Critical Hits and Misses #18: August 31st, 2016

Today's critical rolls:
1. Favorite film in the Disney animated canon?
2. Of all Jim Henson's multitude of muppets, which is the best?
3. Have you read anything worthwhile, as of late?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: don't be a cancerous shitgoblin.

Critical Hits and Misses #17: August 30th, 2016

  • If you want to get hyped up about the upcoming Luke Cage show, we recommend reading Wired's thorough article/interview with show creator Cheo Hodari Coker, titled "Why Netflix's Luke Cage is the superhero we really need right now." Apart from background on the show and all the conditions of its coming into existence, it goes into the significance of having a black superhero at the center of a major TV show, and especially one who is bulletproof. (Tova)
  • Den of Geek’s Caroline Preece discusses the Berlantiverse and how it’s become one of the most diverse and inclusive comic-related properties out there. (Ivonne)
  • Deadline: Sorry to all the fans of absurdist comedy out there, satirical talk show Comedy Bang Bang will end after the fifth season finale, according to Deadline. (Zach)

Today's musical hit is "Take This Body," a folky duet between Gill Landry and Laura Marling. (Etienne)

Today's critical rolls:
1. The floor has become yogurt. Is this worse or better than lava? Show your work. (Etienne)
2. What is your personal favorite nostalgic series?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: don't be a goatish, motley-minded scut.

Le Creme de le Creme des Héroïnes, part 1: Yoko Tsuno

When I decided to write an introductory series on heroines in Franco-Belgian bande-dessinée, it wasn't hard to know where to start.
There are numerous heroines in BD, but few are as iconic and enduring as the famous Yoko Tsuno, a Japanese expatriate living in Belgium, skilled electronics engineer, pilot and all around adventurer. 

(Warning: a few spoilers follow for the series.)

Created by Belgian comic artist Roger Leloup, she was born in September 1970: Yoko Tsuno's short story debut, featuring her first encounter with soon-to-be-friends Vic and Pol, was published in the weekly BD magazine Spirou. Leloup, who is currently 83 and still penning the series himself, worked under Hergé on The Adventures of Tintin, producing technical and background drawings, and wrote quite a number of specialized pages which he also illustrated for Tintin magazine. This training is significant because apart from its characterization, another strong element of The Adventures of Yoko Tsuno is undoubtedly the magnificent machinery and wealth of background detail that populate its pages.

At first Yoko was created to play second fiddle to a duo of male characters, but after having been warned by Hergé ("Be careful, women have never worked out in bande-dessinée"), Leloup decided that she was still the most interesting part of his story. The series was finally approved by the publisher Dupuis and Yoko was immediately embraced by the readers of Spirou. Le journal de Tintin (Tintin Magazine) and Spirou are two of the oldest Franco-Belgian comics magazine. Tintin magazine stopped in 1993 while Spirou is still ongoing, reinventing itself decade after decade. For the most part, series published in Tintin adopted the famous ligne claire style championned by Hergé, while series published in Spirou belong to the Marcinelle or Charleroi schools of drawing. 

As far as Leloup is concerned, it's interesting to note that he worked in both, and that if Yoko's adventures started in the Marcinelle/Charleroi style, they evolved rapidly toward ligne claire.

Yoko appears for the first time.

The first album of the series relates how Yoko met Vic and Pol, and how they together met the Vineans, a technologically-advanced extraterrestrial people who took refuge on earth thousands of years ago, after fleeing the cataclysm that destroyed their home planet. The story of the Vinean diaspora and their efforts to get back to Vinea after realizing the planet survived (and then trying to find the dispersed remnants of their people) is one of the main storylines in the series. It's in this first volume that Yoko meets Khâny, the leader of the Vinean refugees, a no-nonsense but sympathetic woman who has to deal with dissension in the ranks—and the machinations of a mysterious adversary. It's the beginning of a long and close friendship between the two women.

 Vynka comments on Khâny and Yoko's friendship in Les titans (The Titans).

There's no need to ask if the series passes the Bechdel-Wallace test. Most albums of the series do, and women are very often at the center of Yoko's adventures, either as friends or foes. And when she makes friend with them, they tend to become an integral part of the series, recurring guest-stars whose stories also evolve in the background.

A few antagonists from the series:

 The "vampire" in La frontière de la vie (On the Edge of Life).

