Sunday, May 31, 2015

Starman Plays Discworld - A Let's Play Adventure - Part Nine

In which this game finally drives me over the edge... of the world. And our quest for the items that will make us a real hero leads me to solve the two most lengthy (and annoying) puzzles in the game!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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

The battle between Rene Montoya and Superman continues, promising dire consequences for both Superman's Regime and Batman's Resistance. Meanwhile, the gods of Ancient Greece watch the Earth and plot. For the time may be right for the gods of old to return and claim their dominion over the Earth...

Mike S. Miller's artwork for this issue is amazing.  Not only are his action sequences laid out incredibly well but his command of facial expressions is impressive.  The sequence near the end in which Clark and Bruce - not Superman and Batman - face each other seems all the more powerful for the emotion Miller displays so perfectly.

Brian Buccellato's script, too, is worthy of note.  This is an emotional chapter, to put it mildly, yet all of the characters seem true to form despite this being a highly unusual circumstance for all involved. For a brief moment, we see the World's Finest heroes again, as it seems a crack has broken in the wall between them... only for the cement of distrust to plug the hole again.  Powerful stuff!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Arrow: Season 2.5 #20 - A Review

Oliver Queen has recovered the Mirakuru cure but the madman Caleb Green is still at large. Luckily, Green's obsessive need for revenge won't allow him to stay hidden for long. Unluckily, he chooses to reveal himself in the most unexpected way possible - as an old schoolmate pumping Laurel Lance for information on where Oliver is now. Meanwhile, Quentin Lance returns to work only to be surprised by an unexpected bit of good fortune.

This latest issue is lacking in action but Marc Guggenheim creates an interesting narrative in spite of that fact. It's always nice to see Quentin snarking it up. And it's gratifying - given how much of a sideshow her storylines was during Season 3 - to see Laurel being made an active part of the proceedings in this issue. If only she'd been included in things like this on the show, her transformation into Black Canary might not have seemed so forced and rushed.

Speaking of rushed, Joe Bennet's pencils for this issue are not up to his usual standard. There's a clear example of panel recycling at one point and some of his faces seem a bit off.  It's not as bad as some but it's still far below par compared to the work we usually see on this series.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Random Thoughts On Mad Max: Fury Road

It's been a week since Mad Max: Fury Road came out, and I think I can safely assume most of you have seen the movie and that we can now have a discussion about it.  So here are some random thoughts - some serious and others not - that occurred to me during the movie and over the past week.

In case you haven't seen it yet, SPOILERS AHEAD!

1.  There's an academic paper just waiting to be written contrasting this movie with Hell Comes To Frogtown. Both deal with a common theme of women being oppressed though HCTF has more comedic irony. Also, Rowdy Roddy Piper.

2. I love the drum-line vehicle. I want to stat this for Pathfinder and create the most awesome bard ever.

3. I can see why the MRA's hated this movie as it preaches radical feminist ideas like women shouldn't be forced into sexual slavery.

4. More impressively, it depicts the escaping brides taking an active role in their own emancipation rather than waiting for a man to rescue them.

5. For that matter, the movie shows that men are victimized by macho cultures too. Consider Nux and his treatment throughout the movie.

6. For all the talk about how feminist this movie is, I've heard precious little talk about how it also features protagonists with physical disabilities - both Furiosa with her arm and Nux with his anemia.

7. The movie is action-packed but also contains a surprisingly amount of artful symbolism. For instance, do you think it's a coincidence that it is the pregnant bride that gives Max water?  Fertility offering the symbol of life itself?

8. Texans and Californians make a lot of jokes about one another but we are united in one thing - making jokes about how Fury Road resembles our states.

Why Fury Road Is Like California - desert wasteland where everyone is dependent on social welfare.

Why Fury Road Is Like Texas - ruled over by violent fanatics who worship guns and oil.

9. Do you think there's a chance the delays in Fallout 4 have just been an excuse to buy time so they could wait for this to come out and then start adding new features/DLC based on it?

10. For that matter, how long before the modding community creates new material based on this for Fallout New Vegas?

Starman Plays Discworld - A Let's Play Adventure - Part Eight

In which we take to the streets of Ankh-Morpork to learn what makes a hero, though the odds of us succeeding are a million to one.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rick and Morty #2 - A Review

Having been convicted of interfering with the intergalactic stock market (as well as destroying several alternate universes in the process among a host of other charges), Rick and Morty have been condemned to the Clackspire Labyrinth!  Meanwhile, back on Earth, the rest of the Sanchez family is conflicted.... about how to best make use of the space where Morty's room and Rick's lab were. Oh, and Jerry selling out his own son and father-in-law to the time cops. But mostly the space thing.

The script by Zac Gorman perfectly captures the feeling of the show. The humor is as twisted as ever, yet there's a few honestly touching character moments.  Well, as touching as it can get given that Rick seems to be the only member of Morty's family who gives a damn about him on any level. Which says a lot given that Rick is willing to pimp Morty out to save his own ass.

It's a bit hard for me to appraise the artwork of this issue. It somehow seems insulting to say that C.J. Cannon and Marc Ellerby perfectly emulate the look of the show. Then again, given how many adaptation comics fail to do that, perhaps that praise isn't as faint as I fear it is.  The artwork looks good, in any case.

John Cater: Warlord of Mars #6 - A Review

An army of both Tharks and Warhoons stand united against the invading Kahori. But even as the Green Martin hordes lay siege to the city of Helium, John Carter faces his rival Joshua Clark in a duel for the fate of all Mars. Meanwhile, a treacherous scientist with designs on Dejah Thoris plots to flee the city with John Carter's wife as his prize!

The final chapter of Ron Marz's opening arc on this new Warlord of Mars series proves as thrilling as its previous installments. The book is full of action and incredibly well-paced. And Dejah Thoris, despite being a hostage for most of the book, proves to be no damsel in distress who requires rescuing.

Curiously, this final issue was illustrated by a different artist - Roberto Castro.  Castro's style is far rougher and sketchier than the smooth, rounded aesthetic favored by Abhishek Malsuni.  This issue doesn't look bad but it's a jarring change after five months and I must confess a personal preference for Malsuni's artwork.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 23 - Fast Enough

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


"Harrison Wells" has been captured but Eobard Thawne has one ace left up his sleeve. The particle accelerator he built has been reactivated and could be his ticket home with Barry Allen's help. And in exchange for that help Thawne's ready to give Barry Allen what he wants most - a chance to go back in time and stop his mother's murder.  But is Barry ready to let his greatest enemy go in exchange for the life he's always dreamed of?


The Flash: Rebirth (Barry's origin story here and being inspired to heroism by his mother's murder and father's imprisonment), Flashpoint (the idea of Barry Allen creating a parallel universe by stopping his mother's murder) and the comics of Geoff Johns (general tone, the use of time travel and paradoxes and the back story for Cisco Ramon a.k.a. Vibe)


It's impossible to single out any one actor as being particularly good in this episode. The script gives everyone in the cast at least one moment to shine and they are all radiant stars.


The script for this episode is very well crafted, giving all of the core cast at least one great moment or quotable line.

The use of Don't Dream It's Over for Ronnie and Caitlin's wedding is a perfect choice of music.

The special effects in the Speed Force time-travel sequence and the last minute of the episode have reset the bar for what superhero television shows can accomplish.

Flash Facts

The episode's opening "My name is Barry Allen" speech is switched out in this episode, with Grant Gustin delivering the words in a more somber tone and the speech ending with the words "That day is today." instead of "I am The Flash".

Eobard Thawne is disappointed that Barry didn't deliver him Big Belly Burger when he came to visit him in his cell - a reference to a popular fast food franchise in the DC Universe.

Eobard Thawne tells Barry that he was born 136 years in the future.  In the original comics, Eobard Thawne was from the 25th Century - not the 22nd Century.

Eobard Thawne mentions The Speed Force - the extra-dimensional energy field that all speedsters in the DC Universe can tap into to fuel their powers.

Thawne's belief that he can change Barry's past by causing a tragedy is very in-line with the motivations of Hunter Zolomon - the second Reverse Flash.

One possible reason why Thawne lost his connection to The Speed Force after altering the timeline in the hopes that the death of Nora Allen would cause Barry to never become The Flash is the fact that - in some versions of The Flash's story - Barry Allen IS The Speed Force.  If this is the case in the DCTVU, then preventing Barry from becoming The Flash would likewise destroy The Speed Force, logically robbing Thawne of his powers.

Henry tells Barry that he might understand his objections to Barry's trying to change the past if he were a father himself.  In the comics, Barry does indeed become the father of  twin siblings - one boy and one girl - who gain his powers and become known as The Tornado Twins, Don and Dawn Allen.

Stein says that when Barry collides with the hydrogen proton he plans to shout something like "Eureka!" or "Excelsior!"  Eureka is Ancient Greek for "I have found it" and was reportedly shouted by Archimedes upon his discovery of a method to accurately measure the volume of an irregular solid. Excelsior is a Latin word meaning "ever upward" and is also the trademark catch-phrase of legendary comic writer Stan Lee.

