Saturday, April 29, 2017

Comic Book Review: Batgirl #10 "Son of Penguin, Pt.4"

By: Jerry Montgomery
April 28, 2017

Batgirl #10
“Son of Penguin, Pt. 4”

Written by: Hope Larson
Pencils and inks by: Chris Wildgoose

Batgirl has returned to Burnside, that trendy, hipster tech saavy part of Gotham that has become the spot to be for young millennials. Babs has returned to her old friends, villains and life. However, the old neighborhood just isn't the same as before she left for Asia in the first story arc. The borough has gone through gentrification while she
was away and she's has had to adjust to her new surroundings.  Other than that, Barbara has had to adjust to everyday normal life, going to college, working and dating. What?! That's right, there's a new heartthrob in town and his name is Ethan Cobblepot.  Cobblepot,  as in Oswald Cobblepot . Ethan is the estranged son of the Penguin!

Ethan has come to town under the auspice of gaining a foothold in Burnside for his new techie, app company. He had taken an interest in Barbara and she in turn, had taken an interest in him but always had a nagging feeling that Ethan was not always on the up and up. Especially when she discovered that Batgirl keeps showing up in cameos in a popular cellphone app entitled Doggo, which of course was developed by Ethan's company, Vicform. Was it really developed to keep Batgirl under surveillance? Maybe Ethan's good guy image isn’t so good after all. Vicform's variius phone apps then begin to cause problems all over town, from robberies to ultimately, fighting and rioting…right in the Penguin's nightclub. Maybe the Penguin has good reason to be against his son's move to Gotham. It would seem that a lot of people are getting hooked on Vicform's apps.

In issue #10 and part four of “Son of Penguin” Barbara , as Batgirl investigates the
riot that took place at Penguin's nightclub, the Iceberg Lounge, over a friendly game of ping pong. Penguin is sure that it was Ethan but has no proof. It is here and on her way out, surveying the busy city streets that she comes to the logical conclusion that the millions of smart phones in use is the key. She needs to see Ethan to speak from her heart in light of events  but doing so may be harder than she thinks…even if they are dating! It’s a good thing that she's always had Dick Grayson to talk to in times of need and he's been a regular since she's come back to town. Talking to Dick, she gains the insight and advice she needs to make a final opinion on Ethan Cobblepot. If you know anything about Ethan though, he's not going to take anything lying down. Maybe he's his father's son after all. In spite of all her superhero-ing, Barbara still has time for her good friends to help with their problems, no matter how big or small. Now if only falling streetlights would stay out of the coffee shop! At the end of the issue, Ethan's true intentions are revealed as he confronts his father, Oswald/Penguin. As with any dysfunctional relationship, things can't go that well, can they?

The Verdict: It was an enjoyable issue even though it's into part 4 of the story arc, thanks to the writing of Hope Larson. Her previous works have featured stories about young women, written for young women and is really in tune with Barbara Gordon's life, both public as Batgirl and private as Barbara. Larson has done a great job detailing Barbara's “normal” life, through relationships with close friends, work, librarian (homage) school and dating and incorporating today's tech into it all, good or bad. The artwork by Chris Wildgoose is energetic and a fine compliment to Larson's storytelling. This title in itself is a great read for young women or girls that can relate to the same things that Barbara Gordon faces everyday in her life with a positive outlook. This may be a little off putting to some male readers but still should be given a chance for an interesting and different take on the difficult life of a superhero.

Comic Book Review: The Flash #21 "The Button, Pt. 2"

By: Jerry Montgomery
April 26, 2017

The Flash #21
“The Button, Pt. 2”

Written by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Howard Porter

Eobard Thawne is dead…again. If you’re unfamiliar with who he is, he is or should I say, was, the Reverse Flash. He was killed by the alternative reality Batman, Dr. Thomas Wayne, who ran him through with an Amazonian sword during the Flashpoint event. So, Thawne had been dead for a while before being summoned
Variant cover for The Flash #21
from the grave, from some greater power that called out for him, so he claimed. Although apparently, he brought no wisdom back with him from the great beyond as his evil and arrogance proved his undoing. To think himself invincible was to fly in the face of God and literally, that’s what happens.

In part 1 of “The Button” in this crossover event, Batman is trying to decipher the mystery of that blood spattered yellow button. Getting no further, he tosses the button near the Psycho Pirate’s mask and that’s when all hell breaks loose. The button reacts to the mask and seems to rip open time and space.  Bruce’s father, dressed as the Flashpoint Batman appears for a split second, long enough to speak Bruce’s name. Bruce immediately contacts the Flash, who is in the middle of a fight, to get to the Batcave to which Barry says that he’ll be there in a minute.

