A Divergence #1 Review – The New Batman, a New Era for Superman, and More Mobius

Divergence #1 (2015)TITLE: Divergence #1
AUTHORS: Scott Snyder, Gene Luen Yang, Geoff Johns.
PENCILLERS: Greg Capullo, John Romita Jr., Jason Fabok.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: Free Comic Book Day Release
RELEASED: May 2, 2015

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

This year, we actually got something nice from DC for Free Comic Book Day. Not only do we have three talented writers matched with three equally talented artists, but the three mini-stories we’re given are actually pretty amazing! Snyder, Yang, and Johns are all in top form today, and if these stories are any indication of what’s to come post-Convergence, then I think I might just take a look.

Divergence #1 seeks to set up the new status quo for Batman, Superman, and the Justice League after Convergence. Batman gets top billing, as he often does these days. In “The Rookie”, Gotham City without Batman has thankfully not descended into chaos and fire following the events of Batman #40. It’s actually pretty refreshing to see Gotham at peace for once, though the narrating TV reporter speaks of unhealed wounds. Indeed, Capullo treats us to a beautiful splash page of a crowd of Gothamites shining miniature Bat Signals in the sky, looking positively sullen.

Batman, Divergence, Greg CapulloBut all hope is not lost! The Hillary Clinton-esque Geri Powers appears to reassure the citizens of Gotham City that a new Batman is about to be born. Who’s behind the cowl this time? I think I’ll leave that for you readers to find out for yourselves. But I’ll tell you this: It’s equal parts astounding and amusing. It was also nice to see the seeming end of Batman through the point-of-view of the ordinary, mundane folks like the reporters and cops. The inner circle of the Bat-family is nowhere in sight, except for the new “Batman.”

In “Exposed,” we’re introduced to Gene Luen Yang’s take on Superman. We start with Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen chatting sometime after Clark’s had his secret identity outed by Lois Lane. To top it all off, he’s operating with weakened powers. In my opinion, Superman has behaved in pretty much every single New 52 appearance as an irrepressible jerkhat. This includes Geoff Johns’ run on Justice League, which features Superman and his fellow heroes engaging in petulant bickering while, you know, saving the world.

Divergence #1, Superman, John Romita Jr. So Superman here is kind of a jerk, understandably so. But he then beats up this super-strong thug who tries to kill him and some innocent bystanders. At least he tried to avoid the fight, and he actually saved some people. Jimmy Olsen then plasters pictures of the fight all over social media, and excrement hits the fan for the Man of Steel. He then tells off Lois Lane when she tries to help him.

I like Yang’s story, but I don’t like his Superman. Yang’s a talented writer, but I wish the people at DC would get over themselves and get the message that their heroes don’t all have to be jerks. Superman is one such hero, and he’s a good place to start. At the very least, the story was still pretty fun. Yang’s writing style is free of any grim-and-gritty pretentions, a theme reinforced by the bright, easy-lined artwork of John Romita Jr.

And that brings us to the final story in this issue: “The Other Amazon.” Fittingly enough, this story by Geoff Johns focuses primarily on the lore of Wonder Woman, using it to highlight the origin of The Anti-Monitor, a.k.a. Mobius. The long and short of it is that this rogue Amazon named Myrina gives birth to Mobius, whose father is revealed to us at the end, and we get a preview of Darkseid War. She will apparently be a major player in this latest hullaballoo. I really hope that this will end up being a feather in Wonder Woman’s cap. From what we see here, it certainly looks likes it will be the case.

Divergence #1, Wonder Woman, Jason FabokThe mini-story itself does its job well. It gives us a window into what’s going on in Darkseid War, and makes you want to check it out. It actually looks pretty epic! On the other hand, I’m beginning to get fed up with these Geoff Johns-led super-mega-events. First there was Blackest Night, and then Flashpoint, Trinity War, Forever Evil, etc. I mean really, when will it end? At least Jason Fabok’s art was nice. It manages to be bright and flashy even when most of the background is dark brownish and grayish.

