Book Review – Black Canary Ignite

  • Title: Black Canary
  • Author: Meg Cabot
  • Artists: Cara McGee, Caitlin Quirk, Clayton Cowles
  • Line: DC Zoom
  • Characters: Black Canary (Dinah Lance)
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/25/2020

**Spoiler Alert** Black Canary Ignite is the only graphic novel I’ve read in the DC Comics Zoom line for children and middle schoolers. I actually ordered it from my comics shop by mistake, thinking it was in the DC Ink Young Adult line. For children’s fiction, it’s probably good to great – it’s hard for me to tell. And it’s the only time I’ve seen actual “chapters” in a graphic novel. I just found the book a little simplistic and quite short. But, as I said, it is a children’s book.

Dinah Lance is a typical middle school student, she and her friends Vee and Kat are practicing with their band so they can compete in the Battle of the Bands that’s the end to Careers Week, and Dinah also wants to join the Young Police Academy. Her father is a police detective and her mother owns a florist shop. But strange things keep happening around Dinah – a school trophy case shatters behind her, bleachers collapse near the sports field, etc. The principal seems to have it out for her too – blaming her for everything from the case shattering to her favorite mug breaking. After the second or third incident, the principal calls in Dinah’s parents and tries to convince them that Dinah is a meta with telekinetic powers. Dinah’s parents insist this is nonsense, tell off the principal, and threaten to sue the school if they try to expel Dinah.

But later that night, Dinah’s mother shows her the costume that she put away. She was once a superhero known as the Black Canary, and she had a supersonic voice. She tells Dinah that she inherited that power. Ted Grant, now a coach at Dinah’s school, begins training her in self-defense, and Miss Bonner the school’s voice coach helps her train her voice. But Dinah’s mother insists she not tell anyone about her powers, including her friends. This causes friction.

Someone also seems to be after Dinah and her Mom. A package with an injured bird is left at the house and Dinah nurses it back to health. Later, a hooded and cloaked figure attacks Dinah at the florist shop and sets the place on fire. Finally, Dinah’s mother is kidnapped. Dinah heads to the school to find rescue her Mom – and compete in the Battle of the Bands.

It turns out the principal is Bonfire, an old enemy of Dinah’s Mom, who was seeking revenge. Dinah is able to make up with her friends, and they compete with the band title of Black Canary. So it all works out. Again, this is a good story, but it lacks depth and it’s very short. Still, for young girls getting into comics, it’s probably something they would enjoy. Recommended for younger readers.

Arrow Season 7 Review

  • Series: Arrow
  • Season: 7
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Cast: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum, Rick Gonzalez, Katherine McNamara, Ben Lewis, Colton Haynes
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

This review contains spoilers for Season 7 of Arrow.

Last season when I watched Season 7 of Arrow on the CW, I didn’t like it and I found the flash-forwards very confusing. Having seen most of Season 8 and having re-watched Season 7 on DVD, I liked it a bit better but I still think there are issues with the writing and characterization of the show. Season 7 of Arrow is also very, very dark, making the season much less enjoyable to watch. The season opens with Oliver Queen in jail for his “crimes” as a vigilante. Ricardo Diaz, the previous “big bad”, is still free and running a criminal empire. He even attacks Felicity and William in their apartment where they are living under assumed identities. This leads Felicity to send William away to boarding school for his own protection. Felicity decides she must get Oliver out of jail and kill Diaz. She turns to Laurel (Black Siren) for help. Laurel has become the district attorney, and surprisingly for someone who was not a lawyer on Earth-2, she’s doing fairly well. In jail, Oliver goes from “keeping his head down” to trying to solve a mystery in the prison. He also initially trusts the wrong people. Meanwhile, Rene is secretly continuing his vigilante ways as Wild Dog – despite Mayor Pollard’s law that makes vigilantes illegal. Rene is also helping the New Green Arrow who has suddenly arrived in Star City.

After about 6-7 episodes, Laurel finally gets Oliver out of prison and she also prevents Felicity from murdering Diaz. Later when Laurel is accused of murder, Felicity is the only one who believes she was framed. Luckily for Laurel, Felicity gets Dinah to help her anyway and they clear Laurel’s name and capture a dangerous jewel thief in the process. Laurel also assembles a case against Diaz and he is sent to jail – finally. Diaz is almost immediately murdered in prison.

Meanwhile, everyone is wondering who the New Green Arrow is and if they have good motivations or not. Rene is convinced she is trying to help. The New Green Arrow turns out to be Emiko, Oliver’s half-sister. It turns out that Robert Queen had a secret second family whom he abandoned. Emiko is, she tells Rene and Oliver, on the trail of her mother’s killer. This leads to a terrorist financier named Dante, someone John Diggle and Lyla at ARGUS are also after. Dante, they think, leads an organization called the Ninth Circle which seems to be dedicated to regime change and causing chaos. Much of the season consists of Lyla and Diggle slowly putting together the pieces in their chase of Dante and the Ninth Circle.

Meanwhile, in the flash-forwards, we meet William, Roy Harper, Mia, and Zoë, who are all now young adults, living in a dystopian Star City, where the Glades are protected by a wall but also a police state where the corporation Galaxy One rules with an iron fist. Outside the wall, there’s no police, no law, no order, nothing – people scrounge to survive any way they can. At first, William and the others are looking for Felicity (They briefly think she was murdered after planning to blow up Star City but figure out she’s being held captive by Galaxy One who plan on destroying Star City.) Rene is the mayor of the Glades and deeply involved with Galaxy One, building the wall, outlawing vigilantes (and blaming them for Star City’s problems) and ultimately the plan to destroy Star City. When the Galaxy One CEO tells him they plan on evacuating Star City prior to destroying it so it can be rebuilt, Rene believes it. He’s shocked to find out that there was no plan for an evacuation order. William and Mia rescue Felicity and together with Zoë, Dinah, and the Canary Network they prevent the bombing.

