


What?  You were expecting me to say more?  I just said words can't describe my love for this title. Not even the dirty, filthy, inappropriate ones you wouldn't say in front of your mom.


Oh, alright.  Fine. You kids today...

I will also say that Ryan North's scripts are hilarious and the artwork by Erica Henderson (with colors by Rico Renzi) perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the scripts in visual form.

Encapsulates is a fun word.  It means "to put in a nut shell".  Really!
This is a good book. More, it is an important book for its potential to offend.  And I don't mean the neck-bearded Adam Baldwin types who object to women writing comics/reading comics and comics featuring heroines that don't look like porn stars. I mean the humorless fans for whom comics are Serious Business - the ones who cam quote chapter and verse from The Book of Claremont and tell you in how many issues Jean Grey was incorrectly depicted with blue eyes instead of green.

You probably know at least one of this sort if you're a comic reader - the sort of fan who object to the idea of Squirrel Girl being able to scare Doctor Doom or get Tony Stark to show her some respect because it is silly. As if the idea of a billionaire playboy designing a flying suit of armor or a gypsy healer becoming the world's greatest master of science and sorcery weren't just as silly as talking to squirrels?

It is for that reason, if no other, that we need books like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl - to offend those who find fun itself offensive.

(Also, I want an actual set of Deadpool's Guide To Super-Villains And Super-Villain Accessories flash cards.  But mostly offending the uptight people!)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Constantine Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 13 - Waiting For The Man

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


When another detective goes missing while investigating the disappearances of young girls that coincided with the full moon, Jim Corrigan brings John and Zed in to help him investigate. Unfortunately, Zed can't shake her visions of Jim Corrigan's impending death.  Worse still, John just had a bounty put on his head by The Brujeria.  And Papa Midnite aims to collect....


Alan Moore's Swamp Thing (The Brujeria), Hellblazer #4 (the basic plot involving a Satanic serial killer called "The Man"), Hellblazer #181 (Gary Lester escaping Hell to deliver a warning to John), Hellblazer: Damnation's Flame (Papa Midnite going after John), Hellblazer #63 (John taking a piss while talking to a supernatural being) and the works of Garth Ennis in general (John's jokes about lung cancer, and the appearance by The Ace of Winchesters).


It's a small thing, but it says a lot that even the usually cool-nerved John Constantine has his composure shaken by finding all of The Man's child brides laying together in one bed and Matt Ryan perfectly captures the character's revulsion and righteous anger later once The Man is in custody.


The general aesthetic of The Man's home perfectly emulates the comics and may well be the creepiest imagery the show has brought about yet.  Forget demons and spirits - a serial killer who successfully enslaves the souls of the young girls he strangles to death is disturbing on multiple levels.

Pub Trivia

The title, plot and a good deal of the imagery and dialogue are taken directly from Hellblazer #4.

Coincidentally, Hellblazer #4 was the issue where John and Zed originally met.

John makes a crack about how he's fit as a fiddle despite his smoking - a reference to how John was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer in the Garth Ennis story Dangerous Habits.

The address where The Man lives is 4 Delano Street.  This is both a reference to the issue number of Hellblazer that inspired this episode as well as the writer, Jamie Delano.


Spontaneous Desiccation is the act of a body becoming quickly dehydrated and mummified.

A Blood Moon is another term for a total lunar eclipse, so called because of the red-tint this gives the moon.

A Lunar Tetrad is four successive total lunar eclipses with no partial lunar eclipses in between.

Biblical Tetrads are Tetrads where the Blood Moons fall on Biblical Feast Days.  These are quite rare, with the next one scheduled in 2015.  There is a prophecy - promoted by a pair of American evangelists - regarding the End Times coming about because of the next Biblical Tetrad.

Holy Water can be used to reveal magical ritual markings.

The Diablo Cauter (a.k.a. The Devil's Branding Irons) were used by The Inquisition in the 13th century to torture witches.  Apparently they are also used by Satan-worshipers to torture people.

Full moons symbolize rebirth.

Sacrifices made during a blood moon are used to usher in the new cycle.

It is possible for a human soul to possess a corpse and use it to speak to people, as Gary Lester does to deliver John a warning.

According to Manny, sensitives like Zed communicate more like spiritual beings than most mortals. When a sensitive such as Zed is in need, angels can sense that need and respond.

