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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Comic Book Spotlight - Star Wars: Crimson Empire

            Well everyone we are less then a day away from the release of the latest Star Wars film and to be honest I could not be more excited.  While there are a number of people among the “hardcore” Star Wars fans who like to hate on The Force Awakens I for one really enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing where these characters go.  It has a new writer-director who I have been a fan of for years and Lucasfilm cannot stop praising his work and seems to be taking the characters in new and interesting directions.  How confident are they in this man?  Well they literally gave him his own trilogy of films to do whatever he wants with them to be produced sometime after Episode IX wraps up.  So, yea.  You might say that I’m looking forward to this one.  And yes.  As I am sure you have already guessed, we at The Nerd Hub have a comic that we are going to look at to celebrate the release as we did last year.  But this time we’re going to take a look at something a little older.  Something from the Dark Horse days.  This is Comic Book Spotlight shining a light on Star Wars: Crimson Empire
            Published from December of 1997 through May of 1998, the miniseries was written by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley with artwork by Paul Gulacy and was part of the original Star Wars Extended Universe.  The plot follows the last member of the Royal Imperial Guard, (the guys in red who were always around the Emperor in the films), named Kir Kanos who is currently on the run from the Empire’s forces after the deaths of his fellow guards and the Emperor’s final clone, (the EU was a weird place).  Holding a secret that could potentially destroy the Empire’s new defacto leader, former Royal Guard Carnor Jax, Kanos flees to a remote smuggler’s haven known as Phaeda.  After his presence became known to the local Imperial garrison, Kanos is forced to ally himself with the local Rebel forces and help them in their fight while Jax heads towards the planet to deal with Kanos personally.  And all around it’s a pretty fun, briskly paced little series that is sure to give you your Star Wars fix.  Even if it doesn’t entirely work.
            The book’s key problem is its story as it tries to be about a little too much all at once within the limit of a six-issue miniseries.  On one hand it’s trying to keep the stakes high by making its main conflict revolve around a man who is literally set to replace the Emperor and the one man who has the dirt on him to stop it.  But it does so through the lens of smaller, more intimate conflicts which is where the problems come in.  There are some obvious plot holes for one thing.  As I was reading the miniseries I couldn’t help but ask myself why a man with such infinite resources would take so few troops to deal with this problem or why in the end he decides to face him in a one on one duel.
            The main problem, however, comes in the forms of Kanos and Jax and their central conflict.  It’s very clear that the conflict between the two is meant to be deep and personal.  Jax apparently violated the honor of the Imperial Guard and Kanos views this as something of a personal betrayal.  The problem, however, is that within the context of this story we know nothing of what this order’s idea of honor actually is or how close the two were.  Aside from one or two flashbacks we don’t really get any idea of the history that these two share or how deep their bond may have been.  Aside from being at the training camp at the same time we’re never told just how close the two were and it gives us little evidence to indicate that they were ever anything more than sparing partners.  This of course should lead us to believe that it was simply a matter of honor for Kanos to take Jax down for his betrayal of the Crimson Guard, but even that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  The main problem with this is that we know next to nothing about the Royal Guard.  We don’t know what their perceptions of honor are.  We don’t know how close these guys are to one another, what their codes are or what they do in their off time.  In other words we know next to nothing of their culture so we have no notion as to what might be considered right or wrong within it, making Jax’s quest for vengeance feel a little empty.  It’s even more eyebrow raising when you consider the fact that they are guarding a man who literally came to rule the galaxy through deceit and treachery.  Yet our main character is constantly going on about how the people who now rule the empire are a bunch of opportunistic snakes who have achieved their positions through deceit, treachery and such.  Now granted this comic was written two years before the Prequel Trilogy was released but given what we now know of it and that more people have probably seen the films then read the EU material, Jax can’t help but come off a bit hypocritical.  Because of all this the main conflict lacks as much substance and depth as it should have and it’s a place where the book doesn’t work.  Luckily pretty much everything else does. 
            The thing about limited series like these is that they are at their best when they are telling smaller, self-contained stories.  Whereas the Kanos/Jax story felt like it should have been part of a much longer, ongoing series the actual story taking place on planet Phaeda does not and feels perfectly at homes within the confines of a miniseries.  The majority of the conflict that is on display in the miniseries primarily deals with the local Imperial garrison and the local members Rebel Alliance and how both leaders are trying to retain control of their respective forces while the threat of Jax’s coming looms on the horizon.  While some of the actual storytelling is a bit janky it none the less remains the best part of the story.

           Through various plot points, character actions and art work the writers and artists tell us just about everything that we need to know about these characters and the planet.  We learn that the Imperial commander is a sketchy man who is always paranoid about oversite.  We learn that the Rebel commander is a bit on the inexperienced side and has trouble maintain order in her own base and heavily relies on the wisdom and strength of her bodyguard to maintain order.  We learn how both sides obtain information, how powerful each garrison is and how unimportant the planet was before Kanos and Jax arrived. 
            It does have to be said, however, that the characters themselves are a bit thin but they get the job done.  The Imperial commander never really amounts to being much more then a slimy corrupt officer, but he does get the job done of being a more immediate, disposable antagonist until Jax arrives.  Rebel commander Mirith doesn’t amount to being much more than the inexperienced, borderline naive rebel command but her story arc does have a pretty good payoff that I won’t spoil here.  Even our primary protagonist and antagonist fall into this.  No, their storyline doesn’t really work but it does have to be said that Jax is an intimidating presence in both the background and as the principle antagonist, maintaining the borderline over the top evil presence that Star Wars antagonists tend to have that make them so much fun.  Kanos is more or less the quiet badass masculine architype that we’ve seen a million times before, but it is pretty cool to see one of these guards in action and it does have to be said that his arc does have a satisfyingly grim pay off.
            It also must be said that for a comic produced in the 90s the art work is really good.  Granted there are a few characters who never seem to stop scowling and Merith’s design is that of a stereotypical 90s female comic character if I’ve ever seen one but for the most part it all works very well.  All the designs are faithful to the source material.  It keeps everything moving at a brisk pace and gives you a clear idea of where people are in relation to one anther and never feels like a panel is too short or too long.  In other words, it’s artwork at its most efficient and professional.

            In the end Star Wars: Crimson Empire is a flawed but entertaining read.  Its main conflict doesn’t entirely work and the characters are little more than architypes.  But before the series ends you will grow to care for them and the smaller planetary conflict does work quite well.  It’s a tad on the disposable side but it is none the less an entertaining read that will give you your Star Wars fix if you’re sick of the main Marvel stuff that is floating around like I was and got me interested enough to check out it's two sequels.  Just don’t expect it to be on par with the writing of Kieron Gillen.

