Thursday’s Thoughts! Vol 1 Issue 1

dvd, bluray

‘ “Heart jim, Heart! The whole world’s crying out for a little bit of heart!”

— DETECTIVE STORY

RECOMMENDED DVD/BLU-RAY PURCHASE OF THE DAY

 

DETECTIVE STORY (1951) – Detective Story released in 1951, a time before most of your grand parents were born is a surprisingly timeless and always ahead of its time film. To call it the best film of its type is to damn it with faint praise, directed by William Wyler, a director”s director, and starring true powerhouse actors, it is a film, that in an age of streaming, an age of digital, it is a film that it is a crime not to own in physical format, as DVD. Leaving such a movie to the whims of content providers, or broadband access or licensing deals, for when or if it is available… criminal.

It is a movie that now 70 years after every TV show and every movie has ripped it off, should strike modern audiences as formulaic, but it doesn’t. Because here is where the formula was born, and here is where it remains the most staggering and damning.

The cover to the Spanish Blursy, hints at the smouldering intensity that Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker as his wife deliver, captive cogs in a city and a time and a place. Eleanor Parker is absolutely devastating in her performance, her reaction shots to a Kirk Douglas far beyond the edge, it is what people mean when they say star power.

You can say that of the whole cast. Ensemble acting in a time when that was not even a concept.

Watch it via streaming if you can; but then buy the DVD or BluRay. It deserves like most of William Wyler’s movies a place on your book shelf. It is art at 24 frames a minute.

 

What I’m Listening to:

I’m on the third audio book of the 8 book men’s adventure series from the 1970s BLACK SAMURAI. I pop the cd in on my way to from work, and it is SO FRIGGING GOOD! Each book is a writer, the late, great Matc Olden just at the height of his gifts. As a fan of all these men’s adventure books of the 70s, from BOND, to NICK CARTER, to THD EXECUTIONER MAC BOLAN to REMO WILLIAMS THE DESTROYER, Olden’s BLACK SAMURAI  is just more riveting.

An outgrowth of the pulps of the 20s and 30s, married to the pulp fiction and roman noir fiction of the 40s and 50s, the men’s adventures of the 60s and 70s would add a globe hopping sense of scale, mired in the cultural, sexual and idealogical battle grounds of the times. In terms of just great writing, this series is the tops. And that is coming from one of the biggest fans of Warren Murphy’s excellent DESTROYER SERIES.

Pick up the recently released MP3 CD Collections, fantastic performances by audio actor Kevin Kenerly, and all eight of the original 1970 Signet Paperbacks. The original paperbacks are works of art and should be in any bibliophile’s collection.

See my earlier posts for An interview with Diane Crafford, Mark Olden’s partner who the books are dedicated to and who even shows up in one of the books

And I hope to bring you a new interview here on the 44th Aniversary of the series, and since the Marc Olden properties have all heated up of late, with names like Common and Idris Elba attached to them, it is a timely follow-up.

 

What I’m wztching:

Youtube.

I am watching a lot of great Youtube channels. I watch, via Roku, Youtube on my big screen. The Youtube shows are overall more interesting than regular TV.

This week’s standouts are:

FENSTHESPOOK – The quote at the top of this post about having heart, this guy has heart. I like his humanity, his acknowledgement of the fact that the hobby of comic book collecting, is a calling, and an honor. And his reminisces about those who have passed, I find touching.

Silver-Age Dave – one of my favorite Youtubers week in and week out. I have spent a lot of money recently on treasury books, because watching his collection reminded me how much I enjoyed these older treasuries as a kid.

Regie Collects – Always informative, as well as fun haul stories.

Mind Smash – Great channel that breaks down some of the best fighters current and past.

Earl Grey – Great coverage of European and Indie comics and books

Ok that’s it for this installment. Nearly 3am and have to be at work early.

Leave a comment or like if you enjoy this THURSDAY’S THOUGHTS!!!

 

 

 

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20 Best Youtube COMIC BOOK Channels! Week ending 2 June 2018!

While relatively new to the Youtube Comic Book watching scene, I’ve been a collector for a very long time.

I’m listening and watching these Youtube videos/channels on Comic Books, and these channels are fantastic!

I watch them courtesy of Roku on my Big Screen TV, and I spend more time watching these YouTube channels, than regular TV most days. Much to the chagrin of my better half, who has seen more of these videos than she would like. 🙂

It is just great to see collectors of various ages and backgrounds sharing their passion and finds and tips, on a hobby I also get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Without further ado, this is this week’s 15 Favorite Channels!(You can find any of the channels just by searching for their name on Youtube. Tell them HT sent ya!)

