Thursday, January 18, 2007

Battlestar Galactica—Season 3.5 Preview FanBoyWonder Style

Nobody asked us but as we here at FanBoyWonder eagerly await the start of Battlestar Galactica Season 3.5now at a new day and time, Sunday at 10 p.m. E.S.T. on Sci-Fi Channel, check local listings—we thought we would note our wish list of things we’d like to see in the coming new episodes.

This past Monday as Sci-Fi aired the all-day BSG marathon repeating the 11 episodes of Season 3.0, we were reminded just how good this season has been so far. There were more hits than misses and the show is stronger than ever creatively speaking.

Recap: When we last left the crew in December, Galactica was in a standoff with four Cylon basetars—all in orbit of the “Algae Planet,” home of the Eye of Jupiter. If the legends can be believed it’s not only a road map to Earth but it’s also the key—or so Cylon D’Anna (Lucy Lawless) believes--to discovering the identity of the final five humanoid Cylons models.

As the Cylons sent ships to the planet, Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) had deployed Galactica’s nuclear missile arsenal and seemed prepared to make good on his threat to nuke the planet--with Apollo (Jamie Bamber), Starbuck (Katie Sackhoff) and numerous other crew members down below--rather than allow the Cylons to get possession of the Eye. Oh yeah, the planet’s sun is on the verge of going supernova and exploding. Not bad as cliffhangers go.

Even as a fourth season of BSG is either all but officially confirmed and announced or hanging by a thread—depending on who you believe—viewers should expect “major changes” to the status quo of Galactica in the coming weeks after the second half of Season 3 kicks off Sunday.

BSG writers/producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick have hinted that a major character will be killed off and given recent press reports that primary cast member Katie Sackhoff has expressed her desire to leave the show, all signs would seem to point to the demise of Starbuck.

Yet don’t bet all of your cubits on that one. But we should note that ALL of the cast member’s contracts are up for renewal so it would seem that anyone is fair game. It would not be unheard of for the producers to do some sort of media head fake by holding Starbuck out as a red hearing.

Frankly we live in fear that either Edward James Olmos and/or Mary McDonnell will declare they have had enough of outer space (and Vancouver, British Columbia) and go home—as Oscar-caliber heavyweight actors, they are both on Galactica because they WANT to be.

This is where we begin to realize that Galactica is not going to have a long seven-season run like (most) of the Star Trek spin-offs—the cast and the writers will stay on Galactica only for as long as there are good stories to tell--so from here on in, look at each episode as a gift, it’s only a matter of time before the plug is pulled.

With that said, we’re not sure what to make of the speculation that Starbuck will buy the farm. To be honest, given how completely toxic and unsympathetic Starbuck has behaved through much of Season 3, Kara Thrace’s death may end up being a mercy killing—for character and viewers alike.

In no particular order, here are some things we’d like to see on upcoming episodes of Battlestar Galactica:

--President Laura Roslin vs. The Cylon Number Six—These two characters, played respectively by Mary McDonnell and Tricia Helfer, are the only two of the entire ensemble who have not engaged in a scene together--EVER. (Baltar’s Imaginary Six has shared scenes with Roslin but everyone except the mad scientist is oblivious to her presence.)

Helfer does her job as the show’s eye candy but it’s actually been a pleasant surprise to discover that the sexpot can act. The nuance that she brings to the many versions of the same character mold—from Caprica Six to Baltar’s Imaginary Six to Season 2’s Gina—is subtle but credible.

Much of Six’s mojo comes from her precision use of her sex appeal but (we would expect) her primary weapon would be useless against Roslin. We think a gloves-come-off clash between these two strong-willed characters is long overdue.

--Athena Confronting Roslin—During the Eye of Jupiter cliffhanger, Cylon Boomer revealed to Athena that Hera, the human/Cylon hybrid child, was actually alive, and that Laura Roslin was responsible for faking the child’s death and keeping Hera with her.

At the time, Roslin knew that her course of action was morally wrong but she also felt it was the right thing to do for the security of the fleet (and the remainder of the human race). How Roslin acknowledges her actions when called to account by the child’s parents has the makings to be among the best moments of the series.

--The Return of Imaginary Baltar—During the Season 2 episode “Downloaded,” viewers received the clever shock when Caprica Six awoke from a resurrection pod to see the face of Gaius Baltar (James Callis) and for a long second, we all thought that another Cylon had been revealed until Six and the viewers realized that only she could see and hear her former lover. Sound familiar?

