Digging into Maddness (or I finally finished the Soul Eater Manga): my White Whale

Soul Eater, the anime series about scythe miester Maka and her scythe-human hybrid partner Soul and her band of monster hunting friends, was one of my most influential anime series. It’s haunted aesthetic, great fights, animation, and fun characters made a giant impact on my teenage years. It was a series I watched three times in a row back on YouTube when companies would post whole episodes for free in an early streaming attempt. It was a series I loved but learned later was lacking due to wrapping up with an anime-original conclusion. That made me seek out the manga to find the truth only to be confronted with an insanely accurate adaption. This shocked stall made me sit on the manga, stuck at vol 9, always wondering what the future was like. What was different? How did it change what I thought was a pretty solid ending. After more than a decade of wondering I finally found out… and it’s amazing.

It feels important to say that I never felt unsatisfied watching Soul Eater. Despite, now clearly, only hinting at much more interesting ideas and story concepts, they all felt beyond the bounds of our characters. Kind of what Hunter x Hunter does, but unintentionally. Sure, Maka and the rest grow and change. Maka, the daughter of a human and a weapon, awakening both sides of her parentage to help win the day, is crucial to the series. But so is Black Star and Kid’s arc, though they are basically deeply compressed versions of what the manga does. My point is that the anime was so set and focused around the core team and their missions that all the expanded lore felt like just that. Lore. Not important or necessary, just flavor text. Unfortunately it will be hard to go back to the series knowing so much of what I know.

The odd thing is that even with this expanded information the broad strokes of what the anime covers and what the manga explores feels relatively small on the larger plot. Both series are consistent until Crona, non-binary (I assume. They call them a he, but has always clearly been non-binary. Though that does lead to… you know what, they’ll get their own section) child to the witch Medusa, turns on the DWMA and corrupts Stein further before leaving. In the anime they turn themselves in near immediately while in the manga they split and then a DWMA investigator, JB, is killed when he gets too close to the truth. In that divergent point it feels like more should happen, and it does in the details but not the broad strokes.

In the broad strokes, the DWMA take on Arachnophobe by attacking their castle, then end up having a final battle with the Kishin, master of Madness. In that fight Death the Kid unlocks his full potential, along with Black Star getting to go all out. Finally, Maka has a realization and beats the Kishin. That describes both series pretty well. It seems like Ohkuba gave his rough sketch for the rest of the series and Bones did what they could. Except for all the specifics (so that’s what the book of Eibon is, and I finally get to see Kilik do stuff!) and important character beats that surround the series main idea: order vs madness.

Every character arc revolves around the idea of order: the modern systems, perfection, symmetry, and balance; versus the discordant, erratic, and isolating nature of madness (and paranoia). If this were a longer form piece (like a whole book on this series) I would dig into every character, but even just a cursory look at our lead Maka and Soul prove the point. Maka, the bookish and strong willed meister has deepseated issues when it comes to her father cheating and mother getting a divorce (the fact we don’t see the mother at all feels like a mistake in both). She is compassionate, but scared of being weak. She is physically the weakest of the group and through her struggles must realize that it’s okay not be strong because you have others around. In her worst moments she feels useless and has nothing to contribute but when paired with Soul she has power. Meanwhile Soul, the too cool for school musician, has his own fears and madness about not being good enough. He comes from a line of musicians and chose to run away instead of face that linage. To prove his path a different way. But with Maka he learns his music doesn’t have to measure up as long as it reaches people.

This same examination can be done for Kid and Black Star. Kid, a symmetry obsessed grim reaper jr, must learn how to find balance in the imbalance. He is interesting to compare to Black Star because of how similar their arcs are. Black Star, often disparagingly called a Naruto Clone (which he is not. Naruto is brash and loud in hopes he gets himself to believe it. Black Star does believe it and wants the world to see) wants to be the strongest person around and will go to every length in order to achieve that goal. In both cases they give into madness and must be snapped back into seeing rationally. They both have more supportive and stable weapons. Kid using twin guns Liz and Patty, while Black has the multi-tool Tsubaki.

I might be more of a story guy, but even outside of that, if you come purely for the action, the series has that too. Though not as intricate as the anime, the manga is incredibly dynamic and readable (like the action is not the story). The choreography is stellar. Every fight feels fair and well planned out. The multiple page fight scenes flow so well. With panel work that gives enough detail to give a picture in your mind while also having enough connecting tissue to form a bigger fight. The moments of more classic “anime” style fights with overblown powers that come out of nowhere never impact the current battle to feel cheap. They often come out of character revelations and declarations. The big power surges also aren’t how they win. Instead they often give the edge enough to either talk down the foe to an extent, or use another method of magic in order to win. It never relies on pure power to win but soul (pun kind of intended). This doesn’t mean there aren’t epic as hell moments that makes me sad the anime never got to adapt.

It is hard to deny that the manga isn’t a better story. It’s themes and characters are even more fleshed out, along with an even more intriquet world and setting. But if I were to say there is one character failed by the series it is Crona.