 Cruel Queen Hégora in Les archanges de Vinéa (The Archangels of Vinea).

 Bitter and harsh Myrka in La lumière d'Ixo (The light of Ixo).

On the Rhine, Yoko saves the life of Ingrid Hallberg, a famous organist who is trying to solve what she thinks is the murder of her father. They will become fast friends and Ingrid will feature in a number of Earth-side adventures. 

Yoko and Ingrid in La frontière de la vie (On the Edge of Life).

Visiting her cousin in Borneo, Yoko helps Monya, a young time traveler from the future who has come to prevent the destruction of Earth. Yoko will eventually welcome her into her family and, together with her new cousin, have many time-traveling shenanigans.

 Monya uses the "Translator" (called the shifter in English) for the very first time in La spirale du temps (The Time Spiral).

In China, Yoko meets Rosée du Matin (Morning Dew), and her pet dragon. She will end-up adopting the little girl. Those are only three of the prominent female characters that Yoko meets and embraces during the series. No wonder then that it accumulated such a following among female readers. According to the feedback received by Leloup himself, over two thirds of his readers are girls and women.

Rosée calls her friend in Le dragon de Hong Kong (Hong Kong's Dragon).

Leloup is  often quoted as saying he has refrained from giving Yoko a romantic partner because he thought that the readers were in love with the character and therefore shouldn't have any rival. Be that as it may, the scribe went on record in a 2014 interview to announce that Yoko and Vic are in a relationship, but that he has no particular intention of describing their private romantic lives. Their sentimental interactions are very low-key.

Yoko nevertheless easily falls into passionate declarations of feelings towards people, women included, and even admits almost falling in love with a (male presenting) android. This, combined with the numerous women and female-presenting beings she meets, indubitably leaves room for the imagination, and explains why the series is sometimes recommended to people looking for LGBTQ BD leads.

 Decision making time in La fille du vent (Daughter of the Wind).

There's rarely any assumption that Yoko can't do something because she is a woman. She is not that strong, but she's a black belt in Aikido, an art she uses sparsely. She's also quick to point out her qualifications when needed. The only blatant example of someone objecting on grounds of her gender that I can think of takes place during the album La fille du vent (Daughter of the Wind), in which Yoko, for the first time in the series, goes back to Japan to help her father Seiki Tsuno (a geophysicist who studies the creation of tornadoes) and her old mentor and second father figure, Aoki. Out of fear, her father tries to prevent Yoko from participating in a dangerous operation on the grounds that it is not a mission for a woman, thereby earning himself a pointed retort. In the end, Seiki is plyed by Aoki.

By refusing to put his heroine in any type of blatantly romantic position, Leloup easily avoids objectification—even in the usual course of his stories, there's nary a whiff of it among his many female characters. There's not much exotification either, bar a slight tendency to quote pseudo "A sage said" aphorisms (not just by Yoko). As far as I can tell (being French myself) Leloup manages his forays into foreign cultures relatively well, probably because he is such a stickler for in-depth research. 

 Khâny and Yoko pay their respects to the tomb of Skunk at the end of Les titans (The Titans).

In short, Leloup's cast of characters is somewhat diverse and the series has a decidedly progressive outlook, which never comes out as clearly as in Les titans (The Titans), where the story ends with Khâny reading back to Yoko her own words, etched in a crystal material that will defy time: "The forms that differentiate beings don't matter much if their thoughts unite to build a universe" ("Les formes qui différencient les êtres importent peu si leurs pensées s'unissent pour bâtir un univers.").

A worthy motto for a worthy series.

The Adventures of Yoko Tsuno was and is still published by Dupuis, one of the oldest BD publishers in Belgium, and currently counts 26 volumes. There is also a thematic anthology collection featuring a lot of added material. The series is translated in 16 languages. In English, 10 of the volumes have been translated by Cinebook and a few of the first volumes of the Vinean story arc were published together by Catcom, under the title Yoko Vic and Paul 1 & 2. 

For a closer look at mechas in Yoko Tsuno, visit this blog post "From Earth To Vinea : Cool Machinery part 1".

This article is cross-posted on We Shall be Heroes as Let Me Be Your Heroin 1: Yoko Tsuno.


BD: pronounced as "beh-deh", is the usual short-hand for bande-dessinée, or Franco-Belgian comics.

