Thursday, August 17, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 119

In which we pursue the traitor Mercer Frey into the ruins of Irkngthand. Or will do as soon as we can find the bloody entrance!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 118

In which we are recruited to become a Nightingale. Thankfully this is a secretive order of elite thieves in the service of the goddess of darkness and not a doo-wop singing group.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #6 - An Advanced Review/Preview

Unexpectedly arriving at the site of a Viking expedition, The Doctor and Bill were stunned to find they were not the only recently arrived visitors from the heavens. The good news is that the other new arrivals - a party of Ice Warriors - are not looking for a fight. The bad news is they've come to Earth to dispose of a threat from their home-world of Mars - the sentient, water-traveling virus known as The Flood!




As a Doctor Who trivia buff, I love it whenever the media outside of the show attempts to build upon the mythology and link certain elements. In this case, everyone's favorite Martian frienemies - The Ice Warriors - are finally given a connection to the menace from The Tenth Doctor's penultimate adventure, The Waters of Mars. Yet this second chapter of The Wolves of Winter proves a ripping yarn on its own merits and shows Richard Dinnick to be a skald as skilled at spinning tales as he is recanting history. Paired with the amazing art of Brian Williamson and the colors of Hi-Fi, this book should be on every Whovian's pull list.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10.


Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #6 releases August 23, 2017. 
Ask for it at your local comic shop or purchase it on Comixology.com.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #8 - An Advanced Review/Preview

Left in a London safe-house while The Doctor went off to investigate a vortex anomaly unlike anything he'd encountered before, Gabby Gonzales and Cindy Wu have both found a welcome confidant in Sarah Jane Smith. Originally come to investigate an energy spike apparently caused by Gabby's newfound powers, Sara Jane has proven all too eager and able to show the two young women around London and offer her advice on how to cope with life, the universe and everything. Yet could the girl's recent problems somehow be tied to the mystery The Doctor has rushed into?







This latest issue of The Tenth Doctor's adventures is a must-read for all fans of Sarah Jane Smith. Nick Abadzis has perfectly captured the character's voice and her relationship with The Doctor's latest companions is so instantly rich and real that one can hardly believe they met for the first time last month! The rest of the story is entertaining, though this book is more focused on relationship drama than cosmic crises.

The artwork proves just engaging. Giorgia Sposito proves equally capable of capturing the likenesses of the actors from the show as she is at depicting the exotic allure of outer space. And Arianna Florean's colors provide the perfect finish to every panel.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10! A must read for all fans of The Tenth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #8 will be released on August 16, 2017. 

Injustice 2 #19 - A Review

Trapped in Ra's Al Ghul's secret Amazon Rainforest complex, the new Justice League's mission to rescue their children has hit a snag. Can they win the day even with their secret allies in place and the kids coming up with their own escape plan?


I don't think you readers fully appreciate how difficult it is for me to not spoil every issue of this wonderful little series. Tom Taylor packs every issue with a sense of fun and a clear love for these characters that few writers can equal. Such is the enthusiasm that he inspires that I want to share everything awesome about this book with you.

The artwork is the equal of the story. I've been a fan of Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran and Rex Lokus for a while now and I can say without hyperbole that their work on this issue is Eisner worthy. Truly, this is a gorgeous comic.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. This is everything superhero comics should be.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 117

In which we prove Mercer's treachery to the guild and are given permission to investigate his mansion. Hilarity ensues as I prove to be too stealthy to be detected by Mercer's personal guard Vlad... so long as I'm kneeling right in front of him and not sneaking through the next door neighbor's yard.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Detective Comics #962 - A Review

With the Artificial Intelligence created by The Order of St. Dumas poised to take over every computer network in Gotham City, the only hope may lie within the brainwashed mind of Jean Paul Valley - the man who would have been Azrael. Will a change in program save the day? Or will Zatanna's magic have to work a solo act?


The final chapter of Intelligence continues the larger problem that the storyline as a whole possessed. While I appreciate the effort to restore Azrael's place in The Bat Family in the wake of Rebirth, it has proven difficult for the reader to develop any sense of attachment to Jean Paul as most of the story has focused on other characters telling us about Jean Paul rather than letting us learn about him through his actions. Another problem is the much more riveting subplot focused on Zatanna and Batman, which only distracts away from the main story.

The artwork, at least, remains phenomenal.  Messrs. Martinez, Fernandez and Anderson are one of the greatest artistic teams working in comics today and every page of this book looks fantastic throughout. Would that they had a stronger story to illustrate this time around!

The Final Analysis: 6 out of 10. Great artwork, but despite being nominally focused on Azrael, the story makes him seem like a supporting player and Zatanna's presence only distracts further from his story.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 116

In which - having discovered the treachery of Thieves' Guild leader Mercer Grey (well, treachery towards the guild itself - not the general treachery you'd expect from the Chief Thief) - we seek out a scholar to translate the journal of the former Chief Thief and pull a heist on the Dwarven artifact museum in Markarth.


Titans #14 - A Review

Multiple sources have confirmed a traitor among The Titans! As tensions mount and tempers flare, the team's secrets will be lain bare. With the distrust among them stronger than ever, can The Titans pull together when an old enemy of Garth's rises up from Atlantis seeking to poison the surface world?


The biggest problem with Titans #14 is that there's too much going on. This is a common problem with team books and Dan Abnett tries to ensure that the entire cast gets a little bit of time devoted to their issues. Unfortunately, the end result shortchanges everyone. Ironically, the worst victim of this minimization is Garth, who is nominally meant to be the central character. Easily the least developed of the Titans thus far, more time is spent on the tension between himself and Nightwing than on the revelations regarding Garth's past or his relationship with Lilith.

This is unfortunate, because Garth's romance with Lilith is far more interesting and seems more natural than the sudden love triangle between The Flash, Arsenal and Donna Troy. This story line, in turn, has gotten more page time than Donna's identity crisis in the wake of the revelation that everything she knows about her past is wrong. And those are just three of the subplots that are touched upon in this issue. There's many more I'm ignoring.

Brett Booth's artwork is similarly mixed. Booth is a fine artist but his poses are often forced and the flow of action from panel to panel often looks ludicrous. Booth seems unable to draw his characters at rest. Everyone's hair and bodies seem to be continually in motion even when they are meant to be standing still, as if there were a stiff wind continually causing capes to billow and hair to blow. The inks by Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse's colors are fine enough and this is still a good-looking comic. It just appears to be off-center at times due to the continual sense of motion.

The Final Analysis: 6 out of 10. A busy story with artwork that doesn't suit the action at times.

Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey #13 - A Review

The Birds of Prey wind up in the thick of things, as the criminal past of Gus (a.k.a. the new Oracle) comes back to haunt him. Tangled in a plot involving a corrupt bio-engineering firm and the machinations of both The Calculator and Catwoman, things become even more complicated when Poison Ivy launches her own attack on the company's headquarters. Even if they survive with their lives and integrity intact, will Gus still have a place with the team?


The conclusion of Source Code is an enjoyable if somewhat rushed spectacle. Julie Benson and Shawna Benson's scripts are as strong as ever, but I wish they'd had a bit more time to let this story unfold at a more leisurely pace. If nothing else, I'd like to have seen a flashback tale detailing The Calculator's past encounters with the team in the Rebirth reality rather than the quick montage we got in the last issue.

The artwork, unfortunately, remains the series' weak point. Roge Antonio's individual panels look fine but the flow of action between them is a bit odd at times. Allen Passalaqua's colors look decent enough, though there is a coloring mistake in this issue where Canary is given Barbara Gordon's hair and skin tone in a close-up that the editors really should have caught.

The Final Analysis: 7 Out of 10. Enjoyable in spite of its flaws.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 115

In which we team up with the head of the Thieves Guild to take down the rogue rogue who killed the previous head of the Thieves Guild. Skulduggery ensues.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 114

In which - having found the not-so-secret passage - we continue stalking the disloyal Golum-Ei and discover an even greater act of treachery.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 113

In which - having restored the reputation of the Thieves' Guild - we return to Solitude to have a heck of a time following a not-so-loyal guild member through a warehouse. Thrill as Mjoll reminds us that we're not supposed to be in there yet ruins our chances of a stealthy escape by attacking the guards I'm trying to avoid as we try (and fail) to find a secret passage!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 112

The quest to rebuild the Thieves' Guild's reputation leads us to Windhelm, where a gang of Altmer thieves are trying to establish a rival guild.  Guess who gets to stop them?


Monday, August 7, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 111

In which we indulge in some simple, basic thievery in Whiterun and Riften and discover how hard it is to honestly "steal" in cities where everyone is your friend.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 110

In which, to continue improving the reputation of The Thieves Guild, we journey to Whiterun to help Clan Battleborn with a jailbreak then head off to Markarth to aid a silversmith in stealing back what was stolen from him by non-union brigands. All this and a dragon fight!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 109

In which, having unlocked the powers of The Crown of Barenziah, we get back to the honest business of thievery and restoring the good name of The Thieves Guild by pulling a special job in Solitude.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 108

The final two Stones of Barenziah await us in Whiterun and The Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary. But the quest is not over yet! Now we must also find the lost Crown of Barenziah in a Falmer-infested dungeon...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 107

In which we storm the rogue mage haven at Fellglow Keep and the respectable mage haven at the College of Winterhold to retrieve two of the last four Stones of Barenziah before taking on a dragon in its own lair!

