iZombie Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: iZombie
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 3 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

Below are many spoilers for the third season of iZombie.

The third season of iZombie is very short, thus there is no time for simple placeholder murder mysteries that remind the viewer of the general plot. However, unlike the previous two seasons, there also is no A leads to B, B leads to C plot of uncovering a larger mystery either – so even though the season is short, it also feels a bit unfocused.

Picking up from where Season 2 left off, Fillmore-Graves is shown to be a zombie company – everyone who works there, from upper management to soldiers, even children at the company school are zombies. The female CEO explains to Liv and Major that not only does Fillmore-Graves employ only zombies, they own an island, and they are working on the infrastructure – she hopes to move all zombies to this island before D-Day or “Discovery Day”. Major is soon employed as a Fillmore-Graves soldier.

Meanwhile Don E has started a zombie-only underground club called, “The Scratching Post”. He and Blaine’s father steal all of Blaine’s customers that were getting brains from Blaine at the funeral home. We also discover that Blaine’s father is an abusive son-of-a-bitch – and he was responsible for Blaine’s mother’s death and his grandfather being put away in a nursing home. Blaine’s father truly cares for no one – especially his son, and takes every opportunity he can to hurt others, especially Blaine.

Blaine, meanwhile, turns out to be faking his amnesia – the cure works, and the memory loss is only for a few days. Major takes the cure before they find this out though. He heads home to Walla Walla, Washington, then returns to Seattle. When his colleagues at Fillmore-Graves find out he’s human, he’s fired. Major begins a relationship with a woman who claims to believe he’s not the Chaos Killer, but unbeknownst to him – she’s a reporter for a tabloid. He also gives a dose of the cure to Natalie, the zombie call girl from season 2 that he rescued from suicide.

Don E gets sick of being abused and pushed around by Blaine’s father. Blaine is nearly killed (more than once) but turned back in to a zombie. Blaine and Don E team up again. Blaine dumps his father in a well, and feeds him brains to survive.

Meanwhile – the first case of the season is the death of a young boy and his entire family. It turns out Clive had known the boy and his mother (they lived nearby in his apartment building) but hadn’t seen them in awhile. Clive is devastated at the loss, especially after being reunited with the boy, Willie, at Fillmore-Graves. Because he’s close to the case, he isn’t allowed to investigate and it’s assigned to another homicide detective. Clive and Liv investigate anyway, throughout the season.

Liv and Clive discover Willie and his family were killed because they were zombies. The find a neighbor who’s part of a hate group, posts to message board filled with theories about how zombies are real – and even outs the family as zombies (or “brain eaters” as they put it) and publishes their address. This doxing led to the family’s death. The hate group is supported by a local radio personality – who uses the idea of “zombies being real” to stoke hate, to encourage physical violence, and, of course, to stir-up anti-government feeling – blaming “Big Government” for zombies, when it was the Corporation Max Rager who created and released the zombie virus in the first place. In the last episode, however, Liv learns that it wasn’t the zombie-hater who lived next to Willie and his family who killed them. They planned to, but were outside the residence when they were killed. Although Liv and Clive don’t know who did it – it’s implied to be someone from the Fillmore-Graves Corporation.

Three episodes in to the season, the female CEO at Fillmore-Graves is killed. She’s replaced by a more militant leader. He’s also the one who fires Major for being human – and rehires him when Major tells him he wants to be a zombie again.

In the last two episodes of season 3 of iZombie, as has become traditional for this show – everything changes. With the moderate head of Fillmore-Graves dead, the militant side of Fillmore-Graves takes over. They do not believe they can simply separate themselves from humans and live quietly. So they hatch a plot – the Aluesian Flu is released on a flight from Paris to Seattle. As more and more people get sick and even die from the deadly flu – a vaccination program is ordered. The Fillmore Graves zombies then infiltrate the storage sites for the vaccine and inject zombie blood into the vials of vaccine. Soon, the vaccinated Seattle natives turn in to Zombies. Liv is manipulated to breaking in to news anchor Johnny Frost’s broadcast to give the truth about zombies. And the head of the Fillmore-Graves military, Chase Graves, plays a video. He explains that a large portion of Seattle’s inhabitants are now zombies – but that they are normal other than their unusual dietary requirements. He says that Fillmore-Graves will provide brain mush tubes to Seattle’s zombies (they had already developed the technology for a side-effect free brain mush compound – and it was fed to all personnel and soldiers at the corporation). Stating that “a fed zombie is a happy zombie” he vows that no zombie will feed on the living, that all the zombies in Seattle can be properly fed if just 1 in 10 brains from natural deaths in other areas of the country are sent to Seattle. Chase Graves also remarks that Fillmore-Graves Corporation will establish zombie police and courts to deal with zombie-on-zombie crime. Some humans flee, but no doubt others will stay. The ending montage shows Fillmore-Graves soldiers, including Major, handing out brain tubes, and turning humans who are mortally sick with the flu into zombies.

Ravi also claims to discover a vaccine to prevent zombie-ism, which he puts on a sugar cube (like the polio vaccine) and eats. He then has Liv scratch him to test it.

