Castle Season 7 Review

  • Series Title: Castle
  • Season: 7
  • Episodes:  23
  • Discs:  5
  • Network:  ABC (US)
  • Cast:  Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Seamus Dever, Jon Huertas, Molly C. Quinn, Susan Sullivan
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD

Season 7 of Castle picks up from where Season 6 left off, with Kate in her wedding dress looking in horror at Castle’s crashed car in flames. Yet another of Kate’s wedding dresses is ruined by water, mud, and smoke, but she, Ryan and Esposito realize that Castle escaped the car and was kidnapped. The 12th precinct crew enlists the help of the FBI and other agencies to find Richard Castle, but all they find is evidence that he intentionally walked away from his life. Kate, Alexis, and Martha Rodgers (his mother) refuse to believe it, even as the other agencies drop the case. After two months, Rick is found in a small fishing boat (what everyone on the show insists on calling a “dingy”) suffering from exposure and with no memory of the last two months. The investigation into what happened to Castle doesn’t turn up any leads, and in the end, Kate is happy to have him back.

Castle travels to Montreal on a lead to find out what happened to him during his disappearance. He discovers videos from himself to Kate, Alexis, and his mother, and a man who tells him that he was made to forget because he said he didn’t want to remember. The man gives Rick a message, and Rick drops it. The season also drops the mystery.

Kate and Rick are married in a small, sunset ceremony with family only (just Alexis, Martha, and Kate’s father). Kate wears a flowing white pantsuit rather than a dress (after having two dresses destroyed, she probably thought they were bad luck for her). After the wedding, they gather together with friends from the 12th and let them know they are now married. When a recent murder leads to a poisoning at a dude ranch in Arizona, Rick and Kate combine business with pleasure, investigating the murder and staying on for a honeymoon. During the rest of the season, Castle introduces Kate as “his wife”, and Kate slowly becomes used to the idea that she is really married to him. The rest of the season also is more “typical Castle“.

After resolving the cliff-hanger from the previous season, getting Kate and Rick married, sending them on a honeymoon, and having them return to New York, the season settles into typical Castle-style mysteries. The stories, though for the most part set in New York City, cover a variety of settings, people, and places. At one point, Castle gets in trouble with 1PP due to a story involving mobsters (it’s basically West Side Story without singing) when the guilty party is murdered in police custody, Castle is partially blamed due to his friendship with one of the mobsters (a friendship that led to the case being solved). For the next few episodes, Castle works as a PI while Kate continues her job as an NYC police detective. However, when Dr. Kelly Nieman and the Triple X killer show up again, in the mid-season two-parter, solving the case ultimately means Castle is welcomed back as a consultant.

The back half of season is even better, as the series returns to its roots, of Kate and Rick solving crimes together, and enjoying it. The rest of the characters: Kevin Ryan, Javier Esposito, Capt. Gates, Dr. Lanie Parish, Alexis, and Martha, all get a bit more to do in the second half of the season. All the actors also seem more comfortable. Again, the stories are set in different locales, which keeps the season from getting too repetitive.

Overall, though season 7 of Castle is definitely showing its age as a long-running TV series, it’s still fun, and I enjoyed it. I really liked seeing Kate Beckett and Richard Castle finally married. In their first case together after the ceremony, as he approaches the body, says, “It’s like we’re Nick and Nora Charles,” which of course he would – referring to Dashiell Hammett’s married detectives. Kate responds with, “Hart to Hart” and then “Turner and Hooch” referring to an earlier joke in a previous season where she had brought up that movie and said Castle reminds her of Hooch (the dog). And this season of the show has that lightness of touch that made the Nick and Nora Charles films (aka “The Thin Man” series) films fun. Season 7 is enjoyable and fun. Recommended.

Read my review of Season 6 of Castle.