Again, Manny claims that angels do not have free will and are bound by the will of Heaven.  He envies the freedom mortals have to act freely on their knowledge.

John has a Tibetan spell that allows him to "pierce the vale".  It requires a DNA sample, the right incantation and an electrical shock capable of temporarily stopping the heart.  This last element is required to induce a state of Bardo - the transitional state between two lives on Earth in Buddhist tradition.  The spell combined with the DNA sample allows John to see through the eyes of the person the DNA belongs to.

Papa Midnite raises a zombie to kill John.  In traditional voodoo, zombies are souls trapped in dead bodies, enslaved to the will of a magician.  They possess enhanced strength and durability but can be killed by head-shots with an ordinary pistol.

The destruction of a zombie can stun the magician who created it.

There is a long tradition of magicians using animals as spies, as Papa Midnite does here.  The tradition dates back to at least the time of Norse myth, where Odin made use of two raven familiars - Thought and Memory - to watch distant events. Perhaps the most famous example of this in modern culture is Saurman using ravens and crows to track The Fellowship in The Lord of the Rings.

Papa Midnite arms himself with The Ace of Winchesters - last seen in C103 - when he goes to confront John directly.

For Papa Midnite, the reward for sacrificing John is to free his sister's soul from Hell. z

John knows how to raise a zombie.  He can also create a strong enough glamour to make the zombie look like him and fool as powerful a magician as Papa Midnite at close range.

John knows a ritual that allows him to free bound souls.  He uses this to save the first three girls killed by The Man.

Dialogue Triumphs

Are you going to roll the dice on Gary's warning too?  Just wait and see what turns up?
John: Yeah. Sounds reasonable.
Zed: You can't ignore the warnings, John
John: Oh, every time I light up I have the Surgeon General harping on about bloody lung cancer and look at me.  Fit as a fiddle!
Zed: What's your point?
John: My point is we all shape our destiny but none of us get to escape our fate. So when my time's up, that's it.

Zed: What are you doing here? John says you never come when he calls.
Manny: He doesn't ask as nicely as you.

John: There's a girl out there with a depraved killer. I'm her only hope of rescue. Can any bounty be worth that stain on your soul?
Papa Midnite: I gave up on my soul a long time ago.

John: Tell me... what would happen if a man like this, after everything he's done, all the children he's's murdered...what would happen if he were... to try and run away?
Jim: He ain't no demon, ain't no ghost.  He's a man.
John: Is he, Jim?
(Jim looks at The Man, undoes his handcuffs, and draws his gun)
Jim: Run.

John: I stare into the face of evil every bloody day. It usually manifests itself as a demon, a malevolent spirit, a bloody zombie, but now...
Manny: John, you've encountered human evil before.
John: I have, but this is something else entirely. We now know what happens when The Rising Darkness meets the worst of humanity  There's not an evil in any realm more bloody dangerous than that.
(John turns away but Manny grabs his shoulder)
This thing that we've set out to do, you and I - it's working. We can win this war. Trust me.
John: (chuckles) Of course we can. You know me. I don't play if I can't win. All I'm worried about is how to spend the rest of my days after I've driven every last bastard demon back to where it belongs.

Papa Midnite: So that's it? I'm free now? What's the catch?
Manny: You'll never be free. You gave up any hope of that when you went to work for The Brujeria.
Papa Midnite: What do you want?
Manny: I'm cancelling the contract on John Constantine.  You understand? He's off-limits.
Papa Midnite: You work for The Brujeria?!
Manny:  No. The Brujeria work for me.


The "previously on Constantine" teaser shows clips from C103C105 and C108, regarding Papa Midnite, Jim Corrigan, Zed's visions of Corrigan dying and being surrounded by green fire, The Brujeria and Papa Midnite's prophecy that the Rising Darkness was heralded by someone close to John who will betray him.

Zed says her visions always come true eventually.


New Orleans

The Bottom Line

In a fair and just world, this would have been a stunning mid-season finale.  Sadly, this is not a fair and just world and the best that we can hope for is that some magic will see fit to deliver unto us a second season of Constantine and that more episodes will be like this one.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 13 - Canaries

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


Oliver Queen is used to calling the shots and making the rules. But in his absence, Team Arrow has grown past him and is reluctant to return to the way they were before.  This is especially true for Laurel, who Oliver doesn't see as being part of the team at all.  But when the new Count Vertigo escapes and starts putting his drugs out on the street again, The Canary will take action - with or without The Arrow.  At the same time, Oliver makes a fateful decision regarding Thea that will change their lives forever even as The League of Assassins make their first move in coming after them.

