Coming to the Aid of a Junior Agent

by Agent Amanda Grefski (a.k.a. Madame Helleveeg)

Madame Helleveeg is embarking on her most challenging mission yet; rescuing a junior agent. Here at the Super Villain Network, we pride ourselves on finding the finest in young super villains and allowing them to grow and flourish into their full villainous potential. Unfortunately, there are times when tragedy strikes and young villains need a little more help than usual. This is one of those times.

This is Anastasia, a.k.a. the Crimson Owlet. She has boatloads of potential, but unfortunately she’s stuck in the Ukraine, a war-torn county where she cannot reach her full potential, because simply surviving day to day is such a challenge. In many ways, the Crimson Owlet is just like any other teenager; she likes to watch TV, hang out with her friends, and draw up the plans for her super secret lair. However, there are some tragedies that set her apart from other budding supers.
The Crimson Owlet was orphaned at age 13; her father was MIA and her mother had died of cancer. The transition was difficult — the grief of losing both her mother and her home was overwhelming. Then, at age 15, her native Ukraine was attacked and embroiled in a bitter civil war. Her orphanage, Donetsk Boarding School #1, was bombed, forcing her to fend for herself with limited help and support. So, she was not only displaced from her birth family, but also displaced from the only other place she called home. Below is a photo of some of the devastation.

After seeing her orphanage bombed, she recalled, “Feeling like I had no home, again. I was so frightened … I’m still frightened because I don’t know what will happen in the future.”

Since then, this young Super has had to deal with hunger, military occupation, bombings, and the terrifying visual aftermath of any war situation: The presence of death. No child should have to step over a dead body to get to school, worry about where her next meal will come from, or worry whether her home will be bombed next.

And yet, amidst this devastation, Anastasia … ahem, the Crimson Owlet … has maintained unshakeable optimism, resourcefulness, and persistence worthy of a junior agent. She is helping to facilitate her own visa application and came up with a plan to launch a GoFundMe campaign that we both manage.

Please consider donating to help our aspiring junior agent escape a terrible situation. She has a loving family waiting to adopt her in the U.S., but the process is long, difficult, and costly. Please be a part of giving her a home she can call her own and making her the junior agent she deserve to be! Even a few dollars will help.

Donetsk orphanage

‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1 Finale: A Timemaster is Never Late!

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Spoilers everywhere!

Well, now. Given the events of the previous episode, particularly what happened to our beloved Snart, Captain Hunter has decided to take all our Legends home, back to 2016. The thing is, it’s May 2016, not January, when they officially left the first time. And once again, Captain Hunter has taken it upon himself to what he believes just has to be the right thing, without consulting anyone else on the team, and our Legends are understandably upset.

Those of us who keep up with all the CW DC shows (Arrow, Flash, and, soon, Supergirl) remember that the Black Canary left us recently. Sara didn’t know that though, and she is justifiably devastated. Meanwhile, Rory is trying to go back to his old life with a new partner, and of course that isn’t working, either. Ray coming to save Rory and become his new partner is one of the most unlikely things to happen in this universe, but then again, perhaps not. Harken back to the Russian gulag episode, and we see a strange understanding begin to develop between “Haircut,” as Rory calls Ray, and Heatwave. Stein and his wife are trying to rebuild and of course our silver fox is restless, and Jax just can’t let the mission to stop Vandal Savage die, either. If nothing else, Carter and Kendra still need to be saved; bring the Waverider back here, right now!

So where, or rather when and where, the hell is Kendra anyway? Someplace called Saint Lo, France, in 1944, apparently. Some helmeted skullduggery (how did she know how to do that again?) allows our hunting Legends to figure out the answer to both questions, and off the ship goes to catch our wayward Hawk folk!

Okie doke, so now it’s time for some background, if you haven’t been paying attention to the major background plots of Legends of Tomorrow. Way back when, in ancient Egyptian times when all this stuff with Savage and our Hawk folk popped off, the Thanagarians sent three meteorites with alien technology to earth. Combined with the blood of Carter and Kendra, Savage is going to take these three meteorites he’s been chasing all over time and literally re-write time itself, according to his wishes. The Thanagarians and the Hawk people have a long and rich history in the DC-verse, so introducing this depth of a storyline is actually quite cool.

