Thursday, October 05, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance Finale

The upshot: As Jammer is released from Cylon detention and as Duck grieves for his slain wife Nora; both make fateful decision about their futures on New Caprica.

Duck informs Tyrol that he has joined the New Caprica Police Force to infiltrate the collaborators. He hopes to find out who tipped off “the toasters” about the hidden weapons stash in The Temple which led to Cylon raid and his wife’s death.

Tyrol notes that’s a risky move but what is unspoken is that Duck no longer has anything to lose.

Meanwhile, as the insurgents plan their next move, Jammer doesn’t take well to Tigh’s intent to make their homemade explosives at a hiding place dangerously close to a hospital. Tigh’s reply is, in essence, “Frack them.” But if one digs a little deeper we can take his meaning—as long as they are under the chrome-plated heel of the Cylons, there is no safe place.

But Jammer can’t see that, so later we see him looking at the “calling card” that the Cylon Doral gave him while in detention to “help save lives” and the viewer watches Jammer walk toward Cylon headquarters—his choice made. Fade to black.

Given al the limitations of the Webisode format—episodes of 2-3 minute duration; shoe-string budget, constricted camera angles—this experiment had a lot of reasons to fail.

Yet it exceeded at least our expectations. It skillfully walked the very fine line of being a critical element of the story while remaining dispensable to those unable to access or view the Webisodes (such as every BSG fan with web servers outside the United States—including in Canada where the series is filmed—some Sci-Fi Channel suit really screwed the pooch on that one).

But not only did The Resistance fulfill its intended purpose of wetting the fans’ appetite during the last month of the seven month dry spell between BSG seasons, it served a definite dramatic purpose that advanced the overall story and set the tone of things to come. “So say we all.”

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Battlestar Galactica—FanBoyWonder’s crash course for the newcomer

A funny thing happed at FanBoyWonder’s day job not too long ago. Our colleague Lesley—knowing our fanboy ways—asked us if by chance we remembered that television show in the ‘70s, Battlestar Galactica… and if we remembered the name of the robots.

Oh boy did we ever! When we helpfully provided “Cylons,” Lesley thanked us for satisfying that bit of nagging trivia and was content to move on back to her job. Not content to leave well enough alone, we asked Lesley if she had heard of the NEW Battlestar Galactica on the Sci-Fi channel. Well, no she hadn’t.

After a brief explanation of the “re-imagined” series, we lent Lesley our DVD copy of the 2003 mini-series and she was favorably impressed—as is anyone else who gets past the name, the sci-fi genre or the memories of the cheesy original show.

For Lesley and for those of you who aren’t yet watching what Rolling Stone calls the “best show on television” and the recent recipient of the prestigious George Foster Peabody award, allow us to help you get up to speed in time for BSG’s Season Three premiere on Friday at 9 p.m. (E.S.T.—Check local listings).

The upshot: Battlestar Galactica takes place in a galaxy far, far away, the race of human-created Cylon androids (fear of robot overlords is an old science fiction chestnut) launch a devastating nuclear attack (think Pearl Harbor, and Sept. 11 with a dash of Hiroshima times 1,000) on the Twelve Colonies of man.

The remaining survivors of the Twelve Colonies (and of the human race) are numbered at just under 50,000 (think the entire population of Bowie, Maryland or Biloxi, Mississippi) in a rag-tag collection of ships, many with only the clothes on their back. The fleet is protected by The Galactica, the last remaining Battlestar (think aircraft carrier in space), as the fleet seeks the 13th “lost colony” called “Earth,” which is as mythical to them as Atlantis is to us.

There are so many reason why we like this show but it all comes down to is that Battlestar Galactica is a political drama set in space that is punctuated by action sequences.

The nice folks at the Sci-Fi Channel have provided newcomers a neat way to get the lowdown on the essentials of Seasons 1 and 2—watch Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far, a 44-minute recap on Sci-Fi at 7 p.m. (E.S.T) or check it out on line at

Also, something we discovered just as we were posting this blog entry thanks to the magic that is Google finder, Brian Blum, a writer for Israel Insider, Israel’s daily newsmagazine, has written a very cool summation of Battlestar Galactica. What intrigued FanBoyWonder and we think it will you too was his insightful comparisons between the fictional battle between Human and Cylon and the “troubles” that many of us safely on this side of the world refer to as the "Middle East Conflict. "

Update/Correction: We have since been informed by Brian that his BSG article was reprinted on a number of Isreal-oriented websites, but he actually publishes his own blog called This Normal Life

To find Brian’s very fine article on Battlestar Galactica and give his blog some hits, click here

Back to the subject at hand: The premise of the new Battlestar Galactica is not too far removed from the original ‘70s show—where it differs is the viewpoint. This is a dark drama about a civilization trying to rebuild itself from the ashes of nuclear holocaust while on the run for their lives.