In the flashbacks, Oliver and Maseo plan their escape from Hong Kong - needing to flee both Chien Na Wei's followers and ARGUS.


The Green Arrow/Black Canary comics of Andrew Kreisberg


As Assistant District Attorney, Laurel has no authority to speak on behalf of a convicted criminal who is speaking to the press and say that he has no comment.  If she was defending him, it would be another story.

Thea's turning on Merlyn seems somewhat abrupt, given that last week she was defending everything he'd done - even The Undertaking - because Merlyn had risked his life to save her during The Seige of Starling City.

For that matter, Roy's agreeing with Thea's sudden change of heart is quite a change from last week when he was the one person on Team Arrow willing to suggest that Malcolm could be reasoned with.

Felicity's analysis of Sara's motivations vs. Laurel's motivations seems hopelessly flawed, with Felicity claiming that Sara wore a mask to hide her demons but that Laurel (whom Felicity has barely interacted with until recently) has some kind of light inside of her. This in spite of Laurel's motivations being entirely driven her inner demons - i..e. rage and guilt over Sara's death

Oliver tells Laurel that there is something he can tell her that she doesn't know. We never do find out what this is, though.


Willa Holland steals the show this time around, as Thea finally learns the truth about Oliver's secret life.


As in the comics, members of the League of Assassins will frequently commit suicide before allowing themselves to be captured alive.  Chase demonstrates this, as he poisons himself before Merlyn can kill him.

Felicity tracks Count Vertigo to Daggett Pharmaceuticals. This may be a reference to Roland Daggett - a corrupt businessman from Batman: The Animated Series. He was the one responsible for creating Clayface.  Daggett also appeared in the movie The Dark Knight Rises, as the businessman who hired Catwoman and Bane as part of a plan to bankrupt Bruce Wayne.


Chlorine Trifluoride is a colorless, poisonous, corrosive and extremely reactive gas.  It is used as a component in rocket fuel and is surpasses the oxidizing abilities of pure oxygen!

According to Merlyn, noblemen frequently used red wine when poisoning someone because the strong smell of the wine can hide the scent of various poisons, particularly cyanide.

Dialogue Triumphs

Illusion Sara:
Dinah Laurel Lance.  Selfish Bitch.  You're not a hero.  You're a liar. A fraud. And an addict.

Will you think for a second about what it will do to your father if something happened to you?! What you're doing is selfish!
Laurel: Fighting for your city isn't selfish!  It's what a hero would do.
Oliver: You're not a hero.

Oliver: I know that this isn't going to mean much. I've give you no reason to believe me when I say it.. But I've lied all this time to protect you.
(Thea looks at the case holding The Arrow costume)
Thea: You're... you're him.
Oliver: Yeah.
Thea: That night with the- the hoods and... that woman in black... that...
Oliver: Was Ra's Al Ghul's daughter.
Thea: That was you. All those times I got so mad at you for being a flake or telling me something I knew that had to be a lie... you were saving someone's life.
(Thea moves to hug Ollie) 
Thank you.  Thank you, Ollie.  Thank you.

Laurel: I know what you're going to say. But I risked my life for this city while you were gone. That should earn me some respect.
Oliver: This isn't about respect. And it's not about you risking your life.  I understand that you miss Sara. And I understand that when you go out there like this, all that pain goes away.
Laurel: It's the only time it ever does.
Oliver: And that relief isn't real. It's a drug.
Laurel: If you're implying -
Oliver: You are an addict. And just like with booze and pills, that high you're chasing every night is endangering your life.
Laurel: Go to hell, Oliver! You don't get to play that card with me!  Ever! And if there is anyone who is using adrenaline to hide the pain of real feelings and real life, it's you!

Thea: You smell like smoke.  Korean barbecue?
Ollie: C4.  (pause) Yeah.
Thea: It's nice that we can tell each other this stuff now.
Ollie: It is, actually.

