Monday, October 25, 2010

Smallville - Isis - Season 10 - Episode 5 - CW

In this episode Lois is put at risk because . . when she was in Africa, and was looking through the stuff at Carter's dig, she somehow ended up with the Amulet of Isis in her purse. Now the rest of that expedition has been brought to Metropolis because Ollie is throwing a big gala at the museum. Anyways, one things leads to another and . . a beam of sunlight flows through the gem in the amulet and . . ta-da . . Lois is inhabited by the spirit of Isis. From there it's a bit predictable. Clark and Ollie have to save her. But in the process Clark realizes how much he loves her. Obviously they pull it off, and Lois is returned to Clark's loving arms. But there were lots of other little tidbits that served to move the other various story-threads along. First . . Cat Grant is back. And she's still on the hero-bashing crusade. In fact when she sees Lois/Isis perform some superhuman feats . . she's convinced that Lois is the Blur. During all of this, Clark and Ollie end up soliciting Tess' help in figuring out how to beat the amulet. Because of that, they end up asking her to join their team and take Chloe's place at the helm of the Watchtower. I'm not sure how that's going to work out though, because . . she's still keeping a secret from them. They don't know that she's in possession of Alexander . . Lex's 6 year old clone. We also find out that Alexander's IQ has increased dramatically. And . . he's growing at an accelerated rate. He's grow about 4 inches in as many weeks. But, because of the recent events, Tess has decided to take a more nurturing, and loving role with Alexander. Although I'm sure it's . . too little, too late. Also Ollie is changed by these events, and the support from Clark and Tess. He's gone public now with his identity, but . . he's still trying to sort out how to balance it all. He was starting to head off into the 'glam and showbiz' aspect of it all, but . . these recent events have convinced him to get back to basics . . being the 'hero' that he wants to be for the city and it's people. And finally . . with much hesitation, Clark confides his secret to Lois. Her response? 'What took you so long?' I thought it was a great ending. This season definitely seems more upbeat than the last. Like I've said before, that whole Zod thing was really a downer. I know it was a necessary storyline for these characters to go through. But personally, I thought it played out way to long. Anyways, I haven't heard any news as to a new series after the completion of this one, but . . there's just so many different ways they could go. I hope they have something in the works.

Chuck vs the Couch Lock - Season 4 - Episode 5 - NBC

This episode actually seemed to be more about Casey and Grimes, rather than Chuck and Sarah. The back story is . . in 1999, John Casey and his troop were in Iraq. There they found a bunker that housed the gold bullion that they were using to back their government . . or terrorists . . or whatever. Anyways, his comrades in arms got a little greedy and decided that it wouldn't be necessary to hide something that nobody even knew existed. Basically . . they wanted to keep it for themselves. Well Casey couldn't let that happen, so he takes out his own guys, buries the bunker, and then takes his former teammates to be court-martialed. Anyways, now that Chuck and Sarah are looking for his mother, and they know that she's being held by Volkoff . . they decided that the only way to find her, after a fruitless search through all of the files that they got from Coasta Gravos on Volkoff, was to search his worldwide network of prisons. Which leads them to Casey's old team, whom apparently went to work for Volkoff after they escaped federal custody. So, in order to draw them out of hiding, they decide to fake Casey's death. But, of course, things don't go as planned. They take off with Casey's body, but . . the drugs that he took to fake his death finally wear off. He makes his escape, but in their haste to rescue their fallen partner, Chuck and Sarah are captured instead. Anyways, the other subplot of this story is . . now that Grimes and Alex have decided to advance their relationship, Grimes knows that eventually he's going to have to tell her father, John Casey. But he keeps chickening out. However, in John's escape his old partners stab him with his back-up vial of the poison. After Jeff and Lester rescue him he's got couch-lock from over-medicating. So, in order to get his pulse racing and pull him out of this . . Grimes goes ahead and gives him all the sordid details. Needless to say it works, and . . it's hilarious. And then, in the end, when they all seem to be captured in Iraq, Grimes performs a selfless act and takes down the bad-guys, with a jolt of electricity. Even though its at a risk to his own personal safety. Which finally endears him to John . . and he gives their relationship his blessing. During all of this, Elle decides that she wants to know what has happened to their mother. And Chuck finds out from John's old team that Frost isn't a prisoner of Volkoff, but rather . . a partner. She's this mercenaries teams boss. And she's also Volkoff's right hand. Chuck admits to Sarah that he's starting to think that his mom may be one of the 'bad-guys'. I like the spy-theme of this show. But it's the humor that's mixed in that really sells it for me. I also like the music.

Zatanna #4, #5 and #6 - DC

Stephane Roux is still doing the covers for these books. But apparently she's given it a rest at doing the interior art. Issue #4 and #5 are done by Chad Hardin and Wayne Faucher. But they still have pretty much the same feel as Stephane's stuff. Overall I like the feel of these books. I'm just not sold on Zatanna being a lead character. Yes she's a of the normal super-hero genre. She's got the whole magical/mystical thing going for her. But . . to me, she's just nowhere close to being in the company of somebody like Dr Fate, or Doctor Strange. I mean, sure she can pretty much do whatever she wants just by saying things backwards, but . . that just seems kind of limited to me. Can she do spells and incantations? Or has she just never really thought about it because of the way her powers work? I guess, to me, the fault of this character lies in that she's never really been fully explored. To my knowledge, no writer has really dug in to what exactly it is that Zee can and can't do. What are her limits? Sure she's a pretty face, and apparently someone who can think pretty fast on their feet. But it just seems like there could be so much more to her. Anyways, in these issues, Mammon is after Zee's soul. There's this guy who pretty much runs Vegas . . Sonny Raymond. Apparently he made a deal with Mammon, many years ago . . 1947, specifically . . where if he keeps feeding Mammon souls, his life, power, and wealth will be extended. So he's been giving him wives, business partners, co-workers, employees . . pretty much anybody he can get his hands on, and feeds them to Mammon. So, apparently, Mammon has seen Zee . . and seen what a pure soul she has, and tries to up his deal with Sonny. He offers him immortality, and release from his contract, for her soul. Of course Zee has other plans for her soul. And she's not going down without a fight. We also get the reintroduction of Zee's cousin in these issues, Zachary. We haven't really seen much of his character, since he made his brief stint in Teen Titans. Well . . I take that back. I think he's one of the characters in the 'Coven of Three' back-up story that's been running in Teen Titans. Anyways . . he's probably the least explored character of this family. And given the least attention. Which he's more than willing to point out to Zee. So, to make a long story short, of course Zee beats Mammon, and Sonny ends up losing his soul. But not in the way we expect. He'd rather be a soulless object than to be tortured for eternity in hell, so he convinces Zee to give him just that. She turns him in to a giant brick of gold. Mammon loses his soul. But Zee convinces him that this is even better, because . . being a demon-lord of Avarice, displaying this large hunk of metal in Vegas is only going to appeal to the masses sense of greed and lust. Which feeds right into the emotions that Mammon desires. So he gives up on Zee. For now. But I'm sure she hasn't seen the last of him. Anyways, I thought Paul Dini introduced a couple of neat ideas during this story. First we see the Royal Flush Gang re-imagined. Seeing that they're in Vegas, they take on the persona's of the Rat Pack, rather than their usual motif. Also, when Zee's voice is disabled, we see that she can use her powers by writing down her words, rather than saying them. If that's true then she should also be able to cast her spells by thinking them. Right? I think that's something that Paul could explore. Then, I think I like the introduction of Zachary to this series. Face it, solo books aren't really solo books anymore. Batman has his bat-family. Superman has his family and loved ones. Heck, even Wonder Woman has a huge supporting cast now. So let's give Zee one. All she really has is her father, Zatarra, and Zachary. But neither of them are around very much. I think Paul should explore those family ties a little more. And overall I think we should explore Zatanna's character much more. What makes her tick? What are her limits? How do her powers really work, and is the backwards thing just for show, or is that really the only way she can make her spells work? There's just so much more we can explore here, and so much more possibility. To me, this would be an exciting character to write. Nothings ever really been done with her. Her story is pretty much an open book. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how far Paul takes that. By the way, Jesus Saiz does the art for issue #6. And Brian Bolland does the variant covers.

