The outstanding comic book series Rat Queens is returning on March 1, 2017, according to writer/creator Kurt Wiebe. The book has been on hiatus since May 2016. Owen Gieni will be the new Rat Queens artist.
If you’re not familiar with Rat Queens, the comics tell the adventures of four very different friends that are outcasts, but have found love and acceptance in each other. The setting is swords-and-sorcery fantasy, but with a hilarious satirical edge. The swords are sharp, but the humor is even sharper. The way it pokes fun at Dungeons & Dragons and fantasy conventions is fantastic. Beyond that, the books have a lot of heart and portray four strong women. The humor and satire are Rat Queens’ obvious hooks, but the portrayal of their friendship is touching.
After an almost shockingly strong second episode, Arrow S05E03 was a mild letdown. The show wasn’t bad, but it moved things in a direction where the writers have failed before. There were too many characters and too many storylines going on. The show is best when it has a clear focus and often falls apart when it tries to do too many things at once. Certainly there were several elements introduced in Arrow S05E03 that are meant to pay off later in the season, It will be interesting to see if the writers will be able to keep all the plates spinning. Oh yeah, WWE fans also had a special treat this week. Now it’s time to wield your anti-spoiler recurve bow and get ready for 10 random thoughts on Arrow S05E03.
After a supremely successful cinematic debut, the Guardians of the Galaxy will return to the big screen next year. Slated for a May 5, 2017 release date, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 brings the lovable intergalactic rogues back together for an all-new adventure. As you can see from the trailer below, it looks like Peter Quill’s crew will be teaming up with some old friends (frenemies?) this time around. I’m super-psyched for the Guardians sequel and it’s most definitely on my must-watch list for next year. For those of you that aren’t averse to trailers, kindly check out the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 teaser trailer and let me know what you think (please!).
After two relatively weak episodes, The Flash strikes back with its strongest effort this season. A large part of why The Flash S03E03 rocked was that an outstanding character finally returned. It goes beyond that though. Most of the characters have more or less rebounded from “Flashpoint” and things are back to normal — or as normal as it ever gets for Barry Allen and his friends at STAR Labs. An excellent new villain (with one major flaw) debuted and a new hero showed up as well. Whether it was due to the first two episodes being weak or The Flash S03E03 being a genuinely good show, I was very much satisfied with this week’s outing. Now zip on your spoiler hoodie, because it’s time for nine random thoughts on The Flash S03E03 using the RPad.TV binary system!
I’m So Wild About Harry (Good): Usually I try to do these things in chronological order, but the return of Harry Wells destroys order. Early in the episode, Harry pops out of breach from Earth-Two and immediately goes about dominating the show. Going into season three, I was hoping that Flashpoint would create a third version of Harrison Wells, but after one episode, I’m thrilled that Earth-Two Harry is back. He’s funny, complex, formidably intelligent, excellent at throwing tools, and disarmingly endearing. Tom Cavanagh is fantastic at playing this character and makes the other actors he has scenes with better. Think of The Flash as the Los Angeles Clippers and Cavanagh as Chris Paul. Yeah, the Clippers are a decent team without CP3, but they’re so much better with him (until the second round of the playoffs, anyway *snicker*).
Oh yeah, Harry Wells’ angry use of “Not!” jokes completely ruled.
Barry and Iris Suck at Dating (Bad): The show kicked off with Barry and Iris having an awkward date. We’re supposed to believe that they’re true loves, no matter what multiverse they’re in. Instead, they’re romance seems forced and uncomfortable. As I’ve noted in my previous “Flash Facts” columns, I’m not a fan of bumbling Barry. Unfortunately, that’s the guy Iris was on a date with.
The Debut of Jesse Quick (Good): Harry Wells came back to Earth-One because his daughter is now a speedster. Naturally, the overprotective Harry doesn’t want Jesse to be running around as a superhero. His paternal efforts to thwart her heroic aspirations were fantastic. While TV Jesse Quick’s origin is completely different from the comics’ version, I enjoy the actress and am looking forward to the seeing her in costume. Besides, any character or storyline that keeps Harry Wells involved is an excellent thing for The Flash.
Magenta Characterization (Good): This character was a pleasant surprise. I was concerned going into the episode, since Magenta is a Wally/Flash villain and not a Barry/Flash villain. Magenta also suffers from mental illness, which is easier to write about sensitively in print and more difficult to do in a television script. My worry was that the writers would butcher the nuance and simple make her a crazy bitch. Instead, the writers and actress delivered a great character. Joey King was wonderful at showing a damaged and frightened Frankie Kane. She was also good at playing the sociopathic Magenta. Playing split personalities can be tricky and I enjoyed the job that King did with the material she was given.
Magenta Physical Acting (Bad): The one aspect of Magenta that really bothered me was King’s arm motions. It was…bad. King’s arm-magnetism-powers acting in The Flash S03E03 reminded of Sophie Turner’s wretched fingers-on-the-temple telepathy acting from X-Men: Apocalypse.
