Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hooper Reviews Heroes: Fugitives - Episode 4

Heroes Season 3
Volume Four: Fugitives

Episode Four: "Cold Wars"

What Happened:
You've waited for answers. And for about a third of this "volume's" story, we got them last night. Unlike other weeks, I can be very brief here because the episode was so tightly focused. There was no ensemble-cast wanderings, like we've had since the volume's opener. Let's begin.

HRG, kicked out of his house after admitting to still being an "agent" of sorts, goes to the hotel bar to have a drink. It is spike with barbitol, obtained by Nurse Peter and somehow secretly administered (did Parkman mentally coerce the barmaid to add it?). They drag him off to their room, keep him drugged up and Parkman begins to "interrogate" him, i.e. push through his memories to see what he knows about this new government round-up program, who organized it and what potential weaknesses there might be.

The Hunter and Nathan notice HRG's absence.

In a series of black and white flashbacks, Parkman uncovers some of HRG's recent past:

*Angela gave him a "retirement" package (plus watch) from the Company and told him to go live a normal life.
*Idly doing crosswords, he approached by Nathan to help form this new government "Company" to round up those with powers and safely contain them on the way to stripping away said powers. HRG says yes, demanding some ground rules be laid down first. He also shows Nathan his "Public Storage" room filled with boxes of data and a big black cased packed with guns, ammo and grenades.
*HRG and the Hunter, upon meeting, are oil and water. The Company's "one of us, one of them" maxim is abandoned for "twelve of us...and none of them." Overwhelming force.
*HRG even goes to the Hunter's apartment (showing he does his research) for a male bonding session that really doesn't go well. No fighting, but you can see these alpha males are headed for a showdown.
*In a twist, we see that Suresh was approached by HRG to be an agent of his, an undercover power to help counteract whatever the gov't decides to do. Suresh refuses.
*When faced with a gun, HRG lets Matt into his mind one last time to prove that Daphne is still alive, but drugged up and wounded.

Now, while we are learning that HRG is a mover and shaker, though not the power behind the black-clad commandos, the Hunter has been trying to locate his wayward agent. After seeing the bit about the public storage unit, Parkman jots down the location and lock combo; Peter takes it and flies over to it. Of course, there is a camera in that unit and the commandos close in. Peter snags a few guns and grenades (smoke, flash, etc.) and flies away.

After Parkman discovers Suresh knew something was afoot, he attacks him (a fight he can't win easily) and in the confusion, HRG escapes. He doesn't make it far, as Peter lands on the car he's trying to hotwire. Parkman sends Peter to the Hunter's apartment, where the two have a tense stand-off (lopsided, as only Peter has a gun). Nathan risks exposure and flies over, defusing the situation and letting Peter escape. This reiterates the point the Hunter has been making: Nathan, with his powered brother and daughter, is too compromised.

With the commandos closing in, Suresh offers to divert their attention, shortly after they find out about Daphne. Suresh knocks some soldiers around, but gets tagged by about eight or nine electro-rounds and the commandos still snag Parkman. HRG escorts him out and, once in the open, Peter swoops in and snatches him from their midst.

The Hunter tells HRG to take some time off, but this situation has galvanized HRG and he says he is not torn anymore between loyalties and will Do What It Takes. He later meets with Angela and we discover he's a double-agent, gaining Nathan's confidence while having an ulterior motive. When told by Angela that he'll have to make some hard choices to "prove" his loyalty to the Hunter & crew, HRG replies, "I've always been comfortable with morally grey."

In Building 26, Natahn approaches Suresh and asks for his help...or else the government won't just contain and seek to strip the powers away, but kill on site.

In NYC, Parkman finishes a furious bout of painting and wonders why, why! he's cursed to paint this. He and Peter look down at the big picture on the floor, the centerpiece of all Parkman's prophetic doodles: a nuclear bomb erupting in Washington, D.C.

To be continued next week in "Exposed."

In Characters Development:

Nothing this week with Hiro, Ando, Tracy, Sylar, Luke, Alex or Claire. Here are some quick thoughts on the others.

Matt Parkman - his orderly, police-trained mind is now showing the strains of his run from the law and seeing his love gunned down. He is out for revenge and is letting it cloud his judgement. It's a human reaction, though I'll say Greg here doesn't quite play it as well as he could. Hm. I think he needs to start thinking like a cop again. When Daphne is rescued and his desire to kill fades, especially as he starts to realize what he saw in HRG's head can be interpreted differently than "pure evil" based on his actions, I think his character will rebound into the "likable" column.

Suresh - he is wracked with guilt over killing people (vol 3., Villains) and just being a jerk overall. In fact, he probably carries a degree of guilt for those he let Sylar kill, unknowingly. So now he seeks redemption, and the sacrifice to let Peter and Parkman escape is just the beginning. Will he become Nathan's "pet special" and superscientist? What damage will he inadvertently cause this time?

Peter Petrelli - a soldier in this episode, and still a bit headstrong, I think he's taking more ownership of his powers and their responsibility, understanding that making a decision requires thought and care and that wanton revenge is not the right way (or else he'd have killed the Hunter).

Nathan Petrelli - conflicted over what he's doing and worried about the beast he's unleashed (the Hunter), perhaps after three seasons of "greater good" talk and always falling in with the smooth-talking bad guys he'll finally see the light.

The Hunter - he knew there were heroes before joining Nathan's little initiative. What more do we need to know? Who had powers in his past (see "Rev. Stryker" in God Loves, Man Kills)?

HRG (Noah Bennett) - playing the undercover hero, the spy who'll never get all the credit he deserves, the "Company Man" will most certainly play a key role to undermining and dismantling what the Hunter is doing. We see his humanity numerous times in the flashbacks, as he stresses these are people they are hunting, not animals. They can be an asset, many can be good. Remember, not all were locked up at PrimaTech, only the most dangerous. Tag the quiet ones, watch them and make sure no one goes "boom." But those tactics did prove flawed as more heroes started popping up. Perhaps he'll work for integration or some sort of mass-hiding to protect these "special" people.

Daphne - Not dead.


This episode moved. More importantly, it moved in the right direction, highlighting good characters (HRG, the Hunter, Parkman) who had dynamic stories to tell. We need to have some episode that are predominantly action at this point, not just talking heads. Bryan Fuller's first episode is close at hand.

Looking Ahead:

I want Sylar to get to the end of his road trip and an actual resistance to be formed with Peter and Parkman at its head. Are you saying that between those two (and with Angela's shadow backing, bound to be made apparent to them) they can't 1) get a hideout, 2) gather more heroes and 3) counter-attack? Come on!

