Friday, March 31, 2017

The Camden Comic Con 2017

Next Saturday, April 8th, 2017, the place to be will be Rutgers University in Camden NJ, because it's Camden Comic Con time. I've done my time at comics conventions in Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore, and I've even gone to those sad little hotel ballroom comics shows, so you know I know this field, so let me tell you, the Camden Comic Con is the best.

Run by Bill Haas and Miranda Powell, among others, this show rules. This will be its fourth year, and my fourth year attending and participating. My partner in The GAR! Podcast, Ray Cornwall and I have been there every year recording during the show and witnessing the fun and the cool as it happens. This year we'll be doing the same, and even moderating a panel as well. In all my time podcasting and convention going, this event is my favorite. Besides our recording during the event, there is also a strong presence at the show of Biff Bam Pop! and the South Jersey Writers' Group. Look sharp!

You can find out more about the Camden Comic Con right here, or at their Facebook page and Twitter. Guests this year include Larry Hama, Fred Van Lente, Bryan J.L. Glass, Neil Vokes, Diana Leto, Mark Poulton, Dean Haspiel, and others. There will be panels, gaming, cosplay, and even food trucks. Did I mention that it's free? Yeah, baby, free!

You can hear the episodes of The GAR! Podcast recorded at the first three Camden Comic Cons right here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Arrow S05 E18: Disbanded

Mentally and physically beaten and defeated by Prometheus, Oliver limps to the Arrowcave and proclaims Team Arrow and the mission shut down, it's over.  The rest of the team disagrees.  As they retool and regroup, equipment courtesy of ARGUS and Felicity's apartment as secret lair, Chase continues to taunt Oliver at the office.  Now, not that I'm advocating such behavior, but what's to stop Spartan or Wild Dog from just shooting this son of a bitch from across the street?  Seriously. Game over, Chase. 

While Oliver walks around like he's getting ready for his own funeral, it's nice to see he hasn't completely given up as he contacts Anatoly, the KGBeast in the Bratva, for a favor - kill Adrian Chase.  With five episodes left, I doubt they will succeed, but still good try, and nice tying up of loose ends.  Their price however is high. 

Felicity turns to Helix for help, but they keep wanting more and more in exchange for their help, namely her hacking skills.  They discover that Prometheus uses a scrambling program that prevents him from being recorded visually.  Once Felicity has hacked Kord Industries for that unreleased tech, Helix can reverse engineer it.  What happens when the price for all this free intel exceeds what Felicity can pay? 

Meanwhile, Team Arrow sans its Arrow is on the move with their new itchy ARGUS ninja suits.  They run afoul of illegal drug operations run by Anatoly, allowed by Oliver in payment for his favor.  Diggle is not pleased.  He tries very hard to be Jiminy Cricket to Oliver's Pinocchio, but the mayor tells him one last time to stand down. So Oliver has let Bratva have free run of Star City, in exchange for a job they haven't done yet? 

Things get crazy when the Bratva does try to take Chase down, as Team Arrow stops them.  In the confusion Chase bumps into Curtis, beats him down rather brutally while taunting him about his husband.  So is he a hate criminal as well as a super-villain?  That was a bit disturbing.  There was an ulterior motive however, as Curtis planted the anti-cloaking device on him. 

The flashbacks continue with Oliver contemplating returning home after his wild five-year adventure.  They parallel the current storyline only with both Oliver and Anatoly wearing different wigs.  Gotta give props to the hair people on this show, for most of all five seasons, good work.  It's a shame that their relationship is about to come to an end. 

In some of the best character bits in quite some time, John convinces Oliver that the team is on his side and will stand by him, both against Prometheus, and in helping him be a better man.  Meanwhile, at the behest of Helix, who have figured out their identities, Felicity and Curtis break in to Kord Industries (are we ever going to see Blue Beetle?). It's a good back and forth sequence as ninja Oliver and Team Arrow clash with Anatoly and Bratva. 

In the end, the team succeeds in obtaining footage of Adrian Chase as Prometheus.  While finally outted, and on the run, he is still dangerous and the baddie to beat this season.  Anatoly has returned to Russia after the tiff with Oliver, but has left his best men in Star City, all hungry for revenge on the vigilantes that betrayed them.  And Helix is just waiting in wings to be the new baddies on the block. 

I always get scared with this show when it reaches a moment like this.  When things are status quo, seemingly back to normal, and everyone is getting along - it's usually time for everything to explode.  Yeah, it's time. 

