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Archer Season 8 Episode 1 Review: No Good Deed

I couldn’t have picked a better time to start re-reading The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s 1939 detective novel that details a hardboiled, detached private investigator discovering the seedy criminal underbelly of LA while investigating a murder. Archer Dreamland premiers and honestly feels like a small screen size retelling of The Big Sleep…if only Chandler dropped a tab of acid before dropping his pen to paper and decided to star suave spy Sterling Archer in lieu of Marlowe. Or at least, that’s what I hope it will be. No Good Deed kicks off the new season with a funeral and a fake-out after last season ended floating in murky waters with Archer’s face down in a swimming pool courtesy of his cougar crush, Veronica Deane. Though we all knew (or at least, hoped the creators wouldn’t pull a final season of the Office and omit the focal point of the series) that Archer wouldn’t be gone for good, it was really nice to see the passing of Woodhouse addressed and really set the plot in motion in a big way, as the original real-life voice actor, George Coe, recently passed away.

After this brief intro, we find Malory and Lana in a hospital to address just what exactly happened after those events closed the season. They are next to Archer in a coma and although they don’t know when he will wake, they take comfort in the solace that hopefully, Archer doesn’t know about the passing of the man who practically raised him. Except, he does. Dreamland is a coma series taking place in Archer’s literal dream that sees our old characters placed into totally new scenarios and roles. The avenue that the creators of Archer chose to pursue Dreamland has so much promise; although this premise is executed better in theory than in practice during the first episode of this new direction, as No Good Deed was an episode that unfolds a little too slow at points but still excels on intrigue and writing quality.

The direction reinvigorates the series in a way both refreshing yet familiar; our old pals that we knew since ISIS have the same personality as back then but entirely different lives and social roles.

Overall, the animation, the writing, and the thought process behind certain devices remain truly top-notch, and as expected from Archer, the verbal interplay between characters was beyond sharp and witty. The scene is set for an amplified version of Season 7, allowing Adam Reed and the other writers of the series to totally immerse themselves deeper in whatever whimsies crossed their mind while dipping their toes into the private investigator business back with the Phygis agency in real life LA. Archer’s own warped, dreamy version of noir remains at the top of must-see television throughout the remainder of Dreamland.

8
Score
Archer Season 8 Episode 1: No Good Dead
The Bottom Line
Archer’s own warped, dreamy version of noir remains at the top of must-see television throughout the remainder of Dreamland.
Top-notch writing and animation
The episode unfolds a bit slow

THE FLASH #22 Review

Well ladies and gentlemen, here it is, The Button part four! There has been a whole lot of talk about this issue, and rightfully so. Everyone is buzzing about the issue because of this, the final chapter of The Button should offer some answers to all of the questions that have been spinning around the DC Rebirth event and the pending crossover with The Watchmen. And now that Geoff Johns has teased us with the Doomsday Clock storyline that will hit this coming November…the excitement levels throughout the DC fan community are soaring.

The Flash #22So, what’s the Flash #22 about? From DC:

“THE BUTTON” part four! The cataclysmic events of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 continue here! The Dark Knight and The Fastest Man Alive, the two greatest detectives on any world, unite to explore the mystery behind a certain blood-stained smiley button embedded in the Batcave wall. What starts as a simple investigation turns deadly when the secrets of the button prove irresistible to an unwelcome third party-and it’s not who anyone suspects! It’s a mystery woven through time, and the ticking clock starts here!

Several times throughout reading this issue, I got chills and had to stop reading for a moment to collect myself, and even that wasn’t enough. The Flash #22 is a comic book that fans—including myself—are going to read over and over and over in hopes of finding clues that hide in between panels. Clearly, there are big things happening in the DC universe, and clearly, The Watchmen are involved. That much we know. Hopefully, we’ll learn more come November.

Writing this review without spoiling the book is terribly difficult, so all I will say is that this book is one that fans new and old MUST READ. I think that this crossover event was amazing and that thanks to The Button, DC’s Rebirth, and the impending Doomsday Clock storyline, we may be entering a new era of comics. God, I am happy to be alive.

Everything about this issue, in my mind, is ideal. The art is fantastic, the writing, spectacular. And the prologue…everyone is going to be talking about the prologue for a very long time.

Amazing.