Batgirl #13 and #14 - DC

Unfortunately #15 didn't come out yet, or I'd have included that here also. The Batman cross-over did . . for the Return of Batman, but . . I want to try to do those books together, so I'm not going to include it here. But since that book ties into the overall theme of the Bat-books that month, these stories are both one shots. In issue #13 Bryan Q Miller and Pere Perez bring us a story of Batgirl and Clayface. Obviously, from the cover. This is a typical Clayface story, so I think the important part of this issue is Bryan's character development of Stephanie. We get a glimpse of her life as a college student, but I think the most important insight we get is into that of the relationship between her, as Batgirl, and Det. Gage, of the GCPD. They've come into contact more than once, so there's a report that's starting to develop between them. In the end, they actually kind of help each other take Clayface down. Plus we get a little interaction between Steph and Proxy, Wendy Harris. She fills in for Babs when she's out doing 'Birds' stuff. And since she and Steph are similar in age, they also seem to have a report. Not to mention her mom, with whom she's trying to rebuild their relationship. All in all, it was kind of an upbeat fun issue. Bryan also writes issue #14, with Lee Garbett doing the art. In that issue there's an experiment that goes awry at the University and while Steph and Kara are watching an old vampire movie . . it's main character is turned into a hard light projection. Actually, there's 24 of them because the energy burst lasts for about a second, and in the old films, the frame rate is 24 per second. So, obviously, Batgirl and Supergirl have to scour the campus and find the 24 black & white vampire menaces. Again, I think the important part of this issue is the character development between Steph and Kara. They're both kind of going at life from opposite directions, and it becomes obvious this issue that they both want what the other has. As well as Kara gets along with Stephanie, I'm surprised that they haven't gotten together with Cassie, Wonder Girl. They seem like their characters would play off of each other well. Anyways, it was another fun story, and a quick read before we get into the whole Return of Batman thing. After that . . who knows how Batgirl's role in Gotham will be changed. Both beautiful covers are by Stanley Lau. I really like this series, and Stephanie's character. I'm really glad she's found her own home.

Adventure Comics #517, 518 and #519 - DC

I think Paul Levitz is trying to reintroduce a new generation, and perhaps some of the old, to the Legion again. Obviously, in order to tell current stories of the Legion, he's going to have to show things from the past as a sort of prologue. And I assume, since the Legion of 3 Worlds combined a lot of the most recent story-lines, and teams, that Paul has a bit of artistic license when it comes to showing us the past. The Legion's past. Our future. You know what I mean. Anyways, my point is, in issue #517 we're shown a story from the very early days of the Legion. Irma, Garth and Rokk have just barely gotten together, and they're still trying to figure out not only their own relationships, but the Legion's with other entities, such as the Science Police. Irma is still at the point where she feels like she has to prove herself . . constantly. We're also introduced to a new threat . . a techno-pirate named Zaryan, who's going around and stealing robot parts from many different manufacturing plants, and various planets. Although, after looking it up, Zaryan's first appearance was back in Jan. of 1963. In a battle with the Legion . . he was then called Zaryan the Conqueror . . he ended up killing Lightning Lad. Which kind of shows how Paul is tweaking things, just a bit. Anyways, this is one of their very first missions, and they're doing it in tandem with the Science Police. Specifically a Sgt. Esquivel. Whom, although she doesn't like the access that's been given to Brande, simply because of his money, is still a believer in the Legion and what it hopes to stand for. Through the course of the mission, and Irma's training, she and the Sgt becomes friends. So on one of the raids when one of Zaryan's men take out the Sgt, Irma is especially vulnerable. Which leads her to sleeping with Rokk. Luckily, for her, it follows a night of drinking, so she can make him forget and blame it on the booze. We also see in this part of the story how these first 3 Legionnaires come to the conclusion that they need to expand their ranks. The issue ends with their new friend Brainy planning a trip back to the past so that they can meet their idol . . Superboy. RJ Brands actually wants them to meet Superman, but . . Brainy has other plans. The next issue goes into the present of the Legion and we see Superboy in the future visiting his friends. This issue is kind of told from Clark's perspective, in that he doesn't always like what he finds in the future, especially when he starts to see glimpses of his own. There's lots of things that happen to him, as Superman, that he's in no way prepared to face yet. Which is part of the reason why Irma insists on mind-sweeping him before he returns to his own time. The information, and feelings, that he experiences while in the future can't be carried back into the past with him. He can't face the threats he destined to face with any prior knowledge. In order to now affect the future, he has to handle them in the way that he originally did . . good or bad. But while in the future . . it's a heavy burden for him to bear. There's also a mystery going on, in that the Legion Headquarters seems to be haunted. Phantom girl tries to give Superboy the tour, but she's kind of distracted by the other things going on. And Clark actually hears the supposed phantom's voice while in the Superman museum. The next issue takes place about a year after the Legion's formation, and . . the Legion has grown tremendously. But something that is constant is that they're still chasing after this Zaryan guy. Irma is especially hell-bent on capturing him because of what happened to her friend. But she's temporarily pulled off the mission so that she, Rokk and Garth can go back to meet Superboy. Brainy supposedly has a list of the things he wants the team to do with the young Clark Kent, but the real point of their mission is to intercept a Brainiac droid that is sent to Earth to scout out their technology. We also see the first glimpse of the Legion Espionage Squad this issue . . Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet and Invisible Kid. Anyways, the Legionnaires have fun in the past up until they realize why they're really there. And why Brainy brought them to Smallville in the first place, instead of Metropolis to meet Superman like RJ wanted. He knows that Superboy isn't prepared to face Brainiac, and if they could defeat the droid and make it disappear . . it would be consistent with what the future records show. Of the three, I especially liked this issue because it came the closest to giving me the feeling that I used to get when I read those old Legion stories . . the ones from Superboy and Adventure, back in the 60's and 70's. Overall, I think Paul is doing a great job and, I think, is trying to bring the Legion into the future, without rewriting to much of the past. But like I said, there are some subtle tweaks here and there. Kevin Sharpe and Marlo Alquiza provide the art for the first 2 issues, with Eduardo Pansica filling in on #519. I thought they all did a good job, and gave their books a really good feel. I'm also enjoying the Atom back-up story by Jeff Lemire and Mahmud Asrar. Someone is after Ray's technology. And it appears to be the Colony. We find out later, from Ray's uncle, that the Colony started out as a government think tank . . Project Colony. But when their governmental funding was pulled, they decided to carry on under their own direction. They felt that the work they were doing was to important to the future of the nation and the world. Anyways, for some reason they're after Ray's White Dwarf Star. They've been able to copy his technology, but . . without the star, it's unstable . . at best. And somehow Ray's uncle Dave is involved in all of this. Dave shows Ray his life's work . . the Ant-Farm. It's a microscopic world that he's created should the need arise for humankind to vacate the planet . . 'pandemics, nuclear or biological war, natural disasters, overpopulation, famine, even meteorites that may collide with Earth one day. We need a backup plan . . this . . this is a microscopic panic room for humankind.' But even though Dave created it, he's never been inside of it, because . . he doesn't have the technology. Only Ray does. So I think, for some reason, Dave's tricked him into coming here. Anyways, through the course of these stories, I thought Jeff Lemire did a fantastic job of reintroducing us to Ray's character, and that of the Atom's. He does a little bit to update him . . without changing him, and does a good job of explaining why he's always had such a hard time of fitting in with the Justice League. He's always wanted to help, but . . he approaches things . . problems, a different way than is usually their method. I thought it was good insight into the character and made us really think about who he is. This is another book that I'm glad is back on the shelf. I'm thrilled to read every issue of it.

