The Massive Volume 1: Black Pacific
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Kristian Donaldson, Garry Brown, Dave Stewart, and Brian Wood
2013, Dark Horse Comics
What do you do when you’re a member of a radical direct action environmental organization and the world really does collapse? This is the question at the heart of the story in The Massive as members of Ninth Wave face the world during a massive eco-social-environmental cataclysm. Ninth Wave, easily a stand in for Sea Shepherd, is comprised of an international crew aboard the Kapital and its missing sister ship the Massive. Volume 3 of the trade paperback was released in early July 2014—this review will look at Volume 1 and contain a few possible SPOILERS to that collection. This volume mostly serves as an introduction to the world and characters, so I don’t think I’ll be giving too much of the overall story arch away.
Set in the current era, the cataclysm depicted in The Massive is one of global climate change. Taken as individual occurrences these events could be ripped from the headlines of today: massive storms across the worlds oceans, unusual seismic activity, mass suicides and die offs of marine life, changes to wind patterns, unusual snowfall and changes to wind patterns. The results are worldwide coastal flooding, loss of power to hugely populated areas, and the destabilization of almost all world governments. This happens in less than a year, and perhaps most amazingly, the world actually takes notice.
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Spec Ops: The Line
2k Games, 2012
What always stands out to me with Spec Ops (which is, I have to be clear, one of my favorite games of all time) is how distinctly no fun it is. My first introduction to the game, as I wrote over at The Border House, came from playing it in my Brooklyn apartment during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and in my Border House essay I wrote at length about the strangeness and guilt of playing a game about a virtual disaster while an actual disaster raged outside my door. I think the situation played a lot into how powerfully the game affected me, especially in regards to these tragic notions of helping and guilt–Walker and his squad go to Dubai to help and basically end up killing everyone. They can’t not kill everyone; it’s a game, after all, and the main actions you have at your disposal are “shoot,” “pick up new thing to shoot,” “lob things that are basically variations on shoot,” and “cower behind a wall while you think of new ways to employ shooting.” I usually don’t mind these actions, especially when I’m looking to a game for some mindless fun, but in the narrative and emotional context of Spec Ops and my frame of mind when I first played it, I had never wanted to shoot less. I hated shooting. I relished the moments when my character would auto reload so I had an excuse to not be able to shoot. My initial experience with the game became a breathless, miserable slog, where every new arena had me whimpering “no no no” as I heard the AI gear up for another battle.
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The Forever War
by Joe Haldeman
1974, St. Martin’s Press
As far as I know, The Forever War is basically the antiwar sci-fi novel. Between it and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, you’ve got the “why it sucks to go to war” pretty well covered.
Written in 1974 and based on Haldeman’s experience as a draftee in Vietnam, The Forever War uses science fiction’s potential to its artistic fullest—he takes an element of war he’d like to describe (the alienation of returning home) and exaggerates it for effect with science.
In the world of The Forever War, the battles are taking place lightyears away from each other and from Earth. And despite a series of wormholes scattered throughout the galaxy, ships are required to travel for months or years at a time through regular space at near the speed of light. Which, for those science fans following along, means time dilation. While only months go by for the people aboard the ships, years, decades, even centuries pass on earth. After every raid, soldiers return to a completely different world. The moral? You can never go home.
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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (2010-present)
created by Lauren Faust
Recommended? Hells, yeah.
Bechdel Test: Every episode passes with flying rainbow colors and the occasional “sonic rainboom”.
I have a not-so-secret secret, which is my great enthusiasm for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. If I was a more bashful person, I’d be embarrassed about my borderline obsession. But I’m not. You’ll find me talking ponies to the dudeliest of dude-bros, defending my love for a kids’ animated television series about magic, friendship, and little horses. And I’m not the only adult on board; there a plenty of “bronies” to back me up.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is the latest iteration of the My Little Pony franchise. Having been a girl growing up in the ’80s during MLP’s first major reign (rein?), I was attracted to the new show for nostalgic reasons and due to a smattering of good reviews from fellow nerds. I started watching it while recovering from a mean infection, and it quickly became my source for cheer, energy, and optimism. A year later, I re-watch episodes when I’m feeling down, because Friendship is Magic is, well, magical.