  • SILVER AGED DAVE (best comic book room tours, and essential info on insurance, budgeting, preserving your books, and generally enjoying your collection, along with great hauls)
  • SADDLE CITY COMICS – nice coverage of mostly new comics presented by company
  • TheKMN1971- Simply has some of the best hauls of bronze age books. Always costs me money when I see his videos. As i’m inspired to go looking for many of the books he shows off.  🙂
  • EARL GREY (best coverage of European comics, as well as deep dives into select creators and genres)
  • MERCENAUT (very informative, and great selection of books to be on the lookout for)
  • GEM MINT (great coverage on Omibus and collected editions)
  • REGIE IFBBPRO (great hauls and stories, and passion for this hobby)
  • LEEKIRBYDITKO (hands down the best golden age coverage on Youtube, and recently become very interested in Golden Age)

  • THULE (Another great Golden Age channel)
  • JERNO’S COMICS & POP CULTURE – Recent find. Very informative. I like his recent project, cashing out his Starbuck’s stock (Long before this most recent news issue, I had no interest in Starbuck’s. Like KFC amd Shell Gas they are on my list of companies to not do business with) and putting it into comic books, and making a greater rate of return on comics than with his Starbuck’s stock.
  • BOOK ROAST – This one has more to do with Gift Boxes and Harry Potter but it is a nice peacekeeper when you need to break up your comic book watching for your better half 🙂 Also while not a Harry Potter fan, I like this channel as well. Her coverage of different Gift Boxes is interesting, and informative; and her Scottish accent doesn’t hurt. 🙂
  • AFTA COMICS –  Love listening to this guy. He sounds like the late, great Adam West. May he rest in peace. So yeah, I listen to him tell his stories in his Adam West voice, and I’m entertained, and reminded of the late great Adam West. Really like this channel. Covers great Westerns.
  • CHYCHO – I like his laid back, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response, a belief that sound can soothe, and in addition create states in the listener where information is more readily absorbed) delivery. Nice coverage of everything from Golden Age to moderns. And his overview and understanding of economic systems, reinforced some things I knew, and really opened my eyes on some other things. His post PERSONAL FINANCE:CURRENCY,MONEY,ECONOMY,P2:GOLD should really be required viewing, by pretty much everyone.

  • LUTHER MANNING – Like his CGC hauls
  • ALEX THE COMIC HOARDER- like his upbeat coverage of hauls
  • WINDY CITY COMIC BOOKS (great coverage of classic comic book magazines)
  • GORE VIDAL- Great coverage of Independents, magazines, and hardcovers, with a love for the Spanish and Italian artists. His multi-episode coverage on Dark Horse’s CREPAX is essential viewing. He stopped broadcasting a bit mysteriously a month ago, anyone with his contact info just let us know he is alright.

 

  • GABE INFINITY WATCH – I like his coverage of IDW Artist’s Edition.
  • ISLORD372 – New discovery , I really like his collection coverage video.
  • SUPERJOE – Nice selection of various comics from various eras. And some books I had not seen before.

Honorable mentions:

 

  • COMIC BOOK FANATICS – Shout out to Ray Jr, who left to do a tour in Afghanistan. Stay safe over there,.
  • FOOLKILLER5150 – Appears to be an abandoned channel, but lots of good content still out there.

 

And this installment’s Public Service Announcement – To everyone out there who has an issue with Social Justice Warriors, first learn to use the whole word and not the acronym, second you may want to choose a different medium if you don’t like Social justice Warriors. Because if you are reading Superhero Comics, the first social justice warrior is Superman. Followed quickly by Batman, Shazam, and all the others. The whole of Superhero Comics built on this bedrock of vigilantes, sticking up for the little guy, and taking it to the fat cats, and the corrupt, system. Social Justice Warrior defined.

 

Give love to the channels I mention and be wary of cleaning and pressing a comic. If your comic book is a 4.5, It is a 4.5. The attempt to make it a 5.5 in the short term, can be speeding up the process of making it a 1 in the long term.

Ending this on a positive note you 17 channels are always showing me your hauls and recommends, which I greatly thank you for. You’ve put some great books on my radar. Wanted to return the favor. Below is my list of must own comic books, that I think are WAY undervalued and you can still buy incredibly cheaply and will only go up.

Enjoy!!!

