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Stranger Things Season 4 Part 2 Finale Review (Spoiler-Free): Falling Down That Hill

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eleven and brenner argue about what to do in their secret lab

The season finale brings us to a Stranger Things series endgame, and though convenient plot armor preserves most character favorites, not everyone comes out unscathed.

Stranger Things was absolutely devastating. The finale for season 4 part 2 was one of the darkest stories ever told in the series. To see characters that fans have absolutely fallen in love with go through what happens in this finale was heartbreaking, as some of our favorites in Hawkins are the furthest thing from okay.

We’ve already covered Season 4 Part 1, but if you’d like a spoiler-filled review of Part 2, listen to the podcast where Josh and I break down all of this Stranger Things season. For a short review as to why you should probably watch this season right now, read on, as this is the prelude to the end all be all regarding the storylines of Stranger Things.

Now, this season doesn’t exactly end Happily Ever After. In many ways mimicking Avengers: Infinity War, this is a storyline that sees several plots converging simultaneously, with separate teams coming together to stop a great evil from destroying the world. But I’ll leave it at that regarding what happens.

Aesthetically, this finale does much to feel more like a movie and not a season of television. There’s a lot of detail in the shots and some of the panoramic views make you wonder how big of a Hollywood budget the show had gotten this time around. 

In comparison to other Netflix shows that are obviously shot in their CGI littered backlots, part 4 is the greatest visual marvel the series has brought up thus far, filled with richly detailed upside-down particles, gooey tentacle monsters, desert shots, and science-lab horror sequences.

Most of the final two episodes are the set-up against Vecna and the battle to come. It’s a bit everywhere and so I’m going to list the subplots moving along for just about every character (again, minus most spoilers).

Eleven encounters Doctor Brenner for a last Yoda-like training conflict that reveals some more about her and 01’s history. While this is happening, the military decides to close in right as time is running out making the moves needed to stop the evil monstrosity that is Vecna. As this is all very obviously the endgame.

Meanwhile, Robin and Steve (who’s very enamored with Nancy) try to spend a moment regarding their love lives while preparing for battle. Leading the Hawkin’s group is Nancy, who comes up with a master plan to take down Vecna once and for all.

I should stress that every single member of the cast plays a major part in this well-balanced ensemble. Dustin and Eddie actively choose to play support/ ‘not heroes’. Max takes the ultimate gamble in what’s easily the most talked-about arc of the season (if you’re looking to avoid spoilers specifically avoid Max spoilers). Lucas and Erica try to fend off the jocks in a storyline that feels awfully fitting of the times in a subtly uncomfortable yet not preachy statement about fitting in.

As for Jonathan and the California crew, their search for Eleven hits its conclusion and Hopper, Joyce, and the Russians reunite for a big battle of sorts.

There’s a lot going on this season and I’m impressed as it is all mostly good storylines woven together well in brief campy character moments. There is also a lot of fan service regarding romances and long-anticipated reunions, all of which balances the loads of horror thus far present throughout the season.

Still, there are definitely some who don’t do as much. The Byer’s children specifically. Will and Jonathan haven’t had all-that compelling of a story this season. Their speeches and brief moments in the second half should be noted as heartwarming highlights to part 2 but it’s still awfully short. 

Will’s story specifically has made many headlines in the media as of late as a (possibly) struggling person wanting to come out of the closet in the 1980s. We’ve seen hints of it in Part I but I think where fans are semi-annoyed is that he’s a little too passive of a character.

Whereas Robin—also a gay character—felt less nuanced and better-rounded, mostly, because I think we had gotten to know her better when expectations were high regarding her and Steve in season 3. Will’s flaw in the series is that when he’s not a tool or instrument for the Mindflayer plot… he is sadly, just not really doing much as a character.

Because it’s an ensemble showcasing inner motivations, almost everyone does a whole lot of excess talking in part 2 of the series. While I loved it, I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea, and many reviewers complained the finale was drawn out for far too long.

One thing that felt out of place was how the kids talk way too adult in this finale. It doesn’t feel like teen dialogue, and without getting into detail, the romantic love monologues felt heavy for a show mostly about children.

I also think the show might be relying too much on its laurels and formula. As a lot of what works about the season, when taking a step back, is an awful lot of repeats of things we’ve dealt with before… just on a bigger in scale (taking the bigger is better approach very literally).

All that being said, overall, I think the series was as fantastic as it was disturbing. It had most definitely sacrificed its 80s nostalgia kid-friendliness for some sheer horror and stories of consequences setting up for a grand bow out next year.

I think the only issue for folks (but not an issue for me) is that the show feels like a superhero movie. There is a formula to Stranger Things regarding who plays hero, who makes sacrifices, and who continues onward to tell their stories—so the series surprises aren’t feeling as, well, surprising anymore. 

This is not a criticism of the show. But rather, a critique on visual storytelling in media today. That because there’s just too much of everything lately, it all feels kind of predictable. And we’re losing creativity for the sake of preserving nostalgia and throwing said nostalgia on the line for the sake of conflict.

But honestly, given the unpredictability of the world today, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, it’s somewhat comforting knowing that things might be okay… if you can touch at the bad times.

I can’t say the same for the state of the world right now.

The Boys Season 3 Episode 7: “Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed” Review and Recap

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Here Comes a Candle Fun in the Forest

“Here Comes a Candle to Light You To Bed: Reveals Noir’s Shocking Past and Sets S3 Up for the Finale

As we near the finale of The Boys Season 3, we had some really standout moments in Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed. We learn a lot more about Soldier Boy, and what an utter bastard he truly is. Kimiko finally finds peace and makes an important decision. And perhaps most fascinating, we get a play-by-play of what really happened in his past to make Butcher what he is today.

The Boys 3.7 Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed Recap

Here Comes a Candle | Got Milk

Despite Starlight’s beautiful moment of speaking truth to power, Vought is already spinning it, mostly with the help of Ashley (the red-haired one) and Homelander. They’re calling her a druggie, a child trafficker, and much worse to distract from the impact her words would have otherwise had. As such, she spends most of the episode with M.M., Frenchie, and Kimiko, though she does eventually make her way to Vought for a critical mission.

Thanks to The Legend, we learn a lot more about Soldier Boy’s past, and the lies he tells about it. Most of his epic stories are totally fabricated. The only truth is that he’s a violent and ruthless bastard that’s too horny for his own good, as we learn when he’s moments away from making sweet, sweet love to a couple of much older women.

The latest name on Butcher’s hit list is Mindstorm, a powerful psychic Supe that’s also bipolar. That last tidbit helps Hughie track his location, which happens to be a cabin in the woods. Because nothing bad ever happens in those sorts of places. Regardless, Butcher, Hughie, and SB head after Mindstorm, and shit very quickly hits the fan. If Mindstorm makes eye contact, he can trap victims in an endless loop of their own nightmares. Butcher finds this out the hard way after a tripwire distracts him, and finds himself reliving his broken childhood, getting beaten by his father and trying in vain to protect his brother, Lenny. Hughie of course wants to save Butcher since he’ll die trapped in that state, but Soldier Boy has already given him up for dead.

If you were worried about Maeve, the good news is she’s still alive. The bad news is that she’s trapped in some facility under Homelander’s authority. He comes to interrogate her about where Butcher’s team is, and in the exchange, my earlier suspicion gets confirmed – Soldier Boy’s energy blasts remove the V from the Supes it hits, leaving them vanilla human again. Maeve is defiant and Homelander says something truly disgusting, threatening that he’ll harvest her eggs and use them to make his own children. The only thing that helps her stay calm and counter his abuse is when she notices he’s wearing concealer, and rightly guesses it’s hiding a bruise.

As for other members of The Seven, we get very abbreviated stories for both The Deep and A-Train. At this point, Deep is just comic relief, and though sometimes hilarious, he’s also feeling a bit stale. He tries to convince his cult wife to join him and an octopus for a threesome, and she’s not having it. Meanwhile, A-Train wakes up in a hospital bed in Vought’s care. Which sounds good, since he’s alive, but things take a nasty turn. It turns out he received a new heart from the recently deceased Blue Hawk. This is good for him, but it’s juxtaposed with Ashely being horrible and racist about A-Train’s upcoming movie, and it’s clear that A-Train is starting to question his life choices.

I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the adventures of Black Noir. While he was mostly on the sidelines after cutting out his tracking chip, he makes up for it in Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed. He’s lurking around a place called Buster Beavers, which is essentially Chuck E. Cheese. There, as he tries to eat beans in peace, he’s confronted by cartoons. It’s all in his head, but it’s still a glorious Roger Rabbit sequence. As the cartoons cajole him, we get a horrific cartoon vision of the way Soldier Boy conducted himself, and it is finally clarified who had SB kidnapped – a young Stan Edgar and the entirety of Payback. Unfortunately, Soldier Boy didn’t go quietly, and was directly responsible for the horrific damage done to Black Noir. But as the cartoons convince him, he can’t hide from Soldier Boy any longer, and I smell a confrontation coming in the finale.

Here Comes a Candle | Neuman

Hughie and Soldier Boy gradually make their way towards Mindstorm’s cabin, and find a pastor and nun on the side of the road. Hughie of course does the good thing, but Soldier Boy suddenly shoots the pastor through the head. Which seems extreme, until the nun jumps Hughie and tries to bite his throat out. Turns out, Mindstorm can also compel people psychically, and so a shaken Hughie and domineering Soldier Boy make their way even more cautiously to the cabin.

While Frenchie spends most of the episode higher than a kite, his keen eyes still spot something M.M. missed. He checks out the footage of the Russian scientists experimenting on Soldier Boy and realizes the gas isn’t halothane that subdued him. Instead, it’s a vapor delivery system for the deadly poison Novichok, which only knocks SB out. As for the girls, they spend some alone time drinking together, and Kimiko confides in Starlight that she’s ready to get her powers back. As such, she begs her to go and recover some V to get powered back up again.

As for everybody’s favorite psychotic superman, Homelander isn’t taking Starlight’s big moment well. He goes to a rally for candidate Singer, and starts ranting and raving about how horrible she is. Which of course is eaten up by the ignorant audience, and struck me as a particularly painful reminder of our current political climate. When he gets off stage, he decides to go and satisfy his milk fetish by milking a cow and then chugging a bucket of milk. Though he’s interrupted by Neuman, who wants to establish a transactional relationship with the dangerous madman.

Soldier Boy and Hughie make it to the cabin, and Hughie has the quick wit to teleport the Supe away to help Butcher. He doesn’t want to, but Hughie convinces him that he’ll make it worth his while and take him anywhere he wants afterward. As we delve back into Butcher’s psyche, it’s clear how Butcher started emulating his abusive father and eventually left his poor brother in the bastard’s care. This leads to his brother talking directly to Butcher and blaming him before blowing his own brains out, moments before Butcher is shaken awake.

Hughie is ready to make good on his deal with Mindstorm when Soldier Boy arrives and does some horrible damage to the psychic. As he’s beating him to death, Mindstorm whispers something to him, moments before he’s decapitated by SB’s shield.

The Boys 3.7 Verdict

Here Comes a Candle | Starlight Worried

There’s a lot of great stuff in Here Comes a Candle to Light You to Bed, but here are some of my highlights. M.M. discovers Todd took his daughter to a rally with Homelander and dispenses some much-needed justice to the idiotic stepdad. Kimiko finally comes to terms with her anxiety about her powers and reveals to Frenchie he’s her family before getting injected with another dose of V. Homelander confronts Starlight and threatens her, only for her to record and share the entire incident, shocking him silent.

Those are all great, but here are the most important moments. Annie discovers how dangerous the temporary V truly is, and how if Hughie or Butcher take another dose, they might be in mortal danger. Which she relays to Butcher, only for him to not say anything to poor, impressionable Hughie. And just when you think it’s over, Soldier Boy calls up Homelander and reveals what Mindstorm whispered to him. Namely, that SB is the sperm donor for Homelander. Which makes a shocking amount of sense, and sets the stage well for the finale. Overall another fantastic episode of The Boys that has me excited for next week!

Check Out A Stranger Things Dating App Meet-Up Before Volume 2 Drops Tonight

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Billy and Karen poolside in Stranger Things Season 3
PC: MPA/Netflix

We Interviewed Filteroff founder Zach Schleien, who talked with us about tonight’s Stranger Things-themed video dating event and how his application is changing the overall dating space.

Ever had a bad Tinder match whose face looked like a Demogorgon or whose personality was as empty as the vessel of a Mindflayed person? Well, you’re in luck, because tonight you can attend a digital date with fellow Stranger Things lovers who actually understood that reference. 

Look, today’s dating world is hard. Meeting people just isn’t the same anymore between the pandemic, moving friend circles, and ever-changing goals or career aspirations. This is why dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid, are hotter than ever before. 

Yet, with so many choices, photos, and profiles to sort through, wouldn’t it be nice to just meet someone quickly, from let’s say the convenience of your phone, in order to see if you’d like them? Better yet, maybe attend similar-themed events of special interest such as mutual love of a show about kids in the 80s solving nerdy mysteries before grabbing a drink at an event?

That is the beauty of Filteroff, a video-first online dating app where you can match with someone over video to talk about shared interests, make friends, and hopefully: build some chemistry. We interviewed founder Zach Schleien about Filteroff and tonight’s Stranger Things Event, which you can read more about below.

 

What Is Filteroff?

You Can Try Filteroff Right Now on the App Store. You can also click this link below before 8 pm EST today, if you’re interested in the Stranger Things Dating Event.

Hi, Zach thanks for being here. First, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Your background and how you created, Filteroff?

“So, growing up in Westchester NY, I was fascinated with building human connections. Online dating, this idea of meeting people outside your friend circle, was always super interesting to me. About 7-8 years ago (while online dating) I started asking dates if they’d be open to video chatting and noticed that the ones who agreed made all the difference in the world. 

Fast forward, and after having already built a few start-ups, I finally launched Filteroff just before the pandemic. What I noticed was once the pandemic hit, it became evident how important a platform this was, given how lonely people were feeling. In April of 2020 that’s when we took off and had even gotten coverage from NYT and BBC. Then in October of last year, we were able to raise 2.5 million and went full-time.”

 

Tell us about Filteroff and what makes It distinct from other dating apps?

“Filteroff is like dating in person but virtually. It’s a really authentic dating experience where you’re actually dating people and not profiles. That’s what sets us apart. What makes us distinct is our virtual speed dating and community events. 

How events work is that they’re theme-based events. It could be religious, or ethnic, or they could be fans of stranger things for example. What Filteroff does is it will schedule your dates so you can preview them beforehand. The photos are blurred intentionally, but you can learn about them beforehand their bios, and their little fun facts. 

Filteroff will schedule up to 10 video speed dates. You hop into your date on the app on the scheduled date, and each match lasts around 3 minutes of conversation. There are ice breaker games and at the end of the time it’ll ask if you like them or not. You then go on your next date. In the end, you can see if there are any matches and you can message or video call them.”

 

On your page, it says Filteroff is the first video-focused dating app. Why the emphasis on video specifically? 

“There’s lots of apps that incorporate video nowadays. What makes us unique we’re Video first. When people use our app they’re not just using it to swipe a hundred people, they’re using it to find their community. Whether it’s finding a dog-lover community to find other people who love dogs, or in this case, finding people that enjoy a TV show. 

It’s really finding like-minded people that sets us apart. When you’re on other apps you are swiping, you don’t necessarily think: let me video with this person. This changes that for a more human experience.”

 

I was invited to do a Stranger Things-Themed speed dating event tonight. Can you tell us about Filteroff’s special speed Dating Events? 

“So we do all sorts of ethnic events such as a Jewish date night, a divorced and widowed singles date night, and a black singles date night. Besides virtual, we also host in-person events in NYC focused on a theme. We had a South Asian date night where we had over 300 people looking ti mingle, and next month, we’re doing a tech lovers yacht party singles event on July 3rd. We’ve been hosting events every week in NYC. Though the app is available globally, our focus for our in-person dating events is just NYC for now.”

 

 

Follow-Up second question. Can you tell folks what the Stranger Things event will be like? If I match with Vecna I might die a little bit on the inside.

“Haha. It comes down to what you think is gonna happen in July and the conversations had while talking about your favorite characters. What it comes down to for any event is this: if you meet someone you really vibe with, there is a likelihood you’ll go on another video date, maybe even watch volume 2 together. That’s sort of our goal. To get people to meet up in person and more.”

 

Alright then, so for those using the app for the first time, how would you think people find success in matching with the right person on Filteroff?

“A lot of our users have never used dating apps before, or really, just hate other dating apps out there and use Filteroff because they genuinely want to meet people. One of the things we often hear is, “I’m really nervous to get on a video date.” It really comes down to if you’d rather go on a 3 minute video date versus going out to a bar for an hour to risk having a horrible experience. 

Because anything you do that brings you outside of your comfort zone may feel uncomfortable, that’s when you know you’re doing something that may be beneficial to your life. You take the chance. 

We’ve actually had people who’d got married off a Filteroff match. So whether you’re looking for something casual or something serious, what filter off brings is the ability to connect with humans in a quick and efficient way. So jump on, ask questions, it’s okay not to say the right thing because when it comes to dating, it’s really all about vibe and chemistry.”

 

Do you have any favorite events you’ve done in the past few years?

“When you work with communities its very special. We had a 420 event for cannabis lovers that was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. We were actually able to showcase a new ‘Dank Dust’ marijuana-like beer for the first time in NYC and it was really cool bringing 270 singles together. For more recent events, we also offered a virtual video experience right before a meeting for the in-person one, and some folks on the app were able to attend with their online matches.”

 

Are there any special launches, occasions, or events you’re planning on this year?

“We have some awesome upcoming events on the app. We have this Love Boat yacht party on July 3rd with an afterparty on the Serafina Rooftop in NYC at 11. Then on July 14th, we have a singles-professionals open beer bar at Contra Lounge. On July 21st, we partnered with Stella Artois and are doing a Gatsby single masquerade party with an open Stella bar for the first hour. We partnered with a large NYC creator, Rebeka @ NYC For Free.”

 

Awesome. Finally, where can people try Filteroff for the first time?

“Filteroff.com or on your Android or Apple app store. It’s free to use and easy for people to start matching and meeting with humans and not profiles. 

One other thing to share, if you’re a community, you can even create your own virtual speaking event within the Filteroff app. You can make it private, keep it in your community, and even sell tickets on the Filteroff platform. So if you run a discord community, Facebook group, or subreddit, you can host meetups about your interests.”

 

Discretion: Neither Netflix nor Stranger Things holds any personal relationship, affiliation, or ties with the Filteroff Application. This event is for a casual meet-up for Stranger Things fans and people seeking to date. This interview serves the sole purpose of talking about the Filteroff app only.

The Umbrella Academy Season 3 Review

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The Umbrella Academy Returns For a Much More Enjoyable Season in An Altered Timeline

I was a pretty big fan of the original season of The Umbrella Academy. And I wasn’t alone in feeling that it was a pretty remarkably entertaining little show. Then we got Season 2, and I like many others felt it was a step backward (not just in time, either). So I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the third season of Netflix’s zany superhero comedic drama. But rest assured, if you’re a fan of Reginald Hargreeve’s dysfunctional little family, you’ll find something to love in Season 3.

Before we begin in earnest, a quick disclaimer. I don’t normally cover an entire season of episodes in one review. But since that’s the plan here, I’m gonna have to touch on some spoiler territory. I will do my best to avoid the biggest reveals, but if you’re someone that wants to remain completely unspoiled, you’ve been warned.

Umbrella Academy Season 3 | Footloose

At the beginning of Season 3, our Umbrella Academy warps back to the present only to discover someone else is living in their home. As expected, this is due to the time travel craziness from Season 2, and the law of unintended consequences. While there were legitimate complaints last season about why the team would be stupid enough to mess with history, I find it’s totally in character for them. This isn’t a disciplined team of heroes, they’re all broken children that somehow work as a family. So of course they leave a trail of devastation in their wake.

Umbrella Academy Season 3 | Sparrows

The new team of superheroes is known as the Sparrows, and they were also trained by Hargreeves and Pogo. Unlike the Academy, they’re much more proficient at using their powers as a team, to deadly effect. Also unlike Umbrella, many of the Sparrows are more outwardly monstrous. Sure, Luther is a giant monkey man, but the Sparrows have some truly freaky members. One is a blind woman that summons ravens from her flesh and can see through their beady eyes. Another is essentially a walking Voodoo doll. The damage dealt to him, though it visibly wounds him, is mostly redirected to his opponents. Another named Jayme secretes a toxic compound she spits at foes, rendering them perplexed by visions of their fondest desires. And then there’s Christopher, a floating cube that can emit dangerous energy and speaks in gibberish.

While Klaus may have been mourning the loss of Ben’s ghost, he now has a new problem in a flesh and blood Sparrow named Ben. And yes, it’s the exact same person, just from an altered timeline. He’s meaner and much more manipulative than Klaus’ spectral sidekick. At first he’s portrayed in such a way I wondered if he’d be the big villain of the season, but he manages to showcase some appreciated nuance as Season 3 edges closer to the finale.

After an amazing musical number and epic fight sequence, our Umbrellas have their butts handed to them and leave with tails between their legs. The only reason they’re not utterly thrashed is that Vanya unleashes a blast of energy that KOs several of the Sparrows, and buys them some breathing room. They then find refuge in one of Klaus’ hangouts, a seedy place called Hotel Obsidian. And if you’re a fan of the Dark Horse comics like myself, you’re right to be suspicious of that title. But that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

Umbrella Academy Season 3 | Trouble

One of my favorite things about Umbrella Academy Season 3 is that the team isn’t entirely responsible for the new apocalypse that comes a knocking. Yes, they are tangentially responsible, but not directly. Better yet, they mostly manage to save the day a few episodes before the finale, only to find things quickly get exponentially worse. But as a fan that started to get frustrated with how the Umbrellas were their own worst enemies, I appreciated them not being the sole source of their problems.

Another great thing about this season is that the team gets to interact with each other and go on zany missions. Which is far better than them all being separated for most of the season and then finding each other again, as in Season 2. I feel that when shows splits characters apart for no good reason, it hurts the immersion and I often forget why certain things matter. Whereas if they’re all together, they don’t have to extend the plot in awkward ways.

Umbrella Academy Season 3 | Siblings
Haircuts for everyone!

Speaking of which, here are some of the season’s highlights. Vanya decides to embrace the person she became last season and gets a haircut before changing her name to Viktor. Rather than this feeling out of place, many of Viktor’s family members embrace the change and treat their new brother with kindness and understanding. Klaus also comes to an odd understanding with Reginald and learns the true extent of his necromantic powers. Lila pops in and drops a 12-year-old boy on Diego’s lap, telling him it’s their child. And despite being confused at first, he and Stanley gradually start to bond. There’s even an amazing scene between Stan and Uncle Klaus, that admittedly ends pretty badly for the latter.

Umbrella Academy Season 3 | Stanley

It’s not all hugs and kittens, though. Allison finds that their alteration of the timeline resulted in her daughter Claire being wiped from existence. On top of losing her love Ray, this shatters the once compassionate and understanding sister and leaves something far more dangerous in her wake. We also find that the Sparrows are constantly drugging dear old dad, and making use of Reginald’s prodigious wealth to fund their crusade against crime. Worse, they seem more intent on getting applause than doing their job for the right reasons. Oh and “mother” Grace goes completely and shockingly insane this season and starts doing some highly questionable things.

Five and Lila also come to an awkward understanding and travel into the future to discover a solution to their new problem. There, they discover how bad things are getting, and realize some incredible truths about Five himself. We also are reintroduced to a character from Season 2 in a truly dramatic fashion. Oh and Luther finally makes a love connection with a member of the Sparrows. And while I wasn’t sure how I felt at first, they make an oddly sweet couple that I found myself rooting for.

Umbrella Academy Season 3 | Overmatched

By the end of Season 3, The Umbrella Academy treads new ground and somehow manages to save the day. And just when we start to breathe a sigh of relief, a totally new problem casts their future in an uncertain light. Overall, I was really happy with this season of the show, and feel it returned us to the greatness of the first season. Here’s hoping Netflix feels the same and gives us at least one more season of this crazy superhero dramedy.

The Latest ‘Marvel’s Voices: Young Avengers #5’ Is Available Now

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Iron Lad Featured On The Young Avengers #5 Cover Infinity Comic
PC: Marvel Unlimited

The World Outside Your Window Takes A Look At Marvel Voices Written By Pop-Critic Anthony Oliveira

Officially making its official debut today, Marvel’s Voices: Young Avengers #5 has launched on Marvel Unlimited. This epic vertical comic about The Young Avengers is written by pop culture critic Anthony Oliveira and crafted by up-and-coming Marvel artist Jethro Morales!

Young Avengers #5 kicks off with Iron Lad, AKA Nathaniel Richards, who is in a final standoff against Kristoff Vernard, AKA the new Victor Von Doom. The two youths battle against one another for a very powerful artifact featured in the Marvel universe. One Whose ability to reshape reality makes it so that it must not fall into the wrong hands.

