Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays where the experience is radically different if you live in a rural area or suburban area versus an urban area, especially if you are a shitheel 20-something and away from home.

In rural and suburban areas it’s a communal, often familial affair; almost routine.

In urban areas and far from family, you have a tiny kitchen that is absolutely not equipped for preparing the amount of food folks expect for Thanksgiving and, if you are in your 20s, you have absolutely no fucking clue what you’re doing, but no one else is doing the work so it’s up to, and you have no one to guide you.

There aren’t a lot of great Thanksgiving films out there, perhaps because the stress of a Thanksgiving dinner is equally mirrored and amplified by preparing a Christmas dinner. (A CHRISTMAS STORY is probably the best example of this, even though it’s solely about making a meal for immediate family as opposed to an extended family.)

PIECES OF APRIL is one of the few great Thanksgiving films. It focuses on the dichotomy between rural and suburban and urban expectations, of young adults trying to live up to the expectations of being fully-functional adults, even if they have been or currently are fuckups, while attempting to prepare an adult meal for everyone to enjoy, while also being not at all capable of doing so.

I know, because I’ve certainly been there, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

“I’m the first pancake.”


“It’s the one you’re supposed to throw out.”

PIECES OF APRIL is a very succinct depiction of a garbage person — April — trying to get better and attempting to mend the mistakes of their past by using food to apologize for her familial transgressions by inviting her suburban family — including her recalcitrant cancer-stricken mother, bitter about her sickness and April’s actions — to a Thanksgiving day trip to her NYC apartment.

“[We’re making] a good memory!”

“What if it’s not?”

“I promise it will be beautiful.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I told her it had to be.”

“And if it’s not?”

“Then I’ll kill her.”

April quickly realizes that her oven doesn’t work and scrambles through her building, looking for someone, anyone, to lend her some oven time to cook her turkey, often only to find doors slammed shut in her face while her boyfriend warmly traipses around the city in order to find an affordable suit to impress April’s parents. Matters escalate.

Katie Holmes is nakedly honest as April, a troubled youth, the black sheep of her family, the eldest of three children. As a youngster she had a penchant for fire and rebellion and when she had the chance, she ran off to New York City and spiraled into a world of drug dealers and even worse behavior.

PIECES OF APRIL is a perfect depiction of urban life, where many folks just want to live anonymously and are hardened by the rough life of an unforgiving city, but also of young misfits realizing what they put their family through, while also aware that they’re leading a very different life than the one that was expected of them.

The distance between myself and my immediate family is vast enough that I’ve never been put through the pressure cooker that April goes through, but as a fucking piece of garbage youth who moved halfway across the country to one of the largest cities in the U.S., and as someone who — along with my then-girlfriend/now-wife — has hosted my fair share of Friendsgivings and has screwed up my fair share of dishes, this film hits hard.

“You’re a bad girl! A very bad girl!”

“…no. I’m not.”

This was a ramshackle labor of love for writer/director Peter Hedges, shot extraordinarily cheaply — he was paid a whopping $20 for his efforts, and most of the cast worked for under $300 a day — Hedges made the most of it. There’s a visual intimacy here, mostly medium shots or close-ups to capture the emotional fraught nature of her family’s trip, as well as the stress April is enduring. Long shots are reserved for when April’s mom — an acerbic Patricia Clarkson — pushes her family away, rejecting the current situation.

Colors are often muted, although I’ve only seen this film via terrible DVD transfers. It might be intentional, an effort to visually cast a pall over the endeavors, but I might be reading too much into that.

While this summary may make this film sound like a downer, ultimately it’s about perseverance, of folks muscling through to try to do better, to give folks second chances, to showcase the grace that others can give others.

Is Thanksgiving fundamentally a fucking terrible holiday, one celebrating colonialism and downright genocide? Yes, yes it is. Is it terrible that so much of the nation overlooks that in favor for stuffing their faces? Yes, yes it is.

(I will note that PIECES OF APRIL does hang a hat on that, albeit not extremely successfully, but narratively and from a character perspective it makes sense.)

