Rob Watches Star Trek: It’s All Chekov’s Fault

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

TITLE: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ricardo Montalban, DeForest Kelley, Kirstie Alley
DIRECTOR: Nicholas Meyer
WRITERS: Harve Bennett (Story), Jack B. Sowards (Story & Screenplay)
STUDIOS: Paramount Pictures
RATED: PG
RUN-TIME: 113 min
RELEASED: June 4, 1982

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

This is it. The big one. The one everybody loves. The Star Trek franchise’s equivalent to The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part II, etc. Not just a good Star Trek movie, but the great Star Trek movie! Right?

Yep. I mean, pretty much.

More than a decade after we last saw Kirk and the Enterprise crew, a starship seeks to test a device that can transform dead worlds into habitable ones. But in searching for an appropriate world, they mistakenly discovered the genetically-engineered mastermind Khan Noonien Singh. Fifteen years prior, Kirk banished Khan and his people to the planet Ceti Alpha V, not knowing the planet would soon be devastated by the explosion of a neighboring planet. Now, Khan has a chance to exact revenge on his sworn enemy. That revenge will ultimately result in tragedy for Kirk and his friends aboard the Enterprise.

First and foremost, this movie justifies my disdain for Chekov. He’s one of the crewman that discovers Khan on Ceti Alpha V, and ultimately leads him straight to Kirk. So this whole thing? Yeah, I’m just gonna say it’s Chekov’s fault…

While we’re on the subject, I have no problem with the fact that Khan recognizes Chekov, despite the character not appearing in “Space Seed.” It’s reasonable to assume that Chekov was on the Enterprise during the incident with Khan. It’s a harmless continuity hiccup.

For my money, The Wrath of Khan adds some contrivances to the Star Trek chronology. Going by Wikipedia’s version of the timeline, the events of “Space Seed” take place in (approximately) the year 2266. This movie takes place about 15 years later in 2285. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, meanwhile, takes place in roughly 2273. So we’ve got a 12 year gap between this movie and the last one. But the characters are essentially right where we left them. Bones, Scotty, Uhura, and Sulu are all seemingly doing the exact same jobs they were doing more than a decade ago, on the exact same ship. Spock is still there too, though he’s at least been promoted to captain. Even Kirk is still a Starfleet admiral. Chekov, meanwhile, is a commander assigned to another ship.

So you’re telling me that in 12 years, the person who had the most career momentum was Chekov?!? Gimme a break! These people would have all gone on to different things! Some of them would likely be captaining their own ships by this point. By setting itself 15 years after “Space Seed,” The Wrath of Khan freezes them in time needlessly. Why not just set this movie a few years after The Motion Picture? That 15-year time jump doesn’t even factor into the story.

Making Khan the villain for Star Trek II was a stroke of genius. The movie acts as a sequel to a then-15-year-old episode. But at the same time, his backstory isn’t all that complicated. You can come into the film with no knowledge of “Space Seed” and still be okay. It struck a pivotal middle-ground between pleasing the fans and appealing to casual moviegoers. That’s something franchise films still struggle with to this day, but The Wrath of Khan nailed it almost 40 years ago.

The movie wants you to believe there’s this blood feud between Kirk and Khan. Like they’re arch rivals. I don’t necessarily buy that. But I do buy that Khan hates Kirk with every fiber of his being. From an intrigue standpoint, that’s sufficient to meet the story’s needs.

I would have bought the rivalry, however, if Khan had been the one to kill Spock. The climactic moment of the movie comes when Spock sacrifices himself to save the ship, leading to a tearful goodbye with Kirk. But he dies fixing the ship’s warp drive, which lacks a certain punch. You want to get heat for your villain? Have him kill the franchise’s most beloved character. That’ll do it.

Spock did get an awesome death scene, though. Kind of a shame they went and undid it with the next movie.

I don’t know if I’d call The Wrath of Khan a masterpiece. But it earns it’s place as probably the best Star Trek movie. This, I think, is what people were expecting from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Something big and epic that advances the story and the characters, while still staying true to Star Trek.

I just hope it isn’t all downhill from here…

For more “Rob Watches Star Trek,” check out the archives.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: #FireGinaCarano?

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2.E4. “Chapter 12: The Siege.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Horatio Sanz
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Carl Weathers
PREMIERE DATE:
November 20, 2020
SYNOPSIS:
Mando reunites with Greef Karga and Cara Dune to take out an Imperial base.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m happy to see Cara Dune again. But I had no idea her actress, Gina Carano, was such a heat magnet. #FireGinaCarano is apparently a thing on Twitter because of her views about the trans community, COVID-19, masks, and the Democratic party. Instead of spouting off about this, I’ll simply invite fans, viewers, and readers to come to their own conclusions…

Mrs. Primary Ignition popped for Baby Yoda putting his arms in the air as the ship lands. Cuteness quota: Reached.

Carl Weathers, who plays Greef Karga, directed this episode. He’s got several directing credits. But nothing as high profile as this. Based on how well this episode turned out, I imagine he’s got many more directing gigs coming his way.

