Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 11 - Dead Or Alive

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



Plot

When a bounty hunter shows up looking for the Harrison Wells of Earth 19, Cisco must fight a duel to the death to save HR's life. Meanwhile, Iris pursues a lead on the high-tech weapons dealer who has set up shop in Central City over both Barry and Joe's objections.


Influences

The Terminator (leather-clad assassin travels across reality), Die Hard (HR parodies a line from the movie in his dream sequence while dictating his new book), Star Wars (Gypsy uses red energy as opposed to Cisco's blue energy, Gypsy's pinning Cisco over a lava flow resembles the Obi-Wan/Darth Vader duel in Revenge Of The Sith), The Fellowship of The Ring movie (Cisco quotes Arwen), This Is Spinal Tap (Gypsy says it is time to turn things up to 11.) and Geoff Johns' Vibe comics.


Goofs

If Gypsy has the power to create precise breach portals, why did she break the windows to gain entry to CC Jitters?  Why not just teleport in?

Why does Gypsy refer to her world as Earth 19?  Isn't the numbering of the Earths based on Cisco's system?  (Maybe he uncovered an official map during his travels cataloging the Earths?)

For that matter, why does Gypsy call her powers vibing when that was Cisco's term for it?


Performances

The whole ensemble does a fantastic job, however brief their roles this week.

Candice Patton finally gets to play the gusty reporter from the comics Iris West is supposed to be for a change and she gets a wonderful metatextual line about needing to be someone besides a daughter, sister or girlfriend.

It's always a nice change when Carlos Valdes gets to play serious and while there is a lot of comedy in this episode (the interactions with Gypsy are cute as hell), Valdes also gets to be an honest to goodness badass as Vibe.


Artistry

There's not a lot of complicated stunt work or complex acting to it, and yet the scene of Wally reveling in the love of his fans (i.e. the bus full of cheerleaders he just saved) and leaving behind a lighting-streaked flame-pattern on the ground after stopping to take a quick selfie with the girls fawning over him (after looking to Barry for approval, of course) is the sort of cheesy, hopeful and upbeat scene that The Flash is all about.

Not quite as upbeat but no less impressive in how everything - direction, acting, special effects, set design - comes together to form something more than the sum of its parts is the whole of Gypsy and Vibe dueling.


Flash Facts


The collector seeking HR is named Gypsy.  In the pre-New 52 DC Comics universe, Gypsy was also the code name of Cindy Reynolds - a metahuman with illusion-crafting powers as well as limited precognitive and astral-projection powers who was part of the same Justice League team as Paco "Vibe" Ramone.

In the New 52 universe, Gypsy was the codename of Cynthia Mordeth - a refugee from a parallel Earth. Here, her connection to Francisco "Vibe" Ramon was that she was on the run from the villain Rupture, who was an evil version of Vibe's older brother from her Earth.

The Gypsy from Earth 19 we see in this episode appears to have the exact same powers as Cisco Ramon but with a far greater degree of control and awareness of how to utilize her power..

Like Vibe in the New 52 universe, Gypsy is able to use her powers to negate the power of The Speed Force and stop speedsters dead in their tracks. She does this with Kid Flash.

Gypsy's costume here resembles that worn by her comic-book counterpart in Gail Simone's Birds of Prey.

There is a brief cameo by the Earth 38 version of Eve Teschmacher - James Olsen's secretary on Supergirl - when Vibe and Gypsy briefly teleport into James Olsen's office.


Technobabble


Cisco calculates that Barry must cover a certain distance in less than .21 seconds to save Iris in the future.

Julian crafts a speed timeline which charts Barry's maximum speed starting out, his current top speed, the rate of improvement across time and notes that assuming the rate of improvement is constant, there is no way Barry can become fast enough to run the required distance in less than .21 seconds before May 2017.

Gypsy has a signature move which Julian dubs "The Breach and Blast" where she jumps through a portal, disappears, reemerges from another portal and blasts the target in the back. Julia discovers that, for a split second when she exits the second portal, her feet are off the ground. This means she is off-balance and vulnerable.

Gypsy and Vibe resonate on a similar frequency.


Dialogue Triumphs

(A group of criminals look over the high-tech gun an arms dealer has assembled.)
Criminal:
Looks like Christmas came early.
The Flash: (from behind them) You know what the only problem is?  You're on Santa's naughty list. Christmas is canceled.

(HR stares down the criminals, wielding an improbably large gun.)
HR: Look who has a vortex cannon. Ho-ho-ho.
(HR laughs madly as we pull back and fade to see him sitting behind a computer at STAR Labs. The rest of the team are doing actual work as HR is talking into his recorder.)
Cisco: HR? HR?
HR (dramatically) With a blast from my trusty vortex cannon, I dispatched the miscreants!
Cisco: HR!
HR: Hey, yeah! Here we are!
Cisco: Barry needs help!
HR: Yeah! Barry needs help!
Caitlin: Where's Kid Flash?
HR: He's on his way! (quietly, into his communicator) Are you on your way? They need you at Keystone Bridge.
Julian: (curtly) Surely all your adventures are not -this- disorganized?
Cisco: (in a mock British accent) There is a method to the madness, mate.
(Caitlin smirks at Cisco.)

(Cisco knocks the stun-gun from Gypsy's hand with a vibe blast. She looks at him stunned as Caitlin runs to HR.)
Caitlin:
Where does it hurt?
HR: (wincing) Oh... everywhere.
Gypsy: You can vibe?!  (smiles) Oh, I like it.
Cisco: Slow down there. Let's just talk about this. Like two adults. Over coffee. Or maybe dinner, if you prefer that? There's a great Thai place up the road if you like Thai. I'm Cisco, by the way. You must be Gypsy. It's nice to meet you.
(As he speaks, the hand Cisco holds up defensively slowly extends and lowers as if offering to shake hands instead.)
Caitlin: Are you asking her on a date?!
HR: Are you kidding me?!
Cisco: I am negotiating!

(Barry tells Iris about HR's arrest and his wondering if HR's absence will save her in the future.)
Barry: How do we ever know if our actions now impact the future?
Iris: Yeah. You know, sometimes I wish we had normal people problems.
Barry: Yeah. That would be nice.

Cisco: (dramatically) By the laws of Earth 19,  I hereby challenge you for possession of HR Wells! (pauses) If you want, we could solve this another way. There's a great spot for drinks-
Gypsy: You realize that trial by combat is to the death?
Cisco:  Yeah! (smirking) For the loser.
(Gypsy laughs)
Cisco: Listen - you want him? You have to come and claim him.
(Gypsy just smirks and hmms.)
Cisco: (To Barry) That's Arwen!
Gypsy: I take it you also want the customary 24 hours to prepare?
Cisco (laughing) Do I want the customary-
HR: (deadpan) Yes, you do.
Cisco: I would love to take advantage of the customary 24 hours, if you don't mind?

Caitlin: So why exactly did you agree to fight her?
Cisco: I don't know...
Barry: You did what any of us would have done.
HR: I might... not have done it. Just being honest.

Iris: I want my life to mean something. More than just a daughter or as a sister or as a girlfriend, but as a reporter. This story can do that. It can stay that I, Iris West, mattered.
Wally: You know, my life was a lot easier before I had a sister?
Iris: But it's a lot better now, isn't it?

Iris: Why do you think that you're the only one allowed to risk your life to do good?!
Barry: I don't!
(Iris turns away and looks down at the model Cisco made of the future scene of her death.)
Barry: It's okay to be afraid of the future, but I won't let you die.
Iris: I am not afraid to die, Barry! I'm not!
Barry: Then what?
Iris: I'm afraid... what if I end up just like my mom? Just.. gone without making a mark? Without leaving anything behind?
Barry: Iris... your mom... she left something behind. She left a brave, wonderful son. And the woman that I love. All right?
(Barry reaches out and stroke's Iris' face, wiping away her tears.)
Barry: I don't know what the future holds. None of us do.
(Barry takes Iris' hands and kisses them.)
Barry:  I know that we will face it together.

(Eve Teschmacher watches as Vibe and Gypsy fight in James Olsen's office. Gypsy opens a portal and tosses Vibe through it while hiding behind a chair.)
Eve Teschmacher: Is it me or is this city getting weirder?

Gypsy: In all the multiverse I have... never.... met anyone like you, Cisco.
Cisco: Please. Call me Vibe. (quickly) Or... or you can call me Cisco. That's also allowed.


Continuity


Barry and Wally chase a group called The Electrical Gang in the opening scene.

HR's nickname for Julian is Bond - presumably because his British accent reminds HR of James Bond.

Iris mentions Plunder from 310 and says a new arms dealer seems to be selling high-tech weapons to the criminals in Central City.

HR has been broadcasting his stories, chapter by chapter, back to Earth 19.

