Find Me At Screen Rant

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Arrow 1x16 - "Dead to Rights"

"Dead to Rights" can also be called "Malcolm Merlyn Must Die". Moira Queen, playing innocent the whole episode, put the hit out on Malcolm Merlyn and the Triad is on it. Curiously, the Triad decides to outsource the hit to a South American hitman, Guillermo Bererra (kind of like when Mr. Burns hired Fernando Vidal, the world's most devious assassin, to kill Grampa Simpson for his key to the Hellfish Bonanza). Bererra arrives in Starling City via flashy helicopter with the cops already on his tail, and he runs right into the Vigilante, who hand delivers an arrow to his chest and steals his cell phone for Felicity to decrypt. Sigh, says China White. If you have to kill a one-percenter in Starling City, she'll have to do it herself. Well, not entirely by herself. She also hires one-eyed Floyd Lawton, Deadshot, to do the actual shooting of Malcolm Merlyn.

Two recurring themes in this episode. One is Tommy Merlyn finally learning some major, important stuff while also not finding out even more important stuff. It's Tommy's birthday and his sexy double date with Laurel, Oliver, and McKenna is interrupted by Malcolm showing up at Laurel's door with an invitation for Tommy to attend Malcolm receiving the Humanitarian of the Year Award. The other recurring theme is "unwelcome parents showing up at Laurel's door". Malcolm was the first, the second was Laurel's mother (Dinah Lance, the elder?), who dropped a bombshell, yo: Laurel's sister Sarah might still be alive? How? Why? How?! We'll get to that some other time.

Oliver and McKenna seem to be going hot and heavy, but also start and stop. She has to bail on their dates whenever Detective Lance calls about apprehending the Vigilante. He has to bail because he has to go be the Vigilante. It's a classic scenario. Oliver's so good at lying and acting like he's a bad liar. McKenna is also all about the low cut tops showing off her cleavage so SCPD is pretty lax with their professional dress code for detectives.

Felicity (whose middle name is Megan and not Hacker) eventually cracks the cell phone and finds out Malcolm Merlyn is the target of the Triad. Wouldn't you know it, Tommy softened on his "I hate my dad" stance enough to attend the Humanitarian of the Year. Moira momentarily feels guilty about how she's about to make Tommy an orphan, but them's the breaks when your dad is a super villain. No one at the ceremony notices anything odd about how suddenly all of the waitstaff are sinister-looking Chinese, but we live in PC times. China White goes disguised as Kelly Hu (Hu not wearing a wig, which is China White wearing a wig in storyline) to oversee this hit going well, and it doesn't. The Hood interrupts the hit and takes down a bunch of the Triad, while Malcolm doesn't go running outside in a panic. That Malcolm Merlyn is so uncooperative to his unknown assassins. China White gets a rematch with the Hood, which McKenna interrupts. The Hood shoots an arrow into a fire extinguisher which allows for two things: to cover his escape and to get McKenna looking cool walking through white fog. He's such a considerate boyfriend.

The Hood is also a considerate best friend. Oliver takes Tommy out for authentic Chinese and commiserates with him about the pros and cons of their respective fathers, but it was really a cover for Oliver to sneak off into the back room of the restaurant and smack around some Triad to get intel on who the target is. As the hit takes place, Malcolm and Tommy escape to the panic room in Malcolm's penthouse office and Tommy witnesses his father kill a Triad in cold blood. But Malcolm was right; in that situation it's kill or be killed. The Triad aren't there to be reasonable or to negotiate. Tommy also seemed very confused as to where his dad got skills, but Tommy knows his father fences and is trained combat. Malcolm opens up his panic room with all of his Dark Archer paraphernalia but it doesn't seem like Tommy saw the hood and black arrows inside the room before Deadshot opened fire on them. Luckily, Malcolm was wearing a bullet proof vest (does he always wear one?), but unluckily, Deadshots bullets are poisoned.

The Hood arrives to find a Tommy gun pointed at him but he convinces Tommy that his father needs a battlefield blood transfusion. Then the Hood drops the Hood to reveal his true identity! It's a good thing Deadshot left and wasn't looking through his targeting scope. Oliver enables the blood transfusion from son to father to save Malcolm's life and it seems like Malcolm didn't hear any of Oliver and Tommy's incriminating conversation before he came to. Or did he? Probably not.

