Friday, February 24, 2017

Starman Plays Gabriel Knight: Sins Of The Fathers (20th Anniversary Edition) - Part 3

In which we catch up with our pal Detective Mosley, engage in some mild sexual harassment  and commit multiple acts of theft.

Again, I remind you, we are the hero of this game.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Detective Comics #951 - A Review

Someone has killed Gotham City's mayor and framed Batman for the crime. There's any number of villains who could be responsible but Jacob Kane - currently a prisoner in Batman's Belfry base - says this is the work of The League of Shadows. Of course Batman doesn't believe The League of Shadows exists... but Batman has been wrong before!


Detective Comics #951 marks the first issue by artist Christian Duce and colorist Alex Sinclair. Their first outing is a strong one, with Duce's style being both intricately detailed yet uncluttered by heavy lines or inks. Sinclair avoids the dark hues that dominate most Batman books, giving this issue a distinctive and gripping look.


Despite the story building upon the previous arcs, the script by James Tynion IV remains accessible to new readers. It will mean more if the reader read last issue's prologue story but it isn't strictly required. It's a simple touch like this that makes this the strongest of the various Batman books.

Pathfinder: Worldscape #5 - A Review

The warrior Valeros and priestess Kyra have been reunited in the cells of the Empress Camilla's arena, Their newfound allies - Red Sonja and John Carter - stand ready to lead a rebellion against the Empress and the dark forces allied with her. Yet Kyra is troubled by the revelation that Merisiel - their party's rogue and her lover - stands among Camilla's inner circle...

It would have been a simple matter to throw together a fantastic epic utilizing the world of the Pathfinder roleplaying game and Dynamite Comics' rich stable of pulp heroes. Thankfully, Erik Mona chose a more challenging path in writing this story. It's thrilling enough as a fantasy tale yet the heart of the story lies in the interactions between the various characters. It's as amusing watching the hard-drinking and harder-loving Valeros and Sonja play off of each other as it is touching to see John Carter in a rare reflective mood as he speaks of romance with Kyra.


Jonathan Lau's art proves a perfect pairing with Mona's story. He draws a damn fine action sequence yet instills even the most basic scenes of two people having a conversation with a sense of motion. Omi Remlante's colors are well chosen throughout, with interesting gradient effects used to simulate torchlight also aiding the appearance of the completed artwork.

Future Quest #10 - A Review

The battle against the all-absorbing intergalactic menace known as Omnikron was going well until the arrival of the Herculoids and their misguided attack on Frankenstein Jr. Now Ty - the new Mightor - has become lost in time and space! Yet the heroes of Earth - and their new allies from beyond the stars - have not lost yet!



With every issue of this book, Jeff Parker finds new ways to surprise me. I hadn't expected Mightor to become a legacy hero in earlier issues and I didn't expect Ty to meet his prehistoric predecessor in this one. Scenes like this - and the later scene in which Space Ghost expresses his admiration for how the people of Earth have succeeded where more advanced civilizations fell -  resonate with the power of pure imagination. This book has perfectly recaptured that magical feeling one had watching Saturday morning cartoons as a kid.


Ron Randall and Veronica Gandini are the perfect team to give life to Parker's scripts. Randall's character designs evoke the work of Alex Toth, whilst still boasting a unique aesthetic that weaves the various characters into a continuous whole. Veronica Gandini's colors are perfectly chosen, catching the viewer's eye with every turn of the page.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 34

In which we return to Ivarstead to get paid for a bounty on bear killing. Luckily showing up with store-bought pelts is just as good. We then return to Falkreath to aid the people of the hold and prove our worthiness to become a Thane... by spying on them on behalf of a paranoid old man. There's also a battle with vampires that becomes... complicated.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 14 - The Sin-Eater

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


Plot

When three of his enemies break out of prison together, Green Arrow is quick to move to recapture them. Unfortunately, the Anti-Crime Unit seems to be more interested in bringing Green Arrow in for the murder of Detective Malone. At the same time, Quentin Lance blames himself for the break-out, after learning that Eliza Warner - an ex-cop gone bad - is apparently out for his head due to the recently revealed truth about how he'd once worked with Damien Darhk. And Thea and Felicity work to discover just how Susan Williams found out Oliver Queen is Green Arrow and what her game is...

In the flashbacks, Oliver and Anatoly must escape from Gregor and Kovar's after an ambush is arranged at the hospital where Anatoly is being treated.


Influences

The Green Arrow comics of Judd Winick. (Oliver Queen tries to balance being mayor and a vigilante, everyone acts like idiots.)


Goofs

Even if China White and Cupid weren't their intended target, it's unlikely that the ACU wouldn't move to stop their escape in case they were accomplices of Green Arrow. Or, at the very least, there wouldn't be a perimeter outside to stop Green Arrow from escaping that would catch them.

By the same token, are the ACU (or the rest of the SCPD for that matter) really going to sit on their asses and ignore the escapees while waiting for Green Arrow to show up again?

Even if they did, isn't it remarkably stupid of Cupid, Warner and China White to bet on the cops not taking an interest in them?

Did the cops just gun down an unarmed China White?

The flashback cliff-hanger of Anatoly being held at gunpoint would be a lot more dramatic if we didn't know he's alive five years later.


Performances

Paul Blackthorne, as always, is a wonder as Quentin Lance.

Willa Holland, likewise, is fantastic as Thea.

Juliana Harkavy isn't given much to do as Dinah in this episode but she makes every moment she's on-screen count.


Artistry

The script does try to draw parallels between Oliver, Quentin and Thea all taking blame upon themselves for something that wasn't their fault - i.e. Sin-Eating.


Trivia

The episode title comes from a custom practiced in some cultures, which Anatoly explains in the flashback. A Sin-Eater is one who lives apart from the other people in a village and - when one of the villagers dies - consumes a ritual meal prepared from food left with the corpse of the deceased in order to eat their sins (which pass into the food) and allow the deceased to pass on free of guilt.

The name Sin-Eater has been used by a number of characters in comics history. The most famous is probably a trio of serial killers - all using the name - who appeared in the pages of Spider-Man and Venom. The name was also used by two different Ghost Rider villains.

Most recently the name was used by an enemy of The Phantom Stranger. This Sin Eater was accidentally created by The Phantom Stranger after he broke and scattered the soul of serial killer Phillip Stark across time and space. The soul fragments reassembled and became the twisted demon known as The Sin Eater.

Curtis' new jacket has white pieces which make it more closely resemble the Mister Terrific costume worn by Michael Holt in the pre-New 52 comics.

Oliver says that Prometheus' mother was from Opal City. In the original DC Comics Universe, Opal City was the hometown of the original Starman, Ted Knight and his two sons David (Starman VI) and Jack (VII).


Technobabble

Curtis and Felicity make a sniffer device, which pulls electronic data from any hard drive or devices close by. It works so effectively it pulls a petabyte (1 quadrillion bytes) of data in one go.

Chǔ Cáng is the Chinese phrase for depository or storage space.

Curtis rebuilds his costume, adding a Kevlar weave into the jacket.

The edgework on the Billy Malone's death-wounds was consistent with the arrows used by Green Arrow, according to a Medical Examiner's report.


Dialogue Triumphs

Oliver: Thanks for coming along. I know that being my body man isn't your job anymore.
John: Sure it is. Just a different suit, that's all.

Susan: Are you The Green Arrow?
Oliver: Yeah.
Susan: (stunned) Really?!
Oliver: No! (smiles and chuckles) I'm sorry. I thought you were doing a joking thing. So I did a joking thing back. Are you not?
Susan: I was working on a different story. And... uh, well some things came up that relate to you...
Oliver: And then you just immediately jumped to the most insane conclusion possible.
Susan: So that's a no? For the record?
Oliver: No. For the record.
Susan: Well, good. Because I think our relationship is complicated enough already just with you being mayor.

Green Arrow: Wild Dog and Mr. Terrific are staking out The Bertinellis. Dinah and Spartan have eyes on the Bratva.
Quentin: You know - you've got to get that new girl a code name.
Green Arrow: Well, when she's ready I was considering Black Canary. You all right with that?
(Quentin seems to consider that.)
Quentin: Well, so long as she does Laurel proud.

Quentin: I think that Warner is my mess to clean up.
Thea: And I'm assuming Oliver said that's not the case?
Quentin: What Oliver doesn't know is that the reason her rehabilitation was short-lived was because she caught my confessing to working with Damien Darhk on TV.
Thea: Oh wow.
Quentin: Yeah.
Thea: That is... an unbelievable load of crap, Quentin.
Quentin: What?
Thea: Liza Warner is a criminal. You didn't make her into one. You've got to stop taking responsibility for other people's sins.
Quentin: You know, I really like how wise you're getting lately?
Thea: That's just because I have committed my own sin today.

