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Have comics on TV reached saturation?

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I started this site way back when with the name “Comic Book Clog” because I liked the name, the imagery it invoked, but more to the point, it’s the way I felt about comics at the time.  For example:  to follow Batman, you had to read all of the Batman family books.  (I made a video about this an even longer time ago.)  Same goes for Spider-Man… and this is how it’s been for a long time.  Then it became that way for other characters and groups like X-Men, The Avengers and so on.  It became too much (both from a content and cost standpoint) and it pushed me out of a ton of books.

And now, I feel that it’s reached this critical point on TV.

While I’m still watching the movies (although DC/WB has tried my patience – it’s great that 93% of reviews for Wonder Woman are positive, but a 7.6 average score isn’t exactly, “run, don’t walk” territory), it’s hard for me to get excited about comic books on TV.

I started watching Agents of SHIELD because I like the actor who plays Coulson as well as the character and a TV show seemed to be the perfect place to explore the MCU.  I enjoyed the first season and the way they tied it into Winter Soldier, but as the show devolved into Daisey’s Agents of X-Men somewhere in season 3, I completely lost interest.  (I’ve talked about this before.)

So, I moved into the Netflix corner of the MCU.  There, I enjoyed season 1 of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but Matt Murdock’s season 2 didn’t wow me the way the first one did and I have yet to finish Luke Cage or even start Iron Fist.

And don’t even get me started on Gotham.

So where do I go from here?  I watched the first few episodes of Supergirl and quickly got bored, I enjoyed the first episode of Arrow but immediately forgot it existed… and wtf is Preacher?  I heard The Gifted was good, but I just haven’t gotten to it.  Does it tie in with the X-Men movies?  I’m not sure I have the energy for that at this point.

I’ve reached saturation.  To everybody else, hang in there.

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quick thoughts Deadpool: No Good Deed

Ryan Reynolds is back as Deadpool with another tease.  This time, he’s cracking wise about old school Superman and Hugh Jackman while hinting at the future.

Yes, the Superman joke was a little on the nose what with the theme music and all and that was old even when the granddaddy of all superhero movies came out back in 1978.

But whatever, it’s all in good fun.  It’s one of those jokes; the longer it goes on, the funnier it gets.

And yes, the Hugh Jackman stuff was funny.  I particularly enjoyed the accent and the marquee in the background.  The real thing we got from this short video was the Nathan Summers revelation.

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So I think this is as official as confirmation gets that Nathan Summers (aka Cable) will either be in Deadpool 2 or X-Force or both.  When the X-Men franchise jumped backwards in time and mostly retreaded the same characters, I thought that expansion of the universe was not in the cards, but here we are.

I tend to think that we should all thank our lucky stars that X-Men are not part of the Marvel Cinematic Univers. That next Avengers movie is crowded as it is and this gives Fox more room to further explore these characters and MCU more latitude to dive into stuff like Guardians of the Galaxy, which we NEVER would have gotten if the MCU had access to the X-Men characters.

So, Deadpool:  No Good Deed… it’s good.  Any excuse to see Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, right?  Sure, it’s not great and it’s certainly not an essential watch, but I’m glad we live in a world where this exists.

Flash: Dead or Alive

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Vibe hits on Gypsy, which is an odd choice…

HR Wells takes over the introductory narration for Flash’s “Dead or Alive.” That kind of makes sense, since a lot of the episode is about him. As the intro goes on, we gradually see that the voiceover is actually part of one of Wells’ books that we’ve heard about before. He’s also taking Flash’s place as the main hero of the story, which makes for some amusing visuals. Flash (or Wells) is going up against some weapons dealers with some pretty high tech hardware, which also figures into the story as we go.

The opening arms dealers are defeated by Flash and Kid Flash. Barry is clearly happy with Wally’s progress, and lets him get all the attention from a conveniently placed bus full of cheerleaders they happen to save at the end of the chase. Iris teases Barry later about the cheerleaders, which is fun to watch.

As the STAR crew talks about the opening clash, most of them are congratulatory, and Julian is his usual annoying self. It’s like they were missing the prior Wells’ aloofness and arrogance, and gave that role to Julian. Iris talks about the weapons dealers being both part of how Plunder got his gear in last week’s episode, and a story she’s chasing down herself. Barry is a bit worried about her risking her life for a story, but that’s a concern that goes back to the original superhero/girlfriend, Superman and Lois Lane. Speaking of being worried about Iris, Cisco has so far not found a way to change that future, but they have mapped it out. Amusingly, the reconstruction is made out of Legos. Somehow, that fits for Cisco. Julian says that simple math shows Barry isn’t getting fast enough to save Iris from Savitar, and he does seem to have a point, in his dickish way.

