'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' Trailer: Superman Soldiers

The very first Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer was posted yesterday (click here if you want to know what I think about it) and as expected, people are debating over several shots. One, however, stands above the rest and I wanted to quickly discuss it. The scene I'm talking about is the one with soldiers -- who have Superman's logo on their armor -- kneeling before the hero when they're in his presence. I already see some saying this means the story is inspired by Injustice: Gods Among Us and that means Kal-El is a dictator. I don't agree with that claim. Maybe I'll have to eat my words on this one, but I really hope that won't be the case.
Nothing about this brief shot (seriously, it's 1.5 seconds long) makes me think Superman is a dictator and he wants this kind of reception. Some say Clark looks imposing and is demanding their respect. Me? I see a ladder behind him and based on that brief shot, it seems like this is the second or so after he landed and it's right before he begins to walk forward. I'm not sure why people assume this means this is his division of soldiers, either. What about the character from Man of Steel would leave you to believe he'd want his own squad -- one which worships him? The whole point of the trailer is to show how humanity is reacting to him; not how he's reacting to it. In our world, there are soldiers who wear Punisher's logo. In the DC Cinematic Universe's Earth, there are people who worship Superman -- he did save the planet, after all. The idea of them wearing his symbol because they choose to admire him seems way more logical than Henry Cavill's character saying, "You, my soldiers! Bow down and wear my symbol! It stands for hope, and I hope you're wearing it, because otherwise I'm going to punch you across the ocean!" I guess we'll just have to wait and see, but to me, it really seems like a group of soldiers who worship the Kryptonian because they choose to.
The trailer reveals some of humanity is treating Superman like a God; it's not saying that Superman is acting like a God or even wants this extremely high level of glorification. Kal-El's true response to all of this has yet to be revealed and I'm hoping the next trailer gives us more insight into the character. But for now, the thought of Superman wanting people to wear his symbol and bow before him just doesn't seem probable to me. Oddly enough, I wrote this quick post while wearing a Superman shirt. Go figure.

Update: @digital___rain and @derbykid pointed out something obvious that I was somehow totally oblivious to: this could be Snyder's version of the "Sons of Batman," an organization in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Basically, it's a group who strives to fight injustice in the name of their idol, but they aren't accomplishing it in a way that makes their idol very pleased. In this case, it would essentially be the "Sons of Superman." That theory makes perfect sense and I have no idea how it slipped my mind. I guess that's what happens when you write before having a sip of coffee?

'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' Trailer

Well, it's looking like the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer is every bit as polarizing as Man of Steel. Some people loved the footage and think it'll be an amazing movie; others hate it and hope it's not an accurate picture of the entire movie. Me? I'm someone who loves Man of Steel (we can still be friends if you hated it, you know) and I've been very, very, veeeeeery excited for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. So, did I love the debut trailer and it now has me exclaiming, "ZOMG BEST MOVIE EVER"? No, unfortunately I can't say that I loved it, and honestly, I was left feeling incredibly down the middle in the moments immediately after my first viewing. However, I do like it and if you'll give me a minute or two (because you're nice like that, right?), I'll explain why.
When Warner Bros announced the movie's first trailer was on the way, I immediately began to think about what it would include. You probably did, too. I envisioned a video that's full of cameos, some basic ways to spell out the plot, and a whole lot of spectacle. That isn't what we received. Not at all. The first trailer is purely story-driven and drenched in darkness. While Marvel Studios aims to win over a wide variety of moviegoers by making sure its films always have some amount of fun and comedy, it's clear Warner Bros is making the DC Cinematic Universe the opposite of that -- at least for now. The studio's going for grittiness and realism. While Marvel Studios embraces a trigger-happy, talking "raccoon," DC is establishing a dark atmosphere. When I say "realism," I don't mean anything involving how these characters act in combat -- it's clear Batman is going to be well-above what an ordinary human is capable of. I mean how the world is crafted and how it responds to this unreal situation.

Man of Steel ended with aliens attempting to destroy the planet. They unleashed a devastating amount of damage in a major city and even though Superman was able to stop them, his fight with Zod brought about additional destruction and it resulted in Kal-El snapping the neck of his opponent. I know it's ridiculous, but imagine this really happened. How would you feel about Superman? You don't know anything about him aside from the fact he's absurdly powerful and no government on the planet could hope to stop him. To top it off, you know he saved the planet by killing his enemy. Some of you will think he's just trying to do the right thing. Some will think he's a God. Many will fear him and think he can't be trusted.
"I lift things up and put them down."
What happened in Man of Steel is a ginormous deal for Earth and it's great to see it isn't simply being glossed over. There's huge ramifications and those are obviously being used to justify why the Dark Knight comes to blows with the Kryptonian. Just look at how the news industry tends to cover events. Something huge like this? Yeah, you can bet they'd have a lot of talking heads saying why the Man of Steel is worse than mega ebola and you can bet a lot of people would let that fear and hatred bleed into their impression of Big Blue. Obviously it won't affect everyone -- some view him as the next messiah and want him to fix just about everything -- but with Lex Luthor in the picture, you know he's going to do some manipulating and make even more people view Superman as a super villain. This trailer isn't showing us how Superman's reacting to this reception (something I'm VERY anxious to find out), just how the world is responding to his presence. It's a simple yet efficient way to give us some understanding of the bigger picture. I'm surprised we didn't see Lex or any especially huge moments from the film, but I'd much rather have them reserve the really good stuff for when we're sitting in a movie theater. Here's hoping Warner Brothers doesn't release a silly amount of clips as the release date gets closer and closer. I just don't have the willpower to resist watching those. I'm no Hal Jordan.

Sweet mother of all that is holy, Batman looks like a beast in this movie. The costume looks great in motion, the armor appears to stay very true to Frank Miller's classic comic, and Affleck's voice is so intimidating. We've yet to see a lot of the Caped Crusader and how his character is handled, but at least we know he looks and sounds all kinds of formidable. That said, one part did have me concerned. There's a bit with two vehicles (looks like the Batmobile and Batwing) and they unleash some attacks that blow up several gunmen. It seems like Bruce is the one who did this. I'm really hoping that's not the case and there's some context we're not getting. It immediately reminded me of Tim Burton's version who has no issue murdering anyone in his way. This version of Batman may be darker and more brutal, but the fact he can topple obstacles without killing makes him even more impressive and admirable. Otherwise, he's pretty much just Punisher but in a different costume. (That's not a jab at Punisher; I love the character.)
Everyone -- even Superman -- must bow down to Batman at some point.
The trailer provides a loose reason why Batman goes after Superman. The world isn't sure it should trust this ridiculously powerful being, so why should Batman? And wouldn't this be a bit of a blow to Bruce's ego? After all he's put his body through, there's now some flying dude who can go above and beyond what he's capable of. (Well, not unless Wayne has prep, but let's not get into that, okay?) We of course don't get all of the details, but seeing as the emergence of a seemingly surreal hero is a huge deal, it's only natural that a hero/brilliant detective/seeker of justice/ninja would want to find out what the deal really is with this guy.

