Short Thoughts 1-8th February ’15

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Here are my reviews of all the television and comic books that i have managed to read and watch (minus 20minute episodes of Star Wars Rebels, and Marvel animations) this past week. This weeks featured some big television moments like the introduction of ‘Dr Crane’ in Gotham and some hyped new comic book releases like ‘Nameless’ from Grant Morisson; and here are my thoughts on it all.

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Nameless #1 (Image)
This is a highly anticipated book from Grant Morrison, and the synopsis made it sound like the kind of book he was born to write; a science fiction tale full of crazy moments, conspiracies and twists and turns. And that is exactly what the first issue delivers, as we get to see multiple worlds- one from dream states and one not, and then how this world has affected the ‘real’ world all while being wrapped up in an occult feel and the adult language and tone expected from a Morrison book. The artwork looks great and really fits the tone of the story, and the story moves fast (not too fast) and leaves plenty open for whats to come and is as bizarrely weird as Black Science, and has the opportunity to be equally as great. This is agood first issue that has me looking forward to next months, and truly promises to be as crazy as you would hope from Morisson.

Raw 2-2-15
This weeks Raw was a definite improvement over the last couple of weeks, as it felt like it moved things forward while actively acknowledging the issue surrounding the Royal Rumble. I’m still not completely sold on the 30minute opening promo format that seems to be standard now, however this weeks opening atleast gave us the slim chance that they may be rethinking Reigns taking on Lesnar at WrestleMania as Bryan and Rollins were added to the mix- and given a match on this show with the winner facing Reigns at Fast Lane. Throughout the night we also saw Cesaro score a big win over one of the tag team champions, meaning both Cesaro and Kidd have pinned the championships in two weeks so moving forward we should see a tag team shot for this team, and could this be there big win and progression point?  Bray Wyatt also took on Ziggler in one of the best television matches on Raw in a long time, this match was solid from the story telling perspective and gave us some great action and a logical conclusion- keeping Wyatt strong and at the same time helping Ziggler look like a star that never dies or quits but just came up short this time. This was well worth watching, as was the main event this week featuring Bryan vs Rollins which was a fast paced, technical thriller that eventually saw the involvement of Reigns to cost Rollins the match and allow Bryan to deliver the running Knee and score the pinfall. This involvement in no warm harmed Bryans win as it was a hard-fought 20minute contest up until this point- and helped make Reigns look good again after his pinfall loss to the Big Show earlier in the night since his push began (this was due to Rollins involvement). This was a real marked improvement over the last few average Raws, and I feel a lot of that was that there were several excellent matches and it felt as though the WWE was acknowledging the turmoil from the Rumble and at least moving the product along to try to reflect this- but only time will tell if this continues or dies as fast as it arose.

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Ant-Man #2 (Marvel Comics)
Nick Spencer delivered a surprisingly awesome first issue, with some action but a huge focus on the day-to-day life and feelings of Scott Lang and this issue continues to focus on the relationships that are important to Lang and what he needs to get his life back on track and look after his daughter. This character driven approach mixed with some action really works well, as the dialog is great, the inner thoughts of Lang are very well done and the short fight scenes are exciting and well drawn. This was another strong issue, and with the promise of the Taskmaster hiring Ant-Man for a job moving forward this should continue to be a strong book that will hopefully start to add some more of the comedy elements into the very strong writing- that made Spencers ‘Foes of Spider-man’ such a good read. THis has been a strong first two issues for a character that needs some hype prior to his first movie appearance, but this book feels like it is definitely going to be its own entity too and continue to be good moving forward.