Expecting the Flash, Batman is greeted by a fist to the face by none other than the ressurected Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash. A vicious fight ensues but what can Batman do against one of the fastest men alive? On top of his speed, the Reverse Flash can blur his body, preventing himself from taking a punch which of course, he uses to his advantage. Batman is able to get his licks in, even pinning Thawne’s foot to the ground with a well placed sharpened Bat-shuriken. Satisfying yes, but it only serves to infuriate further an already enraged enemy. Thawne is only toying with Batman until Batman begins to actually get the best of him and then its all over. A triumphant Reverse Flash stands over an unconscious Batman and picks up “The Button “, questioning the mystery of it before disappearing with it to destinations unknown. After several seconds of nothing, Thawne reappears though not as he left. His left side is completely destroyed, engulfed in blue flame. He is dying but before he collapses,  he utters the words, “God…God…I saw…God.” “The Button “ is gone.
Remember,  this has all happened in a little over a minute. That’s when the Flash shows up.

The Flash #21 and pt. 2 of “The Button “, things pick up soon after Eobard Thawne returned from who knows where, only to die. His corpse still lay on the floor of the Batcave where he fell. Barry Allen,  as well as being the Flash is also a scientist. A forensics scientist to be exact. So, he sets out to solve the mystery of the death of Thawne and the circumstances surrounding his “resurrection” the best way he knows how…CSI style. The mystery is where in time did he come from but more importantly, where did he go with the button? Someone or something very powerful beckoned Thawne for obvious reasons. His ability to move through time and space effortlessly. Even with these scientific methods and technology, this crime scene may not be so easy to analyze.  Even the corpse of the Reverse Flash yields some puzzling energy signatures that leaves a big question for the Flash….one that may have far reaching effects. As for the button? Where did it go? There’s only one witness as to what happened…Bruce Wayne. Luckily, he understands Barry and the forensic science he was trained in.

Forensic scientist Barry Allen and a bruised and battered Batman, the Worlds Greatest Detective hash out what they know. Who better to solve the mystery of
Eobard Thawne and the button? Sharing visions evidence, anomalies  and ideas, Barry thinks back to his past. We know that Thawne returned in time to kill Barry’s mother in an insane act of revenge and when Barry too, went back in time to save her, created the Flashpoint event. So what are all these strange energy emanations coming from the now dead Thawne and the now missing button? The Flash concludes only one thing…he must use the very thing that he swore to never touch again and don’t think it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Batman.  They set out then in perhaps the strangest, life altering adventure, especially for Bruce Wayne, attaining one of the most things he’s ever wanted.

The Verdict: You can’t possibly tell me that you can skip this issue. YOU CAN’T !! The “Button, Pt. 2 continues on in epic fashion with many questions still to be answered with two or three more new ones thrown in. You didn’t think it was going to be that simple, did you? Writer, Joshua Williamson’s contribution to this four part crossover is in fine step to the previous installment  and maintains the mystery that has us all wondering about. The artwork by Howard Porter is very nice and has proven himself a worthy illustrator. I don’t need to tell you that if you have any interest in the Watchmen or what has been brewing in Rebirth, this issue is an integral part of the puzzle. I’m really digging the variant covers as well, especially the verticular or”winkie” version. At this point, it looks like Dr. Manhattan may be behind all of this, judging from visual clues (the deaths of Pandora and Owlman in Rebirth and New 52 Justice League, similar to the death of Rorschach.) and the familiarity of what Dr. Manhattan can do. So, who put “The Button” in the Batcave? Another member of the Watchmen? The Owl perhaps? Keep reading true believers!

The Geekcap Roundup

Supergirl "Ace Reporter"

During an ordinary day, Lena asks Kara to accompany her to a conference on nanotechnology hosted by her ex-boyfriend Jack Spheer. There, Spheer debuts a new technology called Biomax which promises huge medical advancements, but a former lab technician warns Kara that the human tests were faked, making the nanobots dangerous. After he is killed after his warning, Kara follows a lead by Snapper Carr to a supposed human test subject where they are attacked by a swarm of nanobots. With no leads, she is forced to crash a date between Lena and Spheer with Mon-El to learn more. Mon-El secretly steals Spheer’s security badge, leading the tow to his office. From his research, they discover evidence of the nanobots’ destruction covered up by Spheer who injected himself with the technology. Meanwhile, Winn’s girlfriend Lyra joins Guardian on his nightly missions, though her aggressive behavior leads to a conflict between the couple.

