Watching the Minutemen Part 1: Eight Minutes

“For the sake of honor I did sacrifice my soul
For the sake of vengeance I did struggle to regain it.”
–The Crimson Corsair: Minutemen #1

Join Jacob Crites as he reads too deeply into every issue of Before Watchmen: Minutemen. The following is part one of a six part series.

There are people who will never like Before Watchmen simply because it exists. If you’ve ever read Watchmen, you know that this viewpoint is not entirely unreasonable. There was no more story to be told by the end of Alan Moore’s masterwork; he, along with artist David Gibbons, had challenged and redefined an entire art form with their unparalleled mastery of the comic medium. And it also, even stripped of its technical brilliance, is still a really incredible story with characters that leave a lasting imprint somewhere in the deep pit of your being.

But you know all this already. You know why it shouldn’t be done. And you know why DC did it anyway. What none of us knew is just how incredibly well such a seemingly horrific idea could turn out.

Things immediately feel different than the original Watchmen, both in tone and in style, and this is important. For one, consider the contrast in entry points: we were introduced to Watchmen‘s world through Rorschach, an enigmatic, mentally unstable masked vigilante who was unmistakably and tragically the result of the dark, corrupted world around him. In Minutemen, the story is told through the eyes of Hollis Mason, by all accounts the most good-hearted man we know of in the Watchmen universe, and one of the world’s original masked vigilantes: Night Owl. We know Hollis a little from reading excerpts from his tell-all book, Under the Hood, in the original Watchmen series, but here we see his unabashedly old-school idealism and optimism first hand.

But, of course, it’s not that simple. With Watchmen it never is. Through flashbacks, he looks back on his crime-fighting years with nostalgia, and he regrets that he can’t take the rose-tinted glasses off. For despite the good he sees in what the Minutemen did, who the Minutemen were, he understands with overwhelming clarity that the actions that he and his fellow masked “heroes” had made had helped shape a corrupt and twisted present with a future almost certainly doomed to implosion.

“Over the months it took me to complete [Under the Hood], I found the act of writing seemed to purge me of the darker aspects of my secret life,” he says, “as if I trapped all of it in a bottle I could now toss into the surf. Lately, when I think of those times, the dark parts fall farther and farther away from my limited line of sight. From down here on earth, I can only see what I want to see. From here in my empty apartment I can only see the good.

But he doesn’t mean it. Not entirely. Least of all when referring to himself. He speaks of his former comrades Byron (Moth Man) and Ursula (The Silhouette) with love and admiration, even after the tabloids had trampled their reputations and left them to die; but he speaks of himself with a level of skepticism and unease he reserves for no one else but The Comedian. For Mason is unconvinced that his own heroics should be labeled as such. In a way, despite his nostalgia, he speaks of his years as Nite Owl with a tinge of regret:

“I knew I wanted to do good, and I’m pretty sure that, on a community level, that’s just what I did. But that didn’t explain what I was doing. There are all kinds of sane ways to help your community that don’t involve a mask and short pants. When it came right down to it, I did it for the thrills. For the excitement of putting myself on the line.”

And so through this conflicted character Minutemen becomes a fascinating book: one in which we watch a good man become a part of a thing we know he has no chance of stopping from inevitably spiraling out of control; and in which we see that same man, now, wondering whether or not it would have been worth stopping anyway.

If you didn’t already consider Darwyn Cooke to be one of the most talented artists in modern comics, start paying attention. The man, in addition to his expressive and beautiful artwork, effortlessly deepens and humanizes these characters within mere pages of a single issue. Throughout the piece he has the unenviable task of introducing no less than eight masked vigilantes, and still manages to imbue them each with a level of depth unseen in most series.

Yet although containing the unmistakable undercurrent of tragedy that Watchmen is known for, as mentioned earlier, there is a palpable sense that something is different. Part of what that something is, in addition to our entry into the comic’s world, is enthusiasm. Color. Joy, however fleeting.

