Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bell to Bell: Dastardly Deeds

So Edge & Christian were back this week, and ultimately played into things much more than we anticipated…

Thoughts From Raw:

Seth Rollins threatens to break Edge’s neck, forces John Cena into bringing back The Authority. This was a nice little twist, and from a heel standpoint, it made Seth Rollins look like a million bucks. My only real complaint is that it made Edge & Christian look like frail old men. But that’s nitpicking, considering Edge’s legitimate neck injury.

So after being gone for just over a month, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are back in control of Raw. That’s tough to complain about, considering they obviously need to build to a Triple H/Sting match for Wrestlemania. We knew they were coming back. Still, I can’t say I’m thrilled about the return of the heel authority figure dynamic. Not to mention 20-minute promo segments.

What’s interesting about this move is that it’s so dastardly, it positions Seth Rollins as the company’s top heel. Theoretically, that role should belong to Brock Lesnar. Going into the Royal Rumble, I’d like us to get some more time with Paul Heyman. We need to hear more about “The Conqueror,” and continue to hype he and Rollins simultaneously.

Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins via disqualification after interference by The Big Show. I liked this match a lot. Rollins and Reigns obviously have a lot of chemistry, and they told a nice story in there. And I’ve got to give The Big Show credit too. You rarely get a wrestler out there who does a guest commentary spot, and actually adds a lot to the presentation. But Show did that tonight. He talked about the match, and was a great heel announcer. I wouldn’t mind seeing Show at the announce position more as time goes on.

While Reigns did a nice job out there this week, I’m not at all convinced he’s the guy they want to go with at Wrestlemania. Simply put, he’s not ready. Give the guy another year. Let him headline Wrestlemania  in 2016. I won’t deny Reigns’ athleticism, or his potential to become a big star. But the way they’re fast-tracking Reigns, the fans are going to turn on him. Just watch.

And on the subject of the guy to go with at Wrestlemania XXXI...

Daniel Bryan announces his entrance into the 2015 Royal Rumble Match. Daniel Bryan’s presence during Wrestlemania season could change everything. If the fans are as into Bryan this year as they were last year, we could see another Rumble match hijacking. We were supposed to get Bryan vs. Lesnar at Summerslam. Could we now get Bryan vs. Lesnar at Wrestlemania?

After months of speculation, WWE confirms Christian is indeed retired. Definitely a downer to hear the real-life Jay Reso is done in the ring. Make no mistake about it, Christian was having awesome matches until the very end of his run. As far as WWE is concerned, he’s probably one of the most underrated guys WWE has ever had in terms of potential main event status. But one might also call Christian a tremendous overachiever. Who’d have thought a man of Christian’s build would win two Heavyweight Championships in a company owned by the giant-obsessed Vince McMahon. Well done, Mr. Reso. Well done.

WWE Network highlights Edge & Christian’s rivalry with The Hardy Boyz. Nice tie-in by WWE, using their library to supplement Edge & Christian’s presence on Raw. It’s curious to me, however, that they’d choose to play up the Hardys as well. Jeff is currently one of TNA’s marquee talents. I suppose that in itself is a statement on how WWE sees TNA in terms of competition…

Bray Wyatt/Dean Ambrose Ambulance Match announced for next week’s Raw. In light of this announcement, I’m glad that we didn’t see Ambrose on TV this week, and that we saw very little of Bray. It let the announcement breathe. Hopefully these two will get a nice blow-off next week. It seems like WWE has just been throwing them together for the sake of easy main events.

In an in-ring segment, Ryback talks about his journey to WWE. The real-life Ryan Reeves talked about most of this stuff several days ago Talk is Jericho last week. And while it’s undeniable that Ryback can be pretty dangerous in the ring, you’ve got to admire his determination and his positivity. WWE doesn’t do a lot of segments like this., where we actually get a reason to care about some of these characters. Hopefully “The Big Guy” gets some mileage out of it.

The Usos def. The Miz & Damien Sandow for the WWE Tag Team Titles. Well, this pretty much cements it, doesn’t it? It’s The Miz vs. Damien Sandow at Wrestlemania. Or at least, Miz vs. Sandow in the near future. Good for them. These guys deserve it for being so entertaining.

