Monday, March 30, 2015

Arrow: Season 2.5 #16 - A Review

For the third time in his life, Oliver Queen finds himself faced with a sadistic choice. Two women he cares about are threatened and the villain will only let one live. Can Oliver Queen get out of this without losing yet another loved one? And even if he does, can he and his allies escape the clutches of the new Brother Blood?

Marc Guggenheim faces an uphill battle with his script for this issue.  Most fans of Arrow are well aware which of the core cast have survived to see Season Three, so the drama that opens this chapter is not that urgent.  Yet Guggenheim finds other ways to thrill us. And - to his credit - he allows Oliver to be called upon his double-standards regarding his own past as a killer and the differing standards he holds for his allies individually.  We even get a neat nod to what MIGHT be going on elsewhere in the DCTV Universe and who Ollie might know that we're not allowed to mention for legal reasons.

The artwork adheres to its usual high standard.  Penciler Joe Bennett perfectly captures the likenesses of the cast though some of the expressions are a bit odd, with Huntress smiling far more than she ever did on the show. And inker Craig Yeung manages to shade the original art without obscuring it, though the world of Arrow is a place of deep shadows and dark secrets.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #3 - A Review

Darth Vader is not accustomed to things being kept secret from him nor is he used to being kept on a tight leash. Nominally under the command of Grand General Tagge, Vader has his own agenda to pursue. Chief among his goals are tracking down the Force-strong Rebel pilot who destroyed the Death Star. But even one so mighty needs followers to do one's bidding - a fact that leads Vader to seek out the rogue archaeologist and robotics expert Dr. Aphra.

Unfortunately, this issue falls flat compared to the first two. There are some good moments but these are few and far between.  The biggest problem is that there is very little of Lord Vader in this issue, with most of the action focused on our introduction to Dr. Aphra.

The nod to Indiana Jones is mildly amusing but does little to distinguish Dr. Aphra as a unique character. Thus far she comes off as a more talkative Lara Croft or River Song. This lack of originality extends to the other two characters introduced in this issue, who might as well be called Evil Threepio and Evil Artoo for all that it matters.

At least the artwork remains enjoyable, even if the script for this issue is weak. Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado perfectly capture the look of the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately the cover by Adi Granov is the worst sort of gratuitous cheesecake, with Dr. Aphra looking far too young to be a doctor and posed in a stance that leaves her legs spread wide as she gropes her thighs.

Red Sonja #15 - A Review

Bewitched by a sorcerer's death curse, Red Sonja has lost all capacity for forgiveness.  Even the smallest of slights is enough to send the She-Devil of Hyrkania mad with rage. To save the lives of countless innocents, Sonja has burned her hands and destroyed her sword grip.  Alas, the brother of the wizard who cursed her is out for revenge on all those responsible for his brother's death.  So who will save the villagers now that Red Sonja cannot?

Mark Twain once said that "the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great". By that definition, this story has proved Sonja's greatness as a hero. Gail Simone's script sees Sonja playing the hero, not through daring swordplay and cunning, but by acting as an inspiration to other people. It is an interesting change of pace from the usual barbarian adventure story and very well written.

Walter Geovani continues to display why he stands foremost among the finest artists working in comics today. For my money, Red Sonja has never looked so good as it has under Geovani's pencils and inks.  He is well-matched by a trio of colorists (Adriano Lucas, Alex Guimaraes and Marco Lesko) who keep their palettes uniform, so one does not see the usual tell-tale signs of three artists at work, with a sickly blue tint shadowing the outdoors scenes and the indoor scenes done in warmer, more comforting hues.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

John Carter: Warlord of Mars 2015 Special - A Review

The Warlord of Mars and his queen are newly returned home from an adventure on another world, with little on their minds but rest and taking comfort in one another. Alas, it is not to be. For the Morgors of Sasoom haven chosen this night to invade Barsoom! And to retake their world, John Carter and Dejah Thoris must travel the stars again in search of allies... however unlikely they may be.

I have mixed feelings about the script by Robert Place Napton.  This issue draws upon the setting of Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom quite well and Place takes care to explain various minutia (i.e. who all the various leaders are, what race lives on what planet, etc.) for those who have not read all of the original stories, both through the dialogue and the caption boxes. At the same time, I have to wonder if it was really a good idea to do such a continuity-rich story with the monthly John Carter: Warlord of Mars comic only recently rebooted and many newer readers ignorant of who Bandolian and Ul Vas are.

The artwork is similarly conflicted. Rod Rodolfo's original art is clear and serviceable enough. Yet his inks obscure more of the pencils than it enhances in some panels.  This is particularly vexing given the bright colors used by colorist Nanjan Jamberi, which seem at odds with Rodolfo's heavy inks.

Despite these flaws, the John Carter: Warlord of Mars 2015 Special is an enjoyable enough read. However, it is better suited to those who have already traveled to Barsoom rather than new readers, who would do well to check out the monthly series.

Conan/Red Sonja #3 - A Review

Circumstance and the will of a revenge-hungry nobleman have forced Conan and Sonja together again. The mad king and his minions are quickly dispatched, but it is a battle Conan takes no joy in. And as Sonja seeks the source of the once boisterous barbarian's sorrow, another old enemy watches and waits for his own chance at revenge upon the two warriors...

This issue sees the team of Randy Green and Rick Ketcham take over the penciling and inking duties respectively.  The style is different than that of Dan Panosian, who provided the artwork for the first two issues, but no less enjoyable.  Green's figures are well drawn and his panel placement well thought out.  And Ketcham perfectly shades and defines the original art.

I am fast running out of ways to praise the writing of Jim Zub and Gail Simone. This issue featured a number of honest surprises and at least one moment I am unashamed to say left me howling in disbelief. If I say nothing else, let me say this much -  This is the Conan and Red Sonja team-up the fans have been waiting for!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 17 - Suicidal Tendencies

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


It's John and Lyla's wedding day, but their honeymoon is doomed to be a short one. A US Senator has been taken hostage in a Kasnian hospital and Amanda Waller wants to send in The Suicide Squad. Naturally spending more time in the company of Floyd Lawton is the last thing John wants during what was meant to be a romantic weekend but at least he can enjoy watching Lawton squirm as Cupid decides that Deadshot is her new boyfriend.

Back in Starling City, Ray Palmer has turned his considerable fortunes and talents toward tracking down The Arrow following the allegations that Starling City's vigilante is killing once again. Can Oliver evade The Atom or persuade him he truly is being framed?  And where will Felicity's loyalties fall if push comes to shove?


The film American Sniper (Floyd Lawton's background before becoming an assassin), The John Ostrander run on Suicide Squad (a plot involving a corrupt senator named Joseph Cray), the New 52 Suicide Squad (Deadshot unwittingly attracting a mentally unstable female teammate and his uncharacteristic heroic sacrifice) and the Mike Grell run on Green Arrow (law enforcement turning on Oliver Queen after he is framed for a crime he didn't commit).

So did Ollie just forget about the tasered-into-unconsciousness Arsenal following his fight with The Atom as he spun around and walked off dramatically?


Michael Rowe is given a wonderful episode to go out on as Deadshot. The background for this variant of Floyd Lawton is unique to the Arrow universe and it is to Rowe's credit that - despite everything we've seen Lawton do before this episode - he successfully turns Lawton into a likeable anti-hero, if not a tragic hero.

David Ramsey always excels when he is given a chance to take the spotlight for an episode. This episode is no exception.

Brandon Routh does something nearly impossible in this episode - play a heroic character who we have to see as a villain. Ray Palmer's heart is in the right place and he and Oliver Queen have a lot more in common than he thinks.  Ironically, it is the traits he shares with Ollie - a desire for justice and a stubborn certainty in his own righteousness - that set them at odds with one another.


The script for this episode balances two complex plots with equal ease, both of them centering around the season's continuing theme of identity and the conflict between differing aspects of the self - chiefly the desire to do risk one's life doing good versus the desire to settle down with loved ones.

The fight scene between Oliver and multiple dopplegangers is well shot.

The effects work for the scenes with The ATOM suit are brilliant.


A friend of Lyla's named Rick was meant to officiate the wedding, but we are told he was sent overseas to the South Sudan. This could be a reference to Col. Rick Flagg Jr. - the leader of Task Force X - who led two different versions of The Suicide Squad in the comics.

Thea Queen is seen at the wedding, but doesn't have any spoken dialogue in this episode.