Back in the present day, Oliver is determined to find out who Dante is, stop the Ninth Circle, and forge a relationship with his new sister, Emiko. These goals prove to be someone incompatible with each other.

Season 7 with it’s flipping back and forth between the present and the future is extremely confusing. I had a hard time figuring out what was going on in the Flash-forwards and who everyone was. On a second watch, it helped a lot knowing who various people were, so I could focus on the characters’ goals. But I still found Mia to be very unlikeable until the very end of the season (she improves in Season 8). The adult William on the other hand, I liked immediately – much more so than his younger self, who seemed to be a spoiled brat. Zoë in the future is much different than she is in the present, so much so that I had a hard time reconciling the two as being different versions of the same character. Roy, though, is Roy – and it’s great to see him again and with a lengthy storyline.

Also, Season 7, focuses on Rene Ramirez, Wild Dog, and I still don’t like his character at all, and I find him to be really dumb. In a very real sense, he causes all of Oliver’s problems in the present and all of Felicity, William, and Mia’s problems in the future. In the present, Rene immediately trusts the New Green Arrow, defends her/him to everyone, including the police, helps him/her (no one knows NGA is a woman for several episodes) and convinces the police and what’s left of Team Arrow to trust and help her. When Oliver discovers Emiko is his sister, it’s Rene who pushes Oliver to forge a relationship with her. But Emiko is actually part of the Ninth Circle, deeply involved with Dante, and she isn’t to be trusted. But that’s not Rene’s only mistake – he’s the mayor of the Glades, approved building a large physical wall that’s actually a supercomputer in charge of a Big Brother type security system around the Glades. He bans vigilantes (the same guy who argued constantly against Mayor Pollard’s anti-vigilante law) and then lets Galaxy One talk him into policing the Glades with Zeta Soldiers – super-powered, technically-enhanced soldiers who can plug into the Archer Network and use DNA to find anybody, anywhere, any time. Rene basically created the nightmare that is Star City in the 2040s. Rene also believes the Galaxy One CEO when he says Star City will be “evacuated” before it is bombed. He’s not suspicious at all. His naivete is unbelievable.

Felicity however also is out of character. After Diaz gets into her apartment, she becomes obsessed with home security, developing a DNA-based home security system. Much of the season has Felicity in the background working on this system – having both successes and setbacks. She invites Alena (from Helix) to be her CTO of Smoak Technologies. Felicity also briefly works with Curtis too. Her system, Archer, is ultimately stolen, and although Felicity destroys it, Alena had copied the base code. Archer is the “big bad” for the flash-forwards. Felicity had always been the conscious of Team Arrow – the one who would stop Oliver from going too far, and get everyone to slow down before doing anything drastic. That she would suddenly become obsessed with first, killing Diaz and then developing this security system just doesn’t seem like her.

Even Lyla and John – who are lying to everyone for much of the season, as they prioritize catching Dante above all (even bringing back Task Force X, eg The Ghost Initiative) and freeing Diaz to use him to get to Virgil, a money man for Dante.

It just doesn’t make sense. No one is behaving the way they should. The storyline hops around from present to future to present. The storyline also keeps changing its mind about who the villain is – and not in a good way, but more of a “we couldn’t decide” way. Watching Season 8 actually helps Season 7 make a little more sense, and be a bit more tolerable, but that’s not a way to write a show. Still, it is definitely worth having season 7 (if only for Elseworlds which is brilliant) and as a lead into Season 8 and Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Read my Review of Arrow Season 3.
Read my Review of Arrow Season 4.
Read my Review of Arrow Season 5.
Read my Review of Arrow Season 6.

Book Review – Naomi Season 1

  • Title: Naomi Season 1
  • Author: Brian Michael Bendis, David f. Walker
  • Artists: Jamal Campbell, Josh Reed, Carlos M. Mangual
  • Line: Wonder Comics
  • Characters: Naomi
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/11/2020

**Spoiler Alert** Naomi is one of four titles in DC Comics’ new young adult Wonder Comics imprint. Naomi is a young girl, who was adopted as a baby. She has good parents who love her, friends, a therapist, and she’s a fan of Superman – the way one might be a fan of a sports star, musician, or actor. One day, her dream comes true as Superman fights Mongul in the heart of her small northwestern town. The fight only lasts 17 seconds, does a lot of damage – and Naomi misses it. Even when she researches what happened online – she can find nothing. In the grand scheme of things, the biggest thing to happen to Oswego in years isn’t even a blip on the national news cycle.

However, this event sends Naomi on a new journey. Superman returns the next day to clean up the mess from the fight – but again Naomi misses it, and again Superman doesn’t stay long. When someone tells Naomi this “isn’t the first time, you know” meaning a super being or something unusual had happened in Oswego before, Naomi starts looking into it. Most people ignore her or claim nothing ever happens in their small town. But the town mechanic tells her the date of the last happening – the date of her adoption. Naomi starts asking questions – who is the mechanic? How does he know the date of her adoption?

In the middle of the night, Naomi decides to get her answers and goes to interview the mechanic. She assumes he is her father, and when she sees him with a photograph of another woman of color, she assumes that is her mother. Dee, the mechanic, denies it, denies everything. But he explains that he was a soldier, and not simply in a foreign army, but in an alien army – he is a member of the elite fighting corps of Thanagar. He and his partner were tasked with surgical strikes, assassinations, spying, et cetera. But the more time they spent undercover on different worlds the more he and his female partner began to question their orders and the war. And they fell in love. After a mission goes sideways, they end up together on Gemworld. But they cannot hide there very long. They find out about a portal – Dee is able to get to the portal and to Earth, but his love and partner doesn’t make it and is presumably either still on Gemworld or she was caught by Thanagarian solders.

