Need to Know: Guide to This Week's Comics TV - Feb 21, 2013

Arrow, “Dodger”

 

When the comically massive Sherwood Ruby is stolen by one of its guards, it is soon revealed to be the work of “The Dodger,” an international art thief who's modus operandi is to never get caught by blackmailing people with their own lives via explosive collars  into committing crimes for him.

Meanwhile, Felicity might be on the team, at least temporarily, but she is not good with all aspects of Oliver and Diggle's vigilante operation. When the veteran members of the team gear up to go after another name in Oliver's book, Felicity balks at the prospect of being part of making some kid an orphan over some financial misdeeds. When pressed to go along with the plan, she bails instead.

The next day Oliver and Diggle catch up to Felicity in her office and necessary discussion about trust and murder is interrupted by a newscast about how Dodger's arrival in their city was announced by the theft of the ruby. In the interest of comity, the Arrow-Team collectively chooses Dodger as their next target.

While plotting vigilante action at the Big Belly Burger, Felicity teases the guys into asking their respective potential paramours for dates. Since Carly is close at hand, Diggle asks his widowed former sister-in-law and finds her amiable to the concept of dating. Successfully peer pressured, Oliver has to ask Detective McKenna Hall, but at least gets the added benefit of using the opportunity to bug her phone for information about Dodger.  Later both the date-asking and bug-planting parts of the plan were successful.

The thief, looking to sell the ruby gets to show off his martial skills when he is double crossed by a local high-end dealer in stolen goods. With a concealed shock wand, Dodger disables three gunmen then sends a message to the Starling City criminal community by killing the fence.

It's date night, and Diggle blows the mood almost immediately by bringing up the dead brother/husband in the room and  Carly is too overcome by guilt and emotion to continue. Things aren't much better with Oliver as McKenna's seemingly innocuous questions about Oliver's time on Purgatory bring up some very vivid flashbacks of the pain and fear he felt in his first few months on the island and cause him to get short with her. When she's called away due to a lead on Dodger, he follows.

The thief is with a new fence, but he doesn't get an opportunity to cash in as the cops are on the scene very quickly. When a gun battle breaks out, Dodger sees his cue to leave, but outside he's confronted by the hooded vigilante. Ignoring a warring, both in verbal and in sharp wooden stick propelled by tensioned cord form, Dodger actually physically dodges a seemingly fatal shot, arms one of his explosives collars like a grenade and gets away, nearly killing Oliver in the process.

The hero's new plan is to plant an irresistible treasure from the Queen family collection in a charity auction then pinch Dodger when he goes for it. Unfortunately the plan goes awry when a (nicely made up) Felicity confronts Dodger solo when he goes for the bait and ends up with an explosive necklace that clashes with what must be her only really nice dress.

Roy Harper Debuts

Diggle gets to work trying to disarm it while a trying-to-stay-calm Felicity guides Oliver (on a stole motorcycle with an opaque helmet) as he chases down  Dodger. Disabling the thief’s car with a flechette,  Dodger tries to get Oliver to back down by threatening to blow up Felicity, but another small knife from Oliver severs a nerve in Dodger's arm, rendering it paralyzed. Trying to buy time to get his shock wand in position to attack, Dodger claims common cause with the 'steal from the rich' vigilante, but Oliver is having none of it, reverses Dodger's wand onto him and claims that “[He's] no Robin Hood.”

This exploration of trust and tough decision making is as customary told in parallel to events on Purgatory. When Slade gets an infection from the bullet wound he took from Fyers, Oliver leaves him to get some of the healing herbs from Yao Fei's cave. Once there, he meets a bound and bloody young man who says he was shipwrecked there a couple of days ago. He and his crew were captured by armed men and beaten, but he managed to escape. The man begs Oliver to untie him but ultimately Oliver leaves him there begging, telling him he doesn't know him so he doesn’t trust him.

While take down Dodger mission is going on, Moira Queen is meeting with an old friend from China. While he thinks the discussion is to be about The Undertaking, Moira is instead is looking to get help extricating herself from the plot that they agree has strayed far from it's goal of helping The Glades, a rundown area of the city. Sympathetic, her friend puts her in contract with China White, who Moira then hires to kill Malcolm Merlyn.

