Category Archives: huntress

Arrow: Home Invasion

Deadshot has been a growing threat in the world of “Arrow.” While a minor Batman villain and Suicide Squad superstar in the comics, here he is a one-eyed super-assassin for hire. His most twisted attribute, besides the weird red eye piece, is his penchant for tattooing the names of his victims on his body.

His biggest claim to infamy on the series is that he killed John Diggle’s brother. Diggle is now obsessed, perhaps ever more so than Oliver. Not only is revenge biting his ass, but Diggle’s can’t really move his relationship with his sister-in-law (his late bro’s wife) until Deadshot is dealt with.

We open on Diggle training with Oliver, while Deadshot makes another hit. Felicity has hacked into ARGUS and is tracking Deadshot. I really have to wonder where this is going with ARGUS. Is there a Justice League in Oliver’s future? Probably not, as this ARGUS acronym isn’t the same as the comics.

Diggle’s contact in ARGUS has a little more fire. Named Lyla in the show, she’s given the surname Michaels in the Arrow companion comic. Lyla Michaels is the real name of Harbinger, a power player in DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths way back in 1985. Harbinger was missioned with the task of collecting the superheroes who would then save the universe/multiverse. Harbinger is even her codename in the show. What an interesting connection.

The opening shoves a whole lot of plot, subplot, and information into a very short amount of time, so much so, my head began to spin a bit. The current dynamic of Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity is counterpointed by the flashback dynamic of Oliver, Deathstroke, and Shado. We also learn Oliver is lunchdating Laurel even though he’s on the outs with Tommy. Bad, Oliver, just the first of many bad decisions this episode.

This is all under eight minutes, before the credit sequence. We are also introduced the main plot/subplot of this episode. Laurel is working with a family who were testifying against a bad man, List-worthy, but surprisingly not on it – it could be his dumb name, Edward Rasmus. His hired killer, Mr. Blank, gets the parents but misses the seven year old son. Laurel takes the kid in. Don’t think the thought hasn’t crossed my mind that most times when you add a kid, you’ve jumped the shark.

This is all in about ten minutes. The episode hasn’t really even started. It doesn’t get less complicated as the episode continues. After a few awkward moments between ex-friends Oliver and Tommy, some bonding between Tommy and the kid, and a fairly cool scene where Mr. Blank attacks Laurel, the couple and the kid move in with the Queens to enjoy the heavy security there. I found that puzzling. Besides Diggle, Queen security has seemed extremely lame. Obviously it’s The Hood who will protect them, but Quentin Lance shouldn’t have agreed to it.

It gets very predictable at this point. There are newborn kittens who knew Oliver will be distracted with Deadshot the next time Mr. Blank attacks, letting everyone down, duh. Or the other way around, although it should have been the former. As one would expect, Oliver makes the bad choice. The worst choice, and we lose Diggle over it. At this point, the only thing that could make this worse would be an appearance by the Huntress.

Speaking of bad choices, on the island, while being trained in archery, Oliver kisses Shado. For comics fans, we know how that works out. The cliffhanger here finally means forward motion on the island at least.

Mr. Blank is an intriguing villain, played by J. August Richards, formerly of “Angel.” He reminds me a lot of Chiwetel Ejiofor as The Operative in Serenity. He’s very calm, very precise, and likes to make conversation with his prey. He was a very suitable foe for this version of Green Arrow. His clash with Oliver is perhaps one if the best of the series so far.

As if there’s not enough going on, Roy Harper, who is apparently dating fellow Speedy, Oliver’s sister Thea, is trying to track down The Hood. There is a good scene where finally it’s addressed that The Hood is a murderer. Finally. Thea agrees to help Roy find The Hood. More shark jumping in the form of idiotic 1950s secret identity protection? I hope not, cuz that’s what breaks up Tommy and Laurel. Worst case scenario – Oliver takes on a teenage sidekick (or two) to replace Diggle. I know it’s the natural progression, but damn it, I liked David Ramsey’s Diggle a lot.

This was a very uneven episode, save some great character bits, a throwaway Wonder Twins reference, and of course, Mr. Blank. Only three more episodes to go, I wonder how it’s going to go…

Arrow: The Huntress Returns

I am sure that I’ve mentioned several times what not-a-fan I am of Jessica De Gouw, so I guess you all know how I feel about her character’s return to “Arrow.” I must admit to being puzzled by this episode’s title, because, even though most comics fans know that Helena Bertinelli is the Huntress, they have never yet called her that on the show. At least Oliver was referenced as Green Arrow once, even if it was a throwaway comment.