Reeling from this information, Dee and Naomi are interrupted by her mother – her extremely angry mother. She takes Naomi home, they pick up her father, and head to the hills and a cave there. In the cave, her father shows her a spaceship. Naomi asks if it’s the ship she came in, and her father says – nope, it’s his ship. He was a soldier too, from Rann, and also in an elite squad. He was sent on a mission to Earth to track down a missing elite Thanagrian soldier. Once on Earth though, he met Naomi’s mother and fell in love. He decided to abandon his mission. And once he found Dee, finding him to be no current threat, he, Dee, and Naomi’s mother basically decided to stay out of each other’s way and to keep their secrets, secret.

Naomi’s parents were happy but her mother desperately wanted a child and they couldn’t have one. Traditional adoption would be difficult since her father had no history from before he suddenly arrived. One night something happens. Dee and Naomi’s father rush to where their communication equipment points them – and find a small battle. And a baby that all the warriors are trying to kill. The battle ends quickly, everyone else leaves, and the baby, Naomi, is left behind. Dee admits he cannot care for a child, so Naomi’s father takes her in. The only information they have is a blanket wrapped around the baby and a device with it.

In the cave, Naomi gets into the spaceship belonging to her father. She touches the device and suddenly glows with power. Next, she is telling her best friend, Annabelle, everything that has happened. When she touched the device, she felt a rush of power – but also received a message. The message was from her biological mother, an alien from a planet that experienced something called The Crisis. After an environmental disaster, and the destruction of the Ozone layer, the planet is bathed in radiation. But instead of killing everyone outright – 29 people receive superpowers. In short, they are turned into gods. One of these gods is a serial killer and criminal, who makes himself dictator of the world. The others band against him, but there’s some sort of infighting as well. Several of these new superheroes/gods die, others leave. Only a few are left, and the dictator, Zumbado, rules the planet, destroying everything with constant war. Naomi’s parents, both newly created superhero-gods, fall in love and have Naomi, but Zumbado wants this child. They give her to a friend, Akira, to bring to Earth. Akira succeeds. Zumbado kills Naomi’s birth parents. Naomi is able to use her power to escape and return to Earth. When Zumbado follows her, she uses her power to banish him. But although she is extremely powerful, she also has no idea how to really use her powers or what they are. But she is back with her family.

Naomi is a beautiful graphic novel. The artwork is incredible, it really is. The story, well, it’s an origin story, and is mostly exposition, with the promise of more to come. But that’s not really a criticism, as this is a very fresh and exciting story – it’s just only at the beginning. I hope to read more soon. Naomi does join another title in the Wonder Comics line, Young Justice plus notes on the graphic novel collection make me think her title will continue. I hope so. This book is highly recommended. Read it – you will not be disappointed.

Doom Patrol Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Doom Patrol
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 15
  • Discs: 3 (Blu-ray)
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Alan Tudyk, Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Matt Bomer, Timothy Dalton, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Phil Morris
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review contains spoilers for the first season of Doom Patrol.

Doom Patrol is weird, wonderful, strange, and extremely good – and it’s not your same old-same old superhero show. It’s a deeply psychological show that aims to really show what mental illness is like for the people that have it, which is a vastly different approach to a superhero show. Nevermind being screw-ups, the Doom Patrol is doomed to never be successful.

The pilot and first episode of Doom Patrol are narrated by Mr. Nobody, whom it turns out is the villain. His narration pops-up occasionally throughout the series, especially in the Penultimate Patrol and the finale. Each episode of the series also is the “blank Patrol” or the “something Patrol”. Also, the Chief, played by Timothy Dalton, is kidnapped by Mr. Nobody in those first few episodes, so the Doom Patrol are trying to find and rescue their chief, who we do see occasionally in the series – including a flashback episode that somewhat explains why Niles Calder is interested in the unusual in the first place.

The characters are:

“Crazy Jane” – she has 64 multiple personalities, each with their own special abilities. The personalities exist in the “underground” a place we visit once. Jane is the primary. Everyone calls Jane by her name of Jane, though her birth name is possibly “Kay Challis” we learn later. Other personalities include: Hammerhead – a foul-mouthed, angry, extremely strong woman (in the underground she is bald and a punk); Baby Doll – with pigtails, and a giggly manner she’s both sweet and annoying in equal manner; Penny Farthing – a young British Cockney girl who’s purpose is to run; Silver Tongue – when she speaks her words appear in copper letters which she can then use as a weapon; and The Secretary – who we only see in the Underground, a stern woman, with severe dress and hair, but she seems to be in charge of keeping Jane’s head together – organizing the personalities and preventing further harm from coming to Jane.

Cliff Steele (Robotman) – a race car driver, who is in a horrible accident. The Chief transplants his brain into a robot body. At first we, the audience, like Cliff think he was in an accident on the race track. But he avoids that, then is a normal traffic accident late at night. The accident kills his wife, and he thinks his daughter too, but later he discovers she survived. Cliff had been raised in an abusive home, and he and his wife fought constantly and both had constant affairs.

Rita Farr (Elasti-girl) – A movie actress in the 1950s, she complains about a “disfigured” cameraman then falls through a wooden pier into an African river, where some strange substance enters her. Now her skin and form aren’t solid and she has little to no control of the situation. We usually see Rita losing control of her form by her face drooping or her legs turning into a goopy mess.