Album: a volume of BD, usually containing one complete story. The traditional number of pages is 44 to 46 pages, the format is about 32 cm x 24 cm (but may vary slightly from publisher to publisher), with a hard glossy cover. Indies (even established ones) have different formats, often closer to the US comics size, without a hard cover and with an indefinite number of pages.

Kinoumenthe is a sentient patch of mint sent to Earth to study human pop culture and stealthily report to her extraterrestrial overlords.

Steven Universe Recap - S04E04 - "Mindful Education"

After everything that’s happened in the final stretch of season 3 episodes, you might think there would be some effect on Steven’s psyche. You’d be very correct, and this is where Mindful Education delves. Also – Estelle sings.

But before we get to both main items, a little setup. This is the first time Steven and Connie are training as Stevonnie, and Garnet–always excited by fusion–sits in to cheer. She ends up taking on the role of a teacher however, after Stevonnie unfuses. The reason for that is an incident earlier in the day when, after a fellow student accidentally bumped into her, Connie's Pearl-honed instincts took over and she accidentally hurt him. During training, she ends up being triggered and breaks apart from Steven–and so does Stevonnie.

Luckily, there’s Garnet, who along with being the show’s personification of a lesbian relationship, also personifies a healthy relationship. Being thousands of years old, she had enough time for Ruby and Sapphire to find out the best way for the two of them to live with each other. And, considering during the show’s run there was only one instance of Garnet unfusing over a disagreement (in Keystone Motel), she is the perfect teacher for Stevonnie. And she does it through a song, which later turns into a duet with her pupil.

Here Comes a Thought was written by Rebecca Sugar as a personal song, previously unrelated to the show. It describes the therapeutic process of dealing with intrusive thoughts, like anxiety or depression, called the mindfulness meditation (hence the title). Its focus is placed on negative thoughts, becoming aware of them and dealing with them, as opposed to ignoring or being consumed by them. It’s presented with the example of Ruby and Sapphire.

Ruby is the more open of the two, so when she has an intrusive thought (represented by a butterfly), she deals with it immediately and head-on–but she also gives it her full attention, ignoring her partner. Sapphire, meanwhile, ignores them–with catastrophic effects, as the negative thoughts cumulate. The butterflies turn into a swarm, which in turn becomes a maelstrom that threatens to consume everything. In the same way a small problem, if ignored, can become much greater, seemingly all-consuming. But by supporting each other and being open about their worries, the two Gems are able to counter their effects and remain a single whole. They’re able to put their problems in perspective–and solve them. Conversely, if either of them would leave their anxieties unaddressed, the effect would have negative repercutions on their relationship–and, in the show’s world, their fusion. Fusions are, in Pearl’s words, "the ultimate connection"–and have for a long time been the show’s metaphor for a relationship.

Mindfulness doesn’t stop the intrusive thoughts, but it helps to calm down and look at them from a more logical and less anxious perspective. The repetition of "It’s okay" in the lyrics mimics reassurances one is told (or tells themselves) during an anxiety attack. One can not remain happy all the time–it’s okay to feel bad. It’s the only way you’ll be able to confront your own fears and grow.

With that advice, Connie is able to address her problem–but the next day, it’s Steven’s worries that drown their fusion.

For the last huge number of episodes, Steven has faced death on multiple occasions, from people he was unable to reach by words and talk down. Bismuth, Jasper, Eyeball the Ruby–he had to hurt all three of them (and in Eyeball’s case, leave to certain death) to save his own life. And even that pales in comparison to his Rose Quartz issues, his constant anxiety at not measuring up to his mother. On the outside he’s his old optimistic self–but on the inside he’s barely holding together.

All of that causes Stevonnie to accidentally fall from the edge of the ruins–and unfuse on the way down. Only when Connie repeats Garnet’s mindful advice is he able to reconnect with her and fuse once more, saving their lives with his floating ability. Those issues will remain, lingering in the back of his mind, but with Connie and the Gems’ help, he’ll be able to hold them at bay.

To end on a different note, the episode was storyboarded, alongside Crewniverse regulars Jeff Liu and Colin Howard, by Takafumi Hori, Studio Trigger’s animation director. You may know his work from Kill la Kill. He storyboarded the episode’s dream sequences during Here Comes a Thought and Stevonnie’s anxiety attacks, and the effect is stunning, with fluid animation. It's a sight to behold.