In the opening sequence, Helena corners her gangster father’s lawyer in a strip club. She’s looking for her father who’s in an FBI safe house. In a nice touch, Helena is wearing a pseudo-stripper costume quite similar to one of the costumes the Huntress wore in the comics. And of course, she still has her crossbow. And like former flame Oliver, her taste for blood.

Filed under subplots and soap opera, Laurel’s mom, played by genre favorite Alex Kingston, is back in town after a long absence, and she insists that her dead daughter, and guilt foundation for Oliver, Sarah, is still alive. Quentin, over-reactionary as always, isn’t buying it.

Also in that folder, Oliver’s club is about to open, and he’s getting more than serious about McKenna, sounds like the perfect time for psycho ex-girlfriend vigilantes to come calling. Oh yeah, and Mia ran into Roy again, and tried to get him employed at the club. Is there a romance between the two potential Speedies brewing? It’s funny, but they’d be perfect for each other. They like all the same stuff…

Helena is in town to kill her dad. Apparently he cut a deal and will be getting a new identity. She drops in on Oliver just as he starts looking for her. She says she needs his help to get her father, as she can’t do it alone. Helena as a character here on “Arrow” is certainly unstable, and sadly Jessica De Gouw’s acting has not improved. Remarkably, she’s become even less likable now. Appropriately, Oliver and Diggle are treating her as a villain.

Tommy is having a bad day. He’s on the outs with Oliver cuz he can’t trust him any more. Helena beat the crap out if him. And Laurel has called it quits cuz he can’t be honest with her. Whereas at first I thought that Tommy becomes Merlyn the Magician, now I’m thinking perhaps his death is what cements the enmity between Arrow and Merlyn. Thoughts? Let’s face it, no matter what happens, Tommy is no Jimmy Olsen.

Nice touches this episode include the name of Oliver’s club (Verdant means green), Roy Harper being afraid of needles, the shout out to Coast City, and of course the all too short cameo of DJ Steve Aoki. And at last, somebody (Quentin Lance in this case) finally calls Helena the Huntress. Finally also, spoilers for those who haven’t seen the episode yet, but I’m gonna miss McKenna a lot.

Arrow: Dead to Rights

Didn’t Deadshot take an arrow to the eye rather nastily waaay back in the third episode? Well, he’s back. How exactly does one live through something like that anyway?

The episode begins with a bang. Guillermo Barrera, known to comics fans as Nightwing villain, the knife wielding Brutale, shows up in Starling City via helicopter only to be immediately confronted by The Hood. He’s got his knives but no costume or bad guy codename. Maybe that’s why he lasts less than a minute with our ‘hero’ before he takes an arrow in the chest.

More scenes with Tommy and Laurel interacting with Oliver and a date, in this case, McKenna – it works out better this time, even though Tommy’s dad AKA Merlyn the Magician AKA Captain Jack shows up to spoil the fun. There’s also a great bit where Laurel shows McKenna a photo of her sister as a little girl… with a black canary. Other shout outs to the comics this episode include Deadshot living at the Bludhaven apartments, and of course… the first appearance of Riversong herself, Alex Kingston, as Laurel’s mom, Dinah Lance.

There are also some nice moments with Oliver and Tommy as they celebrate the latter’s birthday at a Chinese restaurant (a front fir the Tongs, but that’s beside the point). For once we get a real sense of why they are friends, and also why Tommy always seems to be at the Queens’ home. It’s all blown to hell when Tommy finds out Oliver’s big secret. I really wonder where they’re going with this character, is he being groomed to become the next Merlyn the Magician? Or simply a casualty in the war between The Hood and the Dark Archer?

Last episode Moira hired China White to kill Merlyn, and this time, it seems that she’s farming that work out to Deadshot. Not dead, but blind, however she provides him with a vision boost eyesight that more properly resembles his comic book appearance. And China White sure can kick ass in an evening gown and heels. Go, Kelly Hu!

Back on the island, Slade and Oliver continue their Odd Couple routine, get a radio working and learn more about Fyers’ Odyssey obsession. Next time on “Arrow, ” three weeks from now, why does the Huntress return (groan), did Malcolm Merlyn meet Ras al Ghul in Nanda Parbat, and who doesn’t know Oliver is the vigilante?