Random thoughts:

  • Batman is definitely holding a rifle and it looks just like the one from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.
  • I'm guessing the Superman statue/park is built on ground zero in Metropolis.
  • Seeing as we know Snyder's directing two Justice League movies in the future, I'm assuming this conflict will more than likely end with them gaining each other's respect. It may be called "Batman v Superman" and they may beat the living hell out of each other, but it'll more than likely end as them becoming great friends and admiring the others' strengths. So yeah, while the studio's cashing in on the pure fan service of seeing these two fight, at least the conflict will be the thing that produces their friendship. Plus, I'd be a total liar if I said I didn't want to see these two fight on the big screen.

This may not be the trailer I expected and it didn't totally blow me away, but it sure gives us a lot to chew on. There's one very important thing I'm left wondering about, though: What is Superman's response to all of this worship, fear and hatred? I understand why this trailer doesn't get into that (it's informing us how the world is reacting to him and what he's done), but it's a pretty important question, especially since this version of the character left fans divided. In this trailer, he seems kind of distant, cold, and even confused. These shots are all out of context and I'm sure there's more to them, but I can only form an opinion based on what we've seen, right? To me, Man of Steel ends with Clark Kent becoming the Superman many of us know. Before the conflict escalated, he's someone who spent his whole life holding back and hiding who he really is. He avoided conflict and aside from the Kents, he's clearly never had any meaningful relationships. When the credits begin to roll, he's finally used his powers to save the planet from an insanely dangerous threat -- one which impacted him emotionally -- and told the U.S. government he's here to help. No longer can he remain quiet, expressing himself mostly through body language. Now that he is Superman, we need to see him acting more like it. If the world is unclear about who he is and what he stands for, he should give a public speech in an attempt to clear things up. He should do everything he can to help but make it clear he's not a God; he can't be everywhere at once and save everyone from everything. If this movie has two brilliant humans -- Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne -- setting their sights on him, he's going to look like a fool if he doesn't exude more confidence, intelligence and warmth when interacting with others.

Given the themes this movie is handling and the source material it's inspired by, it should be a dark story. However, Superman's iconic personality and optimism should still be on display and receive more attention this time around. When the credits begin to roll, we should have a brighter future on the horizon and the start of a powerful friendship. If you watched the trailer and hated it, so be it. I understand why some may not be a fan of the tone and the direction the story's taking. To each their own and hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised by the final product. At least you know there's plenty of other comic book movies that may appeal to you and there's certainly plenty of superb comics and animated shows/movies that feature Batman and Superman. But me? Yeah, I'm looking forward to this and hopefully after reading this post, you don't think that makes me absolutely crazy.

'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' Teaser: Yeah, I'm Excited!

*Click here if you haven't watched the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice video or if you just want to watch it yet again.*
We live in an era that's all about building the hype for a movie. No longer are exciting trailers simply an awesome surprise. Now, the arrival of a trailer is its own event, one that is built-up by announcing when it'll be available and then teased multiple times. If the movie's big enough, the trailer may receive multiple teasers -- videos that are basically very, very short sizzle reels -- before the full trailer is ours to watch. By the time a movie opens in theaters, so many moviegoers already have firm opinions about the movie. We should always go into a movie with an open mind, but when we've already seen so many trailers and clips and have strong opinions about the cast and crews' previous work, it's tough not to form at least a few opinions about the feature. You know, despite seeing all of these clips and moments totally out of context and hearing God knows how many rumors. So, as you can tell by this intro, I'm not the biggest fan of how trailers get so much hype. I get why studios do it -- they want to make sure their big movie is catching our attention -- but I guess I'm just old and grumpy; I miss seeing a trailer in a movie theater for the very first time. Anyway, I think the whole "teaser for a teaser trailer" method has been pretty ridiculous at times, but for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it's kind of silly just how excited I am about this simple 21 second teaser.
Let me begin with a disclaimer: I love Man of Steel. That means you're either going to disregard everything I'm about to type, or you'll be on a similar page. Man of Steel was such a polarizing movie, so it's understandable. Now, there's several reasons why I don't mind the fact DC and WB released a teaser for a trailer. Firstly, this is an enormous movie for them. Man of Steel technically marked the beginning of the DC Cinematic Universe, but this will be the one that expands it in a huge way. If people are going to stick around for what's to come, this movie really needs to win them over. Plus, it's the first time the Dark Knight and Superman will share the big screen! Secondly, they're building the hype for the movie's first trailer and we're talking about a movie that has been anticipated by many for quite some time now. Aside from the SDCC teaser (which wasn't released outside of the event... officially, that is), we've only seen pictures of actors in costume and a few other things. This is going to be the very first big trailer for this movie, so I'd say its arrival is worth promoting. Even if you're skeptical about the movie, odds are it at least has your attention. Thirdly, not only is this teasing the arrival of the debut trailer, but it's also promoting an upcoming fan event. (And yes, I was able to get tickets to it!) Unless you were at SDCC (or watched a low quality version of the video), you haven't seen any footage from the movie; just officially released pictures and maybe some set photos. So yeah, the release of the first trailer is, as Ron Burgundy would say, kind of a big deal.

Sometimes teasers for trailers show a little too much. They'll reveal glimpses of really cool shots in the trailer, and honestly, it kind of takes away from seeing those moments when the trailer does drop. The teaser for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is beyond simple and I love it for that. We're talking about a movie that's a year away and no footage -- again, outside of SDCC -- has been officially released. So, instead of showing us a few jaw-droppers from the upcoming trailer, they build the hype in such a simplistic way. We don't even see the actors! Instead, we're treated to some Hans Zimmer music and we receive a look at the two iconic costumes. It's clearly saving the best moments for the trailer, as well as seeing the first footage of Ben Affleck in the signature costume. It's preparing us for what's to come without blatantly spoiling anything. For me, it's putting the word "teaser" to proper use. It's not revealing anything new; it just leaves me wanting more.
Will the first trailer live up to the hype? Maybe, maybe not. I'll attend the IMAX screening this Monday (and hopefully get a good seat!) and assuming this post isn't a total failure, I'll be sure to share my thoughts on the full trailer. In an era that's full of spoiling stuff well in advance, I'm really, really glad this teaser didn't show us any highlights from the upcoming trailer and instead attempted to get us excited in such a simple yet effective way. We live in a time that'll mark the debut of Batman and Superman sharing the big screen and this is the first official teaser for it. It doesn't give us a look at them in action or even a shot of the two heroes standing in the same room. Instead, it just reminds us we're about to get a whole lot of both of them and I'm legitimately thrilled. We're finally going to see Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, and Wonder Woman in the same movie and it's going to expand the DC Cinematic Universe. I'd say this is an event that's worth teasing and promoting, wouldn't you?