Caitlin Dazzles (Good): First off, props to Danielle Panabaker’s stylist. Her hair looked amazing in The Flash S03E03. More importantly, Caitlin Snow had some good material to work with. Her reluctant talk-her-out-of-being-a-hero speech to Jesse was awkwardly cute. When Harry tries to chide her for failing, she lays into him and tells him what’s what. It was nice to see the forceful and logical side of Caitlin Snow come out. Or is that Killer Frost’s personality creeping to the forefront….
Malfoy is Still a Dick (Good): Although he didn’t have too much to do this week, I’m happy that Tom Felton is still around and still being a dick to Barry. British people excel at being snarky.
Wally Becomes Idiotically Reckless (Bad): Wally is still being mopey, but it appears he’s getting dumber too. The kid really wants to be a superhero. After hearing how Jesse’s powers activated, he runs in front of a car to try to replicate the process. Moron. Towards the end of the The Flash S03E03, you can see the wheels in his head turning when Frankie reveals how Dr. Alchemy activated her Magenta powers. It looks like a safe bet that Wally is going to do something extraordinarily stupid in order to become a superhero. (Like, I don’t know, make a deal with Dr. Alchemy?!?) He’s lucky that Barry is there to bail his mopey ass out.
Barry and Iris Git Gud at Dating (Good): Barry was so much better during his second date with Iris. He was more confident and had a rational (yet heartfelt) explanation for why the first date bombed. Grant Gustin is great at being confident and sensitive at the same time, and it really showed in this scene. This is his wheelhouse. Hopefully he stays in it for the remainder of the The Flash season three. Bumbling Barry only works in alternate timelines. Long live Confident-Yet-Vulnerable Barry!
Big surprise — Arrow was better than Flash this week! Color me shocked (which, in my head, is a bright combination of red and yellow). Arrow S05E02 was full of action, heart, and intrigue. When the writers skillfully weave these elements together, the show is at its best. While I doubt that Arrow S05E02 will be remembered as one of the show’s all-time great episodes, it was much better than the vast majority of season four. More importantly, it’s a glimmer of hope that Arrow is pointed in the right direction (get it?!?). Now don your spoiler cowl, as it’s time for 10 random thoughts on the latest episode of The Bipolar Adventures of Oliver Queen using the scientifically sound RPad.TV binary system.
Oliver Gets the Band Back Together (Good): After being convinced by Felicity and Diggle to put a new team together, Oliver starts to assemble the new gang in Arrow S05E02. The expected candidates, as seen in last week’s episode, are Curtis Holt (who will eventually be Mr. Terrific), Rene Ramirez (Wild Dog), and Evelyn Sharp (former Black Canary impersonator and future Artemis). Initially, Ollie is a complete dick to the recruits. He trains them harshly and refuses to divulge his secret identity. After a pep talk from Felicity (more on that later), he realizes that he has to earn their trust. Arrow reveals that he’s Oliver Queen and starts using his real voice with the recruits (instead of his crap Batman voice). While some of this plot was predictable, it’s an important step forward for this season. I’m excited to see how the new team shapes up, particularly Curtis, as I’m a mark for Mr. Terrific (fair play!).
The Ragman Cometh (Good): One surprise in Arrow S05E02 was the introduction of Ragman. In the wrong hands, this character would seem goofy on TV. The director and special effects artists did a good job of making his powers look cool. The writers did a nice job of weaving Ragman’s origin into Havenrock and Genesis Day from season four. As a fan of DC’s occult comics like Justice League Dark and John Constantine: Hellblazer, I’m pleased that Ragman is being handled well (so far). I hope he makes a nice addition to Team Arrow v2.
Diggle’s Latvian Adventures (Good): A few of my friends had an issue with John Diggle’s plot in Arrow S05E02, but I think it mirrored Oliver’s activities nicely. Dig is betrayed by a superior officer and set up when a shady arms deal falls apart. Prior to getting betrayed, Diggle was lecturing a new soldier on how trust is a core component of the military. Dig’s trust storyline was a nice contrast to Ollie’s trust storyline.
From Russia, With Line (Good): I’m enjoying the Russian flashback sequences so far (especially compared to season four’s crap flashbacks). As I mentioned last week, Anatoli Knyazev was one of the best parts of the season premiere. While the charming Bratva gangster didn’t have much to work with this week, Oliver Queen’s initiation into the Bratva was fun to watch. The whole “Get on the Line” exercise from Russia was used on the new recruits in Star City. I was shocked, perhaps naively, when the Bratva baddies killed all the other Bratva prospectives. The grimness of it all reminded me of the best parts of season one and two.
Arrow Throws a Fight (Good): Initially, I was annoyed when Tobias Church was going toe-to-toe with Ollie in Arrow S05E02. While he’s large and menacing, he’s just a glorified street thug. Arrow has gone up against Slade Wilson, Ra’s Al Ghul, and Damien Darhk. Church should be a warmup exercise for him. Later he revealed that he was throwing the fight in order to test Ragman’s morals and gain his trust. It was a cunning ruse that pleasantly surprised me. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Oliver can do more than punch, kick, and shoot arrows.
