Reading: The Long Halloween

I admit it.  I’m a newbie to the DC universe.  Most of the books that I will review here are some of the most popular books in the DC world and have been for some time.  I just figure some of our readers are long time nerds who can call me out on disagreements. I also figured that other readers are new to comics and these reviews might encourage them to try.

Batman: the Long Halloween is a collection of 13 comics in a limited series format written by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. It was orignally published in 1996-97.

This story is set early into Batman’s career when Harvey Dent is only Harvey Dent. A murderer kills on a Halloween…and then Thanksgiving…Christmas…so forth. The killer gets the nickname Holiday since they are killing on Holidays. Most of the Batman cast is here from Alfred and Jim Gordon to most of the A list villains.

The focus of Holiday’s actions is Carmine “The Roman” Falcone”.  The killer is killing people close the mob boss.  Loeb peppers the dialogue in the mob scenes with plenty of references to The Godfather and a few to Goodfellas. The plot, on first reading, does not telegraph who Holiday is (though a reread will have you smiling a lot at how something so complex can look so simple once the mystery has been unlocked). I literally was guessing until the last page, and actually went back and read the four last pages twice the first time I read it.  Loeb crafts a master crime drama here.  He has fully developed Batman, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent. I am still amazed how well the plot comes together.

Tim Sale’s artwork can be a offputting in that a lot of the characters are just ugly.  However, they are often mirroring what is on the inside.  He creates a great sense of atmosphere here. Classic film-noir and even classic horror help inform his art choices.  While the style at first put me off, I realized how important it was to the story Loeb was telling.

Hush, also by Loeb, was a great Batman story.  This is a great story that happens to have Batman in it.

Star Wars-ing: The Second Season of The Clone Wars

I was struck by how fantastic the first season of Clone Wars was.  I hated the movie that introduced the series finding it childish.  The series has proved to be deeper than most Star Wars vehicles and, in fact, more than most television shows in general.

The Halocron Heist Arc (S2E1-3)

Darth Sidious hires Cad Bane!  These are good episodes that help explain why Bane is such a fan favorite.  In fact, I’ve been putting loose change in to our Cad Bane bank for years because he was a favorite of Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s. However, it also shows a true evilness to Sidious instead of being the mostly shadow figure he is in the prequels.

Senate Spy (S2E4)

One of my favorite episodes of the series because it’s a strong Padame episode. Padame is a character that was wasted in the prequels (see Honest Trailers) but here she is a strong independent character in her own right. It also allows for her to have a past while the movies just focus her on protecting then pining for Anakin.

Genosis Arc (S2E5-8)

genosis-arc

Ahsoko and Barris in the Genosis Arc. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

Another arc that could have probably been release as a movie. This story highlights  Ahsoko Tano and Barris Offee as two different but capable padawans. Both have different approaches but both make their masters proud.  This arc does tie into the Darth Vader set of comics that have been released since Disney bought Star Wars. Great action set pieces are everywhere in this arc but it’s the quiet scenes that are fantastic.  The padawans are forced to make some very tough decisions. Ahsoko, in particular, here can be seen maturing throughout the arc.

Greivous Intrigue (S2E9)

I honestly don’t remember anything about this episode.  Probably, because I don’t find Grievous all that interesting.

The Deserter (S2E10)

Cut Lawquane, the deserter. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

Cut Lawquane, the deserter. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

My favorite episode so far. A clone has decided to desert and have his own life. He is his own person.  Captain Rex has issues with this because in his eyes all clones are brothers with the same purpose in life, but then finally understands by the end.  This episode is basically a monster trying to get into the house trope, but it is executed well. In fact, it is the only episode to make me jump. It is also the only episode so far that makes the Droid soldiers terrifying. But at the heart of this story is two clones and the voice acting of Mr. Baker is out of this world good.

Lightsaber Lost(S2E11)

This should be a bad episode.  The episode uses the silly old man but truly wise teacher trope. The ancient Jedi Master Tera Sinube is almost too cute to be taken seriously.  However, instead of being put off by his slow tortoise gimmick, I found him charming.  So does Ashoka as she learns her after-school special lesson about being a Jedi from Master Sinube.  Again, this episode should be awful, but it’s fantastic.

2nd Season Mandalore Arc(S2E12-14)

Santine, 2nd from left, and Obi Wan face a threat from the separatists. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

Santine, 2nd from left, and Obi Wan face a threat from the separatists. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

We are finally introduced to the wonderfully named Santine (reference to Moulin Rouge!).  Lots of intrigue and showing that this is a much deeper conflict than Sidious against the Jedi.  In fact, there is a moment in the first episode of this arc that is so brutal it’s one of the best moments in all of the Star Wars canon. A member of a group the Death Watch is wounded.  His commander looks at him, states “Failure,” and then proceeds to kill him with a single shot. The bad guys in Star Wars are often not very bad due to appealing to children but this moment decided to go there. We not only see a bad guy hit something with a shot, we see him kill in cold blood.  And it was an ally at that.  We also get to see Obi-Wan be more developed for know we know that he has a past. And in that past, he was in love with Santine. It provides a counterpoint to Anakin and Padame’s relationship. Santine and Obi’s stories are too important for this to be a one off arc.