Watchmen has been called, amongst many things, a comic about comics, so it’s appropriate that its prequel should highlight the colorful exuberance and optimism of the Golden Age of Comics. In the costumes, framing of action and dialogue, Cooke captures the bright-eyed innocence of early super hero tales, best of all during a depiction of a pre-picture advertisement about the “superhero” Dollar Bill, a corporate mascot of the National Bank Company.

But Cooke wisely never veers into the territory of pure comic-book silliness. Even at its most colorful, thanks to Hollis, the Minutemen are always viewed with the not-so-slight air of cynicism. Dollar Bill, despite his colorful costume, is a corporate sham. The Silk Spectre, with the help of her acting agent, fakes elaborate crimes for her to “fight” for the sake of publicity.

But for a minute in time, it didn’t matter. They had fun, were adored, had toy lines, starred in movies. They had a sort of vigor and cheeriness about their crime-fighting that their eventual replacements, the Watchmen, never had a shot at attaining. Maybe that’s what feels different: in the world of Watchmen, it was already too late; the world was a dark place through and through and there was no turning back. Minutemen takes place during a blip in time where masked vigilantes could fight crime, be celebrities and inspire their country without fearing the consequences.

It wouldn’t last long.

My Week of Cleaning Out the Netflix Queue: Dororo (2007)

A friend of mine has been insisting that I watch this for well over a year, and now that I have, I can say one thing for sure: this was definitely a movie that I watched.

Dororo is…well, a summary would take around four thousand words to hit all of the cardinal points so forgive me if I gloss over many of them in the interest of time. (Something I wish the film-makers did as well, but we’ll get to that shortly.)

In the distant future of feudal Japan, Lord Daigo finds his land and his people besieged by unstoppable enemies. On the verge of finding his world and heritage wiped out, he makes a dark pact with 48 demons: if they give him the power to fight back and conquer them, he will give them his unborn son, which they can divide into 48 pieces as they please.

Unfortunately this moment of weakness for Daigo evolves quickly into a lust for power, and he uses his dark blessing not just to defeat his enemies, but to enslave humanity.

Okay, that’s the background information. The actual plot is still more complicated: Daigo’s son is born, but he’s nothing but a barely-formed lump of flesh. He has a torso, a waist, a neck and a head, and that’s it. No eyes, no ears, no limbs, because the demons took all that shit…it’s creepy, okay? Daigo wants to kill the abomination but Mrs. Daigo puts him in a basket and sends him down the river, where a brilliant inventor finds him and builds him, piece by piece, a new body, in the hopes that he will someday be a real boy. So the origin story reveals that our hero is basically Moses, Edward Scissorhands and Pinocchio rolled into one. He’s also a samurai with a blade for an arm and he’s blind and deaf but can see and hear with his heart…even though he doesn’t have one of those either.

Actually, that’s still the background information.

So, the plot: he must seek out each of the 48 demons and destroy them with his special demon-killing samurai arm so that he can replace the parts of his fake body with the actual parts from his real body that the demons were just kind of chilling with, and a female thief who unconvincingly impersonates a man because her parents told her never to be weak like a woman unless she wanted to die with the rest of the villagers joins up with Pinocchioses Scissorhands, because she wants the blade when he’s done with it, and they eventually find out that Lord Daigo was both our hero’s father and the guy who killed the thief’s parents, and…

…fuck. That’s still background information.

This movie’s complicated, okay? It’s also really long. Clocking in at two and a half hours, I really do feel that something should have been cut.

…and yet I’d be loathe to identify which scenes should go, because taken in isolation everything is pretty damned beautiful. The demon fight sequences are a little ropey, but they’re made up for afterward when our hero falls to the ground coughing up some fake version of one of his organs so that he can regenerate his real one. It’s wondrously disgusting.