Caitlin refers to Cisco's flirtation with Golden Glider back in Season One.

The punishment for unauthorized breach travel on Earth 19 is death. The reason for this is because 25 years earlier a neighboring Earth attempted to invade Earth 19  through a breach and nearly destroyed it. To prevent it from happening again, all inter-dimensional travel was banned and The Collectors were set up to enforce the law.

HR dodges the question of why he would risk his life by traveling to Earth One from Earth 19. He eventually tells Cisco that it's because he was unsatisfied with his life on Earth 19 and that despite his fame and success as a fiction writer and idea man he wanted a chance to be one of the heroes he wrote about.

Iris refers to what Barry told her about The Flashpoint Reality and how - in that reality - she and Wally were a crime-fighting team.

There are no soap operas on Earth 19. HR says it's the one thing about Earth One he'll miss the most.

HR puts mustard on his fries instead of ketchup. This may be an Earth 19 custom but it is not confirmed.

The only appeal for the crime of unauthorized breach travel is a trial by combat. Other people are allowed to fight The Collector on behalf of the accused and multiple people may challenge The Collector, fighting in the order of who issued the challenge first.

Gypsy is a legend on Earth 19, according to HR.

HR learned slight-of-hand magic from a friend and became capable enough to plant objects on people without them noticing. He uses this talent to plant a tracker on Gypsy.

Gypsy is so skilled at using her powers, she is able to grab a hold of Barry while he is running and toss him into a breach portal.

This Is Spinal Tap is one of Cisco's favorite movies.

Gypsy agrees to let HR go and tell her superiors that she killed him in exchange for HR agreeing never to return to Earth 19.

Cisco tells HR about how the first Wells (really Eobard Thawne) told him that he would be a hero one day in 123.

Wally's top speed is just below Mach 3.

Barry tells Wally that he's done the math and there's no way he can save Iris... but Wally can.


Location


Central City on Earth 2
James Olsen's office in the CatCo Worldwide Media building in National City on Earth 38.
A rocky outcropping above a lava-flow on some unknown Earth.

The Fridge Factor

Granting there's a lot of flirtation before that point, Gypsy's quick surrender once being knocked down once and offering her life to Cisco feels like the worst kind of Red Sonja-style fan-fic regarding female heroes being defeated.


The Bottom Line


A surprisingly solid and all-around fun episode. This is everything The Flash should be.

Injustice: Ground Zero #18 - A Review

With most of her gang turned upon her and out destroying Gotham on the parallel Joker's orders, Harley Quinn is in dire straits. At the same time, Cyborg struggles to commandeer the Watchtower and escape before the Tyrant Superman figures out what he's doing...


This week's Injustice: Ground Zero is an enjoyable comic. Christopher Sebela continues to build upon and around the story of the original Injustice, with his portrayal of a Harley Quinn struggling to break free of her codependency remaining the serie's high point.

The artwork is somewhat weaker this week, with Secret Six artist Tom Derenick delivering some uncharacteristically sloppy work. There's some slight inconsistencies from panel to panel, such as how low-slung Harley's pants are and how high her underwear is riding up on her hips. Still, Derenick does draw some great expressions, such as the forced smile Harley wears in dealing with The Joker that does not match her horrified eyes at all.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 27

In which we buy our first house and hit the road so that we can afford to furnish said house. We also puzzle out just what we and our new friend Sam did during our drunken night of debauchery, meet our apparent fiance, slay a dragon and are reminded once again the importance of saving early and often.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 10 - We Can Be Heroes

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




Plot

Kara's attempts to train Mon-El in heroism go awry when - while trying to recapture an escaped Livewire - Mon-El puts rescuing Kara over protecting civilians. Meanwhile, M'gann suddenly goes into a coma and James debates revealing his secret identity as The Guardian to Kara.


Influences

Star Wars (the drones in the combat training sequence resemble the one Luke used for lightsaber training) and various classic Superman comics where Jimmy Olsen tried to be a hero over Superman's objections.


Goofs

How is James able to do "one more" crime scene after getting shot in the arm? I don't care how good Winn's armor-forging skills are - James' arm has got to be hurting a bit, even if the bullet (which ripped the Guardian suit) didn't break his skin.

Alex and Maggie are a little free about discussing Kara's secret identity at the crime scene. Presumably the DEO agents know about Alex's relationship with Supergirl but what about the staff at the jail who are in the vicinity?

Kara's feelings about Livewire aside, she does have a point - how the heck DID Livewire get transferred into a regular human prison? Granting the DEO's mission statement is to deal with alien threats, that didn't stop them from being called in to investigate when Livewire escaped.

Kara's telling James he has no business trying to be a hero seems a bit hypocritical given that - in last week's episode - she was rallying a bunch of ordinary humans to fight back against heavily armed alien slavers who seemed to be stronger than ordinary humans. And because Kara walked into a slaver's camp without any superpowers because it was the right thing to do. And because Kara works with several ordinary humans - her sister among them - who routinely go after alien menaces and criminals. (It's likely Kara's objections come from her repressed love for James and not wanting to see him hurt.)

The slow-motion fight between the Livewire knock-offs and our heroes looks silly as all get-out.

For that matter, why are the Livewire knock-offs just running around punching everyone instead of electrocuting them?


Performances


The chemistry between Melissa Benosit and Chris Wood continues to impress.

Mehcad Brooks gives a powerful performance when James stands up to Supergirl.

The strongest performance of the episode, however, goes to David Harewood as J'onn confronts his own prejudices to try and be a better person and - in doing so - proves himself a hero, though that is the last thing on his mind.


Artistry


Good effects work and direction on the sequences where J'onn goes into M'Gann's mind.

A solid script with a lot of great character moments.


Super Trivia


The episode title comes from a lyric in the David Bowie song, Heroes.

The yellow-tinted sunglasses Mon-El wears as part of his costume resemble those worn by the 1990s Superboy.

Lisa Gold - the female Livewire knock-off was played by actress, stuntwoman, American Ninja Warrior champion and fanatical Supergirl fan Jessie Graff.


Technobabble


Alex checks for the heat signature of an invisible being when watching the security tapes of M'gann's cell.

Martian biology is usually intertwined with psychic phenomena. This means that a telepathic attack can bring about brain death in a Martian, despite the body being in otherwise perfect physical condition.

Winn claims to have trouble billineating Livewire's energy from other wavelengths when asked to track her.


Dialogue Triumphs


(Kara and Mon-El have just finished a round in the DEO combat simulation room.)
Kara: Uh - Mon-El?
Mon-El: Yeah?
(Kara points to one of the cardboard cut-out civilians - a little girl whose head was knocked off.)
Mon-El: Mistakes were made. But it's our fewest cardboard fatalities yet!

Livewire: Do you know what power is, Freud? It's the feeling of somebody's life in your hands. Every atom in you just burns electric. It's like kissing a frayed wire. You know what that power makes me? A bad guy? Evil? It makes me a god!

Winn: (in the style of a professional wrestling announcer) Lady and gentlemen, the one, the only Livewire! Who knows what havoc she will wreak when she resurfaces?! Maybe she'll turn all of her girlfriends evil again?! I don't know! We're talking about full on rats in the attic here, people! Except the rats are electrified and the attic is on fire! Behold, ye mighty, and despair!

(Alex is asking J'onn to use his telepathy to see what is going on in M'gann's head.)
Alex: You have shown them mercy before-
J'onn: Not this! I will not give her my people's memories. I will not give her my daughter's smiles! Her kind has taken enough from me. From us! If she dies, she dies. She deserves it a thousand times over! Let her drown in her own sins!

(Kara walks into the med bay. She walks to the far side of the room before turning to face James, Winn, Alex and Mon-El.)
Kara: It's a cool suit.
(James just looks at her.)
Kara: (To Winn) Yours?
(Winn nods silently.)
James: ... I was... going to tell you.
Winn: I told him to tell you last night.
Alex: I told you both weeks ago.
Kara: You all knew?!
Mon-El: Um, I didn't! I thought James was a professionally handsome desk person.

Kara: I am calm. I am going to listen to you. I owe you that much. But you need to tell me why.
James: Because that thing that you feel...that thing that makes you want to make everything better? I feel that too. And I always have. And I have tried so many different ways in my life to help people. Whether it's career or friendship. But it's just not enough. But this is. Now, look... I was never meant to be in Superman's shadow. Or yours. I am more me as Guardian than I've ever felt as James Olsen. Kara, we are the same-
Kara: No. We are not the same. You are a human. You are going to get yourself killed. One mistake - one human error - and you're gone! That's it! You don't get a strike, James! Not like me! Not like-
James: Mon-El?
Kara: Yes!
James: Are you serious?! You saw him! He left civilians unprotected at that fight, which I had to go back for!
Kara: Mon-El is still learning-
James: At what cost, Kara?!  There was a cop that took a lighting bolt because "Mon-El is still learning." Okay?! He cares about himself, he cares about you and that's what he fights for!
Kara: He can change! You can't! You are never going to be strong enough for this!
James: (cooly) You do not get to decide who is a hero. And who are you to tell me how to be? Or who to be? I am meant for this.
Kara: If you don't stop, I'll stop you.
James: You're welcome to try.

