Category Archives: Articles

Look Out Kids! Fallout 4 is Coming in November!

So E3 is happening on June 15th and Bethesda has announced that Fallout 4 is releasing on November 15th November 10th, 2015! It is the first time that the game will be available on the Xbox One and PS4 and it will also be on the PC. The game doesn’t just look like a smoother version of Fallout 3 or New Vegas but it looks like the upgrade to this Gen will be totally worth it. Environments are smoother, the faces are more realistic, and everything is more detailed. I mean the Nuke-a-Cola bottles look like nuclear missiles now, how effing cool is that?

For those who have heard me rave about the games on the podcast, you can tell that I’m stoked about everything that has to do with this franchise. Its one of those games that you completely lose yourself in not only the story but also the world, characters, imagery, and gameplay. Take a look at the video below and we will keep you up to date with news!

Don’t Discount the Discount – Watch Dogs from Ubisoft

Why did I call this article what I did? Well, the game is about $15 USD and this is just because it has dropped in price, not because it isn’t an excellent game. My plan is to review the inexpensive gems that are more than worth the money.

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Ubisoft is a game company that tends to release staples in any gamer’s collection. Their most popular franchises include the Rainbow SIX series and the Assassin’s Creed games. Watch Dogs was promoted as “Assassin’s Creed meets the future” and I really feel like they delivered what they promised.

NOTE: I played this on the Xbox One console.

Gameplay
This game is one of those that you can’t really nail it down to only one genre. There is a tech, stealth, driving, shooting, and small puzzles. All of them work well but I o have one gripe: the driving. It is very loose and takes some time to adjust to the handling of the vehicles. Sometimes in a game, there is at least one vehicle that is the best to use but in this game, they’re all pretty terrible. I think a lot of the problem is that I own GTA V and Forza Motorsport 5 for the X-box One. Both of them have excellent car mechanics so having gone from them to this game is kinda unfair. That being said, everything else has been finely tuned to create a great experience. The game doesn’t exactly start of as a shooter but the further in to the story you get, the more puzzle-like obstacles and gunning you end up doing. Chicago is not only the backdrop for the game but it is also your weapon. You can control stop lights, car carriers, billboards….pretty much anything that can be connected to by your phone. Using these elements can help take out people chasing you or a security guard walking past a breaker box can be taken out with a well-timed electrical explosion.

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Graphics and Sound
The game is busy with visuals but not to the point where it may seem overwhelming. You just get a feel that you are running around the bustling streets of Chicago. And there is no shortage of content. You end up stealing someone’s information and the next phone that you hack, you might be reading their text messages or hearing their phone conversations. I have been playing this for a while now and I haven’t come across info that has been redundant or repetitive. The images are clean and look like you’re are playing on a next-gem system. The signals coming from your phones to the Wi-Fi systems are a little pixelated but I thin that’s so it doesn’t look like Spider-man’s webbing is shooting from the top of your phone.

Audio has a lot going on too with all of the city sounds. I typically play with 5.1 surround sound headphones and there is so much going on. There is also an mp3 player that you can play while driving or exploring the city with music that you download from the NPCs (non-player characters) in the game. Like most games, the use of the surround sound is excellent so as you move, the sound moves with you.

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My Take
Watch Dogs is a fun game with a lot of extra things to do aside form the campaign. The story is a little predictable but the characters that you encounter are pretty cool. The game mechanics are fun with you running around, hacking people and cameras on the fly, and using the city as a weapon. You can pick this up for around $20 or less and it is totally worth it.

Jim’s Movie Reviews: Mad Max Fury Road

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Don’t call it a re-boot.  It’s not.  Mad Max: Fury Road  can be considered the fourth in the series (at least, as far as I’m concerned) of George Miller movies featuring Max, a reluctant hero in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland. As in two of the previous entries, Max (Tom Hardy) finds himself facing down the forces of chaos in an effort to help a group attempting to better their plight.  This time, Max lends his efforts to Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a warrior in her own right leading a group of refugee concubines of a mad cult leader to her childhood home across the wasteland.