So the season is a bit weird. In the first episode, there are two victims, a father and his teenaged daughter – so Liv has the brains of the father and Major the brains of the daughter. Watching Major on “teenaged girl brains” is hilarious! It made me appreciate the actor a lot more and added to his character – it was a shame this only happens once, as the rest of the time, Major eats the Fillmore-Graves Corporation-provided brain tubes and has no personality changes or visions. And as horrible as the military-arm of Fillmore-Graves’ plot is – the first CEO’s plan of “Zombie Island” probably wouldn’t have worked – no doubt radical, prejudiced people would have destroyed the entire island. But, on the other hand, turning most of the population of Seattle into zombies, many without their knowledge or consent, has just created a “larger island” – and it will be interesting to see if that plot point is picked up in season four or not. And Fillmore-Grave is implied to have been behind the deaths of the CEO and her secretary and helicopter pilot, Willie and his family, and several Fillmore-Graves soldiers both throughout the season and at Major’s “going away” party. So, they aren’t exactly to be trusted when they are willing to kill their own people to get what they want.

Meanwhile, Blaine has become one of the most complicated and interesting characters on the show. Lounge singer “cuddly Blaine” who has an affair with Payton, I actually quite liked. I felt bad for him when Payton rejected him, especially as by then we know about his past and the physical, mental, verbal, and other abuse inflicted on him by his father and the world’s worst nanny.

Don E also has grown up a bit – running The Scratching Post is clearly all he wants. He has no desire to franchise out, or expand (like both Blaine’s father and Blaine himself would like to do). Don E is happy being a big fish in a small pond, which is an admirable trait. He also shows a strange sense of loyalty – to Blaine, to Liv and Major (covering for Major when he enters the zombie-only club as a human).

Overall, I found iZombie Season 3 to be a quick watch (I finished it last Saturday, 12/9/2017, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to type up a review). Although there were parts of season 3 that were very uncomfortible (the racist anti-zombie humans, the portrayal of Fillmore-Graves as “zombie saviors” even though they had killed several zombies to get in to power, including Willie and his family, etc.), overall the show is still very, very good, and I will certainly purchase season 4 next year.

Read my Review of Season 1 of iZombie.

Read my Review of Season 2 of iZombie.

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iZombie Season 2 Review (Spoilers)

  • Series Title: iZombie
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 19
  • Discs: 4 (Blu-Ray)
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka, Steven Weber, Leanne Lapp, Greg Finley
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

Many spoilers below for the second season of iZombie.

iZombie Season 2 opens with a couple episodes designed to remind the audience of the plot. Additionally, the first two brains that Liv consumes are of “asshole victims” – so the audience has no sympathy for them. Liv Moore is a Zombie, having been scratched by a Zombie at the world’s worst boat party. She now works in the morgue, for access to brains, with Ravi – the only person at the start of the season who knows she’s a zombie. Liv also works with Clive Babineaux, a Seattle PD detective who thinks her insights to his cases come from psychic visions. Since eating brains allows Liv to absorb the personality of the brain she’s just consumed and to experience visions of what the person experienced, Clive is somewhat correct about the visions part. The first few episodes of the season fall in to a regular pattern – Clive is called to a homicide, Liv and Ravi respond as well, the body’s taken to the morgue, there’s a curiously yummy montage of Liv preparing the brain to eat (these are surprisingly yummy – substitute beef, chicken, or tofu for the brains and Liv’s recipes would probably be *good*) and Liv uses her visions and personality changes to help Clive solve the murder. But about episode 9 or 10 the series focuses more and more on the continuing storyline and how each character fits in and changes.

About episode 9 or 10 – Payton returns. Payton is Liv’s old roommate who found out at the end of the first season that Liv was a Zombie – she freaked out and left Seattle. Back in town, Payton is now a District Attorney, who is trying to make a case against Mr. Boss – the kingpin of Seattle’s mafia. Very quickly Blaine becomes her star witness and the two also become involved. Payton lives with Ravi and Major for awhile, briefly gets her own apartment, then moves back in with Liv.

Blaine, last year’s “Big Bad” is now running Shady Plots funeral home – mostly as a front to get brains to sell to Seattle’s zombies, and as a front for selling Utopium. That is, until Mr. Boss gets wind of his trying to muscle in on the lucrative Utopium trade. Blaine has two lackies, a mute, giant zombie, called “Chief”, – and Don E – a ambitious low-level drug dealer who eventually is turned into a zombie (by his own choice). Blaine also has a very difficult relationship with his abusive father. Blaine walks in to Payton’s office one day and offers to give her all the inside information she could ever want to make a case against Mr. Boss. Blaine’s mostly doing this to get rid of the competition. Blaine’s life (he’s also now cured of his zombie-ism) is going fine – his cover as a “businessman” running Shady Plots is working. Payton’s office will give him immunity for any old crimes, mostly related to drugs, in return for his information and testimony, and Blaine is making money from selling Utopium and brains. However, Ravi discovers the zombie cure is temporary – eventually it will wear off, and be followed by death. Ravi makes a second cure, but, again, is unable to fully test it before giving a syringe of it to Blaine. Later, after first reverting to zombie-form, Blaine becomes convinced he’s dying. He takes the cure and becomes a total amnesiac.