10
Score
The Flash #22
The Bottom Line
Everything about this issue, in my mind, is ideal. The art is fantastic, the writing, spectacular. And the prologue…everyone is going to be talking about the prologue for a very long time.
Yes!
I'm still shaking
Read The Flash #22 Now!

Super Sons #1 | Review

Super Sons #1 is fun and entertaining and is exactly the kind of comic that you want you to read when you need a break from the world-ending, super-serious books that we’ve become accustomed to as of late. Super Sons is going to be the book that you look forward to—the book that you save for last so that you can finish the day’s reading with a smile on your face.

Super Sons gets off to a great start with its first issue. Writer Peter Tomasi sets the stage for the series and really does a fine job depicting the unstable bond between Robin and Superboy. While Tomasi does spend more time on Jon Kent (Superboy) than he does Damian Wayne (Robin), it’s clear that both boys take after their fathers and will surely be butting heads throughout the entirety of their relationship.

Writing for young superheroes can be quite a task since they are typically more flawed—more innocent and less-experienced—than their adult counterparts, but Tomasi approaches writing for Superboy and Robin like he would any other hero. Neither pint-sized crime fighter comes off as whiney or annoying or even incapable of fighting the good fight. Sure, their battles are going to be less intense than their fathers’ battles (perhaps), but isn’t that the point?

Tomasi’s writing shines brightest in this issue when Robin and Superboy interact with one another. Their exchanges feel real and age-appropriate, and with each line of dialogue Tomasi not only reveals more about each character, but he also foreshadows issues that will surely arise in the duo’s relationship further down the road.

In Super Sons #1, Peter Tomasi basically says, “Hey, this is what you’re going to get if you keep reading.” And with the even balance of depth and levity that Peter Tomasi is bringing to this series, I am sure that I will want more.

Artist Jorge Jimenez’ illustrations fit perfectly with the story that Tomasi is crafting. The exaggerated, ‘cartoonish,’ style that Jimenez utilizes in Super Sons #1 simultaneously adds weight to the story while also lightening its feel. The line work is heavier than I typically prefer, but it’s clean and there is a certain fullness to each panel that adds to the overall feel-good atmosphere of the book.

More so than his character illustrations, Jimenez’ layout/panel work is flawless. As much as I enjoyed the ‘action’ scenes, my favorite panels of the Super Sons #1 are the close-up shots that appear throughout the issue. In these close-up shots, Jimenez perfectly illustrates the emotion that each boy is feeling at that time.

I’ve flipped through the issue several times looking for panels that didn’t work, and frankly, I couldn’t find any…

If you notice, I didn’t mention any of the issue’s plot in this review, and my reasoning here is that I want you to read it for yourself. The experience is worth it, trust me. I’m very much looking forward to Super Sons #2, and really hope that after reading Issue #1, you will be too.

AMERICAN GODS Season 1 Episode 1 “The Bone Orchard” Review

Beginning with Vikings in the New World, we see violence and blood everywhere and see that mere mortal are only the tools of powerful creatures. If this first episode doesn’t exactly spell out what the world is really like, we get plenty of hints. First is the creepy and menacing Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) who offers ex-con Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) a job. Then, there is Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), who insists on fighting him. All this on his first day out of prison thanks to an early release after being told his wife died.

The problems though are only just beginning with freedom. To have a name like “Shadow Moon” is to be drawn into the supernatural. Ricky Whittle plays this charming and intense ex-con with a great mix of apprehension and hopelessness. Plagued with foreshadowing dreams and visions, of course, things get worse. Not only is his wife dead, but his best friend who was supposed to have a job waiting for him, he’s dead too. Oh, and they died in the same car accident, in flagrante delicto, in fact.

The real peril is merely hinted at, the action is superb and the dialogue is sparkling. The humans in this story are not happy and the gods aren’t there to bail them out. Quite the contrary, it appears.

“The Bone Orchard” also ends with a brutal assault. Shadow is attacked at the behest of a digital avatar with no explanation. Clearly, he’s gotten himself into the middle of something bad, and even though there is still much to be revealed, everybody knows Shadow’s situation is completely beyond his understanding or control.

American Gods is shocking and disconcerting and so very intricate and compelling. It may even be one of those cases where it exceeds the source material in every way. This is a must see for anyone interested in the suspenseful and chilling whether you are familiar with the material or not.

