Category Archives: Fantasy

lastkingdom

The Last Kingdom (Seasons 1, 2) – a Review

I almost didn’t even give this series a chance. Hollywood and television have me so gunshy, I doubted they could produce anything that won’t nauseate me. And the BBC, from what little I know, is brimming over with cultural Marxixts just like every other long-established media/entertainment organization. To trust them with anything even remotely historical? Forget it.

Then I found out it was based on Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales. I’ve read some of Cornwell’s fiction (Agincourt and a few of the Sharpe novels). He’s a competent storyteller and he doesn’t butcher historical flow or details enough for me to take exception. So, “Once more into the breach,” sez I.

I guess you could say I semi-binge-watched the first two seasons on Netflix–finishing them in about a week or so.

lastkingdom1

The Premise:

In the late 9th Century, a Saxon noble and his heir are slain by a band of Danes a’viking through Bebbanburg in Northumbria. The lone surviving son was baptized and named Uhtred before being captured by the Danes.

Earl Ragnar spares the boy’s life, respecting his courage and truculence, and raises him as a Dane along with a Saxon girl named Brita. After growing into a man, and losing his adopted family (via treachery from other Danes), he becomes a vassal of Alfred, king of Wessex…”the last kingdom.” (Vikings have run roughshod over all other kingdoms in the British isles.)

Relevance:

With all the current brouhaha by the “alt-right” about race, immigration/invasion and “Magic Dirt” vs. “Magic DNA,” this series couldn’t be more timely. Genetically, Uhtred is a Saxon; yet his attitude, disposition, customs, etc. are decidedly Danish. This duality makes him an outsider in both worlds (not because everyone on both sides reject him out-of-hand, but because his ambition to rule Beddanburg causes him to side against the invaders; while his Danish weltanshuang motivates a contemptuous disdain for the Saxons and their ways.) Though he wields completely different weapons for a completely different type of warfare, Uhtred during the viking expeditions is not unlike Thomas Sowell during the USA’s present Cold Civil War, in that they are both slogging through similar conundrums–their demographic profile contradicting their deeply-rooted belief system.

The Religious Aspect:

Although Islam and other religions get a pass, Christianity is universally hated by the string-pullers with the monopoly on resources in the entertainment industry. It would be foolish to assume Christianity would get a fair shake in this series–especially given the behavior of the Roman Catholic Church through history. And, the historical backdrop for Last Kingdom smacks of religious conflict. The peoples of present-day Great Britain were Catholic during the period depicted, while the Northmen were still unmitigated pagans. How could you tell a story in this setting that ignored the religious aspect?

So of course the series takes cheap shots at Christianity, through the nominally Christian characters. But it is usually understated enough to ignore.

Historical Accuracy:

Alfred of Wessex and some other characters are real historical figures, while Uhtred and many others are fictional. Historians know a lot about Alfred because his life is very well-documented for the time. But as for the rest…well, it was the Dark Ages, folks. We are familiar with some generalities of the period…that the Vikings were raising hell in western Europe, for instance (and allegedly are the culprits who made London Bridge fall down); that the Catholic Church was growing in power; that the traditions of Roman civilization had given way to the early stages of feudalism…but there are just too many big, gaping holes in the historical record to ascertain specifics about much of what went on.

It wasn’t a question of if, but when the creative team would unleash their arsenal of ludicrous Grrrl Power tropes in the series. Surprisingly, the obligatory butt-kicking Womyn Warriors didn’t rear their preposterous heads until late in the First Season. Even more surprising: this revisionist hogwash was dialed down quickly enough to prevent me from giving up on the series. I truly am curious what caused the correction, but relieved nonetheless.

The series creators brought a technique to the screen I consider ingenious: When revealing geographic locations via subtitles, the ancient name is displayed first, then it transforms into the name it is known by today. As someone fascinated by the evolution of language, I really appreciate this gimmick.

lastkingdom2

Other Stuff:

I’m not an expert on Dark Ages melee techniques, but it seems to me when you have a shield and your enemy is swinging a sword or axe at you, you would use the shield to block or deflect the blow. Evidently, though, the shield is just an ornament, and you block a swinging sword with your own sword. Nevermind that banging two metal blades together repeatedly converts both of them to crude, dull saws–this is what BBC fight correographers have decided is the logical tactic.