Cisco calls the time machine that Eobard Thawne was constructing a Time Sphere. The reason Thawne smiles at this is because that is the actual name of the ship in question.  The Time Sphere is the name of the vehicle used by the time-traveling hero Rip Hunter in the comics. Thawne later refers to Rip Hunter as the inventor of The Time Sphere and notes that he was "an interesting man".

Thawne explains that the reason why Cisco is able to remember his death in an altered timeline is due to his having been given powers in the particle accelerator explosion that allow him to "see through the vibrations of the universe". In The New 52 universe, Cisco Ramon developed the power to emit sonic vibrations as well as some extra-sensory powers after a similar accident involving the destruction of advanced technology.

Cisco quotes Douglas Adams, saying "So long and thanks for all the fish" in response to the revelation that they could potentially destroy the world using the particle accelerator.  These were the last words the dolphins communicated to humanity before leaving the Earth just before it was blown up in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

Another nod to the number 52 - according to Thawne's calculations, Barry will only have 1 minute and 52 seconds to save his mother before the wormhole closes.

Eddie says that he canceled a date with a dancer named Katie Rogers on the night that he first met Iris West, stopping the purse snatcher who had grabbed her backpack.  Katie Rogers was also the name of the heroine of a 2009 graphic novel - The Trouble With Katie Rogers - published by Ape Entertainment.

The song playing at Caitlin and Ronnie's wedding is Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House. The song is about two people coming together and believing in their love, despite circumstances contriving to separate them.

Barry has a number of visions of both the past and the future as he enters into The Speed Force. Among these are images of a bronze statue of himself.  This is a reference to The Flash Museum, which had such a statue in front of it.  The Flash Museum, as its name implies, was a museum devoted towards the life of The Flash, his enemies and his allies.

Barry also has a vision of a pale-skinned, blonde-haired woman with ice powers. It appears to be Caitlin Snow, having assumed the identity of Killer Frost - the heat-draining super-villain who shares her name in the comics.

Right before he sees the night his mother died, Barry sees himself, The Atom, Sara Lance and Captain Cold facing off against a giant robot foot.  This scene is taken from preview footage from the trailer for the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow TV series.

A metal petasos-style helmet with wings on the sides flies out of the wormhole, which Thawne takes as a sign that he should go. This might be because said hat is part of the uniform of Jay Garrick - The Flash of Earth 2 in the pre-Crisis DC Comics Universe.

A number of bystanders are seen watching the singularity start to devour Central City.  Among them are Len Snart, Captain Singh, Henry Allen and a young woman named Kendra Saunders, whom we know will become Hawkgirl in the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow show.


Thawne says he needs Barry to rupture the space-time barrier and create a stable wormhole which he can use to return to his home time.

Professor Stein notes that Thawne's actions have already changed the past, creating the parallel universe in which The Flash TV show takes place.

Thawne's plan is for Barry to collide with a hydrogen proton moving at the speed of light in STAR Labs' particle accelerator. This will punch a hole in reality and create a portal connecting their time with infinite times - a wormhole through which one could travel backwards to the night Nora Allen died or forward in time to Eobard Thawne's time.  This requires Barry to run fast enough to trigger the reaction - too slow will crush him like a bug splatting against a windshield.

Professor Stein says that Barry will have to move at Mach 2 in order to time travel using the particle accelerator. Mach 2 is 1,522.4141 mph.

Ronnie notes that the tiles Wells set aside for building a time machine are made of tungsten.  Cisco notes that tungsten does have the highest melting point of any element. Unfortunately, tungsten dust is flammable, meaning that the pressure of the wormhole could cause a hole to be melted into the exterior of the time machine's casing and trigger an explosion due to temporal shearing.

Cisco theorizes that Thawne fits his costume inside of his ring using compressed micro-tech.

Thawne says that a cobalt resin being used to cement the tungsten tiles will prevent degradation in conditions of extreme heat.

Thawne says that Cisco was altered by the particle accelerator explosion and is able to see through the vibrations of the universe. This is why Cisco is able to retain traces of another timeline in his memory.

Stein notes that even if Barry can hit the hydrogen particle at the right speed, the resulting wormhole could collapse into a singularity - i.e. a black hole.  This would be a global catastrophe.

When Barry and Joe have their second talk about whether or not Barry should attempt to change the past, Barry sits on "the cosmic treadmill".  In the comics, The Cosmic Treadmill was the device that allowed Barry Allen to time-travel.

According to Thawne's calculations, Barry will have 1 minute and 52 seconds to save his mother and return home once the wormhole stabilizes.

Though it isn't named as such, Eddie's method of killing Eobard is a classic example of The Grandfather Paradox - a classic physics problem which states that a time traveler could not go back in time and kill their own grandfather.  The act of killing their grandfather would cause them not to exist, which therefore means they could never go back in time to kill their grandfather in the first place. The paradox would not, however, appear to stop a man from acting on future knowledge to prevent his future ancestors from being born.

Stein notes that the accretion disc has already assembled once they get outside the STAR Labs building. The accretion disc the fused material that forms an orbital motion around a singularity. It has an energy level of at least 6.7 tera-electronvolts.

Dialogue Triumphs

My name is Barry Allen and I'm the fastest man alive. When I was a child, I saw my mother killed by something impossible. My father went to prison for her murder. Then an accident made me the impossible. To the outside world, I'm am an ordinary forensic scientist, but secretly I use my speed to fight crime and find others like me. And one day I'll find who killed my mother and get justice for my father. That day is today.

Barry: Why were we enemies?
Eobard: It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter anymore. What matters is that neither of us was strong enough to defeat the other. Until I learned your secret. I learned your name. Barry. Allen. And finally I knew how to defeat you once and for all. Travel back in time. Kill you as a child. Wipe you from the face of the Earth!  But then you - future you, that is - followed me back and we fought. We both landed some pretty solid shots. And then you - future you - got your younger self out of there. I was so mad!  And then I thought, "what if you were to suffer a tragedy?" What if you were to suffer something horrible, so traumatic that your child self could never recover? Then you would not become The Flash.  And so I stabbed your mother in the heart. And I was free. Finally able to return to a future without The Flash. Only to realize that in traveling back, I lost my way home. Lost my ability to harness The Speed Force and without it I was stuck here. Stranded in this time. Unable to return to my home. And the only way back was The Flash. But The Flash was gone. And so, I created him.

Barry: I can save Mom.
Henry: At what cost?

Ronnie: (To Caitlin) I realized that although sometimes I'm more than one man, I'm not whole unless I'm with you.

Barry: What do you think I should do?  I need someone to tell me.
Iris: I think - that for once your life, Barry Allen, you should stop thinking about other people. I think you should do what's in your heart. Do what you need to for yourself.

Cisco: It was an alternate timeline. One that Barry reset. But I never forgot it. It just kept coming back to me. And I can still picture the way you looked at me when you called me a son. And you crushed my heart with your fist.
Eobard: Cisco... I'm sorry.
Cisco: Yeah. It sucked.
Eobard: Oh, not for killing you. I'm sure I had a good reason. I'm sorry for the fact that you were able to retain traces of another timeline. You're able to see through the vibrations of the universe.

Eddie: Dr. Wells made it pretty clear when he told me about the future. I don't matter. As far as history is concerned I don't save the day or get the girl.
Martin: And... you believed him?
Eddie: He had a newspaper from the year 2024.
Martin: And I have a mug that says "World's Best Boss". I doubt my teaching assistant would testify to its authenticity.

Barry: You know, I've dreamed my whole life about saving her. Freeing my dad. I never thought I'd have to lose another parent to do that.
Joe: Barry...
Barry: Joe, it's true... it's true. I've always been so focused on everything that I lost that night. But I've gained so much too. I was born with one father and that tragedy gave me another. And I don't think I can lose you.
Joe: You won't ever lose me. Ever, do you hear me?  Ever.

Eddie: We've all been so focused on Barry's destiny, I forgot I have one too. And it's you. Iris West. Every moment of my life led to meeting you. Screw the future.
Iris: (laughs) Screw the future.

Ronnie: Is this actually binding?
Martin: My father made me become a rabbi before he would send me to M.I.T. This will be "legit", as the kids say.
Ronnie: No kids say that.
Martin: Let's not fight on our wedding day.

Ronnie: I owe you a real ring.
Caitlin: I don't need one. I have everything and everyone that I could ever need right here. If all the events of the past year have led us to this moment, it was worth it. I love you, Ronnie.
Martin: I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.
Ronnie: Stop telling me what to do. (kisses Caitlin)

May the Speed Force be with you.

Barry: Goodbye, Dad.
(They hug)
Joe: Goodbye, Son.

Eobard: Barry, what you're seeing is The Speed Force. Your past. Your present. Your future. All at once. So you need to focus on where you want to go. So think about that night.  Think about your mother...

Eddie: He was wrong, it turns out. I'm a hero after all.
Iris: You are, Eddie!  You are! You are my hero.
Eddie: That's all I ever wanted to be.  Your hero...

