Legends of Tomorrow (2016) s05e04 – Slay Anything

“Legends” does a double homage this episode–Slay Anything is simultaneously an eighties John Hughes homage and an eighties slasher movie homage. High school prom killer Garrett Quirk is the latest condemned soul sent back to Earth to reign Hell or whatnot. So what does a spree killer become once Hell-powered? A telekinetic slasher, out to get the final girl (Veronika London).

Caity Lotz, Jes Macallan, and Dominic Purcell are trapped in the high school reunion where Quirk’s back to get London—it’s also Purcell’s old high school and he runs into almost flame Lisa Marie DiGiacinto, giving Purcell a rather personable arc—while Nick Zano and Brandon Routh go back further in time to the first prom to try to stop Quirk from ever becoming a killer in the first place. I think it’s the first time “Legends” has used Back to the Future logic, but it fits so much I wish they’d homaged it better.

Complications ensue because Routh’s fairy godmother girlfriend Courtney Ford is visiting him and when she hears the pleas of Quirk as a teen–now played by Seth Meriwether—she finds herself bound to him. A slasher with a fairy godmother. It ends up being Ford’s best turn on the show; she does an excellent job.

Also doing an excellent job are Tala Ashe (obviously) and Shayan Sobhian. They’re hanging out on the ship while Routh and Zano try to save Meriwether from himself. Very nice sibling interaction and character development for Ashe and Sobhian. “Legends” ends up doing a lot this episode—though besides some fighting and being cute with Lotz, all Macallan gets is a reveal about her podcast, which is rater funny.

Meanwhile, apparently the show’s saving Maisie Richardson-Sellers for Matt Ryan’s plot lines, which this episode separates from the main.

The stylish opening titles are permanent now too. “Legends” is firmly footed this season; the showcase for Ford just makes it too bad she’s leaving at some point in the near future (along with real-life husband Routh).

Bummer. But until then… “Legends” is working just fine.

Nice direction from Alexandra La Roche this episode too; lots of effective slasher movie nods.

All Rise (2019) s01e15 – Prelude to a Fish

It’s a Valentine’s Day episode and romance is in the air around the courthouse. Maybe a little bit too much romance because “turns out they didn’t forget about her” D.A.’s office law clerk Audrey Corsa is back and she’s got her eyes on J. Alex Brinson, who’s starting his clerk job in the D.A.’s office and can tell she’s got her eyes on him and wants to avoid said eyes. Brinson starts the episode with a grand romantic gesture for girlfriend Jessica Camacho in front of all their friends, work acquaintances, and judge Simone Missick. It involves dancing and fish (hence the episode title, which—incidentally—makes no sense if you know what the word “prelude” means).

The sequence would be cringey even if it didn’t kick off Camacho being sad on Valentine’s Day.

Of course she’s sad on Valentine’s Day more because client Danielle Burgess can’t escape an abusive ex-boyfriend and it reminds Camacho of her abusive ex-husband, which eventually leads to a Brinson tone-policing Camacho at work thing. The show goes out of its way to explain why when men do bad things it’s their fault not their ex-girlfriends, but damn if Brinson doesn’t tell Camacho to stop yelling when dealing with shit of a D.A. Mitch Silpa.

Meanwhile Wilson Bethel’s got a case opposite Lindsey Gort; they like each other but are competitive so they only ever hooked up the one time or something a few episodes ago and now it’s time for the next level. While they work through this somewhat strange case involving disability fraud but in a heartwarming, let’s be understanding way. It’s not the most “CBS woke” episode of “All Rise” but its the most constantly “CBS woke” one.

At least now she admits liking Bethel, Gort’s nowhere near as obnoxious.

Meanwhile Missick is investigating boss Marg Helgenberger for a potential political run—doing in-house oppo research—and, just like Paul McCrane (who apparently was only willing to come back if he got to be seated in a break room) warned her. Lots of hemming and hawing for Missick, including the investigation being a cliffhanger, which is a little too dramatic for “All Rise,” while she’s trying to open a present from her offscreen husband. Just reminding about the offscreen husband reminds about how he’s pointless to the show and seems like a forced detail in Missick’s ground situation. Especially since Helgenberger’s campaign guy is a very flirty Nicholas Christopher.

