Review

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #3

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boom_thomas_alsop_003The past is finally meeting the present in the Thomas Alsop comic, and now is when it starts getting interesting. With a deeper connection to his family’s past, I’m finally seeing the potential in Thomas and the lengths he might have to go to in order to set things right.

Starting off the comic this month, we got an admission from Thomas about how he doesn’t feel as deep a connection to the island as his ancestors did. We’ve seen it hinted at, but I’m glad that he finally came out and said the words. In fact, he’s been sliding on his family’s history for all his current success, digging into family journals to find old ghosts and make good entertainment for his media image. But he can’t just keep going like he has been. Thomas has a destiny, and he’s got to make sure he lives up to it by reconnecting with the island. His solution on how to go about that, though, doesn’t quite instill a feeling of mental stability.

Thomas’ solution for reconnection is to risk death by overdose. If he can get close to dying, then he can feel the connection better and maybe uncover why there’s been a constant darkness over it for all these years. Whether it’s a hallucination or reality, Thomas’ mind-trip does provide us with more clues and better visual connections between the past and present. He has a waking dream of drowning, thrust back to 1702 where he overhears the situation with Neziah Bliss and the implication that the boat he’s so afraid of is indeed cursed. Thomas knows this to be true, as he gets a clear image of the wood’s power when he touches it. Virgins drained the blood of good men to feed the forest, grow the wood, build the boat. Then the blood from the virgin daughters of the priests of The Black Ring was used to etch in spells to the wood, which was all used to keep Tunde under control. He is the dark force that brought death and destruction to the island, and continues to do so to this day.

The whole situation with Tunde is interesting, especially the yet-to-be-seen extent of his powers. We know he is said to be able to raise the dead, and The Black Ring wants to learn everything he can do, wants him to teach them his tricks. I have a feeling he’s going to be killing a few of them before willingly giving over his secrets, but I can believe that his overwhelming darkness has stained the island for all these years and continues to do so.

The implication that the 1992 burial of “The Box of Lost Things” with the sealed spell inside is connected to the tragedy on September 11th was a bit too thin to follow, though Thomas believes it has a strong connection to Tunde’s situation. We leave the issue with him ranting to the EMTs and his friend Marcus Rogers that he has to save all the 9/11 victims. How he’s going to do this is yet to be seen. Personally, I’d like to see the connection spelled out in more concrete terms, but for now I’m willing to wait.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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ST New Visions

Comic Review – Star Trek: New Visions “Times Echo”

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ST New Visions

I gotta say, I was a little thrown off at first by the style of this book. Having not read the previous issue of this series, I didn’t know what to expect. Once I got past that though, the story itself sucked me in pretty quickly. I also immediately recognized the fact that while I might not love the photojournalistic style of this book, other people would probably love it since it does make you feel like you’re watching an episode of TOS appear on the pages.

You can even hear the voices of the characters come to life in your head with each bit of dialogue. It also helps that the story is pretty solid and enjoyable to read. Overall I was pleasantly surprised with how this one played out, and would recommend it to the real Trekkies out there who would like a fresh taste of the old series.

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Book Review: Jackrabbit

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Book review: Jackrabbit by Ian Healy

Review by Prof. Jenn

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Ian Healy has delivered again in this next installment of superhero novels in the Just Cause universe. As I have written before, I have and continue to enjoy Healy’s ability to embody the coming-of-age voice, as well as the voice of the “regular Joe,” whether they are superpowered or not. (Sorry, “parahuman” is the correct term in his universe.) In Jackrabbit, though, we run into a new kind of parahuman–that of the Herald. The cheeky rabbit god and his buddy the frog god run into a new, insectile god in God’s Land–and it is revealed that this new god isn’t one invented by humans. This is a big deal, and not a good thing, at all. So (as it so often is) it’s up to our trickster god Leporidus to save the day. He begins his rescue plan by choosing a Herald–that is, a human who will embody the god on Earth. He selects hapless nerdy teenager Jay and, as it turns out, he has made an excellent choice.

