Monday, October 31, 2016

Life With Max Update: Max VS The Screensaver

I'm currently babysitting my friend's dog Max for three weeks (read all about it here). 

Tonight I was watching a DVD, and Max was dozing on the floor beside the couch. When the movie was over I left the DVD player on, and after a few minutes the screensaver started up. It's a little floating blue cube that bounces back and forth across the TV screen.

Max immediately leapt up and stood in front of the screen, following the cube's every movement. Apparently it was the most fascinating thing he's ever seen.

I turned the player off a second after I snapped this photo, because he looked like he was just about ready to lunge at the screen and try to catch the cube.


RIP Jack Chick!

Last week Jack T. Chick, creator of over two hundred and sixty infamous, evangelical little pamphlets, died at age 92.

You've no doubt seen his work, dubbed "Chick Tracts," before. His tiny comics popped up all over the place at bus stops, on grocery shelves and in the back of cabs. His followers and acolytes loved to scatter them everywhere they thought the sinful public needed to read the Gospel of Chick.

But don't let Jack Chick's kindly old grandfather image fool you. He was a bitter, ultraconservative Fundamentalist who hated just about everything and everybody. His Chick tracks gravely warned readers of the dangers of homosexuality, feminism, people of color, rock & roll, heavy metal, evolution, Harry Potter, Dungeons & Dragons and any form of sex not intended for procreation. According to Chick, if you've so much as drawn a breath, your soul's already condemned to spend eternity in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.

Chick didn't just hate sinners he hated any and all practitioners of other religions as well. Jews, Muslims, and especially Catholics any religion that wasn't Chick's own particular brand would earn its worshippers a one way ticket to eternal damnation.

Heck, Chick even had problems with the Bible itself! Well, certain versions of it anyway. According to him, any Bible written after 1611 was filled with "heresy and immorality." Now that's a hardcore Fundamentalist!

Would you be surprised to find out that I'm a fan of Chick's tracts? Welp, I am. Don't get the wrong idea though I don't agree with a single syllable of his extreme beliefs or insane philosophy. At all. I just appreciate the batsh*t insanity of his work on an artistic and ironic level. I marvel at his tracts when I see them, as I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that they actually exist, and someone was nuts enough to create them. Any time I see a Chick Tract in public, I grab it and add it to my collection.

Chick is responsible for most of the art in his pamphlets, but he sometimes employed the talents of another illustrator named Fred Carter. The style of the artwork varied from tract to tract some almost resembled Disney cartoons, while others looked like something R. Crumb would have drawn.

I'm not the only one who's become a fan of Chick's work. In the past few years his tracts have become fashionable among the hipster crowd and aficionados of flea market culture. They're collected for their sheer entertainment value, as a fascinating example of "outsider art," like Tijuana Bibles and tiki mugs.

It does my heart good to know that, instead of being taken seriously, Jack Chick's odious and vicious little tracts have become kitschy artifacts. Something to be mocked and ridiculed rather than feared. All his years of spiteful work went right down the crapper, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

I like to think that right about now, Jack Chick is easing himself into a burning Lake Of Fire, somewhere deep in the bowels of Hell. A cartoon Devil, much like the ones he used to draw, looks on in amusement and throws his head back in laughter. "Haw Haw Haw!"

Thats how it works, isn't it? Doesn't the Christian Instruction Manual say we're supposed to love and forgive everyone? "Judge not, lest ye be judged," and all that? Presuming to know the mind of God is a sin, and thanks to Jack Chick, we know where sinners end up, don't we?

And now, presented for your viewing pleasure, here are a few of Chick's more notorious and insane tracts.

Naturally, Chick was a big opponent of evolution, and this particular tract offers dozens of bizarre, harebrained reasons why science is completely wrong about the origin of humanity. 

"If man evolved from apes, then why are there still monkeys in the jungle?" Sigh...

Apparently Chick wasn't a fan of Steve Martin's early comedy.

Actually this one's about a young girl who loses her virginity to a smooth talking' ladies' man, and of course is immediately infected with AIDS as punishment by her vengeful (but loving!) God.

This one would be unintentionally hilarious if not for the fact that Chick spends half a dozen pages spouting extremely dangerous misinformation about condom use and AIDS prevention.

As you might expect, an ultraconservative religious type like Chick was not a fan of Halloween. He really, reeeeeeally hated it though, and went on and on about it throughout his career. Because Halloween's not about kids dressing up and begging for candy, laws no. It's the Devil's Night, when people worship the Antichrist and sacrifice house pets (really!). 