Martin: Barry, that event has an energy level of 6.7 tera-electronvolts! It cannot be stopped!
Barry: I have to try.


Eobard Thawne claims that cows are extinct in his time.

Eobard Thawne claims to have been born in the year 2151 - 136 years in the future.

Thawne reveals that he remembers an entirely different past with Barry Allen and that he originally came back in time to kill Barry, but then killed Nora Allen in the hopes that the tragedy would stop Barry Allen from becoming The Flash. He was right, but he was depowered in the process and thus forced to recreate the events that turned Barry Allen into The Flash.

Barry refers to how he altered time after going back one day in 116.

Iris refers to the original name given to Barry - The Streak - which was last mentioned in 105.

Caitlin says that Barry has never gone as fast as Mach 2 before.

Cisco's theory from 122, that Wells was using the device in his wheelchair to power his super-speed is confirmed.

Cisco tells Eobard Thawne about his visions of having been killed by him in the alternate timeline from 115.  Thawne, in turn, tells him that the particle accelerator explosion gave him powers and that a great and honorable destiny awaits him.

Eddie refers to the conversation he and Eobard had about the future in 121.

Eddie's favorite food is the dim sum at Mama Chows.

Eddie refers to how he first met Iris, stopping the mugger who stole her backpack in 101.

Martin Stein is a Rabbi and apparently legally qualified to perform weddings in whatever state Central City is located in.

Caitlin and Ronnie are legally married on the lawn of STAR Labs, with Martin conducting the ceremony. Joe, Eddie, Barry, Iris and Cisco attend the wedding, with Cisco acting as the ring bearer and Iris as the maid of honor.

There are three versions of Barry Allen at the scene of Nora Allen's murder as of this episode - a future version of Barry, the ten-year-old Barry and the 25-year-old Barry of "now".

Eobard Thawne says "Now run, Barry, run!" as Barry begins his run to the past, in the same manner in which he said those same lines when Barry Allen tried to reverse a tornado in 101.  These were also the words Henry Allen said to a young Barry on the night Nora Allen died.

The visions that Barry has while in The Speed Force show him a young Iris and Joe shortly after his mother's death, Caitlin Snow as Killer Frost, The Flash Museum, Barry in prison and an image of The Atom, Sara Lance, Captain Cold and himself facing a giant robot foot stomping down at them before he sees the night Nora Allen died.

The future Barry raises a hand and shakes his head at the present Barry, indicating that he shouldn't save Nora's life.  Barry decides to obey and hides until The Reverse Flash leaves. He does, however, ensure that his mother does not die alone and reveals his identity to her.

Eobard Thawne identifies Rip Hunter as the inventor of the first Time Sphere and says that he was "an interesting man".

A metal petasos-style helmet flies out of the wormhole, which Thawne takes as a sign that he should go - a possible reference to The Flash of Earth 2, Jay Garrick.

Eddie Thawne shoots himself in the chest, killing himself - an action that causes Eobard Thawne to fade out of existence. His body is later dragged into the re-opened wormhole that forms above STAR Labs after Eobard Thawne is erased from existence.

Untelevised Adventures

Eobard Thawne refers to several future battles with Barry Allen and how the timeline we've come to know over the past season was the result of his killing Nora Allen.

The Bottom Line

Flawless, save that the uncertainty of the cliff-hanger ending is annoying when we're looking at a four month gap before Season 2 starts.

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

Injustice: Year Four #3 is a difficult issue to describe without merely listing things that happened. The meat of this issue, as with most of the past issues of Injustice, lies in the dialogue and the relationships between the characters.  Perhaps the best example of this lies in Superman's homecoming, where he learns the truth of the old saying that you can't go home again.

It is to Brian Buccellato's credit that he can still surprise the readers. Given that those who have played the Injustice video game already know the rough shape of How It All Will End, it's amazing that there are so many mysteries still waiting to be revealed. I have no idea where the subplot with Harley kidnapping Billy Batson is going but I'm loving every moment of it, in part because of that element of unpredictability.

Mike S. Miller's artwork continues to impress me with every passing week.. I love the simple clarity of his designs and his knack for creative facial expressions. The colors by J. Nanjan are particularly well chosen. And Wes Abbott's lettering is some of the best in the business.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Flash: Season Zero #19 - A Review

This issue of The Flash: Season Zero is unlike any we've seen before for a number of reasons. For one thing, this issue was written by creator Phil Hester, who had previously done the pencils for most of the series. Another difference is that this issue seems more like a work of hard science-fiction rather than the science-fantasy tales we usually see in The Flash.  Finally, this issue is less of an action piece centered around Barry Allen and more of a character piece about Caitlin Snow.

The plot reveals that before she went to work for STAR Labs, Caitlin was involved in a Department of Defense project that sent an astronaut wired to various censors into space, where he was abandoned long past his due date to come home.  One dose of dark matter later and the so-called Dark Star slowly achieved sentience, though the man who made up its core remembered little of his past life, save the pretty face that assured him he would wake up from a short nap to see her again.

The tale is a thrilling one and suites Hester's style as an artist well. And the story does a lot to develop Caitlin as a character, beyond being the uptight doctor who is still getting over her dead/absent fiance. The flow is a little confusing at first, as we cut between flash-backs, flash-fowards and the action as it is happening now with only subtle changes in the coloration by Nick Filardi indicating which scenes are which.  Thankfully, this confusion is temporary and the story is even more enjoyable after a second reading.

Convergence: Green Arrow #2 - A Review

To say that Oliver Queen wasn't prepared to meet the son he never knew he had would be an understatement. And he really wasn't expecting to meet an older version Dinah Lance from another timeline and her daughter when he and Connor Hawke were suddenly transported to an abandoned Metropolis. But this odd family reunion must be put on hold as one truth becomes clear - father and son must battle mother and daughter for their fate of their respective worlds.

Christy Marx wrote a wonderful script for the second half of this special. The fight between both pairs of heroes is a satisfying bit of action, but what really sells this story is the character work. All of our heroes are portrayed as being intelligent and competent, with Marx perfectly capturing both Ollie and Dinah as experienced strategists who know how to play off of one another's weaknesses. This is incredibly welcome given how often they're both portrayed as hot-headed idiots who can't plan their way out of a paper bag. And I really like Marx's take on Olivia "Black Canary III" Queen, who gets more characterization and personality here than she ever did in the Kingdom Come tie-ins.

I've been a big fan of Rags Morales since his work on Geoff Johns' Hawkman and the work we see here adheres to his usual high standard.  Hopefully we'll see him on another monthly title soon enough. Claude St. Aubin and Nei Ruffino also do a fine job in finishing up the artwork for this issue.

Howard The Duck #3 - A Review

The good news is that Howard The Duck - Private Eye - was able to safely return to Earth with the stolen necklace he was hired to recover, after an unexpected journey into deep space. The bad news is that just after getting back, he was mugged by an old lady.  But not just any old lady!  He was mugged by Peter Parker's saintly Aunt May!

Not that Howard knows this or would care even if he did. All he wants is the necklace back! But in his efforts to track the sinister senior citizen down, Howard will uncover a dastardly plot that will prove a thankful distraction from the most humiliating stakeout ever.

Chip Zdarsky continues to roll out the funny. The main story is a laugh-riot and I refuse to reveal the hilarious truth behind how Aunt May become one of NYC's Ten Most Wanted. Nor shall I spoil the hilarity of the back-up tale, in which Howard is hired to find the missing and presumed dead Wolverine by a Wolverine cosplayer whose business is rather dependent on the hairy Canadian being alive and well. Just know that of you like to laugh, you will love this book.

The artwork for this book is just as good as the writing.  Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera and Rico Renzi continue to be a terrific trio on the main story. And Jason Lafour proves to be their equal in his work on the back-up tale.

Starman Plays Discworld - A Let's Play Adventure - Part Seven

In which we finally enter into The Shades, prove that we are a real man and temporarily (or is that temporally?) break reality.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #10 - A Review

Fresh from their latest adventure, The Doctor and Gabby Gonzales have returned to her home for a quick check-in with her friends and family. But peaceful homecomings never seem to be possible when The Doctor makes a house call and this trip is no exception. Mysterious bands of noise pollution seem to be traveling around New York City and what they signify could pose a threat to the entire Earth!

This issue brings us a new artist - Eleonora Carlini - who proves to be another fine creator in the line of great artists this book has possessed. Carlini's style is more streamlined than what we've seen in the past, but this proves to be a benefit given how very busy some panels become due to the sentient noise that is assailing New York City in the form of large letters. The inks are light, giving this book a brilliance that is enhanced by the colors of Hi-Fi.

Good introductory one-shot stories seem to be an increasingly rare thing in modern comics.  Too many comics are written as part of a larger epic and it's rare to have a single issue of a monthly series that can be handed to a potential new reader as a complete, one-shot tale that tells you everything you need to know.  This issue is one such comic and Robbie Morrison is to be commended for having written it.

Bottom Line: If you haven't ever read a Doctor Who comic before, this is a good one to start with!

Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle #2 - A Review

Tonight was supposed to be the night that Dick Grayson finally proposed to the girl of his dreams - Barbara Gordon.  Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned, starting with Babs trying to turn him down gently. And then the dome that contained their city opened and they found that they had to fight the blood-thirsty Hawkman and Hawkgirl of another timeline to save their own. So before they can discuss their plans for the future, Nightwing and Oracle will have to ensure that they'll have one!

The artwork for this issue is some of the best I've seen in recent memory.  Jan Duursema is a masterful fight choreographer and the action of this issue is well blocked.  The inks of Dan Parson perfectly enhance the original art. And Wes Dzioba's colors are wonderfully applied.

Who else but Gail Simone could have written this story? It's an amazing tale, not the least of which for how we get to see how dangerous Barbara is as a strategist and as a warrior in hand to hand combat.  It's a wonderful send-off for Simone's version of Oracle from her much-loved Birds of Prey run and proves to be the happy ending Babs and Dick Grayson deserved to have somewhere or somewhen.

Mad Max: Fury Road - A Spoiler-Free Review

Mad Max: Fury Road is a collection of paradoxes. It is both an action flick and an artsy film. It is both a testosterone-fest and a celebration of feminist ideals. It is gloriously over-the-top while simultaneously subtle.

But what it is above all else is a damn good way to spend two hours of your life.

No previous familiarity with George Miller's other Mad Max films is required.  Everything you need to know about Max as a character is explained within a few minutes before moving on to the plot.  I shan't say any more about the story beyond that.

I'll write a more in-depth review for those of you who'd like to talk philosophy later this week.  For now, I think it is enough to say that I liked this movie and I think everyone should see it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5 - A Review

Getting taken hostage by super-villains is a frequent problem for New Yorkers in the Marvel Universe.  So what's a civilian to do with all that down time?  Why, tell stories about the heroes who are surely on their way to rescue you, of course!  Thus does Doreen Green's roommate Nancy find herself hearing stories about Squirrel Girl that might be true on some alternate Earth but bear no resemblance to the Squirrel Girl she knows and loves.  Well, hardly any!

Erica Henderson deserves an award for her work on this issue.  She doesn't alter her usual style, nor does she go out of her way to ape the look of other artists' work. Yet all of the stories in this volume can be aesthetically compared to various classic comics of the 1960s and 1980s thanks to some clever homages.

Ryan North also deserves praise for his clever and funny script. The stories in this issue pay homage to the Marvel Comics of yesteryear even as they poke fun of them in a good-natured way. The whole issue is truly hilarious!

Descender #3 - A Review

Robotic youth companion TIM-21 has been left badly damaged by the attacks of the scrapper team that detected his illegal reactivation. Fortunately a United Galactic Council science team, including his creator Doctor Quon, is on their way to save him. But what will they make of the revelation that the robot boy has begun to dream dark visions of the deadly Harvester robots that lay waste to the UGC home worlds, when everyone knows that androids do not dream - of electric sheep or otherwise?

I commented before that Jeff Lemire's story for Descender borrowed heavily from a number of classic science-fiction stories and tropes.  This issue brings forth a twist that owes a clear debt to the works of Philip K. Dick.  Despite the homage being apparent, the tale Lemire tells here is wholly original while seeming wonderfully familiar.

Dustin Nguyen's artwork is as original and compelling as Lemire's story. Nguyen's aesthetic is oddly minimalist and sketchy while simultaneously possessing subtle detailing.The final product is a perfect fusion of art and writing and I would highly recommend this series to anyone who is not already reading it.

Ant-Man #5 - A Review

With the life of his daughter in the balance and the first villain he ever fought resurrected using her heart, Scott Lang is having a bad day.  Actually, "bad day" is putting it lightly. Particularly since his back-up (i.e. his ex-supervillain employees) decided to knock-off work early...

I've praised Nick Spencer for his use of humor in this series several times in recent reviews.  This month I must praise his sense of dramatic pacing. Not that this script is lacking in humor - it isn't!  But this action-packed issue proves that Spencer is not just a good comedy writer - he's a good writer.

The artwork is equally amazing all around. Ramon Rosanas is a fine artist, capable of portraying the wide variety of unusual sights that this series reqires, up to and including a battle against giant white blood cells inside a teenage girl's blood stream. And Jordan Boyd's colors are equally vivid and powerful.

Swords of Sorrow #1 - A Review

A war is coming. A war was fought. A war occurs even now.

Two forces fight.  On one side is The Traveller, who exists everywhere and everywhen.  On the other side is The Prince - a being of nowhere and nowhen - who has a seething hatred of all women, particularly The Traveller! Yet he has made an army of women his pawns in the battle to come, as The Traveller has drawn upon the whole of time and space to bring together women who are not just warriors and legends - they are leaders of their own destinies!

The cynical may think that Swords of Sorrow is little more than an artful excuse for selling a lot of comics with alternate covers of beautiful women in skimpy costumes. And under a lesser writer it might well have been little more than that. But with Gail Simone at the helm, this issue proves to be an engaging look at the many amazing women of Dynamite Entertainment's pulp line. Unfortunately, we don't get to see all of the heroines in action - there's barely enough time to introduce all the players!  Still, this first issue does a fine job of setting the stage for the battles to come in this core series and the tie-in mini-series.

Sergio Davila proves more than capable of depicting the variety of locales that Simone's script demands and the colors by Jorge Sutil are applied with equal skill. From dinosaur-dominated islands to the dark alleys of a modern city, everything looks amazing! And despite the costumes of some of our heroines, there is no hint of exploitation or gratuitous cheesecake in any of the book's interior artwork.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hey Kids, Comics! #135 - More on Moore: I am Legend

The Jedi Cole Houston and Andrew Farmer of Hey Kids Comics! invited me onto their podcast, in
my capacity as a comic historian and the World's Finest Alan Moore cosplayer to discuss Alan Moore's influence on the comic industry and the many legendary stories about the man himself, including how he met John Constantine.

Please enjoy Episode #135 - More On Moore - I Am Legend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 23 - My Name Is Oliver Queen

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


As the rest of Team Arrow escapes Nanda Parbat (with an assist from The Flash), Oliver Queen plays his final hand against Ra's Al Ghul. But Ra's escapes from the deathtrap Oliver had planned to end both his and Ra's lives. Now, with the trust of his allies broken and a deadly plague threatening Starling City, Oliver Queen must once again become someone else...


The Batman
and Green Arrow comics of Dennis O'Neil, The Fall of Green Arrow by J.T. Krul (Oliver Queen manages to drive off most of his allies in an effort to stop a villain from destroying his city), Green Arrow: Where Angels Fear To Tread by Chuck Dixon (Oliver winds up in a situation where his death in an exploding plane trying to stop a virus from being released seems certain), Watchmen (Ra's line about releasing the virus ten minutes earlier) and Batman: Contagion (Ra's Al Ghul seeks to destroy a whole city with a plague).


Willa Holland's blocking during the scene where Thea and Diggle are trying to get people away from the contaminated corpse is awkward, as if she wasn't given any more direction than "keep turning around".

How did the police chief of Starling City find out the people responsible for the bio-weapon attack were fighting on top of the city dam?  And why was Quentin Lance called out to where the snipers were setting up in the first place?


David Ramsey gets more action scenes in this episode than I think he may have gotten in the rest of the season leading up to this point combined. It's always good to see Ramsey in action but he truly sells Diggle's feelings of betrayal throughout the episode.

Paul Blackthorne doesn't have much to do in this episode but it is nice to see Quentin calling Laurel on her bullshit when she gets outraged over his drinking again and lying to her about it.

Emily Bett Rickards has had a lot of tearful monologues over the last half of Season Three and has gotten a lot of flack for it by anti-Olicity fans of the show.  This episode, however, shows that she can handle a speech that requires steel instead of tears and her delivery when Felicity tells Oliver that he can't kill Ra's as Oliver Queen or Al-Sah-him is one of her finest moments on the show.


The fight between Oliver and Nyssa vs. Ra's and the Assassins on the cargo plane is very well shot and choreographed.

The final sword fight between Ra's and Ollie is a thing of beauty as far as sword fights go.  The scene is well-blocked and the music is perfect.


Rather than starting with the usual "My name is Oliver Queen" speech, this episode opens with a montage showing the key events of Season 3 leading up to last week's cliffhanger.

Oliver's plan to kill himself in a plain crash to prevent a virus from being released over a big city is a nod to the plot of  Where Angels Fear To Tread - a storyline that ran through Green Arrow #97-101.  At the end of that storyline, Oliver Queen did sacrifice his life by destroying a plane carrying a lethal virus over the city of Metropolis.

Reference is made to a traffic light outage at the corner of O'Neil and Adams.  This is a nod to writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams, whose run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow redefined the character of Oliver Queen.

Another reference is made to an electrical spike at 52nd and Robson.  This is a reference to the significance of the number 52 and DC Comics and Robson Square - the shooting location in Vancouver of Arrow's street scenes.