It’s easy to identify the important characters on this show, because they don’t wear helmets, even in combat. I’ve remarked before about the wisdom of refusing to protect your head when weapons will be streaking toward it, so I won’t completely rehash it here.

Suffice it to say that Uhtred’s brain usually operates like somebody’s who has fought in many a melee without a helmet. Watching him navigate the ethno-political waters of 9th Century Britain is like watching the Johnson Administration navigate through the Vietnam conflict…in slow motion. For the entire first season, it’s a safe bet that in any given situation, Uhtred will choose the most  idiotic course of action possible, then follow-up with a rash decision to make matters even worse. In the second season he seems to have learned a little self-discipline, thankfully, and dramatic conflict is generated in other ways.

I almost titled this post Mascara Kingdom because, for a few episodes, several of the male actors were painted with black eye shadow. It stuck out like a mosh pit at a royal ball. Seems like one character in Game of Thrones was made up that way too, if I remember correctly. Don’t know what the purpose is, but I’m glad they seem to have given up on that effort–it looked pretty stupid.

I might watch a third season of Daredevil if it comes to Netflix, but no other TV show has proven worth my time in several years. This show I plan to watch more of–and might even read the books it was based on, if that tells you anything.

 

MsMarvelRewritesHistory

Marvel Comics Regains its Senses?

Probably not. This is more likely economic reality putting the temporary kibosh on their agenda.

Comic book fans are among the most loyal fans. Few things run them off of their favorite books. For some reason, Marvel decided to do three of the most likely things to cost them fans: remove their favorite characters, tarnish the histories of those characters, and insult the fans who complained. The latter proved most insidious because the insults accused fans of racism, sexism, homophobia, and bizarrely resorted to stereotypes about comic book fans.

As Marvel did this, their new politically correct fan base proved not to be fans at all. As Marvel published book after pandering book, the books enjoyed initial high or good sales only to drop most of their audience within the first quarter. The prime example of this is the recent Black Panther book, which lost 70% of its audience in one month.

As far as I’m concerned, they have permanently lost me as a reader. Both DC and Marvel have gone too far off the deep end to ever get me back. They may dial it down a little bit for a while but I don’t believe for a second that they’re going to abandon trying to push The Narrative.

High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris

Guest Post by Jim Morris

High Couch is a classic. It is also, so far as I know, sui generis. In a long life of writing and editing in which I have written nine books, edited more than two hundred and read thousands I do not know of another book like it, not even remotely. On one level it is an exciting sci-fi adventure. On another it is a sword and sorcery epic, and on yet a third it answers Freud’s famous question, “What do women want?”

A brilliant woman has decided to give the game away, and guess what? Feminists have attacked her for it.

The writing style is heroic, but readable and fun. The characters are recognizable, the plot is satisfying, and the world it creates is like nothing you have seen before, but is still believable. It also contains what I consider the most erotic single sentence in all the thousands of books I have read:

“Flesh toy, come here!”

If that doesn’t set up a scene in your mind then you have no business reading fiction.

I’m not going to give the plot away. I’m just going to recommend it. Highly.

Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris or others. She has contributed short fiction to the shared universe fantasy series Thieves World, in which she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She created, orchestrated, and edited the fantasy series Heroes in Hell, writing stories for the series as well as co-writing the related novel, The Little Helliad, with Chris Morris. She wrote the bestselling Silistra Quartet in the 1970s, including High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne.

This quartet had more than four million copies in Bantam print alone, and was translated into German, French, Italian, Russian and other languages.

In the 1980s, Baen Books released a second edition. The third edition is the Author’s Cut edition, newly revised by the author for Perseid Press.

CACW

Captain America: Civil War is More Than a Slugfest

In the Silver Age of comics, when Marvel became a serious competitor for DC, there was a distinct contrast in the storytelling styles of the two publishers, especially in the team titles (DC’s Justice League of America and Marvel’s Avengers, primarily). While DC spent most of its comic panels on plotting, Marvel’s approach was something more like: “Forget this silly script treatment–let’s have somebody fight!”

The “Marvel Misunderstanding” subplot became an inside joke with comic book readers–when there were no supervillains handy, excuses were dreamed up to have Marvel’s heroes duke it out with each other.

