Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Walking Dead-Season 4, Episode 7: Mr. Blake's Neighborhood

Awww man, as a fan of the comics this episode was a bit stressful. It played out like a game of chess. In this episode the Governor truly returns. As hard as Brian Hariot tried he just couldn't keep Philip Blake & his Governor persona at bay for long. After being saved by Martinez Philip, the Governor and his lady squad get ushered into his former left hand man's group. Although I appreciate that this episode didn't drag it's feet (screw it, pun intended) I did think the plot was a bit too convenient at times, but we'll get to that in a bit.

 Unlike some people I did enjoy the fact that we were getting a second installment to the Governor saga. Not just because it added a bit more dimension to his character and the people who are unknowingly caught up in his war path. It also broadens this world, giving it a bit more of a sweeping epic sorta feel. So the Gov and his group get used to their new life in the camp & Tara has even found herself a girlfriend (man interracial couples & gay couples TWD literally gives zero fucks and I love it), so things seem to be going good for the family. With the Governor around things inevitably go south!

This is where I found things to be a bit convenient. I thought it was kinda weird that Martinez embraced the guy, after everything he saw him do, slaughter innocent people, and fall off the deep end. I thought it was a bit out of character that he would not only completely let his guard down around him but also offer him to be in charge of another group of people, because the last time just went so well. But never the less he gets too comfortable around the guy and pays dearly for it. After passively mentioning they should share the leadership responsibilities, Phil goes all Tiger Woods on the him and uses my boy Martinez's head as a golf ball! This honestly surprised me, if anything I expected the Gov to silently plot a take over or figure out a way to slowly manipulate the guy, but nope! He clubs him, then feeds him to the walkers. Just as a small nitpick, I would have liked to see Martinez's death be a bit more graphic. He was a memorable character and he deserved a more gruesome death. C'mon Walking Dead, I wanna see more guts being used as tooth floss here!

So Martinez is out of the picture, it was a bit convenient but it made for good TV, and was a welcome sign that we weren't going to have to see them try and turn the Governor good. But what started as a single murder became a strategic coups d'etat. Pieces were moved through the course of this episode and as the stage was being set for a coming war, bad omens were peppered throughout. As for fans of the comics,we now know for sure the sh%t is hurtling towards the fan. No more wondering if the writers were going to go down the comic book route or if they were going to meander down some water'd down path. Thankfully it seems we're headed for comic book territory!

 Through this episode the Gov has been taking out the key leaders of the new group and in record time too! I mean you gotta hand it to the guy, hes totally mental but when it comes to becoming a charismatic leader for a group of survivors the guys like a fish in water! So it doesn't take long for him to K.O. Peter and then manipulate his brother into becoming his second in command putting himself at the top of the pyramid. And this is the other problem I had with this episode. The fact that the guy was so passive about this stranger coming in murdering his brother in cold blood and then taking control of the group was a bit far fetched to me. Yes, he did have a gun on him but still that's your brother I'd expected a bit more anger and distrust rather than immediately becoming a loyal servant to the guy.
But like I said, this episode doesn't drag it's feet, it moves things into place, and is preparing us for what's to come. And if you keep up with the comic then you know that next episode is going to be the episode we were expecting at the end of season 3. For some people, including me there is a lot riding on next episode. It has to deliver. Gimple, you've proven yourself a worthy show runner so far, now it's time to nut up or shut up! All I can say for people who haven't read the comic is buckle up because if they pull this mid-season finale off like they should, it's gonna be epic. Personally, I would like to see not only something similar to the comics in terms of character development and major story arcs coming to a crescendo, but I also want to see that giant horde of walkers Daryl and his group ran into a few episodes ago come back into play. I don't think they showed all those zombies for no reason. I think with a horde that size wandering around not too far from the prison and gunfire going off, it could be the perfect storm for the prisoners AND the Governor's group. Things have been set in motion rather nicely and this could be the episode we fans have all have been waiting for since the pilot episode!
I don't mean to hype it so much but things are getting really interesting and there some big events this story is heading towards. So overall I dug this episode and the two-part Governor story as a whole. This episode I thought was a big step up from the last one and it brings this villain full circle. So I'm going to give this episode an 8 out of 10. The drums of war are beating and by the end of the mid-season finale, I don't know if these characters will be the same. We gave this show a pass when they fumbled the ball at the end of the last season. So writers I ask you, do you have the guts to do what must be done for the good of the story as a whole, and push these characters further into the next chapter of the zombie saga? We're all eager to find out, don't choke.

