SW Graphic Novel Reading Review: Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

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  • Writer/Artist: Jill Thompson
  • Published by: DC Comics
  • Publication Date: September 28, 2016
  • Pages: 128
  • ISBN: 9781401249014, Price: $22.99

Synopsis: 

” WONDER WOMAN: THE TRUE AMAZON is Jill Thompson’s original graphic novel re-imagining of the early years of the Amazon Princess Diana, who would grow up to become Wonder Woman. This fully painted graphic novel is unlike any Wonder Woman tale you have ever read, told as only Eisner Award- winning writer/artist Thompson could. When young Diana has the fawning attention of a nation, she grows spoiled. But a series of tragic events take their toll, and Diana must learn to grow up, take responsibility, and seize her destiny.

Steeped in the mythology of this iconic character’s original conception, WONDER WOMAN: THE TRUE AMAZON is designed to appeal to a wide range of readers. It’s a fresh, stand-alone interpretation of the most famous and iconic female superhero of all time and the fulfillment of a dream project by one of contemporary comics’ most acclaimed creators.”

A Look Over (spoilers):

Jill Thompson’s spin on the Wonder Woman origin was a pleasant, more in-depth take; surrounded by original imagery and unforgettable plot devices. Through out the 128-page graphic novel, the reader follows the journey of how Princess Diana of Themyscira became the heroine we know and love today.

Reading much like an ancient text describing the mythology of a culture, Thompson begins the tale from the very beginning, describing the Amazonians, their war efforts and arrival on the island of Themyscira. Found to be rather fitting regarding the subject matter, the execution of artistic and writing style combine beautifully to create a fitting epic in time for Wonder Woman’s current 75th Anniversary.

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Throughout the in-depth description of the young heroine and her coming of age, I felt put off by some of the details of focus in her life. Much like all other children never being told ‘no’ through out their aging, Diana exhibits all negative traits that go along with it, creating a very conceited and boastful younger woman determined to torment those who cared for her. While it is a very realistic and human take on the heroine, adding such faults for the given amount of time that it was focused on gave a new feeling to her, one that was enjoyable at first.

As the story progresses, the author’s intention through this aspect is made clear, the negative traits regarding Diana becoming an obstacle when it comes to winning over the only Amazonian not automatically giving her the same unconditional love the others do. This quest for love becomes her main motive in life, all in attempt to win over her with the respect that goes along with it; ultimately driving her to become the Wonder Woman we know.

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Personal Thoughts: 

Despite the small criticism, I have little complaints regarding Thompson’s take on the origin story. Wonder Woman: The True Amazon is a refreshing, colourful look at a daunting and well-known character.

The art style is pleasing to the eye, the colours and overall drawing style were used in providing a well fitting universe surrounding the narrative. Such textures aided the fantasy of the land, giving depth and emotion to the setting alone. I feel that watercolour in comics is a highly underappreciated form. when used correctly, the imagery is stunning, the contrasts and motions holding their own when coupled with the natural textures and compositions of the medium. Since it is not used too commonly in comics, I welcome every instance of it; finding myself drawn to its beauty.

I easily recommend this novel, the beauty of it almost too much to describe. Upon flipping through the pages, I felt myself unable to let go, sucked into the origin in a way that I had not felt before. Thompson broke down Wonder Woman’s character in a way, easier to digest than the previously wide open gaps in her storyline while leaving mystery to her as a whole. The interaction between characters, the subtle drives and motives coupled with a powerful and life changing turn around provides the reader with a coming of age telling that is not easy to forget. Coupled with the beautiful artwork and stunning use of watercolour, Wonder Woman: The True Amazonian is unforgettable.

From the Page to Real Life: 

In recent news, Wonder Woman has given the temporary title as honorary ambassador to the UN in a rather controversial move. In the 75 years of her creation, this heroine has stood for strength, power, liberty, and freedom; all idealistic traits for any leader. From the beginning, Wonder Woman stood for an archetype of females not too heavily seen in media, especially in comics and cinema where the Hero’s Journey trope is regularly used. Since her first appearance in All Star Comics #8 in 1941, Diana has exemplified a different type of woman, providing a sense of strength and ability.