Since I know Ian personally (we grew up together through Talented and Gifted programs in junior and senior high school as well as the theatre programs in said schools), I can slap him a virtual yet hearty high five in glorifying the nerd in this world. Even with today’s “geek chic,” nerds are still the victims of bullying today, and actually the nasty insect takeover of Earth event in this novel is connected directly to the theme of bullying. What Healy does very well is illustrate real human beings, whether it’s the coming of age type of Jay/Jackrabbit here or Mustang Sally in his earlier works, or “normal” folks trying to deal with the extraordinary, as in yet other novels in the Just Cause universe. And I love that the female hero is adorably annoying–it’s so great that she’s not flawless, but we still love her. Thanks for the realism and the joy amid the tense action. Also, thank Heaven for an African-American protagonist hero.

Usually I adore Healy’s Just Cause books without question, but I had a couple minor reservations about this one: a) why does Jay have to get all buff and huge when he transforms? Isn’t he a better Rabbit god herald by staying slight and quick? b) Bunny, Jay’s best friend, smacks of the stereotypical Gay Best Friend. In fact, he reminds me of the gay dancer friend in the 1984 movie Breakin’. maybe it’s the dance studio thing. Anyway… c) Jay turns real cheeky once he becomes Jackrabbit. he was pretty meek before. I’m not quite buying his snarky transformation. Maybe if he were already getting in trouble because of his wit and cheek, before he transformed? That way we can see exactly why Leporidus chose him, and his personality later would fit, etc. d) I hate to say it, as I love the ending, but I think it was a little too easily achieved. All of you, go out and read it and come back and tell me what you think.

Bottom Line: Jackrabbit is a fantastic novel and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

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Sailor Moon vs. Sailor Moon Crystal

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It’s the fight we’ve all been waiting for. Even though a few years ago we didn’t even know we wanted it.

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Sailor Moon vs. Sailor Moon Crystal

Reactions to the new Sailor Moon series have varied wildly, ranging from excited to horrified after Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal began airing worldwide on July 5th. As the third episode was released on the second of August, and we have another week to wait for the fourth, it seems like an appropriate time to analyze the two series in a completely professional and unbiased manner.

Manga Faithfulness

Though the original series added some lovable elements to the Sailor Moon franchise, it’s no secret that the majority of the anime was ridiculous filler. The primary motivation for the remake is to make a series more faithful to the manga’s source material. I’ll miss getting to know the villains better, but filler was taken to a criminal level in the original, stalling character development and plot. The first three episodes of Crystal each correspond to the first three manga chapters, in which we meet Sailor Moon, Mercury, and Mars respectively. To compare, Sailor Mercury isn’t introduced until the eighth episode of the original. That’s an extreme delay to plot, even if the manga is a bit too fast-paced at times. The obvious winner of this round is…

Sailor Moon Crystal!

Transformation Sequence

Sailor Moon’s transformation sequence is iconic, and it’s important for it to be perfect because we have to watch it so many times. There’s no better way to compare the transformation sequences is than watch them. I’m not a fan of the new CGI transformation. Why are her limbs so… noodly? Toei Animation also managed to make it longer. I don’t know how anyone could have watched the original and thought, “Well, we clearly need to see the main character spin in circles for more time before we get to the action”–even if they did cut it down in episode three to allow the other girls some air time. The winner of the Transformation Sequence Award has to go to…

Sailor Moon (the original series)

Music

Related to the transformation sequence is the importance of music. I don’t dislike the opening theme of Crystal, it’s pretty epic with decent lyrics and some whirling guitar solos. I also like the choir that accompanies the most epic moments of the show. On the other hand, coming from a girl who has the original series’ transformation sequence as her ringtone, the old show’s music was catchy as heck. Though I like the suspense the new music creates, I miss the theme songs that would get stuck in your head for days, and I think a series that is ultimately made for kids should have that sing-along quality, so this award also goes to…

Sailor Moon (the original series)

Art & Animation

Here’s where I’ve seen the most contention about the new series. I will admit, Crystal seems to have missed the mark when it comes to animation. In the very first scene you can see the frames stagger, and there have been a few times I’ve winced to myself because the face proportions were so bad. Some of those close-ups make the girls look truly inebriated. The shading is snappy, though, and it has a much more modern feel. There’s something about the lengthened, looser style that embodies the manga better (at least to me) though why they thought it was a good idea to draw the lips in is beyond me, as that always looks creepy in anime. The old series certainly feels dated in comparison, and some of the drawings in it are just plain bad, too. Whether or not it was good for its time seems irrelevant.