“The Siege” has a lot going for it. We’ve got familiar faces from last season. But we’ve also got a really nice balance of action, excitement, and intrigue. I wouldn’t put this episode in the same league as “The Prisoner” last season. But it was still a thrilling watch.

Listen carefully during the classroom scene. You’ll hear the protocol droid say the New Republic is headquartered on the planet Chandrila, as opposed to Coruscant. Makes sense. Coruscant had become synonymous with the Empire. Best to start fresh somewhere else.

 

Writers need to start being careful about stormtrooper dialogue. Specifically, parroting lines from the original trilogy. Remember, these movies have been ingrained into people’s minds for 40 years now. So a seemingly harmless line like, “Alright men, load your weapons” can harken back to a very specific moment, and take you right out of the episode.

Another stormtrooper gripe: During the shoot-out sequences I found myself wishing one of our heroes, specifically Karga or Mythrol, would take a non-lethal blaster bolt. Just to show that these stormtroopers can in fact hit a target more than once in a blue moon.

So our base, it turns out, is actually a lab. We don’t find out what exactly they’re doing, but we know it involves blood from Baby Yoda. Given the child’s strength in the Force, that means these experiments could involve the creation of Snoke, or even the Palpatine clone we see in The Rise of Skywalker. On the other hand, it could simply be a matter of Moff Gideon creating clones to serve as the Dark Troopers we see at the end of the episode.

And yes, Dark Troopers were a thing in the old canon. I’m anxious to see them in action.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches The Mandalorian – The Genius of Baby Yoda

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E2. “Chapter Two: The Child.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Misty Rosas, Nick Nolte (voice)
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Rick Famuyiwa
PREMIERE DATE:
November 15, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
After the Razor Crest is stripped for parts by Jawas, Mando must retrieve a bargaining chip in the form of a beast’s egg.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, is a stroke of genius. Walk into a Target, Walmart, or Costco these days and you’ll see why. His diminutive size and not-so-diminutive cuteness appeal make him a marketing gold mine. In the grand tradition of Star Wars merchandising, his visage begs to be put on clothes, posters, and of course toys. Frankly, I’m shocked we didn’t see more Baby Yoda merchandise as the first season was in progress. That’s a giant missed opportunity you’d never associate with a titan like Disney.

But at the same time, Baby Yoda teases at answers to questions Star Wars fans have had for decades: What species is Yoda? Why are there so few of them? Did something happen to them? Did they get wiped out? Are they somehow tied into the Jedi and the Force? When you add it all together, Baby Yoda has that rare combination of geek appeal and corporate appeal.

Indeed, the Jawas are back. I remember seeing an “Offworld Jawa” action figure in stores, and wondering what the deal was. The irony is if you came into this episode as a relative newbie, you wouldn’t think they were offworld, i.e. not on Tatooine. Sadly, Arvala-7 is yet another indistinguishable desert planet.

The sequence with Mando chasing the sandcrawler reminded me of a level from Super Star Wars, the old Super Nintendo game. You play as Luke, climbing all over the thing and slashing at Jawas with a lightsaber. That’s basically what Mando is doing here, sans lightsaber.

In terms of the Kuiil character, voiced by Nick Nolte, it’s funny to me how once you know what a voice actor in question looks like, you sometimes start to read their face into the character. For instance, Kuiil looks like Nick Nolte to me, even though they objectively don’t share many features.

“I’m a Mandalorian. Weapons are part of my religion.” I love that line. It’s my favorite in the series thus far.

The hero fighting a big monster is a recurring theme in the George Lucas Star Wars movies. You’ve got the wampa snow monster in The Empire Strikes Back, the rancor in Return of the Jedi, the arena monsters in Attack of the Clones. Depending on how liberal you want to be with the concept, you can extend it to various other moments in the Star Wars saga.

Odd as it sounds, I appreciated how muddy Mando got during the fight with the… *checks Wookiepedia*…mudhorn? That’s the name they came up with?

Anyway, the mud added a bit of a grittier texture to the whole thing. I can’t imagine it was fun to film. But it was appreciated.

So Baby Yoda uses the force to lift the mudhorn into the air so Mando can make the kill. Obviously, this only lends credence to the theory that Yoda’s species is somehow linked with the Jedi and the Force.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Rorschach, Sea of Sorrows, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Rorschach #2
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Jorge Fornes, Dave Stewart (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Variant cover by Peach Momoko.
RELEASED: November 17, 2020

Heh. Peach Momoko. I love that name. Hell of a variant cover too.

This issue paints our Rorchach doppleganger as a sympathetic nerd type who took things a step too far. It feels somewhat reminiscent of what Alan Moore did with the Jon Osterman character.

That’s not the only echo from Watchmen here. We’ve got a high rise apartment building. We’ve got the whole fiction-within-fiction thing with a comic book called “The Citizen.” It’s all very…noticeable. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.

