This week saw the largest sporting event in the world take place- with the Superbowl emanating from Arizona and delivering a good match-up between two very strong teams. This week also featured a forced change to the regular format of Raw, due to a snow blizzard and the a creepy back story of sorts for the Joker. So here are my Short Thoughts on the big moments of the week in geek culture.
Superbowl; New England Patriots vs Seattle Sea Hawks
This game promised to be great from the outset, as both teams are two of the genuine strongest teams on both offense and defense within the league and were so well matched that this was always going to be a close game that was difficult to call. And that exactly how the game progressed as both sides worked hard with the ball to manage the clock (New England were much better at this first half) and both sides were hard-hitting when on defense. The game had some huge moments as right off the bat the first New England drive looked set to net them 7points, before Brady was picked off inside the Endzone and the Sea Hawks ‘Lane’ was returning the ball when he took a monster hit that left him out of the game with a severe arm injury. The game only continued in this fashion too with both teams really giving everything they had and leaving in all on the field, it was so evenly fought and so exciting that it was one of the better games I’ve seen in a long time. However in the end the Sea Hawks seemed to throw it away with an odd ‘fourth down and one to go’ decision to throw the ball leading to a New England interception and a scoring drive to end the game- when had the Sea Hawks converted that down the game would have been theirs. This was another win for Brady who surely now has to be considered amongst the greats? The biggest sporting event of the year (WrestleMania is my favourite however) really delivered a great spectacle last night.
WWE Raw 26-1-15
The format of this weeks Raw was a real change from the regular shows, and im aware that this was due to the travel ban in Hartford but it may have been a small blessing in disguise after the crowd reaction to the Royal Rumble result the previous day. The WWE was unable to put on any new wrestling so instead we got a replay of the triple threat match and the rumble match from the previous night, which was a smart move given the amount of mainstream attention the rumble itself had garnered and the fact that the triple threat set out the champion for the WrestleMania main event. Add to this that the triple threat was one of the best matches in recent memory and this was th best decision given the difficult situation- however this is where the show really changed things and got great. We got 4interviews conducted in a sit down shoot style with Lesnar, Rollins, Bryan and Reigns that were so different from the regular promo in the ring that they really stood out as amazing pieces of post PPV broadcasting and should be looked at being done moving forward. The questioning from Byran Saxton to Reigns was especially nice and didn’t avoid anything- however I could have done without Reigns John Cena styled response. Rollins was gold in his interview and plays his part of the cocky and arrogant heel so damn well its untrue, but the real moment of gold this week was this:
This sets up everything for a future clash and makes me way more interested than I was prior to seeing this short but brilliant segment. Heyman was a genius for coming up with the concept backstage and really making this work on television, and if Heyman is the only man talking for these two all the way to Mania it could be a really money-making build.
Scott Snyder has promised to really change the Batman moving forward and do something that has never been done before, and with each and every appearance of the Joker that he writes this seems more and more likely and definitely gets more and more creepy. Snyder seems to understand how to write the ‘Clown prince of crime’ like no other in recent memory as every time he appears in a panel and speaks he’s downright scary and menacing. This issue added in some back story to the Joker that we have never ever seen before or even heard of and if true could really shake the core of everything we thought we knew about the maniac- but it did so in a truly scary way just as every issue of ‘Endgame’ has so far. This has been a great read and continues to do so- I cant say more without spoilers but this book left with goosebumps and a feeling that maybe there’s is more to the Joker than we have ever known and im excited to see if this is his biggest and best rick to date or if this is the true origin of the monster.
Agent Carter- S1 Ep4 The Blitzkrieg Button
Agent Carter continues to impress me with the strength of its writing and the way in which it depicts Peggy Carter, and this weeks episode gave us an emotional Peggy dealing with the underhanded tactics of Howard Stark while she continues on her quest to clear his name. We also got to see the new housemate and Peggy’s neighbour display some very familiar looking martial arts skills- they looked very Black Widow like to me, so could she be the first Black Widow or a member of the early days of the spy creating programme? However the real strength of the episode was in the relationship between Peggy and Howard and how he uses he feelings towards Captain America against her- albeit underhanded to make sure that he gets the only remaining vial of Cap’s blood on the face of the earth in his own hands by getting Peggy to steal the artifact from within the SSR headquarters itself. These two are at their best when their butting heads and interacting as the comedy is gold and the tension is all engrossing- and the return of Howard so soon to the show really helped to show that this could be the defining relationship that makes this show tick. We also got to see some character development with Sousa and Thompson, and this was nice as we do need to see more from the supporting as while Peggy and Jarvis are great the show needs more people who feel like real characters. This weeks show slowed the action and focused on the character build and relationships to set-up future endeavours and it worked as a nice change of pace that complimented the show so far.
