Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sam Wilson: Captain America #2 - A Review

Sam Wilson's never been one to turn away from a fight but he may be taking on more than he can handle as the new Captain America. From publicly opposing SHIELD's reported plan to use Cosmic Cube fragments to secretly alter reality to protecting illegal immigrants from human traffickers, Sam's been stirring up controversy in the press with his every action. But when he backs the work of a secretive whistle-blower known as The Whisperer, Sam will find himself fighting the man he respects most in the world - Steve Rogers!

You can say this for Nick Spencer - he is not one to shy away from controversy. Though his script is filled with metaphorically equivalencies, his real-world targets are clear. To Spencer's credit, he does not stand upon a soapbox but does allow for some reasoned discussion of differing viewpoints. Of particular note is the discussion between Sam and Steve Rogers, where Sam argues that sometimes you have to work outside the system to do the right thing while Steve argues that one still has to be held accountable to the laws regarding exposing corruption within a system.

Whatever your opinions on the story itself or the politics involved, it cannot be denied that the artwork is top-notch. Daniel Acuna draws some powerful figures. And his colors, mostly a variety of reds, white and blues, subtly reinforce the visual theme of the series.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Man #11 - A Review

When Solar City is in trouble, there's one hero who stands ready to defend it against any menace, no matter how weird - Halloween Man! A vampire victim turned monster by a semi-well-meaning necromancer, Solomon Hitch is half-man, half-monster and all hero. Aided by his super-scientist girlfriend, Dr. Lucy Chaplin, an occult bookstore owner and the son of a god with all the powers of a man-sized goat, Solomon fights a never-ending battle against the kinds of insanity no respectable superhero would touch with a ten foot pole. Someone has to.

Halloween Man has existed in one form or another for over 15 years.  This volume collects several classic Halloween Man tales along with some solo adventures starring Dr. Lucy Chaplin. But there's also four new stories, making this a must read for long-time fans of the series.

The artwork varies from story to story. Some of it sports a more horror-based aesthetic while other stories are delightfully light-hearted and cartoonish. Oddly, both extremes suit the scripts of Drew Edwards, which pay homage to both vintage horror and classic comics.

For fans of quirky heroes and weird tales, Halloween Man #11 would be a bargain at any price. But for the rest of Halloween Weekend 2015, it's available for a mere $1.99 on Comixology. That's 146 pages of shovel-smacking action!  Treat yourself and pick this book up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 4 - Beyond Redemption

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


Laurel returns home with a savage Sara in tow, trying to figure out how to explain things to her father. Quentin Lance is already in a foul mood because some new gang is killing cops and he's got no better option than to turn to Oliver Queen for help. He's not too thrilled about Oliver running for mayor, either. But his outrage will be nothing compared to how Oliver reacts when he finds out that Captain Lance is apparently in the pocket of Damien Darhk.


Green Arrow: Year One
(the sequences on Lian Yu), the Green Arrow comics of Elliot S! Maggin, particularly Green Lantern/Green Arrow #87 (which first proposed the idea of Oliver Queen running for mayor of Star City) and Green Arrow: Quiver, which dealt with the idea of a resurrected hero coming back from the dead without a soul.


Captain Lance claims to have reactivated the anti-vigilante task force within the past year and outfitted them with special equipment. You'd think Team Arrow would have encountered these forty specially trained cops before now. (Perhaps Lance reactivated the task-force then and only recently got the new equipment from Darhk?)

While Curtis' sharing his feelings about his brother's death and wanting to have a recording of his voice is a sweet thought, you'd think he'd be smart enough to realize that the recording of Ray Palmer's last moments is probably going to end with him screaming in agony as an explosion kills him and that's probably NOT something Felicity wants to hear.

Why do the corrupt cops taser Laurel and just leave her in the hallway?  Why don't they bring her with them or put her back in her unlocked apartment, apart from the story needing someone to be able to tell the rest of Team Arrow that Lance was kidnapped?

It's a little hard to believe that Ray Palmer would have PASSWORD as his password. Even if it was hidden behind the gods only know what kind of encryption.


Paul Blackthorne gets a lot of great moments in this episode. With the exception of his narmy reaction to having to kill his own daughter (made worse by Katie Cassidy's lack of reaction to his action), he doesn't miss a beat in this episode.

Backed with some righeous speeches, Stephen Amell sounded like the Oliver Queen of the comics as he took Quentin Lance and his hypocrisy apart. Now if only we could hear him call someone a fat-cat by season's end...


The action sequence where Team Arrow fights the corrupt cops is very well choreographed and gives every member of the team a chance to shine.

The script has a number of great speeches for both Oliver and Captain Lance.

The final sequence, in which we see scenes of all the characters during Oliver's speech, is very well directed.


The idea of Oliver Queen running for mayor of Star City first appeared in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #87. In the story "What Can One Man Do?", Ollie is approached about running for office - an idea he runs by some of his friends - all of whom have the same reaction as Laurel, Diggle and Thea in this episode.

The idea of a hero being resurrected without a soul lies at the center of the Green Arrow story Quiver.

Curtis Holt guesses that a Palmer Technologies employee in the data processing department named Neal Adams is The Green Arrow. This employee is named after Neal Adams - the artist who designed the Bronze Age Green Arrow costume and illustrated Green Lantern/Green Arrow #87, which this episode is largely inspired by.

In the DC Comics Universe, Liza Warner was a character known as Lady Cop. The sole-survivor of a break-in that saw all her roommates killed by a serial killer called The Killer In Boots, Warner was inspired to become a cop. She later became Police Chief of Ivy Town and was an ally of the Ryan Choi Atom.

Apart from the name and being a cop, the DCTVU version has little in common with her comic book counterpart.

Ollie makes a reference to Papp Stadium.  This is a reference to George Papp - the artist who co-created Green Arrow.

Ollie identifies the Star City professional baseball team as The Sentinels.  According to the DC Comics RPG, the Star City baseball team was The Rockets. One DC Comic identified the Star City team as the Star City Stars.


The new Arrow Cave contains four polycarbonate cases for the team's costumes. They are keyed to each individual member's bio-metrics.

Felicity has the computers in the new Arrow Cave running radio transmissions from Police, Emergency Services and Homeland Security through a processing algorithm at all times. This will inform them of any trouble in the city.

The code being sent to Felicity's phone is from 2013. It is being broadcast from an IP in Curtis Holt's workspace.

Holt recognizes the code from one of Ray Palmer's prototype's operating systems that he had been analyzing. Felicity guesses that Ray must have connected the prototype's comptuer to the company's local area network. Holt confirms this and determines that Ray programmed his equipment to broadcast a crash log in case of a fatal malfunction. In other words, Ray may have recorded an audio message right before his apparent death.

The SIM card Lance gives Oliver to analyze does not come from a cel phone but rather from a walkie-talkie with GPS capabilities. This allows Felicity to track where it had been.

The secret base Oliver, John and Thea investigate is full of M4s, SCPD kevlar vests, flash-bang grenades and other military grade equipment. This indicates that their cop killers are cops.

The corrupt SCPD cops are armed with non-standard weaponry, including some kind of gun that deactivates Laurel's Canary Cry choker, net launchers and arrow-deflecting gauntlets with retractable knife-blades in the wrists. These are later confirmed to be special issue for the reactivated anti-vigilante task force.

Lance confirms that the corrupt cops really are cops and not criminals in police uniforms, based on the tactics employed.

Damien Darkh confirms that The Lazarus Pit brought Sara's body back to life but that The Pit does not restore the soul.

Felicity is able to activate every police officer's uniform and squad-car camera using her access to the SCPD network. This is how Oliver discovers Lance is friendly with Damien Darhk.

Laurel is able to thwart the Canary Cry Neutralizer by changing the frequency her choker operates on.

Oliver makes use of a knock-out gas arrow and a bola arrow in fighting the corrupt cops.

Dialogue Triumphs

Thea: I know this is a trap and all but something about the drugs... the club... makes me feel like I'm back in high school again.
(John scoffs)
Thea: What?
John: Just thinking about how much I hate raising a daughter in this city.

Ollie: Captain Lance?
Quentin: What, I don't get a code name like the rest of you?
Ollie: (sighing) Detective... get ready.

(As Lance enters the cave with the rest of Team Arrow)
Felicity: Um - not to complain but you do know that you brought a police captain into our secret lair?!
Lance: Don't worry. I've got enough to put you away for 25 years.
(Felicity makes an exasperated face at Oliver)
Lance: (smiling) Kidding!

Oliver: For years you've looked at me with such contempt. Utter disdain. So I'm wondering... do I have that same look on my face now?
Lance: What the hell are you talking about?
Oliver: I'm talking about you and Damien Darhk.
Lance: Okay.. it's... it's...
Oliver: I didn't know if you knew who he was or what he's been doing to this city. But now I see this look on your face... you know.
Lance: ... it's complicated.
Oliver: No, it's not. Do you have any idea how many people he's killed?
Lance: Yeah, I've got more of an idea than you. And listen you - YOU of all people - you don't get to come into my house and pass judgement on me, all right?!
Oliver: No. You always held yourself out as better than me! More righteous. And you were. Until tonight.
Lance: Actually, it's been a little more than two months now - me working with Darhk. It started out benign. He said had resources. He had people. Money. He held himself out as just another guy who wanted to help this city. And we needed the help. You weren't here. By the time I figured out who he was... what he was! That's when he threatened Laurel!
Oliver: Laurel can take care of herself. You see what she does out there.
Lance: That's what I thought about Sara too, and -
Oliver: (standing up, angrily) Stop! Stop it! Stop hiding behind your daughters! They would be ashamed of what you're doing right now!
Lance: You don't know what I'm going through-
Oliver: And you know the funny thing?! You were the main reason behind me running for mayor! A part of me has always wanted you to see what kind of man I really am. (pauses) I didn't expect to find out what kind of man you really are...

Lance: You said you're not a criminal. If you kill that man, you are.
Sgt. Warner: I told you I wasn't a criminal. But I also told you I was desperate.
Lance: We all are. Living in this city, dealnig with what we're dealing with? We're all desperate! We've all been made to do desperate things. Terrible things. But I've got to believe that we are not beyond redemption. And I've got to believe that this city can still be saved. Because once we stop believing that, that's when this city really dies and us - us, right along with it! Maybe, just maybe we start saving our home by saving ourselves first. And that means facing up to our mistakes. That means facing justice. You put on that uniform because you believe in justice. Ask yourself, Warner - is that still the case?

