Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story (2020)
Written by Ron Cicero
Directed by Ron Cicero & Kimo Easterwood
I was ten years old when Ren & Stimpy debuted, but I was never anything close to a fan. This was simply because I lived in a rural area that didn’t even have cable lines running to the houses on my street. We were a single income household with four kids, so my parents didn’t really see a value in paying for satellite service either. So for me, this whole phenomenon passed me buy despite my being the right age to become enamored with the series.
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Wonder Woman by Mike Deodato (2016)
Reprints Wonder Woman #85, 90-100, 0
Written by William Messner-Loebs
Art by Mike Deodato
Not many collections I’ve reviewed spotlight the artist, but in my journey through Wonder Woman’s post-Crisis career, we have reached the era where things get weird. These comics were published in the mid-1990s when Image Comics had a profound effect on the industry. Image was founded by a collective of artists who left the big two companies and created imprints under this single umbrella. They were people like Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, and Rob Liefeld, who had very distinct and oft-criticized art styles. Deodato is very much a student of these artists, and it shows in his work, which we will get into later.
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Wonder Woman: The Last True Hero Book One (2020)
Reprints Wonder Woman Special #1, Wonder Woman #63, 64, 66-75, and Wonder Woman Annual #3
Written by William Messner-Loebs
Art by Jill Thompson, Paris Cullens, Lee Moder, and Brian Bolland
In the wake of War of the Gods and the conclusion of George Perez’s Wonder Woman run, DC had a fresh start. Around the same time, Giffen & DeMatteis were wrapping up their tenure on Justice League, so several books were getting a fresh coat of paint. William Messner-Loebs was brought on to write the Amazon. His most prominent work to this point had been a lukewarmly received run on The Flash, where he emphasized the working class elements of the speedster. He brought this same element to Wonder Woman while still trying to bring in fantastic details.
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Earlier, I looked at Max Lord, one of the villains in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984. Today, I’ll breakdown the second villain, The Cheetah. Unlike Lord, The Cheetah has always exclusively been a Wonder Woman enemy, but there have been multiple people that worked under that name. In 1985, DC Comics launched Crisis on Infinite Earths, a company-wide event that rebooted the entire timeline and compressed many parallel Earths into one. Before this, there had been two Cheetahs, neither of whom had superpowers and were mainly knock-offs of Batman’s villain Catwoman. With Crisis, these versions were erased to make way for writer-artist George Perez’s overhaul of Wonder Woman and her continuity. This led to a new Cheetah, one who derived her powers from dark mythic gods.
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Last Night (1998)
Written & Directed by Don McKellar
What would you do if you knew it was the final day of the Earth’s existence? Much like the Last Man on Earth trope, this is another one that comes up often when you explore Apocalyptic fiction. Here we have Canadian filmmaker Don McKellar’s distinct take on the end of the world, which balances both the darker aspects of humanity that would crop up and the way other people would cling to the norms and routines of decorum and civilization even as the end approached. It’s very different from the other films in this series, which is precisely why I wanted to watch it.
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The upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 is set to feature two villains, and I am writing up a spotlight on each. First up is a character who has been both a hero and a villain, and it wasn’t until 2006 that they were even associated with Wonder Woman so directly.
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The Apostle (1997)
Written & Directed by Robert Duvall
I first saw The Apostle approximately twenty-two years ago. I checked it out from the local public library, where I was working at the time and absolutely loved from the first viewing. I mentioned earlier in this series how author Flannery O’Connor referred to the South as a “Christ-haunted landscape.” Robert Duvall furthers this by exploring a character who lives in seeming constant open dialogue with God. He implores the deity for guidance as often as he rages at him for life events the man cannot understand.
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Young Justice Book Two (2018)
Reprints Young Justice #8-17, Young Justice 80-Page Giant #1, Young Justice in No Man’s Land #1, Supergirl #36-37, and Young Justice Secret Files #1
Written by Peter David, Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Beau Smith, Jay Faerber, Lary Stucker, and Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Todd Nauck, Leonard Kirk, Angel Unzueta, Coy Turnbull, Andy Kuhn, Justiniano, Sergio Cariello, Tommy Lee Edwards, Ryan Sook, Keron Grant, and Dietrich Smith
Woo boy! Young Justice has not turned out to be what I expected it would be. And this is not a good thing. I have always bristled at most superhero books with comedy, save the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League run. It takes a deft touch to balance humor and superheroics so that the stakes of the conflict don’t devolve into silliness. This is why Deadpool and Harley Quinn have just never appealed to me despite multiple attempts to read runs by different creative teams. Peter David chose to lean into the humor of a teen superhero book for better or worse.
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Sling Blade (1996)
Written & Directed by Billy Bob Thornton
One of the notions observed about the concept of Family at the end of the 20th century & especially in the 21st is that it is no longer the people whom you are born into but the people you choose to populate your life with. Sling Blade is a movie about that kind of a family, focusing on one particular member and how they navigate their role in the group. This film is the evolution of a one-man show into a short film and finally the feature film we review here. This story meant a lot of Billy Bob Thornton so much that he would devote so large a portion of his life to playing a singular character. He becomes lost in this character, and my wife didn’t realize it was Thornton until the end credits rolled.
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Rambling Rose (1991)
Written Calder Willingham
Directed by Martha Coolidge
The role of women in Southern culture is a complex one, and as a white man, I will not be able to adequately convey what it is like from my perspective. Rambling Rose, though, is a film that gets somethings right but so much else wrong, like problematically wrong. I sat stunned within the first few moments of this movie, and throughout the rest of it at how tone-deaf and overly melodramatic so much of the story becomes. The female character at the center of the picture really has no voice, and instead, the narrative is shaped by an adolescent boy that lusts after Rose. There’s an attempt to have him learn a lesson about women, but it’s muddied with troublesome archaic thinking.
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