Crona, description given above, was the character I never liked the most but did feel the most attachment too. They were always nervous, unsure what to do in most situations, and was terribly awkward. This came from their incredibly abusive upbringing under Medusa. They literally could not understand others but where able to when Maka finally resonated with their soul. From there the arc is the same, but Crona is made much more redemptive and immediately in the show than manga. In the show they realize how dumb it was to listen to Medusa and go over to the DWMA side and help take down their mother. It might be read as too easy, but you also shouldn’t assume the arc was done. They’re still a teenager with room to grow. Crona in the manga is the long game. Finding Crona and bringing them back is Maka’s main goal for the rest of the series. Unfortunately Crona is not treated nearly as well.

For much of the book they are just absent. Never checked back in with, only mentioned. When they are finally seen they have been so wholly corrupted by Medsua that they’ve become a single minded monster with incredible power and broken psyche. A psyche that gets worse when he ends up killing his mother in the best single chapter or a manga, probably ever. A kid so starved for affection that when they are given some by the person who believed in them only to constantly abuse them that they kill her and decide to try and absorb everything. It makes the possible reading of non-binary problematic by saying they’re monsters. Of course they do come around eventually and act as sort of the soul of humanity realizing what they must do in order to purge madness. That is a unique idea that would have worked better if they were more prominent in the middle chunk of the book.

Though what I often used that time they were absent focusing on was Ohkuba’s growth and maturity as an author. The early parts of the book were incredibly crass. Nudity and sexual innuendo abound. It’s not bad, but felt juvenile. So it was neat to see himself push that from the book or reincorporate those ideas in fresh ways that, by the end, when the old sex-comedy bits return they feel fresh and more mature in a way. The joke was not just about seeing girls naked or touching boobs, but how the characters relationship change to those events. It’s subtle but almost secretly genius.

It is also hard not to want Bones to do a FMA Brotherhood and come back to remake the whole series or adapt the bits they missed. Not just for the fights they could do justice too with even better animation skills, but because music becomes such an integral part of the story that getting to hear what the composer would do with the musical ideas would be a joy to hear and see. It’s a great series that I am glad I finally got to read to completion. But the lingering thought I have is not just how good the book is, but how artistic and bold it feels in comparison to Fire Force. I like what I have read and seen of Fire Force (vol 13 or 14 and the first season), the Fire-demon fighting manga, but it also feels less styalized and bold. Kind of just standard. That could change. He could keep evolving as an artist, but even if it is good it won’t carry the weight this massive series has in my soul.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Basket Full of Heads will Roll (a Comic Review)

Even as specifically horror season ends it is still getting cooler and darker, still spooky. So I figure it’s fine enough reason to finally look at the first in DC Comics and Joe Hill’s Hill House series: Basket Full of Heads.

Joe Hill, the son of horror legend Stephen King, has had his share of smash works that I never got to experience correctly. Locke and Key being the best example. The TV show was lacking and the audio drama, though hypothetically compelling, was neigh unlistenable or understandable at moments. Outside of that his short story collection Strange Weather was full of mostly misses. Yet I am compelled to keep giving him chances. It’s clear he is talented and Basket Full of Heads

Following in the classical Kingian horror tradition of a classic drama turned dark by mystical forces the book follows June, a college student visiting her boyfriend, a deputy intern for a local New England port town. On her visit to help him clean out the house boat he was living on the night takes a dark turn when the worst storm collided with a collection of inmates breaking out of jail. When June is confronted by one of the inmates she goes for the protection of an axe only to find that when the head is removed it keep on ticking. With the help of her decapitated counterparts she will work out what happened to her boyfriend, Liam, and find the true darkness the town was hiding.

The book is incredibly satisfying. That’s not a word I use often in my writing, but that was the final feeling the book left me with. A twist on the revenge-horror trope that positions the creature getting revenge as just a college girl trying to save her man. It’s an incredibly tight narrative. Every person she kills has an interesting story of how they relate to the larger mystery, along with a final twist that feels totally believable and callable.

The art, by Leomacs, works overall but is a little cartoony in places. The worst of it is shown when they try to do a head turning back and forth. It might supposed to look scary, seeing a two headed person, but instead looks silly. It also does not hold a candle to the fantastic, ominous, and dynamic cover art. It gives a much more realistic portrait of what the book is like that the book itself doesn’t totally give.

Though the atmosphere of the covers sells the book it is not really what the book is about. Again, the person in the rain jacket, axe, and basket of heads is a twist on revenge horror entities. The person under that hood isn’t scary and neither are the events that occurre to her. Not in the traditionally horror way. Instead the book is about (take a shot cause this feels like just a theme of works now) systemic horrors. How corruption can spread throughout an idealic looking community. It’s about how greed, power, and fear of losing both causes men to do terrible things to people. Sure it’s not piss your pants scary like a hay ride full of killer clowns with chainsaws (totally not a random example from personal life), but is more realistic and prevalent than we would want to believe. I mean there is a reason why an examination of the police and police procedures have been so hot for such a long time.

This book was a solid start to this line. Sure, more books have come out since and seem interesting, but it’s good to have a strong baseline quality, and that, for my misgivings about Joe Hills work (all little of it I have read), is definitely baseline. It’s got strong ideas, pretty good characters, a good premise, and strong ending. It’s hard to ask for more with such a short series like Baskets Full of Heads.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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The THIRD best thing Disney+ Can Do (A look at Heroman)

Since the release of Disney+ they have done a total of two good things, both of which I covered. The first is making the forgotten X-Men Evolution available in full for all. The second is releasing a version of Hamilton for everyone… with the service. But there is a third thing they can do: dub and release Heroman.