Oliver breaks it to Diggle that Deadshot, the man who killed his brother (not kicked his dog, Felicity), is still alive. At the hospital, Tommy gets to reconcile with his father and learns a little about what Malcolm did when he left for two years after Mrs. Merlyn was murdered. Malcolm went to a place called Nanda Parbat, a mystical DC Universe location in the Himalayas, but then Moira arrives and interrupts the nerd easter eggs. (The other DC comics reference this week is Bludhaven Apartments where China White and Deadshot met up, named for Nightwing's adopted home town. Also, the most important DC reference is Geoff Johns, the writer of this episode.) Oliver and Tommy meet up at the hospital and Tommy asks him if he'll ever say what happened in the five years Oliver was missing. Oliver, for the first time, told the truth: "No."

Five years ago on the Island, Oliver fixed a radio when Slade didn't think he could. Slade also shows Oliver how to do the pull ups Oliver would eventually be the greatest ever at.

All this slam bang action happened so quickly, we didn't even notice Thea and Roy Harper weren't in the episode. No new Arrow until March 20th.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Live Tweeting The Oscars 2013

Who watched every second of #Oscars2013? This guy. I live Tweeted the Oscars for my site and simultaneously for @ExposingNYC.

Before the show even started, here are some #OscarsNomineeConfessions:

Then the red carpet and actual Oscars show happened and here we go:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mrs. Marcia Dentist - Live Tweeting The Brady Bunch

Yes, this is indeed true. Some random Brady Tweets:

And now, Live Tweeting an episode of The Brady Bunch, a.k.a. How I Spent My Friday Night. (Note I managed to misspell "Marcia" Brady every single time.):

In conclusion: when it's time to change, you've got to rearrange who you are and what you're gonna be. Sha na na na na.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Arrow 1x15 - "Dodger"

Roger, Dodger. No one says that in the episode, but it wouldn't have hurt any. "Dodger" is a little Battlestar Galactica reunion on Arrow as Dr. Gaius Baltar himself, James Callis, guest stars as this week's DC Universe guest villain, the Dodger. Rekha Sharma, who was Tory the Cylon, also shows up as a fence looking to... fence... the famed Sherwood Ruby (snicker). They have a nice little scene together for a few moments before Starling City Police shows up to remind them their show was canceled years ago. Also, Starbuck was an angel? What? 

As villains go, the Dodger is no great shakes. The Dodger is a European jewel thief who uses hostages to do his thieving. He likes to snap explosive collars on his hostages and blow their heads off if they don't steal correctly. The Dodger also uses a little electric baton, but he'll shoot you with a gun if he has to. The Dodger does live up to his name by dodging a couple of arrows the Hood fires at him, but James Callis practically falls asleep while playing such a banal two bit heavy. The Hood doesn't even need to all his gear to nab the Dodger; with the help of Felicity's Microsoft Surface, Oliver does it in a tuxedo and motorcycle helmet and one "explode the wheel of a car" arrow. All this after baiting the Dodger with the Queen Diamonds (Oliver's "family jewels", says Felicity, who was forced to get hot under the Dodger's explosive collar) in a gambit that Adam West's Batman would have found a little obvious, old chum. The chase for the Dodger does allow for this week's other DC Universe reference, the streets named after (Neal) Adams and (Denny) O'Neill.

This episode aired a week late for Valentine's Day but love was in the air. Well, not love, but the awkwardness of going on a date with someone you kind of like was in the air. At the schoolyard urging of Felicity, both of her new testosterone-heavy crime fighting compatriots Oliver and Diggle went out on disastrous dates. Diggle finally asked out Carly, his dead brother's wife, and Oliver took Detective McKenna Hall out to dinner. Neither of these boys got game. Diggle immediately starts invoking the ghost of his brother, while Oliver walled up when McKenna starts giving him the third degree about his five years lost on the Island. Both Oliver and Diggle got a re-do and fared better. In fact, isn't there some kind of police rule about detectives lip locking billionaire playboys in the station?

The most interesting stuff in "Dodger" was Felicity's desire to quit after observing Mr Adrenaline Oliver Queen hellbent on killing someone on the list, though he insisted and ultimately proved he was just going to give the bad guy a warning. Felicity is steadfastly against killing people and making orphans out of bad people's children. However, she isn't at all above violating privacy; she conjures up a listening device to bug McKenna's Windows Phone to get the inside scoop on the police's intel against the Dodger. This is kind of like when in The Dark Knight Bruce Wayne used Wayne Tech to bug the cell phones of everyone in Gotham City to create a city-wide sonar net to find the Joker. When it comes to ethics, superheroing is all a slippery slope.