TITLE: Sea of Sorrows #1
AUTHOR: Rich Douek
ARTISTS: Alex Cormack, Mark Mullaney (Colorist), Justin Birch (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 18, 2020

I wouldn’t call this the easiest issue in the world to get through. But I’m intrigued by how it portrays the sea as a deep, dark, seemingly endless void. Coming in, I actually wondered if an oil spill was part of the story.

Regardless, the darkness certainly lends itself to the horror-with-a-touch-of-fantasy vibe Sea of Sorrows seems to be going for. I’m not sure I’m coming back for issue #2 on this one. We’ll see…

TITLE: Batman #103
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Carlo Pagulayan, Guillem March, Danny Miki (Inker), David Baron (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Jorge Jimenez & Tomeu Morey.
RELEASED: November 17, 2020

Harley Quinn calls out the teenaged Clownhunter for having B.O. in this issue. Then she knees him in the balls. That got a laugh from me. Damn teenagers…

Also, Tynion is apparently aware that Ghost-Maker is a dumb name. Good on him.

About halfway through the issue we abruptly switch from Pagulayan to March. Weird transitions like that are never good. But this issue pulls it off as well as one can expect. The color consistency from Baron helps to that end.

TITLE: Juggernaut #3
AUTHOR: Fabian Nicieza
ARTISTS: Ron Garney, Matt Milla (Colorist), Joe Sabina (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 18, 2020

That’s a really cool over. Juggernaut and the scales of justice. It pops.

In this issue Cain fights the Sandman. I mean, technically it’s a villain named Quicksand. But she’s got the same powers, and for all intents and purposes is Sandman.

So far I’m digging this cast. Cain is teaming with D-Cel, a young woman with the power to create “deceleration fields.” In other words, she slows things down. That’s a nice contrast to the Juggernaut powers. Then of course, you have Damage Control, the Marvel Universe’s resident clean-up crew.

TITLE: Something is Killing the Children #12
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Werther Dell’Edera, Miquel Muerto (Colorist), Andworld Design (Letters)
RELEASED: November 18, 2020

There’s a shot in this issue that’s pretty bad ass. Four members of the Order of St. George emerging from total darkness, wearing their white face masks. Little did these creators realize just how…relevant such masks would be as the series unfolded.

Dell’Edera and Muerto turn in some really nice art here. The red that Muerto uses for the blood really pops, and Erica Slaughter’s “acting” is pretty good too.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Jennika II #1
AUTHOR/ARTIST: Braham Revel
RELEASED: November 3, 2020

The best thing this series has going for it thus far is its general “sketchy” aesthetic. It’s unlike what we usually see in TMNT books, and it makes for a fun read.

Jennika spends most of this issue fighting a monster. But it leads into a potentially interesting development. What happens if/when the inhabitants of Mutant Town actually become the monsters that so many think they are? And how does media coverage effect the world’s view of Mutant Town?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: Kirk the Jerk?

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

TITLE: Star Trek: The Motion Picture
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Stephen Collins, Persis Khambatta
DIRECTOR: Robert Wise
WRITERS: Alan Dean Foster (Story), Harold Livingston (Screenplay)
STUDIOS: Paramount Pictures, Century Associates
RATED: G
RUN-TIME: 132 min
RELEASED: December 7, 1979

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

I came into Star Trek: The Motion Picture ready to be bored. This is, after all, the film infamously called the “Slow Motion Picture.”

But boring isn’t what I got out of it. There are slow portions, obviously. But I wasn’t bored at any point. To yours truly, the story of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is one of a charmingly odd sci-fi flick that missed out on some of its potential.

Eighteen months after the end of the five-year mission, Kirk has been promoted to admiral. But when a mysterious and destructive energy cloud is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth, Kirk takes it upon himself to investigate the mysterious entity aboard a refitted Enterprise. But while there are many familiar faces aboard, this is not the Enterprise Kirk remembers, and he hasn’t been a starship captain in quite some time. Meanwhile, Spock feels a telepathic connection with the entity that will serve to guide the Enterprise on its mission.

Watching the film for the first time in 2020 means there’s a giant elephant in the room whenever Stephen Collins is on screen as Decker. Not because of 7th Heaven, but because of what we’d later learn about him. Years ago, I made the mistake of listening to the recording that came out of him talking about what he’d done. I now desperately wish I hadn’t.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture reportedly had a very rushed production schedule. So much so that director Robert Wise once said he felt the final film was only a rough cut of the one he wanted to make. I can only assumed this rush to the finish line is the reason much of the movie seems to be not very well thought out.

For instance, the main thing I took away from the movie was just how wrong Kirk is. When he decides to investigate what we later learn is the V’Ger entity, he uses his authority as an admiral to forcefully replace Decker as captain of the Enterprise. The two then proceed to clash over how to advance the mission, with Decker ultimately being vindicated. We see that, despite his noble intentions, Kirk is out of practice when it comes to captaining a starship.