Young Avengers Team on Marvel Voices #5

“I have been reading Young Avengers since the very first week it came out! I remember in those early days thinking it was impossible that what seemed to be happening with Wiccan and Hulkling was actually happening – Queer people like us just weren’t shown in comics or on TV. I’ve been hooked ever since, and continuing the story of these characters I once looked up to is a dream come true,” said Anthony Oliveira in an interview with Marvel about getting the chance to write Young Avengers.

This six-part series will feature issues dedicated to each of the Young Avengers. According to Oliveira, the story will focus on themes about what power cannot do, but what forgiveness, can. Starting in space, the artwork for Young Avengers #5 features very vibrant colors set in a free-flowing galaxy that fits perfect for the infinity comics format.

“One thing that really excited me too was the form of the Infinity Comic; what happens when there is no page-turn, but an endless trajectory towards some final point?” said Oliveira regarding their utilization of vertical comics. “That really informed the superstructure of the story on a thematic as well as formal level: What if something wonderful and powerful and terrifying were hurtling ever downward, across space and time, towards a destination as uncertain as it is inevitable?”

Artist Jethro Morales replied, “Fans can expect a lot of heartfelt moments with tons of action and fun in every panel and page throughout this arc. And as one of the artists, I gave it all to the best of my abilities to convey visually all the emotions and excitement masterfully written by Anthony that I hope the fans would appreciate.”

 

MARVEL’S VOICES: YOUNG AVENGERS #5 

Iron Lad on the cover of Marvel Voices: Young Avengers #5
New issues available weekly only on the Marvel Unlimited App.

This Young Avengers run is written by National Magazine and GLAAD award-winning author Anthony Oliveira. It is pencilled and inked by artist Jethro Morales and colored by a combination of Yen Nitro and Dijjo Lima for issue #2. The issue is lettered by Ariana Maher with edits by Sarah Brunstad.

The issue is also dedicated to the late colorist Dijjo Lima. Who passed away far too soon.

 

New X-Men Unlimited Issue ‘Birthday Side Quest’ Celebrates Jubilee’s Birthday

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the cover art to the birthday side quest of X-Men Unlimited

A Jubilee Birthday Side Quest Gone Bonkers, This Issue Is Filled With Nerdy Larping and Action

A new drop over on Marvel Unlimited, the latest issue of X-Men Unlimited #41 celebrates Jubilee’s birthday! In Birthday Side Quest, fans of the series can check out how one of our favorite fire-cracking X-Men celebrates her special day!

The premise of this special one-shot is that the excitingly jubilant Jubilee goes out with her friends to attend a LARPing-themed dungeon escape room. A fun escape, if it weren’t for them being caught by sinister characters that be, who aren’t too thrilled about mutants of any kind around their premises.

Celebrating Jubilee’s birthday is the mutant Generation X team. A supportive gang of friends who, while not exactly into LARPing in the same ways as Jubilee, still decided to support their fellow hero. But while Jubilee questions if this is really what she is, who she wants to be, and where her friendships are going, this fantasy-themed escape room turns into a nightmare. As those behind the scenes are seeking to exterminate these mutants.

Can the team band together to get out with their lives? More importantly, will they make their rendezvous with their friends at the bar in time?

The series has just launched today in the Marvel Infinity Comics format. It is created by written, drawn, and colored by the talented Jason Loo and features edits by Lauren Amaro.

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Episode 6 Review: Goodbye, There

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Obi-Wan in an aggressive Style in Part 6 of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus

We Take A Look At The Season Finale of Obi-Wan with a Part 6 Review

The Obi-Wan Kenobi season finale Rotten Tomatoes score is sitting at a 76% fresh rating. Loved or hated it, Kenobi is one of the most talked-about Star Wars series since The Mandalorian, and is also, the most-watched TV series ever in the history of Disney+

Like many other critics, I was mixed about the series. I praised the first two episodes for their portrayal of young princess Leia, along with the show’s ruthless depiction of the headhunting inquisitors – villains taken from Star Wars: Rebels and Jedi Fallen Order. However, the duel between Vader and Obi-Wan left me skeptical, as I wasn’t sure if the series was closer to prequel or original trilogies. 

Having last week’s resolutions, along with seeing this week’s climax, it’s clear now that the series is going for neither trilogy. Instead, this is the closest to a live-action depiction of Star Wars Clone Wars and Rebels. This makes sense given how much Dave Filoni, the Clone Wars TV series creator, and his influence have revitalized the Star Wars franchise.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Last week’s episodes episode brought back the storyline together, showing us the beginnings of what’s likely going to be a part of the rebel alliance, along with a flashback revelation linking back to Reva’s history as a Padawan of trauma. A survivor of Anakin and Order 66’s Jedi purge

In the finale, we see Reva return to Tatooine to kill Luke. Which doesn’t make a lot of logical sense, save for the fact that this is a woman who’d lost everything but still wanted her revenge. Taking it out on Anakin Skywalker’s children would be poetic vengeance for her given that he’d murdered her family and nearly herself, as a child. 

While some fans didn’t like this story, I absolutely thought it was perfect. Reva had gone from a reviled inquisitor, to failed coup d’etat executioner in her attempt to kill Vader, and finally, became someone who couldn’t kill child Luke Skywalker out of vengeance. Her full-story arc is one of redemption complete. Showing us that, much like Vader’s story with Luke, there is hope for anyone to go back towards the light. 

We also get some epic standoff moments as a result, featuring Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, who pull out some guns to wield some serious firepower to hold off against Reva. It’s refreshing to see Star Wars continuously surprise us, giving depth to two characters that until now, really never were developed outside of just being Luke’s adopted parents.

Speaking of which, in terms of retcons of the original series, Obi-Wan and Leia’s goodbye makes us rethink everything about the two. It’s going to be hard every time we see Luke in training to not wonder if Obi-Wan is secretly thinking: I should have trained the girl. 

Obi-Wan mentioning who Leia’s parents are to her–and really, giving us the prequel trilogy closure he’d never gotten with Luke–was a fitting way to bridge the emotional gap of the original and prequel series. It sort of puts the final word in that Anakin and Padme existed, meant something, and that Leia: was their legacy. All for a sentimental ending.

 

The Final Duel Between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader

(L-R): Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) in Lucasfilm’s OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

Since the original Attack Of The Clones film, there have been just an endless amount of Anakin and Obi-Wan tropes, stories, and memes all dedicated to this relationship and their inevitable battle against each other. Which we thought would culminate in the duel on Mustafar, but has since then, sort of expanded into its own lore of its own–as this series sort of represents.

There is a moment in the cargo hold in the finale, where Roken makes a spot-on comment to Obi-Wan about why this series exists: This is about Obi-Wan and Vader. The entire point of the show seems to be a further elaboration of what happened between these two brothers.

Suffice to say, the best part of the finale is the duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan. Because, in an attempt to steer the Sith Lord away from the refugees, the Jedi Master leads his former pupil into a trap for a rematch. What happens is nothing shy of phenomenal. 

The battle is an homage to every type of lightsaber battle in franchise history, flashy, yet still, somehow grounded in foundations with more utilization of The Force. Vader tries to overwhelm his master using his sheer power and even almost buries him alive. 

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan, now fully reconnected to The Force, uses a rock levitation technique (think of how many times do Jedi lift rocks in this universe) that barrages his old apprentice until he finds a vulnerability and makes an Ataru-driven leaping strike. So that in the end, Ben’s untraditional offensive is able to attain a few lightsaber slashes in and cuts through Vader’s mask ending their duel.

What I think everyone loves about this moment is this isn’t an empty duel, but rather, a highly emotional and powerful moment reminiscent of some of the best Vader scenes. Below that robotic exterior face mask, we finally see Hayden Christensen, scarred and beaten in an outright callback to Ahsoka’s battle with Vader in Rebels.

What’s beautifully tragic is in seeing Anakin/Vader admit to Obi-Wan that he wasn’t his failure. Rather, in a cynical and diabolical grinning way, it was he himself who murdered Anakin Skywalker. Effectively replacing him with Darth Vader. To which Obi-Wan responds that, “His friend is truly dead.”

For Star Wars fans this is a major moment as it sort of forgives Obi-Wan for lying to us in the original series: as Vader killing Anakin wasn’t a lie, but rather, an admission from Darth Vader himself. 

It’s sad… and beautiful in a way that wraps Vader’s transformation into evil that the prequel trilogies just never fully pulled off until now.

 

The Take

I love the show but I know fans were upset because in the end, this was definitely more prequel trilogy than original in terms of where it’s story pulled from, and of course, those epic lightsaber duels.

I also acknowledge fans were upset over Reva, partially due to racism, but also, because they thought that she was underdeveloped an strangely motivated. Criticisms to which I say: well, did you see the sequel trilogies? Or for that matter… Read about the tale of Darth Jar Jar? Because that would’ve been a better storyline than most that we’ve gotten in Star Wars.

I like this show even if it was unnecessary because guess what? None of entertainment is necessary. It’s a distraction and a way to inspire us and take us away from the bad (and there is a lot of bad right now), if only for a moment.

I remember reading a Rolling Stone article when I was 17 about how Revenge of The Sith was meant to be the end of Star Wars, as it was the last of the franchise and the end of the series. That we could finally move on…

Yet here we are, reminiscing and recontextualizing the entire finale. On top of expanding on that finale with sequel movies and even more sequel movies, expanded universe storylines, and even a retcon of all Star Wars: Legacy. 

Much like Marvel, Star Wars has become a corporate Empire and a plethora of stories. A bad thing if you only look at it from a corporations are evil perspective, a la series like, The Boys, but also, a good thing, if you look into how these stories give us hope. 

I see a next generation of kids who love New Star Wars, much like how I, guiltily, semi-loved those prequel movies. I also, see cynics and criticism often coming from my millennial generation, in a way that… feels awfully similar to how adults used to criticize the things I enjoyed as a kid. 

Fiction evolves. Stories continue. Nostalgia becomes a beautiful fondness of moments, never lost, so long as they continue to inspire! New ideas. New approaches. Ways to not stay stuck in the darkness of outdated thought.

Obi-Wan as a series encompasses these themes. So that one day, before we’re all dead and Force ghosts, we can leave behind a legacy of sorts and inspire: A New Hope.

The Boys Season 3 Episode 6: Herogasm Review and Recap

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Everybody Get Horny, Cause Herogasm is Finally Here With a Crazy and Consequential Episode

I’ve been excited and terrified about covering the latest episode of The Boys, titled Herogasm, for a while. For one thing, it was a giant insane event in the comics. And while the episode is more than a bit different, it also culminates (I’m sorry) in a gigantic orgy that devolves into a superpowered battle royale. There are lots of fluids, blood, and otherwise on constant display. So while I promised last week that I would avoid most spoilers, I’m also not working to gross anybody out with explicit details. As usual, I’ll focus on the major arcs in this episode, and where it takes us.

The Boys 3.6 Herogasm Recap

Herogasm | Team Up

It all begins with a commercial showing Deep being philosophical. This is never a good idea, but then they bring in a bunch of cameos all singing Imagine, including two of my favorites, Patton Oswalt and Kumail Nanjiani. But don’t expect a ton more levity from Herogasm, cause it only gets darker and raunchier from here.

In the aftermath of Soldier Boy’s murder of Crimson Countess, Homelander and the rest of The Seven are trying to catch up. Homelander works with Deep and Ashley to analyze footage showing that Soldier Boy was doing bad things to his former love interest. And despite some amazing banter between Deep and Ashley, the takeaway is that Homelander is starting to spiral. He sees his grip on controlling the narrative slipping, and with it, his confidence is ebbing in significant ways. It also probably doesn’t help that at the very start, Black Noir goes rogue. He walks into an elevator, cuts out his tracking chip, and leaves. I would love to tell you where he went, but he’s not in the rest of the episode. This likely means he’ll cause some havoc in the last couple of episodes of season 3.

If like me, you’re a fan of the acting of Jensen Ackles, you’re in for a treat. He gets a lot more screen time here and shows off the comical yet obnoxious range he was known for as Dean in Supernatural. Sure, he’s a lot more racist and sexist as Soldier Boy, but he’s still very entertaining. He’s gobbling down burgers, junk food, pills, and booze with Hughie and Butcher in a motel room. They try and impress upon him the need to work together. He’s obviously hesitant since his last team sold him to Russia, but then Hughie helps him realize that his extended captivity means he needs extra help finding his former Payback teammates. My favorite exchange is when Hughie tells him about things like Bluetooth, GPS, and Internet and SB replies “you just made all those words up, didn’t you?”

Eventually, they convince Soldier Boy to work with them. They’ll help him find and kill Payback, and he’ll help them kill Homelander. This seems like a fair trade, other than the fact they’re working with a homicidal Supe. There’s a lot of moral grey in this episode, and it becomes clear Hughie and Butcher are willing to do whatever is necessary to get what they want.

Kimiko starts with a touching scene. She’s in the hospital and is drafting and deleting texts to Frenchie, who she doesn’t realize has been kidnapped. It’s clear she worries her kiss scared him away, and I can’t help but feel for the woman. Then things get complicated, and a powerless Kimiko gets kidnapped by one of Nina’s goons.

It’s clear M.M. is done with Butcher’s nonsense, and he’s tired of always taking the high road. Annie reminds him that they are all they’ve got and that Homelander is growing in power and influence. When Annie asks about his OCD, we finally learn about his problem with Soldier Boy. He reveals he grew up in a brownstone with his extended family and one night Soldier Boy arrived to stop thugs stealing a Mercedes Benz. Instead of stopping them, he hurls it through the house, killing M.M.’s grandfather in the process. This is also incidentally a part of why M.M. has OCD. It’s a horrible reminder of all the damage Supes can do.

Homelander has a really disturbing scene where he’s talking to his reflection in a mirror. It’s clear he may have some dissociative identity disorder, or something worse. This is a nod to the comics, though in that series there were actually two different Homelanders. Here, it seems he’s just psychotic, and the version in the mirror is the Homelander we usually see. The racist, sexist, golden ubermensch. The one on the other side is a sad and lonely little boy that still has a flicker of humanity, but it may not be long for this world. Things then get worse when he and Starlight are on a talk show and start getting questions he doesn’t want to answer. He shows how infantile and incompetent he is, despite his monumental powers. Homelander is in no way a leader, just a superpowered bully.

Herogasm | Aftermath

As for A-Train, he almost does what I’ve been hoping he would. He confronts Ashley about Blue Hawk, though she turns things around by reminding him of all the murders and collateral damage he’s responsible for. Later on, he even gives an actual apology to Hughie for killing Robin. But when all is said and done, he takes the bloody road to get justice for his brother and pays the consequences.

In a shocking moment, Neuman pulls Annie aside and shares that she knows Hughie discovered her powers. Annie immediately gets ready to fight, but apparently, Neuman isn’t interested in popping her noggin. Instead, she wants to use Starlight’s popularity to boost her own ratings and promises to protect her from Homelander. Thankfully, Annie stays true to herself and basically tells Neuman and anybody else willing to compromise their ideals to go fuck off.

Herogasm | Just Us Girls

When Kimiko wakes up, it’s chained to a chair next to Cherie. Poor, naked Frenchie is brought in by Little Nina. She wants him to decide which of the women lives, and if he won’t pick, she’ll kill both. It looks really bad for everyone, but even without powers, Kimiko kicks ass. She picks the lock on her cuffs and manages to take out both guards in a brutal fashion. It’s no exaggeration she saves everyone’s life, but in the process realizes that even without powers, she’s capable of monstrous acts of violence.

But now it’s time for the main event. The Herogasm is an annual sex party, and this year it’s being hosted by members of Payback, the TNT Twins. They’re a gross pair, but Soldier Boy is coming for them, and unbeknownst to him, so is Homelander. The latter is trying to keep the narrative going his way, and he can only do that by killing the ancient Supe.

Even though the Herogasm portion of the episode only lasts about half an hour, what a half hour it is. Poor M.M. has a really bad time and gets every sort of unfortunate liquid all over his jacket. He’s also reunited with the guy that has a tentacle penis from season 2, much to his chagrin. There are a ton of sex workers and idiotic superheroes involved in all sorts of sex acts, and it is equal parts fascinating and horrible. There’s electric nipple clamps, flaming genitalia and the like. If you’re easily offended, this is definitely not your episode.

My favorite part of Herogasm is how both M.M. and Butcher both comment that it’s a shame Frenchie wasn’t there to see the event. He’s been a fan for years and would have loved to attend. As for Annie, she walks into a room with the Deep getting a BJ from an octopus, and manages to snap a photo for posterity.

Hughie tries his best to avoid collateral damage, and teleports in to locate the Twins so nobody else has to die. Soldier Boy gives him a few minutes, but not much. Even though SB sees himself as a hero, he also thinks anybody he kills has it coming. Worse, he admits that he blacked out when he blew up midtown. So it’s clear he doesn’t have complete control over his shocking new powers.

Poor Hughie is wandering around Herogasm totally naked, and getting some lusty looks and disturbing offers from Supes. When he finds Annie there, he has the presence of mind to teleport them both out, which turns out to be very timely. Unfortunately, she is losing respect for Hughie and realizes his need to protect her is just who he is, and not a result of the temporary V.

Like any good superhero show, it all ends with some epic fight scenes. M.M. tries to get payback on Soldier Boy and uses a halothane grenade to subdue Soldier Boy, since that worked for the Russians. It doesn’t work anymore, and Butcher’s timely intervention likely saves M.M. from being vaporized. In thanks, an angry M.M. tries his damndest to beat some sense into Butcher with a baseball bat, to little effect.

Then Soldier Boy arrives, and quickly finds the Twins. They try and use their joint powers to fight back, but then some Russian music plays, and SB loses control once more. He not only vaporizes the Twins but levels most of the house in the process. And then Homelander flies in. There’s an amazing fight sequence that involves him, Butcher, Soldier Boy, and Hughie, and they nearly get the job done. Sadly, the super bigot manages to fly away in cowardice before SB can blast him.

The Boys 3.6 Verdict

Herogasm | Almost

It might be hard to believe, but the most epic moment in the entire episode comes after the big fight. And it doesn’t involve any bloodshed, just some painful truth told in a scene of shocking bravery. With M.M. filming her, Annie uses her popularity and platform to tell all her followers the truth about the so-called heroes. And then she officially quits her role in The Seven as Starlight.

While Herogasm wasn’t quite as raunchy as I was fearing, it still wound up being an epic episode. I’m glad Annie finally found the courage to do what so few have, and hope they find a way to stop Homelander, even if they can’t kill him. Another tremendous episode of The Boys Season 3.

Jurassic World: Dominion Review

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Dominion Spells the End of the Jurassic Park Franchise, But Things End on a High Note

I wasn’t originally planning on reviewing the new Jurassic World movie. Even though I grew up with Jurassic Park, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the final entry in the long running series. But then I found a free moment to go watch Jurassic World: Dominion, and I actually really enjoyed it. So here’s my musings on the film, and some reasons why I feel you should all go watch the movie.

Jurassic World: Dominion | Birdies

One thing that I clearly remember from the original Jurassic Park was the overwhelming sense of wonder. Not only because of the graphics, but just the fascinating science fiction concept brought to marvelous life. Sure, the series is about violent dinosaur mayhem, but it’s also about watching humans connect with a previously extinct species. And as a gigantic fan of science fiction and fantasy stories, that’s a key facet that not all of the Jurassic films has remembered to focus on. Thankfully, Jurassic World: Dominion manages to incorporate moments of wonder amidst moments of pure terror.

Pratt’s Owen and Howard’s Claire finally got past all their sexual tension and are living together off the grid in a remote cabin. The only factor getting in the way of Owen constantly showing off his “dinosaur handling moves” is the fact they also have living with them a teenage girl. Yes, Maisie from the last film is essentially their adoptive daughter, her complex genetic heritage aside. They’re doing their best to not only protect Maisie from those that would exploit her but also raising her as their child. Which is admirable, but there’s only so much you can do to wrangle a teenager.

Jurassic World: Dominion | Giddyup
He totally stole this move from Hiccup.

Luckily, Owen is still a badass, and he’s much better at wrangling dinosaurs than humans. In the aftermath of Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs are roaming freely, and it’s complicated the global ecosystem. Not as much as I might have expected, but enough that the news is regularly covering dinosaur attacks. One factor that has aided in calming the situation is a new company called Biosyn. They’re taking dinosaurs to a compound and letting them be wild, while using their genetics to develop new technologies. And as any fan of sci-fi should suspect, they’re up to no good.

To my surprise, Dominion brings in the returning cast members pretty quickly. At first, they’re on a side track, but they seamlessly manage to weave them together. Ellie discovers gigantic locusts with spliced prehistoric genes, and then realizes that the only crops they’re not devouring are those developed by Biosyn. This leads to her reconnecting with Alan Grant and getting an invite to Biosyn from their new resident philosopher, one Ian Malcom played by the fantastic Jeff Goldblum.

Jurassic World: Dominion | The Team

Meanwhile, Maisie and Blue’s infant velociraptor, nicknamed Beta, both get kidnapped and brought to Biosyn. This draws in Owen and Claire, but first they have a bit of a Bourne sequence. They go with Barry to Malta to intercept the kidnappers, and things get out of hand. There’s a criminal mastermind named Santos, played well by Dichen Lachman, and she not only traffics in dinosaurs, but also in humans. Worse, she found a way to command a nasty breed of raptor, and aim them at specific targets. Which leads to the scene you’ve probably seen in commercials several times, but rest assured, the entire thing is much better than you can imagine. There’s lots of fights, extended chase scenes and it’s also where they introduce another great new character named Kayla. She’s a pilot that has been working on shady, underground dealings, but when she sees Maisie being forced into a car her conscience starts to flare up.

Jurassic World: Dominion | Maisie

My only real complaint with the movie is when Alan and Ellie are at Biosyn, trying to find proof of the company’s hand in modifying the locusts, when the movie throws a curveball. Earlier it was very directly implied that Biosyn was developing the locusts for the sole purpose of controlling the global food supply, but then they intimate that it was an accident that they’re trying desperately to fix. Those two ideas cannot coexist, and I really wish the earlier implication had borne out. Luckily, the one thing that remains from that idea is that of a dangerous corporate billionaire. The head of Biosyn is like the love child of Zuckerberg, Jobs and Musk, and while he seems awkward and boring at first, he’s nevertheless devious and utterly lacking in scruples.

By far one of my favorite parts of the movie, especially the Biosyn segment, is when they introduce Ian Malcom. I’ve never seen Goldblum more extra, and it was amazing. He has slicked back hair, his trademark glasses and a leather jacket. Better yet, it’s clear many of his students are hot for teacher, which is all sorts of hilarious. Fret not, though, because he’s not just a comic foil in Jurassic Park: Dominion. Most of the time he is, but he also has a brief action movie moment that justifies those lusty looks he was getting in class.

Jurassic World: Dominion | Kayla

I won’t ruin all the big moments of the movie, but rest assured there’s tons of amazing action sequences and memorable dinosaurs. Honestly I think Dominion has the most dinosaur species of any of the movies, but the ones that really stayed with me were the avian-themed creatures. There’s one that looks like a gigantic bird mixed with a sloth, and it’s utterly terrifying. Not least of all because it’s actively hunting Claire. They also throw in a dino larger than T-Rex, a Giganotosaurus. It’s closer to Godzilla than a T-Rex, and one day if we’re really unlucky they’ll start popping up in Florida’s contaminated waters. But as far as the movie goes, it was a great apex predator.

Jurassic World: Dominion | Blue and Beta

Also, there’s a TON of raptors in Dominion. Blue gets lots of screen time early on, but they then introduce what feels like at least 2 new raptor species, including one that dives under icy waters to chomp on Owen and Kayla. While part of me may have wanted more gigantic predators, there’s no lack of diversity here. Even the flying species are powerful and fierce, and it’s clear to me an Earth full of dinosaurs is one where it’s not safe to live. At least not as a human.

Jurassic Park: Dominion is full of emotional moments and I personally loved seeing how they brought the old and new cast members together, especially the completely new characters. It’s hard to believe that this is the last movie in a series that’s been around since 1993. But at least it was able to go out with a bang, as I feel this is the best movie since the original. If you’re a fan of the Jurassic movies or just enjoy sci-fi mayhem, I’d see this one on the big screen.

Jurassic World: Dominion | Fish Food

The Boys Season 3 Episode 5: The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies Review and Recap

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The Boys Season 3 Episode 5: The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies Review

The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies Has Some Great Moments, But Not Enough to Ignore Rough Spots

There’s some things I really liked about the latest episode of The Boys, called The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies. We get to see more of Jensen’s range playing Soldier Boy; Kimiko gets a random musical moment that’s both charming and heartwarming; and we get a hint that maybe, just maybe, something is finally gonna push A-Train to act like the hero he’s pretended to be for years. But there’s also some stuff that really irritated me. Things that other superhero shows are also guilty of doing, but still shouldn’t happen. Also, since this episode brings things close to the final arc of this season, we won’t be hiding from many spoilers anymore. So with that in mind, let’s talk about The Boys Season 3 Episode 5.