Larry Trainer (Negative Man) – A test pilot in the late 50s/early 60s – Larry is testing a new plane when an extra-terrestrial creature enters the plane. He crashes – and is rushed to a secret government facility. He is extremely radioactive and has to wear special bandages to prevent harm to others (he discovers this when he accidentally kills all the doctors and nurses at the first hospital he’s taken to). The creature inside him can leave, but when the Energy Spirit leaves, Larry is knocked out cold. Larry is also gay but hides it from nearly everyone.

Vic Stone (Cyborg) – He’s been Cyborg for an unspecified amount of time, but ends-up joining the Doom Patrol due to complications. He’s a friend of the Chief but has a complicated relationship with his father, Dr. Silas Stone, whom he doesn’t quite trust.

All of these characters face serious mental issues. Jane is the most obvious – her multiple personality disorder was caused by abuse – and the meta abilities were caused by the same agency that got their kidnapped Larry, giving her some sort of injection. At times Jane is the most normal of the group.

Rita’s ability is a visualization of body dysmorphia. As an actress, especially from the 1950s, her looks were her livelihood – and we often see Rita checking her makeup in a compact, or sitting in front of a makeup mirror. As we learn more about her, we find out she was also a victim of the “casting couch” – forced to provide “favors” to get roles. Rita Farr isn’t even her real name, but her stage name – further complicating how she sees herself.

Larry cannot accept he is gay. He has a wife and children, a job in the military as a test pilot, and pretty much has faked his entire life to create an appearance of “being normal”. He’ll have the occasional affair or fling with a man but cannot commit or even admit who he really is. Through the season, we see Larry slowly grow to accept who he really is.

Cliff is the son of an abusive father, who becomes abusive and a womanizer as an adult. But he also, despite the bravado, is close to accepting his faults and becoming a better person.

Even Mr. Nobody has only one talent – to manipulate people (and he manipulates all of the Doom Patrol, even the Chief, throughout the season). He has ideas about weapons and such that he thinks will gain him membership in the Brotherhood of Evil, but his lack of follow-through gets him fired instead, and his wife leaves him.

Vic Stone is still coming to terms with being Cyborg and is deeply distrustful of his father. He’s trying to find his own place in the world.

Besides Mr. Nobody, the villain of the piece is The Bureau of Normalcy – a “secret government agency” that both Larry and Niles (the Chief) had worked for at one time. The Bureau seeks to lock-up, study, turn into weapons, or just out and out destroy anything that isn’t “normal”.

Doom Patrol is visually stunning, weird, wonderful, and a must-see. Highly recommended.

Young Justice Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Young Justice – Outsiders
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 26
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Jesse McCartney, Danica McKellar, Nolan North, Khary Payton, Stephanie Lemelin, Zehra Fazal, Troy Baker, Jason Marsden, Greg Cipes, Alyson Stoner, Mae Whitman, Zeno Robinson, Tara Strong, Bryton James, Jason Spisak
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

Young Justice is an excellent series about the younger superheroes and protegees of the major heroes in the DC Universe – don’t call them sidekicks. The show had two popular and critically acclaimed seasons on Cartoon Network before being abruptly canceled because rumor said the show didn’t “sell enough toys”. Fans set out to bring the show back, and it finally arrived on DC Comics’ new streaming service DC Universe.

The new season is just as good as the previous ones – and gets back to the feel of the first season, with references to The Light, Vandal Savage, Darkseid, and even War World (which is now under the control of Savage). But many of the episodes concentrate on the characters – and what it means to be a teenager, especially a teen with superpowers. Starting in Markovia, where Nightwing hopes to break up a meta-trafficking ring including a lab to “activate” the metagene, the operation doesn’t go to plan. The King and Queen of Markovia who have opened the border to refugees from the rogue state of Qurac and announced an anti-trafficking initiative are murdered. Their second son agrees to have his metagene activated so he can protect Markovia. Their oldest son takes over but is under the control of his general – a conservative Xenophobe who wishes to exile the protected refugees and not only turns a blind eye to meta-human trafficking but was behind the lab in the first place (in collusion with Lex Luthor and the Light). The older brother exiles his younger brother. Also, their younger sister, Tara has been kidnapped and is still missing. She also is a meta. Brion, the younger brother, now a Meta, eventually using the code name Geo-Force, joins the team.

Next, the team of young heroes is contacted by Orion of the New Gods because something is happening on his home planet of New Genesis. The team discovers that someone is impersonating Orion and other New Gods and intimidating the “bugs” who live on the surface of New Genesis. Forager, one of these bugs helps the Young Justice team and joins them, in part because he can’t stay on New Genesis – it’s too dangerous.

Also, joining the team, a young girl, named Violet, whom one of the team sees dropped in a pit with other dead teenagers but she isn’t dead. It isn’t quite evident immediately what Violet’s powers are. She has a Halo around herself (thus her superhero name of “Halo”), can make shields and defensive weapons. She also cannot die, as her healing powers bring her back. Eventually, it’s discovered she is fused with a Motherbox from New Genesis and she can make Boom Tubes.

The season alters between episodes about the various characters – checking in on characters from previous seasons, and also developing the new characters. Violet’s character takes several episodes to develop – we know some things about her immediately, but not everything. Fred Bugg/Forager is a marvelous character and a bit more complicated than he seems at times. Prince Brion/Geo-Force spends a lot of time insisting the team find his missing sister, Tara, but when they do – it becomes very complicated since she’s under the abusive thumb of Slade Wilson. Brion is also exiled from his own country. This season also introduces Victor Stone – Cyborg, who is having a very hard time adjusting to his new identity. The season also opens with Batman withdrawing from the Justice League in protest to Lex Luthor’s restrictions on the League placed through his role as president of the United Nations. Batman takes several people with him to form “Batman Inc.” Jefferson Pierce, Black Lightning, retires at the same time after thinking he killed a teenager who had been turned into a Meta. Nightwing takes Black Lightning under his wing, no pun intended, and he joins the Team unofficially.