Kara warns Lena on Spheer’s deception, giving her some of their evidence to indict him. To promote the truth, Kara apologizes to Carr and offers her own work to corroborate their knowledge of Biomax. While Kara is correct that there were no human trials, Carr finds that the company’s CFO Beth Breen stands to gain from Biomax failing, believing her to be behind the scandal. Lean confronts Spheer on Biomax and discovers Beth Breen to be controlling the nanobots as well as Spheer, working to extend the control around the city. Supergirl arrives to fight off the nanobots as Lena fights off Breen. Eventually, Lena gets the opening to shut down the mainframe, but the act also kills Spheer from his connection to the nanobots. Meanwhile, James ultimately agrees to let Lyra work with him so long as she follows his orders. Because of her work, Carr re-hires Kara to CatCo Media, and Lena is paid a visit by Rhea who offers a business proposition.


  • Jack Spheer was previously a villain under the alias Biomax with the ability to control others.
  • Mon-El is seen reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Photo Credit: DC/CW

The Flash "The Once and Future Flash"

Barry decides to travel to 2024 to discover Savitar’s identity. Unfortunately, he finds himself in a future with a Barry devastated by Iris’s death, a paralyzed Wally, a grieving Joe, an isolated Cisco, and Julian keeping Killer Frost prisoner in his lab after the latter joined up with Savitar with the city overrun by an even stronger Mirror Master and Top. Even worse, future Barry admits to not knowing Savitar’s real identity, advising Barry to return home. However, when Barry attempts to return home, he finds himself unable to open a breach, especially when Cisco reveals he has lost his powers after confronting Caitlin years ago. Barry once again confronts his future self who reveals that while he was able to trap Savitar in the Speed Force, he was still unable to save Iris. Meanwhile, the remaining team at STAR Labs struggle to consider what to do next when Caitlin escapes the lab as Killer Frost.

Under Cisco’s advice, Barry regathers the members of the team to help him reopen the breach to return him home. Gathering Julian, Joe, and HR, Barry convinces the group to work together again to take on the Rogues. Though the two nearly overpower Barry, his future self finally joins in, using a device made by Cisco to short-out the Rogues’ powers. Inspired by his past self, future Barry decides to reset the team. As a sign of thanks, he gives Barry a drive with information from Tracy Brand, someone who helped him trap Savitar, though he warns the technology wasn’t available until four years after Iris’s death. Together, they help Barry return to 2017 with a new plan to find Caitlin before she teams up with Savitar. Meanwhile, Killer Frost comes face-to-face with Savitar outside the city who offers to make sure Caitlin never returns. When she questions why she should trust him, Savitar removes his armor, revealing his identity to her.


  • Cisco refers to a future fight between him and Killer Frost.
  • Barry’s costume in 2024 more closely resembles his comic counterpart’s.
  • This episode was directed by cast member Tom Cavanaugh. 

Photo Credit: DC/CW

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "All the Madame's Men"

Daisy and May fight their way through the Hydra facility with Daisy blasting Madame Hydra to escape. With Madame Hydra injured, Fitz takes control and orders a manhunt for the two agents while the Resistance scramble to develop a new plan after the death of the Patriot. As Daisy and May try to find shelter, they are soon surrounded by Hydra soldiers, alerting the base. Coulson and Mack then leave to rescue their friend and, upon Daisy’s defense, allow May to travel with them back to the base. Meanwhile, Simmons finds evidence of Project Looking Glass located in Ivanov’s property on the Baltic Sea, leading she and Trip on a reconnaissance mission. From there, she discovers Aida’s real plan is to create a real body.

On Madame Hydra’s orders, Fitz continues preparation on Project Looking Glass to ensure her betterment in “the other world.” On Fitz’s orders, his father interrogates Radcliffe for Daisy and May’s location, but he refuses to give up information to someone he calls “a snippet of code.” Using May’s footage of the Patriot’s death, the team broadcasts the truth behind Hydra with Coulson revealing himself to be an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. The reveal leads to an uprising in the public with people rallying at the station to help S.H.I.E.L.D.’s cause. In the real world, Ivanov grows restless at his inability to kill in his new body, but Aida reveals her plan to override that restriction with her new machine. In addition, Ivanov reveals his men have located Daisy and Simmons on a SHIELD jet, ready to be shot down at his orders.


