Genre Talk

Patreon Post + #ComicsGate

Hey everyone, just dropping by to leave a couple of links.

First of all, I’ve put up a new post on Patreon, so if you’re interested in paying me for all this nonsense, you can go do that and then read it. In it, I talk a little bit about Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core and how excited I am about the analysis of it that I’m doing. It’s gay, guys. It’s so gay.

Also, #ComicsGate is still a thing, I guess. Because some people still think that comics were better when they were all about white dudes fighting the most uncontroversial supervillains, forever, and ever, and ever. Despite the fact that this prelapsarian, apolitical version of comics never existed anywhere except in their own heads.

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‘Logan’ Makes History, but Outlets Bury The Lead

Okay, so, first of all, I am so fucking excited about Logan getting a “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” nomination. So excited. Like, I know it’s a long shot, given how much critical praise stuff like Call Me By Your Name is getting, but there’s a chance! And this has literally never happened before for a superhero movie.

(I have to say, it feels really appropriate that the first script nomination for a superhero movie is for an XMCU flick, especially the one that says goodbye to both Sir Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman, both of whom were backbones of the franchise.)

But holy shit have the other comics and geek presses have buried the lede on this one. CBR says “Logan, GOTG2 Get Oscar Nominations,” Comicbook.com says “Logan Gets Nominated for an Academy Award,” WGTC (an outlet I used to write for, FFS) says “Oscars 2018: Logan Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, Wonder Woman Snubbed.” The only outlet that seems to get it is Screenrant, and they only put their article up like 20 minutes ago. It’s a good article, though, I’m impressed by its thoroughness.

Anyway, I’m super excited, and also tonight you can expect reviews of Incidentals vol. 1 and #5, since those come out tomorrow and I live for Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime line.

Can We Talk About MacGyver For a Second?

Okay, I know that MacGyver isn’t the genre this blog is nominally about, but MacGyver does something right that I’m not sure any of the current superhero shows are doing: using the episodic form to deliver fun, uplifting escapism.

Yes, I love long-form storytelling.  Yes, I love character development and arcs and whatnot.  And I love me some solid thematic resonance and dystopia.  These are all important to have, and to see them done right is important.  But man, the special thing about TV, the thing that for me pulls TV and comics into parallel as mediums, is the concept of the episodic story.

Go back and open up a comic from the Golden or Silver Age — I’m talking like, Lee/Kirby X-Men or Siegel/Shuster Action Comics, here, go straight to the beginning — and you’ll find that each individual issue tells a self-contained story that, frankly, is reminiscent of episodic storytelling that would later become a staple of television.  The overarching stories don’t really exist yet — it’s just the plot of the moment, the characters you love, and the understanding that the good guys are going to win.

Lucas Till as Angus MacGyver

See this nerd? I started this show because of him, so it’s his fault you have to listen to me yell about this.

MacGyver on CBS has mastered this.  Yes, there are overarching plotlines: Murdoc escaping prison, Nikki’s position as a double agent, Bozer learning to handle his crush on Riley without resorting to terminology like the ‘friend zone.’  But fundamentally, the show excels when it tells a good, tight A-story for most of the hour, and gives us a reason to care about the characters.  Tonight on the show, Riley has to take on her first solo mission, and Jack, her father figure, is super uncomfortable and overprotective about it.  That’s it, that’s the whole point of the episode.

And yeah, you know that Riley’s going to be fine, and that the team is going to save the day, but the show invests you so deeply in the characters themselves that you still feel the suspense when she’s in danger, you still get upset when Jack fights with everyone and anyone, taking out his worry on his teammates.

Personally, I think the superhero genre could do with a show like this — a show with a fairly light tone, that’s high on octane and low on longterm plotting, and where you tune in every week not because you have to know what happens next, but because you love the characters and want to hear another story about them.  It’s why people tuned in for Star Trek: The Original Series, too, and why early comic books worked as well as they did.

There’s something to be said for telling a multi-issue or multi-episode story arc, I agree.  But I feel like those stories are dominating the genre right now, and we could do with an episodic story or two in all the chaos.

I tune in to MacGyver every week, I get invested, I freak out a little and flail (the most obviously neurodivergent/potentially autistic behavior I exhibit), because I love the characters so much, and I’m so happy to be there with them and to watch their story.  I’m not worried, because I trust the showrunners to tell me a story I will enjoy, so I’m free to sink into the fun of Mac and Jack’s old-marrieds-type bickering, into Matty’s mama-bear instincts over her team, into MacGyver building a pacemaker out of paperclips and a car speaker — the stuff about the show that is fun.

I can’t name a single currently running superhero show — not one! — that makes me feel the way MacGyver does, and I think the genre could use it.