Category Archives: Reviews

“Blocked” Review of S5 Ep2 of THE FLASH

Nora will be sticking around Central City for a while, so Team Flash is trying to get things back to normal.  Problem is, nothing is ever truly normal for Team Flash.  Cisco is lovesick over Gypsy, Cecile is worried about losing her powers, Caitlin wonders if her father is still alive, the satellites are still not working so they can’t track metas…oh, and there is someone out there killing people with meta powers! This is a jam-packed episode of THE FLASH…and that’s actually a very good thing! Want to know more? Follow us after the jump!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

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“Sage (Force)” Advice? Review of THE FLASH #56

The Sage Force has found a host in Mick Rory, aka Heat Wave, and as we left last issue it appeared that there was absolute devastation in Iron Heights. Just what is going on here? And, how can The Flash save both Heat Wave and Central City? Want to know more? Follow us after the jump!

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!

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“The Fastest Woman Alive” S5 Ep1 of THE FLASH

The wait is over! Season 5 of THE FLASH is here, with narration by “The Fastest Woman Alive”, Nora West-Allen, otherwise known as XS. Just what WAS the “big mistake” Nora made at the end of last season? What lies ahead that she can tell Barry and Iris? And, what about Barry’s new suit? Want to know more? Follow us after the jump!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Heat Wave and…another Force? Review of THE FLASH #55

There are plenty of guests early on in this issue of THE FLASH, but the main action comes with a very familiar Rogue.  Barry has yet to go on his Force Quest, but he may be reconsidering that thought soon – as he ends up face to face with Mick Rory in a way he never imagined! Want to know more? Follow us after the jump!

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Retro Review: Final Crisis (Graphic Audio)

After listening to Stop Motion, I picked up the Graphic Audio adaptation of Final Crisis.

It actually flows better than the comic book, especially toward the end, when the comic starts fragmenting the narrative. (That part is great as metatext, but there’s a lot of “wait, what just happened?” as you read it.) Scenes are fleshed out, and narrative fills in which details you need to glean from the artwork. There are a number of things that I thought had been added to the adaptation, but when I went back to read the original, they were there if you looked closely.

And of course having it all together avoids the problem of delays between chapters that plagued the original release, though that’s true of the collected edition too.

A lot of that is probably the novelization it was based on. It credits the story only to Greg Cox, with no mention of Grant Morrison or any of the artists, which is disappointing. But I don’t think it would work well as a book. The voice acting, music and sound make up for a lot of the lost visual punch and visual structure of the story, and it needs more than just the words.

The acting is compelling, and I found myself more interested in several of the characters as a result: particularly Renee Montoya as the Question, who moves in and out of the story in a number of places, but we actually get to see (or hear) what she’s doing rather than have to piece it together from a panel here and a panel there.

Alterations

One of the weird things is that it incorporates some of the tie-ins, but excludes the one that actually sets up Mandrakk. The Black Lightning/Tattooed Man story from “Submit” is included, along with the framing sequence from the Batman crossover. Those are good choices. “Submit” is a breakneck story that shows what’s going on at the street level when Darkseid takes over, and “Last Rites” clarifies what’s happening to Batman in the Evil Factory

But Superman getting recruited for a multiversal quest to stop Mandrakk, setting up the villain who appears in the final chapter? Completely missing. As a result, Mandrakk appears almost out of nowhere. Superman’s absence during the invasion is explained by having Brainiac 5 recruit him directly from Lois’ hospital room, sending him off to Legion of Three Worlds, and Ultraman’s appearances at the end are replaced with Mandrakk’s co-conspirator Monitor. It streamlines the story, but I think it streamlines it a little too much.

Anti-Life

The Anti-Life Equation is so terrifying because it’s not just mind control, it compels the surrender of free will. Those who have submitted spout slogans about how it justifies anything, how it’s so much easier than the struggles of life and love. It’s insidious, because psychological research has shown that decisions do take effort, and it is easier to offload tough decisions to a schedule, a policy, a leader, etc. The brain likes taking shortcuts around cognitive load.

There’s an appeal to never having to worry about making the wrong choice.

But we want to be able to make choices.

Darkseid Is

Another interesting thing about Final Crisis is how much damage Darkseid does just by existing. He doesn’t do any traditional super villain things in the entire story. No battles, no plotting. He just sits on his throne, taking advantage of a battle he already won, imposing his will on an entire planet and pulling it into a singularity. He spends most of the story sitting on an underground bunker, but his presence presses down on the world.

And he’s damn hard to kill. It takes Batman with a magic bullet, two Flashes leading a manifestation of death, Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, and Superman producing the exact counter-frequency to cancel out what remains of Darkseid’s soul’s quantum waveform as it lingers for months, continuing to drag Earth into oblivion.

Metal

But wow, I’m really seeing the parallels with Dark Knights: Metal even more strongly than when I was just comparing to memory.

Barbatos, like Darkseid, takes over the world between issues, and we jump to a handful of heroes mounting a desperate resistance. The keystone of the multiverse – conveniently the main DC Earth – is in danger of being pulled “downward” into an unending hell. And everyone’s fighting twisted versions of the heroes.

They’re a lot more alike than any of the Crisis events are to each other or to Metal.

Revisiting the Tie-Ins

After listening to the audio version, I re-read Final Crisis and read most of the tie-ins, some of them for the first time.

First, the tie-ins included in the Final Crisis collected edition:

  • Superman Beyond: I still think it’s essential, and I’m torn between thinking it should have been incorporated into the main story to begin with, and acknowledging that it sort of stands on its own and gave them the chance to do the 3-D gimmick for the first printing.
  • Batman/Last Rites: The framing sequence does help, but the stuff going on inside Batman’s head mostly isn’t relevant to this story.
  • Submit (Black Lightning/Tattooed Man): While not required to understand the main story, it adds a lot by showing the personal impact of the invasion.

And the others:

  • Resist (Checkmate): It broadens the scope, but can be skipped. I do like using the captive villain AIs as a way to get around the ALE’s control of communication channels.
  • Rogues Revenge: I didn’t like it as much this time through as I did ten years ago. The story was in the works before it became part of Final Crisis, and it shows. It still works as Rogues: Rebirth, but now I think the Crisis connections hurt more than they help.
  • Revelations: It’s a much tighter story that weaves in and out of issues 2 and 3 (if not seamlessly). It picks up the mostly-dropped threads of the Crime Bible and Vandal Savage, shows the early stages of Darkseid’s takeover, and presents an interesting combination of street-level and supernatural perspectives on a cosmic event. I didn’t read it originally, but I’m glad I finally got around to it. And I find myself wanting to go back and look for more Montoya/Question stories.

I didn’t re-read Requiem. I still haven’t picked up Rage of the Red Lanterns. I also didn’t re-read Legion of Three Worlds, which from what I recall has nothing to do with Final Crisis except that Superman passes through it between Superman: Beyond and his return to the main series. I remember it being a lot more confusing and a lot less interesting than Final Crisis itself despite being a more straight-forward superhero story.

I do want to re-read Multiversity now, though!

The Force Is Strong With… Review of THE FLASH #54

Barry Allen may not be the Fastest Man Alive any more, but right now he IS one of the strongest! The Strength Force has claimed him, and as we left last issue both Barry and Axel were being targeted by Commander Cold with a potentially lethal shot! This book carries a lot of the best of the Silver Age, but with a modern take that makes this an outstanding issue. Want to know more? Follow us after the jump!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

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