Movie Review: Black Panther

I have said on more than one occasion that politics in entertainment is reprehensible. It takes escapist media that is supposed to pull you out of the world and reminds you of all the worst parts. Creators and committees have ruined comics, movies, and videogames to push a Left leaning agenda onto consumers. Art has become propaganda and as I have mentioned many times, I have abandoned media I used to enjoy. Try as I might, I cannot escape this topic nor avoid bringing it up.

I was reminded we cannot have nice things with the initial reactions to Black Panther. Most of it was beyond the pale of mental illness from Blue Hairs and Soy Boys alike. Guilt tripping, virtue signaling, and reverse racism are a few terms to describe the press the film received since details first surfaced. While I wanted to write a proper introduction, I was compelled to take a route that will likely backfire. I try to be honest when giving my opinion, but by keeping my thoughts to myself when I feel so strongly, I am essentially lying to you. I beg your pardon as I tell the truth in my own way.

To anyone who has politicized Black Panther, would you kindly fuck your mother? It is not Triumph of the Will for Black Supremacists or this monolithic achievement for African Americans. No. It is a fucking Marvel movie about Marvel shit that just happens to feature a cast of black people. Tyler Perry movies are full of blacks and he does more damage to African Americans than the KKK. It is not going to do a damn thing for anyone except make Disney money. People are not going to stop being pissed off about stuff, whites are not going to feel ashamed, and it is not going to heal alleged racial tensions.

Do you think anyone outside your autistic cabal gives a shit about seeing a movie to be humbled? Do you think I care about Japan getting nuked twice? Do you think I care about the two million civilians killed during the Vietnam War and the long-term effects of Agent Orange? Do you think I care about Amerindian Genocide or slavery from 200 years ago? Do you think Russians are ashamed of atrocities committed by spreading Communism? Do you think the Japanese feel guilty for Unit 731 or the Rape of Nanking? Do you think the Chinese obsess over the 60 million people that were murdered under Mao?

The past is past. It is gone. It is over. You Blue Hairs and Soy Boys fixate on people and events that happened centuries ago and expect everyone to feel bad about it. If you think events from a racist past afford others and myself exemption from tribulation in the present, you have wasted your intellect, and have no right to dictate how we should feel. The world is not Germany or Britain… or Canada. We do not feel bad for anything except our own mistakes. We will not grovel for forgiveness for what happened in the past. I do not feel bad for anything my country and people have done because I was not there. Nobody was.

Our only concern is the now and right now, you pieces of shit do not know when to quit. The world would be better off if you kept your degenerative thinking to yourselves. You are an evolutionary misstep, inbred homunculi hell-bent on taking us back to the Stone Age. You claim to be “progressive” and “enlightened” when your movement seeks to erase centuries of real progress and enlightenment. But I get it. I really do. You wanted something to believe in, to do your part for a cause, even if that cause is wrong.

Your teachers, parents, and friends drilled into your tiny brains that Patriarchy is real, Capitalism is bad, and white people are to blame. Everyone needs a little fantasy in their life, but it is time for the LARPing to end. If you want to fight actual Patriarchy, go to the Middle East or Africa where millions of young women have their clits sliced off and are forced to wear veils or be stoned to death. Go to Pakistan and try to stop honor killings and gang rapes by the victims’ own family.

You can be a real activist, but we know you won’t because no one in those countries is white. They are just innocent, oppressed brown people in your eyes. You probably think it is our fault they are backward savages. You will never know because you are too busy yelling at us to see a fucking movie to feel bad. You are the reason the Alt-Right exists. You are the reason Donald Trump is our president and you are never going to win. No matter how much you cry, scream, and beg, anything you say means fuck-all. Your collective existence amounts to nothing.

I am not going to see Black Panther to feel ashamed. I am going to see Black Panther because I want to. You can piss me off and push me and others further Right with your sophistry and regression, but I will always enjoy movies, comics, and videogames. Stop crying out your puss and keep your nonsense out of the shit I love. By the way, if you cocksuckers actually read the comics you try to ruin, you would know Black Panther is about as nationalist and patriarchal as Doctor Doom and Namor. Get fucked.

Oh, I almost forgot this was a movie review.

Following the events of Civil War T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, returns to Wakanda to take his place as heir to the throne. While pursing his country’s interests on a covert mission, T’Challa discovers the mistakes of his father have come to haunt him.

