As I mentioned the other day, this year I am going to make a concerted effort to read and watch (and, hopefully, write) more in 2022.  More books.  More comics.  More shows.  More movies.  And every so often, I’ll do capsule write-ups to help you decide what to check out and, perhaps, what to avoid.

WATCHING

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Following her father’s murder, a revenge-driven woman puts her trust in a powerful crime boss — and enters the police force under his direction.

No one does the gangster-theme quite like Korea.  Movies like A Bittersweet Life and The Man from Nowhere rank among my top films off all time while shows like the high-concept, high-adrenaline Bad Guys leaves me to wonder why we can’t – or won’t – make t.v. like this?  Outside of The Sopranos, there are few Western shows that offer the same level of heart, tragedy, depth of character, or genuinely surprising twists and turns.  Although I did guess the big reveal in this series (But, in all fairness, I’m a writer.  That’s what I do.), it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of this smart, well-directed, beautifully-acted series – or prepare me for one major unexpected surprise in the finale.  It’s a tight and compelling episode run that is well worth your time.

READING

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The year is 2100. The lack of trust that characterized the early Internet era is long behind us. Mathematical proof ensures neural implants can’t be hacked, and the Board of Reality Overseers blocks false information from spreading.

When undergraduate Sergei Kraev, who dreams of becoming a professor, is accepted into the Technion’s computer science graduate program, he throws himself into his research project: making it possible for neural implants to transmit information directly to the brain. If he succeeds, he’ll earn a full professorship.

But Sergei falls under the influence of Sunny Kim, the beautiful and charismatic leader of a K-pop dance cult. Sergei believes in Sunny’s good intentions and wants to protect her from critics, leading him to perform a feat of engineering that leaves billions of brains vulnerable to attack.

With the clock ticking towards catastrophe, can Sergei see the truth about Sunny and undo what he’s done?

Okay, let’s get one thing straight right off the  bat.  There is no K-pop dance cult.  It’s dance cult based on Korea.  There is not even the remotest element of K-pop in this novel and, while most may not care, as someone who had my interest piqued for this very reason, it was a bait and switch.  The lack of this potentially kooky/fun (promised) story element aside, this book offers some fascinating world-building as it imagines a future where our lowly internet evolves into a cyberspace that links users via brain implants which offer convenience and comforts…but at what cost?  The set-up is great and fascinating aspects of the future tech off-sets the occasional info-dumps in much the same way most of the grounded, sympathetic characters that people this world outweigh the rather two-dimensional villain – Sunny, the dance-happy cult leader –  at the heart of the novel.  There are also instances where the author seems to be making a political statement about the dangers of misinformation and the need for state censorship which is ironic given that the antagonists of the story hail from the former North Korea.  Overall, a solid read whose futuristic ideas are stronger than its narrative whole.

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Christopher Chance has made a living out of being a human target-a man hired to disguise himself as his client to invite would-be assassins to attempt his murder. He’s had a remarkable career until his latest case protecting Lex Luthor when things go sideways. An assassination attempt Chance didn’t see coming leaves him vulnerable and left trying to solve his own murder…as he has 12 days to discover just who in the DCU hated Luthor enough to want him dead.

It’s D.O.A. DC-style in a limited series that exudes a stylish noir coolness evocative of Brubaker/Phillips but with a splash of retro-fun compliments of Greg Smallwood’s pencils and colors.  I love King’s ability to mine comic-lore – in this case, the old Justice League International – for story, giving new life to B (or lower) tier characters like Guy Gardner, Bosster Gold, and Ice, setting up an engaging mystery, its tragic underpinnings bolstered by flashes of heart and humor.  In most every version of D.O.A. I’ve seen, the protagonist solve the mystery but loses his life in the end.  It will be interesting to see how this version plays out and, while I’d be surprised if Chance doesn’t manage to save the day – and his life – in the end, I’m curious to see if King can pull it off in a way that proves unexpected and narratively satisfying.  Three issues into this 12 issue maxi-series, and I am firmly on board.

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The Earth is all but done. The last remnants of humanity cling to a mountaintop island lost in endless floodwater. The Parliaments of the Green, the Red, and the Rot all agree: it’s time to wipe the slate clean and start the cycle of life over again. And to do so, they’ve united their powers to summon an avatar-one of the most horrific monsters to ever stalk the surface of this forsaken planet…

It feels like a cross between Lovecraft and The Walking Dead with its old gods, gore, and humanity’s last stand but one rooted in the supernatural world of the DC universe as evidenced by not one but two perhaps not-so-surprising cameos at first issue end.  Lemire is one of the most original minds in comics, so I look forward how his take on the Swamp Thing reimagines the character, and subverts the expectations set up by issue #1.  I’m in wait and see mode on this one.

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A bright, shining day in Metropolis is interrupted by a mysterious drone that crash-lands in the city and starts wreaking havoc. This looks like a job for Superman! But where did the metallic menace come from, what is its purpose, and who is Brainiac?

Admission: I’m not a huge Superman fan (I found him kind of dull) and wasn’t as enamored of the 1978 Superman movie (Hated the reverse time ex-deux machine but, in all fairness, I appreciated the first movie a lot more than its corny sequels), but this limited series that embraces the tone of that original film is surprisingly a hell of a lot of fun.  Rich with humor and wonderful character moments, its source material echoes through each issue in the terrific character designs honoring Christopher Reeves, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, and others.  Recommended.

WRITING

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I completed my polish of the Promise of Blood pilot (the adaptation of Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy) and am presently revising and running through the new and improved pitch.  The plan is to start shopping it as soon as Hollywood loses its holiday hangover.

I have a zoom call on Friday to discuss next steps for Fronted, my SF/K-pop series (And I promise there WILL be K-pop in this one).  We’ll be discussing feedback on the pitch deck and pilot from a potential South Korean partner as well as talent attachment (I have some artists in  mind) and next steps.

The story for the second of that two-pilot-deal is fast taking form.  The pilot will be ambitious from a structural POV, but I love the fact that it’s unique and sets up not one or two but three surprises at episode’s end.  Awaiting the official green light on this one.

And while I await word on some other projects, I’m hammering out a beat sheet for that feature script I was planning to write last year, but never got around to.  Maybe 2022 is the year?

6 thoughts on “January 3, 2022: Watching, Reading, Writing!

  1. I am meditating & asking the universe to get you a series and/or other projects going your way. I feel you will have a great year. On Human Target, gotta love Greg Smallwood’s art. He reminds me of Dan Spiegle at little (Space Family Robinson, DNAgents, Crossfire) but more pristine. Always enjoy your vids with Akemi. Happy New Year with love and happiness always in your horizon.

  2. I remember reading a tweet of yours a while back that had something to do with Powder Mage and Anthony Lemke. I don’t suppose he might appear in the cast?
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      1. Needless to say, we’d love to see him (and other Dark Matter alumni) in your future work! Doubtless you’d love to have him, too, if there’s a part that fits and his availability works out.
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