Oh, you don’t know what Heroman is? Well strap in!

Heroman, an anime series created by Bones studio, of FMA, Soul Eater, and My Hero Academiafame and along with other great series, associated with Stan Lee’s Pow Entertianment is everything that combination sounds like it would be.

The series is a mix between a classic Marvel ongoing drama and boy and his dog (if the dog is a giant robot) story. When a school teacher sends a radio signal into space it gets the attention of an insectoid race of conquerors who found their next watering hole. When they arrive they create a storm that awakens best-boy and resident protagonist, Joey Jones’s newest animatronic figure into a Hulk-sized hero. With his new hero he teams up with teacher, Mr Denton, friend Psy, a love-interest Lina to help save he world once the aliens, called Skruggs, land. Of course everything gets more complicated when tech-billionaires, high school jocks, and government bureaucracies get in the way of saving the world.

The series feels like an early progenitor of what future series like My Hero Academia would become. It’s an exceedingly earnest series through and through, and that’s where the fun comes from, but feel superhero inspired all the same. However, instead of being an X-Men a-like, it’s closer to an Iron Man, Hulk, or Spider-Man series.

The series feels closer in pacing and structure to those above series (also, does it bug, no pun intended, that Spider-Man is hyphenated while Iron Man is not), and a closer comic pacing in general. Each episode focuses on overcoming a specific challenge, a related character arc attached to that challenge, and a longer story running throughout all of that. It’s 26 episode run is also reminiscent of conics in that way, since most runs on books only last around 20 issues anyway.

It’s pacing is not the only comic book element about it. The flowing nature of the series, as it weaves through different arc types, villains, and structures is all very comic book. Starting with a weighty and dramatic alien invasion, to a mad scientist story that focuses on character drama, to smaller one offs like an island infected by monster vines, or a kidnapping plot by the remnants of the aliens, to its final conclusion with everything coming to a head, and tease that being a hero is never over. It all screams comic book.

Just because it screams comic book doesn’t make it good. The characters are what bring the whole story to life, and how those characters are both archetypes and subversions of said archetypes weaved into one. Joey is the prime example of this. He is the all too earnest and eager kid thrust with great power. Instead of a Peter Parker arc where he learns to use his power for good, he already knows it needs to be used for good, but doesn’t know what that means. Thankfully evil aliens show up to make that an easy solution, but following that he remains steadfast in his conviction to help people even if messes with his personal life from time to time.

The changes and evolutions don’t stop with him. Lina, the love interest, though a cheerleader is not a typical love interest. She starts outwardly interested in timid Joey and throughout the series grows to have a deeper interest in him because of his good heart and bravery. She is also far feistier than she looks, leading to great moments. Similarly, Psy, Joey’s best friend is a jock who was injured in a football injury, but charges into battle all the same, and acts like a realist. There is also their teacher-friends Prof. Denton and Ms Collins, along with Joey’s sister Holly, and Agent Hughes from the NIA. Each one has a little more under the hood, and are revealed to be far more thoughtful than first expectation seem. All of them led with amazingly striking character designs.

The show isn’t perfect. Though it is still gorgeous, it’s age is showing in some places. Mostly with the use of CG vehicles. The comic pacing is also hindered by the overly-long initial invasion arc, and a reliance on new powers coming too easily. The powers are centered around Joey’s resolve, but they do feel contrived at times. Even those problems don’t hinder the great, earnest time this show brings forth.

It’s a great series. So what? Many shows are great and don’t need to be on Disney+. Same with stuff created by Stan Lee. He did an entire series with DC about reimagining their big characters. Doesn’t mean they need to be on Disney+. So what sets this apart? It was supposed to air on Disney XD!

https://youtu.be/WgEjAeaO5tc

The series was planned to be dubbed and aired on Disney XD, with many different dubbing houses across Asia and America creating pilots to test, but none of them making it further in development than test dubs. It’s unclear why they did not move forward, but it is a shame because it feels so much like a show perfect for Disney.

On top of that, there is precedent for it. On Disney + sits the Avengers anime series. Marvel’s Future Avengers or Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers. Was a sub only anime series done by Toei and released on Disney XD only in Southwest Asia was in a similar boat as Heroman, but was ported over to Disney+. This shows they can get the rights to a work only named after a Marvel series, let alone a series created by the father of the Marvel universe. It screaming out to be taken just like that was and dubbed!

Additionally, the series needs more anime options. I know that might seem odd considering it’s for all Disney properties. But, considering even the most normie streaming services like HBO Max and Amazon Prime also have anime to some degree. That makes it all the stranger Disney, one of the most massive conglomerates doesn’t. It’s also fairly child-friendly which would work out well too. And if a scene is not it can often be edited either in dialogue or physically remove to match. I wouldn’t love that, but it would make some sense.

