Veep (HBO) Seasons 1 thru 7 Created by Armando Iannucci
If you follow this blog, you know one of my interests is examining how media is used to prop up the legitimacy of institutions in America. Since the early days of film, people have been rewriting history or portraying offices like the President with this sense of eternal nobility. This type of writing, present in the works of filmmakers like Aaron Sorkin, turns my stomach. It ultimately serves as propaganda to admonish activism that pushes for material change and instead pivot the American mindset into being satisfied with shallow sentiment and hollow platitudes. For example, the West Wing constantly presents those who populate the White House as flawed but virtuous, centrists who are always right and debate themselves into wins against conservatives and leftists. When The West Wing was originally airing, I remember someone I knew who liked the show admitting that it was ultimately “porn for liberals.” It provided a comforting fantasy with little to no connection to what happens in reality. Veep is the antithesis of this.
The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus Volume 3 (2022) Reprints Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1-3, Blackest Night: The Flash #1-3, Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps #1, The Flash: Rebirth #1-6, The Flash Secret Files and Origins 2010, The Flash v3 #1-12, Flashpoint #1-5 Written by Geoff Johns Art by Scott Kolins, Ethan Van Sciver, Francis Manapul, Andy Kubert
I’m not sure what has happened to Geoff Johns in the last few years. It’s been a disheartening turn of events between some weighty accusations lobbed at him by Justice League star Ray Fisher and some egregious delays on books like Shazam. Recently, artist Bryan Hitch shared that plans for a Justice Society revival book with Johns had been scrapped even after promotional art was shown off in 2021. Johns has become a writer whose work I prefer to wait to be collected than deal with the chronic delays. This definitive collection of his Flash work marks the point where things really went off the rails for the writer and DC Comics for about a decade. Looking at these stories, we can see how the previous consistently high-quality stories being told by Johns about the Flash lost some luster.
The Terrifics Part 1 Reviewing stories found in The Terrifics #1-14 Written by Jeff Lemire Art by Ivan Reis, Jose Luis, Joe Bennett, Evan ‘Doc” Shaner, Dale Eaglesham, Viktor Bogdanovic, Jonathan Glapion, Jordi Tarragona, Dexter Vines, and Scott Hanna
In 2017, DC Comics introduced the concept of the Dark Multiverse to its wide array of alternate realities. It was the creation of writer Scott Snyder who was coming to the end of a large story cycle he’d been developing since New 52 started in 2011. The Dark Multiverse is a collection of realities that mirror the standard Multiverse most readers knew about. In the aftermath of Dark Knights: Metal, the crossover event that introduced all of this, a group of titles was spun-off under the banner of The New Age of DC Heroes, aka the Dark Matter line. By 2020, all eight books were canceled, and this subset of the DC Universe has essentially been forgotten already.
And so we come to the finale. This chunk of Saturday Night Live where they lost me. I’d watched at varying levels since I was a teenager, but by season 41, I just didn’t find it remarkably funny anymore. It certainly got worse when Trump became president, and the show pivoted into the most shallow critique of him, not on policy ever but instead on what a meanie he was or mocking his hair. Those sort of pointless jokes signals a lack of perspective, in my opinion, a writing staff that has been declawed or never had any, to begin with. All the while, the show made sure to hold up people like Jeff Bezos as heroic and pen jokes for Update criticizing citizen-led protests against Amazon warehouses. SNL affirmed its place as a comedy for the bourgeoisie.
Sense8 Season 1 and 2 (2015-2018) Written by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, J. Michael Straczynski, David Mitchell, and Aleksandar Hemon Directed by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, James McTeigue, and Dan Glass
Sense8 was one of those shows I missed out on when Netflix when it premiered in 2015. It had two seasons and got canceled due to its expensive budget since they filmed on location. I toyed with the idea of watching it for the longest time. Due to my lack of commitment to some things, I sometimes hesitate to go into things people love or find great comfort in. Word of mouth can be so grand that when you finally get you can feel like a jerk for perhaps not enjoying it as much as others do.
Saturday Night Live was never a controversial show. If anyone took offense to the comedy being presented, then they have to be one of the most sheltered people on the planet. You can feel the punches being pulled at every turn when it comes to politics. Or when they want to take jabs, it’s entirely superficial rather than writing clever political comedy (see everything Armando Iannucci has done). The 2010s were, for me, the sign that SNL was becoming a piece of processed cheese, it looked okay, but you weren’t craving it. The people involved were always much funnier outside the show than in it. The perfect example is 2011’s Bridesmaids, which showed Kristin Wiig being much more entertaining than I ever found her on SNL.
Superman by Grant Morrison Omnibus (2021) Reprints Action Comics v2 #0-18, Annual #1 Written by Grant Morrison (with Sholly Fisch) Art by Rags Morales, Andy Kubert, Brent Anderson, Gene Ha, Brad Walker, Cully Hamner, Ben Oliver, Cafu, Ryan Sook, Bob McLeod, Travel Foreman, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and more
It’s interesting to read these Grant Morrison stories alongside John Byrne’s Superman work. Byrne was tasked with rebooting Superman in the wake of the Crisis in 1986, reworking concepts and cutting away things considered to be too old-fashioned. Morrison was partially asked to do the same thing in 2011 when the New 52 initiative was rolled out. I don’t think Morrison was allowed as much leeway as Byrne because D.C. had become much more integrated alongside their parent company Warner Media. Like Byrne, Morrison is taken well-known concepts around Superman and trying to make them relevant for their time. However, they are a professed lover of the Silver Age, so Morrison isn’t entirely willing to make everything a modern parallel to our world. In true Morrison fashion, we get a tale of metaphors made reality, of meditations on fictional universes, and ultimately a vision of Superman that would be quickly discarded as editorial interference kept the New 52 from ever amounting to much.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) Written by Isao Takahata & Riko Sakaguchi Directed Isao Takahata
When people talk about Studio Ghibli, you will most often hear them talk about it in the context of Hayao Miyazaki’s films. That’s completely reasonable as the studio’s most prominent work started with Miyazaki before becoming a collaborative effort. However, he was only the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, with his partner being Isao Takahata. Takahata was the director behind films like Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko, and My Neighbors the Yamadas. Takahata’s take on animation was quite different than Miyazaki, but both men worked to push the medium in ways it never had been, both artistically and thematically.
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.
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.