Injustice 2 #17 (Digital Edition) - A Review

While Batman readies his security team to protect the Presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., Batgirl leads the other heroes on a mission to invade their enemy's jungle stronghold. In addition to Green Arrow, Black Canary and Wildcat, she’s also bringing along their secret weapons—two nearly invincible players who could tip the odds in their favor and enable them to rescue Black Canary and Black Lightning's kidnapped children. Now if only they can keep their secret weapons under control...


Tom Taylor continues to nail it with every passing issue of this series. The high point here is the interactions between "the secret weapons" as they go to work and Daniel Sampere draws their action sequences with the appropriate sense of fun while also capturing the mysterious aura of the deep Amazon Jungle setting. Juan Albarran's inks further add to this sense of mystique while Rex Lokus crafts some impressive lighting effects with the colors, particularly in the scenes set on Batman's plane. This is a beautiful comic, with some good comedic moments as well as genuine pathos.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 106

In which we burgle the correct Black-Briar estate this time, in order to retrieve a Stone of Barenziah and steal a prize horse.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 105

The quest for The Stones of Barenziah continues, as we make our way to Dead Crone Rock. Or is it Old Hag Rock? Either way there's a lot of Forsworn to kill and a surprising amount of quest-related treasure to be had. And then I spend a fair amount of time burglarizing the wrong house looking for another stone.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 104

In which we return to Markarth to retrieve two more of the Stones of Barenziah from the Treasure House and the Dwarven Artifact Museum. But before we can enter the museum, we must slay a giant spider in the ruins under Markarth.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 103

In which Matthias and Mjoll get a change of wardrobe because glass armor makes you harder to see and fur bikinis offer more protection than plate mail with the right enchantments. With that done, they move on to explore the ruins of Ronnveig's Fast and raid a desecrated barrow in style - jumping into it from the mountains above on horseback!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 102

In which we return to Solitude and retrieve not one... not two... but THREE of the Stones of Barenziah before indulging in some extreme rock climbing and dragon fighting.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 100

Tonight on Skyrim Cribz, we tour the many manor houses of The Dragonborn. Then, on a new CSI: Windhelm, Matthias the Dastard plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with a serial killer.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 99

In which we seek more of the stones of Stones of Barenziah, committing a bit of honest burglary before raiding a major bandit stronghold.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 98

In which we start searching for the fabled Stones of Barenziah and stop a mad necromancer's plot at the legendary tomb of Ansilvund. Partly because we hate the undead. Mostly for the money these Stones are worth.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 97

In which we open with a sudden simultaneous attack by a dragon, an assassin and a team of necromancers! Burdened with glorious purpose (and dragon bones) we then tackle the lost temple I meant to explore in this video before all Oblivion broke loose!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Detective Comics #960 - A Review

As Batman continues to win-over Zatanna, the rest of the team in The Belfry explore the mystery of Jean Paul Valley's Azrael armor and the intricate artificial intelligence hidden inside the seemingly ancient suit. Unfortunately, another sort of intelligence seems to have taken over Jean Paul himself...


Many great artists have tried to capture the mood and spirit of Gotham City over the years. For the life of me, I can't recall any of them doing so fine a job of it as Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson. The ennui and depression inherent to the setting of Batman has rarely seemed so strong as it does here, with most everything rendered in muted blues and greys with shadows that seem far deeper for not being ebon masses.

James Tynion IV is an equally amazing writer but his work on Detective Comics has suffered somewhat as he has taken on more and more subplots. The interplay between Batman and Zatanna and the revelations regarding "Zee" are far more gripping and exciting than the rest of the team and the business with Azrael. This is particularly vexing as Jean Paul himself seems removed from the action of the issue and is a supporting player in what is meant to be his story!

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10.


Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 96

In which I try a Tom Baker voice to narrate this episode for about a minute before we finally find the Priest of Arkady and start investigating the cannibalism problem in Markarth's tombs.


The Flash #26 - A Review

The Reverse Flash has revealed the truth to Iris West - that her boyfriend, Barry Allen, is The Flash and that he has been lying to her for years! That's just the start, however, as Eobard Thawne plays professor yet again to show Barry and Iris the dark future that is now forged from their relationship. Will Barry and Iris have to sacrifice their love for the sake of Tomorrow?


Ironic as it may be to say this, The Flash #26 may have moved too quickly. Last month's issue presented an interesting conceit - that Eobard Thawne is uniquely suited to note the changes to the time-stream forged in The DC Universe Rebirth reality. Apart from the amusing metatextual gag of turning the comic world's most obsessive fanboy into a continuity cop complaining about how everything changed and is ruined forever, it's a heck of a story curveball.

Unfortunately, that conceit - and our brief glimpse of a dark future where Barry and Iris' kids became Rogues due to Barry's neglecting his family for The Flash - are quickly tossed aside in favor of what seems to be "The Real Plot". Unless there is another swerve coming, which is entirely possible with Joshua Williamson's writing.

The artwork is similarly uneven. Howard Porter is a great artist and the colors by Hi-Fi are nice and vivid. Unfortunately, there is some discontinuity between the story and the artwork, as in one panel where The Flash is being dragged off by The Reverse Flash when the dialogue indicates they ran off together. There's also a few bits where the bright colors don't quite match up with the heavy inks indicating deep shadows.

The Final Analysis: 7 out of 10. A serviceable issue, let down only by some quirks in the artwork and a story that is moving a bit to quickly.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 95

In which we continue cleansing The Reach of Foresworn - this time specifically setting out to rescue a little girl so that she may assume the role of Chosen Of The Lust Goddess and begin training as a sacred prostitute. The game dances around the subject but that's totally what's going on here. And then we go searching for that damned Priest of The Death God for a while...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 94

In which, after helping Make Markarth Beautiful by tossing some corpses into the river and gazing into infinity as the water goes weird, I showcase the wonders of Dragon Bone Armor and rob the temple of the Goddess of Lust.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Injustice 2 #14 - A Review

Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance lost each other once. A twist of Fate brought them - or alternate universe versions of themselves, technically - together again, giving new meaning to the old Sinatra song about love being better "The Second Time Around". Unfortunately, someone is about to ruin their wedding day as Batman simultaneously fights a battle for his own family...


The one problem with Injustice 2's weekly format is that sometimes the action is broken up in unfortunate ways. In this case, there's little punch to the story as all of the moments that should have hit the reader hard either came at the end of the last issue or are telegraphed far in advance of this issue's ending. Thankfully, there's still a lot to admire in this book even if it lacks any real surprises.

The artwork, for instance, looks amazing. Bruno Redondo's fine eye for detail is out in full-force and there's some surprisingly subtle visuals here that I frankly love. From the bandage under Black Canary's eye to the epic ballroom blitz that breaks out as the party-crashers arrive, every page of this issue looks amazing, with Juan Albarran and Rex Lokus offering up some fantastic finishes in the inks and colors.

As for Tom Taylor's script... well, if nothing else, he deserve praise for writing a Green Arrow/Black Canary wedding that does not reduce Dinah Lance to the role of an inactive participant during the inevitable fight scene. No ring-chasing bimbos here, folks. Just Dinah Lance, kicking ass in a wedding dress, as well as she should. I know that's a strange point to harp on but it seems like 95% of the time when there's a superhero wedding the bride becomes a distressed damsel more concerned with her looks than fighting villains. That is not the case here, thankfully.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. No real surprises but damn solid work all around.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 93

In which we explore a haunted house only to wind up beholden to The Daedric Prince of Bondage and Discipline. And we get to flog a priest to death and take his soul!

(Yeah. This is why this game has an M rating.)


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 92

In which, imprisoned for a crime we didn't commit, we join the actual Foresworn Conspiracy (Still Not A Novel By Tom Clancy) and enjoy a bit of random mayhem and killing the town guards while strutting around basically naked. Shame the whole game can't be like this without mods...


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Thoughts On Spider-Man Homecoming

THE SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Is it good? Listen bub - while I'm torn on the subject of this being the best Spider-Man movie ever overall, it has some of the best aspects of any Spider-Man movie ever. Tom Holland, for instance, is easily the best actor to ever play Peter Parker.

I laughed at this movie. I got teary-eyed during this movie. It provoked the full gamut of emotional responses at the appropriate times.

One bit of advice. There are a lot of differences from the original comics, so don't go in with a purist mindset. Think of this as Earth C-137 and just relax.

There are two post-credit sequences.

(SPOILERY COMMENTS TO FOLLOW AFTER THE IMAGE)





EASTER EGGS AND STUFF TO MAKE PURISTS ANGRY

No Spider-Man movie has ever had quite so many nods to Peter's high-school classmates and his love interests from the Stan Lee days. While some may grouse about  Flash Thompson being a mathlete instead of a jock, he's still the same jackass bully who devotes his life to making Peter Parker miserable. And that, ultimately, is the point of the character.

The best gag in this regard? The newsreader on the school news station is Betty Brant - Peter's first love interest, who was J. Jonah Jameson's secretary in the original comics.

Best Casting Gag?  Jennifer Connelly as the voice of Peter's suit AI. Why's that funny?  She's married to Paul Bettany - the voice of the Jarvis A.I. and Vision.

A close second? Donald Glover, who lobbied to play Spider-Man before Andrew Garfield was cast for Amazing Spider-Man and voiced Miles Morales in some of the cartoons, has a part as a long-time Spider-Man ally.


BEING PETER PARKER SUCKS. BEING A TEENAGER SUCKS MORE.

More than any Spider-Man before, Homecoming captures two facts the earlier movies didn't. It sucks to be Peter Parker and it sucks to be a teenager.