Titans #26, #27 and #28 - DC

Issues #26 and #27 deals with Roy's reacquainting with Jade. She's trying to deal with the loss of Lian . . as is Roy, so they've kind of reached out to each other. Roy is also dealing with the loss of his arm, and because of all that has gone back to using. I have to say, I'm glad that Eric Wallace is focusing more on these two dealing with their loss than necessarily Roy's addictions. I know that it is an issue that Eric's going to have to deal with eventually, but . . I think if he focused on it right now it would take away from other parts of the storyline. Plus, when Eric does finally deal with it, I think he should do so in another mini-series. Obviously Roy's actions and frame of mind have an effect on the people he's around, and working with, but . . I think the heart of that story should be explored in it's own format. Anyways, it seems like Jade wants Roy to suffer a little bit. She hasn't come right out and said so, but . . I think, and it seems only natural, that she would hold him accountable for her loss. That is as well as herself. But, the person that she's really mad at right now is Slade. Which is the reason that she's asked Roy to join up with these new 'Titans'. She wants to kill Slade, but she knows that she's probably not going to be able to do that by herself. These two issues show us the beginning of their plan . . getting Roy into the mix. And in doing so, Slade has accepted a job of retrieving a rich man's son who was taken. What they find is that there's this guy named Elijah . . he kind of looks like Brick from Star City, who's got this new drug on the street called Bliss. When they go to his facility they find that the main ingredient of this drug is some kind of hormone that occurs naturally in children. Which is why this kid was really taken . . not for the ransom. And Elijah has his own group of 'metas' . . the Dominators. Of course there's a big fight, and in the end the 'Titans' win, but . . what have they really won? Roy ends up being the one that actually sets all these kids free. Which is good for him. I guess. But Jade is disillusioned even more about Slade because she thinks that their assignment was to come here, shut down this operation, and liberate all of these captured children. However, in the end, she finds out that Slade was only ever really after the one kid . . the rich kid . . the $10 million payday. And he looks like he couldn't care less what happens to anything, or anyone else. But this also had something to do with one of Elijah's men . . DJ Molecule. But I'm not sure what. Earlier Slade is thinking about the Deftech schematics that Jade and Richards had gotten him. He's thinking about how he's 'one step closer to achieving his true objective. Cheating death itself.' So I'm not sure if DJ Molecule is another component of that plan or not. Anyways, we got a little glimpse into Cinder's mind. And Amon Tomaz, Osiris, is contacted by the White Light. He's told . .'Your sister is needed. Help Isis break free.' Which then leads later on, during the fight with Elijah, where he's accidentally given a dose of Bliss. While he's hallucinating, he thinks he sees his sister. It's through this vision that he makes the connection that the cracks in her statue . . he assumes the rock trying to break free . . occurs whenever he kills someone. So now, his justification for killing is that he's trying to save his sister. Anyways, issue #28 starts out a new storyline where the 'Titans' have been hired to break someone out of Arkham Asylum. But there's lots of reasons for this plan to go bad. First of all, they use a corrupt, greedy guard to get into the facility. That plan always works out. Then, during the course of their infiltration, Jade discovers that Roy is high. Amon is wresting with what he's discovered during his recent 'vision'. And because of that decides that he's going to kill this guard, since he's already a 'bad-guy'. And when the alarm is sounded . . a product of the guards death, Batman is entered into the mix and the issue ends with him face to face with Slade. We also find out that this was all apparently to break out the Mad Hatter. And also for a girl . . Allegra Garcia. Although I'm not really sure who she is. In the beginning of the story we get a glimpse of Ivy Town, where Ray Palmer is starting to look into Ryan Choi's disappearance. I'm not sure what that has to do with this storyline, but it's titled . . 'Family Reunions'. I'm not sure if it's going to be connected to the back-up story in Adventure Comics or not. But I have to say . . so far, I like the way that Eric is handling this team, and these characters. The focus for the most part right now is on Jade and Roy. But we are getting glimpses of Amon, Cinder and Richards. As well as whatever this plan is that Slade is trying to put together. I think he's got a good mix here, and there's a lot of potential. But that's the way this book has always been . . lots of potential, but short on the payoff. I guess we'll have to wait and see if Eric can get a different result. So far . . I think he's on the right path. I'm also enjoying Fabrizio Fiorentino and Cliff Richards' art. I think they give the book a good feel that's similar, but different . . from what we've seen before. Of course, I'm also thrilled to death that this book wasn't cancelled like I thought it was going to be. 'Long Live the Titans!' Or Legion. Whatever!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Smallville - Homecoming - Season 10 - Episode 4 - CW

This was a great episode. As you can see from the picture . . Brainiac is back. But . . not in the way that you might've expected. This episode kind of reminded me of A Christmas Carol. Or rather . . A Smallville Christmas Carol. It seems that Brainiac has come back to help Clark get past this 'dark' part of his soul that everybody keeps talking about. The story is framed around Clark and Lois' return to Smallville. It seems it's time for a class reunion, and Lois thinks that the return to Smallville will help Clark get past whatever this funk is that he's been in lately. That's when Brainiac attacks. Or rather . . he shows up to help guide Clark along his destined path. What? Wait . . I thought Clark and Legion had destroyed Brainiac. Well . . except for that little black puddle that we saw oozing along after he was vanquished. It seems that what they really did was to cure Brainiac. Like Clark, he was created by Jor-El. And like Clark, Jor-El hoped that he would help to aid this alien race and prepare the world for Clark's ascension. But, somewhere along the way, he became corrupted. It seems whatever Clark and the Legion did to him, helped to cure him of that corruption. So now Brainiac is in the future and has joined up with the Legion. He even tells Clark that he's now known as Brainiac 5. Anyways, he's decided to help Clark, but in order to do so he has to get him to let go of his past. It seems that it's his 'second-guessing' and 'guilt' that's creating this dark cloud over Clark's head. And as Brainiac shows him, it all started when his father, Jonathan, died. Since then Clark has been questioning his 'path' and his 'destiny'. He then shows him that in the present he's become a pillar of strength to many people. Not just because of his abilities, but because of the way that he inspires them. Lois and Ollie are just two of the many to be affected by Clark. There's even one of the 'meteor-freaks' that Clark put away that shows up at the reunion. While viewing the world with Brainiac, Clark sees this guy approach Lois. He fears for her, and in his haste grabs ahold of Brainiac's Legion ring. That's when he's hurled into the future. In it he realizes that not only are he and Lois a couple . . there's hints of them being married, but we don't know that for sure . . but also Clark has confided his secret to Lois. And he now sees that she's become his staunchest supporter, and protector. Well . . protector of his secret. It seems that in the present, Clark's silence and distance that he's been putting between himself and those around him . . thinking that he's protecting them, is actually hurting them. Not physically, of course, but rather as far as potential. Without Clark's strength and friendship, neither Lois or Ollie are realizing their true potential. When they finally return to the present, Clark sees that this guy from his past is approaching Lois' because he wants to thank Clark. He wants to thank Clark for showing him that he didn't have to live the way he was. And for helping him get out of, and away from his destructive behavior. It seems that despite all of his powers, Clark's greatest strength lies in the way that he inspires and motivates others. He truly is a beacon that's only now beginning to shine on the world. He's a pebble, in a stream, who's ripples are only just beginning to reach out to others. He then goes on to inspire Ollie, a bit more. Ollie is holding a press conference on his latest revelation. Unfortunately he's feeling melancholy and distressed about Chloe . . as well as Clark, whom he hasn't heard from. But when Clark shows up . . Ollie instead express' his hopes for the future and what he wants his 'heroism' to inspire. He also tells the world . .'I'm not doing it alone.' Clark then goes to Lois to tell, and show her how he really feels about her. He hasn't revealed his secret . . yet. But . . I think it's only a matter of time. And in their embrace . . Clark begins to 'float' under his own power. It seems that this 'enlightenment' is fueling the emergence of the rest of Clark's powers. All in all I thought it was a very moving episode. I really liked the roles that Lois and Ollie played in this unfolding drama. And we even get a peak . . the slightest glimpse really, that Chloe is still out there. I can't wait to see what the rest of this season has in store for us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chuck vs the Coup d'Etat - Season 4 - Episode 4 - NBC