The adventures of the demon slayer and the thief are fairly episodic, broken into long sequences that see them encountering some bizarre situation and needing to fight their way out of it…only to have it never brought up again. This is true to Dororo‘s origin as a manga series, where an issue-by-issue stop/start abruptness is inherent to the format. Here it might sound frustrating, but it works well enough. The quest is neatly broken into 48 pieces anyway — though by the end of this film we still have 24 body parts to go — so it’s not so strange that each situation would seem to exist independently of the others.

It’s not a bad movie at all, but it is overbearingly Japanese. You’ll need to get around a few things that seem pretty bizarre in order to enjoy the movie — see the gigantic naked baby in the picture above, and then ask yourself how likely you are to get around that — but if you can, it’s a good deal of fun and not without moments of admirable consideration and depth.

After all, once our hero is told by a dying demon that he should really be angry at his father instead of them, there’s a genuinely emotional turning-point. Dororo is about adventure and bloodshed, without a doubt, but there’s a current of humanity and self-discovery that runs beneath. I can’t promise you that it’s worth seeking out, but if you do watch it, it might be a more rewarding experience than you expected.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to kill this fire-breathing potato bug to get my ankle back.

Next up: a film in which plot and character feature heavily. Fuck, I spoiled it didn’t I?

20 Questions: Adam Lore

You may recognize the name Adam Lore, as he comments here pretty regularly. I’ve known Adam for several years now, and he’s always been a fascinating — and compulsively creative — person that I enjoy checking in with now and again. Recently he offered me a copy of Abyssian Squelch, his latest album, and I was happy to receive it. In return, I told him that I would write a review on this blog.

Fast forward to me actually listening to the album, and realizing that it was, more or less entirely, beyond the scope of any words I could possibly find. It’s a fantastic and involving listen…but it wasn’t something, I felt, I could adequately discuss. So I figured I’d turn to the man in charge, and use his words instead. Hence, the below interview, which I hope you enjoy. If you have any questions for Adam, feel free to leave them below.

And Abyssian Squelch is brilliant. Just putting that out there.

1) How many songs have you recorded as of today? Have you lost count?

It’s difficult to put an exact number on it.. I have written 48 albums but only about 10 of them have decent presentable finished recordings currently. So somewhere between 100 and 600 songs, depending on what you want to count.

There are a few more albums I have worked on in collaboration with others, too.

2) Is there something particular about your creative process that causes you to be more prolific?

I think it has a lot to do with saving most of the stuff I work on regardless of how good it is and organizing it all into albums after the fact. And most of the music I write is pretty simple and repetitive, so it’s not a lot of work to come up with material.

For music, it’s easy to create an album in separate pieces and then assemble them together after the fact. Comic strips work that way, too. For other things, like writing a book or making a graphic novel or a musical or something, you really can’t do that, so I tend to not finish those types of projects as much as writing individual songs.

3) Describe the journey from your initial inspiration to your final edit.

I’ll use a particular song for an example. I was watching the movie Jack, starring Robin Williams, for those of you who don’t remember it, in the movie Jack has some kind of disorder that makes him age much faster than normal children, so he is in elementary school but he looks 40 years old or something.

There is a scene where Jack is on the playground sitting alone and a basketball rolls toward him. And there’s that moment where he is on the spot, and he picks up the ball, and everyone is staring at him, expecting him to throw the ball to them. And it’s just such a simple task to just throw the ball back, but it’s like this huge celebrated achievement that you are thanked for so graciously for just returning a ball.

Something about that really resonated with me, and I could relate to it on a very deep level for some reason.

I was also reading a lot about fairy tales at the time.

The next day I was walking to my friend’s house and these kids where playing with a ball, and it almost rolled into the street, and it landed at my feet! I thought “I’m Jack!” which was immediately followed by the thought “and you’re the beanstalk”. After tossing the ball back I had a pretty solid idea for a song.

There’s really not much to it after that. Write the lyrics down, add a bridge or something. Find the chords that fit with the tune in your head. Record a demo.