Sara Lance is perhaps the finest female character on the show, and to see her literally begging Captain Hunter to go back and save her sister is truly heartbreaking. Why can’t Hunter go back just a few measly months and help Sara save Laurel? Some muckity-muck about timelines and alternate multiple deaths, which is kind of the show’s way of saying, “Her death is now canon in the Arrow-verse and there really isn’t anything we can do about it.” I had kind of hoped for a better thought-out explanation, but hey, we recall along with Sara that Laurel was the one who convinced Sara to go serve and save as the White Canary, so perhaps that’s the encouragement she needs to never, ever give up fighting.

Dude, lookit, we now have a plan! Three plans, to be precise. Somehow, yet another thing that wasn’t explained too clearly, but who cares: Vandal Savage is able to be three places at once, crossing his own timeline. (I bet Sam Beckett could tell Savage that was never a good idea.) And he’s after the three Thanagarian meteorites, armed with Hawk folk blood, for the timeline re-write ritual too! In 1958, according to Stein, there was a rare alignment of the Earth with Thanagar, so, of course, one Savage will be there/then. The ATOM and Heatwave are waiting in hiding for their turn to heat things up! St. Roch in 2021 finds current-Savage with Kendra, preparing for the ritual, while Captain Hunter and a newly-resolved and becostumed Carter anxiously await much asskickery! And in Norway in 1975, while Sara is dealing with thugs and a nuclear bomb, Jax and Stein wait to take people out as Firestorm!

This really is the ultimate climax scene of the entire season of Legends of Tomorrow, where, in unlikely pairs, our Legends all simultaneously take out a different Vandal Savage and stop alien armageddon! Kendra bursts her bonds with a mighty flap of her wings as Carter is downed and sets upon Vandal Savage with the fury of four thousand years of deaths, persecution, and lies! Sara Lance in her leather whites besets another Vandal Savage with the quip, “A Timemaster is never late,” and proceeds to kick his ass up, down, and sideways! Wait, did she just say that, about herself? Ooh. Layers. The ATOM is dealing with flying monkey monsters while Heatwave just puts the beatdown on the man who caused the death of his beloved partner, the other half of his sundered soul, we miss you already Leonard Snart. A savage neck-snap, a pillar of fire, and an intimate stab through the heart later, and the changed timeline bubble-ripples across the land, as Rip Hunter finally gets his revenge. But it’s not over yet!

Still got to deal with those damned meteorites, right? The ATOM shrinks one of em, no problem there. Firestorm freaking vaporizes another one, and with the help of the AI ship, all our Legends are back together for the final ball of destruction. But these other methods aren’t working anymore, so once again the Captain takes it upon himself to grab the death-ball with the Waverider and fly it into the sun! Of course this means the death of Captain Rip Hunter, the AI Gideon, and the ship Waverider, and we simply cannot have that. It’s time for some final soul-searching, for forgiveness, and ultimately, for some real responsibility taken for all these actions in the shows previous episodes. Leave it to the AI to say, “I’m not ready to die.”

Since the Chronoflow was pretty much destroyed, the Oculus doesn’t help any more, either. The Timemasters scattered to the winds and there’s no real police force against Vandal Savage (or any other DC villains) messing with the timelines; that is the new job of Captain Hunter and our Legends! Sara at Laurel’s graveside remembers her dear sister and takes on the new mission in her name. Stein gets a loving but firm push out the door from his wife, and Jax, because Firestorm is truly meant for changing things for the better. Poor Rory takes a farewell jaunt back to Central City in 2013, and — aw, my heart is melting — he went to meet Snart one last time. This is what we call a loving full-circle coming around, as Rory stumbles about telling Snart he’s a hero, the best guy Rory ever knew. We all saw Snart struggle and resist the heroic ideal while part of the crew of the Waverider, and yet he truly became one somehow, perhaps because he knew it was important. Not to the universe, or even to the other Legends, but to his best friend, the guy who had his back from when they were pickpocket-y pre-teens, his partner, his brother: Mick Rory.

