Comic Book Review – Deadly Class Volumes 7 & 8

Deadly Class Volume 7: Love Like Blood (2018)
Reprints Deadly Class #32-35

Deadly Class Volume 8: Never Go Back (2019)
Reprints Deadly Class #36-39, FCBD 2019 Deadly Class Killer Set

Written by Rick Remender
Art by Wes Craig & Jordan Boyd

In the same way, Book 2 started with all-out action and violence, so too does Volume 7. The new kids are in Mexico, having met up with Marcus and Maria. Saya’s brother has sent in his Yakuza. Viktor and the other kids from school have shown up to claim the trophy of killing Marcus. Things explode, and the book never seems to let up. Readers have been waiting for a rematch between Marcus and Viktor since Book 2’s first act, and Remender goes out of his way to subvert our expectations. I can honestly say I didn’t expect that moment to happen like it did, but it was very satisfying, and I think it will lead to more complex stories down the road.

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Comic Book Review – Venom: War of the Realms

Venom: War of the Realms (2019)
Reprints Venom #13-16, Venom: Cult of Carnage
Written by Cullen Bunn, Frank Tieri, & Donny Cates
Art by Iban Coello & Danilo Beyruth

Marvel is no stranger to the sprawling event comic. Currently, they usually have one big event with some smaller ones sprinkled in more concentrated ways over a year. War of the Realms was the culmination of Jason Aaron’s run on Thor and saw the hordes of Norse mythological monsters unleashed on Midgard, aka Earth. This doesn’t seem like too natural of a fit for Venom, but with Donny Cates’s expansion of the antihero to include ties to a Lovecraftian god in the form of Knull, it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch now.

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Movie Review – The Lodge

The Lodge (2019)
Written & Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala

There are lots of familiar elements at play in The Lodge. You have a stepmother figure whose purpose in the story is ambiguous, possibly malevolent. There’s a snowed-in cabin where the power goes out, cutting the lines of communication. Sleep is disturbed by noises in the night and troubling dreams of the landscape. There are even two kids who might be up to no good. All the pieces are there, but the execution just ultimately stumbles, and nothing ever comes together. The Lodge has so much promise but fails to deliver on that promise.

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Movie Review – Cats

Cats (2019)
Written by Lee Hall & Tom Hooper, from material by T.S. Eliot and Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber
Directed by Tom Hooper

I know what you are asking. “Why are you doing this to yourself?” When a film like Cats, which has been so memed and mocked, comes along, you have to watch it. I wanted to know if the roasting of Cats was warranted. Maybe the trailer wasn’t a great representation of the whole. Perhaps the critics are nitpicking it. Maybe this is a fantastic reimagining of the box office smash on Broadway. Maybe…oh, who I am kidding? This film is shockingly bad in almost every aspect that a movie could be. Let’s get into it.

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Movie Review – System Crasher

System Crasher (2019)
Written & Directed by Nora Fingschedit

This is a difficult movie to write about because it touches so close to the things I encounter in my daily life. I am a public school teacher in the United States, licensed for elementary education. I have taught 3rd grade for the last five years out of the nine I’ve been a teacher. Before that, I worked as an AmeriCorps reading tutor, substitute teacher, and student-teacher since 2006. No matter what public school you enter in this country, there is a very high chance you will encounter at least one student the breaks all the supports in place, a child that feels wholly broken. This is almost always a result of abuse that stems from the parent’s psychological condition, poverty conditions, or a mix of both. System Crasher is the story of this student.

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Movie Review – Vivarium

Vivarium (2019)
Written by Garret Shanely
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan

The concept behind Vivarium is deeply intriguing. A young couple (Imogen Poots & Jesse Eisenberg), just beginning their lives together, steps into a realty office just for a laugh. They are met by a strange realtor who is extremely aggressive in an alien polite way to get them to leave the office and visit Yonder, a picture-perfect suburb. His pitch for the house is peppered with questions about the couple’s current status and as time passes he loses the warmth once presented. Then the realtor is gone and the couple finds themselves unable to find the exit to return to their lives. They become trapped in Yonder. One morning a box appears outside the house. Inside is a baby and a message “Raise the child and be released”.

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Movie Review – Queen & Slim

Queen & Slim (2019)
Written by Lena Waithe
Directed by Melina Matsoukas

Queen & Slim is presented as a story of legendary figures who don’t realize that they will become icons. They are unassuming people, but the filmmaking informs us through its cinematography and a musical score that this is important. The first moments of the movie undercut these elements, two people sitting across from each other in the middle of an awkward Tinder date. It’s clear the situation is not going well, and they likely won’t see each other again after this. We learn a lot about Slim (he prays before he eats, he chose a little corner diner for their date) and Queen (she’s a lawyer whose client was just executed, she rolls her eyes at Slim’s prayer). The aftermath of the date becomes the inception of the entire film, a traffic stop by a police officer with ill intent on his mind.

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Comic Book Review – Gideon Falls Volumes 2 & 3

Gideon Falls Volume 2: Original Sins
Gideon Falls Volume 3: Stations of the Cross
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Andrea Sorrentino

Gideon Falls continues to deepen its mysteries and scratch that itch for fans of shows like Twin Peaks and Lost. This is a very different animal, but it still makes nods to the slow reveal of dark, otherworldly evil and ever-growing complex back history. In Original Sins, the story’s pace is faster, with the table being set in volume one. Stations of the Cross is mindblowing and drops some of the most significant character and plot bombshells while leaving room for the story to grow and expand.

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Movie Review – Jumanji: The Next Level

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
Written by Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg
Directed by Jake Kasdan

At this point, Jumanji, as a media franchise, has little to nothing to do with Chris Van Allsburg’s 1981 children’s picture book. Jumanji was already distancing itself from its origins with the 1995 adaptation starring Robin Williams. The plot was given more complexity beyond just two children playing an enchanted and troublesome board game. A lot of people missed the semi-sequel Zathura: A Space Adventure that reframed the experience as a science-fiction style story. There was also the Jumanji animated series that ran on UPN for three years and drifted even further from the book.

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Comic Book Review – Venom Volume 2: The Abyss

Venom Volume 2: The Abyss
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Stegman & Iban Coello

Donny Cates’s run on Venom has been all about the strange symbiosis between Eddie Brock and his companion. It’s a fascinating study of body horror, precisely the moments where Eddie loses time and learns the symbiote was moving him around and speaking for him. The title leans into its horror elements more than it’s superhero roots. There’s also a desire to build out the Venom mythos beyond just being a part of the Spider-Man niche of the Marvel Universe.

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