Comic Book Review – The Wicked + The Divine Book 3

The Wicked + The Divine Book Three (2018)
Reprints The Wicked + The Divine #23 – 33
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson

This penultimate volume in The Wicked + The Divine series is my favorite of the series. It jumps into a completely new realm with the death that capped off the last book. To shake things, the first issue in this collection is a mock-up of fake magazine articles about each member of the Pantheon, giving some much-needed depth and background to these characters. I always love when a creator plays with the format of their comic, like Grant Morrison’s Batman run and Jonathan Hickman’s current X-work. Things get back to the standard form with the next issue, but the status quo is shaken up.

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Movie Review – The Kindergarten Teacher

The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)
Written & Directed by Sara Colangelo

In the middle of The Kindergarten Teacher, the titular educator, Lisa is sitting in the office of her poetry teacher Simon. She’s going to night school to workshop her poems, and he’s interested in some pieces she’s brought in. When Simon learns she teaches the littlest of students, he remarks, “That’s so fragile. You give them something that they carry with them forever.” You see Lisa contemplating this statement and realizes he’s correct, weighing how much influence she truly has over these tiny people charged to her care. Lisa’s entire arc in this film is about her own fragility and regret, which is what drives her to take some shocking actions.

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Comic Book Review – Venom: Rex

Venom: Rex
Reprints Venom v4 #1-6
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Stegman

I’ve previously delved into the world of Venom via Rick Remender’s run on the series. I always admit upfront that I am not a fan of the character. Venom came about right as Marvel was being dominated by the future Image Comics founders, most artists, where grimy & complicated design overshadowed proper character development. Venom is essentially “evil Spider-Man” and has become an anti-hero with an apparently large fanbase, comparable to The Punisher or Deadpool (two more characters I don’t really like). I had heard extremely positive buzz about Donny Cates’s current run and decided to put aside my personal biases and give this one a look.

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Movie Review – Antrum

Antrum (2018)
Written & Directed by David Amito & Michael Laicini

The subtitle of this found-footage horror movie is “The Deadliest Film Ever Made.” I don’t think it rises to that level, but it does deliver a compelling piece of meta-fiction. The structure of the film is bookended with faux-documentary segments giving the fictional back history of Antrum and giving a slight analysis of what we see. The majority is the infamous film itself, an attempt to recreate a grindhouse tone of horror, cheap and nasty, with hints of potentially real danger.

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Comic Book Review – Doomsday Clock

Doomsday Clock (2017 – 2019)
Reprints Doomsday Clock #1-12
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank

In 2016, when DC Rebirth hit the stands, it became clear that DC Comics was working towards some crossover between their universe of characters and the Watchmen reality. For the next year, the event was teased in smaller stories, but the details remained obscure. What we knew was that Doctor Manhattan has some role in the New 52 reboot of the DCU, a 2011 line-wide decision to try and revitalize the characters. It appeared to be an in-universe way to explain why such drastic changes happened and why certain characters vanished.

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Movie Review – Starfish

Starfish (2018)
Written & Directed by A.T. White

One of the best ways to bring people into a fantastical story, such as in the science fiction or horror genre, is to ground that narrative in human conflict and emotions. We can’t relate to being in the middle of a world-ending cosmic event or being chased by otherworldly monsters. However, the audience can connect to feelings like loss, guilt, the list goes on. Starfish, despite being a sometimes surreal movie, keeps its feet firmly planted in the realm of the human psyche. Now, if it succeeds in conveying a compelling narrative to the audience is another question entirely.

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Comic Book Review – Black Hammer Volume 3: Age of Doom Part 1

Black Hammer Volume 3: Age of Doom Part 1
Reprints Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1-6
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dean Ormston

Black Hammer has always been a series that felt like it had an end date. You could only keep the premise going for so long before the readers needed some resolution. Thankfully, Jeff Lemire understood that and brought us a 12 issue mini-series that provides a definitive ending to the story of these characters. The World of Black Hammer is still a wide-open place to explore. But for now, we focus on the story of Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Barbalien, Colonel Weird, Talkie Walkie, Madame Dragonfly, and Lucy Weber.

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Comic Book Review – Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Max Fiumara

This kicks off a marathon of reviews for Jeff Lemire’s World of Black Hammer comics over at Dark Horse. I started reading the series three years ago and like to revisit it every so often. This particular comic is profoundly inspired by James Robinson’s Starman comic that was published during the 1990s/early 2000s. The main character, actually named Dr. James Robinson, was a Golden Age hero of Spiral City. He constructed a device that allowed him to harness the power of distant stars and set off on a lucrative career fighting alongside his contemporaries.

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Movie Review – The Wild Pear Tree

The Wild Pear Tree (2018)
Written by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ebru Ceylan, & Akın Aksu
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

The word “epic” is often associated with films & stories that span the globe and put the character up against a cosmic conflict. However, I argue that writer-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s The Wild Pear Tree is an epic, but one about humanity and specifically finding meaning in one’s life. The film is just over three hours long, and it does feel lengthy while watching it. But what happens on screen is not some dour contemplative proceeding, but a genuinely funny while emotionally charged experience. The cinematography is glorious, the director knowing how to frame mundane details with profundity.

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Movie Review – Possum

Possum (2018)
Written & Directed by Matthew Holness

Horror is not a monster wanting to eat you or a masked killer wielding a knife. Horror is the inability to trust your own mind, the lines between reality and subconscious terror blending so that your waking hours are swallowed up by fear. What adds to that is the inability to express what is happening inside your mind so that these traumatic experiences become a mire, in which you drown alone, unheard & unseen. This is the horror writer-director Matthew Holness brings us in Possum. Holness is best known for his comedy series Garth Merenghi which offered a silly take on retro-horror. Here there is no humor to cut through the darkness, we must bear witness to it.

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