On The Record

Miscellaneous Lists for Future Reference.

I unfortunately don’t have any time to write these up in full, but wanted to post them all the same, for my own later recollection and for the (what I imagine is very few) people who care about lists sans detailed explanation.

 

FILMS OF 2016 (REDUX)

Got to March of this year before realising how dire my list was, so consider this a do-over –– 16 for ’16 –– in a particular Boxing Day moment, including films that weren’t distributed in the UK until 2017 in addition to ones that I missed in 2016 or didn’t pay the correct amount of attention, that I’ll still probably want to fine-tune after hitting publish.

 

16. A Bigger Splash

15. Cameraperson

14. Hail, Caesar!

13. I Am Not Your Negro

12. The Neon Demon

11. 20th Century Women

10. Certain Women

9. The Love Witch

8. La La Land

7. The Fits

6. Lemonade

5. Jackie

4. Moonlight

3. Toni Erdmann

2. O.J.: Made in America

1. Paterson

 

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TOP 25 TV SHOWS OF 2017

Had a very strong notion of what my top 10 would be since October even if the order was never locked in for certain –– case in point: I held off on placing The Girlfriend Experience until the final pair of episodes aired. #11-25 were more impulsive choices, driven by a [rather long] short-list kept throughout the year and having to finally make a judgement call about whether disappointing seasons of shows such as The Americans S5 and You’re the Worst S4 would even place on an extended list such as this.

 

25. Runaways

24. Master of None

23. Feud: Betty and Joan

22. The Trip

21. Alias Grace

20. Fargo

19. The Tick

18. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

17. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

16. Wormwood

15. Difficult People

14. The Deuce

13. One Day at a Time

12. Insecure

11. The Good Place

10. The Handmaid’s Tale

9. Big Little Lies

8. Legion

7. Top of the Lake: China Girl

6. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

5. Better Things

4. Halt and Catch Fire

3. The Leftovers

2. The Girlfriend Experience

1. Twin Peaks: The Return

 

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TOP 10 TV EPISODES OF 2017

Capping this at 10 to help avoid certain shows overwhelming the list in addition to ensuring I myself am not overwhelmed by having to create a list of this nature that’s 25 entries long. [read: if this went to 25. I’d have no idea how to place other shows around Twin Peaks parts]

 

10. Saturday Night Live – Kristen Stewart/Alessia Cara

9. Difficult People – Strike Rat

8. The Handmaid’s Tale – Late

7. Better Things – Graduation

6. Legion – Chapter 4

5. The Good Place – Michael’s Gambit

4. The Girlfriend Experience – Relapse

3. Halt and Catch Fire – Who Needs a Guy

2. The Leftovers – The Book of Nora

1. Twin Peak: The Return – Part 8

 

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TOP COMICS OF 2017

5 of each, including an honourable mention, because in some cases a series may: have ended earlier in the year, changed creative teams and saw subsequent decline or have released just a single issue.

 

DC

HM: Wonder Woman – specifically the runs of: Greg Rucka et al + Shea Fontana et al

5. The Flintstones

4. Superwoman

3. Deathstroke

2. Batman

1. Mister Miracle

 

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MARVEL

HM: Scarlet Witch #14 + #15

5. Runaways

4. Jessica Jones

3. Black Bolt

2. Hawkeye

1. Generation X

 

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OTHER

HM: Casanova: Acedia #8 (Image)

5. Kill Them All /Rock Candy Mountain(Oni/Image)

4. Glitterbomb: The Fame Game (Image)

3. 4 Kids Walk into a Bank (Black Mask)

2. Giant Days (Boom)

1. The Wicked + The Divine (Image)

 

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THE CHRIS POWER RANKING

You know this is true.

 

4. Pratt

3. Pine

2. Hemsworth

1. Evans

 

THE ONLY MUSIC THAT MATTERS

something something Poptimism something something

 

3. Haim – Want You Back

2. Carly Rae Jepsen – Cut to the Feeling

1. Lorde – Melodrama

 

(Doesn’t fit with the joke, but you should also check out Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile’s album. One of the most relaxing listening experiences of the year)

 

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See you sometime in 2018, hopefully sooner rather than later, uni-work and Newsarama-commitments willing.

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2017: A Media Diary

Evidence I may require a pop culture intervention

 

Started out as a purely personal experiment to log how much pop culture I got to over the course of the year, decided I would publish it as recorded.

So, without further pre-amble:

 

COMICS

NOTE: In alphabetical order, and divided by publisher, for convenience.

 

Older Comics

Dark Horse: Dept. H Volume 1, The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story

DC: American Alien, Batgirl of Burnside Volumes 1+2, Batgirl: Stephanie Brown Volume 1, Batman: Year One, Dark Night: A True Batman Story, Gotham Academy + Second Semester Volume 1, Grayson, Johns’ Justice League Volume 6, Morrison’s Batman, New Suicide Squad Volume 4, Ostrander’s Suicide Squad Volumes 2-6, Prez: Corndog-in-Chief, Rucka’s Wonder Woman Volume 1+2, Snyder’s Batman Volume 7, Starman Omnibii 5+6, Superman: Secret Identity, The Legend of Wonder Woman

Image: Black Magick Volume 1, Casanova: Luxuria, Gula, Avaritia & Acedia, East of West Year Two and #30, Prince of Cats, Sexcastle, The Other Side

Marvel: Alias, Avengers: Rage of Ultron, Avengers: Vision and the Scarlet Witch, Cain’s Mockingbird, Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men until #139, Edmondson’s Black Widow, Infinity Gauntlet, Iron Man: Extremis, Remender’s Uncanny Avengers, Robinson’s Scarlet Witch, Silver Surfer: Requiem, Spurrier’s X-Men Legacy, Stephenson’s Runaways, Vaughn’s Runaways

Oni: Heartthrob Season One, Sixth Gun Deluxes 2+3, The Coldest City, The Coldest Winter

Vertigo: Morrison’s Doom Patrol, Scalped Volumes 4-5

 

2017 Comics

NOTE: Always a chance I forgot to log something. Any curious omissions – feel free to ask.