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Book Review – Doctor Who: The Anchronauts

  • Title: The Anachronauts
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Discs: 2 CDs
  • Author: Simon Guerrier
  • Director: Ken Bentley
  • Characters: Sara Kingdom, Steven Taylor, First Doctor
  • Cast: Jean Marsh, Peter Purves
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/25/2018

**Spoiler Alert** The Anachronauts is a two-disc story in the Big Finish Companion Chronicles line. It features the characters of the First Doctor, Steven, and Sara Kingdom and takes place during “The Daleks Master Plan” aired episode. The Doctor, Sara and Steven are in the TARDIS when there is a collision with another vehicle. The TARDIS crash lands on a desert island and meets the crew of the other ship – which has been completely destroyed in the crash. This other ship was an experimental time ship. The TARDIS is nowhere to be seen. The new crew and the Doctor’s crew join together, although the time pilots don’t entirely trust the Doctor and company. They trek through the jungle, in the rain, find a cave, and locate the TARDIS food machine – sitting by itself in the jungle. Sara and Steven are convinced the TARDIS broke apart in the crash. The two groups stay in the cave overnight.

During their stay, however, they are attacked by what can only be described as a Banshee – a wailing figure with long, white hair. The Doctor calls this figure a “Time Sprite” but says it’s a myth, a fairy tale, something that does not exist.

The next morning the Doctor and Steven head out to find the TARDIS. Sara stays behind. The Doctor leads Steven straight to the time pilot’s ship, which he wants to investigate – where they run into the “Time Sprite” again. They return to the cave, only to find Sara missing. Steven confronts the time pilots and gets shot.

Meanwhile, Sara and the female leader of the Time Pilots climb a cliff to get a better view. The Time Pilots leader takes readings to try to determine where they are, then sets a homing beacon. Sara gets hurt climbing back down and Steven gets shot confronting the Time Pilots.

In part 2, after a bit of a review, Sara and the leader of the Time Pilots return to their ship for medical supplies for Steven. When they get back – Steven is fine, it’s as if he was never shot. Sara falls asleep and wakes feeling better than ever, her broken arm healed.

The Doctor tells everyone the Island was an illusion, a dream – and they all wake on the floor of the TARDIS. But the leader of the Time Pilots attacks – trying to pilot the TARDIS and eventually firing a gun – at Steven.

Sara and Steven wake up in the dark and fog in a city devastated by war – and on the run, pursued by armed police, they quickly find shelter. They are in East Berlin in 1966. They hide, and run, but are eventually picked up by the police for having no papers. They are interrogated but can’t say anything – Germans and Russians in 1966 aren’t going to believe they are time travelers. They are jailed but escape. They are captured again. Sara tells Steven they will betray each other, betray the Doctor, just to get the torture to stop. So Steven decides to get ahead of the game and tell the Stasi he and Sara wish to defect. To back up his claim, he hands over a piece of paper with basic scientific information from his own (future) time period.

Sara and Steven are taken by car to a house in the suburbs and told to wait. Sara, meanwhile, every time she and Steven are jailed, is freaked out by hearing a creature and claims to see it outside the house. Steven tells her she’s imagining it. When the Stasi come around, asking questions and offering the two a house and a weekly allowance – Steven suddenly becomes belligerent. He refuses to answer questions. Sara is perplexed.

The two are separated, and when Steven return to Sara, he apologizes and tells her it’s not real – this whole scenario is fake, like the one on the island. And, he tells her – she’s also not real, part of the illusion. Sara screams but fades away. The Doctor, what Sara had seen as a mysterious creature, pulls Steven out of the illusion. They rescue Sara from her dream, which was quite the happy one.

In the TARDIS console room, the Doctor explains they were in cells in the TARDIS – continuing to heal from the collision, and that the time pilots are still in cells. He pilots the TARDIS to the Cobalt Moon, long after all the cobalt is mined, and drops the time pilots off. There is a beautiful pink sea and sky, and a nearby city – the pilots will be fine. The Doctor, Sara, and Steven return to confront the Daleks.

Peter Purves (Steven) and Jean Marsh (Sara) take turns narrating each of the four parts of this adventure, but also play their own characters during the sections that the other is narrating. And Peter also plays the First Doctor. So, this story – with music and sound effects as well, is closer to a full-cast audio drama than the typical, performed, audiobook style of the Companion Chronicles. This is also a good story – plenty of twists and turns, with excellent performances by Peter Purves and Jean Marsh.

Recommended.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com.

