Discussion – The Man in the Yellow Suit, Part 4

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What follows contains spoilers from season 1 of THE FLASH.

If The Flash did all the running, why is it that *I* feel like I’m out of breath??  Episode 17, “Tricksters,” was another amazing episode while Episode 18, “All Star Team Up,” was more of a filler.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how great it was to see Mark Hamill reprise his Trickster role.  “I am your father”?   The writers probably wet themselves when they realized that opportunity was available.

Now, let’s talk Reverse Flash!  First, to the Prediction Tracker:

  • Wells is Eobard Thawne – Status: Confirmed Correct
  • Barry and Thawne fight “through time” which ends with Thawne stranded in the past – Status: Confirmed Correct 
  • Thawne needs Barry’s power to get back to his time – Status: Confirmed Correct 
  • Wells is not really his name – as a time traveler, he chose H. Wells as a reference to H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine  –  Status: Confirmed Incorrect (It was a reference to HG Wells but by the writers themselves, not Thawne) 
  • Thawne’s “dead” wife (named Tess Morgan) is really Dr. Tina McGee of Mercury Labs – Status: 99% Incorrect  (Not 100% sure, but we’ve seen enough to say this is extremely unlikely) 
  • Dr. Wells / Thawne caused the anomaly on purpose – Status: Inconclusive 
  • Barry will somehow become the very anomaly that causes the STAR Labs particle accelerator to melt down. – Status: Inconclusive 
  • From the night Nora Allen was killed forward, everything Thawne did he did for one reason:  To create the Flash – Status: Inconclusive 
  • Barry will study the pictures from the mirror and “change” how he fights Thawne – Status: Inconclusive 

Now, lets head get to the good stuff.

Is Wells really Thawne? Not quite. 

Thawne isn’t REALLY Wells.  Using future tech, he ambushed Wells, absorbed Wells thoughts, memories, and mannerisms which killed the actual body of Wells.  While his body does look, sound and act like Wells he does remain Thawne inside. Because so much of Wells is apparently still in there, it’s safe to assume they will try to find a way to get him out.  If only we had a device which could safely split apart two beings sharing the same physical body….

Yellow Suit 4.1

Oh that’s right. WE DO HAVE THAT DEVICE! The tachyon device Wells/Thawne turned into a quantum splicer to save Firestorm does exactly that!  At some point in the near future I expect to see Barry get this device onto Wells/Thawne’s chest, split the two of them apart and save Dr. Wells.

This is a superhero show and over and above everything else, superheroes save people. Wells was Barry’s hero. Wells is Ray Palmer’s hero.  From a story perspective it’s difficult to see STAR Labs continue with him gone and if he remains Thawne that’s what will happen.  Barry knowing that Wells is evil and murdered his mother – but still working with Wells – can’t go on forever.  Week by week this tension has built.  It’s only a matter of time before it comes to a head and Barry confronts Wells/Thawne with the truth.  When that happens either Wells has to be saved or the whole “team working at STAR Labs” dynamic is destroyed.

When Barry discovers that his hero was actually the victim of a heinous crime – a crime committed by the man who killed his mother –Barry will go to any length to save him.  This is a terrific story to tell.  It also keeps Tom Cavanaugh on the show as a regular (Dr. Wells) rather than a here-and-there villain (Thawne / Reverse Flash) which is another tremendous plus.

Lastly, we KNOW this split takes place because it already has. Wait…what?

Yellow Suit 4.2

I’m going to need to re-watch Back to the Future II.

This piece is a touch confusing. I’m not Doc Brown and I don’t have a chalkboard but I’ll do my best

I’ll start this with a question:  If Barry fought Reverse Flash right now – this week in the present time line – and Barry unmasked him what would Reverse Flash’s face look like? It’d look like Harrison Wells.

We’ve seen that when Thawne takes off his mask he looks like Thawne and not Wells. That means when he and Barry started fighting he already looked like ThawneBut as we determined above if the fight took place now he’d look like Wells.  That means at some point before that fight starts they must be split apart else when Thawne removed his cowl he’d still have looked like Wells.

For the record, I love time travel stuff and this makes my head hurt.  But mark it down – at some point soon Harrison Wells and Eobard Thawne will no longer share the same body. Wells will go back to being the guy who was Barry’s and Ray Palmer’s hero, Tina McGee’s friend etc…and Thawne..well…who knows what will happen to him but we can hope it’s nothing good.

