‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E11: Welcome to a Town Called Salvation

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

Sharp-shootin’ spoilers a-comin’!

Ah, yes. Here we are hiding in the Old West, away from the Hunters the Time Masters sent after our Legends, and of course the town is called Salvation. Ray is immediately fan-boying the whole old west scene and Sarah wants to take a look around outside, so everyone gets ship-made, era-appropriate clothing and some pistols and away we go!

The entrance of our Legends in their various western-style getups with that slo-mo gangster walk and the heroic cowboy music into the town of Salvation is a hoot and a holler and looks fun and laughably ridiculous. Sarah and Rory immediately begin a drinking binge with alcohol that could take the paint off your walls, Stein surprisingly gets to gambling with Snart, and Kendra has an unexpected encounter in the saloon over (what else?) a disagreement on how to treat ladies, even saloon ladies. Next thing you know, Snart’s killed a bad guy and started a bar brawl. It’s the old west right? But things are almost immediately stopped by a smart figure in a very old uniform with a uniquely scarred face, the bounty hunter extraordinaire of the cowboy-inspired part of DC comics, Jonah Hex!

Of course, idiot Ray, with his penchant for modern history names like the highly original “John Wayne,” wants to save the town of Salvation from the tyranny of the Stillwater gang and insists the crew stay to do so. Never mind that Ray finds himself the new Sheriff and really has not a bit of experience with pistols,  he is good at planning and strategizing. So, when the Stillwater gang comes in for their first confrontation, they get an invitation to go packing from the carefully placed sharp-shooter Legends arranged about the town square!

Not a bit of this impresses Jonah Hex (Jonathon Schaech), however, who reminds our Legends that whenever they do decide to leave Salvation with the Stillwater gang matter unresolved, the same thing that happened to Calvert will happen here. What is Calvert, we ask? Gideon explains it was a town in Oklahoma a few years before their current time-location that was destroyed in the aftermath of a younger Rip Hunter and Jonah Hex feeling their oats and regrets. Yes, our Captain knew Jonah Hex from before; the show even implies that Hunter’s murdered son in the future, Jonas, is named in Hex’s honor.

Stein, meanwhile, is very taken with the kind woman with the dying son from the original bar brawl. He has the consumption, you see, and his mother wanted him to see the west and ride that stagecoach he always wanted to, before tuberculosis takes him down completely. Stein, with his large heart and science-y brain, absolutely refuses to sit by and let this happen, insisting on the Waverider synthesizing a cure as close to old western medicine as he can manage, and giving it to the boy.

Sarah and Kendra have gone off riding into the woods to go looking for the woman Kendra encountered at the saloon, who, of course, offers them a lead-lined greeting when they find her. Turns out, this older, hardened woman who lives bitterly alone is actually a former incarnation of Kendra herself, the aging Hawkgirl who endures in obscurity because in this time period, there isn’t any Carter to comfort her. She claims, in sorrow and regret, that Kendra will never love another person the way she loves Carter, that trying to love anyone else always ends in tears, that the two hawk folk are fated to be together forever and ever. Which, considering the original mission of our Legends bucking future fate and all, doesn’t go down well for Kendra.

So, the boys mistakenly went to go confront the Stillwater gang and end up with a bad guy in their med bay and down a teammate; Jax gets himself taken. Much arguing later, we’re going to have High Noon from Captain Hunter in town square and inevitably it’s not that simple – right about then is when the Hunters decide to show up, and main street of Salvation is suddenly filled with flying fire guys and laser beam future-pistol shots!

The showdown on main street is actually pretty cool. Hawkgirl is doing dive-bombs, Jax and Stein are fire-bombing their way up and down the street, Jonah Hex is firing the future pistol he borrowed from Captain Hunter, Ray’s in his A.T.O.M. suit doing damage, and the criminal twins and their assassin friend are shooting and stomping their way through the villains!