Click this link to order The Anachronauts on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Book Review – Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 3 Bizarro Reborn

  • Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 3: Bizarro Reborn
  • Author: Scott Lobdell
  • Artist: Dexter Soy, Tyler Kirkham, Joe Bennett, Sean Parsons, Sergio Sandoval, Juan Albarran, Veronica Gandini, Michael Atiyeh, Arif Prianto, Blond, Taylor Esposito
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Red Hood (Jason Todd), Artemis (of the Amazons), Bizarro (Superman’s clone)
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/16/2018

Picking up from where the last volume left off, with Bizarro dying – Red Hood (Jason Todd) and Artemis decide they are willing to try anything in an attempt to save Bizarro – so they take him to Lex Luther. Not only does Luthor save Bizarro but the cure causes Bizarro to become a genius intellect. We eventually learn that not only did Luthor use artificial Kryptonite to cure Bizarro – but Bizarro took some of it and is using it to keep himself fit and to increase his intellect. This reminded me of the original The Outer Limits story, “The Sixth Finger”.

Once he is cured, Bizarro becomes the strategic head of the Outlaws, something Jason and Artemis don’t actually mind, at all. They are at times surprised, such as when Bizarro reveals his secret headquarters above Gotham, or his teleport device (for lack of a better term), but neither Jason or Artemis are great planners, so “smart Bizarro” actually adds to their team. And he doesn’t really seem to have a hidden agenda, so all is going well.

The rest of the book pairs the Outlaws with other groups. Amanda Waller gets the Outlaws hauled in on false charges so she can have them sent to Belle Reve prison. Once there, she immediately sends them out on a mission with the Suicide Squad. The mission confirms Bizarro’s new gifts – and is a rousing success.

Batwoman and the rest of the Batfamily show up for one story in this collection, largely discovering Bizarro’s invisible HQ above Gotham. Since it’s largely a slug-fest, and only sets up the info about the new HQ, the only question I had was why Kate (Kane aka Batwoman) didn’t know that Jason was working with Bruce Wayne’s blessing. Jason has been working undercover to break up Gotham’s gangs (such as Black Mask’s gang) since Issue One of this series. But Batwoman, Batwing, etc. act as if Red Hood really was a criminal. Jason is still staying true to the general Bat vow to not kill – something Kate herself actually breaks, so what’s the deal?

Jason and company also face off against Queen Bee, who is defeated by Bizarro. And Artemis meets Creeper, but he quickly leaves when he fails to join the Outlaws. They face off against The Beast (formerly KGBeast, now a free agent), but that also doesn’t really go anywhere in terms of plot.

Finally, this collection includes the Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #1, at the end of the book. I actually loved the story – a circus blows into town, and Jason, Artemis, Bizarro, and special guest, Dick Grayson, investigate undercover. It’s a sweet story – from Jason admitting he had once seen Dick perform in the circus, to Bizarro falling for the bearded girl, to art and flavor of the panels. They stop the KGB beast. The only problem with the Annual is the placement – the story is set earlier in time so it probably should have come first in the collection, not last. But it’s a stand-alone story, largely, so it still works.

I really enjoyed this collection. It’s a bit more on the tragic and action-oriented side than other volumes, with less humor – but it’s still a great read. Recommended.

Read my review of Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 1: Dark Trinity.

Read my review of Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2: Who is Artemis.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Here There Be Monsters

  • Title: Here There Be Monsters
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Discs: 1 CD
  • Author: Andy Lane
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Characters: Susan, First Doctor, Barbara, Ian, First Mate
  • Cast: Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Stephen Hancock (The First Mate)
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/15/2018

**Spoiler Alert** Here There Be Monsters is a story in Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles line of stories. The companion chronicles feature stories told from the companion’s point of view. This one is told by Carole Ann Ford as Susan. Susan’s never been one of my favorite companions (I preferred Barbara in the very first Team TARDIS). However, Carole Ann Ford does a really good job here, and she plays Susan in a slightly more mature fashion. This story seems to be set just before “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” – when Susan leaves.

The TARDIS is hit by some strange energy in space and has to materialize immediately. Upon landing the Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara leave the TARDIS and find themselves on a spaceship occupied by a plant. The plant’s leaves follow them as they move through the ship, and they even find a secondary control room where the plant is operating the controls with vines and branches.

