Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Return of Guy Gardner and The Flash--The Worst DC Comic

FanBoyWonder has had a rough few days in the FBW house but the show must go on so here are our comic pics from last week—better late than never.

Guy Gardner Collateral Damage #1

The Upshot from DC Comics: On the fringes of the Rann-Thanagar War, G'Nort of the Green Lantern Corps must find an arbiter to broker a peace deal! What neutral part does he find? None other than Green Lantern Guy Gardner! Wait…Guy? Peace? Neutral

When FBW met Howard Chaykin at the Pittsburgh Comicon (http://www.pittsburghcomicon.com/) earlier this year, he told us he is eager to return everybody’s favorite Guy to respectability after years of playing the buffoon during the Justice League International years.

Chaykin said that he envisioned Guy Gardner as a military professional--as a Green Lantern, he’s a part of an elite peacekeeping organization. Remember, noted HC, Guy is a trained attorney, not many people remember that. He said he envisioned Guy as a world weary character—think Dennis Leary.

Chaykin really delivers the goods in the first issue of double-shot mini-series. His art is flawless and his story very good—in a deceptively simple manner. The plot is pretty straightforward but it’s also so nuanced that one read can still pick up important details on the third or fourth read.

By his own admission, Guy is an insufferable ass but past writers have made the mistake of confusing arrogance for incompetence. Chaykin’s Guy Gardner knows who he is and he “doesn’t roll over for anybody.” It takes a dirty Guy to do the dirty jobs.

It was nice to see Warriors, Guy’s old superhero bar, in the picture and Chaykin is even taking the time to tie up some of loose ends Guy’s Vuldiarian Warrior days in the ‘90s in-between power ring gigs.

Surprisingly, G’nort is the book’s narrator and here too does Chaykin make a one time buffoon character credible. Apparently here, G’nort is indeed a member of the Green Lantern Corps.

HC contradicts the Gerard Jones story in Green Lantern of some 15 years ago that explained away G’nort’s unwitting involvement in a faux GLC designed to discredit the actual Corps, but we don’t mind.

Classic Guy Gardner moment: Guy affirms his “commitment to the peace process” between Rann and Thanagar and to seeing the two worlds’ representatives—who happen to be attractive women, “together.”

“What makes me think your idea of getting us together…involves the three of us…naked?” Bhaw ha ha….Classic Guy!

52 WEEK 30

The upshot from DC: Get ready for the story you never expected! "Batman...No More" — a full length 22-page adventure featuring Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and...Batwoman?!?

We waited half-a-year to find out what happened to the Bat-Family on their post-Infinite Crisis time out and when we get it, we’re left confused, under whelmed and annoyed. Since we know the Dark Knight has already returned, Bruce Wayne’s declaration that Batman is dead doesn’t hold water—this was a character story without drilling into the character. Even the banter between Nightwing and Robin was tired.

As always the highlight was the sections with Renee Montoya and the Question, who is in the last stages of his cancer. Montoya’s former lover Kathy Kane, the new Batwoman, has taken them in and they reach an easy peace.

Speaking of Batwoman, she and Nightwing meet for the first time. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t all that memorable. Isn’t it about time to fill out the Batwoman character beyond her sexuality? Otherwise, DC might as well change her code name to “Lipstick Lesbian.”

Teen Titans #41

The Upshot from DC Comics: The explosive "Titans Around the World" story concludes with the team finding Raven! Will she bring back a Titan who died?

Ok Jericho is back from the dead, Bombshell is the traitor and the story arc is completed. We’ve always been lukewarm with Geoff Johns take on the Titans but at least with the “core” team—Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy, Beast Boy, Cyborg and Raven—we all knew the players.

With the Teen Titans Cartoon Network show history, Johns is no longer wedded to the “core” team and we can see how he would want to build a new team dynamic but Ravenger, Kid Devil, and Miss Martian do nothing for us and the One Year Later Robin and Wonder Girl aren’t enough to keep our interest.

We’ve been saying for a while that Geoff Johns has been writing too many books. Titans is clearly at the bottom of his writing pile so we are taking it off our buy list. Sorry Geoff.