The episode gives Camacho a big monologue about how her husband turned physical abusive, which is intense but also, unfortunately, not a good showcase for Camacho.

Queen of the Sea (2019)

Queen of the Sea  2019I spent the first ten minutes of Queen of the Sea underwhelmed. The book’s set in the mid-1500s—maybe—it’s unclear because creator Dylan Meconis isn’t doing a straight historical fiction thing. Meconis is sort of doing Elizabeth versus Mary but not exactly. The world is a lot like fourteenth century England, but it’s not exact. Everything’s got different names and for a while it seems like there’s some point to it, the fake history lesson. There’s not. There are other real history lessons, which are great and interesting, but the fake history exposition at the beginning… big yawn.

And Queen of the Sea is geared fairly young. It ends up getting really complicated but the first fifth of the book seems like Meconis can’t get the engine started.

The opening scene is a problem. It’s the Elizabeth stand-in, Eleanor, only we don’t know her name yet because it’s just her and some dude talking about how she’s got to go because the enemy has arrived. They make plans. The dialogue’s iffy. The art’s… okay. It’s not a catchy opening at all. Then Meconis introduces protagonist Margaret, a tween living on an island in the something something itsh-Bray Channel in a convent. The convent’s the only thing on the island. Margaret’s an orphan.

Then comes the exposition dump, where Margaret explains everything to know about the convent and the island. The supporting cast, the geography. It’s a bunch and, while it often looks great, it’s a slog to read through. Because besides the main nun, none of the rest have much of an impact on Margaret’s character development or the story in general. And Queen’s got a big story. One day two new residents arrive on the island—a fellow kid, albeit a boy, named William and his very serious mom. They’re political prisoners, exiled to the island for safe keeping (of sorts).

Margaret and William become friends and make all sorts of discoveries about their lives, including how it just so happens all the nuns in the convent are nuns because they’re political exiles too. Margaret’s there for a similar reason, even if she doesn’t find out what exactly. The arc with William and his mother and how they change Margaret’s life is fantastic. It’s where I stopped wondering if I was wasting my time with Queen. Meconis has very pretty art with a great style, but the art’s not challenging. It’s welcoming. I’m uncomfortable with how often Queen interrupts the comic to insert a prose block, which doesn’t negate the book being incredibly successful with that device. And once Meconis gets more comfortable about Margaret’s narration and we’re done with all the fake place names, the pauses in the comic narrative get to be a bonus. When Meconis and Margaret explain how the nuns’ day works—eight hours and what’s done during those hours—it’s this fantastic double-page perfectly executed infographic. It’s awesome.

It just took the book a while to get there through some rough waters.

But then it turns out the William stuff is just prologue. He’s how Margaret learns to be around people who aren’t nuns or the convent servants; she’ll need to learn to apply those lessons once the Queen from the first scene shows up on the island. It doesn’t take long before Margaret is ex-Queen Eleanor’s bestest friend, even if Eleanor doesn’t want one; a big part of Margaret’s character development is how she internalizes the teachings of the convent order and how to help those in need. Eleanor is in need, Margaret is bound to help her. It’s fascinating character stuff.

Especially once the secrets, adventures, and romances start playing out.

Meconis is always able to ratchet up the stakes, without ever losing sight of how to best make it work for Margaret’s character development. Queen’s got a very strong lead character and Meconis is very deliberate with her. Great work.

Queen of the Sea isn’t short. Approximately 400 pages. The first 85 or so are maybe tough, the next 150 are great, the final 165 are even better. The weird not historical fiction but also not exactly ahistorical fiction takes some time to work itself out. Also very weird is how Meconis handles religion. It’s too cute, especially given the convent angle.

But it’s a good graphic novel. Very impressive work from Meconis.

