Mar 22, 2019

Deadly Class

Deadly Class (2019), based on the American comic book series, is set in a weird dystopian Reagan-era, gay-free San Francisco.  Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth) lost his parents in a freak accident, was put in an orphanage, and then went on the lam when he was blamed for blowing it up (with the orphans inside).  Seeing potential in him, the mysterious, brutal Master Lin (Benedict Wong) sponsors him for the King's Dominion, a training school for murderers.

The curriculum is rather brutal: in Poisons class, some of the kids actually get poisoned to demonstrate how they work.

Meanwhile Marcus has the usual "poor kid in a snob school" hijinks, including a snarling enemy, a doofus best friend, romancing the Girl (who, of course, finds him "arrogant"), negotiating between feuding gangs,  and avoiding being murdered as part of another student's final exam.

I don't know which made me more nauseous, the extreme violence or the constant girl-on-boy cruising.  These girls are ludicrously horny.  They act like stars in a porn movie, who pounce on any man who comes within 10 feet.

Or the racism.  The school is stratified into rival gangs: the nerds, the preppies, the losers, and various racial minorities displaying their own stereotyped violence (black, Hispanic, and Asian).  Marcus is half-Hispanic, so he doesn't know where he belongs.

I saw a little bit of reflection of heteronormativity in the outcasts, who don't really want to be killers, but were forced into the academy by their parents.  When I was in high school, just a few years before 1986, boys had to pretend to be girl-crazy.  Forget to stare, drool, and moan at the big breasts bouncing by, or to make a statement suggesting lack of interest, and your friends would simply not believe  you.  Your enemies would attack: "Fairy!  Fag!  Girl!"

But it's only a reflection.  The producers envision a world where gay people do not exist.  Two gay characters from the comic books have been erased.  This series is about violence, cliques, and female horniness

1. Benjamin Wadsworth

2. Benedict Wong (right); I don't know who the boyfriend is)

3. Ryan Robbins as Rory, Marcus' first kill, a homeless guy who preys on other homeless guys.

4. Willie (Luke Tennie), Marcus's sidekick, a member of the First World Order gang. a black guy whose girlfriend is a neo-Nazi white supremacist. I guess she just likes him for one thing.

5. Billy (Liam James, left), son of a punk rocker and aspiring murderer.

6. Chico (Michel Duval), the snarling enemy, leader of the Soto Vatos.  His girlfriend Maria kills him and starts dating Marcus.

7. Viktor (Sean Depner), a celebrity at the academy, the son of Joseph Stalin's top assassin (Stalin died in 1953, and this is 1988, so the dates sort of work out).

8. Juan (Juan Grey), a member of Maria's Soto Vatos.

9. Chester "Fuckface" (Tom Stevens), the Big Bad of a series about Big Bads in training.

10. Shabnam (Isaiah Lehtinen, left), portly, gay-coded, and a rich banker's son, three strikes against him, so he tries too hard to make friends.

The Gay Connection of "Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles"

Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles.  An instant New York Times bestseller!  A cross between J. Rowling and Douglas Adams!  The next Harry Potter!

Ok, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite books, and the Harry Potter series isn't bad, either.  I'll give it a try.  Of course, I judge a fantasy novel primarily on gay subtexts: deep, passionate same-sex bonds, or at least a minimum of heterosexual interest.

How much do you want to bet that Ronan gets a girlfriend?

Page 2: Ronan Boyle is a 14 year old intern in the Galway, Ireland garda (police force).

Page 25: He is recruited by the Garda Special Unit, a secret police force dedicated to relations the faerie folk -- leprechauns, trolls, and others,who live in their own world, Tir Na Nog, but like to transfer over from their world to ours to cause mischief.

So far, so good.  No hetero interest, but no same-sex romances, either.

Page 35: Ronan is a big fan of Dame Judy Dench, and when stressed, imagines conversations with her.  The actress is 84 years old, so it's probably not a hetero-romantic thing.

Page 51: His parents are in prison after being framed for the theft of a  4,000 year old mummified Bog Man, the oldest artifact in ireland, so he's living with his guardian, Dolores, "an absolute delight." No romantic interest mentioned.

Page 60: Ronan arrives at the training academy and meets the other recruits, including Log, a very tall, muscular, thick-limbed girl with the strength of a chimpanzee.  Doesn't sound like romantic interest.

And Dermot, a "dreamboat," who has broad shoulders and a square jaw, and is so tall he can block out the sun. Definite attractiveness. Ronan dreams of their "becoming mates," but he doesn't seem particularly interested in Ronan. Homoerotic interest!

Dermot is not pictured in the book illustrations, so let's imagine him as the top photo.

Page 115: He visits Lord Diamond Dooley, who he believes actually stole the Bog Man and framed his parents.  Not exactly Voldemort, but close.

Page 131: The Malton Hotel has been robbed of 30,000 euros of wine.  The suspect is probably Lovely Liam, a gancanagh-- everyone who sees him falls in love with him.

In the original folklore, the gancanagh is a male fairy who seduces only women.  Let's hope that "everyone" here is inclusive, men and women both.

