5 Ways Superman/Wonder Woman #5 Makes The Case They Should Be Together

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Having just closed Superman/Wonder Woman #5, and as the series goes on, it is becoming more obvious to me that DC made the right call by pairing up Earth’s most powerful beings, Superman and Wonder Woman. First of all, if power attracts power then it makes perfect sense these two would be interested in the other. Second, they are portrayed as two of the most beautiful people on the planet, which doesn’t hurt either – even without X-ray vision. And third, of course the drama and scale of the story and plot transcends a generations-old superhero/human love affair when two Gods are either loving or spatting. Mountains crumble, skies thunder and seas roar when Superman and Wonder Woman embrace, a far greater spectacle than foiling a purse thug or rescuing a cat from a tree. No offense Lois or cat-ladies.

Here’s 5 reasons the Superman and Wonder Woman relationship, as depicted in issue 5, is already telling a greater and more intriguing love story than the stale Lois love triangle had grown over its constant retellings. Now that the novelty has begun to fade, let’s see why this relationship has serious potential to redefine not only both characters, but also what it means for each to love.

5. Twisted Love
A great way the Superman/Wonder Woman series has made such a strong case for being reason to applaud the decision to couple them has been how it flips the classic Lois-Superman/Clark love triangle in that Diana questions whether she could deal being with the human disguise of Clark Kent. This skews the typical story-telling from much of Superman’s 75 year-plus history with Lois being hot and heavy over the Kryptonian, cape-bearing, son of El, but colder and flippant to his bespectacled, mild-mannered alter-ego. Having the lasso-wielding demigod in love with Superman, but questioning dividing his time cavorting as a human makes for a fun twist on this new relationship with these familiar characters.

4. Power Levels
For when “this is a job for Superman” just doesn’t deliver the intended results – maybe when you’re pitted against two opposing Kryptonians (in Superman/Wonder Woman #5 by Charles Soule) – it comes in really handy to have a mate with the skills that not only match those of a Kryptonian, but may exceed them if Diana’s battlefield prowess versus Faora and Zod was any indication.

3. Dilemma Diana
The fact Wonder Woman is a near Goddess elevates all of her emotional dramas to epic proportions. For all her majesty and grace however, pretending to be something she isn’t just ain’t Wonder Woman’s style, and this inner turmoil of course has global ramifications as Diana’s pondering distracts her from a cataclysmic battle between her lover Superman and freshly escaped from the Phantom Zone, Zod and Faora. When you possess such great power as Diana, the greater need of the world often comes at odds with your own wants. Throw in this new feeling of “doubt”, never before experienced by Wonder Woman, over her relationship with Clark, and suddenly the world could go to Hell while Diana’s inner-monologue distracts her from the greater good. With such strong lovers committed to a tenuous bond, their make-ups and break-ups could be a literal roller coaster…for the Earth!

2. Tactics versus Strategy
Having waged war before on her native Paradise Island Themyscira, Diana knows the importance of long-term strategy and deciding when to quit and fight another day, as opposed to utilizing short-term tactics. Something Superman, being so untested in this new 52, does not yet possess. This factor becomes evident at the conclusion of Superman/Wonder Woman #5, as a walloped and weary Kal-El is about to have his neck crushed by Zod (a reverse-Man of Steel?), Wonder Woman surrenders, collecting her boyfriend and “strategically retreating” to regroup and fight another day.

1. Warrior Woman
One of the big reasons Superman/Wonder Woman #5 was such a great read was the scintillating rescue of Superman during his battle with his fellow Kryptonians. Being outnumbered and bested by Zod and Faora, all looks lost for Kal until he is saved in epic fashion by Wonder Woman. Heeding her fellow Justice Leaguers calls to aid Superman, Diana races to the fight already in-progress. She introduces herself by deflecting an intended heat blast from Zod’s retinas with her sword back at the twisted General, then using the scorched blade to greet Faora by burning her face with her steel ablaze. After talking themselves up as warriors all issue, Zod and Faora got a serious crash course of the battle-readiness and a heaping dose of wounds and scars at the hand of perhaps Earth’s greatest warrior – and fiercest lover – Wonder Woman.

The Walking Dead Spin-Off: The Governor?

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After The Governor’s shocking return as last week’s episode of The Walking Dead faded to black, all the buzz going into “Live Bait” was focused on “the Govnah’s” surprise appearance. Many questions remained unanswered since his last appearance. Just where did he travel off to after his town burst into chaos? Was he alone? Did he get any crazier?

Luckily for fans of the gubernatorial pirate, The Walking Dead served up its fair share of answers on the subject of everyone’s favorite one-eyed baddie to quell any confusion on the topic. In fact, “Live Bait” was a first for The Walking Dead: centering an entire episode around a single character. Sure, we’ve seen great team-ups take place in single Walking Dead episodes, like with Merle and Michonne or Carol and Rick, but never has one actor occupied the whole plot as The Governor’s story did this Sunday. And boy, did he more than carry the weight of an entire episode atop his slant shoulders.