The woman from last episode’s final scene breaks into Jitters, which is a bit weird. You don’t see a lot of breaking and entering in closed coffee shops. She picks up a few random things and proves to have a psychometry power similar to Cisco’s. When a cop shows up, she shows more powers like Vibe. Barry and Joe later work the scene, and Joe says nothing was taken and the money is in the register. That’s wrong. Any small business, and most of the larger ones, empty their cash drawers when they close. That to one side, Joe asks if Iris is all right, and Barry continues to not tell Joe about Savitar’s upcoming homicide. Joe, too, is worried about Iris’ pursuit of the arms dealers.

At STAR, Cisco, Caitlin, and HR go over the footage from the Jitters break in. They get surprised when the woman turns up at STAR Labs, and then calls out HR. He tells his friends that this is Gypsy, a “Collector,” which seems to mean bounty hunter. Gypsy uses her power to portal in to STAR, and proceeds to wipe the floor with Cisco and then Kid-Flash. She tells the STAR crew they have been harboring a fugitive, that inter-dimensional travel is banned on their world, and that HR has an hour to get his affairs in order.  She also tells them that HR has been narrating his books and sending them back to Earth 19, their world. Cisco flirts with her a few times, which Caitlin later mocks him for.

Wells shares that the penalty for breaking the dimensional travel ban is death. Apparently, there was a war with a “neighboring Earth” 25 years ago, which left them fearful of such things. Barry wonders how this is going to work, since he saw Wells in his second glimpse of Iris’ death. Julian says that for all they know, sending Wells back home is what changes their future. Barry and Iris also talk more about her pursuit of the weapons dealer. I see both sides here: he’s worried about her safety, but she needs to be able to do her job.

Iris next visits the Speed Lab, where Wally is training again. She brings up what Barry told them about their Flashpoint selves being a crimefighting duo (anyone remember when they said they didn’t want to know about that timeline? Neither do they). Iris leans on her brother and talks him into helping her on the story, and keeping it secret from Barry.

Wells is packing his gear, saying he’ll miss soap operas. That seems like a weird focus for a guy about to be put to death to me. He also mentions trial by combat as a way out, which seems really weird. What “modern” society allows for that? When Gypsy comes back, Cisco challenges her before Barry can, which is when he learns he’s signed up for a fight to the death. Nice job, Vibe.

There’s a lot of worry about Cisco’s upcoming fight. They seem to have the same powers, but Gypsy is better with them. Julian proves he’s not just walking snark when he points out a weakness in her fighting style, which he’s been studying. There’s also some talk about why Cisco is risking his life for HR.

There’s a comic relief scene of Iris and Wally stealing some info from CCPD. It mostly just makes Joe uncomfortable while Iris babbles. For this being her plan, she seems really unprepared to keep Joe distracted. But this does give us another chance to see DA Cecile, Joe’s current love interest.

After a scene showing Cisco is not doing well with his training, HR and Barry get the bright idea to try and capture Gypsy and avoid the fight. They do badly, and Gypsy somehow or other manages to both use a portal against Flash and cuff him in the transit, which makes no sense at all to me. A very annoyed Gypsy portals away, taking HR hostage until the fight.

Cisco is mad at Barry for going behind his back and not believing in him. While I can understand that, Cisco himself was saying he didn’t think he could beat her, so he’s fussing a bit too much. Barry apologizes, saying he’s really worried about stopping Savitar and not increasing his speed fast enough to save Iris.

Iris follows up a lead on where the weapons dealer is, which also makes no sense. If she got there off the info she and Wally stole, why don’t the police know about it? She convinced Wally to go check for tunnels, leaving her alone to get captured by the criminal. Iris essentially dares him to shoot her, saying she isn’t dying today. Later on, no one is happy about her behavior, including a really furious Joe.

