[MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD] “Oh, So That’s What’s Happening… Wait, What?!” — Arrow Season 3 Review

Okay, first things first. I’m going to break the boundaries of faux-professional writing here and tell you that HOLY CRAP, SEASON 3 IS FREAKING AWESOME.

I’ve been a fan of Arrow since the pilot episode first came out in 2012. Even at first glance, the show promised so much more to come. Yes, I was a bit skeptical at first by the relatively dark tone the show offered instead of the considerably more light-hearted air of the Green Arrow in the comic books, but as the first season progressed, my doubts were quickly erased.

Arrow_season_3_promotional_poster

Arrow landed its third season by October 2014 to a 2.83 US viewers, an increase from the previous season premiere’s 2.74. The season was off to a great start concerning plotlines, with the characters speeding through the episode as if the five-month season break hadn’t existed.

One of the first—and still one of the most shocking—surprises of the season happens by the end of the first episode: Sara Lance, aka the Canary, is killed by an unknown assailant with three arrows to the chest. Thus begins the first major story arc of the season: Who killed the Canary?

Sara

Season three offers some very interesting stuff, and while I was at first somewhat doubting the writers’ capability to take the plotlines and revelations to a higher level, I was proven sorely wrong. The season is off to a soaring start with the first episode alone, and through the next eight episodes of the fall run, the pace is kept nicely. They keep me at the edge of my seat trying to figure out who Sara’s murderer is, but at the same time, they still make the time to explore the characters’ pasts in delightful details. Thea, Malcolm, and Felicity each have an episode focusing on their experiences, and, loving each of those characters, I’m really satisfied at how the episodes turned out.

While the old characters earn their spotlights, new characters are introduced. New major supporting characters include Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), Ra’s Al Ghul (Mark Nable), Ted Grant aka Wildcat (J.R. Ramirez) and Maseo and Tatsu Yamashiro (Karl Yune and Rila Fukushima).

This season, Olicity shippers (including me) are taken into a rollercoaster ride. Things seem good between Oliver and Felicity at the first episode, where Oliver finally takes Felicity on a date, but the relationship is rebuked by the end of the episode when Oliver states that he can’t be with Felicity for fear of her safety, in a more discreet, more cryptic Oliver Queen way. Felicity proceeds on weaving a romantic relationship with Ray Palmer, a new character in the season portrayed by Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Scott Pilgrim vs the World). Ray Palmer, later known as the Atom in the comics, is the new owner of Queen Consolidated who intends on rebuilding Starling City into a new city entirely: Star City.

Ray Palmer Star City

I know. I squealed, too.

Almost as loud as I did when I learn that this season, Thea has become nothing short of a badass. Lying to Oliver about her whereabouts for five months, she stays in Corto Maltese with Malcolm Merlyn, who, as disclosed in season 2, is Thea’s biological father. During a swordfighting scene and a couple flashbacks surrounding Thea and Malcolm, it is also shown that Thea has been rigorously, and rather ruthlessly, trained by Malcolm into a warrior.

In addition to new characters, this season also offers something new: a crossover event. After the release of the first season of The Flash, it was quickly announced that the two series would hold a two-night event spanning from each series’ eighth episode. The Brave and the Bold is a hilarious and epic episode with characters from The Flash, i.e. Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon on a visit to Starling City. Per coincidental fictional rules, a crisis involving Captain Boomerang attacking A.R.G.U.S. requires Cisco and Caitlin to call on the Flash himself, Barry Allen, to assist the Arrow and Arsenal. The episode’s main spectacle, aside from a jam-packed plotline, is the bombardment of never-before-seen dynamics when the characters from two different cities collide in one environment. I mean, who doesn’t crack a smile on Cisco’s constant fanboying over Team Arrow’s array of coolness?

The humor brought by The Flash’s lighter row of cast isn’t the only thing savorable from the crossover episodes that begins with The Flash. I really love how they dig into the relationship between Barry and Oliver and how the two couldn’t be further apart in terms of mannerisms and courses of actions, and yet they remain inexorably alike.

Barry, since introduced in Arrow’s season 2 episode The Scientist, has always seen Oliver as some sort of a role model, and now that they’re in the same line of business of saving their respective cities, the relationship between them is subject to a change. Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen) said in an interview that because of the way Barry sees Oliver, Oliver becomes stricter in the way he carries himself around Barry. Their relationship has been explored first in The Flash episode Flash vs. Arrow, while Barry is under the influence of the Rainbow Raider, but we are taken to delve even further into their dynamics in this episode. Oliver shifts from being a mentor to Barry into more of an equal, and it’s a joy to watch them converse, spar, and assist each other in their crusade.