J'onn: Hate becomes your reason for living when you've lost everything that you love. If I find that there was some good in their kind... I don't hate her.
Alex: Forgiveness isn't something that you give to somebody who has hurt you. Forgiveness is something you give to yourself.

(Mon-El dashes through a window at super-speed and knocks down the two Livewire knock-offs.)
Livewire: Who the hell are you supposed to be?
Mon-El: Uh. The other Superman... in training.
Livewire: Your cosplay sucks.
Mon-El: .. that's not nice.

(And finally - possibly the most meta moment in the series to date.)
James: I don't want to be the guy at the office anymore.
Winn: Yeah, and I don't want to just be stuck behind a computer.


Dialogue Disasters


Livewire: This is copyright infringement, asshat. I'm going to sue you. And then... I'm going to murder you.
Mad Scientist: Such a nasty woman.


Continuity


The Guardian suit is not entirely bulletproof.

M'gann was last seen in 207.

M'gann is kept in Containment Cell 19.

M'gann is capable of emitting a yell that can break reinforced glass.

Livewire last appeared in 118.

Maggie Sawyer is a vegan.

The female inmate who esacped with Livewire is named Lisa Gold.

Livewire's profile with the DEO describes the events of her previous appearances, notes her affiliation with Silver Banshee and the fact that water shorts out her powers.

Kara considers Livewire to be her nemesis.

Kara discovers James' secret identity after he is knocked out while saving a police officer from a stray electrical blast that Mon-El accidentally redirected at the cop.

Alex refers to the events of 206 and M'Gann donating her blood to save J'onn despite knowing it would reveal her secret identity as a White Martian.

Kara refers to Mon-El kissing her while delirious in 208.

Livewire is still at large as the episode ends.

J'onn frees M'gann.

M'gann says the rest of the White Martian race are still alive and they now know where she is.


The Bottom Line


A surprisingly solid hour of entertainment despite its flaws. The villains are strictly one note, with half of them not having names and Brit Morgan phoning it in as Livewire this time around. The script does Kara a disservice, making her suddenly dismissive of James' ability to be a hero despite her working alongside other ordinary human DEO agents and trying to be a hero without powers herself in last week's episode! And yet, the ensemble cast make all of this work and the good bits of the show - particularly the bits with J'onn and James' standing up to Kara - knock it out of the park.

Starman Plays The Pandora Directive (Mission Street) - Part 1

In which, having gotten a case, we set off down the road of virtue (aka Mission Street). We start off by asking Chelsee for a date in a gentlemanly fashion and paying our sleazy landlord far more respect (and money) than he deserves.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Two #14 - An Advanced Review/Preview







I can't really say a lot about the latest Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor issue without giving away the game. As you can guess from the preview above, there's a bit of metatextual humor at play but Robbie Morrison's script goes beyond this loving parody to tell a story with heart. That story is brought to life with equal care by Rachael Stott's stunning artwork and Rod Fernandes' colors. If you haven't been reading the comic-book adventures of The Doctor, this is a great issue to start with.

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Two #14 releases February 1, 2017. 
Ask for it at your local comic shop or purchase it on Comixology.com.

Pathfinder: Worldscape #4 - A Review

Merisiel had a shady past but reformed (somewhat) and used her skills as a thief to aid her allies in exploring the wonders of Golarion. It was a surprise then when her allies learned that Merisiel was part of the villainous council that ruled the city of Shareen, which lay at the heart of the prison dimension known as The Worldscape. Here now is the untold tale of how Merisiel found herself fighting alongside the dark wizard Kulan Gath, the sky-pirate Phondari and the Empress Camilla!


The plot thickens in this time-twisted issue of Pathfinder: Worldscape, though the actual story doesn't advance much. Despite this, the story at hand is a wonderful character study of Merisiel. And the artwork by Jonathan Lau and Omi Remalante continues to impress.

The Flash #15 - A Review

The Rogues have been in hiding for quite a while, which can't mean anything good. The Flash uncovered plans indicating they went to the island of Corto Maltese to steal a golden statue of the god Mercury. Even though it isn't Central City, The Flash isn't about to let them get away with it but have the ol' gang learned some new tricks?


Joshua Williamson spins a masterful heist story, showing a strong grasp of the individual Rogues as characters. Unfortunately, the sloppiness that has plagued Carmine Di Giandomenico's pencils in recent issues continues to be a problem. It's infrequent enough not to distract from the story completely but this issue seems rushed rather than fast-paced.

Future Quest #9 - A Review

I fear there's little point in my reviewing Future Quest at this point. Either you'll be enraptured by the simple beauty of the concept or it just won't click for you. There is no middle ground.


What Jeff Parker has done with this series - molding various Hanna-Barbera cartoons into a cohesive shared universe - is nothing short of genius. The all-star art teams that have worked on this book have risen to the occasion in depicting even the silliest of these characters with a degree of gravitas that proves epic in scope. Despite being born of the same impulses that inspire young children to mix their toys to tell a story, Future Quest is a modern masterpiece of the graphic literature medium.

Detective Comics #949 - A Review

Trapped in The Belfry with the finest soldier the covert military group The Colony has ever trained, Kate Kane will find herself tested as never before. Can Batwoman best her father's greatest one-man-weapon?


This book hardly needed a two-part storyline to showcase how awesome Kate Kane is as a character. Still, this issue doses a fine job of setting up the upcoming Batwoman title by writers James Tyion IV and Marguerite Bennett while still being a brilliant story on its own terms. The artwork this month was produced by a team of two artists and three colorists but the styles blend together so seamlessly you'd never know it. Most enjoyable.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Buck Hates RPGs - A Man Vs. Rock Experience - Part 3 (NSFW)

Will Buck Stone survive the perils of the Secret Scientology Celebrity Crack House?! Will he escape the RPG world?!  Will he pay a clown five Cuban pesos for a blowjob and ass-rape the RPG Fairy?!

...

(SPOILER: Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.)




Thursday, January 26, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 26

In which we set out to liberate a gold mine from the Forsworn, only to realize we went to the wrong mine.  We then head east from Markarth toward Rorikstead and meet one of The Elder Scrolls' most elusive Easter Eggs - M'aiq The Liar!


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 10 - Who Are You?

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


Plot

Worried that Prometheus's accusations of hum being nothing but a common killer might be true, Oliver finds a single ray of hope in the apparent resurrection of Laurel Lance. Felicity is not so optimistic, being out for blood in the wake of the murder of her boyfriend, Billy Malone and skeptical of any apparent miracles in the face of her own loss. Meanwhile Diggle must face a new threat to his life and Curtis has a crisis of faith regarding his status as Mister Terrific.


Influences

The Green Arrow comics of Judd Winick (storyline with a doppelganger trying to throw Team Arrow into chaos) and The Princess Bride (Prometheus, a man in black, has built up an immunity to the drug Green Arrow tries using on him.)


Goofs

Ignoring the issues with getting past the security in STAR Labs in the first place (it's practically a running gag on The Flash how easily people are able to get into the building), just how the heck did Prometheus find out that Black Siren existed in the first place?

With all the secret information Prometheus was able to gather in order to make Black Siren pose as Laurel (i.e. The Legends, The Waverider, etc.) he somehow overlooked details like her being a recovering alcoholic?  (Her being fired for drug abuse back in Season 2 was a matter of public record and she attended AA meetings.)

Why doesn't Prometheus just kill Black Siren after she exposes herself when his whole master-plan is based around making Oliver suffer?  The murderous metahuman is nothing but a liability at that point - not that making use of her made much sense to begin with.

Oliver talks about how Black Siren lost her family, yet no mention of this was made in the episode. (A deleted scene?)


Performances

Emily Bett Rickards is the episode MVP.  She gets some nice non-verbal acting in, with Felicity's subtle reactions to recovering alcoholic Laurel not blinking at being served booze at the party. She also gets a chance to show the steely side of Felicity that we see so rarely, when she confronts Black Siren on her con-game.

Rick Gonzales runs a close second, however, showing more development as Rene Ramirez, ironically enough, playing opposite Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt has his first big breakthrough in turning Mister Terrific into a technology-focused hero rather than a physical combatant. We see the wise side of Wild Dog here and it is a welcome thing after so many episodes where he was the generic hot-tempered teammate.


Artistry

The twisted music used during the fight between Green Arrow and Prometheus is rather nice.