Batman Inc. isn’t really seen, but it’s clear they are manipulating events, behind the scenes to give the Young Justice team good publicity (which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t) and to battle The Light and G Gordon Godfrey – a tabloid television journalist who’s a real pain.

Halfway through the season, once Tara is rescued and reunited with her brother, and Cyborg joins the team but is still learning how to control his powers that come from a Fatherbox, Beast Boy proposes a new direction for the Young Justice team. Calling themselves “Outsiders” – they are to generate good publicity for all metas, including young meta teens who have been rescued from meta trafficking and are being housed in the Justice League’s Teen Center. Beast Boy’s day job is playing “Commander Tork” on “Space Trek 3016” produced by GW Goode Studios run by Gretchen “Granny” Goode. Early in the season, the Young Justice team discovers the Virtual Reality goggles her company is producing are being used to tempt young potential meta children and teens away to be kidnapped by traffickers. Later, they discover “Gretchen” is none other than Granny Goodness from  Apokolips. Beast Boy is in charge of the positive image campaign and social media for the Outsiders.

At this point, there are multiple teams: the traditional Young Justice covert ops team, the Outsiders public PR team, and Batman’s Batman Inc. undercover team. It’s not clearly spelled out who is on what team, and there is overlap – but the show now has much more intrigue and covert operations feel to it, much like the first season. This doesn’t overshadow the character relationships though, which are really what makes Young Justice special. The series also has an extremely large cast, with pretty much any and all DC characters appearing at least once. The core for season three though is: Nightwing, Superboy, Tigress (Artemis Crock), Violet, Brion, and Forager, Beast Boy (Garfield Logan), Will Harper, Cyborg, M’Gann, El Dorado, Impulse (Bart Allen), Static, Wonder Girl, and Terra (Princess Tara).

I highly recommend Young Justice as a whole and Season 3 in particular. It is a series that is complex and multi-layered and you do need to watch each season in order to really catch everything that is happening and all the connections and characters. Seasons 1 and 2 are on my re-watch list at which point I will need to see this a second time. Highly recommended.

Legends of Tomorrow Season 4 Review

  • Series Title: Legends of Tomorrow
  • Season: Season 4
  • Episodes: 16
  • Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray) (DVD set is 3 discs)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Caity Lotz, Brandon Routh, Maise Richardson-Sellers, Dominic Purcell, Nick Zano, Tala Ashe, Matt Ryan, Jes Macallen, Adam Tsekhman
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review will contain spoilers for Season 4 of Legends of Tomorrow

As the tease at the end of Season 3 promised, Season 4 brings magic into the Legends of Tomorrow universe and John Constantine becomes a regular. The first half of the season has relatively self-contained episodes, as the Legends chase magical creatures before they can mess-up the timeline. These episodes though are so very character-centric and each one allows our characters to shine. In the third episode of Season 4, the Legends meet a punk shapeshifter in 1970s London. Although Constantine wants to send the creature to hell, as he had previous magical creatures they had met, Ray Palmer, who has gotten to know Charlie, convinces the Legends to capture her instead. First imprisoned by the Legends, Charlie eventually becomes one of them, assisting on the current mission. She also looks like Amaya.

The two-part midseason finale, “Hell No, Dolly!” and “Legends of To-Meow-Meow” gives us more information on Constantine, including explaining why he’s been in a weird headspace all season and introduces the season’s villain, a demon called Neron, who bonded with Constantine’s lover Des (Desmond) forcing Constantine to send them both to hell. Being in the same city at the same time that he lost his lover, Constantine cannot resist trying to change things and save Des. But when he does he breaks time. He and Charlie, who helped run interference while he was on his unsanctioned solo mission, return to the jump ship and find Zari’s been turned into a cat.  In “Legends of To-Meow-Meow” Constantine, Charlie, and Zari with help from Nora and Mona attempt to find a solution that will allow them to save Des, allow Charlie to keep her shapeshifting powers, but that won’t have the Legends die – because in this new broken universe, members of the Legends team keep dying in magical creature attacks. These losses cause the Legends to become reckless killers. Although the episode expresses this with various genre-style “TV series”, complete with credit sequences, including, “Guardians of the Chronology” (an 1980s-style, all male-led, action show with lots of guns and violence), “Sirens of Spacetime” (in “Charlie’s Angels” style – Sara, Ava, and Gideon are action stars) and “Puppets of Tomorrow” (the Legends have been turned into singing puppets). But the only way to prevent disaster is to prevent John from changing time in the first place.

The second half of the season features more magic, Mona becomes a regular – despite being essentially a werewolf, and Nora Darhk also, through her friendship with Ray Palmer, joins the crew. It’s not a straight or easy transition for either Nora or Mona. Mona starts as the girl who delivers food to the bureau (and is continuously mind-wiped by Gary) to the creature keeper to falling for a Kaupe named Konané to being scratched/bit by Konané and becoming a Kaupe herself. Mona’s journey includes learning both to control and embrace “Wolfie” – her werewolf side. Nora had escaped the time bureau using the time stone Ray gave her, but when John Constantine goes too far to save a young camper – only Nora can save him. Ray finds her and Nora learns she can use and control her power without becoming evil. She too joins the Legends but is still considered a fugitive.

Throughout the season Nate is mostly based at the Time Bureau, which leads to some interesting confrontations with his father. Henry Haywood seems to behind a plot to torture the captured magical creatures. Too late, Nate, John and the others discover Henry had made a bargain with the demon Neron for funding. When Henry tries to reject the demon, Neron kills him. Nora, a captive herself, feels Neron’s attack but when she tries to stop it, she’s caught and accused, of course, of killing Henry. Fortunately, Ray, Nate, and John believe her when she says she didn’t do it. John discovers Neron’s kidnapped Ava to be a new vessel for his “Tabitha”. John sends Sara to Ava’s personal purgatory to rescue her. It proves to be a test (and a successful one) of their relationship, which has suffered a few setbacks due to the Legends “harboring” Charlie and Nora.