 

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marveldatabase/images/d/d7/Defenders_Vol_1_52.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20080721172925https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marveldatabase/images/b/b8/Gunhawks_Vol_1_1.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20160716135239

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/8/84/Adventure_Comics_Vol_1_431.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20170401041618https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/a/a7/Adventure_Comics_Vol_1_434.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20090202013949https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/0/04/Adventure_Comics_Vol_1_438.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20090202014031https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/0/07/Adventure_Comics_Vol_1_440.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20170430053009https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/786713.jpghttps://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marveldatabase/images/5/51/Daredevil_Vol_1_126.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20080808204134https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marveldatabase/images/8/80/Daredevil_Vol_1_127.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20080808204311https://i0.wp.com/www.strangercomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/asunda-untamed-graphic.jpg

 

DAREDEVIL 126 & 127 – One of the best two parters of all time. I read this back in the day and it still stands up as one of my favorite non-Frank Miller DAREDEVIL comics. TORPEDO is a great bronze age character, and this is him at his best. Sporting great Gil kane covers, and a story by Marv Wolfman (who was also Executive Editor at the time, and art by Bob Brown and Klaus Janson. Wonderful visuals.

THE UNTAMED – Is a beautiful sword and sorcery graphic novel by Sebastian A. Jones and Peter Bergting and Darrell May. From STRANGER COMICS. A quality and very little known collected edition.

DEFENDERS 52- Best Gil Kane Cover. Best done in one story. Best Hulk vs Sub-Mariner fight. One of the Best Keith Giffen and David Kraft co-scripts. From about issue 42 to 52, these guys were on FIRE! Best depiction of the Hulk. Best depiction of Sub-Mariner. Done, done, and done.

ADVENTURE COMICS 431-440 -Michael Fleisher’s stories starring the Spectre, with Jim Aparo art have quite frankly never been surpassed. They are for me, the definitive take on the Spectre as a vengeful Wrath of God, with a more than demented sense of perverse punishments. A lurid and legendary series.

THE SINISTER HOUSE OF SECRET LOVE #1- Dark Shadows meets the House of Mystery? How do you not love that title and that cover. A must own.

I SPY 1-6 – The 60s pushed the envelope in terms of entertainment, writing and scope. Bringing globe trotting adventures into our living room. I SPY along with DANGER MAN/SECRET AGENT MAN and MAN WITH A SUITCASE were some of the best TV shows of the period. to have that great Cosby and Culp series, also as a comic book is a must own. Great photo-covers.

You can get any of the books listed, using the link below. And using the link earns this blog a few pennies to keep the lights on.

Buy comic books here!
Hope you enjoyed this post. if you did, spread the word.

 

 

CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) -Revisited and Amazon Prime CONAN series in the works?

 

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?

Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.

Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

—Conan The Barbarian

36 Years later, and the best version of Robert E Howard’s pulp adventure series set at the beginning of the Hyborian age of man, the best live action version of his CONAN, is John Milius’ absolutely thrillingly written CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982).

Conan the Barbarian Movie Poster

 

Starring the great James Earl Jones, and just dripping with great lines, the movie holds up. And no one who has seen it, can leave it without the lines of a plain, unapologetic, patriarchal time, following you, like war drums in your heart.  Man, Millius got what was best in Howard’s Conan, dialing down the ‘of its time’ weaknesses of Howard’s stories, and instead dialing up the strengths to 11.

Seeing the movie as a boy, it was a boy’s adventure writ large, like STAR WARS or INDIANA JONES or SUPERMAN. And John Millius’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN were the lines and the myth, that many boys grew to manhood on.

The only weakness of the first film is its titular star, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger at the time, coming off devastating bodybuilding wins, was while physically the absolutely right person, did not have the acting chops. I mean he pulls it off for the most part, but some scenes cause you to wince, even as a kid, However with an actor with more gravitas, the movie could be a solid recommend, rather than  a qualified one.

I think you could take this same Movie, with the brilliant John Millius script, shoot it almost line for line, and shot for shot, and add a protagonist with more acting skill, and have a great movie.

The 2011 Momoa movie unfortunately, while it got a dynamic actor, surrounded him with a sub par script and story, and had nothing iconic or memorable to it, ala Millius’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN.

And the less said about the CONAN  THE DESTROYER the better.

However there is talk of an Amazon Streaming TV series of Conan to be put together by Colony co-creator Ryan Condal, Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik and The Handmaid’s Tale executive producer Warren Littlefield.

But until that sees the light of day, I would say revisit Millius; CONAN THE BARBARIAN, and enjoy what is best in life.