Never mind that Halloween started out as a pagan celebration, and as such predated Christianity. It began as a simple harvest festival called Samhain (pronounced saa-ween), and had about as much to do with the Devil as Valentine's Day. 

But Chick never let facts get in the way of his righteousness, and as far as he's concerned if you wear a costume and receive so much as a fun-size Snickers from your next door neighbor, you're worshiping Satan.

This is an extremely vile and disturbing tract, and feels like something penned by Special Guest Writer Eli Roth. In it, a small child is constantly beaten by his drunken, money-grubbing father, who is unfortunately drawn like a caricature of a stereotypical Jew from 1940s Germany. After the kid's daily beating, Dad forces him to panhandle on the street corner. When the kid brings back only a single coin, Dad throws him out of the house.

The kid then crawls through the streets and finds shelter in a cardboard box. A church leaflet, probably not unlike a Chick Tract, falls from the sky and lands next to him. The leaflet reads, "Jesus Loves You!" The kid, tearful with joy, clutches it to his chest and promptly dies of exposure. In the final panel we see an angel carrying him up to heaven.

So what the hell was the message in this particularly heinous and depressing little tale, Jack? "Don't worry if your Earthly life is so miserable that you literally starve to death, because you'll get to live forever at the foot of the Lord?" That's some pretty cold comfort, especially when you're living inside a goddamned cardboard box. Maybe God could have, oh, I don't know, helped the kid out a bit while he was still alive.

This is one of my favorite tracts, as it perfectly illustrates Chick's absolute intolerance of any religion other than his own.

In it we see millions of people marching down the Road Of Life. Note the jaw-droppingly racist stereotypes representing followers of those other weird, sinful religions. There's an Asian, who's no doubt a Buddhist, an Arab Muslim, and even what appears to be a filthy, evil Catholic at the far left.

Eventually the road ends at a steep cliff. Because all the people on the road practice heathen religions and don't honor the one true God, they tumble over the edge and plunge into the Lake Of Fire far below.

Never mind that the vast majority of these people probably lead peaceful lives according to the tenets of their various faiths. They didn't worship Jack Chick's God, so they'll be tortured for all eternity in a Hell they don't even believe in.

I have a real problem with the attitude that there's only one true religion out there, and all the others are invalid. Says who? The Bible? Hell, even Christians can't agree on what their own book says. That's why there are supposedly an astonishing 30,000 to 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world. 30,000! How the hell could Chick, or anyone for that matter, possibly think their particular sect is the right one?

Here are some more select examples of Jack Chick's special brand of crazy.

Really, Jack? Heavy metal music is linked to the occult and turns teens into zombies? Yawn! Way to grab for the low-hanging fruit there.

Here, in one tiny panel, is everything you need to know about what Chick thought of homosexuals. 

Jesus, I don't think you'd see fabulous, over the top get-ups like these at the gayest of Gay Pride parades! You know, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say I'm confident that Jack Chick never even saw an actual gay man in his entire life.

Those filthy, immoral gays are at it again! This time they're polluting our blood supply with their AIDS and their HIVS and who knows what other acronyms.

This is the first I've ever heard of so-called "blood terrorism." Apparently around 2000, medical centers worldwide began banning gay men from donating blood, because of all those icky things they do, and they diseases they carry.

Of course it's still perfectly acceptable for undocumented homeless people to donate as many gallons as they want. You might end up with Hep-C, but hey, at least you won't get any blood from teh gays!

Um… wow. I'm betting Chick never met an actual black person either.

As you might expect, dirty, heathen atheists were a frequent target of Chick's. 

Naturally, since this kid doesn't believe in God, he immediately extrapolates that there's nothing to keep his innate sinister urges in check, and he's free to indulge his most immoral desires. Because humanity is inherently evil, dontcha know, and the only reason we all don't kill one another is because we know He's watching. I find that philosophy extremely offensive. 

Wouldn't this also imply that Christians are only acting virtuous because they fear Heavenly retribution if they don't?

Also, if this kid doesn't believe in any gods, why does he immediately decide to become one?

Not even the most devout Catholic could escape Chick's wrath. He once called the Catholic Church "the great whore."

If Chick loathed Catholics, then he despised Muslims even more.

I love how in the second panel, Suzy's friends are swooning over their new Muslim neighbor Amir, like he's the dreamiest member of their favorite boy band.

The only question I have here is what the hell happened to Grandpa's eye? Was it savagely plucked out by a practicing Muslim, and that's why he hates the Quran so much?

By the way, don't those bottom two panels look exactly like they were drawn by Dave Berg, artist of writer of "The Lighter Side Of…" feature in Mad Magazine?