The TARDIS crew follows the plant’s branches and vines until they find the main control room. There they find the captain of the vessel, a “vegetable life form” named Captain Rostrum. The ship is a Benchmarking Vessel, named Nevermore – which is punching holes through the galaxy, creating artificial black holes as an aid to navigation. The Doctor is appalled. Not only are black holes dangerous – but by punching holes through the fabric of space and time – Rostrum could destroy the galaxy. Rostrum steadfastly insists the process is safe and he must complete his mission. The Doctor insists he’s wrong and messing about with dangerous forces he doesn’t understand. Susan gets bored and wanders off.

Susan wanders off and meets a character we will later learn is called, “The First Mate”. The area this man is working in is dead – and the leaves are brown and falling away. Ian, Barbara, Susan and the Doctor had found similar dead areas in the ship while exploring. Susan and the stranger talk and he encourages her to spread her own wings, to live her own life, and to stop always accepting her grandfather’s word. While talking, Susan starts to feel weak. The First Mate then tells her the engines where he is working, emit radiation that’s dangerous to her – and she should leave. Reluctantly she does, and she returns to the control room.

When Susan arrives at the control room, she finds that everyone is staring out the viewport at a spaceship. The spaceship is attacking. As a scientific vessel, the Nevermore has no weapons, no defenses, not even shields. A group of missiles is heading towards the ship. However, just as it seems everyone is heading for certain death, a rip in space appears. This tear drags the missiles and the spaceship into it. Everyone on the Nevermore hears the message from the captain of the formerly attacking vessel. The benchmarking vessel’s artificial black holes had really messed up the ship’s home galactic system’s trade routes. This was viewed as an unprovoked attack. The Doctor uses this to try to convince Rostrum he’s right about the dangers of the benchmarking process but Rostrum doesn’t believe him. He is a stubborn vegetable.

Susan wanders off again, and this time she again ignores the First Mate’s warnings for her to leave when she feels ill from being near him. She ends up collapsing. Barbara finds her and gets her back to the control room.

However, the Doctor and Ian are now wondering about the dead areas in the ship, and they ask for a map of the dead areas so they can explore. Susan had told them all about the First Mate, but Rostrum insists no one else is on the ship – and that if there was, they must be part of the Doctor’s party. Soon, the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan are searching for the First Mate.

They find him – and find he’s from the other universe, the one on the other side of the rip that’s appeared in space. The benchmarking process is devastating to his universe and he’s been sent to stop it. And because he’s from another universe, he drains energy from people in this universe, including Rostrum. So it’s the First Mate who’s caused the dead areas on the ship.

When the Doctor tells Rostrum this, he isn’t believed – after all, Rostrum can’t see the First Mate.
But Susan talks to the First Mate and with the rest of the TARDIS crew, they decide they must end the Benchmarking process. The First Mate can shift back to his “natural” state – which will destroy everything within a light-year. The TARDIS crew runs for the TARDIS and barely makes it. The TARDIS protects them from the explosion. The benchmarking ship is destroyed, and the rip sealed. Just before he is also destroyed, the First Mate sends out a message – praising the courage of the people he met on the other side of the universe, stating they are not monsters. However, he suggests that people from his own side of the universe not travel to the universe due to the basic incompatibility of their species (e.g. the energy-draining thing).

I liked this story. It runs a bit shorter than some Companion Chronicles but the comparison between early navigators trying to discover how to determine longitude when sailing, and the benchmarking process were really interesting. I also loved the idea of a plant crewing a vessel in space. Stephen Hancock brings the First Mate to life particularly well, even if at first I thought it was David Warner (he sounds just like him). Carole Ann Ford did a particularly good job as Susan too. Finally, this story harkens back to the Age of Discovery with its title, Here There Be Monsters – the old way of marking off the unexplored areas of maps. The Doctor, as he talks about the dangers of benchmarking, talks about the universe as fabric, with weak spots. And beneath the fabric is an unseen place – where monsters come from. The Doctor’s worry is the universe could be destroyed, at the very least – rips could allow the monsters through. The First Mate also states that in his universe it was assumed that the “other universe” was occupied by monsters. As both the Doctor and the First Mate learn – the Other is not a monster. All you need is to talk to someone in a non-threatening environment to learn that people are people no matter what. The audio also plays the captain of the other ship’s message, which assumes the benchmarking vessel is aggressive and attacking without reason, to the First Mate’s message that states that the damage was an accident, and the people of the other universe aren’t monsters but courageous – and helpful in ending the damaging program, against each other. The two messages are polar opposites. And it’s the First Mate’s message, the message from a being from another universe, that correctly describes the Doctor and his TARDIS crew, as trying to help. This was a good story and I recommend it.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com.