  • Sunil Bakshi makes a reappearance as a Hydra newscaster.
  • Ward reveals in this world that he was taken in by Victoria Hand instead of John Garrett.
  • Bill Paxton makes an appearance in an image on a newscreen.
Photo Credit: Marvel/ABC

Arrow "Dangerous Liaisons"

An ARGUS agent is found dead in an elevator shaft, leading the team to look into the murder as Felicity connects back to Helix. To her shock, she discovers Helix to be behind the murder as they plan to find and release their associate Cayden James from ARGUS. In exchange for her help, Helix offers Felicity a piece of James’s tech which could allow her to locate Chase anywhere. While Felicity explains her option to the team, Lyla refuses to cave in to Helix’s demands, leading Oliver and Felicity to be on separate sides. Meanwhile, Lance connects with Ramirez after discovering the situation surrounding his daughter. However, he is surprised to learn that Ramirez chooses not to visit his daughter even though he has a chance. To make things right, Lance sets up a meeting between the two and begins helping on the case to allow Ramirez visits.

The team attempts to block Helix’s breakout of Cayden James, but they are surprised to find that his location is actually in a black ops location miles from ARGUS. Helix begins attacking the correct spot, forcing Felicity to choose to help them escape and prevent her friends from stopping the plan. Meanwhile, Diggle confronts Lyla for essentially holding a man in prison without due process, but Lyla stands by her choice, believing Cayden James to be too dangerous to be set free, creating a tension between the couple. After the heist, Felicity returns to Helix to find it abandoned after Helix discovers her loyalty to her team. Nevertheless, she obtains a new code to help the team track Chase. To their surprise, the program reveals Chase to be inside the lair, and a large explosion goes off with Oliver and Felicity inside the chaos.


  • Cayden James is heavily mentioned without being seen. Could he play a role in season six?
Photo Credit: DC/CW

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The SmackDown Files: The How to Almost Destroy The Mystic of Shinsuke Nakamura in Five Easy Steps Edition (4-25-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. After Jinder Mahal shocked the world to become the number one contender for Randy Orton’s WWE Championship last we, did the creative team go for a repeat performance in terms of shocking the audience for kicks and giggles or was it back to business as usual on Tuesday nights? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of SD Live in no particular order.  

·        SD Live got off to a puzzling start with Dolph Ziggler interrupting Renee Young’s interview with Shinsuke Nakamura. Ziggler pretended that Nakamura was Michael Jackson and proceeded to run with it for an embarrassingly long period of time. It was beyond cringe-worthy. Nakamura called Ziggler a jackass which led to The Show Off kicking Nakamura in the midsection.

·        Nakamura laid Ziggler out with a belly-to-belly suplex and was about to nail him with the Kinshasa, but Ziggler ducked out of the way as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was such a bad segment. The Artist Known As Shinsuke Nakamura intro is lame. Ziggler’s promo was downright dreadful and Nakamura’s giving him the side eye which pretty much summed up the opener. It is well-documented that Nakamura emulates Michael Jackson. AJ Styles discussed this in great detail in various interviews after debuting in WWE last year.

·        However, there is no need to hit people over the head with that fact by having Ziggler make fun of Nakamura is such a condescending and icky way. This was ten steps below their first confrontation a few weeks ago. Here’s hoping their in-ring work is superior that the slice of creative bullshit they were handed tonight. This was an awful way to start the show.

·        AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin was a nice palate cleanser as they had a solid match that was aided by Kevin Owen’s biting comments on guest commentary. Corbin dominated the match early on, but Styles gained control down the stretch when he shoved Corbin’s head into the turnbuckle before nailing him with the Pele Kick for good measure.

·        Styles was about to nail Corbin with the Phenomenal Forearm, but Owens decided to confront Styles at ringside. Styles kicked KO in the face, but the distraction allowed Corbin to hoist him up for a powerbomb attempt. Styles countered with a roll-up to pick up the win.

·        Styles didn’t get a chance to celebrate as Owens and Corbin went on the attack. Sami Zayn made the save and nailed Corbin with the Helluva Kick. Owens tossed Zayn out of the ring and dropped Styles with a Popup Powerbomb as the segment came to an end.

·        This was a nice way to forward tension between Styles and Owens heading into their presumed United States Championship match at Backlash next month. I’m glad WWE went with the decisive finish because Styles needed the win more than Corbin. Corbin was relatively protected despite the loss and it appears he’s going to be slotted in a feud with Zayn based on the run-in. They should have a good match, but I hope Zayn’s purpose on SD Live is greater than being a utility player to elevate others. It’s a nice gig, but he deserves better than that.

·        American Alpha set the pace in the Beat the Clock Challenge when they defeated The Colons in 5:17 when Chad Gable and Jason Jordan laid out Epico with Grand Amplitude for the win. The match was better than their quick bout from last week, but it didn’t set the world on fire either. At least the crowd was behind Alpha which has rarely been the case in recent weeks.