(Oliver is standing at his office window behind his desk, looking out on the city. Thea enters)
Thea: You asked to see me?
Oliver: (looking out the window) Did you know that Susan got fired today?
Thea: ... I didn't know she was going to get fired.
Oliver: (turning around) You should have come to me with this.
Thea: Listen, Ollie. I just wanted to discredit her-
Oliver: Thea! You should have come to me with this!
Thea: (coolly angry) And then what? We would have the same conversation we are having right now. I would have told you that she was going to out you as The Green Arrow...
Oliver: She wouldn't do that to me!
Thea: And then you would say that.
(Oliver sighs in annoyance.)
Thea: Look, Ollie. The only reason I didn't tell you was because I was trying to keep your hands clean. I know you care about her, so -
Oliver: (quietly) I do care about her. I also care that you destroyed her reputation. She's going to have a tough time finding a decent job. She's certainly not going to find a job in journalism.(suddenly shouting) You just blew up her life!
Thea: Honestly, I didn't mean for it to go this far...
Oliver: Yes, you did. You knew exactly what you were doing. And that's the part that I don't understand. Who does that to a person?

Quentin:What, you're just giving up now?
Oliver: Prometheus isn't giving me a choice.
Quentin: Neither did Slade Wilson. Or Damien Darhk. But with those guys you didn't just pick up your football and go home.
Oliver: This is different.
Quentin: How?
Oliver: Because what's happening now - it's not something that Prometheus did. It's something I did.
Quentin: You're talking about Malone, right? That was Prometheus.
Oliver: I fired the arrows.
Quentin: (pauses) Listen, earlier Thea was talking to me about not taking on other people's sins. What happened with Malone? That's on Prometheus. Not you.
Oliver: Well Quentin, that advice would mean a little bit more if it wasn't coming from Thea right now.
Quentin: Well, I don't know what that means. But I do know that if you're letting Prometheus, ACU or anyone else keep you from stopping Warner and her buddies, then justice isn't being served.

Quentin: So... Oliver tells me that you're the new Black Canary.
Dinah: Um. Not yet. I'm not ready to take your daughter's place. Sir.
Quentin: Laurel didn't want someone to take her place. She wanted someone to carry on in her place.

Thea: I'm really sorry, Ollie.  I know I screwed up but-
Oliver: - but you didn't make a mistake. You made a choice. And you reminded me of someone.
Thea: Who?
Oliver: Mom.
(Thea looks taken aback by this as Oliver moves to a chair.)
Oliver: She would have done something like this. Well... she would have done exactly this. She was a wonderful mother. But I think we both know that she didn't always make the best choices. Whatever's going to happen with Susan is... whatever's going to happen. Right now... right now, I'm really worried about my baby sister.


Continuity

Justin Claybourne's mistress is named Amanda Westfield. She claims that she has not seen her son since Justin Claybourne's funeral. She does not confirm or deny that her son is Prometheus but does refuse to give Oliver Queen his name.

Carrie Cutter (a.k.a. Cupid) last appeared in 416.

Liza Warner last appeared in 404.

Chien Na Wei (a.k.a. China White) last appeared, in the modern day, in 202. She appeared in the flashback scenes of several Season 3 episodes.

Dinah is sworn in as an SCPD cop.

The three escapees kill several of China White's former associates in the local Triad.

Felicity hacks Susan Williams' computer. Williams' password is 1234. She discovers all of Susan Williams' information that Oliver Queen is Green Arrow, but doesn't delete it since the information can just be retrieved again from whatever source she originally got it from.

Reference is made to Tobias' Church's deal with Amertek in 502 and the money he made off of it. This is what the escapees are searching for.

Liza Warner claims the reason she escaped was because she saw Quentin's testimony from the trial in 416 and decided that she might as well be selfish and look out for number one from now on.

The ACU discovers the cause of Billy Malone's death and that Green Arrow was meant to look responsible. This evidence turns out to be a second medical examiner's report, which determines the cause of death to have been arrows with edge work consistent with those used by The Green Arrow.

The letter with the ME report was postmarked from Opal City.

Amanda Westfield was originally from Opal City.

Susan Williams is fired from her reporter job after an anonymous tip is sent to her producers about how she's been plagiarizing stories for over two years. Evidence confirming this is found on her laptop.

Susan tells Oliver that she recognized his chest tattoo as that of a Bratva captain, had photos of him with Bratva members in Russia when he was supposedly shipwrecked and photos of a man who looks like Green Arrow in Russia at the same time. Of course having been totally discredited as a reporter, she can't go public with any of it.

Felicity admits to hacking Susan Williams computer and putting some files on it at based on Thea's instructions.

Thea tells Oliver that she did what she did because she felt Susan Williams was about to out him as The Green Arrow.

Oliver tells Captain Pike that DA Chase covered up the cause of Billy Malone's death, that Green Arrow was manipulated into killing Malone and that he knows this because he is in contact with The Green Arrow.

Felicity gives Dinah Laurel's old mask to wear into the field.

Rene is superstitious about disturbing a cemetery at night.

Captain Pike elects to move on the escapees rather than bring down Green Arrow and the other vigilantes. China White is apparently shot by the police. Cupid and Eliza Warner are taken alive.

The episode ends with Oliver and DA Chase watching a news report on information making it to the press on how the Mayor's office ordered a cover-up of Billy Malone's death.


Location

 A suburban house somewhere in Illinois.


The Winick Factor

It's a toss-up who is stupider in this episode - the cops who let a trio of escapees go in an effort to bring down the local superhero or the trio of escapees who gamble on the cops not being interested in them because they're after the local superhero. Hell, Oliver even points out how illogical it is to believe that Green Arrow has gone bad to the ACU Captain. And when Ollie is talking sense in an episode...


The Bottom Line

A typical mid-season filler episode, made tolerable only by some excellent performances and a script that cleverly parallels the shared hubris of three of the main cast. The villains of the week are wasted (which I never thought I'd say about Cupid of all people) as the main thrust of the episode is rightly on the continuing torment Prometheus is inflicting on Team Arrow and how everyone is being forced into darker and darker places in their support of Oliver Queen.

Starman Plays Gabriel Knight: Sins Of The Fathers (20th Anniversary Edition) - Part 2

In which we annoy our new best friend - Desk Sgt. Frick - and harness the annoying power of mimes to find our old best friend - Detective Mosley. We also meet the woman of our dreams and use our research assistant to stalk her by proxy. Yes, we're a hero. Really.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2, Episode 12 - Camelot/3000

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



Plot

After discovering a dead Doctor Mid-Nite in the year 3000, the team head back to the court of Camelot in search of another piece of The Spear of Destiny. Unfortunately, Rip Hunter and The Legion of Doom are one step ahead of them...


Influences

Camelot 3000 (the title and concept of melding Arthurian legend and science fiction), A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court (idea of modern man proving himself a wonder in medieval times), Star Wars (Ray creates an energized sword or light-saber and jokes about the copyright infringement) and the Doctor Who episode Robot of Sherwood (a time-traveler is confronted with the reality of a legend that they insist never existed.)


Goofs

Nate refers to 507 AD as being Medieval times. Most historians do not consider the Medieval period to have started any earlier than 600 AD. (Then again, Nate is not most historians and the details - such as King Arthur existing or full plate being used in 6th Century England - may be different in the DCTVU reality.)

Star Wars jokes aside, the "light saber" that Ray fashions out of Galahad's sword is a longsword - not a saber.

Given Nate's earlier romanticism of his superhero grandfather and the fact that he grew up reading about the wonders of ancient times due to his hemophilia, his skepticism regarding Ray's desire to be a knight seems really out of character.


Artistry

The sword fight between Darhk and Ray is pretty good.

The costume design is fantastic, though I'm sure Nate would nit-pick the historical accuracy of the armor and weapons depicted.


Trivia Of Tomorrow

The episode opens with Nate giving the standard introduction.

This episode takes its name from Camelot 3000 - a 12-issue limited series published by DC Comics from 1982-1985.

Camelot 3000 was one of DC Comics' first direct-market projects (i.e. sold directly to specialty comic shops rather than newsstands and supermarkets, as most comics were at the time.) and it was the first book they printed on high-quality Baxter paper rather than newsprint paper. Written by Mike W. Barr with art by Brian Bolland, the series focused upon King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table being resurrected in an overpopulated Earth in order to save humanity from an alien invasion facilitated by Morgan LeFay.

Ray identifies Sir. Galahad by the fact that he's sitting in the Siege Perilous.  In the Arthurian legend, The Siege Perilous was a chair reserved by Merlin for the knight who was either the purest of knights or the one who would eventually find The Holy Grail, depending on which legend you go by. In either case, the Siege Perilous was enchanted to kill any unworthy knight who dared sit in it.


Technobabble

When Rip Hunter returned for him, Dr. McInder was working on a bio-morphic implant capable of modifying the host's neural processes. It could be used to rid a person of violent impulses or impose them.

Rip Hunter makes use of some sort of telepathic control-crown and the implant devices to mind-control King Arthur and the abducted knights.

Stein later - upon analyzing one of the recovered receivers and comparing it to the implant he "borrowed" from Dr. Mid-Nite's lab - determines they are the same technology.  The commander wears a transmitter, sending orders via electro-telepathic signal to the receiver/soldier. Jax guesses they could hack the signal by boosting the power of the transmitter or giving it to someone with an extraordinarily well-developed brain.

Ray channels the ionic energy of his ATOM gauntlet through Galahad's sword to create a "light saber".

Jax eventually figures out that the telepathic transmitter responds to intensity of thought rather than complexity. This means that Mick Rory is a more suitable commander than Professor Stein.