There’s a sequel tease at the very end, which seemed a little too forced but I’m also very interested in reading said sequel.

Grantchester (2014) s05e06

This episode serves as a possible pilot for sixth “Grantchester” and a second full season for new vicar Tom Brittney. Lots gets resolved, both in regards to recent events and season-long subplots. The show’s sparing in the schmaltz, instead going for knowing smiles and warm feelings, and it feels as good as a show about murders in a small British city in the fifties with characters who are becoming woker than most shows set in the modern day is ever going to feel.

Possibly because Brittney finally lets his guard down. The episode opens with him doing a degenerate drunk routine at his mom’s party. Mom Jemma Redgrave is marrying rich dipshit Dominic Mafham. Brittney disapproves, hence the drunkenness. So he spends the first third of the episode hungover, as he and Robson Green track a dead woman to a strange convent run by authoritarian Tracy Ann Oberman, who enrages and intrigues Brittney. He can’t understand how she does what she does in God’s name or some such thing. Sidney’s been gone so long I’d forgotten “Grantchester” used to regularly have crises of faith. Brittney’s been a rock this season, until last episode. So, broken, he involuntarily gravitates towards Oberman.

Oberman’s a good foil for Brittney. She’s unpredictable and rather cagey; her interrogation scene is almost a femme fatale thing, which is weird considering she’s just out of the habit.

Then there’s the Leonard (Al Weaver) plot. His dad—a perfectly fine but nothing special Sean Gilder—comes to visit and things don’t go well. There are unexpected revelations and dashed hopes and it’s all very depressing until it isn’t anymore because you don’t want to be depressed going out on the show this season. No spoilers but… it’s a very nice ending.

“Grantchester” has been fairly busy this season and this episode does a fine job wrapping up all the existing storylines. It’s a little uneven balancing subplots for Brittney, Green, Weaver, and Peake-Jones—even with Peake-Jones getting a lot less—with Green’s stuff all at the beginning of the season, but it works well enough. “Grantchester”’s successfully navigated the vicar change… now it just needs to get renewed.

Star Trek: Picard (2020) s01e04 – Absolute Candor

Let’s get the elephant out of the way: show co-creator, episode single credited writer, and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Michael Chabon. He’s really, really, really bad at writing dialogue. At some point in this episode, I realized Akiva Goldsman—the profoundly hacky screenwriter of Batman & Robin, iRobot, and I Am Legend who is also a “Picard” co-creator and co-wrote Chabon’s previous episodes… helped Chabon’s writing. Left alone, Chabon’s truly atrocious.

I thought the dysfunctional crew banter—between Patrick Stewart, Michelle Hurd, Santiago Cabrera, and Alison Pill—would be the terrible low point, but Chabon keeps finding new depths. The banter’s bad—and reveals Hurd might end up being one of the show’s biggest liabilities unless someone gets her performance under control—but nothing compared to the big romantic dance sequence between Isa Briones and Harry Treadaway on the Borg cube. It’s not even Treadaway’s worst scene, which comes later and implies a sadomasochistic (no kink-shaming) incestual (okay, kink-shaming here) relationship between Treadaway and sister Peyton List, but the dancing on the Borg cube scene? Real bad. Real, real bad.

But actually nothing compared to where Chabon’s taking it with Stewart this episode. The title, Absolute Candor, refers to the guiding principle of this convent of Romulan warrior nuns. They’ve got a name straight out of a Dune book, which is fine since apparently Briones’ synthetic android has a hidden home world as well as a Plan. Really hope the home of the fabled Thirteenth Tribe ends up being a place called Earth. Could they seriously not come up with anything original. Like, there’s a Terminator 2 rip in here where Stewart has to tell his newest Musketeer (Evan Evagora) he can’t just go around killing people. It’s a lot.

And it comes right after Stewart has a meltdown on the failed Romulan rescue planet—where the Federation stopped transporting the Romulans so they could all die out instead—about how the Romulans there don’t appreciate him as their great White savior.