Cisco gets a text from Gypsy and goes to fight her in his full Vibe gear. After more flirting, they fight. Their portals zap them from the park they start in, to a ruined-looking Earth 2, to CatCo’s offices on Supergirl’s Earth, and some hell world that I guess is an Earth that didn’t do well. Eventually, they end up back where they started and Cisco uses Julian’s trick to beat her. The agreement they come to is Gypsy goes back home and tells everyone HR is dead, which also makes no sense. If trial by combat is a viable option, why the need for a lie? Either she’s that worried about her rep, or that embarrassed that Cisco both beat her and spared her.

Barry reads Iris’ story while she paces, eventually admitting he’s read it several times with his speed and is teasing her. It’s a good story, he says. Kid-Flash gets a lot of credit, which was part of what she promised him. Barry comes to two realizations: if Savitar is mad that future-Barry imprisoned him, that means Barry can beat him, and that if he’s not getting fast enough, someone else might be. HR and Cisco get a little moment about Cisco risking his life for HR.

What I liked: I’m glad that Kid-Flash is showing so much promise as a new hero, and not doing the “goofy novice” bit so many starting supers do. It was fun seeing Gypsy and Vibe bounce around from Earth to Earth.

What I didn’t: I don’t like Iris getting so fatalistic about her future. She’s going to get herself in real trouble that way, as we saw here. Julian is just annoying. Did we need another irksome genius? They talked up Cisco getting killed in the fight, but never addressed the “You’re supposed to kill her if you win” aspect in passing near the end. After all the buildup and focus on the STAR Museum, they dropped it that quick? And Gypsy was nothing like any version of her I’ve ever seen (see below).

It was a decent episode, but it had some issues. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.

And now, Gypsy:

Gypsy first appeared during the “Justice League Detroit” era of the JLA, which is also when Vibe debuted. She at first had camouflage powers, and later was able to protect illusions directly into people’s minds. She was usually dressed like a stereotypical Romany, which many didn’t like. Also, since so many “gypsies” are shown as showmen/performers of some kind, making one invisible was an odd choice.  After the DCNU reboot, Gypsy became an alien princess from another dimension who was a supporting character near the end of Vibe’s solo book. At no point did she show powers like Cisco’s.

Green Hornet: Reign of the Demon 2

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Green Hornet: Reign of the Demon 2

Writer: David Liss
Artist: Kewber Baal
Colorist: Adriano Augusto
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Ken Lashley and Pete Pantazis

Dynamite Comics has started their new volume of Green Hornet. There are additions and surprises this go around, and it’s a fun ride. Dynamite is expanding on the Hornet’s world, which is only fitting. After all, Green Hornet and Lone Ranger being related was the very first shared world/universe among masked heroes, long before either DC or Marvel were around.

Now, Chicago is being threatened by a new enemy. A man (probably) name Demone is moving in on the underworld, and he’s not just another crime boss. He seems to be invulnerable, which is not good, as the Green Hornet and Kato are both non-powered. Things are even more complicated by the appearance of the Swashbuckler, a masked hero who must have seen a few too many Douglas Fairbanks movies.

As if all this wasn’t enough, there’s the Hornet’s new research assistant Casey Case (love the character, not the name), Miss Travis the intrepid reporter, corruption in the police department, and some sort of elaborate trap in the offing for the Hornet. I’m not sure how long this series is supposed to run, but I’m really enjoying it. Things are definitely picking up speed in old Chicago.

Plot: I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5 for plot. There’s a lot going on, but it’s building well and I’m really curious to see where it goes.

Art: I’ll go 3.5 out of 5 for this, too. I like the artwork. The fights occasionally look a bit off, but the rest of it is really good.

Positives: I’m intrigued by Swashbuckler. I like his theme, he’s clearly pretty damn smart, and he’s picking up on a lot of things others have missed. Demone is interesting, too. I’m not sure I remember the Hornet fighting a supervillain before, outside of his various team ups in other Dynamite comics.

Negatives: Not a lot. I’m hoping they explain what’s going on with Demone, as suddenly introducing powers into a non-powered world is a big change. But if they do it well, I’m ok with it.

I like this story so far, I enjoy classic characters like Green Hornet and Kato, and I’m really interested to see where this goes.

Flash: The Present

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Earth-3: Flash fights Trickster… wait. whose show is this again?

Flash returns from the big alien invasion/crossover for the winter finale episode, “The Present.” It’s a clever title, since this is their Christmas episode, where presents are sure to be found, and they’ve been dealing a lot with time travel, so it could also be the “this point in time” kind of present. They do work in a lot of stuff for a one hour episode, although the usual cliffhanger aspect is a bit lacking.