Heroes: Fugitives
Episode One: "A Clear and Present Danger"
Episode Two: "Trust and Blood"

Episode Three: "Building 26"


Read on, faithful few!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Buck Reviews 24: Day 7, 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

A bit of action to kick things off, then things get personal as we close the case on Dubaku and move on to the next threat facing our nation's capital.

* Was it any surprise that Erica was in on Sean being THE MOLE?
* Jack has apparently taken the John McClane Driving Tutorial, as he goes off-road through a park to catch up with Dubaku. When was the last time this show had a good chase scene? I'm thinking Season 3 when Jack and Chase were trying to catch Saunders' last operative.
* I had a whole thing about Dubaku being a smooth talker and convincing Marika to go to Sangala with him. Then she did the whole "try to kill the driver and flip the jeep in the process" bit. Looks like she didn't buy what he was selling.
* So the Sangala invasion already started? At least it appears successful thus far.
* Dubaku has a list of all the corrupt government officials...and it's implanted under his skin! Eew.
* Sean and Erica are going to crash the FBI mainframe to cover their tracks. Not if Chloe O'Brian has anything to say about it.
* BLAM! Erica takes one for the team. C'mon, who didn't see that coming?
* Well, I guess the server wipe did work. And Sean's BS story about Erica being behind it all seems to have worked for now. Don't be that stupid, Larry...
* ...and he's not! Larry nails Sean to the wall as he tries to slink away. Good show, Agent Moss.
* President Taylor and her daughter Olivia are talking, at least. I like that just because Henry's in the hospital, it doesn't immediately clear up all the bad blood between Taylor and Olivia. That would be way too saccharine for this show.
* Renee and Jack have a verbal throwdown at the hospital. They're either going to end this day in love or in a deathmatch. Either way, should be fun.
* As the sun sets, Tony meets up with Jack in front of the Capitol. He says he's gotten word of a new terrorist attack by General Juma himself. After a moment of pure bromance, they leave to go after one of the architects of the plan. It's the weasely guy who gave Dubaku his travel arrangements last week...and he's the chief of staff of Senator Mayer, who was grilling Jack as this day began. Interesting. We move to Act 2...

Probably the smoothest transition from "Stopping Threat #1" to "Reacting to Threat #2" since Season 1. Having brothers as the villains certainly helps. It makes sense that Juma would have contingencies, and that he'd immediately move them into action upon hearing of his brother's capture.

I'm also happy that we haven't had too much of Jack Gone Rogue this time around. It's been done to death. I like how he has government support now, they just don't entirely trust him. Just the way it should be.

The dawning of this new threat means we should be seeing Jon Voight's character (whom we haven't seen since Redemption) popping up soon.

Read on, faithful few!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hooper Reviews Heroes: Fugitives - Episode 3

Heroes Season 3
Volume Four: Fugitives

Episode Three: "Building 26"

What Happened:

Not much. An aside: Bryan Fuller, a creative force behind the show's first season, returned with "Fugitives" after it became apparent that his ABC wundershow "Pushing Daisies" was dead (hi-ohhh!). Responsible for the stellar "Company Man" episode about HRG's past, many say his return marks the show's return to good storytelling. Alas, we're not there yet.

This week, Claire is pissy with HRG, her mom and life. At breakfast, she gets a "Rebel" text. HRG now claims to be a "consultant" and he reminds Claire that the last time his real career was known to his wife, she almost died (so pipe down, blondie). She gets a "Rebel" text telling her to warn "Alex" that danger's on its way. Sylar continues his road trip with Luke "Hotplate Kid" Campbell and the boy has fun, testing Sylar's lie detector power and getting Peter Pan to admit he's a serial killer. They stop for lunch.

Back in...India?, Ando and Hiro find a random wedding they are supposed to interfere with (did I miss something specific about their target in that painting?) and Hiro determines to stop the wedding/save the bride from the marriage. In related news, Ando glimpses a familiar looking woman, follows her and they talk. She admits that the wedding isn't her idea of a good time, but she wanted a sign not to go through with it. Ando then uses his sparky red powers to convince said bride that he is a sign from above that she's not to get married. Hiro (and the fiancee) are (separately) PO'ed. Fiancee knocks Ando on the head, absconds with him and demands the wedding go forward.

In Washington, D.C., specifically Building 26, the Hunter uses several large boards to map out the various heroes (by power or just at random?) and we see little pictures of far more than we've been introduced to. Hunter derides Nathan, who then slaps back and gives a pep talk ("I'm requesting our budget be doubled."). Guest-star Moira Kelly, last seen in 1992's The Cutting Edge, rolls in, says she's with the Department of Homeland Security and all this black-ops nonsense needs to be justified. And the illegally detained US citizens on US soil? Trouble, Sen. Petrelli.

Clair manages to track down Alex, and he turns out to be a comic book store employee (thin, though with glasses) who can breathe underwater. He is doubtful of her warning, but after a healing demonstration, he believes. They dodge HRG, black-clad goons (during which he opens up about his power) and she hides him in her closet.

Back at Building 26, Cutting Edge tells Nathan the gig is up; powers just aren't real. As if destiny were itching to prove her wrong, Tracy at that moment breaks the chain holding her, escapes her cell and its heat lamps, and takes an analyst hostage. With guns trained on her, and both Cutting Edge and Nathan watching, Tracy freezes the analyst and shatters him, looking an awful lot like angry "Jessica." Tasered, she is returned to her cell where she tells Nathan it was awfully convenient her door was unlocked and the chain was loose. He pretends not to understand...or does he? After Cutting Edge agrees with Nathan that yes, powers are real and he's got all the funding he needs, Nathan confronts the Hunter, giving him the analyst's name and family story. Wife, two kids. So the Hunter knows what his "demonstration" cost, as he obviously engineered Tracy's escape attempt, for the "greater good." Casualties of war, and what not, he claims. Tensions rise.

On a roadside diner, Sylar and Luke chit chat about stuff, the past. Samson Gray went fishing with Luke, trucking along a red wagon, treating him like a son and even admitting that he'd sold Sylar to his brother Martin for money. Sylar reaches back and remembers that red wagon, being pulled in it. Not the monster his traveling companion is, Luke writes down the location of Samson's hideaway, casually hoping Sylar won't kill him. As they bond, some suits enter the diner and it's apparent the Hunter's men have acquired their target again. In another well-staged fight, Sylar defeats the suits, an undercover agent and some commandos. Luke pretends at first to be an abductee, but only to distract the undercover agent so Sylar can TK him across the restaurant. Sylar flees, locking Luke (who then gets tasered) out of the car. Ah, but he returns a short time later and messes up the van-full of commandos, stealing their hard case laptop...and Luke. The obvious question (that Luke then poses, once conscious) is why Sylar rescued him. Why indeed....

