“Even though you were wrong, you’re still right.” – Carol Peletier

An unusually-structured episode of The Walking Dead proves that the show can still provide thrills while offering glimpses of hope.

After a string of episodes featuring other characters, our centerpiece in “The Distance” is Rick Grimes, hero and leader, as he tries to make the difficult decision of whether or not to trust Aaron. This stranger entered the fray last week with open hands, telling Maggie and Sasha that he has good news, albeit somewhat ominously.

Is it a trap? The question comes up again and again throughout the episode. From the opening scene punch to the untrusted applesauce to the flare rising in the night sky, we’re asking ourselves: Can this stranger be trusted? Is he lying? Is Rick right, despite everyone wanting to trust Aaron?

Although these questions run high through the episode, I felt safe knowing that this could not simply be another trap. It would be too familiar after Woodbury and Terminus. However, there must be something going on. This is The Walking Dead, after all. When Michonne asks why there isn’t a picture of Aaron’s people, I immediately felt that sense of dread that I imagine the writers hoped to inspire. It wasn’t that you thought this might be a trap, but rather that something would definitely be off when they arrive at Alexandria.

No, it was not  trap. Or so it still doesn’t seem to be. However, it does seem it was a sort of test for Rick and Michonne, to see what sides of the coin they might land on. Where Michonne used to be well-guarded and uneasy, she is now more optimistic and trustworthy. Rick has instead taken her place, and it is evident that Michonne sees herself in him. She reminds him that they let her into their group. It seems that she sees a bit of herself in Aaron, too.

There were two things that stuck out to me in this episode. Firstly, the zombie action that sat right in the middle of the episode was a rather perfect sequence. Plowing through the hoard, guts and blood everywhere, struggles in the forest, all accompanied by the regularly-excellent soundtrack. A Walking Dead zombie set-piece that I will not be soon forgetting, compared to say, the laughable firetruck incident earlier in the season. Particular high grades go to the overhead shot of the car mowing down the zombies.

The second thing that stuck out to me was that this episode was finally offering some glimpses of hope. I don’t think we’ve truly felt this since the group felt comfortable playing house in the prison. Sure, Terminus seemed like a safe haven for them, but I think we were all well aware that it was not going to end well. Instead, Alexandria offers the sounds of children and laughter. It also has a much less ominous name, which definitely plays into our perception of what it may be.

Next week, we get to find out what troubles lay ahead for our travelers. Nothing can be perfect on The Walking Dead, and we can be certain that two things will come back in play: the lack of people in the pictures Aaron provided, and the Chekhov’s gun that Rick placed in a blender. As Aaron mentioned, people are the most valuable resource, so I guess the question is: How empty is Alexandria?

Final thoughts:

  • We’re also introduced to Eric, Aaron’s boyfriend or husband. Does it feel a bit shoehorned in? Yes in some ways, no in others. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
  • Abraham and Rosita seem to be getting back to better terms. There was a nice moment between them as they saw the Washington Monument in the distance.
  • “This barn smells like horseshit.” Daryl’s few words this episode are excellent.
  • Although the flare that Rick shot into the walker’s head felt like a bit of a showoff moment, I thought it was cool enough to be warranted.
  • As much as I never liked Dale, I did like the throwback when Glenn knew where the battery was in the RV.
  • The closeup of Rick’s eyes as he hears the children is perfect and the look Michonne gives him is even better. Danai Gurira is a treasure.
  • Rick and Daryl’s secret whistle made me giddy.

Episode Grade: B+

One good thing about Supernatural is that they like to leaven their horror with a light sprinkling of comedy (I know sounds a bit weird, but they manage to pull it off quite admirably) and this episode is a perfect case in point.  Basically – we’re going Back to the Future … allow me to explain.

Recap

Castiel transports Dean back in time to where he has an opportunity to change the future of the boys. His very cryptic remark that Dean must stop it but with no further details doesn’t really help matters, however when Dean bumps into his father accidentally and eventually his mother he starts to piece it all together.

It turns out that Mary – Dean’s mother as well as her parents Samuel and Deanna (do you notice the similarities in the names or is it a bit too obvious) are all hunters! Surprise Surprise – bet you didn’t see that one coming did you?

Dean eventually figures out that the person he’s meant to stop is the Yellow Eyed Demon as with his father’s book in hand he knows exactly where the demon is going to be next. He manages to persuade the current holder of the Colt pistol of his need for the gun and takes it with him to the next location. However his grandparents or actually his grandfather and his mother have also gotten to the site as the girl is actually a friend of Mary’s and she doesn’t want anything to happen to her.