Giving us an Indiana Jones vibe, the episode starts off in the Indus Valley in India, some four years ago. Julian is in charge of a dig, complete with khaki outfit and hat. They find something in an old temple, a curiously carved old stone box. Julian, of course, opens it and there’s a strange energy effect.

Skipping back to the present, HR has gone all out decorating STAR for the holidays. Apparently some traditions are multiversal. They have found no good clues about Savitar. While Barry and Iris discuss Christmas plans, Cisco is trying to run down information on Alchemy’s stone, which seems to fit in with Hindu mythology. Cisco gets distracted when he glimpses Dante, his deceased brother. Before that, the team discovered that the stone apparently has a long history of creating metas. They also find a published paper about the stone… by Julian Albert.

Barry returns to the lab to talk to Julian, who is his usual smirking self. He reminds Barry of their deal, that Barry shouldn’t be there. Barry, in turn, presses him about the paper and the “Vermasara stone,” as they are calling it. Julian tells them the story from the opening, and says he never found anything. When Barry asks about Savitar, Julian freezes up, then tells Barry not to waste time on the stone. After Barry leaves, Julian starts hearing Savitar’s voice again, and goes to get his hidden Alchemy gear. As this happens, elsewhere in the building Joe and Camille discuss the recent alien invasion (another great bit of continuity), holiday parties, and eggnog recipes.

Over on Earth 3, Mark Hamill reprises his role as the Trickster, looking and sounding a bit more like Joker than Trickster. He goes up against his Flash, Jay Garrick, who gets some help from Barry. After the team-up ends, Barry asks for information about Savitar, who Jay has heard of but not fought. According to rumor, Savitar was the first man granted superspeed, and he’s always preceded by Alchemy. I’m a bit curious about this, since Alchemy seems so focused on Flashpoint. Do all speedsters give in to the temptation to change history, and that’s what summons Alchemy/Savitar?

HR and Wally are off for more secret training, because secrets always go so well in the CW-verse. Wally is faster than Barry was at this point in his career, which both of them find exciting. Wally wants to tell the others, but HR pleads self-preservation. Much as I don’t think the secrets are a good idea, I see HR’s point.

Barry speed-reads everything he can get his hands on from Hindu mythology, and finds nothing of use. Jay is taking a more zen-like approach. He’s acting a bit like one of the few DC speedsters we haven’t seen or heard of on the show, Max Mercury. Maybe Max will turn up eventually.

Caitlin walks in on Cisco just after he’s had another vision of Dante. Thankfully, he doesn’t go the secret route, and actually tells her what’s going on. They have a nice talk about Christmas stories with family.

At the West home, Barry walks in to see it’s all decorated. He and Iris talk about the holiday and how busy Barry is. He also says he hasn’t wrapped her gift yet, but it sounds like he hasn’t gotten one yet, which Iris seems to know, but is very understanding about. She also apparently got bored, and has been digging in to Julian’s ill-fated expedition. Apparently, Julian lost four people on the dig, which he didn’t tell Barry about.

After speeding back to STAR, most of the team have a meeting about Savitar. Wally wants to help, and everyone thinks this is a bad idea. A frustrated Wally tells them about his training with HR, which doesn’t really do anyone any good. The two Flashes run off to confront Alchemy, who has turned up again. This turns into a fight that gets ugly when Savitar arrives, too. At least Jay can see him.

They split up, with Barry going after Alchemy and Jay taking Savitar. Barry ends up using his lightning trick to defeat Alchemy, and unmasks him, revealing Julian’s secret. Jay and Savitar duke it out and Jay gets a savage beating. Savitar continues his annoying habit of seeming to know everything, telling Jay, “This isn’t your fight, Garick.” In a bit I don’t quite understand, Alchemy is carrying around the stone box from the temple. When Barry puts the stone back in it, Savitar disappears as he looms over Jay. If that makes Savitar disappear, why would he tell his right hand man to keep the stone and the box together? Or even allow it?

Julian wakes up in the Pipeline and is very confused. He not only denies everything about Alchemy, he accuses Flash of setting him up. Flash says he’s insane and walks off to talk to Jay. They talk about who is whose sidekick, which is entertaining. Jay is in the lab, still healing up after the beating from Savitar.