·        Rusev doesn’t like his new bosses on SD Live and gave them an ultimatum heading into the Money in the Bank PPV which takes place in June. If he’s not granted a title shot, he will pack his bags and move back to Bulgaria. I think it’s safe to assume that The Bulgarian Brute will be medically cleared to compete by that deadline.

·        Randy Orton defeated Erick Rowan with an RKO in a solid No Disqualification match. Orton and Rowan took their fair share of bumps as Orton put Rowan through a table while Rowan rammed Orton’s head with the steel steps.

·        Rowan placed a chair between the ropes and was about to finish Orton off when The Viper slammed Rowan’s head into the chair instead which led to the aforementioned finish.

·        After the match was over, Orton cut a brief promo on Bray Wyatt by telling the Eater of Worlds that he would experience eternal hell during their House of Horrors match at Payback.

·        Jinder Mahal came out and took offense to Orton overlooking him heading into their WWE Championship match at Backlash next month. Mahal chided the fans for being jealous of his wealth, culture, education, & talent and vowed to bring the WWE Title home to his people.

·        He proceeded to cut a promo in Punjabi before taking a cheap shot at Orton. Orton was about to drop Mahal with the Draping DDT, but the Bollywood Boyz made the save. Mahal laid Orton out with the Cobra Clutch Slam and left the arena with the WWE Championship.

·        This was a nice way to forward two feuds at once as Orton had a short and sweet message for Wyatt while Mahal continues to generate good heel heat as the arrogant foreign heel with a chip on his shoulder. He’s doing a nice job so far, but his in-ring work will tell the true story soon enough.

·        Breezango won the Beat the Clock Challenge and will face The Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at Backlash when they defeated The Ascension in a decent match.

·        The action was solid for the most part, but the dynamic was little off because it was a heel vs. heel match. However, it appears that Breezango is now a babyface team as the fans cheered them on down the stretch.

·        The Ascension was about to finish off Fandango with the Fall of Man, but Tyler Breeze saved the day when he nailed Viktor with the Beauty Shot which allowed Fandango to hit The Falcon Arrow for the win.

·        Breezango is a talented tag team minus the hokey gimmick. The fans are starting to see that and I hope The Usos vs. Breezango shock the world in Chicago because they have the ability to do so.

·        The trio of Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina Snuka derailed Charlotte’s Drive for Five when they interfered in her SmackDown Women’s Championship match against Naomi. The heels got rid of Naomi and focused their attention on Charlotte as they beat down The Queen as the crowd showered them with boos.

·        Before the DQ, Naomi and Charlotte had a very good Women’s Title match as it was more evenly matched than their tune-up bout last week. The action was fast-paced and crisp which bodes well for their inevitable PPV rematch down the road. Most importantly, the crowd was hot during the main event which is an encouraging sign that the women are capable of holding down the fort at a moment’s notice.

·        The DQ finish was expected because the mean girls are trying to put Charlotte in her place. Becky Lynch was nowhere to be found, but I expect that piece of the puzzle to play out next week because Natalya threatened Lynch to choosing the winning side or else.

·        The Women’s Division feels fresh with a lot of possibilities in terms of matchups heading into the summer. Charlotte being the babyface makes sense because she has other heels breathing down her neck. Plus, the fans want to cheer for her based on the constant “wooing” as of late. Unlike her initial babyface run in 2015, she has gained more experience as a wrestler and talker which has better prepared her for this moment. Knowing how WWE operates, Charlotte will turn 1000 times before she retires. Like Father, Like Daughter. It’s a tradition that will last forever.

·        Outside of the disastrous opening segment, SmackDown Live was a solid show for the most. The in-ring action ranged from decent to good while the Land of Opportunity mantra continues to ring true as Jinder Mahal continued his unbelievable ascent towards the main event scene while Breezango earned a shot at the SmackDown Tag Team Titles.

·        SD Live did a better job hyping Payback than their red counterpart last night. It feels like a joint PPV due to the inter-promotional matches featuring Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt in a House of Horrors Match and Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho for the United States Championship. It has made for awkward television at times, but the finish line is near. At least the creative team is doing a good job building up the Backlash PPV as a major standalone show.

·        My only criticism was that awful promo Dolph Ziggler cut on Shinsuke Nakamura that kicked off the show. If my memory serves me correctly, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode never brought up Michael Jackson to hype up their NXT Championship bouts against the King of Strong Style. This was such a WWE thing to do and it was executed poorly. Nakamura’s mystic took a minor hit, but he should recover nicely if he kicks Ziggler’s ass at Backlash and move on to bigger and better things. Is the Money in the Bank Ladder match next on the agenda? We shall see. Considering the shit he had to endure tonight, it’s a fine consolation prize.