Senator Joseph Cray was a villain the the John Ostrander run on Suicide Squad. A corrupt senator who used the squad for his own ends, he threatened to reveal the team's existence to the world. He was killed by Deadshot who, having been given orders to stop Col. Rick Flagg from killing the Senator, satisfied the orders by killing Senator Cray himself.

Interestingly enough, given that the other major plot of this issue involves The Atom, Senator Joseph Cray's son Adam Cray briefly took on the identity of The Atom in the comics.  This new Atom was recruited by Ray Palmer as a replacement and joined The Suicide Squad while Ray Palmer secretly took on another identity in order to infiltrate a gang of size-changing criminals called The Micro Squad.

The country where Senator Cray is taken hostage is called Kaznnia with a z in the hearing-impaired subtitles for the episode but the caption on the establishing shot spells it Kasnia with an s.

Both spellings have been used in materials on-line relating to the fictional nation, which was originally created for the DC Comics Television Animated Universe and the nation featured in several episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond. It is a Balkan nation, which was nearly conquered by Vandal Savage in the modern day.

In an interview, Deadshot actor Michael Rowe confirmed that the Deadshot/Cupid flirtation was a nod to the similar relationship between Harley Quinn and Deadshot in the New 52 Suicide Squad.

The background given for Floyd Lawton in this episode is unique to The Arrow universe. No version of Floyd Lawton in the comics is an ex-soldier. Here, Floyd is an sniper who came home with a severe case of PTSD, turned to drinking heavily and became violent. This led to him being arrested, his wife getting a restraining order against him and Lawton being recruited as an assassin for a group called HIVE.

Floyd Lawton's ex-wife in the comics is named Susan Lawton. His wife on the show is credited on IMDB as Susie Lawton.

In the comics, Susie Lawton was not the mother of Floyd's daughter Zoe.  Zoe was Floyd's daughter by a woman named Michelle, who was introduced in the 2005 Deadshot miniseries.

There are a few references to Brandon Routh's portrayal of Superman in Superman Returns. When he offers his evidence that Oliver Queen is The Arrow to Laurel Lance, she scoffs at his "x-ray vision". And when Oliver and Ray meet in Ray's office, Oliver addresses him as "Super Suit."

The Atom confronts Arrow and Arsenal at the Meltzer Power Plant. This is named in honor of writer Brad Meltzer, who wrote the Green Arrow storyline The Archer's Quest.

The episode ends with a message directing viewers to The Wounded Warrior Project.


Ray Palmer is able to confirm Oliver Queen is The Arrow from a distance using Felicity's face identification software and a high spectrum portable radiograph (a.k.a. x-ray machine).

Dialogue Triumphs

You really want to do this?
John: Hell yes!  Do you?
Lyla: Even more than the first time.
John: Good. Because I'm not letting you get away from me this time.
Lyla: I'm holding you to that.
John: Good.  I love you, Lyla.
Lyla: I love you too.

There's no dialogue as such, but there is an amusing moment when Felicity, John and Roy all have their phones go off when a news article about The Arrow starting to kill again goes on-line in the middle of the reception.

Lawton: Love is a bullet in the brain and if you believe any different you're as crazy as she (Cupid) is.

Ray: Oliver Queen is the Arrow.
Felicity: (trying to sound confused and failing) Whaaaat?
Ray: I have a 140 IQ and three PhD's. It's pretty hard to insult my intelligence but I think you just did.

Felicity: Oliver's not a killer.
Ray: This isn't the first time he's been judge, jury and executioner.
Felicity: He hasn't killed anyone in two years.
Ray: That really is not your best argument.

Felicity: (tearful) He knows. God, he knows. Last year, Ray's fiancee was killed by Mirakuru men. And now he wants to protect the city. So he built a suit out of military grade technology. And he wants to put you in jail. So he used my software to track you down and he scanned you with his X-Rays. And now he knows that you're The Arrow. And he's going to tell the cops.
Ollie: Palmer knows I'm The Arrow?
(Felicity nods)
Ollie: And he has his own mission to protect the city?
(Felicity nods) 
Ollie: When were you going to tell me this?!
Felicity: I have been getting a lot of that today. Look, it's not important. Here's what is - he's going to tell the police who you are!
Roy: Ray built a super-suit? That's kind of awesome.
(Ollie glares at him)
Roy: And reckless!

Cupid: Baby, does it hurt bad?  You were SO brave!
Lawton: Okay. I take it back. I think I DO want to die.

Ray: Huh. Arrow.
Ollie: Super Suit.
Ray: I prefer The Atom.

HIVE Drone: People like you don't get to have a love, children, families. These are just distractions to people like you. For people like you, love is a bullet in the brain.

Felicity: How did it go with Ray?
Ollie: Not well. Your new boyfriend is stubborn. Once he's made his mind up, that's the end of it.
Felicity: Sound like anybody we know?
Ollie: Not only is he untrained, he's unstable.
Felicity: Unstable?!
Ollie: Yeah! Yes! Yes, he's unstable, Felicity. Because he's flying around, in a weapon, looking for a man that has already killed eight people. He's going to be next.
Felicity: (muttered) You'd like that, wouldn't you?
Excuse me?
Felicity: You never wanted me to be with him.
Ollie: That's not true.
Felicity: Yes it is.  All that talk about wanting me to be happy was just talk.
Ollie: No, I meant what I said. Right up to the point where I found out he is just like me.  You deserve better.
Felicity: What I deserve is to be with someone who isn't afraid of being happy. Ray told me wanted a true partner. In his work. And his mission. And in his life. Ray wants to be a hero AND a human being!
Ollie: Yes, because he hasn't realized yet that he can't be. I told you that I couldn't be with you and save this city.  Neither can Ray.  He's just too new at this to know that.

The Arrow: The man you think I am... he'd kill you here and now. I told you to back off! And you didn't listen!
The Atom:  So kill me. Go ahead. Show Felicity the kind of man you really are.
(The Arrow lowers his bow)
The Arrow: I have nothing to prove to her.  But you do.
(He offers The Atom a hand up. He takes it.)
The Arrow:
She chose you. So trust her.

Senator Cray: The Suicide Squad? Well, you are true to your name if you think that the three of you think you can just shoot your way in here.... wait... there were four of you!
(The mercenary behind Cray screams and falls down dead as Deadshot begins sniping from a distance)

Cupid: Floyd, what about you, baby? How are you getting out?
Lawton: I'm not.
John: Lawton, what are you talking about? That wasn't part of the plan! You said you could find your way down!
Lawton: Yeah, I lied. Someone needs to cover your escape. Me up here is what gets you out down there alive.
Lawton: You and your new wife. You just get back to your baby girl, alright John?


Ollie comments that it had been five months since he saw Ray Palmer and now they've seen each other twice in as many weeks.  This is a reference to their first meeting in 301 and their meeting last week in 316.

Ray Palmer is a registered minister.  He says it is a long story why.

Laurel's arm is in a cast, per her training with Nyssa Al Ghul.

Felicity caught the bouquet at the wedding.

Ray Palmer has a 140 I.Q. and three doctorates.

The arrows The League of Assassins uses are perfect replicas of the ones Oliver uses.

Laurel refers to the events of 105 and how Oliver was accused of being The Arrow but cleared of all charges.

Ray deduces that Laurel is The Black Canary based on her relationships with Oliver and Ted Grant.

It is confirmed that Floyd Lawton's first target working for HIVE was Andrew Diggle.

In the aftermath of the mission, Senator Cray buys the silence of the hostages and Floyd Lawton is identified as the leader of the terrorists who took Cray hostage.

Lyla resigns her position with ARGUS. John is ready to quit Team Arrow but Lyla seems to talk him out of it.

Ollie and John toast Floyd Lawton with Ollie's vodka.  The last time they made this toast was in 311.

In the end of the episode, the mayor is shot dead. The episode ends as we hear another arrow being fired as we see Maseo - in an Arrow suit - lining up a shot on Felicity.


The Republic of Kasnia.

The Bottom Line

A solid send-off for The Suicide Squad and a wonderful confrontation between The Arrow and The Atom. And on a show that has become famous for its epic cliffhangers, this one may be one of the best.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 16 - Rogue Time

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


Having run fast enough to travel back in time one day and having replaced his past self, Barry is able to stop Weather Wizard's plans for revenge on Joe West before they can even begin.  Dr. Wells warns Barry that trying to change the past could only create a worse future, but Barry doesn't care. Not when he now knows for certain that Iris shares his feelings and he has a chance of winning her heart.