The wedding back on in India, Hiro now takes the opportunity to interfere, claiming the bride is being forced to marry and his Ando is being held hostage by the groom. The groom protests; the bride agrees this traditional marriage isn't for her, as she catches the eye of a eager gal in the back row. The groom threatens, but Hiro grabs a novelty/decorative sword and takes a stand (bringing Parkman's painting of Hiro to life...which in no way looked like a wedding on my TV. Just saying). Seeing defeat, the groom relents, leaves and Ando is freed. Hiro understands the powers don't make the hero; the person does.

After hiding Alex, Claire talks to her mom and can't take the lies, telling her that HRG's new "consulting" job is a bit more secret police-oriented than first described. Stopping by her bedroom, HRG gets teary and says the Mrs. wants him to move out for now. For the best, right, Claire-bear? She gets weepy, they hug and he leaves. "Aqualad" is seen in her closet.

HRG heads to a hotel and has a few drinks, getting far tipsier than anticipated. He collapses and his buddies offer to take him home. Parkman, Peter and Suresh prop him up and exit stage left.

To be continued next week in "Cold Wars."

In Character Development...:

First off, nothing happens on screen with Angela, Suresh, Parkman or Peter. Next week, for the latter three. Daphne is still dead.

Claire & HRG (and Alex)
She's a whiny brat, and that needs to change. While going against her father has put her in the good graces of "Rebel," it keeps her character growth tamped down. Still the victim and unwilling (or unable) to make mature choices, she needs to be put on the back burner for a while. HRG just needs to pick a side and start the freaking fight. He's more dangerous than his fellow agents.

...and we needed an Aqualad?

Sylar & Luke Campbell
Cut the road trip junk and we'll be cooking with gas. As it is, the driving, reminiscent (as one reader said) of Season 2's South American extravaganza, gets old. Have at least some better adventure on the way. There was no "real" development with these two, though we were reminded that Luke isn't a wholesale devil like Sylar, has feelings and can sympathize.

Hiro & Ando
As I said, Hiro learns that powers aren't a requirement to consider yourself a "hero." Just standing up for what's right, the helpless, the distressed can do it. Ando, take note. It's been said that Ando's a better character than Hiro, as he isn't so dreamy and flighty, but there's a resentful streak running through him that doesn't allow for logical reasoning. Really, with either of them. They tend to leap to a conclusion and if it brings conflict, get upset like a dog that's knocked its ball under a couch.

You gonna get it, girlie. She never learns and will ideally be killed off, paving the way for Triplet the Third who, if all goes according to plan, will be a rounded character full of complexity. Instead of voicing her opinions to the gathered commandos, before she froze the analyst, she just makes a face and does the deed. No explanation. Seeing "Cutting Edge" in the back, knowing her escape was a set-up, what not come out and say that?


A slow, uneventful week. Do you have something?

*The writers won't be the same in a few weeks as they are now, and the hope is that the new blood (Fuller) takes out some of the artificial roadblocks to good storytelling. You don't have to keep Sylar away from the other heroes, but if you do, is road tripping with a sidekick the best route? Better to have him find his dad earlier and let their story play out over more than a few episodes. Maybe...they talk! And argue without killing each other.

*Not shoe-horning in Parkman, Suresh and Peter into this week's stories worked wonders. Honestly, not every episode needs to feature every character. The best old episodes left us guessing week on week what Character X was doing while Character Y narrowly escaped peril. Or learned of a new power.

*This week was called "Building 26" but it focused more on other people than the Hunter, Nathan and their crew. Shouldn't this have been look at who they are? A missed opportunity.

Looking Ahead:

*So...no John Glover/Samson Gray next week? Double drat.
*Daphne? I'll take a body, but I need to know.
*Will we get a bigger glimpse of that board? Lotta heroes on there...
*Does HRG really truly no-backsies choose a side next week?

Heroes: Fugitives
Episode One: "A Clear and Present Danger"
Episode Two: "Trust and Blood"


Read on, faithful few!

Buck Reviews 24: Day 7, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

An old favorite returns, the reveal of THE MOLE, and some really great tension. In short, this episode was what 24 does best.

• How awesome is President Taylor? I would have loved it if she’d actually driven herself to Henry’s hospital. The lady’s got moxie.

• Renee’s getting pretty good at the compartmentalizing I mentioned last week. She’s going to have a lot to answer for when this day’s over. Torturing Tanner, threatening Vossler’s family (even if it was merely a ruse).

• I love Morris driving Chloe to the FBI building with mini-O’Brian (Prescott!) in tow. Little bits like this make the show worth it. Who else wants to see a spin-off? 24: The O’Brians.

• Jealous Janis (Alliteration is fun, kids!) when Chloe arrives. There’s going to be a pissing contest in Techie Town (See?).

• Dubaku picks up his Escape America© package from a henchman. He and Juma certainly employ a lot of weasely individuals, don’t they?

• Ok, I’m laughing at myself now, but I totally didn’t see it coming when Jack and Renee came crashing through Waitress Girlfriend’s door.

• Jack asks Maria (Waitress Girlfriend) for a favor, promising she'll be all right. This is sort of like Jack asking you to jump off a building and try to fly.

• Chloe’s passive-aggressive reaction to how Moss set up the FBI’s computer systems is great.

• Ooh! Janis is locked out of certain systems and seems to be getting upset. Frustrated at the new Golden Tech Girl, or is she THE MOLE?

• Agent Pierce! My second favorite 24K supporting character (after Bill) returns to escort the First Daughter to the hospital where Henry is fighting for his life. There’s your next spin-off: Each week, Agent Pierce goes undercover to defeat villains around the world, bedding a different beautiful woman each night. 24: The Lives and Loves of Aaron Pierce. It also makes me wonder what other past cast favorites Bill will call up from the bench.

• Is it wrong that I giggled like an idiot at the “You’re a little bitch” back-and-forth between Janis and Sean?

• Jack and Renee are arrested by DC police after warrants for them pop up in the system (The work of THE MOLE!). The police cars coming out of nowhere to block their escape was a nice “What the hell?” moment.

• So Sean is THE MOLE! Actually, it’s kind of appropriate. Usually, a 24 mole is the person who hasn’t been acting all shifty and dickish. Give the writers credit for being up-front about it this time. But there’s still something off about Janis...

It was nice to see some of these seemingly unrelated side characters and plots coming into conflict with the main storylines. Granted, the long wait following Season 6 already made this season seem fresh, but I think we're going to consider Day 7 one of the best seasons of 24. I think this show follows the inverse of the "Star Trek film formula" (where the even-numbered installments were usually the best entries in the series). With 24, the odd-numbered seasons seem to be the favorites.


Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Buckshot: With deepest apologies to Alan Moore

(I can't take credit for the idea. I saw a version of this as a user icon on the CHUD forums. I just did my own with a better-quality pic.)


