Monday, November 30, 2015

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 6 - Red Faced

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


As Cat Grant's mother comes to visit and Winn offers Alex his help in investigating her father's death, Kara loses control while helping test a military-grade cyborg commissioned by General Sam Lane.


The Supergirl comics of Sterling Gates (General Lane having a hatred of all aliens), The Flash comics of John Broome (T.O. Morrow) and  the Justice League of America comics of Gardner Fox (Red Tornado).


To be quite frank, the core idea of this episode - that Kara has suddenly developed anger-management issues - doesn't ring true given that she's been continually holding back for the better part of 12 years. Most of this episode's problems stem from that logical disconnect.

For instance, granting that there is a double-standard regarding women being allowed to express anger (as Cat Grant points out), one might expect the double-standard regarding men hitting women to work in Kara's favor in the road-rage case. Given that the target of Supergirl's anger is a road-raging jackass who was unconcerned about the fact that he nearly plowed through a crosswalk full of children and lacked the faculties to realize that taking a swing at Supergirl was an incredibly bad idea, it seems completely random that all of the media everywhere runs with the story that Supergirl put two men in the hospital because of her anger rather than the fact that she saved the lives of a dozen children from two complete idiots.

Cat Grant's mother - who pals around with the likes of Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood is enough of an old-school feminist to criticize Cat dubbing a heroine Supergirl instead of Superwoman yet still traditional enough to think only men should be doctors?

Why on Earth would the US Army ever allow an untested potentially independent drone like The Red Tornado to be tested close to a major city? Either General Lane was totally ignorant as to that capability (unlikely given his control freak nature) or he was actively hoping to force an incident that would embarrass and/or kill Supergirl.

Why did they allow Dr. Morrow into the top-secret DEO base when Lane was getting ready to fire him?

On that note, General Lane has got to be the biggest idiot in the world - firing the person who knows more about the RT project than anyone right after said project goes rogue. At least keep him around until after the situation is neutralized THEN throw him under the bus when the inevitable investigations start.

The CGI for the tornado effects is just awful.While I'm willing to allow that National City has highly advanced buildings capable of withstanding tornado-force winds with no obvious signs of strain, I refuse to believe that there's some technical property that prevents the carts on the street from being moved by the high winds.

Did it really take Maxwell Lord to point out to the DEO that maybe The Red Tornado was being controlled by the disenchanted inventor who just got fired by General Lane?

Where did Kara get an abandoned space to turn into a gym? Or a car to beat up on? (Maybe the DEO set it up?)

Morrow has amazing fighting skills for a scientist with no life outside of building robots, proving capable of holding his own against a highly-trained DEO field agent.

Winn is finally given a chance to do something besides be the comic relief... and it's all handled entirely off-camera!


Once again, the best parts of the episode are Mehcad Brooks and Melissa Benoist playing off of one-another. The two have a great chemistry together and it truly kills you that James and Kara aren't together.

Calista Flockhart gets to further humanize Cat Grant in this episode and show that there truly is a decent person somewhere under all the snark and cynicism. It's just a shame that humanization only comes in the face of an even more cartoonish caricature of an empowered woman...


The final fight between Red Tornado and Supergirl, inter-cut with the fight between Dr. Morrow and Alex Danvers, is efficiently edited and plays quite well.

Super Trivia

As in the comics, US Army General Sam Lane is a xenophobic military leader and the father of Lois and Lucy Lane. He disapproved of Lois marrying Clark Kent, who he thought was too weak-willed to be worthy of his daughter. He faked his death in order to take over a US Army covert operation called Project 7734, which was developing resources for use against alien invaders.

The DCTVU version of Sam Lane is exactly like his comic-book counterpart. His opinions regarding James Olsen's suitability for his daughter Lucy mirror those of the comics General Lane regarding Clark Kent and Lois Lane. He also hates aliens for no logical reason.

Dr. T.O. Morrow first appeared in comics as an enemy of The Flash. His full name was Thomas Oscar Morrow and he had developed a television set that allowed him to see 100 years into the future. He attempted to replicated the technology he saw there and used it to commit crimes to fund his own research into time travel. He was also a master of robotics.

After Crisis On Infinite Earths, a slight retcon changed Dr. T.O. Morrow's full name to Tomek Ovadaya Morah and made him of Polish/Jewish descent. This didn't change much of his background or motivations, apart from giving him an incentive once to help Wonder Woman in fighting a neo-Nazi villain.

There was an earlier Dr. T.O. Morrow during the Golden Age of Comics, who has a similar gimmick and fought the hero Shining Knight. This T.O. Morrow pretended to be an explorer from the future in order to scam rare materials from other scientists.

One of T.O. Morrow's schemes involved creating a mechanical superhero that he would use to infiltrate The Justice Society of America. He dubbed his creation The Red Tornado. But unbeknownst to Morrow, his creation was possessed by an alien nature spirit (aka The Tornado Champion), who developed amnesia shortly after taking over The Red Tornado's body while still maintaining the alien spirit's strict moral code.

Very little of this comes into play regarding the DCTVU versions of Dr. Morrow and The Red Tornado. Here, apart from a sudden unexplained bout of sentience after Morrow's death, The Red Tornado is an electronic proxy rather than a thinking being.

When Alex Danvers meets with Maxwell Lord for the second time, she suddenly tells him about her father's mysterious death and wonders out-loud why she told him about that. This could be a hint to the comics, where Maxwell Lord was a low-level telepath whose abilities manifested early on as an ability to plant simple suggestions and come off as trustworthy.


Morrow describes The Red Tornado (aka Project RT) as being, "not a robot" but a "anthropomorphic pseudo-entity with combat capabilities." It has an emergency self-preservation function which is triggered after it loses an arm. When it goes into stealth mode it becomes 100% undetectable, defying even Supergirl's super-senses. It took 11 years and one billion dollars to develop.

Supergirl's Super-Breath is capable of chilling an object to absolute zero.

The Red Tornado's dermal covering is made of a bio-synthetic polymer with traces of lead that make it impenetrable to a Kryptonian's X-Ray vision. Based on that, Henshaw deduces that The Red Tornado's purpose was to kill Superman and Supergirl.

Maxwell Lord notes that the arm for The Red Tornado that he saw seems to have come from a drone with an incredibly advanced GPS rather than an independent robot. In other words, Morrow has to be controlling it and sending it after General Lane.

The DEO has Kryptonian technology that enables it to project a thermally accurate three-dimensional hologram over a distance of at least 70 miles.

Morrow runs The Red Tornado's cerebral matrix through a telepathic relay interface. The only way to shut it down is to kill Morrow.  Even after Alex does this, The Red Tornado somehow achieves sentience and still tries to kill Supergirl.

Dialogue Triumphs

The way James says "Affirmative" when Lucy asks if she can tell her father 'yes' to the two of them having dinner with him. The tone is subtly mocking, as James knows General Lane is the sort of military tight-ass who would want to hear Affirmative rather than Yes.

(After General Lane describes all the monsters the DEO has captured)
General Lane: Do you know the difference between them and her? She's blonde.
Director Henshaw: She saved you and your daughter tonight! You don't owe her fear and contempt! You owe her a thank you!

(Kara has set up a gym of sorts for herself and James so they can vent their rage together)
Ok. (James begins unloading on the punching bag) I can't stand Lucy's dad.
Kara: (Kara begins punching a car) I can't stand him either.
James: I hate how he gets involved in our relationship. And I am NOT holding Lucy back!
Kara: I can't stand the way Cat treats me!
James: And I really cannot stand how he talks about your cousin!
Kara: I hate how my emotions get the best of me. And I hate how my sister doesn't know what happened to her father.! And I hate that I am never gonna get to have a normal life!
(Kara sends part of the car innards flying)

Dialogue Disasters

Director Henshaw:  I am not mad. I am... controlling my anger. (Which you wouldn't need to do if you weren't mad...)

Director Henshaw: I suggest you get into the habit. You know, I once told you there are people out there who fear your cousin. It's not because he has god-like powers. It's because of what he might do with them if he ever lost his temper. (Because they're afraid of his powers...)

Quite honestly, about 90% of the script.


Alex and Kara tell Winn what they discovered about Jeremiah Danvers' death in 104.

The President in the reality of Supergirl is a woman.

Supergirl has apparently learned how to control her Super-Breath since 102.

Maxwell Lord refers to the death of his parents, as he did in 105.

Winn discovers that Jeremiah Danvers disappeared and was presumed dead while on a mission with another agent in South America. The other agent was also presumed dead, until he reappeared a month later with no memory of what had happened.  The other agent was Hank Henshaw.

At the end of the episode, Kara cuts herself on a broken piece of glass.

The Fridge Factor

Kara is attacked on all fronts throughout the episode and isn't really allowed to defend herself, purely so that her two harshest critics - Director Henshaw and Cat Grant - can come to her defense in the face of the just plain evil General Lane and Cat Grant's mother. The worst part is that Kara's sudden anger-management issues seemingly came about because James Olsen is back together with his ex-girlfriend.