Errata 

In “All Star Team Up” Cisco was able to see a future that didn’t happen.  There are several possible explanations for this in Flash lore including (but not limited to):

  • Cisco being able to access visions from alternate dimensions a’la Gardner Fox from Flash of Two Worlds. Recall that Earth-2 heroes were comic book heroes on Earth-1.  Fox claimed that the authors of the comics on Earth-1 came up with their stories by “viewing” the real-life events of Earth-2.  This is very similar to what’s happening to Cisco

Status:  EXTREMELY Unlikely But Very Cool If They Do 

Both time lines still “exist” but are separated by extremely close vibrational frequencies to which Cisco is sensitive allowing him to see the other time line(what with him eventually becoming Vibe)

Status: Possible

The time lines are converging and Cisco is just the first to pick up on it because the event of his death at the hands of Reverse Flash is so traumatic.

Status: Possible 

When Thawne talks to Gideon on the night where he loses his powers Gideon says (and I quote here): “Your latest time jump against The Flash caused a massive drain on your powers…”

I don’t know what a time-jump is exactly but I’ll hazard a guess it means Thawne goes back into the past to change something in hopes of defeating the Flash.

That said there are two words which stick out to me: latest and against.  Latest implies he’s done this at least once before.  Against implies the Flash has also time jumped in an effort to stop him.

What does this mean?  I think it means coming seasons will contain a LOT of Flash vs. Reverse Flash time travel.  It also means I should probably stock up on Advil because as I said above while I love time travel it does make my head hurt.

What is it with the liquid in this town?

It’s always flying up and out of things.

Or is it?  Is it always?

Moments before Barry is struck by the lightning bolt the liquid chemicals in his beakers begin to float up out of them.

Moments before Flash and Reverse Flash begin fighting in Barry’s childhood home the water floats up out of child-Barry’s fish tank and Nora’s wine glass

We are never given a reason why this happens and are left to infer that this odd behavior was caused by the presence of the Flash and the Reverse Flash fighting at such high speeds.  However, the Flash has been running all over Central City and we’ve not seen liquid have that reaction in other cases.  I suspect this means something else is at play.

I think the floating liquid is the result of a “time ripple” – a before (or after) effect of something  in the time stream having been changed.  Like Deja-vu in the Matrix indicating the Machines changed something, once explained, the “liquid floating up means something’s changed” be a solid tip off to the audience.

Open Questions: 

  1. Why does Thawne hate Barry? What is his motivation for time travelling from the 25th century to meet the Flash in the first place?
  2. Thawne says Wells changes history in 2020 and he needs “it to happen a little sooner”.  I don’t know exactly what he means by this.  I assume this means Wells somehow creates the Flash in 2020 (perhaps the particle accelerator accident occurs then too, perhaps not) but Thawne can’t / doesn’t want to wait that long for the Speed Force to be created.  So the questions are:
  3. If Thawne doesn’t become Wells would Barry still become the Flash?
  4. Would the powered Rogues have become the villains they became?

Remember, the premise the show has set is that powers are somehow related to what was happening / what they were doing when they were hit by the particle accelerator explosion.  They would likely not have been in the same place / doing the same thing in 2020. Would the Mist still be getting executed in 2020?  Would Girder have fallen into that vat of molten steel? Would the Mardon’s be caught in a tremendous storm?  Just a thought with which to end this post!

The next episode is titled “Who is Harrison Wells”.  Honestly, I can’t wait !

–  Vrin

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Discussion! ‘The Man in the Yellow Suit’, Part 3

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What follows contains spoilers from season 1 of THE FLASH.

Jaw-dropping.

Brain-melting.

Unbelievable.

Holy (deity or curse word of your choice)

These were some of the online reactions to The Flash, Episode 15: “Out of Time”. Before we get started, let me leave a little spoiler space.

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Ok, here we go!