The Hunters just have to get in the last word before defeat, telling Rory that the Timemasters have sent the Pilgrim after our Legends, which can’t be good. Stein gets the most astonishing information when he goes to say goodbye to the young boy he saved from tuberculosis, who happens to not-so-coincidentally bear his father’s surname, Wells. Herbert George Wells, as a matter of fact. Absolutely adorkable. Sarah and Kendra are back from their walkabout, and it’s time to have a talk with Ray, sadly. And now it’s time for one final talk with everyone around the planning table, because the Timemasters have sent the Pilgrim, their deadliest assassin, into everyones previous timelines, to stop all our Legends from becoming thus long before they could do anything about it!

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

The ABCs of Horror: M is for ‘The Maxx’

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

Based on a comic book series by Sam Keith, the cartoon series, The Maxx, tells a complicated story of a serial rapist, his chosen supreme victim, and the homeless self-proclaimed superhero determined to protect her at all costs!

See now, that’s a very simplified telling of the many overlaying plots The Maxx has to offer. As Mr. Gone, the serial-raping murderer-villain of our story, explains in the intro to the cartoon, most of us inhabit two worlds: the real world, where we’re at the mercy of circumstance, and the unconscious, the world within, where we can escape.

Julie Winters, the freelance social worker who was raped somewhere in her past and now kills that image of herself by escaping into her unconscious, the Outback, where she is the Jungle Queen, is the only one who seems to care for our hero, Maxx. And what of our purple-clad homeless hero? He’s stuck in the mask and the telepathic link to Julie that forces him into the Outback all unwitting, trapping all three of our characters together in a strange, macabre dance to the death of whoever gets there first!

So Julie, while dressing like a hooker as some kind of armor against the unfeeling world that enrages her, lets Maxx sleep on her couch after repeatedly getting picked up by the cops for beating up bad guys he encounters in alleyways. This is the first step on the hunt for Mr. Gone, the black wizard who likes to go around attacking girls with the help of dark Isz, creatures from the Outback who turn cannibalistic when brought to the “real” world.

Troubled teen Sarah is brought to Julie by her mother for counseling, only to discover roundabout-ly that Sarah’s mixed up in this mess too – she’s Mr. Gone’s daughter. Mr. Gone himself, indulging in his villainous ways as only he can, decides the best way to get to Julie is to go through Maxx first, so we get treated to some very funny scenes with dark Isz (looking like whatever you dress them up as, so imagine a carload of grannies with sharp teeth) chasing our purple hero down! Gone sends other assassins after Maxx, too, but our bumbling and well-meaning superhero usually downs them with ease, either here or in the Outback.

The Outback itself, for all its sprawling wonders and many strange creatures, is beginning to change. As Julie of the “real” world absorbs more misery and bitterness, so does the Outback warp, killing the Jungle Queen’s leopard, and leaving her vulnerable both there and back here in the “real” world. Even Maxx, at his most powerful, flowing-maned, killing best in the Outback, can’t hold against the crushing cruelty that is Julie’s own mind turning against her. It’s a race against time, for Mr. Gone has power both there and here, and will stop at nothing to bring his own darkling brand of evil down into everyone’s hearts!

The show focuses strongly on the concept of spirit animals, similar to the animal totems of Native American or Aboriginal (since it is the Outback) tribes. Each person’s spirit animal is linked to them during a pivotal moment in their life, usually some sort of traumatic experience. Sarah’s animal is a horse, and while she is gratified to learn this, the manner in which she is granted such a revelation, and from whom, is absolutely crushing in its vitriol. When she was little, Julie had a horrid experience with a rabbit and after much dark, circular explanation, realizes this is precisely why Maxx is afraid that if he ever took off his mask, he might underneath have the head of a rabbit himself.

The cartoon, which was featured on MTV’s Oddities, and acquired quite a cult following, is still one of my personal favorites. Highly unique in story and tone and drawing style, the entire cartoon looks like it was lifted right from the pages of the comic book, like Keith’s work suddenly started moving out of the frames all its own, with little effort. Most of the dialogue is exactly the same too; that is incredibly rare. The many concepts explored – alternate realities, telepathic powers and magic, the concept of our strengths and weaknesses being one and the same, how our very outlook colors our own reality and can bleed onto others, as well – are all thought-provoking and yet presented in a fun, horrifically surreal, moving comic-book-y way that you just don’t see today. When was the last time you visited your Outback?