This tension between Kirk and Decker is there by design, and is the most interesting part of the movie. The problem I have with it is that it only gets a half-hearted resolution about midway through the film. We don’t really get to savor the meat of the issue. It eventually becomes a moot point. But beforehand, why not throw in some kind of sequence where Kirk admits to Decker that he was wrong and restores his rank, only to have Decker turn him down? That way, we get a satisfactory conclusion to the arc, and Kirk doesn’t look like such a jerk…

If you’d asked me to guess before hand who would get the film’s best entrance, my guess wouldn’t have been Bones. But low and behold, there he is. Beamed in with his space disco suit and medallion, griping about how he’s been drafted back into service. Moments later, he’s part of get of the best character moments in the film when Kirk, in a moment of vulnerability, tells Bones he needs him. In that moment Bones’ demeanor changes, and albeit still somewhat begrudgingly, he once again becomes the Enterprise‘s resident doctor.

The character who undergoes the biggest, and yet surprisingly understated, transformation is Spock. At the start of the movie, he’s on Vulcan taking part in a ceremony signifying the purging of all emotion. When he returns to the Enterprise, he’s as cold and stoic as ever. But after journeying into space and mind-melding with the V’Ger entity, he’s a changed man. In an exchange with Kirk in sick bay, Spock says…

“…with all its pure logic, V’Ger is barren. Cold. No mystery. No Beauty. Should’ve known. … [Spock takes Kirk’s hand.] This simple feeling is beyond V’Ger’s comprehension. No meaning. No hope. Jim, no answers. It’s asking questions. ‘Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?'”

In asking those questions, the V’Ger entity thereby prompts Spock to ask himself those very same questions. Thus, to an extent, his character arc is complete. He realizes the value of emotion and feeling as opposed to pure logic. I like this. I just wish it had been given a little more emphasis outside of that one scene. After all, Spock’s relationship with his own feelings is one of the tentpole subjects the original series revolved around.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture was developed from what was to have been an episode of a new series, Star Trek: Phase II. Complete with new characters Decker and Ilia. If you look at the plot without the elements needed to put Kirk, Spock, and the gang back together, it does indeed look like something they’d have done on the original series. The Enterprise comes into contact with a mysterious entity in space, it possesses Ilia, hijinks ensue and things are back to business as usual at the end.

But while the movie does feel reminiscent of the show in that sense, something on this scale that’s meant for both Star Trek fans and general audiences would likely have benefited from a conventional villain. Obviously, The Wrath of Khan would go on to justify that sentiment. That’s not to say Kirk needed a bad guy to punch. But a big sentient energy cloud isn’t necessarily who I’d have picked to match up against the Enterprise crew in their cinematic debut.

What’s more, the interior of the Enterprise doesn’t look or feel as fun as it did on the TV show. All the bright colors, campy as they were, are missed. The “refitted” Enterprise looks more like a refurbished dentist’s office.

Imagine my surprise at hearing what I thought was the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme. Star Trek: The Motion Picture marked the first time that classic score by Jerry Goldsmith was heard. Apparently, Goldsmith was Gene Roddenberry’s first choice as composer for the original Star Trek pilot. How fitting that he came back to create what to this day is the franchise’s most recognizable theme.

There’s a famous klunker of a line in this movie that I’d hoped wasn’t as bad as legend tells. Sadly, it’s everything I’d heard it was. During Ilia’s introduction, out of the clear blue sky, she says, “My oath of celibacy is on record, captain.” The movie seems to try and justify this line by having Sulu and Chekov gawk at her when she walks on to the bridge. But it clearly wasn’t enough. Over 40 years later, it still comes off creepy and weird.

But for my money, an even bigger klunker comes from Kirk about midway through the film. His line is, “Stop competing with me, Decker.” But for whatever reason it comes out, “Stop…….com…petingwithmeDecker.”

In some circles, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is considered the worst of the six films based on the original series. Perhaps the worst in the franchise overall. Certainly the film is deeply flawed, and perhaps even ill-conceived. But even as someone fairly new to Star Trek, I still found it enjoyable. It’s not worthy of being the franchise’s big-screen debut. But it has its merits. Mostly in the smaller, quieter moments between the characters we know and love from the show.

For more “Rob Watches Star Trek,” check out the archives.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: From Animation to Live Action

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2.E3. “Chapter 11, The Heiress.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Katee Sackhoff, Mercedes Varnado
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Bryce Dallas Howard
PREMIERE DATE:
November 13, 2020
SYNOPSIS: 
Mando meets a trio of his own kind, and winds up taking on the Empire once again.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode requires a decent amount of exposition, only some of which we actually got. Katee Sackhoff’s character is Bo-Katan Kryze. Long story short, her sister was the duchess of Mandalore. Thus, her trying to get the Darksaber. 

“The Purge,” meanwhile, was when the Empire killed most of the Mandalorian people, forcing the survivors into hiding. All this stuff was covered between the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon shows.