The Boys 3.5 The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies Recap

The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies | Musical Moment

The good news is, that Kimiko isn’t dead after the shocking injury dealt to her at the end of the last episode. The bad news is that she’s still not healing like she used to. This brings me to one of my complaints about The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies – they never address the elephant in the room. Namely, how were Kimiko’s powers negated by Soldier Boy’s energy blast? My fan theory is that the experiments that were done on Soldier Boy by the Soviets somehow made him into what’s essentially Supe kryptonite. If that theory holds, his energy blast is capable of killing any superpowered individual, as well as any unfortunate civilians in his blast radius.

Speaking of Soldier Boy, the Russians did some truly brutal experiments on him, essentially distilling Chernobyl into his veins. So much so that he now gives off a slight radioactive signature that can be read by Geiger counters. Somehow the Russians were able to keep him sedated or at least restrained while this was happening, but now he’s loose thanks to Butcher and The Boys. At first, he just wanders around Russia, but he finds his way back stateside in record time.

More than ever, MM is intensely pissed off at Butcher. Both for putting the team in danger but also for crossing a line he never should have crossed in taking temporary V. Hughie isn’t doing amazing after his superpowered antics and spends a lot of time vomiting up green sludge. As for Frenchie, he’s spending time at the hospital with Kimiko, who now seems to be totally bereft of all her powers, including her ferocious strength.

As for Vought, now that Stan Edgar was removed, there’s a new CEO in charge – Ashley. And as any fan of the show will know, Ashley is not a woman of principle or someone capable of restraining Homelander in any fashion. He’s basically running roughshod over Vought with Edgar gone, intimidating empty-suited idiots and appointing fish brain (AKA The Deep) the new head of Crime Analytics. Where his first act is giving everybody cupcakes, and his second act is removing everybody who said anything bad in the past about Homelander. And if you thought the death of Supersonic might impact Homelander, you’re as dead wrong as he is. The media is already spinning the death as an overdose gone wrong.

Annie might have prayed for the Russian job to go right, but Hughie comes clean and reveals they have no special weapon to kill Homelander with. Worse, he tells her about taking V and she’s more than a little worried about him, not to mention terrified about Homelander left unchecked. Hughie tries to pretend he’s happy being normal and human, but it quickly spills out how exhilarating he found his superpowers, and it’s clear he’ll take more V as soon as he’s able to.

The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies | Plans

As for A-Train (the A stands for asshole), he’s living with the consequences of ratting out Annie to Homelander. She’s not content to let him forget his actions led to Supersonic’s murder. Then when A-Train starts working with Ashley, she concocts a media event for Blue Hawk and A-Train to publicly mend fences. Then, because it’s The Boys, the whole thing goes totally off the rails and it becomes quickly clear what a racist shithead Blue Hawk is. It starts with him saying ‘Supe lives matter’ and ends with him tossing innocent civilians around, leading to A-Train’s brother getting permanently hurt.

For all the Maeve fans out there, she gets a lot more screen time in this episode. She starts by giving Butcher more doses of temporary V, and subsequently refuses to share a drink with him, due to her hard-earned sobriety. Then she decides to have a few drinks and kisses Butcher. At first, it seems he’s not interested, but that quickly changes, and let’s say that Butcher plays Gaby to Maeve’s Xena and things get very hot quickly. But by far my favorite part of this scene is when Butcher tells Maeve ‘with great power comes the absolute certainty that you’ll turn into a right cunt’, and that’s before she jumps his bones.

MM tries to leave Butcher’s madness behind, but quickly gets dragged back into it thanks to Todd and Soldier Boy. He goes to pick up his little girl, only to find that her new stepdad is a massive Homelander fanboy, and is spreading his malicious nonsense to Janine. This leads to some salty language before MM sees a broadcast about Soldier Boy wandering around NY and then exploding, killing 19 random passersby – which causes more PTSD for the as-yet undisclosed incident with Soldier Boy, before MM decides he needs to fight the good fight a little longer.

One of my absolute favorite parts of the episode is when Kimiko has a musical dream sequence. She’s just discovered her powers are apparently gone, and she’s beyond happy. Now she can be a human girl again, and the musical number with her, Frenchie, and the hospital staff do a wonderful job of conveying her emotions. Then, for good measure, she actually kisses Frenchie! Sadly, Little Nina is blaming Frenchie for the messy op last time, and actively kidnaps him from the hospital when he refuses to do a job for her.

The Boys Season 3.5 Verdict

The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies | Soldier Boy

It all culminates with some really dark moments, like any good Boys episode. Butcher ropes MM and Hughie into a mission to find Crimson Countess, only to roofie MM and team up with Soldier Boy instead. Crimson Countess gets some sexy Zoom time with Seth Rogen (yes really), right before SB arrives and confronts her. He’s hurt that she left him in Russia, and she reveals she always hated him, moments before another energy blast renders her into a squishy skeleton. And Homelander pulls a fast one on Maeve and confronts her as a distraction while Black Noir sneaks up and incapacitates her.

Oh, and lest I forget, The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies also introduces a key character from the comic, The Legend. He’s played by Paul Reiser, aka the good doctor Sam Owens from Stranger Things. He’s smarmy and sleazy, but I seem to recall the comic book equivalent was much, much creepier, both in appearance and demeanor.

All in all, this was a good episode of The Boys. It let gave some characters more room to breathe, showcased how increasingly paranoid and psychotic Homelander is, and even had The Legend tell the team that “everything Butcher touches turns to shit’. What it didn’t do was finally explain MM’s connection to Soldier Boy or clarify how the ancient Supe’s new powers work. But hopefully, the next episode will start to explain some key details while it moves us towards the inevitable blood-soaked season finale.

Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky Exhibit is a Truly Captivating Experience

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Getting to experience any permutation of art in person is something one cannot miss out on. Getting to write about it is an even bigger pleasure, so when The Workprint was invited to visit the works of one of the most elusive artists of all time, Banksy, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

The “Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky” exhibit taking up residence through early September in the former International Center of Photography Museum at 250 Bowery in New York City is the first of its kind, weaving academia with key pieces in the Bristol-born artist’s oeuvre, mapping out a tangible progression before your very eyes.

Sometimes, one can sum up a novel’s worth of feelings within a single image, but you can have two people look at the same piece and be in two vastly different worlds.

What follows is the critique of both Robert Kijowski and Eileen Ramos from the Banksy exhibition exemplifying that sometimes it truly does pay off to have your head in the clouds.

Robert J. Kijowski’s Impresssions

Revolution starts with but three base ingredients: a message, a target, and a vision.

The avenues of such a recipe may be finessed to potency and dispatched, are something of equal mystery and beauty.

In the past, propaganda had a bittersweet-tasting message for the target audience with a vision for a noxious ending for the intended target, whether through literature, art, or music.

It is in this that the ever-elusive street artist Banksy proves that recipes can be elevated.

In their academic and comprehensive collection of over 100 works of this world-renowned Rat-ical, METAMORFOSI NY presents BANKSY, building castles in the sky, provides a fully immersive timeline of how sometimes, to be beyond a revolution, to have both prince and pauper, left and right, pretty and ugly come together, it takes a bit of cunning.

However, he took but two ingredients: a sharp blade with a sharper mind.

While the start of the journey brings you to Banksy’s literal “Welcome (Gross Domestic Product)” mat, constructed of stitched life vests from Greek refugee camps brings the message “home”, we truly start on one of his earliest pieces, which is a DJ in the clouds entitled “Cloud DJ”. Notice the saw blade. This will be a throughline in his earliest works, as he wants to chop his existence of a provincial town in half and stir it all up.

Cloud DJ by Banksy. Stencil of a spray-painted DJ in the clouds with a saw behind him on blue cloth
Cloud DJ by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

I mean, it’s no surprise that ya boy had been influenced by hip-hop from an early age. The guy started out as a straight graffiti artist in the hardest part of Bristol. Having mastered “getting up”, this was his first foray into putting in some stencil influence. The saw blade was, as I imagined one of his first wordplays in images, with both the saw being a cutting through his monotony of Bristol and how a DJ ‘cuts’ records in your classic 80’s Wild Style era.

Fast forward a few years, when Santa’s Ghetto was the first of its kind: pop art with a message. Therein bloomed the Happy Choppers, which had both a cohesive and conflicting message. We are not the enemy for loving, though in wartime, those that want peace are seen as enemies by the ones that take up arms. These are the ones that have an end goal in mind. Peace. This is potent to show the enemy having emotions instead of simply being a black and white purview to an endgame. We’re all human and nothing of that should be discounted.

Happy Choppers by Banksy. Stenciled Helicopters in the sky with a pink ribbon beneath the blades
Happy Choppers by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

Going back to a very provincial institution and putting his own spin on injecting the stiff upper lips of the polity with a serum of the vox populi, Banksy was welcomed to the Bristol Museum… or rather as a challenge to them.

Banksy vs Bristol Museum poster of a spray-painted Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz saying “I don’t think we’re on canvas anymore…”
Banksy vs Bristol Museum Poster at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

In a way, it was low art vs. high art. It wasn’t so much a battle, because we already knew who won when his peace cozied up to theirs.

Everybody won!

The old guard was long dead, BUT it complemented the new guard, giving it new life.

Art never dies. It just repurposes.

This couldn’t be more evident than when Banksy created his Di-Tenners, essentially making Princess Diana the face of what was once a simple ten-pound note into visual wordplay, as you can pronounce it “Di” or “Dee” as in defaced.

Di-Faced Tenners by Banksy. Banksy printed 10 pound banknotes, replacing the face of Queen Elizabeth with Diana Spencer. Above at the centre of the note, are the words “Banksy of England” in place of “Bank of England”.
Di-Faced Tenners by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

As we moved along the path, Rats were met with us as we were met with rats.

Blek le Rat was a huge influence on Banksy, as the French stencil artist not only used the rodents as a proxy for those that come from the underground but also as a symbol for those that are seen but barely paid attention to.

They are kicked to the gutter and simply overlooked.

Rats are a hearty and sturdy bunch. While the upper crust cares less about the poorer, armies form.

The less attention they are given, the more attention is pressed, and that’s where strength takes place.

Do you know what a group of rats is called?

It’s called a “mischief.” Some niblets to chew on.

It is within this nibbling that we get to Banksy continuing on his mission.

Precision Bombing by Banksy. Graphic on a blue t-shirt of a bomb scope aimed at an individual walking into a car with other bystanders around them. The words “Precision Bombing” and “Banksy” on the crosswalk
Precision Bombing by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky
Bomb Love (Bomb Hugger) by Banksy. Silkscreen print of a girl hugging a bomb like a teddy bear
Bomb love (Bomb Hugger) by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky
Virgin Mary (Toxic Mary) by Banksy. Silkscreen print of the Virgin Mary giving little baby Jesus a milk bottle with a toxic sign
Virgin Mary (Toxic Mary) by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

Take, for instance, Precision Bombing, Bomb Love (Bomb Hugger), and Virgin Mary (Toxic Mary).

This can nearly be a triptych to me, as they all deal with the horrors of war and how we fervently approach it when we’re all gung ho due to the lip service we were spoon-fed during the early aughts. Some saw it as comfort. Banksy saw it as impending Hell. You can only hug something so much until it blows up in your face.

With Weston Super Mare and Bombing Middle England, Banksy still has an ax to grind.

The provincial nature of his upbringing is boring and it’s go-nowhere. The guy had already been making waves, but he was going for the throat with his want for change.

“Bombing Middle England” actually was one of my favorite pieces out of all of these. It was one of the most clever, saying very little but saying so much.

This is punk talent in yelling that the Emperor HAS clothes.

Bomb Middle England by Banksy. Silkscreen print of three old ladies playing bowls on the green in the English countryside but replaced with lit cannonballs
Bomb Middle England by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

It shows people that it’s okay to not be a part of the problem but rather include them in the solution, through art they can stop for a moment and think about the rest for a minute.

Art shouldn’t be hard. Yes, you have your Dutch Master and your Renaissance, but if it wasn’t commissioned by a higher up in the Church, it should be made for the masses.

Tell me, what could be more gleaning a message to the future than learning from the past?

In one of his most stark images, Banksy takes the very stark image of a very famous photograph, Napalm Girl—an emaciated, naked girl from Vietnam in her Napalm burns, happily holding hands with both the king of American gluttony and the king of American happiness.

Napalm, Serpentine Edition by Banksy. Silkscreen print of an altered version of “The Terror of War (Napalm Girl)” photograph by Nick Ut. The titular girl is naked, screaming from burns, and running, this time holding hands with Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald. There is a bloodstain smeared on the legs of Ronald.
Napalm, Serpentine Edition by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

This one had two versions, but I chose to include the one with actual blood. Is it Damien Hirst’s blood or Banksy’s? Who cares? Blood is blood.

While Sales Ends Today went on the absurdity of his art gaining more ground, Banksy decided to drop a few more knowledge bombs on ya with Family Target, letting the audience know that in war, the smarter we get, the dumber we get, as it’s aiming for a kid on vacation.

Family Target by Banksy. Spray painted on board, a happy family holding hands, with a bomb target where the child’s face is
Family Target by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

One of his most iconic pieces is Love Is In The Air (Flower Thrower) wherein he replaces a rock or a Molotov for a bouquet of flowers. I mean, if we could bomb each other with nothing but good vibes, the world would be a better place.

It would be more like 80s hip-hop, tagging, breakdancing—things that were all about community.

I digress.

Sometimes, things need to be aggressive to get the message across, especially when it comes down to outlaw art.

This was exemplified with the Peckham Trolley Postcard, in which he Rambo’d and illegally stuck a similar piece of cement to the British Museum to prove a point. Man hunts out of his grounds. They actually respected it.

Peckham Trolley, Postcard by Banksy. A primitive cave drawing of a man using a shopping cart and passing by a buffalo shot through with arrows
Peckham Trolley, Postcard by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

We cut to his Jack & Jill, Grannies, Turf War, Queen Vic, and Monkey Queen.

Out of all of these, the Turf War, a verbal and visual play on Winston Churchill’s speech held me the most.

Turf War by Banksy. Silkscreen print of Winston Churchill sporting a green punk mohawk
Turf War by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

Now, the most arresting was Queen Vic, which was The Grandmother of Europe’s “facesitting” on another woman. It was the one that got Christina Aguilera buying and what shot Banksy into stardom. A place he never wanted to take up residence in. Art is for the People. He wanted to turn the museum inside out. Make it free and outside.

Queen Vic Screenprint by Banksy. On red background Queen Victoria is holding a staff and wearing a crown while sitting on top of a woman’s head who is in lingerie and heels
Queen Vic by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

At some point, you could see beauty for free and if you were awarded the succinct moment, stop and think.

Now, his art was at the top of everybody’s list… but Banksy isn’t one to slouch. Though initially wanting to travel to Brazil, he settled on the Gaza Strip to create his most audacious works of art (to me) yet. He not only created and took a piece of the wall dividing Israel and Palestine, but he also took up a hotel and made it a living, breathing thinkpiece called the ‘Walled Off Hotel.’

Walled Off Hotel in Palestine created by Banksy
Walled Off Hotel in Palestine created by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky
Walled Off Hotel Box Set by Banksy. Digital print on paper and wall section features children having fun on a carousel but it’s a watchtower resembling those found along the entire separation wall
Walled Off Hotel Box Set by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castle in the Sky

His whole joke was it was “the Hotel with the worst view in the world.”

To be fair, if you can’t ferry down the river of sadness with a motor of levity, then what have you?

Later on down the line, I get why he has such a love for pop art, aping some Warhol for a can (or four) of Tesco’s Tomato Soup for the interest of others. He doubled down with a key scene in Pulp Fiction, replacing the guns with bananas.

Pulp Fiction by Banksy. Screenprint of Pulp Fiction’s protagonists Vincent and Julius side by side, holding bananas instead of pistols
Pulp Fiction by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky
Soup Can (Quad) by Banksy. Silkscreen print of four Tesco Value Tomato Soup Cans modeled after Andy Warhol’s iconic images
Soup Can (Quad) by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

That is what we call a Mobius strip.

Next, we have something that Bansky has an affinity for debunking—Disney. His Mickey Snake was presented at Dismaland (Bemusement Park), where the attendants to the experience were to be miserable and serve the prickly provocateur. Hitting the nail on the head if turning a ball peened head is turning a blind eye to the ills of the world.

Mickey Snake by Banksy. Sculpture of a snake swallowing Mickey Mouse
Mickey Snake by Banksy first installed at Dismaland, now at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

The fiberglass, resin, and acrylic piece were going for the throat, so to speak.

It’s easy to pull nice comfortable wool over our eyes, but just like the snake, that lump will still stay in our throats until we digest it… if we ever do.

Snakes take a long time to digest.

Moving onto one of my favorite pieces, there by the Grace of God goes with a double wall section that was painted over in red. The beautiful thing is that, even with his quote of “Every picture tells a lie,” this was done on purpose. Little did they know, hyperspectral photography is actually worth more than the walls themselves.

Brad Downer’s Hyperspectral photograph of Banksy’s TV Girl on the right, with original image being painted over in red on the left
Brad Downer’s Hyperspectral photograph of Banksy’s TV Girl on the right, with original image being painted over in red on the left at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky
Brad Downer’s hyperspectral photo of Banksy’s Toxic Mary on the right with the left original painted over in red
Brad Downer’s hyperspectral photo of Banksy’s Toxic Mary on the right with the left original painted over in red. At Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

Where we wind down is the myriad albums Banksy had lent his art to.

Like any amazing artist, other arts creep in and music was easily in there.

Wall of Banksy’s Album art on record sleeves
Wall of Banksy’s Album art on record sleeves at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

From 80s b-boy and hip-hop to Massive Attack and trip-hop, music can move you, and the artist willfully gave art to what is loved and the wellspring from whence inspiration came.

5 Record Albums featuring the art of Banksy
5 Record Albums featuring the art of Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky
Paris Hilton CD Sleeve by Banksy. Paris Hilton’s debut album altered with phrases like “Why am I famous?”, “What am I for?”, and “90% of success is showing up.” He replaces Paris Hilton’s face with her Chihuahua’s head
Paris Hilton CD Sleeve by Banksy. Paris Hilton’s debut album altered with phrases like “Why am I famous?”, “What am I for?”, and “90% of success is showing up.” He replaces Paris Hilton’s face with her Chihuahua’s head. At Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

From turning Kate Moss into Marilyn Monroe to buying 500 of Paris Hilton’s albums and changing them into a national joke, the guy already had his eyes on toppling the nouveau riche while they crave what we already had when we were broke… Heart. Soul. Creation.

Rounding out on HMV, we’re musically going down to what it all boils down to. Bringing down a master’s voice.

HMV (His Master’s Voice) by Banksy. Silkscreen print of a dog exhausted from listening aims a bazooka at the gramophone
HMV (His Master’s Voice) by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

We kind of end up where most of us started – Girl With Balloon.

Whether you’ve come across it on Instagram, Facebook, or any semblance of social media, we invariably end on where it all started for the artist’s pick-up point.

Girl with Balloon by Banksy. Silkscreen print of a girl letting go a heart balloon
Girl with Balloon by Banksy at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

Banky’s shredding in Sotheby’s was simply a statement because, for those that want to spend crazy amounts on a statement, it’s easier and cheaper to buy a work of art than to make it.

Yes, it doubled in price once it was shredded, causing one work of art (Girl With Balloon) to develop into another (Love Is In The Bin) in real-time.

Maybe that’s the goal in a weird way.

No matter how deep your pockets are, it costs very little to be rich—a simple smile and a dap will do ya.

It costs little to nil to reach your fellow foe and make a new friend—just a simple stepping out of your comfort zone and seeing things from a new perspective. Some will see that as a King’s Ransom, but it isn’t that hard.

While the privileged few can spend a crazy amount of money to hang that same message on the walls of their palatial estate, Banksy took the idea of a museum and made it vomit so we can all enjoy it for free and feel like millionaires for a moment.

It just took but a single ingredient…perspective.

That is a luxury no amount of money can buy.

On Chalkboard, in red “Say perhaps to drugs” then in blue with an arrow pointing down it says “I concur! RJK”
On Chalkboard, in red “Say perhaps to drugs” then in blue with an arrow pointing down it says “I concur! RJK” at Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky

-Robert J. Kijowski

P.S. I want to take a minute to thank the amazing Elena Frigenti for such a special experience.

This was a legit blast, thanks to Pest Control ltd. and the curators Stefano Antonelli and Gianluca Marziani.

If you’re in the area and want to give this very well-thought-out exhibition a peek, it runs through September 5th and is located at 250 Bowery in New York.

 

Eileen Ramos’ Impressions

In traversing the new exhibit Banksy: Building Castles in the Sky, one thing became apparent—the artist is an idealist. Curated by Stefano Antonelli and Gianluca Marziani, there are over one hundred works authenticated by Pest Control Office ltd, the “Parent/Guardian of the artist Banksy”. Situated in New York City, at 250 Bowery Street, the former site of the International Center of Photography Museum, the exhibition makes great use of the space. Well-constructed and incredibly thought out, we gain a better idea of who Banksy is and what he is devoted to. Elena Frigenti was gracious to give a tour for Rob and me and she illuminated how Banksy is for the masses and far beyond just a simply cynical artist.

I highly recommend reading the curatorial statement at the start of the exhibit—“What are we looking at when we look at Banksy?” It’s honestly the best declaration I’ve read for any exhibition and provides a good foundation of how to view his works. Succinctly addressing the strange sensations we feel when we look at his art and the even stranger world we currently live in, the curators open the viewers’ eyes to the unreality that late stage Capitalism has granted us.
It also provides insight to the making of Banksy, pointing out the reign of the former United Kingdom Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher. Of which it therefore makes more sense how Banksy have become such an acerbic proponent against Capitalism. Before Building Castles, I just thought of the artist as a snarky genius. I had no clue how his art goes beyond sarcasm and is Anti-War, Anti-Indoctrination, and staunchly Anti-Capitalism.
Let’s take a look at one of his most famous artworks, “Love is in the Air (Flower Thrower)”

“Love is in the Air (Flower Thrower)” Stencil on Palestinian Wall of a masked young man throwing a bouquet of flowers
“Love is in the Air (Flower Thrower)” on a Jerusalem Wall. Stencil of a masked young man throwing a bouquet of flowers. By Banksy

Displaying a young man in a backwards cap and the bottom of his face covered, he is preparing to launch a bouquet of flowers as if he’s throwing molotov cocktail. This first existed as a stencil in Jerusalem in 2003 and was painted on the wall to separate the Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. As noted in the plaque next to it “The artist sees the wall as something that ‘[…] essentially transforms Palestine into the largest open-air prison in the world.’” Normally seen on the red background and without the context of the wall, I didn’t know the backstory behind this piece. If it wasn’t for the exhibition, I’d continue to be ignorant of the historical context and the oppression being protested. This is way beyond a clever image but a commentary on the harsh and deeply cruel circumstances the youth must suffer through in order to survive. We expect destruction and violence in a stance—and place—like this and instead we are gifted beauty and peace, something we sadly don’t see in the Media we consume daily.

The further you go into the exhibit, the more connections you understand between Banksy’s and your (our) worlds. I have definitely hailed him as a brilliant artistic genius separate and above me. But it’s in witnessing his timeline and development that I share more common ground than I considered possible. This exhibit humanizes him and his art in a way that the (possibly mock) documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” does not. He still remains a shadowy figure whose appeal is largely his mysterious mystique. But there’s definitely an immense heart behind each and every one of his artworks.

Walled Off Hotel in Palestine created by Banksy
Walled Off Hotel in Palestine created by Banksy

That wasn’t his last work in Palestine, as he built in 2017, the Walled Off Hotel. As noted in the exhibition ,“It sounds like the famous Waldorf luxury hotel and consists in a small venue in Bethlehem, in front of which Israeli government built a wall to separate Israeli from Palestinian territories, contributing to the give the hotel ‘the worst view in the world’ a slogan with which the artist publicizes his initiative. The hotels contains works by Banksy and other artists, themed rooms, a souvenir shop where you can buy the poster and a shop where you can buy paint and tools to make your own street art.” Our tour guide, Elena, shared how this is the only place in the world where you can purchase his artwork, the money going to the people of Palestine. He hired professional bellhops and created fantastic galleries to showcase his and invited artists’ works. It’s an incredible endeavor to support the Oppressed and shine a light on their plight when many mainstream artists would turn their heads away.

Peckham Trolley, Postcard by Banksy. A primitive cave drawing of a man using a shopping cart and passing by a buffalo shot through with arrows
Peckham Trolley, Postcard by Banksy

What I also found riveting in Building Castles was how he uses the entire world as his studio and gallery. As noted on the plaque for the above piece, Peckham Trolley, Postcard—in 2005, Banksy masqueraded as a visitor to British Museum in order “to illegally install on a wall a piece of cement drawn with a felt-tip pen depicting a primitive man pushing a supermarket trolley. Just like other museum pieces, the artist places a caption:

“Wall art. East London. This finely preserved example of primitive art dates from the Post-Catatomic era and is thought to depict early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting rounds. The artist responsible is known to have created a substantial body of work across South East of England i under the moniker Banksymus Maximus but little else is known about him. Most art of this type has unfortunately not survived. The majority is destroyed by zealous municipal officials who fail to recognize the artistic. Merit and historical value of daubing on walls.’”