In this episode Costa Gravas, and General Alejandro Goya come back in to Elle and Devon's life. The General's chief of security, Turinni, shows up at Elle's house inviting them to come back to Costa Gravas. Since she and Awesome are having a hard time dealing with her pregnancy right now . . she's about 4 months along and Awesome pays more attention to her belly, and the baby, that he does to her, they decided to take him up on his offer. Besides, this will give them a chance to have a 'Baby-moon'. A honeymoon of sorts before the baby is born. Sarah and Chuck are also having relationship problems, because of the faux-proposal that accidentally occurred at the end of the last episode, so they decide to go along a get a little vacation to. Also Grimes is having some relationship problems, as he really likes Alex, Casey's daughter. But he's more afraid of him, than of missing out with Alex. Which is how he comes across the book, '101 Conversations Before 'I Do''. And, in trying to help Chuck, he also gives it to him. So anyways, of course in Costa Gravas things don't go as planned. The General's wife decides to have a Coup. And the Bartowski's are left having to shuttle him out of the country to safety. But the only person he feels safe with is the man's whose blood runs through his veins . . Col. John Casey. During the course of this Casey reveals to Goya that it's actually Turinni that's behind this. Turinni takes him back home, and Chuck, Sarah and Casey have to try to rescue him because of the nuclear control panel that they find in the castle. Anyways, Chuck ends up using the stuff he'd learned from the book and talks the General and his wife into finding and re-exploring their old feelings of love. Chuck finds out from Goya that the control panel also came from Volkoff. At the end Chuck tells Elle that he's looking for their mom. Grimes decides to make a move on Alex . . and kisses her. It looks like things are going to work out. But right now Casey's out of town, so . . they don't have to face that yet. And while Chuck's sleeping . . because of something that Chuck had told her earlier, Sarah decides to talk to him. She tells him that if he had actually been proposing, she would've said yes. It's hard to tell if Chuck is really sleeping, or if he's just faking it. Anyways, it looks like all the relationships on this show are going to be moving forward. Now they just need to find someone for Casey to become romantically involved with. I don't know though. That might take away his edge. I think this is a great show. It's got a cool comedic twist to everything. And it's kind of a spy / soap-opera rolled up into one.

Justice League: Generation Lost #7, #8 and #9 - DC

I get the distinct feeling that there's a plan going on here. Well . . with Judd Winick taking the helm of this book . . obviously there's a plan. What I mean is . . I think that the White Light, or White Entity . . what do we call this thing? . . I think that things are happening for a reason and that . . shudder the thought . . Max isn't as bad as he's being portrayed to be. Yes he's most likely working on his own agenda, but . . I'm thinking that the White Light, while giving it's operatives a certain latitude, is trying to keep things going in a distinct direction. Max seems to be using the JLA teleporters to hope all over the planet. He's going from base to base, and safe-house to safe-house. Which is why it seems like it's so hard for this group to catch up to him. They're literally chasing their own tail. So I'm thinking that they're going to have to stop chasing the man, and start chasing the plan. Max is trying to put something into place, but our team doesn't know what that is yet. However, if they keep wasting time chasing Max . . they never will find out. Because they'll never stop long enough to try to put the pieces together. Most of issues #7 and #8 are spent with our team trying to break in to Checkmate headquarters because Bea is convinced that Max is there. Which he is, but . . apparently he's disguising his appearance in some way. We see him as who he is . . as does the rest of the team, but . . I'm thinking that as far as the rest of the world is concerned . . and basically any monitoring technology such as Checkmate's 'nest' . . he's either cloaked, or appearing as another person entirely. And right now my guess is Alton Janus . . the new White King of Checkmate. I don't really have anything to support that supposition, but . . that's my guess. However, no matter who he is, our rag-tag group here isn't going to get anywhere until they know what he actually looks like. At least to the rest of the world. Which, to me, seems like Jaime might be the team's best bet. Jaime doesn't actually know Max, or believe that he's alive. But . . since he's still showing up in the Scarab's data-banks, he's siding with this group, I think, out of hope and faith. But that would also mean that he's someone who would be included with the masses of the rest of the world . . the people that Max has under his spell . . for lack of a better term. When he does come across him . . or the team has him in his sights, he may appear different than what everybody else sees. Anyways . . it's a thought. But as I was saying, the team poses as a rogue group of Rocket Reds and breaks in to Checkmate. Of course things go to hell pretty quickly, they don't find Max, and . . Bea, Jamie and Captain Atom are exposed. So at the very least Checkmate knows that this rogue group are still on some type of mission . . self imposed, but just as diligent. Also while in Checkmate, Max gets a flash from the White Light . . with a message. 'Maxwell Lord of Earth. Stop the war before it starts.' And he's shown a vision of him taking out Magog. Which is what lead me to the thought that while being misunderstood, Max may not necessarily be as bad as everyone thinks. That or he truly does think that he's doing the best things he can to make the world a better place. I don't know. Max is a tough one to figure out. I just don't think things are as 'black & white' as they appear. Anyways, after the cluster, they make it out of Checkmate, and it appears that for now they aren't going to be pursued. At least by Checkmate. But when they return to their decommissioned embassy in Germany, Bea is confronted by Max himself. Max tries to use Bea to take out the rest of the team, but . . Captain Atom saves the day. Not necessarily the building, but at least the rest of the team-members. Booster also comes across him, and Max temporarily takes control of him. However, Max knows that he needs to get out of here, and he quickly takes his leave via one of the teleporters. At the end we see him back at Checkmate recruiting Magog. Supposedly it's for that organization. But his enticement is . . he'll get to take out Captain Atom. Apparently Max wasn't listening to the warning from the White Light. Personally, I love this book. I think this is a great group of underutilized characters. With this pursuit of Max really drawing them all together. I think Judd is doing a fantastic job with the story and the overall plan being developed here. Also the art has been great. Joe Bennett does the art for issue #7, with Aaron Lopresti stepping in for #8. And #9 is done by Fernando Dagnino. And they all look great. I was under the assumption that this was going to be a 12 issue series, but . . so far the listings have it going up to #17. And it doesn't look like there's an end in sight. So now I'm guessing that it's going for a year, which would mean 24 issues. That's sad because I think that this could definitely blossom into an ongoing series. Why not? There's numerous Avengers books. Why not do the same thing with the Justice League? Anyways, in the meantime . . I'm diggin' this series, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Birds of Prey #4 and #5 - DC