Dean meets his mother outside and while he doesn’t tell her any details about what he’s doing there he informs her that she should not go into the bedroom on the day that she dies in the future.

When they all confront the demon Dean is unable to make the shot and he is able to escape however when he takes his grandfather back to the house to explain what is really going on, Dean tell his grandfather about the demon and about what has happened to him and the family in the future specifically with regards to his mother . His grandfather however doesn’t act the way you expect and seems to accept the fantastic story astruth and asks to hold the colt but Dean tells him that he will not let anyone hold the gun. It is at this point that the Yellow Eyed Demon reveals that he is actually possessing the body of Dean’s grandfather and now knows all of the secrets about his future!

He speaks to Dean and eventually tells him that he can save no one including his grandfather at which point he stabs himself with a knife.  When Deanna (his grandmother) sees this she calls out but the demon quickly kills her also and then disappears. Dean is finally free and realizes that the demon must be going to hunt Mary and heads off to find her also, but he is too late as by the time he arrives the Yellow Eyed Demon has already killed his father.

Now while you might expect to see the whole fading away Back to the Future effect when Michael J. Fox gradually started to disappear as his father and mother did not hook up, here the demon actually speaks to Dean’s mother and tells her that he can bring John back from the dead if she will simply make a deal with him to so that in 10 years time she lets him in. He actually indicates that as long as he is not interrupted nothing will happen to her. With John dead she feels that she has no choice and makes the deal just as Dean arrives.

Dean is returned to the future by Castiel who actually tells him that there isn’t really anything that he could have done differently but now he knows the same thing that the angels do which is that Azazel (the name of the Yellow Eyed Demon) was going to bleed into Sam‘s mouth as a baby so that Sam would have demon blood inside of him. He says that he needs to find out what Sam is doing and stop him so then goes to look for Sam and he finds him exercising a demon with his mind. Now while we already knew about this, this is Dean’s first exposure to it and it incises him as he’d specifically asked Sam if he was using “his freakymind powers” and Sam had lied to him when he said No.

Review

OK I guess one thing I wasn’t sure about at the beginning was the whole Back to the Future shtick. I mean I know that one of the better things about that show is the fact that it’s not afraid to mix comedy with horror and it isn’t all dark dreary and miserable but this started to feel like a filler episode almost right from the beginning and while that might have been some small steps forward … my initial impression unfortunately was correct.

Knowing that Azazel was led to Mary by Dean himself while somewhat poignant didn’t really impact the overall story and also having Dean (& Sam’s) parents killed by demons prior to his birth – again didn’t really impact us overall as the only real parent they’ve each had is Bobby (you could say that their actual birth father was their parent but it seems that he’s been busy fighting demons and creatures most of their life so you almost have to discount him).

Cover of "Back to the Future"
Cover of Back to the Future

The premise has been done to death – time travel is first exciting and full of hope and promises, only to go awry in the hands of fatal human error. Reminiscent of Marty McFly‘s adventures in Back to the Futurescreenwriters Andrew Stark and Jason Pagan use teenagers as the vehicle for time-travel wish fulfillment, in the form of first-person mockumentary narrative technique.

Project Almanac tells the story of five brilliant high school friends who follow a series of clues that leads to the discovery of blueprints for a time machine at MIT-aiming teen, David’s (Jonny Weston) dead father’s basement.

The beauty of using teenagers in this narrative is that their mistakes are more forgivable. The limited scope of their experiences lead them to forget important consequences – such as time-travel paradoxes. Similarly, their wish fulfillment are both shallow and relatable in today’s adolescent culture. Instead of choosing to assassinate Hitler for example, they travel three month’s back in time to attend Lolapalooza, win the lottery, and make things randomly explode.

Despite these faults, Project Almanac tackles social issues essential to every science fiction narrative. Time travel immediately becomes an addiction as David struggles to re-frame and re-write history in order to preserve the best timeline that suits his own, selfish needs, ultimately succumbing to human error despite his seeming brilliance and intelligence.

Chapter II – Deimos Rising

“…Now running signature Omega-38 against sequence 430-Alpha” said Dr. Kronos in the darkened research lab, a massive construct sat before him. Kronos watched energy patterns and equations scroll along the holo-monitor.
“Those patterns seem to correlate from here” came a voice from a small transmitter, sitting on the desk. “I’m going to send this pattern through simulations. Now begin an analysis on signature Terra-15” it said. Kronos’ hands danced across the holographic keyboard, the energy signature appeared in the centre of the emitted light. Kronos rubbed his chin as he studies the catalogued data.

