Review : Keifer Sutherland’s 24 Seasons 2-5

Courtesy of Amazon Prime and Roku I’ve been able to catchup on a series that I was indifferent to when it first aired, namely Keifer Sutherland’s 24.

Season 1 was reviewed a few years back on this blog and I said of that season “sporadic and haphazard’, and that description extends to these recent seasons that for the most part suffer from those same failings.

Seasons 2 through 4 suffering from the same contrived writing and illogical (stepping over into idiotic) character decisions/choices and quite a few cliches/stereotypes. Add to that a general formula, every season sporting a traitor in CTU, and Jack Bauher distrusted and hunted by a belligerant boss and it is a recipe for annoying, ‘must miss’ television. Grade : Not worth finishing.

Season 5 I am happy to say is much tighter and better paced than previous seasons, and keeps to a minimum the soap opera family asides and diversions that is always the weakest part of any season. Each episode has a satisfying, cinematic action scope and feel, and is well directed by a rotating group of directors, to include Brad Turner.

All in all season 5 Of 24, 11 episodes in is far more entertaining than previous seasons and sofar I’m sticking with it. However with 13 episodes to go there is a lot of room there for the ball to get dropped.

Will update as I move further through the season. View the season for yourself via Amazon Prime or Dvd (I can already tell this is a season worth having and rewatching on Dvd, the commentaries alone makes it a deal).

24: Season Five

What I’m Watching! Free Shows on ROKU/Amazon Prime!

THE GREAT

GRIMM Season 1- Surprisingly entertaining fantasy show that works in a way that other shows such as WAREHOUSE 13 do not
LIFE Season 1- A wry and off-kilter and charming and undeniably different tv drama. tinged with a whimsy and a bit of magical realism that makes it more than a simple police procedural
TOP SHOT Season 1, 2, 4- I’m not a ‘reality’ tv fan, but this history channel competition show is nothing short ofย  fantastic. Additive and fun watching

THE OKAY

TOP SHOT Season 3 – One competitor and the drama he introduces (the words functional psychopath come to mind) almost makes the season unwatchable. Thankfully he gets removed, and allows for an exciting season finale.

PRIMEVIL Season 1, 2

THE MEDIOCRE OR JUST PLAIN AWFUL

24 Season 1
24 Season 2- horrible and moronic writing and painfully contrived plot choices, and overblown performances makes this ultimately a waste of time

2013: DAY 48 – FIVE BEST CLASSIC MOVIE SERIALS!

2013: DAY 48 – FIVE BEST CLASSIC MOVIE SERIALS!

Well one of my passions in these first 50 days of the new year, has been classic movie serials. The inspiration for filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, to name a prominent two, movie serials were the pre-television answer to moving pictures’ sequential entertainment. Inspiration for films such as STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES.

raidersofthelostarkpolish

Unlike a standard big budget film,that offered a big complete story, the serials were about giving viewers bite-sized and tasty morsels of thrills and adrenalin inducing entertainment to keep viewers coming to the local movie-house on a weekly basis. And the hallmark of the serial’s formula of thrills was the cliffhanger. A formula that has only relatively recently been put to good effect on television in shows such as 24 and BREAKING BAD.

breakingbad2

But to see this formula at its best you have to experience it via the best of classic movie serials. Unfortunately given the formulaic nature of serials, and the challenges of strict deadlines, and limited budgets, movie serials could often fall into the rut of inane writing, insipid direction and repetitive and sloppy cliffhangers.

The majority of serials I have so far tried, fall victim to the foibles outlined above. However five that do not, that stand out as GREAT serials of the 20th century, that I find incredibly entertaining being introduced to them here in the 21st, are….

captainmarvelserial

ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL -Wow. Just wow. This is not your father’s Superman. This dude has no compunction about killing bad guys. And it is just a plain entertaining thrill ride.

SPY-SMASHER- Add World War II, A masked crimefighter against the Axis, and add some of the best fight scenes and most energetic cliffhangers and you have this serial. The best of the best.

MYSTERIOUS DOCTOR SATAN- How cool is this villain? So cool that he gets top billing in this serial over the costumed hero?!! A great serial.

callofthesavageserial

THE CALL OF THE SAVAGE- Tarzan eat your heart out! Some jaw dropping animal stock footage highlights a fun serial that imagines a different kind of jungle boy. Fun and entertaining with great cliffhangers!

flashgordon

FLASH GORDON:SPACE SOLDIERS- The original 1936 serial (originally just called FLASH GORDON, followed by two sequels the 1938 MISSION TO MARS, and the 1940 FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE) has everything that later versions aspired to but never quite achieved. It is imaginative, fun, audacious, manic, sexy, thrilling and generally balls to the wall good.