Mona, Zari, Sara, and Charlie end-up solving a magical alert when Jane Austin’s books disappear. Mona not only meets her favorite author, but Zari confronts the Hindu god of love who is causing chaos. Mona is initially upset with Jane’s practical advice on love (marrying for security not love) but when she “wolfs out” and confronts Jane again, Jane is more honest, telling her not only she does believe in love, but that she rejected her only marriage prospect because she didn’t love or respect him. She then says that she and her sister will be penniless. Mona assures her she will publish her writing and it will be timeless, and she is her favorite author. Jane helps Mona to embrace Wolfie. Meanwhile, Zari is nearly talked into marriage by the Hindu god, leading to a fabulous Bollywood-style musical number. The Legends prevent her from making a mistake and free the young man who is being possessed. The unexpected musical number is wonderful!

The rest of the season focuses on finding a way to stop Neron, someone Constantine has failed to stop once. Ray, unfortunately, gets possessed by Neron, and starts a campaign to raise fear and paranoia – he even introduces a new app to report monster sightings. The app’s terms of service include the statement that “in return for using this service the user signs over their eternal soul to the demon Neron”. Neron is gathering souls to confront the Triumvirate that rules Hell. Also, by owning people and stirring up fear, hatred, and paranoia, he makes the atmosphere ripe for all sorts of trouble. When he doesn’t get enough downloads he arranges a “monster attack” during congressional hearings into monsters. Zari remarks that this is how her dystopia started – then they passed the anti-meta act and soon after ARGUS took total control. She and her family were forced to move to a ghetto (restricted living) and later her brother and family were killed – all because of their religion (Muslim). But Nate also discovers his father’s plan wasn’t to “out” magical creatures, or to turn them into weapons, but to capture and train them for a magical theme park called HeyWorld. Zari discovers that if the Legends are able to successfully start HeyWorld and get people to believe magic is well, magical and wonderful, she can save her family and change the future. But she has to stay on the ship in the temporal zone or she’ll lose her memories if time changes.

Constantine finds out that Ray made a bargain to let Neron take him over if Neron didn’t kill Nate. Nate is willing to sacrifice himself – if that’s the only way to stop Neron. The Legends have Mick Rory, now an accomplished romance writer (a thread slowly introduced in season 3), create HeyWorld using the journal of Bridget that creates whatever a writer can imagine. But they still have to convince people that magical creatures are magical and wonderful, not dangerous and evil. Sara, Nate, and Gary try a stage show that is bombing badly (while the Monitor sits in the stands, munching popcorn). But when Tabitha (the fairy godmother), and Constantine (returned from Hell) arrive it becomes more of a confrontation. Nate and Charlie switch places, tricking Neron into “killing” Nate. Zari arrives when she sees that it’s Nate who died. Neron’s hold over Ray is broken and he’s sent back to hell. Zari gets everyone to sing Henry Heywood’s favorite song to revive Nate. But, although the timeline is now safe, and Zari’s dystopia is erased, she is replaced by her brother who is now the air totem bearer. Nate doesn’t seem to remember Zari. In Hell, Astra cashes in the soul coins she stole from Neron’s vault (where Constantine and Nora went in search of Ray’s coin) – in a set-up for next season.

Although not quite as surprisingly wonderful and marvelous as the season finale for Season 3, Season 4 still has a fun finale. I loved the “looking for magic” theme that developed from “magical creatures are evil – send them to hell” to “OK, some magical creatures are all right” to “let’s live in concert and happiness with magical creatures”. And the singing scene was similar to saving Tinkerbell by clapping in Peter Pan. But while the sing-along is going on, Nate has a much-needed final conversation with his father, Hank.

We also get some wonderful girl power this season – Legends has gone from Sara being the only female member of the crew (albeit the captain) to having four members: Sara, Zari, Charlie, and Mona – plus regular appearances by Ava and occasional ones by Gideon as more than just a computer voice. Because the cast, in general, has gotten so large (the guys include Mick, John, Nate, Ray, and Gary) many of the episodes have two or three plots with the crew being split into groups. (Such as the wonderful, “The Eggplant, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” – where Nate and Zari go on a date in the 1930s and find a dragon egg, Ray figures out Nora didn’t kill Hank, and Sara has to save Ava from Purgatory.) This allows the women to shine and work together, while at the same time gives everyone something to do. Even “quarterbacking” from the Waverider isn’t a way to shove a character aside for a story or two. And Sirens of Spacetime – starring Gideon, Ava, and Sara – I just love it!

I highly recommend Legends of Tomorrow, especially seasons 3 and 4 – the show just gets more original and more magical every season and its tons of fun to watch. Because the Legends were not involved in this season’s crossover it is not included on the Blu-Ray or DVD set.

Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 1.
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 2.
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 3.

Supergirl Season 4 Review

  • Series Title: Supergirl
  • Season: Season 3
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Nicole Maines, Jesse Rath, Sam Witwer, Jo Cryer, Andrea Brooks, Bruce Boxleitner
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

The fourth season of Supergirl breaks into two parts, which is why when I missed the first half of the season due to watching Doctor Who instead I didn’t feel all that lost. In the first half of the season, President Marsden (Lynda Carter) is attacked during a conference at Camp David. She’s revealed to be “an alien” and forced to resign. Her replacement is President Baker, played by Bruce Boxleitner, this new president seems obsessed with finding out “the truth” about Supergirl. But more about him in a moment.

