Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Never Surrendering For Twenty Years Now!

Happy Belated 20th Anniversary to Galaxy Quest, which was released on December 25, 1999. Wow, TWENTY YEARS! That doesn't seem possible. Feels like I just saw it in the theater yesterday.

Galaxy Quest is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I still insist it's the best Star Trek movie ever made. Somehow it managed to be a love letter to Trek while still poking gentle fun at it.

There was talk of a sequel a few years back, but after the death of Alan Rickman and the premiere of the similar-in-tone The Orville, there just isn't much point. We'll just have to enjoy the one special film we have.

R.I.P. Syd Mead

I was saddened to hear of the death of Syd Mead, who died this week at age 89.

While his name likely isn't a household word, you've likely seen his work without realizing it. He was a prolific and talented illustrator, concept artist and industrial designer, who specialized in visualizing futuristic vehicles, machinery and cityscapes.

His work was clean, sleek and polished. It was also strangely believable. No matter how advanced the concept, he rendered it in such a way as to make it convincing. Many's the time I stared at one of his futuristic cities and wished I could live in it!

Syd Mead had a HUGE effect on me and my work, and was a big influence on my style and sense of design. I used to study his work intently, trying to figure out how he illustrated various textures and substances. He was an absolute master at rendering reflective surfaces!

Mead was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1933. After a three year stint in the Army, Mead attended the Art Center School in LA, where he graduated in 1959. He immediately landed a job with the Ford Motor Company, in their Advanced Styling Studio.

Mead seemed to specialize in conceiving and illustrating futuristic concept vehicles.

After two years there he began illustrating books and catalogs for major corporations such as US Steel, Celanese, Allis Chalmers and more.

In 1970 he launched his own company, where he did quite a bit of industrial design and concept work for Philips Electronics.

Eventually his work caught the eye of Hollywood. There's no doubt in my mind that this illustration of Mead's inspired George Lucas to come up with the AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back!

In 1979 he began doing concept work for various films, such as Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Mead worked on many designs for the massive V'ger ship.

He worked on TRON2010Short CircuitTime CopJohnny Mnemonic and Elysium as well.

He also designed the Sulaco for ALIENS.

By far his biggest and most important film contribution was in 1982's Blade Runner. Mead designed Deckard's iconic flying Spinner police car.

He came up with most of the other vehicles seen in the movie as well.

He also designed the dense and detailed city of 2019 (!) Los Angeles for the film. The look and feel of Blade Runner was like nothing ever seen before, and his work is still influencing scifi movies to this day. He also worked on the sequel, Blade Runner 2049. I cannot overstate how influential his work has been in the past three decades.

Mead did design work for several videogames as well, such as Mass Effect.

Mead is also the only American artist ever asked to design a Gundam a traditionally Japanese franchise! I'm not a big fan of his Turn ∀ Gundam robot, but I'm still impressed by his achievement.

He was an amazing talent who'll be sorely missed. R.I.P. Syd Mead!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Batwoman Season 1, Episode 9: Crisis On Infinite Earths: Part Two

Damn you, Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover! You just forced me to watch Batwoman in order to get the full story!

Call me a hater, call me a misogynist, call me a basement-dwelling manbaby, call me anything you want, I don't care. People like what they like and hate what they don't— and I just do not like this version of Batwoman.

Full disclosure— I've never actually seen an episode of her series until now. I know, I know, how can I dislike something without knowing anything about it or giving it a chance. Welp, I saw Batwoman in last year's Elseworlds crossover, and I wasn't impressed. 

Plus I've seen enough YouTube clips and reviews of her series to know it's not for me. And that's OK! Every show doesn't have to be for everyone! If you like Batwoman, more power to you! Enjoy it in good health, while I ignore it and go on with my daily life. 

With all that said— I actually didn't mind Batwoman in this episode! I know! Believe me, no one's more surprised than I am to hear me say that.

I'm wondering if the producers attempted to soften her character a bit here, in an effort to garner more viewers? They've gotta know that a lot of people would be watching her show for the first time this week, so maybe they were trying to make a good impression on them, in the hopes they'd stick around?

I gotta give props to Ruby Rose here as well. Back in the Elseworlds crossover I mentioned that she seemed miscast, and just wasn't a very good actress. I humbly retract that statement. I thought she was actually pretty good in this episode! Maybe it just took her a while to grow into the role, or she took acting lessons or something. Whatever she did, good on her for working to improve.

