Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Walking Dead 83 and 84 **SPOILERS**

It's been a while since my last ramble, and I'm sure you're totally interested to know what I've been up to, if not, feel free to skip ahead a bit to see some spoilery rambling about “The Walking Dead”.

I have actually been working on more rambling, there are a couple of half-finished rants that just kind of got away from me. Maybe I'll finish them, maybe not. Since this is really just about me writing every day, whether it's fiction or not, it doesn't totally matter if these ever actually get posted.

That's not to say I have not been writing fiction. While I haven't done any recent work on the Mallville re-write (sorry), I have finished my #TypewriterChallenge story. What was supposed to be a little ten page fantasy story ended up being a seventy-four page novelette. Oops.

I am actually quite happy with the first draft of it; it's probably a PG-13 rating (there's one F-bomb, but you can usually get away with one), and short of having the scale of the climax completely change halfway through the scene, it came out quite well. My goal is to get it completely re-written onto the computer by this time next week. What does this mean for you? Nothing really. I still have no idea who I can submit something like it to. It's far too long for any of the podcasts I would love to hear my name on, and I really don't know who else to submit it to.

I know, I know, that's what Google's for.

Of course there's always the Amazon route; might sell a copy or two, who knows?

Anyway, my writing situation is not what this ramble is about, so lets get on to the meat... if a ramble can be said to actually have meat.

It's no secret to anyone who pays any attention to me online that I love zombies; I wrote and posted an entire novel about them after all. It's also not much of a secret that I love “The Walking Dead”, and that goes for both the book and the TV show, but to give you an idea of how much I like TWD, let me elaborate.

When I was working on “Mallville – A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse” I took a break from zombie fiction. There were a few exceptions here and there (I did watch “Diary of the Dead” and “Zombieland” during this time, and play a little “Left 4 Dead”, but those are infecteds, not really zombies), but for the most part I did not read zombie books or go out of my way to see zombie movies. The reason I did this was because I did not want to accidentally steal something from another work without realizing it, and because I did not want to see something I had written, or planned on writing, used by someone else (It annoyed me to no end when I watched “Dead & Breakfast” later on and discovered it took place in a town called Lovelock), which might discourage me from leaving it in the story.

There was one absolute exception to this undead fast however, and that was “The Walking Dead”. I've read a number of zombie based comics over the years including the fairly hit or miss “Zombie World”, the routinely awful on-again, off-again “Night of the Living Dead” (and it's weird little off-shoots and re-boots), and “Marvel Zombies” which has gone downhill sharply after the end of the “Army of Darkness” crossover, but TWD is easily the best. I usually read my comics in alphabetical order, but TWD always goes to the top of the stack, and I was not about to let myself get a year or two behind on it just because I was afraid of copying it (and to my credit, I don't think I did copy any of it)

So we're clear on one point now, and that's that I like TWD. I am however fairly unreliable about picking up my saver at the comic shop on a regular basis, so it may sometimes have two or three months worth of books in it, but as I said, TWD always goes right to the top of the stack.

Last Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, so, Osaka in tow (so we can get more of the free books), I went to A-1 bright and early Saturday morning and picked up my two and a half months of comics (I am grateful that they allow me to go so long between pick-ups). In it were issues 83 and 84 of TWD.

Before I continue, I want to make sure that you understand that I am going to be dropping some heavy ***spoilers*** for these two issues here, so if you are not current on this series, then go read them, and then come back and read this. Really, I think if I had known what was going to happen I would not have had the same reaction to it.

Osaka wanted to get a coffee (well, I get the coffee, she gets a chai or a vaguely coffee-flavoured sugarbomb), so we went over to It's A Grind, and I read TWD while she read her foody mystery.

Last week, or maybe it was the week before, The Geek Savants talked briefly about issue 83, but without giving much of anything away. Given Rick's final line in issue 82, I figured the surprise with the events of 83 were going to be about Rick doing something cold-blooded to save his son.

Further evidence of this to me is whhat happens when Rick and Carl try to make a run for it through the zombie horde with Jessie and her son, Ron, using the old smear-yourself-in-zombie-guts trick. Unfortunately Ron pisses himself in fear (and hey, who can blame him?), and this smell is seemingly enough to get the zeds' attention.

With Ron a goner, Rick tells Jessie to leave him (after all, he is technically someone else's kid to Rick), but of course she won't. Rick will gladly leave her to die too, but she's holding Carl's hand. Rick fixes this with a quick swing of his trusty hatchet. Cold, yeah? That's not the shocking bit though (although it is fun to note that Rick is now directly responsible for that entire family's death)

Douglas, too much of a coward to take his own life, starts taking potshots at the zombies with a handgun. You can't really call what he is doing aiming so much as just committing suicide by zombie while Rick yells for him to stop firing the gun (it attracts more zeds). It's when the shooting stops that the shocking bit occurs.

So I flip the page and am greeted by a two page spread of Carl's face... with a large chunk of it missing thanks to a shot from Douglas' gun. This is where my jaw drops, and I sit there for a minute just staring at these two pages.

It has been a while since Kirkman has managed to shock me with something in TWD. The last time was the colour back-up in issue 75 (you know, the bit with the superheroes and aliens), although that really doesn't count. The last time he shocked me in continuity was at the end of the Made to Suffer storyline where Lori and Judith (along with half the book's cast) die.

Kirkman's willingness to kill and maim his characters has always impressed me. He never seems to be afraid to do something to even the most central of characters (just look at Rick's stump), but I always thought that Carl was safe as long as the series wasn't ending. Of course Kirkman has stated before that no one is safe, and this is just him proving it once again.