On the whole, this Free Comic Book Day issue was by no means of low quality. DC really invested a lot into this issue, bringing in some real heavy hitters, and boy, did they hit hard. Divergence #1 gave us three engaging, entertaining stories with lovely artwork and solid writing. This is a far cry from last year’s Free Comic Book Day issue, where they just reprinted the origin of Chris Kent. That was just lazy.

Fortunately, Divergence #1 is anything but.

Image 1 from dreamwidth.org. Image 2 from weirdsciencedccomicsblog.wordpress.com. Image 3 from bleedingcool.com.

Follow Levi Sweeney on Twitter @levi_sweeney, or at his blog, The Stuff of Legend.

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Sami Zayn’s Big Break? Plus, Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Sami Zayn, John Cena, Raw, April 4, 2015Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Sami Zayn answers John Cena’s US Title open challenge after being introduced by Bret Hart. Firstly, I have to give John Cena credit for his ability to ad-lib. That crowd was all over him, but he went with the flow. Like him or not, he’s great at it.

What a career moment for Sami Zayn. He pops up on Raw, in his home town no less, introduced by Bret Hart no less, facing John Cena no less! I was actually a little irritated they started this match during the commercial break. I didn’t want to miss any of this one.

So was Zayn’s shoulder injury a work? Were they setting up a weakness for his title match against Kevin Owens? I’ve got to believe that’s the case, considering how obvious they made everything from the trainer looking at him to the referee throwing up the X sign. Either that, or it wasn’t that serious an injury. In any event, Zayn gave the casual fans more than enough to want to see him on the main roster. It’s simply a question of when. Needless to say, this segment stole the show.

John Cena, Sami Zayn, Raw, April 4, 2015Cena was obviously great here too. But after seeing him do it a few times, I’m not a fan of the “springboard stunner.” The obvious Steve Austin factor aside, the move doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, especially for a guy like John Cena.

Kane: “I don’t believe I can allow the WWE World Heavyweight Champion to do nothing while his opponents are in action.” Um, that’s exactly what WWE did when Brock Lesnar was the champion. I’m just sayin’.

Seth Rollins has been the champion for a little while now, and back in the rhythm of having a WWE Champion who defends the title every month. I can’t say I particularly miss having a no-show champion for months at a time. But I do miss that special big fight feel that surrounded Brock’s title defenses, and part of that did indeed have to do with the title not being defended every month. With the WWE Network being free for new subscribers in May, just as it was in April, and we’re basically giving another big show away for free, maybe now is the time to experiment with these pay per views. For instance, the King of the Ring concept could have been a great way to save Rollins’ next title defense until June. But that opportunity is gone. Maybe find some sort of special attraction?

Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, WWE Raw, 05/04/2015Incidentally, is it time to find something else to call these pay per views? After all, they’re obviously trying as hard as they can to ween us off pay per view, and on to the network.

Dean Ambrose added to Payback main event after defeating Seth Rollins. Love it. Ambrose deserves to be in the main event scene as much as anybody. Rollins is obviously going to retain at Payback anyway, so there’s really no harm in adding Ambrose to the mix. Especially if he isn’t pinned. Hell, a Rollins vs. Ambrose PPV main event would be much more intriguing than seeing him against Orton or Reigns at this point. They consistently have great matches, case in point, the match we saw on Raw.

Cesaro shines in tag match against The Ascension. In case you weren’t counting, that was 10 consecutive uppercuts to Konner, and the crowd was obviously loving it. And of course, the giant swing is always over. If you’re wondering why Tyson Kidd and Cesaro are babyfaces now, look no further than what we saw in this match.

King Barrett, Raw, 05/04/2015Bad News Barrett returns to Raw as King of the Ring. Yup. Called that one. So here we go. Barrett has some new life breathed into him, and I like the pairing with Neville. That makes it easy for Barrett to play the bully. Now the question becomes: Can Barrett stay healthy, and remain hot as a heel long enough to break through to the next level?