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Raw Exposé: Night of the Dumpster - AKA Kalisto's Last Ride (Not Based on a Power Rangers Story)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from The Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. This is the last show before Payback and with the Superstar Shakeup blurring the brand split lines, it’s a tricky PPV to figure out because some wrestlers are trying to hype their matches alone while their opponents are on another show doing the same thing.

It’s awkward, but this should be a one-shot deal to wrap up outstanding storylines dating back to WrestleMania. Did WWE work out the kinks in terms of logic or was this a case of the blind leading the blind heading into the PPV in San Jose? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.

·        The Highlight Reel/Miz TV/Ambrose Asylum hybrid featuring Chris Jericho, The Miz, Maryse, and Dean Ambrose was a fun way to start the show.

·        The segment dragged at times, but I appreciate WWE remembering the Jericho-Ambrose feud from last year as Ambrose brought up how Jericho smashed Mitch the Plant over his head and how he returned the favor by ripping up Y2J’s Light Up Jacket. Jericho reminded Ambrose that he still owed him $15,000. Ambrose didn’t have any cash on hand, but he gave Jericho a jacket adorned with Christmas Lights as a peace offering.

·        Jericho put the Jacket on and struck a few poses while Miz whined about not getting a gift. Ambrose responded by nailed Miz with Dirty Deeds while Jericho put Maryse on LIST for marrying a stupid idiot as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a long talking segment, but I enjoyed it for the most part. Jericho’s material was so-so as his jokes about Kevin Owens were a little flat which did little to hype their United States Championship match at Payback. Things got better once Miz and Ambrose came out which ended the opener on a high note.

·        Matt Hardy defeated Sheamus with the Twist of Fate, but it wasn’t without controversy. Sheamus nailed Hardy in the face with a sick high knee. Hardy tried to counter with his finisher on the floor, but Sheamus laid him out with a rolling senton instead. Jeff tried to check on his brother, but Sheamus pushed him out of the way.

·        Jeff climbed on the ring apron to confront the Celtic Warrior, but Cesaro yanked him off the apron which led to the finish.

·        The Mutual Admiration Society between both teams was about to hit the skids, but cooler heads prevailed as everyone shook hands which kept the babyface vs. babyface dynamic intact heading into their Raw Tag Team Championship match on Sunday.

·        Jack Gallagher and Austin Aries defeated Neville and TJ Perkins when Aries nailed Perkins with the Discus Five Arm for the win. The match was short, but Aries maximized his minutes when he made the hot tag midway through the match.

·        Aries put on a one-man show when he took out Neville and TJP with a suicide dive. Aries was about to make TJP tap out to The Last Chancery, but Neville broke the hold in the nick of time. Gentleman Jack evened the odds when he nailed Neville with a head butt. TJP tried to capitalize on Gallagher knocking himself loopy, but Gallagher was alert enough to steer Perkins in Aries’ direction which set up the finishing sequence. Overall, this was a fine way to hype the Cruiserweight Championship match between Aries and Neville at Payback.

·        Did Kalisto use Kane’s old masks to create his new Lucha mask? Hmm…

·        The record will always show that Kalisto defeated Braun Strowman in a Dumpster Match. However, the victory became mute when Strowman destroyed Kalisto when he dropped him with a series of one-handed slams before tossing him against the barricade.

·        Strowman put Kalisto in the dumpster and pushed it up the ramp. WWE officials tried to stop Strowman as he strapped the dumpster shut. He pretended to head backstage only to push the dumpster off the stage as the segment came to an end.

·        The spot was nice, but it wasn’t spectacular because the drop wasn’t that steep. In comparison to Strowman’s recent feats of strength, The Dumpster spot was more meh than wow.

·        Strowman’s promo before the match was good as he tried to generate heel heat by calling the fans trash. At least the creative team is trying to get him over as a badass heel who should be jeered instead of cheered.

·        Bray Wyatt cut another rambling promo about Randy Orton leading up to their House of Horrors match at Payback. Yawn…

·        Dana Brooke defeated Alicia Fox when she dropped Fox with an ugly version of the Michinoku Driver for the win. The match was short, but it was still rough in spots.

·        After the match was over, Emma got in the ring and gave Brooke a half-hearted hug before heading backstage. That was odd…

·        Before the six-man tag team match featuring Enzo Amore, Big Cass, and Seth Rollins vs. Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, and Samoa Joe got underway, Anderson, Gallows, and Joe ambushed Enzo and Big Cass during their in-ring introductions. Cass went flying over the barricade while Anderson and Gallows took out Enzo with The Magic Killer onto the floor.