            So until next time, please Like the Nerd Hub Facebook Page, check out The Nerd Hub Facebook groupSubscribe to us on YouTube and be sure to check out my own personal blog, Trey’s Take On…as well as giving my Facebook Page a Like, contribute a dollar or so to my new Patreon Page and checking me out on Twitter.  Until then, let's hope that the sequels will improve on what this one did.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

TNH Roundtables: Full Season Review - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

As we do with other shows, The Nerd Hub sits down to discuss our thoughts on this latest season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. What did they do right and what did they do wrong? Where have they been, and where could they be going? So, take a look at what we had to say and look for our reviews from the upcoming season, as well as, take to the comments section below and let us know what you thought about this series.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was one of the first comic book shows in the new golden age of comic books on screen. It was shown to have much potential but quickly abandoned by many. The show, however, was well done enough to be kept alive by those who stuck by it. As they say, "patience is a virtue". This is one of the only sows in the genre to consistently grow in viewer base and production quality with each new season. Those at its core bring it to its now fifth season. By the time this article comes out, the fifth season will have already aired, but we wanted to sit down and discuss the latest season that helped propel them into this monumental feat, as well as, take a look at what you might expect in the upcoming season. Before we continue, this post contains major spoilers for discussion purposes, and if you would like to, you can skip the jump to our closing paragraph for a spoiler-free recap of our opinion.

We saw this season premiere with Ghost Rider, did they pull off a solid arc with this character? What worked and What didn't?

Jennifer - I feel like the writers did a fantastic job writing in Robbie Reyes. With that said, I'm thankful they did not use Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider because it just wouldn't have been as good as it was since we have already seen this character on screen. I think most can probably agree that they were happy it wasn't Johnny Blaze allowing for an entirely fresh start to the character. Personally, I am truly hoping they figure out a way to write him into The Defenders, with Gabriel Luna playing him, as I think this can create a unique story.

Trey - Yes and no. Most of the problems with it stem from the fact that this is a cheaply produced ABC series and Ghost Rider is an effects-driven monster with an insane body count and it doesn't mesh very well with the money they have to work with, and the fact that ABC is kind of a family-friendly network doesn't help. If you want any further proof of that just look at the Ghost Ride action scenes and compare them to that of the films. I did like the character himself and how they staged him as a tragic hero who got caught up in other people's fights that he had nothing to do with but also doesn't shy away from the fact that he was when all is said and done, a mass murderer. Overall, it's satisfying but could have been better.

Jack - I think that if you were able to ignore the subpar effects due to the budget you will find that the choice to use Robbie Reyes was for the best and worked quite well alongside the Darkhold, as well as, gave a strong story to give him a chance at future development. Reyes story also helped to move along Daisy's as well as Mack's development. Much like all of these subplots, one thing moved itself, as well as, at least one or more other subplots and it worked well.

Fitz and Simmons' relationship grew but had some hiccups along the way due to Fitz grief and the backlash from his decisions on how to ease this grief. One of those was an ever-recurring issue that came in the form of the Life Model Displays. Do you think Fitz did the right thing with his original intention behind A.I.D.A?

Jennifer - Fitz knew at the very least some of the consequences of creating any form of AI or as they call it on the show, an LMD, due to its physical form. So, no; regardless of him not knowing what the Darkhold was or what whoever possessed it was capable of, I do not feel did anything right as far as Aida goes. He helped defy orders and a decent character died. Radcliffe not only created Aida but had ill intentions from the start and he deserved what he got but mace deserved a better fate.

Trey - I would say so, yes. The thing about any new technology or invention is that it's not malevolent in of itself. It's always the human hand that steers it towards paths of destruction and chaos and it's pretty clear that Fitz did not want that to happen. Did it backfire on him in the end? Yes. But the intent itself was pure, so I can't fault him for it.

Jack - I feel that Fitz had the best of intentions that resemble the likes of Stark and Ultron. The one difference, however, is that Fitz didn't cause the corruption, but regardless, Fitz should have know better than to play with such an idea without having the absolute most trustworthy people on board and for me, Radcliffe was never such a thing.

The Darkhold was a major factor this season, involving both Aida and Ghost Rider. Do you feel they tied all of this together well or was it all just too much?

Jennifer - ABSOLUTELY!! They did exactly what they should have done; they brought in as much information as they could without completely overloading the storyline. I'm sure we'll see or at the very least hear more about the Darkhold in the future. I can definitely see how it could seem like they overdid it with the ghosts and the Darkhold on top of adding Ghost Rider to the season, but they wrote it so well that all it did was keep us tuned in.

Trey - I feel like Ghost Rider may have been something of a last minute Deus ex Machina for the plot, but aside from that, it all tied together. And even then, it was properly foreshadowed. It was clear from the get-go that the Darkhold was some kind of book from hell and that using it was tampering with the forces that no one on this planet understood, save for maybe Doctor Strange. So maybe Ghost Rider's final appearance felt a little forced, but his actual function seemed to tie everything together in the end.

Jack - I felt this is what made the season so good. As I mentioned before, all of the plots seemed to play off of one another very well, as they all gave each other a reason for existing and that's really all I have to say as far as that goes.

The Patriot was featured to help the subplot of the re-legitimization of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as, the legitimization of the Inhumans. What worked and what didn't with this arc?

Jennifer - Okay, so The Patriot threw me off in the first few episodes of the season being that I didn't know who he was, to be honest. I may be a little biased, since season one when they had Fury on, I have felt like they could bring in a movie character at least; but no, instead they used The Patriot who needed multiple injections to be like "Capt", not just one. I really didn't like the fact that they made him a fake Inhuman. There are more than enough characters in the universe that they are allowed to use, so they didn't need to add a fake inhuman to the show. A perfect example is a smaller character like Falcon who could fit the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. role and not have it affect his movie continuity more than a quick mention of it. This would allow a human to take the role the role and not have to use that subplot because the interest would be in the strong link to the movies, as well as, some further development into Falcon's backstory that could never be covered in the films being a secondary character. That being said, with the character being planned to be killed off anyway it seems the choice was better anyway. The Patriot won't be missed; at least not by this girl anyways.

Trey - It worked when he was being this uber likable, but still slightly insufferable bureaucrat who was running things the way a corporate executive might run an individual grocery store, but clearly had a few secrets. That allowed the character to have an interesting arc for himself, as well as, giving Coulson and his team an additional obstacle to navigate whereas before they more or less did things on their own terms. What didn't work? When it turned out that he wasn't an Inhuman. The character immediately stopped being interesting and was delegated to a figurehead while Coulson ran the show. That was just lame.

Jack - I can see why they made the choice to make him a fake inhuman to propel the public perception directive, but it was just so poorly done that nobody I've talked to was able to continue to enjoy it and therefore making his death less significant. My guess is that that's what they were going for, but overdid it as they were unsure that the audience wouldn't get too attached to the character.