Described in the 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston illustrates his intent through this choice…

“Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” 

By placing Wonder Woman as temporary ambassador, the idealistic qualities that surround her are exemplified through the position, providing insight on the grounds of a capable, strategic, and powerful woman. This choice became rather controversial once members of the UN staff began to protest, requesting reconsideration on the grounds of the cultural insensitivity and sexual objectivity surrounding her. Instead, they suggested the placement of a real woman in that position, still holding all of the idealistic traits Wonder Woman stands for. Personally, I see no harm in the current choice as long as it is temporary. After 75 years, recognition of impact this heroine has had on the world is a nice way to end 2016 with the milestone of her creation.

-Katherine A

As a young girl, I grew up with little to no connection to the universe of comics. Raised by two parents who despised fiction, fantasy, and any world that was not the one we lived in, my sights were very narrow regarding what I was allowed to take in. I had known of the superheros and epic tales through the childhood games of the peers that surrounded me, my interests always being there in a way that could no easily connect. Growing up and gaining my own independence, I have been allowed to find my own interests, doing now what my parents had never allowed me to do. Through this, I was able to explore forms of media such as cartoons, comics, and the genre of sci-fi as a whole. In a way, I am trying to take back my childhood and remake it in a way that was never allowed.

 

A Stranger Look towards Black Mirror: Season Three

  • Created by: Charlie Brooker
  • Executive Producers: Charlie Brooker and Annibel Jones
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Satire
  • Production Company: Zeppotron
  • Distributor:  Endemol UK
  • Time: 43 to 75 minutes

Synopsis:

“A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.”

The current series sits at two seasons adding up to a total of six episodes and a Holiday special. A third season will première on October 21, 2016.

A look back (Spoilers)

Having been described as a modern-day take on Twilight Zone, Black Mirror presents a new storyline coupled with new characters every episode, all presenting the theme of technology and postmodern life. Despite the role of technology so heavily driving the plot, it is not an overpowering presence; allowing it to frame the progression, and not lead it. Black Mirror features plot progression through interaction, not focusing mainly on plot devices. This way, the events seem more real, and relatable than a typically jam-packed action plot of the typical American sci-fi.

Illustrated through a new plot every episode, Black Mirror takes a psychological approach to the topic at hand, allowing the viewer into the mind and thought process of the characters in question. It allows a deeper connection and understanding, granting more relatability to the character than through thoughts and actions alone.

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Dark, emotional, intriguing, and mysterious, this show leaves the viewer questioning almost to the end about what will happen. Through out each episode, I analyzed the plot and created predictions, expecting the storyline to follow accordingly; but every single time, I was wrong. Following the plot, the change is so smooth that the initial hitting factor is not out there and ridiculous but slow enough to a real and understandable shock.

Much like The Twilight Zone, the viewer delves into a fully developed and thriving world, left to observe and create conclusions based on what is in front of them. This world, much like our own, has distinct differences and an order that which all characters follow accordingly. From rice-sized memory recording chips to the ability to fully block a person in your physical life, each technological advantage frames but does not lead the storyline. In drastic contrast to other sci-fi series of similar nature, the technology does not absorb the narrative. Apart from a few differences, most of the world is recognizable, leaving all other aspects unchanged.

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Through out each episode, the storyline focuses on the characters involved, highlighting their relationships, interests, occupations, mindsets, and overall characteristics to create a personal and intimate understanding of them. In no way is it difficult for the viewers to place themselves in the character’s shoes, looking at the topic at hand through their eyes. I do not believe there was a single character that I could not empathize with, the connection so strong that all motives were understood.

Black Mirror does a wonderful job on manipulating viewer emotions, not only through that deep connection but through setting. The series is no stranger to using lighting or music to its advantage. In the second episode of season one, one of the main characters uses a song for an audition, ultimately disappearing and never being seen again. To hear those lyrics being sung five episodes later brought back those initial emotions, flooding me the sorrow and fondness I had initially felt.

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Personal Thoughts (Spoilers): 

Black Mirror can easily be described as one of my new favorite shows. Upon watching the first and second episode, I fell in love with the characters, storyline, and general theme coupling its execution; all in all creating an experience that I had not witnessed with any other show. Black Mirror prides itself on taking the topic at hand and breaking it down into smaller segments, covering each part in such a way that even the tiniest details are shown in depth.

Through out the six episodes and holiday special of season one and two, my favorite episodes would have to be episode one and two of season one. The thought and emotion put into these plots really grabbed me, leaving my eyes glued to the screen until the very end. With the goal of grabbing and pulling a viewer and their interest in, I would hands down say that Charlie Brooker did a wonderful job.