However, hosting Thanksgiving dinners is a rite of passage for many. It showcases that you can provide for others, that you can wrangle the many, many courses and dishes in a way that satisfies everyone and everyone can commune around the table and take comfort in one and another.

You’re living in this moment — a tiny one in the long run of your life — of knowing you’ve provided for those you hold dear and, despite the strife and stress and endless planning, you have a communal bonding moment over your rustic culinary efforts, the table a truce place setting, a few hours that are hopefully conflict-free where you can live in an idyllic familial fantasy of grace.

PIECES OF APRIL ends with a montage of photographs, memorializing the day, recording the above feelings for posterity, not just for the family, but also for whatever comes next. It’s a very simple, no-fuss film, but one that resonates with truth and the hardships of willing the endeavor of bringing everyone to the table, of making the effort in service of others. In other words: the perfect Thanksgiving film.

“One April day we’ll go miles away

and I’ll turn to you and say

I’ve always loved you in my way.

I’ll always love you in my way.”

Stephen Merritt

HALT AND CATCH FIRE: Signal to Noise -S04E02- (2017)

HALT AND CATCH FIRE was a very little-watched show about brilliant folks navigating Silicon Valley at the beginning of the personal computer revolution, as well as the burgeoning world of the Internet.

There is a lot of strife on display in the show, especially between Joe who is a wanna-be Steve Jobs with severe emotional issues, played by the charismatic Lee Pace, and Cameron — Cam — an exceptional programmer who also has a creative heart. Mackenzie Davis, who embodies Cam, reflects the spark in one’s eyes when they have a revelation. She adeptly conveys the frustration that she constantly feels, partially because of the modern male-dominated tech industry, but also because she does not like to feel boxed in.

Signal to Noise — the second episode of the final season — encapsulates the heart of the show. Its focus is on a phone call between Cam and Joe. Cam calls Joe late at night because of recent life changes. They start talking. Cam falls asleep on her tethered, corded phone without hanging up. Joe stays on the line via his chunky cellular phone until she wakes up in the morning.

When she does wake up, they talk for hours and hours, learning more about each other, feeling each other out and comforting each other.

That’s the underlying theme of HALT AND CATCH FIRE, that technology can be used to communicate and bring folks together in ways that were previously impossible.

I told my wife that she should really watch this episode, despite the fact that she hadn’t watched much of the show previously.

When she watched it, she remarked:

“That’s us.”

My wife and I first met through friends. It was not matchmaking — she was friends with folks I’d recently met and she was in town for a very short time, but knew she’d return a few months later.

All of us went to an ATARI TEENAGE RIOT show and were showered with Alec Empire’s backwash, which is something you more readily accept when you’re young than say, now.

Matters escalated but not the way you think, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

My now-wife tracked down my phone number via directory assistance, which I doubt you can do now.

I answered the call via a very 90s translucent, candy-colored, nicotine-stained corded phone and we would talk for hours. Not two or three hours, but over ten hours and until dawn, much like Joe and Cam.

We’ve been together for many, many years now. We’ve always worked together, from wrangling bands to putting on club nights, to day drinking while going garagesaling, playing GRIM FANDANGO and SYBERIA together, reading each other’s writing drafts and wrangling fabric and aiding in non-conventional public artworks and even being on TV. We have done a lot together — we have put in a lot of work — and I’m proud of what we have accomplished as partners.

We were married on this very day, ten years ago.

If you’ve read prior posts, you may have noticed that life has been pretty rocky for me these past few years, and not because of the pandemic. (Yes, that didn’t help.) I’ve been dealing with a lot of therapy, a lot of mental processing, a lot of diagnoses, a lot of internal confrontation and recalibration, and a lot of coping mechanisms. Also, my coming out has only added to the emotional weight.

It has been a lot for her to endure. She’s been there for all of it, communicative and supporting and accepting and loving, even if what I’m going through is sometimes confusing.