Senate Murders (S2E15)

A classic whodunit trope. Good but not great.

Cat and Mouse (S2E16)

Good episode that does a good job of dealing with just war strategy.  Strongly echoes the Hunt for Red October, which is a compliment. In fact, it’s high praise.

Bounty Hunters (S2E17)

Obi-Wan and Anakin train some farmers to help protect their crops.  Even though it is a Hondo episode, it’s as exciting as it sounds.

The Zillo Beast Arc (E18-19)

 

During a battle, a beast is unleashed that has impentrable armour.  In fact, only one thing that can kill it is a gas from it’s planet.  In a King Kong trope, we have some decent action scenes.  However, the monster is focused on killing Palpatine. Is this character the only sentient being that can recognize him for what he is?  Which leads to the obvious question, how can no one recognize him? Does he just give off so much negative energy that others can’t sense his presence?  Either way, these episode works and works well.  At the end, I had to take a break from watching the series because I was so upset.  The end sequence is chilling when Palpatine declares he wants to clone the beast that so desperately wanted to kill him.

The 2nd Season Boba Fett Arc (S2E20-22)

Again, I’m not a fan of Boba Fett.  That doesn’t mean that I’m anti-Fett, it’s just that I don’t have enough information to be a fan of his. He doesn’t do much in the trilogy, not enough for me to be Team Fett.   This does provide a little back story, but it is one of a child still grieving from his the death of his father.  This arc reminds us that R2D2 is the baddest droid in the galaxy and might be the most heroic character in all of Star Wars.

Random Notes:

  • My favorite episodes tend to be centered around the clones.  The fact that the clones are getting weaker because of Jango’s death is fascinating.
  • The Deserter episode plays to the strengths of The Clone Wars.  The better the quieter moments are the better the action is.
  • Ashley Eckstein and Catherine Tabor do excellent voice work this season.

Star Wars-ing: The Clone Wars Season 1 Episodes 17-22

 

The Blue Shadow Virus (s1 E17-18):

Blue_Shadow_Virus

Image from Wookieepedia

An amazingly complex idea is rendered into what I consider the first “for children” episode of the series .  The subject matter is biological warfare and that brings up a slew of questions that could elevate this The Clone Wars episode into something special and extraordinary for animated series. However, the evil scientist Dr. Nuvo Vindi, while written well, is rendered into a stereotype by  some over voice acting by Michael York. Still, the fact that series even addresses this topic noteworthy.

The Ryloth Arc (S1 E19-21):

Epguide020

Image from Wookieepedia

This is a quality war arc that could easily have been an offshoot movie that Disney seems to be focused on doing these days (that’s not a complaint!).   Because it has the time and freedom to do so, it ventures into territories that the movies rarely do: how the wars affect children and families and the politics of individual planets.  This is hard for movies to do because they have to paint in broad strokes, but this show is given the breadth to do so.  This is one of the arcs that remind you there are reasons for the fighting besides showcasing great actions scenes (which it does at well).

Windu_Stak_Razor

Image from Wookieepedia

Hostage Crisis (S1 E22)

Epguide022

Image from Wookieepedia

We are introduced to Cad Bane, my personal favorite bounty hunter in the entire saga. (I’ve never understood the Fett fascination). Not much in new territory, but it does help develop Anakin and Padame’s relationship more.  The animated versions have way more chemistry than the actors in the prequels do.

Random Thoughts:

  • I love Tom Kane’s Narrator. It’s a underrated aspect of the show giving us a WWII newsreel feel before plunging us into the action.  It’s an audio-visual counterpoint to the yellow word screen crawl and is perfect for the TV show.
  • I could live without the “fortune cookie” saying before every episode, though.
  • Dee Bradley Baker is a genius.  He voices all the troopers and yes they all sound alike.  However, he is talented enough to make each have a distinct personality.
  • If Matt Lanter can act as well as he can voice act, then expect great things from in the future.
  • Phil Lamarr is Marvin from Pulp Fiction!
  • Dave Filoni is brilliant.

Star Wars-ing: The Clone Wars Season 1 Episodes 1-16

Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple has been encouraging me to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  I saw the movie that kicked off the TV show and, frankly, hated it. Yet, season after season, she has talked endlessly about how good the show is.  My resistance held firm. Then she started watching Rebels.  I would try not to pay attention to that show and it didn’t work. I became hooked.

Now that I’m hooked on Rebels, I really do want to watch the show.  So here is the start of my reviews for the show. I will try to group them by story arc instead of reviewing each show individually.  Of course, spoilers will be all over the place!