The L.M.D.'s tested the teams resolve and nearly ruined them. What worked and what did not work with this arc?

Jennifer - I always try to expect the unexpected even watching shows and movies, it's just the way my mind works best and I did not see multiple LMD's coming into play. It was just agent May in the beginning and it seemed like she would be enough to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D., especially since it's May and she is the strongest human on the show, other than Coulson of course. I don't know for sure if it would have ruined the team, even if the lost another member of two there would still be a show as long as it wasn't Coulson, May, or Daisy. I did like the fact that the L.M.D.'s weren't brought in until about halfway through the season; it most definitely kept the momentum going in waiting for the mid-season premiere.

Trey - Honestly, I can't remember anything about this arc. The thing about infiltration/impostor story arcs is that I find them more frustrating than anything else. You know who is bad and these bad guys are in a position of authority which makes it difficult for the heroes to do what they need to do, but it's only a matter of time before the good guys take back over. It's boring. It's literally a retread of the HYDRA stuff from the back end of season one and The Winter Soldier. But it worked in those instances because we didn't see it coming at all and it literally uprooted the entire status quo of not only the character's lives but the entire MCU. Unfortunately, the L.M.D.'s were more or less just a distraction and something to move the plot along a bit. Can't say that I was a fan.

Jack - As Trey said these types of arcs are more infuriating than anything knowing the end result and being so anxious to have it end. I think they should have killed another character with this arc as well and this would have stood out differently, but all in all, it worked well not knowing who was an L.M.D. anymore so than the characters did, aside from May. For instance, the part with Fitz and Simmons was incredible. Agin, however, I would have at least made us think one of the characters died and have it revealed it was an L.M.D. after the fact so that we could have little more emotion drawn other than anxiety. 

We got a glimpse at an alternate reality within The Framework that revealed some truth about the characters. What about this worked with the rest of the arcs, and what didn't?

Jennifer - It played into the show beautifully. Just like expecting the unexpected, I also picture situations from another point of view, so I actually enjoyed seeing what a world ruled by HYDRA would look like. It was an interesting point of view and again helped keep the momentum of the show. The world set in The Framework and the storyline, in general, made the fourth season the best so far and it leaves room for it to get even better. I feel like the only part that didn't work for me was them bringing in Fit'z father. I understand the drama aspect and trying to make a personal connection for Aida to help keep him occupied for her benefit, but it all seemed a tiny bit unnecessary. I think they could've made more connections to the films than they did in other seasons within the framework; I know I'm always a little disappointed in that aspect, but that's because they have so much more to work with than they bother with.

Trey - Well, I'm going to answer this one in reverse. Its main problem was that it went on for far too long. It seemed like it was setting itself up as maybe a two-part/three-part arc, but it just kept going on and on and on. It was pretty cool though to see alternate versions of these characters, (evil Fitz was easily the MVP), as well as some older characters who died earlier in the series be brought back for a little while. It also was an interesting how they took small little background details like Fit'z daddy issues and Mack's daughter and made them into critical plot points in this world. But again, it kind of overstayed its welcome.

Jack - I think this was a great concept that allowed us to see some old faces and new possibilities while still having an effect on the real world. I felt this gave it an extra edge as opposed to something that would revert. I feel like having Mace die solidified this intent, but I think it went on a little too long as if they wanted to do more than they had time for. Almost as if they wrote this arc for their framework but then realized what they had in front of them and had to tame themselves from convoluting it. Regardless, this was a fun arc and the idea of turning otherwise insignificant details into huge plot points really drove these characters developments to new levels and played with our emotions as much as theirs. All around, it worked very well, except for the fact that it probably would have done better on its own, as it probably would be done in the comics.

This season we saw a change in the structure of the show to resemble more comic book style arcs containing sub arcs all to meet and even longer arc, rather than subplots all being within a single arc. Did this new style work for the better or did it convolute the shows writing?

Jennifer - I think the season played out perfect with more of a comic book aspect. It was what kept us on our toes and excited for the next episode. They do cram a lot into most of the comic books and it does feel like it gave us more out of last season. Season four gave us what was essentially enough storyline to cover two seasons. Even with the season feeling a tiny bit cramped due to all of the information that was thrown at us, they gave us enough episodes to spread it all out.

Trey - I think it worked quite personally. It gave us smaller arcs that had quicker resolutions but were actually building up to things in the long term. It gives the average viewer something quick and easy to watch and gives the more hardcore binge watchers a reward for sticking with it from start to finish. It's a style that I approve of and wish Marvel's other series' could take hints from.

Jack  - I think that other shows, most importantly The Flash, need to take some serious notes on this restructure. This structure allowed the show to rank among the best of this comic book television season. It kept everything fresh, tied, and enticing. They don't necessarily need to do a number of episodes equal to the other arc. They could do three or four an arc and do like five arcs like I wish they would do with The Flash if the story called for it, but this was definitely a wise move by them that allowed them to target more of an audience going forward.

What would be one thing you would have added or changed about the last season if you could have?

Jennifer - Again, and I say it every season, I wish they would have tied in with the movies just a little bit more,. Now, I know there was no room nor reason to introduce or mention Spider-Man, but it would be nice to hear a little more than just about the "incident" or the "Sokovia Accords". I know I can't be the only fan who feels this way.

Trey - Based on what we got? Just a reduction of the virtual world arc. That was the that stood out to me the most and caused me to stop watching it for awhile. It wasn't bad, but like I said, it overstayed it's welcome.

Jack - There were only a few minor mistakes this season, which is something that rarely happens. Personally, I would make the color pallet more vibrant. I've felt this way for a few seasons now. I would like that to change more than anything.

At the end of last season, we saw a glimpse of what was to come with the upcoming season. Where do you think they can go with this idea?

Jennifer - FINALLY!! Now, there's an opening for more of a film tie-in, that I'm sure we have all been waiting for. I'm extremely excited to see what is next to come while they're in space. I am freaking ecstatic for the season 4 premiere, which will be two hours!

Trey - I have no idea where they're going to go with it, but what's so cool about it is that they can literally go anywhere with it. That's what's so cool about it and I'm looking forward to seeing it, but that's all I really have to say on the matter.

Jack - Well this opens the doors up to possibilities that are quite literally making the sky the limit. Anything can happen and this can really shake things up if done right so I'm really excited for the upcoming season and what potentials may be in store. Perhaps a revisit to the Kree? Perhaps more Inhumans? Not entirely sure, but I would like to see it serve a purpose much like the arcs of this latest season.

Was this season one that was worth watching? How did you feel about it as a whole? Did it beat out its previous performances or did it fall short?