Trivia

Felicity makes a reference to her Q-mail account.  In the New 52 DC Comics Universe, Queen Industries was an Apple-style technologies firm which sold Q-phones.

Rory compares Prometheus to a dybbuk.  In Hebrew mythology, a dybbuk is a vengeful spirit capable of possessing others. They are believed to be the dislocated souls of dead people.

Wild Dog refers to Black Siren as "Trinity". This is a reference to the heroine of The Matrix Trilogy, who also wore a lot of black leather and long-coats.

The Bratva boss who tortures Oliver is named Ishmael Gregor. In the original DC Comics, Ishamel Gregor was a Russian gangster who took on the identity of the demonic supervillain Sabbac.

In the flashback, Oliver is saved from the corrupt Bratva by a woman who introduces herself as Talia. This is Talia Al Ghul - daughter of Ra's Al Ghul, in the comics, where she was a love interest of Bruce Wayne, occasional leader of the League of Assassins and the mother of Damian Wayne. She does not give her surname during the brief appearance we see here but we did see her as a young girl in L109.


Technobabble

There is a technical difference between an alternate reality and a parallel universe, according to Curtis.

Felicity laces Black Siren's water with tracking nanites - the same ones in Oliver's tracking arrow, which he used to follow Malcolm Merlyn in 304 and used to follow Anarky to Damien Darhk in 410.

Black Siren's cry works on a more powerful frequency than Black Canary's mechanical cry.

Curtis tries to build a portable power dampener to use against Black Siren.

The dart Green Arrow uses on Prometheus is treated with Diazepam - a drug used for treating anxiety disorders and muscle-spasms. The drug can be used as a mild sedative.


Dialogue Triumphs

Rory: I guess spontaneous resurrection is as good as any reason for a party....
Felicity: ... but?
Rory: But, we haven't even buried Detective Malone yet.
Felicity: It feels weird to be celebrating?
Rory: It doesn't feel weird to you?!
Felicity: Yes- Weird. Yeah. Weird or... I guess.... after the past four years, it's just hard for me to accept good news.

Rene: Weird, man! She was dead. Now she's not.
Oliver: That's time travel for you.
Rene: Well, I don't mean Laurel being back is what's weird. It's how you're all reacting to it, like it's happened before.
(Oliver just stares at Rene mutely.)
Rene: It's happened before?!
Oliver: (sighs) The Lance sisters have a habit of coming back to life.
Rene: ... wait, what?!

(Felicity explains that the party for Laurel was just a ruse to get a DNA sample.)
Rory: You know, there's looking a gift horse in the mouth, and then there's-
Felicity: - being driven by paranoid delusions, drawing comparisons on genetic base pairs? Yes, I'm aware. Thank you.

Oliver: Someone once told me that a circumstance could make something poison or nectar. What they meant was that we get to choose what we are. We get to choose who we are. So tell me... who are you?

Felicity: Oliver seems to think that because you look like Laurel that you can become her.
Black Siren: And what do you think?
Felicity: I think...you should get used to living in cages. There's a part of him that blames himself for Laurel's death. It's who he is. So when he looks at you, he doesn't just see Laurel. He sees a shot at redemption.
Black Siren: Wow. It must be really frustrating... that he doesn't listen to you.
Felicity: Oh, I'm used to it.

(Curtis describes his idea of building a portable power dampener to fight Black Siren.)
Rene: That's awesome!
Curtis: Yeah, well - ideas are one thing. Executing them is another.
Rene: You don't get it, do you?
Curtis: Get what?
Rene: That maybe instead of beating yourself up about what you can't do, take a moment and appreciate what you can do. Because it's pretty bad ass.

(As Black Siren's powers fail, she turns to see Mister Terrific holding up a small radial dish.)
Mister Terrific:
You really need to shut your damn mouth!


(Two bikers play pool in a biker bar. A waitress walks up. A woman is sitting at the bar behind them.)
Waitress: You boys want another round?
Biker 1: No, I was thinking of ordering something that's ah... not on the menu, huh?
(The first biker steps in close and tries stroking the waitress' hair. She turns around and runs into the second biker.  The two close around her.) 
Biker 2:  Hey, where you going, baby?
Woman: Seriously, could you two be any more of a cliche?
Biker 2: Oh, don't worry, sweetheart. There's plenty of me to go around.
Woman: (still looking behind the bar, not turning to face them.) I thought people like you only existed in the movies. You know? Two guys trying to overcompensate for their lack of manhood by taking it out on a defenseless woman?
Biker 1: What are you gonna do about it?
(Close-up on the woman's face. She smiles a close-lipped smile.)
(Cut to outside the bar. The glass windows suddenly explode outward, as a piercing cry is heard and the two bikers are thrown out through the windows. The woman steps forward to inspect her handiwork.)
Woman: That.


Continuity

"Laurel" claims that she was teleported onto The Waverider by Sara Lance as she was dying and the advanced technology there was used to heal the embolism that killed her in 418. She then asked to be brought back to Ollie's present.

Rory says he doesn't sleep much - or at all - ever since he became Ragman.

"Laurel" turns out to be Black Siren - the Laurel Lance of Earth Two - last seen in F222.

The statue of Black Canary is destroyed during the fight with Black Siren.

The Attorney General in the DCTVU is a woman, as is The President.

Prometheus has built up a tolerance for Diazepam.

Black Siren is transferred into a secure ARGUS lock-up.

In the flashbacks, Oliver is saved by Talia Al Ghul.

The final scene shows an unnamed woman, who easily defeats two bikers showing unwanted attention to a biker bar waitress with a sonic cry.


Untelevised Adventures

Cisco Ramon apparently told Felicity about the battle with Black Siren in F222.and how she was being held in STAR Labs' pipeline at some point in the past.


The Fridge Factor

Black Siren is still an incompetent villain any way you slice it.


The Winick Factor

Pretty much the entire team has to be nerfed and Ollie's characteristic paranoid put aside for an episode in order for Black Siren to be any kind of threat.


The Bottom Line

A mixed bag. Even with a script that seems to have been written to her strengths as an actress, Katie Cassidy still overplays her part as Black Siren, once again coming off as a parody of Killer Frost. Despite this - and Prometheus' plan to utilize Black Siren not making a bit of sense even ignoring how the heck he found out about her in the first place (which the show does) - there's a lot here that works, despite the weakness of the script. Putting Curtis on the path to becoming the tech-based hero that Mister Terrific is in the comics is a good start and the scenes with him and Wild Dog do a lot to develop his character as well. Stephen Amell manages to sell Ollie's uncharacteristic optimism here and Emily Bett Rickards is on fire playing the more cunning and proactive Felicity. And after an entire episode devoted to showing everything Black Canary isn't, the final minute of the episode shows us everything Black Canary should be.

Buck Hates RPGs - A Man Vs. Rock Experience - Part 2 (NSFW)

After a brief divergence to go back and click on all the things I forgot to click on in the first video,  we restore our game, explore a quaint little village, experience more shame than usual trying to have sex with a sexy bunny girl and plum the depths of Valt Dizney's Ice Dungeon/Princess Harem!


Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2, Episode 9 - Raiders Of The Lost Art

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




Plot

When Merlyn, Darhk and Thawne move to abduct a time-drifted Rip Hunter - who currently believes himself to be a film student in 1967- it creates an Aberration big enough to attract the attention of The Legends... and disrupt Ray and Nathan's lives. As the rest of the team move to rescue Rip and recover The Spear of Destiny that somehow wound up in his hands, Mick Rory asks Professor Stein for a private favor.


Influences

The films of George Lucas, particularly Raiders Of The Lost Ark (the title, name-dropped by Nate, Sara says the story of Longinus sounds like it came from an Indiana Jones movie.) and Star Wars (Ray says he'll channel his inner Han Solo to pilot The Waverider, the team's escape on The Waverider while Darkh and Merlyn shoot at them with laser pistols, the team being dropped into a garbage disposal death-trap)


Goofs

Given Sara was resurrected by something called The Lazarus Pit, you'd expect her to be the least skeptical person when it comes to a story involving mystic artifacts with magical healing properties!

Ray and Nate's memory loss based on the effects of the aberration caused by George Lucas quitting film-making occur far faster than any previous changes to the time-line in any other episode. Stein erasing his marriage from history, for instance, did not cause him to instantly lose all his memories of his marriage!

The only thing faster than Ray and Nate's being changed by George Lucas quitting film-making is how quickly they're returned to normal after George Lucas voices his desire to direct out-loud.


Performances

Arthur Darvill turns in a great performance here as Phil Gasner, seemingly like an entirely different actor - never mind another character!

It's understated, but there's quite a few good bonding scenes here between Sara and Jax - more than in any previous episode - and Caity Lotz and Franz Drameh play them beautifully.


Artistry

There are some subtle visual tributes to the direction of George Lucas throughout the episode. One of the better ones is Darhk and Merlyn standing on the elevator, mirroring Han and Luke in Star Wars.