Flash- S1 Ep12 Crazy for You
Flash continues to be brilliant in everything it offers, and this episode was no different as the main story was decent and moved along some of the characters but it also featured a moment ive been waiting for personally since the very first episode in a post credits moment; the first appearance of Grodd. This episode looked at several storylines and did a good job of keeping them all feeling relevant while dedicating an equal amount of time to Cisco, Kaitlyn, Barry and the Peakaboo (yes that is the villains name) and making sure that each story was logical and fully told. We got to see Cisco display some cunning technological trickery on the ‘Pied Piper’ while trying to discover what has happened to Ronnie aswell as seeing him use some basic karate moves effectively- since when has Cisco known this?? the episode alps gave us some moments between Barry and Kaitlyn as they both decide and try to move on from their failed love lives by spending some time together to socialise. This gave us a really needed insight to Kaitlyn as so far she has simply been the lady of the team, while this week allowed us to find out more about her as a person and a character. The escape of Pied Piper from Cisco i felt was too obvious even if they did swerve us with the first failed attempt, but the real villain this week was very well done from a visuals standpoint and being a teleporter this can always be tricky. However the fight scenes with Flash were very well done and choreographed and were fast paced and exciting especially the final showdown in the tunnel. The minute of Grodd at the end was also amazing- he’s a really different villain and seeing him develop could be fun and exciting if its given the right time, and the right build as he’s a huge Flash villain. This show continues to be must watch even when the pace of the show shifts to a slightly slowly episode like this one.

Star Wars #2 (Marvel Comics)
Jason Aaron and John Cassiday have done an amazing job on the first two issues of this book- the first issue gave us the familiar feel of the characters we all love and know so well, while this issue gave us the first true glimpse at Darth Vader (we did see him last issue but he’s a real focus this one) and what he may mean for the book going forward along with some action that doesn’t feel even remotely out-of-place for the Star Wars universe. Han Solo and Leia in the AT-AT attempting to escape the facility feels great, we get the classic one-liners these two share in the first two films, and it feels natural and well written not even a little bit forced and when you add in the addition of R2D2 to these conversations they become true Star Wars moments. This issue however is completely stolen by the sheer brilliance of the writing when Darth Vader and Skywalker are dueling and conversing with each other, as Luke is really shown up here and made out to be the unskilled padawan that he is at this point and Vader is the arrogant and sure Sith we all grew to hate and fear. We even get to see how he responds to his own men towards the end, and this is just as harsh and uncaring as when he continually kills his failing lieutenants in the movies. Add to Vaders brilliance a well presented and amazingly well drawn series of panels were he is almost destroying the AT-At with the force and this is an issue that you need to read if you even remotely like Star Wars.

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Agent Carter- S1 Ep5 The Iron Ceiling
This was another strong episode of Agent Carter and featured some really big moments, along with some really good action not too mention the amazing cameo from the entire Howling commandoes squadron. The episode started with an amazing flashback sequence that introduces us to the Marvel Cinematic universes version of the Black Widow Programme, and held nothing back in the sheer brutality and totally of the programme and how this leads to some of the best trained female killers in the world. While this was difficult to watch in the final moments (no-one want to see kids killing kids really) it really helped set the tone for the episode and for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. We also got to see Peggy show her skills as a codebreaker and as a  result force her way into the mission abroad which in turn brought along the howling commandoes to try to intercept the sale of Stark technology from Leviathon, and this is where she got the opportunity to really shine in front of her work colleagues and show how valuable an asset she can truly be in the field. During this mission we also got to see some more of the Black Widow programme girls- one a young woman left behind as a trap for the SSRand then Peggy’s housemate ransacking her room for important information. This was a great episode that really moved Peggy’s credibility along while also giving the viewers the realisation that Sousa has discovered that the ‘Blonde’ was Peggy, and this is a great cliff hanger because as she finally earns respect and acceptance she is also nearly outed as a possible traitor.

Wolfmoon #3 (Vertigo)
This has been a hell of a werewolf story so far- Cullen Bunn has done a great job of making this feel like a new take on the old mythology while providing us with some decent characters and some good stories, and this issue makes a change and delivers action in spades now the back story has been established. We get to see several brutal and hardcore werewolf attacks, a hunter killing people left right and center along with some horrific hallucinations from the current carrier of the werewolf virus. This is a good mature issues that feels like it’s what was needed at this point in the story and really puts our ‘hero’ in the thick of the action and looking like he may come out of this a loser next issue. This was another good read, despite being light on story that frantic action was a real success and carried this book through the issue.

