Arrow, “Trust Buy Verify”The unlikely partnership between Oliver Queen and John Diggle is tested when Ted Gaynor, John's former Commanding Officer in Afghanistan, is listed in the former's book and is connected by his tactics to a string of armored car robberies in Starling City. To Oliver it's a simple matter of dispatching the villain, but Diggle intercepts and turns away the vigilante at his target's place of business, a private security firm named Blackhawk Squadron.
Later, while Oliver is sure that Gaynor is crooked (thanks to an as yet undisclosed message from his late father of the list's veracity that somehow didn't happen on the island) Diggle struggles to find proof that his old comrade in arms is still on the straight and narrow. With the help of Felicity Smoak and a stolen, encrypted flash drive, Oliver is able to prove at least some of Blackhawk Squadron is involved in the robberies. Diggle's own hands-on investigation uncovers that it is Gaynor behind the robberies and he has kidnapped John's sister-in-law to blackmail him into aiding them in the final theft.
Diggle ultimately fails to play along and attacks his former commanding officer and his team, aided by Oliver. In the end, John is unable to pull the trigger on his old comrade, even in self-defense and it is up to Oliver to kill Gaynor and save both his friend and his brother's widow in her first appearance outside her restaurant.
Elsewhere a seeming reconciliation between Tommy Merlyn and his father turns dark as the elder Merlyn attempts to get his son to sign over his long-ago murder's mother's free clinic to him, causing Tommy to throw his father's casual cruelty in his face and admit some of the details to Laurel of his mother's death, a possibly unsolved murder that literally drove Malcolm Merlyn away from his son for years and potentially into a life of crime.
Birthday girl Thea witnesses her mother Moria's interactions/ransom negotiations with Malcolm and suggests infidelity, which she confirmed happened on occasion on both sides of in her former marriage to Oliver and Thea's father. When Malcolm and Moria meet again at Thea's party, the youngest Queen gets high on the party drug Vertigo, crashes her new car and is arrested for DUI.
In the flashbacks to Purgatory Island, the now disguised Oliver infiltrates the mercenary camp, thanks to a custom of constant balaclava wearing, and passes on a hot meal for the chance to rescue his ally Yao Fei. After apparently narrowly passing a test by Edward Fyers on the ride over to the bamboo prison, Oliver's eyes betray him to Fyers (who enforces the constant balaclava wearing rule as a way to judge his goon's characters). Later he awakens handcuffed inside a tiger cage where Fyers reveals that Yao Fei had been working for him the whole time.
Back Panel Notes
-The name, colors and logo for Squadron was taken from The Blackhawks, a squadron of pilots from different Nazi-conquered nations that fought back against the Third Reich in the pages of DC Comics.
-A US Marine named Ted Gaynor fought alongside the Blackhawks in the comics before turning bad.
-One member of the Blackhawk Squadron pulls Ted away from dinner at Big Belly Burger for a transportation job at the “Chaykin Gallery.” Howard Chaykin is a prolific comic book writer and artist who both wrote and drew a Blackhawks mini-series in the 1980s.
-Diggle refers to Oliver's base as “The Arrow Cave,” which existed in the early years of the character and was the source of green stones for heads of the hero's arrows.
-The drug Vertigo shares its name with the comic book villain Count Vertigo who had the power to make people dizzy that was innate or the result of a secret technology. Remember kids: drugs are bad and besides, spinning around in place is free. The next episode will feature a version of the character.
Ultimate Spider-Man, “The Lizard”/”Electro”Season two of Ultimate Spider-Man kicks off with back to back new episodes that bring a pair of classic Spider-Man villains into this show’s Marvel Cinematic Universe-flavored reality. After some customary, fourth-wall breaking recap-age of the new status quo; the SHIELD Heli-Carrier/HQ has crashed, therefore Power Man, Iron Fist, White Tiger and Nova (who are apparently all orphans), are living with Peter and Aunt May, Spider-Man and his Neo-Amazing Friends run Doctor Octopus out of one his secret warehouse labs.
SHIELD, in the personage of Nick Fury and Agent Coulson arrive late to help clean up, and in tow is Dr. Curt Connors, despite being down one arm following the events of the first season finale is enthusiastic to experiment with Doctor Octopus’s collection of animal mutagens right then and there. After a comical interlude where Peter chafes at having so many houseguests all a sudden, returns to Dr. Connors and quickly triggers a booby trap that would have proved fatal if an enthusiastic-to-do-so-anyway Dr. Connors hasn’t injected himself with lizard DNA and quickly grew a giant reptile arm to save the web-slinger.