That’s not a good example of the journey to a final edit, though, because I still haven’t recorded a final version of that song.

If I’m collaborating with someone it is a lot more interactive. If I am working with Mr. Door we usually focus on writing out more of a full song with multiple verses, which I tend to just rush through when I’m working alone. Collaborating with other people, like working with Mitch Guss, for example, it can be a lot more spontaneous and experimental. We may just hit record and start screaming.

4) When listening to Abyssian Squelch, I hear a lot of influence from They Might be Giants and The Flaming Lips. Who would you say your primary influences are?

You’re right on the money. They Might Be Giants are a major influence for my music. My main influence, for sure. The Flaming Lips have been very influential, too. I draw a lot of inspiration from Daniel Johnston and James Kochalka as well. I won’t go into a huge list or anything, but I have also been influenced by stuff like TV theme songs, movie soundtracks, and music from Nintendo games.

5) You recorded a soundtrack for Dino Golf, an NES game that never existed. If you could conjure the perfect video game out of thin air, what would it be like?

I always want to play Dino Golf. It’s too bad it’s not a real game.

I don’t know about the perfect video game, but I think there are a lot of great things you could do with geometry and topology in a video game that aren’t being taken advantage of.

I’d love to see a game where you could explore extra dimensions, or see time as part of space or something like that. Maybe controlling and manipulating the laws of physics within the game.

6) What game (or games) have the best soundtracks in your opinion?

I love the music from all the Mario games (including Yoshi’s Island), Zelda, and Mega Man (especially Mega Man 3 and X), Final Fantasy has great music. The Moon level on Ducktales for NES is one of the best for sure. Bubble Bobble and Kirby have really fun soundtracks. Dr. Mario, too. I’m envious of the music from Rygar, Metroid, Dragon Warrior, Punch Out, Castlevania. Too many to list.

7) If you could sit down with any musician, alive or dead, and write one single song with them who would it be and why?

Believe it or not, I would love to collaborate with Justin Bieber. I think it would be so fun and interesting to combine our different styles and approaches to music. And I think seeing Justin Bieber dancing around and singing passionately about marrying an invisible dinosaur from the future or something would just be hilarious and wonderful.

8) What is your favorite musical moment in any film?

If I can pick three, I’d go with:
1) Will Ferrel’s “Whole Wide World” scene in Stranger than Fiction
2) the “Let My Love Open the Door” scene from Dan in Real Life
3) The Squid and the Whale, when Walt performs “Hey You”, claiming he wrote it

If I had to choose the best musical moment, though, I’d probably go with The “Wise Up” scene in Magnolia. So good!

9) You also draw comic strips. Do you see any overlap between creating visual art and music?

I think in theory it always seems like a really great idea to combine the two. But I don’t see them as being easily compatible. I do think a lot of the creative energy comes from the same place, though. With animation, on the other hand, you can do it well. I think animation would be the perfect medium if it weren’t so difficult and expensive to produce.

I love the montage scenes of comic book art in the Crumb documentary, though. Maybe it’s just a matter of finding the right music.

10) What single album has spoken more deeply to you than any other?

Probably Apollo 18 by They Might Be Giants.

11) What instruments can you play?

Pretty much anything that’s based on a keyboard. And basic chords on the guitar. Though I tend to avoid electric guitars entirely. I can play the accordion to a limited extent.

12) What single instrument that you can’t play would you most like to learn?

It would be fun to learn how to play a theremin.

13) You’re on a desert island with your iPod. There’s no hope of rescue and you’ll only be able to listen to three more songs before the battery dies. What’s on this short playlist?

1. “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid
2. “Si Me Dejas Ahora” by Camilo Sesto
3. “The End of the Tour” by They Might Be Giants

14) If you could be remembered for one thing — anything, whether or
not you actually did it — what would it be?

To have formulated a unified theory of quantum gravity.

