Arrowverse – Elseworlds Review

  • Series: The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl
  • Second Arrowverse Crossover Special: Elseworlds
  • Episodes: 3
  • Discs: Episodes Located in Individual Boxed Season Sets
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum
  • Network: CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

Elseworlds parts 1 and 2 are actually quite humorous, which is different from the previous two Arrowverse Crossovers. Things get more serious in part three, but even then, this crossover isn’t as heavy as the others. The title comes from a series of specials that DC Comics would periodically do (before “Elseworlds” they were also known as “Imaginary Stories”). The Elseworlds stories were “What if” stories – what if Ma and Pa Kent got a flat tire and missed the landing of Superman’s spaceship and he was raised by migrant workers instead? What if Superman’s ship landed in Russia? Even Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” is an Elseworlds tale – technically.

However, CW’s take on Elseworlds doesn’t precisely follow the type of stories DC readers are used to when it comes to that label. Rather the story begins with Oliver waking up in an unfamiliar bed, only to have Iris West-Allen call him to breakfast. She’s convinced he’s Barry. And Barry finds himself sparring with John Diggle at ARGUS – everyone thinks he’s Oliver Queen. Oliver and Barry try to convince everyone who they are – and end up locked in the Pipeline. They escape, and portal to Earth 38 where Kara recognizes them immediately – as their own personas. Since she’s visiting Lois and Clark at the Kent farm, Superman tags along when they return to Earth 1.

Meanwhile, back at Star Labs, Iris explains she let Barry and Oliver go because she felt that Oliver really was Barry. When Barry, Oliver, Kara, and Superman return to Star Labs on Earth 1, everyone accepts the situation and is trying to figure out what happened. And the skies are red and shot with yellow lightning. Cisco says he vibed someone and lets Oliver and Barry see what he saw. It’s Mar Novu, the Monitor. And he’s given the Book of Destiny to Deegan (Dr. Destiny) who is using it to shape reality as he sees fit. Oliver recognizes where Deegan and the Monitor were in the vibe – Gotham City.

Everyone heads to Star City, where the geek squad tries to figure out how to switch Barry and Oliver back as well as investigating the red skies. After a brief giving of assignments session – Barry, Oliver, and Kara head to Gotham. Meanwhile, Caitlin and Cisco arrive in Star City, telling Felicity and Curtis that the red skies and lightning have disappeared from Central City, but they are now strong in Star City. They think someone is trying to breach through – and try to stabilize the breach so whoever it is can get through. We’ve seen this mysterious “breacher” a few times so far as well as in the Elseworlds prologue – it’s the Flash of Earth 90 (John Wesley Shipp).

In Gotham, Barry, Oliver, and Kara have just arrived and are discussing how to find Deegan when they are mugged – at gunpoint. Barry reacts and disarms the muggers, then the police arrive and the three are jailed. As they exit the jail after being bailed out – they are taken at gunpoint, again, this time to Wayne Enterprises. Their mysterious benefactor is Kate Kane, cousin of the now missing, Bruce Wayne. She helps by telling them Deegan is a doctor at Arkham Asylum. However, when they manage to get the book (briefly) – Mar Novu takes it back and gives it to Deegan, again. Kate (Batwoman) Kane is wonderful in this and she and Kara have an instant rapport, even joking about being “World’s Finest” when in costume together. Kate’s costume and even her street-clothes look are also comics-accurate.

In Star City, the mysterious traveler arrives, and tells everyone, including John, that they have to get the book. But when Deegan gets the book again, Oliver and Barry find that they are now the Trigger Twins and they have no power. Furthermore, Earth – or at least Central City, is ruled by an evil version of Superman (really Deegan, though he looks like Superman of Earth 38). Kara’s been locked up in the cells at Superman’s palace (eg, once Star Labs). Kara manages to convince Alex who works as one of Superman’s enforcers to help her by using information from when they were kids. Once again, Barry and Oliver briefly get the book, but Superman/Deegan gets it back. While Barry and Kara run around the world real fast to slow down time – Oliver again sees the Monitor, this time making a devil’s bargain to save Kara and Barry’s lives. They then manage to destroy the Book of Destiny, and a much older Deegan is sent to Arkham where the cell next door is occupied by Psycho Pirate. Kara and Barry live, Superman is back to being Superman (of Earth 38), Lois does not fall to her death, and everything seems to be alright. But the stage is set – the next crossover will be Crisis on Infinite Earths and Oliver has made a promise to the Monitor.