In those same rundown neighborhoods, Laurel Lance and Thea Queen are having a discussion about class and the criminal justice system over some hotdogs when Thea's purse is stolen by an agile young man in a red hooded sweatshirt. Thea, frustrated at the loss of her stuff uses a clue the thief left behind while hopping over a fence to track him down. In custody, the purse snatcher, a Roy Harper Jr. tells a story of a dead father and a Vertigo addicted mother to get Thea to drop the charges. Later Thea shows up at his front door and after they exchange flirty insults about not knowing what it is like being each other, Roy returns the purse and tells Thea not to believe every sob story she hears.

Finally, both Oliver and Diggle get a chance to make up with their respective dates. Diggle confronts the fact that his brother will always be on his mind, but he wants move on with his life and be with Carly and she accepts that. Oliver on the other hand admits to

McKenna how much the island isolated him and made him make impossible choices and that she needs to understand what effect that had on him. She gets and and just before they kiss and make up, Detective Lance arrives to promote McKenna to the Vigilante task force. Oliver is not amused.

Back Issue Notes

-Roy Harper was Green Arrow's original sidekick “Speedy” and made his debut way back in 1941 as one of comics original teen heroes. Roy would have a long but troubled career in superheroics, becoming addicted to drugs in one of comic's all time most famous storylines, fathering a child with the Villainess Chesire and losing an arm in battle with Prometheus. He currently costars in Red Hood and the Outlaws as "Arsenal."

-The thief Dodger shares his name with a relatively new addition to the DC Universe, created by Judd Winick and Mike Norton, though the original Dodger is in more of the 'gentleman thief' mold, akin to how Charles Dickens' Artful Dodger saw himself.

-Comic creator shout-outs include a cemetery named after Paul Norris, the creator of Aquaman; a plaza named for Starman artist Tony Harris and an intersection named after a pair of comics legends: Writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams (who co-created the aforementioned drug addiction storyline)

The Walking Dead, “Home”

 

Rick is not a well man. Looking worse for wear even for a zombie apocalypse, he's still seeing the ghost of his recently departed wife and as a baffled Michonne watches him chase something only he can see outside the prison fence.

In Woodbury, a seemingly dispirited Governor talks abdication with Andrea, whom he feels has acquitted herself well to leadership while he's been moping over the loss of his undead daughter and right eye. Andrea, shocked at the offer is still hung up on the fact that the raiders where members of her old group and wants to travel to the prison to talk to them. Not too much later The Governor asks Milton to prove his loyalty and friendship to him by keeping an Andrea and reveals that he doesn't fully trust her, then disappears for what Milton later tells Andrea is a supply run.

Not too far away The Brothers Dixon are hunting for food but having no luck either because there is no game in the area or their incessant bickering is driving it all off. It becomes clear that Daryl is regretting leaving Rick's group, and when Merle picks up on this (as all accomplished jerks can), teases his brother with the notion that the Governor's superior forces and ruthlessness might mean that the prison population is already dead. Not long after that the sound of a crying baby draws Daryl to a bridge where a small family of survivors has gotten cornered between groups of walkers. Daryl charges in, but Merle, seeing that they 'aren't of his kind' in a number of ways, drags his feel in helping. He does however, decide to help himself to the survivors' supplies as payment for 'their' help, but a fed up Daryl backs him off with his crossbow and lets the survivor family drive away. Later, as part of the same argument they have apparently been having for decades escalates into fisticuffs, it is revealed via scars of Daryl's back that after a young Merle left home their father turn to Daryl to be the subject of abuse. A shockingly chastened Merle is left speechless as Daryl realizes that he blogs with Rick's group, with or without his brother and despite the problems that he'll have will Rick and Glenn, Merle follows.

At the Prison, a raging Glenn discusses with Carl how the now-absent Tyreese group got into the prison and why the lower levels are filled with walkers again. Hershel advises caution and flight from the prison, but Glenn wants revenge on the Governor, especially when Maggie, whose own recovery from their encounter with the Governor is driving the couple apart. Outside, Carol and Axel are getting friendly while reinforcing catwalk fence. Axel shares want he calls the true story of his incarceration, a botched armed robbery where he too chicken to even pull the toy gun he brought with him. Amused, Carol begins to show him how to use a real weapon.