In th writing of this it was revealed that Marvel got the rights to make an Ultraman comic. Ultraman being one of the longest running tokusatsu series in Japan, is getting a Marvel comic adaption. That’s breaking news. It reminds me of the days when the Transformers and GI Joe were all part of the same universe as well. It’s. Far more interesting direction, especially is Ultraman stays as an Avenger or something. And that, that is what I want for Heroman. The characters, designs, and story transcend the barrier or location and could be something just as fun and exciting for people over here, and give them a true, perfect hero.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!

Umbrella Academy Season 2 is a Better Second Season than Most (a Review)

Umbrella Academy Season One felt like a message to the world that Netflix didn’t need Marvel or DC heroes to make a riveting, stylish, strongly character driven series. It was such a breath of fresh air that ended on a really good cliffhanger. The problem, now, is that it’s a season two and Netflix series are infamous for not having success trying to follow up the storys that came before.

Umbrella Academy season two has the family scattered to the winds of 1960s Texas after Five’s attempt to save the family at the end of the first season. When Five finally arrives he learns the apocalypse they tried to stop followed them. He saved and tasked with finding his family and figuring out what happen to end the world in 1963. Unfortunately, but characteristically for the Umbrella Academy they are caught up in their own drama and a new group of time assassins is after them to make sure they don’t muck up the timeline anymore.

Much of this season remains as consistent as the first. The projects whole style and action is as slick and energetic as ever. The banter back and forth feels very fresh and like it is siblings bickering as it should, and the problems the team faces do feel very driven by their own problems and issues, which is nice.

Where the show fails is in the particulars of some of those characters, not all. I mean giving Allison, a literal voiceless character who has the ability to tell anyone to do anything she wanted, a connection to the civil rights movement in Texas is brilliant. That feels like a big push and extension of what she was working on in the previous season. Luther on the other hand feels like he’s in a comedy. He is only focused on Allison once he finds her, sulks, and is comic relief. None of his underlying father issues and body dismirphia is addressed nearly as well as it could have been or was last season. In just those two they give the dynamic of how most characters are. One feels more watered down while the other feels rooted more in where they were last season.

The interesting stand out, again, is Vanya. She enters the picture with amnesia of everything but her name. Thankfully Ellen Paige is a great actress that her budding romance with the woman that took her in, and the friendship she bonds with the woman’s autistic child is great. You really feel for her and her struggle to find out who she is, and the challenges they face along the way. They even make her being the catalyst for the apocalypse again be better than it had any right to be. I think it works because her actions are more a domino in the chain over the be all end all. Additionally, the way that’s resolved really does right by a character that did not get a lot of love outside of that moment.

There are some new characters, most of them are not as interesting as the bounty hunters from the first season, one of which gets a cameo at the start of the season. The best would be the increased focus on the Hargreeve senior and his relationship with the model he would use for their robot mother. Outside of him there is a trio of new assassins to deal with, and a double agent. Unfortunately the double agent only gets really interesting at the end when everything is revealed about her. The villain plot with the time agency this season is also not as interesting as it should be since the Handler’s hiding the most interesting information from the audience for a majority of the show.

I would be hard pressed to say anything in the season was outright boring or bad (something I can’t do with the likes of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and others), but it is far less tonally consistent with too much unfunny or tedious comedy.

A word I would say to best describe the season is clean. The season feels very simple, straightforward, and has no frills attached to it in comparison to the more complicated first season. Unfortunately that complicated nature was what brought the characters to life in a way this season did. This feels far more planned out, and ends up being less interesting for it.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!

Warrior Nun is a YA Novel (a Review)

Sometimes you see such an on the nose, schlocky title that you just have to watch it and hope it isn’t another Iron Fist

This is true for Netflix’s most recent comic book adaptation, Warrior Nun. Based on the series by Ben Dunn called Warrior Nun Areala, this show follows Ava. Ava, a quadrapalegic orphan who dies under suspicious circumstances is resurrected when the church her body is being held in is attacked by a secret sect of warrior nuns fighting their own unknown threat and their sacred relic, the Halo, is stored in Ava’s body to keep it safe but instead resurrects her. This gives her a new chance at life if she can manage to outwit and outlast the church, a tech company out for the sacred relics for thier own need, and young love.

There were many thoughts I had about the season as it went along, but by the time it reached the penultimate episode my only thought was of how this show felt like a YA sci-fi/fantasy novel adapted to its absolute fullest. That is not meant in any disparaging way, but more all of its tropes, writing, ideas, and acting (in so far as how imagine YA characters to act or be portrayed) feels like it’s right out of the Buffy spin-off continuation novels that came out.

Those books aren’t terrible, but they aren’t great. They kind of get the point of Buffy, but feel like all the ideas they bring are the first time those ideas have been done. This show does very much the same thing. All of its ideas are not original. Being unoriginal isn’t bad, but the show acts like all of its ideas are brand new and needs all of that time to really develop them when it does not.

The biggest example of this is its portrayal of the Catholic Church as an evil entity that uses fear to keep people coming to them, and is also what we think the main villain’s end goal is until a couple twists I won’t spoil here, but does kind of allow them to dance around the religious aspect of it all. The reason this idea kind of works is because most of the characters we spend time with are deep figures in the church. They trust it with their life, literally, so they don’t want to see that the thing they love is bad (probably didn’t read Harry Potter and haven’t been on Twitter recently). Even Ava, the character who hates the church more than anyone in the show, does not hate the church because it’s a den of child molesters who are literally shifted around instead of excommunicated, but because she was forced to live in an orphanage with terrible sisters taking care of her. None of this is bad in the show “academically” (if that word applies here), but is not as fresh as the show wants it to be. That makes it drag more in ways not intended, and goes for more than just that one plot line. Most of them are like that.

