Sep 20, 2019

"Welcome to Wanderland": Beyond Gay-Inclusive

Welcome to Wanderland, a 4-issue limited series by Jackie Ball and Maddie Gonzalez, is set in a Disney-style theme park that has fallen on hard times.  Middle schooler Bel has practically grown up there, and her older brother/guardian Mike works there as a costumed character, the Princess Lark.

Mike is gay; although his romantic interests are referenced only once, he says things like "I swear to Gaga" and spends most of his scenes in drag.

Thanks to a magic door, Bel finds herself in the real Wanderland, a magical sword-and-sorcery world ruled by the tyrannical Sylvia.  The real Princess Lark, who prefers the kick-ass name Riot, is in exile.

Riot and Bel become buds, and use the magic door to travel between their worlds whenever they want. Mike assumes that they are a couple, but Bel explains that she is not interested in anyone in that way.  Presumably asexual.

But Riot is gay.  She has a crush on a female pirate captain, who shows up to help them in the final battle (to restore the rightful king to the throne), and then becomes Riot's girlfriend, kiss and all.

Heterosexual romance is only referenced once in the entire series, when the minor character Keith mentions his "girlfriend."

This is a world I can get behind.

I only have a few quibbles:

1. Apparently Bel has the ability to make magical changes to the theme park. But that plotline is underdeveloped; the few changes she makes are uninteresting.

2. There are several loose ends left hanging.

3. Mike doesn't get a boyfriend.  Granted, he only appears in a few scenes to "big brother" Bel, and then to participate in the climactic final battle.  But an occasional flirtation with a hunk would be nice.

Sep 15, 2019

10 Beefcake Boys of "Riot Girls"

The premise of Riot Girls (2019): most of the population of Potter's Bluff has been killed by a mysterious plague, leaving only teenagers and a scattering of 10-year olds.

So many questions:  How long has it been?  Why are teenagers immune?  Do they succumb when they reach a certain age?  Are there other communities, or are they all alone?  Are they surviving on canned goods, or have they developed agriculture? Why is the electricity still on?

Not to worry, it's not important; the goal is to get the teens alone.  They have divided into two societies, as over-the-top good and evil as Boulder and Las Vegas in The Stand.

 The East Side  is a laid-back hippie commune, run by the saintly, "we're all in this together" Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois). He keeps admitting refugees, such as Sony (Ajay Friese, left), but for some unexplained reason, he doesn't like dogs.

The West Side is a heavily stratified, heavily militarized totalitarian dictatorship, where they kill refugees.  It is ruled by the Wicked Witch of the West.. um, I mean Jeremy  (Munro Chambers), who also kills his own people for such offenses as failing to meet work quotas.

The plot: Jack is captured by Westsiders, who intend to execute him.  His sister Nat (Madison Iseman), the butch Mohawk-haired Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski), and Sony rush to the rescue.

It's a surprisingly long way to the West Side; it takes them two days to get there, even with a car.

There's some blood, a lot of rock music, and some heart-to-hearts.  Dr. Evil is killed, and his successor promises "Things are going to be different around here."  The four friends head for home.  The end.

Hetero-horniness:  None.  No one seems particularly interested in sex except for a border guard who tries to rape Nat.  Sony tries to kiss her, but is quickly rebuffed with "I'm not..."

Gay characters:  You're not what, Nat?  The two girls are certainly gay coded, but at one point Nat clarifies: "You're not my boyfriend!", thus establishing her as both heterosexual and unaware that gay people exist.

Bondage: No one has ever heard of rope.  All captives, including Jack, just stand there.

Beefcake: None.  No shirts come off.  There are quite a few cute actors, so I'll try to find shirtless pics from othe productions.  Unfortunately, other than 1. Jeremy, 2. Jack,  and 3. Sony, I have no idea who is who.

4. Darren Eisnor as Todd, one of the Titans (the sports team that now serves as Jeremy's thugs)

5. Atticus Mitchel as Cracker.  Atticus Mitchel is 26.  What's the age range of this Apocalyptic plague?

6.  Darnell Bartholomew as a Westside Guard

7. Jake Sim (not Sims) as Flick, who I think is second in command.

8. Chris Mark as Sean.  He couldn't have been shot in the locker room?

9.Carson MacCormac (left) as Spit.  Come on, one "frolicking in the river" shot for the gay male viewers?

10. Keanu Lee Nunes as a miscellaneous Titan.

I give up.

I'll give the movie a B-.  Points for its raucous energy and lack of hetero-horniness.  Demerits for the ludicrous villain and closeting the lesbian couple.

And closeting the physiques.
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