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The Last Jedi, Dunkirk and the Death of the Hero…

One of the more interesting aspects of living through a pop culture moment is that it is often quite hard to properly assess anything from that subjective vantage point.

It is too easy to assume that this moment is the most important moment in history, to suggest that the entirety of history has been a path leading to this moment or to the moment just beyond it. There is also a clear desire to find signal in the noise, to sift through the nearly impossible volume of data that threatens to overwhelm any filter and find a pattern. As such, it is always tempted to declare particular movies as the important to this particular moment, or to find trends when none actually exist.

At the same time, there is something to be said for trying to sift through contemporary pop culture and to observe trends. In particular, to see how those trends reflect back on the world in which those films were produced and the world in which they were released. In particular, one of the more interesting aspects of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi and Dunkirk is a clear and conscious shift away from the conventional heroic narrative inside genres traditionally associated with such grand epic themes.

At a point in time when the political right seems to veering closer and closer to fascism, it is particularly striking to have last year’s sweeping science-fiction epic and last year’s highest profile war film both consciously rejecting the politics of the “strong man” and the “chosen one.”

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The X-Files – Anasazi (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

Burn it.

– C.G.B. Spender, 16 April 1995

On alien soil...

On alien soil…

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X-Men: The End – Book Two: Heroes and Martyrs (Review/Retrospective)

This May, to celebrate the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men (and X-Men-related) comics. Check back daily for the latest review.

To describe Chris Claremont’s three six-part miniseries that comprise X-Men: The End as “convoluted” is to miss the point. Of course they are convoluted. Claremont is essentially writing a gigantic epilogue to his work on Uncanny X-Men. He is tidying away decades of continuity and offering a sense of closure to his work on these characters and their world. Claremont is an exceptional storyteller when it comes to long-form serialised storytelling.

As a writer, Claremont tends to layer interesting twists on top of interesting twists, with every resolution opening up more avenues for future stories to explore. He has demonstrated an ability to string along plots for decades, revisiting characters and situations years after most readers had forgotten about them. These are the qualities that make his Uncanny X-Men run so deeply fascinating, but they are also the qualities that make him a bit of an awkward fit for a concept like The End, an epic miniseries built around the idea of wrapping up the entire X-Men mythos.

Some things never go into fashion...

Some things never go into fashion…

However, what is so fascinating about X-Men: The End is that all of the elements that Claremont uses are the same elements that he has been playing with since he took over Uncanny X-Men. The story beats have a familiar pattern to them, the themes are familiar, the characters speak as they did in the years that Claremont wrote them. What is fascinating about X-Men: The End is the way that it serves to really set Claremont’s take on the X-Men in stone, treating the elements associated with Claremont as a truly inexorable part of the comic’s mythology.

X-Men: The End is very much a Chris Claremont comic, through-and-through. That’s what makes it feel like such a perfect fit.

A wing and a prayer...

A wing and a prayer…

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