Amid all the excitement going on, the investigation for Sara Lance’s killer still continues. At the ninth episode, a trace of Oliver’s DNA is pulled from the arrows that killed Sara. Wait, what? Oliver couldn’t possibly have killed Sara, right?

Right. So it turns out that the whole thing is a ploy devised by Malcolm Merlyn, an “incentive”, as he says, to save Thea, whom he drugged with Votura before telling her to kill Sara.

Thea kills Sara

Ra’s Al Ghul weaves his way through the plotline as the leader of the League of Assassins who takes interest in Starling City’s Team Arrow after the murder of Sara Lance. At least, that’s the initial pitch. It soon evolves into something more. The midseason finale sees Oliver giving himself up to the League to keep Thea out of harm’s way, engaging in a trial by combat with Ra’s Al Ghul himself. Now, the logic would be to have Oliver winning the combat, since getting out of the fictional mindset for a bit, he is the show’s main character.

But guess what.

Oliver and Ra's

Oliver lost.

And then the audience was left with a month-long hiatus following the end of the fall run. What a cliffhanger.

When the season starts again with its tenth episode in January 2015, the city is left in turmoil without the Arrow. Without certainty of Oliver’s status, Felicity, Diggle, Roy, and Laurel struggles to keep the chaos in the city at bay while Danny “Brick” Brickwell (Vinnie Jones) initiates his plans to take over the Glades. Members of Team Arrow also struggle to come into terms with Oliver’s apparent death when Malcolm Merlyn comes bearing the sword that supposedly killed Oliver.

But is Oliver really dead?

His body may have fallen into a gorge, but a face from the past made the save.

The flashbacks of the season carry us to Hong Kong, where Oliver is coerced into being an asset for A.R.G.U.S. under Amanda Waller’s command. Maseo Yamashiro is forced to be Oliver’s handler of sorts, and to ensure the two’s loyalty to Waller’s orders (and to keep Oliver from leaving back to Starling city, as he tries to do at first), she threatens the lives of Maseo’s wife and son, Tatsu and Akio. Thus begins the life of Oliver Queen in Hong Kong, where he learns most of his torture/interrogation skills the under pressure of Amanda Waller’s needs.

It’s Maseo Yamashiro who picks up Oliver’s body from the gorge, or rather, a transformed version of Maseo named Sarab. It is later revealed that after a bioweapon fiasco in Hong Kong that ends with the death of Akio, Maseo leaves Tatsu behind to join the League of Assassins. But some of that old part of Sarab is disturbed and, enlisting the help of his estranged wife, they nurse Oliver back to health—at least, until Oliver gets impatient enough to decide to go back to Starling.

The triumphant return of the Arrow to Starling was interrupted when the second mind-blowing major story arc begins. Beginning with Thea’s revelation that Malcolm forced her to kill Sara, she reports the fact to the League of Assassins who, led by Nyssa, returns to Starling to retrieve Malcolm for justice. Oliver’s brotherly protectiveness kicks in, and, not wanting Thea to lose her soul, goes on a rescue mission accompanied by Diggle to Nanda Parbat. They were caught, of course, but strangely enough, Ra’s Al Ghul chooses to let them go with a humongous offer for Oliver: to take his place as the new Ra’s Al Ghul.

Oliver refuses, and the three are free to return home. Or are they?

Through the course of four episodes, literally everything is wrecked by Ra’s Al Ghul to coerce Oliver into accepting the offer. Beginning by framing the Arrow of going rogue and killing the city officials left and right, to straight out telling Quentin Lance—who is now vengeful of the Arrow for keeping the death of Sara a secret from him for so long—about the Arrow’s true identity. Oliver Queen becomes public enemy in an instant after his identity is out all over the media, and he chooses to turn himself in rather than keeping his allies in danger. During his trip to Iron Heights, however, Roy decides to bail Oliver out by taking the blame on him. Falsely confessed as the real Arrow, he is then sent to Iron Heights, where, not long after, he is seemingly killed by a knife to the stomach.

Prior to this, I already knew that Colton Haynes’ contract was ending, but they couldn’t possibly have decided to kill off Roy? Holy crap.

Roy farewell

Thankfully, they didn’t. It’s proven to be a ploy to get Roy out of prison and out of the city, and he rides off alone to start a new life.

The end of episode 19 is the turning point of the second arc, where Ra’s decides to take matters into his own hands and stabs Thea Queen, leaving her to die. Oliver gets her rushed to the hospital before she dies for good, but he is convinced the only way to save her is to use the Lazarus Pit in Nanda Parbat, thus accepting the position of the next Ra’s Al Ghul. The team, namely Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, and Malcolm take Ray Palmer’s jet to Nanda Parbat, where Thea is rejuvenated back into life with a consequence—the notorious Pit madness.

