Sunday, January 25, 2009

Four Modern Tales of Evil

Every now and then my wife or I exchange e-mails with SarahK and FrankJ. They also have a gluten-free home, and SarahK is also trying to loose weight to get to 150 pounds.

Lately SarahK has been enjoying the Twilight books but FrankJ is apparently uninterested in them.

So this post is for them. Here is a review of Let the Right One In by James Rummel. This art movie, along with the significantly different and grimmer book it is based upon, was a second and less publicized new take on the vampire myth. From what I know about FrankJ this might be a movie that he and SarahK could enjoy and discuss together, moreso than the Twilight books.

I've never read or watched either, so I cannot provide my own review. But during the two days of early January when I was quite sick and not up for anything I did watch the first few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time, on Hulu.

I enjoy Firefly and wondered if I would enjoy Buffy. Nope. The early episodes were written as an extended metaphor of how dreadful the high school years can be. Those first episodes had themes about the difficulty in fitting in at a new town, when parents are too controlling, how hurtful it can be for a teacher to take advantage of a student, and the lure of a gang mentality. But it was also true that the heroes acted like high school students: they kept secrets from each other, wallowed in teen angst, and often did not use teamwork well. Those early episodes succeeded in metaphorically describing high school as a not-fun place so well that it was not much fun as an adult to watch them. (But I could see how the show would be popular among high schoolers.) As usual with a Joss Whedon show the dialogue was humorous and witty, but not enough to keep me past a few episodes. Surprisingly, some of the commercials were great.

I know of another "fighting the forces of evil" story that has as heroes three high schoolers, two girls and a boy, who have some adult support. I enjoyed it much more than Buffy.

It is a webcomic about two families who have been at odds for generations. One family is supported by evil superhumans. What the conflict looked like or how it endured despite such an unbalanced arrangement is never described. The story begins when both families are in disarray and dysfunctional because some of the normally evil superhumans were raised in caring families, and these did not grow up to be evil. The story's character development is minimal, but the plot is intricate and fun while lessons about forgiveness, trust, and second chances are told with subtle skill. The title is Demonology 101, which certainly does not sound like something a minister would recommend. But the in the story the evil superhumans could have just as easily been aliens, supervillains, or time-travelers: their only "trick" needed for the story is the ability to teleport. They can safely flee the scene while the heroes (and reader) know they will eventually return to make trouble. The heroes fight the evil supervillains with fists, guns and blades, just as if the foes were people. These evil supervillains feel emotional conflicts and want loving relationships. So there is nothing about them but the name similar to scripture's demons. The comic never discusses, let alone doing something harmful like romanticizing, what are actually spiritually evil.

I recommend starting the webcomic here at a bit of well written backstory. It's another tale that SarahK and FrankJ would probably both enjoy and enjoy discussing together.

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