Page 145: Ronan and Captain De Valera, must go to Tir Na Nog to investigate. Ronan respects her, but there is no heterosexual interest implied.

So far, so good -- inclusivity and no heterosexual interest.  But it seems that everyone important in Ronan's life is female: his guardian, Log, the Captain, even his police dog partner.

Page 156: The Bridge of Riddles is just the way into the faerie town of Nogbottom.  It provides a brief setback  -- not nearly worth naming the book after.  Someone is trying to emulate Harry Potter "and the Chamber of Secrets" or "the Prisoner of Azkaban."

Page 188: Ronan keeps his eyes averted, but both the Captain and a male troll get a glimpse of Lovely Liam and fall in love with him.

Score!  An inclusive love spell!

Page 220: While transferring the prisoners to Dublin, Log wants to take time out to visit the wax museum.  She wants to see the statue of Liam Neeson, whom she finds hot. Ronan states that he is open to the idea of "meeting a wax Liam Neeson," but would would prefer a wax Judi Dench. For that he would have to go to London, a trip he has planned a thousand times.

Page 237: They begin the next case, tracking down harpies in County Wexford.  There's a fight, and Ronan sees something that will propel the plot into the next book of the series.

Page 245: A male victim says "When this is all over, I'd like to take you to dinner." Ronan isn't interested  because the proposed dinner will be an an awful restaurant, but he says "Brilliant!  Sounds like fun!"

Brilliant!   This is an adult asking a 14-year old to dinner, so doubtless he has no romantic intent.  But it still follows the conventions of a romantic date request.

I wonder if the author is gay.  I look him up online: Thomas R. Lennon, Lt. Dangle on Reno 911!  Heterosexual.

Page 280:  We're almost done. Only a few pages left, and we'll be home free.  Ronan is cursed during the fight, and is forced to relive his most embarrassing memory over and over.  Which is:

Page 281: Last year his guardian, who thought he should get a girlfriend before high school, set him up on a blind date with a "pretty girl" named Bridget.  They were skating, and he was tryingt to impress her by showing off, and...he fell, splitting his pants.

Damn.  Mr. Lennon waited to the very end to heterosexualize the boy!

Although it was a set-up date, so maybe Ronan wasn't really interested...but he was trying to impress her, and he did say that she was "pretty"....

Page 286: The end.

How much do you want to bet that in the next book in the series, Ronan gets a girlfriend?

See also: Thomas Lennon: From Dangle to Felix.

Mar 20, 2019

The Top 10 Teen Titans

Remember the Teen Titans of 1960s DC comics, pushing together various DC teen sidekicks, including Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, Robin and Superboy (he's actually the teenager version of today's Superman, who is much older then Robin, so...oh, just go with it).

Turns out they've been doing the comic book store circuit ever since, with many changed characters, changed premises, and changed titles: The New Teen Titans, Team TitansTitans, and finally The New 52, which appears in issues of Teen Titans, Titans Hunt, and Ravagers.

Yeah, that's why I don't read DC Comics.  Who wants to read a hundred issues of a dozen titles to get the story?

Forging a tv series out of such a complicated storyis risky business (really, who in the real world has ever heard of any teen sidekick except Robin?).  It was announced in 2014, went through the ranks of acceptance and rejection, and finally premiered on the DC Universe network in October 2018 with an 11-episode first season.  Most of the Titans are young adults, with some new teens added.

According to rumor, in Season 2 they are planning to introduce a gay Titan.  Bets were on Bunker, canonically gay in the 2012-2013 comic book series. But they have just cast Joe Wilson as Jericho, who has a long backstory of closeting: he was originally meant to be gay in the comics, but the authors changed him to straight, but in Rebirth he was bisexual, and...

I'm getting a headache.  Let's just go on to the beefcake:

1.Brenton Thwaites (top photo) as Dick Grayson, the Robin of the comics now retired and working as a detective in Detroit.  No superpowers, but very athletic.

2. Ryan Potter as Gar Logan, one of the early Titans, then a member of the Doom Patrol. He can turn into a tiger, which I imagine is very effective against bad guys with guns.I guess he's like Beastboy.

3. Joshua Orpin as Superboy.  One from an alternate universe.

No beefcake photos of Superboy?  Really?

4. Alan Ritchson as Hawk, a former prizefighter, now a vigilante with his partner Dove.

What's with all the Titans lacking in superpowers?

5. Curran Walters as Jason Todd, the new Robin.  You didn't know that Batman keeps changing them when they die or get too old, did you?

6. Elliott Knight as Don Hall, the deceased younger brother of Hawk, the original Dove.

That's it for the male Titans.  I'm disappointed.  Where's Cyborg?  Kid Flash? Aqualad?   Gnarkk the Caveman?

7. Lester Speight as Clayton Williams, a bouncer in a Detroit nightclub who is good friends with Dick Grayson.

8. Jeff Roop as Thomas Carson, a minor character.

Beefcake seems rather limited, for a series about superheroes.

9. Alain Moussi as Batman (uncredited).

Oh, right, I need 10. about Brooker Muir as the Superboy body double?

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