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REVIEW: Gotham the Complete Fourth Season

People who have stuck with Gotham since its inception will admit it is over-the-top, over-packed, and incredibly messy but they can’t stop watching. Thankfully, an increasing number of people have gotten wise to the nonsense and the ratings dictated that the forthcoming short season five will be its last.

Gotham the Complete Fourth Season, out Tuesday from Warner Home Entertainment, presents all 22 episodes on four Blu-ray discs and you can see for yourself the chaos that masquerades as a prequel to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman (an act we’re promised we’ll prematurely see in 2019 when the series returns).

From the outset, the villains have always been outsized personalities, with grand schemes, unable to spread their criminal behavior to neighboring cities. Something roots them to Gotham even though none never clearly win. They would rather fight with or betray one another, each with some ambitious plan that seems to smack up against someone else’s plan.

Then you have the civilians with the women a collection of off-kilter kooks and the men relatively flat and uninteresting. The titular focal point, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) spends the season regaining his moral center, setting him and Bruce (David Mazouz) as Gotham’s savior as it descends into No Man’s Land. While producers Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon will tell you, the season was loosely following the Batman Year One and Batman: The Long Halloween storylines, you’d be hard pressed to see how.

I suppose the whole Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed) power play can be traced to the latter event, but in name only. Her scheme to rule Gotham with Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), Tabitha Jessica Lucas), and Selina (Carmen Bicondova) pits her against the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and his Iceberg Lounge, where he doles out permission to commit crimes like a lord. To fight back, he summons Sofia’s dad, Carmine (John Dorman) to handle his scion only to lose his life.

GOTHAM: Camren Bicondova in the “Pax Penguina” season premiere episode of GOTHAM.

Once the pieces are in place after the first half season, we then move things into high gear, tearing the city further apart, creating the finale as Gotham is cut off from America and everyone carves up the streets into fiefdoms. Behind the scenes, the would-be-Joker Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) casts a cackling shadow. His shooting of Selina at the end echoes Killing Joke and takes her off the board for now.

As the chaos descends. Bruce is in a teenage funk, an emo-boy as opposed to a vigilante in training, refusing help from Alfred (Sean Pertwee). Thankfully, he has enough sense also to not kill Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), who sees something in the kid none of us do.

Thankfully, the city is large enough so there’s plenty of scenery for every actor to chew. They all get choice moments and good lines now and then, but everything is moving at such a fast clip, you’re riveted to the screen so you don’t miss a twist. And I suppose that’s the mad genius behind this wreck of a series.

The high definition transfer to 16×9 1:78:1 audio with DTS-HD Master Audio are fine for watching the madness on any screen.

The special features are scattered across the four discs starting with deleted scenes for four episodes on the first disc; and one deleted scene on the second disc; and no deleted scenes on the third disc. Disc four, though, has no deleted scenes but you have Solomon Grundy: Born on a Monday, The Sirens Take Gotham, and The Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2017 (58:25).

The Law Is A Ass #437: Green Arrow Joins The FB Aye-Yi-Yi

No, I didn’t lie.

All I said I was that I finished with the Arrow episode “Docket No. 11-19-41-73.” I never said I was finished with Arrow.

Now, all Arrow had to do for me to be finished with it was get through the last two episodes of the 6th season without any outrageous legal gaffs. Aaaaaand it couldn’t even do that. Hell, the season finale “Life Sentence” couldn’t even get through the “Previously on Arrow” part without an outrageous legal gaff.

You will recall, unless you purged the nonsense of “Docket No. 11-19-41-73” from your mind – and I wouldn’t blame you if you had – that Oliver (The Green Arrow) Queen and Team Arrow were fighting Ricardo Diaz, a crime lord who had taken over Star City. In the “Previously on” section of “Life Sentence” Oliver went to FBI agent Samandra Watson and asked her help to take down Diaz. Watson, who had been in Star City all season investigating whether Oliver Queen was secretly the Green Arrow – so far unsuccessfully – told Ollie, and I quote, “You want my help, I’m going to need you to say the words.” “The words” being an admission that he was the Green Arrow.