Major Lilywhite also is human again, thanks to Liv giving him the cure. He’s in the same position as Blaine, though, he will eventually become a zombie again. He gets some work as a personal trainer, but is also hired by Max Rager – there, he is blackmailed into tracking down zombies and killing them. Vaughn, the head of the Max Rager company has a list of 322 suspected zombies. He blackmails Major into killing the zombies, or Liv will die. At first, Major kills the people he finds out were actual zombies (he can now literally sense a nearby zombie). However, Major’s conscious kicks in, so he starts telling Vaughn that the suspects aren’t zombies. When that doesn’t work – Major knocks out the zombies with drugs, then drops them in a freezer. Later, Major also reverts to being a zombie.

Clive, besides working on the weekly murders, gets a new partner, a female FBI agent who is looking in to the “Chaos Killer” serial murders. Major’s crimes have not gone unnoticed, and as the case is thought to involve kidnappings – the FBI starts to investigate. Clive also very gradually starts to fall for the FBI agent.

At the beginning of the season Liv and Major get back together romantically, but as they cannot have sex without Major becoming a zombie – Liv eventually sets him free. Liv also has a roommate briefly, before Payton returns – but Rita is actually a Max Rager executive who is keeping tabs on her. Rita also has a brief affair with Major who later dumps her. And Rita turns out to be Vaughn’s daughter.

Much of the season has Ravi trying to find a cure – first he needs a sample of the tainted Utopium that caused zombism in the first place. He briefly gets a sample from Blaine – but it’s destroyed. Once he gets a new sample – it causes severe issues. Given to a zombie it kills them, turning the zombie to dust. Batch two causes the newly-human former zombie to be a complete amnesiac. Also, Ravi and Liz seem to think it was only the tainted Utopium that caused people to become zombies, forgetting about the Max Rager energy drink being part of the equation (or it’s never really mentioned).

After giving up Major, Liv starts dating Drake, one of Blaine’s lackies – but he’s also working for Mr. Boss – but he’s also an undercover vice cop. Unfortunately, Liv had dumped him when she found out he worked for Mr. Boss, before discovering he was a cop from the Drake’s mother. Major, meanwhile, sees his name on the list, and knocks him out and freezes him.

The conclusion of the season is, wow – but very violent. In a season where more and more and more people find out that Liv is a zombie, and more people in general find out that zombies exist in Seattle, it seems for awhile that Det. Clive Babineaux is the only one who doesn’t know what is going on. He finds out in the penultimate episode. Major is arrested for the the “chaos killer” murders – creating a extremely dangerous situation because he’s trapped in jail without proper food so to speak. Clive, after discovering Liv is a zombie, scuttles the case against Major, getting him released (and destroying his relationship with the FBI agent). Liv, Major, and Clive resolve to break in to the secret lab at Max Rager to release Liv’s zombie boyfriend, Drake, and all the others that have been taken from Major’s storage facility. It does not go well.

The final episode is utter, bloody chaos. Zombies escape the lab, attacking the Max Rager employees locked in to a prison-themed “Super Max” party. Meanwhile, Vaughn has sold his company, including the secret lab and all the zombie research within to a private military contractor. Vaughn’s daughter, Rita, is also turned into a zombie – and Vaughn imprisons her in the basement, which makes her very angry indeed. Although Drake dies – many of the intelligent zombies are released, while the more violent “romeros” are killed off (it’s a bloody episode). Major ends up trapped in a room of recovering intelligent zombies who remember him as the guy who knocked them out and froze them. Liv discovers the woman running the military contracting company is a zombie who plans to make Seattle the capital of Zombie Nation.

The second season of iZombie is as good if not better than the first. The first few episodes remind viewers very effectively of the plot and actually even create a good starting point if the viewer hadn’t seen season 1. Although the first few episodes seem to be heading in a formulaic direction, about episode 9 or 10 the series focuses more on the continuing storyline and less on weekly murder-of-the-week procedural stories. This draws in the viewer. Each of the characters experiences a great deal of change. And Clive finally is told the truth. I like this series a lot and I highly recommend it.

Plead read my iZombie Season 1 Review as well.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Breakfast at Tyranny’s

  • Title: Breakfast at Tyranny’s
  • Author: Nick Abadzis
  • Artists: Giorgia Sposito, Valeria Favoccia, Arianna Florean, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  Tenth Doctor (Year 3 – “Facing Fate”, Vol. 1)
  • Characters: Tenth Doctor, Gabby Gonzales, Cindy Wu, Anubis (“Noobis”)
  • Collection Date: 2017
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/08/2017

I absolutely love the title of this volume of Titan Comics Doctor Who original graphic novel adventure for the Tenth Doctor (as played on the BBC series by David Tennant), Breakfast at Tyranny’s, however the title really has little to do with the actual stories. Still, it’s a great title. This is the opening volume of the Third Year of Titan’s Tenth Doctor series, yet they have changed the numbering so rather than having it officially as Volume 8 as it should be, it’s “Facing Fate vol. 1”, which, I’m guessing will be the theme for Year Three.

The story opens with the main characters back in their old lives. Gabby is working as a waitress at her family’s restaurant, where she experiences the daily abuse of being in customer service. Cindy and her “dog”, Anubis, are also back home where Cleo starts a relationship with her that revolves around a lot of shopping. And the Doctor wakes homeless and alone on the streets, with no companions and no TARDIS. It’s Cindy who discovers the mysterious “department store” is the center of this cruel illusion and wakes up. With mental encouragement from Anubis (“Noobis”) she wakes in an Axon-like spaceship and breaks free of the loop where she is being held captive and drained of her energy. She returns to the illusion to break out Cindy, Anubis, and the Doctor. Although they break free of the illusion then escape the strange, organic spaceship, when they return to Anubis’s home, they learn from the Seekers they were only gone a few moments. The organic spaceship, which looks like a Red Tardis escapes, grabbing Cindy with a Lovecraftian tentacle.