Read on, faithful few!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hooper Reviews Heroes: Fugitives - Episode 2

A week late and a dollar short, but here's the next review, all spit-polished for your enjoyment.

Heroes Season 3
Volume Four: Fugitives

Episode Two: "Trust and Blood"

What Happened:

The story is told in flashbacks, as Nathan talks on the phone to a mysterious, silent individual. He's at "Building 26" and it's forty-eight hours after the plane crash. Everything...didn't go according to plan.

Well, the plane crashed, and that could hardly have been on the flight itinerary. Anyway, the plane goes down and "some" of the heroes escaped. Commandos busy themselves hunting through the Arkansas woods and do a poor job. Clarie briefly tries to escape with Peter, but HRG steps in and says, Nuh uh, Claire-bear...but he lets Peter get away. Meanwhile, Ando's bummed that he can't get a plane ticket to Arkansas (a mythical place to his Japanese travel agent) when in a flash (ahem) Daphne jets over and whisks them both to the crash site. Parkman, Suresh, and Hiro link up, Parkman goes all Isaac-eyes and rushes into the woods where he demands drawing material. The other two get some clothes at the sedentary trailer/hill-folk dwelling they find while Parkman sketches some stuff out. Meanwhile, Tracy and Peter pull the old prisoner-running-this-way-as-distraction-while-other-prisoner-karate-chops-the-commando-on-the-back-of-the-head maneuver (the ol' PRTWADWOPKCTCOTBOTH Maneuver, as I learned it).

Meanwhile, a woman and her teenage son (Luke Campbell) pass the taxidermy shop, surrounded by ambulances and cop cars; she knew it would come to this, what with that nut living there. The boy, by the by, is dark-haired, morose and recently got in a fight at school. No dad in the picture. Upon entering there house they find the commando Sylar was questioning, duct-taped to a chair with screw drivers pinning his hands to the armrests. They freak, Sylar appears, TK's them into chairs and says he'll torture them to get the commando to talk. Ooo.

Back at the crash site, Daphne and Ando have arrived. Parkman, Suresh and Hiro look at Matt's drawings: one of Hiro & a blond (Claire?) in India; one of Daphne getting shot in the shoulder in front of the plane wreckage. The second has Matt nervous and he starts back to the crash site and the others reluctantly follow. Claire gets the third degree from HRG and Nathan, giving some fire back, too. Daphne and Ando, the sidekicks, meet up with Parkman, Suresh and Hiro. Daphne acts impulsively (hah! that's two!) and dashes into the camp to get Claire. And here's where things get bad.

While standing, for a moment, in a plain view of the every eye in and about the crash site, Daphne takes that fateful shot in the shoulder as a squad of commandos crests the ridge behind the group's hiding spot. She then takes another, and several more for good measure before collapsing in blood and dust. Claire leaps forward and gets shot, shrugs it off and gives her best Wolverine I'm-a-pissed-off-unkillable-psycho look while Parkman cradles Daphne's lifeless (?) body. Much happens in slo-mo. Parkman now looks up at the soldiers and concentrates, forcing the main shooter to kill his other fellows until he is killed by the main commander, the Hunter. The heroes (Suresh, Hiro, Ando, Parkman) run away as Claire struggles to heal. Hunter takes Claire captive and threatens to put a bullet in the the back of her head, her Achilles' heal, but Nathan steps in, giving her to HRG to ferry back home. HRG promises to her he'll not be such a jerk to her friends. Claire returns to Costa Verde and gets a text message from "Rebel," who promises revolution against Nathan's people.

Tracy, after calling Nathan and promising Peter in exchange for her life, and Peter meet up later that night with Nathan...who did not come alone as promised. Peter holds Nathan at gunpoint, HRG and Hunter have their sights on him but HRG claims he "doesn't have the shot" (that's for you, Claire-bear). Peter flies away; Tracy is captured and taken to Building 26 where she's bound and drugged. For the greater good. Peter finds the other guy heroes and they plot to save their friends and counterattack.

Back to Sylar. He starts to choke the mother after the commando lies, claiming Luke wants it anyway, that they are hindrances to each other, basically putting all his own angst on the kid. Surprising us all (or, not at all), the kid has powers! He uses them to boil and burst the cup of coffee in Sylar's hand. He and Sylar have a pow-wow in the other room while the mother recuperates and the commando frees himself. But, Luke sees disaster (for who?) and microwave blasts the commando in the chest (the effect is like air rippling above a hot road), killing him. Sylar agrees to take Luke with him after the boy says he knows where Samson Gray, the taxidermist, lives. The head off in the Campbells' car.

We find out that Nathan's been telling the story over the phone to his mom, Angela, and she will not absolve him of any guilt over the tragic events. She will have no part of it and hangs up as she looks over the files she has of the Hunter...and others.

To be continued next week in "Building 26."

In Character Development...:

Peter and Nathan
Aside from reiterating that Nathan's a jackhole, there's not much on him. He is protecting Claire, but he's not learning from his mistakes. The "greater good" spiel might've worked circa Season 1, but characters grow. I guess not enough.

Peter, on the other hand, has grown. Showing determined leadership and realizing not all will turn out right with the world, he's made the decision to be forceful. Making a decision in general is big, but to take the lead and not appear wishy-washy floppy-haired Peter is a grand development. The power limitation also forces him to be practical where he's been spacey and relied on a bevy of crutches in the past.

She screwed. Politicking doesn't get you out of "heroes" Guantanamo, where/whatever that might be. Betraying Peter (or was it Nathan?), constant hedging, ignoring moral choice - these don't help in this fictional world. Good or bad, you have to come down on a side.

Suresh, Parkman and Daphne
So Daphne maybe dies; no body bag is seen. If she is worm-food, not great loss...except her power and what she does for Parkman (happiness). Speaking of, Parkman takes a big leap forward this episode by actively using his power in a combat situation. It's not the psychic knives or brain blast many of us (X-Men) fans desired, but "commandeering" still works. The psychic/seer stuff might get old fast; hopefully, he just gets flashes of insight and not full-fledged plot foreshadowing (ala Isaac Mendez). Suresh runs around.

Hiro and Ando
Not entirely a hero yet, Ando follows Daphne, another sidekick, and avoids death. Is he seeing what it takes to be a hero and, therefore, how best to use his abilities? In combat, I'd imagine his boosting would make Parkman an engine of mental destruction or Suresh a Bombay Hulk. The learning curve Hiro discovered in the first and second seasons plays out again, but with Ando.

Not one to sit by and not complain, Hiro laments his loss of power and says he needs to be a hero again. Parkman's painting supports that theory. Ideally, if he is to get his power back, it'll be an added bonus of heroism, not the direct benefit. Get a sword.