That's a thing a lot of adults forget. Being a teenager sucks. You're continually pushed to grow-up and act-your-age while simultaneously being reminded that you're a kid with no rights and no respect.

Peter's conflict with Tony is a mirror of that grand societal paradox. Tony only treats Peter as an peer when it is convenient for him. Like how most parents only hand over the car keys when they need the teenager to run an errand they don't want to deal with.

More than any other actor to play Spidey in live-action, Tom Holland captures that frustration. Not just about being a teenager but how much it sucks to be Peter Parker in general. All the moments where we see him looking wistfully on other teens getting to do teen stuff and wishing he could be with them... before going off to do the right thing.

On that note - props to the script depicting life in an urban high-school accurate, right down to them using outdated materials because they can't afford anything more current. (i.e. Captain America's inspiration videos being used, despite him probably being a terrorist now.)




THE TWO SPECIFIC COMIC HOMAGES - ONE OBVIOUS AND ONE NOT

The Obvious One - Peter digging himself out of the rubble while giving himself a pep-talk is a clear nod to Amazing Spider-Man #33 - considered by many to be the best single issue of the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run.

The Not So Obvious One - The whole sequence with Peter having trouble moving around the suburbs and running through backyards isn't just a nod to Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  It's also a nod to Amazing Spider-Man #267 - "When Cometh The Commuter!" - which is all about the problems Spider-Man has trying to operate after chasing a baddie into The Burbs.


Okay, he doesn't get asked about borrowing a Big Wheel. But he does shoot webs up at nothing!


HONEST SURPRISES

The movie honestly surprised me at two points. I'm not going to say which two. If you haven't seen the movie, you need to go in clean on these points. And if you've already seen it... well, you probably know.  Pop me an e-mail if you want to talk about them.


MY ONLY TWO COMPLAINTS

1. Much as I loved the shout-out to Damage Control, it's a little hard to believe the anti-government Tony Stark of the time post-Avengers would work with the federal government on anything.

2. I'm not Peter David's biggest fan but given everything lifted from his Spider-Man stories for this movie, he damn well could have been credited along with Dwayne McDuffie.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 90

In which - having retrieved the three parts of The Gauldur Amulet - we set out for Reachwater Rock to reforge it. And then - when that turns out to be WAY easier than expected - we go off in search of the pieces of a magical weapon.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 89

In which we continue into the ruins of Saarthal before leaving for Gerimund's Hall - one of the many Divines-forsaken barrows that seem to surround the village of Ivarstead - in search of the third of the three amulet fragments.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 88

In which we head back to school and join the other young wizards of The College of Winterhold - nominally to excavate a lost ruin but truly to steal the second of three magic amulet shards we need.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 87

In which, having uncursed the orcs, Mjoll and I get our kids a dog and head off to explore yet another Nord ruin with an unpronounceable name in search of one of three mystic amulet fragments.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Detective Comics #959 - A Review

The Order of St. Dumas - the mysterious cult responsible for creating Azrael - have returned to Gotham and their ultimate weapon has been unleashed. As Jean Paul Valley prepares for the fight of his life, the rest of the team learn of his odd origins. Meanwhile, Batman seeks out his old friend Zatanna to seek her aid on another case that requires her magic touch.


Detective Comics is my favorite Batman book and that's almost entirely due to James Tynion IV. His grasp of these characters is phenomenal. While a flashback to a young Bruce Wayne and Zatanna Zatara discussing magic might seem indulgent under a lesser author, here it is a joy to read even if it ultimately has little to do with the main plot. Such is the magic of Tynion's pen and his gift for gripping dialogue.

The artwork is as excellent as the story. I'm hard pressed to think of any artistic team who has captured the savage beauty of Gotham City as well as Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson have here. I regret that Martinez' gorgeous two-page layouts cannot be properly conveyed due to the size of my scanner but they are simply gorgeous and guide the reader's eye perfectly.

If this issue has a flaw it's that for all the focus on Azrael and revising his background for the reality of DC Rebirth there's surprisingly little of Jean Paul Valley in it outside of the fight scenes. It does make more sense for Batwing to be explaining the Azrael costume's AI given how taciturn Jean Paul is but it still seems a bit odd.

The Final Analysis: 8 Out of 10. A solid issue that suffers only in its inaccessibility to new readers.

Batgirl #12 - A Review

Batgirl doesn't usually take requests when it comes to her work. But when a local family recreation center finds itself besieged by a seemingly spectral figure, the threat to the community and the mystery is too much for her to resist. Of course Barbara Gordon doesn't believe in ghosts but can she get to the bottom of things with a clicks-crazy ghost-hunter getting in her way?


Batgirl #12 is easily the best one-shot comic I've read in recent memory. Hope Larson spins a riveting ghost story and it's an interesting twist to put Barbara outside of her comfort zone - both in operating publicly and throwing her against a seemingly supernatural threat. Still, Barbara's character comes out in subtle ways and the same idealism that made her seek training as a librarian to serve her community comes into play in this story.

Eleonora Carlini's artwork proves the perfect match to Larson's script. I've greatly enjoyed Carlini's previous work on other series and her work here is up to her usual high standard. Colorist Cris Peter does a fantastic job varying the palettes based on location and time of day. A shame they aren't sticking around for next month but I hope these two are paired together again soon.


The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. A perfect entry point for those who have yet to give this amazing book a chance.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 86

In which I show off my latest manor house and defend my first manor house from bandits alongside my war horse before getting on to the serious business of helping an orcish stronghold rid themselves of a dreadful curse.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 85

We're back into the Dwarven ruins this time, seeking to return an ancient codex to the place from which it was stolen.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 84

In which I try (and fail) to exploit a glitch that can get you infinite Daedric arrows before showing off my home and relocating the Bard's College library to my library and visiting an Orcish stronghold.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 83

In which we return to Windhelm and set out to help the people as best we can, since we can't become a Thane here until the civil war is settled. This leads to us raiding a giant camp and heading off to a Forsaken Cave to help the local alchemist fulfill his life's dream.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Injustice 2 #12 - A Review

The capsule which carried Kara Zor-El from Krypton has arrived on Earth... but in this reality, on this Earth, it is a different caped figure who has recovered the teen who will be Supergirl. Now, as the newly awakened Kara copes with the trauma of having watched her world die, Teth-Adam - the dictator known as Black Adam - must repel the invasion of a neighboring country who would claim Kara and her ship for themselves.


What Injustice 2 #11 lacked in originality (being a basic retelling of Supergirl's origin story with a few more scenes expanding upon the House of El beforehand), this twelfth issue more than makes up for. Taylor's conceit of having Black Adam save Supergirl and tell her of her famous cousin is a brilliant one. I must balk somewhat at Adam describing Wonder Woman as Superman's love (I don't believe their relationship ever became a mutually romantic one in the original comics or game) but that may be presumption on Adam's part rather than the truth of things.

I wish Mike S. Miller's artwork was entirely the equal of the story this time around. Miller's artwork isn't bad and he does present some truly breathtaking visuals, such as the page above which ironically depicts Black Adam as an angelic figure. Unfortunately, several pages seem severely under-inked and some of of the facial expressions just look odd.

The Final Analysis: 7 out of 10. A serviceable issue, but not without some minor flaws.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 82

In which we Just Say No to Skooma and try to stem the drug trade in Riften to win the Jarl's favor.... just in time for half of Riften to be killed by a mid-day vampire attack.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 81

In which we find that we stopped JUST before the end of the last dungeon last time and set off to find the legendary Aetherium Forge!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 80

In which our quest for the shards leads us to a dungeon where if the bandits and the Falmer don't kill you, the mechanized booby traps and Dweemer constructs will. Good thing I'm a master thief...


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 79

In which we go off on a quest for the shards of the Aetherium Amulet and I do a lot of rock climbing.

Rock climbing, Joel. Rock climbing.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 78

In which we exploit a bottle-neck in the dungeon to create a "Conga Line of Death" as we continue to search a bandit den for a book. Oh, for a decent public library that the people could find the books they need and not send their hero into strange holes in the ground looking for them!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 77

In which we purchase another house we'll never live in and become Thane of yet another hold.  And then, after the first minute, we return to Riften to repeat the process again. We'll also fight a dragon and ponder a zen question - how can we clear a bandit camp that's already been cleared?


Monday, June 19, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 76

In which the Jarl of Markarth sends us on a quest to retrieve his ancestral shield. But first we're going to loot a gold mine and kill a lot more Forsworn. Because 90% of the quests in Markarth involve killing Forsworn.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Flash #24 - A Review

When the self-cloning Multiplex crashes Barry Allen's surprise birthday party, it falls to The Flash and a visiting Hal Jordan (a.k.a. The Green Lantern) to clean up the mess. Unfortunately, that leaves Iris and Wally West unprotected when another unexpected guest shows up. But how is The Reverse Flash still alive? And what does he want with the two of them?


The artwork is definitely the weakest aspect of The Flash #24. Specifically, the pages penciled by Carmine Di Giandomenico. There's been a rough wildness to Di Giandomenico's work in past issues that I thought fitting for depicting speedsters, with random squiggles suggesting continual motion even when at rest. Unfortunately this stylistic choice looks sloppy when paired with the more static figure of Iris West, who appears to be the only figure being drawn "correctly". The excellent pages by Pop Mahn in a more traditional style only add to this feeling that Di Giandomenico's art is sloppy rather than stylistic.