Tamina Snuka returns to Raw, attacks the Bella Twins alongside Naomi. The sad thing is Tamina and Naomi were supposed to be the heels here. But if you’re a couple of dominant chicks who beat the crap out of the Bellas, you’re babyfaces as far as I’m concerned. The “family” aspect of Naomi and Tamina’s connection is interesting, and makes me wonder what will happen to the Usos when they make it back to TV. Could we see a heel Samoan faction? That’d be something to watch…

Tensions continue to mount between Rusev and Lana. I’m really hoping they don’t break these two up. They’re such a great act, and while Rusev has improved tremendously from a personality standpoint, taking Lana away from him would be a big negative. I’m hoping this all turns out to be a ruse, and she ends up staying with Rusev at Payback.

Ryback, Raw, 05042015Fans chant “Goldberg!” at Ryback during his in-ring promo. I respect Ryback for calling the Montreal fans out on this, as it’s long since gotten old. I’m sure Bray Wyatt will end up beating Ryback whenever they end up clashing. But still, a program with Bray looks good for Ryback, who’s obviously looking to get that next tier. Whether the fans will ever take him serious enough for that to happen is another story.

Other Assorted Ponderings:

Floyd Mayweather defeats Manny Pacquiao in massive boxing main event. For the first time in a long time, boxing was culturally relevant again this past Sunday. The sheer amount of buzz for this fight was astounding, even if the fight itself wasn’t the greatest. It drew so many people who would otherwise have been entirely indifferent to boxing, myself included. It actually made me jealous that pro wrestling hasn’t had a moment like that in so long. The last one I can think of was probably when Mike Tyson (another boxer, obviously) was involved with Wrestlemania XIV, and that was more than 15 years ago. I can’t even imagine what it would take to carry wrestling to that point…

Global Force Wrestling to begin revealing their roster at press conference Wednesday. I’m very interested to see who Jeff Jarrett has been able to attract to GFW. There have to be some notable names on there for drawing power. It’ll definitely be worth checking out.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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A Batman #40 Review – Dead Again

Batman #40, Greg CapulloTITLE: Batman #40
AUTHOR: Scott Snyder
PENCILLER: Greg Capullo
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: April 29, 2015

***WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Batman #40 and the Endgame storyline.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m not as big a fan of the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo Batman run as a lot of comic book readers. But no one can deny they’ve got big, ballsy ideas. The Court of Owls, Flappy Face Joker, Zero Year, etc. For better or worse, they’re willing to take risks.

Hell, the finale to their Endgame story was so big and ballsy neither Batman or The Joker survived it.

When we open Batman #40, The Dark Knight and his surrogate family have teamed up with the likes of The Penguin, Killer Croc, Bane, and other foes to fight back against The Joker and his deadly virus that has turned most of Gotham into sadistic laughing zombies. But in the end, it all comes down to Batman and The Joker, in a fight that will irrevocably change Gotham City forever…Or not. Maybe they’ll be back in three months. This is a mainstream superhero comic, right?

Batman #40, Batman vs. Joker, Greg CapulloWhile I am fairly critical of the run Snyder and Capullo have had since the New 52 reboot, it’s tough to deny the quality of Capullo’s work. His art has a visceral quality that often sticks with you for awhile. That’s very much on display in the brutal and bloody fight we see hero and villain engage in here. It’s very reminiscent of Frank Miller’s work in The Dark Knight Returns, to which Snyder and Capullo have paid tribute time and time again during their run. Interestingly enough, the Returns fight ended with the Joker having a Batarang in his eye, and the Endgame fight it’s Batman with a playing card in the eye.

The sheer ugliness of the fight was unexpected. But it does fit the idea of The Joker finally taking the gloves off and coming after his “former friend” with everything he’s got. In terms of Mr. J, Capullo does a fantastic job bringing him across the emotional spectrum. From sheer joy, to rage, to desperation. The character is rendered with such bulbous yellow eyes and these shark-like rows of gigantic teeth. This is why Capullo is one of the defining Batman artists of the last decade.