So now, we’re finally back where we began, the team gathered in Star City, preparing to go off on the Waverider with Captain Rip Hunter! Well, everyone but Carter and Kendra, who want to make a go at a “normal life.” Being reincarnated Hawk peoples might make that kind of difficult, you just know they’ll show up again in season two. But wait! It’s another Waverider, piloted by — holy shit, it’s Rex Tyler, a member of the Justice Society of America!

Legends of Tomorrow has never shied away from bringing in relatively obscure but beloved DC characters, and this drop of Patrick J. Adams as Rex Tyler, also known as Hourman in the DC-verse, is no exception. There was Connor Hawke, a legacy of Green Arrow; world-destroyer Per Degaton; son of Deathstroke, called Ravager in the comics; even the redoubtable cowboy of the DC world, Jonah Hex. But this finale episode really stuck it to us eternal fans in the best way possible, by introducing the Justice Society of America for season two!

I enjoyed this series way more than I ever thought I would, and hope you-all have enjoyed running through it with me and fellow Agent Nur Hussein. While, yes, there may be some issues in translating the time travel twisty funnery to the audience in a believable way, that’s honestly not really what we’re here for. These characters and their enduring story of personal drama, idealistic morals and epic ass-kickery in the face of pure evil ensures that they really are legendary. We can’t wait to see what season two brings!


‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E15: The Beginning of the End

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

Before the end, we go back to the beginning.

We start with a flashback to when Rip Hunter first attempts to recruit the team back in 2016 … and what happens afterward. Last episode, Professor Stein sent Jax back in time to 2016 to cure his accelerated aging issues, and when he lands, he seeks out the Professor Stein of 2016, who had not left yet. It reminds me a bit of Marty McFly meeting an earlier version of Doc Brown, and like Marty, Jax needs to get back … to the future!

In the future, Rip, Ray, Kendra, Carter, and Rory have been taken prisoner by the Time Masters, who are in league with Vandal Savage himself. Sara and Snart are the only ones who manage to evade capture by hiding in a floor compartment panel of their ship, just like Han Solo. Aboard the Waverider, Sara and Snart ponder what to do, and Snart has a crisis of faith and decides the best bet is to just run and leave the team behind. Sara, however, was having none of it and they have a standoff. Luckily, Gideon intervenes just in time with a plan.

Meanwhile, at the Vanishing Point prison, Rip has been shown a vision of the past and future by the Time Masters, using a device called the Oculus that not only sees the past and future, but lets them control the timestream too. Everything that’s happened so far, including the murder of Rip’s family by Randal Savage, was plotted out in advance by the Time Masters using the Oculus. They needed Savage to unite the world against an invasion from the Thanagarians, a future scenario they see in their digital crystal ball.

Jax, back in 2016, gets Professor Stein to help him jump back to the distant future. Sara and Snart decide to free their captive teammates. They hatch a plan to destroy the Oculus, and regain their free will. In the end, a sacrifice must be made. I won’t tell you how it goes, but it’s one of the most pulse-pounding episodes of the series, so far.

Tonight, we reach the electrifying finale. Don’t miss it!


‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E14: So, That’s Why it’s Called the Vanishing Point

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Flying Spoilers a-comin!

Way back in the very beginning of all this nonsense, Savage (before he was called that) did actually manage to capture Rip Hunter. Despite a few conversations with our Captain languishing in his Egyptian prison cell, he did manage to escape and damn it, Savage wants to know how Khalib did it!

Meanwhile aboard the Waverider, the thieving twins and their assassin gal pal all think we should just kill Savage already, never mind what happens to future-Carter’s somewhat scrambled brains afterwards. But the readouts from the Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robot battle of the previous episode tells our Legends that Vandal Savage really has been using all sorts of time tech and know-how that should, finally, get the Timemaster Council to deal with him once and for all!

Thing is, getting to the Vanishing Point, where the Timemasters are, is problematic. The ship was damaged in the previous episode and of course Captain Hunter’s impatience and selfishness ends up costing Jax his health and safety. Jax is aging at an accelerated rate after being dosed to hell and gone with time radiation, and there really isn’t anything anyone can do. Jax is stuck in the med bay, subconsciously recalling when he left to go on this mission, he was roofied and never got to say goodbye to his mother, which obviously bothers him.