However, there are more reasons to like something other than just a story’s ideas. There are characters, sets, designs, and acting to get behind as well, and for the most part the show succeeds in that.

Ava feels like a fully realized YA protagonist. Every time you read about a snarky female warrior chick in novels this is the girl to end them all, and it comes from a natural place. Her being raised a quadrapalegic for most of her life, only having her wits is a strong reason to be like that. It also works once she is able to go out and see the world because it gives her more of a reason to be an eyes in character because all of it is new to her. However her constant flighty attitude, which is addressed, does get tedious after a while. And as if to prove how YA the show is, her big hang up that is holding her back from using her powers is solved pretty immediately with a conversation or two. Nothing major. Just really quick and simple.

The rest of her warrior sister are hit or miss. The main issue is how long it takes for the season to get a stable cast. The two standouts are Mary, the daughter of a wrongfully imprisoned woman who has a real edge to her, and Lilith, the one who was supposed to be next in line for the Halo. They get the most to do and are the most sympathetic. There are two more that join the group, but other than one being a newbie and the other being a lesbian they do not stand out other than using weapons and bombs good.

Outside of the main five girls is Father Vincent, the most anime live action character ever. He is a priest who had a shady past, and tattoo sleeves. He should be cooler, but doesn’t get enough great lines. The Mother Superion, trainer of the nuns, is fine as well. She is most interesting once you find out her deal, but before that she is a pretty generic cynical trainer type. Finally there is a Cardinal seeking ascendancy to the Pope, and a tech billionaire with a former Vatican archavist working on a portal to the other side. They are also fine. Again, not original and work in the context of the show, but don’t stand out.

One group of characters that leave the show are a group of teenage grifters Ava first meets. This includes her love interest JC. Around halfway through the show she stops being with them for reasons that make sense. However they are never mentioned again which is odd. Also the love interest is literally called JC and nothing is done with that in the religious context of the show. I’m glad we don’t cut back to them just lounging around or having an unconnected arc, but it’s weird they just stop being mentioned.

What’s not weird is how beautiful the show looks. It is all set, and I assume shot, in Spain and Italy, and it all looks amazing. It helps that many sets are giant Catholic Churches, all of which look amazing because they need to be. But the towns, cities, and landscapes all have a great deal of life to them and enjoyed being in that world so much. It’s just all so much natural beauty that it’s nice to take it all in.

The digital effects, mystical swords, and monsters on the other hand feel very TV. They aren’t bad by any means, just very standard. The big monster that is pursing Ava though you the show looks no better than anything I saw on a CW hero show. And is about as original looking. Meanwhile the special weapons all look cartoonish and the glowing effects look cheesy and not in the way they intended.

The biggest problem the show has in the end though is it’s pacing. Because of the aforementioned use of time spent on unoriginal ideas it takes awhile to get going. Thankfully every episode feels pretty self contained in interesting ways, until the final two episodes, which helps. But when it takes till the last episode for Ava to get her warrior outfit and look cool something feels amiss. That could have happened earlier.

With everything said and done oddly enough my big takeaway after reaching the conclusion is that the show is bold. It fancies itself Angel. Angel the TV show by Joss Whedon (I have a whole post on it brewing, but man… just man… hurts my feelings) has an infamous cliffhanger ending where the characters go to war and that’s it. It’s bold and also not planned. They believed they were getting another season but had to end it that way, and it is unique. This show wants to do that for season one, and on a network (is Netflix a network? It acts like one, but is a service, anyway) that is stingy with extra seasons. It ends on a cliffhanger with almost nothing resolved. It just has lots of reveals given and questions raised. It is bold considering it may not get more. It makes me almost respect it more, but also, if it doesn’t get a second season it means no reason to ever go back to this pretty good story.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!

The Problem with Watchmen

I stated before and probably will again that Watchmen the comic fascinates me. It is considered to be the best comic book ever written. A true novel onto itself that just so happens to have drawings. It’s one of the greatest stories ever told that somehow can’t be translated to another medium, and if it does is worse for it. None of this is important to the actual problem with Watchmen but it’s good setup to say that the problems sith Watchmen are not problems with the story inherently. It’s the problem with the people who read it, their takeaways, and how superheroes are perceived in culture moving forward.

The whole main cast of Watchmen are terrible people that you do not want to look up to, immulate, or even associate with really. They suck. They’re supposed to suck. They’re supposed to be in a form of arrested development. We also have to spend copious amounts of time with them. This makes the book a totally drag to get through and makes you feel utterly gross upon completion. Some would say that is the point. If you were a superhero in real life you would be like the police officer who kills unarmed black people for looking suspicious. The problem is that that is not a superhero and the fact people take that idea away from the book is a failing (not on them, possibly the book for not communicating that, but also kind of on them).