Due in part to the revelations about President Marsden, anti-alien sentiment is on the rise. J’onn J’onzz, now a private detective (John Jones) is concerned about this anti-alien feeling. Kara ignores his warnings. Later, a friend of John’s is kidnapped from the alien bar. John meets her fiancé, Manchester Black. They become friends and allies and attempt to find the missing woman. Anti-alien attacks increase, fueled by a mysterious figure known as “Agent Liberty”, and his ruffians, the Children of Liberty, who wear a uniform of black pants, grey hoodies with a large bronze star on the right breast, and “Agent Liberty” masks – robotic-like gold/bronze masks. Whenever one of these agents is caught committing crimes against aliens (beating them up, kidnapping, firebombing homes and businesses, even murder) they claim, “we are all Agent Liberty”. As the attacks worsen, Kara is finally convinced to help J’onn find the mysterious woman and to try to stop the Children of Liberty. They find the woman, but it’s too late. Agent Liberty used an alien device to control her innate psychic powers and then control a large group of aliens and force them to attacks humans at the National County Fair. By the time J’onn and Manchester black find Fiona, she’s dying. This will set Manchester Black on a very dark path.

Although Agent Liberty is responsible for the attack, the aliens are blamed. James Olsen, who had escaped prosecution for being Guardian thanks to intervention by Lena, tries to break up the violence at the Fair. He becomes the Children of Liberty’s “Human Hero”. James considers denouncing the Children of Liberty for a few seconds but then decides to roll with it and go into deep cover to find out more about the organization and uncover Agent Liberty’s identity. President Baker starts to make noises about repealing Marden’s Alien Amnesty Act, which gives aliens civil rights. Baker also puts a new army colonel in charge of the DEO and charges her with finding out as much as she can about Supergirl, including her secret identity. Baker also sees the attack at the Fair as a personal insult to him and a threat to his presidency – something which doesn’t make sense and is the first real indication that something is wrong with Baker.

In an episode ironically called, “Man of Steel”, we find out Ben Lockwood’s (Agent Liberty) background. His father is an extremely prejudiced man who hates aliens, all aliens, and blames them for his own problems. He owns “Lockwood Family Steel”, a steel factory, and feels threatened when a new Nth Metal factory opens in his town, bringing jobs and opportunities for everyone. Even though this new plant offers opportunities to everyone, Lockwood Senior sees it as an “alien threat” out to destroy his factory. He goes to Lena at L Corp to demand she shut down the factory, but refuses her offer of a grant to modernize his own factory and re-train his workers. Initially, Ben Lockwood ignores his father’s prejudice and his wife even tells the man not to use pejorative language in front of their son. Lockwood Senior organizes an attack on the alien factory and attempts to burn it down. Later his own factory closes. The family also loses their home in one of the fights between superheroes and aliens (Ben sees Martian Manhunter knock an alien through his house, which promptly explodes – another scene which makes no sense). Ben is still teaching at a local university when his lectures become increasingly full of lies, manipulations, and slurs against aliens, including alien students. He’s fired after numerous complaints and warnings. (Among Lockwood’s telling quotes, he claims “the framers of the Constitution wrote it to apply to White Men only – not aliens”. Yeah. And apparently, women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, immigrants, and anyone who isn’t a white man doesn’t deserve rights – no wonder he got fired.) Although the entire episode is meant to make Lockwood more sympathetic and understandable (his father dies in a fire in his own factory) it really just shows how Lockwood, like his father, decided “other people” were to blame for his problems. It also shows both Lockwood and his father taking no responsibility for themselves, their actions, or others. Lockwood Senior fires all his factory workers – well before he has to, and also refuses to modernize his factory or re-train his workers. It’s also strange that a man who owns a Steel Factory is portrayed as Middle Class – when he’s more likely to be a billionaire, who could have sold his factory and moved his entire family to Aruba.

Getting back to Supergirl and company – with help from J’onn J’onzz, and Manchester Black – Supergirl finally discovers Lockwood is Agent Liberty, but she is unable to stop him. The situation at the DEO worsens, with one of the agents betraying Supergirl to Col. Haley. When Haley threatens Alex, they have J’onn wipe her mind of the knowledge. J’onn also wipes the mind of every DEO agent who knows who Supergirl is. Brainy is able to compartmentalize his knowledge and even erase it in the short term. But Alex insists she also must be mind-wiped. J’onn agrees. Kara objects, but the mind wipe is done anyway. This changes Alex’s personality, and she becomes as anti-Supergirl as Haley.

Meanwhile, at Catco, Kara takes a new cub reporter, Nia Nal under her wing. Nia and Brainy meet and become friends. Brainy seems to want something more, possibly romantic, in his relationship with Nia. Nia is a trans woman. She also is or will be, the superhero, Dreamer. Brainy knows her, or one of her descendants, in the future. Nia and Brainy are adorable with each other – and Nia is a lovely character. As she becomes aware of her powers, Brainy gives her a notebook of costume ideas, helps her design a costume, and trains her in the use of her powers.

Slowly introduced into the season is Lena working on the Haran-El, a substance she thinks can cure disease but that she later uses to give humans superpowers. We also meet Red Daughter – a clone of Supergirl, discovered in Kaznia, and trained by Lex Luthor, whom Red Daughter calls, Alex. Lex fills her head with propaganda, and when the Alien Amnesty Act is repealed by Baker, has her dress like Supergirl and attack the White House. Supergirl is also there, but helpless, as she’s held in a Kryptonite suit until the attack is over. Supergirl becomes Public Enemy #1. At this point, the connections between Ben Lockwood, Lex Luthor, and President Baker start to become a little clearer. Baker not only pardons Lockwood (who had been arrested for his crimes as Agent Liberty) but makes him the Secretary for Alien Affairs. That’s right – a man who started a radical and violent anti-alien hate group is appointed Head of Alien Affairs. His priority is to abolish the Alien Amnesty Act (which, remember, is basically an Alien Rights Act).