I genuinely love Elseworlds. It’s so much fun, and has a lot of humor to it, especially the Freaky Friday aspects of the story. Or maybe Quantum Leap as the geeky squad (Curtis, Cisco, Felicity, Caitlin, and even Barry) argue. It’s a shorter crossover, but the Legends of Tomorrow episode that aired that week is the classic, and off-the-wall “Legends of To-Meow-Meow”, which is one of my all-time favorites (and there is a passing reference to the crossover in the episode). Deegan comes off as a limited villain who has no idea what to do with the power he’s given. One really has to wonder why the Monitor chose him – and why he gives him so many chances. Mar Novu also comes off as being almost villainous himself, which is a different portrayal than his character in Crisis on Infinite Earths. But I just loved Elseworlds and I highly recommend it. As with the other crossovers, I really wish the CW / Warner Brothers would just put the crossover out on individual DVDs or Blu-rays like a movie with all the parts on a single disk. They finally did that with Crisis on Infinite Earths (but included it in the Arrow Season 8 Blu-Ray set) but I think there’s a market to have the crossovers available separately – maybe in a box set of all four? Also, since the special crossovers are largely self-contained but in some ways lead into each other (especially Elseworlds and Crisis) that’s another selling point for a movie-type release of all the parts. Maybe even with special titles for each crossover?

Read my review of Invasion! The first Arrowverse crossover.
Read my review of Crisis on Earth-X The Second Arrowverse crossover.

Arrowverse – Invasion! Review

  • Series: The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow
  • Second Arrowverse Crossover Special: Invasion!
  • Episodes: 4
  • Discs: Episodes Located in Individual Boxed Season Sets
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Emily Bett Rickards, Victor Garber, Caity Lotz, Chyler Leigh, Franz Drameh
  • Network: CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

The first full crossover event between all four of CW’s DC Superhero shows includes episodes of Supergirl (Season 2 Episode 8: “Medusa”), The Flash (Season 3 Episode 8: “Invasion! Part 1”), Arrow (Season 5 Episode 8: “Invasion! Part 2”), and Legends of Tomorrow (Season 2 Episode 7: “Invasion! part 3”). The Supergirl episode is more of a preview or “part zero” as a breach keeps opening around Kara and then disappearing. Kara meanwhile is dealing with Cadmus releasing a Kryptonian virus that kills all aliens. At the very end of the episode, Barry and Cisco arrive and ask Kara for her help.

Kara joins Barry and Cisco and is introduced to everyone and the plot. An alien spacecraft crashes in downtown Central City, bringing with it some very unfriendly aliens. The Dominators had previously been to Earth in the 1950s where they kidnapped people “for intel” according to Lyla. Kara is introduced to everyone, and as more characters join Barry’s crew – the characters from Arrow and Legends, specifically, everyone is introduced to everyone else. It’s very much like the great comic book crossover events where various characters come together to combat a major threat.

Invasion! is great in that we see all our characters interacting, together, and broken up into smaller groups, each with their individual assignments, including the Waverider heading back to the 1950s to kidnap a Dominator so the heroes can figure out what they want. I enjoyed seeing Cisco, Felicity, Curtis, and Caitlin working together as “Team Science” and “Tech Support”. And since this is just post-Flashpoint for The Flash, everyone is dealing with the repercussions of that, especially Cisco who’s brother Dante died as a result of Flashpoint. Also, the Legends have a message from “future Barry” not to trust current Barry. This brings some depth to a story that otherwise is pretty much just a big fight with all the heroes costumed or not playing their part. This is also the episode that introduces Lily Stein, Dr. Stein’s daughter who was created by his meeting his younger self in an episode of Legends of Tomorrow.