Rather than return to the origin of the character, we get some simple callbacks to Max’s past as he flashes back to the murder of loved ones.  Again, we find Max with little left to hope for himself, but shepherding the hopes of those naive or innocent enough to yet cling to it. The interplay between Max and Furiosa is a new thing for the series, in that they fully share the weight of it all, each having seen a life before the endless waste and abject inhumanity.

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Fury Road , in my opinion, realizes Miller’s vision more fully than any previous entry in the franchise.  To put it simply, the film takes everything previous and goes to 11 on it.  Packed with incredible views from cinematographer John Seale, sewn together with a driving, punishing rhythm by editor Margaret Sixel, and so very Miller in its colorful originality, the first half hour had me abandoning all notions of a summer action film better than this one in 2015.  It’s metal.  If The Road Warrior was to be likened to classic, blues-y Danzig, then Fury Road is early 90’s Pantera or Judas Priest.

With the kind of eyes-bleeding visuals and breakneck action this film puts out, it’d have been easy to degenerate into an album cover caricature of itself.  However, the sparse script, excellent physical acting by all involved, and compelling story arcs for each character serve to tie it down, making the acts of heroism and sacrifice stand out amidst the lunacy of it all. The punches hit that much harder, the fires burn that much hotter, and the sacrifices of the protagonists are that much more meaningful for having the depth of character Miller brings to these figures both from the page and from those portraying them.  Charlize hammers it home, bringing audiences the most compelling agency in an action heroine since Alien‘s Ripley.  And (sigh of relief) Hardy makes a truly excellent Max.  Given only sparse dialogue, he conveys reams in every expression.

If I had a complaint (and I certainly don’t have enough to form a coherent complaint about), I’d say the film felt a little top-heavy in the first act…but it had the guts to break convention there, and it certainly made sense in context of the hero clawing his way out of a crucible alongside others on the road to redemption.

Go see it in the theater.  There’s two movies already out this summer I’d place ahead of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and this is one of them (go see Ex Machina as well).  In my opinion, Mad Max: Fury Road operates on a level that Avengers simply can’t, or doesn’t.

This is high-minded sci-fi set to metal, and it’ll rock your tits off.

9.5 out of 10, one of my all-time faves.

 

My take AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON…a mini review

When it comes to my style of review, I’m pretty much a spoiler-free writer because I want people to get out there and see things for themselves. Don’t worry, as much as I’d like to, I’m not going to ruin a movie for people who haven’t seen it yet. I will however discuss how the movies leading up to this have had some meaning or impact.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (AOU) didn’t just focus on the movies in phase 2, every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is relevant, even in Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. You aren’t expected to know every little thing about each character but having that knowledge does give you a leg up.

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Let me say that this movie completely surpassed my expectations. Typically sequels never hold up to the original but I think that AOU is in the minority. There are a lot of references and little knows to things in Marvel comics that AOU does great in getting out there. There is action, suspense, love, comic relief, but never done in an unbelievable way. The new characters were well developed in the time period they have. The 3D was amazing and, in my opinion, very necessary. I saw it in both the Cinemark XD and IMAX 3D…hands down, IMAX was the superior version. The 3D was a little more natural and on point. Audio wise, I think they were about equal but some of the bass felt a stronger in the IMAX. I’m thinking this is because the IMAX has speakers and subs that are broken in.

James Spader did a tremendous job as Ultron. He has a cold cynicism that flows within the character. When I first heard that they were looking to add some of Spader’s mannerisms into the movements of the machine, I wasn’t sure this could be pulled off. Man, was I ever wrong. Spader sometimes does these little head flicks when he gets intense and they make perfect sense for a character learning to fit in. My standout character is definitely Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch. She brought the character to life from page to screen. You can see her passion in trying not to disappoint the fans and no one can be mad at her take on Wanda. She is possibly my favorite character from the film.

