Fun-Size Friday | 11-15-19 | Folklords #1, Family Tree #1, Far Sector #1, & More!

Prepare your internets, Denizens of the World Wide Interwebs, because Fun-Size Fan-Thing 2.0 is now up and running. What do I mean by “2.0”? Well, hypothetical reader, allow me to break it down: while Fun-Size will still be covering the same general subjects as before — comic books, movies, television, opinion pieces and what have you — I’ve decided to try removing the hundred-word limit to play around with the format a bit. Keeping things brief was nice at first, but now I want to open things up and see what comes tumbling out. Enough about that old nonsense though, you didn’t come for any of that. Let’s talk about some new nonsense!


FOLKLORDS

ISSUE ONE

LETTERED BY Jim Campbell
COLORED BY Chris O’Halloran
ILLUSTRATED BY Matt Smith
WRITTEN BY Matt Kindt

LOGO DESIGN BY Marie Krupina
DESIGNS BY Michelle Ankley
EDITED BY Eric Harburn & Gavin Gronenthal
PUBLISHED BY Boom Studios

CREATED BY Matt Smith & Matt Kindt

IMAGE SOURCE: Folkords #1 Cover by Matt Smith [Boom Studios]


Meet Ansel.

In most respects, Ansel is just another ordinary young man living an ordinary life. He takes the troll ferry to get across the pond every day, he keeps an eye out for disrespectful gnomes, and he talks about normal subjects like questing for golden eggs and mermaid flesh with his friends. Still, there is the matter of his bizarre choice of clothing, not to mention all those weird devices he insists on crafting. He says they come to him in his dreams — or are they visions? — giving him glimpses of a strange world filled with oddities like “ships that fly through the air” and buildings “as tall as mountains”. Now he wants to go on a quest to find the Folklords of all things, to see if they can tell him the secret behind these strange dreams. He’d best be careful though; there are some among the Guild of Librarians who would rather Ansel’s quest came to a swift end.

IMAGE SOURCE: Folklords #1 [Boom Studios]

Folklords #1 is honestly one of the more refreshing introductions to a fantasy world I’ve seen in quite a while, comics or otherwise. There are a couple reasons for that — Matt Smith‘s deceptively simple but effective character designs paired with Chris O’Halloran autumn color scheme are a personal highlight — but for me it all comes down to how they handle the tricky business of exposition. I’ve read a lot of these #1 issues over the past couple months and I’ve seen too too many of them begin with an interesting concept only to get bogged down in over-explaining every nook and cranny of their world. Look, I love a good anecdote about elemental magic systems as much as the next guy, but in my opinion if you rely too much on exposition you threaten to lose the “fantasy” in your fantasy world, which is doubly bad if you’re doing it in your very first issue.

Mercifully that’s not the case here; the world created by writer Matt Kindt & artist Matt Smith is more akin to something out of a fairy tale, filled with traditional fantasy elements that even the most inexperienced of readers will pick up on. Of course I could end up being proven wrong and the next issue opens with a two-page graphic on the digestive tract of a woodland troll or something. Still, for the time being at least, I’d say Folklords #1 is easily one of the most reader-accessible fantasy stories you’ll find on the comic stands today.


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THE LIGHTHOUSE

STARRING Willem Dafoe & Robert Pattinson

EDITED BY Louise Ford
CINEMATOGRAPHY BY Jarin Blaschke
MUSIC BY Mark Koven
WRITTEN BY Max Eggers and Robert Eggers

PRODUCED BY Rodrigo Teixeira, Jay Van Hoy, Robert Eggers, Lourenço Sant’ Anna, and Youree Henley
DIRECTED BY Robert Eggers
DISTRIBUTED BY A24

IMAGE SOURCE: IMDB


This right here? This is a weird one.

The Lighthouse begins with a relatively simple-sounding premise: two men — one a salty and superstitious man of the seas, the other a young recluse looking to start a new life — must live and work together in an old lighthouse on a small island, far away from anyone and anything else. There’s more happening then I’m willing to let on here, but if you’ve watched the trailers already (or if you’ve seen the MPAA rating) you’ve probably already sussed out which direction this story is headed. I’ll assure you though, even if you know the destination, the journey to get there is so fascinating and so well paced that I’d wager you’ll find yourself as captivated as I was.

A lot of that comes down to the performances of the movie’s leads, played by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Many reviews have already heaped paragraphs of praise on these two and I can’t say I blame them, much as I’d enjoy writing a good “hot take”. I’ll tell you this though: I already knew Dafoe was gonna be entertaining as heck to watch, but this was my first real exposure to Robert Pattinson’s acting and I was not disappointed. It’s no small feat to match Dafoe’s manic intensity on screen but darn it all if Pattinson doesn’t rise to meet the challenge. Well done Mr. Pattinson, you have this random blogger’s blessing to play Batman. Yes it is quite a big deal and you should feel very honored right now.