Friend-Zone Felicity (Good): For most of Arrow S05E02, Felicity Smoak was dazzling. She was quirky, funny, intelligent, and beautiful. With Diggle taking a timeout from the gang, she even filled in as the voice of reason. Her speech about the old gang sticking together because they believed in Oliver, not Green Arrow, helped give this episode a lot of heart. This was a sterling example of why Felicity is the most captivating (pretend) nerd on television.
Bad Liar Felicity (Bad): You’d think being around crafty people and facing off against devious villains would have helped Felicity become better at deception. When she lied to her new policeman boyfriend about why she needed a sample of Ragman’s rags analyzed, she became a bumbling mess. I understand that the writers are trying to play up her cuteness, but this felt like Season One Felicity. I’m confident that the lady has learned a trick or two after being part of Team Arrow for four years.
Drunk Quentin Lance (Bad): The world continues to sh*t on Quentin Lance. Still succumbing to his alcoholism, Lance missed a key security assignment that allowed Ragman to waltz into a building undetected. He was chatting with Thea about working for Mayor Queen, but decided to give up. He’s in a dark place and doesn’t see anything to live for. While I enjoyed how well Paul Blackthorne portrayed Lance as a drunk at the end of his rope, it was all rather depressing.
Thea Queen, Chance Giver (Good): Thankfully, Thea was there to save the day. The chief of staff formerly known as Speedy offered Lance a job as deputy mayor. While Ollie doesn’t believe that it’s a good idea to give a functioning alcoholic a position of responsibility, Thea believes that Lance can be better than he is now. She wants to be the one that gives Lance something to stay sober for and help him rise up. Her “we can do better that” speech was genuinely touching. Also, Willa Holland is pretty and has a sexy voice.
Prometheus Unbound (Good): The dark archer from last week was revealed to be Prometheus. This isn’t comics Prometheus — the flippant rogue that singlehandedly took down the Justice League. The made-for-TV version is obviously different. I’m intrigued, but a little scared. The character from the comics was incredibly cool — one of those villains that you couldn’t help rooting for. TV Prometheus has presence and certainly knowns how to make an entrance, but beyond that…who knows?!? Here’s an off-the-wall theory that almost certainly won’t pan out — wouldn’t it be cool if the Flash’s irritating timeline manipulation brought back an angry version of Tommy Merlyn as Prometheus?
After a mixed season debut, Barry Allen’s adventures continue in The Flash S03E02. Unfortunately, the show has gone from mixed to worse. Hopefully it’s just a bumpy start and the show will go back to being The Flash we loved during the excellent first season. Two episodes in, things aren’t looking great. It hasn’t been as bad as Arrow season four, but it’s a long ways off from its former glory (so far). Now kindly switch on your spoiler shields and get ready for 12 random thoughts on The Flash S03E02.
Felicity Smoak, Plot Device (Good): After the requisite “previously on The Flash” summary, Barry runs to the Arrow Cave to chat with the Felicity. I’m a complete mark for her nerdy hotness, so I love that she was in The Flash S03E02. Unfortunately, she’s just there as a plot device so that Barry can explain the mistakes he made while trying to fix Flashpoint. After some back and forth cuts between then and now, Felicity comes up with a brilliant plan of, “Fix this.” Yeah, her appearance was mostly meaningless…but it’s Felicity and I’m in love with her. (For the record, I refuse to believe that Emily Bett Rickards isn’t a sexy nerd IRL even though I really know she’s not.)
Barry Has Created Earth No-Fun (Bad): In trying to fix Flashpoint, Barry has come back to a world that’s sorta kinda like the one he came from. The chief differences (to his life, anyway) are with Cisco, Joe, and Iris. Let’s start with Mr. Ramon. After being Billionaire Dick Cisco in Flashpoint, we get Morose and Moribund Cisco Ramon. He’s not the fun, clever, and witty boy genius we’ve enjoyed for two seasons. Instead, he’s hung up on his brother being killed by a drunk driver and Barry’s refusal to go back in time to save him.
While Cisco’s angst is understandable, the friction between Papa and Daughter West is less so. Similar to the original world, Joe lied to Iris about her mother still being alive. In this timeline, she’s still angry about it. She doesn’t talk to Joe unless it’s necessary and refuses to go to Chateau West.
Also, Diggle has a son instead of a daughter.
Malfoy is a Dick in Every Universe (Good): Tom Felton, best known for playing Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, joins the fun as Julian Albert in The Flash S03E02. He’s a CSI that specializes in metahuman activity. He also hates Barry and treats him like crap. At the end of the episode, he confesses that it’s because he doesn’t trust Barry and knows there’s something off about him. The great thing about this is that Felton gets to play a dick, which he’s wonderful at portraying. It also shows that not everyone in Central City PD is a complete idiot. You’d think a building full of detectives would figure out that something is amiss with their coworker and, I don’t know, maybe start to connect the dots between him and The Flash. Perhaps this is why British people are perceived to be smarter than Americans….
Dr. Alchemy Lost His Doctorate (Bad): Like WWE’s Randy Orton, Edward Clariss hears voices in his head. They council him. They understand. They talk to him. The voices lead Clariss to a cult that hangs out in a sewer (I guess hygiene is a non-issue for these guys). The cult is lead by a cat named Alchemy (who has…interesting taste in headwear). He offers to restore Clariss’ life and powers as the Rival. Naturally, Clariss is all for it.
