Friday, March 17, 2017

Marvel's Iron Fist

© by Gerald So | 5:30 P.M.

As with Marvel's Daredevil, I set premiere day aside to binge-watch Iron Fist on Netflix. Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returns to New York fifteen years after he was presumed to have died in a plane crash over the Himalayas along with his billionaire industrialist father Wendell and mother Heather.

Danny's reappearance dismays his childhood friends Joy and Ward Meachum (Jessica Stroup and Tom Pelphrey respectively), who run Rand Enterprises since the death of their father Harold (David Wenham), Wendell's partner. Disapproving of some of Rand's current practices, Danny makes a play for his rightful share of the company.

Oh, yes, the superhero part: Shortly after Danny's plane crashed, he was taken to the extradimensional city K'un-Lun, where he was raised and trained by its warrior monks, sworn enemies of Marvel's previously-depicted killer cult, The Hand.

Just as Danny takes a while to get his bearings, so does the season. Its similarity to other origin stories (Batman Begins, Iron Man, Arrow) is a quibble compared to its largely unsympathetic, super-wealthy characters. Ward is a self-admitted "asshole" drug addict, but then he has the stress of keeping secret that The Hand brought Harold back from the dead, and Harold's machinations, credited to Ward, have kept Rand profitable if more cutthroat than Danny would like. Joy has soft spots for Danny and Ward but is an otherwise cold, self-made businesswoman.

I most liked and rooted for Danny's chemistry with karate teacher Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), but she also keeps a dark secret.

Iron Fist is fine, but clearly the least edgy of the four series setting up Marvel's The Defenders. Maybe we can hope for better now that the setup is done.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

BUM LUCK by Paul Levine

© by Gerald So | 5:30 p.m.

Cover design:
Cyanotype Book Architects
Following Levine's 2015 novel Bum Rap (the first crossover of his Jake Lassiter and Solomon & Lord legal thriller series), Bum Luck (on sale March 28) finds Jake bent on killing a client he has just cleared of murder.

You see, despite the victory in court, Jake remains convinced the Miami Dolphins' Marcus "Thunder" Thurston killed his wife. Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, as well as Jake's old coroner friend Charlie Riggs, believe Jake's homicidal thoughts are a sign of the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Meanwhile, Jake's firm assigns him to represent the life insurance company in the case of Carla Caruana, a mixed martial arts fighter who committed suicide. Representing Carla's estate, Solomon & Lord.

Jake, a throwback to the last days of smash-mouth football, is an ideal character to voice our collective fears about CTE. While exploring treatment options, he remains at the center of a tense tale that weaves its way to the truth.

Reloading Bullets & Beer

© by Gerald So | 5:30 a.m.

Last week, "Graybeard2003" commented that he had undertaken restoring and possibly updating Mike Loux and Bob Ames's Spenser fansite, Bullets & Beer, as a Wiki.

Before 2015, Bullets & Beer had lain dormant since Bob's work shift changed in 2008 and he lost interest in the site research. In the absence of an official Robert B. Parker website before 2006, Bullets & Beer was the best place for Parker information and fandom. Out of it sprang the first Parker discussion list, Spenser-L.

Nostalgically, I'm glad to see the revival effort, but I wonder how long "Graybeard2003" will be interested in researching the books. A signature feature of the old site was its meticulous annotation of every literary and pop culture reference.

I was studying the Romantic poets in college as I first read the Spenser books, and I enjoyed knowing where Parker got some of his best titles: Mortal Stakes, A Savage Place, The Widening Gyre, Valediction...All these facts are fun to know, but not essential or that important to enjoying the books. And since the official Robert B. Parker website and Facebook page are up to date, fans don't have the same need to look to homegrown resources.

In a similar way, I don't know that anonymous Wiki contributors can capture the feeling of Mike's old site, a virtual Cheers bar for Spenser fans, where everybody knew your name.