5) Favorite Bob Dylan song?

I’m not really a big Bob Dylan fan. At least not yet. “The Man in Me” from The Big Lebowski soundtrack is a good one, though.

16) Describe the Adam Lore of 2022.

The Adam Lore of 2022 is a big Bob Dylan fan.

He has written over 100 albums and has recorded 14 of them.
He has published two best selling graphic novels and lives
with his beautiful wife Jessica Alba.

17) Describe the Adam Lore of 2002.

In 2002 I was finishing up high school. Had very long hair.
I was in a band called Trojan Horse which was good fun.
Working on issue #2 of a mini-comic called Munky Monkey.

18) What’s your next — or current — project?

I’m always working on a bunch of different stuff at the same time, but most noteworthy is probably the upcoming album Ordovician Brainstation. I’m also re-recording my third album Columbis and working on some more Toad Road comics. Chipping away at a lot of other ongoing projects here and there.

19) If you had to choose between being blind or deaf, which would you choose? Why?

It would be horrible to be deaf, but I’d definitely rather be deaf than blind. Just doing everyday tasks and even walking would be far more difficult. Being deaf wouldn’t be nearly as debilitating.

20) Due to an accident, you can no longer write or record music. How do you cope?

I’m not particularly devoted exclusively to music over anything else. I think of myself as a visual artist first and an amateur musician second or third. As long as I could express myself in other ways I would be alright.

It is having an idea and not being able to get it down that really drives me nuts. So if I came up with songs in my head, but couldn’t write them or record them, that would be torture.

BONUS: Say anything to the readers that you haven’t gotten to say yet.

If you are interested in seeing what I am working on check out my YouTube channel at

And you can see my comics and other artwork at

And some of my music is available for free on

Thank you for your time. As Allen Ginsberg said, follow your inner moonlight and don’t hide the madness.

Why it Matters to Me That Green Lantern is Gay

…or perhaps that should be Why it Matters to Me That Green Lantern “is Gay.”

Without any question, you’ve heard about this already. Green Lantern is gay. That “is” is a present tense verb there, folks, and that’s why I have something to say about this. It is a fact that Green Lantern is gay. It is not a fact that he was gay, or always has been gay. And that’s a problem, because as progressive as this narrative decision might intend to be, it’s actually quite reductive, ignorant, and insulting.

The problem isn’t that there’s a major gay superhero now, no matter what the Parents Against Whateverthefuck groups would have you believe…in fact, they should be cheering this decision, because it makes it seem as though homosexuality is something that people can add and remove from their lives like an accessory or a piece of clothing…something to be picked up and worn when it suits them, and not at all until then.

That’s just downright wrong, not to mention preposterous. Homosexuality is not like facial hair…you don’t grow it out because you’re going through a phase or because you decided you’d look better that way. It’s an integral part of who people are…it’s what makes them human…and it’s always been there. It’s not a choice, any more than skin color, height, or voice is a choice. It’s part of who you are from birth, and while it might take a while for somebody to realize — or understand, or accept — that they are gay, that’s a gradual process of internal discovery…not an external feature plugged into us wholesale by some cosmic decider.

This reminds me in many ways of the hubbub over J.K. Rowling “revealing” that Dumbledore was gay, however many years ago that was. My concern then was similar, but it was overridden by my disgust for what she did to writing more than what she did to homosexuals.

In that case, it was a clear authorial trespass. As the author of her books, she was able to reveal anything she liked at any point. Until — and this is important — she finished writing them. After that, it’s hands off. She doesn’t get to reveal additional data elsewhere that isn’t sustained within the novels. I’ll admit openly that I haven’t read them…but I’ve known many people who have, and they’ve shared the same concern: there doesn’t seem to be anything in the novels that sustains such a reading. Certainly one could make it fit, just as we could make fit anything we’d like to imagine while we’re reading a book, chalking it up to it being one of the hundreds of trillions of things an author doesn’t tell us along the way but which we would like to believe is true anyway, but this isn’t a case of imagination…this is a case of after the fact authorial insistence.