Trivia Of Tomorrow

The title is a nod to the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. The plot is also similar, involving the hunt for a holy artifact (The Spear of Destiny vs. The Ark of the Covenant).

The opening narration is done by Profesor Stein.

Nate refers to Merlyn, Darhk and Thawne collectively as The Legion of Doom. He says the name came from an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon. This is a nod to Challenge of The Super-Friends, where the villainous team led by Lex Luthor was The Legion of Doom.

Longinus is the name of the Centurion said to have been responsible for piercing the side of Jesus Christ with his spear during The Crucifixion. Not mentioned in the Biblical Gospels, the first record of his story and name are found in several books of The Apocrypha.

Also referred to as The Holy Lance, Holy Spear, Lance Of Longinus and Spear of Longinus, The Spear of Destiny is the spear that was used to pierce the side of Jesus Christ during the crucifixion. Many holy sites claim to have the Spear of Destiny in the real world and a number of legends - comparable to those regarding The Holy Grail - have sprung up around the spear and it's mystic powers. One of the more popular legends is that Adolf Hitler was obsessed with the spear and started World War II in an effort to reclaim it.

In the DC Comics Universe, this was literally true and Hitler's possession of the spear prevented the Allies-aligned superheroes from being able to take action against him, due to the spear's power giving Hitler the ability to control the mind of anyone who stood against him.

Ray and Nate, despite their love of George Lucas movies, both object to watching Howard The Duck. Not only is this a jab at George Lucas' most infamous bomb but it's also a nod to the fact that the movie was based on a Marvel Comic series. (Nate and Ray are loyal company men, after all.)


Technobabble

Nate carbon-dated the amulet Sara took from Darhk in 1987. Gideon put its date of origin at around 30 AD.

The amulet contained high concentrations of copper, manganese and zinc - all the ingredients of bronze.

Roman Centurions used bronze for most of their metalwork circa 30 AD.

The Longinus Medallion acts as a compass to The Spear of Destiny.

There is a difference between altering time and altering reality, according to Nate. Changes to reality are permanent whereas changes to the time can be altered and reset. This makes The Spear of Destiny far more dangerous than even a rogue speedster time-traveling.

Cal DeVito was suppose to event a new carburetor for shovel-head motorcycles, before he was killed by Darkh and Merlyn.

DeVito and his friend were killed by sezuki strikes to the xiphoid processes - a close-quarters killing technique used by The League of Assassins.

Jax says it wouldn't have been possible for Rip to use The Waverider's emergency protocols to randomly teleport himself after using them to send the rest of the team away.

Rip Hunter's neural architecture was completely restructured, his limbic system reprogrammed with a new identity.  This is a different phenomena than time drift, requiring technology that doesn't exist.

Ray suggests that Rip's brain could have been altered by impulses coming from the ship's time drive. This "temporal electrocution" as Stein calls it, would be near suicidal as a method of time-travel.

Stein detects a receiver that is sensitive to gravitation-wave transmissions implanted inside of Rory's head. In short, there's an antenna in his head.

Stein theorizes that when Snart was killed by a blast of temporal energy, he might have bonded with the blast and the version of him that Rory is seeing is effectively a "time ghost".

A McGuffin is the generic term for the thing in a movie that everyone is trying to get.

Cognitive dissonance is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.


Dialogue Triumphs

Merlyn: When we're done here, we need to go to the 1600 block of Vine Street.
Darhk: Why, pray tell?
Merlyn: It's where Frank Sinatra's star is on the Walk of Fame. I have always wanted to see it.
Darhk: I'm not sure if that's part of our little trinket's itinerary.
Merlyn: I said "when we're done". As far as magical artifacts go, this one is frustratingly unspecific.
Darhk: Actually, like most magical artifacts, its ways are nuanced.
Merlyn: That's just a fancy word for vague.

Sara: They must be getting closer to The Holy Lance.
Nate: I'm leaning toward Spear of Destiny.
Sara: I prefer Holy Lance.
Nate: Can't imagine why.

(Gideon has just explained what effect the loss of George Lucas' movies had on Ray and Nate.)
Sara:
Wait - so you're telling me that because some film geek drops out of school, my inventor and my historian are now essential useless?
Nate: Yes.
Ray: Hey!

(Sara and Jax turn the corner into the med bay. They find Stein, scalpel in hand, standing over an unconscious Rory.)
Sara: What do you think you're doing?
Stein: Brain surgery. What does it look like?
(Sara and Jax just turn around and walk out of the med bay.)

(The Reverse Flash arrives and knocks down all The Legends, pulling Merlyn and Darkh from the middle of the rapidly turning fight.)
Merlyn: About time you showed.
Darhk: Where were you?
Thawne: Always busy, gentlemen, and yet never late. So... who do we kill first?

Jax: Look. Sara... you can't beat yourself up about this.
Sara: It was my responsibility as Captain to make sure that everyone gets back on this ship. Everyone. And I failed...
Jax: You call getting a piece of the Spear of Destiny and the medallion a failure? The Legion have nothing!
Sara: They have Rip! We lost him, Jax. Again!
Jax: But they won't have him for long. If I know one thing about you, it's that you don't give up. When you really want something, you are unstoppable, and God help anybody that tries to get in your way. We are going to find him. And we are going to bring him home.
Sara: Is that a promise?
Jax: That's a prophecy.



Dialogue Disasters

Sara: Hey, hold on - this all sounds like an Indiana Jones movie.

George Lucas: What I really want... is to direct!


Continuity

"Shogun Ballistic" is the shutdown code for Gideon's primary systems.

Stein learns about Rory's hallucinations of Snart, which began in 208.

Nate listens to rap music to help himself concentrate.

Together, the two amulets Thawne sought form one artifact called The Longinus Medallion.

Jax regularly attended Sunday School and knows the story of Longinus from memory - how his sight was restored by the blood of Christ and his medallion and spear were empowered.

Nate became a historian because of the movie Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

The film Rip is working on in 1967 is called Legends, stars a hero called Rip Hunter and has a villain clearly modeled on Vandal Savage.

Ray refers to Time Drift - the psychological condition where a time-traveler spends too long in an alien time-period, losing all sense of self and memory of who they were - first encountered in 109. He suggests that might explain for Rip's apparent amnesia.

Rip's alias in 1967 is Phillip Gasmer.  George Lucas is the prop master on his film school thesis project.

In the altered timeline, the attack on Phil Gasmer's set causes George Lucas to quit film school. This indirectly causes Ray and Nate to lose all their professional training, as Lucas' films inspired them to their respective careers. Instead, Nate becomes a yoga instructor and Ray becomes a heart surgeon.

Rory remembers having an implant put in his brain by The Time Masters during his time as Chronos.

Phil's movie script tells the story of The Legends. Jax is a character named Max and Sara is a woman named Sandra. It also talks about The Spear of Destiny.

It turns out that what Rip had was a fragment of The Spear of Destiny.

Thawne abducts Rip Hunter before The Legends can get away with him.

Sara recovers the piece of The Spear of Destiny and The Longinus Medallion.

Stein is able to remove the transmitter from Rory's brain but discovers it wasn't working.


Location

New York - Six Months Ago (relative time)
Los Angeles - 1967


The Crisis Factor

The episode seems to break the series' rules regarding the effects of changes to the time line for the sake of comedic effect.


The Bottom Line

A weak script based around a weak idea that is saved only by the strength of the ensemble's performances. Merlyn and Darhk are reduced to the role of laser gun-totting thugs and the rules of how quickly aberrations affect people are tossed out the window for the sake of some cheap jokes. It's telling that the best bits are the dialogues between two characters independent of the central plot.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 10 - Borrowing Problems From The Future

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



Plot

Tormented by nightmares of the future where Iris is killed by Savitar, Barry has hesitated in bringing a new villain named Plunder to justice, remembering that villain's trial as part of the future he wants to prevent. As Wally West steps in to do what Barry won't, Caitlin Snow asks Julian Albert to help her remove her powers and offers him a job at STAR Labs.


Influences

The Flash: Terminal Velocity by Mark Waid (the plot centers around The Flash returning from the future and training a new speedster while working to avert the prophesied death of the love of his life.), The Flash comics of Geoff Johns (presence of Plunder) and the movie Back To The Future (Cisco name-drops it, refers to Barry as McFly, and the general plot involving using time-travel to prevent a death in the future).


Goofs

Given that Barry knows for a fact that past time is not unchangeable (and indeed spent the better part of the last six months suffering because of that fact), it seems odd that he'd question the ability of future time to be altered.  This is particularly maddening given his friendship with a group of time-travelers who averted a future timeline. (Maybe The Legends didn't tell Barry the details of what happened at Vanishing Point when Captain Cold died?)