Despite the limitations of the day as it relates to special effects, men in suits, lizards with bits added to stand in as dinosaurs, wobbly ships on strings, this serial has something that transcends all these glaring flaws, it is just popcorn chewingly fun! With Flash and his compatriots racing from one hair-raising, adrenaline inducing adventure after another. A combination of insanely imaginative and compelling writing, married to breakneck direction, and whole-heartedly embraced performances adds up to a whole that transcends the admittedly suspect sum of its parts.

And did I mention sexy? Flash at any given time has at least three gorgeous and scantily clad females vying for his attention. The most gorgeous of who appears but briefly in the abode of the Shark Men. Latin and clad in white, you’ll know her when you see her.

And getting back to the jab about men in suits. This serial has one of the scariest men in a monkey suit ever put to film! (and I’ve seen my share!:)) It really is awesomely impressive, and a hugely thrilling and memorable cliffhanger. If there was an academy award given for monkey acting, this guy should have got it. :).

All in all, I have to say one of the best things I’ve seen in this two thousand and thirteenth year of our lord, is this throwaway weekly serial from 73 years ago!! I highly recommend it!

So there you go. In no particular order five of the greatest movie serials ever!

These 12 to 15 part serials are some of the best examples of a medium, of a type of cinematic entertainment that the ascension of the age of television in the 50s brought to an end. However, much like Old Time Radio of the same period,the late 30s to the early 50s, these shows may be past, but thanks to the digital age they are not forgotten and more… are readily available (if you know where to look) so the lucky newcomer is able to sample these treasures of a bygone age at their leisure.

Sample yours today… here:

Flash Gordon: Box Set (Space Soldiers/Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars/Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe) (3DVD)

Adventures of Captain Marvel

Colorado and the News and Monsters

“The Quest is the Quest.”
DR. WHO: UNDERWORLD

Colorado.

I’ll be brief, as the media has flapped their lips much, and as always said little. Nothing of use. And I have spoken before on Americans massacring Americans. The unchecked carnage and irrationality, of a population that cheers the death of people and nations it does not know, coming home to roost.

Machine men
with Machine minds
Killing in these Machine times

I was traveling when the news of Colorado intruded.

That’s the only word for it.

The 24 hour news machine/propaganda agenda… lives nowhere as well, as in places we go to… travel away. Lives nowhere as completely as plane, train and bus stations. Almost like an oft repeated mantra of programming to blunt any true travel, a mantra of… ‘this be the world… forever…there is no escape’.

Something oppressive about the 24 hour news cycle, I have always found.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be informed of tragedies such as Colorado (What a beset state), and immediately informed.

What I am saying is the media seems to want to inform us of nothing else. In a day when pilots averted plane crashes, and good Samaritans saved hikers, and countries at war found moments of peace, none of that good news rated even a footnote.

I’m saying the news is not the world, it is selective showcasing of the world, and perhaps if that selection sought to gleefully make stars of something beyond tragedy and mass murder, there would be less sad, pathetic young men, seeking to make their mark with the media… by giving it what it wants.

Murder.

I’m saying I listened to reporters almost salivating over every detail of a dozen dead and dozens more maimed and scarred and changed for life.

And I did not hear the victims in all that endless parade of lipsticked Fox whores and well quaffed CNN pimps, putting on their sincere faces as they sought to poke wounds for blood and wring eyes to elicit tears. I did not hear the victims at all. I heard ghouls, almost vibrating with the joy of a juicy, salacious story.

Vibrating with the joy of a new boogie man and court case to make their names with. Perhaps book deals and made for TV movies for all involved.

I am saying one man chose to change many lives, do not let him change any more. Do not give him… the stage. And reasons? I do not care of reasons. Reasons do not raise the dead, or replace eyes or limbs or livers. I do not care the reason people cross the line, it is enough that they cross the line.

And that they must answer for it, in such a manner as to make the next man see naught but misery in the repetition.

And the talk of insanity is and has always been an invalid one. All crime is insanity, so it is never a case of innocent by reason of insanity, it should always be a case of guilty by reason of insanity.

And in no way should monsters profit from their crime.

No book deals, no interviews, no made for tv offers. Make it illegal to profit from a massacre, whether you are the perpetrator, or a tv station, or a movie studio.

Sure you can write or create a documentary etc, but any profits go into a fund for the victims and their families. NO one profits from a massacre, least of all the perpetrator, becomes the new law of the land.