As for the rest of the episode, it's something of a mixed bag. There's some awesome elements, some OK ones and some that are downright bad. And therein lies the problem with the episode, and the crossover as a whole. There's WAY too much stuff being crammed into the Crisis. 

Even with five episodes there's far too much going on. Scenes happen in such rapid succession that they never get the chance to breathe. Before the audience even realizes what they just saw, another scene's already started. The plot motivated by the script, rather than the characters.

And yet weirdly they actually do take their time and let some scenes play out slowly. Unfortunately they're all scenes containing Patented The CW Pep Talks®, which don't matter and contribute nothing to the plot.

There's also quite a bit of fan service in this episode, which also has no point— other than to make the audience clap and shriek, "I know that! That's a thing I know!"

Eh, but as I said, it's not all bad. It was fun seeing Kevin Conroy finally get the chance to play a live action Batman! And I loved all seeing Brandon Routh as Superman again. I didn't much care for Superman Returns, but any problem I had with that film was NOT Routh's fault. He most definitely understands the character, in a way Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill never will. Brandon Routh is the perfect— I don't want to say replacement... how about "heir"— to Christopher Reeve!

OK, on with the review!

The Plot:
It's complicated, so I'll try to simplify & condense as much as possible.

On Earth-1, White Canary, Supergirl and Batwoman drown their sorrows as they mourn Oliver Queen, who died in Crisis On Infinite Earths: Part 1 (does Batwoman even know him?). Lyla Michaels, aka Harbinger, appears and says she hasn't told John Diggle about Oliver yet.

The Monitor pops in and says in order to stop the Crisis, they'll need the technology of the the Waverider from Legends Of Tomorrow Canary says she promised the Legends "they'd never have to do another crossover (?)." The Monitor says that's fine, as he only needs the tech in Atom's lab, and there's a whole multiverse full of Waveriders. Harbinger teleports away to find one of them.

She appears on Earth-74, where a rusty, decrepit Waverider sits in a field. Inside she's confronted by the ship's helpful AI, who in this universe has the voice of former Legend Captain Cold. A drunken (of course) Heat Wave wanders onto the bridge, wielding both his flamethrower and Cold's freeze gun. Harbinger asks what happened to the rest of the Legends, and Heat Wave says they retired. She invites Heat Wave to come with her to save the Multiverse. Having nothing better to do, he agrees and somehow flies the Waverider to Earth-1.

On Earth-1, The Monitor gathers the heroes and says Oliver's death was a horrible loss. Additionally, he says every time a universe is destroyed, he grows weaker while The Anti-Monitor becomes stronger. He assures them that all hope isn't lost though. He says he went back in time and retrieved the Book Of Destiny, which told him of seven Paragons who can oppose The Anti-Monitor and save the Multiverse.

The Monitor says Supergirl is the Paragon of Hope, while Canary is the Paragon of Destiny. The Book didn't tell him the names of the others, only that the third is a Kryptonian who's the Paragon of Truth. The fourth one is the Paragon of Courage, also known as the "bat of the future." He doesn't know who the other three are, and asks Atom to build a Paragon Detector for him to find out.

Supergirl asks if the Book Of Destiny can bring back her world of Earth-38, which was destroyed in Part 1. The Monitor says it's theoretically possible, but attempting to do so would cause madness. 

For some reason The Monitor then brings back Lex Luthor, who was presumed dead (I think?). Supergirl asks why he would do such a thing, and The Monitor says he senses Lex has an important role to play in the Crisis.

Elsewhere on the Waverider, Harbinger begins hearing strange voices. She sees Lex take the Book Of Destiny and teleport away with it. 

The Monitor brings Iris onto the Waverider, and orders her to go with Superman and Lois to find the Kryptonian. Supergirl and Batwoman agree to find the bat of the future.

Barry tells Oliver's daughter Mia that he wants to use the Lazarus Pit to her father back to life. Canary, who was once resurrected by the Pit, warns them against this, as it drains a person of their humanity and soul. She tells Mia it doesn't matter anyway, as Earth-1's Pit was destroyed. Barry says there are plenty of other Earths out there that still have functioning Pits.