The Doctor, Gabby, and Cindy follow in the Doctor’s TARDIS, and after an accidental Time Ram they land in Ancient China. But the alien Red Jade General landed months earlier. Arriving after a devastating flood, he offers to build a wall to prevent the river from causing such destruction again. Unfortunately for the people, they do not realize the high cost of trusting this General. When the Doctor and company arrive, a dam has been built to hold back the river, the town is behind the wall but isolated from the rest of the country, meaning friends and relatives from the next town over can’t see their friends and family any more. The dam is also guarded by personifications of elemental forces.

The Doctor and his companions meet Master Wu and his son. Much of the second story is framed as a story that Master Wu Wei tells his son. Master Wu recognizes the Doctor, and before long they have organized the families of the people in the village to attack the Guardians. Anubis assists Gabby who uses her ability to create block transfer butterflies to enter the isolated town. The villagers, with the Doctor’s help, defeat the Guardians. Gabby finds a building and searches for Cindy. She finds hundreds of Cindy Clones, whom she stirs up in rebellion. Eventually she finds “the original”, “mother”, Cindy.

By this time, the Doctor also gets in after Gabby opens the door, and the Doctor and company confront the Red Jade General. It turns out that the Red Jade General is from a Nestene Conscience-type race, who can manipulate organic matter rather than plastic. Unfortunately, it used the residents of the town as raw material to create the Cindy clones. The Doctor is able to defeat the Red Jade General and destroy it’s fake TARDIS, then he and his companions leave in the TARDIS.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel volume, especially the second story set in Ancient China. The artwork for both stories was wonderful, especially the washed, scroll-like pages for the second story. I highly recommend “Breakfast at Tyranny’s”, and will look forward to future volumes.

Book Review – Star Trek Green Lantern vol. 2: Stranger Worlds

  • Title: Star Trek/Green Lantern vol. 2: Stranger Worlds
  • Author: Mike Johnson
  • Artist: Angel Hernandez, Mark Roberts, Andworld Design
  • Characters: Capt. Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Chekov (ST 2009); Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kilowog, Carol Ferris, Guardians, Saint Walker, Sinestro, Khan, LarFleeze, Atrocitus, Manhunters, Klingons
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: IDW Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/27/2017

Stranger Worlds picks up where the previous volume, Spectrum War left off, with the Lanterns learning to adapt to life in the Star Trek film reboot universe. Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Kilowog, and even Guy Gardner have a problem – with no individual lanterns and no Great Power Battery their rings cannot be re-charged, and they are running out of power. Hal and Carol Ferris are now members of Starfleet but not together. Carol, in fact, has joined the engineering department and fallen for Montgomery Scott. However, Carol can still become a Star Sapphire by using her ring, but has the same problem as the other Lanterns – she’s running out of power. John, Kilowog, and Guy are on Earth, but are soon called in to help Star Fleet.

Before long, Sinestro and Atrocitus show up. Atrocitus finds Khan (the Benedict Cumberbatch Khan from the reboot film) by landing on the asteroid where he and his Augments were put in suspended animation. Sinestro discovers the Manhunters and wants them to lead him to Oa so he can find the yellow impurity in the Great Lantern Power Battery and impose an empire of Fear. Khan, on the other hand, takes Atrocitus’ red power ring but can’t seem to use it. When he kills Atrocitus, he is then able to use the Ring of Anger with it’s full power.

The Enterprise crew, discovering the Manhunters, and learning their history from the Lanterns, must decide if they will go to Earth to stop Khan and his genetic augments or go to Oa. Hal Jordan convinces Kirk and Spock that Sinestro is the bigger threat.

The Enterprise and the Lanterns reach Oa. The Guardians exists, and are in very early days for their researches into the color spectrum and harnessing it’s power. Sinestro attempts to take and corrupt the power battery. He fails. The Green Lanterns recite their oath – and the rings are fully charged. They also swear to find the other power batteries. Something which should be much easier, now that they have found the Guardians. The Guardians will start a new Green Lantern Corps.

In the concluding pages of the volume, Hal offers to lead Kirk to an uncharted star system with a big, red, sun.

I enjoyed Stranger Worlds. The Star Trek and Green Lantern universes mesh well together. The art for this volume, especially the full-page spreads, is beautiful. The characterizations are also very well done, especially considering how large the cast is. I hope that IDW continues to publish additional volumes in this series, because I would certainly read them.

The previous volume was concerned with introductions and set-up. This particular volume is concerned with normalizing the situation – getting the Lanterns their power back, fighting the negative rings again (the orange ring of Larfleeze and the Red Ring used by Khan are captured and put in stasis to keep them from being used by anyone). Khan himself is defeated. Sinestro, not so much, but he fails to turn the Green Power Battery into a yellow one. St. Walker is mentioned, and has been captured, and finding him and helping him recover is sure to be grounds for another story. No mention is made of the Enterprise crew members that were chosen by other rings in the previous volume. There are situations in this volume that are a bit confusing here and there, but overall it is a fun tie-in SF story and highly recommended.