“I have a hunch” he says.
“Proceed, Victor” said the transmitted voice.
He continues tapping the keyboard, I think our hardware may be masking some of the signature’s characteristics. I’m lowering the intensity of the cadmium distributor and the plasma field generator” says Kronos.
“You are authorized, log the change and proceed” came the voice.
“Yes, this reading is much clearer now” says Kronos as he wipes the lens of his glasses.
“I see, try running sequence 821-Delta” Kronos tests the combinations of portal energy and the vibrational equation on his computer.
“That pattern correlates from here as well. I think we’re finally getting a handle on these energy bands. Why don’t you take a rest while we finish running these simulations.” The transmitter said.
“Very well, call me as soon as you need” Kronos says.
“Roger, Echo labs. Alpha labs out”

Kronos rose from the large chair and stretched his back. The newly constructed teleporter stared back at him from its single, circular gate. He stared into the contraption for some time before he headed to the door to the adjoining hallway. He walked through the doors and found Director Banks standing across from the lab, looking through a nearby window.
“Hello, Victor. Why don’t you join me in admiring the view?” The Director said. Kronos stepped beside William and took in the dazzling stars, a moment of silence passed between them.
“You know, I never knew the stars would be so many and so bright out here… They’ve always been my favourite thing about being on off-world stations” says the Director, calmly.
“I often find myself admiring them, as well. Their brilliance never ceases to inspire me” says Victor. A passing comet adds to the infinite beauty for but a brief moment.

“We’re getting close, Victor. We only have a couple hundred more patterns to calculate until we make history. I’m looking forward to the infinite possibilities that this project could open for us”
“As infinite as the stars in the sky…” comments Kronos. William smiles at Victor and places a hand on his shoulder.
“Precisely” he says, “The short time until its complete…” begins William.
“Is like the distance closing between us and those stars” says Kronos, finishing the Director’s thought.
“Had I mentioned that before?” William asks.
“You did, a couple years ago” he said.
“That’s right, just before we launched this project… It seems hard to believe that we may be so close to those distant systems, accomplished in just a few years of development” he says.
“I’ve begun to wonder what mysteries this achievement may leave in its wake, and we will be the ones carving out the answers” says the Director, smiling as he finishes his thought. Victor turns to face William.
“I’m being left in the Dark, Will. Alpha labs dictates the signatures and equations for me to analyze, I feel more like an adding machine than a contribution” he says.

“I’m sorry Victor, UAC’s protocols can be overbearing, but I happen to know the very necessity for them. Take my word, the portal will begin test runs soon and your expertise will more than certainly be required” the Director replies.

“How long?” Kronos asks.

“Could be a couple weeks, no longer than a month” he says.

“Really, that soon?”

“Really” hee answered

“I can see now why you’re so pleased” says Kronos as he continues to observe the twinkling stars. The directors chuckling echoed down the hallway.

Five weeks later:

Victor Kronos and UAC Director William Banks walked the spotless hallway of the UAC research division.

“Everyone is ready on Phobos, we can get started right away” says William, he was wearing an expensive business suit with a black, long-hanging tie. “Susan is in the testing area now and coordinating with Alpha labs” he says.
“If this contraption works, I suppose these off-world stations may have a lot of new visitors soon” comments Kronos.
The Director sighs, ” I don’t know if we can maintain its classified status for much longer without terminating some of our loosely-lipped colleagues. I understand their excitement, but if there’s anymore broken protocols regarding this project, I may be tempted to send them to a less hospitable assignment. I doubt they’ll find AMUN’s asteroid stripping operations to be quite as noteworthy” the Director said.
“Such a waste of good talent. If only they would observe their duties a little more, I would trust them with my life” said Victor.
“It can be troubling, yet that portal is worth more than both our contributions. An unpleasant reality, being Director, is learning how the most celebrated employees can so easily be replaced” he replied.
“Indeed. It seems I have a new lab assistant every couple of weeks, don’t they know the standard UAC demands before they come here?” Asked Kronos.
“They are briefed, but what could I say? We have to proceed on these priority assignments, if they are so compelled to destroy their careers, then so be it” Silence fell upon the two men as they turned a corner. Loud thumps were soon heard from down the hall, “Sounds like Corporal Revok” says William.