Hershel tires one more time to talk Glenn down, but the latter takes a truck and drives off towards Woodbury. Obviously thinking he needs more practice in his role as Wise Old Man, Hershel then hobbles over to the fence line where Rick, on the other side, is gaping awkwardly at a vision of Lori. Hershel pleases for Rick to come back and assert some leadership over his fractioning group, but Rick only admits that he knows the Lori he sees isn't really there, but he can't stop chasing her until he understands why he's seeing her.

 

Free of apparent mental illness, consuming rage or brotherly discord, Carol and Axel enjoy a moment of peace in the prison yard that is shattered when a shot from the Governor's automatic rifle strikes Axel in the head, killing him instantly. It's a coordinated attack by several members of the Woodbury militia. The Governor, Martinez and another Woodbury-ite are firing from the tree-line, while another has made his way up to a guard tower and has Carol pinned down behind Axel's body. Rick and Michonne try to cover for Hershel, who's hiding in the tall grass, while Carl does the same for Carol but they are outgunned until Maggie charges in laded with weapons. Maggie, Carol and Carl are able to kill the guy on the watchtower, but the arrival of an armored delivery van that crashes though the outer prison gates gives everyone pause. When a ramp at its rear opens it spills its load of walkers. The van's driver, also covered in armor, runs for the Governor's truck as the Woodbury leader gives a wry smile and a celebratory burst of gunfire into the air before falling back.

In the outer yard, Michonne, now in her element, draws her blade and starts to clear out the delivered walkers on her way to help Hershel. Outside the fence, Rick is out of bullets and surrounded. Just before a pair of zombies gets a nibble in a crossbow bolt pierces the skull of one of them and stops just before hitting Rick. Wordlessly, Daryl, Rick and Merle clear the immediate area of danger as Glenn returns to pick up Hershel in his truck and drive everyone back into the inner yard.

Back Issue Notes

-Zombie Kill of the Week: While watching Daryl pull a reverse Legolas with a crossbow bolt (shooting it first, then using it to stab something), moments later he's well on his way to bottling a 2013 vintage of Chateau d'Mort by bursting a zombie's head like a grape with the hatchback door of the bridge survivor's ride. When the critics say that wine has a good nose, they really mean it.

-Martinez's first visit to the prison goes a lot better for him here than it did in the comic book version. There Martinez acts as a double agent to discover the location of the prison for the Governor. When his duplicity tis discovered a raging Rick runs him down in the RV and shoots him in the head.

-The Governor's attack on the prison is a much tamer affair then how it was depicted in the comic, hinting that, with the National Guard equipment Michonne found in Woodbury earlier might come into play.

-Both versions of Axel managed to be the last of the prison's original 'residents' to survive.

Young Justice, “Complications”

 

The episode title puts the situation mildly as the disguised Artemis and a mentally healed but possum-playing Aqualad struggle to figure out a way for Miss Martian to escape from Black Manta's sub (and Deathstroke's power-inhibiting, explosive collar) alive and without breaking cover.

Any plan that they had put into place when Artemis 'goes for coffee' is thrown right out the figurative submarine window, when Artemis' sister Cheshire and their father Sportsmaster board the sub seeking revenge for the young heroine's death against Aqualad (for the former) and a restoration of honor/credibility against Black Manta (for the latter).

With the heroes, heroes just acting as if they were villains, villains after other villains (only some of which are actually villains) all separate, they quickly pair off and start fighting and monologue in classic Young Justice style.

 

While Sportsmaster and Black Manta go at it, Miss Martian struggles to keep a catatonic-acting Aqualad alive against Cheshire, until a stray shot takes down the camera Deathstroke was using to motion the room. However not even a now up and around Aqualad can convince Cheshire of the truth about Artemis' situation. Artemis on the other hand is using the chaos to sneak into the sub's bridge to disable the inhibitor collar, but is intercepted on the way back by Sportsmaster and is forced to fight her father at the behest of Black Manta.

With her powers resorted, Miss Martian freezes the mind of the prinicals involved (save Black Manta) and inside the memory of the room that a young Artemis shared with a young Cheshire, the heroes reveal to the villains Artemis' status as alive and Aqualad's deep cover assignment. Cheshire is happy to know her sister is alive, and Sportsmaster is delighted that his foe Black Manta is being made a fool of. The villains then agree then to help cover for Miss Martian's escape.

 

Deathstroke, sick of being on the sidelines arrives and fights Artemis family to a standstill until Miss Martian gets a measure of revenge against him, finishes selling the plan that it wasn't Artemis or  Aqualad's fault that she got away before phasing out of the sub and away into the ocean.