Dialogue Triumphs

(The team arrive in the year 3000 only to lose the reading on the Spear of Destiny fragment.)
Ray: So we came here for nothing?
Rory: Maybe not. Gideon? Do they have booze in the year 3000?

Sara: Somebody find a light switch or something.
Jax: What the hell does a light switch look like in the year 3000?
(Jax feels along the wall and flips what looks like an ordinary 21st century light switch. The lights come on.)
Jax: Huh. Yeah, I guess there's not many places you can go with a light switch.

Rory: Rest in peace.
Amaya: That's sweet, Mick.
Rory: No, it's what he wrote on the floor. (points to the blood) R-I-P.
Jax: That's not "rest in peace".
Sara: It's the name of Dr. Mid-Nite's killer.

Nate: I just don't get it.
Stein: Please be more specific. That could be a very long list.

(Amaya asks why Sara didn't kill Rip or let Jax do it when they had the chance.)
Sara: Because we're not killers, Amaya.
Stein: Except for yourself and Mr. Rory and...
(Sara gives Stein a warning glare.)
Stein: I'll stop helping now.

(Nate is ranting about how much medieval life sucked.)
Nate: And I'm not even touching skin diseases...
Amaya: Speaking of which, why did you choose to dress like a leper?
Nate: I didn't! This (motions to his costume) is historically accurate. You all look like you're going to a Renaissance fair.

(The Legends are surrounded by knights with weapons drawn. Their leader is on horseback.)
Ray: (in a bad High English accent) Wait! I mean ho! I mean hark! Good knight!  We intend you no harm. We are but mere travelers in this land.
Nate: (muttered) Your dialect is way off.
Ray: I, Raymond of The Palms and my band of merry men - and women - humbly request safe passage to Camelot and an audience with King Arthur.
Amaya: (disbelievingly) King Arthur?
Ray: Yes, you see his crest on their shields.
(The lead knight removes their helmet, revealing themselves to be a pale, red-haired woman.)
Guinevere: I am Guinevere.We shall escort you to Camelot. (stares at Nate) But your leper must remain outside the castle walls.
Nate: I'm not a leper!

Sara: Your tracking in the woods was excellent. There's not many people that can get the jump on me like that.
Guinevere: I was a warrior long before I was a queen.
Sara: Why does it sound like you preferred that?
Guinevere: Politics is not one of my passions. But Arthur is a true friend and ally. I believe in his vision for a more just and peaceful kingdom.
Sara: From what I see, Camelot lives up to its reputation.

(A mind-controlled Arthur is holding Stargirl at knife-point.)
Stargirl: Arthur?
Darhk: (out of the corner of his mouth, in a bad Elvis Presley impression) The King has left the building.
(Darhk looks to Stargirl expecting a reaction.)
Darhk: You don't get the reference? (groans) Pity.

(Sara is trying to persuade a reluctant Guinevere to take command of what remains of the Knights of The Round Table.)
Sara: Look - sometimes the mantle just falls into your lap. Trust me. I know that it's hard. But you are clever! You are brave. And you are a natural born commander. I know you can do this.

(Ray is preparing to go into battle with the rest of the Knights of the Round Table. Nate stops him.)
Nate: What are you doing? These guys don't stand a chance out there! Is this really worth the risk for some dream?
Ray: Yes. Because a long time ago that dream meant the world to a little boy. And he still remembers.
(As Ray marches off, Nate appears to remember something and fumbles for a book in his satchel. He pulls out the volume which had a drawing of a woodcut of a  knight he thought resembled Ray. The woodcut now depicts that knight be laid out in state.)
Nate: This isn't going to end well.

(Ray shows Nate that he is wearing his ATOM Gauntlet and draws his sword. On contact with the gauntlet, blue energy runs through the blade.)
Armorer: (stunned) It's like a saber!  Made of light!
Ray: (giddy) Yeah! Just don't call it a lightsaber! Major trademark issues, right?

Ray: All of these men are willing to die on the battlefield - not for some Spear but...  an idea. And I get it now. Camelot isn't about history. It's not even about some dusty old books that got a lonely kid through childhood. It's about one noble idea - that we can all stand up for what's right, no matter what. I can't walk away from that.
Nate: I believe you Ray. I do. And Camelot's great. But if you don't leave right now, you're going to die here.
Ray: Would it kill you to be just a little bit more supportive?!
Nate: You don't get it, man! I checked the manuscript. I saw your funeral!
Ray: (pauses) Well... sounds to me like the stuff Legends are made of.

(Sara is preparing to leave Ray behind to escape with the head of the Spear of Destiny.)
Rory: As much as Haircut's a pain in my ass, I'm not going to let him fight alone.
(Rory stands and starts to move to the exit.)
Sara: Sit down! That's an order.
Rory: What's an order?
Sara: Don't test me, Mick.
Rory: Don't threaten me, Blondie.
(Sara stands up and stares down Mick.)
Stein: (standing up) I can't believe I'm actually agreeing with Mr. Rory.
(Jax stands up along with Stein.)
Sara: I said sit down!
Amaya: (standing up) Stop! I've already lost one team. I'll be damned if my decision rips The Legends apart too.
Sara: What are you saying?
Amaya: Listen to your gut, Captain. Don't abandon Ray. It may be sentimental but the team should come before tactics.
(Sara looks to everyone else. They all seem to be in agreement.) 
Sara: Alright. Let's do this.

(Jax is able to get the mind control technology to work... giving Rory control of Stein.)
Jax: It worked! I knew it! Okay! Now all we've got to do is amplify the signal.
Rory: What do you want me to do?
Stein: (sarcastically) Just rest your brain, Mr. Rory.
Jax: (flipping switches on the control panel) We'll let you know when it's time to take control of the evil army.
Rory: (smiling wickedly) Ah! Finally, I get to fulfill my destiny!
Stein: God help us.


Continuity

There are flying cars and a cure for blindness the year 3000.

Dr. Mid-Nite cured his blindness and found work as a researcher in the field of cybernetic implants.

Nate is uncomfortable with traveling to the future since it makes his skills as a historian less useful.

Jousting did not begin in England until 1300 AD.

Ray was a big fan of Arthurian lore as a kid.

Women were allowed to be knights in Camelot.

Camelot is a court of equals and Arthur does not want anyone bowing to him.

Stargirl traveled back in time and became Merlin - the wisest adviser of King Arthur.

It is revealed that the final mission of the JSA - referred to by an elderly Obsidian in 205 - was to recover The Spear of Destiny in Leipzig, Germany in 1956. Their mission was joined by Rip Hunter, who told them that the spear could alter reality. They broke the spear into four pieces and Rip took each of the three JSA members - Stargirl, Dr. Mid-Nite and Commander Steel - to a different point in time.

Stargirl used her knowledge of the future to build Camelot up from a middling kingdom and establish King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as guardians of her piece of the Spear of Destiny.

Damien Darhk is revealed to be The Black Knight who is kidnapping the nobles of Camelot.

The mind-controlled King Arthur kills Sir Galahad.

Nate checks the reference book in which he found a woodcut of a knight that resembles Ray in 201. The woodcut now depicts the knight being carried as part of a funeral procession.

Stargirl was entrusted with the spearhead of The Spear of Destiny. She hid it on the tip of The Sword In The Stone, buried within a rock that only a strong man could pull free. Amaya is able to retrieve it by drawing upon the strength of a gorilla.

Stargirl elects to stay behind in Camelot.

Guinevere is apparently a lesbian whose marriage to Arthur was entirely political.

It appears that Sara Lance is the inspiration for Lancealot in the Arthurian legend - the knight who won Guinevere's heart after she married Arthur.

Ray declares that he would rather make his own fate rather than know what the history books say will happen. We see that Nate's manuscript now has a woodcut of Ray being fitted with a crown by a red-haired woman.

Rip Hunter is now prisoner in The Waverider's brig. The final scene reveals, however, that Gideon is still programmed to respond to his commands.


Location

Detroit, USA -3000 AD
Camelot, Britannia - 507 AD
Leipzig, Germany - 1956 AD


The Fridge Factor

Averted right up until the point that we find out Stargirl fell in love with King Arthur and that for all her talk of duty and her oath to protect the Spear of Destiny, her whole motivation was trying to make a perfect kingdom for the man she loved. Granted, she DID an impressive job of building it up, but making it all about a man kinda kills the strong feminist vibe the episode had until that point, with Sara and Amaya taking charge of respective situations, Merlin being a woman, the existence of female knights in Camelot and Guinevere taking command.

On that note, would it kill them for Sara to meet another strong woman and not have a one-night stand with her? It's fast becoming a running gag and encouraging the promiscuous bisexual stereotype.


The Bottom Line

A solid episode despite some out-of-character moments and the feminist subtext being a little dodgy considering other story elements. The historical purists like Nate may groan but this is episode is simply fun.

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 13 - Attack On Gorilla City

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




Plot

When Jesse Quick returns to Earth One seeking help after her father is abducted, Barry, Cisco, Caitlin and Julian travel to Earth Two. They are quickly captured by Grodd, who claims he needs their help to stop Solovar - the leader of a secretive city of super-intelligent gorillas - from launching his own attack to take over Earth One!  Meanwhile,Wally is anxious to get to spend some time with Jesse but there seems to be some kind of wall between them now...