Supergirl and Batwoman travel to Earth-99, where they arrive at a rundown and decrepit Wayne Manor. They knock on the door and are greeted by an alt version of Batwoman's pal Luke Fox. He slams the door in their faces, so Supergirl kicks it open. They hear a mechanical noise, and an elderly Bruce Wayne— wearing a metal exoskeleton— comes down the stairs. Apparently this world is a few decades ahead of Earth-1?

Bruce tells Batwoman he wears the exoskeleton due to injuries he received in battle, and that his version of her died five years ago. He asks her why she's here, and she explains the Crisis and says he's the Paragon Of Courage. He laughs at the thought, saying he's changed. He says after the first time he took a life it became easier and easier, and says the same thing will happen to her some day. Batwoman says he's needed, and has the chance to be a hero again.

Clark, Lois and Iris travel to Earth-75 to look for that world's Superman. Unfortunately he's just been killed by Lex. They realize Lex is using the Book to destroy Supermen throughout the Multiverse.

Back on the Waverider, Barry, Mia and Canary have recruited John Constantine from god knows where. They need him to discover an Earth with a functioning Lazarus Pit. He manages to find one, and he, Barry and Mia head for it with Oliver's body. Canary makes him promise to bring back Oliver's soul.

Superman, Lois and Iris then travel to Earth-167. There they discover the Clark Kent from the Smallville series chopping wood. Lois warns him that they need him to come with before Lex appears and kills him. Suddenly the three disappear, as Lex materializes behind Clark. 

Lex greets Clark as his "old friend," and pulls out a chunk of Kryptonite. Clark takes it from him and tosses it aside. He says it doesn't have any effect on him now that he's given up his powers and started a family. Lex is appalled, says it wouldn't be any fun to kill him now and teleports away. Lois approaches and asks who Clark was talking to, and he tells her it was Lex from another Earth. She laughs, thinking he made a joke.

Superman, Lois and Iris then travel to Earth-96, where they locate Clark Kent (the version from Superman Returns) at the Daily Planet. They explain to him why they're there, and he assure them he can handle Lex from any universe. Lois notices a wall full of plaques in Clark's office, and he explains that the Joker (I think?) gassed the Daily Planet several years back, killing Lois and all his friends. When the others hear what this Clark's gone through, they realize he's the Paragon of Truth.

Clark-96 puts on his Superman costume, as does Clark-38 for some reason. Just then Lex teleports in with the Book Of Destiny. He uses it to take control of Superman-96, and orders him to attack Superman-38. Programs, getcher programs! Can't tell yer Supermen apart without yer programs!

We then get a big action setpiece of the two Supermen duke it out, which is pretty much a repeat of last year's Elseworlds crossover. Superman-96 says he doesn't care about saving the universe, and just wants to kill Superman-38. Suddenly Superman-96 spots Lois and Iris watching from the Daily Planet, and heads right for them. 

Lois sneaks up behind Lex and knocks him out. She and Iris then pry open the Book and picture the true Clark-96. Suddenly the two Supermen crash into the office. Superman-96 fires his heat vision at the two women, but Superman-38 blocks the blast. Lois appeals to Superman-96's true nature, telling him to remember who he is. That breaks Lex's spell, and he returns to normal.

Back on Earth-99, Supergirl looks through Bruce Wayne's trophy room. She sees a broken and bloody pair of glasses that belonged to Clark Kent, and realizes Bruce killed him on this world. In the Batcave, it's obvious Bruce has gone dark. He refuses to go with Batwoman, saying there's no hope and the world deserves to die. 

Supergirl enters and accuses Bruce of killing Superman. He admits it, saying Superman had too much power and had to be stopped. He opens a panel in his gauntlet, revealing a chunk of Kryptonite inside. He punches Supergirl and knocks her across the room. He tells Batwoman he can't believe she'd side with a filthy Kryptonian and attacks her. She pushes him back in self defense, and he falls against a generator or something, which electrocutes him. As he dies, he tells her again there's no hope.

Meanwhile Barry, Mia, Canary and Constantine arrive in an Old West town on Earth-18— which I guess is behind Earth-1 time-wise. There they find a still-functioning Lazarus Pit inside a mine. Jonah Hex— sans facial scar— appears and tells them the Pit's off limits. Canary and Mia attack him, and the three scuffle for a bit. Eventually Canary grabs Hex's knife and slices his face with it, giving him his trademark scar. He gives in and they lower Oliver's body in to the Pit.