His name is removed, is vilified, is lessened, his likeness done away with, and everything he was reduced to a bland label such as: ‘”pathetic impotent eunuch BH” stands trial for his crimes.’

And throughout history, that is the name and the manner of man that shall be remembered.

Do that, and then see how many will seek that path for glory!

We must stop glamourizing mass murderers, those who take the easy road to their media promised minutes of fame and infamy. Because to continue to glorify and profit from such massacres is to be complicit in the crime, and worse to be complicit in future crimes, by continuing to romanticize a society of monsters.

All that went through my head in the 15 minutes total, over the course of a weekend that I could stomach to listen to the news whores and pimps, in their glory. And to my horror I found them, all the reporters, far more sickening than the man who walked into a theater… to get their attention.

America will not have ground to stand on with any other country, in judging their atrocities, till this country first owns up and manages our own boiling over evils.

I wish for those affected, an end to the monster that caused their pain, but more than that, I wish an end to the monster-makers… which our news media is no little part of.

Here endeth the Lesson.

The News Thing, a boat of lost souls, and the cross

This is me, ranting. Bat crazy ranting. Those who want to avoid Bat Crazy ranting, avoid this one, come back tomorrow and hear about super-heroes punching each other in their under-wear. ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t really do… the news thing.

I mean the major stuff I keep abreast of, if the president and congress are trying to sell first borns to big business, etc. But the 24 hour, FOX/CNN/SS constant “thought police, be afraid, believe, color coded terror, be afraid”… not really my bag.

You tell me something one time a day, that’s news. You tell me something 72 times a day, the same thing, 3 times an hour, that is not about news, that is about programming. That is about conditioning. That is about terror.

That is about you, the media, in ways deep and dreadful and not at all healthy, trying to touch me.

I watch people, sit in front their tv god… constantly just soaking up and regurgitating another man’s hate.

Older women in my family, god love women, but they are like sponges for the dreams of madmen, raised on serialized entertainment, on soap operas, so news and talk shows are just more soap operas to them. Idiocy is just more entertainment to them. And they will open up their mouths and parrot out of their mouths whatever is on television… without questioning.

“Oh isn’t it good we’re invading Libya” one recently said to me, when this nation (under God?) was committing yet another coup in a sovereign nation.

“Why?” I asked her.

“Cause of all the bad things the leader has done to his people.”

“Do you mean Gaddafi, who was supporting the civil rights movement in this country, and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, when the American government wouldn’t let great quantities of the population drink out of faucets or use a bathroom, and was siccing dogs on marchers, and bombing churches and lynching Black children? That Gaddafi?”

Needless to say I’m really popular at family reunions.

It’s just amazing to me, how few people in America, think. Not Black people, or White people, or Brown people, or Yellow people, but any people… think, beyond what the idiot box tells them.

Oh it is to be wept at, how all you victims of Rome, so gleefully are turned into victimizers.

Here’s the thing with me. You have to earn the moral high ground.

YOU HAVE TO EARN the moral high ground.

Be you a man, or a nation, you have to earn the moral high ground.

America is forever taking the moral high ground. And no country, in the history of this world, is less suited to walk that walk. America began as a terrorist nation, and America grew fat through fostering a level of inhumanity and terror, that no Iraq or Iran or Cuba or Korea or Russia or Libya, has ever come close to.

And the thing about America, is her present shows no sign of having repented of her past.

America has never stopped being a terrorist nation. It’s her one, last great product.

So yeah when the military industrial complex, pulls the strings for the 24hour propaganda show we call CNN or Fox, etc… I’m not really big, on goose stepping along.

I guess because I have a long memory, and I potentially can forgive, but I will never forget and I will never cheer you into a position to do it again. To anyone.

Now you, the tides of war, can come through me, or you can try to walk over me, but you’ll never reach your goal with me.

It’s the same reason I’ll never be a Christian as practiced in America. I have no particular issue with Christianity, I think the ideology is grand, however in practice especially in America it has been an abomination in the eyes of God.

That’s not a dig, and it’s not an insult, it is however a fact.

From the Witch trials on. The odious form of Slavery that took place in this nation, the most depraved the world has ever seen, happened not despite Christianity. It reached it’s peak of evil BECAUSE of how Christianity was practiced in this country.

Slavery, in the vile form practiced in the US flourished… because of Christianity.

That’s a hell of a thing for anyone to say, I know it… and I take no pleasure in the saying.

More hell still, because it’s the truest thing you’ll ever hear anybody tell you.