Written By Isaiah Mueller

Monday, November 25, 2013

JFK, Magneto, and the (Formerly known as the Magic Bullet) Bent Bullet

Last Friday was the 50th anniversary of JFK's Assassination. In Watchmen lore, The Comedian was the grassy knoll shooter. However, Marvel theorists believe they have evidence to prove otherwise. The Warren Commission has argued that the trajectory of the Bent Bullet (Renamed by Marvel theorists) was created by the world's evilest mutant, Erik Lehnsherr, also known to his fellow mutants as Magneto. You can find articles, pictures, and more at The Bent Bullet. 

DC's Harley Quinn #0

Writers: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artists: Charles Adlard, Art Baltazar, Becky Cloonan, Darwyn Cooke, Tony S. Daniel, Sam Kieth, Bruce Timm, Jim Lee, Stephane Roux, Tradd Moore, and more
Release Date: November 20, 2013

In Harley Quinn # 0, DC Comics brings in something new, something that has been all but absent in The New 52. Fun! The stellar writing group of married proportions, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti deliver comedy and fun in spades. It is easily one of the  funniest books currently published today (The other that comes to mind is the always hilarious Quantum and Woody). The story revolves around Harley Quinn trying out artists for her new comic book.Through out the comic book, Quinn interacts with both the writers and the readers. It's a great piece of going beyond the fourth wall and it is done hilariously. I am curious to see if they can and will keep it going. Oh and ya here's other thing, this book is illustrated by a total of seventeen artists. Seventeen artists trying out to illustrate Harley's new on-going, and they certainly are not D-listers. The artist pool features the talents of Jim Lee, Darwyn Cooke,Amanda Conner, Sam Keith, Becky Cloonan, Adam Hughes, Tony Daniel and Bruce Timm who gets to draw a page of the character he created. Those aren't even half the artists in this book and they all are A-listers. There honestly wasn't one page were the art was bad or dipped even a little. It was amazing throughout. Also present is the page from the the winner of the talent search, Jeremy Roberts. He draws a page in which Harley Quinn is pretty much trying to commit suicide. Out of context it caused an uproar from fans, media alike, and for good reason as suicide is no joking matter, but the way it's presented in this book is tactfully and respectfully and nothing like it sounds.For someone who reads DC comics, and knows these artists this book is especially great, as Conner and Palmiotti use the histories and tendencies of the artists to incite hilarity,

Like when Harley who likes Adam Hughes's art asks if he can keep a monthly schedule and Palmiotti and Conner respond with a chorus of umm... and well... Also an extremely funny scene involved a reprint of Jim Lee's work and a crack about his pay check. Although these references take the book to new levels for longtime readers, people who do not have an extensive knowledge of these creators will no doubt miss out on a lot of these references. The story takes a big u-turn in the last couple of pages and sets up her adventures in issue one, although it seems a little forced. All in all, Harley Quinn #0 is a great comic that longtime fans of DC comics will love, and even those who don't have that knowledge will get something out of it thanks to the truly magnificent art on display. I highly recommend it as a buy.


Written by Alexander Handziuk 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Arrow-Season 2, Episode 7: Soapy Goodness

Count Vertigo 
Pros: Plot-lines juggled masterfully, solid and captivating reintroduction of Merlin. Bigger emotional connection than in previous episodes, short but good island scene.

Cons: Count Vertigo reduced to villain of the week status, Oliver killing, and soap opera feel at times.

