Monday, December 18, 2017

Titans #18 - A Review

Facing the power behind their enemies The Key, Psimon and Mister Twister, The Titans are horrified to find that it is one of their own... a version of Donna Troy from the future, determined to kill her former allies and push Donna down the path to becoming her. Can Donna overcome her dark future self?


Titans #18 brings The Rise of Troia to a satisfying, if rushed conclusion. Dan Abnett still seems to be struggling to balance the overly large cast and the subplot involving Bubblebee's amnesia - probably the least developed storyline since the series started - is resolved with little explanation or fanfare. The story isn't bad but there's little of the depth Abnett delivers in his writing on Aquaman.

The artwork is similarly competent but hardly outstanding. Brent Booth can draw a good fight scene, but his facial expressions are horrendous. People smile at the oddest times in the worlds that Brent Booth creates resulting in some incredibly awkward fight scenes.

The Final Analysis: 5 out of 10.

Detective Comics #970 - A Review


Tim Drake is back in control of The Belfry and The Gotham Knights have hit the organized criminals of Gotham City with a vengeance. Yet Stephanie "Spoiler" Brown wonders at Tim's newfound enthusiasm for crime-fighting and wonders if he's still committed to their plan to give it up to go to college together once Tim's plans are in place. Meanwhile, as Basil "Clayface" Karlo considers the possibility of a cure for his condition, The Victim's Syndicate make their next move against the vigilantes of Gotham City.



Detective Comics #970 is largely a house-keeping issue, light on action with most of the text devoted to reminding the regular readers of the many subplots that are up in the air at the moment. James Tynion IV manages all of the stories with the agility of a plate-spinner, continuing to display his amazing aptitude for depicting these characters.

Unfortunately, the artwork isn't quite so skillful. Joe Bennett's pencils are decent enough, though I admit I find his design for Clayface rather dull. The chief problem is that three inkers kill any chance of a uniform look to the artwork and everything looks odd as a result.

The Final Analysis: 6 out of 10.

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #17 - A Review

A mysterious plague threatens the lives of every man in Gotham City. The Birds of Prey have gathered the rest of the city's heroines - and even The Sirens - to help them keep the peace and find a cure. Can they thwart the plans of Patient Zero - the super-genius behind the viral attack - and her followers in The Daughters of Gotham?


The story comes to a satisfying conclusion under the pens of The Benson Sisters. Despite the large cast of characters, nearly everyone gets a moment to shine. All of the characters sound like themselves, even special guests Wonder Woman and Lois Lane.

Unfortunately, the artwork continues to be an ordeal to work through. There's no consistency to Roge Antonio's work, with differing levels of detail being provided to different characters in the same panel. Patient Zero, for instance, is rendered in a more realistic style than the cartoonish, streamlined superheroines she's taken hostage. A larger problem is the colors of Marcelo Maiolo, which leave everything looking washed out or orange-tinted to the point that all the white heroines are the same shade as Harley Quinn!

 The Final Analysis: 5 out of 10.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Injustice 2 #36 - A Review

Breaking into The Fortress of Solitude in search of a working Phantom Zone Projector, Batman and the new Justice League Task Force were not expecting to run into an army of angry Superman robots. What they find inside The Fortress proves even more surprising!


Injustice 2 #36 is largely devoted to one humdinger of an epic action-sequence. Despite this, the best moments of the issue come in the quiet conversations our heroes have later on. Good as he is at writing superheroic battles, Tom Taylor's bread and butter are these quieter character-driven moments and these scenes are what keep me reading this series.

Xermanico excels at depicting both the active and static scenes, though some of the panels in the action-filled half of the story are a tad rough. The majority of the comic still looks fantastic, with J. Nanjan's finishes and Wes Abbott's letters proving as spectacular as usual.

The Final Analysis: 9 out of 10. A few oddly posed panels put this one just short of perfection.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 9 - Irreconcilable Differences

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



Plot

Oliver and Felicity's wedding reception is dampened by disturbing news - The FBI have a witness ready to testify that Oliver Queen is The Green Arrow and it's someone on Team Arrow! Paranoia runs deep, as the team questions who they can trust but their fears will have to be put on hold when Quentin Lance is taken hostage by Cayden James and Black Siren.


Influences

The Mission Impossible films (the heist on ARGUS)


Goofs

Black Siren shows far more martial arts skill here than she has in previous episodes, being capable of knocking out both Thea Queen and Quentin Lance with one punch.

It is said that the nano-aluminum amplifier could be used to increase the power of a thermobaric bomb by twenty-fold. John says this is enough to destroy Star City and then some. However, it was said in the Thanksgiving episode that the bomb's radius was 200 yards. 4,000 yards is a considerable distance but not the size of a large city.

As neat an idea as it is trying to tie all the villains from the first half of this season into a unified villain group, it really doesn't make sense in the context of the characters. Forget the psychotic Black Siren being made to heel. There's no logical reason (yet) for Anatoly to involve himself with the destruction of a whole city nor for Ricardo Diaz. And don't get me started on Vigilante teaming with a group of criminals unless this is part of a major long con on his part.


Performances

You never realize how much you miss Willa Holland as Thea until she's back after being gone for a few episodes.


Artistry

The script does a good job at the beginning of playing up the mystery of who the traitor to Team Arrow is. While we know it probably isn't Dinah, enough wiggle room is left (along with the revelation that Vigilante knows Oliver Queen is Green Arrow) to make it uncertain, along with Curtis' heavy drinking and Rene's confession of wondering if they'd be better off without Team Arrow.

There is one nice shot of Oliver Queen, standing before the racks holding all of Team Arrow's costumes, after telling John to assemble the team... the whole team.


Trivia

The episode opens with the original Season 6 introduction, with Oliver once again declaring that he is The Green Arrow.

The Arrow Title Card is back to having the symbols for Black Canary, Wild Dog, Mister Terrific, Overwatch, Spartan and Green Arrow.


Technobabble

Cayden James requests a nano-aluminum amplifier in exchange for Quentin Lance's life.

The vault holding the nano-aluminum amplifier has a pressure-sensitive floor rigged to its alarm.

The nano-aluminum amplifier can be used to increase the explosive power of a thermobaric bomb by twenty-fold. That is enough power to blow up all of Star City. 

Curtis says he can disable the amplifier by back-channeling a path into the circuitry. Felicity suggests he also hide that behind the existing board.


Dialogue Triumphs

Donna: I want you to know that I have forgiven both of you for running off. And eloping. And waiting to propose to my daughter until you were under indictment.
Oliver: Oh! Actually, Felicity proposed to me.

(After Oliver and Felicity escape from her parents.)
Felicity: Those whack jobs are already your in-laws, so if you're having second thoughts, it's too late for you.
Oliver: I wouldn't have it any other way.
Felicity: (softly) You really do love me.

(Curtis is awkwardly and obviously lying to Rene about all the men he is dating.)
Curtis: There's one guy in particular who I'm dating. His name is... Dom Perignon. He is smooth and expensive, and uh, he's really nice. Uh, but there's, like, other guys too.
Rene: Who? Tom Collins? Rob Roy?
Curtis: Not actually a gin guy.