Many times in comic book movie you’ll find that the director or creative team involved may say they have comic book knowledge but that could be the extent of seeing it on a spinner rack as a kid. Joss Whedon is not one of those kids. He took the team and the audience on a thrill ride that was perfectly executed and ,like I said, it is dripping with comic book jabs. He and the folks at Marvel Studios have created a universe that is not only true to form but feels very lived in with the films and TV series. Marvel Studios movies work something like a game of tetherball. Now…stay with me here… They hit the ball as hard as possible and that tether line getting shorter and shorter. The pole is like the Avengers movies. All that spinning was planned to make it to the end result of each phase. Make sense? I hope so because this is the way I see it.

The movie ran at 2 hours and 21 mins. I could’ve have easily done another 2 hours with all of the awesomeness that was thrown at me. Being a huge comic book nerd and following these characters for years, I can easily say that this is a movie that you shouldn’t miss. Get up….right now…and get your ass to the theater!

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A Little Intel On Daredevil Ratings

According to a report at Variety , Daredevil may have garnered over 4.4 million viewers in the first 11 days after its premiere…and that’s only analyzing viewers on tablets and phones.  The actual numbers, which would include viewers that watched the show on actual televisions, via gaming consoles, smart tv’s, DVD and bluray players, etc., may be much, much higher.  If the figures are true, then Daredevil ranks highest among Netflix originals for overall viewership in the opening salvo of release, as well as highest as a per cent of overall subscriber base. daredevil-netflix-costume

Streaming giant Netflix has always declined to publish ratings of its original content…After all, if there are no advertisers, why should they risk misinterpretation of the figures by shareholders and the media?  Nevertheless, the estimated viewership, extrapolated by San Diego-based Luth Research’s analysis of the viewing habits of 2500 Netflix subscribers nation-wide, give us some indication of the power of the show.  4.4 million viewers would be a great week for national broadcaster CW’s Arrow, for example, and the viewers of Arrow don’t represent $10 in monthly fees a piece (give or take).  I don’t want to guess as to the numbers that watched on an actual tv, but considering that no Playstations, X-boxes, AppleTV’s, Roku’s, Chromecasts, etc. are represented in those figures, nor any smart tv’s or set-tops, I have a mind to say it ranks with just about any series drama out there.  That means good things with regard to series budgets for Marvel/Netflix ventures going forward, and that should pay dividends for viewers in terms of quality AND quantity.

Jim’s Movie Reviews: Ex Machina

Ex Machina is the directorial debut of acclaimed oft-sci-fi screenwriter Alex Garland (Sunshine,  28 Days Later).  Fans will know to expect more from a Garland script than your typical sci-fi popcorn flick, and here, he delivers in spades both as writer and visual storyteller.  This movie blends high-minded science fiction,  psychological thrills, and social commentary in a uniquely entertaining way.

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Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is a software engineer who has won a contest hosted by Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a reclusive billionaire and developer of the world’s foremost search engine.  Caleb is supposed to spend several days at Nathan’s mountain hideaway, but the contest is a ruse:  Its true purpose surrounds the character of Ava, played by Alicia Vikander.  Ava is a robot hosting a new form of AI, and Caleb is invited to interact with her in a sort of Turing test of Nathan’s devising.  As Caleb interviews Ava, he begins to question Nathan’s true motives, his own role in the story, and matters of conscience as his feelings for the machine evolve from deep curiosity into empathy.

Ex Machina invokes thought in the way only deep science fiction can, and invites comparison to the stories of Asimov and Clarke. Moving beyond the obvious, “Does it have a soul?” question is it’s most brilliant departure from things you’ve seen before: This is a story of the soul in jeopardy, of contrasting viewpoints, and the nature of creator and creation.  It’s Genesis in the age of the smart phone.