Claire and HRG
She's a victim who wants to take action against her abusers. HRG is a good solider with a conscience. See previous seasons. It's not that I don't like their characters (he is still my favorite), but until Claire realizes she's not Invincigirl all duded-up with the martial ability to combat evil, her story will be repetitive. Perhaps - and this goes against contact, popularity and wisdom - she needs to sit out half a season or so. Rest the character, save the plot.

What to do with the Company Man? I like his moral quandaries, but I think he's had enough now to realize that "fighting from the inside" doesn't work. Instead of derailing the Hunter by not killing Peter or keeping Claire free, maybe he should be in the field terrorizing this new fascist black-ops commando unit. Give him the Invisible Man, the Haitian and a few other "acquaintances;" I'm sure his hero team would boost the ratings.

Sylar (and Luke Campbell)
Of all the characters, Sylar is moving forward. By giving him a Maltese Falcon/MacGuffin (in the guise of his biological father) to hunt, we can see him interact with people differently than if he was on a killing spree. Already he has a sidekick, the mentally unwell Luke Campbell. I smell future betrayal. Luke brings a new power to the fore, microwave emission, and a random character dynamic. Is he evil? Misguided? A normal teen rebelling? And what's his (blood?) relation to Sylar's father?


*Sylar plays Peter Pan, picks up a Lost Boy (Solar Lad? Hot Plate Boy?). Positive. The best part of Season 2 was the "team-up" between Beard-O Nathan and Parkman as they hunted the latter's father.

*Daphne goes the way of the dodo...or does she? Speedesters, in comics, are notorious for both dodging death and healing quickly. I don't count her out.

*HRG isn't a total bad guy, as we all knew. However, he's not interesting enough anymore. I want less "new company, same as the old company" and more "I do have a particular set of skills..." bad-assery.

*Peter's powers? Perfect for him. It forces him to make difficult choices, making him grow up at the same time. Limiting him to one-at-a-time also allows for less arguments of "Why doesn't he just go ballistic on these people with lightning, TK, ice, telepathic assault, etc.?!" when faced with conflict and impediments. I like this quite a lot.

*Claire needs to heal Hiro so he gets his powers back. Maybe Peter, too. Mandy (wife) seems to think this is the best course of action. Linderman's ability healed brain damage by the Haitian. Suresh's formula could give powers and gave Peter almost his original one. Adam Monroe's blood healed people not him.

*Parkman using his powers aggressively? Finally. Finally. Now he needs to use them for espionage.

Looking Ahead:

*Is Daphne Dead?
*Where is John Glover/Samson Gray?! How long will this be dragged on? Road trips are fun; fantasy-novel style Walking Without Destination less so.
*Does the Hunter have a power we don't know about?
*Does Tracy make a deal?

Heroes: Fugitives
Episode One - "A Clear and Present Danger"


Read on, faithful few!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hooper Reviews Heroes: Fugitives - Episode 1

If you haven't watched the previous two and a half seasons of Heroes, I can catch you up right quick.

Concept! Heroes walk among us, ordinary people with powers far beyond those of mortal Man. Some want to be left alone, others want to help the world while yet more desire power, control and to be feared. Periodically, they clash. Rarely do they stay dead.

Ok? Now to the first episode of the second half of Season 3 (also called vol. 4. Whew!):


I will be breaking the reviews up into four parts: the episode summary, main characters development/activity, my thoughts, and questions for next week. Please use the comments section to add your wild theories, because we all know you have them.

Heroes Season 3
Volume Four: Fugitives

Episode One: "A Clear and Present Danger"

What Happened:

When we left our heroes, they had scattered after taking down Arthur Petrelli's "villains" and destroying Pinehurst, a front company in reality founded to artificially develop "powers."

Several months pass.

Nathan, using his post, is planning on rounding up all those with abilities to protect the regular citizens. He starts the episode giving an interview that vaguely refers to his plans to help protect America. What he will do - remove their powers, imprison them, force them to train and work with the US gov't - is up in the air. As the episode progresses, we see his black-clad squads capture Tracy, Suresh, Hiro, Parkman, Claire and Peter. The only one they have trouble with is Sylar, now on the hunt for his biological father. After he seeks out "Martin Gray," his adoptive watchmaker deadbeat dad, he gets the address of the main Martin claims is his real dad. While there, the goons attempt - and spectacularly fail - to capture him. Then he starts "asking" some questions....

Taken to an airport hanger with other captured heroes, blindfolded and manacled, our protagonists are led onto a plane bound for parts unknown. Except for Claire. Nathan, her biological father, packs her away in a car and tells her to forget all of this. Of course, she doesn't. Instead, she knocks out the driver and sneaks aboard the plane.

In mid-flight, Claire unhooks the imprisoned heroes from some chemical nose-plug thing that obviously inhibits powers. Peter awakens, sees the situation, absorbs Suresh's strength and begins to fight the guards. Pandemonium ensues, causing him to get Tracy's cold touch, which he unfortunately uses on the tail end of the plane...now a gaping hole sucking out nameless people we don't care about. Claire goes to the cockpit and sees her father, HRG. "Claire?!" She looks stunned. The ground rushes up through the cockpit as they lose cabin pressure and control. The episode ends.


In character development...:

Here's what they did before they got on that plane (no, this isn't about LOST).

Peter & Nathan Petrelli
Peter Petrelli is an EMT now, his brother Nathan a powerful Senator on the Homeland Security committee; the death of their deranged father is behind them. Peter had his abilities stripped from him partway through the "Villains" arc but, using Suresh's super-serum, got them back...or did he? Unable to save the life of an accident victim, he laments to his co-worker that he could've saved him, if he had more power. Throughout the episode he runs into Claire, who warns him of Nathan, and Suresh; they just catch up before reminding each other to be careful. He also seeks out Nathan after Claire's warning, and confronts him not once, but twice (though, the second time, Nathan is in his apartment, waiting). The greater good is brought up, and each has clearly different views of what that really means. Nathan asks Peter, when they first meet at their mother's mansion, what powers he currently has. Flight, Peter replies, as he hasn't seen any of the other heroes since Pinehurst. When Nathan surprises Peter at the apartment, he maneuvers him into a trap and captures him with his chief "hunter's" help.

While Peter struggles to be a hero, Nathan has bullied his way into a very powerful post. He's giving interviews, talking about the greater good, the larger struggles against unseen threats. We know he means "heroes," but the average American can just think he's after terrorists. Good cover, because regular citizens would flip if they knew he was masterminding a program to round up all those with powers and shuttle them off to an undisclosed facility...for everyone's own good, of course. He defends himself and reiterates to his mother that Claire is to be kept away from the others and in the dark. There is a small part of him that cares for his daughter, even if he's never really been a father to her. When everyone is aboard the plane and it taxis for take-off and flies in to the night sky, he stares after it...regretting? Scheming? Mentally rubbing his hands together in evil glee? Or is it resignation, as he knows what he's done to these people is a violation of our freedoms, but in his "greater good" mentality these actions remain the best course to keep the country from ruin? Hm....