Watching Six being the one nagged and manipulated by someone in her head made what had become an old chestnut fresh and new, while it also reveled something new about both the Six and Baltar characters.

Yet despite ample subsequent episodes with Caprica Six, we have yet to see her confer with her own imaginary friend. There must be a reason why Baltar and Six are plagued by their own fantasy phantoms.

Imaginary Six has told Baltar a couple of times now that she is an Angel of God sent to protect and guide him. So what does that make Imaginary Baltar? The writer’s simply CAN’T leave this loose end open.

--Cylon Doral Front and Center—In this summer’s pre-Season 3 Webisodes, we saw just how good of an actor and just how insidious the character is when Doral (Matthew Bennett) played on Jammer’s (Dominic Zamprogna’s) fear and doubt to recruit him as a New Caprica Police collaborator.

While a slight man physically, Bennett can radiate menace with just a simple look. So far Doral has taken a back seat to bigger name Cylon guest stars Lucy Lawless (D’Anna) and Dean Stockwell (Brother Cavill) but when they leave, Bennett is more than capable of picking up the slack as Galactica’s main bad guy.

Bonus: Since Doral really hasn’t been used too much, developing him at this advanced point in the series will help to keep it fresh.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Living Legacies and Dark Emerald Ops

Hello fair readers,
Here is our review of the books from last week and now we are all caught up…until new books come out on Wednesday. Enjoy.

Justice Society of America #2

The Upshot from DC Comics: The new adventures of America's greatest super-team continue! After a deadly arrival at their new headquarters, the JSA must discover who's hunting down their descendants. Will the youngest member, Cyclone, be the next victim?

This was a pretty good follow up to the this title’s debut last month…whereas issue one could be described as a fastball down the middle, issue two was more of a breaking ball--you know there will be misdirection coming but it’s still a surprise when it breaks.

Here we have last issue’s cliffhanger of Mr. America’s still warm corpse literally crashing the meeting of JSA rookies, but this issue the homicide becomes something of a subplot as we watch all of the characters react to the sudden death at their door step even as writer Geoff Johns introduces Nathan “Buckeye” Haywood--grandson to the original Commander Steel and cousin to Steel II of the Detroit JLA--who we know is slated to take up the mantle of the Indestructible Man.

The meeting of Wildcat Ted Grant and Tom, the son he never knew he had, was in perfect keeping with the character. Tom’s mother, now deceased, was a one-night stand after Wildcat saved her life during a bank robbery and the resulting love child is nothing like his father--definitely not a fighter.

Yet since the developing plot has to do with a mystery villain going after and eliminating the bloodlines of past and current Justice Society members, we strongly suspect Tom Grant will be playing a role in future issues--one way or another.

Hawkman’s brief but forceful appearance was welcome and we actually approve of the splitting up of the Hawkman/Hawkgirl duo. In the JLA, Hawkgirl is her own hero, much as she was in the early issues of the last JSA title before Hawkman was reincarnated.

Meanwhile, Hawkman belongs with the JSA and under Geoff Johns--it was Johns who reinvigorated Hawkman but we always felt he left the Hawkman title too soon. Hopefully Johns can work some rehab on the winged wonder.

Our only complaint comes with the introduction of the “Fourth Reich,” the Nazi-fied team of bad guys sent to kill the Haywood family and wipeout Commander Steel’s bloodline. This bugs us…not only because the JSA are, in our opinion, WAY too over-identified with fighting Nazis and ONLY Nazis to the exclusion everything else, but by churning out a bunch of costumed baddies wearing the swastika, Johns (however inadvertently) continues pop-culture’s long-trend of belittling the EVIL that the symbol represents and the MALEVOLENCE that was perpetuated by Hitler and his ilk.

Green Lantern Corps #8

The Upshot from DC Comics: Undercover alongside teammates Von Daggle and R'amey Holl on the Dominion Homeworld, Guy Gardner grapples with the moral implications of being ordered to kill for the Corps. Plus, the squad finds itself facing off against a Dominator unlike any it's ever encountered before.

We had our doubts last issue with guest writer Keith Champagne’s first part of this three-part fill-in story arc but the second act really takes off with the three members of the Corpse--the GLC’s secret black ops team--all alone in the heart of the Dominion.

It was interesting to see Green Lantern Guy Gardner not only so far out of his element acting as a covert agent WAY behind enemy lines but also playing the order-taker rather than the order giver for a change.

For someone who is knows he works best as a battering ram and not a scalpel, Champagne makes Guy totally believable when he defers to Von Daggle’s behind the lines. The reader shares Guy’s confusion as he never quite knows what is going on--such is the way of a black op.