It's a shame because the story by Joshua Williamson is a good one. The mystery of just where (or when) this Reverse Flash came from is an intriguing one. The action scenes are well-written and there's a great buddy bonding moment between Hal Jordan and Barry Allen that reminds me of the better bits of Mark Waid's The Brave And The Bold.

The Final Analysis: 6 out of 10. The story is great but Carmine Di Giandomenico's stylistic choices look slap-dash when compared to Pop Mhan's pages in the same issue.


Detective Comics #958 - A Review

Jean Paul Valley thought himself free of the Sacred Order of St. Dumas that trained him to be their perfect assassin but a visit from one of his former handlers confirms his worst fears about The Order's ultimate goals. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne plays a dangerous game trying to infiltrate the casino in The Penguin's new Iceberg Lounge.



While I've always had mixed feelings about Azrael as a character, I must say that James Tynion's handling of him here is masterful. It's still unclear exactly how much of Jean Paul Valley's background from the original Knightfall story arc in the 1990s  has been transplanted into the DC Rebirth reality but the script for this issue does a fine job of explaining the technical aspects of Azrael's history and abilities. And you have to love any story in the modern day that gives a cameo to Funky Flashman of all people at the high-rollers table in The Iceberg Lounge.

The artwork for this issue is equally above par. I'm hard pressed to pick a favorite creative team for this book but Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson are one of the best in the business. The pencils, inks and colors for this comic are perfection incarnate. And I want a poster of the final splash page!

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. If you haven't been reading Detective Comics, now is the time to start! Easily the best of the Batman books right now. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 75

In which - after showing off my newest house - we set off for Markarth to see what we must do for its fat and greasy citizens to become a Thane. (Surprise! It involves killing more Forsworn and dragons!)


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 74

In which I lost count of what episode I was filming. But despite not being the 75th episode, this is still an amazing one, in which we go Back To School and finish enrolling at the College of Winterhold.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 73

In which, having raised our Block skill by 10 and having won The Staff of Corruption by backstabbing our companion, we start trying to win over the simple mining folk of Dawnstar that we may became a Thane of The Pale.

Injustice 2 #10 - A Review

Today, Batman has gathered the incoming American President and an association of the rich and idealistic to build a better world. Unfortunately, one of Batman's chosen councilors - genius inventor Ted Kord (a.k.a. The Blue Beetle) has been abducted by the power behind the new Suicide Squad.



No, I'm still not giving away the mystery identity of the new Big Bad of Injustice 2: The Comic. Such is my commitment to driving you to read this fantastic series.

As I've noted before, no experience with the video game itself is required. Writer Tom Taylor lays it all out for you. Indeed, this issue does a fantastic job of playing with our expectations and reintroduces a character I don't believe has been seen since the start of The New 52.

The artwork is equally fantastic. Bruno Redondo has a smooth, crisp style that is well-defined by Vincent Cifuntes' finishes. Red Lokus' colors provide the perfect tints and shades for every scene.

The only real flaw with this issue is that the scope of the action is largely muted, largely taking place off-panel. The final scene, however, is truly touching and seems to confirm a long-held fan theory. No, I'm not explaining that one either. ;)

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. It's a good issue, but it's a bit low on action.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 72

In which we travel to Dawnstar and start getting down to the bottom of the horrible nightmares the townsfolk are having. Surely the dark tower housing a Daedric temple to the Lord of Quagmire (giggity!) overlooking the city is not involved in some manner?




Monday, June 12, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 71

In which we go inside the mystic realm within the Star of Azura that we may corrupt an already corrupt artifact for the purposes of trapping the souls of the wicked. And then we're off in search of The Helm of Winterhold.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 70

In which, after having seen it in the distance in our journeys through northeast Skyrim, we finally reach the Shrine of Azura. We are then charged with a scared quest to retrieve The Star of Azura.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 69

In which - after a sudden dragon attack and the even more sudden realization that Mjoll and I have become one of those couples that wear matching outfits - we explore Yngol Barrow. We then go on to explore a bit more and have out first encounter with a Dragon Priest.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Injustice 2 #9 - A Review

In the wake of Superman's Regime, Ted Kord hung up his costume and gave up being The Blue Beetle. Now, when he isn't busy inventing and running his company, he's training a new Blue Beetle - Jaime Reyes. Yet events are approaching that will require Ted to put on his tights once again.

Unsurprisingly, Injustice 2 continues to be a wonderful comic. The artwork by Bruno Redondo, Vicente Cifuentes and Rex Lokus continues to be picture perfect - pun very much intended with a BWA-HA-HA-HA in the bargain. And every Ted Kord fan who swore a blood oath of vengeance on those involved in writing Countdown To Infinite Crisis will likely swear an oath of fealty to Tom Taylor for the story presented in this issue.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. A Must Read! 

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 68

In which we continue exploring the icy wastes of north-eastern Skyrim, fight a ton of evil wizards and bandits and run into a madwoman who wants to be blasted with The Wabbajack!


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 67

In which, having turned in our latest batch of quests at The Thieves Guild, we head to Winterhold and parts eastward to seek a clue as to the lost legacy of the Dumner merchant we framed for theft.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 66

In which we make our way to the Rebel's Cairn  to discover the secrets within. Once that is accomplished, we fight some more Forsworn and investigate a haunted barrow to retrieve some ancient journals.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 65

In which we go off in search of The Red Eagle's Sword and fight our way through a ton of Forsworn.

Hey! That almost rhymes!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 64

In which we enroll at the College of Winterhold and blow off our first class to go search for a magic flute. Like you do when you're a freshman.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 63

In which we continue exploring the northern reaches of Skyrim, this time making for Hob's Fall Cave. We also discover the Shrine of Azura, slay a dragon on the second try. get a free horse and (finally) make our way to Winterhold.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 62

In which we try to blaze a trail from Dawnstar to Winterhold. Naturally things don't go according to plan but we wind up exploring a lot of the winter wastelands of north Skyrim.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 61

In which we go off on a quest for one of the legendary bardic instruments of yore, slay a dragon and train our archery skills with Angi - the wild woman of the Falkreath highlands.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Twenty-Four

The thrilling conclusion of both The Tesla Effect and my Tex Murphy Retrospective, as we see all of the other endings and what happens when you romance Taylor, ally yourself with Ariel or stupidly manage to drive away every woman trying to help you.

To get the Tex Murphy novels, go to: http://www.aaronconners.net/

To hear the Tex Murphy radio plays, go to: http://www.unofficialtexmurphy.com/casefiles/radio/TexMurphyRadioTheater_Season1-Full.mp3


Friday, May 26, 2017

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Twenty-Three

In which we skip two days of puzzles and pointless conversations where only the way we ask the questions are different than what we heard before. We do get a slightly different conversation in Sesen, however, before moving on to the moment of destiny that will give us not one, not two, not three but three and a half more endings!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Twenty-Two

In which we finally get our head examined and I try and have some entirely different conversations than I did the first time I played the game.

It all pays off, however, when we head back to our office and find Taylor ready to do a little "undercover" work with us. More. we unlock the special location for the A Double Life path - Tex's new bachelor pad.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 23 - Lian Yu

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



Plot

With the rest of Team Arrow abducted by Prometheus and held captive where it all began on the island of Lian Yiu, Oliver Queen must build an unlikely army of his enemies! Malcolm Merlyn, Nyssa Al Ghul, Captain Boomerang and even Slade Wilson will stand beside him for one reason or another. Yet even if they triumph over an army that includes Talia Al Ghul and her followers, Evelyn Sharpe and Black Siren, can Oliver count on them letting him live long enough to enjoy the victory once Prometheus is brought to justice?


Influences

Green Arrow (Vol. 3) #66 (Basic plot of Oliver Queen and his friends and family vs. an island full of killers) and Justice League: Cry For Justice (A villain called Prometheus threatens everything Oliver Queen loves.)


Goofs

It's a minor thing, but it just seems weird for Thea to be calling Sara "my friend's sister" instead of by name.

Unfortunately, all the drama of the episode is killed by the final minute, because - even ignoring press releases confirming the cast for Season 6 - we can't believe for a moment that they're killing off the entire cast except for Oliver Queen himself.


Performances

I never realized how much I missed Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson until now. I know the DCTVU is already a bit over saturated with shows but... 2018?  Deathstroke series? Please?

Well... now we know why John Barrowman didn't get his contract renewed for Season 6. Still, if Merlyn had to go out, we couldn't have asked for a better send off and Barrowman couldn't have given a better final performance as everyone's favorite bad guy you hate to love.

Willa Holland and Emily Bett Rickards haven't gotten a lot of scenes together. The brief moment they have bonding as the daughters of villains who did try to make it up to their daughters shows what a mistake that has been, as the two play off each other beautifully.


Artistry

The washed-out filter used to make the flashbacks look grayer and more miserable/dream-like is a nice touch.

It also helps to provide contrast during the fight between Team Arrow and Prometheus and his recruits when the episode cuts between the fight and Oliver's final battle with Kovar. A masterful bit of directing and editing, that.

The Nyssa/Talia sword fight is a great one.


Trivia

The episode starts with the same words that started The Pilot. "The name of the island they found me on is Lian Yu. It's Mandarin for purgatory."

The blue top and black leather jacket that Dinah is wearing in this episode resemble the DC Rebirth Black Canary costume.


Technobabble

Felicity says that she and Curtis combined have an IQ over 500.


Prometheus created a network of hundreds of charges of linked C-4 explosives.

Oliver gives Dinah the collar that Curtis built for her. It allows her to focus her Canary Cry but also allows it to overcome sonic dampeners.

