Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #99


Stranger Things

These days, with how fragmented pop-culture has become, pop-cultural phenomenas are pretty rare. It used to be that once or twice a year some song, TV series or film would become a touchstone that would become a national focus for a time before we all moved onto something else. But with how pop-culture has become so expansive over the last decade with 400 new scripted TV series premiering every year, music for every taste existing in very specific channels, dozens of mega-budget movies being released each year and now competition from the likes of smart phone apps and social media — it makes for a landscape where it’s practically impossible for some pop-culture thing to break out of its specific marketing silo to phenomena status.

To me a “cultural phenomena” is some movie, TV series or song that practically everyone is aware of, even if they may have not ever seen or heard it. In the 1990s I was aware of the series Seinfeld, knew what channel it was on and what actors were involved even if I didn’t start watching it until the show was in syndication years after it became popular. And that goes for a lot of TV series that are cultural phenomena these days too. I’d say series like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are phenomena in that I’d assume just about anyone who watches TV on a regular basis is aware of these two shows, even if many people have never actually watched an episode of them.

So, in a TV landscape where there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of scripted and non-scripted TV series airing each week I’d say those two are only two shows that I’d think would be considered “pop-culture phenomena.” Well, actually, I think there’s now three with Stranger Things joining the cultural phenomena ranks last year with its breakout TV season everyone’s still talking about.

Before the first season of Stranger Things debuted on Netflix the summer of 2016 most of the talk online about the show was how much it looked like the works of Steven Spielberg. And not all in a good way. I got the sense that most people thought Stranger Things was going to be derivative and dull and were counting it out before a single episode streamed. But once the episodes debuted and the reviews started coming in things changed for the show. What was about to be written off as a lame attempt by Netflix creating a show about the 1980s for the nostalgia set became something that appealed to both those who were fans of the sci-fi and horror genera, those interested in nostalgia and those interested in great TV too.

What I think works best about the first season of Stranger Things, where kids from a small Indiana town uncover a conspiracy when one of their own goes missing and another kid appears out of nowhere, was the story. It’s cool that Stranger Things is set in this nostalgia friendly early 1980s, but the story of Stranger Things works no matter where/what time it’s set. Set Stranger Things present day in Florida and the story would still work.

And that’s why I was so excited to see the return of this show — to get back into the story of Stranger Things that has a palpable sense of mystery and danger and to find out what everyone’s been up to the last year after the devastating events at the end of the first season of the series.

In the second season, it’s about a year after the first and everything’s returned to normal in Hawkins. Well, mostly everything. Will’s (Noah Schnapp) returned to the fold except he’s still experiencing visions from the “upside down” where he was most of the first season, Mike’s (Finn Wolfhard) grades are falling since he’s still trying to find Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Nancy’s (Natalia Dyer) dealing with her friend Barb’s parents who’re selling their house to pay for a detective to search for her.

What I found most interest gin in the show is that the characters are paying the consequences from the first. Be it Will being rescued, but now being called “zombie boy” by kids who are scared of him, Mike’s life being turned around from everything he went through or even Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour) finding that while things around Hawkins have been pretty normal, it’s about to get a lot less so.

In Stranger Things, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction and just because the kids of Hawkins drove the evil out doesn’t mean that a greater one isn’t going to try and get back in and is stronger than ever.


Night Force by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan: The Complete Series

One comic series that I’m totally unfamiliar with that sounds amazing is Night Force. This comic series began in the early 1980s and lasted a measly 14 issues before being cancelled. I’m assuming that since the series was out just before I started collecting comics, and since it was so limited, that’s why I never saw it in the 25¢ comic bins at the flea markets or antique shops I used to frequent. Of course, it could also be that at the time of the 25¢ back issue comics I was too busy hunting for an Incredible Hulk #181, The Amazing Spider-Man #129 or Iron Fist #14 to notice something as interesting sounding as Night Force.

One thing — the collected editions of this series go for between $30 and $40 for paperback and hardback cover respectively, but you can find complete runs of the original comics on eBay for less than $20 shipped.

From DC:

The creative team behind Tomb of Dracula reunited in 1982 for DC’s NIGHT FORCE! The series begins as the mysterious sorcerer Baron Winter assembles a team to take on an occult evil. But can the granddaughter of Dracula’s greatest foe, a powerful parapsychologist, and a timelost warrior from the court of King David tackle these threats?


Alien 3 Dog Alien Maquette

The Prime 1 Studio and CoolProps Alien 3 monster looks amazing. From the sickly brown color to its translucent dome and swappable heads with mouth closed and open, this statue stands more than two feet tall and certainly one to own. Unfortunately, “amazing” comes with a steep price as this item is set to retail for nearly $1,700.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1954: Godzilla opens in Japan
  • 1961: Peter Jackson, director of King Kong, The Frighteners and The Lord of the Rings films is born
  • 1988: They Live premiers
  • 2002: *28 Days Later…” Premiers
  • 2009: The TV series V premiers
  • 2010: The first episode of The Walking Dead airs