Thea - pit madness

We’ve got to circle back to Olicity here. Episode 20 is pretty much the culmination of all the tension the two had shared ever since season 1. After a slightly unhealthy nudge from Ra’s Al Ghul, added by the pressure of the situation with Oliver not coming back to Starling City ever again, Felicity finally declares her love for Oliver and the two engages in a passionate lovemaking. In a last toast, Felicity drugs Oliver and tries to get him out of Nanda Parbat to no avail; Oliver still ends up staying behind, seemingly fulfilling the bargain he’s struck with Ra’s Al Ghul prior.

Oliver’s transformation begins while the allies he left behind deal with the aftermath of Nanda Parbat. I love how they take a phrase and decide to mirror it for the two situations. The phrase that keeps getting repeated in Oliver’s side of the story is, “Oliver Queen is alive only in the past. He is forgotten.” Meanwhile, at home, Team Arrow have a toast on Oliver’s memory with a saying, “Gone, but never forgotten.”

The team is soon set on turmoil when Oliver returns—taking on the name Al Sah-Him (The Arrow), he is ordered to retrieve Nyssa back to Nanda Parbat, even if it means going against his past friends. Oliver’s transformation into a ruthless pawn of the League comes as a heavy blow to the team, with Thea prepared to kill Oliver after he nearly kills Diggle.

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In the penultimate episode, it is revealed that Oliver is only faking the whole brainwashed-assassin façade in order to destroy the League from within, with the unlikely assistance from Malcolm Merlyn. When Ra’s orders Oliver to unleash a deadly bioweapon on Starling City—the very same weapon used in Hong Kong during the flashback scenes—Oliver is forced to fast-forward his plans, asking Tatsu Yamashiro to help convince the angry members of Team Arrow that there has always been a higher goal at work, and not only complete and utter betrayal on Oliver’s side.

Once again, Team Arrow—consisting of Felicity, Diggle, Tatsu (who dons the complete Katana costume, finally), Laurel, Ray Palmer, and Malcolm—attacks Nanda Parbat, but the attempt ends with them locked in the dungeon as Ra’s releases the bioweapon on them. Things are not looking good for Team Arrow at this point.

Arrow --

The final episode begins as the team regains consciousness, with Malcolm revealing that he has inoculated them all without them knowing. A familiar face appears to free the team from the dungeon—the Flash, aka Barry Allen, surfaces from his own issues with Dr. Harrison Wells to assist Team Arrow before he leaves again. Brief as it is, the appearance is still a pleasant treat.

As Team Arrow hurries back to Starling City, Oliver breaks his cover and tries to bring down the plane that carries him, Ra’s, Nyssa, and the League members before it reaches Starling. The plan gets botched—Ra’s manages to escape with the virus, and Oliver is left to team up with Nyssa to survive the crash. Team Arrow rallies to save the city, and even as they group in Palmer Tech, Oliver arrives with Nyssa. After a well-deserved, pent-up tension between the members of team Arrow, they are able to put aside their differences to stop Ra’s from wreaking havoc in the city.

team

It turns out that Ra’s doesn’t only want to test Oliver’s fealty; an old enemy of the League, Damien Darhk, head of H.I.V.E. (though the organization’s name hasn’t been directly addressed in the show, save for Diggle’s search entry in season 2 episode 6, Keep Your Enemies Closer), is in town and Ra’s intends to take him out. Turns out that Damien has ditched the place once he finds out of Ra’s plan, but the threat of the bioweapon still looms darkly over Starling City.

As Laurel and Nyssa, Malcolm, Diggle and Thea (as Speedy; I screamed) take care of the virus-carrying League members, Oliver charges into a death match with Ra’s Al Ghul. The tables are turned when Oliver beats Ra’s, stabbing him in the chest, but before the celebration horns can resound, Oliver receives two bullet in the chest from a police member. He falls seemingly into his death, but Felicity in the A.T.O.M. suit makes the save.

olicity

The aftermath deals with the team as Oliver acknowledges each of them for their capability to keep the city safe and renounces his position as the city’s primary protector. For once, he can choose to be free, and he chooses to go with Felicity in search of happiness. A problem remains unsolved between Oliver and Diggle, however, since the latter hasn’t forgotten how Oliver has put Lyla’s life on the line during his run as Al Sah-Him. They end up securing a truce, but Diggle still elects to be off the city-saving business for now.

The closing scenes are one of the most packed end-season scenes of Arrow; Oliver handing the position of Ra’s Al Ghul to Malcolm Merlyn with Nyssa forced to kneel before him, Ray Palmer caught in a blast that engulfs the entire top floor of Palmer Tech as he tampers with the A.T.O.M. suit, and Oliver and Felicity driving off to the sunset. Oliver states that he’s happy, and the episode ends.

