These days, there’s just too much media to consume.
Combine the accumulation of all the great things created in human history, and you already have too much to get to in one lifetime. Add to that the fact that amazing stuff is currently being made at a pace that is impossible to keep up with, and you have a recipe for despair.
The last thing you need is some asshole giving you a list of more things you should check out.
In that spirit, here is a list of five things you should check out.
None of these things are obscure, but all of them seem underappreciated based on my limited line of sight.
1. Power Man and Iron Fist by David F. Walker
I haven’t watched it yet, but by most accounts, Netflix’s Iron Fist was underwhelming at best. Many people responded more favorably to Luke Cage, but while I enjoyed the character on Jessica Jones, the standalone show fell really flat for me.
Fortunately, I don’t need Netflix if I want a great ongoing Power Man and Iron Fist story, because David F. Walker has been absolutely killing it since relaunching the title for Marvel early last year.
Power Man and Iron Fist is witty, playful, socially aware, smart, and above all, really fun.
Walker is able to embrace and transcend the blaxploitation roots of the title in ways that work on every level.
Also, did I mention it’s really fun? The style? The art? The characterization? Fun, fun, and fun.
Power Man and Iron Fist does just about everything the Luke Cage series tried — and in my opinion failed — to do as far as social commentary goes, but without ever taking itself very seriously.
I want David F. Walker to write all of the things.
Will the Heroes for Hire ride again? Can Danny and Luke get their old mojo back in order to stop an entertaining rogue’s gallery from tearing Harlem apart? Will someone be able to use the Supersoul Stone, and artifacts like it, to become the darkly powerful Grandmaster of Street Magic? You’ll have to read and find out.
2. A Band Called Death
I finally got around to watching this movie. You should finally get around to watching it, too.
I expected it to be entertaining, appealing to my music and record loving heart. And it was. I had a great time watching the story of Death and the strange series of events that led to the band being discovered 34 years after recording their only album.
What I didn’t expect was the emotional power of the film’s third act as it touches on the beauty of family and the bittersweet nature of hope.
Shut up, I’m not crying. You’re crying.
3. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
But the book by Diana Wynne Jones? Now, that’s a different story. Literally, actually. It’s a very different story than the one Miyazaki told — his changes were reportedly made, at least in part, to create a film in response to the American war in Iraq.
Obviously I won’t go into detail about specific differences, because that would ruin all the fun for any of you who decide to read it. What I will say is that both stories are great, so it isn’t hard to love each of them.
Jones immediately shot up my list of authors whose work I want to devour entirely, in much the same way that a fire demon eats bacon. Neil Gaiman’s love for Jones already had her on my list of authors to check out, but Howl’s Moving Castle plants her firmly in the ‘Give Me More’ category. Her writing is funny, wise, and layered. Her narrative voice is bright and playful, and the way she limits the reader’s field of vision based on Sophie’s perspective — even though she isn’t the narrator — is done with heaping portions of humor and insight.
This is a quick read, and well worth your time. Just try not to drag the movie into it. Let each stand in conversation with the other, not opposition.
4. Mo’ Meta Blues by ?uestlove
Seeing The Roots live is one of the greatest music experiences currently available in this world. The two Roots shows we’ve seen were infectiously joyful, wildly fun three-hour-long homages to music and life, with Questlove as the mad genius ringleader [[I read they’ve since tragically retired the three-hour-long so-called ‘Springsteen shows.’]] This book felt a lot like the text manifestation of those shows. I loved it.
One of my favorite things is passionate, knowledgable people talking about the things they love most. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more passionate or knowledgable about a given topic than Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson is about music.
I loved learning the story of Questlove, beginning with his parents’ record collection. I loved learning the story of The Roots, beginning with Black Thought’s rivalry with Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men — they all went to the same arts high school in Philly. But most of all, I loved the deep, overflowing love Questo has for music and seeing how that passion has shaped his entire life, and American music along with it.
I tell ya, I thank the gods of television that Noah Hawley is making shows.
David Haller thinks he’s crazy, but it turns out he’s actually just a wildly powerful mutant. Then again, maybe he’s crazy.
You may think a television show adapted from the pages of an X-Men comic won’t be to your liking, but if let that keep you from watching Legion you’ll really be missing out.
This show isn’t what people might expect in their knee-jerk assumptions about a show based on a comic. It’s super trippy and lots of fun… I know, I’ve said almost everything in this post so far is fun, it’s just that these things are fun.
Legion is like if Pushing Daisies and Fargo — the show, obviously, because Noah Hawley — had a baby, and then that baby grew up and had a baby with Charles Xavier.
The show is smart and quirky, with unexpected delight and/or creepiness waiting around every corner.
The cast is especially great, with the performances by Aubrey Plaza, Dan Stevens and Jemaine Clement deserving gold stars in my book.
Seriously, don’t let the comic origins put you off if you don’t like comics. You can hate super hero films and still love this show. The show is designed so someone who has never even heard of comic books can jump right in and enjoy it. I know that might be hard to believe coming from a guy who started this installment of five things with a comic book, but it’s true. I promise!