Panther is pretty good in concept and story, but falters in execution. It is not all bad, but the sum of its mistakes keeps it from being as good as Winter Soldier, the benchmark of the MCU. As a character movie and pseudo-origin story, Panther falls in line with the first Thor. It has the makings of a great narrative, but struggled to realize its potential thanks to the botched start-up. Thor was a Shakespearean coming of age story with the finesse of an episode of Agents of SHIELD.

In terms of origin stories it is up there with Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. In fact, it is an origin for both T’Challa and Wakanda because he is its leader. As king, he must embody the county’s principles of nationalism and isolationism. Wakanda stays out of the affairs of the world and hordes its technology because of what it can do in hands other than Captain America’s. T’Challa’s whole personality is defined by these ideals and makes it his mission to uphold them.

His purpose as a leader, however, is challenged when he encounters Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan. Without giving away spoilers, he is of Wakandan descent, but grew up in Oakland, California in the early 90’s. For readers outside the US who do not know, at the time, you could not live in that city without a gun. Killmonger saw the bad side of the African American experience and it colored (no pun intended) his perception of black people in the world. He sees his people as victims of oppression and wants to use his Wakandan ancestry to give them a fighting chance. When he enters the story, T’Challa is forced to reconsider his priorities.

The way the story plays out is very similar to Hamlet with a touch of Dune. T’Challa must contend with matters of state while juggling familial issues. Both T’Challa and Killmonger consult their fathers as spiritual guides to figure out how to approach their goals. The former is content to maintain the status quo, but is forced to question himself, while the latter is basically African Hitler. They are two sides of the same coin and their conflict is about dueling ideologies. Wakanda can either remain isolationist and secretive or use their technology to conquer the world, not unlike the conflict between the Atreides and Harkonnens from Dune.

This makes Killmonger infinitely more interesting as a character. He has a lot of baggage and with good reason. He is what could have been if Wakanda opened itself up to the world while at the same time showing the farthest they could have fallen. T’Challa is fairly basic and simple to understand, making him a tad boring as a character. He only gains depth after finding out the truth of his father and even then it is not explored enough. However, being the embodiment of the status quo, he could not be anyone else. He serves his purpose as the ideological opposition to Killmonger.

Other aspects in the film’s favor are the music and filmmaking. Following the example set by Guardians and Ragnarok, the score is distinct and stands out from the rest of the MCU. With a mix of African and rap music, Panther forges its own identity without the box-standard heroic orchestral beats of previous films. I must also give credit to director Ryan Coogler. He takes any chance he can to be creative with his use of long shots and editing. He also knows how to put together a scene and show off the aesthetics. Although, he needs to work on how he shoots action.

The issues that keep Panther from being as good as Winter Soldier are a lot of little things. Exposition is both dumped on you and repeated throughout. There is an opening intro to explain Wakanda’s origin before it is repeated in short bursts later on. It would have been perfect if we were fed information as the film went on, like how a king is chosen and endowed with the powers of the Black Panther. Instead, for some reason, the film has to remind us every ten minutes. There is also a scene where T’Challa’s sister explains how his gadgets work when we could just see him use them. It is that simple and the scene went on forever.

The bad humor was clearly shoved in at the last minute. I understand the MCU has to be funny, but it should not make you cringe. No one put any work into timing or being clever. Obviously, Panther was supposed to be a more serious film given its subject matter. That would have been preferable if it spared audiences from worse jokes than the ones from Doctor Strange.

Panther also looks very cheap. The sets are not lived in or very practical like background pieces from a very expensive play. I understand Wakanda is supposed to be futuristic, but the furniture and floors were way too clean. Everything looks like a sterile room where no humans are allowed. Furthermore, most of the technology is far too simple to seem useful. There are audio devices that look like contact lenses, EMP grenades the size of golf balls, and smartphones with hologram projectors in bead bracelets. Everything is so small and does not look functional without magic.

This issue compliments the use of CG and continues the “phantom objects” trend where whole pieces of armor and weapons appear from nothing. T’Challa’s costume is stored in a tooth necklace and forms all over his body in liquid form. This is not too far from the comics, but it looks terrible. Every time T’Challa is in costume, he turns into a Blade 2 CG character that looks like a cartoon. When he is out of costume, Bosman clearly does his own stunts. In costume, it is all a computer, not unlike his appearance in Civil War. It reeks of laziness where they did not bother choreographing action scenes with physical stunts the actor could have performed himself. It would have looked great, but all we got was an Unreal Engine asset flopping about.