Unfortunately, while Barry may have broken multiple laws of physics, Murphy's Law still works. And without an excuse to ditch his brother's birthday party, Cisco may be heading down a road that will see him dead at the hands of Captain Cold and Heatwave.


Countless Flash comics about the perils of time travel and altering the timeline, The Butterfly Effect and the Back To The Future movies.


Wells finds security camera footage of Cisco getting into a car with Lisa Snart, but notes that the licence plate is iced over.  How is that possible when Captain Cold didn't have his ice gun back at that point and Central City appears to be in the middle of spring?


Once again Wentworth Miller steals the show as Captain Cold.

We don't see much of Peyton List as Lisa Snart but what screen time she has provides a fun, flirty counterpoint to her cool and controlled brother.

Carlos Valdes has been getting a lot more serious material over the past few episodes.  He's proven that Cisco is more than mere comic relief.

Again, Tom Cavangh kills with a speech about fatherhood that is such a wicked and yet oddly touching bookend to last week's speech, made all the more screwed up by the fact that now we're fairly certain he DOES mean it... in spite of everything he's done.


The scene in which Barry and Captain Cold negotiate is very well shot, with both figures' faces hidden in shadow as everything is revealed between them.  

Flash Facts

Dante Ramon is the name of Cisco Ramon's older brother in the comics.

In the comics, Lisa Snart (aka The Golden Glider) was Leonard Snart's younger sister. Lisa shared her brother's love of the cold and became a world-class ice skater. She also dated her brother's fellow Rogue, The Top, who coached her spinning making her an even better skater. After The Top went mad and died as a result of his plan to blow up Central City, Lisa swore revenge on The Flash and decided to go into the villain business herself.

As The Golden Glider, Lisa used a number of gadgets to try and kill The Flash. Chief among them were a pair of special skates, based on her brother's technology, that generated their own ice, allowing her to skate on any surface and even create ice paths in midair by freezing the ambient moisture.

In The New 52 universe, Lisa Snart somehow gained the power to astral project her spirit whilst her body lay in a coma. This astral form could move at fantastic speeds, phase through solid matter, fly and also controlled a number of deadly tendrils. Calling herself Glider, she reformed The Rogues and set them after The Flash.

The gun Cisco makes Lisa seems similar to the signature weapon of the Flash/Green Lantern villain Goldface a.k.a. scientist Keith Kenyon. Kenyon developed a formula that gave him golden skin and increased his strength. He also wore gold-platted armor and utilized a gun that covered objects with liquid gold. He eventually reformed and became an honest union leader in Central City.

Captain Cold says that he learned how to put his gun together and take it apart. This is a reference to the original comics where Leonard Snart, despite lacking the technical know-how to build his cold gun in the first place, did have the knowledge needed to assemble, disassemble and repair it with the proper parts.

The agreement Captain Cold and Barry make regarding how they will proceed mirrors the code of conduct Captain Cold created for The Rogues Gallery in the comics.  Chief among these rules are an avoidance of lethal force except in cases of self-defense, not robbing anyone who can't afford the loss and a promise not to go after the friends and family of superheroes and law-enforcement officials.


Wells describes what Barry has done by rupturing the time continuum as "temporal reversion".  He describes time as a fragile construct and says that an deviation could result in a cataclysm.

Wells theorizes that Barry's emotions, circumstances and cortisol levels could influence whether or not he can time-travel when he runs at the appropriate speed. Barry further suggests that his adrenaline levels might be a factor.

Captain Cold is able to alter the intensity of his cold gun. He zaps Dante Ramon with a blast that causes first-degree frostbite.  At that point, the fingers can still be saved with proper treatment. Without it, they require amputation.

Caitlin explains away Barry's behavior to Iris and Eddie as Lightning Pscychosis. The symptoms include mood swings, sudden outbursts of affection and other lapses in judgement. She says it's a very uncommon neurological condition and kerauno-medicine is just now starting to study it. This is, of course, total BS.

Dialogue Triumphs

Wells: Whatever tragedy you think you've just averted, time will find a way to replace it. And trust me, Barry, the next one could be much worse!

Cisco: These are nice things.
Lisa: Oh, we're just squatting.
Cisco: We?
Lisa: Yeah. Me and my brother.
Cold: Hello, Cisco. What exactly are your intentions with my sister?
Cisco: Oh come on! (sighs) I should have known better! I am not that lucky!  (beat) Please don't kill me for kissing your sister.
Cold: You kissed him?
Lisa: You're not dad, Lenny.
Cold: I know. Dad's in jail. Sterling role model.
Cisco: What do you want, Snart?
Cold: Guns. Hot and cold, to be precise.
Cisco: There is no way I'm making weapons for you!  Never again!
Cold: Mick?
(Heatwave brings in a bound and gagged Dante Ramon)
Cold: I know I would do everything in my power to protect my family. The question is... will you?

My sister needs a weapon. Something that suits her personality.
Lisa: Make me something pretty and toxic. Like me. How about something with gold?

Barry: I screwed with Time and now Time is screwing with me!

Wells: You only traveled back in time one day. What if you traveled back decades?  Centuries? Imagine the havoc you could wreak.
Barry: But.. I will have the opportunity to travel back in time in the near future and save my mom. Are you saying I shouldn't?
Wells: I'm saying how many more people could die if your mother lives?

Wells: Making a choice between two people you love - that is the hardest dilemma you will ever face.
Cisco: Well, you won't have to worry about me making the wrong decision again.
Wells: All you proved today, Mr. Ramon, is that you are human. All you proved today is that you love your brother. And the reason that we all want you to stay is that we love you too. Now, I am not a parent. But, in many ways, you have shown me what it is like to have a son.

Barry: I know Cisco told you who I am.
Cold: Can't really blame the kid for giving you up. You or his brother?  C'mon!  I put him in a tight spot.  Same kind I got you in right now. Can't really stop me now that I know who you are.
Barry: I could speed you to my own private prison where you'll never see the light of day.
Cold: You could. But then I won't be around to stop my own private uplink that will broadcast your identity to the world. So, the million dollar question - what to do with me now, Barry Allen?
Barry: I won't let you keep stealing whatever you want, whenever you feel like it. It needs to end!
Cold: Can't do that. It's what I do.
Barry: Then find a new line of work!
Cold: Don't want to.
Barry: Why's that?
Cold: The same reason you keep running after guys like me. The adrenaline. The thrill of the chase. I love this game. And I'm very good at it.
Barry: Then go play it somewhere else! Leave Central City!
Cold: Can't do that either. I love it here. (inhales deeply as if savoring the air) This city is my home.
Barry: You've seen what I can do. You know that I can stop you. You want to keep pushing your luck?  Go for it! But from here on out, no one else dies. If you're as good as you say you are, you don't have to kill anyone to get what you want.
Cold: ...that's true.
Barry: And if you...or anyone in your... rogues gallery... goes near any of my friends or family again... I don't care who you tell my identity to. I'm putting you away.
Cold: I guess your secret's safe... Flash.  For now.
(Barry starts to put his cowl back on)
Cold: Oh, I don't suppose you'd give me a ride back to town, would you?
(Barry runs off, leaving Cold in the middle of the woods)
Cold: (scoffs) The Rogues. Cute.

Reverse Flash: (To Mason Bridge) You really were onto the story of the century. Well, this century anyway.


According to Gideon, Barry's actions do not change the future that Wells is watching.

As a result of Barry's actions, numerous events from the previous episode change.

Barry already knows all about the evidence at the scene of the coroner's murder.

Barry captures Mark Mardon and locks him up in The Pipeline before he can start stalking Joe West.

Captain Singh is no longer hospitalized.

Without the excuse of staying at work to track Mardon, Cisco goes to his brother's birthday party with Caitlin.

Barry breaks up with Linda Park.

Barry interrupts Mason Bridge before he can ask Iris to investigate Harrison Wells and the people who work at STAR Labs.  As such, he doesn't learn who Barry is, his connection to Wells and they never have the conversation that originally makes Barry suspicious of Wells.

Barry makes a coffee date with Iris.

Extremely depressed following the party, Cisco goes out for a drink with Barry.

Cisco meets Lisa Snart, who takes him back to her brother's hideout.

Cisco remakes the cold and heat guns for Captain Cold and Heatwave. He also makes a gun for Lisa Snart, that seems to coat objects with gold.