I have to get serious for a moment, because I feel this is where Crystal is receiving the most criticism. People aren’t happy with the quality of the animation, some refusing to watch the new series. I have to point out that maybe Sailor Moon isn’t being remade for you. By you, I mean the other 20-somethings who wanted it to be the high-budget remake that encapsulated all of their dreams while still reveling in the power of nostalgia. Sailor Moon Crystal was made for two reasons–to closer follow the story and character development presented in Naoko Takeuchi’s manga, and to bring Sailor Moon to a new audience. I want a new generation of girls and boys growing up with the feminine power of this set of magical girls. I want them to be introduced to the non-censored version of the content in Sailor Moon, and I want it to be theirs. Sometimes, a show will feel too dated to be relatable to a younger audience, but I don’t think kids will notice the animation quirks in the new anime as much.

Sailor Moon Crystal

So I’m giving this category to Crystal, which makes this competition a tie, and I think that emphasizes my points. There will always be people who prefer the quirk and fun of the original, but dismissing the remake because it isn’t perfect is unjust, and I think in the future there will be people just as loyal to the new series as they were to the old. In the meantime, we can enjoy the influx of Sailor Moon swag that will be in stores, and be content knowing that a new generation will learn that girls can be intelligent and powerful on their own.

Image credits: [1][2]

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Book Review: Blade of the Samurai

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Book Review: Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann

Review by: Prof. Jenn

 

How good a combination is a ninja-detective, seriously? What a perfect set of skills to be able to solve a murder in 16th-century Japan. Blade of the Samurai is a sequel to Claws of the Cat, which are historical thrillers starring Hiro, our shinobi protagonist, and his partner in solving crime, Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. With these two intellects at the helm of any investigation, no murderer will stay safe for long. Admittedly I haven’t read the first in this series, so I can’t tell you how the characters have evolved in this sequel, but I can tell you if this is your first foray into the investigations of these two, you will have no problem getting to know our characters, their situations, and setting immediately.

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An official in the shogunate has been murdered, and a whiff of a plot to assassinate the shogun himself is in the air as Hiro and Mateo are conscripted to investigate the murder before Oda comes to invade Kyoto. The inclusion of real historical figures (Nobunaga Oda, Hattori Hanzo, etc.) and detailed descriptions of the 16th century Japanese setting plunges us right into the setting as good historical fiction does. However, the quick, clipped pace, the tension begun right as the story begins, and the short chapters make this also a well-crafted whodunit. This book is difficult to put down, and is a quick, exciting read. It’s also a fun addition to have the cultural differences pop up between Father Mateo and his Japanese surroundings (especially noble and samurai encounters, normal Western gestures and thoughts being offensive to the Japanese characters). The outcome of the mystery is complex and not cookie-cutter easy, and the end leaves us with many open ends ready for another sequel (Flask of the Drunken Master, out in 2015).

Bottom Line: Blade of the Samurai is highly recommended.

 

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Comic Review: Dark Engine

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Dark Engine by Ryan Burton and John Bivens is a new comic that plenty of my friends have been waiting on, and after reading it, I’m reasonably certain that no one has been or will be disappointed. First of all, the cover art is really nifty, portraying the focus of the comic, a girl who looks fierce and incredibly intimidating with a giant sword. I’m certainly not an artist, but I really like the style of art being shown in this comic. It’s very otherworldly, and definitely helps to transport you into the chaos within the story.

From the beginning, this comic throws you into a world that is unlike anything that we are used to. There are a surplus of creatures that somehow fall between prehistoric and alien in appearance. We meet the girl from the cover rather quickly. As expected, she quickly starts slaughtering things, presumably because she’s a total badass. Directly following this, we start to see some other new characters talking about the girl, who we now learn is called: Sym. There is talk of the magic and sacrifice used to create her, and we are informed that she has been made to kill some enemy.