Constantine mumbles some magic words over the Pit. After a beat Oliver comes back to life, leaps from the pit and immediately attacks Constantine. Barry speeds John out of the way, while Canary tranqs Oliver. Constantine performs a spell to join Oliver's soul to his body, but apparently he has performance anxiety and it doesn't work. He says all the excess antimatter in the universe is interferring with his magic. 

Superman, Lois and Iris bring Superman-96 to the Waverider. There he meets Atom, who looks exactly like him. The Monitor congratulates them on finding the Paragon of Truth. Supergirl and Batwoman return and announced they failed. The Monitor says he's not so sure, just as Atom activates his Paragon Detector. It indicates that Batwoman herself is the Paragon of Courage. So why the hell didn't The Monitor say that in the first place? Who is he, Glinda The Good Witch?

Later, Batwoman & Supergirl chat in the cargo hold. Batwoman says she's not sure she's up to being a Paragon. Supergirl gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, assuring her that she is. She then says she plans on using the Book Of Destiny to bring back Earth-38. Batwoman says that's not a good idea, as she could end up making things worse. Supergirl says she has to try, and leaves. Batwoman reveals she stole the Kryptonite from Bruce, and looks at it meaningfully, hoping she won't have to use it to stop her friend.

Harbinger wanders the halls again, still hearing voices. Suddenly a figure steps from the shadows, revealing himself as The Anti-Monitor. He tells her there's much work to be done.

• Jaysis, I thought this would be a short little review, but it kept on growing as I notice more and more stuff.

• At the beginning of the episode, The Monitor tells Canary he needs the Waverider's technology. To quote Captain Kirk, "What does God need with a starship?"

Obviously the real-world reason he needs the Waverider comes down to— as always— the budget. In the Crisis comic, The Monitor's headquartered in a massive satellite, where he gathers hundreds of heroes from across the Multiverse. 

By the time The CW paid for all the guest appearances in this episode, there was no money left to build a spacious satellite interior. So they had to make do and use their standing sets— hence The Monitor develops a sudden and intense interest in the Waverider.

Like I said in Part 1, this crossover's gonna be a Discount Crisis.

• When The Monitor says he needs the Waverider, Canary balks, saying, "Yeah. I kind of promised our crew they'd never have to do another crossover."

OK, I get it— it's sort of a running joke on Legends Of Tomorrow that the characters don't like participating in the crossover events, so she'd rather not involve them. But we're talking about the fate of the freakin' Multiverse here! Who cares whether the Legends want to participate or not? Kick 'em off the goddamned ship and hand it over to The Monitor! The needs of the many and all that!

• Apparently the Legends exist on many other Earths in the Multiverse. Lets hope those other teams had a better Season 4 than the ones on Earth-1 had.

• Instead of Gideon, this particular Waverider's AI is Leonard, who sounds and acts just like Captain Cold. While it was great to hear actor Wentworth Miller's voice again, it also made me realize how much I miss him on Legends.

• Over on Legends Of Tomorrow, I've often pointed out how the producers use a wide angle lens to make the Waverider interior look bigger than it actually is. That trick was never more evident than in this episode. 

How do I know that's what they're doing? Zoom in and take a good look at Lyla there. Unless her legs really are twice the length of her upper body, then they're definitely using some sort of distorting lens.

You can also tell it's a wide angle lens by the way everything on the edges of the screen leans toward the center. I bet in real life this set probably isn't much bigger than the average living room!

• When Heat Wave-74 shows up, he's carrying his usual flame gun, as well as the late Captain Cold's freeze blaster. Odd to think that the Heat Wave seen in this crossover isn't the one we know and love, but from another Earth.

• Last year in Elseworlds, Oliver made a deal with The Monitor to spare the lives of Barry and Kara in exchange for his own. The Monitor agreed, and even admits it in this episode, saying, "While Oliver Queen was to die in this Crisis, this is not how I saw events unfold."

Not that I wanted Oliver to die mind you, but... I don't get why The Monitor would wait until NOW to take him up on his sacrifice. Wouldn't it have made a lot more sense if he died in Elseworlds? The Monitor even said the Universe demands balance— a life for a life. I guess the Universe was content to wait a year for Ollie to die?