(Lance enters his apartment to find Oliver waiting for him)
Lance:  Have you got your own key or something?!
Oliver: What you said to Warner saved my life. I... I didn't know you had such a way with words.
Lance: Well, I don't do encores.
Oliver: Do you believe what you said?
Lance: Yeah. (sniffs) Every word. Especially the part about facing justice. When 1 Police Plaza opens this morning, I will be turning myself in.
Oliver: I can't have you do that.  We haven't been able to get close to Darhk. You have. I'd like you to stick around. Stay on the inside.
Lance: Well. that's only a smart plan if you can trust me.
Oliver: I trust the man who said we can't stop believing that we can save this city.

Oliver: United. That's what this city used to be. It's what it can be. It''s what it must be again. Now, I know that i'm not the obvious choice for Mayor. I'm not a politician. I signed away my family's company. I didn't even graduate from college. Although, in my defense, I did go to four of them. I certainly don't have the traditional background for leadership but I can tell you this. After five years in Hell, I returned home with only one goal. I wanted to save my city. And with your help, I can.
(Cut to Darhk, picking up some kind of intricate box)
Oliver: With your help, we will restore our home to the shining beacon we know it can be. And how we're going to get there isn't a mystery.
(Cut to Laurel, watching over Sgt. Warner in a holding cell)
Oliver: We will overcome our challenges with help from our friends.
(Cut to Oliver looking at Thea)
Oliver: Our families.
(Cut to Felicity, typing int the password to hear Ray Palmer's final words)
Oliver: Our loved ones.
(Cut to Oliver, looking to John)
Oliver: Those we trust.
(Cut to Lance, meeting with Darhk)
Oliver: And those we will need to trust again in order to prevail.
(Cut back to Oliver at his podium)
Oliver: Because the only way that we are going to return our home to greatness is to do so together! United.


Laurel makes reference to her spa weekend lie from 402.

Oliver refers to Captain Lance's statement about the city needing someone who isn't wearing a mask to save it from 402, as to why he is running for mayor.

Oliver acquires Sebastian Blood's old campaign office from Season 2, along with Blood's secret underground lair. This lair is made into the Arrow Cave 3.0.

The new Arrow Cave was designed by Cisco Ramon using resources from STAR Labs.  It contains four polycarbonate cases for Oliver, Laurel, Thea and John's respective costumes, each keyed to their individual bio-metrics.

Thea mistakenly thinks Oliver's second big announcement involves his proposing to Felicity, which is why she asks why Felicity isn't wearing it (i.e. the engagement ring we saw in 401.) when she and Oliver arrive. This indicates Oliver has discussed his plans to propose with Thea but has not yet acted on them.

Lance asks Oliver if his visits are going to be a weekly thing.  Oliver has indeed been making a visit to Lance once a week (i.e. once per episode) every week since Season 4 started.

In the flashbacks, Oliver sets the woman he rescued up in the cave that he first hid in when he came to Lian Yu in Season One.

Palmer Technologies has an employee in the data processing department named Neal Adams. He won the archery metal three years running at his summer camp, has a temper problem and he likes the color green. He is also 5'2".

Sara is now capable of speech, asking who she is as Laurel tries to jog her memory with pictures. She also attacks Laurel when she gets too close. Sara shows no signs of recognizing her sister or father.

Within the past months, Star City saw an increase in gangs stealing drug shipments from other gangs. Felicity theorizes this was actually corrupt cops stealing from the gangs.

The new Arrow cave is having electrical short problems.

Oliver addresses Lance as "Detective" when he asks for a code-name - a nod to Season 2, when Oliver still addressed Lance as Detective even after his demotion to beat-cop.

Lance confirms that he reactivated the anti-vigilante task force last year and they they had new equipment. It has about 40 officers assigned to it.

Lance gives Team Arrow unrestricted access to the SCPD computer network.

Curtis Holt had a brother who died six years earlier of pancreatic cancer.

Damen Darhk is a father.

The new Arrow Cave does include a salmon ladder... much to Felicity's enjoyment.

Felicity discovers that Sgt. Liza Warner deposited over a quarter million dollars into several off-shore accounts over the past three months.

Lance had been working with Darhk for just about two months as of this episode.

The Starling City baseball team was called The Sentinels. They played at Papp Stadium. Thea loved the popcorn. Ollie loved it when the whole crowd stood up to cheer a homer.

Quentin is taken by the corrupt cops to the SCPD Contraband Facility. Reference is made to the facility holding thousands of pounds of Slam, Vertigo and heroin.  Slam is the drug created five years earlier on Lian Yu according to 402. Vertigo is a designer drug first seen in 112. It requires a precinct Captain to gain access through a palm-print scanner.

In the flashback, Oliver uses his death-faking pressure-point touch to make the woman he saved appear to be dead. Unfortunately, his satchel with the broadcasting equipment is discovered by Coaklin almost immediately after.

Thea recruits a number of volunteers for Ollie's campaign for mayor from her social media.  She also wrote Oliver's first speech, basing it on what he told her about people being united at a baseball game when a homer was hit.

Darkh receives some kind of box that appears to be inscribed with mystic designs.

Felicity does finally listen to Ray Palmer's last message.

At the episode's end, Sara escapes from where Laurel had her chained up.

The Bottom Line

Bit of a toss-up. The ending unites all of our heroes on somewhat sturdier footing. At least until it comes out that Laurel has been lying to nearly everyone about Sara for two weeks now. The corrupt cops are underwhelming as enemies but we do get some great speeches for Paul Blackthorne and Stephen Amell that more than make up for it. The new Arrow cave set is nice, electrical shorts aside. The Sara subplot is somewhat lackluster as we know Quentin isn't going to kill her, even ignoring all the spoilers regarding Legends of Tomorrow and next week's appearance by a certain blue-collar Brit Magus.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 4 - The Fury of Firestorm

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


With Dr. Stein's health failing and his Firestorm powers manifesting erratically, the STAR Labs team start looking for a possible "match" who might be able balance him out. They find two possibilities - scientist Dr. Henry Hewitt and ex-football star Jefferson Jackson. Caitlin immediately takes a liking to Dr. Hewitt, but is he really the best man for the job?

Meanwhile, as Barry continues his flirtation with Patty Spivot and Joe learns the seemingly tragic reason behind his wife's return to Central City, a burglar with a familiar face breaks into Mercury Labs...


Various Firestorm and The Fury of Firestorm comics (the characters of Jefferson Jackson and Henry Hewitt, and the many stories where the Firestorm powers went wonky because one half of the Firestorm Matrix needed another person to bond with)


Jax asks Caitlin if Ronnie was the man who flew into the breach and saved everyone. Yet in the first episode of Season Two, it was implied that nobody noticed the flying man and everyone thought The Flash had saved Central City.

Why doesn't The STAR Labs team hand Hewitt over to the CCPD? He did blow up the lab that employed him. And Iron Heights has the ability to hold an explosive metahuman now, if it turns out they're wrong about him losing his powers. And while putting Hewitt in prison knowing everything he does about STAR Labs isn't a great idea, it's not like holding him in The Pipeline until he agrees not to talk and trusting him to keep his word is a workable solution either.


Once again, Victor Garber steals the show as Professor Stein.

Franz Drameh offers a surprisingly strong performance as Jefferson Jackson.  He immediately makes Jax into a likeable and heroic figure in the opening scene, where we see him trying to warn people of the explosion and stopping to help an injured teammate. This helps to keep him sympathetic despite his reluctance to get involved at first and you really feel his joy at being able to fly.

Candice Patton hasn't been given a lot to do as Iris West. But her scenes here, in which she confronts the mother who abandoned her twice, show that she's a great actress when given something to do besides play the damsel in distress.


The soundtrack for this episode is fantastic. The music as Jax and Professor Stein merge is of particular note.

There's a lot of ironic humor in this script, with Joe telling Patty she'd better learn to lie (that DOES seem to be a pre-requisite for being a character on this show!) and Cisco saying he'd love to be a superhero, even as he's been hiding his newfound powers from everyone but Professor Stein.

The closing sequence is very well directed and choreographed.  And wow - a twice surprising ending!

Flash Facts

The name Jefferson Jackson comes from the original Fury of Firestorm comic. In that book, Jefferson Jackson was a friend of Ronnie Raymond, who played with him on their high-school's basketball team. The two double dated with their respective girlfriends and Jefferson helped Ronnie in dealing with the class bully.

The DCTVU version of Jefferson "Jax" Jackson is a star quarterback on the Central City High football team rather than a basketball player. He had a 4.0 GPA and wanted to go to college, but his family couldn't afford to send him there. He suffered an injury on the night of the Particle Accelerator Explosion which destroyed his ability to play football and his chances of going to college. Instead, he became a mechanic.

It is speculated that the DCTVU version of Jefferson Jackson was created due to a failure to bring back Luc Roderique, who played Jason Rusch in Episode 110.

On the show, Rusch was a graduate student who had helped Professor Stein with his work. In the comics, Rusch was the young genius who replaced Ronnie Raymond as Firestorm following the events of the story Identity Crisis.

The DCTVU version of Dr. Henry Hewitt is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Hudson University - the same college Professor Stein worked for. He dual-majored in applied physics and bio-engineering. After acquiring energy absorption and projection powers, he seems to become more powerful the angrier he gets.

In the comics, Henry Hewitt was the name of the Firestorm villain Tokamak. Hewitt was a scientist and CEO who attempted to recreate the accident that created Firestorm. He was unsuccessful, but did give himself the power to absorb and project energy as well as the power of flight, though he had to forge a special atomic containment suit. He was seemingly defeated by the Ronnie Raymond Firestorm after his suit was breached, but emerged years later as an enemy to the Jason Rusch Firestorm.

Tokamak takes his name from a device used to contain plasma within a magnetic field that becomes more unstable as it increases in power.

Francine West claims to be suffering from MacGregor's Syndrome. This is a frequently cited fictional disease in DC Comics media adaptations. In the movie Batman and Robin, it was the disease which plagued Nora Fries, which inspired her husband - Dr. Victor Fries - to put her into cryogenic suspension until he could find a cure. Alfred Pennyworth also suffered from the condition. On Arrow, it was the condition which plagued William "Clock King" Tockman.