It’s divulged that she was fitted with some sort of engine (I’m assuming a Dark Engine, but that could just be me being presumptuous) by one of the characters. This character seems haunted by this engine, which we find out is being used to send Sym back in time in order for her to kill this enemy before they could ruin the world in the way that they did (which is only being expressed through the art at the moment). We learn that the engine is sending Sym into various periods of time until it can somehow right itself, and we’re given a glimpse into the possibility that the engine might actually think for itself.

The comic ends with plenty of mystery after a character nonchalantly states that Sym will likely kill anything she comes in contact with across these time periods (and we actually see her brutally slaying something). Already, I want to know more about how Sym and how she was created. I’m definitely interested in learning about the inner workings of this engine, and what it is capable of. I also want to know exactly who this enemy is and what he used to destroy the world. Really, I just want to know more about everything, and I’m really hoping that the next one comes with a little insight into this interesting world.

So, uh, read this. It’s a good one.

 

Daliya Risik

@TasteTheChaos

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Let’s Talk About Comics, Consent, and THAT issue of Captain America

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Originally posted via The Carnival of The Random the author’s personal tumblr. Opinions contained within are the viewpoint of the author and may not represent those of other members of NiB staff. 

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We’re going to talk about this now. My original response, not to Cap #22, but to the response to the response to Cap #22, is HERE and CBR’s article with links from a variety of viewpoints, is HERE.

I’m going to preface this by saying, (as it says in my About section) I’m a Marvel gal for life. Have been since I was a wee-me getting grubby fingerprints on my comics and grubby newsprint on my face after that. Ah, the days of literal pulp.

(Image description: Panel from Captain America #22 featuring Jet Zola, a young white woman in a black dress that is several bands covering her breasts, part of her abdomen, and groin/upper thighs sitting on a sofa with Sam Wilson aka the Falcon, in a black shirt/grey trousers, they are drinking wine and there is a background image that indicates Miles Davis music overlays the scene.)

Before ANYONE starts yelling, read what I have to say because it’s not going to be what you think.

TW: discussion of definition of rape, rape culture.

1. I don’t particularly like Rick Remender. I think he’s hostile to audience readings and assumes word of god means anything. It doesn’t. I don’t particularly dislike him in general, either. I think it’d be awesome if he (among others) learned to say, “Help me understand, because I’m not seeing it and you obviously feel strongly,” rather than jumping to rejecting the premise.

2. I don’t, and never have past reading the text, think that Jet was in any way coerced, assaulted, raped, or that her age was in question but I do get where other people might feel like it was shoe-horned in and I don’t judge them for that read.

3. I have never thought firing Remender was a good way to solve the problem of consent or hypersexualizing in comics. It’s a BIGGER problem than one person. Rape culture is as pervasive as air, we have to deal with that.

4. I view his remarks (and those of his supporters who used the same language,) of the questioning and crit regarding this scene as, “Libellous,” usually with something insulting tacked on, as not only overkill but the word choice of people who don’t understand what those words mean or are sending a message that dissent will not be tolerated. This is NOT productive, from a PR standpoint. Really.

Nobody accused Rick Remender of statutory rape, and people weren’t making things up. They just had a different point of view. One that might have lead to a spectacular leap forward in comics’ portrayal of consent if people would have listened.

So, let’s talk about the larger issues, shall we?

While a lot of the shouting may be borne out of the post-CATWS surge in Cap and Falcon’s popularity, it’s not without merit as a wholesale response even from non-readers. Historically, the portrayal of Falcon has had some highly stereotyped and racist features (whether intentional or not.) Portraying a black man as a pimp and thug is so entrenched that it is our dominant media narrative about black men in urban areas, rather than the socioeconomic factors at play or whether it’s even TRUE. If someone says a crime was committed by a black man, white people will believe it. The Susan Smith case is a prime example. (There is so much data on race and perception that I’m not even gonna dig up the links for you. GOOGLE IT.)