Given how much withholding information has come back to bite the team in the ass, withholding information from Joe about what the rest of the team is working on re: stopping Iris's death and Caitlin's becoming a super-villain seems incredibly stupid.

That mob cheering "Kid Flash" sure showed up all of a sudden, didn't they?


Performances


This episode contains Grant Gustin's and Candice Patton's best scenes together since Barry and Iris became a couple. These run second, however, to the strange chemistry brewing between Tom Felton and Danielle Panabaker. And Panabaker herself steals the episode with her speech begging the rest of the team to let Julian join them for her sake.


Artistry


The special effects and stunt work for the sequence in which The Flash and Kid Flash chase Plunder are some of the best this show has ever seen.


Flash Facts


The episode opens with an entirely new narration from Barry, relating the events of 309 and how his new goal is stopping Iris from being killed by Savitar.

While insulting Kid Flash, Detective Patterson suggests sending him to Keystone City because Central City already has a Flash. In the original comics, while protecting both cities after Barry Allen's death, Wally West did settle in Keystone City.

In the original comics, Plunder was an assassin whose real name was Jared Morillo. Strangely enough - given the frequency of alternate-universe doppelgangers on this show - Plunder was an alternate Earth doppelganger of a friend of Wally West's, who was an honest cop in the Central City Police Department during Geoff Johns' run on The Flash. Plunder had no powers, but was an expert marksman and tracker.

The DCTVU version of Plunder is a jewel thief, an advanced gun and an eye-patch. This, coupled with a scruffy appearance, inspires comparison to a pirate and leads HR to give him the name Plunder.

HR claims to have written a novel called The Future Ain't What It Used To Be.  This phrase is often attributed to baseball star Yogi Berra and was the title of a song by Meatloaf.  The original saying "The future is not what it used to be." seems to have come from a 1937 journal called Epilogue and was in an article titled From a Private Correspondence on Reality by Laura Riding and Robert Graves.

Mention is made in the future news-scroll of someone called The Music Meister getting a six-figure book deal. The Music Meister was a telepathic super-villain created for the animated-series Batman: The Brave And The Bold who used his powers to make people around him spontaneously start singing and dancing as if they were in a musical. It has been revealed that a future episode of The Flash will be a musical special, crossing over with Supergirl, with The Music Meister as the main villain.

HR gives Barry and Iris a pet turtle named McSnurtle as a house-warming present.  McSnurtle The Turtle was the secret identity of The Terrific Whatzit - an animal speedster superhero from the Golden Age who dressed like the Jay Garrick Flash.


Technobabble


Soot gathered around the outside of a door indicates that the fire behind the door has no ventilation. Opening the door in this situation will cause a sudden inrush of oxygen and trigger an explosion. Barry and Wally are able to circumvent this by generating a miniature cyclone that creates an focused exit point for the heat and smoke while draining the oxygen keeping the fire alight.

Julian Albert is revealed to be taking Zolpidem - a sedative used for treating insomnia.

Plunder's gun has an interesting effect on Barry, causing his telemetry readings to drop precipitously. It also used some kind of heat-seeking ammunition that Barry is only able to avoid by phasing through a barrier

Plunder was also able to aim his gun and fire it without touching it

Plunder's gun also fires what appear to be laser blasts and is capable of generating a force-field that momentarily slows down The Flash and Kid Flash as they chase after him.

Cisco creates a device that will allow him to use his Vibe powers to let Barry see the future on the day Iris dies.

Julian and Cisco devise a new means of keeping Caitlin's powers under control - a device contained with a snowflake-shaped necklace, that is solar-powered and recharges itself whenever she's outside during the day.


Dialogue Triumphs


Barry: (V/O) My name is Barry Allen and I'm the fastest man alive! To the outside world, I'm an ordinary forensic scientist but secretly, with the help of my friends at STAR Labs, I fight crime find other metahumans like me. In an attempt to stop the evil speedster, Savitar, I was accidentally thrust into the future and I saw him murder the woman that I love. But I won't let that happen! I'm going to do everything in my power to change the future and I am the only one fast enough to keep her alive! I am... The Flash!

Cisco: Let me give you some advice, Wally. Being a superhero is not about kicking ass. (pauses) Well... no, actually, that's a straight up lie. There's a lot of ass-kicking involved.

(Plunder is breaking open a jewelry display. Suddenly, The Flash runs in.)
The Flash: (apologetically) See, I'm living with someone now, so I can't have criminals constantly interrupting our alone time.

(Barry is reluctant to let Wally help him with taking on Plunder and tells Joe he wants Wally to train more first.)
Joe: Okay. Well, remember the best way to teach somebody something is to throw them in the deep end. That's how I taught you how to swim.
Barry: That was... I'm still mad about that!
Joe: You can swim now, can't you?
Barry: ... yeah.
Joe: Mmm-hmm.

Julian: Look - I - I know I was... rude yesterday.
Caitlin: Yeah. You were a world class jerk.
Julian: Yeah. There is a reason...
Caitlin: Because you ARE a world class jerk?
Julian: ... Fair enough.

Caitlin: Look... what Alchemy did was not your fault.
Julian: Yeah. Tell that to Dave Frieman. Ben Edwards. Jorge Gonzales. These men were part of the CCPD Task Force that Savitar murdered. I should have died - not them.
Caitlin: Julian, what you're feeling... it's completely normal. It's called survivor's guilt. But it wasn't your fault, okay? You're a victim too.  I... (pausing to steel herself) I tortured people and nearly killed my best friends. I didn't ask for these powers. Just like you didn't ask to be used by Savitar.
Julian: Yeah. (sighs) I just don't know how to move forward.
Caitlin: Why don't you come join us at STAR Labs? You can help Team Flash fight metahumans.
Julian: You're being serious?
Caitlin: Yeah. Barry and the team - they'd be thrilled to have you. I would be thrilled to have you!
Julian: Ah... I'll give it some thought.  Uh, thanks for coming.

(Barry asks HR if he believes in predestination or fixed futures.)
HR: Well, I think that a man often meets his destiny on the very road that he takes to avoid it.
Barry: Meaning?
HR: Meaning... the future is fixed.

HR: Wallace! B.A! You're supposed to be dressed for the museum opening!
Wally: HR. We're speedsters. We have time.
HR: No one likes a braggart.

(As the rest of the team say they're reluctant to let Julian onto Team Flash.)
Caitlin: Guys, I need his help. I'm sorry, Cisco, but these cuffs... they aren't cutting it! Every night when I go to bed, I'm afraid I'm going to wake up... be her. Maybe Julian can think of something that we haven't?  Barry, when your mom was murdered, Joe and Iris took you in. Cisco, when Dante died... I slept on your couch to keep you company  The things we see?  The things that we face? No one can do this alone. Trying is the biggest mistake that you can make. He hasn't told anyone that Barry is The Flash. I think we can give him a chance.


Continuity


The opening scene repeats the scene from 309 where Barry briefly traveled to the future and saw Iris' death.

As the episode opens, Barry and Iris have been living together for a month but they haven't unpacked everything in their new home yet.

Barry has had nightmares which had him screaming loud enough to wake up Iris for three nights in a row.

It is confirmed that Iris and Barry's relationship has become sexual and the two share a bed.

Detective Patterson - last seen in 307 - is saved from a fire by The Flash and Kid Flash.

The power-dampening cuffs Caitlin is wearing need to be regularly recharged and are starting to fail. She asks Cisco to fix them for her.

HR hires a Russian woman named Olga to work at the STAR Labs museum, despite her not speaking English.  He also creates a malfunctioning hologram of Cisco to act as a tour guide.

HR dodges the question of just how he is paying for everything going into creating the STAR Labs Museum, but he tells Cisco that money is no object when he asks about ordering parts to repair HR's hologram.

Barry heard a news report of Plunder's trial when he traveled to the future in 309.

Dave Frieman, Ben Edwards and Jorge Gonzales were the three police officers on the CCPD Task Force that were killed by Savitar in 306.

HR claims to have written a romantic science-fiction novel involving time-traveling to the future called The Future Ain't What It Used To Be. It won a Nebula Award. It was about a man trying to stop his own murder in the future.

On that note, Earth 19 has Nebula Awards too.

HR is a believer in fixed futures.

Only two people show up for the opening gala of the STAR Labs Museum. They leave upon finding out the museum is not free.

Barry shows Iris the future newspaper from 2024 and tells her that she is no longer the author of the article about The Flash disappearing during a crisis of some kind. He then tells her about her murder at the hands of Savitar in four months.

Barry and Iris tell the rest of the team (except Joe) about the future where Iris dies on May 23, 2017.

