Advanced Review: Monty The Dinosaur #2

Monty The Dinosaur #2

Writer: Bob Frantz

Art: Jean Franco

Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment

Release Date: 09/28/2016

Monty the Dinosaur from writer Bob Frantz  and artist Jean Franco is the story of a lone surviving Dinosaur in the 21st century who is dying to make a friend. Only problem, everyone’s afraid of him. Until he meets Sophie, an adventurous young girl who is not scared one bit by the friendly dinosaur. With new friend Sophie, Monty isn’t alone anymore. Issue one is broken up into two short stories. First, how Monty met Sophie and in the second story Monty and Sophie attend a birthday party together (and there’s cupcakes!). Issue two follows that same pattern with two short stories entitled School and Bananas.

In the story “School” Monty learns of a place that human children go to called School. Monty is pretty intrigued and then Sophie informs him that there is chocolate milk and Monty declares he has to go. What follows is a set of hilarious antics aimed at getting Monty enrolled in school (all for that chocolate milk, I’m sure).

The second short story is called “Bananas”. This story focuses on Monty and Sophie’s quest for, you guessed it, bananas! The duo is dismayed to find that they are all out of bananas at their home so they head to the local grocery store to buy some only to find they are out as well. So where do they go next to find their food of choice? Well, you’ll just have to buy the issue to find out. Make sure to ask for Monty The Dinosaur at your local comic shop.

Bob Frantz does an excellent job in this series of creating a character that is both funny to children and adults. Often times in series that are aimed at all ages, they either have main characters that appeal to children, or they have main characters that appeal to adults. Frantz has given us a character that excels at doing both. Monty the Dinosaur is layered in such a way that children can understand the jokes, like when Monty can’t do things because of his short arms. But also adults can read into it a bit further, like how it’s sort of a commentary on belonging in a society when you’re a bit  different than the norm. The art by Jean Franco is excellent. The character design for Monty is great, making a dinosaur that is as cute as Monty is is a feat in and of itself. I love the layouts and the structure the Franco uses. It adds another dimension to the story telling. The color choices by Franco bring a bright and vibrant palette sure to please children and adults a like.

All in all Monty the Dinosaur #2 is a fun all ages romp that is sure to delight the entire family. If you don’t have this series on your pull list then you better hurry and add it. You can order the trade due out in November here. Be sure to follow Bob Frantz on twitter for updates. You can get more news about Monty the Dinosaur and Action Lab’s other offerings here. Also, make sure to demand Monty the Dinosaur at your local comic shop.

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New Comic book Day Top 5: Sept 21st

Hello Revuers! Another great comic book day is upon us! Which means it’s time to take a look at my top 5 most anticipated comic coming out tomorrow. This week there was, once again, some stiff competition. But in the end there could be only 1…..er I mean 5! Tell me what you think of my picks in the comment section below, and let me know what’s on your pull list or what you are most looking forward to.

 

5: Horizon #3

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Horizon from Writer Brandon Thomas and artist Juan Gedeon has been a fun and often surprising comic so far. It takes a very common place idea and puts a unique and fresh spin on it. The first two issues were very solid with great world building from Thomas and Gedeon. The third issue has promised to show us our first glimpse at a villain so I am excited for that. If you haven’t had this series on your pull list you may want to rethink your priorities.

 

4: Mighty Thor #11

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This series from the acclaimed team of Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson continues with what is being billed as the Team up no one expected. I have been following Thor since Jane Foster first took over the mantle after the events of Original Sin. Before that I had never been much of a Thor guy as I always found him to be sort of one note. This new Thor is an evolving, relateable character with a ton of nuance. We can thank Jason Aaron for that. This series is one of few that has always been on my pull list for the last two years and it’s looking like it’s place is firmly cemented there.