Score 9.1/10

Arrow has certainly been picking up steam in the last couple of weeks. There seems to be a shocking twist every episode and to this point it has worked really well. Episode seven blows the previous episodes out of the water, in terms of shock value and scenes that leave you screaming at your TV. Thankfully these added moments and reveals do not overload the episode into a cheap bag of tricks, but instead create one of the best episodes of Arrow to date. Count Vertigo is back and he's spreading a drug around the city that causes people to become sick but the only cure to it is his patented drug Vertigo. Things get personal when Diggle is exposed to the drug and Ollie goes out to get Vertigo. Meanwhile Ollie's mom is not doing so well on the court front as she is unquestionably losing in the proceedings that will either leave her a free woman or end up with her death. Just when the Assistant D.A. finishes his statement against Moira he collapses, an obvious victim of The Count's new drug. As he's sped away in the ambulance it turns out that the driver is Count Vertigo. He kidnaps him and forces him to plead for the relief that vertigo will bring to his drugged up self. But Ollie saves the assistant D.A. while at the same time nailing home his new anti murder stance.

Now going into this episode I have to say that I love that he has this whole new lease on life. He can't just kill people,  he's not above the law and it gave me renewed hope for DC's rumored TV and movie worlds possible connection. But alas things are never easy. During this week's flashbacks, Ollie is taken to the island in order to locate the Japanese Sub. When they get there Ivo asks rather aggressively where the necklace is which locates the hidden submarine. Ollie full well knows that his friends have it but is mute on the matter. That's when his friends save the day and rescue Ollie. In the confusion, he grabs Sarah and takes her with them, escaping successfully. They learned that the coordinates on the pendant tell the subs location and that there is something of great power on the sub. This is very important as Slade is not doing to well after getting half his face burned and it is imperative that they reach the sub for him. Although the flashbacks weren't long this week, a lot happened and they continue to be one of the highlights of each episode week in week out. Back to the court proceedings, Moira is forced to testify herself or concede defeat but the new prosecutor, who is none other than Laurel Lance. She informs Moira that they have some sensitive documents and if she testifies they will be forced to use them to bring her down. Laurel doesn't like having to prosecute Moira and she was not well even before the proceedings. It is made clear that she feels secluded and alone with no way out. They don't show her taking pills like in previous episodes, but it is clear from the tone that she needs help but none comes this episode. Moira decides to get away from all these secrets and deception, tells her kids and then the whole world that she had a brief affair with Malcolm Merlin. In that moment, I finally felt something other than disinterest to Moira, I actually gained respect for her because she finally cut out all the lies and just told the truth, something that came at a great personal price to her. As the jury makes there final decisions, Ollie learns that Felicity has been kidnapped by Count Vertigo. He leaves his mom's court trial to save her and Thea can't believe that he would leave. I am impressed that Ollie has actually kept his identity secret from his sister and I think it adds to the anguish of being a hero. The battle with Vertigo is pretty anti-climactic. Ollie breaks in, Vertigo shoots at him and puts Felicity in danger. He cites the fact that Ollie won't kill him and Ollie proves him wrong. He kills him with three arrows to the chest. Ollie saves Felicity but loses something. Something that made his adventures in season two special and for my money better than season one. Immediately after killing him there is obvious remorse on his face, stemming from his failure to honor Tommy. It was disappointing to see him fall back and if this change is permanent, I believe it's a real step backward for the series.

Having saved Felicity and finding a cure for those affected by Vertigo, Ollie returns to the court knowing that there's a really good chance that his mom will be condemned to death. He's faced with a sense of helplessness. He can save the world from a madman or beat up a super-villain but is powerless to save his mom. However in a shocking twist, Moira is found not guilty.. Much to the surprise of almost everyone in Starling City. Everyone but one man. Moira's driver takes her to a remote part of town and tells her to step out of the car only to come face to face with Malcolm freaking Merlin, the one person in Starling City not shocked by the court verdict. Why? Because he arranged it, he got Moira acquitted.I mean if he can return from getting an arrow stuck through his chest then I guess he can swing a jury's votes. But there was still one reveal left and it was easily the biggest one and most soap opera-e of them all. Malcolm reveals that he took a genetic test and found out that Thea was his and Moira's daughter.I certainly didn't see it coming and although it seems like a lot of twists, they all complemented each other well.