Book Review – Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2: Who Is Artemis

  • Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2: Who Is Artemis?
  • Author: Scott Lobdell
  • Artist: Dexter Soy, Mirko Colak, Tom Derenick, Kenneth Rocafort, Veronica Gandini, Dan Brown, Taylor Esposito
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Red Hood (Jason Todd), Artemis (of the Amazons), Bizarro (Superman’s clone)
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/23/2017

**Spoiler Alert** I enjoyed volume 2 of Red Hood and the Outlaws just as much as I enjoyed volume 1, and I also read volume 2 twice. Jason Todd, Bizarro, and Artemis are turning out to be a great team, if not exactly conventional – although that is part of the charm. Volume 2 starts off with Red Hood (Jason Todd) challenging a group of mobsters and drug lords. He basically tells them to leave Gotham now or else. The mobsters of course do not listen. Bizarro joins the fight and when Killer Croc arrives to help the villains, he destroys Killer Croc. However, this croc is a fake, a robot. The gangsters are angry that they didn’t get the “merchandise” they paid for – but Jason is concerned about Bizarro’s actions and violence. However, when Jason asks specifically if Bizarro knew Croc was not alive – Bizarro states he knew.

Returning home to their hideout, Jason talks to Artemis who has discovered more information about Bizarro. The Superman clones from Cadmus have all been extremely violent, and Lex Luthor had ordered their destruction. Bizarro escapes. Next, Jason and Bizarro are on a hill in the country overlooking Gotham. Bizarro talks of his memories and then states that he knows they aren’t real. However, he also wants to make new memories with “Red Him” (Red Hood) and “Red Her” (Artemis). Jason considers shooting Bizarro, but changes his mind.

Artemis and Jason look for information to help her find the Bow of Ra. This leads them to Qurac. Both Jason and Artemis must confront their pasts as well as learning to trust and rely on each other and Bizarro. Jason is quickly captured by soldiers. He’s taken to the exact place where he died as a teenager (see A Death in the Family). Jason not only must confront his memories of what happened and his feelings and anger at the Joker for causing his death, but he hallucinates his own wounded body and has to confront the spirit. Jason is able to conquer his fears, his memories, and his triggers.

Jason then realizes from conversations with the local dictator that it isn’t the dictator who has the Bow of Ra. The dictator of Qurac had it at one point, and in trying to use it, Artemis’s once friend, Akila (the Shim’tar) was brought back from the dead (something Jason has unique experience with) and the experience left her, well, less than sane (something else that Jason has experience with). But Jason also learns the dictator no longer has the deadly weapon. And if he no longer has it, there is only one other person who could – and who was incidentally responsible for the slaughter in the country of Qurac.

Meanwhile, Artemis seeks out her friend. She is welcomed back with open arms to the company of Amazons. Slowly she begins to suspects something is wrong, but she accepts Akila’s tale that the dictator is responsible for everything.

Meanwhile, Bizarro locates a band of refugees and attempts to aid them. Bizarro gives the impression of a simple but gentle giant – like the “monster” in some versions of Frankenstein (essentially the “monster” isn’t monstrous – it’s the people around him and by their reactions that become monsters). The people treat Bizarro well when he tries to help, but when their trek ends at the base of a mountain, one man explodes in anger.

The final conflict is between the soldiers of Qurac, the Amazons-in-exile, Artemis, Jason, and Akila. Jason quickly convinces Artemis that the dictator doesn’t have the Bow of Ra. Artemis realizes only Akila could have it. She confronts Akila who admits attacking the citizenry of Qurac with it, because she wishes her people to be free. There is a battle. Bizarro knocks his way through the mountain and joins in. Artemis realizes she is also Shim’tar – a position both women had battled and trained for. She picks up the Bow and fires an arrow at Akila. The power of the bow does not harm Artemis but flows through her. It hits Akila full force, who is overwhelmed and about to explode with considerable power (not to mention damage). Bizarro flies her straight up, where she explodes out of harms way of any innocents. Bizarro falls to Earth and appears dead.

Again, Red Hood and the Outlaws is an impressive book. The characters are deep and complex. Although all three may be termed “anti-heroes”, none would violate their own personal code for personal gain or to harm others. Even when confronting gangsters, Jason, surprisingly finds a less terminal way to get them out of Gotham. Jason would be appalled if Bizarro were to use extreme force. Artemis is in many ways the same – she can be extremely violent, especially if the Bow of Ra becomes a permanent part of her kit. Yet, she also has a code. And it may be her code that led to her friend to be chosen by the gods to hold the Bow. Yet it now appears Artemis was chosen instead – or she is certainly chosen now. Bizarro is, well, he’s the gentle giant – he wants to help and is slowly learning his own strength and how to limit that. Jason now knows he can trust Bizarro within limits. However, at the end of the current volume, Bizarro is dead. That most certainly won’t last, because: comics. Red Hood and the Outlaws is a surprisingly well-written, intense book with complex, driven characters. I do feel it needs to expand a bit and additional team members brought on board, but overall I am very impressed and will continue to buy the series in graphic novel format.

