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New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 1, Episode 13 (“Force Majeure”)

It was a delight to stop by The Time is Now podcast again, particularly so soon after my last appearance on The X-Cast.

This week, I’m joining host and showrunner Kurt North to talk about one of my favourite episodes of the first season and a definite turning point in the evolution of Millennium. Force Majeure is one of the first times in the season that Millennium really lets its freak flag fly high. It is an episode that feels very different and distinct from what came before, eschewing the conventional “serial killer of the week” format in favour of something more abstract and eschatological.

This was a fun, broad discussion. As ever, you can listen to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

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Luke Cage – If It Ain’t Rough, It Ain’t Right (Review)

The past stays with us.

Part of what is interesting about the second season of Luke Cage is the manner in which it engages with, and builds from, what came before. Continuity is a long-standing fixture of superhero narratives, most obviously in the four-colour source material. Fictional characters accrue a history, as individual issues and appearances add up to create a complex set of interlocking details that define and shape the character. It is in some ways comparable to how individual histories help to forge identities and determine who we are.

Of course, it should be noted that superhero movies and television shows have carried over some of this continuity from the comic books. Although cinema’s first “shared universe” was arguably constructed between the Universal monster movies of the thirties, the modern popularity of the term is driven by the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, an elaborate physical construct that ties together everything from Avengers: Infinity War to Daredevil to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The idea is that, in theory, events from one end of this universe might ripple over to another. After all, Misty can drop a casual reference to “the Incident” into an interrogation in Straighten It Out, a nod to the events of The Avengers which can be used to justify the proliferation of advanced technology within this shared universe. Overlap can happen in the strangest places, such as a character mentioned by Misty in For Pete’s Sake turning up a week or so later in an episode of Cloak & Dagger.

At the same time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has struggled to build a truly interconnected universe, in part due to the commercial of realities of film and television production. As a result, Robert Downey Junior is highly unlikely to pop by Hell’s Kitchen for an homage to Born Again, while the Hulk can only be explicitly referenced as “the big green dude” in AKA It’s Called Whiskey or “the green monster” in All Souled Out. The characters from The Defenders are highly unlikely to ever have to worry about Thanos’ finger snap, after all.

This strange dissonance and discontinuity that exists between the various facets of the live action Marvel Cinematic Universe is part of what makes the strong continuity connections between the first and second seasons of Luke Cage so compelling, the sense of a tightly woven narrative that is expanding in a logical way from earlier events, where characters’ current behaviours are largely shaped and defined by what the audience has already seen. It’s a very effective use of continuity, particularly for a comic book television series.

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The X-Files: Season One (Topps) #7 – Fire (Review)

We’ve recently finished our reviews of the nine seasons of The X-Files. Along the way, we tried to do tie-ins and crossovers and spin-offs. However, some of those materials weren’t available at the right time. So this week will be spent finishing Topps’ line of “Season One” comics, published during the fifth season in the lead up to The X-Files: Fight the Future.

Space was perhaps the best of Topps’ Season One line of comics, a version of the first season episode that came much closer to realising the potential of Chris Carter’s outer space mystery than anything that appeared on a television screen during the show’s first year. In a way, Space suggested a possible sustainable model for the Season One line of comics beyond a rather cynical attempt to have two separate X-Files comics running in parallel. What if the Season One line could be used to “fix” stories that had misfired the first time around?

This makes a certain amount of sense. After all, there is little point in just rehashing the show’s strongest moments. The comic adaptation of Beyond the Sea might entertain, but it will never be the definitive or stronger example of that story. The comic adaptations lack the chemistry of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, but they do have an unlimited visual effects budget and the ability to filter a story through a unique artistic sensibility. So perhaps Season One should not fixate on a “greatest hits” tour of the first season, but should instead focus on the misfires.

Burn with me...

Burn with me…

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The X-Files (Topps) #33 – Soma (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Soma is a done-in-one story that fits quite comfortably with the rest of John Rozum’s work on The X-Files.

Indeed, like a lot of Rozum’s output, Soma feels like a story recovered from a fifties horror comic. It is a very traditional ghost story hinging on a number of absurd contrivances and building to a suitably impressive climax. This is not a low-key supernatural thriller – it features vengeful smoke demons who materialise in front of countless witness and almost murder Mulder and Scully at the climax. Despite the insistence on the final page that it was too smoky to see anything, Soma feels a little too loud and campy for the world of The X-Files.

Burnt out...

Burnt out…

The script is very familiar. In many ways, Soma plays like an update of the script to Donor. It is another supernatural “beyond the grave” revenge story, similar in tone to first season episodes like Young at Heart or Lazarus or Born Again. As with Donor, the malicious spirit is a husband who plots a horrific revenge on a wife who disregarded his dying wishes. However, while Donor had an enjoyable pulpy charm to sustain it as an unwilling organ donor attempted to reclaim his harvested organs, Soma feels just a little bit too mean-spirited and malicious in tone.

Soma is a functional and efficient X-Files comic, but one that feels just a little bit too rote and familiar for its own good.

Burning love...

Burning love…

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Final Crisis (Review/Retrospective)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. Later on today, we’ll be reviewing Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, so I thought I might take a look at a comic book tale which was heavy on Superman, Darkseid and Batman…

This epic elegy for a doomed civilisation, declining from splendor to squalor. This Final Crisis. This last ditch attempt to save creation itself from a loathing and greed beyond measure.

– Grant Morrison outlines the whole point of the book, in case you weren’t paying attention… in a narration which deserves to be read in the most pompously ridiculous style possible

Look, I could hitch a ride back with you. I have a real talent for gritty drama no one’s ever thought to exploit.

– Merryman makes a pitch for “relevance” in the hopes of escaping comic book “limbo”

Destruction or creation. Everything or nothing. A universe full or a universe empty. Life or anti-life. Grant Morrison certainly lives up to his reputation as a frustrating and challenging author – is Final Crisis the statement of a genre looking to make peace with itself, or nonsensical Silver Age surrealism repackaged for a modern world? Is it pretentious or profound? Insightful or devoid of interest? Can’t it be both, or are these mutually exclusive states?

We all knew Obama was Superman…

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