Thursday, December 31, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Twenty-Four

In which we defeat the Mirelurk Queen, start trying to root out every clutch of eggs in The Castle and take on a Deathclaw while hunting for our traitorous second in command.

Superman: Lois And Clark #3 - A Review

Satisfied that the threat to his family has been neutralized and that their secret is safe, Clark Kent returns to his Fortress of Solitude. Meanwhile, Lois Lane goes back to work investigating this Earth's version of Intergang. Little do they know that enemies, both old and new, are already working against them...
Whatever you say about Dan Jurgens, you can't accuse him of thinking small as a writer.  This issue introduces a number of subplots and new threats for Lois and Clark to contend with. Yet everything is evenly balanced and there's no sense that anything is getting short-shrift. There's even time for some amusing banter between the first couple of comics amid all the set-up.

The artwork proves equally enjoyable. There's three inkers at work, including penciler Lee Weeks, but you'd never know it. The shading is consistent throughout. And the color art by Brad Anderson perfectly enhances the finished pencils and inks.

All-New Wolverine #3 - A Review

Laura Kinney's first mission as the new Wolverine isn't off to a stellar start. While she successful stopped an assassination attempt, she also discovered the assassin was a clone like her.  As in, exactly like her!

Now Laura has uncovered the clone's "sisters" - all part of the same batch created by the sinister Alchemax Genetics. But Alchemax wants their rebellious property back. And while Laura can handle herself in a fight, it remains to be seen if she can cope with three equally strong-willed young women who don't share her desire to avoid killing.
I don't usually associate humor with Wolverine as a title but I do associate it with the writing of Tom Taylor. There's a wit to all of Taylor's writing that is unique and it's adapted quite well - scarily so - to the darker tone this series requires. This is not to say that things are all laughs. Far from it! There's plenty of action as well as some general badassery.  Overall, the tone is sharp and well-balanced, like a katana.
The artwork is just as good as the writing. David Lopez and David Navarrot are performing miracles on a monthly basis. And the colors by Nathan Fairbairn are well chosen and always thematically appropriate.

Superman Annual #3 - A Review

There's two good comics contained within Superman Annual #3. One details the new origin of the immortal conqueror Vandal Savage, tying his origins indirectly into the Superman mythos.  The other showcases the problems Clark Kent faces as he continues to try and help people as Superman, despite his waning powers, lack of a secret identity and Lex Luthor running Justice League.

Unfortunately, these stories ultimately exist only as a set-up for the latest big crossover. And that proves to be to their detriment. It's apparently not enough to tell a story which shows that the meteor that empowered Vandal Savage came from a comet that was redirected from Krypton. We can't just tell a story where Clark Kent tells a teary-eyed Lana Lang that he can't just quit being Superman, even without his powers. It's all just build up for yet another excuse to boost sales.

It's a shame because there's some truly great writing on display in this issue.  The Vandal Savage story is just plain fun. And the modern story proves the point that what makes Clark Kent Superman isn't his powers - it's his ability to inspire other people to greatness. It also subtly disproves Lex Luthor's postulation  - that Superman's existence will cause common people to stop striving to be better - as Lex begins exploiting his power and authority to keep Clark Kent from trying to advance himself. Rarely has Luthor's evil and Clark's goodness been so well and simply exemplified.

The artwork, sadly, isn't quite so evenly handled.  The artwork for the Vandal Savage story is grand, showing a good deal of variety as we follow Savage through the ages.  The artwork for the Clark story, while skillfully done, utilizes a gritty, more realistic style that doesn't really seem appropriate to the story at hand.

Superman Annual #3 is a model for everything that is right and wrong with DC Comics since the New 52 revamp. There's a number of brilliant innovations and reimaginings of classic concepts and this comic showcases the ideal that the hero aspect of a character is more important than the super one. Yet all of that is undercut by a relentless grittiness that is grim for its own sake rather than to make the light shine brighter and the fact that this story exists only as introduction to yet another sales gimmick.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Black Canary #6 - A Review

I honestly want to like the DC You Black Canary series. Dinah Lance has always been one of my favorite heroines but I don't think The New 52 has served her very well as a character. And after six issues, I don't think this series is doing her any favors either.

The centerpiece of this issue is a literal battle of the bands between Dinah's band, Black Canary, and a new group fronted by Dinah's self-styled rival, Bo Maeve. Bo has a grudge against Dinah's band, who ditched her in favor of a lead singer who was less of a diva. And now, with the assistance of Amanda Waller, Bo is back with sonic superpowers to rival Dinah's and a bad-girl group with powers of their own.

This should be awesome and taken in terms of pure visuals, it is.  The artwork by Annie Wu is amazing and the strongest aspect of the series. The action of the issue flows smoothly throughout and the color art by Lee Loughridge is as vivid and wild as a punk rock guitar solo.

The effect is not unlike the band battles in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, save that we don't get any lyrics for the songs here. And I find myself wondering if the lyrics were left out so as the reader could imagine Black Canary's sound for themselves?  Or if writer Brenden Fletcher just didn't bother to write them?  This is just one aspect of the script that seem incomplete and I fear it's because this may be because it's easier to pass a lack of explanation off as mystery than to write a proper plotline.

For instance, I originally thought Fletcher avoided discussing Dinah's past with the Birds of Prey and Team 7 in the early issues of this series to make it more accessible to new readers. Now that the series has referenced that past without answering various questions about it, I wonder if Fletcher just wanted to milk the mystery out long enough to decompress the story to trade-paperback length. The end of the issue suggests some answers may be forthcoming but at this point I'm skeptical of a satisfying resolution.

Ironically, for all my complaints about the series not telling us enough about what is going on in its world and backstory, the book simultaneously violates the "show, don't tell" rule.  We're told that Dinah loves her band-mates but there's little to indicate that.  Dinah is a generic strong female protagonist, who doesn't display any emotions beyond anger.

The supporting cast is even worse in this regard. I can't even remember any of character traits or names apart from Ditto, and Ditto is a MacGuffin rather than a character!  Come to think of it, there's no real definition to any of these people apart from Bo, whose character can be summed up as "jealous diva".

That's my problem with Black Canary in a nutshell. It's got visual style but there's no substance to the writing or characters.  And the only reason I'm picking up the next issue is the hope that there will finally be some kind of resolution to this drawn-out opening arc.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four Annual - A Review

Not everyone who fights the tyranny of Superman does so under Batman's banner. There are many metahumans who work smaller and subtler, including a young shape-shifter whose luck finally ran out. Yet The Justice League is reluctant to lock him away as they have so many others.

Why?  Because this shape-shifter is the son of one of their own - a hero who refused to join them but neither worked against them. A hero who was once a criminal but reformed after the accident that gave him phenomenal powers. A hero who is potentially the most dangerous man in the world - Plastic Man!

No, really!  We are talking about Plastic Man! And to make things right for the son he was never there for, Plastic Man will do the unthinkable and break open the most secure prison ever built.

Tom Taylor is back for one issue but it's like he never left. He perfectly captures the specific humor of Plastic Man - not an easy feat - but also displays an ingenuity and creativity in utilizing the character's powers not seen since the Joe Kelly run of Justice League. You really believe Plas is as big a threat as the JLA make him out to be and realize that, as Plas himself once noted, "I only play dumb." And, this being a Tom Taylor story, there's some truly touching moments and amazing insight into the darker side of Patrick O'Brien's character amid the comedy.

The artwork for this issue is suitably comedic and epic in equal scope. Three different artists contributed to the pencils, inks, layouts and finishes but you'd never know it without the credits page. Sergio Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona do a fine job of building upon what Bruno Redondo starts and the final artwork looks fantastic throughout.

The most amazing thing about this issue is its accessibility. Despite being part of a long-running series, you can pick up this issue and not have to worry about being confused. Everything you need to know about this alternate Earth is explained within the first few pages. So if you haven't given the world of Injustice a shot, now's the perfect time to see what you've been missing.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Twenty-Three

In which we discover that big monster that originally drove The Minutemen from The Castle. We also discover that Mirelurk Hatcklings suck and Mirelurk Queens suck worse.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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

The sudden escape of every captive super-villain on Earth has led to wide-spread chaos and new opportunities for Batman's Resistance. So as Catwoman and Batman discuss the organization of their new army in a Parisian cafe, Superman faces Doomsday. At the same time, a desperate Hal Jordan calls for back-up in fighting an out-of-control Parasite and only Cyborg is free to help him.

As I noted in my review of the first issue of this series on, it seemed certain that this issue would make up for the lack of action in Part One. My prediction proved accurate. Apart from the opening scene with Batman and Catwoman, this issue is all action. And it is great, well-paced action with an honestly surprising final page. Well done, Brian Buccellato!