Batman #40, Greg Capullo, JokerThe issue revolves around Batman trying to extract a chemical called dionesium from The Joker’s spine. Dionesium is among the substances that has allowed characters like Vandal Savage and Ra’s al Ghul to live as long as they have. The idea is that after Death of the Family, Joker found a large pool of it in the caves under Gotham, which healed him and restored his face. As a plot point, this is fine. The man cut his own face off. There was obviously going to be some kind of magic comic book cure for him. What I don’t like is the way Endgame makes a mystery out of whether The Joker is this mysterious mythical figure called “The Pale Man,” who’s been around for centuries. In earlier issues we see Joker pop up in old photos, which is never entirely explained. And even at the very end, when the idea has been disproven, Batman mocks him for it.

I understand what Snyder is going for here in terms of The Joker’s cause, and the idea that a mere mortal like Batman can’t control the endless, eternal chaos and randomness of our world. But I dislike the notion that Batman and The Joker aren’t equals on the mortal playing field. These two characters both stand for something very powerful, and very human. The fact that they’re both mere men is important, because it plays into the relatability of their ideals. In theory, anyone could be Batman or The Joker, not because they don’t have super powers, but because they’ve both made very real, very human choices about their lives. Making The Joker an immortal character tarnishes a portion of that human element.

Batman #40, two-page spreadPlus, we all knew he wasn’t “The Pale Man” anyway. So why waste time on it in an otherwise intriguing and compelling story?

There’s also a nitpick I can’t resist here: Why is The Penguin involved in street fight (shown left)? If he’s firing off a bunch of trick umbrella gimmicks, that’s one thing. But he appears to just be fighting like everybody else. That’s a little out of his element, isn’t it? Just sayin’…

Flaws notwithstanding, Batman #40 is a nice finale to the Endgame story, which of course takes us into the whole “Robot Suit Batman” thing they’re starting soon (We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.) We can all make whatever arguments we want about whether it’s a quality issue or not. But for obvious reasons, it’s got historic value.

Image 1 from blastr.com. Images 2 and 3 from newsarama.com.

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Billy Corgan, Roman Reigns vs. Big Show, and Other Mid-Week Wrestling Ponderings

Billy CorganBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Smashing Pumpkins founder Billy Corgan joins TNA as a “Senior Producer.” Yet another baffling choice made by the higher-ups in TNA. Corgan may be a star in the music industry, but what sort of track record does he have that merits him being brought into the creative end of a wrestling company? Yes, he’s been involved in some indie promotions, and is apparently a life-long fan. That’s great. But why would TNA invest in him of all people? What great success of Corgan’s can we point to and say, “He made that happen. Imagine what he could do for TNA!” Is he going to produce an A&E reality show about Impact that gets scrapped and never airs?

This just seems like yet another attempt by TNA to hitch their wagon to a star and grab headlines in a feeble attempt to seem relevant. I have no desire to see TNA fail, nor should any wrestling fan in their right mind. But Billy Corgan? Come on…

Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, TNAI hate to beat a dead horse here, but it bears repeating. To me, TNA sold its soul in 2009 and 2010 when they brought in Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and that whole crew. If you look back at the company between 2004 and that early 2009 period, there was no shortage of established stars (Jeff Jarrett, Sting, Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash, etc.). But TNA was also the place you’d see these newer, fresh talents like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal, James Storm, Robert (now Bobby) Roode, etc. You could also see some of the best women’s wrestling in the United States. The creative wasn’t fantastic, but the performances of these awesome wrestlers were sufficient to put eyes on the product. TNA, despite its flaws, was a cool place to be.