“If Batman were real he would just be a crazy person in a mask like Rorschach.” No, he wouldn’t. Mostly because of everyone who gives that sentiment they are unaware that the Watchmen are not based on DC heroes, strictly speaking. They are based on Charlton Comics characters. Those character did eventually fold into the DC universe, but in a different context than this one. The point then is that Rorschach is actually based on The Question, a private detective with no face. The only distinction this means is that Rorschach is just a crazy hobo with mental and anger problems who also happens to use those for good or in the name of truth. He’s a hateful man. That makes it all more prophetic when his mask is adapted as an Alt-Right symbol. That idea gets complicated since some futures have Batman and his protégés as fascist dictators, but those are often not considered the real futures of the DC universe.

The next character that’s often mischaracterized is Dr. Manhattan as a Superman analogy. Dr. Manhattan is based on Captain Atom and seems totally different from him. Dr. Manhattan is a man born of science and so above human perceptions of time and space that it makes him reluctant to do any sort of work. That is not Superman at all, and defiantly not Captain Atom from what I understand of him. The point of Superman being he could be a god above it all, but raised to be better. Captain Atom meanwhile is loyal to America to a fault. Either way neither of these are any kind of Superman, or Hulk for that matter.

The additional problem with Dr Manhattan is how his ability to live in all moments of his life at once is like reading a comic book doesn’t make sense. Dr Manhattan can literally see all of the points of his future at once. You cannot do that with a comic. You must flip to those pages to see them. The closest it would be is if they mean a comic page. You can be in a panel for as long as you’d like while also seeing the whole picture.

The final issues with Watchmen is how people give up trying to compar everyone once they move past the two obvious analogs. The Comedian, Silk Spectre, Night Owl, and Ozymandias all don’t really have analogs or people don’t try. The Comedian is kind of like a Deathstroke or Punisher figure, and the unrealistically cynical nature of the book would support him in that. Meanwhile Night Owl is literally Ted Kord Blue Beetle since that’s where he comes from, but Silk Specter isn’t really anyone. The closest DC analog would be Huntress or Black Canary. But when it comes to Black Canary she only had eyes for Green Arrow in anyway so that breaks it down.

I think the most interesting is Adrien Veidt’s Ozymandias because it feels like Lex Luthor being a good guy the whole time we know him only to reveal his scheme. That would seem like a very good beginning arc of a Superman story that just hasn’t been used. Lex is so much into that high Greek and Roman stuff that he would totally take a name like that and come up with a scheme that saves the world at a great cost. He’s really the only character that in comparing him to someone is interesting since he’s both the hero and villain of the piece.

The real issue is that Watchmen is a work of deconstruction. It wants to break down what a hero is to its core and see what it finds. Only, if you have nothing to compare it to then it feels like that is just what heroes are. That’s not true. Superheroes are super for a reason. They have certainly gotten more complex over the years for better and worse, but the best stories reflect that they do good for good reasons. The point of Superman (the person everything afterwards came from) is to be better. To save people because saving people is right, not just because it makes you feel good.

With that said I don’t blame the book or it’s readings. It’s hard to be the first. Just like Malcolm Gladwell’s Hug Heard Around the World episode of his podcast, being the first is hard. Watchmen, for all its unwarranted and unbearable cynicism it was necessary for the time. It’s dower, unheroic nonsense has made way for truly great, uplifting works of comic fiction to finally be taken seriously. That is important and necessary.

In the end Watchmen’s true problem is that it had to be the first.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Is HBOs Watchmen Really THAT Good?

I’m kind of obsessed with Watchmen. Not in the normal way people are, thinking it’s a great book and all. Instead I see it as one of the most interesting case studies in telling a story over different mediums (I had this whole comparison on the book and movie idea that I never carried through with but sounds good).

In addition to how the story is told, the idea of continuing the narrative has also been a big idea with DC tasking Geoff Johns to try and wring out a good idea to mixed results from what I understand. Meanwhile Damon Lindelof of all people tackled it as a TV show to critical acclaim, but is it actually good?

The easy answer is kind of (I mean it’s super lucky this show came out last year. If it came out this year it would be more thruoughly critiqued). The more complicated answer is the rest of this post.

To start, the plot’s start is similar to the original graphic novel. Someone in a mask is killed by someone else in a mask. Through that event more information about how the world has changed in the 30 years since the inter dimensional squid destroyed New York. Such as Robert Redford being president, Silk Spectre being an FBI agent, and Rorschach’s vissage being used as the new version of a red-pill, alt-right, KKK group called the Kalvary. Of course there is more going on than it appears as Detective Angela Abar, code name Sister Night, is wrapped up in a conspiracy that goes back to the original Minutemen.

The first three episodes and finale do really feel as good as it could be. Focusing on a single city with small ties to the outside world is great (I still wonder what’s going on but the comic didn’t really do that, and if no one complains about that in Hunger Games which is way worse about that then it must be fine). It finds a way to really center the story on hot button issues through in universe means really well. The epitome of this is the fact cops must wear masks, have cover jobs, and never tell their families what they really do. They have the trappings of superheroes. Combine that with the 7th Kalvary, the white supremacists, and their home of Nixonville. They too wear the symbol of a hero but decide to use that to instill fear. It’s solid stuff and feels like it’s on the pulse in a natural way. The problem is that the story supports the other side.

