September Staff Picks: Perry Bible Fellowship, Kingdom, Nancy Drew, and the Fantastic Four!
Words By F(r)iction Staff
This month, I’ve been getting into Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, which just hit Amazon Prime for viewing with its brilliant mix of absurdist faux-80s sci-fi-horror-British humor. Also, one of my favorite long-running web comics, The Perry Bible Fellowship, continues to offer laugh-out-loud-and-think-deeply work, post after post.
What do you get when you combine a historical political story with a zombie outbreak? Another award-winning Netflix series that you can’t stop thinking about, at least that’s how Kingdom has been for me. I’m often hit or miss when it comes to zombie stories, especially as of late as one post-apocalyptic show after another hits streaming channels. Which is why this series was so captivating to me. It felt like a political drama set in the 1600s that just so happens to be dealing with dead people trying to eat those still left alive. The family conflict and desire for the truth are elevate with the addition of the undead. Not to mention the second season ends on a gripping cliff-hanger that has me eagerly checking news sources for confirmation of a third season.
That being said, Netflix recently released a stand-alone episode, “Ashin of the North,” to satiate viewers and suggest more to come. Depending on who you ask, you could watch this before the series, but there are moments and characters of significance that filter in and out of this episode. And, personally, I think those moments hold much more significance if you understand their importance in the series.
Anyone who knows me is going to roll their eyes when they read this, but I have been obsessed with Nancy Drew for over a year now, especially the brilliant point-and-click PC games from HerInteractive. Mid-pandemic (can we use that as an indication of time now?), I was reminiscing with some friends about huddling around the family computer with our sisters to play as the iconic sleuth, so I dug out some of my old games for nostalgia’s sake. I was surprised at just how much fun they still are. These games are creepy, funny, educational, exciting, and relaxing in equal measure. Since jumping back in, I’ve solved a binary code, uncovered a secret network of underground tunnels, fallen off a cliff (whoops), and played the “Fox and Geese” mini-game way too many times.
And if you’re, like me, have an old laptop that won’t run a lot of PC games, at least listen to the soundtracks on YouTube. The music is perfect background noise for concentration; I listen to the soundtracks on repeat while I’m working and writing to keep me calm and focused. If you’re in the mood for something hauntingly beautiful, do yourself a favor and look up “Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy: Violin” on YouTube. It’s one of my absolute favourites.
But what I love most about these games—and the Nancy Drew character in general—is how they keep teaching girls that they can be smart and bold and resourceful, that they can trust their instincts and follow their interests, that they can be the hero of their own story. If you like puzzles and mysteries, I highly recommend checking out these games—there are over thirty to choose from!
As the Spider-man: No Way Home trailer dropped, I am reminded that Jon Watts, the current Spidey movie franchise holder, is set to tackle the Fantastic Four next for Marvel. Next year is the sixtieth anniversary of Marvel’s First Family. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created the Fantastic Four heralding “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” on issue one in November 1962. The modern Marvel universe rippled out from that comic as it hit newsstands. New readers wishing to tackle the Fantastic Four’s history may be intimidated where to begin with six decades of stories. I don’t recommend starting with Stan and Jack’s 108 initial issues (1-102 including annuals), John Bryne’s epic run, or Mark Waid’s return to core family values and stunning story, but with Tom Scioli’s Fantastic Four: Grand Design.
Marvel’s Grand Design line does retool and replay with the overall continuity of the actual comic book events as they actually played out from issue to issue. What Grand Design does right is introducing old stories from over fifty years ago in the spirit of a hip hop remix, allowing one artist to Spark Notes info from an entire run of a comic with an overarching storyline. Scioli’s art pays tribute to Jack Kirby while holding his own indie style. His panel work is tight yet detailed and Scioli conveys the traditional information without losing his own artistic touches.
Reading Fantastic Four: Grand Design, the reader not only gets the human stories of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), Sue Storm/Richards (The Invisible Girl/Woman), Johnny Storm, (The Human Torch), and Benjamin J. Grimm (The Thing) but how a fateful rocket trip launched comics as we see them on the screen today. We have already been introduced to the Skull, the Kree, Wakanda, and Agatha Harkness just to name a few elements of the Marvel Universe, which came from the Fantastic Four. Tom Scioli’s Fantastic Four: Grand Design shows that the Fantastic Four comic is the missing link to what we have been enjoying in the superhero movie genre and the books they are based on.