·        Seth Rollins ran out to make the save, but he was tripled teamed until Big Cass evened the odds.

·        After the commercial break, Kurt Angle announced that Enzo wasn’t medically cleared to compete. Angle added Finn Bálor to the match as the six man tag officially got underway.

·        Big Cass, Finn Bálor, and Seth Rollins defeated Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, and Samoa Joe when Rollins nailed Anderson with a knee to the face for the win.

·        The match started off slow as Bálor was in sell mode early on, but things picked up down the stretch. It appears that Rollins is retiring his Pedigree finisher because it’s a reminder of who he used to be before getting his much-needed epiphany a few weeks ago. Bálor’s interaction with Gallows and Anderson was nice and I hope WWE plays into their history in New Japan because the possibilities are endless in terms of storytelling and future feuds. *Cough* The Balor Club vs. The Shield *Cough*

·        Alexa Bliss powered through the “What?” chants and delivered a solid promo as she vowed to put an end to Bayley’s Cinderella Story at Payback. Bliss wanted to embarrass Bayley in her hometown by winning the Raw Women’s Championship while her father was sitting in the front row.

·        Sasha Banks came to her best friend’s defense and challenged Bliss to match. Bliss tried to dodge The Boss, but Banks clocked Bliss in the face to signal that the match was still on.

·        Banks defeated Bliss via count-out when Bliss decided to save her energy until Sunday.

·        Bayley tried to drag Bliss back in the ring, but Bliss ran for the hills. However, Bliss attacked Bayley from behind which added some heat leading up to their Women’s Championship match at Payback.

·        Banks chased Bliss away before checking on Bayley as the segment came to an end.

·        The promo exchange leading up Banks vs. Bliss was good. The creative team had to build up the Women’s Title match between Bayley and Bliss in one night. Considering the tight deadline, they managed to make it work. However, Bliss’ lines were recycled from her feud with Becky Lynch as the Cinderella comparison was a direct lift from a segment on SD Live last fall. Outside of that, the promo work was solid for the most part.

·        Apollo Crews pinned Curt Hawkins with the Spinout Powerbomb in a decent match. I guess Crews will be elevated to the main event next week after passing through Curt Hawkins’ Star Factory.

·        Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho vs. The Miz and his mystery partner ended with no clear winner as Bray Wyatt showed up to save Miz from getting dropped with Dirty Deeds on the announce table. Wyatt attacked Ambrose and nailed him with Sister Abigail which sent The Lunatic Fringe head first into the LED board.

·        Jericho tried to make the save, but he was double teamed by Miz and Wyatt.

·        Miz threw Jericho back in the ring only for Jericho to nail him with the Codebreaker. Wyatt laid out Jericho with Sister Abigail as Miz smiled like a Cheshire Cat.

·        Miz’s cockiness got the best of him as Wyatt took him out with Sister Abigail to complete the trifecta as Raw went off the air with Wyatt telling everyone to “Follow The Buzzards.”

·        The Good News: Bray Wyatt is not a Hollywood Elitist because the mere thought of him teaming up with The Miz would have been a classic case of character assassination.

·        The Bad News: The ending of the match was lame.  This was such a weak way to end the show. The main event was pretty one-sided with Miz getting his ass kicked for 95% of the match. Wyatt being the last man standing was fine, but it was counterproductive for a number of reasons.  

·        Ambrose gets beat up which means he should want a piece of Wyatt next week even though he’s been feuding with Miz since the Superstar Shakeup.

·        Jericho looks weak heading into his United States Title rematch against Owens because he hasn’t picked up any key wins to build momentum. With Y2J going on tour with Fozzy next month, he should’ve been built up as a legit contender instead of a lame duck opponent who has one foot out the door.

·        Miz looks like a chump without a clear sense of direction. Instead of Ambrose and Miz facing off for the IC Title, The Hollywood A-Lister is probably going to be on the receiving end of another ass whopping courtesy of Bálor at the Payback Kickoff Show. Coup de Grace, anyone?

·        As for Wyatt, he looks strong heading into his House of Horrors match against Randy Orton. However, the WWE Championship is not on the line which makes this camp fest extravaganza pointless outside of Wyatt picking up a moral victory to avenge the spirit of Sister Abigail. Regardless of the outcome, I’m glad the Wyatt-Orton saga is coming to an end because it’s way past its expiration date.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was pedestrian at best. The opening segment was entertaining, but the in-ring action was hit and miss. The go-home show didn’t give me added incentive to watch Payback on Sunday. The card looks solid, but it’s a show that is very skippable based on the so-so build.