Inevitably, every last Legend just has to go and talk to Vandal Savage personally, engaging in all sorts of mental sword-fighting with what is supposed to be their ultimate enemy. The manner in which he greets Sarah in particular, asking if she had heard from her sister Laurel lately, only managed to severely piss us Arrow fans off and remind us, oh yeah, this guy’s a total villain.

Kendra, accompanied by a rather dour Ray, is attempting to jog future-Carter’s memory and having zero luck. Why Ray thought demanding the answer from Vandal Savage on how to fix Carter would work, I have no idea. For all that Ray is a scientist, inventor, and genius, he’s still an awk-nerd fanboy, rather clueless about relationships and their long-reaching issues. Savage attempts to explain to Ray that they’re the same, at least when it comes to Kendra, because Vandal loved her and was together with her a long long time ago; it was fated. And though Ray truly wants to help Kendra, finding her speaking that ancient love Egyptian love poem to Carter to thump his head, seems to really bother him, too.

Of course, now Snart and Rory want to get off this ride, taking the jump ship and its one single pre-programmed jump back to 2016. Sara, on the other hand, never runs from a fight, even one she didn’t start, and we’re treated to a lovely goodbye scene with Nyssa Al Ghul as Sara remembers her last cleanups before embarking on this mission. Silverfox Stein thinks he can talk Savage into helping our Legends and Jax in particular somehow, only to be reminded that he’s the Enemy, sure, but he’s also very clever. So, Grandpa Jax gets roofied ah-gain and sent off on the jump ship back to 2016 all on his lonesome. And a sad Stein remembers the few bittersweet moments with his beloved wife Clarissa before he left on this insane mission, too.

Really, Ray? Really? We’re going to engage in raging fisticuffs with an effectively immortal tyrant, and we wonder how the hell Savage manages to escape. I do love how, as Rory and Ray are heading off to recapture the villain, Rory drawls, “If we live through this, you bumbling idiot, I might just kill you.”

Stein and Sara have been tasked with getting the ship flying again, which, between the former Space Ranger-turned-engineer and the effective hand of the League of Assassins, now navigator, seems actually possible. Sara can make the tough calls in extreme situations, as Rip points out, and no one can argue with that. Love you forever, Sara Lance.

So Rory and Snart, Ray and Kendra are all fighting Savage and Carter all at the same time, while the Captain and his Engineer and Navigator steer the ship with all they’ve got! Rip has to run off to martyr himself, leaving Sara to actually pilot the Waverider, and hot damn if she doesn’t do an excellent job! Is there anything that can pop the lock on the brainwashing Savage has done to Carter? Turns out, seeing his beloved potentially fated Hawkgirl almost slain by the hand of Vandal Savage is enough to make Carter sprout wings like the most badass avian hybrid ever and swoop in for the kill! Or rather, the knockout.

So we’ve actually made it to the Vanishing Point, more or less intact. But there’s still time for one last epic betrayal, and the whole of time and space may pay the price! There is one more episode before the phenomenal season finale, so it’s entirely possible that there’s way more badass villainy to deal with than just Vandal Savage. And that’s how our beloved characters become truly Legends!

Catch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Thursdays on the CW at 8:00 p.m./7:00 p.m., Central!

‘Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans’: My Mars, not Yours!

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Like every single Gundam anime, and there are over a dozen at this point, this new anime centers around two things: Interplanetary conflict and the iconic white mobile-suit Gundam.

It’s been 300 years since what’s known as the “Calamity War,” a major conflict between Earth and the Outer colonies, and Mars has been successfully terraformed and colonized by humans. Mars is run by the Earth government and desires to break free and have their own autonomy, while the Earth-run military organization, Gjallarhorn, cracks down hard on any sort of insurrection.

