Castlevania on Netflix: I’m sold!

 

Sense8
Sense8 soundtrack cover.

Netflix is really doing a good job wooing in new viewers like myself. Sense8 Season 1 (which I still have to finish) has been great, and I have a Christmas episode and Season 2 to look forward to. Captivating characters. An interesting premise. International locations. And a diverse cast.  Good, solid show.

The Defenders
Promotional image of the Netflix/Marvel original series, Defenders, which debuts later this year. Image contains shots of Mike Colter, Charlie Cox, Kristin Ritter, and Finn Jones as Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and the Culturally Appropriated Iron White Savior Fist.

Then there are the Netflix/Marvel joint original series. Hoo-boy, Daredevil was AMAZEBALLS, and set a standard for the other Netflix/Marvel shows to meet. Jessica Jones, though a completely different tone, and vastly more difficult subject matter, actually surpassed Daredevil’s first season in quality (and Kristin Ritter just works magically as JJ).  Daredevil Season 2 was not as tightly focused as the first, but benefited from the introduction of the Punisher (who’s getting his own series in a few years). I’ve not finished Luke Cage yet, but what I’ve seen has been great. Colter plays him so close to the vest, and I like that. He’s not a stereotypical black character on tv and we desperately need greater diversity in the roles black men play in our entertainment.  I’ve not mustered the wherewithal to watch Captain Cultural Appropriation by way of the White Savior Trope aka Iron Fist, and I’m not completely sure I ever will (they should have cast an Asian actor in the title role, and there are ways to work with the character’s history to avoid the numerous tropes of Asian characters in film and tv). Despite my ambivalence towards Iron Fist, I plan on watching Defenders.

But Netflix hasn’t stopped there. They’re giving me something else to watch and just from the teaser it looks AMAZEBALLS.  With a drop date of July 7, the dark medieval animated series Castlevania (based on the old video game, and written and executive produced by Warren ‘The Authority’ Ellis) has my mouth watering. Take a gander at the teaser:

Continue reading “Castlevania on Netflix: I’m sold!”

Castlevania on Netflix: I’m sold!
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Confronting the racial stereotypes of Cloak & Dagger (plus the trailer)

Tandy Bowen (Dagger) and Tyrone Johnson (Cloak) in a piece by (I think) Jae Lee)

Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson were teen runaways who–individually–left their hometowns for the streets of New York. Encountering one another by chance, Bowen’s purse was stolen by a thief, and was recovered by Johnson. Bonding over this encounter, the two were captured soon after their arrival and subjected to your typical scientific experiment carried out by a morally deficient scientist. The experiment granted the pair “light” and “dark” powers, which I’ll get into in a minute. For much of their young career, the pair specifically fought drug dealers and worked to ensure the safety of other teen runaways.

Now, about those powers…

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Confronting the racial stereotypes of Cloak & Dagger (plus the trailer)

We have a release date for the Defenders!

Cringeworthy. Boring. Unfaithful. Ho-hum.

Those are the words that spring to mind when I think of the television adaptations of comic book properties that existed when I was growing up. Not the cartoons mind you, but the live-action shows. I know these tv shows and made for tv movies have their fans.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, one of them. As a kid, I tolerated television movies like The Amazing Spider-Man in which the title character engaged in some truly yawn inducing adventures. Or the Bill Bixby starring Incredible Hulk, who bore little resemblance in appearance or power (seriously, he struggled to lift telephone poles) to his comic book counterpart. Plus, he didn’t leap. he jogged at a brisk pace (I think I’ve seen mall joggers move faster than he did). And while shows like Superboy were more faithful to the source material and featured a character that I recognized, there was still a cringe-factor. Perhaps it was the cheesiness or the fact that many of the villains were mundane rather than spectacular, but watching such shows often left me wanting more.  More adventure. More excitement. More fun. Faithful adaptations. And there was something else I wanted from these shows. Something that I considered fundamental to comic books, and that was missing from the other tv adaptations: I wanted a shared universe. I wanted to see supporting characters interacting with one another. I wanted to see characters from show reference events in another show. And of course I wanted to see superheroes teaming up.

If 16 yo. me had a time machine, and used it to peer into the twentyteens, he’d be shell shocked. To see the fastest man alive zooming across the screen at Mach speeds would be exciting to him. Watching the last daughter of Krypton make a name for herself both as a reporter and a superhero would be thrilling. And I just know he’d have gotten goosebumps upon learning that the streaming service Netflix has teamed up with Marvel and given him exactly what he wanted.

Action.

Adventure.

Excitement.

Fun.

A shared universe.

Oh, and superheroes teaming up on the small screen.

Now, 16 yo me would probably be at school on August 18, 2017, anxiously anticipating the end of the school day. But me? I’ll be planted in front of a television watching the debut of the Defenders.  Check out the teaser.

We have a release date for the Defenders!

Celebrities say awful things: Nicole Kidman

Celebrities are people who have political views and there is nothing wrong with them sharing those opinions.