Oliver, Thea, Ray, Sara, and John Diggle are kidnapped by the Dominators and put into a dream state where Oliver and his father never got on the Gambit – so Moira and Robert Quinn are alive and Oliver is about to marry Laurel Lance. John is the Green Arrow. Sara is just living her life. Eventually, Oliver realizes as perfect as this fantasy life is – it’s not real, and they must break out of the illusion. They do and find themselves on an alien spaceship. They escape and their escape craft is rescued by the Waverider before it’s can be destroyed by the Dominators.

Finally, the ultimate plan of the Dominators becomes clear. They consider Metahumans a threat and have come to Earth to eliminate that “threat”. Curiously, Rene Rameriz, Wild Dog, is also showing his hatred and prejudice against Metas and Superheros, basically being a jerk in the one episode where he is heavily featured. He even seems to think eliminating Metas is a good idea.

The heroes have to fight off the Dominators. Firestorm will transmute the Dominator Metabomb into water. Supergirl stands off against the “Man in Glasses” an X-files-like character who was there during the previous Dominator invasion, ordered the torture of one of the aliens, and shows-up when the Dominators do to suppress information about the incident and take charge, even pushing aside Lyla and ARGUS. The Heroes fight is successful. Especially, after their bomb is turned into water the Dominators just leave.

The good about this crossover. It does feel like a big comic book crossover event – with lots of characters (the entire casts of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow are seen at least briefly, and the core casts have featured roles). There are some more emotional parts to the story – Cisco’s visible anger at Barry, though he eventually learns to let go as he realizes after traveling to the past with Felicity in the Waverider how easy it is to accidentally change the past. And Stein’s acceptance of his daughter really works in this story. But, at the end – it’s a slugfest: heroes versus aliens, that’s it.

Although the Supergirl episode is really more of a prologue than a full part of the story, it is thematically linked. Cadmus, led by Lillian Luthor, mother of Lex and Lena Luthor, wants to destroy all aliens, good, “bad”, or indifferent. Actually, as racists, they believe all aliens are bad and must die to leave America clean for the humans. Yes, it’s racist. But at least their plan is seen as evil, and Kara stops it fairly easily, with some help from Lena. The Dominators, who want to eliminate all Metas are the same. They don’t care if some Metas might be good. They consider anyone with power to be a threat and someone that must be eliminated. Again, they are racists who are willing to commit genocide (like Lillian) to preserve themselves. Rene Rameriz is the same – he clearly hates Metas and Superheros and never changes his mind, despite working with a couple dozen people with powers or talented mortals who put on a mask and become a hero.

I recommend Invasion! I do wish that CW and/or Warner Brothers would put all the crossovers out on individual DVDs or Blu-Rays like movies. It is a little awkward to pull out different DVD sets to watch the various episodes. And I had to look-up the order online when I want to watch this again. But it’s a not insurmountable problem, it’s just a little awkward.

You can also read My Review of Crisis on Earth-X the next crossover.

Arrow Season 8 Review

  • Series: Arrow
  • Season: 8
  • Episodes: 9 (Plus Crisis on Infinite Earths)
  • Discs: 3 (Including Crisis on Infinite Earths)
  • Cast: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Katie Cassidy, Audrey Marie Anderson
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Blu-Ray, Color, Widescreen

The first seven episodes of the final season of Arrow are set-up for Crisis on Infinite Earths, followed by the 5-episode Crisis (which is included in its entirety as a special disc in the set), followed by two episodes that tie-up loose ends and potentially set-up new series for the future of the Arrowverse. It’s also Old Home Week – as the Monitor sets Oliver to tasks where he runs into old friends and foes from the past for three episodes. By the third McGuffin Hunt, Oliver begins to doubt the Monitor, but his search for a weapon to use against him really is just yet another Monitor quest. And yes, more cameos by previous players from previous seasons of Arrow. Oliver then meets his grown children, Mia and William, along with Connor, who have time-traveled to the past.