Jennifer - We all know my feelings on the continuity, but aside from that I've really enjoyed almost everything. Love that the show was non stop action and suspense and that it was also meaningful in so many different ways. This is by far the best Marvel sow that they've done in my opinion and every season so far has been better than the last. I absolutely cannot wait for the season 5 premiere come December 1st.

Trey - The best way to describe this one is that it's a return to form for the show, but it's not going to convert any new viewers. The series seems to have reached a peak in season 2 and I don't see it ever getting that good again, but as someone who does like the show and the characters, it was such a relief after the slog that was season 3. All around, it had its flaws but was a good time.

Jack - This was most definitely one of the shows I recommend this season for comic book lovers, it was probably the best of the series, but it still needs an impact factor that sets it apart from other quality shows. Definitely worth watching if not for the sole fact that the arc restructure is something everyone needs to witness going forward.

In conclusion, This show is overall a show that doesn't turn heads for everyone but does do well by its strong fan base, with each new season being slightly better than the last. This season brought the window back open for new viewers with its expanded reach coming from the new comic book style arcing suiting more viewers preferences at once, as well as, offering something that nobody else does and leaving the sky as the limit for the next season quite literally. In the end, we would definitely recommend everyone giving this show a shot, as well as a second chance and remember that patience truly is a virtue.

Stay Tuned for our upcoming Roundtable Reviews where we will give our thoughts on The Punisher, The Last Jedi, Crisis On Earth X, Wynonna Earp and American Godz.

Be sure to Follow us on our Twitter and our Facebook Page, Join us in our Facebook Group and Subscribe to us on YouTube so you can be there for our upcoming projects.

Contributed to and Edited by, Jack Flowers. Contributions from Jennifer Gritten and Trey Griffeth.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Survivor Series: Recap and Review

          Years ago, the event known as 'Survivor Series', premiered with a signature 10-man elimination style tag team match-up. For thirteen years, the event held some of the most brutal and gut-wrenching moments in the history of the business, including the 2002 Elimination Chamber. After a six-year hiatus, the event returned along with the return of brand extension. The event now had a renewed purpose by becoming and Iron Man match-up between brands, much how 'Bragging Rights' functioned during the last brand extension. Earlier this month, the feud launched once more as Shane McMahon took Raw under siege in an attempt to strike early in this war for brand supremacy with hopes to once and for all shake the "B-Show" label. With Stephanie McMahon demanding that action is taken to remind her brother why Raw is the premier brand and placing Kurt Angles job on the line, Kurt put together his teams to put Smackdown in its place and ordered a counter-raid on Smackdown Live and literally putting Shane back in his place. On November, 19th, the two brands converged once more on Houston, Texas, for what would likely be one of the best if not the best Pay-Per-View events of the year. This event showed me non stop quality action and quality performances. Champions went head to head for stake, and the Battalions picked each other apart for gain. Here is a quick look at how those went down

Pre-Show Kickoff

          As the brands prepared for the conflict ahead, others took to the war zone to settle grudges. As Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn prepared to take their victory over Breezango, Matt Hardy fell to Elias. Before the trumpets sounded, Enzo Amore slimed his way past Kalisto with style once more for the bragging rights over 205 Live.

The Shield V The New Day  - 3v3 Tag Team

As the Hounds of Justice stormed the ring the put an end to The New Day, fans cheered on for the carnage and high octane action that ended up being one of the better Shield matches I've seen and almost convincing me that the return was the right move. With both teams giving plenty big shoes to fill as the night went on, ultimately the Hounds did the Raw brand justice with a premiere victory of Smackdown Live.

Alicia Fox, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax and Asuka V Becky Lynch, Natalya, Tamina Snuka, Naomi and Carmella - 5v5 Elimination Tag Team

Irish Firecracker, Becky Lynch, looked to lead bloodline veterans Natalya and Tamina Snuka into the trenches with young guns Naomi and Carmella at their side with intent to set Smackdown Live in the right direction. But, Raw had other plans, as the longest standing veteran in the WWE locker room, Alicia Fox, led the Boss Sasha Banks on a path of destruction with Bayley taking her newly found ruthless aggression threatening to explode at any moment. With the help of the two most dangerous females in the business today (Nia Jax/Asuka), the Raw women were able to out power, out strike, and outclass the Smackdown brand once more, thanks to the overcoming, sole survivor victory pulled off by the legend in the making, Asuka.

The Miz (Int) V Baron Corben (US) - Champion V Champion.

As the minor titles' holders were set to fight for their prestige, Baron Corben and The Miz had more than their titles or brands in mind that Sunday night. The Miz was fighting for the honor of his family and Baron was fighting for supremacy over the entire WWE. The match was intense and well paced, but in the end, a well-fought match fell in favor of the new blood, with Corben restoring hope for the Smackdown Live locker room.

Sheamus & Cesaro V Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso - Champions V Champions Tag Team

As the Smackdown Live brand trailed, The Uso's looked to capitalize and restore the balance against The Bar. Once again, The Uso's pull off, in my opinion, the best match of the night, only this time against the one team I could rank over The Uso's. With veteran Sheamus and fellow powerhouse Cesaro standing in their way, the Uso's put it all on the line to come away with the narrow victory.

Alexa Bliss V Charlotte Flair - Champion V Champion

With both teams neck and neck, the dangerous Alexa Bliss sought out a victory against the natural talent, Charlotte Flair. The winning team would leave the other brand to win two in a row for any chance of victory. With a fight that left both wrestlers stunned at the other's resiliency and will to win, it was Charlotte that ultimately got the better of little miss Bliss, leaving the Raw brand in a position that would leave Angle without a job.

Brock Lesner (Universal) V AJ Styles (WWE) - Champion V Champion

In a match that would serve to prove as one of Brock Lesners better matches as of late and one of AJ Styles biggest challenges, AJ Styles was dominated from the very beginning, but found a way to bring Brock to his knees and even leave him walking out with a limp, but the Beast would ultimately put the raw brand back in the game with a victory over Styles that would leave the two brands in a sudden death position.

Kurt Angle, Triple H, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe V Shane McMahon, John Cena, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura - 5v5 Elimination Tag Team

With weeks of brutal attacks, jobs on the line, Jason Jordan being sidelined for no reason other than one's own self-being trusted more than those hired to do the job, as well as, the bragging rights for the next year, ten men came to the squared circle for the deciding factor of the 2017 Survivor Series. With team smackdown falling rapidly to team Raw, Shane McMahon was left to fend for himself against three of Raws top talent including the Monster Among Men, Braun Strowman. With Asuka pulling it off for Smackdown earlier in the night, Shane attempted to give it all he had until Triple H showed the world why he is the Cerebral Assassin, by seemingly betraying Raw to protect his brother-in-law, only to deliver the final blow in the name of his wife. With Raw taking the victory for brand supremcay in the long waged war, one man did not take this well. The night capped off with a thunderous blow from Braun Strowman to The Game.