Black Panther is difficult to recommend. On the one hand it has a compelling story to rival a lot of the MCU. On the other, it is executed poorly with a handful of problems that weigh down the experience. To that end, I recommend it as a matinee or a rental to tie you over for Infinity War.

(Muh book: http://a.co/gR6nlr7)

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Netflix Review 4: Altered Carbon

As a writer, cyberpunk is one of those genres I was hesitant to explore because there is a lot to unpack. You cannot just have cyborgs, super-corporations, and hacking and call it cyberpunk. There is more to consider in terms of how those things affect the setting and characters, as well as a mystery aspect with other prerequisites. I am actually writing my own cyberpunk story and going through a similar learning process. With the release of Blade Runner 2049 we are on the cusp of a resurgence of the genre. Last year we got a cyberpunk horror game called Observer, Duncan Jones’ Mute will be out soon, and Alita: Battle Angel is months away. For now we have Altered Carbon, a serialized adaptation of author Richard K. Morgan‘s cyberpunk classic.

After waking up in a new body 250 years after his death Kovacs, played by Joel Kinnaman, is hired by the powerful Bancroft, played by James Purefoy, to solve the mystery of his apparent suicide. The investigation takes Kovacs to the darkest corners of Bay City, an overgrown metropolis that used to be San Francisco.

Carbon feels like it belongs on television. The look, structure of each episode, and even the actors and sets scream Sci-Fi Channel Original Series. However, given Netflix’s loose restrictions and freedom afforded to creators, Carbon is like an HBO show with the budget of Battlestar Galactica or Stargate SG-1. If that sounds like a deal-breaker, keep reading; it is not as bad as you think.

The story is a noir style mystery with all the tropes you expect. The femme fatale, hard-boiled protagonist, some corrupt cops, and a ton of red herrings. There are many details that do not appear connected until all the clues come together at the finale. With that said, it is difficult to keep track of everything going on. There are ten episodes, each an hour long, and the amount of information throughout is overwhelming. It is hard to focus on one thing when there are 15 other clues from three episodes ago.

This is not a knock against Carbon because the real star is the world. The dilapidated, neon bleached, dystopian environments are full of physical details that make the world feel real. You get this sense of how centuries of progress and growth have contributed to a mass degradation of humanity and believe it. People take drugs in the open, sell their bodies, and have an apathetic outlook on life. Corporations and the super-rich are a major influence, but we see life at the ground level in all the nooks and crannies.

The premise of the show informs not only the world, but also the mystery. Sometime in the distant past, humanity figured out how to download the contents and consciousness of the human brain onto a stack, a data storage unit the size of a vertebra. It is even possible to transfer yourself onto other stacks and control the respective body or “sleeve.” Everyone has a stack and they have been a part of humanity for about a thousand years. This allows people to be immortal because they do not technically die. Sleeves can be replaced if there are available bodies and live for how ever long the body will last. You can go on for centuries without a body and wake up in a new sleeve like it was a dream, but if your stack is destroyed, you are dead forever.

Because you can get a new sleeve if you are ever killed or hurt, violence and murder is treated with a nonchalant attitude. Blood sports are a common occurrence, but regulated. Murder is still prohibited, but it is referred to as “sleeve death,” and bodily harm is called “organic damage” that gets you a slap on the wrist. The Neo Catholics of Carbon regard the stacks as an affront to spirituality. They believe when your body dies, you are dead for good, and avoid “re-sleeving.” With Kovacs, he used to be an Envoy, a soldier that can transfer into other sleeves to wreak havoc or conduct military operations. As for the mystery, Bancroft has a backup system that copies his stack every 48 hours and he killed himself ten minutes before the process took place. He cannot account for the two days before his death, leaving Kovacs to pick up the pieces.

Carbon is not all mystery and world building. Breaking up the slow noir are nice doses of action throughout. Sparse and delivered in quick bursts, the action scenes stay within the realm of reality. Most are gunfights with hand-to-hand combat in between. One scene takes place in an artificial gravity well and another in a cloning facility where copy after copy is woken up and sent to die. The action is well shot, choreographed, and fairly brutal in some cases. The fifth episode has an elevator fight that will make you cringe.

The possibility of a resurgence in cyberpunk gives me hope for the future. It is a unique genre and it deserves as much exposure as possible. Both Blade Runner movies are a great introduction, but Altered Carbon is so complex and fully realized that it doubles as a cyberpunk bible. If you are interested in exploring the genre and understanding its nuances, there is no better show to get started.

