I don’t know about all of you, but I’m a sucker for ambitious storytelling. Sure, I love my paint-by-numbers comics, but when you can clearly see a team of artists aspiring for something more it makes the downtime between monthly installments all the sweeter. With each issue we get another building block, another piece of the puzzle and half of thepisces02_cover fun is the challenge presented in the work to the reader. Yes, you can read a comic in under fifteen minutes, but it’s the well-crafted and impassioned books that draw you in and invite you to take a closer look. Pisces, with only two issues, is proving itself to be such a book.

Home from the war in Vietnam, former fighter pilot Dillon Carpenter finds adjusting to civilian life to be as much of a battle as the one he left behind. Carrying the burden of what he did during the war to survive, Dillon is continually haunted by his demons both real and imagined. A chance meeting with a fellow veteran, however, gives him the opportunity to find a modicum of peace, but a momentary reprieve isn’t enough to keep the past and the present from colliding.

The description may be fairly straightforward but within the issue proper writer Kurtis Wiebe, artist Johnnie Christmas, and colorist Tamra Bonvillain tweak it just enough to keep us questioning reality right along with Dillon. It’s all lined up for us: veteran of a horrific war experiencing post-traumatic stress that manifests as equally horrific hallucinations. Pretty much every Vietnam movie covers this. Except there’s a sinister PiscesBeachquality to Dillon’s visions. His demons arrive in the form of a viscous liquid with melting phantasms attempting to pull him under, to drown him in a watery starscape. The continued use of water holds up less as a method of narrative transition and more as a manifestation of his psyche.

Pisces #2 really highlights how the script and the art hold equal weight in telling the story. So far, Wiebe has been light on exposition. He’s letting the characters drive the plot and since we’re dealing with a questionable reality, nothing appears to make sense. Memories, visions, nightmares all blend together but without context we as the reader are hung out to dry about the actual meaning. Dillon is even less forthcoming with an explanation because he isn’t sure himself and he really isn’t the type to wax poetic about his feelings. Without our own solid foundation from the words, we turn to the art for help. It’s worth noting that Christmas’ art continues to be stunning throughout the issue. He manages to make distortion and elongation of panels and appendages look amazing but he can just as easily nail an expression that tells you everything about a character with one glance. And Bonvillain’s colors bring as much vibrancy to a quiet conversation in the moonlight as they do to a whirling black hole of starry nightmares. The art, however, is just as unreliable as it quickly turns, taking any solid foundation of reality and morphing into hellish dreams. Like the mind, Dillon’s world is fluid and subject to change without warning. Add in the nonlinear narrative and our ability to gauge the situation is nonexistent. It’s PiscesWaterexciting but it also holds just enough tension and anxiety with each turn of the page, which is exactly where you want to be in the horror/thriller genre.

The best pieces of horror are less about gore and more about anxiety and fear – fear of the unknown, of the people around us, of our own bodies, etc. Our senses are heightened, the heart beats faster, and we’re just waiting to let out a scream to relieve our minds of the stress induced by sustained suspense. Pisces is only in the first stages, setting the tone where the quiet moments linger with uncertainty. Every corner has the potential to sink into oblivion, every person a possible figment of an addled mind. As Dillon falls, we fall with him and there’s nothing to hold on to.

Isn’t that just a little bit frightening? But isn’t it also just a little bit fun?

Before we start, I’m telling you now that there will be spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road. You’ve been warned. Proceed.

Like a massive amount of people this weekend, I saw Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller’s return to the Mad Max franchise thirty years after the last installment, Beyond Thunderdome (1985). How was it? So good, guys. So very good. You should all go see it so we can all incessantly talk about how perfect of an action movie it is and how George vhs-mad-max-fury-road1Miller should be given back the reigns to the scrapped Justice League movie from 2007. Tom Hardy does an admirable job taking over the role of Max from Mel Gibson, but what everyone’s been really talking about isn’t the titular character but the real hero of the movie, Furiosa, played fantastically by Charlize Theron. Though Max finds himself in the middle of a long drive down an endless, unforgiving road the movie is really about Furiosa and her search for redemption as she tries to smuggle the brides of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) back to the idyllic home from which she was stolen as a child. It would be very easy to launch into a review of the movie, but I think the phrase “GO SEE IT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD IT’S SO GOOD!!” is sufficient enough. Instead, I wanted to talk about Furiosa and her namesakes, the Furies – primordial deities of Ancient Greece who punished people for insolence, oath-breaking, unjustified murder, and anything else that might be construed as destruction of the natural order.