If it weren’t for her finding me through technology, by calling me up one night, we might have only met that one weekend and never talked to each other again. Instead, through technology, we were able to learn about each other and feel matters out and we’ve been married for ten years now and, hopefully, many more.

“That’s us.”


Traditionally for my birthday I go to a local bookstore and buy myself a mess of books. I didn’t do so this year because of reasons but last year I was floating down the very stacked aisles of Ravenswood Used Books and Elizabeth Strout’s AMY AND ISABELLE caught my eye.

Given that I loved OLIVE KITTERIDGE and THE BURGESS BOYS, I nabbed it, and it sat on my ‘to read’ shelf for about a year. I didn’t realize that it was Strout’s debut novel. All that mattered was it was penned by her, and she has a certain sensitivity and New England sensibility that is catnip to me.

I usually prefer to go into books blind, especially from authors that have penned works I appreciate but, for whatever reason, this time I read the back cover copy. I won’t quote it, but it gave the impression of a late 1960’s staid mother (Isabelle) pushing against a burgeoning teen daughter (Amy) leaning into a queer life.

I was gravely wrong. This is a work about how men abuse anyone they can.

AMY AND ISABELLE is a slice of life about living in a turning point of America, of women being in the workfield, of being mothers to daughters, of daughters taxing their mothers, and simply just trying to endure their hardships, to live the life they’re handed, the life handed down to them. I know that description sounds too vague, too nebulous, but I can’t describe it any other way.

Thirty pages in, I could already see Amy’s trajectory. Fifty pages in, I was telling myself: “You really should not be reading this. You know this hits too close to home for you.” One hundred pages in, I asked myself: “Why the fuck do you persist in reading this?” It came to a head around page 118. I was reading this one chapter on a bus after returning from a rather stressful cross-state trip. I read the words, read Strout detailing how the daughter Amy was taken advantage of, and my fingers curled, gnarled around the cover and pages. I tried to keep reading, but instead thrust it into my bag. If I were at home, reading it while rocking in my chair on the porch, I would have thrown it to the ground; not out of disgust, but because it cut too close to the quick.

It’s the mark of a great author that can recreate traumatic scenarios that, to others, may seem endearing, but also to those who have lived through these experiences, rather harrowing. That’s what Strout manages here, in a way I’ve never read before.

That said, I fucking hated it. I hated reliving it through her words.

With texts, you can sit with words. You can put the forward momentum on pause. If it’s a positive piece of prose, you can revel in it. If it’s a negative piece of prose, you can either beat yourself up about it, or curse the creator.

When you’re dealing with something that you wish you’d never read? You do not want to read further, but you can’t put the full piece on pause; the unwanted part resonates in your mind.

I kept going, just like I keep living.

Amy and Isabelle endure, just like the luckiest of us, but both are left haunted. This is a brutal gut-punch of a novel, something I was not expecting, something I didn’t want, but it resonates so loudly.

I write far too much about how artistic works emotionally impact me, I know, but I will never, ever apologize for it. That’s what works like AMY AND ISABELLE do; they affect those who feel seen, but also impart a worldview to those who haven’t lived those experiences, and to help placate those who have, even if they can’t forget.


NIGHT IN THE WOODS hits more than a little too close to home for me. This video game from developers Infinite Fall and Secret Lab may, at first blush, look like a cozy and cartoonish narrative-forward exploratory game, but the anthropomorphism and vibrant colors belie a dark tale of deterioration and dysfunction and self-examination.

You play as Mae Borowski, a twenty-year-old cat-like college dropout returning to the deteriorating mining town of Possum Springs, where her parents and high school friends still reside. There’s a darkness in her past, numerous disturbing incidents from her youth, and she’s seen as a blight that’s come back to haunt her dilapitated hometown. While her parents are supportive, they’re also slightly resentful given that Mae was ‘a miracle baby’ and that they scrimped and saved for her to be the first Borowski to head to college, Mae laid waste to that dream. They may end up losing their house due to Mae’s nature. She’s still perceived as a kid; she’s irresponsible and impulsive and selfish and she doesn’t take the world or herself seriously.