Episode one, The National Anthem, presented many different takes on one situation: the kidnapping and holding of Princess Susannah, the Duchess of Beaumont. Through out the narrative, the situation highlights the lack of privacy and opens conflict in a modern world. In 12 hours, news had spread from a youtube video left up for seven minutes, to a global knowledge. With the kidnappers making the ransom video publicly known, it allows the information to be open to anyone, not allowing the politicians to keep it hidden and discreet. Par the request of the kidnappers, the Prime Minister must perform unsavory actions with a pig, promising the Duchess’s safe return if all conditions are appropriately met. On top of the struggle to save Princess Susannah, a moral and emotional dilemma is added to the mixture by means of the Prime Minister.

To have such a curious and far fetched idea be the first episode of a new series, the viewer cannot help but be drawn in from the questions that surrounds the topic. How will they attempt a safe return? What steps does the government take to go around such a vulgar demand? To what further extent do the kidnappers go to ensure they get their demands met? And finally, what is the ultimate decision of the Prime Minister?

Upcoming: 

As of late 2015, the movie streaming company Netflix has now commissioned the creator for a third season, originally consisting of 12 episodes. Currently, Black Mirror is set for its Season Three of six episodes. Perhaps a fourth will follow with the same amount will follow.

Thoughts for Season Three:

Based on the trailer alone, I do have high hopes for this season, wishing that it will fit those shoes season one and two had filled. The presence of technology in everyday relations seems to flow over, but the sci-fi aspects and societal changes appear to be one of the ultimate differences. Whereas the original allowed the world and its holdings to remain unchanged, the snip-it suggests that everything has changed following the advances of technology. The tone and drama are still there, themes appearing to highlight smaller aspects of a larger problem.

Initially, I was very excited for a third season. The two previous captured me, holding my attention tightly and not letting go until it was over and there was no more. In short, I wanted more. According to my personal bias, I am always against sequels, feeling that the original fit the picture the best; but in this instance, that bias was completely thrown away. Following the brevity of the past two seasons, I felt that a third one would fit along perfectly. To now hear that this third season’s creation is through a separate vendor, I find myself uneasy.

While Netflix has done a wondrous job with titles in the past, I fear that it will not have the same tone and success as the original did at captivating an audience. I fear that while it will hold the same name, the emotion and message will be lacking now that the episodes are not so far, far, and artfully crafted. It is a commissioned work, however, so it can be assumed that the same themes and aspects that we all know and love about the original will carry over.

At the end of the day, I hope for the best. Just like all other fans, I await anxiously for another installment.

 

-Katherine A 

A Stranger Look at 4 new Young Adult Fiction novels

Young Adult fiction has always been a genre where shift is a constant. Every few years or so, the topic at hand shifts from one to another; from paranormal romance to the dystopian society that every female protagonist had to combat. These trends domineer the market, saturating the shelves with a new popular theme that seems to dictate whatever appears on them, trumping all original ideas and creativity along the way.

A Glance at Today’s Market – 

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Barnes and Noble’s website put out an interesting list; “The Best Young Adult Books of 2016 So Far“, highlighting 14 new promising new novels. I have strong thought on four books listed there…

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And I Darken by Kiersten White

Overview:

This vividly rendered novel reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters and a fearsome heroine. Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN, Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING, and Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES won’t want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in a trilogy. NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets. Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion. But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Ultimately described as ‘What if Vlad Tepes, the historical inspiration for Dracula, had actually been a fearsome and brilliant teenage girl?’ (Publishers Weekly), the book describes the tale of a woman doomed either to be married to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire or to be executed for her father’s mistakes.  White plays heavily upon the presence of historical figures to highlight a gender-based commentary, geopolitical relations, and a religious conflict through a conversion in this crafted world.

This novel is no different than other typical modern-day young adult books with the usual tropes involved. Among the text, love-triangles and wrongful romances are ever present, even with characters who are described as ‘brutal and ruthless’. It plays into the lack of creativity that more modern novels suffer from; new ideas nowhere to be found. While the concept of rewriting history from a different point of view is no modern concept, it seems exhausted when used in a way where the only big change is the historical figure’s gender; using it as a plot point for romance.  In the end based on description alone, I would not agree with that four-star rating from BN.