Barry manages to drive a wedge between himself and Iris at their "date", professing his love again and creeping her out once again.

Captaiin Cold robs the Santini crime family's casino.

Eddie Thawne punches Barry at the scene of Snart's latest robbery, because of what he said to Iris.

Dante confesses to Cisco that his high school girlfriend - Melinda Tores - had a crush on Cisco and that he told her that Cisco wanted to be a priest so that he could peruse her himself, because he was jealous of Cisco and his intelligence.

Cisco reveals The Flash's secret identity to Captain Cold.

Joe West has a conversation with Iris, telling her about the fight between Barry and Eddie and telling her she has to settle things between them, no matter what her feelings are.

Because he was held hostage by Cold, Cisco never stumbles across the secret hologram projector and his conversation alone with Dr. Wells - while similar - is much more touching and does not end with Cisco's death.

Caitlin smooths things over with Iris and Eddie, explaining Barry's odd behavior as a rare condition caused by being struck by lightning.

Mason Bridge is killed by Harrison Wells and declared "missing" by the local police.

Barry is now suspicious of Wells, following Bridge's disappearance.  He tells Joe West that he now believes he was right about everything regarding Wells.

The Bottom Line

An amazing episode that has left me hungry for a The Wire-style spin-off focusing on The Rogues. Time travel stories are a tricky thing at the best of times but the script handles the science well enough even as everything we thought we knew last week changes.  The guest stars are all wonderful and the final scene between Barry and Snart may be my personal favorite moment of the show so far.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3 - A Review

Galactus approaches Earth and only Squirrel Girl can stop him!  Of course there's also a hostage situation at the Empire State University Campus Bank and only Squirrel Girl can stop that! And then you've got Whiplash running around, determined to beat the stuffing out of Squirrel Girl as part of a convoluted plan to get revenge on Iron Man. And yes, only Squirrel Girl can stop him too.

Man, are all the other heroes slacking off this month, or what?!

I've joked before about not having the words to describe my love for this book. It's not much of a joke. I really don't know how to describe this book to those who aren't immediately enraptured by the idea of a comic about a superhero turned college freshman who can make an armored suit out of squirrels. Because if that idea doesn't make you say "Oh my gods that is the most amazing thing ever and how did I live without such joy in my life?", there's little I can say to convince you of the glory that is Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

This is a fun book. The kind of fun we rarely see in comics these days. I don't need your Secret Wars. Just give me more of Doreen Green and I will be a happy fanboy.

Batgirl: Endgame - A Review

As The Joker's latest attack on Gotham City continues, Batgirl finds herself tasked with a special mission - find and rescue Lucius Fox's youngest daughter. Finding a single girl in a city the size of Gotham would be tricky even without mass rioting by a populace that is slowly being driven mad by a Joker-designed virus. But since when has Barbara Gordon ever wanted things to be easy?

You never realize the importance of dialogue and thought balloons in a comic until they are gone. It's particularly jarring in this case given that Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart write such fine dialogue. But the action of this issue proves that they can spin a story just as well without words.

Bengal proves more than capable of conveying that story through the artwork. The flow from panel to panel is brilliant and one of the finest examples of silent storytelling in a comic since Andy Ruton's Owly. Bengal's coloring is also noteworthy, with the entire issue being rendered in warm colors, with nary a blue or green to be seen.

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #6 - A Review

I hesitate to summarize the story of Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #6. Not for the sake of avoiding Spoilers, but because I'm not really sure there's a way to summarize the story so far.

Quite a lot happens in this issue involving UNIT, holes in the fabric of space and time, dead men not being dead anymore, Clara being an awesome teacher and a fair bit of daring-do and do-daring. There's even a brand new monster! But none of it is easily explained or codified into a single paragraph.

What I can say is that Robbie Morrison has perfectly captured the spirit of Series 8 of Doctor Who. The snark of the Capaldi Doctor is on full display throughout the issue and I found myself laughing at him and Clara Oswald more than once.  This whole issue feels like the storyboard for a lost episode of the television series.

This feeling is further aided by the artwork of Brian Williamson.  Williamson possesses a photo-realistic style that does a grand job of capturing the likeness of all the show's regular characters. His only failing is a tendency to apply his inks a little heavily on occasion but the vast majority of the book looks perfect.

The Flash: Season Zero #15 - A Review

King Shark has been captured by The Suicide Squad, though they nearly killed Joe West in the process. This sets Barry Allen to tracking down this dangerous new villain group and sends him to Starling City looking for answers. Answers Oliver Queen has but doesn't want to give away...

With all the secrets upon secrets and shared information that has been revealed on The Flash and Arrow, it never occurred to me until now that Barry knows nothing about ARGUS or The Suicide Squad.  As such, the central conceit of this issue - that the sudden reemergence of Captain Boomerang with a gang of other killers would send Barry running for answers - is a brilliant one that helps to tie the two series even closer together.  As one might expect, there's a high humor quotient to this issue as Barry intrudes on Ollie's 'Arrow' time and fails to notice that while he might casually hold a conversation in the costume, The Arrow does not do anything casually.

Phil Hester is on familiar ground with his artwork here, having been the artist on Green Arrow for a number of years.  Hester's work with The Flash hasn't been bad but I think he's a better fit for the aesthetic of Arrow, which offers more opportunities for the shadowy, dramatic scenes that Hester excels at.  It's a debatable point but what can't be debated is that this issue is as well illustrated as it is well written.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Howard The Duck #1 - A Review

Trapped in a world he never made, Howard The Duck didn't think his life could get much worse. The public is alternatively scared and/or distrustful of him. The police think he's a trouble-maker. And the superhuman community don't have much use for him either. He can't even afford a real secretary! Still, the duck detective finally has a case he can sink his bill into. Now, if he could only get a clue...

Newcomers to Howard The Duck (i.e. everyone who only knows Howard from his cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy and that other movie we do not speak of) will be relieved that there is no cumbersome backstory to be made aware of in this first issue.  Howard is a talking duck. He's trapped on Earth. He's not happy about it. Neither are any of the stupid hairless apes who make Howard's life even more difficult. That's all you need know. A quick reference is made to there being a woman in Howard's past but the matter is quickly dropped as Howard is in no mood to discuss it.

Thankfully, for us old-timers, there are a number of references to Howard's past adventures even though this book gives him a fresh start. For instance, Howard is sharing an office building with She Hulk - an arrangement neither of them is particularly happy about, save when Howard needs someone to bail him out of jail. These nods to the past add to the humor of the issue, of which there is a considerable amount. And of course there's an obligatory first issue cameo by Spider-Man. And a training montage!

Chip Zdarsky's hilarious script is well met by the artwork of Joe Quinones and Rico Renzi.  Quinnones's style is reminiscent of Mike Allred's with simple character designs and a dynamic sense of motion between panels. His design for Howard himself is notable, being a nice compromise between Howard's film appearances and his original appearance in the comics. Ironic really, now that they don't have to worry about a Disney lawsuit...

Superman #39 - A Review

Superman's most recent adventures have left him exhausted and in a reflective mood. So Clark Kent has decided to share his secret identity with his best friend, Jimmy Olsen. But Jimmy doesn't quite believe him and Clark's in no position to show off his powers! A day together may teach both young men a lesson - about what truly makes a man Super and how it feels to be ordinary.

Aspiring creators take note. You don't have to introduce cosmic threats beyond imagining for Superman to punch. You don't have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on special effects to bring Superman to life. Just read this story and learn the same lesson Jimmy Olsen does about who Superman truly is and how it has nothing to do with power and everything to do about giving of yourself to help others. It's a lesson that Geoff Johns knows well and more comic writers need to understand.

The artwork for this issue is the equal of the story.  John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson turn in some of their finest work ever. And the colors by Hi-Fi lend the whole affair a unique vibrancy that leaves the artwork just jumping off the page. This is one of the best Superman comics I've ever read, bar none.

Star Wars: Princess Leia #2 - A Review

With her new companion Evann and R2-D2 in tow, Princess Leia has set a course for Naboo.  Of course going to The Emperor's homeworld pretending to be an Imperial Auditor is a foolish thing. But Naboo is also home to a famous Aldereannian music group and a likely first target for the Emperor's wrath in the wake of The Death Star's destruction.

Mark Waid does a lot to build the new Star Wars universe with this issue, introducing the concept of Alderaan being The Planet Of Beauty and its artistic culture being its primary export to the galaxy. This is fascinating from a scholarly point of view. Alas, the story isn't nearly as enthralling.