The Kryptonite Factor

The entire episode is entirely dependent upon the public suddenly being afraid of Supergirl after she breaks the hand of one idiot who tried taking a swing at her, the media running with the idea of her being out of control and General Sam Lane being completely untouchable from any sort of scandal while still being blisteringly incompetent at his job.

The Bottom Line

The first truly disappointing episode of Supergirl to date. Ignoring the waste of introducing T.O. Morrow and The Red Tornado only to kill them off (yes, I know there's a few ways they can bring Red Tornado back but I'm ignoring those for the moment), the whole episode is mean-spirited and ill-conceived given that everything is built around the concept of Kara having trouble repressing her anger when everything about her character to date has been built around how repressed she is. The one saving grace of the episode is that Cat Grant is allowed to move beyond being a cartoon character for a moment, albeit it entirely as a reaction against her even more cartoonish mother.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Ten

In which we finally manage to pick some locks, spend way too long looking for something I fail to realize I already picked up and have our first encounter with the Brotherhood of Steel and a ton of ghouls!

Having trouble with the lock-picking interface loading in the PC version?  Try this.

1280x1024 Resoultion Fixes by Koloses:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

John Carter: Warlord of Mars #13 - A Review

John Carter and Dejah Thoris have been trapped in the desert wastes for five days. Things look grim until they find an oasis... and barely survive a deadly encounter with a creature dwelling in the inviting waters. This leads them into an underground city... and a deadly secret that could lay waste to all of Barasoom!

This story by Ron Marz and Ian Edginton proves exciting enough and worthy of the legacy of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I particularly like how realistic survival skills are depicted throughout the issue. Though I question the efficiency of bullets that explode upon being exposed to sunlight underwater, I'm willing to write that off as pulp science being pulp science and merely enjoy the fact that it is the scientist Dejah, not John the adventurer, who takes the lead in this adventure.

Ariel Medel continues to deliver some impressive visuals. Of particular note is the two-page spread where we first see the vast underground city John and Dejah discover and we see their conversation unfold as they move through the great backdrop Medel has created. The colors by Nanjan Jamberi perfectly finish Medel's pencils and inks.

Superman: Lois And Clark #2 - A Review

Thanks to the secret intervention of Clark Kent, The Space Shuttle Excalibur has landed safely, though the crew has mysteriously vanished! This is a matter of great concern to Mr. Chambers - a government agent who seems as mysterious as the incidents he investigates. But Clark Kent has other concerns of his own. Namely, the armed men who are chasing after his wife and son...

The plot thickens in this second issue of Superman: Lois and Clark, though not much happens beyond laying more ground work for the new series. This is a different kind of Superman story and one I'm glad to see being told. Most of the issue's focus is off of Clark Kent and set on Lois Lane, who proves as capable a heroine as ever in defending herself and her son before Clark shows up.

One wonders how long they're going to try and deny their secret lives as savior of the world and investigative author to their son. This issue shows that  Jonathan iss already becoming suspicious of his parents' lies... even without the hint he's discovered his super-hearing at issue's end.  Still, the story by Dan Jurgens is tightly-plotted and riveting to read.

Jurgen's script comes to life perfectly under the art team's direction. Lee Weeks' character designs look great and his pencils are perfectly enhanced by Scott Hanna's inks. And the colors by Brad Anderson are well-chosen.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

All-New Wolverine #2 - A Review

Identity issues are part of the package when you're a clone. Yet Laura Kinney is experiencing a whole new range of odd emotions with the discovery that she has "sisters" - imperfect clones who lack her powers but have been granted a superhuman-tolerance for pain and a complete lack of empathy. Or so the scientists who created them claim. Of course Laura would be reluctant to kill these girls even without her suspicions there's more going on than is obvious. But will the trio of remaining assassins have the same qualms about sparing her if The Wolverine forces a fight?

Any fears that Tom Taylor might be forced to hold back on the humor while writing a dour, serious X-Title have proven totally unfounded. While not as uproariously funny as his work on Superior Iron Man, there are still some truly funny bits amid the action of this issue. And the action is top-notch as well!

Taylor's scripts are brought to life beautifully by David Lopez and David Navarrot. The character designs give each of the Laura Kinney clones a distinct look. There's no trouble telling who is who, even ignoring the differences in age and one of the clones being an albino.  It's a subtle touch but a nice one and it's good to see they didn't leave the characters' visual identity entirely in the hands of colorist Nathan Fairbairn.

Rick and Morty #8 - A Review

Many holidays are celebrated in the vast expanse of the multiverse and Rick and Morty have discovered a new one - Blumbus. It's a bit like Christmas, only their version of Santa Claus is a pervy old man with the legs of a spider. Naturally, Morty is fascinated by the little differences while Rick only cares in so far as the holiday makes it harder for him to find an open bar.

Yet Rick and Morty will both find themselves caring quite a bit about The Blumbus Spirit very soon. For another time-honored Blumbus tradition involves taking strange teenage boys into your home on Blumbus Eve and allowing them to mate with your daughter... before the whole family settles in for a glorious feast on their new "son-in-law". And Morty just caught the attention of a very affectionate young blonde...

Zac Gorman pulls double duty as both writer and artist on the main story this month. Gorman's style doesn't quite fit the usual house-style this book usually adheres to but Rick and Morty are still easily identifiable. The final product looks like a combination of the standard Rick and Morty animation and Edward Gorey, which is oddly appropriate for a twisted holiday tale like this.

There's also a wonderful little back-up comic, also written by Gorman, with artwork by Marc Ellerby that I couldn't include any scans of due to its brevity. Suffice it to say, we get some goodly parodies of It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. And the color art by Ryan Hill in both comics looks wonderful.

All in all, this issue is a welcome antidote to the forced holiday cheer that is so prevalent at this time of year. And it's a story worthy of the Rick and Morty cartoon. A splendid Blumbus to you all!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Superman #46 - A Review

Clark Kent's quest to find the sinister hacker HORDR has led him to Oakland, California. Flat broke and unemployed, he's forced to join Mythbrawl - a fighting league where the gods of old replay the stories of their mythology with a modern flare, in the guise of actors. Clark feels oddly at home among his new friends... until the one friend he has left from his old life reappears just as Clark finally gets a lead on HORDR's whereabouts.

I noted last month that Howard Porter's style has change dramatically in recent years. His figures are as bold and brave as ever, but there is a bit more fine detail than I recall in his earlier works. And the colors by Hi-Fi leave everything looking as super as one would expect.

If Neil Gaiman had ever been given a chance to extensively play with the Superman mythos and explore the idea of Superman as a modern god, I don't think he could have done quite so fine a job as what Gene Luen Yang has done here, though it might be similar in scope and shape. This doesn't read like any Superman story I've ever seen before and that's a welcome thing. I shan't spoil the end of this issue, though I will say I'm cynical there will be any lasting changes.  That being said, I still can't wait for the next one.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Nine

In which we recruit our first settlement into The Minuteman Nation, discover our first map-friendly shop and spend way too long looking for a key so I can avoid dealing with the lock-picking bug.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Eight

In which I plan to take the stealthy approach in infiltrating the Corvega Car Factory that the raiders have taken over as a base. And then wind up shooting my way through the whole thing anyway because my dog keeps charging mechanical turrets... and biting through them!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 5 - How Does She Do It?

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


Kara must simultaneously protect National City from a mad bomber while also babysitting Cat Grant's son, Carter. Meanwhile, James copes with the sudden reemergence of Lucy Lane - his ex-fiance.


Doctor Who (The DEO's shifting ID badges are reminiscent of The Doctor's psychic paper) and John Byrne's Man of Steel comic series, where Lex Luthor faked a terrorist attack to get Superman's attention and test his skills in a manner similar to what Maxwell Lord does with Supergirl here.


Why is Alex analyzing the drones and bombs when her she's an expert on alien biology - not technology?

Where does Kara get her street clothes from when she flies to pick up Carter? We don't see her carrying a bag.

For a train capable of traveling at 500 kph, The Super Rail takes its sweet time getting out of National City. Either that or National City is huge, given how much time the train spends running before Supergirl stops it.


It's a brief moment, but we see something of Alex Danvers' brains and strength as she picks apart Maxwell Lord's invention and doesn't back down when he starts trying to push her buttons. It's a wonderfully subtle performance from Chyler Leigh, who probably gets the least chance to be subtle out of all the cast.

Jenna Dewan Tatum manages the difficult task of making Lucy Lance sympathetic, even though she does seem to be primarily responsible for her relationship with James going south. As she says - how can you resent a guy who keeps ditching dates to help Superman save people? But we get enough hints of her being a good person (even before we see her escorting an old woman out of a danger zone)

Again, Peter Facinelli plays a wonderfully smug - yet oddly sympathetic at times - Maxwell Lord.

Melissa Benoist is always a delight as Kara but I specially like the way she gets astonished that a woman like Lucy Lane sees her as a romantic rival or that Carter Grant has a crush on Supergirl. And once again, the chemistry between herself and Mechad Brooks as James Olsen is the best part of the show.