• I've not had time to keep up with Supergirl for a while, but from what I gather Lex Luthor became a regular some time back, but was recently killed off. The Monitor brings him back to life in this episode of Batwoman (!). 

Seems odd to resurrect a major character like Luthor outside of his home series. Wouldn't it have made more sense if this happened on Supergirl? On the other hand, they just killed off Oliver Queen on Supergirl instead of his own show, so... I guess anything goes in these crossovers.

By the way, when Supergirl first sees The Monitor's brought back Luthor, she says, "You did this? You brought that poisonous snake back?"

This is a reference to Superman II, in which Luthor betrays Superman in the Fortress Of Solitude. Superman yells, "Luthor, you poisonous snake!"

• The Monitor gathers all the heroes on the Waverider and tells them about the Paragons. When they ask how he knows about them, he says he consulted the Book Of Destiny. 

Quite rightly, Barry points out that the Book was destroyed last year in ElseworldsThe Monitor explains, "After Oliver's early demise, I went back into the time stream and retrieved it intact. It is now safely stored in this ship's library."

Wait, what? So The Monitor just went back in time to grab the Book Of Destiny. If he's capable of that, then why doesn't he go back and fix everything else? He could pluck Oliver from the timeline, save Supergirl's mom, kill The Anti-Monitor while he's asleep... anything!

Turns out the writers thought of that, and took steps to explain why it couldn't happen. When Supergirl sees the resurrected Luthor, she asks The Monitor, "So you can revive him, but you can't bring back Oliver?" The Monitor replies, "I restored Luthor long before the Crisis caused my power to wane."

So he CAN time travel, but only when it doesn't matter or is inconvenient to the plot. LAME!

• During his briefing, The Monitor mentions yet another magic book:

"I enlisted the assistance of Felicity Smoak, who earned the wisdom of a second book. The Tome of the Guardians. It revealed the names of Ms. Zor-El and Ms. Lance, as well as the other two."

What the hell is The Tome Of The Guardians? Is that something to do with the Green Lanterns? And how in the name of sanity did Felicity "earn" some mystic book? 

Apparently it's none of our concern, as this particular subplot is instantly dropped and never mentioned again. I suppose it's possible it might come up again in the next couple of episodes, but I'm not holding my breath.

• Batwoman and Supergirl travel to Earth-99 to recruit that world's Bruce Wayne. Not sure why they couldn't just grab the Earth-1 Bruce Wayne, but there you go. When they arrive at Stately Wayne Manor, they're greeted by the Earth-99 version of Luke Fox, who's considerably less bookish and nerdy than his Earth-1 counterpart. 

What's with the cabana boy getup that Luke's sporting on this Earth? Are they hinting there's some relationship between him and Bruce? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I honestly can't tell if that's supposed to be what's happening or not.

• Inside Wayne Manor, Batwoman meets the Bruce Wayne of Earth-99. Boy, is there a LOT to unpack here!

First of all, Bruce Wayne's played by Kevin Conroy. He's a prolific character actor, with over a hundred credits to his name. He's probably best known as the voice of Batman in the awesome Batman: The Animated Series of the 1990s. He's voiced the character numerous times since, in various other series and videogames. In fact Conroy's kind of become THE Official voice of Batman, so it's pretty cool that he finally got a chance to play him in live action (well, sort of)!

Secondly, in this scene we hear Bruce coming down the stairs long before we actually see him. When he finally steps into view, we see he's wearing an elaborate exoskeleton that supports his body.

In fact, given the elaborate metallic spine on the back, I'm wondering if this Bruce is actually paralyzed, and the exoskeleton is moving for him?

However it works, this exoskeleton is virtually identical to the one Bruce wears in the Kingdom Come comic miniseries (featuring art by the always amazing Alex Ross!). In that comic, Bruce's age, combined with a lifetime of injuries force him to wear the exoskeleton at all times. He transforms Gotham City into a police state, and all crime is dealt with by an army of robotic Bat-Knights.

Here in the Crisis crossover though, Bruce says he wears the exoskeleton as a result of damage sustained from his final battle with Superman— in which he killed the Man Of Steel. That scenario is very similar to the plot of The Dark Knight Returns comic by Frank Miller. 

Confused yet? The writers took three distinct versions of Bruce Wayne/Batman and combined them into one character.