Forty Years in Thailand…

According to my count, next month will mark 40 years since I first set foot in Thailand.  My memories of what it was like are vague at best.  I remember some people I met back then but it was all so long ago and I was so very young and inexperienced.  My life today, though based on that foundation, bears no resemblance to those early days.  I don’t spend time pining away for my youth but I am amazed at how things seem to have turned out.

My first visit to Thailand was during my summer break from university in 1975.  Over the next twelve months I made three more visits all on my own, intrigued by the fact that I just couldn’t get Thailand out of my system.  The more time I spent here the deeper I fell under the spell of this place.  That was not something I had expected.

In 1977 when I finally graduated, I moved to Bangkok with no clear idea of what I would do or how I would stay.  All I knew was this is where I was meant to be.  I felt more myself in Thailand than I did back home.  I have ended up spending my entire adult life here in Thailand, with 30 years in Bangkok and now 8 years in Chiang Rai.

I mention this as a way of explaining why my observations about Thailand might be different from yours.  You see, I have no experience with western careers, marriage, children, debt, divorce, retirement or government benefits.  Thailand has always been easy for me and I sometimes find it hard to understand how it can be so difficult for others.

Apparently, unlike many, I do not have a built in bias against what might be referred to as upper class Thais and the term HiSo is not derogatory in my opinion.  In fact I owe a great deal to the old money families who took me under their wings and nurtured me during those early formative years in Bangkok.  I can’t say with any certainty why they were so accommodating but I suspect my age, appearance and manner may have had something to do with it.

Many find Thailand nearer the end of their lives than the beginning.  It can end up being a dream come true or a nightmare, with unexpected consequences.  The success stories I suspect go about their lives quietly, with those who crash and burn in dramatic fashion getting most of the attention.

Today I learned of the untimely end of someone I expected to see around the village more often.  Having reached retirement age, he started building a veritable mansion just across the highway from us.  We can see the house through the back window about 250 meters away and it looks very near completion.

Each year he would come for a month with his Thai family and we have watched as his children grew into young adults.  This beautiful house was meant to be a new beginning and the focus of the next phase of his life, after work.  Now it seems more like a memorial or mausoleum.  He was able to watch the progress online from his home in Perth but now will never have a chance to live in it.  With his children having grown up in Australia one wonders if anyone will ever end up living in this huge house.

He was a soft spoken and gentle man who was kind and generous.  We were all saddened to hear of his sudden death, apparently due to heart attack.  I find this a poignant reminder that life must be lived to the fullest as none of us know when our time will come.  It is all well and good to make plans and have goals but we must remember not to focus too much on the future and forget to live each day with a sense of joy and wonder.

Deadpool #45 (The Death of Deadpool) review

*Since Deadpool #45 went on sale a week ago, this review contains plenty of spoilers. It would be tough to talk about the big moment without using some, after all. Also, this review only covers the main story (which is about 31 pages), not the several extra chapters.*
When a big event takes place in the Marvel Universe, the story usually bleeds into various titles. For example, Civil War had a whole lot of tie-in story arcs as we got to see how the big debate between Captain America and Iron Man was impacting other heroes and villains. Who was on Tony's side? Who was on Steve's side? Who was just trying to avoid all of the craziness? After a few issues or so, these titles would then go back to business as usual. However, Marvel's upcoming event, Secret Wars, is so much more than "yet another" big event. This one is totally reinventing the Marvel Universe by destroying the one we've come to know. Instead of simply appearing in several titles before it fades away, Secret Wars is acting like a genocidal maniac. This upcoming event is the reason several titles are coming to an end (or at least it certainly seems that way) and, as we've all known for awhile now, Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn's Deadpool run is one of Secret Wars' victims. But hey, at least they had dozens of issues with the Merc with a Mouth. W. Haden Blackman only had eleven issues with Elektra! Sorry for the tangent, but that still really disappoints me. Seriously, it was such a great series. Anyway, you're here to read about Deadpool's death, so I'll get back to that.

We already know two things going into this issue. One is we're aware this is the final chapter of the volume. The other? Deadpool is going to die. If you didn't already know that, the intro page makes sure to tell you, as does the cover. When the announcement was first made that Wilson's going to die, one of the most common theories was that Deadpool will die, but Wade Wilson will live on. Basically, after all of the nonsense and madness Deadpool had to go through and then seeing how it put the people he cares about in danger, he realizes it's time to walk away from that lifestyle. It's not the most original "death" around, but it's a fitting one for the guy. He's certainly earned it, hasn't he? I mean, how else would U.L.T.I.M.A.T.I.U.M. (God, that's a pain to type) kill the seemingly unkillable anti-hero? Some crazy plot device that negates his healing factor? How original, right? Would you even want that organization to be the one that kills Deadpool (for now)? My answer: no way. Thankfully, co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn avoided the blatantly obvious option and instead offer a death that's both appropriate and serves as hilarious commentary on big events. Secret Wars killed Deadpool's title... and the event kills him, too.
In case you're out of the loop, the Avengers have been dealing with this little thing called incursion. The Marvel 616 Earth and another Earth are going to collide and it's up to Earth's Mightest Heroes to stop that from happening. Well, they failed and these two planets crashing together is what brings about the demise of our lovable lead. That's right, a big event shoved its way into Deadpool's world (something that already happened twice in the series), but this time it's causing the end of the title and the end of everyone in it. To me, that's hysterical because it shows how Marvel's bigger picture can often get in the way of a satisfying story that's going on in solo titles. I imagine this will seem random to some and lackluster to others (I'm sure plenty were hoping for Deadpool going out in a blaze of glory), but the combination of this being funny and heartfelt makes it pretty fitting. Wade does attempt to kill "Deadpool" by walking away from that life when his fight with U.L.T.I.M.A.T.I.U.M. is over and, in his final moments before those worlds explode, he's finally happy. He's surrounded by the people he loves and when that alternate Earth comes racing towards their planet, he doesn't freak out. He doesn't panic. He doesn't scream. In this moment, he's at ease. He simply hugs his daughter and knows what true happiness and love is. After all of the messed up, dark, depressing and violent things Wade has endured in this series (and everything which came before it), I'd say this is a damn good ending for him. For us? Well, that'll obviously vary from reader to reader, but I think it's both funny and appropriate. The dude is literally being taken out by the very thing that's killing is book -- something none of us expected -- and he's getting the "happy" ending he deserves. Even if it's just a few seconds of bliss before everything goes dark, it's well worth it for him. He's endured how many years of torment, after all?