CAIM

The difference between Marvel’s characters on the silver screen and in comic book pages is almost as drastic as the spy novels of Ian Fleming compared to the cinematic James Bond in the Roger Moore days. Still, we got a little “Marvel Misunderstanding” throwback in the first Avengers flick.

As the title of this movie (“Civil War”) suggests, most of the screen time is dedicated to fraternal conflict among Marvel’s big screen pantheon. But not due to a misunderstanding–because of a fundamental disagreement about “oversight.”

Collateral damage caused in the previous Marvel movies has caused various globalist interests to call for “hero control” (my term, thank-you).

Iron Man, at one point a free market capitalist hero, is now more of a corporatist bleeding heart who believes the answer is for the Avengers to be leashed by the United Nations. Now there is a brilliant quantum leap in logic: collateral damage caused by saving the planet from despotic monsters must be curbed by putting the good guys under the direct control of an organization with a horrific track record, run exclusively by unelected bureaucrats who don’t believe in representative government and are not accountable to any people anywhere in any way.

Introducing, in the red, white & blue corner: the Title Character! With him are Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Falcon and Ant Man,
Introducing, in the red, white & blue corner: the Title Character! With him are Scarlet Witch, Bucky (AKA the Winter Soldier), Hawkeye, Falcon and Ant Man,

On the other side is Captain America. He doesn’t spell it out like I did, but amazingly, he senses the danger in such an arrangement, that would make the problem they’re trying to solve even worse (which is pretty much the de facto purpose of the United Nations).

Interesting analyses can be drawn from this scenario. It can be a metaphor for the whole “gun control” struggle or, more broadly, the march toward police statehood, and the belated reaction to it by Americans who prefer to be free men, partly represented in the Trumpening. Again, it’s amazing how accurately Tony Stark and Steve Rogers represent their respective sides, considering Hollywood’s blatant myopic axe-grinding in every other movie touching on the subject.

Marvel’s done a great job with characterization and humor in their movies, and that continues here, even though this might be their most somber one yet. Suddenly there is a whole subplot regarding Stark’s parents which affects his frame of mind in this movie. Robert Downey Jr. pulls it off with his usual panache.

...And, in this corner...the Invincible Shellhead, with a record of one knockout, one not-so-bad sequel, and one idiotic swan song! Backing him up is Black Widow, Black Panther, the Vision...
…And, in this corner…the Invincible Iron Man, with a record of one knockout, one not-so-bad sequel, and one idiotic swan song! Backing him up is Black Widow, Black Panther, the Vision, and War Machine.

There’s a lot of character tweaking I found annoying, as a one-time comic afficionado. Of course, I quit reading comics as they became 100% SJW converged, so a lot has probably changed since then. Black Widow is about 20X more badass than in the comics I read, but she has been that way in all the movies, because vagina. It was cool to see Black Panther on the big screen, but he punches way above his weight here, too. But the most annoying is Spiderman.

Apparently the webslinger is getting yet another reboot. This time Peter Parker has a younger, attractive Aunt May, and is given his costume by Tony Stark who, somehow, has discovered his secret identity without ever having met him. Normally Spiderman would be the heavy hitter of all the heroes in this story (when the character was introduced by Stan Lee originally, only Thor, the Thing and the Hulk were stronger), but he is reduced mostly to comedy relief. The way he was brought in, and dismissed, makes him seem like just an afterthought in the script. Too bad, because the actor played him better than any other has, IMO.

spidermanshield
…With special guest cameo by Spiderman 3.1! Or is it Spiderman XP? Spiderman Vista?

Physical prowess is treated inconsistently in every superhero adaptation for big and small screen. Of course part of this is necessary to conform to the feminist aspect of The Narrative. Much of it is no doubt contrived to make scenes more dramatic. Then there is the star clout of Downey Jr., who frankly got more attention in this film than the title character did. Spiderman and Captain America are not played by actors worshipped to the degree he is; therefore the characters must be depicted as inferior to his, one way or the other.

In any case, most moviegoers don’t know much about the source material anyway, so this should be a fun diversion for a couple hours.