I will say that my biggest fear with art-house films — and this one definitely falls into that category — is that it sometimes gives directors a little too much freedom to make random stylistic and story choices in their films in the name of A R T. Now, I’m not talking about the black-and-white look or the fact that it’s shot in a square aspect ratio; I actually thought both of those choices worked in the story’s favor and gave it a real “classic cinema” feel. Basically, I’m talking about choices that are weird for the sake of being weird, like inserting random imagery in odd places or putting in tonally inconsistent music — that sort of thing. With that in mind, I’ll admit that immediately after I finished watching The Lighthouse, I thought director Robert Eggers had succumbed to some of that same artsy nonsense. Having had some time to properly digest it however has helped me put a lot of those seemingly random moments into the context of the larger story. Yeah, turns out that sometimes my immediate first impressions aren’t always on the money — who’da thunk it?

There’s a lot more I could sing praises about on here — the music and sound design is some of the strongest and most engrossing work I’ve ever experienced — but we’d be here all day and I’ve got a self-imposed deadline I need to hit. Suffice to say that I found The Lighthouse to be a first-rate piece of cinema and if you want to see more of that kind of thing in theaters you should go support it with your time and your money. That being said, I don’t want to be accused of tricking you into seeing something you’re not ready for; the tone and subject matter can be quite dark here and there plenty of moments that were downright uncomfortable for me to watch. If that sort of thing doesn’t intimidate you and you’re looking for something a bit more challenging to watch, The Lighthouse should satisfy your curiosity and then some.

*It tickles me that the word monosyllabic — defined by the Online Etymology Dictionary as “consisting of one syllable” — has, in itself, five syllables in it. It’s probably the fact that I never miss the opportunity to use five words when I only need one. Case in point, apparently I’m doing footnotes in these things now. Weird.


THE LIGHTHOUSE is rated R for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language

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FAMILY TREE

ISSUE ONE

LETTERING BY Steve Wands
COLORS BY Ryan Cody
INKS BY Eric Gapstur
ILLUSTRATED BY Phil Hester

WRITTEN BY Jeff Lemire
EDITED BY Will Dennis
PUBLISHED BY Image Comics

IMAGE SOURCE: Family Tree #1 Cover by Phil Hester [Image Comics]


The date is March 14th, 1997. The place is Lowell, Maine, and the Hayes family is currently in the middle of their own private apocalypse. Loretta Hayes — the matriarch of the family — works a terrible job at the local grocery store as the sole breadwinner for her family. She doesn’t exactly have the most positive attitude about it, and her teenage son Joshua getting into trouble at school definitely isn’t helping her mood any. Then there’s her young daughter Meg, who keeps scratching that weird rash on her arm despite Loretta’s protests. Still, these are the kinds of problems thousands of families face every day in America. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not like a kid getting a little rash is the end of the world or anything*.

IMAGE SOURCE: Family Tree #1 [Image Comics]

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it given the talent involved on this book, but Family Tree #1 was not on my radar at all until I stumbled across it browsing through this week’s selection of comics, when that striking cover by Phil Hester caught my eye. I’m glad I did though because this was definitely one of the more entertaining reads of the week, especially with writer Jeff Lemire on writing duties. Between his work on titles like Animal Man and Sweet Tooth, Lemire has staked a claim on what I’d best describe as “intimate horror stories”: stories featuring a small group of people — sometimes but not always families — rallying together against an abstract threat. In his previous works, Lemire’s knack for characterization served him well getting readers to quickly connect with the characters, and the Hayes family is no exception: a trio (or more?) of characters who are a little rougher around the edges but who still clearly care about one another. I’m sure that attitude will serve them well in the coming days, or at the very least make for some entertaining reading.

As for the “pictures” half of the comic book equation, well, if you’re going to do a comic that dabbles in the horror genre — especially one that deals with body horror — you better have an artist or artists that know exactly what they’re doing. The wrong artistic style or the wrong color can spell the difference between your comic coming off as silly or scary. Fortunately Family Tree has a crack team working behind the scenes with contributions from artists Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur and Ryan Cody. The thick sharp lines, the darker-than-black inks that seem to saturate the page, the creative page layouts, and the muted color scheme all work together to put the reader into an eerie and uncomfortable setting even before the horror starts to set in. Honestly, I can’t wait to read future issues to see what the creative team can do once all hell breaks loose, and by the looks of things it’s gonna happen sooner rather than later.