I already covered Jack Chick's views on Halloween above, but I had to include this page from one of this tracts on the subject. In particular I love the final panel, where a man has been duped by Satan and is condemned to Hell, and the only thing he can think to scream at the Prince Of Lies is, "You rat!" Who is that, James Cagney (ask your grandparents, kids!)?

As I said before, Chick had a real problem with Dungeons & Dragons, and continued preaching against it long after it faded from the public's consciousness.

I played D&D a bit back in the day, and I never witnessed anything remotely like any of the behaviors here (especially anyone killing themselves because their character died). The worst thing that ever happened to me was I got a cramp in my leg from playing at the kitchen table for four hours straight.

As you might expect, Chick also was not a fan of the Harry Potter novels, because as we all know, they're "of the Devil" and as such are instruction books and indoctrination tools for witchcraft.

You know, I would be a lot more concerned about a kid developing an interest in the occult if it was actually possible to knock a wand out of someone's hand by waving a stick and shouting "Expelliarmus!" at them.

Like I said before, Chick was a "King James Only" kind of guy, and denounced any Bible written after 1611. Because changes to the language over time and translation errors are a SIN, people!

Jack Chick was apparently against TV as well, as seen in this panel where he calls it the "Family Altar." 

And of course he detests Family Guy, not because it's riddled with lame and annoying pop culture references, but because it features a cartoon character who's gay.

"50 years ago, this would have been unthinkable!" You said it Jack! Half a century ago I'd have been watching Family Guy on a tiny 19" set, rather than on a 55" screen in glorious 1080p resolution!

By the way, the way he's got it written here makes it seem like Psalm 101:3 actually references the content of Family Guy.

Credit where credit's due: I love the way Jack Chick drew the Devil. He used him a lot in his work, and he always seemed to draw him pretty much the same way— not unlike something a Big Daddy Roth character.

Chick's version of the Devil was also quite a showman. Like some Hellish Alan Funt, he 
looked like a normal human male, but at the appropriate moment he'd whip off his cheap rubber mask (which somehow concealed his horns inside it), revealing he was really Old Scratch himself, much to the chagrin of the poor sap he'd just bamboozled into spending an eternity in Hell. 

So rest in peace, Jack Chick, you bitter, vile, old homophobic racist, you.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Life With Max

Welp, looks like I have a house guest here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld Headquaters. This knucklehead will be staying with me for the next three weeks. A friend of mine is going out of town for a while, so I agreed to babysit his dog Max while he's away.

I used to watch his dachshund Lucy for him now and then (before she sadly passed on), but she was an older dog who was very calm and no trouble whatsoever.

Max is a different story. He was an absolute nightmare the first year or so of his life. He was completely out of control, and every time I'd go to my friend's house I'd spend the entire time trying to fend off Max, who was constantly biting and scratching.

Then my friend got a second dog coincidentally another dachshund and Max immediately calmed down and became much more well-behaved. Maybe it was his new "little sister's" influence. Or maybe when he saw my friend bring home a new dog, he realized he could easily be replaced and decided he'd better shape up.

Whatever the reason, Max is finally tolerable, and I actually like being around him now.

Max is a shelter dog, and the workers there told my friend that he's "part Boston Terrier, part Shih Tzu." He most certainly is not! He doesn't look the least bit like either of those breeds, and is twice as big as they are. Maybe three times. I don't think a child can be three times bigger than its parents. Unless maybe your name's Yao Ming (GASP! Did you hear? Bob just compared Yao Ming to a dog!)

It's a well known fact that shelter workers lie about their dogs' parentage all the time. They do this because they know if dog has even a single drop of pit bull blood in it, the majority of the public won't want anything to do with it, and the poor mutt will spend the rest of its life in the shelter. 

As near as we can tell, Max is a boxer mixed with... something else. Most likely pit bull, but who knows?

Even though Max has improved quite a bit, I was hesitant to babysit him when my friend asked. Three weeks is a lonnnnnnng time. A long time. I suggested that before I made such a lengthy commitment, that I do a "trial run" with Max and watch him for just a weekend. So that's what I did. A few weeks before my friend's trip, I brought Max to my house for a couple of days. He did pretty well! He didn't knock over the TV or soil the carpet, so I agreed to watch him during the big trip.

So that's what's going on right now. I picked up Max on Friday evening (right after I voted early) and he's been staying in my house since. So far so good. 

