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Preview: Empress #7

Empress #7

(W) Mark Millar (A/CA) Stuart Immonen
Rated T+
In Shops: Nov 23, 2016
SRP: $5.99

This astounding series climax shows family turn against each other and old secrets crawl out of the woodwork as Morax finally hunts his wife and children down. An action-packed, gory end to the first volume of Millar and Immonen’s sci fi space opera.

empress__7-7

TV Review: Powers S2E9 Slain Dragons

Powers Season 2Powers start dropping from the sky and Walker (Sharlto Copley) suspects an old friend is behind it. Pilgrim (Susan Heyward), however, pursues “Ghost” believing he’s responsible. Calista (Olesya Rulin) confronts SuperShock (Michael Madsen) but the encounter causes her to reconsider being a Power.

Powers confirms what was pretty clear for a while, who’s killing the various Powers out there. It’s not too surprising and it’s a storyline we’ve seen played out numerous times in comics. What is that? I’m not going to spoil it in a review, we’ll save that until next episode’s review most likely.

But, this continues the pattern this season of storylines that are predictable (for example Kutter’s fate last episode) or utterly make no sense at all (Calista’s father deciding to rob a bank). It’s been a drifting season from one setup to the next without any of the scenes really enhancing the narrative at all.

We get some action sequences and learn a lot more about Diamond’s history, but overall it feels hollow like the writers weren’t quite sure to get to the confrontation that’s coming. They had ideas but failed to connect the dots into a cohesive story that gelled. Too many side tracks and easily to spot fake outs distracted from a season that could have been greatly simplified by focus just on origins and the present.

Once again Olesya Rulin’s acting distracts as she attempts to act both scared and broken in a segment that spotlights her. Unfortunately, she can’t act making the entire scene comedic in a sad sort of way. It’s distracting and completely takes me out of the episode. What’s supposed to be serious just fails miserably and becomes comedic and laughable.

Predictable. Bad acting. It’s all here!

The series is building towards a big showdown. Will it be unpredictable? Bets are no.

The series has such potential, but this episode is a perfect example of where the potential gets sidetracked and distractions detracts from the whole. The seasons has been full of ups and downs, and there’s just been too many downs.

Overall Score: 6.0

TV Review: Powers S2E8 Chasing Ghosts

Powers Season 2Walker (Sharlto Copley) learns that something isn’t quite right with SuperShock (Michael Madsen), while Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) and Kutter (Justice Leak) investigate an elusive “Ghost.” Calista’s (Olesya Rulin) estranged father unexpectedly comes to town.

Powers is a mix of good and bad, mostly falling on the bad end of things with this episode that does its best job at making it look like Michael Madsen’s SuperShock is crazy and also dealing with Calista’s father.

The middling part of the episode is Madsen who can act and does a decent job with what he’s given. That’s pretty limited to him mumbling to himself and wandering around as Walker slowly realizes not everything is right. It feels more like a possibly homeless person than anything really menacing and definitely does not give enough for Madsen to really do on the acting end of things.

Then there’s the return of Calista’s father who decides to commit a crime. Why? Mostly to get Calista to do something stupid and put her in danger. The plotline makes so little sense and the decisions made to deal with Calista’s father makes you question the entire competence of the police force. With so many other solutions that can easily be had and result in a positive outcome, you can only wonder why the show even thinks this was a good plot point, let alone good writing. It isn’t helped at all by acting that’s some of the worst of the season.

And the final negative of the episode is the ending with Pilgrim and Kutter which is so predictable it might as well had a billboard spelling things out. The writing is completely by the numbers for these two, and things have been telegraphed as to what would happen for quite some time now. These two and their relationship show off the complete lack of creativity along with a lack of coherence when it comes to the plot of the season.

We had three episodes that were actual quality and this one slides right back into old habits and lazy writing. I guess good things can’t last for long as this episode attests. Absolutely dreadful.

