Friday, August 5, 2022

Quick Sips 08/05/2022

So voting closes for the Hugo awards on the 11th, and that means there’s less than ten days left to get those ballots in. Of course, I am up in the Fanzine category for Quick Sip Reviews (for the fourth year in a row) and would definitely be honored by any consideration during voting. It’s a little weird, as this might be the last time that QSR will be really eligible, given that it’s most just my weekly hot takes these days. But for seven years it was a source of wide short SFF coverage, and last year was its biggest year to date.

Given historical voting trends, I don’t really expect that QSR will place that highly in the final voting, but whatever the case, it’s been a wild ride. Thanks for coming along for it.

In media, I did watch The Guardians of Justice on Netflix, mostly because I’m a fan of superhero shows and my husband isn’t so it’s something I can watch by myself guilt-free. It’s a striking and ambitious series (at just 7 episodes so also fairly contained) that follows a parody of the Justice League as they grapple with the death of the Superman stand-in Marvelous Man. The main characters are at turns Night Hawk, the Batman stand-in investigating the murder, and Speed, the Flash stand-in bristling under the direction Night Hawk is taking the Guardians.

The series has plenty of twists and turns, operating as a kind of homage to 80s/90s comic books and culture, while mixing humor and some very very serious elements. As I said, it’s ambitious, but for me I’m not sure if it really pulls off what I think it’s trying to. At least, for me, the project as a whole is frustrating in ways that are hard to explain.

On the plus side the style is an interesting blend of live action and animation, which captures a grim and gritty action element full of gore and profanity. Nice. The acting feels very 80s/90s (helped by the pro wrestler as Night Hawk), which was almost a positive until the later twists happened and I don’t think the actor playing Night Hawk could quite pull off some of the needed elements (especially as they related to queerness). And that’s really where the show could have really been great but ended up falling a bit short for me. There’s a surprisingly in depth look at homophobia in comics and culture, and the tragedy of having to repress and deny those elements.

And there is almost, almost something incredibly sharp being said about the way that culture scapegoats, and the way that fascism wins, and the way that even in fighting against fascism people make the decision to repress and eliminate queerness as a concession to hate, as the first negotiation in maintaining “order.” There is a moment where Night Hawk learns the whole truth of the matter, even a truth about himself, and things could have gone differently. Not that the show would need to have ended differently (it’s a deeply cynical ending but one that could still work). It’s that I needed to see more from Hawk in the decision to essentially save the idea of heroism at the expense of real justice. It’s there, but the blunt and abrupt ending where he’s effectively (spoilers) made into a cartoon supervillain rather than a conflicted, self-denying queer is just sigh.

Anyway, I think it’s probably worth checking out and grappling with, though again, it’s very violent and cynical and features deeply unhappy endings for all the queer characters. Still, it surprised me in how much I wanted it to make different decisions, so I mean I was fully invested and engaged.

Otherwise, I just got done reading some nonfiction (Bad Gays) which was a lot of fun and also a lot to think about (synergy bonus with the above I guess). And I’m still very early days in playing Final Fantasy VI. Right now I’m struck comparing the villains and wondering at good RPG villains. I feel like Final Fantasy has some decent ones but also not what I would call the best of them. The gold standard is of course Luca Blight from Suikoden II, and so far I must say Kefka is falling well short. This might be some sort of ruse for now, but the writers unfortunately are pulling a slight queer-coding of him that is doing him no favors, because it’s mixed with a fascist evil-scientist vibe so it’s a big nope in terms of being anything like sympathetic. Blight was just fucking scary, and Kefka so far just isn’t that. But there’s time for that to change.

And that’s it for now. Stay wonderful! Cheers!


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