What a way to close off, and what a season.

The writers are on fire, and I’m a contented, happy fan for what they’ve achieved in season 3. Things are built, laid to a complete waste, and all are topsy-turvy. The ending leaves me highly satisfied, since the ship I’ve been shipping all the way from season 1 is finally canon, but it’s not just about ships. The ways things have changed by the end of season 3 leaves so much room for exploration in season 4. With Ray Palmer’s apparent failure with the A.T.O.M. suit (which I’m sure is just a bombastic way of saying that he finally receives the ability to shrink like in the comics), Malcolm Merlyn as the new Ra’s Al Ghul, a more domesticated version of Oliver and Felicity and how their relationship will progress later on, Thea joining the crusade as the crimson-clad Speedy, the hype for season 4 is extremely real. I personally can’t wait until October 7 comes around and the first episode airs.

amell

With that statement from Stephen Amell, speculations are already going on about how season 4 will kick-off. Here are the facts we already know.

  • Damien Darhk will be the big baddie of the season. H.I.V.E. guaranteed an appearance.
  • The theme of the show will go considerably lighter than the darkness galore of season 3.
  • We will have a take on Mr. Terrific in the show, portrayed by Echo Kellum.
  • Alexander Calvert and Jimmy Akingbola have been cast as Anarky and Baron Blitzkrieg, respectively.
  • Word is we’re going to see Oliver meet his son, Connor Hawke, in the new season. The appearance has already been teased when Oliver meets his mother in The Flash’s crossover episode, Flash vs. Arrow.
  • The video below says everything. Green Arrow, Star City, new costume, you name it.

So, are you hyped for season 4 yet? Feel free to discuss this with our admins @subheroism or with me @devinasalmania!

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The Flying Dead – A Secret Wars: Marvel Zombies #2 Review

Starting off with a bang is an understatement in this latest issue of what is quickly becoming one of my favourite Secret Wars tie-in. Marvel Zombies #2 starts off by rolling a MODOK down the cliff and /then/ the BANG comes. As before, Si Spurrier and Kev Walker are our tour guides in this second foray through the depths of the Deadlands, now joined by Guru-eFX on colors.

From this day forwards, this shall be the only name MODOK is known to me.

Captain Bollockhead is quite possibly the most brilliant two words in this issue.

This issue again focuses on Elsa and her still-mysterious companion Shuttup’s efforts to explore what’s far south of the Deadlands, all the while trying to keep their heads both figuratively and literally. Elsa’s bouts of daddy issues worming their way out into the present day is still a major part of this issue, with the occasional flashbacks interspersed with present-day sequences.

Ulysses Bloodstone, still a prime candidate for Father of the Aeon award.

Ulysses Bloodstone, still a prime candidate for Father of the Aeon award.

The zombie-mulching count in this issue is somewhat less than the last issue, with only one extended confrontation with several rotters and one off-screen (I would assume) fight with MODOC (Moribund Organism Designed Only for Cannibalism). Even with this, some of the best moments of the issue came from these encounters.

Elsa Bloodstone. Master monster hunter and professional sarcasm-slinger.

Elsa Bloodstone. Master monster hunter and professional sarcasm-slinger.

Reading more into the writing, it’s becoming more apparent that I think Elsa is trying to be /like/ her father, yet she tries to be better than him. She repeats his lessons as a mantra of sorts, yet she fits the interpretation to fit her needs, while disobeying the ones that she deems unsuitable to her personal values.

I also love how Elsa is slowly warming up to Shuttup, as much as she hates to let it show. It’s most evident at how her time with Shuttup has somewhat showed that under that tough exterior and the badmouthing she gives Shuttup constantly, she still cares for the kid. It’s a dynamic that I’d like to see explored even more in the next issues and how it develops Elsa.

Yep. Definitely warming up to the kid a little bit.

Yep. Definitely warming up to the kid a little bit.

Having read Marvel Zombies 3 again this past week, I can safely say that Kev Walker is still as great as ever at drawing the undead. A rotting MODOC, a pair of flying zombified Saurons, and the whole sequence in the last three pages were standouts in an issue of standouts. Guru-eFX’s colors, much like D’armata’s, does an amazing job separating the present-day sequences from the flashbacks. A standout was the half-flashback panel, where it looked like Ulysses is yelling at Elsa. It’s such a powerful moment fitted into one panel, showing how his influence has really shaped the woman Elsa has become, and still casts a very huge shadow over her even in death.

This is what I call staying aHEAD of the curve.

This is what I call staying aHEAD of the curve.