 

Action Lab: Spencer & Locke

Archie: Riverdale (first two issues)

Black Mask: 4 Kids Walk into a Bank, Beautiful Canvas, Calexit, Last Song, There’s Nothing There

Boom Studios: Eugenic (first issue), Fence (first issue), Giant Days, Godshaper, Grass Kings (first arc), Hi-Fi Fight Club, Jane, Judas, Klaus and the Crisis in Xmasville, Mech Cadet Yu, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers + Pink, Namesake, Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern, War for the Planet of the Apes

Dark Horse: Ether, Mr Higgins Comes Home, Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse

DC: Batman, Batman: Creature of the Night, Batman/Elmer Fudd, Batman/The Shadow, Batwoman, Booster Gold/The Flintstones, Black Racer Special, Bug, Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye, Darkseid Special, Dark Days: The Forge + The Casting, Dark Knights: Metal (+ one-shots & tie-ins), Detective Comics, Deathstroke, Doomsday Clock, Doom Patrol, Flash (for The Button), Holiday Special, Kamandi Challenge (first four issues), Justice League (Fontana’s issue, Priest’s run) Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, JLA (until issue seven) + Assorted One-Shots, Manhunter Special, Mister Miracle, Mother Panic, Mystik U, New Gods Special, New Super-Man, New Talent Showcase, Nightwing, Nightwing: The New Order, Shade the Changing Girl, Supergirl, Supergirl: Being Super, Superman (+Action Comics for Reborn + The Oz Effect), Superwoman, Super Sons, Teen Titans, The Flintstones, The Hellblazer (from start of Seeley’s run) The Wild Storm, Titans, Trinity, Wonder Woman

Image: Afar, Angelic (first issue) Black Cloud, Black Magick, Black Monday Murders, Casanova: Acedia, Crosswind, Curse Words (first arc), East of West, Generation Gone, Glitterbomb: The Fame Game, God Country, Gravediggers Union (first issue), Green Valley, Kill or be Killed, Loose Ends, Moonstone (first issue), Motor Crush, Paper Girls (until issue fifteen), Reborn, Redlands, Rock Candy Mountain, Royal City (first arc), Savage Town, Seven to Infinity (until issue eight) Solid State, Southern Bastards, The Dying and the Dead, The Few (first two issues), The Gravediggers Union (first issue), The Old Guard, The Wicked + The Divine, Violent Love, Winnebago Graveyard

Marvel: All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, All-New Wolverine, America, Astonishing X-Men, Avengers (+.1 issues), Black Bolt, Black Panther + World of Wakanda + The Crew, Black Widow, Bullseye, Cable (first three issues of Robinson’s), Captain America, Captain America: Sam Wilson, Captain America: Steve Rogers, Champions (first six issues), Defenders, Doctor Strange, Falcon (first two issues) Gamora, Generations (one-shots), Generation X, Ghost Rider, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iceman, Infamous Iron Man, Inhumans: Once and Future Kings, Inhumans: Prime, Inhumans vs. X-Men, Invincible Iron Man, Iron Fist (first two issues), Jean Grey, Jessica Jones, Karnak, Kingpin, Legacy (one-shot), Luke Cage, Man-Thing (first two issues), Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, Nick Fury, Old Man Logan, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, Phoenix: Resurrection, Power Man and Iron-Fist, Punisher (Rosenberg’s run), Royals, Runaways, Scarlet Witch, Secret Empire, Secret Warriors, Spider-Woman, Star Wars, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, Star Wars: Darth Maul, Star Wars: Darth Vader, The Mighty Captain Marvel, U.S. Avengers, Ultimates^2, Uncanny Avengers (Zub’s issues post-Secret Empire) Unworthy Thor, Unstoppable Wasp, Weapon X (first two issues), X-Men: Blue, X-Men: Gold, X-Men: Grand Design, X-Men: Prime

Oni: Kill Them All

Titan: The Death of Stalin

Valiant: Secret Weapons

 

FILMS

NOTE: I now have a letterboxd account (https://letterboxd.com/Matt_Sibley/) , thought about signing up earlier, but wanted to start one come the new year.

 

