Hawkman: The Awakening (2019) Reprints Hawkman v5 #1-6 Hawkman: Deathbringer (2019) Reprints Hawkman v5 #7-12 Written by Robert Venditti Art by Bryan Hitch
Hawkman: The Darkness Within (2020) Reprints Hawkman v5 #13-19 Written by Robert Venditti Art by Pat Olliffe, Tom Palmer, and Will Conrad
Hawkman: Hawks Eternal (2021) Reprints Hawkman #20-29 Written by Robert Venditti Art by Fernando Pasarin
How do you solve a problem like Hawkman? As I laid out in my Superhero Spotlight on the character, when you take on Hawkman, you are taking on a writing chore. There have been so many conflicting attempts to “simplify” the hero that led to him being a toxic continuity bomb. DC Comics are obsessed with continuity, so this results in a conundrum. I can’t say I am a fan of Robert Venditti. I read his X-O Manowar revival for Valiant, which was fine. I definitely didn’t enjoy his Green Lantern run, but he immediately followed Geoff Johns, who raised the bar so high it was nigh impossible to top. As this Hawkman series went on, I began to hear some surprisingly positive buzz, and when it was announced, it was coming to an end; I realized it was the perfect time to read through it.
Scandalous: The Untold Story of The National Enquirer (2019) Directed by Mark Landsman
While this documentary is clearly inspired by The National Enquirer’s connections to Donald Trump, that only comes into play in the third act. Most of the film is about telling the chronological story of the tabloid’s rise to prominence and the moment in American culture that sparked its rocket-like trajectory. At the center of the paper’s inception was Generoso Pope, Jr. His father was a New York powerbroker who used his papers to influence politics in the state. His son took over upon his father’s death but went in wildly different directions. He bought The Enquirer and turned it into a reasonably salacious rag that featured gory pictures of the aftermath of car accidents and murders. It was a lot like some of the chan boards are on the internet now, a place for people to get sick thrills.
It has been an interesting week since my last wondering—ups and downs with quite a bit of snow for this area on the ground in the meantime. Yesterday we had a big melt, so it’s almost as if it never happened at all. Feeling my writing brain working again but still taking it slowly, I feel the ideas percolating, which is the first step. I’m taking David Lynch’s advice to write everything down. He does a convincing job conveying what it feels like to have had an idea and then lose it. Before we get into all that, here’s the playlist for the week:
Wandavision Episode 7 (Disney+) Written by Cameron Squires Directed by Matt Shakman
Episode seven of Wandavision reveals many things, but I would argue it is not one of the best-written episodes in the bunch we’ve seen. It’s honestly a little clunky and awkward at moments and clearly was flagged as one to push the plot forward without doing much character development. These sorts of episodes are likely to be the standard from now on in the MCU shows because I doubt they will spend much time letting characters sit around and talk. While I love the reveals we got, it also felt like The Vision’s delay was as much a part of the in-universe mechanisms around Wanda as it was the writers padding out the show to hit nine episodes.
This film is utterly uninterested in hand-holding you through the experience and explaining every little detail through exposition. In that way, it is a perfect example of what cinema does best, telling stories through images. But, it certainly helps to understand the behind-the-scenes story of the production. Knowing those details enhances the experience so that you can understand why it was made this way. I still think there are plenty of mysteries hidden here, but a little history can go a long way when a film is as cryptic as this one is.
My area is covered in sleet and slick roads this morning, with freezing rain and snow rolling in this afternoon. I’ve been staying inside, not much different from my regular routine since COVID-19 began. My wife and I have been watching a lot and reading a lot. Before we get to my thoughts, here’s the Spotify playlist for the week.
Willy’s Wonderland (2021) Written by G.O. Parsons Directed by Kevin Lewis
There was literally no reason for Willy’s Wonderland to be good, and it certainly lived up to that expectation. Somehow, they got Nicolas Cage into this picture, playing himself at ultimate meme form in a premise that is clearly ripping off the popular video game series Five Night’s at Freddy’s. The picture clearly has low effort put into its production aside from maybe the monstrous constructs Cage faces off with. But it is devoid of even charming style or tone that its apparent tryhard effort to be a “so bad it’s good” movie falls short.
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar (2021) Written by Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo Directed by Josh Greenbaum
From the first scene of Barb and Star, you can tell this isn’t going to be a gross-out comedy. Instead, it hints at the best sort of absurd comedies like The Jerk or Wayne’s World. It isn’t a masterpiece, but it doesn’t have to be, it made me laugh, and that’s what I wanted. Not every joke hits the same, but the ones that work are hilarious. It had been a long while since I’d watched a mainstream comedy that I actually found funny. I was right that the team behind Bridesmaids would deliver.
Wandavision Episode 6 (Disney+) Written by Chuck Hayward and Peter Cameron Directed by Matt Shakman
The sitcom world of Wanda Maximoff reaches the early 2000s, so we get a pretty brilliant Malcolm in the Middle homage. Of all the sitcom nods in the series so far, this one felt the most confident, in my opinion. Having the twins narrate directly to the camera was a beautiful touch, and Pietro felt like a variation on Malcolm’s older brother/Francis character. The show does a pretty excellent job balancing the in-sitcom story and SWORD plot happening outside the illusion. Once again, there are hints and teases towards the finale, which is three episodes away now.
Wandavision Episode 5 (Disney+) Written by Peter Cameron and Mackenzie Dohr Directed by Matt Shakman
Wandavision did something I didn’t see coming. But we will get to that in a moment. We’re now past the mini-series’ halfway point, and I think the overall premise is straightforward. As I’ve said for a while now, Wanda is the main problem here, possibly with some outside manipulation. We see some security footage of Vision’s body being reclaimed by her, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was spurred on by promises from some supernatural being we haven’t met yet. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise of the episode.