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The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Overview: 

As the daughter of a time traveler, Nix has spent sixteen years sweeping across the globe and through the centuries aboard her father’s ship. Modern-day New York City, nineteenth-century Hawaii, other lands seen only in myth and legend—Nix has been to them all. But when her father gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. Rae Carson meets Outlander in this epic debut fantasy. If there is a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place and any time. But now that he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, the year before Nix’s mother died in childbirth—Nix’s life, her entire existence, is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a witty modern sensibility into a magical journey that will captivate fans of Sabaa Tahir and Leigh Bardugo.

Just by reading the description alone, I feel that the novel has the potential to be wonderful and interesting. It has a ‘time travel with exceptions’ approach to sci-fi, providing a more intriguing and structured aspect in comparison to free-form free-world travel. Heilig provides a sense of exploration that is non-linear, allowing aspects of the world to change in an instant as they had over time, providing myths, legends, and lore along the way.  Upon reading the description, it appears that the romance between the protagonist and a crew member is pushed to the side; something that is not seen too often in more modern Young Adult literature. In the end, I find that this novel is a step in the right direction when looking at the industry as a whole.

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The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Overview:

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Premiering as Book IV in the Raven Cycle series, The Raven King tells of a magic-lacking girl living among a house of psychics, giving a life warning to that with her first kiss, death will come to who she loves the most. Leading up to this book in the series, the main character has interacted with three Raven Boys, an honest and fearless Ronan, a self-sacrificing Adam, and a hardworking and studious Gasey, ultimately aiding the protagonist on a dangerous quest. Upon interacting with these boys, the main character begins to question whether or not she actually believes in true love, finding that each holding their own charm and characteristics.

The Raven King is yet another example of young adult fiction playing importance into the romantic aspect of a plot more so than a plot itself. With the world built around it, I feel that there is more that the author could do with it all; highlighting different aspects of the character, her abilities, and struggles along the way through this dangerous quest. A setup does not need to be the defining plot trait of the novel, especially a four-part series. It is not something that I would necessarily read but does fit the love-stricken agenda of an average teen girl.

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Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse

The novel approaches itself from six different aspects, holding the viewpoints of six different main characters, describing how the world ended itself. In short, it is described as Cloud Atlas, but for teenagers.

Overview:

Five teens, five futures: Dylan develops a sixth sense that allows him to glimpse another world. Ten years from now, Brixney must get more hits on her social media feed or risk being stuck in a debtors’ colony. Thirty years from now, Epony scrubs her entire online profile from the web and goes “High-Concept.” Sixty years from now, Reef struggles to survive in a city turned virtual game board. And more than one hundred years from now, Quinn uncovers the alarming secret that links them all. These are stories about a world that is destroying itself, and about the alternate world that might be its savior. Unless it’s just the opposite.

To view the world in six different ways, all characters pinning exactly what caused the destruction of the world or society is a rather interesting topic. It gives light to what exactly those characters are like, glimpsing into their thought process and characteristics in a deeper way than speech and actions could. Although I feel that it could be narrowed down for a more personal and in-depth tone to the story, there is nothing inherently bad with looking at many different situations and trying to broadly link them. Peevyhouse provides an intriguing story line, questioning a commonality to a world’s demise and suggesting a backup once it happens.

Thoughts Overall – 

Despite themes from years past still being present in more modern Young Adult fiction, this is not inherently a bad thing. Plots seem to be stepping away from strict tropes and guidelines and exploring ideas and worlds as best they can. In the end, I have hope for the future. While a large majority of novels on the list are not books I would personally read, they touch basis on a much larger audience. They provide the sense of exploration, strength, questions and in the end, answers. Much like novels of years past, the themes are shifting and narratives follow along with it. In a world where no idea is original, I feel that the strides made are effective enough to induce change to the strict “Young Adult” guidelines.

-Katherine A

A Stranger Look at today’s big market toy aisle

Throughout the years, toy production has produced many varieties and options for young consumers. Aisles upon aisles greet the welcoming children, providing choices that have not always been there. Through this wide variety, children can find what suits their imagination best. From 0.99 cent Hot Wheels, princess dress up gowns, to a myriad of Star Wars toys, there is something for every child (and adult).

A Young Adult’s Analysis of a Child’s Domain:

While the toy market is always changing, some things will never disappear. Among the shelves, one can find familiar faces, some more welcoming than others. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remains unscathed, the toys only changing to match the animation style. Likewise, Transformers have changed through color differences between the old and new. Following each franchise, extra parts are included with some new toys out there, where such additions play into more imaginative play and scene recreation.