Older Movies

Hell or High Water, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Neon Demon, The Nice Guys, Whiplash, Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, The Woman in the Window, Drinking Buddies, Green Room, In the Mood for Love, The Big Sleep, Happy Christmas, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Sing Street, Margaret, Permanent Vacation, Metropolis, Run Lola Run, Once, Attack the Block, Stranger than Paradise, Adventureland, Clouds of Sils Maria, M (1931), The Sixth Sense, Red Road, Everybody Wants Some, Source Code, Wiener Dog, High-Rise, Carol, Down by Law, Mystery Train, Only God Forgives, Being Again, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Night on Earth, Black Swan, Moonrise Kingdom, Dead Man, Only Lovers Left Alive, Submarine, Beginners, O.J.: Made in America, Fury (1936), Shane, Man Hunt, Rashomon, All About Eve, Life, Animated, Day of Wrath, What We Do in the Shadows, Blue Jasmine, Godzilla, The Bling Ring, A Bigger Splash, Macbeth (2015), Knight of Cups, Lost in Translation, The Graduate, Sleepless in Seattle, Carol (again), The Wrestler, Requiem For a Dream, Paterson, The Big Heat, Happiness, Her Girl Friday, Zombieland, Kill List, The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, Tickled, The Battle of Midway, Hail, Caesar!, John Wick, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Mistress America, Blade Runner (Final Cut), Wonder Woman (2009), Carlos the Jackal, Drive, 13th (+ A Conversation with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay), Justice League: The New Frontier, Dear White People, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Still Alice, The Raid: Redemption, Lost in Translation (again), Searching for Sugar Man, Ex Machina, Prometheus, Broken Flowers, The Raid 2: Berendal, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Amanda Knox, The Virgin Suicides, Wild, Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids, A Single Man, Carol again, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Three Colours: Blue, White, Red, Hell or High Water (again), Looper, Mustang, While We’re Young, Margot at the Wedding, De Palma, Marie Antoinette, Westworld, Somewhere, Heat, The Bling Ring, Side Effects, Gimme the Loot, Under the Skin, You Can Count on Me, Something Wild, Bonnie and Clyde, Anomalisa, Manhattan, The Edge of Seventeen, The Big Short, Frances Ha, Animal Kingdom, The Duke of Burgundy, O Brother, Where Art Thou, In Your Eyes, Days of Heaven, The Breakfast Club, Network, Girlhood, Fish Tank, The Great Dictator, Blue Jay, The Place Beyond the Pines, Haywire, Contagion, Interstellar, The Informant!, Behind the Candelabra, Ocean’s Eleven, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Ocean’s Twelve, The Mermaid, Ocean’s Thirteen, In the Valley of Elah, Spy, Inherent Vice, Hard Eight, 50/50, The Hateful Eight, Arrival, Michael Clayton, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Brooklyn, Magic Mike, Jack Reacher, Paterson (again), Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (again), Young Frankenstein, Seven Psychopaths, On the Waterfront, Edge of Tomorrow, Swiss Army Man (first forty minutes), Blue Velvet, Blue Velvet (again), Son of Saul, Mean Streets, Sully, The Dark Knight Rises, Rachel Getting Married, Magic Mike XXL, A Most Violent Year, The Big Lebowski, Nebraska, Selma, Prisoners, Cinema Paradiso, The Squid and the Whale, Captain Phillips, I, Daniel Blake, The One I Love, Listen Up Philip, Greenberg, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Ricki and the Flash, Little Miss Sunshine, Kicking and Screaming, Married to the Mob, Kill Bill: Volume 1, The Manchurian Candidate, Kill Bill: Volume 2, Pulp Fiction, The Great Beauty, Django Unchained, Alps, Modern Times, Coffee and Cigarettes, Thor: The Dark World, Hunger, Shame, Iron Man 3, Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Following, Near Dark, Insomnia, Seven, Iron Man, Avengers, The Girlfriend Experience, Chinatown, A Separation, Incendies, Polytechnique, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, I’m Not There, Far From Heaven, Carol again, Enemy, Zodiac, Blade Runner (Final Cut [again]), Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War, Dumbo, Velvet Goldmine, Safe, Hell or High Water again, A Scanner Darkly, Waking Life, The Limey, Solaris (2002), Live Flesh, Thor, Thief, Panic Room, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Incredible Hulk, Julieta, The Good German, Badlands, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man 2, In the Loop, Captain America: The First Avenger, sex, lies, and videotape, Erin Brockovich, Results, Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Stop Making Sense, Punch-Drunk Love, Reservoir Dogs, Zero Dark Thirty, Avengers: Age of Ultron (again), Take Shelter, Inside Out, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avengers: Age of Ultron again (for note-taking purposes), Rushmore, When Harry Met Sally, Traffic, Black Hawk Down, Paprika, There Will Be Blood, Dune, She’s Gotta Have It, The Deep Blue Sea, Waltz with Bashir, Munich, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Wild Tales, The Aviator, Frances Ha (again), Mistress America (again), The Squid and The Whale (again), Listen Up Philip (again), World of Tomorrow, Melvin and Howard, Magnolia, The Last of the Mohicans, In Bruges, Monsters, Love and Friendship, Mary and Max, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Serenity, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Man from UNCLE, Carol again (in 35mm), Spring Breakers, Room 237, American Graffiti, Miami Vice, Bridesmaids, Jurassic World, Casino Royale (from poker game on), John Wick (again)

 

(Weirdest Viewing Experience of the Year: Majority of the class laughing at the final moments of The Graduate. Honourable Mention: Realising that my family were enjoying the hollow nihilism of Jurassic World)

(Best Viewing Experience of the Year: seeing Carol in 35mm, my first time with the format as far as I’m aware. Honourable Mention: seeing it for the first time and realising exactly how much I adored it)

 

2017 Movies

NOTE: Includes movies whose American release dates were pre-2017, but were released here this year.

 

La La Land, La La Land (again), Jackie, Imperial Dreams, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women, Silence, The Lego Batman Movie, I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore, Moonlight, Logan, Kong: Skull Island, Personal Shopper, Elle, Diedra and Laney Rob a Train, Burning Sands, Dave Chappelle: Deep in the Heart of Texas, Dave Chappelle: The Age of Spin, Get Out, Toni Erdmann, The Most Hated Woman in America, Free Fire, Five Came Back, The Discovery, The Fits, Girlfriend’s Day, iBoy, Win it All, Tower, Certain Women, Tramps, Sand Castle, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Rodney King, Casting JonBenet, Get Me Roger Stone, Alien: Covenant, Colossal, War Machine, Wonder Woman, The Big Sick, A Ghost Story, Jackie (again), Shimmer Lake, Catfight, Oh, Hello: On Broadway, Logan (again), I Am Jane Doe, I Am Not Your Negro, The Salesman, John Wick: Chapter 2, Baby Driver, Long Strange Trip, Nobody Speaks: Trials of the Free Press, La La Land again, The Book of Henry, Batman & Bill, Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, Okja, 20th Century Women (again), Lovesong, Lion, The Love Witch, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Before I Fall, Song to Song, Aquarius, War for the Planet of the Apes, Chasing Coral, The Beguiled, To the Bone, Dunkirk, The Incredible Jessica James, Free Fire (again), Hidden Figures, Icarus, Detroit, Atomic Blonde, I Called Him Morgan, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Wind River, Atomic Blonde (again), Oh Hello, On Broadway (again), Split, Logan Lucky (sans opening twenty-five), The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography, Lady Macbeth, What Happened to Monday, Logan Lucky (again; in full this time), Nocturama, Personal Shopper (again), First They Killed My Father, mother!, Alien: Covenant (again), David Lynch: The Art Life, The Handmaiden, Una, Valentine, Gaga: Five Foot Two, The Bad Batch (first thirty minutes), Logan Lucky again, Gerald’s Game (first twenty minutes), Our Souls at Night, Blade Runner 2049, Columbus, Ingrid Goes West, Wonderstruck, Manifesto, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), Song to Song (again), Beats Per Minute, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (again), The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected [again]), The Death of Stalin, Thor: Ragnarok, Their Finest, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Tokyo Project, Patton Oswalt: Annihilation, Joan Didion: The Centre Will Not Hold, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) again, Come Swim, Call Me By Your Name, My Life as a Courgette, It Comes at Night, Good Time, Mudbound, Justice League, City of Ghosts, Murder on the Orient Express, The Big Sick (again), The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) again (uni-work related), Paddington 2, The Lost City of Z, The Florida Project, Strong Island, A Quiet Passion, Mindhorn, Stronger, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Wormwood, Atomic Blonde again, Land of Mine (first 40 minutes), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (again), Bright (first thirty minutes), Alien: Covenant again, The Red Turtle, Mr. Roosevelt, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) again, World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts.