(Muh book: http://a.co/gR6nlr7)

Netflix Review 3: Bright

When I said David Ayer is a good director that was given terrible material in my Suicide Squad review, I meant it. He may have an early 2000’s style that persists throughout his filmography, but you can tell the man cares about his craft. He does the best he can because he loves making movies. It was unfortunate he was shackled to something as terrible as Suicide Squad and screwed over in the final cut. His previous work Fury and Sabotage reveal his competency and skill as a director. Without Warner Brothers hovering over him, Ayer has room to breath with Bright. Is it a return to form or should he retire?

In a world where fantasy and reality are one Officer Ward, played by Will Smith, is assigned to his orkish partner Jakoby, played by Joel Edgerton. On a routine patrol they stumble upon a conspiracy involving elves and destructive magic.

Obviously I am a little late to the party. I was not planning on writing a review of Bright until I decided to make reviewing Netflix Originals a thing. I do not usually watch stuff online, but I figured with what I did watch I would take it a step further. I may do this with some of Amazon’s content if I ever decide to get Prime. Being an online platform that is not connected to the Old Guard, Netflix is free to take risks in their various endeavors. As a critic it is a whole new land to conquer.

When it comes to satire, it is essential that you suspend your disbelief or miss the point. The nature of the genre is symbolism and metaphor in service to a message. While satire is not serious, you are meant to examine and analyze the subtext in regards to how it reflects upon the real world. RoboCop used cartoonish corporate executives and a hilariously dystopic setting to explore themes of corporatization and fascism. The same can be said for Starship Troopers where it was designed to be a Nazi propaganda film. 1984 created whole systems of government control that are virtually impossible to implement in a realistic sense to examine very real totalitarianism.

Bright uses fantasy tropes to shed light on social problems. Orks are a minority group that everyone hates and elves the upper class that controls everyone else, including humans. Orks are considered despicable for events that happened in the past and are targets of police harassment. Ward has is own issues with Jakoby and tries to get reassigned to another human on a regular basis.

Bright is obviously satirizing America’s alleged problem of police violence. The orks are African Americans being discriminated by humans, us Whites. It is very blatant and does not pull any punches. Even a blind person could see what Bright is doing. It is also a serious movie that does not joke about the premise or is self-aware. The whole time you expect Will Smith to make jokes and he plays it straight all the way to the end. In some parts the characters will essentially turn to camera and give a speech on equality to make sure you are keeping up.

This ultimately keeps the film from being complete satire. If there was some levity and a sense of disbelief, the message would have more impact. You would be compelled to consider how it reflects reality because it inspires questions. Bright is too close to reality and does not stand out enough to feel otherworldly. All it does is take real world concepts and switches them out with fantasy. It is blatantly simple, which means it is not difficult to comprehend. You are not forced to consider how orks are related to minorities because that is exactly what the movie makes them out to be. 1984 was unbelievable, but it made you think about parallels to the real world.

Taking out the satire, Bright is basically an action movie with fantasy elements. Rather than take its concepts to the extreme like Shadow Run, the action is standard and not really unique. There is one part where Jakoby gets hit by a car and walks it off because orks are naturally strong, but it is mostly gunfights with some acrobatics and magic. The scenes where Noomi Rapace flips around stabbing thugs were pretty great. Do not misunderstand, Bright has good action, but it is not special or really worth greater consideration.

In terms of performances, this was one of Smith’s more serious roles. The overall tone hamstrung his charisma. He did not have much in the way of laughs or cathartic appeal because he was deadly serious the whole time. It was the strangest thing to watch: the most charismatic actor in Hollywood playing it totally straight. Edgerton always does a good job as a character actor, but this time he was under layers of make-up. All of the ork characters have dentures and full cowls with contact lenses that were probably irritating to wear. That is a lot to deal with as an actor and Edgerton makes do.

Again I am very late to give my opinion on Bright and I do not expect it matter at the time. It rides the line between watchable and mediocre. It tries to say something and fails, but it is still entertaining. This was a step in the right direction for Ayer, sticking to what he knows, and doing it well. It is undeniable Bright was still a fun despite its flaws. If you need to kill time and want something entertaining, it is free if you have Netflix.

(Muh book: http://a.co/gR6nlr7)

Movie Review: 12 Strong

The War in Afghanistan was interesting until about 14 years ago. As a civilian, to me it looks more like a cleanup operation, and trying to leave the country better than when we found it. The real exciting stuff happened before then, even further back with the Soviets in a war that would become their Vietnam. Rambo Part 3 and 9th Company are a couple movies that shed light on the unique aspects of that conflict. It still baffles me that the Afghanis would fight on horseback back like it was the 19th Century. Not many people realize this was the reality of the situation until years after we arrived and that is what 12 Strong hopes to convey.