It breaks down when comparing to the real world context, especially now. I understand that their world had a giant, 100 foot naked blue man sized difference, but the history of the police, and racial injustice doesn’t track. So, to break down how the poor white people become the target of police harassment… It’s easy to assume that in Tulsa, where the show takes place, everything was the same, in this case, racist/racially biased policing against African Americans, until Robert Redford passes the act that gives African American reperations for what happened to them. This causes racist white people to take offense to that. All of this leads to the Kalvary being formed. From that they attack all the police who protect the black people as a ploy by a senator to give the police masks for some reason in order to get into the White House. In the fallout the police get masks, and the poor whites are forced seemingly into the Nixonville trailer park. Coming out of that is the plot of this show. When the new Kalvary kills a cop the police round up the whole community in search of those breadcrumbs. They are being oppressed in the same way as African Americans are in our world. Now, this gets complicated as you add in the restriction on handguns, the fact the chief who is murdered is, in fact, a member of the Kalvary (I think. It’s not clear. He’s clearly a fan of the Klan and doesn’t actively stop the Kalvary when he could, making him culpable at the very least). This makes it seem orchestrated that they’re oppressed, but they are and the normal Joe wouldn’t know that. It doesn’t help that the show doesn’t give us information on that part of the world.

Instead, the show decides to shift focus to being more character centered with stories that flesh out the narrative in the periphery. A whole episode focusing on one of the Tulsa cops, a look at the history of Hooded Justice, the first hero, Dr Manhattan, and more all work in context of their episodes, but feel incredibly obvious where they all go. The episode on Hooded Justice in particular felt excruciating to watch because I could see immediately where it was all going and wanted it to get there. That’s not bad. It’s being true to the story, but being so narrative-savvy makes it feel worse than it actually is. However, the real problem this does is kill the pacing of the show. The first three episodes have a strong clip to them. They establish and get story done so efficiently that it feels like the show stalls out after that point only to finally pick up at the end.

The ending is honestly quite good. It feels like a full culmination of everything it was building up in the background into a conclusion. It does make, not changes but, adjustments on who the real villain is that might work on rewatch, but feels very abrupt in the moment, then backfilled to make sense.

The show does that a lot. It backfills constantly. It shows scenes, then shows them in a new context with new information to have everything make sense. This is different than “clever.” “Clever,” is closer to when a story is trying too hard to make a plot complicated. It adds loops for the sake of it (like how the whole boat episode of Dracula is setup as a chess match in the characters mind, and the room she’s in, in the chess match is the number of the room her body is in). It could be argued the show does this. Instead it feels like the writers knew all along what was going on, or had it work out that way really well, that they set stuff up and paid it off. However, the intermediary sections do feel like they’re trying to be too smart for no reason, as Damon Lindelof is wont to do from time to time.

In the end it does not make any of this show bad. It is good by any conventional standards. It just loses a lot of steam, and holds stuff back from the audience for the sake of a reveal when knowing that information earlier would make more scenes interesting in the immediate.

Now here is the obligatory bashing on the name of the show. Watchmen is a terrible name because it’s not an adaption of the book (thank god). It’s a sequel. Doomsday Clock, for all its problems at least has the name of a sequel. Calling this just Watchmen feels off. To be fair if it had a subtitle people would think it was a sequel to the Zack Snyder film (possibly), but it’s immediately not that and having any kind of subtitle or colon would help distinguish this when searching online at least. At worst it’s needlessly confusing like Halloween (I mean which one did I just mention?).

This show looks at the comic so hard and wanted to honestly build off of such depressing dreck to find an honestly heart full story. That is impressive. It’s also sad that they chose not (or were not given the option) to make it 12 episodes to match the 12 issue run of the comic. The show loligags around already, adding three episodes would not be the worst. It could split the story better into episodes that can be focused just on the characters and not worry about the plot, and have episodes where it can do a whole lot of investigating and world building. This too is not a problem. It is just incredibly odd that they did 9 episodes considering the comic was 12.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!

I’m Selling Stuff!

This is a wierd post, huh? Not something I usually do at all.

Anyway…

My eBay Link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013

I am moving and in that process am trying to sell some of my media to clear space. This is not a cry for help or financial support (but it won’t hurt) because I am fine in that regard. Instead this is just a signal boost to see if anyone would like what I am selling.

Included in the link/ what I am selling:

Collections/runs of comics in single issues (I still bought the trade for many of these so don’t ask why I did both because I have no answer).

A few manga collections

Card sets (Keyforge and CAH)

That is it for now. More stuff will be posted once I determine what all I want to sell, and how it want to sell it (I mean I just have so, so, so, so – seriously a lot- of Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards and a healthy portion of Magic TG cards). On top of that will be movie collections, TV series and more.

Here is the link again: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013. I want to repeat that this is not for financial support, and if you don’t want to buy anything I won’t like you any less.

Also: if you do want to buy something and contact me saying that you are a reader of the blog I will give you a discount on any of the stuff you order!