Live Bait” did such a great job of showcasing The Governor and filling in the gaps of his absence while creating new twisted connections to his new clan that a strong argument could be made that the zombie-killing cyclops is deserving of his own series. While rumors have recently swirled that the alleged 2015 Walking Dead spin-off would be more of a prequel examining a new group of people dealing with the initial outbreak, Sunday’s Governor-centric tale provided strong evidence that maybe instead it should focus on the former leader of Woodbury.

The Walking Dead featuring The Governor this week not only gave us a face-full of eye-patch, but also managed to completely recalibrate the motivation of the character. Previously being seen as the embodiment of deranged evil, what with keeping infected family locked up, using zombie cock-fighting as entertainment, and ruling with an authoritarian iron fist, “Live Bait” put evil into relativity as we were exposed to a tender-hearted, lonely man – resembling less the brooding dictator of Woodbury and more a silent anti-hero brimming with rage – that we begin to root for more than hope against by episode’s end. Not to mention giving The Walking Dead a needed shot in the arm both creatively and aesthetically, as the cold prison setting is becoming rather stale, giving The Governor the spotlight helped to reinvigorate interest in the series but also may have turned him from hated villain to misunderstood but endearing loner in the eyes of the audience.

To start out, the ol’ Governor is abandoned by the remnants of his Woodbury crew. The episode also went a long way to re-conceptualize this character and his ideals at the same time introducing a new family for The Governor to protect. While first frightening them with his quick-acting by killing their recently-deceased and newly-zombified father as the family mourned him, the clan eventually come to see The Governor – or “Brian” – as their guardian, especially after rescuing young Megan by fending off a small horde of walkers in a pit that almost became their final resting places. Brian also seems destined to connect with Tara, the fiery woman of this all-girl group, herself a former law officer of Atlanta. Tara’s former law enforcement career makes one wonder if she has any connection to Rick, the sheriff of the fictitious King County of Georgia. And if so, does their mutual “keeping of the peace” end when The Governor shows his ocular-challenged mug? And what about Carol? Will she show up in Brian’s backwoods quest, or be recruited somehow? The addition of The Governor back into the plot combined with surrounding him with an innocuous family, and throw in potential conflict with a rogue Carol or between former allies, and this season of The Walking Dead just got much more interesting.

Just as The Governor melted away memories of his past by burning an old photo of his family, “Live Bait” went far in the way of reestablishing just who Brian is and what he’s fighting for. But letting the photograph burn all but for the image of his deceased blonde daughter lets us know three things. One, he still longs for her and carries the same belief-system that kept her at leash-length while infected. Two, he still carries the grudge and holds those same responsible for her death. And three, he obviously sees in Megan his own daughter, which sets up all sorts of Byronic ramifications for our newly reacquainted anti-hero.

When The Governor reunites with Rick and the gang, it will be interesting to see who attacks who, and whose side we will be rooting for? But until the inevitable confrontation, perhaps the best way to build up The Governor as the most epic villain to confront Grimes and co. would be to give him his own series, where both would build and cross-over for maximum effect.

And then there was that thrilling conclusion of “Live Bait”, that saw The Governor save young Megan, only to look up and see his former Woodbury gang have just uncovered his new whereabouts.

What did you think? Is The Governor strong enough to support a spin-off? Is the Woodbury gang going to let Brian walk away?

Man of Steel on Blu-Ray Review

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I just watched Man of Steel on Blu-Ray, and it was quite an enthralling experience. As opposed to viewing it in the theatre, watching this movie with the aid of a remote control benefitted in revealing further detail in some of the film’s engrossing action scenes. Particularly the Smallville battle, with the two-on-one attacks by Faora and Nam-Ek on Superman and military attacks, was a feast for the eyes to re-witness in the comfort of your own home.

Hans Zimmer‘s thunderous soundtrack was also a great addition to the film. While not quite as whimsical as John Williams‘ classic theme, it has a score that inspires hope (Superman’s theme) and gushes with sentimentality (those simple echoing piano chords) and pours on the evil with the thumping General Zod accompaniment.

The Special Features on the main disc are welcomed and provide great insight into the history of the characters, the legacy of the doomed Planet Krypton, as well as the rigorous training and in-camera stunts the actors performed. I certainly gained a new appreciation for the visuals of the film after the viewing the “All Out Action” portion of the Blu-Ray extra, and the seamless real-effect-to-digital optics the team captured to create a superbly realistic film out of something so fantastical as a man flying.