(Quentin gives Oliver a small box. It contains a fancy gold watch.)
Quentin: Yeah, I know. It doesn't look like much. (chuckles nervously)  But... my dad gave that to me on my wedding day.
Oliver: Quentin, I can't accept this!
Quentin: It's not like I've got anybody I can give it to, is it? (pauses) And besides, it's not right you don't have a parent here tonight.

Rene: True love is... so special that we all dream about it. And when I look at Oliver and Felicity, I'm reminded of... how I felt about my wife on our wedding day. We were so in love. And we would do anything for each other, I mean no matter what! And that is the epitome of Oliver and Felicity. Yeah, I mean, you guys have had your struggles, but... you always worked through it. These are two of the most genuine people in the world and they deserve all the happiness. And... I'm so fortunate to call them my friends. So please raise a glass to true love... Oliver and Felicity.

Curtis: Do you...  do you ever... feel like life would be easier... if there was never a Team Arrow?
Rene: (pauses) Only all the time.

(A hungover Curtis, disguised as a janitor, pushes a wheeled trashcan over a panel. He pulls the lid off and looks down into the bin.)
Curtis: We're clear! Ohhhh.. .also, leaning over - not a great decision.
(Felicity stands up out of the trash clan and slaps Curtis.)
Felicity:
You are not throwing up! I'm already spending my honeymoon in a garbage can! I am not wearing your puke!

Rene: Stop! Dinah, isn't the witness, Oliver.
Oliver: You don't know that.
Rene: Yes, I do. Because it's me. I'm the one that's testifying against you.

Oliver: Thinking about what Rene did... what did he do really? He kept a secret and he put his daughter ahead of the team. And I feel betrayed. How can I feel betrayed by somebody doing the exact same things that I've done?
Thea: Because you've never sold anyone out on the team, Ollie. And if you're convicted, you could wind up spending a really long time in jail. But having said that, you're doing the right thing looking at things through his perspective. And having done that, maybe you can see your way to forgiving him?
Oliver: Seriously?
Thea: Well, Rene is a very desperate guy who just did a very desperate thing. But he's also the same guy who just last night was giving such a heart-felt, sweet speech and was calling you his friend. And I really thing that he meant that! It was a betrayal. No question. But since you've been able to see things from his point of view, you should also be able to see a way of forgiving him.

Cayden James: I am a man of my word. If I wasn't, there wouldn't be much point in my vowing to destroy this city, would there?

Vince: You okay? You don't look good.
Dinah: I don't want to talk about it.
Vince: Then why did you reach out?
Dinah: Because I had no one else to call.
Vince: I'll try not to be insulted by that.
Dinah: I really needed someone who... believed in me. I needed a friend.
Vince: Friends. I can do that.


Dialogue Disasters

The whole scene of Quentin Lance trying to empathize with Black Siren. Katie Cassidy's plastic performance doesn't help.

Oliver: Cayden James knew that we sabotaged the amplifier last night. We need to find out how.
(Cut to: A POV shot from the ceiling of The Bunker. We pull back to reveal that we're looking at a monitor in Cayden James' hideout.)
Black Siren: When you had me raid their bunker and plant that mini-cam two months ago-
Cayden James: - was this the outcome that I had in mind? Quite so, Miss Lance.
(We pull back to see James standing with another man as they watch the monitor and Black Siren comes to his side.)
Cayden James: Although I must confess things have worked out even better than I anticipated.
(A door opens from one side of the room. Anatoly enters and comes to stand with the others.)
Anatoly: Hardly impressive. Left to his own devices, Oliver Queen will always push away those closest to him.
(Vince joins the group as well.)
Vince: So we've got them fighting with each other instead of fighting us.
(Ricardo "The Dragon" Diaz steps up on the side of the unknown man.)
Ricardo Diaz: Please tell me that isn't your whole master plan?
Cayden James: Oh, not at all, Mr. Diaz. In fact, I think it fair to say that this...is only the beginning.


Continuity

Oliver and Thea were allowed to sip champagne at family gatherings as part of toasts as children.

Lyla Michaels was unable to attend the reception due to an ARGUS mission.

Noah "Calculator" Kuttler is seen for the first time since 422.

Donna Smoak is seen for the first time since 423.

Noah and Donna were married by a Tom Jones impersonating rabbi. Noah said he arranged that because he mistakenly thought Donna was a Tom Jones fan.

Adam and Laura Hoffman - the neighbor couple with whom Oliver and Felicity frequently socialized with when they lived in Ivy Town in 401 - show up for the reception.

Curtis and his husband Paul had custom cocktails made at their wedding - The Holtini and the Peach Paul Sangria. They both also wore matching white tuxes.

Dinah says she doesn't really believe in marriage or life-long commitments but admits that may be due to her having several broken engagements.

Dinah receives a text message at the reception from an unknown caller who asks why she isn't answering their calls. Both Rene and Curtis have noticed her getting mysterious texts and acting strangely lately.

Curtis has been drinking more often since his divorce.

Quentin gives Oliver a watch that his father gave him on the day he got married.

Curtis catches the bouquet when Felicity throws it.

Oliver and Felicity's first dance is held to Etta James' At Last.

Thea makes reference to hoping to see someone at the ceremony. This is a nod to Roy Harper.

Thea makes reference to Chase - the League of Assassins member who posed as a DJ and with whom she had a brief romance before his death in 313.

Thea has a "no DJs" rule regarding men she dates now.

Donna Smoak says that she had made a mistake trying to drive Noah out of her and Felicity's life and admits that she does like Tom Jones.

Quentin tries to say hello to Donna. It is awkward, since she has not seen him since the start of Season 5, when he had fallen off the wagon.

Oliver refers to Evelyn Sharpe a.k.a. Artemis, who betrayed Team Arrow in 509.

Rene keeps fresh-cut sunflowers in his apartment. They are his daughter Zoe's favorite.

Dinah's mysterious texter is Vince "Vigilante" Sobel. She tells him to leave Star City and that if she sees him again, she won't let him get away a second time.

Vigilante is aware of Oliver Queen's secret identity.

Reference is made to the thermobaric bomb Cayden James made in 607.

Rene reveals that he is the one testifying against Oliver. The reason why is because Agent Watson said that she had proof that he was Wild Dog and that the only way she'd back off and let him see his daughter again is if he helped her get The Green Arrow.

Black Siren says that the Quentin Lance of Earth Two died when she was 13, killed by a drunk driven while picking up her birthday cake.

The Laurel Lance of Earth One and Earth Two share the same kind of favorite cake - yellow with chocolate frosting, from a bakery called Carlye's.

Oliver kicks Wild Dog off of Team Arrow.

Black Canary quits the team, saying she doesn't trust Oliver anymore. She calls Vigilante back, saying she'd like to try and be friends again for a start.

Curtis quits the team as well, though he is still part of Felicity's company.

Zoe is allowed to move back in with Rene.


The Bottom Line

Lackluster and nonsensical in equal measure.  "Yellow cake with chocolate frosting" will be the new "Martha" when Marvel Comics fans mock DC Comics properties. At least the wedding scenes are funny and touching.