Let’s start with the prediction accuracy tracker:

  • Wells is not really his name – as a time traveler, he chose H. Wells as a reference to H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine  –  Status: Inconclusive 
  • Wells is really Eobard Thawne  – Status: Check
  • Barry and Thawne fight “through time” which ends with Thawne stranded in the past – Status:  Inconclusive but likely
  • Thawne needs Barry’s power to get back to his time – Status: Check
  • Wells caused the anomaly on purpose – Status: Inconclusive
  • Thawne’s “dead” wife (named Tess Morgan) is really Dr. Tina McGee of Mercury Labs– Status: Inconclusive
  • Barry will somehow become the very anomaly that causes the STAR Labs particle accelerator to melt down.  – Status: Inconclusive

Now, let’s talk about Episode 15, “Out of Time.”  The last 10 minutes of this had more “payoff” than any show I can remember.  Season finales – heck SERIES finales – have had less startling revelations (I’m looking at you, Sopranos!)   Starting at the 50 minute mark we got:

  • The final reveal that Wells is really Eobard Thawne, The Reverse Flash from the 25th century;
  • The “death” of Cisco (more on that later);
  • Iris finally admitting that she loved Barry;
  • Iris finding out Barry is the Flash; and
  • Barry travelling back in time.

Think about that for a minute. That all took place within 10 minutes of real time!  The image below accurately reflects what was going on at my house as I watched

Yellow Suit 3.1

Hat tip to Batman Memes for the pic!

So where does this leave us? Let’s start with the obvious. A lot of main characters are in bad shape – Singh, Joe, and Cisco are seriously injured or dead and a tidal wave is about to hit Central City

So, what happens next?

…..and then Barry travels back in time with most of the knowledge of what’s coming.  However, Barry does not know that Wells is Reverse Flash.  He cut Caitlyn off before she could tell him.  This is important.

The obvious story here is that Barry will change events such that Singh and Joe do not meet those fates and Mardon is captured before the tidal wave can be set off.

Cisco is another matter. His discovery about Wells/Thawne has been building for weeks – much earlier than where Barry is in time.  This time travel will not fully derail him.  Something may throw him off the scent for a while but like Thawne says, Cisco is clever.  He may get delayed (which saves his life in the short-term) but ultimately he will not be denied.  His current death will likely be undone by Barry but he’s still Thawne’s trail.  Eventually, he’ll figure it out again. I hope Barry is around when he does.

Now, why is it important that Barry doesn’t know about Wells true identity?  Let’s say the conversation between Caitlyn and Barry had gone like this:

Caitlyn:  “Barry, I need to tell you something important”

Barry:  “Not now, Mardon is causing a tidal wave that will flood the whole city!”

Caitlyn: “Barry, I just got back to STAR Labs. Cisco is dead and before he died, he convinced me that Wells is the bad guy. He’s in league with the Reverse Flash.  Now, go create a wind wall to sap the wave’s power”

Barry creates the wind wall and goes back in time.

Imagine what he would do with the information Catilyn gave him.  If he had found out about Wells before he travelled back in time.

Barry would have investigated and gone after him.  Especially if Cisco convinced Barry that Wells was really the Reverse Flash.  But Barry doesn’t know – and now Cisco / Catilyn are days away from discovering it.  I suspect the writers will enjoy throwing Thawne / Reverse Flash references at us whenever we see Wells for the next few episodes.  Barry, Cisco, Caitlyn and Joe will be blissfully unaware while we scream and shout at our TV sets.  Beautiful.

We have several weeks until the season finale.  I could see them throwing Cisco off the trail for the next few weeks only to have him re-discover the truth in time for the final couple of episodes.  Perhaps Thawne attacking Cisco is the fuse that ignites the “fight through time” battle that Barry and Thawne will have?  I could buy that.

Where does this leave Barry and Iris?

Barry went back in time but unlike the situation with Wells true identity, he knows that Iris loves him.  That will probably be true a few days back as well but Iris has apparently felt this way for a while.  Will she admit it to herself?  Will she allow herself to admit it to Barry?  That is definitely up in the air.  As the show is on the CW I’m going to go with “Soon” and “Eventually”.

Due to Barry’s time travel, Iris will also never have learned that Barry is the Flash.  Eventually, we get to see that reveal again.  If it’s like the comic books it’ll be slightly more….cozy.

So where are we headed?

Time for some more predictions!