Overall, as I thoroughly enjoyed the film in the theatre, the movie really becomes more appreciated when able to be viewed on one’s own terms as well as getting better with each subsequent viewing. There’s a lot going on here. Much subtlety exists on Krypton and plenty of Easter eggs amount for the keenly astute fanboy for many meanings and messages to be derived from Man of Steel.

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War with Syria?

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Do you hear the beating of the drums of war?

On August 21, 2013, an alleged chemical weapons attack left scores of innocent Syrian civilians dead with no visible wounds.

The video footage of the aftermath of this attack swept the media, leading many in the west to suggest they should intervene militarily.

But, let’s wait a second.

Have we learned nothing from the Iraq War? Where, ten years ago the U.S. public was fed misleading tales of WMD’s and terror links by its own government to bulk up support to invade the sovereign nation of Iraq. All of those reasons given now proven false, the American public should be wary of expanding our military might into a conflict that is far from simply being black and white.

The government of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad has outlasted protests that have turned violent and devolved into a civil war. While the Free Syrian Army, and other associated rebel groups, have received tacit support from U.S. war-lovers Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, the rebels have also been linked to groups affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Just which side does the U.S. and the west throw their support behind, if anyone? Supporting Assad would mean flushing democratic ideals and human rights down the toilet – not to mention President Obama going back on his “red line” of chemical weapons use being a reason to intervene – and aligning with the rebels could make for strange bedfellows as the U.S. is waging a “war on terror” on associated Islamic fighting groups.

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Who launched these Aug. 21 chemical attacks? Newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani comtemplated it was actually committed by the rebels, which runs counter to Obama’s “proof” that these attacks were perpetrated by the Syrian government.

While Iran and the U.S. continue to bang the war drum, Britain seems to have learned their lesson from Iraq, as the U.K. Parliament is demanding Prime Minister David Cameron await the results of a United Nations inspection into the Syrian attack, refusing to write Cameron his “blank check” he desired to interfere in this civil war.

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Far from black and white, these shades of grey flickering with memories of lives lost and broken in Iraq remain fresh in too many people’s minds and hearts than to jump into another choppy pool of Middle East conflict, guns blazing with our eyes closed.

What Antoinette Tuff Can Teach Us About Mental Health

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Like much of America, I was captivated in hearing the 911 call emanating from Decatur, Georgia, placed by a school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff to police dispatch as she talked down a potential catastrophic mass shooting at the elementary school she worked at. The armed intruder, Michael Hill, who apparently suffers from mental illness, was negotiated down from committing a murderous tragedy by a front office worker, armed with no hostage skills or police background, using only herself as a proverbial shield connecting with Hill on a human level and used her own personal story to coax the twenty-year old man out of opening fire on any victims.

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This was a deeply touching act of bravery at a very tenuous time, the courageousness Tuff showed while presumably at gunpoint, maintaining her calm and keeping her composure and thus cooling the heated situation, resulted in an almost miraculous outcome despite Hill‘s five-hundred rounds of ammo. Equipped with no less than her heart, Tuff soothed the agitated gunman and related her experiences in mental health, laying bare her own attempted suicide and son’s dealings with issues, in order to familiarize Hill with her and defuse an otherwise likely climactically fatal scenario.

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Tuff‘s heroic display cannot help but give society great examples as to how we can all confront our own unexpected obstacles and alter our common misperceptions of mental health. Lending a delicate touch to those afflicted with the disease of mental illness, treating those with tenderness and care (“I’m proud of you”), Tuff can teach us all lessons in how we can collectively confront the unfortunate victims of mental illness, with love and kindness as opposed to punishment and ostracism.

In facing down the ominous, dark barrel of a gun, assured death, Antoinette Tuff did not blink. Instead she glanced up at the gunman himself, in what could have been – and most certainly felt like – the final moments of her life, the fearful Tuff stood firm but rather than extending a fist or rousing anger at her would-be assassin, she extends a hand and grants peace upon the afflicted Hill, assuring him he will be alright and he didn’t hurt anyone.

She cared, Tuff proclaimed to Hill. In doing so, she therefore deescalated a violent shootout and spared countless lives.

When we face our greatest challenges, instead of rushing to judgment and clenching our meaty paws, before we blame another victim or remain complacent, Antoinette Tuff proved maybe the best way to rise to the occasion is to proceed with grace and openness, that connecting and finding common ground brings us closer than coercion drives up apart, and we can catch more flies with honey than we could ever dream using vinegar.

Could Student Loan Rate Hike Be The Spark to U.S. “Arab Spring” this Summer?

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With the United States Congress‘ failure to reach a deal to prevent subsidized student loan interest rates from doubling from 3.4% to 6.8%, I’ve heard this would cost the average borrower an additional grand over the average per the life of a typical loan.