This intervention lasted for 8 days when the Museum staff “notices the intruder, remove the piece, and store it in a museum’s warehouses. Banksy will comment ‘now it is housed in the permanent collection.’” There is way more to this story and in the plaque but I invite you to visit the work itself and see for yourself.

Such brilliance and noteworthy context in this and many plaques add more substance and thought for these artworks. I genuinely believe these captions add a level of vibrancy that I find absent in plaques found in other art galleries and museums. It’s a mark of a fantastic show if the reading of these texts can be just as riveting and captivating as the artworks themselves.

The exhibition shows other interventions Banksy has done, like the videos of his performances in public protests and the infamous shredding of his artwork once the Sotheby’s auction ended. It is inspiring to witness his rise and how he proliferated the world over with his art, influence, and uplifting endeavors. In fact, there are beautifully constructed data maps of his artwork and statements in time, and who influenced him in turn, such as Fluxus, Keith Haring, and Hip Hop. They even shared how they were able to build such a map, providing the name of the programs and algorithms used.

His artwork has always confronted you with reality, no matter how sardonic or surreal the imagery and icons used. The underlying message is to wake up the viewer and provoke reflection. To question the wars that are supposedly for the good of our nation. To doubt the need for borders at all. The mindless consumption of Disney and how it’s harshly impacting our youth. To combat why we must always destroy and consume when we can create and inspire instead.

There was a lovely parting gift at the end of the exhibit where attendees can contribute their own art on the wall chalkboard. I saw messages from visitors from around the world, like South Korea and Ireland, even Banksy’s rat climbing the Empire State Building. I’m sure many of the attendees felt just like me, thoroughly motivated to create art and spread it as wide as possible. Maybe planting a postcard at the MoMA or stenciling in a back alley.

After attending this well-researched and curated exhibition of one of my favorite artists ever, I wanted to seek out more street art and leave my own stamp in the world. I now see the world not as unstoppably hostile and cruel as I used to, but a canvas to inspire and move others as well as myself. As Banksy has shown us, art can awaken a deeper, more meaningful perspective and way of life. There are alternatives to the darkness of Capitalism and we can thrive in better, less horrific ways. Even if it means Building Castles in the Sky.

I am grateful to the curators, Stefano Antonelli and Gianluca Marziani, for the invitation to this wonderful exhibit. And to Elena Frigenti for such an enlightening tour. Definitely visit this exhibit if you can, it’s a truly captivating experience.

-Eileen Ramos

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Episode 5 Review: Series Completely Redeems Itself

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Vader uses the Force to stop a transport trying to flee in Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 5

Not only does this episode silence the naysayers and every negative critique out there, but it also, proves that they knew what they were doing all along. As we detail in our Star Wars Obi wan Kenobi episode 5 review.

I have never felt this excited about the end of a Star Wars anything since exiting the theatres after seeing Rogue One, which even now, is still my favorite Star Wars movie. I can’t believe Deborah Chow and crew pulled this episode off and I genuinely think all Star Wars fans will leave this episode rather satisfied. As it brilliantly ties everything together. 

I stress this because, last week, I was really on the fence about the series overall. I’d loved the first two episodes of Obi-Wan but somewhat hated the last two. The Obi-Wan versus Anakin battle really made little continuity sense for me (it still does and the last two weeks confirm even more how none of that duel makes any sense) and seeing Kenobi get his groove back in a day (which confirms even more why that duel made no sense), made me stress over which trilogy we were closer to emulating: the Prequels or Originals? As I went over in my previous reviews.

So what’s changed regarding my take then on the series? Well, a couple of major fixes occur in this episode. Things that diehard fans like myself–people who know way too much about Star Wars Legacy canon–called out on regarding force power continuity, character development, and a major plot hole that I think gets addressed rather perfectly here. 

Pretty much all the negative things fans had complained about (minus the Reva racism bit, which was always stupid and blatant hatred) get fixed, showing that all the complaining I’ve done the last two weeks… was always a setup for a red herring. Effectively drawing the fan’s ire and attention, then pulling it back, in a brilliant showcase of surprisingly well-written Star Wars that will appease fans both old and new. 

Now, let’s get into spoilers about why.

 

Why Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 5 Is The Empire Strikes Back/Rogue One of The Show

Darth Vader reflects about his past with Obi-Wan in Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 5

Can you say Rebel Alliance? Because it certainly feels like we’re going that way, and my God, does everyone in this crew kick some serious butt. Everything about the bunkering down survivors versus the evil empire feels reminiscent of the attack on Hoth or the final moments of Rogue One.

There is a ticking clock until the empire closes in, a series of heroes trying to fix the situation/finish their overall story arcs, and yet another cunning escape, as bad guys tend to really fall for decoys (decoy ships, decoy escape pods, decoy princess Padmes) in Star Wars lore.

You’ve got Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) helping scale an essential vent to hit a switch, a funny Haja (Kumail Nanjiani) still finding schemes for profit despite having lost everything, Roken (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) providing the voice of a leader/reason, and sadly, a very beautiful scene featuring Tala (Indira Varma), whom along with 1-JAC, make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause in a badass blaze of glory. 

All of this is a reminder of those who fought tooth and nail in order to survive. That the empire is evil and murders its enemies indiscriminately, both ex-Jedis or Force-sensitives, but also, any person or voice that impedes their way. 

The most nostalgic moment of this episode was in seeing General Obi-Wan Kenobi reminding us why he was one of the best leaders during the Clone Wars. I’ve stressed so many times in these reviews about how I’m uncertain which Obi-Wan is being portrayed and why that’s a bad thing. Yet, in this episode, you get the best of both, which is what I think fans always genuinely wanted.

Obi-Wan has solid battle tactics reminding us why he was such a famous General. He’s courageous and willing to put himself in the line of fire, taking the vanguard of the battle, especially now that he’s got his Jedi prowess/groove back. More than anything, Obi-Wan shows heart and gives a few rousing speeches. Reminders of how this man was always such a beacon of goodness and hope.

I can’t stress this enough, Ewan McGregor has finally gotten this role down, with stellar performances showcasing the energy of the prequel Obi-Wan, while also, portraying a wiser and older man, who understands the pains of loss. He is someone who is outwitting his enemies, knowing that, no matter his efforts, this enemy, the Empire, is always greater. And how sometimes, preserving life means more than gaining victory. Why that is the Jedi way.  

That said, because of how strong this Obi-Wan arc felt in this episode, I finally fell in love with the portrayal of Darth Vader in Part V. Jedis and Sith are meant to be very meditative and thoughtful as they’re always attuned to The Force. But Terminator Vader has felt very one-dimensional in his role so far, being mostly, an angry killing machine of shallow words and mostly murderous actions. Which was my biggest critique of his portrayal so far.

Anakin and Obi-Wan spar over flashbacks at the Jedi Temple in Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 5

This episode answers that call and finally sees Darth Vader (thanks to fantastic flashbacks where we actually see Hayden Christensen) reflect on his lessons with Obi-Wan.

Anakin reminds us that he’s more than just a murder machine. He’s also a cunning leader. A well-known religious zealot. A Dark Lord of the Sith. Vader is someone who is calculating in his betrayals–which was beautifully showcased in this episode in his final betrayal against Reva. 

How Darth Vader was always using Reva, and most importantly, that the Grand Inquisitor was very much alive, is a major deal and one of my favorite things about this episode. It tells me that Star Wars respects Dave Filloni and Star Wars: Rebels–which they should, given that he’s Star Wars’ equivalent to Kevin Feige–but that more importantly, that Darth Vader actually has plans. Just like his mentor Sidious, he is a character more than willing to use and betray people.

It is something that audiences needed to be reminded about, as it ties into the entirety of this arc that’s been in front of us the entire time. One that a lot of audiences have complained about: Reva, and her entire backstory.

To be blunt about it, I’ve both read about and got DM’s regarding hateful messages about Reva. That Star Wars, just like Disney, is ‘Woke’ Culture. And how that making Reva Grand Inquisitor, was just a horrible idea giving power to a black woman in lieu of Star Wars canon for the sake of Woke-fans. All of which, I completely disagreed with.

Reva was my second favorite thing about the series. But seeing as how her storyline ties into the opening scenes with the Padawans in the Jedi Temple during Order 66? More importantly, seeing how it wasn’t just a ploy for Reva to gain power, but in actuality, a grand power play to eventually commit vengeance against she loathed for ruining your life: Darth Vader…

 

I LOVE THAT STORY

Reva looks up in worry in Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 5

Reva’s story is really Kill Bill in nature. It’s kind of awesome and makes Moses Ingram, whom I thought was already fantastic since the beginning, my favorite character of this series.

Seeing the betrayal play out as it had reminded me entirely of Vader trying to tempt Luke in Empire Strikes Back. But seeing Obi-Wan do it with Reva, had me jumping for joy, as I was honestly a little worried we were going into the Force Ghost and Star Wars: The Force Awakens direction with Jedi projections. Instead, having Reva get her revenge made for a much cooler story beat.

Now having said all of that, the Reva motivations, the Darth Vader original trilogy-style cunning, them bringing back the Grand Inquisitor to not mess with the continuity, and Obi-Wan finally finding his footing as the best of both Obi-Wans…

I genuinely think the series completely fixed every single one of its negative criticisms. It also makes for a compelling tale from beginning to end. 

 

The Take on Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 5

It’s hard to say this about anything Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 5 is the best episode of the series. I am finally excited to say that I’m both a fan of it and am really looking forward to Season 2. Everything about Obi-Wan is great to me, and I, for the first time ever, really want to see more Hayden Christensen. 

Score: 5/5

Perfect in every way. And I don’t say that often.

 

The Boys Season 3 Episode 4: Glorious Five Year Plan Review and Recap

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Glorious Five Year Plan is an Emotional, Funny, Brutal, and Surprising Episode That Takes The Boys in Surprising Directions

I’m not sure who’s responsible for all the delightfully twisted fourth-wall-breaking content in Season 3 of The Boys, but I’m grateful for their hard work. Watching what’s essentially a Soul Train knock-off called Solid Gold, with Soldier Boy crooning in the worst way possible was an amazing start to Glorious Fire Year Plan. As was the disdain on MM’s face as he watched the footage. Though it started to go someplace dark when MM recalled some horrifying, as yet unspecified incident that affected him as a child thanks to Soldier Boy.

The Boys 3.4 Glorious Five Year Plan Recap

Glorious Five Year Plan | Commercial

Homelander isn’t the only one losing control. Now that Hughie knows Butcher’s dark secret, he’s at serious risk of Butcher silencing him. Probably not permanently, but I’m sure Butcher wouldn’t have any qualms putting Hughie in a minor coma. Meanwhile, the blonde bigot himself is going on FOX News… I mean, the Cameron Coleman hour and talking about the people trying to control him from the shadows at Vought. He’s pushing boundaries, and Stan Edgar isn’t having it. So he tries to get his pet supe, Neuman, to agree to work with him to keep Homelander in check.

Butcher and Frenchie chase Mallory’s lead to an unexpected source – Little Nina. Worse, Butcher plays into her portrayal of Frenchie as a ferocious dog on a leash. When they offer to compensate Nina for Cherie’s theft, she isn’t satisfied with just the money. She also wants Cherie for her trouble. Then she’ll consider asking the KGB about the mystery gun that supposedly killed Soldier Boy.

Starlight clues Hughie in on the worsening situation with Homelander, and despite everything, he wants to protect her from harm. So much so that when Homelander waltzes in and starts intimating he’ll soon be screwing Starlight, Hughie does the dumbest yet bravest thing possible and gets in his face. Starlight backs him up and threatens to walk if he touches Hughie or anybody else he loves, and luckily Homelander leaves. This time. He still manages to twist the knife by signing Hughie’s cast first.

To my pleasant surprise, A-Train takes his brother’s advice to heart and tries to use his platform for something meaningful. Unfortunately, the Ashleys twist it into a commercial for a soft drink instead and make him look like a corporate tool in the process. Meanwhile, the head Ashley ignores A-Train’s demand to speak with the supe that curb stomped an innocent bystander.

Little Nina comes through and books The Boys a trip to Russia to find answers. There we get serenaded by what sounds like Russian rap and view some truly epic graffiti that prominently features horrific portrayals of Vought’s superheroes. Regardless, things seem to be going well until Butcher reveals they have to do a little job for Nina before she’ll actually point them in the right direction. And he wants Kimiko to do it, despite her arguing she’s “not his gun”.

Glorious Five Year Plan | Attack the Lab

A-Train continues to surprise by trying to bring up social justice in a meeting of The Seven, and Starlight takes his lead. It has a chance of working until the Deep’s cult wife uses him as a ventriloquist dummy and argues down A-Train’s idea. Then A-Train confronts the fishy fool in the hallway, where he says one of the funniest things I’ve heard this season. He says Deep is like “Ashton Kutcher fucked a clownfish”. Understandably that leads to a fight which is sadly stopped by Homelander’s presence.

Starlight spends a lot of the episode recruiting to her cause to bring down Homelander, first with Maeve and then Supersonic, who in turn mentions it to A-Train. Despite how indomitable Homelander’s powers make him, she thinks they can at least buy The Boys time to use the weapon and neutralize him for good.

Then it all starts to go pear-shaped. Neuman’s press conference happens, and to my utter shock, she uses her platform to start talking about the dangers of Stan Edgar, who is removed from his position of power. Turns out, Homelander got to her first and presented some opposition research of Edgar’s about her. All she wanted for this act of rebellion was one little thing – a dose of V to use on her own daughter.

Russia goes wrong even faster. Kimiko heads to the palatial mansion of a Russian oligarch under the guise of being a call girl. And let me just take a moment as a heterosexual male and say she looks damned good in her sparkly dress and heels. Unfortunately, things spiral once the hideous oligarch starts showing off his collection of superhero-themed dildos, and let’s just say Kimiko penetrates him first. Then in the aftermath of the bloody mayhem, one of the other girls shoots Kimiko through the head, though luckily she heals from the physical damage. The emotional and mental damage is another issue altogether.

Glorious Five Year Plan | Heartfelt

There are some great moments in Glorious Five Year Plan, both emotionally satisfying ones and horrifying ones. Frenchie and Kimiko have a deep talk about how Butcher uses people, and they endeavor to do one last job for him and then leave together to spend time in Marseilles. The love they have for each other is clear, even if Kimiko does not reciprocate it in the way Frenchie wants. I also really enjoyed watching Butcher explain to MM why he desperately needs him on the team, to help keep everyone together so Butcher can be the asshole they all need. And even Ashley gets some terrifying alone time with one Cameron Coleman, and her echoing a line from Homelander leads to inexplicable sexy time. Honestly these all help contribute to probably my favorite episode so far this season.

Now, I try hard to avoid spoilers when I can. But there are two big ones that happen in Glorious Five Year Plan that I have to mention next. So if you want to avoid being spoiled, now’s the time to take the off ramp and return later once you’ve watched the episode.

All right, everybody prepared? Cause things are about to get wild. As one might expect being a fan of the series, the Russian job goes horribly wrong. But not for the reasons you might expect. Butcher goes dosed with temporary V, so he thinks everything is in hand. But then Frenchie finds a superpowered hamster, who accidentally seems to trip the alarms. Armed men come in guns blazing, and everybody has to take cover. Well, everybody but the hamster, but I’ll let you watch that for yourselves.

Butcher reveals his superpowers to the rest of the team and starts drawing fire since he’s temporarily invulnerable to bullets. But then one of the soldiers arrives behind MM, and it seems our favorite badass is about to bite the dust. Until that is, Hughie teleports through his clothes and punches the soldier through the chest. Turns out, he nicked some temporary V when Butcher wasn’t looking. And while he most definitely saves MM’s life, MM and the rest of the team is ashamed he took the drug. Even Butcher.

Glorious Five Year Plan | Neuman's Double Cross

It seems the day is won until Butcher finds a tall container and rips the lid off. Inside is none other than the supposedly dead Soldier Boy. He’s hooked up to all sorts of wires and machines, and his beard has grown scraggly and long. Once he gets loose, something weird happens. He starts drawing in power and glowing, and suddenly expels a blast of energy. Frenchie is right in his path, but Kimiko acts fast and throws him out of the way. Shockingly, the damage dealt to her by the blast doesn’t want to heal. And as they leave the compound, it seems the team is more broken than ever, with MM furious, Frenchie despondent and Hughie higher than a kite.

The Boys Season 3 Episode 4 Verdict

Starlight’s heart was in the right place in recruiting supes to fight Homelander. But sadly for her, Homelander is more devious than we expected. And it turns out, stupid A-Train opened his mouth about the impromptu rebellion. This directly leads to Homelander flying Starlight onto a rooftop and showing her what’s left of Supersonic. He murdered him brutally, and he threatens he’ll do the same to Hughie if she doesn’t tow the line.

Overall, Glorious Five Year Plan was another great and gruesome episode of The Boys Season 3. I cannot imagine how things will play out, but I’m excited to see where the unpredictable story takes us.

Terraformers Early Access Review – One of the Finest Martian Games on Earth

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Human City from Terraformers

Explore Mars, build and develop your cities, manage your resources, and transform the Red Planet into a Green Planet

Developed by Asteroid Lab and published by Goblinz Publishing, Terraformers is an ambitious new 3X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit – but no eXterminate!) city builder in the form of a roguelike. Earth is colonizing Mars, and it’s up to you to ensure that the terraforming proceeds smoothly. In order to do so, you will have to make many critical decisions in managing your resources effectively and keeping your fledgling population happy while progressively increasing the habitability of the harsh, inhospitable planet.

First off, there’s an undo button. Most actions other than exploration can be undone. This alone makes me want to give Terraformers a 9/10. Thankfully, the rest of Terraformers is just as indicative of its expert and wonderful design. It has all manner of clean and original art with a refreshing and vibrant style. Its music is beautiful and extremely fitting for this sort of optimistic sci-fi setting, though the logic for BGM selection could be improved. The UI is simple and mostly intuitive, although I would like to dock a point for what it is in its current early access form because it definitely could be better. Even the science of the sci-fi is mostly grounded and based on current tech, which definitely makes Terraformers approachable for space fanatics everywhere. But ultimately, the gameplay itself is deep, thought-evoking, addictive, and wonderfully satisfying, and I find myself glued to the seat until the end of every run.

Martian world map - Terraformers

What exactly is “terraforming”?

Terraforming refers to the process in which a planet is made habitable for Earth-based lifeforms. The target planet in Terraformers is our friendly neighborhood red planet Mars, which has been long thought of as the first potential stepping stone for human civilization to become a space-faring species. In comparison to Earth, Mars is desperately lacking a breathable atmosphere, a water cycle, and a consistent livable climate, which are the cornerstones for life flourishing here on Earth. In Terraformers, your four terraforming parameters are temperature, oxygen, ocean level, and atmosphere. As you increase each parameter through their three tiers, the planet becomes more habitable for life, and life can be introduced to those zones that can support them.

Of course, no terraforming process would be complete without introducing life. Terraformers offers three types of lifeforms to be spread on the Martian surface: bacteria, plants, and animals. Bacteria have low requirements to survive and can offer some interesting utility, such as increasing temperature, or even generating resources such as titanium or tritium. Plants also generally provide oxygen or some other small benefits, but otherwise plants and animals are generally there to provide support to your population. All lifeforms also work on a prestige system, wherein the more they are spread, the more support they generate. If you ever wanted a planet just covered in grizzly bears and Arctic pine forests, this is your opportunity.

You are given many tools in order to raise those life-giving parameters and propagate life. Carbon dioxide factories can be built in order to create an atmosphere and increase planetary heat retention. Genetically engineered bacteria can be used to generate oxygen. Martian aquifers can be breached and extracted to contribute to the Martian oceans, which form the foundation of the water cycle. You can even turn to space for your terraforming needs, importing atmosphere or oceans from other nearby celestial bodies. All of these options and more are at your disposal, so long as you have the resources for it.

Martian world map - Terraformers

eXplore, eXpand, and eXploit on your path to a greener Mars

Naturally, any large scale project requires a considerable amount of resources, but given that we’re working on a different planet altogether, Martian problems require Martian solutions. Your terraforming efforts will be built on the foundation of resources that are gathered from the surface of the Red Planet.

In Terraformers, you begin with just a single city, a few buildings in your hand, and the resources to build a single mine. You also have the planet’s surface to yourself, which is covered in all manner of strange Martian features – glittering crystal caves, wondrous rock formations, expansive lava tunnels, and dried basins that can be filled with oceans, all waiting to be discovered. Amongst the wonderful is also the mundane necessities of open pit mines for the countless amount of resources needed to fuel development.

While all resources can be found during the course of regular exploration, some resources (food, power, and research) are more regularly generated by buildings in cities, and others (water, nitrates, silicates, titanium, and tritium) are more regularly obtained from mines on the Martian surface. These materials are typically used for buildings within a certain type – for example, water or nitrates are commonly found in food production buildings, silicates are typically used for research or high-tech, and titanium is used for all sorts of mundane tech. As you begin mining, you are able to trade those resources with Earth for others that are more urgently needed for your immediate development. For instance, food is used to either expand your population in a city, or to found a new city elsewhere; power is used every turn for exploration, as well as to construct mines.

Your defeat condition revolves around the resource known as support, which is the happiness level of your fledgling Martian population. It is generated by good city design, improving comfort of living, and can also be discovered via exploration, but as time passes, the amount of negative support generated by the population increases, meaning it’s a constant balancing act spending resources on economic development and support. On higher difficulties, there is a point in the mid-game where you are cruising along the razor’s edge, always within a few turns of defeat. Victory depends on whether you can pass a critical level of resource generation in that time to firmly establish your support production.

Martian city map - Terraformers

Complex decision making involved in multi-dimensional city building

Unlike many other city-building or civilization-sprawling games, Terraformers allows you to develop your cities on both a local scale and a planetary scale.

A city has a limited number of plots for buildings, and those plots are arranged in different patterns for each city. There are ideal patterns to design certain elements of your city – for example, housing always has adjacency bonuses for support, and selecting the right buildings for a residential cluster within a certain plot pattern can mean the difference in surviving just one more turn.

As far as planetary development goes, all development occurs on locations that are discovered through exploration. Locations can have specific features, such as terrain for city-building like craters, or high ground that can grant bonus yields to buildings such as solar panels. There is also low ground that will eventually be covered by the rising sea level, but dikes can be constructed to keep them dry. However, a city needs to be expanded to the location in order to utilize it, namely through increasing its population or constructing buildings like bus stations.

This dual layer of city development allows for considerable amount of interesting decision making as you juggle this complex development of a dozen cities per run with expanding your resource generation and trying to achieve the victory conditions.

Thomas Foster, Martian leader from Terraformers

A confluence of many simple concepts and roguelike elements results in an impressive level of depth

Each step in the terraforming process is clear, but roguelike RNG forces a considerable amount of decision-making on every turn, and makes every run feel fresh and unique. You will never have two identical cities in a single run, and your developmental path for each run will be wildly different.

To begin with, city development does not occur like other city builder games – rather than selecting buildings to construct based on your current technology level, you are able to choose one of several buildings to add to your “hand” every turn, and can choose to construct any building from your hand at any time. The offered buildings get progressively more advanced, and thus you are able to complete more ambitious projects as time goes on. There is a strict limit to how many cards you can have in your hand at once, which encourages you to play for the now, rather than saving forever for a future that may not come. It may be tempting to pick up a GMO lab to greatly ramp up food production, but if you do not have the adequate science production, that card might take up a precious slot in your hand for many turns, which can severely restrict your options. At the same time, the science resource is used in the building that increases your hand limit, which means you’ll have to decide between a greatly boosted food production or increasing the chances of obtaining another extremely valuable building the next turn, such a space telescope that can generate a ridiculous amount of science per turn. You will always be barely short of a particular resource, and while waiting to accumulate a sufficient amount, your attention will be ripped away towards another tantalizing new project that will completely derail all your previous plans.

At the start of every run, you are also prompted to select a leader. There are many leaders that each have special active abilities and a special passive ability, and you will be able to perform one action with them per turn. However, you are only able to choose from two randomly selected leaders at a time, and they retire after 10 turns, though their passive ability will remain with you for the rest of the run. Each leader will specialize in a particular area, whether it is resource generation, exploration, population support, or directly improving your terraforming parameters.

While the full release will offer additional game modes such as the highly anticipated endless mode, currently in Early Access, Terraformers offers a selection of victory conditions, and you choose one as an end-goal for your forthcoming run. For instance, you can choose to raise all four terraforming parameters to a certain level, or you can choose to propagate a certain amount of lifeforms. Each run then becomes a race to complete the objective as soon as possible, and you are scored based on your speed and performance. However, the run ends as soon as the objective is complete, which is a bit disappointing for prospective players who are looking to make an entirely green planet.

Event screen from Terraformers

 

Plans for release, and roadmap for the future

Currently, Terraformers is playable in an early access build, and additional features and content are planned to be included in the full release. This includes some modern staples such as an in-game wiki and the aforementioned endless mode (which is actually a fully featured custom mode), as well as a new feature known as Technologies, which are played like space projects but only require the science resource.

There is also a roadmap for all the updates up until release, which include a considerable amount of gameplay content and features. The roadmap can be viewed below.