Green Lantern #15

The Upshot from DC Comics: Part 3 of "Wanted: Hal Jordan," guest-starring Alan Scott, Green Arrow and Roy Harper! Wanted for murder and on the run, with John Stewart's life on the line, Hal Jordan struggles to clear his name once again. But who put a price on his head? And what do they want from Green Lantern?

After being a de-facto bi-monthly book for most of this year, we are nothing short of astounded to have issue 15 following THREE WEEKS after the previous issue.

This issue was jam-packed with action and we have no complaints with the art. Many of the post-One Year Later plot threads that Geoff Johns has laid out seem to be coming to fruition here but it’s been tough to remember some of them—like the hinted at tension between Hal Jordan and original Green Lantern Alan Scott. But next issue promises a show down between the two Green Lanterns.

We are forced to wonder, however, why Geoff Johns went to the trouble to absolve Jordan of all of his crimes committed by Parallax during the Revenge of the Green Lanterns story arc just to paint him into a corner as a renegade and an outlaw here.

As we noted we have no complaints with the art but if Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert could manage such visuals consistently each month (as in a montly schedule) we would be most favorably impressed.

The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #6

The Upshot from DC Comics: "Lightning in a Bottle" concludes with a duel to the death on Keystone Bridge!

We have been less than impressed with much of the post-Infinite Crisis line up by DC but this book is by far the WORST COMIC BOOK DC COMICS IS PUTTING OUT TODAY!

How this could get the green light to say nothing of going six issues boggles the mind. It’s a flawed premise topped off by an incompetent writing team and inconsistent art.

The ONLY reason we had stuck around this long was to see the explanation of what happened to Bart Allen during his missing years inside the Speed Force. The explanation was all of three pages at the end and it’s totally bogus and we won’t even attempt to try to explain it.

We had vowed to stick with this book for six issues and now we’re done. We are heartened by the news that writers Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo have (finally) been removed from the book and Manhunter writer Marc Andreyko has been tapped to take over the book at issue #9.

CORRECTION/UPDATE DEC. 7: We incorrectly named Marc Andreyko as the new upcoming writer of The Flash when it is actually writer Marc Guggenheim, writer of Marvel Comics titles Blade and Wolverine. Sorry about that folks—FBW.

We will check out this book again at issue 9 but until then we are dropping this book for the next two issues. Normally we would simply keep buying the book and wait for the new writer, but it’s time to send DC a message to get its act together.

Vote with your wallet for quality by dropping The Flash for issues 7 &8.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Battlestar Galactica— Unfinished Business

The upshot from the Sci-Fi Channel: A rank-free boxing tournament aboard the Galactica is intended to help the officers and crew blow off steam, but it quickly drags old grudges into the light — including Apollo (Jamie Bamber) and Starbuck's (Katie Sackhoff) lingering issues and resentments, which were spawned on New Caprica.

Holy Frak! After a couple weeks of not entirely stellar episodes, BSG goes super nova with Unfinished Business. BSG has always been at its heart a character driven show punctuated by action and space battles but this week the characters are driven full speed ahead into facing their demons—all with nary a Cylon in sight (not counting Athena of course).

As the episode opened, we were heartened to see Starbuck and her estranged husband Sam Anders (Michael Trucco) back in the sack—a reconciliation perhaps?—but we were quickly disabused of that notion as once the beast with two backs was made, Starbuck grabbed her skivvies and made off. “Happy to be of service,” Anders quipped.

Anders wants their marriage back but Starbuck remains more emotionally damaged than ever and she is making good on her previous claim that she doesn’t much care who she hurts. Even as the viewer can sense that she has carried a life-long hurt, her bile-filed pissyness is getting annoying.

Speaking of hurting, below deck boxing is in full swing—literally. As we watch the Friday night fights, the viewer is moved between the conflict of the present and past where the seeds of conflict were sewn on New Caprica 17 months earlier, some 8 months prior to the Cylon-occupation.