Descriptions of the Furies, or the Erinyes, often relegate them to a triptych of goddesses with interchangeable features like snakes for hair (not to be confused with the Gorgons), dog’s heads, bat’s wings, bloodshot eyes, and coal black bodies. It’s really more up to the author in question. Even the tri-goddess motif is subject to authorial whim since the Ancient Greeks didn’t exactly have a set number of cthonic revenge deities. We mostly have Virgil and Dante to thank for the three named Furies, Alecto (“unceasing”), Megaera (“grudging”), and Tisiphone (“vengeful destruction”). The triptych also works on a thematic level with other triple goddess groups such as the Fates, the erinyesCharities or Graces, and the Muses; there were originally only three Muses, but more were added. Still, nine muses fits with the “Power of Three” theme that’s carried over into modern day Pagan and Wicca practices and their pop culture equivalents like The Craft (1996) and Charmed (1998-2006). Fun fact: Charmed had an episode where the sisters were turned into the Furies (“Hell Hath No Fury”). But then again, they were turned into just about everything, so make of that what you will.

The Furies have actually made a fair number of appearances, and honorable mentions, in television, movies, and literature. As a trio, Xena: Warrior Princess used them in a handful of episodes, mainly as combatant figures sent by other gods to mete out punishment; they were also the main antagonists in the video game God of War: Ascension. As far as inspiration goes the Female Furies of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World were the ruthless bodyguards of the god-like despot Darkseid – and formerly led by one of my favorite heroines, Big Barda; and Barbara Stanwyck starred in the gripping Western, The Furies (1950), about a woman who cunningly gets hold of her family’s ranch after her father disowns her. The commonality of women in the position of protagonist and antagonist, sometimes Female_Furies_001concurrently, could be interpreted as harkening back to the idea that the Furies themselves were not necessarily malicious deities. Depending on your perspective they were either dispensing justice or executing unfair punishment. Or it’s just a happy accident.

The use of the word “fury” has had a long tradition of use in popular culture as well. Mad Max: Fury Road notwithstanding, we’ve also seen the rise, fall, and rise again of the Fast and the Furious franchise with the latest installment, Furious 7, giving the biggest finger to the laws of physics for the sake of pure entertainment that ever was given. If we go back a little further, William Faulkner’s 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury has been a staple of American literature classes for decades, the novel’s title coming from a soliloquy in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth wherein “the sound and the fury” is our need for significance in a meaningless existence. Indeed, the use of “furious” and “fury” in a modern day setting has been more closely associated with anger whereas the Furies depicted in the plays of Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, and the poetry of Virgil and Dante were more concerned with “fury” as an extension of justice.

In Mad Max: Fury Road we get an amalgamation of these varied depictions. For starters, the second half of the title reveals not just where most of the action takes place, but it also indicates that Max isn’t the singular hero of the film. If anything, Max is just the means to an end for us so we can meet Theron’s Furiosa. It can’t just be coincidence that the leading woman is named Furiosa and she’s driving a war rig across Fury Road. If Miller and co-writers Brendan McCarthy and Nick Lathouris had wanted to be subtle (they didn’t), then there were better ways to go about it. FURY ROADFuriosa fits the duel role of protagonist and antagonist, a badass driver looking for redemption by saving a group of women and a foil for Max, in the beginning, who will do anything to survive. More to the point, Furiosa is the one to enact punishment and get revenge on Immortan Joe. As the supposed main character, Max has little to do with Joe’s demise. If he did, it wouldn’t make sense. After the brides, Furiosa has the most dramatic and narratively satisfying resolution in killing him and bringing down his tyrannical regime. If Max were the one to do so, then it wouldn’t ring true.

The culmination of Furiosa’s efforts to get the brides to her childhood home, however, unwittingly results in the creation of another form of the triple goddess motif, the maiden-mother-crone. Reunited with the remaining members of her people, all of whom are women, Furiosa becomes the “Mother” figure, the woman of middle age to the “Maiden” brides and the older “Crones” of her former home. Again, this may not have been the intention, but it sits there and whether you realize it or not you’re watching three generations of women fighting back in order to survive. Yes, Max is there and helps facilitate the plan to take on Joe and his army, but the heavy lifting is done as much, if not more so, by Furiosa, the brides, and the clans-women. Oh, and Nux (Nicholas Hoult) is there too.