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Arrow S05 E17: Kapiushon

When we last left "Arrow," things were definitely moving in a different direction.  Adrian Chase had been revealed as Prometheus, and he had defeated (with Talia's help) Green Arrow and kidnapped him.  Now his prisoner, Oliver is at the villain's mercy.  We open shortly after we left last time with Chase spouting philosophical nonsense no one understands yet and putting Oliver through the gauntlet of how the Hood killed Chase's father. 

While Chase tortures Oliver, the showrunners torture us viewers with the neverending Bratva flashbacks.  I sincerely hope there's a point to them, and we get to it soon, because honestly I am sooo tempted to just start fast-forwarding through these things. And then, just as I was about to do that very thing, something grabs my attention. 

John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn meeting with Dolph Lundgren's Kovar, now that could be interesting, especially in flashback.  It's suggested that Merlyn has provided Kovar with a weapon to overthrow the Russian government.  With Anatoly, the KGBeast, moving up in Bratva, and the Hood (in Russian, the episode's title, Kapiushon) on his side, there's a good chance that won't happen. 

Meanwhile, Chase's sadistic torture of Oliver, to get him to reveal a mysterious secret to him, is very reminiscent of Oliver's own methods in the flashbacks as the early prototypical Hood.  It's a bit of a wake up call when Anatoly compares Oliver to Slade Wilson and Anthony Ivo.  How's that for a flashback? 

Speaking of flashbacks, in the present, before leaving... I guess for work... Chase gives Oliver a present.  It's Artemis, Evelyn, and she's been beaten, probably tortured - Chase calls it making her compliant, she's definitely broken.  When he returns, one of them had better be dead at the other's hands.  If it's Oliver, Evelyn gets to go free. 

Although we get a final battle between the Hood and Konstantin Kovar in the past, the memory prompts Oliver to confess the secret that Chase wants.  Oliver is a killer, a spree killer, a serial killer (as I noted early on in these reviews myself), not because of a list, or a mission, but because he liked it. 

As the ordeal(s) ends, we see the beginning and end of Oliver's Bratva tattoo, and a Green Arrow beaten and shutting it all down.  He's been defeated.  Meanwhile in the past, Kovar has been resurrected with Merlyn's help, so I'm sure he'll be back in the present (future?).  This is a by far darker cliffhanger than we got last time, can they beat it next time? 

Surprisingly the showrunners engaged me in the Bratva crap that I had long since gotten tired of.  They re-energized not one, not two, but three villains who had lost their edge for the most part.  All in all a good episode, can they do it again? 

Next: Disbanded!

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Arrow S05 E16: Checkmate

When I first saw the title of this episode - "Checkmate" - I have to admit to groaning, hoping they were not bringing the Checkmate concept from the comics into the Arrowverse.  So much of this covert government task force is already part of the series however, including Arsenal, Deadshot, Amanda Waller, Vixen, the Suicide Squad, the Huntress, Count Vertigo, Mr. Terrific, Deathstroke, and the Adrian Chase Vigilante - so why not? 

We open on Oliver in snow peaked mountains searching for his former teacher, Talia, who until now we have only seen in flashback.  We learn that in fact the showrunners have a calendar they've been following, and that Oliver had no idea who Talia really was.  If the shocked duh look on Oliver's face wasn't enough when he found out he'd killed Talia's father and that's why she trained Prometheus - the look was even more priceless when she told him his name was Adrian Chase.  I have to hand it to the showrunners, this was a good one. 

When Oliver returns to Star City he confronts Chase only to find he's already aware.  He'd kidnapped Susan Williams and will kill her if Oliver makes the wrong move.  I gotta say, Chase revealed is far more interesting than he was previously, maybe a reason for a sooner reveal.  Now he's got a bit of a swagger not unlike Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan on "The Walking Dead." 

Meanwhile the Russian flashbacks continue, and Felicity joins Helix.  She's nowhere to be found when Team Arrow makes its assault on Chase's house looking for Susan.  Curtis sports a slightly different outfit, more like the comics, presumably to go along with his new operational T-Spheres.  I like the red and white, nice to have bright colors on the show again.  Spartan as well seems to have had a helmet upgrade.  Did Cisco visit?  Coolness. 

When Felicity returns, one thing she does learn is that Adrian Chase is an alias, and his real name is Simon Morrison, notably the real name of the comics Prometheus.  But of course for that information Helix wants something in exchange, perhaps suggesting the group Checkmate intimated in the episode title. 

Other than the posturing, and pardon my language, pissing contests, and penis measuring between Green Arrow and Prometheus, both in and out of costume, not much else really happens.  Much.  I found myself wondering if Oliver really cares all that much about Susan.  If he did, he could always call in a super-fast friend who could search the city in seconds.  That's the good thing about a shared universe. 