As then-President Gaius Baltar (James Callis) broke ground in New Caprica City to usher in “bright future” the new colony, we see these are happy times for our cast of characters. During the post-groundbreaking party, we see Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan) and his wife Ellen (Kate Vernon) enjoyed a genuine loving moment during their previously train-wreck of a marriage. Given what we know is to come, it’s a quite bittersweet to observe.

The shocker of the episode was seeing Adama (Edward James Olmos) and then ex-President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) “bond” on New Caprica. They were so down-right snuggly that we wondered if they had gotten making with the love. FBW’s best pal Kemosabe told us he thinks that they did it. We’re inclined to agree.

In interviews Mary McDonnell has said that she believed her character, as President with the weight of the world on her shoulders, can’t afford to give herself to romance. It seems equally clear that Adama shares a similar viewpoint.

But on New Caprica, she wasn’t president anymore/yet—and he was in command of what was essentially a peace-time military—and she is a woman and Bill Adama is a man and…well you know.

In any event, whatever happened on New Caprica, stayed on New Caprica as since then the Second Exodus and Roslin’s reinstatement to high office, the Adama-Roslin bond has been stronger than ever but without a hint of sexual tension.

But it was cute to find out that Roslin a closet boxing fan and to watch her dispense good boxing advice to Adama during his time in the ring. Adama is prompted to challenge Chief Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) to fight after an unintentional but telling moment of insubordination—the chief was too caught up in the fights and too willing to put off repairs until tomorrow what should be done today—a no-no aboard a warship.

After a sucker punch by Adama, Tyrol is goaded into taking the fight seriously until the much younger man leaves the Admiral quite bloodied but never unbowed.

Adama addresses the crew after his beating: “When you stand on this deck, you be ready to fight, or you dishonor the reason we’re here” he says. “When you fight a man, he is not your friend. The same goes when you lead men. I forgot that once, I let you get too close. All of you. I dropped my guard. I gave some of you breaks, let some of you go before the fight was really over. I let this crew and this family disband. And we paid price in lives. That can’t happen again.”

Adama’s words are sobering enough as Tyrol leaves ring to take up the work he had previously blown off. Only a man like William Adama could be beaten to a pulp and still walk away the victor.

And no doubt the took the beating in the first place, beyond as an object lesson to his crew, due to the guilt he will always carry for what he believes is his culpability for provoking the Cylons into launching the genocide as we saw in BSG Hero.

But the main event of the evening was the grudge match between Starbuck and Apollo—brining to a head their months of conflict dating back to events on New Caprica. The past on New Caprica and present in the ring flash back and forth as we see Starbuck and Apollo caught each other's eyes over the shoulders of their new lovers, Anders and Dualla during the celebration on New Caprica.

It turns out Starbuck and Apollo did get together on the planet and he declared his love for her, she reluctantly did the same. But the next morning we see Apollo waking up alone and later to be told by his father that Starbuck just got married.

Jamie Bamber gives the performance of his career here as the viewer watches his spirit shatter on camera as he absorbs the news. As Starbuck rushed into marriage with Anders, so does Apollo do the same with Duella but we see this is the moment where Lee Adama unravels and he starts to become the soft and weak shell of a man viewers first observe at the start of Season 3.

Flash forward to the present and these two are giving a whole new meaning to “lovers quarrel” as they pound the snot out of one another in the ring. The writers at BSG may have found a revolutionary form couples therapy—lace up the gloves and start swinging as you see in the BSG universe, there is no such thing as chivalry—equality of the sexes is a given so boys and girls can kick each others asses with dispatch.

And the more they take out of each other, the closer they become—even as their respective spouses watch. They end the bout hanging off of each other in exhaustion—“I missed you” Kara says to Lee. “I missed you too,” he says in reply.

Starbuck’s husband knows the score and he declares “I’m outta here.” We can’t help but feel bad for him. He’s done everything right but still losing his wife but she did after all go back to Caprica and rescue him from Cylon-occupation, saving his life….things he can never forgive her for and for which he can never repay her.

Duella, Apollo’s wife, on the other hand is another story. Given how she gave Billy the shaft last season just before he died, all we can say is what goes around comes around.
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