Tracy (triplet the second)
She's getting back in with the Governor of NY, or at least still has her political contacts to fall back on after being on the losing side in the PrimaTech heroes vs. the Pinehurst villains fight. The episode - in general - starts with Nathan giving an interview/stump speech about protecting America; Tracy watches while assuring NY's governor that she has no leash on him anymore, that he's climbing the ladder under his own steam. And then she gets taken. She is the first to be kidnapped, and here her attackers show their preparedness. As we know, she can freeze things by touch, and tries to do so when the first attacker closes in on her, grasping his arm and icing it up...but it thaws. Yes, they have built in to their uniforms some measure of "power repellent" against some of the easier-to-block abilities. She is still taken after they use a powerful taser device against her.

Mohinder Suresh
Suresh drives a cab again. After chatting with Peter, a gaunt man gets into his backseat, pulls a gun and tells him to drive. We see his face and it's Nathan's chief black-clad hunter. Driving to the top floor of a parking garage, Suresh stops the cab and finds himself facing a ring of goons with rifles and a waiting fan to whisk him away. The hunter tells him to get out, and he does...but he doesn't go quietly. Gripping his open door, he pulls it off the hinges and batters the chief hunter away (so they have armor on those suits; otherwise, he'd be pudding). He uses the door as a shield against the goons, who fire taser rounds (about the size of sidewalk chalk) ineffectively and with stormtrooper-quality aim, until reaching the downward ramp. Sprinting around the spiral ramp, he stops as...Noah Bennett (HRG) pulls up in his stylish black crossover SUV, urging him to get in now! To save himself! He does, foolishly (why does Suresh always make the wrong choices? He knows Bennett has frequently worked at odds to the heroes, both good and evil, to keep humanity safe from super-humanity). Bennett asks if he's been in contact with any other heroes, Bennett skids to a halt as gaunt hunter appears, Suresh gets confused and apologizing, Bennett tasers and delivers him to the goon squad.

Claire Bennett
Struggling with the mundane real world, Claire wants the action back. Something to keep her from being just another kid. Her biological grandmother, Angela Petrelli, pushes her to choose a college and therefore a normal life. Claire wants to hunt down Sylar, knowing that the "trips" her dad is always away at are related to special people. They have to be, in her mind. Angela tolerates her, at best, saying that Sylar is dead. End of discussion. Later, Claire picks up the phone and hears an agitated Angela talking to Nathan about the future abductions of Peter and Matt Parkman. Nathan tells Angela to keep Claire away from them. It is then that Angela looks up...and sees Claire on an extension.

So later, Claire tracks down Peter and warns him that Nathan's coming to get him. Being who he is, Peter believes her right away and goes off to confront Nathan. Claire, meanwhile, heads to Parkman's apartment. She knocks and they talk, but Matt's more interested in these drawings he's made (see below) that show he and Claire...looking at the drawings. Another shows something sticking out of Matt's neck. What is that, Claire asks. And then Matt is shot with an electro-tranq dart, commandos burst into the room and she's taken.

Hiro & Ando
Hiro, now without his powers since Arthur Petrelli stole/blocked them, is trying to make Ando (who still retains his artificially granted ability to augment others' power) a hero and instill in him a sense of responsibility. This...isn't working so well. Hiro has bought an old firehouse and has converted it to a sort of Ando-cave for his superheroing. To keep tabs on each other, he injects Ando with a GPS tracking device, saying he did the same to himself. Hiro even got an "Ando-cycle," complete with two-way communications to base. Ando is skeptical and views this as Hiro's attempt to live through Ando now that he's powerless. He leaves.

Later, Hiro tracks down Ando and calls him, demanding to know why he isn't saving the world or being a hero. But I am, Ando says. Then why are you in a strip club, Hiro replies. Ah, Ando. As they continue to bicker, Ando hears sounds of a struggle on Hiro's end and we see our pudgy protagonist carted off, unconscious, by the Hunter's commando squad. Ando races back to the firehouse and is able to track Hiro...to the US.

Matt Parkman and Daphne
They are trying to live normal lives, if their powers (and Daphne's impulsiveness) can let them. She's working and he's a security guard, but neither is really happy. But better being normal than in danger. It's while arguing about what they should be doing that Matt gets a vision of Usutu, the dead African seer. Daphne agrees to be normal, and heads out. Matt's turtle later escapes and in putting in back, he sees Usutu again who tells him he'll be a great prophet and gain the ability to draw/paint the future (like Isaac Mendez). And sure enough, his eyes get all cloudy and he begins to draw. And several hours later, Claire appears, they talk, get taken, etc. You've read that before.

HRG (Noah Bennett)

... is, as always, an enigma. He's working for Nathan, co-leading the round-up of heroes and yet...I don't believe it. See Suresh and Claire for his part in this episode.

Gabriel "Sylar" Gray
Oh, and Sylar, thought dead in the fiery demise of Pinehurst, is healed up and back in the game, searching for his biological father. Sylar tracks down his adoptive father, the watchmaker Martin Gray. At the watch repair shop, Martin pulls a shotgun on Sylar before realizing who he is. To our great surprise, he doesn't lie to Sylar and admits that he wasn't a good father and walked out because he couldn't stand Virginia, the snow globe collector; they should never have had a child together (small lie). No, Sylar's father is the watchmaker's brother, Martin explains after light (verbal) pressuring. The brother, Samson Gray (named later), needed money and gave his child to Martin and Virginia who wanted a kid but couldn't have one. Martin gives Sylar the address; there is no violence between these two, just some regret and resentment.

Going to the address given him, a taxidermy shop, Sylar enters and pokes around. A small picture of a young boy with black hair and glasses (little Gabriel "Sylar" Gray...?) is seen, as is a snow globe and a smoldering cigarette. Suddenly, one of the better action scenes of the series starts. The black-clad commando squad attempts to capture Sylar, shooting electro-darts in him, noosing his head and arms with those contraptions animal tamers use (metal noose at the end of a pole). To no avail. Using his telekinesis, he literally moves the house he's in, shaking everything, throwing his attackers all over the place (with a little electrical assist) until they're down for the count. One remains conscious. Shaking off the restraints, Sylar levitates him off the ground and informs him there will be a Q & A session following this beat-down.


*Sylar returned too early; I was hoping he'd sit out most of the season and come in towards the end as a repentant savior figure. Following his end-of-the-episode appearance, the next ep would detail where he'd been all season, what he'd learned, done, etc. But that was my fantasy version of the story. As is, I look forward to John Glover giving his impression of Father Knows Best to a bratty superpowered psychochild.