 

(Unfortunately didn’t get to these releases –– Neruda, My Cousin Rachel, Girls Trip, God’s Own Country, I Am Not a Witch, Marjorie Prime, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Kedi, Beach Rats, Happy End, The Disaster Artist, Menashe, Mountains May Depart –– as a result of lack of time mostly, but some also didn’t play nearby enough for me to catch a screening)

 

TV

 

Older TV

NOTE: Unlike comics, these are in chronological order as I made sure not to try and catch up with more than one show simultaneously.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency S1, Please Like Me, The Leftovers S1-2, The Trip S1-2, O.J.: Made in America, Halt and Catch Fire S1-3, The Girlfriend Experience S1, Mr. Robot S1-2×03, Mad Men 3×13, 4×07, 7×07, Top of the Lake, One Mississippi S1, The Thick of It, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, Difficult People S1+2, Freaks and Geeks 1×01-1×02, Battlestar Galactica 1×01, 3×03-3×04

 

2017 TV

Sherlock, Taboo, One Day at a Time, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Star Wars Rebels, The Good Place, Agents of Shield, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Saturday Night Live (42×11-42×21), Supergirl, Sneaky Pete, Riverdale (1×01-2×01), San Clarita Diet, Legion, Crashing, Big Little Lies, Catastrophe, Feud, The Americans, Love, Iron Fist (pilot + 25% of 1×02), Review, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (pilot), The Flash (3×16), Five Came Back, 13 Reasons Why, Rick and Morty (3×01), Samurai Gourmet, iZombie, Brockmire (1×01-1×03), Archer(8×01-8×03), Better Call Saul, Brooklyn Nine Nine, The Leftovers, Fargo, Bill Nye Saves the World (first season), The Trip, Underground 2×06, The Handmaid’s Tale, Dear White People, I Love Dick, Master of None, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Twin Peaks, F is for Family (2×01-2×02), Long Strange Trip, GLOW, American Gods, Gypsy (pilot), Castlevania, Tour de Pharmacy, Friends from College (pilot), Insecure, Ozark (1×01-1×02), The Last Tycoon (pilot), Top of the Lake: China Girl, Room 104, Rick & Morty, Atypical, Comrade Detective, The Defenders, Halt and Catch Fire, The Tick, You’re the Worst, Bojack Horseman, The Deuce, One Mississippi, Better Things, American Vandal, Great News, The Last Tycoon, Transparent, Star Trek Discovery, Inhumans (1×01-02; later 03-1×08 for podcast), The Gifted, Mindhunter, Big Mouth, Stranger Things (2×01-03), Alias Grace, The Girlfriend Experience, Lady Dynamite, The Punisher (1×01), Runaways, Godless (1×01), She’s Gotta Have It, Patriot (25% of 1×01), Difficult People, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Easy (2×01-2×03), Wormwood, Black Mirror (USS Callister)

 

(As with cinema, there are always blindspots, primarily due to the sheer volume being released. Notable ones –– that I kept intending to get to at some point before 2018 –– The Young Pope, American Crime, The Carmichael Show, Queen Sugar)

 

 

 

BOOKS

NOTE: Still the area of the arts I’m most likely to neglect. Trying to stop doing this, likely never will; even if I try.

 

Older Books

A Once Crowded Sky, Call Me By Your Name, Carol/The Price of Salt, One Kick, The Revolution was Televised

 

2017 Books

Star Wars: Aftermath – Empire’s End, From a Certain Point of View, We Were Eight Years in Power

 

BONUS CONTENT

Just a peak behind the curtain at the TV-specific shortlists I kept over the course of the year. Each entry was included, not because I assumed they’d be within the end of year conversation, but because I wanted to mark them as and when they aired instead of running greater risk at glossing over something had I waited until, say November, to start thinking about these things.

 

Shows in Contention for Top 10: One Day at a Time, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Good Place, Agents of Shield, Legion, The Americans, Love, Big Little Lies, Review, Girls, Five Came Back, Better Call Saul, The Leftovers, Fargo, The Trip, The Handmaid’s Tale, I Love Dick, Master of None, Twin Peaks, GLOW, Insecure, Top of the Lake: China Girl, Comrade Detective, Halt and Catch Fire, The Tick, You’re the Worst, The Deuce, Better Things, America Vandal, Alias Grace, The Girlfriend Experience, Runaways, Difficult People, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Wormwood.

 

(As of November: Twin Peaks, The Leftovers, The Girlfriend Experience, Halt and Catch Fire, Better Things, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Top of the Lake: China Girl, Legion, Big Little Lies, The Handmaid’s Tale)

 

Episodes in Contention for Top 10: The Good Place 1×13, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 2×13, One Day at a Time (honestly any episode onwards from the fourth), Kristen Stewart’s SNL, Legion 1×01, Riverdale 1×03, Agents of Shield 4×15, Girls 6×03, Legion 1×04, Love 2×05, Big Little Lies 1×05, Legion 1×07, Review 3×02, Review 3×03, Big Little Lies 1×07, Feud 1×05, Girls 6×09, Underground 2×06 Leftovers 3×02, Feud 1×08, The Handmaid’s Tale 1×01, 1×03, Dear White People 1×05, Better Call Saul 3×05, iZombie 3×06 I Love Dick 1×05. 1×07, Master of None 2×04, 2×06, 2×08, Leftovers 3×06, Twin Peaks The Return Part 3, Fargo 3×06, Leftovers 3×07, Leftovers 3×08, Fargo 3×08, GLOW 1×08, Twin Peaks The Return Part 8, American Gods 1×04, iZombie 3×13, Twin Peaks The Return Part 14, Rick and Morty 3×04, Room 104 1×04, Halt and Catch Fire 4×01-4×02, Twin Peaks The Return Part 15, Insecure 2×05, The Tick 1×05, Room 104 1×05, Halt and Catch Fire 4×03, Twin Peaks The Return Parts 16-18, You’re the Worst 4×01-4×02, The Good Place 2×03, Halt and Catch Fire 4×07-10, You’re the Worst 4×06, Better Things 2×06, Big Mouth 1×08, Star Trek Discovery 1×07, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 3×06-07 Better Things 2×09-2×10, She’s Gotta Have It 1×06, Difficult People 3×02,3×08,3×10, Runaways 1×04, The Girlfriend Experience 2×09, Brooklyn Nine-Nine 5×09, Search Party 2×07, Wormwood Part 4, The Girlfriend Experience 2×11, The Girlfriend Experience 2×14

 

 

 

 

The Elegant Simplicity of Wonder Woman

DC’s latest works not only because it’s fine with being a superhero film, but because it is unashamedly so.