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Following the revamping trend from a nostalgic past, some toys have released with fresh, modern aspects to them. Furbys are now more digitalized, complete with pixellated eyes and antenna on their head to accent the fuzzy exteriors. Introduced in mid-2016, Furby Connect provides more modern aspects to the original Furby of 1998. With features including a Bluetooth connection, an accessible Furby app uses a soundboard enabling speech and playable games using the antenna as a joystick. Another notable feature is the off-switch; a welcoming adaptation. Due to the technological upgrade, the price has subsequently risen to a staggering $100 before tax. In the end, I believe that it is worthwhile to have a more friendly, welcoming face, plush exterior, and that much-needed off switch. 

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For more of a surprising twist, Popples have reentered the market, attempting to resell the idea of a stuffed animal turning into a ball for a new generation. While they do still form a plush ball by dragging the butt over the head and turning the toy inside out, the modern-day Popples are noticeably smaller compared to the older versions. Alongside the size change, the appearance has strayed from that of a Care Bear knock-off, and more towards a stylized rodent. Following typical Popples style, a new show has premiered on the movie streaming site Netflix; creating an ultimate homage to the 1980’s original.

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Also notable and of interest, are the new line of ‘Fashionistas’ Barbie dolls. Released throughout 2016, these fashion dolls come in different shapes and sizes; straying from the typical one model of years past. Sporting characteristics such as tall, petite, short, and curvy, these stylized additions work to promote body inclusion toward a more cookie cutter market. No other lines, doll and action figure included, seem to go out of their way to create different sized and proportioned models; one body shape and type being enough for production purposes.

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Noticeable Differences:

Now, it seems like every marketable movie now has its own toy line. Characters and aspects of the plot that can be remotely marketed, are. From the tiny snowmen that appear in a Disney’s Frozen short, to an homage to the two-minute appearance of Mr. Ray in Finding Dory; nothing seems sacred when in toy production. With each new movie out, a notable section of the toy wall is overrun, often before the film even premieres. Through this, fewer original toys are seen.

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Similarly to the film industry taking over  production, certain toys seem to be taking to the big or small screen. While strolling through the aisle, certain packages are adorn with white and red stickers, reading ‘A Netflix Original Series’ or ‘Watch on YouTube’. Even brands as old as Bratz have bought into the idea of expansion through other forms of media. While this makes sense in a rapidly expanding market, it almost feels like a stab in the back to the old toy industry.

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Despite the vast variety of types of toys, some are becoming more regressive than others. Instead of the individualism and creative aspects promoted by Legos and Play-Doh, more modern packages are sold as sets. These kits aim at the idea of building and creating a specific model, and not allowing children to let their imaginations run wild. Creation is a very large aspect of imaginative play, and structure takes away part of that fun and overall satisfaction with the finalized product.  

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With the holiday season coming up, the shelves will no doubt become overflowing with restocked items. New toys will arrive into the market and saturate advertisements, pressuring parents into finding a gift for their child. With the wide variety, parents have plenty of options, but will have a harder time finding the perfect toy that their kid will enjoy. Oftentimes, adults will have an inkling of what interests their little one, but not a specific notion of what they would prefer. I find that in the end, this leads to frustrated parents and displeased children.

Personal Thoughts:

I do not see any inherent harm additions and changes have to the industry as a whole. Like all other aspects of life, there is room to grow as a collective and individual; providing framework, but not set rules. While the disappearance of original toys without a separate source of media to piggyback off of is noticeable, I have hope for a future with new ideas.  Toys have been successfully marketed in the past, and will be again. These new additions, however, do not necessarily need to be from an entirely new source. Throughout the companies, new additions are being made every day, adding new ideas to existing franchises; ultimately providing something never seen before. While it would be nice to see an entirely original and independent idea enter the market, I would prefer new, creative spin any day.

Katherine A

Growing up in the early 2000’s, I am no stranger to toys and the marketing campaigns used to sell them. As a child, I had plenty littering my floor at all times. With my upbringing, I was given nothing but stereotypical girl toys: Barbies, Bratz, Betty Spaghetti, if it was marketed towards girls, I most likely had it at one point. Despite what I was given, I was always envious of my friends whose parents were less gender specific with their toys, having Hot Wheels, Nerf guns, and Legos. My dream toy was the Lego Hogwarts Castle; a gift my cousin has received. Growing up and gaining my own independence, I have been allowed to find my own interests, doing now what my parents had never allowed me to do. Through this, I was able to explore forms of media such as cartoons, comics, and the genre of sci-fi as a whole. In a way, I am trying to take back my childhood and remake it in a way that was never allowed.