Barry will study the pictures from the mirror and “change” how he fights Thawne 

We know now that Barry and Thawne will fight. They will travel back to the night Nora was killed and Thawne was stranded in the past. The question is, will it happen the same way again?

We’ve seen Barry look at the pictures from the night Nora Allen died.  During that conversation with Joe he says the pictures tell him what not to do. Barry works under the assumption that if he does something different, he’ll save his mother.  While that’s possible, it’s likely that saving his mother could lead to his father dying instead or to Thawne keeping his powers  or to…any number of things.  This screams “Law of unintended consequences” to me. In short, Barry will save Nora.  Hilarity will ensue.

Reverse Flash – Murderer  

We’ve already seen this: Yellow Suit 3.2

How long before we see this?
Yellow Suit 3.3

Who is that underneath that Batgirl mask? That’s Iris Allen.  The way she dies at the hands of the Reverse Flash looks familiar, doesn’t it?  I do not think this is imminent but down the road?  Definitely. Why else show Thawne kill Cisco that way?

We will find out that everything Wells/Thawne has done – built STAR Labs, built the particle accelerator and created the anomaly which caused the explosion – is for one reason and one reason only:  To create the Flash.

We now know that Thawne is from centuries ahead in time (the 25th century if the lore is a guide). While living in the 25th century, before he ever time travelled, it’s possible that he’d know someone named Harrison Wells created STAR Labs back in 2001.  At some point, Thawne’s 25th century technology allows him to mimic The Flash’s powers. Fast forward to now.

Barry and Thawne fight and Barry figures out how to remove Thawne’s powers.  Barry travels back to the future leaving Thawne marooned in 2001.  Thawne assumes the identity of Harrison Wells.  With no immediate way to create time travel he does the only thing he can do:  Begin the steps needed to bring the Flash into existence so he can mimic Flash’s powers and time travel again.

Think about it. This is Eobard Thawne, one of the great villains in DC comic history.  He’s not the altruistic type.  There is no logical reason for a marooned-in-the-past supervillain like Thawne to create STAR Labs EXCEPT to allow him to get what he wants. In this case that is a return trip to the 25th century.  In Thawne’s own words, the Flash’s power is the only thing that can help him do it. Bank on it.  Everything Thawne has done while using the name Harrison Wells was to create The Flash.

Like the man said, it’s a means to an end.

–  Vrin

A side note:  I’ve watched the Thawne reveal a dozen times now. I still get chills when I see it.  They did an absolutely MASTERFUL job setting it up.  Masterful.

Discussion! ‘The Man in the Yellow Suit’

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What follows contains spoilers for the first half of Season 1 of THE FLASH.

The mid-season finale of the Flash introduced his arch-nemesis, the Man In the Yellow Suit, aka the Reverse Flash.  Many questions sprung up about who he was under the mask, which version of the Reverse Flash was he?  What use is the tachyon device to Harrison Wells?  I welcome you to read my stab at answering these questions and some other predictions below!

Let’s start with this:  Harrison Wells is not a real name.  Well, it’s a real name but it’s not HIS real name.  He chose it purposely.  H. Wells who happens to be a time traveler?  Like HG Wells who wrote The Time Machine?  At some point he will reveal this delicious play on names and half the audience will say “WHY DIDN’T I SEE THAT???”  But not you – you heard it here first!

With regard to “Who is the Reverse Flash”? Let’s look at what we know from the mid-season finale:

  • The Reverse Flash wants a Tachyon device for reasons unknown
  • The Reverse Flash and Barry “Have been at this [fight] for a long time” (Reverse Flash quote)
  • Wells is abducted and beaten up by the Reverse Flash
  • Wells has the Reverse Flash suit, the stolen tachyon device and displays the voice trick Barry uses

So it seems clear to me:  Wells cannot be the Reverse Flash (because Wells was beaten up by him).  He also has to be the Reverse Flash (because he has the suit, the device stolen by Reverse Flash and can do the voice trick).  Oy!

To sort out this conundrum I’ll work on the assumption that Wells IS the Reverse Flash.  It’s possible that he’s not and if he’s shown not to be, I’ll do another post about it.

The first question I have is “In Flash lore, there are two Reverse Flashes.  Eobard Thawne and Hunter Zolomon.  One hated everything about the Flash (Thawne).  The other wanted Flash to be a hero worthy of fighting him (Zolomon).  Which Reverse Flash is Wells? Thawne or Zolomon?”