I have seen the torture devices. I have seen your abominations. I have seen ships with names like HOPE, and CHARITY, and GRACE (all we need is one named OPERATION FREEDOM), loaded down with tortured men, women, and children. I have seen the machinations of righteous men and women. Shielding their abominations under the name of Christ and god.

And I have seen one more thing, that we are our fathers even onto the 7th generation, and crimes not grappled with, not resolved… are repeated: there or there or there.

Christianity as practiced in this country, has more of Rome in it, than of Christ, and this country has the crucifixions to prove it. The cross itself, having nothing to do with a Christ, being a Roman symbol long before any such messianic birth or death, a roman symbol of power, and dominance, and torture. The devil going up and down, and to and fro.

How does a person wear a cross and not know that? Not think one minute, of one hour, of one day, of the millions upon millions who died screaming their guts out on that most sacred torture device of Rome… on the cross.

That cross.

Think about it, logically for a second. Who would carry around an idol, a symbol of a lynched man except the lyncher. Much the way lynchers in America would cut trophies from the bodies of their victims to wear around their neck.

Such… Christian people. Such, righteous people. God forbid you accuse anyone else in this world of terror.

So to, who would wear a symbol of a crucifixion around their neck, except the crucifier? For one second, think, actually think, about the dogma, the ritual that Christians do, that has nothing of Christianity in it… but everything of Rome, even onto the forsaking of the Sabbath.

I honestly don’t care what people believe.

But I do care that your choice of good or evil be informed. Whatever you choose to believe, make it an informed choice.

It’s not evil men that worry me.

It’s the masses that cheer them as they go marching by, too busy to make a choice not handed to them. The careless masses are the engine without which, the dreams of evil men… could not fly.

Try an examined choice.

I’ve done that, and I’ve found I can’t wear lynched or crucified men or the symbols of their suffering around my neck, I can’t bend my knee to bloody priests, and I can’t follow a nation of terror.

But I’m wacky that way, your examined choice may be different.

That’s been my news for today.

Cheery son of a gun, aren’t I?

But it’s past now, my mad fit of absinthe and peyote, it comes only rarely, when the spirit moves.

Perhaps even when the spirit needs,

For a man, supposedly shorn of faith, I do believe in fate.

I needed to speak.

Perhaps becomes someone needed to listen.

Who knows.

Wild is the world, and occasionally wonderful.

But the mad compulsion has left me, until the next blue moon.

Which is fitting, because I find the truth you don’t have to repeat as often as lies. If a lie, it will touch you not, without a constant barrage, and you will be unmoved by my mad ramblings.

But if the truth, it lived in you long before you read these words, and my words simply, like a stone waiting for a sculptor… revealed it.

If the truth you will know it. And if a lie you will know it.

And how you make of that news, something new…. well, who knows, the world is wild and wonderful… his miracles to perform. ๐Ÿ™‚

DVD FACEOFF Review: Idris Elba’s LUTHER vs 55 DEGREES NORTH

I just watched the 1st season of the BBC show LUTHER, and I have to admit to addictively enjoying it for the great majority of its run.

It is very unusual for me to review a series and go into specifics, because I avoid such reviews myself. I don’t like spoilers, I like to go into something fresh. All I need to know is if you liked something or not, and general reasons why, I don’t need a play by play.

Unfortunately LUTHER is one of those rare shows that requires more detail, than I typically like to give when reviewing a show. This detail necessary in order to relate accurately my feelings on the show’s 1st season.

I will attempt to be as general as possible, but there are spoilers below. So for those looking to avoid all spoilers and just get the gist of my feel on this show, just jump to the last paragraph.

The first thing that has to be said is, I think with a lesser actor in the lead role the show would have sunk under its weight of…excess. Its extremes pushing it dangerously close toward parody and the farcical. Like one actor states when describing the show, ‘it’s not realism, it’s arched to the point of theatrics’, and needs especially capable actors to ground this.

And they pull that off spectacularly for most of the episodes that make up season 1 of LUTHER.

The high point of course being the lead. Idris Elba is one of the best and most commanding actors of his generation, and none of those gifts are wasted in this series, about a London Inspector Detective, a monster hunter at a cross-roads. He brings a nuanced strength and believability to a role, that as stated pivots wildly between the understated and the monstrous.

The episodes ramping up till # 5 which is the most outrageous episode of the run, an amazing hour of television, packing more delirious ups and downs then in a typical season of most shows, or in most 2 hour movies for that matter.