Prometheus removed the on-wing hydraulic system from the plane he took to Lian Yu, rendering the plane useless.


Dialogue Triumphs


(Oliver has just knocked out the ARGUS guard who refused to abandon his post. He turns around to find Slade Wilson locking his cell door behind him.)
Slade: Would you like to explain what's going on?
Oliver: I'd like to talk about you for a minute. (pauses, clearly considering his words carefully) You seem...
Slade: What? In possession of all my marbles?
(Oliver just nods.)
Slade:
The Mirakuru wore off a long time ago, kid. I mean, I remember everything that happened. I'm not trying to escape that. It feels like some... bad dream. Now, regardless of my sanity, why do you want to help me?  After everything I've done?
Oliver: There's a man here on the island named Adrian Chase. He's holding my friends and my family hostage. Including Thea... and my son.
Slade: (smirking) Since when do you have a son?
Oliver: Slade, are you going to help me or not?
Slade: I think I'm stating the obvious when I say I killed your mother.  And for that alone you should have killed me.
Oliver: Maybe what's happening now is the reason I didn't.
(Oliver retrieves a memory card from his pocket and hands it to Slade.)
Oliver: This is all the intel that I've been able to gather on your son, Joe. Including his present whereabouts.
Slade: (openly shaken at the mention of his lost son) Are you offering to help me find my son?
Oliver: I want us to find both of our sons.
(Oliver turns around and walks to the bag that he dropped when he first entered the prison block. He opens it to reveal the Deathstroke mask. Without a word, he returns to Slade and offers him the mask. Slade nods.)
Slade: You and me, kid. Like old times.

Merlyn: Are you looking for applause? Clapping is a little more difficult for me these days.

(Oliver, Slade and Digger discover Felicity, Samantha, Curtis and Thea caged in an open field.)
Slade: Why are they unguarded?
Captain Boomerang: It seems pretty obvious to me, mate.
(Talia and Evenlyn drop out of the trees, guns and bows drawn.)
Captain Boomerang: (sighing) It's a trap.
Talia: Don't even think it Oliver, or your son loses his mother.
Captain Boomerang: Oh, and, uh.. don't worry about that gun, mate. (reaches into his coat pocket to reveal he already has one)  Mr. Chase gave me this nice new one. Along with a better offer.
Evelyn: (nodding to Slade) Adrian thought it would be pointless to reach out to you.
Talia: Although given this turn of events, perhaps you've changed your mind?
Captain Boomerang: What's it going to be, Slade?  Care to side with the winners?

Captain Boomerang: I assumed you'd want to be on the winning side.
Slade: Assumption is the mother of all failures!

(Merlyn unlocks Thea's cage.)
Merlyn: You okay?
Thea: (tiredly) Go to Hell.
Merlyn: I'll take that as a yes.

(Oliver hands Curtis a communicator.)
Oliver: Comms. Just in case something goes wrong.
Curtis: You mean "when", right?

Slade: So instead of marrying the blonde, you married Ra's Al Ghul's daughter?
Oliver: Uh... Nyssa talks too much.
Slade: She hasn't explained your beef with Chase.
Oliver: (sighs and shakes his head) My past is coming back to haunt me.
Slade: Seems to be a recurring theme with you, kid.
Oliver: Don't know why.
Slade: Well, it's not really that complicated. You suffer from survivor's guilt. You can't get over the death of your father.
Oliver: Adrian Chase has nothing to do with my father.
Slade: Kid, when it comes to you, everything has to do with your father. You and I are not dissimilar. We're both haunted by our pasts. And the only way to bury that ghost is by forgiving yourself.
Oliver: Forgiving myself?  For what?
Slade: You blame yourself for your father's suicide. And everything else that has gone wrong since. You need to forgive yourself for your sins.
Oliver: You say that like it's easy.
Slade: It's the hardest thing in this world. 

Merlyn: You may not think of me as your father, Thea, but you'll always be my daughter.

Captain Boomerang: Go after the rest!
Merlyn: I wouldn't do that if I were you.
Captain Boomerang: Well, you don't seem too bright. Standing out here in the open like this? What kind of ass-backwards strategy is that? 
Merlyn: (smirking) Let me show you.
(Cut to: Felicity, Thea, Curtis and Samantha running through the woods. There is an explosion in the distance. Thea turns around and looks behind them in shock.)

(Nyssa has just left Oliver and Slade to scout ahead in the old building.)
Slade:
She doesn't trust me.
Oliver: Can you blame her?
Slade: No.
(Slade suddenly cold-cocks Oliver, knocking him out. Black Siren rounds the corner with several of Talia's students and smirks.)
Slade: Tell Mr. Chase I have a gift for him. 

Felicity: I'd ask if you're okay, but I don't see how you could be. 
Thea: Honestly, I... I don't even know how I feel right now. 24 hours ago I... couldn't even think of Malcolm without wanting to scream, and now? Now I miss him. Is... is that insane?
Felicity: It's not insane. He's your father.
Thea: He manipulated me. He lied to me. He... he got me to kill my friend's sister! I... how can you miss somebody that you hated so much?
Felicity: Yeah. I mean, I have some experience with evil dads too. My father abandoned me. Lied to me. And then took a bullet for me, saving my life. (pauses and looks at Thea) Malcolm was not a good person and he was an even worse father, but... in his own way... he loved you. Today, he proved that.
Thea: I don't know. It's like today, I got... I got to see the father that he could have been but... he'll never get to be... because he's gone.
(Felicity pulls Thea into a tight hug.)

(Oliver has just given Dinah the collar Curtis made to enhance her powers.)
Dinah: Oh, I love that Curtis!  (To everyone else) This may hurt a bit.
Rene: Just sing, Canary!
Quentin: Actually, it's Black Canary.
(Dinah takes a deep breath and looks at the joint connecting their chains. She screams, breaking it.)

Nyssa: We have unfinished business... Sister.
Talia: I heard you gave up The Ring of The Demon's Head. What a foolish woman you've grown into.
Nyssa: It was your selfishness that forced me to grow up alone.
Talia: Our father never would have passed his mantle on to a woman. I had to forge my own path.
Nyssa: And you left me, knowing I would suffer at Father's hand.
Talia: Do you wish to settle the score now?
Nyssa: I stand with my friends!
Talia: You ally yourself with our father's murderer? He'd be ashamed of you.
Nyssa: (chuckling) Father was always ashamed of me.

(Black Siren and Black Canary knocked themselves down with their point-blank sonic cries. Siren is the first to get to her feet.)
Black Siren: You thought you could replace me? That's cute. 
(Quentin runs up behind Black Siren and hits her across the back of the head with a bo staff.)
Black Canary: You didn't have to do that.
Quentin: Oh, I did. For so many reasons. 

(Oliver has Prometheus's neck in a death grip.)
Prometheus: It's all over, but only if you do it! Do it, Oliver! And show everyone - show yourself who you really are!
(Oliver winces for a bit, sorely tempted, but he looks out to his friends, who are all watching him struggle with Prometheus.)
Oliver: No!
(Oliver releases his grip on Prometheus, leaving him gasping for breath. Oliver takes Prometheus' gun and empties it before tossing the gun away.)
Oliver: That's who I was. That's who I was before! It's not who I am now. You can blame me for your father's death for the rest of your life. I'm done blaming myself for mine. 
(Oliver starts to walk away from Prometheus.)
Prometheus: I knew it would come to this.  (growling) Your son is dead, Oliver!
(Everybody stares at Prometheus in shock. Oliver moves in and kneels by Prometheus, forcing him to meet his gaze.)
Oliver: (speaking with an eerie calm) I don't believe you. Because you are a liar. You're lying to me to manipulate me into doing what you want. But Adrian, here's the thing. If you're telling the truth? If you killed my son? I am never going to be the person you want me to be. Not ever.


Continuity

Slade Wilson was last seen in 314.

Oliver offers to help Slade find his son, Joe, whom Slade first mentioned in 114, in exchange for his help.

Captain Boomerang was last seen in 308.

Samantha Clayton, William's mother, is among the hostages on Lian Yu.

Captain Boomerang was recruited by Prometheus, in case Oliver tried recruiting him as well.

Oliver is skilled enough with a throwing knife to knock an arrow out of the air.

Merlyn used to own three Gulfstreams and can fly any plane like it.

Before the Chinese government turned it into a prison, Lian Yu was a holy retreat.

Merlyn sacrifices himself to save Thea from a landmine and takes out Captain Boomerang in the process.

Nyssa. Slade and Oliver discover the ruins of the plane that was Oliver and Slade's home on Lian Yu some nine years earlier.

Thea refers to the events of 301 and how Merlyn manipulated her to kill Sara Lance.

Felicity refers to the events of 421 and how her father, The Calculator, took a bullet for her.

Neither Felicity or Curtis knows how to fly a plane.

Quentin gives Dinah his blessing to use the name Black Canary.

Dinah's newly focused Canary Cry is capable of breaking metal chains.

We learn that the burn scars on Oliver's back came from Kovar pushing him back against the burning wreckage of the helicopter that Oliver shot down.

Oliver kills Kovar by snapping his neck.

John is not an ace pilot but he can get a plane started.

Susanna Thompson - who played Moira Queen - has a cameo in the flashbacks as Oliver calls home to tell her that he is alive.

The episode concludes with Prometheus killing himself and Lian Yu blowing up - supposedly with all of Oliver Queen's friends and family still on the island.


