Comic Book Review – Absolute Carnage

Absolute Carnage (2020)
Reprints Free Comic Book Day 2019: Spider-Man/Venom #1, Absolute Carnage #1-5
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Stegman

During the 1990s, there was a character I disliked even more than Venom, Carnage. If you aren’t familiar with Carnage, he is Cletus Kasaday, a serial killer whom Eddie Brock shared a prison cell with. When the symbiote returned to bond with Eddie and break him out of prison, it also gave birth to another symbiote. This organism bonded with Kasaday to create Carnage. I always felt like the character’s only selling point is that he was “edgy” in look and behavior. He was just teeth and claws who killed people, a villain that felt more at home in Image Comics than at Marvel. Apparently, he is very popular because Marvel has sold many titles based on Carnage being there, definitely not as much as Venom but still enough to make me think he must have some sort of fanbase.

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TV Review – Tales from the Loop Season One, Episode Six

Tales from the Loop (Amazon Prime)
Season One, Episode Six – “Parallel”
Written by Nathaniel Halperin
Directed by Charlie McDowell

Tales from the Loop continues its trend of taking a previously supporting character and making them the protagonist of their own episode. This time it is Gaddis, the security guard that works the gates of the Loop. We spend some time in the first act getting to know him better and quickly realize Gaddis lives his life in lonely sadness. He has friends, like Loretta and her husband, but he doesn’t have any intimate relationships. There is a brief flirtation with a new man in town, but Gaddis’ insecurities get in the way. Instead, he focuses his time on repairing an old tractor in a field near his home.

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Movie Review – Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth (2020)
Directed by Matt Wolf

In 1991 an ambitious project began in the wilderness of Arizona. This was Biosphere 2, a three-acre structure built to be an artificial, enclosed ecological system. Seven biomes were represented inside the Biosphere: a rainforest, saltwater habitat with a coral reef, mangrove wetlands, a savannah, a fog desert, and two spaces reserved for human habitation and scientific work. Eight people from various scientific backgrounds were locked inside Biosphere 2 to create a self-sustaining system, the likes of which could be replicated to enable human colonies on other planets that didn’t have the elements needed to sustain life. Over two years, this crew went through a series of challenges, both with the elements and interpersonally. By the end, there were many questions as to the scientific validity of the whole endeavor.

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TV Review – Tales from the Loop Season One, Episode Five

Tales from the Loop (Amazon Prime)
Season One, Episode Five – “Control”
Written by Nathaniel Halperin
Directed by Tim Mielants

Tales from the Loop continues its interconnected anthology structure with a chapter that touches on events from episode two, yet you don’t have to watch that one to understand what is going on. In fact, I think you could watch this series on shuffle and still have the same experience as the connections are so light. There is even a brief reference to episode three that you don’t need to fully comprehend to follow the story being told here. The theme for this episode is Grief and how people work through that process while feeling powerless to do anything.

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Media Moment (05/01/20)

NBCUniversal’s CEO Jeff Shell recently made comments about the success of Trolls: World Tour’s digital release due to coronavirus theater closures. The movie has apparently done well enough that the company is now looking at releasing more films to homes first during the quarantines but also continuing the strategy when theaters open back up. AMC and Regal didn’t take this news well and have said all movies released by NBCUniversal will not be carried in their theaters if this goes through. Shell has backtracked it a little with some confusing semantics, but I think home streaming options are going to become a must as this pandemic drags on into the summer and likely the fall.

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Book Update: March-April 2020

Fiction

Instructions For a Funeral: Stories by David Means

I really disliked this collection for one main reason, Means’s prose is meandering so much that you completely disconnect from the character he’s giving a voice to. There are some alright pieces with a good core idea, but then the execution is soporific, leading me to realize I’d “read” three pages and not remembered a stitch of what I’d seen on the page. I’m a reader who loves literary fiction and even postmodern writing that plays with structures and voice. But this is just plain boring, with characters who never become compelling and lacking the urgency good short fiction possesses.

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