I really liked both Mia and William here. William, I liked in Season 7 too, but it took me a while to warm-up to Mia. Season 8 also wraps-up some of the loose ends for Mia, Connor, and William from Season 7. Once his children return, with some help from Lyla, Laurel (of Earth II, whom Oliver rescued in the first episode of the season) and Oliver learn a few lessons, assemble all the pieces of the McGuffin, and discover they cannot avert the Crisis.

Then Crisis on Infinite Earths happens. One very nice thing about the Blu-Ray set, and the reason I went with Blu-Ray instead of DVD – is the entire Crisis on Infinite Earths mini-series is included, on a separate disc in this set. It’s very nice and even has the Crisis logo on the disc and on the disc menu. This does, however, make the watching order of the set slightly weird. Watch all of Disc 1 (episodes 1-5), then episodes 6 and 7 on Disc 2, followed by Crisis (all of Disc 3), then watch Episodes 9 and 10 on Disc 2. (Crisis Hour 4 is also included on Disc 2 – presumably so you know when to watch Crisis).

After Crisis, in “Green Arrow and the Canaries” we leap to 2040 – and for once it’s not a dystopia. Rene is the mayor of a city with almost zero crime, Star City is bright and beautiful, and Mia, Zoe, and JJ are spoiled rich kids. Laurel arrives and tries to prevent the kidnapping of Mia’s friend Bianca and fails. She finds Dinah Lance and Mia and together they find and rescue Bianca from her kidnappers – hopefully preventing the disastrous dystopia of 2041. Dinah also is a woman without a past who owns a nice bar, where she sings, and lives above it – in what could easily become the Birds of Prey clock tower base of operations. I liked the episode and it set up the possibility of a new Birds of Prey or Canaries series.

The final episode of Arrow Season 8 is basically the Funeral of Oliver Queen. The statue of Green Arrow is revealed to a mournful crowd. At the Queen Estate, family and friends gather at Oliver’s grave – including Moira who is no longer dead, Tommy (also no longer dead), Talia and Nyssa al Ghul, Sara Lance, and others. Moira and Tommy still living have to do with changes to the timeline post-Crisis. We also find out a number of our key characters are moving to Metropolis (meaning they will probably at least make some appearances on the new Superman and Lois Lane-Kent series coming in 2021) and we get a hint about a big change for John Diggle.

I enjoyed Season 8 of Arrow very much. We got to see a lot of characters we hadn’t seen for a while. Loose ends were wrapped up. For once 2040 isn’t a horrible dystopia (though I feel like I need a chart of all the various versions and changes to the Arrowverse timeline because there have been changes due to events in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow too.) The season was just fun to watch, and the first time through you never know who will pop up from Oliver’s past. Also, it felt like Oliver was being shown his past and his connections It’s-a-Wonderful-Life-like to help prepare him for Crisis and the events that happen there. The series really paid off all the hints it’s been laying especially for the last few years. I highly, highly recommend Arrow 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.
Read My Review of Arrow Season 7.

Titans Season 2 Review (DC Universe)

  • Series Title: Titans
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter, Conor Leslie, Curran Walters, Joshua Orpin, Iain Glen
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review includes spoilers for the second season of Titans.

The second season of Titans begins by resolving the cliffhanger from the end of last season. Rachel is able to defeat Trigon the demon with the help of Gar Logan, but not before Trigon temporarily turns the other Titans against Rachel one by one. This breaks her heart and allows him to place a jewel in her forehead. But Rachel and Gar manage to defeat Trigon and send him away.  Rachel gets new powers. Powers she doesn’t understand and doesn’t have much time to learn to harness.

After defeating Trigon, Dick brings everyone to Titans Tower to restart the group. Donna (Wonder Girl), Dawn (Dove), and Hank (Hawk), join Gar (Beast Boy), Rachel (Raven), and Robin (Jason Todd), under Dick’s leadership. Dick is no longer Robin but hasn’t yet become Nightwing. Much of the season will be about his journey to taking both responsibility for his actions and mistakes but also choosing his adult title and path.