Book Review – Tenth Doctor vol. 7: War of Gods

  • Title: War of Gods
  • Author: Nick Abadzis and James Peaty
  • Artists: Giorgia Sposito, Warren Pleece, Arianna Florean, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  Tenth Doctor
  • Characters: Tenth Doctor, Gabby Gonzales, Cindy Wu
  • Collection Date: 2016
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 9/29/2017

War of Gods concludes Year Two of Titan Comics Tenth Doctor series. The story picks up immediately from where the previous volume ended – with Sutekh taking over Anubis on the Shining Horizon space ship. Sutekh had hidden a splinter of himself in Anubis and now sought to take over. There is a flashback to the aired episode, “The Pyramids of Mars”, with the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane, and it’s explained that Sutekh hid himself in a pocket universe, rather than dying. Sutekh also gathers several other evil beings, such as the Great Nocturne from the last volume, in order to absorb their energy, though they think at first that Sutekh will release them. One being is used to stop up the tunnel between the Shining Horizon and the pocket universe. Sutekh threatens all: Gabby, Cindy, Dorothy, the Doctor, and Anubis. However, The Doctor and company are able to stop Sutekh, and Dorothy sacrifices herself. Anubis survives and is made young and innocent by exposure to Dorothy’s abilities. The story is well-told, with great art, and concludes the year-long arc.

The second story in this issue is a bit problematical – the Doctor and Gabby are in the TARDIS – with no mention as to what happened to Cindy. The TARDIS is pulled off course by the Randomizer, and lands in modern London. The Doctor tries to leave immediately – but he and Gabby hear a scream for help. They confront hologram monsters, and the real monsters behind them who are trying to invade Earth after their prison was weakened by Sutekh’s actions. The Doctor is tortured with visions of seeing those he cares about getting hurt: Martha, Rose, Donna, even Gabby. Some of what the Doctor sees is memories – some is actually happening in the moment. The Doctor talks the human conduit into rejecting the monsters and they are pushed back into their prison.

The problem with the second story, besides a story that comes off as too simple, is the truly appalling art. The Doctor doesn’t look right at all – actually looking more like the Eleventh Doctor than the Tenth. Gabby also doesn’t look right. Everyone in the story, including the guest characters, has a long, lean look that’s distorted. The story tries to make a point about the Doctor’s fear of loss, but it falls flat in a story that doesn’t quite work. I also missed Cindy who disappeared for no reason.

Still, overall 3.5 Stars out of 5 and this volume is recommended for the first story, which, as usual, has lovely art, a great story, and excellent characterization.

Supergirl Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Supergirl
  • Season: Season 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Floriana Lima, Chris Wood, David Harewood
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review contains spoilers for the second season of Supergirl.

With it’s second season, Supergirl switches over to the CW, which frankly, is where the show belongs instead of on CBS. Also, Supergirl is now officially part of the CW DC-verse (aka the “Arrowverse”) and this season of the show includes two crossovers. Click here to read my Season 1 review of Supergirl.

There are some character changes for Season 2, Cat Grant is in the first two episodes, but then she leaves to find herself, putting new reporter, Kara Danvers, in the care of Snapper Carr. The opening episodes with Cat show her both as her acerbic self and as a mentor to Kara, and when Kara announces she wants to be a reporter, Cat hands her a sealed envelope – inside is Kara’s resume, with the word, “reporter”, written across it. But rather than shepherding Kara through her new role, Cat leaves. Snapper, Kara’s new boss, is rude, entitled, and a bit racist and sexist. As annoying as that is, by the end of the season – Kara’s experiences with Snapper do show a different type of mentorship – and for a show with a younger audience, an audience that it probably dealing with “old guard’ bosses at work that behave like Snapper or worse, and it shows how to deal with it and with people like Snapper. Kara even follows her heart and publishes a story on her own, a story that Snapper refused to publish due to his own prejudices. Breaking her contract with Catco gets Kara fired. To get her job back, not only does Kara need to find another exclusive story, and bring that story to Snapper with it’s resources and documentation done precisely as Snapper wants, but she has to share the byline with Snapper who did nothing on the story. Then Kara has to apologize to him and declare he “was right” and that she’s learned a lot from Snapper. Watching that scene is hard and it made me bristle – clearly it was Snapper who’s anti-alien prejudice prevented him from wanting to publish either story in the first place. In both cases, Kara was right in her stories – and she wasn’t writing mere opinion, but facts.

Snapper also co-opted Kara’s work and took credit for it. But, as unfair as that seems – it’s also the way of the world. That type of stuff happens all the time in the real world, and in all sorts of industries. Supergirl shows, especially to it’s young audience of teens and twenty-somethings, how to deal with those situations in the real world. Essentially by swallowing her own pride and sucking up – Kara gets her job back, and is given more freedom to do want she needs to do – be a reporter. Would Snapper have treated a male reporter the way he treats Kara? Probably not. If Kara’s stories had been full of anti-alien trash and prejudice with no research and just prejudicial language and hate speech – what would Snapper have done? Probably publish them without a single red-pen edit. In a sense, his Archie Bunker attitude is the one being criticized, while at the same time showing just how to circumvent such people. Snapper also attacks James, whom Cat has named as her successor during her sabbatical. But within an episode or two, James tells Snapper off – pulling the “I’m the boss whether you like it or not” card.