The thumping got louder and Corporal Revok came marching through a corridor ahead, he turned on his heel and continued his stride toward the two researchers, they soon met in the middle of the hall. “Hello Doctor, Director. Lovely day for a teleport, I hear” says Revok as he comes to a stop. He was wearing a grey, long-sleeved utilitarian uniform with bright blue cuffs and collar, he stood casually with his hands folded behind his back.
“Just another day at the office, Corporal” replies Kronos.
The Corporal tilts his head and glares at Victor. “I understand the preliminary tests went well and you’re already going to send human test subjects” he says in an insinuating tone, the researchers silently glare at the Corporal. “High command’s technicians have deciphered your forty-five thousand page specification report” says Revok with some masked apprehension.
“Is that right, Corporal?” asks the Director in a slithering, insinuating tone.
“Yes Will, that’s right. High command is concerned about the safety of the science station, the levels of energy are utterly unheard of” he says loudly.
The Director turns toward Kronos, “Can you believe that, Victor? The Corporal is going to share his thoughts about omni-dimensional theory. Please, enlighten us” the Director says calmly.
“You two don’t see any problem with ninety-four million Terra watts?” said the corporal, exasperation was creeping into his chiseled features.
“Corporal, really” says the Director in a slow, parental tone. “The portal systems are completely isolated from the rest of the station and the personnel assigned to it are the UAC’s finest” he says proudly.

“Nevertheless,” continues Revok, “high command has given me code-Amber authorization to attend this procedure and make an assessment of potential safety risks” he says.
“We didn’t have any problems with our initial tests, what makes the good generals so concerned about this one?” asks Kronos, flatly.
“We’re worried about system and feedback overloads, further, you really have no idea where this portal is passing through” states Revok.
Director Banks chuckles. “Giving into paranoid delusions, Corporal?” he asks. “We appreciate your concern, but we’ve never required your oversight before”
“The risk to this station is real. If it goes into regular use, I’ll need to know everything about it, as soon as possible” Revok replies. The pair of researchers became quiet as they glare at Revok.

“You really think that this will persuade us?” The Director snaps. “I’m sure the corps is very interested, indeed. High command wants to treat out work as a new potential weapon, we have told them many times before that this project’s clearance classification is above them and you” finishes William.
“This could be the most significant discovery since fire, or the wheel. We want to see this thing in operation” said Revok, barely holding back his rage.
“We’re so early on in this project that we have yet to define what standard operation is” Kronos replies.
“Yes, and for that reason we can only allow trained specialists to be in attendance, and your code-Amber authorization doesn’t impress me” adds William.
“Will, I’ve seen the details for myself and I can see why there is concern. Just take the extra precaution” the Corporal says, defeat moving through his words.
The Director releases a breath, “Listen, Revok. This is a project that we’ve had difficulty keeping classified as it is, but there are aspects to it that are, quite frankly, over my head. Several classified corporate divisions from across the aerospace industry are taking interest. We’re forced to operate under the tightest of protocols and this is something that simply can’t be allowed” he declares. “Now then, if you’ll excuse us, you’ve wasted quite enough of our time.”
Corporal Revok glares curiously as the two researchers slowly walk away, they laid each step with such precision that the Corporal could swear they were floating.
“Arrogant snakes” Revok says under his breath, he then turns and heads toward the nearest elevator.

A good amount of Comic readers out there have their weekly haul all prepared.Sometimes months ahead.

Here are five suggestions that may have passed by under your radar or you just haven’t thought to try out yet.

5. HAWKEYE – By Matt Fraction & David Aja

One of the most celebrated and best reviewed series from Marvel in a long time. It’s been hard to avoid the praise but if you have, don’t ignore it anymore.

This is a smart, funny and very well drawn comic series. This series is often about as fresh and original as any indie title.

There are two issues that are a must to check out for of an example of it’s groundbreaking nature.

Hawkeye #11 tells the story all from the perspective of a dog and Hawkeye #19 is even more ambitious because for this story Hawkeye has gone completely deaf and the issue reflects that as accurately as it can by having little to no dialogue and actually including Sign Language in it.

The artist David Aja went to great pains to make sure he showed what it was like for a deaf man trying to make sense of all the noise out there. Check this series out.

4. Django Unchained/Zorro – By Quentin Tarantino, Matt Wagner & Esteve Polls

Another diamond in the rough is a crossover most people probably didn’t see coming.

While not uncommon for Comics to provide an outlet for fan-boy type crossovers, this particular one has the distinction of having Quentin Tarantino’s name on it.