While in the Tower they see a woman with extraordinary powers being chased by Deathstroke. They help her and invite her into Titans Tower. She is not only Deathstroke’s daughter, but she isn’t there by accident. Deathstroke and his son, Jericho have a plan to get revenge on the Titans, especially Dick Grayson – and Rose is instrumental to that plan. Dick, in an attempt to keep the youngest Titans safe, leaves Jason, Rose, Gar, and Rachel in the Tower while Hawk, Dove, and Donna assist him in trying to find out more about why Dr. Light and Deathstroke have returned. But on one of their surveillance gigs, Gar and Jason figure out Dr. Light might be hiding in the subway tunnels. Jason, who feels that the only reason Dick left him behind is that he doesn’t trust him, convinces Gar to go with him on a recon mission to the subway. Jason says they will observe and report back. Yeah, that never works out. Once in the tunnel Jason and Gar separate. Then Gar hears screaming. By the time he finds Jason he’s been kidnapped.

Gar tells Dick what happened, then Dick gets a ransom call. Deathstroke will trade Jason for Rose. The Titans talk about it, but it’s a suddenly returning Kory who tells them no. They try to capture Deathstroke at a stadium but it was a false location. Meanwhile, Dick finds Jason by tracking his tracker but it’s too late – Deathstroke removes the tracker. Dick follows to an office building. He arrives but is unable to stop Jason from falling out a window.

The next episode explains what happened five years ago. Garth (Aqualad) was one of the Titans, who happened to look like Brad Pitt – he had a crush on Donna but she ignored him, mostly because she knew she had to return to Themyscira. But in the end, when Garth chases her to the airport, she agrees to be with him – only for Garth to be shot in front of her by Deathstroke. In desperation to get to Deathstroke, Dick decides to befriend his mute son, Jericho. He brings Jericho into the Titans, but not as a hero right away. When he learns of Jericho’s ability to jump into and control other people’s bodies, Dick invites Jericho to join the Titans as a member. Jericho is game but Deathstroke is playing games with all of them. In the end, Deathstroke tries to kill Dick, Jericho gets in the way, Deathstroke kills his son, but not before Jericho jumps into Deathstroke and becomes trapped. So, five years later, it’s Jerico who is after Dick and the Titans.

But Jason is still falling from a high rise window. And in the next episode, we meet Connor, a CADMUS clone and son of Superman and Lex Luthor. We also meet Krypto – a very good Super dog. Connor rescues Jason and saves his life. Then CADMUS shows up and shoots him with Kryptonite bullets. The Titans take him to Titans Tower to recover. His friend, Eve arrives and says out of frustration that, “unless we can take him to the sun” he will die. Kory uses her star power to save Connor and Raven acts as a shield. Connor is still sleepy but he will recover. Krypto guards Connor.

But everyone is shaken up. Jason keeps re-living his fall. Dick is forced to admit just what happened between himself, Deathstroke, and Jericho. Connor’s still asleep. Gar feels guilty about letting Jason go to the tunnels in the first place. Rose is cagey. Rachel doesn’t understand her powers and loses control during training more than once. Everything is falling apart, and when Dick tells the Titans that he lied – Jericho wasn’t already dead when he met Deathstroke at the church but Deathstroke killed him – Donna, Dawn, and Hank have had it. Meanwhile, Kory’s run into people from her planet and she really should go back, since her evil sister Blackfire has stolen her crown and her people are suffering. Everyone splits up. Dick trusts Gar to watch over Connor. Jason and Rose run off together. Connor wakes up and instead of calling Bruce Wayne like Dick requested – Connor explains to him about being a Titan. But on a walk outside, Connor sees a police officer arresting someone, gets confused, and attacks the police – causing a lot of damage. Gar calls Dick for help and advice, but Dick doesn’t get the message. Kory and Donna are also having issues – Kory with trying to get back to her real home and Donna discovering Rachel can’t completely control her powers. Dick, however, has abandoned his phone, id, traveling bag, and everything else, before assaulting an airport cop and being sent to prison. He prison, he meets a group of Hispanics who had left a gang and are now being deported. They plan to escape since they know returning to Santa Prisca is a death sentence. A religious member of the group explains to Dick the legend of Azul – the big bird that watches over his village and it’s people, protecting them from harm. Dick poo-poos this, as well as their plans. But eventually, he’s drawn into helping them escape. While dealing with all his guilt and problems – Dick also continuously hallucinates Bruce Wayne giving him some really bad advice.