I discovered that Max makes an excellent alarm clock. Saturday morning I woke up around 6:30 AM and saw him sitting patiently next to my bed, staring at me. I figured he needed to go out, so I dragged myself out of my nice warm bed and took him outside. There I was, standing bleary-eyed on the back deck at 6:30 in the morning, watching a dog take twenty minutes to find just the right spot to pee.

When he was finally done I flopped into bed and tried to go back to sleep for another few hours. Max had different ideas though. He farted in my bedroom, and the stench was so horrifying and persistent that I finally threw in the towel and just got up. At 6:45 on my day off. Touche, Max.

One thing Max has brought to my attention: apparently there must be a ton of ghosts in my house. He spent the entire first day standing in the doorways of various rooms, staring intently into them. He'd stand there for hours, his head snapping back and forth like he was watching something moving or listening to a conversation. It was a little unnerving.

Here he is guarding me from the ghosts in the kitchen. Note how alert he looks, as if he's really watching something out there. The kitchen's completely empty! There's no one in there! At least no one I can see!

I don't really believe Max is seeing ghosts in my house of course. There are 4, count 'em four noisy clocks in my kitchen, and I suspect he's hearing them ticking and trying to figure out what all the noise is. 

On the other hand, I know for absolute fact that someone has died inside the houses on either side of mine. It's entirely possible that someone died in this house as well, and I just don't know about it. Maybe Max can see 'em and I can't. If he starts suddenly performing tricks, as if being directed by an unseen trainer, then I'm getting outta here!

Once Again I Participated In The Sham That Is Our Nation's Voting System!

For good or ill, I did my civic duty and got it over with.

I was sick to death of all the hype, debates and most of all the polls that claim both presidential candidates somehow have a simultaneous, commanding lead. I also wasn't looking forward to standing in line for hours on election day, so this past Friday I went to the library and voted early.

I've never voted early before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. There was a surprisingly heavy turnout! I ended up standing in line for maybe twenty minutes. By the time I left though, the line had tripled. Good thing I got there when I did!

While casting my ballot Friday it occurred to me that the voting process in this country is severely broken. I'm not talking about the Electoral College, although that arcane and convoluted system is indeed in need of an overhaul. No, I'm talking about the fact that the future of the country is decided by citizens
— myself included who have no idea what the hell they're doing.

Most people know enough about the presidential candidates to make a relatively informed decision, and... that's pretty much it. After that there's a dizzying list of congressmen, senators, judges, councilmen, coroners and other officials who no one has ever heard of. If you're like me, you have absolutely no idea who any of these people are, what they stand for or what they plan to do if elected. 

The sad fact is, in this country our public officials are nominated and/or elected based on the acceptability or stupidity of their names. If you sport an atypical name that can momentarily pierce the stupefying veil of dance shows and reality TV that occludes the mind of the average voter and lodges tentatively in their dim consciousness, then you're a shoe-in. Congratulations, Jonathan Hampton III! You're elected! Sorry, Mervin Throbwilter. Back under the bridge with you!

God forbid they ever place the candidates' photos next to their names. Can you imagine? "Oh, he's dreamy! I'm voting for him!" Or "That woman looks like my shrew of an ex-wife! She's not getting my vote!" Let's hope whoever makes out the ballots never gets that bright idea.

Then there's the invariable list of propositions and other questions at the end of the ballot. "Should Chauncy Endtable be retained as circuit court judge? Yes or no?" How the hell do I know? Did he do something really awful and that's why his job's on the line? Does he just not feel like going to all the trouble of campaigning and wants us to keep him in office? Who knows? I've never heard of the guy. I'll decide based on something scientific, such as yes if the person on my right is a male and no if female.

I consider myself fairly well informed but I don't know any of these names or issues on the ballot. I've got a job, a mortgage and I'm CEO here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld. I ain't got time to research this crap! If I don't have time then I know that 99% of the rest of the population doesn't either. So we're all just clueless peasants deciding the future of our communities and our country based purely on whim. No wonder our nation's so messed up.

I don't really have an answer to this dilemma. Maybe each voter should be quizzed by election officials before being turned loose to vote. Each citizen would be asked a few simple questions about a candidate or proposition and if they can't answer them, then they don't get to vote. Of course that would result in election returns that resemble soccer scores, but... it might be better than the coin-flipping that goes on now.

I've asked this before, but it was never more relevant than now... Do we even NEED a President?

Think about it. No matter how passionate their speeches, no matter how sweeping or revolutionary their platforms, neither candidate has any earthly intention of keeping any of the outlandish and unlikely promises they've made. Heck, the candidates themselves probably don't even know what they stand for. Their positions and stances and even the color of their ties are carefully calculated by teams of speechwriters, image consultants and wranglers.

