Five Forgotten Gems – Comic Book Adaptations

I’m not sure whether we’ve reached the saturation point of comic book media yet. I do know that we’re now fully into the realm of adaptive choices obscure enough that even I have to start doing preemptive google searches when I notice my internet feeds getting particularly excited about certain cameos. But on the other hand it only took us this long to realize that maybe Wonder Woman should get a movie after all, so maybe my preemptive cringing about all the things that might go wrong with the Deadpool movie is beside the point.

All of which is a very long preamble to saying that the recent avalanche of movies based largely on superhero comics into live action spectacle fests, fun ones or no, has left me hungering for some smaller and more experimental takes on media by way of that beautiful and versatile medium of pictures-and-words.

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The Consulting Analyst – An Introduction to Gargoyles

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It’s 1994: the variety show is having its last great hurrah with Animaniacs, people have stopped sleeping just in case Mulder is right and aliens are going to kill them in their sleep, dinosaurs are making millions of dollars, and one the greatest animated shows of the 90s is about to make its debut on television. It wasn’t the first two do Dark and Mature Narrative Content on “kid’s TV” (that crown goes, most certainly, to Batman the Animated Series starting in 1992), but it was unique at providing semi-serialized narratives (or at least hard and fast continuity) and long-term character arcs at a time when even the most well crafted and beautiful series stuck to episodic frameworks. And that’s before we even touch the quality of the content itself. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. This is Gargoyles.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Rick & Morty

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A borderline sociopathic old man drags his grandson from dimension to dimension, supposedly as an assistant but more often just for the company, and simultaneously exposes the kid to an endless parade of mind-scarring horrors. Or more simply, “wow, the whole mad-scientist-and-kid-protégé gimmick is pretty screwed up, isn’t it?” That’s more or less the premise of Rick & Morty (which originally grew out of a pretty X-Rated flash animation parodying Doc Brown and Marty McFly), an Adult Swim title that already has a cult following to rival The Venture Bros. and the critical praise to match. While it’s definitely not a show for everyone (I could give a list of content warnings the length of my arm), it is undeniably well made with a deceptively affectionate touch in regards to its characters.

The show, co-created by Community’s Dan Harmon and animator Justin Roiland (whom you may also know as Lemongrab and Blendin Blandin), aired its first season (ten episodes and the pilot) back in 2013, and will be kicking off another ten episode season on July 26th (there was a leak, but let’s try not to be part of the problem, shall we?). What’s more, I’m going to be recapping that second season right here. But don’t worry if you missed out on the original airing. You can currently see the whole first season on Adult Swim (which is region-free) and Hulu. And if you’re on the fence still? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Also, there will be spoilers. That’s kind of the point.

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The Consulting Analyst – Silent Hill Downpour

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[Apologies for the late arrival, readers. Please enjoy this last look into the Silent Hill franchise, and – barring a last minute deluge of voters – prepare to enjoy some Dumas-inspired analysis to take this franchise’s place in the future.]

The final stop on our tour (because at present there’s nothing I can say about PT’s present that hasn’t been covered more adroitly, and it hasn’t been long enough for a real post-mortem; and Book of Memories isn’t part of the mainline canon) is the first draft of a really great Silent Hill game. This was tragically undermined by the fact that it got lumped into Konami’s shortsighted attempt to flood the market with three SH games during its 2012 “Month of Madness,” and the fact that despite getting delayed multiple times the final product was still a bug-ridden mess on top of the arguable conceptual problems. I mean, it came out better than the HD Collection, but desiccated corpses repurposed as compost heaps come out with a better smell of quality than the HD Collection did.

The main protagonist – well, the player character (more on that later) of Downpour is Murphy Pendleton (David Boyd Konrad), a prison inmate who winds up in Silent Hill when the bus transporting him to a maximum security facility crashes at the edge of town. Murphy is pursued by dogged police officer Anne Cunningham, and haunted by the town’s usual bag of head-spelunking hallucinations. You can watch a pretty thorough walkthrough of it here (alas, I’ve never found a version with commentary that particularly appealed).

