Posted in The MIGHTY Rosie, TV Stuff

What did I just watch? Or – Vox Machina is worth a look

Whilst not all, much of the sci-fi/genre TV fare that goes on TV at the Munky House is either discovered alongside the Mighty Rosie, or I have brought to the her attention, so when it goes the other way, it’s always something a bit special.

One such thing was Critical Role. Its a live stream of a game of Dungeons & Dragons, the world famous roleplaying game. The group are friends who work in acting and voice acting and their filmed games are quite fun. I watched one with a Christmas theme, that was over four hours long, but was such a laugh.

Now one of their more well regarded filmed campaigns was based on a group of characters known as Vox Machina and Amazon Prime recently adapted it to a 12 part animated adventure set in its fantasy world and the creators of Vox Machina were brought in to voice them and as soon as the MIGHTY Rosie heard of this, she insisted we watch it.

And so we did.

Here be spoilers

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The Legend of Vox Machina was released on 28 January 2022 starring the following:-

Vex’ahlia: Laura Bailey

Vax’ildan: Liam O’Brien

Percy De Rolo: Talieisin Jaffe

Pike: Ashley Johnson

Keyleth: Marisha Ray

Grog: Travis Willigham

Scanlan: Sam Riegel

Vox Machina are a group of adventurers containing many of the kinds of characters you find in a party of D&D players, a rogue, a fighter, a cleric, a mage and a bard. But these are relatively amoral ‘heroes’ who are in it for the sex, drugs and rock and roll of it all. When we first see them, they are involved in a bar fight. We very soon see that we are not in the presence of a regular set of protagonists. They are often in conflict with one another and have vastly different agendas. The series starts with a between-adventures bar fight before they are asked to save the nearby land of …….. from an unknown monster, which ends up being revealed to be a dragon. They then become the official heroes of the land they saved before being embroiled in the revenge filled agenda of Percy as he tries to free his land from the monsters that have taken his ancestral home.

In these stories we have love stories, redemption arcs and hero moments. We also have a lot of pretty graphic moments of violence and horror. Now all of that is good and if all that this show had to offer was drama and violence, it would still be worth seeing. The thing is, the biggest selling point of this show is it’s humour.

From the dry humour of Vex, Vax and Percy who are all quick asides and quips to the comedy gem that is Grog, the party’s tank, who moves from kind hearted goof to barbarian war machine in seconds, sometimes doing both at the same time. But as well as that, we get the party’s Bard, Scanlan. A blending of Marvel’s Pip the Troll, Farscape’s Rigel XVI and HIMYM’s Barney Stinson. Most of the show’s more risque moments and jokes. Everyone knows one of those people who are a bit too NSFW and when you take that to the Nth degree you get Scanlan and his magic purple hand spell.

The thing that struck me most about this show was that unlike a lot of fantasy series, there was a sort of layperson reaction to it all. The cast acting like the fucked up stuff was in fact fucked up. People reacted to the weirdness, like dragons, vampires and Vex having a familiar called Trinket who is a bear. This is a not safe for work show, plenty of sexual references, violence and horror wrapped up in a fantasy setting that makes this one of the most unique and interesting TV shows I have seen in the last two or three years. I knew it was something special when I was genuinely angry that the season had come to an end. Honestly I’m thinking of watching it again just writing about it. It’s on Amazon Prime at my end, which if you don’t have it, should have some kind of 30 day free trial option and this is very much worth giving a try.

Posted in TV Stuff

5 Adult Animations

When I was a young’un, animation was clearly seen as a medium for children. They were relegated to after school timeslots and Saturday mornings. With the ascendance of the Simpsons as well as Family Guy and South Park, animation was given a new avenue to entertain a new audience that wanted an animated show that wasn’t just for kids and many times not even suitable for the little ones.