There are two things I didn’t like about Arrowverse Alchemy. First, he wasn’t Dr. Alchemy. Plain “Alchemy” is a crappy name for a villain. Who are his contemporaries? Chemistry, Astrology, Metallurgy, and Zoology? Secondly, television Alchemy doesn’t have the enjoyable campiness and cool powers of his comic-book counterpart. Instead, he’s a guy that wears a silly mask, talks in a goofy voice, and zaps people with a rock. As a fan of comic Flash’s rogues gallery, I was disappointed in the version of Alchemy that was introduced in The Flash S03E02.
Barry Has a Stupid Dinner Idea (Bad): In trying to fix the social dysfunction plaguing Team Flash, Barry gets everyone together for dinner. His hope is that the issues Cisco has with him, as well as the issues between Joe and Iris, can be fixed with Grandma Esther’s noodles at Chez West. This, of course, is an idiotic idea. It has been illustrated throughout the history of television that cure-all dinners never ever work. Why Barry thought this was a good idea in The Flash S03E02 is beyond me. Seriously, dude. Go watch a sitcom and learn something. The CW has several mediocre ones to choose from.
Wally Reverts (Bad): After being impressed with Wally in the season debut, the character regressed in The Flash S03E02. Instead of the spunky and sarcastic Wally that I had hopes for, the dull and wooden Wally returned. Hopefully this gets fixed when (if?) he becomes Kid Flash in the “fixed” timeline.
The “Can I Talk to You?” Technique Lives! (Bad): One of the most annoying techniques that’s amazingly overused in both Arrow and The Flash is when a character says, “Can I talk to you for a second?” It’s such a lazy way to force a transition. What it really means is, “Hey, can we get everyone else off camera? We need to have a scene with just us.” It’s fine to use as a crutch every now and then, but the Arrowverse writers abuse this technique.
Jay Garrick Returns! (Good): The Silver Age Flash returns to the show and brings Barry back to a Central City diner circa 1998. Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” is playing on the radio and Dawson’s Creek is on TV. Jay gives Barry a lesson on the repercussions of time travel through the clever (not really) use of a coffee mug. Goofy lecture aside, it was nice to see Jay Garrick come back in The Flash S03E02. He’s a great character with a fantastic costume. Besides, in the comics, the Rival was originally one of Jay’s villain’s, not Barry’s.
Pep Talk Iris Fixes Everything (Bad): After Barry confesses to his timeline meddling, the rest of Team Flash talks it out at STAR Labs. Iris gives a “family” speech that she stole from Vin Diesel’s Fast & Furious playbook. On the plus side, I like that Iris continued to be a useful character in The Flash S03E02, instead of serving as attractive scenery. Unfortunately, her pep talk was contrived. I didn’t believe for a second that a short heartfelt speech was enough to fix a year of relationship damage.
The effects of the speech seemed especially silly when Cisco goes from being so angry at Barry that he barely talks to him to running out to save him from powerful metahumans. That’s one of the quickest 180s from “I hate you!” to “I’ll die for you!” that I’ve ever seen.
Alchemy is Awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Good): On the plus side, the Iris West one-woman pep rally snapped Cisco out of his funk. He’s clearly back on the path to goofiness and naming bad guys. And thus, Dr. Alchemy was born. It’s good to have you back, Cisco!
Caitlin is Getting Cold (Good): On the surface, the lovable and dependable Caitlin Snow seemed unchanged in The Flash S03E02. At the end of the episode, her hand appeared to be radiating cold powers. I’m torn about this. I enjoy earnest Caitlin. She’s completely adorable. I enjoyed a small dose of angsty Earth Two Killer Frost Caitlin last season. I hope that Caitlin’s personality isn’t changed by the Killer Frost powers. It would be even worse if the writers decided to do a “split personality” thing with her. Hold me, Felicity. I’m scared.
Where the Hell is Harrison Wells?!? (Bad): The biggest disappointment with The Flash season three is that Tom Cavanagh hasn’t been in the first two episodes. He was great as Evil Fake Harrison Wells in season one. He crushed it as Sardonic Tool-Throwing Actual Harry Wells in season two. I was greatly looking forward to a third version of Harrison Wells and am disappointed that Cavanagh hasn’t been in the mix. If The Flash S03E02 viewing audience were like a live WWE audience, I’d start a “We Want Harry!!!” chant. Say it with me. We want Harry!!! *clap* *clap* *clap*clap*clap*
After a terribly inconsistent fourth season (which many fans felt was the worst since season one), Arrow is back. Last year, Ollie found true love and an expanded super team. By the end of season four, he lost it all. Arrow S05E01 kicks off an attempt at going back to basics. He’s mayor of Star City by day and a lone vigilante by night. Sexy nerd Felicity still serves as his operation manager, but has Ollie in the friend zone. This season’s flashback sequences take place in Russia. Now that you’ve been brought up to speed, turn on your spoiler shields. It’s time for some Arrow Points on Arrow S05E01, using the RPad.TV binary system.