Now what Ollie should have answered was, “Listen, lady, how about I tell your frelling boss that instead taking down a frakking international crime lord, like you’re supposed to do, you’re threatening to withhold FBI cooperation unless I admit I’m a criminal?” (Although, I would have substituted in a few of what Mr. Spock called “more colorful metaphors.”) Instead, Ollie admitted he was Green Arrow. And by the end of the episode –


– the FBI used Ollie’s confession to get him to agree to a plea bargain. We’ll forgo discussing the details of the plea bargain for the nonce, because we have other nonsense to discuss first. Such as the fact that the FBI was able to use Ollie’s statement against him in the first place.

The Fifth Amendment says that no person can be compelled to be a witness against himself. Courts have interpreted said language to mean the government cannot coerce a confession from a person. Now as I don’t think any of you have any problem accepting that an FBI agent is part of the government, the real question is, did Agent Watson compel Ollie into confessing? What say thee, Messrs. Merriam and Webster?

You say to compel is, “to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure.” I think what Agent Watson did fits that definition nicely, so I am unconvinced that Ollie’s confession could have been used against him in a court of law. So unconvinced, in fact that I think even Jean Loring, as bad a lawyer as she showed herself to be in Ollie’s trial, could have won that argument.

Watson’s next step in bringing down Diaz, the one taken after she had stepped all over Ollie’s constitutional rights, was to go to Quentin Lance, the acting mayor of Star City, and have him sign an authorization for the FBI to operate in Star City, because “Diaz’s crimes are local.” Then Diaz spent the rest of the episode trying to extort Mayor Lance into rescinding said authorization. Which makes me wonder, was no one paying attention to what Diaz had been doing all season?

Here are just a few of Diaz’s many crimes. Diaz used Star City’s docks to import illegal narcotics into the city which he then distributed for sale. That means Diaz was involved in crimes that either crossed state or international borders or both. The FBI has jurisdiction to investigate interstate and international crimes. It don’t need no steenkin’ authorization from the local authorities.

Diaz joined The Quadrant, an international criminal organization. Or what the FBI calls transnational organized crime. And you know why the FBI calls it that? Because it has jurisdiction to investigate TOC activities at the local level without authorization.

Still I can’t fault the show for making this mistake. Without the B plot, the episode would have had twenty minutes to fill. And it might have filled it with something even dumber.

Which brings us full circle, back to Ollie’s plea bargain. In return for Ollie admitting he was Green Arrow and pleading guilty to whatever federal offenses he violated by being the Green Arrow, the federal government agreed to grant immunity for all the members of Team Arrow. Then Ollie went off to federal prison.

While Team Arrow all went to state prison. See, the FBI and the federal government could only grant Team Arrow immunity from prosecution for federal crimes. It had no jurisdiction to grant them immunity from prosecution for any state crimes they may have committed.

Remember when John Diggle, Dinah Drake, and Felicity Smoak testified that Ollie wasn’t the Green Arrow? That was perjury. Remember how Ollie was being prosecuted for vigilantism? Well those three could have been prosecuted for all the acts of vigilantism they committed as Spartan, Black Canary, and Overwatch. As could Curtis (Mr. Terrific) Holt and Rene (Wild Dog) Ramirez. Team Arrow could even have been prosecuted as aiders and abettors for all the crimes Ollie was prosecuted for in “Docket No. 11-19-41-73.” The feds couldn’t have granted them immunity for any of those state crimes. So Ollie’s happy ending? Only if he’s happy that Team Arrow’s on the Friends and Family Plan.

Okay, Team Arrow wasn’t actually prosecuted and didn’t actually go to prison. I guess law schools in Star City don’t have any classes on the difference between federal and local jurisdiction. Which is probably fortunate for us. After the nonsense that was “Docket No. 11-19-41-73,” did we really want to suffer through Docket Nos. 11-19-41-74, 75, 76, 77, and 78?

REVIEW: Arrow the Complete Sixth Season

Although Arrow set the tone and allowed the CW to grow its own integrated television universe, the series itself has been a maddening, uneven affair that always seems to take three steps forward then backslide at least one.

In what could have been a final season, that unevenness was never more frustrating as the show whipsawed characters and situations into increasingly dumb configurations that annoyed rather than entertained.

You can revisit all the nonsense in Arrow: The Complete Sixth Season, out now on Blu-ray and Digital HD from Warner Home Entertainment.