This is Iban Coello's first issue on Injustice and it's a promising start. Coello's character designs are wonderful, with clear pencils and think inks that enhance the artwork perfectly. The colors by J. Nanjan are up to the usual high level of quality, with the final artwork looking amazing.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Twenty-Two

In which we have fun "stormin' 'Da Castle", as Miracle Max says. Also, I finally learn how to make my followers equip the wonderful toys I give them.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sam Wilson, Captain America #4 - A Review

Sam Wilson has big problems. And not just getting turned into a wolf-man, though that is annoying and Misty Knight's jokes aren't helping. No, the new Captain America's biggest problem is that The Serpent Society is going legit, offering their services to big Wall Street firms as Serpent Solutions. Because money can make anything respectful. Even human trafficking and illegal medical experimentation.

This month sees a new art team which proves to be the equal of the previous one. Paul Renaud proves more than capable of matching Daniel Acuna in terms of quality. And the palettes utilized by Romulo Fajardo are well-chosen and look great!

One would never accuse Nick Spenser of being subtle in his politics or his storytelling. Indeed, it's hard to imagine how less subtle a comic could be, featuring a werewolf Captain America and Viper of the Serpent Society playing golf with a bunch of CEOs - his mask still on under his jaunty golfing cap! No, this book is not subtle. But it makes its points well and is a laugh riot to boot. Yet we also get some good action sequences as well. In short, its everything you could hope for in a Captain America comic.

Rick and Morty #9 - A Review

In a universe without a Rick, Morty rules a cyberpunk dystopia with an iron fist, Summer is the leader of the rebellion and Jerry is... well, still Jerry. Naturally, Rick only finds this mildly amusing at best. And he certainly doesn't care enough to help take down the evil Morty. Or does he?

Nope. Pretty sure Rick doesn't care. Except in so far as it gives him more material for making fun of how lame cyberpunk is as a genre.

Zac Gorman continues to capture the spirit of the Rick and Morty cartoon. This issue features a perfect balance of twisted humor and weird science action. And the back-up story, where Rick grumbles about missing an ALF marathon to help Morty with his problems, is hilarious.

The artwork splendidly captures the visual aesthetic of the show. Both C.J. Cannon and Marc Ellerby do a fine job of aping the show's style and their story flow from panel to panel is top-notch. The inks by Cat Farris and colors by Ryan Hill are also praiseworthy.

Astonishing Ant-Man #3 - A Review

The good news is that Captain America wants Scott Lang's help with a mission. The bad news (or at least, the bad news Scott is aware of) is that said mission is less about superheroics and more about stealing something and annoying SHIELD - both things Scott REALLY cannot afford right now. And unbeknownst to Scott (but knownst to us), his life is about to become even more annoying and dangerous, as his sworn enemies at Cross Technological have launched their own henchman-recruiting app.

Nick Spencer continues to deliver the funny, as he skewers both modern technology and the Marvel Universe. I found myself laughing out loud more than once as I read this issue. This was due to both the interplay between Sam Wilson and Scott Lang and the mock commercial for Lackey.

The artwork proves equally excellent. Ramon Rosanas is a perfect comedic partner for Nick Spencer and his work here reminds me of Kevin Maguire's work on Justice League. And the colors by Jordan Boyd are well chosen, with the tints used to simulate a phone screen being particularly noteworthy.

John Carter - Warlord of Mars #14 - A Review

John Carter and Dejah Thoris have returned home to Helium. Yet the streets are deserted and there is something else odd about their home city, which defies their senses and calls into question the very nature of reality around them! Is there some science or sorcery at play? Or has too much time in the desert wastes driven the royal couple mad?!

Ron Marz and Ian Edginton deliver an epic conclusion to their original saga of Barsoom. I'm sad to see this series end but I'm glad to see it go out on a high note, with the quality undiminished. It's truly amazing what these two writers accomplished together, crafting tales true to the spirit of Edger Rice Burroughs.

The artwork by Ariel Medel remains equally impressive.  Medel's a great artist, capable of rendering loud action and quiet reflection with equal ease. He's also one of the few artists who can draw a Dejah Thoris who can look sexy and strong without being objectified. The final art is realized by the excellent colors of Nanjan Jamberi.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Twenty-One

Just in time for the holidays, we recreate that most classic of Christmas films - Die Hard!

Well, we try and escape from a building full of people trying to kill us by scaling the outside of it. That's SORTA like Die Hard, right?!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #15 - A Review

The alien Hyperions are just moments away from activating their fusion web and incinerating the Earth! The only thing that can stop them now is The Doctor, with a little help from UNIT and some "borrowed" alien weaponry. But not everyone may make it out of this battle alive and whole...

The artwork for this issue is not up to the usual high standard. Daniel Indro's pencils are sloppy and his choices for some of the character poses and expressions are... unusual. The coloring by Slamet Mujiono, coupled with Indro's thin inks, leave the Hyperions looking like orange blobs rather than menacing men of living fire.

Robbie Morrison's writing for this issue is also uncharacteristically lazy. The final battle reminds one of the Classic Who era for all the wrong reasons, with everything being solved by a bunch of people armed with special guns. To say this seems a little against the spirit of the show is putting it mildly. The conclusion is sweet enough, with a nod to one of my favorite Christmas specials of the New Who era, but this is still a disappointing conclusion to what had been a promising story.

Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat #1 - A Review

Patsy Walker has had an interesting life, to put it mildly. And she's had more than her share of bad days. Like today, when she lost her job, her apartment and found out that her best/worst frenemy from her teen years has taken over the rights to the uber-embarrassing comic Patsy's mom based on her and put the whole nightmarish run back into print!

Still, Patsy Walker has been through Hell before. Literally. And it's going to take a lot more than this to get her down! So with a new roommate and a new attitude, Patsy is going to make things work with a new business venture.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect of Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat, but damn me (pun very much intended) if Kate Leth didn't hook me immediately. We get the rundown on Patsy and her powers almost immediately, before setting the stage for the book and introducing Patsy's supporting cast. Of particular note is Tom -a.k.a. Tubs - a former friend from Patsy's teen years who is now a big bear of a comic shop owner. And yes, I do mean bear in the way you think I mean it.

The artwork is a perfect mirror to Leth's scripts. Brittney L. Williams boasts a style that suits both the dynamic action of Patsy's superhero side and the slice-of-life comedy that dominates the rest of her life. And the colors by Megan Wilson are bright and cheerful, adding to the high spirit of the series.

This book is a fun read, born of the same wellspring as The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  Patsy is an immediately likable heroine and there's many moments that will have you laughing out loud, both due to the witty writing and the visual gags in the artwork. I can't recommend this series enough.

Superman 47 - A Review

The notorious hacker known as HORDR_ROOT has stolen Clark Kent's secret identity and with it his job, his life and a goodly portion of his power. But nearly killing Jimmy Olsen was the last straw. Now Superman is going to take the fight to HORDR_ROOT and bring him down to Earth, with a little help from his friends.

The artwork for this issue is all over the place, with three different artists with completely different styles. Howard Porter has done good work in the past but he seems to be channeling the spirit of Rob Liefeld for the better portion of this issue, with his male figures overlarge and the perspective forced to hell. This is somewhat better than Raymund Bermudez, whose contribution to the issue seems half-finished, being sketchy and under-inked. Only Tom Derenick delivers consistently, but even his work seems ill treated by the two conflicted colorists.

This is a shame because this may be the best single issue of the series Gene Luen Yang has written snice taking over Superman. It's a rare treat to see an issue where Clark fights with his head more than his fists and the fight with HORDOR_ROOT necessitates that. And let's give Yang credit for a truly novel plot twist regarding HORDOR_ROOT's connection to a classic DC Comics villain and a rather nifty origin story.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Twenty

In which we answer the call to action, and fight our way up thirty stories of slavering Super Mutants to save some poor unfortunate.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Nineteen

In which I somehow find a comic book store in the middle of the post-apocalyptic wasteland and decide to go shopping, only to find myself surrounded by zombies. Make your own joke, kids!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Descender #8 - A Review

Scrappers - the bounty hunters charged with hunting down rogue artificial intelligences - are scouring the whole of the galaxy searching for the robot boy TIM-21. But one scrapper in particular is hunting for TIM-21 a little bit harder. His name is Andy and decades earlier TIM-21 was his brother!

Jeff Lemire continues to impress with Descender. This issue tells two different stories, alternating between Andy's past and his present. Lemire maintains a difficult balancing act, yet also manages to expand upon the unique mythology of this universe while developing Andy's character.

Dustin Nguyen manages the same trick with slightly less subtlety.  The flashback scenes are rendered in monochrome while full colors are used for the present-day scenes. It's a typical trick but Nguyen renders it effectively and the artwork in both stories works well.