Terraformers roadmap

 

Overall Score: 9.5/10

As a lover of roguelike and simulation games, and as a general enthusiast about space and sci-fi, Terraformers has definitely left a considerable impression on me. Its wonderfully addictive gameplay loop is wrapped in an immersive and lovingly crafted package that delivers on all fronts. While it’s undeniable that it is currently in an unfinished early-access state, the developers communicate frequently with the community and have shown several glimpses into the finished product, which show immense promise. Many of the issues that I’ve had with Terraformers are UI-related, but it appears that the UI, among many other aspects of the game, are due for a final layer of polish that will truly propel this game into greatness.

Terraformers was released for Early Access on Steam and GOG on April 21, 2022. There is no set date for full-release, but is expected to be within the next 6 months. Terraformers currently has localization for English, French, German, Spanish, and Russian.

There is a Discord available for the game, where the community can interact with the developers directly to learn more about the game, discuss development, and report issues.

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Episode 4 Review

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obi-wan in blue light from his lightsaber in the obi-wan Disney+ series part IV

In episode 4, Obi-Wan executes a stealth mission to get the child back in a nostalgic mission of old school Star Wars… for better or worse.

Last week was the showdown fans had been waiting for where Obi-Wan and Vader faced off again after 10 years. While I mentioned in my review that wasn’t a fan, apparently, I wasn’t the only person. As the fan divide over the series is starting to become more evident and the critic’s scores are starting to trend downward (but still stand pretty strong).

For me, it’s Vader that’s the problem. His dialogue and really just demeanor, reek of prequel Anakin Skywalker more than the original series Vader. I don’t see this changing. So for fans hoping things will be different, I’m unfortunately going to say: don’t hold your expectations up.

The beginning half of this shorter episode was intriguing as it was in many ways, a callback to Star Wars espionage stories. The kinds of sneaking featured in The Phantom Menace and A New Hope. Still, Obi-Wan the series seems focused on a singular goal: rescuing Leia while utilizing the resources of this underground Jedi Railroad.

While decent enough for a basic story, we’re also, deconstructing and sort of ruining, a lot of this resistance’s movement for the sake of saving the princess (which, if you critically analyze A New Hope, shares similar sentiment). This isn’t too bad though it does vex me in terms of more continuity issues. 

Why? Well, because it’s pretty obvious now that the series is really playing into Jedi: Fallen Order in terms of its imperial tone; given all the details about the inquisitors, and really, just the overall bleak ‘capture-and-kill’ them all approach of the empire. 

Though there won’t be any Cal Kestis appearances in this one, I do think the show is taking an interesting approach in bridging old versus new Star Wars. Even for someone like myself, who, after they deleted all of Star Wars: Legends, sort of stopped strictly adhering to canon or really following the storylines.

 

The Obi-Wan Problem

Darth Vader in Obi-Wan part IV

This episode sees Obi-Wan get his groove back proving that he’s still in great shape. This beckons the question for me, as to which Obi-Wan are we dealing with here? The Prequel or Original series? 

The problem is that the show does an awful job of aging/treating Obi-Wan like he’s washed up, but then in this episode, confirms that he’s basically just Obi-Wan from the Prequel series with a bit of rust. 

This infuriates me as it has a lot of fans because if this was the case, there was no reason for last week to play out like it had, as in almost no time, and for very little reason, Obi-Wan gets his groove back. No Force Qui-Gon to train him. No real delving into the Jedi ways. 

It’s just that Obi-Wan is officially back to the old form for the convenience of the story. This is what I am really starting to hate about this series. As we explain more in our detailed spoiler review below.

 

Star Wars Fans and Racism

First and foremost, let’s address the bigger issue in the Star Wars room. That was the racism over Reva, experienced by actress Moses Ingram. 

In a public statement visible above, the actress had pointed out just many people made comments insulting her about her race. This is unacceptable behavior given that she’s really just a good actor playing the bad person as a role.

If you’re expecting less fuel in this episode, well, don’t, because Reva’s more diabolical than ever before, representing what was most evil about the Inquisitors and what the Empire was. 

It’s also compelling that Lucasfilm/Star Wars made a comment almost immediately after the news hit the internet. As you can see below.

That said I’ll be clear where I stand: Moses Ingram is amazing as Reva and that hate is stemming from misguided hate over a fantastically badass performance. 

I stand with the actress and the toxicity from the fandom, is sort of why I stopped being as hardcore of a Star Wars fan as I used to be.

 

Spoiler-filled Review/Recap of Part IV

obi-wan in the bacta tank recovering in part IV of Obi-Wan Kenobi

First the Book of Boba, and now, Obi-Wan. It seems like Star Wars is getting their kicks in having people overutilize the bacta tanks. Given how well they healed Boba from the Sarlacc, perhaps it’s understandable why and sort of fixes any permanent burn scarring Obi-Wan could have suffered at the fate of Darth Vader in the last episode. 

Soon after, Obi-Wan and Tala seek further aid from their underground network, asking Roken, played by O’Shea Jackson Jr (Straight Outta Compton, where he played his father, Ice Cube), for aid. 

The actor’s role in Obi-Wan is brief compared to Flea, Kumail, or Zach Braff (who played the mole-person, Freck) but it should be noted, that Roken also calls Obi-Wan, General.

Essentially implying that he has some knowledge of the Clone Wars. He also reveals that his wife was a force-sensitive person too, taken, and likely killed by the inquisitors, like many of the people the underground had tried to help. 

Still, Obi-Wan and Tala press forward on their mission is to infiltrate Fortress Inquisitorious in order to rescue Leia.

Much of the execution plays in the stylings of The Phantom Menace and Attack of The Clones, in that the story feels very nostalgic and secretive. Befitting origins of the Rebel Alliance.


Support System Tala

Indra Varma is still awesome as Tala, and I’m rather glad the actress is getting some recognition after having such a longstanding career.

She was not only a major player as Ellaria in Game of Thrones, but also had roles in Luther, Human Target, and her earliest role in Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love. The actress often plays a love interest or supportive partner. 

Reports say that Tala was originally meant to be Obi-Wan’s romantic interest. I know many fans are sick of poorly written romances in Star Wars, but I actually kind of regret that they didn’t pursue this direction, given that the actress has made a pretty fantastic career of it and knows how to do the role better than most actresses. 

That said, Tala is still an absolute badass. Still pressing the role of the high-ranking Imperial officer, while also, just throwing down when necessary as a skillful combatant. Fully embracing the superspy role in this series as she plays everyone at Fortress Inquisitorious with skill.

There’s a moment where she shines pulling rank against an imperial security officer, which sort of reminds audiences, just how authoritative this character is in terms of her on-screen presence. 

At least, until she eventually meets Third Sister Reva, who doesn’t buy into her distraction.

 

Reva: I don’t know if you’re lying to me or for me but we’ll see

As said above, Reva is easily the most diabolical character in the series. In many ways, proving to be more sinister than Vader himself (who to be honest, is sort of a one-dimensional killing machine, lacking a lot of the gravitas of the original trilogy Vader it seems). 

How she interrogates people, and just her overall cruelty, is just amazing in a villainous way, which is odd, what’s instigating a lot of frustrations that toxic fans may have.

Seeing her start the process to torture a child Leia, is horrifying. As is her overall cruelty in how easily she accepts these sins as undeniable facts necessary for the system of life within the empire. 

Leia’s only saved by an intervening Obi-Wan and Tala, who upon request for a distraction, tries misdirecting the inquisitor to Florum.

But Reva doesn’t buy the act which leads to Tala’s last desperation play: admitting she was a spy working as a secret spy, effectively playing both sides for the sake of her secret imperial mission (she wasn’t. It’s just a really bad lie).

Before things get any worse, a shoot-out begins just as Obi-Wan makes his move to rescue the princess.

 

Obi-Wan’s Mission Is A Lot of Callbacks

 

vader chokes Reva in Obi-wan Part IV

Obi-Wan’s rescue mission begins with a swimming Obi-Wan, a callback last seen in The Phantom Menace (Disney+ even suggests watching it at the end of the episode) and Revenge of The Sith.

The infiltration goes off without a hitch, as Obi-Wan has had a surprisingly great history of sneaking into places such as the Death Star and Utapau.

When Obi-Wan explores Fortress Inquisitorious, he does find signs of a tomb, with many bodies of force sensitives entrapped in a fluid, presumable preserved or dead.

It’s then that the old Jedi Master is able to sense an under duress Leia, as he coordinates with Tala to save her while using the darkness to strike down the stormtroopers guarding her.

It’s sort of awkward to look at as Stormtroopers are harder to cut down than droids (I guess it’s the armor?), but then the episode gets… enthusing yet utterly confusing. 

Because Obi-Wan, when pressed on both sides by a droid and some stormtroopers, suddenly becomes a re-learned Obi-Wan again.

His lightsaber prowess and badassness returned back to his Revenge of The Sith days, where The Jedi Master deflected bolts, used the force, did some twirls, and really, just became a lot of what who he used to be when last we’d seen him in the story. 

This begs to question, where exactly are we in terms of Vader and Obi-Wan? As the continuity feels even further off and closer to Prequels than Originals, making last week’s duel more questionable than ever.

Regrouped but cornered, Obi-Wan, Tala, and Leia do manage to escape. Thanks to the timely intervention of some speeders.

Seeing Reva reveal to an angry Darth Vader, revealing that this was ‘her plan all along’, does make this series infuriating, however, as that’s exactly the same kind of logic Tala was using in saying that she was a spy, pretending to be a spy, that was in fact: a spy for the other side…

 

The Take

After starting off hot the series has cooled down for me tremendously, as so many of these issues could have been resolved with one tiny statement: that Obi-Wan was disconnected from the force this entire time in hiding.

If they’d set up that this journey was Obi-Wan’s reconnecting to that Force in order to save Leia, I think this could’ve been a stronger series.

The fact that we don’t say it outright left a lot of this ambiguity in a bad way, leaving fans semi in the dark, in terms of Star Wars continuity and really just overall show expectations.

Seeing Obi-Wan’s physicality and prowess in these last two episodes just exacerbates this, as if he’s still in fighting shape, there’s really no reason to not have some of his skills intact. Which, we end up revealing here… conveniently after the epic duel fail episode.

Right now, I don’t know why this was made into the series. It feels in-between prequel and original Star Wars, yet somehow, doesn’t sell us on either because we know where these characters will be in the next chapter. Cool to see? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely not so far.

Though there is still time to find the heart of this series: whether it’s Obi-Wan’s redemption with his relationship with Leia, him taking the first steps to become Sir Alec Guinness, or just some sort of tragic retcon that comfortably resets us and sets us up for A New Hope.

I do like the show. I just… put it on par with Revenge of The Sith at this moment. Good in an entertaining way but not great and a message that I’m not entirely clear of except that: The Empire was eviler than we realized. 

Mostly, I’d rather have an Inquisitor series or play Jedi: Fallen Order. That’s not a good thing for a show called Obi-Wan Kenobi.

 

The Boys Season 3 Episode 3 Review and Recap: ‘Barbary Coast’

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Payback, a parody of The Avengers

Take a Dark Trip Down Memory Lane in Barbary Coast

Before we get deep into Barbary Coast, I wanted to clarify something. I had been saying that MM’s father likely died of collateral damage thanks to Soldier Boy. But after watching The Only Man in the Sky again, MM clearly says his father died at his desk. Which doesn’t fit that supposition on my part. In any case, I suspect we’ll find out the details of MM’s grudge against Soldier Boy very soon. Also, I misspoke when I said we hadn’t seen anything from Soldier Boy yet. We did briefly see him in the movie clip before Crimson Countess’ song and dance, but we get to see a lot more in this episode. So let’s talk about the latest madcap adventure of The Boys.

 

The Boys 3.3 Recap: Barbary Coast

It all starts with a flashback to Starlight on the Little Miss Hero pageant. She’s young, impressionable and singing the hell out of Baby One More Time. It’s more than a bit uncomfortable, mostly because her mother is pushing her to sing and dance while acting twice her age. But the young actress does a great job of portraying a widdle Starlight, and showing how stressed she is by it all.

Barbary Coast | Super Baby

Speaking of stress, Homelander is officially unchained. Not only did his insane speech get well received, his popularity numbers are up, Ashley reports. So of course this means he feels like he can do whatever he wants. He starts by screwing up the American Hero contest. Starlight wants to nominate the Muslim hero, Silver Kincaid, to The Seven, and instead Homelander brings back The Deep. Mostly to humiliate Starlight and to show nobody can control him. When Starlight threatens to show Maeve’s video, he responds that he’d prefer to be loved, but he’s happy to be feared. And if he had nothing more to lose, he’d start raining destruction on the infrastructure of the United States. Just for funsies.

A-Train reconnects with his brother in the episode, and is counseled that he can do more as a mentor than a hero. Turns out, if A-Train uses his powers again, he might die from the strain. His brother also tries to instill some civic duty in his little superpowered bro, telling him about a superhero intervention gone horribly wrong, and ending with the murder of an innocent black man in their neighborhood. While I’m not sure where A-Train’s story is going, I hope he starts to use his platform to speak for something that matters. I think that’s possible, but we’ll see.

Barbary Coast | Poor Frenchie

Frenchie is also on a side mission, trying to help his former paramour, Cherie. She tells him she’s back to slinging drugs for a Russian named Little Nina, and claims someone stole 11 kilos from her. Later on Frenchie is forcibly brought to speak with Little Nina. Turns out, Cherie stole the drugs herself, and Nina wants Frenchie to work for her again. And possibly under her. There’s clearly some disturbing sexual history between the two, and she says Frenchie is just a rabid dog that always heels for his master. Frenchie doesn’t want anything to do with her, but I have a bad feeling this side story isn’t done yet.

The meat of Barbary Coast is about the aftershocks of Butcher’s superpowered murder of Gunpowder, and discovering the truth about how Soldier Boy died. When he pushes Grace for answers, she tries to pretend she knows nothing. Butcher doesn’t buy it, and uses something he stole from Mallory to leverage the woman into giving answers. Turns out, it all happened back in the 80’s in Nicaragua. The CIA was forced to work with Vought, and the superpowered doofuses mess everything up. Soldier Boy is clearly a sexist pig, acted masterfully by Jensen Ackles. But he’s far from the worst. He only hits on a young Mallory, but another hero named Swatto accidentally draws Russian forces to their location.

Things go horribly wrong, and not just because of the Russian invaders. The superheroes kill tons of their own team, and more than a hundred people perish. We also learn why Black Noir never takes off his mask anymore. Mallory gets thrown by an explosion after nearly being killed by a trigger happy Gunpowder, and wakes up to find Soldier Boy is dead. Worse, the Russians took his body with them after killing the hero with some mystery gun. Butcher wants that gun, but he’s also furious that Mallory didn’t tell him it existed sooner. He claims he could have killed Homelander ages ago and maybe then Becca would be alive. Grace counters saying that he’ll never stop, and only kills heroes to satisfy his own selfish urges to hurt people. Then he proves her right by saying something unforgivable to young Ryan.

Barbary Coast | Dynamic Duo

Not satisfied just torturing Starlight, Homelander also brings The Deep into the fold again, and then forces everyone to only eat seafood. Which is the worst sort of humiliation for Deep, since he can hear what all the seafood is saying. Then he’s forced to eat an octopus (named Timothy) that’s still alive while Homelander watches. It’s gross and cruel, and I nearly gagged watching that scene. But it aptly illustrates how off the rails Homelander has become.

The Verdict The Boys Season 3 Episode 3

Despite the dark stuff, there’s some really great moments in Barbary Coast. It’s fun seeing all The Boys back together again, and it’s clear they have a lot of love for each other. MM and Frenchie hurl insults lovingly at each other, and Hughie has more balls than sense. But they work well as a team. Kimiko also connects briefly with Ryan, and it’s really touching. I just wish Kimiko could accept her own powers and continue to use them for good, instead of dwelling on how they’ve changed her life.

Just when you think Homelander can’t get worse, he announces to everybody that he and Starlight are in love. And because Starlight promised Hughie she’ll tough it out in The Seven until they can find a way to kill Homelander, she forces herself to go along with it, and even makes out with the homicidal hero. While it’s helpful that her ex Supersonic is now on the team and has her back, I have no doubts that Homelander is only going to get worse. Whether or not The Boys can find a way to kill him this season is the real question.

 

 

The Boys Season 3 Episode 2 Review and Recap: ‘The Only Man in the Sky’

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Billy Butcher with laser eyes

The Only Man in the Sky Keeps the Pressure Up, With Homelander Unraveling Before Our Eyes

In my last review of The Boys Season 3, I briefly mentioned how Maeve’s threat was holding Homelander at bay. Keeping the narcissistic, superpowered jackass in check. Well, as of this episode, The Only Man in the Sky, things are changing. And not for the better, at least as far as the safety and sanity of this crazy world is concerned. But definitely for the better for us fans enjoying this wild ride.

Recap

It all starts with an even more amazing movie sequence than Charlize Theron as a super nazi. It’s a trailer for a movie based on the Deep’s memoir, and it’s more hilarious than I can put into words. And that’s a great place to start, since things get much darker very quickly.

Despite the temptation, Butcher is fighting the urge to use V24 doses to get superpowers of his own. He even has a nightmare about it before waking up to Ryan on a Zoom call. Somehow Butcher has become a reluctant father figure to the lad, despite being utterly unqualified for such a responsibility. Unfortunately for Ryan, Butcher is still distraught by the death of the boy’s mother, Becca. And he lashes out when he’s in pain, making the boy feel unwanted. Truly, the only thing Butcher wants other than Ryan being happy and healthy is to kill Homelander with his own two hands.

In The Only Man in the Sky, Supersonic shakes hands with Homelander, while Annie looks on rather tense. All in the boys season 3 episode 2.
Supersonic (Annie’s Ex) meets Homelander at a really fraught birthday bash.

Speaking of which, Vought is hosting a big birthday bash for the psychotic test tube man child. As such, he’s being even more of a douche than usual. Even Stormfront seems tired of his nonsense, though that’s probably due in large part to being more torso than uberbitch. She hasn’t been healing like I worried she might after last season, but she’s whole enough to talk and give Homelander disgusting favors.

Since Homelander isn’t feeling the love from his woman, he’s taking his rage out on Starlight for being nominated as co captain of The Seven by Stan Edgar. He changes her script for his birthday bash, and wants her to sing a sexy Marilyn Monroe edition of Happy Birthday to him. Annie isn’t having it, and thankfully gets backed up by Stan the man, which shuts the blonde bastard up temporarily.

We finally learn the reason MM has been doing research when he’s not being a father. Turns out, Soldier Boy was responsible for the death of MM’s father. It looks like collateral damage, but it’s been weighing on him more and more. And that’s before Butcher comes knocking for his help in finding facts about what killed Soldier Boy. He feels that might give him a weapon to finally kill Homelander with, but it leads to many messy missions for the crew.

Kimiko and Frenchie head to Vought Land to interrogate Soldier Boy’s girlfriend, the Crimson Countess. The entire place is gaudy and fake, like a truly twisted Disney Land, but it still appeals to Kimiko. Not due to what it’s selling, but because she desperately wants to reclaim a childhood she never had. When Kimiko and Frenchie talk with the Countess back stage, it quickly goes badly and the woman escapes. As they chase her, she tosses a blast of heat and death that explodes a mascot in the wrong place, right before she escapes. The whole incident brings up bad emotions for Kimiko, who later confesses to Frenchie she feels like she’s broken and can never be a real person thanks to her unwanted powers.

Hughie is overwrought after discovering firsthand his boss, Neumann, is a supe. And a dangerous one at that. He hunts a lead about Red River, a group home for superpowered children where Neumann grew up. After being outed by a terrifying super child, he pretends he’s looking to adopt a kid with Starlight. Meanwhile he steals info from the computer and realizes the amazing extent of Neumann’s powers. He also finds out that the person who adopted her was none other than Stan Edgar. He apparently serves as a father figure and also cleans up Victoria’s messes.

A-Train's new suit in the only man in the sky, the boys season 3 episode 2

Though we don’t get much time with Deep, A-Train takes his place as comic foil. He desperately wants to rebrand, since his powers aren’t what they used to be. He tries to push it to Ashley, and she politely ignores him, pretending she’ll look into it. But that doesn’t stop A-Train from getting his own new costume later when he introduces Homelander to a hungry crowd of idiots.

Butcher also goes to what’s essentially The Boys’ version of the NRA, searching for Soldier Boy’s former sidekick, Gunpowder. While parts of this scene were hard to watch, especially with the current rash of gun violence, they also poke a ton of fun at the fetishization of gun culture. Butcher pretends to be a fanboy of the supe, only to start poking the bear in the bathroom. Which isn’t a good idea, since afterwards Gunpowder does his level best to murder Butcher from a distance in the parking garage. The supe is a super marksman, and he nearly does Billy in before he distracts him with some car alarms and escapes.

In The Only Man in the Sky, Hughie looks to Adopt in a ploy to find information
Hughie is surprisingly capable as a G-Man.

Things start to unravel when Homelander is trying to stop someone from jumping off a roof, only to discover that Stormfront has killed herself. On his birthday, no less. Suffice to say, he goes from stopping the jumper to encouraging her, and things don’t calm down from there. MM is losing his cool and decides it’s best to leave his daughter in his wife’s care. And just as a wounded Butcher is thinking he should take a step back, Hughie reveals that his new boss is a supe.

It all culminates in another confrontation between Butcher and Gunpowder, but this time Butcher is ready. He took a dose of the V24, and he beats a confession out of Gunpowder. Turns out, Butcher’s old ally Grace and the CIA were associated with the death of Soldier Boy. Which although helpful, doesn’t stop Butcher from murdering the supe, thanks in part to a sudden onset of heat vision. And just when you think things couldn’t get any crazier, Homelander snaps and basically gives a toxic masculinity Ted Talk on stage.

The Verdict on The Only Man In The Sky

Overall, The Only Man in the Sky was a fantastic follow up to Payback, and I’m excited to see where this season goes. Especially since we have yet to see Jensen Ackles’ portrayal of Soldier Boy, who is basically a far right Captain America. Be sure and tune in soon for our upcoming review of the next episode of The Boys.

Interview With Writer Chris Kipiniak on His Upcoming Horror Comics Release ‘Behemoth’

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the cover art of behemoth by J.K. Woodward. Where a girl is being mutated into a monster

A body-horror comic series about black-ops exploitation of children’s adolescence that’s gone horribly awry, we talk with author Chris Kipiniak about this harrowing horror story. Available in stores this July 6th.

Perhaps every parent’s greatest fear is hearing the words: there is something wrong with your child. It’s one of those very particular fears that evokes silence in the room. The kind of pin-drop moment that tells the audience that, whatever lies on the other side of that door, things may never be the same again. 

This is what makes Behemoth’s tale unique. That it’s not necessarily a tale about the nature of the monsters themselves, but rather, the horrible people who control them. 

As described in Behemoth’s story synopsis:

“Theresa woke up one day with claws. After a fight with her mother turns violent, government agents take her to an internment camp holding others going through similar transformations. As Theresa adjusts to life surrounded by monsters, she finds herself becoming more beast-like in mind as well as body. Her only hope to protect her intelligence is the training that is part of Project: Behemoth, a covert program that turns volunteers into living weapons. But will joining protect her humanity? Or make her more of a monster? Behemoth is a coming-of-age story told through horror, about contemporary themes of identity, individuality, and resistance. It’s like the ‘X-Men’ if the Xavier School were a government-run black site”

Created by Chris Kipiniak and J.K. Woodward, Behemoth launches from Scott Comic’s Black Caravan imprint, for an officially printed release this July 6th. The final order cutoff date will be set on June 5th, so be sure to reach out to your local comic book shops to pre-order.

The series is about a group of kids whose adolescence sees them oddly being turned into Lovecraftian monsters. Afterwards they are rounded up to either continue living as prisoners or serve the US government for their black-ops program: Project: Behemoth. 

I had the chance to chat with Kipiniak about details regarding this upcoming release. A long-standing comics writer whose worked on titles such as Nightcrawler, Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man and Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s City On The Edge of Forever, Chris Kipiniak is by all means a journeyman’s creative as I’ve ever met. He’s someone who has delved into a little bit of creative everything. I ask him several questions about Behemoth below. 

Can you briefly describe what Behemoth is about, and quickly, describe what makes it different from something like an X-Men or Suicide Squad in terms of its concept? 

“The elevator pitch I use is, ‘Kids, turning into monsters, are put into camps and given a choice: live out your life as a beast or run suicide missions for the U.S. Government as part of Project: BEHEMOTH.’ 

For me, Behemoth is about identity and the internal struggle to hold on to your sense of self when circumstances, including your own changing body and the outside world’s perceptions, want to define you as something else. Is Theresa a monster because of her body or because people treat her as one? 

It’s different from the X-Men in that the X-Men have a supportive power structure in the form of Professor X and the Xavier school (or, currently, Krakoa), which nurtures community and a sense of belonging. The characters in BEHEMOTH are systematically dehumanized and taught that their differences makes them less. 

The Suicide Squad deals with fully formed individuals, adults who have created/taken on identities, self-identified, “villains,” who have engaged in a kind of bargain based on that identity, as opposed to the young people in BEHEMOTH who are being told what they are during a time when they’re still adjusting to changes. 