The most striking distinction, the one that separates Wonder Woman from the rest of the DC Extended Universe, is unusually that despite the film’s title, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is not referred to by that title within the film. Lest we forger that prior to their 2017 summer tent-pole, this was a universe that saw both Batman and Superman undergo periods of uncertainty, with the weight of the world thrown at them, in order to question if they ‘be worthy’ enough to protect their cities on opposite sides of the bay.

Not only that, but just ten months ago, this universe revealed itself to be one where the alleged supervillains (and believe me, we were told they were bad guys many times) appear to have been more willing to save a city, one that none of them come from, from an unquestionable evil. Wonder Woman does not trade on the moral queries of the previous entries or this franchise, or at least it doesn’t when it comes to its protagonist. Instead, Diana is Wonder Woman and this is not up for debate.

This simplicity can be seen in individual story beats, like when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) steals the notebook of Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya). He simply sees it and goes for it. As a whole, the movie trades on this kind of simplicity when it comes to plot –– It does not try to intertwine four/five plot-lines like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, nor does it appear to being going where the wind and mood takes it a la Suicide SquadHowever, I don’t want to imply that this film is basic by any means.

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It’s smart, not in a Whedon-kind of way where the words ‘mewling quim’ end up in the finished product, but in regards to gender roles and the subversion of those within a blockbuster. This should be clear from the fact that Steve Trevor, despite being the romantic interest, is granted a great deal more to do than his respective female counterparts, but it applies to other scenes. Written by Allan Heinberg, there are points, such as when Diana walks in on Steve exiting the bath or later when they depart for London and discuss sleeping, where you might anticipate where these scenes will go, based on similar versions across many other pieces of media. This is primarily due to the dialogue, leaning on low-hanging fruit for these scenarios which can be played as cutesy-awkward, but under the lens of Patty Jenkins, an air of earnestness comes across.

Andrew Sarris considered this to be ‘Interior Meaning’, or the conflict between the text the director works from, and the text that they create. As a result, the joke isn’t on Diana. It might be played as humorous, but not for laughs directed at her because Jenkins understands there’s difference between being a fish-out-of-water and naivety writ large. A similar notion applies to Sammy, Charlie and Chief, played by Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremner and Eugene Brave Rock respectively. They might be stereotypes, a symptom of the script adopting a brisker pace upon arriving in Man’s World, but the qualities that come with these rough character outlines aren’t why they’re funny.

This notion of ‘interior meaning’ was demonstrated last year in Batman v. Superman, when Gadot ad-libbed her smile during the Doomsday fight, before she rejoined the brawl. With the focus now on year, she shines even more brightly than she did there. Present in the actresses that portray a younger Diana, Gadot demonstrates a determination in all of her actions and decisions throughout the film, and as a fish-out-of-water, she plays confusion without an air of vapidity –– the moment in which she becomes enamoured by a baby sees her tap into the same compassion and care for life that takes across No Man’s Land in the second act, the film’s most inspiring and flowing sequence.

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With Chris Pine, the pair demonstrate a chemistry that runs as an undercurrent in most if not all of their scenes even when it is not the focus and without either of them needing to say anything about it. Jenkins’ has a clear talent for non-verbal moments like this, the reason the wonders of the first act shine despite the heavy exposition about the mythology of the Amazons and gods. When dealing with scenes that are explicitly about the duo’s relationship, Jenkins focus on the pair and avoids cutting away to show reactions of others. This is about what they have together and that unity makes them best comic book pairing since Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter, a comparison that would be made regardless, but is ultimately welcome.

If anything, this goes to show that a lot of the film’s problems exist on a script level. in fact the issues present in the film –– exposition, underwritten supporting cast, a third act that forgets some themes previously considered, bad CGI –– are ones present in most superhero films (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War and Suicide Squad to offer just one possible assortment to fit this particular bill). It’s to the credit of Jenkins that the first two acts, the second most of all, are so strong, that these issues don’t weigh the film down further. In this lead-up to Wonder Woman‘s release, there was a worry that it would seem to similar to Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor, but instead it feels fresh, in the way that Deadpool captured the zeitgeist and that’s a matter of new perspective.

Of course a disconnect from the wider DCEU helps with that. In fact, we don’t receive a definitive answer as to why Diana left Man’s World and the film would be better served without a framing sequence possibly reminding reviews of that. As with those moments mentioned previously with regards to ‘Interior Meaning’, this sense of hopefulness hasn’t been seen in this universe before (even if select viewers found it in Man of Steel) and the sheer desire to do good is frankly awe-inspiring, hopefully a point of refocusing for this franchise.

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With any luck this refocusing will shift away from fights set against green-screens involving all manner of flames and explosions. This is where the film becomes messiest, the bad CGI more noticeable now taking center stage, not helped by the editing. Despite this, Gadot remains a constant, continuing to show that she demonstrates this character in a way that even fans of her previous appearance likely couldn’t have anticipated. Through this it becomes clear that it’s never been Gadot’s acting that’s been flat, but instead that it seems this way when what’s around her, background and elements in the scene, are.

By and large, I think we’d like comic book movies to be something more, which is why so many latched onto Logan because it wasn’t a comic book movie played straight in its first half. At the same time, we have to also recognise that when one wants to be a comic book movie where good stops evil and then goes on to do that exceptionally well then that’s as equally deserving of praise.

Thankfully, Wonder Woman did not end up being a rehash of movies that Marvel made six years ago, but instead a refreshing and joyful experience because of how it subverts those, fighting against the traditions of the genre for as long as it can hold out, and at 140-minutes, it does so for near-two hours. It grants Steve an arc rather than relegating him to the role of romantic interest alone, a lesson which needs to be universally applied to the genre, blockbusters and film at large. When Jenkins is able to place the camera further back, a benefit of filming in real-world locations, and shoot action wide over the industry-standard proximity, the phenomenal blocking and choreography gets shown off, most prominently on Themyscira. It does not get lost in the weeds of what it means to be a hero, postulating if Diana can wield the lasso like they wondered if Steve could with the shield.

Instead, she simply does.

 

Logan’s Heroes

On Mangold and Stevens’ icons and the imitations.

 

[WARNING: THIS PIECE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOTH LOGAN AND SHANE. SEEING BOTH BEFORE READING IS IDEAL, BUT ONLY LOGAN IS NECESSARY]

 

I keep going back to Shane.