WW

The Latest Wonder Woman

Character reboots are commonplace these days. In a pop culture spectrum so bankrupt of creativity that the only movies produced anymore are remakes, sequels, adaptations (often of old TV shows that weren’t so good to begin with), thinly-disguised ripoffs of other movies (the Fast & Furious franchise started with a Point Break knockoff set in a fantasy streetracing scene; Avatar was Dances With Wolves in outer space, etc.) or an attempted fusion of previous successful movies; and the bulk of TV programming is some sort of lame “reality show” because the industry lacks the imagination to conceive anything more interesting, re-forming an established character in one’s own image is lauded as some sort of seminal breakthrough. Seems like comic book characters (one of the ores constantly mined by Hollywood) are revamped, and their histories revised, every 3-5 years.

The Social Justice League of America celebrates diversity. The blond-haired Aquaman just wasn't inclusive enough.
The Social Justice League of America celebrates diversity. The blond-haired Aquaman just wasn’t inclusive enough.

Wonder Woman is a character whose essence needs no revamping to fit the current Narrative being rammed down our throats incessantly. She fit that Narrative from her very debut in the 1940s. She was probably the very first Amazon Superninja to appear in American pop culture, and from the very beginning was intended to be a social conditioning propaganda tool. But despite all this, her inclusion in Dawn of Justice doesn’t bother me much.

Wonder Woman has been a member of DC’s superteam the Justice League going way back; and was a founding member of the “Justice Society of America” before that. She was good-to-go for the leftist pop-culture svengalis already, so they didn’t have to feminize an established male character or otherwise ruin the work of earlier creators.

GalGadot

Perhaps it is fitting that an exotic beauty was cast to play the Amazon. After all, she comes from “Paradise Island,” an all-female society closed off from the rest of the world since ancient times. So it’s appropriate that her accent sounds different from ours, and that she doesn’t look like a WASP. (However, it appears that DC/Hollywood also intends to ethnicize the Flash and Aquaman, which is getting annoying.)

Do you imagine it's an accident that the female is shown on point when physical combat is imminent; or that the males are merely guarding her flanks?
Do you imagine it’s an accident that the female is shown on point when physical combat is imminent; or that the males are merely guarding her flanks?

At some point after I quit reading comics, I guess Wonder Woman took to carrying a Bronze Age sword and shield, in addition to her golden lasso. This only makes sense, if she’s going to be fighting gargantuan baddies like Doomsday. What doesn’t make sense is that her ancient bronze shield can withstand a Kryptonian’s heat vision without a scratch, when heat vision slices through every other form of matter except other Kryptonians. Because vagina, I guess.

WWLindaCarterAnother development is that her red, white and blue colors have been replaced by some muddy red-brown metal flake scheme. This also makes sense. First of all, those colors represent oppression (college girls being forced to pay for their own birth control, for instance). Remember: WW was never an American in the first place. And all the big screen superheroes wear costumes with drab color schemes. Even Superman, who has never needed camouflage or to avoid attracting attention, wears a costume that looks like it’s gone a few months without being washed.

Might be hard to see here, but the dude just to the right of her looks a lot like a Native American. Explain THAT one.

I don’t know if this ties in with comic book revisionism, or is original to this screenplay, but Wonder Woman is apparently a WWI veteran now. Bruce Wayne/Batman finds an old photograph from 1918 that shows her with an odd assortment of guerillas (in Belgium, if memory serves).

gal-gadot-as-Diana-Prince-1024x694
Diana Prince looks even better in the red dress when Bruce Wayne first meets her…but I couldn’t find an image of that.

Maybe the most interesting thing about Wonder Woman in this movie is how Gal Gadot’s performance fits into a red pill socio-sexual understanding. Gadot is far more attractive as Diana Prince than as the Amazon heroine. Upon reflection, it’s obvious why: she is very feminine when incognito in the secret identity, as opposed to her super-identity as an extremely masculine brawler with tits.

WWshield
“I just don’t understand why I can’t get dates!”

Only fetishists, white knights and sexual deviants find such a gender-bent individual even remotely attractive; no matter how much skin she shows or how well she fills out a skimpy costume.

dawnofjustice

Batman Vs. Superman is a Mixed-Bag Epic

And I do mean “epic” in the classic sense. The Lex Luthor character (more on him later) can’t stop reminding us that Superman is a god; that he must battle against man; and Lex makes repeated references to Greek mythology that must have also been on the minds of Siegel and Schuster when they dreamed up their “super-man” some 80 years ago.

By the end of the movie, the last son of Krypton does prove himself to be a Messiah figure of sorts…again.