Cesaro vents a bit before losing to the returning Bad News Barrett. Cesaro seemed to be doing a bit of a “worked shoot” when he talked about not connecting with the audience. Oddly enough, it was those same “WWE decision makers” who screwed up the guy’s push by forcing him into a heel turn after Wrestlemania. The fans still want to cheer for Cesaro. All WWE needs to do is cast him in that babyface role, and see how he does. On the plus side, it’s great to see Bad News Barrett back in the ring. Hopefully 2015 will see him regain his momentum.

Luke Harper def. Jack Swagger. The Luke Harper character still seems an offshoot of the Bray Wyatt character, both in terms of his promos and his in-ring demeanor. Need proof? Look at the crowd during his entrance. They’re doing the same cell phone thing they do when Bray comes to the ring. WWE clearly jumped the gun when the put the Intercontinental Title on this guy, because we still have no idea who he is, outside of the fact he used to be in The Wyatt Family. 

Written By: Rob Siebert

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bell to Bell: Holiday Scraps

Let’s see…Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose, John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, and Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper. Tonight was basically TLC lite, with some Christmas puns thrown into it. A throwaway Raw if there ever was one. Couldn’t we have done something to build toward the Royal Rumble?

Still, appearances by a pair of legends were appreciated…

Thoughts From Raw:

John Cena def. Seth Rollins after an in-ring segment with "Ho Ho Hogan." I couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of Hulk Hogan and John Cena in the ring together. They're now so similar they even wear the same colors. And Cena took his bad comedy to a new low by singing "Let it Go." *shudders* Still, Rollins and Cena work well together. So the match justified yet another long-winded opening in-ring segment.

Incidentally, Hogan reportedly wants to do one more match with WWE. Frankly, I'm more than familiar with Hogan's schtick, so I'm not at all in need of yet another Hogan match. But the idea of him getting in the ring with a modern-day heel (Seth Rollins? Bray Wyatt?) is definitely appealing, even if the heel in question has next to no chance of getting the W.

Roman Reigns def. The Big Show via count out. So it looks like the plan is still to go with Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania XXXI, although I would argue Dean Ambrose is a better pick creatively. It’ll definitely be interesting to hear how the fans react to him at the Royal Rumble. If he’s in there with Ambrose or Ziggler, he might hear the same kind of boos that Batista heard last year.

Bray Wyatt def. Dean Ambrose in a “Miracle on 34th Street Fight. Again, we’re obviously milking TLC rematches this week. It’s a shame Ambrose couldn’t get at least one win somewhere in here. He’s one of the most entertaining guys on the roster. Can’t he win something?  

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper interviews Rusev & Lana for "Piper's Pit." Always happy to see Piper's Pit, whether on television or via podcast. His “We’re judging!” line was pretty funny. Putting Piper in the ring with Lana was certainly….intriguing. In any event, after being stuck in the tag match at Survivor Series, and being given something of a lame duck opponent at TLC, Rusev definitely needs somebody strong to work with over the next couple of weeks. Ryback is many things, and strong is indeed one of them.

Adam Rose turns on "The Bunny." Hey, I'd be angry too if my bunny mascot was more over than I was. So...is this going to lead to an Adam Rose vs. The Bunny match on a pay per view? I think I might opt out of that one, if ya'll don't mind.

Fandango def. Jack Swagger. I've got a bad feeling about Jack Swagger's career trajectory without Zeb Colter. Without somebody to do the talking for Jack, he's not necessarily in a good spot. "We the People!" will only take him so far.

Vignettes continue to air for The Ascension. These obviously guys got some buzz down in NXT, but it looks like they’ll be arriving to the main roster as a Road Warriors/Demolition-like tag team, complete with face paint and leather. Needless to say, I’m skeptical. But if they can make it work, more power to ‘em. 