Thulsa Doom: I wish to speak to you now. Where is the Eye of the Serpent? Rexor says that you gave to a girl, probably for a mere night’s pleasure, hmm? What a loss. People have no grasp of what they do. You broke into my house, stole my property, murdered my servants, and my PETS! And that is what grieves me the most! You killed my snake. Thorgrim is beside himself with grief! He raised that snake from the time it was born.

Conan: You killed my mother! You killed my father, you killed my people! You took my father’s sword… ah –

[Rexor twists his arm]

Thulsa Doom: Ah. It must have been when I was younger. There was a time, boy, when I searched for steel, when steel meant more to me than gold or jewels.

Conan: The riddle… of steel.

Thulsa Doom: Yes! You know what it is, don’t you boy? Shall I tell you? It’s the least I can do. Steel isn’t strong, boy, flesh is stronger! Look around you. There, on the rocks; a beautiful girl. Come to me, my child…

[coaxes the girl to jump to her death]

Thulsa Doom: That is strength, boy! That is power! What is steel compared to the hand that wields it? Look at the strength in your body, the desire in your heart, I gave you this! Such a waste. Contemplate this on the tree of woe. Crucify him!

—James Earl Jones having six years earlier defined one of the great cinematic villains of all time in Darth Vader, does so here in front of the camera, with his brilliant performance of Thulsa Doom. Like all great villains, there is something alluring, and of the misplaced hero, in the best of villians. Something almost correct, something of the man they were, or could have been, that resonates in who they are. Something in their fervor and their madness, that seems at times… almost sane.

 Not currently available (free) on streaming, this is the reason to always have your Blu-Ray Player and Blu-ray copy of great movies like this! Get your copy at the link below! 🙂

https://amzn.to/2r4R28h

 

Conan the Barbarian [Blu-ray]

Marvel Studios BLACK PANTHER in 3D – The Verdict?

I just came from a sold out upscale theater showing of Ryan Coogler’s BLACK PANTHER for Marvel Studios.

I’m going to try to be brief. As someone who went into this having avoided all trailers, and spoilers, and special feature exposes (that in my experience is like pre-chewing your food before sitting down to eat, making it impossible for fan or reviewer to truly be surprised by a film) I was… blown away.

 

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In terms of look, performance, direction, pathos, and humor, and rock solid action, it is without argument one of the best of the EIGHTEEN Marvel Studio Films released to date. I saw it in 3D and it is worth seeing in 3D. You don’t get the things flying into the audience effect, but the sense of looking down, and into chasms and waterfalls, plays up to 3Ds strengths. So I recommend seeing it at least once in 3D. I say once because like the original AVENGERS film, this is a film that deserves to be seen more than once.

I plan to see it in 2D when I go back next time.

This BLACK PANTHER film, released during Black History month, in my humble opinion is in a three way tie for the #1 Marvel Movie of all time; tied with the original AVENGERS by Josh Whedon and CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER by the Russo Brothers. Those three movies share one shining exquisite truth; they are not just great comic-book movies, they are great films… FULL STOP.

Okay that should be all you need, go see the film now.

Okay still here, the following contains minor spoilers.

Black Panther Movie Poster

BLACK PANTHER is a great film from first frame to last. It is masterfully done; weaving effortlessly between drama, pomp, circumstance, humor, horror, tragedy, and heroism and hope. Chadwick Boseman is astonishing as the titular character, playing him with understated grace and elegance, that carries effortlessly the weight of the film. He is the rock upon which our tale is moored.

Writer/Director Ryan Coogler in three films has catapulted himself as one of the defining directors of our age, and BLACK PANTHER is that talent writ large. This is the tale of the death of kings, of fathers and sons, and things lost in the fire, this is about nothing less than the fate of the world, and about nothing more than the grief of boys for their fathers, a beautifully developed thread in all of Coogler’s films, but never done so well as here.

Coogler takes the admonishment of Hamlet ‘The common theme of life, is death of fathers’ and uses it like a lover and a lance, to both caress and break your heart. And he takes King Henry’s complaint in THE LION OF WINTER ‘I could have conquered Europe all of it, but I had women in my life.’ and here makes of it the saving grace of the protagonist, the film, and the world.

It is the women in this film who save the world, who save the men from their self extinguishing thirst for conquest and vengeance. And taking that line from LION OF WINTER, to also mean parental and familial influence, the difference between T’Challa and Killmonger then ultimately is in their relations to their fathers, even to the structure of their afterlives, one is defined by the inspiration of his father, and one by the lack of his father, and both of them have become completely extraordinary men in staggeringly different ways because of these relations.