Batgirl #46 - A Review

Gangs are becoming an increasing problem in Burnside - both because of how they're forcibly recruiting young men and in how they're trying to force the working poor out of their homes. It's a problem Barbara Gordon tries to tackle both as an activist and as Batgirl, but tonight she has more immediate problems. One of the mobs has put a hit out on The Spoiler and the more inexperienced heroine is in need of a rescue.
I can't say enough about the phenomenal Babs Tarr's artwork. Tarr has an amazing grasp of action and her work is full of personality and the colors of Serge Lapointe build perfectly upon her foundation. This is one of the best-looking books on the market today.
Alas, the script this month doesn't quite live up to the visuals. It's fortunate that Tarr's artwork has personality because the supporting cast doesn't. Even Batgirl herself has been reduced to a generic strong female protagonist. There's none of the wit or humor from when Gail Simone was writing the series.

The Tithe #7 - A Review

Another church bombing has been blamed upon radical Islamic immigrants but the FBI team investigating the attacks isn't so sure things are as cut and dry as they seem. An old hacking contact of Samantha's confirms the unthinkable - that the encryption used by the terrorists is US Military. And the trail from there leads straight to the office of a Senator with his eyes on the White House and dreams of a new American empire!

The Tithe continues to be a tense, timely political thriller as well as a brilliant police procedural under Matt Hawkins' pen. The drama involving our heroes' personal lives suffers a little for that this month, with the drama between Sam and Agent Miller seeming a little forced and the subplot involving Agent Campbell's family problems having disappeared completely! Still, Hawkins did his homework on the real-world aspects of  the story and his comments in the back of the issue are as educational as ever.

Like many thrillers, this book doesn't  have a lot of traditional action-scenes. Despite this, artists Rahsan Ekedal and Phillip Sevy do a good job of matching the pace of Hawkins' script and shifting the perspective of the story so that things are rarely static, even if most of the book involves people talking. There are still many striking images and the colors by Jeremy Colwell are nice and vivid.

Secret Six #9 - A Review

The fate of all reality hangs in the balance as The Secret Six - aided by a cult of ancient Atlanteans - seek to destroy four magical columns in order to save Black Alice. The fact that this will also unleash a horde of otherworldly abominations on the universe doesn't really matter that much to them. Are they crazy?

Every time I think this book can't surprise me any more and that I have a handle on the characters, Gail Simone finds a way to shock me. For instance, until now I'd just assumed that Ferdie was a manifestation of the id of Shawna (aka The new Ventriloquist). I hadn't seriously considered that he was an independent entity. I still don't believe that yet his new-found ability to break the fourth wall is just one of the things about this book that keeps me second-guessing myself. The one constant is that this book is always darkly hilarious.

Tom Derenick delivers the same quality artwork that made Injustice: Gods Among Us so delightful. There are some great splash pages and the action is well choreographed.  The colors by Jason Wright show a varied and well-considered palette throughout.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Eighteen

In which we try to get back to the main quest only to get distracted by yet another distress call. Also, we kill a bunch of well-dressed cultists and less well-dressed raiders.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - A Spoiler Free Review

Star Wars has always held a special place in my heart. It's one of the first movies I remember seeing and watching until I had it all but memorized before I was in kindergarten. And my mother still tells stories about our first winter in Kansas, snowed-in for several days, and how I amused myself pretending I was Luke Skywalker.

That love became muted in recent years. The prequels made me jaded, failing to live up to my expectations. And it wasn't because I was staring through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. It was because they were honestly flawed.

Still, I would occasionally find glimpses of the world that captured my imagination as a young boy. The occasional Star Wars novel or comic would capture that elusive spirit. But there was nothing that felt exactly the same as what I remembered.  Until now.

This was not a film. It was an experience. A good one.

Yes, it's clearly a J.J. Abrams film. But it's still a Star Wars film in the the same way that a Timothy Zahn novel reads differently than a Karen Traviss novel... yet both are still Star Wars. It is the same universe with a different storyteller. And the story is told well.

I can't say I found myself feeling like a five year old boy running around with a wrapping paper tube making humming noises again. That magic was denied me. But I did enjoy a good story about heroism, bravery and good conquering evil. And in these jaded and cynical times that's magic enough.

I'm not going to talk about what is in the movie. There will be no discussion of plot, character and theme here. There will be time enough for deep analysis in the months to come. What I'm going to talk about, instead, is what I didn't see in that crowded theater on opening night.

I didn't hear any small children complaining they were bored.

I didn't see any teenagers throwing popcorn and poking fun of the movie.

I didn't see any bored hipsters checking their phones or tired senior citizens checking their watches to see how much longer until the ending.

I did not hear one person talk during the entire movie, except to laugh or cheer.

I saw a crowd of people enraptured.

And, more than once, I forgot that I was sitting in a theater and was instead in a galaxy far, far away.

In short, I loved it and would recommend everyone see it.

Clean Room #3 - A Review

Despite having seen The Clean Room at the heart of self-help guru Astrid Mueller's empire, journalist Chloe Pierce is no closer to answers regarding her fiancee's mysterious death. Conversely, Mueller seems to be getting closer to the answers she seeks in examining her patients. And as one of Mueller's underlings approaches Pierce with an interesting proposition, someone (or something) is confronted by Pierce's neighbors as it breaks into her home...

Three issues in and I'm still not sure precisely what to make of this series. Yet for once I find that ignorance exciting rather than annoying. Gail Simone has once again crafted a masterful thriller that is sure to please horror enthusiasts as well as her most loyal fans.

The artwork by Jon Davis-Hunt continues to equal Simone's scripts. His artwork maintains a unique clarity while still possessing astonishing detail relative to the streamlined pencils and light inks. This is one of the best looking books I've seen this year.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3 - A Review

The good news is that Nancy - roommate of the lost-in-time Squirrel Girl and the only person who remembers that Doreen Green exists - has stumbled across someone with a time machine who also remembers Squirrel Girl. The bad news is that person is Doctor Doom. And not just any Doctor Doom but the "just-jumped-forward in time" Doctor Doom who, from his perspective, just suffered an undignified defeat at Squirrel Girl's hands!

Of course Nancy might still be able to talk Doom into helping her... assuming she can stop a fight from breaking out between Doom and literally every other superhero in New York who just happens to pass by at that exact moment.  Doom is nothing if not reasonable and the idea that one of his greatest enemies is in a position to accidentally rewrite history is not something Doom would allow. But could the very act of trying to prevent further damage to the timeline cause greater damage? And what is Doreen doing in the past right now anyway?
I love the writing on this book. And just when I think I can't love it anymore, Ryan North treats us to something like The Punisher cheerfully apologizing for harassing someone he is told is a cosplayer. Or the fact that among the many wonders of Doctor Doom's armor is the fact that his gauntlets can operate touch screens! This book is just plain fun.

The artwork by Erica Henderson is equally enjoyable. Henderson's cartoonish style is a good fit for North's manic scripts. Yet she also draws a suitably menacing Doctor Doom. The colors by Rico Renzi are also praiseworthy.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Seventeen

In which we answer the call to danger and a distress signal, try to raid a Super Mutant camp and have our first encounter with a Super Mutant Suicider (Suicider?! I hardly know her!)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 8 - Hostile Takeover

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


Kara goes toe-to-toe with Astra when her aunt challenges Kara’s beliefs about her mother. Meanwhile, Cat is threatened with being removed as the CEO of CatCo after a hacker exposes her private and damaging emails.


Superman: The Movie (the character of Non), the Man of Steel comic series (the character of Dirk Armstrong) and the New Krypton storyline from the comics (the idea of Kryptonians trying to save the Earth by imposing their will on it).


The fight scenes in this episode are probably the best in the series to date, particularly the second fight between Astra and Kara.

The special effects used to bring this battle to life are also noteworthy and of cinematic quality

Super Trivia

Non - a Lieutenant serving under General Astra, who is also her husband - is named after a character from the original Superman movie.  Non was the non-speaking muscle of General Zod, who was condemned to the Phantom Zone alone with Zod.

Non was introduced into the DC Comics Universe during the New Krypton story-line. There, it was revealed that he had been a scientist and a mentor to Jor-El as well as a member of Krypton's High Council. He was part of a rebel group that attempted to expose the truth of Krypton's impending doom and was lobotomized by the Science Council for his trouble.

The DCTVU version of Non has nothing in common with either of his predecessors, being capable of speech and being a member of Krypton's Military Guild.

In the flashbacks, Astra invokes the name of Rao. Rao is the name of the chief deity of the Kryptonian religion as well as the name of the red star Krypton orbits.

Dirk Armstrong, the CatCo Chairman who plots against Cat, too his name from a character from the same mini-series that introduced Cat Grant in the comics.  In the original DC Comics, Dirk Armstrong was a conservative commentator for The Daily Planet, who saw Superman as a menace and repeatedly butted heads with Clark Kent and Perry White. Despite this, he was portrayed as an honest man who doted on his daughter.