Written By: Rob Siebert

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bell to Bell: WWE Tables, Ladders, & Chairs…and Stairs Predictions

Much to the chagrin of many a fan, this is our third straight pay per view without the WWE Champion. Heck, it's our third straight month without the WWE Champion. When Brock Lesnar became champion, people understandably had expectations about his schedule. Fans assumed WWE had signed him for more dates. Not a lot of dates, but some. Personally, I figured we'd see him defend the title at least once before Wrestlemania season began.


But that's okay, I guess. As always, it boils down to storytelling. Do they have a good story to go with this absentee champion? The answer is...kind of. It hasn't been said outright, but Brock not being there creates a certain aura around him. This is the man who is essentially holding the WWE Championship hostage. He's also the man who pinned The Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXX. He's the man who does the unthinkable. He's Brock Lesnar.

So Brock not being at TLC isn't a crime. Especially considering that in his absence, Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series both delivered, despite some of the TV shows being pretty lackluster. We've had things like The Authority losing their power, Sting making his first WWE appearance, as well as Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and (presumably) Bray Wyatt main eventing their first pay per views.

Obviously, TLC has some lofty predecessors to live up to...

Kofi Kingston & Big E. Langston vs. Goldust & Stardust

I'm not a fan of "The New Day." It's a stupid name for a group, they dress and act like the Harlem Globetrotters, and I just don't see any of these guys being furthered by this. Still, they're obviously being emphasized right now, so it makes sense to have them win. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of the much more interesting Goldust & Stardust. Incidentally, I'm growing pessimistic about us ever seeing a Dustin vs. Cody feud...

PREDICTION: Kofi Kingston & Big E. Langston

Rusev (c) vs. Jack Swagger

As I noted previously, it feels like Swagger was simply thrown back in front of Rusev so he could have an opponent for December. It’s pretty obvious he’s not going to be the one to take the belt from Rusev. Still, it could be worse. These two have history, obviously. I’ve got a bad feeling about Zeb Colter, though. He’s one of the best talkers WWE has, but supposedly he’s been having trouble getting around lately. That’s not necessarily surprising, as all that traveling can’t be easy for Zeb. In any event, Rusev wins.


The Miz & Damien Sandow (c) vs. The Usos

You know who deserves more credit than he’s being given for Sandow’s current success? The Miz. Granted, it was Sandow who made the most of what I assume was only supposed to be a one-night thing. But “Damien Mizdow” is a two-man show. Without Miz feeding him, he’s got nothing to work with. They really stumbled on something great with these two, and that’s why there’s no reason to take the tag titles off them now. These guys must be going to Wrestlemania. How could they not be? Unless they’re already feuding by then…

PREDICTION: The Miz & Damien Sandow

Nikki Bella (c) vs. AJ Lee

It’s felt like AJ has had one foot out the door since she married CM Punk. I don’t fault her for that. Everybody’s got a right to be happy and be with the person they love. After the Slammy Award speech she gave this week on Raw, it certainly feels like this might be her last night. If that’s the case, I really wish she was working with someone else. As anyone who’s read my stuff knows, I am not a Bella fan. I respect the effort that both twins put in. But…no. Just no. But alas, if AJ is on her way out, Nikki has to win. God willing, someone like Paige or Charlotte will come along soon and take the title.


The Big Show vs. Erick Rowan

I suppose a Stairs Match is no weirder than a Chairs Match. I don’t think it merited renaming the damn show, but giving these two a gimmick will probably result in a better match. From a storytelling standpoint, it makes sense to give a Stairs Match to two big guys, as it plays up the notion that this prop is really heavy. I imagine at some point in this match we’ll see Rowan slam Show on to the steps, as we’ve seen him pick up the giant before. It’s interesting to see Rowan spotlighted this way, as many thought he’d get lost in the shuffle after the Wyatt Family broke up. However, I’m going to say The Big Show takes this one home.

Kane vs. Ryback

I can’t help but think this match might have more of an epic feel if Kane were still dressed as “The Demon,” as opposed to a JCPenney catalog model. I’ve got to believe Ryback’s going over here. He seems to be a legitimately dangerous person to be in the ring with, but we can’t deny that he’s freakishly strong, and he seems to be legitimately crazy. At the very least, that makes him an interesting person to watch on television. But a future megastar? That remainds to be seen.