Leia doesn't seem to be as smart and capable as she should be. Granting that she does avoid an obvious ambush at the last minute, she only does this due to the incompetence of the henchmen springing the trap. Her advisor - whom Leia doesn't actually listen to the advice of - sees what is coming a mile away when Leia just happens to run into an old friend of her father's after they set foot on the planet. Even R2-D2 seems to question this!

The artwork by Terry and Rachel Dodson shows why the Dodsons typically do comic book covers rather than book interiors. There is some very striking artwork in this book but those moments are few and far between. The close-ups and splash pages are divine but the actual meat and bones of the book - particularly the action sequences - are mediocre, at best.

Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle #3 - A Review

With her school for warrior women destroyed and the forces of Sutekh posed to overtake the northern Hyborian continent, Sonja reluctantly scatters her students to spread word of the coming evil. A solution may be found by communing with the gods themselves. But is Sonja ready to sacrifice the life she has built for herself or to face the goddess she has spurned for so long?

It is unfortunate that after an interesting second chapter that put a truly unique spin on the Red Sonja legend that this third chapter should sink into the malaise that damns so many mini-series starring the Scourge of Hyrkania. I had thought this series based on the more modern take, where Sonja is not beholden to the whims of a goddess and she fights merely because someone must.

Here we learn that Sonja has been taken to the temple of Scathach since childhood. This is, I think, the first time any reference has been made anywhere to Scathach having temples. The implication in previous Sonja stories has been that she was an obscure goddess who chose her champions directly and didn't bother with such finery.

And it seems curious that Sonja's father - by most accounts an ex-warrior who took little pleasure in the soldier's life and gladly became a farmer - would be taking his daughter to the temple of a goddess who represented everything he was leaving behind or that Sonja's mother - who was trying to force the tomboy Sonja into behaving as a girl should - would ever agree to Sonja going to such a place. But whatever.

The real problem comes with the end of this issue, where the Luke Liberman influence becomes most clear and artist Fritz Casas is once again allowed to indulge himself with a little cheesecake.  Now, I have no objection to a little skin in a sword-and-sorcery comic.  It's a part of the fun of the genre.

That being said, depicting Sonja - now a full avatar of Scathach - as naked save for a discrete layer of fire (With flames that grow curiously thinner whenever we view Sonja from behind) seems a little gratuitous. At the very least, it eliminates Sonja's agency and very little is made of the choice she apparently makes without discussing things with the alleged love of her life.

Oh, do you remember him? The man who inspired Red Sonja to give up her life of wandering?  I'm pretty sure they mentioned his name at some point. But the fact that this character is so unmemorable points to the larger problem with this series. There is a saga just waiting to be told about how Sonja didn't just give up her life of adventure for this man - she defied a god oath for her love of him!

Alas, this man is given no more thought than the lawyer-friendly shout out to Conan - aka the unnamed King of Aquilonia who owes Sonja a favor - as we rush to more boobs and blood. This is typical for Red Sonja stories, I know. But this one had been shaping up to be far better.

Batgirl #40 - A Review

I think enough has been said about the alternate cover that almost was that I don't need to say anything more about it here. Heaven knows I've said enough on Facebook and Twitter already. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, there's an excellent article, complete with timeline and references, up on Polygon.

Suffice it to say, while I thought the cover in question was well done, I do think it was rather at odds with the story being told in this series. And to utilize a cover like that in connection to a light-hearted, just-plain fun comic like Batgirl... well, it would be like putting Rainbow Dash snuff porn from DeviantArt on the cover of IDW's My Little Pony comic.

So what do we have in this book, which many have stood up to protest the censorship of but few have professed to reading?  Barbara Gordon vs. Barbara Gordon in a no-holds-barred battle for the body and soul of Barbara Gordon!

Confused?  That's to be expected, as this is the final issue of the books' first major story arc under Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher. But while this isn't a good issue to jump on with and find out just what the heck all the fuss is about, it is a fitting conclusion to the storyline at hand.

What can I say about Babs Tarr's artwork?  Quite a bit. But in keeping with the general positive vibe we have going here, I think I will just say that I love it. Love it. Love it. Love it. Just as I love everything else about this book and would encourage all of you to track down the back issues and read it.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ant Man #3 - A Review

Things are looking up for Scott Lang and his new security business, after a rough start caused by the simple fact that ants - for all their prowess in other areas - are not that good at installing motion detectors. At least Scott's new hire - a fellow ex-con costumed animal-man called The Grizzly - is working out well in his new position as a doorstop. And Scott's ex-wife didn't overreact nearly as much as he expected to the news that he's moved to Miami. Now Scott just has to survive another encounter with his sworn enemy (at least so far as he's concerned)... The Taskmaster!

There is much to admire about Nick Spencer's scripts for this series. Unlike the greater number of comic writers today, Spencer thrives on utilizing the rich history of the Marvel Universe. So when a subplot requires a doctor with a particular skill set and a connection to the superhero world, Spencer goes back into the longboxes to find one to fit the story. Little touches like that make the story a little richer and show how much Spencer truly cares about these characters and their stories.  Spencer is also one of the funniest writers working in the comics medium today and the humor of this issue runs the gamut from slapstick to sight-gags with a lot of clever dialogue in between.

Spencer is well-matched with artist Ramon Rosanas in this regard.  Rosanas can manage straight-forward superheroic action as well as talking-head scenes that are low on action but high on people standing around talking to each other.  Rosanas makes even these static scenes interesting too look at, though the best bits of the book involve the numerous weird angles and images that are sure to come about when your protagonist looks at everything from an inch off the ground.

Justice League United #10 - A Review

This final issue of the Legion of Superheroes/Justice League United crossover had all the same problems as the previous issues. And for those who missed my earlier reviews, I'm referring to the forcibly posed artwork and complete lack of explanation as to who any of the Legion characters are for the readers who don't know/don't care about the LOSH. And yet, I found this one far more enjoyable than any other part of he crossover so far. And that enjoyment came down to three separate factors.

1. The awesome alternate cover inspired by Mars Attacks.

2. The goofy-ass moment in this panel, where Brainiac 5 briefly becomes Macaulay Culkin.

3. The final few pages, in which the characters are allowed to be characters and have conversations rather than shout exposition.

Alas, I'm not sure how many of these characters will be surviving in this form as we enter into the Post-Convergence DCU.  Still, for all its problems, this book wasn't dull.  I just wish Jeff Lemire had been allowed to do more to bring these characters to life.

Superior Iron Man #6 - A Review

If there weren't already evidence that Tony Stark was no longer the man he was, his selling weapons plans to the highest bidder would be a big neon sign that something is wrong. And as Pepper Potts and her mysterious ally investigate just what is going on, the Superior Iron Man is eyeing another target. His new goal?  A multimedia news network of his very own.

This issue lacks the action of previous issues, but that fact proves to be a welcome change. Tom Taylor is at his best when he is letting the characters play off of one another and twisting expectations. He's also a master of dark comedy and we get a fair bit of that in this issue as Tony gets to play the asshole in a most delightful way. The end of the issue, however, promises that next month will more than make up for it should there be anyone lamenting this issue's relative lack of violence.

Laura Braga continues to impress. Braga is a wonderful visual storyteller and there is a smooth easiness to the panels of this issue. And I think she may have captured the famous Stark smirk better than any artist in recent memory.

Altered States: Red Sonja #1

Altered States: Red Sonja opens with some purple prose about the various legends of how Red Sonja met her end and the narrator scorning those who say that she died in battle with the wizard Kulan Gath, begging her goddess not to let the war on evil end with her. And then we get to see that actually is how she died.  So... yeah.

Cut to the future, where Sonja's sword just happens to be in the museum overseen by a red-haired curator named Sonja. Where they just happened to have recently acquired a Hyborian-era mummy. And Sonja just happens to read a translation of ancient runes out-loud next to said mummy, thus performing the resurrection ritual to bring Kulan Gath back to life and enable him to turn modern-day New York City into a twisted mirror of his own time. Luckily Sonja grabs the sword of Red Sonja and she suddenly finds herself in an impractical outfit with the body of a woman who works-out every day and doesn't have a desk job.

If this story seems at all familiar, it's probably because John Byrne and Chris Claremont told it over three decades ago and told the tale far better.  Heck, Dynamite Entertainment retold that tale a few years ago and even that was better than this comic.  But the problems with this book go far beyond a lack of originality.