*I want HRG to be good. I think, at the core, he is. But to side with Nathan? Eh...I hope there are wheels within wheels.

*Suresh's super-strength in demonstration was terrific. In fact, the use of powers, the crack detainment squads, the action in general - big fan of all of that.

*I think the direction is better now than it was before. It's not as...average. The producers have realized this show needs a visual flair to match the storytelling and whoever is in the director's chair agrees. Technically superior to the last two "volumes."

*I don't know how Nathan would know about Ando having powers, as they weren't part of the same plot group at any point last "volume." So unless he shows himself off, I think he's clear to act.

*Forcing Peter to touch heroes to get their ability adds a degree of vulnerability to his character, instead of just passively absorbing them through proximity. That was a cop-out to make him this God-like hero.

Looking ahead:

*Looking forward to the plane crash and how they survive.
*Will HRG emerge more heroic after his fellow commandos/goons are knocked out in the crash?
*Where's Daphne? Did she dodge capture?
*Is Angela a plotter, maybe with something on the side with HRG?
*Do we meet John Glover/Samson Gray next episode? They can't get him in soon enough.

Until next week!


Read on, faithful few!

Buck Reviews 24: Day 7, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

I'm going to try something new this week. A briefer, bullet-point review that's less recap and more of my impressions and thoughts as I watched the episode. (Which I really enjoyed by the way. Probably my favorite since the premiere.)

• Jack looked immensely uncomfortable in the Oval Office. I thought that was pretty funny. Though we couldn’t see, I kept imagining he was wringing his hands.

• President Taylor made a pretty tough call this week, potentially at the cost of her husband's life: How can she give in to the terrorist demands when she’s willing to put other American lives in danger?

Possible best moment of the night #1: Taylor asks Jack how she can know where his loyalties lie (a valid question, given that he's currently under federal indictment). Jack silently seethes for a moment, then responds "With all due respect, Madame President...ask around." This would get best moment except when you stop and think about it, who's she supposed to ask? The two late President Palmers? Deceased CTU directors George Mason or Ryan Chappelle? Jack doesn't exactly have a full stable of character witnesses.

• Larry’s expression when he gets a phone call from the (seemingly) dead Renee was priceless.

• Jack wants to threaten Vossler’s (the Secret Service agent working with Gedge) family (but not hurt them) in order to find out where Henry Taylor is. Renee agrees a little too quickly.

Possible best moment of the night #2: Jack’s outburst to Larry and Renee. “When are you going to stop pretending that they’re playing by the rules?”

• Larry says the rules are what make us better. “Not today,” responds Jack. That’s the best moment of the night.

• Unless this whole Dubkau’s-sleeping-with-a-waitress subplot gives us an opportunity for Jack to torment someone else’s loved ones (It’s one of his hobbies!), what’s the point? The waitress’ sister knows Dubaku’s not who he says he is, so maybe this will bear fruit.

• Jack finds Vossler, T-bones his car with Larry's SUV, and nabs him. With Renee on the phone pretending to hurt his baby, he talks. There’s a struggle though, and Vossler pulls a knife. Jack ends up stabbing him in the gut. Even Renee seems skeptical when Jack claims self-defense (though that's how it looked). But honestly, at this point you wouldn't believe Jack's claim of self-defense either. It's not like he still has a lot of credibility.

• Bill and Kanin have prepared a Matobo decoy to fool Dubaku’s men while Jack and Renee try to rescue Henry. It doesn’t work, and ends all explosion-y.

• Violence! Glorious violence! As Jack and Renee storm the bodega where Henry was being held. They kill all of the terrorists, but one gets a shot off and tags Henry in the gut. Well that ain’t good. (Actually, I couldn't tell if the shot came in fact from Jack's gun. I wasn't paying the closest of attention at that moment and Jack had a pretty horrified expression on his face.)

So there you go. Another suspense-filled hour, with some good action and character scenes thrown in. I like that when the shit hits the fan, Jack is able to compartmentalize and ignore how crappy his life truly is, but in the quieter moments (the Oval Office, the meeting with Larry and Renee outside the Capitol) you can see the man's barely hanging on.

Thus ends the first third of our season. Can't wait to see what's next.


Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Buckshot: In Which I Get Cranky About Readership

Here's the deal. I've got notes for last night's episode of 24 that can be easily put together for a review. But I'm not sure it's worth my while anymore. Because I'm not sure anyone's even reading these reviews. We're 1/3 of the way through this season and not one of my reviews has seen a comment, be it positive or negative.

And it's not just the 24 posts; it's the blog in general. Hooper checks the site traffic like it's heroin and he's Amy Winehouse. He assures me we're getting moderate traffic and fresh pageviews. But what we're not getting is comments and feedback. Aside from the occasional post from jmc or anonymous visitors, the comments sections are mostly empty. There are 25 posts on the main page, and 12 comments total for those 25 posts. If you're enjoying what we're providing, you're not showing it.

So here's what I want from the readers. Give me some sign that you're enjoying the 24 reviews (And sorry, Dad, you don't count, because I already know you're reading them.). Or a sign that you're hating them. For that matter, did you enjoy the recent The Colorado Option bits of original fiction, and some of our recent reviews?

I just want something to indicate people are reading this stuff, period. Make it worth our while to continue.


Read on, faithful few!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Hooplah Reviews "Final Crisis"

Right off the bat (not "write off the Bat"), this series succeeds beyond it's immediate "crisis" predecessor, Infinite Crisis, and in the fullness of time will stand as one of the most articulate and well-realized comic book stories about stories.

Don't believe me? Let's look at this a bit closer.

Grant Morrison has been chomping at the bit to write Jack Kirby's myths-made-flesh, the New Gods, since he started in on mainstream DC heroes. His JLA run heavily featured their involvement, not only as members but as threats to humanity, the cosmos, reality, etc. Theirs was a story of never-ending battle, cyclically ending in calamity. First World becomes Second becomes Third cracks into Fourth and dies to give birth to glorious Fifth.

But what's important is the story. It changes over time from that of gods clashing to man deciding its destiny. The Fifth Age, ushered in over the trying times of Final Crisis, is the age of Man. Self-determination, to borrow from Woodrow Wilson.

So does FC do all that? Does it move past the normal Event tag into some grander space?

On the whole, yes.

Without talking down to us, Morrison has used the medium of the comic to pull back the layers of our heroes and their narratives. Their tales and myths, if you will. Deconstruction in comics isn't new, and has been a trend for the last two decades, but at the core of Morrison's heroes isn't self-loathing, doubt or regret. It's hope, optimism, the relentless pursuit of Good against all odds.

In the back-and-forth Buck and I had on this, he told me, "I guess my only beef is that it almost reads like an Elseworlds, because it didn't seem to change a whole lot in the grand scheme of things."