The opening sequence in which Kara gets into a dog fight with a drone is amazing. Cinema-quality flying effects.

The scene of James speeding to the airport to stop Lucy after he hears about the bomb there as Kara flies past him going to stop the bomb on the train is a nice bit of visual juxtaposition.

Super Trivia

This was originally meant to be Episode 104 and was scheduled to air on November 16, 2015. Due to the plot involving terrorist bombings, it was decided to postpone this episode's air date for one week and the original episode 105 (i.e Livewire) was aired in its place.

Cat Grant wins the Siegel Price For Women In Media. This is a clear nod to Jerry Siegel - the writer who co-created Superman with artist Joe Shuster.

We see Hank Henshaw's eyes glowing as he begins to disassemble the bomb at the airport. This would seem to be an indicator that the DCTVU version of Hank Henshaw has the same mechanical empathy technopathy powers as his comic-book counterpart, who later became The Cyborg Superman.

The bar/restaurant which Kara meets Lucy at is called Noonan's. This may be an ironic nod to Noonan's Sleazy Bar - the favorite watering hole of super-powered assassin Tommy "Hitman" Monaghan in the comic Hitman.


The drones following Supergirl are advanced Earth technology - not alien.

Kara is capable of lifting the weight of 120 pounds per square foot multiplied by five floors. Sadly, without a length and width of the space she was supporting, this doesn't give us enough information for an exact measurement of her strength.

The lab that was blown up was developing a cutting-edge non-lithium battery.

Both the drones following Kara and the bomb used an advanced fiber-optics relay system developed by Lord Technologies, that is not on the market yet.

The DEO have special badges that can be made to hologramatically appear to be other forms of identification. In this case, Alex changes her ID to read FBI instead of DEO.

Maxwell Lord's Super-Rail train runs on electromagnetic propulsion. The lack of friction allows it to reach speeds of 500 kph. The mag coils use liquid helium as a coolant to prevent overheating. Liquid helium is used to prevent the creation of hazardous byproducts.

Maxwell Lord dismisses the idea that the second bomb could go off by handling it, due to it having the fulcrum weight of a helium core.

The second bomb has the capacity to produce an over-pressure of 2,000 pounds per square inch. That's enough force to level 30 city blocks.

Supergirl can reach speeds of, at least, just under Mach Two (1522 mph).

The DEO developed a device that basically appears to be a high-tech tanning bed. It emits concentrated solar waves mimicing the light of Earth's yellow sun. This recharges Kryptonian physique and hastens her healing abilities.

Knox's body bomb is rigged with an altimeter. This will cause it to go off if he is moved.

Alex examines the airport bomb and determines that it had a remote kill-switch. This calls into question Henshaw's claims that the bomb was a dud.

Dialogue Triumphs

That sounds like a woman who knows what she wants. (quickly) I used my regular hearing on that.
James: All that she wants is to win everything. Win every case, every argument. And now she wants to win me.
Kara: Because you broke up with her?
James: Uh... I moved away. After she dumped me.
Kara: How did... (laughing) How is that even possible?
James: She's obsessed with her career. And I was a distraction.
Kara: Well, you're... You're totally not a distraction.

Carter Grant: My mom says it's okay to be a nerd. She says if you can face your fears and come out of your shell, then... nerds can win in the end.
Kara: God, I hope so.

Max Lord: Tell me, Agent Danvers, why are you wasting that brain kicking down doors for the government?
Alex: Why do you mistrust the government so much?
Max Lord: Answering with a question, keep the subject talking. Basic field agent procedure. And here I thought we had something special.
Alex: Okay, fine. I work for the government because I believe there's no higher calling than helping others.
Max Lord: I feel the same way. Only I do it without a gun. The world needs a new kind of hero.
Alex: I thought we just got one.
Max Lord: (chuckles) Supergirl's just a glorified fireman. She's not going to solve the underlying problems that are actually destroying this planet.
Alex: You really don't trust anyone, do you?
Max Lord: I've never met anyone worth trusting.
Alex: Well, that is a very lonely way to live.
Max Lord: You have no idea.

Kara: I need you to watch Ms. Grant's son.
Winn: Whoa! Like, really? 'Cause I am not good with kids.
Kara: (beat) You eat cereal for dinner and your desk is covered with toys.
Winn: They are NOT toys! They are adult collectibles!

Lucy: Jimmy thinks my work came between us, but he's wrong. Maybe I should've appreciated him more, but the reason I prioritize work, is because he prioritized... him.
Kara: Superman.
Lucy: No matter where we were or what we were doing, Jimmy took off the moment Superman called. And I couldn't complain, because of course they were off saving people's lives. He says I left him, but... he left us first.
Kara: (stammers) Lucy, I'm so sorry.
Lucy: And this hero wears a skirt! How am I ever gonna compete with her?

Alex: Why are you fighting me? I'm trying to protect your train.
Max Lord: I don't put much faith in the government's idea of protection.
Alex: I read your file. Your parents were doctors who developed vaccines against bio-weapons. They worked for the government. They didn't see it as the enemy.
Max Lord: No, they didn't. So when they raised concerns about the safety of their lab, they trusted the government's findings. "Acceptable risk levels." Two months later, an air system malfunctioned. A virus entered their pressure suits... Their internal organs melted. When it was all over, there was nothing left to bury.
Alex: I'm sorry.
Max Lord: (scoffs) That's the first apology the government's ever given me.
Alex: They covered it up.
Max Lord: You can't be surprised.
Alex: What happened to you was a tragedy. I'm trying to prevent another one. Rejecting our help is not rational. You are a man of logic, Max.
Max Lord: I'm also an orphan. We don't get over things easily.

Kara: Look, I don't know anything about romantic love. I have not had the best luck with it. But if I ever really had it, I think I'd fight for it.
James: I already put that behind me, Kara. I don't want to go back there. I - I don't want to do that again.
Kara: Who does? But, I mean, are you really ready to move on? Because if you're not, that might not be fair.
James: Fair to whom?
Kara: To... whomever comes next.

Max Lord: (chuckles) What can I get you? Or are you not allowed to drink and fly? I don't know the rules.
Supergirl: Caught your press conference. I was surprised, you're usually a little more glib.
Max Lord: There was nothing to be glib about. A sick little girl lost her father.
Supergirl: That little girl's being treated by a doctor who has a lifetime grant from your company. You said tonight you always build in fail-safes. Like the kill switches in those bombs. Something tells me that there was a fail-safe in Knox's bomb, too. One that you could've remotely activated if I didn't save you in time. You forced Knox to plant those bombs in exchange for saving his daughter's life.
Max Lord: I would never barter a child's life. I can't speak for Knox's motives. He clearly went insane.
Supergirl: Maybe you didn't expect Knox to vaporize himself, but I do know this was all a ruse. I just can't figure out why you did it.
Max Lord: Fascinating theory. Unprovable, but worth exploring. I suspect that whoever is responsible for these attacks might be curious about you, Supergirl. What is she made of? How does she do it?
Supergirl: (realization) You were testing me.
Max Lord: (laughs) And what would these tests have shown us? The drone would have measured your agility. The building explosion, your strength. The next bomb would've demonstrated your speed while also revealing you're not actually invincible.
(Supergirl sighs)
Max Lord: But the results of that last test are the most intriguing of all. You chose to save a hundred people on that train, instead of thousands at the airport. One might deduce that there was someone on that train that you cared about. And finding that person is the key to revealing who you really are... when you're not flying around wearing that "S."
Supergirl: For the record, I care about everyone. You may have fooled this city, but I know you were behind this. And I'm watching you. This isn't over.
Max Lord: Finally, something we can agree on. The fun is just beginning.


Director Henshawk asks if the drone following Kara could have been sent by Astra, last seen in 102.
This is the first year Cat Grant has gotten the Siegel award.

Lois Lane has a freckled nose.

Lucy Lane is a military lawyer, working out of the Judge Advocate General division. She dislikes handling AWOL cases. She dumped James Olsen before he moved away.

Cat Grant's son Carter appears for the first time. He's an avid Supergirl fan.

A news report mentions Maxwell Lord's super-train from 102.

Carter refers to Supergirl beating Reactron in 103.

Kara refers to Cat trying to get James to use his connections to introduce her to Supergirl in 102.

Kara sees Director Henshaw's eyes glowing red while barely drifting in and out of consciousness in the DEO headquarters.

Lucy refers to James fighting Reactron alongside Supergirl from 103.

Maxwell Lord also owns an airline - Lord Air.

Director Henshaw is confirmed to have some kind of power, which he uses to deactivate the airport bomb.

Winn is capable of hacking hospital records.

The Bottom Line

Possibly the best episode of the series to date and not just because it's so light on Cat Grant. Everything just clicks here. The direction. The effects. The performances. It's all good.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Seven

In which I show off what I've done to Pimp My Sanctuary, start working my way southward towards a raider base, and discover the drawbacks to using a laser rifle for deer hunting.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Astonishing Ant-Man #2 - A Review

So... yeah. Scott Lang is in prison. Again.