*Yeah I know, I know, but as a hack writer there are some cliche lines you can’t pass up no matter how hard you try. Believe it or not this is me showing restraint; I was this close to adding an “…or is it????” to the end of that sentence. Okay, last footnote, I swear.


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THE MANDALORIAN

Season One, Episode One | “Chapter One”

STARRING Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Taika Waititi, et al.

VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISION BY Richard Bluff
PRODUCTION DESIGN BY Andrew L. Jones
EDITED BY Jeff Seibenick
MUSIC BY Ludwig Göransson

WRITTEN BY Jon Favreau
PRODUCED BY Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson
DIRECTED BY Dave Filoni

CREATED BY Jon Favreau
BASED ON Star Wars by George Lucas

IMAGE SOURCE: Coming Soon


If I’m gonna be talking Star Wars here, you may as well know the truth about me: I enjoy pretty much all of the Star Wars stuff. That includes the prequels, the spin-off films, most of the animated shows (I haven’t seen Star Wars: Resistance) and yes, even The Last Jedi. Am I aware they have problems? No doubt, but then I don’t think there’s any piece of media that exists that’s absolutely flawless from beginning to end. Even the ones everybody seems to universally love like A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back suffer from the occasional “hiccup”, and yet we love them all the same. Alright, now that I’ve alienated half of my potential reading audience, I can briefly talk about what I thought of the first episode of The Mandalorian.

As you may have deduced already, this show prominently featuring a bounty hunter has an awful lot of bounty hunting going on. I won’t get into the specifics of said hunt, but suffice to say this first chapter has the action, humor, and ambiance that old-school fans have come to expect, plus plenty of moments for our titular main character to be cool and look cool doing it. Speaking of our unnamed protagonist, Pedro Pascal does a lot with a little here as The Mandalorian, relying solely on body language and his gravely voice to carry the performance here, and all credit to him he pretty much pulls it off. It definitely enhances the whole “gunslinger” vibe the show is clearly trying to emulate, but it doesn’t leave a ton of time to develop his character outside some very brief flashbacks and the occasional cool line. The creative team seems plenty aware of this though, surrounding our stoic lead with characters who possess charisma in spades, played by actors like Carl “Apollo Creed” Weathers and Werner “Finger Lickin’ Good” Herzog, who makes a meal out of every sentence that the script gives him. All of that plus an action sequence with a self-destructive droid voiced by Taika Waititi makes this the most entertaining episode of television I watched all week, and I watched The Good Place, so you know it’s legit.

If I mean if I absolutely had to think of something that bugged me, there were a few story choices that seemed just a bit off at the start. Case in point — and this is a very light spoiler in that it happens within the first seven minutes — but at one point the Mandalorian has to travel from a barren outpost back to his ship, so he has to take a landspeeder across an huge frozen lake filled with dangerous creatures just below the surface. It serves to set up a fun sequence, but I was partially distracted because in the back of my mind I kept wondering, “why couldn’t he just park his ship closer to the outpost? It’s not like there wasn’t any room for it to fit! Also, how the heck did he make it to that outpost in the first place?” Really though, these are minor nitpicks that could probably be answered with two minutes research on Wookiepedia.

Other than that, my only other complaint is that it was too darn short, and when that’s my biggest complaint then you know the show is doing something right. Clocking in at a relatively trim forty minutes including the end credits, this first episode flew by so fast that when the credits rolled I was genuinely surprised how quickly the time had flown by. It’s a credit to writer Jon Favreau, director Dave Filoni — both of whom happen to be Star Wars veterans from the The Clone Wars animated series — and the rest of the episodes’ production team that this episode plays as well as it does; this show was clearly made by people who know Star Wars and put their heart & soul into making it. What else can I say at this point — if you’re a big Star Wars fan then you’ve probably watched this already, but even if you’re only familiar with the basics of this world I think you’ll find plenty here to enjoy.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the second episode has just dropped and I need to see how they resolve that cliffhanger. Back in just a moment.


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FAR SECTOR

ISSUE ONE

LETTERING BY Deron Bennett
ART & COLORS BY Jamal Campbell
STORY BY N.K Jemisin

EDITED BY Andy Khouri, Jamie S. Rich, & Maggie Howell
PUBLISHED BY Young Animal, A DC Comics Imprint

IMAGE SOURCE: Far Sector #1 Cover by Jamal Campbell [Young Animal/DC Comics]


Well well well, looks like I’m trading one “galaxy far, far away” for another. What a totally unintended but convenient segue.

Ahem.