Season Two also introduces Maggie Sawyer, a National City cop, and a lesbian. Alex meets her, they become friends, Maggie gets Alex to realize she is also a lesbian, then Maggie rejects Alex. They do get back together, and Maggie is present in some form or another for the rest of the season. The Maggie/Alex relationship is brilliantly played, with ups and downs, rather than as a fairy tale. It becomes clear that both Maggie and Alex have some self-esteem issues. Both have had trouble in the past being true to themselves and opening up to others. These flaws make the characters more interesting, and give the audience different types of characters to identify with.

Winn also meets a girl (are we sensing a pattern?) an alien named Lyra. Their relationship seems fine, and very hot, until she sets him up to make it look like he broke into a museum and stole Starry Night by Van Gogh. Winn, though, doesn’t buy the police line that he was simply used. Even when Lyra tells him the same, he pushes, until he finds out that Lyra was blackmailed into the theft and a series of others to pay off her brother’s gambling debts and free him from the alien mobsters who are holding him. Even though Supergirl, Winn, Alex, and the DEO are able to free Lyra’s brother and arrest the mobsters, after the incident we seldom see Lyra.

The season introduces Megan McGann, (aka M’Gann, Miss Martian) whom at first seems to be a Green Martian refugee like J’onn J’onezz. She turns out to be a White Martian instead, one whom became disgusted at the genocide of the Green Martians on Mars – and whom helped some escape. The relationship between the two also has its ups and downs and ends with M’Gann deciding to return to Mars to find similar thinking White Martians.

Finally, Kara, herself finds love – but it’s a bumpy, season-long process. At the very beginning of the season, a Kryptonian pod crashes on Earth. It’s occupant is Mon-El of Daxam. Since Daxam, sister planet to Krypton, has also been the enemy of Krypton for centuries, we get the rare experience of seeing Kara’s prejudice against someone – namely Mon-El. She even jumps to conclusions and blames him for a crime that he is innocent of and has no knowledge of. When it quickly becomes apparent that she was wrong, Kara, to her credit, admits her mistake. She then starts to work with Mon-El, trying to basically make him exactly like herself – from wardrobe, to internship at Catco, to becoming a superhero, to wearing silly glasses to hide his identity. It doesn’t work. However, over time, the real Mon-El emerges, and as Mon-El becomes his own person – it is that person that Kara falls in love with. And Mon-El also improves himself because of knowing Kara. Once he gives up on being an intern at Catco, Mon-El gets a job as a “mixologist” at the alien bar that’s a reoccurring location for the season. But he gradually becomes more involved in helping the DEO and Kara.

This season also introduces Lynda Carter as President of the US, who passes the Alien Amnesty Act, allowing alien refugees to become US citizens. In contrast to her compassion and understanding, Cadmus – run by Lillian Luthor (Lex’s mother) is an anti-alien organization that wants the destruction of all aliens – especially Supergirl and Superman. Like most people who act out on unreasonable prejudices – Lillian sees all aliens as the same – something evil, to be hated, to be feared, and Lillian also uses her resources to stir-up hatred in the general population. Lillian is unable and unwilling to see people as individuals but sees all others as evil ones to be hated and feared. Cadmus makes threats over the airwaves, taking over the media in National City. They use alien weapons to commit crimes and attack people then blame aliens for the crimes. Cadmus even co-opts Jeremiah Danvers, Alex’s father and Kara’s adoptive father, convincing him that deporting all aliens is the Final Solution to the Alien Problem. Yeah. For the most part, however, even with the destruction, death, and set-backs (at one point the alien bar is attacked and every alien is killed), the DEO, Alex, Maggie, and Supergirl are able to stop Cadmus and Lillian.

In contrast to Lillian, Lina Luthor is actually a good person. She becomes a fast friend of Kara (who, again, was willing to hate her for being a Luthor, but saw Lina as a person and became her friend instead), and goes up against her own mother to protect the people of National City, including aliens. Lina is fascinating, she’s also a businesswoman, re-branding “LuthorCorp” as “L Corp” to distance the corporation from her notorious brother and evil mother. She develops an alien detector, which becomes a plot point, though not an over-used one.

The beginning of the season tends to have a lot of stand-alone episodes, though threads are being laid for season-long plots, especially in terms of the characters and their relationships. One problem with the stand-alone episodes is it generally goes like this: alien menace arrives, alien menace (or cyborg or constructed alien like Metallo, etc.) defeats Supergirl in a fist fight or by using special powers (Kryptonite, absorbing her powers, etc.) Kara goes to the DEO and John, Alex, Winn, and maybe James or Maggie come up with a way for Supergirl to defeat said alien menace. Supergirl challenges the menace and wins. This is a boring and repetitive plot. Fortunately, it’s only a few isolated episodes in the first half of the season, and all of those, as I’ve said, have other character stuff going on, but it’s something future seasons really need to avoid. Besides, seeing Supergirl get defeated over and over again weakens the character, and makes her subsequent wins unbelievable.