In Batman and Robin, MacGregor's Syndrome's symptoms were never discussed beyond Alfred Pennyworth becoming increasingly weak and tired.  In Arrow, it caused a build-up of fluid in the lungs, causing oxygen deprivation and eventual multi-system organ failure. Francine West claims ex-drug addicts frequently develop it.

Henry Hewitt worked at Eikmeier Technologies. This may be named in honor of Brooke Eikmeier - a writer on The Flash TV show and The Flash: Season Zero comic book.

The latest Earth 2 villain who attacks Barry at the end of the episode, though unnamed, appears to be modeled on King Shark. Originally a Superboy villain, King Shark had two wildly conflicting origins - one that named him as a mutant that evolved from sharks as man evolved from apes and the other that named him as a son of an ancient Hawaiian Shark God.  The New 52 incarnation of King Shark is a member of the Suicide Squad and has no clear background as of yet.

Curiously, The Flash: Season Zero comic introduced an Earth 1 version of King Shark in an eight-part storyline told in The Flash: Season Zero #11-18.  This King Shark was a sick man named Shay Lamden, who was caught in the Particle Accelerator Explosion while undergoing an experimental treatment involving shark cells.  The merger of dark matter and shark DNA transformed Shay into an ever-hungry monster, who the DCTVU version of Amanda Waller eventually recruited into The Suicide Squad.


Cisco creates a new version of the stabilizer Eobard Thawne created to merge the two halves of the Firestorm Matrix, using the power source from Thawne's wheelchair.Cisco transfers the stabilizer into a "power cane" that will enable Professor Stein to walk but he guesses it will only last for a few days.

Caitlin notes that when the Particle Accelerator exploded, the dark mater released collided with Professor Stein and fused him with The Firestorm Matrix, altering the normal molecular processes that occur within his body. The highly reactive molecules created by this process needed something to bond with in order to stabilize - i.e Ronnie Raymond. As a result, Stein is becoming more unstable the longer he goes without merging with a suitable partner.

Caitlin finds two potential candidates, based on an analysis of people who were affected by the dark matter, showed signs of gene rearrangement mutation upon being hospitalized and who also share Professor Stein's blood type.

Caitlin claims that if she can isolate the genetic locus of the two candidates and cross-reference it with the mutations in Professor Stein, she may be able to find a match.

Caitlin's analysis of the blood samples Barry retrieves from both Firestorm candidates determines there is no agglutination and cross-matching was negative for both. She also determines the dark matter mutated their genes in a similar way to Professor Stein's.

Barry notes that more of Jefferson Jackon's alleles match up with Stein's than Hewitt's.

The splicer releases a molecular primer into the body of a perspective partner. This causes a rush-like sensation, after which the partner can make physical contact with Professor Stein and the Firestorm Matrix takes over.

Caitlin and Cisco describe Firestorm's powers as the ability to process fission and fusion, harness excess energy and turn it into nuclear blasts. He can also fly.

The "shark teeth" that Patty finds contain human DNA.

Like Professor Stein, Henry Hewitt requires a grounding agent to remain stable after his latent powers are activated.

Professor Stein develops a 142 degree temperature, though the exact scale is not noted. Caitlin notes that he's going into rapid oxidation and requires some kind of coolant.

Caitlin compares Hewitt to a tokamak - a controlled fusion device used to contain plasma within a magnetic field, which becomes more unstable as it becomes more powerful. This leads to her suggesting they make Hewitt so angry that he literally blows a fuse.

Dialogue Triumphs

Barry: (Opening Voice Over) Everyone secretly thinks they've figured out what their life is going to be like. But what no one ever considers is that Life has its own plans for you, whether you like them or not. And so you're left with a choice. You can either embrace the change and move forward. Or fight it and be left behind.

(Upon Barry's return with blood samples from Henry Hewitt and Jefferson Jackson)
Cisco: Damn!  That was fast, even for you!
Barry: (wincing) I may have skipped the "asking for permission" part.

Iris: I'm sure that you've been through a great deal. And I can appreciate you feeling like this is suddenly the right time for you to want me in your life. But that doesn't mean that it's the right time for me.
Joe: Iris...
Iris: No, Dad. It's okay. I've thought about this a lot. And it wasn't fair for me to make you the bad guy. (turns back to Francine) So I want you to hear this from me. I don't hate you, Francine. I do wish you well. But we have lived separate lives for over twenty years. Let's keep it that way.

Patty: I'm not really good at lying.
Joe: Well, you'd better learn. Quick.

Caitlin: Professor Stein is getting worse. And Hewitt's like this because of me. And now Jefferson Jackson will never come back because of what i said about him. I just... didn't believe that he had what it takes!
Barry: This isn't because you didn't believe in him. Sometimes great possibilities are right in front of us and we don't see them because we choose not to. I think that... we need to be open to exploring something new.

Caitlin: My husband, Ronnie? He used to be Professor Stein's other half. He actually helped build the Particle Accelerator and when it exploded he was affected by it too. Ironically, that's how he got the chance to show the world what he was truly capable of. And he died saving this city.
Jefferson: Wait - he was that guy who flew into the black hole?  That was him?
Caitlin: He was a hero. You can be one too.
Jefferson: I never wanted to be a hero! What I wanted was to go to college, but we couldn't afford it. Football was my way in...until that got taken from me.
Caitlin: I know. Look, I know The Particle Accelerator took something from you but it also gave you something in return. Something even more spectacular - the opportunity to be part of something bigger. To be part of a team that's working to protecting people from losing what you lost. I believe you were meant to be a hero.

Jefferson: Well, like my coach always said - "Out of yourself and into the team".

(After Jefferson and Professor Stein merge)
Caitlin: Jax? Is Professor Stein...?
Jefferson: How will I know?
Professor Stein: (Voice Over)  Hello Jefferson. Now you know.
Jefferson: Woah! So I get Grey as my co-pilot?
Professor Stein: (Voice Over) Did no one ever inform you of that fringe benefit?

Professor Stein: If I may offer a bit of parting advice? Cisco, I know you're scared. But this ability you have is a gift, not a curse. It's naturally to be apprehensive about the unknown but look at Jefferson. He took a leap and it changed his life for the better. The very thing that makes you different is what makes you special.  Tell your friends.

Barry: Things aren't always what they seem. Our fears can play tricks on us, making us afraid to change course. Afraid to move on. But usually, hidden behind our fears, our second chances waiting to be seized...
(Cut to Caitlin updating her file on Firestorm to change Ronnie's name to Jefferson's)
Barry: Second chances at life...
(Cut to Jefferson, as Firestorm, flying and whooping in sheer joy)
Barry: At glory....
(Cut to Iris, sitting on a couch, looking sad)
Barry: At family...
(Cut to The Flash, stopping and watching Patty at CC Jitters, through the window)
Barry: At love. And these opportunities don't come around every day. So when they do we have to be brave, take a chance, and grab them while we can.
(As Barry thinks this, a large, clawed hand reaches out and grabs his head, as we pull back to reveal a giant man-shark creature) 


Cisco refers to the events of 122 and how they tapped most of energy in the power cell from Eobard Thawne's wheelchair making a dampening field to contain the metahumans they'd been holding. That same cell is used to craft a new stabilizer for Professor Wells, which Cisco is able to turn into a "power cane".

Iris' favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip.

Jefferson Jackson is apparently prone to allergies, as he keeps over-the-counter 4 hr. allergy pills with his kit in his garage.

The motto of the Physics Department of Hudson University is"Vector, Variance, Hypotenuse, Proton, Neutron, Go H.U."

Dr. Tina McGee makes her first appearance since 118.

Dr. McGee makes reference to still needing to find a replacement for Dr. Snow (i.e. Caitlin) who had started working for Mercury Labs during the break between Season One and Season Two but quit to rejoin STAR Labs in 201.

Dr. McGee makes reference to Eddie Thawne's death and knows about how he was romantically involved with Iris West. She says that she admires Joe West's gift for discretion, which is why she asked for him to handle the report regarding her burglary.

Dr. McGee identifies her burglar as Harrison Wells, but notes that not only was he alive and well but he was walking again. This confirms that Harrison Wells' "death" at the end of Season One is public knowledge and that McGee does not know that Wells was really Eobard Thawne.

Francine West claims to be suffering from MacGregor's. This is the same syndrome that William Tockman a.k.a. The Clock King from A214 had. She claims to have felt weak, says the disease is common among ex-addicts and says she won't live longer than a year.

Cisco officially calls Barry's special treadmill "The Cosmic Treadmill".

Henry Hewitt had a sealed police record. Apparently he had been charged on one count of battery and two counts of aggravated assault and been sentenced to anger-management therapy.

Jax calls Professor Stein "Grey".

Cisco is now a skilled enough hacker to break into sealed police records and to shut down sections of the city's power grid.

Francine West gave birth eight months after she left Iris and Joe. Iris tells her to stay out of her and Joe's lives because the news that he might have had a son who grew up without him would destroy him.

Hewitt's powers are said to have burned out and he is locked up in The Pipeline until he agrees to keep quiet about what happened.

Professor Stein and Jefferson leave at the end of the episode to meet with Stein's wife, Clarissa, in Pittsburgh, where they'll meet up with the colleague Stein mentioned in 114 as possibly being able to help Ronnie and Stein in mastering their powers. He does not name this colleague but does confirm it is a woman.

Caitlin gives Jefferson a compass that used to belong to Ronnie.

In the episode's end, Barry is attacked by a shark-man and Patty fights the creature as well, only for it to be brought down by an exotic weapon wielded by a man who looks like Harrison Wells.

The Fridge Factor

Caitlin is portrayed as far more eager and naive than usual in this episode, instantly spilling the beans on the secrets of STAR Labs and Firestorm's secret identity to Henry Hewitt.

The Bottom Line

Darn near flawless. It's a little repetitive, covering a lot of the same ground as the original Firestorm origin last season. But Jefferson Jackson is an engaging new protagonist and his story is a good one. This episode's closing sequence may be the best in the show's history. And just when you think it can't get better, King Shark shows up!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 1 - Pilot

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


24 years ago, Kara Zor-El was sent to Earth from the planet Krypton to look after her baby cousin, Kal-El, in the wake of their planet's destruction. But something went wrong and Kara's rocket became trapped in The Phantom Zone. It eventually escaped, but also opened the way for Fort Rozz - a Kryptonian prison containing the worst criminals in the universe - to follow her to Earth. She was found by Kal-El - known to the world as Superman - and entrusted to the care of The Danvers Family.

