Stuff in August 2020

You’re all aware that there’s a dizzying amount of media out there to consume, so much so that can paralyze a man in his weak attempt to even stay somewhat abreast of current trends and topics. I thought this semi-informal blog space could serve as a bit of a journal as to what the hell I’ve found myself watching/reading/listening/playing/pondering. Hopefully, it’ll come in monthly segments.

Comics:

The funny thing about loving a medium that’s also a periodical is that it never stops throwing NEW in your face. Up until a year ago, I was sickeningly behind on my single issues and my backlog has returned from the grave. Here’s what I’ve caught up on recently —

Join The Future (Kaplan; Kowalski; Simpson Otsmane-Elhaou) is a clever, pulpy take on Western comics. It follows a young girl on a vengeance quest and handles the themes of nostalgia and the casualties of technological advancement. Pretty straightforward so far but the series has room to grow.

Star Trek, after a lean decade-plus, is having a bit of a resurgence, so it would be easy for a fan to miss Star Year: Year Five. There’s an impressive authenticity to it, not only in the character’s voices but in the flow and verve of the plots and surprises. Marrying the mighty charm TOS charm with sensibilities of modern TV storytelling makes for a great read. Issue #12 (Lanzing; Kelly; Mckeown; others) ends the first half of the story, and while it’s a bit uneven on the art (three pencilers!) there’s a lot to like at halftime

Another franchise having a tiny bit of a moment is Suicide Squad, with a new movie (HOPEFULLY) coming out next year, a new game set to be formally announced within the month. Presently, the Suicide Squad comic (Taylor; Redondo; Lucas) is *ahem* killing it. Taylor is one of the medium’s best writers, repeatedly proving himself extremely apt at giving readers the dirty and the sweet in the same package. He and Redondo quickly craft an alluring narrative in the new Squad series; The got me to care about the new cast of characters far quicker than I would’ve expected. I’m almost not comfortable with it

In the same general subgenre of bad comic book dudes, I like much of what Hellions #1 (Wells; Segovia; Curiel) did with its fantastic cast seemingly gathered by a random X-Villain generator. It still needs to do some plot things to really hook me but the demeanor of the first issue rocked it.

Just a periodic reminder that Immortal Hulk is still one of the best comics being published. A generational work, absolutely.

Movies:

These COVID times have flipped modern American cultural norms on its damned head, so there’s a lot of comforts I miss or long for, but one thing that has me hurting is being able to go to the movies once or twice a month. I don’t think I will feel that sense that things are returning to normalcy until I’m in a jam-packed theater watching a grandiose CGI battle.

It’s been a light few weeks in terms of movie-watching for me but one joint I did catch for the first time is Trees Lounge (1994), written/directed by Steve Buscemi. It’s a low-key film following a town drunk committing unimpressive debauchery, ranging from cringe to criminal. It’s very Bukowski, concerned with the people in between the cracks of life, and that meshes well with much of the casting, which has a bunch of current day medium-big actors in bit roles. Buscemi is one of those talents that everyone knows and most underestimate, and this slightly autobiographical work further demonstrates his depth and apparent soulfulness.

TV:

Wings, lots of Wings.

I like to have sitcoms play in the background as I do other things (see the rest of this list), so I end up (re-)watching a lot of shit with laugh tracks and quippy snark. My choice lately has been the overlooked but also maybe overrated 90’s workplace comedy, Wings. It’s dated (what isn’t?) and mostly survives on the strength of its very good ensemble. More on sitcoms to come!

Video Games:

I don’t game as much as I would prefer. I feel guilty when I pour hours into a console, but I do try to play one major release once every year or two. I’m kind of considering getting the new Avengers game, but if I’m being real, I just am sitting over here waiting for that new Cuphead DLC.

The overarching aesthetics of the Lego games aren’t my cup of chamomile but I had to snag Lego DC Super-Villains when it went on sale last month. It’s fun, at this point the brand has nailed their formula, and I’m simply smitten by any game that allows me to play as Mirror Master.

I try not to indulge in phone gaming too often as I know it can be a critical time soaker, but I’ve found a weakness for Void Tyrant (Armor Games). It’s based on blackjack, but dungeon crawling and deck-building are way more important elements. The replayability is truly incredible, with a nice balance of luck and skill making each run a different ride. I actually spent money on upgrades, which is probably a first for me.

Board Games:

In May, after failing to find a Switch at anything near a reasonable price, I bought my girlfriend Disney’s Villainous as a birthday gift and it kind of opened us up to a hidden paradise of gaming that I previously thought unapproachable. We’ve since moved to oft-recommended Pandemic (finding a bit of a second life, for obvious, bummer reasons) and recently picked up Codenames: Duet. It’s wild how far tabletop has come since my not-to-distant youth.

That’s it for now, but I should have more unsolicited opinons in about a month. Stay safe!

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