Green Arrow #35 - A Review

With his trial on murder charges fast approaching, it would be a foolish thing for Oliver Queen to leave Seattle on a quest for sunken treasure. Yet when his mother Moira Queen - who reveals that she faked her death and is in debt to The Ninth Circle - asks for her help, he can hardly say no to raiding the wreckage of a sunken Ninth Circle base. Yet even as his enemies move to harm him on the surface, the greatest threat to Green Arrow may be closer than he thinks.



Quite honestly, the only thing keeping me going on this series is my trust in Benjamin Percy as a writer based on what came before. The idea of resurrecting Moira Queen as a villain holds no appeal for me, particularly in light of all the aspects of the Arrow TV Series that work which have been rejected for inclusion in the comics and all of the terrible things from The New 52 reality that could have been jettisoned in Rebirth but weren't. Tommy Merlyn: Assassin, anyone?

Ignoring my protestations regarding what I should and should not like to see in Green Arrow, this issue is a bit of a mess. An entire subplot is devoted to two police characters we haven't seen before, which is rendered largely meaningless by the end of the issue. And while I appreciate that Percy writes a strong, capable Black Canary, it strains credibility that she just happened to put a tracking device on Ollie just when it was needed.

At least Juan Ferreyra's artwork is as grand as ever. The posing, the colors, the use of shadows and light - all of these elements are fantastic. I just wish he'd had a better story to illustrate this time around.

The Final Analysis: 6 Out of 10. 

Batman: White Knight #3 - A Review

An organized attack by all of Batman's Rogues Gallery of enemies taxes Batman, his allies and The GCPD to the breaking point. Yet this is only the opening salvo of Jack Napier and Harleen Quinzel's plan to bring down The Bat and the rich elites and corrupt government that back him. Yet even as they plot and plan, so too dos Marian Drews - the second Harley Quinn, who wants her Joker back!



There is a theory among film fans that the ultimate goal of The Joker in The Dark Knight was the destruction of the corruption that ran Gotham City. On the surface, this seems crazy, but consider the outcome of The Joker's actions. By the end of the movie, the police department is under the control of the most honest cop in town, Jim Gordon, most of the gangsters who ran the city are dead or defunded and a dangerous vigilante who inspired numerous incompetent copycats is forced to retire.

This theory came to mind while I was considering the action of Batman: White Knight #3 and the irony that an orderly-minded, civilly-active Joker is a far greater threat to the machine that runs Gotham City that the chaotic Clown Prince of Crime ever was. He's also far better at pushing Batman over the edge and encouraging people to question authority.

What Sean Murphy is doing with this series is a miracle on every level. It is simultaneously a tribute to everything we love about Batman and yet nothing like anything we've seen before done with the character. If you aren't already reading it, you should be.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. Great story. Great art. A modern masterpiece! 

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #10 - A Review

A space station adrift. A suspicious lack of crew. A prime target for investigation, if you are The Doctor.







If you commanded a creative team to craft the most cliched Doctor Who story possible, they might come up with something close to Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #10. Granting that the series was built on certain tropes, one expects better of Richard Dinnick than the standard "starbase under siege" story. The one saving grace is that, despite the word "Angel" in the title, the story does not involve the return of played-out Weeping Angels.

The artwork by Francesco Manna is surprisingly uneven, given his excellent work on the Dejah Thoris/Irene Adler team-up series. While doing a good job of caricaturing the cast, the level of detail used in rendering the characters frequently differs in individual panels. There's also some proportion problems, with Nardole looking like a small child next to The Doctor at one point. The colors by Hi-Fi, however, are fantastic.

The Final Analysis: 4/10.  This team could and should have done better.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 9 - Beebo the God of War

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



Plot

Still shaken by the recent death of Professor Martin Stein and with the Earth-X version of Leonard Snart along for the ride, The Legends investigate an anachronism that has sprung up in the first Viking settlement in North America. When they discover a young Martin Stein is a captive of the vikings and 1992's hottest toy is their new god, Sara fears they may have to turn to The Time Bureau for help in fixing the timeline.


Influences

The movie Jingle All The Way (adults fighting over a hot new toy at the holidays), Back To The Future (a young man considers using his knowledge of the future to save the life of his dead mentor, Stein name-drops it after Jax writes a letter for him), The Grœnlendinga saga and the Eiríks Saga Rauða and the film Run, Lola, Run (Sara's plotting out how her attack on Darhk will go resembles the alternate takes of this movie)


Performances

Wentworth Miller slays as the more cheerful Leo Snart.

Franz Drameh delivers an even stronger performance here than he did dealing with Stein's death during Crisis on Earth-X.


Artistry

Kudos to the props department. The Professor Stein puppet is very well made, as is the Beeob toy.

The viking costumes are fantastic.

The segment showing The Legends plotting out their attack on "Odin" is brilliantly executed. Great choreography, clever writing. Top-notch all-around.


Trivia Of Tomorrow

The madness depicted over the Cuddle Me Beebo toy in this episode mirrors similar crazes over Cabbage Patch Dolls, Beanie Babies and the Tickle Me Elmo doll among other toys that erupted at various times.

When 1992 Martin Stein uses a toy bow and arrow set to try and reach the Beebo doll, the action theme from the show Arrow plays. The same sound effects used for an arrow being shot are also used during this sequence.

As Nate notes, The Vikings reached The Americas some 492 years before Christopher Columbus.

Lief Erikson and Freydís Eiríksdóttir were the children of Erik The Red, and would go on to establish a colony in what is today called Newfoundland in Canada as their father colonized Greenland. Lief would abandon the colony, however, and return to Greenland as a Christian and attempt to convert his kinsmen.

The historical record is vague regarding Freydis and what little we know of her comes from two surviving sagas - The Grœnlendinga Saga and the Eiríks Saga Rauða. Both depict her as a strong-willed woman, though the Eiríks Saga Rauða is far more complementary.

The Grœnlendinga Saga depicts Freydis as a greedy, conniving woman, who manipulated men in a bid for more wealth and power. It is worth noting that many Icelandic historians now believe The Grœnlendinga Saga to be Christian propaganda meant to discourage the equality between the sexes we now known to be common to Norse society in that time.

Eiríks Saga Rauða, by contrast, depicts Freydís Eiríksdóttir as worthy of the legends of the shield maidens of her era. Reportedly, a pregnant Freydis single-handedly faced down an army of Natives after a peace negotiated between her people and the Natives of Newfoundland broke. Baring her breasts and beating upon them with the flat of her sword, Freydis cursed at the attackers. Faced with a pregnant woman armed with a strange weapon shouting at them in a strange tongue, the Natives retreated, apparently not sure what was going on but certain they wanted no part of it.

The DCTVU take on Freydís Eiríksdóttir definitely seems to favor The Grœnlendinga Saga version, with this Freydis desiring to conquer The New World and twisting the words of the Beebo toy toward her agenda.

Yuletide was a mid-winter festival celebrated by The Vikings and other Germanic peoples. Many of its traditions - wreaths, trees and present-making elves - were later co-opted by Christians for Christmas.