But Dixie Carter and the TNA higher ups were seemingly so fixated on reaching WWE’s level of popularity that they sold their soul in a feeble attempt to re-create the Monday Night Wars and boost ratings. Guys like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Eric Bischoff wound up drawing attention away from the new stars, which left us with an awkwardly focused product.

TNA, Destination AmericaAnd now, five years later, where are they? TNA’s deal with Spike is gone, and many fans now have to fight to even find them on Destination America. Hogan, Bischoff, and Flair are all gone, as are many of the talents that helped build the company in the first place. Styles, Christopher Daniels, Joe, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Velvet Sky, Madison Rayne. Gone, gone, all gone.

That’s not to say TNA is incapable of producing good television. In fact, during their last several weeks on Spike, and thus far on Destination America, they’ve produced some pretty good shows. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. But God knows it’s better than most of what they’ve been giving us over the last five years.

As for Corgan, I’ll now direct you to an interview he did with Josh Matthews (via Skype) a few days ago…

Whether Corgan is this creative genius or not, people need to remember that one person can’t single-handedly change the course of a wrestling promotion. As an organization, you’ve got to have a a vision and a direction you want to go in, and you’ve got to have talents on and off camera that can put make that vision a reality. One man isn’t going to change that, no matter how many records he’s sold…

WWE Extreme Rules 2015, The Big Show, Roman ReignsRoman Reigns and The Big Show earn praise for their Last Man Standing Match at Extreme Rules. After hearing all the buzz about this match, I went back and re-watched it on the WWE Network. It was easily the best match the two have ever had, which granted isn’t saying much. At times it was, as expected, slow. But the psychology early on was interesting, with Show drawing heat from the crowd by breaking all the weapons. Also, I’ll always give credit to show for taking a lot of big bumps that he really doesn’t have to. Reigns throwing him off the top rope to the canvas was one example. But think about all the superplexes he’s taken over the years.

We got to see some nice stuff from Roman Reigns here. He had some nice ferocity with those hose chair shots he gave to Show, and of course, that spear through the table. Plus, hopefully that bump through the table got him some respect from the smarks.

All in all, it was a good match. Not a classic by any means, but a much better match than what I expected from those two.

Mick FoleyMick Foley’s Cheap Pops special airs on the WWE Network. The network seems to be hitting its stride these days. Specials like this one, the Chris Jericho interviews, and Renee Young’s new Unfiltered series are enough to keep me subscribed for at least another month.

Foley is such a great wordsmith. Even though he’s not really doing stand-up comedy anymore, when you put a mic in his hands he always manages to be entertaining. I’d certainly be open to another Foley special. Heck, with talents like Jim Ross and Shawn Michaels doing one-man shows of sorts, I’d say give them the platform as well. This is the sort of thing devout wrestling fans want to see, and will keep people watching the network.

Image 1 from riffyou.com. Image 2 from wrestlingforum.com. Image 3 from miamiherald.com. Images 4 and 5 from wwe.com.

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A Convergence #3 Review – A Villain Who Shouldn’t Speak

Convergence #3TITLE: Convergence #3
AUTHOR: Jeff King
PENCILLER: Stephen Segovia. Cover by Ivan Reis.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 22, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Need to catch up on Convergence? Check out issues #0, #1, and #2.

My patience with the main Convergence title is wearing thin, and the nostalgia appeal is losing its luster. This book needs to up the intrigue, and fast.

The heroes of Earth-2 have met the ominous Deimos, who claims to hold the key to freeing them from Telos’ reign of terror. Meanwhile, the Kryptonian city of Kandor has refused to participate in Telos’ perverse tournament. It’s a decision that will cost them dearly. Another costly decision? The Batman of Earth-2’s decision to return to the group after travelling to the pre-New 52 version of Gotham City. He’s been followed by a number of familiar, villainous faces. In the end, blood will be spilled.