Not unwarranted by any means, instead it’s hard not to considering the way that James Mangold utilises segments of the 1953 film within his own during the casino interlude, but Logan walks the path of George Stevens’ Western in more ways than just this. This is most relevant in discussing the farmhouse sequence in which the trio of Logan (Hugh Jackman), Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen) are taken in by the Munson family, its patriarchal figure portrayed by Eriq La Salle, where Logan finds himself on the border of peace and violence. The tectonic plates where shift, sizable or minimal, can cause shake-ups –– the same conundrum that Alan Ladd’s titular character found himself in, in 1953.

Evidently indebted to Stevens’ film, Logan deals with the push and pull of those two states and the battle of the self, although this (presumed) final outing for Jackman’s portrayal also assumes it necessary to demonstrate this with an overt physical battle. Films are by no means required to be subtle –– Darren Aronofsky plays with this same notion in Black SwanHell or High Water, an actual Western, utilises its opening shot of a graffitied wall to directly state its theme and The Departed ends with a shot of a rat, that has simultaneously become both joke and verbatim for already obvious symbolism –– and even the genre that Logan most wishes to be taken as, a Western, has never required such a caveat, indicated by not only the aforementioned Hell or High Water, but also in the way that HBO and Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy’s Westworld lampoons a staple of the genre, asking participants to decide whether they want to be a black, or white, hat.

While Logan, the character, may not be enamoured by Shane, leaving Charles and Laura to watch, Logan, the film, is clearly so, walking in the footsteps of the Ladd who came before, until the end, in which Mangold makes a key diversion. Logan does not end with its hero walking off into the sunset, as Laura calls his name, neither sure if he will finally fall when he crosses the hill, from a wound inflicted in the final fray. Instead, and if we accept this to truly be Jackman’s last performance as the character, both in the timeline of the X-films and the production of those films, we see Logan die, but also understand that both the young and the old, the peaceful and the violent, the student and the teacher can finally rest.

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It’s a resonant idea, the reason that so many have attested to shedding a tear for what many consider one of the consistencies in a franchise which has gone through turbulent times to say the least.

However, I don’t believe that it’s as perfect as it could be and the reason that this feeling refuses to leave my side, is down to the elements existing within the film as is –– this isn’t a call for Cyclops or Nightcrawler to have been involved within a climax, instead the opposite. James Mangold, has proven himself capable of making multiple types of film, two types being: Westerns and proto-Westerns. 3:10 to Yuma falls under the former, Copland and Logan, under the latter. Mangold is clearly both in love with, and indebted to, the Western, from the way he loves to shoot the desolate landscapes in wide shots, to the already mentioned links to Shane, and this is where the issue arises. As much as this film tries, it can’t be ShaneLogan is a film whose cast consists of comic book characters from a pre-existing universe, and as a result of this, compared to a film like Persepolis or the upcoming Atomic Blonde, that link to the genre precludes all other possible classifications.

As a result of that, Logan utilises one of the genre’s frequently used tropes, clones, for both good and bad. The former, X-23/Laura Kinney, is great, more impressive than many breakout child performances because Keen’s initial impression on the audience is conveyed while mute, and after she breaks her silence, she and Logan have a dynamic much like Shane and Joey. The latter, X-24, played by Jackman, is not and his importance to the plot of the film allows us to clearly mark the point where the film drops-off –– when it cuts in order to show his POV from a room in a facility –– and unfortunately, never recovers. Essentially, X-24’s existence makes subtext into text, a narrative decision not required.

The comics that fill this world already go to demonstrate that Logan is feuding with someone who shares his appearance, a former self, one that has also been immortalised, in these works and the minds of children. If you will, these comics have become the dime novels of this world, embellishing events in order to make them more exciting. Eden isn’t real, at least not as the issue presents it. Instead, it becomes a reality, if only for a precious moment, thanks to the children, who saw this adventure in its paneled glory, and were driven to make it true. Logan was already in a battle with himself, attempting to prove that he could be the costumed man in the comics.

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I feel that it would have been more appropriate that the allegorical gunslinger, the legend, is in conflict with what became his legend.

My problem with Logan isn’t exclusive to this film as I feel similarly about The Wolverine and the inclusion of the Silver Samurai. Much like then, I wish that Mangold had been able to go all the way with regards to their respective inspirations, but it feels like a bigger flaw here, because not only does Logan have less faults overall, but it’s also closer to true greatness. As mentioned, Mangold has shown himself capable of making both Westerns and proto-Westerns. In its decided permutation, Logan would like to be Shane, but it can’t because of its comic book links. Simultaneously, I don’t think that Logan can be the best comic book film because it is those tenuous tropes, those links to the genre that hold it back.

I keep going back Shane because it told the story Logan was almost able to tell and because clones never have the essence of the original.

Remembering Darwyn Cooke: How Going Solo for ‘Solo’ Made Him Stand Out

If given the chance, don’t hesitate to go full auteur.

Darwyn died on the 14th of May this year, just a day after he and his family revealed he was undertaking palliative care after a bout of cancer. Even though the comic community braced for the worst, we had no idea the worst would come within in 24 hours. We mourned, people shared stories, I balled like a fucking baby. I needed to get something out at the time – I wrote this elsewhere:

I’ve seen this link upwards of 100 times in the past few hours and that’s a lowball estimate. Every time I do I hope to god that it’s a horrible April Fools joke, but it’s sadly not the case. Every time I see it, I just want to close the curtains, curl up and block it out because there’s no way that this can be true. Not Darwyn, please not Darwyn.

In 2004, he created The New Frontier, a story about the 1950’s when theCold War raged, minorities were persecuted, the Korean War left battlefields bloody and your neighbour could be a Communist if McCarthy decided they were.

The world had gone from the biggest war it had ever known and instead of striving to right the wrongs that led it down that path, it toed the line of an even bigger war that would surely bring annihilation.

Someone once asked me what made this book so special and I shot back

‘Optimism’

The book is vibrant, dripping with energy and hope. It’s the light amidst all the darkness. The characters smile. It’s a love letter, scratch that, it’s THE love letter to comics and heroes no matter who they are. When I’ve been having a bad day, it’s simply been enough to pick it off the shelf and look at. It’s one of my favourite things. Period.