Final Space

Part satire on space opera, part action show and part comedy this is the tale of Gary, a prisoner on a space ship, who gets drawn into large galaxy spanning events and encounters a variety of characters and ends up on a quest to save Quinn, a woman Gary longs for, who doesn’t feel the same. It’s silly and whacky fun and whilst I am unsure who the target audience is, it certainly works for me.

Archer

A bit of an old standby, this is a series out the life of an international spy, his colleagues, his ex and his mother all working for a spy agency in a modern day setting, but using very cold War themes and characters. Archer himself is a boorish, womanising, heavy drinking narcissist who is also somehow a great spy. But really it’s a workplace based sitcom with witty writing and bizarre characters. I won’t lie, halfway through its run the wheels start coming off, but it’s pretty fun to watch.

Lower Decks

I am a big fan of Trek, in almost all its forms. If it has one flaw, is that it takes itself too seriously. Lower Decks does not suffer from this flaw. This version is once again a workplace sitcom which pokes loving fun at the franchise, showing us the view from the junior officers of a mid-level ship in the fleet. A

Bojack Horseman

Morphing from a comedy-satire of Hollywood, to a character study of a man struggling with his many many flaws to an examination of what having such a toxic person in your life can do to you, this was a fascinating, if uncomfortable journey. Will Arnett kills it as a former star struggling to stay relevant and loved several years past the heights of his career, surrounded by equally flawed people it was an interesting story that had a beginning, middle and end and satisfying end. It would be nice to see what happened next, but it ended so well that, I’m okay if we don’t.

The Legend of Vox Machina

I am not going to say too much about this, because honestly it has made such an impression, it’s going to be it’s own post. This is one of those shows that can do pathos, action, horror and humour with equal ease, without the whiplash of tonal shifts that you would expect. The show is an adaptation of Dungeons and Dragons Roleplay campaign and is absolutely full of amazing characters and incredible voice actors.

Well that’s another 5 done. See you soon internet people.

Posted in Comics n Stuff

Farewell and thank you George Perez.

Just to warn you all, this is a bit of a ramble, but it is what was in my head.

On Saturday I learned of the passing of the legend that is George Perez. He died aged 67 after a long battle with illness at home, surrounded by loved ones. He had been ill for some time and he was aware that these were his last days.

A week after losing Neal Adams, this was a loss not just the devastating one to his family and friends, but to the larger comics community, both professional and fans alike and it’s hard not to feel saddened by this tragic event. So I wanted to write something about this man, whom I never met, but had an impact upon my life nonetheless.

George Perez’s career spans over 40 years, covers hundreds of characters for both DC and Marvel amongst other work and commissions from his early works for Marvel to his work during the New 52 era of DC and several places in between. Almost all of the work he did defined both what a penciller could do with a page and added depth and details to many characters. No one will argue how great Jack Kirby’s action packed panels were, but George Perez added a degree of soul to the Thing that transcended iconic.

After some stellar work for Marvel with work on the Fantastic Four and the Avengers titles amongst others, he leapt across the aisle to DC and along with Marv Wolfman relaunched the Teen Titans as the New Teen Titans. He brought back original members Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Robin, adjacent member Beast Boy and introduced Raven, Starfire and Cyborg launching a comic that was well written and amazingly drawn. After a few years of this, in 1985 he went big.

The company-wide crossover wasn’t original, Contest of Champions was years earlier and the big 12 month event was done by Secret Wars, but it was this Wolfman/Perez creation that took the idea to an epic place.

I first got a few random issues of this comic in the 1990’s, seeing almost all of DC’s repertoire of characters for the first time, parallel earths, multiple versions of the same characters and a story both complex to read and beautiful to look at. With new characters like Harbinger, Pariah and both versions of the Monitor he created a story that has endured for the majority of 40 years and still stands up. I never got all of the issues, but I did manage to get one of the collected editions, the one with the Alex Ross cover and I re-read it. When my son was younger, I read it with him and I do a re-read every couple of years. That and his reboot and revitalisation of Wonder Woman cemented his reputation as a comic superstar. But I didn’t know this at that point.