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In 2010-2011, worldwide protests dubbed the “Arab Spring” swept the globe and ousted longtime rulers of Egypt and Tunisia, but this spring-fever would soon thaw when regimes in countries like Syria or Bahrain still go un-toppled and their people’s voices remain stifled and unheard.

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While the U.S. has seen a flare for protest, namely in the early-oughts with anti-war protests against the Iraq War, and the more contemporary examples of domestic mass-gathering has lacked a singular cohesive narrative or theme, whether the narrow-focused libertarian Tea Party or the more decentralized redistributive Occupy movement, Americans have not taken to the streets in equal number to match the teeming crowds of Tahrir Square in Cairo or in the streets of Rio De Janeiro over government spending on luxury stadiums. One could ask, why? Are Americans in the U.S. simply so content and satisfied that protest is not considered? Or are tactics and strategy in place to intimidate and suppress any attempt at gathering en masse?

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Certainly points have been made between provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, NDAA, that look to curtail any form of protest in public space, and trading liberty for a so-called security. Or the parallels could also be drawn between the government response and the put down of protest in recent memory in Seattle in 1999 at the infamous WTO meetings, as well as the more recent police and FBI crackdowns on Occupy-related gatherings in New York City, California, and Chicago that give pause and second thought to peacefully assemble. Or even the most recent revelations of IRS intimidation over political identification. All of this, combined with the recent Edward Snowden leak regarding the NSA data mining on all American telecom and Internet activity, create an atmosphere for the people of the United States far heavier in its weariness to whistleblow or take to the street to protest a point.

What then, could cause the people to finally shake off this contentedness and demand a change? Will the Tea Party re-emerge and become a more formidable political force? Will Occupy retake the national dialogue over economic equality as worker’s wages continue to stagnant and depress as CEO’s take-home balloons? Will the current U.S. Congress‘ basic ineptitude be the triggering mechanism that finally causes the fault line to erupt to see an American Summer akin to an Arab Spring of people demanding acknowledgment and true representation not beholden to the highest bidder? While subsidized college loan interest rates doubling to a level still drooled over by a great many in finance may seem trivial, the question that underlies the rate hike is could this be the straw that breaks a complacent camel’s back and floods the streets with people seeking change in the U.S.? Or are contingencies already in place to suppress any attempt at this?

With the news that Brazil‘s massive protest over this summer has led to their demands being heard, as the Brazilian government has agreed to invest 100% of oil revenue into education and healthcare, could this be a reflective point for U.S. workers and students to see themselves and ask: Why not us?

DOMA Unconstitutional

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Today, June 26, 2013 is a landmark day for marriage equality, as the Supreme Court has ruled the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which stated that only opposite-sex marriages could be federally recognized, is unconstitutional.

The three main arguments that pro-marriage equality advocates would point to prior to today’s Supreme Court ruling to showcase the inequality of DOMA were: (1) portability of marriages only recognized in one state but not another, (2) the “second-tier status” this held gay couples at by not granting them equal rights under the law, and (3) the denial of the thousand-plus federal rights and tax benefits opposite-sex couples could enjoy.

So, where does today’s ruling leave us?

What this means is that in the 13 states (thanks to today’s Prop 8 decision, California can be added) that currently grant marriage equality to same-sex couples will be held in the same manner as opposite-sex marriages in the eyes of the federal government. It does not, however, mandate that states which currently do not grant equal protection and recognition to gay couples do so nor does it force any penalty upon them for not.

Has portability been nullified in the federal sense by acknowledging the dozen states that currently recognize same-sex marriage the same as their straight counterparts? Today’s decision does not make other states recognize same-sex marriages in their states. So, portability is still an issue in the 38 states that do not grant same-sex marriage equality currently.

The “second-tier status” is no longer a federal issue…in the dozen states that do legalize gay marriage, but remains a problem in states that do not. It may however be the first step in the process that does.

The federal tax filing denial should no longer remain an issue, as today’s ruling stated that this only grants federal benefits to states that now and will later recognize gay marriages in their state borders.

While today’s Court ruling remains monumental, there remains work to be done. It is another step in progress, along with the President himself “coming out” in favor of marriage equality and the repeal of another antiquated Clinton-era social relic, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, it is a great bound that may propel equality further and faster having done it. Portability and second-class citizen recognition remain marriage equality issues despite today’s verdict.

However, yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling striking down important sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a key component of the civil rights struggle, must also be acknowledged for the potential discrimination this has already begun, with Texas immediately throwing together a Voter I.D. Law, and could reveal, in addition to the many who died innocently and in protest for that this sullies.

Many are reminded today of the famous quote spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”.

While today’s DOMA decision brings us a step forward in progress, we must also be wary of the VRA repeals and their like that stumble us two steps back.