Resin Heroes

Michael Golden Doctor Strange drawing






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Direct Beam Comms #106



TV

Stranger Things season two

“Oh can’t you see, you belong to me?” – The Police

The second season of the Netflix series Stranger Things avoided the dreaded “second season problem” many series that have fantastically successful first seasons face — mainly to not miss with high audience expectations. This season begins about a year after the end of the first where things have returned to normal back in Hawkins, Indiana. Or have they? When a mysterious blight begins infecting the pumpkin crops outside of town it’s quickly apparent that whatever was thought destroyed from the alternate “upside down” dimension from the first season was in fact only slightly deterred. And instead of having to face man-sized monsters, the kids of Hawkins must now face something more along the size of an office building that wants to claim our planet as its own.

Opposition

Much of the second season’s focus was on an opposition either between the kids of Hawkins and the adults, or both the kids and adults together against the things in the “upside down.” Will (Noah Schnapp) spent most of the first season trapped in the alternate, black “upside down” dimension. And while Will looks normal, something’s wrong as he begins experiencing visions of some thing that scares him. But no one will listen to him except his friends including Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink). But what can they do when not even the new head of the secret government Hawkins Lab Dr. Sam Owens (the always wonderful Paul Reiser) believes that anything’s wrong. They think that even though there’s still an open portal between our two dimensions that with regular burnings things can be contained. But as any good army general can tell you, containment can only last so long before there’s some sort of unexpected breakout.

Contradiction

One thing I found interesting about the second season was the contradictions between it and the first season of the show. In the first season the character of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) had escaped from that secret lab where then leader Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) had no qualms about using murder in order to get his way. In the second season a nicer head of the lab Dr. Owens is trying to help the Byers family return to a normal life after the first. The question is can Dr. Owens be trusted, or is he just another Brenner in disguise?

Premonition

A lot of what is Stranger Things is about characters knowing things they shouldn’t be able to. Be it Eleven being able to cast her mind out to see what other people are doing or even young Will hoping that everything with him’s going to be okay, but knowing inside that it’s not. That’s a big theme of the second season of Stranger Things, the idea that we can fool ourselves into thinking that everything’s going to be okay when the actual outcome’s doubtful. Like in the 1980s with things like toxic waste, nuclear weapons, pollution were in the headlines where people hoped for the best and tried to ignore the worst. Like the characters in Stranger Things come to find out, we can try to delay the inevitable, but the inevitable comes no matter what we do.

Compromise

If “premonition” is a theme of the second season, then “compromise” is too. Like with Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and the Hawkins lab, agreeing to bring Will in for regular tests, even if he’s secretly hiding Eleven from the spooks in a cabin in the woods. Or even Will’s mom Joyce (Winona Ryder) who’s trying to give Will a normal life after almost losing him, even if it means that she’s also trying to constantly keep him within eyesight and know where he is at all times. Life is full of compromises, and in Stranger Things that’s no different.

I can’t say that I liked the second season of Stranger Things as much as I did with the first, but if I did that would be saying a lot. That first season is a modern day classic that will be studied and imitated for years to come. Even if the second season isn’t as good as the first I’d still argue that it was a great one. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, was never quite sure where things were going and found the show a lot more gory and bloody than I thought it would have been. But in a a good way.

If the first season was what you get when you cross a story in the tone of Stephen King with the visual stylings of a director like Steven Spielberg, then the second is all that plus a hint of the comic book series X-Men thrown in for good measure. If what Eleven is, basically a mutant, and what she goes through in the second season, basically having to choose between someone like Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters or Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants — this season of Stranger Things veered slightly away from the template of the first season which had more straight-horror with elements of sci-fi and went for the full comic book TV series this season.

There’s a New Mutants movie about young X-Men in the making that’s due out next year that actually stars at least one of the regular cast of Stranger Things. From the one trailer that’s been released for that film it seems to have elements of horror that really hasn’t been in any superhero movies to date. It’ll be interesting over the next few years to see just how much elements of Stranger Things, like adding elements of horror to a comic book movie, will begin turning up in other movies TV series since I’d argue that if they do Stranger Things is the reason.

Comics

Whiteout Compendium

One of my favorite comics Whiteout is now available in a collected edition.

From Amazon:

The critically acclaimed and Eisner-winning WHITEOUT graphic novels from Greg Rucka (LAZARUS, WONDER WOMAN) & Steve Lieber (THE FIX, SUPERIOR FOES) return in this new compendium! Carrie Stetko is a US Marshal tasked with enforcing the law in one of the most remote and inhospitable places on earth―Antarctica. Collects WHITEOUT and WHITEOUT: MELT under one cover!

Punisher Epic Collection: Capital Punishment

The march of Punisher collected editions being released in 2017 continues with Punisher Epic Collection: Capital Punishment. Collected here in nearly 500 pages of material is content from 13 issues of Punisher as well as three different graphic novels.

From Marvel:

Collects Punisher (1987) #63–75, Punisher: G-Force, Punisher: Die Hard in the Big Easy, Punisher/Black Widow: Spinning Doomsday’s Web. The Punisher hits Europe! When Frank Castle heads to London in pursuit of the assassin Snakebite, he fi nds a whole continent of trouble – and also his biggest fan: the British vigilante Outlaw! Their fragile Anglo-American alliance must survive a deadly chase from country to country that will draw in mercenaries from Batroc to the Tarantula! But can the Punisher put a stop to a plot that goes all the way up to the Kingpin himself? And if he returns to America in one piece, Frank will be targeted by the anti-vigilantism task force known as V.I.G.I.L.! Plus: the Punisher in space! The death-dealing Baron Cemetery! And a tense team-up with the Avengers’ own Black Widow!

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Japanese Alien (1979) movie poster



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Mike Ploog The Black Cauldron (1985) concept art