 

3: Batman #7

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This issue starts a new arc for Tom King and sees a new artist, Riley Rossmo, take over art duties. The title of this arc is called NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN, and is a continuing story over all of the Batman titles. I don’t know much about this story arc other than it involves mad science monster. Really though, do I need to know any more than that? I love the writings of Tom King and the art of Riley Rossmo, so you know that I’m in 100%

 

2: Patsy Walker: AKA Hellcat #10

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I have loved this series from the very first issue. Kate Leth, Brittany Williams and Megan Wilson have crafted a world that is so fun to explore each and every month. This issue sees the end of the series’ second arc! It has been an excellent series for the first 9 issues and I expect no different from this issue. I’m excited for the future of the series and saddened by the departure of Megan Wilson (if you would like to read the interview we did with her then click here)

 

1: Wicked & Divine 1831 (one shot)

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I love this series. Thecreative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cawles can do no wrong in my mind. This issue looks interesting as it i a one shot set in the past. 1831 to be exact. I like the idea of a sort of anthology of the Pantheon, and looking at them in the past. I think that’s an interesting concept. The art in this issue is by Stephanie Hans (Journey Into Mystery, Angela), who I really enjoy. Should be a great issue!

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

Deja.Revue Review Episode 2

Hello Revuers! The second episode of Deja.Revue Review is live on iTunes. Check it out and tell us what you think.

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/deja.revue-review/id1146317175?mt=2

 

In this episode Andrew Horton and Ian Maxton discuss what they like and don’t like about Stranger Things, and then profess their love of Star Trek. This episode features new music by Bianca Love Prod. by Debars. You can check out her work here: https://soundcloud.com/thebiancalove

 

Let us know what you think of the episode in the comments below. If you rate and review our Podcast Andrew Horton will make you cookies.

Covers of the Week: Sept. 16th

Hello Revuers! It’s time for another installment on Covers of the Week. This segment is where I pick my favorite regular cover and variant cover of the week. This week provided a plethora of choices as great covers abounded. However, I narrowed it down to what I feel are the best covers. Of course art is subjective so if you disagree with me please let me know in the comments below.

 

My favorite cover of the week is:

The Forevers #1

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This cover by Eric Pfeiffer is simply breathtaking. I love the painted appearance of the cover and the color choices are on point. I love the brush work on the waves which make them seem like they are alive and moving. In fact the brush work on the clouds is the same way. It makes the whole cover seem very dynamic and not stagnate. The series written by Curt Pires is about 5 friends who make a black magic pact in order to gain fame. What follows next is a well crafted thriller comic that I recommend you pick up.

 

My favorite variant cover is:

All-Star Batman #2

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This variant cover by Declan Shalvey is very indicative of what happens in this issue. All-Star Batman #2 features Batman and two face on a train fighting multiple villains. This cover has two face and Batman on a train heading through a tunnel with another train in the background carrying other mysterious figures. I love the positioning of Batman in the sky over the train by Shalvey. It  makes Batman seem menacing without seeming evil. I also liked the touch of Two Face’s coins bouncing away from him. Implying that he may be out of luck. The story by Scott Snyder with interiors by John Romita Jr. continues on from issue 1 with Batman and Two Face continuing their cross country trip, with Batman facing death at every turn. If you haven’t been reading this series I strongly recommend you pick it up and start now. It’s not something you want to miss.

 

Was your favorite cover on the list? If not tell me what your favorite of the week was in the comment section below!

 

New Comic Book Day top 5: Sept. 14th

Hello Revuers! It’s time to once again look at our top 5 most anticipated books of this upcoming week. This New Comic Book Day sees the release of a plethora of titles from DC, including a few titles that make this list. On the Marvel side of things, this weeks marks a week of even more Civil War 2 tie ins (spoiler alert, none of those make the list). Let’s dive right in:

 

5: The Forevers #1

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This series is a bit of a mystery to me, albeit an intriguing one. The Forevers is written by Curt Pires with art from Eric Pfeiffer published by the fantastic folks at Black Mask . The premise is that 5 friends make a black magic sacrifice in order to gain fame and fortune. After awhile they start to lose their “glow”. After one of the members dies they realize that the “glow” is stronger. Setting up for a betrayal by one of the friends. I have not seen any interiors but this cover by Eric Pfeiffer is stunning. As I said I don’t know much about this one but the premise and the cover has me stoked.