Once again, Raw proves that it is the A-List brand and takes the bragging rights for another year to come. Champions showed each other just why they hold those titles, grudges were left resonating, and one of, if not the best event of the year for the WWE, serves as a show of force for all. What did you think of Survivor Series 2017? Let us know in the comments below and follow us for our up and coming Pro Wrestling focus.

Be sure to Follow us on our Twitter and our Facebook Page, Join us in our Facebook Group and Subscribe to us on YouTube so you can be there for our upcoming projects.

Written and Edited by, Jack Flowers

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Comic Book Spotlight: How 'Max Comics' Exposed "The Punisher".

          Of all the superheroes who have achieved mainstream success the popularity of Frank Castle, the Punisher is easily the most baffling for me.  Of all of Marvel’s heroes he, in many ways, is the least interesting.  He doesn’t have any cool powers, creative gadgets or armored suits.  His backstory is about as generic as you can possibly get and at first glance there really isn’t anything that separates him from any unstoppable badass archetype that was commonplace in the 80s and 90s action movie scene.  But then you realize that he’s in the same universe as guys like Spider-Man and the character becomes increasingly cringe-worthy. 
            The problem with the Punisher as a character as well as the stories that he is featured in is that they always end the same way; he kills people.  It doesn’t matter what the story is about, who the antagonists are or what the actual stakes are in the book that he is featured in.  They always end the same way.  This, unfortunately, places a limit on how many stories you can tell with the character and ultimately makes him look like a maniac with an M16 mowing down criminals for fun while guys like Spider-Man go out of their way trying to bring them to justice the right way.  When compared to heroes like that and given the way writers often characterize him, the Punisher is, when all is said and done, a psychopath who attempts to destroy crime through brute force and it never ceases to amaze me that people think the character is some kind of symbol to rally behind.  But sometimes we get a writer who knows all of this and holds it up to the cold light of day.  When they do you get a series like The Punisher from Marvel’s MAX imprint.
            Running from 2004 to 2009 the MAX version of the Punisher was created by Garth Ennis, best known today for his work on the Preacher series and had previously worked on the character for the Marvel Knights imprint.  The series apparently came out of a desire by Ennis to write a more profound series revolving around the character with storylines featuring more thematic depth that would be worthier of discussion then previous Punisher stories had been with a hard mature rating.  Then in the early 2000s with the backing of Marvel Editor Axel Alonso he got his wish, writing sixty of the series seventy-five issues along with two miniseries titled The Punisher Presents: Barracuda and The Punisher: Born.  And given that The Punisher Netflix series recently came out us at The Nerd Hub decided to take a look at the first volume of The Complete Edition.  This is Comic Book Spotlight shining a light on The Punisher: The Complete Edition Volume One.
            Now before we go any further I will warn you that this will be more of an analysis of the stories within the book and the themes and subject matter presented within.  As such, there will be a HUGE number of spoilers within this article.  But, as per usual with Comic Book Spotlight articles, if you are here looking for a quick recommendation here it is: The book is really, REALLY good.  While the work of Garth Ennis and the MAX imprint tends to be hit or miss this version of the Punisher is a home run for two of the three stories that the book contains.  If you’re like me and the Punisher is a character who you never particularly cared for this is one that fully acknowledges all of the reasons you probably despise the character and turns it into something profound and worth discussing beyond the violence.  Plus, it has all the gratuitous, over the top gore and action that admittedly makes the character so fun and people who just flat out unironically like the character will probably enjoy it as a result.
            In any case, the book features three different stories written by Ennis.  The first of which is the Born miniseries that covers Castle’s final command during the Vietnam War as a captain in a base known as Firebase Valley Forge along the Cambodian border.  The story itself takes place in 1971 and is told from the point of view of a private under Castle’s command by the name of Steve Goodwin.  Everyone knows that the war isn’t going to last much longer, and no one really wants to be at the base.  Most people at the garrison are either drunk or high on pot and dope, with black market dealers seemingly taking up permanent residence within the base, giving it a reputation as the heroin capital of I-Corps.  In the midst of all of this Castle is desperately trying to maintain order and keep the base as functional as possible as a Vietcong offensive looms on the horizon. 
            The main thing that the story does right is that it doesn’t frame Castle as the protagonist.  He’s more or less a supporting character with the reader’s pov character, Steve Godwin, commenting on the situation and what kind of person Castle actually is.  Through Steve’s narration and Castle’s own actions, several things become clear about this version of the character before he lost his family.  Mainly that he was always a badass who could take on just about any challenge but was also clearly a psychopath with an addiction to violence who was ultimately only good for making a bad situation even worse.  Throughout the story, he gets his fellow marines through numerous patrols virtually unscathed.  Despite being a haven for heroin addicts everyone at the base fears and respects him and is clearly the only one maintaining any semblance of order.  But at the same time, he murders a fellow soldier in cold blood when he thought no one was looking and considers murdering his CO who he views as a problem, (though to be fair the CO was incompetent, and the fellow soldier tried to rape a sniper who happened to be a woman).  Early on he tricks a visiting general into being shot by a sniper because he was going to recommend the base to be shut down so he might fight in the war a little longer.  This of course results in the base being attacked and everyone but Castle being slaughtered.  All of which indicates that despite being a tough badass the psychotic foundation for the Punisher was always there even before he lost his family.
            Additionally, the artwork for this story is just fantastic.  All the period piece details are accurate, and it really puts you in the Vietnam-era headspace.  Thick jungles are everywhere, bases are haphazardly maintained with a cloud of cynicism constantly looming over every panel.  The battle imagery is the stuff of nightmares, showing it in a kind of hellish light that most other artists could only dream of making and perfectly complements the dark tone of the writing.  All around it works as not only a fantastic Punisher story but a great Vietnam War story and is one that I highly recommend checking out. 

