The Saturday Supplement
Star Wars, Marvel, Sense8 and selkies
Here at RPS, we play a lot of games. You might think that's all we do, given how much time we spend writing about the latest and greatest PC playthings. That's not the case. When we're not playing games or thinking about games, we're often indulging ourselves with the latest and greatest books, films, TV shows, comics and music. Sometimes we even go to the theatre or the pub.
The Saturday Supplement is a new wing of RPS, and it's where we'll gather our thoughts about whatever catches our attention in the wider world of pop (and unpop) culture. Think of it like those glossy magazines you get with the weekend papers. From week to week, you might find our verdict on the latest blockbuster film, a journey through our personal libraries, a paen to a favourite recipe or just about anything else that's tickling at our hivemind.
This week, our verdict on Star Wars: The Force Awakens (with spoilers hidden behind appropriate cover), Graham's thoughts on Sense8 and The Matrix, a brief journey through Alice's reading materials and the beginning of a newcomer's chronological critique of modern Marvel comics.
- First up, Adam, Alec and Pip discuss the ups and downs of The Force Awakens. Does Abrams' film capture the magic of the original trilogy or is it further proof that the franchise is no longer a force to be reckoned with?
- Graham watched Sense8 earlier this year and while he wasn't completely won over, he's been thinking about the differences between the Wachowskis' earlier work on The Matrix and how this compares.
- Adam was a DC kid, raised on a diet of Batman, Superman and The Justice League. After years of ignoring the Big Two and comics in general, he's now embarking on a journey through modern Marvel, to see what sense he can make of it all.
- And from across the border, Alice sends word of a biblio-dilemma.
I was surprised and delighted by how weird some of the background characters are. It’s easy to forget how wild and bizarre Star Wars can be - the cantina scene is probably the most faous microcosmic example of that tendency. But there are so many great things to look at - huge great lumbering pack-animals that are half-robot or full-robot or semi-vehicle prime among them for me. It’s like the stilt-walker scene in Mad Max: Fury Road - colour and noise that rewards your eyes just for being in the same room. I’d forgotten how many of the memorable moments are built around that stuff: characters and species that I remember from childhood that didn’t really play much of a role at all, but stuck in my mind. I think Force Awakens has that.
The Matrix was one of my favourite films as a teenager. I was 14 years-old when it was released and I watched it over and over, enjoying it for the choreographed action and the satisfaction of Neo's arc of empowerment. Watching it again as an adult, I struggle to enjoy it so freely. That self-realisation now sounds to me like self-absorption: everyone else is sleeping, only you and your friends are awake, so put on your leather coat and military boots and kill as many people as it takes to deify yourself.
I wanted to be Batman when I was a kid. When I realised that was an impossible dream because I hadn't been born into a life of extraordinary wealth, I decided that I might as well be Superman instead. The whole alien origin story seemed slightly more probable than the playboy billionaire orphan origin story.
Growing up with an attic full of old DC comics was tough. If I'd been introduced to Marvel at an early stage, I could have taken the sensible step and aspired to be Spidey. Severe arachnophobia might have made the necessary eight-legged encounter extremely distressing but a bite from a radioactive spider seems like an easy ride compared to being orphaned as a baby. That said, Peter Parker isn't doing all that well on the parents and guardians front either.
Lately I'm flicking through all my books as I try to decide whether I do want to make a bold decision like getting all the way down to one book. Owning things is awful, and I've been slowly clearing posessions for years, but books are great. I wouldn't want to have no books, and know which I'd pick if I decided to keep only one, but paring down to less is awfully difficult.
This is not at all helped by having recently picked up books on Scottish buildings, Scottish traveller tales about the devil, and selkies, which are by my bed. If I can get rid of enough possessions, I'm sure I'll find my sealskin coat and be able to return to the sea.
If you want to discuss Star Wars, that's grand, but please don't put spoilers in the first couple of lines if commenting here. They'll show up in the sidebar of the main site. There's an appropriate thread on the forums as well.
If there's anything you'd like us to consider for future columns, let me know and I'll see what we can do. Enjoy the weekend!