The matter of representation, in terms of both accuracy and quality is a major one in 2014. Whether we like it or not. And trust me, most of us who are doing a lot of talking about representation in media are NOT all that fond of having to do so. We’d much rather be able to enjoy media without worrying that something will make us want to tear our hair out.

As far as the text is concerned, Jet’s age is clearly established here. Alternate dimension or no, it’s part of the text. A cursory read might miss it, so I make room for alternate interpretations including that she’s LYING. Because I’m pretty sure most of us lied about our age at some point to seem cool, and one of the most frequently used excuses for statutory rape is, “I thought they were (over the age of consent.)”

It’s disingenuous to dismiss the potential to read this in ways that are not what the author intended, it’s there and authorial intent means doodly-squat when all’s said and done. Fundamental rule: We cannot determine how the message is received because intent is not magic and the audience isn’t psychic.

Moving on: the thing that had me hitting the mental brakes and spinning out here, is what’s in the text itself, specifically, the boldface, “ONE glass is enough for me… ” “Oh, C’MON, Falcon, live a little… I really like the effect that it produced.”

That set my flashing neon, nuclear accident alarms off. It’s so very much like tactics used by rapists to render their targets pliable or incapacitated. And that impression is not in any way ameliorated by the rest of the issue.

So the biggest question I had, factoring this in with Lorelei having sex with Grant Ward in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is: Why are we not talking about men in the Marvel Universe being sexually assaulted? It may not be what’s intended, but that’s what’s happening.

If someone is unable to give consent by a legal definition, (and if you can’t legally drive due to intoxication, you can’t legally give consent to sex,) including due to magical mind-control, then having sex with them is legally rape.

Let that sink in for a moment, because this is me as a feminist and a survivor of rape saying that we are letting what reads to me and what in at least one case meets the legal definition of rape, slide because it’s happening to men. Whether that’s because we’re exhausted by trying to be heard about rape culture as it applies to women and the salmon-upstream nature of it, or that we’re being terrified and threatened on a daily basis and we’re overwhelmed at the task of emptying the ocean of male-dominant perpetrator/female victim apologism and rape culture, I don’t know.

Rape culture is excusing rape and harassment of men because we’re inculcated with the idea that men want sex all the time and that therefore any sex will be welcome, or that men can’t be raped because of physical strength, or that it’s impossible to rape a man because a man has to be physically aroused to engage in penetrative sex.

No. That’s not how it works.

And it is exhausting having to explain this, especially because during the, “Fire Rick Remender,” uproar, people were not listening to anything that might not toe the Marvel line on this.

Considering the subsequent announcement of Sam Wilson taking up the mantle of Captain America the following week, I get the united front and hardline, “Falcon is not a rapist,” stance. It doesn’t change the fact that there are nuanced discussions we need to have about not just representation and optics, but about the concepts of portraying consent, particularly in the context of drinking or other substances. Consent isn’t just saying, “No,” or fighting off advances. Consent isn’t just saying, “Yes,” either. It’s informed, aware, enthusiastic, “Yes’s” coupled with the ability to say, “No,” without fear. Adopting that in model in media could change EVERYTHING.

We need to talk about these things because in the real world, they happen and we can’t just say, “But it’s right there in the text.”

And I think we CAN have those conversations but there has to be a willingness of the people in power (writers, artists, publishers, and film/tv producers) to have that discussion even if it makes them uncomfortable.

I keep coming back again and again to the fact that what we see in media has the power to build empathy, to make us question the status quo, and inspire us to make changes in the real world or it can reinforce the status quo ad infinitum.

And don’t tell me it’s just a comic book. How often have comics been used to convey a message to readers like say, Spider-Man and the dangers of drugs? Facile arguments that reinforce the idea that comics are an infantile art form are not welcome here.

Superheroes have always given me hope for our capacity to do better, no matter how dark the circumstance or how fragile we may be, we can keep fighting with our last breath if it means making the world better and helping someone else.