A Stranger Look at STRANGER THINGS, Season 1

Recently, the movie streaming company Netflix has expanding their horizons by taking the film industry into their own hands by producing original content. These series and movies as a whole have taken off in popularity, creating some of the most loved and watched shows today.

Today’s look will focus their recent series: Stranger Things.

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    • Created by: The Duffer Brothers
    • Executive Producer: The Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen
    • Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Matthew Modine
    • Genre: TV Shows, TV Sci-Fi and Fantasy
    • Production: 21 Laps Entertainment
    • Distributor: Netflix
    • Release Date: July 15th, 2016

Synopsis:

“When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and one strange little girl”

Personal Thoughts (Spoilers): 

Stranger Things provides the viewer a gateway back to November 1983 into the small, fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. Unlike a large majority of dated media, the series does not coin itself on being a 1980’s show. Instead, the viewer drifts through the atmosphere created, transporting themselves back into a middle school and high school environment while following the main protagonists. The main characters, a group of middle school outcasts by the names of Will Byers, Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair, provide an easy and quick relation to not only themselves but the story itself.

After a brief introduction to the main cast of characters through a D&D campaign, the plot begins its launch when Will Byers goes missing; taken by a mysterious, unrecognizable creature. It is through this launch that the understanding of certain characters becomes more noticeable; such as the mother and brother of the missing boy.

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The mother, Joyce Byers, gains easy sympathy upon the sudden loss of her son. Characterized by dedication and love for her son, there is no stop to how hard she will try to get him back. I love that despite how different and weird he is from the rest of the family, Joyce does not try to change a thing, instead embracing his differences. By supporting him and his interests, the mother provides a stable ground for Will to walk on, providing a loving support system. Despite her constant need to work to aid the house and family, she takes time to bond with her son. Despite being in middle school, she got him tickets to see Poltergeist; a movie shows interest in. She knows the password to get into his personal space and uses it, respecting his privacy and authority of the area.

When Will Byers goes missing, her dedication and perseverance kick in. Joyce goes on an emotional roller coaster trying to save him from an unknown force. This high-powered emotion becomes her downfall that when she reaches out to anyone for help, they accuse her of being crazy and distraught. Despite this, she is not stopped. Joyce knows what is right and sticks to it, trying her hardest to bring her son back safe and sound. There is something heartbreaking about a misunderstood and mistrusted mother tearing her house apart, trying to get answers about her missing son.

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The series does a wonderful job of building suspension without reaching cheesy or campy levels. To fit the mysterious tone, the viewer only discovers clues and aspects at the same time as the characters, creating it to be more inclusive and absorbing. This suspension is built through mystery, light and shadows, and tone. Earthy and deep colors are mainly employed, creating a naturally dark ambiance even if the setting takes place in broad daylight.  I love how through the colors and lack thereof, they manage to make strings of Christmas lights look ominous.

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Recently, news has arisen that Stranger Things will return for a second season. Moving on from the original story line, the plot and characters will cycle over as the mysteries of Hawkins, Indiana continue. With season one being such a riveting success, the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, are hoping for a few more seasons to build and expand characters and the lore of the land.

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I do not feel that Stranger Things should get this second season or any more seasons that the producers are hoping for. As a whole, it presents itself as a short series of eight episodes, all pieced together in a fluid and complete story line.  Upon the ending of the last episode, the viewer leaves with a sense of completion; all loose ends wrapped up and accounted for. In no way does that seem like a good or legitimate way to begin up again in the second season. Unless there is a completely new cast following an entirely new story line, the endings of season one would make no sense in comparison to the beginnings of season two. Unfortunately, this is not what the producers are planning.

I feel that this series is much like the Cartoon Network short of Over the Garden Wall. This is mainly due to the short and complete feeling that surrounds both series. The fluidity of the story lives among itself and itself alone, providing no wiggle room for continuation. Given the film industry’s obsession with sequels, this action is no surprise. To have a one-shot series would be a delight, but gaining a season two is definitely not the end of the world. Ultimately, I am looking forward to seeing how the producers can expand upon the world.

Katherine A