Then of course there's the fact that whoever's elected spends approximately one, maybe one and a half years of his four year term actually governing. The rest of his term is spent campaigning for reelection. There will be no decisions of note made during that period, believe you me.

So what if we just forgot about the election and tried living without a President for a while, just to see how it goes? Congress and the Senate could pick up the slack, and we could all go on with our daily lives, trying to stretch our meager paychecks in a desperate effort to make ends meet.

Think of the billions of dollars wasted on these ridiculous campaigns. Money that could be used to buy food, shelter and blankets with sleeves for the homeless. It makes me want to plotz.

I'd be very willing to give it a shot. And if it turns out that yes, we actually do need a president, then fair enough. We can start it all back up in 2020. I say we ought to try it.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

That's Super!

I didn't watch Season 1 of Supergirl at all last year (I just didn't have the time), but I did finally start watching Season 2 now that the show's moved over to The CW where it should have been in the first place.

Sadly, I won't be doing any weekly reviews of the series. Nothing against the character of Supergirl or her show, but there are only so many hours in the day, and personnel is stretched pretty thin here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld without adding another show to the mix.

I did want to take time to comment on the addition of Superman to the series this season though. Last year we caught brief glimpses of him on Supergirl, but this year he's finally dropped the coy act and stopped hiding just off camera, and has finally become a semi-regular character.

I'll be honest here I didn't think much of the casting of actor Tyler Hoechlin as Superman when I first saw the early production photos of him. He seemed way too thin, his face didn't have the necessary square-jawed quality, and he just didn't looks all that... well, super to me. 

Happily, after finally seeing him in action, I'm glad to report I'm very impressed with Hoechlin in the role. He makes a damned fine Superman, and seems to know just how to play him. In fact after just two appearances as the Man Of Steel, he's already a better Superman than Henry Cavill will ever be (BURRRN!!!).

Hoechlin also makes a pretty good Clark Kent, playing him as a befuddled and slightly nerdy reporter. In fact his performance as both Superman and Clark Kent were very reminiscent of Christopher Reeve, which I think is awesome. It's not an outright impression or swipe of Reeve's work, but sort of a slight... homage.

Obviously Hoechlin, and more importantly the show's producers actually get Superman, and understand him in a way Zack Snyder never will. This is the way Superman was meant to be portrayed— as a true hero. Someone who dedicates his life to selflessly helping others and his adoptive homeworld. 

Compare this to Zack Snyder's Superman, who's nothing but a brooding, sullen god who looks down on humanity with disdain and actively resents his powers.

Hoechlin and Supergirl star Melissa Benoist work well together too. Take the scene in which Superman and Supergirl rescue a plummeting space plane together. Superman flies up alongside Supergirl and asks her if she needs help. Her first words? "Hey, cuz!" Amazing!

I also loved the scene immediately after they save the space plane, when a group of bystanders gawks at them in amazement. Supergirl sheepishly turns to Superman and says, "I usually say hello." Superman says, "Really? Me too!" Delightful!

How amazing to see DC superheroes who are actually FUN! There was more joy and entertainment value in those two brief scenes than in all the recent DC movies combined. How can the TV shows get the characters so right, while the movies— with millions of dollars more in resources— get them so wrong?

All superhero movies and shows don't have to be sweetness and light. There's nothing wrong with an occasional dark movie, featuring a brooding hero. But Superman is not that character. Superman is not a dark avenger. He's a beacon of hope in a hopeless world. I don't get why that's so hard for the movie producers to understand.

One last thing I wanted to point out. In the recent episode The Last Children Of Krypton, Supergirl is injured by the kryptonite-powered villain Metallo. Superman picks up her injured body and poses dramatically for a few seconds before flying off.

This scene is an obvious and very cool homage to Issue #7 of DC's Crisis On Infinite Earths miniseries from 1985, in which Supergirl is actually killed. Pretty awesome!

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 3: Shogun

This week's Legends Of Tomorrow feels a bit like a filler episode, but eh, it's a fun filler. It's definitely a much better show now that they've ditched last season's restrictive Vandal Savage storyline and are free to do pretty much anything they want.

Even though Legends features a cast of superheroes, I would hesitate to call it a superhero show. The closest thing I could compare it to is Doctor Who. Like the Doctor, the Legends fly their time machine to a critical point in history, save the day and then move on to the next adventure. Not that there's anything wrong with that mind you, but I thought it was worth noting.