The Winick Factor

There's a lot of great character moments here that are ruined by a completely random ending that only serves to make the villain look invincible and smarter than the hero. That describes about 90% of Judd Winick's Green Arrow stories and most of the Prometheus stories in Season Five, in all honesty.


The Bottom Line

For a story that draws upon elements of two of the most infamously bad Green Arrow stories of all time, this one does a miraculous job of doing that this show set out to do for five years and, for the most part, did successfully - take the fractured history of a B-list (at best) comic book hero and turn it into something epic. Ignoring the last minute of the episode, that's what they did. The cliff-hanger doesn't ring true, however, and it ends the whole thing on a sour note.

Ignore that though and focus on the good - Oliver being true to his ideals, Manu Bennett redeeming Deathstroke into something like the anti-hero he's meant to be, the Susanna Thompson cameo, Oliver's final battle with Kovar, Black Canary and Quentin kicking Black Siren's ass - and this is one hell of a Hail Mary for a season that did much to restore the good old days of Arrow.  I honestly can't wait for Season Six.

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Twenty-One

In which we catch up with our neighbors on Chandler Avenue and discover (in order) that Clint The Bum is now our landlord, Zack at the Electronics Shop is now scared of us and... Rook liked the man we became better?


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 23 - Finish Line

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



Plot

The Speed Force Bazooka has failed and Iris West is dead. Now, Team Flash struggles to move past their grief to find some way of stopping Savitar before he kills again.


Influences

The Flash: Terminal Velocity (Savitar, The Flash trying to save the life of the woman he loves after witnessing a dark future), The Flash: Out Of Time (The Flash fighting a corrupted future version of himself), The Flash: Lightning Strikes Twice (the Speed Force storms at the end of the episode) and Doctor Who (general wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey shenanigans and the use of the phrase Reverse The Polarity Of The Neutron Flow)


Goofs

Why didn't Savitar go chasing after HR and Iris himself? Even without the armor, he's got to be faster than Killer Frost.

Why doesn't Barry try to run HR to the hospital? If he's hanging on long enough to explain what he did and say his goodbyes, there's plenty of time for the Fastest Man Alive to get him to the ER.

How is it that everybody except HR forgets that Barry knowing about their plans is a bad thing?

Given the relative eternity Savitar had to hone his powers and become The God Of Speed, why didn't he also take the time to develop the skills he needed to build a quantum splicer himself?

Harry's speech to Tracy, while well-delivered, turns out to be completely pointless since Tracy doesn't wind up having to do anything for the rest of the episode except be heart-broken.

With Savitar having been removed from existence thanks to Iris not dying, shouldn't The Speed Force trap that contained Savitar also have blinked out of existence since there was no need for it ever to be made?

The one thing missing from this episode?  Jesse Quick. We really needed her to show up again to make this tribute to Season 3 feel complete.


Performances

It's hard to say who does a better job playing multiple versions of the same character here - Grant Gustin or Tom Tom Cavanagh,

After being given precious little to do this season, Candice Patton makes up for it here.


Artistry


The image of Barry outrunning the exploding Philosopher's Stone while carrying Iris is a striking one.


Flash Facts

Barry makes reference to begging his parents to take him to a science expo in Midway City as a child.  In the DC Comics Universe, Midway City was home to the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman. Depending on the story, it was either in Illinois and was based on Chicago (in much the same way Metropolis was based on New York City) or was located in Michigan, near Sault Ste. Marie.

Savitar makes reference to a villain named Devoe that Barry has yet to face, whose defeat required the use of a cerebral inhibitor. This is likely a reference to Cliff Devoe a.k.a. The Thinker - a Golden Age super-villain and enemy of the Jay Garrick Flash. Devoe was the District Attorney of Keystone City and - frustrated with his inability to put a major crime-boss away -  decided to switch sides. He offered his skills as a strategist to other criminals, eventually coming to head his own gang. He also took possession of a device he called The Thinking Cap, which further enhanced his intelligence and gave him the powers of telepathy and telekinesis.

In assessing the damage at STAR Labs, Cisco asks Wally to "reverse the polarity on the neutron flow". This is close to a stock phrase, "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow", which was used in a good deal of science-fiction television.

The phrase was first used in the original Doctor Who series and was said by The Third Doctor actor Jon Pertwee. Writer Terrence Dicks recalled that Pertwee had trouble remembering some of the technobabble the writers came up with but he did like the line "reverse the polarity" and asked Dicks to use the line more often. Dicks obliged. Curiously, while The Third Doctor often said "reverse the polarity", he only uttered the full phrase "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" twice in the show's history. Future Doctors, however, did make use of the full phrase.


Technobabble


Julian - with the help of Caitlin's mother - develops an experimental gene therapy that will rewrite Caitlin's meta-DNA and restore her to normal.

Savitar asks Vibe to turn the Speed Force Bazooka into a intradimensonal quantum splicer. This device, once connected to The Speed Force, will allow Savitar to splice himself across all of time, existing at every possible moment.

Savitar refers to a device called a cerebral inhibitor that was used to stop a villain named Devoe.

By changing the polarity of the climbing arc on The Speed Force Bazooka, Cisco changed it into a Speed Force Skeleton Key which retrieved Jay Garrick from the prison in The Speed Force.

Cisco asks Wally, in trying to access the damage at STAR Labs following the Earthquake, to reverse the polarity on the neutron flow.

The earthquakes recorded by Central City University measured 6.6 and 7.2 on the Richter Scale.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Barry pulls up the future newspaper image in the Time Vault. It has changed back to how it originally was, with Iris-West Allen writing the story about The Flash's disappearance.)
Iris: Iris West-Allen.
Barry: It changed back!
(Iris gasps as the two hug. Joe looks at the image in disbelief.)
Joe: Does that mean what I think it means?
Barry: Yeah, Joe. The future is ours again.
(Barry pulls Joe into a group hug with Iris.)

(Savitar staggers as he has flashes of new memories. He begins to slowly and uneasily walk away from where Killer Frost has Vibe pinned down.)
Killer Frost:
Savitar?
Savitar: (frantically) Something's...wrong!
Killer Frost: What is it?
Savitar: She's... not dead.
(Vibe looks up, hope starting to fill his face.)
Killer Frost:
How is that possible?
Savitar: HR!  He took her place!
Vibe: (softly) HR...
Killer Frost: I- I thought you said HR lived?
Savitar: Not anymore!
Killer Frost: (thoughtfully) If Iris doesn't die...
Vibe: ... that means the future's changing.
Savitar: (moving towards Vibe) So is yours!

Barry: I wasn't sure you'd come. Must be an odd sensation? Getting new memories? You having an uncertain future.
Savitar: What do you want? I'm busy.
Barry: (laughs) Doing what? Getting erased from existence?
Savitar: We'll see which one of us gets erased.
Barry: Are you still planning on becoming a god?
Savitar: Cisco and Caitlin are still alive. If that's what you're worried about.
Barry: Oh, I know. You need them, right? To pull off your grand ascension?
Savitar: Look, Barry - if I wanted to talk to myself, I could have done that back at my lair. What do you want?
Barry: I want to help you.
Savitar: (scoffs) Really?
Barry: You don't have much time before the paradox reaches you. Come back to STAR Labs. Let Cisco and Caitlin go and let us figure out a way to save you.
Savitar: You really think I'd trust you?
Barry: You showed up. So you remember me coming here. Did I have any tricks up my sleeve? Was I.. was I planning on blindsiding you?
Savitar: I dunno, Barry. Maybe I get off on watching you grovel.
Barry: No, I don't think that's it. I think you're hearing me. I'm still in there. Deep down, buried beneath the scars and the pain, that part of you that... it must feel so lonely. But it also knows what it's like to have a family. To have friends. You can have all that back.We can stop hurting each other.
(There is a long pause as Savitar seems to consider this. Barry finally speaks again.)
Barry: I remember when I was six, and ah...I begged Mom and Dad to let me go to the science expo in Midway. And uh, well. we got a flat tire on that dirt road, no spare, so we were towed to that garage in a tiny little one-street town. Of course we were stuck there all day. And we got ice cream. And French fries with gravy at that little diner. And then that night we watched the local fireworks show.  Actually turned out to be a great day. And it's my favorite memory of Mom and Dad. What was the name of that town?
Savitar: (quietly) ... Masonville.
Barry: I'm still in there. Come home.

(Tracy is in her lab space at STAR Labs. Harry Wells enters behind her. Tracy sees his reflection, and spins around, gasping.)
Harry: I - uh, I'm not HR. My name is Harrison Wells. I'm from a different Earth.. in the Multiverse... how to explain this?
Tracy: ... you're his doppelganger?
Harry: ... yeah. Something like that. Look - these people? They're good people. And they need your help.
Tracy: By helping the bad guy that I spent weeks trying to stop? No! I won't do it. The only reason I agreed was because of HR.
Harry: HR needs your help.
Tracy: HR is dead!
Harry: That's why you need to stay! Because of what Savitar took from you! Because of what Savitar took from HR! Everything! HR paid the price that he did because he loved these people. Because he loved you. And because when the moment came, HR didn't run.

