Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Sunday Review

Recent television:

  • Supergirl: "Myriad" - And we finally get to find out what Myriad actually is... and it's just as disappointing as I kind of expected. This episode in general had some really lame moments. Introduction of a "new" character, Kelly, just in time for her to be used as a pawn. The appearance of Superman for a brief moment, but oh so brief. Alex is extraordinarily stupid in this episode, making a choice that could only lead to heartache. And Cat's fashion choices have such a big impact? Despite all the many flaws, it was carried off by the cast, but it's still a bit pathetic.
  • Supergirl: "Better Angels" - That is a totally unfair season cliffhanger. The rest was interesting enough. Ater the previous episode, it did an ok job of pulling the whole thing together and making something out of what was, at its heart, a pretty crappy storyline. The whole myriad thing was a total disappointment, as was the solution to the problem. I suspect it'll seem better in retrospect, but after just viewing the episode? Meh. I really wanted more from it. As usual, the cast is the only thing that saved the show, and the only reason I want to see more of it.

  • Arrow: "Broken Hearts" - This is all about the relationship between Felicity and Oliver, moreso than any episode so far, and I seriously thought they were going to take the easy route and get them back together. The testimony of Captain Lance was impressive, but you can't help feeling there's going to be more trouble for him in the future thanks to it.
  • Arrow: "Beacon of Hope" - You've got the ability to make these amazing mechanical bees and you somehow turn to crime instead of finding a way to cash in legally? And then, instead of saying, "let me join your team and go straight," you attack the one person who is most likely to be able to help you? I'm just feeling major "ug" over this one.
  • Arrow: "Eleven-Fifty-Nine" - Depressing, especially that final shot. This show is often way too dark for me, this episode in particular left me cold.

  • The Flash: "Versus Zoom" - A pretty good info-dump episode, filling in the back-story and making the whole Zoom thing make sense. Of course, the ending was a massive letdown, and we still don't know who the prisoner in the mask is. I'm a little curious how Zoom got back to his own world with Wally. Wouldn't he be stuck unless Cisco opened another portal? And speaking of Cisco, what a twist. He's got a whole lot of potential, but he's also remembering what happened to his other self. I would have expected him to embrace his abilities, but instead he was deliberately shying away. Nicely played by the writers.

  • Legends of Tomorrow: "Left Behind" - The relationship between Ray and Kendra is deeply interesting, if only because of all the interference it is getting from both sides. Then there is Sara. She's really not thinking straight. But it was nice to see Ra's al Ghul again. And Talia? Wow. But the biggest shock was the identity of Chronos and how Snart freed himself. Yikes. This was an intense episode from start to finish, packed with stuff.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: "Progeny" - Per Degaton... yup. Heading into DC legends to find the biggest and baddest of the baddies for us to gasp about. This one also lets our heroes break loose again, with a nifty battle sequence. Overall, a pretty good episode, even if everything Rip does to the timeline seems to make things worse.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: "The Magnificent Eight" - I really enjoyed this one, although it was a bit too much in places. I liked seeing Kendra meet with a former self, as well. Tragedy or heartbreak? We have to hope it's heartbreak. Rory's turnaround seems a bit abrupt, until his comment that he was only ever on his own side. I loved Snart's sharpshooting and Rip's reason for not getting involved. And I figured the kid was somebody famous, just didn't guess who.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: "Last Refuge" - So time is something that is malleable, but then it sets, like cement. It wants to happen, but there are points at which things can be massively altered. It seems to me that altering the timeline in the way the assassin proposed to do it would cause much more disruption than what Rip and his buddies were up to. So, we've got a show that really is riddled with plot holes, some of them even intentional. But there's a decent cast and some fun moments, so I'll forgive most of it.

  • Gotham: "Into the Woods" - I fear this one might stay with me longer than I like. In short, this was intensely horrible on the Penguin side, and terrifying on the Nygma side.
  • Gotham: "Pinewood" - And the whole mystery is solved, more or less. I wonder what will happen now that the truth is out there? I knew the new character was doomed as soon as we met her, but I didn't expect what happened. It was nice to see 'The Lady' again, even if she's not as nuts as Missy. Overall, a decent episode, with a properly disturbing end.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 16th
  • Sinestro #21 - Hey, Aquaman is on the cover! He's not inside, that I could see, but that's ok. For once I sort of liked the issue. Soranik is still my favorite of the new DCU characters. She's going to have some tough times ahead, but that's what makes her interesting. I almost see Sinestro putting her in charge simply because she is more interesting than him, just to make sure his book keeps going. Huh. Am I falling for a super-villain gambit?
  • Titans Hunt #6 - This issue was just a lot more filler. All of this could have been told quicker without losing much at all. Combine this issue and the previous two, and you'd have a nice, tight story. But this? It's the same thing padded out into a cliffhanger that's not a cliffhanger. All we have that's new is an info-dump, which could have been done in a couple of pages. I'm sorry, I want to like this book, it has Garth in it, but stop stretching stories.
  • Astro City #33 - Steeljack isn't stupid, but I'm not entirely sure that this move was the smartest he could have taken to get to the source of the problem. Then again, maybe it worked? But the question of motive, why people would be killed, has not been sorted out. I have a guess, which I'll hide with rot-13: Vs gur ivyynvaf ner va gur arjf naq ovt anzrf, gura gur erfgnhenag jvyy qb orggre, znlor?
  • Huck #5 - He acts like he isn't smart, but he's just very very cautious. And when he gets to situations where he no longer needs caution, well... all bets are off. I do like the sheer goodness between Huck and his mother. The sheer badness of their captors makes it easier to root for Huck, as well. I have very much enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to the next issue.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #153 - Ah, cucumbers. This came directly after the previous story. I'm not sure how long this story takes, but I assume there was a period of recovery for Usagi after his injury, regardless of the healing. The kappa was interesting. I'm sure we've seen them before, but it was strange to learn of a truce between the villagers and the kappa based on the favorite food. And then to learn the flooding caused problems for more than just the humans.
  • Doctor Who 8th #5 - And there's another story that comes to its conclusion. This was a pretty good little run, with an interesting companion introduced with a little mystery that was nicely solved. There's a bit of that "Gangers" vibe in this one, with the notion that scientifically created life can be as real as life that apparently springs up out of evolution/whatever. I don't know if we'll be getting any more of the adventures of Josie and the Doctor, but I'd like to see more of this pair. She's pretty good as a companion.