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The film manages a novel’s worth of story while true to its cinematic nature.  Interesting visual contrasts inform the viewer on several levels:  A well-appointed (if concrete) underground bunker in the middle of a lush forest contrasts nature with man’s creation, wherein the amenities of the rich contrast with its utility as testing ground and, perhaps, prison.  Liquor bottles cast around the otherwise immaculate rooms, at times, hint at the damaged state of Nathan’s soul, and the impregnable glass walls throughout divide characters while hinting at points of contact.  Ava’s form itself, so richly animated by Alicia, is an interesting contrast between idealized human features and vulgar mechanism (or is that backward?)

Though the movie is set almost entirely inside Nathan’s little fortress,  cinematographer Rob Hardy tells a story with every surface, every nuance and detail of the place, constructing multiple frames-within-frames across the glass, but never so overtly that it removes you from the spectacle.  Subtle arrangements in the blocking and backdrops serve to clue the audience in, but without a heavy hand.  A simple scene in a kitchen, for example, is stacked with innuendo imparted by choices in viewing angle and background detail. Even the controlled lighting is administered to, its shifts communicating claustrophobia or intimacy, or subtly  heralding the arrival of evil.

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Domhnall Gleeson masters a subtle balance throughout: his character’s deep curiosity as he glimpses the frontiers Ava represents, and his willingness to pitch himself into the abyss of more immediate concerns.  As Nathan, Oscar Isaac beguiles and menaces and every subtle shade between.  However, the absolute standout here is Ms. Vikander’s performance as the humanoid Ava.  She masters the smooth, graceful movements and vocal control of the robot, and imparts subtle, yet meaningful and controlled shifts in facial expression. She lets you know very early on that the new creation indeed has a soul.  She also, without tipping her cards as a human would, hints at an infant’s curiosity and an indescribable yearning for experience.  download

SO, if you’re looking for something a bit deeper than your typical summer fare, and wish to leave the theater both thrilled and contemplative, this movie is for you.

A+, go see it now.

 

A look back at Batman HUSH

This week, I went back and read one of my favorite batman stories ever: HUSH. It is written by Jeph Loeb and the art is by Jim Lee. Loeb has written a number of amazing stories like BATMAN: DARK VICTORY and LONG HALLOWEEN. HUSH is Lee’s first work with DC and it was definitely a success. You can pick up the trades or the individual issues are Batman #608-619 in 2002-2003.

It starts out with a prologue by Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne/Batman’s butler that reads like an origin story. It quickly moves to the main story where Batman is trying to rescue a young kid who has been kidnapped by Killer Croc. When he finally subdues Croc, the money is stolen by Catwoman but she isn’t working alone.

While Batman is in pursuit, his bat rope is cut mid-air and he falls into crime alley. His body is badly injured and skull is fractured. He taps his fingers and through morse code, Batman suggests Alfred gets in tough with Bruce’s childhood friend and renowned surgeon Tommy Elliot to save his life.

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That’s about as deep into the story as I should go because I could easily sit here and go over every single detail but I don’t want to ruin it for people who have not read it before. HUSH is one of the most complex stories with a hefty cast of characters from Batman/Bruce’s past. Loeb explored the long history that the Batman universe has to offer and it is packed with “wow” moments in every issue. That being said, you don’t need to be a Batman junkie like me to follow the story. I’m not saying that it spoon-feeds everything to you but there isn’t an assumption that you are well versed in the Bat. Loeb makes sure to explain the intricacies without derailing the story and I dig that.

The art is…just..wow. I have been a fan of Jim Lee since he hit the scene in Marvel’s X-men books and I was hooked. I even own the X-men series trading cards they released from the popular book. When I heard that he was going to do a story arc of Batman, I thought my head was going to explode. He puts so his much detail into his art and it does what good comic should do: bring the images to life. It isn’t just his Batman that I’m a fan of but almost all of his other characters as well. Of course being a Batman addict, I’m a big fan of his arch nemesis: The Joker. Lee’s Joker is as distorted as the character’s mind with a twisted face and pointy attributes.