Part of the jaw dropping nature of it, is the irrational actions of a main character, who to cover up a minor crime, compounds it with a blood bath that makes no sense. So part of the strength of that episode is its nonsensical nature, the audience can’t keep up because it is irrational.

Episode 5 is clearly influenced by the 1st season of 24, so those holding this up as British television’s originality over American television, would be incorrect. But while not original, the twist and turns of LUTHER are unexpected and for the most part well done.

However it doesn’t work quite as well here as in 24, because that betrayal, that Greek tragedy reveal comes out of nowhere here, and is not really supported in anything covered in the brief season of LUTHER. So everything rests on the final episode to give some perspective to the lunacy of episode 5, and that simply does not happen.

The last episode, episode 6, the season conclusion, instead leaves a taste of ashes in my mouth. The show LUTHER perhaps being more appropriately named after a different historical and Literary figure, Job. Since the trials of Job are what they put Idris Elba’s character through.

If anything the season ender is too steeped in such broad melodrama and theatrics, and strains suspension of disbelief too far. I’m willing to meet a show half way, but this episode went off the rails in terms of poor justifications and even poorer character actions/decisions.

This final episode steeped in what can be called, I think accurately, moronic actions from all involved, including Luther, especially the supposed brilliant Luther. As one character states “you’re not acting in a reasonable way’ and that’s the mantra for the last two episodes of LUTHER for all the characters. They are all written as caricatures of people, rather than real 3 dimensional personalities, their actions coming off as inane and contrived, to steamroll viewers to the series protracted and unsatisfying conclusion.

For a show that prides itself on being innovative, the finale is largely a very idiotic and moronic episode,that does not do justice to what has come before. The plotting is unlikely and haphazard at best, and the cliffhanger denouement… lacking.

It is insultingly stupid to be blunt. Here we have a character supposedly one of the best detectives and his female ally, one of the most brilliant sociopaths, and the best plan they could come up with, to trap the end game villain, is arranging a meeting in full view of snipers, and just hoping on absolute luck to escape without being shot or taken into custody by police!?. Really? That’s your master plan? It is moronic.

And the purpose of this suicide mission? To allow a civilian, someone who has no interest in believing the protagonist’s protestations of innocence to help save the day? And the civilian not only buys it but agrees to commit a felony. Agrees to walk into police headquarters, sneak unnoticed into the police locker room, break into a locker and find diamonds (Diamonds that somehow Luther magically guesses the location of. Guessing exactly where the villain is keeping them. Really??? Talk about plot contrivance), and get out without being noticed or stopped.

Really?

I do respect Neil Cross for creating this series/character, but I just think he wrote himself into a brick wall, and just couldn’t write himself out of it and ended up with a very, very flawed and contrived final episode.

I mean it is absolute dreck, if you take half a second to consider it. It is an incoherent muddied mess. And this is followed up by the third ludicrousness, plot idiocy/contrivance, of telling the bad guy about the theft before you know it has been pulled off.

Really? Come on!

Thus giving the bad guy time to try and stop the theft. And all these mistakes and suicide by cop ideas avoided, the final purpose is to lure the villain to a location so you can catch him confessing on tape??

That’s your brilliant idea???

A confession that is completely inadmissible, as the very show illustrates in episode 5, how audio recordings can be manipulated, and are worthless in and of themselves.

So the whole endgame is a tissue of faulty logic and questionable dumb luck.

And the culmination of this episode’s stupidity, and what really just annoyed me and soured me above everything else, is Luther has the upper hand on the monster that has done all this damage, and ends up talking himself out of that upper-hand and into receiving a butt whupping, that engenders him needing to be saved… again, by his homicidal female ally.

I think Neil Cross progressively writing not only the series as a whole, but his lead character specifically, less convincingly with each episode.,

And to add to the issues, let’s ignore little common sense things that would have made more… well sense, in proving the protagonist’s innocence and the other person’s guilt; cell phone records, and geo-location of cell phone signals just to name one option.

As the show takes pains to point out, this is a monitored, near Orwellian 21st century Britain, where everything is seen, and everything recorded. These are 21st century detectives. So if they couldn’t pull actual recordings of crucial conversations between Luther and the Killer, at least the who, when , where of these calls is something they can pull. Luther’s cell phone was in use miles away at the time of the death he’s accused of . And a triangulation of other cell records would probably prove where the real criminal was at the time of all three unsolved murders of Episode #5. Thus giving the besieged protagonist reasonable doubt if nothing else, to help at least sway his Chief Detective to his side.

Just simple common sense stuff like that is ignored in favor of hysterical and nonsensical plot contrivances. And obviously this didn’t bother some, as the first season was well received, but as I stated… for me the season finale left the taste of ashes in my mouth.