Some pretty novel ideas in there (three, I believe), no?

To some folks, yes.

Unlike those people, however, I do not subscribe to the notion that celebrities ought to stick to entertaining us and remain silent on politics. While the lives of celebrities are quite a bit removed from those of the average citizen, at the end of the day, they are still citizens of the US. Whether to critique or support the opinions of others or rally people behind or in opposition to a politician or a piece of legislation, civilians have the right to speak their mind. Celebrities do as well. Being a world famous movie star, a television or social media sensation, or an icon of the music industry does not remove the right of these people to share their opinions with the world.

That said, just as celebrities share with civilians the right to share their opinions, like civilians, they also ought to be prepared for criticism of those opinions. Their right to speak their mind does not insulate them from criticism when they say shitty things. And celebrities often say Very Shitty Things. Azaelia Banks has said many shitty things.  Ted Nugent has built a second career out of saying shitty things. Mel Gibson famously opened his mouth back in 2006 and out poured shitty anti-Semitic things.

Nicole Kidman can now add her name to the list of celebrities who have said shitty things:

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Celebrities say awful things: Nicole Kidman

Time for bed. Wait! What’s that about a new CW superhero show?!

Image of the CW’s four superhero shows represented by Brandon Routh as the Atom, Grant Gustin as the Flash, Stephen Amell as Green Arrow, and Melissa Benoist as Supergirl.

So there I am. Laying in bed after a 10 hour day at work. Most of that time having been spent on my feet, bc as a server and bartender, I don’t get much in the way of sit down time at work. Thus, when I got home, the tired kinda hit me all at once (the mildly achy feet did too, which reminds me–I need gel insoles). I decided ‘what the heck’, it may be 9:30 at night, but I can go to bed when I’m tired bc I’m an adult and I can do whatever I want to (except launch all white supremacists, MRAs, and TERFs into the sun ). So I crawled into bed, got snug and comfy under the sheets, and grabbed my phone to check news before I fell asleep. After three or four stories, I could feel my body screaming “go to sleep little gay boy”. Juuuuuuuust as I was about to lay my phone down and rest my little gay head, I was forcibly–though pleasantly–wrenched out of my exhaustive state. What could possibly have caused such a 180° change?

The CW has picked up a pilot order for Greg Berlanti’s Black Lightning!

Continue reading “Time for bed. Wait! What’s that about a new CW superhero show?!”

Time for bed. Wait! What’s that about a new CW superhero show?!

DC Comics aims for more diversity

Mainstream comic books in the U.S. have long featured a sea of white, male faces. From the beginning of the industry back in the Golden Age, through the Silver Age, and into the Bronze and Modern Ages, there has been a lack of diversity in superhero comics. Characters like Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Flash, Spider-Man, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil, and so many more mainstays of Marvel and DC have been white guys. Now, that wouldn’t be such a problem if they didn’t dominate the comic racks. But they have. For the better part of the 20th Century and even into the 21st. It hasn’t been until recent years-the last 5 or 6 by my estimate-that Marvel and DC have made a concerted effort to diversify their output. With pressure mounting from readers, both companies have taken steps to produce content that doesn’t appeal to the same old, same old crowd. Which makes sense, bc GBLT people, women, and PoC read comics too. And in significant numbers. This can be seen by dropping in on any of the numerous comic book conventions around the country. The people showing up aren’t just white men, and they want to see themselves reflected in the comics they read. The pressure exerted on the companies by female readers has led to an  explosion of titles featuring women in starring roles. Where 30 years ago, Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, and Supergirl were pretty much the only women starring in their own titles, the last few years have seen Starfire, Harley Quinn, Black Canary, Batgirl, the new female Thor, Storm, Squirrel Girl, Elektra, Black Widow, She-Hulk, and Captain Marvel (among others) receive their own books. But the request for greater diversity from the Big Two is not limited to fans asking for more books with female leads. Many readers (myself included) want more books headlined by People of Color.

If I’m not mistaken, Marvel leads DC on that front, as the last several years has seen the New York-based publisher produce titles like Ms. Marvel, Black Panther, Captain America (Sam Wilson), Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Nova, Red Wolf, Spider-Man 2099, and Devil Dinosaur & Moon Girl. Meanwhile, over at DC, the company’s only books in recent years with a Person of Color in the starring role are Dr. Fate and Cyborg. The powers that be at DC cannot be ignorant of the demand for more racially diverse titles. In fact, this awareness is probably a significant reason why the company will soon be adding a new title to it’s publishing schedule, New Super-Man. The title will see a Chinese teenager acquiring some of Superman’s powers:

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DC Comics aims for more diversity

The Speed Force Awakens

This is a cute mashup of Star Wars and the Flash. It was created by a YouTube user and was heavily inspired by the trailer for The Force Awakens. I have to admit, it’s got some emotional weight to it. Impressive work, IMO.

 

 

The Speed Force Awakens

Has it really been 19 years?