Ra's line about releasing the virus ten minutes before he called Oliver is similar to a line from Watchmen - “Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago.”

Captain Lance makes mention of the files for an Andrekyo case. This is likely a nod to writer Marc Andrekyo, who wrote the comic Manhunter about a D.A. turned vigilante - not unlike Laurel Lance.

Felicity quotes the opening monologue of the show, when she tells Oliver that he has become someone else... something else.

Thea dons the Arsenal costume and later says she's thinking of taking the name Red Arrow, but Ollie jokes that he already told everyone to call her Speedy.  Speedy, of course, was the first alias used by Roy Harper in the comics and he alter took the name Red Arrow when he was invited to join The Justice League.  In the comics, Mia Dearden - a homeless teen whom Ollie took in, whom inspired much of the character of Thea Queen on Arrow - became the second Speedy.

The boat that Ollie gets on at the end of the Five Years Ago flashback is based in Coast City.  This is the home town of Hal Jordan - Green Lantern - in the comics.

At the end of the episode, Ray attempts to use his nanotech to enable The ATOM suit to shrink. This is, of course, the main super power of The Atom in the comics.


Merlyn used a synthetic skin graft to cutaneously vaccinate John, Felicity, Laurel and Ray with the vaccine from the Alpha/Omega bioweapon. An unnamed associate was able to synthesize the vaccine from a sample of Oliver's blood.

The Alpha/Omega bio-weapon gives off a low-level emission from its RNA, almost like radiation.

Ray notes that if they can hack the keyhole hexagon satellite, they can tune the quadband to search for it.  

The Alpha/Omega virus spreads when infected blood is exposed to open air.

Ray is able to spread the Alpha/Omega inoculate over a three block radius by programming his nanotech to take the vaccine and make it airborne.

Ray theorizes that his nanotech could be applied to miniaturize key components of his ATOM suit.

Dialogue Triumphs

You were asleep.
Ollie: I was dreaming.
Ra's: Ibn Sirin once wrote there are three types of dreams. There are ones about truth. There are ones about desire. And there are ones about temptation. What did you dream of?
Ollie: Rebirth. As Ra's Al Ghul.

Merlyn: I saved your lives. I believe the words you're searching for are 'thank' and 'you'.

The Flash: (looking at The Lazarus Pit) You guys have a hot tub? Nice!

Felicity: Barry!
The Flash: (wincing) Thank you, Felicity!  You just outed my secret identity to a super villain (looks to Merlyn) No offense.
Merlyn: None taken. Now get us out of here?!

Ra's: You were delivered by the prophecy! You wed my daughter! Your name is Al Sah-him! And you are Wahreeth Al Ghul!
Ollie: (draws sword) My name is Oliver Queen!

General Shrieve: My people will be looking for me. It's just a matter of time before they find me.
(Oliver says nothing, drawing an arrow from his quiver)
General Shrieve: Do it!
Ollie: Do you remember Amanda Waller, hmmm? She's the reason that I'm in Hong Kong. She thought I had a special talent. She taught me things.  Let me show you.

Captain Lance: The city's under attack? Must be May!

If you want to drink, then drink. But don't just stand there and lie to me, right to my face!
Captain Lance: Doesn't feel good, does it?

Maseo: I am without a soul, Tatsu.
Tatsu: Only if you abandon your wife when she needs you the most.
Maseo: Every time I look in your eyes... I see my son's. I see my failure.
Tatsu: I love you.
Maseo: I am not worthy of that love.

Oliver: Felicity... I can't defeat Ra's Al Ghul!
Felicity: Oliver Queen can't.  The Arrow can't. Both those men tried and both those men failed. You remember what you said during our night together in Nanda Parbat? You're no longer either of those men. You've become... someone else. Become something else. (Felicity places her hand over Ollie's heart) This... is different not.  Because despite your best effort, you've allowed yourself to feel something. I know you think that's a weakness. It's not. It's your key to beating Ra's. Don't fight to die. Fight to live.

Ra's: Unlike you, thousands of honorable men will mourn my death when I leave this Earth.
Ollie: No.
(Ollie blocks Ra's sword strike, and grabs the sword, spinning around, slashing Ra's with his own weapon before plunging the sword through his chest)
Ollie: They will kneel before the next Ra's Al Ghul.

(After saving Ollie from falling to his death while wearing the ATOM armor)
Felicity: If I could figure out how to get this thing off, I wold be kissing you right now.

Ollie: As we agreed.
(Oliver shakes hands with Merlyn, but passes him the ring of Ra's Al Ghul as he does so)
Merlyn: We've come a long way, you and I. I've always looked at you as a son, Oliver. And I'm glad we got to work together. To trust as we did.
Ollie: (leaning in) I will never forgive you for what you did to Sara and my sister. Ever.
Merlyn: Does that mean we're enemies once more?
Ollie: That depends on what you do with your end of the bargain.


The golden claw ring that Ra's wears is the symbol of his office among The League of Assassins.

Barry Allen springs Team Arrow from the dungeons of Nanda Parbat in order to repay the favor he owed Ollie from F122 when Ollie helped Barry to fight The Reverse Flash.

Tatsu returns to her life of solitude once she is free of Nanda Parbat.

Oliver knows how to fly a cargo plane.

Five years ago, Akio was cremated and his ashed put into three urns. Tatsu gave one of the urns to Oliver, despite his objections to taking one. The other two were kept by Tatsu and Maseo.

Oliver spends the better part of a day torturing General Shrieve. This marks the first time Oliver speaks of someone failing their city and delivering justice.

Maseo kills General Shrieve.

Ra's sworn enemy Damien Darkh - mentioned in 321 -  is said to be staying in Starling City, but it turns out to be a false lead.

Felicity refers to her vow never to make Oliver coffee at work (201) and the one night she and Ollie spent together in 320.

Oliver wields the same sword that Ra's used to run him through in 309.

Thea makes her first public appearance in costume, though her code name is still undetermined.

Ra's uses his own men to disperse the virus.

Merlyn also gave Thea the vaccine for the Alpha/Omega virus.

Laurel is now capable of taking on a single Assassin in one-on-one combat.

Oliver recites a Muslim prayer in Arabic as Ra's dies. -  "Forgive and have mercy on him. Protect him from the punishment of the grave and the torment of the Fire."

Nyssa notes that only the fact that Oliver was wearing League of Assassins' armor saved him from the police sniper's bullets.

Five years earlier, Tatsu goes to Kumamoto and a monastery she had always hoped to show her son. Oliver decides to avoid returning to Starling City and hops on a ship called Triton's Daughter, which cites Coast City as its home port.

Tatsu knew about Robert Queen's message to Oliver, telling him to save their city.

As the episode ends, Oliver has retired from superheroics and gone off with Felicity to try and figure out who the new person he's become is.

Felicity has resigned her job with Palmer Technologies.

John Diggle's future as a member of Team Arrow is uncertain, though he does promise to think on continuing to protect Starling City and doing something to conceal his identity if he does so.

Thea is committed to protecting Starling City, though she has yet to pick a name. She is leaning toward Red Arrow but Ollie told everyone to call her Speedy.

Presumably Laurel plans to continue on as Assistant D.A. by day and Black Canary by night.

Ray attempts to program his nanotech to make his ATOM suit shrink. This results in an explosion of blue energy that destroys most of the top floors of the Palmer technologies building.

Merlyn is the new leader of the League of Assassins.  Nyssa is content to serve under him, for now, but she has sworn revenge for his role in Sara Lance's death.


Nanda Parbat

The Bottom Line

A much stronger conclusion than I expected, given how uneven various aspects of Season Three have been. The season ends with surprisingly little in the way of significant cliff-hangers, with Ray's apparent death by explosion being the only real moment of suspense. Everything else hinges on what Thea will call herself as she becomes a vigilante, whether or not Diggle will continue to protect Starling City and what, if anything, Merlyn will be up to in Season 4.

As usual, Laurel's subplot seem tacked on and her contributions to the action are meager at best. It's telling that more time is spent establishing a status quo for Nyssa Al Ghul than there is for Laurel or Quentin in the show's final ten minutes and one wishes they'd move The Lance family to Central City, where both characters had their best moments of the year doing a guest spot on The Flash.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 22 - Rogue Air

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


With the man he knows as Harrison Wells on the loose, Barry Allen will need help in stopping The Reverse Flash. But first, he'll need to evacuate all the metahumans being held in The Pipeline before Wells reactivates the STAR Labs particle accelerator.  With the aid of the police denied Joe West and all of Barry's heroic allies AWOL, Barry will turn to the most unlikely of allies - Captain Cold!


Con-Air (the central plot involves a transport of dangerous criminals that goes amiss), numerous The Flash story-lines where The Flash and Captain Cold worked together to stop a bigger threat and The Brave And The Bold comics of The Silver Age (Arrow, Firestorm and The Flash team to fight The Reverse Flash).


Given the problems they've had whenever one of them is left alone, leaving Caitlin in the lab alone while everyone else goes to find Wells in The Pipeline seems incredibly stupid and the only reason it seems to happen is to give Iris a chance to prove herself saving Caitlin from Peek-A-Boo later.