I love both the X-Men (especially Gerry Duggan’s current run) and the Suicide Squad as both concepts and comics, but BEHEMOTH engages with these issues in very different ways.”

 

What is it like working with artist J.K. Woodward? How does communication work between the two of you and what was your collaborative process like?

“J.K. is an amazing artist who is getting better all the time. He is best known for his photo-realistic work in the Star Trek books, but in BEHEMOTH, we get to see another facet of his art, which both harkens back to his fine arts background and displays his talent as a designer. 

I wrote these as full scripts which we’d then go over together, in order to clarify and tweak in terms of page layout and design. This was our first full collaboration so one thing I learned was just how creative and full of ideas he is about story, about character elements, and about visual presentation. 

On our next go round, I’d want to take better advantage of by beating out story points with him before scripting to get a different perspective and to better write to where his passions and interests lie.” 

 

A unique thing about the series is how it features children that are transforming into grotesque monsters. What inspirational sources, styles, or research did you pull from regarding the appearance and abilities of these creatures?

“Some of it was personal, in the sense of thinking of my own fears or things I find scary or disgusting, and building characters backward from there. Some was thematic. A theme in the book is dehumanization and, in a related sense, devolution. The camp they are kept in is called ‘The Kennel’. They are trained by breaking complex tasks into simpler, smaller actions. Theresa is reverting, becoming more bestial, and losing her humanity. So animals became a touchstone. 

For me, her transformation involved something unexpected coming from within, engulfing her, and perhaps trapping a shrinking human part of her inside. So that made me think of exoskeletons, both in nature (bugs, lobsters), and in comics and pop culture. 

Then, of course, just visual coolness/design became part of it. So, some of the reference pulls (for the main characters and some we haven’t seen yet) were Cronenberg’s The Fly, Marvel’s Thing, DC’s character, August General in Iron, the Herculoids, Xenomorphs, and the whole ever-expanding genre of Lovecraft inspired weirdness. There are also a lot of background characters which J.K. did an amazing job with, who populate this world with so many weird and unsettling images that instantly hint at different stories.” 

 

There’s this really cool resemblance between body horror and adolescence. As both mark a moment of awkward development and change. Can you talk about Theresa’s journey of transformation and identity? 

“Theresa to me is a tragic figure. As you point out, adolescence is its own moment of rapid and terrifying change where we are all trying to navigate what to hold on to and what to let go of. In Theresa’s case, that change is accelerated, magnified, and made worse by added outside pressure. She–and we–can’t help but be informed by the way people around her treat her, which imprints itself on her, driving her further and further from truly knowing herself, or being able to choose who she wants to be.

By the end, how much of who she is comes from her own choice and how much from what the world allowed her to be? If she had done something differently, could she have changed that? There’s an obvious metaphor for adolescence in there and how societies create adults which often have more to do with what the societies want than who the adolescents truly are. 

But life is all about change. This dynamic is constantly playing out. Your, and her, identity is never truly set, or truly finished. You don’t stop changing until, well, the end, either of the story or of life. That can be sad. Or it can be hopeful.” 

 

Mental deterioration is a big plot point in this story. Especially, in how the government seems to be exploiting this for the sake of using these people for forced missions of project Behemoth. What can you share about this military origination in this comic and especially, the role of the project head: Major Rayne.

“I see Major Rayne as being a little inhuman himself in that he is utilitarian to the point of being almost sociopathic. In his eyes, the country has this problem of its people turning into monsters, and there are no clear solutions as to what to do about them. 

Can’t do nothing, because the monsters become a threat to everyone else. Locking them up is its own kind of torture and a drain on resources, as well as posing the obvious threat of potential (inevitable) escape. Killing them outright shocks the conscience. But maybe, after locking them up, they can be trained, given something to do, something useful…it benefits the volunteers by arresting their mental devolution, keeping them from being bored, and gives them meaning. 

If they die, at least it was for a cause…and also alleviates overcrowding. If they are captured on foreign soil, they become someone else’s problem. Most importantly, there are no human rights qualms because they are no longer seen as human. This kind of thinking is what leads to the project. It’s inherently exploitative, and based on contradictions which it would be inconvenient to see. But it can be presented to those being exploited as a choice. 

This dynamic is, I think, pretty common where there are in-groups and out-groups. The mental deterioration element is important to me because I think it is the thing that makes us feel human. It’s one thing if others try to take it away from you. It’s another, more heart-breaking thing, to feel like you are losing that.”

 

You’ve done many creative endeavors throughout your career. How is writing different than say acting or narrating something on audio? What do you think makes comics so unique? 

“Acting and narrating are both interpretive arts, taking an existing script/book and then filtering it through your own perspective to communicate it to an audience. Writing is a little more basic, a little more generative. More of its raw material comes from you. Comics are unique in the way that they are experienced in a way that is both static and moving through time simultaneously. 

You can marvel at the same comic page for hours, examining the facets of the experience of an instant. You can put it down, come back to it, and it will be forever locked in that instant. That special effect, of playing with, slowing down and speeding up, time, is almost totally subconscious on the part of the reader. 

Other visual media can be as dramatic, or as visceral, and word based forms can be as imagination-based. But nothing joins the external/objective drama with the internal/subjective experience in a way that is quite as personal as comics.”

 

What were some of your favorite comics that you’ve worked on throughout your career and why? Was there anything from these experiences either stylistically or narrative-wise, that audiences can sort of recognize in Behemoth?

“I love comics and each one I’ve written has been a joy from start to finish. It’s impossible to pick a favorite! I will say doing the Nightcrawler limited series from Marvel was exciting because it was my first published comics work, my first work for Marvel, and was part of the happiest time of my life. 

There are narrative and stylistic overlaps between it and BEHEMOTH because both are about defining oneself through action taken in the face of impossible circumstances, and both are as concerned with examining character motivation and repercussions of action as much as showing the action itself.” 

 

This comic was originally printed by a different publisher. Can you explain the change, and better yet, the sort of audience you’re now trying to reach?

“The original publication was exclusively digital. Which was gratifying and wonderful. But the book was conceived for print, and so this format is in many ways a better way to read it and particularly to be able to see J.K.’s art. I think we hope to reach a market that has a little more time to be more deliberate in their reading.” 

 

What is the biggest thing you’d like fans to take away from the series?

“I feel that art and entertainment foster empathy, broaden perspectives, and deepen the soul by virtue of experiencing them. I don’t want to prescribe the interpretations readers will have of the themes I’ve mentioned above because it will, I hope, hit different readers differently. What I hope they take away is that they found themselves intrigued, entertained, and moved to feel. And that the story and the images stay with them.”

 

How can audiences best support Behemoth?

“The most important is to pre-order your book from your local comic shop this weekend. Just call and ask for the book by name, BEHEMOTH, published by Black Caravan, an imprint of Scout comics. The Previews code is MAY221281. The Lunar code, which is another distributor shops use, is 0522SC231. 

Shops order issues based on these pre-orders numbers. If you don’t have a local shop, you can get in touch with shops online. Second most important is to buy the book on its release date, July 6, 2022. And third is to follow J.K. and I on social media and help spread the word about the book. Thank you for supporting us and for supporting independent comics!”

 

The Boys Season 3 Episode 1 Review: ‘Payback’

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The Boys Are Back and Off To A Bloody Wild Beginning

I’ve been a fan of The Boys since it was just a wild and bloody graphic novel. Hell, I’m still surprised it got adapted for streaming at all, given the subject material. So the chance to cover Season 3 was too exciting to say no to. And as this review of the first episode, Payback, will show, they’re continuing not to pull any punches since it’s last season finale.

Payback begins with a delightfully tongue-in-cheek scene. It shows Homelander confronting a blonde version of Stormfront played by Charlize Theron. Turns out, they had to retool The Seven movie after the reveal that Stormfront was an actual Nazi, and now Homelander is against the Uberbitch. Or so his lines say.

 

The Boys Season 3 Episode 1: Payback’s an UberBitch

Homelander and Starlight in season 3 episode 1: Payback

When we get back to reality, the adapted movie is a hit, but people are still very much questioning Homelander’s allegiances. Meanwhile the superpowered maniac is just one bad moment away from lasering everyone to bloody chunks. Maeve’s threat from last season is still holding him at bay, but just barely.

Things are going well for Hughie, at least at first. He’s spending a lot of time with Starlight, in and out of the bedroom. And his new job at the FBSA (Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs) seems to be much more stable and grounded than when he was Butcher’s whipping boy. He spends his days gathering intel and then sending Butcher, Frenchie and Kimiko to collect dirt on superpowered douchebags. Neumann and him have a great shorthand and lots of oddly flirty energy, though she does have a bad tendency to steal bites from his sandwiches. And perhaps most shocking of all, Hughie is kind of a celebrity at his new job. Both for dating Starlight and helping deal with Stormfront a year ago.

As for Butcher, he’s still enjoying hunting supes, but he’s less than happy about playing by someone else’s rules. He actually reports to Hughie now, which obviously grates on him. As does the fact MM left the group to be a father. But he’s still trying to play ball, even when his latest surveillance quickly goes horribly wrong. Frenchie and Kimiko are surveilling someone named Termite at a wild party. Think Ant-Man but as a giant asshole, and you’re on the right track.

Things go incredibly badly when Termite does some coke and then jumps somewhere he really shouldn’t, only to sneeze and accidentally enlarge himself, murdering his boyfriend in the process. When Frenchie and Kimiko arrive, the Supe doesn’t want them talking about what happened, so he starts throwing the two around with enhanced strength and minuscule stature. He nearly does Frenchie in before Butcher arrives, literally bagging the little bastard and then tossing him in a small pile of cocaine, which finally knocks him on his ass.

In the boys season 3 episode 1, we see The Deep and Wife

Although he’s not front and center, the Deep is still a good comic foil. The blithering idiot managed to escape his cult after Neumann blew up the cult leader’s brain, but nobody seems to be aware of that little detail yet. Surprisingly, Deep still has his prearranged wife hanging around him. A-Train is still doing lots of photo ops, but it seems his powers aren’t what they used to be. Homelander even cruelly mocks him about his eating habits at one point in the episode, after seeing A-Train sipping some macchiato monstrosity.

The big reveal in Payback is that Stan Edgar is trying to sell the US government on superpowered soldiers again. But there’s a twist this time. He has a new, untested formula that is supposed to only give people powers for 24 hours or so. Supposedly that would remove the issue of super-powered divas, though I have my doubts. So does Jim Beaver’s character, Secretary of Defense Singer. Looks like he’s aiming to become president, and Edgar is trying to leverage him before that even happens. Regardless, someone else brings a few doses to Butcher later in the episode, saying that’s the only way he’ll be able to get what he needs to finally take Homelander down permanently.

Homelander's Manic Smile in Season 3 Episode 1 Payback

There’s a lot of fun moments in Payback. MM is at an especially awkward birthday party for his little girl. His wife has apparently left him for some milquetoast bozo, and MM is gritting his teeth and trying to live a normal life, while still doing research on supes in his free time. We also see a bloody confrontation between Neumann and someone that knows her dark secrets. Even Butcher gets a lighthearted scene with his wife’s superpowered son. But perhaps my favorite moment is when Kimiko suddenly starts singing beautifully. It only happens in her mind’s eye, but actress Karen Fukuhara has some real pipes and a lovely tone. Later on she’s trying in vain to recreate the song with a keyboard, and driving Butcher nuts in the bargain.

Overall Payback was a great start to Season 3 of The Boys. It was bloody, funny and twisted. And as a fan of the comic, I’ve been waiting for The Boys to get temporary superpowers for a while. I’m sure there’s only more delightful insanity to come. So be sure and stay tuned for our upcoming reviews of the rest of the season!

Meet the Cast of The Real Housewives of Dubai

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the real housewives of dubai
Promotional photo for The Real Housewives of Dubai, courtesy of NBC Universal / Bravo Media

Everything you need to know about who’s in the cast and what went down in the series premiere

The twelfth installment of The Real Housewives is set in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With its rapidly growing economy, ultramodern architecture, and cosmopolitan glamor, Dubai attracts millions of tourists each year and is home to many wealthy expatriates.

In the series premiere, we are introduced to the six leading ladies…

 

The Real Housewives of Dubai Cast

Chanel Ayan

  • First Black supermodel in Dubai
  • From Kenya
  • Speaks four languages and is a self-proclaimed “badass bitch”
  • Has a 16-year-old son, Taj

Caroline Stanbury

  • Entrepreneur and podcast host
  • From London, UK, and just got married in Mauritius to a former Real Madrid soccer player three days before the start of the show
  • Doesn’t mind lounging in bed when her dog has peed in it
  • Mother of three from her first marriage

Nina Ali

  • Mommy influencer and CEO of a cake company
  • Born in Lebanon and grew up in Austin, Texas
  • Is a spiritual hippie who charges crystals under the full moon
  • Has three children

Lesa Milan

  • Runs a fashion empire for luxury maternity wear
  • From Jamaica and met her husband in Miami, Florida
  • Gets giant blocks of ice delivered to her pool when the temperature is too hot
  • Would do anything for her three children

Caroline Brooks

  • Realtor, entrepreneur, and spa enthusiast
  • From Newton, Massachusetts
  • Owns two homes in Dubai
  • Single mother to 9-year-old Adam

Dr. Sara Al Madani

  • Tech entrepreneur
  • From the UAE
  • Considers herself a rebel, open-minded, modern, and experimental
  • Single mother to Maktoum, born in 2015

Plot points: Caroline S. throws a bachelorette party on a boat and excludes Ayan. Nina and Sara visit the Dubai Frame with their kids. Nina throws a glamorous rooftop dinner party with a view of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on Earth. Ayan demands to know why Caroline B. called her at an ungodly hour to tell her that Caroline S. thinks Ayan is unimportant.

The Real Housewives of Dubai is broadcast on Bravo.

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Episode 3 Review

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In the third episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi, we see the old Jedi Master seek allies. Major spoilers here in this Obi-Wan Part III review.

The return of Ewan McGregor and his furrowed eyebrows of intensity! In last week’s Obi-Wan’s Episodes 1 and 2 review, we were reminded why we secretly loved the prequel trilogies. The second episode had ended on a cliffhanger where Obi-Wan learned from Reva that Vader was alive.

But this wasn’t even the highlight of the series. Besides the cameos of Flea and Kumail Nanjiani–both of which, were fantastic–the introduction of a young princess Leia, played dutifully by Vivien Lyra Blair, was easily what stole the show. The character gives audiences a glimpse of who Leia was as a child and how her youthful gumption and hardheadedness led to her eventual becoming of a brave and rebellious young leader. 

Most importantly, we were also introduced to the menacing inquisitors. Ex-Jedi turned force hunters who make for some truly dangerous villains. Their quest for Obi-Wan comes to a head in episode 3 with the return of what we’ve all been waiting for…

Darth Vader, making his triumphant return. Played by Hayden Christensen and Voiced by James Earl Jones. 

With an exciting first two episodes to kick off the season, Obi-Wan naturally, could only get better from here right? Well… I’m not entirely sure. And I’m starting to get a lot of prequel trilogy vibes in a bad way. Here’s why.

 

Obi-Wan Part III Review

So let’s start with the episode’s early scenes, where it was really cool to see Vader’s armor slowly assemble like an Iron Man suit. Which to be honest, felt befitting, given Jon Favreau’s involvement in Star Wars lately. The costume looks menacing and the green buttons that glow in the dark really stand out. Giving Vader a classic yet modern apppeal.

Still, the first sign of concern may have been that Vader’s still hanging around Mustafar. Because despite 10 years having gone by while co-running an empire, Vader really seems to still be tapping into his dark side. Constantly reminding himself of the thing that burnt him (that plus, all the Sith energy in his castle).

Meanwhile, on Mapuzo, Obi-Wan is grumpy about the constant reminder of his failures. Hating that he sees signs of the empire everywhere. He continues his journey to return Leia home but it’s obvious how much he’s lost his faith in people. To get by, the duo comes up with a lie that they’re farmers from Tawl. Which works until it doesn’t and an inevitable confrontation is had with Stormtroopers.

leia in kenobi episode 3

It’s funny seeing Obi-Wan struggle to lie while Leia seems to be so good at it. Yet, herein lies sort of another big continuity problem, as this is the man (as an even older version of himself in the future, mind you) who introduced us to the Jedi Mind Trick. 

So either Obi-Wan is that rusty, or he’s old, or maybe, just maybe, it’s just convenient writing…  which is sort of the problem all throughout this episode.

On the positive, we see Obi-Wan finally share his family history. Memories of fondness before becoming a Jedi.

On the negative, for such an honest Kenobi, he fights like he’s in a dirty Western. With oddly decent dexterity for an old man, at least, when it comes to blasters and hand-to-hand combat. Ironically, it’s Obi-Wan’s poor lightsaber skills that annoyed me in this episode as it’s the one thing that Obi-Wan mastered for decades of his life and not the other two skills (he especially despised blasters if you remember).

I don’t see any sort of logical reason how Obi-Wan can still be a hand-to-hand fighter with skills using a blaster, yet still, be rusty with his old weapon. I think the smarter call would have been rust overall and for me, Obi-Wan taking out a battalion of troops ruins the immersion.

Now, most of this episode focuses on running and hiding from Stormtroopers, which isn’t bad, except this now makes for three episodes of these escapes. It’s feeling a little exhaustive. The metaphor of the path as an underground railroad to Jabiim, a place to relocate, is nice. Force-sensitive children taken by Empire and disappearing–less so nice, but makes for good worldbuilding in the storytelling.

Actress Indira Varma, who’d previously played Pedro Pascal’s paramour in Game of Thrones (Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand), plays Tala Durith. An imperial woman leading this underground railroad. Her story culminates in an attempt at saving Obi-Wan, though at the loss of Leia, who Reva captures as a prize to impress Vader. In the hopes of taking the new role of Grand Inquisitor.

For that matter, The Grand Inquisitor can’t be dead, right? Because it would make no sense in regards to Star Wars: Rebels, where he’s very much alive. It’s something that I’m sure many will say can be easily reconned, except for any diehard fans, who know exactly why this would be stupid…

Because the person who created Rebels and wrote The Grand Inquisitor… was Dave Filoni.

The very Dave Filloni responsible for The Mandalorian, and in so many ways, has been the saving grace of Star Wars since the debacle of the sequel trilogy. I’m going to throw this out there: I don’t think Filoni agreed to or knew about the Inquisitor dying. And if this death is permanent, it forever changes years of Filoni’s work on Star Wars.

Which I don’t think he’d be happy about… This is very much a concern for me, as if Reva’s storyline somehow sees her become the replacement Grand Inquisitor. It effectively retcons all of Star Wars: Rebels.

 

The Duel?

There was a lot of hype building up to this moment. But I have a bad feeling about this from what I’ve seen. Since returning in Rogue One, Vader has become somewhat of a one-dimensional killing machine. More Terminator than man.

We see him murder an innocent family in trying to lure Obi-Wan out in this episode. We also, get some awkward one-liners that conveniently lack some of the eloquence that the character used to speak with back in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. This bothers me in the sense that we’re really not filling the gap well from Rogue One killing machine, to a person who inflicts a bunch of Force platitudes. There is a gravitas to Vader that was a combination of his imposing presence and James Earl Jones’ eloquent and empowering voice.

It’s almost as if, despite having James Earl Jones back to the voice, the lines were written as if they were Prequel Anakin versus the original Vader. A distinction which might sound one and the same to the casual fan, until you realize, how one character complained about his dislike of sand. The other spoke in powerful absolutes about faith, the force, and above all else: power.

As for the duel itself, I think we all knew that it was never going to be like the duel on Mustafar given both Vader and Obi-Wan lost a step in their more advanced ages. Still, a lot of what goes down doesn’t make a whole lot of sense regarding force powers? The biggest of which is that fire, which Vader had just seconds ago put out while using a force push. Then, somehow conveniently, isn’t able to be put out again?  Leading Obi-Wan to getaway. 

Worse if you remember: the fire isn’t liquid fuel-based. Their energy was coming from a crystal-based source. They can absolutely be moved using a force push and that’s sort of on set design for making that distinction.

Between the abuse of, and then convenient lack thereof regarding Force abilities by Vader, the lack of lightsaber ability by Obi-Wan (who again, still has something left in the combat tank as we’d just seen at the checkpoint where he killed a bunch of people), and the convenient forgetting of the basics of Jedi mind tricks… there were just a lot of confusing continuity mistakes and this episode felt like it couldn’t pick a force lane.

In that regard, it reminded me of Rey’s Sequel trilogies. Where we also kind of conveniently used/didn’t use the force whenever it suited the plot.

 

Who Is Quinlin Vos?

For the longest time, fans of Star Wars Legacy had always asked the question, whatever happened to Master Quinlin Vos during Order 66? 

For those unfamiliar, Vos was actually featured in The Phantom Menace as a throwaway Easter Egg character. He had his own Dark Horse comic in Star Wars: Republic and was featured in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Signs of his words are etched into the walls of the underground hideout in this episode. Obi-Wan translates Vos’ etchings as, “Only when the eyes are closed can you truly see.”

What does this mean? Well at some point we’ll likely meet the forgotten Jedi Master in some form. If not in this series, then in the future, though what role he’ll play is anyone’s guess.

 

The Take

Controversial take, this one was a hard miss for me and I know many fans and critics will disagree. I’m concerned that we’re going to repeat the same beats from the first few episodes, meaning more Gestapo-themed inquisitors (and Vader) senselessly killing in the search for Kenobi, more awkward Vader moments that lean a little more canon-ignorant than compelling, and of course: even more celebrity cameos.

Today’s episode featured Zach Braff playing a surprise character, that to be honest, absolutely nobody realized was him… In fact, we still don’t know who he played and the episode has been out for 4 hours at the time of writing this.

Crazy 8 Press to Launch PRISM on Amazon Vella

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The cover of Prism

The writer’s collective that features authors Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Mary Fan, and Russ Colchamiro, will release a weekly 80’s-styled spy series called ‘PRISM’ on Amazon Vella.

The Crazy 8 Press announced its planned release of PRISM, a spy-thriller action-adventure made exclusively available on Amazon Vella. Debuting on Thursday, June 9th, PRISM’s chapters will release individually for 10 straight weeks. With additional stories to be made available by the Crazy 8 Press based on users’ enthusiasm for the series.  

Set in the 1980s, PRISM is an homage to TV classics such as MacGyver, The Greatest American Hero, The Fall Guy, Knight Rider, and more. Each PRISM short story will be linked to the series’ overarching narrative, with each tale, featuring some very heart-racing and tightly plotted adventures. All in a format perfect for the Vella weekly release model. 

“We’re all huge fans of spy series, heists, elaborate capers, and action-adventure,” said PRISM Editor-in-Chief Hildy Silverman. “We also wanted to capture the spirit of the wild, fun, and over-the-top, race-against-the-clock-style stories from the 1980s, set during that period, with adventures occurring around the world pitting the good guys against the bad guys.”

Known as the Program Responsible for Intelligently Saving Mankind, P.R.I.S.M. is the story about a secret U.S. government agency whose mission is to retrieve several mysterious alien technologies that are scattered across the globe, before several nefarious groups can take claim to them.  

Each vignette will feature different spy characters at separate points in their careers; characters with their own distinct personalities, skill sets, and gadgets, based on where they are in their history. The spies of PRISM will also face off against a cadre of villains, and each will have little-to-no knowledge about the powers, origin, and scope of the alien technology they are charged with retrieving. 

The official PRISM lead-in goes as follows:

“The meteor shower of 1908 brought the first piece of . . . something mysterious to Earth. The final Apollo mission brought the last one, in 1972. Which is when all the pieces began waking up.  

That was ten years ago. But as the new cold war emerges in the 1980s…

Where are these pieces from? What are they for? They are scattered around the world, in all shapes and sizes. Some of them already exhibit strange properties. Others appear to be inert on their own. What will happen if they are all assembled together?  

No one knows, but PRISM—the Program Responsible for Intelligently Saving Mankind—was formed ensure the pieces don’t fall into the wrong hands. PRISM agents, each chosen for their special skills, scour the globe, seeking out pieces and bringing them back for safekeeping.  

These are their missions.”

Each story featured in PRISM on Amazon Vella will also be uniquely set in different parts of the world. The series will be focused on telling a tale of mystery and thrills and not every story features a happy ending.

The first 10 stories of PRISM will be written by Crazy 8 Press members Russ Colchamiro, Mary Fan, Robert Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, and Hildy Silverman. The Crazy 8 Press is a consortium of writers who banded together to bypass traditional publishing and bring stories directly to the readers. 

For more information, visit Crazy8Press.com.

Stranger Things Season 4: Volume 1 Review

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Lucas, Dustin, Max, and Erica pull on a blanket rope hanging from the ceiling
PC: Netflix

We present the case why this is the best season of the series, as broken down in our Stranger Things Season 4: Volume 1 Review.

After three years of patiently waiting for news on what happened to the gang post-Mindflayer showdown at The Battle of Starcourt, we’re finally here with the return of Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1. Part one of the Stranger Things season. Whereas in the past, I’d written what I considered to be the most extensive scene-by-scene recaps, this year, as a less time-consuming approach, I wanted to write an overall review.