Click this link to order Here There Be Monsters on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Jane the Virgin Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Jane the Virgin
  • Season: Season 1
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll, Justin Baldoni, Brett Dier, Jaime Camil, Yael Grobglas, Anthony Mendez
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

Jane the Virgin is a Spanish Soap Opera (or telenovela, as they are called in Spanish). The series is an adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela, but it also follows (and occasionally break) US soap opera conventions. However, the show is also funny, romantic, heart-breaking, and at times it has a lot of heart. I was expecting humor from this show – I wasn’t expecting it to have heart. The soap format makes it addictive, but the heart – that one truly cares about the characters – makes it work.

I watch a lot of the CW, so I saw trailers and commercials for Jane the Virgin when it premiered. And those trailers did not impress me. It looked like a comedy that poked fun at a girl for her life choices – and I never watched it. Then I started recording on my DVR something that aired just before Jane the Virgin – and the narrated intros drew me in. I then checked Amazon, and even Google to find the first season on DVD. Only to find that it was out of print, but that CBS was planning a Blu-Ray release – eventually. One year later, I finally got my copy. I’m glad I did though because I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and I pretty much binge watched it.

Jane is a young Hispanic woman, living with her single mother and her grandmother. As a young girl, her grandmother pretty much puts the fear of god into her about losing her virginity. So Jane vows to not have sex until she’s married. She’s been with the same guy, Michael, for two years, and the two are now engaged. She’s in college, studying to be a teacher, and almost ready to graduate. And she has a waitressing job at a nearby hotel. One morning, early morning, she has a normal OB/GYN appointment – and she ends up pregnant. The doctor, who was filling in for her regular OB/GYN, is told by her nurse she has a pap in one room – and an insemination in the other. The doctor, who had caught her spouse in bed with someone else the previous night – is a bit of a mess, and mixes things up. Jane gets pregnant.

To the show’s credit, the option of abortion is discussed, even with Jane and her family being both Hispanic and Catholic. Jane’s mother even picks up the prescription for her. Jane learns the sperm specimen belonged to Rafael, who, because of cancer and chemo is now sterile. As Rafael and Petra seem to be a strong couple, Jane decides she will go through the pregnancy, have the baby, and give it to Rafael and Petra.

Meanwhile, Michael at first tells Jane to not have the baby. Then he says he doesn’t want it. He’s also dishonest with Jane about information he learns about Petra. Since the information came to light during an investigation of the hotel, Michael could have said the information – that Petra is having an affair – was protected as part of an investigation, but instead, he lies. All of this and more leads to Jane breaking up with Michael.

Jane also has a connection with Rafael and falls in love with him. Once he is divorced from Petra – Rafael falls in love with Jane. But as in all soaps – love doesn’t run smoothly.

The third man in Jane’s life is Rogelio de la Vega, her father. Jane’s mother, Xiomara, had gotten pregnant at 16. And when Jane, who never knew her father, started asking questions, Xiomara made up a story about a soldier boy. But it turns out Jane’s father is now a famous telenovela star. He returns, and slowly Rogelio and Xiomara start to fall in love. But, again, because: soap opera, their love doesn’t run smoothly either.

The hotel that Rafael’s father owns (later Rafael, Petra, and his sister, Luisa aka the doctor who inseminated Jane) is a hotbed of activity. Michael and his police partner, Nadine, are investigating a big drug lord, whom they think is based in the hotel. And there are three murders in the hotel in the course of the season. And, needless to say – the murders and rumors of crime are having an effect on the finances of the hotel – because they start to lose guests and functions.

Jane, her mother, and her grandmother are all very strong women. The other female characters, Petra, her mother, and Nadine are strong too. Petra is the villain of the show, in grand soap opera style, but at times – she’s sympathetic too.