Fortean Times #33
Fortean Times #33 (Autumn 1980). Honestly, I'm not fond of the cover to this one. It doesn't mean anything to me, and it's vaguely anxiety-inducing. I'm guessing there's some massive symbolism I'm missing, but I just don't like it.

That said, the contents are another story, of course. It's somewhat humbling to read the editorial, which is about the cash-flow problems of the magazine. The subscriptions are hovering at the 1000 mark... not bad for a little mag like this. The editorial says they want to double that, to 2000, so they can reach an even keel. Again, humbling for a person reading this nearly 36 years later with a deep love of the modern version of the magazine!

This issue jumps right into the letter column, and starts with a term I've never heard of for Urban Legends: "Whale Tumour" stories. The second letter references Oshspe: The Kosmon Bible, which I seriously thought for a minute was a joke. Hoax maybe, but the letter writer took it seriously. There's several more letters, including a suggestion to sell the cover art for cash, which wasn't possible because the cover art was returned to the artist, along with the copyright. Another letter rips into the Manna Machine book amusingly, while another talks about Mt St Helens, sort of.

The first feature article is about the Enfield Poltergeist by one of the witnesses, Guy Lyon Playfair. He has some theories about polts and what might cause them, but it's pretty clear from his article that he firmly believes there's something going on there beyond mere hoaxing, and he makes a pretty good case for it. I'm sure this is one of those situations that I can't really "believe" in until I've experienced it, and from what he's written, I absolutely do not want to experience it. So I'll accept that he believed it to be real and move on to the next topic...

Which is an article about the similarities between reports by UFO abductees/witnesses. There's some interesting speculation about the true nature of such reports, but I'm slightly disappointed that more than 30 years later we're still discussing exactly the same things.

The final installment of "Gateways To Mystery" appears in this issue, with a co-writer on the article who, it seems to me, makes it a bit harder to read. Honestly, I think it kind of lost the thread of the first two parts and wandered off into unknown territory without enough of a link to make its case. There's certainly information there, but not really much sense. Deep thinking, but not very clear.

The final "feature" pieces is more stories from what was then an upcoming book, Man Bites Man that collects a lot of strange newsclippings from George Ives. Some are neat, some are just freaky.

We get another selection from Aristotle's Book of Problems from 1749, this one not quite as offensive at the ones in the previous issue. There are some clues to how people thought, such as the idea that a person who has been murdered will bleed if his murderer looks at him and that it's not a good idea to sleep on your back. Interesting for the insights.

Comix has Telly Kinex getting into trouble with his landlord for making so much noise thanks to his experiments in telekinesis, which result in him dropping things fairly often. Needless to say, Telly gets the better of the landlord. I'm becoming slightly fond of this comic. Phenomenomix is about fire in its various forms, particularly the more fortean types. Facts You Might Forget is about aliens coming to earth to educate humans, and manages to be slightly offensive while slightly amusing. I'm not warming up to this one at all.

There is a lot to look at in the Notes section, starting with coverage of Mass Hysteria cases from the era. It's easy to see the interest in the way Rickard writes about the subject: this is something he's really intrigued by. Strange Encounters had some fun reports out of Russia, while there were some cool images reproduced in the simulacra section. All kinds of different topics were covered in the Trends section, while the Unidentified section introduced readers to a new lake monster hunter.

Loren Coleman looks at giant snake sightings in the United States, and finds some fun ones. Steve Moore has a round-up of tales from China and the Philippines. Enigma Variations, about UFOs, looks at reports from school children.

Lots of good reviews in this issue, and a couple of incomprehensible ones. I'm impressed by the number of publications listed in the Classified Exchanges... these are other magazines that send copies to FT in order to get a copy of FT. There's 38 of them, if I'm counting right. Today, these are the people with websites that are kept up-to-date. It's another good issue from the past of my favorite magazine, and it only makes me more determined to get my hands on more back issues. It may be 36 years old, but the reading is still fun.

Fortean Times Wishlist: FT1-FT24, FT40-FT163, FT194-FT211, FT219-FT222, FT229-FT238