You don't have to be a film scholar to recognize that this week's plot is lifted wholesale from an homage to Akira Kurosawa's classic film Seven Samurai. There's an evil warlord threatening a defenseless village, a rag-tag group of heroes who try and defend it, and even a farmer's daughter who serves as the love interest. It's pretty darned blatant.

I'm sure this homage has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that The Magnificent Seven remake (which of course is a remake of the remake of Seven Samurai) is still in theaters at this point. Nope, totally a coincidence!

If the writers were dead set on paying tribute to Kurosawa films, I'd rather have seen an homage to The Hidden Fortress. Especially since George Lucas admitted he based the basic plot of Star Wars on the film. Basing it on that film would have made all The Empire Strikes Back references more relevant as well.

Overall it was an enjoyable episode, with one exception: once again we get another "Atom Feels Inferior Because His Power Comes From His Suit" storyline. Jesus Christ, the series isn't even two seasons old yet, and they've rehashed that plot ten or twelve times. How many more times are they gonna use it?

Speaking of Atom, his suit is destroyed in this episode. Obviously he's not just going to be a normal, powerless guy for the rest of the series, so I'm betting one of two things will happen soon. He'll either build a better and more powerful suit, or he'll find some way to internalize his shrinking power, like eating a chunk of dwarf star matter or something. Stay tuned.


The Plot:
Vixen stows away on the Waverider and manages to knock out just about all the Legends in the cold open. She finally finds her target Heat Wave sitting in the galley. She puts a knife to his throat and accuses him of killing Hourman (who was actually killed by the Reverse Flash last week). She's about to kill him when she's stopped by Nate Heywood, whose body is now covered in a silvery, steel-like substance (much like Colossus of the X-Men).

See, last week when Heywood was dying, Atom took the Nazi super soldier serum, modified it and injected him with it to save his life. The serum conveniently gave Heywood superpowers, and he decides to call himself Citizen Steel, or Steel for short, in honor of his grandfather Commander Steel. White Canary tells Atom to train Steel and teach him how to use his newfound powers.

Canary visits Vixen in the brig, and asks her what the hell. Once again Vixen accuses Heat Wave of killing Hourman. Canary says that's impossible, as he was on the Waverider the whole time, but notes that they've been tracking a rogue time traveler who might be the killer. She promises that the Legends will help find Hourman's killer. This satisfies Vixen, and Canary frees her from the brig. Vixen, who's from the 1940s, says she's gonna stay with the team until the killer's found.

Atom trains Steel in the cargo hold. They find that his steel powers activate when he's threatened and his adrenaline levels rise. Steel gets a little rambunctious and accidentally blows the airlock open. He's sucked out of the ship and into the time stream. Atom flies out to try and rescue him. Steel falls out of the time stream and lands in 1641 in Feudal Japan. He recognizes his surroundings and correctly identifies it as the Edo Period. He then reverts to normal and passes out. Atom falls out of the time stream in Feudal Japan as well. He's immediately surrounded by a group of samurai and knocked out.

Heywood wakes up in a horse-drawn wagon, being led by a woman. She says her name is Masako, and finds it odd that Heywood fell from the sky, and can speak her language. She takes Heywood to her home and asks her father Ichiro to treat his injuries. Ichiro refuses, saying that the Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu doesn't take kindly to foreigners and will kill Heywood if he's found. Masako insists, and her father reluctantly treats Heywood's wounds.

Meanwhile the samurai have taken Atom to the Shogun. They remove his ATOM suit and torture him, demanding to know where he got the amazing "armor." The Shogun appears and says the suit belongs to him now.

Back in the village, Masako tells Heywood that she's engaged to marry the Shogun against her will tomorrow. What a coincidence that Heywood just happened to show up in order to prevent that, eh? The Shogun's men arrive, and ask Masako if she's seen any foreigners. She lies and says no, but for some reason Heywood comes out of the house and confronts them. He's confident his new powers will kick in and he'll mop the floor with them. Unfortunately he doesn't "steel up," as the audience groans, recognizing we're going to get another Patented The CW Pep Talk
™ before the episode's over. The samurai beat Heywood, stab him and leave.

On the Waverider, Jackson repairs the cargo hold, and Gideon runs a diagnostic, saying all thirty six compartments are secure. Jackson says there are only supposed to be thirty five compartments on the ship, and Professor Stein says Rip Hunter must have a secret room somewhere. Jackson wants to repair the marooned ship's time drive, but Stein insists he help him look for the missing room.