Season Five ended with Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) finally comfortable with one another, ready to resume their romance. Everyone is manipulated or kidnapped to find themselves on Lian Yu as Adrian Chase John Segara), who is excessively over-prepared, blows it all to hell.

We open the new season with the aftermath, starting with the death of Samantha (Anna Hopkins), who begs Oliver to care for their son William (Jack Moore), who has just learned of his father’s alter ego. As everyone is licking their wounds, we meet the tech savvy Cayden James (Michael Emerson), who is working to subvert Mayor Queen and ruin Star City. Not helping matters is FBI Agent Samanda Watson (Sydelle Noel), looking into the Mayor and the city’s leading vigilante.

Along the way, we have the crossover “Crisis on Earth-X” which ended with Ollie and Felicity finally tying the knot and shifting her from the geeky, fun, and intense hacker to the nurturing surrogate mother, watering her down as a character.

The producers decided their overstuffed Team Arrow needed pairing and contrived to force them into betraying and distrusting one another so they’re split into the Original Team and the New Team, none of which is convincingly handled. Neither is the internal strife between Ollie and John Diggle (David Ramsey), as they feud over which ones gets to play Green Arrow, further splitting the team.

In perhaps the most interesting twist, halfway through the season, James is killed off by the real mastermind behind everything, thuggish Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevado) who then is revealed to have somehow put every cop and judge in the city inside his suit pockets. Once more, the antagonist appears to have thought of everything while our heroes stumble into one another, blindly led into trap after trap, never growing wiser or better prepared. Aiding him is Anatoli (David Nykl), who really added little this season and was wasted while Black Siren (Katie Cassidy) seemed to play both sides against the middle with no clear agenda.

Diaz forces his way into The Quadrant, described as the secret cabal running America’s underworld but they come across as boobs, as one by one, Diaz shoots them without consequence. He, sadly, repeatedly survives near death and will remain a threat in the seventh season, commencing in October.

arrow-season-6-episode-23-review-life-sentence-300x169-2295807We wind up with Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) dead, Thea (Willa Holland) leaving to find herself, and the team reunited, saved from the FBI by Oliver giving himself up and going to prison so he has failed his city and is paying the price.

The sheer incoherence of the plotting spoils some great performances and the overemphasis on the amazing stunt fighting has long since become boring. Should the seventh be the final season, one hopes new showrunner Beth Schwartz will bring some dramatic coherence and discipline to the series.

The Blu-ray discs are AVC encoded 1080p transfers in 1.78:1 with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, making for a fine home entertainment experience.

The special features are scattered across the four discs with the first offering up The Split of a Man: Deathstroke (11:48); the second gives us an in-depth Inside the Crossover: Crisis on Earth X (41:59); the third offers up Revenge in Ones and Zeros: The Story of Cayden James (10:52), which just reminds us how wasted Emerson was; and finally The Best of DC’s Comic Con Panels San Diego 2017 (58:27). No deleted scenes or gag reel this time.

1943 Retro-Hugo Winners

1943 Retro-Hugo Winners

The winners of the 1943 Retrospective Hugo Awards were announced on Thursday, August 16 at Worldcon 76.

Best Fan Writer

Forrest J Ackerman

Best Fanzine

Le Zombie, edited by Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker

Best Professional Artist

Virgil Finlay

Best Editor – Short Form

John W. Campbell

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

Bambi, written by Perce Pearce, Larry Morey, et al., directed by David D. Hand et al. (Walt Disney Productions)

Best Short Story

“The Twonky,” by Lewis Padgett (C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1942)

Best Novelette

“Foundation,” by Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science-Fiction, May 1942)

Best Novella

“Waldo,” by Anson MacDonald (Robert A. Heinlein) (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1942)

Best Novel

Beyond This Horizon, by Anson MacDonald (Robert A. Heinlein) (Astounding Science-Fiction, April & May 1942)

The administrators report 703 valid ballots (688 electronic and 15 paper) were received and counted from convention members.

The Hugo Awards, presented first in 1953 and annually since 1955, are science fiction’s most prestigious award, and one of the World Science Fiction Convention’s unique and distinguished institutions.