Next time, Steven plays fortune teller at Funland. It could be a lighthearted episode, but who knows at this point. Afterwards, we’ll be back for at least two more weeks, with the second one featuring two episodes. After that–who knows? In any case, I’ll see you at Future Boy Zoltron.

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.

Make a Solicit Check: Best of November 2016 Comic Solicitations

There are many comics coming out every month, so it’s easy to lose track of promising new releases. That’s why we here at Critical Writ have started "Make a Solicit Check"—a monthly column devoted to the most inspiring announcements.

This month: Wakandan lesbians, princess detectives, and genderqueer knights!

10. Don’t Panic

Mother Panic #1 – Jody Houser, Tommy Lee Edwards (DC/Young Animal)

The final title of the first wave of Gerard Way’s DC imprint Young Animals—this time written by Faith’s Jody Houser. The titular Mother Panic is a vigilante identity used by Violet Paige—Gotham’s newest "celebutante"—to get revenge for her traumatic childhood. It sounds like a curious antithesis to Faith, whose escapades Houser scripts over at Valiant. Also it seems like Mother Panic is the most connected to DC universe of all the Young Animal titles, what with the outright mention of Gotham City.

Mother Panic #1 is set to be released on November 9.

09. No More Days

Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 – Gerry Conway, Ryan Stegman

Well, it might be in a separate universe, but Mary Jane and Peter Parker are back to being married and having their daughter, Annie. With a twist—both MJ and Annie have Peter’s spider powers, turning superheroing into a family business.

Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 is set to be released on November 9.

08. From Hitwoman to P.I.

Angel City #2 – Janet Harvey, Megan Levens (Oni Press)


In last month’s struggle to cover most of Marvel’s new announcements, I ended up ignoring the release of Oni Press’s new female-led comic: a 1930s noir story. Time to fix this oversight.
Angel City stars Dolores Dare, former Hollywood hopeful, current enforcer for the Volante mob family. This changes when her best friend is found, another victim of the April Fool’s Killer. She starts her own investigation, which ends up setting her against a conspiracy of Hollywood studios, LA’s finest, and her own gang peers.

The first issue is set to be released on October 5; the second issue is coming out on November 16.

07. Have You Seen This (Bat)Man?

Super Powers #1 – Art Baltazar, Franco (DC)

Fans of adorable comics Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures—rejoice! The creative duo behind those titles is back with a new miniseries filled with cuteness and fun. Batman has gone missing and Wonder Woman is on the case. After Superman finds a clue in Gotham, she begins her search—in space!

Super Powers #1 is set to be released on November 23.

06. Emptying the 8house

Arclight #3 – Brandon Graham, Marian Churchland (Image)

Last year, Brandon Graham started his new project for Image: 8house. It was a line of miniseries published with the same main title, but otherwise completely unconnected. Those series were Graham and Marian Churchland's Arclight, Graham and Xerxe D. Penalta’s Kiem, Helen Maier and Fil Barlow’s Yorris and, finally, Emma Rios and Hwei Lim’s Mirror. The twist was that all four minis would be published incomplete (only 1 or 2 issues) and moving to the next in the order I listed them—until Mirror, which would be the first released in its entirety. And then everything else would be finished in the opposite order: Yorris, Kiem and, finally, Arclight. Basically, it was an attempt to imitate the structure of Cloud Atlas (the book, not the movie) with monthly published comics.

It didn’t work out, thanks to delays and not exactly sky-high sales, and the project was mostly dropped. By which I mean: all the series will end (Mirror ended earlier this year), but not as part of 8house, and not in the order presented above.

And thus we get to Arclight, which tells the story of the titular genderqueer knight, helping free his sorcerer princess trapped in an alien body, in a beautifully-rendered science-fantasy world. The first two issues are available digitally, so there’s plenty time to catch up with the series before it returns.

Arclight #3 is set to be released on November 23.

05. Fresh Meat!

New Talent Showcase #1 (DC)

A while back, DC started its Talent Development workshop for writers and artists, where entrants would learn from the company’s master storytellers. (Insert joke about DC’s less-than-stellar track-record of stories from their masters here.) The catch is that a resumé had to be submitted to be part of the workshops—this means this one-shot, which features stories written by its graduates, boasts about showcasing "new" talents even though most of them have already been working in the industry for a while. Chris Sebela, Michael Morecci, Joëlle Jones and Long Walk to Valhalla co-writer Adam Smith are the biggest stand-outs. On the plus side, the list of writers is diverse and it’s nice of DC to give a chance for writers to play in their toybox, even if it's just for one issue.