The living conditions on Mars are pretty deplorable, especially for the orphans who live and work for the civilian security company, Chryse Guard Security (CGS). The kids of CGS are assigned to guard Martian Princess Kudelia Aina Bernstein as she travels to Earth, intent on winning Martian independence for her nation of Chryse. And, that’s when it all goes pear-shaped, as Gjallarhorn attacks CGS headquarters, intent on destroying Kudelia, and all the adults and higher-ups skedaddle and leave the kids, those iron-blooded orphans, to fight for the fate of Martian independence all on their own!

It’s a bit difficult to bear in mind, considering that the approximate age of these anime characters is hard to guess based solely on appearance, but the show does have a tendency to remind us that these are all just kids, most of ’em are considerably younger than eighteen. These are kidlings that the bosses expected to fight for them, who got left behind and are understandably bitter, especially the leader of the newly reorganized left-behind orphans, Orga Itsuka, and his longtime brother companion, Mikazuki Augus. See, Mika was born to pilot Mechs, and when it turns out this legendary machine called a Gundam from the Calamity War era was being used as a CGS power source, nothing would do but for Mika to literally jack in to this ancient fighting Mech and beat the snot out of nay-saying Earthers! After more or less winning the original battle, Orga and Mika reorganize the kids into a new paradigm of security, Tekkadan, and they insist on being the ones to transport and provide security for Kudelia Aina Bernstein as she makes her way to Earth to fight for independence!

This is an interplanetary war story, after all, with giant, killing robots and corrupt governments and all, which means that, yes, there is quite a bit of death in this particular incarnation of a Gundam series. A fair bit of the death and destruction comes down on the heads of these kids who wanted nothing more than to live in peace and prosperity, who have done literally nothing wrong other than to be born on the wrong planet. So, when the inevitable betrayals begin happening — everything from space pirates to backstabbing highly public assassination plots — and Tekkadan and Bernstein gird their loins and choose to step into the fray, you know innocent deaths are going to happen around them. But when they do, perhaps especially when a most-beloved member of the founding Tekkadan, is slain in crossfire, these children face death and memorial head-on and with open eyes. They’ve had to leave childhood far behind, facing and acknowledging death is a big part of that, but they can’t let their sorrow and rage become the sole reason for continuing to exist – the ever-amiable Biscuit Griffon would never have wanted that.

A very fine coming-of-age under the most trying circumstances story, I would suggest that this anime isn’t really appropriate for viewers under age seven. Even though there are giant anime robots flying about in space blasting each other to bits, that is only half the show, and the other half, the plot-driven parts, while planet-spanning and epic, are terribly sad. It is nice to see the iconic white Gundam fly again though, especially when driven by some really determined teens, and always for a good cause!

Oh, and yes, a second season of IBO is already in the works and slated to drop to us adoring fans in October 2016!

Catch Mobile Suit Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans on Funimation!

‘Houdini and Doyle’ Premiere: A Magician Never Reveals his Failings

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Set in (where else?) London of 1901, the latest Fox supernatural drama opus features a jaded Harry Houdini and a bedazzled Arthur Conan Doyle, teamed up to investigate Scotland yard murder mysteries with a mystical bent. So let’s get into this!

We all know who the title characters are, or we should at any rate. Harry Houdini (Michael Weston) is well-known as being, perhaps, the world’s greatest escape artist, magician, master illusionist, et al. And, of course, Doyle (Stephen Mangan) wrote the memorable Sherlock Holmes book mysteries, which are still in circulation, even today. But, as we meet these two men in this new show, both are having issues with the very things that made them famous and allowed them to become freelance investigators when the Yard comes up with a supernatural-laden murder mystery in a nunnery.

Houdini, at this point, does his escape-from-straight-jacket-watery-death bit every night of the week and twice on Sundays, allowing him to hobnob with the likes of Churchill and other (in)famous names, but it’s left him very jaded on the life of the glitterati.

Doyle on the other hand is almost infamous for his Holmes mysteries, mobbed by fans who, of course, want more mind-blowing mysteries solved, reviled by the police whose procedures his stories have mocked, when all he wants is to promote his newest book that has crap-all to do with Holmes.