In this episode, my dreams of a shared DC universe took a hit, Ollie went back to killing,Vertigo was nothing but a generic villain of the week and the constant reveals seemed a it soap opera-e. However, it pulled off a resounding and positive reaction from me. The episode seemed to take a step back, but only because it was building up steam for a charge forward. Arrow continues to be great and different against all odds and I definitely recommend that you watch it.

Written By: Alexander Handziuk

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Walking Dead-Season 4, Episode 6: The Governor Rises

He's baaack, and had a whole episode all to himself. Philip aka the Governor aka Brian Hariot has been out on the road since we last saw him. His two go to guys have abandon him after the slaughter of the Woodburians. So he bums around the zombie world until he finds a group of survivors. I think the whole one man on the road thing was cool, but I would have personally liked to see him a bit more scared from being out there by himself. I wanted to see how terrifying the landscape is when you don't have a group, or at least a partner to watch your back. Instead, we got to see him burn down his town which was cool, but the rest was pretty much just him being all emo. I would have liked to see the guy running for his life, narrowly escaping packs of walkers or something.

He eventually finds a group of survivors held up in an apartment building. Fans of the book "Rise of the Governor" is going to love this episode. While it doesn't dive as deeply into the psyche of Philip as the novel did it was still cool seeing apart of that story brought to life here. I liked that the writers chose to take a break from the Prisoners and give the Gov his own episode. It really broadens the world and gives us time to really get to know him. Part of the problem I had with this character last season was that he was kind of all over he place as a character, it felt like the writers didn't want to go all out with the character like Kirkman did in his books did, but they didn't do anything too interesting with him. However in "Live Bait", they introduce these women that he has to now take care of which gives a fresh take on the character.

I'm liking what they are doing with his relationship with the two women and especially the little girl. With his daughter dead, the girl gives him a new sense of purpose, and will probably inspire him to turn over a new leaf. While this episode didn't blow me away, it did intrigue me, and I'm curious as to what leads up to him showing up at the prison.

After brutally killing the re-animated father of the women with the very thing that was supposed to save his live, they take off. While on the road, Phil hooks up with the one sister who's not gay, makes a promise to protect, and watch over the little one, but not after a totally bad ass zombie fight scene! After a heard chases the survivors into the woods, Phil runs off with the kid, and tumbles into a walker burning pit with a couple of ghoules inside. When talking about this show I've often complained that the Gov wasn't as hardcore as he was in the graphic novel, but seeing the guy rip a zombies throat out then kill it with mo'fuckin femur bone now that's metal! Just when he saves the day, my boy Martinez shows up!

So I did enjoy this episode dedicated to the Gov, it looks like next weeks episode will be centered around him as well, and I'm not complaining. This episode has regained for me some interest in the Governer again & I wanna see how the things are gonna play out now that Martinez is in the mix with the survivors we met this episode. After all he is aware of all the twisted stuff the guy did. Like I said I wasn't blown away with the episode, I think there were some moments that lagged a bit, and I think they could have done a bit more with the episode considering its source material. So overall I'm giving "Live Bait" a 7 out of 10.

Written by Isaiah Mueller

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Walking Dead-Season 4, Episode 5: Bring Out Your Dead

Episode five "Internment" foretells doom for the prison community. No matter how hard Rick tries to hold onto the life they've made at the corrections facility, destiny seems to have something else in mind. Whether it's the super flu destroying the group from the inside or the rapidly growing army of walkers slowly making they're way in. So far this season has been stacking the odds against the group and seemingly setting up the dominoes to fall.

The episode opens with Hershel and his wheezy assistants Glenn & Sasha trying desperately to save a survivor from choking to death. Though they stabilize the guy for a while, Hershel realizes that he's the only one who can save them while Daryl's clique is still on the road. I'm glad Hershel finally got a chance to really shine in this episode. Most of the time he's the wise old Jedi quietly advising & saying just enough, so it's nice seeing him shotgun some zombies in the head again.

