Monday Musings: Black Panther Reigns

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Marvel released Black Panther on February 16th and it’s seen a lot of well-deserved buzz. I was able to see it on Friday and it was a fantastic movie. Marvel hasn’t been perfect, but they’ve had a solid run since starting the MCU with Iron Man. Here are some articles to check out on Black Panther if you’ve seen the movie already.

Black Panther isn’t just politically conscious, but is also a fantastic pop culture artifact

This isn’t the first black-led superhero film, but it is perhaps the highest profile ever given to a film so celebratory of black American culture and its African roots, which in itself feels revelatory as a breath of creative fresh air in a genre commonly bemoaned as resting too much on comfortable laurels.

Leigh Monson reviewed the film for The Eagan Enterprise. This review is a quick read that points out how it hits on a pop culture level and what that means for the film.

Black Panther’s Right Thing

The truth is that they didn’t dare put the same kinds of handcuffs they did in the past on Coogler. They trusted him largely because they had to trust him. The optics of doing the alternative were too risky. And that was terrifying to them, but they still gave up control and were prepared to take the loss, never expecting in a million years that this film would be the mega-success they’re seeing now (hopefully Hollywood is finally picking up how their modern audience actually works).

Film Crit Hulk is always worth reading.  This one is definitely more of a long read, but it’s as entertaining and insightful as you’d expect it to be.

‘Black Panther’ Is Marvel’s First Genuine Masterpiece

I’m trying to imagine being Ryan Coogler, the movie’s 31-year-old superstar director, at the start of this project, tasked with a job as monumental as this, burdened by a keen sense of the inherent inability to please everyone, and still having to make the movie.

Writing for The Ringer, K. Austin Collins has a nice article on the film. He discusses how you can love something, but have complicated feelings about it at the same time.

If you’re reading this and haven’t seen Black Panther yet, go do that. It’s worth your time.

You can find all previous editions of Monday Musings here.

Monday Musings: Celebration Rock Returns and More Podcasts

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Monday Musings returns with podcasts on podcasts for you. Celebration Rock returned today  and Vox is launching a new show. Check them out below.

Celebration Rock dropped two new episodes. The first is with Brian Fallon and the second is with Jeff Rosenstock. Steven Hyden discusses albums that Bruce Springsteen released in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Brian Fallon joins to discuss 1973’s Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle.

Jeff Rosenstock joins to discuss Born To Run, which is the first big album of Springsteen’s career.

Vox’s new daily podcast, Today, Explained, launches February 19

Take us along on your evening commute Monday through Friday (not on the weekends) and our promise to you is that by the time you get home — or to happy hour — you’ll not only understand the biggest events happening in the world, you’ll be able to explain them to your family and friends.

Vox is launching Today, Explained next week. It sounds similar to The Daily, which I honestly haven’t checked out. However, I might check out both soon just to see how either fits into my podcast listening habits. This sounds like a good way to keep up on the news that maybe I don’t necessarily want to read during the week.

Monday Musings: Super Bowl LII

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Photo Credit: Ian Baldwin

Today is all about Super Bowl LII. As a huge Packers fan, the outcome of this game ultimately didn’t affect me. Or so I thought. During my time in Philly for college, it was apparent how much that city loves their sports teams. My investment in the Eagles went as far as me hoping they’d win some games so I could get some free coffee from Dunkin Donuts. That said, I’m happy for the city and the fact that they can celebrate a huge victory like this.

Here are a couple Super Bowl articles to check out that are way more articulate than I would be on the topic.

Super Bowl LII Recap – The Ringer

Philadelphia’s 41-33 victory over the Patriots was a triumph for the best version of the league’s best team—a version that had been on display for the vast majority of the season. Pederson was brilliant as both a play-caller and play designer, and let the overwhelming talent lining this roster take over when it mattered most. The Eagles may have entered the Super Bowl as an underdog, but they were the superior squad on Sunday night.

Robert Mays is a writer I’ve been following for a while now. He has a great grasp on football and keeping up with every team in the league. His recap is a good one if you just want to look through some of the big moments from the game.

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Underdog Eagles Played Fearlessly Against the Patriots, and Now They’re Super Bowl Champions – SI

These Eagles are a blend of advanced thinking and basic values. They go for it on fourth down and practice hard, and they show Foles that they trust him by letting him rip the ball against a dynasty. Long dismissed any magic formula, saying “The reason we won is we’ve got good people, unselfish people, and we’ve got really good players.”

This article by Michael Rosenberg takes a good look at how the Eagles were able to defeat the Patriots and keep their cool when things didn’t go quite as planned. The Eagles stepped up in a way that many thought they wouldn’t once Carson Wentz was out for the season and their confidence won them a Super Bowl.