So if you haven’t figured it out, I highly recommend getting out there and picking this up. It has superb wiring with excellent development for characters both the known and the obscure. Like I said, the artwork is detailed, sharp, clean and engaging. Lee’s Batman is now one of the fan favorite’s in both the costume and, specifically, the emblem. I can promise that this book will not disappoint. I have read HUSH countless times and I know I’ll read it again and again.

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Star Wars Battlefront 3 has a trailer and release date!

This week, the Star Wars celebration is in full effect and with that, they have released game footage from one of my favorite video game series ever, Battlefront. It is a game where you choose a side from the Star Wars universe and battle in the famous fight scenes from the movies or the expanded universe. The trailer shows us that they are definitely going back to Hoth and Endor. It hits retailers on 11/17/15 and will be available for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC in both a regular & Deluxe edition.

The Deluxe Edition includes:
-Han Solo’s Blaster (instant access)
-Ion Detonator (instant access)
-MPL Ion Torpedo (instant access)
-Ion Shock (exclusive emote)
-Victory (exclusive emote)

So get out there and pre-order your copy, you won’t regret it!

Some Things That Are Wrong With Arrow

My co-hosts and I haven’t made any bones about our feelings on Arrow‘s most recent season:  It’s a notch or two down in quality.   No matter how high they ratchet the action, tie in related comics properties, or hype the romantic pairing of the week,  it all seems built on quicksand.  The ratings bear me out on this:  Currently, Arrow is rocking half the audience of its heyday, and is beaten soundly every week by the CW’s other tights-and-capes effort Flash.

The reasons for this, I fear, are mired in the show’s foundation: I’Il bet many of them are in the series bible, or were pitched at network execs early in production.

Listed below are the chief reasons the show is losing my attention.  Although they are separate aspects, they are connected at common threads throughout:

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1.  Ollie Isn’t Likable

It’s tough to judge series lead actor Stephen Amell on his performance as Oliver Queen, when he’s clearly directed to maintain intensity at all times.  I bet his every line in the script is in italics.  I bet the director routinely scolds him for turning up the corners of his mouth, even a little. Put simply, somewhere between the writing and direction, there is a mandate that Ollie not be allowed lingering moments of joviality, affection, sadness, sincerity, kindness…you know, the kind of emotional bearing that wins friends and influences viewers.  And don’t cite the occasional 30-second speech about his feelings he gives every other episode, between melee attacks:  Narration is the cheapest means in cinema to tell a story.  We’re to believe Ollie loves the women in his life because he says so…like a robot, on his way out the door.  We’re to believe Ollie feels hurt, afraid, angry, nonplussed, etc. because he says so…like a robot, on his way out the door.  I’m amazed how little it occurs to the writers to have these sorts of emotions flow freely from conversations, arguments, etc., instead opting again and again for pre-melee statements and speeches.

Ollie is surrounded by a supporting cast purported to be his friends…but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.  Can you?  His little odyssey got Laurel’s sister killed and alienated her from her father…why’s she still around? Felicity spends her nights wearing tight dresses to the Arrow cave, but invariably ends up alone, bathing in the light of an LCD while Ollie orders up this or that digital deus ex machina; Why is she there?  Is there a particular reason Roy feels inspired by Ollie’s crusade, enough to don red leather and brave the militaristic villainy of Starling City?  There may be all the reasoning in the world, but without giving Ollie some charisma, none of these relationships feel natural.  Come to think of it, why should I care about Ollie?

2.  Modeling Arrow After The Movie It Wants To Be

The problem here, I think, is in modeling the show after cinematic takes featuring similar characters. The “action movie every week” model mandates Ollie define his relationships in curt statements uttered while he straps his quiver on.  Further than that, the push toward melee action makes every subsequent effort at dramatic tension less and less convincing.  Although the writers have been successful, after a fashion, at roping nearly every threat into the hero’s origin or personal mileau, these conflicts never carry the weight they should: The personal stakes are alluded to, but their effects are all but ignored.  Because of the lack of emotional range allowed the main character, it just doesn’t grab.