Eventually, Rachel, Dawn and Hank (who have split from each other as well as the Titans), Kory, and Donna meet at a Diner in Elko Nevada. Bruce arrives and tells them they need to find Dick, get everyone back together, and permanently stop Deathstroke. And they need to be a team, a family of choice. Essentially, they do just that. The Titans come together as a team. Deathstroke has killed Dr. Light after he was no longer useful to draw out the Titans, but the team goes to find Dick but he’s already escaped his prison. Then go to Titans Tower and find it in shambles. Reports of tiger attacks and a strong man destroying a nearby carnival indicate that CADMUS-controlled Gar and Connor are in trouble. The Titans find the carnival. Rachel talks down Gar who turns into himself. The rest of the Titans stop Connor with Rachel putting Dick into Connor’s mind so he can talk Connor into breaking Cadmus’ programming and become himself. They even manage to arrest all of the CADMUS soldiers. But just as everything is looking OK, despite the damage, Dove goes to comfort a child by returning her doll. Then a huge electrical tower starts to fall, Donna runs to it and it hits her, killing her.

The Titans are devastated by the loss of Donna, but unlike Garth’s death, they are now united. They deliver the body to the Amazons at the airport. Rachel tells Dick she wants to go to Themyscira, and he lets her go. But no doubt she will be back.

I liked Season 2 of Titans, but I didn’t care for all the back and forth and time jumps, which made the story somewhat hard to follow and didn’t add to the story or tension. The characters are more developed than in Season 1 and it was great to see Dick finally become Nightwing in the last episode. Connor is awesome and Krypto steals the show. Actually, I was concerned about Krypto, because he’s also captured by CADMUS with Connor and Gar – but we see him with everyone else at the end. There are still elements to be resolved too. Kory really needs to hitch a lift to Tamaran to sort out her sister. Hank is back on drugs, having survived his split from Dawn by picking up cage fighting. Jason fell in love with Rose and although she “quit” Deathstroke, her journey isn’t over. So there’s plenty for a third season to develop. But this felt more like Titans to me than the first season, and our characters were more themselves, mind games aside. Some of Dick’s hallucinations of Bruce were hilarious and others were heartbreaking. Overall, I recommend this series, it’s definitely worth watching.

Read my Review of Season 1 of Titans.

Swamp Thing The Complete Series Review

  • Series Title: Swamp Thing
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Crystal Reed, Andy Bean, Derek Mears, Ian Ziering, Virginia Madsen, Will Patton, Jeryl Prescott, Maria Sten, Jennifer Beals, Henderson Wade, Macon Blair
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review contains spoilers for DC Universe’s Swamp Thing.

Swamp Thing is a horror series, about a small town in Louisiana named Marais where everybody has a dark secret. But it’s also partly a Beauty and the Beast tale, which, along with the interesting choices for cameos by DC Comics characters is partially why I really, really liked this series – horror aspects notwithstanding. The series opens with Dr. Abby Arcane and her partner in Africa (presumably) and dressed in full Hazmat suits. They enter the dwelling of two young children, where the older boy tries to protect his younger sister from these terrifying aliens. Abby finally removes her helmet and addresses the boy in French, convincing him they are there to help his sister, and of course, he can accompany her. Later, Abby defends her actions to her partner, but he tells her she “was amazing”. The two are infectious disease specialists, working for the CDC. But this is mere prologue, as Abby and her partner, Harlan are sent to Marais because of a strange, unknown disease.