Arrow: Vertigo

Back in the day, let’s say the 1950s, back when Green Arrow was literally Batman with a bow, he had a serious rogues gallery. There were a multitude of bizarre criminals who menaced Star City on a regular basis. True, most of them spun on the unoriginal twist of using some sort of bow and arrow motif, but Green Arrow and Speedy had lots of enemies.

The 1970s came along, Speedy got hooked on heroin and left his mentor, Green Arrow, who had changed his costume and facial hair to a more modern look, and turned his aim on social issues rather than super-villains. By the end of the decade however, things had come full circle, and costumed criminals came back in vogue. The powers that be decided Green Arrow needed a rogues gallery, albeit a more believable one, without the mandatory bow and arrow.

Enter Count Vertigo. With a name like Werner Vertigo, what else could he become but a super-villain, right? The Count part comes from being the last member of the royal family of Vlatava, so he has the resources of a small eastern European nation behind him. Afflicted with a balance problem he had a device implanted in his head that prevented vertigo. After years of tinkering with it he found he could affect the balance of others, causing dizziness, and yes, I’ll say it, vertigo. He can also fly. No idea how he does that though.

Merlyn the Magician may the king of super-villains who use bows and arrows, and Green Arrow’s natural opposite number, but when most folks think of the emerald archer’s archenemy on the scale of a Joker or a Luthor, they think Count Vertigo.

But that’s the comics, on the “Arrow” TV series, things are a bit different. Vertigo is a new drug, one that got Oliver’s little sister in a car accident, and arrested in but one of last week‘s cliffhangers. And the drug lord pushing vertigo onto the streets is called The Count.

The hot button comics reference this episode is Thea’s middle name – Dearden. Not only is her nickname Speedy, but in the comics, Mia Dearden is the young girl who was the second person to take on the Speedy identity as Green Arrow’s sidekick. Is this homage or foreshadowing?

The Count, as played by Seth Gabel of “Fringe,” is very manic, theatrical, and dangerous in that mad villain unpredictable way. Brilliant casting, and great costuming, I kinda got a Captain John Hart vibe as well.

Nice to see the writers haven’t forgotten Oliver’s Russian Bratva connection, I just hope that they don’t forget to explain it. It’s also good to see The Count has not lost his Eastern European origins as well. I also like the explanation of his name. Nice touch. And the color of the drug itself? It’s green, like Count Vertigo’s color scheme in the comics.

Detective Quentin Lance’s outrageous grudge against Oliver is getting old, and kind of silly too. I do however like the cast addition of Janina Gavankar from “True Blood” as Detective McKenna Hall. With Laurel tied up with Tommy, Oliver needs a good potential romantic interest. Please don’t bring back the Huntress.

The Count is taken down, of course, but with the possibility of a return, and possibly more like the comics version next time. We’ll see. He reminded me a bit of Mark Hamill’s turn as the Trickster on the old “Flash” series on CBS. Maybe we will get powers and costumes next time.

In this week’s island flashback, we learn more about Yao Fei, Ed Fyers, Deathstroke and the terrorists there. We also see a slick trick make folks look dead. Don’t try this at home, kids. We also see, much too briefly, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak with some bad news for Oliver. But I’m sure we’ll get more of that next week, and hopefully more Felicity as well.

Arrow: Vendetta

When last we left our CW prime time drama loosely based on the comic book superhero Green Arrow – Oliver and Helena had find each other kindred spirits in revenge, justice, and romance; Walter had returned home to care for Moira; Tommy was making time with Laurel, and had been financially cut off by his dad – finally revealed as the mystery character played by John Barrowman. Up to speed? Good, here we go with “Vendetta.”

I have to confess I was a bit taken aback when I saw that Arrow was going to try to take the Huntress (never named thus in the previous “Muse of Fire” by the way) on as a sidekick/partner to train. It’s not something that had occurred to me. He teaches her archery in a rather clever scene. She of course opts for a crossbow. At first, at least.

Arrow and the still unnamed Huntress make their debut against a warehouse full of drug dealers. Nice little fight scene. While Jessica DeGouw’s acting has not improved, she does look good in costume, purple and black with a crossbow and cross motif. I would have questioned it if it had a cape, but I gotta say I would have liked a cape a whole lot more than this long coat. Sorry, it’s an accepted conceit – superheroes wear capes. Deal with it. And the similarity to Hit-Girl’s costume is unsettling.