Luke Harper (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler

Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match? NOW they’re on to something. Needless to say, this match is a potential show stealer. In terms of who wins, it’s a toss up. Ziggler has won and lost the belt twice already this year. So the notion of him winning it again isn’t exactly far-fetched. But if WWE really wants to give Harper a try, I can’t see why they’d have him lose his first high-profile title defense. Frankly, I’m not sold on Harper yet. But this match could go a long way in changing that.


John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
If Cena loses, he is no longer number one contender.

So if John Cena isn’t wrestling Brock at the Royal Rumble, who is? The only logical substitute seems to be Randy Orton, who many believe will return at TLC. But they’ve got a Rollins/Orton feud built in for when he comes back, so it seems unlikely they’d divert him from that. As lame as it would be, it looks like it’s going to be Lesnar vs. Cena for a third time. Let’s say Cena wins, and the Orton comes back with an RKO to Rollins (From outta nowhere!!!!!).

Rob’s Prediction: John Cena

Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose

Much like Ambrose and Rollins main eventing Hell in a Cell, WWE has the chance to put a great spotlight Ambrose and Wyatt at TLC. Has their program been worthy of a pay per view main event? I can go either way on that one. When Bray’s mic work has been focused, and he’s not doing his evil laugh for no reason, the promos have been decent. But based on what they gave us at Survivor Series, I’m hoping the match overachieves. I’d love to see Ambrose win this sucker. Hell, he hasn’t won a single pay per view match since he struck out on his own. Sadly, I see more of the same here. But will it harm Ambrose? Probably not. I think what gets him over is his “unstable” vibe. You never know what he’s going to say, what he’s going to do, and THAT’s what makes him such an awesome commodity for WWE. Dean Ambrose will persevere. Hopefully for years to come.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Flash “The Man in the Yellow Suit”: A Review In Reverse

When Doctor Wells opens a hidden door inside his secret-future-room and reveals the yellow costume of the Reverse Flash, everything the viewer has seen since the episode began is thrown into doubt. How could he be the titular “Man in the Yellow Suit” if we all watched him get his butt kicked by the man himself in the force field chamber? Wells is playing a strange game with our hero, aggressively egging him on in his nascent heroism as the wheelchair-bound mentor Dr. Wells and now revealing that he might be Barry's life-long nemesis, once that seems placed on the Earth to taunt The Flash into becoming more powerful. Either way, the villain seems determined to “make The Flash a better hero,” to paraphrase the motivations of the last pre-New 52 Reverse Flash.

Only the timely intervention of Ronnie “Firestorm” Raymond 'saves' the Flash from a fatal beating from his rival, a still-disturbed Ronnie flies away, leaving his ex-fiancĂ© Caitlin in the same shocked state she's been in ever since she first saw Ronnie again in the parking garage, her wish for a reunion taking a much darker turn than she hoped.

Flash's inability to catch the Reverse Flash after receiving a direct challenge from his nemesis left him questioning his whole life, leading to an awkward reveal to his step-sister Iris of his love, not know that Detective Thawne (let in on the secret of the existence of Meta-humans in this episode, something he must have known about anyway, being the head of the anti-Flash task force!) had popped Iris 'The Question' (the “move in with me” Question, not the other one...or the objectivist one).

The sudden arrival of “Man in the Yellow Suit” throws Barry's life into turmoil, forcing the reveal of big secrets and hidden feelings in the mid-season finale of The Flash.

 Yes, I wrote that recap in reverse, it seemed appropriate to for an episode that turns everything on its head and capped off a stellar run of initial episodes that have defied expectations for the network's sophomore superhero effort. While I am sure that the network was counting on the (ahem) flashy visuals to get people to tune it, it's the storytelling that's proven to be the show's most special effect. No one tell The CW that, or they will take the money away that was used here to stage an incredible, award-worthy speedster duel inside a domed football stadium.