And obsessing on that ending, (Spoilers)Comeon he should have at least shot the villain in the knees to shut him up if nothing else, rather than ending up punked on the wrong end of a knife. I hate these filmic cliches of turning your back on the villain or letting down your guard etc. I don’t find it gripping or good writing, I find it boring and to be cliched, hack writing.

That kind of writing comes off as an insult to my intelligence, and just ended up unduly sullying a show, that for most of the season I was quite behind.

There’s supposedly a 2nd season now available, and I’m lukewarm on investing the time to see it, but I will. Mostly to see if series creator Neil Cross imbues that with less of the lunacy and idiocy that marred for me the culmination of season 1, and can recapture the strengths of series 1.

So all that said I do recommend Season 1 of LUTHER, unsatisfying end acknowledged, the first 5 episodes of season 1 are worth the price of admission.

And to be fair I’m only this disappointed in the ending, because of how impressed I was with the shows buildup, highlighted by great cinematography, excellent soundtrack, impressive montage sequences (I love the opening credit sequence and the theme song), and of course for the most part… stellar performances and direction. Final Grade: B.

*****

And if you like LUTHER I would direct you to a similar, but I feel superior BBC police procedural, the little seen but riveting 55 DEGREES NORTH.

A show that ran for a brief two seasons, it eschews the brutal and tortured extremes of LUTHER, to instead be a lowkey tale, of a small English countryside police force.

Don Gilet and the striking Dervla Kirwan (that’s a lot of woman! ๐Ÿ™‚ Please excuse that bit of sexism, but easy on the eyes… she is ๐Ÿ™‚ ), headlining a show that is some odd mating of Moonlighting meets Homicide meets Diagnosis Murder, while being quite a unique and original take on a police procedural.

No serial killers here, these are more prosaic crimes, but the show, in an age of grim and gritty, is all the more welcome for that light touch. And the final episode ties everything up with quite an enjoyable ending. 55 DEGRESS NORTH
comes highly recommended. The full show is available on DVD. B+/A-.

The Annotated Sword 1-24 by Luna Brothers or how these issues kicked my ass!

Okay, you know how I was championing the collected edition of the Luna Brother’s GIRLS. Brilliant book by the way, proudly displayed on my bookshelf.

Okay I just made it all the way through THE SWORD. All 24 issues, I have both the issues and the collected edition but I do feel you get something out of reading the letters-pages, plus I like the sense of temporality (yes I did just invent that word ๐Ÿ™‚ ) it gives to the story, the definite sense of cliffhangers and pacing, that is felt when you have to close one book and transition to the next. I think it works surprisingly well in those 22 page chunks. So my first time through I’m reading the issues as opposed to the big honking collected edition.

I have to say as good as GIRLS is, and it is very good, THE SWORD is head and shoulders better.

Well, I just finished all 24 issues, and gone through the collected edition(I love that they include the original covers to break up the chapters… take note Robert Kirkman, that’s how you’re supposed to do a collected edition!… definitely helps with the sense of temporality), over two years of story and art… my verdict?

Well first, let’s back up and be petty for a bit.

The title, brilliant title, very simple, very to the point… THE SWORD.

How can you mess that up?

Well you’d be surprised! I need to call a couple people out, while it is spelt SWORD, the W is silent, it is pronounced ‘sord’. So unless you’re effing Arnold Schwarzenegger, you don’t pronounce the damn W. When in doubt check the effing dictionary! Damn podcasters! I’m looking at you!!! You know who you are! ๐Ÿ™‚ . (Oh and don’t get all riled I love podcasters. In fact my 2010 Best of Podcast Retrospective will probably be up next posting!)

And it’s not ‘supposibly’, the word is supposedly. I swear everyone who comes from a certain close by state, that will remain nameless, pronounces it ‘supposibly’, drives me up the frigging wall.

Do you feel the hate? I Know, I’m sorry, I’m usually in such a good mood when I do these blog updates.

But I’m in really an odd place right now, after reading THE SWORD.

Okay for those who haven’t read it, all you need to know is… it is brilliant! Go buy it now!

I do highly recommend reading it, because it is one of the most brilliant works in its construction and its audacity, that you are going to find. And because they offer the original covers to denote chapter breaks, the collected edition will work brilliantly as most peoples first, and only, introduction to the work.

Check here to purchase the individual issues.

Check here to purchase the massive, bludgeon your neighbor, beautiful collected edition of THE SWORD.