It makes for a film of unexpected emotional intensity and depth. Coogler as a filmmaker has my number, as tears unbidden came to my eyes in places in this film. But I would argue he has everyone’s number, if you have the heart to feel, be you Irish or Korean or Ethiopian or American, Coogler will find those places that bind us all,… and squeeze. And then he’ll hit you with the action, then the humor, and sometime when you are laughing, he will squeeze again, and the tears will rise and you will know this is a filmmaker.

And it is wonderful when a director finds his muse, and an actor finds the director that gets him, brings out his best. Coogler and Michael B. Jordan are that combination.

They join legendary director/star pairings such as:

  • Ford and Wayne
  • Hawks and Wayne
  • Kurosawa and Mifune
  • Hitchcock  and Grant
  • Lee and Washington
  • Scorsese and Dinero
  • Scott and Washington
  • Woo and Yun-Fat
  • Ayer and Smith
  • Fuqua and Washington (It is not lost on me that Denzel Washington’s name appears with three different directors. It just shows the kind of fantastic actor he is, the longevity of his career, and that he can embody for many directors, the perfect actor).

Black Panther Movie Poster

Those pairings when they happen are the source of cinematic gold. And it happens in BLACK PANTHER with Coogler and Jordan, two of the respective best of their generation.

Simply a masterful film, with a stunning cast, and great performances. And Kudos to Kevin Feige who with 18 films under his belt, is not just producing films that transcend the source material, he has proved himself the most successful and influential film producer, in the history of the medium.Supplanting such names as Zanuck or Lewton.

It is a success richly earned.

That said, a lot of fans and reviewers care about the numbers, how much a movie makes. I do not. I could not care less if BLACK PANTHER made $1 or 1 Billion Dollars. In this day where studios own the films and the theaters; that is money that is being taken out of local economies. It is good the movie is successful in that we get more such movies from that director, that producer, those actors, but as far as making Disney richer, that does not concern me.

Now should we go back to the days of local and community owned theaters, then that matters, that we should support, because those dollars are staying in the community.

So I’m happy for the movie not because it does this much business, or that much business, I’m happy for the movie, because such visions raise us all, and the success allows such visionaries to keep telling stories.

Grade: An unqualified A+.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Black Panther (#18 of 23)

If you like this movie I recommend the following:

The following movies are too good, to trust in the ‘cloud’ or ‘streaming’ to always have them available, or always have them available in unchanged, unedited, or unaltered versions. The below movies deserve to be owned in physical form, in the age of digital.

Chadwick Boseman in Message from the King (2016)

Chadwick Boseman’s excellent A MESSAGE FROM THE KING
LION IN WINTER
http://amzn.to/2CtUltq
HAMLET
http://amzn.to/2C6aEk6
AVENGERS
http://amzn.to/2C5Lx0W
CAPTAIN AMERICA : WINTER SOLDIER
http://amzn.to/2C3M97v
CAPTAIN AMERICA : CIVIL WAR
http://amzn.to/2szGli8

Currently Reading : BATMAN Vol1-3 by Tom King

Tom King in a few years has made quite a name for himself as a writer of Slims (comic books).

Always suspicious of hype, I went into his VISION quite skeptical. Long story made short, his VISION lives up to the hype. You can come into it not knowing anything, and be quickly swept away by the sheer power, and humanity and hurt; in a story about what it means to be human, in an inhuman world.

http://amzn.to/2sytRaa

 

It truly is fabulous and if you have never read it, it is a highest recommendation. There is a just dropped hardcover available at remaining Bookstores everywhere.

His MISTER MIRACLE released half a dozen Slims in 2017, the issues were definitely good, though the final verdict is out till he sticks the landing this year. Like the VISION and his earlier OMEGA MEN, it is about a damaged character, a broken character. A slightly off kilter world view.  So far all titles are relatively intriguing and well crafted.  In the case of the VISION masterfully crafted.

 

Then we come to the books up for review this installment, BATMAN VOL 1-3 from the DC Rebirth Line of books, by Tom King.

 

http://amzn.to/2EstqnA

http://amzn.to/2EtmNRZ

http://amzn.to/2swBT3r

 

The irrationality and poor decision making and erratic, even stupid, behavior; that worked well in the tale of a broken Android, a torn freedom fighter, and a suicidal God, does not work well in the BATMAN books.