Ollie's presence in this episode doesn't seem to make any sense relative to the timeline in his own series.  How was able to escape from The League of Assassins just long enough to pick up some naninte-infused, speedster-neutralizing arrows from Ray Palmer and then make his way to Central City just long enough to help Barry out when he's been tightly held in Nanda Parbat for just over a month, making only one trip to the USA in that time?

For that matter, how long has Ray Palmer been working on speedster-neutralizing nanites?


Once again, Wentworth Miller steals the show as Captain Cold.

Peyton List, not to be outdone, plays the femme fatale expertly in playing with Cisco's emotions. She's almost certainly messing with him just to mess with him.  And yet, one can't help but wonder, as Cisco does, if maybe she's not totally messing with him?


The opening scene, with The Reverse Flash's narration as we pan across the rest of the core cast is an effective opening. The images of Caitlin and Barry looking at photos of their lost loved ones as Eobard Thawne speaks of losing everything in a flash are particular effective.

The fight scenes in this episode - both the battle between with the escaping metahumans and the battle against The Reverse Flash at the end - and the special effects used during those fight scenes sets a new standard for superhero action on television.

Flash Facts

The name of this episode is a nod to the movie Con-Air, which also centered upon the transport of a number of dangerous criminals gone awry.

Iris and Eddie's address is 203-2320 Western Ave, Central City USA, 74912.  No state is given and 74912 is not a valid zip code, though the 749 prefix of a zip code is reserved for central Oklahoma. This is far and away from the general location of Central City in the DC Universe, which is usually placed in western Missouri, on the border with Kansas.

Captain Cold addresses Barry as "The Scarlet Speedster". In the comics, this is one of the alliterative nicknames for The Flash, like how Batman is The Caped Crusader and Green Arrow is The Emerald Archer.

When Barry and Snart are talking at the Saints and Sinners bar, the song Cold as Ice by Foreigner is playing on the jukebox. It's a nice audio pun regarding Cold's powers but the song - a warning to someone who manipulates people and scorns honest emotion for material wealth that sooner or later they'll pay for their crimes - seems like a message Leonard Snart could stand to learn from.

When they arrive at the Ferris Air landing strip, Snart comments that he thought Ferris Air shut down. Barry confirms that they did, shortly after one of their test pilots disappeared.  This could be a reference to Hal Jordan - a test pilot for Ferris Air who went on to become the first Green Lantern from Earth.  In the comics, Jordan did briefly disappear after he was taken to the planet Oa for basic training.

In the fight with The Flash, The Arrow and Firestorm, The Reverse Flash wields a special ring that shoots his costume out of it, which he changes into at super-speed.  This is a nod to the classic Flash comics where Barry Allen kept his costume inside a special ring that allowed him to keep his costume close yet hidden where he could easily change into it at superspeed.


The Reverse Flash's wheelchair contains a futuristic batter that emits enough energy to power Central City. As best as Cisco can understand, The Reverse Flash was using this to power his speed and gain more power. This is why The Reverse Flash is faster than Barry Allen.

The "tube" that The Reverse Flash was working with in front of Eddie Thawne is a futurist power source that is, somehow, charging the STAR Labs particle accelerator despite not being visibly plugged into anything. Despite it being beyond his ability to manipulate, Cisco is able to guess that it will finish charging the accelerator in about 36 hours.

According to Cecila Horton, what STAR Labs has been doing with the metahuman criminals The Flash has been catching is unlawful imprisonment and attempting to move them in secret would constitute human trafficking. These are both very bad things.

Using the power source from The Reverse Flash's wheelchair and his uncle's shipping truck, Cisco is able to create an energy dampener. The back of the truck is flooded with so much energy it generates a transient pulse strong enough to disrupt a metahuman's powers.

The Arrow shoots The Reverse Flash with several arrows containing nanites programmed by Ray Palmer to deliver a high-frequency pulse that disables The Reverse Flash's speed powers.

Dialogue Triumphs

The Reverse Flash: I want you to take a moment and think about all the things that define your life. All the people you love. Your job. Your co-workers. Your home. And now imagine that one day, in a flash, all of that vanished. Would you simply accept your new life and move continue on? Or would you do whatever it takes to get back what was taken from you?  Because... I can assure you I will get everything that was taken... from me.

Joe: Let's say, hypothetically, I know a prison - of sorts - a place that can do what Iron Heights can't, where these metahumans, the bad ones, are being locked up.
Cecila: I'd be very concerned. Especially if, hypothetically, you had anything to do with it.

Joe: At what point do we become no different than the people we're fighting?
Barry: We are way different!
Joe: How?
Barry: We only break the rules to help people.

Barry: I need your help with a problem.
Snart: Must be pretty desperate to come asking for my assistance, but I'll bite.  What do you need?
Barry: Help transporting some people out of the city.
Snart: How many?
Barry: Five. Five very bad, very angry people who have powers.
Snart: Powers, hmmm?  So you want me to, what, freeze the problem? Protect you from them if anything goes wrong?  First rule of business - always protect yourself. I'm not going to help usher your enemies out of town.
Barry: Hey, they're not just my enemies.  They're yours too.
Snart: I doubt it.
Barry:  They will destroy Central City!
Snart: It's not my problem.
Barry: You said that you love it here! That this is your home!
Snart: I do. And it is.
Barry: Well, guess what? These people get loose, there won't be a city to love anymore. You won't be able to rob anyone if everyone is dead.
Snart: (pauses to consider) It's a compelling argument. But if I'm going to help you out, I'll need something in return.
(Snart begins writing something on a cocktail napkin) 
Barry: Like what?
Snart: This.
(Barry reads the napkin and snorts in disbelief)
Barry: No.  This is impossible. I can't do that.
Snart: Then I can't help you.
Barry: There has to be... Snart, there has to be something you want that I can get!
(Snart inhales deeply)
Let me think about it.

Joe:What is going on with you? You working with that killer? This isn't who you are!
Barry: Who I am is the guy who's not fast enough to stop Wells! He - he hasn't been one step ahead of us, Joe! He's been 1000!  I can't catch him! I can't beat him! But what I can do is save those people down there. Wells turned them into what they are and I'm pretty sure he doesn't care if they live or die. I do.

Lisa: Hey Cisco.
Cisco: Oh, hey... Captain Cold's evil sister.
Lisa: Awwww.... You're not still mad at me, are you? I really did enjoy kissing you.
(Caitlin spins around in her chair)
Caitlin: You kissed her?!
Cisco: Under duress. Calm down.
Lisa: I've - I've thought a lot about you.
Cisco: Have you really? (pause) Well, stop!  Because this?  Right here? (pointing to himself) It ain't gonna happen.
Lisa: (pouting as she leans in) A girl can hope.
(Lisa walks away as Cisco just stares straight ahead and Caitlin gives him a death glare)
Cisco: Really not enjoying being one of the good guys this week.  REALLY not!

The Mist: If I had my powers right now, I'd gas you all out of existence!
Deathbolt: (laughs)  And then you'd be standing in a container with four corpses. What would that get you?
The Mist: Peace and quiet.

Captain Cold (holding his gun on Weather Wizard and Rainbow Raider) How about we call tonight a tie?
(Rainbow Raider's eyes start to glow as Golden Glider walks up and points her gun to his head) 
Golden Glider: I'd power down if you don't want me to melt your face.
(Rainbow Raider sighs and his eyes go back to normal)
Captain Cold: Let's all go our separate ways.  My name is Leonard Snart.
Weather Wizard; I know who you are.
Captain Cold: Always pleased to meet a fan. Just remember who it was that made sure you didn't get thrown on that plane bound for nowhere.
Weather Wizard: You're just letting us go? (nods to Deathbolt's body) Why'd you shoot that guy?
Captain Cold: He owed me money.
Weather Wizard; Mmm. (pauses and looks at Cold) What?  You want a thank you?
Captain Cold: Who doesn't like a 'thank you'?
Rainbow Raider: (pause) Thank you?
Captain Cold: (cheerfully) YOU are so very welcome!

The Flash: You sabotaged the truck, didn't you?! Why did you let them escape?!
Captain Cold: Because now they all owe me. And something tells me they'll be a lot more use to me as part of my Rogues than rotting away in the North China sea.
The Flash: You gave me your word!
Captain Cold: (chuckles) It's true, I did. But here's the thing. I'm a criminal. And a liar. And I hurt people. And I rob them. What did you expect me to do? Not be what I am? I saw an opportunity to turn things to my advantage. And I did. Who you're really mad at is yourself. This is on you, Barry.
The Flash: Then why don't you just kill me?
Captain Cold: (shrugs) Well, I guess you owe me one now, too.  Good luck with (waves his hand around) all of this. I'm actually really excited to see how it all turns out.