To a large degree, he is right. These heroes and villains were there before and they will be after. The city of Bludhaven (destroyed in Infinite Crisis) is still a war zone, of sorts. The teams still exist, though they might have a different roster. The Daily Planet globe still stands. No major heroes died, though it looks like the Hawks are back on the cosmic wheel, waiting to spin back off, reincarnated into new bodies. Batman was zapped millennia into the past where he's leaving clues to his whereabouts (I see a mini coming up next year!). Superman lives. Wonder Woman is back to being a hero. Mary Marvel was forcibly changed back to normal, and therefore has the potential not to be evil. Mr. Tawny is still sipping tea.

I think the reason it didn't change anything - well, aside from the world now acknowledging the Multiverse - was that it was meant to reinforce what we already knew. These heroes never give up. It doesn't matter if they die - death won't keep them from at least trying. They are amazing forces for good, as I've said. Their "story" supersedes all others, all negative strains, all doomsday plots and schemes and devices.

That's what the two-issue tie-in Superman Beyond was about, to a large degree - the "good will always triumph" story dominating whatever evil is thrown at it. Likewise, the same with Final Crisis.

But there is change at the end of it.

Batman picked up a gun...and used it. Shouldn't that be some banner event? His demise was a sacrifice, but not an end. Still, he shot the Darkseid-possessed Dan Turpin. He didn't shoot to kill Turpin, but fatally wounded the essence of Darkseid.

The New Gods are back, as is the pre-Crisis Multiverse. In this, Morrison is (perhaps) saying there shouldn't be limits on these stories. Why say "one Earth," "52 parallel Earths," "x-dimensions of the Snowflake," etc.? The Power of Story (and the wild potential of comics) bursts from such constraints.

To be critical for a moment, Morrison did play this a little close to the crazy vest. Plotting it linearly for six issues (there's nothing awry with any of that structure; if you can't grasp it, go back to Archie), he diverges into the scattershot narratives upon narratives form that confused many in #7. Time has no meaning until it's all hashed out, the heroes have won and the rebuilding started. Unless you accept the conceit he laid out previously - time is collapsing in itself as result of Darkseid's fall/higher-dimensional death and has no meaning on Earth in the classic sense - the last issue is a confusing mix that cannot be followed, much less understood. Were I him, and aware as he is that not all comic book readers want to put in a great deal of effort for the big Event comics, I'd've made this slightly more coherent for the casual reader.

As it stands, that hurt the read-through only slightly. This is a story about ideas (and ideas about story); what impact does time really have on such things?

In a recent IGN interview, Morrison said, "This isn't arbitrary. This is the result of a lot of thought. You know I love to talk and theorize about comics and the creative process but I feel I'm close to over-explaining and justifying something that was really simple. It's about trying to create a feeling."

I agree with Morrison. We aren't dumb. He knows that. His talking about every little thing - satisfying the instant gratification desire that forces us in only a week to demand all answers after one quick reading - will ruin not only his creativity and faith in readers, but our faith in ourselves as creative participants in the vivid and continuous dream that is story.

Whether or not Final Crisis is a rewarding read depends on how you go into it. Scott McCloud talks about the iconic in comic books, how we see ourselves and larger ideas in the stories and line work. Morrison grasps this concept, and maybe overreached a little here and there. But taken as a whole, we've been given an amazing sequential art experience. It challenges us to keep up, promising all the knowledge we'll need. How many comics do that?

As an "Event" comic, it only partly succeeds. The casual reader can have a hard time, tie-ins were mismanaged (or mismarketed), the art and schedule proved problematic. The grander DC Universe is impacted, but in ways far more subtle than, say, giant crashed alien spaceships in NYC, heroes uncovered as alien invaders, "no more mutants" or even the disappearance of infinite earths.

But as a comic, as a story, it raises the bar and the imagination. I'll take that over splash-page battles and soap opera melodrama that masquerade as good writing.


Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Buckshot: That was a hell of a game.

It's a day late, but congratulations to my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, on their triumph in Super Bowl XLIII.


Read on, faithful few!

Buck Reviews 24: Day 7, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

The following review was typed in real time.

An action-oriented, Jack-centered installment, as things begin to shift from one plotline to another.

Jack & Co.
• Jack & his team follow the Matobos to Dubaku’s location, a nondescript office building. They infiltrate the building and a firefight ensues. You know Jack was itching for this. He hasn’t killed anyone in several hours.
• Dubaku's been hiding Michael Latham in his lair, presumably if the CIP device failed. Dubaku straps explosives to Latham and blows him up to cover his escape. (Is this 24's first exploding man?) Dubaku then walks right out the front door of the building with the rest of the suits.
• CTU-lite gets the Matobos back to their safehouse. Bill wants to hijack a satellite to track Matobo, but Jack says they don’t have the time or resources. Matobo says they can go to President Taylor, and that they can trust her. Jack, Bill, and Renee prepare to take the Matobos to the White House while Tony will continue to hunt Dubaku through other methods.

Kidron, OH
• Sean and Janis find Dubaku’s target in Kidron; a plant that produces pesticides. The pressure has started building in the primary tank of insecticide and they can’t stop it. It’s going to flood into the atmosphere.
• Janis and the plant manager attempt to vent the insecticide into a runoff room within the plant. When Dubaku unplugs the CIP device and flees, the pressure drops in the tanks, but the plant manager and other employees suffer some chemical inhalation, and some of the chemical made it into the air.

Henry Taylor
• Henry awakes and prepares to leave Samantha's apartment, only to be attacked by Gedge’s partner, who comes up to check on the delays. Henry is now Dubaku’s hostage.

• The show gives the population of Kidron as 30,000…'fraid not. Maybe if we expand to include Wooster to the west and Canton to the east. But Kidron isn’t even an incorporated town. I realize I’m nitpicking here, but the show’s depicting an area that’s practically in my backyard; it’s hard not to critique.
• Nice to see Renee finally doing something again. Hopefully she doesn't get sidelined much more as the day progresses.
• I read a theory that Janis is the FBI mole, and she very well may be. But for the moment, my money's on Tom, the Secretary of Homeland Security, being involved in some way. A comment he made to Chief of Staff Kanin near the end of the episode seemed off to me.
• I get that Tony doesn't want to go to the White House because it means he'll be arrested, and won't be able to help in the hunt for Dubaku. But again, it makes me wonder if Jack will be able to trust Tony in the end.
• With the CIP device seemingly destroyed, it looks like we're going to follow a similar format to Season 3, where we went from Rogue Jack to Mexican Drug Cartel to Terrorist Supervirus Attack. That actually all played out pretty well in the end, so if they're planning a similar tonal shift or two this year, here's hoping they pull it off.


Read on, faithful few!