AMERICAN GODS Season 1 Episode 1 “The Bone Orchard” easily earns a 9 out of 10 and a promise of so much more.

Rat Queens Vol. 2 Issue #1 Review

What better way to start the newest volume of an adventure story than with a massacre scene showing dozens of bodies strewn across a field. A closer look, however, reveals ubiquitous red cups (among other things) and a banner reading “Party Party Party.” The girls are back in town and we’ve missed them, for sure!

So, what’s Rat Queens Vol.2 Issue #1 about?

“‘CAT KINGS AND OTHER GARYS,’ Part One. The Rat Queens are back! Betty, Violet, Dee, Braga, and Hannah return! Palisade is still a rat-infested troll’s ass, and everyone still hates Gary. It’s been a while since the Queens have done a good slaughter, so join them as they get back to the basics of killing monsters and drinking away the profits.”

This opening image is and has been what Rat Queens is all about. On the surface, we are given the expected crew of adventurers hewing foes and derring-their-doing. A magic user, a thief, a fighter, a healer make of the usual fantasy races to fill out the party. Composed of the near demonic, very small, dwarflike and human and maybe something monster-ish, all the components for a successful campaign are in place. But in addition to the fictional representations, these are also the familiar personalities of our gamer friends. It just so happens that on these pages they are all beautiful and powerful women. “Blindly to the bloodletting, my Queens!” shouts Violet, the ginger dwarven warrior as they burst into the abandoned structure drawn by the sound of combat.

This issue has our Queens find a group of so-called “Cat Kings” infringing on their turf led by Vi’s brother Barrie and looking like quite a poor copy, cowardly and not very bright. The final boss a goose dragon that hurls beams and sonic bolts and spews gas of some kind.

With artwork of excruciating detail and manic energy, Gieni captures the spirit and personality of the Queen with a beauty and simplicity that is easy to enjoy. Wiebe gives us sharp dialogue and expertly turns our expectations upside down.

All fun and games until somebody gets hurt, but mostly all fun.

Batman #19 Review

Packed with non-stop, skull-cracking, back-breaking action, Tom King and David Finch’s Batman #19 is an onslaught of entertainment. This, the fourth chapter of the ‘I Am Bane’ arc hits incredibly hard and is the perfect follow-up to the amazing Batman #18. And while I believe that it lacks the overall depth of its predecessor, Batman #19 is still a brilliant work that will leave Bane fans begging for more.

So what’s Batman #19 about? From the publisher:

“’I AM BANE’ part four! Batman is losing…Bane is going to break him for good this time. The Dark Knight must turn to a very unlikely weapon to beat Bane once and for all!”

This, the fourth part of the ‘I Am Bane’ arc, picks up with Bane passing through the doors of Arkham Asylum in search of the Dark knight. As Bane makes his way deeper and deeper into the asylum, I am, as I am sure it was Tom King’s intention, reminded of Dante’s hellish descent. Hell, if it wasn’t King’s intent, would he have started the issue out with a quote from Dante Alighieri’s Inferno? I think not. King also ends the issue with some rather fitting lines taken from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Spotting these references made my heart beat faster and more intensely than it normally does while I read comics, and for that I am thankful.

While I was very impressed with King’s smart, classically inspired writing, I was more so impressed by David Finch’s stellar artwork. I love nothing more, as far as my comic book villains go, than seeing Bane, all pumped up with Venom, kicking ass and taking names. And thus far in this arc, Finch has delivered some utterly amazing artwork, and in Batman #19, the ass-kickery is off the charts thanks to Finch’s illustrations.

I could sit and write about this book for hours, and go on and on about how great it is, but unfortunately, there are other issues calling my name. The bottom line here is that I absolutely enjoyed my time spent with this issue, I am looking forward to Issue #20, and I recommend buying this one even if you haven’t read any of the current Batman issues leading up to this.

