Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: Occupation & Precipice

The Upshot from Sci-Fi: SEASON PREMIERE! The Cylons have occupied the human settlement of New Caprica, and it's been four months since the Galactica, the Pegasus, and a handful of ships escaped into deep space. But the fight is not over. On New Caprica, a resistance has begun — and despite having only a handful of untested pilots at his command, Admiral Adama is committed to risking everything on a daring attack to rescue the people he left behind.

[Sorry for the delay: We’ve had this review of BSG in the can but technical difficulties kept us from posting until now.]

In all of the pre-season press, the cast and crew promised that Season 3 would be even darker than before and they are well on their way to delivering following the 2-hour premiere of Occupation and Precipice.

You know, running an underground insurgency is all fun and games…until Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan) loses an eye.—Sorry we just couldn’t resist.

During our review of last month’s BSG The Resistance webisodes, we had noted that while others were more reluctant freedom fighters/insurgents/terrorists, Col. Tigh was clearly enjoying himself as a warrior who needs a war.

Well as we see with the opening of Occupation, he’s not having so much fun now. Following weeks of captivity and torture that cost him his right eye. “They tore it right out and showed it to me…looked like a hard boiled egg.”

If the gloves weren’t off before, Tigh takes the insurgency up a notch by employing suicide bombers. Faced with nothing to lose following his wife’s death by the Cylons, Duck—whose back-story was really fleshed out during the webisodes— is employed as the first (but not the last) suicide bomber.

But the tactic is by no means universally lauded among the resistance. Former President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell)—who herself has been gathering names of known and suspected New Caprica Police collaborators—is appalled by the use of suicide bombers.

Yet Tigh doesn’t give an inch. He essentially tells her to frack off; he’s got a war to fight then instructs the bombers NOT to avoid human casualties—especially if they are collaborators.

A recent article in Newsweek magazine www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15134627/site/newsweek/
recently compared Tigh to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—noting how both characters are relentless ball busters who despise any suggestion of weakness or retreat. (The comparison only goes so far however—at least Col. Tigh knows how to competently prosecute a war—but we digress.)

Speaking of collaborators, Jammer—who was also featured in the Webisodes—had made his choice to join the New Caprica Police. But he is conflicted and getting in deeper and deeper when he is ordered to round up 200 insurgent “suspects” in the dead of night, including Callie—Chief Tyrol’s wife—forcing her to leave her newborn baby behind alone.

The suicide bomber tactic really rocks the Cylons, who we see are divided in the best way to oversee those they have conquered. Dean Stockwell as the Cylon Brother Cavil runs away with his part. Each of his Cylon models (in a clever body double scene) press to “instill fear” among the human populous “to serve God’s will.”

In a darkly amusing scene, he suggests publicly executing puppet Colonial President Baltar (James Callis) while he’s in the room. When it’s decided that the people would actually cheer Baltar’s death, Cavil presses on proposing random arrests and executions and finally perhaps even culling the humans down to a more “manageable” population if they can’t get a handle on the insurgency.

Speaking of Cavil, Tigh’s whack-job wife Ellen affects the Colonel’s release the old fashioned way—quid pro quo—her body for his “influence” but as we see, he has his own reasons for releasing Tigh.

Elsewhere on occupied New Caprica, the Cylon Leobon has been keeping Starbuck captive in a cell outfitted with all the comforts of home in a ploy to get her to love him. In the best tradition of a Bugs Bunny cartoon, she’s been “killing” him each chance she gets, he downloads into a new body and his infatuation continues.

The drama gets taken up a notch when Leobon introduces Kara to Kacey—her alleged daughter. Leobon explains that when Starbuck was a prison in the Cylon hospital, one of her ovaries was removed, he inseminated it and the child was born—this would make Kacey the second human-Cylon hybrid.

But given Leobon’s penchant for deception, it’s entirely possible Kacey is a human child not related to her in order to confuse Starbuck. When Kasey is seriously injured while Starbuck was in the bathroom, we can see Leobon is playing on her guilt.

Meanwhile, the Battlestars Galactica and Pegasus along with the remainder of the fleet—some 2,000 souls, attempt to work out a rescue mission with only skeleton crews made up of the junior varsity.

Commander Adama/Apollo has really become “soft both mentally and physically” during the year in orbit of New Caprica as essentially a peacekeeping force and he continues to butt heads with his father Admiral Adama. Not only has Apollo he’s lost his edge as a warrior he’s lost his confidence in himself.

After some soul searching with newly sworn-in Lt. Sharon Agathon, the one-time Cylon prisoner advises Admiral Adama that he needs to forgive himself before doing what he needs to do. He’s had enough of leaving people behind and he’s taking Galactica back to New Caprica. This fight has only just begun.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Amazing Spider Girl lives on while Nightwing’s “savior” arrives

Here is FanBoyWonder’s picks for the first week of October. Do not adjust your set—it is true that we are recommending a Marvel Comic. Check it out below.

Amazing Spider Girl #0

The Upshot from Marvel Comics: With the aid of the most dedicated and enthusiastic fanbase in the history of Marveldom Assembled, Spider-Girl--the little comic that could--defied all the odds and reached a momentous 100 issues! This complete 32-page special recounts the full story of Spider-Man’s daughter for new readers...and also allows her longtime fans to relive her greatest moments.

Although we haven’t picked up a Marvel Comic in many years, we’ve admired this character from afar—even since her introduction in a throw-away “What If” issue nearly a decade ago—and we were finally moved to pick up this book.