The very conceit for the whole three volumes, is that Batman (the world’s greatest detective and inventor), is distraught about an emotionally damaged ward, and decides in a world of super scientists, magicians, and Gods, the only way to help his ward, is by stealing a mediocre villain, with the power to make people feel happy, so he can smile at Batman’s traumatized ward and make her feel happy. If that is not a brain-dead enough premise, it becomes even more moronic, when he decides to accomplish this by putting together a suicide squad and risking war and death, and doing this knowing it will wake a retired and sleeping dragon.

It is just the type of moronic plotting one tends to associate with brain-damaged villains seeking world conquest, not the resourceful Batman. And adding stupidity on stupidity, KIng redefines what drives Batman, to be not a sense of justice, or outrage, but a desire toward… (wait for it) Suicide.

And that definition doesn’t stick. Not with any interpretation of the character that makes sense. The desire to die doesn’t push you to be a beyond Olympic level athlete, it doesn’t push you to endure, it doesn’t push you to overcome.

Ultimately this addled definition is Tom King’s definition of the character, unfortunately, it seems to be the same broken, frayed creature that he tries to shape all the characters he writes into. And what worked with THE VISION, and THE OMEGA MEN, and seems to be working with MISTER MIRACLE, does inherently not work, does not graft, does not fit… onto the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Plus I can really do without the Yellow costumed Sidekick. I can do without the sidekick dynamic period. Either make him his own character (his own man) and get him out of the insipid yellow costume, or don’t have the character in the book.

Tom King is instead of tailoring the story to the character, seemingly making every character fit into the same story mold. All Tom King’s character are horrible tacticians, who make horrendous plans. That is not any type of Batman I want to read about. I picked up the three Tom King Batman volumes from the library to give a try, and I am so glad I didn’t buy them. It is surprisingly uninteresting, tedious, and disappointing reading.

Final Grade: AVOID

 

 

 

 

OF FRANKENSTEINS and HYDES : The cautionary fiction of Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevens!

 

DR.JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE

Chapter 1

Story of the Door

Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was
never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in
discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and
yet somehow lovable.  At friendly meetings, and when the wine was
to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye;
something indeed which never found its way into his talk, but
which spoke not only in these silent symbols of the after-dinner
face, but more often and loudly in the acts of his life.

The Robert Louis Stevenson Novel/Novellette from 1886 DR. JEKYLL AND MR.HYDE along with Mary Shelley’S FRANKENSTEIN: THE MODERN PROMETHEUS (almost 70 years earlier in 1818) were both pivotal cautionary tales  that foresaw in the new Marvels of Science, the new quickly expanding horizons of Electricity and Chemistry, changes of a a seismic and (if not morally guided) dangerous potential.

Dangerous not just in bodily harm, or even death, but dangerous to the very quality of what it means to be human, to the very nature of humanity.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley tantalized with this fantastic concept of man playing at God and creating life, but that life created by a flawed and fickle and neglectful and abusive God becomes a rebuke onto its creator, and possibly a supplanter of all mankind.

Stevenson tantalized with this fantastic concept, that behind our masks of civility, and mores and morality, there is even in the best of us, some darker divide, and he posited the ability of science freeing the one from the other. And long before that idea would become common place, StevenSON was one of the first, to speak of the possible calamity, of cures to our perceived ills, that give birth to much greater ills.

He foresaw in Hyde the rise of the Sociopath society. Of a whole nation of Hydes, glutted on self interest, trampling children in their wake.

and shelley foresaw even more.

Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN turns 200 next year, and I always find her story, the story of frankenstein’s genesis amazing.

MARY WAS on a getaway with her soon to be husband, their child, and their friends, AND conceived what would become frankenstein pretty much on a whim, when they were all prompted by lord byron on a stormy, spooky night to see which of them could write the best ghost story. MARY SHELLEY’S STORY , even amongst that august assembly of creators, was considered the most brilliant.

she was only 18 years old. A PROTO FEMINIST and intellectual and renaissance woman.

and had lived in those 18 years more than most live today in an entire life time. in a world devoid of tv or facebook, people themselves, their ability to create, to learn, to excel… people had to be the marvels in their own lives.

These century old novels have stood the test of time because.. beyond being well written, by extraordinary people, they are prophetic and cautionary screeds against the overreaching hubris of man, specifically scientists. cautionary tales, the lesson of which can be summed up thus… because we can do a thing, does not mean we should do that thing.

A great lesson, that Scientists in an age of cloning and gene tampering and manufactured diseases and machines killing men… seem woefully slow at learning. And this abject inability of those makers of fact to learn the lessons of fiction,will keep Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN and Stevens’ DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE always horribly relevant, and scarily prescient… as new scientific threats to life and limb arise.