Technobabble

Ray says that when he reduces The Waverider's coefficient of sinusoidal depleneration, it seems to inversely hyper-celerate.

Suitably strong anachronisms can create disturbances in The Temporal Zone which generate time quakes.

Skrælingjar is the Viking term for the Native Americans.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Leo is sitting at the table in what was Rip's study on The Waverider. Amaya enters.)
Amaya:
Gideon said that you wanted to see me?
Leo: Come in. Have a seat.
(Amaya sits.)
Leo: You comfortable?
(Amaya nods.)
Leo: I know The Legends lost a friend. I've been there. I want to help you guys through the grieving period.
Amaya: (surprised) Oh. That's... that's very sweet of you.
Leo: I want to give you the chance to get anything off your chest. Anything at all. What would you like to say...
(Leo holds up a puppet that looks like Martin.)
Leo:
... to Professor Martin Stein?
(Amaya is stunned. She was clearly not expecting this.)
Amaya: I- I think that everyone copes in their own ways.
Leo: (looking at the Stein puppet) It's clear The Legends are ill-equipped to cope with this at all.
Amaya: This way? This is wrong.

(Rory pounds the stuffing out of The Stein puppet.)
Leo: My goodness. You're really working out some rage issues with, uh... Professor Stein.
Rory: No, I just really hate puppets!
(Rory returns to punching the puppet.)

Guard: The four-eyed man has escaped!
Freydís Eiríksdóttir: No matter. We still have our god.
(Freydis steps forward as the Beebo toy is brought forward on a litter. She strokes its stomach.)
Beebo: (chuckling)  Beebo hungry!
Freydís Eiríksdóttir: And our god hungers for battle!
(The Vikings, save Lief Erikson, all began to chant Beebo's name as the toy chuckles.)

Ray: We could dress up as Norse gods, and order them to head back to Greenland or face our wrath!
(Nate and Sara just stare at him.)
Sara: That's a terrible idea.
Nate: Worst idea you've ever had.

Sara: Agent Sharpe. It's been a while. Thankfully.
Ava: (formally) Captain Lance.
Sara: Let me guess. You saw that there's a Level 12 anachronism and you're calling to lecture me on everything that we're doing wrong.
Ava: No. (pauses) Okay, yes.
Sara: (smugly) Hmm.
Ava: But I also heard about Martin Stein and I'm calling to express my condolences.
Sara: (taken aback) Well.. thank you. But my team and I... we have it under control.
Ava: I hope so. Because The Legends fixing a Level 12 under normal circumstances would be a Beebo Day Miracle.
Sara: ... did you just say Beebo Day?
Ava: December 25th. Beboo Day. When families exchange gifts, sing silly songs and discover that they can no longer live under the same roof?
(Ava chuckles and then her face goes serious.)
Ava: Beebo Day is part of the anachronism, isn't it?
Sara: Yeah.
Ava: Yeah.  Never felt right...
Sara: This anachronism is cementing fast. And to be honest, my team is still pretty raw from losing Stein. We could use... an outside perspective.
Ava: Are you asking for my help?
Sara: No. (pauses) Okay, yes. 
(A portal opens behind Sara as Ava steps out.)
Ava: All right. What's the plan?

(Freydis has ordered that Rory be burned alive as punishment for trying to steal. As a giant pyre is being stoked...)
Freydís Eiríksdóttir: More wood! So bright Odin can see it from Valhalla!
Rory: Is it weird that I find her hot?
Leo: Weird, but then again, not surprising.

(Damien and Nora Darhk appear in a crash of lightning, dressed in Norse god costumes)
Damien Darhk: My name is Odin, ruler of Asgard!
Sara: Damien Darhk...
Leo: You know this guy?
Sara: And his daughter.
Ray: See! I told you the Norse Gods costumes would work!

Jax: Listen... this is going to sound crazy, okay? But you need to open this letter on November 28, 2017.
(Jax hands Stein a letter. The envelope reads "Do Not Open Until November 28, 2017.")
Stein: I've seen Back To The Future, Jefferson - that mockery of time-travel that Clarissa adores. I don't suppose this letter has something to do with my future?
Jax: This letter could save your life!
Stein: Then I categorically refuse to take it!

(The vikings charge toward Odin's cabin. Suddenly, Beebo is flying before them.)
Beebo: Halt! (chuckles) It is I! Beebo! Risen from the grave!
Lief Erikson: Like Christ himself!
(Cut to inside the Beebo doll, where Ray Palmer is in his ATOM suit, making the doll fly and providing the voice.)
Ray: Yes! (spits out some of the doll's stuffing) Yes! Jesus is the one true God! Which-
(Cut to Beebo, hovering before the vikings.)
Beebo:
Doesn't mean science or evolution isn't real!
(The vikings look confused.)

(Sara is pulled from Mallus' realm by Ava)
Sara: You came back!
Ava: It's like you said. You needed me.
Sara: Well, your timing is impeccable
Ava: It's a Christmas miracle.
Sara: (closing her eyes) Yes!

Stein: I was tempted, to be sure. I thought a lot about that date. November 28, 2017. I'll be 67 then. I'll have had adventures. Watched my daughter grow up. And I'll have made a friend, who was willing to risk far, far too much for me.
Jax: No!  I - I'm trying to save you! 
Stein: You need to let me go. We both know you shouldn't be here. I may have a life ahead of me, but to you... I'm a ghost.
Jax: No, I-
Stein: I'm not going to cheat death, Jefferson. None of us live forever. And yet, I clearly live a wonderful life with many chapters. And if I had one wish, it wouldn't be for me to prolong my life but... it would be for you to live yours and to have all the happiness you deserve.
(Jax sighs, finally offering his hand to Stein.)
Jax:
Goodbye, Grey.
Stein: Goodbye, Jefferson.
(Stein takes Jax's hand and returns the shake.) 

(Sara reenters The Waverider loading dock. She's about to leave when she hears the sound of a zippo lighter being lit. A familiar, trench-coat clad figure is sitting on a crate in the corner.)
John Constantine:
It's been a long time, love.
Sara: John?
John Constantine: Now let's see... the last time we met, I saved your soul. Now there's something you can do for me.
Sara: Look, I'd love to help but your timing is terrible.
John Constantine: But this won't take long. You see, there's a demon out there. It's possessing a little girl. And that demon? He knows your name.


Continuity

Lily Stein was five years old in 1992.

Mick Rory does not like puppets.

Gideon ranks the anachronism in Newfoundland as a 12, saying that the 1-10 scale used by The Time Bureau does not do this anachronism justice.

In the revised timeline, The Vikings never abandoned their colony in Newfoundland and went on to conquer the North American continent, which they dubbed New Valhalla.

Martin Stein's favorite warm drink is Earl Grey tea with a bit of brandy.

Nate once again refers to how odd it is that The Legends keep discovering their past selves or their ancestors close to anachronisms, referring specifically to Sir Henry Stein (305), a young Ray Palmer (304) and Dick Rory (307).

The Time Bureau has rules against fraternizing with the locals while on a mission. Pretending to be members of another viking clan and giving them booze is right out.

Ava Sharpe is as good at holding her liquor as Sara.