           Then we have our second story titled In The Beginning which was originally published in The Punisher 1-6 and is, without a doubt, the single best story featuring Frank Castle that I have ever read.  Unfortunately, to really talk about why it works so well means that I am going to have to spoil the entire book from start to finish.  So, if you haven’t read this version of the Punisher already I highly recommend that you close this article, for now, go to a nearby bookstore, give it a read and then continue the article.  Deal?  Okay then.  The story takes place roughly twenty years after Castle’s family was murdered.  Everyone involved in their deaths is long since dead but Castle still continues his war against what he perceives to be the insanity of the world all the same.  After killing an old mafia boss and the majority of his men the remaining members of the family bring in an exiled member along with his two main henchmen who were considered too ruthless and bloodthirsty for the family to be associated with in order take Castle down.  At the same time, Frank’s longtime ally Micro agrees to help a CIA group capture him so they might use him as a weapon against terrorists and America’s enemies.
            The story is simply brilliant on almost every conceivable level and gives you everything you could you want and everything you should want out of a Punisher story.  From a strict storytelling perspective, the book is easily one of the tightest written stories that I have read in a long time.  It knows when to be fast paced and full of insane action sequences and when to be slow and contemplative.  It perfectly balances the CIA story with the mafia story so that when the two inevitably converge it feels natural as opposed to forced.  The story’s true brilliance, however, is in the way they characterize Frank or, more accurately, how they don’t.  Throughout the story, Frank only has a few inner monologs and even fewer lines of spoken dialog.  What little we do get out of him is mostly just exposition, injury reports and tactics.  It’s all about how badly he’s hurt or how many enemies have slipped by him and such.  As a result, he simply doesn’t have anything that we could discern as a personality beyond being a stoic killing machine and gives us next to nothing to empathize with or attach on to.  Even his face always seems to be shrouded in darkness and when we do see it, it’s a lined, wrinkled mess fixed in a permanent scowl that bears an uncanny resemblance to a poorly aged Clint Eastwood, (the subtext on that alone is worth its own article).
           Because of this you have supporting characters, most notably Micro, who keep trying to project some kind of personality onto him, often with deadly results.  He is the one character who is, without a doubt, the heart and soul of the book.  It’s clear from the start that he still considers Frank a friend and is only working with this CIA group to help him.  He views Frank’s mission as the Punisher as a fruitless one and is desperate to get him out of this destructive lifestyle and into a setting where he might actually be able to do some real good and constantly psychoanalyzes him in an attempt to guess why he is the way he is.  Heck, even when his CIA plans blow up in his face he still stands by Frank and watches his back as a literal army of mobsters attack his hideout, despite Frank all but promising to kill him if he stuck around.  Unfortunately for Micro, it turned out that this CIA group had been funding its operations by smuggling heroin from Afghanistan.  Because of this and Frank’s extreme viewpoints on the …well punishment, he executes Micro for being a part of it despite all his help.  After working with this guy for years, after he had his back when he had no reason to, after every action that he took in the story that was only ever meant to help him, Frank just shoots him in the head like he was any other common criminal.  It just goes to show what a detached, inhuman, psychotic machine this character is, demonstrated through the literal murder of the closest thing in this world that he had to a friend.  It’s all really good stuff and perfectly demonstrates why the character is so cool but also why he is so horrifying.  It’s just a shame that the same can’t be said for the final story.
            Now let me make one thing clear before I go any further with this.  The final story isn’t bad.  It’s just generic.  Whereas the previous two arcs took the mature rating and used it to tell more thoughtful, borderline deconstructive stories this one plays out more or less as a straightforward Punisher story.  Everything about it from the art style, to the characters to the writing just screams “normal Punisher” in a way that the previous stories did not.  The plot focuses on Frank and a British friend from his Vietnam days who are tracking several IRA related gangs in New York City.  At the same time, the gang leaders fight each other over the hidden fortune of their despised and deceased leader. 
            Now, once again, the problem with the story isn’t that it’s objectively bad but that it’s extremely underwhelming when compared to the previous two.  Frank is no longer the enigmatic figure whose faces is always covered in shadow.  No longer is he a character with next to no dialog or inner monologs.  No longer is he a character who everyone projects their own emotions on to guess what he might be thinking or feeling.  This time around he is a fully fledged third-person narrator, seen in daylight who lacks any interesting insight on the proceedings. As a result, he comes off as less the unknowable, inhuman killing machine that he was in the previous stories and more like the brute with a gun that he tends to be portrayed as in the comics, making him significantly less interesting. 
            The storytelling, for the most part, also can’t help but feel a bit disjointed.  There are just a few too many characters and a few too many moving pieces that can be difficult to keep track of.  One moment we are being introduced to a major IRA terrorist who lacks a face and then the book jumps to a psychotic black man from Belfast who is chopping a man to pieces and sending them to his wife.  Then in another issue, we’re introduced to another gang with its own members who are all somehow connected.  The problem is that the story is only six issues long and, as a result, none of these characters are developed particularly well.  The faceless IRA man, for example, never really goes beyond being the faceless IRA guy nor do the River Rat gang characters ever amount to much more than the Irish gang who like to rob boats.  As a result, when all the moving parts come together at the end you just don’t care about the outcome and it can’t help but draw attention to how tightly written and drawn the previous stories were.  But it doesn’t stop the fact that the first two stories were simply amazing.
            By the time this article comes out The Punisher Netflix show will have been out for at least a week.  While I can’t say that I’m as over the moon about it as some people are I can honestly say that it should get people interested in the comics and as far as I am concerned the MAX imprint of the Punisher is the perfect place to start.  The first story gives us a dark and disturbing Vietnam story, showing that even before Frank’s eventual tragedy there was something darker within the man as there often are with people like him.  In The Beginning is without a doubt the single best story I have ever read featuring the character and works as both an objectively good Punisher story as well as a deconstruction of the character.  It may have lost its steam for its final story but the first volume in The Punisher: The Complete Edition is absolutely one that I recommend and is more than worth your time and money.

      So until next time, please Like the Nerd Hub Facebook Page, check out The Nerd Hub Facebook groupSubscribe to us on YouTube and be sure to check out my own personal blog, Trey’s Take On…as well as giving my Facebook Page a Like, contribute a dollar or so to my new Patreon Page and checking me out on Twitter.  Until then, let's hope that the next Punisher story that we all read will be as good as the first two of this book.

TNH Roundtables: End of Season Review - Riverdale

As we do with other shows, The Nerd Hub sits down to discuss our thoughts on this latest season of Riverdale. What did they do right and what did they do wrong? Where have they been, and where could they be going? So, take a look at what we had to say and look for our reviews from the upcoming season, as well as, take to the comments section below and let us know what you thought about this series.

***Unfortunately Technical difficulties didn't allow us to publish this article when it was intended and by the time this can finally be released the second season will have aired, but responses were given after the first season wrapped and must be taken into account under such context.


          Riverdale is a show that took a dead and gone franchise and put a unique twist on it that mixes a not only bearable but interesting level of teen drama with mystery and suspense. The tone of the show (highlighted left) being even more so original and enticing tops this show off as an all-around gem. We now know that the show was successful enough to launch a second series surrounding Sabrina the teenage witch in her more dark and gritty comics version. The series will bring Sabrina through some chilling encounters with werewolves, vampires, demons, ghosts, ghouls and more. The fact that this show gained an infamous CW spinoff is quite an achievement and a leap for comic adaptions. So was it all just hype and luck or was this show worthy of a recommendation? That what we are here to find out as we discuss below. Spoilers lie ahead for those who have seen it but would like to continue engaging in new takes and theories, but for those looking for a simple recommendation, skip the jump to the closing paragraph.