Gotham by Midnight #3
This book has been a really good read so far, and im not sure what i like more Templesmiths amazing artwork or the writing of Fawkes. The story has been really engrossing and totally different from anything we normally see within Gotham, as it focuses entirely on supernatural events that are investigated by a task force set-up by Gordon himself to really keep the ghoulish things that happen quiet while keeping the city safe. This issue the team were dealing with a shadow that seemed to be living and able to independently move and act without the child host needed to- which in itself is a creepy idea but seeing it drawn by Templesmith really made it look scary as hell. Then you feature in that Fawkes has built this into a hospital and then allows it to escape and instantly kill anything that the shadow passes over and you really have a creepy single issue villain that helps tie into the bigger issue of the ‘rising darkness’ that is currently being built within the story arc. This was a good horror read, and feels completely out-of-place with all other Batman books- but that’s it real allure as other than the main Batman title everything else is easily put down and missed but this book is not one you can afford to miss.
The Flash- S1 Ep11 The Sound and the Fury
This weeks Flash was a great episode, it featured anew villain (Pied Piper) who will become a bigger player, but who was also a former apprentice (and maybe more?) of Harrison Wells that really served as a catalyst to showcase just how evil Well’s can be and attempt to continue to sow the seeds that he is in fact the evil ‘Reverse Flash’ that has already battled with Barry. This episode featured some good action between ‘Pied Piper’ and Flash as they clashed several times, once after Piper escaped from the holding cells in a timely and well planned fashion that felt like he was a genuine threat and also showed that Wells does have the ability to move super fast- and this was logical storyline progression to keep fans engaged in the ‘Reverse Flash’ theories. We also learned that Wells has a limit to his powers, and the suit is tachion particle powered but this is running low, so what is his real end game with Barry? This episode did exactly what it intended to do, kept us engaged with some great action but really left us wanting more about Well’s plan and his role as the Reverse Flash above all else and I truly am excited to see where the show takes us with this journey.
WWE NXT 28-1-15
NXT continues to deliver logical and exciting storylines alongside some amazing in ring action, which for a WWE product this week was a real positive. This weeks we got to see Neville vs Kidd in the number 1 contenders tournament which gave us a wonderful technical bout that featured plenty of pace and high spots along with enough near falls to keep everyone excited and wondering who would be progressing into the next round. This was a very good television match, however as it featured two of NXT’s best should this come as a surprise to anyone at this point- I didn’t expect anything else. We also got to see Dempsey vs Corbin again in the tournament, and this time we got a little bit longer than the 4minute squash match from last time but the result was the same, Corbin wins but looks unready to be in the tournament final from a wrestling standpoint. Dont get me wrong his character is great and he’s over with the crowd on his look and the ‘End of Days’ signature move alone but now he faces Neville who may well sell his moves well but will also highlight his inadequacies in the ring. The women’s division took a step forward towards the live event next week too, as we saw Charlotte&Bailey vs Banks&Lynch breakdown when Charlotte felt Bailey attacked her on purpose in the match and these two began brawling- while the match to this point wasnt the best it could have been its continuing to tell an engaging story moving into the Lice special that should deliver a great 4way match between these ladies. The most logical thing to happen in years however occurred during the contract signing, where Owens refused to sign for the match until Zayn put the gold on the line as he claimed “This isnt personal it’s about being the champion” finally explaining his actions, albeit in a very heelish manner (to be expected) and eventually getting his way as Zayn is far more emotional in this situation than Owens. This was such a well done segment and leaves me wondering if Owens may well ge the win here, as surely its too early for Zayn to get revenge? But will he lose the gold? I guess we will see, as NXT continues to produce compelling wrestling.