Arrow is Back to Full A-Hole Mode (Good): After becoming a nice, well-adjusted vigilante in season four, Oliver Queen is back to being a dick in Arrow S05E01. He’s argumentative and brooding. Four seasons of evolution and positive change have been killed in one episode. While some might feel that reverting Arrow back to a wannabe Batman is a bad thing, I prefer him this way. As he gets happier, Ollie also becomes less interesting. Besides, the more Arrow plays up the gloom and doom, the better it contrasts with The Flash.
The best part about A-Hole Arrow is that we’re spared from Dramatic Arrow. This show is at its worst when the character gets dramatic and emotional. Grant Gustin pulls it off with aplomb in The Flash. When Stephen Amell tries any kind of acting that doesn’t involve punching, kicking, or being a dick, the scenes are unintentionally funny. While I’m certain that Dramatic Arrow will pop up a few times during season five, I hope his appearances are infrequent.
Oliver Queen Sucks as Mayor (Bad): Brooding Arrow also means disinterested Mayor Oliver Queen. He’s late for meetings and doesn’t seem to care too much about governing. For someone that has killed people for “failing this city,” he’s failing it himself.
Arrow Keeps Whining About the Past (Bad): Spoilers have already shown that Arrow gets a new team of super buddies this season. Felicity even has them picked out on her computer. Before the new Arrowettes are assembled, Ollie has to whine about needing a team. He desperately wants John Diggle to return and for his sister to resume her crime-fighting life as Speedy. Thankfully, he gets the message that those things aren’t happening by the end of Arrow S05E01.
Quentin Lance is Drunk Again (Good): The former drunk has turned into a current drunk after losing his daughter, job, and girlfriend. He’s back on the wagon, but the show does’t really convey the severity of alcoholism. Instead, he seems to rebound pretty quickly after a pep talk centered around a Russian proverb. While I would have liked to have seen more of Broken Matt Hardy Quentin Lance, his character is more interesting when the world sh*ts on him.
Why is Tobias Church a Threat? (Bad): While I understand that the producers wanted a “back to basics” season, the bad guy in Arrow S05E01 seems totally flaccid. Arrow has taken down a legion of super soldiers fueled by Miraclo Mirakuru. He’s taken down an army of assassins lead by a man with centuries of combat training. Last season, he brought down a most charming sociopath with mystical powers. Tobias Church, while charismatic and menacing, appears to be nothing more than a gangster. In TV and movies, the threats normally escalate. Fighting a gangster seems too easy for Arrow at this stage of his career. Tobias Church is a mid-boss, at best. Hopefully there’s more to him than meets the eye or there’s a much bigger villain coming.
Life-Threatening Flashback Scenes Don’t Work (Bad): One of the cutaways had Ollie tied to a chair while a Russian gangster held a gun to his forehead. This was stupid. We obviously know that he made it of the chair alive. The cutaway was supposed to be dramatic, but since the outcome was never in question, it completely lacked drama.
Star City Didn’t Love Black Canary (Bad): For a hero that stopped hundreds of criminals and helped save the city a number of times, Black Canary didn’t get much love. There were like 30 people at her memorial service. At least five of the attendants were part of Mayor Ollie’s security detail. I guess the citizens of Star City are a bunch of ingrates (or the show didn’t have the budget for hundreds of extras). Also, Laurel’s statue looked more like Stargirl than Black Canary.
Staying on the Black Canary tip, one of Laurel’s dying wishes was for Ollie to make sure there would always be a Black Canary. She’s basically saying, “I’m dying because I wanted to dress up and play superhero. Please make sure another young woman has the opportunity to die dressing up and playing superhero.” Perhaps that was the morphine speaking….
Willa Holland Has Hot Legs (Good): Willa Holland has grown up to become a sexy women. Yeah, I’m being a stereotypical male, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her legs. Yum.
Arrow is Cool With Killing Again (Bad): Continuing Arrow’s path of regression, dude just straight up killed a guy to protect his secret identity in Arrow S05E01. After promising his best friend, Tommy Merlyn, that he wouldn’t kill again after season one, Arrow is back to his murderous ways. Maybe killing Damien Darhk at the end of season four has him back on the wagon. Ollie and Quentin should probably go to an AA meeting together to discuss their respective relapses.
Anatoli is the Most Interesting Person on the Show (Bad): Aside from Willa Holland’s legs, the best part of Arrow S05E01 was Anatoli Knyazev. Some of you will remember him as the wise-cracking Russian fellow that was trapped with Ollie on Lian Yu. Others will recognize the name as KGBeast from the comics. Whatever the case, it turns out that he’s responsible for Ollie’s connection to the Bratva. As funny as he was as a castaway on Oliver’s Island, he’s even funnier as a full-on Russian mobster. The bad news is that a supporting character from a flashback sequence was the second-best part of the show. That’s a problem.
There’s a New Dark Archer in Town (Good): The show ends with a archer dressed in black killing a cop. This is potentially interesting. Hopefully it’s someone from the League of Assassins or another menacing group. The show needs a bigger threat than a well organized gangster. In addition to adding some mystery, the new Dark Archer offers hope for bigger and better things to come.