The Reverse Flash was everything he needed to be: ominous, scary and clearly a force to be reckoned with. His constant vibrations coupled with his glowing red eyes quickly established him as inhuman cold, the true reverse of the warm, enthusiastic energy that Grant Gustin's Flash shines with. It's telling that Gustin was unmasked/not in costume during both of his fights. I have a feeling that the show-runners have discovered how hard it is to convey emotion through a mask that covers as much as The Flash's does. It's not something they saw a lot when they examined Stephen Amell's stone-faced Arrow.

As incredible as it was to see the show's seminal mystery explored so early in the show's lifespan, the show-runners have also started to pay off on the Barry/Iris situation by finally setting up a real love triangle between the step-siblings and Detective Thawne. Having Barry give her 'a' ring and Eddie the keys to his home (and have him learn about Barry's feelings) has set a definite timer on the storyline requiring to resolve itself and not sink into endless teen soap-style pining.

Almost overshadowed by this and arrival of the Reverse Flash are two introductions: Ronnie Raymond, the nascent Firestorm is confirmed to be alive by shaken Caitlin, and long awaited return of Amanda Pays to Flash television programs, where she is portraying a new version of Dr. Tina McGee, here as the head of STAR rival Mercury Labs. Pays' new McGee hopefully is more than just an elaborate cameo or reoccurring character, in her brief scene she clearly could hold her own with Dr. Wells and Detective West, she'd be welcome to take over as this new Flash's scientist/mentor after Wells' schemes are revealed.

 If there was any misstep this week, it's the tricky ground the show is getting into with time travel. Clearly this was going to be an issue that was brought up from the start, thanks to Dr Wells' future-paper and the night in the past Barry's mom was killed, but you can't just strap on a tachyon powered vest, start implying that the two Flashes have fought each other a different number of times each so far and not start to lose the casual fan who's not looking for Doctor Who levels of pseudo-science.

 Flash Facts:

 -Jesse L. Martin's continued clear and totally authentic-looking joy at witnessing Barry's speedster antics will never get old. Never.

-Caitlin is going to have to get “frosty” if she is to be near her fiery beau again!

-Speaking of rings, Wells has a Flash ring! It even allows him to 'access' his suit! Will we ever see a Flash suit that could fit inside the ring?

-So Detective Thawne is not the Reverse Flash, or at least not yet. Sure Dr. Wells has the suit, but that doesn't mean that he was the time traveler who was wearing it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bell to Bell

Before we get into Raw, let's talk about the elephant in the room...

CM Punk signs deal with UFC, will fight some time next year. This is an interesting move for Punk, considering just how many doors seem to be open for him these days. He's writing for Marvel, he was supposedly thinking about forming  a band for awhile, I'm sure he could act in various movies or TV shows if he wanted to. But he went the MMA route. I give him props for wanting to take a risk like this and try something new. Certainly it's a huge disappointment to WWE fans who still long to see Punk in the ring. WWE now has even more egg on its face, as Punk trashed them so hard on that Colt Cabana podcast, and then signed with an organization that could be considered their competitor. But I suspect there's still hope for reconciliation. Let's give it a few years and see what happens.

Thoughts From Raw:

WWE changes Pay Per View name to Tables, Ladders, & Chairs...and Stairs. Point blank, this is stupid. The idea of a "Stairs" match adds next to nothing to the pay per view's drawing power, much less adding it to the name of the damn show. 

Roman Reigns wins Slammy Award for Superstar of the Year. Considering these were supposedly voted on by the fans, I'd say this is a good sign for WWE, as they clearly want Roman Reigns to be their next guy. I'm still not convinced he's ready, though. He might need a little more time to cook as a singles star before they give him the top spot. But hey, "power to the people," and all that...

AJ Lee wins Slammy Award for Diva of the Year. It's always interesting to see how WWE uses AJ, the wife of such a controversial figure, CM Punk. Seemingly, very little has changed. But now that Punk has signed with UFC, you've got to wonder just how much either side wants to be around the other. In any event, the fans clearly have no desire to see her go. 

John Cena and the Big Show square off in the main event. This one was kind of a snorefest. I joked on Twitter that this was like taking a trip back to 2004. How many John Cena/Big Show matches have we seen in the last 10 years? And how many times have we seen Cena hoist Show up for the Attitude Adjustment? It just had a "been there, done that" feel to it.