Uncanny Avengers #1
This book was easily one of my favourite titles when ‘Marvel Now’ launched and that was mainly thanks to the writing of Remender, so thankfully he has remained on the book and just been given a new team post ‘Axis’ that on the surface seems odd and weird but im sure will eventually gel and feel natural just like his Uncanny X-Force team did. This issue starts off by showing us how Wanda and Pietro are dealing with the revelation that Magneto isn’t their father, and as you’d expect they havent take this lie told to them for their entire life in the best of lights. The duo have traveled to another dimension to try to find the truth and have run afoul of the ‘New Men,’ who appear to be policing the world and very unhappy at the appearance of earth mutants. The rest of the team, including a leashed Sabretooth- still in full hero mode post Axis- go looking for the duo only to be separated when Brother Vodoo gets attacked during the dimension travel phase, which leaves Captain America, Vision, Rogue, Brother Vodoo and Sabretooth all separated when they arrive and are instantly met by the New Men. This was an intriguing start to the new run, and seemed to get off to a very good start both in terms of the writing and the artwork while the story is definitely intriguing enough to keep me excited so far.
Arrow- S3 Ep11 Midnight City
Arrow gave us more glimpse of Oliver recovering this week- and I really could have done without these, as I would have loved the writers and producers to hold off on his fate for a while. However this weeks episode gave us a proper look at the new team Arrow in action as Black Canary joins the team (Laurel) and is completely in effectual causing the death of a city council member as her skills are severely lacking. This also leads Roy to question what the team are doing and whether this can be done without Oliver, before Felicity tells everyone that the mission is bigger than Oliver and them it’s about doing whats right. This felt like a really fast change of heart from last week, even after being shot at this episode and seeing a room full of police die as the Arrow wasnt there to save anyone. Despite this we got some really good character development for Roy/Arsenal this week as he seems to be stepping up and trying to lead the team- this was shown in his confrontation with Merlyn- and this is the first exciting development with his character since season one as is much-needed. Seeing Laurel get her butt handed to her was also fun, as she needs to learn the hard way how difficult her new-found role is and why everyone wanted to keep her out of this life. My only other real concern is the fact that Thea doesn’t seem to be moving forward as a character and still has no idea that her brother could be the Arrow, and by now she should have some idea as she’s come face to face with him on multiple occasions and he’s missing while the Arrow is. Come on- let’s get her on team arrow already and moving along as more than a second-rate tool to keep Merlyn engaged. On the flip side im interested to see how Team Arrow manage to take down ‘Brick’ and how many more attempts it takes them under the leadership of Arsenal and what happens when Palmer gets his Atom exoskeleton suit finished.
Uncanny X-Men #30
Brian Michael Bendis’s run on this book can be summarised in one of two ways- complete brilliance of story telling or completely adhock and crazy for the sake of it. In my humble opinion I honestly now feel that it falls squarely into the first category, as this weeks issue was a total brilliant piece of story development and writing that is exactly what comic books should be- fun and high stakes with a complete WTF moment at the end. I know Bendis has had highs and lows with this title in terms of story telling, but the current story is working wonders and the new mutant Malloy has helped shake up the roster and the world of mutants in a big way this week- as he has led to the deaths of Cyclops and Magik (not at his hands) and was then responsible for the death of Emma Frost as he simply can’t control and doesn’t understand his powers all thanks to the interference of Professor Xavier when he was a child. Theres even a moment in this where Xavier (in the past) gets called out by a new mutant for just preaching and doing the opposite that is a truly well written piece of script and really plays into the end of the issue. This story now has new legs that feel fresh and exciting moving forward, and with the Death of a mutant hero and leader were does this leave the world? And what is next for the Matthew Malloy now he has full control over life and death? Excitement just isnt strong enough for how I feel about this book moving forward.
Yes I realise that this date falls outside of the Short Thoughts date, however I don’t watch ROH through their dedicated website so sometimes I have to wait a few days for it become available to me (legally of course). This weeks show was all about the in ring debut of Alberto El Patron (Del Rio) and boy did he deliver a good match alongside ‘The Fallen Angel’ Christopher Daniels that highlighted just how good he can be in the ring and what a lose he truly is to the WWE and their main event scene. The match was longer than anything from Alberto has been in recent years, clocking in at nearly 23minutes and featured all of the spots you would expect from both men including a BME (best moonsault ever), the top rope enzighuri and the cross arm breaker for the win. However the match also showed how good Alberto can be with his ring psychology alongside another great technician and performer as everything in this match made sense and was very well paced- this is a bright debut for El Patron who has another three matches at least with ROH that im excited to see. This week also saw the debut of ODB to a ROH ring, and this is exciting as ODB is one of the most unique female performers in all of wrestling and i do love to see her on television especially with the Briscoes as this just seems like a match made in heaven- even if the brawl between them and the Kingdom to get her on television didn’t work as well as I’d of liked. This was another good show of solid wrestling, except for the Beer City Bruiser who looked like an early 80’s overweight poorly developed gimmick wrestler getting the win in the Top Prospect tournament- yet despite this i would still suggest any wrestling fan checks out this show just for the main event.