Mythology was certainly on Frank Miller’s mind some 30 years ago when he set about changing the Batman mythos forever. Big-screen Batman adaptations have paid homage to The Dark Knight Returns since 1989. But none more than this one. The showdown between the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader was ripped almost directly from Miller’s mini-series. Both the catalyst and the result were different, and the Batman was determined to win this time (rather than intentionally taking a dive and faking his own death as in Miller’s yarn).

Retro Batman costume on the left; powered armor on the right which he wore to battle Superman in this movie and in Dark Knight Returns.
Retro Batman costume on the left; powered armor on the right which he wore to battle Superman in this movie and in Dark Knight Returns.

Also, having been something of a superhero afficionado up until the time of Dark Knight Returns, I am pretty confident that Miller was the first one to overtly depict Superman as an earth-bound god.

Dawn of Justice is a symphony of spectacular destruction with a lot going for it. First of all, as desperate as they must be to duplicate the success of their rival, DC did not cut-and-paste the Marvel Studios formula and insert their own characters. I was a little worried that a Justice League flick might be a thinly-veiled Avengers clone (and the next one might very well prove to be), so kudos to DC for telling their own story about their three all-time most stalwart characters.

Second, although there were smatterings of action along the way, the director opted for a slow, tense build toward the epic finale. It reminds me somewhat of how Akira Kurosawa paced some of my favorite samurai films, driving viewers to the edge of their seats, begging for an explosive, violent extravaganza to settle the conflict. (And boy, this movie delivers, with the stunning visuals and rip-snorting special effects comic book fans want in a film adaptation, but were simply not possible technologically until relatively recently.)

galgadotMy reaction to the casting leans positive. Superman/Clark Kent was portrayed well–it’s a darker, edgier Superman than the historical model, but the actor pulls it off adequately. His physical movements do seem a bit stiff, however. The actress who plays Wonder Woman/Diana Prince also did quite well, though she is such exquisite eye candy that her acting is something of an afterthought to a red-blooded heterosexual male. I have a lot to say about her (the character, more than the actress) that I’ll probably reserve for a seperate post. And the hot topic ever since casting was first announced, of course, is Batman/Bruce Wayne. It’s really not as bad as some might fear. I would have preferred someone other than Michael Keaton in 1989; and I would have preferred someone other than Ben Affleck in 2016. However, Affleck did OK. He was much less situationally aware (especially during fight scenes) than the Batman of comic book canon…but really, all the screen versions of the character have been.

I already mentioned that the tension builds quite nicely to the climax; but the plot is not without its weaknesses. The whole thing seems like a forced contrivance if you examine it too closely. And the flashbacks/dreams/visions were a touch overdone–with the Batman, particularly. Superman does undertake a successful vision quest in the midst of the film, which I would have appreciated more, had I not already been overexposed to the unnecessary (and at one point, confusing) visions/nightmares/flashbacks of Bruce Wayne.batmanvssuperman

There were some impediments to the suspension of disbelief. For instance: if nuclear weapons work differently in this alternate universe (where masked vigilantes and “meta-humans” exist) than they do in our universe, then that should really be established beforehand.

Every director wants to put his/her “own stamp” on the material s/he’s adapting, and this movie was no exception. This is unfortunate with regards to two characters in particular.

ALFRED: Certainly the character has evolved. Again, the first and biggest step may have been in Miller’s mini-series when he revealed that the Wayne’s butler was a “combat medic” who apparently was a Wayne household staple all Bruce’s life, instead of coming on the scene after the war on crime began and discovering Bruce’s nocturnal activities later. The Gotham TV show took it another step by making Alfred a former British Commando who teaches young Bruce how to fight. And this movie picks up from there, basically turning Alfred into Batman’s command center, and at times the brains of the operation. Yawn. Maybe the transformation of Alfred into Jarvis will be completed in the next character reboot and he’ll simply be an artificial intelligence in the Batcomputer with a British accent. Neither comic book writers nor Hollywood directors ever tire of fixing what’s not broken.

MARK ZUCKERBERG I mean LEX LUTHOR: I’m not sure if the actor was trying to channel Heath Ledger’s Joker performance or Jim Carey’s abysmal Riddler interpretation. Whatever he was going for, it was lame. Luthor has historically been an evil genius, and that is how the character works best. Some left-wing “visionary” in the 1980s turned him into an evil capitalist caraciture from Karl Marx’s dystopian fantasies, and over time the criminal genius aspect of the character has been forgotten. With this movie the next step has been forced in his devolution, so that now he is an evil capitalist LUNATIC with an abusive father, tortured childhood, blah blah blah. Certainly there are supervillains which this cliche fits. Lex Luthor is not one of them.