With a decidedly dark post-9/11 slant, each and every character in this show is a flawed creature just trying to survive and not always making the “right” choices.

The starts of the show and BSG’s dramatic centers of gravity are Edward James Olmos as Commander (later Admiral) William Adama and Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin—the former Secretary of Education who became President of the Colonies after the 42 people in line before her was killed during the Cylon genocide.

Adama and Roslin are often at odds as they represent the push/pull of military vs. civilian controlled decision making. But in a surprising twist that defies the stereotype, Adama, the career military man, is often the voice to express civil liberties concerns. Roslin for her part has had to make many of her decisions based on the needs of the many over the liberties of the individual—such as banning abortions in order to promote new births and begin to repopulate the species.

FBW’s favorite Adama moment: In a moment of anger and feeling betrayed by Roslin, Adama affects a military coup, dissolves Roslin’s presidency and throws her in Galactica’s brig—despite his often noted distain for martial law. Immediately afterward, he is shot twice by a Cylon sleeper agent. The near-death experience (and the insurrection and near civil-war among the fleet) prompt Adama to reverse his action and make peace with Roslin.

FBW’s favorite Roslin moment: Knowing but unable to prove that Dr. Gaius Baltar (played by a brilliant James Callis), a favorite to defeat her bid for re-election, is a Cylon collaborator, Roslin attempts to rig the election. Adama discovers the plot and the agony of watching her confess to him her attempt to do the wrong thing for the right reason SHOULD have netted Mary McDonnell an Emmy nomination and it would have but for the name of the show and the name of the network where it airs.

For old fans, who have had to endure a 7-month wait, and for newcomers, check out the first few minutes of Season 3 here, then check out the rest on Friday. Don’t worry about what you’ve missed, this show has only just begun. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bane Damage, Magic Lighting Strikes Twice & JLA Table Talk Continues

Here is FanBoyWonder’s pics for the last week of September. Sorry to be late…Brianna the Girl Wonder has been handful since we got her back (not that we are complaining mind you!)but look for more comic reviews as well as postings on the upcoming new season of Battlestar Galactica. Stay tuned!

JSA Classified #17

The Upshot from DC Comics: Part 1 of "The Venom Connection," written by Tony Bedard with art by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens (GREEN ARROW)! Bane attacks Hourman in his home to get at the drugs that can keep him at full strength!

We were dubious when we first heard of the premise of this two-part story arc featuring Hourman but we were quickly won over.

First, following the really lame previous three issues, this book is finally doing what it should—shining the spotlight on individual JSA members.

Second, that the spotlight is on Hourman—both the original Rex Tyler and son Rick. We’ve been eager to see more of Rex Tyler after he was literally returned from the dead thanks to time travel and the sacrifice of the android Hourman in the pages of JSA.

Third, by pairing Hourman up with Bane—the villain who broke the Batman—it is not only out of the ordinary match up, but on many levels it makes sense given they both use a drug as their power source.

We thought the blue pill scene between Rex and wife Wendi was cute, while the dialogue between Bane and Rick Tyler over the nature of their respective drug addiction gave a nice insight into both their characters.

Scott McDaniel’s art here isn’t the best we’ve ever seen from him but it is still quite serviceable.

Our only pet peeve with the story came from Rick Tyler’s claim that following his Time Vision 60 minutes in the future, he raced up by car from New York City to the Tyler estate in Hartford, Conn. Being a native of the Nutmeg State ourselves, it was tough to swallow that he did the drive in an hour—we can only suspend our disbelief so far.

Why? All Connecticut natives would no know the answer to that. Two words—Merritt Parkway. We look forward to next issue.