Quentin: Have you heard  from Sara lately?
Laurel: No.  Why?
Quentin: I ran into her a few weeks back and something just felt a little... off.  Then I ran into that friend of her's. You know, the one with the, uh.. boy hair?
Laurel: Sin.
Quentin:  Yeah, Sin. That's it. She said something strange. She said that the woman in black isn't Sara.
Laurel: That doesn't make any sense. 
No. (pause) I mean, I just want to talk to her, you know.  Sara or not.

Thea: I felt pretty lame not recognizing my own brother just because he's wearing a hood. I can't believe you knew before I did.
Roy: He saved my life, Thea.
Thea: He saved a lot of peoples lives. (pause) He thinks we need Merlyn's help.
Roy: Hmm.  And what do you think?
Thea: I think I want to get as far away from Malcolm Merlyn as I possibly can.
Roy: Well, there's your answer right there.

Diggle: What I know, Oliver, is that you started something.  Something strong enough to live on past you.  Question is... can you live with what it's become?

Illusion Quentin: You lied to me, Laurel!  Straight to my face!  My own daughter! Sara was my daughter! I deserved to know! I had a right! To grieve! To mourn! Who do you think you are to take that from me, huh? Who do you think you are?!  You keep my own daughter's death a secret just because you think I'm too weak for the truth?!

Dialogue Disasters

I think Sara wore her mask just as much to hide her demons as she did to help people. And I don't see that with you. You have a light inside of you that Sara never had. So maybe you should stop trying to be Sara and just be yourself?

We see the new Count Vertigo for the first time since A301.

Oliver reveals his secret identity to Thea.

Thea refers to The League of Assassins trying to kill her in A304.

Oliver tells Thea about their mother knowing his secret, which was revealed in A220.

Thea refers to the events of A309 and how Ollie broke the window of her apartment.

Oliver can survive being water-boarded for ten minutes.  Most special forces soldiers do not last three minutes, according to Amanda Waller.

Quentin refers to the events of A311 and A312 regarding his meetings with "Sara" and Sin.

Quentin figures out that Sara is the new Canary on his own.

Laurel tells Quentin about Sara's death.

At the end of the episode, Ollie and Thea travel to Lian Yu.

Maseo turns himself in rather than let Oliver take all of the blame for their escape after he learns of Oliver's capture by ARGUS.

In the flashbacks, Waller escorts Oliver to Starling City.

Untelevised Adventures

Oliver makes reference to running into Laurel in costume sometime between the events of last week's episode and this episode.

The Fridge Factor

Pretty much the everything involving Laurel in this episode is dedicated to showing how she's incompetent as a vigilante as well as being "a selfish bitch, a liar, a fraud and an addict".  And it isn't entirely wrong, Ollie's dislike of vigilantes he hasn't trained to the contrary.  Hell, the only thing that saves her at the end is Vertigo's drug eventually triggering her fight response and her getting the jump on him.

Had Laurel shown any signs of guilt for her past behavior before now, this might have been an effective way of showing that.  As it is, the whole thing comes off as incredibly forced.  At least Laurel finally comes clean to her father at the end but the fact of the matter is that Laurel is still a pretty terrible person whose only reason for being a vigilante is as a means of coping with her guilt and rage over her sister's death.

The Bottom Line

The weakest episode of the series in quite some time. The writing is sub-par, with most of the cast seeming out of character and spouting opinions that are totally the opposite of what they were saying in the last episode. The fact that the episode is called Canaries when most of the action is focused upon Thea and how things change now that she knows all about Ollie's secret life says it all.  Still, at least a lot of the stupider plot points of Season 3 have been resolved (i.e. Laurel's going through increasingly ludicrous ends to hide Sara's death from her feather and Thea's obliviousness to what's going on around her own nightclub.)  and the next episode promises to move the plot along.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 13 - The Nuclear Man

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


After "The Burning Man" attacks a local physicist, Caitlin and Dr.Wells go off in search of the man who was Ronnie Raymond.. Meanwhile, Joe West recruits Cisco to help him with investigating the scene of Nora Allen's murder.  And Barry tries to romance Linda Park... much to the apparent annoyance of Iris West.


The Flash: Rebirth by Geoff Johns, The Firestorm comics of Gerry Conway and The Flash comics of Mark Waid.


It seems odd that Barry should have a problem with spicy food, given that his favorite pizza is pepperoni, olives and Jalapenos - as seen in Episode 102! (Jalapenos are actually on the low end of the Scoville scale, so Barry could legitimately not like more spicy fare.)