Back in Japan, Masako and Ichiro try to treat Heywood's stab wound, but they can't stop the bleeding since he's a hemophiliac. He passes out, and when he wakes up a few hours later the wound's healed. This means the super soldier serum is still in his body, causing him to wonder why he can't turn into Steel.

Meanwhile, Canary, Heat Wave and Vixen somehow arrive in Feudal Japan (despite the fact that the Waverider is marooned in the time stream). They track the ATOM suit, and find the Shogun is now wearing it. The Legends begin fighting the Shogun's men. They find Atom and rescue him, just as the Shogun figures out how to use the blasters on the suit. The Legends make a hasty retreat.

Stein and Jackson find the secret room on the Waverider. They break in and see it's an armory, filled with weapons from various periods. They trigger a computer, which plays a message from Barry Allen, aka The Flash, from the year 2056. The message says, "Sorry to contact you like this, Captain Hunter, but I can't risk putting any more lives in danger. Which is why you'll keep what I'm about to tell you a secret. Even from the rest of your team." The two argue over whether they should watch the rest of the message. Stein insists, and they watch, but of course the audience doesn't get to see what it says, as that's a story for another week.

At Masako's house, she and Heywood are about to kiss when the Legends barge in. They're there to take Heywood back to the Waverider (how?), but he doesn't want to go. He wants to prevent Masako from marrying the Shogun, as well as save the village. Canary reluctantly agrees to help, and they make a plan. Atom says the Shogun is unbeatable while wearing his suit, and says the only way to defeat him is to destroy it. Ichiro tells Atom that he once made the strongest armor and sword in the region for his son, who was forced to commit seppuku by the Shogun. He retrieves the armor and sword and gives it to Atom, to give him a fighting chance against the evil warlord.

The Shogun and his men arrive. Heywood tries to stand up to him, but his powers still won't activate. He's knocked out by the Shogun's blaster. Atom then appears, clad in samurai armor and wielding a sword, and challenges the Shogun. Meanwhile, Canary and Vixen fight off the Shogun's men.

Atom is knocked down by the Shogun, and Masako takes her brother's sword and confronts him. The Shogun's about to kill her when Heywood appears, his powers finally activated. He destroys the Atom suit, killing the Shogun. He apologizes to Atom for wrecking his suit.

Heywood's now free to get the girl, but Masako tells him he needs to return to the sky from whence he came (oooh, burn!). They kiss, and he returns her brother's sword to her, saying she's capable enough to be the village's new defender. For some reason Atom asks Ichiro his family name. He says Yamashiro, causing much squealing among the fanboys in the audience, and linking the series to the recent Suicide Squad movie. The Legends somehow return to the Waverider.

Back on the ship, Stein and Jackson decide not to tell the rest of the team about Barry Allen's message.

• I think that was Heywood doing the opening narration this week, but I couldn't tell for sure.

• So in this episode, Heywood can suddenly cover his body in organic steel, thanks to Atom's modified Nazi super soldier serum. He decides to call himself "Citizen Steel," or just "Steel" for short.

There's a Citizen Steel in the comics, but as you might imagine, his origin is quite different. It's pretty involved, so I'm going to do you a favor and do some condensing. The comic book Nate Heywood is the grandson of Henry Heywood, aka Commander Steel of the Justice Society Of America. Nate was a college football star who retired after shattering his kneecap and having his leg amputated (!). He then became addicted to painkillers. Oh, modern comic books! You're so positively delightful!

Nate attended a family reunion that was attacked by the Fourth Reich, a team of super powered Nazis. They were hired by Vandal Savage (!!!) to wipe out the Heywood bloodline. One of these villains, Reichsmark, had the ability to turn people into metal statues (?). Nate jammed his crutch in Reichsmark's mouth, causing the supervillain's metallic blood to splash on him. His body absorbed the blood, causing him to regrow his missing leg and turn into living steel. Comic book science!

I will admit that "Citizen Steel" sounds a little clunky, but I'm not sure that just "Steel" is any better. It's going to become confusing if the writers over on Supergirl ever decide to introduce Steel, the character who helped defend Metropolis when Superman died in the comics (and was famously played by Shaq in the movie of the same name!).

Heywood is now Citizen Steel, although he just calls himself "Steel." This could become confusing if Supergirl ever decides to introduce Steel, who helped defend Metropolis when Superman died in the comics.

• So far I like Vixen well enough, except for one thing she doesn't talk or act like someone from the 1940s. In fact she's pretty much like all the other characters. She doesn't even seem all that astonished by the fact that she's inside a flying time machine.

She needs to speak a bit more formally, like a person of the 1940s probably would have. Even better, she could go the opposite route and pepper her speech with the occasional, "Say, what's the big idea?" or "Outta the way, youse mugs!"