Before Deadpool's demise, we get the chance to see the 616 version of the character unleash one final time. We know he has no problem killing, but a previous big event, Axis, messed with his head and he was really hoping to resolve his conflicts in non-fatal ways. But when an evil organization goes after the people you love and burns down their home? Yeah, the gloves come off. What follows is an absolutely brutal display that paints Wade Wilson as a true killing machine. There's just enough humor in there to prevent things from getting too dark, but overall, this is basically Wade doing his best impression of the Terminator. He's cracking some jokes and there's a bit of levity in the way it all plays out, but the guy is still frightening, cold, and shockingly lethal. This is where artist Mike Hawthorne, inker Terry Pallot, and colorist Jordie Bellaire really grab our attention and all of the mayhem is a twisted joy to witness. Deadpool is downright badass the whole time and these visuals strike a nice balance between horrifyingly savage and humorous. The rest of the issue is consistently animated (the assault on the homes also look good thanks to an unexpected twist) and the final pages allow Bellaire to really escalate the big moment, but this giant war zone really is the visual highlight. Here's hoping Hawthorne gets to illustrate the character in the future because I really love his his work with Wade. No matter what the expression or tone is, Hawthorne makes the merc look good.
As someone who cares about the well-being of this fictional character (because I'm an adult like that), I'm happy Deadpool's final moments were heartwarming and tranquil for him. As the world literally comes to an end and everyone freaks out about it, he simply accepts what is going on and appreciates the fact he's holding onto the most important thing in his life: his daughter. Maybe -- just maybe -- he made that horrifying situation easier to accept for his daughter as well. It sure seems like it. Maybe I'm a total sap for loving that, but I've been rooting for the guy and it's great he gets to experience the joy he deserves. Part of me is frustrated with this ending, though. I think it's a nice blend of heart and humor -- something the co-writers often handle well -- but I'm left wondering what issue #45 would be like if Secret Wars wasn't completely changing the Marvel Universe. Would the series have a few more story arcs for us to enjoy? Or would this still be the end? You know, minus the worlds colliding. I'll probably never know and the fact we already know Deadpool has a limited series post-Secret Wars means Wade Wilson (just not the 616 version, I guess) won't be absent in the comics. Battleworld, the place that'll serve as the new Marvel Universe, will be full of alternate versions of characters, so I'm certain we'll see much more of him. So, when it comes to the bigger picture, his death really isn't that big of a deal. This isn't happening because the publisher is doing a petty move in an effort to hurt Twentieth Century Fox; it's happening because the publisher is setting a whole new stage for (some) of its heroes and villains. But as an ending of this run for comic book readers who know Secret Wars is just around the corner? Yeah, I'd say this is a pretty entertaining way for the run to say "goodbye." There's a whole lot of crazy action, just enough insight into Wade, and a fitting amount of humor and heart. It's not as emotional or as epic as one might expect, but this fan of Duggan and Posehen's run is very pleased. Here's hoping Marvel's smart enough to put the entire run into one mega omnibus. I mean, I wouldn't be able to afford it, but that would be one hell of an awesome gift.

Oh, and as expected, the "lost" issue is a blast. Scott Koblish never disappoints.

Bloodshot Reborn #1 review

When you think of Bloodshot, what immediately comes to mind? Over-the-top violence? Pale skin with red eyes and a red circle on the chest? Even more vicious violence? Jeff Lemire tells you what he thinks about Bloodshot right in the opening (while also providing some exposition for new readers) and then spends the rest of the issue completely redefining the character. So yeah, you can bet the title of this series is pretty literal.
If you were brainwashed by a shady organization and used as their hitman for God knows how many years, how would you feel if you were finally free from their control and that life of violence? And what if your final mission ended with a tragedy? Would you bury those feelings deep down inside of you as you embrace your freedom and see what it's like to finally live like an ordinary person? Or would the weight of your previous actions crush you? After all, it's unclear just how many lives you've taken. With Bloodshot, Jeff Lemire makes it clear we're dealing with a guy who is being eaten alive by his past and understandably so. The character isn't sight-seeing or frolicking in a field, he's laying low and simply surviving as his former life slowly tears away at him. This is Bloodshot like you've never seen him before (well, post-reboot; no idea about in the past) and it's a really gripping and emotionally powerful approach to the character. You go in expecting bloodshed, bullets and brutal madness as Bloodshot embarks on his next mission, and instead we get a comic that's 99.9% character-driven -- one that can be appreciated by new and pre-existing fans. There's a tiny amount of commentary in here about violence and gun control, but the primary focus is making us feel for this damaged guy.

Bloodshot's in a rough place and it is a dark book, yet it isn't overly depressing. Lemire finds a way to make Bloodshot's low point both entertaining and insightful. You'll get more out of it if you've been following the character over the past few years, but the handling of the character study is so well executed that I'm sure new readers will still establish an emotional connection to the dude and finish the comic with a strong desire to read even more.
Lemire's script pulls you right into Bloodshot's world, and artist Mico Suayan and colorist David Baron do a beyond excellent job making sure everything looks great. When you're dealing with Bloodshot, you don't want bright and energetic visuals. These two perfectly understand the tone Lemire's going for and the end result are some gritty pages that are full of great, expressive character work and a commendable amount of attention is given to each and every location. (Minor gripe: I noticed the video game had the same moment in multiple panels, so I'll just assume the kid paused it?) Early on, there's one page that allows Baron to steal the spotlight as the layout calls for attention-grabbing shades of red. It's easily the most striking page in the comic. And don't worry, the opening gives you all of the twisted violence you'd want from a Bloodshot story before taking a more compelling and emotional turn. Oh, and comic readers know Lemire is also an artist and he provides a little bit of character work in this one. I know you're probably thinking Lemire's style is drastically different than Suayan's, but trust me, they make it work.

Bloodshot Reborn is taking a smart and entertaining approach to the character that you think you know so well. Lemire's opening chapter makes sure it quickly catches up new readers and then delves deep into who this Valiant character really is and why he's not as one-dimensional as some may think. There's only a loose teaser about the bigger picture, but that's not exactly a bad thing when there's such a terrific focus on humanizing this killing machine. Throw in Suayan and Baron's amazing pages and yeah, this is a comic that earns your $3.99 and then some. When you go into this, you're only getting a small sample of the Bloodshot you've come to know. If you want savage mayhem, there's plenty of Bloodshot collections you can pick up and enjoy. But if you're looking for something different with the character, this one's definitely for you. It looks like Valiant has yet another awesome series for us and I can't say I'm even remotely surprised. The publisher's doing a great job focusing on quality over quantity.

Bloodshot Reborn #1 goes on sale April 15.