Whatever else it may be, that’s bad writing. Either Dumbledore was gay all along and Rowling didn’t know how to handle that as an author and so she just stored it away for later blurting at a press conference, or he wasn’t gay until the moment she said he was, at which point she demonstrated an enormous disrespect to the world she created, and the imaginations of her readers that have taken them in other directions. Readers are supposed to meet books halfway…whatever they get out of it, whatever they hear, wherever their magical journey takes them, then that’s what they get from the experience. Rowling of all people should have known better about magical journeys. The author doesn’t get to inject details via syringe long after the fact.

In this case, though, it’s a comic book. Comic books have multiple authors, they span multiple generations, and there’s not just one author. What one might use as the groundwork for his character might be manipulated, discarded, or inverted by his successor. We can argue about the merits of that as well, but, for now, it’s a fact we have to take as read.

The problem, though, is that it’s still the same character. It’s a character that’s had a wealth of experiences and left an enormous imprint on his fans…fans who know every detail about what he’s actually said, done, and accomplished.

And now he’s gay. Just like that.

He wasn’t gay in the background. He wasn’t coming to grips with his sexuality for years. And he wasn’t just waiting for the perfect moment to reveal to those who care about him that he harbors a secret. He was just one thing yesterday, and another today. He donned his homosexuality like a wristwatch. Maybe he’ll like this wristwatch, or maybe he’ll take it off again once everybody gets annoyed by its loud ticking.

That’s unfair. That’s not how homosexuality works…scratch that. That’s not how humanity works. That’s not how people work.

It’s not a decision, it’s not an immediate restructuring. This is something people learn over the course of a lifetime. For Green Lantern and Dumbledore, apparently, they just become gay because someone said so. That’s terrible writing, and even worse humanity.

Regarding this radical change in which one person we’ve been learning about for so many years is killed off and replaced by a person similar in all ways but also gay, writer James Robinson said this: “It’s a realistic depiction of society. You have to move with the times.”

You’re not moving with the times at all. You’re reducing homosexuality to a character trait that can be picked up or discarded at will…that’s emphatically behind the times. That’s the mentality that keeps gays from marrying, or being recognized as functional human beings. If someone can just snap into gayness, well, just don’t snap that way and you can marry and be respected and do all the things us normal folks so love to do. That’s wrong, Robinson.

That’s wrong.

Think of it as though this weren’t a question of sexuality. Think of it as though this were a question of race. Batman, in an issue to debut next month, is revealed to be black.

Not a new Batman. Not somebody else who becomes Batman because Bruce Wayne dies. But the Batman we know. The same guy. The dead parents, the wise butler, the wonderful toys. The one we’ve seen in countless movies and comics and on television.

He’s black. And he always was. That’s the grand reveal.

Could that possibly make any sense whatsoever? It’d be absurd. It wouldn’t get people up in arms about reductivism, because it’d so clearly be impossible.

That’s what we’re dealing with now. Only the impossibility is being ignored. Not debated…just ignored.

I can’t think of a worse way to treat homosexuals than by demeaning the fact that their sexuality has shaped them, affected their lives, and helped them grow into the individuals they are today.

Green Lantern is gay, Batman is black, Wonder Woman actually contains a misplaced space and she’s really Wonderwo Man, and Poochie died on the way back to his home planet.

“It makes sense because we said it makes sense. It goes this way because we say it goes this way.” I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anything worse than that to say to a homosexual man, woman, or child today.

Four Great Ongoing Critiques

As they say, everybody’s a critic. As they should say immediately afterward, “Not everybody’s good at it, but there you go.”

Criticism is difficult to perform intelligently. I should know; I’m a particularly shitty critic myself. But every so often some anonymous stranger on the internet says something that — against all odds — turns out to be extremely insightful. From there, a great series of ongoing criticism can be born, and I wanted to take some time to share with you four of my absolute favorites.