This issue promised us a fight between the Odinson and the new Thor- but what it actually delivered was much more, giving us a truly emotional issue told from the perspective of the Odinson and his current feelings towards his lose of worthiness and coming to terms with not wielding Mjolnir. This issue gave us the first physical altercation between the two but this wasnt over anything other than the Odinson feeling like he was the rightful owner and wielder of Mjolnir, the action leading up to the end of this brawl was brilliant and the writing allowed for him to allow his successor to have his blessing in the wielding of the great hammer- while along the way sewing the seeds that the Odinson may well know the new Thor despite us still being left clueless. The story was told from the Odinsons point of view, and featured some heavy moments of inner turmoil that really resonant with long-term Thor fans, and this was the real success of the issue feeling the torment of the Odinson as he realises that he now longer has the power of Thor and struggles to deal with what his purpose now is- this was great work from Aaron who has delivered at every turn on this new title.
Gotham- S1 Ep13 Welcome Back, Jim Gordon
Gotham has been a very good show thus far, and has fleshed out the majority of its characters so that they feel important to the show and no-one ever feels like their filling time while on the screen and this was shown with this weeks episode by the end of the episode, however how we got there was not great. We had the introduction of ‘Flass’ as a narcotics officer who was clearly corrupt from the first moment on the screen, and was using his team to smuggle and sell drugs within Gotham before he got found out by the returning Gordon who doesn’t everything he can to bring the man down- yes this did feel just as clichéd as it sounds as it played out on the screen. However the episode was saved by the final few moments, but lets talk about how the show got here first- Gordon couldn’t touch Flass as he was protected and the police department was happy to allow him to continue to do what he was (Why I don’t know) so Gordon decides he needs help after failing to bring him several times and turns to Penguin. This is where it gets great, as Gordon asks penguin to get some proof but promise that no-one gets hurt as this isnt what he wants and to be fair that is what he gets. However Penguin sends his right hand man round to ge the confession on tape and a murder weapon, yet to do this he holds the cops wife in the bathtub under a host of water with every intention to drown her and threatens to use his children too afterwards unless he talks. Obviosuly the information is shared and arrives with Gordon allowing him to take down Flass unaware of the tactics used or that he made a deal with the devil, until the final scene where the cop who was pressed for information falls to his knees in front of Jim in an alley begging and pleading that Jim leaves his family alone now and kills no-one as he did what was asked of him and will totally forget that it ever happened if he just leaves his family totally out of everything. This moment was amazing, as it became clear to Jim that he has made a pact that can’t be undone with Penguin and that he is now tainted just like Bullock and the others and has become everything he fights against. This wasnt the best episode as it seemed to contain too much and want us to forgive to many convenient plot points but the ending more than salvaged the worst episode to date.
Constantine- S1 Ep11
This show has been great, and its a shame that this nearly the final episode this series and potentially ever if it doesn’t get renewed. This feels unjust as the show has grown from strength to strength in dealing with the ‘rising darkness’ and the dark nature of Constantine and his world itself, but this weeks show felt off beat and a little bit like it contained too many elements to truly fit the feel of the show. This week we got to see a world of make belive in a serial killers mind where he was able to transport victims into this world through reflective surfaces once they had used a transcendence spell and then killed them in his world leaving them to die in the real physical world- yes this was the plot, see what I mean about it feeling weird for the show? The story also seemed to progress no-where except to show that Constantine will continually use his friends to try to save others with no real thought for them and their feelings- but we already now he’s a dick so do we need to see this again in such a poorly written way? The only saving grace was seeing Jeremy Davies as ‘Richie’ and the relationship between him and Constantine as the interacted very well throughout the episode and this made up for the lack of Chaz and Zed- who you notice are absent as they feel a huge part of the cast now- and the stunning visuals at the end. However with Richie choosing to come back and the logic of the killer making no sense I feel this episode really missed the point and stretched what were willing to believe.