3.  CW Pairing Of The Week

If the show-runners spend half their time thinking about how they can make Arrow more like Batman Begins, then a good part of the remainder is spent playing musical chairs with the supporting characters’ relationship status.  These approaches are wholly at odds with one another:  Attempting a Nolan-esque tone for Arrow is admirable, in my opinion, but a lot of that tone is subverted by the sort of “will they won’t they” romantic tension and shifting relationships that is a cornerstone of the network’s offerings.

Take Laurel’s ever-changing relationship dynamic, for example:  Laurel mad at Ollie/Laurel supports Ollie, Laurel vs. drugs/Laurel masked hero, Laurel lies to her Dad/ Laurel loves her dad/Laurel the DA working against her Dad on Ollie’s behalf….and that’s just one supporting character!  The Arrow/Canary relationship is, imho, one of the best pairings in comics….here, you’d need pushpins and yarn just to explain Ollie’s relationship to Laurel.  As the central figure, Ollie’s own palette is decidedly more convoluted: Ollie will/won’t Laurel, Ollie will/won’t Felicity, Ollie’s working with Detective Lance but protecting Canary’s identity, etc. constantly changing in dynamic, yet never managing freedom from the tepid, muddy tones these relationships become mired in.  Speedy is just a train wreck at this point: The writers have contradicted themselves on her motivations way too many times for her character to seem anything but a means to a narrative end.  I can hear her voice now:  “You lied to me, Roy/Ollie, so I hate you! But it was to protect me, so I love you again! I’m hanging out with the dad I never knew who’s a psychopathic mass murderer, because it seems like a good way to get back at you or avenge my mom or something! But now I hate him because he lied to me, and I’m going to sell him out to the League of Assassins…”

4.  Ollie Isn’t A Hero

This is the most important aspect, I feel, in which the Arrow has ‘failed this city’. In its attempts to capture the tone of Nolan’s Batman films, the Arrow creators missed the mark on one very important aspect of character:  Through most of the first season, Ollie was portrayed as a vengeance-fueled nemesis who checked his enemies off the list, Punisher-style.  The show was well on its way through the first season before series bible changes were made and the opening narrative was amended with a vague stricture against killing.

I’m sure the show-runners were going for a darker tone, a more “mature” theme to entice the ever-important young adult male viewership.  I’m sure many would defend the “willing to kill” idea as a stylistic choice, citing how this kind of psychotic behavior and emotional deconstruction of a character can be complex, even fascinating, to explore in series television.  While I agree to that possibility, I don’t think the writers either fully understood or evaluated how this would impact their long-term goals for the character.

The effects of this decision weren’t just stylistic.  Besides alienating many fans of the comics character (who no doubt represent only a tiny fraction of the tv viewership), Ollie racking up (see what I did there?) a body count that would make Rambo blush set relationships on which the show depends on a foundation of quicksand.

Think about it from a writer’s perspective, in terms of the early planning for the character: You’re telling the story of a vigilante who lives in a fair-sized city in the modern era.     Your desire is to surround him with the supporting cast necessary for that CW soap-opera aspect.  You accept that audiences will lend you a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, especially when your hero is cloaked in some form of “super” costume.  Maybe they’ll allow that the hero shows up at the crime scene without being noticed by the several hundred smart-phone laden persons he had to drive past… while in costume…on his green motorbike.  Maybe they’ll accept that a hood is a great way to conceal one’s identity from an interested population.