Barry: I've seen the way that Oliver does things. And he's not afraid to just do whatever it takes to get what he needs and I thought I could do that too. I thought I could just use Snart but instead he used me.
Joe: You're not The Arrow, Barry. That's not the kind of hero you are.
Barry: What kind am I?
Joe: The kind that cares about whether or not those criminals lived or died. I mean, whatever Mardon, Nimbus and Shawna did, they're human beings. And you knew letting Wells use them as pawns was wrong. You know the difference between right and wrong and you weren't willing to blurr the lines between the two. That's the kind of man you are. And that's what makes you different than The Arrow. So please, no more walks on the dark side. Agreed?
Barry: (laughs softly) Yeah.


Iris and Eddie's address is 203-2320 Western Ave, Central City USA, 74912.

Cisco points out that liquid levitates whenever something involving The Reverse Flash is nearby. He specifically cites Barry's aquarium when he was a kid (101), Wells' champagne glass on the night of the particle accelerator explosion (103) and Captain Lance's coffee right before they found Harrison Wells' body (119).  It happens again in this episode, with his orange soda as they open The Pipeline.

As the episode opens, only five metahumans are contained in The Pipeline.  They are Kyle Nimbus (103), Roy G. Bivolo (108), Shawna Baez (112), Mark Mardon (115) and Jake Simmons (A319). AKA The Mist, Rainbow Raider, Peek-A-Boo, Weather Wizard and Deathbolt.

Joe discovers Eddie Thawne under The Pipeline.  As he's helping him out, Iris discovers the ring Eddie was going to use to propose to her when he was kidnapped.

Eddie tells the rest of the core cast that The Reverse Flash told him his real name was Eobard Thawne and that they were related.  Cisco confirms that Eboard Thawne is the name that Dr. Wells gave him in his dream/vision of the alternate time-line in 120.

Barry refers to Lian Yu - the island where Oliver Queen was stranded for several years, where ARGUS built a secret prison.  This is where they sent Captain Boomerang after the events of A308 and where The Arrow keeps his worst enemies, including Deathstroke.

Joe speaks to Central City's District Attorney Cecile Horton, last seen in 119, about the possibility of police support for transporting hypothetical metahuman criminals. She refuses to consider the possibility and advises Joe, if he's involved in such a thing, to get out now.

Joe notes that Captain Singh, last seen in 120, is on his honeymoon.

Barry is able to secure an ARGUS plane after a phone call to Lyla Diggle, whom he met in A308.

Barry says that he couldn't get a hold of Oliver, who is in someplace called Nanda Parbat. This is the home of The League of Assassins and Oliver has made several trips there over the course of Season 3 of Arrow.  At the time of this episode, Oliver is in the middle of playing at being the heir of Ra's Al Ghul.

Barry finds Len Snart hanging out a bar called Saints And Sinners.

Eddie, when pressed on his aborted proposal, confessed to Iris that The Reverse Flash showed him the future and that she was married to Barry.

20 hours pass between when Cisco discovers the device charging the particle accelerator and when Snart shows up at STAR Labs.

Snart agrees to help Barry in exchange for having all records of his existence erased, both physical and electronic.

Lisa Snart makes her first appearance since 116.

Snart reveals he has kept his word about keeping Barry's secret identity a secret from his associates, including his own sister.

Cisco has an uncle who owns a refrigerated shipping truck and uses it to deliver frozen food.

Lisa Snart has a Class A commercial driver's license.

Weather Wizard recognizes The Mist and notes that he was supposed to have been executed, as revealed in 103.

Ferris Air is said to have shut down after one of their test pilots disappeared.

Cisco gives Lisa Snart a code name - Golden Glider.

Barry is able to stop The Mist by using his hands to generate a whirlwind that contains The Mist until he solidifies.  This is similar to the trick Barry learned to create a vacuum to put out an apartment fire in 120.

Peek-A-Boo escapes at the first opportunity, not taking part in the fight.

Rainbow Raider uses his powers on Caitlin, making her attack Cisco, forcing Joe to stop shooting at him to focus on stopping her.

The Mist runs off after The Flash becomes distracted, dodging Deathbolt's eye beams.

The Flash is eventually brought down after being struck by lightning, aimed by The Weather Wizard, while dodging Deathbolt's attacks.  This shows that The Flash is not immune to the effects of electricity not generated by his own powers.

Deathbolt is killed by Captain Cold.

Weather Wizard knows of Leonard Snart by reputation but didn't know Deathbolt.

Weather Wizard and Rainbow Raider escape after Captain Cold lets them go.  Captain Cold and Golden Glider are also at large.

Cisco is able to use "the light thingy" from 108 to cure Caitlin after she's possessed by The Rainbow Raider.

Oliver Queen is wearing his garb from his time as Al Sah-him of The League of Assassins.

According to The Reverse Flash, recorded history says that Oliver Queen lives to be 86 years old.

Once the Revese Flash is downed, Oliver Queen tells Barry he might need a favor.  Barry agrees to it, wherever and whenever.

The Fridge Factor

Eddie dumping Iris by telling her that everyone (i.e. Barry, Joe and himself) knows she really loves Barry REALLY doesn't come off well.  Like all the men in her life know her feelings better than she does?!  Granting that Iris does assert her right to determine her own destiny, Eddie still comes off as dismissive of her protests that the can fight the future.

The Bottom Line

Easily the most action-packed episode of the series in terms of pure superheroics so far. The only real weak point is the Iris/Eddie scenes, but only because they're a distraction from the meat of the episode. I personally have misgivings about Captain Cold ditching his thieves' code of honor in this episode but the twist is handled well enough I can forgive it simply because they've perfectly captured Len Snart as the consummate professional whose ultimate rule is Look Out For #1.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #2 - A Review

It is a time of turmoil for Batman's Insurgency. With their numbers depleted and Batman himself preoccupied, former Gotham City cop Rene Montoya has started drinking again and Catwoman is ready to split. Meanwhile, a bored Harley Quinn - once again squatting with Poison Ivy - seeks direction for her new-found independence.

As last week's issue established the status quo for The Regime, so does this week's issue set things up on the side of The Resistance. The script by Brian Buccellato draws off a lot of the history of these characters without hitting the reader over the head with continuity notes about Rene's battles with alcoholism or her relationship with Batwoman.

The artwork is uniformly excellent as per usual. Bruno Redondo gives Harley Quinn some great expressions that remind me of the work of Kevin Maguire and I love his design for Harley's school-girl costume here.. Juan Albarran does a perfect job of enhancing the original pencils with his inks. And the colors and letters by Rex Lokus and Wes Abbott are great.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Arrow: Season 2.5 #19 - A Review

In order to synthesize a fresh dose of the Mirakuru antidote, Oliver Queen and Roy Harper must journey to the last place on Earth Oliver wants to go - Lian Yu.  Because the antidote requires a blood sample from someone who recently took Mirakuru and the only one who can provide that is Slade Wilson.  And even though he's locked up in an ARGUS holding facility, the man called Deathstroke will not bleed without a fight...

Marc Guggenheim's script for this issue is a thrilling one. As one would expect, the fight between Slade and Oliver is a suspenseful one. What really sells this story, however, is a wonderful opening monologue which I would place among the greatest Oliver Queen lines in any medium.

The artwork remains at its usual level of quality. Joe Bennett blocks the action sequences like a master choreographer and does a fine job capturing the likenesses of the actors from the show.  The inks by Craig Yeung enhance the artwork rather than concealing it. And Jim Charalampidis' colors prove well chosen.

Starman Plays Discworld - A Let's Play Adventure - Part Six

In which we take our first steps out into the wide Discworld beyond Ankh-Morpork, practice cruel and unusual dentistry, sneak past a malevolent marotte and invent Hentai.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 22 - This Is Your Sword

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


As Oliver Queen's friends struggle with their vision of who The Arrow was and what he has become, Al Sah-Him prepares for marriage and for his final mission before becoming Ra's Al Ghul. Malcolm Merlyn has some idea of what is coming and is ready to make what remains of Team Arrow an offer to save their city... but will they accept his help, even in this darkest hour? And what of Thea Queen, who has gone off in search of Roy Harper?

Five years ago, as tensions mount in Hong Kong and the Alpha/Omega plague spreads rapidly, Oliver and the Yamashiro's search desperately for anything that might cure Akio, eventually planning to attack General Shrieve himself.


The Batman comics of Dennis O'Neil (Ra's wanting to marry his daughter to a hero he hopes to win into his service), Batman: Son of the Demon (plot involving hero becoming Ra's Al Ghul's heir and Ra's addresses Ollie by this title), various comics featuring The Outsiders ,The Black Arrow Saga by Mike Grell (Oliver being thought a criminal by the world at large and most of his allies as well as the scene where Tatsu tells Felicity about what a wounded Oliver said) and Batman: Contagion (Ra's Al Ghul seeks to destroy a whole city with a plague).


Roy seems to cut out of work pretty easily for a guy who just started working for another mechanic a few weeks earlier. Then again, maybe he has an understanding boss who is all too eager to help an employee out when a woman like Thea comes along?

Not so much a goof with the episode itself as it is with the advertising on The CW, but any tension that might come from the cliffhanger ending of this episode is negated by them showing ads for The Flash which depict Oliver in his League of Assassins garb and The Atom fighting alongside The Flash against The Reverse Flash.


