Coverage of Worldcon 75 in Helsinki concludes the BaltiXtravaganza. Chris chats with UK writer and filmmaker Mel Melcer about her experiences at the convention, then dials up Finland’s own Ville Meriläinen for a local perspective. Salmiakki, anyone?
What does a writer who is working on two manuscripts do with a little spare time on Saturday? Well, she writes (first and foremost) and then she watches…oh, 8 hours of The Defenders. Caveat: This writer got up pretty early.
I know you are dying, DYING! to hear about The Defenders. Did it work? Was Danny Rand as bad an Iron Fist as he was in his own series? Could the four Netflix heroes work well together? What can you do in a police room full of supporting characters anyway? And what about Dr. Strange, The Hulk, Prince Namor, and the Submariner?
Let’s start with that last question first. The only thing similar to the comic Defenders and this show is the name. No, you are not going to see even the Valkyrie, who was a Defender in the seventies. Let’s face facts: Netflix was just looking for an available super hero name, and they didn’t want to go with the Champions of Los Angeles. Got it?
Our Defenders are the four action heroes on Netflix who have actually had their own shows: Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Incredibly well-balanced, moral compass Luke Cage is around to keep the rest of these guys from getting killed. Just saying. Mike Colter is so cool in this show, and his character makes my teeth hurt. In a good way. The acting is mighty fine among the mains. Charlie Cox keeps up Daredevil’s edgy vulnerability. Krysten Ritter delivers again as the hard-boiled Jessica Jones. And yes, Finn Jones as Iron Fist works here. As a matter of re-envisioning, if you look at the entire Iron Fist show as a set up for this show, suddenly you can see how that piece fits into this puzzle. Oh yeah, Iron Fist has many, many problems, but you need those problems to make this plot work.
The show is not without flaws. The pacing is still off, although not as much as in the 13-episode Netflix shows. Still, some parts of the show seem self-indulgent and could use more editing to make sure they firm up the story’s movement. And yet, there might be a counterargument, that everyone gets to see their favorite supporting characters do their thing. Like I live for Foggy, and so even if his bits don’t forward the story, I’m there.
One of the things the Hubs and I noticed as we watched the show: even the villains (sometimes especially the villains) have bad days in this universe. Alexandra, played by Sigourney Weaver tries her very best to destroy New York city with style, but the best laid plans…
Things to watch for that might press your Marvel buttons: first meeting between Colleen Wing and Misty Night. Money moment scene with Luke Cage and Iron Fist squaring off to fight the Hand. Matt Murdock agreeing entirely with Luke Cage that innocents shouldn’t get hurt because they are cut out of that same moral cloth. Jessica Jones telling the story about Matt Murdock’s boxer father to a kid who’s just lost her own father. Electra finally getting her groove back.
And…in this day and age, and especially after Iron Fist, Luke Cage talking about privilege to Danny Rand AND GETTING THROUGH TO HIM made me feel pretty good. Danny is far from a perfect character, but he grows. The only way to go for Danny is up.
I miss Frank, but I understand the next series to watch for will be Punisher, so I guess I can wait. Not too shabby, Netflix.
The great 2017 BaltiXtravaganza begins with the 2017 Writing Excuses Cruise! Cath and Chris board the MSC Fantasia for writing advice and excursions to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn and St. Petersburgh. We welcome fellow cruisers Sean Arthur and Ninette and Niklas Bahne to talk about their own experiences. Next time, it’s on to Helsinki for Worldcon!
Where is publishing headed? What hot new subgenres will burn up the bestseller charts? As with Hollywood, if anyone knew the answer, there would be no duds and bombs. But what harm in speculation? The Narrators offer their hopes and guesses for the Next Big Things in books and entertainment.
Last week I was in the air, and as is often my way while flying, I read a lot of books. One of the books, L. D. Colter‘s A Borrowed Hell, was pretty good. Published by Shirtsleeve Press, A Borrowed Hell dives right into the world of Jungian archetypes while taking a cue from Dante’s Inferno.
You have to like your fantasy on the literary side if you’re going to take a journey with July Davish as he literally confronts his worst fears and inner demons. As a reader, I identify strongly with July and his trials, his emotionally absent father, troubled sister, and addicted mother. He’s the kid who’s going to save them all, and therein lies his problem.
While his life is falling apart, July sees himself as a stable center at its core, just as a man having a run of bad luck. But when his life is threatened in a car accident, July finds himself occasionally transported to a purgatory where he must be confronted by the issues of his life and work through them, promising no pat endings or easy answers. While he’s awake, he’s lucky enough to meet a partner worthy of his journey.
There are only two parts of the story where I am pulled out. There’s an intimation on July’s part that people who use Xanax are addicts, which is solid characterization, but is not true. (Sensitive Xanax user here!) Valerian, the aforementioned partner, is pretty special, but in a story this literary, their meeting is a pretty pat love at first site kind of thing.
Still. I love the characters. I like July, Valerian, and Bill. I like all the variations of Pat, the archetypes. The medical details are strong, the emotional journey is good, and Colter builds emotional tension throughout. Don’t overlook this book. It’s a hidden gem.
Which books and authors can we read over and over? Who has influenced us in our own writing? Join us for a freeform discussion of the books, films, shows and comics that have helped us get from there to here.