The full list of featured authors is as follows: Vita Ayala, Emma Beeby, Joelle Jones, Hena Khan, Michael McMillan, Michael Morecci, Erica Schultz, Christopher Sebela, and Adam Smith.

New Talent Showcase #1 is set to be released on November 30.

04. #TakeBackJustice

Occupy Avengers #1 – David F. Walker, Carlos Pacheco (Marvel)

If there’s one lesson from Civil War II, it’s that you can’t trust superheroes to do their job instead of petty squabbling. That’s where Hawkeye (Clint Barton) and friends come in, standing up for the little people. After Nighthawk and Power Man and Iron Fist, David F. Walker is among the best Marvel writers, so this is a comic to look out for. And if you’re worried there’s no sign of the other Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, don’t worry and have patience—she’ll star in her own future comic titled Hawkeye by Kelly Thompson, and with art by Leonardo Romero. We’ll keep you updated.

Occupy Avengers #1 is set to be released on November 2.

03. The Study in Cute

Mega Princess #1 (of 5) – Kelly Thompson, Brianne Drouhard (Boom! Studios/KaBoom)

Speaking of Kelly Thompson: the writer of Jem and the Holograms and A-Force is teaming up with a Disney artist, Brianne Drouhard, to tell a new all-ages comic for KaBoom, a Boom! Studios imprint.

Princess Maxine gets the traditional gifts from her fairy godmother on her tenth birthday, none of which she actually cares for because they don’t help her achieve her greatest dream: to become a detective. And when her baby brother, Prince Robert IV, goes missing, she and her sarcastic pony Justine are on the case! And those Mega Princess powers might actually come in handy.

02. Beyond the Panther

Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 – Roxanne Gay, Alitha Martinez (Marvel)

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s current Black Panther run is a smash hit for Marvel, and a damn good comic for an industry newcomer. And now it’s getting a companion book that will fill in the blanks in world-building and develop the comic’s supporting characters. The first arc will be written by renowned writer Roxanne Gay, with art by Alitha Martinez; it will focus on Ayo and Aneka, the former Dora Milaje lesbian lovers, and will depict the blossoming of relationship before the start of Coates’s run. The first issue will also have a back-up story by Coates himself and poet Yona Harvey, with art by Afua Richardson; this one will focus on another female character, the Panther’s mysterious antagonist Zenzi.

Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1 is set to be released on November 9.

01. Be the Change

CBLDF Liberty Annual 2016 (Image)

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a wonderful organization, founded in 1986 to protect the First Amendment rights of comic book creators, publishers and retailers by covering their legal expenses. They also sponsor Banned Book Week and help libraries keep graphic novels on their shelves. I’ve already covered their book, She Changed Comics (reminder: out on October 5), focused on female comics creators.

As a non-profit organization, one of CBLDF’s ways of getting funding is releasing yearly anthologies, Liberty Annuals—one of which is the subject of this entry. This time, writers and artists from the industry are saluting real-life legends, people who changed the world: suffragettes, visionaries, and sports legends. And all proceeds go to CBLDF and their mission, with Image not keeping a single penny.

The full list of writers and artists featured is as follows: Andrew Aydin, Anina Bennett, Tim Fielder, Paul Guinan, Joe Keatinge, Larry Marder, JM Ken Niimura, Paul Pope, MK Reed, Dan Schkade, Bryan Talbot, Mary M. Talbot, Shannon Wheeler and Ronald Wimberly.

CBLDF Liberty Annual 2016 is set to be released on November 2.

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.

Critical Hits & Misses #16: August 29th, 2016 - Bunday

The Flash and Leo Routh
  • Roxane Gay writes in The New York Times about the past rape charges towards movie director Nate Parker: “I cannot separate the art and the artist, just as I cannot separate my blackness and my continuing desire for more representation of the black experience in film from my womanhood, my feminism, my own history of sexual violence, my humanity.” (Tova)
Introducing a new segment: Bunday!

What a majestic fluffer nutter.
Clearly, the best way to end a Bunday.
Slumber Buns are John's spirit animals.