Let’s start with some observations: What attitude do we see from Wells with regard to Barry?

Yellow Suit 1We see Wells protect Barry by killing Stagg, we see him encouraging, coaxing, demanding Barry be faster (several times),  and we see him manipulate Barry into being a hero (negative reinforcement followed by “believing in him”, getting Detective West to support Barry as the Flash etc…).  All of these actions can be summed up as “Making Barry into a better hero”.  That, plus the red eyes while in the Reverse Flash suit, describes Hunter Zolomon.

In the comics, Eobard Thawne gains his powers by using 25th century science to recreate the Flash’s powers but only when he wears the Reverse Flash suit.  Eventually Thawne gains the powers on his own by tapping into the Speed Force created Barry creates when he runs.  The faster he runs, the more Speed Force is generated. Sound familiar?  I believe the tachyon device is Wells’ way of capturing that speed force.  This is something akin to what Eobard Thawne would do and is another reason why Wells wants more speed from Barry.  More speed = more speed force = more power for Wells.  As we know Wells is a time traveler and he’s from the future, I think he wants to use this power to get back to his own time.   Wait…what? Here’s why:

In the lore, Barry and Thawne have fought “through time”.  By that I mean if the fight took 5 minutes – 2 minutes took place in 1988, 50 seconds took place in 1975, one minute in prehistoric era etc…the fight was an 5 minutes long to them but it was spread through different time periods.  If I’m right, in the show story, part of that fight took place was when Nora was killed.  At the end of the “through the time stream” fight Barry will strand Thawne “in the time stream.”

Yellow Suit 2

CONCLUSION:
I suspect they have merged Zolomon’s attitude (Make Barry a worthy hero) and Thawne’s story (stranded in the past by Barry) to create one Reverse Flash in the body we know as Harrison Wells. I think the show will eventually have that “through the time stream” fight and at the end of their fight, Barry will strand Thawne/Zolomon/Wells in the recent past where he recognizes that he can only get home by creating “The Flash”. He will assume the identity of “Harrison Wells” and use his knowledge of the future / technology to build STAR labs and the particle accelerator.

I also think this is why Wells keeps checking on “the future” – to see if his presence in the past has altered anything (and also why he became so upset in the episode where the future newspaper showed The Flash never existed – if Flash never exists, Reverse Flash cannot exist and Thawne/Zolomon/Wells can’t go home).

Lastly, I suspect that at the end of that fight, Barry will somehow become the very anomaly that causes the STAR Labs particle accelerator to melt down.  In essence, he will create the very accident that gives him powers in the first place.  Chew on that one a while, internet!

While I’m not quite sure how that will work yet, I am sure that “the anomaly” wasn’t an accident.

New episodes return on January 20th.  What do you think will happen?

– Vrin

Discussion! Mou’s September Backlog

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Like the rest of the Battlin’ Backloggers, I have a lot of pop culture of the geek-variety to keep me occupied until the fall TV season hits full-force in about a month. I’m eager for the returns of Arrow (which I’ll be blogging), Sleepy Hollow, The Big Bang Theory, Castle, and Supernatural, and I’m anticipating the launches of The Flash, Constantine (which I’ll be blogging), Gotham, and Gracepoint (Hey, David Tennant!).

In the meanwhile, here’s what’s on my plate:

Dark Places 1BOOKS
I’m currently reading Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, the first of the canonical Star Wars novels since the Disney absorption, and The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, a.k.a. J.K. Rowling, a good, old-fashioned murder-mystery with a private investigator whose name recalls the best of Rowling’s Harry Potter monikers—Cormoran Strike. (I have literary tsunami brewing in my head that combines the worlds of Strike and Potter; trust me, it would totally work. Just imagine: a murder in the Muggle world with ties to a wizard and Strike must consult with a certain Auror with a lightning-bolt scar—please, Jo, please!) I must confess that I’m also flirting with another Gillian Flynn novel, Dark Places; Gone Girl has more than convinced me that she’s a contender.