After 9/11, the US Army sends a team of 12 to northern Afghanistan to facilitate a powerful militia, and fight the Taliban. When they get there, the team must contend with a language barrier and the terrain that can only be navigated on horseback.

12 Strong is in a bit of a spot of bother. Dunkirk more or less set the standard for war films to come. It cuts through the clichés and fluff and gets right the heart of the subject. Like Clint Eastwood with a massive budget, Dunkirk got to the point of that story. There was no real character development and there did not need to be. It was a tale of survival and that is all it had to be. However, the Dunkirk formula is not for everyone.

Sometimes theatrics and clichés are necessary to spice up an otherwise mundane story. Not all war related subjects are exciting enough on their own. It is like your average adaptation; you have to change the source material to make it filmable. The clichés in 12 Strong persist throughout in a limited sense. Every now and then the characters will talk about their families, getting each other home, all this stuff you have seen before. There is no denying it gets annoying very quickly, but 12 Strong has a lot more to it that you can look past the obvious flaws.

The crux of the narrative is the conflict between Chris Hemsworth’s Captain Nelson and Navid Negahban’s General Dostum. Nelson is a straightforward thinker when it comes to dealing with Taliban: shoot them. Dostum, being a local with decades of experience in the region, understands the minutia of fighting the Taliban, and the nature of warfare from an antiquated perspective. Both want to win the war, but they have very different ways of fighting. This is where 12 Strong stands out and it is the best part. You want to see these two vastly different men interact and try to work together. It was infinitely more compelling than the action sequences.

That is not to say the action was dull. It certainly could have been with the nature of fighting in an environment like Afghanistan. Because this takes place when horses were used in combat, it is a lot more interesting. There is a logical reason for the borderline exaggerated sequences where mounted infantry charge tanks and technicals because it actually happened. For a first time director, Nicolai Fuglsig knows how to shoot with spectacle in mind. There is no shaky cam, the staging is simple, and it looks great. It has a lot in common with older war movies like Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers. There are a ton of sweeping shots of active battlefields and long-distance tableaus of the terrain as it is bombed from above.

12 Strong is not perfect. The film runs two hours and it feels like three. A big drawback of the fluff is it drags the running time to a crawl. It packs on a lot of weight that should have been excised in favor of highlighting Nelson and Dostum’s conflict. There is also shoddy CG elements that could have been cut entirely. There is a B-52 and a scene with a rocket truck that was late 90’s bad. The entire CG budget should have been used on that truck alone. Then there are a ton of fake squibs and muzzle flashes, but not everywhere. Funny how the film was shot in New Mexico, a pro-gun state, and they did not have access to enough blanks for all their weapons.

For a January movie, 12 Strong is pretty good. It is not the best thing ever and it has plenty of problems, but it does not fail. It is an anachronistic film, a callback to a time when war movies were more focused on spectacle without trivializing the nuances of the subject. If that strikes your fancy, I recommend it as a matinee. It will not appeal to most people, but I say it is worth a watch in an otherwise sour month.

(Muh book: http://a.co/gR6nlr7)

Movie Review: The Shape of Water

This week I planned to see 12 Strong, the story of the Green Berets who fought Taliban on horseback. However, I wanted to see it with my dad, so it will have to wait. In the meantime, here is why you should skip Pacific Rim Uprising in March.

While on the night shift at a government facility Elisa, played by Sally Hawkins, encounters a humanoid fish monster imprisoned in a lab. Overtime she grows fond of the creature and decides to break him out when his dissection seems imminent.

Guillermo Del Toro remains one of the few contemporary directors that cares about the art of cinema. His shooting style, use of practical effects, and scene composition has remained consistent since is semi-debut with Blade 2. He understands better than anyone the catharsis of spectacle. Not in terms of tableaus or eye-candy, but artistic appeal. Take any scene in one of his movies and you could put it in a frame.

Del Toro has an extreme attention to detail he captures in each movie. He shoots clearly with enough lighting to pick up all the little touches in sets and effects. It is not everyday you find physical sets that are so complex and rich and Del Toro knows how to show them off. Elisa’s apartment alone is packed to the gills (no pun intended) with detail. Even the plain concrete environments are beautifully bleak and weathered. It might seem ridiculous to imagine, but the kind of craftsmanship in his sets used to be the norm for a lot of films back in the day.