There is so much to love about Mad Max: Fury Road. Charlize Theron’s Furiosa kicks all kinds of ass, even with one arm, and Tom Hardy looks like he’ll have no problems picking up the reins of the franchise. George Miller is so on point with a frenetic, fast paced, and gorgeously realized dystopian world gone mad but he also succeeds in giving us a cast of characters capable of meeting and exceeding that madness. It’s beneath the surface, however, that we see Fury Road‘s place in the long tradition of women looking for justice and my God is it glorious. Well done, Mad Max. Well done.

CFOgEVZWoAA3NGX

Sam and James Rowe (Roman on the Rocks) enjoy a nice long and geeky conversation about The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Spoilers!

Avengers_Age_Of_Ultron_LazMarquez

Recently, The Cut put out a list of 25 quotes from famous women all about female friendships. The topic is an inspired one, in my opinion, because, as the article points out, friendships between women are complex – far more complex than movies, television, or most forms of media will cover. Via the lens of Hollywood, women, as we relate to each other, are rarely depicted in a positive manner. Much of this is due to the skewed gender dynamics of any grouping of oldacquaintance-toastcharacters. Whether it’s an action movie, a television procedural, or a popular cartoon series, women are typically outnumbered two to one.  And that’s assuming there’s more than one woman in the cast. There’s a reason why “The Chick” and its corresponding trope the “Smurfette Principle” exist; the lone female character in the main cast serves as the only representative of half the viewing audience, of which the other half gets at least four characters to latch on to, and her entire reason for existing is to be the love interest/girl equivalent of the male lead or just simply “The Girl” meant to embody all things under the broad category of feminine.

So you can imagine how difficult it is to portray friendship among women with any depth when this tendency to keep to one girl per team means the lone female’s personality and drive are always dwarfed by her relationship to the male cast, specifically the leading man. Men get to “bro out” because there are just more of them while female characters are either one-of-guys or sporting the coldest shoulder in need of the leading man to thaw. The message sent to girls and women is clear; this character has earned a special place amongst this group of men, something you too should strive for but if another woman shows up you should be wary of her immediately. Think about cartoons of the 80s and 90s. One girl in this special group with mostly guys, she has doe eyes for the leading man, and then another voltron-teamwoman shows up. This femme fatale immediately zeroes in on the lead guy and openly flirts with him just for the sheer pleasure of making the girl jealous. Typically she ends up being the villain of the week defeated by the end of the episode, but that storyline shows up in just about every cartoon. Trust me. It’s a very rare thing for an extra female character to just randomly show up and become best friends with the sole leading lady…unless that’s also a ruse for the episode. Cartoons were really formulaic back in the day. The point is, girls are taught from a young age to be distrustful of other women, which dovetails into adolescence and adulthood as the media constantly pits women against each other in a way that emphasizes spite and jealousy over friendship and loyalty. And the general lack of a female plurality means women have fewer characters to identify with and emulate.

And that’s where the ultimate problem lies. Because of the gender imbalance, female characters are either written with no personality so as to be a blank enough slate for female viewers to project themselves upon or they’re written with ALL THE PERSONALITIES so as to cover every base that the writer believes to be salient to women – assuming all women go through the same milestones and experience full character arcs within a predetermined time frame. The luxury of multiple male characters is you can have varying personalities, ya know like in real life, that viewers can relate to. It’s why Black Widow’s storyline in Avengers: Age of Ultron has received so much criticism, lots-of-new-avengers-age-of-ultron-character-detailsmostly but not exclusively, from women bemoaning the romantic drama between her and Bruce Banner as well as the disclosure of her sterilization while being trained as an assassin. As the only female lead in the Avengers ensemble, some felt the romantic/can’t-be-a-mommy angle was unnecessary for Natasha and further proof of Hollywood’s systemic misogyny. In truth the absence of women creates an absence of stories, which creates a need to see those stories done correctly for fear that it’s a one-time offer.