Whereas last week Diggle was doing too much Alfred to Oliver’s Batman, this week, he does a decent Lucius Fox, as played by Morgan Freeman in The Dark Knight. Although, unlike Fox, Diggle is a sensible voice of reason. Stephen Amell’s naked torso and Felicity Smoak both return in this episode, but we get enough of neither.

Last episode I was entranced by the bits with Oliver and Helena, and Tommy and Laurel. But here, where all four meet for dinner, I was bored and completely taken out of the show for the first time in a while. This was “Melrose Place,” not a superhero drama. Zzzzzzz…

Ultimately the Melrose incident leads to China White and Frank Bertinelli going to war as well as Arrow vs the still as yet unnamed Huntress. It is a very unsatisfying conclusion, and she remains unnamed. I think that irks me more than anything.

This was not the best episode so far. The superheroics and the island flashbacks have vanished. The soap opera aspects have creeped in. I’m not happy. Hopefully things will get better for this week’s mid-season finale. We’ll see.

Arrow: Muse of Fire

After a Thanksgiving break, “Arrow” is back, with the Huntress.

In the first part of this special Huntress double feature on “Arrow” we see the debut of a DC Comics super-heroine with a decidedly special pedigree.

History lesson time. Originally the Huntress was Helena Wayne, the adult daughter of the Batman and Catwoman of a parallel universe called Earth-Two. She was an extremely popular character, representing a next generation of crimefighters on that world.

When DC Comics decided to clean house in the 1980s, they effectively erased Earth-Two from continuity and rebooted the Huntress as Helena Bertinelli, the vigilante daughter of a crime boss. Notably this version lacked the charm of the original and was subsequently less popular.

When the CW (of was it the WB then?) decided to bring the comic Birds of Prey to the small screen about a decade ago, they featured the Huntress as once again the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. The show only lasted one season and was, while sometimes fun, mostly bad, and a mish-mash of comic continuity. It’s interesting that the show came up at dinner with friends the other night, and it was remembered with only contempt. You can read my thoughts from the time on the “Birds of Prey” series here.

Interestingly enough, DC Comics has returned to the Earth 2 concept and brought the Huntress back to her first origins. It’s a shame that “Arrow” has decided to use the Helena Bertinelli version for their show. Maybe they thought the Batman reference would be confusing? Well, then they’d better stop referencing Bludhaven is all I have to say.

I think it’s worth noting up front that in the comics, the Huntress and Green Arrow are two characters that have had very little interaction, despite their choice in common weaponry. The Huntress is an odd selection to show up here, just saying.

As “Muse of Fire” opens, Oliver’s mom is caught in the crossfire of a mob hit. She was having lunch at the time with the mobster. And the hitter turns out to be our lovely Huntress, as played by Australian Jessica DeGouw, not the most charming or likable or even talented actress. Disappointingly her character turns out to be simply a female version of Arrow, working through her own list. I could think of more interesting ideas than that.

This episode also features the return of Kelly Hu as China White, as the Triad is revealed to be a rival of Helena’s dad, crime boss Frank Bertinelli. The latter, scared, starts to rattle the cages toward a mob war. One incident leads to the first confrontation between Arrow and the Huntress. Great exchange between Diggle and Oliver follows as they try to figure her motives. I love Diggle more and more every episode. I just wish he wasn’t so ‘Alfred’ in this one.

Anyone else ever notice that Tommy Merlyn is always around? At the Queen house, at their job, at Laurel’s job, but he’s never there to see his best friend Oliver. It’s just odd. Did he just take his place with the family in a very creepy way while Oliver was on that island thought dead?

Tommy goes to dinner with Laurel, and Oliver goes to dinner with Helena. There is clever well written dialogue for both, and Stephen Amell does his best, acting against the cardboard wall that is DeGouw. Meanwhile Captain Jack Harkness visits Oliver’s Mom’s sickbed. It has been frustrating but I have admire how well the writers have concealed the identity of the character John Barrowman plays on “Arrow.”

Spoiler alert for those who have seen it yet, but the secret comes out here. He’s not Maxwell Lord, or John Deleon, or Count Vertigo. He’s someone rather boring, at least for the comics fans. John Barrowman is Malcolm Merlyn, Tommy’s dad. Of course, wouldn’t it be cool if Barrowman turned out to be Merlyn the Magician?

There’s a nice shout out to the co-creator of the comic book Huntress, Joe Staton, in the name of Helena’s late fiancé. Nice touch. He also gave her the cross she wears around her neck – as much a symbol for the second comics Huntress as the bat was for the first.