• Based on Bruce's agem it appears that Earth-99 is several years ahead of Earth-1. Something similar happened in Part 1 when a group of heroes went to Earth-16, where it's currently 2046. I guess it makes a certain amount of sense that some worlds would be chronologically ahead of or behind Earth-1.

Anyway, despite the fact that Batwoman KNOWS she's going to a future Earth, she seems shocked and surprised when she sees a visibly older Bruce. What the hell did you expect, Kate? You're in the "future," sort of! Bruce doesn't fare much better, as he comments that the youthful Batwoman has "aged well," implying the version he knew (who's now dead) was much older.

Oddly enough, the Earth-99 Luke Fox is apparently the same age as his Earth-1 counterpart, because Batwoman doesn't comment on his age (just his impressive abs). 

• Mia tells Canary that she intends to use a Lazarus Pit to resurrect Oliver. Canary offers a mild, token objection and then completely goes along with this cockamamie idea.

This seems VERY out of character for Canary! Remember, over on Arrow she herself was killed and resurrected in a Lazarus Pit. She of ALL people should know the dangers involved. You'd think she'd do everything in her power to talk Mia out of the plan— and maybe even force her to stop. Yet she willingly goes along with it, like they're taking Oliver in for a haircut.

This scene perfectly highlights one of the problems with this crossover. As I said in the intro, there's wayyyyyy too much being crammed into the episodes, and as a result certain plotlines don't have room to breathe. Story arcs are introduced and resolved far too quickly as the characters hustle on to the next one.

• Fun moment: Barry & Mia recruit Constantine to find an Earth with a functioning Lazarus Pit. Before starting, Constantine takes out two cigarettes. Barry says, "We don't have a lot of time, so could you please take your smoke break later, maybe just do the spell?" Constantine replies, "Simmer down, speedy. This is the spell." He then transforms the cigarette flame into a mystic map.

• Clark, Lois and Iris travel to Earth-75 to look for the Kryptonian Paragon. Unfortunately they discover that world's Man Of Steel has just been killed by an Earth-hopping Lex Luthor, who's armed with the Book Of Destiny.

As they wander around Metropolis, they see an outdoor screen televising news of Superman-75's death...

It's a pretty accurate recreation of a panel from the 1992 Death Of Superman storyline in Superman #75! Fan service? Most definitely, but it's still pretty darned cool.

• Clark, Lois and Iris then travel to Earth-167, which is apparently the setting of the Smallville TV series. A lot of the various Earth's numerical designations have some sort of meaning in this crossover. For example, in Part 1 we briefly saw Earth-66, which was the home of the Batman & Robin from the 1966 TV series. If there's any significance to the "167" seen here though, it's lost on me, as I have no idea what that number might represent. Maybe nothing, and it's simply a case of a cigar being a cigar!

• When we first see the Kent farm on Earth-167, the camera slowly pans through Clark's home, revealing several framed newspapers with familiar headlines.

The "Caped Wonder Stuns City" headline is a reference to the one seen in 1978's Superman: The Movie.

The "I Spent The Night With Superman" was seen in Superman: The Movie as well. It was written by Lois Lane after he met her for dinner at her penthouse apartment and took her for a quick flight around the world.

Note that neither Arrowverse prop is exactly like the movie versions. But eh, whaddya expect? This is a completely different world.

The final headline, "Superman Saves The Day," was seen several times on the Smallville series.

• When Lois first sees Clark-167, he's wearing a red flannel shirt as he chops wood. She remarks that he "looks like the buff guy on the paper towel rolls." Looks like Brawny brand paper towels exist on Earth-38!

• Lex Luthor spends a good part of the episode flitting around the Multiverse, killing off various versions of his archenemy Superman. A couple things here:

First of all, WHY? Why bother killing all the Supermans? Lex knows the entire Multiverse is being erased, right? Why not just let nature take its course? Seems like a waste of his time, when he could be using the Book Of Destiny to make himself a god, or stop the antimatter wave or pretty much anything else.

Secondly, based on the dialogue it sounds like Luthor is familiar with Clark Kent-38, but doesn't know his secret identity. The writers go to ridiculous and unbelievable lengths to preserve that conceit here. 

When Luthor meets Clark-167, he tells him, "You will always be my greatest enemy on any Earth. It's written in the stars and in this book, or I wouldn't know that on this Earth Clark Kent is Superman! Where I come from, that would be ridiculous. He can't see past his glasses."