Of course you anticipate your hero running into the police from time to time.  If you were planning such a character for series television, wouldn’t you carefully define that relationship early on?  No doubt they are the most likely source of allies and/or rivals for your character, or at least a source of information on crime.  Is your character in constant threat of being arrested and tried? Maybe there’s a friend on the force or at city hall who provides tips to your hero.  Maybe there’s a detective nemesis searching for your hero’s identity.  Arrow has or had all of these things, and relies on these relationships frequently.  Think of how the decision to make Ollie a murderer affected his relationship with the police.  Is there any positive aspect?  In any case, wouldn’t the conceit that the police turn a blind eye (as illustrated in The Dark Knight) to the hero’s nightly exploits because he’s a ‘good guy’ be helpful? Conversely, if you’re planning on illustrating the hero as a perpetual fugitive, and are on board with him murdering people in a quest for justice, then you’d better pare down the close relationships with those in and around the police, maybe?  Like maybe Ollie shouldn’t foster a working relationship with Laurel as Canary?  Like maybe Detective Lance should be a little less ready to embrace the vigilante as a force for justice?  Batman meeting Jim Gordon on a rooftop makes sense because Batman doesn’t kill people

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Even though he turned a new leaf in later seasons, Ollie-as-murderer still strains credibility in terms of his relationships. Whenever purportedly rational characters, characters who know and/or care about him, speak concerning these deeds, they seem delusional.  Witness Felicity, when confronted by Ray over her alliance with murderer Ollie: “You don’t know him…you don’t know what he’s been through,” she says, sounding a lot like a 14-year-old explaining her love of early 2 Live Crew to her horrified father. Witness  Detective Lance: No doubt it was the alcohol that inspired him to knowingly turn a blind eye to a mass murderer for a year before coming to his senses, right?  How de-humanizing is it whenever Roy and Diggle talk Ollie down when he expresses even the least bit of remorse: “You did what you had to,” and whatnot. Only he didn’t have to, did he? Ollie himself, in CW-sized moments of remorse,  talks about bearing “the burden”, as if the consequence owed him for killing all those people is having a 1000-yard stare and being unable to articulate emotions besides intensity.

Judging by the hood and the way he acts around women, maybe his idea of an appropriate consequence is celibate monasticism.

Ollie is harried and pressured into just about every move he makes as the Arrow, instead of exposing his sense of justice, love of his friends and family, or any other traits that elevate the hero from the vigilante.  Yes, there are those times where protection of loved ones supposedly motivates him, but the show does not invest enough in establishing those relationships for that aspect to ring true.  Further, the emotionally stunted way in which Ollie addresses the danger he places those loved ones in by allowing their association with him doesn’t speak highly of his character.  At least the Punisher knows enough to keep innocents at arm’s length.

Bringing it back to the comparison:  Batman is a character that is, in my opinion, not principally motivated by a need for vengeance, regardless of any themes and mantras he voices about being ‘the night’ and whatnot.  Vengeance is a trait not in keeping with his discipline of mind and body, his commitment to the mission, and his forthright expectation of cooperation from other heroes and guardians of justice.  As a character, I think the best portrayals of Bruce Wayne depict him as a boy robbed of justice, of order, and of safety in a way that his sheltered life couldn’t keep at bay. Therefore, he seeks to create justice, order, and safety for others via use of the Bat as a symbol to inspire fear in criminals. The same discipline that allows  him to do so without succumbing to fear himself denies him the self-indulgence that vengeance represents.

What if the same had been true for the Arrow?  What if, in gaining skill and overcoming the threat the island posed, he forged peace and justice for himself instead of anger?  In my opinion, this would have been the better outcome, and the one more likely to yield interesting plots for seasons to come. Although Ollie’s “evolution” from murder has yielded much in terms of conflict, we don’t need every aspect of character and relationship defined by conflict. Contrast is a necessary part of defining a character, too! If you can’t convey love, hope, or joy, then you can’t do justice to loss, shame, anger, etc.