Chabon writes Picard as an egomaniacal dilettante (who didn’t even keep up with interstellar political news in the last decade and a half); it’s actually surprising Stewart came back for this series given the writing.

Picard’s obnoxious and kind of playing a parody of himself but if William Shatner were doing it on “SNL.” Again, real bad.

Also bad—Jonathan Frakes’s direction. Frakes directs the Stewart stuff like it’s an episode of “TNG,” only with the wrong music—Jeff Russo does some lousy work here—and the wrong kind of sets. “Picard”’s not cheap enough for how Frakes is directing it. Then there’s the action, which is poorly edited to the point the battle music starts not just before the battle but before the enemy ship even shows up. It’s incompetent, which it really shouldn’t be.

What’s good? Amirah Vann as the only warrior nun with any lines.

Really not sure about all the holographic clones of Han Solo-wannabe Cabrera on the ship, especially since they’re used for laughs and rather broad caricatures.

This episode does move better than the previous two… is moving better through worse material a good thing?

The White savior stuff needs to be seen to be believed, but shouldn’t be.

Also the end special guest star reveal is badly executed.

Yuck.

The Ref (1994, Ted Demme)

Every once in a while, The Ref lets you forget it’s just a comedy vehicle for stand-up comic Denis Leary and so doesn’t need to actually be a good drama and just lets you enjoy the acting. Demme’s direction is simultaneously detached, thoughtful, and sincere. He and editor Jeffrey Wolf craft these wonderful comedic scenes. Sure, they’re usually some mixture of smart and crass and good old shock vulgar, but they’re good. They’re funny. The Ref starts as a straight-faced spoof of a hostage drama. Lovable master thief Denis Leary takes viciously fighting and profoundly unhappily married Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey hostage. On Christmas Eve. Eventually their extended family shows up and the film culminates in Leary, who’s spent the movie refereeing the fighting couple—refereeing, The Ref, a little punny but, you know, fine. Makes you think about sports not the movie actually being a Bergman spoof.

It’s not. I wish it were, but it’s not. It’s a mainstream comedy with just the right amount of jokes at people and with people, once you get over the nastiness between Spacey and Davis. The opening scene is them in marriage counseling—an uncredited BD Wong plays the overwhelmed counselor who’s just there for the eventual movie trailer… and to normalize their behavior. Their exceptionally mean comments to each other. Hateful, spiteful, so on and so forth. The film’s giving us permission to laugh at Spacey and Davis trying to manipulate and hurt one another. It comes right after an Americana intro to the rich, idyllic suburb where the action takes place. We meet the friendly, personable cops, the children looking in the window at Christmas decorations, on and on. There are a lot of disparate pieces to The Ref, like Raymond J. Barry as the weary police chief with the department of lovably dumb cops, the It’s a Wonderful Life anecdote scene with a bunch of those lovably dumb cops, or J.K. Simmons as a blackmailed military school administrator. The movie makes them all fit. Sometimes with help from composer David A. Stewart, but always thanks to Demme and editor Wolf. The Ref’s got a great flow.

So then too is credit due screenwriters Richard LaGravenese and Marie Weiss; Weiss has a story credit but LaGravenese is top-billed so there’s a story, I’m sure. Maybe it explains why the melodramatic writing for Spacey and Davis—because Spacey and Davis need meat, they need something they can devour. They both get various solo scenes throughout where they get to let loose. Showcases, really. Because in addition to having a lot of funny scenes, The Ref is about watching Davis and Spacey do these character examinations of what would otherwise just be caricatures. They’ve got to be funny being dramatically mean and hateful to each other, while building the foundation to support the performances when the roles finally get stripped to the bone and laid bare for melodramatic purposes. While in what’s basically a sitcom situation involving Leary pretending to be their marriage counselor while he waits for his getaway boat to be ready. See, Spacey’s got an evil mom (Glynis Johns, who’s inexplicably British) and remember it’s Christmas Eve so it’s going to be Johns, apparently Spacey’s moron brother Adam LeFevre—nothing’s more unrealistic in the film than LeFevre and Spacey being brothers; they don’t exchange any lines; it’s like the film wanted to avoid it. LeFevre’s monosyllabic and lives in fear of wife Christine Baranski, who’s nasty to their kids—Phillip Nicoll and Ellie Raab but in a stuck-up White lady sort of way. Yeah… sitcom is the way to describe The Ref, actually.