I’m fairly certain this is the first time we’ve seen an ocean dock in live-action Star WarsIt makes for a different vibe. I like it. That’s one of the things that’s been so great about The Mandalorian. It shows us the Star Wars universe from different angles.

When Bo-Katan dropped out of the sky, Mrs. Primary Ignition exclaimed: “It’s a lady Mandalorian!” I’m hoping there were a lot of little girls in the audience saying the same thing.

There’s been a lot of talk about what a “true” Mandalorian is. We know Jango Fett and Boba Fett weren’t. And now we get talk that Din Djarin isn’t. Can we maybe get some clarification on this issue? I’m a Star Wars geek, and even I’m confused….

I was curious to see how they’d credit WWE’s Sasha Banks, who plays Koska Reeves. They used her real name, Mercedes Varnado. Which makes sense, of course. I’m not the world’s biggest Sasha Banks fan. But I was proud of her for this. She even got a decent number of lines and wasn’t just a muscular body in the background.

Even after all this time, I’m still getting used to Star Wars music that isn’t a classical score. Case in point, the sort of industrial-style beat they had going during the action sequence aboard the Imperial ship. It works. It’s just not traditional Star Wars.

Hey! Stormtrooper! When you see a grenade rolling toward you, maybe…I’unno…kick the damn thing away instead of staring down at it like a friggin’ nincompoop!!!

And there it is. Destination: Ahsoka Tano. Here’s my question: Katee Sackhoff voiced Bo-Katan Kryze for the cartoons, and now she’s playing the role live. Did they even ask Ashley Eckstein if she wanted to play Ahsoka? Nothing against Rosario Dawson, of course. But it seemed like Eckstein was up for it. Yes, Dawson is a renowned on-camera actress, as opposed to Eckstein who’s more famous for voice acting. But Eckstein had a hand in the creation of the character. She should have had the chance to play Ahsoka if she wanted it.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A WWE Survivor Series 2020 Preview: Survivor Series Swap-Out

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Once is incidental. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a pattern. Or perhaps in this case, a tradition.

Call it the annual <i>Survivor Series</i> swap-out. When the WWE Championship abruptly changes hands during the build-up to Survivor Series to make the big champion vs. champion match more appealing.

In 2017, we were staring down the barrel of Universal Champion Brock Lesnar against WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Because there was so little interest in the match, WWE had Mahal drop his title to AJ Styles a few weeks before the event.

In 2018, history repeated itself when the newly villainous Daniel Bryan took the title off AJ Styles. In both cases, Styles and Bryan went on to have show-stealing matches with Brock Lesnar.

This past Monday, history once again repeated when Drew McIntyre beat Randy Orton for the championship with less than a week to go until Survivor Series. And while we don’t have Brock on the show this year, there’s a good chance McIntyre and Roman Reigns will steal the show nonetheless.

The Survivor Series swap-out. It’s a thing, people.

Here are some more things…

CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION:
Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn

Most of these matches are pretty cold, as most of our opposing champions haven’t been able to interact in television by virtue of being on different shows. But this one? This is the coldest. Two heel champions, cut from very different cloth, squaring off in a match that, like most of these other matches, means little to nothing. The fact that the Intercontinental Title is now ugly as hell doesn’t help either.

Because of how hot the Hurt Business is on Raw, and the fact that dominance is kind of his thing, I’m picking Lashley to come out on top here. A loss won’t hurt Sami. Come to think of it, none of the losers on this show will be hurt that bad. That’s what happens when your pay per view matches are so inconsequential.

PREDICTION: Bobby Lashley

CHAMPIONS VS. CHAMPIONS:
The New Day vs. The Street Profits

I like this match.  I hated the way they swapped the Raw and Smackdown Tag Team Titles a few weeks back. But this match? All good. 

My pick for this match comes down to, of all things, commercials. Recently, the Street Profits have been featured in ads for both Skittles and Head & Shoulders. That tells me the WWE promotional machine is firmly behind Dawkins and Ford. A win here might serve them well in that sense.

Mind you, the WWE promotional machine has been firmly behind the New Day for years. But hey, I’ve got a 50/50 chance here, right?

PREDICTION: The Street Profits

CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION:
Asuka vs. Sasha Banks

These two tend to deliver in big-match situations. So I’ve got high hopes for them here.

My logic on this one is pretty simple: When these two wrestled at Summerslam, Asuka won. So this time Sasha will win. Normally I’m against that kind of 50/50 booking. But because they’re both champions, it works out. The fact that we’re fresh off Sasha’s appearance on The Mandalorian doesn’t hurt her case either.

PREDICTION: Sasha Banks

WOMEN’S SURVIVOR SERIES MATCH:
Team Raw: Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Lana, Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce
vs.
Team Smackdown: Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, ? & ?

This match has been a mess. We’re still missing two wrestlers on the Smackdown side of things. Then, for whatever reason, on Monday they swapped out Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke for Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce. In terms of who’s winning this match, I doubt WWE even knows at this juncture.

