I really need to cut back on my comics. Lately I’ve been scooping up series after series that have been recommended to me by the one guy at my shop, and it’s starting to get a little out of hand. There’s so much good stuff out there, though! From the feel-good roller derby shenanigans of Slam to the artsy and weird world of The Electric Sublime, comics continue to do cool things.
This recommendation spree began with an indie series called Dept. H, which was recommended to me based on my interest in unique art styles like Christian Ward’s in ODY-C. I wasn’t actually in the market for new books at the time—comics cost money—but the premise and art style were so intriguing that I decided to give it a look anyway. And now, at the risk of making some kind of terrible ocean/fish-based pun, I’m hooked.
I adore Welcome to Night Vale and love Alice Isn’t Dead, and… well, I was really disinterested in the first episode of Within the Wires, and never listened past that. However, the moment I heard the name of Night Vale Presents‘s latest podcast, The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air, I was intrigued. So one day on my way to work I downloaded the podcast and proceeded to give it a listen. While itis as wondrous, strange, and enchanting as many of the Night Vale Presents podcasts are, I felt like it was really lacking comparatively. The biggest issue was sadly something that Night Vale Presents has otherwise really been knownfor—diversity.
Spoilers for The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air after the jump.
A while back I reviewed a trailer for a little movie called Moana. I was worried about the lack of early advertising the movie was getting—I hoped that the hype among my own age group and demographic would translate to ticket sales, so that Disney couldn’t use a less-than-successful premiere to justify avoiding nonwhite Princess stories for another decade.
Turns out I needn’t have worried—Moana opened this weekend to a phenomenal box office take, only barely failing to unseat Frozen as the #1 Thanksgiving animated film opening of all time, and I’m honestly pinching pennies in the hope of seeing it again soon. To me, it was a sweet, empowering, and well-made movie; however, some native Polynesian critics felt that it played too fast and loose with their culture. Let’s get into it after the jump!
It’s a strange and wonderful thing to be diving back into the world of Harry Potter, a franchise that so many people around my age literally grew up with. There was certainly a lot of pressure on the new film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to transport us back to a world we all knew and loved, and I’m happy to say that while it certainly differed a lot from the series of films starring Harry and the gang, it was generally delightful. It made a lot of good storytelling choices, introduced a lot of great characters, and really invoked a sense of wonder, which is what every Harry Potter story ought to do. There were a few small hiccups in execution: specifically, some elements of the magical world seemed incongruous with the rest of the stories. Even with that considered, however, nothing significantly detracted from the overall experience, and I came out of the theater excited to learn more about Newt, Tina, and the American wizarding community.
There is a point early on in any promising relationship when your significant other gives you a gift that lets you know they really get you. In the case of my current relationship, that gift was the Volume 1 trade paperback of a comic series called Manifest Destiny. I’m a sucker for anything that falls under the weirdly specific category of “fantasy organic science”: stuff that delves into plausible-sounding pseudo-scientific minutiae as it pertains to biology that doesn’t actually exist. I’m pestered by questions like “If contact with iron burns faeries, what’s the oxidizing agent in faerie blood?” and “If drow live underground they must be obligate carnivores, so how can they digest vegetables?” Manifest Destiny is not only great fuel for my fantasy biology obsession, it’s an original, beautifully-illustrated and creatively written piece of historical fiction. The story follows Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their famous exploratory journey across the Louisiana Purchase, except in this version, mapping and documentation are just a cover for what they’re really doing: clearing the new territory of strange and terrible beasties to make it safe for human habitation.
While the concept and aesthetics are a delight, the writing does fail in some more-or-less predictably disappointing sexist and racist ways, which is especially frustrating since the series came out in 2014. Sacajawea, in spite of being well known and almost mythologized in popular culture, is woefully underdeveloped and more than a little caricatured. Although historically Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery encountered and had good rapport with many Native American communities, (establishing trade was, in fact, part of the mission) Sacajawea is the only Native American to appear in the first six issues of Manifest Destiny, and although she becomes directly involved in the narrative in issue three, she doesn’t even speak until issue six. It’s an irritating distraction from a series that has a lot going for it creatively.
Season 2 of Lucifer is here and I’m so excited! I love this trash show. Despite many problematic issues and some stereotyped writing, this show is remarkably entertaining and Season 2 looks set up to be better than the last one. I’m actually surprised by how much I enjoyed the latest episode and by how excited I am for the rest of the season. I was also pleased to find that certain issues with the show have been fixed and that the overall plot for Season 2involving Lucifer’s mother actually seems like it might be really interesting.
If you were to take the year 1987 and simmer it down into a thick gelatinous paste, then leave it undisturbed in a warm, moist environment for eighteen months, you could look at the resulting slurry under a microscope and what you would see is the Masters of the Universe movie unfolding before your eyes. This film is the most ingenious parody of an 80’s film ever executed, or it would have been if it had been intended as a parody. The story and characters are based on a series of loosely connected generic action figures designed in-house in 1981 by the Mattel toy company so they wouldn’t have to pay licensing fees to make actual franchise toys. It stars Dolph Lundgren (who at the time was not fluent in English) as a virtually naked barbarian creatively named He-Man, one of the few fantasy genre characters stuck awkwardly into an otherwise vaguely Power Rangers-esque science fiction movie. Part of the movie takes place in an alternate fantasy/sci-fi mashup dimension and the other part is trying really hard to be an aggressively typical 80’s high school angsty love story. The result is an absolute mess of the most quality entertainment you can imagine, if you’ve got some booze and an hour and forty-five minutes that you never want back.
This art definitely makes me take this movie more seriously.