My gripe about last issue’s pacing is almost nonexistent this time around, as the story moves at a nice pace. But this issue does leave us with even more questions than we started with. Just who (or what) is Shuttup and what’s so special about the kid? Who’s that mysterious figure stalking them for most of this issue? What role will [CENSORED] play later on in the series? I’m sure these will be answered in due time.

All in all, with the clever dialogue, wonderfully funny insults, stellar art, almost stomach-churning depictions of the undead, and more twists and turns than Elsa’s Sunday drive, this issue is yet another winner in my books. A must-read if you’re even remotely interested in Marvel Zombies, Elsa Bloodstone, or any story where a tough-as-shoe-leather heroine faces down impossible odds only with her wit and half a dozen bullets.

In the meantime, have a Carnage head!

In the meantime, have a Carnage head!

And somehow, this issue made me feel kinda bad for Ulysses, which I’m sure isn’t an easy thing to do.

You Forgot to Remember — WinterWidow Fanmix

winterwidow


You promised that you’d forget me not,

But you forgot to remember.


Fooled Around and Fell In Love – Elvin Bishop

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

War – Poets of the Fall

Bound To You – Christina Aguilera

Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand

Every Time We Say Goodbye – Ella Fitzgerald

Only Ones Who Know – Arctic Monkeys

Love Hurts – Nazareth

I’m Not In Love – 10cc

Love Ain’t For Keeping – The Who

(You Forgot To) Remember – Ella Fitzgerald

Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys

I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner

Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) – Phil Collins

Tears – Rush

Auf Achse – Franz Ferdinand

Comic Picks Of The Week – 15/7/2015

Yes, yes, I’m well aware it’s five days overdue. Things kept me, but I still wanted to get this out. I’ll be better next (this) week, I promise. I intend for this to be a weekly thing for me, so feel free to yell at me on @TarunaD if I haven’t done an article like this by the weekend. And I might need to come up with a wittier title.

Anyways, onward we go!

Captain Britain And The Mighty Defenders #1 (Marvel)

Writer: Al Ewing

Art: Alan Davis (pencils), Mark Farmer (inks), Wil Quintana (colors)

Al Ewing is the writer to watch these days, and this comic is no exception. Somewhat of a spiritual successor of his excellent Captain America & The Mighty Avengers run, now he helms yet another team of underrated heroes in Captain Britain And The Mighty Defenders. Consisting of Mighty Avengers holdovers She-Hulk, White Tiger and the Spider Hero (though with someone new under the mask) joined with new faces Faiza Hussain, now christened Captain Britain, and Kid Rescue, this is yet another excellent comic from names synonymous with quality.

For a miniseries only consisting of two issues, Ewing manages to fit two or three issue’s worth of story into this first issue. And it’s done so masterfully that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. From a quick flashback to the origins of Ho Yinsen as Rescue, introducing Yinsen City’s heroes and the local Thor, to the surprise visitor and the imminent invasion of Yinsen City, the issue’s pacing is nothing to worry about. I imagine fans of Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts run and Dredd alike will be thrilled to find who Yinsen City’s invaders are. And considering Ewing’s history with Dredd, this should be lots of fun.

The art on this book is what I’ve expected from Davis, Farmer, and Quintana. From the dark tones in Yinsen’s flashbacks, the crisp colors of present-day Yinsen City, to Mondo City’s oppressive dark colors, they all stand out. Mondo’s huge tank loaded with guns and Faiza’s abduction are some of the standouts in this book.

All in all, a very enjoyable book, as I’ve come to expect from a creative team of this caliber. Though it only has one more issue in the tank, I’m expecting another great showing from this band of heroes that I hope will get more love after Secret Wars.

 

Godzilla In Hell #1 (IDW)

Writing and Art: James Stokoe

Stokoe is back on a Godzilla book and my God, does he impress. The former Godzilla: Half-Century War creator has come back for another dose of the King of Monsters’ escapades….IN HELL. Yes, as the title suggests, Big G is in hell. Why? Read Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #25 and you’ll have an idea.

But that’s not what I’ll be talking about here. This issue, wholly written, drawn, and colored by Stokoe as he did on Half-Century War, perfectly sets the stage for Godzilla’s adventure in hell. The first circle he takes on? Lust. Thanks to the lack of (coherent) human characters, this issue is almost completely silent except for the excellent ‘title sequence’ in the first third of the book. The rest of the book is Godzilla kicking ass in hell…and it is completely AWESOME.

There’s not much to say for this book, except ‘go and check it out’. Even though there are no recognizable kaiju besides Big G himself, this issue isn’t lacking in action. Beautifully written and drawn, this miniseries has quickly climbed the ranks into my top five Godzilla comic books.