Anyway.

Then there’s Spacey and Davis’s son, Robert J. Steinmiller Jr., who’s fine. The movie doesn’t ask too much of him and Demme directs him well. He’s a burgeoning criminal mastermind, a sophomore shipped off to military academy. He’s a plot foil more than a major supporting player—basically the film demotes him in the second act because it’s not fun watching Spacey and Davis berate each other in front of Steinmiller, which isn’t a great situation.

The filmmakers do what they can but there’s an inherent unevenness to The Ref. It feigns being different things—wry hostage spoof, hateful family Christmas movie—without ever trying to actually be those things. It’s comfortable just relying on Davis, Spacey, and Leary to get it through.

Because Leary’s the emcee. The film hints at giving him some stand-up rants throughout but soon makes it clear it’ll never interrupts the action for them. It’s a Leary vehicle but not a base one. He’s excellent. Not clearly profoundly talented like Davis and Spacey—which, note, is much different than their performances being profound—but excellent in the part. He’s very good at making room from his more talented, second and third-billed costars.

The Ref’s good.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Ted Demme; screenplay by Richard LaGravenese and Marie Weiss, based on a story by Weiss; director of photography, Adam Kimmel; edited by Jeffrey Wolf; music by David A. Stewart; production designer, Dan Davis; costume designer, Judianna Makovsky; produced by Ron Bozman, LaGravenese, and Jeffrey Weiss; released by Touchstone Pictures.

Starring Denis Leary (Gus), Judy Davis (Caroline), Kevin Spacey (Lloyd), Robert J. Steinmiller Jr. (Jesse), Richard Bright (Murray), Raymond J. Barry (Huff), Glynis Johns (Rose), Christine Baranski (Connie), Adam LeFevre (Gary), Phillip Nicoll (John), Ellie Raab (Mary), Bill Raymond (George), John Scurti (Steve), Jim Turner (Phil), Robert Ridgely (Bob Burley), J.K. Simmons (Siskel), Rutanya Alda (Linda), and BD Wong (Dr. Wong).


Weird Melvin (1995) #3

Weird Melvin  1995  3Hansen introduces a whole new character—or two, actually—but one with history with Weird Melvin; his sidekick, reformed monster Shag. Shag hangs out in Weird Melvin’s abandoned headquarters. Seems like he’s been there a while… but he’s finally ready to walk out. But Shag doesn’t come into the comic until the third-ish act. I’m not sure if Weird Melvin has acts. Kind of but it’s hard to tell given the sequential narrative.

The issue opens with Melvin, in his Wimpy Melvin, de-powered state, still a prisoner of his new girlfriend, Vampuh. He meets her father—a monster with a runny nose—who decides not to eat Melvin after Melvin gives him a hanky, which will come up again later for Hansen’s grossest sequence in the comic. But the action then shifts to the kid, who’s decided—having lost his entire comic collection—to give up comics collecting and go out and be a regular kid.

Of course, being a regular kid who has a past of comics collecting… the neighborhood bullies beat the crap out of him.

Little does the forever(?) nameless kid realize he’s got some more trouble in store as the swamp witch has a plan to overtake him as the world’s biggest Weird Melvin fan, which involves making herself irresistible to the tween comics fan. The plan has her transforming herself into a supermodel… a supermodel with a complete run of Weird Melvin comics.

Again, it’s another full issue, with the plotting just as imaginative as the grody visuals. At one point there’s the Mucus Monster, preying on an unsuspecting Weird Melvin, and it’s amazing how Hansen’s able to do dripping repulsion palatably. It’s a very strong mix of art and story. The art’s obvious—you can seen Hansen’s technical chops during with the swamp witch supermodel, when Weird Melvin all of a sudden has panels out of a Gothic horror comic—and the story’s subtle. The plotting’s so precise. So well done.