Naturally I went right on and read 84, in which some of the sting of Carl's injury is dulled by the fact that he is apparently going to survive it, but you only get that confirmation after an awesome fight between Rick, Michonne, and the zombie horde (although they do get more help as the fight continues). Of course this battle ends in another nice, if not jaw-dropping, two page spread.

As usually happens whenever a TWD storyline ends in the deaths of a lot of characters (although not on the level of “Made to Suffer”), things start to be set up for the next story, but it is a little different this time. Normally the end of a storyline results in the remaining survivors running to find a new illusion of safety somewhere else, meeting new zombie fodder... er, survivors, and starting the whole cycle over again, but that's not what I read into this.

See, for once Rick has realized that if they really do work together, they can stand against the zeds. The plan sounds like it is going to revolve around getting things back to the way they were, but with a big difference. This time, instead of trying to pretend the world hasn't ended, Rick wants to train everyone to fight. This is a big change for the series; it seems like Rick really wants to make a stand and stake a claim this time.

Of course it will all end in tears, but if you've been reading this series for any length in time.

I'm not only keen to see how Rick tries to organize the community, especially after he very visibly tried to abandon all of them, and left Jessie and Ron to the roamers. I am also interested to see what is left of Carl. Will he still be himself, just with part of his face missing? Will he be a vegetable, little more than a mindless zombie himself? I don't know, but what I do know is that it will be interesting, heart-breaking, and read by me.

That's quite enough rambling for now; this is a lot longer than it should be.

Until you hear from me again, don't trust the darkness.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Something Borrowed

At first, “Something Borrowed”, based on the novel by Emily Giffin, seems like it is just going to be another run of the mill romantic comedy. Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin: “Big Love”) has a crush on Dex (Colin Egglesfield: “All My Children”), a guy she went to law school with, but she has never told him how she feels because she doesn't believe that he could ever feel that way about somone quiet and mousey like her, but that's not the problem. You see, Dex is engaged to Rachel's lifelong best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson: “Bride Wars”), whom she introduced him to in the first place, but that's not the real problem either.

The problem is, that on the night of her thirtieth birthday, Rachel confesses her feelings to Dex, expecting him to just laugh it off, but he doesn't. In fact, he admits that he had the same feelings about her, but thought that it was she who was not interested. So now, with only months until Darcy and Dex are due to get married, he and Rachel must figure out what exists between them while keeping the whole thing a secret from Darcy.

To further complicate things, Darcy keeps trying to pair Rachel up with Dex's neanderthal, manchild of a friend, Marcus (Steve Howey: “Stan Helsing”), who seems to be willing to sleep with anything with a pair of breasts. Then there's Ethan (John Krasinski: “The Office”), who is a mutual friend of Darcy and Rachel, and seems to be almost the personification of Rachel's conscience when he's not busy trying to hide from Claire (Ashley Williams: “Good Morning, Miami”), a woman obsessed with him after a poorly thought out one night stand.

Now what makes this a unique RomCom to me is that fact that the audience is expected to root for a protagonist who is attempting to steal her best friend's fiance. It's not just Rachel who is a bad person though, it's everyone. Darcy is an alcoholic attention-whore, Dex is seriously considering dumping his fiance for Rachel, Marcus is just a sleazeball, and Ethan won't be honest with Claire about his lack of interest in her. If anything, the only character who's not scummy in this film is Claire, who may be a bit of an overbearing nutter, but at least she's honest in her dealings with the other characters.

It's not just the scumminess of the characters that set this film apart from other films in the genre though, it's the attention given to minor characters. Marcus and Ethan, both of whom seem like they should just be minor characters are actually very well fleshed out. I was especially susprised to see Marcus get a couple of scenes where he is allowed to be a little bit more than just a horndog; it's nice to see a character that could easily have been two-dimensional get to be a little genuine, even if it is in a slimey sort of way.

The person who steals a lot of scenes though is Ethan. When he's not busy trying to hide from Claire, or be Jiminy Cricket to Rachel's Pinnochio, he gets to be Captain Snarker. A lot of the movie's funniest lines are delivered by him, as he seems to almost act as a vocalization for whatever is going on in Rachel's mind. Basically amp up Krasinski's character on “The Office” a couple of notches, and you will have a fairly good idea of who Ethan is.

Of course all this time spent on minor characters pads the movie out a bit, and by a bit I mean a lot. The film is almost two hours long, which is a bit much for a pretty light chick flick like this. Usually when a movie is this long, I can think of scenes I would cut out, but that's not the case this time; everything is either too funny to cut, or it's actually important to the plot. In the interest of full disclosure, the screening I attended was not air conditioned, and by the film's end it had to be around ninety degrees in there, so that may have influenced my issues with the length a little.

All in all, this is a fun film, and it stays surprisingly light despite its subject matter, but I could not help but feel a little oogy cheering on a homewrecker. Yes, the film goes out of its way to make Darcy as unlikable as possible without actually making her hateful, but what Rachel and Dex are doing cannot help but feel immoral to me. I still liked their characters, but this is definitely a film where there are no black hats or white hats, just lots and lots of gray hats.

Even though “Something Borrowed” is almost certainly going to get crushed under the heel of “Thor” at the box office, it is a nice alternative for people not into the mullet-wearing hammer-wielder, and you could certainly find a worse alternative out there. If you like your girly RomCom characters to have the morality of the guys from “The Hangover”, and you want a movie that has a number of genuinely funny moments then I would definitely recommend that you check out “Something Borrowed”, just maybe don't take your best friend with you.

“Something Borrowed” will steal your boyfriend in theaters Friday, May 6th.