In short order Dr. Connors’ enthusiasm to embark on his own super-heroic career with Spider-Man devolves into a desire for more of the transformation formula as his full-body transformation into The Lizard completes itself. The Lizard ‘tongue-smells’ his way to another secret Doctor Octopus lab where the villain remarks with mocking fascination how his formula has healed and empowered the SHIELD scientist but at the cost of his intellect.
To protect his friend, Spider-Man must temporarily team up with his enemy long enough to be betrayed by him, have his friends arrive to provide a distraction and finally create a formula that will change The Lizard back to Dr. Connors, at least temporarily, as it’s hinted.
In the second half, we start again mid-battle as Spider-Man takes on electricity-wielding Electro, who as the hero describes as a “second-rate” villain that he battled often during the year he operated as solo hero before joining SHIELD. Defeating (and apparently obliterating) him with his new ‘tazer webs’ while he was against the Daily Bugle Jumbotron, Peter returns home to his newly expanded family who are all to a number, including the non-materialistic Iron Fist, engrossed in their own electronic gadgets.
When the power suddenly goes out city-wide, even for devices running on batteries, it turns out that Electro has been transformed into a being of pure energy and is slowly learning how to use his new powers to commit larger and larger crimes while turning the city against Spider-Man for ‘causing’ the blackout. The team’s journey back downtown to confront him is complicated first by their lack of vehicular locomotion (the Spider-Cycle won’t start) or anyone save Nova able to move faster than footspeed (as Spider-Man’s SHIELD-issued webslingers are electrically powered) and then by the appearance of Batroc the Leaper, who lays a beating on the team to hammer home the point that they are letting their once figurative and not literal disconnectedness get in the way of their teamwork.
After returning to the city and tangling with some vehicles possessed Maximum Overdrive style by Electro “2.0,” the team notices that more that the villain splits himself to control more things, the more unstable he gets, they goad the still-small time thinking bad guy to attempt world domination via J. Jonah Jameson’s new satellite network.
Some glitching and punching later, Electro is expunged from the power grid and back to his human form where he (and soon after Bartoc) are defeated. The team then retreats home for some bonding in meatspace.
Back Panel Notes
-The 80's cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends gets a pair of callbacks with an eerily accurate audio and visual cutaway featuring alternately The Lizard and Doctor Octopus in place of Iceman and Firestar.
-Stan Lee pipes up just once in two episodes during an 8-bit style chase scene during ”The Lizard”.
-Looks like Doctor Octopus stole Tony Stark’s holographic 3D workstation from the first Iron Man movie for his genetics lab.
-Spider-Man laments that his old webshooters would still be useable in a powered-down city. Originally, his webshooters were little more than high-powered aerosol spray nozzles operated by a lever on his palm and didn't need any electrical power to operate.
-During “Electro” The Daily Bugle's news crawl informs us that the X-Man Storm had no comment about the lighting in Manhattan that night, and that the embodiment of Death is opening a cupcake bakery in the city, hinting perhaps that that is the reason that potential Avengers 2 villain Thanos (who has a serious crush on Death) comes to Earth.
Young Justice, “True Colors”Clearly going to her Bachelor’s Degree in Super-Science, a further-reduced in size Bumblebee accompanies the Ray Palmer Atom into Jaime Reyes' bloodstream in the early minutes of this weeks new episode in an effort to remove his Scarab, only to be rebuffed by its alien defense/repair mechanism. It appears that only death will free Jaime from the Scarab, which might trigger the end of the world they are trying to avoid in the first place.
That night it's up to G. Gordon Godfry to inadvertently setup that night's mission as Nightwing sends Blue Beetle, Impulse and fresh recruit Arsenal (aka, the 'real' Roy Harper) under the field command of Robin to a Lexcorp farm/lab in Smallville, Kansas that has partnered with The Reach to 'improve' its produce/productivity. Smallville means The Kents, and Pa himself makes an appearance that turns out to be less of a cameo and possibly more as cover for the young team.
Elsewhere, complicated family drama inspires discord among The Light as Sportsmaster demands justice, Old Testament-style, on Aqualad for Artemis’ apparent death. Not willing to play along, The Light reveals their new enforcer, Deathstroke, to chase Sportsmaster off. The deadly athletic equipment enthusiast, his honor-code satisfied declares to his other daughter Cheshire that he's free to seek revenge on his own terms now, setting him up as a wild card. Surviving his attack, Black Manta retreats inside their Mongolian base, where Vandal Savage has brought in Psimon to attempt to restore Aqualad, a move that has to potential of blow his cover.
Back at the farm and after hiding until dark in the men's room, Robin's team successfully extract a sample of The Reach's additive, thanks to some their leader's Bat-stealth skills. On the way out on the other hand Arsenal’s anger issues get the better of him and he literally blows the teams cover, attracting the attention of Lex (who knew they were there anyway) and Black Beetle, who proceeds to lay the hurting on a team of greatly lesser strength than what faced him at the underwater base.