I find it hard not to identify with Mae. I, too, am a college dropout although — unlike Mae — I didn’t drop out early, but did so in my final year. Part of it was financial as I simply ran out of money, but part of it was also due to a lack of motivation. I was in film school and realized that while I love film and love setting up shots and positioning lights and breaking down scripts and analyzing and writing about film, I knew I was not fit for the hustle required to make it in the industry. So I abandoned that pursuit, got a low-level tech support job that paid well-enough for a twenty-something and I worked my way up to be a web developer, a position I’ve held for many, many years now.

Like Mae, I was what you would call a troubled youth. I acted out from a young age, which only increased with each and every birthday. There were a number of counselors, a lot of yelling, all sorts of destruction, run-ins with the law, etc. It got to the point where parents refused to allow their offspring to fraternize with me. I got involved with a lot of older folks who were very bad for me, and I was embroiled in more than a few situations that I was far too young for. Like Mae, I didn’t exactly lie to folks, but I knew how to hide matters. There were a lot of surreptitious trips to cities and places no one else knew about. While I could go on, I think you get the point.

To put it succinctly: I have never been invited to a high school reunion, and no extended family members attended our wedding.

I was a real selfish piece of shit, a black sheep, whereas Mae is a black cat.

However, like Mae, I still have supportive friends from my youth, and I still have close family, even if they still remember how fucking awful I was. Those were bridges I never managed to burn, thankfully.

NIGHT IN THE WOODS is an unflinching work and I will say: you do not have to have been a real piece of shit to identify with Mae. She’s smart, she’s quippy, and she has a very unique voice. She just hasn’t found her place yet, but it isn’t Possum Springs — despite the fact that it’s the only place that begrudgingly accepts her.

While NIGHT IN THE WOODS tries to be something more than just an interactive side-scrolling novel — there are a few mini-games, including a Zelda-ish dungeon game and a number of rhythm games that are amazing riffs on JOY DIVISION’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and BAUHAUS’ ‘Bela Legosi’s Dead’, they’re more annoying than engaging. They’re often too fiddly, even if it’s supposed to encapusate Mae blindly playing bass to songs she doesn’t know. There’s an art to controller-based rhythm games that feels lost here, and leaves one feeling frustrated. (That may be appropriate for Mae as a character, but it also resulted in a lot of swearing on my behalf.)

I initially played NIGHT IN THE WOODS shortly after it was released, six years ago. I decided to pick it up and replay it recently because I remember it as being a low-friction game with great art design, a lot of unique personalities, voices, and witty banter.

What I forgot was that it’s ultimately a tale about an existential crisis and psychotic break.

There are a number of hints and allusions to Mae’s actions and behavior before she headed off to college, but it takes a while until Mae ultimately confronts matters and, while I will not spoil them, this tale takes a number of dark turns, culminating with Mae having to reckon with her past, her skewed mind, and her fundamental disassociation with, well, life.

So, despite appearances, it’s a far more soulful work than one might expect. It’s a tale of societal expectations, of guilt, of reckoning, of family, of friends. This is not a lark; it’s a deep dive into how one can fucking completely mess up their life and still manage to survive, but feel endlessly haunted.

SHE-DEVIL (1989)


This write-up contains spoilers for the novel THE LIFE AND LOVES OF A SHE-DEVIL.

It’s hard to imagine now, but back in the day Roseanne Barr was considered a progressive blue-collar feminist, first through her brusque stand-up, then with her heralded sitcom ROSEANNE (who had now-disgraced self-proclaimed feminist Joss Whedon in the writer’s room).

Despite being a pre-teen, I absolutely loved ROSEANNE. Barr encapsulated the type of outspoken, driven woman that reminded me of my own mother, who willfully worked whichever job she could get because she wanted to give back and keep her hands busy. She was restless and smart and witty and the Barr in ROSEANNE mirrored that same sort of mentality and cultural ethic.