Time to get a little weepy eyed y’all. One of the best television shows I’ve ever watched has its 19th anniversary today. On March 10, 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted. Now, I didn’t start watching the show until the sixth season. If I recall correctly, the first I saw of the show was part two of the Season 3 finale (I remember watching the Mayor transform into a giant snake and start eating students). Years later, I happened to watch the final episode of Season 5, ‘The Gift’, where the Slayer sacrifices her life to save her sister Dawn and the entire world (the second time she died). I didn’t have any real attachment to the show at that point, but when I discovered FX was running repeats, I started watching it from some point in Season 1. Despite the uneven quality, the cheesiness, the ‘making shit up on the fly’ nature of the show, and other issues, I found myself liking it. By the second season I found I really liked it. By the time ‘Becoming Part 2’ was over, I was in tears and loving the show (in part bc Sarah McLachlan’s song was perfect for that ending). Sarah Michelle Gellar took to Instagram with some touching words about the show:

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Has it really been 19 years?

An unlikely matchup: The Ring vs The Grudge

Horror/monster movie mashups between two properties has been a well Hollywood has occasionally dipped in over the years. Films such as King Kong vs Godzilla, Aliens vs Predator, and Freddy vs Jason featured battles between fan-favorite characters, though none of them were particularly good movies. I enjoyed King Kong vs Godzilla as a kid, but aside from the original Godzilla, most of the Big G’s films haven’t held up well over the years; the other two weren’t all that great either. Here’s hoping the upcoming film, Sadako vs. Kayako, will provide quality entertainment and serious frights. What began as an April Fools Joke last year quickly graduated to an actual, planned film.

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An unlikely matchup: The Ring vs The Grudge

Are you interested in an African-influenced space opera?

From its very beginnings, the USAmerican comic book industry has been dominated by white characters. Whether we’re talking genres like crime, romance, horror, or science fiction, the industry has demonstrated a very clear bias in favor of white people (specifically white, heterosexual, cisgender men, but my focus here is on race). This holds true for my genre of choice: superheroes. For most of the history of superhero comics, white people have been headliners. From the Golden Age to the Silver Age, through the Bronze Age and into the Copper Age, the overwhelming majority of characters with their own comics have been white people. Even when writers began featuring characters of color in their stories (think of heroes like the Black Panther, the Falcon, Shang-Chi, Sunfire, Red Wolf, Karma, Danielle Moonstar, Storm, Tyroc, Dawnstar, Invisible Kid II, Vixen, Vibe, Black Lightning), these characters were typically members of teams, or background supporting characters. Rarely did they carry books of their own. It was almost always white people who had their own comics.

Even as we entered the Modern Age of comics, there have still been relatively few comic books featuring People of Color as the main characters, at least not at Marvel and DC. That’s not to say there have been none. Milestone Comics was a DC imprint in the 90s which featured primarily African-American leads in all their titles (Milestone 2.0 is on the way in the not-to-distant future too). And in the last few decades, a handful of characters of color have held their own titles at Marvel and DC-some for a short time, others for several years (Steel, Black Panther, Storm, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Ms. Marvel and others). But even today, the industry is still dominated by white characters.

The lack of People of Color starring as the lead in their own books falls on the shoulders of creators and publishers to a large degree (some of it is certainly the market to some degree). The people making comic books and producing comic books have predominately been white. So of course, they’re going to write and publish what they know. As a result, we’ve had a plethora of white characters. It’s not necessarily a deliberate thing. I don’t believe writers for DC or Marvel down through the years said “I want to create a new character or a new comic book and I want a white lead character and mostly white supporting cast”. Nor do I think the Editors-in-Chief at Marvel or DC sat down and said “We need to publish another book with a white character as the lead”. But the bias in favor of white people that exists all throughout our society manifests in all its corners. And “white” has long been considered the default in our culture. It’s the automatic assumptions laden in society (which can be seen when you realize that white people are often described as “that guy” or “that woman”, but People of Color are often described as “that black woman” or “that Hispanic guy”). It’s the standards of beauty that use white folks as the default. And yes, it’s the default to white characters on the part of creators and publishers of comic books when new titles and characters are created.

While the Big Two publishers have made strides to diversify their staff  in the last few years, their ethnic diversity initiatives have a long way to go before they reach anything at all representative of the wider USAmerican population. Similarly, while their publishing lines have expanded to appeal to ethnic demographics outside of white folks, they have a loooooooong way to go before they’re putting out enough product to satisfy the appetites of People of Color looking for greater diversity in the Big Two. For those people looking for books featuring People of Color in starring roles, or those looking to support creators of color, or both, it may be necessary to explore beyond Marvel and DC. Beyond superheroes. And beyond print comics for that matter. One example of a book featuring an ethnically diverse cast by a Person of Color recently came to my attention. New Jersey-based artist Paul Louise-Julie has worked to craft something visually stunning in his creation, Yohancé.

Continue reading “Are you interested in an African-influenced space opera?”

Are you interested in an African-influenced space opera?