Season 1

Ambush (S1E1)

Ambush_Yoda_clones

This is a one off and a weird start to the show. Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan do not appear in the show.  It doesn’t really set up the show or provide a true bridge from the movie to the show. This isn’t a problem.  This is a great episode. Yoda is the focus of the episode and anytime I get to see Yoda be a total warrior is a good episode.  It does also set up Dooku and Grievous’s relationship.

Continue reading

Star Wars-ing: Princess Leia

When I first read Princess Leia, I thought it was a light story that was ok. In fact, I wasn’t even going to review it. Then for some reason, I couldn’t shake the story. I kept thinking about it. So I gave it a reread. It’s not light at all. In fact, I think its one of the best comics I’ve read in some time.

Mark Waid wrote the story with Terry Dodson doing the pencils and Rachel Dodson inking the series. Jordie Bellaire colored the run.

cover

 

The story picks up where Episode IV ends. We are at the medal ceremony and our heroes are parting ways. However, every one treats Leia as she should be grieving. She should; her planet was blown to bits in front of her. Because of interplanetary travel, there are surviving Alderaanians. This becomes the mission of Leia in this 5 issue run.

Continue reading

Reviewing: Purple Mattress Update

We have had the Purple mattress for about three months now and figured it was time for an update. We did an initial review and unboxing already, but people always want to know how it feels after we have slept on it awhile.

For me, one of the big issues was feeling like Kurt was jumping up and down on the bed. Kurt tends to get up a lot during the night or to move around to get comfortable, thanks in part to his PR, and oftentimes he would wake me up. Sometimes I felt that he was so violently shaking the bed that I was sure he was just thrashing about and would anxiously ask him what’s wrong, only for him to calmly say he was just turning over or getting back in bed. With the Purple mattress, I don’t feel Kurt entering or exiting or turning over at all. Not once have I woken up due to his movement and I definitely do not feel like the whole bed is shaking. So that is a huge plus for me.

Another plus for me is that I am not suffering from a stiff neck and shoulders any more. Many mornings, I would awake with aches and pains and I could never seem to get comfortable. Now, those pains have virtually disappeared. This is an even bigger plus for me, because it was not fun having a dull ache and stiffness every morning.

On my other bed, I felt like my body left an impression in the middle of the bed and that I was sinking a bit. Not so with the Purple mattress. Everything feels comfy, aligned, and supported as it should.

For Kurt, his stiffness has reduced a lot in the mornings. He still gets it, but that is due to his PR more than the bed, but it is not as bad and it goes away much quicker than before. Additionally, he has not had any hip or knee pain upon waking up, probably thanks to the Purple mattress absorbing pressure points. That is an enormous sigh of relief because when Kurt was first dealing with his PR pain, we thought he might need a cane to walk, it was that severe in his hips and knees.

The Purple mattress is not super hard, but it’s not incredibly soft either. It leans more toward the firm side, but that is not a problem for us at all. In fact, I enjoy it much more because I do not feel like I am sinking. Like I said, the Purple mattress absorbs your pressure points, so you do not feel like you are lying on concrete or anything either.

One question we are always asked is does the mattress run hot? Not in the slightest. The mattress is always cool and if I am ever sweating, it is because of my giant comforter I sleep with every night. Once I take that off and sleep with just a sheet, these hot Louisiana summers mean nothing to me.

The only slight “even better if” (there’s the teacher in me) is that the mattress is a bit smaller both height and length wise. It was lower than our previous mattress, which confused me in the dark at first because I was used to reaching my hand over a certain way to grab my glasses off the night stand or put my phone up, and suddenly I am hitting my hand on the night stand of doing my intended action. Not a big deal, but just something to note. Additionally, there is a bigger gap between the mattress and our foot board. Luckily, we are not tall people and that is not a problem, no dangling feet or anything, but if we were, it might be (though I can’t say for sure, of course).

Our Purple seat cushion is still fantastic as well. I have it on my chair at the dinner table and love the feel of it. My mom, grandma, and nannie came over for Mother’s Day and each one of them exclaimed how fantastic it felt. In fact, my grandma would not let anyone else sit in that seat! We have the Royal Purple one, though I am sure the others are just a comfortable.

We paid for our mattress through PayPal, so the $1299 price point for the King came out to $217 interest free for six months when we paid through PayPal credit. As far as we are concerned, it was worth every penny! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Here’s a video of our cat Button enjoying the Purple mattress. Even he recognizes the comfort.

Reviewing: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive

Nola Nerd Couple started seriously collecting comic books in 2014.  Unfortunately for me, my palindromic rheumatism started around the same time.  So, I was buying  comic books that I didn’t read.  When I wasn’t in pain, I was reading books for grad schools. A lot of books just found a space in our long box and sadly were not read.

Until now.

One of the  comics I collected at that time was Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive by Scott and David Tipton with artwork by Rachael Stott.  Star Trek got me through college and growing up Charlton Heston could do no wrong according to my mom. In other words, two of my favorite sci-fi franchises were combined in one story.

 

ST-APES-coverA

The Primate Directive #1.  Buy it at IDW

 

Continue reading