Bray Wyatt cuts a go-home promo before TLC. Holy crap! Bray Wyatt is actually acting like a heel! He even said: "I despise each and every last one of you." And he cut down on the laughing. I maintain that Wyatt's mic work isn't as good as people say it is, but this week was an improvement. He's gettin' there. Dean Ambrose's entrance with the ambulance was cool too. These guys work great as enemies.  And of course, it's exciting to see them getting to main event a pay per view. At least I'm assuming they're the main event...

WWE gives Luke Harper vs. Eric Rowan away for free on Raw, with no build up. How stupid was THIS? You had a built-in program here between these two former members of the Wyatt Family. For the Intercontinental Title, no less! Why would you blow off that initial explosion between the two without even telling us what's coming? 

Charlotte makes her long-awaited Raw debut. Pleasantly surprised to see Charlotte show up on Raw, wrestling Natalya no less. This girl is definitely a breath of fresh air. And wouldn't you know it, she can actually wrestle! I'd love to see her reach the main roster after Wrestlemania season. She beats the hell outta seeing the Bella twins, that's for sure.

Seth Rollins cuts a promo on Sting after he wins the "This is Awesome" Slammy Award. Depending on how many matches WWE can get out of Sting (supposedly his current deal only calls for six dates), a Sting/Seth Rollins match might be interesting. Rollins is one of the top bad guys in the company right now, and it would be interesting to see what a man of his talents could do with someone like Sting. Will it happen? Probably not. But you never know.

Rusev to face Jack Swagger at TLC. We already know Rusev isn't going to lose at TLC. But it's still interesting to see him interact with various different personalities on the roster. That's why it's somewhat curious to see he's facing Jack Swagger yet again. Still, Swagger had kind of a cool moment this week, on the mic no less! Short, concise, and to the point. He looked like the bad ass grappler WWE has apparently wanted him to be.

Kane continues to wrestle in black dockers. So Kane is basically an active wrestler again, right? And there's no Authority on TV anymore, so he's not really "Corporate Kane." So can we maybe get him his black and red tights back? The contrast of the demonic music/pyro against this bland-looking wrestler sends mixed messages to the audience.

Rob Van Dam makes surprise appearance to present a Slammy Award. RVD was definitely a pleasant surprise, but I can't help but think it would have been that much better if, during his last few runs, WWE had build him up as the main event level star he's always been. Chris Jericho (who is apparently coming back next week) got that, but clearly RVD got the shaft. 

How Jen Got Her Nerdy Back!

In order for me to tell you how I got my geek back, I have to briefly touch on how I lost it in the first place, though I won’t go into a lot of the gory details.  I married, and later had a child with, someone I thought I would be with forever.  His fondness for my girly, geeky personality soon faded to contempt.  My comic books and action figure collection went from being an asset to an embarrassment.  My quirky, creative, artistic side went from awesome to awful.  I was told that I must sell my beloved collections and focus on other hobbies that were more mainstream and adult – so I did.  I sold almost everything in a one-day sale at a flea market.  Everything that was left was packed into cardboard boxes and went into a shed. 

As fate would have it, the shed was made by a well-meaning family member of his out of reclaimed wood, reclaimed wood that was later found to be rotten and full of termites.  As hard as it had been to sell my beloved treasures, it was much harder to throw away my half-eaten comic books and desecrated collectibles.  At least the items I sold went to a good home.  My poor comics in the shed had provided sustenance for the little beasts that destroyed them and left me heartbroken with a mess to clean up.  I swear I saw one leaning back in a corner with a swollen belly finishing up with a toothpick for dessert.

After what I like to call “the incident,” I picked out what was left from the rubble, put it in plastic boxes on high shelves and helped rebuild the rotten spots with new wood.  Between the boards, yearbooks, family papers, heirlooms and my pitiful books, I spent an entire day sifting through debris and ended up having to take an entire truckload to the dump.  My parents were the only ones willing to help me with the task and I spent a lot of that day alone with my thoughts.  The experience did help me to learn that stuff is just stuff and that I am lucky it was simply a shed and not my home.