The Flash has zoomed back to The CW after a thrilling first season and a very good (but uneven) second season. With lots of changes set up after season two, the show’s writers and directors have a blank canvas to paint on. If the first episode of The Flash season three is any indication, the entire CW Arrowverse will be changed forever. Now kindly turn on your spoiler shields, so that I can share Flash Facts (opinions, really) on The Flash S03E01.
When we last saw the Scarlet Speedster, he mucked around with Earth-One’s timeline in order to save his parents. This season will borrow from the “Flashpoint” storyline from the comics. The Flash S03E01 kicks off in a world where both of Barry Allen’s parents are alive and he’s not the Flash. He’s been living in this world for three months. Now that you have the setup, it’s time for some Flash Facts using the Speedforce-tested RPad.TV binary system.
Bumbling Barry is…Not So Good (Bad): After two years as a superhero and saving Central City from countless threats, Barry Allen has become…bumbling and incompetent. He struggles to talk to his true love (on Earth-One) Iris West and stumbles as the Flash. How the hell did this happen?!? Perhaps three months in Pleasantville negated the confidence that two years of superheroics built. Whatever the case may be, I can’t wait to get confident and capable Barry back. Yeah, Flash is supposed to be more vulnerable than Arrow, but he’s also supposed to be, you know, good.
The CG Looks Better Than Ever (Good): I loved the CG from the speed battles between the good speedsters and the Rival in The Flash S3E01. The high-speed combat looked thrilling and better than what I expect from television (especially CW television). Hopefully the CG budget was spent evenly and the special effects are consistent episode to episode.
Keiynan Lonsdale Surprised (Good): As a total mark for the comics version of Wally West, I wasn’t big on season two’s TV Wally West. At his best, Keiynan Lonsdale was wooden and boring. At his worst, he made Channing Tatum look like Daniel Day Lewis. Lonsdale got off to a great start in Flash S3E01. As the Kid Flash version of Wally, he was charmingly cocky and surprisingly funny. He killed the delivery when he responded to Caitlin’s question of whether she was kidnapped or not. While I didn’t care for him in season two, I’m rooting for this version of Wally West to remain throughout season three.
How Did Barry Not Know Wally Was Kid Flash? (Bad): I have no idea why Barry had to unmask Kid Flash to figure out he was Wally. Barry is a CSI by trade. He has more than two years of experience using super speed (and the heightened senses that come with it). He knows Wally. He’s lived the guy. It made no sense for him to be surprised by the reveal.
Billionaire Cisco is Okay (Good…ish): I was entertained by arrogant and condescending Cisco Ramon in Flash S03E01. It was a nice change of pace for a character that’s normally so lovable. That said, Cisco is the heart of the show. I need goofy, sarcastic Cisco back ASAP. Hopefully the temporary fix to Flashpoint brings back the Cisco we all know and love.
Kiddie Eye Doctor Caitlin is Adorable (Good): Caitlin has always been the most saccharine character on The Flash. The Flashpoint version of Caitlin turned her goofy goodness up to 11. She was silly, but enjoyable. This pediatric ophthalmologist version of Caitilin was fun for an episode. As with Cisco, I hope the real deal is back next week (even though I secretly have a crush on Flashpoint Caitlin).
Drunken Joe West is Disturbing (Good): The Flashpoint version of Joe West is angry and drunk. He’s not the strong and loving father figure we’ve seen for the last two seasons. This was, perhaps, the most disturbing part of Flash S03E01. I’m used to Joe being the backbone for the entire Flash family. Several other characters draw strength from him. Seeing him as a bitter drunk was off-putting. Kudos to the writers and the excellent Jesse L. Martin for pulling this off so effectively.
Iris West Has a Purpose! (Good): For much of season two, Iris served as…attractive background decor. She served no purpose for many episodes. She’d give a silly inspirational speech every now and again, but more often than not she was there to look beautiful. In Flash S03E01, she was integral to the plot and gave a silly inspirational speech. I was so used to her being useless that I forgot that she could be an effective key character.
Prepare For Wacky Rogues (Good): The end of Flash S03E01 set up the coming of Flash villain Dr. Alchemy. I absolutely loved this. Flash has always had a colorfully bizarre rogues gallery and Dr. Alchemy is as weird as any of his contemporaries. Rumor has it that Mirror Master (one of my personal favorites) will be in season three as well. I’m looking forward to the Arrowverse versions of both of these longtime Flash characters.
Where Does Reverse Flash Go to the Bathroom? (Bad): I didn’t see a toilet in his makeshift prison cell, did you?
Suicide Squad is Warner Bros.’ latest attempt at breathing life into its DC Comics cinematic universe. The movie has been getting a lot of attention, and most of it isn’t the kind the studio wants. Several friends and colleagues that I respect hated the movie. I didn’t think it was that bad. It certainly wasn’t a great superhero movie, but I’d watch it again on cable. Compared to this year’s superhero movies, I found it much better than Batman v Superman (aka Murderous Batman vs. Mopey-Ass Superman), but not nearly as good as Deadpool or Captain America: Civil War.