Rogelio is hilarious. In some ways, he’s the stereotype of an actor – ego-centric, vain, out of touch with reality – but he cares deeply for Jane now that he knows about her, and his feelings for Xiomara seem genuine. Rogelio is also willing to make sacrifices for his family, now that he knows about them.

The series has a narrator to remind viewers what is going on, and to fill in the gaps and comment on the action. I love the narrator – he’s great! There is also pop-up information on the screen, that is almost like a cheeky comment too. Or it provides legitimate help to the viewer. The series also occasionally breaks into showing Jane’s fantasies. There’s, at times, a heightened realism to the show, but also a use of things like on-screen heart emojis to show love.

I really enjoyed the first season of Jane the Virgin and I will be purchasing additional seasons. Highly Recommended.

Book Review – Green Lantern Earth One vol. 1

  • Title: Green Lantern Earth One vol. 1
  • Author: Corinna Bechko & Gabriel Hardman
  • Artists: Gabriel Hardman, Jordan Boyd (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
  • Characters: Hal Jordan, Kilowog, Green Lanterns
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/12/2018

Green Lantern Earth 1 is a stand-alone graphic novel outside the current DC Comics continuity. It’s an Elseworlds novel, what DC calls it’s “what if” stories. In this story, in a dark future where NASA has been taken over by a for-profit corporation, all exploration, and scientific discovery have halted, and space stations have been weaponized and used by corporations to target Earth populations that don’t tow the line – Hal Jordan has left NASA and now works for Ferris Galactic. He’s part of a crew trying to find mineral deposits on an asteroid. While he and his partner, Volkov, are working, they get the word – a rival corporation has found a deposit – which is likely to terminate Ferris Galactic’s contract. Hal, still cautiously optimistic, continues to explore the asteroid he’s on, despite his partner telling him it’s not worth it. Hal and his partner discover a crashed spaceship, with a non-working Manhunter aboard. A few minutes later, they find the desiccated body of Amin Sur.

A message comes through from Ferris Galactic – the contract’s been terminated, they are going back to Earth, and no one will get their bonus. Volkov finds a green lantern and power ring – but it doesn’t exactly go well. First, the alien spaceship explodes from the sheer power of the lantern. This exposes the Manhunter to sunlight – which powers it up. Volkov and Hal make it to their lander, but something is seriously wrong. The lander doesn’t make it back to the Ferris Galactic ship. Volkov is killed in the explosion. The Ring seeks Hal, providing him with a shield so he can survive in space. Hal barely defeats the Manhunter on instinct. He has no idea what’s going on. Meanwhile, Ferris Galactic has decided he’s a liability – the radiation surrounding him is a risk, and he can’t be brought abroad their ship.

Hal wakes up in a hospital on Bolovax Vel, under the care of Kilowog, a Green Lantern and hospital tech. Kilowog starts to fill Hal in on galactic events. Once, the Green Lantern Corps were the police force of the galaxy. But the Guardians feared they were becoming too strong – so they built the Manhunters, which destroyed the Green Lanterns and Oa, the planet at the center of the Galaxy where the Guardians lived. All of this was so long ago, though, that Kilowog is a bit fuzzy on the details. He says the Rings are heirlooms, passed down through families. Some of the rings no longer work, others only work at a fraction of their original power, since the Great Lantern on Oa was destroyed. Kilowog also, when he’s forced to by events, admits his planet is totally isolationist. No one can leave the planet, and no other species is allowed on the planet. He helped Hal because he was a Lantern – even though he knew it was against the law. Of course, he informs Hal of this as the planetary police are closing in.

Hal and Kilowog leave the planet and set out on a quest to find out more about the Green Lanterns, the Guardians, Oa, the Manhunters, and to unite other Lanterns. Everyone tells them slightly different stories – some blaming the Guardians for the rise of the Manhunters. As Hal tries to put it all together and figure out who to believe, he and Kilowog are captured. They end up separated, but as slaves on Oa – slaves to the Manhunters. Hal, though, gets a message from one of the last surviving Guardians. He discovers that the Great Lantern wasn’t destroyed, it’s encased in an energy-damping dome that prevents its energy from reaching the galaxy and the rings.

