Life Unconstructed


It’s been getting “meh” reviews and i wasn’t particularly interested in this series, so I went in with low expectations…but found myself enjoying Iron Fist, even though it is unquestionably the weakest outing of the Netflix/Marvel series.

The good stuff — the supporting characters are interesting and richly-fleshed out. In particular, I found Tom Pelphrey’s Ward Meechum and Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing to be the strongest of the bunch. Madam Gao, a recurring antagonist for Daredevil, is also nicely fleshed out. Finn Jones does a workman-like job with what he has as Danny Rand, the hero, but he’s quickly overshadowed by the more interesting Colleen Wing. The bad guys are also good — from the revenant Harold Meechum, to Gao and her nemesis inside The Hand, Bakuto (played with a nice oiliness by Ramon Rodriguez, who i vaguely remembered from The Wire.)

The “meh”: Where Daredevil used color motifs, lighting, and inspired fight choreography to play up the moral conundrums and physical pain of a vigilante’s life, and Jessica Jones played the noir detective look and feel to accentuate the themes of control and abuse, and Luke Cage used strong color palettes, urban music and fashion to craft a believable Harlem in the middle of the Marvel universe…Iron Fist is pedestrian. The fight scenes are not over the top Hong Kong Action Theater. They’re bland and uninspired. The blocking, the shot lists, the lighting, the use of color are something you would expect out of Law & Order: Superheroes. The other Marvel shows evoke the Miller/Mazzucchelli Daredevil run; Jessica Jones has that tired PI in a dirty world flavor; Luke Cage is decidedly Black America; they’re unique. Iron Fist doesn’t play up the Eastern mysticism, choosing a bland corporate backdrop.

That makes sense in some ways. Rand is a billionaire and heir to a massive company and the board doesn’t want him there. It’s a plot element that definitely should have been explored, especially as it is the motivation for the bad guys. BUT… He’s a “living weapon” from the mystical city of K’un L’un out to destroy the Hand. He’s just not dipped in the Eastern mysticism enough, whereas — for instance — Doctor Strange at least did a better job playing to that. The character does meditation and martial arts, sure, but the look of the show isn’t exotic enough to evoke that.

The “bad”: Really, it’s the focus of the show on the Meachum’s corporate machinations and the lack of fight scenes that flow and are elegant. The credit sequence should have informed the look of the fights, with loads of sweeping movement. Jones moves well, and the choreography is accurate to some of the forms used, but it’s not chop-sockey enough, and I suspect that’s what the fans wanted.

So is it worth watching? Yes. It’s a decent addition to the Netflix/Marvel catalogue, but don’t expect anything ground breaking. Substance-wise, it’s got a lot of good character development, especially in the supporting cast, and it breaks the 3rd Act Slump that all Marvel shows seem to have; unlike the others, it doesn’t have that episode 9-11 drag. But stylistically it’s weak tea.

So Black Campbell Entertainment has been up and running since August, but we didn’t start putting out product until October. In the last two months, we’ve put out three adventure scenarios (or modules for you old timers, like me…) for a total of six booklets.

I really wasn’t expecting a lot of traction. I’ve self-published before, so I’m aware of how slow the dribble of royalties can be for an e-book. And role playing games are a niche market of publishing. Add to that, I’m doing stuff for 1930s pulp games (although Victorian stuff is coming!), which is even more niche….a niche of a niche. So a cubbyhole in the publishing industry.

That said, we’re already exceeding my expectations on sales.

So I just wanted to personally thank everyone who worked hard on these books — Jim Sorenson, Matthew Bohnhoff, and Bill Forster, not to mention Susan Rhymer, who puts up with this and has lent her PDF wizardry to get the file sizes down.

Even more so, I want to thank anyone reading this who bought a copy of White Ape of the Congo, or Zugspitze Maneuver (which is suddenly selling very well, particularly for Fate), or Murder on the Hindenburg.

Lastly, I also want to thank those folks who have been reading the blog — whether it’s only a few posts, or those who have been regularly reading over the last eight or so years since it went up. I really, truly appreciate it.

Scott Rhymer

Here’s a cool little short out of Argentina…

Killer robots? Check. Marines in trouble? Check. Game over, man! Game over! Check

’80s style music? Check. Sci-fi setting with mythological callbacks? Check. Disney-ish computer animation? Check.

It’s like watching a newer version of a Heavy Metal story:

Why the #@!! am I not watching this now?

A little something from the Pixar gang:

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