Now, 12 years later, Kara lives in National City, employed as a personal assistant to media mogul Cat Grant. It isn't a bad life but Kara feels like she should be using her powers to follow Superman's example rather than staying hidden, as her adoptive sister Alex suggests. But when Alex's plane is wrecked by a bomb, Kara throws herself into action and assumes her heroic destiny.


Action Comics #252 (first appearance of Kara Zor-El), Action Comics #279 (First appearance of The Danvers family), Superman/Batman: Supergirl (first revised origin of Supergirl), the DC Comics series Chase (development of the DEO as a group), Superman: The Movie (Kara's saving a plane and Vartox's method of getting her attention) and The Devil Wears Prada (basic set-up of Kara's job, and the boss character provides the personality for the DCTVU version of Cat Grant).


In the opening narration, Kara says that Krypton was destroyed 24 years ago. She then spent 24 years in The Phantom Zone before being found by Kal-El. Shouldn't she have said Krypton was destroyed 35 years ago, since she's been on Earth for 12 years at this point?

So Superman has never checked up on Kara in person in the last decade? She asks Jimmy what he is like... so logically she must not have seen him at all since she was 13?  What a dick!

Granting that the DEO have never been a bastion of competence in the comics, the version we see here seem to be even worse. They've apparently known about Kara and her powers for years and done nothing about her for good or ill.  Given Henshaw's obvious fear of aliens of any kind, it seems shocking that he wouldn't have brought Kara in for experimentation and he clearly doesn't trust Alex enough to leave her sister alone out of respect. Yet once they are given a superhuman who is willing to work with them who would be capable - with guidance and knowledge - of being able to deal with nearly any of the threats they are afraid of, Henshaw dismisses her and tells her to stick to fetching coffee!  What an idiot!

On that note, Henshaw says the DEO's job is to cover up the existence of aliens on Earth. What's the point in doing that if Superman is operating publicly and everyone knows he's from another planet?

For that matter, the DEO sucks as a covert organization. Henshaw mocks the subtly of a flying woman in a bright red skirt yet the DEO has helicopters launching explosive missiles next to a power plant in the middle of the day as part of their efforts to stop Vartox!

If being called Supergirl in the press really bothers Kara that much, why doesn't she go to another media outlet, give them an exclusive and say that she's Superwoman?


Melissa Benoist is perfectly cast as Kara, playing her perfectly as a geeky but well-meaning heroine who shows her steel when push comes to shove.

Mehcad Brooks is a perfect Jimmy - er - James Olsen, projecting the character's optimism with every smile and affirming statement.


The special effects are on-par with what we see on The Flash and quite impressive for a television series budget. The sequence in which Supergirl saves the plane is particularly noteworthy.

Super Trivia

Kara's background on the show most closely emulates her origin in the most recent retellings of Supergirl's origins from the comics

In Action Comics #252, it was revealed that the Kryptonian city of Argo City was able to survive the destruction of the planet, encased within a force-field which clung to a meteor that was formed by the planet's explosion. Eventually, the lead shielding protecting the city failed and Argo City's chief scientist, Zor-El, sent his daughter to Earth in a rocket, having somehow learned of the Kryptonian hero Superman.

In Superman/Batman: Supergirl, things were modified so that Kara escaped Krypton at the same time as Kal-El, but her ship became encased in a Kryptonite meteor that eventually reached Earth over a decade after Clark had established himself as Superman. This time Clark entrusted Kara to Ma and Pa Kent, who were still alive in this reality.

In the current Supergirl series, Kara Zor-El was once again sent to Earth to look after her baby cousin. This time, however, she was clearly an older teen - perhaps 18 - when she arrived and she set about looking after herself and establishing her own life on Earth, independent of her cousin.

Kara describes The Phantom Zone as a region in space where time doesn't pass. In the comics, The Phantom Zone is typically portrayed as another dimension outside the usual boundaries of Space and Time. However, Krypton in the comics - much like Krypton in the show - made use of The Phantom Zone as a prison. Those who are trapped in The Phantom Zone are able to perceive the physical world but are unable to interact with it.

In Action Comics #252, Superman quickly realized that Kara was his first cousin but - being unable to care for her himself without attracting suspicion (in that day and age, a bachelor like Clark Kent couldn't be expected to take care of a teenage girl!) - he dropped her off at an orphanage, where she was eventually adopted by The Danvers in Action Comics #279.

In the comics, The Danvers were named Fred and Edna. Fred was a cop and Edna a homemaker.

In the DCTVU, The Danvers are named Jeremiah and Eliza. They are both scientists and they reportedly helped Superman to gain control of his powers in the DCTVU.

Jeremiah Danvers is played by actor Dean Cain, who played Superman in the TV series Lois and Clark.

Eliza Danvers is played by actor Helen Slater, who played Supergirl in the 1984 Supergirl movie.

The Danvers' daughter's name is Alex. Or "A Lex" as in Lex Luthor - the traditional enemy of Superman and all Kryptonian heroes. Alex's relationship with Kara starting out is rather adversarial, discouraging her from heroism out of fear that the existence of a Supergirl somehow diminishes her accomplishments... much as Lex Luthor is jealous of Superman.

In the comics, Catherine "Cat" Grant was originally a gossip columnist for The Daily Planet. She briefly dated Clark Kent and had a reputation for being flirtatious and provocative, causing nearly as many scandals as she reported.

Before the New 52 reboot, Cat Grant developed an adversarial relationship with Supergirl, due to a perceived lack of respect and her accidental injury during a metahuman fight Supergirl had trouble containing. Cat started a slander campaign and turned many people in Metropolis against the Girl of Steel.

Winslow "Winn" Schott shares a name with the DC Comics villain Toyman. In the comics, Schott is a sociopath and technological genius who developed a number of lethal weapons disguised as ordinary toys, which he used in committing his crimes. Among these crimes were the murder of Cat Grant's young son. Here, he's an IT guy at CatCo.

In a nod to his comic book counterpart, Winn's desk at CatCo is covered with toys and action figures.

James "Jimmy" Olsen is famous even to non-comics readers as Superman's Pal. He says he prefers to be addressed as James, allowing only his mother and Superman to call him Jimmy. Here, he is a Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer and the new art director for CatCo, having just left his job with The Daily Planet.

In the comics, James Olsen won The Pulitzer for his work during the Infinite Crisis story line. In the DCTVU, he won it for taking the first picture of Superman.

Apparently Superman has taken an more hands-off approach to his cousin than he did even in The Silver Age, with Kara asking Jimmy Olsen what he is like. In The Silver Age comics, Superman left Kara in an orphanage but he checked in on her regularly and trained her to use her powers personally, only revealing her to the world once she was ready and had a stable home.

As in the comics, Kara uses glasses and a mousy personality as a disguise in her secret identity. Jimmy comments that she looks a little like Superman right around the eyes.

There is no indication that Kara knows that Clark Kent is Superman. Indeed, the name Clark Kent is not mentioned anywhere in this episode.

Saving a flying vehicle from crashing in your first public appearance is something of a Super-family tradition. Superman did it twice in his first night on the job in Superman: The Movie, saving Lois Lane's helicopter and Air Force One in two separate incidents. He saved an experimental space plane in the 1987 comic series Man of Steel and saved a passenger jet in Superman: The Animated Series. He also saved an airplane in his first public appearance upon his return to Earth in Superman Returns.
One of the news reporters covering the plane rescue describes Kara as " a guardian angel". In the 1990s, Supergirl was given a new origin where she was a literal guardian angel.

The Otto Binder Bridge - which Kara damages while trying to save the airplane - is named in honor of Otto Binder - the writer who created Supergirl.

Supergirl is described as being 5'9". This is taller than her height in the pre-Crisis comics (5'7") and post-Crisis comics (5'5")

The reptilian criminal Vartox is quite different from his comic book counterpart. Here, Vartox is a murderous thug, who appears to be Kara's superior in terms of strength and durability.

In the comics, Vartox was a hero and an ally of Superman.  Another lone survivor of an alien species who gained fantastic powers on his adopted home world, Vartox was described by Superman as a much more experienced hero, who had been saving the universe since he was a super-tot. Vartox was on par with Superman in terms of strength and durability, but possessed many powers Superman did not, such as telekinesis and the ability to temporarily transfer his powers to other people.

Kara's mother, Alura Zor-El, is usually referred to in the comics by her maiden name, Alura In-Ze. In the reality of the DCTVU, Alura was somehow responsible for the imprisonment of the criminals incarcerated in Fort Rozz in The Phantom Zone, being described by Vartox as "judge and jailer".

Alura was a much more sinister figure in the comics.  Like Kara, she survived Krypton's destruction, eventually being found by the malevolent computer Brainiac and trapped in Kandor - a Kryptonian city Brainiac had stolen and shrunk.  Superman eventually rescued the city and found a way to restore it.  Alura became the leader of a faction of Kryptonians who wished to build a new Krypton rather than adapt to life on Earth. This would eventually lead to a war between New Krypton and Earth, with Superman stuck in the middle.

The costumes that Kara tries before deciding on her final costume are based on various designs Supergirl wore at various points in the comics, with her skirt-length varying over the years. The hot-pants and belly-shirt combo she starts out in combines two impractical pieces - the hot-pants bottom of her costume in the '70s and the belly-bearing tops of the '90s and '00s.

The bank robbery Kara stops is at the corner of 6th and Sprang. This is a reference to comics artist Dick Sprang, who is probably most famous for his work on Batman in the 1950s. Sprang was also the artist who designed the costume of the first Supergirl back in Superman #123, though that Supergirl was an imaginary being wished into existence by Jimmy Olsen. Still, that story proved popular enough to fuel demand for a reoccurring Supergirl character and Sprang's design provided a template for Action Comics artist Al Plastino in creating Kara Zor-El.

As in the comics, the symbol on Supergirl's chest is not a stylized 'S' but the coat of arms of the House of El.

The fire Kara is en route to when she is captured by the DEO is located on the corner of Gates and Igle.  This is a reference to writer Sterling Gates and artist Jamal Igle, who created what are probably the most beloved Supergirl comics in recent memory.