Jughead and Betty drove the narrative from their position at the Blue and Gold; what was your overall opinion on that?

Ashley - I enjoyed the relationship between Jughead and Betty and how it grew. While the classic love triangle of Betty/Veronica/Archie barely had any airtime, I'm glad that Betty had someone to turn to as a friend and then lover.  It works, so far, on the TV show. However, I still miss their quirks from the comics.

Brittany - I think Betty and Jughead were the best people to lead the Blue and Gold. Archie and Veronica both had their own stuff going on to really be a part of something like that. Not to mention, Archie was a piece of the mystery for a brief moment and Veronica was only interested after she discovered that her father might have had something to do with Jason Blossom's murder. 

Jack - I thought the Narration by Jughead was a key part of their signature build and the fact that it made perfect sense because of his involvement at the blue and gold made it work so well. I loved that Jughead was already a writer of his own due to his invert style and Betty had it in her blood and is an academic scholar. All, in all very well crafted and everything, is accounted for within the narrative. I find it very ironic in a good way as that would be the goal of reporters for the Blue and Gold as well.

At the end of the season, we see Jughead and Betty together, as well as, Archie and Veronica. This took several breakups and hindrances. What are your overall opinions on those relationships and how the characters have handled that aspect throughout the season?

Ashley - Jughead and Betty seemed to grow naturally, though as long-term friends I find it a bit odd it took them a murder mystery to discover that they have feelings for one another. Archie and Veronica, while I love them paired in the comics, don't work too well on the show. They have little to nothing in common and honestly, both characters have lost a lot of their endearing qualities from the comics. Archie isn't a klutz and Veronica isn't blissfully ignorant of things. I would have liked to see them both develop more and connect more before being made a couple in the first season.

Brittany - At the beginning of the season, Betty was pining after Archie. Archie, however, is immediately smitten with Veronica and in a  relationship of sorts with his music teacher, Geraldine Grundy. After being rejected by Archie, Betty threw herself into her work at the Blue and Gold where she spent more time with Jughead. While the group as a whole didn't mind facing danger, Betty and Jughead were the most willing to go searching for the truth, no matter where that took them. Archie and Veronica work well as a couple because they both seem to try to have as normal of a life as possible amid the chaos unfolding in Riverdale. Archie needed someone to support him in his pursuit to work on his music, while Veronica needed a strong shoulder to lean on as she dug deeper into her parents' dealings with the Southside Serpents. However, because they're all best friends and given the feelings Betty had for Archie, they were all afraid to tell each other. Although everything worked out, I think for a moment it was hinted that Archie had feelings for Betty.

Jack - Yeah, I think both of those relationships worked because Jughead and  Betty both have a dysfunctional family borderline on the level of the Blossoms. They both have basically gone without parents because they are not really there and when they are it's never a good thing. Veronica and Archie while not working quite as well as in the comics still work just on a different plane. Int he comics the klutz and blissfully ignorant works great, but so does the struggling to maintain a normal life. Unlike Jughead and Betty. These two once had a seemingly normal life and that life is now shattered into fragments. The two of them look to pick those fragments back up so they click very well. 

Speaking of Jughead and Betty's relationship. At the end of the season, we see Jughead take the patch of the serpents. We saw earlier that episode Jughead fitting in well at Southside High. Neither of which is settling for Betty. What are your thoughts on all of that and where would you like to see it go?

Ashley - I'd like to see this expanded on, Jughead is a bit of an outcast and I'd like to see more of that and not just because of who his dad is. I'd also like to see Betty touch on her dark side again which was hinted on in the first season. She's always written as a perfect girl, but on the show she's fractured and that fact got hidden in all the murder mystery mess.

Brittany - In my opinion, it wasn't surprising that Jughead accepted the Serpent jacket. The only parent that showed any interest in him was going to prison. It makes sense that he would turn to the people his dad considered family. Betty, of course, won't be happy about it. It will probably cause tension int he relationship, but I think they'll work through it. I'd like to see him use his place in the Serpents to find out who shot Archie's dad in the season finale.

Jack - I think this will be a great opportunity to bring Betty's dark side out and allow Jugheads to shine. This will also provide a slot plot point that can be used for, at a minimal rate, the remainder of the season. I think Betty and Jug will actually end up closer because of it at one point. Archie is in pursuit of what he lost if he ever had it at all. That's a family and that's what the Serpents were to his father. At the very least he's going to try to understand his fathers' way of thinking to understand his choices. The Serpents are no doubt also a heavy presence in Southside Higwhichch could make S.S.H.S. a larger focus and bring in new characters. Lastly, Id like to see more school activities and relations and perhaps a School V School subplot could reoccur.

F.P. started off as a shit head who was revealed as misunderstood and loyal to those who came before, and as someone who above all else stood by a code. He claims Jughead to be the same. Do you agree with his choices and his assessment of Jughead?

Ashley - I don't feel that Jughead fits that bill, but I do think he may be prone to mistakes more than his friends; especially when it comes to trying to find his place in the world.

Brittany - F.P. sucks as a parent. He can't provide for his son and his alcoholism forced Jughead to leave. As bad as he is, he knows his son. He knew when he would try to pull away from his friends. All the advice he gave Jughead and his friends was right and even intervened when he witnesses things get serious. He isn't really a bad person, he's just made bad choices. Jughead is extremely loyal just like his dad but is much better at making the right decisions for himself.

Jack - I think Jug will be different from his father once he learns is ways of thinking during his time with the serpents. I think Jughead was more affected by his mothers' abandonment than his fathers' disengagement. I think Jug understands this pain he and his father share and because of it, their bond still remains. When it comes down to it, F.P. is who he needs to be for Jughead despite his previous choices that he has been unable to escape. I think Jug will realize this, but live another life in the end as his first path was with Archie and friends.

At the end of the season, we are teased with a clash between Hiram Lodge and Fred Andrews. What do you think will come of this and where do you stand with Fred's decision? Do you think the final scene of the season was connected or do you think it will turn out entirely unknown?

Ashley - I'm hoping for a bit of a love triangle between Fred, Hiram, and Hermione. Fred and Hermione had good chemistry and Hiram is clearly not a clean person. I worry he'll drag her to the darkness. I don't really think he'll go directly after Fred, but I expect a lot of interesting dialogue; I also don't think he sent the shooter after Fred. hiram seems dirty, but not enough to murder someone.

Brittany - Fred made the right decision to refuse Hiram's offer. Even better was his decision to end his involvement with Hermione. Unfortunately, I believe this is why he was shot in the season finale. Hiram had been dealing with the Serpents all season, so it seems completely possible that they would keep an eye on her at his request. He would have known about their relationship. If Fred dies, not only would that permanently put an end to the filing he had with Hermione (even though he had ended it himself), but it would also leave Fred's share in his company wide open.