Oh yeah: there’s also another bad choice in this category.

SOME SENATOR WITH A WEIRD VOICE: A character made necessary only by an unnecessary subplot that was tacked on and is redundant of the Batman’s motive for opposing Superman. She’s a Democrat who is the opposite of any real-life Democrat (she’s concerned about individual rights, Constitutional limitations on power, etc.) but exactly the image Democrats attempt to portray to the gullible electorate. And the masquerade usually succeeds, with the abettment of the press, academia and pop culture (including/especially Hollywood).

There’s a lot more I could say about Dawn of Justice, but this should be enough information for you to decide whether it’s worth the time and ticket price. Wonder Woman will get her own post.

defectiran

The Puppies are Coming! A Preview of the 2016 Hugo Awards

It’s almost that time again, folks: the next battle in the Hugo Wars (a subset of the culture war at large).

What started as a joke by Larry Correia criticizing the Cultural Marxist Cabal that hijacked sci-fi/fantasy publishing, fandom, and the Hugo Awards in particular, has blossomed into a revolution on one front of pop culture.

SJWs can’t make up their hive mind whether the Narrative should paint the puppies as pathetic ankle-biters of laughable significance, or beastly Hun savages assaulting the Ramparts of Progress, threatening the very existence of humanity. Usually they’ll make both arguments in the same screed.

Last year it was more difficult to laugh off the Puppies, since pink SF/F was mostly supplanted by non-SJW nominations in the 2015 Hugos. Pinkshirts reacted predictably with the nuclear “no award” option, since they would rather nobody win a Hugo than see one awarded to a book that doesn’t conform to The Narrative.

The latest Virtual Pulp video has just gone live on Hank Brown’s Youtube page. It should help you put the whole controversy in perspective.

ghostbusters

Ghostbusters HAD to Be Remade

Captain Capitalism is confident the latest gyno-reboot (titled Ghostbusters) will flop:

For those of us who aren’t in the echo chamber of Hollywood and the media, we see this movie for what it is – a truly inferior, slipshod affirmative action piece that is so blatant in its pandering towards “team woman” it’s pretty much insulting everybody. It’s so bad even avid consumers of “Round House Kicking Chick Cop Shows” aren’t swallowing it, as evidenced by its trailer receiving  more downvotes than a Hitler speech in a synagogue.

Not only does Hollywood lack the imagination to produce anything that hasn’t already been done, but they are compelled to feminize or sodomize it in the process. I wonder if Cappy’s right about its rightful failure, though. The Force Awakens is nothing but a remake of A New Hope, feminized and with updated special effects; yet sheeple poured into theaters by the millions to further their feminist indoctrination. Same with the so-called Mad Max movie, wasn’t it?

Yes, your average American is an idiot.  And yes, your average American woman can be sold a bill of goods if you merely slap the label of “rah rah female” on it.  But what Sony did was take a hallmark of American culture, a genuine apolitical cinematic classic that young and old hold dear to their hearts, and shit all over it with politics.

Here I slightly disagree: the original Ghostbusters movie, if you analyze it carefully, celebrates the free market with a strong capitalist message: A team of hardworking entrepreneurs recognize an unmet need in the market; launch a business tailored to meet that need; perservere through a dry period, at first, getting the business off the ground; find their big break via a client desperate enough to try something new and radical to solve his problem; their business explodes into insane profits…then some self-important government bureacrat strangles the industry with regulation and the entire city is plunged into violent chaos as a result.

There is no way Hollywood could leave a message like that intact, even when most people fail to recognize it.

DaredevilNetflix

Daredevil on Netflix

So far, there is only one season’s worth of episodes on Netflix. I watched them all to the end without puking. I do admit to some groans and eye-rolls, but grading on the curve, that’s an A+ for a superhero (or, frankly, any) TV show these days.

First of all, in a genre with more reboots than a week’s worth of using Microsux Winblows, the series was fairly faithful to the source material. Remember, Daredevil hit the crimefighting stage in the 1960s. So first of all, everything had to be transposed to this millennium.