The Corpse is an interesting concept, both for the covert aspect of what until now has been seen as a above-board peace keeping paramilitary organization but for the outfit’s use of digestible, limited duration “power-pills” which allow to act as a living power ring for as long as the charge last.

More interesting, it’s not the easily identifiable emerald Oan energy of a power ring but a more purple Star Sapphire energy signature. A future plot point we wonder?

One last thing, Guy Gardner’s hesitance to act as a sniper/assassin has opened up a whole new level of complexity to what had been previously viewed as a one-dimensional character. We are looking forward to the return of regular writer Dave Gibbons but we’ve been championing for Gibbons to have a co-plotter or some sort of collaborator--maybe Champagne could stick around for a little while.

The art team of Patrick Gleason and Prentis Rollins is as good as ever--they really do complement each other and their style really complements the dark story line but in more than a few panels their visuals cross the line from dark to just plain opaque, making it more than a little difficult to make sense of what we were reading--at least at first glance. If it were a TV, we would be trying to adjust the “brightness” on the set--lighten up fellas…literally.

52 Week 36

The Upshot from DC Comics: The New Year begins with the deadliest day Metropolis has ever seen — and by the end of the month a villain will stand revealed, a hero will fall in the outer reaches of the galaxy…and the reveal of Supernova will deepen his mysteries even further.

Yawn. The Cosmic story line finally comes to a head. The art was crystal clear but we still don’t understand what happened nor do we much care. In that big jumbled mess, Animal Man somehow bought the farm--if we were a hard core Buddy Baker fan, we would be feeling really cheated about now.

It turns out the Question didn’t die after all…but he continues his long goodbye, even as Renee Montoya impulsively decides to drag the dying hero to the Himalayas where he first trained--perhaps one last chance at life or at least a peaceful place to die.

We did like the teaser at the end of the issue with Rip Hunter and Supernova hiding in the bottle city of Kandor in Superman’s Fortress--seemingly safe from Skeets--or so they think.

One issue we did want to bring up with two page origin of Power Girl. The good news is that after two decades of crazy made up on the fly retroactive origins, the powers that be have gone back to having Power Girl last daughter of Krypton--Krypton 2 that is.

But Mark Waid in his synopsis of PG’s powers, he lists all the standard stuff for a Kryptonian under a Yellow Sun but then he notes her vulnerability to Kryptonite. Yet in Infinite Crisis, it was established that her cousin, Kal-L, the Earth-2 Superman as immune to this universe’s Kryptonite as it didn’t come from HIS Krypton…the same should apply for his cousin Kara Zor-L/Power Girl--shouldn’t it? Can we get a ruling down here please?

Amazing Spider Girl #4

The Upshot from Marvel Comics: As Spider-Girl continues her hunt for Hobgoblin and the lethal legacy of Wilson Fisk, the former Kingpin of Crime, a vicious new player enters the fray: Mad Dog--the bounty hunter who employs the weapons of the former super-villains he’s captured.

This title continues to deliver. We all know that May Parker will eventually fully embrace her role as Spider-Girl (while else would Marvel green light a new comic) but May is not letting go of her new found social life without a fight.

As May is drawn back into costume bit by bit (each time vowing it will be the last), she is watching all of her accomplishments gained during her ‘retirement’--her high grades, her social standing, her boyfriend--slip through web-swinging fingers.

The beauty of the scene that Tom Defalco and Ron Frenz have established is that it’s familiar and new at the same time. Back in the day, we watched “Puny Parker” juggle his responsibilities at school with his web-swinging but he was the social outcast and no one cared if he was there or not. With May, she has a lot more to lose and stands poised to lose it.

We are definitely looking forward to Spider-Girl’s upcoming confrontation with The Hobgoblin.

Manhunting For New Readers While Justice Delayed Is Not Quality Denied

Hello faithful readers,
Forgive the delay again between postings--here at FanBoyWonder world headquarters we’ve been having computer problems but we hope we have resolved our technical difficulties. Without further delay, here’s our review of books from Jan. 3 with a review of Jan. 10 books forthcoming.

Manhunter #27

The Upshot from DC Comics: The conspiracy widens in Part 2 of "Unleashed!" Don't miss the biggest development yet in the case of the United States vs. Wonder Woman!

You know this is a smartly written book when the issue’s major plot twist--the mysterious re-appearance of the (supposed to be) deceased Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle--is given away right on the cover, yet it still manages to be a surprise the reveal occurs on the last page.