In the newly revised timeline following the destruction of Beebo, Odin Day is now the major mid-winter festival.

The Earth-X version of Mick Rory went by Mickey. He was Leo Snart's best friend on that world, the two growing up together in The Resistance.

Rip Hunter was sentenced to prison and The Time Bureau has been in disarray ever since.

According to Ava Sharpe, Gorilla Grodd now has access to time travel technology and scores of Time Agents died trying to bring down Damien Darhk and his daughter, Nora.

Mick and Leo are able to take out Nora Darhk by crossing the streams of their respective guns.

Sara attempts to follow Damien Darhk by grabbing him as he teleports. She winds up in some other dimension, talking to Mallus. She is pulled back through a portal by Ava Sharpe. 

Sara says that she experienced a loss of sensation and lack of feeling while in the other dimension. No warmth. No love. Just a void and the only thing filling the void was Mallus.

Jax delivers a Beebo to Lily in 1992.

Stein burned the letter that Jax gave him.

Jefferson leaves The Waverider, seeking some new adventure to help him come to peace with Stein's death.

John Constantine, last see in A405, shows up to ask Sara for help fighting a demon in the final scene.


Location

Central City - Decemember 24, 1992 AD. The fifth night of Hanukkah.
Newfoundland/Vinland- 1000 AD


The Bottom Line

A powerful episode, which somehow builds on the momentum of Crisis on Earth-X and is funny without making our heroes out to be total idiots. It's an Odin's Day miracle!  Just when you think it can't get any better, John Bloody Constantine shows up. Easily a contender for one of the best episodes of the series to date.

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 9 - Don't Run

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



Plot

The Holiday season descends on STAR Labs but there's little time for celebration, even with Iris and Barry newly-married. The Thinker traps Barry in a speedster-proof prison at the same time Blacksmith abducts Caitlin in order to force her to perform some delicate surgery. With only enough time and resources to save one of them, who will Iris West choose to rescue?


Influences

Countless superhero comics built around the idea of having to choose which of two people to be saved. Doctor Who (Katie Sackhoff's performance as Blacksmith seems inspired by Michelle Gomez's Missy.) and Spider-Man 2 (the design of the tentacles on The Thinker's chair looks a lot like Doctor Octopus' tentacles)


Goofs

Barry says DeVoe sent The Samuroid after him but Barry was still in The Speed Force when the Samuroid first attacked.

As nice as the scene between Harry and Caitlin is, why is it Harry who goes after Caitlin to check on her and not the more emphatic Cisco?

The Sophie's Choice set up by this episode is incredibly contrived and ignores that Team Flash has access to resources other than STAR Labs. There's a whole other super-computer in The Bunker in Star City and two hackers capable of hijacking their own satellite to run whichever search the STAR Labs computer can't. If nothing else, Iris could call her speedster brother from Cambodia (side note: why is Wally spending Christmas there?) and ask him to check the whole city at super-speed for Caitlin.

This is made even stupider by Iris' logic in making the decision she eventually does - save Caitlin because Barry can take care of himself. Never mind that Killer Frost could also take care of herself or that if The Thinker wanted to kill Barry, he wouldn't have bothered abducting him.

Why don't Ralph and Cisco try to take down Blacksmith then and now? They already know her metal-throwing powers can't hurt Ralph and they have plenty of time for Cisco to vibe her into a cell in The Pipeline.

Why is Cecile out of town for the holidays? Her daughter is going to school in Central City.


Performances

The scene between Tom Cavanagh and Danielle Panabaker at C.C. Jitters is a nice one for all the subtle character touches, from Caitlin stiring her coffee with a candy cane to Harry's nervously looking around and trying to keep his face hidden so nobody recognizes the "supposed to be dead' Harrison Wells of Earth One.

Grant Gustin gets one nice bit of silent acting as Barry slows down time to savor looking at the picture of himself and Iris as the police storm his loft while he stands over DeVoe's body. His expression speaks volumes.


Artistry


The set design for this episode is fantastic.

The final sequence, in which the police storm Barry's apartment, is well-shot and directed.


Flash Facts


The Thinker says that Jesus of Nazareth was born in the spring - not on December 25 - and that constellation patterns will verify that after The Mechanic notes that he'll soon share a birthday with The Messiah. One team of astronomers has speculated that Jesus's birth was on June 17th - a night in which Jupiter and Venus would have aligned and appeared to have been one large star in the western sky above Bethlehem.

Ignoring astronomy, most modern theologians agree that Jesus was born in late spring or the summer. This belief is based on a passage in The Bible which says that the shepherds were in the fields with their flocks on the night Jesus was born, suggesting sometime when the nights were warm and the weather fair.

There are two DC Comics villains who have used the name Brainstorm. Apart from the shared name, they have completely different true names, origins and powers.

The first Brainstorm first appeared in Justice League of America (Vol. 1) #32 (December 1964). Axel Storm was a scientist who theorized that peak human mental stimulation coincided with periods of increased radioactive emission from certain stars. Axel made a helmet of a metal that seemed to react to this emissions and found that the helmet gave him increased intelligence as well as a variety of mental powers. These powers included mind control, telekinesis and teleportation

The first Brainstorm came to stand against the Justice League after he abducted Green Lantern, whom he blamed for the death of his criminal brother. Brainstorm plotted to have The League watch his execution of Hal Jordan. It turned out that Brainstorm had accidentally teleported his brother to France.

It's worth mentioning that the original Brainstorm had a similar origin and powers to The Thinker, with both men having acquired increased intelligence and psychic powers from a special helmet. One key difference is that Brainstorm flew around on a special golden hover-chair, similar to the one used by The DCTVU Thinker, but The Thinker in the comics did not use such a chair.

The second Brainstorm was introduced in The New 52 comics universe as an enemy of Michael Holt a.k.a. Mister Terrific. This Brainstorm was Dominic Lanse - a Silicon Valley scientist, who first appeared in Mister Terrific #2 (December 2011). Lanse was working on a project to copy human brains into a digital format, preserving the greatest minds in history after their deaths. A lab accident reversed the process, causing the intellects of these great thinkers to imprint upon Lanse's mind. He became obsessed with becoming smarter and absorbing Michael Holt's mind into his own.

The DCTVU version of Brainstorm is a man named Dominic Lanse. This Dominic Lanse was a TSA agent who worked at the Central City Airport. He was a passenger on the bus hit by the Dark Matter wave when Barry left The Speed Force. His transformation into a metahuman gave him line-of-sight telepathic abilities.

The trick Barry uses here to escape his cell - vibrating so quickly while standing still that he becomes invisible - is a classic gambit from the comics. The Flash has used it a few times to escape from cells he could not otherwise escape from. So did Green Lantern, in one episode of The Superfriends - Invasion of The Fearions - where he used his ring to bend the light around himself and his teammates so that it looked like their cell was empty. When their alien captors opened the cell to investigate what happened, they sprang into action and attacked.


Technobabble


Cisco's Christmas gift for Gypsy is a Gulga-class mech knife, forged in the unholy blood-fires of Earth-22.

The STAR Labs satellite can be used to track Caitlin by her cryokinetic energy signature or Barry by his Speed Force signature. Unfortunately, the bandwith limiters overheat trying to accomplish both tasks at once.