The chief issue is that the modern-day Sonja is the only one who is aware that the world has been changed. And despite having been given a gym-addict's body and Sonja's famous wardrobe, she has none of The She-Devil's martial skill. So our heroine has to be guided through the adventure by an unseen voice while she barely refrains from having a panic attack.

Is that a bad idea for a story?  No.  Is it a bad idea for a Red Sonja story?  Yes! An incompetent heroine is the last thing we want to see in a Red Sonja book.  Never mind the contrived set-up and the unoriginal story.  The biggest problem with this book is that it isn't about Red Sonja - it's about another redhead named Sonja in the same outfit, with none of the drive of the beloved heroine.

The artwork doesn't help matters. If I were asked to sum up the look of this book in one word, it would be 'inconsistent'. Some of the individual panels look good on their own but taken together the whole book looks like a collection of off-model animation cels from a particularly cheap Anime. And I'm still at a loss as to just how Sonja used her sword to stab this monster in the above page.

Star Wars #3 (Marvel 2015) - A Review

Star Wars #3 is one big action sequence until it's last three pages. I mention this only as a preface to the following sentence.  By The Maker, this is one heck of an action sequence!

How awesome is this book?  Darth Vader single-handedly disabling an AT-AT Walker with his light-saber is only the second-most awesome thing that happens over the course of this issue.  That is the scale we are dealing with as far as this book is concerned.

John Cassaday displays this action with all the grandeur one would expect - both from Cassady himself and from the Star Wars franchise in general - and Laura Martin does a fair job varying the color palette as best she can given the limited coloration of a military outpost on a desert planet. The only real flaw in the artwork is that Cassaday sometimes goes too far in trying to capture the likeness of the actors from the original movies. As a result, the characters' expressions don't always match up with the emotion expressed in the dialogue.

Thankfully, these occurrences are few and far between. And despite the high-action content of this issue, Jason Aaron still finds a way to sneak in a few character moments for both Luke and Darth Vader as the issue progresses.  All in all, if you haven't been giving the new Star Wars book a shot, you should. This is more than simple nostalgia. This is everything space opera and comics should be.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 16 - The Offer

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


Oliver Queen has been tested by Ra's Al Ghul and been found worthy of becoming his heir and the new leader of The League of Assassins. It is an offer Ollie is reluctant to think about but which he tentatively considers after being told he may reject the offer without penalty and leave Nanda Parbat with his and Merlyn's debts forgiven as a token of good faith.

Upon returning to Starling City, Oliver finds his problems are far from over. The woman he loves is with another man. His closest friends are questioning his actions since Merlyn is still alive. And now his name is mud with Captain Lance, who is nowhere close to forgiving The Arrow or Laurel for lying to him about Sara's death.

Unfortunately, the police will have need of The Arrow's help when a new gang-leader called Murmur comes downtown, armed for bear. And as Oliver and Thea both struggle with issues of identity and who they are, Laurel will find herself being made an offer as well.

In the flashbacks, Oliver and Akio run around Hong Kong, attempting to give the slip to the ARGUS agents trying to kill them, only for Oliver to run into an unexpected familiar face.


Batman: Son off the Demon (The idea of the League of Assassins adopting non-violent means and the general theme of Ra's Al Ghul giving his empire to a vigilante), Gail Simone's run on Birds of Prey (the idea that a young Dinah Lance waited up for her parents as a child when they were at work and a female assassin is impressed by Black Canary and offers to teach her) and the comics of Dennis O'Neil, particularly Daughter of the Demon.


This season has seen Willa Holland given some of the most challenging material she's ever had to deal with on this show. This episode showcases that she is more than capable of meeting that challenge, as she struggles to figure out who she is in the wake of two failed murder attempts and one attempted suicide ala provoking an assassin into killing her.

Stephen Amell gives a strong performance here, as we are given a rare chance to see Oliver in a moment of emotional vulnerability. Oliver's sanity has been called into question several times in the past few episodes and Amell's performance here is built around the Santayana saying that a fanatic is one who redoubles his efforts while losing sight of their goal. The past few episodes have seen Oliver giving his all only for him now to realize that he has no idea why he is doing what he's doing. His search for answers is a powerful one and Amell nails Ollie's conflict.

As usual, Paul Blackthorne dazzles with every speech he gives. And while Quentin Lance seems to be turning into a more villainous figure, Blackthorne's charisma may leave the audience feeling more sympathy for him than for Oliver and Laurel, no matter how noble their intentions.


Thematically, the script is a strong one, with themes regarding identity and father/daughter relationships repeating throughout.

A nice bit of subtlety in the wardrobe for this episode - Felicity is wearing blue, Ray Palmer's color, throughout the episode.  One more dig against Oliver and his bad choices.

The action sequence in the police station is very well handled.


Ra's Al Ghul says he seeks a successor because the healing waters he's used to prolong his life are beginning to lose their effectiveness. This is precisely why the comics version of Ra's Al Ghul began seeking out a worthy heir, at first selecting Bruce Wayne aka The Batman in Batman #232.

Ra's Al Ghul's sitting room is decorated with the lost Van Eyck painting The Just Judges, which was stolen in 1934.  According to episode writer Brian Ford Sullivan, the panting is the original in the reality of Arrow and that he thought it would be a fun sight gag and that the painting - which represents Justice - would be the sort of thing Ra's would wish to own.

Michael Amar aka Murmur is based on a villain created during Geoff Johns' run on The Flash. In the original comics, Michael Amar was a surgeon and a serial killer, who cut out his own tongue and sewed his mouth shut. Here he is an ordinary criminal who sewed his mouth shut as part of an effort to focus his mind.

Quentin notes that, as a child, Laurel would wait up for him when he was on duty at night to make sure he got home safe.  During Gail Simone's run on Birds of Prey, it was revealed that Dinah Lance did the same thing for both her parents - dad being a beat cop and mom being a superhero, respectively.

Another nod to Gail Simone's Birds of Prey - in that series, Black Canary impressed Lady Shiva - the most powerful member of the League of Assassins - and Shiva offered to make Canary her apprentice and teach her how to be a better fighter. This is precisely what happens between Nyssa and Laurel in this episode.


"Wing ta lao wo chey" means "The tale to be told begins thus" in a long dead dialect.  They are also the first words of Ra's Al Ghul's origin story in Daughter of the Demon.

"Hao Ba" means "okay" in Mandarin Chinese.

We finally learn the secret of Ra's Al Ghul's longevity - some form of magical water. It is not referred to as The Lazarus Pit, though Ra's claims it was first written about by Herodotus (who did write about a magic fountain that prolonged life), that it was described in the Qur'an (where there is an account of the sage Al-Khidr discovering the restorative Water of Life) and that the explorer Ponce De Leon sought it (Ponce DeLeon did seek what he called The Fountain of Youth).

Felicity connects a virtual TCP to an open source sensor in two minutes - a task Ray Palmer couldn't accomplish in two weeks.

According to Felicity, some believe that sewing your mouth shut focuses the mind like meditation.

Diamond-tipped bullets can pass through police body armor.

Dialogue Triumphs

Ra's Al Ghul:
Oliver Queen is a man destined to be alone. He loves a woman he knows he cannot have.
Oliver: You don't know me.
Ra's Al Ghul: But I know The Arrow - "Al Sahhim". You will never be anything more than a vigilante for those whose lives you save at the risk of your own. Your city will turn on you. And your cloesest allies within the police department will call you a criminal. You will be scorned. And hunted. And then killed. Dying as you began your crusade. Alone.

Ra's Al Ghul: We are Justice. Isn't that what you've dedicated your life to?  Then why confine your crusade to a single city, when I can give you a whole world to save?

Arrow: You still need training.
Laurel: When are you going to stop telling me that?!
Arrow: When you no longer need training.

Quentin: My whole career, my whole life... Even when I knew nothing, I at least knew right from wrong and I knew vigilantism was wrong! The day we take the law into our own hands is the day that we...  we become outlaws. And that idea - that idea was precious to me. Almost as precious as my little daughters. I threw that all away the day I threw in with you. You know why?  Because I trusted you.  But I see the man under the hood now. He lies. And he keeps secrets. Also, he doesn't have to carry around the weight of his decisions. And I'm done with him.

Merlyn: You asked me to make you strong. To make sure you can't be hurt again. You learned your lessons well.
Thea: I have learned nothing from you. Do you realize that I am so messed up I was willing to die last night? For what you made me do? You know, I didn't think it was possible for me to hurt any worse than I did when I came to you. You proved to me I was wrong. So what was it again that you taught me?

