Archive for the ‘Threat Quality’ Category

BvD1I haven’t done one of these in a while, because honestly, recommendations generally aren’t necessary, at least in extended blog format. The moment you see something you like, either you tweet it or mention it on Facebook, or you text the person you think would like it, or some other site writes a thing on it and all you have to do is share a link.

But guys, Dracula kicked the everliving crap out of Batman in a cartoon made for kids and I feel like not enough of you know that.   (more…)

Riot Girl Comics 2

Posted: October 27, 2013 in Braak, comic books, Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

I am still practicing at the ART, so one day maybe I will be good enough to make my comic, which is going to be the best fucking comic ever you guys.  RIOT GIRL is 100% AWESOME.

Anyway, here are some sketches.

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Holland

Response to the Breaking Bad finale has been interesting in its lack of consensus despite its sense of finality, even Breaking Badamong those who thought it hit the mark (which is most reviewers, really). By which I mean, unlike an ambiguous end (Sopranos, or even Lost), there’s not a lot to debate, plotwise.

But particularly telling are those thinkpieces that seem disappointed or betrayed that Walter White “got away with it,” or that he wasn’t sufficiently punished for his many and varied crimes.

That line of thought is, perhaps, slightly reductive. This show doesn’t have the moral of “Crime Does Not Pay,” it never did. Its central conceit is “Actions Have Consequences.” And thinking in moral absolutes doesn’t really deal with all the aspects of the show, including the fact that as much as it’s about moral decay and a slow reveal of one man’s own monstrous nature (and creative color schemes), it was also a crackerjack crime thriller.

That Walt’s return to town, grizzled and hollow, his only companions a pile of money and a gigantic machine gun, his only comfort thoughts of final vengeance, harkens back to the climax of a western is no accident. Breaking Bad only started in something resembling reality, but its heart has always been a pulp thriller, and this final season (both parts) has had westerns on its mind a lot.

So yes, the protagonist does get to go out on his own fatalistic terms, more or less. He takes out his enemies, he leaves provisions for his family, and he even reaches some kind of resolution with his student, tense as it may be (more on that in a moment). When he lies down to die, he does so surrounded by his legacy.

But jesus christ, the cost of that “victory” was so staggeringly huge that it’s hard to see it as a “win” of any kind unless we’re seriously stretching the definition. The man destroyed his own family while claiming to help them. He abused and implicated his wife and cost her her home. His brother-in-law is dead. His son will undoubtedly spend the rest of his life trying to shed the name “Walter White, Jr.” Holly will grow up wondering why they never, ever talk about Dad. Even his own name will be forgotten, replaced by the nightmare alter-ego: Heisenberg. Oh, they got the money? Hooray.

And look at the blast radius, the sheer number of people dead because Walter White couldn’t grasp a basic scientific truth: for every action, a reaction. Things he can’t possibly foresee because he believes he has absolute control. Collateral damage like Mike’s granddaughter and Brock.

There are only two real victories here. The first, Walter’s final admission to Skyler that all of this wasn’t because of family, but his own ego. This long-delayed self-reflection allows Walt to do the one thing that’s been clear to everyone over the years, things they’ve told him to his face: Walter White needs to die.

Though that’s really only the half of it. Walter’s a cancer, and that cancer has spread. So everyone connected: Todd, his uncle and crew, Lydia…all of them have to go too. That final shootout and Lydia’s poisoning are Walter cutting out the poison from his world as decisively as he can.

Which leads us to victory number 2: Jesse Pinkman, a guy who’s suffered immeasurably because of Walt’s insatiable Breaking Bad Jesseneed for power and control. To Walt – at least, until he realizes the bullet in his gut will probably do the job by itself – Jesse is also the only one who can end his reign of destruction. After all, the kid’s earned this last shot, right?

Except once again, Walt doesn’t understand Jesse’s needs. One last time, he mistakes what he’d want – final revenge – for what Jesse wants, and what he finally takes: A life free of Walter White’s influence. He refuses Walt’s final request to shoot him, and gets away like a bat out of hell.

Jesse Pinkman gets away, and to me that seems like a minor miracle.

Maybe the ultimate punishment isn’t enough for Walter. Maybe it isn’t fair that when he lies down to die, he thinks he’s “fixed” things well enough, never grasping the weight of his deeds to the satisfaction of the audience.

The end result is that Walter White can’t hurt anyone else, and Jesse Pinkman is free to find a better life. And no one became a secret lumberjack.

And that’s gonna have to be good enough for everyone.

Holland

Previously, on REVOLUTION, a show NBC was so proud of that it decided to take a six-month break, then was surprised when everyone kind of forgot about it …

Rev1Billy Burke and The Cape were STILL punching each other and then telling each other they’re brothers; Google Pete wrote a special machine code to get the nanobots floating in the air (yeah, it turned out it was nanobots) to stop suppressing electricity, they killed off one of their two minority characters (the explosion lady), Gus Fring took control of the army, and Colm Fiore revealed himself to be an emissary of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES before launching nukes at Philly and Atlanta, then killing himself, because he was on 24 once and he knows how it is done.

And Tracy Spiradakos nearly, NEARLY managed to find a third facial expression, which she tried out after watching Fiore shoot himself in the head. It looked kind of, but not entirely, like mild annoyance mixed with being grossed out.

If all this seems unusually fresh in my memory, it’s because I watched the season finale on Netflix just now in anticipation of the season 2 premier. Wait, not anticipation. Cautious curiosity, I suppose?