The Department of Extranormal Operations or DEO is based on an organization from the DC Comics Universe. First appearing in Batman #550, the DEO were a government organization devoted towards monitoring and investigating metahumans and metahuman activities. The DCTVU version is exclusively focused on extra-terrestrials and was apparently founded in response to the appearance of Superman and the revelation that aliens exist.

Hank Henshaw is quite different from his comic book counterpart as well.  In the DCTVU, he is leader of the DEO and appears to come from a military background. In the comics, Hank Henshaw was a scientist and astronaut, who gained strange technopathic powers after his shuttle crashed. Blaming Superman for the death of his wife, Henshaw used his ability to manipulate machines to construct a new body out of robotic parts and Kryptonian DNA and sought revenge as The Cyborg Superman.

Fort Rozz was originally a Kryptonian military installation in the pre-Crisis comics. In more recent comics, it was a holding area for those criminals sentenced to be sent into The Phantom Zone until an accident with an exploding projector caused the entire prison to be sent into The Phantom Zone.  Once there, the prison existed as an anomaly within The Phantom Zone, where those who entered it once again had mass and felt the passage of time.

The high-frequency broadcasting device Vartox uses to call out to Kara is reminiscent of a similar device used by Lex Luthor in Superman:The Movie to contact Superman.

Kara rips open her shirt to reveal the S-shield on her chest. This is one of the oldest of superhero tropes.

As in the comics, Kara's x-ray vision cannot see through lead-lined objects.  Vartox is smart enough to take advantage of this fact in his choice of battleground. However, he forgets that Kara's hearing is good enough to hear his heart beat at close range. Superman used this same trick to confront a similarly clever criminal in the My Girl episode of Superman: The Animated Series.

When given the box with her mother's message by Alex, Kara comments that the box is covered in Kryptonese writing. While the comics have varied on whether or not the language of Krypton is called Kryptonian or Kryptonese, most Super-fans consider Kryptonese to be more properly correct. This is due to editor E. Nelson Birdwell creating a fictional language he dubbed Kryptonese, after growing annoyed with fan attempts to translate the random scribblings used to denote the language of Krypton at that time. The language was revised twice - once in 1986 and once again in the 2000s. A separate Kryptonese language was created for the movie Man of Steel.

The axe Vartox uses is reminiscent of The Atomic Axe wielded by the Legion of Superheroes villain called The Persuader.

Winn refers to himself and Kara as the Superfriends. This is a reference to the classic 1970s cartoon series starring Superman.

James gives Kara a gift from Superman - one of his old baby blankets to make a new cape. In the comics, Superman's costume was made from his baby blankets, which were made of a cloth that was nearly indestructible.


Krypton is 2000 light years away from Earth. To put that in perspective, the closest star to Earth's sun - Proxima Centauri - is 4.24 light years away.

Winn designs the second cape for Kara's costume out of a structured polymer composite after her first cape proves to not be bulletproof.

The DEO uses restraints made of low-grade Kryptonite than can weaken Kara without killing her.They also apparently have a sedative laced with Kryptonite that can be used to knock Kara out along with some kind of hypodermic needle dart capable of piercing her skin.

Alex Danvers has a background in bio-engineering. This somehow makes her an expert on alien physiology.

The device Vartox uses to contact Kara broadcasts on a frequency of 50,000 htz. This is 2.5 times higher than the highest frequency a human ear can hear.

Vartox's axe has a unique nuclear thumbprint. It is powered by a self-generating atomic-charge which reaches temperatures up to 2500 degrees. If it becomes hotter than that, it will explode.

Dialogue Triumphs

(In response to Kara's asking what Superman is like)
He is... everything you want him to be and more.

(describing what flying feels to Alex)
Kara: ... scared but good scared. Like.. like that moment right before you kiss someone for the first time!

Kara: I've always felt the need to help people and tonight I finally got that chance. I didn't travel 2,000 light years just to be an assistant.

Kara: Clever. Picking a spot lined with lead. But I can still hear your heart beat.

Vartox: On my planet, females bow before males!
Kara: This is not your planet!

Alura: Kara, my brave daughter. By now you have become the woman I knew you would grow up to be. And though you were sent to Earth to protect young Kal-El, your destiny is not tied to his. There is no correct path in life. You will lose your way many times. What is important is that you find your way back to the brave girl you always were. Be wise. Be strong. And always be true to yourself.

Kara: I was sent here to protect my cousin. Turns out he didn't need my protection. But there is a whole planet full of people who do. Earth doesn't have just one hero anymore. Now it has me. Now it has Supergirl.

Dialogue Disasters

Cat Grant's "what's so bad about being a girl?" speech, which is so painfully bad I can't bring myself to transcribe it.


Kara was 13 when she left Krypton. She's been on Earth for 12 years.

This would make Superman 36 years old, given that he was 24 when he found her.

Kara reveals her secret identity to Winn Schott.

Kara's heat vision glows blue rather than red and can generate temperatures of at least 2500 degrees.

Vartox kills himself rather than be captured.

James Olsen was told about Kara by Superman. He too knows her secret identity.

The General who is coming to Earth is apparently Kara's aunt.

The Fridge Factor

Averted with gusto for the most part, though there are a few crisis-of-faith moments where Kara needs a pep-talk to go on.  Thankfully, these pep-talks come from Alex and Alura rather than a male character and Kara actively tells off the men who try to tell her what to do.

The Bottom Line

When Supergirl tries to be a superhero show, it's very good. The rest of the time... it's difficult to sit through. Still, this is a pilot and they're still working the kinks out. Maybe things will be better now that we don't have to listen to Cat Grant justifying why calling someone a girl isn't sexist and Henshaw is actually inclined to utilize a good resource. In any case, there's enough right with the show to be hopeful for the future.

Supergirl Episode Guide - Format Key

For The Supergirl Episode Guide, I'll be using a slightly modified version of the same key I use for The Arrow Episode Guide and The Flash Episode Guide, which in turn are based off of what I think is the finest episode guide ever written - Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping.

Here is the rundown.

Plot: A quick summary of the main story.

Influences: Specific media which may have inspired or otherwise influenced a particular episode.

Goofs: Holes in the plot, visible wires during the stunts and other things that don't work the way they should.

The actors and their craft - how well the characters are played, ignoring how that character may have been differently portrayed in another story.

Anything on the technical side of things that is notably well-handled, such as set-design, lighting, sound effects, cinematography, etc.

Super Trivia:
Random things of interest and references to the comics.

Pseudoscience terminology used to justify the unlikely and/or impossible things that sometimes happen in superhero shows.

Dialogue Triumphs:
Anything the characters say that make you want to put on a cape and fight for justice!

Dialogue Disasters:
Anything the characters say that make you roll your eyes or snort in disbelief.

Direct references to previous episodes.

 Anyplace the story is set apart from the usual locales.

Untelevised Adventures:
Stories that take place off camera, but are referred to.

The Fridge Factor:
How badly the female characters on the show are manipulated by the story in order to make the male characters look better.

The Kryptonite Factor:
How badly are the heroes manipulated to look incompetent and badly trained compared to whatever villain they are facing off against. Named in honor of the infamous element used whenever a Super-writer is having a hard time justifying why the villain is a threat.

The Bottom Line:
Is it good or bad? Why is it good or bad? How can they make it better/not make it worse?

The Astonishing Ant-Man #1

Scott Lang's life sucks. His new security business is in the toilet, only hanging on thanks to the increasingly thin generosity of a Golden Age heroine who owed him a favor. And thanks to Scott's efforts to keep his daughter safe by staying out of her life following a kidnapping attempt by his arch-enemy, she's turned on him too.

But things are never so bad that they can't get worse. Because Scott's latest big break into Miami's security market is in peril thanks to the efforts of his ex-wife's new husband. And Scott's arch-enemy - now in possession (if not control) of size-changing powers of his own - has chosen Scott as the target of a demo for a new smart-phone app aimed at the corrupt businessman on-the-go, who needs to hire mercenary super-villains to deal with those meddling do-gooders in a hurry.

Ant-Man is back and as hysterically, horribly funny as ever!  Nick Spencer packs humor into every page of his scripts and this remains one of the funniest books on the market today. Yet there is also pathos and it is hard not to be touched by Scott's plight as he watches his daughter's basketball games in a shrunken size, determined not to miss a moment of her growing up even if he can't safely be in her life.

The artwork aids in the comedic timing of the issue.  Ramon Rosanas does not go out of his way to create funny imagery, merely drawing the action as would be natural and allowing the absurdity of the Marvel Universe played straight to reveal itself. And the colors by Jordan Boyd leave everything looking fantastic.

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #13 - A Review

The Doctor and Clara have returned to Earth just in time for an invasion by the Hyperions. They've fought these living suns before but it took all of their collective cunning to deal with one of them when they had the element of surprise on their side. Even the full resources of UNIT and the power of the office of President of The Earth may not be enough to get them out of this one...

Reading a Robbie Williams Doctor Who story is always a treat. His work on The Tenth Doctor series was a perfect encapsulation of the David Tennant era of Doctor Who and his run here is proving to be equally adept in portraying The Doctor of Series 8. The Hyperions are a worthy addition to The Doctor's rogues' gallery and many of the sequences - such as The Doctor's appointing Clara Minister of Hugs and ordering the execution of an annoying politician who suggests surrendering to The Hyperions - are hilarious.

Daniel Indro's artwork is a little busy at times and his inks can be a little too thick. Then we get sequences like the above page - in which The Doctor explains the menace of the Hyperions - and you marvel at his ability to fit such fine detail into such a relatively small space. The colors by Slamet Mujiono are skillfully applied as well.

Black Canary #5 - A Review

Normally I start my reviews with a set-up for the media in question. A plot summary, more often than not. I can't do that with Black Canary #5, however, because there's no plot to speak of. In fact, looking back on the past issues, I realize that there hasn't been a lot going on overall. Events occur but there's very little rhyme or reason behind any of it and there are more mysteries than there are solid facts.

Most of this issue is devoted toward the characters discussing all the mysteries but no progress being made on any of the on-going story-lines.  There's the mystery of who the mute guitarist Ditto is, what connection she has to the government group that gave Dinah her sonic scream power and what any of this has to do with Dinah's amnesic ex-husband and the second group that he's apparently part of now that is also interested in Ditto.