Speaking of The Dark Knight, Mr. Lau showed up this week in Moira Queen's house. The Batman nabbed him from Hong Kong but he just can't seem to stay away from the DC vigilante superheroes. Mr. Lau, now calling himself Frank Chen, was asked by Moira to help her get out from under Malcolm Merlyn's thumb. Staring an arrow from the Hood in the face has shown Moira the error of her ways and she needs help in finding Walter and in doing something about Merlyn. We get some long awaited background on why the evil Starling City syndicate came together and it all has to do with the Glades. Moira says it's about saving it, but maybe she's been ill-informed or naive all this time. Chen arranges a meet with China White of the Triads and before anyone can cough "racist!", Moira asks China White to kill Malcolm Merlyn. This isn't going to bode well.

Meanwhile in those very Glades, Laurel teaches her new office intern Thea about the deliciousness of street meat when Thea's purse is nabbed by some street meat in a red hoodie. The meat's name is Roy Harper, of course, and he was very speedy in his escape. Thea uses the power of Windows Phone to call stores that sell a wallet chain Harper left behind to find out enough info for Detective Lance to collar the perp. In what seems to be a huge waste of police resources, Detective Lance brings Harper into the interrogation room and gives him the third degree over a purse snatching. Harper, Starling City's prettiest, studliest, squarest-jawed and best-groomed eyebrowed street urchin, feeds Lance and the observing Thea and Laurel a sob story about his mother being hooked on Vertigo. This hits Thea right in her soft spot of out-of-luck studly guys her age whose moms are Vertigo addicts and she has Detective Lance let Harper go. Later, Thea pays a visit to Harper's abode in the Glades to get her purse back and you could just feel the manufactured sexual tension between Speedy and Speedy. Green Arrow love is in the air.

Finally, we got some business on the Island involving Hard Choices. Some time after their daring escape from Fryers last week, Slade Wilson got sick from a gunshot wound in his arm. Oliver remembered the magical healing herbs of Asia Yao Fei used on him way, way back in like, episode two or something, so he goes back to Yao Fei's Arrow cave to get them. There he runs into a beaten up, tied up kid. A student with a sob story of being shipwrecked on the Island two days ago. Oliver nearly unties him but decides not to because who knows if this kid's story is true. It was probably the right call. He was able to heal up Slade, and maybe we'll find out if that kid in the cave turns into a DC comics character some day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Justice League of America #1

It was better than Justice League #1. Busier, more interesting, more detailed, less... stupid. Better art, too. 

But there was practically no difference between what happens in JLA #1 and in that issue of the old JLA series when Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman sat in the Batcave and picked who they wanted to be in the League with Magic: The Gathering cards. That book was great, right? No? No.

This time, it's Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor arguing over why there needs to be a government controlled Justice League team and who gets to be in it. The reasoning makes sense if you, you know, don't think about it and just go, "Whatever you say, yeah, uh huh." The Waller and Trevor dialogue goes like this:

Waller: "[This superhero] will be in it."
Trevor: "That's a terrible idea."
Waller: "Irrelevant. Also [this other superhero] will be in it."
Trevor: "I object."
Waller: "Makes no difference."

It is a pointless sham of a conversation or debate and its only purpose is to deliver the exposition of why each member of the Justice League of America was picked. Most of the new Leaguers, some of whom are unaware they are now Leaguers, get a vignette introducing their circumstances and why they are fit to be cajoled or blackmailed or bamboozled to be on this very special Justice League. It is unsavory, the opposite of 'superhero', but that's DC's M.O. with The New 52 - our heroes aren't meant to inspire. Be afraid of them. We are.

Speaking of such things, one of the stated reasons there "needs" to be a Justice League of America is because the people of the world "don't trust" the Justice League. Their public trust is at an all-time low. This. Makes. No. Sense. Because the Justice League - the one with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in it just saved Boston, Metropolis and the whole world from a watery invasion by the armies of Atlantis. Everyone saw it. It just happened. Somehow, this is a terrible thing for the League and people don't like them? What?