Interrogation (2020) s01e07 – Det. Carol Young & Det. Brian Chen vs Melanie Pruitt 2005

The year is 2005, so twenty years after the first episode—1983—and, therefore, Kyle Gallner playing closer to his actual age. It doesn’t really help with his performance. With his shaved head and serious prisoner eyeglasses and seventies porn ‘stache, every once in a while—when he’s not talking—you imagine they must’ve wanted someone else for the part who might be good. It’s a big swing of a performance for Gallner and a cringe-y fail of one.

Maybe Eddie Furlong.

This episode is about Gallner getting out of prison because Peter Sarsgaard was either a dirty cop or an incompetent one. Sarsgaard’s in old age makeup—really good old age makeup—and moping around because it’s 2005 and he doesn’t get to be as racist anymore. He can still be racist, obviously, like how the original D.A. Erich Anderson is low key racist and sexist to Black reporter April Grace in the first scene—setting up the cops and prosecutors as scumbags, which is something considering we then have to spend the entire episode with Sprague Grayden (who’s quite bad) and Tim Chiou (who’s scenery for Grayden) trying to figure out how to railroad Gallner back into prison. Their boss, current D.A. Joanna Adler (also not, you know, good), really hates Gallner’s high profile defense attorney, Eric Roberts (who’s phenomenal and makes the episode worth watching) and wants to get him good.

Gallner’s side of the story has Andre Royo in the background; presumably he was introduced in a previous episode—oh, yeah, this episode entirely hinges on information previously introduced so the whole “watch in any order you want” is utter nonsense and lazy storytelling from the show’s creators. This episode of “Interrogation” reveals it to be a bullshit White riff on “When They See Us,” only not a fiftieth as good. Also Ernest R. Dickerson’s direction is… bad. Like, real bad. Especially when it’s Gallner acclimating to freedom.

His storyline involves hooking up with prison bunny Alice Wetterlund, who’s also not good but far from Grayden. The only worse writing in the episode (courtesy Barbara Curry) than Wetterlund and Gallner’s “romance” subplot is when Grayden and Chiou propose their theory of the crime to Adler and we get to see how dumb everyone involved in the show must be when it comes to doing drugs. It’s not just it appears no one involved has ever done drugs… they haven’t even seen Trainspotting. It’s seriously the worst drugged out youth scene I’ve seen… since eighties television probably.

As for the “real” interrogation scene? It takes a few minutes and, since it involves Grayden, it’s pretty bad. Though it’s a great look for the cops, as they threaten to slut-shame a preschool teacher for being sexually active as a teen.

“Interrogation” is a show about how awful cops are and how cool it is they’re awful.

It’s also a show where somehow Dickerson manages to make the Santa Monica boardwalk look like it’s in Toronto.

I guess there’s some funny moments when it tries to be trendy, as Wetterlund tells Gallner to podcast so he can “own [his] story” and “tell [his] truth.”

Also for some reason still doesn’t get any good screen time murder victim Joanna Going is dressed like a clown.

I’m wondering if they decided you could watch the show in any order because otherwise it might be even worse. Though it’s hard to imagine the bad being much worse.

But Eric Roberts. Damn. You watch it and you feel the loss of him not having a great acting career in your bones.

Interrogation (2020) s01e06 – Henry Fisher vs Eric Fisher 1992

The reason you can watch “Interrogation” in any order you want—according to the opening titles—is because cold case detectives don’t pick at old cases linearly. So, by watching “Interrogation,” you’re a cold case detective too!

Eye-roll emoji.

This episode doesn’t feature any recorded interrogations for the show to faithfully dramatize. It’s all historically questionable stuff, except maybe all the White people in 1992 L.A. being low-key racist about the Rodney King verdict. Unless they just say the quiet parts out loud as the riots start.