Since 1993, Worldcon committees have had the option of awarding Retrospective Hugo Awards for past Worldcon years prior to 1953 where they had not been presented 25, 50, or 100 years prior to the contemporary convention, with the exception of the hiatus during World War II when no Worldcon was convened. A recent change in this policy has now allowed for Retro Hugos to be awarded for the years 1942-1945.

Source: File 770: 1943 Retro-Hugo Winners

REVIEW: The Death of Superman

Doomsday. The unstoppable engine of destruction also appears to be the unstoppable antagonist having been a regular in the comics since 1992 and brought to the animated and live-action films. The sheer power on display is catnip and allows DC Comics’ most powerful figure to go mano y mano.

The DC Animated Universe of direct-to-video films has been uneven, usually a result of either poor writing, bad directing, or off-putting character design. That they are now linked, building a shared universe is a small pleasure as the producers mine the comics for stories to adapt and weave into their mythos.

The Death of Superman story has been adapted repeatedly but the latest attempt, now available digitally from Warner Bros Home Entertainment, but this may be the most satisfying version. A large part of the credit has to go to writer Peter J. Tomasi, who brings a tremendous amount of humanity to the characters along with some much-needed humor.

Not only does this adapt the classic 1992 story, but also works within the animated universe as it uses their version of the Justice League, nicely uses the Man of Steel’s supporting cast, actively involves Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson), and sows the seeds for the follow-up Reign of the Superman adaptation, coming later this year.

As Doomsday hurtles to Earth, Superman (Jerry O’Connell) is wrestling with the decision to reveal his secret to Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn), soliciting advice from his ex, Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), and the Flash (Christopher Gorham), who is about to finally marry. Elsewhere, we get glimpses of Lex working on programs despite his house arrest, making him the first to be aware of the danger to humanity.

When Doomsday emerges from the sea, he is making his way across America and the League is summoned to handle the matter but in typical animated style, we see only one member fight the behemoth at a time as opposed to a coordinated group effort, a mistake directors Sam Liu and James Tucker keep repeating. That said, it certainly was nice to see them in action, their personalities clear from Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) to Martian Manhunter (Nyambi Nyambi).

Given the level of devastation, it feels like it takes Superman too much time to get involved, but once he does, he gives it his all as the two battle across Metropolis, including a brutal fight on a bridge that endangers hundreds of civilians.

Of course, Lois and Jimmy Olsen (Max Mitttelman) are on hand for the finale, with Lois risking her life when it appears Superman was down for the count. In fact, having Superman put it all into the killing blow to save her is a great emotional beat.

And then we get the aftermath, the funeral, the tears, and the sense of loss. During the end credits, we cut away repeatedly to tease the coming of the Superboy clone, John Henry Irons (Cress Williams) forging the Steel suit, a floating Eradicator, and the Cyborg Superman entering the atmosphere.

Frederik Wiedmann delivers a strong score to match a well-written, very entertaining film, the best in the series to date. Tomasi and the team sprinkle several winks to readers and long-time fans, adding to the enjoyment. The only design issue I have is that the heroes have bull necks and Superman’s face is just wrong.

Released in the usual assortment of packages, the 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray looks just fine, and the lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix is good.

There are just two special features, the obligatory tease for Reign of the Supermen (9:33) and  The Death of Superman: The Brawl That Topped Them All (16:23), a somewhat bloated look at the battle with martial arts expert Christian Medina, along with the usual talking heads, talk about its construction. Sadly, the only participants from the core material was original story editor Mike Carlin and artist Jon Bogdanove.

The two contributions from the DC Comics Vault are Legion of Super-Heroes, Season 2, “Dark Victory” Part 1 (22:54) and Part 2 (22:50), which were the series’ final offerings.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis gets a Commemorative Edition

Burbank, CA (August 9, 2018) – Arthur Curry discovers his heroic roots, contends with diabolical foes and takes his place as Aquaman beside new “super” allegiances in the ultimate original story for everyone’s favorite underwater hero – now remastered for 4K presentation – in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis – Commemorative Edition. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, the feature-length DC Universe Movie arrives from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Ultra HD Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and Digital starting November 13, 2018.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis – Commemorative Edition will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray™ Combo Pack ($29.98 SRP), Blu-ray™ Combo Pack ($24.98) and Digital. All packages include an all-new featurette, Aquaman: The New King, as well as audio commentary by renowned former DC Editor and current Creative Director of Animation, Mike Carlin and screenwriter Heath Corson.