Ok . . I was completely wrong about this one. I thought maybe this White Canary was associated, or even was, Sin or Cassandra. Somehow! But this actually goes back a few years to another one of Gail Simone's storylines. In issue #81, of the first series, these fighters appeared . . Twelve Brothers in Silk. There was a legendary fighter, Huang, who realized that he would eventually die . . or be killed. So he birthed 12 perfect sons and began training them with his mastery. We find out this issue that during the course of the creation of this tribe, one of the children was born a girl. Huang wanted 12 perfect sons, for the 12 signs of the Zodiac, so any that didn't fit his strict criteria, or were born female, were killed. However, on the way to the lake with this child, the mid-wife was struck down by lightning. Seeing this as a sign that someone, or something, very angry wanted her alive, Huang chose one of his sons to begin training her. Thus was born . . Sister in Silk. Anyways, Dinah and some of her friends had beaten the Brothers in Silk . . actually, more like they fought them to a stand-still. But this was outside of the Sister in Silks code of honor. So . . she hunted them down . . her brothers . . and, one by one she killed them. Now that she's the only one left . . her honor dictates that she take down Siu Jerk Jai . . Dinah. Which is why she's called her out. While this is going on, Babs is also dealing with Savant and Creote. They're the ones that are threatening to expose the 'super-hero' club with all of the information that they gathered while working for Barbara. Anyways, what happened is . . 2 years ago Savant was taken captive by the Calculator's henchmen and tortured for 2 days while trying to get information about Oracle. The problem is . . besides getting tortured . . Savant is so brilliant that the concept of time escapes him. What happened to him only lasted for 2 days . . 2 years ago. But because, in his mind, he relives it every day . . he thinks that he was tortured for 2 years. Anyways, Babs ends up talking him down . . he really wanted to kill her, and Creote finally admits that he loves Savant. Babs vows to try to get him the help he needs to get past this. And, Zindy and Helena are fighting with the Penguin. It seems that he was in on this whole thing with the Sister in Silk. He was promised the information for his involvment. So he's very eager to take down these members of the 'Birds'. With Zindy hurt, Dove is the one that ends up getting pissed off enough to punch him in the nose. Anyways, issue #5 is spent basically cleaning up the mess. Huntress wants to kill Penguin, but . . Oracle talks her down. Babs, Savant and Creote have tried to begin the next chapter of their lives. And it appears that Dinah has also beaten this Sibling in Silk. That or . . she may have just let her win. Dinah finds out from her that it was Shiva who set her up back in Finland. And she agrees to go to Bangkok with Sister in Silk to take care of her. The problem is . . in order to do so . . Dinah has to leave the 'Birds', and leave Gotham. Because of what she's agreeing to do . . she realizes that she'll probably never return. So she says goodbye to Babs and Helena. But Helena and Zindy decide that they aren't just going to let Dinah quit, so . . they head off to Bangkok after her. However once reaching there, they're told in no uncertain terms that they're not wanted in this city. And the enforcer kicking them out is . . Dinah, dressed in the White Canary outfit. We also get a little glimpse of the stuff that Hawk and Dove are dealing with. There should be a storyline revolving around them coming up pretty soon. Gail Simone, I think, does a fantastic job with this series . . and these characters. I love the group that she's got together right now. And it looks like they aren't going to go down . . or split up, without a fight. Ed Benes and Adriana Melo do the art for issue #4. With Adriana probably doing most of it. But . . it still looked good. However, Alvin Ledd takes on a more active role in #5. The pages that I see were Adriana's looked pretty good. However Alvin's stuff seemed a little to cartoonish for me. It's a shame Ed Benes can't stick on a book for more than a few issues. Art wise . . this book started out really great. But now . . I'm still holding out hope. Alvin will be around for the next issue. But after that . . Adrian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes will be taking on the next chapter. Plus . . there may be a shake-up in this book with Batman returning. We'll have to wait and see what happens with that. Anyways . . I love this book. I love these characters. And I can't wait to see more.

Superman #702 and #703 - DC

While I enjoyed these 2 issues . . unfortunately, I
didn't think they were as good as #701. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love J Michael Straczynski's work. And I think Eddy Barrows gets better and better with every issue of work that he does. These 2 issues were just a little more . . oblique. I guess that's the best word to describe it. There were parts that I really enjoyed, and I think served to further enhance the story. But then other parts? Come on . . Superman stopping to play a game of pick-up ball? Yes he ended up helping one of the kids that was being bullied. But . . it just didn't' seem that believable to me. But then some would argue that it's a comic and believability isn't really the point. But that's part of what I like about JMS's work. He puts ideas out there that maybe aren't mind-bending, but . . a lot of times it's stuff that seems like the natural course of events. We, as readers, just never thought about it that way. Then when he presents it, we think . . 'Oh yeah! I could see that happening.' Anyways, in #702 Superman is in Detroit. The point of the issue, mainly, is that he comes across a 'hive' of aliens living as human. They're just trying to blend in. And, of course, when Superman arrives to see what's going on, he's attacked. But that doesn't last very long. I thought the interesting part of the whole confrontation was when Superman is talking to them, and trying to reason. They just want to live in peace, and they're totally self-sufficient. But then Superman argues . . 'The point is, what are you giving back to your community? Every culture that's come through this country has added something to it. You have scientific advances here that could be helping people. If you don't let anyone know, then what are you giving back? What good are you doing here?' Later Superman comes across an old man in need of medical attention. He's got something or other that he knows that Earth science can't treat. So he takes him back to the aliens. They end up treating him, and then with Superman's encouragement, they decide to 'give back'. They buy up some of the abandoned factories and set up some medical facilities plants. Working some of their own technology into the designs. Yes it's a little far-fetched, but . . it's interesting. And in the end, Superman talks some aliens that were just trying to survive into 'giving back'. In #703, Superman ends up in Cincinnati. This issue ends up being about a debate between Superman and Batman. Batman has been watching Superman's progress. And while he doesn't believe in his overall methods, he is trying to give him his space. Batman's argument though is . . first of all he doesn't think that Superman is actually dealing with what's really bothering him . . the loss of his adopted planet. Secondly, by walking amongst the 'common-folk', he's actually putting the people he's trying to reach in danger. Superman is a magnet, as is anyone in their profession. If he puts himself out in the open like this . . trouble will follow. And while Superman can deal with pretty much anything, can the people he's putting in such close proximity? Of course something happens, and ironically it's caused by his recently lost adoptive planet. More specifically some kind of crystal's that reached Earth from it. Anyways, in his zeal to 'fix the problem', a large part of the city is destroyed. Superman immediately afterwards sets to fixing it, but . . the damage has already been done. While the physical damage can be fixed, the doubts among the people have been sowed. They have seen that while he walks amongst them, in truth . . he's not really one of them. And of course they, and the media turn against him immediately. Basically proving Batman's point. This has got to be hard on Dick. While he's been proven right, at the same time he probably hates to see Superman have to learn the hard truth this way. I think he may have been on to something when he warned Superman that he may be going through a mental breakdown . . or could be, if he doesn't deal with what's really bothering him. It's a side of Superman I don't think we've ever seen before. Anyways, I thought they were good issues. I like #701 better, but . . I still thought they were good. And I think JMS and Eddy are doing a fantastic job. If you've even only been marginally interested in Superman before . . this is a story-arc that I think can touch a lot of people. If you give it a chance. Believe me, you won't be sorry.

Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #1, #2 and #3 - DC

You knew it was only going to be a matter of time before there was another Green Lantern title . . right? I love the Green Lantern Corps book, but . . there's just to many characters involved for all of this to be contained within 2 volumes. So now we get a third title. And with these 3 issues, the title is off with a bang. The series is going to be brought to us by Peter J Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin. But we're also getting many beautiful covers by Rodolfo Migliari and Lee Bermejo. Unfortunately, with doing multiple issues on these posts, I'm not going to be able to include all the variant covers as well. There's just not enough space. Plus . . I really am trying to get caught back up. Which, it appears, is not going to be an easy feat . . either with time or motivation. But that's a subject for another time. Anyways, this title starts out with Guy trying to live up to the promise that he made Ganthet and Atrocitus. They're getting ready to head out into the unknown sectors. But before he can leave, Kilowog and Arisia join up with him. They each also have their own reasons for wanting to tag along. Kilowog, I think, just needs a change of scenery. He's just as devoted as he's ever been to the Corps, but . . I think he's starting to get a little bit tired of having to bury friends and teammates. Especially after the whole thing that they've all just been through with the Black Lanterns. Arisia wants to ask Guy and Kilowog to go to Daxam with her to try and help her save Sodam. In the meantime, while all of these plans are being made, it appears that there's forces gathering in many different places with the intentions of taking down the Corps. Atrocitus is currently helping Ganthet and Guy, by feeding them information. But his ultimate goal, the death and destruction of the entire Green Lantern Corps, is what he's really working towards. We also see at the end of issue #1, and going in to #2, that there's a long lost enemy of the Guardians hiding and seeking his revenge also . . Zardor of Kralok. Zardor, it appears, is adept at bending people to his will. I believe he has some kind of limited telepathic abilities. But he's got a plan to amp things up. He's apparently been gathering telepaths from around the universe and making them his prisoners. Somehow he's using their power to amp up his own. And with this increased power, he's been tampering with some of the new recruits to the Green Lantern Corps. 'I've reached out to the ones I feel are more malleable, and in subtle ways I've also given them higher moral and ethical standards. I've molded them to be natural leaders, willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. I've made them beacons of willpower so the odds of being a candidate for the corps rise exponentially as I moderate the fear they feel. They do what I want them to do. They think what I want them to think. They are completely unaware that they dance to the strings I pull . . . Control the Corps . . Control the Universe!!' And also . . there's something else going on. Guy agrees to Arisia about going to Daxam, but first he wants to stop off at Odym. It appears that he's still having some affects from the Red Lantern ring that he was wearing. Munk had told him that the Blue Lanterns would be able to purge the hold the ring had on him from his system. However, once arriving, Bleez is not far behind. She's one of Atrocitus' Red Lanterns. He sent her to help Guy, but in doing so she's also trying to stop Guy from getting purged. It appears that she thinks that he'll need the energy from both rings to face the challenges that he'll see in the uncharted sectors. But that's not the real problem. While on Odym, Brother Warth discovers that the Green Lantern rings are not reacting the way they're supposed to be around a Blue Lantern. Which is when Guy reveals to everyone that part of the reason they've heading into the uncharted sectors is because Atrocitus has revealed to him that someone is stealing bits of powers from Green Lantern rings everywhere. Meanwhile, back on Daxam . . the tour-group's next stop . . Sodam Yat has fallen from the sun back to the planet. There's a contingency of Daxamites that are trying, and willing to do whatever's necessary to help him. Actually . . they worship him. But other's are hunting him down. When he fell from the sun it turned back to yellow. In so doing . . the Daxamites all lost their powers. Mongul is no longer around. But most of them are not willing to give up their powers this easily. Including Sodam's own parents. And, after the group gets back on track on Odym, they resume their tour with Daxam being the next stop. As they're leaving, Guy and Bleez contemplate whether Sodam is the one that's been stealing the power. 'If Sodam's not dead and he's the drain . . then I'm gonna have to kill him.' I thought this was a great beginning to this series. Of course with Peter working so long with Geoff Johns on the Green Lantern books, as well as Blackest Night . . he's more than familiar with all of these characters. My only question is . . will we see the Green Lantern Quarterly book again? Sometime? I thought that was a great series also, but it only lasted for about 2 years. It would be a great outlet to see some of the lesser known characters.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Smallville - Supergirl - Season 10 - Episode 3 - CW

This episode seemed to revolve mostly around the theme of whether a 'hero' should show his face . . or hide in the shadows. It's an argument that has been bounced around in the comics since their inception. But on this particular series, the consensus to date has been to keep your identity a secret, and operate from the shadows. However, back when Clark opened the portal with the book or Rao to send the Kandorians away . . apparently a darkness came through that Jor-El, and now Kara, are worried will get a foothold on Clark. If so, 'In control of your powers, you could become the greatest threat, and weapon, the world has ever seen.' So Kara has come back to give it a different target to go after. Which is why she's gone public. Apparently this is a presence that feeds on the doubt, and darkness in a person's soul. The only people immune to it are those that are pure of heart. Anyways, it's taken possession of Gordon Godfrey's body and is using his media presence, and savvy . . as well as his publicist, to put his face out in front of the entire world and use his words to plant the seed of doubt. He's also about to expose Ollie's identity as the Green Arrow. Lois takes exception to this guys anti-hero rhetoric, so she makes it her mission to take him down. However, apparently he knows of Lois' connection to the Blur and is manipulating her into drawing him out. During all of this, Ollie is feeling especially guilty because of Chloe's sacrifice to save him. He's tired of his crusade and identity bringing harm and heartbreak to those around him. So, at the end of the episode, much to Lois' chagrin, he decides to go public and holds a press conference to release his secret. Anyways, Kara and Clark hold back the shadows . . somehow repelling them with her bracelets. The only way to get rid of them for sure is to send them back through the portal. But they haven't done that yet . . nor do they know how. So for now . . the shadows are just out there in possession of someone else. And although Lois knows Clark's secret, it seems like it gets harder and harder every episode for her to keep that from him. She's constantly stopping herself from slipping up. So . . while the story progress' as far as Lois and Clark is concerned . . and with the looming threat that Jor-El tried to warn him of, it seems like the crux of this story was the question of how Clark should proceed with his secret. Is his penchant for operating in the shadows helping his ultimate destiny . . or hindering it? Clark truly wants to be the best 'hero' he can be. He doesn't want to let anyone down. But it seems as if he's at a crossroads. Does he keep operating the way he is . . fighting the symptoms, without really addressing the problems? Or does he come out of the shadows and become an icon that the rest of the world can rally behind? Of course he doesn't know that's what he'll ultimately become, so . . to him, that's the greatest risk. Plus, he doesn't want to put those around him . . friends or family, at risk. This is the final season of Smallville, and I have a feeling there's going to be some big changes before this is all over with.

Secret Warriors #18 and #19 - Marvel

This is another fantastic book, and series, by Jonathan Hickman. I don't know how the guy does it. Not only are the stories here, and over in SHIELD, fantastic and well thought out but . . there are also incredibly intricate and detailed. I don't know if he has this all drawn out on some board somewhere, but it seems to me that it would be hard for one person to put the amount of effort into one of these incredible series . . let alone two. And for that I have to give him some huge props. In these 2 issues, Dum Dum and Sitwell are sitting in front of a UN Security Council being questioned for the actions that have occur ed in Chinese airspace . . in which Nick Fury and Dum Dum led two helicarriers into battle with a HYDRA base. It seems to me that basically they're upset because they don't know what's going on. Eventually Dum Dum and Sitwell spell it out for them . . 'See, you are all going to have to get with the program if you have any chance of dealing with this in a reasonable fashion . . there is a shadow war going on between organizations that have no allegiance to anything but themselves. They have no nation to defend, so they don't worry about sanctions or retribution. They have no borders, so they can't be boxed in or contained. Your rules . . your laws . . mean nothing to them.' It all comes down to 2 things. First they want to know if Nick is going to take care of the problem for them. And then they want to know if he's the kind of man they can work with. I take back what I said earlier. Maybe they did know what the problem was, they just didn't know how to deal with it. And now that they know that someone is willing to . . they probably want to make sure that strategic alliances aren't disrupted, embarrassed or pushed to the breaking point. Everybody has an agenda. And even though they knew this was a problem that was eventually going to have to be addressed . . it's being done by someone without the same goals or ambitions as their own. Something like that can make people like these very nervous. Anyways, as were going through this story, we're also being shown the reunion between the various members of the Howling Commandos. Nick got them together a few weeks ago because of the events on the horizon. But, I think, also because of Steve's return. It's interesting how the battles and drama that they're going through now is so closely associated to what they dealt with back during the second world war. And the one constant, no matter what era they're fighting in is the loss of friends and associates that they've worked with. It's getting so that I think Nick has as many friends dead as he does alive. Possibly more. Anyways, were dealing mostly with the Howling Commandos for these 2 issues, so I imagine that we'll see what the Secret Warriors are up to in the next story-arc. As I said, I think Jonathan is doing a terrific job with this series. And Alessandro Vitti uses his art to give the book a feel that is perfect for it's theme. I'm glad I gave this book a chance.