Influences

The Planet of the Apes films (Julian name drops the franchise, the concept of an intelligent ape uprising, the general aesthetic of the Gorilla City sets) and the Indiana Jones films (Julian's explorer outfit.)


Goofs

Tom Cavanagh's voice for when Harry Wells is possessed by Grodd isn't intimidating.

The green-screen work during Barry's "I will not kill him" speech looks a bit off.


Performances

Watching Violett Beane and Keiynan Lonsdale play off of each other is the best part of the episode.


Artistry


The art design on Gorilla City is fantastic.

The CGI for the gorillas is top-notch.


Flash Facts


First appearing in The Flash #106 (April/May 1959), Gorilla City was a technological Utopian society society founded by super-intelligent, telepathic gorillas, who were enhanced by a meteorite. In the original comics, Grodd was originally a rogue member of this society.

Solovar also first appeared in The Flash #106. The progressive leader of the Gorilla City gorillas in the comics, Solovar was respected for his wisdom and his impressive psychic powers. He weathered several attempts by Grodd to overthrow him and usurp control of his people.

Julian lies to Captain Singh, telling him that he and Barry are going to a morphology conference in Bludhaven. In the DC Comics Universe, Bludhaven is a city near Gotham City which was patrolled by the vigilante Nightwing.


Technobabble

Jesse says that she and her father took a week to translate a mathematical cryptogram that was sent to their STAR Labs on Earth Two.


Dialogue Triumphs


Barry: Harry's my friend. I'm not just going to abandon him. I'm going back to Earth Two.
Cisco: And I suppose you'll want somebody to come with you who is going to open those breaches for you?
Barry: We had... so much fun last time!
Cisco: (deadpan) Fun-ish.

(Barry is trying to explain where he is going to Julian, who he needs to cover for him at work. He finally lets the name Grodd slip.)
Julian: Grodd? The telepathic gorilla?
Barry: Yeah.
Julian: Where are you going? Are you going to the Planet of the Apes?!
Barry: No, it's just a city of them.

Jesse: When I first got my power, you were so lost not having yours. And I thought maybe part of the reason you liked me was...you were attracted to speed and not me.
(Wally chuckles.)
Jesse: I know! I know, okay? But... I saw you out there today! Being Kid Flash? You were complete Wally. You were scary complete.
Wally: I could have all the speed in the world. I'm not complete without you.

Barry: Solovar never wanted to attack Central City. You do.
Grodd: You took my home away from me and now I will take it back! The gorillas saw what you did, Flash. They saw you defeat Solovar and now they are afraid of humans and will do anything I order. And I will order them to invade your Earth and your city will burn!
Barry: You were planning this the whole time.
Grodd: Yes. Father taught me well. Always think ahead.

(Cisco proposes his idea that someone kill him to stop Grodd's invasion.)
Julian: He's right. Cisco's death would change the newspaper headline in the future.
Harry: Headline?
Caitlin: It's a long story.
Julian: But it would also make another one come true. The one about Killer Frost...
Caitlin: You want -me- to kill him?
Cisco: Think about it. Grodd doesn't know you have cold powers. You might be able to use them.
Harry: Cold powers? (To Caitlin) You have cold powers? (in revelation, to Cisco) I knew it! I knew that you and I did not get Barry out of that mirror!
Julian: Wait! Caitlin! If you kill someone, there's no going back. You'll be Killer Frost for the rest of your life. Now, I did not come all this way to see that happen!
Caitlin: (incredulous) Did you come here because you "live for danger" or to protect me?
Julian: (putting his emotionless mask back on) I just don't want to see you become something you're not.

HR: When it comes to love. you've got to go for it!  You know? Everything else be damned. Because if you don't, you're gonna end up being the kind of person that lives the rest of their life with regret. And I know that telling your dad that you're switching Earths - that's got to be a difficult conversation to have, but one that you've got to go for if you want to be happy. But - you know -  that's just my opinion. What do I know? I'm just a handsomer guy than your dad, with a song in his heart. Good luck, Jesse.


Continuity

Grodd was last seen in 207 just after being sent through a breach to Earth Two to a sanctuary that Harry Wells said was set up for gorillas who had been mistreated by scientists. Harry Wells also noted that there were talking gorillas on Earth Two.

Barry refers to the news crawl from 310 and the text "City Still Recovering From Gorilla Attack".

Jesse finds out Wally is a speedster now.

The Africa of Earth Two (or, at least, the part where Gorilla City is located) is not hot and has vegetation more consistent with a temperate forest than a tropical jungle.

Grodd is somehow able to repress the powers of Team Flash while they are imprisoned. It is unclear if he is doing this telepathically or if it is a property of the cages.

The Indiana Jones movies apparently exist on Earth Two.

Harry refers to the events of 304 and how they used extreme cold to free Barry from a mirror but it wasn't enough and Caitlin had to finish the job, secretly, with her powers.

Jesse decides to move to Earth One. She and Wally seem to officially become a couple.

Julian asks Caitlin out to dinner.

The final scene show Grodd assembling his armies, talking to Gypsy (or some version of her), telling her that she will open the breaches for him.


Location

Gorilla City on Earth Two.


Untelevised Adventures

How exactly Gypsy winds up under Grodd's control in the final scene.


The Bottom Line

Serviceable but not the slam-dunk one expected from the advertising. The Grodd plot is predictable and most of the cast is given little to do but sit in a jail cell and worry for most of the episode. Given the high-end Silver Age concept, the script is surprisingly joyless and it's Julian of all people who makes the inevitable references to Planet of the Apes. At least the production values are top-notch but the whole episode seems oddly lifeless.

Injustice: Ground Zero #21 - A Review

As Barry Allen makes a fateful decision in the wake of Shazam's death, Harley Quinn has a question of her own to ponder - what do I do with myself next? A visit from an old friend and lover may give her some guidance and a new direction for herself and The Harley Horde.


This is a particularly strong issue of Injustice: Ground Zero. Seeing the events of the game from Harley's perspective, as they are presented in this issue, makes them feel brand new. Harley's insights into Barry Allen's character show her intelligence and insight - a welcome change of pace given how she's usually written as a bimbo. Then again, showing Harley's brains has been par for the course in Christopher Sebela's excellent scripts for this series and it's gratifying to see him also touch upon the Harley/Ivy relationship here, however briefly.


Marco Santucci proves a good choice for handling the art for this issue. Santucci's detail-drive style excels in bringing out the best of the intimate scenes that take up most of this chapter. The vibrant colors of J. Nanjan provide the perfect finishes to Santucci's pencils and inks.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 33

In which we marvel at the beauty of Skyrim and just what we see in the reflections of the water as we make our way to yet another bandit camp that needs clearing-out.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 13 - Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk

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




Plot

Just as Mon-El and Kara confessed their attraction to one another, they found themselves bewitched by a strange magical man who professed his own love for Kara. Taking her rejection as a challenge, this so-called Mister Mxzyptlk launches a campaign of chaos on National City, intending to make Supergirl into Mrs. Mxyzptlk! At the same time, Winn finds love with an alien woman and Alex tries to figure out just why Maggie doesn't want to celebrate Valentine's Day.


Influences

The Supergirl comics of Sterling Gates (lots of references to Krypton and Kryptonian culture), Action Comics #291 - The Bride Of Mr. Mxyzptlk!, Disney's Aladdin (Mxyzptlk sings part of the song A Whole New World, the rules for what Mxyzptlk can do with his magic are similar to the rules governing genies), the stage musical Hamilton (Mxyzptlk puts himself and Mon-El on a stage, dressed as Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, for their duel), the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Mxyzptlk quotes Willy Wonka while wearing a purple coat), various Superman cartoons and comics featuring Mister Mxyzptlk and various Supergirl stories where the villain wants to marry Supergirl and makes threats to force her to do so.


Goofs

As funny as Kara drinking orange juice is, Mxyzptlk said he couldn't force someone to drink it. That doesn't mean he can't stop them from drinking it. (Based on his expression as he watches Kara drinking, maybe he can't?)

While the characters seen in the hologram after Mxyzptlk spells his name backwards do come from the official Kryptonian Alphabet, they do not spell out Kltpzyxm. Instead they spell out "DJEP9TZW" (I freely admit to this being nit-picky, but why use the symbols at all if you aren't going to use the correct ones?!)


Performances


Peter Gadiot proves a perfectly playful Mxyzptlk, finding the perfect balance between being amusing and annoying, thus portraying Mxyzptlk as an overgrown kid pulling on the pigtails of a girl he likes rather than a psychotic stalker.

As per usual, the chemistry between Chris Wood and Melissa Benoist is one of the episode's best features.


Artistry


The CGI effects for Mxyzptlk's magic are some of the best this series has seen, from the blue sparkle effects when he works a spell to the scene where Kara has to fight a giant crystal statue of her uncle.

While I usually abhor covers of classic rock songs, the cover of The Police's Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic played under the final scene of Mon-El and Kara together is rather nice and the perfect song for the scene.


Super Trivia


This episode was co-written by Sterling Gates, who wrote the Adventures of Supergirl tie-in comic based on the first season of the Supergirl TV series. He also wrote the Supergirl series right before the New 52 reboot and is generally considered to be the best writer to handle the character's monthly exploits in the past 15 years.