In short, I think vengeful Ollie was a serious mistake, and I’m glad to see in recent episodes the writers finally address the consequences in a seemingly serious way.  However, the damage has been done, and a full exploration of realistic consequences would involve many long years with Ollie in a prison cell.  Best now to tell a quick story about it, then move along.  I’m hoping the writers find a way to close the book on that aspect of character AND its consequences.   I hope they give Ollie and the supporting cast some time to strengthen emotional  ties and humanize the main character.  Let the conflicts come from his enemies exclusively for a while, and give viewers a hero they can empathize with.

 

 

Madonna’s intro and first thoughts

Hello everyone, Madonna here, I just wanted to give everyone a quick introduction, share a few thoughts, and ask an Agents of Shield question I have.

 

Firstly I want to thank Ken for getting me involved in the podcast of the damned. I really enjoyed talking comics and all things nerd/geek with him. I haven’t had the privilege of meeting Michael or James yet, but next time I trek back to Philly I’m going to try to get together with everyone and maybe even record an episode with them. I’ve been reading comics since the mid 90s. My father got me into them, he let me read his classic x-men collection, and I never looked back. I’m currently reading mostly Marvel, Image, and IDW comics. I used to read more DC, but I’m getting further away from them.

I want to talk about 2 comics real quickly. The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw is one of the best comics I’ve read in years. If you haven’t seen it or know anything about it I’ll give a quick overview. It’s a fantasy series staring anthropomorphic animals, who live in a world with magic. Magic starts failing and a conclave of wizards get together to bring the Champion, the one who brought magic into the world, back from the past to try to strengthen magic in the current time. This series has excellent writing and world building. Issue 5 just came out this week, it’s a great read and you should pick it up.

The other comic I want to talk about is the most recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series from IDW. SPOILER ALERT: Donatello “dies” at the end. I wont believe he’s dead until I see a funeral, dead body (they show him but its not confirmed he’s dead), and it goes for 2 or more years without him coming back. Most likely they’ll put his brain into Metalhead’s body. I just wanted to congratulate and praise IDW for not revealing this months ahead of the time. Anymore previews just ruins big reveals to sell comics and not pumping this “death” to sell comics really speaks highly of IDW and the trust they have in their writers. They know they have a good story and they let that speak for itself.

While listening to this week’s podcast the guys talked about Agents of Shield. They made some great points and I had a few thoughts and questions I wanted to get out there. First of all I see that SHIELD (Phil Coulson’s team) and The Real Shield (TRS, Edward James Olmos’s team) as the set up for the end of Avengers 2 and the start of Captain America: Civil War. SHIELD is going to be the Anti-registration, and TRS is going to obviously be Pro-registration. Like the guys were talking about TRS is set up. They had a base, red shirts, money, and a feeling of legitimacy. If you show the average person both teams TRS looks like what you’d expect a covert team to look like. SHIELD is underground. Coulson’s team is scrambling, they only have a few agents and support staff, plus as the guys said, 2 of their main field agents are TRS spies. Looking at the fighting between Fitz and Simmons, this is just the beginning of the infighting that’s about to start. Simmons is going to leave SHIELD. She’s clearly freaked out by powers, doing everything she can to prevent Skye (can we call her Quake yet?) from manifesting her ability. I loved Fitz finally calling Simmons out. Simmons has been a pain in the ass since season 2 started and I’m looking forward to seeing Fitz grow once Simmons goes to TRS.

One of the biggest questions I have is, is the blind teleporter actually Reader from the comics and if so does he work for the Capo? Is Agents of Shield setting up 2 inhuman groups? Agents of Shield has had a symmetry to it since it started, do we think that they are setting up Reader and the Capo to be going around, gathering Inhumans, building their army, while Black Bolt and Medusa are quietly sitting in the background with the Royals waiting for a big reveal?

 

Thank you for reading my randomness. If you haven’t yet, check out last weeks podcast, the guys did a great job. I’ll be writing more for the site, I’m going to start a few days a week and build up from there.