First thing’s first: Who do you plug in on the Smackdown team? Peyton Royce’s presence on the Raw side makes Billie Kay an obvious choice. There’s also Bayley, who doesn’t have anything to do on this show yet. If all else fails, Natalya is also waiting in the wing.

The only big story coming into this match is the one between Nia Jax and Lana. The whole “Lana goes through a table every week” thing was an eye-roller at first. But it’s actually starting to grow on me. I’m thinking Team Raw picks up the win here, with Lana potentially being our sole survivor. Then, of course, Nia Jax will put her through a table.

Don’t discount the possibility of Jax and Lana facing off for the Raw Women’s Title at Wrestlemania. There’s enough time to make that happen…

PREDICTION: Team Raw

MEN’S SURVIVOR SERIES MATCH:
Team Raw: AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Sheamus, Keith Lee & Riddle
vs.
Team Smackdown: Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, King Corbin, Jey Uso, & ?

These Smackdown teams seem to be an afterthought. If they’re not even finished the week of the show, then it must not be that important who’s on them.

Depending on what happens in his match with Murphy this Friday, I wouldn’t be surprised if Seth Rollins winds up not being in this match. His real-life wife Becky Lynch is about to have her baby. So it obviously behooves him to be at home with her right now. His obvious replacement? Murphy.

It wouldn’t shock me to see Big E fill in that final spot on Team Smackdown. There’s also Apollo Crews, or even Rey Mysterio. They could even throw us a curveball and put Lars Sullivan in there.

This match is a toss-up. If Big E or Lars wind up in this match, it would make sense to put them over. But in the end, as more time and effort have gone into Team Raw, I think they’re a solid bet to win. I expect to see Keith Lee and/or Riddle standing tall by the end.

PREDICTION: Team Raw

CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION:
Drew McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns

Now this is a main event. Hell, this is a Wrestlemania main event. So much so that I’m actually surprised they’re doing it here.

Roman has been doing some of his best work on Smackdown these past few months, and Drew will have been the WWE Champion for less than a week when this match takes place. So a loss isn’t ideal for either man. A double-disqualification, or some kind of non-finish in this match certainly isn’t out of the question. But if you held a gun to my head, I’d pick Roman to win over Drew. He’s the best villain WWE has right now. Going into Wrestlemania, it’s to their advantage to keep him as strong as possible.

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Power Rangers Double-Feature, Crossover, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Power Rangers #1
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Variant cover by Jung-Geun Yoon.
RELEASED: November 11, 2020

There’s a really cool scene in here between Jason and Rocky, where they talk about the latter being the Red Ranger, but not the team leader. Parrott is so good at creating character moments for characters who were pretty thinly written to begin with.

That being said, Mortarino draws Rocky like…there’s no other way to put it…a whiny little bitch.

Adding Drakkon to this book is smart. Between BOOM’s two new Power Rangers titles, I suspect this is the one that’s going to have more trouble staying afloat, simply because the characters aren’t the iconic Power Rangers.

TITLE: Wonder Woman #766
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki
ARTISTS: Steve Pugh, Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Colorist), Pat Brosseau (Letterer). Cover by David Marquez & Alejandro Sanchez.
RELEASED: November 10, 2020

Tamaki is taking a page out of Greg Rucka’s playbook and blinding Wonder Woman. For a few issues, at least. I’ll say this much: It makes for a pretty cool fight sequence in this issue.

It seems like they’re wrapping up the story of the reluctant Wondie/Maxwell Lord team, which is a shame. For my money, the concept had a lot more mileage to it. It had become something I looked forward to seeing with each new issue.

I know I’m a broken record, but I still miss Mikel Janin on this book…

TITLE: Darth Vader #7
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Daniel Acuna.
RELEASED: November 11, 2020

Boy, some of this is really dumb.

I like the idea of the Emperor giving Vader a sadistic test by leaving him to die on Mustafar. But early in the issue we once again backtrack to a location from the prequels, and literally see Nute Gunray’s corpse. Is that all this series has to offer? “Hey! This is something you remember from the movies!”

This character, and this universe, deserve better.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1030
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS: Bilquis Evely, Mat Lopes (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Variant cover by Lee Bermejo.
RELEASED: November 10, 2020

I think this is the first time I’ve seen Evely’s art. It’s got a cool sketchy look to it that doesn’t always go well with Batman’s world. But paired with Lopes’ colors, it works. Evely really gets to flex in this issue, drawing much of Batman’s surrogate family.

Tomasi is looping Damian into things, which bodes well for the book’s immediate future. His work with Bruce and Damian on Batman & Robin is some of his best. I’m interested to see if he can recreate some of that magic.

TITLE: Champions #2
AUTHOR: Al Ewing
ARTISTS: Simone Di Meo, Bob Quinn, Federico Blee
RELEASED: November 11, 2020

The division among civilians over Kamala’s Law, the law against teen superheroes, is really compelling. Mostly because it’s such an unsettling reflection of the actual division we’re seeing in the United States. It’s a tremendous example of how superhero comics can reflect what we see in the real world.