Far Sector #1 takes us to the bleeding edge of the DC Universe, billions of miles away from any the drama on Earth, to a one-of-a-kind wonder known as “The City Enduring”. Here in this technological marvel, three alien races have come together from the ashes of a cataclysmic war to a forge an unprecedented era of calm and tranquility. Granted, the cost of this peace is their forced inability to feel emotions, but few would argue against it given the results: not a single murder committed in over five-hundred years. Or at least that was the case until today, and now it’s fallen to the City’s new Green Lantern to get to the bottom of it.

I want you to know that what I’m about to say I’m saying without a hint of patronizing: this comic is really freaking pretty. There’s probably some fancier way of putting it that’s escaping me at the moment, but what else can I say about artist Jamal Campbell‘s work that hasn’t already been said at this point? He’s already received some much-deserved acclaim for his initial run on Naomi with writer Brian Michael Bendis, where he excelled in showcasing the quiet beauty of mid-western America in a vibrantly colorful superhero universe. If Campbell had any trouble adapting to this new setting — all skylines and crazy advanced technology — it’s certainly not apparent in his work here. Besides designing the a whole new world from scratch, he’s also designed a slew of new creatures to populate it and, perhaps most intimidating of all, a brand new Green Lantern in the form of Sojourner “Jo” Mullein.

IMAGE SOURCE: Far Sector #1 [Young Animal/DC Comics]

Let’s talk about Lantern Mullein: I’m not gonna lie, when I heard that Far Sector was gonna be introducing a seventh human to the Green Lantern Corps, I was not initially on board. There’s a bunch of dumb fanboy reasons, but it mostly comes down to the fact that there’s already no less than six humans in the Corps already and most of them barely have space to develop as is. My fears were mitigated though by the fact that this comic places Sojourner far away from any of the action in the other DC titles, allowing her to have her own space to stretch her legs without having to share a sector with Guy Gardner or Simon Baz or whatever. Plus, and this is totally down to personal preference, I love her Green Lantern look; from the button up collar to her crazy shades, Sojourner crackles with her own signature swagger and style, the kind that a show-no-fear “Type A Personality” type like her would feel comfortable rocking.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the writer of this tale who’s giving Sojourner her voice: N.K. Jemisin. If I hadn’t know this was Jemisin’s first foray collaborating on a comic book beforehand I would never be able to tell from this issue alone; she’s got a great knack for pacing and knowing when and where to hit a beat on the page. Plus, and this is a big problem I’ve seen with a writers who’ve primarily worked with traditional prose novels, she doesn’t make the mistake of cluttering the page with a bunch of unnecessary text. Words are great and all, but sometimes the best thing you can do is let the artwork speak for itself. By all accounts, I’d say Jemisin and Campbell have a great rapport going already.

I have to say, between this comic and the current run of The Green Lantern by Grant Morrison & Liam Sharp, this is probably the most interested I’ve been in the Green Lantern books since the Geoff Johns era. I mean, I’ll readily admit my enthusiasm for Gerard Way’s Young Animal line of comics has waned significantly since the imprint’s launch two years ago, but if this is the level of quality we can expect from future books then perhaps I need to re-evaluate my initial impressions.


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IN CLOSING, THIS IS STILL ONE OF THE BEST MOVIE TRAILERS I’VE EVER SEEN

IMAGE SOURCE: YouTube

Allow me to transport you back to the magical time of summer 2007, a summer that gifted us with cinematic classics like Ratatouille, Superbad, and Heaven’s own gift to meme generators: Spider-Man 3. Before all of those would come out, there was one movie I absolutely had to check out, and that was Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End. I know it’s difficult to imagine a time when people legitimately looked forward to another Pirates film, but I assure that it did, because it happened to me. I mean, I was probably gonna end up seeing it anyway because I’d enjoyed the first two films, but what finally tipped me over into full-blown “I have to see this beautiful thing” territory was the movie’s first trailer:

Man, 12 years later and it still gets me as amped up as when I first saw it. As for the movie itself, well, it’s alright. Certainly not the best of the bunch and maybe a little cluttered at times, but overall I found it entertaining enough. Sadly though, there was never a moment watching the movie that matched the excitement I felt watching the trailer for the first time. I mean really, that moment where Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones are clashing swords on the mast of the ship, perfectly synced to the orchestra chanting ominously in the background? That is some goosebump inducing stuff. Seriously, well done to whoever was in charge of editing that footage.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got in the tank for this week. I don’t really have much of a takeaway from all this, other than that this updated format has definitely given me a new appreciation for good time management. So I guess the lesson here is…it’s important to pace yourself? I don’t know, how much longer do I have before midnight?

Oh yikes, that’s not a lot at all, is it? Er, okay, time management it is! Seriously though folks, take it easy out there and remember to take care of yourself.

Later!

Published by

Z Squared

Aspiring Human Being & Professional Procrastinator