 

4: Black Panther #6

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The only Marvel title that makes the list this week is Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates with Art by Chris Sprouse and this fantastic variant cover by Brian Stelfreeze. This series hasn’t been what I expected from a Black Panther title, but has been a solid title. I am hoping that this issue sees a bit more action as the last few issues have dealt more with T’Challa as a diplomat more than T’Challa as a warrior. This variant cover by Brian Stelfreeze is beautiful. This is the second issue with Chris Sprouse on the interiors, the last issue he nailed it so I’m hoping that continues with this issue.

 

3: Flash #6

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This issue written by Joshua Williamson and art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, is the culmination of the first story arc ‘LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE’. Finally we will see Barry Allen come face to face and head to head with Godspeed. I’m sure that Barry won’t be alone as he has been training a new generation of speedsters (who may or may not last). Godspeed has been an interesting villain that has a great character design. This story line has managed to feel fresh and yet familiar all at the same time. Great work over all by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico

 

2: Doom Patrol #1

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The first issue and series off of Gerard Way’s new imprint Young Animal, Doom Patrol looks and sounds fantastic. The art and cover art is from Nick Derington. I have never read any of the original Doom Patrol but I’ve heard great things about it. So this series is a bit of a mystery to me as well. That’s one of the things that’s exciting about comics. That every week you have the opportunity to try new books you’ve never tried before. This cover by Nick Derington is interesting and fun as well.

 

1: All-Star Batman #2

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All-Star Batman #1 was a fun filled joy ride (well for the reader, not Batman) it featured the spectacualr team of writer Scott Snyder and artist John Romita Jr.. The same team has returned for All-Star Batman #2. Issue #1 saw Batman on a road trip with Two-Face taking him to a yet unknown destination. Two-Face made everyone a proposition to kill Batman. Now everywhere they stop Batman is met with resistance. Can Batman survive attacks from everyone around him or has he finally met his match? I suppose you’ll have to buy the issue to find out.

 

Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

Pictures and Music in Heaven and Hell: On The Incantations of Daniel Johnston

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A confession: I often listen to music while I read comics. The music is not casually thrown on, but rather, considered – a soundtrack of sorts. The music is meant to compliment the text and images, not overwhelm them. This leads to my listening to mostly instrumental music as I read. For instance, I paired the music of John Fahey (specifically his album Death Chants, Break Downs, and Military Waltzes) with my reading of Harrow County a few weeks back. Companion to my reading of Descender was the music of electronic duo 2814 (both their most recent record, Rain Temple, and an earlier record, the title of which translates roughly to The Birth of a New Day).

So it is strange that, while reading a graphic novel that takes as its inspiration and subject a particular musician, I found it so evocative of the music and of the man behind it that I did not feel inclined to soundtrack my reading (though, to be sure, I listened to Daniel Johnston for hours on end after reading). Such is the power of The Incantations of Daniel Johnston by Ricardo Cavolo and Scott McClanahan.

To understand the excellence of the book, a word or two on Daniel Johnston. He is an artist and musician who emerged from the Austin, Texas music scene of the early 90s, though he was recording much earlier than that. Some would affix the word “outsider” before the words artist and musician in my previous sentence, but such labels are limiting and reductive for the artists behind them. However, the point is that Daniel Johnston (and other “outsider” artists and musicians) comes from a long tradition of unconventional and untrained artists who work almost entirely outside the commercial system. The limits of Johnston’s instrumental abilities are more than made up for by the simplicity, sincerity, soul of his compositions, which he would record on cheap cassettes and give out at his job at McDonald’s. One is tempted to describe his work as child-like, but it contains too many layers of cosmology, paranoia, anxiety, jubilation, heartbreak, and wisdom to have come from any child in this world. Listening to any given album by Daniel Johnston (my favorite is either Yip/Jump Music or 1990), is akin to feeling every emotion at once. The sounds, despite their simplicity, are often overwhelming.

But Daniel Johnston is troubled. He has been plagued by mental illness his entire life. The Incantations of Daniel Johnston does not shy away from this, but more importantly, it does not valorize or romanticize it either. It is no coincidence that Kurt Cobain, another over-romanticized, tragic figure of 90s alternative music, was often seen in a t-shirt emblazoned with Johnston’s art. To listen to Daniel Johnston’s music is to take part, in some small way, in his particular, fantastic, terrifying world – even if the spell only lasts the length of a pop song. And so it is with The Incantations of Daniel Johnston. The book presents itself as a spell of possession. A spell which allows you, like the music, to enter Daniel’s world, and to have his ghost dwell in you. It is a friendly haunting (like Casper), but a haunting nonetheless.

