Saturday, February 11, 2006

Battlestar Galactica–Sacrifice

The upshot: A group of militants take civilians—including Apollo, Duella and Billy—hostage aboard the Cloud 9 luxury ship and demand that Admiral Adama handover the Sharon Cylon to be executed.

SPOILER WARNING!!!! –If you missed BSG on Friday and intend to catch the encore broadcast Monday night at 11 p.m….read no further.

That said…Oh my God! They killed Billy….those bastards!!!!

You know just how good of a show BSG is when they can take that old television plot standby—the hostage situation—and make it seem fresh.

Dana Delaney continues the array of top-shelf guest star talent that BSG has been able to attract. Delaney plays the widow of a man slain during a recent Cylon attack. Her grief finds expression through the persistent rumors throughout the fleet that Galactica has been harboring the Sharon Cylon model.

Her grief plus outrage at discovery of the military’s secret harboring of the Cylon prompts the extreme action of the hostage taking.

Before the action begins, Billy Keikeya, President Roslin’s boyish yet loyal aide appears to find his voice in firmly but respectfully advising Adama (Edward James Almos) that he needs to go public and explain his actions behind keeping the Sharon Cylon prisoner. Even Roslin (Mary McDonnell) is impressed.

Billy is more than an aide to Roslin but the closest thing she has left to family. Billy’s good fortune turns as Duella flatly turns down his marriage proposal, unbeknownst to him that she has developed feelings for Apollo.

Aboard Cloud 9 for some R&R, Billy runs into Duella and Apollo but the confrontation is interrupted by the militants taking the bar hostage and they announce their demand for Sharon Cylon or else they kill hostages.

Back on Galactica, Col. Tigh, Adama and Roslin are all resolute that they can’t negotiate with terrorists but it’s a position that becomes much more difficult to maintain when they realize they each have loved ones at gunpoint—Col Tigh’s wack-job wife Ellen, Apollo/Capt. Lee Adama and Billy.

Starbuck is dispatched to take charge of the hostage situation. In another twist of the old impersonate a maintenance tech to take down the bad guys trick—Starbuck is discovered, a firefight ensues, she accidentally shoots Apollo before retreating.

In shock, Starbuck confesses Apollo was hit by “friendly fire” from her. Adama coldly receives the news—an uncomfortable déjà vu as Starbuck was indirectly responsible for her fiancée’s/Adama’s younger son’s death.

Under pressure, Adama agrees to handover Sharon, but he pulls a fast one by sending in the corpse of the first Sharon Cylon—enough distraction to allow the Marines to storm the bar.

Billy, still fuming over Duella’s betrayal, feels the need to prove himself by making a grab for a bad guys gun, shoots another bad guy to save Duella’s life before being fatally shot himself. Delaney’s character is also killed in the assault but her actions have repercussions.

Delaney’s character took extreme action but she had a point in that Adama and Roslin’s secrecy regarding the Cylon, now revealed, have further sown the seeds of distrust between the civilian fleet and the military.

Relationships are also fractured as a result of the stand off. Adama’s son will live but Roslin’s surrogate son is dead following Adama’s “calculated risk” to storm the terrorists. Between Adama and Starbuck, he does not seem too concerned about assuaging her guilt for what was clearly an accident in shooting Apollo.

FBW is very disappointed at Billy’s death. We liked Billy. Unlike most of the other characters, Billy was the everyman in the cast…not the military leader or the hot shot pilot.

But BSG is anything but predictable. We didn’t want to see Billy die so that’s what it makes it so good…because the show isn’t afraid to kill off storied characters, which only adds to the sense of risk and uncertainty. These frackers don’t frack around.

Stargate Atlantis-The Long Goodbye

The upshot: Lt. Col. Sheppard and Dr. Weir, both possessed by aliens, threaten Atlantis as they strive to kill each other and anyone else who gets in their way.

The team finds two escape/stasis pods floating in space. Upon examination in Atlantis, Weir has her body taken over by an alien who cons Sheppard into allowing his body to be “temporarily” possessed by the other alien so husband and wife can be together one last time.

Turns out they aren’t spouses but deadly enemies—the last survivors of long forgotten war determined to be the last survivor. The body possession is temporary so the mind-controlled Sheppard and Weir have a short time to kill each other before they die for good.

This episode is an amusing cat and mouse game but it’s nice to see Weir having something to do besides giving orders. However, even when possessed by an evil homicidal alien, she still comes off as a tight ass. The gal needs to lighten up.

The interchange between Dr. McKay and Col. Caldwell, a recent victim of body possession himself, is funny as he and McKay briefly argue as to who is in charge.

In the end, nobody dies. Weir and Sheppard get their bodies back. No muss no fuss.

Stargate SG-1 –Off the Grid

Turns out Ba’al is sealing stargates in attempt to regain his lost empire. The team goes after him, with the help of the new Earth interstellar ship The Odyssey—which is on a shakedown cruise.

The team sneaks aboard Ba’al’s ship, firefight ensues, they steal the stargates back, narrowly escape the ships destruction. No muss no fuss. An amusing waste to time.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Justice League Unlimited—On Borrowed Time

It’s a classic good news/bad news situation when it comes to FanBoyWonder’s beloved Justice League Unlimited.