·        On the bright side, WWE played it smart by keeping Roman Reigns off the show for another week. Braun Strowman has been built up like an indestructible monster in recent weeks. It is imperative that Strowman beats Reigns on Sunday. If not, it’s another questionable booking decision that puts his push into a state of flux once again. We shall see how it all plays out on Sunday.

·        The Payback PPV should be a good show, but the buildup leaves a lot to be desired terms of excitement and anticipation. Here’s hoping the wrestlers have their working boots on because they have to over deliver in order to make up for the uneven booking decisions over the past couple of weeks. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with another installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls! 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Comic Book Review: Harley Quinn #18, "Red Meat, Pt.2"

By: Jerry Montgomery
April 21, 2017

Harley Quinn #18
“Red Meat, Pt.2”

Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor
Pencils by: John Timms
Pencils, pgs. 1-3: Joseph Michael Linsner

Since moving to Coney Island and inheriting her very own apartment from a fellow
Arkham inmate, Harley has done just about everything from joining the local roller derby team, has taken on aliens, battled a rampaging zombie horde,  saved Christmas and even killed one of the Jokers (or at least, a Joker) when he came a courtin’. Yes, she’s done it all and all she’s been trying to do is pay her rent on time. Living with other zany tenants that live in her building, she’s made allies and friends that assist her in her wild and crazy adventures.

In the last issue of Harley Quinn and part 1 of the “Red Meat” story arc, a mayoral aide by the name of Madison is given the task by the Mayor himself to take care of the growing number of the homeless within the city. Don’t bore him with the details, just get it done! Therefore, Madison, thinking outside the box, hires a group of cannibals to take care of the problem. In the course of this radical and gruesome solution, Skipper, one of Harley’s good friends who happens to be homeless, comes up missing. Harley and company then come up with a plan to stake out Prospect Park, dressed as bums and find out what is happening. Harley ends up getting captured by the cannibals and it doesn’t look good for our heroes. On top of all this, two subplots are introduced as Harley’s parents announced that they are coming for a visit which has the love smitten Red Tool in a love overload and the deadly Harley Quinn obsessed, Harley Sinn is back, freshly released from prison and on the loose! We are also treated to part 1 of a backup story,  “Harley Loves Joker”. It’s a throwback tale of Batman: The Animated Series, Harley and Joker, complete with black and red harlequin costume. It details the beginnings of the biggest mistake of her beginning criminal career by leading the Batman to “Mistah J ‘s” hideout.

In Harley Quinn #18, the book opens to the year 2167 in Gotham City as another lucky arena contestant by the name of Devani is awarded the opportunity to travel back in time. So what’s the big deal?  Our lucky lady has won a chance to travel back to  21st  century Gotham City  to possibly meet with our present day heroes, even getting her own new Bat-inspired costume. And oh yeah, she gets to have a chance at killing public enemy #1 , according to this future, Harley Quinn and return to her own time a hero. Another new story arc is building up as well apparently and we haven’t even explored the other subplots in depth yet, so there’s plenty to look forward to!
In the  present day however,  the stakeout in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park that began last issue continues… though not quite as planned. Going undercover to find out where the city’s homeless have been disappearing to, poor Harley has fallen victim to the culprits responsible. As I said previously, not in the plan, but with Red Tool and Edgar “Eggy “ Fullerton Yeung, tagging along, what could possibly go wrong?! What happens when the Mayor finds out about Madison’s solution to the homeless? What can a drugged and tied up, “strapped and stashed” Harley do against this brutal band of cannibals? Now is not the time to lose your marbles and start talking to skinned and eaten friends! Can Red Tool reach Harley in time? Something tells me that hand cannon he’s toting around won’t go to waste. And last but not least, why is Eggy rowing a boat across a lake going to help?

In the backup story, Harley Loves Joker, the story continues as an amorous Harley is in the mood and is trying to share that with her “Puddin”, but he seems a little preoccupied. Just wait until Batman shows up…

The Verdict: Everybody is in love with Harley Quinn right now and her comic is a continued best seller ever month, so you cant go wrong with this title. Longtime writers, Palmiotti and Connor know tgeir stuff and continue to spin interesting adventures for Harley and set up future ones with plenty of subplots. The artwork is pretty good by John Timms and guest artist Joseph Michael Linsner of Cry For Dawn fame, the favorite title of heavy metal fanboys back in the 1990’s, for several pages. This issue will even satisfy your horror fan with the heavies played out as cannibals. The cannibal fetishists may come crawling out of the woodwork for this one as well! Lol! If you like your superheroes with a touch of zaniness, a dash of parody and a dollop of sexiness, then look no further, Harley Quinn #18 is what you’re looking for!