It feels like I’ve been crying for two hours because of the news, I started writing something here that could just have easily been ‘fuck cancer’, but I broke down in the middle of it and just stared up at the ceiling. And there it was. Directly ahead – my copy of the New Frontier. I took it off the shelf and found his annotations at the back where he explains his process and the detail he put into the book. And for a moment, there were still tears, but there was also some optimism. His work is immortal, his layouts, his anatomy, his plotting, the subtle beats that make the work so rich for rereading

I don’t know if he or his family will see this. I don’t know whether writing this is more to express my sympathies or to try and make sense of how cruel the world can be. What I do know is that in the time I’ve been writing this, the New Frontier reaffirmed to me what I told that person when they asked me about what makes it so special. It’s a book about optimism. Of how the world can move from the dark and drab into the colour and joy.

Thank you, Darwyn Cooke.

I’ll concede it’s somewhat melodramatic, but like I said New Frontier is my favourite thing to ever come from DC so I hope you’ll understand where the reaction came from. I just wanted to share it in case I ever lose where I made the post originally.

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Now to crack on with the piece.

[WARNING: The following will be discussing Solo #5 in extensive depth, each story contained within the covers is explored and analysed. Consider this your spoiler warning. Should you wish to buy the issue then the following link will direct you to Comixology where you can do so.]

https://www.comixology.co.uk/Solo-2004-2006-5/digital-comic/373729?ref=c2VyaWVzL3ZpZXcvZGVza3RvcC9ncmlkTGlzdC9Jc3N1ZXM

Making Your Voice Heard

Comics are inherently a collaborative medium – writers, artists, colourists, letterers and editors work in unison to make them. You’ll find some people write and draw like Frank Miller in his legendary Daredevil run and The Dark Knight Returns. Jeff Lemire has a slew of creator owned works, some of which he’s done all bar the lettering for, but it’s rare to find a book in which a single person has done everything. To my knowledge, the closest you can get at Marvel is Kaare Andrew’s Iron Fist: The Living Weapon where he did all bar the lettering, Spider-Man: Fever by Brendan McCarthy, but even then he was assisted by Steve Cook or Weapon X by Barry Windsor Smith which has letters by James R. Novak. Outside of the big 2 you could look to webcomics like Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona for example where Noelle did everything.

Obviously being made by one person doesn’t make it inherently better than a book produced by a creative team, but it does infer auteurship. You can have auteurs that just write and draw because of the way their voice comes through like Miller in the same way that the Coen’s write the screenplays and direct, but don’t hold the boom mics on set. However, it’s easier to define something as someone’s singular vision when they’re responsible for every part of it.

Solo was an endeavor by Mark Chiarello where comic creators were given 48 pages to do whatever they want. The book is 12 issues of creators going wild without restriction.

Regardless of whether I like something, I can’t help but admire when someone swings for the fences – The Neon Demon is unapologetically Refn, I consider Avengers: Age of Ultron the superior Avengers movie because of how it’s distinctly Joss and as a result, the closest an MCU movie has gotten to being a [insert name here] movie over a Marvel movie since Iron Man set the house style (I’d say more on this next week, but I’ll play it safe and say I aim to get it our by the end of the month). I think  Mr. Robot has gone massively off the rails from a story perspective, but I have to salute Sam Esmail for putting everything into making it his show from being the showrunner to being the eye behind the camera.

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As a result, I would have admired Issue 5 of Solo regardless of quality, but Darwyn is one of the best creators of the millennium and he wrote, drew, coloured and lettered the hell of it. It’s my favourite issue of the series and I first read it after he passed. At the time it helped to cope with him leaving us (the panel above made me laugh because of how comics internet has adopted the Tom King CIA meme), but, now almost four months on it’s an issue which defines his approach to comics.

The Origin Story

Everyone’s got one, but not everyone’s is tragic. World’s Window hearkens back to an idealised 1950’s suburbia bathed in golden sunlight. It’s a story which shows us how much our lives can change in an instant. Initially Darwyn is interested in golf and is gifted his own club from Jack Storms, but he stumbles across Roberta, his wife. She’s painting in the gazebo. Turns out that Darwyn also likes to draw. In the space of a panel Darwyn becomes enthralled and asks every question under the sun that he possibly could. He’s given some art supplies so he can learn to paint. Back home, the golf club is cast aside and Darwyn’s at a table. It ends by pushing in on piece of paper that’s ready to be painted on. A blank canvas. Anything is possible.

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Multiple Lies by the King of Spies

King Faraday is living the fantasy life as John King. He’s a secret spy in Cuba with a ‘wife’ and a ‘girlfriend’, his wits, charms and charisma. He gets to take down a bad guy – Javiar Manale who’s helping Castro. His girlfriend is Manale’s wife. Even when Manale knows his girlfriend is being unfaithful, King isn’t one of the people killed for her unfaithfulness.  When he’s later found out, he survives thanks to a cross from one of the men previously murdered. He survives on the faith that he will (plus Manale’s gun backfired and does the work for King). When he rushes back to the compound to crack the safe for the spoils, he’s confronted by his girlfriend and his wife who are in cahoots. Their guns trained on him. He makes a run for it. He has faith he’ll make it. Again optimism is an recurrent theme in his work.

What Are These Funny Pages Doing In My Funny Books?

A brief interlude. Pin-ups of Zatanna, Black Canary and Catwoman remind me of Phil Noto’s variants from a couple years ago capturing our heroes in subdued and candid (not that definition of candid, there are other sites for that sorta thing) moments of life. [They’re in the link dump] Zee’s and Dinah’s feel like they could be from a Justice League party when the photographer could steal a moment and them away from the crowd. Selina’s is reminiscent of a New Yorker cartoon. The rest of the stuff on the 2 page spread could be cartoons from the Sunday paper, built on short term set-up and payoff, one panel punchlines. A Brief History of Mainstream Comics in America is sobering. The industry’s survived this long, but the kids from the 40’s have moved on and the kids of the 60’s who were so desperate to stand out from their parents run the stories in the 90’s and hate the kids of the era. In present times, the damage has been done and no one’s doing anything to bring the kids back. The panel that informs us the most about Darwyn is the one about the 50’s. People burning comics. It makes sense why The New Frontier is designed to show us that superheroes endured despite America trying to suppress them.

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It’s Not So Much Attraction, So Much As It’s The Suction

Everyday Madness is like a Jimmy Olsen comic that was shot down when pitched. A man tells us a story about falling in love with his vacuum cleaner, only him to step back before it gets too serious. It can’t deal with this, steals his trousers, he kills it and flees the scene to find a tailor and a new fling.