The DCTVU version of Dirk Armstrong is not so honest and about the only thing they have in common is a conservative bend and sexist streak, with Cat describing him as "the poster boy for White Male Privilege."

It is revealed that Cat has a son from her first marriage named Adam Foster. In the comics, Cat had a son from her marriage to Morgan Edge named Adam.

It is said that Cat's eldest son lives in Opal City.  Opal City is a fictional city in the DC Comics Universe. It is located in Turk County, Maryland and was the home town of Ted Knight a.k.a. Starman I as well as Ted's sons David (Starman VI) and Jack (Starman VII).

Cat describes Kara as her Guardian Angel. It is worth noting that, for a time in the comics, Supergirl was a literal guardian angel, created when an shape-shifting artificial lifeform from a parallel dimension called The Matrix merged with a dying girl named Linda Danvers.

The male alien criminal with Non's team in the fight at the end of the episode has the power to split himself into duplicates.  He is not identified in any of the show's release materials, but this power is possessed by a number of DC Comics villains including the Firestorm villain Multiplex (who appeared in the second episode of The Flash TV series), a Superman villain called The Duplicate Man (who appeared in World's Finest #106). Though we only see a second duplicate in the fight, it's possible the alien is a citizen of the planet Cargg, whose people can split into three duplicates, like the Legion of Superheroes member Triplicate Girl.

The female alien criminal with Non's team at the end is a gifted martial artist with platinum blonde hair and strength enough to snap a grown human male's neck.  She also possess some power that allows her to exhale a poison gas that can kill a human instantly. The manner in which she does this resembles The Mist - another DC Comics villain who has also appeared on modern The Flash TV series.


A Kryptonian can protect themselves from the effects of Kryptonite by shielding themselves with the right materials.

Krypton died because its people disrupted the core of the planet harnessing it for power. This caused the oceans and weather to change in a way that sounds reminiscent of man-made climate-change on Earth.

Max Lord developed some kind of gun that can apparently turn a Kryptonian's heat-vision against them by latching a reflective ammunition onto their face.

Dialogue Triumphs

Alex: Kara, this is war. And to win a war, sometimes the enemy has to die. But can you look me in the eye and tell me that you're prepared to kill?
Kara: Superman doesn't kill.
Alex: If that's your answer, then you shouldn't fight her.
Kara: It won't come to that.
Alex: She's shown that she's ready to kill you. You have to be ready to do the same.

Supergirl: (sarcastically) No bodyguards?
Astra: No knife. No armor. No one besides you and me. Will you tall to me now?  You can't say it's not fair.
Supergirl: We're done with fair!

James: Winn, look buddy.You had it wrong before. I'm not in your way. If you have feelings for Kara, you should tell her.
Winn:  Yeah, but she's... She's her, you know?  And I'm me. It's not so easy, you know?  I mean, what if she doesn't- It's just - you and your abs wouldn't understand.
James: I understand that Kara is special. And not just because of the cape. She's the kind of girl worth risking it all for. Hey man, if i were you... I'd risk it.

Cat: Kiera! Another week. Another crisis averted, thanks to you. My secret weapon. My guardian angel.
Kara: It was nothing.
Cat: Oh. no. It was something. It was something extraordinary. You saved me from a potentially very embarrassing situation with Adam.  You know, I was thinking about how you overheard Dirk after the board meeting. I was standing right next to you and there is no way that he was within earshot.
Kara: Um-
Cat: And then I was thinking about the earthquake and how you got sick for the first time since I've known you. And you had a broken arm and Supergirl mysteriously went MIA. And then she came back and your cold was gone.
Kara: That's just a coincidence -
Cat: I was also thinking about Livewire. About how when she attacked us you fled into the stairwell.
Kara: (chuckles) Because you asked me too.
Cat: Yeeees. But not two seconds later, Supergirl shows up.  Another coincidence?  And let's not forget that you took it personally when I named her "Supergirl".
Kara: Sure, for... for political reasons.
Cat: Do me a favor and take off your glasses.
Kara: My glass- I... I can't!  I'd be blind without them.
Cat: I doubt that. If you're not who I think you are, what does it matter?
Kara: Ms. Grant, I -
Cat: Glasses or I take it as a confirmation.
(Kara turns to one side and slowly pulls her glasses off, before turning to face Cat)
Cat: Well... let me begin by saying thank you for all the help that you've given me... Supergirl.

Dialogue Disasters

While there aren't any real groaners, much of the script is made of artificial-sounding purple-prose. What little bits of it work - like the scene between Cat and Kara where Cat deduces that Kara is Supergirl - are due only to the strength of the actors' performances.


The Kryptonian criminals developed a means of ignoring the effects of Kryptonite. It manifests in the form of a blue-glowing electronic device that clips onto their armor, on the left shoulder.

Astra arms herself with Henshaw's green Kryptonite knife from 102.

Kara refers to what the hologram of her mother said about Astra in 102.

Astra is revealed to be married to one of her lieutenants, Non.

The arena with Kryptonite dampeners in the wall is seen for the first time since 102.

Superman, in this reality, does not kill.

On Krypton, Kara had half of a spy beacon that allowed her to send messages to Astra.

Kara was, unwittingly, used by her mother as a means of luring Astra out.

Cat Grant has a son, now 24 years old, from her first marriage named Adam Foster. She has been giving him financial support all his life but made an active decision not to fight for custody.

Martians have telepathic powers.

Kryptonians are immune to Martian telepathy. Superman finds this hilarious.

Apparently Superman knows J'onn J'onzz.  It is not revealed if Superman knows that he is masquerading as Hank Henshaw.

Astra refers to Alex killing the Hellgramite in 102.

Cat refers to the events of 107 and 104 in explaining why she thinks Kara is Supergirl.

The Bottom Line

Surprisingly good, despite a lackluster script. The revelation that the Kryptonian criminals on Earth were political prisoners is barely touched upon as is Kara's anger over the idea of her mother using her as a pawn. The subplot with Cat getting hacked is resolved far too easily and Winn still comes off more like a creepy stalker than a legitimate love-interest for Kara.

Shockingly, the best bits of the episode involve the DEO and the fight scenes. Last week's revelation that Hank Henshaw is really Martian Manhunter has added a whole new, hilarious dynamic to these scenes as we now know that J'onn is hamming it up playing Hank. The final scene with Kara and Cat is wonderful and we finally get to see the true Cat Grant - smart and nice under all the sharp edges. And the cliff-hanger is legitimately exciting.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Sixteen

In which we explore the National Guard Armory, discover gravity-defying severed body parts, have a hell of a time killing a Glowing One and uncover a demonically possessed cardboard box.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor #2 - A Review

The Doctor got more than he bargained for when he returned to Earth in search of a missing book. Not only did he find a new companion in artist Josephine Day but he found a brand new mystery to investigate!  The lost book contained a list of four space-time coordinates, the meaning of which he couldn't remember. It was a perfect excuse for an adventure.

Unfortunately, the first set of coordinates took them into the middle of a war zone between the crystalline Spherions and the cat-like Calaxi. Naturally, The Doctor would rather not get involved but has little choice after Josie is wounded by one of the Spherion's horrific weapons. Unfortunately, The Calaxi care little about Josie's plight and care even less for The Doctor's desire to negotiate a peaceful solution.

George Mann perfectly captures the essence of the peace-loving Eighth Doctor. It was rather shocking - given what we know of this Doctor from various media - to see the man he became in The Night of The Doctor and this issue does a fine job of establishing that divide for those newer fans who might not have been exposed to the comics and radio plays that established the better part of his character. This issue retroactively foreshadows some of his later incarnations' antipathy for guns, soldiers and military thinking as well as The Time War.

The artwork by Emma Vieceli proves equally astonishing. The character designs are great and Vieceli's Shojoesque style proves a good fit for depicting the bishōnen Eighth Doctor. The aliens look suitably exotic and the colors by Hi-Fi are amazing.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hercules #2 - A Review

In ancient days Hercules set the standard by which all heroes are measured. But times have changed and Hercules is changing with them. Once content to be a drunken wastrel who lived off his legend, Herc has cleaned up his act. And a good thing too!  Because something is stirring up monsters long thought gone from the mortal world. And with the help of the seer Tiresias, Hercules means to put them to rest - one way or the other.

Fans of the classic Marvel take on Hercules may think Dan Abnett's take on the character to be a blasphemy. Personally, I like the idea of Hercules trying to redeem himself and restore his good name. It's a new kind of story for Herc and his new attitude has not lessened the humor of the character at all, as he's mistaken for a cosplayer while striding through Central Park. And Tiresias - who has become a gender-bending punk in a nod to the myths where he was turned into a woman for a time - is a total hoot as well.

