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Andy’s Current Favorites: February 2019

Recently, I’ve been coming under some fire for my articles being way too long for what should be the norm here at GotS. I’m not sure what the norm is given I’m one of the main deciders on what the content on the site should be, but again, some have said I should truncate some of my articles going forward given most people don’t want to read 3000 words with their morning coffee.

So with that said, I’m going to sincerely attempt to limit what I say in this month’s current favorite article. If you feel that ends up making for a more pleasant reading experience, please let me know in the comments. Quality feedback is always appreciated, and although I feel like it’s pissing into the wind, it never hurts to get some constructive criticism from those I’m trying to entertain.

However, I couldn’t just start this blog with something boring, so here’s a great little awkward comic book moment from an issue of GI Joe I found in a buck bin.

image

Serpentor revealing his unrequited need for a bromance with Cobra Commander.

Shirtless and in tight jeans I might add…

Kiss him hard through that mask of his and make this truly scene from someone’s terrible slash fiction wet dream.


Current Book I’m Reading:

The Justice League Archives Volume 1

As mentioned in last month’s Current Favorites column, I’m sincerely trying to give more DC Comics a chance in 2019 as part of my New Year’s Resolution. And one thing I’ve rediscovered since watching the DC Streaming Service is that I really do love the Bruce Timm Justice League cartoon show. This includes the even more critically incredible Justice League Unlimited which had many of its episodes written by one of the GotS’ favorite comic book authors, JM Dematteis.

Just so many great episodes, that I’m not going to spend time discussing them here. That’s for its own article at some point in the future.However, so reignited was my passion for the Justice League that I finally decided to go back reread some of the original Justice League comics from the Silver Age.

I will say that this has been somewhat of a daunting task as many times I’ve started to read these issues over the years, and for one reason or another, I never finished. It’s uncanny. Here I am, an absolute die hard fan of the first 10 issues of the Avengers. That Marvel Masterwork containing those issues is one of my prized comic book possessions and one I read again almost religiously every single year. You would think that those first 10 or so issues of the Justice League would be in the same boat. Some of the stories contained in that collection feature the first appearances of so many classic JLA villains, like Starro, Despero, Kanjar Ro, and even a super villain team up of Captain Cold, Professor Menace, and Clock King.

But once again, I found myself struggling with finishing this book, which is why it’s being included in this article instead of it’s own read pile entry.

It’s just so god damn boring!

And repetitive…that’s also a key point. Nearly every single issue is the same!

A villain from outer space appears to menace Earth, for some reason or another the JLA has to break up into 2 or 3 man mini teams to handle different parts of the threat, they then converge again in the final chapter with some deus ex machina way of defeating the main bad guy, their teenage mascot snaps his fingers and says something “cool”, they all chuckle, and it’s on to the exact same story the next month. Rinse and Repeat. Rinse and Repeat.

And it’s not as if any of the members of the JLA have different personalities either. They all are pretty much so generic that it really doesn’t matter who teams up with who, and none of them really interact with each other at a personal level. Even Wonder Woman who you’d think would be written somewhat differently given she’s obviously of another gender and it’s the 50s basically has the exact same dialogue as everyone else.

It’s so mundane and predictable that it’s like nails on a chalkboard. It reminds me so much of the Superfriends cartoon show, except the fact that for all of the Superfriends simplistic nature, there’s also some sort of inescapable charm about that show. A charm that’s definitely not in these issues.

I could go on, but needless to say, I think I’ll be sticking to the Justice League cartoon for the immediate future. These Silver Age JLA stories are for the birds!


Current Favorite Album While Reading Comics:

Phosphorescent, Muchacho

I first heard of singer-songwriter Matthew Houck and his more famous stage name Phosphorescent several years ago, when I downloaded a free tune of his called Mermaid Parade off Amazon. It sounded like the typical stoner groove, so I would listen to it here and there as chill music while typing blogs or playing Galaga.

I honestly didn’t think of him much until this album came out in 2013, and I heard the first single off of it called “Song for Zula”.  I was immediately captivated by the tune. Sure, the song is depressing as hell with terrible heartbreak and lost love as its overarching theme, but it handles the topic with such originality and ferocity that it’s hard to ignore. It’s got a raw almost killer instinct about the pain of losing love, and instead of lying down and grieving in a hole, it’s all about fighting tooth and claw to escape from it.

Interesting fact, although it originally started as a bedtime song for me, it eventually became one of the “Go To” lullabies for my daughter, Johanna. Not because of the subject matter of the song, mind you, but because of the slow driving beat and instrumentation seems to quiet her busy mind, almost like a heartbeat in someways. For that reason alone and the peace and quiet the song has given me over the years, I highly recommend giving the tune a listen.

The rest of the album is also pretty good, with its mostly alt country/Americana style songs. In particular, I’m a really a big fan of the song “Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master)” as another one I’ve been sitting and listening to comics too lately. Here is it in case you would like to take a listen.

 

 

 


Current Favorite Video Game:

Odallus: The Dark Call

I won’t lie. I often play certain games in cycles, given my limited video game time due to all the comics I have to read for the show and my real life responsibilities as a husband and father. So, I’ll sometimes start games, get to a certain point and then quit them for a time, not because they are bad, but because some other game comes along and competes for that small amount of time. However, if the game is good, I’ll always find my way back to it eventually, especially if it’s one I am determined to beat.