The headlines that Barry sees on the news scroll in the future are as follows -
* Music Meister Gets Six-Figure Book Deal.
* Luigi's Opens After Murder
* Joe West Honored At City Hall
* Killer Frost Still At Large
* STAR Labs Museum Closes
* City Still Recovering Following Gorilla Attack

Cisco and Barry see HR standing on the roof overlooking the stand-off between The Flash and Savitar, holding a gun. Barry says HR wasn't there before. This suggests that Barry telling HR about the future changed it somehow.

Central City has 35 jewelry stores and 48 hotels.

Barry remembers that Plunder was captured robbing the Central City Museum in his future vision.

Barry steals Plunder's gun from the CCPD Evidence Room and gives it to Cisco so he can study it.

Cisco is able to get a crowd of children and teachers into the museum by offering a local elementary school discounted tickets.

Cisco also repairs HR's hologram.

On Earth 19, it is traditional to give reptiles as a house-warming gift. For this reason, HR gives Iris and Barry a female turtle named McSnurtle who bites.

The rest of Team Flash agrees to let Julian join the team.

In the final scene, a woman emerges from a breach and looks at a holographic projection of HR.


The Bottom Line

A solid enough return to form. Villain of the week Plunder could have used more definition, with it being unclear if he just had an advanced gun or if he was telekinetically manipulating the gun and bullets. And we never did find out just where he got that wonderful toy from...

Still, this episode makes good use of its time and settles a lot of the on-going subplots (Cisco's rivalry with HR in particular) even as it sets up the story lines for the rest of the season. The ensemble are all on point, with the chemistry between Grant Gustin and Candice Patton having never been stronger now that the "will they/won't they" tension has finally been excised from their relationship.

Injustice: Ground Zero #17 - A Review

The jail-break to free Batman hits a snag when Cyborg has trouble hacking the Watchtower teleporter, And as Lex Luthor flies off to confront the tyrant Superman, Harley Quinn faces a new crisis. The Joker from another world has freed himself and turned most of her gang against her. Can Harley fight against Mistah Jay AND her own followers?


While Ground Zero has never been a bad book this issue shows a marked improvement on recent issues, where the need to show the action of the Injustice game for the benefit of those readers who haven't played it slowed the pacing a bit. This chapter has no such issues, with the various subplots moving at a rapid pace. Harley's story remains the high-point, however, with Christopher Sebela showcasing a true command of Harley's rich character and internal conflict.


The artwork is just plain fantastic. I've been a big fan of the collaborations between Daniel Sampere and Juan Albarran for a while now and their work here is a prime example of why that is so, Rex Lokus' color art provides the perfect finishes to the pencils and inks

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 25

In which - after proving that fences don't recognize their own property when you steal it and try to sell it back to them by robbing the new Black Briar Meadery - we drunkenly make our way to the city of Markarth, take on far too many quests and marvel at the sensible undergarments of the barbaric Forsworn.



Monday, January 23, 2017

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 9 - Supergirl Lives

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





Plot

The search for a missing teenager sends Kara and Mon-El through a portal to an alien world where Roulette has set-up shop as a slave-trader. Unfortunately the red sun of the alien world leaves both of them totally powerless! Meanwhile, back on Earth, Alex blames herself for Kara's disappearance, feeling she's been slacking off on her big-sister duties since falling in love with Maggie Sawyer and Winn suffers from PTSD after his near-death experience while aiding The Guardian.

Influences

Doctor Who
(rock quarry and the same two hallway sets used to replicate alien world/alien foretress, mention of transmats), Stargate (the appearance of the portal used by the alien slavers, Winn specifically calls it this), Star Trek (the quarry set for an alien planet, Winn tries to psyche himself up by saying he is not a Red Shirt, Winn's take-down of a Maaldorian soldier with a thrown rock is vintage Shatner Fighting 101)


Goofs

Kara using her heat-vision to create an explosion that flips a van carrying ordinary jewel thieves seems horribly out of character.

How the heck did the two jewel thieves in the back of the van survive the van flipping and remain in good enough condition to run away when the driver, who had a seat-belt on, appeared to be injured from the impact and barely conscious?

For that matter, how did they get out of the van without Supergirl seeing it when she was flying right behind them?

Granting that Roulette in the comics was a consummate capitalist who would do anything to make a profit, it seems odd that the DCTVU version - who was previously established as an anti-alien racist - would be involved in any operation that involved her exploiting fellow humans to benefit alien slavers.

Throwing Winn - a DEO tech support agent with no field training or weapons training that we're aware of - into a hostile alien landscape seems incredibly stupid, even if he WEREN'T showing signs of suffering from PTSD.

It gets worse when Alex leaves Winn behind to guard the star-gate without a partner.


Artistry


The effects used to create Slaver Moon are nice, from the subtle filtering of the light to create the red sun effect to the digital effects to create "the murder castle".


Super Trivia


This episode was directed by filmmaker Kevin Smith - famed for his View Askewniverse and his work writing various Marvel and DC Comic books, including a critically acclaimed run on Green Arrow.

The actress playing the missing girl Izzy is Harley Quinn Smith - Kevin Smith's daughter.

The title of the episode - Supergirl Lives - is a reference to a canceled Superman film titled Superman Lives, which would have been based on The Death of Superman comic story line. Kevin Smith was famously hired to write one draft of Superman Lives.

In the comics, Kryptonians and Daxamites gain super powers under the light of a yellow sun and become like ordinary humans under the light of a red sun. Different stories, however, have depicted the loss of power after moving from a yellow-sun environment to a red-sun environment differently. In some stories, they change back to normal instantly. In other stories, the change is more gradual.

In the DCTVU, Kryptonians and Daxamites lose their powers almost immediately under the light of a red sun.

Reference is made to the creature that Jo is eating as a Thanagarian Snare Beast. This was a term used by Kevin Smith in his Superman Lives script to describe the giant spider-like monster that Superman would have fought at one point. This was due to producer Jon Peters' demand that Superman fight a giant spider at some point in the movie and DC Comics' demand that - if this happened - that the giant spider be called something other than a giant spider.

The alien slavers are referred to as Maaldorians. While there is no alien race known as the Maaldorians in the DC Universe, there is a cosmic villain known as Maaldor The Dark Lord.

We are told Maaldoria is in the Arcturus system.  In the real world, Arcturus is a red giant star, located some 36.7 light years from our sun.

In the Superman novel Last Sun of Krypton by Elliot S! Maggin, Arcturus was revealed to be the Earth name for Rao - the red star which Krypton orbited.


Technobabble

The cover story used by the slavers at the clinic is that they are testing a new-to-market supplement and examining the effect of the supplement on base metabolic rates.

James refers to hearing about a 10-37 code on the police scanner. This is the police code for a suspicious vehicle.

Kara refers to the Bismuth Mountains on the planet Sedenach, where one could have a crystal staircase grow under your feet and lift you up.  Bismuth is Atomic Element 83 on the periodic table. It is a non-toxic heavy metal, weakly radioactive with a half-life more than one billion years times the age of the universe and it is the heaviest element with a stable nucleus. Though rarely occurring in nature, pure bismuth can form a variety of colorful crystals.

J'onn identifies the "star gate" the slavers use as a transmater portal - a way to travel instantaneously between worlds.

Winn is able to track the Transmat's terminus by following the ionization trail.

The air on Maaldoria is toxic to Martians due to some kind of silicate in the atmosphere.

J'onn develops a "yellow sun grenade" - a flash-bang capable of giving a Kryptonian's powers a jump-start in a red-sun environment.


Dialogue Triumphs

Alex: Oh! Hey, what happened to you?!
(Winn forces a smile to his face.)
Winn: I got mugged. And I'm fine...
(Winn winces a bit.)
Winn:
And it hurts to smile.

(Kara and Mon-El hear a noise like a plane taking off in the distance.)
Kara: What's that?
Mon-El: Sounds like a short-range shuttle. (tilts his head a bit) That's a troop transport... but where is it going?
Kara: It's probably heading there .
(Kara points to a rather intimidating looking building/ship in the distance.)
Mon-El: Oh. Um... yeah, so we're going...?
Kara: After it.
(Kara starts walking away, resolutely.)
Mon-El: No!  No. No. No.  We are going away from Murder Castle because we don't have our powers anymore!
Kara: And?
Mon-El: ...right.

(Kara and Mon-El watch as their captor prepares a meal.)
Mon-El: That's Thanigarian Snare Beast. And we're the next course.
Jo Gunraf: (shuddering in disgust) Jo Gunraf does not eat bipeds!
(Kara's jaw drops in shock. Mon-El looks surprised as well.)
Mon-El: ... so you speak English?
Jo Gunraf: Oh yes. Jo dissected a human once.
Mon-El: Of course you did.
Jo Gunraf: Learned your tongue. (shudders in disgust again) Hideous pink thing!


Dialogue Disasters

Kara:What's more important than a mother finding her daughter?
Snapper Carr: My coffee, my danish and the five minutes of peace and quiet you stole from me.