The good news: Contrary to previous reports, Cartoon Network will begin airing new JLU episodes starting tomorrow (Saturday) night at 10:30 E.S.T. (check local listings), according to Comics Continuum.

The Upshot: “Flash and Substance” is described as "Batman and Orion see a different side of the Flash when a rogues' gallery of villains attacks the museum that is opening in his honor." The episode features the Rogues Gallery and it holds the promise of getting into the Flash’s origin.

The bad news: The Winston-Salem Journal of North Carolina is reporting that Cartoon Network decided to end JLU due to declining ratings. Tomorrow night’s “Flash and Substance” is the fifth of 13 episodes of the third and now apparently final season.!entertainment!general!&s=1037645508970

Even as we are shocked, we can’t say we are too surprised at this news. Actually, much of the reason JLU has been so good has been the creators pulling out all the stops thinking that they could be canceled at any time.

But frankly the report of the show’s demise due to “declining ratings” is a bit annoying since the network didn’t exactly make it easy to watch the show—from ping ponging the airing times and dates, inexplicitly not airing episodes during their previously scheduled times, minimal advertising of the show and no encore episode showings.

By contrast, Teen Titans was a rating juggernaut for six seasons, much due to the fact that the network aired the show four times a day nearly everyday.

Not to sound too bitter, but FBW could have been a television network programmer, but they found out our parents were married. Oh well. It’s best to enjoy the remaining episodes while we can.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rann-Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special—the Post Mortem

FanBoyWonder was out of town at a business conference as part of our day job—consigned temporarily to the seventh circle of hell. You know it as Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida (not to be confused with the Seven Hells of Thanagar—at least nobody on Hawkworld wishes you a “magical day”…and lives too long to tell about it).

So we’re catching up on comic commentary. However, one week later and we’re still annoyed and disappointed after reading the events of the Rann-Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special.

The upshot: RTW Special follows up from last summer’s six-issue mini-series and it takes place following the events of Infinite Crisis issue #4.

Here’s DC’s breakdown of events from their “Crisis Counseling” section of their Website,

At the center of the universe an assembled superhuman strike force — including Donna Troy, Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner, and Alan Scott, Jade, Supergirl, Starfire, Adam Strange, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Captain Comet, the Omega Men and more — battled Blackfire's massive army!
As two mysterious hands — who we now know belonged to Alexander Luthor — emerged from the destructive cosmic storm, Rann and Thanagar leaders discovered that Superboy-Prime was responsible for pushing Rann out of its orbit! Realizing the true culprit behind their problems, the leaders ended their war!
Luthor's giant hands sent out waves of destructive energy that killed Jade! But before she died, she transferred her remaining energy into Kyle Rayner, transforming him into Ion — who was called by the Guardians "the first of a new breed, the next step in the evolution of our cause!"

FBW really wanted to like this series. It had a lot of unrealized potential. We admire writer Dave Gibbons’ attempt to pull together so many of the DCU’s outer-space races into a single story, but he bit off more than he could chew.

Gibbons, who is known foremost as an artist, seems in over his head as a writer of a major event mini-series. To be sure, he has laid out an ambitious plot, but his dialogue was weak and there was a definite sense he had just a loose grasp of the characters.

Example: Throughout the mini-series, Gibbons superimposed Green Lantern Hal Jordan’s personality onto GL Kyle Rayner right down to the “Great Guardians” exclamations.

Even for readers with three-decades of DC Comics history like FBW, it was impossible NOT to get lost in all the plot noise. Better art could have helped. RTW has credited as the issue's
pencillers Ivan Reis and Joe Prado and as inkers, Marc Campos, Oclair Albert and Michael Bair. Inept coloring compounded the mess.

Deaths: During the mini-series, Hawkwoman, the Thanagarian Shayera Thal, was murdered by Blackfire (Starfire’s evil older sister) with little fanfare.
Even worse was the way Gibbons killed off Jade, Alan Scott’s daughter—a stupid demise, clumsily executed on page 29.

As noted above, Jade transferred her “Lantern energy” to Kyle allowing him to become Ion again—internalizing the emerald power (i.e. power ring no longer needed). Apparently it was Jade’s last wish that Kyle be saddled with yet another bad costume choice.

Here’s the inconsistency: Jade is the daughter of Alan Scott, the original Earth Green Lantern but Alan Scott was never a member of the Green Lantern Corps, the creation of Guardians of the Universe of Oa. Scott power comes from the Starheart, also known as the Green Flame—magic.

However, during Judd Winick’s GL run, Kyle as Ion used his enhanced emerald Oan power to jump start Jade’s burned out but dormant power. Now apparently she gave the power back but “her energy, her spirit lives on.” It was a dumb fate for a good character but there appears to be wiggle room to bring her back.

One more thing: Call it nitpicking but on page 40, Green Lantern Kilowog said his ring “identified the perp as Superboy-Prime.” How does his ring know who SBP is since he is from the pre-crisis reality???????

Aquaman #39

The upshot: Aquaman has lost his kingdom for a second time, and chaos closes in on the unsure hero in the form of Black Manta. It's a fight that may make or break Aquaman, just as an important part of his past reemerges.

It really doesn’t matter what this issue was about because next issue it’s One Year Later with a new creative team and title—Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40.

But FBW is getting off the ride here. Three major creative sea changes (no pun intended) on this book should be a sign—the book can’t find any traction. Continue reading at your own peril
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