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Superhero Weekly: Reign, Don’t Run

Midseason finale time!

Do I even need to say it? Although I will nitpick about both these episodes, Supergirl wins this week with Reign. Easily, the better thought episode that capitalized on a slow build up. While that cat is now finally out of the bag, the Flash went a different way. Two characters, Barry and Caitlin were each kidnapped by their current nemesis. There’s a twist at the end that relies on a ton of exposition and although there’s some merit, there was little payoff.

Let’s start in National City.

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(Source: The CW)

Highs, Lows and Ancient Prophesies:

  • Samantha finally embraces her Reign self, rather unconsciously of course. We still get the scenes with Ruby just to put salt in the wound of what comes after.
  • The religious tones of that episode with Rao prophet Thomas Covell are finally explained. Reign is not a baddie of the week.
  • The speech that Alex Danvers gives Kara about embracing her Kryptonian side fully and completely is a very nice touch. It gave me goosebumps to know that Alex would tell her sister to be alien.
  • Very good decision on keeping Reign hidden for a good part of the episode.
  • I’m not fully sold on Reign’s costume. Without a cape would be best, but I do understand the reason behind it. We wanted the shadow to appear as some sort of Supergirl-like silhouette.
  • The mask sort of works as we want to see Samantha but not have her recognized. Wouldn’t prosthetics work better here? And why is the waist so high up? It looks like she’s slouching in some scenes.
  • Really? Lena Luthor and… Jimmy Olsen? No, I never saw it. Not even a bit. I think it was dreamed up for this last episode. Definitely nothing as obvious as Samantha and Kara play it up to be.
  • Imra and Mon-El just can’t stop hurting Kara as they try to “help”. This was a bit grating as they can’t help but flaunt their relationship when they’re together. Even worse, Imra admires Kara so much she can’t stop. However, Mon-El who should know better, should really learn to walk away.
  • Morgan Edge, who has been missing most of the season (thank God) reappears just to hide from Reign and see if he can throw shade at Supergirl. Also, he’s not behind the glyph or the murders, but tries to arrange one AFTER Lena accuses him just to see if he could get that one under the radar.
  • I prefer Reign’s look from the comics, but I am willing to give this one a chance.
  • The Legion of Superheroes. Will they fly? Meaning, will they really work?

Okey, time to speed up to Central City.

flash-s4e9-dont-run

(Source: The CW)

Highs, Lows and Flying Armchairs:

  • Barry is captured by The Thinker. There’s no real build-up, suddenly he decides to grab him. Yes, we’ve been introduced to the character but plan and twist are all part of this episode. Nothing triggers the attack.
  • Caitlin is captured by… Wait, let me look up her name… Amonet. I don’t hate Katee Sakhoff, but I have not seen her work. I have only her performance here to go on and she’s not memorable in any way.
  • When did we get inside jokes with Killer Frost? Where are those scenes?
  • Anybody find Ralph Dibny funny? Anybody want to wear his costume for Halloween? Do you want to put up posters of him on your wall? No? Ok. Can he please leave the show already?
  • Caitlin’s plight is the usual “need a doctor” story line where a doctor is forced to operate on a patient, in this case this guy Dominic.
  • Barry’s plight is to try to get out of an unbreakable barrier.
  • And the whole thing is to give Iris the conundrum of who should receive an assist: her husband or Caitlin. She chooses Cait, because Barry can take care of himself.
  • Actually, the answer was Flash. The Flash is the fastest man alive so if he’s free he can go save Caitlin.
  • Or even better, he can fail at saving Caitlin – meaning Caitlin finally saves herself and becomes Killer Frost with a grudge at both Barry and Iris. The circle would be complete.
  • I liked Caitlin’s ruse the better, use the fact that both she and Dominic are covering their faces to put everyone else to sleep.
  • Marlize Devoe is The Thinker’s partner – not his minion. I do believe there was something to be said there, as Barry probes for a weak spot.
  • We get a mini Christmas scene because I guess we wanted a Christmas scene.
  • We get a twist, a little improvised and flaky. That’s not the worst part. The worst is the reveal has to come with a long drawn-out exposition via flashbacks.
  • The Thinker transferred his consciousness into Dominic. The Flash has run home to find Clifford Devoe’s body dead and a knife with blood next to him.
  • The Thinker held The Flash captive at the same time that Caitlin was with Dominic captured by Amonet. At the same time, that’s why Iris was forced to choose. So, The Thinker was attacking Barry after he transferred his consciousness. Was this Thinker a mere puppet? Was this a dying part of his consciouness that he left behind and he was in two bodies at the same time?
  • No, I don’t think the twist works here. I know there are worst plot holes in your average DC comic, but this one just felt rushed and unnecessary.