The action sequences are satisfying as well. And it's gratifying to see Hercules utilizing some strategy in his fighting when the character is so frequently portrayed as mere dumb muscle. Those who enjoy Neil Gaiman's take on classic mythology in the modern day will find this comic enjoyable.

The artwork by Luke Ross and Emilio Laiso is suitably epic. The inks and shadows are well-balanced, leaving the original pencils well-defined yet suitably streamlined. And the colors by Guru-FX enhance the final package perfectly.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Fifteen

In which  we discover the only thing worse than one Radscorpion suddenly emerging from the Earth in front of you is a glitch making TWO Radscorpions suddenly emerge from the Earth in front of you... and then a ghoul shows up.

Also, we contribute to the delinquency of a minor after she and her robot friend save us from the Radscorpions. And we finally find where that distress signal was coming from... and it turns out to be The National Guard Armory we were heading to in the first place!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 9 - Dark Waters

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


After HIVE's most vicious attack on Star City yet, Oliver takes the fight to them by outing Damien Darhk as the architect of the city's troubles. But things take a horrible turn when Darhk retaliates at Oliver's mayoral holiday party, kidnapping Thea, John and Felicity!


Green Arrow: Year One (the Lian Yu sequences) and the Green Arrow comics of Elliot S! Maggin (The idea of Oliver Queen running for mayor and fighting corrupt forces trying to thwart his campaign).


How did Laurel not know that her dad was working deep cover in Damien Darhk's organization?  It didn't seem like Ollie was going out of his way to keep that fact a secret from the team.

How does Felicity get fatally wounded while Oliver doesn't get hit once when their car is shot up, when Oliver was trying to shield Felicity's body?


David Ramsey is phenominal in the scenes where John Diggle interogates his brother.

While the dialogue they're given in this episode isn't the best, Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards sell the hell out of every moment they're given as Felicity and Oliver together.

It's hard to say who is having more fun hamming it up among the villains - Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk or John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn. They're both fantastic though.


The ending sequence where Darhk's men try to gun down Oliver and Felicity inter-cut with shots of Darhk and his family celebrating Christmas is truly horrific.


Ollie taking particular offense at the idea of children being endangered is a long-running character trait from the comics.

The tactic of using an explosive arrow to catch a more powerful enemy off-guard is a time honored Green Arrow trick in the comics.  Oliver used this same trick in his fight with The Flash in F108.  Merlyn uses it here against Darhk.


Felicity says that if they could reduce 40% of toxicity produced by the bacterial micro-organisms that sprung up in Star City Bay, they'll be able to swim in just 12 days if the restitution rate stays consistent.

HIVE uses polyphasic-encrypted satellite phones to communicate.

As part of the Genesis project, HIVE had been cultivating a specific algae in Star City Bay - one that could be used to poison people secretly. This is referred to as The Bloom.

Oliver has Merlyn tag him with one of his own nano-tech tracker arrows, so they can use that to find where Darhk is holding the rest of Team Arrow.

The algae HIVE cultivated has somehow been used to make the air in a secret underground complex where corn is being grown breathable. This allows Phase Four of the Genesis project to begin.

Dialogue Triumphs

Oliver: As today's tragedy reminded us, we are at war. For six months we have been besieged by a nameless and a faceless organization that seems hell-bent on destroying our city. You know them as The Ghosts. And while they me be anonymous, their leader is not. He has a face. He has a name. And I think that it is high time the people of Star City know the truth about who he is!
(Oliver holds up a picture of Damien Darhk)
Oliver:  His name is Damien Darhk. He controls The Ghosts on behalf of an organization known as HIVE. HIVE wants this city to die! Now, I will be distributing this - the only known photograph of Mr. Darhk - to every news outlet and social media feed in the country.  For months, this man has made us afraid to walk the streets. I suggest we return the favor.

(Alone in the Arrow Cave, Oliver drops to one knee next to Felicity)
Oliver: Can I ask you a question?
Felicity: (thinking he's about to propose) Now? Here?!  I mean... what's the question?  

Merlyn: Since you told me about your encounter with Damien Darhk, I had my minions looking into it.
Thea: You love having minions.

Oliver: Somewhere, someplace, there's a Ghost that's going to talk to me.
Laurel: And what if there isn't?
Oliver: Then I'm going to take great pleasure in trying to make them.

Oliver: You didn't kill my friends. You took them to make a point. You've made it!
Darkh: No. Not yet, I haven't.

Quentin: (To Laurel) Listen, sweetheart. You just be careful out there, all right? Cause I don't know what I'd do if anything were to happen to you. In fact, that's not true. I know exactly what I would do. And it would be ugly.

Oliver: We had a deal!
Darhk: Well, I think if you replay our conversation in your mind, our bargain was only, at best, implied. Even so - bad guy, remember?
Oliver: Let them go!
Darhk: I will. Existentially speaking.

(Merlyn is disguised as Green Arrow. He faces down Darhk and shoots an arrow at him. Darhk stops it easily with his telekinesis.)
Darhk: You really haven't learned anything, have you?
Merlyn: Oh, I might have learned a little.
(The arrow begins beeping before suddenly exploding and knocking Darkh off his feet.)

Dialogue Disasters

Ollie's questioning thugs after John, Thea and Felicity are kidnapped is goofy as all get-out, seeming like a bad parody of Christian Bale's Batman.


Taiana was a diving instructor in Russia.

Donna Smoak finds Ollie's engagement ring from 401.

Thea refers to Dhark's death-touch not working on her in 407.

According to Merlyn, Darhk had contact with The Lazarus Pit but this had nothing to do with why Thea was able to resist his death-touch.

Curtis and Paul have been married for five years.

Curtis' husband, Paul, proposed to him with a ring hidden inside a sea-shell.

They refer to straight people hiding wedding rings in a dessert, which was how Oliver had planned to propose to Felicity in 401 with a ring hidden in a souffle.

Donna Smoak refers to Quentin as her boyfriend. This astonishes him as much as Felicity.

Malbec is Darhk's favorite red wine.

Merlyn uses the same nano-tech tracker arrow that Oliver used to track him back in 304.

It is revealed that one of Oliver's scars came from being attacked by a shark while diving to retrieve maps from a sunken ship.

The flashback sequence ends with Taiana's survival revealed to Conklin and Oliver captured.

Oliver proposes to Felicity before a crowd at a tree-lighting ceremony.

The episode ends with Felicity near death, if not dead, following Darkh's latest attack on her and Oliver.

The Winick Factor

Pretty much all of Team Arrow has to be neutralized in order to make Laurel out to be a useful member of the team.

The Bottom Line

The performances are about the only thing saving this episode. The script is mediocre and there's no real progress on any of the subplots. There's no progress on Thea's blood lust or Diggle's issues with his brother. And Laurel continues to just be there.

No, this whole episode exists for two reasons - to throw out a few more vague hints about HIVE (which don't really reveal anything) and to give us more Oliver/Felicity drama. Which might work if Felicity weren't almost certain to survive the cliff-hanger.

Yes, I'm calling this now - Felicity is going to be fine. Because it's way too obvious that she'd be the one Oliver is talking about in the funeral flash-forward. Because it would go against the lighter tone the show is trying to adopt. And because there's no point in leaving us in suspense for a month if they're just going to kill her in the next episode when they could kill her in THIS episode and have us stew for a month over what happens next.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Fourteen

In which we set off to help another settlement in need, wonder why dogs carry legendary brass knuckles, discover why Radscorpions suck and have a bit of bad fortune answering yet another distress call.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 9 - Running To Stand Still

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


The Weather Wizard returns to break Captain Cold and The Trickster out of Iron Heights and The Flash will run himself ragged trying to stop them from wreaking havoc on The Holidays. Meanwhile, Iris and Joe West prepare themselves to meet Wally West - the son and brother they never knew they had.


Too many The Flash comics involving The Rogues Gallery teaming up to count.


Apparently Joe still hasn't explained Harrison Wells' being alive to Patty and she hasn't asked any further questions since she shot Harry last week in 208.

Even for comic-book science, the magnets explanation for how sending one bomb through a breach can attract the rest of the bombs in the city like it is totally ludicrous.

For that matter, what happened to the idea that only speedsters and the people they carry can travel through the breaches?


Jesse L. Martin's reaction to being told about Joe's long-lost son is one of the best bits of acting he's done on the show. And that's saying something giving how generally amazing he is!


The opening with Zoom chasing Wells is nice and suspenseful, grabbing your attention immediately.

The dreidel scene is one of the most unsettling in the show's history.

The scene of Barry jumping onto a moving helicopter blade while chasing Weather Wizard looks amazing.

Flash Facts

The Flash toy that Iris picks up while shopping is an actual Flash action figure based on the TV show.