Mark Ruffalo reiterated this point during his most recent AMA:

If anything, Black Widow is much stronger than Banner. She protects him. She does her job, and basically they begin to have a relationship as friends, and I think it’s a misplaced anger. I think that what people might really be upset about is the fact that we need more superhuman women. The guys can do anything, they can have love affairs, they can be weak or strong and nobody raises an eyebrow. But when we do that with a woman, because there are so few storylines for women, we become hyper-critical of every single move that we make because there’s not much else to compare it to. [Source: Nerdist]

WWTo put it another way, think of all the scrutiny the Wonder Woman solo movie has come under before a script has even been written. Casting decisions, Gal Gadot’s body, the costume, the director, the studio, her cameo appearance – all of it has been and will continue to be debated and picked apart until the finished product is released in 2017. And even then it will be the subject of multiple conversations, essays, and op-eds about women in the film industry, female led movies, female led action/superhero movies, and the depiction of women in comics. The scrutiny and the nitpicking will be exhaustive and unrelenting. Why? Because we’re concerned that this is it. If Wonder Woman doesn’t succeed, for whatever reason, it’s just more fodder for studio executives to proclaim that female led movies don’t sell. Thus, Hollywood continues to trudge along like men are the universal demographic, which makes it even harder for women to carve out even a smidge of safe space in the Hollywood machine.

I know I’m being hyperbolic, but don’t tell me any bit of that doesn’t at least have a grain of truth. It’s frustrating because as a woman I’ve been taught to find more sympathy and empathy with male characters purely because my choices were limited in the amount of women present in the cartoons, tv shows, and movies I watched. As a kid, and a tomboy, I didn’t think much of it, but as an adult it just doesn’t make sense to put limitations on the amount of women in an ensemble when you’re effectively closing your story off to other narrative avenues and character interaction. Pro tip: If there’s only one woman on the bridge crew of a spaceship, or a group of mercenaries, or a ragtag team of miscreants looking to raise hell maybe make one of the four or five interchangeable meatheads a woman. Hell, make half of them women. Or better yet, make the WHOLE CAST WOMEN!guardians-galaxy-walking

It’s not such a crazy idea since women generally interact in groups, so the National Geographic specials have told me. And it’s not just a case where one woman is hanging out with a group of men. Nope. Get this. Women occasionally hang out with other women. Weird, right? Sometimes a group of women can get together, all of them from differing backgrounds and life experiences, somehow stay in a room together, have a laugh or a serious conversation, and part ways on friendly terms with the desire to hang out again. But you wouldn’t know that from Hollywood where all-female casts = romantic comedy/drama/coming-of-age/Lifetime cancer movie of the week tear-jerker. We’re given the “Chick Flick” label because all other movies are for guys? Again, that’s a limitation based on the old school assumption that women have to be coerced to see westerns, sci-fi, horror, or action movies where we typically see the a significant shortage of female characters. In actuality, we love those films just as much as men and willingly go see them. But you know what we rarely see? More than one woman in those genre ensembles. And if there are maybe two women they’re either rivals, they never have a scene together, or one of them dies to further the male character’s plot.

bridesmaids_poster021-e1304923490553-700x361That’s why all-female casts like the Ghostbusters reboot, the much maligned Expendabelles, the up-coming Jem and the Holograms, and even the rumored 21 Jump Street spinoff matter. The same goes for Bridesmaids, The Heat, Rizzoli and Isles, Cagney and Lacey, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Parks & Recreation, Broad City, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, and Sailor Moon. They feature more than one female character in the lead, if not a female-dominated cast, which allows for personalities to flourish and create differing character interactions based on those personalities. No one character has to shoulder all of femininity. Instead, all of them get the chance to showcase how nuanced women are in relation to each other.

A blog post from Amanda C. Miller about Sailor Jupiter sums this up nicely:

You see, when you have an entire team of girls instead of just one or two, it makes the writer’s job easier because they don’t have to be as worried about playing it safe with their sole precious female character, and can therefore be more nuanced and complicated in their approach. You can give them each distinct personalities, flaws, strengths, desires, POVs, etc, because you have more than just one person representing an entire gender. With proper representation, you have the freedom to just show people as human. The good, the bad, the ugly, the quirky, so on and so forth. This goes for any underrepresented group of people.