Such is the case with this 2015 retro action-adventure platform game called Odallus, which is highly reminiscent to early NES adventure cartridges, especially those like Castlevania 3, Faxanadu, Zelda II, and the original Metroid. You know, pretty much any game in which you have to replay boards in order to find lost items which then allow you to access other parts of the level. The term they use for it is a “Metriodvania” game now a days. In any case, it was in particular the game’s similarity to Castlevania 3 and how much I love those adventures of Trevor Belmont and his gang that first drew me into picking it up.

Although it’s pretty short on story with a confusing plot about an army of demons burning down the village of our hero, Haggis, before taking his son to sacrifice him to some dark god, it’s not really the story I played the game for. At the end of the day, it’s just about some guy with a huge sword fighting monsters, that’s all the story you need. What I played the game for was the spot on retro game play, intriguing level design filled with tons of secret paths and unlockable areas, great boss battles, and some crushing old skool difficulty.

I definitely didn’t mind that the game was hard at times and required some pretty precise control to overcome some of the more precarious side scrolling traps and some of those previously mentioned ridiculously intense boss fights. So often modern day games give you easy ways out, so it was nice to come up against a game that fairly challenged you and had real consequences for losing.

Yep, overall, I can’t recommend picking up this game if you are a fan of retro gaming like myself. From the picture perfect sprites to the tense button mashing battles, it’s a true treat for anyone that would enjoy a blast from the video game past, and reliving those gloriously frustrating games from the 80s.


Current Favorite TV Show:

She-Ra & The Princesses of Power

Here’s a show I’ve been teasing a couple times on both the podcast and in our GotS Best of Awards. However, when I’ve been talking about it previously, it’s been more in regards to defending it against a sea of angry nerds out there that thought the show was a travesty before the first episode had even been released for the simple fact that She-Ra wasn’t drawn like she fell out a porno. Y’know all short busty dresses with jugs for days.

There was this notion that she was drawn too masculine for some people, which I never got. She was drawn to portray strength because she is the most powerful woman in the universe. And although strength is often a masculine trait, the artists found a decent balance in conveying that with a decent amount of femininity. And yes, I agree that she wasn’t drawn overly sexualized either mainly because…ahem…it’s a god damn kids show.

If you want those versions of She-Ra, a more adult, “Red Sonja”esque version with all the titillation and bloodshed, then read some of the Masters of the Universe books put out by DC a couple years back, like The Eternity War. In that, she’s lopping Horde troopers heads off left and right and showing enough skin to make the Pope blush. Again there’s plenty of iterations of this character to go around, so don’t decry this one just because it ain’t your bag.

Anyways, as I get back to a review of the show and some people’s issues with it, there was a bunch of hub bub about it providing LGBT representation. On this point, I gotta say the writers did an excellent job of again keeping the entire series within the context of a kids show, meaning there are neither overly homo or hetrosexual overtones to any of the characters. However, at the same time, many of the characters are written in a way that if wish to view the show through that particular lens, you may and for you the narrative plays out in different ways.

I think that’s pretty damn ingenious. It’s not so much as the notion of an Easter Egg as I don’t feel like it’s something that’s hidden, but it’s also something that’s not completely in your face either. At the end of the day, these are just teenage characters that are somewhat fun and androgynous in terms of their sexuality, and for a show aimed at kids, it’s a very inclusive way of being open with ideas without being unfairly biased in one way or the another. Like all good works of fiction, it allows the viewer to bring their own viewpoint to the table, mix it into the writing, and come up with their own conclusions.

Take the relationship between She-Ra and Catra in the new show. For some it’s pretty obvious that their entire relationship could be viewed as a romantic one, what with dramatic tension that permeates most of their scenes together, and that Princess Prom episode alone with the dancing together.

But as some have said in the past, sometimes dancing is just dancing, and like the relationship between Prince Adam and Teela in the original He-man cartoon show, it can also be viewed as just a very close friendship to the point that’s its even a sibling like one.

Why is it written like this? Because as I said, it’s a god damn kids show. Real romantic notions are often best left out of these kinds of shows either way you slice it, so I was happy the series was written the way it was so that again for adults watching you can form your own conclusions if you are so inclined.

For me personally, I was just happy that She-Ra and Catra had some sort of backstory…period. A lot of what’s missing from those original cartoons is any sort of character development or growth, and you can’t have that stuff without strong backstory especially between adversaries. At least this show gave emotional stakes as to why She-Ra and Catra should be angry with each other or fight so strongly for their sides. In the old cartoon, it was simple enough to just say Catra is bad because she works for Hordak, but that doesn’t really cut it nowadays, and so I’m happy they did something in addressing that.

In the end, I think that’s why I liked the show so much. It took time to build a cohesive story and made characters fit within it. Whether that was She-ra, or Catra, or Glimmer, or Bow, they weren’t just random characters thrown together because Mattel had toys they wanted to sell. They all had roles and places within in the story and as it unfolded, you saw how all these characters built on each other and grew organically along with the saga.

I mean there were great episodes with Entrapa…Entrapa for God’s Sake. Who gives a flying carp about her before this series?!? I certainly didn’t. But they made me care about her just as much as Angella or Shadow Weaver and that’s clutch, I say.

Bravo! Me and my 4 year daughter can’t wait for season 2 (which by the way debuts on Netflix on April 26th)!

 


 

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