Wally West is a familiar character to long-time fans of The Flash comics.  Indeed, for comic fans of a certain age, he's more familiar than Barry Allen!  Originally the nephew of Iris West, Wally gained super-speed powers after an incident which replicated the accident that gave Barry Allen his powers. Wally went on to partner with Barry as Kid Flash and went on to take over his mentor's title after Barry's death in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

This hasn't changed in the New 52 universe, save that Wally is of mixed heritage (half African, half White) is now a juvenile delinquent Iris hoped Barry might be able to positively influence.  Wally has yet to become Kid Flash in the current Flash comic but a future version of him, who adopted the name of The Flash, showed up to help Barry during one fight.

The DCTVU version of Wally West is Joe West's son and Iris West's brother, raised apart from them after Joe's wife left him.

The music that plays when we first see The Trickster sounds a little bit like The Joker theme from Batman: The Animated Series. Mark Hamill, who plays The Trickster, was also the voice of The Joker on Batman: The Animated Series.

The Mister Jiggle Wiggle doll is made by Okumara Toys. This is a nod to Hiro Okumara - aka Toyman. Not to be confused with the Superman villain, this Toyman was a hero - a Japanese child prodigy who used his fortune and gift for electronics to fight crime with a variety of robots. Most of these robots featured designs inspired by Hiro's favorite anime and manga.

Weather Wizard is now able to fly, as in the comic books.


Jay Garrick suggests that they could inject an unstable neutrino burst into the individual breaches and they might seal on their own.

There was an unexpected drop in barometric pressure as Weather Wizard came back into town.

Most weather phenomona are marked by changes in electrical charge and pressure in the atmosphere. Cisco theorizes they can locate Weather Wizard by mapping those changes. He further postulates that they can remove all the electricity from his immediate surroundings the same way that a lighting rod draws in electrical energy to one spot.

Cisco is able to detect the atmospheric pressure dropping 200 hectopascals when Weather Wizard begins using his powers in Central City Square.

Cisco says that Weather Wizard is able to fly by using his powers to alter the air pressure around him to create pockets of updraft .  Harry says he's just able to fly.

Cisco is able to track down one of The Trickster's bombs by cross-referencing credit card statements, toll-road usage and families with children under ten.

Magnets of opposite poles attract one another. Harry says that by changing the dimensional frequency of one of Trickster's bombs before sending it through a breach, it will drag all the rest of the bombs with it. They use a STAR Labs drone to deliver the bomb through a breach a quarter-mile over Central City.

Dialogue Triumphs

Caitlin: It means a lot.
Jay: What does?
Caitlin: You looking after Barry. He's... been through a lot the last few weeks.
Jay: Well, Barry's not the only person here I want to keep safe...
Cisco: Oh dear Lord, just kiss already!

(The doors to Iron Heights are blow inward by a strong wind and the snow begins to blow into the building. Enter Weather Wizard.)
Weather Wizard:
Let it snow!

Patty: I'm sorry. I don't have time to bring you up to speed.
Barry: (to himself) That's ironic.

Weather Wizard: I didn't break either of you out because I was looking to make new friends.
Trickster: That is not the holiday spirit, Marky-Mark! Christmas is a time for togetherness! And what says togetherness more than mass graves, hmmmm?
Captain Cold: So why DID you break us out?
Weather Wizard: Well, I owed you one. And this guy? (motions to Trickster) He's just crazy! It's a complement.
(Trickster nods in acknowledgement.)
Weather Wizard: And we all want the same thing.
Captain Cold: Fashion advice?
Weather Wizard: To see The Flash dead!
Trickster: Well, that was more of a New Years' Resolution, but hey - I'm flexible!

Barry: Why are you here, Snart?
Captain Cold: I got the Noel spirit. Wanted to give you a little gift. Mardon broke Jesse and me out to kill you. Jesse's on board, of course. He's shaking with excitement. Me? I'm going to pass.
Iris: Why? You grow a conscience?
Captain Cold: Mardon wants revenge. Jesse wants chaos. I'm just not... invested like they are.
Iris: You mean there's no money in it for you!
Captain Cold: I was never much for non-profit work.
Barry: If you're not in with them, then tell me where they are.
Captain Cold: Nah. Consider me more of a Secret Santa. Besides, you and your friends love to solve a good mystery.
Barry: You are full of it, Snart! I think my friends and I saved your sister's life and you just can't stand to owe me a marker. I hate to break it to you, but that - that right there is called Honor.
Captain Cold: Go on. Make your pitch. I can see you're dying to.
Barry: Help me stop them.
Captain Cold: Sorry. I'm not interested in being a hero.
Barry: Well... (laughs)'re doing a pretty lousy job of being a villain this week.
Captain Cold: Merry Christmas, Barry.

Trickster: We can't let Christmas hog all of the holiday fun!  Happy Hanukkah! (singing) Oh, Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel... I made you out of C-4! Ho ho ho!

The Flash: You know even if you get this guy that wronged you, that doesn't always make things better.
Patty: It has to be better than this!

(The Flash runs up to the top of the building where Weather Wizard is looking down on the square)
Weather Wizard: Oh. Glad to see you!  Maybe you can help me?
The Flash: Help get back to a jail cell?  It'd be my pleasure, Mark.
Weather Wizard: No. No. See, I'm trying to decide if I should kill everybody down there with a deadly hail storm or - little trickier - with acid rain! What do you think?
The Flash: (sarcastically) Ah. Let me think ... umm... how about neither?  Do you see this wand here? Guess what?
(Suddenly, Weather Wizard spreads his arms and tumbles backward off the ledge of the building.  Barry walks to the edge and looks down... to see Weather Wizard flying off!)
The Flash: Umm... guys?  (voice cracking) He's flying!

(The Flash looks at a present next to his feet)
The Flash: What is this?
Weather Wizard: That is a box with a bomb in it.
Trickster: Yup. I've handed out about 100 of them today. It feels so good to give.
Weather Wizard: You see, right now there are 100 random children who have each taken home a box just like that one. And are shoving it under their Christmas tree. There's no way for you to get to all of them. Even if you knew where to look.
The Flash: Oh, no. Please don't do this.
Weather Wizard: What? Me? Kill 100 families? (chuckling) No. That's up to you. I'm happy just to take your life. So this is how it's going to be. You will stand there and let me end you. Very publically. And very painfully. And I'll let everybody live. But if I see even a little flicker of electricity on you? Casket makers in this town are going to have a very merry Christmas. So, Flash - what's it going to be?
(The Flash wordlessly hands over The Weather Wand to Weather Wizard)

(Harry knocks on the door of a suburban home. A small boy answers it.)
Harry: Your toys? Give them to me.
Boy: Mom?!

Dialogue Disasters

Cisco: How do you like the magnets, bitch?


Iris refers to Eddie Thawne's death in 123.

Joe's watch was a gift from his father. He said that one day he would give it to his son. At the episode's end, he gives it to Barry.

Barry refers to Eobard Thawne's message to him about never really being happy from 201.

Iris tells Barry what she learned from Francine in 204 about having a brother.

They celebrate Christmas on Earth 2.They also have a tradition of hanging mistletoe and kissing underneath it.

Weather Wizard was last seen in 122.

Captain Cold was last seen in 203.

The Trickster was last seen in 117.

We're reminded that Weather Wizard killed Patty's father - a fact that we learned in 202.

Weather Wizard refers to The Flash's defeat at the hands of Zoom in 206.

Barry tells Cisco about the Weather Wand that he build in the alternate time-line in 115 to negate Weather Wizard's powers.

Earth 2 also has the movie The Godfather, complete with a reference to sleeping with the fishes.  According to Harry, all Earths have The Godfather.

Francine named her and Joe's son Wallace. This was the name she and Joe agreed upon for a son, when the first had Iris.

Captain Cold modified his cold gun to explode if he lets go of his grip on the handle.

According to Jay Garrick, there is no Trickster on Earth 2.

There are, however, Mister Jiggle Wiggle dolls on both Earth 1 and Earth 2.  Harry bought one for his daughter Jessie when she was six.  Patty's father also bought one for her when she was young.

Barry is able to achieve limited levitation by spinning his wrists fast enough to create focused tornadoes that allow him to achieve lift-off.

Patty reveals that she blames herself for her father's death, as she skipped work to goof off with her friends on the day that her father had to drop off the deposits for his store at the same time Mark Mardon was robbing their bank.

Harry refers to how they sent Grodd away using a breach in 207.

Patty traps The Flash to the ground using one of the guns Cisco designed back in 201.

Caitlin and Jay finally share a kiss.

Barry and Patty are now officially a couple.

Wally West introduces himself to Joe and Iris.

Harry figures out that Zoom is trying to push Barry to become faster before stealing his speed. He agrees to help Zoom do this in exchange for his daughter Jessie being spared.