Convergence #3, Stephen SegoviaLike last issue, Convergence #3 pulls a Batman trick out of the hat by hauling a bunch of pre-New 52 Batman villains into the picture. All things considered, most of the pre-New 52 Batman villains aren’t that different from the old ones. I imagine that’s why Doctor Hurt, one of the primary foes from Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, is heavily spotlighted here. A certain clown prince also makes an appearance, in a nod to The Killing Joke that could have severe ramifications on the plot going forward.

This scene is interesting, but it falls under the category of “Gratuitous Bat-Appearances.” Much like the Batcave scene from issue #2, it feels like Jeff King is shoving a bunch of Batman stuff at us to keep us interested, because the primary storyline, despite it’s cosmic implications, isn’t as interesting as it should be. I’m curious to see how much Batman imagery pops up as Convergence continues, particularly as it relates to Earth-2 Dick Grayson and alternate versions of his wife Barbara Gordon.

Nightwing and Flamebird popped up in this issue, and showed us what happens to the cities that choose not to fight. This was a cool idea, which King played out using a pair of classic DC characters. Unfortunately, Telos’ generic, hokey villain dialogue waters down the proceedings a bit. At times he comes off more as a bratty kid than an intergalactic war monger.

Convergence #3, Telos, Nightwing and FlamebirdI picked a few gems to illustrate my point…

– “You will do as I command. You have no choice.”
– “Opposing me gets you nothing but death!”
– “Let this be a lesson…to those foolish enough to challenge me.”

Lame. Is Brainiac back yet?

Oh, and Deimos takes the rest of the Earth-2 heroes to Skartaris, which again, I had to Google to understand it’s relevance. I imagine many other readers (the ones who are still paying attention, that is), did the same thing.

Convergence #3, page 2Maybe Convergence is secretly a big ploy to get readers to miss the New 52 universe, which so many of us who loved the pre-2011 continuity have complained about so much. If that’s the case, I’ll give DC credit: Their plan worked. While this story has it’s share of intrigue, I’m ready to go back to my regularly scheduled programming. The New 52 universe is flawed as hell, but at least I’m invested in what’s going on. This story has a bunch of characters I only kinda/sorta know, and is based around a multiverse full of worlds I mostly don’t care about. Call me callous if you must, but I really don’t care if the Tangent Comics universe, or the DC One Million universe survives all this stuff.

Plus, the entire purpose of the New 52 reboot was to invite new readers into the fold. Now DC has halted most of those books entirely for two consecutive months to tell a big story about alternate universes that haven’t been around in over three years. From where I sit, that’s a baffling move. It would be different if they’d put at least one New 52 character in there for us to follow (Superman seems like the obvious choice). Instead we have these Earth-2 heroes and a lame duck villain.

You’d think an event that bends time, space, and reality to its will would be a little more interesting than this.

Image 1 from dccomics.com. Image 2 from insidepulse.com. Image 3 from uproxx.com.

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King of the Ring, Justin Bieber, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

King of the Ring logo, WWEBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

The King of the Ring tournament returns, will take place throughout the week. For the past decade or so, the King of the Ring tournament has always returned on a whim when WWE remembers, “Oh yeah! This was a thing! Let’s make it a thing again!” And then the next year it goes away just as quickly as it returned. I’ve always been of the opinion that if we’re going to do this, let’s build it up and make it a yearly event like it used to be, especially now that the WWE Network exists. With fans having easier access to pay per view events, it be less of a risk to replace a show like Payback with a King of the Ring show. We could still have a WWE Championship match, but the show could also host a one-night tournament and put somebody over big time.

As for the tournament this year, Bad News Barrett seems like the favorite. WWE seems to like the snobby European King persona. They did it with Sheamus and William Regal. Hell, they even did it with Booker T! Plus, the guy is a big star waiting to happen. It’s just a matter of WWE pulling the trigger. Granted, it could be Neville. But for my money, Barrett is the more likely candidate.