 

So with that said, these too works are two of the most adapted in the English language. And I have seen just about all the English language adaptations of note.

In part 2 of this post I will bring you the most recommended adaptations in various formats. From Audio to video to Books!

That should be up Friday Night. Come back for that!

And for right now support this blog and support yourself by buying one of the best book Adaptations of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN ever put to print…the Dark Horse Bernie Wrightson Illustrated, impeccably designed hardcover version.

Get your copy here:

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Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein

Netflix/Marvel Studios 2017 IRON FIST Episode #1 Review!






Iron Fist Movie Poster

The last of the long awaited DEFENDERS heroes, IRON FiST breaks on the Netflix shores this Weekend, and my opinion? Well After Loving the first season of DAREDEVIL with some minor hiccups in the later episodes, Really enjoying JESSICA JONES, being Lukewarm on the 2nd season of DAREDEVIL, and LOVING Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE: POWERMAN, I find the first episode of IRON FIST… underwhelming.

 

The trailers were the first hiccup as I found them tedious rather than exciting, and tedium is not what you expect from what should be a Martial Arts rich show. The action looked unimpressive, and the casting, especially of the protagonist gave me cause for concern. He looked unimpressive rather than what he should be… a living weapon.

But trailers can steer you wrong, and hoping to be proven wrong I watch the first episode of IRON FIST. What hits you is the opening sequence, one thing all the Marvel/Netflix collaborations have gotten right is an absolutely great opening/credit sequence. The IRON FIST opening sequence by comparison looks like an unfinished product, a bad joke. An unfocused concept that they simply ran out of time and ended up just throwing something together.

 

 

Getting beyond the disappointment of the Credit Sequence, I like the opening shot of the barefoot hero in New York, a shout out to the Master of Kung Fu Comic’s of the 70s.

 

Quirky but in reality do you know how impossibly disgusting it would be to walk around the streets of New York or any major city in your bare feet?! There are things I fear to step on, even with shoes on. But again it’s a harmless if ludicrous call back to the comics of yesteryear.

 

What immediately impresses me is how much better Finn Jones is as Danny Rand, than the trailers hinted at. He has a likable and commanding presence, that is at the heart of the character, and he is choreographed to move with an effortless balletic grace that speaks volumes of his character and journey.

 

Iron Fist Movie Poster

 

Indeed, Jones as Danny Rand is pretty much, contrary to my thoughts on the trailer, rather than being the weakest thing about the show, in this episode he is the strongest thing. He is very affable, which above all is the saving grace of his character, and in many ways distances him from the other more brooding members of the Defenders.

With the exception of Luke Cage, who beneath his bullet proof skin has, like Danny Rand, the heart of an optimist and a poet. Unlike the bone breaking Daredevil or the oft alcoholic and fatalist Jessica Jones, Power Man and Iron Fist don’t want to hurt their fellow man, they want to help them, make them better; Even, if possible, their villains. It’s why those two work so well as a duo in the comics. Particularly the wonderful David Walker and Sanford Green POWERMAN AND IRONFIST comics that started in 2016.

 

Finn Jones gets the character of Danny Rand, The Iron Fist. Underneath the affable nature of Jones portrayal, there is something you see in his first closeup (when he is trying to get in to be seen) a core of steel, something unyielding that completely sells him in a way the trailer did not.

So the Danny Rand portion of the first episode works well, it is a lot of setup, and I don’t mind setup, if it is done well, and written well, and brought across well, I thought the first two epiosdes of LUKE CAGE, which some considered talky, I felt were two of the finest written hours of television of 2016.

ASIDE ON  LUKE CAGE SERIES AND COLOR CODED TELEVISION

(I’m about to get deep into media bias, particularly as it relates to ethnicity, so feel free to skip the following aside, the ending of it is marked, and continue on with the Iron Fist review)

 