Batman vs. Robin review

I love Damian Wayne. I think the little dude is simply an awesome hero. Quick-witted, hilariously blunt, and surprisingly formidable, he quickly became my favorite Robin. Damian's had some great stories in the comics, but unfortunately, his animated debut in Son of Batman wasn't exactly the strongest feature from the new DC Animated Universe. However, he's getting a second chance in the spotlight with the appropriately titled Batman vs. Robin. Yes, the father and son technically do fight, but the "vs." really applies to their relationship. Can Batman be a father and a hero's mentor? Can Damian earn his father's trust? Does he even want to earn it or will Bruce's methods push him away? This one is all about character, readers. Don't worry, there's plenty of punching and kicking as well!

This animated feature doesn't draw any strong parallels to Grant Morrison's "Batman vs. Robin" storyline (at least none that I recognized) and it instead takes some major inspiration from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Court of Owls" and Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's "Born to Kill." Both are pretty excellent stories ("Born to Kill" is without question one of my favorite New 52 arcs), so it's understandable to go into this movie with some pretty high expectations, even if you weren't a fan of some of the recent animated features. Thankfully, there's a solid creative team behind this movie and it really does show.
Directed by Jay Oliva (The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox) and written by J.M. DeMatteis ("Kraven's Last Hunt"), Batman vs. Robin is all about the difficult relationship between Bruce Wayne and his son, Damian. If you watched Son of Batman, read the comics, or just quickly googled the character, then you know Damian was raised by Ra's al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, and the League of Assassins. Batman is all about solving conflicts with a strict no-kill rule (well, unless they're basically zombies), so that makes their dynamic an interesting one. Damian was raised to believe that killing your foes is the right thing to do, and Batman is doing his best to make his child realize he needs to resist taking fatal measures. Seeing as they've been apart for so long and Damian was raised by villains, there's also a wee bit of a trust issue going on. As if things weren't difficult enough as is, the Court of Owls enters the pictures to make matters far more complicated. In this story, Talon takes Damian under his wing and attempts to tell him that yes, killing bad guys is the right thing to do. Seeing as Damian and Bruce are arguing so much and they're having trouble connecting, Damian isn't exactly opposed to the idea of joining forces with another "hero."  If you've read Snyder and Tomasi's work, you can tell DeMatteis has pretty much given Talon Morgan Ducard's role. If you haven't, well, go read those stories! Seriously, check 'em out.

The story here is solid. Unlike some of the other movies, it doesn't feel like it's rushing through character-driven scenes in order to get to the explosive conclusion. Sure, the action is probably the part that'll really win you over and I'll admit Batman's stubborn attitude can make him frustrating instead of simply seeming unaware about how to properly balance being a father and a hero, but this movie did a good job handling both character and story progress. It really did stand apart from the source material in a creative way, too. It's really cool that Talon is basically Ducard and that brought more way more emotion to the story. Aside from Batman: Assault on Arkham, the latest DC animated movies haven't done a great job selling their villains. Ocean Master and Black Manta didn't receive nearly enough focus; Deathstroke's story felt uninspired and seeing him lose to Damian in an extended fight is tough to swallow; Darkseid was basically there for one big boss battle. That really isn't the case here and they make sure Talon is there for plenty of kick-ass action while also playing a substantial role in the narrative. The twists probably won't drop your jaw, but it all plays out in an entertaining way and there's a legitimately heartwarming moment in the end -- one which is well-earned. It's brief and predictable yet still totally effective. There's no shame in admitting it'll potentially make you tear up. As the overall narrative moves forward, it never loses sight of making sure to focus on its primary theme: the bond between a mentor and their protege. Even during the opening conflict, this theme is front and center... in a very twisted way, though.
When Jay Oliva is directing, you know you're going to get some exciting action sequences. The choreography -- especially during the final fight between Batman and Talon -- is thrilling and there's plenty of amusing shots. The debut fight with the Talons is downright vicious and watching Batman do everything he can against seemingly impossible odds is a blast; I loved seeing Bruce use different pieces of equipment throughout his fight. It's great to see they just didn't have him to go hand-to-hand the whole time since that would have been totally foolish. Dick Grayon fans will probably feel disappointed by the hero's role, but there's a handful of seconds in there of the agile dude unleashing and it's terrific. Short and sweet sure beats nothing at all, right? The crowded battle is a lot of fun and offers a nice amount of variety. From displays of technique to various gear to a spiffy armor that's taken out in such an unexpected way, the big conflict is a really good time. Plus, even Alfred gets in on the chaos. It's nothing spectacular, but it's still pretty entertaining seeing the guy take part.

There's some great melee combat and fun madness in here, but I do have a criticism: the handling of Damian's capabilities in fights. I don't mind making him formidable -- he should be -- but it'll take some serious plot devices for him to give some iconic characters trouble, and the way he took advantage of them didn't really feel justified. I know it's made clear he'd lose against Bruce in an all-out fight, but the fact he's giving him that much trouble without any other factors playing a role is a little baffling. I can't help but feel like Grayson fans will also feel disappointed. It would have been cool if that brawl concluded the same way as Damian's first violent fight with Tim; that way it isn't downplaying Grayson and still gives Damian credit. I also wish Damian's impressive intellect played a bigger role.

As for the performances, I have to say Jason O'Mara has grown on me. I won't say he's my favorite Batman, but I do believe he's come a long way since Justice League: War. Even when enraged or upset, he gives Bruce a more controlled tone, and I think that's fitting for such a brilliant character. Stuart Allan's perfectly fine as Damian and Jeremy Sisto delivers as Talon, yet the real treat is Kevin Conroy returning to the Wayne family. He doesn't have many lines, but making him voice Bruce's father, Thomas, was a nice dose of fan service. I know we've seen the death of Bruce's parents a gazillion times now, but it's appropriate for this story. Thankfully, it doesn't drag out the scene of his parents being gunned down and instead focuses primarily on the follow-up.
I do have some minor and personal criticisms -- many of them really aren't even worth noting -- but one that I do want to mention takes place early on in the movie. It's a minor spoiler, so skip to the next paragraph if you don't want even a tiny part potentially ruined. If we're dealing with the world's greatest detective, it's tough to believe his reaction when he first sees Damian and Dollmaker out in the snow. If Robin's weapon had blood on it (for example, he could have cut the guy's leg to make the villain trip), the Dark Knight's reaction would be easier to swallow. Instead, I was left feeling like Batman would demand to know what happened instead of immediately blaming his son. I get there's the issue of trust, but after what they went through in Son of Batman and the time they spent together that we haven't seen, it felt like an unnecessarily harsh response. I know the situation was dark and it impacted Damian personally, but it seems like Bruce's interactions with Damian made him surprisingly cold and mean. Even when he's just curious about what his son is reading, he pretty much swipes the book from Damian's hands! I also wish this movie took advantage of some of the story elements that took place towards the end of "Born to Kill," but at the same rate, you have to respect them for doing their own thing with these two story arcs. Oh, and I thought having the owl carrying a bat was a little too blunt. But hey, that's like, a few seconds out of the whole movie. No biggie. 