So, it wasn’t terribly surprising that she was cast as Ruth, the unruly protagonist of the film adaptation of THE LIFE AND LOVES OF A SHE-DEVIL. It was not hard to imagine Barr inhabiting the role of a scorned woman, a woman who undermines positions of authority with the intent to shoehorn her way into a patriarchal society because, well, she did all of that.

However, there’s one major flaw with this adaptation, and that is: Barr is not tall.

As noted in my prior write-up, Ruth’s height is the predominant facet to her being an unwelcome woman in society. To the extent that she goes through major elective surgery to change from being 6’ 2” to around 5’ 8”, which takes the work from being a piece about a scorned and envious woman to outright body horror due to what she is willing to endure to mould herself.

At this point in time in Barr’s career, she was very well-known for being short and stout. The stout fits the Ruth character. Short? No, not at all.

I’m getting ahead of myself, especially if you haven’t read my prior write-up about the source material.

SHE-DEVIL comes across as a simple vengeance tale: Ruth, a plain woman, discovers that her accountant husband — and parent to her son and daughter — is cheating on her with Anne, his romance author client. Ruth decides to burn her life, and their lives, to the very ground.

For the most part, SHE-DEVIL is yet another film that: if you watch it before consuming the source material, it comes across as brilliant. Yes, it casts aside the most extreme acts of the novel, but otherwise its fidelity to Weldon’s book is quite astounding. They could have just lifted the concept — scorned, vengeful woman wrecking the lives of those she feels have wronged her — and ran with it, but instead they recreate most of the non-body horror scenes, almost word-for-word, and it plays! It works!

Part of that is simply because of the cast. I previously harped on Roseanne Barr’s involvement, but motherfucking Meryl Streep plays Anne, the romance author, during Streep’s astounding run of playing absolutely independent but also unwelcome women. Ed Begley Jr. is Bob, Ruth’s accountant husband and, while on paper you wouldn’t think that Begley Jr. could pull off being a philandering, sexy debonair — he usually just plays a mostly innocuous schmuck — it actually works here. A lot of it has to do with his robust and glorious hair styling, but he also conveys a charismatic and alluring type of sleaze.

I honestly didn’t know he had it in him.

Cinematically, it’s rather straight-forward and not handled with much grace, but the main attraction here is the script — mostly cribbed from the novel — and the performances. If nothing else, it feels like it was greenlit to capitalize on the sensation of recent accessible-but-camp films, such as John Waters’ HAIRSPRAY, films that portray women taking charge of their lives through any means possible, but in a darkly comic way.

That means circling back to what isn’t in the film: the body horror. A keen eye will notice that Barr’s Ruth does take advantage of some physical alterations, but nothing so severe as in the novel. Essentially, all of that is dropped, which severely neuters the work.

However, even without that facet, it’s still a powerful feminist film. If you don’t believe me, believe the illustrious and erudite Criterion Channel, which routinely plays it. It is a smart film, however, if you know what it could have been, you might be slightly disappointed.

HEX (2020)

RachelSimons is dead.

Rachel was accidentally poisoned by her own hand as part of her botanic poison research and using herself as a test subject. Consequently, her death leads to the dissolution of her research department, including protagonist Nell Barber. Nell becomes obsessed with continuing Rachel’s research, which includes cultivating monkshood and castor beans, while still being infatuated with her mentor Joan, an older, prickly academic married to a bloated, gregarious man named Barry. When Nell isn’t spending her time mooning over her research or Joan, she hangs with her beautiful best friend Misha and shittalks about her gorgeous-but-vapid ex Tom.

In other words: There’s a lot of academic incest going on.

Rebecca Dinerstein Knight’s second novel HEX examines the fallout of Rachel’s death with brilliantly inventive prose that ducks and weaves through the lives of five individuals as they all desperately flail around seeking some sort of comfort, if not in their studies, then in each others arms.