I have faith that there are a lot of people making comics who want to do the best that they can to make them something that tells stories in the most authentic and inclusive way possible. I also know that learning the things we need to know to do that, is a little like having to battle our dark half while absorbing an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge.

It takes time, and it’s not comfortable or easy to dismantle the parts of ourselves that have become things we consciously detest. It’s worth it, though.

The absolute, unfettered, screaming joy I felt at seeing an image of Sam Wilson as Captain America and knowing how much that means to kids who don’t often get to see heroes who look like them and what it means for people who may not think of themselves as consciously racist when they reacted poorly to that image but then started to ask themselves why, or even just for people who are fighting to see a world in media that looks like the world we occupy and are so often told isn’t what’s, “Real,” was practically an air raid siren.

It’s every step, you see. Every step we take towards the light, towards equality, and every step towards media reflecting the world back at us in a way that doesn’t erase people is a step towards being better in the physical reality we occupy.

Representation matters. Conscious awareness of how what we do in narrative media can halt, subvert, or feed into our actual culture and toxic bias, matters. Listening to each other, whether audience or creators, matters.

Can we do that?

*NB: Author would like to add that this is an issue that affects all media, and Marvel is simply the case in point at this moment in time. 

An old hero of mine, Emma Peel.

Comic Review: Steed and Mrs. Peel–We Are Needed

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Comic Review: Steed and Mrs. Peel: We Are Needed #1 by Edginton, Cosentino, et al Review by Prof. Jenn

An old hero of mine, Emma Peel.

An old hero of mine, Emma Peel.

Imagine my delight when I saw this title pop up on BOOM!’s forthcoming comics list! I didn’t know they were making comic versions of this old favorite of mine! Now these, kids, are the real Avengers, as far as I’m concerned, and I had high standards going into this first issue. The TV show was a delicate combination of weirdly out-there almost sci-fi and taut spy thriller/detective procedural, which is a difficult balance to get right (*cough* the 1998 movie *cough*). This writer/artist combo has nailed it.

We begin issue #1 by seeing a murder, not knowing who is involved or why, only that there are dollhouses about. Then we are introduced to our two heroes the way every Steed/Peel episode did on TV: the phrase “Mrs. Peel, we are needed” revealed in a cute and clever way. The story in this first issue unfolds and by the time we get to the end of the issue we definitely are clamoring to see what will happen next. Which is the way the TV show was, too.

The art is colorful and rather “mod” in style, which is perfect for the setting and characters. As you’ve heard me say many times before when reviewing Doctor Who and Firefly comics, it’s a special trick to comic-book-ize a live TV show, as you don’t want to do just an actor portrait, but you don’t want to draw the characters so unlike their actors that they are unrecognizable, either. This issue nails it, again.

Bottom Line: I highly recommend Steed and Mrs. Peel: We Are Needed (why aren’t they calling it The Avengers? Copyright w/Marvel?) and can’t wait for the next issue.

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Comic Review – Star Trek: Flesh and Stone

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STK_FASIn this one-shot special, Space Station Diamandis 1 is hosting one of the biggest medical conferences ever held when a low-warp escape pod comes across their path.

Flash over to Drs. Bashir (Deep Space 9), Crusher (U.S.S. Enterprise), and Pulaski (U.S.S. Repulse) approaching Diamandis Station a bit behind schedule only to find it has been infected by a contagion of unknown origin. Everyone on board has been infected, so they are warning ships not to approach. It seems the only one who has not been incapacitated is “The Doctor”, the hologram that once was the medical officer on the U.S.S. Voyager and now is chief medical officer of Copernicus Station. The Doctor, along with Bashir, Crusher, and Pulaski, have to put their combined medical knowledge together to solve this problem. Things get even more interesting, however, when they find a connection to the original Constitution-Class Enterprise. As you probably remember, Dr McCoy was the medical officer on that ship. Coincidentally he is, at the time of this adventure, an admiral who is retired and living on a nearby planet. He tells the visiting Drs. a story of when he first encountered this illness, and how he worked with Dr Phlox to find a cure.