The basic idea of this episode seems to have been taken from Action Comics #291 (August 1962) - The Bride Of Mr. Mxyzptlk! This comic marked Supergirl's first encounter with the 5th Dimensional Imp in the comics and, as in this episode, his scheme is to force Supergirl marry him.

Mr. Mxyzptlk first appeared in Superman #30 (September 1944). His specific backstory and appearance have changed over time but his point of origin has remained consistent. As a being born of The Fifth Dimension, Mr. Mxyzptlk has the power to alter the third-dimensional realm at will. This power has been described as magical and is capable of affecting Superman, regardless on whether or not it might be considered "true" magic. In any event, Mr. Mxyzptlk is mischievous but not evil and usually only plays around with Superman out of boredom or to challenge himself.

Mxyzptlk is pronounced Mix-Yes-Spit-Lick.

In the comics, the only way to get rid of Mr. Mxzyptlk was to trick him into saying, writing or otherwise spelling his name backwards - Kltpzyxm.

Kltpzyxm is pronounced Kill-Tip-Seize-Um.

In the DCTVU, Mr. Mxyzptlk has apparently never encountered Superman. His appearance here is the first recoreded instance of a Fifth Dimensional being on Earth apart from various legends involving genies, djinns, leprechauns and other creatures capable of altering reality with magic and wishes. The rule about getting him to say his name backwards also applies but it is, as Mon-El notes, much more trouble than it is worth if you don't have issues with just killing them.

Mr. Mxyzptlk says that there is no one "as brave or bold" as Kara where he comes from. The Brave And The Bold is,a classic DC Comic series devoted to team-up stories.

J'onn makes a reference to The Zook Uprising on Mars. In the Silver Age Martian Manhunter comics, Zook was the name of an alien being who acted as a pet/sidekick to J'onn J'onzz. Zook was a creature that resembled a cartoonish dog, who had the powers of temperature manipulation (he could freeze or super-heat objects he touched), limited shape-shifting abilities and he could track anyone whom he had met before, no matter how they had disguised themselves.

In the 1998 Martian Manhunter comic series, Zook was the name of a Martian plant that could be fashioned into clothing that could shapeshift in tandem with a Martian.

In the first scene at the bar, Winn is drinking Lallorian Lager. The planet Lallor comes from the Legion of Super-Heroes comics, where in the 30th century Lallor is ruled by a dictatorship. The planet had its own superhero team - The Heroes of Lallor - who fought against tyranny and worked alongside The Legion of Super-Heroes on several adventures.

Lyra Strayd says that she is from the world of Starhaven. In the DC Comics universe, Starhaven is a fictional planet near the core of the Milky Way Galaxy and home to the Legion of Super-Heroes member Dawnstar.

Winn claims to have translated a book from Starhaven called "The Book of The Ten-Pointed Star". Ten-pointed stars are a frequent motif in both Islamic artwork and Freemasonry.

The duel scene in which Mxyzptlk teleports himself and Mon-El to fight for Kara on a theater stage dressed as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr is a nod to the musical Hamilton.

Mon-El swears to Rao that he will listen to Kara in the future. Rao is the name of a Kryptonian deity - a god of light and life, similar in scope to the Egyptian sun god Ra. It is also the name of the red star which Krypton (and in the DCTVU, Daxam) orbited.

Kara threatens to kill herself by blowing up the Atomic Cauldron of The Fortress of Solitude. In the original comics, The Atomic Cauldron was the power source of the Fortress of Solitude. The most powerful furnace on Earth, the Atomic Cauldron ran on liquefied Sunstone crystals.

Mxyzptlk makes a reference to Thoni Tea. In the original comics, Thon was an area of Krypton and tea was brewed from select plants on the hills on the Gorvan shore.


Technobabble


One of the items Winn finds in the DEO basement tests off the charts in 5th Dimensional Energy. He has no idea what it would do to Mr. Mxyzptlk and can't analyze it further until a spectrometer finishes updating. This will take six hours.

The device is later revealed to have the power to cut a 5th Dimensional being off from their home dimension, effectively making them powerless.

According to Kara, the Atomic Cauldron of The Fortress of Solitude is one of the most powerful fusion furnaces on Earth. She can overload the Suntones at its core, creating an explosion equivalent to a 400-megaton bomb. This is roughly equivalent to 30,000 of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.

The shields of The Fortress of Solitude are strong enough to contain a 400 megaton blast. Anyone inside the Fortress, however - even a Kryptonian - would be completely vaporized.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Mxyzptlk waves his hand. Suddenly Kara is in a fancy white wedding gown.)
Kara: What is - ? Are you crazy? You cannot just put me in a wedding dress!
Mxyzptlk: Why not? It's Vera Wang!

Kara: I'm flattered... but I'm not going to marry you, Mxyzptlk.
Mxyzptlk: You know, it's funny. I'm all-seeing and all-powerful but that's one of the few things I can't make you do. That and make you fall in love with me and/or stop you from killing yourself and/or make you drink orange juice, for some reason! Everything else, yes, but go figure.

(Mxyzptlk has just anchored three robbers in place and turned their own guns upon them. Kara moves at super-speed to catch the bullets.)
Robber: Thank you, Supergirl!
(Kara looks annoyed and throws an elbow back, knocking the robber out.)

(Alex wants to celebrate Valentine's Day but isn't sure how to deal with Maggie's hatred of it.)
Kara: Okay Okay. So the trimmings aren't her style, but you can celebrate your own way. What kind of stuff does she like?
Alex: I dunno? Guns?
(Kara makes a face that suggests this is the last thing in the world she'd equate with romance.)
Kara: ... anything else?
Alex: She loves scotch!

Mon-El: Oh... I'm sorry that I was busy, uh, defending your honor!
Kara: (freezing in place, turning around, furious) I am not some damsel in distress! I am Supergirl! I can defend myself! And more importantly...  I told you I was handling it!
Mon-El: Well, Kara sometimes you're not a good judge of what you can handle, so... (shrugs and claps his hands) there it is.
Kara: Really?!
Mon-El: Yes.
Kara: Is that why you didn't tell me that the secret to getting Mixxie off Earth was to get him to say his name backwards? Because you didn't think I could handle it?
Mon-El: No. I didn't tell you that because it never works! Because first of all, it's hard enough to say it forward. And second of all, that guy is a motor-mouth but he's not stupid!

Winn: I need a relationship pearl.
Mon-El: Yeah, uh... things were a lot easier on Daxam when I objectified women and didn't care about anyone. So...

(Mon-El and Mxyzptlk are fist-fighting in the aisle of a theater.)
Mon-El: How could you think she'd ever want to be with someone like you?
Mxyzptlk: Why? You think she's going to be with you?! Face it!  What have you got to offer her? I can give her everything. There's no contest between you and me and you know it! I'm a god and you're a loser.
(Mon-El steps in and grabs Mxyzptlk by the throat.)
Mon-El: You're a dead man.
Mxyzptlk: Strike that. (holds up the power-draining device that he just pick-pocketed off Mon-El) Reverse it.
(Mxyzptlk grins and presses the button on the device. Suddenly, Mon-El is chained up above the stage and Mxyzptlk is below him, holding a pistol.)

(Mxyzptlk teleports into the Fortress of Solitude. He is wearing a tuxedo and holding a bottle of champagne.)
Mxyzptlk: (sing-song voice) Kara, darling? Where arrrrrrrree yooooooou? It's time! Kara?  You said noon! And here I am! (angrier) Kara!
Supergirl: (landing behind him) I can hear you.
(Supergirl is holding a glass of orange juice, which she takes her time drinking and savoring.)
Mxyzptlk: Where's the dress?  The flowers? The pigs in blankets?
(Supergirl hmms and holds up a finger, continuing to drink for about three seconds before stopping, melodramatically smacking her lips and sighing with satisfaction.)
Supergirl: See, that's the thing, Mixxie... I'm not going to marry you.

Mxyzptlk: No!  You made me write my name backwards!
Supergirl: Yep. On some planets to write something down is to truly say it.
Mxyzptlk: You tricked me!
Supergirl: No. No, I followed the rules. You say your name backwards. You go back to The Fifth Dimension. No questions asked.
Mxyzptlk: That's it! You nasty woman! Now I'm going to-
(Mxyzptlk snaps his fingers. Nothing happens... until his hand suddenly dissolves into glowing blue mist.)
Mxyzptlk: No! It's started...
(Mxyazptlk looks up to Supergirl, sadly.)
Mxyzptlk: I just wanted... I wanted someone to love me.
Supergirl: You can't force love, Mxyzptlk. You have to let it find you.

Lyra: I didn't think you'd call.
Winn: Why? Last night was... like, beyond amazing on just so many levels.
Lyra: I figured it was a one-time thing for you. An experience. I've never met a human that was actually up for dating an alien.
Winn: Well, now you have. (chuckles) Look, I'm not naive, okay? I know that there are lots of people who don't think that humans and aliens should mix. If we're being super honest, I... potentially falling for an alien is not what scares me. It's falling for anyone. Just have... kind of... had my heart trampled on a few times.
Lyra: Me too.
Winn: Lyra...you aren't like some experience to me, okay? You are a potentially... real, fulfilling, challenging relationship and that's... that's just way too much chaos. That's too fast. (makes a back-pedaling gesture) Whoo-hoo. Just gonna... uh...heh. Um... what do you say we just take it slow?
Lyra: Sure.
Winn: Okay.
(Winn smiles. Lyra reaches across the table and takes Winn's hands.)
Lyra: (whispering) Slow. (pauses) Take me to where you live.
Winn: Yes. Ma'am.