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Trauma and Sunshine: Re-Evaluating Night Vale’s Kevin

In the land of mysterious occurrences and motivations that is Welcome to Night Vale, few characters remain more inscrutable than Kevin. Each of his rare appearances raises as many questions as it answers, if not more, and when fans step into answer those questions their answers tend to be…less than favorable. A lot of that is well earned, given we’re talking about a character with a few directly attributable murders on his hands, promoting propaganda that led to the imprisonment of the majority of Night Vale’s population, and his relentless refusal to acknowledge emotions that aren’t “happiness and hard work.”

On the other hand, the character’s gained both a sympathetic backstory and some pretty strong positive character development (relatively speaking) in the last year, while fan perceptions seem to keep on defaulting back to “the manipulative psychotic eldritch abomination.” And that’s always struck me as a terrible shame. So in light of the precipice the Kevin’s been left on in light of the 3rd year anniversary, it struck me as a good time to see if there isn’t something a bit more ambiguous than evil on our hands.

All art used in this essay was created by the talented heronfoot, and is used with permission
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To be perfectly clear, I am NOT trying to insist that Kevin doesn’t still need to atone for his actions as the mouthpiece of StrexCorp and the Smiling God, that his behavior in 70A was acceptable, or that Carlos should’ve stayed in the Desert Otherworld (if anything, their tentatively positive relationship requires Carlos getting back to a healthier overall support system).

I AM interested in pointing out how far Kevin’s come since “Old Oak Doors,” that his interactions are rooted in trauma and his own self-harming coping mechanisms rather than malicious and manipulative intent, and that his behavior in “Taking Off” is more or less equivalent to Cecil’s during Year One.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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The Next Consulting Analyst Poll

It’s been a long year for The Consulting Analyst, and at last we’ve come to the end of our current cycle of series (or very nearly). The readership around here has grown quite a bit since then, so many of you may not know about the bit that comes next – but I think you’ll find it pretty neat!

Ever since the first proper Consulting Analyst ended, it’s been my practice to ask for reader input on upcoming series. They go on for quite a long while, after all, so it’s as good for me as for you to get a sense of what folks’ll be invested in. Here’s how it works: below the cut I’ve listed three series I’ve considered for the next interim series (that’s the once-a-month one – the weekly series is already decided and will be a surprise), and a short description of what it’s like and how you might expect me to cover it.

There’s also a fourth option on the poll for “Other,” where y’all are welcome to comment with your own suggestions. They might not make it in this time (CA series are limited to subjects I know pretty well, so that I can dig in under the skin for the writing), but if there’s enough interest I might seek it out and offer it in the future (though if it IS something I’ve seen, we’ll play it by ear). Additionally, only finished series are eligible for coverage. Being able to see something start to finish is important for trying to grapple with what kind of story it is!

ADDITIONALLY, both Yuri Kuma Arashi and Penguindrum are off the table for this round – I’m decidedly interested in the former at the very least, but I need a break from Ikuhara for a while.

You’ll have two weeks to vote, since next Friday is the last Silent Hill post (after thinking it over I’ve realized PT isn’t really in a place where I can cover it effectively – all the immediate post mortems on the business end have been done, and there’s not really much in the way of narrative to deal with). Have fun, you lot.

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Let’s Talk About the Rick and Morty Leak

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It’s been a dreadful summer for creative teams in the animation industry: not long ago Disney dropped the ball and leaked an episode of Gravity Falls on the UK iTunes (not even the next episode due to air, but the one after that) when the show was finally on the verge of coming back from a five month hiatus, and this past week the first two episodes of Rick and Morty season two found their way onto the internet.

And while I’ve seen a fair amount of justification along the lines of “well it’s out there now, just live with it” there are still a hell of a lot of issues, creative and financial, that we need to discuss here. Because whatever else might be true, this is an awful thing. Continue reading