Django Unchained’s main character steps off the screen and onto the page joining forces with an older wiser, but still very cool Zorro.

This marks Tarantino’s first venture into the Comic Book world which is quite surprising considering his affection for the medium.

Helping out on writing duties is  a very qualified Zorro expert and Comics legend. Matt Wagner. It’s only a mini series so it’s not quite a long investment.

Pulp style fun ready for your eyes to feast on.

3. Tooth & Claw: The Autumnlands – By Kurt Busiek & Benjamin Dewey with Jordie Bellaire

This little gem is Kurt Busiek’s first foray into the mature comics line.

The man has brought us great stories like Marvels and Astro City (Which is still good after the relaunch by the way.) so we know he can write.

What we get is something totally inventive and original with a dense cast of characters. It’s fantastical and ambitious and is gorgeous to look at thanks to Dewy’s art and Bellaire’s colors.

It’s early in the series with only three issues out but the world building and attention to detail is very apparent already. It’s been hailed as ” Conan meets Kamandi with a Game of Thrones-style storytelling experience.”

2. Batman – By Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Batman needs no introduction but the work Snyder & Capullo put out month after month seems to rise above a lot of other titles in the competitive superhero genre.

Similar to Marvel’s Hawkeye, Batman has been talked about for some time but if you haven’t tried it, don’t worry. The first twelve issues is the fantastic Court Of Owls story line. Among the best for this run.

Snyder and company are currently telling the Endgame story line, and frankly the less I say about that one the more epic it will be for you.  If you need to pick between several Batman titles to get your fix reach for this one.

1. Injustice – By Tom Taylor & Various artists

Yes that’s right. A video game adaptation is not only good but among the best that comics has to offer.

I was on the fence about this series until I picked up the first issue and was totally hooked upon completing it. The thing I don’t think most people realize is if you played the game and read this you will notice that the story here in the Comic is actually quite different than the game. In my opinion better.

I haven’t seen such a compelling confrontation between Superman and Batman since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. You will cruise through issues at lightning speed because it has such a cinematic quality to it. It keeps you on the edge and wanting more.

Whereas Scott Snyder loads you with words and metaphors on Batman ( which is great and works for the book.) Tom Taylor says what he needs to say in a short, but very effective way.

My only knock is the constant array of ever changing artists. It can distract but is a minor annoyance at worst. The series is late in the game but catching up won’t be hard once you jump in.

SciFi Buff that I am I thought I had to give this a try … I really, really did try … but this is bad.  No other way to say it really.  The only “actor” that has any skills is good ole B5’s Bruce Boxleiter and lets be honest, he was never that great shakes was he?

So I guess, you want to know whats going on right?  Well if you were expecting Transformers … you’ll be very disappointed.  I know in a made for TV movie I really shouldn’t expect much, but perhaps the SciFi channel spoiled me with all of their good shows and productions.  This is definitely NOT one of these … “B” Movie is the best you could call this.

The story is that when the aliens crashed in Roswell we (humans) reverse engineered their technology and used it create the modern age that we all live in now. With the technology that they put into place however, the robotic aliens are able to “activate” and transform some machines which set about destroying their human owners.

Some really stupid things happen here – the SUV randomly attacks the sheriff (Bruce) for no reason whatsoever. Then the satellite dish that had turned itself into a robot (I know!! Who writes this stuff??) randomly appears but then doesn’t do anything aside from jumping down from a building???

In a huge battle, Bruce B crashes an army helicopter into one of the activated machines and destroys it unfortunately killing himself in the process (which eliminates any acting cred this movie might have had!). Everyone thinks that its all over and that they had stopped the machines before they had sent their signal, but nope … the aliens are coming!!

Destroying all of Earths military (they don’t show how) the survivors of humanity are now forced to try and destroy the alien invasion before they steal all of Earth’s resources … OK, I can’t watch any more … this is just too too stupid.  What would robots need with Earth’s water???  They come from space for crying out loud …

.

.

.

Yeah, I know, I feel the same way about leaving something undone. OK,I’m completing this – but it is garbage.

Anyways, the story continues that they are terraforming the whole earth to make it more “habitable” for them – (1) you can’t call it terraforming if its for machines can you?? and (2) … how do you make something more habitable for a machine!!

Well humanity has fought back, seems not all of the military was destroyed after all and have managed to take out 3 of the 9 terraforming plants around the world. However there are still quite a few left and our hero is going to take out one of them himself – by the way, the way in which they discover this detail? The Russians had captured a machine and tortured it to give up its secrets!!! How do you torture a machine for crying out loud??!! Blond boy is able to destroy one of the terraforming plants and it looks like the other forces were also able to destroy the ones they were tasked with, but destroying the terraforming plants had a side effect and the remaining humans were forced underground to survive.