You can find all previous editions of Monday Musings here.

Monday Musings: Black Lightning, Constantine, and More

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Photo Credit: Ian Baldwin

Monday Musings is back with a superhero-filled edition. We have Black Lightning, Constantine, and more. Check it out below.

Cress Williams on Nerdist Podcast 

Cress Williams (Black Lightning, Grey’s Anatomy, Friday Night Lights) talks to Chris and Jonah about growing up in Orange County, deciding to get in better physical shape and how he got the role of Black Lightning. They also talk about the world of the CW superheroes, getting over addiction and they talk about the character of Black Lightning and what to expect from the tv show!

Cress Williams had a chat with Chris Hardwick about Black Lightning. They talk about more than just the show, though, and it’s a great conversation. I highly recommend checking this out.

Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow

Constantine is making an appearance on Legends of Tomorrow and I’m excited for it. Peronsally, I really enjoyed the show and was hoping it would get a longer run than it did.

Grant Morrison’s Batman run

After ordering the remaining comics I needed to complete my collection of Grant Morrison’s Batman run, I finally started reading through it. I’ve made my way through Batman and Son, Batman R.I.P., and Batman: Time and the Batman so far. The run is really interesting so far and I’ll hit the Batman & Robin trades soon. For Batman fans, I recommend checking out Morrison’s run.

Monday Musings: Music and Comics

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Photo Credit: Ian Baldwin

Today’s Monday Musings features music and comics. I’ve recently read some comics I really enjoyed and there are a couple music-related things to check out.

Apple Bows Apple Music For Artists to Provide Acts With Deep Analytics Dive

The easily navigable dashboard’s home page provides artists with their current number of plays, spins, song purchases and album purchases. The user can specify the time period ranging from the past 24 hours to the 2015 launch of Apple Music.

I tried to get Elephant Jake access to their artist profile on Apple Music and wasn’t successful. It’ll be interesting to see if they roll this out to all artists or keep their focus on larger artists. There are plenty of smaller artists and labels who would love to have access to this data.

Justin Timberlake chats with Zane Lowe

Justin Timberlake talks about writing songs for Beyoncé and his son listening to “Filthy.” If you’re a fan, give this a listen. This is just the first part, but you can listen to the full interview here.

Batman and Son and Catwoman: Trail of the Catwoman

These are two comics that I recently read and really enjoyed. Batman and Son is the first trade of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. Trail of the Catwoman is by Ed Brubaker with Darwyn Cooke on a good chunk of the art. If you like the Bat-family of characters at all, give these a read if you haven’t yet.

You can find all previous editions of Monday Musings here.

Monday Musings: Whatever A Spider Can

I started a new “job” today as editor of Whatever A Spider Can. I’m only putting that in quotations because it’s paid based on page views instead of an actual income and it’s fun, so it hasn’t felt like much of a job on day one. However, I’m still quite excited about it because now I get to do a ton of writing about Spider-Man and everything in that universe. Here are a couple of the articles I’ve posted today to kick off the relaunch of the site.

Brian Michael Bendis finished his run on Spider-Man

Brian Michael Bendis started writing Spider-Man comics back in 2000 with his long run on Ultimate Spider-Man. The series ran until 2009 and is a fantastic read. He’s also known for being the co-creator of Miles Morales, who has become quite the fan favorite. His work in the Spider-Verse didn’t end there, though. He also wrote Spider-Woman in 2009, which was a seven issue mini-series.

If you haven’t read any of his Spider-Man work, you’re definitely missing out.

Spider-Man’s next live action appearance and what to expect

In the trailer, Peter has the hair on his arm stand up when he senses trouble. Spider-sense is one of Peter’s abilities that gives him an advantage most heroes don’t have. In the comics, it’s been portrayed a variety of ways. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter wasn’t totally confident in his abilities and how to handle himself. Avengers: Infinity Warshows that he’ll continue to learn more about his powers.

Even though Homecoming came out in 2017, I’m already looking forward to what role Spider-Man will play in Avengers: Infinity War. 

You can find all previous editions of Monday Musings here.

Monday Musings: Morning Podcasts

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Photo Credit: Ian Baldwin

This morning, I made my way through some podcasts that I either downloaded over the weekend or had downloaded overnight. Nerdist, Recode Decode, and The Science of Social Media all put out some great episodes recently, so definitely check them out.

Michael Rosenbaum on Nerdist

Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville, Guardians of the Galaxy II) chats with Chris about how he got into acting, where he and Chris met and recently starting a podcast. They also talk about being comfortable with who you are, Michael tells a story about auditioning and shaving his head for the role of Lex Luthor!

This was a wonderful conversation with a lot of good insight.