In Justice League: Throne of Atlantis – Commemorative Edition, Cyborg discovers an imminent threat in the depths of the oceans so powerful that it rallies together the newly formed Justice League. Meanwhile, wandering thousands of feet above the ocean floor is drifter Arthur Curry, a man with strange powers who may be the last chance to bridge the ancient Atlantean world with our own. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of DC’s Justice League must band together as they face off against warmongering Orm, an army of sea creatures, otherworldly weapons and perilous odds. In this all-new epic adventure from the DC Universe, mankind’s only hope of escaping from the darkness lies with the guiding light of a man – Aquaman!

The celebrity-laden cast features primetime television stars Matt Lanter (Timeless, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, 90210) as Aquaman, Sam Witwer (Being Human, Smallville, Star Wars: Rebels) as Orm, Jason O’Mara (The Man in the High Castle) as Batman, Christopher Gorham (Insatiable, Two Broke Girls, Covert Affairs) as Flash, Nathan Fillion (The Rookie, Castle) as Green Lantern, Shemar Moore (S.W.A.T., Criminal Minds) as Cyborg, Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Daredevil) as Wonder Woman, Jerry O’Connell (Real Men Watch Bravo, The Death of Superman) as Superman, Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) as Shazam, Sumalee Montano (Scandal, Critical Role) as Mera, Sirena Irwin (Superman: Unbound) as Queen Atlanna, and Harry Lennix (Man of Steel, The Blacklist) as Manta.

Director Ethan Spaulding (Batman: Assault on Arkham, Son of Batman) directs Justice League: Throne of Atlantis – Commemorative Edition from a script by Heath Corson (Justice League: War). Executive producer is Sam Register and James Tucker (Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay, Justice League Dark) is supervising producer.


Justice League: Throne of Atlantis – Commemorative Edition contains two all-new bonus features, along with special features from the film’s original release:

  • Aquaman: The New King (NEW featurette) – An immersive look at Arthur Curry’s evolution from guardian of the ocean to the King of Atlantis and key member of the Justice League.
  • Audio Commentary (NEW) – Renowned former DC Editor and current Creative Director of Animation Mike Carlin, Creative Director of Animation, and Throne of Atlantis screenwriter Heath Corson share their insights into the legend of Aquaman.
  • Scoring Atlantis: The Sound of the Deep (Featurette) – Every great film needs a great musical score. Filled with emotion, music takes us on a dynamic journey as we adventure with the hero. Throne of Atlantis takes us on that quest through the eyes of Arthur Curry.
  • Robin and Nightwing Bonus Sequence – Producer James Tucker provides video commentary for this exciting bonus sequence where Robin and Nightwing join forces.
  • Throne of Atlantis: 2014 New York Comic Con Panel – The entire, lively one-hour panel discussion between actor Matt Lanter, producer James Tucker, screenwriter Heath Corson, character designer Phil Bourassa and dialogue director Andrea Romano.
  • Villains of the Deep (Featurette) – From Ocean Master to Black Manta to King Shark, each villain operates from his own deep sense of conviction, presenting an incredible challenge for the hero in Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman. This documentary goes into the biographical details of the villains.
  • A Sneak Peek at The Death of Superman – The Death of Superman is widely considered one of the most popular stories in the Superman canon and the DCU. This sneak peek at the exciting new film discusses the story and its place in pop culture.
  • A Sneak Peek at Reign of the Supermen – An exciting look at the new film which brings the epic and emotional story of a world without the Man of Steel to life.
  • Bonus cartoons from the DC Comics Vault:
    • Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure!”
    • Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Evil Under the Sea!”
    • Aquaman, “Menace of The Black Manta” and “The Rampaging Reptile-Men”
    • Justice League Unlimited, “Far from Home”


Justice League: Throne of Atlantis – Commemorative Edition will be available to own on Digital November 13, 2018. Digital purchase allows consumers to instantly stream and download all episodes to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital movies and TV shows are available from various digital retailers including Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and others. A Digital Copy is also included with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray & 4K Ultra HD discs for redemption and cloud storage.