Mon-El: I get that you were upset that I wasn't listening to you. And I... I tried really, really, really hard to listen to you this time. And I heard that you..  you don't think that we belong together, and I respected that.
Kara: No, but... Mixxie wasn't the only one that I tricked.
Mon-El: What do you mean?
Kara: I just said it so you'd let me go. To protect you. Plus, he could have been listening, so...
(Kara moves away from Mon-El and starts walking across the room,)
Mon-El: Wait, so... you didn't mean any of that stuff that you said?
Kara: Well, the first bit about your infurating male ego? That part I meant.
Mon-El: Okay, okay....
Kara: But the second part? About us not being a match? I didn't mean that.
Mon-El: (impressed) Wow. No, you're good. You're good.
Kara: (smiling) Well...
Mon-El: (nodding) Well, you... got rid of Mixxie.
Kara: (nodding) I did.
Mon-El: That means nothing is... nothing is stopping us.
Kara: Nope. Nothing is stopping us.
(The two look at each other before falling into each other's arms and kissing passionately.  Mon-El lowers Kara onto the couch and the two continue kissing as we focus on two red roses in the foreground.)


Dialogue Disasters


Mxyzptlk: You don't get to tell me what to do until after we're married!


Continuity


Mister Mxyzptlk claims to be all-seeing and all-powerful but his magic does have limits. He cannot make someone marry him, fall in love with him, stop them from killing themselves and/or (for some reason) force them to drink orange juice.

J'onn encountered a 5th Dimensional Being once on Mars. That being moved the Xan'Xie mountains halfway across the planet during the Zook Uprising.

Mon-El says Daxam had contact with The 5th Dimension and had a zero-tolerance policy regarding 5th Dimensional Beings being allowed on the planet. He says 5th Dimensional Beings knew how to party but were very dangerous. To that end, the preferred method of dealing with a 5th Dimensional Being on Daxam is to slay them as quickly as possible - preferably via crushing.

Martians celebrate a custom similar to Valentines Day, where written messages are sent to loved ones.

Since Martians are a telepathic species and thoughts were easily exchanged between them, important and intimate communications were written down as a symbolic gesture. J'onn notes that on some planet (Mars among them) it is believed that to write something down is to truly say it.

Maggie's usual breakfast is a seasame seed bagel, dry, double toasted with black coffee. Alex feels this is gross.

Alex is 28.

Eliza Danvers makes a big deal out of Valentine's Day and sends her daughters cards to honor it.

Maggie hates Valentine's Day. Alex loves it .

Winn's drink of choice is Lallorian Lager. Reportedly it is considered a drink for weak-willed idiots.

The woman who saves Winn in the bar is named Lyra Strayd. She is from Starhaven, which was mentioned in 114, where Kara noted that she had visited the planet as a young girl and that the air smells like cinnamon. Apparently she told this story to Winn at some point.

A blight came to Starhaven which apparently destroyed the cinnamon smell.

Winn translated a passage from a book from Starhaven called "The Book of The Ten-Pointed Star" - "The hurt of one is the hurt of all. The honor of one is the honor of all." Lyra says that her father read to her from that book every night when she was a child.

Maggie likes guns, scotch, tiramisu and bonsai trees.

The Parasite - last seen in 206 - appears as one of Mxyzptlk's illusions.

A Fifth Dimensional Being can be forced to return to their home dimension if they are made to say their name backwards.

Mon-El is on a first-name basis with a DEO agent named Dana.

Maggie Sawyer was lying in 206 when she said her family was comfortable with her coming out. The truth is that she fell for a friend named Elisa Wilkey when she was 14. The two watched horror movies and smoked cigarettes in private together. On Valentine's Day, Maggie gave her a card with a note about how she felt. Elisa gave that card to her parents, who called Maggie's parents.  Maggie was kicked out of the house that day and had to go live with an aunt for the next three years. This is why Maggie hates Valentine's Day.

Winn makes reference to getting reservations for a certain restaurant being more difficult than getting a Hellgramite to eat leafy greens. Kara fought a Hellgramite in 102, where it was revealed that they were chlorine-based lifeforms that the only things on Earth they could eat safely were certain chemical compounds such as DDT.

Winn grew up in Newark, New Jersey.

Winn and Lyra spend Valentine's Day together. They agree to try and start a relationship together.

Maggie sets up a "Valentine's Day prom" for Alex to make up for screwing up her Valentine's Day plan.

The episode ends with Mon-El and Kara making out on her couch.


Location


The Fortress of Solitude.


The Bottom Line


A perfect Valentine's Day special, hampered only slightly by the fact that it aired the week after Valentine's Day. But why quibble? Kara and Mon-El are finally together and the other romantic subplots all work perfectly. It's nice to see Maggie (for once) admitting to a misstep in her relationship with Alex after several episodes with Alex being the one to make things weird. The Winn subplot surprised me in that I was sure his new lady friend was probably going to be a black widow and lay her eggs in him after mating.  And heaven help us, they made Mxyzptlk work in live action. Sterling Gates needs to write more episodes of this show.

Starman Plays Gabriel Knight: Sins Of The Fathers (20th Anniversary Edition) - Part 1

In which I briefly discuss the original Gabriel Knight: Sins of The Fathers and its famous (if somewhat strangely cast) voice-actors. From there we give credit where credit is due, I explore the new interface (along with St. George's Books) and we get to know our "hero" Gabriel Knight - womanizer, asshole and occasional author.


Want to see what started it all?  Check out Centaur Productions'  Gabriel Knight Let's Play

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lucifer #15 - A Review

Even The Devil has his limits and Lucifer only has so many hours in the day to directly work on every aspect of the new war on Heaven and the new free-will hating God. To that end he enlists the help of a chain-smoking ex-beauty queen turned magus named Arabelle Crane in locating the long lost heart of the archangel Gabriel. Elsewhere, Gabriel searches for his lost brother Raphael alongside Raphael's lover - vagrant teen Lorin Hammon - as Lorin's friend Lula heads west in search of him.


Lucifer was already awash with subplots and my summary above ignores some of what this issue covers. Let it not be said that Richard Kadrey thinks small!  He continues on from where Holly Black started, yet has begun to add into the tale himself with this issue's reintroduction of Lula into the action of the story and Arabelle Crane a.k.a. "I Can't Believe It's Not Constantine!" The book is still as engaging as ever, thankfully, despite the new management.


The art team continues to flourish. Lucifer remains one of Vertigo's most atmospheric titles, with Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela continuing to impress me with every passing issue. This is another must-read series for all fans of the classic Vertigo Universe and anyone anxious to see more done with the characters created by Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis and Mike Carey.

Aquaman #17 - A Review

With a rough peace established with The United States, Arthur Curry can now pursue the next step of his plan to improve relations between Atlantis and the surface world - winning the United Nation's recognition as an allied nation. Unfortunately, his diplomatic mission is interrupted by the emergence of Warhead - a cybernetic being who can control people and weapons systems in the same way that Aquaman "talks" to aquatic life...


This may be the second part of this story but this is still a fantastic first issue for new readers. Dan Abnett's script does a good job of setting up the premise and explaining Aquaman's current goals. What really sells this issue, however, is the battle with Warhead, who is easily one of best and most original ideas for a super-villain in sometime.

The action of the issue is ably illustrated by Scot Eaton and Wayne Faucher. Together they are one of the strongest inker and artist teams working in modern comics and Gabe Eltaeb's colors provide the perfect finishes to one of the best looking books on the stands.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #10 - A Preview/Review

The Ninth Doctor, Rose, Jack and Tara head to Brazil on the next stop of their trans-temporal mystery tour. The Iara have long been thought a Brazilian myth but when these unearthly merfolk prove to be aquatic aliens making an unscheduled stop on planet Earth, the TARDIS team must establish their intentions and broker peace across the water barrier!




The second and final chapter of Slaver's Song proves a satisfying conclusion to one of the most interesting Doctor Who stories in recent memory. The setting of 17th century Brazil is novelty enough to set this apart from the countless stories set in modern-day London but Cavan Scott's script (based on a story by Scott and artist Adriana Melo) features a fair amount of dramatic irony as conquistador slavers suddenly find themselves fighting aliens of a similar mindset to their own.

Adriana Melo's artwork is somewhat erratic in this outing, with some panels where the inks seem too heavily applied and a few odd facial expressions. Still, the action is well choreographed and Marco Lesko's colors suitably eye-catching throughout.


Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #10 releases on March 1, 2016. 
Ask for it at your local comic shop or purchase it on Comixology.com.

Green Arrow #17 - A Review

Seattle's new mayor is under the control of the criminal syndicate known as The Ninth Circle. Green Arrow's one ally among the police of Seattle lies dead and The Emerald Outlaw has been framed for the murder! Thankfully he is not without allies but even as he recruits an idealistic reporter in his war on the forces that stole his company and his life as Oliver Queen, Green Arrow's greatest enemy - the assassin Merlyn - approaches him with a sadistic choice...