That will do for now.

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Toy Review: PE DX-03 Warden aka IDW Fortress Maximus

I’ve been reading quite a number of Transformers comics lately.

No, none of the movie adaptations. I’m sorry, Michael Bay’s versions just don’t work for me. I also never became a fan of Marvel’s take on the “original” story. After all, the Transformers were always toys first, storyline later. However, I always wanted to see something actually done right (or, right by me, I guess) with those little biographies that the toys came with.

The answer for me was IDW Publishing. I’ve been eating up All Hail MegatronTransformers: More Than Meets The Eye and Transformers: Robots in Disguise (later just renamed to Transformers) since October and I not only love the story, the characters and the humour, but the design is something to be amazed by. Which brings us to this guy.

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Okey, let’s start from the beginning. You’re looking at Perfect Effect DX-03 Warden. That’s a third party transformer (not Hasbro, not Takara) in its “Cannon Tank” alternate mode. Colorful, inventive but as a tank mode it’s not aesthetically pleasing. You want something with a less challenging balancing and a low center of gravity.

It’s his robot mode that sold me. Because, when you change him to robot mode he looks very familiar to IDW Transformers fans. It’s a highly accurate depiction of Fort Max! It’s Garrus 9’s very own warden, Fortress Maximus. (Note: Yes, I also got the Expansion Weapon package PE DX-03 EW almost exclusively for the cool rifle)

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He also changes into a head for the original G1 Fortress Maximus, which is also not a big selling point for me. However, he has so many points of articulation, so many twists and turns to his arms, legs and removable head (that transforms into a small bot – he’s a Headmaster technically) that although he’s already a triple changer, you can get away with some badass looking fan modes.

Dare I say, some fan modes can actually look better than the official modes. This is basically almost a LEGO version of a Transformer. So, I experimented for a bit and came up with my own version of a tank. Still looks very Cybertronian, but definitely a lot more pleasing to me. You tell me if this doesn’t look amazing:

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To make full use of the Expansion Weapon package, I have used the leg extensions as bigger missiles launches on top, while the guns on its legs are pointing forward when opened. More to the point, the best part of the toy’s paint is now in full view instead of hidden and the tank tracks don’t even need to be disconnected. I can even put the two missile launchers on the tank nose where the small ports are for the official transformation. They’re not super solid, but they will survive.

Because of the joined arms, the treads don’t rest completely flush on top of the tracks. The treads still work as good as before, which means they don’t – they will not really roll but they can move. You can also raise the whole thing atop the treads to simulate rough terrain handling. Plus you can open the covers on top of the leg extensions to simulate heat dispersion or heat shields on launch.

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On the back there’s even a small flatbed-like ledge for the head-bot to ride:

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You can still hook up the rifle to the side of the treads, but it kinda drags a bit. Even without the PE DX-03 EW package, this alt mode looks and works a lot better. Plus, I get to leave the huge cannon in the box because frankly it’s too big for the figure.

I also dreamed up a flight mode. This one doesn’t use the tank treads backpack which leaves a hole, but one that is only seen from underneath. The hook arm left behind from taking the backpack off can turn the opening, but can also be used as a landing gear, stabilizing the craft. I call this the “infiltrator” mode due to the TIE-looking wings giving it more than a passing resemblance to Darth Maul’s Sith Infiltrator from Star Wars:

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I added the missile launchers atop the TIE-like wings to give it some offensive power. There are no thrusters per se, but if you open up the leg guns they’re angled backwards. You can consider those the actual thrusters or imply the ship has TIE-like propulsion.

With so many modes, that makes me want an updated version of Sixshot. I still have the G1 figure but it’s a brick bot. Mind you, still a very good looking one. As for Fortress Maximus, as much tempted I am to get some repro labels I don’t want to cover the ruby-looking gem on the chest.

And now, a robot selfie from Fort Max himself.

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PE DX-03 Warden is a very nicely done rendition of the IDW version of Fortress Maximus. If you are not crazy about the official alt modes, here’s something to consider: The robot is more than flexible enough to make your own. I’ve focused mine on being colourful and not mind-numbingly complicated as long as they still looked good. Even without the alt modes, the figure is amazingly detailed.

I won’t hide it from you, it’s expensive. If you have to import it, shipping and customs will add more to what is already an expensive item. It’s up to you to decide if you want it, but hopefully I’ve added a little more value (or dissuade you altogether, who knows) to this wishlist-worthy item.

That will do for now.

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Superhero Weekly: Crisis on Earth-X

That was good.

crisis-on-earth-x

(Source: The CW)

I had my reservations regarding a second crossover for Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow  and the Legends of Tomorrow. The first one was particularly awkward as the real threat was pure CGI and just having the heroes facing each other appealed a lot more. It’s in the same vein that the new antagonist are not only flesh and bone, they’re also the doppelgangers from Earth-X.