Despite how well Arsenal’s multiple weapon platform arm was performing, with Blue Beetle too scared to let the Scarab take over again, the team is only saved by the arrival and first appearance of the Green Beetle, who's power set Robin quickly determines is a combination of Reach technology and Martian physiology. With his help, Blue Beetle is able to stun Black Beetle long enough for the team to escape to the Kent farm, where the new hero reveals himself to be a friend of the Marian Manhunter who was able to take total control of his Scarab thanks to his shapeshifting.
In the end Lex and Vandal are unconcerned about the hero's activities, as their “Reach” fruit drink is ready to ship world-wide, but are still impressed by their effectiveness and propose recruiting some of The Reach kidnap victims, including the potential Static, Longshadow and others (Wonder Twins!?!) to form their own 'Young Injustice Gang.'
Back Panel Notes
-Bumblebee and The Atom are assisted in their operation by a Doctor Cross. Pieter Cross would become the third Doctor Mid-Night after a failed attempt on his life left him with the ability to see in the dark. For Dr. Cross, pure superheroics would take a backseat to his medical knowledge, as he would become the premier expert in meta-human medicine in the classic DC Universe. The lights being on in this episode indicates that these events haven't yet happened.
-Lexcorp being a presence in Smallville dates back even further than the Smallville TV series, a retcon of Lex's origin from the early 1960s has a young Lex living in the town where an accident and a semi-botched rescue by Superboy costs Lex his work (and his hair, explaining the baldness) earning the young hero some eternal enmity.
-G. Gordon Godfrey uses a picture of the DCAU Justice League logo in his tirade.
-Vandal Savage attempt empathy with Black Manta by describing the trouble he has with his own offspring, likely fan-favorite anti-villain and Secret Six founder Scandal Savage.
-Black Beetle's face was never revealed in the comics, but here he's shown to be a member of the rather blank-looking Reach species.
Green Lantern: The Animated Series, “Prisoner of Sinestro”For almost every fan of the Green Lantern mythos (New 52 run somewhat excluded) Thaal Sinestro has been a 'bad guy' for so long it's hard to believe that he was ever considered a hero, let alone the “greatest of all Green Lanterns,” (and that's leaving aside the idea that he looks like a devil out of a 14th century illuminated manuscript, his name is even Sinestro, like sinister!). His introductory GL:TAS episode however manages to at least sell that tricky idea of him as a hero by first making him one of our stalwart protagonist, Hal Jordan.
Back together after their adventure on Odym, Hal's team is on the hunt for the Anti-Monitor when they get a distress call from Sinestro, who's raided a Spider Guild base for a prisoner wanted on Oa in another of his gusty, rule-breaking moves that makes him Hal's idol.
After a Star Wars-like trench sequence (though not even an Empire that is silly enough to leave their exhaust ports unshielded puts AA guns on the inside of their ship), Sinestro brings his prisoner aboard the Interceptor, one so dangerous that the Spider Guild apparently self-destruct their craft rather than risk letting it get loose.
Not long after Sinestro dresses down Hal's team for their apparent lax attitude and the fact that there is a Red Lantern in their presence, he opens fire on them with a confiscated Spider Guild weapon. After restraining Sinestro and taking his ring, it's not long until other shipmates start acting out of character, starting with a rather forward-acting-toward-Aya Razer. Later, Razer is unaware of the incident, but his standoffish attitude towards her previously means no advancement in the “Razya” subplot.
Hal and Sinestro both independently determine that the alien brought aboard is a mind-jumper, and while Hal ponders a way to use the fact that a possessed Lantern can't fire up his ring, Sinestro starts to void the ship's atmosphere, exposing Razer as being possessed, but almost killing him in the process. Hal good-cop promises the alien no harm if it returns to its own body and though bad-cop Sinestro agrees to this, it's revealed that he leaked the holding cells' air as well, killing the prisoner by 'accident.' Maverick space-cop Sinestro is quick to dismiss the whole incident, but Hal remains troubled.
Back Panel Notes
-Best Construct Award: Hal blows off Kilowog's threat assessment checklist with a game of green Solitaire and shortly offers dialog that suggests that a GL ring would be the greatest iDevice in history, except for the whole 'everything is green' thing.
-Hal gushed fanboy-style about Sinestro's role in the Battle Of Khund. The Khunds are a race of aliens in the classic 'aggressive, war-like' mold that antagonized the Legion of Super-Heroes in DC's 31st Century.
-Stripped of his ring, Sinestro's civilian garb is purple and black, the colors he wore in the decades intervening his expulsion from the Green Lanterns and the founding of the Sinestro Corps.