There's also The Kiss. Superman and Wonder Woman super liplocking wondrously. Something like that would be a public sensation. People would go nuts over it, in a good way. But not in this DCU. Everyone is terrified of what could happen. What if they break up? What if Wonder Woman gets Superman pussy whipped? What if they spawn Superbrats? These are the actual reasons given as to why this sexy Super coupling is a Very Bad Thing. (And to be fair, it's not an unreasonable fear, and it feeds into the rumor that Alan Moore's "Twilight of the Superheroes" story will eventually be done by DC.)

So anyway, now we have another Justice League. It's got scary aliens (Hawkman, Martian Manhunter), teen girls with braces(!) (Stargirl), assassins (Katana), criminals (Catwoman), suspected terrorists with alien powers (Green Lantern Simon Baz), neophytes (Vibe), and TV stars (Green Arrow, kidding.) Waller promises a P.R. campaign will cover up what a ridiculous team this is to the layman. Somehow this group of weirdos will be more publicly beloved than the Justice League with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on it. Because, apparently, the public thinks they are jerks.

Then we get a couple of reveals: That there's a Secret Society of Super-Villains with Professor Ivo involved that also hates the Justice League. Presumably any and all Justice Leagues.

More importantly, we learn that Waller picked her League specifically to take out each member of the other Justice League. Her math goes like this:

Martian Manhunter > Superman
Katana > Wonder Woman
Catwoman > Batman
Stargirl > Cyborg
Hawkman > Aquaman
Vibe > Flash
Green Lantern Simon Baz > Green Lantern Hal Jordan

Clearly, Amanda Waller sucks at math. What about Green Arrow? Oh, well, he's got a different role in the League and the Society found him out and now he's dying. Right when his TV show got renewed for season 2, too.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Beautiful Creatures



Adapted from a young adult novel series about teen witches, Beautiful Creatures deliberately treads the familiar, flattened-out grounds of forbidden teen love, finding your true destiny ("Claim Yourself" is the moral, whatever that means, as if your destiny is in a coat check), and mind-numbing boredom. Remember in Twilight: New Moon when Kristen Stewart spent what felt like forty seven hours sitting around moping? The bulk of Beautiful Creatures is like that, involving a very Stewart-y teen witch (Alice Englert) sullenly wishing she doesn't turn evil. That's the plot of the movie, by the way: A teenage girl might become evil and everyone has to wait and see if that happens or not.

Beautiful Creatures bombards with thinly-devised, sometimes contradictory nonsense rules: You see, there is a race of magical witches who insist on being called Casters, and when they turn 16 (or is it just when the girl Casters turn 16?) they have to have some kind of ritual where their "true nature" is exposed and they can become either good or evil. The movie never indicates what the consequences are of either eventuality; the "good" Casters like Jeremys Iron just sit around wearing dandy clothes while playing piano while the "evil" Casters like Emmy Rossum drive around in BMW convertibles and seduce teen yokels in alleyways. The Casters have awesome magical powers but the main thing they use it for is interior decorating; they seem to change the furniture in their Gothic Southern Mansion every day. (The first time we see the interior of Ravenwood Manor, it looked like a collage of all of the covers of the "Twilight" books.) There is also Viola Davis, who plays The Help. Davis has three jobs; she's a housekeeper and she's also two kinds of librarians. She manages a regular library and the Diagon Alley magical library in underground tunnels that run "beneath the entire country".

All of this nothingness happens in a Bible-thumping South Carolina backwoods town that revels in nothingness and book-banning. Beautiful Creatures' mortal hero is Alden Ehrenreich, an aw-shucks good ol' boy who reads Kurt Vonnegut and Charles Bukowski. His dream is to visit New York City, then come back. When the alternative is dating the hot crazy Christian "popular" girl in high school, Ehrenreich instead falls for Englert, the mysterious raven-haired new girl who lives in the Gothic manor outside of town that all the locals regularly gather in church to protest. Englert has a magical tattoo on her hand counting down the days until her date with destiny, and she has an evil specter of a mother who possesses the body of Emma Thompson for shits and giggles. Because he's the only boy who's ever talked to her, Englert falls hard for Ehrenreich's chicken-fried charms and awkward guffaws, but she's forbidden from being with a mortal because it's bad, somehow. Her uncle Jeremys Iron occasionally tries magically mind fucking Ehrenreich with his supernatural powers and by twinkling the ivories on his grand piano, but none of it works and Ehrenreich still wants to date Englert.

