Heroes and Villains: Star Trek vs Transformers, Blackbird, Netflix

In this installment of Heroes and Villains we’ve got giant robots! Space! Magic! All that plus I’ve cracked the code of the Marvel Netflix shows!

Star Trek vs Transformers #1
John Barber & Mike Johnson(W)
Philip Murphy(A)
IDW Publishing

One of the many things that cements comic books a limitless art form is the crossover. Why wouldn’t the crew of the USS Enterprise meet up with the Autobots and Decepticons? Because comic books, that’s why! 

It makes perfect sense when you think about it.  Star Trek takes place in space, the Transformers are from the planet Cybertron, which, last I checked, was also in space. That’s all the explanation I need. Before anyone even @’s me… Kirk and crew went up against Space Abe Lincoln in an episode of TOS (Season 3, episode 77 “The Savage Curtain”) so clearly nothing is off the table.

The book perfectly captures the look and feel of the G1 Transformers cartoon as well as the Filmation Star Trek cartoon adaptation. It’s amazing how iconic the designs are when they aren’t surrounded by bargain basement animation. It’s a comic that looks as good as you remember the cartoons being! 

Advance Alert!

Blackbird #1
Sam Humphries (W)
Jen Bartel (A)
Image Comics

So. You’ve just discovered that magic is real. That should be pretty cool, right?

Well, instead of “Yer a wizard, Harry!” and getting sent to a fancy prep school for other magic folk, you’re sent back to your distinctly non-magical life. And it sucks. No one believes you including (especially) your own family and your life kind of falls apart from there.

That’s exactly where we find the book’s protagonist Nina in Blackbird #1, ten years after seeing magic and other planes of existence she’s barely getting by as a bartender and couch surfing at her disbelieving sister’s place. As far as set ups go, it’s a great one and the audience doesn’t have to wait to long for magic to crop up again like it always does.

The art and coloring in this book by Jen Bartel and Nayoung Wilson is absolutely gorgeous, warm, and vibrant. I don’t want to be all like, “The colors, man! THE COLORS.” but the work in the book makes the traditional superhero four-color fare look boring by comparison.

Netflix

This past weekend I finally finished watching the second season of Marvel’s Iron Fist and it sure was a Marvel Netflix show! I don’t want to come off like I’m shitting on the show (there’s been plenty of that on other websites) as I found it wholly acceptable as a form of entertainment when I wasn’t trying to unlock another achievement in Spider-Man for PS4.

The Marvel Netflix shows inhabit a grimy sub-universe neatly tucked into the MCU. It’s a world that’s post the first Avengers movie but still pre-Infinity War (they couldn’t really explain half the cast of characters disappearing without a whole lot of messy exposition). The Avengers exist but they’re off doing something slightly higher budget just off-camera.

When the first season of Daredevil arrived a few years back it was a revelation. It was BETTER than the previous film adaptation of the property (not hard), more mature than the maturest Marvel movie (lots of swears, no F-bombs, but maybe the side of a boob), and OH MY GOD WAS IT VIOLENT. It was kind of a genius move by Marvel to put all of this stuff that admittedly appeals to a more niche audience safely away from their golden goose film properties and broadcast TV.

Daredevil begat  Jessica Jones, which begat Luke Cage, which begat Iron Fist, which begat The Punisher. Then most of them met up in The Defenders and saved New York from ninjas or something. Amen.

After consuming all of the shows and their second seasons I started to see a pattern which I’ll share with you now. Structurally the shows all follow the same pattern each season to the point where you could replace the character names with PROTAGONIST  and ANTAGONIST and be left with the same narrative flow. 

Up until the second season of Iron Fist, all of the Marvel Netflix shows were hardwired for thirteen episodes whether they liked it or not. Invariably there would be flashback episode, an episode where the hero has been removed from the action, an episode where they form a begrudging alliance with a villain. Then everything would come to a head…in episode 12. That left episode 13 for one final confrontation and the remaining plot threads would be tied up.

Stepping back and looking at the season arcs as whole, I’m seeing the following pattern:

Season 1: Becoming A Hero

Season 2: The Hero Brought Low

Season 3: The Hero Redeemed

Spoiler warning for those of you not caught up on the shows from this point forward

The first season of each of the shows has the title characters coming into their own and coming to terms with their abilities. The second season has the characters at the top of their game, only to be dealt a crippling blow (Matt Murdock loses Elektra, Jessica Jones loses her mother and best friend, Luke Cage loses Claire and essentially becomes the “bad guy” and Danny Rand loses the Iron Fist). The second seasons were particularly rough for me because both Jessica Jones and  Luke Cage had wholly unique first seasons with interesting stories being told only to be followed up by a sophomore slump.

The season 3 is pure speculation on my part but I feel pretty confident about it based on the teaser for the next season of Daredevil. It seems like there’s going to be a redemption arc in store for Matt Murdock as he is picking up where The Defenders left him (missing, presumed dead) and the third seasons of the other shows will no doubt feature his pals getting their respective grooves back as well.

Now, I’m up against a deadline here or I’d show you my full conspiracy theorist board complete with pictures and strings linking the narrative similarities of these shows. But with all that said and how…unnecessary some of these shows seem I still get a baseline form of entertainment out of all of them. I just wish they broke from the routine a bit more.

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