The injury to Dominic Lanse's head is, at best, an intricate cranial foreign body retraction. The worst case scenario, though Caitlin is not allowed to finish naming it, will require an endoscopy (i.e. using special tools to view and operate on internal organs).

If the shard in Dominic Lanse's head were to shatter, it would cause permanent motor skills impairment and brain deficits.

Harry's weapon of choice when he doesn't have to worry about blending in is an ionic sub-repeating pulse firearm.

Caitlin is able to jerry-rig an MRI.


Dialogue Triumphs


(Iris asks Barry why he doesn't use his powers to clean their apartment at super speed anymore.)
Barry: When I first got my powers, I would use any excuse to use them. It would just be me and the road and everything around me would disappear. But .. it's like the first time in my life I felt like I was really at peace. I just feel like that all the time. I don't have to run when I'm with you.

(The Thinker is struggling to button his cardigan. The Mechanic hears him sigh in frustration and enters the room.)
The Mechanic: Let me.
(She kneels by his side and takes his hands comfortingly.)
The Thinker: The atrophy of my fine motor skills is accelerating.
The Mechanic: I'm so sorry, my love
The Thinker: (smiling) Oh, the pain is but fleeting. After all, today is the day.
The Mechanic: (returning the smile) How fitting. You'll share a birthday with The Messiah.
The Thinker: (laughs) The Nazarene wasn't born until spring. You can check your constellation patterns to verify that. (pauses) Oh. You've heard this lecture before, haven't you?
The Mechanic: Maybe. But I will never grow tired of hearing your voice.
The Thinker: The words are still mine. Even if the voice isn't.

(Caitlin is sitting alone in C.C. Jitters. She is trying to avoid looking at a sign promoting a new iced coffee drink called The Killer Frost. Harry enters and sits down at her table.)
Harry: Well, it's the dark roast? The light roast? What are you having?  The self-pity roast?
Caitlin: I wish.
Harry: (sees the sign and chuckles) Oh! The Killer Frost!
Caitlin: (dead-pan) Finally got a drink. Woo-hoo. (sighs) I'm thrilled that she helped everyone fight the Reichsmen, but now it's like I can't escape her. Everybody keeps saying "Killer Frost is so funny." "Killer Frost is so bad ass!" I spent so long worried that she was going to hurt people, but now...  turns out people would rather hang out with my villainous alter-ego. 
Harry: Look, I - I get it. I know what it's like to have the evil doppelganger. But you're not like me anyway, Snow. You're different. You're.. special. And your friends would much rather be with you than with her.
Caitlin: Thanks Harry.
Harry: You're welcome.

Barry: DeVoe, if you wanted to kill me, you could have just electrocuted me on the street. So... I'm here for a reason.
The Thinker: Yes, Mr. Allen. So that I may teach you. I am, after all, first and foremost, a teacher.
Barry: Oh, God. (sighs in resignation) All right. Fine. Teach me. But first I want to make sure I'm all caught up. You sent your Samuroid after me. You arranged to pull me out of The Speed Force. You made sure that we turned all those people on that bus into metahumans. Why?
The Thinker: You see, the finer points of my agenda are not part of today's syllabus.
Barry: Oh, come on. We can squeeze it in. I'm a fast learner.
The Thinker: Please. You're about as capable of seeing the breadth of my machinations as an infant mastering multi-variable physics.
Barry: (laughing sarcastically) Wow.
The Thinker: The lesson I have prepped for today is much more simple. Life 101. There are no happy endings.

(Joe is questioning DeVoe as to where Barry is.)
The Thinker: Thinly-veiled threats aside, Mr. West, I'm afraid I have not a clue as to Barry Allen's location. I do know, however, that your colleague is located behind my front porch carrying an ionic sub-repeating pulse firearm.
(The Thinker laughs as Harry steps into view.)
The Thinker: The birdbath has a much better vantage point. A smart man would have taken a position there.
Harry: A smarter man would understand that this gun has no safety and my finger is still on the trigger.

Barry: You don't have to do this. Whatever he has planned, you don't have to help him.
The Mechanic: A helper? Is that what you think I am? A mindless minion, carrying out my master's bidding. Some kind of evil secretary?
Barry: You tell me!
The Mechanic: No, Mr. Allen. I am now and forever will be my husband's partner.

(Iris has just stopped Cisco and Ralph from fighting.)
Cisco: Whatever. I'll be in my lab.
(Cisco storms from the room.)
Ralph: And I will be in... whatever room is furthest from that.
Harry: Speed lab.
Ralph: Thank you.
Harry: You're welcome.

The entire sequence of Barry falling to his apparent death and the "flotation mode" on his suit activating just in time to slow his fall and cushion his impact with the water.

Harry: Ramon, that's not a break-up cube. You should open that when you're alone.
Cisco: No, no, no. If she's gonna break up with me, I want to hear why.
Harry: No, Ramon!
(Cisco activates the cube. A hologram of Gypsy in a sexy Mrs. Claus outfit appears.)
Gypsy Hologram: Cisco? Somebody told me you've been a very naughty boy this year. Why don't you come over and jingle my bells, huh?
Cisco: Sweet Baby Jesus!
Harry: Told you. Not a break-up cube.
(Cisco tries frantically to shut the hologram off.)
Harry: Just use the same button.
Gypsy Hologram: I promise you it's not going to be a Silent Night.
(Cisco finally shuts the cube off.)
Cisco: Joe? Do you mind if I-
Joe: (in his Dad voice) Take that to your house!
Cisco: Yeah...

Barry: If you hurt my family...
The Thinker:  I have no interest in your family. Besides, you're going to need someone to miss you while you're gone.
Barry: What did you do?
The Thinker: I merely left something for you. It's a re-gift, as it were. I don't have need for it anymore.
(Barry looks to the counter and sees the box holding the lone knife from his wedding presents. He then notes the blood spatter on the floor, which leads to Clifford DeVoe's corpse, the bloody knife next to it on the floor by the window. Suddenly, there's a knock at the door.)
Captain Singh: Allen? CCPD!  Open up in there!

(The Thinker, now in Dominic Lanse's body, approaches The Mechanic.)
The Thinker: I told you I would stand beside you.
(She takes his hand and slips his wedding ring onto it. The two kiss for a moment.)
The Mechanic:
Always.
The Thinker: Now, let's bring about The Enlightenment.
(The two get into The Mechanic's car and drive off.)


Dialogue Disasters

Blacksmith:
I blocked your Glock.


Continuity


Gypsy is working the holiday shift on Earth-19.

Cisco's Christmas gift for Gypsy is a Gulga-class mech knife, forged in the unholy blood-fires of Earth-22 by Wells 2.0.

Ralph spends every Christmas with his grandmother, who apparently has severe Alzheimer's and doesn't remember him. Ralph says it's okay because he's sure to get her inheritance.

Ralph, Harry and Cisco have apparently been hanging out with Killer Frost and have some kind of inside joke about "baking soda".

Oliver and Felicity got Barry and Iris an espresso machine. Iris notes that was not on her bridal registry and she is not at all bitter about that or the two of them getting married along with Barry and Iris.