The art, much like Daniel Johnston’s music, is ecstatic and bright and grotesque all at once. The lines are simple, mirroring Johnston’s artwork without outright imitating it. The images pop and the colors sometimes bleed together. Everything is on fire. Everything is alive, with a beating heart, with throbbing lungs, with undulating intestines. There are king frogs, monsters, clouds with eyes in this fantasyland. But like any fantasyland, it has dark corners. Again, the book does not try to hide the darkness. Like the time Daniel pulls the keys out of an airplane in mid-flight. Like the time he fired his friend and manager Jeff. Like the times he enters mental institutions.

It is true though. It is sincere. In keeping with the music and spirit of Daniel Johnston the book is scattered, confused, funny, and heartbreaking. But the sadness never overwhelms – not completely. And though the darkness advances, though terrible things await – the book begs us to run, to lose hope – and though it promises that happy endings are just stories, lightness prevails. Because everything is just a story we tell ourselves, in a way. And if we can bear it, if we can take the curse upon ourselves, if we can be possessed by Daniel Johnston – a brilliant, sincere, sad, funny, troubled man, full of love – and take that possession out into the world, we can carry forth the lightness. Because, for all of the demons in his head, Daniel Johnston was still able to sing this:

Maybe we can too.

The Incantations of Daniel Johnston by Ricardo Cavolo and Scott McClanahan is available now from Two Dollar Radio (you should check out their other books as well, they’re great).

Covers of the Week: Sept. 7th

Hello Revuers! It’s that time of the week again where I select my favorite covers of the week. This week there was pretty strong competition across the board, but in the end my selections made the leap over the rest. As always if you agree or don’t agree let us know in the comments below. Now let’s jump right into it.

 

My favorite regular cover of the week is:

Daredevil #11

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Original story arc, for this volume of Daredevil, artist Ron Garney returns to the series after taking a break for a few issues. This cover is also by Garney, who absolutely nails it. The first story arc that Garney did art for was known for it’s tri-color palette and this cover continues that tradition. This story arc is about a serial killer who turns his victims into “works of art”, and it’s being billed as the creepiest Daredevil story arc of all time. judging by this cover it might very well be. The series itself has been hit or miss for me. However Daredevil #8 by Charles Soule and Goran Sudzuka may very well be my favorite single issue of the year. If you are looking for a Marvel series that’s outside of the norm Daredevil may be a perfect fit for you.

 

My favorite variant cover of the week is:

Supergirl #1

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This variant cover is by the artist Bengal. This deceptively simple cover is beautiful, but more than that it’s complex. The longer that you look at it, the more details you notice. Like the color shading in the buildings or the shading of Supergirl’s boots and skirt. The sky is the same way with almost a photo realistic rendering of clouds. The palette is classic! with bright reds and dark blues that get lighter until the greyish blue at the bottom of the cover.  Bengal does simple right.

 

Was your favorite cover on the list? If not tell me what your favorite of the week was in the comment section below!

New Comic Book Day Top 5: Sept. 7th

Hello Revuers, I hope you had a lovely labor day weekend! We here at Deja.Revue strive to bring you the best in comic book related entertainment, so that means no days off for us. Our newest writer Ian Maxton penned a piece about Stranger Things yesterday that you should check out (after you read this of course). But back to the business at hand, in this article I will present to you the 5 titles I am most excited about, in order. So break out your pencils and get ready to write this down.

 

5: Moon Knight #6

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I enjoyed the previous run of Moon Knight by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. After they left I had lost interest in this title, until after Secret Wars when I learned that one of my favorite writers, Jeff Lemire, would be taking the helm. The team of Lemire and new artist, starting this issue, Francesco Francavilla kick of a new story line called Incarnations. After a fast and furious first story arc I can’t wait to see what is in store for Moon Knight next. I really like that Lemire is taking Moon Knight back to basics and really focusing on his Dissasociative Identity Disorder (used to be called Multiple personalities disorder), this sets up numerous possibilities and plot points that could be exciting to explore. The cover hon is the Story Thus Far variant cover by Greg Smallwood.