Abby arrives in Marais, a town she has a connection to, as well as having a dark secret. Maria Sunderland, wife of the richest guy in town, is none too happy to see Abby and we get an inkling of why she left Marais – but no details. The disease is strange and seems connected to the nearby swamp. Abby goes into the swamp and meets Dr. Alec Holland. They get together and begin to work together, though he seems more interested in the swamp than the illness that is striking randomly in Marais, whereas Abby is a doctor first. However, as Alec and Abby learn to trust each other and share data and resources, Abby also tells Alec she googled him. She knows he was discredited as a biologist because he faked data in one of his studies. Alec explains that’s why he’s in Marais – to rebuild his reputation. Although not stated outright, it’s also why he took money from Avery Sunderland to fund his research. But Avery has had enough of Alec, he orders his cronies to attack Alec’s boat while he does research in the swamp.

Alec emerges as Swamp Thing (though the name is never used in the series at all) half-Alec half-intelligent walking, speaking plant, and Guardian of the Green. Alec (now Swamp Thing) and Abby will continue to work together. Abby will attempt to find a cure for the “Green Flu” virus and for Alec. They also will unravel many of the secrets of the town. Also in the town is Abby’s old friend, Liz, the daughter of a widower who runs the local bar. Then there’s Daniel Cassidy a stuntman and actor who made a deal and is now trapped in Marais, as well as becoming Blue Devil, the character he played once. Then there’s the Sunderlands – Avery, who runs the town and is involved in dirty dealings in the swamp, including illegal dumping (which is causing the “Green Flu”) and his wife, Maria. Avery’s mistress is the local sheriff, Lucilia Cable, whom he has under his thumb in more ways than one. She’s turned a blind eye to Avery’s corruption for decades – but when he starts involving her son Matt (a deputy) in his schemes and corruption, it will be the last straw.

As Abby and her team work to cure people of the illness that comes from the Swamp, we see how others treat, or in many cases, mistreat the swamp. A group of guys is in the swamp, destroying it when they find a dead, mummified body. The rising of the Rot (the Darkness in the swamp) fights back. Two are killed, and the third returns to town, but he’s been bitten by a tendril of the Rot. He returns to the local bar to wash dishes and starts hallucinating, seeing a snake on his arm. Even though Liz and Delroy (her father) try to control him they are unable to and he stabs his arm several times then sticks it in a running garbage disposal, before dying. It also scratches Delroy. As the police and ambulance respond, Delroy shoots up his own bar with a shotgun. The Sheriff is able to finally subdue him but gets scratched. Delroy is sent to the hospital. Abby arrives at the bar just as Delroy starts shooting (and she helps calm him down). When she talks to Swamp Thing he tells her about The Darkness invading the Swamp. She returns and goes to the hospital but Delroy is now fine. Then she realizes that the Sheriff was scratched and that this darkness causes hallucinations of deep fears and nightmares. Trying to find Lucilia, she finds her at Avery’s Crawfish Boil party. Again, Abby has to calm her down – and she gets scratched. Abby returns to the swamp with the darkness, and Alec, Swamp Thing, heals her.

But now that all the people have been healed, Abby should return to the CDC. But she wants to heal Alec. She’s seen an inkling of what The Green is, but she doesn’t quite understand it. She also has seen the horrors of the Rot and the Darkness that inhabits the Swamp. Abby returns to Atlanta and the CDC. But when she arrives the new head of the CDC is very angry with her. Her samples are taken and she isn’t allowed to oversee the tests. She sees Nathan Ellery at the CDC but doesn’t know he’s the mysterious businessman from the Conclave who is now bankrolling Avery and his new partner, Dr. Woodrue. Abby has one conversation with her old partner, Harlan, who remarks on how much she’s changed.

Later he arrives at her apartment, and the two share pizza, wine, and conversation. By the end of it, Harlan’s agreed to back Abby against their new boss. But he won’t get the chance – he’s kidnapped outside her door and we never see him again. The next morning, Abby’s credentials do not work. She’s taken to a meeting room and Ellery gives her an ultimatum – turn over Dr. Holland or else. Abby tells him no and that he better leave Alec alone and storms out. Abby will return to Marais.