Hal sends out a recruiting message, asking for help in attacking the dome. Some Lanterns actually think destroying the planet would be worth it – but Hal doesn’t want the slaves harmed. He finds a better way. The army of Lanterns destroys the dome and they are able to power their rings. Arista is nominated as leader of the new rag-tag Corps. Hal goes with Kilowag to his home planet to start him on the path of overthrowing the corrupt military coup government and bring the planet into the fold. Hal – heads back to Earth, and Ferris Galactic, for, essentially, the same reasons.

Green Lantern is usually a bright, hopeful book – full of space adventure, diverse characters, and fun. This book is dark. The first half of the book has very little dialogue, and dark panels set the stage. As the story opens up, we start to see the familiar green Lantern light – but completely out of control and dangerous. Hal isn’t the confident (some would say over-confident) hero Lantern we know so well – he’s a broken man, trying to do his best. Yet Hal still becomes a hero, because he’s the one who will find the Lantern on Oa and he’s the one who unites the few Lanterns and helps them to elect their own leader. Hal, it seems, will bring hope to the universe. So, ultimately, this is a good start to what may be a very different, and hard-hitting, but ultimately hopeful SF series.

Recommended. (Not for younger readers).

Free Comic Book Day 2018

Free Comic Book Day is an annual event to promote independent comic book shops and the art and stories of comic books for all ages. I’ve been attending Free Comic Book Day for three or four years now, and I usually really, really enjoy it. This year, unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much – but that’s nothing on the site of the event or anything – I ended up getting sick, and that made it really hard to have a good time.

I met up with a friend of mine – at 8:30am. The plan was to go to his favorite coffee shop and then to the event at our local comic shop, Vault of Midnight. Well, we got to the shop before it even opened, so of course, there was a very long line. I’d been expecting this. And it was very warm and sunny, which I figured would be an improvement on the cold of last year. Sigh. Well… First, my friend started to complain of not feeling well, not that we could do much about it since we were in line. Then I started to not feel well myself. So by the time we were at the front of the line, which wasn’t really that long, considering, both of us ending up going through the store as fast as possible to pick up our free books, and I picked up my pull. I also bought Bombshells, which I ended up loving! After leaving the store we ended-up at a nearby restaurant to use the facilities and I sat at the bar and drank three glasses of water and an iced tea in about 20 minutes. The verdict was: dehydrated and too much sun. And because I still didn’t feel great – I went straight home. But with all of that, the event was still great. I love Free Comic Book Day – and, all things considered, I had a good time, I just really wish I hadn’t been so sick. The staff at the comic book store were great – couldn’t have been better.

FCBD 2018 – Doctor Who from Titan Comics

I always pick-up the Titan Comics Doctor Who offering and this year was no exception. The book this year offers three stories, which stand alone but also wet the appetite for the next year in Titan’s many Doctor Who series of books and graphic novels. The first story is, “Catch a Falling Star”, Gabby is falling through space, reflecting on her life and her imminent death. It’s a good character piece, even though I found myself lost a bit as I’m currently way behind on my Doctor Who graphic novels. The end is wonderful, and I won’t spoil it, though I will say that I hope it means what I think it means.

The second story, “The Armageddon Gambit”, has the Seventh Doctor and Ace running into a war-like species, whom the Doctor defeats with cleverness and skill. The Doctor then gets a message from Captain Gilmore and his Counter-Measures team. The story ends with a “to be continued in Operation Volcano!” information box. I hope this means that sometime next year, Titan will issue a Classic Doctors graphic novel featuring the Seventh Doctor and Ace – one of my favorite Doctor-Companion combinations.

The final story, “Midnight Feast” features the Eleventh Doctor and Alice. It’s a fun story of the Doctor in search of the perfect Midnight Snack – only to discover a plain tuna sandwich made by his companion is exactly what he’s looking for.

The final page of the book is a splash page introduction of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor – answering the question of whether Titan would be doing a 13th Doctor series (yes!) and the inside back cover announces the new book’s creative team: Jody Houser (writer) and Rachael Stott (art). I’m looking forward to the new book, but as usual, for Doctor Who comics from Titan, I will probably wait for the graphic novel. Although the three stories were short, and all meant as introductions to future volumes of Titan’s various series, I enjoyed the book.