(Killer Frost blasts Savitar with the gun that Cisco made. Energy arcs between the gun, Savitar and the portal into The Speed Force. Suddenly, the energy shifts and Savitar, who momentarily seemed to be splitting into infinite versions of himself, is suddenly quite solid and held by the beam.)
Savitar: What?! No!
(Suddenly, a streak of yellow lightning comes from the portal and circles around, knocking Savitar down. Killer Frost drops the gun in shock as Jay Garrick - The Flash of Earth Three - comes to a stop before her, smiling.)
Jay Garrick: I've been waiting a long time to do that.
Savitar: Garrick?!  How did you-
Vibe: He didn't. I did.
(Vibe enters the scene with The Flash, Kid Flash and Gypsy. Vibe is holding Jay Garrick's helmet, which he tosses to him.) 
Vibe: By changing the polarity of the climbing arc, I changed your Speed Force Splicer into a Speed Force Skeleton Key. Didn't think I was actually going to let you become a god now, did you?

(Savitar charges at Barry, whose back is turned to him as he approaches Caitlin and Cisco. Suddenly, a shot rings out as Savitar falls to the ground. Everyone turns to see Iris West, holding a gun. Savitar stars to crumble into nothing as everyone looks at his body. Barry then moves to Iris, who hugs him.)
Iris: All these months you were trying to save me from him. Look at that - I saved you.

(Iris reaches to one side of the couch and pulls up a box.)
Iris: I can officially mail these.
Barry: What are these?
Iris: Save The Date cards for our wedding. On one of my braver days, I filled them out. I never mailed them not knowing if I would live to see the.ceremony... but now, I guess, it's safe to -
(There's a sudden rush of air as Barry disappears along with the box of invitations. He arrives back two seconds later, smiling widely.)
Barry: Delivered.
Iris: (slapping his shoulder) I wasted a lot of money on stamps, thank you very much!


Continuity

After Iris was captured, HR used the piece of Savitar's armor they still had from 316 to track him and find where Iris was being held. He then used his hologram generator to make himself look like Iris, and vice-versa, allowing Iris to escape while HR was captured in her place.

Before he dies, HR asks Barry to tell Cisco something for him. He also tells Tracy that he loves her and that her future will be glorious.

Barry confirms that the future newspaper story about his disappearing on April 25, 2024 is once again written by Iris West-Allen.

Julian is revealed to have been working on a cure for Caitlin with Caitlin's mother.

Savitar reveals that his Plan B was using Cisco to build a device that would allow him to spread himself across the whole of time. His claims his reason for kidnapping Caitlin was to use her as leverage in getting Cisco to work for him.

Harry Wells is retrieved from Earth Two to convince Tracy to help save Savitar.

Savitar refers to the medical lab at STAR Labs as being the place where they thought up the cerebral inhibitor they used against a villain named Devoe. He then states that they haven't gotten to that point yet.

Gypsy sensed that Cisco was in danger from across the Multiverse because they are connected.

The one thing The Black Flash cannot fight, according to Savitar, is cold. This is the true reason why Savitar kept Killer Frost around - to kill The Black Flash before it could stop him.

Vibe ultimately shows Killer Frost mercy and offers her the cure to her condition. Killer Frost then saves Vibe when Savitar is about to kill him for ruining his plan.

Barry is able to vibrate through Savitar's armor and knock him out of it, taking control of it. When Barry is in the armor, it glows red rather than blue.

Barry destroys Savitar's armor by vibrating through it.

Savitar is ultimately killed by Iris, who shoots him as he is about to try and kill Barry.

HR is buried with a tombstone with a statement that is often mistakenly attributed to Mark Twain - "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." (Thanks to JeffRo for pointing out that Mark Twain never said this.)

Barry, Wally, Joe, Iris, Tracy, Jay, Harry, Julian, Cisco and Gypsy all attend HR's funeral.

Iris tells a story about John Lennon at HR's funeral. The story goes that, as a child, Lennon was asked by a teacher to write down what he wanted to be when he grew up. Lennon wrote a single word. "Happy." The teacher told Lennon that he didn't understand the assignment. Lennon told the teacher that they didn't understand life.  HR Wells, Iris concludes, did understand life. (It is worth mentioning that there is no evidence that John Lennon ever said this. Thanks to JeffRo for pointing this out.)

Cisco leaves HR's drumsticks on his grave.

At HR's funeral, Barry tells Cisco what HR's message to him was "That doing this took strength that he gave to me."

Caitlin shows up at the end of the funeral. She returns the cure to Julian, saying that she's not Caitlin Snow or Killer Frost and she needs time alone to figure out who or what she is now.

Iris refers to the song Barry sang to her in 317 and they agree it should be the song for their first dance as husband and wife at their wedding.

Central City does not experience earthquakes.

Jay and Barry realize that the storms causing the Earthquakes are being caused by the release of the energy from The Speed Force Trap. Someone has to go back into it to balance the energy and - it is revealed - The Speed Force wants Barry.

The Speed Force manifests to Barry in the form of his mother.

Barry asks Wally to carry on for him as The Flash.

HR agrees to stay on Earth One to help out.

Julian agrees to stick with Team Flash as well.

Barry says Cisco will have to be the one to lead the team now.


The Fridge Factor

Averted hardcore, with Iris being the one to save Barry from Savitar after a season of being the damsel in distress.


The Bottom Line


Much like Season 3 itself, it's a mixed bag made more tolerable by some fantastic performances. The most vexing part is the lack of some of the best bits of the season (i.e. Danielle Pannabaker as Killer Frost is largely sidelined for most of the episode and Jesse Quick is completely absent) while bits that didn't really work at all (i.e. Gypsy's "romance" with Cisco) are given a prominence that doesn't feel deserved.

I may stand alone on this, but I felt more grieved by the loss of Tracy and HR's love than I did Barry and Iris' separation at the end of this episode. Is that because we know that this loss is temporary and that Barry has to return, if only because we have a newspaper from the future that says so?  Maybe.  Either way, this season finale wasn't bad but it could have been a lot better.

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Twenty

In which we start investigating what happened to us the night we lost our memory, get picked up by the police and start to discover just how bad a guy we've become in the past seven years.

Injustice 2 #7 - A Review

Harley Quinn is an unwilling accomplice to the new Suicide Squad. Determined to make things as difficult as possible on her captors, she is surprised when the man in charge - who is not the "worst Batman ever" - agrees to speak with her regarding his plans. Unfortunately, he has far greater leverage over Harley than a bomb in her brain and he means to use it to win her cooperation!


It's difficult for me to discuss this issue without giving away the game completely. Finding an image to use to show off the issue's artwork proved particularly difficult this time around. Still, I am trying to keep the secret identity of The Suicide Squad's new leader a secret, though astute readers may have already guessed it given some of the clues dropped before now.

What can I say then? I love how Tom Taylor writes Harley Quinn as the genius who plays dumb that she is supposed to be. I think he writes the mystery villain remarkably well and with the same complex understanding that he does Harley Quinn. And I think the artwork by Messrs. Sampere, Albarran and Lokus looks fantastic throughout.

The plain and simple truth is that this is one of the best books DC Comics is putting out right now. Even if you aren't a fan of the games that inspired it, this is still worth reading as a fascinating and well-thought-out Elseworlds tale.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 22 - Nevertheless, She Persisted

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




Plot

The people of National City are fighting back against their Daxamite invaders and Kara has freed her friends from captivity. But Queen Rhea has one trick left up her sleeve - a mind-controlled Superman!


Influences

Superman: War Of The Supermen
. The Smallville episode Splinter (concept of Silver Kryptonite)


Goofs

As has been pointed out before, there's no explanation for how Queen Rhea learned of Kryptonite's effect on Kryptonians.

It also hasn't been explained why she felt the need to haul all of these - as far as she knew - completely useless rocks with her across the universe.

How in Rao's name did Rhea keep Superman subdued until Kara showed up? When exactly did she capture him, anyway? Was she sitting on him during the arranged marriage between Mon-El and Lena?

Why didn't Rhea use the Silver Kryptonite on Kara when she showed up?  Or any of the other Kryptonite she's apparently been sitting on all this time?

Why did Rhea use some untested form of Kryptonite on Superman? Why not just kill him? It was said last week that the Daxamite ships had Kryptonite cannons, so it's not like they're unwilling to use it in a lethal fashion.

Rhea's Kryptonite blood has similar issues. Ignoring that she'd have no way of knowing the effects her blood would have on Kryptonians (Clark and Kara are the only two left, as far as we know.) how would her body be able to contain it? She hasn't been exposed to a yellow sun nearly enough to have the natural immunities Daxamites are suppose to get under a yellow sun, so her skin shouldn't be acting like lead shielding.

There is no logical reason for why Rhea suddenly turns to stone and crumbles to dust. On top of everything else, the special effects suck.

Alex is able to get that one-man Kryptonian rocket delivered in record time consider the massive infrastructure damage that's taken place in National City.

So with all the technology that the DEO has to accommodate all manner of alien life form and disaster, they don't have an isolation cell capable of filtering out all outside air?


Performances

Tyler Hoechlin is still a damn fine Superman.

It's corny as all hell, yet even my stone heart was moved by Kara and Mon-El's tearful goodbye. A wonderful bit of acting from both Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood and the culmination of a great partnership that dazzled us all season.


Artistry


The effects work on the fight between Superman and Supergirl sets a new high-water mark for the series and superhero TV shows in general. The direction is top-notch too.

The running battle between the various forces in the fifth segment is also good, in terms of script-balance and direction.

The penultimate sequence, set to Idina Menzel's Small World, is perfect. Music. Acting. Direction. Everything.


Super Trivia


The episode title - Nevertheless, She Persisted - is a phrase that was adopted by feminist activitsts in the United States as a rallying cry in 2017. It originated from the comments of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he attempted to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren while she was in the middle of reading a letter from Coretta Scott King. The altercation ended in Senator Warren being banned from further speaking during the proceedings. The letter was later read, without objection, by a male Senator.