SSoSH 1COMICS
Grant Morrison’s Multiversity has begun, and I am currently awaiting the publication of The Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World, which features a pulp-retro (retro-pulp?) take on the Justice Society of America, the first-ever comic book super-team. This high-powered gathering will include Doc Fate, Lady Blackhawk (along with her squadron of Blackhawks), the Mighty Atom, the Immortal Man, and Abin Sur the Green Lantern. ‘Sounds like a whole lotta fun to me—and I’m not a huge fan of Morrison’s work. Too, I’ve also got a stack of Nightwing trade paperbacks to read. I’ve not been putting them off, but they’ve sort of held their respective places in the to-read pile as other things have come and gone. There are also a couple of issues of the Geoff Johns/John Romita, Jr. Superman to get to. Johns is tough to beat, and Romita, Jr. knows how to tell a story with sequential art—a master of the craft, he is.

Who 8 PosterTELEVISION
I’m all over the eighth season of Doctor Who right now and dreading the possible loss of Clara Oswald in the Christmas special. As I understand it, I’m in the minority as a Clara fan, but I’ll make no apologies for adoring her and hoping she stays longer. My all-time favorite companion is Donna Noble because (a) Catherine Tate (C’mon, people!) and (b) she challenged the Doctor. Her journey was often sweet and funny, but its conclusion was very sad. Sigh. Now, I’m thinking more Martha Jones would’ve been nice. Oh, well. I could write about the winning qualities of each companion, but there’s little time for that. Outside of my weekly visits with the Doctor, I’m enjoying a primarily TV-free end-of-summer as September winds down.

– Mou

Discussion! Vandal’s September Backlog

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We have less than one month before every night of the week becomes flooded with TV that all looks so great.  What follows is how I’ll be filling the hours before premiere week:

John Jackson Miller, STAR WARS: A NEW DAWN
Disney/Lucasfilm kicks off their mega-reboot of the Star Wars universe begins not with a TV show or a movie, but with a book–the first book ever to be considered ‘canon’ in the ongoing battle between good and evil.  Star Wars: A New Dawn tells the story of the first team-up of Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla and contains a nice foreword by Dave Filoni in which he explains the degree to which the creative teams, as well as the Lucasfilm Story Group, has changed their regard for the non-film media.

Destiny Is LiveBungie & Activision, DESTINY
I waited to buy an Xbox One for a game that was going to be worth it, and I’m betting my money and time on the game that has been at the center of the industry’s hype over the past year (sorry, Titanfall).  After playing the Beta in July, I can’t imagine the game won’t be a colossal hit, or a ton of fun.

Geoff Johns, JUSTICE LEAGUE, VOL. 4: THE GRID
As we readers of the trade paperback variety get closer to the day when we will finally read Trinity War in all its apparent glory, this collection from Johns and Reis will bring us right up to the brink of that huge crossover event.  As I maintain that this book has been the best of the New 52 across the board, I’ll be reading this one as soon as it comes out on September 16th.

Wes Ball & James Dashner, THE MAZE RUNNER
After being totally hypnotized by the trailer in August, and as there’s almost nothing else interesting coming to theaters in September, I’ll be stopping in to see how they bring another popular YA book franchise to the big screen

Teaser PosterBruno Heller et al., GOTHAM (FOX)
It’s an interesting take on the World’s Most Popular Thing, and I can’t tell if it’s going to be a big-concept police procedural or some kind of urbano-gothic Smallville.  What they’ve shown looks great, and as a Batman guy outright, I’ll not be hesitating to check in with my superhero’s new TV show (even if I have to admit that the other two guys over on The CW have shows that look more interesting right now).

October is going to be a crazy TV-heavy month for us here at the Backlog (we have some pretty ambitious plans for you readers), and things in the geekosphere are holding steady.  Thanks for a great first month!

– Vandal

Discussion! Mou’s Top Ten Comic Book Runs, Part Two

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In the previous installment of this look at my top ten comic book runs, I examined five entries on my deserted-island list. Here are the other five—in no particular order:

MNIM 1.7MARVELS #’s 0-4 by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross
When I read the first issue of Marvels in 1994, I was taken aback by painter Alex Ross’s artwork: never before had the Marvel Universe looked so, well, realistic—like the it really was the world outside my window. If I lived in New York City. Which I didn’t. And still don’t. Essentially, Marvel allows readers to experience some of the most pivotal events in Marvel history through the eyes of Phil Sheldon, a photographer for The Daily Bugle. He witnesses the arrival of super-heroes—the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner—on the scene in the late 1930s; the dawn of the Marvel Age with the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, and Thor, among others; the rise of mutants; and the death of a pivotal figure in the life of the ever-amazing Spider-Man. Busiek’s particular strength over the course of this series is the Phil Sheldon character; he is one of us—with many of the same fears and foibles, and his sense of awe is what ours would be if all these heroes and villains criss-crossed our skies. Stunning, stunning work that should not be missed.