We open up this issue in a “reeducation center” that’s straight up chilling. It’s actually downright dystopian. I can’t remember the last time a comic book left me this unsettled.

TITLE: Superman #27
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Ivan Reis, Danny Miki (Inker), Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Tony Daniel.
RELEASED: November 11, 2020

Superman spends a small portion of this issue trying to avoid hitting the big scary alien. Imagine that. A superhero trying to dodge conflict with someone who looks and talks differently. God damn, Superman is so the hero this world needs right now. While I may not be in love with his work over on Action Comics, make no mistake about it, Bendis gets Superman. That’s so important, as the vast majority of writers don’t.

Reis, Miki, and Sinclair have been killing it, giving us some of the best art we’ve seen in Superman in years. Don’t sleep on them here.

TITLE: Crossover #1
AUTHORS: Donny Cates, Mark Waid (Story Edits)
ARTISTS: Geoff Shaw, Dee Cunniffe (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer). Cover by Shaw & Dave Stewart.
RELEASED: November 4, 2020

There’s a character in this book wearing a shirt that says “Wertham was right.” That’s a pretty cool Easter egg for people up on their comic book history.

Crossover is a book about comic book characters coming to life in the real world. All of them. It’s a silly concept, but the book treats it pretty seriously. As such, we have a series that people with a passion for the comic book medium will likely enjoy, but more casual fans may find a little too out there. Heck, I’m passionate about comics and it’s pretty far out even for me…

TITLE: Mighty Morphin #1
AUTHOR:
Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS:
Marco Renna, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Katia Ranalli (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Variant cover by Daniele Di Nicuolo.
RELEASED:
November 4, 2020

The way Parrott writes Zordon in this issue is a departure from how we’re used to seeing him. Less a wise sage and more of a friendly uncle. It’s a risk that doesn’t pay off, in my opinion.

So wait…Drakkon’s not the Green Ranger? I’m confused…

I prefer Marco Renna’s work on this book to what we’re seeing in Power Rangers, particularly when it comes to action sequences. His panels with the Green and White Rangers are particularly strong, and the colors really pop. I’m hopeful this book will keep building momentum going forward.

TITLE: Batman #102
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Carlo Pagulayan, Carlos D’Anda, Danny Miki (Inker), David Baron (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Jorge Jimenez & Tomeu Morey. Variant cover by Francesco Mattina.
RELEASED: November 3, 2020

Tynion says he came up with this new Ghost-Maker villain while he was writing back-up stories for Zero Year. That counts as a strike against him, in my book…

I’m not crazy about the name Ghost-Maker. But he’s pretty cool nonetheless. He’s got a cool costume, and a nice ninja aesthetic.

Carlos D’Anda pops up for a few pages in this issue to draw a scene where Harley Quinn gets a new apartment. It feels randomly dropped in. But I’m assuming that means Harley is sticking around in Batman for the near future.

TITLE: Star Wars #8
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Ramon Rosanas, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, & Rain Beredo.
RELEASED: November 4, 2020

I’m in awe of just how much detail some artists put into these starships and the machinery. It’s a credit to not only to the talent of the artists they get on these Star Wars books, but the devotion they have to the franchise.

The writing, on the other hand, has been fairly stale across the entire line. In this book’s case, Commaner Zahra, a disciple of Grand Moff Tarkin, is a fairly interesting villain. But this just isn’t a terribly interesting story. She’s after Leia. Big whoop.

On the bright side, it’s not another story about a damn lightsaber…

TITLE: Young Justice #20
AUTHORS: Brian Michael Bendis, David Walker
ARTISTS: Scott Godlewski, Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer). Cover by John Timms & Eltaeb.
RELEASED: November 3, 2020

Teen Lantern gets a nice spotlight here. Now if only this weren’t the final issue.

It’s an honest-to-God crime that this series is ending at only 20 issues. It’s one of the best teenage superhero books I’ve read in a long time, in that it delivers on both the action front and the teen angst front. I dig the expansive roster, as well. Sort of a Young Justice League Unlimited feel. If there’s any justice in this world, this team will be back with a vengeance.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches Star Trek: Captain Spock

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
EPISODE: S1.E16. “The Galileo Seven”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan
GUEST-STARRING: Don Marshall, John Crawford
WRITERS: Oliver Crawford (Story & Teleplay), S. Bar-David (Teleplay)
DIRECTOR: Robert Gist
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: January 5, 1967
SYNOPSIS: Spock, Bones, and Scotty are among seven crew members who crash land on a planet populated by giants. Spock must decide if they all are able to make a return trip.

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

I get the sense I’d have enjoyed “The Galileo Seven” more if I hadn’t backtracked and seen it after the season three episode, “The Tholian Web.” The latter is, to me, the definite episode about the dynamic between Spock and Bones. But if “The Tholian Web” didn’t exist, that distinction would likely belong to this episode.

This is, however, a pretty good character episode for Spock. It essentially shows us what he would be like as a captain, and he does a fine job at it. Is he more abrasive than Kirk? Absolutely. But by no means is he a bad leader.