How did he get there?  We're not sure yet. What we are sure of is that Scott's life was pretty bad even before that happened.

Not only did the latest job for his hemorrhaging security company bring him back into contact with the ex-girlfriend he never got around to breaking up with (Darla Deering a.k.a. The Ever-Lovin' Ms. Thing) but now his employees are returning to super-villainy.  In the employ of his arch enemy's son and brother, no less! And - oh yeah - a spurned stage magician with real magic powers tried to kill him while his ex-girlfriend was in the middle of trying to kill him.

Put Mel Brooks in charge of writing and directing the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film and you might get something as ludicrously brilliant as Astonishing Ant-Man. This series has been a laugh riot since - uh - the last Ant Man series by the same creative team. Yet despite this book being largely a comedy, Nick Spencer still makes Scott into a likable and sympathetic protagonist in spite of some of his problems being due to poor judgement rather than simple bad luck.

The scripts are well-matched by the artwork. Artist Ramon Rosanas draws everything in the usual Mighty Marvel fashion, with everything looking heroic and dynamic... even as Scott is being mauled by bunnies and doves.  And the color art by Jordan Boyd makes everything jump off the page.

Clean Room #2 - A Review

Freelance journalist Chloe Pierce lost her fiance after he committed suicide shortly after becoming a devotee of self-help guru Astrid Mueller. Convinced that Mueller is hiding something even before uncovering a trail of similarly broken people who died after giving themselves over Mueller's organization, Pierce arranges an interview and forces a confrontation. And now she is about to be given a glimpse at The Clean Room...

It is not astonishing that Gail Simone - the queen of dark comic comedy - should write so chilling and thrilling a graphic novel as Clean Room. What is astonishing is that she did not write such a series sooner. Simone has dealt with disturbing subject matter before but never with such stark realism or coolness. It's unclear precisely where this series is going after two chapters but I would favorably compare it to any season of American Horror Story.

Of course a graphic novel is only as good as its artist and Simone has a perfect partner in Jon Davis-Hunt. His style would not look out of place in a mainstream superhero book, with smoothly defined characters and realistic proportions. When it comes time to depict the monsters under the bed, however, Davis-Hunt is more than capable of rendering a suitably stylized demon.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sam Wilson: Captain America #3 - A Review

Captain America is on the trail of Dr. Malus - one of many mad scientists using captured refugees fleeing to America as test subjects for their twisted experiments! But Malus is cannier than most and had a trap set for any heroes who came after him. Now Sam Wilson has become another of the bad doctor's experiments... and The Cap-Wolf has returned!

After two mostly serious issues dealing with current events, Nick Spencer delivers a story more in line with his usual comedic flair. Spencer revels in the lunacy of the Marvel Universe like few other writers and the humor takes center-stage this time around. After all, if you can't laugh at a flying werewolf Captain America, what can you laugh at?

Daniel Acuna does his usual fantastic job on the artwork, with an assist from Mike Choi this time around. Acuna's style is well suited to the stories Spencer crafts, being gritty and rough in design yet brightly colored.  Symbolically, it's as if the hope and idealism of America is shining through into the dark world that Sam Wilson inhabits.

Secret Six #8 - A Review

Black Alice's powers are out of control. And the only thing that may save her life (and the world) is the destruction of four magical columns. At least, that's what the ancient Atlanteans in the robes who just showed up claim. But can they be trusted? Or are the magical super-villains who were trying to kill Alice telling the truth when they say the pillars must be protected if the world is to survive? And can the rest of The Six really entrust Alice to the care of the assassins who were trying to kill them several weeks ago while they deal with sorting all this out?

The only real flaw to Gail Simone's script for this issue is that you have to have read the previous Secret Six series to get the most out of it. Granted, that's a minor concern as most of the people reading this series are probably devout Simonephiles. And a little confusion is a small price to pay for the return of Ragdoll, Jeanette the Banshee and Scandal Savage... though this runs the risk of making the book's title even more inaccurate. But that's all part of the fun.

The artwork proves equally fine.  Tom Derenick and Dale Eaglesham are at the height of their power here. And Jason Wright makes everything pop on the page with his color art.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Six

In which we set about securing the bare necessities for the new town of Sanctuary. By which I mean we build furniture instead of looking for food, water or shelter.

Also, we encourage a junkie's habit for our own benefit and start to restore the honor (such as it is) of The Minutemen.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Descender #7 - A Review

TIM-21 has been saved from the robot-cullers of Gnish, thanks to the timely arrival of some rebels from the militant robot resistance known as The Hardwire. Unfortunately, TIM-21's saviors care little for his mission to find his lost brother or his desire to save his friends!  Elsewhere, another robot bounty hunter has taken up the search for the galaxy's most wanted robot - one with his own reasons for wishing to find TIM-21.

This series is a wonder of modern science-fiction. The script by Jeff Lemire puts unique spins on several classic tropes and every issue so far has found at least one way to surprise me. And the artwork by Dustin Nguyen is brilliant in its subtlety.

If you haven't given Descender a chance yet, this is the perfect jumping-on point.  This issue is the first part of the second story arc - Machine Moon. And a handy blurb at the front of the book tells you everything you need to know. I'd still suggest tracking down the first six issues or picking up the TP collection, though.

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 7 - Brotherhood

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


Still reeling from the revelation that his brother was secretly a warlord and drug-runner in Afghanistan, John Diggle is even more stunned to learn that his brother's death may have been faked and that Andy Diggle has become a HIVE Agent! At the same time, Damien Darhk tries to win over Oliver Queen into accepting his help. And Malcolm Merlyn shows up in town, offering to help Thea find suitable targets for her rage..


The John Woo film Hard Boiled (The Thea/Andy fight was cited as a direct inspiration by director James Bamford), The New Teen Titans comics of Marv Wolfman and George Perez (HIVE, Thea's striving to conquer her emotions mirror Raven's battle to do the same), the Green Arrow comics of Elliot S! Maggin (Oliver Queen running for mayor) and Green Arrow: Year One (the Lian Yu sequences).


Again, Team Arrow's stance on non-lethal force is rather unclear with Thea being allowed to carry a sword into the field and Ollie seemingly shooting people dead even before John throws an explosive arrow into someone's chest before blowing up three HIVE ghosts.

Also, John throws an exploding arrow into someone's chest?!


David Ramsey doesn't get the center stage often on Arrow. But when he does, as he does here, it is always a special episode. The interplay between Ramsey and Stephen Amell has been a high point of Season 4 so far but it comes to a peak here.

On that note, Stephen Amell nails it when he delivers a speech that is basically the greatest summation of Oliver Queen as a character in any media - where Oliver explains that he needs to believe in the idea of redemption and that anyone, no matter how far they go into the darkness, can always find the light. This is a lesson that all the great Green Arrow writers have understood.

Like David Ramsey, Willa Holland doesn't get much chance to shine on the show and even her subplot here - which has her spazing out in front of her new love interest - seems to get the short end of the stick compared to the other on-going storylines. This is a shame because Holland herself has never been stronger as Thea than she is here, standing up to Merlyn and insisting that she will not remain a killer or kowtow to him.

Again, Neal McDonough steals every scene he is in as Damien Darhk.


The script for this episode is a work of wonder. Virtually every member of the cast is given at least one moment to shine (even Laurel!) and there are a lot of grand speeches that shouldn't work in live action but do thanks to the sterling cast.

On that note, the direction - by show fight choreographer James Bamford - is amazing. The fight scenes have never looked better and even standard moments (such as the usual entrance of the villains on motorcycles) are made more vibrant by adding in jumps.  And the fight in which Thea takes on Andy Diggle - while borrowing a fair bit from the new Daredevil show - has enough innovations that it doesn't seem like a total rip-off.


Wolfman Biologics - the company that holds that patent on Lastrapium Trioxide - is a reference to Marv Wolfman - the writer who co-created H.I.V.E. with George Perez during their now legendary run on New Teen Titans.

Another mention of the number 52 - Quentin spots a note that Darhk has some kind of business occurring at Starling Dock at Slip 52.

The name of the woman that Oliver saved in the flashback is confirmed in this episode as Taiana. This is the same name as the woman who helped Oliver during his first adventure as The Green Arrow in Green Arrow: Year One.


Ray determines that the genetic code of the HIVE agent Team Arrow took the tooth from had been selective degraded. He thinks it was done with a synthetic compound, like a chemical CRISPR/Cas9.
Specifically, it is Lastrapium Trioxide, which is a yellow liquid.

Ray is able to trace Darhk's base through the tooth, after detecting higher than normal levels of sodium fluoride in the polymer the tooth was made from.

Curtis develops a new body camera with infrared lenses that allow Felicity to see through the masks of HIVE's ghosts and identify them.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Oliver looks over the file John got from Lance about Andy Diggle)
Ollie: Where did you get this?
John: I got that from Lance. Who got it from Damien Darhk.
Ollie: John... this...
John: Pretty definitive evidence. That HIVE had Andy killed because his criminal operations conflicted with theirs.
Ollie: That doesn't track at all with what you've told me about Andy.
John: Oliver, that doesn't track with what I knew about Andy!
Ollie: But...
John: I guess I never knew him at all...
Ollie: There's got to be some explanation.  Maybe he was undercover?
John: Hey, man, listen - it's all right there.The facts are the facts.
Ollie: All I'm saying - Andy was your brother and he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Trust me. Things aren't always what they seem.