It is very tempting to call HEX a botanist version of THE SECRET GARDEN as the two share a lot in common: both circle around a dead body, academia, and a severely dysfunctional group of high-minded adult students and scholars that are absolutely the worst for each other. However, unlike THE SECRET GARDEN, you don’t get the same sense of family camaraderie. From the get-go, there’s an immediate friction between everyone, and there’s a lot of toxic interplay and back-biting.

Initially I balked at writing this recommendation, solely because Dinerstein Knight’s prose is so inventive, so evocative that her words easily trounce whichever words I would utilize to pen this piece. She’s that good, and any attempts on my behalf to try to convey that would be — well, are — middling at best.

However, it’s too good to refrain from recommending as the construction of Nell’s interior thoughts are so delicious, and the tension between their fraught clique is so familiar but also very heightened, and the slow-burn is expertly doled out. It’s a wild ride, and one worth signing up for.

HEX can be purchased via Bookshop.

MANHATTAN (2014-2015) [RERUN]

I’ve been a bit burned out due some of the intensity of the drafts I’ve been working on so, since OPPENHEIMER was just released, I thought I’d call your attention to my 2020 post regarding MANHATTAN, the little-known series from WGN America who very briefly broadcast a number of critical acclaimed prestige shows, including UNDERGROUND as well as MANHATTAN.

MANHATTAN tells the tale of the nucleus of the creation of the atom bomb and the environment and folks it took to construct it. Essentially: OPPENHEIMER before OPPENHEIMER.

MANHATTAN featured an embarrassment of creative riches, including an astounding cast and writers, such as Rachel Brosnahan (THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL), Harry Lloyd (DOCTOR WHO, GAME OF THRONES), Olivia Williams (RUSHMORE), as well as writer Lila Byock who has since gone on to work on amazing serialized works such as THE LEFTOVERS and WATCHMEN and CASTLE ROCK.

It’s a shame that the show never garnered the attention it deserved, but WGN America gave us two seasons, which is one more than I thought we’d ever get.

While my initial write-up is several years old, it’s still available on a number of the streaming services listed, and both seasons are available on DVD.


I haven’t covered the entirety of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels — in fact, I only wrote about the third — and I kind of expected to leave it at that, as while each novel is remarkable, the first three are rather remarkable in the same way: they’re all about the push-and-pull between two friends growing up together in Naples and their power dynamics and their multi-faceted journeys through life.

Consequently, I didn’t expect the final novel in the series — THOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO STAY — to stray much from the path, and I certainly didn’t expect to be penning this, but here we are.

THOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO STAY escalates matters far more than the prior novels. Time passes rapidly. Lenù and Lila age significantly. The undercurrent of the mafia bubbles up to the surface. Technology becomes foregrounded. Families are ripped asunder. Stagnation sets in for some, while others find solace in wildness.

This is a true epic of lives lived, and as always Ferrante deftly handles it bluntly, but also artfully. Ferrante’s prose is so succinct and exacting; she is so dialed into the inner voice of Lenù that you feel like you’re inhabiting her as the scales fall from her eyes.

While I feel that Ferrante could have drawn all of this out further, going more in-depth about Lenù and Lila as they navigate their older years, this seems like a fittingly spry end to their tale. It’s satisfying, poignant, melancholy, and often even angry. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of the Neapolitan novels.

BARRY (2018-2023)


No spoilers here, just (hopefully) a succinct bit of word-garbage.

BARRY’s premise initially seemed a little too sweaty and off-putting to me. It was as if creator Bill Hader got high and turned to his friend Alec Berg and exclaimed: “Now, now, now! Hear me out! I have the best idea! An ex-soldier turned hitman wants to be an actor! Do you want in?!”

I was thrilled to find that it was far more considered and thoughtful than that.

BARRY was stylish without being showy — long shots whenever action became intense (technically harder to pull off!) — and comedic without undermining the drama.

It’s worth noting: Hader loves film. He loves everything about film. Just read this New Yorker interview with him and he comes across as a young(-ish) Scorsese — someone who knows how to write, direct, and shoot films, even down to the lenses he wants to use.