Oliver: What did you do to her?!
Merlyn: I encouraged her to kill me. My version of being a supportive father.

Oliver: You tell me - what have I really accomplished? My mother is dead. Tommy? Sara? Crime's not down and my sister is in ten different kinds of pain right now.
Felicity: So you leave. Then what?  All the people you've lost? All the sacrifices you've made? It all would have been for nothing!
Oliver: ...I don't know why I'm doing this anymore.
Felicity: I can't... answer that for you. Yes, Captain Lance is shutting you out. But I don't believe you're The Arrow so people can say "thank you".  And yes, you and I aren't together but that was your choice. When we thought you were dead, each one of us had to figure out why we were doing all this. Seems like it's your turn.

Quentin: When you were a little girl, you used to wait up for me when I was out nights. You couldn't fall asleep until I walked through that front door.
Laurel: I remember...
Quentin: You were always the protector of this family, of everyone... Laurel Lance. Always trying to save the world...You can't save this.
Laurel: Dad-
Quentin: You don't know how hard I've tried to forgive you for lying to me the way you did. I'm not proud of it. You're my daughter and I'll always love you but I don't know if I'll ever be able to forgive you.

(After finding The Arrow standing over Murmur)
Quentin: What, are you waiting around for a 'thank you'?
The Arrow: That's not why I do this.

Oliver: I started all of this because of my father... to right his wrongs.  It became something more. But I never stopped to think about it. Or about "why?" until you asked me to.
Felicity: And what was the answer?
Oliver: Tonight at the precinct. The only thing I could think about was those police officers and how their families were counting on me and Roy and Diggle to get them home safe. That's why I'm doing this.


Thea lies about how Nyssa escaped her cell in the Arrow Cave, not telling Roy and Laurel that she let Nyssa out.

Thea refers to the events of A314 & A315 and nearly killing both Slade Wilson and Malcolm Merlyn. She also says the only reason she didn't kill Merlyn was because she thought of her mother and how she'd feel about her becoming a killer like him.

Roy and Felicity are apparently officially an item.

There is a prophecy that any man who does not perish on the blade of Ra's Al Ghul in a duel will become the next Ra's Al Ghul.

In the flashback, Oliver runs into a woman who is the spitting image of Shado.

Nyssa has apparently been kicked out of the League of Assassins and offers to train Laurel.

Thea and Roy hook up once again, after a tearful Thea shows up on Roy's doorstep needing someplace else to be.

Ra's Al Ghul, disguised as The Arrow, begins killing random criminals in Starling City.


The opening scenes take place in Nanda Parbat.

The Fridge Factor

Laurel freezes up as a van nearly runs over her and she has to be saved by Oliver.

The Bottom Line

Like The Flash episode Out of Time, this episode starts out as a weak bit of filler with an unmemorable villain, saved only by the charisma of the cast and some brilliant speeches. Then we get to the last ten minutes and the surprises come along, bam, bam, bam.  And it becomes something, if not great, than at least memorable.

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 15 - Out Of Time

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


Career criminal Mark Mardon has returned and he's out for revenge on the man who killed his brother, Clyde. And not only does Mardon know that Joe West is the man he's looking for - he possesses a more precise form of his brother's weather control powers!

Cisco is quick to build a wand that can negate the powers of this so-called "weather wizard", but Cisco has greater concerns than Central City's latest metahuman menace. Because Joe West's suspicions about Harrison Wells have caught his imagination and turned the young scientist to investigating his boss.

Harrison Wells is also a subject of interest to the reporter Mason Bridge, who has set Iris West on trying to learn Wells' secrets through Barry Allen.  Little does Iris realize that Barry is not without his own secrets. And that a secret she has kept hidden for several months is about to be revealed.


The Geoff Johns run on The Flash (Mark Mardon's powers being internalized) and the Francis Manapcul/ Brian Buccellato run on The Flash (Weather Wizard being motivated to hunt for his brother's killer).


Granting that Mason Bridge seems like an arrogant so-and-so, it still seems a little unbelievable that he'd brag to Barry about having all this dirt on Harrison Wells on a secure server knowing full well that Barry has a close connection to Wells and might have the resources to get at said server given proper motivation.  At the very least, Barry might tell Wells  - whom Bridge believes to be a murderer - what Bridge is up to.


Rick Cosnett hasn't always been given a lot to do as Eddie Thawne in recent episodes but he plays his part here - being suspicious of Iris' increasing friendliness to Barry whenever Linda Park is around - quite well.

The final scenes with Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells are powerful stuff, as the truth is revealed yet we still aren't sure just how much of what Wells says is the truth as he complements Cisco on his brilliance before silencing him.


The sequence in which Barry evacuates Joe's car just before Mardon strikes it with a bolt of lightning is a thing of beauty.

The effects-work for Mardon's assault on the police station is of cinematic quality.

Flash Facts

The title of this episode is shared with an upcoming collection of The Flash comics.  Like this episode, the collection tells the story of Barry Allen using his powers to time travel, in order to stop a great disaster.

In the original comics, Mark Mardon was the first and only Weather Wizard. His younger brother Clyde was a scientist who discovered a way to control the weather shortly before his death by heart attack, though some stories suggest Mark killed his brother and repressed the memory, In either case, Mardon used his brother's research to create a wand-like device that let him control the weather and his first target was the police officers who arrested him. He later internalized the power and no longer needed the wand to manipulate weather.

The New 52 version of The Weather Wizard was part of a Mafia family, who ran away from home after the death of his father.  He returned after receiving news of his brother's death and began hunting for the killer, using his new-found powers of weather control.

Cisco's Wizard's Wand is a nod to the original Weather Wizard Wand, though it accomplishes the opposite effect, preventing Mark Mardon from using his powers.

Harrison Wells confirms his true identity as Eobard Thawne - the first villain to go by the name of The Reverse Flash.  In the comics, Thawne was a Flash fanboy from the 25th century who became obsessed with Barry Allen, to the point that he had plastic surgery to become his virtual twin. He later gained super-speed powers of his own and went back in time to meet his hero, going mad in the process and then seeking to replace Barry Allen.  We have yet to see how much of this may apply to Wells but he does confirm that he comes from The Future among other things.

Wells' method of killing Cisco - vibrating his hand through his chest at super-speed - is a lethal tactic quite often used by evil speedsters as a means of murder in the comics.


Mark Mardon's powers are capable of creating tennis-ball-sized hail indoors.  He is accurate enough to cause multiple bruises in a span of seconds and strong enough to beat a man to death.  Barry determines this based on the dead coroner's bruises and the amount of ice fragments and water left on the floor shortly thereafter.

Barry notes that Leonard Snart's cold gun is not capable of doing what The Weather Wizard did, creating small, accurate ice projectiles.

The medical term for brain-freeze aka an ice cream headache is a Trigerminal Headache.

Cisco proposes creating a grounding mechanism to fight The Weather Wizard - a device that could attract unbound atmospheric electrons.  Since the only way Mardon can control the weather is by tapping into the atmosphere's natural electrical circuit, a device that could take away that circuit would result in "clear skies".

Wells suggests at one point that if Cisco were to adjust the radial velocity parameters of the STAR Labs satellite, they might be able to detect the vortex of a forming storm and that those air updrafts, no matter how small, could be used to locate Mark Mardon.

Wells is able to use his powers to appear to be in two places at once. This is called an afterimage or speed mirage.

A vortex barrier - a giant wall of wind - could be used to protect against a tsunami by sapping the tidal wave of its energy before it hits the shore.

Dialogue Triumphs

Caitlin: So Clyde Mardon had a brother?
Dr. Wells: And both brothers survived the plane crash, and then the dark matter released from the particle accelerator explosion affects both in virtually the same way.
Barry: Yeah, only Mark's powers seem to be a lot more precise. To be able to control the weather like that, indoors?
Cisco: He'd have to be a... Weather Wizard.  Oooh... been waiting since week one to use that one!

Things between us have gotten a little complicated... again.
Joe: (laughing) You're asking your adopted father for advice about being with love with his daughter, who just so happens to be dating his partner?
Barry: I know... I know!
Joe: Things have gone WAY past complicated.

Barry: Oh. You're the guy who thinks that Harrison Wells is some kind of mad genius?
Mason Bridge: Oh, no, no, no. I never said he was crazy.