 

4: Boo Worlds Cutest Dog #1

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As I’ve mentioned before I am a sucker for cute things. Yes, I follow Lil’ Bub on Instagram. Yes, I bought the Grumpycat Comic Books. Yes, I watched the Grumpycat Christmas movie….Twice. Yes, I personally loved Bee and Puppycat when it was coming out. Yes, I will be purchasing this title as well. Coming from Dynamite entertainment (the same company that published the Grumpy Cat and Pokey series) is Boo the worlds cutest dog #1 (of 3). It appears as if this series will follow a similar pattern as Bee and Puppycat where each issue will feature several short stories. the inference is made based on the fact that there are numerous writers and artists listed for this issue. But hey! I could be completely wrong about that. I suppose we will have to buy the comic to find out.

 

3: Supergirl #1

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After a sort of lackluster Rebirth issue, the relaunch of Supergirl is out this week! Comic from Writer Steve Orlando and Artist Brian Ching, Spergirl #1 kicks of the ‘REIGN OF THE CYBORG SUPERMAN’story arc. I am interested to see what comes of this arc. I am wondering if they will do sort of a homage to Death of Superman where after he died they had other Supermen come and try to take his place. Including Cyborg Superman. Since the New 52! Superman is dead, this could be a possible direction this series goes. I am fine with that, as long as the keep the focus on Supergirl. I have a lot of faith in Writer Steve Orlando as he penned the excellent Midnighter series during the DCYou initiative. The cover is actually the Bengal Variant cover.

 

2: Nightwing #4

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The new Nightwing series fro writer Tim Seeley and art from Javi Fernandez has been one of my favorites from the Rebirth initiative. First, Nightwing is back in blue which I love. Second, He’s longer a spy but rather a caped crusader again. Lastly, he’s trying to take down the court of Owls from the inside. All of this comes together to form a fact paced and exciting series. Tim Seeley is one of the best writers in the game, combine that with the next level art from Javi Fernandez and you have a serious hit on your hands.

 

1: Batman #6

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Batman #5 was my Pick of the Week last week (check out the review here), and now it’s my most anticipated comic book of this week. Tom King continues to deliver a strong Batman, after a highly acclaimed Batman run by Scott Snyder. King has left his mark on Batman after just 5 issues and made sure that people knew this Batman is different than the Batman that came before him. If you haven’t read the first five issues I recommend you fix that as soon as possible. Spoilers ahead………………………….From what I understand this issue is a stand alone before the Monster Men arc starts in issue 7. That’s why the usual artist, David Finch, is not on interiors this issue. Instead it is Ivan Reis (Cyborg, Justice League). This issue will deal with the psychological fallout of Gotham Girl killing her brother. I predict that Batman will take on a mentor role and try to console Gotham Girl. No matter what though it’s going to be a great issue.

 

So there you have it, our most anticipated books that are coming out tomorrow. Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

Opening Volley: Stranger Things

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As you know (hopefully), we at Deja.Revue have started a podcast. The first episode is up on iTunes. It’s a bit rough, and a trial run for sure. We hope to bring you a new podcast every month. One of the goals of the podcast is to branch out into the larger pop-culture world and cast our eye on whatever the flavor of the month is. So, for the upcoming ‘cast, Andrew and I will be discussing the Netflix Original Series Stranger Things.

The discussion will be less confined than the page, so in order to get my thoughts down, and touch on a few specific things about the show, I’m introducing a new column: Opening Volley. I plan on doing something like this whenever the podcast comes around. My hope is that it will open up discussion here on the blog, as well as give you all a heads up on what we’ll be discussing so you can catch up if you like. Selfishly, it will also give me a leg up on Andrew heading into recording. Rest assured, the discussion will range more widely in podcast form and those of you who will inevitably disagree with this article will be have a capable champion in my colleague.