Otto Schmidt is back on the art duties this time around and in fine form for the most part. The action sequences are well-paced and even the few sedate scenes of people just talking have an inherent intensity. The only glitch is some oddities in the faces of Seattle's new mayor and the Ninth Circle member who is handling him.


I've noted before how well writer Benjamin Percy has been drawing upon the classic Green Arrow mythos - particularly the stories of Mike Grell. This issue sees him trying to introduce some elements of the Malcolm Merlyn/Oliver Queen relationship from the TV Series Arrow into the narrative. The actual execution, however, seems closer to Norman Osborn and Peter Parker in the first Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man movie, with Merlyn attempting to turn Oliver into the heir he wanted.

How well this change will play out remains to be seen. Personally, I find it an odd development given Percy's stated desires in the past to keep Green Arrow as a series separate from Arrow. It's particularly strange given the deus ex machina at the end of the issue involving a supporting character whose presence in the series I've questioned.

Regardless, this is still the best Green Arrow series in years... even if it does leave me frustrated at times as a reader and fan.


Starman Plays The Pandora Directive (Mission Street) - Part 9

The Thrilling Conclusion! Will Tex Murphy uncover the secrets of the ancient astronauts? Will Tex save the world again? Will Tex get the girl of his dreams?

(SPOILER: Yes. This is the good ending, after all!)


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Batwoman: Rebirth #1 - A Review

There's surprisingly little to Batwoman #1 - at least compared to the Detective Comics two-parter from last month which set-up this series. With the exception of the last few pages, this entire comic is devoted to retelling Kate Kane's life story and how she became Batwoman. Thankfully Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV weave an engaging origin story that will hold the interest of those already familiar with Kate's history while enrapturing those discovering her for the first time.


The artwork matches the script in quality and tone. Steve Epting - most famous for his work with Ed Brubaker on Captain America - provides the perfect sense of gravitas necessary in depicting the highs and lows of Kate's life. Colorist Jeromy Cox finishes each page perfectly, with a red and black motif prevalent through the book for obvious reasons.

All in all this is one fantastic book that is sure to be a hit with Batwoman fans everywhere.

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 - A Review

In the wake of the Justice League's battle with The Suicide Squad, Batman has come to realize the power of redemption and the need for heroes to act as a source of inspiration rather than mere peacekeepers. To that end, he has begun assembling a team, starting with a reformed Killer Frost. Their mission? To show that anyone can be a hero.

I missed this book the week it came out and I really did miss out! This first issue does little beyond introducing our cast and setting up some of the conflicts between the various volatile personalities. Standard fare for a superhero team book, of course, but Steve Orlando's command of the personalities in play makes this engaging reading despite the standard set-up.

The artwork proves equally amazing. This is no surprise given the creative team involved. I've been a big fan of Ivan Reis since his work on Green Lantern. His work with Oclair Albert and Joe Prado on the New 52 Justice League book was fantastic and it is good to see Marcelo Maiolo - whose colors were one of the few bright spots (no pun intended) of the New 52 Green Arrow series - at work again.

This book hooked me with the first issue. Hopefully it will prove as engaging once the plot kicks in.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 32

In which we start off fighting a dragon, loot a witch's hovel, clear an old iron mine of the bandits using it as a hide-out and check up on our friends in Riverwood.


Arrow Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 13 - Spectre Of The Gun

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



Plot

Tensions continue to build in The Bunker in the wake of Rory Regan's departure. Things get worse when an attack on Star City Hall reminds Rene Ramirez of the family he lost and why he became a vigilante. Meanwhile, Oliver works to identify the attacker and realizes that this may be a job for Mayor Oliver Queen to solve rather than The Green Arrow.


Influences

The comics of John Ostrander (particularly Batman: Seduction Of The Gun) and the Green Arrow comics of Elliot S! Maggin (particularly What Can One Man Do?). Oliver Queen dealing with the political and social ramifications of an act of injustice fit neatly into the oeuvre of both writers.


Goofs

After two hours of trying to find specific numbers matching the statistics quoted by various characters in this episode, I decided not to bother. It's a different universe so the statistics regarding the ineffectiveness of federal assault rifle bans or the odds of a black man dying of gun violence could be entirely different than in our reality. I apologize for those who came here looking for sources regarding this debate but you're probably better off checking a news site than a comic book and TV review blog for that sort of thing.


Performances

Much like how we didn't realize how much we missed Paul Blackthorne until last week's episode, this episode makes us remember how awesome Willa Holland is as Thea Queen in all her snarky glory.

Juliana Harkavy continues to impress as Dinah Drake. Her scene with Diggle here is a brief one but it's impressive how she and David Ramsey have built a strong relationship between the two on the basis of a few brief scenes over the last two episodes.

Stephen Amell rarely gets to show strength to Oliver Queen's character outside of his Green Arrow persona. (And yes, there IS a difference between the two.) This episode shows us something of the Oliver Queen from the comics in Amell's performance - the rebel with a cause imagined by Dennis O'Neil who tried to be a man of peace yet found himself utilizing violence more often than he liked.

While giving surprisingly little to do given all the subplots in this episode, the flashbacks to Wild Dog's past give the character some much needed development and Rick Gonzalez does a damn good job showing Rene Ramirez before tragedy changed him.


Artistry

The opening pre-logo scene, showing the shooter assembling his arsenal is well-shot and effectively blocked with quick fades to black and sinister music.

The sequence with the active shooter is shockingly grim and realistic, with none of the over-the-top elements that occasionally filter into the larger-than-life fights on this show. This one is all the more powerful for how sedately it is directed and shot.

The flashbacks to Rene's past seem to have a semi-sepia filter that put a subtle brown-red hue over the scenes. These scenes also seem to be more dimly lit - a stylistic choice that makes the scenes stand out all the more compared to the scenes set in the present.

The script for this episode is one of Marc Guggenheim's strongest. He doesn't suggest any easy answers while tackling a serious issue in the proud Green Arrow tradition and presents a wide range of viewpoints and arguments without taking any sides beyond the general idea that we must do something regardless of where we fall on the freedom vs. security spectrum.


Trivia

The episode opens with a warning that this episode was rated TV-14 LV for mature themes, language and violence, which may not be suitable for all audiences members. While most Arrow episodes are rated TV-14, this warning was presumably added due to the realism of the active shooter scene.

Coincidentally - given this episode's message regarding responsible gun ownership - it aired on the same day that the US Senate voted to repeal a law that made it illegal to sell guns to people with a history of mental illness.

This episode shares its title with an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. The plot of the Star Trek episode involved the members of a diplomatic away team being forced into a psychic illusion of Tombstone, Arizona pulled from Captain Kirk's mind.

This episode reveals that Adrian Chase is a married man with a wife named Doris. In the original Vigilante comics, Doris Chase was the name of Adrian Chase's wife, whose death (along with those of his children) spurred his taking on the identity of Vigilante.

Rene and Curtis quibble over the use of the terms "gun control" vs. "gun violence"  and "assault weapon" vs. "rifle". These are frequent points of terminology conflict in real world debates on the issues of guns and gun safety.

When describing the one apartment she liked that she looked at, Dinah mentions that it had a backyard garden. In the comics, Dinah Drake loved flowers and was a florist by trade.


Technobabble

The pistol that Rene carries for personal protection in his civilian identity is a 9 mm.

The gunman's primary weapon was an AR-15 firing 5.66 NATO rounds.


Dialogue Triumphs

Ollie: A lot to catch up on.
Thea: Yeah. Like you and Susan Williams?
(Ollie stops dead in his track, his expression suddenly dead humorless.)
Thea: People talk, Ollie. And uh, some people vomit a little.

(Rene moves to his bedroom closet and begins punching numbers into a digital gun safe.)
Laura: Woah. What do you think you're doing?
Rene: Stadium's in The Glades, babe. In like the worst part of the worst part of town.
(Laura scoffs.)
Rene: I brought it with me the last time I took Zoe-
LauraSo you're admitting you broke the rule?
Rene: Kinda what I do, babe.
Laura: The only reason I agreed to let you keep that thing in the house is because you said we needed it for home protection.
Rene: Right, but-
Laura:As in, stays in the home. Now, hurry up. You guys are going to be late.
Rene: I thought we were going as a family?
Laura:(sighs) I have a headache.
Rene: Oh yeah?
(Laura nods, as he looks at her suspiciously.)
Rene: You taking something stronger than aspirin for that headache?
Laura: You got something you want to say to me, Rene?
Rene: I guess I do. (pauses) Are you using again?
(Gunshots fire as we dissolve back to the present, where Rene is hiding behind a column, pistol in his hands.)

Thea: (To Rene) What were you doing with a gun in here?
Rene: Judging by how I tagged the guy? I've got to go with saving people's lives.

Curtis: This is military grade hardware!
John: AR-15 assault weapon. It fires 5.56 NATO rounds.
Curtis: It's an M16! It is -literally- the same gun as an M16!
Felicity: Seems like some of Tobias Church's ordanance got into the wrong hand... wronger hands.
Dinah: Not necessarily. It's an AR-15. It's available on the open market. (shrugs) In fact, it's the most popular gun in America.
Curtis: (sarcastically) The Land of The Free and Home of The Incredibly Stupid.
Felicity: We are not having this conversation, now or ever, guys.