Alex: I think your brother's onto us.
Thea: No. No, and even if he was, it's not like he's the boss of me.
Alex: No. He's the boss of ME.
Thea: I know.
Alex: I'm just glad your brother's not a killer.

Oliver: What are you going to do to him?
Baron Reiter: Nothing. I believe the wrong should make things right.

(In response to the news Andy Diggle isn't dead, in the understatement of the year)
Felicity: Well, even death's not permanent anymore. 

Damien Darhk: Trust is an orchid-- beautiful but delicate. Requiring ideal conditions in order to thrive. Without those conditions, it dies. Tread carefully, Quentin. Believe it or not, the death of your daughter is not the most terrible thing that I can threaten you with.

Felicity: (To Oliver) Well, this is actually a better way than how you usually spend your evenings-- dressing in leather and tying people up.
(An older woman looks at them strangely and walks away very quickly.)

John: When I had to look... my nephew in the eye and tell him that... He was never going to see his daddy again... (Chokes up) The months after Andy died were the darkest times of my life. I would have given anything, anything to get Andy back. I would have sacrificed my life to have him back with his wife and his son. (pauses) I would have traded my life for a stranger.

Ollie: How you holding up?
John:  Ah, I guess as good as can be expected, right? Nothing really to compare this to. At least not this week.

Ollie:  I'm asking you to hold out hope for Andy because I need that hope. I need to believe that no matter what happens in our lives, no matter how much darkness infects us, I need to believe that we can come back from that!
John: And it was exactly that thinking that led you to the League last year. Doesn't seem like you learned much from that.
Ollie: Felicity told you?
John: Getting in bed with Darhk, Oliver? I don't see how you can even consider it.
Ollie: We are going to take this guy down and no idea is off the table.
John: I thought you're doing things differently, Oliver? Fighting Darhk from the inside is just fighting Darhk in the shadows. You want to do things differently? You want ideas? Fine. Let's take this son of a bitch down in the light of day.

Ray: I've been catching up on the past six months. My company, my city, my life. And I feel like Tom Sawyer watching his own funeral. Except in my case, nobody really cares.
Felicity: That is not true, Ray.
Ray: Renaming Starling Star City is nice, but then take a look to what's happened to the place. And my company - this thing I've built that was supposed to outlast me, is now on life support.
Felicity: Because it needs you.
Ray: To do what? The same thing I was doing before I died? Obviously that didn't amount to anything.
Felicity: Oh, self-pity is not a good look on you.
Ray: Ah, I don't think it's self-pity. I think it's self-reflection. If I'm going to come back to life, I have to figure out what it is that I'm living for.

(As John shoots someone who was about to kill him)
Ollie: It's, uh, nice of you to show up.
John: My brother needed me. (beat) The green one.

Ollie: Thank you all for coming. My, uh, my campaign advisor doesn't think that saving the Bay is the right fight given the state the city is in. But I'd like everyone to know that I'm not blind to Star City's problems. And I wouldn't be here today if I wasn't confident that this program could help solve them. And the reason I chose the Bay is because it's in the center of the city. It's out in the open. For everyone to see. The fight to save Star City isn't going to be fought in the shadows. It's going to be fought in the light of day. And I promise you, all of you, that I will never stop fighting to save this city!


Felicity refers to the tooth they took off the HIVE agent in 403. She and Curtis spent a month analyzing it.

John shows Oliver the file on his brother that he got from Lance in 405.

Vlad - the man Oliver killed in the flashback in 406 - was the brother of the woman whose life he saved in 404.

Thea made a D Minus in Civics.

Felicity refers to a ghost who could have killed John but didn't during a fight at a lumberyard a month earlier. This occurred in 403.

Baron Reiter has some form of magical lie-detector that looks like a bunch of twigs.

Damien Darhk refers to Jessica Danforth's short-lived run for mayor back in 402.

Felicity lists off Oliver's worst ideas from the past three years including fight dueling Ra's Al Ghul (309), infiltrating The League of Assassins (320) and dating The Huntress (108).

John refers to The Flash and The Lazarus Pit healing Thea (320) when listing off unlikely things that caused him to think about his brother coming back from the dead.

Darhk has some kind of drug - a yellow pill - that insures the obedience of his men.

The woman Oliver saved in the flashback is named Taiana. He tells her that her brother is dead but not that he did it.

HIVE is moving military crates labeled G6:5.

Darhk has some ability to teleport short distances that he uses to cut off Thea's escape.

Darhk's "death touch" ability does not work on Thea for some reason and is, in fact, turned against him.  This likely has something to do with Thea having been revived by The Lazarus Pit. Thea shares this knowledge with Merlyn.

Andy Diggle confirms that everything in the folder John has is true.

Oliver steals a map from Baron Reiter that he thinks leads to his objective.

The Bottom Line

Easily the best episode of Season 4 so far.  Everything is perfectly balanced. From the fantastic script which gives every character at least one good moment  to the direction of the fight scenes and all the nuanced performances. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Five

In which we get a hold of some power armor, survive an up close and personal encounter with a Deathclaw and get drafted.

Red Sonja/Conan #4 - A Review

Before I review Red Sonja/Conan #4, I do need to take a moment to discuss an artist who I haven't mentioned in my previous reviews of this mini-series - Ed Benes.

For those who aren't familiar with Ed Benes and his oeuvre, Mr. Benes is an artist who specializes is a style that has earned him a certain amount of derision. It is not that Mr. Benes is incapable of drawing male characters or action scenes. It's just that he's rather more famous (and infamous) for his covers and posters featuring female characters in a pin-up style.

To give you some idea, here are two of Mr. Benes' previous works involving Red Sonja.

She looks... cheeky.

Ed Benes did the main covers for every issue of Red Sonja/Conan and, if I may be charitable, they have not been his best work. Even ignoring the cheesecake angles in the above artwork and the unlikeliness of Sonja posing thus while in the middle of combat, at least it looks like she is holding her weapons properly with her feet firmly planted, Not so in this cover, where it appears that Sonja is lying on her left side while still being upright, her sword arm twisted at a weird angle. Conan's stance with his dagger twisted around the wrong way in his right hand is little better, looking equally off-balance and forced.

Seriously. Put Sonja on her side and picture her saying "Draw me like one of your Aquilonian girls".

I mention all of this to lend you perspective when I reveal a frightening fact.

This - all of this which you've seen before this sentence?

It is better than any artwork in this book's interior.

Has anyone reported this to Eschergirls yet?

Yet even this is not the worst aspect of this comic!  The grim irony of Red Sonja/Conan #4 is that Sonja is nothing but a supporting player in this book, despite getting top billing this time around. The action of the script by Victor Gischler remains firmly focused on Conan. And with the exception of the final blow against Toth Amon (a sneak attack while Conan attacks from the front), Sonja is mere eye-candy who serves no purpose for most of the issue other than to praise Conan.

At least, Sonja would be eye-candy if the artwork made her look at all attractive.

Artist Roberto Castro has no business working in professional comics. I have seen a better grasp of anatomy in the margin doodles of junior high-school students. And that is not hyperbole - remember this critic works with junior high-school students in his day job!

Castro's figures manage to look sketchy while still seeming over-inked. His take on Sonja is as cartoonishly elongated and emaciated as Aeon Flux. And I find it hard to believe that any professional editor would accept artwork where Red Sonja's left arm is growing out of her left breast! Yet here we are...

Chuck Norris has a third fist under his beard. Red Sonja has a third sword-arm under her bra.

At this point, I can safely say that Red Sonja/Conan #4 is the worst thing to feature the character of Red Sonja in 2015. And to give you some idea of how damning a statement that is, consider that the final chapter of the utterly horrible Red Sonja: The Black Tower just barely came out in 2015. For all the troubles that mini-series had (and there were many!), at least the artwork was good.

Here, the artwork and story are terrible. This mini-series is a disgrace to both Conan and Red Sonja. If you want a good Conan and Red Sonja team-up book, track down the excellent Conan/Red Sonja series by Gail Simone and Jim Zub. Accept no substitutes!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 7 - Gorilla Warfare

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


A week has passed since Zoom's attack and Barry has almost healed all of his physical injuries. But his confidence is still in critical condition and he's not sure he's the hero Central City needs any more. But ready or not, Grodd has returned and Barry will need to prove himself once more after Caitlin is kidnapped. Meanwhile, Patty begins to grow more suspicious about Barry's sick-leave and Joe's covering for him...