I know some of you weren't the biggest fans of Son of Batman and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. Those experiences may have you feeling uninterested in this latest feature and honestly, I wouldn't blame you for feeling that way. I didn't love those two features, either. However, I'm here to tell you that you really shouldn't let those two movies prevent you from watching this one. Batman vs. Robin is pretty awesome and it's definitely worthy of a purchase. While those previous movies disappointed because of lackluster villains or very generic story beats, this one thrives because it has a solid balance of character insight, a fleshed-out bad guy, and excellent action sequences. Batman: Assault on Arkham is still my favorite post-Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox animated movie, but this one absolutely takes second place. Even if you're not a fan of the story, the action is pretty much guaranteed to win you over. (Unless you hate Damian, that is.) Here's hoping the next Batman movie -- you know, if we do get another one -- is every bit as good as this one. And if we do get one, I'm still hoping for "Hush" or maybe even "Knightfall" as a two-parter. A man can dream, yeah?

Oh, and just so you know, there unfortunately isn't a credits scene. Bummer, right? But hey, at least Justice League: Gods and Monsters looks cool. Bruce Timm for the win!

Eleven Two & Co. Restaurant in Phuket Town

Because we live near Phuket Town, if we are eating out we often head to town or nearby and we have several favourite restaurants. But Phuket Town is constantly changing, new restaurants and cafes open often as the old town in particular gets popular as a place to visit. The center of the old town is Thalang Road which used to be the main market street 100 years ago and is still home to older shops selling cloth, hardware and herbal medicine. There is a weekly Sunday market on Thalang Road too. One of our favourite places to eat along Thalang Road is Kopitiam, and I have found Since 1892 good for a coffee, and then you have a couple of old Muslim roti restaurants on the same street. A newer restaurant, Eleven Two & Co. opened in late 2013 and I have been a couple of times just for a snack or a drink. Last week, I met up with fellow blogger Tim for a proper meal there, as the menu did look quite tempting!

Sunset time on Thalang Road

(above) Eleven Two is situated on Thalang Road in the heart of Phuket Old Town. It's on the left side of the photo above. You can see it's built into an old shophouse and I am glad to say the owners have kept the old style.

First thing .. a drink! The drinks menu is pretty big with all kinds of coffee, different teas, smoothies, sodas and beers. A few "special" imported beers available, but at 250 Baht per bottle, I'd rather stick with a simple Chang or Singha! There's even one import beer on the menu called "Dog B" with a menu price of 1,250 Baht! If anyone tries it, do let me know.

Chang Beer with free Prawn Crackers

(above) And you get some free prawn crackers with your beer :)

Eleven Two & Co

Most of the seating is open air, some right by the street, some just inside. There is also an aircon room if you can't stand the heat. I much prefer sitting near the street. Thalang Road is not really busy, you're not sitting by a highway here! The food menu has Thai dishes, burgers, pizza, salads, sandwiches and more. Prices a bit higher than your average Thai restaurant, but a decent price for burgers and pizzas. First time I stopped here with my wife for a snack, and the chicken satay french fries looked like a good idea - see photo below, went very well with a cold beer.

Chicken Satay with French Fries (Chips)

With Tim and his wife, we ordered a whole variety of dishes .... you have to try a few things before judging a restaurant! First up was a bruschetta selection. Pretty much a light meal on its own!

Mixed Bruschetta

And my main dish ... well, I do eat Thai food about 90% of the time, and when I go for something non-Thai, it's often a burger. And I don't mean McDonalds, no, no. I like a good homemade burger, big and fat, lots of real meat. And what I got at Eleven Two was the "Northern Tribe Burger" - just what the doctor ordered!

Burger at Eleven Two & Co

I had actually ordered something called the "Cheese Lava Pork Burger" but it was not available - a good reason to go again :)

And another side dish - spicy pork with tortillas ...

Spicy snack at Eleven Two & Co

I like this kind of restaurant, a bit arty, a bit different, a selection of foods that I might not normally eat. And the old town is a good place to find a more interesting place to eat. I can recommend Eleven Two & Co. for lunch or dinner. I think it's closed on Mondays. A place I will eat again for sure.

Eleven Two & Co. - Location Map

Daredevil is the comic book show I've been waiting for

*Don't worry, there's no big spoilers in here.*

Marvel and Netflix's first limited series, Daredevil, is finally here and man, it was so worth the wait. Before I get into why I think it's all kinds of terrific, I want to make one thing crystal clear: this article isn't a jab at the other comic book shows. I'm absolutely loving The Flash; Arrow's quality jumps around yet it still has my attention; The Walking Dead's latest season showed a lot of promise; Constantine was solid; Nick's TMNT is a total joy. I hear Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has made significant improvements, but I'm way too behind and don't see myself catching up with it in the near future. Sorry, S.H.I.E.L.D. fans. "But Gregg, what about Gotham, Powers, and iZombie?" Hey, random reader, I'm trying to get to why I really enjoyed Daredevil, but sure, I'll quickly answer that. Gotham: wasn't a fan, sorry. Powers: has potential, but rarely leaves me hooked. So, I'm left feeling down the middle. iZombie: sorry, haven't checked it out yet. Now, let's get to why Daredevil made such a strong impression, okay?
Daredevil wasn't kidding when he said Hell's Kitchen is his city.
There were a lot of concerns about Daredevil's tone and I'd say understandably so. The Marvel Cinematic Universe can sometimes be a pretty lighthearted place -- Marvel Studios obviously aims to make sure its projects can be enjoyed by a wide variety of viewers. Even when stories take serious or more compelling turns, the minds behind these films try to make sure you have a good amount of fun throughout the adventure. Sometimes the emphasis on comedy can be a little too much, but for the most part, the trips into the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been a pretty good time. However, seeing as this is on Netflix and going for a more "street level" approach, there were understandable concerns this limited series would be overly dark and gritty just because it now has the freedom to bring more mature content. Thankfully, that wasn't the case and I think the minds behind this series did an excellent job delivering a tone that's serious and gripping while also having just the right amount of darkness and levity.

The show is not too dramatic and the occasional bits of comedy most definitely don't get in the way of the more serious story and it doesn't ever feel out of place, either. (Unless you dislike Foggy, but that doesn't apply to me.) What's really great is this show doesn't let loose simply because it can. It shows a lot of restraint with its graphic content, making those especially savage moments even more effective when they do drop. Just because they can curse or show gruesome violence doesn't mean they're constantly throwing it in our faces and I think that's to be commended. We get a proper look at just how ugly the situation in Hell's Kitchen has become (the very first episode includes human trafficking, after all) and we feel the weight behind these situations, yet surprisingly gory displays of violence aren't common and when characters do curse, it feels natural instead of just some attempt to be edgier. They aren't saying "shit" every other sentence just because they can and when they do have disturbing elements, they're handled appropriately instead of aiming just for shock value. When there's a very unsettling story about a twisted father, it's used to enhance Matt Murdock's story; it's not there just to stun. The show has plenty of darker elements, a ton of drama, and a whole lot of violence, yet it's not a depressing experience that feels like it's taking itself way too seriously. It brings the kind of content you'd never see in one of Marvel Studios' movies, yet it doesn't feel like it's a different world, either. We're just exploring a whole new part of the one we already know pretty well. Avengers Tower may be right around the corner, but this show is exploring conflicts that are simply under the powerful team's radar.