So Hershel spends his time in sick bay tending to all of the people with the flu and disposing of the ones who didn't make it. He refuses to kill the poor dead bastards in front of the poor living bastards, so he rolls the bodies away from sight. I have to say I really liked Hershel's characterization in that moment. By refusing to kill the sick in the cold light of day, he's shielding his flock from the harsh reality of it all. For me this really hearkens back to his days on the farm, and how he was in a way doing the same thing for his family, shielding them from the nightmarish chaos by keeping the walkers in his barn. Only now he's taken the responsibility of disposing bodies instead of living in some fantasy where everything turns out just fine. The guy's come a long way from his day's of denial is what I'm trying to say.

As sick bay continues to fall into chaos, Rick returns but with no Carol. After he explains himself to Maggie, she agrees leaving her was the best move, the fact that she wasn't a bit mad at Rick for that seemed a little convenient to me. Again, I can't buy that after everything these guys have been through she would be OK with her getting left behind, and most likely never seeing her again. However, there are bigger problems, Rick finds that more walkers are showing up and beginning to be too much for the fence. While Rick and Maggie tend to that problem, all hell breaks loose inside the prison.

More prisoners begin to turn and Hershel is clearly overwhelmed, with Glenn lying on the floor coughing up blood, and Lizzy deciding its a great time to teach a zombie how to be a sweet lil-pet, he has his hands full to say the least. But seriously this girls starting to get on my nerves! Zombies aren't pets, how many brushes with death is it gonna take for her to realize that? I don't know what fantasy she's living in, but if she thinks she's gonna be prancing around some wasteland with severed walker heads in a purse like shes the Kimkardashian  of the zombie apocalypse, shes gonna get torn apart pretty quickly.

But with all that said, Hershel really holds his own, proving that he deserves to survive another day in this harsh world. Not only does he break out the ol' shotgun on some walkers, he manages to save the dim witted Lizzy, and wrestle with a zombie for a breathing apparatus for Glenn, and his daughter ends up killing the thing but still not bad for an old guy with one leg!

But outside, the fence finally gives way and Rick & Carl do some father-son bonding, while blowing the heads off of reanimated cannibals. See The Walking Dead can be sweet too! I really liked the moment that Rick and Carl shared with few words, while the scene conveyed that Rick was starting to see Carl being a bit more responsible and self reliant, also the kid's a natural with a semi automatic! However, I do think it was a bit of a cop out when they dispatched all of those walkers so quickly, and with such ease. I mean if the zombies break in, make the zombies really break in, and maybe have the characters held up in the prison until they can band together and really fight em off. Overall, it was a good sequence that mixed action with character development, which is what this season seems to have in spades.

So the night of the living dead ends and we cut to the next bright, sunny day. Hershel seems to have some new found confidence, Daryl and his gang are back with medicine, Rick shares some peas with his son, and all seems right with the universe. Again, it seems destiny may have other plans for the group because Snake Pliss- I mean the Governor is back! I have mixed emotions about the cliffhanger. On one hand, I'm interested to see what Phillip Blake has been up to, but at the same time I'm really not interested in seeing the season 3 version of the Governor again. At this point, I want to see the graphic novel Gov. Crazy and hell bent on waging war with Rick and the rest riding atop some army vehicle screaming "KILL EM ALL!" We'll see where this goes. All in all, I thought this was a great episode. I love how they are taking the time to focus on specific characters, and giving them episodes revolving around they're problems rather than making it the Rick and Daryl show like they could have easily done. So I'm giving episode 5 "Internment" a 9 out of 10. This season has really been knocking it out of the park lately. Keep it up writers and please, do something interesting with the Governor this time around!

Written by Isaiah Mueller

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 4: Don't Call me Mom.

Change is the inevitable result of living in a world populated by zombies & it is the theme to this week's episode. Episode four entitled "Indifference" takes place outside of the secure walls of the prison and sends our characters into the harsh wilderness of the apocalypse. We begin with Carol giving a very motherly speech to Lizzy, who accidentally call's her mom, and brings up Sophia's death all over again. What I like about this opening sequence is that it really sets the tone for the episode, it sheds a light on how these guys have changed since the days when Rick was just a man looking for his wife & son, and Carol was helplessly trapped in her abusive relationship. I've said before that Carol has become one of my favorite characters and I can now use this episode as a clear marker for why I feel that way.

