Farewell Jessica Jones & Marvel Netflix

There is no sugar coating that Jessica Jones season 3 is not good. I stuck with it but to get through I took to skipping through multiple conversations between characters. The version I ended up watching improved as a result but even with impromptu editing, the pacing was weak and dialogue was often unconvincing. There was a decent story in there and some interesting themes as each of the core characters (including the Machiavellian Jerry Hogarth and the photography obsessed serial killer) explored the idea of people seeking to punish the wicked (as they see them) for reasons other than righteousness.

I already thought that the Netflix Marvel shows had run out of steam. The novelty had worn through and the consistent flaw of poor pacing and overlong seasons was only getting worse. Bookended between the first Avengers movie and the final one (in its current form), the form of these shows either had to change radically or conclude. I just wish they could have brought them to a stronger end.

Jessica Jones season 3 was emblematic of this arc. Still running on good will from the brilliant first season, the show hoped that we were still sufficiently invested in the main characters to follow a plot that mainly dealt with how unhappy they are with their lives. The effect was a script that felt like it was trying to find a way to fill 13 episodes with a 5 episode story. Two whole episodes were re-telling events we had already seen (and understood) from the perspective of Trish Walker rather than Jessica. There was a logic to that in terms of the character’s arc but neither episode brought any new insights.

Strong cast and an interesting premise but so, so ponderous. When the idea is that you are an intelligent show, there should be some trust that the audience has already got the point you are trying to make and can already see where a character is heading.

Of the remaining shows, Daredevil had a proper ending, The Punisher was already at a stage of diminishing returns, Luke Cage looked like it was heading somewhere interesting and ironically Iron Fist looked promising. A final season of The Defenders would have been a nice way to bring the whole thing to an end, so long as they kept it short :). I’ve suggested elsewhere that a gutsy move from Marvel would have been to have them all evaporate into dust Infinity War style mid-story.

A MicroSFF Collection from O.Westin

I formulated a rule a while back that I’d only review what I was encountering organically. I review a lot of things but I don’t want to be a reviewer as such. Mainly, this is to avoid the blog feeling like work or writing to feel like an assignment. I have whatever the opposite of a work ethic is.

But I decided to make an exception for an eARC that I got from the O.Westin, the mercurial mind behind MicroSFF. It’s a collection of over 300 of their tiny tweeted tales. I’ve been reading these stories in my Twitter feed for years now but their very nature makes them difficult to review. So a collection is kind of nice to have.

If you haven’t read any of them before, they are exactly what they sound like. A very short story with science fictional or fantasy elements. As you might expect from short stories in general, the stories are typically a set-up followed by a twist. The length restrictions of a tweet mean that they often follow the structure of a joke with a sudden shift of perspective or breaking of expectation at the end. However, while some are intentionally funny, with many the shift in perspective provides emotional insight into a character or social commentary or a disturbing reveal (or all of those).

The brevity invites readers to imagine the world and setting around the story. For example this Black Mirror-like story:

Other times the set up is overtly science fictional and the twist is an insight into character:

Others deftly throw an idea in from left field creating weird, funny and disturbing situations:

Some stories evoke little more than a wry smile and others provoke an urge to write. Some are just funny 🙂

DC Closes Vertigo

I don’t buy the quantity of comics I used to in the 1990s — age partly, but the time I spent shifting continents* broke my comic habit because I just didn’t have a regular comic shop. Even so, I’m sad to hear that DC is closing down the Vertigo imprint.

“DC has announced that, starting in January 2020, it will close the DC Vertigo, DC Zoom and DC Ink imprints in favor of a new publishing strategy to release all published content under the DC brand. At the same time, a new age-specific labeling system will be introduced for DC content, identifying content aimed at pre-teen readers, general audiences and material aimed at readers 17 and older.”

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/dc-closing-down-vertigo-imprints-1220225

‘Age’ really misses the point. It’s true that Vertigo books were pitched at the ‘mature’ audience but distinction wasn’t that Vertigo comics might have sex or violence in them but that they would attempt smarter and more thoughtful stories.

The headlines focus on the famous titles, Gaiman’s Sandman obviously (which technically predated Vertigo) but also later series like Fables and Y-The Last Man. What I’m nostalgic about though was the numerous shorter run comics Vertigo published in the 1990s, most of which I can’t even remember but which were just there. You could pick up something weird with an odd story line that would go off into strange place for a few months and then be done.

I remember being unwell one weekend decades ago now and my friends heading off into the city and when they came back they had popped into a comic shop and just bought the first Vertigo comic they didn’t recognise for me. That’s top notch friendship.

I guess rationalising your range of imprints makes sense but I’m glad Vertigo existed when it did. I didn’t really buy or read any other kind of DC comics at that time, I got my superhero fix for Marvel, but Vertigo was different. Under Karen Berger’s guidance, it was a cultural phenomenon that had an influence far beyond the scope of its sales.

*[I mean I shifted between continents. I wasn’t manually moving continents around like I’m the person who was in charge of continental drift for a few years.]

Just a little bit of Puppy history

Well this looks like a well deserved announcement:

“Tom Doherty Associates is pleased to announce (and, you know, Tor.com is not unbiased here!) that effective immediately, Irene Gallo is promoted to Vice President, Publisher of Tor.com! In this newly created role, Irene will be fully dedicated to the Tor.com website and imprint.”

https://www.tor.com/2019/06/20/irene-gallo-promoted-to-vice-president-publisher-of-tor-com/

Good for her and well deserved given the range and quality of Tor.com output over the past few years.

Of course, the announcement can’t help but echo here because of one of the uglier parts of the 2015 Sad Puppy campaign which included an attempt by several people connected with that campaign to attack Irene Gallo by launching a boycott of Tor books. (see https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/what-about-that-tor-boycott-thing/ and more recently https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/back-to-the-revised-history-of-a-debarkle/)

As I said more than once, the whole thing had a dramatic entrance but lacked any kind of distinct end. I guess Puppy-related people still aren’t buying Tor books and I guess nobody cares. Here’s a graph from Google Trends that shows the rapid rise and fall in interest in the topic:

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=2014-01-01%202019-06-21&q=%22Tor%20boycott%22