The fight for survival continues and the human race will survive because they have something that the machines don’t – THE HUMAN SPIRIT. aaaaargggh!!!!!!!

I’m sorry that you had to suffer through this with me.

Chapter I – Unfortunate Discoveries

Ancient dust blows across the endless dunes of sand, a small space vessel streaks through the sky. Within the shuttle is Dr. Nexson, and Dr. Crowther, they were in the rear part of the shuttle, sitting in luxurious seats and enjoying expensive bourbon.

“We’ve been searching this desert for two years now, you say this is a different type of discovery?” asks Nexson of Crowther.

“Yes, absolutely” he chimes.

“How?” Rupert asks, glaring.

“It’s another work of technology, but it’s very different from the generators and transmitters we’ve found before” replies Crowther, Nexson stares in silence.

“You’re not going to tell me?” he asks.

“Any description I give you would be utterly inadequate, you’ve got to see it yourself, Rupert” replies Crowther as he slowly sips his highball glass. Nexson stares at his satisfied face.

“This had better be good, you’re holding up progress at the experimental weapons lab by bringing me here” he finally says.

“Rupert, when have I ever let you down?” Nexson considers the question.

“You’re right, Ben” he says with a smirk, he reaches over and they clink their glasses. “You’re always right” Benjamin chuckles lightly. The intercom sounds a tone and the auto pilot informs them that the shuttle is approaching the coordinates.

The shuttle turns as it flies toward a landing pad, situated next to a large, domed building, next to it was a camp for the excavation team. The landing thrusters fired as the shuttle began its descent, mechanical wines sounded as the landing gear sprouted from its compartments and caught the ground, making a small bounce. Two of the site’s archeologists, sealed in environment suits with domed helmets approached the shuttle, a wind storm battered sand against their suits. The sealed shuttle door made some loud clanks and vented gas before it opened. Dr. Nexson and Dr. Crowther step down from the ramp, wearing their own environment suits.

“Welcome to Mars, doctors” says Tim Morgan.

“Nice to see you again, Tim. This is the lead researcher at Echo labs on Deimos, Dr. Rupert Nexson” says Crowther.

“A pleasure, sir” says Tim Morgan “This is Linda Vadell”

“Nice to meet you Dr. Nexson, please follow us. We don’t want to take up anymore of your time than is needed” Linda says.

“That would be appreciated” he says.

The group walks toward the dig site, it was covered by a large white dome. They approach the dome’s doorway, Dr. Vadell leans against a sensor plate, the ID chip in her suit is accepted and the doors split apart. They walk inside, there were two other sets of doors inside and a cabinet for holding environment suits, the walls were a dull grey. Dr. Morgan approaches a computer panel on the wall and began the depressurization procedure, the chamber began the sequence, sweeping away the dry Martian sand.

The voice of the computer sounds, “Depressurization procedure complete” They place the environment suits in the cabinet and approach the doors. A cold wind blows from within the buried cavern, an ancient staircase is illuminated by modern lighting units, recently attached to the stone brick walls. The four UAC members descend the staircase, it seemed to go at least seven stories down. When they reached the landing at the bottom they found themselves in a large chamber, several tall stone doorways led in different directions. The doors were artfully carved with many images of the alien’s culture, each door and column seemed to depict a part of their celebrated history. Five different streaks of coloured lines stretched off into the darkness.

“We’re following the gold coloured line.” Says Vadell. They entered a passage in the middle of the room. They followed the gold line for almost an hour, passing mysterious hieroglyphic writing from an unknown time. They were soon led to a massive chamber, rust coloured rocks framed the sight, the ceiling was supported by massive stone columns, long hanging stalactites crowned the ceiling.

Before them were two tall control stations that still shone like emeralds, after all this time, step ladders sat at the base which the archeologists had set up. The pair of UAC executives walked toward a dusty apparatus sitting at the back of the room, examining the area’s most minute details as they did. The object was almost three stories high, it had a rounded convergence at the top, intricately carved shoulders flowed down the body of the machine, the centre had a giant circular cavity that was coiled on it’s inside. It seemed to be in disrepair. They walked further, the walls of bedrock revealed ancient tablets. The tablets were as tall as the machine, the writing on the stone was giant.

“What is it?” asks Nexson.