Beautiful Creatures commits that cardinal sin of being a poor, dumb movie that constantly references better books and better movies so that it seems smarter than it is. Ehrenreich, a poor man's Romeo, woos Englert by drawling on and on about the books he likes to read and all the movies he either has seen or wants to see. Englert doesn't have a thought in her head other than "I don't wanna turn evil like my mama" while staring at grass and watching the tattoo clock count down on her hand. There's the obligatory third act break up that sets up a tragic death of one of the young lovers, but it's a switcheroo. When the moment comes that the skies turn black and Englert faces the pivotal moment of becoming good or evil, there's no tension. She gets her full powers and is way more powerful than her evil mother who wants to control her, who turns out not to be any kind of threat at all. Instead of its generic, meaningless title, a more accurate title for Beautiful Creatures would be Twilight's Leavings. This here is the stuff so banal it was actually left out of Twilight.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Arrow 1x14 - "The Odyssey"

"Oliver. Suddenly everything about you just became so incredibly clear."

I realized this week why I like Felicity so much. Felicity is the most Whedon-esque character in Arrow. She's the hub of snappy patter. Felicity finding a wounded Oliver Queen in her car and being dropped headlong into the shadowy world of the Starling City Vigilante is the best move Arrow could make in terms of getting Oliver's two brightest supporting players, Felicity and Diggle, together to play off each other. Oliver can just lay there on a slab in the scene and we're thoroughly entertained by the interaction of Diggle and Felicity as they frantically try to save his life:

Felicity: "I'm guessing 'how?' and 'why?' are Oliver Queen's least favorite questions."
Diggle: "Yeah, well, there's also 'when?' and 'where?' he's not too fond of."

"The Odyssey" opened with the most jaw-dropping 60 seconds the show has slammed us with thus far. The Hood has Moira Queen dead to rights with an arrow pointed at her heart. Moira pleads with his heart by begging on her knees to spare her life on behalf of her son and daughter. The Hood lets down his guard and Moira suddenly swings around with a gun and puts a bullet in the Hood's chest. That was the most stunning act Moira has ever done, and what's amazing is how later, Oliver is totally on her side on the matter. He figures she was in the right to pull a gun on him, how was she to know? Oliver refuses to pursue investigating his mother's alleged guilt and complicity in Walter's disappearance, his father's death, and the mystery surrounding The List. At the end of the day, vigilante, killer, hero, Oliver Queen's a mama's boy.

Most of the episode is a flashback on The Island involving the paramilitary buddy show of Oliver and his new friend Slade Wilson. (Oliver's best line, maybe ever: "I'm marooned on an island and my only friend's name is Wilson.") In between intimidating and trying to train Oliver into becoming some kind of soldier who won't get himself or Slade killed when they take the airstrip, Slade drops some major exposition bombs. We know The Island is named Purgatory in Mandarin, but the man in the mask dressed as Deathstroke is Slade's best friend (DC Comics shout out) Billy Wintergreen, the godfather to his son (DC Comics shout out) Joe. Wintergreen and Slade came to The Island to rescue Yao Fei from Edward Fryers but everybody's got a price and Wintergreen took Fryers' money. Meanwhile, we learn why Yao Fei's on The Island - Fryers is holding his daughter (DC Comics shout out) Shado captive. (Shado and today's Oliver share the same shoulder tattoo.)

As far as mentors go, Slade turns out to be a step above Ra's Al-Ghul to Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. He's gruff and scary, but Slade isn't (?) secretly manipulating Oliver. Oliver's not exactly the best student when it comes to martial arts or weaponry, and he manages to screw up his one job of taking out the guard in the airstrip tower. Then Oliver uses the satellite phone to call Laurel, who he's been having sexytime dreams about that end with him with a bullet in the head. But Oliver's not entirely useless either; he read "The Odyssey" and knew the other half of the challenge code required for the supply plane to land. (Fryers is also a fan of "The Odyssey", as Yao Fei learned when he was asked to train his men with how to use a compound bow and arrow.)

"Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the Earth, nothing is bred that is weaker than man."