Why do we like this book? Because it’s a living link to the Marvel Universe we used to know and Spider-Girl reminds us of the way Spider-Man used to be. Spider-Girl is May Parker, the daughter of Peter and Mary Jane Parker and her story takes place in a “possible future.”

We stopped reading Spider-Man in the mid-‘90s following that editorial train wreck known as the Spider-Clone saga. For us the straw that broke the camel’s back was the revival of Norman Osborn, the original Green Goblin.

They undid a perfectly good death that had stood for more than 20 years to reveal that Osborn had not only survived being impaled by his own Goblin glider, but in his reintroduction, he was the secret puppet-master behind-the-scenes source behind all of Peter Parker’s problems, including the alleged miscarriage of Mary Jane’s baby.

The life of the Amazing Spider Girl follows the plot thread we would have liked to have seen developed—and apparently enough people shared the same wish to keep May Parker’s adventures going for 100 issues, despite numerous attempts to kill the book.

We admit that we never bought Spider-Girl up until now—although we would read it in the comic store. However, this re-launch is the perfect chance for new fans like us and you too to jump on board. Check it out.

Nightwing #125

The Upshot from DC Comics: Dick Grayson begins a new life and faces off with a new enemy as new series writer Marv Wolfman and art team Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund take over NIGHTWING! Raptor — a powerful new foe with an arsenal of deadly weapons — is wanted by the police and hunted by Nightwing. When he's found standing over a charred, dead body, the police call it murder, but Nightwing isn't sure. And even if it means an enemy goes free, Nightwing must uncover the truth!

This issue initially fell a bit flat for us until we conceded that we had elevated expectations given the disastrous run of Bruce Jones.

Marv Wolfman and Dan Jurgens bring competence to this book where competence has been M.I.A. for quite a while—but the bar has to be set much higher than simply not sucking.

We’re cutting Marv some slack considering that his main (and best) qualification to be imported as damage control is that he wrote Dick Grayson for some 15 years in the Titans—but to be objective, Marv was coasting at best during the last 5 or 6 years of his run.

But at his best, Wolfman real got inside Dick Grayson’s head and it was Wolfman along with George Perez that helped Dick Grayson emerge from out of the Shadow of the Bat as Robin to grow into his own man as Nightwing.

This is ancient history today, but we can’t tell you how much of a big deal at the time it was for the sidekick to grow up and become a hero in his own right. That among all other reasons is why we have loved Nightwing so much and that is why it has been so painful for us to watch this character’s respectability eroded by one incompetent creative team after another.

In this issue, Raptor is a D-list villain that Nightwing—adopted son of the Batman—should have been able to take out in no less than 3 pages. This guy is not major nemesis material. But the real grabber is the acknowledgement by the disembodied voice that Dick should have died during the Infinite Crisis—we are eager to see were this goes.

We almost hate to complain because Jurgens’ art is a quantum leap improvement from recent issues but Dan, you’re not drawing Superman anymore---Nightwing is an acrobat, draw him doing something acrobatic.

52 Week 22

The Upshot from DC: "Good news, Sir. Your son Kon-El didn't die in the Crisis after all."

We really don’t know why, but this issue failed to capture our attention. Much of the issue continued to focus on Luthor vs. Steel but much of it was Blah, Blah, Blah. Meanwhile a new character, “Super-Chief” is introduced while Doc Magnus is getting hassled by the government.

Wow yet another government conspiracy where the men in dark suits are after a scientist who knows too much and/or they want to use his science for “bad” things. Yawn!

Here are a couple holdovers from last week:

Secret Six #4

The Upshot from DC: It's the Secret Six versus the Doom Patrol, fresh off their appearance in Teen Titans! As the Six hunt down the villain who has been targeting them, they uncover some startling secrets. What does the all-new Doom Patrol have to do with all of it?

This issue is an improvement over the past couple both in terms of script and art but this series has so far failed to be nearly as compelling as last year’s Villains United.

Brad Walker’s pencils with inks by Jimmy Palmiotti don’t seriously detract but neither does the art advance the story. While the story layout is fine and in some instances quite inventive, the visuals fail to be appealing—we speculate it’s a clashing of art styles between Walker and Palmiotti.

We will see this mini-series thorugh for the whole six issues but unless we see more to the story, we’re inclined to think that this secret is out.

Teen Titans #39

The upshot from DC: Part 2 of "Titans Around the World!" It's off to Tokyo to meet one of the many mysterious Teen Titans members from the missing year: the world's greatest teen magician — the all-new Zatara! Plus, Robin and Wonder Girl learn a horrific secret about one of their former members.

We’ve been on the verge of dropping this book for months and the fault for that falls squarely on the shoulders of writer Geoff Johns. Tony Daniel’s art has been consistently superior but we view this book as evidence that Johns has simply taken on too many projects.

We were never convinced he had a firm grip on the Titans to begin with—compare this team book with his other team book JSA and you’ll see the difference. We find out too late that Superboy was the heart of this book, but he’s dead and we’re left with a roster of unknowns—that includes Robin and Wonder Girl who are virtual strangers to us One Year Later.

We really didn’t like Zachary Zatara, “Miss Martian” and Bombshell—offshoots of Zatanna, the Martian Manhunter and Captain Atom . Instead of introducing derivative characters from existing heroes in such a willy-nilly fashion, we’d prefer to see original, new (and interesting) characters.

We are going to reiterate our earlier suggestion that Johns work with a collaborator to co-plot or script like he did with Marv Wolfman earlier this year or else make room for another writer because the status quo isn’t working.
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