So, it’s a shame that BARRY’s series finale was completely over-shadowed by SUCCESSION’s (brilliant) finale, as it was a thunder-blast. Some found the last season to be treading water, but I didn’t; it was a reckoning and meditation on what it takes to come to terms with your past.

Also, goddamn, the set-pieces. BARRY is very, very good at solitary and dramatic moments, but it absolutely kills (no pun intended) when it comes to action sequences. Absolutely nothing like it on TV now and, sadly, probably won’t be for a while.

Lastly, I’d be remiss to neglect to mention the cast. Everyone here is amazing, but especially the chaotic energy of Anthony Carrigan, Stephen Root (who goes through an amazing transformation), Sarah Goldberg who is revelatory and was really put through the wringer, and oh yes, Henry Fucking Winkler. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

DOOM PATROL VOL. 6 (2016-?)

If you aren’t familiar with the recent-ish drama at DC Comics, the Vertigo imprint is no more. Karen Berger, who spearheaded Vertigo, left DC a while ago. Without her, you wouldn’t have SANDMAN. You wouldn’t have Y: THE LAST MAN. You wouldn’t have Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING, and you certainly wouldn’t have Morrison or Pollack’s DOOM PATROL.

Yes, all great things must end, but sometimes they’re resurrected. Gerard Way — of the band MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE and the writer of THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY — revived DOOM PATROL with his ‘Young Animals’ imprint, which is essentially a modern reboot of Vertigo; it’s all about the weird, all about the misfit ‘superheroes’ that don’t quite fit into the normal DC universe, but still have a rabid following.

According to the DC Database, ‘Young Animal’ is still active, but nothing has been published under the imprint in a number of years, so I’ll consider it defunct which is a shame, as those working under the imprint did a fantastic job but I guess the market for weird comic books just isn’t there nowadays.

However, Gerard Way did give us two new volumes of DOOM PATROL weird. (Three, if you count DOOM PATROL: WEIGHT OF THE WORLDS, which will not be covered in this write-up as it’s technically not part of the sixth volume.)

As with every new DOOM PATROL volume, this is a different DOOM PATROL, one that resembles the one of Morrison’s run, but a bit twisted. (Apologies, I have not read each and every DOOM PATROL book — I just found out there’s an entire Keith Giffen run — so I might get some facts wrong here.) Robotman Cliff Steele is here, obviously. Danny the Street is back, but in a far smaller way. Larry Trainor is …kind of back. A sort-of-Rita pops up for a bit. Jane has returned. Nowhere Man is taunting them and then turns into a sort of Max Headroom for some reason. Niles continues to be the narrator of his own creations.

So, essentially: it’s Gerard Way getting his vision of the band back together again.

It mostly works! Way also introduces a slew of new characters, such as Casey Brinke, the other side of the Cliff Steele coin; she loves to drive fast and her interests include: women, robots, her apartment, and her cat named ‘Lotion’. Way maneuvers Casey from outsider narrative commentator to one of the Doom Patrol gang so expertly, I barely even noticed.

There’s also the exuberant Terry None, one hell of a tap-dancing chaotic influence on the team. (I’ll note that her costume? Immaculately designed. Watch it as you read!)

Volume Six also includes the Reynolds family — husband Sam, wife Valerie, and teen son Lucius — which I am far less keen on. Doom Patrol has always been about found families and to shoehorn an actual family there feels incongruent to me, especially considering the closing issue of the second collection, which boils down to: the Reynolds play D&D but with real-life consequences.

Nonetheless, Way managed to keep the Doom Patrol weird candle alight, and with such an amazing team!

I do wish that DC had allotted ‘Young Animal’ more time than they were given. Unconventional comics are what contributes to visual narrative progress. You can see it not only in comics, but in film and TV and video games as well. Vertigo, and Young Animal, helped to nurture that experimentation, and apparently now … no one is willing to make that very small investment.

(Lastly: Yes, I know I said Vol. 6 and the cover says Vol. 2. It’s comics, so it’s essentially Vol. 6.1 and 6.2. No need to overthink it!)