Quentin: Listen, I've been police most of my adult life.  I should have been able to spot that guy 1000 yards out.
Rene: Don't go there man, alright? What happened wasn't your fault.
Quentin: I heard you got a few shots off.
Rene: Yeah and I would have put him down, too, if he wasn't wearing body armor.
Quentin: Listen - weren't you dishonorably discharged?
Rene: (deadpan) Not for my aim, hoss.
Quentin: My point is it's illegal for someone such as yourself to carry a firearm.
Rene: But it's pretty easy to buy one, though.
Quentin: (scoffs) Wow.

Curtis: I don't have any problem with your right to bear arms so long as it doesn't interfere with my right to - you know? - live!
Rene: Are you kidding me?! Look at what we do, man! Our whole life is violence!
Curtis: I'm not talking about what we do to protect the city! I'm talking about the fact that, as a black man, I am three times more likely to be killed by a gun than you!
Quentin: He's got a point, Rene.
Rene: Seriously?! You were a cop, man!
Quentin: Yeah. And cops would kinda like it if there were less people out there with guns.
Dinah: Not this cop. I mean, people have a right to protect themselves.

(Vigilante guns down the gangster Green Arrow was questioning.)
Green Arrow: (drawing an arrow) Don't. Move.
Vigilante: I'm doing you a favor! One less criminal on the streets!
Green Arrow: Cold-blooded murder! You're the criminal!
Vigilante: I'm you! The only difference between us is I use a more efficient weapon!

Councilwoman: Yes, I'm against any registry that gives the government the opportunity to keep tabs on specific sectors of the population.
Oliver: The DMV keeps a list of driver's licenses.
Councilwoman: It's not a constitutional right to drive a car, Mr. Mayor. You know, people such as yourself oppose limitations on things like abortion, freedom of speech. Why is the Second Amendment somehow less important in your eyes than the other nine in The Bill of Rights?
Oliver: Because people are dying, Councilwoman! Right here in this building! And there are limitations on abortion and freedom of speech. (pauses) Both my parents are dead. My friend Tommy was a... he was one of the 503 killed in The Undertaking. Laurel Lance was my friend. Nobody respects the rights of someone to protect themselves and the people that they care for more than me. But everything in life comes with limitations. Everything.
Councilwoman: Why are you telling me this?
Oliver: Because you and I are going to sit in this office until we figure out a reasonable set of limitations that respects everyone's rights.

Dinah: You know? Just forget it. It's so stupid.
John: Dinah, I work with Oliver Queen. Please try me.

Curtis: We used to talk about things as a society, you know? We'd debate and we would argue and we would still respect each other after.
Felicity: Yeah. Somewhere along the line that just became...
Curtis: Rude? Yeah. It became impolitic to talk politics.  I can't help but wondering that maybe that's why our country is the way it is today.

Rene: Guns save lives. Period.
Curtis: You just want to think that.
Rene: No, that's what I know. Because if I'd had my gun, my wife would still be alive.

Oliver: Don't do this.
Edlund: Get back!
Oliver: You had another chance to shoot me at City Hall. You didn't do it. Because you need me to enact the Star City Gun Registry. I mean, that's what all this is about, right? You want to punish the city because we failed to protect your family.
(Oliver is slowly moving forward as he speaks. The SWAT teams run into the hall and surround them but Oliver motions them back. One they've stopped, he continues moving.)
Oliver: Mr. Edlund... I - I checked. The man who killed your family? He accquired those guns illegally. There's nothing that we could have done. No - no - no registry would have helped us protect them.
Edlund: I know. I was supposed to protect them. Isn't that a man's job? To protect his family? Isn't that why we have guns?! My wife and daughters were innocent!
Oliver:  I can understand why you're angry-
Edlund: We're all angry! We're all so angry... all the time. So why shouldn't I use this?! Why shouldn't I kill everyone?! Put us all out of our damn misery?!
Oliver:  Mr. Edlund... that's not your call to make. Yeah, I mean, people are angry. And we're hurting. And we're lashing out. And I can understand that it feels like it's getting worse every day. But what you're doing is not the answer! The people that you hurt? The seven people that are dead? My friend... they were innocent too.
(Edlund starts to sob.)
Edlund:You're right.
(Edlund puts his pistol to his own head.)
Edlund:And I deserve to be punished.
Oliver:  Hey, Hey, Hey... Look, James. You've got to think about your wife and your daughters.
Edlund: (sobbing) I -AM- thinking about them!
Oliver:  I know that you want this pain to go away. And I know that you want to be with your family again. But if you want them to live on? It has to be through you. That's the only way.
(Edlund starts to sway erratically.)
Oliver:  James.  Give me the gun.  Please?
(Edlund hands Oliver the gun. Oliver steps out of the way as the SWAT team moves in, cuff Edlund and pull him away. Oliver is left alone in the hospital hallway, a gun in his hand.)


Continuity

Dinah can hold her own in a fight against John, when he is armed with escrima sticks and she has a bo staff.

Dinah's first undercover assignment as a cop was infiltrating a gang called The Pilgrims. It was here she learned how to use a bo staff.

As of this episode, Dinah is living inside the old HIVE base in Star City - the same place John lived during his time on the run.

Felicity tracks Claybourne's mistress (aka probably Prometheus' mother) to Illinois using information from The Pandora Cache.

Rene Ramirez is officially hired on as the Deputy Mayor's Assistant.

The gunman has a bag with a Forefather Repairs logo on it.

The first result of the gunman's attack is five dead and 24 wounded, with 8 of the wounded in critical condition. DA Adrian Chase is one of the wounded.

Rene's pistol is a 9 mm.

The gunman's primary weapon was an AR-15 - a commercially available semi-automatic rifle.

The gunman was skilled enough to avoid the security cameras until he had a mask on, has no prior record (or removed his fingerprints from the record) and apparently bought a workman's jumpsuit on-line so he could get into the building with a work bag unnoticed.

Rene' and his wife, Laura, grew up in The Glades together. Laura was a drug addict. We don't hear what Rene did in the past but Laura says he has no room to judge her for being an addict. He says that for all he's done he's never done drugs.

Two of the wounded in critical condition die on the operating table. We are told they were Kyle in commerce and Paula in accounting.

Ollie suspects there will be another attack because if this was meant to be a one-time thing, the attacker wouldn't have bothered concealing his identity or have fled the scene of the crime.

AR-15's are the weapon of choice for the Bertinelli crime family. Over 90% of their hits in the previous year used one.

There are no national gun registration databases in the DCTVU.

Felicity identifies the shooter as a 44 year old systems analyst with no prior criminal record named James Edlund. He was the married father of two daughters - 9 and 11 - until the Crosspoint Mall Shooting 16 months earlier, when his entire family was killed.

The death tally of The Crosspoint Mall Shooting was 18 dead, 12 injured with one of them living as a quadriplegic.

Edlund was a vocal proponent of a proposed local gun control ordinance called the SCGR - Star City Gun Registry. The previous city leadership stopped it from passing.

Rene lost his wife after her drug dealer took her hostage at gun point in their home. While he was able to retrieve his gun and shoot the drug dealer, his wife died after the drug dealer's gun hit the floor and went off. His daughter Zoe was then taken away from him and put into foster care, with Rene being denied any visitation rights due to his home being an "unsafe environment".

It is revealed that Rene was inspired to become a vigilante after seeing a news report about The Green Arrow killing Damien Darhk. He took the hockey mask and jersey that he wore to take his daughter to hockey games as his costume.

The Star City hockey franchise is The Dogs.

Curtis offers to have a lawyer friend help Rene get back custody of his daughter.

Dinah moves into a studio apartment with a garden in the backyard and applies to join the SCPD.

The City Council passes the Star City Firearms Freedom Act.


The Winick Factor

While the episode does offer a variety of viewpoints on the issue of gun safety and how to best go about ensuring it (i.e. government action vs. personal responsibility), it is somewhat problematic on paper that the character most openly in favor of strong gun regulations is a gay man (thus encouraging the stereotype that only "weak" people could support strict measures to curb gun violence) and that character who is the most vocal in being against gun regulations is a former military man with a criminal background and anger issues who is depicted as being irresponsible in how he handled his firearms (thus encouraging the belief that anyone against gun regulations is a criminal, a lunatic or an idiot.)


The Bottom Line

It's surprising that it took Arrow this long to do a political story. It's even more surprising that it was done so well and in a way that didn't offer easy solutions or was entirely one-sided. More like this, please!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #2 - A Review/Preview

Life has become very strange for The Doctor and his companions. Suddenly nothing about their worlds made sense with The Doctor trapped in plastic body and Gabby having returned to New York and an ordinary life working as a waitress. Only Cindy - with a little help from her dog, Noobis - has realized that they are trapped in a dream world. Will that knowledge be enough to win them free?






My deceleration last month that the best days of this comic were over seem to have been premature. With Giorgia Sposito and Arianna Florean back on art duties for the entirety of this issue, things are back in fine form and looking fantastic. Nick Abadzis' excellent scripts - which read just like lost episodes of the David Tenant era of Doctor Who - are brought to life beautifully.