Patty McCord on Recode Decode

Patty McCord joined Kara Swisher on the latest Recode Decode. She’s the former chief talent officer at Netflix. There’s a lot of great information in this episode about company culture.

The Science of Social Media

Buffer’s podcast offer bite-sized input on social media. I’ve mentioned it before and it continues to be a good listen. The latest episode runs down some social mistakes.

Monday Musings: Star Wars Galore

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On Friday, I found myself sitting in the theater to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Initially, I had no plans to go on the official opening day, but thanks to Moviepass and some single seats still being available, I decided to go. Since then, I’ve been consuming quite a bit of content on the movie and wanted to share some of it. Spoilers ahead.

Rian Johnson on The Big Picture

Rian Johnson had a chat with The Ringer‘s Sean Fennessey about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It’s a great (and quick) listen.

Just How Seriously Should We Take This Star Wars: The Last Jedi Backlash?

The divide between critics and “true fans” has been a long-running narrative surrounding the superhero films over at Warner Bros., but this is the first time Lucasfilm has really had to grapple with it. As Forbes points out, when it comes to Star Wars, this appears to be by far the biggest gap between critical and popular opinion. Or is it?

This is a good read on the various ratings around the internet for the film. Personally, I enjoyed it, but there certainly have been mixed reviews.

The Last Jedi Has a Snoke Problem

Now, there’s an argument to be made in favor of offing the Supreme Leader without explaining his whole deal. For one thing, it’s a clever subversion of expectations on the part of writer-director Rian Johnson. Rather than take the obvious path of giving us the information we crave, he makes an abrupt left turn and throws us off balance.

Abraham Riesman is a writer who I’ve been reading more and more from. If you’re looking for some takes to read on Snoke, check this one out.

‘The Last Jedi’ Has Something That No Other Franchise Can Claim

In 2017, our villains must be different. The real world is run by a menagerie of monsters, their misdeeds and grotesqueries made public with every passing hour. Who needs science fiction when we have C-SPAN. And so the Star Wars franchise, revived for modern times with a spunky, hopeful ethic that champions diversity and community, requires an evil that is more complex and more conflicted. Where once there was Vader, now there is his (only?) grandson, Ben Solo, reborn as the self-styled heavy-in-waiting Kylo Ren.

Yes, I started and ended this post with content from Sean Fennessey. This is a fun read on Kylo Ren as a villain.

I still have a ton of Star Wars content saved to check out, so this is only a little look at what’s out there.

You can find all previous editions of Monday Musings here.

Monday Musings: Spider-Man and Jessica Jones

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I just have a couple things for today. I posted both of the trailers on the site’s socials over the weekend, but I wanted to get a few thoughts down on each. Check out the trailers for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Jessica Jones season two.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse trailer

Even though it’s just an animated film, I’m excited about Miles Morales being the lead. Sure, they imply there are other Spidey friends in the world, but I’m fine with that since it opens the door for us to see some other great characters like Spider-Gwen. We still have about a year before it’s out, but I think it’ll be worth the wait.

Jessica Jones season two trailer

What is there to say about Jessica Jones? She’s wonderful. One thing I really love about this trailer is that it doesn’t give away who the villain is at all. It’s all about Jessica and what she’s capable of. She also quotes Spider-Man’s “with great power comes great responsibility,” but isn’t a huge fan of the saying. I’m ready for this, so is it March 2018 yet?

You can find all previous editions of Monday Musings here.

Monday Musings: Recent Comic Book Reads

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Monday Musings returns and this week I’m going to tell you a little about the recent comics I’ve read. I made a reading order list because it felt like the only way I’d stop hemming and hawing over what to read next every time I finished something. These are just a select few out of what I’ve read recently.

Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison

This was unlike any other Batman comic I have ever read. Morrison takes thing to a whole other level with getting into Batman’s head in this. The art accurately portrays the tone the story is setting and while it might not be my favorite Batman story, it’s certainly one worth checking out.

Bizarro by Heath Corson

Heath Corson put together a fun Jimmy/Bizarro road trip in this trade. The art makes it a bit more fun, too, with Bizarro’s facial expressions and Jimmy’s somewhat ridiculous look. There’s very little of Superman in this, though, so it’s by no means a typical Bizarro story either.

Descender Vol. 1 by Jeff Lemire

Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen make a great team. I remember meeting Dustin at WonderCon earlier this year and he asked me if I had read this. I told him I hadn’t, but I had bought it. I’m so glad I finally got around to it because it’s a gem of a comic. If you’re looking for a good space read, look no further.

Kill or Be Killed Vol. 1 by Ed Brubaker

This comic certainly won’t be for everyone. It’s pretty brutal. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips continue to team up on some intriguing crime comics. If you aren’t one who wants to see a little bit of gore, though, you may want to pass on this one.