John Wick: Chapter 2 | Review

At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I’ll say that John Wick: Chapter 2 is a non-stop thrill ride, and I’m glad this is in print, because it sounds utterly ridiculous when I say it out-loud. Ridiculous or not, it’s true. Before the opening credits are displayed, viewers are greeted with action as the start of the film contains two high speed chases, one of which results in a fair bit of damage and the title character kicking the ever-loving shit out of quite a few nameless goons. Yes, all of this happens before we even see the film’s title on the screen, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Chapter 2 starts with John Wick, Keanu Reeves (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), tying up loose ends (that I was completely unaware of), that the first movie left unfinished. After getting his car back and avenging his dog, John reburies all of his assassin gear in the basement. Just as he finishes this, he gets a visit from Santino D’Antonio, a former associate, who’s come to collect on a blood debt John owes him. When he refuses, Santino blows up John’s house. Knowing he has no choice John agrees to kill Santino’s sister, Gianna, so that he can take her place at the high table. A task that ends up being extremely easy, but that’s when things get ugly for our favorite assassin. Cassian, Common (Smokin’ Aces), Gianna’s right hand, vows revenge and Santino puts out a seven-million-dollar contract on John. This, of course, inspires the majority of the assassin world to try and kill him. Once the ball is rolling, we get to watch over an hour of John Wick straight up murdering anyone that gets in his way, which is really all we want from this film anyway.

I know that John Wick: Chapter 2 won’t be making any buzz come next award season, but who cares. Not every film that makes it to theaters has to be a Citizen Kane or a Gone with the Wind. This sequel not only delivers everything that it promises, but it also provides everything that fans wanted more of from the first film. Jonathan Eusebio’s fight choreography is intense and beautifully smooth, the story isn’t overly complicated or confusing, and the ending is a perfect set up for a Chapter 3. If you like mindless violence, revenge stories, and tons of action, then this movie is just what you’re looking for.

Bonus: Keanu Reeves and Common have a fight scene that rivals the unbelievably long and absurd fight between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live (1988). There’s no background music, it’s evenly matched, and it feels like it is never going to end. It’s pretty awesome.

Harley Quinn #17 Review

I probably have an unhealthy love for Harley. I love her dopiness and her intelligence. I love her compassion and her brutality. I love her loyalty and her independence. And since most people would tell you I’m “one bad day” away from becoming the Joker anyway, it’s fitting that I’m crazy for her. So what could be better than two Harley stories in one issue? Luckily, that’s what Harley Quinn #17 delivers and the best part is Paul Dini co-wrote the second one.

Harley Quinn #16What’s Harley Quinn #17 about? From the publisher:

“‘Deadly Sin’ part one! The twisted Harley Sinn’s been released from prison, and she’s looking to hurt Harley in a whole new way…by going after somebody she loved and lost! And to make this issue extra-unmissable, a brand-new backup story begins, set in Harley’s earliest days with the Joker—and co-written by one of Harley’s original creators, Paul Dini! “Harley Loves Joker” kicks off as Harley makes the biggest mistake of her burgeoning criminal career…accidentally revealing the location of Mistah J’s hideout!”

While “Nether Regions” gave us the fun, flirty, talk-too-much Harley, “Deadly Sin” (or “Red Meat” as the cover says) gives us a smart, tough, kick-ass Harley. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti continue to tap all of the intricacies of Harley’s personality. I would never have expected her to school Red Tool in the cause, tragedy, and importance of understanding the homeless problem in the city, but there she goes impressing me again. Add in a little ass kicking and you have a decent start to a new arc that promises to be darker than the last.

I’m literally giddy after reading the first part of “Harley Loves Joker.” Palmiotti and Paul Dini are writing a story that could have been pulled right from Batman: The Animated Series and I love it. Bret Blevins, Jay Bone, and Alex Sinclair’s artwork nails the style of the cartoon without being identical. The end result feels both familiar and new.

Save

9
Score
Harley Quinn #17
The Bottom Line
"Harley Loves Joker" alone makes this a must buy.
Yes!
The seriousness of this issue is a nice change of pace from the previous arc.
I can't say enough about how much I love the back feature.
No...
Felt like the main story stopped as soon as it started
Read Harley Quinn #17 Now

Red Hood and the Outlaws #7 | Review

Every now and then, one stumbles across an issue that takes them by surprise, and for me, this is one of those issues.