Having said that, I don’t feel like writing a proper movie review. Instead, I’m going to rate the Suicide Squad team members (as well as the puppet master and villains) individually. Let’s do this!
[Activate your spoiler shields, please.]
Deadshot (Will Smith) F: For me, Will Smith’s portrayal of Deadshot was the worst part of Suicide Squad. I’m a big fan of the character — both from the Suicide Squad and the Secret Six books. Smith’s performance was incredibly lazy and uninspired. He acted like Will Smith instead of Floyd Lawton. The guy that played Deadshot on Arrow did a much better job with the character. It’s amazing that a huge Hollywood star was considerably outperformed by a television actor on a CW show — a frickin’ CW show!
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) B+: Robbie is unbelievably sexy and gets an extra half-grade for that. Heterosexual male bias aside, she was one of the best parts of Suicide Squad. She did a fine job at portraying Harley as equal parts keenly intelligent and mentally unstable. While the accent was similar to the one she used in The Wolf of Wall Street, it totally worked for the character. I appreciated how she turned the severity of the accent up and down situationally throughout the movie. The biggest problem I had with her character had nothing to do with the actress, but how she was written and directed. Super Harley — the one that deftly dispatched supernatural beings with her fists and a baseball bat — threw me for a loop. When the hell did Harley become psychotic Wonder Woman?!?
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) A: Suicide Squad’s government puppet master was outstanding. Davis completely owned this role, serving up a Waller that was razor sharp, manipulative, and terrifying. She left you with a feeling of, “You do not want to f*ck with this woman.” From the comfort of the other side of the screen, it was fun enjoying her cold and calculating portrayal. Waller is one of my favorite characters in the DCU and I was thrilled that David brought her to life so perfectly.
The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) B-: Again, my heterosexual maleness requires me to give an extra half-grade boost to Miss Delevingne for being astonishingly beautiful. She also gets another half-grade for coming from a wealthy family. In my dreams, Cara Delevingne makes me a kept man. In Suicide Squad, she was a little bit silly. She played the victim, June Moon, well enough. As the Enchantress, the director had her doing some ridiculous things. While I was mostly enjoying watching her gyrate like a stripper as she was casting spells, there was a point where I thought, “Come on man. You’re just exploiting her hotness.” Still, she’s gorgeous, she’s rich, and she has incredible eyebrows; it’s tough for me to criticize anything she does. #truth
The Joker (Jared Leto) B+: Several of my friends have bashed Leto’s performance as the Joker, but I loved it. He gave the Clown Prince of Crime a modern and edgy feel. I found Leto’s Joker much scarier and more realistic than Ledger’s Joker. I’d love to see more of him in a proper Batman movie.
Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) C: I’m actually not sure what to do with this grade. I am of the opinion that Jai Courtney sucks and has the best management team in Hollywood. I’m baffled that he gets so many big roles with such little talent. My friend Solomon pointed out that Captain Boomerang sucks in the comics (many writers have portrayed Boomer as a joke among DC villains). From that perspective, hiring an actor that sucks to play a villain that sucks could be considered inspired casting. However, I’m certain that the studio didn’t think that deeply. Courtney was surprisingly acceptable in this limited role, which is probably his best “acting” to date.
Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) B: I’ve never seen this actor before, but left the movie impressed by his performance. He did a good job of playing the straight-laced protagonist surrounded by insane people. His role might of been the trickiest of all, because Suicide Squad is all about letting the villains shine. He had his moments when appropriate, but otherwise let the baddies do their thing.
On a side note, Kinnaman kind of looks like WWE Edge. Whenever Flag popped up onscreen I thought, “You think you know me.”
Katana (Karen Fukuhara) D+: As a Katana fan, this performance was disappointing. She added nothing to Suicide Squad. Take out all of her scenes and the movie is pretty much the same. You’re not given a reason to care about Katana, so when she had her big crying scene, it felt empty. She added nothing of consequence to the movie, which is a shame because Tatsu is a cool character. Similar to movie Deadshot, movie Katana is inferior to CW Arrow Katana.
Diablo (Jay Hernandez) C+: I liked this character up until the end of the movie. He was fun as the super-powerful but reluctant villain enlisted to do good. I’m not sure how, but hours (in movie time) of doing nothing and whining caused him to think of the other Suicide Squad members as family. Uh…okay. Expectedly, he got all sentimental and sacrificial, but his face turn lacked weight.
Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) C-: The character looked really cool, so he gets an extra half-grade on behalf of the makeup team. However, he was almost as useless as Katana. He was instrumental in a scene that required swimming…and that’s about it.
Slipknot (Adam Beach) Incomplete: I love that the movie played on Slipknot’s mishap with the implants from the comics (but in a much deadlier way), with Captain Boomerang as the impetus. In the immortal words of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, “Bwahahahahahaha!!!”
Captain America: Civil War is the best Avengers movie Marvel Studios has made. That was an easy conclusion to arrive to. It’s quite possibly the best or, at the very least, one of the three best movies from the studio. After seeing the movie last night, that seemed like a reasonable opinion, but I wanted to sleep on it in order to give my movierection (a medical term) a chance to settle down. After reflecting a bit on Captain America: Civil War, I can totally understand the argument that it’s the best Marvel Studios film to date and also accept the opinion that it’s not. Let’s keep the examination going, with the RPadTV binary not-a-review of Captain America: Civil War.