Photo by Barry Wetcher.
Daredevil's overall story has plenty of familiar elements. The hero trying to save his city; he questions whether he should kill his enemies and whether he should reveal his secret to the ones closest to him; the media and authorities think he's a problem; there's the power hungry villain; so on and so on. Despite this, the show doesn't feel uninspired or repetitive because it focuses on humanizing and building its characters. Foggy isn't just there for laughs. Murdock's moral dilemmas aren't handled in a way that make me go, "Yeah, Arrow already covered this, man." Karen Page isn't just a potential love interest. Ben Urich isn't just in the story to give us exposition. This may be Daredevil's story, but the show did a mighty fine job making me feel emotionally connected to each of these characters and that's what truly matters. Sure, this is a show about a superhero and it ends in a very standard way, but what helps it standout is just how character-driven each and every episode is. Best of all? The relationship elements aren't cringeworthy! They could have had a seriously annoying and predictable love triangle or dragged out some of the relationships, yet they were able to dance around this and handled these stories in a reasonable way. You kind of go into these shows expecting some frustrating romance drama and thankfully, Daredevil didn't give us that. These storylines are still present, but they aren't front and center and they sure aren't cheesy, either. This show got me invested in these characters and the fact it's so well-acted certainly doesn't hurt.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of interesting heroes, but overall, the villains haven't exactly been one of the universe's biggest strengths. Luckily for us, that isn't the case in Daredevil. They could have gone with cliche crime lords and one-dimensional baddies, but instead of being lazy with its antagonists and focusing mostly on the good guys, the show gave its foes a great amount of insight. Some may not enjoy the show's take on Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin, but I view it as the big guy's origin story. Instead of him just acting like a tough guy and enjoying a cigar, we're given a far more complex and fleshed out foe. The actor, Vincent D'Onofrio, does an awesome job handling the surprisingly awkward character's mannerisms. This isn't the Kingpin you'd expect, but he's still able to command respect and absolutely reminds us he's a brutal, brutal man. The other villains don't receive as much insight -- which is to be expected -- but they still get more than enough of the spotlight at one point or another. After watching the first episode, I was concerned the handling of the villains would be really generic. Well, this is me happily eating my words.

Photo by Barry Wetcher
The show obviously has a few reminders that this takes place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the big battle in The Avengers is discussed a handful of times and there's a joke about the iconic heroes' abilities), but the show also did a pretty satisfying job building up the hype for future Netflix shows. I didn't spot any Luke Cage or Jessica Jones easter eggs, but there's a few really neat ones for Iron Fist's world. There's a whole lot of love given to Daredevil's mythos, too. From a potential nod to Elektra to even something little like Gladiator's symbol, there's a whole lot of fan service in here. I mean, they even have a freaking Stilt-Man easter egg. How awesome is that?

I can be a pretty big snob when it comes to action. For example, I was told by many that Captain America: The Winter Soldier had brilliant and stunning action sequences. I saw it the day after I watched The Raid 2 and I couldn't help but feel like the action was just pretty good. Certainly the best choreography we've seen from a Marvel Studios movie, but it wasn't as intense as it was built up to be. So, you can bet I was feeling a little skeptical about how Daredevil's agility and hand-to-hand encounters would be handled. Thankfully, a majority of it is solid and there's more than a few moments that were legitimate jaw-droppers. There's an extended and astonishing shot that'll remind you of Oldboy and they frequently manage to use slow motion at just the right moments. Okay, sometimes you can tell when there's a stunt double or you may question why someone is such a terrible shot, but overall, the action sequences are massively entertaining and oh-so-visceral. Daredevil isn't as agile as you may expect him to be, but they remind us every now and again that the dude is a brawler and nimble. He endures some crazy stuff and there's dozens upon dozens of harsh punches. And when the show does unleash some stronger displays of violence, they're definitely memorable.
From left to right: Dr. Evil, the latest voice of Wonder Woman, Cyclops, Gwen Stacy, Fulton Reed. 
Daredevil offered basically everything I wanted from it. It had an excellent focus on character, cool and sometimes even creative action sequences, and it did a great job balancing comedy and a grittier tone. The cast certainly delivered with their performances and the story even manages to avoid all of the cliche relationship drama that seems to be a mandatory ingredient in some shows! Now, it's obviously not flawless. You'd want to give up attempting to count the amount of times anyone says "city," some story elements drag a bit, and I was left wanting more from the ending. But if you put my complaints on one scale and my praise on another one, it's pretty clear I think this is a damn good show. Daredevil's emotional, gripping, and brings just the right amount of fun. We're talking about a comic book show that embraces the source material, offers thrilling action, and has a smart script and solid performances. What more could you want? My expectations are raised for the next four Netflix shows.

Oh, and now that we know they're cool with making the action more brutal and occasionally even over-the-top, Gareth Evans needs to direct the Iron Fist show. Make that happen, Netflix and Marvel!

Many Improvements at the Levittown, NY Old Country Buffet

I have said many times on this site that the manager and employees can make or break a buffet restaurant and that has been so true at the Levittown, New York Old Country Buffet since it opened many years ago. I have written many times about this buffet - mainly in the negative - but there have been some significant changes over this past winter and they coincide with a change in the general manager.

Battle of the Stephen Amells: Arrow vs. Casey Jones

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE AMELL! Sorry, couldn't resist.
When someone says "Stephen Amell," odds are you immediately think of Arrow. That may change next year since the actor has been cast as Casey Jones -- the rough vigilante who wears a hockey mask -- in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel. We'll just have to wait and see if he becomes an awesome version of the fan favorite character, but for now, I can't help but wonder what would happen if these two heroes got into a brawl. We know Amell will get plenty of "who would win in a fight?" questions about these two at press junkets, and odds are he'll try his best to makes sure he doesn't upset either fanbase. Or maybe he'll totally surprise us and say one blatantly wins. Guess we'll find out eventually. However, I have no problem declaring a winner and I do believe one of these vigilantes does hold a clear edge. Before I say who should be the one left standing when the fight is over, let's go over their advantages and disadvantages. I mean, it's the fair thing to do, right?