Countless The Flash comics where an injury sidelines Barry Allen, King Kong (giant gorilla abducts a woman who was nice to him, Caitlin is wearing all white like Fay Wray when she is abducted), the recent Planet of the Apes movies (a super-intelligent ape plots to make more of his own kind) and the original Planet of the Apes movies (the appearance of Gorilla City)


John Wesley Shipp steals the show as Henry Allen and makes us wish once again he was a series regular.


As before, the CGI for Grodd, is of amazing quality for a TV show.

Flash Facts

Barry's accelerated healing is confirmed to be strong enough to heal a broken spine in just over a week. It should be noted, however, that The Flash's accelerated healing is not the same as the regeneration other comic heroes possess. While most speedsters are depicted as being able to recover from injuries faster than a normal human (say a broken arm healing in weeks rather than months), they can do nothing to grow back severed limbs or torn cells.

Although not identified by title, it's clear from the description - "fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles" - that the movie Cisco took Kendra to see was The Princess Bride.

Patty identifies Encephalopathy as "a blood disease in the brain". Actually encephalopathy is used as a broad term to identify any kind of brain disorder. Hypersensitive encephalopathy, for instance, refers to conditions brought about through acute high blood pressure.

Cisco refers to the creature he saw in his latest vibe as "a bird man". Birdman is both the name of both an award-winning film staring Michael Keaton and a Hanna-Barbera superhero.

Cisco stands outside C.C. Jitters holding a basket over his head as Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes plays. This is a nod to the movie Say Anything.

The place Harry Wells sends Grodd appears to be Gorilla City. In the comics, Gorilla City was a society founded by super-intelligent, telepathic gorillas, who were enhanced by a meteorite. Grodd was originally a rogue member of this society in the comics.


The initial MRI Caitlin took one week before this episode showed a complete dislocation of the T12-L1 interspace of the thoracolumbar junction.

Having problems breathing is totally normal following a spinal injury.

Cortexin is a serum used to treat encephalopathy - a blood disease in the brain.

Racetam drugs are typically used to treat vertigo.

Both Cortexin and Racetaim are nootropic drugs, used to enhance intelligence.

Barry did not have any spinal cord edema or subacute hemorrhaging and the bone fused fine.

One of the main differences between ape and human brains is the white matter and connectivity in the brain cells. The chemicals Grodd was treated with as an infant were meant to overcome those differences and cause an explosive growth of both, similar to what humans experience in their first few years of life. Caitlin theorizes that those chemicals can be used to duplicate that growth without a particle accelerator explosion.

Once the speed cannon is activated, the quark matter stabilizes, stretching the nearest breach.

The Reverse Flash suit fitting inside a ring is apparently a product of micro-technology.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Barry has just blown off Patty's invitation to bring him some homemade soup.)
Okay, well... try and stay off your feet.
Barry: (shifting uncomfortably in his wheelchair) Oh yeah, believe me, I am.

Grodd: Foolish human... I am Grodd!

Cisco: Oh, hey, I know I keep asking but have you read any reports or anything recently about a Birdman attacking anywhere?
Caitlin: There's no such thing as a bird-man, Cisco.
Cisco: Okay, like that's a stretch in this city?

Harry: I'm continually amazed by the similarities between our two worlds.
Joe: You've got talking gorillas on your Earth too?
Harry: Oh yeah.
Joe: Remind me never to go there.

Barry: He showed everyone in Central City that their hero wasn't good enough to stop him.
Henry: Well, that's certainly what it looked like. Was he right?  (scoffs) Your body's healed Barry, and yet here you are - feeling the shame of loosing.
Barry: I can't stop him. I know it. He knows it. And now everyone in the city knows it too. They don't believe in me anymore, Dad.
Henry: At my trial for your mother's death, a lot of our family and friends were in the courtroom. They heard awful things about what I had done to your mother. It didn't matter that it wasn't true. Every day, I could see it on their faces, the moment when I lost them, until everybody had stopped believing in me. Well, that was my reality. I was going to serve a life sentence for a crime I didn't commit, but worse than that, every time I looked someone in the eye, from that moment forward, they were going to believe that I killed the woman I loved in front of our son. So yeah, I do know what it's like being destroyed.
Barry: How did you get past that?
Henry: I embraced it. Accepting it was the only way I could move forward. But I knew that if I could survive that, and learn to believe in myself again, then I could survive anything. You know what lit that belief in me, Barry?  You. 11-year old you running around, believing in me, gave me that hope. And now I'm giving it back to you, son. No more monsters can take that from us.

Cisco: I didn't know if you like flowers or chocolate, so I got you both.
Kendra: Well, I'm allergic to chocolate and I think flowers are a waste of money.
Cisco: Um... I have lollipops in my car?


At the start of the episode, Cisco hasn't vibed since he touched Wells last week.

Cisco vibes when taking Kendra's hand on their date. He has a winged figure in armor.

Grodd is seen for the first time since 121.

Barry hates canned chicken noodle soup.

Henry Allen has been camping in Granite Peak National Park.

Cisco explains how Grodd had his intelligence enhanced to Harry.

Cisco has Harry practice Wells' speech from 115 about him being like a son.

Cisco's has a second vibe vision when he kisses Kendra. Here, he clearly sees her in the Hawkgirl armor.

Harry sends Grodd to a nature preserve for gorillas experimented on by other scientists on Earth 2. It turns out the gorillas have built a city of some kind...

Untelevised Adventures

Harry Wells apparently has experience dealing with talking gorillas.

The Bottom Line

A solid episode, through and through. Lots of good character development for everyone, though you'd think everyone involved would have learned the dangers of keeping secrets at this point.  And it's weird that Barry is comfortable telling his ex-girlfriend he is The Flash but not the woman who has been consistently smart enough to see through every lie he's tried telling her. But hey - Gorilla City is now part of the DCTVU!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Four

In which we explore the perks of leveling up, test out the new (but not improved) V.A.T.S. and marvel at how terrible laser muskets are despite sounding awesome.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 4 - Livewire

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


It's almost Thanksgiving and Kara and Alex's mother is in town to celebrate. But the usual tensions that flare up around the holidays may be even greater this year, as Alex frets that their mother doesn't approve of her Kara's new life as Supergirl and blames Alex for not protecting her little sister. On top of everything else, an accident turns one of CatCo's most volatile employees into an electricity-manipulating super-villain with a grudge against both Cat Grant and Supergirl.


Superman: The Animated Series (The character of Livewire and her origins), Superman: The Movie (the sequence of young Alex and Kara flying) and the DC Comic series The Weird (mention of the alien species Zarolatts).


The drama between Alex and her mother seems forced. Granting that families are illogical even at the best of times,the reasons Eliza Danvers gives for blaming Alex for what Kara is doing don't ring true.


For the first time, we get some inkling of Cat Grant being more than just the dragon lady who makes both of Kara's lives difficult. Calista Flockhart plays Cat as someone who is so used to hiding behind a mask that she can't deal with honesty. The scene in which Cat unloads on Kara about her own mother issues has done more to humanize Cat than anything in the series so far and Flockhart plays it well. There's also some subtle hints of Cat's heroism from the comics, as Cat offers to play decoy as Kara runs for help.

Brit Morgan nails the part of Livewire, capturing the attitude and snark of the character with ease.


The special effects for Livewire's powers are very effective, particularly the teleportation.

Super Trivia

This was originally meant to be Episode 105 and was scheduled to air three days before Thanksgiving 2015. However, a series of violent terrorist bombings on November 13, 2015 caused the original episode 104 to be held back a week, due to the plot involving a similar series of attacks.

Leslie Willis a.k.a. Livewire was originally created as a villain for Superman: The Animated Series. An acid-tongue shock-jock of the Howard Stern school, Leslie Willis had little respect for authority and no respect for Superman, cynically believing that nobody could possibly be that good without an ulterior motive. Leslie acquired electricity-manipulation powers after being struck by lightning at an outdoor concert she had organized, which Superman tried to shut down due to the threat of severe weather. Blaming Superman for the accident (which left her with bleach-white skin and electric blue hair that stood on end), Leslie dubbed herself Livewire and embarked on a campaign to kill Superman and anyone else who got in her way.

The DCTVU version of Livewire is virtually unchanged from her original inspiration, save that she was in a traffic helicopter rather than at a concert when she gained her powers.  She has the same powers to travel through electrical wiring, virtually teleporting at the speed of light. She can manfiest her image on television screens and computer monitors and become intangible. She can also shape energy into constructs, creating whips and fetters of lightning.

The DCTVU version of Livewire seems to be somewhat more powerful than the cartoon and comic-book versions in one regard - she is apparently able to control pure energy rather than just electric energy. To that end, she is able to absorb Supergirl's heat vision with no ill effects.

Leslie Willis raises several questions regarding Supergirl's sex life on her radio show, chiefly how unlikely it is that alien sex organs would calibrate (as it were) with those of a human. The difficulties of Earthling/Kryptonian sex have been joked about in a number of stories, movies and comics (including this one by Stjepan Sejic) and been discussed in more scholarly terms by writer Larry Niven in his article Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex. While focused on the issues with Lois Lane and Clark Kent consummating their relationship, it does mention Supergirl as a possible surrogate mother for any potential children in the event that Lois could not safely deliver a half-Kryptonian child.