Oliver decides he can't leave The Island without rescuing Yao Fei, but he gets captured by Fryers, who is pretty confused as to how Oliver is still alive when he saw Yao Fei "kill" him with the Million Dollar Dream and throw him off a cliff. Despite Slade's threats that he'd leave in three hours whether Oliver's back with Yao Fei or not, Slade couldn't abandon his new student, or maybe he just wanted a crack at revenge against his old pal Wintergreen. Deathstroke vs. Deathstroke ended with Slade finishing off Wintergreen with the ol' sword in the eye. Later, Oliver shows he did learn a thing or two when he performed the gun-disarm trick Slade taught him on a soldier. But this younger Oliver isn't yet a killer. In the end, Slade and Oliver remain stuck on The Island with Fryers and his men somehow unable to locate the crashed airplane remains they're camped out in. Maybe the Smoke Monster is keeping Fryers at bay.

Back in present day, Oliver survives a heart attack scare and awakens as scruffy and self-righteously stubborn as ever. Felicity spent her downtime in the Arrow Cave upgrading their network and systems and hacking the police crime lab to have Oliver's blood sample destroyed, but she turns down Oliver's offer of regular membership in the Arrow League. She's in only as far as finding Walter, she doesn't want to be Chloe Sullivan running Watchtower. It's clear Diggle enjoys having someone smart and reasonable to talk to; female doesn't hurt either. We learn of some bad stuff Diggle did in Afganistan as well, being forced to kill a child to protect a Shah he knows is "a human piece of garbage" because that was his job. Felicity raises the moral and ethical questions about killing that is at the heart of this series. Is Oliver a bad man because he kills or is he good because of who he kills?

The best episode of Arrow so far ends with Oliver right back to normal, lying to his mom as his mom lies to him and pretending he's not in horrible pain from his gunshot wound as Moira hugs him. Such a mama's boy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Batman #17


Honestly, I wasn't digging Death of the Family overall. It was the inverse of Court of Owls; I loved Court all the way through but the ending and shocking twist left me cold. With Death of the Family, despite the great horror opening of the Joker stalking and killing though Gotham Police headquarters and some cool high points (yes, Batman punching a horse), I wasn't as enamored with the story. Scott Snyder's take on The Joker, a cross between Mark Hamill's manic, animated clown and the weirdly homosexually-fixated Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns version with all his talk of "darling" and "you love meeee the mosssst, Batssss" grated on me. Just not a take on Joker I enjoy.

However, in reverse of how I felt about Court of Owls, I thought Snyder stuck the landing. Batman #17, the conclusion to the saga, was gangbusters good. Snyder pulled it all together, with some nifty slight of hand on the Bat Family and on the readers. Snyder and Greg Capullo delivered, by my count, FOUR huge, gasp-worthy moments. They really had me going with each veritable slap to the face. There's one page in particular with what may well be the sickest visual ever depicted in Batman that honestly made me wonder, "How the fuck did DC allow this? And how can they fix it?!?"

Spoiler Below: Highlight text to read

The Joker cut off Damian, Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood and Tim Drake's faces just like he cut off his own. Snyder and Capullo throw you for a loop, thinking this is for real until the big relief reveal that he did no such thing. But then Joker gasses the Bat Family with Smylex and they all become Jokerized and fight each other.

The endgame showdown between Batman and Joker is where Snyder reveals his cards and we see he not only fully understands the dynamic between those two arch enemies, but he provided some new insight that is thoroughly satisfying and makes perfect sense.

Spoiler Below: Highlight text to read

Bruce Wayne visited Joker in Arkham Asylum years ago and outed himself as Batman to him. And Joker didn't care. Didn't acknowledge it. Settling the idea: Regardless of whether Joker knows who Batman is, he simply doesn't care who the man is behind the mask. He only cares about waging war with Batman. Awesome.

Batman #17 is a stunning, magnificent conclusion to what will go down as a landmark Joker story. Even after 70+ years of Joker stories, Scott Snyder found something new to say about Batman and Joker that honors their epic rivalry and allows you to see the ties that bind them in a new way. Just when you think you've read it all about The Joker, Batman #17 grips you with a joy buzzer. It never ceases to shock and awe.