Stranger Things is a Netflix Original Series that has taken the world (or, at least, the internet) by storm over the last month or so. The series mainly centers around a group of kids, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas (played by a group of mostly unknowns, who put on entertaining and believable performances), in Hawkins, Indiana whose world is turned upside down (ahem) by the disappearance and apparent death of their friend, Will. While searching for him, they come across a strange girl named Eleven (played by Millie Bobby Brown, whose performance here good, though her magnetism in press appearances makes one wish she were given more room to breath throughout the series) in the woods who may or may not hold the key to finding Will. At the same time, Will’s mother (Winona Ryder, an actress whom I love, is similarly stymied by the narrow range of her character) searches desperately for him and descends into a seemingly grief-stricken madness, which may, in fact, not be madness at all. She is joined by the town sheriff, whose past contains uncomfortable resonances with the present, and who begins to center his search for the boy around the mysterious Hawkins National Laboratory. Running parallel to all of this is a teen drama involving Will’s older brother, Mike’s older sister, her boyfriend, and the disappearance of her best friend. While the various plot strands here may seem a bit confusing or convoluted, I will say that the show mostly handles this problem with grace by keeping the various groups separate for its roughly 8 hours of runtime. But, as Sean T. Collins points out in his great Vulture piece, triangulating the particular fears of each group into something truly terrifying proves simply too broad of a goal for the show to achieve. However, I will leave that for later discussion.

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Allow me to zoom out for a moment. Netflix began dipping their toe into original programming around 2012. They began to push it in earnest in 2013, which brought House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and the long-hoped-for-revival of cult favorite Arrested Development. The merits of each of these shows will vary widely based on who you talk to, but since then, Netflix had churned out a massive slate of original content each year. And not just “TV” shows, either: movies, documentaries, stand-up specials, Christmas specials, talk-shows, and a huge slate of kids programming have all been part of the nonstop onslaught of content which Netflix has invested in, created, or nabbed the exclusive distribution rights for. Now, I cannot claim to have seen all, or even most, of this content. There is a ridiculous amount of it and I only have so much time. But I would like to put forth an argument here which does not, I think, require that one see every single second of Netflix Original Content.

Most of this content, regardless of its quality, was made primarily on the basis that it resembles non-original content that has been popular on Netflix in the past. You may say, “Yes, duh Ian, of course they made something because they thought it would be popular with people who like other popular things. That is how capitalism works.” To which I say, yes, lamentably, this is how things have always worked, to an extent. The difference is that Netflix (and other streaming services who have branched out into original content) has more data than any other network or movie studio has ever had, or has ever dreamed of having. Presumably, though it is notorious for keeping its viewing numbers under wraps, Netflix can tell exactly how many users have watched a particular show, or film, or whatever. Not only can they tell you how many people have watched it, they can also tell you when they watched it, how quickly they viewed an entire season, whether someone watched it and turned it off 5 minutes in, or watched it all the way through in a single sitting. TV networks are expanding the Nielson system in order to better understand how audiences watch shows, and what they watch, but even that much-expanded system leaves tons of gaps. Similarly, movie studios have box-office and DVD/Blu-ray sales and VOD sales and rentals to go by, but again, the gaps are enormous.

What this mountain of data leads to are shows that often feel like they were created by Netflix’s algorithms instead of real people. The revivals, or continuations, of shows that have been cancelled elsewhere are an obvious example of this: Netflix knows a bunch of us watched all three original seasons of Arrested Development, so it makes economic sense for them to pull all the strings they can to be the exclusive carriers of the show’s return. Ditto all of their Marvel/Disney content. On the one hand, Netflix took a gamble on House of Cards, it being their first high-profile release. On the other hand, Netflix knew exactly how many people liked the British original, as well as things like Mad Men, or The West Wing. So yes, it was a gamble to get into the game, but they were holding all the cards. There are exceptions to this art-as-algorithm equation, but even these exceptions are created from the same You Might Also Like mentality – they just happen to rise above it on an artistic level. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a great show, but it only got the green light because Netflix knew how much people loved 30 Rock (both shows are created by the same team) and The Office (which shares with the Netflix series the great talents of Ellie Kemper).