Why should you watch Season 4 of Stranger Things? Besides the fact that everyone’s talking about it after a post-holiday weekend, it’s also because this one is arguably the best season of the series to date, combining horror, campiness, and 1980s nostalgia flair. It is only now that the series seems to really have found a perfect balance. Emphasis on the horror for this season has worked out tremendously in the show’s favor as this is easily its best work in years.

The cast of Stranger Things Season 4 volume 1

The performances are excellently on the mark. With breakout jobs across the board, as no actor really dragged out this year despite it being such a huge ensemble. The story, despite the length where some episodes are longer than full-fledged movies, is an edge-of-your-seat binge-thrill that continually leaves viewers wanting to hit the next episode button. 

This season hits like a trident to the face in a trifecta of twists and turns, outright horror movie elements, and fun/funny campy storytelling. Which is not an easy achievement to pull off, yet Stranger Things Season 4 does so anyway.

 

The Set-Up

The writing for Volume 1 of season 4 is what makes it so good. As seeing where things start, versus where it all ends makes for a compelling journey that’s different from where it all began. 

It begins with Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven. She’s doing her best to fake it, pretending that things are okay in her and the Byers family’s new home in Southern California. Her frequent letters to Mike on how her life has improved are soon revealed to be essentially lies, and the truth couldn’t be farther from her happy fantasy. In actuality, everyone’s favorite traumatized superhero is being bullied by the preppy blonde girl at school, Angela. 

Played by Elodie Orkin, the actress performs every scene featuring her character with an entitled air of uppity nonsense, making the audience want to hit her due to Angela’s effortless cruetly. This ironically is exactly what Eleven ends up doing. All in a fashion that would make Will Smith proud, though more importantly, also lets viewers really re-examine the character after her assault at the rink-o-mania. 

With the recent circumstances these past few months between the Oscars Slap, and of course, the horrendous gun violence happening across the US, a reflection back at El’s history with bullies, along with her personal history of violence in season one (both her blood-covered white gown after the atrocities at Hawkins’ lab, but also how she previously handled Mike’s bullies in the first season), all sort of plays into the biggest themes of this season that truly ties the entire series together. Namely how we understand trauma and violence.

It’s strangely deep and features a great introduction to Eleven’s official foil. 

As for the Hawkin’s group, you’ve got Lucas, who’s on the Basketball team trying to set up his new relationship with the jocks; Nancy, who is completely focused on journalism and ignoring her relationship with Jonathan; and Jonathan in turn, who is spending most of his days overanalyzing his life and getting high with his new friend, Argyle, back in California. 

There’s also Mike and Dustin, still playing Dungeons and Dragons, now with the school outcast Eddie (played by newcomer Joseph Quinn), whose storyline gets surprisingly complicated but in good ways.

Joyce and Murray look on in Alaska after a plane crash in Stranger Things Season 4

Joyce wants to free Hopper in Russia with Murray. Will might be in the closet. Steve and Robin look for love in all the wrong places.  

Most importantly, this season is set during the satanic panic. A period in the 1980s when people feared the growing signs of occultism, linking it to Dungeons and Dragons, and in turn, ritualistic human atrocities, many of which get blamed upon murders this season.

It’s an interesting murder mystery with multiple layers and characters that somehow fires right on all cylinders, thanks to some solid character development, excellent performances, and more importantly a storyline that actual makes sense and ties it all together. 

In traditional Stranger Things fashion, the season centers around a D&D villain. This time it’s named Vecna, the dark wizard/arch-lich whose appearance in the series makes for the first truly sentient villain/character. The result is utterly horrifying.

The Performances

Robin and Nancy look on in jail in Stranger Things volume 1 season 4

I can’t stress enough that the extra runtime really did favors in developing these characters. As there isn’t a single bad performance in the cast. The ensemble really stood out and every single character had a moment of actually doing something to progress the story or develop their personal arc. Which is impressive because not everyone usually gets an arc in TV.

With Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven, I felt like there were far too many tears for me in those first two episodes. It feels a little repetitive in her continued inability to be a normal human, and as someone older and supposedly more mature, this doesn’t fully work for me. Mostly because, despite the motivations, almost every scene had her crying. 

That said, it picked up by episode 3 when her character really began her journey processing everything that’s happened in attempts to gain her abilities back. It’s powerful storytelling re-contextualizing all we know about Eleven in finally understanding her journey as an experiment. Which honestly worked so well that I think audiences mostly forget how unbearably melodramatic it kind of started in the season.

The standout performances though was easily Max, whose storyline this season was such a great look at trauma and acceptance. I think episode 4’s “Dear Billy” may be an Emmy contender as it really left people hanging on the edge, uncertain as to what would happen next. All of which is thanks to Sadie Elizabeth Sink’s performance hitting the mark on doom and making us so concerned with what happens to her character.

Eddie Munson operates as dungeon master in stranger things season 4 volume 1

Though easily the best performance this season to me was in newcomer Jamie Campel Bower. Without spoilers, his role in this season carries it from beginning to end, but it does so in a way that the audience can’t appreciate until the end. A riveting job through-and-through that’s going highly underappreciated thus far.

That said, Maya Hawke’s Robin had excellent comedic timing this year, as did Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin. Though one player, newcomer Joseph Quinn’s Eddie Munson, has had high praise from critics. The character shows great range this season from diabolic outcast to gripping romance to coward who runs, and then recalculated badass. Eddie is probably the one character who has the full range of emotions and development in terms of an arc outside of Eleven, which is weird, because he’s entirely new. 

 

The Villains/Conflict

vecna in stranger things volume 1 season 4

This year features Vecna as the really big bad monster. It’s poetic, given how they highlight it in the beginnings of D&D this season. All in your typical Stranger Things metaphor. Though this one does something the others haven’t: showcased a WHY for the first time, in the series’ great evil.

Speaking of which, the horror element is huge this season, with callbacks to the Evil Dead with the camera work, ghouls, and voice modulation. Stranger Things Season 4 features many ghosts and mental manipulation thanks to Vecna, who is a lot like if Freddy Kreuger gave birth to Pinhead, featuring Evil Dead Deadites and Pennywise in the delivery room.

The disturbing imagery is not suited for kids this year. Joints bend in the wrong directions. Sensory appendages go pop and get restitched, such as eyes and mouths. The practical effects are gruesome to witness, as the series added Barrie Gower in the new development team. The same practical effects artist responsible for making Game of Thrones’ Night King, and the radiation victims in HBO’s Chornobyl. 

Fun fact, the HBO series also brought with them acto Tom Wlaschiha to Season 4. He played the faceless man/Jaqen H’ghar in Game of Thrones.

 

The Biggest Reveal of Stranger Things Season 4

 

There are a lot of big events this season and I don’t want to spoil the good ones for those who haven’t watched it yet. Will’s sexuality is definitely one that I think fans in the LGBTQ community want to see more elaborated upon; though ironically, I do think Robin does a better job in representing that community. And I genuinely believe the discrepancies have less to do with their respective gender orientations and more with how they’re written, with Will being more passive and Robin being more proactive.

Hopper’s storyline makes for an entertaining separate movie. One that’s very fitting given that actor David Harbor was shooting Black Widow at the same time (also, a Russian themed drama with a partial set in prison).

The biggest takeaway though is the series villain, which is tied in unbelievably well in a well-written finale. Not only did this storyline neatly make sense of the entirety of Stranger Things, but it also was just really compelling. With the psychological horrors conveniently tying together every character’s past drama experienced in the last few years. Eleven, Nancy, and Max’s storylines specifically.

 

The End Is Near

Steve, Eddie, Nancy, and Robin stranger things season 4 volume 1

Stranger Things Season 4 was divided into two parts. A follow-up with favorite characters, while introducing what will be what seems to be their endgame. Now in high school, the Hawkins children have to deal with both the mystery of what’s happening, but also in just so many ways, it feels like the show is setting up an extended Stranger Things universe. 

The murder mystery feels traumatizing and has only escalated with regards to intensity as each season progressed. Likewise, Hopper’s story feels very different in that it’s action-heavy. David Harbour’s Hopper finally comes to terms with everything in his life thus far. 

Eleven’s story is seemingly the thread that drives the show. But with the extended episode length and planned extended finale, to debut in July, it really just develops everything about the Upside Down in a way that audiences haven’t seen. With wide-angle shots and a lot of strange explanations as to why everything looks aesthetically the way that it does: along with the context of the true evil of this season and the history involved with that revelation.

 

The Verdict on Volume 1

Fans, enjoy this interview from Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp just released today

Stranger Things Season 4 volume 1 is easily the best season of the series that finally ties it all together for a deep story filled with terror, campiness, and resolved conflicts. The acting is superb. Vecna is more-or-less the series’ Thanos. The gorgeous special effects, both SFX and practical, are some of the best studio work in the industry.

A must-watch for fans and for anyone curious as to how to tightly wrap up a longstanding popular TV series. I’d give this one a perfect score as right now… though I may change my mind, depending on how it wraps in July.

 

In 2022, Asian Representation in TV and Film is Better, but Still has Room to Grow

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Cast of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at an event
Cast of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at an event (source: IMDb)

A look at different types of representation for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

When I was a kid, I scoffed at the idea of media representation. I figured, if a story is good, it’s good. We’ll get whatever characters and actors we get; their race and gender shouldn’t matter.

Much later, I realized representation did make a difference, even if I didn’t think about it at the time. Why else was I so excited whenever there was an Asian character, like Wanda in The Magic School Bus or Cho Chang in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? Why else did my friends and I think it was so cool that the band Linkin Park had an Asian rapper? “Hey, it’s one of us! We’re not just some flat stereotype. We can go on adventurous field trips and learn magic and create popular music, too!”

Wanda from The Magic School Bus
Wanda from The Magic School Bus (source: The Magic School Bus Wiki)

It’s important not only for inspiring ourselves, but also to show others that we exist. We are capable, diverse, dynamic, and just as worthy.

Yet not all representation is good representation. There have been some pretty awful cases like Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles (1984), where Asianness itself was the punchline and it caused us to be viewed as less than human. Sometimes we have unique stories, perspectives, and experiences to share and celebrate. Other times, we just want to be viewed as regular, everyday people. Never should Asianness be weaponized to alienate and detract.

Nowadays, some occidental films with Asian leads have performed very well in the United States and elsewhere, such as Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Crazy Rich Asians (2018), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), Turning Red (2022), and Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022).

It’s awesome to see these films succeed. I’m deeply appreciative of these works and everyone who supports and enjoys them. But I also think there’s even more that we can and should demand of future productions.

Read on for four different ways to do Asian representation right in television and movies. Maybe you’ll find something new to watch this weekend, too.

Original Asian stories and characters should stay that way

I consider this the bare minimum for Asian representation. Our narratives and characters ought to be respected as our own. No one would dare to cast a white woman in a live-action remake of Mulan. So why do some people think erasure of other Asian characters is acceptable?

Sighs of relief for not messing this up: Olivia Munn as Psylocke* in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016); Karen Fukuhara as Katana in Suicide Squad (2016); Lana Condor, Janel Parrish, and Anna Cathcart in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and its sequels (2018, 2020, 2021)

Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse
Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse (source: IMDb)

Face-palms for erasure: Emma Stone as Allison Ng in Aloha (2015), Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Of course, in art it is very common to draw inspiration from stories and cultures all around the world. This can make for compelling, meaningful new tales or mash-ups. That’s not what happened with these face-palms, though.

*In the comics, Psylocke is both a British woman named Betsy and a Japanese woman named Kwannon. I thought it was pretty neat that they cast half-Asian Munn for the role.

Asians should get to tell more of our own stories

We’ve seen this with Turning Red, which I mentioned earlier—and which we’ve reviewed here on The Workprint in case you missed it. Writer and director Domee Shi created the film based on elements of her own life in Toronto.

Other examples of great original movies written by Asians are Better Luck Tomorrow (2002) by Justin Lin and Ernesto Foronda; The Farewell (2019) by Lulu Wang; Always Be My Maybe (2019) by Randall Park, Ali Wong, and Michael Golamco; The Half of It (2020) by Alice Wu; Definition Please (2020—also check out our review) by Sujata Day; and Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim.

Cast of The Farewell
Cast of The Farewell (source: IMDb)

In television, we have Fresh Off the Boat (2015–2020) by Eddie Huang, Kim’s Convenience (2016–2021) by Ins Choi, and Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (2020– ) by Awkwafina and Teresa Hsiao.

It may seem like a lot already, but there’s such rich depth and breadth to Asian and Asian-American experiences (or -Canadian, -British, etc.) that there’s far more still to articulate.

Also, I’d love to see us bring more of our creations in other genres to the screen, such as science-fiction. It would be cool to see something from the likes of Ted Chiang (whose novella “Story of Your Life” was adapted by Eric Heisserer into the 2016 film Arrival), Ken Liu, or Liu Cixin. In fact, Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem is already slated to become a major Netflix series with several Asians on the production team.

More characters without specific backgrounds should be played by Asian actors

Last year, Rahul Kohli (The Haunting of Bly Manor, iZombie) went on the Blackman Beyond podcast and spoke about representation in media: “When you send me for a role, and it says, ‘South Asian—his name is Raj,’ I go, ‘I don’t f***ing want it.’ Then the next one comes in, and it doesn’t have a race. ‘This is John. Thirties. Handsome…’ When it says that, I go, ‘Oh, they’re seeing everyone. I want that f***ing role.’”

This is what I meant when I said earlier, “Other times, we just want to be viewed as regular, everyday people.” Why should a generic character, a cultural blank slate, default to white? When characters are written without anyone or any particular background in mind, more of them should be played by Asians.

When I watched Steven Yuen play Squeeze in Sorry to Bother You (2018), Kelly Marie Tran play Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), and Rahul Kohli play Owen Sharma in The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)—none of these roles felt particularly Asian. And that’s a great thing, too.

Jermaine Fowler, Steven Yeun, and LaKeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You
Jermaine Fowler, Steven Yeun, and LaKeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You (source: IMDb)

There should be more than one Asian character, and they should talk about their Asianness at some point

If my four forms of Asian representation were a Maslovian pyramid, this one would be at the very top. Obviously I’m not talking about media from or exclusively about Asians, like Crazy Rich Asians or even Indian Matchmaking (2020– ). I’m looking at broad-based, run-of-the-mill, “all-American” works. Think of it as a sort of Bechdel Test but for Asian representation.

Season 2 of Love is Blind (2020– ) unlocked this achievement when cast members Deepti and Shake got engaged. They connected on their dating histories, families, and culture in a way that only two Indian-Americans could.

The only other example I have for this comes from Dollface, a comedy series that premiered on Hulu in November 2019. The main character is played by Kat Dennings (Thor, WandaVision, 2 Broke Girls), and two of her closest friends are played by Asians Brenda Song (Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, The Social Network, a ton of Disney and other stuff) and Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars, You).

At one point in season 2, Mitchell’s character asks Song’s, “Can’t we as Asian women own our own sexuality, too?” It was just a quick remark, and no one else in the show ever brought up race again. But it really struck me. Not only was it astute social commentary, but it also felt like an organic conversation in a realistic, relatable dynamic. It made me feel warm and fuzzy about the portrayal of Asian-American friendship on TV; I imagine this is how Black fans feel about Insecure (2016–2021).

Cast of Dollface
Cast of Dollface (source: IMDb)

Also, did you know Shay Mitchell is related to Filipina legend Lea Salonga, the singing voice of Princess Jasmine and Mulan?

Final Thoughts

Again, I acknowledge and appreciate that Asian representation in Western media has made enormous strides in recent years. Good representation can be tricky, and we have many more interesting characters and role models than before. I’m excited to see how this trend will continue over the years to come.

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Episodes 1 + 2 Review: Spoiler-Free

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obi wan kenobi

We go over the best of the first two episodes of this series highlighting what fans should look forward to and why they must check it out

When I first left the theatre after Revenge of the Sith I remember having this feeling of completeness. The prequel trilogy, after years of hype during my childhood, with the Star Wars special editions, and Star Wars: Tie Fighter wars, had finally reached its end. 

There was a finitude to that strange and weird moment. This question about what to do with my life now that Star Wars was finally over.

But wasn’t.

Instead, we had a rebirth. A spin-off series, some sequel movies, and a George Lucas selling his rights to Disney. Actions that brought about some of the greatest Star Wars expansions of all time.

It’s been close to two decades since we’ve last seen live-action Obi-Wan. Two decades since the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, when we saw him undergo birth by fire in his transformation into Darth Vader. 

Why a sequel was needed, nobody really questioned nor cared. Because we’re here now, to see the return of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

In the creation of Jar Jar Binks, George Lucas once defended that despite fans finding the character somewhat annoying, it was never for your average fan. You see, Star Wars was meant for kids. A brand that we’re likely never going to leave behind. Seeing these characters return. Seeing what’s happening in the now. 

It reminds us of better times. Obi-Wan provides this strange glimmer of hope. An ember against the darkness of an empire. A budding beginning against the militarized leaders and imperial states.

 

Obi-Wan Kenobi Episode 1 and 2 Review

The story picks up right at the end of the prequel trilogy, with glimpses at the worst moment of the Jedi order: Order 66 executions at the Jedi temple. It’s a moment of epic lightsabers, padawans, and an attempted escape. Soon after, the series explores what Obi-Wan has been doing on Tatooine all this time. Knowing full well what all Star Wars fans do: that at some point, certain benchmarks must be reached in the inevitable bridge between this series and A New Hope.

What’s best about Kenobi, is that the episodes are unafraid of tackling adult themes. It’s less the pretense of the premise, and more, Obi-Wan coming out of hiding for one last necessary mission. For that reason alone, this subversion of fandom expectations, makes the first two episodes are really cool. Add on some celebrity cameos (Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers was one. Kumail Nanjiani is another) and I can’t stress enough, that what makes this so refreshing: is that they somehow found a way to genuinely surprise you still.

It should be noted that this isn’t the Obi-Wan from the prequels. This is not a Jedi Knight at the height of his capabilities, but rather, a broken, old man Obi-Wan Kenobi. A man who’s willing to explore the scourge and filth of society to sort of do what needs to be done.  Which I will omit for the sake of spoilers.

Inquisitors

Probably the biggest mark of the series is the introduction of inquisitors. Jedi hunters and former Jedi themselves, who go after all the remaining Jedi across the galaxy. Led by the Grand Inquisitor, these terrifying villains make their slow-moving entrance scouring Tatooine. The planet that, for such an Outer Rim backwash station, seems like the setting for almost every single major story in the galaxy. 

Regarding the inquisitors, the most intriguing of the three introduced in the series is easily Reva. Moses Ingram is nothing shy of fantastic in her role, providing a terrifying performance. A strong and willing to do any deranged thing to get the job done sort of character, she is someone that’s excelling as a villain as she is genuinely scary. Why exactly she so badly wants to hunt Kenobi is arguably the biggest threat and thread in the first two episodes, as finding the big fish for the group, seems to be locating the old Jedi Master.

The inquisitors overall make for some fantastic villains in the series that creepily feel reminiscent to the Gestapo. The entire thing has some strong holocaust themes. Given the imperial nature of Stormtroopers being inspired by WW2 Germany, it does make sense why Star Wars has gone in this direction. It just feels as equally scary as it is sad… and serves as a great way to introduce the series villany themes.

 

Kiddos

Most audiences thought this was going to be strictly about Obi-Wan which is why it’s awesome that the coolest thing about the first two are seeing Leia in her kiddo years. She’s sort of everything we love about the character and it’s great to see the roots of her badass character begin to take shape here.

There are also, a lot of parent-protecting children vibes. Like Mando and Grogru, you start to see that type of relationship with Leia and Kenobi. All for what feels like a Logan story with very Lone Wolf and Cub vibes.

It’s impressive that we got to see the kids, specifically Leia, as young actress Vivien Lyra Blair, hits kiddo Leia’s portrayal with just the proper amount of snark, wisdom, and courage beyond her peers. Excellent job all around.

 

The Bad

It’s amazing to say that there really aren’t that many bad moments in the series. The shaky camera work for some of the scenes. Maybe the ‘new canon’ that’s got me questioning, why did Princess Leia send a message to Obi-Wan saying, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” if she was going to be so prevalent in this series. It feels very different watching it from the lens of the present, into the past. Though there’s still room to fit the retcon if needed. Overall, it’s a fantastic series that no Star Wars fan should miss.

 

The Best of ‘Love Death and Robots’ Season 3

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We rank the best and worst of Love, Death, and Robot’s Season 3 including that NFT.

Last Friday marked the epic return of Netflix’s unique animated hit series Love, Death, and Robots. Years ago, I reviewed the first season of the animated series, remarking on how, much like the Heavy Metal comics series and subsequent movies that inspired it, ‘Love, Death, and Robots’ felt an awful lot like a pubescent boy’s artful fantasy. A token meant for an Adult Swim generation, and really, anyone who enjoys a lot of excess and style.

In fact, season 3 actually features work by studio Titmouse, the longstanding Adult Swim animated studio. This season even features Robot Chicken series creator Seth Green reporting in to voice a character and has director David Fincher, make his first career foray into animation.

Award-winning director Alberto Mielgo also makes his return, whose work on ‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’ was well-renown. His volume one’s short on Love, Death, and Robots “The Witness”, was rated in high praise for their Emmy-award winning season.

Overall, the series continues to break ground in showing off the possibilities of animation. This season also hits the story beats really well. Some episodes are tragic. And some… are just outright stupid. That said, there is a little something for everyone in Volume 3, which is why we ranked every episode, including, the surprise series drop of an NFT.

10. The QR Codes That Lead To A Surprise NFT

Yep, even Netflix is forraying into NFTs. There is a QR box listed in every episode, which, when combined with Love, Death, and Robot’s social media accounts, actually totals to be nine QR code puzzle. A little easter egg that, once scanned, can be converted to a minted NFTs so long as a user has an OpenSea account with a MetaMask or Coinbase wallet. I’m including this on here because though it really wasn’t necessary, it did make for an in-show scavenger hunt that was worth at least worth mentioning.

 

9. In Vaulted Halls Entombed

Arguably the worst episode of the season, “In Vaulted Halls Entombed” featured the grand introduction of an Eldrich Horror monster. Which sadly, may have been the best thing about the episode. 

A tale of Doom where soldiers embark on a rescue mission but find themselves rather stupidly lured into the belly of the beast, much of the plot in this episode feels like something straight out of the movie Aliens or Doom. It’s a short about a failed rescue filled with pretty gruesome deaths, mysterious temples, and just a plethora of bad military tactics. 

What’s arguably bad about this one: is that every character is simply reacting to an ever-worsening situation. Almost no one acts proactive, nor makes the logical decision to get out of the danger zone. 

Most infuriatingly, is that despite seeing how guns don’t work well, almost every bullet is gone to waste for really no reason. The issue is that the plot really feels like it’s forcing the story conveniently forward to our Eldrich moment, rather than giving any semblance of choice for its characters. It’s worse than cliche… Because it’s forced cliche.

 

8. Jibaro

A lot of people will disagree with me on this one, but despite Mielgo’s Volume One hit “The Witness” really going out there in terms of style, narrative, and design, “Jibaro”, unfortunately, just isn’t that innovative to me. It’s highly praised for it’s hyper-realism, to which I argue, who cares? It’s animation. This isn’t a replacement for a live-action movie.

A story-take on the siren of the lake, in Jibaro, a deaf knight is rendered immune to the siren’s call that dooms his fellow comrades. He then in turn, uses the moment to sort of exploit and take advantage of the situation. All for a metaphorical indie take on capitalism, appropriation, rape, and greed, told through interpreted music and dance.

It’s got heavy emotions and a lot of very specific camera shots and lighting. Which is good… right?

Well, no. Not really. Because it’s entirely animated like a single-camera indie film. Good for that medium, but unreasonably limiting given that this is animation. All the unique close-ups, angles, and lighting techniques, when stacked with choreography, make for a brilliant independent film. A gorgeous work of camera and editing and possibilities of real-life people.

The biggest problem I see: is that this isn’t a film! So what you’re seeing is all CGI and rendered in PreVis, like every big blockbuster-lot movie or Netflix live-action movie. So there’s no need for these tight technical shots because there isn’t an actual camera.

In fact, a lot of the possibilities of you can do in animation, really, arguably the whole reason you’re watching Love, Death, and Robots… are completely devoid in this episode.

No backgrounds. No wides. No elaborate action sequences or 3D motions utilizing angles that physically aren’t possible in film. AKA: The magic of animation isn’t here, and for those who love this episode: I think you’re confusing it for an actual film.

Instead, it utilizes a restrictive lens-technique with a less-is-more approach that doesn’t actually exist in this form. It infuriated me because why do what film already does better but on an animated medium? This is like playing the original doom on an Alienware PC. Or watching Charlie Chaplin in Imax Dolby Digital 3D. Possible, yes. Fitting? No, not really.

 

7. Swarm

This one wasn’t all that bad as much as it was predictable? Swarm is about an operating hive that hosts a biologically perfect race of insectoids. A perfect genetic race, which of course, humanity then seeks to exploit for the sake of profit. You’ve got a scientist, a more exploitive scientist, and the buddings of insectoid Avatar-esque war with a science fiction twist. 