Women are funny, competitive, vulgar, emotional, intelligent, romantic, standoffish, brazen, intimidating, generous, etc. but we need more properties that emphasize these aspects through interactions with other women. We need and want an all female Ghostbusters because we had to sit through two movies where four guys with varying Broad citybackgrounds in science and psychology ran around busting ghosts but the only two women in the cast were the secretary and the damsel. You know what would be awesome? Four women from varying backgrounds of science, psychology, and paranormal studies running around busting ghosts and talking to each other like friends or colleagues would. Will one of them have a love interest? Will one of them be married with kids? Maybe. It’s always a possibility. But it’s just as possible that all of them are single, two of them are in the Illuminati, and three-fourths of them eat ice cream while watching late night B-movies on basic cable. The point is you have the option to choose without worrying about who representing “The Girl”. They’re all “The Girl” but now it’s time to figure out what that entails.

Don’t get me wrong, some headway is being made. Comic books like Batgirl, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Gotham Academy, Rat Queens, Lumberjanes, and the new Jem and the Holograms are going strong with their emphasis on girl power and the strength of friendship but it’s still a small pool in an ocean of books featuring male leads. Television and film? Yeah, needs some work, but it’s work worth doing to have an even greater selection of quality stories.

 

Sam talks with Kelly Fitzpatrick, Tamra Bonvillain, Marissa Louise, and K. Michael Russell about the ins and outs of being a colorist in the comic book industry.

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Links!

Kelly Fitzpatrick

Tamra Bonvillain

Marissa Louise

K. Michael Russell

If you’re a DC Comics fan and you haven’t seen the cast photo of the Suicide Squad released by the film’s director David Ayer a few days ago, then what are we even doing here?!

Sorry, I kid.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, then gaze upon the strange glory that is the Suicide Squad/Task Force X!

SuicideSquadCastLight

 

Yeah, soak it all in!

In case you were wondering who the hell all these people are and who they’re playing, starting from the far left: Slipknot (Adam Beach, though the character still isn’t officially confirmed), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Katana (Karen Fukuhara), Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), Col. Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Deadshot (Will Smith), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and El Diablo (Jay Hernandez).Suicide-Squad-Comic-Logo-Movie

Missing from the photo is Viola Davis as Amanda “The Wall” Waller, the ruthless taskmaster of the Squad, but I’m sure her official image is a’comin’. The photo dropped on the heels of Ayer releasing an image of Jared Leto’s Joker, who is pretty much one of the antagonists of the film though definitely not the only one. IMDB lists Ike Barinholtz as Dr. Hugo Strange, Raymond Olubawale as King Shark, Scott Eastwood as Steve Trevor, Jim Parrack as Deathstroke, Ben Affleck as Batman, and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor as well. There are also roles yet to be confirmed, notably the casting of Common as…a character. Some of these casting decisions may be wrong even on the site since Fukuhara is listed as Plastique (the villain she was originally rumored to play) instead of Katana, so Lord knows what information is going to start rolling out over the next year.

Yeah, Suicide Squad won’t be out until August 2016, the followup to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice due for release on March 25, 2016 that will supposedly star every DC hero ever as a precursor to the real Justice League movie, parts 1 and 2, out in 2017 and 2019 respectively. So, before we really get to know the heroes, we’ll get to know a whole group of villains/anti-heroes first!

Wait, what?

JOKER_LETOI’ll be honest, the Warner Bros. strategy of throw everything at the audience is one hell of a gamble. Not that it couldn’t pay off. Suicide Squad has the potential to hit Guardians of the Galaxy status if the story is good and the characters, ya know, have a little fun. Having Harley Quinn on the team certainly ups the percentage of one-liners and nonsensical dialogue, but she’s also the only bright spot in yet another dark, drab photo for a DC movie. You look at that photo and your eyes go to Harley first. I mean, seriously, they couldn’t at least put Enchantress in a brighter outfit? They’re basing a lot of these looks on the New 52 versions of the characters in the comics, so you could at least give Enchantress a slick green hoodie dress. Also, what the hell is she actually wearing? I’m no authority on fashion, but I don’t think crazy-pants-bog-witch-gypsy is the best choice, stylistically, for missions that may involve more than standing in the background looking weird. Besides, Harley’s already got the market cornered on impractical outfits. Booty shorts and high-healed boots? Yup, one teacup short of a china hutch. It’s worth noting, though, that Margot Robbie owns that photo. Amidst all the serious faces because serious, she’s going to smile her way into our hearts…hopefully.