Check here to purchase THE GIRLS huge, honking collected edition!.

I appreciate if you use these links as they help make a few pennies for this blog. So it’s a great way to get a great item for yourself or a loved one, and also help me continue bringing you these mad blog posts! So thanks in advance! And if you do buy via the links drop me an email, or leave a comment here saying you bought it or what you thought of it, and I’ll send you a freebie for supporting. Now back to our regularly scheduled program… ๐Ÿ™‚

So go, buy the collected edition, say uncle HT sent ya, then come back and read the rest of this. Because beyond this point there be Dragons! Spoilers abound as I give a play by play of my run through the series, to the ending, to the odd place I am right now.

You’ve been warned. Okay, without further ado…

The Annotated Sword 1-24 or how these issues kicked my ass!

#1- If you’re not familiar with the Luna Brother’s the art can at first seem simplistic, stiff. But trust me it is anything but. What you’ll get in-tuned to, almost immediately, is the brothers are masters of conveying emotion through these lines on paper. The facial expressions are amazing and convey an almost palpable sense of who these characters are. And that emotion transcends the seeming minimalism of the artwork. Also they make the art breathe, mostly Jonathan in terms of the finished art, Joshua is credited with Layout and Lettering, and they both do the story. A big part of why the artwork works is the coloring and lighting and shading and perspective and focus and variety of other effects Jonathan uses to imbue these 2 D images with life. Another part is shot selection, and the use of panels against a black background. You become that much more funneled in, due to the images of light bound by that darkness. I’ve heard cinematic used to describe the effect, it works as well as any, though sensual is perhaps more accurate. This issue introduces us to Dara Brighton, a nice introduction, a meaningful one, before all meaning leaves her life; or more accurately, before her life becomes hijacked, forfeit, to greater meanings. It’s a great first issue with a cliffhanger to set the stage, for many to come.

#2-2nd issues can often be difficult, as they are oft the exposition heavy portion of the story. The great thing you learn in this issue, and that continues throughout the series is the Luna Brothers ability to make their talking scenes as compelling and captivating as their action sequences. The silences in the hands of the Lunas are as deafening as the explosions.

#3- Speaking of explosions this is where we learn what the Sword, and a young woman called Dara Brighton, picked by fickle fate to survive… can do. Phenomenal, jaw-dropping (in more ways than one) issue! The first “shout-out-loud” great cliffhanger of the series. A+.

#4- What amazes me is the Luna Brothers art. No one is going to mistake their art for Kevin Nowlan, or Art Adams, or Alex Ross or Gil Kane or JH Williams III or any of the masters of the medium, technically they are not draftsmen of that level, however what they are is masterful storytellers. I said it before it comes down to expression and shot selection, and using those two tools, they’ve created an issue that moves, and compels you to turn pages! They rivet you with just how masterfully they invest their characters into the story, and you into the characters. Add to that their ear for dialog, the naturalistic amidst the absurd. This issue is a chase, and at the end of it Dara Brighton, wielder of the sword… makes a choice that puts her at the mercy of a world that cannot understand her. B+.

#5 The thing that strikes you about this issue is just how solid and strong the storytelling is. From Dara waking up to see herself chained in a mirror, to her breakdown as the agent makes her consider her father’s culpability in her family’s murder, to the perspective shot of her leaping over the agents. Just great visual storytelling to go with a great story. A-.

#6- Dara is reunited with her fugitive friends, and a history lesson is told. Very engrossing. B+.

#7- This issue flows between riveting storytelling and laugh-out loud moments. “Girl pants”, “bus trip”. And the Luna Brothers are masters of the final page. Of that iconic last image/line that makes you go “Damn!”. I own the SWORD COLLECTED EDITION but the best way to initially read this series, and the way I’m doing it, is reading the singles with letter pages. You really need that moment between issues, to recognize that down-time, that transition. Great issue. A-.

#8- Another winner “Reached into the bowl” Great issue, but you know what I said previously about the Lunas being the masters of the last page. If this last page doesn’t make you cackle out loud, there is something wrong with you. Masterful cliffhangers. Plus that’s a fantastic cover. A-.

#9-If the ending of this issue doesn’t make you go…”Aww Sh*t!!!!” , then I repeat… There is something wrong with you. Yeah bring it!!!! Frigging awesome storytelling. Dara at the mercy of the monster that killed her sister.A+.
.

#10- Woah. Like the protagonist you suddenly realize this is a lot harder than you thought it was going to be. A-.

#11- It’s a LOT! LOT!! HARDER! Man, what a throwdown, and it’s getting worse. You can almost say shes on her last… legs? Doh! It’s compulsive page turning entertainment. A-.