Seth Rollins, WWE Extreme Rules 2015WWE lets the fans pick the main event of Payback. Seth Rollins to defend against both Randy Orton and Roman Reigns. I can’t exactly fault WWE for this. When in doubt, just let the fans choose. Though if we’re being honest, the triple-threat match was the obvious choice. That being said, I was hoping to see Reigns get an opportunity to face Rollins one-on-one. There’s certainly enough backstory between the two at this point. Perhaps that’s coming down the line.

Kane gets the line of the night by calling Seth Rollins the WWE equivalent of Justin Bieber. In the aftermath of Wrestlemania, Kane has become relevant again. Does he always deliver great matches? No. But he’s still an amazing actor, and can do great things on the mic.

WWE Extreme Rules 2015, Roman ReignsRoman Reigns def. The Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match at Extreme Rules. This match was better than I think anyone expected it to be. Reigns seems to be in the process of doing something he should have done before they had him win the damn Royal Rumble match: Paying his dues as a main eventer. He’s showing the more hardcore fans that he’s not just a good looking guy, but a tough S.O.B. who deserves respect. I always liked the nickname Paul Heyman gave him: The Samoan Bad Ass.

Tension is built between Rusev and Lana, as the Bulgarian Brute loses to John Cena again at Extreme Rules. The two will face yet again at Payback in an I-Quit match. Lana has proved herself worthy of the adulation she’s getting from the fans. Plus, she’s drop dead gorgeous. So there’s that.

So it’s looks like after Payback is over, Rusev will have lost to John Cena on three straight pay per views. I don’t expect Rusev to go away after Payback, but he’ll definitely need to re-establish himself as a dominant monster. But against who…?

Bray Wyatt, Ryback, Raw, 04/27/15Ryback def. Bo Dallas, is then attacked by Bray Wyatt. For those not in the know, Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas are actually real-life brothers. It’s actually pretty obvious if you look at them side-by-side. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that they were involved in this segment together. But it does make you wonder how they could work Bo into some sort of story with Bray.

As cool as it would have been to have Roman Reigns be Bray’s next opponent, Ryback is a good choice for him. He’s someone Bray can beat to build himself back up following the Wrestlemania loss to The Undertaker. Plus, Ryback’s pretty weird in his own right. I’m interested to see how he reacts to the Bray Wyatt mind games.

Damien Sandow reintroduces himself to the WWE audience. One of my favorite internet wrestling podcasters, The Solomonster, has joked about the possibility of Curtis Axel and Damien Sandow forming a tag team akin to the Mega Powers. Obviously it would be Axel in the role of Hulk Hogan, and Sandow playing “Macho Mandow.” Not going to lie, I was almost hoping for that during this segment.

Damien Sandow, Curtis Axel, Raw, 04/27/15The WWE fans seemed more into Sandow as a person than they were the comedic stuff on display here. On the plus side, Sandow’s new theme is pretty cool.

The New Day wins the WWE Tag Team Titles at Extreme Rules. Big E. defeats Tyson Kidd on Raw. Part of me wonders if a New Day heel turn was part of WWE’s plan all along. But then I chuckle. As much of a WWE fan as I am, they just don’t think that way. Still, all three of these guys are talented. They deserve credit for really selling this crappy gimmick and making it into something the fans love to hate. This is also a great opportunity for Xavier Woods to prove his worth as the mouthpiece of this group.

R-Truth def. Stardust. I’m an R-Truth fan, but this sucked. Cody Rhodes is so damn talented, and he deserves to be featured more prominently than he is. For that matter, he deserves to pick up where he left off in his feud with Goldust. That program wasn’t even half of what it should have been.

Raw, 04/27/2015, Adam Rose, Rosa MendesAdam Rose def. Fandango after a Rosa Mendes distraction. Rosa Mendes can’t dance. At least not on her own. That seemed like more of a “What the hell is she doing?” distraction than an “Oh my God, she’s so hot!” distraction.

Jerry Springer hosts WWE “Too Hot For TV” show on the WWE Network. Springer said in a recent interview that his audience and the WWE audience cross over. I really wish he hadn’t said that. I don’t doubt that it’s true. But do you have to remind me?