Given the bloated cast and the team with which we’re dealing, it’s all but inevitable that one of them dies before the first act. The Squad, as a means of ensuring compliance with the missions, are surgically implanted with explosives with Waller’s finger always hovering over the button to make them go KABOOM! And Waller is known for her effective “make-an-example-of-disposable-villains” routine, which is all but guaranteed to happen when one of these guys tries to bail during a mission. This is textbook stuff, but it might be fun to see who bites it first. Hint: could be Slipknot, but you didn’t hear it from me.

My biggest concern is that it just feels a little…small. Akinnuoye-Agbaje is playing Killer Croc and yet there’s something disappointing about the fact that he just looks like a regular-sized dude-mutant who could be the cousin of Super Mario’s goombas. I know DC and Warner Bros. are going for the “grounded” versions, but you have a meta human on a team with a woman who wields a sword inhabited by her dead husband’s soul and another woman who uses magic – a conceptsuicide-squad-117157 that’s still on shaky ground since Constantine may not make it to a second season. These are big personalities whose power sets leave a huge impact on the heroes they regularly face. They should physically reflect that as well. Would it be too much to ask for an oversized mallet and hyenas for Harley instead of a Louisville slugger?

But these are just surface responses to one picture. As I’ve learned, nothing about the film industry is set in stone and what we see now could be completely different in a year or so. I guess what I’m saying is I’m at least intrigued by the movie’s prospects. I give Ayer props for the diverse casting, but it all comes down to opening weekend and whether the performances match the hype.

 

Sam talks with artist Jim Mahfood about the life of a freelancer, Jack Kirby, the connection between music and art, and 80s television. Fun times were had by all!

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And in case you wanted to watch the cheesy Don Johnson goodness of “Heartbeat”….

Advanced Review: Pisces #1 (Spoilers!)

Posted: April 25, 2015 by Sam in Comics, Review

It’s hard to describe the first issue of Pisces. Not because the issue is awful – it isn’t – but because it’s clearly the beginning of something huge, something that’s going to unfold, like all good storied should, and finally make sense by the end. Maybe. It’Pisces_01s hard to tell right out the gate whether the team of Kurtis J. Wiebe and Johnnie Christmas, who’ve been working on this story for two years, will tell a concrete narrative because Pisces exhibits all the traits of an existential character study where time is fluid and each vignette delves deeper and deeper into a man’s psyche.

What is Pisces about? Wiebe offers this synopsis:

Former fighter pilot Dillon Carpenter found everything he wanted when he returned from the Vietnam War. A loving partner, a dream career training with NASA to travel through space, and soon, he will learn, a prime candidacy for a secret mission, one that will forever change the world: First Contact. But as Dillon prepares, his war trauma returns and he’s haunted by dark visions of his future. There is but one constant; the voice whispering from the stars.

The first issue certainly hits the ground running as we meet a drunken, bloody Dillon stumbling into the emergency room on the night of his son’s birth. After being confronted by the reality of his situation by having it literally beaten into him, we’re transported through the unconscious (or maybe conscious?) mind to Dillon’s time in Vietnam to witness one in what could be a series of decisions made with horrifying consequences.

PiscesWiebe cites multiple influences for Pisces including David Cronenberg’s early career of body horror films from the 70s and 80s, psychological thrillers like Jacob’s Ladder and Martyr, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Duncan Jones’ Moon. Certainly there are elements of each emerging in the first issue but it’s the sci-fi aspects of Kubrick and Jones that are more prominently featured as we take our first dip into the well of Dillon’s mind. And because we’re following Dillon’s mindscape, there’s plenty of opportunity for Johnnie Christmas to show off his amazing artwork. For all of the fantastical transitions, Christmas’ art has a beautifully raw quality that grounds the story. Even when the panels get fairly illustrative, a quick closeup shot delivers a devastating blow of emotion, particularly in the eyes. Reminds me a lot of Jock, actually. It’s gorgeous and made even more so by colorist Tamra Bonvillain palette. The entire Vietnam flashback is a beautiful display of color setting the mood and tone not just of the setting but also the main character. The dusky optimism of Dillon and his co-pilot Henry escaping their plane crash, the sickening yellow cast over Dillon as he makes his decision to escape alone, and the warm colors of dawn contrasted with the bright blood spilt as Dillon makes his assault on an enemy outpost all serve to make us more intimately aware of his state-of-mind.Persephone