This issue reveals two new mysteries - the revelation that Dinah's entire family died under strange circumstances when she was young and the idea that, somehow, her record label is involved in all of this madness as well and that Dinah's discovery as a singing talent was no accident. And all of these mysteries ignore further mysteries such as who is the white-clad ninja woman who saved Ditto in the last issue and spends this issue trying to steal Dinah's blood in the issue's one action sequence?

All this ambiguity might be tolerable if the characters were at least interesting. Unfortunately, they aren't. Dinah's band-mates all have the personality of dishwater and Dinah herself is a total cipher beyond being the standard "tough chick". At first I thought writer Brenden Fletcher had been trying to keep this book free of any previous continuity but now I find myself wondering if he had any direction from editorial for this book other than "Black Canary becomes a punk singer" or if there is any eventual direction for where any of this is going.

At least the artwork is good, even if there's precious little action for it to depict. The talents of Pia Guerra of Y: The Last Man fame are completely wasted here. Sandy Jarrell closes the book out in a memorable fashion with Lee Loughridge offering up the usual stellar color art.

The Tithe #6 - A Review

Tensions continue to mount around the country, as random citizens begin attacking Muslims in the wake of a bombing that totaled St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. The violence hits home for FBI Agent Dwayne Campbell, whose daughter converted to Islam years earlier and is arrested after helping defend a local store owner from bigots. But things are about to get worse as a second bombing destroys the largest Mormon church in San Diego and a terrorist group known as the Brotherhood of The Islamic Crescent takes credit for it.

There's just one problem. Apart from a series of YouTube videos, The Brotherhood of The Islamic Crescent doesn't exist!  There's no other evidence of them in the physical world or the virtual one. And the trail of Muslim teens in America leading from the boy who supposedly plotted the first bombing doesn't lead to any hard evidence - only more suspicion.

Matt Hawkins' writing continues to impress. As before, Hawkins takes care to depict his characters as three-dimensional beings who are not inherently flawed or gifted.  Agent Campbell is perhaps the best example of this, being comparable to Henry Drummond from Inherit The Wind - a man of principle who does his job in spite of his beliefs, who does not view people as enemies just because they disagree with him. Not only do we see Campbell reconciling his personal faith with those who have apparently turned to violence to express theirs but we also see him trying to mediate between his Muslim daughter and Christian wife.

The artwork by Phillip Sevy and Rahsan Ekedal proves the equal of Hawkins' writing. There is little in the way of action in The Tithe but the visuals remain interesting as the point-of-view varies from panel to panel.  This helps to maintain visual interest even when most of the story is made up of conversations between talking heads.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Two #2 - A Review

The world of Wupatki is in peril! A musical virus has infected the sentient songs known as The Shan'Tee and now the first human has been infected by the deadly plague. As The Doctor ventures into space to track the source of the disease, his companion Gabby Gonzales must help to find a cure... even as the city around her begins to crumble!

What Nick Abadzis has done with this series is nothing short of a miracle. This is the essence of The David Tennant era of Doctor Who made manifest. This story is one of the most imaginative and creative I've ever seen told with The Doctor, perfectly capturing the spirit of the show and taking full advantage of the comics medium.

Abadzis' scripts are aided in this miracle by some amazing artwork. Eleonora Carlini captures David Tennant's likeness. More importantly, she perfectly portrays such amazing concepts as sentient synthensia sensations. Try saying that three times fast!

Secret Six #7 - A Review

There is a kinship between magicians that goes beyond simple matters of Good and Evil. For there are things beyond imagination that seek entrance into our reality and it is the responsibility of all those who draw upon mystic powers to fight such beings and those who might aid them. To that end, an enclave was called to deal with a matter most pressing - a drain upon the force of magic itself that, if not dealt with, could lead to the destruction of all reality!

This drain, it turns out, is Lori Zechlin - a.k.a. the magical parasite known as Black Alice. And as most of her allies in The Secret Six work at Catman's attempt at a team-building exercise (i.e. basketball and mini-golf), a group of magical heroes and villains are converging on the hospital where Black Alice is near death. But The Six do not stand alone, for The Demon Etrigan seeks to aid them...though for what reasons no one can begin to guess!

There almost seem to be two comics in this issue and I love them both. The bits with Catman trying to get the team to bond are vintage Simone, with sufficient slapstick and ribaldry to satisfy most appetites. The other half of the book seems like something from a lost issue of Shadowpact. Yet there is some subtle humor here, with Klarion The Witch Boy and Cheetah attempting to sneak into a hospital unnoticed yet still bothering to bring a plant and a balloon to blend in. 

The artwork is as fine as ever. Both Dale Eaglesham and Tom Derenick do their usual stellar jobs on the pencils and inks in their respective sections. And the colors by Jason Wright leave the finished artwork jumping off the page.

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #4 - A Review

The Doctor, Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness find themselves trapped in a battle between two alien races. On one side are the centaurian Unon, who have appointed themselves as the guardians of Time in the wake of the The Time War. On the other are the power-suit wearing Lect, who seek to plunder all of history.

It's a battle The Doctor would be reluctant to get involved in even if Rose weren't currently a captive of the Lect and the Unon totally indifferent to saving her. Unfortunately, the Unon are rightly concerned about an temporal storm that threatens trillions of lives. And before The Doctor and Jack can do anything about saving Rose, first they'll have to assist the Unon.

Cavan Scott's scripts perfectly capture the spirit of all the characters involved. This truly does feel like a lost episode of The First Series of Doctor Who. The only vexing thing about this issue is that there is so little of Rose in it and she has been reduced to the usual companions' role of chief hostage.

The artwork is not so bad here as it was in previous issues but the bloom effects used by Blair Shedd during the finishing process continue to be the comic's weak spot. Indeed, a feature in the back of the book - showing the artwork at different stages in the creation process - confirms that the color art by Anang Setyawan looks great up until the addition of glowing digital effects. At least The Doctor no longer appears as if he's on the verge of regenerating on each panel but a more natural look would be better, I think.

Sam Wilson: Captain America #1 - A Review

Confession time, kids. I've never been a big Captain America fan.

I don't dislike Captain America. I just never really connected with Steve Rogers the same way I did Peter Parker or Dick Grayson. I preferred heroes I could relate to rather than ideals to live up to.

As such, the new Sam Wilson: Captain America title didn't hold much interest for me. Most of the Marvel Now! campaign has left me cold and the idea of Sam Wilson taking up Steve Rogers' shield just seemed like a cheap publicity stunt. It was the sort of event that would be quickly ended as soon as the next Captain America movie hit the big-screen.

Then the controversy started. And various media outlets began waxing wroth about this book. And it wasn't because of a black man bearing Captain America's shield.

No, it was because this Captain America marched in a gay pride parade. And sympathized with the Black Lives Matter movement. And dared to stand against a white-supremacist group that was killing people they suspected of being illegal immigrants along the United States' southern border.

This is hilarious to me on multiple levels. Any reputable scholar of American comic book history can tell you that Captain America's origins are steeped in New Deal liberalism. Steve Rogers was the original social justice warrior, punching Nazis not because they were enemies of America but because they were enemies of everything America stood for - Freedom, Equality and Justice.

Here's a fun fact - the famous cover of Captain America #1 where Steve Rogers is punching Hitler? That came out a year before the USA joined World War II. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby got death threats from conservative groups such as The German-American Bund because of it. In fact, the Timely Comics offices received so many bomb threats that New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia saw fit to give Captain America's creators round-the-clock police protection.

So if anyone tells you that Captain America has always been a proponent of conservative values - at least what we define today as conservative values - they're ignorant at best and disingenuous at worse. Yes, Captain America always tried to uphold the Law of the Land. But when the law conflicted with the ideals America stood for, Captain America always backed the ideal. And it's hard to believe that anyone could defend the actions of The Sons Of The Serpent in this issue - threatening unarmed civilians with torture and death - as being in line with any system of morality worthy of consideration.

Politics aside, this is a damn good comic.  Nick Spencer's script quickly establishes the new status quo for Captain America, who is now free of SHIELD and free of direct government influence over his actions. Daniel Acuna is a fantastic visual storyteller and the action of the story flows naturally from panel to panel.

I'm not sure if I'll keep picking this book up. I'm still not that big of a Captain America fan. But this issue did make me think and lead me to a greater appreciation of what the character and The American Dream means. And that's something I can't say about a lot of modern comics.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 3 - Restoration

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


The tension between Oliver and John endangers them both, as Damien Darhk employs a metahuman known as Double Down to deal with The Green Arrow as John goes off alone to chase a lead on the woman who paid to have his brother killed. Meanwhile, Laurel and Thea make a secret trip to Nanda Parbat to resurrect Sara in the Lazarus Pit. They expected resistance from Malcolm Merlyn but are surprised to find themselves opposed by Sara's former lover, Nyssa Al Ghul.


The Flash
and JSA comics of Geoff Johns (the technology of Curtis Holt and the character of Double Down) and Green Arrow: Year One (the flashback sequences on Lian Yu).


Why doesn't Diggle wear his helmet when he's conducting surveillance on Nina Fayad? He got his new costume for a reason...

Laurel describes Sara's behavior as being just like Thea's when she came out of the Lazarus Pit but how would she know? She wasn't there when Thea was revived and didn't even know about The Lazarus Pit until last week!

Why does Nyssa blame Laurel for Sara's resurrection? It was done by Malcolm's order and he did it only to soothe Thea's conscience. Laurel had nothing to do with it!

Why does Merlyn have Nyssa imprisoned rather than have her killed? She's made no bones about her desire to kill him and now he has caught her committing an actual act of treason that endangers the whole League of Assassins!


The interplay between Stephen Amell and David Ramsey is brilliant. I was afraid they were going to drag out the "Diggle doesn't trust Ollie" story-line forever and if it weren't for the chemistry between these two actors, the resolution here might seem a bit too pat.

Emily Bett Rickards is glorious as the new strong-willed and expressive Felicity. It's hard to imagine the shrinking violet of Season 2 standing up to Ollie and Diggle as she does here and her telling them to grow up and work out their problems is the high point of the episode.


The second-section action scenes with Ollie fighting Double Down and Diggle chasing after Nina Fayad are well-shot, well choreographed and edited together well.