Trials of Shazam #2 (of 12)

The Upshot from DC Comics: Enter Freddie Freeman — left powerless by the events of DAY OF JUDGMENT and BRAVE NEW WORLD — who finds his life outside of being Captain Marvel Junior in even worse shape. The good news: Freddie is given the opportunity to regain his abilities…if he can pass a few tests administered by the gods themselves. The bad news is he has to earn each and every ability from scratch!

We realize that the very nature of this mini-series is change so we are keeping an open mind and trying to reserve judgment but a couple things did stick in our craw...even as we were pleased with the overall issue.

After the end of last issue with Captain Marvel/Billy Batson aged to look more like the Wizard Shazam (with the power to match), the focus shifts to Freddy Freeman, now depowered as Captain Marvel Jr., as is Mary Marvel.

Freddy is faring better than Mary, who has lost her powers several hundred feet up over the ocean while in battle. She is in a coma, while Freddy says “Captain Marvel” to no avail.

Our beef is that while Billy Batson is…or rather was just a kid of 15 or 16, the Freedy Freedman we see here is old enough to be in college with just ten credits from graduating. Unless Freddie is a Doggie Hauser-like boy genius, we’re confused Billy and Freddy (and Mary) had previously been contemporaries in age.

We also would like a little explanation as to what happened to Billy/Cap but we’ll let it play out for now.

But as we said, we liked the issue and are pleased that writer Judd Winick has a clear sense of direction as to where he is taking this series. Howard Porter, if anything, took his art up a notch from last issue’s impressive debut. We especially liked the “cartoony” look of page 1—a clever and subtle way to illustrate how simple times were compared to how things are now.

Justice League of America #2

The Upshot from DC: Best-selling author Brad Meltzer and the fan-favorite art team of Ed Benes and Sandra Hope continue the return of the World's Greatest Super-Heroes! The selection process continues — a new villain appears — and a sinister figure ensures that the first casualty is Red Tornado's android body!

We are REALLY not trying to crap on this book, nor on writer Brad Meltzer—whom we like. We are rooting for Brad, we want him to succeed and we think we see where he is going but he’s GOT to pick up the pace.

We’re up to the third issue (counting the “Zero” issue) and there isn’t even a full roster yet. The table scene with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman was cute for the first third of the first issue, but it’s gotten stale real fast.

But what bothers us most about the table scene is the subtle pretentiousness of the “Big Three” as the pour through the photos of potential new leaguers with the absolute expectation that whomever they “invite” into the League will drop everything and rush to the call.

What would be much more interesting and what we would really like to see is less the “invitation” process and more the reactions of those invited into the League. What we really want to see is not so much of rebuilding the League’s roster but rebuilding the League’s reputation—each of the Big Three has something to prove and trust to regain.

We are warming to the Red Tornado storyline. Actually we really didn’t have a problem with it last issue except for it occurred in the mist of so much else going on. What we do like are the little bits of trivia in the internal monologues about the “community” within the DC Universe—especially with Jefferson Pierce/Black Lighting.

It’s not that this issue, or the issues so far are bad but merely a “good” issue of a relaunched book claming to be the “World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” is not good enough. DC itself has raised the bar of expectations—and we believe it’s well within the abilities of Brad Metzler to clear it—as we said, he’s got to pick up the pace.

52 WEEK 21

The Upshot from DC: "No disrespect, Raven, but we're as much Infinity Inc. as you are Titans. Neither team is the same one it used to be."

We found this one of the more interesting issues in a long time but we’ve been eagerly awaiting movement on the Steel vs. Luthor storyline.

Lex Luthor has created his own personal super-team with his “everyman” program where his scientists activate a person’s “meta-gene” to grant them powers. But what Luthor can give, he can take away…and does to Eliza Harmon, the teen girl speedster dubbed Trajectory.

Her loss of super-speed during battle got her killed and Lex took away her speed. Why? Because she had dissed him and no one disses Luthor and lives. It’s good to get an occasional reminder of just how evil this dude is.

Luthor’s “Infinity Inc.” has us smirking at the irony. Since the team name and roster wasn’t being used anymore, bought the rights and created his own Skyman, Nuklon and Fury.

Meanwhile, John Henry Irons’ confrontation with his niece Natasha, who as Team Luthor’s leader is Starlight, was disappointing but expected. We’re taking it as a sign that we are really into this storyline as we really want John Henry to give a Steel-toed kick the spoiled-little brat in the arse.
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