What really drew my attention was the symbolism of the first issue. Oh yeah, I’m bringing symbolism into this! Throughout the entire issue water is used a transitional device, which makes sense when you consider the nature of the subconscious where water often acts as a tangible metaphor. Our thoughts jump around all the time and dreams are the mind’s way of trying to make sense of what we perceive on a daily basis as well as the psychological baggage we carry. The deeper the water, the deeper we sink and Dillon seems to sink pretty deep after fist meets face. The title similarly refers to water symbolism with the astrological sign Pisces, the two fishes, but also connects to the first contact mission Dillon embarks on where Pisces the constellation serves as a potential anchor point. One of the more interesting tidbits, for me at least, comes towards the end when Dillon radios into headquarters after killing the Viet Cong soldiers. His call sign is Hades and as he steps out of the hut to make his way to the evac point, he sees a monkey in the trees holding a pomegranate – one of the symbols for Persephone, Queen of the Underworld and Hades’ wife. Ya know, in case there weren’t other reasons Dillon is reliving his past.

All-in-all, Pisces is shaping up to be another solid piece of work. Wiebe and Christmas have started strong. They have my attention and they should definitely have yours.

Pisces #1 goes on sale Wed. April 29th!

Sam is joined by her friends JP and Jerry to talk about the Netflix Daredevil series. Spoilers!

You should also check out JP’s review of the Daredevil series!

daredevil-netflix

One trailer shy of a Furious 7 joke. Sigh.

I know a lot of people are concerned that the bubble’s going to burst on movies geared towards those of the geekier sort. If, however, the quality of the six movies whose trailers dropped within the last two weeks is any indication of their quality, then I think we’re good, where movies are concerned, for the next couple years. The last four days alone have seen most of those trailers released into the murky atmosphere of the internet, so I thought I’d go ahead and give you my thoughts on these films based on the most recent and previous trailers.large_trailer

Spoiler alert: I plan to see all of these films. I may have reservations about a few, some more than others, but I’m also the type of person who likes to experience the entire movie before I decide whether it’s the new love of my life, the biggest assault on the senses since Batman & Robin, or a disposable piece of fluff.

I’m just that type of girl. Go figure. Anywho, on to the trailers.

Second spoiler warning: The Terminator Genisys trailer gives away the biggest twist of the movie, so if you’ve managed to avoid it and want to remain in the dark I’d recommend scrolling down really, really fast and move on to the next trailer at a furious pace!

Jurassic World – June 12, 2015

Since the first trailer dropped I’ve been on board with the concept of Jurassic World as the logical extension of the original Jurassic Park (1993). Park and World share the same themes of scientific and corporate hubris with World upping the ante as the genetically modified dinosaur created to boost attendance wreaks havoc on the park. Previous trailers and clips have shown the movie will definitely be calling back to some of the more well-known moments in the first film while sticking to the tried and true formula of monster movie scares, dinosaur fights, and possibly some philosophical discussion about blah, blah, blah and oh my God Chris Pratt on a motorcycle riding with his velociraptor hunting pack! Ahem. Sorry, what was I talking about? Anyway, at the very least the movie promises to at least be visually stunning with each park attraction having a very Disney-esque immersion happening. And I know this is wishful thinking, but if there’s any chance Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm could make a for real cameo, I’d consider this movie a win.

Terminator Genisys – July 1, 2015

Yeah, I’m not sure why a trailer was made that gives away what would arguably be the biggest mind-blowing moment in the movie, but there ya go. Either the filmmakers and the production company really think Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the franchise will put butts in seats just because or they’re really worried no one will see this movie because the last two installments didn’t do them any favors. To be fair, the premise is intriguing. With all the time travel that goes on in the myopic missions of machines trying desperately to eliminate one dude from the timeline, the idea of alternate timelines and what if scenarios actually makes sense. Of course, the type of time travel setup in the Terminator movies requires time to be linear otherwise John Connor’s future would keep changing. There’s also the notion of fate and fixed points in time because the machines keep sending assassins to kill John and his mother and yet they never succeed. But I’ve already put too much thought into this movie. Sorry, time travel as a narrative device is one of those things I obsessively pick apart. But hey, Emilia Clarke looks like a rad young Sarah Connor!