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NXT 4-2-15
This is usually the best one hour of pure wrestling on television, and this weeks show was no different with several very good matches and a nice build towards next weeks 2hour live special. The main draw for this weeks show was easily the two ‘Number one contender tournament’ matches between Neville & Corbin and also Itami & Balor. On this weeks show we also got to see Carmella vs Emma, in her return to the NXT ring where she has delivered some classic matches before being forgotten in the main roster and also a Bailey versus Becky Lynch match-up. The Carmella and Emma match was short and ok, however Carmella is still very obviously a developmental talent as she is still a little too clunky in the ring and her technical skills need some refinement conversely Emma still looks good but lost here to set-up a gimmick change that is badly needed as her dance and co-ordination issues are the worst gimmick on the roster (Yes I do include Blue Pants here). The match-up between Bailey and Lynch was good, and showed that these two ladies can go and should be very capable of adding to the fatal four way for the NXT Womens championship next week as they had a solid match, it had a few moments of clumsiness but was genuinely entertaining and well wrestled. I like how Banks got herself involved in the end to cost Lynch the match-up and remind us that she is the dominant heel in the division- but felt that Charlotte coming out to merely stare was a waste of her time as she could have cut a promo with the two minutes she simply stood on the stage. Neville and Corbin was always going to be a match that went one of two ways: Neville looked great while showing Corbins massive flaws, or Neville worked his ass off to hide Corbins well and we got the second of these as Neville worked hard and well to make Corbin look good- and the interference for Dempsey keeps their feud alive while allowing Neville to reach the finals. Balor and Itami was the show stealer as everyone would have expected, this was a technical masterclass in the first half and a completely stiff and brutal match in the second half but you couldn’t take your eyes away from the two who worked very well together. The dropkick at the end also looked crazy violent, and Balor facing Neville at the live show was the right call- and im exceptionally excited to see the show which should be amazing given the fact we also get Zayn vs Owens live.

Hulk #11 (Marvel Comics)
Omega hulk has been a decent storyline so far, and Doc Green has been interesting but I always felt like something more was missing- were was the villain or the risk in this? Well this issue we got what was missing, as Doc Greens A.I told us he is losing his intelligence and the extremis is wearing off- giving the AI the opportunity to build its own escape plan in an attempt to survive and better the Hulk. This was a really nice shift and needed for the second half of this story, to help keep things feeling fresh and exciting. This was good issue that didn’t feature a huge amount of action but did move the story forward and add an exciting new element to the already well established storyline.

Gotham- S1 Ep14 The Fearsome Dr Crane
This episode gave us some character development across the board and really moved the story forward for the Penguin who seemed to have been stuck in limbo for a few weeks. It also gave us a new trait within Bullock as he had a love interest this week, and this seemed to open up a new side for him as he actually appeared to be caring for someone in his own way- albeit awkwardly and weirdly but he was definitely interested in someone other than himself. Gordon was meeting with Thompkins and their relationship seems to have been confirmed as a definite thing moving forward which could provide some interesting moments for next season, and when you add to this that Nygma also got some development and we got to see his devious and slightly vengeful side this week we really were treated to a lot of character development in a short hour. However the biggest of this was the fact that Maroni is now aware that Penguin works for Falcone thanks to Mooney- and tries to kill him in a car crusher only for Penguin to be as resourceful as ever to escape. This allows for Penguin to branch out more on his own now and this can only be a good thing, as an unhinged Penguin is what we all really need. WE also got the additional of Dr Crane this week, as he was killing individuals at the height of their fear to try to harvest their adrenal glands and the courtezan that is produced when in a heightened state of fear. My only concern was that Crane looked far to old to be the future Scarecrow we all love and fear- but the writers handled this exceptionally well in the later stages of the episode as the police where closing in on him. It was also a welcome change to see the villain from the episode succeed and escape, after Bruce had removed Gordon from looking for his parents killer- this was a really bad week for Gordon. I have one nagging question from this episode however: Why was the end of last weeks show (Gordon being begged like a crime lord not to hurt a cops family) never mentioned or even dealt with this week? It was such a great moment that i felt it should have continued over, otherwise this was another solid episode this week.

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Saga #25 (Image)
Brian K.Vaughan and Fiona Staples have done an amazing job on this title so far, and it continues to be a great read that seamlessly adds new characters straight into the mix of a huge story and never seems to wobbly or lose its momentum due to this. It’s also one of the few books that can deliver huge spoilers (“It will be yeas before we see each other again”) and still keep me thoroughly excited for where the book is going. Once again Staples does a great job on the artwork and the lettering of hazels thoughts, especially given the Dragon taking a bathroom break scene- and this is one of the big reasons this books works; the artwork seems to match the totally insane story so well that this is one of the best fantasy reads out there.