The Bottom Line

A solid episode and a heck of a Christmas story. The Wally West reveal is somewhat understated as is the revelation of Harry's treachery. And I personally would have liked to have seen The Trickster return in a solo-story rather than sharing the stage. Still, one can't argue with results. And it's nice to not have any major cliff-hangers to fret over for a month.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 7 - Human For A Day

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


Left powerless by her encounter with The Red Tornado, Kara must rely on her inner strength and the legend of Supergirl to save the day when an earthquake strikes National City. At the same time, Alex's mistrust of Hank Henshaw reaches its breaking point when the earthquake traps them in the DEO offices with a psychic alien escapee.


Superman: The Movie (Kara's reaction to being unable to save an injured man mirror Clark's reaction to being unable to save Pa Kent as he has a heart attack), The Superman comics of Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. particularly Superman #39 (several story elements, described in Super Trivia), the sci-fi comics of Gardner Fox (mention is made of The Faceless Hunters), the New Krypton storyline (established Jemm as an enemy of the Kryptonians and leader of The Faceless Hunters) and various classic Superman comics centering around the idea of Superman temporarily losing his powers and coping with human illness.


For an underground base, the DEO HQ doesn't seem to have been built to handle earthquakes very well.

While it is an uncharacteristically nice gesture on Cat Grant's part, a news organization sending employees home in the middle of a natural disaster in nonsensical.

Alex really does not do a good job of hiding her disdain for Henshaw once Kara leaves for work.


Any who doubted Melissa' Benoist's suitability for the role of Supergirl need only watch her during the scene confronting the robber to see that she was perfectly cast.

That goes double for Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen. And it goes without saying that the best moments of the episode (excluding the scene with Supergirl and the robbers) are those which involve Kara and James playing off each other.

The final scene though, in which Hank Henshaw is revealed as J'onn J'onzz, makes the season for David Harewood.  And suddenly so much about his performance before now makes so much more sense!


The editing and interplay of Cat Grant's speech and Supergirl confronting the robber is excellent.

The build up to the reveal of Martain Manhunter was well-written and props to the show runners for keeping this a secret for so long.  No television show this year has surprised me so well as this episode did with that revelation.

Super Trivia

This episode greatly resembles the recent comic Superman #39  Several issues earlier, writer Geoff Johns and artist John Romita Jr. introduced the idea that Superman could be left temporarily powerless after particularly stressful battles and the use of his new "solar flare" power, where all the solar energy in his body is unleashed in one explosive attack.  This mirrors what seems to have happened to Kara in this episode. Indeed, James Olsen says that Superman calls this ability "the solar flare", in reference to the original comic.

Superman #39 is specifically referenced, as the plot of this comic centered upon a powerless Superman attempting to live a day as a normal human and eventually donning his costume to talk-down an armed gunman as Supergirl does here.

The character of Jemm is based on a DC Comics character named Jemm, Son of Saturn.

Originally designed as a cousin of The Martian Manhunter, Jemm's 12-issue mini-series was meant to explore the Martian culture and a civil war between the war-like white Martians and the more thoughtful green Martians. Jemm was changed into a Saturnian and his skin changed from green to red after his creators discovered that The Martian Manhunter would be returning to comics shortly. Later, writer John Ostrander explained away the similar appearances and powers of Martians and Saturians in a story where it was revealed that the Saturians were a clone race created by the white Martian race as slaves.

The Jemm in the comics is a heroic figure, who risked his life to bring peace to both the white and red Saturians. He was briefly brainwashed by Lex Luthor into acting as a counter to The Martian Manhunter in the pages of Grant Morrison's JLA. Jemm also showed up during the New Krypton storyline, fighting against the Kryptonians after they moved one of Jupiter's moons without considering the effects on other life forms in the solar system.

Jemm's powers in the comics include strength and durability on par with a Kryptonian. He has limited shape-shifting powers which allow him to stretch any part of his body. He can fly and survive in the vacuum of space. His main power, however, is his telepathy, which allows him to both read and control minds. He can also fire blasts of psychic energy through the organic gem in his forehead.

The Jemm of the DCTVU is a villain, while seeming to have most of the same powers as his comic-book counterpart. He is telepathic and fires psychic energy blasts and the hologram of Alura says he is dangerous enough physically that only Kara should try and fight him. He claims to have conquered twelve planets.

Jemm makes reference to being leader of The Faceless Hunters.  This is an alien race that appeared on three separate occasions - all in sci-fi stories written by Gardner Fox. They later appeared during the New Krypton storyline as soldiers under the command of Jemm.

The end of the episode reveals that Hank Henshaw is, in fact J'onn J'onzz aka The Martian Manhunter.  First appearing in Detective Comics #225, J'onn was pulled to Earth from Mars by an Earth scientist's experimental teleportation device. The encounter with the alien caused the scientist to have a heart-attack, stranding J'onn on Earth with no way home. J'onn used his shape-shifting abilities to take on the identity of John Jones and he decided to use his powers to fight crime and keep the peace on Earth, as he waited for Earth technology to develop to the point where he could return home. Operating in secret at first, he eventually revealed himself to the world and became a founding member of The Justice League of America.

Later retellings of J'onn's origins revealed that J'onn was displaced in time as well as space and that the Martian civilization had died off thousands of years earlier, leaving J'onn - like Superman - as the sole survivor of a dead world.

While this episode has yet to reveal how J'onn came to Earth, his noble intentions and desire to work incognito match his original origins.  Thus far, the only power he's revealed to have is shape-shifting. We can guess from how he was able to snap Jemm's neck, however, that he probably has the super-strength of his comic-book counterpart.


Winn still has the Kryptonian bio-analytics from Alex's DEO files. He later uses this to run a differential analysis on the rates at which Kara might metabolize solar radiation. He then puts forth the theory that Kara's powers might be jump-started by a sudden surge of adrenaline.

Jemm's cell has neural shielding, which prevents him from using his psychic powers on anyone outside the cell.

Superman calls the release of heat vision that drains his powers for a few days "the solar flare".

The DEO has neural disruptors - portable versions of the neural shields used to block Jemm's powers when he is in his cell.

Maxwell Lord postulates that Supergirl blew put her photovolatic capabilities, effectively making her a dead battery.

The injured man Maxwell Lord is called in to save has a tension pneumothorax - a progressive build-up of pressure, usually caused by laceration of the lung. There is also a venous bleed, which causes the man to exsanguinate into his own chest. This causes him to bleed out, go into shock and die.

Dialogue Triumphs

Jemm: I will grind your loved ones to dust!
(Henshaw looks off, as if looking at something far away.)
Dir. Henshaw: There are none left to grind.

Kara: Don't you think that people need a more positive message right now? Hope instead of fear? I just think that if Supergirl could be here today, right now, she would be.
Maxwell: (laughs) Why? Because Cat Grant says so?She might as well be Supergirl's PR flack, slapping that S on everything just to make money.
Kara: What are you doing?
Maxwell: I want everyone to know who's helping them in their time of need - a human being. Supergirl lulls us into complacency. She fools us into thinking she'll save us and renders us incapable of saving ourselves. Like heroin. Or The Welfare State.
Kara: That's cynical.
Maxwell: That's realistic.

Kara: These past few weeks have been the best of my life. I was helping people the way that I've always wanted. Do you know what that's like? To just have that ripped away?
James: Can't say that I do. But I do know that you're the same girl as you were before. Losing your powers does not change that.
Kara: It's changed everything! I - I - feel, I feel so helpless!
James: What you're feeling is human!
Kara: And what if Maxwell Lord is right? What if mine never come back? Now what kind of hero does that make me without them? I- I - I couldn't even save one man!
James: No hero can save everyone. Not even Superman. But a real hero never stops trying.

(Supergirl walks into a convenience store that is being robbed)
Supergirl: (holding a hand up) I wouldn't do that if I were you!  That's not going to work on me.
Robber: (pointing his gun at Supergirl) Stay back! Don't come any closer.
Supergirl: You don't want to hurt these people...
(Cut to Cat Grant, at her desk. She's wearing glasses and reading a prepared statement.)
Cat: People of National City - this is Cat Grant coming to you from Catco Plaza. We've just, minutes ago, restarted our broadcasting capabilities...
(Cat sighs dramatically, takes off her glasses and puts the the statement aside.)
Cat: Look. We're all suffering through a major disaster. Now, you could react to this crisis by being petty and divisive or preying on other people's fears. And after all, it is human to be selfish. But isn't it also human to face our weaknesses and rise above them? Act like a superhero even if you aren't one?
(Cut back to Supergirl and the robbers. Her hand is shaking nervously.)
Supergirl: I know you're scared. We all are. You want to save yourself. Your family. But don't you see that we are all in this together?
(Cut back to Cat)
Cat: It's true. Supergirl has not been located yet. But her spirit stays with us. Her insistence on seeing the best that is in people - a call for us to heed our better angels.
(Cut back to Supergirl and the robbers)
Supergirl: There's about a dozen ways that I could stop you right now. But I don't think I have to.
(Cut back to Cat)
Cat: Supergirl has faith in us.
(Cut back to Supergirl and the robbers)
Supergirl: Because this is not you. It isn't any of you!
(Cut back to Cat)
Cat: So let's have a little faith in her. Supergirl will return when we need her most.  Until then, we need to help each other.
(Cut back to Supergirl and the robbers)
Supergirl: I believe that we are better than this.
(Cut back to Cat)
Cat: Call us. Share your stories of herosim. Let's show the world what we're really made of. And no... we can't do what Supergirl does, but-
(Cut back to Supergirl and the robbers)
Supergirl: We choose who we want to be.
(Cut back to Cat)
Cat: We must choose to do what we can.
(Cut back to Supergirl and the robbers)
Supergirl: And I know you're going to choose to be a better man.
(Supergirl holds her hand out.  The robber slowly takes his finger off the trigger as James Olsen raises his camera and takes a picture as Supergirl smiles softly at the robber.)