• When Heywood lands in Feudal Japan, he makes himself understood by speaking in Japanese one of the many languages he knows. I'll overlook the fact that Japanese of the Edo Period would probably be hard to understand, if not incomprehensible, to a modern speaker.

Atom's not so lucky though. When he lands, he can't understand the samurai he encounters, nor do they know what he's saying. Fortunately he has an "ingestible trranslator pill" in his pocket and takes it, so everyone can converse and be understood.

The translator pills were introduced last season in White Knights, and apparently work much like the Babel Fish in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy a cheap narrative device created to explain how the characters can understand the various foreign languages they encounter.

Based on this scene, the pills apparently wear off after a while though, forcing them to periodically swallow another one. On the one hand, this makes a certain amount of sense. On the other, it feels like a clumsy and awkward way to explain to newcomers how the Legends can speak and understand Feudal Japaanese.

Apparently the pills wear off after a while though, since Atom can't understand these samurai and has to take another pill. I'm betting this scene was the writer's clumsy and unsatisfying way of explaining to late-comers how the Legends can understand feudal Japanese.

• Tokugawa Iemitsu, the evil Shogun in this episode, was a real person, who lived from 1604 to 1651. That's ten years after this episode takes place, meaning he wasn't really blown up while wearing an ATOM suit. Or maybe he was now? Maybe the Legends' actions altered this particular bit of history.

Tokugawa really did hate foreigners, and spent much of his reign crucifying Christians and expelling all Europeans from Japan. He even closed the borders of the country during his rule a policy that continued for over two hundred years! That all lines up fairly well with what we see in this episode.

Unfortunately for the writers, Tokugawa had very well known homosexual tendencies, which pretty much put an end to his family line. So the idea that he'd be forcing Masako to marry him was about as far-fetched as the Waverider!

• Heywood may be an expert at history, but he really sucks at math. When he meets Masako, she asks where he's from. He says, "The United States, which... you've never heard of because it doesn't exist for another two hundred years.

If Heywood's in 1641, then adding two hundred years would put you in 1842. I'm not an historical scholar like him, but I'm pretty sure the U.S. was a thing long before that.

• All through the episode, Heat Wave hopes to catch a glimpse of some ninjas. Vixen constantly tells him there's no such thing.

Is that supposed to be a joke? Was denying the existence of ninjas a thing in the 1940s?

• So far we've seen Vixen channel the strength of a gorilla and the agility of a lion. Whenever she does this, she ends up just punching someone hard. I'm wondering how extensive her powers are. If she channels an eagle, will she be able to fly? Or would that look too goofy in live action?

• In Professor Stein and Jackson's little subplot, we find out that the Waverider somehow has thirty six rooms stuffed inside it. This despite the fact that it looks to be the size of the average home. Some of the rooms, like the bridge and the cargo hold, are quite large too, making me wonder how there could possibly be enough space inside the ship for that many compartments.

This all reinforces my belief that the Waverider actually like the TARDIS on Doctor Who, and is bigger on the inside than the outside.

• When Professor Stein wants to find the secret thirty sixth room in the Waverider, Jackson says they need to fix the time drive before searching. We then see several shots of the ship hanging motionless, as it's apparently marooned inside the time stream.

If the time drive isn't working, and they're stuck in the vortex, how do Canary, Heat Wave and Vixen travel to Feudal Japan to rescue Atom and Heywood? Does the Waverider still have its little escape ship from last season?

• When Atom fights the Shogun who's stolen his suit, he can't figure out any way to defeat him, as he's now completely invulnerable. Wellllll, not so fast. Maybe he should try. oh, I don't know, stabbing the guy in the mouth. That't the only part of him not covered by the suit.

• At the end of the episode, for some reason Atom asks Ichiro what his family name is. He says "Yamashiro."

Don't worry if you don't understand the significance of that name. It went over my head too. Apparently Masako and Ichiro are distant ancestors of Tatsu Yamashiro, aka Katana, who was in this summer's awful, yet massively successful Suicide Squad.

The sword Masako now wields is called the Soultaker. It absorbs the souls of everyone it kills. In the Suicide Squad movie, we're told that the sword contains the soul of Katana's husband. Katana seemed like a pretty cool character, but because the movie's terrible we never get to actually see her sword in action, because that might have taken precious screen time away from Will Smith.

Apparently DC is now taking a page from Marvel Studios, and trying to link its TV series with its movies. Personally I wish the TV shows would stay as far away from DC's films as humanly possible.
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