Coker’s LUKE CAGE said wonderful truths that you usually don’t get with ethnic characters, because mostly ethnic characters on television are nothing more than Black faces spouting and reaffirming White messages . Messages which whether BUFFY or SUPERGIRL Season 2 or DOCTOR WHO or NEXT GENERATION all tend to be some variation on the wish fulfillment of its writers or worse the unconscious coded messages that they unknowing have accepted as truths, namely White female initially falls for Ethnic Character than comes to her senses and dumps him for a White character.
If that plotline plays out in one show, that’s fine, that’s life, stuff happens. However, if that plot-line plays out in every single show where a white female is romantically tied to a man of color, then that is no longer sharp, inventive writing, or originality, it is programming, played over and over again until we stop seeing it, but keep believing it.
In Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE you got writing that was shorn of that very racist programming that makes up 90% of the shows we see on TV, and the output of even our best writers. By no measure do I think Joss Whedon is racist, however he reuses the above pattern of racial politics when it comes to the romantic lives of the men of color he scripts from FIREFLY to BUFFY to AGENTS OF SHIELD to AGENT CARTER. At some point any romantic light he casts the men of color he scripts, any momentum to a healthy heterosexual relationship, particularly with a female of another ethnicity has to be derailed. Their identification as a sexual alpha, derailed. Mac on AGENTS OF SHIELD becomes comedy relief, rather than what he should be on that show… the Mac.
And like I said you would be hard pressed to not see this very strange repetition of sexual marginalization and symbolic castration (fit to be comedy relief or the non-threatening buddy or father figure but not the romantic interest) occur over and over to men of color in just about every dramatic show you can name, particularly the action oriented ones. Whether BUFFY, AGENT CARTER, AGENTS OF SHIELD, NEXT GENERATION, ER, ROSEWOOD, SUPERGIRL, FIREFLY.  Such bias extends even to our news and ‘reality programming’, the fact that over 20 years later the media is still lynching OJ Simpson (A famous Black man accused of murdering a white woman) while in the intervening years there has been no shortage of murdered spouses. However this particular case accomplishes familiar goals of America, the tearing down of idols, the vilification of the other, and a platform to use an individual act, to try to send a message to a whole mass of people. It’s a lynching, writ large, 20th and 21st century style.
And by contrasts it has been envogue for the last 20 years to pair White Males successfully with women of color, pair being perhaps too equal a term, more like have the woman of color fling herself at the White Male, whether that’s FLASH, JAMES BOND, WALKING DEAD, TAKEN, EMERALD CITY, and again a couple of times it is just original storytelling, but for this pattern to be a constant over the last 20 years, then that is something else, that is programming.

 

So I’m always drawn to the shows that eschew these programming ploys, these repeated coded messages. So that is why I hold shows like LUKE CAGE in such high regard. A show where a man of color, a Black man, can be a hero and get the girl, full stop. It’s a rare concept in a mass media that is so racist it is not aware of how rare they have by design, made that concept.
Name me ten Dramatic shows (not comedies) on TV right now where a lead character of color, is in a successful healthy relationship with a female, particularly of another ethnic group. You’d be hard pressed to name 2. But you can name dozens upon dozens of shows that are cast and written the other way. Even though statistics tell us there are far more Black Male/White female relationships than White Male/Black Female relationships.
So why would the fiction of mass media be so contrary and completely out of sync with the realities of the populations watching those fictions? Because invariably the writers, who mostly are white males, propagate their limited definitions of diversity while also crafting their wish fulfillment, which usually breaks down to our White Hero is ‘so enlightened’ because he deigns to have a Black girlfriend, and the Black Girlfriend who has to throw herself at him.
Like I said, once or twice, it is original, however all the time, the same way, it is programming and it is insulting.

 

END OF ASIDE

Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE : POWER MAN brilliantly gave us something more than the programming we have been used to, showed us Netflix as a channel where more original and more truly DIVERSE stories could be told.

It left big foot prints for the next show, IRON FIST, to follow in.

And without expecting IRON FIST to be ground breaking, or anti- stereotype and ANTI programming, I did expect it to be good.

Unfortunately the first episode of IRON FIST suffers because its lack of action is not compensated for by rich and compelling characters, or evocative acting. Case in point… Ward and his father.

There is nothing more derailing to a narrative, than a weak antagonist, and unfortunately in Ward and his Father you have two very boring and uninteresting and cookie cutter antagonists. Ward came off as just a petulant child, a whiner, and whiners do not make for great TV.

The scene with Ward and his Dad discussing Danny Rand, rather than riveting is the definition of tedious. I had to look at the clock, to see how much time was left before I could watch something else.

That is never what you want to be doing when watching a show, looking at your clock.

So,  between the pacing issues, and the casting issues, and the uninteresting bad guys, I’m solidly unexcited to move on to the next episode. And that’s not an issue I have had with the previous shows.

I hope to work my way through the series and all the way to the end, and I hope I can report it gets great, but for the first episode all I can give it is a …

Grade: C-

 

Iron Fist Movie Poster