In the comics, Double Down was originally a gambler and con-artist named Jeremy Tell. After losing all his money in a high-stakes game, Tell shot the winner. The other gambler turned out to be owner of a mystically enchanted deck of cards, which "attacked" Tell, slashing and burning at his skin until the cards replaced his skin. This left Tell with the ability to pull the cards out of his skin and throw them at people at incredibly velocity with enough force to cut human flesh. He also developed a limited ability to telepathically manipulate the cards once they left his body.

The DCTVU version of Double Down is a metahuman - a Central City native who was getting a tattoo at the time of The STAR Labs Particle Accelerator Explosion. His powers are otherwise the same, though the TV version seems to have some sixth-sense that allows him to find the pieces of himself should they be picked up and moved before he can retrieve them.

The new origin story given to Double Down is reminiscent of another DC Comics villain - The Tattooed Man - who discovered a psychically sensitive chemical he could use create actual physical objects. He used the chemicals as the base for a tattoo ink and was soon able to bring his tattoos to life.

In the comics, Double Down was fond of throwing phrases related to poker and blackjack into his banter. We see that in the script here, with several lines about "deals" and the phrase "call it a draw" among others.

Nina Fayad is said to have just flown into the United States from Markovia. Markovia is a fictional Western European country in the DC Universe and is home to the superhero GeoForce

The head guard showing Ollie the ropes in the flashback refers to the slave labor as "The Losers". The Losers is the name of a Vertigo comics series by Andy Diggle and Jock- the same creative team behind Green Arrow: Year One, which is a major inspiration for the current Lian Yu storyline.

The "autonomous communication device" that Curtis Holt is working looks just like one of Mister Terrific's T-Spheres. In the comics, the T-Spheres are floating electronic devices that Michael Holt programmed with a number of special abilities. The T-Spheres act as a communicator/recorder, project holograms and laser-grids and can be used to hack electronic devices remotely. They also allow Mister Terrific to fly by bearing his weight and can be used as offensive weaponry, being capable of administering electric shocks, acting as physical projectiles and even releasing controlled explosions.

Curtis notes the irony of Felicity's name, since it derives from the same root word as felicitous, which refers to the ability to choose the right words for any circumstance - something Felicity has trouble with. However, Felicity is usually translated to mean "good fortune" or "lucky".

Felicity has trouble with her phone throughout the episode, with random blue letters appearing on her smart phone screen. In the final instance of this happening, some of the letters turn red and spell out her name.  This may be the work of Ray Palmer who, as The Atom in the comics, had the ability to ride the electrons in a phone signal.


Felicity discovers that the HIVE agent they took the tooth from had only half the DNA markers that it should have. By all rights, the agent should have been a pile of goo.

The product being created by Baron Reiters men is called Slam - a drug that is the product of a genetically modified hybrid plant that is half heroin poppy and half coca leaf.

According to Merlyn, The Lazarus Pit contains traces of the souls of all the men and women who bathed in it and what the waters restore they can also take. This means that Thea must take life in order to calm the blood lust that now possesses her.

Curtis Holt develops contact lenses with built-in HD displays. Unfortunately, they are expensive at $100,000 per eye.

Holt also develops a spherical autonomous communication device. Unfortunately, the prototype has a problem with spontaneously exploding.

Felicity describes Double Down's card as being made of bio-organic material.

Curtis Holt determines that Double Down's cards contain motor proteins, proprioceptors and a neural net. They also contain Magnetite - the key component of tattoo ink. Magnetite is also used to guide the internal compass of birds - specifically homing pigeons. In theory the card could be used to track Double Down but Curtis finds it far more likely that whoever possessed the rest of the deck would be able to use it to track down the single card with much greater ease.

Dialogue Triumphs

Merlyn: I really enjoy sparring with you, Nyssa,
(The two exchange several sword strokes)
Nyssa: I'm not sparring
Merlyn: I know. That's what makes it so much fun.
(The two exchange several more sword strokes)
Nyssa: You know I would show you no mercy given the opportunity.
Merlyn: That's why I take great care not to give you the opportunity.

(After killing one of Darhk's men with his powers)
Double Down: That one was free. Taking out the Green Arrow and his friends?  That will cost.
Damien Darhk: Deal.

Felicity: Hold-ups are a little below your pay grade. Are you sure you don't want the SCPD to handle this one?
Ollie: How effective have the police been at solving the city's problems recently?
Felicity: That's a good point.

Ollie: It's been months, man. And I - I don't know how many apologies... John, you're a forgiving person -
John: Oliver, this isn't about forgiveness, man! I don't know how to move forward with this - us - doing what we do-
Ollie: We've worked fine since I got back!
John: We got lucky!  Oliver, there was a time I would have taken a bullet for you. And I don't know if I would do that now. Which means that even when we are out there, we are not out there together. You crossed the line, man! And the fact that you could do that again sits in the back of my head somewhere.
Ollie: I get it! I get it! I understand that I crossed the line! I understand that I lost your trust. What I do not understand why you will not give me a chance to earn it back!

(Darkh has just caught one of Double Down's cards with his telekinesis)
Damien Darkh: Miss Fayad, many members of HIVE, they consider me to be a... charlatan. But this? This is a parlor trick. Slight of hand.
(Darkh tosses the card into Miss Fayad's neck. He then resummons the card to his hand and throws it at Double Down, where it stops just shy of his neck)
Damien Darkh: This demonstration is for you, Mr. Tell. Just in case you have any doubt as to how I process disappointment.

John: You took a bullet for me.
Oliver: They were metahuman tattoo playing cards.
John: Still counts Oliver. Still counts.

Felicity: Well, you seem pretty calm for a guy who nearly got killed by a metahuman.
Curtis: Miss Smoak, I came to Palmer Tech so I could help make this city a better place. Can you even imagine to know how excited I am to know that my boss is doing exactly that?


John was an All-State Varsity Track runner in the 100 meters in high school.

Nyssa addresses Thea as "sister-in-law", referring to her marriage to Oliver in 322.

It is confirmed that Thea never died before coming to Nanda Parbat in 320 but she was very close to death.

Merlyn says that The Lazarus Pit - while being rumored to raise the dead - has not been used in such a way since ages long past. This is why Nyssa did not ask her father to use The Pit to resurrect Sara.

This indirectly confirms that Merlyn truly did fake his death in 123 rather than being revived in the Lazarus Pit in secret, as some fans theorized.

Felicity briefly considered becoming a dental hygienist.

The HIVE agents in Darhk's employ attach their cyanide-capsules to their upper left bicuspids.

Felicity suggests that she, Oliver and John go out to celebrate, like they did after taking down Dodger in 115.

The woman who hired Deadshot to kill Andy Diggle was a HIVE operative named Nina Fayad.

Damien Darhk is revealed to be one of many partners in HIVE.

Nyssa says that her father used The Lazarus Pit to prolong his life, but at a heavy cost.

Ollie failed high school biology.  Felicity got an A+.

Ironically, after the early part of Season One - where Oliver put her to work on various projects with half-assed lies before she found out about his secret identity - Felicity is now doing the same thing to Curtis Holt.

John finally tells Oliver about HIVE's connection to his brother's death.

John refers to the events of 206 in telling Oliver how Deadshot told him that HIVE was involved in his brother's death.

Oliver mentions how Ra's Al Ghul had described Darhk's followers as a hive, in 321.

HIVE is working on some secret project called Genesis and that they are about to enter Phase Three.

We see that the face-shielding tinted glass of Diggle's new helmet is retractable.

Curtis Holt and Double Down know that Felicity works with The Green Arrow and about the new Arrow Cave under the Palmer Technologies building.

Sara is resurrected by The Lazarus Pit but is left in a feral state, similar to Thea after she was restored by The Pit. She seems to possess some of her former memories, however, as she looks to Nyssa as she first emerges from the Pit before moving to attack Thea - i.e. her murderer.

Oliver admits that the name Team Arrow is starting to grow on him.

Double Down is transported to the new Metahuman wing at Iron Heights prison.

Oliver says he started work on a third Arrow Cave.

In the flashbacks, Oliver helps the woman who stole the Slam to escape into the forest.

Felicity keeps having trouble with her phone throughout the episode - random signals that show blue jumbles of symbols. The last time this happens, some red type appears in the middle of it and spells out her name.  (Best guess?  Ray Palmer is manipulating her phone signal at a microscopic level)

Nyssa destroys The Lazarus Pit and is imprisoned by Merlyn after she swears revenge on Laurel for what happened to Sara.


Nanda Parbat

The Fridge Factor

Laurel is next to useless in this episode, serving no real purpose that could not be better served in the story by Thea. In fact, apart from her one scene with Nyssa - which accomplishes nothing except reminding us Laurel exists - Laurel doesn't do anything in the whole episode. Yet somehow Nyssa blames her for Sara's resurrection even though Merlyn gave the order to let it happen and that was entirely for Thea's benefit. It's as if the writers are struggling for reasons for Laurel to remain relevant to the greater story of the show and I'm going to call this now - Laurel is the character who will be dead in six months time.

The Bottom Line

Once again the villain of the week falls flat.  It's curious - now that magic is on the table in the DCTVU - that they took a magical villain from the comics and turned him into a metahuman when his powers make little sense as an extension of a scientific accident.

Laurel and Thea continue to be the weak points of the series, with Willa Holland not quite being up to the task of playing a convincing berserker and Katie Cassidy being unable to convey any emotion beyond dull surprise. And yet  this episode largely works purely because of the charisma of everyone else.

John Barrowman and Katrina Law are always a delight, even if their character's motives don't make sense. Caity Lotz proves capable of expressing more with one smoldering gaze and a grunt than one would think possible. Amell and Ramsey get to resolidify the Ollie/Digg bromance. And Emily Bett Rickards steals the show as a more commanding and confident Felicity.

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 3 - Family of Rogues

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


When Len Snart (aka Captain Cold) is kidnapped, Lisa Snart has no choice but to turn to STAR Labs and The Flash for help. It turns out the situation is more complicated than that, with Captain Cold being blackmailed into helping his father with a heist. Meanwhile, Joe West's wife Francine has returned to Central City. This proves problematic as Joe told everyone that his wife - a drug addict who abandoned their family - had died tragically to avoid upsetting Iris. And as Professor Stein recovers from his sudden collapse, Jay Garrick begins work on a way home.