[Turn on your spoiler shields!]
It’s An Avengers Movie, Not a Cap Movie (Good): Although he’s the titular character in Captain America: Civil War, this is very much an ensemble movie. Sure, Cap and Iron Man are at the forefront, but many characters get a chance to shine. Some help drive the plot forward (The Winter Soldier, Black Panther), while others are comedic scene stealers (Ant-Man, Spider-Man). Whatever the case may be, this is definitely an Avengers film…and the best one ever, at that.
Scarlet Witch Still Sucks (Bad): I’ve been high on Elizabeth Olsen for years, but was puzzled by her portrayal of the Scarlet Witch in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Once you get past her hotness, I’m not sure what she does for the movie. Speaking with a bad accent and doing funny things with her fingers doesn’t add much to the film. That said, these are very minor criticisms of Captain America: Civil War. That’s how good the movie is — you have to actively look for flaws and it’s difficult to find anything significant.
Tony Stark is a Dick (Good): Similar to his heel turn in the Civil War comics, Iron Man is pretty much a dick in the movie. His emotions are manipulated (perhaps too easily), leading to irrational thoughts and actions. I suppose your political leanings come into play on whether you’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan, but to me, Tony is clearly the villain in Captain America: Civil War.
Wonderfully Diverse Comedy (Good): I loved the humor in this movie. It’s frequent and diverse, without getting in the way of a serious conflict. Ant-Man’s bits were wonderful. Spider-Man will win the hearts of millions. I even enjoyed the deadpan rapport between Falcon and Winter Soldier. For me, this is what separates Captain America: Civil War from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Many cite the latter as Marvel Studios’ best, but I prefer Civil War. I won’t argue with anyone that thinks The Winter Soldier is Better, because that’s an understandable opinion, but I’ll watch Civil War exponentially more in the future, simply because the comedy balances the drama. Also, the jokes about Marisa Tomei’s age and beauty were excellent…though I’m still not sure the world is ready for Hot Aunt May.
Lack of Anger Management (Bad): While I understand that they needed to be Cap’s antagonists, it was somewhat disappointing to see Iron Man and Black Panther suffer from ridiculous mad-ons. The former is supposed to be one of the smartest people in the world, while the latter is supposed to be one of the noblest Avengers. For most of the movie, both gave into their anger and went full Sith. Much of the conflict would have been avoided if everyone — those two in particular — calmed down and applied some rational thought to the situation. Of course, the movie would have been much shorter….
The New Guys (Good): Although he was irrationally angry for much of the film, Black Panther was pretty frickin’ cool. His fight scenes were dynamic and his costume looked great. Ant-Man (new in The Avengers movie sense) was pretty awesome on several levels. I mentioned his comedic bits before, but I love the way the movies portray his shrinking powers and it was brilliant to see him as Giant Man for a bit. Spider-Man lived up to his comic-book adjectives — amazing and spectacular. Spidey’s CG was fantastic and it was fun having an innocent character around for a heavy conflict.
Second Comings (Good): Winter Soldier and Falcon have grown into their characters nicely. I’m a huge mark for the comics version of Winter Soldier and Bucky Cap. Sebastian Stan was very good in that role. Falcon, who’s pretty lame in the comics, was great in the movie. Anthony Mackie did an admirable job as the Avenger’s birdman. His new tech made him look cool and he brought a confidence to the role that makes him much more than Captain America’s token African-American friend. That said, I will always see him as Papa Doc from 8-Mile. It would have been awesome if the Civil War conflict came down to a freestyle rap battle between Falcon and Vision.
Wanton Violence (Good): In previous Avengers movies, the good guys spent most of their time beating up aliens and robots. You never really felt the weight of the violence. Seeing Captain America and Iron Man bloodied, bruised, and battered hit much closer to home. The violence was borderline shocking, especially because former friends and allies were truly taking it to each other.
Best Action Ever (Good): Marvel Studios has really upped the ante on its action sequences. Whether it’s visceral melee combat, thrilling chase scenes, or fanboy-squeal inducing super-power sequences, Captain America: Civil War has raised the bar for Marvel action. I enjoyed every bit of action in the movie and will certainly pay to see it again.
Masterful Pacing (Good): I was shocked to see that the runtime of Captain America: Civil War is 146 minutes. The directors and writers did an incredible job of weaving action and comedy into a dramatic conflict, allowing the film to move at a zippy pace. While I loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier, that movie feels like it’s 136 minutes.
Bottom Line: As I was leaving the movie, I said to my excellent friend Paul, “It’s hard to think of anything wrong with that movie.” While I understand that abandoning logic was necessary for the hero vs. hero conflict, the worst thing I can say about Captain America: Civil War is that Scarlet Witch’s accent and finger motions were silly. For me, it’s definitely in my top three Marvel Studios films, along with Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There’s a good chance that it’ll end up being my favorite (I need to see it a few more times). Its combination of amazing action, excellent comedy, and a weighty conflict completely worked for me.