Jack - I feel as if they are using the Hiram story as false flag much like they did with Jugs father in the first season. For that plan to work Hiram would also have to kill Archie unless it was solely for his relationship with Hermione. I'm going to go out on a farfetched limb her and say that Archies mother had something to do with it. Perhaps that's why she wanted Archie to live with her so badly all of a sudden. Perhaps she didn't want him to be caught in the crossfire. Or perhaps she acted in response to Archie's decision. Really, I cant say anything on the final scene because chances are it's a huge misdirection that won't stop throwing more misdirections on top of it until the final few episodes of the second season. That's what makes this show so great; each episode is a new revelation.

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Polly has driven away due to a major bombshell that ended up making a lot of sense. Besides that, we didn't see much of Polly. Do you think that worked out for the better of the plot or would you have liked to see her more?

Ashley - I would have liked to see more of her, however, her absence helped keep the plot mysterious; especially since her baby belly was a big giveaway. Having her off-screen for so long helped viewers speculate as to what really happened to her and also relate to Betty who was actively searching for the same answers.

Brittany - As much as I like Polly, her absence throughout most of the season worked extremely well for the plot. It added another element of mystery to the case of Jason Blossom. When Polly is finally introduced, it's a complete surprise because she's not at all like what the audience was led to believe. Not driven mad by a relationship gone bad with Jason, but with his child(ren) and hidden and locked away by her own parents.

Jack - I think this show works so well because of their ability to let certain characters serve the plot points and other characters development, as well as, developing these characters while off-screen through the plot and coinciding characters development. This is a special thing that makes this show so enjoyable and something other shows need to take note on.

Cheryl Blossom. What are your thoughts on where she stands at the end of the season and her choices made throughout? Where would you like to see her character go next season?

Ashley - I honestly can't understand or relate to Cheryl at all. She starts out as a general mean-girl and I imagine would slowly develop a semi-decent relationship with the main cast, but she's weird and her family is clearly even more so. While none of the characters respect their source material much, she's such a huge departure that it's unsettling. That being said, I do sort of like her. I want to see her more grounded and gain more control over her life, but the girl needs therapy.

Brittany - Cheryl is the basic high school mean-girl. Rich, entitled, and thought she was better than everyone because of who her family is. As the season progressed she became less of a terrible person, but still pretty snobby. I think we'll see her change a little more and try to be part of the group in season two.

Jack - Cheryl is one insane chick that I can't seem to understand no matter how hard I try, but yet I find myself rooting for her the most. Not sure if its some sort of underdog thing or I see something despite not being able to put my finger on it. Either way, she is the one who intrigues me the most even more so than Jug or Betty combined. It's apparent that she was not who she wanted to be and was finally able to pull a Fawkes and literally rebirth herself by fire. Hopefully, this means that the next season lets her burn brightly.

The entire plot was a murder mystery. Do you think they did a good job at keeping that under wraps, as well as, deterring you from the true culprit? What are your overall thoughts on how it all went down?

Ashley - It did too good of a job of keeping the truth under wraps. When the true killer was revealed all I could say was "FINALLY!"; Too many red herrings and misdirects. While these make sense in a murder mystery, the fact that the characters didn't do much of anything else meant that it dragged on very long.Also, no other character seemed smart enough to figure this out but a bunch of high school kids?

Brittany - This season was beautifully written! I thought the Blossoms were VERY suspicious, but I figured that they couldn't possibly kill their own son. Apparently, I was only half right. Cliff Blossom killed his own son because he didn't want anything to do with the family business

Jack - I think the fact that these were high school kids worked be because nobody listened to them or helped them because the misdirects were placed so well that only certain things would change it and they chose not to reveal it because of the early disregards and disapprovals. I think they did a tremendous job with the misdirects being that they stretched from the main plot all the way throughout the subplots allowing for a new revelation with each episode. That means that I wanted to see every episode for their own revelations, which kept me onboard for the finale no matter how long it took. The long drag being helped by this allowed it to work and bring that gut-wrenching suspense only to turn out better than anyone could have hoped for or imagined.

If you could add one new element to the show to give it a breath of fresh air, what would it be and why?

Ashley - Sabrina, the show is already weird, so might as well take the next step and stop with the murder mysteries.

Brittany - I would focus a little more on their lives outside of the mystery. in the show, things are pretty serious almost all of the time and I think it would have benefited from more light-hearted moments. At the end of the day, they're still kids and they need to have more fun and happiness in their lives.

Jack - I think a Sabrina cameo would be awesome. As stated before the Southside High can be a great way to introduce distant characters to the, now shared, universe. I feel that doing this would also allow Jug the possibility of a crossover, as well as, these Chilling Adventures to have little effect on the Riverdale world beyond Marvel style easter eggs implanted in the dialogue. But mostly, as far as Riverdale itself goes. I believe the rebirth of Cheryl Blossom can do just that for the show in entirety. All she needs is a spark to ignite the flame and that may have already happened. Lastly, I'd like to see more school activities focused on beyond a quick glimpse or montage. these activities have served as backgrounds, but they could serve as much more. These could be plot points.

Was this season worth watching? How did you feel about the writing as a whole?

Ashley - I did like watching the season, as a fan of Archie it took a while to get used to the show since it's such a huge departure to the wholesome I normally associate with the Riverdale gang. The writing was good, but the characters needed more depth. Plot points outside of the murder kept being brought up and dropped. They didn't go anywhere with Bett'ys self-harming, the Pussycats weren't developed well and Archie sleeping with Ms. Grundy was a moot point.

Brittany - Riverdale is amazing! I'm very glad that my curiosity got the better of me. I really liked the way it was written and can't wait to see what's in store for season two!

Jack - I think the subplots need to be more than drivers for the main plot, I really enjoyed the writing for the main plot but like I said some of the plots felt like fillers because they were less emphasized and they can actually use these subplots to develop characters better which is probably the biggest downfall of the show. Characters develop slow, but that's not necessarily bad, so as long as they progress well. As of right now, it's on that line where if they make it any less it may become an issue. At the end of the day, this show provides a breath of fresh air to my TV slate.

In conclusion, This show is overall a very well crafted show that brings something different to your current TV slate. Great story, great group of characters with so many possibilities in the coming seasons, as well as, a uniques setting and tone to set it apart. This is most definitely one we recommend watching immediately if you have yet to do so.

Stay Tuned for our upcoming Roundtable Reviews where we will give our thoughts on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Punisher, Wynonna Earp and American Godz.

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Contributed to and Edited by, Jack Flowers. Contributions from Brittany Spencer and Ashley Gibbs of Outright Geekery