Continue reading My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (2010)
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Recommended? Definitely add to your pull list
When it comes to pushing the boundaries of the media representation of socially marginalized groups, DC and Marvel Comics aren’t the first two companies that spring to mind. Recent controversies out of DC have certainly not helped, such as DC’s call for sexualized suicide images of Harley Quinn, or how Batwoman’s creative team quit after DC refused to let Batwoman marry her partner Maggie Sawyer.
These incidents, in addition to years of absurd outfits (I mean really, what’s up with Power Girl’s boob window, or damn near anything Emma Frost has ever worn? Those outfits deny all laws of nature and certainly aren’t made for super-powered fights.) and “Liefeldian” body-proportions that no skeleton could possibly support have resigned many comic fans to the belief that Marvel and DC just can’t, or aren’t willing to, give us heroes from marginalized groups that are written or drawn as well as their white male counterparts.
Continue reading Ms. Marvel
Director: Denis Hennelly
Writers: Denis Hennelly and Sarah Adina Smith
Bechdel Test? I think fail, somewhat surprisingly
There ain’t no justice, just us.
That’s always been one of my favorite anarcho-cliches. And it’s one of the central themes of this low-key apocalypse romantic drama.
Yes, that’s right. It’s an apocalypse movie about thirty-something mostly-white all-hetero couple drama. And I kind of loved it.
For a long time I’ve been saying the problem with movies is they try to be like OMG it’s the biggest deal ever and everything is explosions! and so I’ve been advocating for a post-apoc rom-com. This isn’t very post the apocalypse and it’s not much com in its rom, but I still kind of feel like I got what I was hoping for.
Continue reading Goodbye World (2013)
The Wild Hunt (2009)
Directed by: Alexandre Franchi
Written by: Alexandre Franchi and Mark Antony Krupa
Recommended? A hesitant yes.
Bechdel Test: Fail
The Wild Hunt is a Canadian drama-thriller that tells the story of a LARP-turned-Stanford-Prison-Experiment gone dreadfully wrong. A non-gamer crashes his brother’s Live-Action Role-Playing (LARP) game to “rescue” his girlfriend, and the situation spirals into a Shakespearean tragedy reminiscent of grotesque, gut-wrenching emo music. The movie is dark. Dark, dark, dark. Did I mention it’s dark? When you look up its IMDB movie keywords, the third is “attempted rape.” Consider that a major trigger warning.
All that aside, I’ve watched this movie three times in the past three months. I’m attracted to The Wild Hunt‘s affecting cinematography, its exploration of an unsettling human nature, and, of course, its rad LARP gameworld.
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Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall
Harebrained Studios, 2014
Recommended: Without question
Summary: Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall is a fun, incredibly well-written computer roleplaying game that takes place in a good-guy-anarchists-against-evil-megacorporations future. It nods to punk anti-fascism; it makes fun of state communists; there are multiple, non-sexualized homosexual relationships; and there’s awesome German graffiti everywhere in the background. So yes, I like this game. It didn’t get everything perfect, but it got a hell of a lot right.
There’s always going to be a place in my heart for Shadowrun. I think I was in fourth grade when a friend introduced me to the world for the first time, handing me the second edition core book. There on the cover were a bunch of punk humans and elves, hacking a computer terminal in the middle of a gunfight.
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Into the Forest
by Jean Hegland
1996, Dial Press
I was lying in bed sick.
“Hey,” I said to my friend, “what book should I read?”
“Have you read Into the Forest?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“Read that,” he said. “Post-apocalypse.”
“Is it going to be like The Road?” I asked. I was sick. I didn’t want to read something as doom and gloom as The Road.
“Not really,” he said.
I’m glad I decided to believe him, even if I’m not sure he was telling the truth.
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Vikings, Season 1
2013, The History Channel
It’s a show called Vikings. It’s a drama. The protagonists are vikings. They hit people with swords and axes and they sail around in longships and kill Christians and take slaves. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and the acting is remarkable. The writing wavers from good to great. The historical accuracy is not particularly high but is better than some people are giving the show credit for.
And it’s about vikings.
You’re either going to want to watch the show or not based on that. There’s little I would want to do to convince you otherwise.
What’s the show about? As I watch it, it’s a show about death. It’s not gory like a war film. The death in it is not by large glorious, not even gratuitous. But the show is about death, and the emotional toll of death, viewed from outside the Christian/Atheist lens chosen by most of the media we’re presented with.
Continue reading Vikings, Season 1