the Amazing Spider-man #639, #640 and #641 - Marvel

I enjoyed this story-arc, but . . really the whole thing could've been told in one issue . . issue #641. Basically, we're finally getting the whole story on what actually happened the day that Peter and Mj thought that they were going to lose Aunt May. And how those events precipitated MJ walking out on Peter and leaving him . . for good. However, since we saw before how all of this was due to the machinations of Mephisto, I'm guessing that this is Joe Quesada's way of rewriting those events. We saw in issue #638 MJ's encounter with power from down under . . and I don't mean Australia. However, with this story-arc, it seems that have been unfolded in a different way. We start out with their wedding . . a wedding which never happened, and eventually led to MJ deciding that Peter's secret is just to much of a responsibility for her. We also find out that the Kingpin not only sent someone after Peter, but because of Peter humiliating him in front of the entire prison, Wilson's hitter now had a list of Peter's and MJ's entire family. MJ, and Peter, stop the guy from taking out Anna. But during the course of the interlude, MJ finds out that after these 2 he's moving on to her entire family . . immediate and extended. That's when she realizes that it's not Peter putting her family in danger, but rather herself . . because, she's 'Spider-man's girlfriend'. But they both come to a conclusion because of this. Peter decides that it's to risky for the entire world to know his secret. Somehow he has to stop it. So he enlists the aid of Doctor Strange. And with the help of Reed and Tony, Stephen erases the memory of Peter's association with Spider-man from the entire world. However, at the time, Peter decides that the memory of everything that's happened is to much for him to live with alone. At the last second he pulls MJ into his protective circle, enabling her to share those memories with him. But the conclusion that she had reached was that all of this was just to much to bear. It was bad enough that she was always worried about Peter when he was out crusading. But she was also, really, his second choice. In her heart, as well as his, she knew that his first choice would always be to save the world. Then on top of that, because of his secret, there would always be the chance that something would happen that would put her, as well as her entire family in jeopardy because of their relationship and association. For that . . she would be solely responsible. If she chose to be with him. Which is why she didn't. But that's not really what this story is all about. Well it is . . to an extent. To the extent that this is the first time we had heard it. But to Peter and MJ, this was all history. Tragic and heartbreaking, but . . history. No the point of this whole story . . the point of MJ coming back and begging Peter to talk about everything that they've been through, was first of all to make sure that Peter understood all of her actions and choices. Because of his love he accepted them, but . . she knew that he didn't really understand. And with that understanding, she chose to set him free. 'I wish I was strong enough to be with you, but I'm not. And I don't know if I ever will be. And you . . you need to fin that someone who is. And you need to move on. You've been sitting here, wondering . . waiting for something that isn't going to happen. You need to get on with your life. There's someone wonderful out there for you. But, if you don't let go of 'this', you may never find her . . even if she's standing right in front of you.' Which leads Peter to a realization. 'Today, my best friend, the best person I've ever known . . set me free. Today, for the first time in a long time, I feel like my destiny's my own. Like I can take on anything life has to throw at me. Today? Today feels like a brand new day!'. Hmmm. Where have we heard that before. Anyways, I thought it was a good story. And very moving in parts. It just seems to me that this whole thing with Mephisto was just kind of swept under the rug. It happened. But it didn't'. You know what I mean? This story, to me, seems like the natural occurrence of events. But that's not the way it happened. At least not the first time. So now . . it's different? I guess that's all I'm going to say about that. I don't want to get stuck up on some soapbox. Let's just say that I think Joe Quesada, and Paolo Rivera are extremely talented. If I could do it I would. But I can't, so . . I just have to read it . . and accept what's published. I enjoyed the story and look forward to the next story-arc. And I'm trying really hard not to say something snide to end all of this. I'm just going to say that I think Peter is one of the best characters out there.

SHIELD #3 and #4 - Marvel

First of all, I have to say that I think Jonathan Hickman is writing a masterpiece here. He's doing nothing short of tying together all of history, and then weaving the creation, tenents and aspirations of SHIELD throughout all of it. It's hard for me to even explain what Jonathan has going on here, because . . well . . everything is tied together. It's hard to know one thing, without another. And for knowledge to progress further, the past has to be better understood. Suffice it to say, the characters in this book consist of some of the richest in history . . Imhotep, Galileo, Da Vinci, Newton and, apparently the most important . . or dangerous, I'm not sure which . . Nostradamus. Through their secret elixir . . the Forever Compound, Nostradamus has been the thread that has existed through all of the most recent history . . the past 500, plus years. While Da Vinci seems to be the errant explorer that bounces around through history, to where he sees fit. Although he seems to have an agenda and purpose, it's hard to see exactly what that is right now. But we do see however that things seem to revolve around a boy . . Leonid. When Da Vinci comes to him it's in the year 1956. And Leonid is a young man . . probably in his early 20's. He's called by some, 'the boy with the stars beneath his skin'. Whatever that means. Like I said, we see a lot of interesting stuff going on here, but . . we aren't privy, yet, to how it's all connected. We know that it is, we just aren't being shown the threads . . yet. We see stuff from Galactus outside of Rome, in 1582, to Abu Musa Jabir Ibn Hayyan Al Azdi's destruction in 750 AD. We see Newton's discovery of the Devian City in 1625, to Nostradamus' abduction in 1652. We see Da Vinci's return to the brotherhood, and the Immortal City, in 1956, to a pregnant Celestial in 114 AD. And Nostradamus has been witness and privy to most of this knowledge. At the end of issue #4 when Leonid, after discovering his incarceration, asks him who he is . . he replies, 'I am Nostradamus. The Catalyst. And the Architect of Revelation.' It really is a lot to take in. But Jonathan is definitely the architect of this story . . this masterpiece in the making. And he's doing a tremendous job. As well as Dustin Weaver who visually interprets it all for our unworthy eyes. I know. A little dramatic there, but . . I had to give it a shot. Anyways, it's a great story and apparently the foundation for the entirety of the Marvel Universe. Not to much pressure on Jonathan's shoulders there. Right? It's a great story. But if you haven't picked it up yet . . do so from the very beginning. I'm not just being dramatic when I say . . everything is connected.

the New Avengers #2 and #3 - Marvel

I thought these were some interesting issues. My only concern is that things always seem a bit vague when it comes to all this mysticism . . Doctor Voodoo, Stephen Strange and Daimon Hellstrom. The story starts out with someone, or something, possessing Stephen and Daimon. They've attacked Doctor Voodoo . . apparently they're after the Eye of Agamotto . . and they haven't been exactly subtle about their intentions. They want the Eye, even if they have to kill him. But apparently it has to be willingly handed over . . it can't just be taken. See . . that's the part about the magical stories that always seems to bother me. There seems to always be all these unwritten 'rules' about who can do what to who, or what they need to do it. I don't necessarily think that Stephen Strange was ever any better of a sorcerer that say Doctor Voodoo. I think he just had a better understanding and grasp of all the 'rules'. But, that's just my opinion. Anyways, to protect the Eye Voodoo sends it to Luke Cage. I assume . . I hope, he thought it would be safer because he guessed that he would be in the company of his fellow Avengers. Either that, or . . he just drew a straw out of a hat. Anyways, shortly after getting it Luke becomes the one that's possessed. Logan brings Stephen and Daimon back to the fold after he stabs them. Somehow the physical trauma releases the hold of whatever demon is possessing them. See . . another one of those 'rules'. Anyways, there's a bunch of pushing and shoving and eventually Iron Fist ends up with the Eye. This time whoever possesses him takes off for their home dimension shortly after. I'm not sure why they didn't do that when Luke had it. And shortly after Danny disappears. And then . . the skies open up. It appears that there's been a rift opened between our dimension and wherever these demons are coming from. The story doesn't progress a whole lot further in issue #3. Victoria Hand is brought back into the mix. And she actually saves Jessica and her baby from being attacked. Oh yeah, the demons seem to be running rampant around New York City now. We also see that wherever Danny has been whisked off to . . they can't seem to touch him. We don't actually see who's there . . just a whole lot of bright light, but we, and Danny, hear their voices. Apparently they can't touch Danny because he's enlightened. They expected him to be destroyed by the time he arrived. Also Voodoo, Strange and Hellstrom have begun trying to work on locating the Eye, hopefully returning it and Danny, and also stopping the destruction of their dimension by whomever is attacking it from wherever they're coming from. And finally, at the end of the issue, we see that whomever is behind this was at one time Doctor Strange's teacher. I'm not that familiar with Doctor Strange, or his history, so I don't know who this guy is. But he appears to be a much older version of Doctor Strange, or perhaps his predecessor. I thought the issues were entertaining. I love the way the Brian Bendis writes the dialogue between all these characters. I'm suspecting that's why he's got Spider-man attached to this group. Nobody chatters during a fight more than Peter. And actually I'm glad that Brian is still attached to the Avengers. But I'm also pleased that he's not doing all the books, as he was a few years ago. This is a vast group with all it's appendages splitting off into various titles. Personally, I think the more writers that are involved . . the better ideas that we're going to get. And through that . . better stories. Also, as usual, Stuart Immonen is doing a great job with the art. I was planning on just sticking with one of the Avengers titles. But now? Now I'm not so sure. I'm enjoying all these books . . in their own unique way.