#12 The first year or thereabouts of the SWORD comes to an end, and the Luna Brothers could not have ended it better. Dara is 1/3rd of the way through her ordeals, and it has taken much. It primes you, as does the last page, primes the remaining two thirds with simple question… what next? Great issue. A-.

#13- Coming off the powerhouse first 12 issues, this issue was more a lull before the storm. Didn’t really captivate or emotionally resonate with me like previous issues, on first read, but still good. B.

#14- Is back on stride, as Dara and friends… storm the house of an elder god. Great “Bring it!” Cliffhanger! B+.

#15- Efffing INSANE! There are no words! Just read the audacious lunacy that is this issue! Man! They are putting this girl through a lot. A+.

#16- Dara goes toe to toe with an elder God. Nuff said. A+.

#17- Dara vs Giant Rock Elder God! More, more, more. B+/A-.

#18- What a frigging AWESOME final page! Cackling my head off like a loon. Absolutely brilliant. And just the expressions the Luna Brothers put on everyone, but especially Dara as a woman driven beyond all limits of man or god, to exact revenge. Brilliant. A-frigging +.

#19- Wow. How is it possible the Luna Brothers can follow up one of their most action packed issues, with a contemplative one, of mostly talking heads and make it one of the best issues of the run? I’m in awe, as Dara and Friends discuss the future and the past on the way to meet the last of the gods. A+.

#20- Dara lands in New York… and mayhem ensues. Absolutely great series. A-.

#21- Do you know what it is that makes these issues, this story so great. The Luna Brothers have an unerring grasp of both the naturalistic, who we are in our everyday failings and strivings to succed, and the iconic, and their ability to switch between those two poles of our existence… powers what is best about THE SWORD. Once again the last few pages made me go… OH YEAH! And that by itself deserves an A+.

#22- Ouch! That was effing harsh. I don’t even have that particular organ, and it hurt me to watch. I can’t even grade this issue, kinda painful. Double ouch.I go into the last two issues, and I who have known the world… am afraid, That’s pretty damn good storytelling.

#23- Okay. Did not see that coming at all—- brain overloading– too much data! Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Series is blowing my mind.

This is MAJOR SPOILER territory, so read only after reading the whole series.

#24- And now we come to the end. God that was fucking depressing. Talk about a crucifixtion. That’s no way for anybody to die. To go through all that pain, save the world, and then to end like that. Man you Luna Brothers are some cruel SOBs. Uhhh… so depressed, must open vein now.

Over 2 years of story… brilliant, but why oh why would the Luna Brothers let the story of Dara end so brutally, so… unfairly. I know, I know… cause life isn’t fair. Efff that!!! You save the world multiple times you should get more for it than… that. I’m on record as wanting an epilogue to this story to give Dara the happy ending she deserves. I’m looking at you Luna Brothers! I’M LOOKING AT YOU! Call me a hopefull romantic, but I like to believe in happy endings.

“When you strip everything away from the Batman, you’re left with someone who doesn’t want to see anybody die!”–from Ross and Waid’s KINGDOM COME

Unlike the above quote I understand that all life ends in death, but I guess if you strip everything away from me you’re left with someone who doesn’t want anyone to die badly. Who believes that lives of honor, should warrant a little bit of happiness or at least deaths of honor.

It is a dark end to a brilliant book. However I would like to imagine an unseen end to Dara Brighton, where she was acknowledged for her great deeds, and given a gift for those deeds. A boon.

It’s a dream… I have.

And who knows, much like David Peterson of Mouse Guard… who let famous writers and artists do a take on his characters, maybe the Lunas could do a similar one-shot epilogue issue where various creators give their take on Dara Brighton’s end or resurrection or salvation, etc.

Well that’s it for now. Luna Brothers’ are taking a break from joint work, to pursue individual projects, so nothing on the horizon (beyond possible movie talk) to followup THE SWORD. But whatever the future brings for these talented young men (have you seen them? They look like they are ten. To be that young and that talented is mind blowing!) they have left a body of work that will long be admired, enjoyed, and ultimately emulated.

The ending did not make me a happy camper, but the ride is not to be missed. THE SWORD by The Luna Brothers gets my highest recommendation… A-.

I saw this poster, and this young lady would make the perfect Dara Brighton. The combination of beauty, a certain foreboding, a certain vulnerability, and a certain resolve, all captured in a look. Her face is impossible to look away from. With lips that men in ages past built temples to. Alluring on levels that words do barely touch.