 

Skullkickers #33 (Image)

Writer: Jim Zub

Art: Edwin Huang (pencils), Kevin Ragant (inks), Misty Coats (colors)

Quick primer for those who aren’t lucky enough to taste the greatness that is Skullkickers: Huge bald guy with revolver and grumpy short dwarf (redundant, I know) kick ass in a fantasy setting. That’s basically all you need to know about Skullkickers. Oh, and now they’re fighting this epic battle against mind-controlling…thingies. Long story.

But that’s the beauty of Skullkickers. The plot is so over-the-top, weird, and fun, sometimes you just have to go along with it. Check your brain at the door, because you’ll be in for a /ride/. This issue is basically a great huge bar brawl in a bar that’s the crossroads of the universe. Or genres. Or something. Again, you don’t really have to look into it too much. Just go with it.

By the first half of the issue, the brawl has become, in their words, a cluster-fict. Gangster fiction, sci-fi, robots, even badly-dubbed kung-fu movies join in the fray. From there on out, it’s wall-to-wall fighting, beer pouring, splash screens every now and then, and unicorns. Yes, really.

If you’d like some crazy, balls-to-the-wall action with a healthy dose of humor, look no further than Skullkickers. Issue #100 is coming next! Yes, this is the 33rd issue, but who’s stopping them? I won’t.

PS: If you want to give this great book a try, comic.skullkickers.com has the older issues up for free.

Astro City #25 (Vertigo)

Writer: Kurt Busiek

Art: Jesus Merino (artist), Wendy Broome & Alex Sinclair (color art)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the recent done-in-one Astro City issues, and this one is no exception. ‘Lucky Girl’ tells the story of Amanda Hammacher, daughter of Astro City’s Hummingbird. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about Astro City’s lore, only having started exploring this world when this new series came about. In 2013 But the beauty of Astro City is that they all feel so familiar and you don’t really have to question who this or that is, leaving you to enjoy the ride.

Here, Busiek tells sort of a coming-of-age story. A girl gets her powers, becomes a hero, and learns to deal with the goods and bads that come with it as she comes to terms that her powers come at a great cost. The story, while it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, is done very well and hits all the beats.

Guest artist Jesus Merino, alongside colorists Wendy Broome and Alex Sinclair provides the excellent art in a rather throwback style that fits Astro City’s look and feel perfectly. Astro City buffs will have one hell of a time seeing all the cameos, I imagine, but I’m perfectly content to see the pretty pictures for now until I figure out who is who.

Bottom line, it’s another very solid issue of Astro City, and a story you can pick up knowing nothing and still close the book satisfied. A nice throwback to an age of brighter superheroics where the lines were clear and we know who’s actually a bad guy. Perfect for a light read, and obviously a must for Astro City fans.

The Smallest Big Movie of the Year – A Closer Look into Ant-Man

With $130 million on its budget, Ant-Man doesn’t even come close to Avengers: Age of Ultron’s whopping $280 million. Still, it is a pretty ginormous amount of money, and the question is: Is the budget worth the contents of the film?

image

The answer to that question is yes. A big, solid yes.

Ant-Man had met a few obstacles during its development phase, having the original director attached to the project, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) left over creative differences. But the show must go on, and the project went through development after Peyton Reed (Yes Man) was announced to helm the movie as the new director.

Actor Paul Rudd (Anchorman) headlines the film as the titular character Ant-Man aka Scott Lang, a former convict sent to San Quentin for his burglary. Having a previous sheet as a sophisticated thief, Scott catches the eye of scientist Hank Pym in a time of crisis while his former protégé, Darren Cross, is up to no good with a revived technology Pym has created in the past. Said technology is, of course, the Pym Particles, which allows its subject to shrink into the size of an ant—hence the name.

Ant-Man-Microverse-Photo-Flying-Ant-Antony

The first thing I noticed about this film is that unlike most other Marvel movies (discluding Guardians of the Galaxy), it has a strong comedic sense delivered neatly by Rudd, Michael Peña, T.I., and Wood Harris as the heist crew of the movie. The fact that they’re taking a comedic approach to a movie that otherwise would have come across awkward and forced due to the unusual trait of the hero character is highly commendable. I mean, look at Captain America. Look at Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk. What do they have in common? They all can easily kick your butt all the way to the moon and back if they want to. But a dude who can shrink? What badass thing could he possibly do?

Scott Lang's heist crew.

Scott Lang’s heist crew.

Those are the questions that are most often asked by audience who, prior to the announcement of the film, has had no knowledge of the comic books. I love how Ant-Man played with the understandable doubt of new viewers by showing just as much butt-kicking as comedic elements in the trailers, thus inviting people to come see the movie with a different sort of vibe.