His return to Marvel came with Infinity Gauntlet along with Jim Starlin which made Thanos ‘the’ Marvel villain as well as providing much of the plot for Avengers: Infinity War over 20 years later. But again, this is not where I had come in yet.

In the mid-90s, I started working in a comic shop in the centre of Merseyside, it was there I met my first comics professionals at signings and since I was being paid, was able to read comics that I might not have otherwise read. It was whilst being there, that I saw the announcement for and read the initial issues of volume 3 of Avengers.

I didn’t know the Avengers well and yet here they all were. It was part of Marvel’s Heroes Return initiative, with big stars on what should be big books, Ron Garney returned to Captain America, Alan Davies started off Fantastic Four and the Avengers were pencilled by George Perez and I was hooked. This is what the Avengers looked like with better colours, sharper inks, but the same excellent pencils by a more seasoned George. It led to me reading the Avengers long after I expected to be gone and his depictions of them are to me definitive. He is responsible for my favourite ever panel of Avengers:-

It was never bettered to my eyes and whilst the follow-up run with Alan Davies was good, it lacked that iconic quality that it had but a few issues before.

His work slowed down a bit after that, with the exception of the excellent JLA Avengers/Avengers JLA series that reunited him with Kurt Busiek from his Avengers run that gave us a 4 part prestige format series that is absolutely beautiful, worth the many years of waiting to see Batman meeting the Thing.

But afterwards, he became a face at conventions, all over the world, proving he was as kind as he was talented, I have many facebook friends and acquaintances that all have their tale of the lovely man who did a sketch and spent time with them. He was a lovely man who brought moments of joy to people with his work and his presence.

I was gutted to hear of his illness and the knowledge that he would retire, but he has left behind a library of work that is decades of exceptionally beautiful work, action packed and detailed that speaks to the heroic ideal in the same way Kirby’s did. News came out that he wasn’t going to get treatment for the illness and was instead going to spend what time he had with friends and family.

No, I never met the man, I don’t have a story of meeting him, or a sketch he did for me, but I do have comics that he did that enhanced my life by distracting me from my problems, or taking me into a world and showing me heroes and stories that lifted me up. The fact that there won’t be any more work from him is sad, that his family lost him is even sadder, but his work will endure and as a result, so will his legacy.

The last picture I want to put is his one of Superman, wielding Captain America’s shield and Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor, a picture that reminds me that no matter what, you have to keep going and use whatever you can to do the right thing and get the job done.

Thank you Mr Perez, for what you gave to me and many thousands of others who never met you, you gave us heroes and one of them was you.

Posted in Comics n Stuff

Neal Adams

This weekend, I learned of the sad passing of Neal Adams at the age of 80.

Neal was an accomplished penciller with a career stretching back to the Silver Age, with a dynamic style that brought more realism to that era and whose worked reached far into the 21st Century.

He worked on almost all the major characters at DC, particularly memorable on Batman as well as his redesign of Green Arrow helping turn from a Batman clone to a character in his own right with a look that was unlike anything done before.

Whilst his artistic contributions are almost peerless, one of the things I heard most about him was his work for other creators. He helped launch the career of Frank Miller amongst others, but the thing he also did was help existing artists.

A champion of creator’s rights, his was one of the voices that led to DC Comics’ recognising the contributions of Siegel and Shuster in the creation and success of Superman. The credit on every media product containing Superman, shows these two names and that’s down to the work of Neal Adams. That says that as well as a good artist, he was a good man and my condolences are with his family and friends, who have lost him. The comic fans amongst us, we have a massive body of work to still enjoy. From an excellent run on the Silver Age X-Men, to his decades spanning work on Batman to the dozens of other projects and hundreds of pages and covers that were all great works of art, he has left a legacy that we can all enjoy and will keep going.

I could ramble more, but others have said more and said it better, but I just wanted to mark this sad occasion and remember the great stories that this man was a part of.

My personal favourites of his work was the hard-travelling heroes era of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, what about yours internet people?