(And because it’s tradition)

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!j

Don’t You Understand Dexter’s Bad Superman

There has been so much talk about what being an evil Superman would be like. From the dozens of comics and alt-universe stories to Brightburn, the film advertised as “Superman but bad,” to even the parody title of this post “Bad Superman” but Scouting for Girls they all have their takes on evil Superman. The problem with those takes is that none of them feel like Superman. That might be kind of the point, but Superman still stands for something, and has goals, but get corrupted in the end, and watching Dexter I see that.

Dexter Morgan, a serial killer who hunts other killers and criminals, does not sound like he would be like Superman in anyway. Yet they have a surprising amount of traits in common.

Firstly, they are both adopted. Superman is from space while Dexter came from a broken home where his mother was murdered in front of him. On top of that they were both raised to receive their values from their parents, and in many cases have a father figure they can turn to. Superman has the holograms in his fortress of solitude, or sometimes Pa Kent himself if he is alive. Dexter has the memory of his father, and his father’s presence always with him throughout most of the series. They have a mix of girlfriends that love the facade they put on, and some who love the real person. They both have sons named after their father (Jon and Harrison), and their most remembered villain is a bald guy who has a terrible family life (I know Lex Luthor was not always bald, and his origin changes, but more modern takes have him coming from a bad home life).

Now, those are all interesting comparison. But, they are also all surface level. Any duel identity story will have love interests of different varieties, and mentor figures, and other similar tropes. However, what Dexter and Superman have in common is the drive to do the right thing.

Pa Kent and Harry Morgan both saw their child had this unusual gifts and tried to steer them into using those gifts for good. They both got a code of how to help people, and do good. The problem is that Dexter goes way too far with it.

The reason Dexter is clearly a bad Superman is that same drive to do good. It was the first real character trait that made me like him. He did these horrible things to bad people, but also wanted to be the best possible person outside of that. When he was living his other life he wanted to be a good boyfriend, husband, coworker, brother, and father. It just got complicated when his two lives clashed (almost like Spider-Man, but Peter Parker is never AS altruistic as Clark Kent at the end of the day). Dexter does do bad things to the people outside of his kill room. He lies all the time. There was that season he cheated on Rita. He kills innocent people. He flakes out on his jobs and responsibilities, and bends his own code to get certain criminals. He is bad Superman.

This whole idea for me comes from how Evil Superman is portrayed. In the portrayal I’ve seen he is always more of a dictator. He sees the world as something that needs to be controlled to work. The problem with that portrayal for me is that, that is not Superman (of course there is a path I could see him going down to get to that, but we rarely see such a detailed descent). An evil Superman would still try to help people. He would still try to stop evil, but he would go farther than anyone else. He would more overtly lie, adjust stories to fit his narrative, be a jerk, and use any method to get results.

Unfortunately, where this breaks down is in how Dexter the show weakens throughout its run. This breaks part of the character. It makes him less self-reflective, and puts him into more situations where he seems to go further than the people he tries to catch. This is sort of commented on at the end of the show, but it would be far deeper if explored more fully.

Dexter never saw himself as more altruistic and good. He saw himself as feeding an urge in a healthy way. He also saw everything he did outside his kill room as a cover (until he didn’t). He would not see himself as upholding a certain way of life, he sees himself as doing something aberratious to what people should do, unlike Superman who tries to be an ideal.

Even outside of that internalized comparison they both have such a strive to do the right thing while maintaining their two lives, but Dexter just does so much dark and self serving acts that it makes him bad.

Also, it cannot be a coincidence that when both men retire from their job they grow beards, wear flannel, and isolate themselves from the rest of society.

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A Volume-by-Volume Checkin of Edens Zero: Volume 7

This has been a long time waiting to come, the return to looking at Edens Zero by Hiro Mashima.

The previous volume was a fun enough, and pretty self contained romp as the crew grew and learned more about Homura and search for her master, Valkyrie, the last connection to the old Demon King. Volume 7 picks up with Shiki and Homura being punished for using violence to stop a crime and are sent to a mine where they must harvest metal to send to the ruler of the planets Madame Kurenai. Meanwhile Rebecca must find them and save them from their fate.

This feels at once like filler to just throw in concepts, and also incredibly important but not focused on. The story focuses on Shiki and Rebecca adapting to the labor force, being kidnapped, fight off a giant creature made of diamond and then learn information, but it also has Rebecca doing shenanigans to find them like dress up as a magical girl, or find a guy who can steal anything within a certain range, all while Madame Kurenai is doing something shady. Manic is not quite the correct term, but it jumps around and does not feel consistent.

The eventual payoff for all this, and how it manages to be a back door into still focusing on Homura and her life is neat. It also adds an interesting snag in the overarching plan of finding the four androids the old Demon King had, and ends with a possibly cool intro to the next volume, but overall feels like it could be more streamlined.

Artistically it is consistent. There is still many simplified backgrounds, or just blank white voids that are passable. The black diamond creature they fight is quite impressive in just how alien it is. The closest comparison is the Demagorgon from Stranger Things, but worse. Also, the flashback with Valkyrie has some fun powers shown off, but not amazing fights.

The fact this arc is still going is surprising, but so is the big twist that is thrown in to shake it all up. There is no doubt that it will not be nearly as satisfying as it could be since every character over-uses words like “friendship,” but it could still manage to be enjoyable.

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box: TowerCityMedia@gmail.com!