Overall Score: 6.05

TV Review: Powers S2E7 Origins

Powers Season 2The origins of SuperShock’s (Michael Madsen) complicated and mysterious relationship with Retro Girl are revealed, as Calista (Olesya Rulin), Sgt. Martinez (Raul Casso) and Zora (Logan Browning) team up to fill the Powers void left in her absence. The disgraced Senator Brown’s (Enrico Colantoni) body is discovered, catapulting newly reinstated detectives, Walker (Sharlto Copley) and Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) into the investigation.

Powers is getting good? That’s three episodes in a row that are pretty solid and quality television. It’s no longer hate watching for me, I’m actually enjoying it! Part of that is the series’ more focused episodes moving away from fights and special fx and instead dialing back to what it is, a cop show that just so happens to have superpowers.

The episode jumps between the present where the body of Senator Brown is discovered and the past showing the origin of SuperShock. There’s also some bits about the formation of a new super team.

The flashbacks are interesting in that they fill some gaps into the history of the Powers and especially how this world differs from ours. Up to this point we assumed everything is the same other than the existence of Powers, but this episode shows that there’s some history that’s a bit different. It’s a solid reveal and gives us an origin for a character in a series that has stayed away from origin stories.

The focus on the killer of the Senator is decent, but rather predictable as a suspect is named and we all know they’re not actually the killer. It just feels like something we all see a mile away.

That leaves us with the formation of the new team. This is the weakest part of the episode primarily due to the acting. Olesya Rulin as Calista stands out for her line readings that always feel very fake and rarely connect. Some time she’s good, most of the time that’s not the case. Luckily we don’t get a lot, but that emphasizes what we do get. It stands out.

The episode is actually a good one for a show that has been very uneven and is speeding along with a season that has so many threads going all over the place. If it comes together the season may redeem itself, but we have some time to go for that.

Overall Score: 7.05

TV Review: Powers S2EE6 Requiem

Powers Season 2As Calista (Olesya Rulin) is about to be crowned the newest shining star of the Powers universe by Conrad Moody III (Wil Wheaton), CEO of the most powerful Powers merchandising company on the planet, a valuable member of the community is murdered. With Walker (Sharlto Copley) and Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) suspended, they are powerless to stop the city from unraveling around them.

Powers has given us two good episodes in a row. By focusing on the crime at hand, the murder of the original Retro Girl, the episode keeps things simple in many ways and makes the cops feel like actual police. They use actual deduction and go over evidence, instead of running around like chickens with their heads cut off. It feels like actual intelligence is being used by the main characters.

Who the killer of the various Powers actually is isn’t that hard to figure out. The series has telegraphed that for quite some time. The reasoning behind it all feels rather idiotic though. I won’t ruin it, but it has to go up there as one of the worst plans by a villain ever. This one makes Cobra Commander look like a genius.

The episode is absolutely an improvement from what’s come before though. Even with the idiotic plan at the center of the season. Generally the acting is good, or at least better than a lot of what we’ve seen in the first season as well as this season’s current episodes.

There’s some good here. There’s a death that does feel like it comes out of nowhere, but it’s a character who was definitely a drag on the series. There’s also an ending that’s a bit surprising (and hopefully it’s not undone next episode). With that and the acting, this is one of the stronger episodes of the season and of the series as a whole.

The premise? Really silly.

The acting? Better than normal.

The special fx? Used at a minimum, so a big improvement.

Some twists? Yup, there’s some good things in there that I didn’t expect.

Overall? Two good episodes in a row and hopefully the series continues along this path.

Overall Score: 7.05

TV Review: Powers S2EE5 Shaking the Tree

Powers Season 2In the aftermath of a catastrophic political scandal, Walker (Sharlto Copley) and Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) investigate a high-priority suspect and uncover shocking government connections. Meanwhile Triphammer (Andrew Sensenig) is determined to create a new Powers team, recruiting Zora (Logan Browning) and a new protégé, Sgt. Tiberio Martinez (Raul Casso).

Powers has a good episode (seems every few are good doesn’t it) with a quieter more focused episode that gives us a few plotlines in smaller doses. Most of the episode is dedicated to Walker and Pilgrim’s investigation into the murder of Power Girl and their zeroing in on the likely culprit Heavy. This spirals into a vast conspiracy of government sponsored Powers and the attempt to rehabilitate and control some of them.