Marvels seems be perennially available in trade paperback, and a more expensive, slipcased, hardcover “platinum” edition is available is available, too.

Key Issue: Marvels #4 for its take on the death of Gwen Stacy from Phil Sheldon’s perspective.

MNIM 1.9STARMAN, VOL. 2 #’s 0-80, plus annuals and specials, by James Robinson, Tony Harris, Wade von Grawbadger, Peter Snejbjurg, and others.
I’m about to type something incredibly oxymoronic: in the 1990s, I probably bought more comic books than at any other point in my reading/collecting life, but I enjoyed fewer comic books than at any other point, too. That decade’s comics landscape was littered with dreck, but one of the gems was James Robinson and Tony Harris’ Starman. Our hero, Jack Knight, is a reluctant crusader who takes up the mantle of the Golden Age Starman, his father, after his older brother David is killed. Essentially, Starman is about Jack figuring out who he is and repairing his relationship with his father as he protects Opal City, an art deco metropolis that’s as much a character in the series as the lead and his supporting cast. Perhaps one of Robinson’s crowning achievements is his revitalization of the Golden Age villain, the Shade, who became an immortal dandy who’d palled around with Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens. The Shade becomes a powerful ally and one of the most intriguing characters in comics, and Starman is, at once, cool and literary.

Starman has been collected as a series of trade paperbacks, and The Starman Omnibus has reprinted the entire series in deluxe hardcovers and trade paperbacks.

Key Issue: You know, I’m going to go with Starman, Vol. 2 #80, which wraps up threads from the entire series and clearly defines the legacy of the Starman mantle.

MNIM 1.8UNCLE SCROOGE #’s 285-296 by Don Rosa
What?!? An anthropomorphic duck made this list?!? You bet he did. These twelve issues comprise “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck,” the serialized “origin” of Uncle Scrooge by the great Don Rosa, the heir-apparent to the Duck-Man himself, the great Carl Barks. Here, we learn of McDuck’s humble beginnings in Scotland and follow him through a number of adventures across the United States and around the world that deliver him to Duckburg in 1947, just before his first appearance in the Barks classic “Christmas on Bear Mountain” in Four Color Comics #178. Writer/artist Rosa has a particular talent for both comedy and adventure—as did Barks before him, and discovering the events that shaped Scrooge McDuck into the lovable curmudgeon we know is a thrill ride, from start to finish. Even better, Rosa has left plenty of room for additions to the story.

These issues have been collected in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck trade paperback, and The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion trade paperback collects those in-between stories.

Key Issue: Um, #296 for its connections to “Christmas on Bear Mountain” and the efforts of Scrooge McDuck to reconnect with his family.

MNIM 1.6LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, VOL. 2 #’s 290-294 by Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen, and Larry Mahlstedt
These four issues comprise the Legion classic “The Great Darkness Saga,” which has lost absolutely none of its impact in the 32 years since its original publication. This is easily the Levitz and Giffen’s Legion at its finest—and most bounteous, since it features just about everyone who’s ever been a Legionnaire and most of the team’s allies. Why the big roster? Well, what else do you do when Darkseid himself is trying to conquer the 30th century? This is probably a bit of a spoiler, but, by now, most everyone who’s interested knows who the villain is, and it doesn’t really rob the story of any of its punch. It’s a truly intricate tale—oh, let’s call it the saga it claims to be—that spans the breadth of the Legion’s extensive stomping grounds, including the planet of super-powered Daxamites and the prison world of Takron-Galtos. It’s virtually a love-letter to anyone who’s ever loved the Legion, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible to new readers.

“The Great Darkness Saga” is available in the Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga deluxe hardcover and trade paperback. These relatively recent collections include #’s 284-296 and Annual #1.