In Marais, Daniel Cassidy is in the hospital. He got hit on the head after he defends Liz from “muggers” sent by Avery, and he’s in a severe coma. Dr. Woodrue injects him with Abby’s sample of Swamp Thing’s tissue. Cassidy wakes up – but is “burning”, covered with blue fire, and we see the Blue Devil. This lands him back in the hospital. The same “studio guy” who made him his cursed offer appears and shows him a horrific future where Abby and Liz are murdered by Conclave troopers. Cassidy breaks out of the hospital so he can stop it. Meanwhile, Abby and Liz are trying desperately to find Alec who is not in the swamp. They know Avery, Ellery, and company have kidnapped him. Liz looks for properties owned by Avery and finds his wife is transferring everything into her name. But they also find an old factory that matches a picture Abby stole. They head there to find Alec.

At the factory, things start to resemble the vision that Daniel had. But Blue Devil attacks and kills the troopers. Abby and Liz are able to escape, find Alec, and help him escape. Meanwhile, Avery has his wife, Maria, locked up in a mental institution. Matt gets drunk at Delroy’s bar after he has a fight with his mother. That night, driving very drunk, he gets in a one-car accident. Lucilia attends him at the hospital. Avery shows up promising to marry Lucilia after he divorces Maria. Lucilia turns him down. When she leaves the hospital, Avery is waiting for her inside her car. He stabs her, then drives her to the swamp. Locking her in the trunk, he watches (tinted in red) as her sheriff’s car sinks into the swamp.

Swamp Thing and Abby arrive at the Swamp. Swamp Thing keeps saying he has to know if it’s true. He walks into the Swamp and returns with a body in his arms. But Abby tells Swamp Thing that not only did she care for Alec, but she cares for what he’s become. She sees his humanity and through him she sees the Green. The two are united.

Woodrue finds his wife, Caroline, who is suffering from advanced early-onset Alzheimer’s, at their home after she overdoses on medication. He takes his samples to make her a cure. When she seems afraid to eat the cooked heart of Swamp Thing (Can you blame her?) Woodrue eats some of it himself. Abby arrives and tries to call 911. Woodrue attacks Abby. The police arrive and stop him, and Caroline is taken to the hospital by ambulance without taking Woodrue’s “cure”.

Swamp Thing is a spooky, intense series. It unravels like a mystery as Abby’s arrival in Marais causes secrets to be revealed (at least to the audience). Lucilia and Maria plot to kill Avery, but Swamp Thing finds him and heals him – an act of compassion that’s probably his one and only mistake. (It leads to Swamp Thing being captured by goons in the swamp and Dr. Woodrue experimenting on him.) Avery’s revenge includes putting Maria in a mental institution and killing Lucilia. Woodrue has eaten part of Swamp Thing, but we don’t get to see him become the Floronic Man as a result. Cassidy is finally free of the Blue Devil’s curse as it left him at the factory and entered one of the soldiers. He leaves Marais. Swamp Thing defends his swamp from Ellery’s men the second time they arrive, kills most of them, and tells Ellery to leave and never return. And yes, Swamp Thing and Abby are together.

Again, this is a spooky, intense horror series. It’s extremely well-shot. For a series that largely takes place, at night, on the water, in a swamp -you can actually tell what’s going on all the time, without it looking over-lit or like it’s filmed in a studio. That may sound like an “ok so” statement, but you’d be surprised how often scenes at night are too dark and the viewer can’t follow the action. Or, conversely, scenes outdoors look like a backlot or studio. Abby is a great character and if you’ve read Constantine from DC Comics, you know she will become Avatar of the Red, part of the balance that Swamp Thing seeks. Abby’s continuing journey could have made for a great second season, as could have following up on Blue Devil and the Floronic Man. We also see Madame Xanadu but other than warning Maria about the Darkness she’s released, she doesn’t get to do much. And Jim Corrigan, the Phantom Stranger, appears to Swamp Thing about halfway through the season to give him a pep talk about destiny. All of these characters are great and could come back or have more to do in a second season. It’s really too bad that DC Universe canceled this show. What we got is great, and I recommend watching it, but I for one would love to see DC Universe bring the show back.

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.