Queen Rhea uses Silver Kryponite against Superman. The Silver Kryptonite of the DCTVU causes Kryptonians to suffer from intense paranoia and hallucinations. In this case, it causes Superman to see his most loyal ally (i.e. Supergirl) as his worst enemy (i.e. General Zod).

This seems similar to the Silver Kryptonite which first appeared in the Splinter episode of Smallville. There, Clark's blood became contaminated with a splinter of Silver Kryptonite, which caused him to become paranoid and turn on his friends and family. Unlike in this episode, it wasn't enough for Clark just to get close to it.

This form of Silver Kryptonite was introduced into the DC Comics Universe about three years later in Superman/Batman #49. Here, Silver Kryptonite was said to have mystic properties and was used in the creation of the two halves of the Ach-Om Rashay or Amulet of Mindfulness.

A different form of Silver Kryptonite appeared decades earlier in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #70. This form of Kryptonite had no special powers, being a prop made by Jimmy Olsen to keep Superman from snooping around his plans for a surprise party honoring the 25th anniversary of Superboy's first public appearance.

Mon-El calls Kara "The Woman of Tomorrow". In the comics, slightly less often than being referred to as The Man of Steel, Superman was called The Man of Tomorrow. Supergirl, in turn, was referred to as The Maiden of Steel and The Woman of Tomorrow, though The Maid of Might or Maiden of Might was more common.

Cat Grant notes that she has never seen Star Wars. This is something of a joke given that Cat Grant's actress - Calista Flockhart - is married to Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford.

The device Lex Luthor designed to irradiate Earth's atmosphere with Kryptonite in a bid to kill Superman or drive him off-planet is reminiscent of a similar safeguard Luthor developed during the War of The Supermen storyline in the comics. There, in order to repel an invasion of  hostile Kryptonians, Lex Luthor created a device which turned Earth's sun red instead of yellow. This killed nearly all of the invading Kryptonians as they were in deep space flying to Earth from New Krypton.

Superman teaches Supergirl a fighting move he says he learned on Warworld. In the DC Comics Universe, Warworld is an artificial planet most famously used by the intergalactic despot Mongul as a gladiatorial arena. It has alternatively been used as a base of operations by Brainiac and Sinestro.

Rhea says that after National City she will move on to destroy Star City and Metropolis. Star City, of course, is the home town of Green Arrow and Metropolis is the hometown of Superman in the DC Comics Universe.

In the final sequence, we see another baby sent away from Krypton on the day Kara and Kal-El were sent into space. Tended to by sinister women in black robes, they say that the child will "reign" on Earth. This may be a reference to Reign Of The Superman - the 1933 story by Jerry Siegel with illustrations by Joe Shuster - which served as a prototype for the concept that would eventually become the Superman we know and love today.

Reign Of The Supermen was also the name of the 1993 storyline following The Death of Superman where four characters - Cyborg Superman, The Man of Steel, Superboy and The Eradicator - appeared following Superman's death.

The building the baby is launched from has a Kryptonian house symbol upon its wall. The symbol appears to depict the profile of a skull. It does not correspond to any previous Kryptonian house symbol on record that this chronicler can find.

It may also be worth mentioning that Reign is the name of a super-villain from the 2011 New 52 Supergirl series. Reign was a genetically engineered creature crated on Krypton for some undefined purpose. Reign was one of five such "Worldkillers" who were created to be living biological weapons that would continually evolve, becoming more and more capable of causing untold death and destruction. It was never confirmed but strongly suggested that Doomsday - the monster that killed Superman - was the fifth missing Worldkiller.


Technobabble


The DEO satellites are programmed to search for trace amounts of Kryptonite anywhere on Earth. This enables them to sense the poisoned Superman when he and Kara are fighting in the middle of National City.

Lena says that she can re-purpose one of her brother's devices so that it releases lead into Earth;s atmosphere at a level non-lethal to humans but deadly to Daxamites. Reportedly Lex had intended to use Kryptonite rather than Lead, in a bid to either kill Superman or force him to leave Earth forever.

El Mayara is the Kryptonese phrase for "Stronger Together".

U-th-aur is the Martian word for Brother.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Kara wakes up in bed next to Mon-El. She cuddles up to him.)
Kara: Let's just stay here a little while longer, okay?
Mon-El: How long?
Kara: Until tomorrow.

Superman: And you're the guy who's dating my cousin?
Mon-El: Yes, sir. Mon-El of Daxam.  Though not, uh not like... the others Daxam. The killy ones?
(Superman just nods and offers his hand, which Mon-El shakes, looknig relieved.)
Superman:
You must be a good guy or she wouldn't be with you.

Supergirl: I just... I feel like I'm on the brink of having everything I ever wanted. Family. Friends. A job I love. A life as a hero I never could have imagined. And Mon-El. If I beat Rhea, I get to keep all of that. (pauses) I don't know! I don't know if it's possible! I don't know if it's possible to have everything you want!
Superman: Well, it is. But only because you worked for it. Whenever I fight, no matter who it's against or where it is, I'm always fighting for Lois. I fight with her right here. (taps his heart) The people we love, they're ah... they're another secret super power. Keep him with you.

(Lilian Luthor is pushing desperately at a button on the device to irradiate the atmosphere. Nothing is happening.)
Lillian: You said it worked!
Lena: Oh, it does. I just gave Supergirl the remote. Only she can turn it on.

Mon-El: There's something I need to say. Wherever I go, I'm going to be better because of you. You'll be in my heart. I promise I'm going to be the man... that you thought I could be. I promise.


Continuity

Superman fought General Zod at some point in the past.

Clark considers Zod his worst enemy and is the person he most fears.

Mention is made of the necklace that Kara's mother gave her right before she left Krypton - last mentioned in 120.

The chessboard in Lena's office is a Luthor family heirloom.

The device Lillian Luthor took from Lex's vault in 212 is revealed. It's a device which could irradiate the atmosphere with Kryptonite, either killing Superman or making him unable to stay on Earth. Lena says she can alter it to do the same thing with lead at a level non-lethal to humans but deadly to Daxamites.

Clark says that he has never encountered Silver Kryptonite before.

Clark says that he was at full-strength when Kara beat him.

Clark refers to 208 and how Kara destroyed Kelex - the robot butler tho tends to The Fortress of Solitude.

Dakkam Ur is an ancient and sacred rite dating back to the original wars between Daxam and Krypton. It likely dates back further as Mon-El says (though he is exaggerating slightly) that it has been around since "we crawled out of caves with rocks and sticks." In Earth terms, Dakkam Ur is a trial by combat.

Cat Grant has never seen Star Wars.

Clark has green eyes.

Superman fought on Warworld.

Superman addresses J'onn as Brother in Martian after J'onn says "Stronger Together" in Kryptonese.

M'Gann - last seen in 211 - arrives from Mars with friendly White Martians to aid in the battle.

Cat refers to the events of 119, saying that the Daxamite invasion is worse than Myriad.

Rhea dies after Kara activates Lena's device.

Mon-El leaves Earth in the rocket that originally saved him.  Kara gives him her mother's necklace.

Clark says once again that he thinks Kara is stronger than him. Not just physically, but emotionally. He freely admits that he isn't certain he could make a choice between Lois Lane and the world though he would like to believe that he would.

The mind bond between M'Gann and J'onn is strong enough that she heard him cry for help for Mars.

M'Gann discovered other White Martians who regret their past actions as she does.

Alex refers to how Kara told her how proud she was of her in 206. She returns the favor.

Alex proposes to Maggie. We don't hear an answer but her smile indicates a favorable response.

Cadmus and Lillian Luthor take credit for having saved the Earth.

Cat Grant has been married four times. It might have been five but she turned down Rob Lowe. Twice.

Cat refers to Kara's articles on Slaver's Moon (209), the Alien Registry (215) and Roulette's Alien Fight Club (204).

It is finally confirmed that Cat Grant does know that Kara Danvers is Supergirl and has merely been playing dumb this whole time.

Mon-El is seen entering a wormhole to parts unknown.

The final sequence - a flashback to Krypton  35 years ago - reveals that a third child, described as an "it" - was sent to Earth at the same time as Kara and Kal-El. When asked what it will do once it gets there, it is said that "It will reign."


Untelevised Adventures


General Zod apparently fought Superman at some point in the past.

Apparently, Clark also fought on Warworld in this reality.

M'Gann apparently made contact with other peace-minded White Martians on her return to Mars. They are now working to change how things are run and make amends for their past crimes.


The Fridge Factor


Surprisingly averted. Kara is said to be stronger than Superman twice. Lena proves to be smarter than her mother and probably could have finished her brothers' device faster without Winn's "help". On top of everything else, we finally get confirmation that Cat Grant knows about Kara's secret identity.


The Kryptonite Factor


Never has this section been quite so appropriately named. See Goofs, if you haven't already, for a full list of all the reasons why all the uses of Kryponite in this episode don't make sense. From Queen Rhea hauling it around with her in the first place to her poisonous Kryptonite blood, I defy you to make sense of any of this!


The Bottom Line


Cat Grant says it best "This is worse than Myraid. I never thought I'd say that." And yet, somehow, like Myraid, most of this episode works far better than it has any right to given the gaping plot-holes and the utter cheesiness of some scenes. Despite everything wrong, I still believe a girl can fly and can't wait for Season Three to start, if only to see if my guesses as to the identity of the "it" in the rocket is right.