Various The Flash comics involving Captain Cold and Golden Glider, though the characterization seems based upon Geoff Johns' interpretation of Leonard Snart - particularly The Flash #182.


There's a lot of good duet scenes in this episode. Peyton List and Carlos Valdes have tremendous chemistry as Lisa and Cisco. Ditto Danielle Panabaker and Teddy Sears as Caitlin and Jay. And Shantel VanSanten is starting to grow on me as surely as Patty seems to be growing on Barry.

The verbal dialogues go beyond the romantic subplots, however. Unsurprisingly, Michael Ironside proves a suitable menacing foe as Lewis Snart and Wentworth Miller once again has a brilliant turn bringing Captain Cold to life. The two play off each other brilliantly as father and son. And it's always a treat to see Grant Gustin and Wentworth Miller lock horns as Barry and Len.

Vanessa Williams isn't in the episode long as Francine West but she does have a suitable presence for such an important character for what little time we see her. Hopefully we'll get to see more in the season to come.

Once again, Jesse L. Martin damn near steals the show with his scene trying to tell Iris the truth about her mother.


The opening sequence with Barry running to save Iris as she jumps out the window of a building as her investigation goes awry is a fun little sequence all around. The writing, the direction, the effects and the performances all work in tandem. One wishes that had done more scenes like this with Iris sooner.

In fact, the writing of this episode in general is very sharp, with a number of great dialogues and some very witty lines. Even the subplot with Joe's wife - while rehashing a lot of old territory with Joe learning he needs to be honest with his daughter - proves enjoyable since we see here that Joe actually is learning to trust in  Iris' maturity.

The use of music throughout the episode and the soundtrack are both good.

The scene with Cisco having a gun drawn on Lisa and Cold having a gun drawn on The Flash is very well directed.

Flash Facts

While the "superhero saves reporter love interest who jumps out a window" trope is more famously applied to Lois Lane and Superman, The Flash saving Iris West when she gets into a tight spot while chasing a story - as Barry does here - occurs just as often in the original The Flash comics.

CC Jitters makes a custom drink called The Flash. It's a brewed coffee with an extra shot or espresso.

While never being named in the original comics, Len and Lisa Snart's father was an abusive man who beat both his wife and children. Lisa and Len's mother was largely absent and Len all but raised his sister alone.

In the original comics, Mr. Snart was not a career criminal. He was an ex-cop, who lived off of disability. Reportedly he had been kicked out of the Central City Police Department after it was determined that he was drunk on duty during the incident where his partner was shot dead.

As in the comics, Mr. Snart violently beat his children in order to teach them a lesson. In The Flash #182, he specifically discourages them from telling anyone that they love them and that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. This explains Captain Cold's cool and detached persona.

As in the comics, Len Snart is violently protective of his sister and will break his usual rules against crimes of passion to see anyone who hurts her suffer.

This is not the first time Peyton List and Michael Ironside played father and daughter.  Ironside was General Sam Lane on the Smallville TV show, where Peyton List played Lucy Lane.

David Rutenberg's body is found in a Danville Meatpackers truck. Danville is the name of a middle-class district in Central City - the one Barry and Iris west lived in in the original Flash comics.

As the heist begins, the security guards are watching a team called The Diamonds playing another team called The Salamanders.  In the DC Comics Universe, The Diamonds are Central City's Major League Baseball franchise and The Salamanders are the franchise in Keystone City.

The Flash bypassing a security system by trying every possible combination on a keypad at super-speed is another classic trope from the comics.  So is a speedster catching a bullet at super-speed and pretending to be shot to put a villain off-guard.

In the original comics, Captain Cold couldn't bring himself to kill his own father despite ample reason and an opportunity in the Rogues' Revenge storyline. Heatwave obligingly finished the job for him.

In a nod to her costume's color scheme in the original comics, Lisa Snart rides off on a golden motorcycle with a matching helmet.

Professor Stein exclaims "Excelsior!" as they successfully pass a book through the breach to Earth 2. This is the catch-phrase of comic writer Stan Lee as well as the State Motto for New York. It is a Latin word meaning "still higher" or "ever upward".


Professor Steins's heart-rate after he collapsed was 147 Systolic over 82 Diastolic. He claims this just a few points higher than the average range for a man of his age. That's actually a little high, with a Systolic number over 140 signifying Stage One Hypertension.

Stein theorizes that super-speed and a certain level of stability are required to traverse the breaches between Earth One and Earth Two.

Jay Garrick likens the breaches to doors, suggesting that the hallway between the doors is continually shifting and collapsing in on itself. If they can stabilize the door, it should stabilize the hallways so Barry can use it.

Cisco devised a method of tracking Captain Cold's gun since he didn't have a chance to plant a tracker on it when he was kidnapped to rebuild it. The method works the same way as thermal imaging, only instead of infrared heat signatures it seeks out ultraviolet cold signatures.

Cisco added therma-threading into The Flash costume. This allows Cisco to remotely super-heat Barry's costume in order to quickly melt any icy build-up.

The biggest challenge in Lewis Snart's heist is getting past a Draycon Systems keypad.

Lewis Snart injects thermite explosive into the necks of people in order to control them.

Barry determines, based on his examination of David Rutenberg's body, that his head was removed by an explosive. This is due to the thermite residue and the perforation around the neck being too jagged to suggest a cutting implement or weapon.

Jay Garrick once again refers to purifying heavy water without residual radiation.

Cisco detects traces of thermite on Lisa Snart's skin around her neck.

Barry determines the bomb casing injected into Lisa Snart must be made of some kind of ferromagnetic material. Caitlin plans to surgically remove the bomb as Barry holds it steady with a magnet. Cisco warns against this, saying that such a concentrated bomb will explode if exposed to magnetic friction and an oxidant.

Barry, in pretending to be a techie thief, refers to a diamond Snart stole a year earlier being locked behind an Amertek Industries Phase 3 Suppression Door with a Draycon XL-1218 keypad.

The gun Cisco builds to extract the bomb from Lisa Snart has an operating pressure of over 1,000 PSI. The only problem is that the gun uses compressed air, meaning there is a risk it could set the bomb off. Thankfully, it does not.

The Cold Gun is capable of disrupting a laser grid for somewhere between two and three minutes.

Jay Garrick was able to stabilize the breach using CFL Quark Matter - negative energy density with positive surface pressure. This is a breakthrough that Earth 2 perfected that Earth 1 has not.

Dialogue Triumphs

Professor Stein:
All right. No more tests today. All of you are leaving now. As am I. Cherish the gift of youth as I will go cherish my much-needed nap.

Captain Cold: You know what they say - "Live fast and die young".

Lisa Snart: The first time my father came after me I was 7. The second time I was 8. That's when I learned that a bottle hurts worse than a fist. He used to say he was trying to teach us lessons. I must have been a slower learner because the lessons never stopped.

Barry: You're a criminal, Snart. But you live by a code. It sounds to me like Lewis doesn't. Like he won't care if people die. That's why I can't leave this alone.
Captain Cold: Then everyone will know who The Flash is under that mask.
Barry: I don't care. I will take you down anyway. Both of you.
Captain Cold: We'll see about that. Thanks for dinner.
(Snart leaves the table, leaving Barry stuck with the check as the waitress walks up)

(As Barry walks into his hide-out)
Captain Cold: These visits are getting old.
Barry: Third time's the charm.

The Flash: Tell me this - what kind of man puts a bomb in his own daughter?
Lewis Snart: A very rich man.

(After Len shoots him through the chest with his cold gun)
Lewis Snart:
You're working with The Flash?  I thought you hated him?
Captain Cold: Not as much as... I hate you.
(Len kneels down by his now dead father.  Barry walks over and takes the cold gun away without a struggle)
The Flash: Lisa was safe. Why did you do that?
Captain Cold: He broke my sister's heart. Only fair I break his.

Barry: What's funny is that I finally figured out your secret.
Len: And what secret would that be?
Barry: You'd do anything to protect your sister.
Len: Well, I know your secret too. Better hope I don't talk in my sleep.
Barry: You won't. Today just proved what I've always known. There's good in you, Snart. And you don't have to admit it to me. But there's a part of you that knows you don't have to let your past define you. A part of you that really wants to be more than just a criminal
Len: So I should be a hero like you, Barry? What exactly does that pay again?
Barry: It's just a matter of time. Something you'll have a lot of in there.
Len: Not as much as you think. Be seeing you.


At CC Jitter's reopening, Iris refers to how Barry rebuilt the coffee bar at night and The Flash Day from 201.

Lisa refers to the events of 122 and how Captain Cold could have killed The Flash but didn't.

Cisco refers to the events of 116 and how he rebuilt The Cold Gun for Len Snart.

Lewis Snart's rap-sheet includes larceny, armed robbery, aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon.

Lewis Snart abused his daughter and son. He first hit his daughter when she was 7. She still has a scar on her right shoulder from the abuse.

Linda Park - Iris' fellow reporter, whom Barry briefly dated - is seen for the first time since 116.

Francine West was a drug addict who abandoned her family after Joe West checked her into rehab. He told everyone that she died and spent the next 20 years trying to forget her.

According to Jay Garrick, there are Big Belly Burger franchises on Earth 2.

There was also a Particle Accelerator Explosion that created the metahumans on Earth 2.

Barry uses the alias Sam when infiltrating Cold's gang.

Barry refers to Captain Cold's stealing The Kahndaq Dynasty Diamond in 104.

At the end of the episode, Len Snart is locked up in Iron Heights prison. Joe says he's already got Patty working on the paperwork to transfer Snart to the higher-security metahuman wing, even though Snart has no powers of his own.

Golden Glider remains at liberty.

According to Jay Garrick, Earth 2 has perfected the means of generating CFL Quark Matter.

Jay elects to remain on Earth 1 until Zoom is dealt with.

Professor Stein briefly manifests orange flames around his head and fists like Ronnie did in his Firestorm form. The fire briefly turns blue before Professor Stein passes out again.

At the end of the episode, we see Harrison Wells emerging from what appears to be the breach in the Star Labs basement.

The Bottom Line

A near-perfect episode, where even the weakest sections (i.e. the subplot with Joe's wife) are entertaining even if they do seem like padding. The entire cast is running on eight cylinders and the script is top-notch in every respect with a lot of great character moments and developments that show the cast is changing.