Amell's Green Arrow is a gifted hand-to-hand fighter and one hell of a good shot with projectile weapons. He's held his own against various skilled enemies in melee combat over the course of 3 seasons. From China White to Deathstroke to Maseo, we know he's one of the strongest melee combatants in his world. He's had trouble with plenty of enemies and it was clear people like Bronze Tiger and Ra's al Ghul are his superior in technique, but he was still able to give Bronze Tiger trouble and Ra's had a whole lot of praise for Arrow's abilities as a fighter (despite the fact the hero was totally sloppy during their fight, but whatever). Simply put, the dude's got solid technique and that has allowed him to adapt to a variety of opponents and thanks to the harsh stuff he endured on the island and then in Starling City, we know he can take quite a lot of punishment, too. Obviously, he's had plenty of showings to justify he's a good shot with everything from an ordinary arrow to a throwing dagger. That's established right from the very first episode (those poor tennis balls) and even though Ray Palmer wasn't moving, a recent episode of Arrow showed Oliver can quickly use a throwing weapon with great precision. This should be proof he's capable of disarming Casey at a distance. Well, assuming he even tries to.

"Goongala? You have failed at catchphrases."
Arrow's pretty awesometastic in combat, but despite having a bunch of trick arrows available to him, he doesn't tend to use them very frequently. He's also quick to rush into melee combat despite being an impressive marksman. He could beat most characters by hanging back and putting those trick arrows to use, but he doesn't do that all that often. Sure, we can say he regularly avoids that strategy because it would make many of the show's conflicts way too easy for him, but we have to treat that as how he acts in character. So, even though he could quickly end this with some trick arrows right when the fight starts, that doesn't seem very probable and the odds of him choosing to duke it out after firing just a few arrows are very likely. He'll also do everything he can to avoid killing, and while that technically isn't a disadvantage (it certainly doesn't make Batman any less dangerous, does it?), it does mean he's holding back and this is something that can be taken advantage of. Arrow's hesitation could give Casey the small opening he'd need for a cheap shot.

We've seen plenty of versions of Casey Jones and right now we have no idea what Amell's version will be like, but the one thing they all have in common is they're aggressive brawlers who have no problem dishing out a cheap hit. In fact, Jones tends to love landing cheap hits. Whether it's while his enemy is talking or if they think he may be down for the count, the Ninja Turtles character uses any opportunity he can to strike his enemy when their guard is down. It's not the most honorable approach around, but when your fighting style is sometimes "it's okay if you get hit, just hit back harder," then I guess you got to do what you got to do. He doesn't have the same extensive training and technique Arrow has, but he makes up for that by simply being an incredibly tough dude. His first brawl with Raphael (in the Mirage comic) was a brutal encounter that wiped both of them out and since then we've seen him land plenty of cheap shots when his enemies think he's too weak to continue and have their guard down. Seeing as Arrow loves to get in close and he wouldn't want to dish out any lethal damage, I'd say there's a good chance Casey Jones is going to get some extremely cheap hits in. They may not keep Oliver down for the count, but even stunning the archer would leave him vulnerable to some follow-up attacks.

 "You want a fist in the mouth? I've never even looked at your abs." 
Casey's one tough fellow who knows how to take a hit and send one back even harder, but he isn't the most tactical or skilled fighter around. It's clear Oliver has the edge in martial arts knowledge and that means he's going to land more hits. We know Casey can take a beating, but he's only human and those hits will begin to add up. He'll use this to his advantage and get a sucker punch or two in as Arrow thinks his opponent is going to stay down, but the longer the fight goes on, the more and more it shifts in Oliver's favor. While Casey's limited to close combat (he could throw his blunt weapons, but he'd be throwing them at a dude who deals with marksmen, so it's not a game changer), Arrow can eventually think something along the lines of, "Okay, I'm done with this," and use a trick arrow to take Casey out of the fight. Whether it's an electric arrow to the chest, a rope tying Casey to a wall, or even just using an explosive close enough to knock Casey down, Arrow is bringing so much more versatility to the fight. There's no reason to believe he wouldn't be okay with tagging Casey in non-lethal areas with some regular arrows as well. When it's up close, it'll be entertaining as Oliver dishes out better skill and Casey unleashes a more rough and direct style, but at a distance, well, Casey better hope he has plenty of cover.

In the end, I just don't see Casey Jones' toughness overcoming Arrow's superior skill and variety of gear. Knowing Arrow, this will come down to close combat at some point (the guy was foolish enough to go hand-to-hand against Bronze Tiger in their second brawl), but I think he'd eventually realize the best way to take a key edge over Jones is with one of his spiffy arrows. Even if that doesn't happen, he can just win because of his better hand-to-hand knowledge. It would be a pretty cool battle to witness and Arrow would probably walk away with some bruises, but in the end, I see the DC hero holding all of the important advantages. He's more skilled, has more options, and he definitely doesn't have a glass jaw. That said, I'd be rooting for Casey Jones the entire time. Sorry, Arrow.

Just a couple of days to start the Easter break

Up at 7:00am to get ready for a trip to Lake Eyasi. My neck was feeling crappy having been bounced around while testing out the land rover we'd hired the previous day, I'd had a few issues getting a vehicle and then fuel the previous day and was not in the best of moods.

My not so subtle 'I don't really want to go' dialogue:
7:20 'My neck really hurts, those bumpy roads have done me in, not sure I'll cope again today'
7:50 'We can't afford this trip' and then I made a list of the things that we need to spend money on.
7:55 'The rain is really starting to pour, the wipers aren't good on the car'
8:00 'Shall we just go with the P-Rs (our neighbours who were going to the same place) it will mean only one day but we'll save on fuel and accommodation' I pop round the corner to confirm we'll travel down in their car.
8:10 'Actually Emily it really is a miserable morning, don't you fancy a day in your pyjamas?'
8:15 'Emily. I don't feel like going.'

To all of it Emily responded with sensible suggestions and understood, like a parent trying to coax a fat child to go into school on sports day.

It was a strange and welcome relief to not have to go but most uncharacteristic, I love me an adventure. Though I'm sure we were missing a great couple of days, for whatever underlying reasons I was pleased to have been honest. Instead we had a lovely relaxed morning cuddled up on the sofa watching Monsters University as the rain beat down outside. Emily cooked soup and baked bread for lunch and once the weather brightened up we sat on our porch and read. My book was about identifying psychopaths and I identified myself several times and Emily once before concluding that we were probably both fine. As the sun set Emily gave the house a spray of mosquito killer but when we came in the sofa had become a small graveyard for ants that had dropped from the ceiling. I felt guilty for the collateral damage and after we'd brushed the bodies aside more continued to drip on us from the ceiling; it was raining ants but these ones were still moving. I consoled myself that because ants have it built in to follow the one in front these ants weren't writhing around in their final breath they were simply following their friend thinking the jump was a game.