So with Daryl and co off traveling the back roads of Georgia, Rick & Carol decide to head off to find some supplies, but upon re-watching the episode it's clear Rick has other intentions. So the two take a road trip and eventually reach what seems to be an abandon house which is actually being occupied by two fruit bearing hipsters who have somehow managed to survive the undead hordes. They get acquainted and Carol finds that the blonde dude has a dislocated shoulder. Turns out she has a deep knowledge of shoulder injuries from her time spent with Ed and is able to heal the guy.
Meanwhile back on the road, Michonne and the shabby crew search for the animal hospital. Eventually they find it and scoop up some much needed meds, but not before ol' Bob snags a bottle letting his alcoholism get the best of him. Zombies chase our heroes through the hospital and they make a narrow rooftop escape, but upon leading out of a window Bob looses his footing, and almost lets his bag of alcoholic goodies fall into the clutches of a group of hungry walkers. But when Daryl finds that his backpacks full of booze he gets all alpha male with the former medic. Maybe the reason why Daryl gets so pissed is because of some kind of emotional wound his father left him that time never really healed. We don't know much about his past, but its pretty clear that his old man put the bottle before his family. This is the kind of stuff I'm really liking about this season. Gimple is thankfully deciding to focus on the characters and their development as opposed to forcing us to watch the Governor plot against the prisoners for another season which is what I was afraid the show was gonna turn into at first.
So Bob is left to think about where his priorities lie, with booze or his new family. But if you ask me, if farmer Rick wised up and started growing some chronic like the survivors did in Romero's "Day of the Dead," I don't think we would have this problem. I 'd rather Bob hit the peace pipe every now and again and have a mellow stoner on my team than an unpredictable alcoholic, just sayin'.
Meanwhile back in the zombie hood, Carol and Rick have a heart to heart about life, and loss. Both survivors are understandably emotionally wounded from losing their loved ones. Turns out Carol can't even utter poor Sophia's name anymore and Rick is still waiting for some poorly made pancakes from Lori. It's a delicate scene and it's performed pretty beautifully by the two leads. After they pick some fruit, they find poor ol' hipster girls corpse. Which kinda made me happy, something about that chick rubbed me the wrong way maybe it was her stupid crooked pigeon foot? I dunno, but I was happy to see her turn into walker grub for some reason.

So they wait around for that dreamy blonde dude, who seemed a little too happy, but they eventually leave the poor bastard behind. And this is where my mind imploded in on itself like Spock's planet did in J.J. Abrams's Star Trek. Carol gets voted out of the prison! I can kinda see Ricks logic in doing this. Carol's actions would have rocked the boat for sure, I don't think many would have been comfortable with her around after what she did. But on the other hand, Jesus officer friendly! You seriously just left her on her own? Part of me can't accept that, team Atlanta has to stick together you don't just abandon one of your own like that. But like it or not, Carol heads off into this soulless world by herself with nothing but her precious knives to keep her company. If this is the last time we see Carol, which I highly doubt it is, but if it is I think this was a good send off to her character. She came full circle in the end of this episode. She reconciled her feelings about the daughter she couldn't protect and the husband she couldn't bring herself to leave. She recognized how far she had come and in the end, just like that bug eyed wild lady in the woods said to Rick, sometimes you can't come back from the things you've done. This world does change you and most of the time it's for the worst, but in Carol's case I think it was for the better. The new world made her strong, I believe Carol will survive, and somehow return heroically to Ricks group, at least I hope so. Seeing her take off down the road with that soundtrack playing in the back dampened my eyes a bit, I maybe even shed a tear... I cried OK, you happy now? Carol was one of my favorites and seeing her cry made me cry alright?

So I really liked the character development in this episode specifically with Bob and Carol. Season 4 is getting good, I'm loving the direction its going, and the meditative atmosphere is adding a lot of much needed emotional weight to the show without it coming off like some kind of zombie soap opera like parts of season 2 did. So I'm giving "Indifference" another solid 8 out of 10

Written by Isaiah Mueller