Arrow- S3 Ep12 Uprising
Arrow has lost a little of its amazing story telling from the first half of the season on its return this year, and a lot of that for me has to do with the way they handled olivers death- as this week (only 3episodes since his death) he returns to Starling City and dons the Hood to help take down Brick. In my eyes this is far too soon, and we should still be guessing and thinking on whether he is truly dead or not; we certainly shouldnt be seeing him back in action this soon. Minor grumble aside, Arsenal has been brilliant in the last 3episodes and has really started to develop as a character and has really matured nicely into a possibly team leader, and this was again showcased this week in several scenes that hopefully wont be nullified by the return of Oliver. Brick has been brilliant too over the last few episodes and I felt he was brought down to easily this week by a gang of local citizens, who managed to defeat his armed forces? There were just too many odd moments this week for this to be one of the better episodes- and it felt like the first poor episode in a very long time which in one way is good as it highlights the great writing job normally done, but on the flip side it also shows how wrong things can go very quickly. I’m still sure that this will all pick up again moving forward especially as we get to see Atom and more Ra’s Al Ghul, and possibly the Suicide Squad and Deathstroke so there is plenty of reason to remain excited.

Avengers #41(Marvel)
Jonathan Hickman has done a great job of building this story up to the point that the last issue really delivered with Black Panther turning on Namor and sending him to his doom, and this issue picks up in the Ultimate Universe 6months before this event as we see Nick Fury trying to get Reed Richards to restart the Avengers programme and work with Shield despite his recent fall from grace. We also find out that Richards has no plans for redemption and has secretly carried on his plans to kill worlds and make the prefect living planet for himself. This is well explained and easy enough to follow, even for those who don’t read the Ultimate line of books (like myself since Ultimatum killed them for me) and helps to give some background to ‘Time Runs Out’ and also foreshadows the ‘Battleworlds’ event that is to come. The issue then switches gears and goes back to what happened with Namor and Black Panther and the fall out of this, which I have to say is well worth reading as I hadn’t seen this coming and the final page is nothing short of entirely intriguing and exciting, and really builds my levels of anticipation for whats to come. This was another solid issue, but at this point I don’t feel we should expect anything else from Hickman.

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Constantine- S1 Ep12 Angesl and Ministers of Grace
This is the penultimate episode of this season, and if rumours are to be believed maybe the entire show- unless that jump to SyFy occurs and saves the show and the cast but right now we just don’t know which is a shame as this show has definitely improved to become a really good adaptation. This weeks episode features a villain of the week, who in the end is easily caught but its the whole way the ‘Hellblazer’ team get there that’s important this week, as we see the relationship between Constantine and Zed evolve due to the presence of her brain tumour along with the relationship between Constantie, Zed and Manni improve as he spends most of the episode trapped inside a human host thanks to Constantines vengeance at his insistence to not help with Zeds situation. This is where the episode shows it brilliance, as seeing Manni take on human form and emotions (not to mention interactions) was a real treat as it appeared to change him for the better and allowed him to understand the thing he asks of John better aswell as how difficult what John does is for him and those around him. This episode also highlighted a softer side of Constantine as he was willing to try to trap an angel to save Zed, where as we have only seen him sacrifice others before never try to save a friend and this was a good shift. I’m hopefully for the season finale- but at the same time sad that this may well be the end.

Wytches #4 (Image)
This issue is as great as the previous 3- but what the Hell Snyder? You simply can’t end an issue like that, it’s just not fair to the readers to drop a huge bombshell of “What?” proportions and then leaves us a month to wait it out. This issue focuses squarely on the mythology of the Wytches and how they may have come to be and why they are after Sailor, while also giving us some nice back story on the bond between Charlie and Sailor. The back story is well done, but the mythology scenes around the wytches are creepy- not just in the way its told but by who its told and how the tale ends. Once again the artwork is great, as shown by the scenes with Sailor in the Coven trap, and our frist clear(ish) glimpse at some of the Wytches and boy are they scary looking things! This book had me hooked before but this weeks ending has me eagerly anticipating the next issue and hoping that it was out in a few days time- well done Mr Snyder and Jock you have me hooked on another book and openly singing it praises.

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