Iris' sudden about-face regarding Barry finding romance seems odd to say the least.


Robbie Amell turns in the best performance of his career here, playing Martin Stein in Ronnie Raymond's body.  You really believe he's an older academic despite his chiseled physique.

The cast get a lot of good moments here, with a number of dialogues that allow the characters to play off of someone they don't usually get to be alone with. Of particular note are Dr. Wells/Caitlin during the stakeout and Joe/Cisco at the crime scene.

Flash Facts

The title of the episode comes from the name of the first Firestorm comic - Firestorm: The Nuclear Man.

The first Firestorm comic was abruptly canceled just five issues into its run, due to The DC Implosion of 1978.  Firestorm continued, however, as a series of 8-page back-up stories in The Flash comic book, before a new Firestorm series started in 1982.

Barry being known as Mr. Punctual is an ironic joke about Barry's usually always being late - both in the show and the comics.

Barry is called in to rescue a suicidal man who is about to jump off a roof at the corner of 52nd and Waid.  Mark Waid was the writer on The Flash for a number of years and is still considered to be one of the best writers to handle the character.  And 52nd Street is yet another example of the significance of the number 52 in DC Comics productions.

Dr. Quentin Quale and the company he works for - Concordance Research - are both callbacks to the original Firestorm: The Nuclear Man comic.  There, Dr. Quentin Quale was Martin Stein's former project manager and Concordance Research was the company Stein worked for before being fired.

Quentin Quale's name may in itself be a reference to Grouch Marx's character in the movie Go West - S. Quentin Quale.  This in itself is a reference to an old slang term - San Quentin Quail - whose modern equivalent is "Jail Bait".  And S. Quentin Quale is also the real name of the character known as Dr. Satan in the Rob Zombie horror movie House of 1,000 Corpses.

Cisco's worries about the effects Barry's powers could have on his love life are a frequent subject of discussion among comic fans in real life.  Indeed, discussion of the problems super-speed bring to an active sex life is perhaps second only to the issues raised in Larry Niven's 1971 article Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex regarding any attempt by Superman and Lois Lane to having a child together. Ignoring that The Fastest Man Alive is not a good title to have in the bedroom, there are also worries about friction burns in sensitive places.

Barry quotes Albert Einsten regarding aesthetics in science - “Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”

As in the comics, Martin Stein is married to a woman named Clarissa.  The show hints at difficulties in the marriage, with Martin being more devoted to his work than his wife.  In the comics, Clarissa Stein left her husband for this reason.

Reference is made to Martin Stein winning The Conway Prize for Scientific Achievement three times. The award's name is a reference to Gerry Conway - a legendary comics writer who, among other accomplishments, created Firestorm and Vibe.

Barry plans to take Linda to an underground jazz club where Mal Duncan is playing.  In the comics, Mal Duncan was a jazz musician and a member of The Teen Titans and The Doom Patrol.  He held a number of superhero names - Guardian, Hornblower, Herald and Vox - and wielded an artifact known as The Gabriel Horn, which let him open portals and unleash sonic blasts.

Linda Park mentions the local professional hockey franchise - The Keystone City Combines - which is indeed the name of the local NHL franchise in the comics.

Firestorm tells Caitlin he has memories of being with her at Hudson Falls. In the original Firestorm comics, the accident that merged Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein occurred at the Hudson Nuclear Power Plant.

Martin Stein joking asks Barry for a glass of 1982 Chateau Haut Grion Pessac-Leognan.  The Fury of Firestorm - the second Firestorm comic series and the longest running one to date - first saw publication in 1982.

Firestorm misquotes Albert Einsten, saying "Any man who drives safely while kissing a pretty girl is not giving the pretty girl the attention she deserves."  The actual quote is “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

The design of The Quantum Splitter - and its placement on Firestorm's chest - is a clear visual reference to the unique design of the chest of the original Firestorm's costume.


Dr. Wells suggests basic Darwinism (i.e. survival of the fittest) as the reason why Martin Stein's mind took over Ronnie Raymond's body when the two merged rather than the other way around.  A brand new organism will select the strongest parts of itself in order to survive - in this case, Stein's intellect in Raymond's younger, more fit body.

Cisco's Super Light is a multi-spectrum ultraviolet laser-enhanced scanner that detects molecular schisms in the 600 mega-volt range.

Silver nitrate was used as the backing in vintage mirrors and is also the compound used in photography.