The rest of the team watches Julian on the monitor, and agrees something isn’t making sense. Cisco comes up with a great description of the strange stone box, and says it’s registering as nothing on every test they have. I guess this version of magic and tech isn’t blending well together.

Joe and Wally argue about Wally’s training. Wally says he went to HR because no one else was helping, which you really can’t argue with. There’s a comment about almost losing Wally to the aliens, which isn’t quite right. Wally did get hurt during the crossover, but it was from mind-controlled heroes, not the Dominators. When Joe turns his ire on HR, HR points out he got nothing personally from training Wally. HR says his big gift is seeing the potential in others and helping get there.

Barry goes back to the Pipeline and makes me wonder why he’s still wearing a mask, as he reveals his secret to Julian. They finally end up having a talk about what’s been going on with Julian, and he admits to the blackouts and lost time, which must be when he’s Alchemy. He says he was guided to the stone by visions of his dead sister. Uh oh, that sounds familiar.

Sure enough, Cisco is hard at work when the ghost of Dante interrupts him, calling his name, promising they can be together again. Well, we know how much Cisco has been missing Dante (which has never made a lot of sense to me since they didn’t get along at all any time I saw them together). So, Cisco succumbs, Dante disappears, but Savitar is back. This leads to a nasty fight between Barry, Savitar, and helping-despite-everyone Wally, who can also see Savitar. Barry and Wally keep Savitar busy long enough for Caitlin to talk Cisco into closing the box, which makes Savitar vanish again.

The STAR crew manages to get a gadget together and let Savitar talk through Julian, which gets really creepy. Savitar claims to know them all, calling HR “the fake Wells,” which was at least amusing. Savitar also says that Barry does something to imprison him in the future, which gets weird with the box being so old. Time travel is confusing. After a few predictions and threats, Savitar fades and Julian wakes up, confused and not knowing what happened, so that part of his story checks out.

They brainstorm what to do, and Jay suggests hiding the box in the Speed Force. Personally, I don’t think hiding a speed-related object in the Speed Force is a good idea, but they all do. Jay and Barry combine their speed to open a rift and hurl the box and stone inside. Barry ends up going through the rift, landing on Infantino Street. Carmine Infantino was a comic book legend who, among other things, created the Barry Allen version of the Flash. But, Barry’s not here for a history lesson. He’s in the future and sees something terrible before Jay yanks him back.

Jay tells him they were five months ahead, and that the future isn’t certain. Barry shouldn’t obsess over what he saw. Jay then skips home, and the team goes to the Wests’ for the big Christmas party. All of Team Flash are there, as well as Camile and even late arriving Julian, who was invited earlier by Caitlin. Cisco is feeling down and not at all in the Holiday mood, especially as it rains. Caitlin takes off her power-damper and makes it snow, which shouldn’t work on so many levels, but it’s a nice Christmas scene. Wally gets a very cool Christmas present, and Julian has a surprise for Barry, as well. Barry and Iris sneak off so Barry can surprise her with his Christmas present. It’s a happy ending, but distinctly lacking in immediate cliffhanger, unless we’re counting the possible future tragedy.

What I liked: Infantino Street was a great touch. I’m glad Julian’s secret is out, even though his being Alchemy felt kind of cheap and forced. I’m glad the others are finally treating Wally like a grown up who can make his own decisions. The history of Savitar is interesting. It was great seeing Jay again, and Hamill as the Trickster. And it was great seeing Jay do the “catch bullets with his helmet” trick.

What I didn’t: Joe was a bit off about Wally’s injury during the crossover, although the references to those events were good. The trip to the future was odd and I could have happily lived without it. I guess that’ll give Barry something new to freak out about for the second half of the season.

It was a good episode. I’ll give them a 3.5 out of 5, and eagerly await their return next year.

“Alfred, let’s go shopping.”

“There are super hero products to be purchased. To the store, old chum!” Read the rest of this entry

Flash: New Rogues

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Speedster Team Up!

This week’s Flash begins with a bit of a flashback (no pun intended for once). We see more events the night of the infamous particle accelerator explosion at STAR Labs. Interestingly I didn’t realize that Captain Cold/Leonard Snart had his trademark gun back then. In fact, I’m pretty sure I remember Cisco invented it after Barry got his powers as a way to stop him if he had to. So I guess this is somehow a ripple from Flashpoint, although that seems a bit thin since these events happened so long before Barry started time traveling. Read the rest of this entry

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