Okay so maybe it’s a little more out there than a Jimmy Olsen comic, but seriously have you seen those issues, they’re not exactly grounded — I digress. This is my least favourite part of the book, but good god is it vibrant and dynamic. It’s also one of those surreal gags, akin to the segment of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask that stars Gene Wilder. You know the one. Where he falls in love with a sheep at the expense of his existing life and by the end the sheep is gone and he’s left with nothing. Nothing. [Editor’s note: Couldn’t resist that Willy Wonka gag]. The real difference here is that our protagonist seems doomed to repeat the cycle anew. Maybe it’s a statement on capitalism like the TV joke on the funny pages. We fall in love with our consumerist objects until they break down, but we get a new one and are impressed because it’s got a new dial or holds more songs or it’s got a new hat. Or you know, something like that.

War. What Is It Good For? That Begs The Question.

We’ll get to the stuff in Jimmy’s at the end, but just before The Infidel, Slam snaps at an Ann Coulter stand-in who dismisses the lives lost in Iraq as ‘acceptable’ even if they didn’t have WMD’s. In New Frontier, Hal Jordan finds himself fighting for his life against a Korean soldier who’s doing the same for theirs. In the frenzy, Hal forgets his Korean that will allow him to explain an armistice has been signed. Hal kills him. He did it to survive, but prior to that encounter he’d never used lethal force. After being rescued Hal speaks Korean, It translates as ‘It’s over. Make war no more’. The Question’s story is from the perspective of a man who’s been instructed by higher-ups to complete a mission in a post 9/11 world. To destroy 15 camps where the hijackers of the planes were trained. The piece asks whether a single person can act without influence from external sources. If it’s possible to focus on the absolute and objective truth over what we need to believe to get the job done. These two interludes show there’s only a select few of us to have walked the Earth that can tell us where it’s worth it. That said, Darwyn also seems to be saying if it’s worth it, why can’t we just stop? One person can’t do it,  but what if we all tried?

A Bloodied Canvas

Some events are doomed to be repeated. Some people have similar origins. A boy’s parents are gunned down simply for being in the wrong place when a trio hit a jewelry story. Batman gets there too late to save them, but he’ll be damned if the boy carries on any further down the path Bruce Wayne is stuck travelling. The gang are tormented by Batman who pursues them relentlessly through the night. From Dusk to Midnight. By the end the crooks get taken down by what’s lurking in the shadows. One admits he’s nothing. By Dawn, Bruce laments life lost. This is a story that one wishes will not be repeated through the ages.

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Last Call

Let’s jump back to the start where Slam Bradley tells a riveting tale about an Atomic Monkey and Madame X and just before we break into a surrealist Steranko spy tale — King Faraday cuts him off. Does it make for a good story? Probably, but the best ones are about people rather than plot. Those are the ones I live for. They step into Jimmy’s, a Cheers-ian paradise where you can go, all your favourites are there, everyone knows your name and you their’s. [Upon rereading, I just noticed King mentions Grace – his ‘wife’ from King of America. Even now Darwyn’s making me appreciate his craft more than I thought possible]. Jimmy’s off the map, it doesn’t have a set place, it’s timeless. We all have a place like this.

When we spend the night at Jimmy’s we see all kinds of people. We overhear parts of conversations that makes us smirk to the people we’re with, that makes us grit our teeth so our tongue doesn’t run away from us to set the record straight. We exchange stories because even if you’re alone at the moment, we’ve all got some. People assure us they’re okay while their faces betray them and say everything they don’t want to. We share moments with kindred spirits and appreciate the brief escape from whatever’s keeping us down. We share nights with those near and dear, maybe you skip out and see where the night takes you. In the end you’ve got a story. We live so we can tell people what we did. The underlying theme of this issue is story. Origin stories, the ones we embellish with little details to add more flair, the ones that don’t bear repeating, the ones ‘that you had to be there for’, the ones we treasure.

The issue is a masterpiece, that much is certain, but the pages at Jimmy’s are the opus of Solo. And that’s because it crafts some of the best back and forth. It invites you in for 6 pages and you feel like you’re there until last call. You meet characters with character. At the end of the night, you don’t want to leave. If Darwyn had wanted to write 48 pages where we filter through the patrons and just listen then I would love it just as much. This issue is a testament to stories as is, if it were 48 pages at Jimmy’s, it would be no different.

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Darwyn may no longer be with us, but we still have New Frontier which is simultaneously the best Green Lantern story, the best Martian Manhunter story and the best Justice League story. I wish they’d used this as a touchstone when making the DCEU. We still have Batman: Ego which is the definitive answer to not only should Batman kill, but also ‘Which Batman book should I read?’, we still have his art book shows how his craft can stand up on it’s own. We have his variants which represent that characters perfectly, we have his Spirit run for pulp hero perfection. We have his Catwoman redesign which is the best costume she’s had. We have Parker to show how incredible he was at taking a work and making it his own. We have Solo #5. 48 pages which are 100% him swinging for the fences so I’ll remember him as the finest auteur to ever work at DC.

Thanks for reading. Now go read everything he’s ever done.

Link Dump

https://www.comixology.co.uk/Solo-2004-2006-5/digital-comic/373729?ref=c2VyaWVzL3ZpZXcvZGVza3RvcC9ncmlkTGlzdC9Jc3N1ZXM

Darwyn’s issue of Solo available by Comixology. If you haven’t previously, I implore you read it. If you want to read the full series then you’ll need to buy the Deluxe Edition which could be on the way to being Out of Print. 

https://www.comixology.co.uk/DC-The-New-Frontier-Deluxe-Edition/digital-comic/185677?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC9pdGVtU2xpZGVy

New Frontier. The finest thing DC’s published. I shouldn’t have to tell you this is worth reading. The Absolute Edition and OHC are Out of Print, but a new trade version just released and that will be available from your online retailer of choice. Also your Local Comic Store may have a copy or let you order one in.

http://comicsalliance.com/duet-on-solo-part-five-darwyn-cooke-dc-comics-anthology-mark-chiarello-review/

Comics Alliance ran a series of discussion on all 12 issues of Solo. Here’s their thoughts on Darwyn’s issue.

http://comicsalliance.com/phil-noto-marvel-variant-covers/

Phil Noto’s variants