There’s also Triphammer’s attempt to build a new team which devolves mostly into scenes of Zora and Martinez sparring with each other. This actually looks good and it’s clearly where the budget was focused because….

The final plot thread is focused on Calista who is being lured into being represented be an agency and her dealing with Conrad Moody played by Wil Wheaton. While the Zora/Martinez fights are good, this section, especially a laughably bad use of a 3D hologram at the end, is the opposite. With bad acting and equally bad special fx, you get the vibe folks weren’t quite sure how to progress with things in this plot aspect.

As usual the episode is mixed, but in this case the majority is really good. By focusing on Walker and Pilgrim’s investigation we get some of the best acting from Copley and Heyward in the entire series. The progression and reaction by some of their shaking things up feels natural and really well paced. For a show based on folks with super powers, it’s this grounded episode that feels like the best this season by far.

Enrico Colantoni as Senator Bailey Brown really is the highlight of the episode giving the best performance of them all when he eventually turns up and sort of spills the beans.

This is easily the best episode this season. It feels like an actual detective show with some solid corruption aspects that pulls it all together. It’s clear there’s a lot of shenanigans to go and that the killer of Retro Girl is still to be revealed, but if the series kept its focus like this, it shows it’d be much stronger for it.

Overall Score: 7.2

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

The Fix #3Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Anthony

Top Pick: Island #8 (Image Comics) – Island has been a great ride from the beginning featuring a very wide, eclectic array of comic creators in this anthology series. Each issue has some stories that continue in segments with some one shot shorts as well that are brilliantly organized and curated by creators Brandon Graham and Emma Rios. Island has yet to disappoint with content that can be eye-popping visually, psychologically provoking, and socially relevant. This issue features stories from Johnnie Christmas and Simon Roy.

Empress #3 (Icon/Marvel)Mark Millar, hate him or love him, has always released some titles with a refreshing perspective and some gorgeous artwork in this sci-fi based story of a man that has taken on the task of helping a wife and her three children escape from an overzealous husband/leader. This time around, Stuart Immonen has been killing it on pencils with some added detailing on inks by Wade von Grawbadger and expressive colouring by Ive Svorcina. The second issue really kicked up the action a notch and ended with quite the cliffhanger. It will be exciting to see what kind of adventures the group gets into this time around and will hopefully have some calming periods to get to know a bit more on the characters as well.

The Fix #3 (Image Comics)The Fix is one of the funniest comics put out in 2016 that should be no surprise to fans of the creative team of Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber. Adding colourist Ryan Hill to the mix has really created this neo-noir vibe with a dash of anti-hero douchebaggery and a tinge of unexpected splashes of violence. This series has sold out of both the first two issues (with this week releasing the third printing of Issue #1) so it has proven itself to be a pleaser thus far that is sure to continue its hilarity and ridiculousness. Corrupt cops Ray and Mac have found themselves in quite the junction of scenarios so one can only imagine what will happen now that a police dog named Pretzels has been thrown in the mix.

The Wicked + The Divine #20 (Image Comics) – The Gods have been consistently fighting against one another over the last few issues ever since Laura has come back and it appears as if the buildup will keep getting higher and higher. Deaths are abound for sure. Wic Div has one of the most impressive creative teams for Image that keeps the readers guessing as to what exactly is going to happen next. As long as Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson grace the cover and interiors (with the occasional striking guests) Wic Div should be on your monthly pull list.

Wolf #8 (Image Comics)Ales Kot is one of the most intriguing, complex, labyrinthian writers working in comics today. Wolf has been a bit of an up and down ride but the last issue really put the train back onto the tracks. The artwork by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz and colours by Lee Loughridge‘s give this title a real punk edge to it and will hopefully push the limits after the ending to Issue #7.

 

Alex

Top Pick: Voracious #4 (Action Lab: Danger Zone) – Man discovers he can travel through time. Instead of using it to become rich with gambling, he decides to become a dinosaur hunter and open a restaurant. This is why I love comics; because this actually works.