I’ll get the eye-rolls out of the way first.

SpidermanKingpin

(BTW, I remember the Kingpin being one of Spiderman’s enemies. Maybe Frank Miller switched him over?)

In today’s obsession with gray areas, flawed heroes and sympathetic villains, I guess it was just too tempting for the writers not to try to show the Kingpin’s humanity.

Sometimes these apologetics work. In this instance it was really unnecessary.

Some villains are just crooked, okay? The darker side of human nature is to lust after wealth/ power, and to build one’s own twisted version of morality in order to justify those lusts. The scumbags of the world either see themselves as heroes or victims (often both), and always have an excuse handy for what they do. You don’t need to help them make excuses.

Scheming crime lord, or misunderstood idealistic recluse?
Scheming crime lord, or misunderstood idealistic recluse?

I’ll only mention one more annoyance: the creative team behind Daredevil obviously felt obliged to lament the revolution in media every chance they got. In fact, the reporter character (Ben Urich) really serves no better purpose in the series.

He’s an icon–a symbol of journalistic integrity that the left-wing propagandist tools of the mainstream media would have you believe motivates them. The great tragedy is that since the flow of information has been democratized via the Internet, people have options and are turning away from the Lapdog Press; perusing alternative sources looking for the truth.

The truth that the mainstream media routinely attempts to suppress (and before the Internet, they were consistently successful).

The Daredevil writers (via their Ben Urich character) whine about the demise of Marxist (“mainstream”) newspapers, and complain that inferior proletarian slobs “blogging in their underwear” are responsible. They also seem to believe that those unwashed bloggers are getting filthy rich from doing it.

There was one similar rant in Arrow that I remember, but in this series, once was evidently not enough.

The series is just sloppin' over with eye candy. And the cinematography/effects ain't bad, either.
The series is just sloppin’ over with eye candy. And the cinematography/effects ain’t bad, either.

If you can ignore elements like those two eye-rolls summarized above (and I’m sure 99% of folks do), then this is actually a decent series so far. Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Claire Temple and the other supporting characters are likeable. The action is mixed in well. The fight scenes are not bad for TV.

SInce the dark days of the 70s, Marvel’s efforts at live-action adaptation has undergone a tremendous overhaul. The Daredevil series certainly meets current Marvel Studios standards, and is an immense improvement over the big-screen effort of a few years ago.

Of the three different superhero-inspired series I’ve critiqued this month, this is the only one I intend to continue following.

Gotham on Netflix

Continuing with my superhero miniseries, I now turn to the latest reboot of the Batman mythos.

First off, as I pointed out in Superheroes and The Narrative:

…Frankly, you have to hand it to the pop culture svengalis because it takes talent to sell an aspect of The Narrative as oxymoronic as feminism (that women are superior to heterosexual men in every way, yet simultaneously oppressed victims of them).

That’s not the only difficult task they’ve cut out for themselves.–they’ve taken the Batman and turned him into a blatant oxymoron which gets swallowed whole by millions.

Let’s not forget that the Batman is A VIGILANTE. He’s a wealthy, Batman Destroys the Monkproperty-owning individual who recognizes that the so-called criminal justice system is hopelessly broken. He dedicates his life to disciplined training for a one-man war against the criminal class. Using his own capital, he arms and equips himself for the war. Once he reaches his physical prime, he circumvents the authority of the state and deals out justice personally, concealing his identity from both the criminal underworld and the corrupt system. In the beginning he wasn’t afraid to terminate scumbags with extreme prejudice, and at least once used firearms to do so.

You can’t get much more right-wing than that.

And yet, after Robin was first introduced in the early 1940s, Gotham City took a turn for the bizarre. Batman became a de facto officer in the Gotham PD, working so closely with Commissioner Gordon that one wonders why he bothered to keep his identity secret. You can see the transformation visually in the appearance of his costume, BTW.

The Batman assumed his disguise to strike fear into the hearts of criminals--"a superstitious, cowardly lot."
The Batman assumed his disguise to strike fear into the hearts of criminals–”a superstitious, cowardly lot.”
A kinder, gentler vigilante.
A kinder, gentler vigilante.