See, over the summer, Eric Kripke – remember when this show was billed as being the brainchild of Kripke and J.J. Abrams? Well, like most shows with Abrams attached, he seems to no longer be attached – basically sided with the viewers that they had made a series of errors. Minor things like “The story is dumb” and “Who gives a shit about nanobots?” and “Wasn’t the whole point of this show to be a world without power, so why are there fucking helicopters everywhere?” and “Why is everyone so clean-looking?”  (more…)

Holland

Look, I won’t lie: I am exactly the audience for ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (hereafter known as SHIELD before I go nuts typing). The flipping panels and then the big red Marvel logo kicking things off got me giddy despite myself.

SHIELD-castBut that’s not to say I was blindly behind the show, far from it. For one thing, in my mind, if you do a SHIELD show, it should look like the spy-fi Steranko book from the 60’s, by which I mean it should kind of look like The Prisoner. And, well, we knew that wasn’t gonna happen. The closest ABC could ever get to that was Alias, and they’re not going to go ahead and remake Alias.

The long and short of it is, SHIELD feels slightly manufactured, which isn’t a surprising criticism when you consider all the corporate hands on it. It could stand to be a little weirder, a little looser, a little more visually stimulating than, say, your standard episode of Modern Family. It could probably stand about 10% of Joss Whedon’s last TV project, Dollhouse, with all its implausible sci-fi brain-tech and bad behavior, in its DNA.

But that’s also something I quite liked about SHIELD, particularly in contrast to my memories of Dollhouse. Unlike the latter – which is easily Whedon’s most crushingly pessimistic project, a series that went from “Lead goes undercover as back-up for a pop-singer” to “Well, the world’s pretty much been destroyed” in very few steps – SHIELD presents a fairly optimistic worldview, one I’m perfectly willing to tune into for now. (more…)

Holland

There will be spoilers, guys. For this show and a bunch of shows it cribs from.

blacklist 1As I watched the pilot for The Blacklist, I was amazed at how many borrowed elements were going into the makeup of this show. Then the main character straight-up pulled a prop from Revenge up from the floorboards and I was preeetty sure someone was punking me.

I mean, it’s a wooden box with a mysterious brand engraved on the lid – a brand (in this case a scar, rather than a tattoo) also found on the heroine’s wrist. I mean, that is one of the Big Things on Revenge. In the floorboards and everything. That is just nuts.  (more…)

braak

UGGGGGGGGGHHHHH

220px-Ichabod_B_Crane

Ichabod B. Crane, USMC

I guess I am prejudiced against this show, for a variety of reasons.  First, because it turns out Roberto Orci is a spectacular dickhead, and now I instinctively hope that he will fail in all of his endeavours in perpetuity.  Secondly, because the previews promised me CLANCY FUCKING BROWN, and then chopped his head off in the first five minutes of the show.  (Oh, right.  Spoiler.  Fuck you.)  Thirdly, I guess because I just hate anything that smells like 90s monster-of-the-week action shows.

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Holland

SLeepy HollowSo…Ichabod Crane chops off a Redcoat’s head during the Revolutionary War, is buried by his witch wife, wakes up 250-odd years later after the Headless Horseman arises in Sleepy Hollow (and chops off a few heads), teams up with a resourceful deputy and together they learn they’re about to enter into a vast conspiracy of biblical prophecies and historical oddities encoded in George Washington’s secret bible.

That’s the in and out of SLEEPY HOLLOW, a show I simply assumed would be too stupid to enjoy as anything other than “Ohh, these pilots keep getting sillier, don’t they?” tongue-clucking. But no. Through an irritating combination of decent-enough acting, competent direction, a solid-enough budget to keep this from looking like a backdoor pilot from an episode of SUPERNATURAL, and dialogue that suggests the showrunners know just how silly all this is – and also the brief  presence of Clancy Brown, who, like sea salt, makes everything just slightly better – this was actually a fairly enjoyable hour of pilot.

Unfortunately, it’s also next to impossible to say what this show will be like on a week-to-week basis.  (more…)

Thoughts on Labor Day

Posted: September 2, 2013 in Threat Quality
Tags: , , ,
braak

It’s not real hard to figure out why the labor movement in the US is probably doomed in perpetuity.  It’s built right into the way we think about labor.  Watch, we’ll do a thought experiment.

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Holland

John LennonJohn LennonIf you had not spotted this, apparently a Canadian dentist, Dr. Michael Zuk, has announced plans to sequence John Lennon’s DNA, based on a rotten molar he bought off auction for $31,000, with the ultimate goal of (his words here), “bringing back one of rock’s greatest stars.”

Now, I don’t want to be a Simon Science-Bad or Nelly No-Clones or anything here, but I’m going to go ahead and say this is only going to end in tears, for a few reasons.

Problem 1: Cloning’s not a thing we can do.

This seems obvious, so that’s why it’s first. That dude wants to spend $31,000 on pipe dreams, howzabout he pays off the rest of my student loans and we can start dreaming together while dancing around in our solid-gold shoes?

But then again, Dr. Zuk is a Canadian dentist. Who just laid down $31,000 on a diseased fossilized tooth, so maybe we shouldn’t take this off the table right away. What with their universal healthcare, are they further along in the cloning-race than the good old U.S. of Original Human Beings A? Oh my god, is universal healthcare in Canada based on Parts: The Clonus Horror?!

Get on that, fresh new controversy, Salon.com, while I get to the other problems.

Problem 2: The tooth.

This particular tooth, upon which mad science is about to be zapped, is a rotten molar Lennon lost in the early 60’s and gave to his housekeeper (y’know, like you do), who gave it to her son and yada yada yada now a Canadian cloning enthusiast has it.  (more…)