Supergirl continues on, trying to ignore the target on her back, but a chance encounter with a political prisoner at Strikers convinces her to temporarily do more good as Kara Danvers, reporter. She and Lena also examine Lex’s cell, discover he was able to come and go as he liked. Lex had also gotten compassionate leave to see Lena because he had cancer. He pushes Lena to cure it, and when she has doubts – he has James shot and shuts off the power to the hospital during his surgery. Lena uses the Haran-el to save James but decides not to save Lex. Unfortunately, he gets to it first, cures himself, and he and Otis tie-up Lena, then escape. Lena also ends-up with a contract to develop Haran-el into a super serum for the DEO. Lockwood also manages to steal Haran-el from the DEO, during a weapons sweep and injects himself.

But when Supergirl decides to investigate Lex and that leads to Kasnia, Lena joins her. They discover Red Daughter, her training tapes, and a lab where Lex is draining alien powers. Aliens he obtained from “the DEO Desert Facility”. Kara also discovers that Kasnia, led by Red Daughter, is planning an attack on the United States. Kara runs back to DC to inform the president. When she gives President Baker proof of the impending attack, she discovers he knows all about it, and he is Luthor’s stooge. The president has Kara kidnapped and is held in Kryptonite bonds. She and Red Daughter fight and Kara escapes. She goes to Lena and Alex, dressed as Supergirl, but is afraid she will be turned in. Lena and Alex vow to help her. Alex gets a call from her Mom that Kara is at the Danvers home. Supergirl and Alex head there. Supergirl and Red Daughter fight and Supergirl is apparently killed. But Alex, who has broken through J’onn’s mental blocks, remembers that Supergirl is her sister and brings her back. However, Kaznia attacks the US, Lex stops the attack – and Lex kills Supergirl (Red Daughter).

Lena, Alex, Supergirl, Brainy, and Dreamer work to stop this mess that sees Lex as the puppetmaster, pulling Baker’s strings. But it’s Lex’s obsession with finding and destroying Supergirl, as well as destroying Argo – the Kryptonian city in space (where Lois and Superman currently are because Lois is pregnant) that proves his downfall. Kara publishes an article laying out the facts of Lex’s deception, giving the background on Red Daughter, including her attack on the White House, and exposing Lockwood and Baker. The article brings down Baker’s government. The Alien Amnesty Act is reinstated. The aliens that Lockwood rounded-up are released (other than those that Lockwood and Luthor killed by draining them and converting their power to energy).

But unknown to Supergirl, Lex isn’t dead and he escapes. Lena tracks him to Kasnia and shoots him. However, as he’s dying he reveals to Lena that her friend, Kara Danvers, is Supergirl. This devastates Lena.

The second half of Season 4 works better than the first half. Lex Luthor is a formidable opponent. This portrayal shows him as a master manipulator and chess master. Lex actually gives himself cancer by exposing himself to high levels of radiation at a nuclear reactor in Kasnia, so he will be released from prison, sent to see Lena, and she will be forced to finish the Haran-el serum, which she will either use on him or he can use on himself. Lex also recruits Eve Teschmacher to work for Lena and spy for him. But Lex has a fatal flaw – he hates Kryptonians, and is willing to risk everything he gains – simply to kill Superman, destroy Argo, and kill Supergirl and Red Daughter. In essence, Lex’s anti-alien prejudice is what ultimately brings him down.

Ben Lockwood, on the other hand, is a more political and realistic villain, but his rhetoric is full of lies, manipulations, and he’s very good at whipping up fear, distrust, and hatred. Lockwood is a warning for our times, but at the same time, throughout the first half of the season, Kara especially keeps making mistakes – as do the people around her. At first, Kara doesn’t believe J’onn when he says the fear and hatred of aliens is becoming stronger and more dangerous. She even ignores the first few anti-alien attacks. When it becomes too extreme to ignore, Kara tends to trust the wrong people, including Manchester Black, who becomes consumed with the need for vengeance for the death of his fiancée. At least Manchester is straight forward, though his conflict with J’onn is forced. Kara, however, is blindsided by Red Daughter’s attack on the White House. Kara also stands by when Alex agrees to let J’onn wipe her mind of memories of Kara being Supergirl – something that proves to be a very bad idea. Yet there are also wonderful moments, Kara, not Supergirl, standing with Brainy, Nia, and John at the front of an alien counter-protest against Lockwood’s rally to appeal the Alien Amnesty Act. The entire episode where Kara and Nia go to her hometown, a town when humans and aliens have lived in peace together for generations, to visit Nia’s family. Kara’s interview with Dreamer (after Baker declares Martial Law and deputizes the Children of Liberty, freeing Lockwood to round-up innocent aliens). Unfortunately, Kara and her cameraman miss a perfect opportunity when they fail to film Lockwood’s attack on Catco, his men pointing guns at the unarmed Kara and James, and those same jackbooted men in black uniforms trashing Catco. The attack, if presenting on film, would have been as damaging to Lockwood and Baker as Kara’s later article. The series also missed a great opportunity in not having Kara and company prove that the “proof” that Marsden was an alien was faked and restoring her to her rightful position after Baker’s coup. Still, even though the season gets dark and depressing, especially the first ten or so episodes, in the end, Supergirl prevails.

Supergirl also includes the final part of the Elseworlds trilogy and the last episode includes a set-up with the Monitor for this season’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Read my Review of Supergirl Season 1.
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 2.
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 3.