There are two crossover events for this season of Supergirl: Invasion and the Musical. Invasion is the 4-part crossover that features the entire CW DC universe (aka the Arrowverse). Invasion is actually a pretty much stand alone episode. For the Supergirl episode that introduces it – it’s pretty much just the last five minutes of the episode, when The Flash and Cisco arrive via a universe-hopping portal and ask Kara for help. She then leaves with them and spends three episodes as a lead character in Invasion. Unfortunately, those other episodes are not included on the DVD set. Because the DVD releases of all four shows were spread out over a month, it’s also not possible to stop watching Supergirl and skip over to Invasion (until after The Flash and Arrow were finally released that is). I highly recommend that, since I do enjoy the crossovers, the crossover story be released as a separate special DVD with all four episodes in order. Which isn’t to say those episodes shouldn’t be included on the season sets of their respective shows. But like the Doctor Who Christmas specials – Why not release the Crossover Event as a DVD a few weeks after it airs? I’d buy it – and I’d still buy the season sets at the end of the season. From watching Invasion during the highly-rated Crossover Week – it’s pretty stand alone anyway, and it’s a good introduce to the Arrowverse for new fans. An inexpensive DVD/Blu-Ray release would be an awesome idea.

The Musical is a story that is integrated well in the season arcs of both Supergirl and The Flash. In Supergirl, Kara has just found out that far from being the “palace guard” that she thought Mon-El was – he’s the prince. Although every one tells her to work through her anger at being lied to, in the end, Kara breaks up with Mon-El. Meanwhile, on The Flash, Barry and Iris are in a similar situation – Barry had proposed marriage to Iris, she accepted, then for plot purposes they broke it off (there will be more when I watch and review The Flash). Again, at the end of a Supergirl episode, suddenly an “alien” is being led into the operations center of the DEO, he breaks free of his bonds, and whammys Kara, who collapses. Now by this time, my copy of The Flash had arrived from Amazon, so I was able to go straight to “Duet” and watch it. In “Duet”, we find that the “alien” is the Music Meister, an imp with Mxyzptlk-like powers and an interest in “true love”. He traps Barry and Kara in a musical, which features some actors from Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow as well as The Flash – though everyone is playing different characters. They sing. I was disappointed with “Duet” though. The music was, overall, only so-so both the old songs (“Moon River”) and the originals (“Superfriends”). The storyline in the musical is OK, but pokes fun at musicals (“It really is easy to convince people in a musical!”) The story does end with a beautiful scene of Barry proposing again to Iris (for real) and in song. Kara also sees the error of her ways and declares her feelings for Mon-El.

The final arc of Supergirl is brilliant – well acted, relevant, smart, and a better season finale than even Myriad. Cat Grant returns and we realize just how much we’ve missed her. The President (Lynda Carter) becomes a important part of the story. We meet Mon-El’s parents, played by Kevin Sorbo and Teri Hatcher – and discover that Queen Rhea is the most controlling parent in the the universe (not to mention a little nuts). Rhea returns and tries to get Mon-El to return to lead the survivors of Daxam as prince and future king. But Rhea hates Kara because she’s from Krypton, and after all when Krypton was destroyed it bombarded Daxam and made the planet a wasteland. Mon-El eventually is forced to sacrifice himself and his love for Kara, but she rescues him. This puts Rhea on the warpath. She passes herself off as human, approaches Lina, and gets Lina to work with her on a portal to move goods and people from point A to point B instantaneously. There are two issues with this: one – major side effect, the radiation from the generator that runs the portal turns telepathic aliens into dynamos that attack with the uncontrolled power of a tornado, and two – Rhea has no intention of the portal being used for the humanitarian uses Lina envisions, instead she brings in a fleet of Daxamite ships, which attack National City and hold it hostage.

In the end, even though Supergirl challenges Rhea to single combat for the planet, Rhea cheats – not only by using Kryptonite, but by calling in her guards and airstrikes despite Supergirl winning. This causes Supergirl to release a weapon of mass destruction developed by Lillian and Lina Luthor – they seed the entire planet with lead, which is toxic to Daxamites. This kills Rhea outright, and means Mon-El has to leave the planet. He escapes in the Kryptonian Pod, only to be swallowed up by a wormhole.

I had to wonder about the whole “lead” thing. First, lead is highly poisonous to humans, birds, and animals – it causes brain damage to children and babies; yet Lillian, Lina, and Kara don’t seem to even notice this fact or care. Second, it’s stated several times that Supergirl and Superman (who makes several guest appearances this season) cannot see through lead. If microscopic pieces of lead are in the very atmosphere, it would rend both characters blind until the lead settled out of the air, at the very least. It would be like walking outside on a day with heavy mist – you get wet. Not as wet as in a downpour, but your face and hair is going to be covered in a fine spray of water. So the “fix” to get rid of the Daxamites doesn’t make a lot of logical sense.

Still, Season 2 of Supergirl is an enjoyable series. The characters are likable – and it’s nice to see the interpersonal struggles without either falling into the extremes of soap opera plots or perfect characters who never have problems. I liked the relevance of the series, from Superman’s “I’m with her” statement while standing next to Supergirl, to the female president who has compassion and sense, yet is still strong and capable, to the last episodes being entitled, “Resist” and “Nevertheless She Persisted” – this is a show with something to say, and that is good. Also, looking at the credits in the episode guide flyer included with the set – nearly every episode is written, co-written, and/or directed by women. And that is awesome! This season also has less of a “aimed at teenaged girls” feel and more of a “general audiences” feel which is good, many of the people who “need” the messages of this show won’t watch a program they think is for teen girls. Kudos on that.

Recommended.