Now, the episode has got some compelling characters and features two amazing cast members in Rosario Dawson and Jason Winston George. The problem? Is that it’s just really predictable. Anyone who knows of the Borg in Star Trek will see this ending from a mile away. Though the animation is really nice.

 

6. The Very Pulse of the Machine

This is another one that a lot of people loved but I found mediocre. Depending on how many science fiction stories you’ve consumed regarding alien encounters, the problems I found with this episode is that it’s a direct reference to the “is this real or in your head,” trope heavily used in alien encounter.

The Very Pulse of the Machine is the story about a stranded astronaut. A woman who must do whatever it takes to survive. She injects herself with various drugs built-into her spacesuit, all in order, to keep her physically going.

It’s definitely got to some beautifully colorful and very feminine hallucinations along the way. The biggest hooks of the story being the planetary acid trip visualizations. The art direction. The music.

The problem, of course, is that while that all may be visually compelling, it also may not be at all, real. Either a brilliant meta-take on planetary-level A.I. or just a really fun drug trip moments before dying, the story remains ambiguous for a reason. Which is beautiful, but also, somewhat derivative as everything you see is quite literally all-or-nothing but ends on your own interpretation. 

 

5. Kill Team Kill

This is the Titmouse episode. It features actors Joel McHale and Seth Green. If you’ve ever seen anything with Space Marines in science fiction, such as Starship Troopers or the video game StarCraft, you know exactly what to expect from this series: beefcakey overly-masculine marines shooting and blowing stuff up against a killer something.

Though this time, in lieu of an Alien or a Terminator, that something in this episode is a mechanically enhanced indestructible grizzly bear. There’s also a bunch of army rhetoric, CIA bases, and enough military-grade weaponry to end an alien invasion. It’s all stupid fun for some senseless violence and blood-spattering action-comedy.

 

4. Mason’s Rats

This is the episode that makes you go: okay. I didn’t expect that to happen. Visually, it looks like a Pixar movie about a Scottish farmer who wants to simply handle a rat problem using the latest in mechanical pest control extermination. In actuality, it is anything but.

Because what happens is sort of this brilliantly funny and slightly idiotic, cybernetic war of rat rebels-versus-machines meant for over-the-top violence. Without spoiling the ending, the series also goes in a very different direction and the genre-play here, along with the nod to pixar-styled animation, really make this one grand.

 

3. Bad Traveling

As expected, the David Fincher episode was easily one of the best of the series. It’s really captivating in a way that makes you both love and hate all the different players in its story. Most of all, this epic takes you on a short journey, which sort of like Fight Club, re-contextualizes almost everything that you see.

In Bad Traveling, a captain of a near-mutinied crew finds himself at the whims of a gigantic crab that’s come aboard and is now slowly eating his crew members. Throughout the journey, rough decisions must be made regarding duty, life, and sacrifice for the greater good. With surprising story twists and turns and a whole lot of dark suspense. If you’ve ever read Dracula, and enjoyed the bit of being stuck on a boat with a murdering monster, this is probably one you’ll enjoy too.

 

2. Night of the Mini Dead

Maybe I’m biased as a gigantic zombiphile, but this was easily one of the funniest and best shorts of the series. It’s a zombie apocalypse, animated from a distance, all with very tiny miniatures, as the world is overrun by the dead in break-neck speed. 

And while that sounds kind of basic, it’s because you get to see it all play out in such a macroscopic scale, and really, just laugh at humanity’s own cliched stupidity, that makes this one kind of awesome. In a simple concept that continues to escalate in fun ways.

 

1. Three Robots: Exit Strategies

Easily the best episode this season, the first episode of this season kicks us off with the revisiting of the trio of robots seen originally in Volume One. Who continue to explore what remains of humanity after the apocalypse. Why this particular episode works is because it’s on the nose and relevant for 2022.

Whereas the first edition of this story played on apocalyptic themes in a pre-pandemic sort of universe, this one fully parodies the themes and issues we’re actually suffering from, essentially, poking fun at the very ways we as a society are killing ourselves in real-life right now.

It’s a political satire tackling issues about rampant capitalistic greed, America’s wealth inequality, Doomsday survivalist Libertarians, and my favorite: tech billionaires that used wealth to survive the first round of the apocalypse, only to realize, that they’re not very good at much of anything else.

It’s a much-needed slap in the face and exactly the kind of thematic sci-fi animation that can deliver a message, and also, entertain. 

Atlanta Season 3 Episode 10 Review – Tarrare

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Atlanta Season 3 Episode 10 Tarrare

I’ve always wanted to visit Paris.

Having been ferried down the canals of Venice, chasing down sheep in Wales, eating innards in Scotland, my number one pick has always been Paris. The city of love, of adventure.

I suppose it’s only fitting that we end our journey in this city.

If you were expecting this finale of Atlanta (FX) titled “Tarrare” to bring the crew back, you are sadly mistaken.

Instead, we are treated to a feast of existential dread to succor our basic need: a wanting to feel something. That is something Cocteau would be proud of.

At a brassiere in Paris, the council of three Xosha (Xosha Roquemore), Shanice, and Candice (Adriyan Rae) girls spill the tea about spilling the pee. One of them actually gets paid to do that with a liaise.

French men are no better than anyone else and if they have needs, far be it from us to deny those wants, especially at the tune of six figures though, or in Francs, it is so much better.

They both thank Candice for bringing her on their ‘business’ trip, but it’s only digging deeper into sadness.

They want to get into some historical shit, so there is a black walk around, but Candice senses something stronger.

She spots an almost Amelie-type Van (Zazie Beetz) grabbing a baguette down the street.

Van doesn’t recognize her until she does.

She invites them into her apartment, still in Amelie mode.

They all realize she’s a girl from around the way, but living this fantasy.

In fact, she’s been shacked up.

She’s with Marcel and has been working at his restaurant for months.

Once Van pours the wine, she contests Candice’s coming over.

I mean outside of peeing on someone for money.

Before the actual conversation can be made, Van takes them on a journey via motorbike with a large baguette in her backpack.

How more French can you get, and that isn’t a slight.

Dodging through high streets, the group arrives at a hotel fit for Wes Anderson.

Though thoroughly jazzed, they are weary.

This is especially true seeing as though Van needs to get keys from a friend… so this isn’t as much of an introduction to the city of love as much as it is a fucking ride along.

What we find is a coked-up Alexander Skarsgard (right, I mean they had Liam Neeson).

He welcomes them, but he’s already sucking his own on account of how rich he is.

With citing the mistake of Ashanti being with Nelly, which was so ten years ago, the dude still wants a threesome with the other two.

Now with Candice, Van wants nothing to talk about. She jauntily places drugs on his bed.

This is her game to create and tear down.

She takes Candice, and the girls and go to the front desk, begging him for an ambulance. This is the best act she had put on thus far… but the garden path is only starting…

After a brief sojourn, they arrive at a particular arrondissement.

Though Candice cannot wait outside, Van is imminent on going inside.

Though the others are game, something has to change. This plot has to turn.

“Tarrare!”

Keep that in mind.

It’s what a dog barks when they know danger is approaching.

It really matters none, though because Emilio (Yoli Fuller) fucked over Van.

No, she’s not selling drugs at the spot, but they are fucked out of getting out of there-

“Tarrare!”

That is the battle cry that lets everybody know she is there—named after the famed street performer who would ingest anything.

Keep that in mind.

Ducking through a subway, nearly being run over, the girls are concerned.

Van is bold but not in the best way.

She arrives at the doorstep of her friend Carlos (Odysseas Ioannou Konstantinou) letting in Xonda, Shanice, and Candice.

Though it looks like a dirty walk-up, what it harbors is a pristine art museum I want to visit.

Emilio apologizes profusely but to no avail.

Van means ‘business’ when she extracts the hard loaf of bread she’s had on her person.

So much so, that Carlos has to get everybody out of the building.

She ensues to beat the fuck out of him with that loaf she’s been carrying around for months.

Maybe that guilt and hate left her. Or maybe just did her soul.

Though my guy swears he can get her the package, it matters none.

She gets it anyway by swearing to kill him with her skills…

He gives up the ghost and her crew is not only scared but also excited.

Inside, they are invited to dine. Candice doesn’t approve because they weren’t initially welcomed.

Keep in mind, dear audience, unless you aren’t formally invited, stay clear.

That goes double for you, vampires.

Candice is freaked out about Van. The other two don’t mind, but something is up with her girl and she isn’t having it.

It turns out that this party is for Mr. Skarsgard and she can only go south and not in the way he wants.

She spits in his face and goes to meet Marcel.

In the kitchen, as Van smooches the chef, Candice knows something is up, so she pulls her bestie aside and smacks some sense into her, or at least tries to.

Van or her French personality holds back while pushing back, eliding her true intent.

She’s jealous of her friend… but before they can get into murkier territory, dinner is served!

Yes, they are as they appeared to be. Hands.

The upper crust only can dine on braised and deep-fried hands. Yes, you read me correctly.

Human hands, but only not knowing about it.

It kind of makes sense at first. The sensory of the gustatory is better without the sight at times.

However, this is a mean game the rich are playing, tricking people into eating… themselves.

Back in the kitchen, Candice is calmed down and just wants to look out for her friend, which is why she brings up Lottie, Van’s daughter.

Van didn’t even realize what was in front of her face and immediately freaks out, tearing the whole kitchen down.

This is called realization.

As they hear her screaming in the distance below aka Hell, both girls remove their ‘hood’ to reveal what is a fucking fried human hand.

They are both jet and disgusted, but Alexander is all for the food.

Freaking the fuck out, Van wants to know where Lottie, her daughter is.

She’s snapped back to reality, using her actual vox and all Candice can do is talk her off that ledge.

Under the majestic light of the Eiffel Tower, Van admits to not being herself for a while.

It’s beautiful and I can so feel that. Candice listens with worry, but love within her heart for her friend.

Before she could accomplish driving into traffic, Van realizes she wants a big change, especially because she felt her daughter knew what she tried to do before and sees her mother as a failure for once.

Vanessa was suicidal, hoisted by her own petard.

In order to right that, she packed up, and went to Europe.

This solved nothing.

She couldn’t sleep and at one point Amelie came on the television.

Van wanted to know that happiness.

This was a thing so far out of her grasp, it made her want it more.

Candice feels her pain, and it consoles her without judgment.

The thing that presses Van is she is unsure of who she is and no amount of travel will ameliorate that.

She just wants to go home.

Candice secures that they both start anew. That is a true friend.

I can’t speak for Shanice, as she is taking the reigns and giving a romantic evening out… just out in the form of urinating on a willing partner as she looks out on the beauty of the lit-up Eiffel Tower.

It’s a black woman pissing on a white man. I mean, if that’s not the very definition of the American Dream, I don’t know what is.

Writ by the incomparable Stefani Robinson and directed by Donald Glover, this made me feel something I had not before.

Like no other show, this one accomplished the incredible.

What others could not.

It even featured an after the credits, with the police searching a ‘van’ making Earn sign for a bunch of things, including a family photo of white Earnest’s family in episode 4.

I’ve always wanted to visit Paris.

To be fair, this couldn’t get any more French if you smoked a cigarette while reading Camus, sipping a proper Burgundy.

Named for the famous Tarrare, an eighteenth-century showman with an insatiable appetite, Van’s journey led her to the City of Lights to find her own nonchalance.

This city can turn you up and it can also put you right and in a finale that included not Al, Darius nor Earn, it did just that.

Talk about your “episodic break!

Ravenous Devils Review – Short and Sweet, With Just a Bit Sour

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Enthralling cooking sim with an interesting hook, excellent gameplay loop, and quality progression system, but lacks polish.

Ravenous Devils follows the story of Percival and Hildred, an ordinary couple with a dark past and malevolent inclinations. After a string of unfortunate incidents with their previous business endeavors, Ravenous Devils opens with the couple starting anew with a new town and a new business, but with the same old business plan: murder their way to the top.

Percival is a man of many talents – tailoring, gardening, and murdering. From the top floor of their shared building, Percival runs the tailor shop and operates the greenhouse. He murders their clientele, strips the body of their garments, and either throws the bodies down a chute to his wife’s butcher shop or grinds them into fertilizer for their crops. He then beautifully re-tailors all the garments and resells them in his shop for a hefty premium.

Hildred is a woman of focus, commitment, and sheer will. With an ever-expanding recipe book and unlockable access to her very own huggable cat, she cleaves her way through the mountain of corpses and serves up fresh meat pies on the daily. The customers never stop, but neither does her cleaver.

 

The gameplay is nonstop, unrelenting action resembling Overcooked

Whereas in Overcooked, multiple players control individual characters to fulfill all the diverse roles needed in the kitchen, Ravenous Devils bring it to the next level by having an individual player control multiple characters.

Both Percival and Hildred have a set of unique jobs and responsibilities that they are unable to directly assist each other in, as they are restricted to their own portion of their shared business. The player must juggle resource management (murdering for bodies and cloth) with production (producing clothes and meals), along with all the other small tasks required in the day-to-day operation of their business.

A day’s work for Percival includes murdering, cleaning, tailoring, setting up displays, and eventually all the greenhouse tasks. Hildred runs the kitchen and the storefront for her eatery. In the kitchen, she does all the butchering and cooking onsite, selecting from a variety of butchering techniques to produce the various cuts of meat that are necessary for the wide selection of dishes to be put up for display. At some point, the shop will have a dining room for which Hildred must wait tables, cook the dishes, and serve within a timely manner. As the shop grows in reputation and capability, so too does the difficulty of juggling all the tasks, and in the end, it was quite the enjoyable challenge to manage the fully upgraded business.

Simple at the start, with an unexpectedly deep and satisfying progression system

Being newcomers to the town, Percival and Hildred’s business starts out small. Little display space for their goods, no dining area, few butchering tools, and a very limited menu. At the end of every day, there is a simple report documenting the day’s profit, customer satisfaction, and the shop’s reputation. The profit can be spent on upgrades that improve the store, their individual working capability, and aesthetics.

However, it’s important to note that while the upgrades are all straightforward improvements to the store, they all have different impacts on the workflow of our two protagonists, as well as how to manage resources. One notable section of upgrades is the addition of vegetables to the menu, such as onions or potatoes. Having a wider selection of ingredients increases the quality of available recipes, but the greenhouse adds an extra layer of responsibility to Percival, who would otherwise just be relegated to stabbing and stitching duties. Additionally, greenhouse crops require fertilizer, which is made from the dead bodies that Hildred needs to chop up into meat pies.

Recipe book from Ravenous Devils

A little too short and missing some polish to become a truly complete game

While the gameplay and core identity of Ravenous Devils is fairly strong, there are just a few aspects that feel a bit lacking.

Certain elements of the UI definitely could have used a lot more polish. The recipe book is very well designed and full of character, but the graphics for it were extremely low res. Many menu options and buttons looked clean but very simplistic.

While the overall writing was decent, the story in Ravenous Devils felt a bit too straightforward and perhaps reached its conclusion a little too quickly. It’s padded a bit with some interesting side stories and characters but ultimately left me wishing for just a bit more. The writing style also contains some very inconsistent grammar. Whether it may or may not have been a stylistic choice to portray their speech in a certain manner, it just gives off the appearance of being sloppy.

Hildred discussing a request with a special client

Overall Score: 7.5/10

The developer, Bad Vice Games, has announced their intention to continue supporting Ravenous Devils for the time being. An Endless mode is on the way that will see Percival and Hildred free to continue to slay and cook indefinitely. There will also be added additional localization. The game currently supports English, Italian, Simplified Chinese, and Russian, and will soon, be adding Spanish, French, Korean, Japanese, and Turkish.

Ravenous Devils was released worldwide on April 29th, 2022. It’s available on Steam, Epic Games, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 & 5, and Xbox One and Series X|S.

Atlanta Season 3 Episode 9 Review – Rich Wigga Poor Wigga

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Atlanta Season 3 Episode 9

In the Gilded Age of Hollywood, movies weren’t called movies. They were called pictures. Guys wore tuxes and gals donned gowns. Most of it was black and white. Funny fact, the only thing that differentiates a black-tie affair from a white tie is coattails. That’s it.

Back then, greyscale was all the rage, because that’s all it can cost. A monochrome iconoclastic look.

For my money, the penultimate episode of Atlanta (FX) titled “Rich Wigga Poor Wigga” back to the time when milk was white, coffee was black and well, Gin would always be clear until it makes you cloudy.

We open in on Travis Scott’s “Escape Plan”.

This is beautifully blocked in black and white.

We focus on a gamer, who is white-ish? Through all the smoke he gives, he is still top tier… until the rest of them clown him.

And believe you me, once he deploys the N-word, he puts his money where his mouth is. By not giving out his address, he kinda already did. He’s an inveterate lad.

After rage quitting through the muck and mire of the fret and fire, he bounces on the Arizona State College site to see if he got in…  to no such luck.

While he forlornly looks out of the passenger side window later as his pops drops him off at school, recent news of another black boy was murdered by the hand of cops. He simply wanted to reach for his phone!

Though his father is quite perturbed, Aaron (Tyriq Withers) could give two fucks. He’s light-skinned!

In fact, he could pass.

Sometimes these situations are so black and white.

The world is made up of many beautiful and sometimes horrifying people, but in order to admire life, you have to be in for it.

In fact, his father almost wants the seed of his loins to be pulled over, just to see how it is from the other side.

Aaron thinks he’s still entitled to the good things all white people are. That’s rich, excuse the pun.

Daddy ain’t co-signing for FAFSA and if he wants to make it into a great college, he has to save up, though, with a pittance in the kitty, the clock is ticking.

We arrive at Stonewall Jackson High School.

As he’s dropped off, the son is reminded that if he doesn’t make it into the school, he’s remanded to home, paying rent and walking four miles home, reminding him of the ‘Woods’ episode.

-It matters none, as when he’s dropped on school grounds, he’s greeted by his bubbly white girlfriend, whom he lied to about getting int ASC, which they vowed to go together.

The fact others had their letters before their eyes aren’t helping matters. Bubbly to her is now bubbling to him.

Before they can celebrate, all are corralled into the auditorium.

The principal announces the alumni and the multi-hyphenate Robert “Shea” Lee (Kevin Samuels), the heir to the Pink Oil Moisturiser company.

As he recounts his time at Stone Wall, and what that name stood for, he pulls out his dick, financially.

A donation isn’t one when you’re basically buying it, which is why he tosses a cool mil into the mix.

Naming after him, Robert S. Lee is a little crass. I mean, it’s a mere few letters off of a slave owner.

But wait! He one-ups himself, paying everyone’s tuition to do greater things!

That contingency is that you are black.

Poor white Aaron. Yes, he looks white through our lens, but we know what is up.

His day just got tougher.

He fashions that passion in tearing down the Stone Wall Alma Mater sign.

His GF and their friends think it’s all bullshit and is pursuant to discrimination, figuring they may have a case.

Thing is, as they kvetch about how black people now have it easy, he’s uncomfortable. Maybe because he passes. Maybe because he’s hurt and can’t pick one side.

It matters none. He’s looking at his IG, filled with Paper Boi, ya boy, and twerking vids… with the occasional flamethrower.

Let’s just table that and approach later.

Into the Lion’s Den, he goeth.

He’s literally on stage and with what I can only explain as the most beautiful blocking of pure black contrasted with a resplendent spotlight of unabashedly white, it’s his time to shine.

The tribunal delights in his countenance, referencing him as a ‘yellow nigga’. I thought this was black and white?

His feet are put to the fire. Based on how ‘black’ his answers are, the more they invest.

This also includes the very fresh killing of a black kid at the mall, though the answer wasn’t to their liking.

This was just an amuse bouche.

What ensues is a barrage of questions to solidify his blackness. In essence, they make him Earn it, basically having him do a minstrel show under duress. That was all fun though, right?

After all japes and jabs were had, the council never wanted him to score the ride to collegiate and black excellence anyway.

When he questions his light-skinned nature for not getting it, one of the trio goes apeshit, calling him simply white, basically at the point of being racist. Can you do reverse racism? Yes. Yes, you can.

They compare him to Clarence Thomas, and with that, he’s deflated and done. He can’t win!

At home, Aaron’s anger is his dad’s appetizer. His plight is part of the play.

When Aaron sees that his white GF liked and responded to a black school kid, he sees red.

Oh, that’s not the best part. Even though he’s a ‘friend’, she already knows he’s not going to Arizona State and breaks it off with him there… I mean, kick a man down, won’t ya?

So where does he take his aggression out?

The very same game that got him in trouble in the first place, but in this instance, he uses the flamethrower.

He wants to burn it all down.

All of the stress of not being black enough has him at a crossroads.

I’ve never searched up how to use, nay create a flamethrower. Unless I was a forger, and even THEN, I would have no use for it…

Unless I had a score to settle and those silly little things called bullets just won’t do.

In a very Lynchian scene, Aaron brings together the components of what would be a bomb ass flame thrower. Something I could bring home to my mother.

Once he gets to the school and straps up, he’s met with Felix.

Now, this humor is SUPER Lynchian, as Felix also has a flamethrower.

Felix is black but wants to burn down the establishment as well. They fucked him over and he isn’t taking it comfortably.

He’s not feeling Aaron’s sob story, but can appreciate the goal in mind… that is until they have bigger fish to fry in their mind.

Burning each other to the ground.

What ensues reads like a videogame or a battle of wills and through every corner, every pant, art is found.

But Aaron is compromised, with his shoes on fire. Liar, liar?

His imminent demise is for certain, as the guy is about to have a roast on his hands. He’s shot in the dome by the cops. Aaron has no choice but to go, hands up.

At the crime scene, Robert pulls up. He’s aghast that someone, anyone would want to burn down ‘his’ school, lest the survivor of the shot. In his words, getting shot by the police is “the blackest thing anybody can do.”

Even though he tried to outdo the bureaucracy, Robert will take care of Aaron’s bills whilst slipping him the scholarship cheque.

As for Aaron?

He just gets to watch from the back of a cop car how tipped the scales were.

We cut to a year later, in a Best Buy, where a tipped-up (different) Aaron is macking on a customer.

His former white GF notices him and they shoot the shit for a brief moment.

Arizona State is fine for her, and his life is alright.

He’s never been more attracted to her, leaving her gobsmacked.

“Hangin’ On A String” by the appropriately named Loose Ends plays as his nod is all we need.

What these two play in Donald’s mind is not for me to decide.

As a person of color, raised by a white woman, I sometimes question where I belong. I mean, I know where I belong in this world and have no question where my talent may lie, but I don’t identify as white. I identify as Italian and Polish. I’m proud of my inherited countries

To be adopted and be of color is interesting. You kind of don’t know where you are until you just are.

I can empathize with Aaron because he doesn’t know where he is yet.

Call that the blessing and the curse.

Outside of that, this episode, writ and directed by Donald Glover was something I wanted for so long.

It was German Expressionism at its finest and with gestalt to boot.

He pulled out all of the stops to make an audacious reflection of our own selves with some alacrity.

I’ll be seeing you soon, as we say to the mirror.

‘Patsy Walker’ Comes To Marvel Unlimited

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patsy walker marvel unlimited

The 4 Part Infinity Comic Rolls Out Weekly Starting on May 12th 

Announced earlier today, the Patsy Walker Infinity comic series debuts on Marvel Unlimited. In this vertical comic, Patsy, along with her rival Hedy Wolfe, host a competition against one another to meet their absolutely favorite singer, the one-and-only, Chad Collins! 

The limited series is written by writer Trina Robbins and tells a tale about Patsy that’s set in 1955. A period that focuses on the hero’s awkward yet retro teen beginnings. The comic also has art by Derek Charm and features colors by Rico Renzi.

“I kept in all the traditional Patsy Walker characters: her girlfriend Nancy, her frenemy Hedy Wolfe, the boy they fight over, Buzz Baxter, and added some new characters,” professed Robbins. “I loved Patsy Walker as a kid, and so did my girlfriends. We weren’t the least bit interested in being Super Heroes; we wanted to be Patsy!  So it’s a dream come true for me to write her.”

When collaborating on the comic, Artist Derek Charm found the task of drawing the series’ kitschy fashion a challenge, declaring “The fashion and specific references are mostly from Trina. Who provided tons of clippings from 50s fashion magazines and old Patsy comics,” he explained, “I was lucky enough to have some extra time to do character designs and find the right looks for each of the main characters based on Trina’s references. That really helped get me in the visual mindset of the era.

Besides that, my favorite part was adding all of the 50’s design elements between panels and in the backgrounds, and really leaning into the iconography of the period. I also love the way Rico Renzi’s 50’s color palette brought everything to life.”

Before Patsy Walker became Hellcat in The Avengers #144, she made her debut in a 119-issue romantic comic comedy that was published from 1945-1965. Originally featured in Miss America Magazine #2 in 1944, her character’s creation actually predates the shift to the name Marvel Comics.

In the current Marvel comics line, Patsy/Hellcat is in a romance with Iron Man. She’s had several reimagined personas and costumes over the years and was featured in Netflix’s Jessica Jones series as Trish Walker.

The Patsy Walker #1 comic is exclusively available on Marvel Unlimited.