David Ramsey gets to play John Diggle with an uncharacteristic degree of anger throughout this episode. And it's a damn fine performance.

While her role in the episode is a relatively minor one, Rila Fukushuma makes the most of every scene she has as Tatsu Yamashiro. The duel between Maseo and Tatsu is heartbreaking as is the flashback scene where we see the exact moment her family fell apart.


The whole of the fight sequence between all of Team Arrow and The League of Assassins over the airplane is very well handled, from the duel between Tatsu and Maseo to Ray's sudden appearance in The Atom suit.


As is the trend for the penultimate episode of every season of Arrow, this episode takes its name from a Bruce Springsteen song. Given that the song is about fighting for what you love despite all the darkness in the world, it seem a fitting title given that idea is a reoccurring theme for most of the core cast in this episode all ready to fight over their respective loves.

Roy's new name in his assumed identity is Jason. This could be a reference to Jason Todd, a.k.a. The Red Hood, whom Roy partnered with in the New 52 comic Red Hood And The Outlaws.

In the comics, Roy Harper is a good mechanic.

Once again, Merlyn uses Ferris Air - the employer of Hal Jordan in the comics - to book his charter plane.

Ra's names Nyssa's mother as a woman named Ameena Raatko. In the comics, Nyssa went by the name Nyssa Raatko before she tracked down her birth father and impressed him into acknowledging her as his child, thus earning the name Nyssa Al Ghul.  The comics never gave a name to Nyssa's borth mother.

The scene in which Tatsu tells Felicity of how a wounded Oliver spoke of Felicity while he was recovering mirrors a similar scene from Mike Grell's Black Arrow Saga.  In that story, the assassin Shado - who cared for Oliver Queen after accidentally wounding him mortally - reported to Dinah Lance that Oliver spoke only her name while he was recovering in her care.

It is worth noting once again that, in the comics, Tatsu Yamashiro is the name of the superheroine Katana.

Meryln admires Tatsu's sword and asks if it is a Masasumne blade.  Masasumne is a legendary Japanese swordsmith whose swords and daggers would - in terms of quality - be comparable to Stradivarius violins. One popular legend claims that Masasumne once made a sword so pure that it could not be used to harm the innocent and that it could only draw blood from the wicked.

Tatsu's sword in the comics is not so noble. In fact, her sword in the comic is a soul-drinking weapon that contains the souls of her son and husband.

The costume that Tatsu wears in this episode is based on the costume worn by Katana in the New 52 DC Comics Universe.

Ra's bequeaths another name to Oliver - Ibn Al Ghul. Son of The Demon.  This is similar to the name of the head of the League of Assassins in the book Kingdom Come, Ibn al Xu'ffasch or Son of The Bat.  This character was, it turns out, the son of Batman and Talia Al Ghul.


Vastatio is a Latin word referring to the Roman practice of systematically destroying a land in order to subjugate it and its people.

Dialogue Triumphs

Felicity: You were completely unhinged out there tonight, Digg. You're in denial about how angry you are.
Diggle: (half-growled) No, Felicity. I'm not in denial. But I am angry! 
(Diggle hits his chair arms and slowly stands, eventually speaking cooly and deliberately)
Diggle: Oliver... was my best friend. He kidnapped... my wife.
Felicity: And you think that justifies hospitalizing people?
Diggle: No, Felicity. It doesn't.  You're right. It won't happen again.
Felicity: I not saying that life doesn't suck right now, but you can't go around the city taking it out on every criminal you see.
Laurel: How can you, out of all people, be so sanguine after what happened last week?
Felicity: Because I know that that wasn't Oliver!
Diggle: Now who's in denial?
Felicity: It wasn't! Our Oliver - my Oliver - died the day he joined The League! This is someone else!
Laurel: You truly believe that?
Felicity: ... I have to.

Nyssa: I would rather die than wed this pretender!
Ra's Al Ghul: You speak as though they are the only two options before you, my daughter.

(After throwing a masked assailant to the ground while walking outside of Nanda Parbat)

Oliver: You're late.
Merlyn: (removing his mask) Sorry. Nanda Parbat's not exactly the easiest place to infiltrate.
Oliver: Don't joke. (offering Merlyn a hand up) Things are worse than we thought.

Merlyn: This plan was born the moment Oliver realized he had to capitulate to Ra's to save Thea.
Diggle: And instead of sharing this plan with us, he trusted you?
Laurel: The man who had my sister murdered?
Merlyn: Well, I am better practiced in the art of deception and, no offense, none of you are particularly good actors.

Tatsu: I did not come here to convince you of the threat to your home. There is nothing I can say that you will believe more than what you have seen.
Felicity: Then why are you here?
Tatsu: To speak with you about Oliver. During his recuperation, Oliver spoke of you. Of how his last thought before the fall was of you. You love him... still.
Felicity: Oliver belongs to Ra's now.
Tatsu:  If you believe that, you must fight for him!
Felicity: There is no him left.
Tatsu: I thought as you do once. My husband, Maseo, was consumed by The League's darkness. I was so convinced that he was lost to me that I didn't even try to reach him. Don't make my mistake, Felicity.

(As Laurel is being strangled, her assailant is shot in the back with two arrows at once. She looks up to see Merlyn grinning at her.)
Laurel: (glaring at Merlyn) You know I wouldn't have done the same thing for you.
Merlyn: I know.

(Maseo draws his sword and stares down Tatsu)
Maseo: Your husband is long dead. If Sarab must die as well, then so be it.

(As the plane carrying the virus begins to take off as she's trying to hack its controls)
Felicity: Oh frack!
(Suddenly, an arrow whizzes past Felicity, only to break her tablet screen)
Felicity: More frack!
(In desperation, Felicity pulls the arrow from the tablet, and throws the tablet at the archer who is shooting at her.  The tablet hits him in the chest as he begins to choke in pain and fall forward. Felicity smiles, until she sees the arrow in his back and Merlyn standing off to one side.)
Felicity: Oh. That makes more sense.

(Maseo has Tatsu down and disarmed)
Maseo: Tell Akio I love him.
(Suddenly, Tatsu, spins around, grabs her sword and thrusts it up as Maseo walks into the blade)
Tatsu: You tell him for both of us.
(Maseo falls forward and Tatsu takes him into her arms)
Maseo: Thank you... for releasing me... from my prison.

Oliver; Is everyone okay?
Diggle: Like you give a damn.
Oliver: Didn't Maclolm speak to you?
Diggle: He did. So was it part of your plan to leave my daughter alone when you kidnapped my wife?
Oliver: I had to do something to prove my loyalty to Ra's.
Diggle: So taking Lyla?! That was your idea, Oliver?! In front of our daughter?!
Oliver: (long pause) Yes. You met Tatsu.
Diggle: What does that have to do with anything?
Oliver: Tatsu told me... that in order to beat Ra's I would have to sacrifice all the things in my life that I hold most precious. And your friendship is on that list.
Diggle: Oliver, you didn't just lose my friendship. You lost my trust. And you lost my respect.

Roy: Dear Thea. I wasn't supposed to make it this far. I was supposed to end up in jail or dead by now. But then I met you. And you made me want to be the man I saw through your eyes. And now all I want to do is give that back and help you be the person you can be without Oliver. Without your father. And without me. Living on the run from the police isn't the life you deserve, Thea. It's not what Oliver gave up his life for you to have. Whatever happens with me, I will always love you.
P.S. Thanks for the suit, but I always thought red was more your color anyway.


It is revealed that Maseo gave Ra's a sample of the Alpha/Omega bio-weapon in order to secure his place in The League of Assassins. He later says that he stole it before his son died, intending to use it to avenge himself directly upon General Shrieve.

Roy is now working as an auto mechanic named Jason.

Tatsu has spent most of the last five years in isolation, apart from the time spent looking after Oliver.

Thea has Merlyn steal the Arsenal suit from Starling City's lock-up to return to Roy as a gift.

Ra's names Nyssa's mother as a woman named Ameena Raatko.

Ray has now made The ATOM suit strong enough to survive the impact of a ballistic missile. He can also fly through a plane, causing it to explode, and emerge relatively intact.

Tatsu kills Maseo.

League of Assassins tradition dictates that Ra's Al Ghul may consider granting mercy to any enemies of the League he deems worthy of it upon the eve of a wedding.

Roy leaves Thea a Dear John letter along with the Arsenal suit.

General Shrieve is diabetic.

There is no cure for the Alpha/Omega virus - only a vaccine.  The vaccine is ineffective on children.


Nanda Parbat

The Fridge Factor

Roy denies Thea the choice of spending her life with him and seems to push her into taking up his role as Oliver's partner.

The Bottom Line

A marked improvement from last week, with a lot of great dialogue and a hell of a great action sequence in the fourth segment. It remains to be seen just how much treachery is a foot and if Merlyn's attempt to sell out Ollie was another gambit meant to insure Ra's does not see Ollie's plan coming to fruition. Next week can't come fast enough.