As the series continues to hop from character to character, Episode 8 spends some time with Ed (DJ Qualls) and Childan (Brennan Brown), whose projects seem insignificant compared to the plots that Frank (Rupert Evans) and Juliana (Alexa Davalos) are wrapped up in. Though at times a bit oafish, Ed and Childan serve as reminders of the good, innocent people who could die if the Nazis destroy the city. Childan may be the most likeable character on the show; he certainly has the most personality as a cultured, charming businessman who overextends his attempts at social couth. At the same time, Ed and Childan are pretty useless as fighters, so once the showdown begins, hopefully, they will not be involved.
Ever since the magnificent and insane God Hates Astronauts, I have been a fan of writer/artist Ryan Browne. The absolute craziness of the series struck a chord with my sensibilities, and when I first heard about Curse Words, Browne's new project with superstar writer Charles Soule, I was pretty thrilled. Browne's ability to create ridiculous and bizarre worlds along with Soule's storytelling abilities was a match made in heaven, and this new Image series doesn't hold back.
Episode 7 is a visual masterpiece. Opening with Frank’s (Rupert Evans) nightmare, the episode illustrates the desperation one faces in protecting family. This applies to both Frank, whose nightmare recalls his involvement in the deaths of his sister and her children, and Smith (Rufus Sewell), who has chosen to protect his son over allegiance to his party. The dinner table gassing of Frank’s nightmare uses an overhead perspective as if the audience were the gas, suggesting the audience is complicit in such tragedies. Throughout this season, all alternate versions of reality—the content of the film, Frank’s nightmare, Joe’s (Luke Kleintank) drug trip, and Tagomi’s (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) visits alternate America—serve as powerful stimuli for characters. These scenes are also visually dynamic and emotionally charged.
Southern Belle is one of the most terrifyingly sadistic and perfectly unstable characters ever constructed. She, along with the other beloved superheroes of Megalopolis, have been twisted into something else entirely after they succumb to some kind of evil after a battle. The resulting perverse psychosis has never been made more apparent than with Belle’s presence throughout these pages. A dominant glare, a determined expression, tattered clothing, scars, and dark shading around her eyes highlighting her insanity showcase an intimidating force leading the way in this hardcover edition of Surviving Megalopolis.
The fact that Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer has an annual when most Dark Horse comics don’t shows just how fully committed he is to his superhero-driven world which pays homage to Golden Age comics, while turning the idea of what a superhero is later in life on its head. This world is almost analogous to what it’s like for an older ballet dancer or football player. In your prime, you were amazing. As you age, once all of those beatings your body has taken set in, you just don’t work as well. In Black Hammer, for this group of aging superheroes trapped on a strange farm, it’s both physical and psychological scars they have to deal with.
The sixth episode is titled “Kintsugi,” which is a Japanese artistic practice of repairing broken pottery while keeping the cracks visible, which is meant to create visual historicity in the object. While this is potentially a literal reference to the broken teacup that Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) finds in alternate America, it also serves as a metaphor that spans the entire show. Each group—the Nazis, the Japanese, and the Resistance—actually denies the reparation of the broken nation. While each group continues to disrupt the agenda of another, America seems more and more likely to be beyond repair. The groups end up being more destructive rather than restorative, and the potential annihilation of San Francisco that was foreshadowed in the man in the high castle’s film would effectively eradicate much historical evidence of Japanese influence in America.
Long before the time of books, radio, television, and video games, people were telling stories. So many of these stories have been told so many times that they share common elements, but the twist of one fact could change the course and create an entirely new tale. That’s part of the difficulty of trying to bring one of these old tales to light, as people can sometimes lose focus, feeling that they know just where the story is going and may miss the truth that lives within it.
For those who enjoyed the unpredictability and edginess of Stranger Things, Netflix’s new series, The OA - co-created by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij - needs to be next up on their binge-list. The OA raises questions about the world, the afterlife, and the space in between. This 8-episode season incites hope and bridges connections in unexpected places. Each episode traces the story of Prairie (Brit Marling), a young blind woman who has been missing for seven years. When she returns home, now calling herself the OA, her sight has mysteriously been restored. The FBI, her parents, and the local news reporters all want to hear her story, but Prairie finds a group of five misfits to share it with in hopes that they can help her save the lives of others. The show is thrilling but offers hope in dire circumstances, creates community among unlikely individuals, and demonstrates what willpower can achieve. And the story is so compelling that the end of each episode demands starting the next.
Marc Jackson has created a weird, silly, and humorous take on space exploration. Your imagination can’t prepare you for the shenanigans the main character finds himself in. Not only will you wonder where this story is going, you might wonder how a simple run to the local space market, looking for “blue milk,” could go quite so awry.