So... despite the fact that he's confronted with concrete evidence that Clark = Superman on Earth-167, it never occurs to Luthor— certified genius and the greatest criminal mind of the century— that the same might apply on his own world! Jesus wept. I hope the writers didn't sprain anything when they bent over backwards coming up with this ridiculous explanation.

Also, going by Luthor's statement, it sounds like Clark Kent isn't Superman on every Earth! Odd.

• Apparently the producers approached actor Michael Rosenbaum (of Smallville fame) to reprise his role of Lex Luthor in the crossover. Unfortunately, Rosenbaum turned them down. In a statement on Twitter, he explained why: 

"I’ll just be straight up about this. WB called my agents Friday afternoon when I was in Florida visiting my grandfather in a nursing home. Their offer: No Script. No idea what I’m doing. No idea when I’m shooting. Basically no money. And the real kick in the ass 'We have to know now.' My simple answer was 'Pass.' I think you can understand why."

I think he meant "The CW" there, but that's beside the point. Many fans are angry at his decision, but I'm with Rosenbaum here. I wouldn't want to sign on for a job without knowing what it entailed either. Who would? And why wouldn't they show him the script? Or at least the pages relevant to him? Were they trying to prevent leaks, or did they not have his part written yet?

I'm assuming they just wanted him for a brief cameo appearance, meaning he'd have to drop everything and fly all the way to Vancouver to film a thirty second scene. 

Not to mention the fact he likely would have had to shave his head again to play Lex for little or no money! Who could blame him for passing on an opportunity like that?

Given the way the Smallville scene played out in this episode, I'm having trouble understanding how Rosenbaum would have figured into it in the first place. Maybe Jon Cryer's Lex would have transformed himself into the Rosenbaum version to gain Clark's trust? We'll likely never know.

• After Lex vanishes, Lois walks up and asks Clark who he was talking to. Lois is played here by Erica Durance, who played her on Smallville as well! Nice touch!

• As Bruce explains his motivations to Batwoman, he shows her a newspaper with the headline, "Batman's Reign Of Terror Over!" I'm assuming that at some point after Batman-99 started killing, he was forced to retire and hang up his cape. Apparently that means Bruce's secret identity is still a thing— otherwise he'd be in jail.

• Heat Wave-74 reads one of his soft core porn "romance" novels to Baby Jonathan. Crisis On Infinite Earths, ladies and gentlemen! Come for the cosmic battles, stay for the scenes of babysitting.

• Much like the Batman scene, there's a lot going on in the Superman segment of the episode as well.

First of all, Clark, Lois and Iris travel to Earth-96, where they meet the Clark Kent of that world. Things are quite different on this Earth, as this Clark looks exactly like Ray Palmer, aka the Atom of Legends fame.

Note that this particular Clark/Superman is supposed to be the same one from Superman Returns. This also means he's the same one who was played by Christopher Reeve in Superman: The Movie!

Secondly, the Clark Kent of Earth-96 is the Editor-In-Chief of the Daily Planet. Once the others explain that they know he's really Superman, he takes them into his office so they can talk in private. For no good reason, Clark-96 then removes his glasses as he says he's not afraid of Lex.

Should he really be taking off his glasses so nonchalantly there in his office? Sure, Iris & the others know his secret identity, but I assume his coworkers don't. Anyone could walk into his office at any time and see him without his "disguise."

Thirdly, get a load of Superman-96's costume. He's got a black and red chest emblem, and is wearing the traditional red trunks (as he should).

In fact his costume is virtually identical to the one worn by Superman in the Kingdom Come minseries by Mark Waid and Alex Ross! In that story, Superman retired after the death of Lois at the hands of the Joker. He was coaxed back into the public eye by Wonder Woman, in order to stop the supervillain Magog.

This storyline is echoed somewhat in this episode, as Clark-96 explains that his Lois died when "A reject from Gotham felt that we didn't cover him enough, so he played what he called a practical joke and gassed the building."

Obviously the Gotham reject is the Joker, as deadly gas is his typical M.O. Also, note the framed newspaper on the wall behind Clark...

It's very clearly based on this page from the JSA Kingdom Come Special: Superman comic, which again features art by Alex Ross! There's that name again! I'm starting to think the producers are reeeeeally big fans of Ross' work! And who could blame them?