So, Houdini doesn’t believe in anything supernatural. Being an illusionist as he is, he will not believe unless he can see it for himself. Harry will often gleefully wager large sums (for 1901) of money as to whether or not some phenomenon is real, to which Doyle, exasperatedly, occasionally gives in. Doyle, on the other hand — oddly despite his scientific leanings in his Holmes mysteries — is a believer who, for very personal reasons, desperately wants the supernatural and all its wonders to be real.

Upon hearing about a death in a nunnery where the girls are swearing it was a vengeful ghost, Houdini and Doyle present themselves as eager-beaver detective-types to the Yard and get the reluctant go-ahead, only to be saddled with an unwanted police presence. Neither man wants a constable on the job with them, never mind a female one, as Adelaide Stratton (Rebecca Liddiard) immediately finds out, much to her chagrin. Scotland Yard is slowly limping into this century, apparently, but putting a lady constable on the Houdini and Doyle case is just an insult and she’s just a glorified nanny, as the police chief roundly informs her when Stratton tries to gush her gratefulness at him.

Similar to Agent Carter, the struggle for any woman in a highly male-dominated society, especially a place like Scotland Yard in London 1901 — the concept isn’t completely far-fetched out of this world, but it’s only just inside the lines of credibility. Like Fox’s other attempt at “I suppose it’s possible,” on Sleepy Hollow, the show is attempting to cater to us women with a female presence supposedly in authority of sorts, struggling to show she can do much more than make and serve tea to these uppity men. Stratton’s presence on the show may do the series more harm than good — no offense to Liddiard’s performance — but the real challenge comes in writing an inoffensive, bumbling, but lovable female constable character for her to play.

This opening gambit case of murder in the washing nunnery seemed to be deliberately lacking details and wasn’t explained very well during the wrapup of the last few minutes of show. Once again, we have an instance of “It’s possible,” but I think the whole thing seemed rather like a knock-off of The Illusionist film. The show’s writers have all sorts of leeway to bring in many characters, both real and imaginary (imagine the ghost of Jack the Ripper or a real-life Dr. Jekyll, just for openers) for the murder mysteries and make them as far-fetched or believable as they want. But, trying to give the BBC folks a run for their money in this fashion seems about as likely as getting eel pie to catch on in America. The backgrounds, sets, costumes and inevitable CGI settings are all more or less fine, and they work for setting the stage, but the writing needs stepping up a few notches in order to ensure a return appearance for our newest odd couple detective pair of Houdini and Doyle!

Catch the magic and mystery of Houdini and Doyle on Fox, Mondays @9:00 p.m./8:00 p.m, Central!

‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E13: Everything Is Better With Giant Robots

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

Out of time and out of luck, the crew of the Waverider have no choice but to find Vandal Savage at the one place and time they know he’ll be; in London in 2166, three days before he murders Captain Hunter’s wife and child.

In this post-apocalyptic future, we see Vandal Savage already ruling what’s left of the world, after the Armageddon Virus wiped out billions of people. The team sneaks into a rally where Savage is speaking in front of his jack-booted troops. At the end, they all raise one arm to salute him, because if there’s a shorthand for evil, it’s Nazi imagery.

Among Savage’s followers is a mysterious woman who happens to be wearing a bracelet that used to belong to Kendra’s Egyptian self when she was first murdered by Savage. Any object that was present when Kendra died can be used to kill Savage, so it’s up to the team to steal the bracelet from the woman. It turns out, the woman is Cassandra Savage, Vandal Savage’s daughter. After a disastrous first attempt at attacking Vandal Savage after his rally, the team regroups and encounters the small band of people opposing Savage, a ragtag group of refugees and rebels.

Kendra tells the team she needs that bracelet, so Snart and Rory manage to steal it … by abducting its owner, Cassandra Savage! They are remarkably efficient in this, and Cassandra ends up a prisoner aboard the Waverider. Kendra finds out how weaponize a bracelet as they reach a showdown with Savage, perhaps maybe even the last one? On the Waverider, Snart slyly gets Cassandra to give up the evil side and join the good guys.

Meanhile, Ray fights one of Savage’s weapons, a giant robot. He himself turns into a giant, using his Atom tech with some techno-babble. It’s moments like that that make this show worth watching. We’re nearing the end, so keep watching!