This brings me back to Stranger Things. To say the show owes a massive debt to its influences would be an understatement. If you removed every callback, reference, and homage from the show, I think you would be left with only some B-roll of the Christmas lights hanging over the hastily-scrawled alphabet on the wall (easily the greatest image the show conjures), backed by an interesting synth score (which, admittedly, owes a great deal to John Carpenter, but which, I think, manages to be interesting enough on its own). Netflix knows how many of us watched E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Poltergeist, The Goonies, Stand by Me, The Shining, The Thing, Halloween, Alien, Nightmare on Elm Street, Freaks and Geeks, The X-Files, Twin Peaks, Fringe, etc. and its only job is to concentrate those, repackage them enough to call it “Original,” and hook it directly to our veins via a Netflix subscription. I cannot be sure that every single one of these works has been on Netflix at some point, but I know for a fact that most of them have. Lest you think I am merely being cynical, the most obvious rip-off comes in the scenes when Eleven is inside the sensory deprivation tank. The look of the scene is lifted in its entirety from Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 indie sci-fi film Under the Skin, which starred Scarlett Johansson and has never been on Netflix. But as you see below, this single fact does not make the appropriation any less egregious.

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The show mostly pulls the teeth out of its influences however, making them taming, more palatable. While watching Stranger Things I found myself wondering who exactly this was for? For those who grew up with the works that are referenced, it seems the original works themselves would be a quicker, more direct, route to nostalgia. And for those younger viewers with limited or non-existent knowledge of the tropes and references, the show would seem to be almost nonsensical. My conclusion is that the show is meant for everyone. Parents who grew up with this stuff can watch something same-ish with their kids minus the more edgy elements of the original works. People who have been meaning to get around to Poltergeist, or Alien, or the collected works of Steven King can skip that long, boring road, and get all of it in just 8 hours. However, in the shows quest to be pleasing to the masses, in its quest to be for everyone, it fails to be directed at anyone in particular. This lack of specificity, an element which the works it owes its debt to all share, leaves me cold by the time season one ends, despite having found it to be a vaguely pleasurable watch.

The failure of Stranger Things, then, is not that it is not enjoyable, it is designed to be, but that it never pushes beyond its influences. It is content merely to be an entertaining collection of callbacks to movies that Netflix occasionally acquires the license for. They know you like this stuff – Spielberg, Steven King, John Carpenter, et al – they have the numbers to prove it, but a bunch of people watching E.T. does not net them the kind of profit and publicity that an “original” series does. So they give us Stranger Things, an ironic title considering how intentionally familiar it all feels.

 

-Ian

Covers of the Week: Aug. 31st

Hello Revuers! It’s Thursday, which means another exciting New Comic Book day has come and gone. What an exciting week it was. If you are interested in what we here at Deja.Revue were most interested in you can look at our New Comic Book Day Post HERE. Now it’s time to look at our favorite regular cover and variant cover of the week! Without further delay let’s jump right in:

 

My favorite regular cover of the week goes to 4001 AD #4

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This cover by Clayton Crain is beautiful. Both in design and in execution.The dragon city design is very appealing, and the color palette chosen for the background is subtly brilliant. I haven’t read the series yet, but this cover convinced me to buy this issue so now I’ll have to track down the other three. Plus it’s written by Matt Kindt, so you know the writing will be great. Valiant has been killing it lately.

 

My favorite variant cover of the week is Tokyo Ghost #10

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I said it in the New Comic Book Day Top 5 post and I’ll say it again, this is one of the greatest covers of all time. Dustin Nguyen is extremely talented, and he holds no punches in this beautifully painted cover. You might recognize him from his covers and  interiors in Descender (also by Image), and Batman: Li’l Gotham. The color choices in this cover are exquisite. By the time I had gone to my local comic shop this variant was already sold out, and it’s easy to see why. I don’t think Dustin Nguyen gets enough credit for the amazing work he puts out. Which is a weird thing to say about a guy who just won an Eisner for best Painter/multi-media artist, but not enough people know who he is. He should be a household name.

 

Was your favorite cover on the list? If not tell me what your favorite of the week was in the comment section below!

 

-Andrew