Some books, like Marvels, have deconstructed the notion of the helpless citizen constantly relying on the superhero to save them. Taking this even farther, other books have even gone so far as depicting the depressed superhero hoping for forgiveness for a mistake in his or her past (Kingdom Come shows white-bearded Superman in such a state: retired in self-imposed exile). Yet, no graphic novel has gone to the lengths Penance: Relentless does to defile the superhero genre hope motif, one that Superman is the prime example of.
Opening with a creepily masked serial killer on a stage playing cards with a crying little girl, the orchestra and all the seats around them filled with the bloody dead bodies of men, women, and children, Nick Spencer, Riley Rossmo, and Frazer Irving’s Bedlam Volume 1 is immediately beyond disgusting.
Starting off with a sob and an uncomfortable laugh, Denmark’s “Helium” and the U.K.’s “The Voorman Problem” are the first two films in the theatrical release collection of the Oscar nominated live action shorts of 2014. They are reviewed by Nolan Miller. “Helium” introduces us to the little blonde Danish boy named Alfred who is bedridden with a crippling and life-threatening disease. Enzo, a new janitor in the hospital, becomes friends with poor Alfred who reminds him of his own brother he lost as a young boy. With each successive visit to Alfred’s room we learn piece by piece of Helium, the collection of houses suspended by balloons where sick children go when they die to “get their strength back.” As Enzo gets close to the end of his fantastic tale complete with brief scenes of Alfred’s imaginings of Helium depicted on screen, Alfred’s condition suddenly takes a turn for the worst. The short ends with Alfred, supposedly close to death, finally leaving for Helium by way of the gigantic, gold and red zeppelin called the “Helium Express.” An overly sentimental piece complete with a soundtrack oscillating back and forth between melancholy and hopeful tracks to shove its point home, “Helium” is designed to tug, no, yank violently at the heart strings of the audience.
Marvel is commonly considered as lighter, more fantastical, and at times even sillier than the only other comic book publisher that rivals its titanic size, namely DC. However, the company’s relatively new (2012) NOW! imprint (Superior Spider-Man, All New X-Men, Hawkeye) possesses both a darker tone and an exceptionally sophisticated writing style unheard of for Marvel since the beginning of the “adults only” MAX imprint back in 2001. The blonde-mained, Norse god of thunder Thor of recent movie fame was one of the first characters to get his Marvel NOW! reboot with the start of Thor: God of Thunder on November 14, 2012. The New York Times best-selling series is now on its twenty-first issue, published this past Wednesday. This review, however, will focus only on the first five issues, which were collected in the paperback graphic novel released earlier this month titled Thor: God of Thunder, Vol. 1: The God Butcher.
American University’s chapter of React to Film is a documentary film club geared towards raising awareness about important social issues through organizing free documentary screenings on campus twice a semester. How to Make Money Selling Drugs was shown this past Tuesday (11/5) for the club’s last film of the semester. Even after cramming in a few more additional rows of chairs and having standing room in the back, there was still barely enough room to fit everyone. Apparently students at American University are looking at every avenue possible for ways to cut down on their ever increasing tuition fees. The film itself describes how to “level up” through the ranks of the illegal drug trade, from recreational user all the way to cartel lord.