Using heat vision to cook (as Kara does with the turkey here) is a trick both Superman and Supergirl have used in the comics.

It is revealed in this episode that Cat Grant has a son named Carter. In the comics, Cat Grant's son was named Adam.

Director Henshaw suggest that a trap the DEO used to contain Zarolatts may be altered to hold Livewire. The Zarolatts are an alien race in the DC Comics universe, first introduced in the comic The Weird. Created by writer Jim Starlin and artist Bernie Wrightson, the comic centered upon a nameless Zarolatt - dubbed The Weird by Ted Kord - who assumed a corporal form and sought the help of Earth's heroes to free his people from another alien race that used them as an energy source.

Kara calls Cat "the queen of all media." This may be a nod to radio host Howard Stern, who dubbed himself "The King of All Media" and served as a partial inspiration for the personality of Livewire.

Kara compares the energy trap the DEO modifies to catch Livewire to the ghost traps from Ghostbusters.

As in the cartoon, Livewire's biggest weakness is that she "shorts-out" when she touches water.


Henshaw says that Leslie Willis became Livewire due to normal electrostatic discharge intensified as it passed through Kara's Kryptonian DNA, picking up unknown properties, as the lightning traveled through Kara and into her.

Zarolatts are an inter-dimensional race of aliens consisting of pure sentient energy.

The trap for Livewire is a portable industrial capacitor.  Opened underneath Livewire, it should draw in the electricity running through her, temporarily breaking her down on an atomic level.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Kara has just beaten down a beastly alien prisoner attempting escape)
Kara: He was tough!
Dir. Henshaw: She.
Kara: Oh.

Leslie Willis:  It's Thanksgiving week which means it is time for my annual list of things I am not grateful for. And this year's list is only one item - Supergirl!
(Cut to Kara, Alex and Eliza listening to the broadcast. Eliza looks shocked. Kara just rolls her eyes.)
Leslie Willis: The blue-and-red abscessed tooth in the otherwise gleaming smile that is National City! How much do I despise, I mean loathe her 'look at me, I'm adorkable!"thing? And that hideous, like rejected from The Olympics figure skating outfit she wears?
(Cut to Winn, at work, looking annoyed as his costume design skills are torn apart.)
Leslie Willis: I mean, a skirt and tights? Puh-lease. Seems like overkill, especially since no one is trying to get in there. And who would that be?
(Cut to James, looking disturbed as he's trying to work on a layout.)
Leslie Willis: You know, who is hombre enough to puncture the Chastity Belt of Steel? Or is what's required a softer touch? I mean, she does kind of give off a Sapphic vibe with that big-ol' butch S-chest plate. I mean, how would it even work with an alien? I mean, is everything the same "down there"?
(Cut to Cat Grant, eating sushi in her office, looking increasingly disgusted as Leslie speaks)
Leslie Willis: Are we talking tentacles? Maybe it's time for a break? Or a makeover!

Cat Grant: Supergirl is changing the conversation of National City. People don't want your brand of negativity anymore, Leslie. They want optimism, hope, positivity.
Leslie Willis: You're a hypocrite, Cat!
Cat Grant: And you're finished, Leslie.
Leslie Willis: I have two years left on my contract. You are too proud and you are too cheap to buy me out.
Cat Grant: That's true. However, I'm not firing you. I'm transferring you to traffic chopper. You'll be National City's highest paid traffic reporter.
Leslie Willis: You do this, you will regret it!
Cat Grant: Rush hour starts at 4:30. If you're not on the Cat Copter when it goes up, you'll be hearing from my lawyer. (gasps in mock surprise) Oh, and you'd better take some Dramamine. Looks like it's going to be a bumpy ride.
(Leslie Willis just glares at Cat as the thunder rolls outside.)

Cat Grant: (to a comatose Leslie Willis, after Kara leaves the room) Get up off your ass, Willis. You and I both know you're tougher than a bolt of lightning.

Supergirl: You don't have to do this! Let me help you!
Livewire: Good as is.

Cat: Well, mothers and daughters, it's... hard.
Kara: Yours must be so proud of you.
Cat: (chuckle) Well, if she is it's on some subterranean level. In her mind, I have never lived up to my potential.
Kara: You're the queen of all media!
Cat: Yes. An accomplishment that never mattered to her. Oh, don't get me wrong. I am entirely grateful. Everything I am, everything I have is because of her constant... pushing, let's call it? She was never satisfied with me and so I've never been satisfied with myself. Which is why I keep pushing too. Myself and all the people I care about.
Kara: (in realization) Pushing Supergirl...
Cat: I should have pushed Leslie. The more awful she was, the more I rewarded her. Leslie turning into Livewire - that started a long time ago. It's my fault. I turned her into a monster...

Cat: Just give me your terms.
Livewire: The only thing you have that I want is your skin. And there are so many ways to skin a-
Cat:  - a cat, yes. Congratulations. You have the wit of a YouTube comment.

Dialogue Disasters

Livewire: Your 15 minutes are up, you boring... weak....
Supergirl: Oh, shut up, you mean girl!


Kara refers to Alex taking down The Hellgramite in 102.

Kara's favorite dessert is chocolate pecan pie. She swears it is the best dessert in the galaxy.

Kara has been to 12 different planets.

Leslie refers to Cat Grant's article on Supergirl from 103.

Cat Grant has a fear of germs.

Eliza Danvers is a bio-engineer - the same field as Alex.

Alex went to Stanford.

It is revealed that Cat's son is named Carter.

The DEO pose as FBI agents when working with the public.

Director Henshaw uses the alias Agent Munroe when leading field operations.

It is confirmed that Jerimiah Danvers is dead and that he was, like Alex, a DEO Agent. He joined the DEO and gave them all of his research on Superman in exchange for Kara's freedom.

Winn reveals that his father is in prison.

The Fridge Factor

Cat Grant's justification for demoting Leslie Willis is based around Leslie attacking Supergirl's sexuality (or lack thereof) and how she dresses. Apparently Cat is fine with generalizations about millennials (re: her article on Supergirl in the last episode) but not reverse slut-shaming.

Livewire discovers her powers dealing with that most cliche of threats - the random rapist who just happens to be hanging around some dark alley.

The Bottom Line

It's a fairly typical episode in that the best bits are those in which the show tries to be a superhero show and doesn't focus on Kara's forced family drama. It's a fairly untypical episode, however, in that the bits involving Cat Grant aren't the worst moments of the show and Cat comes off as a real person rather than a stock stereotype for the first time. The attempts to parallel Eliza Danvers' treatment of her daughters and Cat's "pushing" the people she cares about doesn't quite work but Livewire is handled so well you can forgive it.

Constantine The Hellblazer #6 - A Review

John Constantine is back in New York and, for the first time in a long while, free of his ghosts. Unfortunately, things haven't been quiet on the supernatural side of The City That Never Sleeps while he was out of town. And since an honest night's work dealing with the worst of the supernatural world is marginally less taxing than doing the Jedi Mind Trick to convince his landlord that he already paid this month's rent, John is out to make the restless dead a bit more restful... even if he has to hit them over the head with a magical tire-iron to do it!

I'm somewhat torn on this issue. As a Hellblazer purist, the idea of John Constantine indulging in honest work and living anywhere besides London is a borderline blasphemy. And yet the scenes of John's "honest work" are so hilarious and true to form (Only John Constantine would be called upon to deal with the haunted buffet at a strip club!), I'm inclined to forgive James Tynion IV and Ming Doyle the faux pas.

I wasn't originally fond of Riley Rossmo's artwork but it's starting to grow on me. John doesn't look quite so much like Astro Boy here. And if nothing else the various ghoulies and ghosties that John fights throughout this issue are well-illustrated and imaginatively designed.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Three

In which we are reminded of what a kind, loving and peaceful man we were and then kill a bunch of stuff. Also, we adopt a telekinetic, teleporting dog, walk into the middle of a firefight and meet a wandering dog breeder who doesn't give a damn about the raider attacks.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part Two

In which we escape from Vault 111, discover (again) just how evil Vault-Tec is, punch giant roaches, drool over the ultimate freeze ray and arrive home 210 years late for dinner.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Starman Plays Fallout 4 - Part One

In which we salute our Veterans, figure out who we (and our spouse) are, attempt to break the railroad plot and discover one more way the lack of a skills system has shafted our attempts to become Liam Neeson.

Special thanks to Mary Channell and Jeff Hillary for their support and feedback.

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 6 - Lost Souls

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


The revelation that Ray Palmer is still alive (and now in the clutches of Damien Darhk) sends Felicity into a frenzy of guilt and stress, that will drive a wedge between herself and Oliver. A surprise visit from her mom doesn't help matters. Thankfully, the rest of Team Arrow - now bolstered by the return of The Canary - is ready to save Ray on their own. At least, until the side-effects of The Lazarus Pit endanger the mission...


The Atom
 comics of Gil Kane (The Atom shrinking and having to cope with unexpected troubles at that size) and Green Arrow: Year One (The Lian Yu sequences).