I took away what I could from the incident philosophically and physically, but it felt as if a little spark inside me died that day.  I tried to maintain my art and writing, but that seemed to be a source of contention as well.  As our daughter grew it became more and more apparent that creativity had been passed down and was a part of her DNA.  It was as much a part of her as it was me, maybe more.  With the exception of a few projects here and there, I was content to put my energies into fostering her talent and doing my best to make sure she was in an environment in which she could thrive.

Despite my efforts, the marriage crumbled and I had to once again pick through my belongings and give some of my things over to another.  While I regret the ending of such an important chapter in a book that I thought would end with a happily ever after, my daughter and I learned that we could start over with a new story.

The universe does have a sense of humor though.  My ex-husband e-mailed me a little over a year ago, to tell me about an event at a comic book store called 99 Issues.  The e-mail indicated that there would be several comic book artists in attendance to meet fans and sign comics.  He said he wanted to take our daughter.  I was all for it as my newly-six-year-old, budding artist had been working on her own comic and art for some time. She could sit for hours drawing with a focus I had never seen in a small child.  In another twist of the tale, it happened that he had something come up and we had to swap weekends, so I would be the one to take her to the signing.  Neither of us had ever been to anything like this before, in fact we had never even been to 99 Issues.  The night before we decided to scope things out and visit the store to get the lay of the land.  That’s when we met Chris Barnett and Nolen Overton.  Chris immediately came over and introduced himself.  He walked us around the store, showing us comics by the artists who would be at the event, and answering our questions.  From that day on whenever we go into the shop, someone always greets us, they recognize us and they make us feel welcome.

The next afternoon we arrived at the shop.  Of all the artists there, my daughter was immediately drawn to the only female artist at the tables, Amanda Rachels co-founder of a local, independent publisher, Inverse Press.  Looking like a comic book beauty herself, Amanda was kind and gracious.  She and my little one became instant friends.  From Inverse Press we also met writer/co-founder Kevin LaPorte and artist Rando Dixon.

Every single person in that shop showed an interest in my daughter.  They all stopped what they were doing and took time to talk with her, answer her questions and look over her drawings.  I was so moved that these talented people would be so down-to-earth, so kind and so willing to share their knowledge with a little girl.  Steven Butler and Steve Scott were phenomenal.  And it wasn’t just my child; it was like that with everyone who came through the door, young and old alike.  The artists and writers spent personal time with each and every person.   We bought comics and art prints.  We got autographs and advice.  We laughed, talked and made new friends.

We rounded that shop a thousand times it seems and we kept going back to the Inverse Press crew.  For signing up for Amanda’s e-mail list, we were gifted with an autographed copy of an anthology with a short story from Inverse Press’s Clown Town universe.  While not suitable for my little one, it was just what I’d been looking for in a comic.  Clown Town will always be special to me as it was the story that brought me back to comics, back to writing and back to art.  Its tale of clowns who avenge abused children touched my heart and haunted me in a way I cannot express.  I will be forever grateful to Kevin and Amanda for that gift.  Soon after, I went in search of the rest of the Clown Town series and then on to devour every title Inverse Press has in their library.  I eagerly await their next release.

As strange as it may sound, it was truly a wonderful day in our lives that made a difference.  It gave my daughter new determination, confidence and a lovely memorable time that we recall often.  As for me, that little spark inside reignited that day and turned into a flame that burns hot and strong.  I got to share an old passion with my daughter and meet some of my idols.  I realized that I was free to pursue my hobbies and that it was something that my daughter and I could enjoy together.  I no longer had to set that part of myself aside.  I was even able to rebuy one of my Wonder Woman issues that was chewed up by the termites and get it autographed by none other than Dan Mishkin!

Since that day, we have met other authors and artists such as Erica J. Heflin, Kate Frizzell and Nathan Smith.  We see Chris and Nolen and the rest of the 99 Issues gang at the shop and they know us.  We feel a sense of belonging and kinship.  We count ourselves lucky to have met so many talented and warm people.