There is one odd gift among Iris and Barry's wedding gifts - a box containing a single knife.

Barry and Iris went on honeymoon in Bali.

Barry hasn't been casually using his powers as much since getting married.

C.C. Jitters now makes a Killer Frost drink - an iced mocha.

Mick Rory gave Iris and Barry forty toasters, resulting in "a life-time supply of store credit" once they were returned. He claimed to have gotten them at a fire sale but Barry figures that he probably stole them.

Cisco has refined his powers to the point that he can Vibe people and things he is familiar with (such as his best friends) without needing to touch a relevant object.

The Thinker has found some way to block Cisco's Vibe powers.

The sixth of the bus metas is revealed to be a TSA agent named Dominic Lanse. He developed the ability to telepathically read the mind of anyone within his line of sight.

Ralph has worked a lot of missing person cases as a private investigator. One of them involved a woman who faked her death and moved to Arizona.

Blacksmith was a stewardess before The STAR Labs Particle Accelerator Explosion.

Ralph calls the STAR Labs satellite Sally. Cisco says that is not her name.

The Thinker's chair is capable of teleportation.

The "flotation mode" of Barry's new suit, first revealed in 402, is revealed to be one of the features Cisco didn't disable when Barry asked him to take all the new tech out of Barry's new costume.

Ralph decorates The West Home for the holidays.

Gypsy sends Cisco a holographic cube that he, at first, mistakes for one of the break-up cubes from 403. The message turns out to be the holographic equivalent of a sext message, with Gypsy in a sexy Mrs. Claus outfit asking Cisco to jingle her bells.

Cisco dubs Dominic "Brainstorm".

Ralph still does not have a code name.

The Mechanic was the buyer who hired The Blacksmith to retrieve Dominic Lanse.

It is revealed that The Thinker transferred his mind into Dominic Lanse's body.

Barry is framed for Clifford DeVoe's murder after DeVoe's body is found in Barry's apartment, with the lone knife that was sent to Barry and Iris as a wedding gift buried in his chest, as Barry Allen is standing over it.

The licence plate of The Mechanic's car is 6KS-257


Untelevised Adventures

Ralph mentions a case where he was hired to find a woman's missing husband. It turned out the woman had amnesia and didn't recognize the man who was living in her house as her husband. Ralph got paid twice for this job.

Wally is apparently spending Christmas in Cambodia and couldn't make it to Central City... for some reason Joe doesn't go into.


The Fridge Factor


Averted in the case of Caitlin, who manages to save herself on her own up until the point the story requires Ralph and Cisco to do something heroic.

Affirmed hard in the case of Iris, who has to be browbeat into acting like the leader she allegedly is by Harry.


The Bottom Line

Annoying on multiple levels up until the final ten minutes. The Caitlin subplot is played deadly serious but Katie Sackhoff's hammy performance as Blacksmith undermines the whole thing. Barry spends most of his time in captivity being smug and sarcastic. Iris completely falls apart until Wells - the only person on the team really doing anything for most of the episode - tells her to man up. Cisco, Harry and Ralph acts like jerks toward Caitlin but only Ralph is expected to apologize for upsetting her. The final ten minutes almost make-up for it all. Almost.

The problem is I don't think the show runners want me rooting for The DeVoes at this point but the sad truth is they are a much more sympathetic and believable couple than Barry and Iris, who spend most of the episode acting like jerks and idiots. Our "heroes" don't even have the excuse of moral high-ground since Barry and Iris have killed for far more selfish reasons than The DeVoes. Remember Zoom and Savitar? At least The DeVoes are trying to help the world in ways that don't involve punching bank robbers.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 9 - Reign

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




Plot

Kara's investigation into a mysterious symbol that keeps popping-up around National City determines that it is tied into an ancient Kryptonian prophecy.regarding The World Killer called Reign. Meanwhile, as tensions flare between Morgan Edge and Lena Luthor, James Olsen finds his relationship with Lena changing as he saves her life a second time.


Influences

The Michael Green/Mike Johnson run on Supergirl (character of Reign), The Krypton Chronicles (information on Old Krypton), The Legion of Super Heroes comics of The Silver Age and The Death of Superman (the final sequence with the defeated Kara being surrounded by a crowd.)


Goofs

The sequence of Reign attacking the gang members tries to evoke feelings of a horror movie. All it manages to do is look badly lit and poorly edited.

The fight scene between Supergirl and Reign in the office building near the end of the episode is not much better, being shot too close and lit entirely with strobe lights. What little we can see of the fight choreography is terrible.


Performances

The chemistry between Chris Wood and Melissa Benoist is as strong as ever.


Artistry


It's a subtle touch in the script, but Alex taking care to make Ruby feel comfortable at the Christmas party is a nice nod to her recent maternal desires.

The final scene, with the crowd coming around a fallen Supergirl, is the one bit of melodrama in the whole episode that honestly works.


Super Trivia

Imra says that Supergirl's example helped to inspire The Legion of the 31st Century. In the original comics, the teenagers who built The Legion of Super-Heroes were inspired by Superman's tenure as Superboy. They first appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), when Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl traveled back in time to test Superboy's worthiness to join The Legion. Their tests, which Superboy failed, turned out to be a hazing ritual of sorts and The Legion had already voted to allow Superboy membership on their team.

In the comics, Supergirl was later given membership in The Legion of Super-Heroes as well and spent some time living in the 31st Century while serving as part of the team.

Imra makes reference to "a darkness" spreading that threatens earth in the 31st Century. This is likely a reference to The Great Darkness Saga - a Legion of Super Heroes storyline widely considered to be the best Legion story of all time.

M'yrnn J'onzz compares Christmas to a Martian festival called Life Day. This leads Winn to assume he is talking about The Star Wars Holiday Special, which focused upon a similar holiday called Life Day which is celebrated by Wookies.

J'onn takes offense to the idea that he would not have seen Star Wars. Various comics in the past have hinted at J'onn being something of a film buff, having used movies and television to learn about Earth customs shortly upon his arrival on Earth. Perhaps the most famous example of this occurred in DC: The New Frontier.

Mention is made of the Krypton continent of Urrika, where life on Krypton supposedly began. Urrika was first mentioned in The Krypton Chronicles #1 (September 1981) - a mini-series which detailed the early history of Krypton.

The Juru are identified as the first people born on Krypton. In the original comics, Juru was the name of the one unexplored region of Krypton - a lost valley located on the continent of Lurvan. It was home to a race of mystics - The Wizards of Juru - who practiced their magic in secret, far away from the science-minded society of Krypton.

Imra says that she is the future equivalent of a police officer. In the original comics, Saturn Girl had trained to be a police officer before joining The Legion of Super-Heroes.


Technobabble


Samples taken from the victims of Reign's attack on the gang members confirm they were killed by heat vision.


Dialogue Triumphs


Mon-El: Strange as it may sound, the 31st Century is actually not that different from today.
Winn: What, better smart phones?
Imra: What's a phone?
Winn: "What's a phone?" Ohhh... the future is awesome!