Cisco is able to pull ten exposures from the mirror, digitally enhancing them into three-dimensional holograms.

Stein theorizes that he can use nuclear fission to separate himself and Ronnie Raymond.

Caitlin administers a combination of anti-psychotics, depressants and mood-stabilizers - the same formula used to treat dissociation identity disorder - to Firestorm in order to help clear his head.

The blood types for the two speedsters present when Nora Allen died are A-positive and AB-negative.  Cisco later determines that one of the two belongs to an adult Barry Allen.  The second one doesn't match Dr. Harrison Wells.

Firestorm's body temperature is 108.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wells determines that Raymond's body is rejecting Stein's atoms, like a host rejecting a parasite and the resulting instability is causing an exothermic reaction, which could result in a nuclear explosion powerful enough to level Central City.

According to Barry, Naga Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper) is the hottest pepper in the world and is 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco.

While it's unclear what scale Barry is using, the Scoville scale - the scale most commonly used for rating the spiciness of food -  rates Naga Jolokia (1 million units) as being 73 times hotter than Tabasco (30,000 units). Also, the hottest pepper in the world is The Carolina Reaper at 2.2 million units.

30 miles away is the minimum safe distance for surviving a nuclear explosion.

P16 is a protein that builds up in the blood as people age.

Wells determines that he can use the Tachyon prototype to fashion a Quantum Splicer - a fission device designed to bombard Firestorm's atoms with as much energy as they experiences during the particle accelerator explosion with the goal of safely separating them.

Dialogue Triumphs

Aren't you worried about moving too fast?
Barry: No.  What do you mean?  It's a second date.
Cisco: No, no, no, no. I meant going too fast. Hurrying?  Look, I mean, you're fast but there's fast and then there's fast. Am I being subtle enough?
Barry: You're really not.
Caitlin: Cisco's right. With your increased blood flow and increased heart rate, theoretically your speed could cause you to...
Cisco: You're gonna need to think about a lot of dead puppies. Like, we're talking a whole kennel. And baseball. Cold showers. You know what - nuns!

Caitlin: Why would he come back here?
Dr. Wells: Because this is his home. I don't mean the actual house. I mean Clarissa. She's his home. We all want to go home again. You know, where we feel safe? Where we feel loved.  Ronnie is your home.
Caitlin: Not anymore.
Dr. Wells: Remember what I told you on your first day at STAR Labs?
Caitlin: A scientist's work is never finished.
Dr. Wells: A scientist's work is never finished.  Well, my work did this to Ronnie and did this to Martin Stein. But it's not finished and it won't be until we bring them both home.

Firestorm: You shouldn't see me like this.
Clarissa Stein: I see you.  I see you, Martin.

Cisco: Dr. Wells is a great man.  I was nothing when he gave me a job.  A chance to change my life! He has helped so many people!  He's not a murderer!
Joe: Cisco.  I'm a cop. I'm good at reading people. So I know I can trust you with my suspicion. When I go talk to the family and friends of a murder suspect - somebody I know is guilty - and I tell them the person they love is a killer, guess what they all say?  That's not the person I know.

Caitlin: I've already lost Ronnie once. I'm not going to do it again. You said we have a couple of hours.  Use them.

Firestorm: If I learned anything this past year, life's too short not to live.


Martin Stein graduated from the University of Chicago in 1974. He was an anti-war protester and was friends with Quentin Quale, whom told him the truth about his brother committing suicide.

Barry Allen met Martin Stein on the train the day of the STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion. The two discussed Einstein and physics.

Wells determines that he can use his stolen tachyon prototype to fashion a quantum splicer, despite this pushing back his time table.

Cisco's analysis of the blood suggests that - at some point - an adult Barry Allen will travel back to the night of his mother's murder.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, with Barry attempting to outrun a nuclear blast.  We also see General Eiling (last seen in 105) moving in to capture Firestorm.


The badlands thirty miles outside of Central City.

The Bottom Line

A solid episode, despite being lighter on action than usual. As usual, the biggest problem with the episode is the Barry/Iris relationship and Iris' lack of development as a character.  Her butting in to Barry's love-life seems horribly random and is nowhere near as interesting as Barry's scenes with Linda in any case.  It doesn't help that you have the star-crossed romances of both men stuck in the Firestorm Matrix to compare it to in this episode alone.