Despite having comical qualities, Ant-Man cannot be compared with Guardians of the Galaxy. The vibes of the two films are completely different, the types of the funny moments offered in both films having their own unique trait. Ant-Man promises a gajillion scenes that unite an entire cinema studio in laughter and cheers. With Paul Rudd helming the main character, the scenes are delivered with the sort of ease you can only get from a seasoned comedy star that is Rudd. Look forward to so many different golden comedy moments in the film. Guaranteed a few laughs or more, even if you enter the cinema with a frown on your face. When you walk out, you’ll only have a smile.

(left-right) Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, and Michael Douglas.

(left-right) Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, and Michael Douglas.

The heart of the movie is represented by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas; Wonder Boys, Behind the Candelabra) and his estranged daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly; Lost, The Hobbit) who come back together to solve the main crisis of the film. Hope strives for the approval of her father who hasn’t been the same since the departure of Hope’s mother, Janet Van Dyne. She wants to wear Hank’s old suit herself, but her wish is rebuffed by Hank who prefers to turn to Scott for help instead. Their relationship is portrayed beautifully by Douglas and Lilly, and while it is shown as sharp, cold, and entirely mechanical at the beginning, there is a treat waiting as the film progresses that will put the two closer together as father and daughter.

As has been said a few times over, comedy is a big chunk of the film—but the filmmakers haven’t let the element become the only defining trait. Backed up by a solid plotline and relatively fast pace, there isn’t a single moment where you’ll be tempted to doze off. Each execution is made just right, without having seen as forced to fit the pacing of the film. The hype is strong with this one.

One of the strongest contras when Scott Lang was first announced to be the titular Ant-Man is the one that goes, “The first Ant-Man has to be Hank Pym.” Well, explanations are due in this film, ones that will satisfy those having that contra (including myself, before I saw the film) with just a little bit more satisfaction and treat previously unimaginable to me. The explanation as to why Scott Lang is Ant-Man is pulled off nicely, and I end up having no objection whatsoever (except maybe to see a little bit more of Jan, because she is Wasp and I love the character to bits).

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Darren Cross in the Yellowjacket suit.

The character of Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket may not be as well-developed as Loki (but seriously, who can compete with Loki? The dude has his own fandom within the fandom) or Red Skull, but he is a tough enough challenge for Scott Lang and co. to beat. I mean, he is a super-genius whose brain has apparently been compromised by years of researching the Pym Particles without proper protection. He spent years under Hank Pym’s tutelage, but Hank pushed him away after he sensed that his mentor was hiding something from him. Now hell-bent on wrapping his hand around his former mentor’s secrets and prove his worth, he will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.

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Corey Stoll portrays Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket.

The cast deliver an overall exceptional performance in the film, but major kudos goes to Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Douglas, portraying the primary characters, for weaving a strong and entirely believable dynamics between the three. Scott Lang as the outsider has to deal with the already awkward relationship between Hope and Hank, and amid the brief period they have before their eventual confrontation with Darren Cross, the character developments are extremely entertaining and satisfiable to watch.

Honorary mention goes to Michael Peña who steals, without exception, every scene he is in. Portraying Scott Lang’s former cellmate and current roommate Luis, every comedic line and act he delivers is always spot on and elicits just the right amount of laughter from the audience—funny enough to be thoroughly enjoyed, but not too much as to distract the audience from the point of the scenes.

Michael Peña delivers an outstanding performance as Luis, Scott Lang's cellmate-turned-roommate.

Michael Peña delivers an outstanding performance as Luis, Scott Lang’s cellmate-turned-roommate.

As with every other Marvel film, Ant-Man serves a lovely array of CG scenes. I especially love how they choose to display Scott’s experience being as tiny as an ant, neatly showcasing how the world suddenly seems so big and every little thing suddenly becomes a potential threat. The scenes involving the army of ants are a delight to watch, as well as the smooth transitions between the Ant-Man’s often rapid switches from being small to being normal-sized. The way the fight scenes are staged, using seemingly simple everyday objects as a mock-up or children’s toys as settings, is incredibly clever and, once again, I have to commend how the filmmakers managed to inject comedic elements into action scenes without them becoming too much to be enjoyed.

Keep an eye out for Easter Eggs. Many of those are to be expected in Ant-Man, and if you’ve seen at least Avengers: Age of Ultron prior to this one, you’d surely be able to catch them. Look forward to a considerably lengthy cameo that’ll keep you at the edge of your seat and a few brief ones that are just as thrilling.

One mid-credits scene and one post-credits scene are featured. I screeched during the first one, and flat-out screamed at the second one. One word of advice: Make sure you stay until the very end.

