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The Groovy Grab Bag 2/3/16

This week’s Groovy Grab Bag brought to you by Pop Culture Uncovered. As always, send your thoughts or lists to my twitter. Sorry for keeping you all waiting, but hey, more talk.

Comics:
Scalped #25-60
Gotham Central #11-40
Spider-Man 2099 #4-5
New Avengers #5
Batman & Robin #16-17
Superman/Wonder Woman #25
Secret Six #10
Titans Hunt #4
Arkham Knight: Genesis #2-6
Uncanny X-Men #1
Uncanny Inhumans #3
Extraordinary X-Men #4
Squadron Supreme #1-2
Nova #1-3
All-New Wolverine #3
All-New Inhumans #2
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1-2
All-New Ghost Rider #2-4
Starbrand and Nightmask #2
Grayson #16
We Are Robin #7-8
Superman/Wonder Woman #13-17
Captain America: Sam Wilson #4-5
Daredevil #2

This week’s offerings flipped between a lot of Scalped, Gotham Central, and new Marvel comics; though this week’s MVP is absolutely Scalped. While I know I’m a few years late to the party, binge-reading the series is an interesting endeavor, if a rather depressing experience. While I won’t spoil the outcome, or anything that remotely resembles a plot point from those final issues, I will say that it absolutely does nothing to hold back.

What gives Scalped a great deal of power is how unflinching it is about the setting of Prairie Rose. While we want happy endings for the characters we attach ourselves to, some people are born at the wrong place and wrong time in places that are too far gone. What’s beautiful about the construction of the final arc Jason Aaron and R.M Guera crafted is how trapped everyone is by their choices in the end, the rawness as everything that’s built up over those last 60 issues finally comes spilling out in an ocean of blood as is typical for the series. While this is a final ending for the characters we’ve watched grow throughout the series, something that’s been unfortunately reinforced through the series is how the traumas visited upon the people of the Rez, from the very beginning their ancestors were forced in there are trapped as much by circumstance as their choices. The brutal cycle of destruction and attempts to undo that will always continue, no matter how much new paint is put on top, which as cynical as it is, is also a painful truth the characters face in order to move forward.

Television:
Community
Flash
Legends of Tomorrow
Arrested Development

As anyone who’s watched Community can tell you: it’s an emotional roller coaster. While it is by default a comedy, it really knows how to extract heartbreak from pretty much any situation. While it shares some DNA with Arrested Development, it’s extremely distinct in how much further it plumbs to the abyss for humor and tragedy. While this is all stuff worth talking at more length than simply as part of a column, Community as a show evolves to different extremes from season to season. Even without the misbegotten “gas leak year”, under the stewardship of Dan Harmon, it reaches into different places, especially in Season 5. Something worth checking out in your spare time, or if you just want to binge (while being emotionally ripped to extremes), go check it out.

Movies:
Sanjuro
Throne of Blood

Having started on Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune’s collaborations, it’s interesting watching the twin evolutions of both men in their craft. Kurosawsa from movie to movie is stylistically different, as is Mifune. But that difference is pretty pronounced between Sanjuro and Throne of Blood. The former is fairly action-oriented, and has Mifune returning to his role as the titular super-samurai Sanjuro. That role puts him back in the shoes of the scruffy, rule-breaking ronin. While not as definitively western as Yojimbo, it still has that slight intensity that defined its predecessor. By contrast though, Throne of Blood calls for a different set of skills from both major players. While it is basically Macbeth in Japan, Kurosawa still brings a completely different style to the film, and with it a fairly creepy horror-oriented bent to it. While that’s natural given that Throne of Blood recasts the Macbeth legend in ways more befitting of Japan’s spiritual history, Kurosawa makes the story his own, as well as the dramatic conflict that those spiritual roots bring to the fore.

While not looking that much different aside from cleaning up a little more, Mifune’s role as Washizu is a completely different man from Sanjuro. While he starts out as a more traditional, battle-tested, honorable man at the start of the film, compared to Sanjuro’s more coarse nature, Mifune’s character arc emphasizes his slow descent into madness. One that starts out in small doses with little odd tics, and more pronounced career-oriented power plays like assassinating his lord, this eventually culminates with a wide-eyed Washizu meeting his end at the hands of his own terrified men, and Mifune brings a melancholy that evolves into full-blown panic, which while seemingly sudden, works with the movie’s ability to create jarring shifts in both the reality of the characters, and the film itself.

Anyway, I hope you all are having a great February. See you next week when we talk about Michael Mann’s Blackhat and some Witcher.

About soshillinois (293 Articles)
What's there to say about me? Well I'm an avid fan of comics, video games, tv shows, and movies alike. I love to read, consume, and discuss information of all kinds. My writing is all a part of who I am.
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