In the end, Talia joins Prometheus in taking down Green Arrow, and now our hero is the prisoner of a psychopath who killed his own wife like it was nothing.  This was a better than average episode, managing to surprise, and entertain, but I fear like other seasons of "Arrow," this may go on too long...

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

More DC Rebirth

DC Rebirth continues, so do my reviews. If you want to see what I've said before, click here, here, and here. Today I'm looking at a few more, enjoy.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps - When I looked at the Rebirth issue of Green Lanterns I expressed disappointment at not really seeing much of Hal Jordan. While he's not my favorite (that would be the Golden Age Alan Scott), he's a close second, and it's good to see he's at least headlining a title. After an intriguing opening with an aged Sinestro, we get the convoluted recent history of Jordan, which frankly put me to sleep. We get Hal Jordan reborn finally, and possibly a call out to a new Corps, but it seems too little, an attempt at hope, but not quite enough.

Nightwing - I wanted to like this, I really did, but like the first title here, it is bogged down in unnecessary continuity. I have always liked Dick Grayson. I thought he was a bit of a dope on the 1966 TV series, but when I read his solo college stories in the comics, I was all in on Dick, he was cool. I dug him as Nightwing in the Titans, solo not so much, and I did enjoy the comics when he was a spy in Grayson when I picked them up. This comic didn't have any of the stuff I liked in it, and I really wish it did.

Red Hood and the Outlaws - I hated this book and concept the first time I read it waaay back in The New 52, and it does not seem to have aged well since then. At least we get a solid origin for Jason Todd all in one place, but that's about the best I can say about it. I still don't know what Bizarro and is that Circe? have to do with this title.

Suicide Squad - With the specter of a bad received movie haunting this one, I don't know what to think of this one. Why is Harley Quinn here? This is like going to a remake of a movie you loved and having it be nearly unrecognizable. I probably won't be back.

New Super-Man - Unlike those above, this one was probably so good because it was refreshingly new - new character, new situation, no baggage - more like a birth than a rebirth. Most importantly, it was a lot of fun. I want to read more. This one is a keeper.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Arrow S05 E15: Fighting Fire with Fire

First thoughts - the showrunners at "Arrow" simply have to stop trying to make me care about Bratva and all of its subplots and entanglements.  It's just not what Green Arrow is all about, not what I want to watch, and most of all - it's boring.  It was cool for two minutes in the first season when Oliver showed off his tattoo and got favors from the Russian mob, but now, zzzzzzzz...  Put it to bed, folks, it's old - five years old to be precise, move on. 

We open on the current scandal in the mayor's office about the cover-up that Green Arrow killed Billy Malone.  Don't get me wrong here, all this political crap is only slightly less boring than the Bratva.  More costumes and less mindless subplotting.  When they do talk about super-villains, it borders on extreme paranoia, that Prometheus is behind it all.

This all leads to impeachment hearings for the mayor with Adrian Chase defending Oliver.  When Vigilante attacks the mayoral motorcade, Dinah, Thea, and Ollie defend themselves a bit too well to prevent their secret identities, but Vigilante runs when the police arrive.  Chase arrives shortly after that.  In the comics Chase is Vigilante, but in the Arrowverse, I'm not so sure. 

As the political drama goes on and on, Diggle organizes Team Arrow to pursue Vigilante.  Ugh, this guy again, I thought we'd had a break from him like we'd had from Prometheus.  Speak of the devil the two run afoul of each other with Prometheus revealed as Adrian Chase!  Now this is an interesting turn of events.  Other folks have been Vigilante in comics, that's one thing, but Chase as Prometheus throws a monkey wrench into quite a lot here. 

So with Oliver throwing Green Arrow under the bus as a vigilante and cop killer, he doesn't get impeached.  Also everything got patched up with Susan Williams, thanks to reverse hacking on Felicity's part, but we once again lose Thea, who had turned her assassin training to politics.  Other than the bad guys, it's status quo again on a few fronts. 

There were highlights in the episode, like Curtis working to his technical strengths and revealing what are Mr. Terrific's cool T-Spheres from the comics. With Felicity moving more and more to the dark side with Helix and Pandora, they'll need all the tech help they can get.  We also get a return of Dr. Schwartz, who knows Oliver's other identity, she might be a nice addition to the regular cast. 

One of the end of episode stinger with Curtis thinking he's getting back together with Paul then backfires when Paul hands him divorce papers.  Hold that thought above the other bits of Felicity joining Helix and Chase threatening Susan - but it occurred to me, could Paul be Vigilante? 

Next: "Checkmate!"

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.