We’re newcomers to this book as we’ve previously noted but if writer Marc Andreyko was cranking out issues as good as #27, we’re forced to wonder why DC canceled this book to start with.

Manhunter never appears in costume during this issue, her alter ego attorney Kate Spencer carries the book with her verbal sparing in the court room. As she defends her client Wonder Woman during pre-trial for the murder of Maxwell Lord it’s fascinating to see one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe reduced to a helpless bystander in a court of law.

The art by pencilers Javiar Pina and Fernando Blanco with inks by Robin Riggs is serviceable. Crystal clear and slick but not flashy. Not every single panel is perfect but it’s exactly what a monthly book should be--good and on time.

Nightwing #128

The Upshot from DC Comics: The story of Raptor comes to an end, but the story behind him is just beginning. One villain is dead, but his body has been removed from the grave. A second villain has seemingly vanished, and a new force has emerged. But is Nightwing already too late to stop their crimes?

With this issue Marv Wolfman ends what was originally intended to be a 4-issue fill in story arc as DC sought to cauterize the bleeding from the books’ self-inflicted wounds of previous writers Bruce Jones and Devin Grayson. But his turn on the book has been extended for a year or more and we are glad.

This issue and this story arc should really be judged on two levels. The mystery that Nightwing was supposed to solve was uninteresting, as well as the villain. This story arc was really about Who is Nightwing?

It’s Dick Grayson’s inner monologue that makes this issue. He’s a man trying to figure out--who has figured out who is he is and where he’s going. It’s a more confident Nightwing that emerged from the grave last issue.

By just by showing up for work, Marv Wolfman has taken this book back from the brink of suckiness but we’re starting to see real progress here. Next, Marv needs to combine our rejuvenated hero with a worthy adversary, which this book has been lacking.

This issue marks Dan Jurgens’ final issue. No offense Dan but we’re glad to see you go. Without a doubt, you brought clear, competent art to this book…something that’s been missing for a LONG time but the veteran Superman has become too accustomed to drawing the Man of Steel as opposed to an acrobatic daredevil like Nightwing.

Justice #9

The Upshot from DC Comics: The breathtaking miniseries by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Doug Braithwaite continues with plenty of surprises! Black Adam! The Marvel Family! And the Justice League's plan to storm their adversaries' stronghold!

Captain Marvel serves as the focal point of this issue as he helps the Justice League marshal their counter-offensive against Brainiac’s forces even as he battles Black Adam and members of his own family--Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr.

While this issue is building our heroes toward the big confrontation with the bad guys, the real joy of the issue was reading Ross’ treatment, with the help of scripter Jim Krueger, of Captain Marvel.

To our mind, Ross affects the perfect balance of nostalgic Big Red Cheese and the competency of the World’s Mightiest Mortal--Captain Marvel is not only treated here with respect, but it’s a rare glimpse of this character’s never-quite realized full potential.

More is the pity that Justice occurs outside of current continuity as we finally get to see Captain Marvel done right even in the midst of radical paradigm-shifting change to Marvel Family going on currently in The Trials of Shazam.

The art is nothing short of breathtaking--the best so far in this series and in some panels we thought it measured up as good as or even superior to Kingdom Come.

THIS JUST IN--As the lovely and talented Mrs. FanBoyWonder was proof-reading our post, we flipped through Justice one last time when we noticed something we over-looked. When Green Lantern attempted to subdue a mind-controlled Captain Marvel in an emerald force-field bubble, as Marvel kicked at the bubble, why didn’t his YELLOW boots puncture the force-field?

It should have due under the old Silver Age rules in which GL’s ring was powerless against anything yellow. Is this a plot point to be followed up later or just a writer’s goof? Hmmmmmm???

52 Week 35

The Upshot from DC: The New Year begins with the deadliest day Metropolis has ever seen — and by the end of the month a villain will stand revealed, a hero will fall in the outer reaches of the galaxy…and the reveal of Supernova will deepen his mysteries even further.

So Lex Luthor depowers dozens of his “Everymen,” on New Year’s Eve--many of them while in mid-flight--just to give the finger to Supernova, whom Lex is half-convinced is the missing Superman in disguise.

Amid all the human carnage, Steel’s estranged niece Natasha, who is part of Luthor’s Infinity Inc., now finally starts to think that her uncle may have been right about Luthor all along.

The identity of Supernova has begun to intrigue us. In addition to flight and light powers, we see this issue that he teleported a whole city-blocks worth of people outside the city limits to safety. Hmmmm! A clue there somewhere. Just enough to keep our interest at least in this story line.
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