On the subject of craftsmanship, the creature effects need no introduction. It is so well done and acted by veteran Doug Jones that you just need to see it. Imagine the Abe Sapien from Hellboy, but as a full body costume. That is the fish monster.

When it comes to the performances everyone brings their A-game. Hawkins gives an exceptional physical performance with no lines of audible dialog. You can infer what she is feeling based on body language and the manner in which she signs. Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, and Michael Stuhlbarg are all great, but Michael Shannon owns the movie. Even when I put aside my bias, the man is just fantastic. His time as Strickland is his most incredible performance to date. It almost makes the entire film. I do not care for the Oscars, but he deserves a win for Best Supporting.

I should not even have to recommend this, let alone explain my reasoning. It is a new Guillermo Del Toro movie, with fantastic practical effects, and Michael Shannon is completely out of his mind amazing. Go see Shape of Water immediately.

(Muh book: http://a.co/gR6nlr7)

Netflix Review 2: Devilman Crybaby

Like any good thing, not all anime is worth a watch. For me, there are just a handful of titles that have left a lasting impression. FLCL, Samurai Champloo, and Cowboy Bebop are a few I remember and revisit. This has made me very picky when it comes to picking up new shows. To give you an example, I watched the first season of Attack on Titan in 2013, discovered Drifters in 2016 thanks to a friend, and suffered through the new Berserk (yeah, I’m not linking you to that shit). I also watched Kill la Kill four years late. You can boil this down to personal taste, but when picking up a new show, I need to actually have an interest in sitting down and watching it first. With Devilman Crybaby, I saw a short review on YouTube and thought I would check it out. Did it grab me like a lollicon nightmare or does it belong in the garbage with Naruto?

After being reunited with an old friend, Akira goes through a radical change that opens his eyes to a hidden world of evil. Endowed with the powers of a demon, he takes it upon himself to protect humanity.

Devilman attempts to examine the nature of man by pondering the notion of a devil with the heart of a human. Akira starts off as a rather Beta teenager before he is possessed by the demon Amon. Akira takes control of Amon and adopts his extraordinary powers. He gains superhuman speed, strength, and the ability to transform into a winged demon form at will. The only drawback is his hunger for sex and violence. Devilman explores this idea by pitting Akira against other demons and his personal life. He treasures his friends and family and struggles to control his urges on a daily basis. At any moment he could literally fuck his friend Miki to death and eat her corpse. However, by embracing the demonic side as a part of his being, he keeps himself in check.

This stays in line with the show’s theme of human nature. Devilman is up front about Man being ignorant and depraved. It does not shy away from showing intense, graphic acts of sex and violence in each episode to let you know what it is trying to say. It is the villains that remain totally demonic and the humans totally human, whereas Akira is both. How can you function if you do not understand the evil you are capable of? By knowing his capacity for violence, Akira can choose to be good. Everyone else is either one or the other and remains black or white on the moral spectrum. All of this comes to head in the second half of the show where there is a radical tonal shift in how far Devilman goes to make its point.

Without spoiling it the final three pivotal episodes, imagine the eclipse from Berserk if it were 90 minutes long.

It was beyond refreshing to see a hand-drawn anime again. After the new Berserk and that trash Blame! movie it blew my mind to see animations that people put real effort into making. The movements are fluid, clean, and extensive in some places, while also exaggerated when appropriate. In one part, a character is rapping for what seems like three minutes straight. His whole body moves and none of the animations repeat. Granted, the rap was okay, but it was a treat for my eyes after years CG.

The style of Devilman is almost meant to be hand-drawn. Characters and props are sparse when it comes to complex elements like shading and basic details. It is very similar to the show’s manga origins from 1972, where the art style had a lot in common with Astro Boy. Rather than lean into the blown-out, exaggerated designs, Devilman takes on qualities of the classic and contemporary. Everything looks like it belongs in a modern anime, but there is a distinct anachronistic feel with high color contrast and lack of detail. I have never seen a style like this before and if it helps usher in a new era of hand-drawn anime, I do not have a problem with that.

This is a matter of personal taste, but the soundtrack was pretty great. It is a mix of techno, monastic chanting, and standard melodramatic J-pop during the more emotional moments. It is not for everyone, but I was so captivated that I had to mention it. After a certain sequence in the last episode, the track Night Hawk became a part of my personal playlist.