This is not just a list of links…these are sincerely fantastic critical explorations that I endorse wholeheartedly.

1) Fred Clark’s Dissections of the Left Behind series.

For the past nine years (incredible but true) Fred Clark of Slacktivist has been analyzing page by agonizing page the entirety of the Left Behind series. For those who are unfamiliar with the series, here it is in a nutshell: God loves me, but not you. Fred, being a religious man himself, is appalled by the many levels of spiritual, literary and humanitarian stupidity on display in these pages, and he pulls them apart gorgeously. It’s a discussion about bad writing, yes, but it’s also a learning experience. I challenge any writer to come away from this series without being significantly more aware of the mistakes he or she is already making. You can check out his archive starting here, but many of the posts have annoyingly gone missing thanks to a change in URL. Regardless, he’s only recently begun the third book in the series, Nicolae, Rise of the Antichrist, and you can read these posts as they go up…which is the best way to enjoy them. First post here.

2) Dead Homer Society’s Discussions of Modern Simpsons.
We can argue all day about when The Simpsons officially became a shadow of its former self, but there’s really no arguing against the fact that it is a shadow of its former self. Dead Homer Society offers a shockingly sharp look at the current state of the show, with every new episode handled over at least four posts: a preview, a next-day recap, a feature that compares and contrasts it with an episode from the show’s golden years, and a transcript of a live chat discussing all aspects of the episode. It’s a surprisingly respectful way of conversing about a show that so clearly disappoints them in every way, and it makes for fascinating reading. Or, at least, it did. Yes, for Season 24 Dead Homer Society will be scaling back coverage, which is disappointing…but they will still be in operation, and — likely — just as worthy of your and my time. They’ve also released a fantastic new ebook called Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead that you can buy from Amazon or read for free here.

3) ProtonJon’s “Let’s Play Superman 64.”
The Let’s Play is a strange beast. I’ve recorded some myself, but even so I can’t say that I’m sure why people want to watch as somebody else plays video games for them. ProtonJon’s brilliantly exhaustive trek through Superman 64, however, is a glorious exception to a tedious norm. Two years into the project and with only 6 stages under his belt, it’s clear that ProtonJon has a lot to say. He spotlights glitches from the games, discusses characters both inside and outside of their roles in this adventure, and generally goes out of his way to provide fascinating — and sometimes exclusive — information along the way. Superman 64 is widely reviled as one of the worst video games of all time…and rightly so. ProtonJon can’t — and won’t — defend the game on its merits…but he sure does have a lot of fun pulling it apart to learn everything he can about the many, many ways in which it went wrong. From interviewing the developers to playing it alongside other Superman games to comparing it to unreleased beta footage, ProtonJon has taken an effortless YouTube staple and elevated it to the status of genuine — and remarkable — documentary. Tune in.

4) The Annotated Sonichu.
From the moment I started this site, I wanted to do a Noiseless Chatter Spotlight on Sonichu, the addictively weird creation of Christian Weston Chandler…also known as Chris-Chan. Sonichu himself is an unabashed hybrid of Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog, and Chandler’s comic is meant to follow him along on his exciting adventures. Instead, though, the comic sidelines Sonichu in favor of Chandler himself, who appears on the page — as he does in real life — as a man searching for love, and unable to grasp why he hasn’t found it already. Its childish art style and bizarre narrative flow make for an easy mockery, but The Annotated Sonichu takes its source material seriously, and discusses page by page the many direct carryovers from Chandler’s personal life that shape and enrich CWCville, the town in which Sonichu takes place. Family members, friends, his dead dog and strangers online who pretend to be females interested in him all make their way into the comic at some point, where Chandler uses his narrative authority to cope with them in the only way he knows how: with Crayola markers. Truly fascinating, and an unexpectedly respectful deconstruction.