I need to reread the entire Death of the Family story in one sitting to take it all in as a whole, now that I fully understand what Joker was doing and what it all meant. Bravo, Mr. Snyder and Mr. Capullo. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Arrow 1x13 - "Betrayal"

"Betrayal" is Katie Cassidy's favorite episode and it's obvious why. Plenty of Laurel in this one as her secret relationship with the vigilante comes to a head. Laurel gets used as bait by her father Detective Lance to trap the Hood, is attacked in her apartment by hired goons, defends herself admirably (she must have gone to the Lois Lane School of Self Defense Against Thugs), falls for the ol' taser in the neck, is held hostage, and is saved by the Hood and her dad teaming up. Tommy also finds out that Laurel and the Hood have been in crime fighting cahoots for months and doesn't take the lies he was told well, which he relates to Oliver, who then lies to his face. Perhaps most importantly for my long term enjoyment of this series, Laurel has Thea starting up as her full time intern (community service hour one of five hundred), and there's another hot woman now working at her firm. This place is turning into the Hottie Law Offices of Laurel Lance, Attorney at Hottie Law.

David Anders, the guy who played Adam Munroe on Heroes, is this week's villain, fresh out of prison and out to make a name for himself by taking out the Hood, the guy every criminal's afraid of. After the Count last week, he's pretty bland. He bragged to Laurel about the army of machine gun-toting ruffians he assembled to kill the Hood while we watched in amusement at how easily the Hood took them all out. The funniest stuff was the first time the Hood broke into the compound to spy on him with his Listening Device Arrow (which he left behind). The Hood calls up Laurel to offer what intel he learned and said "he couldn't do much". Well, besides kill four armed guards. (Oliver kills a lot of people this week; body count wise, this is probably the most murderous Oliver has been.) Prior to that Laurel told the Hood of Anders' location, that he's living in his lawyer's house and his lawyer disappeared. "There was no foul play", Laurel said. Except for the body bleeding all over the foyer after Anders stabbed him! And if the person has mysteriously vanished, there's probably foul play, Laurel.

On a similar vein, Diggle once again scored the line of the night, when insisting to an obstinate Oliver that they investigate his mother Moira's involvement in all this mystery and deceit going on with the List. "I tend to believe the innocent party is whoever's missing." Oliver is a lot more concerned with believing Moira is innocent than, say, showing any interest in investigating Walter's disappearance, but Diggle is not playing the Moira's innocent game. Diggle decides to chauffer Moira around so he spy on her, and he even pulls a high tech version of the famous story of Jay Leno hiding in the closet to listen in on the NBC executives debating whether to give The Tonight Show to him or David Letterman. Diggle gets the incriminating evidence he needs, and it really helped how forthcoming Malcolm Merlyn was for Dig's audio recording, like handing her a piece of paper with an address and then making a point of saying out loud it's the address where the Queen's Gambit's remains are warehoused, that the yacht was sabotaged, and he'd like her to get rid of the evidence, please. Moira also wasn't shy of criminal-like verbiage like "not needing to make the usual threats".

All of this is finally enough for Oliver to believe his mom's up to no good. Earlier, Oliver went to talk to Moira to show her the book with the List and she made a big show of tossing it in the fireplace and evading any incriminating reveals. But with all the hard work Diggle put in to spying on Moira staring him in the face, Oliver decides to Hood up and pay Moira a visit at Queen Industrial Tower, smashing through the window, killing her guards and pointing an arrow right at her head. No way he pulls the trigger. (Though if Thea were there, would she egg him on to do it? Probably?)

On the Island, Oliver finds a crashed airplane's remains, and we all get really confused about whether he is actually on Lost. Oliver meets Slade Wilson, who we find all sorts of things about, like that he and Yao Fei were working together and he claims he also has another partner who wears the mask of Deathstroke. Slade wanted Oliver to help him take an airstrip on the Island ("it takes two of us to take the airstrip." Only two? Huh.) but finds Oliver isn't really a soldier, just the kid who got marooned on the Island, and totally lacks sword fighting skills. So Slade beats Oliver up and ties him to a chair, but is mighty impressed when Oliver pulls the Martin Riggs Lethal Weapon 2 separating his shoulder trick to free himself. Not sure why Slade is lying about being Deathstroke, but now he's going to train Oliver. After all, he needs Oliver to take that airstrip.

DC Universe mention this week: The Winick Building, where the Hood asked Laurel to meet him. Named for comic book writer and Real World: San Francisco alum Judd Winick. The Winick Building must be where all the brain donors live. An even better random shout out was Michael Voltaggio, the winner of Top Chef season 6, who submitted his resume to be the executive chef at Oliver's club. Though apparently, the real Michael Voltaggio knows nothing about it, or Arrow:

Forgot Diggle's hilarious line suggesting the Hood and Moira should have an "arrow-side chat". Sure enough, that's where we ended up in our cliffhanger.