What I loved most about this story was how it was able to incorporate every doctor we’ve become familiar with throughout Star Trek history, seemingly without even trying. It was an especially nice surprise to see the doctor from the series Enterprise working with McCoy. The best part about this one-shot is you don’t have to be a super fan to enjoy it. Sure, the bigger fans will enjoy seeing history interconnect with itself, but a passing fan will get enjoyment from the story itself. I highly recommend picking this one up at your local comic shop today.

American Horror Story — Pilot, Home Invasion, & Murder House

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I’ll start off by saying that I was not expecting to like American Horror Story as much as I seem to. The first episode was suspenseful and exhilarating and seemed to pack a, well, mansion’s worth of story into 52 minutes. I was going to start out with two episodes, but ended up accidentally watching three. That’s a good sign.

(Obviously if you’re somehow like me, hiding under an AHS-less rock, you will have events from the first three episodes spoiled for you in this post).

I took notes as I watched, so here are a few samples of my immediate reactions to scenes:

- STUFF IN JARS ALWAYS BAD.

- “We’re the Adams family now,” was a perfect line. I love Violet.

- Tate is the boy from the crying GIFs! He’s already crying and I’m already happy.

- This guy is naked a lot.

- Masturcrying, this show is brutal.

I was completely mistaken when I assumed the show would be episodic horror stories, and I’m ecstatic that I was so wrong. Each episode does seem to have a loose theme of its own–the introduction to the Harmon family in episode one, the serial killer saga in episode two, and the backstories of a handful of other characters in episode three. But the show is ripe with underlying plot and momentum, with a slow burn of suspense rolling underneath it all.

Here’s how the characters are ranked in my estimation currently:

Violet Harmon – I can’t help it, I love her. Her sarcasm, blunt honesty, and unique style are great. She also won points expressing her preference for the East coast.

Moira- I find her incredibly interesting, especially that women see her as a strange old lady and men see her as an object of lust. The men “see what they want to see; women, however, see into the soul of a person,” line was perfect. I am interested to know what kind of spirit she is, and how that works in this universe, since it seems strange that she died as a young woman but now shows age. I hope that is explored later.

Tate- I can’t help it. I adore him. It’s not surprising. I have a thing for screwed up young dude characters. Most of my speculation has to do with him so more on that later.

Vivien Harmon- She’s ending up on the middle of this list and that seems about right. There are some things to like about her as a main character, but she’s a bit bland, too. She seems to have the best instincts out of all of the Harmons–but not quite good enough. The pregnancy story line kind of bothers me.

Larry- Idk I guess this show is great for me because I like all the psychos? I think he might actually be trying to help, so that’s nice, and he reminded me of Mr. Rogers in that sweater vest in the flashback of him killing his family, so points for that creepy imagery.

Adelaide- I don’t like her or really know what to make of her yet. Her supernatural connection to the house is appropriately creepy. I like that she tried to help the Harmons that one time.

Constance- What to say! I love to hate her? I don’t know what to make of her. Mostly I’m curious about why she was trying to poison Violet with those cupcakes. Unless she knew about the hostage situation and everything that would be happening? It would be neat if she has some clairvoyant connection to the house like Addy does.

Hayden- Glad that whole situation was taken care of quickly (thanks, Larry!) I felt bad for the situation she was in, but her unraveling mental state while trying to cling to Jerkface Ben was just awkward.

Ben Harmon- Are we supposed to like him? Does anyone root for this guy? I’m assuming there will be lots of people dying this season and I kinda hope he’s first.

So let’s throw out some wild speculation. Tate. All the supernatural elements are linked to the house, so I’m curious about his connection to it. When he attacked Leah in the basement there were flashes of a monster that looked a bit gobliny to me. That was the same monster that killed the twins in the first scene of the show. So, I’m wondering if he is that goblin-thing? Or perhaps has some control over it? I’ve also briefly entertained the idea that he is Constance’s son who was mentioned at some point, especially since they all seem to know each other.

I wonder if it’s possible to get through this season with a Harmon or two still intact. Since this is the Murder House season, I will leave off with the current House Death Toll: 14.

 

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