Continuity


Mon-El starts working as a bartender at the alien bar.  He refers to the 208 and notes there was a job opening following Lillian Luthor's attack there.

Roulette was last seen in 204.

The planet Barvex has two-headed cannibals.

Kara and her family spent solstices on the planet Sedenach, which hiad Bismuth mountains that would grow under your feet into a crystal staircase that lifted you up. Mon-El also went there once with a girlfriend.

Maaldoria is also known as The Slaver's Moon and Planet 51-Arc-B.

We are are told that carbon-based life forms are sold like animals on Maaldoria. This suggests that the Maaldorians are not carbon-based life-forms.

Some kind of silicate in the air renders its atmosphere toxic to Martians.

The Daxamite royal family bought slaves on Maaldoria, according to Mon-El.

Slavery was legal on Daxam, though Mon-El claims to have been personally against it.

Maaldoria is in the Arcturus system.

Diamonds are incredibly common on Maaldoria.

The alien who buys Kara's party is a Dominator, last seen in the Invasion! crossover.

For some reason, The Dominator gives the order for Mon-El not to be harmed. Indeed, he even bows to him as Mon-El tries to hold off the Maaldorian soldier who is trying to shoot the escaping slaves.

Maggie Sawyer figures out that Kara is Supergirl. Partly because of Alex's reaction when Supergirl went missing and partly because "the glasses don't help."

Mon-El decides he wants to be a superhero.

The hooded aliens from 208 make an appearance, learn Mon-El is on Earth after questioning the slaver posing as a doctor and then kill him.



Location

Maaldoria a.k.a. Slaver's Moon


Untelevised Adventures


Supergirl stopped a bank robbery one week before the events of this episode.


The Fridge Factor

Alex fears she is off her game because she is in love.

Supergirl is kind of an idiot through this episode


The Bottom Line

Cheap, stupid and not in a fun way. You know it's going to be a rough episode when the best aspects of the episode are the comic-relief guest alien and Winn making knowing references to all the other franchises the writers ripped-off. One suspects they got Kevin Smith to direct this episode because whatever else you may say about him, The Smith does know how to work on a budget and all of this episode's money clearly went into the CGI for the aliens and alien ships.

With the same three hallways being used to simulate an alien fortress and a rock quarry simulating the surface of an alien planet, this feels like a classic Doctor Who episode with modern CGI added in. The script has everyone acting out of character, with Alex and Kara being uncharacteristically stupid. The subplots involving Alex and Winn's respective losses of confidence don't ring true and not even Melissa Benoist can't make Kara's speeches here sound inspiring.

Buck Hates RPGs - A Man Vs. Rock Experience - Part 1 (NSFW)

Trapped in an RPG by a pissed-off fairy, we  must escape the Sex Dungeon of Taylorr Swiftt (no relation) in order to get back to the real world and fight the evil that is Rocks!


Saturday, January 21, 2017

I Believe In Heroes - A Statement of Rebellion


No three sentences have ever disgusted me so much as these.

To not like heroes or the concept of heroes is to deny the best of humanity.

To not like the concept of heroes is to deny the concept of empowerment.

To not like heroes, one must be a villain.



I like heroes. I believe in heroes. I try to be heroic.

I think most people are like me. They like heroes. They want to be heroic.

Someone once said that the really great make you feel that you too can become great.

That’s as good a definition of hero worship as any I’ve seen.


Someone also said the greatest trick The Devil ever pulled was making people think he didn’t exist.

I say the greatest trick The Devil ever tried to pull was making people think heroes didn’t exist.

That is what the villains tell us. That anyone who looks like a hero Is either a liar or a fool.

They say there are no heroes. And that is the biggest lie of all.


Heroes exist. They are closer than you think. They’re all around us.

They are there inside you all, waiting to come out.

The villains want you to be silent. Be loud.



The villains want you to be afraid. Be brave.



The villains want you to be hateful. Be loving.



The villains want you to feel helpless. Be hopeful.



Be the hero they know you can be.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Starman Plays The Pandora Directive (Blvd. of Broken Dreams) - Part 15

THE THRILLING CONCLUSION!  Will Tex get the big score he's dreamed of? Will Tex score with Regan again? Will Tex even survive the trials awaiting him at the end of the Boulevard of Broken Dreams?


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 24

In which we battle racism and make friends... by punching people!  We then unwittingly take on a job as an assassin for a small boy and brave a cavern with spiders big enough to bring down a mammoth to retrieve an ancestral shield.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Starman Plays The Pandora Directive (Blvd. of Broken Dreams) - Part 14

In which we make our way through a trap-filled tomb in search of our final reward. The good news is that - unlike in Gamer mode - we don't have to deal with that stupid lava maze. The bad news is we're still stuck navigating a stone wall maze looking for the tools we need to deal with a wasp nest.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 23

In which, after a dragon refuses to fight us, we start clearing out our quest log by clearing out some bandit camps. We also learn of the word of Talos and play delivery boy for a friendly alchemist.


Injustice: Ground Zero #16 - A Review

Sent forth from The Tower of Fate, Harley is stuck struggling with the revelation that her soul is bound to The Joker across all of time and space. Will she be able to use the magic word Fate gave her to free herself when her army is threatened by Joker's madness? And what of the jailbreak to free the Batman of another world from the tyrant Superman?


Injustice: Ground Zero continues to be a solid read. Christopher Sebela's command of Harley Quinn as a character is impressive, but the story's pacing is hampered by the continual cutaways to retell the events of the Injustice game. The artwork is wonderful, with Marco Santucci turning in a fantastic showing, backed by J. Nanjan's vivid color art.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #9 - A Preview/Review

The Doctor has little love for slavers. Yet as the saying says, "misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows." There is misery aplenty in 17th century Brazil when The Doctor and his companions stumble across a conquistador camp besieged by monsters.

As The Doctor and Tara - a UNIT medic who stowed-away on the TARDIS after their last adventure - look into the monsters, Captain Jack Harkness and Rose Tyler go off investigating a link to Jack's forgotten past. A past that apparently involved his posing as a Jesuit priest on behalf of The Time Agents!






Even in the comics it is a rare thing to see Doctor Who tackle historical stories outside of a European setting. For that reason alone is this first chapter of Slaver's Song notable. Brazilian artist Adriana Melo teamed with writer Cavan Scott on plotting the story for this issue, presumably suggesting a story based on the rich and troubled history of her own nation.

Ignoring the novelty, this is a damn fine comic. Scott remains one of the strongest writers to tackle The Doctor and his friends since Titan Comics took over the license. Melo's artwork - while losing some detail in the far distance shots - remains largely excellent. And my only complaint about colorist Marco Lesko is that the shade of brown-gold he uses for Rose's eyes leaves her looking like a Cheetah Person from Survival.


Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #9 releases on Janyary 18th, 2017. 
Ask for it at your local comic shop or purchase it on Comixology.com.

The Flash #14 - A Review

Master thieves armed with fantastic tools and led by the formidable Captain Cold, The Rogues are the greatest enemies of law and order in The Flash's town, despite their occasionally playing the hero. Absent from Central City since before The Speed Force Storm that changed so much, finding where they're hiding has become Barry Allen's first priority now that things have calmed down somewhat. What he uncovers, however, is evidence of a heist to end all heists in another country, suggesting that The Rogue's Reformation was short-lived...


This first issue of the Rogues Reloaded storyline is surprisingly slow-paced for a Flash comic. Joshua Williamson spends a little too long trying to establish the status quo of Central City.  While this may be a necessary evil given how much back-story there is regarding The Rogues, Iron Heights prison, the new Kid Flash and Barry's newfound romance with Iris West, this is still a case of telling rather than showing the story and we wind up hearing precious little about The Rogues in all of it. Hopefully the pace will quicken in upcoming issues.

Carmine Di Giandomenico is similarly off his game this time around. There is something inexplicably sloppy about the artwork in this issue, with several pages - particularly in the opening fight between The Flash and Papercut's gang - where the figures are disjointed and the inks muddy the artwork rather than enhancing it. The artwork doesn't look bad, as such, but it's a step-down from the usual level of quality for all involved.

All-New Wolverine #16 - A Review

Intercepted by Bellona - another of Laura Kinney's clones, who lacks her healing factor but feels no pain - the all-new Wolverine is back in the clutches of the mad scientists who created her! Laura's only hope of rescue lies with Gabby - her adopted "sister". Even armed with no sense of pain and her own set of bone claws, can Gabby hope to save the day?


All-New Wolverine #16 is an enjoyable action-packed issue. Tom Taylor does a fine job of explaining Laura's past as X-23 for newer readers who might not be familiar with that time of her life, not slowing the story down a moment while allowing for this exposition. The action sequences are illustrated amazingly by Nik Virella and finished well by Michael Garland.