Key Issue: I’m going with #294 because it’s a pretty awesome finale to a pretty awesome comic book saga.

MNIM 1.10BLACKEST NIGHT #’s 0-8 by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Oclair Albert
I’m not going to even bother tempering my passion for the work of Geoff Johns, DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer. I love it. Unequivocably. His work on The Flash, JSA, and Green Lantern is enough to secure his legacy as one of comics’ best writers, but, for me, the Blackest Night limited series is just about as good as modern superhero comics get. It begins as something of a Green Lantern/Flash team-up that becomes an epic struggle by a host of super-heroes and variously hued Lanterns to defeat the Black Hand and Nekron, who have empowered the dead of the DC Universe to rise and terrorize. It’s a big, sprawling story that is bursting with action, but it also does a lot to advance the cache of characters like Mera, the Atom, and the newly resurrected Barry Allen-Flash. (Johns has a knack for breathing new life into secondary characters and characters who have been languishing for some time.) In fact, my only complaint—which has absolutely nothing to do with Blackest Night itself—is that DC didn’t get to do much with the fallout from this series and its follow-up, Brightest Day, because they hit the reboot switch and launched the New 52.

Blackest Night is collected in both hardcover and trade paperback editions.

Key Issue: #8 for all the returns from the dead. Wonderful stuff!

Here’s a quick list of runners-up; if I could fit them in my luggage before heading to that deserted island, I’d take them:

Daredevil: Born Again (Daredevil #’s 227-233)

Superman for All Seasons (Superman for All Seasons #’s 1-4)

Batman: The Long Halloween (Batman: The Long Halloween #’s 1-13)

Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals (Wonder Woman, Vol. 2 #’s 1-7)

Saga of the Swamp Thing (Saga of the Swamp Thing #’s 21-27)

Please allow me to add that his list is not permanent; in fact, I could probably change it pretty easily in the next week or two. Still, these runs represent comics I have truly enjoyed and ones I gladly read again and again.

– Mou

Preview! ‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity’ Goes Red and Black

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AC Unity P.1

ASSASSIN’S CREED: UNITY takes us to the most revolution-y of revolutions, the French Revolution. You can also play the new installment of the franchise on the PlayStation 4.

Note: Some spoilers from previous Assassin’s Creed games follow.

On November 11, our hidden blade will have a new opportunity for use in the setting of the French Revolution. Assassin’s Creed: Unity will feature Arno Dorian, who was raised by a Templar after his Assassin father was murdered. Fans of the series will recognize this dichotomy from the prequel novel to Assassin’s Creed III which featured Haytham Kenway, a Templar who discovers his own father was an Assassin.  A new twist is a love relationship with a Templar, Elise. Although details are scarce on the sub-plot scened in the present, a recent article in Game Informer confirmed that Desmond’s story is finished and this will be something different. I can’t help but think the Ubisoft Montreal and Bioware Montreal guys have been drinking together at the local pub and resolving their main characters to rest…for good. Of course, some hold to a hope of their respective returns.

As for details on the game, there are some interesting details put forth. Unity actually started right after Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. It appears that a development group split off during ACIII. The major advancements in ACIII were arguably the weather versatile environments and ship combat that spawned the subsequent release of Black Flag. Unity has been said to return to the core principles that resonated with the first three installments of Assassin’s Creed. Players will have to get to know their targets before dispatching them. Swordplay has been redone to focus on the mechanics of fencing. Navigation has been retooled to have easier upward and downward parkour movements.

AC Unity P.2

Do you hear the people sing? DO YOU?

Perhaps the biggest change coming is a cooperative mode where friends can join in on your current mission (from the last save point) as other friendly assassins. Another substantial change is that the missions will no longer “desync” you for not being stealthy but rather adapt to how you want to play the game. Finally, the buildings themselves will actually be able to be explored on the inside with special animations & sequences for combat, escape, and general exploration.

For fans of Les Miserables, this sounds to be an enjoyable visit to the violent and dynamic period of the turn of the 18th century. This title has us at the Backlog interested enough to keep tabs on and perhaps visit our local video game store to put down a preorder. The releases of this fall weigh heavy on the size of the backlog so we may need to let it slip until Christmas. Keep posted fellow assassinos!

– Dinmyer