The episode ends with Oliver and Helena entwined in a kiss, kindred souls in justice, revenge, and an understanding of one another. What happens next? Be here tomorrow, same Arrow time, same Arrow channel.

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for 10-5-2011

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live in a real comics and gaming store in West Berlin, NJ – All Things Fun! – co-hosts Ed (Checkered Shirt) Evans, Allison (Batgirl) Eckel and Glenn (Avengers) Walker discuss the new comics out this week in two fun video segments, now in high definition, and also available on YouTube. See it here!

The first segment includes discussion of the following topics: Ed’s back, Paul Levitz’ Huntress #1, Penguin Pain and Prejudice #1, number two DC 52 horror comics, Action Comics #2 and the not-so-secret identity, Green Arrow #2, some books that Glenn actually liked this week, the rest of the second issues this week for the New DC 52, and we promise we’ll let Ed talk in the next segment.

The discussion continues in segment two including: Seashell armor, Ed’s indies, the Slave One bank and the ruination of Star Wars, more indies including The Walking Dead, Zombie Night at All Things Fun!, Chew #21, Avengers 1959 #1, other Avengers-related Marvels, Marvel hardbacks for kids, and Ed’s trades.

Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, by Allison and Glenn, and ATF! on YouTube.

And be back here every Wednesday morning at 11:30 AM EST to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

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Birds of Prey

A Television Review of “Birds of Prey”
Episode: “Pilot”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Batgirl, the Huntress and the Black Canary? Birds of Prey the comic book this is not.

This very loose comic book adaptation by the folks who brought us “Smallville” (there’s a line about meteor showers thrown in that’s hilarious) is visually stunning. The action sequences (if they could just get rid of that cat howling sound when the Huntress does her stuff they would be perfect) and CGI shots of New Gotham are amazing. You should see it just for that, but there’s more, some of it not so good.

Dina Meyer (Johnny Mnemonic and sooo sexy in Starship Troopers – the scene where she takes off her shirt is permanently engraved in my head) is Barbara Gordon alias Batgirl, crippled by the Joker and now called Oracle, master computer hacker chick. Ashley Scott (A.I., “Dark Angel”) tries really really hard to act as Helena Kyle (hold on, it’s complicated – well, not for comic readers – but most tv viewers are much thicker than comic readers), the Huntress, the daughter of Catwoman and the Batman, who has metahuman strength and reflexes. Rachel Skarsten, a relative unknown plays the role of teenage Dinah Lance (not called the Black Canary – although rumor has it Lori Loughlin, formerly of “Full House” will be appearing as her mother who as the Black Canary was a former ally of Batgirl) who has strange telepathic abilities – woefully unexplained in the pilot.

Rounding out the cast are Ian Abercrombie (Mr. Pitt of “Seinfeld” – which is why I can’t take him seriously) as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler and heartthrob Shemar Moore (“The Brothers,” “Young and the Restless” and if you want to see the website of a man whose ego is completely out of control, check out http://www.shemar.com) as Detective Jake Reese, the David to the Huntress’ Maddie. Mia Sara (Legend, Time Cop) plays the series’ villainess psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel (known in the comics as the Joker’s main squeeze, Harley Quinn) who was originally played by Sherilyn Fenn. All of Fenn’s scenes were re-shot with Sara.

Oracle, the Huntress and Rachel join forces to stop a fear-inducing metahuman from killing innocents (as much as it sounds like the Scarecrow it ain’t). Discounting the complicated backstory this is real simple. The backstory, told in flashbacks (and way too few of them) that are the best part of the show, has the Joker killing Catwoman, crippling Batgirl and driving Batman out of Gotham City. The daughter of Bats and Catty, the Huntress, is taken under Barbara Gordon’s wing where she learns to be a crimefighter. The flashbacks, with the voice of the Joker by Mark Hamill who has perfected the part on the Batman animated series, and the actor from the On Star commercials playing Batman, are by far the best thing about the show. Especially Dina Meyer in the Batgirl costume. She outsexes Yvonne Craig and leaves Alicia Silverstone in the dust, no contest.

If they get rid of the howling, teach Ashley Scott to act, get her a real costume (instead of the Victoria’s Secret get up she wears in the pilot), clear up the convoluted backstory and maybe write some decent scripts this might not be that bad. Rule number one for watching “Birds of Prey” is the same as “Smallville,” forget the comics and it’s enjoyable.

Want to read more of my opinions about comics on television? Check out Comic Widows at: http://www.comicwidows.com.