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All-in-all, Ant-Man is completely worth the $130 million and 117 minutes of your time. Take your family with you, go with your friends—hell, go alone if you please, and you’ll still have the same amount of well-deserved, well-delivered laughter from this movie.

All You Need Is Love — Love & Misadventure Review.

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“Though here is a word of warning—you may grow to love this person but remember they are not yours to keep. Their purpose isn’t to save you but to show you how to save yourself. And once this is fulfilled, the halo lifts and the angel leaves their body as the person exits your life. They will be a stranger to you once more.” — Angels, Love & Misadventure.

To the one who never became mine, this book tells how I feel about you………………. Oh God, that’s so cheesy. But, whatever.

Alright, so, I’m just going to review (or just gonna tell you how I feel after reading it) this book called Love & Misadventure written by Lang Leav. There are three parts: Misadventure, The Circus of Sorrows, and Love.

I’m in love with the book because the poems are (kind of) universal, like they’re revealing your own love stories, and the words are really simple. I really feel like almost all these poems are coming out from my heart and it brings back to junior/high school days when to get a boyfriend/girlfriend was the most important thing in life.

There’s this moment when we read a poem, we feel like we just want to give that to our person, or wish that they would read it so they knew how we really feel.

One of my favorite poems from the book called Just Friends, it’s in Misadventure section.

You like this person, but then he/she can’t be yours.

Probably the most common thing that happens here.

“I know that I don’t own you,
and perhaps I never will,
so my anger when you’re with her,
I have no right to feel.
I know that you don’t owe me,
and I shouldn’t ask for more;
I shouldn’t feel so let down,
all the times when you don’t call.
What I feel—I shouldn’t show you,
so when you’re around I won’t;
I know I’ve no right to feel it
but it doesn’t mean I don’t.”

Another sappy one that I really love is A Question:

“It was a question I had worn on my lips for days—like a loose thread on my favorite sweater I couldn’t resist pulling—despite knowing it could all unravel around me.
“Do you love me?” I ask.
In your hesitation I found my answer.”

But hey, not all the poems are sappy, okay? Lang wrote the third section of the book, Love, with beautiful, breath-taking love poems that will make you fall in love deeper with the person you love right now and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

Soul Mates:

“I don’t know how you are so familiar to me—or why it feels less like I am getting to know you and more as though I am remembering who you are. How every smile, every whisper brings me closer to the impossible conclusion that I have known you before, I have loved you before—in another time, a different place—some other existence.”

Do you feel the chills? Do you feel those butterflies inside your stomach? Yes? Then read this book.

I Think I Just Creamed My Pants – Deadpool’s SDCC Trailer Reaction

It’s no secret that I’ve been a Deadpool fanboy for the longest time now. Like most of you, I threw fits when X-Men Origins happened. But rejoice, ye Deadheads, for our time has come.

Around this time last year, this footage made its way around the interwebs:

And we all collectively cheered. Animated as it was, the footage was one of the best depiction of Deadpool commited to screen, like, ever….UNTIL NOW.

Enter, SDCC 2015. The Fox Panel. Where /this/ happened:

Yes, it’s probably shot with a potato from the back rows and it may be taken down any minute now, but bear with me and watch it. I’ll wait.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

You done? Good. Now allow me to just say….HOLY SHIT THAT WAS ALL THAT I NEEDED TO SEE TO COMPLETELY SELL ME ON THAT MOVIE IF I WASN’T SOLD ALREADY.

Everything is there. A little angst at the start, almost wall-to-wall action, and where would our Regeneratin’ Degenerate be without his jokes? Yes, the trailer has that in spades. Digs on Green Lantern? There. General funny things? Check. Fourth wall breaking? You bet!

All the who’s who in the cast is there. Vanessa Carlyle (Morena Baccarin), Angel Dust (Gina Carano), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand, and BEST SUPERHERO NAME EVER), Colossus (Andre Tricoteux), Ajax (Ed Skrein), Weasel (T.J. Miller), Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), and of course, the Merc With The Mouth himself, this time done RIGHT, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds)! Also, unless my eyes deceive me, Deadpool creator, pouch enthusiast, and boob enlarger Rob Liefeld makes a cameo, along with Smilin’ Stan Lee….as what seems to be a strip club announcer.

And what you and I just saw, is a taste of greatness to come. Here’s hoping they’ll release the whole thing online soon, since if potato quality can get me this hyped for it, there’s no telling what an HD version would do to our collective minds.

All I can say now is BRING ON 2016!

 

Well…to be fair, there is /one/ bad thing about it. No Bob. But Fox has no rights to HYDRA. Unless we can make him Bob, Freelance Agent?