Mardon: Guess you'll never know what it really feels like to be God.
Joe: That's what your brother said to me. Right before I killed him.

Cisco: I can help you.
Wells: You're smart, Cisco. But you're not that smart.  Do you know how hard it has been to keep all of this from you? Especially from you?  Because the truth is I've grown quite fond of you. And in many ways you have shown me what it is like to have a son.
(Wells vibrates his hand through Cisco's chest)
Wells: Forgive me, but to me you've been dead for centuries.

Barry: (To Iris) I am so sorry. I didn't want for you to find out this way.
(Barry changes into his costume at super speed, suddenly appearing before Iris as The Flash.)
Barry: Go!


The opening scene with the Mardon Brothers escaping in their plane is a continuation of a scene from The Pilot. We learn later that Mark Mardon was sucked out of the plane and broke nearly every bone in his body. He spent the last year recovering from his injuries.

Barry and Iris both enjoyed bowling as children and still like it today.

Cisco is not close to his family.

Mason Bridge refers to the mysterious disappearance of Simon Stagg in 102. Apparently his body has not been found in the past few months.

We see Captain Singh's fiancee for the first time.

Captain Singh is struck by lightning taking a bolt meant for Joe. The doctors believe he will never walk again and that the attack may have caused neurological damage.

Barry's girlfriend in high-school was named Becky Cooper.  Iris did not like her.

Cisco determines there is no reason for the capacitors from 109 to have failed. He later discovers that they are actually a hologram projector rather than a force-field and that the device plays a pre-recorded message meant to make it look like The Reverse Flash was captured. This explains how The Reverse Flash was able to escape - he was never truly caught in the first place!

Mardon's control of his powers is fine enough that he can generate a tennis-ball-sized piece of hail in seconds and strong enough that he can generate a tsunami.

Harrison Wells reveals his true identity as Eobard Thawne. He refers to Eddie Thawne as "a distant relative" and claims that he meant to kill a young Barry Allen rather than Nora Allen. He also explains that he has been teaching Barry to use his powers as a means to an end that that he has been trapped in this time period for 15 years.  The Flash and his speed are the key to Thawne returning to his world and time.

Barry and Iris kiss for the first time.

Barry reveals his secret identity to Iris.

Barry travels in time for the first time, going back one day, to just before he discovered the dead coroner.  

The Bottom Line

For the first forty-five minutes it seems like this will be just a standard villain-of-the-week story, albeit one with a greater emphasis on the show's continuity. And then everything becomes very intense very quickly with the episode ending with one heck of a cliffhanger. The Flash needed to hit the ground running after a month's hiatus and it did that with style!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Arrow: Season 2.5 #15 - A Review

Oliver's managed to turn the tables on the new Brother Blood, but he isn't out of the woods yet.  It seems that Blood has some powerful friends - including two old enemies The Arrow has fought before! But Oliver has powerful friends too... if you can consider the ex-girlfriend you sent to prison a friend. But The Huntress could be useful in the fight to come. Assuming she doesn't kill anyone...

Marc Guggenheim's story for this series has provided surprise after surprise. This is no small feat given that we Arrow-heads who are actively following the series already know who survives to see Season 3! But just as last issue surprised us with the revelation that the ARGUS-provided back-up Roy recruited was Huntress, so too does this issue surprise us with the return of some of The Arrow's enemies from Season 1 in addition to some fan-favorite comic villains we're seeing in the DCTVU for the first time. The script by Brian Ford Sullivan also features some great dialogue that is evocative of the classic Green Arrow comics of old.

The artwork by Joe Bennett and Craig Yeung proves equally excellent. Bennet's pencils have been somewhat mixed in previous issues but he is firing on all eight cylinders here.  This issue is ultimately one big action sequence and Bennett doesn't miss a step in depicting any of the action. Yeung's inks are perfectly balanced, enhancing the action without being overly dark.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

See Me At All-Con 2015!

This year, I am a Guest of Honor at All-Con 2015 and their first ever Guest Critic!  Here's my schedule of events and panels I'm a part of.


12 PM - Dogwood Room - All About Arrow

A look at the history of Green Arrow and how he made the journal from second-string hero to small-screen star.

3 PM - Pecan Room - Lost In Time: An Introduction to Doctor Who

Curious about Doctor Who but not sure where to start watching?  This is the panel for you.

6 PM - Addison Theater - Off-Target Live!

It's Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the worst comics ever published as a live stage show.


6 PM - Addison Theater - The Art Of Riffing: Sarcasm As An Artform

Three of All-Con's greatest wits explain the history of riffing, with a live demonstration.

7 PM - Pecan Room - Professional Portfolio Reviews

Have your artwork examined by a professional comic critic.

8 PM - Addison Theater - Original Sins: The History of John Constantine

A historical lecture on the story of the comics' world's favorite working-class wizard.

Midnight - Addison Theater - The Art of Riffing - Adults Only, We Really Mean It Edition!

Three of All-Con's greatest wits explain the history of riffing, with a live demonstration and dirty jokes.


1 PM - Pecan Room - Critical Writing: How (Not) To Make Friends And Alienate People.

I offer my wisdom - such as it is - about how to write critical analysis without being killed.

2 PM - Pecan Room - DC Comics Television Multiverse

I head a panel of geeks to discuss all the upcoming TV shows based on DC Comics books.

3 PM - Dogwood Room - Marvel Cinematic Universe - Hail Hydra!
I'm part of a panel of geeks discussing all the upcoming Marvel TV shows and movies.


11 AM - Maple Room - Flash Facts

A quick history lesson on The Fastest Man Alive and his hit TV show.

12 PM - Pecan Room - Q&A With A Critic

I'll answer your questions about comic history and how to write.

Fast Thoughts On "The Progressive Effort To Ban Booth Babes And Sexy Cosplay"

I'm not going to link to the article that inspired this. I refuse to give them any more traffic.  If your Google-Fu is strong, you should be able to find it easily enough.

Suffice it to say, there's a conspiracy theory going around about a progressive women's effort to ban booth babes from major conventions and how this is the opening salvo before banning sexy cosplay and professional cosplayers who sell pin-up style pictures of themselves at conventions.  The evidence that this is happening?  PAX's ban on booth babes!

Personally,  I find it hilarious that Penny Arcade Expo is being accused of "social justice warrioring" given that the con is run by the same people responsible for The Dick Wolves Fiasco. And I also find it hilarious that - based on the comments I've seen on this issue - most of the people in favor of the booth-babe ban are the same people who support Gamergate.  Not the dreaded feminists or comic book girls!

The honest truth is that every time the topic of banning booth babes or sexy cosplay from conventions has come up before, the movement was always driven by conservative elements. From Pat Broderick's claims that "cosplay are just selfies in costume" to Tony Harris' complaints about cosplaying women preying upon innocent young men, women are always blamed for tarting up the noble and innocent world of comic books.  Never mind that Wizard World sells booth space to strip-clubs...

The sad truth is that sex sells. This is true throughout Western culture and is not limited to the fandom arena. This is why we have cheerleaders at sporting events and why there is a whole sub-category of restaurants devoted toward the female wait-staff wearing very little clothing.

And while I take personal offense to the idea that I can be persuaded to buy anything just by flashing a little cleavage, I refuse to believe that the sudden push to remove booth babes and sexy women from conventions is being driven by angry feminists.  Not when feminist comic writers like Gail Simone and Kelly Sue DeConnick routinely repost cosplay pictures on their Twitter accounts and ask fans to send in pictures of themselves dressed like the characters from their books. Nor when there are companies like Charisma Plus Two, who procure genre-savvy models for those who need one.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Three #24 - A Review

Only a desperate gambit can save both Superman's Regime and Batman's Insurgency from a one-way trip to Hell! But even if they escape with their lives, there's no guarantee they'll remain unscathed. Or that their teams may remain united once the final battle is over.

Brian Buccellato's conclusion to Year Three of Injustice proves satisfying despite lacking the raw power of the endings of Year One and Year Two. Still, it does offer one final surprise in the end along with a mystery that will leave the fans talking for quite some time to come.  All in all it's a good foundation for Year Four.

The artwork for this issue is equally worthy of praise. This series has been blessed with some fine artists but I think Bruno Redondo and Juan Albarran may be my personal favorite art team. There's a firm appeal to Redondo's sense of composure and panel flow and Albarran's finishes prove the perfect enhancement of Redondo's pencils.