Highs, Lows and Evil Twins:

  • I loved Kara’s participation here a lot more than in the previous crossover. Not only did she seemed to be featured prominently, she was central to the plot.
  • That being said… She does have to take the role the damsel in distress as she is the proverbial MacGuffin that the baddies are after. Once she’s free, it was back to her kickass self.
  • LOVED the fling between Sarah Lance and Alex Danvers. They should meet again while Alex is still single.
  • That Thunderclap move was amazing and straight out of the comics
  • Kara gets to utter the legendary line: “General, would you care to step outside?” YASSSS.
  • Why did we needed a scene with Nate Heywood/Steel holding or even catching Kara? The ground was softer than “steel” to catch her. Plus if Supergirl weights is off the charts as Superman is, Steel would’ve end up flattened as a pancake.
  • The surprise appearance of Winn as ruthless resistance leader General Schott was a little unexpected twist, albeit a short one.
  • Overgirl was a scary nemesis but that kiss with Fuhrer Oliver was just creepy AF. Also, notice how the name should’ve been Ubergirl but it was probably changed to prevent any association with certain private taxi service.
  • The Flash’s storyline acted as the prime motivation first as Barry and Iris are the ones to invite everyone onto Central City. However, it doesn’t stay that way and everyone does get a somewhat balanced spotlight.
  • I do think Killer Frost should have won that first encounter against Nazi Oliver since his hand and bow were frozen already. A simple flash bomb wouldn’t have been able to ignite (AND supposedly knocks her unconscious?). No, sorry. Frost had him dead to rights there. Yes, I am biased. No, I think had to put some lame ass way for him to get out of it just because.
  • Frost still got some really cool scenes, including using the ice-coaster again. Plus, mainly she got to play a freaking heroine!
  • Of course everyone ends up fighting their doppelganger. Understandable for Kara, but not necessarily for everyone else.
  • Green Arrow having a kryptonite arrow is a bit of subtle reinterpretation of Batman having a kryptonite ring in case Superman ever went rogue. However, does Oliver ALWAYS carry not one but several kryptonite arrows with him? I know he had some sort of thin layer to encapsulate the tip, but I still think Kara should have sensed/felt he was carrying it.
  • Tommy Merlyn appearing behind the mask of Prometheus-X was a throwback to the old theory that he was one of the suspects back in the day. That was really a personal gut-wrenching low blow for Ollie.
  • Congratulations to both Fuhrer Oliver and Nazi General Overgirl for officially being the most hated villain couple ever. No, actually the opposite of congratulations are in order.
  • Felicity facing down Fuhrer Oliver was really tense. You almost believed she was going to die then and there.
  • Red Tornado. Good look, but good looking CGI is still CGI. As much as the effort is appreciated, only Barry’s human face was saving that scene from being video game cutscene material.
  • The Legends of Tomorrow got some decent screen time at the end, but they also won the most touching story of it all. Professor Martin Stein, played by actor Victor Garber, after being so close to being human once more and almost rejoining his growing family was taken down by bullets. Hurt and unafraid, he performs two valiant acts: he saves the team and later in his deathbed, he takes the formula that separates him from Jackson. That was such a heroic way to go.
  • Jackson trying to say a eulogy for Stein was just heartbreaking.
  • The fighting was ok at best, and a little hokey if you look at it really close. Acrobatic flips just done for show, nazi soldiers missing by a mile or falling down too quick, etc. But the overall look and feel is quite solid if you don’t look too close. This might sound illogical, but crossovers are not about the battle, but about the once-in-a-lifetime encounters. There must be a battle, but it’s more background than foreground.
  • The plot was simple and not overly complicated. This worked better because of the quantity of side stories available. With the exception of Kara, most of the villains were believable. Melissa Benoist did try her best, you just will have a really hard time believing her adorable face is supposedly evil.
  • Snow/Frost got some great scenes there. Very balanced overall. I wasn’t that onboard for Barry/Iris and Felicity/Ollie at the end. Seemed way too last minute but I guess they wanted to end on a high.
  • Sarah Lance and Alex Danvers must meet again. They were just way too adorable. Alex doesn’t get to play awkward often but she was on point.
  • Barry lets Eobard Thawne go. Oliver just kills his enemy. Kara almost ends up Iron-Giant-fallout as she flies out Overgirl before she goes nova. All in all, their personal traits defined their victories. Barry is not willing to kill. Oliver doesn’t hesitate. Kara is willing to give up her life. So while Kara wins at everything and Barry would rather risk a draw, Oliver is a little too ruthless in my book.

That will do for now.

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