4001 A.D.: Bloodshot #1 (Valiant) – 4001 A.D. has been a brilliant event so far, but the stand alone tie ins from Valiant can always be hit or miss depending on how big a fan of the specific character you are. I’m a middling fan of Bloodshot, so this should be interesting.

Howard the Duck #8 (Marvel) – One of the more fun series that Marvel is putting out these days (at least that I’m reading), this is usually a snark filled comic that usually one of the best I read in the week it’s released.

 

Mr. H

Top Pick: The Flash: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics) – Yes, yes, yes the real West is back! I have been so pumped and still coming off the high that was the Rebirth special. My conduit to comics is back in full force. I don’t care where this goes. I just want to be in the fast lane for it!

Action Comics #957 (DC Comics) – Like Wally returning so has the real Kal-El. I am thrilled for this and who says you can’t have family in comics? I am intrigued on where Lex will fit, will they try to keep him a true Man of Steel or is he plotting the one true Superman’s downfall.

Detective Comics #934 (DC Comics) – The road to the mega epic #1000 starts here! Truth be told I’m not on fire about this title but it has enough solicited elements to pique my interest. A new Bat-Team could be what Gotham ordered. However with a title like Detective Comics I’d rather see Ralph Dibney on the billing, but hey time will tell…

 

Brett

Top Pick: Sheriff of Babylon #7 (Vertigo) – One of the best comics on the market right now. Absolutely amazing storytelling that’s a murder mystery set in modern Iraq. There’s actually not as much politics as you’d think, just fantastic pacing and subtle details that add to the complete package.

Green Lantern: Edge of Oblivion #6 (DC Comics) – This miniseries wraps up and I can’t wait to see how it ends, especially since its been a veiled allegory about modern day terrorism and religious extremism. Plus… who gets back to modern times and how!?

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #1 (BOOM! Box/DC Comics) – The first issue is a cute combination of the two series as the groups come together to solve a mystery. There’s a weird “Scooby Doo” vibe about it all, but the first issue works really well and this should be a fun miniseries.

Prometheus: Life and Death #1 (Dark Horse) – I’m a fan of Dark Horse’s new Alien/Predator/Prometheus universe and their intertwining miniseries have been fantastic. This one has been an interesting build so far and with this first issue, we finally get the beginning of the last piece of the puzzle.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #3 (Marvel) – If you enjoyed Star Wars: The Force Awakens and want to get even more of the story about Poe, this is the comic for you. It peals back the curtain a bit on this newer aspect of the Star Wars universe, and answers some questions left dangling by the film.

 

Paul

Top Pick: All-New X-Men #10 (Marvel) – I’ve been enjoying this Apocalypse War storyline running through the X books, and I am looking forward to seeing Evan, now in the past, coming face to face with En Sabah Nur, who will one day become Apocalypse.  Can Evan change the past, and stop Apocalypse from ever being?  Will this take Evan down the path to becoming the next Apocalypse? Can I possibly use the word Apocalypse anymore in this blurb? I am looking forward to seeing where this leads.

The Vision #8 (Marvel) – Uh oh…the Avengers know everything that has happened with Vision and his family; the violence, the deaths and the lies.  And now they’re coming to find some answers.  I don’t see this going very well, but as with every issue in this series, I’m sure it’s going to be a hell of a read.

Wacky Raceland #1 (DC Comics) – Do you remember the Wacky Racers from Saturday morning cartoons?  I do too…and this is not them!  The world has gone to hell and racers trek across the remains of their word for survival.  It’s Death Race meets Hannah-Barbera and I for one will be strapping in for this crazy ride.  Just check out Muttly on the cover!  This is NOT the cartoon I remember.

TV Review: Powers S2E3 Hell Night

Powers Season 2Commander Cross (Adam Godley) unofficially reopens the Retro Girl case, ordering Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) and Walker (Sharlto Copley) to lead a covert investigation that may put them in a life-threating situation. Meanwhile, Los Angeles goes in lockdown mode as gang warfare reaches a fever pitch, pulling the revered Power, SuperShock (Michael Madsen) out of retirement.

