Welcome again to We Have Always Lived in the Kraken, a pop culture blog transmitted directly to you from the belly of the beast. Here in the Notes we’ll show you this week’s posting schedule, but first, a little Seafood for Thought.
So why are super heroes so fascinating? This has always been a question worth investigating, but especially as super heroes continue to become ingrained in our culture across all forms of art and media. Super hero movies are the biggest business in Hollywood (perhaps at times to the industry’s detriment). All major networks have in some way gotten into the business of super heroes with multiple networks like The CW, Netflix (to some degree) and even CBS(!) using them to build their brands. Then there are the comics, which are in many ways are more popular now than they have ever been. Super heroes at their core are an escape who allow people to engage in a world where good and evil are clear cut. The real world is not so black and white, so it can be refreshing to experience the world from a simpler perspective. Over the years, however, as the audience for comics has gotten older, the real world’s moral gray areas have started to permeate more and more into super hero stories, leading readers to look to them for not just escapism but real answers. How do super heroes deal with morally ambiguous situations? Are the rigid comic concepts of good and evil flawed ideals? Super heroes have become a way to intellectually and emotionally explore some of the complex issues in the world, a kind of hyperbolic allegorical stage for modern morality plays, the way Westerns used to operate. But super hero archetypes, coming from a medium that may boast a single overall continuity stretching back decades, tend to resist change, even in the face of these new, complex situations, so they put a different spin on the kinds of answers they give. It’s not exactly surprising that super heroes have become so vital to pop culture in the past decade. People have always been attracted to big, bold stories, and super heroes have always been larger-than-life. So the question isn’t, why are super heroes the dominant form of mass media today? The question is, now that they’re here, what do they have to say? All week here at the Kraken we’ll be trying to answer that question by exploring superhero works both new and old.
From the depths of the Kraken, here is what we are bringing you during this super hero themed week.
- Our latest episode of the Life in the Kraken podcast, “A Fractal Pile of Bullshit,” is also the freshest–recorded just after the premieres of blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and season two of Netflix’s Daredevil, the gang gives their thoughts on two of the biggest super hero events of the past few weeks–plus, a discussion of the other super hero event of the year, the box office record-smashing Deadpool. (Also, check the podcast page for new places where you can find all your favorite episodes of Life in the Kraken!)
- Nothing new today. The Kraken’s current to do list is also the name of his favorite band: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. Step one is proving… difficult, in his size.
- Today there’s nothing new, because he’s not the Kraken you deserve, he’s the Kraken you need. Think about that while you check out our archives.
- The Kraken decided to give being a super hero a try, and well, there was a lot of collateral damage. We have a lot of cleaning up to do, so no new content today.
- It’s time for another round of In the Ring! Last time, Atomika and Kyu debated The Big Short; this week, they’re talking super heroes, arguing over whether DC’s characters are inherently less suited to the silver screen than Marvel’s. It’s a wide-ranging, quick-witted discussion between two titans of text. Tune in!
- So, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been quite the divisive movie. So what more could you want than David taking a look at the film for The Anticipated? What’s that you say? Pretty much anything else? Well, you get The Anticipated anyway.
- Super hero week or no super hero week, Baturdays continues apace with more from Batman #2. This second story is a heavy-handed fable, Aesop-style. Read to find out what the Bat and the Bird have to teach us this week.
Catch of the Week:
Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week.
Keskel: I recommend Bokurano, which has finally come to Crunchyroll. It is the logical conclusion of self-sacrificing child giant robot shows, and is a strong contender for one of the darkest animes ever made.
David: I am going to admit, I never that I would say this considering how rocky the pilot was and that it airs on CBS, but I recommend Supergirl. This show has gradually built a solid foundation through its first season, and has showed that a lot of the idealism and true goodness inherent in the Super-family mythos can work on-screen while still being compelling television. Melissa Benoist is fantastic as Supergirl, and this show is a lot of fun, so give it a watch.
Kyu: Out of sheer contrariness for our theme this week, all month I’ll be recommending classic comics that aren’t about super heroes. First up: Neil Gaiman’s magnum opus, the comic masterpiece Sandman. Consisting of 10 volumes (plus some bonus material and a recent prologue), Sandman utterly reimagines an obscure old pulp hero as the enigmatic, powerful Dream, lord of stories, fancy, sleep and myth. Not only does this give Gaiman a platform to weave into his narrative a thousand allusions, references, digressions, and tales-within-tales(-within-tales), it sets the stage for a fascinating and original story about dreams, writing, relationships, death (and Death), gender, myth, family, and change. In its power, detail, skill, and beauty, Sandman will likely never be equaled, and to my mind it stands as one of the ten best works of fantasy in any medium of the 20th century. If you haven’t read it, give it a shot. If you’ve read it, read it again. There’s always something new to find.
That’s it for this week of super hero mayhem. Pay no attention to the Kraken’s grumbling. He’s just annoyed that we recognized him in his “secret identity,” even though he had put on a pair of glasses. Some giant monsters just have a face you can’t forget.