The most important thing we learn about Spock in this episode is that living a life spearheaded by logic doesn’t mean living without compassion.

“The Galileo Seven” sees our heroes hopelessly marooned on a planet populated by giants. It’s nearly impossible for them to be found unless they can get their ship back in the air. What’s more, they’re working against the clock, as the Enterprise is scheduled to deliver crucial supplies to a space colony. Spock quickly surmises that having three men stay behind would lighten the load on the ship, thus increasing its chances of taking off. He, as the leader, would choose the individuals to stay behind. Naturally, this course of action is met with much resistance.

A short time later, one of the crewmen is killed by the natives. When Lieutenant Boma, a clearly emotional man and an obvious rival of Spock’s, wants to have a funeral for his lost comrade, Spock refuses to participate, nothing the time limit they’re under.

So Spock is pragmatic. Not a bad quality in a leader, per se. He’s willing to make hard choices, including ones that are vehemently unpopular. This initially makes it seem like his logical M.O. has left him numb to any potential cost of life. But when two of the remaining crewman are adamant that they strike back with deadly force, Spock responds with…

“I’m frequently appalled by the low regard you Earth men have for life. … To take life indiscriminately. … I’m not interested in the opinion of the majority, Mr. Gaetano. Components must be weighed – Our dangers to ourselves, as well as our duties to other life forms, friendly or not.”

So Spock does care about life. He doesn’t lack empathy. He lacks attachments that might cloud his logical judgment or create a conflict of interest. As we’ve indicated previously, Spock isn’t a robot. He’s a man devoted to his principles, which happen to fly in the face of how most humans life their lives.

While “The Galileo Seven” is clearly a Spock-focused episode, oddly enough, it was Kirk who stole the episode for me. As Spock and the others are lost, Kirk is under pressure from a Federation official to leave the system soon as possible. Kirk, however, insists on continuing to search for the others, saying they are “my friends and my shipmates.”

I love that. Kirk doesn’t simply categorize these people as crew members on his ship. Bones, Scotty, and even the ever-stoic Spock, are his friends. Seeing how invested Kirk is in them allows me to be invested as well.

And there you have it. Two very compassionate men. But that compassion is expressed in two very different ways.

For more “Rob Watches Star Trek,” check out the archive.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: Giant Space Bugs

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2.E2. “Chapter 10, The Passenger.”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Amy Sedaris
WRITER:
John Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Peyton Reed
PREMIERE DATE:
November 6, 2020
SYNOPSIS:
Mando attempts to bring escort someone to a nearby planet, but crash-lands in an icy cave filled with gigantic spiders.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

In hindsight, I don’t know why I expected them to follow up on Boba Fett in this episode. Especially given the buzz about a new Boba Fett series. I just figured, given Mando has Fett’s armor, that they’d be on a collision course. To add insult to it all, Mrs. Primary Ignition seemed surprised that I was surprised.

Another day then, Boba.

I don’t say “That’s stupid” very often during this show. But I said it when we got to the Mos Eisley Cantina, and Peli Motto is sitting across from what appears to be a giant space ant. They didn’t even dress it up to look like some kind of alien ant. It’s just an ant. Yeah, that’s stupid. Apparently he even has a name: Dr. Mandible.

Our titular passenger is simply referred to by Wookiepedia as “Frog Lady.” But at least Frog Lady looks like an alien who could exist in the Star Wars universe, as opposed to the giant ant. I bought her.

Mrs. Primary Ignition popped for Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who played one of the X-Wing pilots in this episode. Lee is one of the stars of Kim’s Convenience, which is a pretty fun show. I, of course, pointed out that the other pilot was played by executive producer Dave Filoni. And oh, how she cared…

Were people really upset about Baby Yoda eating the eggs? Was that really a thing? We don’t have enough to be concerned about in the real world, so we have to get mad about what a puppet does on a TV show?

So here we are on the totally-not-Hoth planet of Maldo Kreis. On the upside, it’s the same ice planet we saw in the first episode. Some nice continuity there.

The giant spiders in this episode immediately reminded me of a TV movie called Ice Spiders. Someone did a write-up of it on the old site. I’ve never seen it. But honestly…do I really need to? The title pretty much says it all.

Once again we have giant space bugs. But unlike our friend Dr. Mandible, at least they made these spiders look a little more alien by adding a mouth and teeth. *shudders*

Every time there’s some sort of giant spider monster in a movie or TV show, my mind immediately jumps to some of Rupert Grint’s dialogue in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. “Follow the spiders! Why couldn’t it be follow the butterflies?!?”

Someone, somewhere, is writing a fanfic about Mando and Frog Lady getting it on in that pool. You don’t have to read it. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

I don’t think there’s ever been a bad episode of The Mandalorian. But coming off last week’s episode, it’s difficult not to see “The Passenger” as a step down. That’s a shame.

I suppose that’s just what happens when you follow Boba Fett.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.