“We performed a full analysis on the apparatus, we think it’s a teleporter” Nexson was unmoved.

“A very impressive find, doctor” he says as he walks toward the left-hand tablets, the lines of hieroglyphics flew through Nexson’s mind, translating them on the fly.

Nexson approaches Linda Vadell, he whispers, “Has your team translated the tablets?”

“Yes, doctor.” She replies, “The writings describe how the teleporter works, the method of it’s construction, there’s a log of the jumps that were made and where they went, but this last tablet…” She paused as she approaches one of the left-hand tablets.”…this tablet describes a ceremonial ritual that is to be performed while the teleporter is running a specific mode of operation. It seems that this way our ancient friends could develop the ability to make a psychic scan of the extra-dimensional planes.” She says proudly, pointing at the hieroglyphs. “Isn’t this amazing sir?” she asks, turning to face Nexson.

He stood motionless, glaring at Dr. Vadell, he sighs loudly and turns to face Crowther. “This is a problem, Ben.” Nexson says quietly.

“Huh? What are you talking about? I thought you’d be pleased to see this before administration gets their hands on it.” Apprehension was apparent on his face.

“This type of discovery must be handled by the UAC’s paranormal division. Your being here is very costly, Ben” he declares.

“What? Paranormal division? The UAC doesn’t entertain that type of fringe-science!” He cries.

“You weren’t supposed to find out.” Nexson replies.

“Doctor’s please, what are you talking about?” Asks Dr. Morgan, loudly, followed by tense silence.

“This tablet that depicts the ancient rituals can only be seen, studied and handled by members of the paranormal division, and I’m sorry to say…” says Nexson as he pulls a pistol from inside his suit “…none of you were ever here.” He says calmly, levelling the barrel on Crowther.

“Rupert, no!” Cries Crowther. A small bolt of plasma lept from the weapon and burns through Crowther’s neck and impacts the stone wall behind him, he sank to the ground making sputtering, gargling sounds and holding his throat.

“Please Nexson, don’t!” cries Linda.

“We didn’t see anything, Rupert. We’ll do whatever you say.” Pleads Tim.

“I’m terribly sorry, doctors, this truly is an amazing discovery…” he says as he pulls a device from his pocket. “…it’s just standard procedure” Keeping the pistol steady, he holds the ultra-frequency transmitter to his lips, “This is Nexson, initiate bombing run on camp at dig site: alpha-zero-alpha. Confirmation: Romeo, three, Foxtrot, six, X-ray” he said.

“Roger, confirmation approved. Deployment underway.” Crackled the transmitter. Without saying another word, Nexson fires the pistol into the two archeologists. He holsters his weapon and reaches for his mobile, he flicks through the options and begins scanning the area, a beam of glowing light emits from the mobile as he recorded the data. Linda puts all her strength into raising her head and looks up at the research executive.

“Go… to hell… you bastard” she gently lowered herself to the dusty floor and fell into a final rest. Nexson soon leaves the dig site alone. Wearing the environment suit, he walks the surface of Mars toward the waiting shuttle. Two triangular UAC fighters swoop by above, dropping bombs below. The whistling of the falling bombs were heard before they exploded upon impact. Nexson boards the shuttle, it soon begins it’s takeoff and flies beyond the Martian atmosphere, leaving the disgraced dig site behind as smoke rose up from the camp.

It’s been close to five years since the famed reboot of the DC universe took the world by storm promising new beginnings for all characters and a more diverse group of books for the modern age. DC was basically asking established fans to ignore much of the last seventy plus years of history while telling new readers “You don’t need to worry about all that. It never really happened. Jump in!”

Has the experiment worked for DC?

Yes and no. But I would lean more towards no. The initial excitement and curiosity made for a successful half a year. All you had to do was go into any comic shop looking for a new issue only to find none or be left with reprints. You certainly saw the diversity that DC was talking about with titles like I Vampire, Animal Man, Resurrection Man, Voodoo and many more.

But the excitement and bold moves soon turned to reality. As sales quickly dwindled many of those diverse books were on the chopping block. Mister Terrific, Hawk & Dove, and Static Shock barely made it to eight issues before being cancelled and it didn’t end there for a majority of the books.

Some characters certainly benefited from the reboot. Aquaman particularly saw his profile raised from Joke to badass. I’ve always loved the character but most of the general public did not share that love for him until the New 52 arrived. Wonder Woman is another character that rose to prominence again. The success of Animal Man is one that also surprised some.