Ant-Man – July 17, 2015

I like the trailers for this movie more and more. Yes, it’s disappointing that Janet Van Dyne, a founding member of the Avengers has been all but written out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but here’s hoping that Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne will become the Wasp and give Ant-Man a run for his money! After the teaser trailer left something to be desired based on the performance of previous Marvel trailers, this one definitely makes up for it in every way possible. Better jokes showing off Paul Rudd’s endless charm as thief turned hero, Scott Lang, and a nice hero turned mentor dynamic set up between Lang and Michael Douglas’ older Hank Pym. Since Hank was also a founding member of the Avengers in the comics, it’ll be interesting to see how they incorporate the Ant-Man origins into a world where superheroes have only been a recent thing. Plus, I’m really digging the effects as Ant-Man and Yellowjacket shrink and grow during their fights. Even though the climactic battle will occur in Scott’s daughter’s room among her toys, director Peyton Reed promises there’s much more to it than just a cute shot of an epic battle on a Thomas the Tank Engine.

Fantastic Four – August 7, 2015

The Fantastic Four…with powers! Much better, 20th Century Fox. Like Ant-Man, the Fantastic Four teaser trailer didn’t exactly wow anyone, but this trailer feels like we’re getting a better idea of what the movie will actually be about. Yes, the premise for Marvel’s first family has always been a bit hokey, but there’s plenty to work with as the crux of the movie will center on Reed Richard’s genius that leads to the discovery of another dimension and ultimately changes him and his friends into superpowered heroes. Oh, and Doctor Doom is there too. Doooooom! Reed’s sense of responsibility and his guilt are a huge driving force behind the character so I’m interested in seeing how this will play out in the movie. Crucial to this is the friendship between Reed and Ben Grimm, so hopefully the dynamic between Miles Teller and Jamie Bell has some meat to it. Otherwise we’re just looking at four strangers who happen to get cosmic powers, live together and have their lives taped. Like a superhero Real World. So, yeah, I like what I see from director Josh Trank so far. The effects look amazing and there was actually some humor. Thumbs up for now!

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – December 18, 2015

As someone who only looks at Star Wars through the movies (I know, I know Clone Wars and Rebels are part of the canon), I held out a lot of hope for Episode VII after being terribly disappointed by the prequels. Thankfully, it looks like J.J. Abrams will be doing right by the franchise because I love every friggin’ second of this trailer. The opening shot of the Star Destroyer is gorgeous and Luke’s narration made all the goosebumps happen. Do I really need to explain how awesome that final shot was? Do I? It’s Han and Chewie, for cryin’ out loud! This looks like the movie we’ve been waiting for as the older generation gets ready to pass the baton down to the next. How John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac’s characters factor into the universe post-Return of the Jedi still remains unclear, but that’s part of the fun. If all I have going into this movie are the ridiculously awesome visuals, then I’m still going in content with my ignorance of the plot. I want to be surprised by this movie and fall in love with Star Wars all over again.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – March 25, 2016

Okay, not gonna lie, I’ve been down on the burgeoning DC Cinematic Universe for a while. Not because I dislike DC Comics, quite the opposite. I’ve been a DC fan since before I can remember, but Man of Steel was so underwhelming – for me – that it’s going to take a lot to change my mind about what this franchise can offer. At the very least, Batman v Superman holds promise. It won’t be out for another year, but I’m hoping Chris Terrio’s script tackles the rivalry and eventual friendship of Bats and Supes in a way that at least makes sense despite borrowing heavily from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns wherein their decades long friendship falls apart. Throw in a dizzying amount of cameos from other DC heroes and it’s quite the ambitious start on the road to Justice League. The religious connotations are, of course, present. Looks like Zack Snyder will be following up on the destruction of Metropolis and what it means to have a superpowered “savior” among us. Supes and religion isn’t new territory and Snyder isn’t shying away from the obvious symbolism, so hopefully the script handles it with some subtlety…please? Other than that, Henry Cavill still looks great as Superman and Ben Affleck looks good for the few seconds we get of him as Bruce Wayne and Batman. I’m pretty sure people will be griping about the “Batman gravel” in his voice, but those things don’t bother me. I just want to be able to walk out of a theater next March pumping my fist in the air and shouting “Yeah, Bats and Supes!”

So those are the most recent trailers. What did you guys think? Which movies are you the most excited for and does the trailer factor into that excitement?