Although it may not come across on the first read, Red Hood and the Outlaws #7 is deep and wonderfully complex. Despite the plot of this issue being relatively stripped down, the focus that is placed not only on Bizarro, but also on Jason and his relationship with the big grey dimwit is fantastic. Clearly, writer Scott Lobdell was channeling his inner John Steinbeck when he wrote/crafted the issue’s ending, which, is practically torn directly from the pages of Of Mice and Men. And since this is the case, I am left wondering whether or not Lobdell is setting the stage for a tragic ending (for Jason and Bizarro’s relationship) that will be similar to the conclusion to Of Mice and Men. I don’t want anything to happen to Bizarro or his relationship with Jason, but a tragic ending would be fitting…

While I am not entirely sure that it was necessary for Jason and Artemis to learn from the team that created Bizarro that their creation is emotionally unstable, I did enjoy the emphasis that was placed the big guy throughout the issue. The way I see it, the more Bizarro there is, the better. (Now if I could only get a fresh serving of some of that Batzarro goodness…)

Mirko Colak takes over as artist for Red Hood and the Outlaws in Issue #7 and produces some captivating scenes towards the end of the issue. Aside from the last few pages, and some panels in the beginning, Colak left me wanting more as the artwork was a tad dull throughout the book. The good does make up for the bad though in this issue, but I feel like Mirko Colak is capable of far more than he delivered here.

Overall, Red Hood and the Outlaws #7 is definitely worth reading, so pick it up.

Wonder Woman Review

Marvel, Marvel, Marvel. DC has to be feeling like Jan Brady as of late. The MCU is a money making juggernaut and with the added success of films like Logan and Deadpool, Marvel Comics is currently ruling the box office. DC, on the other hand, has hit a bit of a rough patch. Critics and fans alike have been less than thrilled with the direction DC has taken in its attempt to create its own cinematic universe. With the release of Justice League around the corner, DC is running out of time before needing a massive reboot. Wonder Woman is DC’s last chance to build excitement for its big ensemble film. Well DC, let’s see what you’ve got.

The Story:

Wonder Woman a.k.a. Diana, Gal Gadot (I couldn’t find a film I actually wanted to link her to), saves pilot/spy Steve Trevor, Chris Pine (Star Trek), and learns of the “war to end all wars” going on in the world outside the protected and hidden island of Themyscira. Believing Ares is responsible, and that it’s the duty of the Amazonians to stop him, she embarks on a quest to kill the God of War and prevent the killing of thousands more. Can Diana break Ares’ influence on mankind or will she learn it’s the darkness in our nature that drives us to such atrocities?

The Good:

It finally feels like DC got one right. I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy Suicide Squad, because I did, but I certainly wouldn’t call it good, and I’ll never get the time back that I wasted watching Batman v Superman. Wonder Woman, however, was both enjoyable and pretty good. Gal Gadot has given the best performance of anybody involved in DC’s new universe, not that she really had any competition. Director Patty Jenkins does a wonderful job balancing out DC’s dark and gritty feel with Diana’s almost naïve level of optimism and sense of right and wrong. If you’re the type of fan that will be disappointed that there’s no “S&M kinkiness” or that her armor is red, gold, and blue instead of red, white and blue, as David Edelstein of Vulture seems to think some of you might be, then stay home. There’s more than enough skin shown to cause drooling over Gadot’s beauty, and not everything has to be drenched in “America,” and honesty, a golden color make way more sense than white for armor inspired by the ancient Greeks.

The Bad:

As much as I enjoyed the action sequences (seriously, watching Wonder Woman kick tons of ass is extremely satisfying), they could have eased up a bit on the computer enhanced fighting skills Diana shows off. When deflecting machine-gun fire and mortar attacks with a shield is more believable than a leg sweep, you know you have a problem. When it comes to the story, if you saw Captain America then you saw Wonder Woman. Yes, I realize there are tons of differences, but the quest of a morally righteous superhero accompanied a group of soldiers to stop the Germans from developing/using a super-weapon to win the war is the core of both movies. That being said, I for one, would prefer to watch Wonder Woman. Finally, Diana’s full power being released by her love for Steve kind of fucks up the whole empowered-woman-vibe the rest of the film does a great job of building…..but maybe that’s just me.

8
Score
Wonder Woman
The Bottom Line
Easily DC's best film in their cinematic universe.
Yes!
Gal Gadot is great as Wonder Woman
Chris Pine and David Thewlis aren't too shabby either
No...
Some of the computer effects are a bit distracting.
General-DC Comics

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