When you begin to analyze the success of these books you wonder why did these books work but Mister Terrific, Static Shock and Hawk & Dove and others like them fail?

There are plenty of theories and no one has the clear cut answer, but here is my take on it.

Geoff Johns is one of the premier writers for DC so it’s a no brainer to me why Aquaman worked so well. It doesn’t hurt that he has a proven track record or reviving characters similar to Aquaman. The feat John’s accomplished with Green Lantern is something to behold. Throw in the brilliant art of Ivan Reis and it seems like a good bet to succeed.

Brian Azzarello was tasked with writing Wonder Woman with Cliff Chiang on art. Azzarello knocked it out of the park before with titles like 100 Bullets and the very successful JOKER and Luthor: Man Of Steel stories.

Jeff Lemire wasn’t exactly a household name when he came onboard with DC but he was well known in the indie circuit of comics. Travel Foreman provided excellent macabre art to go along with his equally dark and thrilling stories. Animal Man proved to be a success.

I won’t knock the creative teams on the other books (Except Rob Liefiled.) I won’t diminish their talent or abilities but I would argue that they don’t have the clout under their names like a Johns or an Azzarello. I was shocked to see Rob Liefield working with DC again. It’s no secret he does not have the best following these days. In fact he is one of the most divisive artists in the industry today. All you need to do is Google his name and the images that pop up will give you various examples of his “anatomically correct” art. Perhaps they wanted to give him a chance and hope that his past fame could help carry Hawk & Dove. Eight issues in and I think they received their answer. If this is the case, why would DC then allow him to helm Hawkman, Grifter, and Deathstroke? All three of which were cancelled by the way.

There are currently nineteen first wave titles left out of the original fifty-two launched in 2012. Most of which are the mainstays you would expect. To be honest a lot of the critical and finical acclaim belongs to an even smaller group (depending on what you hear and read.)

Then there’s Batman.

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo were the creative team for Batman at the start of the New 52 and continue to be to this day, and they are doing amazing work with the character. I would say some of the most interesting and original stories out of the Bat universe in some time. The rest of the Bat titles are, for the most part, well received. Yet month after month they sell extremely well. One could argue it’s the character that’s the selling point not so much the quality. I think to a large extent they would be right.

DC seems to agree because there is an astonishing eleven titles featuring Batman or having Batman prominently in it. I didn’t even count Red Hood & the Outlaws, Harley Quinn, Grayson, & Batgirl into the mix.

The other part of the World’s Finest duo is Superman. Supes’s popularity has shifted in the last ten years but he still holds down six ongoing titles with him prominently in them.

Surely the saving grace is Green Lantern? The character that Geoff Johns resurrected for DC. So much so that its success spawned four more ongoing series coming from the same universe as G.L. Sadly DC will be cancelling three out of the four other Lantern titles in March. Those being Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians & Red Lanterns. Sinestro’s ongoing series seems untouched for the moment.

With DC’s major event series “Convergence” on the way, it’s hard to say what the future will be. It seems DC is now saying that these different comic universes still exist and remain relevant and that the New 52 is only a part of a much bigger thing. It’s another experiment which maybear fresh or rotten fruit.

The biggest problem I see coming from DC’s camp is their reliance on the Dark Knight himself. We all love Batman. Hell, I LOVE BATMAN but he is falling into the same problem that Wolverine and Venom fell into during the nineties. Overexposure. You can’t rely so heavily on the character to the point that you ignore the rest. I know what you’ll say. “Batman sells and the others don’t”. Fair enough. I know I said that the character sells the book but consider the writers and artists working on Batman related books. Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Geoff Johns, Francis Manipul, Peter Tomasi, Gail Simone, J.H. Williams. The Bat books are enjoying a very fine roster of talent. Possibly the best DC has to offer if want to think of it that way. My question is, why not put the BEST talent on the lower or lowest tier character?

I think Grant Morrison working on Hawkman would be great. Francis Manipul could continue to reenergize the Flash, and Scott Snyder never should’ve left Swamp Thing. This is all wishful thinking, of course. The upper brass at DC certainly know more than I do but If they hope to stay relevant and compete with Marvel they have to embrace all that the DC catalogue has to offer and really go for it. If not, in ten years time you might as well call them Batman Comics not DC Comics.

Maybe things will be changing in the near future based on the solicitations coming from DC post “Convergence”. They are, once again trying to diversify their lineup with different flavors. I’m cautiously optimistic but skeptical at the same time because I’ve seen it before and I’m not fully convinced this will be any different. One can only hope.