Riverdale – Archie Comics

Next, Riverdale, from Archie Comics, based on the CW television series. I’m behind on Riverdale as well, but this story is outside current continuity – so there were no spoilers. In “Chock’Lit Shoppe of Horrors”, on a dark and stormy night, no less, Betty goes to Pop’s to interview Pop about the history of his restaurant and Riverdale. Pop obliges her with a series of stories: famous celebrities who have stopped by Pop’s, the story of Sweetie the hidden monster of the Sweetwater River, and finally a mysterious stranger who gave him some advice which saved Pop’s – but at a cost. It’s a wonderful story, and completely self-contained. I enjoyed it very much. The final pages of the book include informative advertisements for other books from Archie Comics both classic all-ages books and modern books for older (teen) readers.

The Mall – Scout Comics

The Mall I picked up solely because of the cover. With the grey, black, white, and hot pink – it screamed 80s Noir, and it caught my eye. I ended up really enjoying it. I hope this book comes out in a collected volume. The Mall is about a typical 80s shopping mall, a hang-out spot of typical suburban teenagers. Well, except for the fact that the “typical” nerd is the illegitimate son of a mobster, and already working for the mob, picking up money, delivering cash, and running odd jobs. He’s fallen for the cheerleader, and when he hears her complaining how her date ignores her to play a kung-fu arcade video game, our hero jumps in, telling the cheerleader he can beat her boyfriend. The bet is arranged, and Diego wins – not only humiliating Chauncy (the boyfriend) but winning a date – dinner and a dance with the cheerleader. Diego also has a sideline with the Cubans, so his dinner date is a bit complicated with business – but it all works out. I enjoyed this story. It’s self-contained but would also work as the first chapter of a larger story. The book also contains short previews for several other books from Scout Comics, many of which sounded very interesting.

DC Nation #0 – DC Comics

DC Nation # 0 is the first preview issue of a new DC Comics news and feature magazine. The cover cost of the first preview issue was only 25 cents, and per the information in the book, new issues will be free. I hope so – because this was an enjoyable read! This issue contains three stories, all of which are previews of upcoming events or new books in the DC universe.

The first story is Batman in “Your Big Day”, The Joker has taken a random guy hostage in his house and states he is waiting for an invitation in the mail to Batman’s upcoming wedding. There’s a great deal of tension between Joker and this random guy, who goes from insisting he has a daughter so the Joker shouldn’t kill him, to asking the Joker to kill him to get the tension over with. Finally, the mail arrives, and the Joker claims he received his invite. But it isn’t an invitation at all – it’s a letter from the daughter’s school. Not that random guy knows that – because the Joker kills him.

The next story features Superman in “Office Space”. Clark returns to the Daily Planet in time for Perry White’s declaration that he’s done printing suspicion, innuendo, rumor, and fear-mongering about Superman. He insists on facts and good reporting. He also gives Lois’s office to Clark, since she’s quit the Daily Planet. Clark insists he doesn’t want the office but doesn’t explain. Perry also introduces Robinson Goode, formerly of the Star City Sentinel, the new city beat reporter. We later see Robinson in a bar, talking to someone, and it seems she’s up to no good, pardon the pun. This is a preview of the new Man of Steel series.

Finally in the “No Justice” prelude, the Justice League, or rather, Leagues, led by Batman are up against an intergalactic threat. This short story introduces the four teams who will fight the Omega Titans, “giant beings who absorbs galaxies for energy”. The teams are: Justice League: Team Entropy (Lobo, Deathstroke, Lex Luthor, and Beast Boy); JL: Team Mystery (Martian Manhunter, Superman, Starro, Starfire, Sinestro); JL: Team Wonder (Wonder Woman, Raven, Doctor Fate, Etrigan the Demon, and Zatanna); and finally JL: Team Wisdom (Cyborg, Atom, Robin (Damian Wayne), The Flash, and Harley Quinn). It’s an introduction – but it sounds like an awesome, complex, galaxy-spanning story.

Overall, I enjoyed the books I choose at Free Comic Book Day. The event was enjoyable, though I would have enjoyed it more if I’d been feeling better. Still, that most certainly wasn’t the fault of the store or the event organizers. I cannot wait for next year! Recommended – if there’s an FCBD event near you next year, make it a point to go. You’ll not be disappointed!