It is not everyday you find an anime that will stick with you for years to come. In the flood of moè torture porn and endless shonen that has taken over the medium, there comes along a title that transcends the norm. It is the kind of anime that harkens back to a time when the medium was about artistic achievement instead of profit. I probably did not emphasize this enough, but Devilman Crybaby will test your tolerance for intensity. It grabs you by the balls and does not let go until the end. I recommend it to not just anime fans, but viewers that would otherwise ignore the medium. It is a perfect example of what happens when anime is pushed to its full potential as this generation’s Cowboy Bebop.

(Muh book: http://a.co/gR6nlr7)

Editorial 34: The Great Marvel Purge

Following the Russian Revolution, Joseph Stalin began consolidating power in what became known as the Great Purge. Military officers, prominent Bolshevik actors, and political dissidents among the citizenry were executed or sent to the gulag. Leon Trotsky, a major figure in Marxist Theory, fled to Mexico where he was assassinated in 1940. It is believed that 1.7 million were killed and several others erased from history. After Stalin’s death, his successor Nikita Khrushchev condemned the Purge and spent his time in office releasing prisoners and clearing names from one of Russia’s darkest moments in history. Marvel Comics is having its own Great Purge and I could not be happier.

The politicization of entertainment has persisted for about three years now. Creators and committees have infected movies, videogames, and comics with politics and PC dogma. Left leaning opinions, fake diversity, and anti-Right sentiments can be found in a variety of media. There were the casting choices of Rogue One and Star Trek: Discovery, the Social Justice takeover of MTV, and lionization of fictional characters based on race and gender. You cannot escape politics because it is everywhere. What we used to forget the world is now a constant reminder.

Of course, I appear bias in my assessment. I have on several occasions made jokes at the expense of Democrats, Blue-Hairs, and Post-Modernists. I imagine you think if more media leaned Right I would be satisfied, but you are very wrong. Politicization from any side of the isle would be ignored, regardless if I agree or not. I consume entertainment to be entertained. I will not watch, play or read pro-gun or pro-capitalist media because I do not need a reminder that both those things are awesome. If I wanted propaganda, I would seek out propaganda. I want to be entertained and I almost gave up on Marvel Comics because I was not being entertained.

Following Jonathan Hickman’s exceptional Secret Wars event, the Marvel universe was reset. This is nothing new as events are a chance for comic publishers to realign their continuity and introduce new stories. At the start of 2016 Marvel Comics began to trickle out a host of books with a twist. Familiar characters were changed in terms of gender, race, and put in new situations. Again, this is standard practice and no one had a problem with any of the changes. I was interested to see how Falcon would fare as Captain America, Iron Man as a 15 year-old black girl, and Jane Foster as Thor.

And then people started reading these books.

Most of the titles I am about to mention I have not read. Comics are an expensive hobby depending on how many you pick up. Thanks to politicization, however, the number of titles I buy can be counted on one hand. I knew ahead of time what to avoid and have enough information to explain why these books have been excised from the roster. The following three stories are no longer in circulation or the characters have changed writers since my reading.

My first experience with politicization was the “Unsolicited opinions on Israel” line in Angela: Queen of Hel. The titular heroin encounters the character Bor who spouts off insults. His dialog is blacked out with descriptors like “A lot of misogynist filth” and “Red Pill MRA meninist casual racism” written over them in white. What the author is trying to say is male characters opposed to a female hero are motivated by misogyny. It has nothing to do with having different beliefs or conflicting ideologies. It is just good old fashion sexism.

The biggest perpetrator of politicization was Nick Spencer’s run of two Captain America books. Aside from his blatant misunderstanding of the character (a trend among these hacks), Spencer used his position to sermonize Progressive politics. Rather than continue where Steve Rogers left off, Sam Wilson was made into a “crowd-funded hero” beholden to the community. There are themes of the plight of the African American, Wilson questioning if Rogers actually stood for the people, and a villainous group called the Americops (how subtle). Spencer also made the new Steve Rogers Captain America an agent of Hydra, leading into the failed Secret Empire event that was an allegory for the election of Donald Trump.

There were many more examples of politicization, but I had the good sense to avoid them. However, there were others who bought these books just to criticize them on YouTube. Thanks to Diversity & Comics, Razorfist, and Micah Curtis, I have more than enough information to make my point. I am only scratching the surface because there is a lot more to this problem than bad stories. The following books have both political elements and show symptoms of the greater disease.

America follows the exploits of America Chavez, a dimension hopper. Seen in Young Avengers and the new Ultimates, America is a decent character with an interesting power set and attitude that sets her apart. In her own book, she was narrowed down to being gay, brown, and a vindictive bitch.

Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, was my new favorite hero until she was not. The character had a decent run with writer Kelly Sue Deconnick. When Deconnick left the mainstream, Carol was given the illusion of depth in a new book. She caused the Civil War II event and was put in command of Alpha Flight, but rather than explore how this affected her character, Carol was relegated to sitcom antics and sermonized about refugees. Good idea, author Margaret Stohl. Take a former Air Force captain with superpowers and put her in the Big Bang Theory.

Iceman is about X-Man Bobby Drake being gay. That is it.

Mighty Thor is about Jane Foster becoming the new god of thunder after Thor’s fall from grace. I actually did not have a problem with this change. I wanted to mention it because someone reading this might wonder why I did not include it. There was one line about feminism, but I think it was isolated and everyone just overreacted. Jason Aaron remains one of Marvel’s best writers.

After Civil War II, Riri Williams, a 15 year-old wunderkind, replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man. Her characteristics include being a girl, black, and borderline sociopathic. Her friends and family coddle her and always say she is a genius. As a result, Riri is a Mary Sue who is not allowed to experience conflict because some people might get offended a person of color can be a character.

And that is what I am trying to get at.

None of these books and characters has anything to them. They have been boiled down to basic traits that a minority of a minority of people will care about. Do you think anyone gives a shit that America Chavez is gay or Carol Danvers has a vagina? Nobody reads comics for the superficial. I did not read Captain America or Invincible Iron Man because the characters were straight white men. I read them because they were cool stories. Comic readers want narratives that put the characters through their paces, but I guess we are not good enough to see them struggle. What could be interesting and a great read is nonexistent because these characters are not allowed to work hard. They are special snowflakes and must be praised for doing nothing because we do not want to make someone sad.

Oh no!

The lead-up to the Great Marvel Purge is not a lesson in avoiding politicization, but in miscalculation. In an attempt to appeal to Blue-Hairs, Marvel Comics alienated its core audience. They transformed beloved characters into sock-puppets for Z-tier authors to prove their Gender Studies degree was worth becoming a debt slave. The people Marvel has tried to appease do not read comics. They are two-dimensional thinkers and accept the superficial over depth and complexity. They prefer simplicity, a character narrowed down to their skin color and whom they like inside of them. Blue-Hairs, Soy-Boys, and Post-Modernists care only for what fits their basic and illogical criteria, disparaging the normal or anything that questions their sensibilities.

And Marvel learned the hard way that such thinking does not sell comics.

Following the departure of Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, his replacement CB Cebulski looked at the monthly sales figures of Marvel’s books. It was clear that politicized and/or underperforming stories were not meeting their quota to warrant continuation. Cebulski had not choice but to pull the trigger. In early December it was announced that America, Iceman, Luke Cage, Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Gwenpool, and Generation X were cancelled. Some of the writers took to social media to express their dismay. Gabby Rivera, the writer of America, chose to have a tantrum instead.

It is unclear if other books will last through 2018. Only the numbers can say and it is not looking good. As of November 2017, Champions, a political lite book sold 21 thousand copies, Captain Marvel 15, and Ms. Marvel, a pro-Muslim book that used to be good sold 15 thousand. There is no better proof of the failure of politicization than the numbers; no emotion behind it; just plain facts.

Blue-Hairs, Soy-Boys, and Post-Modernists do not operate on fact. They think based on feelings and seeing books they never read cancelled drives them into a frenzy. They do not care about real art with nuance and complexity because it does not fit their worldview. They prefer the obvious, relish the simple, and cherish superficiality. To them, a character is not defined by who they are and a story is not conflict. To them, a character is what they are and a story is meant to reaffirm that the character is perfect in every way. All you get with that kind of thinking is failure and Marvel Comics has a long way to go before it can recover.

I am not one to praise a communist, but I am sure Stalin had only Russia’s best interests in mind when he slaughtered millions. I am being sarcastic, of course. The man was a paranoid psychopath who was desperate to hold onto power. As a writer, I cannot imagine what the authors and artists of those cancelled books must be going through. They probably devoted every waking hour to planning out issue after issue to fit within the limits of the medium. Believe me, that is hard work, and it was all for naught. Thousands of words and hundreds of pages of art will be lost in the Great Marvel Purge. They will be remembered as a tragic misstep in the publisher’s history to remind us what happens when you stop caring about telling good stories. I should feel bad for those artists and writers, but as Malcolm McDowell once said, “They started the fire; they can burn in it.”

(Muh book: http://a.co/gR6nlr7)