Today's critical rolls:
1 What is your favorite type of confection? (Besides candy.)
2. If you were a bird, what type of bird do you think you would be?
3. What is the best snack to have during a movie? (Besides popcorn.)

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: refrain from being douchetastic to one another.

On Public Humiliation and Voyeurism: Black Mirror S01E01

If you’ve never heard of Black Mirror before, I guess you’ve been hiding under the same rock I’ve been under. Somehow I missed this show popping up in 2011 and running through 2014. Like a lot of British TV, "seasons" are short and episodes are long. This is not a show you should binge-watch, as every episode requires some mental digestion and processing.

Black Mirror bears a resemblance to The Twilight Zone, with an emphasis on the potential consequences of technology, so it’s pretty heavy into the sci-fi genre. Every episode features a different story, narrative setting, and cast. If you love British actors, movies, and TV, you will recognize a lot of your faves (for example: Hayley Atwell, and actors from Harry Potter and Downton Abbey). 

Over the course of the next few months, I’ll be reviewing every episode, and leading directly into the new season coming in October. Spoilers are likely inevitable, so if you are interested in watching the show, you might want to watch the episode before reading my review on it.

Another word of warning: Black Mirror doesn’t shy away from sexual content, which is oftentimes disturbing. The first episode, in fact, is pretty wicked in this regard. Not sexual violence, exactly— just disturbing sexual content and implications. With a dash of bestiality (no worries, this is not a recurring theme in other episodes). [Editor's note: The rest of this post abounds in spoilers for the first episode.]

“The National Anthem” is an episode about the fictional Prime Minister of Britain, Michael Callow, who wakes up one day to face a shocking dilemma. Princess Susannah, Duchess of Beaumont, has been abducted, and a video of her appears on YouTube with her being forced to read the abductor's terms for her safe return. Turns out that in order for her to live, the Prime Minister must have sexual intercourse with a pig on national television, and the demands come with some highly specific technical requirements to ensure that the act isn’t faked. 

The PM’s office tries to keep it contained, but with the video on YouTube, that ship has sailed. The UK media initially agrees to keep the story quiet, but when the American media picks it up,  British media feels it cannot remain silent any longer and runs the story. 

It’s important to note that while the plot involves the Prime Minister and his office trying to get ahead of this and find a way to cheat it, the most important role does not have a single human face: YouTube, Twitter and the dregs of the commentariat loom large over the story. 

Seriously, the people who wrote this episode know their social media very, very well

You also have plenty of scenes that focus on the reactions of regular British citizens, and the episode believably tracks public opinion as it shifts from sympathetic towards Callow—with no expectation that he will go through with the act—to practically demanding that he cave into the abudctor's sordid demands in order to save the princess. A last-ditch attempt to find the misplaced noble in an abandoned building turns out to be a decoy and becomes disastrous when military forces injure a reporter in the process. With that failure and the public’s opinion turned ugly, Callow appears to have no choice: looks like he’s going to have to fuck a pig on TV. 

I won’t ruin the ending for you. Let’s talk about how frighteningly realistic this episode is, because it’s easily the most realistic of all the ones in seasons one and two. 

This can happen. The way the episode was written, it is extremely—frighteningly—plausible. For example, there is a scene where Callow’s wife made the dubious decision to read YouTube comments on the abduction video, and one of the comments laughingly talks about how she, Jane Callow, will be sucking bacon off her husband’s cock. 

Anyone who has ever experienced the absolute cesspool that is the YouTube comments knows this is exactly how it would be, especially in talking about a woman. The Twitter trends, the way public opinion shifts very swiftly and darkly, the fact that the public seems incapable of looking away from the spectacle: it’s so horrifyingly real and such a statement on humanity. We learn later that Bloom, the abductor, does all this to make a statement about how people are so distracted by media that they fail to notice what is happening in the real world. 

Given the terrible violation of Leslie Jones recently and the release of her nude pics to the public, there is so much to parse in this episode regarding the general grossness of the Internet, how people treat other human beings with such disregard, the hive-mind mentality of Twitter and social media in general—and even the way Jane Callow is treated despite the fact that she really has nothing to do with any of this.