(Having overheard M'yrnn mention Life Day, Winn wrongly assumed he was making a Star Wars reference. His attempt to explain what he is talking about does not go over well.)
Winn: Oh my God! You don't know what Star Wars is. (To J'onn) You probably don't know what Star Wars is!
J'onn: Excuse me?! The Empire Strikes Back is the best movie sequel of all time!
Winn: Man, I just love you more and more each day.
(The two chuckle.)
M'yrnn: (confused) What's a sequel?

Morgan Edge: Jimmy, I get the feeling your dislike for me is... more than just purely professional.
James: You get feelings?

(Mon-El tries to talk to Kara about the situation with her and Imra. She cuts him off.)
Kara: No, stop. Please, Mon-El. I... I see this very clearly for what it is. We're just three good people stuck in a really crappy situation. But you know what? At least two of us will get to be happy.
(Kara sighs and turns around to walk away. She stops and turns back around to face Mon-El.)
Kara: And, just for the record, Mon-El? I really am trying to be okay with this. But.... This is... (choking up) This is worse than... the worst thing I could possibly imagine and that's you looking at me with no love in your eyes. So please, just... please.


Continuity

According to Mon-El, technology in the 31st Century has advanced far beyond what 21st century Earth can imagine, yet it is still devoted towards communications, entertainment and killing other people, just like in the 21st Century.

Mon-El says that he, Irma and the rest of their team crash-landed on Earth about 12,000 years before 2017. They had planned to put themselves into cryogenic suspension and set their ship to wake them up in the 31st century but the torpedo blast in 301 woke up Mon-El early.

J'onn believes the Hall and Oates cover of Jingle Bell Rock to be the greatest Christmas song of all time.

M'yrnn J'onzz believes hot cocoa to be superior to coffee.

M'yrnn J'onnz compares Christmas to a Martian holiday called Life Day.

J'onn does know about the Star Wars movies and believes The Empire Strikes Back to be the greatest sequel of all time.

Alex refers to the events of 222 and how Supergirl caught her after she jumped off a skyscraper.

Kara recognizes the Reign symbol from a field trip to the ruins of Old Krypton.

The Reign symbol predates recorded history on Krypton. It is an example of "Low Speech", which was used by the people of Urrika - the Kryptonian continent where life began.

The first people on Krypton were a tribe called The Juru. They were matriarchal, tribal and polytheistic. In time their sun god became known as Rao and they began to worship Rao alone. Their society gave birth to the modern Kryptonian culture. 

The Ruling Council of Krypton destroyed much of the information regarding the superstitions of Old Krypton.

The first Reign symbol was burned into the grass on L-Corp property.

Lena and Morgan Edge both refer to the events of 305 and how they both tried to kill one another.

People in the 31st Century do not eat with their hands, according to Imra.

Mon-El refers to 206, when Kara first had Aldebaran rum.

Thomas Coville - the leader of The Cult of Rao from 204 - appears again, with information on the symbol that Kara is investigating.

Thomas Coville spent two years traveling the world, researching Rao but also talking to escapees from Fort Rozz. One of these was a disgraced Kryptonian priestess, who told him about the prophecies regarding an "end of days" which predated The Book of Rao. He also learned of the god before Rao - a "Lilith" made of darkness and teeth who ends everything.

The prophecy speaks of three steps leading to the End Of Days. The first is The Mark of The Beast - the symbol of the dark god showing up mysteriously. The second is The Work of The Beast in the form of many deaths. Last comes The Reign Of The Beast and this is when The Worldkiller arrives.

Samantha once got a job in Central City that required her moving in the middle of the holiday season. She and Ruby spent the night at a hotel and had dinner at a truck stop.

Samantha gives Ruby a pendant with the House of El symbol for Christmas.

Imra says that she's the future equivalent of a police officer.

Lena is attacked by a man armed with a laser gun who used to work for an expo that Morgan Edge sponsored.

Reign attacks Morgan Edge in his office. He is saved only because his panic room is lead-lined.

Morgan Edge later calls a press conference where he makes it sound like Supergirl was the one who attacked him.

Lena refers to the events of 305 and how James took a bullet to save Lena's life.

Lena and James kiss for the first time.

The episode ends with Kara in a coma after being beaten to near death by Reign.


The Bottom Line

It's telling that the best parts of the episode are the ones that have absolutely nothing to do with the main plot. As it is, I'd much rather watch Winn trying to introduce M'yrnn to the glories of Star Wars and geeking out as M'yrnn explains how the Wookie Life Day is similar to the Martian one than watch Reign a second time.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Aquaman Annual #1 - A Review

With his plans for an embassy with the surface world dead in the wake of a terrorist attack by Black Manta, Arthur Curry has begun to seek another way to unify the two worlds. Enter Crownspire - a city built between surface and sea which will, in time, house Atlanteans and humans in peace and harmony.

Flash forward to a glorious day when Crownspire is no longer a dream. When Aquaman and Mera are gladly retired from heroism. When their son is schooled alongside human children. And when an unseen enemy seeks to destroy what they have built...



Albert Einstein once said that the secret to creativity is learning how to hide your sources. This proves true of Aquaman Annual #1, which does a poor job of hiding its connection to a more famous and better written story involving a hero's perfect world. Despite this, Phillip Kennedy Johnson's story is not wholly without merit and his portrayal of the older Mera and Arthur is an engaging one.

The artwork is similarly mixed. Much of Max Fiumara's artwork seems vague and unfinished. He draws fantastic sea-creatures but his humanoid figures look alien and strange. The colors by Dave Stewart, however, are fantastic.

The Final Analysis: 5 out of 10. A serviceable but ultimately forgettable annual. 

Green Arrow Annual #1 - A Review

It's Christmas time but visions of sugar-plums dancing aren't filling the heads of the people of Seattle. Count Vertigo has come to town seeking revenge and uped his game, trapping Team Arrow and the rest of Seattle in their worst nightmares! Only Black Canary remains unaffected to save the day.



There's a lot to like about Green Arrow Annual #1. How Benjamin Percy develops a new yet wholly logical secondary super power for Black Canary. The return of Count Vertigo with a new yet logical extension of his powers.The dream and nightmare sequences, illustrated so well by Eleonora Carlini. The beautiful colors by Hi-Fi. This is one Christmas special worthy of the name.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Injustice 2 #34 - A Review

Ra's Al Ghul tests his latest weapon - T.O. Morrow's most powerful Amazo robot yet - in a remote Arizona town. As Batman and his allies sort through the rubble trying to understand the new threat they face, a new villain unlike anything Earth has ever seen is born...


In terms of story, seemingly little happens in Injustice #34. I suspect that what we see here will achieve greater significance later but it seems that the larger plots are treading water for an issue. This is fine, as Tom Taylor takes the opportunity to tell an ironically human story about a character who is not.

The art team is on-point, as-usual. Bruno Redondo's detail-driven penciling style is perfectly finished by Juan Albarran's well-applied inks. Rex Lokus proves his phenomenal skill as a colorist once again. And Wes Abbott adds a subtle touch with some distinctive and inventive lettering.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. The story is relatively sedate for this series but it's probably building to something bigger and the art is amazing.