Street Date: November 13, 2018
Run Time:  75 minutes
Blu-ray Combo Price: $24.98 SRP
4K UHD Combo Price: $29.98 SRP
Languages: English

Book-A-Day 2018 #225: Penny Century by Jaime Hernandez

You might think the stories in this book would feel like a break, but they don’t.

Penny Century  collects work from Jaime Hernandez from the great Love and Rockets hiatus: from right after the end of the first comics series (in 1996) through 2002, just after the start of the second series. One might assume that the first series ended because the creators — Jaime and his brother Gilbert — wanted to shake the status quo up, and try different things.

But, for the evidence here, that wasn’t true on the Jaime side of the book: what he did immediately afterward was Whoa, Nellie!, a short graphic novel about the cluster of his usual characters connected to the world of women’s wrestling, and then immediately after the single-issue “Maggie and Hopey Color Fun Special,” starring his two most central and popular characters. (And then the solo series Penny Century, which focused slightly more on the title character, as this book does.)

Of course, these days — twenty years later — we just see Penny Century as the fourth collection reprinting Jaime’s Locas stories. There’s no break, and we don’t expect there to be one. Maggie and Hopey reunited at the end of the previous volume, which means…they’re mostly still living separate lives in different places in this book.

Jaime Hernandez might be a romantic in some ways — he does write great stories about the ways people love each other — but not the way we usually mean that term. Maggie and Hopey lived together, and had a relationship, for a short time when they were both very young, and have been separated for a good decade at this point. In fiction, we tend to assume that means they’re “meant” for each other, and that they’ll be deeply in love when they meet. But in a real world, it just means they each once was a different person, and those people were close.

And let’s not forget that one of the core traits of all of Jaime’s major characters — from Maggie to Doyle, from Ray D. to Speedy, from Hopey to Izzy — is that they all find ways to doubt and sabotage themselves. (The one singular exception is Penny Century, maybe because she resolutely refuses to be Beatriz Garcia, the person she would sabotage. That also makes her the most surface-y of Jaime’s characters, with quirks like repeatedly running away from her billionaire husband and wishing for superpowers substituting for more substantial flaws.)

That’s made clearer than ever in two of the long stories towards the end of this book: “The Race,” a Maggie dream sequence focusing on her worries and inadequacies, and “Everybody Loves Me, Baby,” the flashback-filled story of Maggie’s marriage and divorce to a guy from the old punk days. That self-destructive impulse may be most obvious, and most pervasive, in Maggie, but maybe that’s just because she’s the central character.

If you want to be really reductive, Locas is the story of people making choices — often without even realizing it was a choice — that turn out badly in the long run. Not genre fiction badly — real world badly. Like missing a step here and missing a step there and finding yourself older than you thought and without any of the things you thought you wanted. That’s where Jaime’s characters live: in that feeling, in that world.

They’re happy enough, like any of us: that’s what life is like. And Jaime Hernandez is one of the best at showing that feeling, that kind of life: his people feel like friends we’ve known all our lives, or like ourselves. Penny Century collects an era that’s not talked about a lot — not like “The Death of Speedy” for a decade before or the “Browntown” from a decade later — but it shows those people in the middle of those lives in all of their glory. And, as always, he draws like a dream.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

The Law Is A Ass #436: Is Green Arrow Not Guilty By Reason Of Inanity?

I’m sick of it!

I’ve spent the past three weeks writing about the Arrow episode “Docket No. 11-19-41-73” and like Popeye said, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!” No matter how long it takes, I’m going to finish with “Docket No. 11-19-41-73” today. Even if I have to write about it from the beginning all the way to the SPOILER WARNING! at the episode’s end.


Book-A-Day 2018 #224: Knife’s Edge by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock

It’s a welcome surprise to see a story wrap up in two books. Oh, there are still single-volume stories, even in these fallen days. But anything that goes longer than that seems to stretch on forever, or at least to go much longer than anyone expected when it began.

Not here, though.

Knife’s Edge  is the second half of the historical adventure graphic novel that began in Compass South ; the story began in the first book and conclusively ends here. Everything is wrapped up, all of the details mean something, and it ends the way Oscar Wilde said fiction should.