And Bloom’s point (that people are easily distracted from real life by crap on a screen) is a valid one, even if he makes it in an extreme manner. I am reminded of the comment made by Roman poet Juvenal in 100 AD: panem et circenses, or bread and circuses. Stupid distractions keep the public from becoming involved in politics or things of import. This topic has been covered before in great detail, (yes there are 4 different articles there) with the media failing to cover important world events and instead focusing on celebrity trash (like Justin Bieber's run-ins with the law, for example). "The National Anthem" is about British citizens, but honestly, it could just as easily have been set in the US. If anything, I am vaguely surprised it isn't, because I always had the impression that UK audiences are less ignorant than we are.

Is there any greater circus act than Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube getting all excited about the latest celebrity nude pics—or about whatever the outrage du jour is before it blows over within a day or two? And what does it say about us when we are willing to engage in gross voyeurism at the expense of a human's dignity whose main sin is that they happen to live in the public eye? 

Bread and circuses, my friend. Bread and circuses.

You can watch seasons one and two and the Christmas special of Black Mirror on Netflix right now in the US, with a longer run of season three about to premiere on Netflix on October 21, 2016.

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.

Critical Hits and Misses #15: August 26th, 2016

  • This week's hit you may have missed: Critical Writ contributers had a post-mortem roundtable discussion on the Ghostbusters reboot.
  • The staff at Comics Alliance has compiled recommendations appropriate for introducing young readers to the worlds of both DC and Marvel. (John)
  • Time Magazine follows the evolution of Harley Quinn and discusses her status as a feminist icon to some and a sexist stereotype to others. (Ivonne)

For today's musical hit, Toronto's Good Kid perform their latest single, "Atlas." (Etienne)

Today's critical questions:

1. What is the goofiest Pokémon design?
2. What is something mundane that you feel an inordinate amount of pride in?
3. Who is the most memorable one-off character on The Simpsons?
4. Which DCEU film (so far) is the least awful?
5a. Who is the most memorable fictional scientist?
5b. Villainous scientist?
5c. Heroic scientist?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: don't be a fuckin' asshole.

Archie #11 Review: Let's Rock Out!

Archie #11 focuses on the recent enmity between Archie and Betty mediated by the power of rock. Veronica wants to regain the admiration of the Riverdale crowd by winning the school’s talent show. Sure, the plan sounds like something out of a Disney sitcom, but she’s a former reality tv star. Due to the scripted nature of most reality shows—and her sheltered life among the elite— she probably doesn’t realize that it’s an iffy plan. As for Betty, after hearing “The Ronnies” play, she immediately throws together her own band, comprised of her musically-talented acquaintances—and Moose. As Dilton says, do you really want to say no to Moose? 

I’m going to be completely honest: I’ve never been the biggest fan of the "Battle Of The Bands" trope. It’s just one of those plots that has never really interested me. At best, they can be an amusing excuse for some goofiness, but at worst, it devolves into pointless, petty arguments. It does work for this issue, however: music has already been established as a strong component of Archie’s life and his relationship with Betty and Veronica, respectively. In addition, the company itself has a precedent for those types of stories, one of the most recent being a contest between The Archies and Josie And The Pussycats in Archie & Friends.

Unrelated to the story where Valerie and Archie start dating, but it's an easy mistake.

To my delight, almost the entire first chapter is a throwback to the classic Riverdale ‘verse, with quick half-page stories and rhyming titles. It serves as an effective way to pay homage to the original stories while also providing a decent amount of exposition and revealing new plot developments. In a way, it’s the comic-book version of a movie montage. I quite enjoy it and I hope that it continues to appear in the comic.

As it turns out, most of the arguing doesn’t come from the competing bands, but from the audience. Archie and Betty end up making amends in a very touching scene. Not so touching? They’re being watched. “To be continued” indeed. 

Nice reference to the former double digest, especially with the recreated font.

I would definitely recommend Archie #11 to any current or new fans of the series, past or present. It’s a short and sweet story, packing in heart and humor. As for any other references to the classic comics, apart from the first chapter’s altered format, two new characters do appear. Frankie Valdez and Cricket O’Dell both appear as part of Veronica’s band. Frankie eventually got into a relationship with Marie, while Cricket can smell money. No, really. No sign of that in the issue, but I admit, I could picture a noir-style series about Cricket finding stolen diamonds.

Archie #11 is available now. You can find it at your local comic book store.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or the Harry Potter books.