Now in the evenings my girl and I both draw.  We turn off the television and make up our own stories and plan out our own comics.  We embrace our inner geek.  We create and we are happy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Previously on The Walking Dead… Episode 508: Coda

This episode starts out with Lamson fleeing the scene after knocking out Sasha.  Rick catches up and administers quick and harsh judgment.  The others hostages still seem willing to try for a peaceful trade with Dawn for Carol and Beth.

Last week we saw Father Gabriel flee the church.  At first it was not clear whether or not he stumbled upon Gareth’s campsite by chance or if he was on a fact-finding mission all along, but one look at the maggot-covered remains of Bob’s foot brings him to tears.  He finds himself surrounded by walkers and runs away.  He makes it back to the church to be confronted by the horror endured by his parishioners when they were stuck outside, clawing to get in and begging for help.  Only this time, Carl and Michonne show him the mercy that he denied others.  They let him in and the walkers overrun the church.  Our group retreats to the rectory and uses the hole in the floor to escape, boarding the walkers inside the church.  Father Gabriel said that he did indeed go out to see for his self what happened at the campsite.  Carl and Michonne brace themselves for a fight as the walkers break through the door, but Abraham shows up just in time with the fire truck, smashing through the church and sealing off the exit completely.

We see Beth staring down into an open elevator shaft in deep thought.  Dawn finds her and proceeds to attempt to further manipulate Beth into being on her side.  O’Donnell overhears them talking and a brief fight between he and Dawn ensues.  O’Donnell gets dangerously close to the elevator shaft and Beth pushes him over the edge. Later, Beth sits by Carol’s bedside and tells Dawn that she knows she’s been manipulating her into helping her kill problem officers and to do her dirty work.  She tells Dawn that she will one day escape like Noah, to which Dawn predicts that Noah will be returning soon.  This upsets Beth even further.

The next scenes show Rick and company, including Noah, attempting to make the hostage exchange.  Dawn seems to accept the terms of the deal easily.  However, since she considers Noah to be one of her group, she will not let the group leave without him being turn over to her.  Noah agrees to stay behind in order to keep the peace.  Beth then moves toward Dawn and stabs her with a small pair of surgical scissors that she had hidden in her cast.  Dawn is shocked and shoots Beth in the head.  It’s not apparent whether this was an accident on Dawn’s part or self-defense – either way she looks shocked and horrified at having killed Beth.  It is also possible that Beth knew exactly what the outcome would be when she first picked up the scissors.

The scene happens very quickly and quietly.  At first there is a “what just happened?” moment.  Then we see everyone sobbing.  Daryl gently lifts up her body and carries her out.  Norman Reedus does some fine acting here.  His pain is palpable.  Abraham, Maggie, Glenn and the rest of the crew show up at the hospital just as Daryl steps out into the sunlight with Beth.  Maggie immediately collapses.  Maggie has been so strong through almost losing Glenn, the recent death of her father and the disappointment of Eugene’s lie.  The death of her sister is her breaking point.

Then in true sci fi/horror tradition, after the credits roll we get a bonus scene.  We see Morgan enter the empty church and find Abraham’s note to Rick.  His eyes widen and we fade to black.

Now there are more questions than ever and a lengthy wait to start on the answers.  Will Morgan and Rick reunite and how will that go?  What about Washington?  Have we seen the last of Dawn?  Will Abraham find a new mission to keep him going?  Will Daryl and Maggie recover from Beth’s death?  Will Carol recover from her injuries?  Is there a Daryl/Carol romance ahead or are they just close friends?  Is there more to Father Gabriel than meets the eye and will he fight with the group now?  What about Eugene and Noah?  How will Carl, Rick and Michonne fare the rest of the season?  The list of questions just goes on and on.

The name of the episode – “Coda” – was very appropriate.  It closed several story lines and brought a lot of things back around full circle.  It was also the ending of a beloved character.  I for one can’t wait until February and I’m sure that even then, the second half of the season won’t be long enough to satisfy us.  Rest in peace Beth.

Written by: @HGirl75