Just as they did with Batman, the writers took several different versions of Superman from various mediums and combined them into one character here.

 Lois puts in a very poor showing in this episode. She sees a wall of plaques in Clark-96's office and says, "What is this? Why are all these things on your wall?"

Well gosh, Lois, since they're all inscribed with names and the phrase "You Are Remembered" under them, I'd say they're probably memorial plaques. You know, victims of the Joker's attack?

Are we sure this woman is supposed to be an investigative reporter?

 Lex appears and uses the Book Of Destiny to cause Superman-96 to fight Superman-38. Wait, didn't we already see Superman fighting himself last year in the big Elseworlds crossover? How many times are they gonna recycle this particular plot?

 Eventually Superman-96 breaks free of Luthor's mind control. After he does so, he says, "Actually, this is the second time I've gone nuts and fought myself!"

Yeah, that's a Superman III reference. The less said about that movie, the better.

 Back at Wayne Manor, Supergirl stumbles into Batman's trophy room.

Among the items on display is the Joker's blood-smeared joker calling card...

Along with the broken pieces of the Riddler's question mark cane and Mr. Freeze's snowglobe. The implication here of course is that Batman finally got fed up and killed off his rogue's gallery.

She also finds a pair of broken and bloodied glasses, indicating Batman somehow killed the Superman of this world as well.

That's more or less the general plot of The Dark Knight Returns comic, as well as the execrable Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice movie.

 Barry, Mia, Canary and Constantine travel to North Dakota on Earth-18— where for some reason it's the 1800s. There they meet Jonah Hex, who shows up just long enough for Canary to beat his ass, and then promptly disappears from the episode, never to be seen again.

There was no reason whatsoever for Hex to appear, other than to get his trademark facial scar. His appearance was pure, 100% undiluted fan service, plain and simple. He contributed nothing to the plot, and took up valuable screen time that could have been devoted to the leads.

 After Oliver's resurrected by the Lazarus Pit, Constantine utters a spell to rejoin his soul to his physical body. Unfortunately Constantine experiences the magical equivalent of erectile dysfunction. He even says, "Something's wrong. This has never happened before!" Of course he tries blaming it on all the antimatter in the solar system.

 Bruce's Batcave reminded me quite a bit of the one from the 1966 Batman TV series. Which I'm sure it was meant to do.

 Late in the third act, Bruce flips out again and says he can't believe Batwoman is palling around with a filthy Kryptonian. He then opens a panel in his exoskeleton and removes a sample of Kryptonite, and uses it to try and kill Supergirl.

Wait, hold on... if this Bruce killed his world's Superman ages ago, then why is he still carrying Kryptonite around in his exosuit?

Also, when Bruce taunts Supergirl with the Kryptonite he says, "A little souvenir from the old hometown."

That's a reference to Superman: The Movie, in which Lex Luthor says the exact same line to Superman while sapping his strength with Kryptonite.

 Bruce rants against the "danger" posed by his Superman, saying, "Strange visitor from another planet comes to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men?"

This of course is a nod to 1952's The Adventures Of Superman TV show, which started each episode with the intro: 

"Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!"

"Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!"

"Yes, it's Superman, strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way."

 When Superman-96 boards the Waverider, he sees Lois & Clark's newborn son Jonathan. He says, "He looks just like my son Jason!" 

That's a reference to Superman Returns, in which Lois and Clark somehow fathered a son. By the way, does it make any sense that a Superman who looks like Brandon Routh would produce a son who looks exactly like a child fathered by a Superman who looks like Tyler Hoechlin?

 Superman meets Atom! As I said in the intro, it's awesome to see Routh as Superman again. He really does understand the character and how to play him, and makes a perfect Superman.

It really sucks that the producers of Legends Of Tomorrow are writing Atom out of the show. He's the heart and soul of that series, and I'm honestly considering dropping it once he's forced off the show.

 After Bruce's death, Batwoman secretly steals his Kryptonite sample to generate drama. I'm assuming she kept it as an insurance policy, in case Supergirl tries doing something crazy with the Book Of Destiny?

• In the final minutes of the episode, The Anti-Monitor finally shows up. He doesn't look the least bit like his comic book counterpart (Discount Crisis again!), but he still looks pretty good. LaMonica Garrett plays both Monitors, which I'm sure was supposed to seem clever. In reality, they probably doubled up to save having to hire one more actor!
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