Powers has things melting down (storywise and show wise) as gangs begin to riot and battle in the streets of Los Angeles. Much like Police Academy, why these gangs and riots all exist on one street and none of the side streets is a mystery. The riot scenes are woefully bad with stereotypical shots that we’ve seen a million times over.

Things aren’t just eye rolling in the streets, but also behind the scenes as Walker gets a team together to figure out who killed Retro Girl. This includes torturing a person to the point his head explodes. Scanners moment aside, the fact the cops have to turn to torture to get anything done is groan inducing.

And that head explosion. There’s been some bad special fx on this show, but this one is beyond bad. I can harp on the bad makeup, but this is laughably bad and feels like it’s been outshined in every way from what we see on SyFys Face Off. Add in the New Retro Girl’s bad green screen flight, a building collapse where I’ve seen model train sets that are more realistic, and it’s just bad in this department, like people don’t know how to budget on the show.

Again, there’s some good, but this episode has a lot of bad, falling into old habits that will hopefully die fast.

Overall Score: 6.95

TV Review: Powers S2E2 Funeral of the Century

Powers Season 2On the day of Retro Girl’s funeral, Detectives Walker (Sharlto Copley) and Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) prepare to combat violence between rival gangs The Quantums and The Hacks. Hoping to fill her place, Calista (Olesya Rulin) makes her public debut as New Retro Girl. Still reeling from Retro Girl’s death, and with her murder officially closed, Walker doggedly pursues a suspect he believes to be the real murderer.oks to avenge the woman he loved.

Powers continues its improved streak to two episodes as the funeral for Retro Girl takes place and tensions rise all around. It’s a very slow build, but the episode again has some strengths and weaknesses.

The episode does a decent job of continuing to build this world and the new season, though the fake outs of who killed Retro Girl feel obvious and a bit forced in ways. Depicting things as not rosy and there being an impact with the death of a hero feels much more realistic that just having an entire city mourn. There’s a power vacuum and this episode attempts to address that.

The bad as usual is the acting which just feels flat throughout with few showing a range of emotions. Everyone is just dour and angry and I’m a bit surprised the whole world isn’t steeped in grays and browns to match the mood.

The special fx again are mixed with flight being the major issue of the show. Supergirl has shown how to do it right, but this show just falls back on horrible green screen that looks like something I could create on my computer.

The episode again is an improvement on last year, but that’s not saying a whole lot consider last year was a garbage fire. But, that doesn’t mean it’s good. The show is watchable, and fills a void in the summer of comic based television shows, but considering the source material, so much more can be done and so much more could be done that’s interesting.

We’ll see where the season goes but judging off of these first two episodes it’s just very middling television.

Overall Score: 7.0

TV Review: Powers S2E1 Caracas, 1967

Powers Season 2The world is turned upside down by the seemingly impossible and horrifying murder of Retro Girl (Michelle Forbes). Pressure is on the Powers Division to bring the perpetrator to justice, but when Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) is pulled off the case for being too close to the victim, and may be a suspect himself, he must go off-the-books to avenge the woman he loved.

Powers is shockingly back for a second season on the Playstation Network after what I consider a poor and disastrous first season.

The first episode of this second season isn’t the trainwreck that was the first season, but it still has a long way to go before the quality of the show matches the quality of the source material. Part of that is the episode dialing things back a bit to focus specifically on the murder of Retro Girl and setting things up for viewers who may have not watched the first season.

The episode does a solid job in catching people up and clearly stating where everyone lays with what’s happened, as well as the implications of Retro Girl’s death.

There’s still some bad. The special fx are still laughable and is apparent with Calista (Olesya Rulin) trying out her new abilities. The scene is so bad, especially when compared to other comic television series. It’d be one thing if the show had a more stylized look ala Sin City that we see for a second in Walker driving and it’s not all bad. There’s some solid stuff in the dark where it’s harder to see the actual computer work, but overall there’s just an odd inconsistency of it all.

The acting too isn’t quite there with the writing trying to make up for what the actors don’t seem to deliver. There’s some decent moments, but something is still very off about it all.

The first episode was an improvement on last season, but we still have a long way to go and in this episode you can still see some of the issues that have plagued the series.

Overall Score: 7.05

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