Comics

Above, Not Beyond: The Shade (Collected Edition) (PopMatters Exclusive)

Artist Cully Hamner's visualization of the Shade's life as a retired gentleman in the opening panel of the very first issue of The Shade is the perfect note to begin the traumatic psychic journey that lies ahead for the lead character…

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW

It's a quiet tea between friends. The Shade, the erstwhile Richard Swift, and erstwhile Starman Mikaal Thomas take the October air on the Shade's upper-floor balcony. Below them, the Shade's garden spreads out, behind them the city towers, threatening to swallow the idyll of gentlemanly sedateness. The measured repose, as well the physical balcony, put the Shade above his past, but the towering spires of Opal City certainly seems to suggest the lurking doubt that he may not yet be beyond the consequences of his earlier deeds.

The 12 issues of The Shade chronicle perhaps the last arc of the Shade's character evolution that began in late 1993. The quintessentially English immortal, and erstwhile DC villain finds himself on the trail of a mysterious conspiracy that seem to know more about his former mortal life in Victorian London than anyone rightly should.

Past crimes and past indiscretions are certainly at the heart of what is perhaps the most worthwhile character-driven comicbook in decades. What writer James Robinson achieves is a deep and oftentimes painful vivisection of the dark and heady work Richard Swift undertook after he had his powers gifted to him. The Shade didn't just appear when his powers first manifested, was a core point writer James Robinson made during our recent interview, he was crafted from a number of increasingly darker decisions made Swift over a period of time. And the consequences of those decisions have now begun to take their toll.

But in a secret gentlemanly repose of my own, I will enjoy one thing about this new collected edition--the pure joy of reading the entire story from beginning to end in one sitting.

Please enjoy our exclusive preview of the Shade.

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


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Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

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The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

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6

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

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