There are three plot lines. Cop Peter Sarsgaard is in uniform and cracking heads during the riots, checking in with estranged wife Ellen Humphreys (in a shockingly thankless role) while David Strathairn finds out he’s dying and new girlfriend or wife Melinda McGraw tells him he’s got to settle things with still incarcerated son Kyle Gallner.

Now, skipping from episode one to episode six—nine years in “real” time—I’m not sure if I missed any character development with anyone, but it doesn’t seem like it. Gallner’s really, really, really bad. And Strathairn’s on par. After hoping for decades David Strathairn would make it… well, he’s made it to this. Hacking it out in streaming shows. It’s a meteoric and rather depressing fail.

Chad L. Coleman shows up for a couple scenes as the prison lawyer who Gallner asks for help but doesn’t have time for Gallner because Gallner hangs out with White supremacist prison boss Jeff Kober. Kober doesn’t so much give a performance as posture as a vaguely prison Nazi prison Nazi. They don’t want to say prison Nazi because “Interrogation” is feckless.

Big surprise of this episode? Flashbacks to before the murder revealing Gallner was adopted and mom Joanna Going never wanted him. She was terribly abusive to him and Strathairn just stood by and did nothing. So, you know, it’s cool if Gallner killed her. After a stunningly misogynist characterization of Going (both from Strathairn and the flashback itself), Gallner erupts and challenges Strathairn’s recollection.

The way Gallner remembers it, Going didn’t like him because he’s Strathairn’s biological son from an affair and Strathairn forced Going to adopt him. So Going was a saint.

Though the saint stuff is literally a single scene and the demonizing was four shocking minutes.

Not sure what kind of impact “Interrogation” is going for, but so far, it’s just showcasing how Strathairn not winning an Oscar for Good Night, and Good Luck broke him and how Gallner’s… really not capable of succeeding in this part.

At least Sarsgaard isn’t in it too much. Small victory.

Weird Melvin (1995) #2

Weird Melvin  1995  2Leave it to Hansen to make it weirder.

The issue starts with a bookend—Melvin’s still unnamed comic fan sidekick is berating Weird Melvin for not stopped Monster Fanboy (who owns every comic every published and hordes them in an underground lair and is, actually, a monster when it comes to collecting)—and then goes into flashback. It’s a little confusing at the start since last issue ended with Melvin needing to hibernate for thirty years. Seemed like the kid should’ve aged.

But what actually happened was the worms went after Melvin and dug a hole down to Monster Fanboy’s lair; Monster Fanboy, knowing Weird Melvin from the comics, natch, then chained Melvin up—see, Melvin’s in his Wimpy Melvin persona since last issue, when he lost his power.

The flashback gives an origin on Monster Fanboy, who ends up being the kid’s nemesis this issue as Melvin never gets his power back. Worse, he gets a girlfriend. So it’s all up to the kid to stop Monster Fanboy’s plan to drive up the speculative market on comic books (by exploiting the other fanboys). Hansen’s got some funny stuff in the issue. He doesn’t do much in the way of building to a laugh, he just gets the joke out of the way in a panel or three. Lovely pace, especially when he moves the action over to the kid’s perspective.

Meanwhile, Melvin picked the wrong girlfriend. Vampuh used to date Sy Cyclops, who attacked Melvin last issue and is responsible for his de-powering; Melvin took care of Sy, leaving Vampuh without a dude to push around. Turns out she likes her men wimpy and Wimpy Melvin is just what she needs. So she throws him into the cellar with her father, who’s been imprisoned there a hundred years and has apparently gone cannibal….

Presumably that cliffhanger will resolve next issue. Though the finale introduces yet another bad guy, who also wants to be Weird Melvin’s biggest fan, and she might be a more immediate danger (to the kid, who’s apparently still Melvin’s biggest fan even though Melvin failed to stop Monster Fanboy)

Weird Melvin is a peculiar comic. In all the right ways. Great gross art, thorough, engaging plotting. It’s amazing how sympathetic Hansen’s able to make the characters when he’s just playing them for icks or laughs.

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