Ray looks remarkably clean-cut for someone who hasn't been able to shave or get a haircut in six months.

Why do they send the whole of Team Arrow out for a burglary where a smaller group would be much more effective?  At the very least, why didn't someone act as a physical look-out?

The attitude toward our heroes killing is all over the place in this episode. Oliver seems to shoot down one guard, though it is possible he used a tranquilizer arrow. And Laurel gets shocked when Sara snaps the neck of one of Darhk's men... yet nobody seemed worried about giving the ex-assassin who is apparently having magical blood-lust issues a loaded gun. Or indeed using guns at all. Granting that Digg has probably shooting to wound all this time, it still seems foolish to trust Sara to have that kind of control.

The flashback sequences really need to stop depending on cliff-hangers where Oliver's life is in danger. We KNOW he survives, okay?  We know he's going to survive the drowning attempt. And it just seems like padding to pretend he's in danger.


The chemistry between Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards contiues to be the best aspect of the show.

Second only to that, however, is David Ramsey and Stephen Amell playing off of each other as they share a bottle of whiskey.

Caity Lotz is criminally wasted in this episode. You'd think there'd be a bigger deal made about Sara Lance coming back from the dead and some examination of that fact. But no - we're lucky to have her get two fight scenes and one bit where she tells about how Thea explained the Lazarus Pit inducing blood-lust at some point off-camera.  That's a scene I would much rather have seen - if only to see how weird things were between Thea and Sara - than another Felicity sniping at Ollie scene.


The quantum manifold needed to restore Ray Palmer to normal size is made by Kord Industries. In the comics, Kord Industries is the business of Ted Kord a.k.a. The Blue Beetle.

Felicity refers to John Diggle by the code name Spartan when Curtis is with her. There is a DC Comics hero called Spartan, who was a member of the team Wild C.A.Ts. However, the character bares no apparent relation to Diggle, being a robot programmed with the personality of an alien warrior. Most likely it's a reference to the general design of Diggle's helmet/mask resembling that of a Spartan warrior.

Ray makes reference to fighting roaches the size of cocker spaniels while he was shrunk. The Atom fighting giant (from his perspective) insects was a frequent thing in the classic The Atom comics.

When told about HIVE, Ray compares them to SPECTRE - a similar evil organization from the James Bond novels.


Felicity creates a back-trace algorithm to find the point of origin of Ray's broadcasts.

Ray jerry-rigged his suit to broadcast a short-range message burst.

It is confirmed that Ray perfected miniaturization by finding a way to shrink the space between atoms shrink. Curtis says this feat is comparable to getting cold fusion to work or discovering the Ultimate Theory of Everything.

The one part Palmer Technologies doesn't have to build the device to enlarge Ray Palmer is a quantum manifold.

The Kord Industries building's interior is protected by pressure-sensitive flooring.

Felicity's program to control the traffic cameras around Star City takes a minute to upload.

The Latin Building was at one time totted as the most secure building on the west coast, with every access point requiring a retinal scan and voice print to enter.

The box holding Ray requires an asymmetric cipher to open. His best guess is that five years and an NSA grade computer might be able to open it.

Curtis says the quantum field won't be able to penetrate that polymer making up the cube containing Ray when Felicity asks why they don't just use the enlarging ray and Ray's increased size to break it. They're eventually able to bypass this complication when Ray siphons the energy powering the security cameras inside the cube into his suit, which shorts the containment field.

Apart from a noticeable iron deficiency, Ray did not suffer any adverse physical effects because of his shrinking.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Upon meeting Ollie for the first time, Curtis holds up his hand to focus on Ollie's jawline.)
Ollie: Curtis? Whatcha doing?
Curtis: The Green Arrow showed up right about the time that you came back into town.
(Curtis suddenly scoffs and shakes his head)
Curtis: Nah. It's not you though. Jaw's not right.
Ollie: That's what I keep telling people.

(After getting off the phone with her mother)
Quentin: How'd that go?
Sara: Easier than the last time Mom found out that I wasn't dead.
Quentin: Are you okay, honey?
Sara: Yeah. Fine. It was just something mom said about how I got lost when I was walking home from school once, and - and how I promised that I'd always come back. But I can't remember...

Ollie: Is there anything that I can do to help?
Felicity: Well, have you magically learned how to code in the last 72 hours?
Ollie: No.
Felicity: That was a rhetorical question.
Ollie: I know.
Felicity: I will, however, accept your undying support and back-rub.
Ollie: You can have both as soon as you -
Felicity: Shower.
Ollie: And take a nap.

Ollie: I thought it would be a good thing!
Felicity: A good thing? What on Earth made you agree to this?
Ollie: Well, you know your mom really doesn't take no for an answer...
Felicity: You've faced down Mirakuru soldiers and the League of Assassins. Are you honestly telling me that you couldn't say no to my mom?
Ollie: She said she missed you and then she texted me one of those emojis with the single tear...
Felicity: YOU HAVE BEEN TEXTING WITH MY MOTHER?! How long has THAT been going on?
John: You guys think we can find a better time to fight about this?
Felicity: John? I thought only Oliver's line was open.
John: Nope. Mine is open.
Laurel and Thea (in unison) And mine.
Sara: I don't remember there being so much chatter on these missions.
Laurel: Are you ok?
Sara: Yeah. I need a little normal. And for me, this is the kind of thing that passes.

(As Darhk threatens Felicity)
Ray: Don't you touch her!
Darhk: Don't make empty threats. It's so... small.

Felicity: Ray was sending distress signals for weeks after the accident. I wasn't here to receive them because I was too busy traveling the world with you. I took the voice's word for it that no body could be recovered because I was so swept up in being with you. I'm sorry. It was my choice to uproot my entire life, leave my home and my job - which it turns out I'm very good at. I lost myself in you. And I was never that girl. That girl who just loses herself in a guy. That is not who I am.

Oliver: It it just makes me wonder... why did she choose me?
John: Oliver. I've heard you say a lot of crazy things over the years, but that has to take the prize.
Oliver: You know what I mean. (gesturing to a computer) It takes me ten minutes to log into this thing. Felicity does it in two seconds. And Ray probably invented it.
John: Yeah, you're probably right. Except, Felicity didn't choose Ray. She chose you. Sure, she has a lot in common with Ray. But sometimes what looks good on paper isn't what works in real life.
Oliver; What if something happens to him?  We don't get him back?
John: Felicity Smoak is one of the smartest, most badass women on the planet. She comes through this, she'll get Ray back.
Oliver: You seem pretty sure.
John: I married a woman just like that. Twice, Oliver!  Twice!

Felicity: I didn't exactly grow up with the best example of a normal, healthy relationship,
Ollie: Line forms behind me.


The episode opens with an extended sequence of the scene from 323 where Ray blows up his lab. This time, however, we see him shrink and fall among the wreckage.

The message Felicity decoded in the last episode was made on the day she received it. This episode takes place six days later.

Ollie refers to what Constantine said in 405 about the chamber inside the ruins having a barrier that prevented the impure of heart from passing.

Baron Reiter was interested in the ruins Constantine was looking for because of writings describing a greater treasure in a heart of water - a cove surrounded by mountains.

We see a black canary as a decoration in Laurel's apartment.

Ray modified his suit with the same nanites Felicity injected into him in 318.

Palmer Technologies main business competitor is Kord Industries.

Another note is made that Felicity dyes her hair blonde.

Sara has the same blood-lust that infects a non-dead person healed by The Lazarus Pit.

Ollie makes a great Chicken Cordon Bleu.

John prefers Tennessee whiskey to vodka.

Darhk's base of operations - at least the one where he held Ray Palmer - is The Latin Building.

Curtis Holt is an experienced base jumper.

We once again see Damien Darhk using telekenesis - both to catch Oliver's arrows and to strangle him with some handy chains.

Felicity hates snakes and spiders but not as much as she hates cockroaches.

Ray elects not to reveal that he isn't dead for the moment.

Sara leaves Star City at the end of the episode to visit her mom in Central City and wander around for a bit.

Quentin Lance and Donna Smoak just happen to meet at a bar.

Thea asks Ollie's campaign manager, Alex Davis, out for a drink.

Darhk's people were able to get a sample of the dwarf star alloy that powers Ray's ATOM suit and turn it into a power source. He tells them to test on the box we first saw in 405, which unfolds into board or map of some kind.

Untelevised Adventures

Ray makes reference to fighting giant roaches while he was shrunk.

The Bottom Line

Honestly, it wouild be rather dull if it weren't for the chemistry between Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards. The drama between Ollie and Felicity feels a little forced but we get enough distractions from it (Ollie talking about his romance troubles with John, Felicity talking with her mom) that it is manageable. Less forgivable, however is that very little is done with Sara's return apart from confirming that she has the same issues as Thea and sending her away until Legends of Tomorrow is ready to deal with her. This is a shame given how much drama between Thea and Sara is just waiting to be tapped and goes completely ignored. But hey - Quentin and Donna are hooking up!  Yay?