James: When you take a picture of someone, it's permanent. And you've captured the truth of them in that moment. And that you can keep forever. And (clears throat) the truth of this moment...(James holds up the picture of Kara and the robber) is that you don't even need powers to be a hero.

Dir. Henshaw: You're wondering how I got out of a pair of locked handcuffs?
Alex: (nodding) For starters.
Dir. Henshaw: There's only one other living person who knows the truth. You sure you want to hear this?
(Alex just stares at him)
Dir. Henshaw:
You can't share this with anyone. Not even Kara. Can you do that?
Alex: You're the one who taught me to keep secrets from her.
Dir. Henshaw: I am not Hank Henshaw. He died the same night as your father. The DEO had been pursuing an alien for months. Not one of the Fort Rozz prisoners but... an innocent one. Stranded on this planet. With the help of your father, the DEO tracked the alien to a remote location in Peru. Henshaw led the squadron sent to terminate him.
Alex: My father would never have been part of a mission like that.
Dir. Henshaw: You're right. Jeremiah Danvers was a good man. He realized the alien they were hunting wasn't a threat. He was a refugee, like your sister. The sole survivor of a lost world. Your father tried to stop the mission, but Henshaw... was obsessed. He'd finally trapped the alien he'd been hunting for so long. So Jeremiah made the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life to save that alien. (pause) Your father died a hero.
Alex: That alien...Is that you?
(Dir. Henshaw nods)
But how... are you him?
Dir. Henshaw: I am a shape-shifter. When Hank Henshaw died, I assumed his identity to reform the DEO. But I also made your father a promise - that I would take care of his daughter. I recruited you so that I would honor that promise and protect you as if you were my own child.
Alex: If you're not Hank Henshaw, then who are you?
(Henshaw's eyes begin to glow red as he turns away from Alex)
Dir. Henshaw:
I am the sole survivor of my planet.  The last son of Mars.
(Henshaw turns around to face Alex, shifting into a green-skinned man with a bald head in a strange alien uniform)
J'onn J'onzz: My name... is J'onn J'onzz.

Supergirl: I heard your amazing broadcast today. Thank you.
Cat: Well, thank you for the complement. Now where the hell were you?! How could you up and leave in the middle of the worst disaster in decades?
Supergirl: I didn't mean to scare you -
Cat: Oh no. No, you didn't scare ME. But regular people, they're starting to depend on you. It's easy for them to feel abandoned. You have to understand that most people out there spend most of their lives feeling isolated and alone. And when a tragedy strikes, they look to their heroes not only for rescue but for solace. And consistency.
Supergirl: That's why I'm glad they have you. You gave them hope today. I know that you inspired them. Because you inspired me.

Dialogue Disasters

The entire exchange between Winn and Kara after Winn walks in on her and James hugging.  The good news is that after seven episodes they've finally developed a personality for Winn beyond comic relief techie. The bad news is that personality is that of a whiny "nice guy".


The hologram of Alura is seen for the first time since 102. She reassures Kara that her power loss is likely temporary and she'll be back to normal after she absorbs enough yellow solar energy.

It is noted - by both Alex, James and Maxwell Lord - that Superman has lost his powers temporarily as well, but never for longer than 48 hours at a time.

Lucy and James are moving in together.

Superman calls the heat-vision blast that drains his cells for a few day The Solar Flare.

Maxwell Lord is a medical doctor, having gone through medical school in one year.

The daughter of the man Maxwell Lord tries to save says she once saw Supergirl carry a man to the hospital on the news. This could be a reference to 102, where Supergirl airlifted an amublacnce that was stuck in traffic.

The first picture James ever took was of his father, who bought him his first camera as a gift before leaving for The Gulf War. He died overseas. Kara says James looks like him.

It is revealed that Hank Henshaw is not actually Hank Henshaw but an alien named J'onn J'onzz - a Martian shape-shifter, who took on Henshaw's identity after Jeremiah Danvers sacrificed himself to save J'onn from an Ahab-esque Henshaw. J'onn promised Danvers that he would look after his daughter, which is why he recruited Alex into the DEO.

General Astra, Commander Gor and Lieutenant Mur are seen for the first time since 102,

The Fridge Factor

The circumstances of the dying man's condition coupled with Maxwell Lord's words only serve to make Kara feel more powerless than ever. It's all so contrived one wonders if Lord somehow set this up as a way to taunt Kara, having figured out she's Supergirl - what with the dying man's daughter wishing Supergirl could fly him to the hospital and Lord saying there's nothing they can do with out an x-ray machine.

On that note, it's horrible on SO many levels that Kara is made to feel guilty over Winn's bratty response to her and James having a tender moment and is all but begging for his friendship at the end of the episode.

The Bottom Line

The strongest episode of the series to date. Granting that there's a lot of contrivances to push the idea of Kara suddenly feeling powerless when she'd been living a normal life until a few weeks ago, Kara and James having most of the episode together makes up for a lot. And as utterly cheesy as the hunt for Jemm is with Alex acting increasingly deranged due to her sudden mistrust for Henshaw, the revelation that we've got the freaking Martian Manhunter as a regular member of the cast makes up for a lot. Cat Grant is no longer grating and actually comes off as kind of awesome in this episode. The only real problem is that it seems like we're supposed to sympathize with Winn's unrequited crush on Kara when he comes off as a creepy stalker rather than a befuddled geek. But then I think about the sequence with the robbers where Kara gets three men to surrender by appealing to their better nature and I think to myself "This is a pretty damn good show that gets what heroism is about."

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Thirteen

In which we have our first encounter with a group of Super Mutants, save another homestead from Raiders and get a bird's-eye view of Boston-What-Was.

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #14 - A Review

With Clara Oswald and a fireman named Sam (go ahead and joke - he's used to it) in tow, The Doctor readies an assault on the alien Hyperions. Their mission: to stop the living fire-beings from completing the construction of an energy cage that will kill Earth's sun! But even with the unexpected aid of a Hyperion fusion angel The Doctor freed from slavery, the task will not be an easy one...

Robbie Morrison's scripts for this series are as rich and captivating as any episode of the Doctor Who program. The supporting characters created for this story are wonderful and one wishes we could see more of Sam The Fireman (who cleverly intuits that some previously unnamed part of the TARDIS interior is a fire extinguisher) in future stories. There's a lot of clever nods and references to other works of science-fiction as well, with The Doctor providing Clara and Sam with jumpsuits made of unstable molecules and The Doctor making reference to an Ice-9 reactor. And the subplot involving the freed fusion angel - who has the memories of an astronaut who was one of the Hyperion's first victims - proves truly heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, the artwork by Ronilson Friere fails to live up to the quality of Morrison's script. There's very little sense of consistency from panel to panel and Friere only manages to successfully caricature The Doctor and Clara half the time, if that. And his take on Kate Lethbridge-Stewart bears no resemblance at all to her actress on the show. The line-work in general is also far too busy.

This Damned Band #5 - A Review

The rock band Motherfather got into Satanism as a publicity stunt. At least, most of the band did. But now, with more and more of their groupies disappearing and their manager becoming increasingly distant and creepy as they get ever closer to their tour's final performance in Austin, Texas, some of the band are more anxious than ever to get out of the business. Unfortunately for them, all Hell is about to break loose...

This fifth issue stands in marked contrast to the rest.  There's less overt humor than in the previous issues, as most of the issue concerns itself with the plot rather than the sheer lunacy of the characters involved. Thankfully, the action and plot are as strong and gripping as ever. Well done, Paul Cornell!

Tony Parker's artwork continues to impress as well. There's some truly breath-taking visuals in this issue and again I wish that Image migh publishe some of the Motherfather album covers and mock-concert posters as real posters. I'd gladly hang some of these on my wall.