Avengers Academy #1, #2 and #3 - Marvel

I know I said I wasn't going to do this, but . . I wanted to give this book a shot. So I waited until the first 3 issues came out . . decided to pick them up . . and then read all 3 of them together. I wanted to see if they could do anything interesting here, plus . . I like these characters. As it turns out . . I thought it was pretty good. The setting is the Infinite Avengers Mansion. So we have Hank Pym, Tigra, Justice, Speedball and Quicksilver as the 'mentors in residence' Not to mention Jocasta. The only person I didn't see was Jarvis. He must of went back with the 'real' Avengers. Anyways, we also have a new class of recruits. Looking at the cover for issue #1, and going from left to right, we have Striker, Hazmat, Finesse, Reptil, Mettle and Veil. Reptil was the kid who appeared in the Avengers Initiative special. If you didn't read it, it's in my blog here . . somewhere. And the theme of this book, and both sides of this team, seems to be 'misfits', or 'damaged goods'. We all know that the Avengers here are all team-members with a checkered past. Well, that is to say, they've done things that are questionable and . . they've all been given a second chance. Third or fourth chances in some cases. Well, the team of recruits seems to be in the same position. It starts out all 'candy and roses', with the mentors telling the recruits that they're the 'brightest and the best'. And after reading all three issues I will say that they all have tremendous initiative. There's that word again. But we later find out that the reason they're actually here is because . . 'We're the ones Osborn tortured the worst. The ones whose psych tests set off alarms. The ones who could take out a city block. We're not here 'cause they think we have what it takes to be the next Captain America. We're here 'cause they're worried we'll be the next Red Skull.' In issues #2 and #3 Christos Gage starts focusing on the kids training, and on the individual team members. In issue #2 we get some background on Finesse. We also see the team, and their training, through her eyes. Because of her abilities, she, and Hank, wonder if she might be the Taskmaster's daughter. But because all of his information was wiped out of the records by Osborn . . the don't have anything to compare her to. Hank shows her a documentary on Quicksilver to try to inspire her, but instead . . she stumbles across something of her own. Because of the way she picks up knowledge she also has an incredible memory. And she's already reviewed most of the Avengers files. So after watching the show, she confronts Piotr with the fact that there never was a Skrull version of him. It was an excuse for what he did. He gets seriously pissed because he thinks that she's blackmailing him. But that's not what she wants at all. 'I'd like to learn. I want you to give me private lessons. Unless you want the world to know your secrets, you'll teach me . . what Magneto taught you . . in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.' Then in issue #3, we get another perspective of this team . . from Hazmat's point of view. Her story is probably the most tragic. As she almost killed her parents and boyfriend when her powers triggered. Of course what Osborn did to her was no 'piece of cake' either. We also start the substitute-teacher process this issue. Any number of Avengers have agreed to step in and help teach these students. So far we see Iron Fist and Valkrie. And Hank decides to take the team on a field trip, and give Luke a chance to address the kids. Of course they have to go to where he's working now, and that's . . the Raft. Which in and of itself probably wouldn't be that big of a deal . . it's a 'Scared Straight' type of thing. The problem is . . Osborn is also currently at the Raft. And Hazmat, Finesse and Mettle have more than a few bones to pick with him. The issue ends with Hazmat setting off a localized EMP . . which shuts down the prison and with it all security measures. And then the 3 of them track down to Osborn's cell. Of course he's calm and analytical. He let's them know that it'll only be a matter of minutes before they have EMP-shielded back-up systems on line. Which is when Hazmat tells him . . 'That's ok . . you'll be dead by then.' I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this series. I don't know what I was expecting . . another version of Avengers Initiative, or Young Avengers. And . . it kind of is. But I also think that Christos has kind of taken the best of both of those series and brought them together. Christos has also come a long way as a writer. I think he does a great job with the character development. And he has a way of getting the reader bought in to the story. I'll probably stay with this one for at least a few more issues to check it out. Another selling point, at least to me, of this series is Mike McKone's art. It's not flashy or groundbreaking, like some other artists, but . . it's got a really warm feel to it. It just feels comfortable . . or nostalgic, kind of. I don't know if I'm explaining it right, but . . I like it. Like I said, I'll probably pick up at least the next few issues to see how it goes. My curiosity has been piqued.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Chuck vs Cubic Z - Season 4 - Episode 3 - NBC

I like that Chuck and Sarah are delving into their relationship more, but . . I'm also glad to see that the Buy-More, and it's misfit cast of characters, is getting more attention now. As usual this episode revolves around two separate, but interactive, storylines. One involving Chuck and Sarah . . the awkward advancement of their relationship . . and how their jobs as spys get in the way of them figuring it all out. At least in a timely fashion. They always seem to get there eventually, but. . they also take a long time jumping the many hurdles in their way. This time, as their looking forward to a romantic trip, and mission, to Morocco, things are put on hold as they have to hold and detain Hugo Panzer and Heather Chandler . . Steve Austin and Nicole Richie. It's been this sense of danger and adventure, I think, that's brought them together. And I'm sure it keeps everything exciting. But it also seems to make them realize how important their time together is. Eventually, with Heather/Nicole's reluctant help, they decide to take it slowly. That is until a series of events leads Chuck into looking like he's proposing to her. They're both stymied as Chuck doesn't know if he should or shouldn't. Even though it wasn't what he had planned. Plus he doesn't know what Sarah's reaction will or won't be. Does he make her mad by pursuing the issue, or does he make her mad by acting like it's all a big joke? And Sarah seems to be just as mystified. Is Chuck serious or not? Should she act like she's answering, or act like it's all a big joke? So again the episode ends with them awkwardly stumbling through another relationship obstacle. Anyways, on the Buy-More side . . with the release of a new, highly anticipated game, Grimes is finding out just how hard it is to run this ship all by himself. And, of course, just then . . Big Mike comes walking back into the picture. He shows up because he's decided to ask Grimes' mother to marry him, but . . he wants Grimes' blessing. He ends up sticking around because he can see how much Grimes is in over his head, and offers to help. Through the course of this drama Grimes realizes just what an asset Mike is . . both to the store and to his mother. So he gives him his blessing, and asks him to be the Asst. Manager. And with that . . everyone is back in place. Things are a little different and shaken up, but . . the central cast of characters are still there. Jeff and Lester also play a hilarious role in traumatic launch of this game . . Spy-Attack. During this operation Casey gets hurt, and is assigned to desk duty for the interim. And Chuck gets another little piece of information from Heather/Nicole about his mom . . Frost. Heather was involved in an 'operation Beacon', back in Europe. And she saw that Frost was very close to Alexei Volkov. She doesn't know what their relationship was, or her reasons for being there, just that they were always together. You know what this series kind of puts me in mind of? The old 'Get Smart' series. You know, with Don Adams and Barbara Feldon . . Agent 86, and Agent 99? Except Chuck isn't as slapstick. And I think it also focus' more on the actual mission at hand. But Chuck and Agent 86 are similar in that they are the inept spy, who really wants to be at the top of their respective games, but tend to do so more out of luck or chance than actual ability. Anyways, for the most part I like the storylines, but what keeps me coming back is the humor and the ridiculous situations. Other than Smallville . . and Big Bang Theory . . this is my favorite show on TV, right now.