It may seem like faint praise to single out writer Hope Larson and artists Rebecca Mock for actually ending their story well the way they said it would, but it really isn’t: endings are much harder than beginnings. And doing it in a thematically appropriate way — this story is about a set of tween twins in 1859, and I won’t spoil all of the doublings and dual roles in the series — is even better.

We begin with a flashback, which may be confusing: I didn’t realize it was a flashback at first. But then Cleo and Alex Dodge’s father is shanghaied, and we all realize where we are. They were reunited with their father at the end of Compass South [1], and now they’re learning the backstory: who their mysterious mother and father are, since Mr. Dodge is not actually their father by blood. (Though he’s raised them since infancy.)

The twins are in possession of a compass and knife that, together, are the key to finding a lost pirate treasure, somewhere in the far South Pacific. And they are on a ship whose captain is willing to help search for that treasure, for a cut of it. But the pirates are not all safely dead with their treasures, and the antagonists from the first book come back with a faster ship and an eye for vengeance.

Before Knife’s Edge is over, we’ll have thrilling stern chases at sea, foot chases through a bustling town, sword training and fights, shipwrecks and betrayals, surprising allies and enemies, and a climactic visit to that treasure trove that will solve all of the plot complications in a moment.

We also have a very preliminary, tentative love story, though only for Cleo — there are very few women on board ships in the mid-19th century, so Alex will have to wait until he’s on the right shore.

It’s all presented in mostly bright, colorful art by Mock, using chapter heads and pages with wide white margins for a classic adventure-story feel. The people are real and historically honest; Cleo pushes against what a woman’s supposed to do in her time without being a superwoman, and she gets treated in complicated ways by the men around her — because she’s twelve on top of everything else.

Knife’s Edge doesn’t just end the story of Compass South; it ends that story well, which is more important. This series will mostly been seen in school and local libraries in the YA section, but it’s worth seeking out for adults who like historical adventures — it’s not quite swashbuckling, because it’s more realistic than that, but it does have excellent adventure and intrigue on the high seas.

[1] Not to give anything away, but there’s a nicely matching similar scene, with somewhat different characters at the end of this book.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Book-A-Day 2018 #222: Lumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of Time by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters & Brooke Allen

Any place with mysterious secrets has a backstory, by definition. And, the longer the creators take to roll out that backstory, the more convoluted and detailed it gets, with flashbacks and strange characters from the past and previously unknown giant mountains that are retroactively declared to have always been right over there.

Lumberjanes is full of secrets, at least at this point. (I’m running several years behind; maybe all the secrets have been answered and the comic is all-friendship-all-the-time now. But I doubt it.) Issues 14 through 17 of the comic, originally published in 2015 and collected the next year as Lumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of Time , has most of the stuff I somewhat sarcastically described in that first paragraph and more.

It also has a lot of all-friendship-all-the-time, since that’s the core of the series. There’s even a boy who gets in on the friendship, at least some of the time, possibly because he doesn’t feel quite at home with full-on boyishness. Whether all-friendship-all-the-time is available to male-identified persons is still an open question at this point.

If you’re not familiar with Lumberjanes, I can direct you to my posts on the previous three books: one and two and three . They’re probably not the very worst explanations of Lumberjanes online, at least.

But I do have to repeat, as I have every time I’ve written about Lumberjanes, that this is a series about young women (some people might call them girls) and their friendships. I am not now, and have never been a young woman, and I’ve been known to be grumpy about friendships.

So Lumberjanes is cute and positive and full of lovely art and smart and inclusive (of female persons) and adventurous and has interesting Deep Secrets that are being gradually revealed, but it’s a book for young women and the adults those young women grew into. I like it, and I think Lumberjanes is happy enough that people like me like it, but that’s not why it’s here.

That is fine. That is better than fine; too much of the history of art has been made for people very much like me, and is still made for people like me today. What I’m saying is that you might want to get a female person’s take on Lumberjanes. For just one example, can I point you to Johanna Draper Carlson , who is also much more up-to-date on reading all things Lumberjanes than I am?

Lumberjanes, as always, is written by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters, and all of the art here is by regular series artist Brooke Allen. There are also now a couple of novels written by Mariko Tamaki for those of you allergic to the comics format but still possessed with a burning desire to experience the glory that is Lumberjanes.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.