While some serious intrigue and danger played itself out at the bottom of the sea, on the War World (now in orbit of the Earth) the traitorous Blue Beetle is selling a story that the team was kidnapped via Boom Tube as part of an apparent Mongul fail-safe plan. This story manages to convince Nightwing at least until he has a closer look at the hanger where he finds the evidence of a battle including a bird-arang of Robin's covered in Blue Beetle nanites.

His suspicions are confirmed later when The Reach Ambassador introduces Blue Beetle, via their UN stage, to the world as the hero who defeated Mongul. When Beetle takes the stage, he reveals himself as Jaime, and praises The Reach for giving him the power to save the Earth. Nightwing is not pleased.

Back Issue Notes

-The daughter that Cheshire had with the clone Roy Harper (in the show's continuity, natch), Lian makes a brief appearance being taken care of by her grandmother. The apartment of a former super-criminal might be the safest place for her, as her comic-book counterpart was killed while under the care of her father in an attempt to save her (and hundreds of others) from an attack by the villain Prometheus.

-Sportsmaster's weapon of choice this week was a Hammer Throw hammer. His weaponized sporting good (sporting bad?) closely resembles (save for some nasty looking bumps) a regulation hammer used in international competition: a sixteen pound ball connected to a handle via a cord just under four feet long. The world record for chucking this object is 284 feet 7 inches, meaning its a good thing that Black Manta wears a helmet.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series, “Love is a Battlefield"

 

Aya continues to take her breakup with Razer pretty hard as she, in her new Aya-Monitor form, decides to literally rock the cradle of love by wiping out its proxy: the Star Sapphires and their homeworld Zamaron. Her legion of Manhunters make short work of the Sapphire guards of the royal palace, at least until Queen Aga'po herself takes the field and the manhunters learn her love cuts like a knife, but it's no match for the Aya-Monitor.

With their Queen wounded and realizing that they are clearly outmatched, royal niece (and Hal Jordan crush holder) Ghin'ta seeks to change the mind of the broken hearted robot by reminding her that even though love hurts, love scars, it’s still worth fighting for. The Aya-Monitor scoffs at this notion and asks who put these lovefool-ish ideas into her head. Ghin'ta is hesitant to name names, but Aya uses her newly acquired powers to enhance the Star Sapphires' teleportation powers and bring none other than Carol Ferris to Zamaron to justify her love for Hal Jordan.

 

Plucked out of a buffet line and with tongs in hand, Carol is frustrated to be back on Zamaron and gobsmacked to be asked to justify the existence of love itself using her relationship with Hal Jordan as context. Struggling with the challenge beyond quoting the lyrics of 80s era love songs, she finally hits on the idea that she and Hal have a love/hate style relationship.

Leaving it to a robot to take that idea too literally, she proposes a contest with the fate of Zamaron on the line. Carol, representing love, will fight to the death with an avatar of hate. For this role Aya summons Atrocitus from his extra-dimensional prison and arms him with a red ring, promising freedom if he destroys Carol.

 

Ghin'ta draws up a Star Sapphires ring from some of Zamaron's omnipresent purple crystals for Carol just in time, the aerospace firm executive begins battling the madder-than-usual pan-galactic alien conqueror with (as Carol notices) serrated teeth as a Star Sapphire. The battle between the experienced Atrocitus and the neophyte Carol does not go well, until she realizes that its willpower, now or never, and uses the Sapphire ring put a wave the air and summon help.

Meanwhile, Hal and his team are floundering in the Interceptor. They need to get back to Oa to scan for Aya, but without the AI on/in the navigation computer, their hyperspace jumps are fraught with risk. When Carol's portal opens showing her in grave risk of death at the hands of Atrocitus, Hal charges through it just in time to save Carol.

 

Even with love keeping Hal and Carol together, they struggle with the relentlessness of Atrocitus' attacks. When Carol is downed, a distracted Hal is dazed trying to reach her. As Atrocitus readies his acid vomit attack to finish Jordan, Ghin'ta leaps into line of acidic emesis and is mortally wounded. Anger is now Hal's weapon as he tears into Atrocitus until he is left open to Carol, crushing him with a massive stone.