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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A Star Wars #4 Review – The Unlikely Alliance

Star Wars #4 (2015)TITLE: Star Wars #1
AUTHOR:
Jason Aaron
PENCILLER:
John Cassaday
PUBLISHER:
Marvel
PRICE:
$3.99
RELEASED:
April 22, 2015

***WARNING: Minor spoilers for Star Wars #4 ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Jason Aaron and John Cassaday’s Star Wars is finally starting to pick up a bit of steam. And go figure, it’s the issue that’s most interwoven with the far superior Darth Vader title that made it happen.

When we open issue #4, Luke Skywalker and the others have escaped the clutches of the Empire yet again. But where does either side go from here? Oddly enough, the answer for both Luke and Darth Vader is Tatooine. With some of the Empire’s resources depleted, Vader seeks help from none other than Jabba the Hutt. Meanwhile, Luke realizes that to become the warrior the Rebel Alliance needs him to be, he’ll need to find some answers at home.

I’ve picked on this book previously for relying too heavily on classic Star Wars imagery and dialogue to carry it. Granted, it’s almost impossible to have a Star Wars comic book without that factor being there to some extent. Thankfully, we see less of that here. But there are still needless pieces of it here. Hell, this issue’s biggest offense is right on the opening page via dialogue from Darth Vader and Jabba’s lackey, Bib Fortuna…

Star Wars #4, Darth Vader, John Cassaday– “The Illustrious Jabba bids you welcome to the humble sands of Tattooine…”

– “You may dispense with the pleasantries.”

Those are two lines plucked directly from Return of the Jedi. And why? What’s the point? You’ve got an iconic Star Wars character standing in an iconic Star Wars setting. Even if you’re not a Star Wars junkie like so many of us are, the visuals are enough to take you where you need to be. Peppering in dialogue like that only cheapens things, especially when you’ve already been pretty cheap thus far.

On the flip side, the SW junkie in me did highly appreciate one piece of dialogue in this issue very much. During a scene where Han Solo and Chewbacca are working on the Millennium Falcon (as Han has a somewhat comedic bandage wrapped around his head), Solo references Darth Vader using his lightsaber. The exact line is: “It was Vader. Him and his…whatever you call it. Laser sword.” I loved that. It’s very much fitting with Han’s irreverence for the Jedi culture, which we saw in A New Hope.

Star Wars #4, Luke Skywalker, John CassadayOn the subject of Jedi culture, we see a frustrated Luke trying to do the blind remote exercise again, this time with two robots instead of one. Cassaday strikes an interesting balance between pre and post-plastic surgery Mark Hamill here. The character’s frustration feels very natural. Why exactly he feels the need to go back to Tatooine is unclear, though based on the cover I assume it’s to go back to Obi-Wan’s home and look for clues. What kind of clues those might be, I’m not sure. But given what we’ve seen so far in this book, I’d be very surprised if we didn’t get a bunch of verbal and artistic references to A New Hope and Return of the Jedi.

While Cassaday draws a great Ralph McQuarrie-inspired Darth Vader, the sequences between Jabba and Vader in this book draw inevitable comparisons to the ones in the Kieron Gillen/Salvador Larroca Vader book. For this issue’s sake, that’s not a good comparison. Obviously Cassaday’s no slouch, but Larroca’s got him beat here. On the plus side, he and colorist Laura Martin are a solid combination. Their renderings of the Tatooine landscape reflecting off the Darth Vader death mask are really nice.

Still, I continue to be underwhelmed with this title at best. I’m willing to hang on for at least another month, as I still enjoy Cassaday’s art. Plus I’ve got some money to spare, as DC’s Convergence stunt has left a huge hole in my pull list. But c’mon, guys. You’re doing a Star Wars comic for Marvel! You HAVE to do better than this!

Image 1 from comicbook.com. Image 2 from kotaku.com.

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