So…he’s a vigilante, but he works with the system. Oh, he’s gone through phases in which he is hunted by the cops, but it never lasts long and it’s usually as a result of him being framed by an enemy. He’s also become quite the anti-gun activist.

antigunBatmanSince at least the 1980s, the writers at DC have become more bold about inserting their leftist worldview into the comics. (The latest movie trilogy was a pleasant surprise, except for the last one, depending on perspective. If you’re a “law and order” cuckservative/Rino/NeoCon you probably thought the underlying message in Dark Knight Rises was just great.)

So what you have is an anarchist character who is written to be an agent of the state, and most passionate about collectivist causes (gun control, the dangers of privacy, etc.). He’s also a capitalist operating with nigh-autonomy, in a fantasy world where the free market is the problem, and autonomy should be exclusive to leftist politicians.

It takes some talented snake oil salesmen to peddle this stuff; and it takes some gullible chumps to swallow it without question.

Having said that, on to the TV series. I’ll list pros and cons.

PRO: This series has the best performances I’ve seen by a child actor playing the young Bruce Wayne.

ThePenguin_01
The classic Penguin–that paragon of perfidy with a parasol…that bumbershoot bandit with a belly…

CON: In this show Oswald Cobblepot (AKA the Penguin) has more in common with the horrible Tim Burton character revamp than with the Penguin of the comics (at least the first half-century of the comics). In fact, this characterization might be worse: Cobblepot is petulant, impulsive, and sometimes downright stupid. Hardly the stuff supervillains are made of. His segments get tiresome to watch after a few episodes. And was the creepy mother fixation really necessary?

Tim Burton's Penguin--basically a disgusting zombie raised by real-life penguins.
Tim Burton’s Penguin–basically a disgusting zombie raised by real-life penguins.

PRO: Young detective Gordon is played very well, though the actor’s voice gets increasingly raspy–like he’s auditioning to play the part of Batman.

CON: Bruce Wayne doesn’t become Batman until he reaches adulthood, right? In this series he’s still a child…and yet the writers seem determined to have every single character in the Batman universe cross paths when Bruce Wayne is pre-pubescent. This is becoming a typical plotting fetish when these superhero franchises are rebooted, and it wasn’t all that clever the first few times. Plus it just isn’t credible. Only so much disbelief can be suspended for the more intelligent viewers, so save your improbable points for stuff like, you know, an unarmed dude with no superpowers attacking gangs of armed criminals, dodging all their bullets and vanquishing them with his bare hands.

PRO: The exception to the foolishness of the fetish summarized above is the early development of Edward Nygma (AKA the Riddler). Making the pre-Riddler E. Nygma a forensic technician for the Gotham Police may just have been a stroke of genius. Some might even find him likeable, in a nerd/loser way. The writers/directors have built for themselves an opportunity here to mold a very solid, credible villain via a patient character arc.

CON: Alfred is now a British SpecOps vet. Really? Facepalm. He’s a butler, okay?

Ooh, scary! Another Hollywod badass.
Ooh, scary! Another Hollywod badass.

CON: Selena Kyle (AKA Catwoman) is a child, who personally meets and befriends the child Bruce Wayne many years before they grow up to have a kinky love/hate cat/mouse (flying mouse, that is) relationship in masks and tights. Holy overused plot gimmick, Batman. And of course at 12 years old (or whatever) “Cat” is a badass streetwise thug-with-a-heart-of-gold who pulls little Brucie’s fat out of the fire any time the writers can dream up an excuse to contrive it. Oh yeah, both of them also know the young girl who will grow up to become Poison Ivy. Holy ho-hum.

Now here's a villainess to wrap your arms around.
Now here’s a villainess to wrap your arms around.

CON: Maybe you’ve noticed we’re missing something. Where are all the sympathetic sodomites? Are the cultural svengalis slipping? Ah, never fear: no less than James Gordon’s future wife (and future mother of Batgirl) is now AC/DC. Her erstwhile rug-munching buddy is one of only two honest cops on the Gotham PD when Jim Gordon joins the force. Hmm. I’m not sure they went far enough–maybe she should be a war hero, too. There’s all sorts of potential checkboxes to choose from in the Perversion Peddling Playbook.

The cultural svengalis are in lock step and their Narrative is as predictable, ultimately, as how any given post-season will end for the Minnesota Vikings. They may lull you into complacency with some good writing, good acting, good whatever for a while, but only so they can sucker-punch you once your guard is down..