The Aya-Monitor however is not impressed, declaring that the love of biological life-forms is a tainted love, and that she will destroy Zamaron anyway. However when the Interceptor arrives Razer pleads with Aya to come back to her senses, but she only decides to hold off on genocide until she can find a way to destroy all biological life at once and departs with her manhunters.

Later, Carol, having had enough of silly love slugfests, takes a portal back to Earth, this time though she's keeping the Star Sapphire ring.

Back Issue Notes

-Best Construct Award: Hal's 'angry gloves' are cool, but not as useful as Atrocitus' grindy-ball. Not just a heavy weight on a chain that's great for smashing, but that weight is made up of continually mashing gears that are ready to pulp anything that they simultaneously crush. Imaging throwing a ten ton, switched on blender at someone you really don’t like. Wear a smock.

-Carol's relationship with the Star Sapphires is a complicated one, originally she was used as a mind-controlled pawn in the all-female Zamarons' war against men. Eventually and paralleling their evolution here, the Zamarons realized that the power of their Violet Energy was corrupting their goals, and they formed a Green Lantern like corps to ensure they act in a more benevolent manner. Moreover to that end, they asked Carol to volunteer to be the Star Sapphire's leader and eventually their queen.

Ultimate Spider-Man, “The Sinister Six”

 

Just as in Kraven The Hunter, this week opens up with a 'the heroes are fighting each other, no it's a training exercise' fake out, though this time their practice session is recklessly taking place on and around the torch balcony of the Statue of Liberty. The training is pitting Spider-Man alone against all the Neo-Amazing Friends, and the web-slinger is acquitting himself much better than he has in the past. The fun is called to a halt when Dr. Connors calls Peter via a shaky signal and asks for his help at Doctor Octopus' underwater base. Spider-Man asks his teammates to come along just in case there is trouble, but they blow him off.

Once underwater and isolated, a restrained Dr. Connors tries to warn Spider-Man away, but it's too late, Doctor Octopus is there to active a control device that transforms Connors into the Lizard, and the pair of animal themed villains is not alone. With them is Kraven the Hunter, Electro (in his powered up, electrical being form somehow), Beetle and Rhino (who shows no signs of being his alter-ego, Alex, the regretful victim of bullying from his eponymous episode) and together they are the Sinister Six.

Under Ock's leadership, the sextet of bad guys manage to knock a surprised Spider-Man around for a while until he escapes into the city sewers where he is able to taunt the villains into splitting up to look for him. Peter is able to get the drop on Lizard and webs him up long enough to plead with the monster's human side. For a little while it works, and a restored Connors fights against Ock's control until the pain is too great and the Lizard returns, bursts free and knocks Spider-Man out. With the hero down for the count, Doctor Octopus wants to know who Spider-Man really is but the villains argue long enough about who will get the honor of unmasking him and the web-slinger wakes up and escapes to the surface.

 

After a short battle on the pier, Spider-Man swings up to a Daily Bugle news-copter and rather than cut away, the anti-Spider-Man news network allows Spider-Man to make a call for help from his team over all the TVs tuned to that channel in the city. The Six manage to follow Spider-Man to Liberty Island where the hero manages to avoid the attacks of the villains just long enough for his team to arrive. Despite how the numbers line up (five heroic, six sinister) they pair off for battle, though Ock and Spider-Man stay on the sidelines to instead debate their styles of super-team leadership. The former favoring negative reinforcement embodied in the remote control he has to the Lizard's pain-giver, while Spider-Man's style clearly needs work as his team struggles against their clear counter-parts (epitomized by the fact that Power Man is fighting The Rhino when it has been proven now that the man-beast once managed to break Luke's unbreakable skin). 

Before his and his team is killed, Spider-Man has an epiphany and calls for the heroes to switch opponents, leading to the Six's swift defeat. The Lizard however is driven over the edge by Ock's control collar, breaks free and flees to the sewers. Despite Peter's pleas that he can try and help his friend regain his humanity, Lizard declares him a failure and disappears. Later, Nick Fury tries to cheer Peter up, but the recapture of the five true villains does not make up for losing his scientist friend.

Back Issue Notes

-Doctor Octopus convened the original Sinister Six as well back in 1964 with a slightly different lineup: himself, Vulture, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, and Sandman. A sextet of various villains under that moniker has plagued Spider-Man with regularity ever since in comics, video games, on TV and even in the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.

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